Murphy Monday: The First Jump

Oh Hai.

11 days old.  Nope. Not shy.

It was gray and rainy yesterday. Mostly dry, but cloudy over night. Since the presentation arena was in use, Murphy got his first introduction to the grass paddock. His surprise was evident at the change in traction from sand to grass, but he adjusted himself quickly, and off he went, surefooted.

Mom. You went right by…this. What is…this?

Mom is ignoring me. Mommmmmmm. There’s this big black thing and I don’t know what…

Oh.

I know what it is!  It’s FUN!  I wanna do this again. Mom look. Look look look I can jump!

I can FLY…

There goes mom again. Whatever. Tried it. Didn’t do much for me.  What’s over there?

This is my Auntie Jane. Did you know humans were collapsible? Really.  They fold up. Sometimes they’re as tall as my mom and sometimes they are as short as me.

Thanks for taking our picture, Shaun…

The Pet Library

The 1960’s were a time in which, if something could be imagined, it could be done.

For proof see:

  1. Paper dresses
  2. The Grateful Dead
  3. A lot of unwashed, hairy, natural, armpits.

What we didn’t know then: some things are better left in the imagination stage.

My mother is not an animal person. She’s never had a bond with an animal. Not her fault, just the way she is wired and was brought up. Maybe she never met the right animal. My dad was an animal person. Unfortunately, it was a matriarchal household.

I do give my mom a lot of credit.  Despite her fear or dislike of certain animals, she thought it would be good if we kids grew up unafraid of animals. She stuck with things that could be contained in a tank.

“Moooom….”, I would whine, “I want a pony, puhleeeeze….?  I’ll do anything.”

“Jane”, my mom would say with fake cheer, “how about some nice guppies?”

Any ten-year-old who is still playing the I Want A Pony tape is going to be stumped by a come back of “guppies”.  It made me wonder about my mother’s sanity. Who comes back with “guppy” in a negotiation about ponies?

Pony = Heaven, Cloud Nine, and World Peace

Guppy = dirty fish tank that stinks. Plus, they are suicidal. (I eventually gave in on the guppies, so when they didn’t work out, I’d have pony leverage.)

What is wrong with her?

My brothers had turtles in a tank. I suspect my mom was slightly masochistic.  She also let them have snakes, as long as the tanks were outside.

One day, after a particularly grouchy I Need A Pony fight, my mom said: “why can’t you be happy with fish?”

I replied, “I want something warm-blooded, that you can hold. Like a mammal.”

She was stunned that I knew what a mammal was, and felt she should reward this somehow. She checked with her friends.  Maybe I could “borrow” someone’s hamster for a week.  That’s how she found out about the pet library.

Apparently some groovy nature-loving hippie thought it would be a great idea if kids could check animals out for a couple of weeks.  Just like a book library!  You went in, got a card, and began checking out animals. That way, you could see if you liked guinea pigs before you bought one, therefore potentially saving a life.

Parents, in those days, often took Rover out to a nice home at a farm, where he had lots of room to roam.  A farm that we never managed to visit.

Armed with my new Pet Library card, accompanied by my reluctant mother, we hit the Pet Library.

I think: Ooooooooo….rats!  Aren’t they cute?  Look at those twitchy whiskers!

I look at my mom.

“Plague” is written on her forehead in black Gothic letters. I keep my mouth shut. No rats.

There’s a tiny, golden brown hamster sitting on its haunches, itty-bitty hands up by his mouth, cheeks bulging, stuffing himself with food.

Involuntarily, my mom says “He looks like that cartoon.”

Jane sees big, flashing, red arrow pointing down at golden hamster. “That’s the one I want to check out, mom!”, I say with as much excitement as possible.  “How did you  know?!”

Her face falls. She studies the hamster closely.  I see an Ixnay forming on the horizon. Drat. The librarian walks up. “Isn’t he adorable?”, she says. “That’s Howard.”

“Do you have anything smaller?”, my mom asks.

That’s when I know Howard is coming home with us.  The only mammal smaller than Howard is a mouse. If rats = Bubonic Plague, mice = Polio, minimum.

An hour later, after a lot of imploring by mom to check out the cute little lizard in a tank, we walk out with Howard The Promised Mammal Hamster, in his cage, with a bag of food, and list of care instructions.

I eye the rabbit on the way out the door.  If I take exemplary care of Howard, maybe my mom will cave in on a cute little Easter bunny? Eventually?

I sit on my hands the entire return drive, so I will not reach into the back seat, and remove Howard from his cage.

I think the fight is over.

Continue reading “The Pet Library”

Sorry For the Interruption, I Need to Get a Few Things Straight With Jane

Dear Jane,

I must resort, once again, to hacking into your blog to communicate with you.

Why can’t you read minds? Humans.  So developmentally impaired.

On Worming:

  1. I fail to see the humor in worming paste.
  2. You squirt nasty paste in my mouth, put me out on grass, and hope I won’t remember an hour later? Daisy is correct: I am still pissed. (I hacked your texts too.) It gave me more time to plan my retaliation over a leisurely snack.
  3. If you come back smelling like Barbie, retaliation turns into revenge: you hoped I’d forget, and went to visit another horse? I don’t think so.
  4. I hate it when you pull the “Gentleman” card. You told that cute red mare’s mom I was a complete gentleman.  Now I have to wait to retaliate until red mare is out of sight.

On Riding:

  1. Don’t. It’s not pretty.
  2. If you insist, could you please sit straight?
  3. I. Am. A. Saint. If I give you a hard time, it’s because YOU are driving the Saint insane.
  4. Fine. I give you points for not correcting me when you screw up.
  5. Okay. Points for trying. And I admit, you do listen.
  6. I don’t feel like running until I’m saddled and finished yawning. What’s the fun of running in turnout?  I like the company. It’s more fun if we do it together. (BTW, what is a “Migraine”, and why should I care?)
  7. It’s highly unfortunate that I am a Gentleman, I can’t in good conscience retaliate. It’s the curse of having principles. See #1 above.

Miscellaneous:

  1. I might like the OCD grooming. Don’t let it go to your head.
  2. Who knocked up Barbie?  (Of course I know, I have a superior sense of smell.)
  3. We need to move. I practically raised Barbie, I need to oversee our foal’s education.
  4. If you fed me more, my neck wouldn’t be sore. I’m constantly, desperately, searching for food.  I have to twist my neck to get through all the obstacles between my stomach and the green stuff.
  5. I hate your grass destroyer.  HATE.
  6. I’ll try to say this delicately: check the bathroom scale.
  7. Yeah, you failed in the leaping from horse to horse thing.  You surprised me.  I didn’t think you had a ounce of daring. I’m rather proud of you for trying. Can we do that again?  (Lose the spurs, and no boots please).
  8. FYI, if you don’t want me to bite, don’t use a girth. Even gentlemen lose their tempers under torture.
  9. I need a massage. And grass. Hey, I heard you can trailer-in to the race track, and they’ll let you breeze during the off hours. Can we go?

Dinero and I have a request.  Please put a steer in our paddock. We’re, uh…lonely. We need a…pet.  Preferably a fast…pet.

(Nudge)

Hudson

When Navigators Go Bad…

I started out positive: I am driving to San Francisco airport, to pick someone up.

I have SFO phobia: the parking garage entrances, levels and roundabouts put Mad-Scientist Rat-Maze Creators to shame. The good news: it’s during the day.  I can see the airport from the freeway. The bad news: it will be the height of rush hour traffic when I hit the section in which you must change freeways three times in a mile and a half.

It will be rush hour on all three freeways.

I can feel the anxiety building.

Coping strategy #1: Over Plan

  1. Remind self I can read. The freeway is littered with helpful signs saying “Airport, This Way”.
  2. Paper map: in car.
  3. Check SFO website for possible “renovation” detours: all clear.
  4. Test navigator, to make sure it’s working: FYI, new place has GOOD ice cream!
  5. Double check I have all car/cell plugs and ear piece: charged and ready.
  6. Print out of flight info: check
  7. Visualize my favorite parts of the drive: beautiful!
  8. Call Daisy, sob hysterically, moan “I’m LOST!  I’m LOST!” (preparations include “pre-panicking”, so if I run into a glitch, I can remind myself I’ve already panicked: don’t need to do it again.)
  9. Daisy promises to be my backup, available by phone for consultation. She’s the best therapist friend ever!
  10. Stock the car with Diet Coke. Caffeine.

Coping strategy #2: Denial

  1. This is easy.
  2. I’m going to be fine.
  3. I will enjoy the drive.
  4. Hey, I’m leaving 3 hours early, in case I get lost.  What could go wrong?
  5. I might even get there early enough to kill Zombies!

You can’t reason with a Phobia.  They fight you for the neurological driver’s seat, and the best one can do is respond to the ensuing stupid, idiotic, embarrassing panic is to remind Phobia there are back ups to the back ups.  I’ve over planned, Daisy is on call, paper maps, and a voice in my ear directing: “In two miles, take exit 43B and prepare to turn left.”

Once I’m on US 101 south to San Francisco, I roll my shoulders, tell myself to relax and enjoy the beautiful day.  This goes incredibly well.  I relax.

Until.

Continue reading “When Navigators Go Bad…”

Please Hold While We Find Out Why TLH Is Showing Up in Russian…

Ok. That was strange. I think it’s fixed now? Can you read this?

If so: self-healing blog.

Every post I tried to write yesterday came out in the characters of the Russian alphabet. I admit I have some strange personal issues with interrupting the electrical flow of…uh….electricity (how’s that for a brilliant statement?).

I have 7 watches.  I regularly replace the batteries in all 7. This is a major life problem: I have no sense of time. I put on watch, and the battery goes Hari-Kari within hours. Apparently, I scare the life out of batteries.

It would be a great Super Hero power, if it had any practical use other than increasing the coffers of the battery manufacturers. Let me know if you figure one out.  I’ll have a cape made: Battery Destructo Woman!

Our pantry is full of light bulbs. Shaun turns on a lamp, and it works. I turn on a lamp, the bulb freaks out and commits suicide.

This worries me. But so far the computer, TV, cell phone, and car all seem to be unaffected. Maybe they aren’t as intimidated by me as lightbulbs and batteries.

This is why, when the blog showed up in Russian, why I went right to Uh-Oh.  My electronic Kappowee abilities are expanding! I didn’t immediately assume it was a WordPress glitch, or an internet hiccup.

For whatever reason, TLH attracts most of its spam from Russia. Where, it seems, this blog looks like a big money-maker for X-rated entertainment.  (Those thingies over my head are huge question marks.)

I figured all bloggers were getting swamped by X-rated Russian spammers. So I asked a few. Nope. Just TLH.

I mean, Hudson is cute and all, but…really?

Hopefully this will post, and you won’t wonder where the heck I am.

(I’m blowing up watches and light bulbs when I’m not here, FYI.)

Windex Does Strange Things to Your Brain…

If you missed yesterday’s post, read it here. It’s good background info.

Bella hurt her back, so I’ve ponied or ridden Dinero often, so she can heal. He’s a doll, it’s very fun.  I love to watch the boys tease each other incessantly on our pony walks.

Lately, I’ve been sick, or very tired. This leads to something I call “Jane-Thinking”.

It should come as no surprise, that while sitting on Hudson bareback, and ponying a tack-less Dinero, I’ve been contemplating how much easier it would be to switch horses (ride Dinero, pony Hudson) without having to get off and on again.

Yes. You read that correctly.

They’re right next to each other. Two naked backs only inches apart. They can both be ridden in halters.

I used to do this as a kid.

The horses are not going to care. Be a bit surprised maybe, but no flipping out.

Until Windex day, I dismissed the idea outright.  Why? Because I’m 53. I probably haven’t done that for 40 years. Might not work out as well as I magically think.

On Windex day, this is a completely inspired solution.  No having to find a fence to backward climb while handling two horses! Just switch.  Easy.

I decided to perform this feat (I’m telling you, Windex messes with your brain) while inside an arena, facing an open gate. I was on Hudson, who wanted to go out the gate. I was switching to Dinero, a foot or so down, who wanted dinner. Which  also happened to be outside the gate.

Because I thought this through so well, I had a saddle on Hudson, which got in the way while I prepared to get off on the wrong side.  Both horses turned their heads to the space between them, with big question marks over their heads.

Hudson was clearly broadcasting: mom. wrong side.

Dinero was looking at me with benign interest.

I’m sitting sideways on the saddle, thinking I probably should not use the remaining stirrup as a launching pad. Instead, I kinda, sorta, fling my right leg above Dinero’s back.

That’s when I remember the difference between being 13 and being 53. What is it about being mid-air  that snaps one back to reality?

My right leg is the bum leg.  It’s numb. I won’t be able to feel if I made it or not.

Abort! Abort!

Luckily, I stick the landing.  I land on my feet in the 3″ space between the horses. Immediate grumbling about rude humans who shove their way into personal space.

This should stop me from ever trying it again.

But it’s Windex day.

I know! Next time I will make sure neither of them have saddles or bridles…then I can just sail over.

Right?

 

Jane’s Letter to Hudson on Grooming

Dear Hudson,

Trust me.  I hear you loud and clear.  Daily.

Let me explain.

On the grooming: it gets you out of a much worse torture; the bath.

On the one hand: daily thorough grooming.  On the other hand: getting drenched with cold water, lathered up, scrubbed, rinsed, cream-rinsed, re-drenched, show-sheened, face washed, forced to stand around in  the sun until dry. Or worse: all the above, drenched with cold water, and having a cooler thrown over you to help you dry because it’s raining.

30 minutes a day is a small price to pay, don’t you think? Without the every-inch-thorough grooming, I wouldn’t have found that abscess. I also wouldn’t know the Ted Bundy of horses in the next paddock got his chompers on your butt, and gave you a sore lump the size of Texas.

It’s not like I pick off minute specks of dirt with a Q-tip. Hellooo?  Curry and brushes. Tail only when I can wash it. Mane, ditto. And don’t give me any crap about the towel. (Eye rolling.)

You dope, I don’t towel you for the grooming aspect.  I do it because you like it. Your lips get all wiggly, your eyes close, and you look like a little foal enjoying a grooming by his mother.

Do you realize you have not had a bath since September? I don’t care all that much about mud.  Hellooo…I’m the person who turns you out to roll. Daily grooming keeps the mud from drying out your skin. You might not have noticed, but I leave the dried mud on your legs when it’s soupy, to help prevent scratches.

Next time you are down at the barn, please note the show Arabs lined up at the wash rack: they are bathed daily in all weather, have their manes and tails wrapped 24/7, are clipped every other second, and are not allowed to roll.  Ever.  They might break a hair. They never go bootless or bell-less.  They do not gallop. They must lunge before every ride. They always have to be on. No ambling in the sunshine for them.  Their coats could get sunburned.

You are a lucky guy. I’m trying to save you unpleasantness.  But hey, if you want to eat your (normal) amount of grain while being groomed, fine.

Ixnay on the trash can-ay.

(Honestly? Sorry you hate the grooming. But we gotta.  Can you work with me here?)

On the cattle drive:

We can’t go. I got sick again. I know, I know. I’m sorry.

(FYI, I would be more mortified than you, if I fell off in front of the other cow horses. Trust me, that’s a needless worry.)

How about if I come keep you company while Dinero is gone?

You know, the big arena is dry now.  You know what that means…

GALLOP! You wanna?? Maybe find some turkeys to chase?

love,

Jane

A Few Words from Hudson on Grooming and The Cattle Drive

What Jane said about spring yesterday?  Yeah, good.  Whatever. Sunshine, butterflies, clouds and kittens. Yawn.

Jane, we need to have a little chat.

Grooming overview:

  • Mud is good. A little mud won’t hurt a guy.
  • Mud gives a dude that tough, rough, and ready look.
  • You don’t have to understand. It’s a cowboy thing.

Bring me in, scrape a square off my back, and throw on the gear, okay? Five minutes for grooming, max. No half-an-hour stuff.  Let’s GO. When did you decide I need a daily show-horse grooming? Do you know how much galloping time we lose? I’m a camping dude. I don’t care if there is a tree branch in my tail or my mane is sticking straight up.

No one cares if I look like a horse cutout of the Great Salt Flats. No. One.  Especially me. Fine. I like a good grooming. Say, 15 minutes, once a week.  If you’re going to do this daily curry, use-every-stupid-brush-in-the-box regimen, (hellooooo, just do the itchy parts, K?), followed by toweling, you must put food in front of me.

Lots of food.  A trash can full is appropriate.

Grooming Golden Rule:

The food must outlast the time it takes you to “groom”. It should also be grain.  And carrots.  Fine to toss in a few cookies. Please remember I hate apples.

I totally freaked out because of you. I should not be able to see any part of my face reflected anywhere in my coat.  I thought another horse was leaping out of my shoulder! That’s sick. And wrong. Jeeze.  Can’t a guy scratch an itch without having a heart attack? C’mon, Jane.

Thank god I’m shedding.  Finally. Bye, bye hearts. Use the shedding blade on those please. Frequently.  In fact, forget the rest of the grooming, I’ll live with mud under the saddle pad. Concentrate on shedding out those hearts my long hair.

I think Vlad’s mom has a Furminator.  Borrow it.

Now.  About moving cows this coming Sunday.

  1. I should be appropriately muddy.
  2. There will be cows: that’s what a cattle drive is.  Moving cows.  K?
  3. I am a cow horse.
  4. Do what the real cowgirls say.
  5. Let me do my job.
  6. Do NOT fall off. I repeat.  DO NOT FALL OFF.
  7. You may not embarrass me in front of the other cow horses.
  8. Blend in. Try to look like a cowgirl, maybe the other horses won’t notice the DQ aura.
  9. Don’t pretend you know what you’re doing.
  10. Do act like you can handle it. You can. You have me. ‘Nuff said.

Got it, Jane? Ixnay on the groomingay, and relax, I can do cows in my sleep.

Oh crap. Make sure you borrow tack from Bella.

If you try to ride in your dressage saddle, I will, um, accidentally…nevermind. Let’s get clear: I will BUCK you off.

Mortal Illness, Entertaining, The Great Flood, and How I Managed to Not Get Electrocuted

(Apologies for the delay in programming: see title for instant explanation.)

I believe where we last left off, I was sick enough to volunteer for the Undead Hotline. Then Shaun got sick.  In another part of the country.  The kids got sick.  Shaun came home and we had a germ exchange program in place. You haven’t had this flu strain?  Oh here, let’s switch. The Three Stooges had nothing on us.  Seriously.

We warned our impending visitors (also family), but they figured it was okay, they’d already had all the strains this year.

I reviewed their itinerary when I got it, a few days before arrival.  Notice they are arriving at Wrong Airport in the town of Far, Far, Away, at midnight. Flurry of phone calls and transportation research.  Luckily, a genius family member (not me) figures out how to get the tickets changed to SFO, which is only two hours away.  Phew.

At this point, Shaun hasn’t entered the virus exchange program, so she can pick them up. Did I mention this fabulous trip to sunny California was a birthday gift to a family member who lives in the land of Eternal Snow?

It’s pouring rain.  Driving rain. Wipers on high, drive-slowly rain. It continues to rain at this intensity for the duration of their stay.  The sun finally whipped out into an insanely clear, blue sky just as I turn the ignition over in the car to take family on the two-hour drive back to the airport on departure day.

With their new best friends. Unfortunately, they were mistaken about which virus strains they’d had.

What better vacation than one that drenches you, infects you, and then sends  you home with individual, industrial-sized boxes of tissues?  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

Oy.

We’re a determined bunch. Despite the family propensity for car sickness, we do a driving tour of San Francisco (A few hills, a few turns, what’s the problem?), Highway 1 (a few hills, a few turns, what’s the problem?) and the giant redwood forest (ditto).

In between, we all collapsed in the living room, waited for our green tinges to subside, and watched coverage of the horrific devastation in Japan, where we have (luckily, as safe as one can be there now) relatives.

Did I mention Happy Birthday?

As soon as the terminal doors closed on them, the sky clouded over, and it rained. The ground is fully saturated.  There are mudslide warnings in some areas. I watched as the street drains became overwhelmed, until there was no where for the water to go.

Except…out of the street, across our lawn, and under our house.

This is how I ended up underneath our house, sneezing and coughing, sitting in 4 inches of water, holding an electrical cord in one hand, and a paper booklet of instructions on how to hook up a water pump. In Chinese. (Also, French, Spanish, and Italian.)

  • This is what I can say in:
  • French: you are stupid, and not very nice.
  • Spanish: hey, you want a tamale? Pork, chicken, or cheese?
  • Italian: my mother! Very good. Hello?
  • Chinese: Happy new  year!

I couldn’t find any of these phrases in my  booklet. Therefore, I felt totally incompetent.

I look at the diagrams. Hey! A phrase in English! Petroleum Jelly accompanied by red arrows pointing to a disassembled pump interior.

You have GOT to be kidding me.  I have to take the pump apart, put Vaseline inside, and put it back together to prime it?

Yes.

Problem.  Two hands, one of which is holding electrical cord.  I toss the instructions onto the water, crawl/slosh out from under the house, unscrew the pump housing, and smear Vaseline inside. Put it all back together.  Hoses are already in place.  All I have to do is hook them up, place the pump, duct tape the bejesus out of the electrical cord to a high pipe, crawl/slosh out, and plug in the extension cord.

It worked!

Until the motor burned out on the pump. The one the hardware store assured us would be able to handle this volume of water.

Back to hardware store.

That was yesterday. Today? Sunny.  Blue sky.  A few scattered puffy white clouds. Spontaneous wading pool removed from foundation, and I’m not electrocuted.

It’s a miracle!

(And I missed you.)