The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, March 21, 2016

MINIVER and My Thoughts on Dogs , Waiting...

I am sitting here on the floor with Miniver, my big beautiful girl. She's part St. Bernard, part Great Pyrenees, and part Bernese Mountain dog. She is one of the sweetest souls in the body of a dog that I have ever lived with. She weighs more than 150 lbs, is so big she can rest her head on my dining room table, and her back legs are giving out. She is only six or seven years old.

I brought her home knowing this might happen, but I also had hopes it wouldn't. I thought if I used the services of a chiropractor, used Reiki, home made food and excellent grain free kibble, brushed her every day, played with her and loved her, took her on long, slow easy walks for exercise, did physical therapy ... I thought if we did all of these things I could head off her collapsing back legs at the pass. A massage every night, arnica for inflammation these past several weeks, supplements, prayers. Nothing is stopping the inevitable. AND I AM ANGRY!

I am so angry I can not see straight. I'm pissed off at the fools who do not spay or neuter their dogs. I am infuriated at the back yard breeders who breed their dogs so they can sell cute puppies without checking in to their backgrounds, certifying that hips and joints are healthy going back for generations; that food, exercise, love and a really good reason is there for bringing puppies in to a world where hundreds of thousands of dogs are being put down for lack of space in the shelters. 

Do we all love our dogs? Of course we do. I've had dogs in my life since I was four years old with only a lapse of four years during that time. I can not imagine my life without my dogs. They are my constant companions, every single one of them. And Miniver has been one of the best. She loves without reserve, worries when I'm not here. She sleeps next to my bed and moves from one room to the next with me during the day, never misses her time at the barn. 

The day that I injured myself in a gate between my horses she stepped up, backed the horses off and supported me. She put herself at exactly the place she needed to be so I could lean on her. No one taught her that. She just knew what to do. And when I came home from the emergency room she was at the door waiting, crying, worried because she wasn't able to come with us. She, again, put herself exactly where she needed to be so I could lean on her. No complaints, just patience. And today I need to be here for her because her legs are giving out. There's nothing wrong with the rest of her, just her back legs. Her hips hurt and her back feet curl under her. 

Who's fault is that? It's the fault of the people who allowed her mother to breed with her father. Why weren't they spayed and neutered? BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE LAZY! And it's the fault of the backyard breeders who do not take the time it takes to learn what to look for in a breed of dog, ANY breed of dog. Nope. Just got to have all of those cute puppies without thinking about the long term consequences. Why do they do that? Because they're greedy, thoughtless and LAZY. And it's also the fault of the jerk who threw her away, leaving her out on a country road frightened and bewildered, because it turns out she was going to be big and inconvenient. She was shot and hit by a car before she was found. She was only less than a year old and weighed more than 80 lbs. 

That cute little rolly polly puppy began to grow up. Well f@#cking duh! She'd been at the shelter for seven weeks without coming out of her kennel when I met her. Volunteers were afraid of her because she was big. No one thought to check for injuries and, being the stolid soul that she is, she didn't complain. We found the injuries after we brought her home. Her tail was broken in three places and she had buck shot in her. The Vet who did the spay for the shelter did nothing about her injuries. Not his job. Nice guy. (AS$HAT!) I figured it out with the help of a Vet I go to. I found the injuries by running my hands over her body. 

Why do people still show so little sense? I just don't get it. You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to understand the basics. If you're not an expert who has an exceptionally good reason to breed dogs, i.e.. cattle and sheep dogs, watch dogs, service dogs, companion dogs then STOP making puppies. STOP IT! And if you're bringing a dog home be prepared to pay for neutering or spaying, PLEASE. Please, for the sake of all the unwanted dogs who sit in cement cells waiting for someone to save them, PLEASE no more unchecked breeding.

Will people listen to this? No. I don't think any of us will. People like me will go out and adopt or rescue dogs who need help and thoughtless people who want puppy duppy wuppies will keep on bringing dogs in to the world. Other's will dump them because they don't understand the word commitment. They find out raising puppies is work, not just cute photo ops. And they cost money to care for and time and love, endless, deep, soul searing love. 

So here I sit on the floor writing this, giving Miniver yet another massage, rubbing her shoulders and her head in my lap, drooling on the key board, waiting for the Vet. We're going to try steroid shots and B and multiple vitamins, hope we can back the inflammation off for a while longer. Aside from the fact we don't have the money for an operation for her hips (and I won't do a gofundme for that either. Too many people who really need the help for me to ask for what is my responsibility to manage.) I won't put her through the pain, fear and long hard recovery process to keep her for another year. I don't believe in doing that to dogs. As much as I want her here with me, it isn't right.

Apple is here too with her head resting on Miniver and her feet on my legs. I'm not crying. That will be for later when Miniver leaves us for her next plane of existence . Instead I am enjoying an afternoon with her stinky self, big head and giant paws on my legs and big, brown melty eyes looking at me with absolute trust. But heaven help the jerks who did this to her if I ever meet them. I am full of wrath today, pure unadulterated anger, a terrible need to hit them in the knee joints and let them see what a brave dog deals with for the love of their human. 

Please, all of you, when you decide you want a dog consider going to your local shelter. If you can't have a dog then volunteer or donate things like old, soft, clean towels and blankets, paper towels, money for food and veterinary services. Offer to walk them, throw balls for them or bring in beds that you see on sale. Those cement floors are hard and cold. And please, PLEASE, SPAY AND NEUTER your dogs. Our dogs are such a gift in our lives. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Feed them as well as you can afford to. Keep them clean and safe. Spend time with them. That's all they want, just love. And take pictures, lots and lots of pictures. That's all you'll have much too soon.

I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling because that is what I do... with Minver and Apple, listening to a Kansas wind and waiting...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I had to do it, I had no CHOICE.

CHOICE. Scelta (Italian), Eleccion (Spanish), Choix (French), Vybor (Russian), Valg (Norwegian), Keuze (Dutch), Wahl (German) and the list goes on and on. It's a word that shows up in every language I could find on the translators online. And it's something we all deal with every day and, sometimes, nearly every moment of the day. 

You hesitate leaving the house to go shopping because you want to check on the back door and when you get to the highway you go left to take the short cut. Two minutes later there's a crash at the intersection you would have passed through if you had gone right and you never knew it could have been your car involved.


1An act of choosing between two or more possibilities:the choice between good and evil
1.1[MASS NOUN] The right or ability to choose:I had to do it, I had no choice
1.2A range of possibilities from which one or more may be chosen:you can have a sofa made in a choice of forty fabrics
1.3A thing or person which is chosen:this disk drive is the perfect choice for your computer


1(Especially of food) of very good quality:he picked some choice early plums
2(Of words or language) rude and abusive:he had a few choice words at his command

You leave for class an hour early because there's an exhibition you want to see, one that has two of your pieces in it, and literally bump in to a guy walking the same direction you are because he is late to class and running to get there. You end up spending the afternoon skipping both classes and sitting out in the park sharing a Dr. Pepper and talking all afternoon. 46 years later you're still together with two sons, two grandchildren and two step grandchildren and still spend time debating, talking, laughing and loving together. CHOICE and, perhaps, chance the close cousin of choice.

I think a lot about the beginning, middle and end of things probably because I am a story teller, an artist and because I'm closer to the last third than I am the first two, at least on a time scale. 

As a story teller I love the structure of a well written piece. If the first line of a short story, novel, essay or even text book isn't intriguing I loose interest very quickly and move on to something else. I'm not one of those readers who is willing to spend my time slogging through a slow beginning, waiting for the engine to start. There are more excellent stories out there than I can read in my lifetime. No reason to waste the opportunity to find them by reading a snoozer.

11. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle 

One of the best first lines ever, and one of my favorite books too. I have a signed first edition my Mom gave me when the book was published in 1962. She made the choice to go to a book store during her lunch hour and Madeleine L'Engle happened to be there signing books. I still read that book when I'm home alone on a dark and stormy night. I travel via tesseract to another world where Meg and Charles's Father is being held captive by a super brain that controls the whole world, a terrible place that has given itself to the dark side for the sake of perfect safety. It's a cautionary tale about the dangers of allowing someone else to make your decisions, to direct your life and care for you for your own good. I've never forgotten what I learned from that book. I raised my sons to think for themselves and to always question authority. I've made most of my decisions in politics, religion, friendships and every other aspect of my life based on the ideas in this book. CHOICE.

"Choice, the problem is choice." I love it when Neo wakes up and realizes what is being done to everyone. It's another world that has given itself to the "dark side" for the sake of a safe and controlled life. 

Here in the States we are traveling through another year of heavy politics with the Presidential elections coming up as well as elections that will change the majority of seats in Congress. It's a slimy, uneven, manipulated and corroded process of mud slinging, deceit and playing to the various news and media sources. A majority of the population here has lost faith with their government status quo. A few years back a decision titled Citizen's United, made by the Supreme Court, opened the gate to unlimited funds available to candidates from ANY source including contributors from outside our own country. It's been an absolute disaster for us, leading to massive corruption on a vast scale. The American Dream is in real danger of ceasing to exist. People are easily led when they're afraid and angry. They seek out whomever makes the loudest noise, especially the person who seems to be walking outside the box. 

CHOICE. So here we are, trying to make a reasonable, thoughtful, intelligent CHOICE. Who do you vote for when a loud mouth billionaire with an ugly comb over and a bimbo wife is one possible candidate. He makes all kinds of angry noise, inciting people to riots. Then again, maybe those uneasy town hall meetings are actually being paid for by the opposite side to enhance the ugliness of this so called candidate. Hard to tell since everything is so slanted in our press.

There's a woman who's husband was President years ago. Together they have amassed a fortune worth more than 200 million dollars while in office. Even if they've been really successful in their investments I'm hard pressed to see where that kind of money has come from, especially considering the lifestyle they lead. She's under inditement too for a series of emails of questionable nature. 

And there's a man who has been an activist all of his career. He hasn't been in the military and knows very little about how it works, and he has a socialist agenda. If my classes in economics serve me correctly socialism is a system much like communism. It collapses under it's own weight with the few carrying the many. It's an ideal that has not worked in other countries, leaving people waiting in the emergency rooms for care for long, endless hours until they, sometimes, collapse. People die while waiting for their turn inline for surgery that will save them but we must follow the rules. Too bad if you die. Must have been your time. The healthy and young are somewhat content under socialism, at least until there is a real emergency. Under socialism you are constantly told where to go, what to do and are watched at all times. Sound familiar?

CHOICE. I will vote even though the choices are meager at best this year and verge on a horror show at worst. It's a freedom people died for the idea of, the possibility that citizens might actually be able to participate in the CHOICE of who they have at the helm. Do I have faith in the system? No, not really. It's much too easy to hack in to an automated voting system. Change a few numbers here, a few there and the election slides in a new direction. But I'm still going to the polls anyway. I am making a CHOICE to participate, to voice my opinion. It gives me the opportunity to grouse about the next so called President and representatives and/or senators who make a show of running our country. (And we all know it's the people with money who really call the shots, but that's another essay.)

So go ahead, make a CHOICE. Be a cloud, a wave and change your path because making the decision is the beginning, the middle and the never ending ending. It's the process that counts, the learning and growing and becoming someone else again and again. It isn't going to change if you don't make the decision, the CHOICE, to try.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

TUFFIE and PICCASO or Where The Path Leads

Last weekend I went to a neighbor's place to see some of the horses she's trying to rehome. She's leaving the United States. I'm guessing she is fed up with our political state of affairs but she didn't say. This is one of the little fellas she wanted to find a home for. She had another name for him, but I called him Tuffie.

 He was fierce and brave, quite confident inside that little body of his. He is most definitely a Left Brain Extrovert. He moved the whole time I was there, insisting that I pay attention to him. "Tall horses drool. Little horses RULE!" He talked too, using his pint sized voice to his advantage. He is in the class size for Mini's called A, in other words really, really tiny. He already has a new home, not surprisingly. I was glad to hear that because I was completely charmed and ready to simply tuck him in to the front seat of the truck and drive home with him.

I've brought a Mini home before, thinking that Willow would enjoy having a buddy just her size. In the way that horses have of surprising us, he joined up with Apache instantly and they were best buddies. The two of them were inseparable. He was named Tug, the perfect name for him. I would have kept him too but the person he belonged to would not give me a receipt showing full ownership (a hard word for me spiritually but a necessary one in legal terms). She wanted to retain full control. I sent him back and both Apache and I cried for weeks afterward. 

And Willow? She was disdainful, resolute in her opinion that she is most certainly NOT a donkey. In fact she is a 2000 pound Percheron who wanted nothing to do with a horse that looked like it's legs were missing. " Huh! I am above this sort of equine, WAY above him in fact." And that was that.

I was talking with John this morning while we ate breakfast, about the unexpected turns our lives take us and the way it always seems to be pulling or knocking, as the case may be, us on to the path we are meant for. I've never been sure if that is simply my emotions and mind taking control and saying, " There, there. You're fine. This was meant to be. It's all good. " as a way of comforting myself, the way I comforted little boys when they had skinned up knees or if that's really what happens and it is all predestined. Who knows? It's all bigger than I can comprehend. But my life does seem to tug, nudge and push me back on to the path of living in the mysterious world of horses.

I came back to horses half way through my life. It's an eccentric way to live but I'm following the path of the artist, not exactly main stream there either. It's no wonder I'm living with a herd on a preserve with the sounds of the wind, birds, frogs and horses as my music. They keep me focused and outside my comfort zone, learning, and enhancing my creative problem solving. Horses in any size at any age or stage in their lives are part of my path. Maybe it is preordained. 

With horses and in my work I keep pushing to find my way to being playful, non linear, alive and outside my comfort zone. The two sides of my life reinforce each other. I have no doubt I am exactly where I am meant to be. I am evolving. And, like my brief time with the charming Tuffie, I am here, immediate and involved in the process. Even my drifting has purpose. 

Here's to all of the bumps in the path, the mountains and valleys, earthquakes and after shocks that set me on my way. Thank you Tuffie. You've reminded me that life is a game worth playing and the path is always fascinating. You really do rock, little guy. 

I have a feeling I'm going to have to go visit Tuffie in his new home too. He and I have more business together. (His new home is with another neighbor up the road the other way. Funny how that works out.) And I'm taking my camera, paper and something to draw with and imagination too when I go to see him.

Don't I wish I could see the weird and winding path I've left behind me and the road I have coming up ahead!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, head back and laughing at the way things go!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

HILLLBILLIE HO DOWN and TURMERIC, or How I Worked to Save My Laugh

We have, for the first time since we've lived out here, challenging neighbors. They're trashy, leaving cigarette butts, cans and plastic, paper trash and junk in the yard. Their solution to keeping things tidy is to push it in to a pile and put a tarp over it. For months they left a washing machine and dryer on the front porch. There's a trailer in the front yard, a BIG trailer, with the hose used to drain the, ahem, refuse from the bathroom and kitchen running down to the drainage ditch along the front of the property. And they are living here on the preserve with us, next door.

This is the land we live on. We've been here for fifteen years keeping it clean, working on fields and fence lines, hiking out and hauling in ancient refuse from owners in the past (when ranchers and farmers dumped in to stream beds). We keep ponds healthy, cut down the trees in danger of falling across drives and paths and leave the rest alone in the forrest because there are species of insects, fungi and animals, whole eco systems that live off the downed trees. 

We have lived in true peace and have shared it with as many people as we could, inviting them to come out and walk the land or to quietly sit and listen to the wind in the grasses and trees, birds singing, owls and coyote calling. They come to meet our horses, watch the stars at night since there is more of a view here than in town where light pollution interferes. I've taken photos, painted the landscape, written stories about it and have even taken people who are at the end of their lives, on this plain, out to fulfill bucket list requests of listening to this quiet. It has been a haven for us, a true gift of peace in our lives. Neither of us have ever taken that gift lightly either. We, both, believe in caring for the land. No chemicals are ever used here. The flowers I plant are native flowers that would grow in this habitat. I do my research before I add them to the landscape. Our gardens are organic and everything has been built with the idea of esthetics, low impact on the environment and easy removal in the future. 

Actually I liked the show this music came from. It was funny, at least as long as it wasn't in my backyard. Our "neighbors" moved in with the idea that they could set up duck blinds and deer blinds to hunt, fish in the ponds, ride motor cycles and dune buggies in the fields and generally be, uuummm, a challenge for the rest of us to live next to. I spend hours every week cleaning up trash that blows in to our space and paddocks and pastures. For people who identified themselves as " We're country folk! " they sure have a different point of view of how to live on the land. 

I'm not sure how to deal with it, so I contacted the local university who owns the preserve now to let them know, very diplomatically, about some of the things that concern us. They seemed very cavalier about it, weirdly enough. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The endowment association that now owns the land is a slow moving bureaucratic entity and we are a tiny, comparatively, blip on their radar. So I am doing the clean up, taking care of the land the way I always have, and so is John. And I'm using the situation as extra incentive to work even harder to keep this place clean and tidy, to make our gardens full of more flowers and herbs and to stay away from people who party late at night and gift us with gun shots in the middle of the night. Did I remember to say challenging?

We've become more vigilant about checking for trash (not that there was any before, sigh...) and not leaving the ranch more than I have to. Twice I've come back and found evidence of someone being in our barn. One of those times there was hay in the paddock that we did not put out. My herd has a four time a day schedule with good prairie hay and are happier for it. All of them are glossy with health and one of those days I came home and they were lethargic and there was hay in the paddock that I did not put out. Things in my barn had shifted around and I am, to say the least, not a happy camper. 

I've decided to see it as an ongoing living art installation, a play in twelve parts each part being another month, until they come up on their next contract to live here. It has occurred to me that we are seeing the direct results, on a small scale, of what is happening all over the globe. A lack of education and compassion, a disconnect from the Earth, is evident in these living patterns going on in the little white house next door. When people are self medicating with alcohol or drugs and living in chaos, there is obviously deep distress. It's a terrible shame. This land has so much to offer people who take the time to listen to it. I miss all of the wonderful artists who've lived here in the past, documenting the land with paint, photography, music, sculpture and gardens. 

Time will pass and they will leave, the land will recover and our quiet will come back. The longer we're here, the more the seasons play out their stories, it becomes easier for me to simply watch and learn. Some day we will be gone too and the land will still be here,hopefully with the wild flowers we've left and the old paths still in place for someone else to discover how beautiful it is. It's going to be OK. 

With the idea in mind pf healing and patience, I'm going to write out the recipe for Golden Paste that we've started making. It's an excellent way to help with the healing of minor wounds and illness, supporting the immune system and dealing with other types of inflammation. I give it to my equines, dogs, cats and us in small doses. I always use herbs and oils in a very conservative way. 


1/2 cup turmeric powder ( preferably organic)

1 cup filtered water plus 1 cup in reserve (drink what you don't use )

1/3 cup first press virgin olive oil OR coconut oil ( preferably organic )

1/2 to 1 and 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper (Start out conservative on the use of pepper, with the 1/2 tsp. Later you can work up to the larger amount. Pepper and oil help to activate the medicinal properties of the turmeric. )

Use a stainless steel pan and wooden spoon, turn your burner on low and begin the slow cook process. You will only be stirring for ten minutes, more than worth the effort. I love the way turmeric smells. It has a sweet, almost perfumed scent. As you stir it will begin to thicken. Add water to keep it the consistency of potato soup or thick paint. During the last minute add the coconut or olive oil and pepper, using a whisk to mix thoroughly. Turn off the heat and decant to a container. Bring to room temperature before putting a lid on. Refrigerate.

Golden Paste has a bitter taste to it by itself. It's made to be mixed in to other things such as soup, smoothies, pasta or stir fry dishes or in to your animal's grain or dinner. Use tiny amounts to begin with, less than the size of your little finger nail. This is concentrated stuff so you won't need large amounts. 

When you're cooking with it there will be a subtle perfumed smell, very nice.

You can also find turmeric essential oil on line or at stores like Sprouts, Whole Foods or your local CoOp. Be sure to use a carrier oil with it when using it (ie. olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil), no more than five drops to a tablespoon of carrier oil.

More recipes to come. I hope this helps to take you all down the path to living a healthier life and healing the earth too. 

I am, ever yours, Nancy, laughing at the way things go