Category Archives: Life

Horses Save us Money!

Most of our significant others have the mistaken impression that this is the green stuff we feed our horses:

Stock Image: Fifties Picture. Image: 64981

© Photographer John Hix | Agency: Dreamstime.com

But in higher denominations.

It is not the least bit telling that I had to find this photo on the internet. Because my wallet has a single dollar bill. That’s just smart, right? With all the muggers waiting  in all the non-existent alleys in this small town, it’s better to leave,  um, “excess” cash* in the bank. (Do NOT let your significant other read the stuff after asterisk.)

*I know, I know: “excess cash” is a foreign concept. I’ll save you Googling time: excess cash is money beyond what one needs to pay one’s “household” bills.

In which there are no line-items entitled “Hudson’s dentistry”,  “Dover breeches sale”, or “supplements”.  (Those things are covered under “dentist”, “clothing allowance”, and “emergency medical savings”.)

How horses save us money:

  • No fancy gym membership fee!

Theoretically, we get all the exercise we need from riding.  Or more common: hours spent trudging after horses in pasture, because acreage causes horses to forgot they have names. What grain is. And who we are. (Ask Daisy.)

  • No pricey hair stylist fees!

It all comes down to helmet hair.  Which ‘style’ works best with baseball hats and riding helmets? The universal (men and women) pony tail. Hair elastics: $2 for 100.

  • No pricey hair products!

I just bring home a little ShowSheen, to make it seem like I meant my hair to be COMPLETELY FLAT, I mean sleek.  Like J-Lo.

  • Target is our friend!

Everything except the boots and breeches: Target sale racks. The secondary purpose of our clothing is to serve as giant horse napkins anyway.

Target, (pronounced Tar-Jay to confuse friends who refuse to shop anywhere but Bloomingdale’s) has a wide choice of colors favorable to the horse woman: “alfalfa slime” green, “hit the dirt” arena gray, and “winter mud” chocolate.  I’ve even seen some bright “Furicin” yellow in their workout wear! Check out the teen section for “I’m confused” pattern mixtures.  I’ve spotted Horsewoman Cammo. Hides all the colors above, even Betadine.

  • No Botox! No Filler!

Since we are regularly smacked in the face by Dobbin’s 50 lb boney head in our attempts to hug his sweet wittow bittee adawabol face, we all have giant lips, nicely snug skin (covers the swelling) and, if we’re lucky, bruising. (see below)

  • Half the make-up costs!

Because of the black eye (technically purple, green, or yellow), we only need to use those outdated colors – perpetually on sale – on the remaining eye that is not black! Win-win if you have two black eyes.

This photo (Google Images) illustrates my point, nicely covering all stages of bruising:

makeupstyleideas.com

We just happen to have horse-related proof. What a coincidence!

(Warning for the non-horsey, graphic photo.)

Jane’s not-supermodel eye yesterday morning (no make up) after hugging Hudson the day before:

Oops. I missed.

Ta-Da! Five minutes later, with 75% off bruise-green eye shadow, we have something one would only see on a runway of a famous designer. (Granted, after hiring a truly sloppy makeup artist):

Instant Runway makeup!

Fine. I do need to invest in some 90 % off red eyeliner. And be slightly more careful in application. And possibly wax my brows again.

The great thing? I’ve only covered the personal-care expense category.
How does your horse save YOU money?

In Which Jane Yells “Pick Me” and Gets…Picked?!

One of the trainers at our barn needed a bit of barn help.  Did I mention she’s a terrific instructor? Positive.  Cheerful.  She knows how to use her words.

Given some of the life events over the last year or so, I haven’t um, exactly ridden much.  Oh I’ve been packed around daily.  Not the same as real riding.

Riding: that state in which you tell the horse what to do? And meandering doesn’t just “happen”? And tack is involved? And you sit upright, instead of laying your head on horse’s butt while he grazes?

Trainer put the word out she was looking for someone she could teach to help her out on the ground, preferably with some horse knowledge.  If we knew of anyone, let her know.

Ever the mature 3rd grader, I thrust my hand in the air and waved wildly. “I will!! I will!!”

In front of other people.  (Sadly, I am not exaggerating.  Points for enthusiasm?) Gah.

Momentarily taken aback, she said, “Really…?” Pause. “You want to…?”

I had one horrible moment of very adult embarrassment, presuming she was thinking: “How will I politely get rid of this ancient broad who might fall and not get up?”

This is usually an agreement for the 20-something beginning rider.  Not the 50-something sort-of rider that trainer has watched dozing on Hudson’s butt.

Luckily, she was actually thinking (or so she claims): “It could work? I won’t have to spend so much time training…”

I can do many key things: bandages, blankets, basic grooming, lunging, tacking up, read body language, and stay out of the strike zone. I don’t panic.  I’ve uncast horses, treated abscesses, can give shots, eye medication, deworm, check capillary refill rate and know when a tendon is iffy.

Most importantly, it’s possible I’m the best carrot-dispenser on the planet.

It’s the riding part I’ve never quite gotten down.

Hudson was a bit put out.  He’d begun to enjoy doing a lot of nothing outside his paddock.  After our first few rides however, he came out of the arena on jetpacks, proud as proud could be: every stride swung with “I’m a working man. Did you SEE that? I am AWESOME.”

You sure are, buddy!

In Which We Are Not Dead, Appreciate You to Pieces, and Promise Daisy

To sum up my long absence:

1. I forgot how to use my words.
2. I misplaced my sense of humor.
3. My bed developed magical magnetic powers, coupled with this siren’s call: “Just pull the covers over your head. Voila. No more problems!”

Had I been operating on an emotional level a little greater than a three year old, I might have recognized this as a trick.

I may or may not have forgotten how to make a peanut butter sandwich. (You must admit, there is some degree of difficulty there: if we count opening TWO jars, and figuring out which slice of bread gets peanut butter, and which gets jelly.)

I’ve had a post-it note on my computer (fridge, mirror, closet, and most importantly…bed) with this quote from Winston Churchill: When you are going through hell…DON’T STOP.

Thank you for your wonderful encouraging comments and letters. So many days YOU kept me going. (Without one timely display of my great appreciation! Um. Sorry? Yeah, I didn’t think that would really help.)

Other days it was my friends.

Daisy, texting me: WHEN IN THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO POST ON YOUR BLOG?!? Write something, dammit!

Bella: Hey. The story you just told me? THAT would be a great blog post. (Pause) How long has it been now?

Hilary: I think people might miss you?

Daisy: PUT SOMETHING ON THE DAMN BLOG! Who cares if it sucks?

Alice (Feigning innocence): Oh. Are you still writing the blog? What’s on it now?

Bella: See? Another funny story. Perfect for the blog.

Hilary: You’ll get there. Or maybe not. But it’s okay!

Daisy: PROMISE ME. YOU WILL PUT SOMETHING UP ON THE BLOG. PROMISE!! Just tell people you’re not dead. I’m going to bug you till you promise. FYI next year doesn’t count.

I promised Daisy.

Our family has been through a lot of life changes. And surprise, we’re not dead! (It took me awhile to grasp the concept: Change does not = Death.)

I re-entered life in baby steps. Here’s my (tiny) funny story:

I was riding Woodrow for Bella, and ponying Hudson. It was rainy, cold and both wanted to go. Both are experts on either end of the pony experience. I wasn’t worried about speeding up. Off we went into a happy canter, Hudson staying perfectly at my knee.

I laughed when Hudson, still being the perfect pony horse, began bucking, bouncing and otherwise expressing joy on the end of his lead. Never pulling, never moving out of his “being ponied” bubble.

I was completely unconcerned.

Because in my gloom, I’d forgotten joy is contagious. Especially bucking joy.

Within seconds, Woodrow joined in (“Hey, if its okay for him, it must be okay for me, right?”).

Luckily, he still had on his “I’m still working” manners hat. He just lifted his rear 12 inches and kicked out. Or I would have been eating dirt. A lot of dirt. The boy is a TANK. And he out bucks any horse I’ve ever seen. (When turned out.)

It was a good reminder joy is contagious, and I need to be around folks who buck, leap, and kick out.

Which would be YOU.

The Happy Update: Chock Full of iPhone Photos!

The last surgery for our beloved family member was on Monday.  It could not have gone better!

Now if life will simply revert back to Plan A, we’ll be back on our horsey track soon!  Thanks for hanging in with us.

We stuffed the week before the surgery with all kinds of goodies, especially visual ones. (Eye surgery: you’d wake up seeing…or not.) The need to view gorgeousness called for a trip to the ocean on Coleman Valley Road.  If you are ever in Northern California, and are not intimidated by drives that some describe as harrowing, write me, and I’ll tell you how to find the road.  Usually only travelled by locals and Lance Armstrong-type bicyclists.

We saw:

and:

Then we got back in the car for more:

We ended up here, at Coleman Beach:

We did not walk down to the “beach” (Air quotes: reflect lack of sand, level of wave danger, and absurd amount of jagged rocks) because the path fell off. Literally.

Sadly, our govenor cut the parks budget, so there is no “You Are About to Fall to An Untimely Death” sign.

From there, we drove to The Dog House for the best hotdogs EVer (and all you can eat fries!). Then back to Bodega Head, where we climbed the cliff below.

Pictured is the only section not bristling with binoculors, sunhats, chairs, zoom lenses and folding tables holding whale bones. (It’s whale watching season.) One of the kids innocently (uh-huh) pointed at a far rock submerged in the ocean and said “Look! A whale!!!”, giving about 50 people instant whiplash.

Looking down:

FYI, those are house sized rocks, not whale sized rocks.

Looking to the right:

A wonderful day, a wonderful outcome, a good life!

The Waiting Room

Our beloved family member had surgery on Monday, and it went very well.  So well, in fact, we had to sit on her to keep her from, oh I don’t know, GOING SHOPPING.

If I had to condense my part of the experience it would go something like this:

worry worry worry

anxiety worry worry fear worry

is that food? no? I should eat anyway worry worry munch munch worry

worry I know! I need a slab of cake worry worry anxiety munch munch worry

Oh no! my pants don’t fit sob rend worry worry anxiety I bet what I really need to do is eat more to ease the tension worry worry worry munch munch munch

stuff patient in car worry FEAR worry worry worry

drive worry worry “oh for heaven’s sake, don’t drive past the hospital!” disgust

worry worry worry

This is my brain on “Oh No, A Surgery!”

I thought once we arrived, it might get easier.  I’ve noticed stuff gets easier once you pass the point of being capable of action. (It’s difficult to snatch the patient back once they’ve been whisked away to pre-op.)

I stare around the waiting room.  At first, nothing registers, except it’s pleasant.

Then I panic. Oh God.  The waiting room is pleasant to the point of soothing. There’s the sound of a fountain trickling, the lighting is fresh feeling.  Plants flourish. The walls are a muted make-everyone’s-skin-look-good pink, more suited to a spa or dermatology office. There’s a sculpture.  A book of patient poetry.

The chairs are clean.  Soft.  Pastel printed. I clamp my hand over my mouth.

SHE’S GOING TO DIE!

No one puts this much effort into a hospital waiting room unless soothing relatives is an absolute requirement.

Last year, when the doctor expected an ‘outpatient procedure’ to be in and out, she did almost die. The 15 min procedure went on for 2 hours, then 3, then 4…I had to stop looking at the clock.

I had waited perched on an ancient coffee-stained sofa, wedged in a dark hallway corner. Daisy and Lily both came after I called them in a panic, when the 2 hour mark passed.  We alternated standing and sitting. A large nurses station, populated with harrassed, annoyed nurses, was positioned between me and the operating room doors.

No fountain. No plants. No mood lighting. No magazines at that hospital: they did not expect any problems.

I look up from this memory in horror.

A nurse smiles at me soothingly from the beige-pink counter.  “She’s going to be fine”, the nurse says, with true compassion.

I have to get her out.

The nurse sees my escalating panic and misreads me, saying “She’s already in surgery, don’t worry, she’ll be out in fifteen minutes.”

Thought 1: NO! Not FIFTEEN MINUTES?

Thought 2: Where the heck is the cafeteria?!?

Post-Op: she’s fine. It only took 13 minutes. In at 7 am, out at 10:30 am and driving home.  Crossing my fingers for the next surgery.

I really have to find a better way to deal with stress.

For those of you who are not hard-wired to eat in times of stress, what helps you cope?

Give us This Day Our Daily Irony

San Quentin: the Scenic Prison.

It was a gorgeous day.

I had to run an errand that was near the Richmond Bridge. Specifically, I had to take the exit for San Quentin. (You know, home to our friends Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Charles Ng, Scott Peterson, and other horrific  murderers.)

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken that exit. I have to admit, San Quentin is stunning. It glows a beautiful pale yellow in the light off San Francisco Bay. The razor wire is all glittery and sparkly.

Exit is straightforward. Prison Men’s Correctional Facility to your right: you can see one of the first guard towers from the exit.

The signs cracked me up.

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Turn right to go to the prison or…

…left for a more Scenic view.

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Given the choice, I’ll take the scenic view every time….

(click “more” to see Wikipedia photos of prison)

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When Knitters Protest

The upside to numerous medical appointment driving: I’ve been in four different towns in  three days. One of them was the infamous dog park town. Definitely breaks up the monotony, to drive all these places.

Knitters there have “tagged” a light post and a bicycle rack, by literally knitting around it.  I look at the yellow bicycle rack cozy, and the red striped lamp-post warmer.

I resist the urge to shove my fist in the air and shout “Solidarity!”

There is an underground guerilla knitting cell here.  I was a member.

We met secretly in each other’s homes, knitting our hearts out, without patterns. 

Now THIS was knitting on the edge. We were tough, reveling in the gritty front line of no-holds-barred, full-bore, all out knitting. I knit my first pair of gloves here, starting at the wrist, and knitting up the hand, trying on as I went, deciding to *offset the thumbs.

*Translation: making a right and a left glove, because, if you look at your hands, they aren’t interchangeable, and the thumbs sit down and more toward the palm.

Nice to remember my glory rebel days, when knitting wasn’t a granny occupation, but an act of defiance, refusing to be owned by the corporate pattern companies.

Hey, everyone has to have their own comfort level at defying the status quo.  Mine just happened to involve pointy sticks and string.

Odd. Yesterday, a different town had a public trash can “tagged” by a guerilla knitter. S/he presumably knitted around the can in the dark of night.  Huh. It was right outside my favorite bookstore.

Today, more waiting in yet another town.  I walked down to Starbucks to kill time, past the library, and was startled to see  more knitted “tagging”.

Well.  Who can argue with that sentiment?  Not me!

I’m not sure if this is a local movement, or there is a bigger, more focused grass-roots movement, to protest or call for support, via Rebel Knitters. As far as I can tell, it’s been focused around…books…?

I wonder how dangerous it would be to contact my former cell…

Update: thanks to our wonderful commentors, we learn knitting is being used all over the world as a powerful protest tool.  Some examples (click on photo for original site):

Tank Cozy:

Knitted House and Landscape:

Street signs:

A bus in the UK:

It’s called guerilla knitting or “yarn bombing”, as crochet is often an easier tool to wrap things in. In fact, here’s a great blog on the subject:

Yarn Bombing

Now pardon me, I have a knitted bus to catch before I miss the movement!

 

Jane Gives a Turtle a Shot, And We Find Out Stuff…

Rereading the last post, I realize how wonderful you are.  You read it, and there’s not one bad comment!  In my head, the last post was…cohesive…and…

…hilarious.

I marvel at my capacity for wishful thinking.

So here’s the deal: I’ll keep posting, and it may or may not be readable interesting, and hopefully, my sense of humor will be tricked into returning.

Great inspiration for doing, not thinking, can be found at The Barb Wire. (Thank you, Tamara!)

~~~~

Photo of a Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carol...

Once upon a time, there was a woman named, oh I don’t know….Jane…who lived in a house with 32 front stairs, in a dust-scented, sun-dappled redwood forest. Her three horses lived a few miles away.

She was definitely not in danger of being a crazy cat-lady. She only had two cats.

And two dogs, and four parrots, and one bunny, and one large box turtle, Celeste.

One day, Jane noticed Celeste wasn’t feeling well.

Jane liked to watch Celeste eat. Celeste’s fast snatching, and slow, methodical chomping made her think of prehistoric things like raptors,  T-Rex’s,  tangly jungles, and plants that eat bugs.

Everyone knows these things are cool, and much nicer to think about than calculating wholesale output + shipping costs, X expected shelf foot-print, X expected turn over time, = potential markup.

Or having to ask the really big shirtless guy to please remove the expensive silk scarf he’s trying to shoplift out of his armpit.

Yes, watching Celeste poke her head out of her expandable neck, and snap up a piece of lettuce like a predator, then freeze, presumably to see if a bigger predator happened to notice her, is a lot more fun than looking up at a big smelly guy while both of you pretend it’s normal that he’s pulling an unpaid-for scarf out of …blech.

Anyway.

Celeste’s golden eyes were dull. She hadn’t moved all night. A normal person would kiss the box turtle goodbye.  Abnormal people cart their turtles to the reptile veterinarian for a check up.

The vet is surprised to see a common box turtle. He usually sees only very rare and expensive reptiles. He was probably thinking, “why doesn’t she just kiss the box turtle goodbye?”.

In what appears to be a miracle of divination, since Jane never left the exam room, the vet simply picks the turtle up, turns her this way and that, and determines that Celeste is suffering from an acute inner ear infection. (?!?)

She would need injections of antibiotics twice a day.  Clear that sucker right up.

We’re all horse people, and we know how to give injections.  How different can a turtle be?

The vet kinda can’t believe Jane’s onboard.

But he fills a syringe, grabs a leg, and shows her how to inject the antibiotic in between the scales of Celeste’s, uh, forearm.

When it’s time for antibiotics at home, Jane is pleasantly surprised: it’s easy to give a turtle a shot, and it seems pain-free.

The next morning, Celeste is bright-eyed. She glares at Jane for being late with breakfast.  Jane is so so happy Celeste is better!  Look, she’s totally grumpy!  Jane feeds her, and gets ready for work, thinking she’ll give shot #3 on her way out the door.

Jane fills the syringe within sight of Celeste, who appears to notice nothing. This time, when Jane reaches her hand out to pick up Celeste, the turtle snaps herself shut like a boulder, one eye glint barely visible in the darkest recess of her shell. Not even a toenail is poking out with which to try to pry her open.

Jane is surprised:

  • Turtles are smart?
  • Gee, it probably does sting.
  • Now what?

Jane calls the vet. “How do we give a shot to a rock?”

He says, “You’re going to laugh.”

Jane says, “Try me.  I’m late for work.”

The vet says “Put her on the carpet flat side down, and push her.  Like a kid would push a toy car.” he pauses, “I know this sounds  unbelievable, but she’ll think she’s walking, and she’ll begin to walk.  Then you can grab a leg.”

Jane is highly doubtful of this technique.  Celeste has used an ancient skill of self-protection perfected by her ancestors over millions of years. Pushing her like a toy car?

But Jane removes her high heels, kneels on the carpet, and plays “car” with Celeste.

After a few passes and a half-hearted Vroom, Vroom, Celeste pokes her head out to check her legs: am I walking?

A leg pokes out. In a very short amount of time, Celeste is scuttling on her own, as fast as possible, away from the crazy human gleefully shouting “VROOM VROOM”.

Got the leg. Got the injection.  Turtle made a full recovery.

~~~~

How this relates to the blog:

There are hard things in our lives at the moment. We have two more surgeries scheduled for our still sick family member in April and May. We can’t exactly remember what it feels like not to be constantly worried and afraid. WE NEED TO LAUGH.

I’m thinking if I just tell you the clammed-up truth, pick up the blog, make car noises, and push it in silly ways, maybe my sense of humor will poke out its rusty, pre-historic scaled legs, make a break for it, and we can catch it while it’s fleeing?

Just thinking about sitting on the floor in my stockings, trying to grab the leg of a turtle determined to make it past the Himalaya of my handbag makes me laugh.

Want to help me give a turtle a shot?

Poop: the Gold Standard of Friendship

Walking up to Hudson’s paddock I see Bella.

“Did I go too far?”‘ she asks, “TMI?”.

“I don’t think so…?”, I reply, mentally scrolling through our recent interactions.
“Because I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about?” (The “huh?” reply: a good indicator that all is well in a friendship.)

“I sent you a picture of Hudson’s poop.”, she says.

I throw my arms around her, choking on sobs of relief and gratefulness.

She barely fends me off. “No Jane! I woke up with a cold.” Aw, sniffle sniffle, she doesn’t want me to catch it. She’s such a good friend. I pull myself together before I start sobbing about what a good friend I have. (Um. It was a rough week?)

Instead, I say, “I didn’t get the pic, but it means a lot that you sent it”.

We both turn and stare at Hudson, source of poop and human bonding.

His ears prick. The thought bubble over his head clearly calculates: mom plus former mom equals FOOD. He swivels an ear to alert Woodrow to pay attention. Woodrow lifts his head swiftly, and begins to amble carefully down the muddy hill, eyes on the ground, ears on us, nostrils testing the air quality for any hint of a treat.

It hits me, how refined the tools are that horses use to “see”. It’s…so cool.

Hudson’s had digestive issues. For the non-horsey, this isn’t like a human having digestive issues. It’s more like a human nicked an artery, and you’re doing everything you can to repair the problem and prevent the nick from widening, so the human doesn’t bleed out.

While he looks fantastic, his teeth weren’t doing the whole chewing hay properly thing, as his other end so aptly reported. Woodrow needed his teeth checked as well, so off to the dentist they went. (Hudson is missing a tooth, which can throw off his bite, floating wouldn’t be sufficient.)

Knowing they would both be slightly worse after the dentist (sore mouths aren’t going to chew better, even if the teeth are capable, and there’s the anesthesia, which slows gut motility) we were prepared to up their ration of easily digestible pellets.

It’s true: horse people are all veterinarians-in-training.

We hand walk them to get their guts active, and help move the anesthetic out of their systems.

They both needed Bute (Aspirin, for our non-horsey) to eat even the mushy pellets. Bute can upset the stomach. So can an empty stomach combined with pain. So can a stomach coming out of anesthetic. Tricky.

This is the start of the Jane Is Worried Sick week. I believe worrying before it’s necessary will prepare me for future events. I blame this on the Girl Scouts. (I took “Be Prepared” a bit too seriously.)

Every day brought about tweaks to the get-normal program. More pellets, less Bute, etc. Finally, I hit on Hudson’s magic balance: adding dry bran, upping pellets even more, and feeding insulting him with a slurry of aloe juice and powdered slippery elm bark.

(Probably time passing had a lot more to do with it, but I need to believe I helped.)

Bella and I took turns checking on, walking, and feeding the boys twice a day. Woodrow was digesting better, but had a much more difficult time with pain and the after effects of sedation and dental work. He took it very hard. It showed up in whole-body muscle spasms.

As he recovered, I’d send photos of him happily rolling, or bucking, and send them to Bella at work: look how much better he feels this morning!

And Bella took a picture of a decent poop, and sent it to me, knowing it was my relief-equivalent of seeing a good buck.

Does it get any better than a friend who sends you a photo of poop?

Nope. Golden.

How about you?

The Rare Easter Horse Has Been Spotted In San Francisco

Pier 39 in San Francisco has a rare and beautiful old double-decker carousel. Our Easter Horse was spotted there on Friday, in the wild, for a split second in time:

I love the magic moments in life.

 

And now, for a brief holiday in San Francisco!

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