Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Storm Zombies

       Here we are at the end of October already. Where did the summer go? How did September fly by so quickly? All pointless questions at this stage of the game. It's over. There will be no nice weather until possibly April, if we're lucky, but more likely it'll be May.  The sky is set in perma-grey mode, about as cheerless a color as one can find in nature. Sure the leaves are all beautiful shades of orange, yellow and rust, but their days are numbered, especially with the advent of the Frankenstorm looming on the horizon.  If you haven't heard about this storm you are either stupid, have no access to media of any kind, or you don't speak english. I've never seen so many giddy meteorologists struggle to hide their mirth as they describe what the east coast is about to endure next week.  Of course, they don't want to sound like they're happy about this storm since it has potential to destroy, destruct, maim and kill, but the magnitude of the weather system has them all freaking out, like toddlers jacked up on gummy bears and Red Bull.

  I'm not really sure how hard we'll get hit in Millbrook. By the looks of things thus far, we'll get a lot of rain and high winds. Power will most likely go out and trees will fall across roads. Jonathan made a prudent point this morning that we'd better stock up the vodka in case power goes out for more than a couple of days. He's super thoughtful like that. We just came back from the grocery store, and the place was a total mob scene. Actually, all the stores in Millbrook are teeming with people that we have nicknamed, "The Storm Zombies".

"Must buy milk, bread and water!''

"Flashlights, batteries and candles!"

"Propane, kerosene, gasoline!"

   The Storm Zombies clog the aisles, shuffling along on their big, slow feet, arms outstretched as they grab at items to fling in their shopping carts. Buzzing conversations can be heard all around the stores. "Are you ready for this?"  "It's going to be a devastating storm, are you prepared?" "They say it might last for days!!!"  "I hope it won't be as bad as is predicted!"

  With the timing of the storm landing directly on Halloween, the children are all teary eyed and whiny that Trick or Treat night will be cancelled for the second year in a row. Last year's massive blizzard obliterated Trick or Treat in many areas, and the kids are bitter and shaken that it might happen again. Some parents have ganged up on town officials and lobbied for Trick or Treat night to be moved to Sunday, pre-empting Armageddon.  Good thinking, there. The end of the world might be just around the corner, so let's give the kiddies a parting memory of childhood glee so when the house blows down around them they can shove a final tootsie roll in their mouths and say, "Well, at least we had one last Trick or Treat night!"  Good heavens.

  It's hard to not get caught up in the hype of a major weather event, but it is a curious phenomenon to witness. People are taking this one very seriously, much more so than an ordinary snow storm, or hurricane prediction. This storm appears to be a triple threat, a dangerous hybrid cocktail of every type of horrible storm ingredient all mixed into one. A young man even gave us a flyer on "Storm Preparation" as we left the grocery store. It didn't tell us anything that we didn't already know, but I read it just in case there was one key pearl of wisdom that might keep us from floating into the Hudson when the Frankenstorm hits.  I really hope everyone stays safe, especially my friends and family who live on the coastlines.  So, lets all brace ourselves for a wild ride and pray that it doesn't cause too much damage, or take any lives, but according the the weather men we don't have a snowman's chance in Hell for getting around this one.

Good luck peeps and may the force be with you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Entertainment

   This summer has been nothing short of Cambodia hot in the northeast. Steamy, sticky, sweaty days, followed by oppressive nights, full of buzzing, biting insects and the constant whir of the ceiling fan, clicking in an endless circle as it attempts to disperse a feeble breeze over our sweaty foreheads.  We've always shunned air conditioning in our house, but I'm beginning to regret my holier than thou attitude towards artificially cooled air.
"No, we don't have an a/c" I've stated with inane pride, to the mortification of my more progressively minded (read: much smarter) friends. "It never really gets that hot in our house."
Well, I'm rueing those words now.  There have been some brief reprieves of the steady dose of hot temperatures. Usually, predicated by a biblical thunderstorm that shakes the foundation of the house, lightening bolts criss cross the sky and rain blows sideways, threatening to unmoor my well tended pots of flowers from the front porch. We even had a bout of hail stones this past week. I've become a slave to the radar map on my iPhone.
"Look at all the yellow and red spots coming toward us!" I shout to Jonathan, my voice cracking with excitement as if I'm the Goddess of Thunder storms and have created them with my own callused hands.  Jonathan has since banned me from giving reports at any less than a half hour interval. I still check the radar like a woman possessed, but I keep the info to myself and content my nerves by jumping up every five minutes to check the skies for dark clouds approaching.

   Due to our day job, which involves riding/training horses, it's just not possible to work them later than noon on these wretched humid days. The horses get ridden early in the morning and spend their afternoons in their stalls munching hay, with their box fans blowing on them. Thus, Jonathan and I have embarked on a new trend, where we head to the movie theatre for a matinee and spend a couple of mindless hours in chilly air, eating popcorn and sipping soda. Last Tues. was absolutely miserable so we cleaned up after a ridiculously sweaty morning and drove to Millerton Moviehouse to watch "To Rome with Love", Woody Allen's latest flick.  Since Millerton isn't exactly the hub of the universe the matinees are sparsely attended, and we settled into our seats in the nearly empty theatre. One couple in their sixties sat in front of us, grey haired and somber, no pre-show conversation needed at this stage of their relationship. The movie began and we all settled in for the preamble of character's that only Woody can produce. It required some attention to sort out each set of actors and how they would knit together to form the story.  Woody's movies are quirky and delightful, but if you don't pay attention you can easily miss a key line, or well placed innuendo. I was startled to hear the door open about a third of the way thru the movie. Who could be coming in this late in the game? They've missed so much already! How will they possibly catch up with the story? A doddering couple of octogenarian's came into view, hobbled down the aisle and plopped themselves into the second row directly in front of the screen. Oh boy. Now I was worried that they wouldn't be able to enjoy the movie. The characters were all established and the meat of the story was getting underway. Would they enjoy themselves? Would they get it?? Should I scoot down and give them a Cliff Note's version of what had happened till they came in?  I hid my anxiety by stuffing mouthfuls of popcorn into my mouth, but I kept half an eye on the elderly latecomers.  The movie is set in Rome and some of the characters were Italian, so subtitles were a part of the show. As soon as the words appeared on the screen, the female octogenarian began to read them aloud to her a very audible voice. The man leaned in to catch every word. I initially bristled, thinking that it was going to be totally annoying to listen to this woman's raspy voice reading along. We all know that it's bad form to talk out loud during a movie. This couple proved to be almost as entertaining as the movie itself. As soon as the woman would read a line, the man would erupt in laughter, then she would laugh. It was like a Woody Allen movie IN a Woody Allen movie! They tittered and carried on like teenagers, especially at the more racy scenes. It was hilarious!! When one of the female character's described her first lesbian encounter and how thunderous her orgasms were with a woman I was tense, wondering how it would be received by this older couple. Would they be prudish? Would they recoil? Ha! They laughed louder than the rest of us! My only wish was that Woody Allen himself could've been present to see how much fun these folks had watching his movie. I truly think he would've gotten as big a kick out of it as Jonathan and I did that afternoon. What a fabulous escape that movie proved to be and it taught me a lesson which was no matter how old we are, no matter how much we can't see, or hear, you never have to lose your sense of humor, or sense of self and just because you're old doesn't mean you don't love a good orgasm joke!  As Jonathan and I left the theatre and walked out into the burning summer heat, I smiled and hoped that one day we could be that couple, too.  And maybe we'll have a/c in our house by that stage of our lives.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Days on the Farm

     It's July 2nd and I want to put a stop/pause button on summer already.  We've been working on lots of projects here on the farm. One of my top projects has been monitoring the nest of barn swallows that sits atop what I believe is some sort of alarm box inside the entrance of the barn.  As the five babies grew it came to resemble a Keystone cop nest, with puffy chests and tail feathers brimming over the sides. I've taken such an interest in their progress that you'd think I'd hatched the little buggers myself. While doing chores I often take a moment to talk to the babies. At first they would shrink back at the sound of my voice (I don't think it was my breath), but eventually they got used to the crazy lady talking to them and just looked at me with solemn expressions.  Lately the babies have been flapping their tiny wings in preparation for the first flight. Yesterday marked the official fledgling launch day.  When I came down to feed there was one lone baby left in the nest.

 "What are you waiting for?" I asked the wee one. "Fly, already!"

 One of the parents swooped in and the lone baby opened its beak. He/She was rewarded with some fresh bugs and no competition from hungry siblings. Aha, smart kid! There is something to be said for being the last child.  As the afternoon wore on, one by one the babies returned to the nest, stuffing themselves into position. I congratulated them on their flying skills and they looked at me, with blank, solemn expressions. Baby birds aren't frivolous and goofy like other baby animals.  The barn swallow kids are a sober group. They don't cavort, or play with each other. They eat, they flap their wings, then one day...they take off. Still, despite their grave demeanors and lack of humor, I've really enjoyed this group, especially since none of them were nudged, or fell from the nest. Since they were so stuffed in ( the parents really scrimped on the size of this thing, talk about poor planning), I was sure one of them would crash to the concrete floor.  Chalk it up to good balance, or teamwork, these babies held fast and now they've graduated. This morning the nest was empty. I'm not sure if they'll be back this afternoon, but if not I'm a little sad the my baby bird reality show is over.  There is another nest at the opposing end of the barn, but the parental birds are total assholes. Unlike the first set of parents, who seemed to appreciate my attention to their kids, this set dive bombs anyone who comes near and if you try to look at the kids they buzz your face and give you a sense of what Tippi Hendren went through during the filming of "The Birds".  On Saturday afternoon while I was feeding the horses, my worst fears were realized.  I could hear intense yelling from the mother swallow, so I peered around the corner of the barn, full of trepidation.  There was a small form on the ground directly under the nest and it was moving a little.  Without taking any time to think, I upended a muck tub, scooped up the baby and in two seconds he was back in the nest.  Yay me!!! I saved a baby bird!!  I was rewarded by having the parent bird swoop past my nose, shrieking and flapping her wings like a deranged bat.  Staggering off the muck tub, I shook my fist at her and yelled, " You dumb bitch, I just saved your baby! You're not even a good mother, letting it fall out of the nest in the first place! I should report you! The other parents didn't let any of their kids have this kind of an accident! "

She responded by aggressively dive bombing me as I retreated down the barn aisle. Clearly, she has anger management issues and I pity those poor children.  If I don't get my eyes pecked out by this set of parents before this group makes their first flight it will be a miracle.

 What else have we been up to?

A.) Finishing projects. Jonathan had started 10 projects at once, leaving all of them unfinished and we were feeling defeated. So, we took the bull by the horns, spent a crapload of money at the hardware store and now we're checking them off the list, one by one. Very satisfying and the place is looking nicer by the day. We are sunburnt, covered in paint blotches and have blisters on our hands. It's a small sacrifice.

B.) Mowing and weed whacking. It rains, the grass grows, we mow, it looks nice for three-four days, rains, the grass grows, we mow...  You get the cycle.

C.) Riding, teaching and horse showing. Our season is in full swing and our students are all keeping us busy. I find show prize lists in my tack trunk, subtle hints of which shows they'd like to attend.  My young horse has been coming along so well. He's only four, so he's not on the fast track, but each day we make more progress and that is far more fun than any competition for me. Yesterday, we went on our first proper trail ride, with a solid trail partner to accompany us. No sooner did we get into the big open field when twin spotted fauns leapt across our path. Whee!!!  The mother deer did what mother deer do. She frickin' froze like a dipshit and didn't follow her kids. I've made the mistake of thinking that the deer have brains before, so I knew if we tried to proceed she would wait until we were directly in line with her and then run like a maniac right in front of us.  A quick about face and we made a nice loop, sans deer. Dan seemed to enjoy our walkabout, despite the fact that walking downhill required more balancing skills than he originally anticipated. After a few wobbly, sideways steps, he upped his game and figured it out.

D.) Enjoying every day for what it brings! I know thats super cheesy, but it's true. Having a great ride, saying hi to the small bunny who nibbles grass in the lane between the paddocks each day, painting jump poles in the broiling hot sun (sweating off calories is the bonus to that job), admiring Jonathan's carpenter handiwork, watching our pets lounge on our front porch amidst large pots of colorful flowers,  all good things.  And at the end of the day, a cold martini and a sense that we're doing exactly what we want to each day and we like it, fills my soul with a mid-life kind of mellow happiness.  Maybe the booze has something to do with the mellowness, but whatever, I'll take it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Pigeon Chronicles Part Two

        Jonathan walked into the house with the sleek, black Remington air rifle casually resting on his right shoulder.  My first question was presented in a panicky, shaky voice, "Is it loaded?"
"Of course, not", my husband aka Clint replied. He proceeded to show me the pellets, how to cock the barrel and how to load it. We put the rifle in a corner for a while as we went about our evening routine, which is sip cocktails, prepare dinner and if you're me, chat on the phone. At some point Jonathan asked me if I wanted to fire the gun, just to see what its like, he added. Being the fools that we are, on the very first day of being gun owners we broke the first rule of gun use: Do not drink and use firearms.  But don't worry, the only thing we shot was a plastic bottle that we set in a tree for target practice. I guess I shouldn't say we shot it, because my shots never even came close to the damn thing. I tried to blame my lack of ability to connect with the target on my bad eyesight, or the fact that I'm left handed, but the real truth is that I just suck at shooting stuff. It's okay, I'm fine with that role. That being said Jonathan became the designated pigeon assassin for JEM Stables. Game on!

   The next morning dawned brightly, with joyous, June sunshine and alabaster clouds pasted against a sky so blue it looked artificial. After feeding the horses I headed down to the indoor ring to move the jumps, because we were borrowing our landlords tractor so we could drag the ring. The pigeons were perched on the roof, cocking their heads back and forth as I walked down the hill.

"Prepare to die, mofo's!" I said in a cheerful tone. "There's a new sheriff in town and your days are numbered!"

  I whistled as I heaved the rails into the middle of the ring, pausing only when I heard the tractor approaching. There was Jonathan, driving the glossy, orange Kubota, with the rifle at rest on his shoulder. Wow. I never thought I'd see Jonathan driving a tractor, with a rifle in his hands. The whole picture provided amusing appeal, but there wasn't time to take his photo. His steely gaze showed me that he meant business this morning.  There was killing to do and he was the man who had to do it.  Once the jumps were piled high in the middle of the ring, I excused myself to go find other chores to do. I admit that I wanted the pigeon problem to end, but I didn't need to witness the end with my own eyes.

  Jonathan returned from the ring roughly 45 min. later and here is his brief account of what ensued after I left:

  "I shot one dead from the rafters. And I nicked the other one, but it flew off and won't let me get a good shot at it again."

 "You GOT one!!" I gushed. Holy crap, he GOT one!! I was so proud of Jonathan's new found skill, but then at the same time I was sad for the remaining bird. It was now a widow, or a widower. I saw it fly off, soaring high over the trees, heading away from the farm, presumably to prepare some sort of memorial service for its mate. Our hope was the it would stay away from the scene of the crime, but two days later we had another sighting of the pigeon on the roof. That afternoon two of our boarders told us the bird was in the ring and up to its old tricks of fluttering around, flying from perch to perch and generally behaving like an asshole.

   {Here's where I'd cue the Good, the Bad and the Ugly whistle sequence}

   With the rifle at his side, Jonathan walked down the dirt driveway toward the ring, his footsteps causing small clouds of dust to trail his lone figure in the early, dusky light.  Again, I stayed up at the house, anxiously awaiting his return, full of hope that this miserable saga of carnage would be over this night.

    When he arrived back in the kitchen, his face was grim. He nodded slowly and I knew he'd done the dirty deed.  Apparently, the bird had flown towards him and hit him in the head after he shot it. Vindictive s.o.b.  It was like the Jason of pigeons, minus a tiny hockey mask. Relief flooded through me that the pigeon punks were gone. We had our ring back from those feathered menaces. Our kingdom was once again safe for all horses and riders.  And my man looks totally badass with a rifle.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Pigeon Chronicles Part One

     Last week two very stubborn pigeons embarked on a quest to set up their home in our indoor arena. Whenever they were locked out of the ring, they would perch on the roof, waiting patiently for someone to open the doors so they could fly back in and roost.  If they had just sat quietly in the eaves, we might have been inclined to ignore them, but these two didn't want to share the space with horses and riders. They flew through the air, dive bombed the horses, and moaned excessively while up in the rafters. It was obnoxious,unacceptable behavior and despite our persistent efforts to shoo them out with longe whips the two birds kept coming back. We resorted to consulting several parties on the best method to remove them from the property.
  The first and easiest option was to buy a plastic bird of prey to "scare" the pigeons. Our local Tractor Supply had a rather handsome hawk, who struck my fancy, so $10 later I was a plastic hawk owner. Remy, our blue merle Aussie, really freaked when he saw the hawk.

"Look," I said to Jonathan. "Remy wants to get it!"

   I took that as an encouraging sign that this was a realistic replica and we might have a chance at scaring the pigeons off with his presence.  I perched him strategically on top of a jump standard in the middle of the doorway and walked back to the barn to watch the show. The show consisted of the two f'ing pigeons flying off the roof and zooming in directly over the hawk's enemy position. WTF?  I went down and moved the hawk to another threatening perch, but it was futile. The pigeons and the hawk were becoming friends, so we had to face plan b, which was; buy an air rifle.

  We'd seen some rifles at Tractor Supply so off we went again. Having zero experience with bb guns, pellet guns, real guns, etc. we really didn't know what we needed strength wise to knock off these birds. I picked up a Red Ryder model and some pellets and headed off to find a knowledgable employee who might be able to help. After a lengthy search, I found a female employee, with a full on mustache (she obviously shaved it, but had a five o'clock shadow and it was revolting and fascinating all at once) and when I told her of our pigeon plight she looked pensive for a moment, then regaled me with a totally nonsensical pigeon story of her own. I had a gentle smile affixed to my face while I pretended to listen to her, contemplating if she and her husband shared shaving products when suddenly a voice piped up from the neighboring aisle. Glancing over, I saw a slight, grubby man with a thick, bristly stubble over most of his face, wearing a dirty"Coors Light" baseball hat and he was missing his top front teeth and eye teeth, leaving him with a grungy jack o'lantern-esque expression.

"I kin tell you right now, that ain't a powerful enough gun to kill them pigeons, " he stated with the wise knowledge of a professional redneck.

 I shifted away from the useless mustachioed lady and walked over to 'ol Gappy, who seemed all too willing to weigh his opinion in our problem.

 "What size gun to you think we need?"

  He rattled off a bunch of numbers, psi, blah, blah, blah. I was more focused on his missing teeth and how it affected his speech than I was on the information, but the one thing I got from him was that the gun we needed wasn't available at Tractor Supply.

"You're gonna hafta go to Wal-Mart and they'll git you fixed up there," ol' Gappy said.

 I thanked him profusely and as I was walking away thought to myself, well, buying a gun at Wal-Mart certainly hasn't been an item on my bucket list.  Jonathan digested the information I'd gotten from my new friend and consulted his iPhone for information. He found the gun we needed was available at Dick's Sporting Goods, so after dropping me off at home he headed to Poughkeepsie, with one thing on his mind: the pigeons must die.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Fifteen Minutes of Fame

   Three weeks ago Jonathan and I drove to Dicks Sporting Goods and bought ourselves two new tennis rackets. We had consulted with a tennis fanatic friend prior to our purchases, and Jonathan did some research on the internet, including reading reviews on each style of racket. He knows all the fancy details, but to me we bought a yellow racket and a green one. The day we bought the rackets it was about a thousand degrees out with five thousand percent humidity, but Jonathan insisted that we stop at the local court to hit some balls.

"We have to try them out," he said. "Aren't you curious about how much better the rackets will be?"

  Truthfully, I wasn't. However, I didn't argue, because he had that happy kind of 10 year old boy who just got a new toy look on his face and his enthusiasm was genuinely cute in spite of the weather.

  Once we hit a few balls we realized that the new rackets were basically machine guns compared to our old rackets, which were like cap guns.  It was going to take a lot of practice to get used to the supreme power of these new beauties. Of course, we really suck at the game since we haven't played in something like fifteen years and we weren't all that good back then, but we seem to enjoy the physical torture and mental anguish that tennis provides for an out of shape body.  Jonathan was having trouble with his forehand. I had absolutely no backhand, because I'm ambidextrous and I used to just switch to my left hand when I saw a backhand ball coming. Clearly, we had a lot of work to do to polish up our rust encrusted game.  Within a half hour we were soaking wet, Jonathan's shoulder hurt and my ankle was bothering me so we called it quits for the day.  There had been glimmers of good shots, which buoyed our hopes that the rackets would help us play a more competitive game.

"Think of how good we'll be by the end of the summer," I said once we were back in the car with the a/c on hurricane mode.  "We just have to keep practicing!"

  Jonathan's enthusiasm had been drowned in the heat, but he managed a weak smile and murmured, "Uh huh,"

  Fast forward to yesterday, which was about our fourth, or fifth practice session. We would be playing more, but there's this pesky barn full of horses that we look after, plus people who ride the horses and need instruction and bug us to go to horse shows all the time. If it weren't for the fact that we have to earn a living, we'd be ready for Wimbledon by now. Anyway, we arrived at the court to find out that we've come during recess time for the school whose property abuts the courts.  Gaggles of children were running, swinging on swings, shrieking and generally having a fabulous end of the year romp.  This meant one thing to me...I was going to have to watch my language.  When I hit a bad shot, I curse. Never the same word either, I like to mix it up. I took a deep breath and focused on my substitute swears, like "sugar", "son of a biscuit", "dang it", you get the picture.

   For some reason on this day, Jonathan isn't getting his groove on. I watch his face go from concentrated focus, to murderous, ax killing demon. He doesn't swear while playing tennis, but I'm beginning to think he should, because the faces he makes are downright evil and I think holding in that anger is bad for his blood pressure. I'm hitting okay, a few very good forehands, and Jonathan helped me with my body position for the backhands, so I'm feeling pretty chuffed in general.

"Maybe you should try to relax a little, focus on a straight trajectory for the ball, think of the position of the face of the racket when you hit the ball," I offer to the ax killing demon across the court from me.

"What do you think I've been doing?" the demon explodes back.  I swear his head spun around on his shoulders.

  Okay, I've been to this movie with Jonathan before so I know to just be pleasant and he'll figure it out on his own. We're batting a few good volleys, back and forth, with occasional wayward hits, when I hear little voices chanting a name. I look over toward the school yard and there are three little girls in a row, and when they see me look toward them the volume increases, "Brittany!!!!!!", they scream. What? Are they yelling that name at me? Who the fuck is Brittany? I'm totally confused.

"That's not my name!" I bark toward them. It doesn't seem to register with these little girls. More little girls appear and now there are ten, or so little girls yelling, "Brittany!!!" at me.

I look at Jonathan, who shrugs, shakes his head and serves me a ball. How the hell can I be expected to concentrate with a flash mob of 8 year olds yelling "Brittany!!!" at me?  I manage to hit some good shots, actually the little crowd causes me to step up my game a bit. Nothing like the pressure of small schoolchildren watching you to make you up your ante.  I decide to ignore the kids and just keep playing. Any time I glance in their direction, they nearly swoon and scream louder. What in the living hell is going on here?  Is Brittany a popular babysitter in town?  These kids are too young to remember Brittany Spears before she had kids, went crazy and shaved her head. They couldn't think I was Brittany Spears anyway. I have brown hair and my thighs are slim, with scrawny calves. These kids were really starting to get on my nerves.

"Maybe we should stop. I'm getting tired," Jonathan said.
"No, let's hit a few more. Sometimes you hit your best shots when you're tired," I reply.
   In all honesty, the kids were freaking me out and I didn't want to have to leave the safety of the chain link enclosed court. Who knew what those half crazed little buggers might do? They might attack me, pull out my hair and steal my yellow racket.  Finally, the school bell signaled that recess was over and my wee fan club grudgingly headed back to the building, yelling a few half hearted, Brittany's over their small, slumped shoulders.  It almost made me feel badly. Maybe I should've handled the situation differently? Should I have waved back and said, "Hi Kids!! Yes, I'm the fabulous Brittany! Have an awesome day!!"?  They might've all died of instant little heart attacks. Instead, I played the part of an aloof, spoiled star. In fact, I freaking rocked that part, I could totally be famous and pull it off.  I WAS famous for a few minutes on that parched tennis court in the middle of the village of Millbrook.  Except it wasn't for playing tennis, it was for being "Brittany, iconic figure to little girls, but for what we have yet to determine".  

"Let's go honey," I said to Jonathan. "Brittany's tired and needs a drink."  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy JUNE!!!

   It's June! I've always loved this month, and my love affair with it started when I was a little kid. In my home town of Hampton Falls, NH, we had two important town functions that occurred in June which were run by the volunteer fire department. They consisted of a very special fair and a horse show. The first Saturday in June was the annual Village Green Fair. I LOVED the fair and I looked forward to it all year long. For me it was like a second Christmas, except the weather usually called for shorts and a tank top instead of a down jacket and knit cap.  The fair was held on the town common, a swath of land in the middle of town which had a tall obelisque monument surrounded by a granite border, with old cannons and piles of cannon balls at four corners.  The common is still there in all of its glory, in case you're curious. The Fair had a used book table, bric-a-brac table ( never really spent much time there so not sure exactly what bric-a-brac consists of...what an olde term!), rummage sale (lots of old, cool clothes), an art sale, an auction of old furniture, and whatever else the townsfolk wanted to sell,  a dunking tank (fun to watch, but not fun to be on the plank with random people throwing a ball at an ancient arm to attempt to dunk you in the murky water that the fireman pumped into a rusty metal tank that was coated with yards of poly paper the night before the fair), a frog jumping contest (run by my dad, yeah he was the presiding judge of frog jumps and he rocked that role for years),  hamburgers and hotdogs offered at the lunch table, and last, but not least, PONY RIDES! The year I was 9 yrs. old I took so many pony rides that the pony ride people started letting me take the ride by myself. I was a gold star customer! It was heaven for a horse crazy kid. Teeny Shetland ponies, clad in stiff western tack, cranky little cusses, but willing to take a kid like me for a stroll down the lawn and back equalled heaven to me. I think I spent a total of 8 dollars that day. It was a quarter per ride. Ahh, those were the days. My mom was working the rummage sale during the fair and she happily doled out quarters to her horse crazy daughter, oblivious of what kind of demonic equine love she created with each coin she sent my way. I know she doesn't regret it and neither do I. The Fair. Such golden memories. I can still feel the tingle of waking up on the morning of the Fair!!

   My second special June memory was the Hampton Falls Fire Department Horse Show. I believe it was held the weekend after the fair. My first memory of the show was when it was held just down the street from where I grew up. I would grab a bowl of Life cereal and perch on the rock at the end of my road by 7 a.m. to watch the horse trailers roll by on their way to the show grounds.  It was thrilling to watch the 70's trailers which were unique, often homeade jobs, cruise by me. Rickety rigs, pulled by station wagons, or old pick ups.  I would spend the day surrounded by quarter horses, appaloosas, morgans and arabians, smelling their fragrance, eating dust and watching the riders in their English and Western finery. Snow fencing created the "ring". It was a plain, old open field all year long, but during the show it was a place where horses were shown! Shown! I loved it! The Indian paintbrush flowers that grew there were beaten down during the show and there wasn't any special footing. But this was horse show! I knew it was part of me. And one day it I would be a rider. The show eventually moved to a more suitable venue in town, with a proper ring. Thanks to my fabulous parents, I ended up owning a horse that I showed in this special home town horse show a few years later. His name was Believer's Ten and he was a bay Quarter horse gelding that we'd purchased from good friends, the Titcomb family. We bought Ten as a 3 yr. old and god bless him, he was a good boy. I practiced and practiced on that horse, between bareback trail rides and lessons, we grew as a team. In 1985 we won the Hampton Falls Volunteer Fire Department Local Pleasure Perpetual Trophy.  Wow! It was such a great day! I have pictures of me smiling on that horse's back, so filled with the love of riding, my horse, my family and the town that I grew up in.  It was such a wonderful day. I remember it like yesterday.  I feel so blessed that I grew up in a rural town, with parents who cared and such special traditions. They all meant the world to me when I was a kid ( and to this day!) and I know that's why I feel so strongly about the month of June.  Happy June to all!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A thorn in my...foot

    Let me preface this post by saying I never walk around my house without shoes, or slippers on my feet. It's just too hazardous with all of our pets. I could encounter mouse guts, mole guts, bird beaks, burs, or other random flotsam on the floors. I vacuum, like a demon, but despite my best efforts there is always SOMETHING potentially dangerous in my home. I don't ever want to step on something squishy, or prickly, or thorny. My feet are tender. Always have been. My older sisters grew up running round with no shoes,  tough, grubby soles, impervious to anything. They could walk on nail boards and be fine. Me? Not so. I have tender, small, flat feet. Whenever I walked barefooted as a child,  I used to stub my big toes on a regular basis, much to my big sisters delight. They would regale me with stories of Bloody Mary, who left trails of blood, wherever she walked due to her bleeding big toes. They even conjured up a song, "Blooddyyy Marrrryy!, Bloooddyy Maaarry!" It scared the bejesus out of me!  I think they made it up just to spook their bratty little sister, but it left scars and not only on my toes! I have delicate, geisha feet, and way too small for my height. I'm tippy on a mere size 7 1/2. I'm 5'8, for heaven's sake. I should rock a good size 8, or bigger. It's a burden.
  When I got up this morning I felt a slight pain on the outside of my right heel. Nothing horrible, but it hurt, nonetheless. I ignored it for the first hour, but when I began moving around to make another tea it got worse.

"What was it?" I asked myself.  It was time to go to the bathroom and investigate.

I got a pair of needle like tweezers and sat down for a good look. I sat on the bathroom rug and bent my leg backwards so I could see my heel. Ouch. I'm not made to be very "bendy".  My knee screamed, but I kept the angle and noticed what looked like a splinter in my heel. A very small, painful splinter. I told myself if I worked fast I could get it out, so I dug, and I dug. It HURT! And my knee joint began to pulse. Two of my cats came in to give me support (read:get in the way), but I couldn't get it. Gah! I had to get up and relieve the ache in my knee joint. Again, I told myself that yoga would be a good thing to add to my weekly routine. I hobbled to the shower thinking the hot water would help extricate the invasive splinter, you know, soften up the traumatized area. It seemed reasonable at the time.

  After my shower, I went into my bedroom, full of hope that I could get this wicked piece of HELL out of my foot. I stood by the doorway of my closet, in full sunlight and bent my leg up so I could get a good look and get the dang thing out, once and for all. There it was! It was small, but surely the source of pain. I dug the tweezers in, digging and digging. No dice. No DICE! NO DICE! Crap. Now my left hip was killing me from standing on one leg. When the pain became intolerable, I gave up. Whatever. I have a little, tiny splinter in my foot. No idea how it got there. No way of getting it out without causing extreme physical harm. I'm screwed. I got dressed and figured it was just a small splinter, carry on with the day. I had bigger fish to fry.

  Well, now it hurts a lot. I think I have to ask for Jonathan to help me with my "situation". The only problem is that I have extremely sensitive feet. When I was in my early 20's, I dated a guy who was hell bent on getting me over my ridiculous foot sensitivity. Why? Well, he was a psycho. I ended up kung-fu kicking him in the face.  We broke up soon after that incident. I've never had a pedicure due to my extremely sensitive feet. I feel deprived, yet happy that I've only kung-fu kicked one person in the face in my life.

  On that note, I'm going to steel myself and ask Jonathan to get the tweezers and extricate this splinter, once and for all. I promise I won't kick him in the face. I won't! I'll kick to the side if I start freaking out. I'm pretty sure I can do that in the heat of the moment.  Pretty sure...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Part III Won't you be my neighbor?

    It's safe to say the initial few months on our current property were rife with rocky moments.  The new barn was going well, customers were happy, the horses loved it here, we loved it here, the cats loved it here and our dogs really loved it here, because they instantly turned into wild savages. Don't let the above picture fool you, because they became uncontrollable killers of woodchucks, our distant neighbor's chicken colony (that was awful!!) and Remy bit a fist sized hole into the flank of the neighbor's black lab, during a play episode that got too rough. The neighbor's seemed cool about their dog's wounding and I volunteered to pay all the vet bills, but the animosity started that day.  We immediately installed Invisible Fence to keep our dogs on our property, safely away from the neighbor's yard (and the chicken coop), but from that day forward, I sensed the neighbor's palpable irritation with our presence on the property.  And two years later, it hasn't gotten any better.

  To get to their home,  our neighbors have to drive by our house and barn.  The matriarch of the family wears the pants. She's a pudgy, balding woman (might explain some of her anger), mother to three very polite kids, wife to the barn manager, Jorge and iron fisted ruler of her domain, would best describe her. She's Mexican, doesn't speak much english and she hates us.  HATES us. If her glares could kill us, we'd be dead a thousand times over.  I always dutifully wave to her when she drives by, but I avert my eyes. Who wants to look into the beady eyes of death every day? It gets boring. I get it. You've killed me, Mommy. I'm dead. Anything else?

Here's me when she drives by: "Okay, angry bald woman, hello! Goodbye! Screw you!" I wave.  And I shake my long, luxurious, brown locks. Take that, bald bitch. It might be childish on my part, but she's a miserable puta, and I use what I can to tell her to shove it up her arse.

  We've had some minor issues with the dogs, since the flank biting incident. All have ended peacefully. The dogs have learned to get along. The Lab is dumb, but he figured it out. Don't play too roughly and no one gets bitten. They cavort in a peaceful manner. I actually like the lab, but he doesn't speak english and my rudimentary high school spanish doesn't seem to work with him.

"Vamanos!" I tell the lab when I want him to go home. "Tu necesitas a ir a tu casa!" My high school spanish doesn't seem to hit home. It's too formal. He gives me cold looks, not much different than Mommy. I stare into his beady, brown eyes and hiss, "Go home, diablo!" This elicits big barks, but he exits, tail between his black haunches. Ha ha, victory, Diablo.

  However, the black lab devil has become increasingly interested in my cats. I sense malevolence. This is no bueno. I don't think he'd hurt them, but I can't take any chances. One day a few weeks ago, the lab was at my steps, looming over my senior citizen cat, Miss Girl. He barked. She shrank. I pounced. I ran at him with a broom in my hand and yelled," Get out!"  Now, I should know by now the damn dog doesn't speak english, but the moment was hot! I was worried for Miss Girl. She's my most precious kitty and she's deaf, old and virtually defenseless. Well, the big, balding Mommy saw this incident and now I've become the "Diabla' of the property.

  Frankly, even I have become bored with this role. I'm no Diabla.  I had a recent  confrontation with Mommy about keeping an eye on her dog so he doesn't endanger my cats. And I held my cool. She wanted to fight, but I refused. It's just not my nature. I told Mommy that I was worried about my cats, they mean so much to me and after all, (rubbing my stomach, emphatically) "I can't have children, my animals are my children," I implored.

Aahhh, Mommy melted. I hit the Latino Mommy jackpot with that statement. I think I won a Latino Emmy award. Familia es muy importante.

Things have improved over the last few weeks. The lab seems to be under control.   Mommy has been grudgingly waving. It's a tight, clipped wave, but whatever. She's fat and bald, I get it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Part Deux

   After the pot pipe debacle, I became acutely aware of how much noise we were making in our tiny second floor apartment. This became a nightly dispute between Jonathan and me:

"Jonathan! Don't walk across the room so loudly! Softer footsteps! Think of Sally," I'd whisper.

My admonishments were met with long stares, rolling eyes, followed by an "Oh boy," and several more stomping steps. Jonathan doesn't take well to "rules". He's a rebel. Always has been, always will be.  Part of his charm.  And I love this about him. Bad boys are cool to chicks, you know?
Sally began to retaliate to any noise we made by banging a broomstick on her ceiling. We'd be making dinner in the kitchen. Boom boom boom. Taking a shower. Boom boom boom. Cavorting cats, frolicking across the living room floor. Boom boom boom. It was getting intolerable for all of us.  Plus, it had to be damaging her primary form of transportation.

  The final coup de gras occurred when one night we came home to a message on our answering machine from Sally which said, "If you don't do something about those CATS running around in the middle of the night, I WILL!" Click.

  Well, that was just it for me. Nobody messes with my cats. Nobody. They are my children, I love them with all of my heart and they NEVER do anything wrong. You don't threaten their lives, Motherf-er!  I stomped down the stairwell, marched to her door, knocked and yelled, "Sally!"  I paused, hearing quiet murmurings and soft shuffles. The lights went out in her apartment. Typical of a bully. Totally passive aggressive behavior. I believe she knew that she'd gone too far, but the damage was done. I knew this situation wasn't going to work. So, a month later we moved out. Through clenched teeth, I even wished Sally well as we left.  I hope she's not sad, alone, in pain and morbidly obese these days, but if she is...oh well, karma is a bitch and so was Sally.

 Our next few homes had no neighbors. A perfect situation for us. However, two years ago we decided to rent a small farm in Millbrook, NY. The property is beautiful, and we live in a cottage, with a lovely small barn, paddocks and indoor ring to run our business. A virtual shangri-la.  Except, the property manager lives on our property, with his wife and kids.  Their house is next to our cottage and they have a dog. A very boisterous, young black Labrador.  To be continued...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mr. Rogers is a lying sack...

  Jonathan and I have been together for 23 years, with a minor hiccup in the beginning of our relationship when I decided to take a job in Arizona and give his 20 year old butt some "space".  The 3000 miles of "space" ended up in a lot of pricey phone bills, him visiting me in AZ for 2 weeks (which turned into 6 weeks) and my eventual move back to the east coast to live with him. Phew. It turned into a freaking fairy tale. Now onto the meaning of this particular blog.

  We've lived in a total of 6 houses since declaring our love for one another. My sister once told me that she'd run out of room in her address book to keep up with our new abodes. It's true. We've bounced around. Most of our rented homes had no neighbors, which was fabulous. Turns out, despite the fact that we aren't wild party animals, or nudists, or angry, difficult people, we don't do well with close neighbors.

   Our first run in with a crabby neighbor was at our second home together. It was in an older house, chopped up into apartments, and we lived on the second floor, with our two cats. When we moved in we assured our downstairs neighbor that we were quiet tenants, who ran a horse farm, went to bed early and made little noise. Turns out, in her opinion, we lied. Sally was an overweight single mom, with sad eyes, premature arthritis (she told me about her condition the first time we met her) and a totally negative attitude. She lived with her 8 year old little girl, who was cute, sweet and under the thumb of her teutonic mommy.  On our first night at our new apartment, we had two friends over for a quiet dinner, accompanied by some "gentle" music. The following morning I was awoken by furious pounding on our door. It was Sally and she was furious.

"You SAID you were quiet people!" she yelled in my face. "And yet, you were up listening to music and banging around until 10:30 p.m.!"

I was stunned, humble and apologetic, but she stormed off on her stubby, chubby, achey legs, muttering about how I was a liar.

Fast forward to a few weeks...

   On a serene, summer night, I received an angry call from Sally saying, "I've found something that belongs to YOU!"

With trepidation, I went downstairs and knocked on her door. I was met by an irate Sally, who was holding a large, padded patchwork bag that contained an ornate glass pipe.

"Is this yours?" she sputtered, shaking the bag in my face.
"Uhh, no. I think it belongs to a friend. It must've fallen out of his car when he left last night, " I replied.
"It's a glass MARIJUANA pipe that my little girl found in the driveway!" she screamed. "She's 8 and she found a MARIJUANA pipe in our driveway!"

Crap. I cursed the friend, who dropped it and proceeded onto damage control.

"Oh Sally, I'm so sorry," I said. "But it was an accident. The guy who owns this is a chef, they all do drugs. They're bad people. We'll never have him over again!"

Baffled by my diplomatic approach, she softened ever so slightly and almost smiled. Reading her body language, I ventured on.

"Have you ever smoked pot? It might be helpful with your painful, arthritic condition? I've heard it can be very therapeutic and perhaps, even assist with your insomnia?"

She narrowed her pig eyes, and gave a little laugh.

"I'm always in pain," she said. "And I have so much trouble sleeping."

I thought I was golden. I was wrong. Her mean, nasty nature took over and she said, "Don't ever let something like this happen again. And by the way, I'm sick of hearing your cats running around at all hours of the night!"

She thrust the padded bag in my face and slammed the door. Wow. I walked back upstairs and told Jonathan that I thought we'd made a mistake by moving to this place.  He reminded me that it had been my idea to move to this apartment, so it was up to me to make it all fine.   To be continued...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Oh Sh*t!!

   This morning I awoke to a strange sound coming from the street. As I shook off the grogginess that I endure every morning, due to my nightly Bendadryl dependence from crippling allergies this year, I deduced that the sound was a truck. A big truck. Oh!! It was the rolloff truck that I'd ordered last Thurs. to come pick up the manure dumpster for the farm. And I had neglected to move the Chevy Tahoe that was parked in the driveway, blocking the path to the dumpster. Ordinarily, I'd get dressed and leisurely feed the throng of screaming pets before I lolled my way to the barn to feed the horses. Today was different. Let me explain something further, the man who drives the rolloff truck (I'll call him Bud), is a short, brick of a person, with arms like Popeye, no neck and a big, blocky head,  who I've been told has anger management issues. Picture a tiny version of The Incredible Hulk, minus the shredded clothes and green skin. For the two years we've been here, I've been terrified of sparking his ire. He's never been rude, nor has he ever really shown me his temper, but it's fully palpable in his demeanor. He's like a volcano, silently simmering underground, with the constant threat of blowing lava all the way up to the sun. I had to act fast.  I threw on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and skidded through the furry bodies of my pets to the bathroom, where with shaking hands I coerced my contacts into my half opened eyeballs. Of course, one contact had to give me trouble and I cursed at the folding, flaccid lens, frantically trying to probe it into a shape that would attach to my eye. Contact don't do frantic. They respond only to gentle cooing, re-wetting and steady hands. With some effort, I controlled my emotions and somehow got the damn thing to adhere so I had some semblance of vision before I galloped down the path to the barn.

    My first stop was to get the keys from the tack box, where they'd been stowed for safe keeping. The Tahoe isn't always here, but since one of our customers goes on frequent vacations, she kindly allows us to use it when she's away should we need to hook it to her trailer in an emergency, or just to go on a field trip with the horses. Keys in hand,  I ran out of the barn, like a Kenyan marathon runner and jumped into the driver's seat, just as Bud was spotted, stalking around the corner of the rolloff truck, arms stiffly at his side, hands clenched in fists of pure iron.  Meekly, I waved and he looked at the ground ( I think he was counting to ten, no doubt a tactic he's learned over his anger riddled years to keep himself from losing his shit and committing unwarranted murders). The new dumpster was already dropped into place in the driveway, blocking me from getting the Tahoe onto the other side of the barn, but I quickly maneuvered the SUV over toward the stable and safely out of the way. Bud gave me a terse wave and with some effort barked, "That's good".  He was still looking at the ground.
   I sat in the driver's seat for a moment, adrenaline coursing through my newly woken up body, absorbing the fact that I'd come within seconds of certain death.  Crisis had been averted. A narrow escape. I would live to see another day. Of course, I'm exaggerating, but it makes for a better story. Humor me.

  Once our month worth of horse shit had been hauled off, and the horses had been fed, I headed back up to the house to feed the wailing pets, make some tea and prepare to waste an hour on Facebook (it's my day off, not my normal practice. Again, humor me). As I settled into my desk chair, steaming cuppa tea in hand, I noticed that the answering machine was blinking. When I pressed play I heard  breathing. Labored, intense breathing. Angry breathing. I checked the caller ID and it was Bud's number. Apparently, he'd been calling the house number just as I'd arrived to move the truck. I can only imagine what the message might have said if I'd been 20 seconds later. It would've been delivered through clenched teeth, in a high strained voice, with veins pulsing in unprecedented rage. I'm almost sad that I missed it. But then again, I'm not. Bud the rolloff driver is a force to be reckoned with, he's a bad hombre. When you run a stable with a manure dumpster, you don't mess with the irritable man who takes the shit brimming dumpster away.  It's just bad form. Horseshit is a fact of our lives here and trust me, you do not want to piss off our rolloff truck driver, who hauls it away. I dodged a bullet, people. It was a good day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ballad of a Sad Tree

Sing along to the tune of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"

Don't cry for me Weeping Cherry
The truth is we're tired of your sorrow
If you'd just cheer up
Life's not that bad
We'd like you better
If you weren't so saaaddd...

  This is our gigantic Weeping Cherry. He's the biggest, baddest, weepiest Weeping Cherry in the land. It's his time to shine on the property, with those lacy pink petals, delicately waving in the spring breeze, taunting the bare trees with his splendor. As beautiful as the tree is at the moment, the harsh reality is that when those pink petals are shed, like the tears of a spurned lover, he turns back into an ordinary tree, with green (how unoriginal) leaves.  The name is obvious if you've ever had one of these tree's on your property. Once the tree is past it's prime the sweet pink petals drop in a confetti-esque fashion. Every time I walk down to the barn it's like I'm being lauded in my own personal parade. I pause, I wave and I thank the little people. The dogs have pink petals in their hair to go along with the various dead leaves, bits of shrubbery, and burs. My floor is decorated with precious pink petals, so it's always got that "day after the party" messy look going on, despite my best efforts with the Dyson. So you get it, the petals are a metaphor for tears, the tears of a sobbing, inconsolable idiot. Oh, poor, crying tree. Boo-hoo, I feel so sorry for you. Sometimes I feel like kicking his trunk and telling him to get over himself. But I don't, because it's a tree.  I wouldn't kick a tree! I just FEEL like it sometimes. Like when you feel like telling an obnoxious person at the grocery store to "Shut the F up!", but you don't actually say it out loud, because that would be impolite and they might hit you.

Soon the other trees will have their leaves. I'm looking forward to the stately oak outside my office getting his leaves on. I'm tired of these naked trees. It's obscene looking at them with their spindly, exposed limbs and grooved trunks. I'm surrounded by tree porn, save for the Norwegian pines in the front of the property, who sway to and fro in the constant breezes, as if shaking their heads in shame for the naked hardwoods. Well, at least the Little Pink Prince has on his fancy frock of frilly petals, until he completes his teary striptease.  Have you ever thought of trees as natures version of a group of raunchy strippers? Me either, till now. I'm glad I can blog about these meaningful, deep thoughts.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Writing Angst

I've been in the midst of taking an online fiction writing class which has thoroughly taken up all of my writing energy, hence my absence on my blog. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. But, really it's true. I've come to a few conclusions about writing conditions, well,  productive writing conditions, or better put, writing conditions that actually produce decent writing (if that's possible in my case). Fiction writing is tricky business. Sure, I can blog any old, bloggy nonsense, pepper it with a few simple stories about my animals, insert some curse words, hit send and I'm done. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Whatever that means. I don't know what it means, but I like to say it and I do. Often.  Fiction writing entails imagination, characters, plot, point of view and that's all I have to offer since I'm only in week 4 of the class.  It's wicked hard!!

  That being said, I've decided that it's easier to write with a cat on my lap. I'm less inclined to randomly jump up to find something to do other than force my brain to squeeze out a word, character, or sentence that is stubbornly eluding me. I really don't like to disturb a sleeping kitty.  Miss Girl and Mia are only  too willing to help me in my writing endeavors. Bless those sweet, furry bodies. Without them I'd be stuck at "The..."

Also, I shouldn't have my iPhone near me while I'm writing. The beeps, rings and trills are a constant distraction. It doesn't help that I'm more than willing to stop writing and attend to my phone's "needs". The iPhone needs to hang out on silent mode. It equals punishing silence.

 Another thing I've learned is that I shouldn't be allowed to have a cherry chapstick on my desk. Whenever I hit a sticky point in a story (which is ALWAYS), I apply another layer. Let's just say that my lips won't be chapped until 2052 at this point. I end up with the most slathered lips in the history of lips after a writing session. I repeatedly pick up that tube and anoint away with reckless abandon.  I look like I've had collagen injections after a mere hour of writing attempts.

And, as much as I love Facebook, with the constant posting of friends and family,  near and far, the internet is the biggest foil to my writing pursuits. Just say no to logging on for "a minute". It's never a minute. More like an hour and then it's time to get to real work ie: my job as a horse trainer. Not sigh because I don't like my job, but it means I've screwed myself on the hours I've preserved for writing. They're precious, like semi-precious gems. Think cubic zurconium. Or gumball machine rings. 

Just know that I'm trying to write fiction. Anything, anything at all. The class is fabulous and I'm enjoying it. It's testing all of my mental faculties and I feel like I'm getting my money's worth out it. Will it provide another career? Will I end up a fabulously successful writer?  Will I get past the first sentence of a story that I think I can share?  Time will tell. But there's no pressure. No pressure. Pressure to a writer, even the most newbie writer EVER is the equivalent of kryptonite to Superman. Know this.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What is up with this song?    Since I'm a computer idiot I can't quite figure out how to attach this link, but maybe it can copied and pasted? It's an old version of Rhinestone Cowboy, by Glenn Campbell, complete with lyrics.  I feel it's only fair to warn you that once you listen to this song it will be embedded in your brain. For days on end.  Possibly forever. I have Glenn Campbell's Grammy award show performance to thank for doing this to me. I thought that if I watched it on Youtube and really belted out the lyrics that it might help exorcise it from my brain. I was wrong. It's now stronger than ever. I've even got Jonathan singing it. We've been possessed by this song. I fear we shall both go mad. Now that I know the lyrics I can't believe that it was such a hit in its day. They're awful. And Glenn's hair in the video is equally as disturbing.  I might need shock therapy. Or very strong medication. Or both.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Of Mice and (Wo)Men

     During the winter season my cats choose to stay inside away from biting winds and frosty fields. They loll around on our furniture, scratch the couch, chase one another, meow for no reason whatsoever and grow fatter. Big Zekie has recently developed an insatiable curiosity with the closet that houses our stacked washer/dryer unit. About five, or six times a day he feels the urge to walk into the bathroom, paw open the closet door (which creaks like a prop in a haunted house), meow a few times, peer intently into the dark recesses of the closet and then waddle away. I have no idea why he does this. Cats are messed up animals. The good thing about their winter schedule for me is that I don't have to deal with the plethora of animals that they bring into the house during the other three seasons. No scurrying chipmunks, no panicking birds fluttering their wings helplessly against the ceiling and windows and best of all, no carcasses.
    The other night I was making a 3 a.m. trip to the loo and out of the corner of my sleep filled, blurry eyeballs I saw a small brown mouse running across the floor.
  "Oh Buddy," I said. "You picked the wrong house to break into."  As if on cue, Mia came trotting into the bathroom causing the mouse to dart behind the toilet. I ran back to the safe haven of my bed, thinking may the force be with you, little mousie because I'm not in the mood for a search and rescue mission at this hour of the night.

 The next next morning I tip toed into the bathroom and saw no sign of the mouse, dead or otherwise. I supposed that maybe he'd gone out the way he came in, therefore escaping a certain deadly ending. As I passed through the doorway into the living room I saw the mouse sitting next to the book case, with Miss Girl sitting NEXT to him and Marbles eyeing him greedily from across the room.  The clock was ticking and I knew I had to act fast.  Grabbing a red Solo cup (thank you Toby Keith for forever planting your song in my head) I swiftly scooped the mouse up and covered the top with a cd case. Remember I've been catching mice, moles, chipmunks, etc. for years now. I should host classes on this shit.

  Opening the door, I felt a wave of guilt over putting the mouse out in the cold, but there was no alternative for him. He had to go out, or face the fangs and claws of four bored felines. I set the cup down, fully expecting the mouse to dart away, but instead he came part way out, stopped and repeatedly rubbed his mouth with his hands. And then he turned in circles to the right like a shopping cart with a sticky wheel. It was then that I noticed the small wound on the top of his head. One of the stupid cats had performed some kind of brain experiment on him. I could just imagine the conversation:

Mia: Hey Marbles, have you ever pierced the frontal lobe with one claw to see what would happen?

Marbles: No, but that's a brilliant idea! Let me go pick the furniture for a minute so my claws are good and sharp. Be right back.

  Well, the damage was done and he didn't look to be suffering so I brought him a small hunk of cheddar and left him preening and circling in the red cup. Throughout the morning I checked on him several times. No real changes to report. Just hanging out in the cup, and he didn't touch the cheese. The cats had turned him into a mentally impaired mouse who needed to go have round the clock care at a mouse rehab center.
When it began to rain I decided that I would get the mouse and put him in some sort of container where he could attempt a fair recovery in the barn. Now I don't have all the facts, nor was there any forensic evidence to be recovered, but when I went up to get him the cheese was gone and so was the mouse. My two dogs stood behind me, both failing to make eye contact with me as I questioned them on what had happened in the last hour.  I'll never know for sure, but I'd like to think that one of the dogs ate the cheese and spooked the mouse out of his catatonic (forgive the pun) state, enabling him to find the mental faculties that involved running the hell away from this House of Satan. That's my version of a Hollywood ending, rodent style.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Terrible Timing

  I can't believe that our indoor ring roof is being re-shingled as I type. Our landlords are nice people, but I'm not sure what they were thinking by having this work done during the winter. Here are a few reasons as to why it's a bad idea:

1. It's cold
2. the roof is covered with thick frost every morning
3. we can't ride in the indoor while the workers are up there
4.we can't ride outside because it's freezing out and the ground is frozen
5. we can't ride until 4 p.m. when the workers leave for the day
6. who in the hell wants to start riding at 4 p.m. in the winter?
7. the roof is huge and this company sends a mere two laborer's per day, who spend a lot of time chatting and listening to really, really bad music on their crackly radio

    After two long weeks the guys got one half of the roof done. Then they took the entire week off between Christmas and New Years, which if you remember was a very mild, lovely week.  Well, the truck just rolled into the driveway on this below freezing morning and I bet those men are just de-lighted to be scampering up the frosty ladder to start ripping shingles in the frigid Millbrook wind. To make matters worse, they started on the side of the ring that is always exposed to the sun. Now they are working on the "dark side", which never gets a single ray of light. So if you're thinking that you have a crappy job just imagine being a roofer stuck on a slippery, humungous, shaded indoor ring roof in January. Oh, and Billy Squier is belting out "Stroke Me" on the radio ( a song that no one should EVER have to hear after 1986).  Puts things in a little perspective, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ring it out, Ring it in

  It's the first day of January in the year 2012! "Happy New Year", I've been saying to everyone that I talk to over the last few days.  Last night was low key here in our household. Early to bed, with a midnight wake up kiss from Jonathan, and I was back to sleep before my head hit the pillow. I did look at the clock precisely at 12:00, so thanks to Jonathan I was officially "there" for the New Year's first minute.
  Yesterday as I was trail riding a brown mare through the fields, I started reminiscing about New Year's eve's from the past. As a kid I remember always thinking that night was such a big deal. My Mom and Dad would get dressed up to go to a party. Dad would be in his hunter green polyester leisure suit, with his sideburns combed just right. Mom would have on a swanky polyester dress, usually multi-colored, with her shag hairdo coiffed to perfection and a fresh pack of Tareyton 100's in her clutch (she gave up smoking early on in my childhood-fyi).  I would be set up with root beer floats to concoct, a sundae smorgasbord and movies to watch, usually with a friend over to keep me company. We'd stay up to watch the ball drop in Times Square, before we'd fade off to sleep in our Holly Hobby sleeping bags.

  As a young adult NYE took on a different meaning. It was supposed to be THE NIGHT of the year to par-tay. Expectations were high and lots of planning went into making sure it was a night to remember. Most of the time it was a night to forget, or at least I forgot most of it along the way.  I remember leaving a perfectly fun party at my in-law's house in CT to pile a bunch of us into a Volkswagen Jetta and head to another party in NYC. Somehow we got stuck on the highway and ended up ringing in the New Year en route. Everyone in the car was fighting, my brother in law's girlfriend was crying and by the time we actually made it to the party I immediately found a horizontal position on a bed and fell asleep. That was really my last attempt at making NYE some kind of fantastical, magic night. I learned that  you don't have to get all dressed up, you don't have to drink till you drop, you don't even have to leave your house to have a good time on the last night of the year. Meanwhile, I do have high expectations for 2012. The first day of the new year is a perfect day to take charge of your life and confront what you want to change.  It's all about opportunities in life and whether you choose to take them, or create them, or let them pass you by is up to you. I'm brimming with optimism about the upcoming year and I can't wait to see where it takes us. Cheers to 2012!