friday nite peace

Last week was Not So Good.  Let’s just say the Not-So-Good part started at Sudden Onset of Extreme Dizzinesss, went directly to Extreme Panic, made a bee-line for the ER with help from the serendipitous timing of a visit from my dearest long-long-time friend, and then ended with the realization that I am a Mo-ron.

This realization made me feel a lot better right away.  Although to arrive at it, I had to ride my spinning carousel of a living room while trying to focus my spinning eyeballs long enough to research my predicament on my spinning computer.

Now, after almost two weeks after fixing the Mo-ron part, which means going back on the SSRI I had inadvertently stopped taking cold-turkey, which was the cause of the dizziness, I am feeling like My Old Self,  Which is, as you know, mostly OK with some not OK parts.  Bottom line:  Drugs are good, at least for now.

So this week I have been spending a lot of time just being thankful for my life. For being able to watch summer evening sunsets from my front porch, work at a job that is enjoyable and pays me well enough to afford my front porch and drugs, have my lovely Mommy close by and willing to come babysit me anytime I need her, have a great big, sweet horse to ride, and have the comfort and support of my dear friend who I have just simply adored for about 42 years or so now, exactly when I needed her here, even though she lives 3000 miles away.

Tonight, Friday, the end of a busy and so-much-better week, I am reminded of something I wrote a few years ago while in a similar state of under the influence of gratitude.
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About 25 years ago, when I was more of a City Girl, I used to go with a friend to the Sacramento Symphony on Friday nights. We would get all gussied up in fancy dresses and jewelry (hers) and drive a red BMW convertible (hers) and act like Real Women of Culture And Sophistication. I loved the symphony.

At that time, I was also wearing suits and pumps to work, studying piano, taking college courses at night, buying my fingernails, living in a townhouse, and probably smelling better overall.

Fast forward to now. I still consider myself to be a Real Woman, but it occurs to me that the Culture and Sophistication parts have officially hightailed it out of here, as far from my present being as my feet are from their next pedicure.  The little black dress, good jewelry and convertible replaced by riding pants, boots, and my dirty beater SUV, I head out on a Friday night to different sort of symphony — dusty old Garth Brooks hits blaring from a loudspeaker.  I sit on a garage sale-quality dinette chair, eat a home-made pulled pork sandwich courtesy of Daisy’s Chuck Wagon, and watch local horse people do team penning.

  • Team = Two or three riders and their horses
  • Penning = separating a single young cow from a herd at one end of the arena and moving it down to the other end, into a pen.

The team sits waiting at one end of the arena.  When given the go-ahead by the announcer, they start walking, trotting, loping or galloping (depending on the horse and/or rider’s desire to actually get close to those cows) toward the herd of terrified or bored (depending on the cow) cows at the other end. The cows are wearing numbers, zero to nine. There are several of each number. The announcer calls the number of the cow to be penned when the riders have started down toward the herd.

The teams have to find one cow with the correct number, cut that cow out of the herd and then make it go by itself to the other end of the arena. Since the cows know by Herd Instinct that they are safer if they stick together (safer from what, one wonders, when the closest thing to a cow predator within miles is Daisy herself, and she’s busy with pork), the cut cow will try its hardest to get back to the herd, in which case the rider’s job is to yell “HAH HAH HAH YIP YIP YIP” and jerk their horse’s head around trying to get them to track the cow and scare it down the arena and into the pen.  The horse’s job is to either to be obedient to the rider’s jerking or jerk the rider around in a bucking frenzy. Which is way more fun to watch if you are the audience. Definitely more fun if you are the horse.

Or, the cut cow just won’t care anymore since it has been doing this team penning crap every Friday night for 6 weeks in a row and the outcome is inevitable — it gets driven down to the other end of arena, goes into the pen, waits for the applause, and then toodles on back to the herd. So the cow just plods along resignedly in a Just-Shoot-Me stupor, infuriating the rider who wanted to show off his riding skills and giving the horse a much-needed break from getting his head jerked around by those same riding skills.

And this goes on for hours, as long as there are teams that want to pen, and the cows are still awake. Long past sundown, and into the wee hours possibly. I don’t know, I didn’t stay until the end. But when I left, Garth was still singing and I thought this was just a way cooler Friday night than the symphony ever was.

Killing Me Softly (a.k.a. Yoga)

Yesterday was a Red Letter Day.

I think.  I have always thought of a Red Letter Day as a day chock full of pleasant surprises, but just to make sure what I write is as accurate as my wisdom-wrapped-up-in-nonsense can be, I looked up the meaning of the phrase.

I love Wikipedia for this sort of serious academic research, but this time I chose instead some obscure UK site.  Because I thought the British description would be more interesting. Because of their penchant for misspelling common English words over there.

Red-letter day*

Meaning

In earlier times a church festival or saint’s day; more recently, any special day.

Origin

This comes from the practise (see, told you) of marking the dates of church festivals on calendars in red.

The first explicit reference to the term in print that we have comes from America. This is a simple use of the term “Red letter day” in the diary of Sarah Knight – The journals of Madam Knight, and Rev. Mr. Buckingham … written in 1704 & 1710, which was published in American Speech in 1940.

(aside:  wondering what Madam Knight had to say in her journal about her red-letter day with the Rev. Mr. Buckingham in 1704 and/or 1710.  historical novel fodder.  Oh Wait.  Dim memory of an English lit class.  The Scarlet Letter.  Dang, Hawthorne beat me to it.)

The practise is much earlier than that though. William Caxton, referred to it in The boke of Eneydos, translated and printed in 1490:

 “We wryte yet in oure kalenders the hyghe festes wyth rede lettres of purpre.”  This makes no sense to me whatsover, assuming purpre = purple.  I am now too lazy to look it up.  But it doesn’t have to make sense to me —  I am studying Spanish, not Olde English.

Back to My Hyghe Fest Day

First, I got to work at home instead having to go in to the office.   This is good because I didn’t have to drive my always-a-potential-adventure-in-panic  commmmuuuuuuttttttteeeeeee, all the way from my little ranch in the boonies to midtown Sacramento.  Plus I get to play music as loud as I want while I’m working.  Plus I get a lot of work done while The Black Thing (my beast of a bloodhound) snores contentedly on my feet.

Then I went to visit my horse “Big”, who, having had some joint injections the day before, needed some bandages removed.  This was good because Big stood still while I used scissors around his hooves, which is always a potential adventure, especially when the horse is, well, big.

Then I went to Walmart.  Always a potential adventure, but I was on a mission — to get a Walmart manicure inside of 40 minutes (40 being the maximum manageable number, even though I was already reliably Rx-ed, in anticipation of the onset of panic to be caused by the enjoyable relaxation of a manicure countered by the crowd of Women of Walmart already packed like large, interestingly dressed mani-pedi-ing sardines in the little salon) by my favorite manicurist Kevin.  Who is Vietnamese.  No surprise there.  Except for his name.  He has a different given name I’m certain.  I asked him what his real name is, and he just smiled,  shook his head side to side, said “No No No” as if he was already suffering my butchering of his name in an attempt to pronounce it.  What Kevin doesn’t know is [1]  I work hard at pronouncing correctly the proper names of all cultures, and [2] if I can say Merry Christmas in correctly pronounced Korean**, then I can surely not butcher his name.

40 minutes later, manicured in hot flamingo coral to honor today’s 4th of July fireworks that are an Extreme Fire Danger and therefore against the law in my county, I headed to my first ever yoga class.  At a training stable.  During a warm evening after a 90-plus degree day.  In a barn.  Upstairs in a loft that was behaving suspiciously like a sauna.

Even though it killed me temporarily, I loved LOVED loved the yoga stuff.  I could not actually do any of it.  Well, hardly.  I could do the sitting cross-legged while breathing position and the laying down while breathing position.    But I loved the quiet confidence, reassurance and encouragement of my friend and fella horse rider Jackie who was instructing the class — I’m wondering if I call her Sensei or something like that — I’ll text her and ask — and I loved the trying to do it.  Even though most of it was pretty much torture, I liked it and I kept trying.  And I really liked that I kept trying.    And I was introduced to some of the position names which I now forget.  Get Down Dancing Dog, Wonder Woman, Warrior One (maybe that’s Wonder Woman), Surfer (maybe that’s Warrier Two, or Three), and Child something, among others.  Each of the positions were very hard for me to do,  but I can see how with practice I could get this (I don’t know if I have that many years left on the planet but surely it is good for me and should extend my planet time, dontcha think?) and be just as graceful as Jackie.

But never as tall as Jackie.  She is very tall and very lean and very limber and exceedingly graceful, both in yoga and on horseback.  I hate her.  But I adore her.  I am guessing Jackie has the perfect physical conformation for yoga.  My present physical conformation is only perfect for writing while seated super comfortably in my big super comfortable leather chair.  And, maybe, for riding my big Big.

Now, I’m typing my hot flamingo coral fingernails over to an on-line Yoga Mart to order a good yoga mat and some cute, short-round-person yoga clothes.  And some East Indian jewelry.   And some incense.

*http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/red-letter-day.html

**당신에게 크리스마스 축하!  (Tang-shin-eh-geh ku-ri-su-ma-su chuk-ha!)

I love science. except when it is gooey and smelly.

I have my very own Museum of Natural History right here in my home.
Normal people might call it a refrigerator.
I discovered the Museum when I started to clean the fridge, after I came home this afternoon with brand spanking new groceries. And found an ancient Museum artifact taking up the space where I wanted the brand spanking new eggs to go.
The complete evolution of food —
1. Real food = future expiration date. Or, I’m sure it’s still food because I just put it in there yesterday.
2. Questionable food = past expiration date but not quite ancient history. Yet. This category includes what might be considered real food except it is elk meat, or fish with heads/eyeballs intact. Expiration date notwithstanding. Whatsoever.
3. Produce that has composted. Inside the fridge. Which is a phenomenon worthy of a museum, since normal planets require heat to make compost.
4. Ancient history food = still looks something like food but only because it is petrified. Expiration date > 3 yrs ago.
5. Bug corpses. I count them as food since there are lizards in the kitchen who would consider them food.
6. Unrecognizable congealed globs of brown, mossy green and black liquid. Or, basically, the lowest form of food. Or, basically, how all living things end up.

20/20 vision but not in my eyes

I don’t see well, never have.  Discovered that I was nearsighted while in elementary school.

From kindergarten through fourth grade, my kid persona  was the epitome of the teacher’s pet — smart, obedient, studious, attentive, shy but friendly when friendlied-to.     My teachers called on me frequently and  I always knew the answers to their questions.  I basked in the little-kid glory of getting the best grades in most of my classes.  I loved loved loved school.

Then starting in fifth grade, I became inattentive and disruptive.   I didn’t know all the answers, didn’t raise my hand as much.  I got scolded by my teacher Mrs. Bryant for chatting with my neighbors.  And getting called out for bad behavior by Mrs. Bryant, who I adored and whose praise my nine-year-old self lived for, was utmost humiliation.  My young self-esteem was all about being the smartest and best-behaved kid in the class.  Suddenly I was becoming one of the kids that was always getting yelled at.  Soon I would join the ranks of delinquents in the walk of shame to the Principal’s Office.  What had happened?  How did I get started on a downhill slide to Kid Skid Row?

It was all because of where I was seated in the classroom. From grades one through four, my desk was always near the front of the classroom, close to the action at the blackboard.   In fifth grade, my desk was in the rear of the classroom.  Mrs. Bryant apparently got a clue, recommending that I get my eyes tested.  I couldn’t see the blackboard or make eye contact with the teacher from the back of the room.  So I disengaged.

A few weeks later, I was wearing winged cat-eyed montrosities that were the latest fashion in 1960’s eyewear …

fashion eyewear in the olden days

fashion eyewear in the olden days … mine were light blue frames topped with white wings

… and happily on a climb back up the teacher’s pet ladder.

Now my eyes have an even harder time.   Since I am old.  Each lens in my glasses contains three different prescriptions — long distance, medium distance for arm’s length, and short distance for reading.  I have no idea what my 20/whatever is, but it must be very bad.

I’m writing in this direction today because I got laid off yesterday.  Good for me,  because I hated that job and the organizational culture I was working in.  Scary for me, too, because I don’t have another job and I am not made of money (yet).

But, great again because God  has a way of leading me, whether I think His timing of particular events makes sense or not.  It can feel a bit like whiplash …. “Wait … what?” … but now I get to put my minds’-eye where my mouth is.   And my mind’s-eye vision is usually perfectly clear. In its landscape, I see 20/20.  In that clarity, I believe I see what God has in mind for my life.

So, time to put the visualization thing to work again.  It has worked before.  For example, from 1990-1996, I lived in a small, semi-dumpy townhouse.  My master bedroom window directly overlooked a busy street.  I lived 5 minutes from the grocery store and right next door to a pair of teenage brothers whose extracurricular activities included vandalizing cars.  Including mine.

I knew that place was not my real home.  I started visualizing where I wanted to live.  I journaled about it and kept the written pages with me at all times.

4 Jan 1996
My dreams come from God and God has the power to accomplish them.
My creativity heals myself and others.
There is a divine plan of goodness for me.  There is a divine plan of goodness for my work.
 
My dreams for my life are simple and achievable.  Sometimes what I want is so clear and so close.  I don’t know how to get there but I think if I see myself living the life I want, that is the only way to get started.  I seem to be able to create, to think creatively, to live beyond just existing.  But there is something missing — the real plan, the road.  I’m going to start seeing it, visualizing it every day, writing it down, telling myself over and over again what will happen, how I will live my life and place the inch pebbles that will get me there. 
 
My home is a small place in the country.  There are lots of trees, maybe an orchard.  The house has lots of light and a fireplace, not too many rooms but they’re large and there’s room for guests.  I have a good kitchen and a nice room to work in.  The animals have their own place, too.  The kitchen has a window that overlooks the yard, maybe a small pasture where there are 1 or 2 horses.  I don’t know how the house is decorated but it is comfortable and clean, not too dressed up, formal or silly.  Things I love and things I make are all over the house.  There is some kind of porch that I can watch sunrises or sunsets from.  I have a garden and I grow vegetables and flowers.  I keep the kitchen well-stocked with food and I cook!  I have lots of animals and people enjoy visiting my home, and best of all I enjoy sharing my home with them …”

Six months after writing that, I  bought the little house that is still my home … three bedrooms on five acres in the Sierra foothills …   kitchen windows look out over pastures and there are four horses out there now … the fireplace is a wood-burning stove … i have my large watercolor quilt and original artwork hanging on my walls … room for lots of  dogs and cats and they are everywhere now, usually where they aren’t supposed to be …   my front porch faces west to great sunsets  … a huge garden area …  I have learned how to cook …

Now, I’m putting the mind’s-eye to work again on something new.  Can’t wait to see what it comes up with.

the Zen of the Parting with the Saddle

No, I didn’t fall off today.  I resurrected these from some old posts on my old blog, to keep me humble while I am trying to teach Mo how to teach me how to jump.

These were inspired by Stormy, one of my quarter horse mares, who is now a pasture ornament, while I was healing a football-sized hematoma on my backside from one of her dirty spooks.  Which is why she is now a pasture ornament.

A Haiku Poem:

Cooler day, windy
Says “Be Spooky!” to the horse
And “Eat Dirt!” to me.

Another Haiku Poem:

Neighbors have big party
Says “Act Silly!” to the horse
She does. Rider flies.

One Last Haiku Poem:

Wind blows, horse blows up
Rider now riding on air
Briefly. Hello Earth.

Okay, one more:

Hello Earth. Meet Butt.
Horse stands calmly now of course
Waiting for cookie.

me on Stormy, with Sunny our angel palomino

more Autumn … to-do lists can be fun, too

… as long as they don’t contain too much to actually do.

I am a gifted to-do list-maker.   I write to-do lists that list the to-do lists that I need to write.

Lately I am spending a lot of time looking around my farm and writing conceptual to-do lists of all the maintenance that [1]  I should be thinking about and [2]  that I should be writing the actual executable to-do lists for, that will list the actual to-dos needed to prep the farm for winter.      Usually, nothing actually comes from all of this looking and thinking and writing, but I give myself brownie points for walking around and looking at possible future when-I-am-good-and-ready farm chores.   I also give myself brownie points for having nice handwriting.

The problem is that I am a bit dyslexic when it comes to accurately writing down what I am actually seeing.

what my eyes see:  (barn needs cleaning and repair)

what I write down:

seen:  (horse-bent gate needs to be put back on its hinges)  (and turkey needs to be put in the freezer for Thanksgiving)

written:

I don’t know what it  is about autumn.   Perhaps my maternal instinct, which has never wanted anything What-So-Ev-Er to do with any actual human children, foresees the cold and wet and mud involved with winter caretaking of large outdoor-style creatures, and prefers to ignore them and care for some little indoor-style creatures inside, where it will be slightly warmer and/or not quite as wet and muddy as outside.

winter chore things

Or, more likely, my version of maternal instinct does not even wish to care for little indoor creatures as much as just to pile them in furry stacks on the bed to serve as extra pillows.  (Aside:  I don’t need them for warmth.  I am and always have been, change of life notwithstanding, Way Too Hot.   I  build a fire in my woodstove just to add cozy visual ambience to my knitting/reading nest in the living room.  The rest of my house stays at the same comfortable temperature as the one in the magic ice cube-making compartment in my fridge.)

Or my maternal instinct does desire the pitter patter of tiny feet.  Galloping in fours at top puppy- or kitten-speed away from me when I am trying to catch them to show them Pee Pee Outside or Pee Pee In The Box, depending on the young’un’s Genus.  After they have Pee Peed Inside Anywhere They Feel Like for the third time inside of 30  minutes.

Cuatro and some kitten or other

Reminds me to add something to the fall chore to-do-someday list.

There was a time a few years ago when there were usually not less than 5 animals in my bed at bedtime.  Not counting me.

I kid you not.  Meet my bed.

this is why German Shepherd Dogs are considered one of the smartest canine breeds.   the Febreze was Cuatro’s idea.

I slept so well then.  Now, with only one dog with the athletic ability to jump on my bed without assistance, and one cat who graces the very foot of my bed only now and then, and only when that dog, her favorite,  is snoring comatose nearby, I don’t sleep well at all.

So, I’m thinking  two or three kittens and a puppy should do it.

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Cisco, the best dog that ever graced my planet, with yet another some kitten or other.

welcome Autumn! or not.

I live on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, north central California.   Near Sacramento but far enough away that I can tell people I live ” in the Sierra foothills”  or perhaps the more historically exotic-sounding “near Coloma,  you know, Sutter’s Mill, where the California Gold Rush got started.”

It is the beginning of October, which means Autumn is just around the corner.   But not here.   Here,  it could be four more weeks of Too Freaking Hot Still, followed by Skipping Autumn Altogether,  directly to the Mother Of All Storms that will launch our Winter (aka Just Rain), leaving me without power and water for a few days and having me daydreaming about living in a tidy little condo with a garage and prefab landscaping maintained by someone not named Carol,  that has year round electricity and running water, and fewer opportunities for field rodent corpse pieces to find their way into my shoes.  And fewer games of lizard soccer played in my kitchen by some of my outdoor barn cats who sneak  indoors somehow during the wee hours with a soon-to-be-soccer-ball lizard buddy (scratch scramble scramble *thud*  scratch scramble scramble *thud*).  And fewer skunks following my barn cats into the kitchen to watch the game and help themselves to the inside cats’  leftovers.

I kid you not.  Meet Flower.

what’s one more cat?

Which brings me to my upcoming annual one week Autumn (or not) vacation from my day job.   This vacation will be spent cleaning house (scrubbing the kitchen floor of lizard remains-stains), doing farm prep for winter, riding a lot, working on The Book,  and of course, working incognito at my day job, since I have to take vacation to get time away from work so that I can caught up on my work.

home, when there is Autumn