Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rachel time

Rachel was about 12 and had gotten off the school bus and started the trek toward home. As she approached, she first noted that our horses were screaming and neighing outside in the paddock, and that the cause of all the commotion was standing in our front yard--three strange horses. So thinking quickly, she opened the gate into our back yard and put a handful of grain in a bucket to rattle. They obligingly entered, and she shut the gate. Then she called me at work. I didn't recognize the horses she described, but I told her to keep an eye on them (and protect the blueberry bushes), that someone would probably be along soon, and I was on my way.

When the elderly man came walking up 20+ minutes later and saw his horses inside a fence, Rachel said he nearly dropped to his knees in thanks. He had been following them for FOUR hours. Each time as he would get close to them, they would casually meander a bit further along the dirt road. No one offered to help him or would approach the beasts, and they wandered nearly 5 miles and across a busy highway too. After he got his breath back, he called a neighbor to bring his horse trailer and they loaded and hauled them home. The horses didn't look the least guilty as they were loaded, very calm, like this was a regular excursion for them. He told the kids that they could come and ride anytime, but liability being what it is these days we passed.

I only needed rescue once, it was while I was riding Willie. We approached a flat bed truck parked at the edge of the dirt road, no problem. BUT THEN!! There was this horrible pile of PLASTIC just past the bumper of the truck on the ground, and he just knew it would chase him down and eat him. So in a remarkably athletic move, he LEAPED upward and spun to the left, (Surely the equal of a Lipizzaner "airs above the ground") leaving me (not a trick rider, alas), in a Wiley Coyote moment, astride...Thin air? As I hit the ground, I thought, I'm getting too old for this. My hitting the ground was Willie's cue to gallop hell-bent for leather back home. Fortunately, he got distracted by some lush green grass in a neighbor's yard, and paused to sample. Even more fortunately, a neighbor had seen us ride past thataway, and shortly after, saw Willie fly past sans rider, thisaway. He got in his car and followed the dust trail and found me assessing damages. He chauffeured me back to my faithful steed, and I limbered up walking him back to that treacherous pile of plastic, at which he had the grace to look a bit embarrassed. I then dragged my aching butt back into the saddle and completed an abbreviated ride. The next day I couldn't lift my right arm any higher than my shoulder, and I had some interesting bruises too.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Times past

I've been doing some reading and some random photo browsing, and it has led me to a topic familiar to all moms; bragging on our kids. My goal is to relate to you here little snippets that I remember from their childhoods, things that may be forgotten for all time as I get older. I promise to keep to a minimum of cuteness.

Our daughter Rachel and our son Christopher were born one year and nine days apart, which was rather like having all the work of twins, without all the free diapers and discount coupons. Anyway, this story occurred when Chris was around three, riding in the car on the way home. Traffic was, as usual, bad. ( I wonder why they call it RUSH hour, don't you?) The husband has always found relief from dealing with brainless drivers by turning the air blue with invective inside OUR car where the only one listening would really rather not. So a few days before, husband and I talked about cleaning up the language when the kids are in earshot. You know, (try to) set a good example. So on this particular journey home, an idiot driver in the right turn lane beside us at a red light, floors it when the green comes, and whips his car in front of us, cutting us off. Husband takes a breath, then lets it out with a muffled Sheesh!. Then from the back seat comes a clear sweet little voice that says "Stupid bastard". Muffled snorts from the front seat, til we could get settled and tell him that those were "big people words" that must not be used by kids.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

this and that

Hello... could you see your way clear to leave me a comment? Maybe some suggestions, whatever moves you. Is this stuff boring? Just a quick comment SO IT DOESN'T FEEL SO DAMNED EMPTY HERE. Thank you, we now return you to our regularly scheduled program.

Little old Morgantown, WV is undergoing a real boom time now. I don't understand why, really, but everywhere you look there are big construction projects underway, shopping centers, housing of all kinds, huge hospital remodeling and expansion, a huge power plant. If someone hadn't been back to Morgantown in, say, 6 or 7 years, I think they would be shocked. I don't know where all the $$ is coming from, but I sure hope it doesn't dry up before they're finished. My parents used to live in a development where the owner tried to add a bunch of townhouses, and for all the years they lived there, those townhouses sat off to one side, half completed, and ever so slowly fell to rubble. The brambles and scrub growth now has even obliterated the foundations. Anyway, I found the sight of those failed plans sad. When I see ancient farmhouses all tumbled down and derelict, at least you can imagine them having once had families in them who were grateful for the shelter offered. Half constructed stuff leaves me with more of a sense of waste and futility.

I looked up the registration papers for my three horses. Blondie is the oldest, of course, as Willie and Maybe are her kids. I bought Blondie when she was 4, at the Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus Ohio, in 1986. I was, at the time, unemployed, having lost my research assistant lab job when the professor for whom i worked decided to trade academic research (ie, getting federal grants) for the security of doing research for Ciba-Geigy, a pharmaceutical firm, where the money is great, but your freedom to pursue a given line of research is greatly curtained in the search for a rosier bottom line. Financially, not the optimum time for a major equine purchase. But I digress. I went to the show in Columbus, saw an ad and went to see the mare, gave them a deposit, and returned to Morgantown to get my horse trailer and return to Columbus in the wee hours of the morning to load Blondie. Bless her heart, I know it was a tiresome noisy 5 hour ride to WV, but she traveled like a trouper. When she was nine I took her back to the original owners and bred her to First in Command, a champion Paint stallion; Willie was the result. He is a solid bay, no Paint markings, just a white strip on his nose, and so is registered "for identification" purposes. He's a little high strung, but sweet. Two years later Blondie went to a small town nearby where a guy with a a nondescript stable had a gorgeous Paint stallion, Amigo, with a famously cool steady disposition. The result was Maybe, who is a blue eyed Paint who was so spooky by 6 months of age we took her to a trainer with instructions to either settle her down or sell her down the road. Much to my surprise, after 3 months, she came home a different horse. I could catch her in the field and halter her, tie, groom, clip, blanket, and work around without her trying to throw herself at the gate or rear and strike. When it came time to break her to ride, she went back to the same trainer, and we were well satisfied. At the time. Now? Well, I'd say she needs a little remedial brush up on manners.

Anyway, as I said, I looked up their papers because every spring we have this debate about how old they all are, and it turns out that Blondie is 27, Willie is 17 and Maybe is 15!!

It doesn't seem possible. All those seasons, all those trips to the barn, the nickers and the careful sniffing Blondie does when I go in her stall, the eager way she eats, how protective she was of the little ones.....That all happened DECADES ago! Blondie is not just "aged" but ancient! Assuming no upsets, though, she could live another 5 or so years. However long she has, when she leaves it will leave a hole in my heart. She was there through some very bad times for me, and although people with only house pets think it is strange to get so attached to a horse, I am heart tied to her, to all three of them.

Here they are,,, Blondie (waving "hello" with her tongue), Willie, Maybe, and then a huddle of the Three.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


All the horses are mostly full-haired, the dogs have shown great restraint in that they have not eaten any of the trash blown into the barn area, the cats are all bright eyed and bushy tailed (especially since all the windows are open now). So I will cross my fingers that this may be a month without a massive vet bill. Especially since this is the month for Uncle Sam to get his outrageous payoff. Don't you think that if a taxpayer making regular payments/deductions still owes money for last year, that when they obligingly send it off, they should get back some token from Uncle? I mean, I donate to several charities, and I'm always getting address labels, notepads, and so forth from them. Surely Uncle could send us, say, a bookmark? It could include a list of all the foreign companies that have contracts to sell to the U.S. materials and equipment that used to made here, before outsourcing drove all the manufacturing capability overseas. It could be laminated, so it would last.

Bet they could get them made cheap. In China, of course.