Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When Your Shimmy Won't Shake

    For the past six months I have been taking belly dancing classes on Monday nights.  Casey feeds the horses so I can go shimmy and shake what my momma gave me.  I really love the music and getting the chance to not worry about crap for an hour and a half.  It turns out that I'm a total natural when it comes to sucking at belly dancing.  My instructor is very patient and encouraging.  I think she has finally come to terms with the fact that it's me and not her. Surprisingly, to myself, is that fact that I'm so bad that I haven't quit yet.  I just have fun even though it looks like I'm going through self inflicted seizures with my left hip locking up.
     The morning after a class, I took Autumn out for a ride in the forest.  As we were moseyed along I began to notice how her gait made my hips move.  My right hip swung freely and my left hip sort of jabbed forward a bit. It was just like one of my signature seizure shimmies I expertly execute in class. Autumn had injured her stifle (sort of like a knee in the back leg) a few years ago and it has caused a hitch in her giddy up and apparently my shimmy. 
     Now, two babes like Autumn and I just can't go through life without shaking our money makers.  I talked to some good horse friends and got a recommendation for a horse body worker.  A horse body worker essentially watches the horse move and identifies improper body movement.  From there they work to relieve body tension and then help the horse to recognize its balance and fire up it's muscle memory to have them move correctly again.  It can take one session or many depending upon each case. 
     It just so happened that a horse body worker was coming into town in two weeks.  My friend Debra was able to squeeze us in and Cindy drove us to the stable the day of the clinic.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  We entered the arena and the body worker, Cindy, had me go over a little of Autumn's history then had me trot her around.  Autumn hip hopped around the arena not looking too sound.  Since her injury, I basically just ride Autumn at a walk when I ride and sometimes we canter when she needs to get some wiggles out.  Cindy began pushing on different points on Autumn.  At first Autumn did not seem too thrilled with all the attention but she continued to be patient.  Cindy had her assistant, Julie, help her push against Autumn to help get the releases they were looking for.  They broke into a sweat as they pushed hard against Autumn's 2,000lbs.  They would have knocked over a normal 1,000lb horse pushing that hard.  At this point Autumn starting groaning, licking her lips and getting sleepy eyes. She was in heaven. 
      She had me trot Autumn around again and she still hip hopped around.  Cindy and Julie went back to work getting Autumn back in balance.  Again, I trotted her and Cindy had me encourage her to extend her front right leg and tuck up her belly.  Upon giving her those cues, Autumn lowered her head, reached far across the ground to get her strides as her back rounded out.  It was the most sound I've seen her in years.  It was amazing.  Cindy said she just needed to remember how to move correctly again after years of favoring and compensating from her stifle injury.  She needed to know it wouldn't hurt to move that way again.  I asked her when we would should have our next follow up session.  She told me she thought that we would not need one as long as Autumn was moving well.
     Leaving that day was hard.  Autumn didn't want to leave her new pushy friends that made her feel like a new filly.  Plus, Autumn drew a crowd that couldn't resist feeding her carrots.  It's been over a month and Autumn is still moving nice and smooth.  When I ride her my hips glide evenly with her gait. As for my belly dancing...I still suck and I still love it.

Two girls that know how to shake it.

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Copyright (c) 2014 October 15, 2014 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

An Ode to Susie

  I had a major blow this week.  I lost my Honey Badger at work aka Susie.  Susie just got a new job teaching at the community college and is leaving the veterinary hospital.  I gave her the Honey Badger nickname based off the amazing YouTube video "The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger".
   Susie is just like the honey badger.  She just doesn't give a sh*t, but yet, she does. 
    We really hit it off working together.  We have a lot in common like loving to say the "F" word. We even dialed 1-800- F#*k-you to see who would answer.  Surprising to us, but in reality we probably shouldn't have been, was that it was a porn number.  Luckily, we never got questioned by our bosses on why a porn number was on the phone bill. 
    When Susie and I got together our creative energies merged into a colossal dynamic force of nature.  We thought up a cool new online dating site for mules that we would call "Get Some Ass".  After we went to an art gallery for a photo exhibit and saw how crappy and lame the photos were and how much money they were asking we decided that we could totally do our own show.  At the office we kept the camera handy for any inspiring images.  Quickly the memory card filled with cow diarrhea swirling down the drains or plastered on the railings, or stuck on the wall in the fading light of day.  These ideas are still a work in progress because we are what I'd like to call, unmotivated perfectionist.
    We always had each other's back on the job.  We always thought of the song "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwick as our sound track to our friendship except we made some changes.  The normal song lyrics were as follows:
Keep smiling, keep shinning,
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for 
For good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for...

Our version went a little something like this...

I'll pick up the bull testicles on the floor
Hold down smelly billy goats getting castrated
Do sand fecal tests full of tapeworms for you 
And I will call the police when some dirtbag poops next to our building in the middle of the day
Oh yeah, and point out boogers in your nose, for sure
That's what friends are for...
   We found humor in a lot of situations like the time we turned on our computers and had an announcement that it had been taken over by a virus called "Shit86".  We laughed ourselves on the floor as everyone else was having a breakdown.  Now when anything goes to hell we just say it's one of those Shit86 days. 
    Susie is the kind of friend that bakes you cookies on a Monday morning.  I am the kind of friend to her that while dialing 911, will try to run over a crazy maniac pounding on the front door cursing at her, that one morning, without a second thought...He's lucky he ran when he saw the I haven't had enough caffeine to deal with your shit86 crap this morning  look I gave him. 
    We now have a standing lunch date on Wednesdays to catch up on all the Shit86 that has been going on in each others lives. I love Susie and will miss her in the office. Good luck in your new job Susie and (imagine I am saying this in the world's crappiest Irish accent)... Top of the morning to ya!

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Copyright (c) 2014 September 3, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lions and Tigers and a What?

     It was quiet as I rode Autumn out to the trails in the forest. 
Autumn's ears leading us into the forest.
The light had about another hour awake before it settled into darkness.  Autumn walked lazily in the peace of the evening until she heard a sound that froze her in place.  She raised her neck and pointed her ears into the trees.  It took me a few seconds before I heard it.  It started as a faint hum that growled into a squeal.  Then coming tearing out of the forest was a golf cart. 
This is not what came out of the woods.
The driver hit the gas or battery pedal or whatever makes that thing go as he headed towards us.  He had a shotgun or rifle or whatever you call a long gun hanging on his gun hook behind him and a small fire arm was strapped to his side.  He yelled out "I can't lose my momentum!"   I just smiled and waved.  Autumn relaxed and we continued our ride without any other interruptions.
    It didn't dawn on me that this was strange until I was talking to a friend about my ride.  I guess it's not normal for 99.999999% of horseback riders, or anyone for that matter, to encounter a speeding golf cart, flying out of the woods, at night with an armed driver.  For me it wasn't real shocking.  The driver was the ranch owner's brother.  He is a little classier then the rest of us and cruises around in a golf cart instead of a four wheeler.
Who needs a stinking four wheeler when you've got this puppy?
In the back of the woods there is a shooting range which is a fun spot to literally blow off some steam.  When he passed me, he was flooring it because after killing some time at the range he had three minutes to make it home to relieve the staff taking care of his infirmed mother.  So like I said, totally normal. 

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Copyright (c) 2014 August 20, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


    For two days I had been finding dimes all over the place.  I had found two dimes in the morning before I headed to the coffee shop.  A woman came out the cafĂ© holding a drink in each hand.  She said that there was a dime on the ground and I should pick it up.  I picked it up and tossed it in the tip jar.  When I heard the coin clink into the jar I thought about how strange it was to find so many dimes lately. Then I thought about my Grandpa who had just passed away two days earlier all the way across the country in New York.  
    Grandpa was 96 when he passed away.  I do not think I can write about how important Grandpa was in my life.  He and Grandma never missed a tea party, horse show, graduation, surf contest, holiday, birthday, heart break...almost every great memory I have of growing up they were in it. 

The great Grandpa Houdini mystifying one of my birthday parties
     Grandpa always had a twinkle in his eye and a laugh to share except when he was bitching out some waiter or hotel clerk.  Loosing him at such an old age didn't bring me comfort.  I wanted him to live through my whole life so I would never have to lose him.
   The following week, when I was at work, I thought about all the dimes that had I found and wondered if it meant anything.  I decided to google it.  It turned out that there were pages of links related to finding dimes after someone very close to you passes away.  It was described as a paranormal phenomena that happens when a loved one passes.  It is thought that they are sending you a message from the other side.  There are personal stories, poems, religious discussions, books based on the phenomena and there is even a Facebook page about it.  I kicked myself for not saving all but two of dimes. 
     I called my Mom and sister, Katy, to tell them about the dimes from Grandpa.  They thought that was so cool.  I wished that I had three dimes so I could send them each one and we could all have one.  I had not found any dimes for a few days so I asked Grandpa to send me just one more.  Days passed and no dimes.  I decided that I would send the two dimes I had to Mom and Katy.  I was happy enough with having the magic of finding them.  That night, as I was getting ready for bed, I found one dime sitting right in the middle of my bedspread.  Thank you Grandpa.  I miss you and Grandma so much and love you even more.
Grandpa and me breaking it down!


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Copyright (c) 2014 August 6, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Gift From A Sweet Pea

    My husband, Casey and I had gone back to New York for a week long family/friend reunion at Montauk Point.  During all the visiting, eating, walking, surfing, eating, reading, looking at phones, eating, collecting seashells, eating...I had a funny feeling.  Actually, it was more of a knowing then a feeling.  As I walked out to my friend's car, on a trip to the light house, I all of a sudden knew that I was pregnant.  I have never been pregnant before, and wasn't planning to be, but I was sure I was.  I may have been a bit tipped off when my boobs tripled in size and felt like I needed to get a restraining order against them every time they bounced.  Or maybe it was morning sickness which strangely felt like an, I'm never drinking again hangover, which it wasn't because I have been an in the closet sober for just shy of two years.  
    I quietly waited until our family reunion trip was over to take a  pregnancy test at my sister's house.  Casey and Kevin, Katy's fiancĂ©, had left the house early that morning for a fishing trip.  I laid in bed awake knowing that the little stick was waiting for me on the counter.  I knew that once I peed on that thing that my life was never going to be the same.  I was right.  I told Katy to get in the car and we went to the store and bought another one.  When the second test confirmed the first we freaked out.  On that same day nine years ago, Casey and I had met.

    Prior to these positive tests, I was in the middle of my mid thirties crisis.  Any woman who is passing the age of 35 and is not sure if she wants to have kids or not, knows what a mid thirties crisis is.  As my OB/GYN had been pointing out, I was no spring chick and I was pushing an old hen status.  My chances of having a miscarriage or birth defects were increasing with my gray hair.  It is a very hard thing to be a woman and to not have that intense desire to want children. I have always thought it would be easier to be baby obsessed instead of wondering why I wasn't.  As I was speeding past my 35 year old mile marker I hit the breaks to figure out why I didn't.  My answer turned out to be a question.  How could I have a baby that I would fall in love with more than my own life and would someday have to let go to follow the song of their own heart?  It seemed so crushing.  Now, my surprise decision had been made.  I was already in love with the little one inside me, more then my own life.
      In that instant my world flipped over and my mommy brain kicked on.  We are going to have to save money, get a better car, put a fence around the deck, get a washer and dryer, where do you buy those things you plug into the outlets? where is the baby going to sleep at night? what do I eat? what don't I eat? when do I call the doctor?  how long have I been pregnant? are the schools around us good?...Bad habits were annihilated right then and there.  Goodbye tea and mochas.  Goodbye sushi. My life was not about me anymore.
     When I snapped out of it Katy and I jumped into the car and went to Dad's.  We told him that my little five year old brother, Kieran, was going to be an uncle.  Everyone freaked out and to celebrate, Rachel made us letter pancakes.  Kieran was so excited.  He took off into his bedroom and rummaged around until he emerged with his favorite little pillow animal.  After telling me how snuggly and cuddly it was he decided that he better hold on to it and get the baby something better. He ran back into his room and returned with a crusty old pacifier.  He told us that the baby would like this binky much better.  He even decided on a name for the baby...Bunnies John.  Bunnies because it was a baby and John because it was his middle name (and our Grandpa's first name). 
     After Dad's house we waited for my Mom to come over to Katy's.  We had tied baby balloons to the tests.  When Mom arrived we gave her mother's day present a day early.  She freaked out and seemed happier then she had in years.  Not long after, the guys showed up with a pizza and we pointed to the balloons.  Casey froze and I could tell that he was trying to figure out if I was messing with him or not.  When I told him he was going to be a dad he was enchanted and then freaked out.
    The rest of the visit was punctuated by telling everyone the news.  I visited my 96 year old Grandpa at the veterans nursing home.  He was very weak after have a long  unwanted visit with pneumonia.  When I told him I was pregnant, he held my hand tight and looked me in the eyes and wouldn't let go.  From New York to Napa we shared the news of our little one with our moms, dads, grandpas, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers and friends.  A teddy bear, rubber ducky, pacifier, baby sling, guardian angel pin and cards accompanied us back home.  
    A few days after arriving home in California, I had my first doctor appointment.  After the exam he gave me a good idea of how far along I was.   He scheduled an ultrasound appointment at the hospital a few weeks later.  I was so excited.  Every morning that I woke up feeling sick and assaulted by my breasts was a great day because I knew I was still pregnant.  Mom and Katy would  text me every morning for the still feeling like crap update, which always got a :-) as a reply. 
    My body was changing everyday.  Food that I loved I couldn't even look at.  The soothing smell of lavender made me want to barf.  I felt like some auto pilot switch got flipped on and I was just a passenger in my own body.  A place deep inside me, that have never known before, now glowed warm with a small candle flicker of light.  It was my little one.  I could feel it but not like a physical sensation but more like a connection just glowing inside of me.
     Everything I did, now turned into everything we did.  My little one had already surfed with Casey and I at our favorite surf spot, Ditch Plains. 
Casey is on the wave to the right, I'm on the wave to the left with a baby on board the board.

      She had flown across the country two times.

She had been with all of our family and friends.  She planted a vegetable garden decorated with Grandma's pansies and Grandpa's orange marigolds. My little one came on a walk with Autumn, Lilly and myself to take photos for my One Step At A Time blog. 
Autumn and Lilly, my assistant blog photographers.
    My little one shimmied with me in belly dancing class.  Autumn carried us on the beach and gave us the sunset between her ears.
Autumn sharing heaven with us.
The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. 
~Arabian Proverb
     We rode through the forest with Autumn and Lilly and listened to the birds sing their songs.  We watched osprey hunt, humming birds splash in the mountain spring and red tailed hawks glide halos around the tall pines. We watched the barn swallows build their nest with fallen hair from Autumn's tail.  I rested my hands over the glow I felt in my belly as I looked up at the momma swallow nestling her eggs.

  Autumn carried us past the yellow lupine at the beach.
She sailed us through the seas of daisies, forest irises, butter cups and purple thistles in the pastures of the ranch.
     During the past few years, life had been flipping through the calendar pages.  Now, with my little baby inside, life had come back alive again. Now everything in my life was with and for my little one to know and learn. 
    The Wednesday of my ultrasound, time crawled slower as our appointment time neared.  I was so excited. I couldn't wait to take home the first picture of my little baby.  Casey came with me and my full bladder to the appointment.  The technician tilted the screen and began to type in measurements.  She then asked me how far along I was.  After I told her she asked me if I was sure.  She pointed out our little baby that was the size of a sweet pea.  My heart stole the image of the our little sweet pea.
  The technician told me I could get dressed and the doctor would get all the information by Friday.  We left without an ultrasound picture.  I thought that maybe the doctor would have it at our appointment the following week. 
    The following day at work I received a call from my doctor.  He wanted me to come into his office at the end of the day.  I knew something was wrong.  He was not supposed to have my results for another day.  Casey came with me.  The doctor told us that the ultrasound showed that baby had stopped growing with my pregnancy and they couldn't find a heartbeat.  He told me that it looked as though I was having a miscarriage.  He scheduled another ultrasound  a week later to measure the baby's growth and compare the findings.  In tears I left without a picture.
   That night I wept.  I wept past exhaustion into an eerie calmness.  I decided that I had one week to love and enjoy my little sweet pea inside me before my next ultrasound.   Casey was so careful and tender with me.  I told him that I wanted to take our little sweet pea some place beautiful.  We packed a picnic, and with Lilly, went to ocean.  The fog cleared as we drove into town.  We walked along the fringe of  the rocky promontory above the Pacific. The sky and sea blazed bright blue.  We watched a baby seal roll and splash in the waves as his mother watched on.  A sea lion swam below the liquid glass gently as a butterfly. Grazing bunnies hopped off our path and under the berry bushes as we passed. I rested a hand on my belly.
Casey & Lilly
Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky. ~Sonia Gandhi
   We finished our walk, spread out a blanket and had lunch.  The warm sun and lullaby of the waves settled me into sleep.  I woke up to a brilliant world but felt a shadow passing over it. 
    That night I tucked Autumn in her stall at the barn.  I kissed her good night and I walked home down the hill.  It was a still night.  I walked slowly, hand on my belly and I could hear my little one.  It was not words but it was her.  She told me that she didn't want to leave me.  I did not want her to leave.  I told her I loved her so much and I always would.  I told her if she had to go it was okay. I cried the rest of the way home, still with my hands on my belly.  That night I lay in bed.  I could not find her flicker, I could not feel her glow, I could not hear her.  She was gone.  That spot I had never known existed before my little sweet pea, now felt like it opened in to the universe.  Black and endless.  Empty.
    That week at the ultrasound appointment the technician pointed out my little sweet pea, that was still the same size.  Everything else physically, for my pregnancy was proceeding at its "normal" rate. She showed me how she did not have a heartbeat and that is when my own heartbeat stopped.  She said she was sorry.  I asked for my picture.  I left with my picture, by myself. 
    I studied the picture of my little sweet pea all night.  I noticed how she looked like a little girl in a dress with her arms stretched out.  That picture has come with me everywhere since.
My little sweet pea
      The following day, the doctor confirmed that my sweet pea had passed away.  We discussed what to expect and what our options were.  Days passed as my body continued to be pregnant.  I still took all my vitamins and continued acting like my little one was still alive. Until she was not inside me I felt like I still had to take care of her just because I still could.   Everyday, my morning sickness brought more sorrow as I carried  my poor little sweet pea inside me.  It was devastating. 
     It was decided that I needed to have a surgery.  Mom, Dad and Katy were always just a quick phone call away when I needed them.  My friends were there for me with cards, funny movies, amazing mind numbingly good cookies, flowers and gifts.  The day before my surgery they took us for trail ride.  It was a wonderful distraction.
Casey's selfie getting photo bombed by a bunch of crazy horse girls.
Me & Autumn, Elizabeth & Rosie, Louanna & Harley and way in the back Cindy & Beauty
Autumn my best friend, carrying me and my heavy heart.
     Casey stayed by my side for the surgery with my ultrasound picture.  I woke up in recovery in tears.  I had lost my little sweet pea.  My friend Beth, that worked at the hospital,  brought me her remains as I had requested.  She fit in a container the size of  a baby food size jar.  I wanted to take her home to rest on the ranch where the wild daises laced the pastures, where the deer grazed, and the winds blew across the mountains. 
     The morning after the surgery was a poem written by a spring day.  I sat outside and sewed a little heart pillow with a bunny on the outside to place my little sweet pea inside to rest in peace. As I sewed the heart together bittersweet feelings drifted around me.  When I realized that my little one had passed away, the grief was shattering.  I have never known a sorrow so brutal.  Although our time was short, I will never make an excuse for loving her so much and for mourning her so heavily.  Every moment that I knew I had my little one with me was the sweetest and some of the happiest of my life.  There is not a single person that I wish I had not shared our excitement about her with . I was glad that I celebrated our time together with the ones that I love.  She gave me the gift of being a mother and knowledge of knowing that I would like to have a child someday.  Bittersweet.
   Casey built a beautiful wooden box which I lined with a blanket of stars.  I filled it with pictures of Casey, myselft and all of our beloved family and friends.  I tucked her teddy bear, her binkie and her rubber ducky inside.  I tied a bouquet of daises, that I had picked with Autumn and Lilly, with a piece of Autumn's mane and laid it inside.  I wrote her a letter and slipped it in the bottom of the box.  I then tucked my little sweet pea into the heart and placed her inside.  I closed the cover.

     We buried her under the Honey moon.  Casey planted orange and purple daisies on top and placed a sleeping bunny statue in the middle. 
We left her with broken hearts in the blowing daisies.
 A special thanks to Casey, Mom, Dad, Katy, Rachel, Kieran, Kevin and to all my family and friends for being there full of love and comfort through such a sad time in my life.  Thanks to Autumn for carrying me through the darkness.  I'd like to thank Snicker bars and Taylor Swift on repeat for helping me cope.
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Copyright (c) 2014 July 1, 2014


Letter to a Sweet Pea

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Bucking Bathroom

   I had just fed the horses and was sweeping up when I heard a strange swoosh, swoosh sound coming from outside.  I walked out and looked around the side of the barn.  The porta potty, which normally sits, still, on a concrete slab on the edge of a hill, was lurching itself off the side.  In bewilderment I watched the bucking bathroom, that was in desperate need of a servicing, begin to do the toilet timber.  I envisioned what that thing would look like on the inside after it made landfall. My living nightmare was interrupted when I saw a white tipped tail poke out the bottom.
    Lilly, my dog, was wedged underneath the thing and was trying to get out.  She wiggled her way out just as it was tilting past the point of no return.  I ran over and braced myself against the crapper.  I pulled out my cell phone and speed dialed my husband.  I got his voicemail.  I told him "Houston we have a problem.  The shitter is about to hit the hill, call me back." 
    I was on my own.  I tried shoving it back on the slab but it was just kept catching itself.  I  pushed on each corner, one at a time until inch by inch I got the john standing back at full attention. 
Standing tall.
    As I was patting myself on the back, Lilly ran past me and shoved her head back under the throne.  She was going after a mouse!  I grabbed her by the back legs and drug her out.  I only had one restroom rescue in me for the day.  She got a time out from the toilet while I called the porta potty company to come and clean the commode.

Leave the mice to the cats Lilly. 

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Copyright (c) 2014  June 4, 2014
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