Author Archives: karenrsanderson

The spirit of Christmas

Screen Shot 2019-12-23 at 9.25.12 PM

Two young boys, huffing and puffing, drag a Flexible Flyer up worn wooden steps, banging and scraping. The boys are dressed like dark woolen snowmen from their watch-capped heads to their over-sized snow boots.

Mother stood over Little Sister, dressing her for the occasion – knitted cap tied under chin with a scarf, multi-layered clothing, and hand-me-down boots.

The three siblings slurged through heavy snow in the driveway, past the mint and white Chrysler with its push button start, into the snow drifts. The children are on a mission; they have their assignment.

They trudged a couple hundred yards – past the now-bald monkey ball trees – until they set foot on the school grounds, then ‘round the back to the dumpsters.

The school’s Christmas tree adorned the large lobby of Lora Little Elementary. After final classes marking winter break, the tree was dragged from the lobby and tossed unceremoniously out the loading dock doors. The tree is forlorn now, marked by several bent and broken branches and bent and wrinkled tinsel.

True to the elementary school tradition, this tree is twelve feet tall and wide as a 1950’s Buick. The Flexi Flyer is a scant few feet long, but none of the logistics mattered. If they did not rescue this tree, they would have no tree.

The three siblings dragged the tree past the sledding hill where one brother would break his leg, past dead weed-choked fencing where the other brother would contract poison oak, past the school’s towering metal and chain swing set where sister would jump, fly!, and dislocate her elbow.

Out of the schoolyard and down the home street, sliding down the driveway, around the house and into the back yard.

Much like Paul Bunyan, Older Brother dispatched his Boy Scout ax from its leather pouch and commenced to chop the tree to a manageable height so it would fit in the rec room.

They set the tree in a teensy, dented tree stand. They re-arranged the leftover tinsel then added their own stored decorations. Paint-flaked ornaments with misshapen hooks, delicately and laboriously placed upon bent and broken branches, until the tree brought the spirit of Christmas into the home.


Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

My history with horses

For the last four years, I’ve been involved in politics, protests, and purpose. I know more about this president’s* administration that I ever thought possible. It’s been a lot of bad news, punctuated occasionally with positive news for the side of good and for human rights. It’s been rather exhausting.


Just last week, I saw this picture (above) of a horse and young rider, nose to nose. The picture is not epic, just a girl and her horse. But something happened to me when I saw this photo. I started to have flashbacks; I was brought to tears. I realized what I’ve been missing is HORSE.

I exchanged messages with the originator of the post, and it turns out – that family is from North Dakota!

I remembered a lot of incredible experiences I’ve had over the years, hence…

My History With Horses

Sally Starr 

I remember watching this Philly-area TV show when I was about 5-6 years old. I remember Mom and Ang buying me a Sally Starr costume – vest, skirt (complete with fringes) and boots. I wore that outfit to bed. Mom didn’t want me to wear the boots to bed, Ang said, [sic] “Let her.”

Patches in the backyard

When I was about 8 years old, Ang rented a pony for my backyard birthday party. We had a pony in the backyard in suburban Wilmington! People came from far and wide. The pony’s name was Patches (skewbald or piebald, can’t remember which). But he was in my backyard.

Truitt’s Farm, Suburban Wilmington, Delaware

Just a mile or two from our home, there was a riding stable. The trail was short, but there was a barn with ponies and horses. Ang was scared of horses, but she took me anyway, probably because I begged. I rode. One time, I said I wanted to go bareback. She thought it was a bad idea. She was right. At the first turn in the trail, I lost my grip and fell into a pile of horse—t. I ruined a sweater.

Racetrack, in Maryland

I remember a time I went with Ang to a racetrack in Maryland, guests of her boss. Ang told me, “You pick the horses, I’ll place the bets.” My picks were personal –  because I thought the horse was pretty, or I liked the name listed in the program. I picked seven winners (win, place, show) that day. Ang kept the bills and she gave me all the change.

Pony Club, Suburban Wilmington

Ang’s boss (same one from the racetrack) at the DuPont Company had some muckity-muck position in the DuPont Pony Club. I think Ang pulled strings to get me in, because otherwise, we’d never be able to afford it. I attended the DuPont Pony Club for three summers.

I learned about breeds, how to care for horses, how to curry, brush, comb horses, pick hooves, how to bridle and unbridle and saddle and unsaddle, and how to care for tack and barn equipment. Total bliss.

Maine Draught Horses

I lived in Maine briefly in the late 70s. A neighbor had two Percheron draught horses, and I was able to visit them occasionally. I got on once – with the aid of a stepladder. Those beasts were so huge, I felt like I was doing a split.

Carousel Farms, Delaware

Formerly the DuPont Pony Club mentioned above, now trail rides and instruction. It was nice to ride, but carefully orchestrated so not as fun as free range.

Thoroughbred in Maryland

I once rode a retired racehorse somewhere in Maryland – the Where and Why and What-fors are sketchy. I mounted, and it was like zero to a hundred in a car, only no seat or seatbelt. Actually, no steering wheel either – I lost the reins. Come to think of it, I lost both stirrups, too. It was terrifying and thrilling.

Campbell Soup Heiress

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 10.23.04 AM

Somewhere in my late 30s/early 40s, I worked for a Campbell Soup heiress in Pennsylvania (filthy, stinking rich). Our crew cared for over a dozen horses, all with fancy, snooty show names. I never got to ride there, but it was good therapy, to curry, brush, bathe. And muck. And one of the most physically exhausting jobs I ever had.

In New Mexico

I hadn’t been on a horse in over a decade (probably closer to two decades). I went on a ride with a private owner, up around Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid). I remember we rode through town, right down the main street. Again, the galloping scared me, but I’d been out of practice for quite a while.

For those who have exercised muscles believed long dead, my thighs had a fire-breathing vengeance against me days later, and I thought I’d never walk normally again.

Painfully Lovely

I’ve been bitten by horses, I’ve been stepped on and kicked, I’ve been squished up against the stall wall, and I’d still rather spend a few hours with a horse than with most people.


Do you have any experiences with horses? Share pictures!

Do you prefer English or Western? 





Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

Summer is almost here

The first day of summer is next week, so I thought it appropriate to share some summer haiku. These are all from my poetry collection No Boundaries.


Fun summer pastimeScreen Shot 2019-06-18 at 1.32.26 PM

Crack of bat at plate and cheers

Baseball up and out.


Baked feet blistering

Bubbling shimmer on black top

Where are my flip flops?


Warm waves crash the shore

Bringing in surfers and crabs

Shells crunch underfoot.


Seasonal bathers

Vacationing families

Where’s the hot dog stand?


Delicious taffy

Corner of the worn boardwalk

Smooth chewy goodness.


String breaks flashy show

Teeny weeny bikini

Jump and grab a beach towel quick.


Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 1.29.03 PM

Crispy lawn drying

Thirsty for a summer rain

Aching blades of grass wither.


Drone of mowers

Neighborhoods and avenues

Lazy swinging-hammock days.


Please write your own summer haiku – remember –

5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables.

Try it!


“No Boundaries, A Collection of Poetry” is available on Amazon.



Filed under Personal Articles, Prose & Poetry

Spring has sprung!


No real “springing” here in Minot, ND, but it is Spring according to the calendar.

I’ve been neglecting my blog.

For good reasons? I think so.

I am going to university classes full time, and I will graduate in May with a two-year AAS degree in American Sign Language and Interpreting Studies. My first ever degree. Woo hoo!

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 4.15.30 AM


Also, I’ve been active with politics (mostly behind the scenes). So! My blogging time has been cut short, by choice.

But I still want to keep the blog alive.



Below we have some Spring Haiku. All these haiku are available in my book –

No Boundaries, A Collection of Poetry.noboundariescover-frontonly



Cold snow gone, melted

Plush tree limbs spread twig fingers

Stretching for warm sun.

Bursting and popping

The leaves unfurl like jade flags

Spring has sprung alive.

Longer days warm nights

Blossoms welcomed with kind hands

Mom tends the garden.

Black spots punctuate

Ladybug fluttering red

Teensy feet teek teek.

Queen praying mantis

Regal stance on the fuchsia

Beetles grasp her cape.

Eight legged artist

Web catches crunchy munchies

Crawl in for a snack.

Shut up tweeting birds

I am trying to sleep in

Give me a break please.

Bees bumble along

Garden smorgasbord buffet

Slurping sweet nectar.


What does spring look like in your neck of the woods? Will you please write a haiku about it?

Remember – it’s 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Try it!


Filed under Personal Articles, Prose & Poetry

Reinventing the alphabet

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 7.22.31 PM

Are you L-G-B-T-or Q?

Are you N-A-T-I-V-E-A-M-E-R-I-C-A-or N?

Are you B-L-A-C-or K?

Are you B-R-O-W-or N?

Are you J-E-W-I-S-or H?

Are you M-U-S-L-I-or M?

Are you H-I-N-D-or U?

Are you S-I-K-or H?

Are you B-U-D-D-H-I-S-or T?

Are you D-A-C-or A?

Are you I-M-M-I-G-R-A-N-or T?

Are you W-O-M-A-or N?

Do you have a place in the U-S-A?

Yes, you

M-O-S-T C-E-R-T-A-I-N-L-Y D-O!


Filed under Personal Articles, Words & Vocabulary

Polls for fun

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why don’t she write?

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 4.15.30 AMYou may be wondering why I’ve not been blogging much.

In August, I quit my full-time job at Minot State University so I could go to school full time at Minot State University/Lake Region State College. I’ll graduate in May, 2019, with an AAS in American Sign Language and Interpreting Studies.


And then? 

I don’t know what I’m doing after that – and I’m not worrying about it now. I do have my sub teacher’s license, so that’s a fall-back thing.


I have also been enormously involved in local and national politics for the last two years and that takes up a lot of my time as well. I’m making signs, organizing, campaigning, and demonstrating. I’m feeling a little Norma Rae!

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 10.32.24 PM.png

Eventually …

I’ll be back … eventually. I’m not letting go of the blog, but I’m giving it a rest.

So, for now …

Gone Fishing.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 6.06.16 PM


Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles, Uncategorized