Monday, December 31, 2012

Best Quotes of the Holidays

The holidays always produce a few "laugh out loud" moments. Here are a few of my highlights.

At our office holiday luncheon, Maryann and I were eating the peanut M&M's off the dessert table while everyone else was eating appetizers. Someone jokingly said, "You can't eat those, they're on the dessert table!" Maryann looked at me, picked up the bowl of M&M's and put it on the appetizer table. "Problem solved," she said.

At the same luncheon, Lin was telling us all about a new theater that recently opened up and the hypnotist show her niece went to see. "They hypnotized her and she did that thing where you talk and swear at the same time," Lin said.

"Oh, you mean rap," Deb asked.

"Yes, that's it!"

We all laughed.

My brother and I were both Christmas shopping at the same time, in different stores. He was shopping for me and called and said, "I'm going to get you a present at Cabela's again this year."

I said, "You got me a present at Cabela's last year?"

He replied, in a slightly frustrated tone, "Look down, you're probably wearing it right now - it's that red jacket you wear all the time."

"Oh yeah, I remember now." He didn't get me a present at Cabela's.

The epic fail of the season came after Christmas. The reason I wear the red jacket all the time (despite the fact that I have 6 different jackets) is because my real favorite - the blue Rambo Ride and Ski jacket has a broken zipper. I finally took it to Hartford Cleaners on Friday (after saying I would do it for the last year), and they said. "Sure, we can fix it, but our tailor had an emergency in Korea and we're not sure when she will be back."

I took my jacket with me, and will try to find a different tailor.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Farewell to my Barn Dog

Ivy arrived at my parent's horse barn while I was living in Maine. A couple of years later when I came back (via Massachusetts and Nevada), she was one of a group of goats my brother had.

I've never liked goats. But I noticed that the other goats picked on Ivy. When it was raining out, she would be outside, because they didn't let her in the goat house (which was big enough for everyone). When they did let her in, she was usually off by herself.

Having a soft spot in my heart for an underdog, I decided to help Ivy out, literally. I let her out of the goat pen and turned her into my "barn dog." She had the complete run of the barn, and she loved it. Ivy had her own pen, the same size as the other goat pen, but she didn't have to share. She never left, was usually underfoot, and could hear the tack room door open from yards away; and was somehow instantaneously in the tack room stealing grain.

Ivy in summer 2009, enjoying her job as barn dog

She loved peppermints and had a strange lack of fear when she thought there might be a peppermint. She's gone underneath all of my horse's bellies while they were on the cross ties to get to me quickly; in pursuit of the peppermint. On more than one occasion I saved her from being kicked by John when she decided hovering around his back legs while he was on the cross ties was okay and he really wasn't warning her off. He was, but I moved him.

Playing with Remi in October

This summer, a guy was running by and came into the barn to tell me the goat was really close to the road. I went outside with him and there was Ivy, in the horse pasture standing between Lilac and Lily. He looked at me and said, "I swear she was just up there." I told him I believed him, but she knew when someone was going to tell on her, I told him to have a good run and crinkled a peppermint wrapper and Ivy came bouncing back to the barn.

Ivy enjoying the grass up by the road this summer

The last photos I took of her were in November. I went for a ride and even though I didn't have any peppermints, she was convinced that I did. She followed me up the mounting block.

And was patiently waiting there when I came back from my ride. For her patience, I did give her a peppermint. She had me well trained.

A couple of weeks ago, she began acting weird. On Christmas, I knew it was bad when I gave her a half a scoop of grain (a horse size scoop - not a small goat scoop) and she didn't eat any of it. She played around with it a little and then went back to her house. We think she had a tumor or cancer of some sort, she went downhill fast and died last night. I'm going to miss having a shadow in the barn.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Thoughts

Amidst all of the sadness of the past week with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have also been a lot of really great moments in the past week. I feel guilty having a good week, when there are so many people with so much sadness in their life, but I think its important to embrace the good moments in life too.

I spent the weekend in North Carolina with my sister and her two children. They are ages one and three. We made gingerbread houses, we had brunch with Santa at the Country Club. We made cookies. One of my friends from First Descents came over for dinner and we spent some quality time catching up. It was a great weekend.

Yesterday was another day with lots of little things that brought a smile to my face. John's whinny as I walked into the barn in the morning. A couple of good phone calls. Conversations with friends. A Christmas card in the mail with the reminder of an upcoming adventure for 2013. And the closing line of an email that made me laugh out loud.

I hope there are some happy moments in your day today too.

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but flipping through all of the pictures in my computer trying to find something relevant, I found Omey and me hamming it up for the camera in Peru. We were happy, so there is the connection!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Remembering Sandy Hook

I’ve spent the last four days in much the same way everyone else in Connecticut has. Watching the news, reading updated reports online and talking to friends and family about the horrific events in Sandy Hook; and the same questions and heartbreak keep coming up.

The Sandy Hook I remember was a quiet, peaceful town. It’s been about 12 years since I visited the town. When we were state FFA officers, two officers lived in Sandy Hook, and I went to their house several times for meetings. I still remember how to get there. From all of the reports I am reading; Sandy Hook and Newtown haven’t changed much; until Friday, it still was a peaceful town.

I live next door to an elementary school. Once in a while, I’m around in the morning when the neighborhood kids are walking over to school. On these mornings, I see two little boys and one little girl race to school. They look like they are in first grade. I root for the little guy that wears the monkey hat every day, and if I’m in the yard, say hi to his father as he trails along behind, making sure his son arrives at school safely.

Two towns away, the office I work in is across the street from another elementary school. In the afternoons, I hear the sounds of the children playing outside on the playground and often look up from whatever is on my computer screen to watch them for a few minutes.

The absolute joy and innocence of children that age is fun to watch and can be contagious. And it also brings me back to the same questions that keep replaying in my head, and I’m sure the heads of everyone else. How could someone do something this horrific? How are the victim’s families; the parents, siblings and friends ever going to cope with this unimaginable loss? And what about everyone else who witnessed it and now has to put their lives back together?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, and I’m sure you don’t either. I’m sure as the days and weeks pass, there will be many conversations addressing those questions.

This week, I am focusing on honoring the memories of the children and teachers; and supporting the family and friends they left behind, because that is what each of us can do for them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Once In A Lifetime Experience

When I talk to people about my recent trip to Peru with First Descents, almost everyone says, "Wow, that was a once in a lifetime experience."

My friend took this photo of me hiking in Peru

And I think, well, yes it was, but I want to do something like that again very soon. Why should we only have these awesome things happen to us once in a lifetime (besides the pesky facts that they are expensive, require vacation time from work, someone to feed your horses, etc)?

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been working on an article for Massachusetts Horse magazine and have talked to some really incredible horse people.

One horse trainer I talked to did the "Best of America by Horseback" ride in 2009 from Mexico to Canada with two of her geldings. She also regularly goes riding with Windwalker Expeditions in Arizona. These guys are endurance riders that take people out riding through Arizona. I can guarantee you that will be on my next Trail Ride Bucket List blog.

And then I went to another barn in Massachusetts this past weekend for an interview for the same article. The barn owner was telling me about this ranch she goes to in Idaho where she does weeklong horse drives, the Silver Spur Ranch. It's not a head to tail horseback riding vacation - it's real riding for experienced riders. Silver Spur Ranch will be on the bucket list too! But the barn owner said something that really stuck when she was telling me more about the ranch in a follow-up email:

"I can guarantee you, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience (one that I’ve done for 7 years now) it’s that fun! And exciting!"

At the end of the day, there are really only two things I want out of life. I want to ride my horses and I want to travel. I guess I better get back to work and figure out how I can pay for all of these adventures with my own horses and once in a lifetime experiences, because I can guarantee you, Peru was not my last!

Monday, December 10, 2012

We'll Be Singing....

When We're Sleeping?

This post is for all of you that have ever slept in the same camper at a horse show, or barn at a fair as me.

We'll start with the background information to the above statement. The year was 1996 - I was 16 years old and it was the weekend of the Tolland County 4-H Fair. My horse was one of two horses staying at the fair and I slept over in the barn with her. In the same barn were the beef cows and some turkeys. It should be noted here that I hate turkeys (and all poultry in general).

I woke up in the morning and was feeding my horse and all of that fun stuff when Mrs. Holden, who had been chaperoning us overnight in the barn, came back to the barn looking like she wanted to kill me. I said, "What did I do?!?" Natalie started laughing. Apparently sometime in the middle of the night I had started screaming bloody murder and woke everyone (except myself) up. Mrs. Holden said she nearly had a heart attack and asked what I had been dreaming about. All I could remember was feathers flapping. Damn turkeys.

Fast forward to 2008 and I repeat the same performance (minus the turkeys) in my friend's camper at Massachusetts Morgan Horse Show. Jill and Shannon were scared to death, I have no idea why I was screaming that time.

Two weeks earlier, in a different friend's camper at New England Morgan Horse Show, Jade woke up in the night to me trying to put the overcheck on a driving horse as it went to a class. Debbie laughed and said no one was showing at that time of night.

Despite the sleep deprivation, they've all stayed friends with me.

In my own defense, I was diagnosed with cancer a month after Massachusetts Morgan Horse Show in 2008. And it was at that same horse show that Jade (from the New England Morgan Horse Show camper) read me the riot act about doctors being wrong and that I was sick. Two years of misdiagnosis ended because she is a good friend. Apparently chemotherapy didn't help my odd sleep behavior though.

Twice in the last two weeks, I've woken myself up in the middle of the night; in mid-song. I have no idea why I am singing out loud in the middle of the night, but at least both were upbeat songs. And I guess it's better than waking up in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

5 Reasons My Gelding is Fatter Than My Mares

I originally posted this in March 2011, but it still makes me laugh - especially now as John heads back into work from some time off - because it is so true.

This is the original post:

He works twice as hard as the mares, but he is fatter than either of them. I've spent a few days thinking and a few days watching them. This is what I have come up with:

1. Both mares are taller than he is, but I feed them all the same. Probably ought to change my feeding habits.

2. When the girls run around because a school bus drives by, John stands there and eats.

3. When the girls go visit the other horses over the fence, John stands there and eats.

4. When the girls run to the gate because I pull in the driveway, John stands there and eats.

5. I think four reasons is enough. Not much comes between John and his hay, so I guess I better come between John and his hay :)

*On a side note, I could probably add a fifth reason - John knows exactly how to tug at my heart strings and get the lion's share of the treats too. "One for you, one for you, oh, okay, two for you John."

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Day on Cape Cod

I spent the day in Brewster, Massachusetts yesterday (Cape Cod) exploring the trails of Nickerson State Park for a trail guide for the February/March issue of Massachusetts State Park. It was a very cool day.