Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pony Possession

After much thought and consideration, I have finally concluded that the recent issue between Tucker and I is entirely his fault.

Was it only scant months ago, when the sun was warm and the days were long, that I laughingly mentioned my "racehorse's" lack of motivation? I made fun of the fact that a Morgan mare outwalked him? Yes, yes, that was true.

Well, welcome to the change of season.

I must add that Tucker has been great (after a little convincing to get on the trailer) when I have shipped him over to my friend Sheryl's for lessons. Everything I have asked of him, he has done willingly, with me flopping around and trying to find my balance. (For some reason-age, perhaps?-my ankles don't flex and absorb the motion, forcing me to brace over fences. Added to my tendency to snap back too quickly on the downside right onto Tucker's sensitive back.)

I really felt like I was getting somewhere.

So as a reward, I figured a few trail rides were in order. The first one started out fine. The late afternoon light was beautiful. Unseasonally warm, it was the quintessential autumn day. We meandered through the harvested cornfields, fallen leaves crunched under hooves, and those trees that had not shed their summer finery rustled in the slight breeze.

It was one of those rides that reignites my deep love for horses. Until we headed for home...

Suddenly, I was riding a plunging idiot. He bounced, he yanked, and cantered in place. I tried to bend him, turn him around, play with the reins, talk to him, remind myself to keep breathing, all of the things I have been told to do with a naughty horse. Except kick. I couldn't bring myself to boot him forward. When I lightened my contact, Tucker took the bit and ran. All of those times I could not get him to gallop, he was saving them for now. I pulled him up into another round of bouncing and yanking. I turned around and sent him away from home. It worked until I turned for home again. And time was not on my side.

As it got darker and his bounces gained altitude, I made the decision to walk the rest of the way. Once I dismounted, Tucker quieted. At least I got my exercise.

Fast forward to the next day. I was on a mission. We left earlier and I chose a route that offered a plethora of options. Same thing. Nice ride out. Turn for home and off to the rodeo!

I stayed with him longer, chose alternate routes to confuse him, but he knew which way meant home. And again, I was running out of daylight. And guts. There is something about being on a plunging beast alone in the woods to make you remember you are not immortal. There is the everpresent possiblity of bodily harm-especially on a rock-strewn, windy, undulating trail.

I gave it a good fight, battling between the leaping and galloping sideways, but in the end, I dismounted and did the long walk of shame back to the barn.

I have since overanalyzed what happened, what I could have done differently, and why my placid pony has become a fire-breathing demon. It all boils down to less turnout, more food(too much high-test), and, most of all, a severe need for some serious damage control. We're going to stay in the ring, reduce his grain intake and increase his turnout (hello, darkness my old friend).

At least now I know he has it in him- and maybe he just wanted me to eat my "non-racehorsey" words.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Popping in to Say Hello

Fifteen minutes. That is the extent of my "spare" time this morning. I've been busy. And I have written some blog posts, but...I haven't posted them.
They are horrible.

I don't like them. Not at all. I was trying to be funny and fell flat on my literary face.
A little bumped and bruised in the ego department. I'll get over it.

Meanwhile, my other writing projects are swimming along like happy little fishes. I can't have everything, I guess.

Now, I'm off to the barn to play with the ponies. (Well, lets be real. I'm going to clean up after them.)And then it is time to sit my butt in the chair and let the words flow. Hopefully, some of the more witty ones will find their way to this page.
I'm confident they will. Soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lovely Day for a...Power Walk?

Her name is Velvet. She is 14.3hands(or 59 inches at the shoulder), a lovely deep brown- so deep it should be called black, with a long flowing mane and tail; she is an excellent example of her breed: the Morgan Horse.
You know...Justin Morgan had a horse. Yeah I drank too much of the Kool-Aid in Vermont, but they are incredible horses. Imagine, a breed of horse supposedly traced back to a single sire. Even the noble Thoroughbreds were developed from three stallions.

But I don't want to give a lesson on equine history. Velvet lives in the here and now. And she lives in my barn.

Velvet is here for Mr. W. to ride, but since he works during the week(I didn't put the quotations around work- I am evolving)my friend Anne offered to ride with me. She used to ride Cosmo the Good Doober, until his passing last year (yes, I still miss him.) Nevermind that Anne now has her own "pony" - a 15 hand large boned Haflinger who lives in our sheep pasture until her barn is built. Oh and the "pony" has never been ridden- another small detail that needs attending.

Anne is tall, Velvet is not. No matter, Velvet is a Morgan. They are mighty. It finally stopped raining. So Anne and I saddled up and headed out. I mounted first and Tucker bounced a bit in excited anticipation. Anne swung her leg over Velvet's back...and away they went.

Let me make it clear that Velvet never did anything wrong; she never even broke out of a walk.

Tucker and I followed at a nice, brisk, forward walk. But Velvet was gone. She was fading into the distance, tail bouncing back and forth, head in the air, mane flowing in the breeze created by her speed. Tucker broke in to a jog to close the distance. Anne pulled back on the reins and Velvet slowed, turning around and chomping the bit in...anticipation? frustration?

Anne laughed and made like a train: "Choo choo. We've left the station!" And it's an express. Tucker and I caught up and off we went. Tucker gave his speedwalking all to no avail.

Velvet faded into the distance and we trotted to keep up. It was not a ride for conversing much, unless you count shouting. Mainly stuff like, "We're coming!" or "We'll get there!" or "Trotting up on your right!"

We passed the Hunt Kennels, the hounds were bellowing at two ladies walking their two dogs.

"Are your horses used to dogs? They're so pretty!"

I glanced at the cacophany of foxhounds, howling and barking. Um, yeah, they're used to dogs. Though Velvet was doing her best to imitate a giraffe as she surveyed her domain...

The one loose dog, a Lab, bounced around the horses' legs and wanted to follow, but he got tired an gave up once Velvet turned on the afterburners. Anne pulled her up a ways down the road and waited. Tucker sighed as I pressed my legs against his side and asked him to catch up.

Tucker pulled alongside and Velvet jumped slightly. I think she fell asleep while waiting. Either that or the large boulder on the side of the road was harboring a saber-toothed chipmunk, but Tucker usually finds those.

To get home, we had to climb a hill. Now, I use this particular stretch to condition Tucker- it's a great butt workout for him. I thought maybe, just maybe, it would slow Velvet down a tad.


I called out the turns as Velvet flew up the incline- still walking- while Tucker cantered, yes, cantered to keep up. With her walk! Did I mention that Velvet is 14.3 hands and Tucker is 5 inches (mostly leg length) taller? And Tucker has been ridden at least five times a week (when the weather is good); he's in fairly good shape. Velvet gets ridden...whenever someone has time.

We got closer to home and I was a little worried that Velvet, with her excessive speed and dense coat, would be overheating. Nah. She was a little sweaty, but her eyes were bright and eager. Anne and I could almost hear her saying "Well, that was a good warm-up, where to, now?" (Gotta love Morgans)

Tucker, however, was definitely looking forward to getting off that train.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why My Office is in the Barn!

I'm feeling a bit peckish today. I've been having a bit of trouble sleeping lately, for many reasons-overtired, reading good book, mulling over good writing ideas, a dog who likes to sleep with his hind feet toward my face and frequently stretches, another dog who insists he must pinion my legs, too hot, too cold, my hip hurts if I'm on my right side, stiff neck on my left, not comfy on my back or get the idea. I'm just the princess and the pea restless lately. Plus I wake up at 5:30 AM waiting for the elderly Jack Russell to get up, which makes the mixed breed perk up and wait for me.

The bottom line is I decided to relax a bit and write at home. Yeah.

It goes something like this:

Push the kitten out of my skim chai latte (LOVE the Keurig milk frother!)

Yell at the dogs to get away from the kitten's crate-they love the litter and the food.

Shoo dogs out of office. Put up the gate and barricade the door.

Sigh when the Pomeranian starts whining. Let him in the office.

Yell at the ancient JRT when she knocks down the gate and tries to jump the barricade.

Go see what the other dogs are incessantly barking at.

Tell them to stop. They do. Walk away. Run back an yell at mixed breed who has returned to whoofing at the door. Look outside and assure myself that there is nothing there. Place hands over ears when all four dogs return to barking just because the mixed breed sees a bird in the lawn. Threaten all dogs with bodily harm if they don't stop. Stomp my feet to get their attention and tell them, "good dogs" when they look at me like I am possessed.

Go back to computer and type a few words. Sip what the kitten left of my skim chai latte. Pet kitten who has lovingly settled on my lap.

Get aggravated with JRT trying to force her way in. Move the kitten, who bites me to let me know he's annoyed at being moved. Lock the kitten's crate, move gate and unblock the door.

Type some more.

Grab kitten before he pees in a bucket of snake bedding (don't ask, I don't know why it's there either), unlock crate, shove kitten in box, lock crate.

Why are they barking now? Go look. Let them all outside to bark.

Hit the keyboard a few times.

Yell at the Brittany who is throwing himself at the door and barking to come back inside. After all, he's been out for a whole nano-second. (Yes, this is the dog who used to have an automatic doggy-door. It would open when he came near with his special collar. He burnt the motor out. Enough said.)

Let dogs three dogs in, let kitten out and relock crate.

Sit at the computer again.

Go let the fourth dog in, who couldn't be bothered to come to the door with the rest, he waits until I get comfortable and back into some semblance of a writing rhythm to emit a high pitched bark every three seconds, just in case I wasn't aware that he is ready to come in NOW.

Type until the JRT starts scratching at the crate's tray in an attempt to dump the kitten's food dish.

Push her away. Ok and yell a bit, then feel guilty for pushing and yelling because she is so ancient.

Type some more.

Break up dog fight between the old JRT and the mix (Maltese/Shih Tsu/JRT-what were they thinking? And what was my mother thinking when she adopted him...sigh) as they argue over who has the right to dig their way into the kitten crate for food. (And while I appreciate their kindness in wanting to clean the litter box, I must gracefully decline said offer.)

Clean litter box and remove food dish to a high shelf.


Yell at kitten who is climbing the shelf to get to his food.

Shoo dogs out of the room, yell at the JRT for trying to bite my foot, tell the Brittany to go lie down, break up another bicker session between the JRT who has snuck back to the kitten crate and the mix who now thinks it all belongs to him. Physically pick both up and throw them out of the room. Close the door and settle down to...

What did I want to write again? Oh. Yeah. Ok. Sip my cold skim chai latte. Revel in a moment of peace and quiet. The kitten comes back and snuggles on my lap again.


Until the Pomeranian starts whining and scratching at the door...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rainy Days

Here it is the end of another schizophrenic weather day and I have yet to accomplish anything. It was raining and breezy, then sunny and humid. I took my backpack, weighed down by my computer and all the possibility it contains, to my office. My intention was to finish barn chores and write until lunch, take a break and head back to the office.

I cleaned the barn, emptied the manure cart, dumped buckets, and swept up. There was a phone conversation with my sister. And I did watch the filly run like a possessed maniac around the paddock, but I was ready to work.

Unfortunately, I looked at the time when I finished the manual labor portion of my day. It was almost lunchtime. My stomach rumbled to remind me of my scant piece of toast breakfast. Ok. Food is good. I’ll go eat and come back with the kitten for company.

The best laid plans…

Lunch consisted of yogurt, strawberries and granola. I ate that while I finished my current pleasure reading. There was a knock on the door. A neighbor dropped off some invitations for some of the local horse-related shindigs-big foxhunting area and I wanted to get to know some more of the riding community. We chatted for a bit and I went back inside to finish up.

The phone rang. I caught up on the latest happenings at the farm in Vermont. The heater needs fixing. Of course.

Hung up the phone, yelled at the dog, who was barking at the sheep(actually the owner of the sheep and his dog. It was still annoying.)

Phone rings again. This time it was my friend, Anne, who keeps her “pony” (15 hand, heavily built Halflinger) in the sheep field.

“Did you eat lunch yet?”


“Oh. I’m starving and I wondered if you wanted to meet, grab a bite to eat and then go with me to return things to Tractor Supply…”

“I could go with you…”

I had a cup of soup and a Diet Coke. And I wonder why my clothes keep getting tighter.

We ran errands, groomed her “pony,” and I came back inside. How could it be 3:00 already?

And I wonder why I am not published yet. I can only laugh at myself. I know there are days like these and I’m not sure if it’s a good sign that I am learning to accept that. Just yesterday, I was writing at a rate of about 500 words an hour. I surpassed my 10,000 word mark (last count was 12, 094). Progress.

So when I break 300 pounds and 5000 words a day, I can call that success!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


There are all types of balance.

I just came from yoga class, so I am thinking of the literal practice of balance. Tree pose. I'm getting better. I can actually mimic a good tree. Until my yoga teacher cocks his head, in that way he has, and asks me to try to take the snake out of my tree.


Then I catch a glance in the mirror. I may have imitated a tree, but it was not a very straight one-no mighty oak for me. Which made me think that I used to live at a farm where they described that kind of tree as a "craggle tree." I am a craggly tree.

I was told that recognizing my lack of linear alignment was part of the journey. Still working on it.

Then there is balancing all the things that demand my attention, namely, five cats, four dogs, and four horses. It's all about the routine. I am trying to allow myself time to write. But mainly these days, a lot of my time is spent trying to resist the lure of my iPhone 4 birthday present. I was happy with my old iPhone. I thought it was pretty neat. This new toy? A whole new level of mind crack.

Some "good" friends, (helpful, productive friends) suggested a few new apps. Angry Birds, Words with Friends, and then there is the reemergence of Snood on the desktop...

Plus there is mowing to be done, a garden to begin to put to bed, the patio furniture that still languishes in the garage, waiting to be brought back to the light of day. Piles of stuff, closets, and cabinets await organization.

And then there is making sure I have time to ride on those days when Mother Nature cooperates. My options are limited these days; the streams are still running high and quick. I have taken advantage of these limited opportunites to work a bit in the ring, trying out my other birthday present, a new bit for Tucker. What a miracle that is.

(I also got a gift certificate to a tack shop, along with a g-string that says "Barn Diva" on the front. My friend Anne has such a sense of humor. I think she meant to give those to Ramzi. he's the Barn Diva. I'm the "Tack Whore.")

But we are talking about balance.

Yesterday's ride was miraculous. It was magic. Tucker was forward, light in the hand, supple, and actually chewed the bit (that's a good thing). Walk, trot, canter, jump. It was like buttah.

Today's ride was a challenge. Tucker was trying to keep up with Velvet as she power-walked down the road. She and Anne were in full Morgan-on-a-mission mode down the trail. (The old nag. Sure) Tucker felt like he was saying "WTH? Really? I am NOT walking that fast. I CAN'T walk that fast. Please? I'm just going to trot. What? Putting my head in the air and inverting my neck is a bad thing?" He was good, but it wasn't buttah.

You can't have magic everyday. It has to be balanced by the mundane. It teaches humility. Just like Angry Birds and being an English Major/writer and getting your butt kicked in Words with Friends, while trying to take care of daily business. Throw in a craggly tree and I'm good to go.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No Real Point.

Let see. Do I go on about Vermont? Mention the piles of silt that have created beach-front properties in a land-locked state or the challenges of putting up a bannister, or do I wax poetic about holes in the roads; how you really can't get there from here? How about being able to catch up with at least some friends? It was nice.

Or I can write about writing or my jones for riding? I am such a whimp when it comes to trotting down the road in the rain. How about Gil's adventure with hives? It's very dramatic when a large animal throws himself down to itch frantically. It required quite a few injectables to get it under control. Then, because he rolls over so well (quite a feat for an equine) he kept getting stuck. Again dramatic and LOUD!

How about our fly infestation? Not fun when you have a touch screen computer. Who knew that a fly can open and close programs and move all the icons on your desktop?

Then there is the kitten, who now insists that he needs some of my breakfast toast, well, really he just wants some of whatever I have...but he's really cute about it. I took him to the barn office the other day. I put him in his little travelling bag, got in the truck, Putter jumped in and away we went. He was out and about before we were out of the driveway. He sat on my lap happily. Guess he told me.

And now there is water. Lots of water. The sump pump is going 24/7. And for that, I am extremely grateful. The last time there was half this much ground water, combined with a power outage, the basement filled with a foot of water. I can still see my oldest cat floating around on top of a trunk, yowling. The pump is now tied properly into the generator. And the basement is damp, but has not turned into an indoor wading pool. No floating kitties (or bouyant litter boxes-ick).

So today, when the rain abated for a time and, gasp, the sun came out. I tacked up my freshly bathed horse and headed out. The road was the only option. Down and back, with Tucker watching the rivers that ran down the edges. (I did convince him to trot through one- future eventer!) Even though he hadn't been exercised for almost a week, he was beautifully behaved. We came to a long incline, I gave him his head- permission to go as fast as he pleased. Keep in mind, he had won a race back in the day. He cantered. Then went a little faster. I was so happy to be out, exhilirated with the prospect of an adrenaline pumping gallop, anticipating the release of all his pent up energy. I leaned forward, anticipating a burst of blazing...oh...okay, you want to trot.

He did win a race back in the day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weathering the Storm

Irene came and went. For some, she was a non-event; a lot of rain and some wind. Here, I tucked away the grill, the lawn furniture, filled the hot tub, brought in the electric fencers and the water troughs. The horses were locked up in the barn. I was ready.

And Irene came, unleashed her wrath, but not on us.

Unfortunately, she dumped her fury-tempests of torrential rain-on a place we least expected, the lovely state I used to call home- Vermont.

It began with a text from my son asking if I'd seen the footage. No. I hadn't. He e-mailed links and I suddenly understood. I couldn't comprehend, but it was there, in full color. Bridges, familiar roads, farms and homes destroyed. Tiny, babbling brooks turned into walls of frothing water; the Williams river that runs through Chester, a waterway that my aunt used to laugh at- "they call that a river?", churned and raged, taking with it an historic covered bridge, as it roared down the valley.

It seems that not one road or town was unscathed. It is impossible to travel directly East to West across the state. The route I used to travel to work is simply gone in one spot. It was near a river. Actually, it was about 100 feet above a river, the steep bank forested with large trees. You could hardly notice the water, seemingly so far away. You notice it now. The pavement is gone, dropping off those 100 or so feet, down into an impassable oblivion.

And that is only one. Communities are cut off, some brave souls making contact over hill and dale with horses and ATVs. No power. No water. No phone. And no way in or out.

I still can't believe it. I look at the pictures. I e-mail and call those friends with power and phone to make sure they are alright. They say they are. Vermonters are made of incredibly resilient stuff.

I know there are other states and communities hit hard by this storm. The shorelines are battered, parts of New Jersey are still flooding, the Catskill region has washouts, too.

Where I live and in nearby New York City, there is a sigh of relief. We dodged a bullet.

But so many did not.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Four Years Seems Like Yesterday

Grief is a process that never ends.

Four years ago today, I was awakened at 5:30AM, by a policeman's knock on my door.

Everyone who knows me or my sister, knows the story. Time has passed, it gets easier in some ways. Though it never passes completely.

It’s amazing that one family could produce two such strong and unique women.
First, there was my mom, Bettyann. Then, seven years later Snooker came along. Snooker told me repeatedly that my mom was the best sister anyone could have had.

For my sister and me, mom was always a role model. Strong, driven, and unwilling to let anything or anyone stand in the way of what needed to be done. We wanted to please her, but she set the bar high.
Overcoming the repercussions of a terrible accident when she was in high school, my mom turned her natural drive into an unstoppable force. Her favorite response to teenage whining sums it up: “There’s no such thing as can’t”. Throughout our lives, even when we couldn’t fully appreciate her achievements, my sister and I knew she was doing incredible things.
She was the strength and motivation for our family, the protector and provider. The Queen.
Snooker was both the court jester and archivist.

Through both of them I was able to see the country. With Snooker there was her beloved Hawaii. When I was eight, I was there for one glorious summer and then our road trip when I was 10, which took us from Denver to LA with so many stops in between.

My mother showed us parts of Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Ohio we had never heard of- not the tourist places but, she’d always try to show us something- even if it sometimes involved 2 or 3 carsick, crowded and bickering hours. And she allowed me the opportunity to spend a glorious month in Prague- something I’d never dreamed I’d actually do.

When each moved to Vermont my world was altered completely.
First Snooker arrived. And in the past 11 years I have had her present in my life- not just a random phone call (This is your auntie Snooker) or at various holidays and family events. She was here. And now weekends were gardening and shopping trips for plants in the summer and craft supplies or books in the winter. Just recently, I had finally figured out how to get her out of Wal-mart or Ocean State Job Lots in less than 2 hours.
My mom only begun to adjust to Vermont and we were beginning to work out our schedule. I was learning that a trip to the dump was now a joint effort, and that while she was “perfectly capable of doing this on her own since she had lived by herself for the past 14 years, she would go grocery shopping with me if I wanted”.

There were times in the past six months when I would feel like a ping-pong ball caught between those two and outings with them were lessons in listening (To 2 conversations and opinions at once) and patience (they would pause to let me answer sometimes).

But my mother gave me support and allowed me to live with the horses and the farm. She allowed me to go to school and she pushed when I was unsure.
And Snooker would have given me the shirt off her back- thank god she didn’t have to because she had 4 brand new ones with tags in a drawer- it’s a men’s x-large in orange and pink stripes, but you can wear it in the barn. And she has given Anne a new lifelong hobby on E-bay. I’m sure there is someone who wants 10 boxes of various seedpods, pinecones, and waxed leaves.

They leave a tremendous hole in my family’s life. They were vibrant, so full of energy and life- not little old ladies slowing down, but forces of nature.
We will never fill this hole. We will have to learn to work and live around it. But whenever it becomes too much, or a task seems insurmountable, their legacy will be there. Because Snooker left us plenty to do and as my mother always believed- there is no such thing as “Can’t”.

Notes on My Mother

A lioness hunts and watches,
Protecting, and providing
For her pride.

While the hummingbird
Flits here and there
Searching for sustenance.

The terrier is feisty and loud,
Persistent, and fearless,
Despite its small stature.

The strong wind buffets
And pushes
All in its path

So suddenly
There is stillness.

We stagger and stumble
When we are abruptly
Abandoned by the wind.

The ears go wanting,
Anticipating the chaos
Of the terrier’s bark.

This garden becomes
Static, lacking
That hummingbird’s flight.

While, a world away
The lioness finally reclines
And surveys her domain.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Married a Barn Princess*

No. I have not changed teams. Yes. I am still married to Mr. W. But...he does become a bit...pampered? Demanding? Perfectionist? When he is in the barn.

And he is in the barn a lot more these days due to the arrival of his horse-a two-year old Morgan filly. Add to the adventure is a leased older mare for him to ride while we (I) train the youngster.

I have to say, they are great additions to the barn. Gil, the bucking bronc is doing his best tryout as a teaser stallion. And, I have to say, he is excelling at it. He could have a future job. I digress.

At first, Mr. W. was apprehensive about the mare. Not the filly. He was excited about the filly. However, he was worried that the mare, being older might be an "old nag." Right. I know the breeder. She has wonderful horses and both of these girls are wonderfully perfect.

Icey, the youngster, is intelligent and affectionate. She hasn't done much in her short life, but judging from the way she marched onto the trailer to get here (she'd never seen one before) I'd say she's something special. I admit to a wee bit of bias there.

Enter Velvet, the "old nag." Cough. Cough. She has a heart of gold, a spring in her step and a happy gleam in her eye, not to mention a crush on Gil right now. My first ride on Velvet proved that she was more than enough horse for Mr. W.- she marched right out to the ring, picked up her paces on cue and when we strolled around the fields, she stepped out like she owned the place.

Which leads me to today, when I finally pestered Mr. W. enough to finally throw a leg over the saddle; when I learned that I had married a barn princess.

Step one: Arrive at the barn. Feed the girls, bring in the boys(they are on night turnout), pick stalls, throw hay, fill water, and start to set out the tack while the horses digest breakfast.

Step two: Get ready to ride. I squeezed my legs into chaps that barely fit(they are a legacy from a skinnier time- I'm doing my best to stretch them to my current dimensions). Meanwhile, Mr. W. asked where his were.

He does have custom chaps, but he hasn't tried his on since before most middle-school children were born. I don't even think he knows where they are. I offered him a nearly new set of half-chaps. He put them on.

"They're too long! I can't bend my knees. I can't ride if I can't bend my knees."

Obviously, he has never had to break in a brand new pair of field boots, had the pleasure of trying to ride as the circulation in your lower leg is cut off by the inflexible leather biting through the back of your knee, while you pray the ankle breaks down quickly...

Mind you he was complaining while in a half-squat- almost perfect riding position. But he wasn't comfortable. So...I offered to wrap his lower legs in polo wraps. The look on his face said it all.

He was going to have to ride without chaps.

Step three: Helmets. He put his on and fumbled with the chinstrap. I had borrowed his helmet to give pony rides to a few children. Perhaps the strap was a bit tight. I don't think that warrented the choking noises. It wasn't that tight. He didn't turn blue, after all. I loosened it.

Step four: "Are you sure this is the right saddle pad?"

"Is this girth too long?"

"This is the bridle you used on her last time, right?"

"These strap keepers are really tight!"

I was starting to doubt his enthusiasm.

Step five: We brought our horses out to the mounting block. I told him to go first, so I could give him a hand if he needed. I also warned him that Velvet was, perhaps built differently than some of the horses he'd ridden the last few decades. She's definitely not fat, but her natural build is...well, a bit rounder. I suggested he check his girth before mounting.

"I have ridden before, you know."

Yes. I know. We rode together last year a couple of times. How soon I forget.

Step six: Tighten girth. Go to mounting block. Position horse. Curse as she steps slightly away. Get off mounting block. Tell horsey to stay. Repeat. "Whoa!" Repeat until horsey stays. Put foot in the stirrup.

Step seven: Whine about his severely tilted saddle. "Now what do I do?" (I was laughing too hard to answer.) Get off severly tilted saddle. Curse loudly.
"I told you the girth was too long."

"Now I have to undo everything and put it back to the center!" He didn't fall to the ground and kick and yell like a toddler, but it seemed close.

Tucker and I headed back into the barn. I tied up his reins and threatened him with bodily harm if he even thought of rolling with my saddle on.

Step eight: Straighten saddle. Adjust stirrup length and hold opposite stirrup as Mr. W. swings his leg over. Check girth and stirrups.

Okay. I did ask him if he wanted me to get a rope and lead him out to the ring, too. He politely declined my offer by squeezing his legs on Velvet's sides and sauntering away.

I ran back and retrieved Tucker, mounted up and met Mr. W. in the ring. We proceeded to have an incredibly relaxing ride around the hay fields. It was perfect.

We're just going to have to get him some chaps that fit. And a personal groom.

*This post was suggested by Mr. W. himself- "You mean you are not going to write about today??"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Of Things Not Done

Well, today could have been considered a failure. In the time management, productive world, then yes, I didn't achieve a whole lot. But after weeks of insane scheduling and rushing from one get-together to another, it was nice to stop and smell the coming Autumn.

In addition, we have added two more horses to the daily chore list. One is a two-year-old sweet bundle of energy and possibility. The other is a dignified mare of fifteen years. Both are Morgans and Mr. W.'s. We're all still adjusting to the increased barnload and activity, but it's all good.

I have poison ivy, I may have Lyme (waiting for test results- if I was of the canine persuasion, the answer would take all of eight minutes. For a human, it takes about a week. Go figure. Woof.), and a head full of ideas for the projects I have. Essentially, I am itchy and tired, with an overactive imagination. I am not the best company these days.

Today, we slept late-at least until the bull next-door, who I call Pedro (Ferdinand was taken)began bellowing like..well, I don't really know how to describe it- something between love-sick and lungs exploding. All I know is, its LOUD!
We turned the horses out, came back for breakfast, and my phone rang. My son was on his way to visit!

All plans flew out the window. He arrived, we had lunch,introduced him to the new additions, looked at wedding and honeymoon pics, raided the garden, and he wound every animal in the house to bursting.

I didn't ride. I did not weed the garden. The lawn remains unmowed, nothing was unthawed for dinner so Mr.W ate cereal and I had yogurt, fruit and granola. I spent most of the evening putting some of my frantic thoughts into the computer.

But I had precious time with my only child, a luxury in these days of his young-adulthood (understandably) and current tenure in Colorado.

I am still itchy. Still tired. I feel so out of shape for riding, behind in my house/farm projects, and especially my writing projects, but it doesn't matter. because today was a perfect day.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Narcissism and Memoir

I just finished reading a memoir. Of sorts. It was a self-published book. And it had to do with Vermont. Sort of.

As I ponder the things I want to write, my life is, I admit something I like to write about. Hence this blog. It leads me to ask myself, "Is this writing thing all one big exercise in self-promotion?"

It might just be.

So are the hours I spend in my office, typing away, my excuse to dwell in my own reflection? Well...

No. Although I do steal events, emotions, and even personal charcteristics from "real" life to populate created stories, and contrary to what I write in this blog, my favorite word is not "I." it;s true, I am as self-absorbed as the next girl, but I really don't think I am the most interesting being on the planet.

Which brings me to the book I just read. Honestly, it may even have my most hated, Eat Pray Love beat in the OMG-I-am-so-special-everyone-needs-to-read-about-it category. Of course I believe that my most recent read has sold maybe 10 copies. And if you read the reviews on Amazon (all 5 star, excellent read) you can easily figure out that all of the reviewers are friends of the author.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Projects, Projects, Projects

So much to do! Not only am I rising early to ride before the heat index climbs over the century mark (not an easy task), but the extra daylight has inspired a huge increase in my artistic motivation.

Most afternoons find me heading to my office, laptop, kitten and dog in tow. I grab a bottle of water from the barn fridge, turn on the fan, boot up and get to work. Each day, I spend a couple of hours seated at my desk. Even if I am blocked, spend some time watching the kitten explore, flip through an old New Yorker, or scan the pages of one of my horse books, somehow, just being in a place I set up for writing, sets my fingers typing and, eventually, the words flow. And it's a good thing, because I actually have prijects!

I am working on a rewrite for my sister (she had a book ghost-written! I'd be offended if I didn't get to fix it). For myself, I am revisiting my last short story honing it for hopeful publication. On the re-read I actually liked it more than when I had let it sit. Shocker! I have also been asked to help with the memoir/biography of someone I love and admire. Such an amazing opportunity and project. I am ecstatic over it!

All of this, while adding to my daily workload, actually helps me. I work much better under pressure, a trait I discovered while juggling work, a farm, a commute, and school. The more I have to do, the more structured I become. Too much leeway leaves me floating along in a lazy daze. And the enthusiasm I have for these projects will carry me through those times when my motivation and creative juices lag. Just as my goal to show before the season is out, gets me out of bed at the crack of dawn.

Less time to worry, means less time to obsess over the realization (almost daily,, it seems) that everyone around me has published their work. Nevermind the fact that nearly all of these tomes are self-published, they are a constant reminder that if I want to be a writer, I have to write!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Off and Running

These days it seems that my cup runneth over with everything but sleep. The house is cluttered. Wedding gifts that have not found their place perch upon the stacks of paper piled during the pre-wedding chaos- they must have bred during the honeymoon, becuase there couldn't possibly have been that much... Clothes litter my closet and the bedroom floor, unpacked but unwashed. Hey! I did one load of laundry last week.

The vegetable garden is being slowly rescued from the weeds- I keep uncovering tomato plants. But only a couple of pepper plants survived. The beans grew well an are about finished, cucumbers are coming, and I harvested the first zucchini. In these days of sun-baked rainlessness, water dancing occupies a chunk of the day. The dance doesn't beg the gods for sky moisture, it involves the dragging of the hose, hooking up sprinklers, and making sure all of my plantings get a good drink. It's good when I remember to turn the hoses off, too. Unlike last night, when the weltering heat was unrelieved by the ceiling fan and I roamed the house closing windows, and turning on the AC. As I pushed the panes closed in the guest bedroom, I heard the sprinkle of water against the house. Needless to say, the front lawn is well-soaked.

I have multiple writing projects and I have actually worked on them. Amazing! The office in the barn is functional now. Imagine my surprise when, all ready to work, I attempted to plug my laptop into the only outlet in the room, to discover it had only two prongs. My plug had three. Hmm... It was a quick switch and now we are ready. Except for an expired Microsoft Office subscription and I can't find my disc or product code from the copy I bought a couple of years ago. Minor problem.

We have been trying to catch up with friends and family, filling them full of pictures and tales of our adventures, and generally slipping back into the mundane routines of life.

The only glitch, or glitches in this reintegration are our lovely dogs (and an uber-demanding kitten). In our absence, the dogs decided that sleeping until 7:30 just would not do. They want to be up and out at 5:30! I am very sorry for our housesitters.

I have decided to roll with it and get up. It works out well. I can get the horses in, tack up, and get in a good ride before the bugs and heat are really horrible. This schedule is ideal. Except for one little thing...

A Dance with Dragons, a tome I have eagerly awaited for FIVE years, has been published and it's 900+ pages beckon every free moment. Unfortunately, that usually means bedtime. But once I start, I CAN. NOT. PUT. IT. DOWN.
The dogs don't care.

Diet Coke and coffe consumption are up. Generally, I think I am handling the heat, sleepiness, overall frustration with the mess that surrounds me, the drops that need to go into MR. W.s' irritated eye(ER visit. Not fun) four times a day, the kitten's demands, and barking dogs very well. Though, I might be getting slightly testy by the afternoon... Maybe I should pencil in a nap.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Dust is Settling

The wedding is over. It passed in a blur that require pictures to remember correctly. We were blessed with perfect weather, great food, a future broadway star singing my processional, and an awesome band, who put up with my inability to choose music with calm assurance.

Not to mention the week of celebratory events that led up to the big day, a bachelor dinner for Mr. W. (my sister and I spent the evening at the mall picking up last minute items for the honeymoon- which was, in its own way, a perfect way to celebrate), a barbeque in our backyard for the wedding party and out-of-town guests, the rehearsal and dinner, wedding, and brunch the next day. By the way, Serevan restaurant is THE BEST!

Then the honeymoon, which provided so much blog fodder, material that I will gleefully torture my readers with in the coming days. Again, magical, but also an opportunity to broaden my horizons and see more of what the world offers. A humbling experience, to say the least.

So now we are back, slipping ourselves into a routine. For me, that means committing to all of those things I neglected during the whirlwind of wedding planning. My office is finished, the desk beckons, and my project list demands my attention. It is time to discipline my scattered mind, manage my distractions(I admit that I am not strong enough to ignore them completely, but the skills I employed that got me through college must be dusted off and used again), and give the work I love a chance to blossom.

Failure is guaranteed if I don't try.

With the kitten I found before the wedding still here-and biting at my ankles as I type-I am pushing off into my other world, full of fresh imagery and new ideas, and determined to stay out of my own way.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just Another Few Days in Paradise

Tuesday was my dress fitting. All went well and, unless I lose a great deal of weight(unlikely, especially when I ate a Shake Shack Burger, cheese fries andd HUGE plate of Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo for lunch and dinner) or gain back all the weight I've lost, I do not need another fitting. The dress fits perfectly!

Sheryl and I spent the day wandering around Chelsea. We saw a guy with a parrot in a cage strapped to his back, leading a Min Pin decked out in the cutest tiny pink doggie sneakers. A lady on a bike serenaded us with a song touting the benefits of being vegan, while we were in line to order our burgers and cheese fries. And I gave a guy, who was hocking his CDs, 10 bucks because:

a)I thought it would be good karma to give him a chance-after all, he was on the streets selling his "vision";

b)I am a horrible haggler; and

c) I am a sucker who is not good at saying "no thanks" under pressure.

We plugged the cd in as soon as we got in the car. And there we were, two white women of a certain age, riding around NYC in a mud-spattered Mercedes, windows down, and head bobbing to the hip-hop beat. It was a vision.

But the music isn't bad, interesting beats and he sampled the Red Hot Chili Peppers. not bad at all.

The rest of the day was spent driving around the fabric/garment district looking for a place to park, but parking is only available at the most wallet-raping garages in the city. Well, at least now we know where it is.

I spent the next day at a horse show. Enough said there.(I did rememeber to put on sunscreen and wear a hat).

At 2AM that night/morning, I let Putter outside(yes, I let him drink a bucket of water before bed. Again.) As I opened the screen door, I heard it. Not the screech of the foxes that live in the sheep pasture, nor the lowing of the Black Angus(and the bull was thankfully not screaming either), nor the blat of the sheep. No coyotes could be heard. Instead, the loud mew of a kitten filled my ears. Hmmm...

I silently hoped the mother came back before morning or that I was mistaken and it was a terribly confused mockingbird. No such luck.

Opened the door this morning, released the hounds, and the air filled with the sound. Went into the sheep shed and there he was, one tiny black and white kitten in a large orange feed pan. Still screaming. And no sign of momma cat.

So after driving to Tractor Supply and waiting for them to open, I now have kitten milk replacer, a bottle, and a tiny kitten to take care of.

I love cats (have 4), but I'm really hoping the mother cat shows up soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


It's amazing, the many types of people you find in the line at the DMV. A wide array of humanity, shuffling through the turns of the line, patiently(or not always) awaiting their call to a window.

The line was already long when I took my place. There was the man who expressed his regret, "I should have remembered to do this online," he proclaimed to all who waited, waving his envelope in the air. Further ahead, a woman rocked a car seat with her foot, bending down to offer a bottle when the baby squirmed and whined, and shoving the whole apparatus forward with her foot when the line moved. At one window, far ahead of me, an infantile young man(he looked FAR too young to be old enough to be applying for a license, but maybe that's just me getting old), handed over his documents and his cell phone, before disappearing behind a wall. At the second window was the client who doesn't want to understand that whatever she wants, is not going to happen today. "What do you mean I need...?" "Can't I have it faxed?" "Are you sure you can't just stamp it?" On and on, she would not leave the window. And we wonder why the DMV people are grumpy.

I was there to register my truck and horse trailer, finally trading my lovely green and white Vermont plates for ones of gold and blue. I dreaded it. Yes, I am shallow enough that, while green was maybe not the best match for my blue truck and my white trailer, the new plates are simply hideous. It still had to happen. I must add the fact that I was already frustrated as my computer froze three times while I tried to print out new insurance information. A five minute chore turned into a thirty-minute ordeal.

Step by step, person by person, I crept closer to the window. The mother strolled out the door with the baby seat draped over her arm, swinging with the motion of her stride. The proclaimer got his renewal, though he loudly congratulated the young man on his perfect permit test score.

"You'll make a good driver. Probably better than me. Just remember, if you get pulled over, be respectful and don't give the officer trouble and he'll be nice to you." The young man smiled and nodded, thrilled with his future behind the wheel and a little leery of this large man's advice.

It was finally my turn. I handed the woman my paper work. She looked it over. "Your registering an out-of-state vehicle. You need to fill out this form." She handed me a green sheet of paper, marked with red pen to indicate the required fields. Off I went and dutifully filled it out(and another for the trailer in anticipation) and got back in line. It was slightly shorter. This time a couple were bickering about what forms they needed.

"Do you have that one?"
"You sure it's filled out right?"
"I think so."
"Did you sign it?"

She turned her back on him and shook her head. They reached the window and she gloated when all was in order, "See? I told you."

Behind me, the woman who refused to take no for an answer had returned. She sighed dramatically and crinkled her papers, muttering, "I can't believe this. Such a pain."

I worked my way back to the front. We started over. She typed away, verified my license and passport. Yes, I am who I claim to be. Then she paused. Uh oh. "Your insurance card says 'replacement vehicle.' Are you transferring tags from one car to another?"

"No." Oh no.

From behind me the complainer yelled, "Hey, do you have a bathroom?" The answer was no, which prompted a new round of grumbling.

My attention returned to the woman behind the window, "You have to call your insurance company and get them to take the 'replacement vehicle' designation off the card. Have them fax it and I'll call you to the front of the line as soon as I get it."

Oh crap. Really? Sigh. Out the door, called the company(who were very nice, by the way) and went back inside to, yet again, await my turn. I met "Complainer" at the door, she gave up. I gave thanks for small favors. After a few scant minutes I returned to the window. More typing ensued, plates were pulled from a drawer, papers were stapled together, I thought my hour-plus ordeal was over. Screw registering the trailer, I'll come back another day to do that. I could finally go home, ride, garden. After all, it was a beautiful day outside and I'd wasted too much of it here.

The woman behind the window stopped her typing and shuffling. A crease appeared between her brows. She flipped a page back and forth. She turned to me and shook her head.

"Your insurance doesn't take effect until midnight. You'll have to wait and come back Monday."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Back in the Saddle

"Where have you been?" she asks.

I ponder a moment before answering. Let's see... I've been to Pennsylvania and Vermont recently, done some short trips to the mall and Lowe's, but mainly, I've been shuttling back and forth between garden and barn.

I've been busy." I reply. I am sulky, feeling guilty and defensive. After a winter of snow and ice, we finally have those perfect days of sunny warmth and green growing things. Always one to bite off more than I can chew, the garden and yard projects have piled up. There were beds to be dug, lawn to be mowed and bushes and trees to plant.

And then there is Tucker.

Our first few rides were pretty uneventful, a little walk and trot to remind me that I do, indeed, remember what this is all about. We even cantered a bit on the third outing. But, in an attempt to increase Tucker's weight, I have been feeding him a lot of grain and second cut hay- horsey high-test. Add fresh, sugary, new-growth grass, and, POW! You have a four-legged rocket on your hands.

The paddocks all have repaired fences, which was another project that took quite a bit of time. It's nice to not worry that the horses are going to push over a post or hop over a broken rail. Right.

Back to riding. I took Tucker out on the road. He was very excited about getting out of endless circles in the area I call my riding ring. He jigged and bounced while I talked to myself to keep my muscles from clenching in terror. Heels down, relax your arms, keep breathing...was my mantra. And Tucker settled.

A short distance down the road there is a kennel of foxhounds. And in the yard infront of the bellowing dogs? A huge, inflatable bouncy house. Complete with screaming, excited children. My mantra changed to: Heels down, relax your hands, keep breathing, Oh My God, I'm going to die, heels down, keep breathing, don't pull! Luckily, my mount was more interested in being out. And despite my abject terror, he never even glanced at the colorful, swaying behemoth.

The next time out was not as wonderful. I tried a new trail, got lost, and had to dismount because the bugs were intolerable-Tucker would take two steps and dive his head down to scratch his face on his front leg- NOT comfortable or conducive to forward progress. I led him through the buggy field, only to find I was definitely not headed toward home. We hiked up a steep hill. I gasped for air, in the throes of an asthma attack, Tucker was barely winded. At the top, I thought I would get back on.


Tucker would not stand still. He backed, threw his hind end away from me, and generally flipped me the hoof. So on we walked, finally finding our way to the barn. I sponged him off, fed both the boys and put them out in the knee-high grass of their paddock. By 8:30, I was exhausted. I read until about 10:00 then fell into a much needed slumber.(It had been a LONG week)

Fast forward to 5:30AM. The phone rang. "Tucker is loose."

"I'm on my way." Rushing up to the barn, I found a friend leading Tucker toward the barn, while Gil frantically galloped back and forth in the paddock. I got them both settled and went to investigate how the T-man got out. It was a rail down. The opening faced the woods, away from the lush pasture, but of course he would rather go crashing through the brush...

The rest of the day was dedicated registering my truck, which took most of the day-and I still have to go back-that's a whole 'nother bunch of blog fodder. Returned home in the late afternoon, in time to run a wire around the inside of the fence and hooki a charger up to said wire, to keep my wayward pony at home. A little electric current goes a long way in keeping horses from dismantling fences. And I had to cut brush away from the wire, find an extension cord for the charger, and pick the ticks from my sweatshirt-ICK!

At least Tucker has stayed where I put him and I got over 8 hours of sleep last night!

My spring rush is winding down and I am settling back into some sort of schedule. There are still wedding meetings, pots to plant, and trails to explore, however the frantic need to do it all yesterday is passing and my new computer and office beckon.

We'll see how long that lasts! At least I have developed a healthy sense of humor at my lack of discipline.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Game of Thrones

Jumping for joy. Doing the happy dance. I'm as giddy as a teenager at a rock concert!

A Game of Thrones has begun. Winter is coming. So excited.

When I first saw the preview, the unfurling of the crow's wings started the flutter in my stomach.

Could it be? Or is this something else? Then those words melted onto the screen. Winter is coming.

Mr. W. watched my contortions with concern. I hooted, then verklempt, then fist-pumpingly ecstatic. I could not wait. And I hoped it would live up to my expectations. In the weeks that followed, I started to reread the book. It was everything I remembered; everything I hoped my own BFNE(formerly CFN) could be.

April 17th came. I watched avidly. Mr. W.came out from the office about fifteen minutes into the replay, which I needed to watch. I wanted this to sink in. It was like having seconds of your favorite dessert. Awesome. The creators, who did, apparently, rely heavily on George R.R. Martin, creator/author, stayed true to the story; it was very close to how I imagined. Gritty, dark, utterly believable. My only complaint was the need for HBO to focus so much on the sex scenes. Yes, they are integral to the story, but I was unaware that doggie-style equates with medieval fantasy. My bad. The beheadings did not bother at all. Sean Bean as Ned Stark and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister- perfection.

Of course, Mr. W.'s only comment after the brutal introduction was, "Sweatheart, you read some really dark shit."

Yes. Yes, I do. And relish every moment of it.

This series has me ubergeeked. I can't wait for Sundays at 9pm. I have it DVRed. So here's to Starks and Lannisters, direwolves and dragons, the Dothraki across the sea and Wildlings beyond the Wall. May they prosper and the seasons continue. If you don't know what I mean, my apologies. I'm off to do my happy dance. Hopefully, you are off to watch the pilot episode online.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I Am Not a Successful Writer...Yet

What do we do with a new laptop and a rainy day? Well, for one thing, I am not sitting in my new office flush with ideas. Rather, I am playing with my this wonderful toy, configuring and setting it up so I can better fulfill my literary destiny.

Mainly, I am attempting to find out what programs are already installed on it and what I want it to have. And getting acclimated to the keyboard. Hey, every computer is different. And I am a horrible typist!

I must thank my sister for this lovely machine. Ok. I need to get down on my knees and bless her profusely. After all, I did lament, in the not-so-distant past, the aged creakiness of my old laptop. It was becoming slower than death. My writing sessions were becoming exercises in patience-or multi-tasking. They went something like this: Hit the power button, hover close, maybe grab the iPhone and prepare my headphones, type in password, walk away to get a cup of tea or glass of water, grab the thesaurus(just in case), stroll back, glance at the screen, yup! still booting, think about what to write, start the music, I think it's ready, open a document, refill my water/tea, check screen, still not loading, hmm....oh, it's ready! Now what did I want to work on? I forget.

Of course, this one connects to the internet way too efficiently...

Thursday, April 7, 2011


It feels like it took forever, but Winter seems to have loosened its icy grip. The weather is not yet perfect, there are still rainclouds and brisk wind, however the sun is bright.

What have I done with this bounty of lovely weather?

The garden is roto-tilled. The peas, lettuce, and radish seeds are set in the freshly turned earth.

My office in the barn is finished, the floor is re-stained, the desk is in place, the new rug warms the floor, my horse books line the bookshelves, and the pictures are hung on the wall. All it needs is my laptop and me, sitting in my chair, churning out all the new stories churning in my imagination.

Tucker has new shoes. After his bought of lameness, I called the farrier, who suspeted a stone bruise. We soaked an packed his feet and today, he stopped favoring the foot. And the sun continued to shine.

For the first time this year, I tacked up. Though, for me, caution is the better part of valor. I am not brave enough to hop on a rambunctious Thoroughbred after a three month vacation. So I let Tucker run around on the lunge line. He was obedient and relatively quiet- he threw one good buck then settled back down. I finally mounted and walked around a bit. I would have ridden longer, but I had chosen to use my dressage saddle instead of my jumping saddle. Bad choice. The saddle looks like it fits Tucker's back, but once I settled into the seat, it became clear it isn't very comfortable for either of us.Hmmm.... Could that mean I need a new saddle? That would be unfortunate.

Everyone knows how I dread shopping for tack.

I even lunged Gil, who stood like a champ as I tightened the surcingle, did none of his funky dances when we walked out to the riding area, and even-gasp!- walked over a pole on the ground.

I am determined to find someone to work with him and give him another chance. I love the underdog.

Hopefully, the weather holds, because I am raring to go. I want to ride, I want to plant, and I want to write. Everything is in place. It's time. Finally.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Let's just say that Winter this year sucked. Now that Spring is officially here, I am looking forward to riding, gardening, and the flush of creative energy that warmer weather always brings. I work better with a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

But Mother Nature, cruel bitch, is not cooperating. Rain, snow, mixed with some cold and windy, albeit sunny days, do not a perfect Spring make. This weekend is no exception. Two days of blissful sun. The problem lies in the frigid, gale force wind that makes being outside not too much fun.

Still, the riding bug has me in it's venomous grasp. Tucker got new shoes the day before we were blessed with a misserable rain and snow mix. So when I heard the forecast for this weekend-temperatures in the fifties, sun, et.- I ambitiously planned to saddle up and at least attempt to ride.

Tucker read my mind. Which meant that yesterday, he was holding up his left front foot and yelling, "Ouchy!" in his horsey way. I checked him for the ususal suspects, a nail that went too high through the hoof wall, a stone stuck in his foot, maybe a gaping wound, but nothing shouted, "Here's the problem." His hoof was warm and there was a pounding pulse in his ankle. ARGH.

Two doses of horse aspirin, a good soak in epsom salts(his foot, not me, unfortunately), and a liberal slathering of poultice (some on his hoof, most on me) I wrapped a diaper around the offending appendage to keep it clean while the poultice did it's work. I secured everything with duct tape and said goodnight.

The sky today is blue and the sun is strong. It's breezy and although there is still a chill in the air, it's the best day we've had in a while. I checked Tucker again after lunch. He trotted over limping only slightly. He's mending quickly. I'm sure by tomorrow he will be fine; it's supposed to rain.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31st

On this day, in 1933, my father was born. Throughout my life, my dad was the source of comfort and affection. He ran a small Luncheonette, my home base for all of my childhood adventures.

I remember his voice booming down the cul-de-sac where my friends lived. He would call for me whenever I was late or avoiding responsibilities. He yelled a lot.

In our house, my dad had his chair, a hideous recliner that smelled of cooking grease and sweat. It was where my father would fall asleep whenever the television was on. Sometimes his snores drowned out the dialogue. He sat in that chair, cradling my infant son, rocking and humming softly. Ba-ba-do, ba-ba-do.

The worst thing my father could say to me was, "I'm disappointed in you." When he uttered those words, I was inwardly crushed, though my cold adolescent exterior defied my inner pain.

Nearly every weekend, he would wake up at 3:30 in the morning to accompany me to the barn. I would braid horses in the dawn. Once it was light, he brought me breakfast. He would not leave until others arrived. At the horse shows, he sat in his lawn chair and read the newspaper. He hated the monotony, but was there every time.

My dad loved my mother with a purity and strength I have never seen. They fought like petty children, and their ambitions were severely mismatched, but my dad had hitched his heart to my mother's star in the second grade and never let go.

He taught me how to fight cancer. He faced his disease with dignity and optomism. Every time his body failed him, he simply kept going. Until he could go no more. Even then, he died quietly, holding his life-long best friend's hand until she gave him permission to go. My sister and I were not invited to that leave-taking. We'd already said our goodbyes. He was 60 years old.

On what would have been his 70th birthday, I was struggling with my own cancer. I had had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma and some lymph nodes. It was a rainy day, my arm was swathed in bandages and an Outback coat, as I marched up and down the driveway with my horse. That evening, I said goodbye to a beloved friend.

I like to think my dad was waiting for him.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Didion's Vortex*

We left Denver and headed West on I-70. The greenish-yellow Ford Maverick sped toward the waiting range. Maps spread across the front bench seat. The windows were rolled down letting in the summer air. The highway threaded through canyons. Though the car rolled ever-upward, the mountains seemed to grow, their whitening peaks promising cool relief from the late June heat. I was the navigator, an easy task as there was only one possibility for us through the range. My aunt drove, fiddling with the radio and singing when no stations would register. I stared out the window looking for wildlife, though I saw mainly ground squirrels and soaring raptors. We were at the beginning of a three-week expedition through the American West.

Driving through Colorado, West on I-70, I followed the maroon Ford Ranger toward the looming Rockies. The engine of the silver rental I was driving strained as we headed up an incline. The clouds, a duller version of the car color broke apart as we red-lined up the incline. The stress of following another car, weaving through traffic, toward an unfamiliar destination caused palm-sweating hyper-awareness of the surroundings. The mountains erupted from the plain. A pathwork of bare red and gray rock, dark green pines and wispy scrub-grass dotted the slopes. Houses became sparser, neighborhoods gave way to clusters of log and glass homes pinholed into those dwindling places where building was possible. We laughed as we ascended deeper into the Rockies; our family Colorado adventure was just beginning.

We followed the maroon Ford Ranger up I-70, toward the mountains. The engine roared as I pushed on the accelerator. The gray clouds broke into blue patches. The rugged front range stood vanguard to its taller, snow-covered siblings. My knuckles were white, my palms sweaty from the anxiety of following my son toward an unfamiliar destination. And overwhelming memory. The chasm opening before me was not canyon nor ravine, the car was not careening into space. But something within my chest was falling, sinking into some dark and painful abyss. I counted swallows of mountain air, ignoring its sparser oxygen, instead, I focused on the action. Inhale. Exhale. The inner black mist dispersed. The turn-signal on my mother's old truck came on. We left the highway. I sighed as we turned toward the beauty of Red Rocks on the last day of our Colorado visit.

*Right after the "incident," (in my family, we call it the crash that took the lives of our mother and aunt the "incident," because, after all, a drunk driver slamming into the back of their car at 130mph isn't an accident) anyway, after the "incident," a professor recommended Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking. In that memoir, she descibes moments of overwhelming memory and grief that hit suddenly, ususally when a smell, or a scene, or a situation stir up a particular memory associated with a lost loved one. A kind of debilitating deja vu.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Thickening Skin

Can you hear them? The dulcet tones of rejection. Notes not written in e-mail or archaic pages, but the simple, gaping lack of a name on a list of finalists.

Maybe it's better this way. It is more impersonal than some form letter - a formulaic "Dear Writer, You suck and we couldn't possible publish your drivel in our paragon journal of modern fiction." OK. I have not received one even close to that, but my insecurity leaves even the most mundane, "Thanks, but sorry," the way it wants. And I did aim high- one of the more prestigious literary journals.

I am disappointed, but surprisingly not devastated. I think my writerly skin is thickening. I can look at this objectively and tell myself that the story I submitted is a hard one to place. It doesn't really fit neatly into a genre; it blurs the line between poetry and prose. There is a place for it somewhere and I am convinced it is worthy of publication. It's up to me to find its niche.

It is another example of how writing is becoming my job- the creative side and the administrative aspect, because finding appropriate markets takes time, sometimes as much or more than the actual creative process.

Meanwhile, my office is nearly finished. It awaits some pictures on the walls, the aging laptop on the desk, and my butt in the chair.

Let the submission process recommence.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Slothful Inspiration

Yesterday I took a much needed lazy day and the snow and wind outside encouraged indoor pursuits, filling me with a desire to nap. After a whirlwind week of home trailer repair, working on the barn office floor, taming a large(and vengeful) thornbush, raking the vegetable garden, and a visit from Mr. W.'s cousin(great fun!But I think next time, I will forego the butter on the movie popcorn. The after-effects were part of the lazy day inspiration), a day of lounging on the couch with a heating pad on my sore, knotted shoulder was wonderful.

What did I do? Obviously, I did not blog. I did read (Middlemarch, my continuing attempt at filling the literary gaps in my education), but mainly, I channeled my inner sofa vegetable, occasionaly straining my clicker-finger.

I watched part of Avatar and my favorite pieces of The Proposal- how I love that movie. I flicked back and forth, until, perusing the guide, I found Immortal Beloved on the Indie channel.

It's one of my favorite flicks. There is no one who can do genius/crazy like Gary Oldman. Imagine my delight, when in the beginning scenes. I recognized the square in front of Prague Castle. So there I was, lounging on my couch, sharing an afternoon with Beethoven and Prague.

Being the dork that I am, I grabbed my Kindle and downloaded the writings of Herr Ludwig and read excerpts as I listened to the dialogue. Very interesting. Very, very enlightening. I scratched just the surface, but I found ideas as stunning and complex as his music. And of course, there is the ideal of his "Unsterbliche Geliebte" (Immortal Beloved). And no one knows who she was.

So where did all this creative stirring take me?

I would love to say that it inspired a frenzy of ideas, sending me screaming to my computer to relieve the pressure of my fecund imagination, birthing exiting stories and pages of brilliance.

It did stir things up a bit. I jotted down a few new thoughts. Then watched The Bounty Hunter. Yeah. That killed all intellectual stimulation. I could feel my Muse writhing in the corners. I think she had a few vivid homicidal thoughts directed at yours truly during that irretreivable hour-and-a half. Though maybe she hated me more when I attempted "Moonlight Sonata" on my severely out-of-tune piano. Pathetic. I know. Especially when you consider that in the many, many, tortuous years of lessons, some at a reputable music school, I never mastered reading music...

There are always recordings by people who can actually play Beethoven and the books on my Kindle to relight the creative flame. Despite the dousing of the creative flame by stale romantic comedy, ideas are still swirling around my Muse, who is desparately trying to capture and tame them into something coherent.

I'll let you know how that works out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My New Motivator

The diet and increased exercise are going well. The barn office is coming along nicely. And spring is definitely in the air. My itch to ride is increasing and I intend to relish in some serious pony-time tomorrow-they are predicting sun and sixty!

But there is definitely more work to do, evidenced by the bursting of my "I'm-not-that-chubby" bubble. Some people say I suffer from body dismorphia. I choose to call it reality. I am not a size 2 and I never will be, but 4 used to be doable. Yes, clothing manufacturers have widened their size paramaters. I even have a couple of size 2 jeans that I could sausage my thighs into. Not so much anymore.

I am aware of my expanding girth, and with the wedding approaching, Mr. W. and I have been working with a personal trainer twice a week. We have a brand new elliptical machine in the basement. Admittedly, it isn't being worn out, but it has had company fairly regularly. And there was the week when it was drying out from taking a swim in 16 inches of flooded cellar.

There is nothing like reality TV to really hit you in the face with the reason why many celebrities are so skinny.

Last December, my sister, my future MIL, two of Mr. W.'s cousins, and I spent part of an afternoon at Kleinfeld, the home of the program, "Say Yes to the Dress." It was a memorable occassion, not entirely because I found THE DRESS, but also for the spectacle of the film crew and subjects.

On the day we were there, a young lady was being filmed choosing her dress. We knew nothing about her. Except that she was difficult to fit. She was very well endowed. Infact, her cups runneth over. Literally. And they kept squeezing her into strapless dress after strapless dress. Janet Jackson at the SuperBowl had nothing on wardrobe malfunctions.

Seeing her in her dresses made me feel positively svelte in my choices. I was feeling pretty good and I was ecstatic with my dress.

Last weekend, I got a message informing me that we, my posse and I, had actually made it onto the show. Granted, we were in the background, but there we were!

Scrambling to find a rerun or recording of the episode, my sister and I were disappointed to only find a preview. However, in one shot, there I was standing on my pedestal in a dress. Was it THE DRESS? I couldn't tell.

For three days I kept checking Amazon and iTunes to see if I could purchase the episode. I wanted to see if they had caught the look on my sister's face when the busty one came out of her dressing room, stuffed into a dress that would have made Tinkerbell jealous. (It turns out her friends picked it out and she hated it. She put it on to humor them. I applaud her bravery.)

My sister did make it on film and I must say, she looked great. I have to say that my parents' investment in her smile really paid off.

I paused the video on my large computer screen. There I was. And yes, it is THE DRESS. It's distorted by the pixilated picture, though it is still beautiful. I, on the other hand saw how desperately I need to step up the diet and exercise.

My mother always used to tell me, "You're not fat, you're chunky." Yeah. I'm beyond chunk wavering into full-blown chubbo status. You can tell me that TV adds ten, twenty, thirty pounds. And I'll politely nod and thank you. But I won't believe you.

Don't worry. Although I would like to starve myself for a few weeks (I know what people say about starvation diets, but let's be real. Anorexics are skinny.) Food deprivation works. Luckily, I have no will-power when it comes to food. I get hungry. I promise myself I'll only have an apple, or some cereal, or a couple of clementines, which evolves into, why don't I just eat lunch now. Of course later, I want a snack...

I guess this is another good reason to hole-up in the barn during the day. I'll stock the mini-fridge with carrots and water. I'll be able to write and diet simultaneously. Sounds like a plan to me! Just have to forget about the summer supply of Haagen Daas ice cream bars in the nearby pool house...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Forward

We set the clocks ahead, lost the hour of sleep, and woke to a gray and damp-cold day, but somehow, I feel that Spring is winning the struggle to throw off the white and windy mantle of Winter.

Of course, that means more snow will fall. I saw some flakes fluttering in the air when I was at the barn. I'm sure I was hallucinating. The time change and all...hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The exciting part, for me anyway, is I have the desk in place for my barn office/writing cave. The room still needs arranging and organization, however, I am that much closer to an internet-less, dog-less (no, Putter does not count as a dog-he already has a bed waiting there), fuzzy-purring-keyboard-punnching-lap-monster-less office.

Let the creativity flow and the writing commence!

Ok. I do have visions of Chevy Chase in "Funny Farm."

I can see it... The lamp is on, casting a warm glow upon my laptop, which will run oh so much better without the internet temptation. I sip my glass of water, glance at the horse pictures adorning the wall, before turning to the cursor waiting for the magical flow from imagination to fingers to screen. I type. I delete. I type. I delete.

With a deep breath, I pause and gaze out the window at the horses grazing in the paddock, warm sun glistening off their hides. They inspire my thoughts. I type. I delete. I type. Hey, that wasn't bad! I find a rhythm, filling a page with new images and ideas. The magic tickles, it's not there, but it hovers close. Another page filled and it sputters, fizzling like a candle wick drowning in wax.

I sigh. My attention returns to the gleaming horseflesh...Is it noon, yet?

Really, I am sure I have the discipline to remain in my perfect writing nook, working diligently toward finishing at least one of my many projects (I have chosen one to focus on. No. I have. Honest.), and striving toward my goal of publication.

How do I know this? How can I be so sure? Because I have a plan.

I'm going to ride first. Or pray for rain.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Last Horsey Hug

Last night I went to the barn to bring in the horses. Gil and Tucker came in as usual,but Cosmo did not come to the gate. Instead, he stood in the paddock with his head hanging a bit, his sheepish expression telling what I needed to know. My hand covered my mouth almost of its own volition. Tears blurred my vision.

I trudged across the mud and clipped the leadshank to his halter. He placed his long head against my chest, something he typically does to garner some ear-stroking. I call it a hug.

As my fingers careesed the copper fur, he sighed. It was time.

I turned toward the barn, he stumbled as his left hind leg buckled a bit. He dragged it a few inches before he was able to lift it and take a proper step. Together, we shuffled toward his waiting stall.

"Can you hang on until Thursday?" I asked him as he munched his grain. He didn't answer my selfish request. I had to go to New York for an appointment, I wouldn't be able to arrange all the details to relieve his pain the next day.

But this morning. Cosmo would not leave the barn. He shuffled out of his stall to the barn door, but would go no farther. I wanted to scream, to change my plans, call Mr.W.'s mother and tell her to go to our appointment with the party rental company without me. I wanted to forget about wedding plans, have a good cry and lead my horse on his final journey. But I couldn't. I had to go to New York and he couldn't wait.

So while I was choosing table linens, wine glasses, china, chairs, and serving plates, my good doober was taking one last walk. Without me.

Maybe, in some way, that was what Cosmo wanted. Maybe, like my sister says, he saved me, by some spiritual transferrence, from another bought of melanoma. Maybe, the tumors that grew so furiously through his body were meant for me and he, sweet and kind soul that he was, suffered them without complaint. Or, maybe it was all just some strangely cruel twist of fate or life, devoid of higher purpose or divine reason. He simply contrated the same disease as his owner. There are no easy answers.

Tonight, I cherish the good things, the head hugs, his groans of enjoyment during a good roll in the snow, his contented form basking in the sun. I will remember how he wobbled down the road like a drunken sailor, half-turned toward the barn, then suddenly trotting ahead to see what waited around the next curve. I don't think there is another horse that can travel forward while craning his neck around to look back, but Cosmo could. He'd clumsily walk into you, then lower his head in shame when you yelled at him for crushing your toes. He'd whinny and trot circles in his stall if left alone, requiring a bath for simply "standing" in his stall. He'd turn himself inside out to avoid walking through a puddle, then when you were ready to pull out your hair, he'd calmly splash through the offending water, as if saying, "Oh. You wanted me to go through that? Why didn't you say so?"

Above all, I will remember his gentleness. I will miss the happy sparkle in his eyes, his big blaze hanging over the stall door, the way he would, at every opportunity push the stall door with his nose to stand in the opening.

Most of all, the gentle press of his head against my body, his warm breath against my stomach, and the fragrant softness of his forelock against my cheek. Nobody gave horsey hugs like Cosmo.

Goodbye my good doober, my "blonde" boy, "Meemo", "Mo". Thank you for everything my Cosmo.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Whole Lot of Nothing

I do my best thinking in the barn. While I sift and flip frozen poo-apples, I come up with so many lovely things to write.

This morning, my thoughts turned to a conversation I had in Mr.W. and my favorite restaurant. It's amazing the deep discussions that arise while eating pork spare ribs and pureed potatoes(I ordered it without the cole slaw-don't like cole slaw).

Fellow diner, Anthony, and I followed a myriad of topics ranging from the Nasca lines, racehorses, the crisis in Libya, and the Israeli/Arab conflict. Actually, it was a fun and enlightening exchange.

Which brings me to my thoughts this morning. I considered writing an essay extolling my views on the problems facing Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli government.(It doesn't help that I am currently reading a large tome reporting the changes and wars within Lebanon. Ironically, the opening scene occurs near Auschwitz.)

But as I left the barn, my plans for the day overtook my editorial intentions. Insetad, I finished my project in the guest bedroom. I ironed a bedskirt, made up the bed, arranged decorative pillows, and hung some pictures.

After, I felt a bit dirty. I abhor housework.

I then proceeded to clean the fish tank, removing copious amounts of stringy, gooey, algae, and inhaling a bit of disgusting fish sewage when I tried to start the siphon(it was supposed to be self-starting. They lied.)

Maybe it was the anticipated ridicule, when those who know me best, wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I mean, ironing?? Really? Or it could be the onset of some rare malady, brought on by piscean refuse.(I could look at it as an immune-system strengthening opportunity, but actually, it was only disgustingly gross. Yes, I spit and rinsed for quite a while.)

The end result? Political rantings are saved for another day, perhaps when I finish the office in the barn and I can tap my stall-cleaning-induced rantings while they are still fresh in my mind.

If not, there is still the shoe department at Saks to talk about.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How I Know I am Marrying a Saint

Mr.W. and i strolled happily from Tiffanys. Another thing checked off the wedding list. Next step? Clothing for him.

When we first began planning this grand event(which has taken on a life of its own), Mr.W. nixed black tie right off. Ok. No problem. So what do you want to wear?
Blazer, white shirt, tie, and khakis. No penguin suits. Ok. No probelm.

All was well until he mentioned that he had the blazer, a nice white shirt, and a few pairs of khakis to choose from. All he needed was a tie and he was all set. Uh...Problem!

If I was wearing an extravagant and exhorbitantly expensive dress, which I could only wear that one day, well, then pulling old clothes out of his closet(pleated front khakis to boot!). No way. Uh uh. Nada. Not going to fly.

To the rescue came one of the groomsmen, the one I affectionately call "Sally". Why, you ask? Well, all I can say is you've never heard him order dinner. I'll split the steak(with his girlfriend), with, could I have...haricot vert instead of the asparagaus? Oh, thank you, that would be wonderful, love. (he's British). And could we have extra fries and sauce, on the side?" It's the constant request for sauce on the side that gets me. But I digress.

This particular groomsman politely refused to wear khakis. He had never worn khakis. Would never wear khakis. Hated khakis. After a ten minute ramble of like sentiments, expressed vehemently, punctuated by lots of British slang(he's the only person I know from whom the word 'wanker' seems natural). Mr. W. got the point.

And that is the short version of how we ended up heading toward Brooks Brothers to order a new blue blazer and some nice, new, summer-weight gray flannel slacks. Cue the Halleluiah chorus.

Found BB and proceeded inside, at first simply browsing, then looking for a salesperson. And there she was. An older woman, leaning against a table.

"Can I help you?" she asked. She was definitely a native New Yorker. I explained what we were looking for. She shook her head. They had nothing that would fit Mr. W., who is short. She proceeded to describe the kind of short-waisted pant he would need, which they did not carry. If he were to wear the pants they offer, "the crotch would be dragging around his knees." Ok. Got it.

Onward, the intrepid shoppers went. Hmmm..... where to go.

"Do you mind if we take a stroll through Saks, Fifth Ave?" I inquired. Mr. W. was more than happy to oblige. Boy, he'll never do that again. Insert evil laugh.

My mother used to get her face care products at the Saks on Belmont Ave. in Philadelphia. It was torture. She wandered around looking at the clothes, the coats, the jewelry, then proceeded to the Erno Lazlo counter to buy what she came for. This was before my affection for shopping developed. Ah, the lost opportunities.

Well, we could rectify that. Through the doors, Mr. W. and I plunged into the mob, skirting the myriad make-up counters, and filing past the individual boutiques. Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, all vying for my attention. Up the escalator we went. The next floor offered rack upon rack of designer temptations. I meandered around the floor, touching, coveting, reveling in... oh, see that Armani skirt and jacket? wouldn't they be perfect for the rehearsal dinner?

In my defense, I snapped out of it before even looking at the price tag! Onward around the spiraling arrangements, back to the excalator. Up, up up!Six floors of row after row of exquisite clothes. Isn't this dress pretty? $1800??? Not that pretty.

The men's department starts on the sixth floor. And yes, I walked through every floor below. Poor Mr. W., but, after all, we were here for him. (I know. I know. Does it really make me a bad person?)

For the first time, I was a bit overwhelmed. And Mr. W. staggered along in a daze.
"Do you see anything?"
"I don't know."
"What do you want to do?"
"I don't know."

We needed help. I approached a young man who was more than happy to help. Summer weight blue blazer? Mr. W. tried on a few before finding one that was close. Next, he took a pair of low-rise, light-weight gray slacks into the dressing room.

After being assured it was allowed, I took a seat on one of the couches in the main area of the room, while Mr. W. locked himself in one of the private rooms. I watched the antics of the small, busy tailor and the other customers while I waited for Mr. W. to reappear. And waited. And waited.

I turned to our helper, "He's going to need a bigger size."
"How do you know?"
"Trust me. I know." Sure enough, Mr.W. reappeared wearing his...khakis.

After a few more attempts, another salesman came in and offered his two cents.
"I'm not sure he's going to find what he needs here." Oh no. Not again. "You might have to try Men's Warehouse or Simms. He needs something called a 'portly short.'"

Um. Right. I could see that going over really well.

I saw the tailor hovering around my affianced, his head was shaking. I watched him exchange a few words with our young salesman, who then ran out of the dressing room on a mission.

What he brought back fit well. The tailor made his marks, pinned the pants, and voila! We had the makings of an outfit. Turning to me, the tailor handed me a tag.
"This is the brand and the style he needs. Keep that, so you'll know in the future." he gave me a couple of other possibilites and hurried off to another customer.

Mission accomplished. But....

The shoe department is on the eighth floor...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Unexpected Interruption

I was going to post the second half of my New York week, in which Mr. W. is dragged through floor after floor of women's clothing, then subjected to trying on clothes for himself, but something happened this afternoon that changed my intentions.

I recieved a message through the writer's forum I belong to. It was a simple message, referring to a flash fiction piece I submitted for critique.

It is pertinent to mention at this point, that the last thing I submitted was a poem. A poem that was sumarily, and probably deservedly, ripped apart. The logical side of my brain understood the criticism, even appreciated the honest feed back. It was what I asked for, and truthfully, honesty is what I respect most. And every one has their opinion; I don't have to take it all personally or even dseriously. My reaction to the responses, however, was general depression, followed by severe questioning of my writerly desires. I need to be like a turtle and let things roll off my back, but this proved I'm not there yet.

So imagine my surprise, when I logged in a few hours ago and found a private message lauding my flash piece. The reader admitted that my writing had moved her to tears. Wow.

I have to explain that the story is abstract, blurring the line between prose and poetry. And yes, I wrote it purposely that way. Originally, I wrote it for a specific contest, with a certain judge in mind.

It was something I wrote out in an hour and a half. I spent many more on editing and tweaking, but in general, this work flowed. The text poured out of some special place in my head, filtered into my typing fingers, and appearing on the page. It was magical.

And I am extremely proud of it.

So imagine my fear and trepidation when I decided to post it on that site for suggestions and criticism. I have given it to friends and family to read and they gave it glowing reviews. What can I say? I'm insecure.

At first, there were no reactions, then a few comments on the language and how it blurred the line between metaphor and reality (the main characters are referred to as the Sun and the Moon). The two or three initial readers mainly mentioned reading it multiple times to understand the whole piece. I should mention it is a whopping 940 words.

This was weeks ago and nothing more was said. I should note, that the particular section of the forum is not one of the more popular. My small offering quietly huddled in the corner, waiting for someone else to wander by.

And wander they did, culminating in the message I received today. It is amazing how one negative comment affected my mood. This resoundingly positive one did the same. I feel vindicated, I feel humbled, and above all, I feel like a writer.

I have entered this piece into another contest. The results should be posted around the end of March. My fingers are crossed. But in a way, I feel like I've won.

I guess you'll have to wait for the next New York adventure, because I am off to appease my inner muse and write!

Monday, February 21, 2011

NYC Twice in a Week

I met my sister at the Met. The museum, not the opera. Since she arrived at Penn Station and I disembarked at Grand Central, the museum seemed like a logical place to meet. Ok. There were better options, but I am still in the city learning curve.
And I like the museum.

I had some time to wait, so I ventured through the Assyrian and Mesopotamian art (amazing to look at the tile lions from the Babylon), past the huge Bodhissatva statues and a magnificent wall of Buddhist art, and into the serenity of the Asian wing, where an exhibit of furniture and art from the Forbiddden City was displayed.
I wandered in my typical art-appreciation daze, gaping at the exquisite detail and beauty of the pieces, while checking my phone periodically.

Oops. No signal. Didn't I just have four bars?

I rushed back through, down the great stairs, through the atrium and outside, searching the taxis discharging passengers.

"There you are!" My sister strolled up behind me from where she had been leaning against a column. "Did you get my text?" No, I hadn't.

We began walking toward J Crew where we had a 1:00 appointment to look at bridesmaids dresses.

Buzz, buzz, buzz. I glanced at my phone. "Oh, look. You're here!"

We were early for our appointment, so after wandering up and down Madison Ave. a few times, deciding that Nicole Miller had changed her demographic, half-heartedly trying to find a place to eat, and finally wastiing enough time, we returned to the store.

We found a color contender and rejected, vehemently, another. Of course, then we were hungry. Shake Shack here we come. A delicious lunch (what is better than burger, fries, and a shake? Not great for the waistline, but oh, so yummy) and we headed back to our respective train stations for the journey home. Doesn't the ten block walk negate the calorie count of the lunch?

Train ride repeat Saturday morning, although this time with Mr. tow. We were staying the night in his mother's fabulous apartment. A night away from critters. Yay!

We dropped our bag(yes, one bag. This time I did not overpack!)and headed to Tiffany's to pick out wedding bands. Oh yeah.

Let me just say, that the shopping experience at Tiffany & Co. is everything you could imagine, and then some.

After perusing the cases, our sales person, Tony, sat us down and asked what we might want. Platinum? Check. Plain band? Full circle gemstones? Or stones along the front? Decisions, decisions.

Now, my sister is under the impression, from a joking text I sent her about a sapphire and diamond band, that I had my heart set on that from the get-go. Not true. Actually, the one I liked best online, clashed with my engagement ring. Because of my life-style, ok, I mean that I am rough on rings, really rough, I was worried about the life-expectancy of some of the rings. But this is Tiffany's! At least I am going try stuff on. Bring on the bling!

As I was playing fantasy dress up (Holly Golightly eat your heart out!), a young tuxedoed male model came over to offer us some refreshment. Water, soda, or, perhaps champagne? Tempting, but it was a bit early for me to start with alcohol. We opted for water. Still? Or sparkling? Still. I wasn't going to make the same mistake my sister made a J Crew, when she shocked me by opting for sparkling. Let's leave it at, Pellegrino was not what she was expecting.

With the help of Tony, I was able to narrow it down to three sparkling lovelies. Mr. W.'s turn. I think his decision was much simpler. He's a guy. They sized his finger, he tried on a few, flexing his hand to see how they felt, unlike me, who had to wave them around in front of the mirror.

Within five minutes, he had a winner. Back to my three finalists. Ring one, on finger, consult mirror. No. Rings two and three? Consult mirror, ask Mr. W., ask Tony, tempted to ask the woman trying on bands at the next counter, maybe the security guard can help? Finally, ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

And it is...

The one I joked about to my sister. But it was a close race. Mr. W. chose a platinum band called Tiffany Legacy (which was the style I had originally wanted for myself, but it didn't go with my engagement ring.

Next adventure: finding clothes for Mr. W.,otherwise known as: Brain-fried in Saks, Fifth Avenue

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Long Wait

I've been sitting in front of my screen these days, waiting for that spark of inspiration, for an attack of witty genius.

It's a long wait.

That's why I haven't posted for a week. Did you miss me?

In the intervening weeks, I've trolled various forums, driven to Vermont, been to NYC to look at bridesmaid dresses, and unwilingly watched my "good-doober" horse break out in more insidious, fast growing lumps. He's lumpy. His steps are much slower these days, but his ears perk and he basks in the sun, with an expression that can only be interpreted as contentment. He groans happily when he rolls, blanket-less, in the sun-softened snow. It's not time yet, but it's coming.

My sadness is countered by all the progress for the wedding. The invitation proofs await approval, I met my sister in NYC to look at bridesmaid dresses, and tomorrow, Mr. W. and I head back to the city to pick out his outfit and wedding rings.

Wednesday I drove to Vermont with one of my NY friends. We had lunch at the Pub (yes, I had a Belhaven at noon!), meeting one of my VT friends there, bridging the gap between my past and my future. The farm is still standing. Phew. And I brought back my chocolate fountain. I have priorities.

Hmm...And I wonder why I am not losing weight?

I have found some motivation to work on the BFNE, more editing than writing. It's not that I am stuck. No, never that. Or that I had a blow to my fragile ego in the form of a particularly honest, and correct, critique of a poem I submitted on a writing forum. I am still tweaking it.

In general, mid-February, for me, tends to feel like the longest month. There are the teasingly warm days, melting snow, and stronger sun, beckoning me to ride, until I realize that the roads are still a treacherous combination of mud and ice, The fields have deep drifts of crunchy white. And there is my propensity to love thin-skinned, energetic Thoroughbreds, who have spent the dark, cold winter months in a fantasy of semi-feral freedom. All that energy, just waiting to be unleashed...

Tucker isn't like that, but he does seem to need a good gallop, based on his turnout antics. Bottom line, it would take a braver soul than I to throw a leg over his back without some lunging first.

Until a blast of intelligent blather spews from my fingertips, I will content myself with editing, dreams of warm weather, the promise of riding, and making wedding plans. It is, what it is. And maybe it won't seem like such a long wait.