Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Is For Pictures

Katie is a very friendly baby, right from the start she had no fear of people and would come over to whomever came to visit her for a scratch. Here she is being coy peeking over the fence.

I love the symmetrical socks!

She's usually such a goof...

...but occasionally you can catch her in a serious pose. Hard to believe at a week old she's already tall enough to look through this window in their stall.

This is Ruby at 2 weeks old, doing her giraffe impression.

Resting in the sun.

Here she is yesterday at one month, hanging with mama in the big grassy pasture.

Here's my baby after our ride yesterday.

Finally, Wilbur here must have had a bad night...shhhhhhhhh.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Stitch in Time

Today is my 43rd birthday. I've always loved having a summer birthday, the first full day of summer, actually. Since my mother was in labor for the entire previous day and I wasn't born until 11:30 at night she likes to remind me that it was the longest day of her life, not just the year. Thanks, as always, Mom, for your insight and compassion. Did I mention the part about me being a mistake?

This past year has been one of the best years in a long time. Riding has not only brought me the newest love of my life in my beloved Mystere, it has instilled a revived sense of accomplishment and purpose, and it has also brought me into the fold of a wonderful community.

Speaking of Miss, she got her staples and stitches out on Tuesday and the wound looks great, although the scar will take some time to fade. I'll be riding her later today, a wonderful gift.

To replace those stitches, Tucker had some put in on the same day. Sometime during our trip to the dog park a piece of foxtail got embedded into one of his paws and we didn't notice until it had formed a nasty abcess, which had to be lanced and closed back up. Tucker is like a six year-old boy who is always skinning his knees: he plays so hard and doesn't care about much other than his ball, his dinner and cuddling.

Since I already have the aforementioned birthday diamond pendant necklace, we'll just be heading out to one of our favorite bistros for dinner sometime this weekend. My own Summer of Love has just started, won't you join me?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers and Fillies

I just got off the phone with my Dad. It does my heart good to talk to him now, he seems so happy in the life he's made for himself with his "second family" of his common-law wife and his teenage son. Even from a very young age I knew my parents didn't like each other very much and I always wondered why two people who had so little in common ever got together in the first place. I suppose there was a time when my mother was relatively normal, and they got together in their early 20s, but I honestly don't know how he stuck it out for 30-some-odd years of marriage before he finally left her. I know now that they both had affairs, even though all we ever heard about were the insinuations from my mother.

I realize looking back that a lot of my memories about my Dad start with a particular scent. He worked for 25 years in a large sawmill, so when he got home from work he had that earthy smell of wood and sawdust. He also taught gymnastics my whole childhood, coaching full time after he retired from the sawmill at quite an early age, since he started working there in his late teens. Although it doesn't sound good to anyone else, the way he smelled of sweat and gymnastic chalk was very comforting to me. I spent a good part of my early life in the gym and it was something we did together that helped to form the special bond we shared.

We were not the most demonstrative of families when it comes to showing affection. No kisses or hugs when sending the kids off to school or to bed, heaven forbid. Despite the moratorium on love in our household, I would always sit next to my Dad on the couch when we watched TV after dinner (my Mom sat in an armchair on the other side of the room), and he would hold my tiny hand in his large, calloused one. His hands were so rough from working with wood for so long that he could take things out of the oven without any protection.

Every kid thinks their Dad is Superman, but my Dad really COULD beat up your Dad. He was a champion bodybuilder and was a red-haired Adonis in his day. His biceps were so large that even as a teenager I couldn't put both my hands around them. He would pick me up like a barbell and raise me over his head over and over, or he would have my sister and I sit on his back while he did a hundred push-ups. Later when I started to take gymnastics seriously he was my coach for a while, and all the other kids were always so jealous when they found out that Coach Ron was my father.

I was and always will be so proud of him, for all his accomplishments despite a 9th grade education. For teaching me all about nature and to respect all living things. For being the man who could fix anything or build anything, and whose teeth spent every night next to the bathroom sink in a glass. I love you, Dad.

D's son called him today to wish him a happy father's day -- my heart is again filled.

This picture of my Dad and his mother was taken in 1950 when he was just 17.

This is one of my favorite pictures of him; he's where he loves to be, out in nature. It was taken in 1959 when he was 26 and the father of two year-old twin boys.

That's me in Daddy's arms, taken the winter of 1965 when I was a year and a half. Nice shirt, eh? My mother made outfits for my sister and I out of the remnants of that shirt a few years later. Oy.

Here's me and Dad at my wedding in July 2000. It always shocks me when I see how much he looks like what I remember my grandfather to look like now.


We just got back from the farm and Baby Horse Watch 2007 is officially over! Missy's sister Sara decided she just couldn't wait for her due date on the 21st and had her baby last night all by herself. Meet Que Sera Sera, aka Katie, 1 day old. You can't see it in either of these pictures, but she has the same star as her mama, just like Ruby and Roxie. Of course, more pictures to come.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Good News Post - Family

I know what you're thinking...a good news post about Donna's family? WTF? These miracles do happen occasionally. First, my big brother is coming to visit in a couple of weeks. Big, as in tall, and big, as in 7 years older than me. Now that my other brother is gone I feel like my sister and brother and I are a more cohesive unit. He's a software consultant and is currently working in Orange County (he lives in the Vancouver area), so he's driving up to spend the weekend with us at the end of the month instead of flying home like he usually does. I can't wait to show off at the farm. He knows nothing about horses but loves animals, like all of us kids.

The second family news came out of nowhere; well, actually it came out of Northern Ireland. Back in April my Dad's father's brother's grandson called him from a small town on the Irish Sea near Belfast. If you didn't get that convuluted connection, my grandfather and his were brothers. Probably the best news is his wife runs a B&B and he told me to save my pennies and come and stay as their guest for as long as I wanted!

My Dad told him to call me since I am the current keeper of the family history, so he emailed me and we exchanged pictures, then he called me too. He has a soft accent, much less than I was expecting. We talked for about 45 minutes and he gave me some very interesting tidbits of information, the most surprising of which goes towards my "roots of riding".

It turns out his father and his father and his father and so on back to at least the 15th century were all horsemen, specifically farriers, the guys who shoe the horses. They worked for the very wealthiest families in England and one of those families bought a large piece of land in Northern Ireland and when they moved over they brought my family's ancestors with them to continue to tend their horses. His father still works at a famous thoroughbred breeding farm to this day. He has a daughter who is a land surveyor and a son who is a professional rugby player!

He says we could spend two weeks just in graveyards. He also said you can't speak to the dead, which is why he is making an effort to get to know as much as possible the family that he's just discovered. We've continued to send emails and pictures back and forth since then. I hope he's getting as much of a kick out of this new relationship as I am.

Here's a few pictures from the area where the family has lived for generations, County Down. I just love the rolling green hills and the close proximity to my beloved ocean.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Good News Post - Animals

The finger is doing much better, although it is stiff and a bit swollen every morning when I wake up (especially if I've ridden the day before) and if you look at it from the side you can see that I can't straighten out the tip completely anymore. It will probably be like this from now on, as any injury after 40 -- humph-- won't heal quite right.
Miss now has staples in the cut in her nose, the stitches in the middle of the cut came loose and she had a pretty big bump there, but it isn't infected and isn't affecting either her appetite (that girl does love her food!) or her performance in the ring. I'm now walking and trotting on my own after a couple of lessons on the lunge line and I am just thrilled with her progress. She will stand at the cross ties for tacking up and at the mounting block like a champ. Willow tells me we are now beyond the point where she was trained before -- 3 years ago -- and she is relishing having a job. She's still a bit of a spaz at the canter, especially to the left, but once she settles in she drops her head. I took my first lesson on June 5th last much has happened in a year! Willow says I was on the accelerated plan.

Ruby is growing like a weed and is becoming quite friendly, which makes it harder to take her picture since she runs right up to me every time she sees me! Here's a shot I took of her imitating her mama Roxie. Missy's big sister Sara is due within the next two weeks. She's huge! Poor thing. This is going to be a very big baby.

After a bit of a health scare in which Tucker lost a lot of weight, his thyroid meds were adjusted down and he is now out of the danger zone. We went to the dog park yesterday. How we all love this place! It's the only off-leash park in our county that is actually a park, as opposed to a cyclone-fenced parking lot with redwood chips and a hose.

More good news to come.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Indelible Ink

D got his tattoo on Sunday, isn't it fabulous?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Diamond in the Rough

Owning a horse (a green thoroughbred mare, no less) is a bit like juggling hamsters -- a tad unpredicable. Last Monday I had a good lesson on one of the schooling horses and was just cleaning up my stuff to head up to see Miss when the farm owner whizzes up to me in her golf cart with a worried look on her face. "Missy has a cut on her nose and needs stitches," she blurts out, then speeds off to pick up Willow. I head up to her stall to find a gash in her nose, a vertical cut about 2 inches long.

It seems she was up to her usual trick of trying to steal hay from her pony neighbor by sticking her head through the bottom of the pipe fence between their stalls and cut her nose on a sharp piece of hog wire when she pulled her head out. It wasn't bleeding and she didn't seem to be in any great pain, chowing down on her dinner, so we just cleaned it and left a message for the vet to come in the morning.

I rescheduled a client visit for another day and headed down on Tuesday so I could be there to pay the vet and check on her; I would just be too worried about her all day if I didn't. The cut was a lot deeper than any of us had thought and required a double layer of stitches to close it. She was so brave! He didn't have to anesthetize her, she just stood there and let him put a needle of lidocaine right into the wound then stitch her up. I, on the other hand, got woozy at the sight of that needle and all the blood on the cleaning gauze and had to step away.

I managed to snap this picture of her with her nice shaved nose with purple stitches. D said she looks like a moose! I had a carrot in my hand and she wouldn't back up so you get the extreme closeup shot.

Here's a picture of my new necklace as well. You can hate me, just a little bit, if you want.