12.30.2013

A List

1. I'm sitting at a techniglass waiting for a new windshield and glowering at myself that I forgot to charge my phone last night. 

2. Must stop breaking windshields. 

3. I work from 8-2 now, and it's life altering. Sunshine and all that. 

4. As a memory hoarder supreme, I am struggling with the entire idea of snapchat. Fleeting photos? Sounds like a great way of getting Facebook to buy your product for $3 billion without ever having to pay for a server. 

5. Itxa has had a couple weeks off except for grooming and groundwork. I did not get a couple weeks off from paying her rent or scooping her poo. Horses are funny like that. 

6. I have a hard time believing the Olympics is really that much cooler than Utah's Wild Horse and Burro Show. Therefore, we are in training for the coolest thing since the Olympics. 

7. There's a musical freestyle, guys. A musical freestyle. 

8. Wouldn't it be hilarious if one of DoTerra Oil's products was Snake Oil? The answer is yes, yes it would be hilarious. 

9. My friend Lauren has a baby that looks just like Mowgli. Obviously, he is adorable. She is unwilling to sell him, if you're wondering. Said she wouldn't even consider a trade. Some friend. psh. 

10. Apparently 5 days off of work was what I needed to clear the necessary headspace to finally watch Lawrence of Arabia. Glad I could turn off Hoarders long enough to have that breakthrough. 

11. I'm trying a new thing where I only eat meat twice a week. This is in response to getting sick to the point of pukage after eating too much sugar. Don't ask why this makes sense to me, it just does. 

12. My goal in the new year is to be less flaky and better about responding to people in real time, but with that, being more honest that my life is now, and will probably always be, a hectic place. I have been blessed with a plethora of amazing humans and amazing animals throughout my life, and I refuse to let the best ones drift too far. But the downside is, I never get to dedicate as much time as I want to each of those people and creatures. 

I'm glad I live with Dan so we both get the time we need together. If I could live with Itxa, I would. Since I can't, my time with her has to be my absolute priority. She's not just a hobby-she's a living being, an athlete, a business partner, a friend. Sometimes a very obnoxious, belligerent and dangerous friend, but a friend, nonetheless. Also, she poops about 30 lbs a day, at least. You can't ignore that. (well, some people do, but I hate those people.) 

So, here's to looking forward with balance. With honesty. With integrity. With eagerness to see the beautiful mugs of all you lovely folks out there and spending a glorious 2014 with the lot of you. 

And sometimes having to buck up with the truth and say, "I can't. I have to ride my horse."



11.11.2013

Seeing Both Sides of One True Statement

"The horse is a mirror to your soul. And sometimes you may not like what you see in the mirror. Sometimes you will."
-Buck Brannaman


11.05.2013

Death by Pure Soul



Believe it or not, from 6:50 a.m. to about 7:10 a.m. every morning is one of the best parts of my day. My car may be cold and frosty, the traffic may be horrible, and my breakfast corn dog may not have heated evenly in the microwave that morning, but this is all secondary to the 20 minutes I spend listening to Pleasant Grove High School's morning radio DJ.  This kid is my hero.

First of all, he has surprisingly good taste in music. His self proclaimed favorite music is Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, and Fleet Foxes, and he regularly introduces me to bands that he likes for the same reasons he likes said bands, and I glean my small shred of music coolness almost entirely from him.

Second, his oldies palette is dead-on. Motown, Beatles, Beach Boys, the Byrds, and the occasional Pink Floyd. He also references these sounds in the new music he plays, which again, I love.

Third, he clearly has the worlds dirtiest teenage boy crush on Lana Del Ray, and I find that charming.

Fourth, this kid is the most enthusiastic half asleep kid I've ever heard. He talks slower than a snail spits, but he means what he says, and often uses phrases like, "freaking awesome", "killer tunes", and "so excited I couldn't sleep", even as you are wondering if he is in fact asleep at that very second. I love a good walking contradiction.

Fifth, he has been known to play full albums in their entirety, stopping between each song to talk about how awesome the last song was and the next song is.

Sixth, he has said the following things on the air:
"So about halfway through this next song, Al Green is going to hit a note that isn't humanly possible. But anything is possible when you have the reincarnated soul of Marvin Gay inside of you. And Al Green does." 
"I apologize to anyone who had a heart attack during that song due to pure soul."  
"Lana Del Ray could sing about sad people living in trash cans and, like, how McDonalds gives her indigestion, and it would still be freakin' hot."

The only thing worse than the fact that I stop being able to pick up KPGR at around 114th South every morning is that someday this kid is going to graduate. Then it will be back to NPR, I suppose. Ugh.

Maybe he has a half asleep younger brother....




 

9.10.2013

Some Words About Itxa

You know how like 200 years ago, people were so flippant about the spelling of their names that they would just change them intermittently, and even spell names wrong on headstones and such? That is Itxa's life. Sometimes I will spell it with an x like it should be, sometimes I will spell it with a -ch, like it sounds. Sometimes I will call her Homer Simpson, because it eliminates the mystique. Also, because she loves donuts.

Curse you, Daniel, for introducing her to donuts.

The past several weeks have been difficult.  When Itxara arrived to Keystone from Robyn's training program, she was PERFECT.  We walked, trotted, cantered, took trail rides, crossed rivers and bridges, danced over poles, and I left every single day in total euphoria.

Then we went to Maryland for work, and she took two weeks off at my parent's ranch just getting to be a horse for the first time in several months, I'm sure. I was happy she got that time off. But for any number of reasons (my mother and I have theorized on literally hundreds of possibilities) she came back to Keystone a completely different horse.

Gone were the trail rides, the easy hacks, the respect. Every ride became a fight, and in fact, a fight not to get one or both of us hurt. Where trails had once been our happy place to unwind and where she could thrive with a clear mind, she suddenly decided the third day back that she was done with that, and about 20 yards down the road she violently wheeled around, reared, crow hopped, and wheeled again to head home. My confidence was shot, and my fear had paralyzed my ability to demonstrate authority. Without some help, I was cooked.

So, I invested in the equine equivalent of a drug intervention.  I brought in every resource I had at Keystone to give input, got into 2x weekly le$$ons, and started reading, watching, and taking notes on every piece of training material I could get my hands on. Slowly but surely, my confidence is returning, and with confidence comes the ability to be the authority Itxa desperately needs. That being said, the horse from the first month has yet to return. I call that horse Itxa the First, and this is Itxa the Second. Or, Homer Simpson.

I have questioned my choices and my future with Itxa a lot in the past month. Because, frankly, that's the right thing to do. Any horseman not stopping to evaluate their partnership, their safety, and the best interest of the horse is no horseman at all. Horses are not children; you can in fact make new arrangements for them if you need to. And for that matter, if your child tries to kill you, you should probably consider new arrangements for them, too.

Recently as I watched her hand graze in the setting sun after another difficult but growing ride, I acknowledged that Itxa the First was a painful gift: a hint of where we could be someday and then some, but with a foundation of real respect and trust below the obedience.  I acknowledged that while we are nowhere near there again, we are also no longer near where we bottomed out a month ago. Things ARE getting better. And thanks to patient trainers who understand that I don't just want to have someone else fix it for me, I am learning even more than she is.

And that was in fact the point of all this. If I wanted another "perfect" horse, I could have bought one of the "perfect" horses I was already falling in love with at Keystone. But I wanted the challenge, the learning experience, and the credit. I wanted the relationship that can only be earned, not the one given by default. And man, if I'm not a better rider for it.

Last night I was one of the only people at the barn, because my friends are up at the State Fair showing their guts out this week. I thought that the Fair would be the finale of my horse year. Instead, there will be no finale. Only quiet, consistent patience day in and day out as I follow the trail of hope I dreamed for the two of us from the first day I saw her.

Though I'm quite certain Itxa considers the finale a maple bar.






8.16.2013

Maryland

Dan and I went to a conference.
We visited some towns and battlefields.
We ate some excellent food.
We visited DC.
We got in fights at interchanges.
We swore we would not forget the GPS next time.
Amen.

Rayburn Building, Washington, D.C.

Annapolis, MD

Annapolis Cemetery


Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg, PA

Hagerstown, MD







Just off the C&O Canal, Maryland


Antietam


Baltimore, MD

8.01.2013

When Buildings Die.

Yesterday, my alma mater tore down my favorite building on campus to make way for another multi-million dollar glassy modern building.

My favorite classroom was the top floor, furthest right. Nearly all windows.


I cried a little.

My major, my academic advisor, and some of my favorite classes were housed in this building, including my capstone thesis class. It was held on the top floor, and in late April and early May, the antiquated rooms sans a/c could become an oven of historical theory and literary study. It could also put you to sleep.

Then someone would take the initiative to go around and open the windows that went around 3/4 of the room, and a light breeze would swing in down the Salt Lake foothills and carry the hot air out the window and deposit our misery in the West Desert.  The adobe roof tiles reflected the heat away and, all things considered, the building did alright without modern air.

It also had the most charming women's bathrooms you've ever seen- down in the basement. I believe most of it was original to the 1938 construction.  If the U were Hogwarts, this is where Moaning Myrtle would have lived, among the sea-green tiles and cherry wood trim.

It was the U's first and only all-female dormitory, and one of the first of its kind in the west.  It was simple, and beautiful, and the perfect gateway to campus.  Last year, it was quietly removed from the National Register of Historic Places by the powers that be, and its demise was planned.







It was a total coincidence that I happened to be there the day she died. Or maybe it wasn't. I haven't decided, yet.

Carlson Hall represented everything I ever loved about my college education (not to be confused with my college experience, which is sort of another animal altogether). The building-- like my major, my ambitions, my all-consuming academic pursuits-- were charming, but neither popular nor practical, and don't seem very useful to most people. She would not have been the place where cancer would be cured, or where the next Microsoft would start, but her space was pure and safe for the explorers, the orators, the diggers. She was built in the heart of the great depression; I like to think as a sign of hope. And hope she gave.  

I stopped and asked a construction guy if I could have a brick, and he said the Law School would be saving some for distribution. "You're not the first to ask, that's for sure."

It's tragic that the building is gone. But I can reconcile her departure a little better when I think of the whole of her going away brick by brick with the people who loved her.

Brick in hand or not, she gave a piece of herself away every day for 75 years. I'd like to be a little more like that.  

Carlson Hall, 1940

Carlson Hall, 1940


7.09.2013

Commuter Musings

I took the bus/train today. Gas prices, common sense, and some guilt brought on by a depressing episode of This American Life about global warming convinced me to give the corrupted public transit system another go. 

And truthfully, it's not that big a deal. With traffic as bad as its been, I get home at the same time either way. The only difference is that I have to leave the house at 6:30 to catch the train, when normally I could leave a little after 7 in my car. 

I know it's silly, but those 30 minutes kill me. Not because it's early (I'm a morning person) but because it's some of the best 30 minutes of my day. Dan and I get ready together, the dog shoves his face in my lap so hard he falls over and then looks up at me like I invented pizza and chew toys, and the cat curls his entire body into our tiny bathroom sink at the exact moment I decide to brush my teeth. 

Dan turns on the news and we make fun of how condescending the anchors are to the morning guests, and at the last possible moment I can leave and not be late, I kiss him goodbye. 

The animals follow me to the door; Jeoffrey stands on top of the fridge and Rev holds a sock in his mouth expectantly as I close the door behind me, and that's exactly how they look when I get home 11 hours later. 

It's selfish, but when the life you've made at home is so perfectly true to everything you didn't know you always wanted, you can't help but want every last moment of it that you can afford. 

On the upside, though, the frontrunner does cut right through the middle of my barn's trail system, so that makes for a nice morning horse fantasy. I'll take it. 

6.28.2013

Dreaming Hard- Part 2

I'm glad that last week I cleverly gave myself a free pass to talk about my horse some more.  That was brilliant.

**************************

So I fell in love with this flashy trashy mustang in a matter of about 2.6 seconds. After that, I needed info. I talked long and hard with every single one of the BLM officials about her.  I couldn't believe my luck.  She already had 6 months of saddle time courtesy of the Gunnison Prison Inmate BLM program that paired horse savvy criminals with mustangs to help them find homes (the horses, not the inmates).  Not only do I love this program, but I can't describe what a ridiculous bonus it is to have your mustang come to you saddle trained. The only bad news was that while the other horses could be adopted first-come-first-serve, I would have to bid for this mare the next day at the festival auction. Stakes raised.

So I decided to be really judicious, and act like I wasn't making this decision impulsively, and I wandered aimlessly around all the other adoption pens and pretended to consider other horses, or not getting a horse at all.  Truthfully, there were some lovely horses in that bunch.  But I couldn't see them. I just kept looking through them, distracted by tugging feelings.

I have seen my mother do this before, in particular, for a little black weanling at the same BLM adoption where we got Posie and the burros.  She was so sure she was taking that sweet, friendly, boring black colt home.  We all know how that ended- with her taking that spooky flashy dun filly named Posie home, in what I like to call the World's Greatest Consolation Prize. This is because auctions are scary. You get emotional, you can't tell what people are thinking, and the next minute your horse is going home in some other guy's trailer.

The memories of that event 14 years ago haunted me for the next 21 hours until the auction.  I got home from the festival that night and paced the house in-between typing my adoption application, carefully recreating my theoretical horse's future living environment on graph paper for the BLM (hilariously fearing that they wouldn't approve me), and researching endlessly the Moriah Herd, which used to live just north of Great Basin National Park before they were completely rounded up and zeroed out. She was the last of her people.

At some point, I mentioned to Dan that she was exactly the horse I'd always pictured having someday.

"Really?  When have I ever heard you mentioning you wanted a red horse with white feet?"

I starting rummaging around in the bookshelves until I found this:


A copy of my favorite book from my favorite series from the age of about 8-15. I'm pretty sure I read it about 16,597 times, and only in part because I liked the main plot concerning Carol feeling jealous and worried that she was losing ground to Andrea Barry as the star rider of Pine Hollow Stables. Why was I really reading this book to death?  Because of the cameo appearances by Doc, the babe that graced the cover of Saddle Club #65. This wasn't a temporary infatuation; I wanted to marry the horse on the cover of that book pretty much until I was already married.

That's as good a reason as any to buy a horse, right?

I did not really sleep that night. I kept going over the numbers in my head of how high I would let myself go in an auction to get her home. I also continued to pretend to consider other horses.  Hilarious.

That morning I went straight over to the BLM office to turn in my application that was instantly approved ("Wow, you even typed it! And used graph paper!"), and then straight to the adoption pens, to say hello to my girl, who was dozing in the sun like a flapjack after what I'm sure was a long and promiscuous night. I stayed busy throughout the day helping my new friend Robyn change saddles and horses all morning for the show, which was a welcome distraction, and occasionally went by the pens to see who was looking at her.

Finally, the auction. My posse included the patient husband, my terrible influence of a mother, and my fully cowboy be-decked nephew, Russell, who had been asking Grandma Sharri all morning if she would buy him a burro. That right there is a good auction posse.

The way an auction usually works is that the first few horses will sell for lower prices than the ones at the end. People want to hold out and see what certain horses go for, and if they came determined to take a horse home, they'll bid high to get a horse at the end just because they're out of options. So I was really hoping that at the very least, my mare would come up before the fancy challenge horses.

In a stroke of sheer providence, she was the very first horse of the 10 horses sold that day. The BLM officer walked her back and forth in front of a huge crowd, my heart pounding so hard I couldn't hear. Then she looked right at me, and I got calm. The auctioneer started the bid at $250 measly dollars. Before the words were out of his mouth, my card was up. Instantly, he had another bidder. I never put my card down, I just kept nodding my head as the numbers flew back and forth between me and one other bidder for what felt like minutes but could only have been 10 or 15 seconds. The high bid went to me again, and at this point, I decided to eye the other bidder-- a heavyset woman in flip-flops I had seen talking to the BLM officer about "what do horses eat?"

Mustang #6936 was not going home with her today.

I waited for her to counter me so that I could double her current bid and try to end this thing, but I never got the chance. At that very moment, the other bidder put her card down, cursed, and sat down on the bench, indicating that she was through. I didn't get to double my bid, but I would have quadrupled it.

I can't sufficiently describe the vicarious thrill on my mother's face, the relief on Dan's face, the glee on Robyn's face (since she knew she'd be getting to play with her first!), and the total confusion on Russell's face.

"Is it over?"
"Yeah Russell, your Aunt Lorraine just bought a horse!"
"That red one in there?"
"Yeah!"        
"Oh.  When do I get a burro?"

Dear dear Russell. If someday, after years of begging, borrowing, and practicing with burros and learning about burros and praying for burros and dreaming about burros and crying for burros you decide you still want a burro, then there is no inferno hot enough, no logic too sensible that will keep you from it.  Someday you will have that long awaited burro in your arms and you will find your soul waiting there for you in the soft fibers and warm foggy breath of that burro, and that will only be the beginning.  Every moment after that is your new life- the person you are when you are the steward of a sacred, hilarious, powerful and wild soul.

Keep at it, little man. It's worth it.

Russell and Icha.

6.21.2013

Dreaming Hard- Part 1

I have been trying for about a month to think of something that I wanted to write about as much as my new horse, because I know that what I am doing now is gross overexposure.  You've probably seen more about my horse the past 21 days than you have of Kim Kardashian, and Kim SPAWNED this week.

Lucky for you, Icha does not have a sex tape.

Though I'd prefer that to Kim's sex tape.

I am, however, going to talk about my horse some more, now. Sorry. If new moms get to put pictures of their placenta on their blogs when they give birth, you're just going to have to sit through Icha's adoption story. Actually, I like to think it's pretty good.

For some inexplicable reason, I had been looking forward to the Utah Wild Horse and Burro Festival since probably February. I think it was partly because my mom's horse, Posie, was up here, and I was thinking about showing her until her soundness started to concern me a little. It really bothered me that I wouldn't have an excuse to go to the show as anything but a spectator.

Then I met Robyn.  This is why I freaking love Facebook, in spite of what a total joke it is. I saw the videos of her on the Utah BLM Facebook page training her Challenge Mustang (they give trainers 60 days to train a mustang from totally wild to show-ready), and I was STUNNED. I had to meet this girl. I interviewed her for the Trotter, with the promise to follow up at the show. It has been years since I met someone so instantly impressive and likable.

The festival finally rolls around. It's over a Friday and Saturday, and I was super bummed to miss the first day because of work. My mom went with my nephew Russell, and she was evilly sending me photos of adoptable horses in the pens trying to goad me into taking one home.

While it seems like a tangent, it is emotionally and spiritually relevant to mention that this same week, my mom's long time mount and horse that I rode at the National Mustang Finals when I was a teenager, Ralphy, was in the equine equivalent of the ICU.  He acquired a horrible, almost always deadly disease known as Colitis X, and we were almost certainly going to lose him. It was also my mom's birthday. As an isolated event, it was pretty much one of the worst things I've ever seen or lived through. As a big picture/come to Jesus event, it was a bitter reminder that horses are as fragile as they are powerful, and horrible things happen to them and you have to make life or death decisions for them, and you could spend your life savings doing so. This is very relevant when you're about to take the horse ownership plunge.

Despite all this, my mom is still determined to go to the Festival for an hour or two and have a good time. As she sends me photo after photo of glorious adoptable wild horses that the BLM brought up to get adopted that weekend, we have this conversation via email:





Yes, the first words ever uttered to me about my horse were "cute butt."  I tend to agree.

Obviously, my mother was wrong that Icha was a gelding, but that's an understandable mistake, seeing as they had put her in with two other geldings, and usually the BLM keeps them separated by gender in the pens. But I was legitimately disappointed. No offense to all the castrated male horses out there, but, they're just not as interesting to me as a work partner. I get mares. I like mares. I knew my horse was supposed to be a mare. The way mothers know the baby's gender before they're born. You just know.

I discovered my mother was wrong about this that night when I stopped by the show myself, and saw my future horse in person for the first time. . . . being taken advantage of by a buckskin gelding about a foot shorter than her.

And to think I missed my chance at actually HAVING an Icha sex tape. Oh the regret.

I knew I was in trouble then, because I instinctively shouted at the squatty little buckskin, "Hey, get off my horse!"

My horse.  My horse? That was weird.


(since this is getting a little long, I'll save the rest for next week. Oh, except for this part: Ralphy lives.  I know. *sniff sniff*)

5.22.2013

Snakes On A Plane

Two nights ago, Jeoffrey had his first kill that I know of. He took out a rather large mosquito-like bug that had flown into our house at around 11 o'clock at night. I made the sound that a girl makes when a large flying bug flies at her hair, and out of nowhere, Joeffrey jumped off the top of the fridge, flew through the air, and gracefully nailed this bug. He played with with for about a minute before swallowing it whole. Well played, Cat.

THIS MORNING, I awoke to a bizarre crackling sound- the closest thing I can liken it to is claws on glass. It's a sound I've heard before, and I have always wondered if it might be a mouse. I'm from a ranch. Rodents are a part of life and death, so I mused over buying mouse traps as I continued to drift in and out of early morning consciousness. Abruptly, I noticed that the sound had gotten much louder- closer. I open my eyes to see Jeoffrey near the foot of our bed, staring at me with something in his mouth. I think "awesome, he caught the mouse!" which is what a good cat SHOULD do. But knowing cats, I'm guessing that the mouse is neither dead, nor entirely ready to be eaten. I'm thinking we should have a pan ready just in case.

It was around this time that Jeoffrey drops the poor creature, and it flops onto its stomach. Wings outstretched.

That's right. Wings.

2 nights ago, the cat caught its first bug. Last night, it catches a freaking-ass BAT.

IN MY HOUSE.

Dan and I proceeded to take turns convulsing alternated with manning up, just long enough to get the bat outside using a pot. We're pretty sure its dead.

Bats live alone, right?  Like Dracula?

Now that the bat isn't in my house anymore, I feel like I have two legitimate concerns. 1) Are there more bats living in a colony in my house somewhere, and 2) What in the name of Beverly is the cat going to catch tonight?  And as a sort of followup to either of those questions, 3) Is it overkill to sleep in a catcher's mask or hazmat suit tonight/forever?




5.20.2013

Mood Rain

It's raining. Time for music. Shout out to Dan for his influences of Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young. (Playlist.com didn't have "Raining in Baltimore", or I'd have added that, too.)

Also, sorry to Dan that this list includes Adele. Because I know how he feels about Adele.



5.16.2013

Einstein Had Cable

"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity."
-Albert Einstein

This is sort of how I feel when I'm home sick and totally miserable and there's been nothing on TV all day, and then suddenly COPS is on.

5.09.2013

Deep Horse Thoughts

I love that I took two days off of work for a horse show. Showcation, as I like to call it. For work, I wake up at 6 so I can go in and sit at a nice desk in business casual attire and leave at 5.

For showcation, I wake up at 5, put on a button up shirt and choker, jewelry, breeches, and impeccably shined knee boots. I try all day to keep said shirt and breeches clean while I groom, braid, muck stalls, and ride like the dickens. I will go home around 8, and do it all over again tomorrow.

But that moment after your best and hardest class full of highs and lows, when It's just you and your horse taking sweaty tack off and together you exhale the day- wow. When a 1000 pound creature cozies up and closes her eyes when you hold her head and breathe in her nose- wow. When you realize this horse doesn't know you don't own her but merely sizes you up by the sum of your lovely experiences- wow. It's hard to describe without it sounding trite, but when a horse lets you in, you never forget it.

I have made peace with the fact that my time with Minnie is temporary because all horse relationships are. It's stupid that lives change, people change, horses go lame, and that we outlive them by 50 years. But it's reality. So you take and you give while you can with all your heart.

I've only been riding her for a month, and Minnie has already given me back her part of my old broken horse soul- affection.



And stuff like that just doesn't happen at the office.



5.03.2013

Confession

It's because of people taking pictures like this with their
Friesians that Dan will never let me live it down if I buy one.


This isn't easy for me to admit. It's not really in the spirit of my general behavior. Well, okay, it's in the spirit of behavior that I don't usually like to flaunt to the general public.

But you guys, this one time when I was living in DC, I got scammed. Now I was lucky enough to get out of hot water before I lost anything, but a nigerian internet scammer did manage to convince me that he had a house for rent in DC for $700 that had a barn and a botanical garden. Even though the address he gave me was for the projects.

I was new to Craigslist, okay?

So yesterday when I was looking through the online horse ads on my lunch break, I was pretty steamed to see an ad that claimed to have a fully trained, 5 year old, purebred Friesian for sale in Utah for $1,000. Just to give you some perspective, a five year old fully trained purebred Friesian would normally sell for at least $10,000, unless he had some kind of lameness or terminal disease, and even still maybe that. Also, Friesians are the scammer breed of choice, because no horse loving woman on earth is immune to their hotness, and everyone wants a deal on their dream horse.

So I did a terrible, terrible thing. I trolled them.

I started by being upfront that I knew they were scammers, asked them to please take their ads down, and please stop pestering nice horse people. In that amazing google-translated scammer english, they repeatedly insisted they were not scammers, that the horse was in Portland, and if I give her my credit card number to pay my delivery fee, the horse will be on my doorstep tomorrow morning. (side note: please don't ever leave your horse on my doorstep. My house is too small.) And so, I changed my tune.

"Oh, okay. Well my horse trainer is actually in Portland right now. Where do you live? I'll have him come over and see him, you can ride him first and he will ride him after you. He's free all day today."

I was sure "she" wouldn't write back. But she did. She proceeds to give me the address to her house to come and see her horse, which is the address to what I believe is the tallest business tower in downtown Portland. Hilarious. She then pleads with me to "wear your understanding shoes and reason with me okay.I understand your situation but you have to take this brave step to have what you will never regret in life." Coincidentally, I am in fact wearing my understanding shoes today, guys.

I know. I KNOW I should have stopped this Tom Foolery. This is a human being. But I figure for every minute I tie "her" up trying to reason with me, she's not putting up more scammer ads. Does that in any way justify this abominable behavior against a fellow human being who happens to be trying to steal my money? Probably not.

"No, I want my trainer to see and ride the horse before I buy it. Where is the horse located? The address you gave is for a business tower in downtown Portland. Does your horse live in the Flying Elephants Delicatessen on the third floor? (there really is a Deli called that in the building she directed me to. I consider that notable.)

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. My trainer is an Olympic dressage trainer. He taught the great Warmblood, Ravel, how to shake hands like a person. He will be so excited to meet you and your horse!"

I was sure that this was over the top enough that they wouldn't write back. Wrong.

She didn't have anything nice to say about my trainer, who taught Ravel to shake hands. She was very hung up on this delivery service. Imagine that.

"Like i said,you are proving real stubborn accepting the fact that delivery will be the best.I talked with the company yesterday that i have a buyer who is very skeptical about delivery.I was told that at first the used to pay upon arrival of pets.Just that customers misused this opportunity and so the management passed a new law saying that all delivery must be confirmed by an upfront payment."

It's a law, guys. Now can I please have your credit card number for the delivery and all your other personal details for the purpose of identity theft?

Since she didn't answer my question, I didn't answer hers.

"I'm starting to wonder if Damon is maybe just a cat...."

Her response is genius, and does not address my question concerning cathood. To boil it down, (I had to read it about 100 times to get it) she says, okay, if you don't want to pay for the delivery, give me your credit card numbers to pay for the HORSE, and then SHE would pay to have him delivered. Yes, that makes ALL my problems go away.

I NEED FINAL DECISION, she says.

"Yes, absolutely, I have a final answer for you.

My trainer is there in Portland waiting to ride the horse! Once you tell me where the horse is, my trainer will meet you there, ride the horse, pay you the $1000 you asked for the horse (in cash), and then will drive the horse home in his horse trailer. We are not using your delivery service. Where is the horse, and what time should my trainer meet you at the barn?

Also, please have an obstacle course set up in the arena that Reginald can ride the horse across. I want to be sure he's not afraid of guns or snakes. Thanks!"

Sadly, I have not heard back yet.



































4.17.2013

A List

1. I don't want to talk about America.

2. I would like to talk about Spain. Spain was beautiful. Especially the day that I tasted Falafel for the first time, got a massage at the ancient cave baths, and went to sleep in my darling little apartment with a balcony and a cobblestone street below.

3. I don't want to talk about horses.

4. That's a bad sign.

5. I do want to talk about how weird it is that Tim Riggins is my crush on Friday Night Lights. That is absurd. Except for the long hair, which if you knew my husband sometime between 2004-2011, would make perfect sense.

6. I don't want to talk about the weather, or the fact that I planted my tomatoes too early.

7. I do want to talk about the fact that I currently wear size 8 skinny jeans. It's true, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

8.  I don't want to talk about the direction of my life.

9. Well, I do and I don't.

10. Here's the thing. You know how if you're in a boat that's supposed to have two oars, but you only have one oar, you spend a lot of time either going in circles, over-correcting, or going very very slowly?  I was one oar. And now Dan is the other oar. So now we go places faster and easier, and we have an awesome boat. I just don't know where I want to go in it.

11. Well, I do and I don't.

 12. Jeoffrey the Cat has to have this goo every other day that keeps him from getting hairballs. It's liver malt flavored, and his favorite thing in the world. He eats it out of the tube, and when he's had enough and I take it away, he stands on his hind legs and swats at me, claws out, because he is so enraged that he isn't allowed to consume all the goo. Taking away this cat's goo is pretty much the only power I have over him, and I relish it.

13. What a terrible number to stop on.

3.29.2013

Dénouement

Despite my immune system's plan to thwart my every ambition, I've had good successes the past few weeks.
Stressful at times? Yes. Visual payoff? Harldy. Worth it? Imma say yes, because today is a good day.

I got some good connections out of the Expo, and I did not wuss out. I actually had a great time, and I almost, and I really mean ALMOST, bought one of the trainer's challenge horses. That would have been a mistake, but a good one.

You came here for horse drama updates, didn't you? OF COURSE YOU DID.

After much back and forth, feverish delirious mind-racing torture, I decided to call mom and make her an offer.

___________________________________________________________________________

"Hello Martha." (this is what I call my mother as of late, despite the fact that her name is not Martha.)

"Hi Stinky, whatcha doing?" (This is what my mother has always called me. It's my name.)

"Well, I was at the barn, and I think I found the perfect horse for you. I know you're still sore and you'll have to take it easy, but this is a nice horse. Older mare, 13 years old, mustang, pretty short, great on the trails, totally adorable, and she has been getting ridden all winter. The only problem is that she doesn't pick up her right lead, so she'll never make a show horse."

"Ha, how nice of you to horse shop for me. Your father LOVES that idea, I'm sure. Get MORE horses."

"Ummmm, would it help if you knew that she was free?"

"There's no such thing as a free horse-"

"OHGOODLORDMOTHER, YOUR HORSE, I'M TALKING ABOUT YOUR HORSE, POSIE, AT THIS BARN, THAT'S FREE BECAUSE YOU ALREADY OWN HER."

"Oh. Yeah, that might work."

____________________________________________________________________________

In the end, Posie had some major question marks that could potentially stand in the way of her and I being perfect partners for each other, but those question marks meant absolutely nothing to my mother, who in the words of the Disney movie BRINK! is a "soul-rider". Like Brink, the talented in-line skater prodigy, mother doesn't ride for glory. She rides for fun. I only want a little glory. County Fair glory. Is that so much to ask?

So happy, calm, thinner Posie will go back to her real mother, to roll in the mud and scratch on ranch posts, and groom her mustang boyfriend Ralphy in the hot summer ranch sun. And I am going to be brave, and branch out. I'll start tonight by signing lease papers, and trying out every available horse for rent in the barn. Leasing grants me lessons, and leasing grants me horses I couldn't otherwise afford for awhile. How long that will last or what will come after? Don't know.

But I do know that Posie will be happier, and I will somehow learn to live without her noisy hungry chatter greeting me every day.  Her fake hysterics when I fill her water buckets. Her gooey eyes and drooped lip when I scratch her jowls just right. (who else on earth likes getting their jowls scratched??)

I feel like every horse I ride now is giving me back one piece of the complete puzzle I had with horses as a kid. Posie's piece was Laughter.

That was a good piece.


Doesn't she totally look like she is saying something condescending in this picture?

Like Tina Fey, she is not only funny, but super hot.

To quote When Harry Met Sally, "I love the way you get that
little crinkle over your eye when you're looking at me like I'm nuts."
Angry Serious Model Faces
 (you have no idea how hard it is to try and fit a whole horse head in a selfie. Pretty much impossible.) 



3.13.2013

Exposition

This weekend is the Utah Horse Expo. I'm excited. I'm scared.

I'm scared because I'm going to be there representing myself as the Editor of The Utah Trotter. Once people put my face to this thing, there's kind of no going back. And I don't want to wuss out like I did two years ago. (So much wussing out. I talked to one guy shaping hats before crawling into a dark hole of fear and shame. I can laugh about it now. Or...a week from now, maybe.)

I've been trying to read lots of motivational quotes about how good ideas look crazy at first, and how to overcome fear, and how you should do what you love and BLAH BLAH BLAH.

So this weekend I'll be at the Expo as a lone representative of my crazy idea that someone ought to be telling the stories of the horse industry- the struggles, the conflicts, the heroes. We ought to start getting to know each other and finding each other's experiences relevant. We ought to be resources and mentors for each other more than we are competitors. We ought to collectively care about the welfare of the industry, the sport, and the animals themselves more than our own isolated experience within it.

With all the differences between people to be mad about in this world, don't you think it's crazy that people who do Show Jumping in Park City think they have nothing in common with people who Barrel Race in Tooele? I do.

So this weekend, I'm going to walk around the Mecca of Utah's Horse Industry and talk to people. I'm going to ask questions and take pictures and not totally wuss out. I'm going to wear my website shirt and hand out business cards. I'm going to try and make sure that enough people know who I am at the end of the day that I will feel too guilty to ever give up.

I covered a story last month about some people who ran out of money, got caught up in a lawsuit, and let their whole herd of horses starve this winter. I had to take pictures of one of their emaciated colts seized by the sheriff's office, who was still alive, fighting, even friendly in spite of all the odds. In my heart, I accidentally named him Jiminy Cricket. He was my conscience.

We should never, ever, get so caught up in our own experience in this industry that Jiminy Cricket ever stops mattering to any of us. I want to help people do better by Jiminy, and this is my way. Connectivity, support, education.

I've decided I'm totally willing to make a fool of myself in order to even try fulfilling that mission. In fact, making a fool of myself should really not be such a stretch. I am 27 years old, and I blog about corn dogs, The Bachelor, and Breyer Horses. You might say I was born to shamelessly insert myself into bizarre situations. I was born to do this. Yeah. I like the sound of that.





.

3.04.2013

5 Years.

It has been five years since I worked at the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The distance between then and now felt especially poignant to me this morning as I was coming into work and listening to the reporters talk about the Kenyan elections on NPR. Five years ago, I was a wide-eyed baby intern trying to find the balance between being helpful and staying out of people's way. The 2008 Kenyan elections had gotten out of hand, ethnic violence was erupting in eastern Africa's most stabilizing cities, and we were sending observers to try and sort out what was going on there.

When those observers got back, they had an intimate briefing with the Committee staff and some Congressmen. One of my bosses sent me to transcribe the meeting and report back. I sheepishly walked into the gorgeous congressional hearing room with a glossy oak table at the front, and rows of chairs in back. I took a seat at the back of the chair rows, trying to minimize my nervous fidgeting.

One of the observers (I believe he was with the United Nations) looked over at me, smiled, and invited me up to the table. I waved my hand and said "Oh no, I'm only an intern!" and he looked me right in the eye and said the thing that stuck with me more than any other one thing in Washington: "You're an intern now, but someday you'll be in charge, and you'll need the things you learned here today."

Whoa.

Five years later, I am using the information I learned in that room, but not the way I expected. I learned to sit at the table. I learned to observe from people who observe for a living. I learned not just how to make an action plan, but that action plans must be made, and if not by you, then who?  I learned that we are stewards of each other. I learned that no one wants to pay for logistics, because logistics aren't sexy. I learned a lot of stuff about Kenya that I don't remember as well as I wish I did.

Those words would also have a wicked double-edged sword. They would torture me for the 18 months after the committee, when all I did was answer phones and get "important people" their sandwiches. They would haunt me when I wasted my time. They would nag at me as I slowly drifted away from foreign policy, moved back to the Rocky Mountains, got married, and settled into personal happiness and domesticity.

Ready for a light bulb five years in the making?

I've been in charge all along.

No, I don't work at the State Department observing elections in Kenya. I'm not a Congresswoman. It's been 4 years since I did my humanitarian trip to Europe. But I'm a human being, who was born a steward of my fellow everythings- people, plants, pets, principles. And every day, I wake up trying to figure out how I can do that better.

Right now, stewardship means using my free time to turn a mustang mare into an ambassador of her kind, which are in terrible peril. Most people think mustangs are flighty, unmanageable muts with poor conformation and no potential in the show ring. But the people at my barn are in love with her, shocked by her, and believe in her. Whose mind can we change next?

Right now, stewardship means using my "other" free time to build an online network of local horse people to share information, build a network, and help them improve their odds of keeping our industry alive as barn after barn is torn down to make way for an Ivory Homes subdivision. That world I'm making now is small, but it's growing, and maybe I'm crazy, but I think it's working.

Right now, stewardship means growing the love and laughter in my home and in myself. Lovingly forsaking my treasured single self and embracing my role in a new family unit has changed everything. It makes me a better steward of ALL the things that are important to me.

So today, I send a prayer to Kenya. I hope their elections will be fair, free of violence, and result in a president who will be mindful of his people. I pray their country will bring their young ambitious minds to the table and say, "someday you'll be in charge, and you will need the things you learned here today."  I pray that all of us in the position to give that dream to someone, will.





3.01.2013

Today's Mantra

I did not fight the urge to partake of staff meeting office donuts all winter just to give up on my bikini bod in MARCH. Kick it back into gear, Little Lady.

Oh, and by "Bikini Bod", I obviously mean "Skin-Tight White Breeches Bod"

Curse you, Corn Dog Gods. (but not really.)

2.27.2013

Journalistic Integrity.

I said that sometimes this blog would be about corn dogs. How long has it been since I made a genuine ode to mysterious animal byproduct rolled in corn flour and deep fried to white trash culinary perfection? TOO LONG, said the Corn Dog Gods. (I know this church is true.)

Since Utah recently got its first Trader Joe's, my coworkers and I decided to make an adventure of it during lunch today. I picked up oodles of organic this and that, but obviously, this had to come home with me:


There is something so wickedly, delightfully oxymoronic about a wonderful hippie leftist food company trying to sell a healthy corn dog. No Nitrates or Nitrites, guys! (Also, WHAT ON EARTH is the difference between nitrates and nitrites? I don't know. Don't want to know.) It's a corn dog, guys. A CORN DOG. There is no scenario wherein animal byproduct shaped like a machine mold and rolled in corn batter could be considered a wise or fancy choice. Not ever.

Does that mean you shouldn't eat it? Please. You should absolutely eat it, treasure it, and then praise the Corn Dog Gods, AND DON'T FORGET SHISKA DOG GOD, said the Corn Dog Gods in reply. But the day I see someone patting herself on the back for buying a turkey corn dog is the day she should also be openly mocked by all her peers, and possibly throat punched.

That being said, I totally bought these, wrote my name on them, and put them in the office freezer, loving them for exactly what they are.

2.12.2013

Second Chances


www.TheUtahTrotter.com

Visit the Facebook Page and Give us a 'Like'!



Two years ago I started a website to cover Utah horse news and events. It was a ton of work, but really worthwhile, and I felt like I was giving a voice and a community to people who needed one. And it was getting great attention for awhile.

But when I changed jobs, it became important for me to rededicate myself to the money making machine, and take a step back from my writing. It was an incredibly hard decision.

I took down the Facebook page, the website, and closed shop. But I didn't delete it, and I didn't give up my site address. Some part of me said that maybe a better time would come.

I don't know that the time is really better now, but I think that I have to try. With Posie and I looking at a slew of spring shows and harboring ambitions to make a triumphant return to the Wild Horse and Burro Festival in June, I feel reconnected to my favorite community.

I have loved writing for HorseNation the past year, and they have been wonderful in giving me free 'rein' to write about anything that I want. What it taught me, while slightly amusing, is that I love writing about horses just as much as riding them. To most horse lover's abject horror, if given the choice between never riding a horse again and never writing about a horse again, I think I could learn to love them forever from the ground, but I could never give up learning about them and telling their stories.

All that being said, if you are a horse friend, a non-horse friend, or just stopping by, I hope you'll come visit my website and like the Facebook page. We need friends from all over, all experiences, all disciplines! We need artists, photographers, contributors, and Heaven knows that we'd love to have sponsors!

Thanks for your friendship and readership. The internet is a way cool place.



1.30.2013

A List

1. If strep throat and a whiteout is enough to keep you from going back and rescuing your favorite riding crop that you left in the indoor arena, you have no business riding horses. (It has this amazing squishy handle, so much better than any other crop ever.)

2. If strep throat and a whiteout is enough to keep you from going to the barn in the first place, you have no business riding horses.

3. Here is a great tip: Sometimes, if the furnace stops working, your house will get really cold.

4. When it's fixed, your house will get warm again, and you can start watching all those reality shows stored on the DVR in the coldest room in the house that is no longer cold.

5. Things that make a sore throat feel better: cough drops, tea with honey, chocolate, Ruffles, Kraft MacnCheese, and medicine.

6. Things that don't make a sore throat feel better: Juice. Why do sick people drink juice?

7. Dan has been letting me watch a great deal of RFD-TV lately.  I think pretty soon we're either going to get a horse, a cow, a tractor, or a polka band. Such is the way when you watch enough of "Rural America's Most Important Network."

8. My tea gets cold way too fast.

9. Work was so busy over College Football season, and I completely fell off the bandwagon of writing for Horse Nation. But I have a few great articles coming up soon, and I'm excited to share them with y'all.

10. I have a two hour (each way) commute when the weather is bad like today. This would be vastly improved if one could watch Romantic Comedies while driving.

11. I suddenly have the insatiable urge to have a good hard cry while watching Free Willy.

12. My barn has a music system that blasts into the arena while you ride, and some reggae came on while I was riding. Unbeknownst to me, Posie loves reggae. Best 4 minutes of the day.



13. Three musics: The Lumineers, Rose's Pawn Shop, Brandon Flowers solo album.

14. Three movies I want to see: Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

15. Three goals: Ride 3x a week, Take a class in something, Ride the train.

16. My husband is not only a bodacious babe, but he makes my most important dreams come true every day. Double threat.




1.07.2013

Unconventional Humor

Some cold winter weekend lessons:

I learned that if you squeeze a water bottle that's half frozen in your car, the plastic might be extra brittle and break, and that the half unfrozen part might spill on everything, mostly into your cupholder if you're lucky. The solution to this could be to just put the broken bottle back in the cupholder and forget about it. Because then when you get in your car Monday morning, and everything is fully frozen, you just pull the broken plastic water popsicle out of the cupholder, and throw it away.

Bonus: It may or may not take the crumbs that were in your cupholder with it, leaving your cupholder cleaner than it was the day you bought the car.

* * * *

I learned that plaster walls are the serious downside to old home ownership. I built a custom display rack in the living room for Dan's records, which turned out absolutely awesome. Unless you sort of pound on it, and then you might notice that plaster falls out of the screw holes. la le la le.

Solution: Don't pound on that.




* * * *

I learned that I have done enough house projects with a jigsaw that never should have been done with a jigsaw to justify the purchase of a miter saw.  I am very excited about buying a miter saw.

* * * *

I learned that my dog and my cat might have been born with matching tuxedo fur outfits for a reason. #whosaidromanceisdead


I learned that trying to follow a 12 row knitting pattern while watching a particularly dramatic and creepy episode of Dr. Who might cause your knitting to turn out very maniacal. Unless you're into the pattern I invented, which I dubbed the "Help me, fuzzy caterpillars of all erratic shapes and sizes are attacking my scarf" pattern. Coming to a knitting club near you.

* * * *

I learned that eating whatever you want over the holidays makes you gain three pounds. GRRR.
And so, I made the following mostly healthy meals:

Albacore tuna over romaine lettuce with cranberries, pecans, and apple cider vinegar.
Moroccan Chicken with Dried Apricots over Jasmine Rice
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Pancetta

And Sunday morning I was going to make breakfast, but instead we went to Denny's and ate off the Fit Fare menu but wished we were eating Hobbit Breakfast and red velvet pound puppies. To reward myself for not ordering a hobbit breakfast,  I ate the rest of the minty M&Ms from Christmas. And a part of a Symphony bar. And an orange. Dammit.


* * * *


I learned a little Winter Hibernation can be fun.






.







1.03.2013

Three Memories

1. A moment I experienced hundreds of times over 2 years: Being on the DC metro and going under the Potomac. You have to pay attention to even notice you're going downhill, until suddenly your ears pop. Then you know you've hit the bottom and will start back up to the other side, soon to emerge at the Arlington National Cemetery stop. It's the first above-ground stop leaving DC on the blue line. You can see the river, the monuments, and to the other side, the white stones extending endlessly over the ridge. It is as mundane, smelly, and irreverent of a moment as one could ever ask for, until suddenly you think "I'm on a train, under the Potomac River, in Washington D.C., going to work, so that I can pay for my apartment."






























2. Walking through innumerable palace rooms in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Before I went, I learned the names and events and places that carved Spain into our imagination, and it made every step of that journey a sacred awakening of my academic, spiritual, and adventurous life. It made me crave people's stories. It's hard to absorb every detail you see there, and in some ways you just never will, but I do distinctly remember stopping beneath this, and feeling for a fleeting second that I understood eternity. I think I was closer to God right here than any other place or time in my life.
































3. The week before I moved back to Utah from California to be closer to Dan, I was up very late packing my things and ruminating over the last several years of my life. College, Washington, books, movies, broken hearts, friendships, adventures, cravings, sorrows, injuries, injustices. I stepped outside the cottage my father had fixed up for me - a place that had been opened up to me as I healed so many open wounds - and went to find an orange from one of many ripe and selfless trees. The horses heard me, and called out softly, a sort of purr they give to acknowledge you.

Standing at the gate was Ralphy, a horse I'd had a sordid history with in my adolescence. We'd competed at Nationals together, but never quite clicked. He was smarter than me. But his eyes were soft and friendly in the moonlight. He let me shove my face in his mane, smelling his smells. Let me run my hands all over his bristly winter coat and down his long nose. He never moved, letting me make peace with every single memory I'd had since I was 15 to that very moment. He was the very same. Both of us older, both of us wiser, but there he was, the horse I'd always known.








It is with these three memories in mind that I move forward from the shortest days of the year, into a year
which will be filled with change, sameness, introspection, love, mistakes, calamity, goofiness, passion, and I certainly hope...Corn Dogs.







.