Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Our friend and neighbor, Andrew, died Thanksgiving morning.  I don't know any details and his wife, Sandra, hasn't been home.  I found out through an email sent to our community which is very small -- 80 or so families. 

Andrew and Sandra (we called them Sandrew for short) lived on a corner in the Fishbowl house - everybody's place has a nickname.   The house was originally painted sky blue with many windows, few trees and was situated on a corner.  Over the years Sandra planted pepper trees, liquid ambers, roses and other shrubs.  They also painted the house olive green so it blends into the trees.  It's certainly no longer a fishbowl house but the name has stuck. 

Andrew would trail ride with a group of us a number of years ago on a his big red horse, Jake.  Unfortunately, Jake got Cushings and he was eventually lost to complications associated with that.  Andrew was heartbroken.  He tried riding Cookie, their beautiful Paint mare, but she was not very level headed and just too much work.  Andrew was looking for a partner, not a project.  He stopped riding.

Sandra doesn't ride much but she has a great eye for horses.  They always had a handful of prospects in training.  Hunter/Jumpers mostly with a few dressage horses as well.  It was fun to listen to Andrew talk about the horses.  The horses would rotate through full-time training down the mountain and being at home.  For the past six months or so there haven't been any horses at home and their place seemed awfully quiet.  Andrew was a bankruptcy attorney and ever since the economy tanked, he worked crazy hours.  He had his own practice and I don't think he knew how to say no.  Their place is between us and the trail head and they would usually be outside when we did our weekend trail ride (you have to get out of the arena sometime).  Sandra would be gardening and Andrew would be messing with the horses.  We would stop and get the update on training or setbacks -- Sophie who had beautiful gaits and was in dressage training had some very weird issue with her spine.  With the horses gone, he wasn't outside as much when we went by.

I don't know how old Andrew was.  Not old enough, that's for sure.  He was of average height, stocky and strong, with white hair and a bit of a belly.  He laughed easily and often.  We had a retirement party for Brett in the barn six years ago.  They came early and stayed late.  Sandra, who is a tiny thing, had a bit too much wine.  When it was time to go, Andrew just scooped her up in his arms and carried her home. 

I picture Andrew reunited with Jake, riding again.  He never got over Jake.  I'm happy they are together again but we sure miss him here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Short Visit

Last night we picked up Kyle and Camille from their dad's house on our way home from the airport.  They spent Thanksgiving with him this year.  Kyle was home for the holiday from school.  It was raining when we landed so the roads were slick and the drivers cautious and slow.  By the time we picked up the kids and got home it was late.  Kyle played with the puppy for a few minutes since he hadn't met her yet.  She tore around his room with one of his slippers in her mouth.  Then it was time for bed.  Sedona led the way, straight to her bed, curled up and went to sleep.  She was snoring before the light went out.  During the night the wind whistled and raced around the house.  Every so often it hurled raindrops that sounded like handfuls of sand against our window.  This morning was clear, cold and windy. 

Kyle slept until the last moment before we left for the train station to send him back to school.  We stood in the sun, trying to soak up its warmth, while we waited for the train and peered down the tracks.  His train finally came into view and crawled into the station.  The doors yawned open and Kyle disappeared inside.  Camille and I could see him making his way down the aisle, looking for a seat.  His was the tall silhouette with hood up and a backpack.  I couldn't see where he ended up sitting which was annoying.  I had no idea which window to wave at so I just waved at the train car in general as it pulled out.  On the way back to the car a breeze picked up and made my eyes water.  It made my throat catch too.  But I'm sure it was just the wind.

Friday, November 26, 2010


We are spending Thanksgiving in Colorado with Brett's daughter and her family.  Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, we drove from our hotel (a few miles from their home) over to get the turkey in the oven.  Kerri, Brett's daughter, had a 24 lb bird and I had made stuffing (apple and cran-raisins) the night before.  We got the bird stuffed and in the oven early.  At 3:00 people started arriving, enough to bring our count to 22.  In-laws, out-laws, nieces, friends - an eclectic mix of liberal, conservative, and all shades between.  Kerri's grandmother-in-law, Gigi, at 90 was the oldest.  She was spunky and full of life despite being blind and in a wheelchair.  Dinner was potluck - and Joe, who has worked on Broadway productions and is very artistic, brought pumpkin margaritas.  He had created the recipe that morning and they were awesome.  Gigi had one too.  She had to drink hers from a sippy cup but that didn't stop her.  After dinner, while I was collapsed on the couch in a fog of too much food and wine, a group, including Gigi, was in the other room singing.  Of course, it wasn't exactly Thanksgiving music.  I remember hearing an Easter song.  

Today was about football.  Not being a football fan myself, I made turkey soup.  The turkey bones simmered most of the day and I ended up with a good rich broth.  I strained it and added some simple veggies - the grandkids aren't big on exotic veggies and neither is Brett - and rice for dinner.  In a few minutes we will take the dog and the grandkids for a walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.  It's cold, below freezing, so we'll be in hats and gloves and heavy coats.

Tomorrow we fly home.  Colorado is beautiful and its been great spending time with Kerri and her family but I really miss my puppy, my horse and my pillow.

When I'm 90 I want to drink pumpkin margaritas from a sippy cup.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Celebrating 10 Years Together

Yesterday was our 10 year wedding anniversary.  It amazes me that we have been married for that long and that we are still happy and healthy and in love.  But then, it still amazes me that we are married.  When you fall in love with someone at 19, lose them multiple times, marry other people and try to forget the love of your life, have kids, fail at the other marriages and THEN it all works out...  well, the reality takes a long time to sink in I guess.  I remember thinking when we got married that if we had 10 years of health and  happiness together I would be grateful forever.  We've packed a lot into the last ten years: from camping in Yellowstone to building a house; we started  with a dog and ending up with  horses, chickens and donkeys; we've been to amazing restaurants and traveled.  Of course, it isn't always easy.  Brett is a dreamer.  He dreams of living in Wyoming or Washington on a huge ranch.  His dreams are very expensive and spending money makes me nauseous.  Brett has to deal with the fact that I am not particularly demonstrative.  I live in my head.  I can be physically present but miles away mentally and not even know where I've gone if asked.

Yesterday, we spent the morning working outside.  Brett picked up a load of hay and supplies for a couple projects.  I pruned some trees.  The dogs were underfoot.  In the afternoon we went to Laguna Beach, had an amazing dinner, walked on the beach, and slept with our hotel balcony door open so we could listen to the surf and smell the ocean.   I'm doubling my money and asking for 20 more years.  At least.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Twistin Turbo

When I bought my current horse, he came with the registered name Twistin Turbo.  That name was chosen because it described him on the longe line as a yearling.  When I brought him here as a six year old, he seemed to me to be a handsome laid-back cowboy so I gave him the barn name "Jackson."  In the year and a half that he has been here, he has been Jackson through and through.  He is very calm on the trail.  He is level-headed.  He works very hard.  And he has a heart as big as Wyoming.   On one of our first trail rides, we encountered a very steep hill strewn with boulders.  It required a running start and aggressive launching from point to point to reach the top.  Jackson carefully started up the hill, studying each boulder we encountered.  Half-way up he completely lost momentum.  Did he panic?  Of course not!  He laid down and waited for me to hop off and lead him up to the top.  But he does love to run.  He has thoroughbred blood in his veins and it shows in his "go" button.  This is another thing that makes me grin from ear to ear when we train.  I whisper the cue for canter with my leg, or I think about whispering the cue, and off we go.  
Today, Brett and I went on a trail ride.  I was concerned when we started as Jackson seemed overly careful going down hills and stepping over large logs.  These were things that caused him pain when his hock (rear leg, looks like an elbow) was injured.  This was our first time on the loop trail since his injury so I wasn't sure if it hurt or if he was just remembering and anticipating pain.  On our way back, we decided to try trotting a flat section of the trail.  Brett and Flash were in front.  They started off at a nice trot.  Jackson gave a yee-haw buck and started after them.  What the ???  He bucked??  So we walked for awhile and he seemed to settle.  Although Jackson loves to run, he is also very obedient so I agreed to give it another shot further down the trail.  Brett eased Flash into an easy canter.  Jackson gave a HUGE buck and charged out of the starting gate. We were on Flash's bumper in two strides.  Then with nowhere to go, Jackson started bucking in place.  It was the oddest thing.
I iced his hock and put him in the pasture when we got home.  He seemed to be very pleased with himself.  Twistin Turbo is alive and well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Train Ride

This afternoon I took a train back home from a meeting in San Diego.  Brett and I went down to San Diego on Wednesday, checked into the hotel, went to dinner with his sister and her husband, and then back to the hotel.  Brett got up early the next morning to get back home in time to feed the horses, dogs and other critters.  I spent the day in my meeting.  Brett came back down Thursday evening after feeding and we went out to Cafe Chloe, a French bistro in the East Village area of San Diego, and had a wonderful dinner -- great food and the restaurant is small, eclectic, warm and romantic.  This morning Brett again left at sunrise to feed.  Because he left so early, we were awake to see the sunrise across the San Diego Bay (we were on Coronado Island) both mornings and they were truly spectacular. 

I took a taxi to the San Diego train station just after noon.  I sat on a bench in the courtyard in the sun and ate my box lunch.  I kept checking my watch, anxious to board the train and be on my way.  I had a seat in business class so I had no problem getting a quiet seat by the window on the coast side of the train.  We pulled out of the station, the train swaying gently as we wound our way up the coast.  I was relaxed, happy, loving life and feeling groovy.  Honest, the song kept playing in my head.   Then at Oceanside a family boarded and took the seats across the aisle from me.  Mom, Dad and a loud 7 year old.  Dad, who was quite large, immediately left for the snack car to get pizza, pretzels and soda.  Mom stared out her window and appeared to be pretending she was somewhere else.  The kid played with his two stuffed lions.  The lions began to wrestle with each other, then to fight, then to fart on each other.  I kid you not.  The boy made the offending noises and then one lion would yell to the other "Stop farting on me!"  This went on for 15 minutes.  Mom murmured to the boy periodically.  I began to wonder where my headache pills were and how soon we would get to my stop.  We finally arrived in San Juan Capistrano after a very long 30 minutes.  I grabbed my bags and raced off the train.  Brett was waiting.  He took my bags, gave me a kiss and drove me home where its quiet and peaceful and there aren't any flatulent toy lions.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grumpy Thoughts

I've been in a grumpy mood today.  I'm sure it's due to not getting enough sleep last night.  I am a princess about my sleep requirements.  Last night was not a good night for princesses.  Brett worked a couple graveyard shifts over the weekend so he was sleep deprived.  When he is sleep deprived, he snores.  A lot.  Last night he was doing this weird snore gurgle combo thing and he wouldn't wake up and roll over despite numerous taps, prods, pokes and jabs from his increasingly frustrated wife.  So, at midnight I was laying there listening to the love of my life saw logs and then the puppy woke up and started playing in her crate.  After a while, she stopped playing and started panting.  I tried burying myself under the covers to escape the symphony of beastie noises, but that didn't work because my mid-life hormonal imbalance kicked in -- that is, I had a whopper of a hot flash.  I took the puppy outside.  She got a drink.  I cooled off.  Brett got up at 4:30 to feed the horses before going to work and took the dogs outside.  Bliss!  I had an hour of sleep with no sound except the falling rain.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lesson Day

This morning was warm and sunny; t-shirt weather so I was able to scrub Jackson's green and brown spots before our lesson without feeling guilty.  Oh, and wash his tail too.  Grey horses are SO much work to keep clean.  Why do white cars hide dirt but white horses show everything?  On our way to Riverside, Brett noticed someone in a car next to us wildly waving something at the horses in the trailer.  He thought maybe someone was taking a picture - people seem to love taking pictures of horses in trailers.  It turns out he was waving a big green apple at them -- not sure what the purpose was for that but it was pretty funny.  Our lessons went well -- Gayle worked our tails off as usual but it was a lot of fun (also as usual).  Jackson and I have finally progressed beyond working on bend at walk and trot.  Today we spent most of the lesson at canter -- WITH bend!!  Miracles do happen!  My horse is sound!  He can bend!  He can be submissive (well, okay there were a few temper tantrums but we are improving there too).  So, now we are home and it is cold and windy and foggy.  Even with a jacket on, my cheeks were stinging from the cold while I mucked the pasture.  Tonight I plan to light a fire in the wood stove, take some Aleve for my lesson induced aches and pains, and curl up on the couch with a magazine.