The horse's pasture to the East...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Blue Light...Green Light, part one

A friend called me last Sunday and asked me, at the last possible moment, to go to a local psychic fair with her. I didn't hesitate to say yes. She's in a place in her life where she needs to have her friends supporting her without question. It's a matter of loving unconditionally.

Last year, in September, she lost her younger son to a drug overdose. It's the kind of pain that leaves an indelible scar on a parent...the very worse kind of loss there is. It's unnatural to loose your child. We're supposed to check out first, not the other way around.

I'm still thinking about why I said I would go, though. Originally I went because I was worried about her. She's extremely vulnerable, the perfect target for the hacks who haven't any real ability as a psychic. She needed to have someone there to keep the creeps at bay. But when she called to ask me, she also told me that there were several other friends going. She wasn't going to be alone if I didn't go, and I was pretty sure that the others were going for the same reason; to protect her and support her in her quest to communicate with her son. So why did I really go? (I rarely give up Sunday time with John. It's sometimes the only day of the week we have together.)

I was the designated driver. She had a recent back injury and didn't feel up to driving into Topeka (a good half hour away). And I'm used to driving larger vehicles since I live on a farm and drive a big truck. I was up for that part of my role in the day. And, as a rule, I'm not a very good back seat rider. I like having the wheel in my hands.

We picked up the other ladies who were going with us, a varied group of talented, well educated professionals, all of them opinionated and outspoken. It was going to be an interesting afternoon! One of them was also the girlfriend of the young man who had OD'd. She's one of those amazing young people with a more than 4.0 grade point average, very goal oriented and focused. Sheesh...way past me at the same age!

The drive in was uneventful except for the beautiful Autumn colors in the Flint Hills. The grasses were beautiful! That alone made the trip worth while for me. I came home later in the day with all kinds of colors in my head for my next pastel!

We played the old game of telling each other our "stripper" name...a combination of our first pet's name and the street we lived on as a kid. Mine was Shotsi Lamar! Pretty descriptive, wouldn't you say? I decided that with a name like that, I specialized in tassels...lots and lots of tassels that I could make go in different directions at will. BWA HA HA HAHAHAH! I crack myself up! It's an even funnier image when I think about how far south things have gone in the past few years. At any rate, it let us start the day with laughter. And that ain't hay!

When we got there, it was being held in one of the smaller expo buildings at the fair grounds. There wasn't a large group of boothes. This was going to be manageable. We'd have time to wander around and look with no pressure to find just the right place to get a reading. There were the usual number of rock sellers and fused glass people. Most of them were retired biker types with big bellies, grey pony tails and old tattoos. Nothing unexpected there.

I listened to one pitch being made about these cheap, not well made, pendants of fused glass being sold for the over the top price of $50 each. I stood at the back of the group listening to her. If she was actually selling this stuff for that kind of obscene price, her pitch was going to be worth listening to. She had a couple of shills in the audience who demonstrated the way the pendants "protected the wearer from the evils of cell phone technology." They went on to show how these little pieces of glass would interfere with the radiation coming from the cell phone "that caused cancer and other diseases". But she made the classic mistake of leaving questions open to the rest of us watching. I couldn't resist!

As soon as she asked if there were any questions, I started in on her. I peppered her with questions about how the glass had been "programed", what kind of process was used? ( answer :They were programed with a special machine.) What kind of machine? Do you have it here? Can we watch you do it? Or do you have pictures of it being done? (answer: Oh no! It's a very expensive machine, much too expensive to bring here. And the process is secrete too! Takes allot of skill and dedication to get it done just right.) So, do you have any of the glass that hasn't been "programmed"? I'd like to see a comparison done. (answer: No. That would interfere with the power of the "programmed" glass.) Oh, so you can't wear any other kind of jewelry when you're wearing this pendant, especially if it's glass?

We went on in that direction for a few other questions. I have to admit I was having fun making her squirm and work for her money. The money wasn't going to come as easy this afternoon! But wait...there's more! In the middle of our little game of question and answer, there was a ring from a cell phone...HER CELL PHONE! When she whipped it out and said "I told you not to call me here!", I lost it. I have one of those contagious laughs. It's one of those genetic gifts that both my brothers and I have. When we laugh, most of the people around us laugh too, even when they don't know what they're laughing about.

After people got finished wiping their eyes and rearranging their themselves, we all dispersed to other booths. Every time I passed her booth after that, she gave me an evil stare. I can't imagine why?! Oh me...I had way too much fun! This was going to be a very interesting afternoon.

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's Begun...

November is the month for NaNoWriMo...National Novel Writing Month. And this year I'm signed up to do it along with 90,000 other people! Talk about competition...but then again I always did love a challenge. "Look out people, coming through! Excuse me...coming through."

I started yesterday afternoon. I've written 4359 words so far. That's much better than I thought it would go for a first day.

I'm saving all my "juice" for the BIG BOOK, so this entry isn't going to be much this time around. For your entertainment and edification I'm attaching another explanations needed. Just enjoy. And watch for my book on Oprah's must read list too. I give it two years. It's going to be big...HUGE! (I'll have to start thinking about what to wear on TV...)

Dream big!

Nancy, riding and gliding

Friday, October 26, 2007

In The Zone

If you look to the right of this posting, you'll see a link to a video for a juggler named Chris Bliss. I found this at the end of my morning, just before time to go out to give my equine family their noon time hay (I always do that if they're staying in the paddock. Spreads out the hay so it's more like grazing and keeps them from getting to boarded.)

This Chris Bliss is in the zone when he juggles. Watch how he moves with the music and never, ever drops that ball. It's mesmerizing! And it's what I call "being in the zone". I go there sometimes if a painting is doing what I want it to. It's a wonderful place to the zone. Time is irrelevant. I'm not hungry, thirsty or even aware of my surroundings. It's just me and the paint.

Watch the video...enjoy...and may you find the "zone" some time in your life too!

Nancy, celebrating artists today!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

more success....

"Good morning...gooooooooooood moorning, I laughed the whole night through...good morning, GOOD MORNING to you!" Love that song. It's from a Gene Kelly movie with Debbie Reynolds and Dennis O Conner in it, a silly 50's musical. I sing it sometimes on the way down to the barn to do chores in the morning. I figure there's no one out here to see or hear me except the horses, dogs and cats. They don't seem offended by it, so it must be OK...right?

I was talking about success. It's a loaded word, success. Everyone wants it and there's no one definition for it either. Most folks do say "Oh she's very successful. Look at the house she has!" or something along that line.

Truth is, although having money is a very nice thing, I'm not sure that it brings success, or at least it's not my idea of success. Most of the people I know who have money haven't been very happy. They're so stressed out while they try to accumulate money so they can have the bigger house and the nicer car and the expensive trappings that go along with that kind of life style, that they've lost their way. They're not happy. And if you aren't happy, are you successful?

I used to do allot of my work for people who are very well off financially. I'd go in to do my mural or design work just about the time they were leaving for work. There was a very interesting transition that went on in those neighborhoods. The owners would leave, driving off down the street with their tired kids in the back seat, all of them wolfing down those cereal bars and drinking coffee for the adults or juice packs for the kids, squabbling among themselves. And about 15 minutes later, in would come all of the maintenance crews to clean houses, mow lawns, repair or paint houses, do landscaping and so on. I guess you could say I was in that category since I did most of my work when the owners weren't home too.

Later, at the end of the day, the maintenance crews would leave and the owners would come trickling home in the same condition. The kids were in the back of the car, eating Mac D hamburgers and french fries, whining about whatever activity had been planned for them that evening because the most successful (there's that word again) students were the ones with lots of outside, extra curricular things going on. They'd come slamming through the doors, stop long enough to ohh and ahh over what I had done, then go on with whatever argument they'd been having. I usually took off about then because I wasn't comfortable being there while all of this personal family stuff was going on.

But if you asked people if they were successful, most of them would have said "Heck, yes! look at all that I have!" My question was always (to myself, or course) "Well, if you're so successful, why aren't you happier about it? Why all the gloom and doom and trauma-drama?"

Someone who is one of the centers of my life told me that he'd like to see me be successful outside the house. I think I already am. I start every single day so excited to get out the door and start my chores that I end up laughing at myself on the way to the barn! The place that I live in is beautiful, even in the most inclement weather. I don't think I've had one day EVER while we've been here when I didn't stop at some point and say "WOW! Look at that!".

I have friends who call or email every day, wanting to know what's going on in my life. I hear from all of the people I love nearly everyday too (just gotta love the Internet for that one!). I have enough food to eat, very good food at that! I have a place to sleep that's safe and warm. The bills are paid...usually. I'm writing, painting, reading, learning, growing (sometimes a bit too much across my backside, but that's another story!) and changing. I call that success.

It's the Nancy-ized edition of the Websters New World dictionary version of the word SUCCESS. Best part is that I can be my own Wikepedia. I can change the definition as often as I want to.

Folks, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings! I'm just getting started with the idea of what SUCCESS is. Stand back...I'M COMING THROUGH!

Nancy, just another cowgirl with her hat on and her head back, laughing!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SUCCESS at any price....

Success. It's an interesting word, isn't it? If you ask people what their definition of success is, you get a different answer nearly every single time.

I went to a party this past weekend, at a friend's house. Since we've never been to one of her pot lucks, there were lots of new people to meet. And, being a bit gregarious, I had fun talking... and talking. It's easy to carry on a conversation when everything you have to say is new, and everything they have to respond with is just as fresh. Before I went, I decided to carry out a little experiment. I was going to ask, in the course of each conversation with all of these potential acquaintances, what their definition was of the word SUCCESS.

Now, I'm pretty good at talking. I love a good story and love to tell one even more. It isn't usually hard for me to find a common thread and keep it going all night long. And the results are always fascinating. So, I asked my question, slipping it into the conversation between horses and politics.

"Can I ask you something? What's your definition of success? How do you define it?" There were a few people who were surprised by my experimental question, but most were more than happy to talk about it.

Some felt that success was the number of academic achievements they had and the career that came from those degrees (We do live in a town with two universities and only 30 or 40 minutes from several other universities and colleges, so I would have been surprised if this one didn't show up during the evening's festivities.). Other's said that the home they had paid off or the car they were driving was a symbol of success for them.

" I have three wide, flat screen TV's that are all 48 inches and two are high definition." That was an unexpected one...and very funny to me. We don't even have cable at our place. If you can't tell, it was a guy talking.

Another said " I have four horses and I started my two year old colt myself this year."

One guy, someone who had dealt with severe depression the past two years and had been reduced to living in his car as a result, was just happy to be working again as a carpenter. He's also a cowboy who now has two horses and a dog. His story was the most profound and, I think, told to me in confidence. I don't think I'll write the details here. But he's genuinely happy. And he's the one who stays with me all these days later. He was the only one who talked about happiness.

When you look up the definition of SUCCESS in the New Webster's dictionary, it says : n. (I'll skip the latin roots here) 1. orig., result, outcome 2. a) a favorable or satisfactory outcome or result b) something having an outcome 3. The gaining of wealth, fame, rank, etc. 4. a successful person

Doesn't really say much, does it? Maybe that's why we all have our own definition. Me? I think I go with the formerly homeless cowboy. I go with happiness. But I choose that on a smaller day to day scale.

I call it a successful day when I find the shoe Lucky threw, against all odds, out in the pasture. The sun was going down and it was hard to see out there, but it was time well spent because my best friend...was out there with me. And so was my ageing dog, Gypsy. We walked along the edge of our pond, looking for the missing shoe. I knew it was probably going to be out there. The mud is gooey and always sucks my boots off if I go wading. Makes sense that it would probably be where a 1000 pound horse might loose his shoes too.

We had our adventure together, laughing and talking. I went out into the pond to check one of the hoof prints, thinking there was something sticking up out of the bottom. It was the edge of a turtle's shell. In my haste to withdraw, I lost my boots in the pond. But my finger was intact (it was a snapping turtle) and we were both laughing. Not a bad trade, all things considered.

We kept looking, talking about the news of the day while our eyes were down. Gypsy snuffled along with me, looking for potential dead stuff to roll in. And since my feet were now squishy and the sun was going down, it seemed like a good time to call it quits. (My hope is that pond mud is like any other mud pack; good for your skin. If so, then my feet should be gorgeous tomorrow!)

On the way back to the paddock, there it was! Lucky's shoe, gleaming in the grass, slightly bent and with 5 of the 6 nails still in the shoe. I'd found it! It was kind of like winning a lottery or something.

I'm cutting this one short. Ethan brought his Mom and Dad for a visit (next door neighbors). They're the kind of folks who live with everyday success too. But more on that later.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cowgirls Never Get the Blues!

I'm back in the saddle again! Well, OK...not technically. But close enough. Today I had another little adventure.

I've been working with both Luck and Patch in the evenings when John is home. He's decided (wisely, I think!) to have me train Apache. He doesn't always have time to work with Patch and it's beginning to confuse Patch. Who does he belong to? Who's herd boss?

We've both been noticing alot of tail switching, walking into personal space and general grumpiness on Patch's part. And that's not like him. He will occasionally challenge whomever is working with him, just to see what he can get away with. But he's never been grumpy about playing games. To the contrary, he loves it!

John told me that he doesn't have the time right now to do it right, so I took over. It's taken several days for Apache to understand that I'm his Kahuna, probably for good now (barring unforeseen circumstances...never tempt the fates!).

Now, when I go out to the paddock, both he and Lucky are right there vying for attention. "Me! Me first!" "No me me!" Lots of uh huh huhing all the time. I love that! And it's helped Apache to relax too. He's the kind of Horseanalilty that likes one Kahuna leading the way.

Now that you have the back story...this afternoon I went out to turn them out into the pasture. It was a very pretty afternoon. The skies were clear, temperature's only 76 and dry. September is the best!

I decided not to walk all the way around to the front entrance of the paddock. I have this great little stand that John built for me on the side of the paddock fence that makes it easily accessible if I want to climb over the fence. I decided to go that way, to climb over the fence and maybe stop on the top for a while to love up on the guys before I let them out.

Lately, last two weeks or so, I've been sitting on the top of the fence so they would be used to having me high, the way I would be sitting on top. Lucky's an old hand at that. He understands people on top. But for Patch, it's new. He only knows people on the ground where he's the taller one.

The first few times I sat on top of the fence, Apache stood back to watch. He wasn't really afraid. He just didn't understand me higher than him. It was a new thing, a new curiousity.

It didn't take long for him to begin coming up to me to check things out. He loves to smell shoes, so he spends his time checking out whatever pair I had on. (Note to self...I need new riding boots. Make that a priority.) After shoes lost his interest, he came to me so I could reach all of the itchy spots on top...the ones that he can only get to by rolling.

That was exactly what I was hoping for. Nearly every morning I've gotten up onto my perch, sometimes on the top rail and sometimes on the second up rail...or the third. I vary things alot with both of my big, beautiful equines. They're both Left Brained types (Lucky is a Left Brain Introvert and Patch is a Left Brained Extrovert), so I change it up alot. They like variety and get bored very easily.

This afternoon, when I was getting ready to put them out into the pasture, I took my perch on the top rail. Luck came over for his love and scritch, scratch. He likes to be rubbed right on the top of his poll, between his ears. It's our special place. He doesn't let many people do that. Then he went over to the bars/gate into the paddock and looked over his shoulder at me. He wanted out onto all that lovely grass.

Next it was Apache's turn. He came over and siddled up to the fence to inspect my shoes. I'd been out this morning buying supplies. There were all kinds of interesting things to smell.

I leaned over him and rubbed him on his whithers, putting some extra pressure there. He likes that. It always relaxes him. It's the classic "Mom" spot to scratch a horse. I was leaning way out over him to get to his itchy places, all the while holding onto the fence with one leg on the other side. It felt like a fairly secure place to be.

I leaned out...and leaned out, right over his back. Then I put my leg over his back and moved it around, sort of like playing Hokey Pokey over his back. "You put your left foot put your left foot out". I was playing Friendly game with my leg and foot on his back.

He looked at me with a "No worries!' kind of look. It looked it was a go. No tail swishing. No head up. Eyes soft. Ears kind of soft and floppy. From his point of view, I was just scratching him again, only with my foot and leg.

No time like the present. Take it when it's offered. I swung my leg over and put some weight on him, right on his back! I continued to hold onto the fence. I wanted a safe and easy way off if things got explosive. But they didn't. It was "No worries. No big deal." I had my leg over Apache!

People, that's a first. This afternoon is the first time I've been even close to being on top of my wild child. It's a red letter day! and now it's marked on every calendar I have. I PUT WEIGHT ON TOP OF MY COLT WITHOUT MY FEET ON THE GROUND!

I didn't push it. I only stayed up there for 10 seconds or so. And from his point of view it was no big deal...just another day, waiting to go out and getting some extra loving and scratching first.

Hats off to you Pat Parelli and your wonderful, articulate wife, Linda! I've done what I didn't think I could do with Patch.

I'm still taking him to a trainer next year when he's four, but in the meantime, we're making some real headway together. Hopefully training under saddle will go easier on him with all the extra, easy, easy, easy does it time that we're taking.

"Take the time that it takes, so it takes less time." I love that quote. It's my new mantra. We always do our best not to get too monkey brained around here...too direct line. I'm getting closer and closer to thinking like a horse and they have no time oriented goals.

After our little 10 second escapade, I went on over the fence to let them out, just like it was no big deal to throw my leg over Patch. I asked them to move back a bit, using driving from zone one (in front). They all stepped back with no questions asked and waited politely while I took down the bars. Each of them stopped to touch me with their nose, even Willow, 250 pound queen of the pasture (with 2000 pounds of attitude!).

And that was the start to the second half of their day.

I danced a victory dance all the way inside! WOOHOO!

It doesn't get any better than that!

Nancy, head thrown back and laughing!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lost and Found...

I'm back! Truth is, I lost my way in the vast inner spaces of the Internet. I forgot to write down my address, more the fool I! But since my audience is still a bit limited, I only have to blush (virtually, mind you) in front of a few people.

September is flying past. It always does. It's one of my favorite months of the year. Getting over the hump of August is such a huge relief. How could I not love September? Today it's in the low 70's and the temperature will drop until it's in the 50's. What a change from the last time I wrote. It was over 100 that day.

And it's raining too. I love the rain. Always have. But September rains are the best. They're still warm enough to go for a walk in. And since I now have my official farm boots, I can get as muddy as I want to!

We started our training back up with the horses at the end of August. It was a long Summer this year with all of the health issues that Lucky had (laminitis from the Spring grasses). Lucky has corrective shoes on now that have given him a great deal of relief from the pain. He's even foxtrotting again! That's huge.

We've been going over to the arena every day. All three of our herd love their time there. It's a nice long walk down the drive, playing games all the way. And then two or three hours of grazing in the arena and work afterwards. On the way home to their paddock, we get to play more games. So it's a whole morning every day of concentrated time with Lucky (my sorrel colored foxtrotter), Apache (my bay colored curly) and Willow (my miniature donkey). After that I groom them and put a bit more hay out until it's time to turn them out for the afternoon.

All three of them are glowing with health. And they greet me at the gate every morning, pushing each other out of the way to be first in line for loves and pats before the morning begins.

Yesterday we had a bit of an adventure. I went out to feed them their grain and get them ready for the arena and found the southwest wall and corner of Patch's stall pushed so far out of place the there was a gap of more than eight inches. I could see the house from the inside of the stall!

I couldn't find any real hoof marks in the wall, so I'm guessing that they were in there playing around (our stalls open onto the paddock so they can come and go at will) and someone pushed the other into the wall and, with 2 horses wieghing a total of more than 2000 lbs bouncing off of the wall, it just gave.

John wasn't home so I had to find a solution to the gap in the wall by myself. The funny part was watching the horses figure out how to open the stall door from the outside. Their curiosity overcame any need for hay or grain. All food was abandoned while they tried to figure out how to come in and watch me fit boards into a slanting gap in a wall. There were all kinds of lovely things to steal and run off with...hammer, nails, boards, a screw driver, my gloves. It was a bonanza of things to do!

They tag teamed me on that one too. Lucky got the bottom door open first. He came in and tapped me on the shoulder. "Hi Ma! Guess who? Can I play too?"

Oh well. It was another opportunity to use my Parelli skills. I backed him out of the stall, all the while keeping Apache and Willow out of the way. No worries. And turned back to the job at hand...

I managed to get the nails that were sticking out pulled from the wall and KAchunk! The door was open again. This time it was Apache. But his goal wasn't to touch me. He counted coup by dragging off the hammer, out into the paddock and then standing on it. "What a ya think of that?!"

Of course, when I went out to retrieve the hammer, Lucky went in to knock the board over that I had leaning against the wall, ready to fill the gap. Sigh! This was definitely a tag team operation and I was it!

What to do? What to do? It was too early to let them out onto the pasture. Autumn grasses are too rich to allow that, especially since the episode this past Spring with Lucky. I use the shed stall I was trying to repair to put one of them in when I'm taking them over to the arena, one at a time. So that was out. And the barn stall is too small to put all of them into (barn stall is 12 x 12 and the shed stall is 12 x 16...much bigger!).

I was stuck. I had to keep going. The morning was going to be what it was going to be. By the end of the morning, Lucky had opened the door into the stall 4 times, Patch 3 times and even Willow got into the act. She managed to get it open once too. After a while it was just easier to let them come in to watch, keeping all the tools in my pockets or bringing them in one at a time from outside the paddock. It took much longer than it should have to complete my repairs. It was past lunch time before I was finished.

Turned out that the post slanted one way...the wall slanted another way and the floor mats were pushed out of place and into the gap too. (Floor mats are nearly 100 lbs each and very hard to pick up) I ended up using three boards I found in the discard pile. They were all warped. I used the warp to fill up the crooked gap, one on top of the other.

Those old boards and the post in the corner of the shed are very hard and thick. And I'm not. My hands and arms still hurt from the pounding. But I completed the mission. The gap, easily big enough for a horse to get his leg and hoof stuck in it, was filled.

Are we having fun yet? YOU BET! I love every single, sweaty, frustrating, overwhelming moment that I spend out there with them. And I love the challenge of reading and practicing before I go out to train them too...not to mention the actual time spent training them and me too.

Being a cowgirl suits me just fine!

later gaters! Nancy, laughing!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In the beginning...

This is it. John led me here, so it's his fault if you get bored. (Always got to blame someone else for my short comings.)

I could do one of those "This is the first day of the rest of my life" things here, but I don't do cute. However, it is the first entry. I cannot tell a lie (or at least I can't tell any BIG lies. I"m pretty good at the little ones.)

I was born in Missouri, the Show ME state more years ago than I want to publicly admit to. I have the usual number of parents, but I'm an orphan now. (There's the sad element of the story.) And I have two brothers who have families, so I'm officially an Aunt (pronounced the East Coast way...Ont) to 10 nieces and nephews.

I'm also a Mom to 2 sons, both officially launched into their own orbits, and 2 horses and a donkey. I have lots of little boggies too...4 cats and 3 dogs. But no Grandchildren ... yet. And I'm still married to the same guy I met 37 years ago! Not too shabby as far as lifetime achievements go.

I'm an artist, horsewoman, a master gardener, and a sometimes writer. Along the way I've earned a diploma or two, illustrated 4 books, designed the interiors of a few houses, painted a few pictures, planted several gardens and pulled alot of weeds!

I take chances...lots of chances. I'm impulsive, hit my head on the wall ever so often and, occasionally, I learn from it too.

If you're here, reading this, I hope you enjoy the ride. It's going to be alot like the road I live on ; bumpy (love gravel roads and blue highways), twisting and up and down when you least expect it. Folks, I'm off the beaten track and have no plans for returning to normalcy.

Question authority! And never say die.

The adventure begins...