Monday, May 20, 2013
Last night I had a bit of a horse wreck. I’m okay. I’m assuming I’m okay since I’m walking. That must mean there aren’t any broken bones. But it hurt. I hit hard. I hit so hard I peed myself. I landed on my back and slammed my head. Twice. My head actually bounced and I picked up a couple of pounds of dirt in my clothes and my orifices—mouth, nose, ears—while I continued the forward motion and skidded towards home on my back, head first.
Luckily we were already past the timer when Lowdown decided that this was fun and yee-ha, he had a couple of bucks in him. (I got second place.) Unluckily, I wasn’t expecting it and there was no warning or else I think I could have stayed on. But it happened so fast, I didn’t even know what happened. Usually, if a horse starts bucking, I experience a couple of seconds of panic where I’m struggling to maintain my seat and the ground or the sky is flashing by. Sometimes I’m even riding side-saddle for a stride or two. Not real side-saddle but I’m hanging off the side of a saddle by one leg and a prayer, so I call that side-saddle. Then I manage to somehow pull myself back on. The last few times my horse bucked (not always the same horse, just in general—whenever I have been on a bucking horse), I was able to pull myself back on and keep my seat. One time it was pure luck. Harley bucked, I went off, actually went up in the air, and then I fell back down on him in just the right spot, landed smack dab in the middle of my saddle with a big plump! before he took off running. My feet even slipped right back into the stirrups like they’d never been disengaged. That was lucky.
This time I’m lucky I’m not dead. That’s how hard my head hit. I felt it in slow motion—Clunk! Clunk!—and in that split second, my brain, well protected and safe, and therefore still able to do its job, thought Thank god I wear a helmet now!
I never used to wear a helmet. I used to say they were uncomfortable. I used to say it interfered with my vision when I had one on and I couldn’t hear well. Though helmets don’t block your eyes or your ears. I don’t know how I thought anybody would believe that, but that’s what I was shoveling. The real reason is, I was too vain. They look dorky. I’m not going to lie. I still think they are dorky-looking. Even though I wear one now. I look like a big dorky egg-head when I’m wearing my helmet. No more sexy cowgirl galloping across the field of buttercups, long blonde hair flowing in the breeze…. No more cool rodeo chick in fringe shirt, blingy belt, and cowboy hat—black in winter, straw for the summer…. No more of that. The party is over. On top of my figure mysteriously changing shape, thickening around the middle since I’ve gone into menopause like I’m suddenly melting (and maybe I am, if these hot flashes are any indication), I started wearing a dorky helmet. It is not sexy.
I had to do it for the kid. How could I keep making her wear one if I was not? I actually carried on like this for a few years—made her wear one but I didn’t. When she questioned me, I appealed to her sympathy—“I tried but I just could not get used to it! In my day, they didn’t have helmets!”
I urged her to do some critical thinking—“If I jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you want to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge too? ”
I used her grandmother—“Nana always said, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right,’” looked sheepish, and lit up a cigarette. (I don’t smoke anymore either.)
But she never fought me on it. She was never allowed on a horse without a helmet from the time we started leading her around on Minnie when she was three-years-old and so I imagine her helmet is like a headstall to her—a necessary piece of equipment that you don’t think twice about and even if her mother doesn’t wear one, her mother’s stupidity is more of a conundrum than ammunition not to wear her own.
However, my hypocrisy bothered me. Now that she was older and she could look at me with admiration due to my behavior and not simply because I was her mother, or disapproval, I had to behave better. I decided to at least try one. Give it a good try. Not just throw on some extra helmet someone had lying around. Get the right one. Research which ones were comfortable, what would work best for me, and get the proper size. And that’s what I did. (FYI, I got a Tipperary.)
The day I found myself cooling out my horse with my helmet still on because I’d forgotten to take it off because it was so comfortable was the day I knew the bullshit was over and I was a helmet-wearer.
I’m not going to say it looks nice. I am no hot number with my hair blowing in the breeze anymore. But I have a head. And brains can be quite sexy.
Helmets come in many styles. Here is the cowboy hat with helmet built-in (is my head too big?), and my personal favorite, the shark.
Friday, May 3, 2013
The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is stand on my tip-toes and look out the window facing the barn. I see the big barn doors that Kurt made. They have criss-crosses on them just like I wanted. Pretty soon I will paint them, red with white trim. I see the green lawn and green pastures with white mist floating on top like a ghost’s blanket.
I see the horses. Bullet and Lowdown but not Harley because we’ve been keeping him on the other side at night and you can’t see that side from here. I don’t know if I can actually see the lilac bush on the front lawn from this spot or I just know that it’s there, but it’s got big purple blossoms on it shaped like horns of plenty.
When I come downstairs I definitely see the lilac bush that’s by the kitchen window.
Yesterday when we had the window opened because the weather was so nice, you could smell the lilacs in the house. I picked some and put them in a vase.
I was so happy when we got this house and I discovered that I had two old-timey lilac bushes. I texted Kurt, “These lilacs are making me horny.” I knew he’d get a kick out of that, plus it was true, maybe not in a direct way, but indirectly, like how being able to pay bills gets me horny or riding the horse gets me horny—if I feel good, I’m much more likely to want sex. When he came up to the bedroom last night, he brought a lilac with him and dangled it over my nose. Then he gave me a massage because my back hurts and we made love.
That was the last thing I did last night.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Well… I pulled it off again. If it’s not your taste and you can’t appreciate styles not your own, and especially if you can’t get with funky colors, or something unorthodox, you might disagree. But I like it. I think it looks fabulous.
I was scared for a minute there. I started second-guessing myself after Kelly came in and said, “Hmm.” She’s a kid so I didn’t expect that, kids being open-minded and all. I mean, her room is the color of Pepto Bismol for god’s sake. So I asked Kurt. He must have wanted sex that night because he said, “I know you’ll make miracles happen. You always do.” So I kept painting but then the next day he said, unsolicited, “I’ve got to tell you, it looks hideous.” Hideous! You can read into that whatever you want but it put a real damper on things so I sent pictures to my girlfriends, but only the ones who like funky colors and unorthodox decorating styles because the last thing I wanted to do was repaint.
It’s only paint and it would have required painting two more coats—one to cover the mistake and the topcoat—no big deal really. But I’m on a time-crunch here. It’s March already (yes, I am late posting this) and I’ve got to get riding if I want to barrel race this year. I’m trying to get as many house projects done as possible, especially inside house projects, because come spring, other than the normal stuff like mowing and weeding and planting and a couple of projects I have no choice about, season-wise, like staining the deck and power washing the house—nothing to sneeze at—I’m going to be on my horse. So I have to hurry. I can’t waste time. The last thing I want to happen is that I feel guilty because I’m on my horse and that cabinet is still shockingly white and it’s ruining the whole look of the living room which is what I call 1940s California bungalow slash farmhouse with a dash of cowboy.
Someone came up with the idea of putting all of my accessories on it before I made a decision and see how it looks then. That’s when I discovered that I forgot to paint the shelves, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I like the way they look not being the same color as the rest of it.
I put my blue insulators on one of them and my brown insulators on another one, then I tried leaning a Wallace Nutting picture on it, and that gave me the idea to go get the picture of my mother and her sister getting a pony ride when they were little girls. (That picture is the best of both worlds—it’s retro and it’s western—and I’m not even talking about how cool it is that it’s my mother and you can see her scuffed knees, hence her name Cookie, as in “tough cookie.” She was always proud of that.)
One thing led to another—pinecone basket, metal box with a dragon on it, green art pottery vase that never looked good anywhere else—and once I got all my stuff on the cabinet, I realized I liked it. In fact, I love it! Kurt’s still iffy on it. But of course he didn’t like the Pepto Bismol either.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Does anyone know what happened to Zenmama from the blog Tripping Over Cancer? I'm worried about her. The last time she posted to her blog was November 7, 2011. She was documenting her fight against breast cancer and she was doing so well and then all of a sudden, no more posts. There is no way to reach her. I don't know what her real name is and there is no contact information on her blog. All you can do is comment, which I've done, hoping to hear something, but I haven't. I'm worried about her.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Smoking stand my nana and I used to use on her front porch. We were big smokers together. Nana died of lung cancer.
I’m not smoking. It’s been two weeks. It’s hard. But I’m doing it. That’s all I feel like saying right now. Wait. I’ll say this. For a while I was pissed because it seemed like all the people who’ve been nagging me and pressuring me and getting on my case and driving me crazy all these years to quit have suddenly dropped off the face of the earth. Dropped off the face of the earth! No calls. No pats on the back. No inquiries about how I am doing other than the perfunctory questions at the beginning of our phone conversations—“So how’s it going?”—followed by obvious disinterest in the details of how it’s going if I actually attempt to get it off my chest. Forget flowers. How come no one sends anyone flowers when they quit smoking? This is big! And we get no flowers.
What are they thinking?! Two weeks have gone by and I’m supposed to be over an addiction I was doing every fifteen minutes for almost forty years?! I never even had a job where I couldn’t smoke freely! It’s like they think, She’s good. It’s been two weeks. And then they tell me about their vacation plans and Girl Scout cookie orders and Brazilian bikini waxes. As if this fight for my life is suddenly over-with because I could actually get out of bed this week and wash my face. Which goes to show that they had no idea what I was grappling with when I was smoking if they think I could function and care about vacation plans, Girl Scout cookies, and Brazilian bikini waxes two weeks after quitting.
Then I thought, fuck ‘em. I didn’t quit for them anyway. I don’t need their approval or their support. I am doing this for me.
As you can see, I’m a bit cranky. One time I lost a friendship when I quit smoking because I was cranky. Well, not only that, but it was morning and everyone knows I’m not a morning person. So what happened was, this girl Sherley and I had an argument about how mules are stubborn. I said it in passing and she took a shit fit. She’d just bought a couple of mules. I had no idea she was going to be so touchy. I didn’t mean anything by it. Mules have a reputation for being stubborn. Everyone knows that. Great jokes have come from it. Plus god knows Sherley freely said many things to Kurt and I that most people would construe as very rude and we didn’t take a shit fit. She’s not exactly the sensitive type. Like one time she asked us what we paid for one of our horses, a horse we were very proud of, and when we told her, she screamed, and I quote, “Are you people f-ing crazy?!” We let that, and all the other obnoxious crap that used to come out of her mouth, go. So I was quite surprised that my comment about mules being stubborn got her so upset. But that’s not why I’m saying I was cranky—because I made the comment. I was cranky because I didn’t have any patience for her reaction to the comment. When she started screaming, I said, “Bye bye,” and haven’t talked to her since.
I’m not saying bye-bye to any of my other friends. They really haven’t been as non-supportive as I made out. I am cranky. But I’m not smoking because when I set my mind to something, I'm as stubborn as a mule.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
I can’t even imagine how often the heat would be going on if I didn’t have a woodstove. Thank god we got the woodstove. I have the stove going around the clock and still the oil heat kicks on every time I’m in the smoking room, aka, the basement.
I’ve relegated myself to the basement in a desperate attempt to cut down. It’s working pretty well. I’m smoking half as much as I used to smoke. Who wants to go down into the basement every time you want to smoke? It’s not a finished basement. The floor is cement and when there’s a lot of rain, a trickle of water runs down the center of it to a pit where the sump pump is. There are paint cans, buckets of joint compound, and plastic jugs of water in case the electric goes out and it’s not worth pulling out the generator because we think it’s going to come back on again. Like if there was no reason for the electric to go out—no snow, no wind, no rain. Nothing’s happening weather-wise. That means there was probably an accident—someone went into a pole—and as soon as they clean it up, the electric will come back on again. But if there’s a reason, if there’s any kind of precipitation, it could take days.
These are things you need on a farm. A woodstove and a generator.
People don’t realize that, when you’re out in the country and you lose your electric, you not only lose your lights and can’t watch The Bachelor, but you lose your water too because you have a well and the pump runs on electric. My sister thinks I’m out there hand-cranking it, but that’s not the case. For someone who has horses, it’s a disaster since horses drink about a dozen gallons of water per day each and if they don’t have water, they can colic. My first pony died of colic so I’m really paranoid about that. If you have six horses, that’s seventy-two gallons of water a day. That’s a lot of water. It’s not like you could run down to Walmart and get a few jugs off the shelf. Well, you could, but that would be the last thing you’d want to do because it would be really expensive. Like if it was an apocalyptic situation. You know, an end-of-the-world thing and your horses were dying of thirst. Of course if that was happening, even though I love my animals dearly, I think we’d be hoarding the water for ourselves. The horses get their feet done and their teeth floated before I get new shoes or go to the dentist, but you have to draw the line somewhere. So I would go down to Walmart if I had to. It would have to be really bad but not end-of-the-world bad.
Last summer it got really bad. We had a fierce storm that knocked out power for a week. I almost had to resort to Walmart but then Kelly’s boyfriend showed up with a 250-gallon container full of water sloshing around in the back of his truck. He had rustled up the container from his grandfather’s farm, brought it over to a friend’s farm where he rinsed it out (including using bleach because he knows what a fanatic I am about the horses) and filled it up, and then brought it back here for our horses to drink. I felt like the Calvary arrived!
Since then, one of our neighbors who is an electrician, rigged something up on the electrical box so that now all we have to do is plug the generator in and flip a switch if the power goes out and we’ll have water. He didn’t charge us a thing. I tried to pay him, I was so grateful, but he waved his hand and said to just give him a good deal when he needs new carpet someday.
The electric has gone out twice since we got the woodstove put in and the gizmo installed on the box. I dared it to. It was flickering. I said, “Go ahead you sucker! I don’t need no stinkin’ lights!” It came back on so fast I didn’t even have to get a log but I felt very secure knowing that, no matter what, we were going to be warm and the horses were going to have water. Because we have a woodstove and a generator.
And good people around us. That is something you need on a farm.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Kelly put up the round pen by herself. She said, “That’s it; I’m not waiting anymore.” We’d been here for two months but hadn’t been able to get to it. We had to put up fences, bulldoze dirt, and find places to put all the stuff sitting in the middle of the barn that we used to keep in the garage because we don’t have a garage here yet. We had to paint, unclog bathtubs, fix windows, change faucets, and put up a mailbox. (The mailbox might have been a bad idea because it was promptly stuffed with bills.) We had to repair the washing machine (washing machines are always broke when I move to new houses, even if they are brand new, which made me madder at Slow Bob for extorting me for mine), install a dishwasher, and change light fixtures and light bulbs high up on the roof of the barn so we could see where we were walking at night.
I’m not even talking about the unpacking. I’m not talking about finding hay, a farrier, a vet, a doctor for the humans, the dump, a new bank, an oil company, and motor vehicle where we went back and forth a half dozen times to change our licenses, registrations, and get the vehicles inspected. Of course the van failed because Kurt didn’t get all dressed up and lead the guy on like I did. So then we had to find a new car mechanic. I still don’t have one of the trailers done. It still has Virginia plates on it and is, in fact, illegal. So the round pen was low priority.
But Kelly was itching to ride because it turns out we’re in a real horse community and she joined the 4-H club and Future Farmers of America and made friends with the other girls in town who wear blinged-out belts, pink camouflage caps, and barrel race like she does.
But I wouldn’t let her get on any of the horses until they’d been worked in the round pen first. They had been sitting around for months twiddling their thumbs while we packed and unpacked and were jumping out of their skin being in a new place and on a busy road where a whooshing car made them all throw up their heads and take off. The perimeter of the property was not fenced in yet so there was no safe place to ride if someone bucked while Kelly was texting and she fell off. Even though she swears she never texts when she rides.
I’m a worrywart mommy. She’s got the helmet and the emergency-release stirrups and I insist on working a horse in the round pen first after he’s been off from work for any length of time. It’s not the same as on a lunge line. In the round pen, they can really blow off steam. At the least, you can see what you’ve got under the hood. Some people might say I’m overprotective. I don’t care. It’s a dangerous sport. She’s lucky she’s riding period.
So she put up a whole sixty-foot, steel round pen by herself. She had to drag it over, panel by panel, from the other side of the yard. I have no idea how she got it started and got the first panel up. You have to hold the first one up so you can attach the next one to it. Then you angle them like a Hallmark card to keep them standing while you get the third one. You can’t angle one panel all by itself so I don’t know how she did it. It’s a job for two men! But it’s up now and she’s been riding. She rides most days, trying to get her horse conditioned so that she’s ready for the barrel racing season.
Now I have to figure out how to get her to put the stall mats down. I’m thinking, how can I link the stall mats to the prom?