Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Know That the Light Don't Sleep

I am suddenly back in love with my home state. We had a glorious snow yesterday. Forecasters were calling for flurries and we ended up with over three inches. It was that fluffy,coat everything, kind of snow. Streets and sidewalks were easily cleared but the brown and grey mud was covered. This morning I watched the sun rise through the trees and turn everything in to diamonds. That is when I love the snow best. The snow actually sparkles in the sun and looks like the world is encased in glitter. I decided that Veritas just might feel the same way about snow as I do. I was right. I saddled him up this morning and took him out for a trail ride. He seemed just as enthralled as I was. There is absolutely nothing better than hacking out in unbroken snow with a horse. Against the white backdrop, you see birds fluttering in the bushes, deer dashing out from the trees, foxes scurrying ahead of you as if to race you to the next bend. The world takes on the muffled song that comes from Veritas clomping on to the blanket of powdered snow. It seems as if nature itself starts dancing to it's beat. The whole time he had his head up and he snorted puffs of steam out in to the frigid air. I could tell he didn't want to miss a single thing and kept looking around. I am just so grateful that through his eyes he has made me once again take notice of my surroundings. Riding 'Tas makes me feel like I am seeing things clearly after waking from a long sleep. After we returned to the barn I looked out across the snow covered fields and heard a song in my head. It seems to describe exactly what today was. It was the day I discovered that no matter how dark it may seem at times, my Light don't sleep.

David Gray is one of those musicians who sounds even better live than in a studio. This is one of my all time favorite songs. Lyrics are amazing.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Instrument of Your Peace

Snow. We have snow. Along with frozen pipes in the barn.The Snow Miser decided to pay my area of PA a visit. Winter is tough if you have a small, backyard horse set-up. No matter how much insulation we wrap around the pipes, they freeze when we hit the teen digits.
Since Romeo is prone to colic, it is essential that he have plenty of water. This means several trips from the house to the barn lugging water buckets. I keep thinking there must be some solution. Every time I watch a football game and I see that big Gatorade container by the players bench, I think that would be easy enough to stick in a wheel barrow. Better than my aunt and I, juggling water buckets, trying not to slip on the ice and snow.
Romeo seems happy enough. No residual effects of his couple month ordeal of abscesses and stitches. I caught him rolling in the mud with his heavy-weight, winter rug on. Not an easy feat for even a young horse.
Sydney is back to giving me the cold shoulder. I just can't figure the girl out. I try not to let it bother me. I rationalize that a lot of off-the-track Thoroughbreds are like her. When Romeo was raced, he was owned by one person. Syd was owned by a corporation, consisting of numerous owners. Since most low earning, corporate race horses have little to no handling as a pet, these horses tend to not bond with people. Syd was actually a winning horse so that meant she spent 7 years on the track before her racing career ended. What her life on the track was like is something I can't even imagine. I just try and remind myself to not take her snubbing my affection, personally.
I just feel sad that I was able to get Gwen to come back around after her life as an isolated show horse, where Syd, she could care less. Even if I have a pocket full of treats, she doesn't even look up when I approach them in the pasture. It is only when Romeo starts walking towards me, reaching out for a cookie, that she will finally acknowledge me. She makes no eye contact and acts as if it's a bother in her busy grazing to accept a treat. I hate myself for muttering, "bitch" every time she does that. All the more reason I am grateful I have Romeo and Veritas to reassure me that I am lovable.
What it really boils down to is that after a year and a half I have come to the realization that I still have a hole in my heart where Gwen once was. Now that I am coming off such high doses of the anti anxiety meds, I am once again feeling things more clearly. One of them is that emotion of real loss of such a huge part of my existence. It's hard to explain this to people around me. I know my aunt gets it. I think that is one of the reasons she will email me in the mornings to go back to bed, she will take care of the horses. Gwen would miss me if I didn't get out there at least a few times a week. Syd could care less who feeds her and turns her out.
The powder of snow that fell last night is on top of ice. I chose to lead the horses through the barn door rather than just opening their stall doors and letting them race each other out and possibly wiping out on the slippery ice. Romeo is a bit of a bastard when I lead him. He is pushy and obstinate until I remind him who has cookies in her pocket. Syd is actually a nice horse to lead. The one advantage of horses that don't bond~they don't have a bone to pick with you. She would deem it unworthy of her time to have an argument with me.
I was able to just lead her with a rope draped around her neck. She gracefully lowered her head so that I could slip the rope off. She ignored my outstretched hand that was offering a cookie and walked out to begin searching for a spot to roll. Romeo waltzed up and grabbed the cookie. Snooze, ya lose. He hung out with me for a couple minutes and then turned to join Syd for a good roll in the snow. I stood at the barn door and started adjusting my scarf.I dropped the rope while I was shifting my multiple layers. As I bent down to retrieve the rope I saw a shine of brass in the dirt. I had to take my glove off to scrape it out of the frozen ground. I finally pried it loose and was left staring in wonder at what I found. It was a Saint Francis medal that I used to have on Gwen's halter.
Years ago, Dru and I co-op ed a barn together. We had each horse have St. Francis metals attached to their halters, blankets, bridles,etc.. One side had the Patron Saint of Animals, and the other side had the horses name engraved. This way, we could keep track of what item belonged to what horse and keep blessings around them at every angle.Even after Dru and I went to separate barns, the tags went with our horses and their belongings. Gwen's halter medal had fallen off years ago. I had forgotten about it until this moment. Why I would find it now in the one spot I stand in almost every day, I have no idea.
I held it for a few moments and felt the warmth of tears welling up. I am so grateful now for them. Now matter what has happened, my time with Gwen was something I will always hold close to my heart. Even though she is gone, her spirit is right there with me. Finding that medal was just Gwen reminding me to keep the faith.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I took the medal back out of my pocket and reminded myself, for it is in giving that we receive.
I walked out to where Syd was now pawing through the hay pile. I fed her a cookie and found a spot under her chin that she likes having scritched. She stretched out her neck and lowered her head for me so I could reach her spot better. After I had stopped, she head-butted me in the arm. For Syd, this is the closest she can bring herself to saying thanks for the love.
I'm cool with that.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Off to the Races

OK~ I was tagged by SweetPeaSurrey. I agree with her that this is a nice distraction from the usual heavy crap I blog about.

So ... here are the instructions:

1.go to your documents

2. go to your 6th file. (I had to skip a file because it was an IM file which is empty. It's empty because I don't IM anyone,ever)

3.go to your 6th picture.

4. blog about it.

5. tag 6 friends to do the same.

and the Photo:

This is Dru and I, at the Radnor Spring Races, May 2006. I had captioned it "Champagne Blondes Drink Champagne."
This is an example of one of my many haircolor changes.
I had actually blogged about this at TV.com. Here is a rerun of what the Spring Races are about:

Yesterday, I had off from work and attended the Radnor Hunt Spring Races. It is a steeplechase event that is held in an area 15 minutes from where I live. I used to live 2 minutes away at a farm back in the 90s. My friend Dru,who has the large animal rescue farm, has a parking spot that we tailgate from every year. This has been a tradition for my fellow horse owning friends for the past 17 years.

Horses over the fence

Here in Pennsylvania, May can be a tricky month. It is often cold,wet and rainy.Sometimes Mother Nature will throw you a loop by making it 80 degrees and broiling sunshine.Yesterday, we had both. We had a couple sprinkles and cloud cover early in the day and by the afternoon we were basking in sunshine with no jackets. I saw a lot of friends,ate a lot of food and got a chance to sit back and enjoy what I love about the area of Pennsylvania I live in.

Tailgating at horse shows is much different from tailgating at other sports events.First of all,they are judged in different categories. Since this sport attracts the wealthy sect, the tailgate often reflects that.Some people park antique cars or some kind of rare British import car and these are judged on the vehicle and the presentation around it.

The next category is a designated theme that is presented every year. This year was TV series. We saw an American Bandstand tailgate where everyone dressed in poodle skirts and they had Motown playing.Their plates for food looked like record albums.It was really cute! Another was The Flying Nun which was my favorite.Imagine even the fat,old guys were dressed as a nuns. Poor Sally Field was blessed by God to recover her career from that series. There was a Gilligan's Island theme which you can spot in this picture:

The third category is just on the elegance and uniqueness of your tailgate.In this category you will see expensively catered food with fine china,crystal stemware,ice sculptures,flowers galore and linens. The people will be dressed very formally with the women in hats and the men in suit coats.

The last category is the one where the people just park a vehicle and set up food and drinks with no care in how it looks. Believe it or not, this gets judged in the end for "Worst Tailgate" and you are awarded black balloons.Well,guess who won that category? It was us!!! I told my friend Dru's husband, I think we won because when the judges came by I was holding a bag of Wheat Thins. No dish or plate,just a bag out in the open.It is all in good fun and we cheered our heads off because we were the trash of the tailgating sect!

Evidence of Wheat Thins and Black Balloons

I enjoy spending a day with friends and seeing how the other folk live. I even went over and had a drink with the people I once worked for when I was with my ex,on their coach . They were so gracious and it reminded me that I can still have contact and socialize with these people and not have to work for them.

This is their Roof Seat Brake carriage. The carriages line up and tailgate for a couple hours. The grooms standing on the ground is what I used to get paid to do. The coach is being pulled by a formation called "Unicorn" because it is two horses at the wheel of the coach and one in the front. It is one of the most difficult forms of driving.

On a side note,after the Radnor Races we all went to the clubhouse to watch the Preakness. It was sad and sickening to watch Pennsylvania's golden horse shatter his ankle. White Light to Michael Matz and Barbero.

So, there you have what that picture meant. I had just started dating Prick. I didn't take him because I knew I would be drinking. I love this picture of Dru and I. We look so happy. I know I was. I love these events. The people, the horses, the whole atmosphere is just fun. It was so sad to be in the clubhouse afterwards and watch Barbaro run that fateful race.
It all seems so long ago. I still attend the Radnor Races with Dru each year. I know rain or shine,hot or cold, we will be there.

Hey, I don't have a lot of public friends here. I'm just going for it. Tag! You are it!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

No Time is Better Than Now

Felonius my old friend
Step on in and let me shake your hand
So glad that you're here again
For one more time
Let your madness run with mine
Streets still unseen we'll find somehow
No time is better than now

I shot straight up when the shrill of my phone blasted me awake. I rarely get calls on my home line anymore and at that early hour I was jolted with confusion. I checked the caller ID as I fumbled for the talk button and all it said was Australia.

"Did I wake you?"

I fumbled for the clock in my stupor and squinted.

"No," I lied.
It was Ryan calling from Australia. He had gone home for the holidays and I didn't see him before he left. He asked me what time it was here in the States.

"4am,"I mumbled, throwing my arm across my eyes.

"Bloody Hell, it's 9pm here. Sorry,love," but he didn't sound sorry. In fact he was his usual chipper self.The fact that it was also a day ahead didn't seem like an issue either.

I have to say that there is something about an Aussie accent that does a girl in. If a South Philly guy woke me with a,"Yo! Yous sleepin'?" I would have been crankier.

Ryan,was calling to tell me his boss was taking their horses to South Carolina, for the winter horse show season. He was flying directly there from Australia so he wouldn't be back in PA until late April.

Crap. I was losing my trainer. I stopped my lessons when my work hours in mid December, became insane. My little black cloud of depression had kept me from Veritas, but at least Ryan, was still riding him for me. He would call me once a week or email to let me know how my Fat Boy was progressing.
"Who am I going to find that will let me ride freestyle to INXS or Depeche Mode," I whined to him. Traditional dressage, Freestyle Kur, usually demands cheesy pop music that is played on a synthesizer or classical music. Ryan seemed to enjoy my weird collection of music and could choreograph tests that worked with more fun songs.
He assured me that I could use the tests that he designed for us and use them to just about any music. We talked for a couple minutes about Veritas. Before we hung up Ryan mentioned to me that I should find work with the horses down in South Carolina, for the winter.

"Bring the Boy. It would be good for you both."

I let out a heavy sigh. How many times have I been offered that? My answer is always the same.
"I have too much,here."

Ryan is 26 years old. He came here, from his native Australia, to work with a member of the USA Olympic Equestrian Team. He has his life and career in front of him. The fact that he is still in a position to chose what he wants is exhilarating. I felt a pang of jealousy. For my youth and for the days of not having responsibilities of a mortgage,a full-time job, pets, elderly parents. You know. Life.
When I woke this morning, I thought some more about my conversation with Ryan the night before. It occurred to me that Ryan never speaks to me like I am some old lady who he trains. He talks to me as someone he trains and also works with professionally. He has referred a lot of horses to me to massage. When he offered to get me employment in Aiken, I believe he really thought it was something I should or could do.
Every year I go through these same feelings. Most equestrians that show their horses in upper levels go south for the winter. Over the years, I have spent long weekends in the Carolinas, massaging and grooming horses for clients. They pay for my expenses and my fee and it would just about work out even. I never made a profit doing that. In fact, last time I ended up losing money and a car that needed major repairs upon returning. I vowed it was my last trip south for the winter. I think that was when I also decided I hated the Carolinas.
I often think back on my horse show days and the fun I had. There were parties and dalliances with the rich folk. The sad truth is, that unless you have money to start with, you don't make money working with horses. I have lived along the fringe, looking for the opportunity to slip in to a place where life seemed to be easier. Somehow, I never got my foot all the way in through the door. Looking back, I realize I missed a lot of opportunities staying back in the barns with the horses instead of working the social scene. My friend Brit, would often tell me that if I had worked more with my pussy than my hands, I would have gotten farther in life. Now that I am getting older, I am beginning to wonder if that cynical statement was correct. Lost opportunity? Regrets? How many times were things offered and I didn't know to take them? The funny thing is,I think I may actually not regret my choice of putting horses first. It may have saved me from even more heartache. Who knows?
I rarely talk to any of my old equestrian friends from my traveling days but I do think of them from time to time.

Tell me where are you driving
Midnight cruiser
Where is your bounty
Of fortune and fame
I am another
Gentlemen loser
Drive me to Harlem
Or somewhere the same

Brit, now works full time as a carpenter. Horses are a side business. We speak maybe once or twice a year if he is in the area working with someones horses. Seems his life has landed him to a place that was always like mine. I had my responsible career that paid the bills and kept me from moving to some far off land, playing with horses all day. I think I mainly traveled for the pure energy and madness. Always in pursuit of finding a path anywhere but the one I traveled at home.
When we were younger, we both had those dreams of having equestrian careers, traveling the world with the rich and famous. Maybe we would even find fame and fortune on our own. He had almost gotten there a few times but Brit was unlucky with love and horses. Each time he was crushed both emotionally and financially. Of course, being British he would never let on that he was crushed but I could see each setback had left him a little more dead behind his eyes. Eventually, I settled down with a man and bought my home. Life on the road just didn't work anymore.

The world that we used to know
People tell me it don't turn no more
The places we used to go
Familiar faces that ain't smilin' like before
The time of our time has come and gone
I fear we been waiting too long

Now that my life doesn't feel so secure, will the world that I used to know, ever turn again? Will those streets still unseen, I'll find somehow?
I called Ryan's cell phone while I was driving to work. I wished him luck with the winter show season and hoped to come see him compete in Kentucky this April. His reply was, "Maybe, you'll land yourself a wealthy Lexington guy, while you are there."
Spoken like a true 26 year old that is holding life by the balls. But, who knows? I may still find that unseen street, yet.

* lyrics from Midnight Cruiser, Steely Dan

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's That Sinking Feeling, You Know What it's Bringing On

I am not writing anything that anyone would be shocked at reading. I have been depressed. Not just that simple, I have the blues, depressed. I mean, I'm drowning in a well and can't get out of it, depressed.
I know many people experience depression at some point in their life. For some, it may be a constant. For me, this is a new frontier. I spent most of December in a fog. If I wasn't working, I was sleeping. I would take care of Romeo and Sydney while Veritas was virtually ignored. Part of it was the crazy weather we had, the other part was my co-worker of 23 years was out on maternity leave. I worked a lot of extra hours to accommodate her clients. I kept blaming stress or the extra work hours. Before I knew it, I found myself in that well, not even bothering to look up and see if I could get out. If you haven't figured it out from past blogs I am wound a little tight. I tend to have anxiety and over-emotional responses. Apathy and numbness is not something I am used to. When I falter I sink myself in to work or the horses. I get myself back in to the saddle both literally and figuratively. Part of being a hairdresser is faking it till you make it. I still managed to pull that off at work but as soon as I walked out that door the blackness enveloped me. It had gotten so bad that I didn't even care that I wasn't riding. On my days off, I would choose staying in my pajamas with an ignored book in my lap and staring out in to space. Dishes piled up, clothes sat next to the washer. I would wake each morning with a list of errands and things to do. Before I would know what happened, I would be back in bed or on the couch, fast asleep.
What really sealed it for me was when my coworker came back part time. After my boss discovered she was still doing some clients at home, on the side, he told her she either stopped or she would have to leave. She chose to leave. I was beyond stunned. We haven't always seen eye-to-eye these past 23 years, but we were a team. We looked out for each other professionally. She and I, both understood what it is like to be an aging hairdresser in a field that values looks and youth. I know she didn't leave me, but it felt that way. I cried for three days straight. I barely got out of bed last week except to go to work. It was the first time I didn't have people over for new year's eve. I drank myself stupid and cried at Dick Clark slurring in the new year. At least he has the excuse of recovering from a stroke. I just slurred happy new year to a bunch of fur. Oh, and I texted a friend in California. At 12am, I felt compelled to warn him of the impending doom that would land on his doorstep in a couple hours.
I don't know what clicked but I had finally decided enough was enough. This morning I awoke and decided no matter how tired I was, I had to get out. I dug out my winter britches and went to ride Veritas. I was in a haze while I brushed the dust off him. You could tell I hadn't been out in awhile. His tail had matted and he had scurf under his long,winter coat. It was while I was working on his forelock that it happened. Veritas was leaning his head flat up against my chest. I started to scratch the inside of his ears and he let out a huge sigh. I burst in to tears. I was just appalled at my month of self pity. How could I ignore the one thing that gives me so much joy, so unconditionally? Augh. Humans. We are just so stupid when it comes to our brains.
As I swung my foot up in to the stirrup I felt my heart starting to lighten. By the time I got out in to the open field I felt my head was clearer. Starlings were swarming along the tree line. I don't know if these birds are in other parts of the USA. Someone once told me they are not a natural species of the Americas but were brought here from Europe. What makes them fascinating is how, what seems like thousands of them, fly in strange formations.There is no way not feel cheered while watching these birds fly.

It hit me while I was staring up in to the sky while sitting on the back of a horse. I believe I could see the Light while I was looking from the bottom of the well.

Look at this, it's me, walking away.
Look at you drowning, on display.
every time I've dropped by, I've tried to say
the water is rising.
you don't want to stay.

It's that sinking feeling. you know what it's bringing on.
you might as well say it,
I see it, I feel it.
this town is going wrong.
it's turning away.


the track mall gang went off
on the Tennessee goth. a lunar moth,
you chrysalis and flail.
the water is rising. you try to rappel.
a rousing cheer for the boy in the well.

it's that sinking feeling. you know what it's bringing on.
you might as well say it,
I see it, I feel it.
this town is going wrong.
it's turning away.


here is where I look back.
here is where you fell.
this is where I got up,
shaking off my tail
this is where your rope trick
started to look stale.
a greyhound pass for the boy in the well.

it's that sinking feeling
you know what it's bringing on
I might as well say it.
I see it, I feel it
this town is going wrong.
it's turning away.