Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Timsmas

So I didn't know we'd be spending Christmas with Tim. Tim's the worker that is helping fix the back side of our guesthouse. He lives by the beach, so the only way to get him here to work on time has been I guess to have him live over there, sleeping in the backless guest house, covered in plastic, in I hope a thermal sleeping bag.

It's weird enough to have a dude sleeping in an open air house, but then on Christmas?? So of course Tim got some slippers and then we invited him in for turkey and then somehow he was doing bike jumps with Nathan and Bruce in the backyard and going on the family walk and then playing a ripping game of Monopoly with all the kids. Nandy said Tim seems like a satyr, which I just like because it has a "y" in a weird place and it sounds like he'd have pointy ears and hide in secret dells in grassy knolls in Ireland.

He is actually a nice guy, just didn't know I was going to be having a Timsmas this year. I'm guessing that when the house is finished he'll just be living there. On Christmas day he did make some huge additions to the treehouse Nathan's building. It was actually the best day of Nathan's life, to have a builder be his friend. They nail gunned things and later rode bikes.

A Merry Christmas for all.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Maggie the Bolter

I don't know what I wrote about Maggie last, but I've figured out that she's in training, and I'm the one training her, so everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. Yesterday we rode over to Katie's house with Nathan way ahead of us on the bike, and aside from bolting forward once from a terrifying dog behind a fence, she did okay.

Getting her used to neighborhood dogs is the same as getting her used to the bridle, which she's now excellent at. It's just scarier cause I'm on her back and have to bolt along with her and pray I don't fall off. She'll get better at it, I just have to hang on. Literally.

I rode with spurs for the first time yesterday and she does listen a bit better, barely had to use them. She's doing better in general, listening - not wanting to go forward all the time, but still doing it. I figure what's right past that is resignation, the OKAY, I'll GO your way with no thinking of turning around. She's halfway there, and I only wanted to quit on her EVERY TIME. For some reason she's still here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Brain is An Empty Vessel

Too much going on and I don't think I'm actually doing that much that is visible to the naked eye. Just trying to maintain. Make a happy Christmas for kids at school, take care of kids, and the horse in the backyard. My friend Julie might take this horse, if she's not right for me.

The lady I used to ride for wants to give me her stallion. The sweetest horse if you can ride in an arena, he's nutty on the trail. And of course all I have is trail here, I don't have an arena. Maybe I should demolish the garage, instant arena.

I don't know, I'm not doing anything. I'm going to go recover from being out late with kids last night. Kids past 9 pm, never a good thing. I need to see the end of a night, without voices, to know that the day went well, and to feel satisfied. I'm only good for a limited number of hours, then my brain fries.

So I'll go sit in the sun and ruminate.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Big Fat Asshole

Yeah, so maybe it's the big crazy wind, but when I take the horse out she acts like an asshole. My friend Katie says not to give up, but I say you know what, life is too short. I just want to get on and ride on the trail, come back, and feel refreshed. I've been doing all the training, but I don't like when the horse turns at me and looks like she wants to stomp my brains out. She gets this look when I ask her to trot and she definitely wants to squelch that request from me. Like, by crushing my skull. So she can then eat grass around my body.

I decided if I become a big reality tv star on NickMoms, I'll have a little extra money so I can send this horse to someone else and then get a decent horse that is already trained.

As soon as I decided this, I took Maggie back inside and pulled all the trash cans in around her. She didn't mind all the clattering at all. In fact, I had to go back to get more trash cans (my life is trash) and I left her in the driveway and she just stood there like an excellent carriage horse. Damn her. Waiting while I pulled all the trash cans around her, she waited til I said Walk On, and then she just walked on like she was in the Rose Parade. I'll work more on ground driving her, she seems to like that. Katie says to wait til after the holidays to do anything. Stupid Katie.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fat Cowboy is Changing my Life

This fat cowboy is amazing. I'm learning all this stuff on his dvds about riding that I never knew, like first never wear a tight cowboy shirt if you're like 30 pounds overweight. He looks like Yoda. But really, I'm learning mostly that everything I do is my fault. The horse is just this lazy blinking, big eyed animal that basically wants what you want - an easy time. You just have to find the connection. And nurture it.

So much of it is the same as mothering - you're teaching behavior that works for you, and you can do it gently, you just have to be consistent.

I worked with Maggie out on the street yesterday and the backyard today for about 5 minutes that I had free - and it's really amazing what happens when you have a handful of new skills to toss out there and try. It takes away fear, and instead you have purpose. And the horse seems to respond to purpose - it's like she wants to do what I'm asking her - she's actually not being an asshole because she wishes she lived at a better barn and that her owner was Justin Timberlake or something (I don't even know who that is, is that like a shoe, or something?). Really, the horse isn't harboring some grudge, has no other agenda. She just wants active guidance so she can relax and carry out your plan, and then celebrate later with a giant pile of hay and maybe a butt scratch.

The riding is a different feel - it's active. The more active I am with my seat, legs, hands, the more she responds and listens, she's glad for the guidance. I'll be glad when she knows all the cues better and I can just ride and daydream, but this new section where we're both learning to understand each other - it's pretty interesting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jerry the Life Coach

My new love is this dude Jerry Tindell. He's some fat old cowboy who is like magic on horseback. Some neighbor (I'll call her cussing hairdresser from New York)gave me his dvds and I've been watching them on the treadmill and learning how to get into the mind of Maggie.

I have to watch everything like 20 times to understand what the hell he's talking about, and then I run out and try it out on Maggie. It's a good thing I have the discs, because Katie moved to her new house yesterday and without her here I decided I better get rid of this impossible horse. But then the dvds give me inspiration so I go out, get on her back and try all this bending and flexing and teaching her the leg cues, and it's kind of fascinating. She actually DOES the stuff he says it's possible to teach.

All I want is for her to be able to go out on the trail and be a regular and safe horse. But what he said that was most interesting is that horses don't respond to the pull on the rein, it's not the pull they're going for, it's the release. So you think you're pulling them, but really, when you pull them, they go with it because at the end of the pull is the release. They're looking for the release. I thought that said alot about pretty much everything in life. The horse will try anything for you because at the end you're letting go. That's a pretty nice promise.

Learning horses is just like learning music or learning any other invisible thing. It's all about finding balance and figuring out how to float along with something as seamlessly as possible so you can hear its own silent song. Hopefully you can match up with it for a few strides where you dissolve together. That seems like beauty to me.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Enjoy Your Meal

I guess Maggie's been with us three months now. I've been working with her out in the barn area because it said online to make her life a living hell in the barnyard, so that when you go on trail rides, she won't be in a hurry to turn around anymore and go home. So she's getting lunged outin our little back paddock area and she challenges me sometimes but mostly she does exactly what I say. She's a quick learner. Smart, but strong. So I have to be firm.

She's also just a big fat pile of brown playdough. She'd much rather just stand there and stare at you and perhaps fall asleep. So maybe when I'm done and I've built the perfect horse, then we'll both just stand there and fall asleep.

I was having a bad day the other day and I went out to see her while she was eating. I laid my head on her fat side and told her whatever problem it was that I was having. Probably about how life is speeding by and how does anyone figure out what they're doing, or who they are or what's important or what makes sense.

And she lifted her head up from her hay to look back at me, chewing contentedly.

You should really try the food here, was her message. There's nothing else, Jule. It's simple. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tiny Steps

I know this has become the Maggie blog, but I haven't had much time to ride lately. I mean, we ride a bit every day - Monday Nathan stayed home sick from school, so of course I made him ride his bike while I took Maggie up the trail. Only when you're trying to keep up with a bike do you realize how incredibly slow this horse actually is. Much better to have your head in the clouds than in real time when riding her. And today I got on for ten minutes doing bending and circling in the street in front of our house and then I had to run pick up Lilly for school and on the way shovel a pile of horse poop in a bucket and stick it in the trunk so it wouldn't be in front of the neighbor's house where she had deposited it. Then I forgot it was in the car so when I went to get the kids at carpool, I actually had to REMOVE a bucket of manure from the trunk so as not to gag the 11 year olds.

Today was one of those really hard days - packing my mom (again) this time in smaller and smaller suitcases, getting her plane stuff worked out, getting her dog into the vet so she can fly on the plane, hoping she even gets on the plane since she's going standby, trying not to feel guilty for all the things we didn't do while she was here, everything rush rush rushing because we have 3 busy kids all the time around. Then Lilly saying (when I had to go to the vet), "Is she going to die?" because the last time we were there we had to take in old Maisie. Then I had to run to the gyno for a look under the hood, and all evening was spent in the garage and helping Nathan do an earthquake project for science. As well as cooking. And still I'm mad I didn't get on the treadmill because then I could eat more banana cream pie.

And life moves too fast and there's too much going on, and I'm not even rich or famous. And sure, maybe I spend too much time helping my mom because I'm hoping that she'll actually love me if I do it. That she'll find happiness. It is truly a ridiculous life.

I'm sure if she does get on the plane, I'm going to have a very strange adjustment period after all these years of trying to make her happy and content, and helping her, and now she'll just be gone. I hope I can think of ways to spend the time. Relaxing might be good. I was just starting to go crazy, too much togetherness and not enough nurturing. But I love her, but man, it's hard because I am passionate about things, and I can get really angry when people are stupid and don't do things my way. I may have some faults. Today at carpool I stopped to let Nathan out to buy some awful fatty snack from a street ice cream vendor and I didn't pull up enough and some lady (I hesitate to call her that) had to pull her car around me and yelled out her window, mad "White people!" Wow man, that hurt. Am I bad driver because I'm white? Or because I'm a bad driver? When I see all the Mexicans and South Americans dropping their kids off in all sorts of terrible areas around the school in the morning, do I think racist slurs? I think I do. It's a base instinct, easy to access. Then I realized the Armenian kid I like was blocking traffic as he got dropped off the other day too. So it isn't just white vs hispanic. We're all against each other. All nations, all skin colors - we are all bad drivers. I can celebrate that unity. And when I think racist slurs, I can realize, I, too, am a bad Mexican driver. It's love, man. Humanity.

Maggie is very, very fat. I sometimes sit on her while she's eating. Because she's the cushioniest chair.

The hay guy Sal dropped off the hay while I was having my ten minute ride this morning, and he stopped to say hi. I told him I was working on bending her because she was a little barn sour lately (feeling desparate, I can't keep going). I always hang on anything anyone says, so as not to give up. And Sal said, "She's doing great." So that bolstered me up. Sal says she's great, I'll keep going. Tiny steps, big swaying belly.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Limp Away, Jog Home

So Mags and I did the trail yesterday after a few days of bending and turning and getting her used to listening to the rider. And she was better about being barn sour - she did still try to turn around and go home, but I could win the battle easier than last time. I figure I'll work with her a few days on bending, then go on the trail, then more days on bending. Eventually she'll quit, and be the big dope I'm hoping for, where you get on, aim her at the trail and ride.

Our little work area is out in front of the house on the street, in front of God and everyone. We're the weird little couple who just go in circles and never get anywhere. But it is so nice to be on a horse's back, especially her fat back, it's like riding a couch. Everything is peaceful up there because there I can't do anything for anybody, I just shrink back to my actual size. I think that's relaxation. Of sorts.

Yesterday we managed to open and shut the gate without me having to get off - it's like a comedy act trying to wiggle her the right way so I can close the gate without hitting her. But she was patient and helpful. Oh and she even fakes limping when going OUT away from the barn, and walks as slow as she can. Then you turn her around and she walks happily back, suddenly all better. I think I do that too, when I have to go get the kids at carpool.

Now that she can open gates, I think I may invite her in and do everything from horseback. Fry eggs, pack lunches and talk on the phone. It'd be so much more relaxing except our floors would be ripped to shit.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Day 81

I haven't blogged in here lately because Maggie had become a gigantic fat asshole and it didn't seem inspiring. In fact, I mentally quit, like I do immediately, so as to remain consistent.

She had decided that after a month of riding, she was going to turn around and go home everyime we went out. And she's got a really strong head. It's like trying to turn the Titanic away from the iceberg. Except without the big budget effects.

Every time she does something that seems insurmountable I think, time to make her into dog food. This was a mistake. She's a terrible individual. I will surely be killed. But then today I went out again because I had time off and I'd rather do that than write or clean. And I worked with her on turning and bending. Stepping back a step, since I realized that it's only been a month since we started riding everyday, which means that out of 10 years of her life, she's only had 30 days of someone pulling her around with a bit in her mouth. Maybe I should go back and get her really good at turning and listening to cues, respecting her rider and driver.

So we went out and slowly worked on the street, just turning circles, not getting anywhere, and she slowly got used to it - I just had to realize she can't just be pointed and aimed up the trail and expected to be a seasoned trail horse when she's still just learning and wanting to figure out the rider/horse connection. She's going to test everything, and wait to see who emerges as the leader.

I am learning today, as I drove her on long lines in the driveway, that it's actually an illusion that riding or driving is mellow and easy. You are always in contact with the horse's mouth, and you can't let the reins slack because then the horse is actually just floating out ahead with no leader. No matter where you're standing or walking as the rider/driver, you have to have contact and be the gentle but firm leader. A horse needs a leader. Later on, when we have a pretty solid connection, and she's a seasoned trail horse, then we can have moments of daydreaming and she'll know who's in charge. But I can't slack off now in the formulative years/days.

So thirty days is not enough it is just the beginning. But it's better than no days.

On the way home from our short ride we kept turning and bending, stopping and starting and turning and getting her used to listening to me no matter if that squirrel over there looks more interesting, or if going back to the barn for a nap seems like a good idea. She did improve - and the three Friends Of Maggie who keep telling me to not give up - they keep saying picture the horse you want to have, don't be afraid of every bad moment is the ACTUAL horse, the terrible horse. She's just a big doofy dog, and she's trying to learn. She likes her people.

When I got off her yesterday at the intersection by our house because one my friends stopped in her car to talk, and I was complaining about how she had turned into a gigantic piece of doo doo, we kept talking and talking and as we were talking, Maggie just stood there innocently and then slowly stepped closer to me until she was almost leaning on my shoulder, with her head hanging there like um, I don't wanna miss anything. She wants to belong.

That's why I kept going today. I'm going to focus on the idea that she will be an excellent, giving and gentle horse - just as she is now, I'll just school her in the cues I want her to follow, so she can be confident, and pliable.

And we've been calling her Agent 91 because of her brand on her butt. She's a retired spy (or is she retired?), and in the witness protection program.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Family Therapy Horse

I usually write about the Mags and her progress, and she's doing great. Katie and I took her to the park yesterday and let her run free in the arena where she rolled and I got her to walk and trot on a lunge line, by voice command. She's still not always sure what I want her to do, and she'd much rather be sitting in a big fat hammock drinking a drink with a flower in it, but she does try for me.

The biggest lesson with this horse is learning to trust that just because one stupid mean pony bucks you off and breaks your hand and costs alot in hand surgery, doesn't mean that every horse is mean. In fact, most horses are just mosey-ing along. I don't like things that break my already tenuous confidence. That pony needs a few firecrackers in her horseshoes, as payback.

I have learned that Maggie doesn't buck or rear when she gets scared, she just leaps forward for a few strides. As long as I can hang on to that, I won't fall off. She usually does that when a dog startles her by charging a fence. That seems like her only pet peeve so far. She always leaps forward but then stops, because ultimately she is extremely lazy. She has no interest in running off with me. She is really strong, though, so I have to make her very supple in the bridle for the kids, so she won't manhandle them into going her way with her strong mouth.

Otherwise, she's the most excellent family horse, and it's only been 2 1/2 mos. I figure safely by Valentine's Day, anybody could ride her. At this rate. Even Barry likes her, and doesn't mind that hay costs too much right now. She's like the family therapy horse. Each night we go on a walk in the neighborhood and all the kids get on bareback for a little ride. We talk about our day.

Couldn't have done all this work without Katie, who has helped on the ground and in the saddle. Building my confidence and also being a strong, capable adult who could be another set of hands when training. She also loves horses. Really lucky how it all worked out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nascar in a Dumptruck

Mags learned to trot in the last few days! She's really comfy to ride too. She is stubborn, when she wants to come home, you have to have the arms of Hercules to get her to turn the way you want (back on the trail). I took her out in the rain, and she got used to splashing trucks, walking through puddles - the noises sound differently in the rain. I also rode in a bareback pad with stirrups, and since it was cold her nice fat body kept my legs warm. (bareback is the best, but I'm too chicken to ride without stirrups yet, my leftover fear from pony-that-broke-my-hand years ago).

So now we'll work on canter, which for her is like Indy 500 fast. Like driving a dumptruck at Nascar. And we'll keep taking her on the trail and getting her used to going out. Just repetition, and positive reinforcement. And lots of hay. (I love my dumptruck horse, though. Did I tell you we passed a house on our trail where a guy was standing out front putting up Halloween decorations, and he said "That horse needs alot of exercise. She's too chunky." I just stared at him, 5'4 tops, with the gut of sumo wrestler hanging over his belt. So many things came to mind to say back to him. She's supposed to fat, dorkus. She's a draft. YOU, on the other hand. Too many quesadillas, pal, and it shows.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Maggie the Milk Maid

Katie and I have been working with Maggie everyday. It's day 65 today, and we borrowed a driving collar and some harness pieces from my neighbor and we suited her up in all the heavy equipment, complete with bridle with blinders on. She ended up looking like a little old man horse, off to make milk deliveries in the neighborhood.

She is the most amazing horse, because not only did she let us dude her up in all this heavy stuff around her neck and on her back, she also let us tie a big fat heavy tire to some string behind her and she pulled it scraping around behind her like a man-eating tire monster in the driveway, without any fuss.

I realized the dreams of a young Amish boy by hearing the clinking of the harness as she walked, I just erased all the cement and city noises and replaced them with rolling green fields and women in the kitchens making pies in long dresses. That's how it is in my mind when I work with tubby Maggie. I sweat out there with the tons of fun horse, but I know that after work there's going to be a fresh pie in the kitchen. (Except there isn't.)

After our little tire drag exercise, we unharnessed her and then took a little trail ride up the mountain, to get her used to going out. It's only her 4th time up the mountain and she's getting used to dogs rushing the fence and barking, and cement trucks with air brakes. And I (who walked half the way, Katie and I switch halfway) saw a bug on the trail that was flailing around on his back and I righted him with my shoe cause he looked so in need. I was later repaid for this good deed by finding a eucalyptus leaf laying on the trail that was the perfect shape of a heart. (Picture of that later.)

Who says there's no treasure in them thar hills?

When I put Maggie away to eat her hay in the barn, I peeked in the hay bin to make sure she had enough and there was a perfect green egg, nestled there. Lovely, lovely surprises.

Farm life in the city.

My goal - to have an old wagon that Maggie can pull. I'm only missing one piece of harness. And the wagon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

61 Days

Rode the Mags out on the street yesterday without anybody on the ground (Katie) helping. We only went about 1 block. All she wants to do is see if she can eat every lawn along the way. So I had to steer her into the middle of the street where alas there is no grass. The challenge now is getting her focused on steering the way I need her to go, not stopping at every In and Out for a shake and some fries. (Hey wait, chocolate shake? Why aren't we stopping again?)

Cause I read a trainer that said "there's only going to be two ways of doing things, your way or your horse's way, and it always has to be your way. Cause with horses there's no 'meeting of the minds.' They want a leader."

It's been 61 days, and Maggie is rusty at steering, but better at bridling. Bridling seemed impossible about a week ago. Now she's just getting it without a fight. She turned a corner. I figure her steering gently like glass is a few weeks away too. I am very close to being able to get on and just go on up the trail, and relax.

Now I'm slowly going to borrow all my neighbor's driving equipment and teach her to drive. She does like to go out. She's an adventurer.

Also her feet have to be trimmed and her teeth might have to be floated. Since her teeth were probably never bothered with when she was on the pee line. They can get sharp and have to be filed down with this huge file. Doesn't take long for the vet, but like the DMV, it isn't a chore you love to do.

All I know is, when the kids are demanding things, or homework swallows me whole and I'm lost in a vast wasteland of Nathan's middle school experience, I slip out into the barn and there's that fat Maggie looking for a pet or a scratch or goddamn it how bout a freaking apple once in awhile?? She loves apples now. She has big quiet brown eyes and she's grateful for everything.

Mom's therapy. At the cost of hay. Love the smell of hay too, smells better than money.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

That old Maggie is doing great. Today, it's been 7 1/2 weeks since she came here, and today I was ground driving her out in our back driveway (me walking way behind her with long ropes up to her bridle, steering her), and she was actually kind of figuring it out, to keep walking, turning and stopping when I said. She doesn't always understand, sometimes she turns all the way around to look at me like "Hey why are you back there, all the scratching happens when you're up here by my face." But then she'll turn back around. There isn't a fast speed on this horse. Nothing is important enough to get to in a rush. I think she's Southern. I perhaps should have named her Georgia.

What I'm liking today is learning that (I keep learning this) repetition of the basic things actually works. Doing the smallest things, gently and over and over, actually gets you a compliant horse. Mostly. I should try this in other areas of my life. Shooting for 2%, instead of 100%. Score everytime. But for now I'm building a mellow carriage horse. Very fun.

What I also like is that when I go out to her paddock to clean up her poops (which she lines up neatly against the back wall), she comes over and stands directly behind me, like a giant shadow. I don't even hear her, she's just suddenly there, and she just waits there.

She isn't even looking for food, she'll actually leave her hay (a very big deal for her, hay's all she's got, she has no pockets) and come over to stand behind me like hey, how bout a scratch.

Love that.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Safe and Steady

Well let's see, it's been 7 weeks since we got the Mags, big fat horse in the backyard.

I've been working in the garage (cleaning it out), and sometimes we let her out to wander in the driveway - she likes to pick through boxes like she's shopping, and then go over to Moose's door and take a big poop.

I haven't had time to work with her except at night like 9 pm, I go out and saddle her up and ride for about 5 minutes in the back paddock. Just to get her used to the basics of saddling, bridling, mounting, steering and stopping. I say it's for her, but I'm figuring out that maybe it's for me. Routine and the basics, getting us used to each other, making it boring so that when we get out on the trail she knows what I want and there are the least amount of surprises, most amount of control.

Last night it seemed like she finally was understanding steering (yay!), then tonight she was more heavy at turning (boo). Last night she was worse at bridling, tonight she finally figured out what I wanted - that she didn't have to lift her head up, that nothing bad was going to happen with the bridle. My friend Nigel said, she's just not used to it, that's all. So she's not evading to be mean, she's just learning it all.

I'm going to try and do 30 days in a row under saddle so she expects to be worked with. Tonight when she wasn't steering so well from the saddle, I got down and put long lines on her and tried ground driving her, and she did really well. So she is learning - our back area is a little confined, so it's hard to manuever. It is amazing to build the horse, doing all the training. I have the little bits of time, and I'm learning her as she's learning me.

She'll do anything if you scratch all her itches - her stomach, her chest and the back of her back legs - she sticks her nose out and quivers with happiness when you scratch her.

She does like to work - when I come out at 9 I expect to see her sleeping, but she comes right over like hey, allright, bring on the molasses. I can see her pulling a cart for us, all the kids piled in back, not really getting anywhere, maybe just around the park and back. But who needs to get anywhere, it'll just be fun. But first things first, I'm still going to keep making her safe and steady.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sweetness and Love

Day 42 with Maggie the Wonder Horse. It's been a month and a half today. I gave up a few days ago (you may recall), then read up a little bit more about how to gain control of a dominant horse and decided, well hell, might as well try waving a little plastic bag on the end of a stick. Supposed to gain you some respect in horse body language.

So I went out there tonight and darn it if it isn't true that she did not like the waving of the plastic bag on the stick. She liked doing whatever she had to do to have me put that stick down. Then we worked a little slow and easy with the bit, to try and get her to keep her head lowered when the bit goes in. It's me, shoving it up there too fast that causes her to raise her head. So I have to relax, and act like I have nothing better to do than stand there with molasses dripping down my arm while I get her used to me approaching and taking away, approaching and taking away with the bit near her mouth. The long way is the short way, they say. Tiny steps. Once you get her happily taking the bit, it will be easy to do forever.

She has gotten (at least today) really good about letting me have all four of her feet to clean out. This is a major accomplishment in 6 weeks.

She has also learned Whoa, and is learning to turn right and left. This is helpful when there is a big firetruck coming down the road and you want to get out of the way in the future. So I'll make sure we have these cues pretty well established.

All in all a good training day. After our little work session I then scratched her entire body because she likes that. I think that is really why she lets me clean all her feet. Because I scratch her huge stomach, and this is bonding. Molasses and belly scratching, it could stop all wars in the world if we tried it. Works for her anyway, sweetness and love. Kinda love that. Pretty great journey if you look at success in small increments.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'll Never Quit You

Isn't that from Brokeback Mountain?

I decided the other day that this horse was a big mistake and I should take my midlife crisis wrapped in fur and trade her in for I don't know, some Icees at Target or something.

But then two of my friends said, wait, aren't you expecting a little too much? Yes. If you slowed down a little bit, wouldn't you be happier with the small steps and results? Yes. Slow down? What's that? If I slow down I'll fall down. That's why I never sit and watch tv with the kids. I'd just be asleep in seconds.

So then my one friend bought the mare a bale of extra hay, the sweet alfalfa kind that I can't afford, and my other friend brought her a little fly mask to keep her eyes nice and protected, and there is this tiny group of people that are really interested in how she turns out. So the next morning I once again dipped my hand in the jar of molasses and rubbed it all over the bit and she loves Molasses Hands, she would put the bit in herself if she had hands. And she lets me pick up and clean all her feet each day, which she hadn't done a month ago.

The more I work with her, the more she knows what to expect, the more the work becomes routine and boring, the more settled and predictable horse she becomes. She just needs to be allowed to learn the routine. She will be first in line to see the outcome.

So we continue to work toward boring. Something I've achieved with my all my personal goals. And what am I really losing, spending all this time in increments with this cow of a horse? Molasses makes your hands smell pretty good.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dissolve Yourself

There was a point, outside with our big horse today, where I did something right. Or I don't even know if it was right, but this huge, 1400 pound lump of motherly love was balanced between my outstretched arms, going in the circle I was trying to teach her (to lunge) around me.

I wasn't forcing her forward, I was encouraging her and then letting her go forward. And when I stepped in closer to her tremendous girth instead of being afraid, at a safe distance, when I moved in that's when, magically, she just started moving around me, like with me closer to her, she felt supported instead of attacked. Picture me standing in the middle of our back dirt paddock, barefoot, at 10 at night, and I decide to step closer to the giant mare, and hold my arms straight out from my sides, crucifix style, and jiggle the leadrope in my left hand to encourage her forward, and wiggle my right hand at her rear to let her know that this is where I end, that she's in a safe little pocket of me, and then magically, she trusts me. I'm so close to her that it's like she's a half ton ballerina and I'm supporting her weight, even though she's not touching me, she is leaning on me, the air is heavy and we are doing a little dance, where everything is moving the right way. We're in sync, and we are connected. And it's easy.

It's like the one time I was a good actor. For one moment in a play we did back in Maryland at our little coffeehouse theater, it was me and Paul, my friend, doing a scene from "Burn This," (no doubt badly) and in the play he storms out of the room and my character is supposed to crumple to the floor and want him back, and when Paul stormed out of the room I actually forgot that I was in a play and I felt my body say "Is he coming back?" And I cried for real, I crumpled down to the floor because I felt the loss, and that's the one time acting was real, when I forgot, and it was like crossing over to some other place, where I wasn't OUT HERE and everyone else was OVER THERE. I was THERE. I wasn't even I. The moment was everything, and I was dissolved into it.

That's what it was like tonight, out in the misty dirt, with the beautiful horse, balancing on my outstretched arms like she was floating. Lasted maybe four whole seconds. Because perfect only lasts that long. Then I scratched her way under her tummy and she stretched her neck out with her lip quivering because it's really hard to reach your itcy bellybutton when you're a horse. And I thought maybe it is worth it to have our little barn and family, even though she had to give up 30 gorgeous rolling green acres in Colorado. All the food she wanted, but none of this glorious dancing with barefoot humans.

Connection is something.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Everybody Call 911

I got on! Exactly one month after working every day with her. On 9/11, and the tatoo on her butt says 911. It was destiny.

And look how highly dangerous she looks.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tale of the Horsey Continued

I have no idea where we're going with this horse, if we're even keeping this horse. But for now, I guess we're just trying to see if I'm not too chicken to keep moving forward.

We took Meg to the park yesterday, first time, me and Nathan on his bike and Katie our friend, and Hank and Owen, doggies.

She is the slowest horse ever. But when we got to the arena and let her free in that thick sand, she just ran around with her head straight up in the air. She was checking out the green grass, the kids playing in the park (she'd never seen a park, never seen a baseball field, never seen anything.) Of course I was scared seeing she could go fast and was huge. It just looked like death on horseback to me. I think I'm fixated.

But on the walk home she did finally relax and get back in her laid back mellow surfer state. So I have to realize that with each new step and experience, it is all new and all scary, for her and for me. But that new things are supposed to be nerve-wracking and scary, that's how it starts. That's hopefully the worst of it. Then it morphs into routine, normal, everyday. I just love boring. But I'm having to take all the scary steps to get to boring.

So maybe next time she'll be a little bit less excited, and then I'm building into things being reliable. It's all just time, and experience.

Monday, September 05, 2011


Day 22 with our new horsie - I hate to sound optimistic, but I think she's kind of great. I mean, she's really slow - I'll probably never make it more than 10 minutes from the house before I have to turn around for the hour ride back...this is if I ever actually ride her... But she seems level headed. Just inexperienced. So we're going slowly. It's only been 3 weeks now.

Today I got the saddle on her, got her used to the feel of that, and leaned on her back while standing on a chair. I also got her to pick up all four feet without kicking me. And she is starting to like the bit - it's going farther in her mouth each time we try. So no rush, this seems to work. Tiny bit at a time, and we might end up with a sweet horse. I think she eats about a bale and a half a week - which is about $30 at our high hay prices of the moment. But if I get a boarder in here, or get my horse job going again, she'd be covered.

Well, it's a good experiment. Everything seems like the first time, like I don't know anything about horses. All I know is to be scared. But we're building something. I'm building confidence.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Believe in Yourself

So I'm covered in molasses but very excited because tonight, day 16, the horse did everything right. She did everything I asked. She slurped molasses off the bit and let me fiddle with it without yanking her head away (or maybe I learned not to be so forceful). She let me pick up her feet with a rope using light pressure. She let me put a bareback pad on her back and cinch it up gently, and then walk around.

Hmm, so slow and gentle, with a sense of humor... it does seem to work. All I did was stop trying to get somewhere, and remember that this mare is new to everything, and then there ya go. We're working out our relationship. So today was good.

Monday, August 29, 2011

There's this horse. She's been at our house for two weeks now. I've been working with her every day, at night when the kids are asleep, and I'm sure the horse wishes she was asleep.

On day 13 (2 days ago) I decided this is too much for me. This takes too long. I don't know how to train a 1400 pound animal. My kids don't even put their dishes away, and they're a waifish 80 pounds.

So I started looking on the internet for how to work with horses like her and then I started reading about life as a PMU mare, which is what she is. She stood pregnant, tied in a stall starting every September until May. She had a little pee bag strapped to her pee area (that's the professional term) that collected her pee so it could be used for hormone replacement in humans. She was just a pee machine. She couldn't lay down, or wander over to smell flowers. No one gave her a carrot. In May, she'd have her baby and be out to pasture to loll free for three months. Then they take her baby away, get her knocked up again and stick her back in the stall for the long winter in snowy North Dakota.

I went back out there this morning to feed her. She was rolling in the dirt, free. She got up, shook off and stood there looking at the sky. She saw me and she came ambling over, sticking her nose out for a pet.

I can't believe I expect this horse to do anything except take deep breaths and enjoy her freedom. I don't need to rush to shove a saddle on her and bit in her mouth. I'm just getting to know her, and asking her to do small things to get her used to working kindly with me. Of course I want to ride, like yesterday. I want a horse that knows everything and is just easy. But my small amount of money buys this horse, the one that needs help and guidance. I have the space, and little bits of time. She is wide, fat and hilarious looking. And she loves molasses. Maybe sometimes you get what needs you, not what you need. Or somewhere along the line it works out, if you commit to it. And in the meantime maybe I can learn patience, and empathy here. Start gently, and fresh. With understanding of where she's been, the way she's been standing for years. It's only been TWO WEEKS.

I did just spend two years working with a filly doing exactly what I'm doing with her. I do know a little bit. I could do it.

One lady trainer I read said Slow and Easy. Throw away your watch. She'll learn everything, just go slow and easy.

I have hay for awhile longer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Swell Summer

Sold our doggie door today to a strange guy in a truck. He was a big guy, who looked too old to be driving a truck. He made lots of jokes that were a little bit weird - you know when someone is trying to be casual and it just doesn't fit on them, they're just not good at it.

So he took the doggie door which is good because we're getting a new one put in the wall. But he wasn't someone we'd want over for tea, even Nathan agreed he was a little odd.

There's alot going on at our house - guys outside builing a deck that seems much bigger than the feeble one Barry and I had in our tiny minds. Things seem to take longer when power saws are involved, and they main guy who's working seems to pump up his muscles every day. By the end of the job he's going to be all arms, you won't even be able to see his face. Tina and I like to ogle him, big stong man. It is a construction site, so someone has to ogle. It's in his contract.

People come to swim, so the house kind of expands in the summer, friends come and go, food comes and goes, (mostly goes), the day always starts out with the usual Oppers and then there's this big middle day where people jump in and then it winds down to just us Oppers again. That middle part is swell. Like, full, swell, it swells. There never seems like they'll be enough food. There are always many stomachs. Luckily the stomachs usually bring extra - but the sheer amount of food preparation, have I mentioned this?? How do other people do this??

Okay, well anyway, a swell summer.

I'm in the Money

I'm only writing in here because Nigel said he'd pay me $50 bucks for every blog I write. Cha ching, look this one's only two sentences.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Fat Horse

There is a big fat horse at our house right now, and dammit I'm too tired to get the camera and plug it all in for a picture on here. If only Nathan was running my downloads or uploads or whatever, this would be a way cooler blog. Filled with pix and games and things you click on and whoosiwhatsits. That's not even a word I'm comfortable with.

This mare got here 1 day ago. She looks like a cow. A cow who swallowed a barrel. She has big cow eyes. She has never seen so much action in her life. She's been on 30acres in Colorado for a year, and before that at a PMU farm where she stood in a stall and had her urine collected for 7 years.

Now she watches kids riding bikes over ramps in the yard, and airplanes flying overhead. Her eyes get wide when she hears something she's never heard before. I'm sure she's sitting out back thinking "wow, I really drew the short straw on this one. Where's all the grass??"

But she is having something she's never had in her life. A family. Kids feeding her hay. Pats on the shoulder. Someone sitting with her. Putting fly spray around her eyes and face. So she's still adjusting to this new life.

The good thing is, she can always go live with my neighbor and be a trail horse for a living. But for now, we're just seeing what it's like to have a horse here, and giving her some love.

The weird part is, when you get something you think you want so bad, it doesn't feel like what you think. It makes you realize that the wanting something is a great thing - the getting it just makes you realize you were already perfect before - my life is already so wonderful. I didn't need anything else. I see that. Just having these kids, and a car that works, and living indoors, and occasionally pizza and books to read - this is much. Huge.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nathan on The Workers at Our House

Nathan says tonight, "You know you like someone alot and then you find out something about them...like they smoke or they have a tatoo... and you don't like them as much?"

Monday, August 08, 2011

Home Improvement

Whoever said that opening new doors is a good idea has never gone door shopping with Barry.

It could be me, it might not be Barry, it might just be that you can't take two people with little sense of home style and put them in front a million doors. Will this one open in and clutter the room? Is this a bad choice, the boring sliding glass door? Who pays $800 dollars for a door?

Lilly lays on the bottom of the Lowe's cart and is so bored that she invents a new game with two gold screws she found behind the cabinet section. I think the screws are both dogs and there is something about napping going on. Either way, it's more interesting than Barry and I standing around on concrete floors with big drooling Lowe's employees trying to figure out which frigging door should lead out of our bedroom.

Then we get home and we have to move the broken diving board to make room for the new thrift store diving board, and somehow Barry ends up knocked off into the pool. Barry is now not allowed to do anything involving the OUTDOORS. Since his phone (which was in his pocket) is now sitting in a bag of dry rice in the kitchen. Praying for a miracle.

Stealth Chicken

Our white chicken did not like that we moved her nest. Since the chickens have been moved over into the barn while the millions of chicken mites die tragic deaths alone in the chicken house, the white chicken has been holding out laying. In protest. I knew she had to lay, too, cause she kept going in and out of boxes, looking for the right spot, not able to focus on anything else, she obviously had a worry on her mind.

I could NOT find the nest. For days, I knew she had laid, just couldn't figure out where the heck she found a place that I couldn't see.

Yesterday morning when I went out, no white chicken. Uh oh, that usually means that overnight, chicken has become possum's Sunday dinner. But later when I went out again with some treats (who doesn't like old watermelon and stale crackers heaved over a fence?) I SAW the white chicken fly down from a tree. Eh heh, okay, I got you.

While she was eating I pushed my way past the foliage (sorry) and on TOP of the rabbit hutch, in the midst of a bunch of leaves I find a MILLION white eggs, all organized into her secret nest. Okay, 13 eggs. So it had been exactly 13 days she had kept her nest hideaway a secret.

I've checked the hideaway the last two days now and NO eggs. Craft hen. I believe she is building an underground railroad. If you see her, do offer her shelter and solace. But grab the eggs.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My House Has Me By the Balls

I'm pretty good at looking competant at a lot of things. Mothering, cooking, animal husbandry. (wifery?) But with the house, forget it, it all leaks out, I cannot hide the fakery, it all comes sloshing around the corners as I run to try and pose, and block the landslide. All day, I could spend all day trying to organize as my three little destroyers unhinge all I have done with a simple bathing suit thrown on the floor or a spill of macaroni or a broken tooth or some other wild act where some limb waits to be broken.

I am always in the middle of something, usually involving my hands and a great deal of worry about all the other things I'm NOT getting to while my hands are busy doing this one VERY dumb task. I need multiple heads to manage all the worry - in fact, good idea, I should look into that on Craigslist, my true husband. If I had more heads, I could feel bad in more minds than just one, and that would feel pretty good, at least the space would be useful. Set up some lawn chairs and serve up the worry in a more relaxed fashion.

I snarl at the kids to help and basically let them know how they have FAILED me by not jumping up to help at each squawk I make so that now, deep in the summer (although it only feels like a few weeks) I have shown them how Mommy Cancels Fun because there's so much boring work to be done. I make them vacuum and mow the lawn and pull back the pool cover and feed the chickens and make their bed and fold the couch blankets and stop watching tv. I say things like Don't watch teenage shows because they're badly written and I don't want you to think buying shoes and wearing lipstick is what's Really Important.

I guess the house is always secondary, looming around us, a squalid shimmering mass of Undone, Unaccomplished, a gnarled, pointy finger shivering at me You Lose. I am adrift in this file-less ocean, an unalphabetized mess, piled underneath broken toys and lost library books. Someday I WILL climb to the top of the heap. I will build the bonfire and enjoy the burning of the stuff, I will be able to see the other side of my garage. Which I think is still there.

I am SORRY, house, that I've been so busy making quesadillas. Trust me, may I never see another corndog. It's that I have to manage things from the heart on down, so the building of the kids is more important than the wiping of your walls or the brooming of your sidewalk. My house will never be the palace of virtue that my prim grandmother's house was - it was always silent in her house, and undisturbed white like the inside of a starched leather shoe.

Our house is lived in like my (other, more relaxed) Arkansas Gramma Yvonne's hairstyle. She was tan and had big boobs and in her kitchen all the lemon drops stuck together in the glass jar from humidity. So you could take the whole glob of them out and just suck on the giant dome of lemondrops.

It was a beautiful world, there. I have, yes, successfully achieved the glob of lemondrops. In every corner of my house. She is chuckling in approval up there, in Heaven, jiggling her foot and flicking her ashes absently down on us. Those lemondrops taste pretty dern good, don't they? She's saying, taking a long drag.

Now go find some playing cards. (She had them stashed in every drawer of her house.) Like leprechaun gold.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shock, Terror Mixed with Hooray

Lilly learned how to jump off the diving board today. In her blue bathing suit that matches Emma, that she got for 9 dollars at Target. With Lilly, baby #3, I am always IN the pool when she does something great, and I have no camera built into my hands cause I'm swimming, so I keep saying I better remember this because there is going to be no picture.

This summer, where she went down the slide for the first time and it was so fast, the look on her face, shock, terror mixed with hooray in a split second. Her nice fat little legs getting her in and out of the pool, running off the board, spinning, jumping, not afraid of the wind or the cold air as sunset approached, so happy to be doing something new that it required no less then 300 tries in a row. Aiming for 3000.

I said to my mom, hey, I remember when things were so exciting I had to try them all, and weather couldn't stop me. Nothing mattered except trying that new thing, cause joy was in that new thing. I had a pang like, oh no, I'm past that point in my life. My mom pointed out that you just learn to pace yourself - Lilly can get out, jump in, get out, jump in and then at the end be exhausted and wrapped in a towel and loved the rest of the night. But the mom has to take the joy in small bits, because she has to get the towel, make the late night snack, brush the teeth, put away the clothes, find the pajamas. It's all there, all the little acts of maintaining joy. When you grow up you learn to stretch out all your joy of new experiences so you can make it to the end of the day. You sort of store it all up and savor it slowly. So it's the same - but different.

So I watched Lilly jump, right there, floating in her waves. I get to see all the joy, the whole pool, while she masters the diving board. She's building her own whole pool with these bold acts of bravery. My joy gets to be watching her as she does it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Coyote Ugly

A coyote was jumping our fence and getting in the yard, eating his way through all our animals. I thought it was a possum (cause I hadn't SEEN him in the yard, I do know the difference between rodent and wild dog).

Anyway, after losing two bunnies and two chickens, I did finally see the coyote. Started building the fence up in a really redneck, haphazard way. He still got over and tried to go shopping again in the chicken yard. One of our chickens started hiding in the hen house, which I thought was fear related, but turned out she was just brooding (ready to set on the nest and wait for babies). But alas, us with no rooster. So I called our neighbor behind us who had a rooster, and told her about the hen and mentioned the coyote and my neighbor went into hyper drive saying oh we are going to set this coyote straight.

I hadn't wanted to figure out how to hot wire our fence, it all seemed too hard, the fencing, the wire, the hot - even she said "oh we'll get your husband out here and he'll figure out how to wire it to our hot wire.." and I'm thinking, Barry? Outside with an electrified wire? It didn't look likely. In fact, that's why I was so tired even THINKING about it because I kept having to substitute "Julie" with "husband." Barry's not the out riding fences type. It was going to have to be me. And Nathan, 10year old superhelper.

But this neighbor, it's rare you find a woman that you hope you turn out to be. She's got to be 70 years old. And she just hops up on her fence and is telling me how to put the wire here, and attach this thing there, she is not afraid of ladders or hard work or getting it done. Nathan just stood there in awe as she handed over a pellet gun which looked like a giant shotgun, still new in a box. She's against guns, she said, but she's more against coyotes.

She made hard work look like some sort of town hall dance - happy, facing the crushing waves head on. That's the kind of person Shakespeare wrote plays about - these dastardly people that dammit, have this great attitude. I'm just hoping that some of that wears off on me and doesn't get zinged away with every singed coyotes that comes to meet our fence. We did do the fence, excellently.

And putting up that fence in the hot sun was a big big drag. Because I had to supply popsicles to small people and get sunblock on and entertain - my life did not stop so I could put up the fence. My life continued on hectically right alongside my crushing need to put up a coyote ugly fence. That is the draggish part that sucks out my happy ability to face life like an agile 70 year old. Maybe it's something to look forward to. From down here in the foxhole. Deep. How I get time to do even ONE thing like write this blog - let alone build and wire a fence without electrocuting myself while simultaneaously making spaghetti and watching kids in the pool.

It's been two days. So far all chickens accounted for.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Lovin

Summer hit us. The pool is our old, watery friend. Why have we been ignoring him for months when we could have been floating in his glorious waters? The kids are red already, maybe I shouldn't have gotten those marked-down sunblocks last winter. I gather chicken eggs (6 today), I make more food than I want to make, I wear pajamas all day, we don't rush, we are just here. I listen to my friends, I watch their faces as we watch our kids, I am just glad to be here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sets on the Brain

Visited Barry's set and remembered the time I used to use sets as my own personal bar. It's dark, it's vast, everyone is whispering like we're all in on some huge, important secret, it's cold and everyone is like 25. Ahh, I miss the old days. I never had any ambition, I should have been in the writer's offices all along, developing skills, making important contacts, shaping the stories, growing my writing career.

But the SET, man, the set had all the love, drama, action. There's a large group of undulating people, the guys are so cute big and strong, there's laughter and things are happening and changing in moments. And there's craft service, huge amounts of snack food that keeps refililng magically. I was always more flirt than work, I spent a great many years making sure my flirt skills were highly honed. In fact, they're now sadly lacking, rusting, broken off in places. I've had to vacuum seal them and place them in a gold box in my garage rafters. I keep them up there couched between my sighs and longing.

I had alot of fun on the set in my 20's. Let's just say that. And what good would a few writing contacts do me now, I've spent 11 years wiping vomit off my shirt, pulling up tiny pants and breaking up fights. The set wasn't all that different, actually. So I'm better prepared.

Anyway, the little crew and the big dark stage made me wry. Wry me? Just kidding. The tribe of a set, those drumbeats, you can still hear them, even when they basically took me nowhere. My dad, he flew straight through like an arrow. He knew he wanted to be over there, in charge. Me, I just wanted to smell every flower.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Towel Wonderland

After I don't know, 400 years, I decided to buy new towels. On Ebay. Huge towels, like you could circle the Earth in these towels, and still have some leftover for Jupiter or Uranus. Heh heh. At least that's what they said. And they're soft.

So I get them and yeah they're big, but more like Mercury big. And they're soft, but more like cheese shredder soft.

But I love these towels because they are fresh new faces in our bathroom and at our pool, and they don't mind if you wrap them around your freezing, wet body. They encourage it, in fact. It's what they do.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Don't Hold In Your Grunties

Been having this weird fight with my boarder-girl who keeps her animals at our house. She's been here 2 years, she's been really great, and then one day I suddenly can't take it anymore, all the chaining up of the fences, she overprotects her goats, and then suddenly we're in this fight through texting and I'm telling her to find another barn where someone might actually like goats. So then I feel terrible for like a week because she decides okay, I'll leave. And I didn't want her to leave, really, I wanted her to stop chaining every door.

At the same time, for months (inside the house drama) I'm battling Lilly the 3 year old because she holds in her poop. I gave her every high fiber thing in the world, finally had to use Miralax which is definitely true to it's name. Had to like rebuild her poop psyche to get her to realize that letting go is a good thing. Things are flowing like, well, logs now. Lately. So far.

And after weeks I finally TALKED to the boarder girl, now that she's leaving in five days, and said, hey, I was only kidding. I just got frustrated. Sorry I took it out on you. Wish I was a better communicator. No one should hand me a texting thing again. At night. When I'm sick, and tired. I text anger. Apparently. I need an anger detexter.

Just kept thinking of Will, my dead ex husband. How he said as a kid his mom would tell him, in a singsong voice, "Don't hold in your grunties," when he didn't want to poop.

I coulda used that advice. And here the 3 year old is so good at it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Down Under

An old friend of mine tracked me down from high school. She was the foreign exchange student from Australis, wild and fun. Haven't talked to her in 20 yrs. She said we saw each other in London last - ohhh yeah, god, did I see her there? She had just gotten off a cruise ship where she'd been a chef and I was in Europe with my tall lanky ex-boyfriend. We met at a bar/restaurant/cafe and when he went to the bathroom I told her I was in love with two other people, a boy and a girl. I was 25. She was more interested in the boy in the bathroom - what was wrong with this one, the one right under your nose? He was a beautiful boy. I never really wanted the one right under my nose.

So 20 yrs, I had to try and rethink - did she know me before my dead ex-husband? Where was I living, what was I doing? Why did I map my life by my love affairs? While she was trekking around Zimbabwe with no electricity and using words like bloke and safari, I was living in a tiny house on a huge river in Maryland. While she was having a baby in Perth, I was in LA working on horror movies and meeting my husband. Now she's in Canada teaching art and theater to kids at her kids' school, and I'll be teaching playwriting to kids at MY kids' school. Hmm.

I never really organized my life, I better do that, huh. I just sort of followed its crazy path. And now with three kids running around, I just look for moments in the day where I can breathe, and see an ocean of silence. I am lost in it, committed. These are the busy years. I guess up there in Canade, she's breathing in a breath of cold air and doing the same thing.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Chickens are the New Crack

Can't stop buying chickens. They cost like 2 bucks. They fit in your pocket. They're fluffy. If you could coat them in chocolate, I might marry them.

My hands are all torn up from building the chicken house. It was just an old shed out on the corner of the property, cobwebby, hidden by branches, ignored. Nathan and I went in and chop chopped, then Nathan wandered off and it was just me, for the last few weeks, just chopping, shredding my hands, making piles of mean thorny branches, adding sawdust and then, just like in The Secret Garden, my bit of land is so - tranquil. Clean. Serene.

Chickens were laying eggs in there while Moose and I sat on the diving board of the pool and let the sun soak into us for a second today - glorious sun in February, no small feat. And standing in that shed with her, watching the chickens, it's funny how a place that meant nothing is now a place that is someplace, had a purpose. Is full of life. You can stand in it and feel it's worth.

During the day after I serve people food and clean up and play and work, I head out there to just stand and look at the chickens and give them a handful of food or pick up a stray throny branch. Because it's quiet out there, and there's peeping.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Thoughts on Jane

I've been spending time with the Miss Dashwoods, reading Sense and Sensibility. The woman sat writing her stories in freezing England, well-read, well educated, loved by her family, hilarious, biting, and apparently not all that attractive. (Hence all the writing.) I know she was creating the world as she wanted to see it. Building relationships and dashing them, enjoying and wielding the power of the writer. Entertaining herself, because all the books she read were so boring. Depth, insight and power.

Anyway. Writing gives hope for other writing.