Plagues and Curses Upon the House of Hudson

The Forces of Evil Begin Smiting 

My text chimes. My email chimes. My cell phone rings. As I read the text on the way to answering the cell, our land line begins to ring.  I know.  It’s The Barn Emergency Alert System.

Bella texted:  Jim says Leo says Hudson is colicking. 

Jim says in my ear: Leo says Hudson is colicking.

Jim’s expertise is in How to Fix Things Horses Continuously Break. Which is why he’s reporting what Leo said, and calls Bella first.  He’s not sure whose horse Leo is worried about.

God bless ALL these people.

I’m 15 minutes out if I pull sweats over my pj’s, and break the speed limit.

For those not familiar with horse digestive systems: these big strong animals have the  digestive sensitivity of a cranky octogenarian. Change the pudding flavor, and cranky Octo could be bedridden for days, hammering her cane on the railing. Change her Jeopardy channel, and she could go into shock, burst a gut, and die.

Horses are that terrifyingly fragile.

While I try to focus on stopping at stop signs. Siri reads Bella’s email to me: H colicking. Can use Mo.

Mo is Hudson’s roommate, and Bella’s back up rope horse. You would LOVE him. He’s a Humvee-slash-Monster Truck in a world of sports cars. He’s so wide and bulked up, he looks like he’s been abusing steroids for years. (He hasn’t.) Despite his massive width and body-builder muscling, he has the heart of Ferdinand the Bull. Mo would very much like to find a tree to sit beneath, and smell a flower.

I tack up Mo, pry a bright and non-colicky looking Hudson away from banging on his feeder (Hellooooo…hungry…), and we pony. If I hadn’t listened to his gut sounds, I’d think he was fine: freight train moving through his bowels on his right side. Acute  and terrifying silence on the left.

we walk
Mo worries.  Hudson calculates if he can get grass out of this.

Hudson is nonchalantly relaxed while walking. A mild gas colic? No sign of pain. Twenty minutes in, he stops, lifts his tail, and produces one phenomenally long and sonically impressive Super Fart.  He poops regally, a gloriously giant deposit.

Hudson is cured! Ha. Take THAT, Forces of Evil.

I do the normal thing and take a poop photo, and text it to Bella: THANK YOUUUUUUU.

Better than flowers.

It’s gratifying to know Forces of Evil can be thwarted by farting.

Gravity Stealth Attacks 

On Hudson’s 26th birthday.  I make sure he’s thoroughly warmed up before I turn him out for play time in the arena with The Monster Truck.

I’m ridiculously proud of how good he looks and how young he acts. Ridiculous, because I have nothing to do with how good he looks. Good genetics, a sense of entitlement, and a stubborn attitude apparently help one age well.

A lot can change in 7 seconds.

Immediately after the video above, Hudson rocks back on his haunches, drops low, and rips flat-out into a dead gallop. He’s doing a speed drill. This is all wrong. My heart is pounding in my throat.  There are claws in my stomach.  He hasn’t done a speed drill in a loooong time.

Gravity hurls itself across the arena at the last second, and Hudson trips.

It devolves into the kind of crash about which horse people have nightmares. Hudson falls hard on both bad knees, his neck twists and whumps, the pipe fence is ringing bell-like from (I’m guessing) the impact of his skull. He’s all the way down, and against the fence. This is bad.  Horses need room to get up.  I’m terrified he might have broken a leg.

I ran to him as if I could scoop up 1200 lbs and carry it gently to a stall.  (Actually, it might have been possible in that moment.)  With great effort, he manages to untangle his front legs and get up. He looks bewildered and is trembling slightly. I can see this thought in his brain, though it means something different to him: this is all wrong.

I have so much compassion for believing you are still a Superhero.

I do a complete body scan, check his pupils, poll, and knees. He takes a couple of tentative, careful steps. Not lame. Fully weight-bearing on all four.  It takes awhile for his adrenaline to recede. I ask him to walk it out, so the acid doesn’t settle in his muscle.  Bute and Ice are our friends.

I work on his sore neck over the next week.  Better? But not okay. bizarrely, he is not lame. Sore as heck, but not limping. He needs the chiropractor. I set up an appointment for the next week. I want the acute phase over before he gets any body manipulation.

While we are waiting for the appointment day:

Locusts…? More Smiting…? WTH…?

Hives. Every. Where

One mild soap/glycerin bath later, he looks like he’s getting over the measles. The hives go down. Contact allergy? Can’t hurt to do the cowboy baking-soda purge to clean out toxins. Check. Pick up baking soda.

DETERMINED Forces of Evil.

The next day, he still has hives, but he’s better. I slather Caladryl on the big ones. Check between his front legs to see if I missed any.

I find loose, droopy, saggy skin on the inside of one leg. Mysterious lump near his breast.

Oh. No.

PIGEON FEVER? Are you kidding me?!?!?

I hit Nurse Jane mode like a stock car driver revving into a turn. No fever. No drainage. Check. He’s not contagious. Yet. I know this is too small for the vet to try to drain. I call Jamie anyway, and ask when I should call him, since calling him now is too soon.  (I’m sure he loves me for being so proactive.)

I scare the crap out of everyone at the barn.

I tell the barn manager we might have a case of Pigeon Fever.  We discuss protocol. She knows I’m onboard with strict measures.

Honestly, I’m completely panicked.  A 26-year-old mildly immunocompromised horse has a bad crash, develops weird mass hives, and then gets Pigeon Fever?  Is this the big IT? Are we there? Any one of these things alone would not rattle me (much) but all in a row, I’m beginning to wonder if something bigger is compromising his immune system.  Something more than an on-again, off-again low-grade sinus infection.

Yep. Right to: HE’S GOING TO DIE.

Carlos found me panicking. He very gently introduced me to this totally novel idea: deal with what is actually presenting: an unidentified lump, some edema.

Oh.  How…normal.

I stop being (mostly) an idiot.  We’ll stick to the default: all horses will be safe as long as we treat it as if it’s Pidgeon Fever.

Deep breath.

Day four: just a lump covered in ichthamal. Not bigger. Not softer. Not open. Not hot. No fever.

Bella remembers Hudson caught himself there once ten years ago, and developed a shoe boil. I’ve been around horses since I was twelve.  Maybe I saw a shoe boil 30 years ago.  Not on my radar.  I begin shoe boil protocol. Order a donut. Turns out, it IS a shoe boil. In a weird spot.

Forces of Evil Get to Giggle 

Hudson is convinced the donut is an ankle monitor, and he’s under house arrest. He looks surreptitiously for the orange jumpsuit. When holding the donut-encased ankle in the air doesn’t cause Jane to instantly repent and cut him free, he sighs. Walks off normally, and points his head into a far corner, his big rump angled accurately in my direction.

I guess donuts are the horse equivalent of The Cone of Shame for dogs.

Day Five:

The barn manager has a moment of panic: the old horse next to Hudson wakes up with a shoe boil AND a capped elbow, already getting infected. What are the chances…? She looks at me, then shakes her head. We both know shoe boils are not contagious.

Day six:

I’m filling in for Carlos, holding Clooney for the vet. His sheath is swollen on one side. After some examining: it’s a spider bite, on the inside of the sheath. Jamie says, “Not usual.  But it does happen.”  He looks down at Clooney’s front leg: “How long has he had this shoe boil?”

What shoe boil?

I don’t know…about an hour?

These three horses have paddocks all in a line. It has to be a coincidence, but how bizarre.

It’s a coincidence like this: I bang my elbow hard enough to leave a lump, and the next day, so does my neighbor, and the neighbor after that.

I searched the internet for ways to keep Hudson safe that didn’t involve sacrificing chickens or wearing funky clothing from the 1980’s. (Hey, shoulder pads and spandex are right up there with sacrificing a chicken.)

The internet giveth!

The following video has received Jane’s Good Horsekeeping Seal of Approval:

Hudson nixed this idea.  He’s  positive bubble wrap is a distant cousin of the shotgun.

His rump is still angled pointedly in my direction.

Murphy Monday: Four Years Old!

On May 5th, Murphy will be four years old!

Daisy and I went to see him on Friday.  He’s so huge I can barely get a grip on all that giagantic-ness.  I’m guessing he’s over 16hh.  He’s still the same sweet, easy going boy that plopped out on Day One.

One hour...
One hour…

1 week
One week

One Year
One Year

Murphy is THREE!
Two Years

Murphy is THREE
Four years!

We love you Daisy and Murphy!  Happy third birthday together.
We love you Daisy and Murphy!  (He’s huge. Daisy is 5’11”)

Happy fourth birthday together!

Back to Reality…Oops There Goes Gravity (The Super Model, Part Two)

If only our horse lives could stay in a sort of rosy, carrot and alfalfa scented fog of perfect bliss and connection.

Really Jane? What is my photo doing on a horse blog?
Our Reality and Gravity expert: Eminem

While my ideal state for relationships is All Bliss, All the Time, there’s a problem. That rosy, foggy, carrot and alfalfa scented state is strictly imaginary.

As anyone in any relationship anywhere is well aware.

This is partly why those incredible moments of connection are so sweet. BECAUSE THEY GO AWAY.  

Sorry.  Didn’t realize I was shouting.

Stand still so I can Disney-fy our relationships, dang it!
Why, Walt, WHY…?

Back to Reality:

The Super Model went back to being an ordinary horse.

I’ve learned this at the training barn: a surprising number of mares have “Blanket Issues”.  Even if they like blankets.  

The Super Model is more or less decent about having her blankets removed.  She is more or less psycho about having them put back on.  Often, a stud chain has to be involved, to keep all four hooves on the ground, and so we don’t end up pinned beneath her.  She would like the blanket to be put on very, very fast.

RIGHT NOW. HELLLOOOO. CHOP CHOP. MOVE. I’LL DO IT.  YOU’RE IN MY WAY.

She wants to charge me down and swan dive into the head opening, her ears pinned, her lips curled, her eyes small and glaring.

I was lucky.  I got a two-day “You’re back! You’re back!” grace period.  Soft eyes and sweetness while I gently pulled blankets off and on again. She’d been on the road.  I assumed she’d finally given in to trainers requirement that We Stand Still For Blankets.

Day three: she had a change of heart about many things: mowing me down seemed like a decent option when a butterfly gently fluttered down onto a pretty flower. 

Rats. My job is to make her more afraid of ME than random nunchuk-wielding butterflies.  

xx
Seeking World Domination and Arch Nemesis status.  Horrifying.

That unfair, totally wrong thing that our mother said? This hurts me more than it hurts you? It’s that hard to wallop The Super Model. I want to sob because she had been so sweet, and now I’m beating the crap out of her. More or less.

The good thing about horses…as long as we are fair and not acting out of anger, it doesn’t change how they feel about us. Once past the evil butterfly and in the barn, she nuzzles my hair.  

Awwwww. She still loves me.  

Later, she’d like to kill me when I’m putting her blanket back on.  Nothing like being in a 12×12 box with a 16.3 hot horse that is trying to climb up your body because you are not blanketing her fast enough. Note: this is not fear. She is impatient, and wants me to hurry up, preferably by making the blankets magically appear on her body, without all the annoying buckling, tweaking, and head insertion. I’m somewhat familiar with Reality.  I have the chain ready.  We work on standing still, quiet, and relaxed for blanketing.  Four times.

Oops There Goes Gravity:

I started laughing: it’s love. We don’t get to cherry-pick the warm fuzzy stuff and avoid the random bitchiness. (Shaun would verify this.) Love is all-inclusive. 

Damn it.

 

 

 

Recovery, Hudson, and The Supermodel

I started back at the training barn last week.

It feels like I’ve been gone a month, not two weeks. I’m sure it did to Trainer also. She had back to back class A shows, minus a helper, while I twiddled my thumbs in a darkened room, and strong-armed my thinking away from butter cream frosting. (My brain came up with an interesting combo. Horses made of Frosting.  Nice.)

Bella took care of Hudson for me while I alternated between whining and imagining horses made of sugar. Hudson probably didn’t notice I was gone. As far as he’s concerned, Bella belongs to him. As long as one of us shows up, he’s good.

First day I see Hudson, the conversation goes like this:

Hudson: FOOD. Finally. I’m starving.

Jane: Nice to see you too.  Did you even notice I was gone?

Hudson: What? Why is the bucket still outside the fence?

This makes me happy. Thank God for Bella. He feels so cared for and secure it didn’t register that I was gone. Friends like Bella are GOLD.  I’m testing my stamina (for upcoming return to training barn) by currying the crap out of him.  Note to self: it’s Hair Season.  No lip gloss. Hairy lips. Blech.

Hudson’s one concession to noticing I’m back: he swings his butt toward me and backs steadily in my direction, angling his hip just so. While this would be cause to beat the crap out of other horses, I know what Hudson is doing:

I need you to rub my butt.  No no. Not there. Jane! Just stand still while I back into your hand. Stick your elbow in…harder…no softer…no no…you missed it….yeah…yeah..right about….ahhhhhhhhhhh. 

His eyes glaze, he stops chewing, and his ears soften and flop sideways.  Hudson can always count on me for a butt rub. But as far as he’s concerned, he’s pretty sure he saw me yesterday.

That’s okay. I have enough “I missed you” for both of us.

At the training barn, it’s the same.  In fact, I have to remind a few horses they DO know me.  I go along, from horse to horse, doing what needs to be done.  Don’t think much about it, and neither do they.

There is a horse at the training barn I call The Super Model.  She is tall, has beautiful bones, long legs, amazing face, body, and her coloring….I don’t even know what it’s called, officially.  In the summer her coat is a chocolatey color.  Her mane and tail are flaxen with streaks of white.  She is beyond stunning. I first met her when she came in off the halter circuit to begin her under saddle training.

For reasons I do not understand, I love this mare.  It’s not about how she looks.  I don’t want to ride her (frankly, I don’t have what it takes to ride her). I don’t want to buy her and take her home.  I just…love her. I want to know how she is, check her, “listen” to her feelings.

It’s going to kill me when she is sold.

I have that feeling frequently at the training barn. So I assume this is a one-sided, Jane has an attachment and is probably over-dramatic thing.

When it comes time to go get The Super Model for her workout, I’m not thinking about much of anything.  My expectations are low.  I’ll say hello, listen, and off we’ll go to the grooming bay, while she’s thinking of other things.

It doesn’t happen like that.  I have her halter in one hand, and move to go in her stall. She’s come up and hung her head over the door, looking at me with surprise and…happiness? Huh. She does that quiet, breathy, horse murmur.  She leans against the door.  It’s so clear she wants to take me in that I stop, and let her greet me the way she wants. Very gentle muzzle touches and inhaling of scent. She inhales deeply close to my nose….and waits.  Does it again.  Waits.

Oh whoops.  Bad manners on my part.  I put my nose close to her muzzle and inhale the sweet scent of alfalfa breath, and softly blow my breath back at her: it’s me...I missed you too.

I didn’t know the connected feeling was mutual.

I have to ask her to back up, so I can go in the stall.  She does immediately, with a big question mark over her head.

Is this far enough? Did I do it right? Can I say hello again?

I’m flummoxed. I actually say out loud, “Sure…?”

She takes a step forward and inhales nearly every inch of my body. Her muzzle touches my legs, my hands, my face, my hair, my baseball cap.  She reaches around behind me and touches my back and shoulders, my hip and behind my knee.

You’re BACK. I missed you. I missed you!  I’m so so happy to see you.  What happened? Where were you? You were gone a long time. Ohhhhh…just say hello some more…please?

I feel like crying.  I’m so touched by her sweetness. She likes softness, so I whisper my hello back to her. Her muzzle gently inhales and exhales, touching me here and there.  She comes back to my hat often.  Funny that the hat interests her.

I take her down, groom her up, and it turns out she is getting a “recess” workout. She was at the shows, it’s new and difficult for her to be showing under saddle.  She’s a hot horse, and anxiety can come out for her as ratcheting up in the high-strung department. Trainer feels mare needs a mental break, and some relaxing joy time. Safe-play exercise.

I’m free lunging her when a client walks up with question.  The mare had a blast, and is done with her workout. I ask for a whoa and walk over to the fence to answer the client.  A minute later, I feel the mare’s presence behind me, at a respectful distance.

Client laughs, says “how funny!” She motions with her hand, “turn around Jane, you need to see this.”

I turn, and the mare looks at me with a question mark over her head.

Um. Can I come closer, or am I supposed to stay here?

“Oh, she stopped…”, says client.  “That’s too bad. She was being so cute!”

I feel a little twilight zone-y about the mare’s level of interest. The question mark is still over the her head.

“It’s okay”, I say to the mare.

Immediately she walks up to me. I turn back to talk to client, and I feel the mare’s warm, sweet breath doing the full inspection again.  From my boots all the way up to my baseball cap.  I reach back and rub her poll.  She lingers on my hat, whuffling intently.  She keeps checking me out while client and I talk, but I notice she is coming back to my hat more often.  I notice she touched the front of my hat, but her muzzle is hovering just above the back of it.  What the heck is so interesting about one side of the back of my hat?

“That’s what she was doing!”, client says.

Client leaves.  I rub mare affectionately.  She looks at me with a puzzled expression. Moves her muzzle to the back of my hat, and hovers over a spot.  She’ll touch all around it, but won’t touch the actual spot she is interested in.  Did I touch food and touch my head?  Hudson doesn’t get cookies.  No left over scent from that. Weird. I shrug it off.  Clip the lead on, and begin to walk out. She hesitates. Touches my shoulder with her muzzle, and then back up to the hovering over my hat.  Stops. Looks at me. Touches my shoulder, and hovers her muzzle over the spot.

I feel stupid.  She has a giant question mark over her head, and all I can think is, “Lassie, did Timmy fall down the well?” What does she want?

Oh. My. God.

It hits me like a brick: this mare is whuffling her sweet breath over the exact spot on which my head hit the pipe. My eyes fill with tears. I reach up and touch it with my fingers, and look at her. “I hit my head here. It doesn’t hurt anymore”, I say.

I add, “And yes, I feel completely nuts telling you this.”  I remove my fingers.  She very softly and gently lowers her muzzle to rest incredibly lightly on my head.  On the spot.

She moves her muzzle to touch my cheek.  Then she steps into leading position.

Thank you. I noticed…something.  It worried me. I’m happy you’re okay.

I had no idea she cared about me like I cared about her.

It was just one moment. Fleeting, beautiful, connected. I am so touched.

I have never, EVER had anything like this happen with a horse. Have you?

I still feel kinda twilight zone-y about this…I’d love to hear your experiences…

 

I. Can’t. Get. No…Status Traction (I Try, and I Try!)

The Rolling Stones…? Suits…? Can I be hallucinating?

And I thought this song was about designer athletic shoes….

Last Monday, I got wacked on the head. This turned out to be quite useful. Not in a concussion-y sort of way (That part sucks), but in an: “I know! Blogging with a concussion is a GREAT idea!” sort of way.

After declaring the ER doc incompetent (TWO WEEKS recovery? Is she nuts?  I’ll be fine in a couple of days), I set about dealing.  I lay there in the dark: no reading, no sound, no TV.  Nothing but me and my internal horseman’s alarm clock, which says I can recover from anything in 24 hours. 

I'll think about it tomrrow. (are we sure I'm not a drag queen?)
I’ll think about it tomorrow. (Are we sure I’m not a drag queen?)

 I do everything the doc says for the entire 24 hours.

Then I wobble out of bed, fling the curtains open, and..fall over, from the searing, blinding brightness of  a blackened, rainy sky at 6 am.  Luckily, the bed hasn’t moved. Shaun flings the curtains shut, shoves me under the covers and says, “Do NOT make me sit on you.”

I hit the snooze button on the “I’m Over It” clock. Doctors can be right? Who knew?

The reason I have a concussion isn’t all that important.  You know the drill: there was a horse nearby. The ground tilted up, ambushing me. A pipe corral panel leapt in and whacked me on the noggin.  I was not wearing a helmet, since I was not ON the horse. Strictly a ground-attacking me with a pipe sort of thing.

The good news: with friendly encouragement (you know who you are…Thank Youuuuu) and complete willingness to totally suck at blogging, here I am.  

Bonus: I get to see my brain on a concussion is pretty much the same as my brain off a concussion. (Minus the nausea.) Good to know. I’ve had some episodes of misreading stuff. Before I got bonked. 

Driving home from work, pre-concussion, I passed a dilapidated barn with a giant sign:

BRAIN SALE, Saturday 9-3. EVERYTHING MUST GO. 

Brain sale? Whoa. Creepy barn. Because I’m picturing this:

It's a brain sale!  Everything must go!
It’s a brain sale!  I could pick up a spare!

Another day, I stopped for coffee, and read bulletin board flyers while waiting in line.  This one caught my attention:

Local ATHEIST COMPETITION! Are you Atheist? Come join us in friendly competition. Many sections! All levels welcome! FREE!!

This is my non-concussed thought process:

  1. Atheists compete…?
  2. There are levels and classes of atheists?  Who knew? 
  3. What does an atheist competing look like? HOW do they compete…and why does this flyer make it sound fun and community oriented? 

Is this what an Atheist Competition looks like?

We had a time of high anxiety a few months ago.  Christmas was sick. We had to leave him at the vet for testing and observation.  Finally our vet called back: 

“I’m afraid your dog tested positive for pancakes.  We’re starting him on IV fluids right away”

I probably test positive for pancakes too...
I probably test positive for pancakes too…

Um. WHAT?!

(Christmas is fine, no need to worry.  Or send syrup.)

Then, post-concussion, I read this sentence in my blog spam:

“Remember, before going into the castle, you must knit every Zombie, or you will die.”

Uh. A video game in which you knit zombies…? Huh. Knitted zombies.  Could be cute?

Today, there was a news-ish post in my Facebook feed, with this headline: 

“Cinderella over time: tracking the glass spider through the centuries.”

Because everyone knows about Cinderella and the famous glass spider...
Because everyone knows about Cinderella, the prince, and the glass spider…

Much slower than I like to admit, I got some traction:

I’m sure by now all of you have figured out I passed a barn sale, saw a flyer for an athletic competition, our dog had pancreatitis, one tends to knife zombies in a video game, and Cinderella didn’t have spider issues. (That would be Miss Muppet.)

Forget the status, I just need traction.  I better get over to the brain sale.  

Anyone else want to come? We can listen to Bob Marley on the way over. I like a rousing human rights song about food shortage.  

Who knows all the words to Stand Up For Your Rice?

 

Hello My Name Is…

I have a pathological inability to remember people’s names the first time I hear them.

It’s like my brain has installed a panic button that overwrites the spoken name with static, while the person is still speaking.

I have zero chance of hearing the name, let alone remembering.

if you are a horse, dog, cat, goldfish, lizard, turtle or hamster, I will never forget your name. if you are a horse, not only will I know your barn name, I’ll probably know your six-foot long registered name too. I’m cursed with a strictly human name memory  malfunction. Unless you introduce yourself like this:

With the exception of this name.  I would totally remember this one.
Then, I will totally remember.

Awkward doesn’t begin to describe it when I coo over Bug the Pug – I’ve only seen photos of him on Facebook – but can’t remember my newly born niece’s name, a FAMILY member, that I’ve met, held, and delightedly played with for six hours….yesterday.

I try the memory tricks: creating an association based on fascinatingly long ear lobes or a strange rhyme. This is a particularly bad idea, as I discovered, after addressing “Ginny” as “Voddy” because she had a red nose and I remembered just enough to get in trouble: her name was something alcoholic and off beat.

Because there really are people in the world named Vodka, right?

Sundays were a relief: I figure I’m in church, so people will be forced to forgive me. Sort of goes with the territory. I can explain as we introduce ourselves: “I have trouble with names. I may need to hear yours a few times before it sticks, but I won’t forget YOU.  Welcome to our church.”

This worked pretty well. Turns out people are slightly more indulgent after a sermon on cheek turning.

Here is how that stopped working for me, and may have made the pastor request I stop greeting people. Which then may have been followed by a suggestion to hide near the back pillar. Or not come back.

In the desperate hope that writing a name down would help me remember, I volunteered to work the Label Table near the entrance. I’m feeling intoxicated by the feelings of petty bureaucratic power (I’m in charge of Magic Markers! “Hello My Name Is” tags!) when a woman I’ve never seen walks up.

Gah! Mayday, Mayday! 

The woman waves off my attempt to helpfully slap a HELLO MY NAME IS…in front of her. Mildly worried, I give my “I’m terrible with names, but I will remember your very special self.” spiel.

The woman assures me I absolutely won’t forget her name. Too distinctive. Which not only  slams my panic button, I become completely deaf and unable to hear the next few sentences out of her mouth. But I do manage to laugh appropriately when she does. I assume we laughed at how absurd it would be for me to forget her name.

Whatever it was.

Oh God. (In church. So counting this as a prayer.) Unless her name is “Bug” we have a problem. Did she have a squashed nose? I can’t remember.

No Jane, NOOooooooooo
No Jane, NOOooooooooo…

After the service, she wanders over during the coffee hour. I elbow my memory for her name. It ignores me, completely clueless, and continues contemplating how Amazing Grace would sound if sung by Elvis Presley. Oh hey, what if Metallica performed it?

Wait. is her name Grace?

I’m not going to chance it. I politely invoke my pre-emptive: “I might forget your name, but never you”.

She laughs heartily, as though I’ve just told the best joke ever. EVer. It’s the first time my pre-emptive strike hasn’t worked. Susan? Jill? Tanessha? VODKA? Oh lord, it must be Ginny. What do I DO?

She stops laughing abruptly, and stares at my face.

“But we laughed about it, remember?”, she says, quite hurt.

Of course I remember laughing. I was covering up the fact I couldn’t hear what she was saying.

“I’m so sorry”, I say, miserably, “remind me, please?”

She looks at me for a long time, certain I’m messing with her.

Finally, she turns to toss her paper cup away, and says with utter disbelief and disgust,
“Jane. My name is Jane. NOW do you remember?”

Because I’m me, I think I’m off the hook. Why on earth should I be expected to remember THAT name above all others? It’s not like she’s named Jesus or anything. Shoot, why should her name be familiar…it’s so unfair to expect…uh…um…

If only John Jacob had come in with her! I would have remembered. I swear.
Right. That’s my name too…

The other Jane is making a bee-line for the pastor.

I mentally cross off church number six.

We live near Temple Beth Ami.  I wonder how hard it would be to convert?

The Real Life Questions Jane Absolutely Positively WILL NOT ANSWER, NUH-UNH

This comes from a post-a-day prompt thoughtfully provided by WordPress.  What questions do I hope a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist NEVER asks me?

We all know Jane is never going to be interviewed by anyone other than a very obscure journal called: “Women Who Eat Too Much Sugar and The Horses Who Get Miffed By Rider Weight Gain”.

If she’s lucky.

This is what I don’t want you to know.

      1. Do you have an imaginary friend?
      2. What is on your bucket list?
      3. How many times did you lie to your mother about her Mother’s Day Card already being mailed?

Questions I wish someone would ask me:

  1. Where do you see Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys heading?
  2. Would you like the rest of this cake?
  3. How many bugs would you say were in your childhood?

What the heck.  Let’s go for it.

1. Do you have an imaginary friend?

No. I do not have an imaginary friend. But really, we should let Sir Doodelus and Lady Cramplebug weigh in on that. They have a problematic love child that is a cross between a green beetle and…something glittery…who is in a completely unsuitable relationship with a hairy bumblebee named Ferdinand. Their lives are complicated and involve way more drama than I am comfortable with.

2.  What is on your bucket list?

“Bucket List” makes people think of Zip Lines, and Jumping Out of Airplanes, and traveling to Obscure Countries without proper inoculation. I am not a “Bucket List” person.  I find movies terrifying. My brain understands my body is just sitting in a room watching light flicker, but my soul is certain I will die a horrible death when that car being riddled by bullets from a semi-automatic sails over the guard rail, bursts into flame, and plunges 1000 feet down into a gorge, end over end.

Not that I’ve thought about it.

Fine. I’ll go over the guard rail. The Bucket List:

1. Reading with Goats.

#1 on the bucket list: Reading With Goats
#1 on the bucket list: Reading With Goats

This is Jane’s speed. That pink blob is the neighbor sitting out in her field, reading with her goats. While we don’t appreciate Goat Trees, we do love to see our neighbor reading in the sun, surrounded by happy goats.  This is the back of the neighbor’s home. The properties abut. If the neighbor wasn’t some complicated distance away off another road and a couple zillion random driveways, Jane would have already knocked and asked if she could come read with their goats. And we wouldn’t be hearing from her, because she’d be locked up some where.

2. Listen at least 100 more times to David Sedaris reading his story “Jesus Shaves.”

Hahahahahahahahahahah…oh…you’re back….

3. Spend even more quality time with certain friends:

My friend, Rock.
My friend, Rock.

4. Explore my Native American Heritage.

Honeymoon 2008 072
I found this three-story, paper mache example of a Native American in Idaho. Rock was there too.

Being a Native American is hilarious.  We tilt-ily rode lime green dinosaurs, without a saddle or bridle. Who knew?

5. Keep My Horse Off Twitter

This is turning out to be surprisingly difficult.

6. Hoard, I mean “Rescue” a bunch of these guys.

Twenty eight inches at the withers. Totally would fit in the car seat.
Twenty eight inches at the withers. Totally would fit in the car seat .

And look, he clips!

So adorable.  A teeny tiny buckskin.  With manners!
So adorable. A teeny tiny buckskin. With manners!

Enough of the Bucket List.

3. How many times did you lie to your mother about her Mother’s Day Card already being mailed?

Too complicated.  I’d have to do the math. How old I was when I started mailing Mother’s Day Cards times the guilt factor (Number of times I repeated, “No really, it should be there by now!”) minus the times I didn’t even pretend I’d mailed it on time.

Waaaay too complicated.

What are the questions you ARE NOT GOING TO ANSWER?

The Unusual Fruit Tree

This is no ordinary willow tree.

We’ve ridden past this tree every single day without incident.  But I know now that was because it’s fruit take a loooong time to ripen. A year maybe.

The Goat Tree
The horrific sound of ripe fruit falling to the ground is enough to scare the boldest horse into an early grave.

The reason we have the tilty, blurry photo of the sinister tree: I was taking the picture while Hudson was in the first phase of a cow horse one-foot spin and bolt. Or, if we prefer in dressage lingo, a pirouette at the hand-gallop.

Hudson warns of tree danger
Jane. Something is Wrong with that tree. I’m SO outta here. You are taking a PICTURE?!? HANG ON.

Something WAS wrong. The tree looked like one half was attacking the other half.  There were a lot of branches bending, bobbing, whipping up, wildly thrashing…this was one heck of a freaked out tree.

I got off Hudson and we walked cautiously back. The tree stopped moving.

Uh, trees do not stop thrashing around when they hear hooves. I suddenly realized no breeze had made it thrash around in the first place. The air was utterly still.  

Cue spooky music. Forget Hudson. I was ready to jump out of my skin.

I get back on, we tiptoe past the tree, which remains perfectly still. Hudson’s ears swivel back questioningly: What the heck was that all about? 

I pat him on the shoulder: Don’t know.  You sure were good though, thanks.

I can feel his mental shrug, and we go to work in the arena.  Once he’s done for the day, and settled back into his paddock with The Worlds Largest Happy Meal, I walk back to the access road. I want to see if I was part of a mass hallucination, or the tree is perfectly ordinary.

It’s not. The willow is wildly attacking itself.  Is there a gap in the time/space continuum here? Did we fall through a worm hole?  Other than tree noises, there are no sounds.  No children are playing in the greenery.

Suddenly, a large roundish white thing falls out of the tree with a loud thud. Bizarre fruit? Branches tremble above where it landed. The tall grass rustles and I hear the unmistakable sound of tiny hooves scrambling as a small white goat launches itself back into the branches.  A second later, a gray round thing falls out, scrambles, and leaps back into the tree to continue play fighting.

An hour later, I see a herd of little goats quietly grazing in the tall grass near the tree. The willow was able to completely camouflage 15  tumbling, rambunctious goats.

A Goat Tree. I love my life.

I told Hudson goats grow on trees.  And that our Goat Tree had fruit just about ripe enough to start falling to the ground, and goats being goats, they thrash.

He gave me a dubious look.

“Could be worse?”, I say. “They could have planted llamas.”