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 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.