Halloween Night, Just Before Midnight…

This is what I know when I wake up with a feeling of heavy pressure on my chest: I am not having a heart attack. Heavy pressure means the dog has to go out.

He doesn’t nudge, or whine, or paw. He walks up my body, front feet on chest, rear feet on stomach:

Wake up wake up wake up wake up WAKE UP.

My eyes open.  18 pounds of terrier scans my face with intensity.  If his head is cocked while he scans, I know I’ve been snoring like a lumberjack.  He waits for me to blink before heading for the edge of the bed.

Mom? I gotta go…open the door, K?

I’m not thrilled about the midnight potty run.  Five nights in a row, around 8 pm, there’s been a strong wafting of Eau de Skunk…right next to the house.  (Despite the fact we live in the city, and no skunk has sprayed, the on again off again Eau de Skunk we’ve experienced over the past few months has made me greatly afraid that I still have Skunk Karma.)

I peer outside.  Inhale.  Process the results: cold, wet leaves.  Grass. No skunk. Safe.

I let the dog out, wrap the sofa throw around my shoulders and sink into the cushions. Our home owners association doesn’t allow dog doors.  I have to wait.

Waiting: Jane falls asleep sitting up. The dog loiters. Jane dreams of skunks.

There’s some sort of grand council in a courtroom. I think I’m on trial. A severe looking skunk peers over his half glasses at me, his Judge’s robe perfectly placed on his shoulders.

Now what have I done? Why me? Why am I in Skunk Court?

At first, I think the scritching noise is the skunk judge shifting his gavel on wood. It gets louder. I hear a plastic container rumple, followed by some determined gnawing. I realize I am not dreaming…

My eyes open.

Oh crap. We have mice. From the sound of it, very large industrious mice. Professional hard-hat mice. And they are having a go at redoing the area behind the washing machine.

Image by Brian_Kellett via Flickr

Is that…a saw…?

I snag the dog and bring him inside. He looks disoriented. I woke him up. How long was I asleep?

“You’re lucky I don’t stand on YOUR chest”, I say to him. He yawns. Pads down the hallway past the laundry room.

And how could we have mice, when I am the Queen of OCD cleaning, anyway? There’s nothing for them to EAT. I steam clean the flipping floor.

My eyes rest on two bowls next to the dryer. One for dog food. One for fresh water. Great. A welcome wagon. Why didn’t I knit them little hammocks, while I was at it?

Disturbingly, the construction noises (now behind the dryer) not only don’t stop, they don’t tone down. Brave mice. Little mice should be afraid of the dog…shouldn’t they?

Oh lord. Please. Don’t let it be a rat.

I have to go to bed pretending I don’t know there is…something…rezoning our laundry room.  Shaun can NOT handle rodents.  Rather than live in a house in which a mouse was found, she would gladly set the house on fire.

It has to be a stealth mission if I want to save my great grandmother’s love seat and clock.

Luckily, Shaun has some hearing loss.

Dad’s funeral is going to be out-of-town: she’ll be gone for a few days. Long enough for me to take care of the…mi..

…a terrible thought enters my head. Those are some loud gnawing noises. Definitely a rodent that could be as big as a rat.

What if…?

What if my skunk karma is still…intact…?

Thirsty Skunk
Image by Penh via Flickr

…to be continued, after much angst, appliance moving, trap setting, and hopefully no need for Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover…

Murphy Monday: Murphy’s Meet and Greet

It’s almost weaning time.

Murphy has a meet and greet with Uncle Melody.  If they like each other, Murphy might move in. There is no tension, just curiosity. Then…grooming…? Really? Strike that. Why am I surprised? Melody is calm, stable, gentle, and sharing on the ground. (In the air is another matter: he is his own flyer. Co-pilots must listen to HIM.) Murphy is still incredibly easy going.

Barbie’s opinion: Upset Premium Mare Over Here…Hellloooooo:

Murphy was about 30 feet away.

But he was touching noses with another horse! What if it’s not Melody? What if it’s a stranger that looks, sounds and smells like Melody? Did you think of that? HUH?!?

Barbie is highly intolerant of roommates. She’s a very independent mare. (Read: Everything In Sight Belongs To Me. Touch It And You Die.)

Murphy is her first bonded pasture mate. His weaning will be a double whammy for her: losing baby, losing a pasture mate she’s hooked up with.

Daisy has been highly conscious of this, and doing a thorough think-through of what might be the best way to wean him, given both their natures, circumstances, resources, proximity, etc. She’s run it by her vet, trainer, very experienced friends.  She’s such a good horse mom.

To begin the weaning process, Daisy has been regularly walking Murphy out of his mom’s sight (He’s fine, she melts down) and returning him.  Stretching the time longer and longer. They’re both dealing with it normally, and relaxing into further distances and longer times. When she takes Barbie out and walks her out of sight – leaving Murphy alone in the pasture – Barbie walks away without a second glance, or an ounce of concern: he’s home, he’s safe.

Moving in with Uncle Melody might be a perfect first step. Barbie will be able to see and hear Murphy, she knows Melody, and he would be a good babysitter.

It would give her time to adjust emotionally, without dropping a couple hundred pounds. Barbie has the kind of metabolism that enrages supermodels: she eats like a draft horse, and barely keeps her weight up.  (You would not believe how much extra Daisy feeds her, on top of the all-day food the barn supplies.)

Murphy hit another growth spurt.  I think he grew 6″ this week.  For physical reference:

Daisy is 5’9″ tall, and Melody is plain huge.

Murphy is also less into rump cuddling and back draping. Sniffle, sniffle.

Saturday was so beautiful. We plopped down on top of the leftover all-day-hay, and watched Murphy Vision. Who knew watching horses chew could be so relaxing? (Oh that’s right. We all did.)

I think we need to install hammocks in the paddock.  Murphy Vision all day, a book, a cooler full of beverages, a few Zzzzz’s.

Perfect. Day.

A Dignified Horse’s Dilemma

Hudson here.

It’s that time of year when I am about to get body clipped.  I enjoy a good shave. It’s much more comfortable to work out in winter if I have less hair. Currently, it’s also quite hot during the day, and losing the fur coat would be a relief.  However, I have a problem.

Her name is Jane.

This is my butt after being clipped last winter:

I was a gentleman.  She IS basically twelve.  I was her new pony. She wanted hearts. I got hearts. I consider myself lucky she did not want pink hearts.

It’s a year later. Honestly, we should be over the New Pony stage of ownership.

Jane has not progressed. She still hangs on me, tells me all her angst (Not. Listening.) and is obsessive about grooming.  Fine. I am dealing.

I heard her talking to Bella yesterday about body clipping, they were trying to decide which “Tatts” to put on Dinero and myself.  I’m good with tattoos, they make a dude look cool.


Jane said, “Oh…I don’t know…I’m still attached to the hearts.  I can’t think of anything I like better?”

HELP. I don’t think I could cope with another year of hearts on my butt. You have no idea what it’s like around the other geldings. Especially if I attend roping practice. Dressage geldings appear to be somewhat….Meterosexual…in their masculinity, and put up with quite a bit of flowery crap.

Cow horses are a macho bunch. I went from being The Super Star roping horse to The Horse with Hearts. Oh, they all understand “New Pony” issues. But, um, their humans progress, and move on. Unlike mine.

Save me. Please.


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…?

On Freezing…

I have done a most excellent job of organizing the change involved (on my end) in expanding our life to encompass dad. Shaun has had the much more difficult end of packing up his house (while working full-time) and taking care of him until they can get here. Not to mention dealing with both of their feelings.

Unfortunately, I hit one of the glitches in my personality, and froze.

I don’t have time to freeze.

Jane getting stuck: I have to look up the menu online for a new restaurant, or I will panic, and blindly order what the person next to me is having. When I open a menu in a restaurant, The words swim around like little fish Haikus. I consider myself pretty about good at reading? So this makes no sense.

I’d find myself, horrified, shrinking back from a plate of shrimp, clam chowder, crab, or lobster. There might as well be a murderous psychopath glaring up at me from the plate, waving a sharp implement. (I’m allergic to shellfish.)

It’s not important enough to fix, in the scheme of Things That Could Use Fixing (at $150 an hour). I am positive there is no menu trauma in my past, so I found a workaround, and moved on.

Thursday, I was planning Unfamiliar Food menus. 14 years of marriage, and I never noticed Shaun was the planner. Note to self: appreciate Shaun. I give my problem the $150 per hour test: is it worth it? No. Need a work around. I put out an all points bulletin: Jane needs food help!

(I have truly amazing friends, who, if they are fazed by my glitches, never let on.)

Hilary comes to help me sort out menus, the grocery list, and strategize how to get back on track: somehow, in the midst of this, she also manages to clean the bathroom.

I am awestruck.

Forget that she’s an incredible trainer. She can do MENUS and clean a bathroom at the same time. I’m speechless.

The next day, I get half the food in my cart, and stop, paralyzed by what I see on the list.

It made perfect sense when I wrote it down. Now, I have no idea what I was thinking.

I stand there and wonder if I can really ask a clerk:

“On which aisle might I find “Frozen Crap”?

Once I finished giggling, and Daisy texted me back suggesting ‘Frozen Crap’ could possibly be pre-prepared scalloped potatoes, etc.

  1. I knew I had to tell you.
  2. I took it global in my brain: where do I freeze around horses? Or do I?
  3. Where do other people freeze?

Today’s question:

Where do you freeze? Is there any area in which you freeze around horses? What’s your work around?

(Yes, I’m begging: I don’t want to stand alone in the freezer aisle.)

The Update from Jane’s House, and Favorite Barn Names?

Shaun’s dad is very ill. He’s moving in with us in a few days, and going into Hospice. I’m very glad he’s going to be with us.  I know it is a difficult transition for him, from total independence on the other end of the continent, to moving deeper into our family life. He can use all the prayers you can throw his way. Big adjustment.

We’re hoping we can help make this time warm, loving, and supportive, and at least offset the sadness of leaving a lifetime home.  (Can you imagine?!) To be seriously ill on top of that seems so unfair.

One computer is going to be shared by one full-time work at home person, one part-time work at home person, and the family.  Not looking so good on the blogging front. It could surprise me and work out, but I wanted to let you know what’s up.

I looked at my cell phone the other day and thought “Well. If I blog from my cell I will teach myself how to seriously edit. No way can I do more than a few sentences!”

This might be a good thing!

Another alternative: “let you entertain me” blogging.  (Yes, I’m laughing.) See example below.

I have a question for you:

What barn names have you absolutely adored, whether it was your horse or not?

The barn name of the cute little filly in the earlier post is “Twinkie”. She does look like a little vanilla cream-filled Twinkie! Her name hit my Adore list.

Hudson shared his paddock for a while with a sweet quarter horse gelding. He was average/medium cow horse size, which is generally well under 16 hh. Chunky and solid, but definitely not large. I really liked him. I asked Bella: “Do you know why he’s named ‘Big’?”

Bella pointed to his butt, the letters “BH” were branded quite large on his rump.

“B H….get it? Big. Horse.”

That’s how Big got his name.  I never could look at him again without feeling absolutely charmed. It fit him. He was a very straightforward, what you see is what you get, truth-in-advertising kind of guy. Big personality. Cracked me up.

What names do you love, and why? How do they fit?

Have you come across barn names that didn’t seem to match the horse’s personality?

Want to See an RSPI Inspection, Start to Finish?

We had a problem with our video camera, and don’t have Murphy’s inspection video sorted out yet. But I think you will love this mare and filly as much as I did.

I fell in love with the mare instantly. I saw her in one of the outdoor stalls, and couldn’t resist taking a photo. This is one of Glenhill farm’s brood mares: Amigo Bari Von. I rarely have instant reactions to horses. This mare just knocked me OUT.

Here’s her filly, Vanilla Coast, doing her best pre-inspection deer imitation. We all shushed each other (so we wouldn’t wake her up) and tried hard not to die from cuteness overload:

I was in the arena for the filly’s inspection, getting oriented from a photographic perspective. The light was changing constantly: lots of clouds. I wanted to shoot through as many inspections as I could before Murphy, so I had an idea of how the inspection proceeded, and where I might get the best shots.  It was very gracious of Glenhill Farm to allow me in.

My photos aren’t nearly as good as theirs, but here’s mom and filly, at the first stage of the inspection.

Here’s a full RSPI inspection, start to finish, courtesy of Glenhill Farm on YouTube. The inspector gives verbal remarks at the end: you can hear what he has to say. Awesome.

Frizzy hair and black t-shirt? Yup. That’s me, standing in the middle with the other real photographers.

Totally love this pair. Terrific breeding, that’s for sure.