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Saturday, December 27th, 2014
3:49 pm - Daughters and Horses

(Back in 2008, a friend sent this to me.  I have no idea who wrote it, but it sure describes what my parents could never articulate.  Dad used to say, pride in his voice, "The cure (for horse-itis) is worse than the disease."  Man, he died in 1975, but I still miss him!)

My daughter turned sixteen years old today; which is a milestone for most
people.  Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I took time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the choices she would face in the future.

As I looked at her, I could see the athlete she was, and determined woman she would soon be.

I started thinking about some the girls we knew in our town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color under the sun, drop outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to nowhere, seeking surface identities because they had no inner self esteem. The parents of these same girls have asked me why I "waste" the money on horses so my daughter can ride.  I'm told she will grow out of it, lose interest, discover boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current generation's "slacker" label on my child.

I don't think it will happen; I think she will love and have horses all her life.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she has compassion.  She knows that we must take special care of the very young and the very old.  We must make sure those without voices to speak of their pain are still cared for.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she learned responsibility for others than herself.  She learned that regardless of the weather, you must still care for those you have the stewardship of.  There are no "days off" just because you don't feel like being a horse owner that day. She learned that for every hour of fun you have, there are days of hard, slogging work you must do first.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she learned not to be afraid of getting dirty and that appearances don't matter to most of the breathing things in the world we live in.  Horses do not care about designer clothes, jewelry, pretty hairdos or anything else we put on our bodies to try to impress others.  What a horse cares about are your abilities to work within his natural world; he doesn't care if you're wearing $80.00 jeans while you do it.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she learned about sex and how it can both enrich and complicate lives.  She learned that it only takes one time to produce a baby, and the only way to ensure babies aren't produced is not to breed.  She learned how babies are planned, made, born and, sadly, sometimes die before reaching their potential.  She learned how sleepless nights and trying to outsmart a crafty old broodmare could result in getting to see, as non-horse owning people rarely do, the birth of a true miracle.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she understands the value of money.  Every dollar can be translated into bales of hay, bags of feed or farrier visits.  Purchasing non-necessities during lean times can mean the difference between feed and good care, or neglect and starvation.  She has learned to judge the level of her care against the care she sees provided by others and to make sure her standards never lower, and only increase as her knowledge grows.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she has learned to learn on her own.  She has had teachers that cannot speak, nor write, nor communicate beyond body language and reactions.  She has had to learn to "read" her surroundings for both safe and unsafe objects, to look for hazards where others might only see a pretty meadow.  She has learned to judge people as she judges horses.  She looks beyond appearances and trappings to see what is within.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she has learned sportsmanship to a high degree.  Everyone that competes fairly is a

winner.  Trophies and ribbons may prove someone a winner, but they do not prove someone is a horseman.  She has also learned that some people will do anything to win, regardless of who it hurts.  She knows that those who will cheat in the show ring will also cheat in every other aspect of their life and are not to be trusted.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she has self-esteem and an engaging personality.  She can talk to anyone she meets with confidence, because she has to express herself to her horse with more than words.  She knows the satisfaction of controlling and teaching a 1000 pound animal that will yield willingly to her gentle touch and ignore the more forceful and inept handling of those stronger than she is.  She holds herself with poise and professionalism in the company of those far older than herself.

Because my daughter grew up with horses, she has learned to plan ahead.  She knows that choices made today can effect what happens five years down the road.  She knows that you cannot care for and protect you investments without savings to fall back on.  She knows the value of land and buildings.  And that caring for your vehicle can mean the difference between easy travel or being stranded on the side of the road with a four horse trailer on a hot day.

When I look at what she has learned and what it will help her become, I can honestly say that I haven't "wasted" a penny on providing her with horses.  I only wish that all children had the same opportunities to learn these lessons from horses before setting out on the road to adulthood.

current mood: meaningful

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Wednesday, December 24th, 2014
3:53 pm - 6/2/2001 Day One of the Grand Adventure -- Despina's Infamous Green Journal (WC 259)

Day One of the Grand Adventure
Despina's Infamous Green Journal


Day One -- Morning:

First Saturday FREE!  Left for Arizona on the Grand Adventure as soon as I finished packing!  Spent night in Kansas rest area, what little bit of it I could sleep.  Sure beats attending summer school!

from Despina's Infamous Green Journal -- Day One of the Grand Adventure (11/26/04)

Day One -- Noon:

Whatever was I thinking promising my students so adamantly that I'd write every day?  I just ate lunch somewhere in a desert not as famous as the Mojave, but just as HOT, waiting for a kind stranger to return with a water can because Baby Blue Ram blew his top.  It's AWESOME when a 10' long hunk of metal starts to smoke and threatens to explode if you don't let him STOP.  He always HAS had an unusual personality*.  He spent his youth jealous of the dog, the stallion, the cats, chasing them downhill whenever he could. 

Of course, my appointment with John Quantico, he of the beautiful, meaningful, intelligent letters in two different languages, was for noon, and I'm HUNDREDS of MILES away yet...  I think I should've gone through the mountains instead of taking the flats...  But this is the route the on-line trip planners suggested.  So much for best-laid plans, and all.

Ah! That's all for now.  I see the van returning with the water can.  I should be on my way again shortly.

*I've stuck an early personal essay about him at six months old in the Appendix.

current mood: happy

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8:54 am - Answer for question 4164.
What's the last thing you took a picture of? Did you use a phone or an actual camera?
Don't have a phone, but have a digital camera that will take stills or video. My uncle, a Methodist minister who resigned and went on the revival trail, died in February in Wyoming. Some cousins from Ohio picked me up, and we drove 15 hours straight through, switching drivers frequently.

While there, we had a mini family reunion, so lots and lots of photos. I shot candids and organized group shots, making sure EVERYONE got into both family and group shots at least once. Hundreds of photos. When I got home, I edited and emailed shot after shot.

I also stood on a pile of bales of hay and tried to shoot video of two cousins "driving" a special car that was two front ends, designed to drive into the corrals and toss out hay, then exit without having to back up... It is a very clever cobble job, but looks silly. They did figure eights, etc. I also shot a dog playing fetch, which was challenging, as he'd free run, not "hit his marks"!

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3:25 am - Black Stripe's Shot
I ended up taking Black Stripe to the vet's.  She's been coughing (sounds like a human with whopping cough, coupled with the sniffles, which I've never seen a cat get before.)  She was highly subdued at the vet's watching the man with her huge eyes.  I was running an internal dialog of what she was thinking, which tickled him, as he worked.  He gave the shot with a thin needle, and she didn't react to it at all.  She was fine while he listened to her heart, lungs and larynex, too.  (He did that first, of course...)

current mood: upset

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Thursday, December 18th, 2014
2:26 pm - Answer for question 4158.
There's a lot of nostalgia around old franchises coming back right now. Movies, TV shows, even action figures! What's something from your childhood that you wish would come back? Why?

(This question will remain in place for a few days while Writer's Block is re-launched -- we'll have new questions each weekday starting on Monday!)
My mom's mind. She turned 90 May 3rd, and has Alzheimer's. She now forgets to put on her Depends, and can't seem to find the stool. She, who was always so fastidious, doesn't see the mess she's made. Sigh.

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1:43 pm - Snowfall
Yesterday around 3 pm, my front porch thermometer registered 45°, with the sun peeking through every once in a while, for the first time in weeks.  By 8 am today, we were only at 25.3° with a slight dusting of snow visible on the driveway, but tufts of grass showing in the yard and fields.   By 10:30, it had subsided with about 1/2" on the steps, and around noon, the sun came out briefly.  

current mood: comfortable

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1:38 pm - Mom's Phone Call

Last night, I called mom around 7:30, and talked about 10 minutes, a long conversation for her with me, anyway.  I was relieved when she recognized me right off.  She told me that she was reading again.  Indeed, she'd mailed me a book we'd talked about in July or so, one that she had no idea where it came from, but was not hers, not my sister's, not mine, not my aunt's... My mother stole a book from someone... Weird.  She'd never normally do that.

Then, she MAILED THE STOLEN PROPERTY to me!  Does that make me an accessory after the fact?  My sister said I was probably the last person she'd actually mailed something to, and I should feel honored.

In the same package was a very old but unused box of Crayola brand colored pencils.  It was packed as a 12 pack, but only eleven were still in there.  She asked, long distance, "What color's missing?"  No idea!  I don't know what colors are normally in a 12 pack of colored pencils... All the ususal suspects were present and accounted for, along with a navy blue, a second shade of orange, and two black ones.  No violet, but a white, but no gray.  At ten cents a minute daytime rate, I did not feel the need to philosophize over it!  SHE can call me on her cell for free... She did not, however.

Mother was chipper sounding, and told me how beautiful her room was.  She went through every piece of furniture, AND the window - the size, the positioning of it... She got her bed and dresser in twice, pride in her voice.  Then she added that the green and white bedspread was special, because our middle sister hand quilted it for her.  (She does beautiful work, so I'm sure that's the truth!)  She later added that her brother noticed that she had the bed she always wanted right off and complimented her on it.  She asked him, "How did you remember that?"

(Although he's two years older than she is, his mind is not affected... not a problem for him...) She said he talked quite a while.   (He's famous for retelling family stories repeatedly.)

"Same old ones you've heard time after time," I suggested.

"No, they were really interesting.  I enjoyed his visit.  He talked a long time, then looked at his watch and said he was late and had to leave."

Then she got to worrying about what would happen to the bed spread after she was gone.

"What do you want to happen to it?"  I asked.

"I haven't thought about it."

"Well, when you do, just tell us. Anything you want to have happen to it, will.  All you have to do is decide.  If you tell Bonnie what you want done, she'll make sure it happens.  Then I added, "For that matter, you could tell any one of us and we'd be sure the others knew your wishes."

I asked her if she'd watched the TV C&B bought and mounted so she could easily see it both from her favorite reading chair and her bed, but she said there was nothing she cared to watch and that she preferred to read.

"Ah,  I'm the same way" I said.  "Want do you want to do with your virgin TV?  It might be quite unique, the only one of its kind living hooked up outside of a store."

She got the giggles and kept repeating, "I never heard of a virgin TV before.  A virgin TV."  Then she'd laugh again.

Whe she commented that I sounded happy, I told her I'd talked with several of the cousins and told her the latest news about different branches of the family, a clear roll reversal from our former conversations.  She used to keep a clip board by her phone and add to the list, filling everyone in on what others had said.  She was with me for each group, until I got to Carl.  She had trouble placing him.  She went to great lengths to explain why she didn't keep up with everyone any more.

I told her the titles for six suspense Christmas themed books that started arriving in AUGUST and asked if she wanted them.  She said yes.  When I told her about a piece I'd written, she asked for that, too.  I printed it off without checking the type size.  I kick it way up if I'm on the 27" Thunderbolt monitor so it's readable.  It is only 1500 words, but is mainly conversation, so ran to 13 pages!

So, now I get to read those books, which I'd decided to skip, and ship them...

She also cleared up the unique mailing of the package.  When her youngest sister came to visit her, she had her clean up the envelope and take it with her to mail.  (I thought she'd written over her earlier scratching, but it was her sister's handwriting and darker pen...)  One weird thing - she had the nine digit zip code, which I don't use.  (I don't even know what it is!  Not sure where that came from, but it is in mom's handwriting.)

current mood: peaceful

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12:50 pm - Two's Lasson Leaves (Change date to real time tomorrow...)
I was quite surprised to see a gorgeously clean Two's Lasson walking nonchalantly down the diveway as I returned from getting the mail yesterday.  He was in the cat house, and the ground was muddy... Not sure how he did it.  Maybe sat down outside the gate and gave himself a thorough bath, weird as that would seem...

current mood: happy

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Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
12:41 pm - On Depression -- Lesley Hazelton ("Combating Depression") SOTFW-ML DUPLICATE - replace text

There is no perfect solution to depression, nor should there be.  And odd as this may sound … we should be glad of that.  It keeps us human.
~ Lesley Hazelton in The Right to Feel Bad

current mood: serene

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5:00 am - On Democracy -- James Bovard (Dinner, Anyone?, ML) REPLACE- Duplicate

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
                                                                                                                                                    ~ James Bovard

current mood: serene

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Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
6:44 pm - Another Word I Didn't Know -- Scandihoovian
Even though the word Scandihoovian is not in my word processor's dictionary, I still wanted to use it, thinking it was probably slang or even an invention... I was trying to correct spelling, my old nemesis, and discovered that although I spelled it Scandahoovian, google ever so politely corrected it AND came up with "About 12,500 results (0.38 seconds)"!
And for the "misery loves company" cadre, for the misspelled version, google found "About 7,840 results
(0.68 seconds)"
What a hoot!

current mood: laughing

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6:39 pm - Nostomania
\nos-tuh-MEY-nee-uh, -MEYN-yuh\
1. an irresistible compulsion to return home; intense homesickness.
The nostomania of Odysseus arose from a yearning for what he already knew, already possessed.
-- Eric Ormsby, "The Dark Regime of Paradise," David Solway: Essays on His Works, edited by Carmine Starnino, 2001
Nostomania shares a root with the word nostalgia in the Greek term nóstos, which means "a return home." It entered English in the mid-1800s.

Which got worked into my NANO novel, in Highlands, quite unexpectedly a PERFECT image and reference to add.

current mood: elated

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Monday, November 24th, 2014
9:22 pm - On Wandering -- Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

[Y]ou were too alert to the figurative possibilities of words not to see the phrase [angle of repose] as descriptive of human as well as detrital rest.  As you said, it was too good for mere dirt; you tried to apply it to your own wandering and uneasy life ...  I wonder if you ever reached it.
Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

current mood: serene

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1:37 pm - Caught Another Coon
After a series of empty days, this morning I had another coon in the new live double ended trap.  We'd left one end down, one up, as Black Stripe's four kittens had figured out how to double time the double doored trap.  I kept minescule amounts of cat food in plastic trays, one on each side of the trip panel.  Two would eat out of one end, two out of the other, then leave the way they'd entered.

The coon got greedy - BOTH plastic containers were outside the trap, but the coon was in.  Not quite sure how he/she managed that feat.

current mood: calm

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Thursday, November 20th, 2014
11:40 am - On Morality -- Steven Pinker

Morality is not just any old topic in psychology, but close to our conception of the meaning of life.  Moral goodness is what gives each of us that sense we are worthy human beings.

~ Steven Pinker

current mood: serene

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Monday, November 17th, 2014
12:32 pm - Grammar, Schmmar
Today's rant is made possible by Harlequin Reader Disservice for turning out copy now unreadable.  They eschew subjunctive tense, adverbs, standard punctuation, think items in a series is nothing but an excuse to indulge in conjunction abuse, and believe the best way to illuminate breathlessness is with sentence fragments.

If, perchance, you can't remember your grammar, flunked third grade (or have achieved such a great age that you no longer remember attending it), but love music, there is hope for you yet!  Just HUM a folk song, running the lyrics through your head.

If our uneducated classes of yesteryear could handle it, chances are, so can you.

Take subjunctive, for instance.  Oh, PLEASE take subjunctive!  Cold, hard facts = cold, hard language (indicative tense)
But the realm of the dreamer, wishes, aspirations, conditions that are not or might be the opposite of cold, hard reality, areas that are not subject to the dictates of reality = use the opposite - plural - verb (subjunctive tense)

Let's SING:

If I were a carpenter, and you were a lady, would you marry me anyway?  Would you have my baby?
If a tinker were my trade, would you still find me?  Carrying the pots I made, following behind me...

From the song's writer, Tim Hardin in 1967, to Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter, to Bobby Darin, to The Four Tops, Harry Belafonte, The Pozo Seco Singers, Joan Baez, you name the famous group - they've probably done a version.  Currently, my favorite version is, which is a You Tube version of what I have in my iTunes - The Pozo Seco Singers, then led by Don Williams, with Susan Taylor and probably Lofton Kline filling out the trio.  Wikipedia's article on the group  suggests he left after the I Can Make It With You album in which Carpenter appears, was cut.  Ron Shaw also was part of the group, and could therefore be the other background male voice...

Even immigrants can do it - If I were a rich man...from Fiddler on the Roof - Here's a clip from that movie with subtitles.

If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.  Climb oboard Pegasus and SOAR!

current mood: ebullient

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Friday, November 14th, 2014
8:09 pm - A Clowder of Cats
clowder Audio Pronunciation
1. a group or cluster of cats.
"That's a fine clowder of cats you have, Aunt Alex," I told the old dowager one day when I was bringing her some peanut brittle from my mother.
-- Noel Perrin, "Don't Give Me One Dozen Roses, Give Me a Nosegay," The New Yorker, April 4, 1959
Clowder comes from the term clodder meaning "clotted mass." It entered English in the late 1700s.

current mood: laughing

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1:20 pm - Slubber - Interesting Word

slubber Audio Pronunciation
1. to perform hastily or carelessly.
Even-tempered as he was, he soon began to give evidences of the strain of being pent in with a mechanical monster that toiled, and sobbed, and slubbered in the shouting dark.
-- Jack London, "The Pearls of Parlay," A Son of the Sun, 1912
Slubber may descend from the Low German term slubbern meaning "to do work carelessly." When slubber entered English in the early to mid-1500s, it meant "to stain or smear."

current mood: happy

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Thursday, November 6th, 2014
11:03 pm - On Wearing Glasses -- Steven Wright

I was walking down the street wearing glasses when the prescription ran out.

      • ~ Steven Wright

Been there, done that!

current mood: tickled

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9:08 pm - What a Disappointing Election!
“Hi, I’m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm,” she says in her debut television advertisement. In the ad, Ernst vowed to use her hog-castrating savvy to “make ’em squeal” in Washington, D.C. The full quote goes: “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork. Washington’s full of big spenders. Let’s make ’em squeal.” Although her advertisement is supposed to be a metaphor to cutting spending in Washington, it also makes her appear as someone who finds humour and pride in their power over others.

I hope while Joanie Earnst is "Making 'em squeal", she remembers who picks up the tab, swabs the blood the floor, and starts hitting up the emergency room on our dollars because they CAN'T GET HEALTH CARE any other way. Definitely sounds lacking in human compassion to me.

I've been an animal lover all my life. When I castrate my colts, I CALLED THE VET AND PAID THE $$ to knock them out first. Even when I owed them a bundle. I paid every dime of it, and considered it money well-spent.

She's evidently forgotten, if she ever knew, that "Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner." ~ James Bovard

current mood: disgruntled

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