Archive for July, 2008

Saving The Wild Mustang Herds.
July 14, 2008

Shooting Star, my own wild mustang saved from slaughter.

 Photo by Emily Murdoch

 The point of this post is a passionate attempt to bring awareness to the plight of America’s wild mustangs and burros. At the moment, 30,000 plus wild mustangs in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities are facing euthanasia. As if taking their freedom and stealing their lands isn’t enough, now their very lives hang in the balance.

Sadly, if you are reading this post, you have joined a new club — you, too, are bearing witness to the wild mustang extinction underway in the United States.

When you click on the link below,

it will take you to a wonderful article in support of a famous group of mustangs, Cloud and his herd, along with additional information on wild mustangs. I also added this link to the original post from a few days ago.

Even if you’ve never owned a horse, or don’t care to, these horses are your horses, too, and your children’s and grandchildren’s. A symbol of freedom and majesty in America, they are America’s horses, and they are counting on you.

You may not know it, but tourists from all over the world come to America to see our wild mustangs.

There’d be no America without the horse. The least we can do is protect our wild ones, and in thanks, let them run free.

Singer Sheryl Crow has also joined the fight:

If you (like me) would be interested in watching the documentary hosted by Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortensen and Peter Coyote, or to make a donation to help the cause, please follow this link:


This critical documentary film explores BLM’s past management history within the Wild Horse and Burro Program. The film exposes the current massive Western land grab by oil, gas and mining corporations exploiting over 30 million acres of natural Western lands in the areas of New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and others.

The current excessive land exploitation is affecting all wild life species including the American Wild Horse. To the extent that there are now more wild horses housed in BLM holding facilities than remain on the open range.”

Two million or more wild mustangs used to roam the west. Now, less than approximately 25,000 wild horses remain. 30,000 have already been rounded up into BLM holding pens, where 26 million in tax dollars is spent on their care. These BLM horses face slaughter and euthanasia, and the BLM plans to round up another 4000 or more horses by the fall of 2008.

These horses deserve to run free on the millions of acres of public land designated for America’s wild horses under United States law, as spoken by the people. Those horses presently in holding pens should be set free. 

It seems so simple: stop rounding up our wild horses. Set the wild horses free. Stop using our tax dollars to strip away the freedom and dignity of OUR wild horses, some of which end up at slaughterhouses suffering a horrific end. 

Most importantly, reinstate full protection for OUR wild horses and burros under The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

How many times must we fight this same battle? 

And that’s where we come in, as individuals. Our voices count, and we are all the wild mustangs have to count upon. They need you to use your voice to do what’s right for the horses, when our own government can’t or won’t.

H.R. 249:  To restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros.

–Introduced on January 5th, 2007.

–Sponsored by Rep. Nick Rahall [D-WV]

–Status: Passed the House — 89% Democrats supporting, 58% Republicans opposing.

–Last Action:  April 26th, 2007 — Received in the Senate, read twice, and referred to the Committee on Energy and National Resources.

Creative Courage.
July 13, 2008

“I’m sure that writing isn’t a craft, that is, something for which you learn the skills and go on turning out. It must come from some deep impulse, deep inspiration. That can’t be taught … “

Robert Lowell

What gives us the power to create? Do we need courage to create? What is creative courage?

I’m offering the posit that it takes two kinds of courage to write: creative courage, and the courage to face large amounts of resistance and rejection.

I used to hear it, and wave it off, naively: no one cares about the work you’re doing; not in general, and not out in the world. Radiating the loudest silence ever from where it reclines longhand in a notebook, or dormant on your laptop, the world doesn’t care about your work.

At least, not yet.  

Sure, your significant other cares (or should), your mom, dad, sister, brother … of course these people care, but I’m talking about the world at large; the place where creativity meets business, and the more important bottom line.

THAT’s the courage I’m talking about  — and then, to write and rhyme, anyway. That’s courage.

The possibility of not being good enough, making no money, getting no recognition, no audience, the rejection letters piling up so that you’re left doubting, for a moment, whether your dream of being a writer is anything more than a nightmare, mislabeled — and then, even then, CREATING. Creating anyway.    

I think about all these things as I finish building my website and blog page, working on getting everything straightened and dusted and ready for scrutiny. These addresses will be added to the contact information on my query letters, so that I may appear most professional and most serious about my writing career. (This, as advised by a “cutiepatootie” young agent on his wonderful agent blog.)

And, this agency will actually get back to you with a rejection letter, instead of the trend of some literary agencies to offer their silence as rejection.

This time, I promise myself, (which is akin to promising not to eat chocolate, but what the hell), that no matter how juicy the name and how awesome the “client” daydream, I will not query agencies with the policy of not replying as a form of rejection.

I will not query agencies with the policy of not replying as a form of rejection. I will not query agencies with the policy of not replying as a form of rejection. I will not …

I look around, as if I just uttered a demon’s name aloud — did I really say that? Something about agents, ANY agent, and out loud, and publically? Especially when I’m searching for an agent, myself?

In my defense, someone had to say something. Writers deserve at least that much respect.

Tonight’s Sunset.
July 11, 2008

Photo by Emily Murdoch 




If I printed out on paper all the sunset photographs I’ve taken over the years, I’d have a thick (and lovely) stack of photographs.

During the Sonoran Desert’s Monsoon Season, which runs from June to September, these cloudy days produce sunsets that take your breath away. On rainy days, rainbows, most often double rainbows, stretch over our house and disappear with their pots of gold behind gorgeous mountains that turn red at dusk.


Photo by Emily Murdoch




I make it a point, no matter what I’m doing, to put my work aside and watch the sunset every evening. Living in rural Arizona, I often have front row seats to meteor showers, night skies dripping with stars, twinkling planets visible with the naked eye and the Milky Way stretched like a banner from horizon to horizon.

I always feel as if I should be paying ticket money for all this beauty, but to whom?

Christmas In July.
July 11, 2008

“All is for the best in the best of possible worlds.”


In December of 2006, we took in a heavily pregnant female dog, a Labrador-Malamute mix (Clementine) and the most likely culprit for her condition, a male Boxer-mix we named Lucky. Both dogs were desperate, thirsty, panicked and thin. Lying in the only shade they could find, in the wash behind the corral (wash? think sandy river with no water) under a Palo Verde tree choked with mistletoe, the two dogs were panting heavily in the sun. Watching my every move with distrustful, guarded eyes, Clementine half-heartedly barked at me, protecting Lucky, but it was too hot to bark.

Easily bribed with food, water and shelter, a few hours later their ordeal was over. Later, neighbors would report seeing the dogs being pushed out of a white truck. The driver was angry and cursing at the dogs because they kept trying to jump back in.

Right from the start, I could feel the puppies squirming inside Clementine, and even glimpse an occasional puppy foot pushing on her taut, pink belly. Calling around, I learned that many places will abort litters up until the last minute due to the sheer number of unwanted dogs in the world.

But I just couldn’t do it.

Armed with internet research, and having discussed the process with our vet, Clem went into labor on December 18th, 2006 at 9:12 pm. Watching in amazement as life came to life in my hands, I rubbed fat bellies to stimulate the breathing process, cut umbilical cords and tied them off with dental floss, handed puppies over to Clemmy to clean, or, cleaned the puppy myself as she cleaned another. I was amazed at how well life knows what it’s doing.

During the nursing stage, the puppies were almost frightening; their thrust toward life transformed them into little hunger-demons, blind to all but the nipple. Clementine quickly became overwhelmed by so many demanding, unrelenting mouths, so I supplemented the puppies’ meals with goat’s milk, sucked one-by-one from a tiny bottle.

One of my fondest memories is weaning the puppies onto solid food. At that stage, we prepared a blender slurry of wet puppy food and goat’s milk and poured the concoction into a muffin pan, filling up eight slots. It made for a perfect, puppy-sized meal. The idea for the muffin pan had flashed into my head one bleary-eyed night at four in the morning, when the puppies were screaming to be fed and I despaired of ever having enough hands. How could I juggle eight bowls? Then I thought of the muffin pan.

Last month, we noticed that one of the puppies, Christmas, (a puppy given sanctuary at our ranch when she didn’t find a home), was limping. Cordoned off in a puppy play-pen in the kitchen to limit her movement, we made an appointment with a veterinary specialist at the recommendation of our regular vet.

(It brought back a torrent of emotions for me, since the last time we’d seen the specialist, our 16 year old terrier had gone into multiple organ failure. He was helped over the Rainbow Bridge that night. I miss him terribly. )

At Christmas’ appointment this morning, this time the news was good: Christmas doesn’t have a hip issue, but a knee injury, likened to a football injury, involving her tendon. It’s one hundred percent fixable. The relief in the house is palpable.

I’ve had the first lines of an Emily Dickinson poem in my head all morning: “Because I would not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me …” But this morning death kept going. We got a break.

Who knew hamburger with cheese on top could make such a fitting victory cake? Happy ranch dogs in Arizona, with hamburger bellies that remind me of the puppy days. Even my husband, recently complaining about Christmas waking us up early on weekends to go outside and play, had tears in his eyes at the good news. Summer feels like plain old summer again, with the worry lifted.

I only wish I had a big pin to pop the sky and bring down the rain so I could dance in it. Instead, I dance in the hallway with the terriers, who, on the command “dance”, stand on their hind legs and hop up and down with me.

Help Save The Mustangs!
July 11, 2008


As some of you know, besides my writing, my other passion is doing what I can to help save horses from slaughter, both domesticated and wild. Presently, a herd of wild mustangs needs our help. 

You can find information at the petition site:

Something as easy and as important as your signature can stop the death of these Mustangs, who were featured on a PBS special you might have seen: Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies.

These horses need human champions. You can be a hero, today.   

The Bureau of Land Management, which is a government agency managing wild mustang herds, is expecting a petition with 5,000 signatures. Presently, the mark has been reached, but the more people who know, and the more signatures received help not only this famous herd, but all the wild horses under threat of being culled. 

Please take a moment and sign the petition. These mustangs are part of our American heritage and deserve to be protected.  

Please go to the website:

And, for details about this issue:

Knowledge is power. Pass it on.

 (Editor’s Note: As news on these horses becomes available, I’ll post an update. Thank you for helping the horses. You’re a hero for lending your voice, and the world can always use more heroes. So can the horses.)