Monday, December 29, 2008

Bless me, Dressage Goddess...




...for I have sinned. It has been 3 weeks since my last lesson. I have sinned by omission and commission.

OMISSION: I have not been riding my dressage horse Montana, and lo, I have not practiceth my arena work, half-halts, leg yields, transitions, and verily I have done a big Lebowski on all my responsibilities in this area. It has been too freakin cold for much of anything, but yes, every sinner thinks they have a good excuse.

COMMISSION: I have eateneth of the cheesecake, the pumpkin pie, the cheesy potato dish, the 7-layer jello (yes she did it again), the Black Forest cake, the fudge, the mixed nuts, yea verily even of the bento boxes have I made myself a gluttonous feast.
And sundry other sources of evil fat and calories have I touched with my hands and lusted after in my heart. The rendering of which is that I am a sad blob before thine eyes oh Dressage Goddess.

And so my penance was to wallow around in the arena on the back of an impatient and distracted horse, whose eyes were themselves tempted by amazing almost biblical visions outside the arena doors: the Four Horses of the Apocalypse galloping by repeatedly, the Lost Snow-Plow as big as an elementary school forging and backing on the road outside, the dropping of great wads of snow off the arena roof in a screaming high wind.

I have resolved to improve my ways. So lunch today was miso soup and an orange. But I got so much exercise peeling the orange that I feel a bit faint, and a slice of that cake on the kitchen counter would revive me so nicely...

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Scent of a Horse's Neck



Little Offbeat Horse Pleasure #487: The scent and feel of a horse's neck. Montana's neck smells a little like clove and nutmeg. Johnnie's has a note of freshly cut grass.

My mother, who never did meet my horses in person but who loved horses from afar all her life, used to say to me, "Give Montana a kiss on the neck for me". He now expects these kisses and accepts them graciously like all other acts of worship that come to His Highness.

And on another topic: Here's a picture of the new sport soon to hit the dog Olympics: Competitive Treat-Chewing. Which dog can chew his treat up the fastest and then make an attempt upon the other guy's treat?


It always works out the same way. Rufus the New Boy a.k.a BadAss, finishes his, takes Gabey's and walks off. Gabe is left looking surprised: "Why?? Why would you take my treat??" Rufus: "Because I Can."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE FROZEN NORTH!



Click on the picture to see:

1. That I did not realize how tangled John's forelock was with ice blobs until after I took this picture.

2. That we were f-f-freezing as I tried to set up a cute photo and I finally just gave up and snapped his profile any old way;

3. That we are wishing you a very Merry Christmas!! Stay warm and cozy, give your horses special treats, and enjoy the magic stillness of a winter's night when the soft dark silence is filled with starry promise.

Much love to all my blogging friends!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Storm is Past!



Here you see the storm front's rear end so to speak. Yesterday I finally got out to the barn for some quality time with two feisty equines. Both of them get rammy when the weather is harsh and they aren't getting worked. I loved just getting my hands into their winter coats, knocking the snowballs off their feets, feeding them their lovely beet pulp concoction, and letting them soothe my soul.

Leading Montana back to the pasture we were walking into a 30 mph wind at 5 degrees above zero. He tucked his face down and arched his neck, and danced the whole way. It was like, "I'll see your Wind, and raise you Fire!".

John was disposed to translate his energy into merriment, so he tried to nibble my coat buttons, the beet pulp buckets, and his lead rope. Then he put his nose on the back of my sock cap as if to say, "You KNOW, I could so take this off!!!" He's a terrible cap stealer.

It had been one whole week since I saw these 2 rascals, due to weather and final exams. The yard was not entirely snow-plowed so they were walking in chest-high drifts for part of their journey to the hitching post. They did not seem to mind. I drove home once again amazed at the difference a horse makes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thank God they made It Home


The Roman Stoics used to say that anyone we care about is "a hostage to Fortune".

Last night at 10 p.m. my two hostages to Fortune finally made it home through the killer blizzard. What would normally have been a 5 hour drive took 10 hours; they were sometimes driving 25 mph on freeway with a posted speed limit of 70.

Every semi that blasted past them flung a tsunami of wet snow on their Ford Focus windshield. They were in near white-out conditions most of the way.

You can imagine my state of mind. I wanted them to stop and get a room but they are young, optimistic, and bull-headed. And they made it.

That was a good sight: dragging suitcases up the driveway because the snowplows had blocked the entrance and they parked across the street. I had cooked a supper for them but they were too jangled to eat. So dinner tonight is taken care of!

Little Rufus, my new puppy, was at first shy of these two big lads, and ran into his crate to see how things would go. It did not take him long to see the opportunity to add two members to his cult following and he turned on the tricks...lick hands, place chin on knee, dance in place, curl up in a new lap. They duly pronounced him a handsome dog and praised his silky coat. Gabey nearly had a conniption fit but he was getting his share of lap-time and attention too.

Now I get to kick into high gear with cooking for young lads: something I love to do.


I feel like I aged 10 years yesterday night.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Say Hello to my Little Friend!"



Yes this is Gabey's present from Santa, and the 'Scarface' quote just about sums him up. You remember that scene when Al Pacino bursts out of his office in the druglord mansion, after burying his face in a grain-bucket load of cocaine, and starts shooting everyone?

That's about the size of it. This little dude has a personality like Scarface and Gabey is in full retreat.



I decided Gabey's life was too quiet - we are gone to work all day, and he was getting more and more inactive. Well this will liven him up for sure. Rufus is 5 months old and was the last of his litter, and he has learned to tell puppies what to do. He is cute as a bug and I believe he saw snow for the first time in his life yesterday. It took him about 3 minutes to discover the fun factor of snow: you can jump in it, roll in it, bury your head in it, and even eat it. Gabe got into it as well, which warmed my heart.

Rufus is in this life for the thrill of it, whereas Gabriel is here for love. They will have a good effect on one another - I hope. As soon as they figure out that the same kibble is in the other guy's bowl, and there's no need to commandeer that bowl just for fun.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Abominable Snow-Dog



Yesterday I took Gabey out for a very long trudge through the snow, to our favorite cemetery where I let him run around off the leash a bit. He can't see over snow drifts so he will stand on his hind legs and peer - when he hears a goose calling, or a dog bark off in the distance. it's so cute but I could not get a picture of it.

Here he is wearing his little snow jacket and has just finished rolling and burrowing in the white stuff.

Little does he know: Santa is bringing him a very special present today. I will post about it later if all goes as planned - how mysterious can I be?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Horses and their Coats



My horses live out 24/7 in a pretty fierce winter. Their coats are, to the eye and hand, quite different: Montana the thin-skinned thoroughbred grows a lighter coat, John the tough Mountain Horse gets a fluffy bunny coat early in winter.

But it surprised me to find that Montana's coat was actually doing a better insulating job on this day last week, because he had the snow pack without icicles on his back. It had been snowing lightly for about 4 hours when I took the pictures.


Johnnie had large thick icicles on his sides, which means that melting had occurred and probably his skin had become cold. I wonder if his winter coat is more impressive to look at or feel than it is to fend off cold??

Montana's coat must have guard hairs that keep that snow on the surface. Once snow is there and conglomerated, it actually warms them. Winter horses! A conundrum. What I know is how much they love that warm beet pulp. Slurp!!!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

When Horses Hurt Us



Several blogger friends have been involved in horse-related accidents recently so I thought it might be opportune to swap war stories. Could this innocent looking face ever have scared the daylights out of me, to the point where I could not bring myself to even put a saddle on his back let alone think about riding?

In a word, YES.

When I had owned my OTTB Montana for about 6 months, I felt confident enough to ride him all alone in the arena. So one day as I was doing this, trotting along all brave and proud of myself, a barn girl chose to run by the open arena door in a flash of white: white t-shirt, white sweatpants, white shoes, and a flying blonde ponytail to top it off.

This white vision Montana caught out the side of his eye and it obviously unnerved him so off we went at a sudden gallop, with sharp turns to avoid hitting the walls. I lost the reins and got them back, lost both stirrups and never even tried to get them back (no mental ability at that point), and eventually was thrown off on a sharp turn.

To her credit, the all-white girl came running back and caught him which was not hard, he was just standing around with his eyes bugging out. I had landed on my shoulder and head, tore a cruciate ligament in my right shoulder, and was shaken up to the bottom of my soul. Tears, fear, knowing I had to "get back on", nausea, desire to sell horse immediately, bitter regret that this is what my lifelong dream of horse ownership had come to, all boiled away inside me.

I got back on and we walked a little, with me no doubt telegraphing my emotions to him quite clearly. He looked like he felt sick too.

This was not the end but the beginning of my problem, because I had lost the desire to ride. Completely.

I went to the public library and got books on basic riding, and on riding after an accident, and on sports psychology. Being a book person, reading is always my safety net. I continued to visit Montana almost every day, but instead of riding I just sat outside his stall (sometimes crying if no one was around, sometimes singing to him), and with his door open so that he could reach out and snuffle my hair when he felt like it.

I decided to set myself the smallest goals possible, and count it as a huge victory if I achieved them. So, being able to saddle him and lead him into the arena, perhaps even mount up and sit there for a few minutes, was a huge victory. Being able to walk him in a circle: even more huge!! Kudos to me!! Ice cream time!! And that's how we worked it out over a longer period of time than I would like to admit. He was fine as long as I didn't seem nervous. I also decided that although horses are sensitive, they aren't psychic; it's OK to be nervous if you do everything in your power not to project. La la la! Laugh a little, even if it a tad hysterical sounding.

One device a sports psychology writer described was this: Build a mental space called "My Riding Resource Room". Imagine a room with everything you enjoy: it's your favorite color, has a comfy chair, has your favorite snacks and tea, nice lighting. Into this room you will permit only the positive things about horses and riding: a favorite photo on the wall, your favorite saddle. The horse himself may or may not be allowed to poke his head in the window, depending! In this room is your horse-related joy. Visit this room often in your mind. Visit your Riding Resource Room before you come near your horse. Visit it after a ride and see if anything good has been added.

I painted my R.R. room burgundy, and put an overstuffed chair in it, and an espresso maker, and pictures of beautiful thoroughbreds on the walls. The saddle made it but not the horse, not for a long time. Finally he was allowed to peek in the window.

These wonderful animals -- we love them to bits, and when they hurt us it goes deeper than physical pain. And the fear can be very hard to manage. I still visit the R.R. Room 7 years after my worst fall and having had a few other falls which weren't so bad. It still comforts me. And the idea of getting/staying in touch with the basic joy of horses still seems to me the most important thing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sleeping Horses



Both my horses are enthusiastic lie-down-and-sleepers. Here you see Montana yesterday, looking like a big orange chicken in the haypile in the sun. His eyes were completely glazed over (typical), he was snoring lightly, and he took forever to wake up. Do horses dream??

While I was taking pictures of him look who got in the way:

My other gifted and talented equine sleeper. John will sleep like he has been shot in the field: legs sticking straight out and head and neck at random angle.

Come to think of it, everyone in my immediate world has a flair for sleeping. My sons can go for 12 hours straight, my husband can sleep till noon if not interfered with, and I can happily go to bed at 8:30 p.m. (but can not sleep past dawn, to save my life). And one of us wins the all-time Sleeping Academy Award:


Gabey's conscience is so clear that he can lie down, close his eyes, and be snoring within seconds. Now that is a blameless life.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Son the Guitar Player



Here's the closing song from my younger son's recent band set at a Madison Wisconsin night spot. The band, called Lords of the Trident, is officially an 80's metal parody band but they all love 80's metal so much that it goes beyond parody to become sincere tribute. My boy is the one with long hair wearing a toga to indicate that his band persona is "The Socrates of Shred".

At 2:23 my little angel has a very pretty solo I do believe.

As he has been home for Thanksgiving, we have had some home decorating projects such as the following:

which tasteful display I found this morning upon awakening from my innocent slumbers. I will give him credit though; as soon as I made a few sharp remarks about it due to the neighbors having emailed me this photo (which was rather embarrassing), he went out and cleaned it all up.

That's my boy!! The Socrates of Shred.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Woo hoo! An award! and beet pulp too



I am very touched and happy to have received this award from GreyHorseMatters, whose blog I always so much enjoy and also find very beautiful in its layout - just pleasing to visit. Stop by and say howdy if you haven't been there already!

And I am exploring the wonders of freshly moistened beet pulp as a winter treat and a medium for the delivery of supplements and my beloved probiotics. Here you see Montana tucking in to a nice warm bowl of winter equine health:


I have not perfected my system yet - it is still putzy and takes thinking - but before I am ready to leave for the barn I must boil a full kettle of water and put one cup of dry beet pulp in each of two containers with lids. When water's boiling nicely I pour over the beet pulp about 4 parts of water to one pulp. I let it steam while I put on all my 374 layers of winter barn clothing.

Then I load up baggies with their supplements and probiotic. I am now using exclusively Horsetech brand of both since they are fresh, very good quality, competitively priced, free fast delivery, and chocolate chip cookies included with each order! That's my little commercial for HorseTech; I'm sure I will receive a large check in the mail soon.

Montana gets Reitsport with all the joint stuff, and Johnnie gets Glanzen-3 for "hoof, coat, and attitude!". I see the attitude every day so it must be working.

I don't put the dry supplements in with the hot water because I don't want to damage them. The beet pulp will cool and expand slowly over the next 2 hours, as it sits in a picnic cooler in the trunk of my car wrapped in a towel. (Did I mention I live in a cold climate!) By feeding time after riding, it will still be just perfectly warm enough to make the horses realize they are getting a different sort of treat.

Both my horses adore this beet pulp combo. I do add a cup of sweet feed/grain to it just before serving. The probiotic (Pro-Lactic DFM) is super for preventing winter hay-belly, which I believe is gas and irritation from eating too much poor hay, and also for getting the max nutritional value out of all food. John is susceptible to hay belly and Montana is a bit of a hard keeper so they both benefit just like magic.

It gives me such a good feeling - last night I was walking Montana back to his pasture in the soft cold night, the sky stretched above us like deep navy blue velvet pierced with a million stars, all that good stuff in his insides starting him off on his long horse night of dozing and strolling and dreaming - what a joy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hoofs on Ice: Crazy Trail Ride



Events in a Harmonic Convergence Today:
1. The sun came out strongly, causing students to run around in shorts and tank tops again even though it was 12 degrees F.
2. I got away from work early and so did my friend Sally.
3. I managed to find my cell phone in time to get her message saying let's go for a trail ride.
4. We met at the barn and and greeted one another.

Now here comes the Odd Disharmonic Convergence:

5. Standing there in the yard was the lady who almost bought Montana a couple weeks ago. She had come to bring him treats. Emotions stirred all around.
6. Then the power company showed up in a fleet of trucks to make unearthly noises cutting tree limbs:

up high in this little bucket. The mini-cutter they used up there made a screeeeking noise that brought out the inner Flamenco dancer in each horse who had to pass. Then they cranked up the Horse Shredder I mean wood chipper:

and as you can see they kept it up for quite awhile.

But we did manage to get past it all by dismounting and leading. We then hit the trail and encountered the ice patches:


These were nerve-wracking and almost made us regret coming out, but we were too bullheaded to admit it so went on. The frozen creek was beautiful like a huge silver serpent:


And on the last leg of the trip home this patch of ice was illuminated like a sheet of molten gold:


So although we took a chance and encountered a few dragons, it was a good ride overall. Sally cooled off Annie in her new sheet:

And John betook himself to the hay pile even though the screaming machinery was still right outside his gate. "What me worry when there's this much hay? My mother didn't raise no fool."

Monday, November 24, 2008

TA-DAAAHH!!! The Bowing Horse



Also known as: Wasting time teaching horse tricks instead of doing serious work. Also known as: He's not bowing as much as I am. Also known as: He is only following the treat hand down in confident expectation: Gimmee, I know you got some.

But I love it! My genius horse John and I can surely take this act on the road if the economy continues to implode. I can sell patent medicines I will create out of honey and rye whiskey, and John can entertain the kiddies. Montana can come too and demonstrate his talent for drooling. Just the idea of a treat has him drooling buckets. Star quality drool mind you. Yes, we are secure; so blow winds! As long as I don't throw my back out bowing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Redneck Bra Poem

Last spring I visited my 90-year old Aunt Pat, who is as feisty as the day is long. It was a sad occasion: funeral. But when we got to her place after the service and the supper, she shocked the daylights out of me by saying, "Evie! Take off your damn bra! Get comfortable!" never before in my life had I been invited to take off my bra.

Aunt Pat and I then had a little discussion about the discomforts of brassieres. "Isn't it just the greatest feeling to take it OFF??", she said. Indeed.

We then went on to talk about the good old days when, surprise surprise, both of us had learned to take them off without taking our blouses off.

Ahem. You Might Be a Redneck's Girlfriend If:

You know how to do this: unhook your bra, slip the strap off one arm, and drag it out of your blouse sleeve on the opposite side.

Today after work I rushed upstairs, removed a particularly itchy and obnoxious bra, and wrote a poem dedicated to my Aunt Pat:

Take Off That Damn Brassiere!

To My Aunt Pat, who once surprised me by saying,
“Evie, take off your damn bra! Get comfortable!”

Now Life has many painful sides,
And hurts and sorrows sere;
But one thing every girl can do:
Take Off That Damn Brassiere!

When we get home from work, or church,
And feel our ribs crushed near,
We have not even slight regret
We toss that Damn Brassiere.

We love the way it shapes our front
Or keeps our front from hanging;
But we hate the way it aggravates,
And causes damns and danging.

It presses us when we should float
And squishes what should bounce
And so that Damn Brassiere goes off!
Regretted, not one ounce.

When we were little girls we loved
Its bows and lace and cheer.
But now we’re wiser, and we’d like
To torch that damn brassiere!

So ladies, take the lower road,
Be less than you appear!
And say to Hell with straps and hooks,
And to Hell with Thy Brassiere!

Let’s sag and droop with gravity,
And When Old Death grins near,
Let’s snap him in the face with our
God-Damnable Old Brassiere!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Horses Following Closely



Yesterday all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with joy at the very thought that a horse follows a human at the end of a little rope!

I was walking Montana on the road. There were puddles of ice and clods of frozen mud, cars coming and going on a busy Sunday afternoon, various horse incompetences had been witnessed by us both.

Such as: 15 year old girl riding bareback in her sock feet, as her fresh horse who had not worked in 2 weeks cantered disunited all around amongst 4 other horses under saddle in the not very huge arena. "Are you OK?", I asked. "Yes we are in our walk warmup", she replied. ??? "Where are your shoes?", says stupid me. "I don't need them because I am riding bareback."

Such as: No hay in the pastures for several days. The horses all had muddy noses from rooting in the winter earth for any shred of nourishment. (I am so afraid I am going to have to find another boarding situation - things are unraveling on the hay front here.)



But still, Montana is mincing along right at my shoulder. When he is happy, his feet hardly touch the ground - there's a cushion of air under him. And all 1100 pounds of him just allows itself to be led along, oh-dee-do-do, when he could so easily rip that rope out of my hands and go anywhere else. It's kind of a miracle really. Horses and people, even stupid people: why do they put up with us?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Eyes Have It

Eye message #1:



"Did you hear that?! Let's get out of here!"


Eye message #2:

"But did I smell treats in your pocket?"

Eye message #3:

"I know I'm cool, and I know you're crazy about me; so let's eat."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter is here, and the pasture is hellish


If you click on this image you can see both my little rascals wearing winter pasture finery: Montana in his burgundy lightweight blanket is off to the right and far away, Johnnie in the foreground is wearing his 'waterproof windproof breathable' sheet.

I'm always puzzled how any fabric can keep water and wind out, but let horse body heat and perspiration escape. However I won't have long to puzzle over this because John destroys horse-clothing as fast as he can. My personal best with him is 25 minutes for a fly-sheet.

Yes, at Time T I placed the $39.95 fly-sheet on his body, and walked away feeling proud of myself. I'm such a good horse owner! No flies on him, and no chemicals either! la la. At Time T+25 I drove down the road leaving the barn, only to spot John standing with rags, tatters, and straps hanging all about his head and neck, and when I unburied it, his face had a satisfied expression. Been there, shredded that.

So the clock is ticking on this windproof etc. but I had to do something because winter arrived with no advance warning. No gradual chilling of the nights, just two weeks of warm rain followed by 3 nights of a sudden hard freeze producing pastures that look like this:


The horses hate to walk on these frozen mud-lumps and little ice rinks, and so do I. When I took this picture:

John was just hanging at the fence trying to procrastinate on the ouchy walk to the haybale. So now we are all praying for snow, so much better for the horse feets to step upon than frozen mud! Tis the season.

And last night I spent a happy 15 minutes at the barn talking with other confuzzled horse owners about 'to blanket tonight or not to blanket???' It's not going to be windy, it is going to be cold, it's supposed to warm up to 40 tomorrow, but....and there's no right answer. Horse life = There Is No Right Answer!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

A last few golden leaves



This crazy little volunteer maple tree behind my garage hung on to her leaves longer than any other tree in the yard. Thursday afternoon she was illuminated with a sunset that broke through the daylong rainy cloud cover, just for a few minutes. I admired the tree's health -- supposedly, the stronger the tree, the longer the leaves hang on. This tree was just out there thumping, being busy being a smacking young tree, being optimistic and vital.

Sign of the times?

I've been teaching Aristotle's Metaphysics this week, and the formula "being busy being human" for expressing the essence of human life has been rattling around in my brain. I think our country is fulfilling the Aristotelian formula: being busy being human, being political animals, and creating a fresh future for ourselves. Good times, and have a wonderful weekend!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

She Does NOT want to buy him



Here is my roller coaster ride of the past few days:

1. Thursday night: Montana's Prospective New Owner (PNO) calls and says let's meet at your barn Saturday morning at 9, I'll give you a check for Montana, I'm so happy with him, I love him, he passed the vet check with flying colors, all is well.

2. Friday afternoon, I come home from work to phone message from PNO: She can't buy Montana, it is not about him, he is fine, but she can not do it, she will have him returned Sunday morning at 10.

? I am flummoxed. Thursday I had packed up all his papers, Jockey Club registration, baby pictures (as a 7-year old when I bought him), halter fleece, all the last things. I had cried and said goodbye in my mind. I was prepared to hand him over.

When PNO and I finally talked after phone tagging for one whole evening, she said it was about family concerns. She and husband went out for their anniversary dinner on Thursday and he got to talking: she's at the barn too much, he feels left out of this hobby, their family needs her home more, the new horse would take even more time away from them

With my friend Laura for moral support, I ended up retrieving him from her barn Sunday myself, and through floods of tears all around we achieved an understanding. Montana was upset by all the emotion but glad to get back to his old pasture buddies, who chased him around for a bit, then he chased them, then they all fell to eating as if nothing had happened.

Then because it never rains but it pours, that very same day (this past Sunday) I get a call from another PNO who wants to bring the whole family up from downstate and see Montana....Sunday afternoon! I told her he had just come back from a 2-week trial and might not be at his best, not settled....no matter, she says, we want to come today.

So! By 3 p.m. Sunday we were doing this:


And this, with the dad who wanted Montana to do western spins and sliding stops, but had never ridden in an English saddle before (his daughters teased him hard about his posting):



Dad said M's head was too high and they would 'put him in a martingale'. This struck fear into my heart for many reasons. Montana's way, when he is not sure what is being asked of him, is to slow down and do less. The confusion of new riders and strange aids caused him to be slower and more cautious than usual and I believe this PNO found him too sluggish. And frankly that is OK with me.

Here's the bottom line: I was so impressed with Montana that day. Thinking what he had experienced, looking at him patiently carting around all these new people -- two daughters and the dad -- for almost 2 hours, seeing the look in his eye ("I am trying to figure this out but it is gibberish to me") made me think so highly of him.

When all the emotion settles, I will make a long-term plan for working with him this winter; then something will happen to upset that plan, because this is horse life after all and nothing makes much sense in the end.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Do you want quiet, or do you want stories?"



My friend Sally asked me this question at the start of our trail ride this past Thursday, and my heart was flooded with happiness. You know you have found a great trail riding partner when you get offered this choice: Quiet, with the only sounds being the horses' hoof-falls on crunchy autumn leaves, the wind, birds, chattering squirrels, creek murmur. OR: Stories. Being a story hound and knowing what great ones Sally always has, I have no hesitation. But Sally knows I am a really quiet person and that she offered me the choice made me love her.

So she talked about: books, restaurants, barn gossip, horses, movies, children, college tuition, family, manners, TV, husbands, art, zoning, safety, horse training...I know I am leaving some things out. I mostly just follow the line of talk and say Amen from time to time. If there was a conversational gift handed out at some point, I was standing behind the door. So thank heaven for the gifted ones.



The fields have all turned to gold now, and the season is drawing in to its wintry ending. The little creek above was running quietly between banks littered with fallen leaves. "Margaret, are you grieving?" I love this time of year. John was in good spirits as always, and Sally took this photo of us.



And I got this nice one of her on her sweet young mare Annie:



When I'm on my deathbed I hope I can recall scenes like these from a golden afternoon with generous horses and talk like a waterfall.