What We Learn From Horses Can Help Us Become Good Burglars

Spoiler: The first part has absolutely nothing to do with horses or burgling…Also, this post reads much better while singing, “The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plane”.

Daisy texted: Stupid door is swollen and won’t close.

Since she went to work, I assumed she meant the door into the (locking) garage.

Jane: Crap.

Daisy: I know.  Had to sleep with chair under doorknob all night.

Alarm bells go off.

Jane: You mean your FRONT door??

Daisy: Um. Yeah? I think all the rain made it swell. But it closed and locked last year when it stopped raining?

It’s fine. Daisy connects my dots all the time.  My turn.

Jane: Okay, good to know. Hmmm….we think this year is important too?  We think a front door that locks before April is good?


Jane: We need a tool person.  Someone who has a plane. Know any tool people?

Long pause.

I realize Daisy is trying to figure out why we need a person with a private jet to fix her door.

Jane: Plane is a tool.  Like a deli meat slicer? You can shave off the parts of the door that are sticking so it will close.

We go through the list of People We Know Who Have Real Woodworking Tools. This turns out to be Zippo.

Daisy: Uh. I think I’m okay? Can use chair? Who do we know who fixes doors?

It’s 5 pm. Not letting Daisy sleep without a locking front door. It’s also her birthday. I don’t know how to fix a door, but I can plane one into submission.

Jane: Plz hold. On way…

I pick up a cupcake to go with her birthday card.  I also stop at the hardware store and buy Daisy a plane for her birthday. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled. Maybe if I slap a designer label on it?  Come to think of it, why aren’t there Coach planes, or Hermes Planes?

After offering me dinner (not  hungry) Daisy sits on her stairs and eats her Lean Cuisine while watching me shave off bits of her door. I tell her it’s part of her birthday present: dinner and a movie. (Most exciting birthday party she’s ever had.)

Door is acting weird.  Sticking on the inside, next to the hinges. This is a bad sign.  This is the door equivalent of “Whoops, put the plastic tray on the bottom of the dishwasher, dang it!” The door is probably no longer flat.  It’s probably a little twisty and melty. But we don’t say these things until door is fixed and locks.  Otherwise we create door anxiety.

I plane.  Many curly cues later, I can slide a sheet of paper in the gap: not sticking!


Now sticking in new place.  But we gained an inch toward closing. Progress! I look down.  See telltale scrape marks on the metal sill plate.

Problem.  It’s getting dark, and Daisy has to get up in 6 hours.  I pry and slide the plastic weather-stripping off the bottom of the door. We shove. The door closes!  Hurrah!

Unfortunately, the bolt uselessly misses the corresponding bolt hole entirely.   Dishwasher door. Not going to lock in my lifetime. Daisy sees my look of frustration.

“It looks closed…?”, she says, “At least it looks like it’s locked?”

So not working for me. Daisy reads this on my face.

“It’s fine”, she says. “I’ll stick the chair under the knob.”

I grudgingly leave it at that and say a quick prayer of protection. Hardware stores are closed. I come back the next morning, drill, screwdriver and smash proof flipping lock plate in hand. The kind you flip on the door when your kids are short, and you would rather they not wander onto the freeway in their diapers because you were in the bathroom the very second they learned to unlock a door.

It takes me less than 60 seconds to install.  I flip the plate.  Door is locked. I stop for a moment to admire my genius. Admiring my genius ends when I realize I’m locked in Daisy’s house. If I leave, her door will be unlocked. Which was not the point.

(This next part is where horses and burgling connect.)

I  choose a very skinny window to climb out, on the theory that all burglers drink too much, and couldn’t possibly get a beer gut through the skinny window. The likelihood of a skinny burglar choosing that day and that window seemed miniscule.

Unlock.  Slide window open. Remove Screen.  Drop power tools outside on the ground. Go out sideways, one leg at a time. Easy, right?

I get my leg over the sill, so I’m kind of sitting on the window sill the way you would if you were mounted on a horse.  I sort of can’t reach the ground.

I am sort of, um, stuck.

I consider the options:

  • Topple sideways to the ground, hoping I don’t  rip off the inside of my left leg, dislocate my right leg, or hit my head on the very large tree inches from the house.
  • Try to get both feet on the sill and jump like a contortionist attempting suicide form an extremely low, first floor window.
  • Climb back in Daisy’s house, and raid the fridge until she gets home.

No brainer.

Seriously? Daisy has only water, Red Bull, and mayonnaise? Blech.

Oh wait! I can get out.

I climb back on the sill. Pretend I’m going to launch myself – off the wrong side – of a bareback horse.  Thank you, rotten, instructor-less, unmonitored childhood! I know exactly how to do this. Press palms, lean slightly launch up and through…

….Ta Da!  Freedom.

If only burglars drank less, and rode more, they’d be better at burgling …

No need to bother with Daisy’s house though.  Nothing to steal.

Unless they love watered down Red Bull with a cheery dollop of Mayo on top…?

Official Ramble Alert

Poor Hudson.

We’re back to mind-numbingly boring walking. He’s fine.  I can’t seem to stay well. If I could count, I’d tell you what day of the migraine I am on. But I can’t remember what comes after “1…2…uh…11? 15…?”

Luckily, at this point,  it’s not the kind of migraine that makes you homicidal with pain. It’s the kind that makes the letters on the road signs look 3-D, and makes you hear only out of one ear.  I’m seeing double images. It’s selective double vision.  Just the letters look 3-D. The cow, the sign, the cars, they’re all normal.

Wait.  This isn’t just cool, it’s groooovy.  Is this what I missed in the 60’s? While all the normally 3-D stuff is still 3-D, all the flat stuff: signs, pictures, Jennifer Lopez’ stomach, now have dimension, and they shimmer.

Note to self: look for People magazine in line at grocery store. I know my pain will be significantly reduced if Jennifer Lopez’ stomach not only stuck out, but wiggled.

Hudson is about as safe as it gets, as long as you don’t flip his “Go” switch. Amazing that the nitrogen fueled horse is the one you can crawl on when you have a killer headache, and he’ll pack you around.  Oh, he’s safe when his Go switch is flipped: the only lack of safety would come from a rider’s lack of ability to stick with him.

We have been riding a lot with the cute red-headed mare and her funny mom, Laurie. This makes Hudson very, very happy. It’s also made for very pleasant rides and easy conversations. We share childhood horse-wildness.  I could try leaping from Hudson to Dinero in front of Laurie, and she wouldn’t bat an eye.

I found out Laurie’s been reading a blog about a gelding who is in love with a cute red-headed mare like hers. She said to me in the barn aisle, running a hand over his butt “Geeze, he’s like Jack LaLane…look at that muscle!” A tiny bell goes off, in the back of my brain, but it’s crowded out by pain neurons.

I think: how fun. I should ask her the name of the blog. Another blog with a talking horse in love with a red-headed mare. How likely is that?

You’re all way ahead of me, right?

Laurie has been reading this blog.

(Quick, someone offer her donuts! Maybe she’ll stay? You’ll like her: she’s warm and funny…)

PSA: (of dubious content and interest) I should be evened out by tomorrow.  The side of my head that doesn’t feel like it’s going to explode, should be exploding right around 5 pm.  I’m going to the dentist at 3, I figure the Novocaine will be wearing off right about then.

Disclaimer: Jane is not currently responsible for any content on TLH that is not funny, interesting, or even remotely amusing. She’s endurance blogging. Metaphorically, it’s midnight, cold, dark, and she wonders (while she trots along through the trees with a sprained ankle) why she ever entered the Post a Day challenge!

In Which We Witness Stewardship, and Riders Move Out

I learned a lot, standing in my barbed wire corner and watching.  The riders had to herd the cattle through a lot of open acreage, then through two narrow (for a herd) gates, after which the land opened up into major open acreage again, just when they needed the  herd to go left.

Not easy.

The first rider brought in a smaller clump of cattle through the first gate, began to push them through the second, then went ahead of them to keep them from veering out into the open acreage again.  I mentally dubbed her the Point person.  (I have no idea what this is in cattle speak. Bella, Kimber…anyone…does this job have a name?)  After turning her cows towards the pens, she came back and took up a position to block cattle from the sea of open land, and push them off to the left.  It was a wait.

Imagine being the person relied upon to quietly turn a hundred cows or so, after they’re pushed through the gates.  Sure, help would be handy…as soon as a rider could get through the rest of the herd without spooking them!

The idea is to walk the cows in quietly, both for their sakes and yours. I’m guessing (despite what we see on TV) dealing with a herd of panicked, running cows would be incredibly difficult.  I often saw the riders stop, quietly reposition their bubbles of space, wait, check everyone else’s position, and then start walking again.

To get a sense of how aware cattle are, and how easily they can be spooked:

These cows were part of the first group coming through gate 1. I was quite far away, using a zoom lens.  Time to move to position #2.  Stopping cows is bad.  Slowly, quietly, I turn my back, pick my way up the hill through gate 2, and move into a far corner, using the point rider as cover.  The minute I stopped looking at them, they started moving forward again. Given the choice, horse and rider is what the cows will register, not person way back against fence post with one giant eye.

Continue reading “In Which We Witness Stewardship, and Riders Move Out”

O Dark Hundred

I’m just starting my lesson with Jane Savoie, after a perfect warm up, when an electronic rooster crows horribly in my left ear drum.  My eyes fly open, and it’s pitch dark.

Aw, c’mon.  Who set the stupid alarm?  And why the horrifically annoying electronic rooster that crows loud enough to scare the neighbors?

I wanted that lesson with Jane Savoie.

I roll over, close my eyes, and climb back on Hudson.

Hudson…Hudson….?  CRAP.  I leap out of bed, grabbing my jeans in the dark, bang into the dresser, and trip over my shoes.

It’s five am. On a Saturday.  The Saturday.

Today is the cattle drive!

Continue reading “O Dark Hundred”

In Which Planets Align, Alice and Jane Go On the Trail, and Have A Blast

A miracle occurred:

  • Alice had a Wednesday off
  • Jane had the same Wednesday off
  • The ground dried up after three big storms had hit in succession
  • Even though its November, the temperature is trying mightily to hover up near 80 degrees.
  • Bella texts Alice: “Wed off?  Take the rig, take Dinero, go for a trail ride.  Maybe Jane…?”
  • Alice texts me: “Wanna go on trail on Wed?”

I have my moment of knee-jerk half-emptiness:  I haven’t been on a real trail in so long…I’ve probably forgotten everything.  Certainly the finer points of etiquette.  Can I do this on Hudson, on a trail I’ve never ridden?  Will he spook?  Will I be a total moron?

Oh for Pete’s sake.  There won’t be any giant purple people eaters.  It’s late enough in the season (and likely too close to the coast) that mountain lions will have moved inland and rattlesnakes would be far too cold to show up. It’s not like I can’t ride.  And I’ll have plenty to hang onto. I can borrow a western saddle from Bella: I want a thick pad on Hudson for a long ride.  My saddle fits, but a dressage pad isn’t made to disperse weight and provide a comfy trail ride for the horse, even with the extra fleece half-pad.

(Ideas, anyone?  Thin line pad?  I find foam shifts, and gel gives ricochet action for the rider.)

To combat my inner Eeyore, I took aim, and leveled one of my favorite quotes at myself.

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?  And if I am only for myself, then what am I?  If not now, when? ~ Rabbi Hillel

The Rabbi had a good sense of personal/global balance.  I’m onboard with Rabbi Hillel.  If not now, when?

I text Alice back: YES. You pick trail.  We go.  🙂 Exciting!!

I text her again later: Um.  You may have to babysit me a teensy bit.

We go to Point Reyes National Seashore; to ride the Bear Valley trail.  “Wednesday” becomes magical: this trail is closed to horses on weekends and holidays.  Alice and I discover we have identical check lists for a perfect relaxing trail:  wide enough for a truck (we can ride near each other and there’s still bonus room for spooking!).  It’s shaded.  The trail winds on gentle inclines under a canopy of California rainforest-type foliage: tree branches arch and meet overhead, a stream meanders along, the hillsides are stuffed with ferns and mosses of all kinds, it’s gorgeous.  It ends at the ocean.

Perfect trail for an If-Not-Now-When? ride.

We pull into the parking area.  I know where we are!  When Shaun first moved to California, I stupidly planned a picnic here so she could have the fun of standing directly on top of the San Andreas Fault.  (1906 earthquake, anyone?)  It’s what we do for fun in California.  I had to throw myself between her and the car, and wave a deli sandwich under her nose to get her to come back to the picnic table.

There’s a couple of other rigs neatly lined up: the park has perfect rig parking.  There’s even a fresh, clean, water trough near the trail head.  They like horses here.  Morgans dot the hillside, on the Park’s Morgan horse ranch.

We’re backing the horses out of the trailer when The Giant Purple People Eater arrives.


Continue reading “In Which Planets Align, Alice and Jane Go On the Trail, and Have A Blast”

Daisy and Jane Explain Baseball to Each Other, and The Giants Win the World Series…

With apologies to Texas fans, who I’m sure are just as invested.

First, let me say I know nothing about sports.  Yes, the entire grouping of sports that do not include hooves.   I tease Micah and Shaun, who love baseball, basketball, and football, by pretending to know less than I do.

Example: during something called the “Final Four” (?) Micah and Shaun were so tense I thought I’d lighten things up a little.  I know the Final Four is basketball.  That’s all I know.  So I say things like: “Why did the umpire do that?”  and “How come the umpire isn’t wearing stripes?”

They hate me.

The Giants made it to the World Series.  I know this, because I actually watched the games.  (FEAR THE BEARD!)  I got excited! I asked a billion questions! I don’t know what anything means!  (Except of course, that the Skater Dude is a phenomenal pitcher, that’s just obvious.) But all these balls and strikes and how many balls walk the player to base? How clear is that?  And foul balls?  I get the foul ball zone. Easy.  But how come you can hit the ball a million times and not have it be a strike if it always goes into a foul?

So I’m asking questions like “can you steal home base?” and “why does everyone spit?”

Shaun and Micah went somewhere else to watch tonight’s game. There’s another question I don’t get answered.  I come from the “If you win the game you won the game” planet.  I do NOT understand how The Giants made it into the World Series, and won, and now they have to play AGAIN to see who wins?

Continue reading “Daisy and Jane Explain Baseball to Each Other, and The Giants Win the World Series…”


Today is Daisy’s birthday.

Any birthday in which you have to get up at 3 am to go to work, and go to sleep at 7 pm, is not a good birthday.  I wished her a happy birthday this morning, but really, how far can an email go?

I text her to distract us both:

Jane:  I’m having a little steer anxiety about tonight?  No one is going to expect me to know how to shoo one right?

Daisy: For Pete’s sake, you KNOW everyone who’ll be there.

Jane: What if I look stupid?  Strike that.  I will look stupid. I’ll be the only person wearing a helmet. On a horse that isn’t moving.

Daisy: No one cares!

Jane: What if I fall off?

Daisy: Get a grip.  U R not going to fall off.  H will take care of you.

Jane: He’s gonna be so excited to be around cows, he’s gonna toss the idiot english rider to get her out-of-the-way.

Daisy: He is NOT.

Jane: I know I know.  It’s stupid.

Long pause.  Daisy is letting it sink in, my declaration of how stupid I’m being.  It’s true. Okay.  I’ll get a grip.  I’m done now.  And strangely enough…I am.  I’m not anxious anymore.  It will be what it will be, and I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to learn a little about roping and take some baby steps in another direction.  I mentally switch tracks to another subject:

Jane: Tell me when you get off the bus.

Looooong pause.  While I’m waiting for a reply, it hits me that A) Daisy doesn’t know I’m over it, and B) she thinks I want to call her and repeat the above drama ad nauseum on the phone.   Hi, Happy Birthday, let me torture you with my anxieties in text AND on the phone! I’m in the middle of writing her a follow-up text when hers comes in:

Daisy: Still on the bus.  Have a lot of errands to run after.

This is polite code for: SHUT UP already.  I laugh out loud.

Jane:  Silly.  I don’t want to torture you with more weirdness!  I want to sing.

Daisy: NO.

Jane: Yup.

Daisy: I have another ten hours on the bus.

Jane:  I can wait ten hours.

Ha.  She doesn’t think I’ll sing to her.  (Whohahaha)  You want to join me?

Happy Birthday to you…

Happy birthday to youuuuuu

Happy BIRTHday dear Daaaaaisy….

Happy Birthday toooo youuuuu…!!!!

You have no idea how glad I am that you were born, and that you’re my friend.  Happy, happy birthday!

Awry Airlines Takes a Seriously Good Detour

Shaun (who is getting better by the day!) had been out of the second hospital for a few days when Daisy invited us over to dinner.  She bought a house, helped us in the hospital, closed escrow, and moved all in the same weekend.  Daisy gets the extreme talent award.

She simultaneously texted Shaun and I.

Daisy: Dinner Friday?  My house?  Low key.  Just us.

Shaun: Y.  Time?

Jane: No. S just out of hospital, still can’t eat.  Rain check?

Daisy: Do you guys ever talk to each other?

Shaun: no.

Jane: no.  your point?

Daisy: Obviously you are not in the same room.  Talk.  Get back to me.

We collide in the hall: both looking down at our phones.  We look up at each other.

“Daisy…”, I say.  “…invited us to dinner Friday”, Shaun says.

We talk at the same time: “I said no”. “I said yes”.

Continue reading “Awry Airlines Takes a Seriously Good Detour”

Adventures in Goat Burgling

I don’t get to call myself a cat burglar.  My B & E doesn’t pad on quiet little paws. My B & E clip-clops.  I’m about as unobtrusive as a goat.  (I had a busy week: 2 break-ins.)

Breaking and Entering #1

I text Daisy.

Jane: r u home yet?

Daisy: sadly, no.  dr. appt.

Jane: Great.  btw, I’m going to do a B & E on your house.

Daisy: do I care?  (Not that it matters, you can break in whenever you want)

Jane: nah.  you’re fine with it.  I need you not to be home.

Daisy:  ok.  mammo takes @ hour, errands, then home…long enough?

Jane: Yup.  have fun getting mashed.

Daisy: the joy is killing me.

Jane: planting subliminal msg:  you are gonna be real hungry or real thirsty for something COLD when you get home.

Daisy:  ???  Normal?

Jane: hoisting crowbar, singing hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go…

Daisy: NO CROWBAR (right?)

Continue reading “Adventures in Goat Burgling”

As the Hot Walker Turns: Episode 1

These are the days of our lives…

Hudson Retires

The chiropractor looked at Bella after adjusting Hudson’s shoulder again.  “Go ahead and finish out the season, we can keep him going that long.”  Red Flag.  We can keep him going that long is not how Bella works.

“If I quit roping now, will I be able to rehab him back into soundness?”

“Yeah” says the chiro, “but he’s 21, what are you going to do with him?  Might as well get one last season out of him.”

The chiropractor just guaranteed Hudson would never rope again.  Bella won’t work a horse into the ground, and she’s well aware that older horses need more care, not less.

What now?  Bella wants to stay sharp, keep her roping skills progressing, and compete. Hudson could be re-habbed into complete soundness, sold, and the money put toward a new roping horse. Should be win-win.  People lined up years ago: there’s a waiting list for Hudson when he retires. She knows everyone, he’d get a good home, and be able to keep close tabs on him.

She thinks some more.  It’s not going to work.

He’s a GOOD roping horse.

Continue reading “As the Hot Walker Turns: Episode 1”