Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Stuff & Nonsense: Introducing Celeste Parsons, Ohio Writer

Greetings from southeastern Ohio! My name is Celeste Parsons, and I live here on a 48-acre former dairy farm with my husband Jim, our Westie dog Spook, and assorted songbirds and other wildlife. Blessed with too many interests for my own good, I have a hard time finding time for all the gardening, fabric arts, reading, writing, and puzzling that I love to do.

One thing that my husband and I have enjoyed doing together since we were married 58 years ago is riding bicycles. We have used them to commute to work, run errands, and simply for the pleasure of exploring our neighborhoods, and since completing a trans-America tour in 2001 we have taken an extended bicycle trip (between 300 and 1200 miles) every year. As we travel, we send daily reports via email to a number of people, and several of them have asked why we didn't write a book. Now, Two on Two Wheels will be published this year.

More about other writing topics another time, but right now the weeds in the flower bed are calling.

Across the meadow
Photo by Celeste Parsons

Celeste Parsons lives in a log house built on a former dairy farm with her husband Jim, her Westie dog, Spook, and a revolving population of deer, turkeys, chipmunks, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. She has written poems, plays, technical documentation, and newspaper articles since childhood, and is the editor of Nelsonville from A to Z. Her first children's book, Wait Until I Grow Up!, was released in 2021.


Monday, June 10, 2024

Milliron Monday: The Recordings 6


Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith.

"It's now called the Silver Saddle. Why they called it that, I don't know."
- Jody Smith 

This week we continue Jody's archived voice recordings. This recording is from 2012...
    When we moved to Athens, Route 550 was Route 50A or 50 Alternate, but then they changed it to 550. That little bar that was there when we moved in was called the 50A In – they spelled it “In” instead of “Inn” – I don’t know why, it was never an inn, it was a bar.  They changed it to Sweetwater Station, which I thought was a really cute name because it was near Sugar Creek. Then when it was sold, they wouldn’t let them keep the name, I don’t know the story on that. The lady who bought the place could tell you the story on that. It’s now called the Silver Saddle. Why they called it that, I don’t know. I’ve only been in the place twice.
    One night Pete and I were driving along, coming home from a classical music concert at Ohio University. It wasn’t terribly late at night, around 9:30 or 10. There was this crowd on either side of the road. Wisely, Pete slowed down. There was a guy crawling on the center-line of the highway, too drunk to stand. Pete slowed way down, had to go off to the side of the road. The crowd had to step back. That was back when it was the 50A In. I don’t know how it stays in business now. I know one or two people go there. 
    At any rate, my son used to be there in his early college days. He used to play pool there. He was the pool champion. They used to have Happy Birthday, Pat on their sign out front. 
    At the time, Pat wanted a truck, so I bought his car from him so he could buy a truck. Every night I drove by the Silver Saddle in the car I bought from Pat, the highway patrol or sheriff would follow me. One night they put a spotlight on me and seen it was me and not Pat, then they drove off. I guess they were all friends. 

Have a great week ahead!

Connect with Gina...

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Winning Barrels: An Interview with Heather Smith, WPRA Barrel Racer, Author and Creator of

 Heather Smith, WPRA Barrel Racer, Author and Creator of
Winning Barrels: An Interview with Heather Smith
by Gina McKnight
Archived from the May 2024 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.

Heather Smith knows that success is determined by work ethic and intentional effort. Heather is a seasoned equestrian, a Women’s Professional Rodeo Association member, the author of several books, and the creator of She inspires “to give peace to troubled horses, create positive, confidence building experiences for youngsters, develop high-level, competitive equine athletes, and bring out the very best in individuals with varying athletic tendencies and personalities.”

Welcome, Heather!

GM: Heather, I read your endearing story about Freckles, your childhood pony. Was Freckles your first? When was your first encounter with a horse?
BRT:  My mom always had one or more horses and I have picture of my dad holding me up on one as a baby. My own first horse was one we rescued from a neighbor - a foundered paint colored pony mare. We rehabbed her feet back to soundness. Freckles taught me a lot!

GM: Describe your journey to becoming a barrel racer. Is it inherent nature, or have you had formal training?
BRT:  Even though my mom always had and loved horses, she never competed. I grew up in the Red River Valley farm country of North Dakota. I had a desire to do more than trail ride around home but we didn’t have a truck or trailer. My competition options were limited but I did connect with a local mentor and was able to catch a ride for my horse to the County Fair where I showed in everything they had to offer. I was definitely more drawn to speed events and always wanted to rodeo.  When I was on my own and had transportation for my horse, that opened up doors to traveling, competing, moving to Wyoming and connecting with more mentors to learn from.

GM: Where in the world is your favorite arena? Why is it your favorite?
BRT: My husband and have recently completed the build of our new home, barn, and arena on 25 acres. I didn’t always have access to good, safe ground. As someone from the northern US, it’s easy to think that being in a warmer environment will solve all our problems. But when the ground doesn’t freeze, you realize there’s a big difference between areas that have black clay vs. sand here in Texas. Our new place has native sand, which recovers quickly from heavy rain and requires little maintenance. I put a lot of time and resources into designing and building our new roping arena. It feels like heaven to me and I’m so grateful – it’s my favorite place to be!

GM: With a lot of accolades and time in the arena, what is the single most important tip that every rider should know?
BRT: I wrote a list of my top ten tips that is on my site (available here - or search for “Top 10” in the upper right corner).

In recent years I’ve reflected back on times early in my horse training journey when I thought it was weird or wrong that I didn’t feel I could do a good job of riding a higher number of horses, as others did. But I believe in quality over quantity. We absolutely need to put in the hours, miles and runs, but there’s a fine line between being great and burning out. Plus I don’t want to feel rushed or pressured to skip steps in a horse’s development.

My most important tip is - don’t lose the love and fascination for horses. Don’t let it seem like a job or something you have to do, but that you get to do it. Making it work is a delicate balance, and we have to do things we don’t FEEL like doing all the time, that’s necessary – discipline and follow-through, etc. But don’t put yourself in desperate situations. Winning is important, but it’s not the most important.

There are things we can’t trade it for once it’s lost… health, relationships, etc. (with ourselves, our loved ones, our horses, etc.). As long as we are in love with and fascinated by horses we’ll be compelled and pulled to keep learning and improving, AND we’ll enjoy it – that’s key!

GM: Take us through a day in your life with horses...
BRT:  My daily schedule depends on the season and weather. I always start with time dedicated to personal development or devotional reading, a few journal lines and working out. When I’m home my days are usually divided in thirds – I spend one third riding, one third at my desk working on my business, and about a third on general work and maintenance around our place.  I’m always thinking about ways to streamline certain chores so I can focus even more on enjoyable and/or income producing tasks. In the winter I ride in the afternoon when it’s warmer and in the summer I ride first thing when it’s cooler.

GM: What do you look for in a barrel racing horse? Breed? Disposition?
BRT: As with most barrel racers, I ride Quarter Horses. My husband Craig and I are in a phase of life right now where we’re enjoying the later part of the careers of a couple of our horses, so I’m starting to think about what I want in an up & comer. I have a few bloodlines in mind I’ll be considering. Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet really stands out to me. My husband loves Epic Leader horses.

I had a mare when I was younger that was really hormonal and challenging. Had I known then what I know now, I’m sure we would have had an easier time, but she swore me off mares and I’ve only had geldings since. Recently we bought some roping cattle and the heifers are so much faster. That really has my wheels turning about my future horse choices!

As for personality, I have to say I really enjoy those more laidback “people horses” that also have natural quickness and athleticism. I’ve had to learn to bring out the best in more high-strung types but it just seems more fun and easy with a horse that is pretty calm and confident by nature.  We have to keep them responsive but it’s easier to maintain them mentally, especially when competing in speed events.

GM: How important is tack and racer's attire for competing? Do clothes and tack matter?
BRT:  When it comes to both attire and tack I think comfort and fit is always a priority. Personally, I err more on the side of dressing up vs. down and am known to match my outfits and tack sets, but I don’t take it too far or spend unnecessarily to do it. I’m still wearing shirts and using tack that I’ve had for many years. I like things that are classic and timeless vs. trendy.

Back in the day Martha Josey really stressed that when you look good, you’ll do good. There have been times I have competed where I maybe wasn’t the best or most prepared candidate to win, but I always figured I could at least look the best (or good and put-together, at least)! For many years I’ve worked from home but every single day I get ready and put makeup on, wear jeans, boots, and a belt with a buckle no matter what I have on the agenda.

Being tidy in general, organized and paying attention to our attire and appearance does make us feel good, which helps us do anything better. I think it can give us a sense of pride and mental clarity, and we can do that without spending a lot.

Specifically regarding tack - safety and fit is critical. And I believe taking care of our tools is part of ensuring they last and will continue to be safe (leather for example). We should take pride in ourselves, our appearance, our horses, our tools, etc. We tend to take care of what we value and we should value those things.

GM: What other equestrian disciplines do you participate in?
BRT:  I mentioned as a kid I showed in 4-H. My local mentor suggested I show in every single class just for the experience, that meant everything – even showmanship and English classes. In college I bought my own modest truck and trailer and started traveling and competing in some amateur rodeos – barrel racing, tying goats and pole bending. In my early 20’s I was very serious about the goal of becoming Miss Rodeo Wyoming. Competing in rodeo queen pageants required completing a reining pattern, so reining became my sole focus for several years. Barrel racing has always been a top priority but I’ve gotten away from it at times to also take really deep dives into horsemanship and colt starting. In the last few months since we finally finished our arena and have roping steers, I set a beginner roping goal for myself. I’m definitely anxious to get back to running barrels and I’m not sure that I’ll continue to do much team roping yet or not.

GM: Besides horses, what do you do for fun?
BRT:  Horses are my fun! My entire world and life revolves around them.  My interests are very wide and varied, but nothing compares to horses as far as what I’m committed to spending my time, energy, and resources on.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
BRT: True quality horsemanship entails being an all-around good servant, leader, and steward. It’s working toward a goal of educating and preparing horses to do things outside of their nature, yet truly being a student along the way. It means we never stop learning and trying to understand them as best we can so that we can make adjusting to and living in our world as stress free as possible.

What we ask for them is such a stretch in every way possible for their nature. While we often have some kind of personal gain in mind, we owe it to them to make it as easy for them as we can. This includes ensuring they understand what we’re asking, that they’re prepared for what we ask, that we prioritize their health and well-being as we do, as well as make good choices in their best interest and generally put them first.  

They shouldn’t have to pay a severe price for being a performance horse. Their lives should be better because of what we do with them (and we should always aim to do things with vs. to), I really think that’s possible. I challenge myself to improve the lives of every horse I come in contact with in some way. This desire and a deep love for horses inspired me to help people in a similar way, which led to creating and my book series, which has been fun and rewarding!

Connect with Heather…


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Mylee's Corner: Beloved Bakery - Alfonso's Italian Kitchen and Bakery


Beloved Bakery

Alfonso’s Italian Kitchen and Bakery located at 19 West Columbus Street, Nelsonville, Ohio, has become my new favorite place!

Alfonso’s offers many different things from danishes to stromboli to loaves of bread. My favorite is the fresh fruit danish, a perfectly good danish filled with cream and topped with strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. It’s cooked to perfection and tastes delicious! It’s my go-to every time I go there. The tiramisu, cannoli, and brownies are also very good. I haven’t tried anything from there that I haven’t enjoyed and the prices are great for the portions.

The staff is also very friendly. They kindly answer any questions and put your order together quickly. The setup of the bakery is very practical as well. They have a cooler of drinks and provide plasticware and napkins. It’s a perfect affordable trip that I will definitely be going to more often. Check out their menu

Connect with Alfonso...

Alfonso's Italian Kitchen and Bakery on Facebook

Master Chef, Alfonso Contrisciani

Photos by Mylee

Mylee is a journalism student at Tri-County Career Center. She resides in Logan, Ohio. Mylee enjoys reading, writing, and crafting. 

Monday, June 3, 2024

Milliron Monday: The Recordings 5


Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith. 

"We named her Lollipop because I was such a sucker."
― Jody Smith

A few of these stories were told to me several times. Listening to old recordings, each one has a bit more information than the last. I have two stories from Jody about how she came to cut her long braid (will post the other story in the future). First, we begin with one of Jody's treasured tangible possessions, now belonging to her son, a picture of Pharaoh's Horses. Hearing the story again, I am certain that the memory of the old harness-maker was just as meaningful to Jody as the picture. Then, Jody looked at her notecards and we moved on to other stories...

When I was a young girl, we would go into town to shop. While mother went to the dress shop, my favorite thing to do was to go to the harness shop down the street. I loved the shop; leather, tack, and the smell of it. But most of all, I adored the large picture on the wall of Pharaoh's Horses. The old man who owned the shop was nice. One day when I went into the shop, everything was in boxes and the man said that he had to close the shop and this would be the last day I could see the picture. I asked him what I was to do if I could no longer see the picture. Could I buy it? The old man said I could buy it for five dollars. Of course, I didn’t have five dollars, so I ran out of the shop, found my mother, and she gave me five dollars. Pat has it hanging in his office.

When we first moved to Athens, the neighbor had a donkey for sale. I told Pete I bought a donkey. He laughed. He said, “You didn’t pay money for a donkey! They should have given it to you!” Well, we named her Lollipop because I was such a sucker.

My hair was very long from the day I was born until high school. When I was in high school, I was going with a boy my mother and grandmother didn’t like. Mother was always fusing with my hair and kept it long. There were bows and ribbons when I was younger. But then when I started dating, this boy didn’t like long hair, he liked short hair. Mother and grandmother were upset that I cut it.

I had short hair when I first met Pete. He wanted me to grow it long. I did, kept it in a braid. Of course, when Pete wanted my hair long and I let it grow, mother wanted me to have short hair. At one time, my hair was so long I could sit on it. It was a terrible nuisance around the farm. One day, I was out with the sheep and my braid got caught in the top strand of barbwire fence. It was cold and rainy, I couldn’t deal with it any longer. When I got home, I said to Pete, “Would you be upset if I cut my hair?” He said, “No, no.” I’ve kept it short ever since.

Have a great week ahead.

Connect with Gina...

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian. 

Stuff & Nonsense: Introducing Celeste Parsons, Ohio Writer

Greetings from southeastern Ohio! My name is Celeste Parsons, and I live here on a 48-acre former dairy farm with my husband Jim, our Westie...