Twice is Nice

As a girl, I loved horse stories—Frog, the Horse that Knew No Master, Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka, The Black Stallion, and anything with Walter Farley’s name on it. I always dreamed of having a horse of my own, but that’s one dream that never came true. Bill, on the other hand, didn’t care much for horses having had an unfortunate youthful experience with a cousin’s demon of a Shetland pony.

We met and married in 1985 having struck up a conversation at a widowed retreat where we discovered that our first spouses had died on the same day of the year, two years apart. In 1986, we gathered up our flock of children and traveled to Vancouver, BC, to take in Expo. It was raining, of course, so we were wearing rain jackets. When we arrived at the Canadian Royal Mounted Police display, I insisted that Bill and I take a stroll through the stables. I walked up to a big black horse with a white star on his face and gave his nose a scratch. When Bill attempted to do the same thing, the horse hauled off and bit him on he arm hard enough to draw blood through his rain jacket. From that moment on, Bill has referred to horses as “people chompers.”

In the past year of isolation, we’ve done quite a bit of binge-watching of various programs streaming on Netflix. Several of the ones we’ve enjoyed are Canadian in origin. We were early adopters of Schitt’s Creek which has now made its way to ordinary cable. We’ve watched all of Kim’s Convenience about a Korean family operating a convenience store Toronto. Mr. Kim, the grumbly but ultimately good-hearted father in that, reminded me of Archie Bunker. A month or so ago, my media savvy sister, Jay, suggested another Canadian-based program called Heartland, thirteen seasons and counting.

Heartland is a fictional, family operated, horse-training facility located in Alberta. The first episode was tough going because it includes a horse rescue episode that goes terribly wrong, but it also sets the stage for the whole story built around a grandfather caring for his two granddaughters after their mother’s death.

Because of Bill’s horse phobia, I was surprised he was willing to watch a second episode and then another and another. We’re now into season four, and one of the granddaughters is expecting a baby. Last night, in a scene where her husband brought her a morning cup of coffee, she didn’t much want it, I immediately hit the pause button and told Bill that when I was pregnant, I couldn’t drink coffee at all. He replied that the same thing had been true with his first wife. He said that when Lynn was pregnant, she switched to iced tea.

“Me, too,” I said. “Instant iced tea mixed with that powdered orange drink.”

“You mean Tang?” Bill asked.

“Yes, that’s it,” I agreed. “Tang. I couldn’t remember the name.”

That was followed by a moment of stark silence before Bill exclaimed in amazement, “Holy crap. I married the same woman twice!”

The show didn’t come back on for quite a while because we were sitting here laughing. That small scene in Heartland revealed a hidden piece of our separate but shared histories that we hadn’t discovered in going on 37 years.

I think he’s right about that—Bill did marry the same woman twice, and that’s not a bad thing.

My DTR paperback readers have done it again. The paperback edition of Credible Threat hit Number 10 on the NYTimes Bestseller’s list. Thank you

18 thoughts on “Twice is Nice

  1. First, congratulations on the DTR milestone. Second, I am utterly delighted to find someone else who has read Frog! There is a copy upstairs on the shelves. I it nabbed from Mom and Dad’s used bookstore when I was a kiddo. Now I will have to read it again.

    • You will be surprised by how politically incorrect it was/is, but it’s still a beloved book.

  2. Last year I had to isolate in a back bedroom for ten days due to my mothers passing and me traveling to take care of her business. What did I do for ten days? Taught myself how to knit socks and watched all 13 seasons my (now 14) of Heartland! Love that program!

  3. My sisters wanted horses so when we moved to Scottsdale with a 2 1/2 acre lot, we got two horses. My sisters enjoyed them. I rode a few times but mostly had to clean up after them. My brother fell off and broke his arm. One stepped on our pet duck. Mom used to say that that 5 cent duck ( won at the state fair ) had a $15 vet bill.

    Lots of horses on the block. Our next door neighbor raced horses and in the spring would bring the mares down from his Prescott ranch to foal.

    I was never that interested until I started reading Dick Francis novels. Hal and I made a trip to England in 2000 to see the races at the Cheltenham Festival. Lots of fun and we even won a few bucks.

    Leslie and I visited a horse farm in Iceland in 2019 and will visit one in the Shetland Islands next year. I‘ll keep Bill in mind when I am there!

  4. Your subject line made me think of a local second-hand store where a friend of mine works. It’s called Twice is Nice, and for short we call it the TIN store. But anyway, for Bill to “marry the same woman twice” is a compliment to his first wife, isn’t it? because it would indicate that the first marriage was a good one.
    Your mention of the 1986 Expo in Vancouver brought back memories for me, as I was at the same Expo, and yes, it was raining. In fact, I still have the Expo 86 plastic poncho I bought in order to stay relatively dry while waiting in line. I was a postulant in religious order at the time, and as it was my birthday, the Sisters with whom I was travelling celebrated by treating me to the most delicious apple pie and ice cream at the Saskatchewan pavilion. “Memories…light the corners of my mind….” as Barbara Streisand sang.

  5. I too loved horses as a kid, and loved Walter Farley’s books, and any TV show like Fury. I especially loved (sorry for all the ‘loves’ but no other word would fit!) Heartland and finished watching several months ago – you’ll enjoy it all the way through.

  6. My husband and I have binge-watched all of the Heartland series! It was wonderful. Try binge-watching Longmire.

  7. I also love horses and movies, books about them. I had friends with horses and still do but never owned one.
    As to Heartland, I love the show and have watched it for several season, the stories are so good and at times uplifting and also sad. Last nights episode had me in tears until the end. I won’t spoil it for others who haven’t seen it but I wonder how they plan to continue because it left me a bit disappointed. I wonder what others will think. I think Jack, the grandpa is so caring and happy he has Lisa at his side. Tim, Amy’s father is good also, always acting so tough but has some mellow times too. Lou, Amy sister has some ups and downs also but is raising two daughters, Katy and Georgie. I look forward to the next episode.

  8. Horses are a girls best friend…at least mine was… congrats on the book…will look up today and order..happy weekend to you both ??????

  9. My wife and I adore Heartland! We pretty much binge-watched the first 13 seasons, and when season 14 became available in the US, watched the 7 episodes available at the time. The nexr 2 were dropped at the rate of one per week. The final episode finally dropped this week, and we have yet to watch it. We have company so we have to wait.

    By the way, the tv series is based on books by Lauren Brooke and published by Scholastic (so they have a definite YA vibe). They are hard to find. If you find them, they are expensive as well, probably because of the TV show. I bought the first one (Coming Home) but have passed on the others. So far. The full set comprises 20 books. Libraries don’t seem to have them and electronic versions don’t seem to be available. And I think they are long out of print, so you are at the mercy of owners willing to sell their collections.

  10. As a young girl growing up in Virginia, Horse craziness was simply expected. I read everything on your list – but how could you miss Marguerite Henry??? Her books were classics, Newberry award honorees, I think even a Caldecott. Misty of Chincoteague, King of War, Justin Morgan had a Horse… and so many…

  11. I like iced tea in the summer, but never thought of putting Tang in it. Thanks for ng the idea. I drink Constant Comment quite often. Like the orange flavor instead of lemon in tea.

  12. Oh my goodness–I felt I was reading about myself as a child, then as an older woman, though not as lucky in finding my own Bill! I so enjoy these blogs, almost as much as the mysteries. Thanks, Dear Author!

  13. Judy, you know I, too, love your blogs almost as much as your books. I rode a friend’s horse when I was about 10. The horse only knew one path so off we went and it went right under a tree branch that scraped my polio vaccination spot. Tore it open! Later, as a teenager, I went to a riding stable with a girlfriend who always rode her favorite horse. We got way out in an open field, and her horse took off running wildly and eventually threw her off so hard she landed on her back and could barely breathe. She begged me not to tell anyone, especially her mother, or she would never be allowed to ride again. I often wonder if she ever owned her own horse after she was grown. As for the best-seller list, of course, Credible Threat made the list! Who would be surprised at that?! I can’t stand any flavored ice teas. Just plain iced tea for me with lots of sweetener. I think that’s the only way they serve it in Alabama–VERY SWEET!

    • I never had a horse or riding lessons but I kept finding friends who did. One time I went with my friend Judy H to the stable where she kept her horse, and she arranged that I could ride another horse at that stable. We had a long meandering ride, but as we got near the barn, my horse decided he was taking the shortest route and went under a tree, brushing me off! I was so mad I caught him and rode him around that tree several times till Judy begged me to get off because my nose was bleeding.

      My much younger sister became a good rider and still rides in her 40s. I still read horsey books (Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries are full of them!) I always enjoy it when Jennifer Brady’s horses show up in the books.

  14. Ah, memory lane. I loved Missing and Endangered. I had to laugh at Butch eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich. I grew up eating peanut butter and honey instead of the ole peanut butter and jelly because my dad kept bees. At 95, he’s too old to take care of them, but I still love that honey.

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