Giving Thanks For Water and Food ADHD

Kinda gives new meaning to the phrase "watery grave"...

No time like the holidays for a little plumbing trouble. Fortunately we are old hands at digging out the house feed line/irrigation system lines. And by “we” I mean mainly my poor husband, although the boys are all home and helped with digging and filling up buckets inside the house.  No. 1 son inquired why I insisted it was necessary to fill up our 10-gallon Rubbermaid container, and I snapped: “Because we need enough water to do baking and flush the toilets!”

Now if that isn’t a heartwarming Thanksgiving sentiment, I don’ t know what is.

We have learned the hard way that even the “best” parts sold at home improvement stores really aren’t contractor-grade goods. Hose bibs, for example. And PVC valves need to be ag-grade or they’re garbage.

Fortunately HM found the leak and capped it off–it was stemming from the plumbing to the frost-free hydrant, which we will also be replacing. There is a reason why old people are so smart–we’ve had the “opportunity” to make a ton of mistakes.

Speaking of wisdom, I now know where the 3/4″ PVC slip couplers are at the hardware store, and where to find the 735 “Fast and Wet” glue. And yes, it says that right on the label.

“It’s called what kind of glue?” I asked, pen poised over my Post-It “grocery list” while HM rolled his eyes. Must be hard to have a sense of humor when you are ankle-deep in muddy water or something.

As far as the baking goes, I haven’t been involved in that either. I’m not a bad cook (actually, if you need something edible whomped up fast, I’m your woman) but I don’t get much satisfaction out of the act of cooking. The worst part about cooking for me is that after I’ve put something together and smelled it cooking I usually lose all interest in EATING it. It’s a bizarre kind of food ADHD. Reminds me of playing with cats–once you let them catch the toy, they don’t want it any more.

I also have a hard time smelling food cooking for long periods of time before consumption (like when a turkey’s in the oven for five hours before you eat it). I love the smell, but then I actually start to get irritated by it. And yes, I know this sounds completely neurotic (it bothers me to even admit this). I didn’t used to be this way at all, and sometimes I wonder if this has something to do with chronic pain–it’s like my nerves are on overload most of the time already.

So after showering the mud off, HM came inside to make stuffing and sweet spuds. He even got up early to make the to-die-for spelt crescent rolls so we could eat them fresh this afternoon. Meanwhile, I’ve been laboring over the stacks of sweaty clothing that Things #1 and #2 are generating courtesy of basketball practice, and feeling a little guilty about not making anything to eat.

But it’s all good. I’ll be delaying my arrival at the in-laws with a stop at the farm to take care of the horses. I plan to swoop in at the last minute before dinner so I can fully enjoy the heavenly food. Sound a bit rude? Maybe.

But everyone knows I’ll do the dishes.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Crescent rolls made from central Washington spelt


Makes me almost wish I liked sweet potatoes






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Another Cat?

This adorable creature showed up in our driveway last week, so weak from starvation she resisted walking.  (I will NOT give in to the urge to curse my idiot neighbors here.)

Last week I had a plumber at my house to fix a hose bib, and when he was  on our back porch, he noticed that I had a bucket out there with a rope tied around the handle. He nodded at my back fence–where my neighbor’s dog was yapping. “Have you been giving that dog water?”

“Yeah,” I said.

He nodded. “It really sucks, doesn’t it? I can’t believe some people won’t take care of their pets.”

Any name suggestions?


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The Utter Creepiness of iPods

iPods creep me out. There, I said it.

It took several months for me to be guilted into learning how to use the iPod on my smart phone. Am I the only one pissed off about the requirement that I must master a new mode of technology every time I just want to have a few jollies?

I violently hate the remote for our satellite TV. I gave up trying to figure out how to switch everything over so I can watch a DVD. I stalked around my classroom this fall like Dr. Frankenstein after I couldn’t figure out how to access a drop-down menu in the “new and improved” 2010 Word.

So, until recently, the little orange iPod icon languished unused on my phone. I forgot it was even there.  Then one of my communications students heard me make a crack about how I hadn’t learned how to use the iPod part of my phone. “You spend FIFTEEN HOURS in your car every week and you haven’t figured out the iPod yet? Aren’t you a communications professor?”

Nothing like a little embarrassment to get a person off their ass (or, in this case, onto their ass). I know the iPod user interface is supposed to be elegant. But when I grew up, the “user interface” was turning the radio on. Even the sainted Steve Jobs didn’t manage to improve on that.

So I sat and learned how to rip a few of my old CDs (after I installed, updated, and massaged iTunes).  I figured out how to sync the stupid phone (after humiliating myself by asking one of my teenaged sons for help). About two hours later, I was ready for Personal Entertainment Fun in the car.

And lo, let the list of resentments begin. Every time I look down at the phone screen to start up the iPod, I have to take my sunglasses off—naturally the easily-accessed buttons on my dash radio can’t be used to control anything. I resent the fact that the only thing visible on the digital readout on my car radio is the idiotic-sounding AUX.

I resent how using the iPod makes answering the phone impossible, since its umbilici inevitably twist around the emergency brake.  If I try putting the little fetus on my thigh to keep it handy, the gyroscope inside the phone decides I want to look at stuff sideways (which results in me driving with my knees while shaking my phone like a rat terrier).

And then, boys and girls, something even more sinister started to happen. I started skipping to my favorite songs. It turns out I’m listening to about ten songs over and over again out of the several hours of music that I begrudgingly uploaded.

I know that many people who love music will obsessively listen to an artist whenever they get a new album (and I happen to be one of those people).  But I’ve started getting the willies every time I find myself mainlining favorites…because now, I do this all the time. Not just some of the time.

And sometimes I (gasp) don’t even listen to the whole song.  

When I was growing up, there was no way to replay your favorite songs, unless you were sitting right in front of a record player or were willing to break your cassette tape with excessive rewinds.

If you heard one song by an artist that you absolutely loved, you had to be willing to gamble and buy the whole album. I still remember my excitement when I found a Donny Iris tape in the bargain bin at a record store. But I hated the rest of the album (what could possibly match up to the great “Ah Leah!” anyway?).  I remember glumly thinking that I should’ve known better.

“Favorite songs” back when I grew up were accidents, unless you could afford to buy an album every time you heard a song you liked. We stumbled on our favorites like lost twenty-dollar bills in the gutter. When a good song came on the radio, you sat in your driveway until the song was over, or drove around the block a couple more times. You turned the radio or boom box up so loud your parents hollered.

You savored those songs, in other words.

Now, digital music allows everyone to high-grade favorite songs as easily as picking a favorite candybar out of the trick-or-treat bowl.  You cull the best and leave the rest, and sit immersed in your absolute Grade AA No. 1 favorites for hours.  You don’t have to invest in an artist, or get to know their other work. There isn’t any gambling, and there isn’t any of that let-those-other-songs-on-the-CD-you-don’t-like-so-much-grow-on-you thing.

The last time I was in the car with my 17-year-old twin sons, one of them started shuffling through songs on his phone about every five seconds.  “Can you NOT JUST PLAY ONE WHOLE SONG?” I finally shrieked.

“I knew you wouldn’t like our music,” he smirked, and his brother snorted in agreement.

“I love the Gorillaz. Just play one whole song!”

“Sweet Jesus. YOU know who the Gorillaz are?”

The thing is that exactly the same thing is happening to me. I’ve started just taking bites out of my favorite songs and leaving the rest, like some poor half-eaten sandwich on the counter.

So why, after all this work ripping CDs and figuring out how to use the damn thing, should it bother me so much to have such instant access and control over my favorite songs? I’ve earned the right after going through all this hassle, haven’t I?

But the iPod’s leaching the magic out of music for me. I’m losing my musical perspective. I never have to sit through a song I don’t like. I don’t even have to sit through parts of songs I don’t like. I’m getting harder to please, and I feel like I’m turning into a musical snob.

My favorite songs will still be my favorite songs, but I will never relish them quite as much. They will no longer be happy surprises, shanghaiing me from out of nowhere to instantly change my mood. They will no longer indelibly remind me of a certain place or time, because I will have listened to them in many different places and all the time.

Now that these songs are all lined up under my thumb, I don’t have to be grateful for them. They’re at my service. I’m in complete charge of them, and somehow that makes them not mean as much.

Maybe I can go back. Maybe I grit my teeth and ignore the commercials and lame playlists and start listening to the radio again. But I suspect the iPod is like musical crack—once you’re hooked, you have two choices: either keep using, or sadly trudge through life while doing your best to ignore the fact that there is a hard, clean hit out there with your name on it.

 (Just in case you’re wondering what the top ten are: Elton John’s “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun,” “Fresh Blood” by the Eels, “Red-Eye” by The Album Leaf, “Brick House” by the Commodores, “Trilogy 7” by Abfahrt Hinwil, “Squares” by the Beta Band, “Music for Chameleons” by Gary Numan, “Zebra” by the John Butler Trio, “Mr. McGee” by Zero 7, and “Bones” by Little Big Town.)


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We the People

Note: Rant ahead. Bridge Out. We Will Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming At A Later Time. Etc.

I can pinpoint the exact moment I knew my career was gurgling down the drain: October, 2008.

As a small-time publisher for eight of the twenty years I worked as a reporter and editor, I often went without a salary in order to make sure the folks who worked for us got a fair wage.  I jerry-rigged our own computers together in order to operate our small community publication. We watched as parents took pictures of their kids at school events with cameras that were more expensive than the ones we could afford for the newspaper.

My husband and I were on call 24/7 for accidents, disasters, burglaries, unexpected deaths, and shootings. For the eight years we owned the paper, we never took a week off of work. We were responsible for printing every single one of those 400+ weeks. We worked through untimely power outages, freak snowstorms, and our Christmas holidays.

When one of our sons became so ill he had to be hospitalized, we still got the paper out. I worked through two of my own surgeries—including one serious enough to require a blood transfusion. We missed events our kids were involved in thanks to our deadlines.  When I found out in 2005 that I had an incurable chronic illness, I blew it off. I had no time to be sick.

And I didn’t complain. I knew that our work required tremendous sacrifices, but since it was a job I believed in, I did whatever I could to make it work. We didn’t win a Pulitzer or even any state awards—not that we ever had the time to enter our stuff into any contests anyway. As long as we did our best, that was enough for us.

But then the crash happened. Although we had invested thousands of dollars back into our business, and we had worked our butts off, we still lost over twenty thousand dollars when the guy who bought us out went bankrupt in early 2009. That was the money we’d earmarked for helping our three sons through college.

So at 43, I found myself out of work and without savings. My husband and I made ends meet working as private contractors for banks that needed on-site inspections of houses in foreclosure. We visited homes owned by gang members. We visited the homes of highly-paid school district officials and wealthy retired people. It became quite clear to us that what had happened in ’08 was affecting people all across the board. Every month there were more addresses on our list.

Every month, it was getting worse. That was what freaked us out. Every month, we would think this has to be it. This is the worst it will get.

After five months looking for a job, I lucked into a part-time teaching position at a community college. I was hired two weeks before classes started—two weeks before my unemployment benefits ran out.

However, as an “adjunct” community college professor, I have little hope of being hired on full-time. Thanks to my state’s precarious financial situation, colleges are filling few (if any) of their open full-time positions.  Adjuncts can only get a maximum of a 66% class load per college—any more, you see, would qualify us for expensive benefits that our employers say they cannot afford to pay.

In order to make up for being unemployed for four months again this year (my college insisted I was on “vacation” so I couldn’t qualify for unemployment when I was laid off), I picked up a course at another community college this fall. This college told me that although they wanted me to teach two classes, they could only hire me for one. The dean explained that if I worked three quarters in a row at a 66% load, they would be required to pay me health benefits during the third quarter.

And, of course, they couldn’t afford to do that.

So right now, I drive over 550 miles a week to teach at both places. My monthly take-home pay as a professor teaching a full-time load (three classes) is about $3,100. It doesn’t matter that I have a master’s and twenty years of experience in my field–every four months from now until I find a full-time job, I will have to worry about whether I still have a job.

So don’t try to sell me any bullshit about how hard work and bootstraps are all it takes. The corollary to that argument (at least lately) is that welfare/federal spending/taxation is to blame for our financial problems. I know from my experience as a small business owner that taxes were always the least of my worries. I didn’t enjoy paying them, but I never lost a wink of sleep over them. Don’t ask me to believe that increasing taxes will put anyone out of business or will keep a small business from hiring more employees.

And don’t try to sell me bullshit about how anyone who has lost their home shouldn’t have one in the first place. Unless you’ve seen figures on the number of people in your own town who are suffering and ashamed because they can’t make their house payments—well, you can stick it, because the truth is that the crap you’ve heard on TV is just too easy for you to ignore. When you hear a news anchor droning on about “millions of people who have lost their homes,” it’s easy to assume that those people all live somewhere else. Or that it’s only happening to people who aren’t responsible, people who are criminals, or people who are immigrants, or whomever the piñata du jour is.

The truth is that it’s happening right here—right now—and to your neighbors.

Perhaps we should have done some things differently with our business, but right after the crash, we received word from several major advertisers that they were cutting or drastically reducing their ad budgets. By November 2008, we had $18,000 of our annual ad revenue taken away just as suddenly as if a switch had been flipped. It was a blow that our business never recovered from.

So don’t sell me bullshit about how “more government regulation” won’t solve anything—the fact that there wasn’t enough regulation in the first place is the reason this happened. The fact that a podunk newspaper publisher in rural central Washington felt the shockwave so immediately and so deeply was not lost on me–I knew that if I was in trouble, people further up the food chain had to be in a dreadful situation.

The panic of 2008 cost me my career and every dime we had invested for our sons’ future. It cost us the business we spent eight years building. So don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. I do know. I lived through it.

But I’m not writing this to complain about losing my career—hell, I’m one of the lucky ones. I still have a job, and it’s a job I actually even like. My health and our personal finances will allow me to wait the decade it looks like I’ll have to wait for a shot at a full-time job with benefits, right? Well, a girl can hope.

I want to complain, though, about friends and relatives whining about taxes—and, worse, lying and bending the rules to avoid paying them. Why is it so hard for people to remember that taxes help pay wages? Am I so valueless? Do people really think that I’m overpaid for the work that I do, or that the work I do is unimportant? Nope, government isn’t efficient or perfect. But at least it employs quite a few folks.

I want to complain about the insanity of a culture which has embraced radicalized, end-justifies-the-means ideas about profit. Unbridled greed is more than unseemly. Greed kills people. Greed destroys the planet. We are running out of time to figure this out.

I want to complain about a society that reinforces the old myth that hard work is all you need to be financially successful—a myth that also whispers, of course, that the people who are out of work, losing their homes, or who are underemployed/underpaid are lazy. My own story tells me that’s just not true.

I want to complain about how the idea that people should try to live within their means has become an obsolete concept. In our credit-driven, worship-the-self consumer culture, we are led to believe that our happiness stems from our stuff. This is a lie. Avoiding this trap is honorable, and—dare I say it—patriotic.

I want to complain about how my country is being governed by the money and for the money. This means, among other things, that regular people will now be accepting more and more hardship and risk in order to stay employed—and fewer and fewer of us will be willing to speak up. This is a very, very bad thing.

I submit that personal responsibility—financial and otherwise—is the true backbone of our this country. Responsibility is what gets our kids raised and our old people cared for. Responsibility is what saves lives, mends fences, and keeps the trains on the rails. And this responsibility doesn’t stem from God, city ordinances, our Constitution, political parties, or money.

It comes from people. 

We will always have value, no matter how much our houses are worth or whether or not we can find a job. We will always have value because dollars don’t make the world go around—WE do. Our hands. Our strength. Our will, our perseverance, and our blessed cussedness.

Anything is better than our tacit silence, even if it means carrying around a goofy sign with a bunch of other people carrying goofy signs. Even if we’re afraid that we look stupid or that we aren’t saying quite the right thing.

We really can’t remain silent any longer.

We know we’re in trouble, and we need to see others admitting it. We need to see that other people–a lot of other people–feel the same way. We need to get this talked about, mulled over, and figured out.

We, the people. Imperfect union and all.






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Horses as Reality Bookends

The cuffs of my jeans are still damp from my jaunt out in the pasture to ask the mares in this evening. I don’t know how much rain we got today for sure–my guess is probably about an inch. That ought to help repair some of the bare ugly dirt overgrazed portions of the pasture. (We’ll see.)

By now, I should have cultivated the ability to be amused about how all of the annual precipitation in the central Wash. desert occurs after the growing season is essentially over.

But no. Sorry, but it still pisses me off.

I’ve been fighting a terrible head cold this week, and since I’ve been suffering through 12-hour teaching days (thanks to teaching at two community colleges and 200 miles of driving twice a week)  I think I can safely add the adverb “valiantly” (as in: “she was valiantly fighting a head cold”).

When I’m sick, the worst thing is worrying about the Dreaded Coughing Fit. I don’t know why, but I seem to be especially prone to these things. When I was a reporter, I used to fret about sitting through long meetings if I had a cold, since long periods of sitting still seem to cause these horribly fierce coughing fits.  Yes, I have interrupted more than one municipal government meeting in these parts by running out the front door while barking like an aggressive Rottweiler.

The Coughing Fit consists of a throat-tickle that will NOT go away, even after liberal applications of water and cough drops. My eyes water. I turn bright red. I look like someone who is mourning the death of a very close relative for about ten minutes. It’s very embarrassing.

I had one of these delightful fits happen during my first face-to-face meeting with one of our full-time faculty members last fall. I tried to be cool about it, but I wanted to die. I was really sick, and I’d just raced across campus to make a meeting with him before he left for the day. I’m sure I made an excellent first impression.

Last night, one of my favorite students from my mass communications course had a question after class. I felt the dreaded catch in my throat while she was asking her question.  Although I had my water bottle and a cough drop handy,  I could tell she was taken aback by my streaming eyes and helpless hacking. I tried not to be embarrassed (okay, YOU try keeping 24 people entertained for over two hours), but I still felt like a TB patient.

Anyway. On the way out to see the horses today, it struck me again how much I rely on them if I’m having trouble staying on an even keel. Sometimes I think that one of the main benefits of having horses is the very repetitiveness of farm chores– those daily feedings serve as kind of a reality bookend to all kinds of daily weirdness. No matter how strange or trying your day is, at least you know that at 6 p.m. you’ll be throwing hay…just like you did today, and like you did the day before that.

Tonight I got to see the “girls” as they seldom appear, because we live in such a dry climate. Whenever it rains like this, they look like Hollywood starlets to me–the wet creates  shining gowns that seem specifically sewn to enhance their figures.

And I thought, once again, how grateful I am to them for bookending my life.


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A Horse Must Be Used

Where is it written that a horse must justify its existence?

This attitude is something that goes deep with people–even people who didn’t grow up riding or ranching. I was reading a comment posted on Grey Horse’s blog last night that flatly stated that her horse Blue was being spoiled and basically needed to be taught a lesson.

I was thinking about the other animals we humans like to keep in close company, like dogs and cats. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard cat owners fondly complain that their beloved feline will watch mice run right by without lifting a paw…that they are neglecting their “job” and there really isn’t a “reason” to have them around.

My heeler hound never learned how to fetch, unless it was in order to play keep away with me. I worked with her a few evenings when she was a young dog trying to teach her how. It was quite obvious that the little turd figured out exactly what I wanted her to do–she just didn’t want to do it.

Annie sleeping in a "snow chair" the boys made many moons ago

I remember how astounded I was when I realized she was choosing not to follow through, even though she knew what I wanted. Weren’t dogs supposed to always be motivated by owner approval and treats? I’ve always known Annie cares deeply for me–she’ll still often fall asleep with her head resting on my foot. But she has never cared that much about my approval.

Although her attitude has at times been irritating to me, I’ve never felt ashamed when I’ve told other people what she’s like. It’s amusing that she so often has her own mind and agenda–like our cats.

So why does my independent, crabby, feisty mare make me feel so ashamed? Why do I get tongue-tied when someone says: “But what are you doing with this horse?” Why am I automatically “guilty” of doing something wrong because I haven’t been riding her all over the countryside?

And why is a horse not allowed to have a mind of her own–at least some of the time?

Sometimes I can almost feel my neighbor across the road shaking her head as I stand around in the arena with the mares–just hanging out with them. What does she think she’s doing now?

I can understand the low-grade disgust that people who depend on horses to get a job done must feel for someone like me, but I’m starting to get disgusted with people who think horses exist solely to serve–and if they’re not serving, some basic tenant of the universe is being violated.

I think some of this attitude must stem from the assumption that all horses are spoiled and/or dangerous unless they’re properly trained. I understand that captive horses must obey certain rules for their own safety (and the safety of the humans who have to load/trim/vaccinate/handle/feed them), but other than that, guess what? It’s my money to waste, if I want to waste it. They’re my horses. They’re not shown, and I don’t have to use them to herd cattle or feed myself. They’re gentle with the kids and people who help take care of them. I’m not hurting anything.

It’s just that this flies in the face of this idea that Horses Must Justify Their Existence.

The commenter on GHM’s post stated that she needed to worry about what would happen to her horse Blue (who clearly does not like to be ridden) if she ever had to sell him. The suggestion was to have the horse stand saddled and tied for 6-8 hours per day so he could “figure it out.”

Figure what out, exactly? That people have the power to make you behave, even if you don’t want to? Don’t most horses who have been worked with at all sort of understand that?

This makes me think of Carolyn Resnick’s comment: “Horses are abused because it works so well.”

Over and over again, I read about horse owners marveling about how horses serve as mirrors for human beings.  I’ve started to think a lot the past couple of years about some of the inhuman ways we treat our own souls and bodies in the name of “getting ahead” or earning money.  We deny our emotions and feelings and ruin our health in order to work impossible hours–and more and more often these days, people are finding themselves in positions where they don’t really have a choice.

Just like our horses.

The other night I was walking in from the pasture with the mares. I don’t bring a lead rope or halter with me–I just go out to them, they walk up to to me, and we walk in together. My “fillies” will be five next year, and they’re starting to act a lot more like adult horses now. Sometimes when I’m in front of the three of them I can feel my adrenaline go up–it’s not too hard to sense Friday boiling behind me when she wants to race ahead.  This particular night, she took a couple of running steps and then she stopped herself and fell back in next to me. It was one of the first times I had the sense that she was trying to be protective of me. It wasn’t like she was worried she’d hurt me by blasting me (which sometimes is a concern of mine–it’s hard not to worry when you hear a thousand pounds of horse take off right behind you). It was like she thought I’d be better protected from any danger if she walked next to me.

I used to get this feeling all the time from my old gelding Red, but since he tried to protect everything that walked or crawled on the farm, it was really hard NOT to notice his paternal behavior. I was standing next to him once when a barn kitten decided to climb one of Red’s front legs like he was a tree. He flinched but held himself still until I (mouth dry with fear over what I was sure was an impending disaster) pulled the kitten off his leg.

But I’ve never sensed this sort of protectiveness coming from one of my baby horses until just recently, and they’re far from what most people could consider “babies” any more.

Yet people find nothing wrong with jumping on and riding the hell out of their two-year-olds. And we expect these babies to be generous and kindhearted, to forgive our every yank on their bitted mouths–and to watch out for us while we’re on their backs.

Years ago I tried working with the abused Paso who showed up at our place (he’d been left to forage for himself). This was a horse with white scarring behind his ears and other spots on his body–a horse that no doubt had been thrown and castrated without any anesthetic as well as snubbed to a post and probably whipped.  I thought (stupid noob that I am) I knew enough about working with horses to ask him to try to join up with me a month or so after I’d taken him in. He joined up with me all right–he came in nearly on top of me, trembling. I had a sudden disturbingly clear mental image of him striking me because he felt that he had to protect himself.  I also understood just as clearly in the same moment that he was shaking with the effort of holding himself back because he was trying to protect me.

I never, ever forgot that. If a horse that’s been abused by human beings will still try that hard to protect one, what does that say about horses in general? What does it say about this crappy attitude that all horses are by default lazy and dangerous?

Maybe there are people who will scoff, reading this, saying I couldn’t have possibly “known” what the Paso was thinking. Maybe he had been punished for striking in the past, and so fear of injury was what was “really” holding him back.  But I have no doubts about what happened.

In my last post I wrote about the moment last week Fry turned and put her head in my arm and held really still.  I think now that she was trying to tell me that she was capable of doing more and wanted me to know that…it was almost like she was a little indignant about being put away so soon.

No matter how painted-int0-a-corner I feel in my own life, at least I have the luxury of not treating my horses the same way.  I can only hope that means something to them.

I know it means something to me.


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Aliens Have Stolen My Mare

After posting what I did about my exasperation with Friday, I decided it was time to spend some more time with her. One thing that never fails to make me paranoid is a sudden change in behavior…I’ve been reading about Kate’s gelding Pie and how they’re struggling to find out what’s causing him to behave so differently. And then there is the tragic story about Carson’s gelding, who was unhappy for a long time before he was diagnosed with a fatal intestinal blockage.

When things get busy in my life, my horses are used to seeing me at the same times each day–and usually just so I can look them over, take care of chores (which include a lot of non-horse jobs) and get back in the car. Even though I really didn’t have the time yesterday, I decided I’d just go hang out for a while and see if Fry was acting the same way.

Anyone else notice how hard it is to make yourself do something like this after something “bad” has happened? It’s not like this mare kicked or bit or really even “misbehaved”…but there was just something about the way she was looking at me and behaving Wednesday that really managed to hurt my feelings.  I felt utterly rejected.

When I drove up yesterday, Fry was the only one out in the pasture. As soon as she heard my car, her head flew up and she trotted for the barn, tail up.

Keep in mind that this is the same mare who the day before had been acting like she was hoping I’d disappear from the face of the earth.

I haltered her and we went for a walk…not a long one, but we did a lot of stopping and looking (she’s working on stopping when I do). She did an excellent job, and once when I praised her for stopping neatly beside me, she raised her nose to my face and blew (she’s one of those horses who likes it if you blow into her nostrils).

I found myself wondering if aliens had somehow replaced this horse overnight. What the heck? Friday acting FRIENDLY…while out on a walk? (It would help here if you could imagine the other two horses calling and carrying on just a short distance away). Normally she behaves pretty well, but I can never recall her acting so calm and affectionate when we’ve been working on something and her “sisters” have been going nuts. Normally, the reaction I have from this mare when I ask her to do something is something along the lines of: (heavy sigh) “Okay, but I’m doing this because I want to–not because you told me to.”

When I got back to the barn, she walked neatly through the gate for me, and while I was latching it, she turned to face me.  And then she put her nose in the crook of my arm and stood really still for a few seconds–even though the flies were bothering both of us, even though this was also something totally unlike what she’s ever done before. It was quite clear she was trying to give me a message of some sort.

I was astounded. This totally reminded me of Winter’s escapades with her gelding–how his behavior suddenly changed after a series of unfortunate events.

Seriously, people, I almost cried.

Moments like these are so hard to describe to a non-horse person. I don’t even talk to my own family members much about this kind of stuff…first of all, you sound nuts. Second of all, it’s really hard to explain why such subtle horse gestures like these mean so much.

After our time together yesterday, I felt like I could face anything the world had to dish out. And good thing too, as the world always has plenty to dish, does it not?




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