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Saturday, December 7, 2013

While I was away...

Yes, it's clearly been a while and oh so much has happened.  My last post was in early 2012 and here we are in December of 2013. Since 2012, we've had a severe concussion (for my daughter caused by a horse), a couple of deaths (a great horse and a great dog, that later of which was caused by a horse), an extremely challenging hoof abscess (for Bobbie, the toughest little pony on the planet) and extreme anxiety (much of which was caused by a horse or two or three).  Still not sold on buying that next horse?

To be fair, we've had many challenges in the last couple of years unrelated to our equine friends with a couple more deaths, surgeries, stress and etc., etc., etc..   If I seem a little casual about these horrific things, it's because we've been a bit beaten down and ...

On the bright side ... we've endured... and ... pause for dramatic affect ...  we truly are closer than ever as a family and man have we learned a lot about ourselves and been tested to the extreme.

As soon as we start wondering, "why us?", feeling sorry for ourselves for what we've been through or proud of ourselves for what we've been able to endure, we look closer at the people around us (feel free to do the same .. no really).  If we think about almost everybody we  know really well, they're all surviving and enduring something.  Whether it be for illness, anxiety, drugs, family woes, financial challenges, car repairs or anything else, we've realized that all of us are always fighting our way through something.

The beauty of challenge is surviving.   The beauty of surviving is we're still here.   The challenge of surviving is the fear of what's next.  The fight endures and like Winston Churchill, "We never give in"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Frequent Flyer ... Horse Construction

While I was writing Frequent Flyer, I decided that I again had to write about what I knew. I'm certainly no expert on horses (that's my wife and daughter) and I have lots to learn, but I know what I see anyway... I think ... if that makes any sense.  So when I created "Flyer", the title character, he had the traits, demeanor and history of 6 horses.

Flyer has the color, mammoth size and funny playfulness of Monty our bread eating Hanoverian from Germany. I can't see over his back when I stand next to him.  I'm 6'2"... or I was before I starting shrinking... I'm probably closer to 4'9" now.

He has Bobbie's lips, as nimble as fingers, the ability to pull a cart like Bobbie and the condition in which we first saw him.  When we first met Bobbie, he looked like a giant ball of burdock.  I honestly wasn't sure what my wife saw in him, he was covered in burdocks and dust.  He oddly has the cleanest most organized stall in the barn now.

He has the unique facial markings of Evelyn ... that almost look like the swords you see in old pirate movies.   She's a beauty and don't you dare tell her otherwise.

For the most part, he has the relatively calm demeanor of Shane and Zeus (Couldn't find a photo of Zeus who passed away on Thanksgiving morning a couple of years ago).  Neither horse would spook during a fireworks show, at a shooting range, during a thunder storm... yup ... atom bomb proof.

And, Flyer was a former race horse like Dion.  Dion is 23 ish now (my wife will correct me if I'm wrong) and he still thinks he could beat Seabiscutt with 1 leg tied behind his back, on a full stomach.  Given Seabiscutt's current condition ... I think it's a safe bet.

I picked the best qualities from each horse to construct Flyer.  Flyer's bad qualities...those all came from me!

Friday, January 13, 2012

TGIS ... Thank God It's Snowing

It's Friday, but one can forget the, oh, so mundane "TGIF" salutation on this glorious Friday.  For today in Central New York, it's all about its long forgotten cousin "TGIS"... Thank God Its Snowing!  Oh, and it has been so so long. 

Syracuse usually secures between 100 to 200 inches of snow a year. We pride ourselves on so little, but Syracuse Basketball and 20 feet of snow will make our chests swell with honor.

Yet, this year has been different.  No, not different in the way of Lady Gaga or the duck billed platypus.  We've had no snow to speak of this winter.  In mid January of 2012 and up until today (Friday the 13th), this winter has only blessed us with a mere pittance of a wimpy dusting of snow ... for the whole winter.  Now if it seems to you that I'm one of those odd frozen ducks who loves the white frozen happiness that falls so gently from the heavens... I'm sure it was a lucky guess.

Yes, Al Gore's Global Warming has reared it's ugly head in Central New York.  The shame of it all.  We water skied the week before Halloween.  We jogged in early December in tee shirts and shorts.  The horses have been caked in mud from what seemed like the never ending Spring. This has been the first green Christmas since Nixon was not a crook.
But today, Friday the 13th, behold the eternal beauty of snow.  We've had close to a foot of the hardened H2O today and more to come tomorrow, the 14th.   Yes, we're talking the proverbial "Winter Wonder Land" and "The Luster of mid-day of objects below"

We can make snow angels, snow men, snow caves, snow balls and snow forts like we were once again 10 years old with our frosted wool mittens barely able to bend in the subzero arctic cold. 

We can trudge to the mail box watching our foot prints form deep craters in the alien like land ... and then carefully trace our own foot steps back as if to hide from the hounds sniffing the scent of our trail.

We can feel the cold pinching our rosy cheeks like an over affectionate grandma on holiday schnapps binge.

The horses can dance, play and roll in the snow and survive perfectly cleansed, except for the odd little icicles that dangle from their whiskers.

Yes, I love the snow.  Yes, I'm a little different.  No, not like Lady Gaga.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Writing a Novel ... About a Horse ... Of Course

In March of 2001, I was a few months into a career move that I honestly was not happy with.   I decided to do a couple of things with my life:

1) I had to find a way out of the environmental engineering firm that I had moved to.
2) Until I solved problem 1, I needed to find a way to relieve the stress that I had with problem 1.

I decided to start doing something utterly impossible. No, not like eating asparagus, broccoli or 100 year old eggnog (No Fear Factor for me).   Actually, I decided to write a novel and it had to be about the things that I knew a little about ... say ... baseball, horses and history. I know ... it would been easier to write a novel about ballet, the World Wrestling Foundation and 100 year old eggnog.   

I told myself that I'd write a half page at a time, as I could find the moments.  I actually got up to about 30 pages or so in June of 2001.   However, that month,  I left the environmental engineering firm to go back to the bank that I'd worked at before and the writing stopped, because suddenly I once again had a purpose.

Then came the day that changed the view of every human on the planet who thought they had purpose. I knew a couple people who died on September 11th ... not people who I'd met face to face, but a couple of distant voices on the other end of the phone that I conversed with, did business with, joked and laughed with.

The two voices had names, lives, histories, mothers, fathers, homes, cars, pets, spouses ... families, dreams and purpose ... and everything that I had...except now... all of that was gone for them, their families and friends... even for my distant voices on the phone  

That was the day that I decided that I needed to expand my purpose.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still incredibly happy at the bank and will be until I retire in 20 years.  However, I just needed more ... another purpose. 

On September 12, 2001, I once again put my two hands on my keyboard and started typing as I had time.  I wrote a half page here and a half page there for ... 10 long years.  It was a long decade of learning, writing, editing, copyrighting, query letters, rejection, rejection, rejection, self publishing on and then ... poof.... Frequent Flyer

After all of that, who knows if my novel is any good?  I still find things that probably should change and even odd typos after reading it umpteen times (it's really hard to proof your own writing).  However, I like the book a lot.  It was fun, I learned a lot, achieved my goal and ... yes ... expanded my purpose.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Be Back Soon for the Winter

Winter is almost here. In fact, they received 18 inches of snow South and East of here a few days before Halloween. My brother, who lives 3 hours southeast of here, a bit closer to New York City, was without power for a week. He and his family moved in with friends until the power came back. You know you live in upstate New York when the kids have snowsuits under their Halloween costumes.

So much has happened since we last spoke... can't wait to tell you all about it.
"Bobbie No Socks The Life of Horse Ownership" will be back soon for the long winter.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

White Out in Orange Land

In addition to being our horses indentured servants, we're also slaves to our passion for Syracuse University basketball. Last Saturday, the Orangemen were away playing Louisville. For the week prior to the game, our anticipation was building as we'd not beaten Louisville away in close to a decade.

However, our dreams of victory were seemingly squashed within milli-seconds of the tip off as the result of some insane 3 point shooting by the enemy Cardinals from Kentucky. Rick Pitino, the Louisville coach stood smugly on sideline while Syracuse's coach, Jim Boheim, tried to calm his team by screaming profanity at them (I'm sure he's warm and fuzzy on non-game days). Unfortunately, Syracuse was down by about 20 points by half time.

When the second half began, I happened to glance up quickly from the TV to check on the horses outside in the pasture and noticed that it had started snowing lightly and that there was a slight wisp of a breeze. They seemed content and my attention turned quickly back to ESPN.

Then something magical began to happen. Ever so slowly, Syracuse, with some wild three point shooting of it's own, clawed its way back into the game. Down 20 ... became down 17 ... down 13 ... to about down 9 or 10 with 3 or 4 minutes to go.

During a commercial, I noticed that the wind had picked up incredibly (35 to 40 mile an hour winds the newspaper noted later) and the snow was coming down hard enough that it was getting harder to see the horses in the pasture.

Normally, we'd see the horses out in that nasty gale and we'd race with our coat tails hap-hazardly dangling behind us to bring them in. But ... but ... there was less than 4 minutes to go in a game that had momentum clearly moving in our direction. What we couldn't see in the pasture couldn't hurt us ... right? Through the gust of whiteness, it seemed that the the horses just hunkered down.

With 1:35 left in the game, Syracuse had pulled within 3 points. I was standing in the middle of the living room so I could see the horses with one eye and the game with the other.

Fortunately or unfortunately (depends on your perspective) the horses were in a complete white-out. You couldn't seem them at all. They quite literally had disappeared. Oh well... at least I had the game.

"They'll be fine. It's far too dangerous for us to go out and bring them in now," I said to my wife as the seconds passed in the game. Unfortunately, Syracuse's comeback also disappeared and they ended up losing the game 73 to 69.

As the final buzzer sounded, we quickly grabbed our coats and boots and ran to the pastures. By the time we reached them, the horses bay coats were plastered in whiteness and icicles dangled from their whiskers, like great Arctic explorers about to plant a flag at the North Pole.

Yes, some turn their horses out for the winter, but our pampered pansies were about as happy about being sacrificed for the "love of the game" as a turkey would be for the "love of the meal" on Thanksgiving day.

Bobbie (the pony) had an incredible look of disdain and as if he were thinking, "Well, I hope your happy ... because I'm @#&@ing mad you stupid &@*#." Yes, he has a bit of a trash mouth. He's also a bit more warm and fuzzy when it's not game day.

While we had a bit of February thaw earlier in the week and one could actually see some grass, in spots, poking through the snow yesterday. Today is once again game day and the winds have picked up again to 50 mph (plus). Syracuse plays Rutgers at home at 4:00 pm and the horses are sitting warmly in their stalls. We don't want to risk Bobbie's wrath again.

Monday, February 7, 2011

There's a Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On!

The schools here were a little quick on the draw this past week. For Tuesday, the weatherman had been predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow for the day. We got a call at 5:45 am that school was canceled. Only problem was ... it was a little bit like drinking flat soda. You anticipate one thing and you get another... no fizz ... no snow.

Despite the lack of snow, there was a bit of excitement that day. My wife was walking horses out to the pasture and happened to look into the garage. As she walked by, she noticed that one of the empty grain bags by the trash can was standing straight up, shaking violently and inexplicably. She called for my 17 year old son who, anticipating a "mini-me" salsa dancer or perhaps a steroid laced mouse, tipped the bag over by tapping it with a shovel. The wild bag shaker was neither a mouse nor Charo, rather it was watermelon sized possum.

Possums are nocturnal and normally won't come out during the day unless it's too cold, at night, during the winter to secure food (yes, I love the info you can find on the Internet).

When the bag was tipped, the possum came running out of the bag like the Steelers front line towards my wife who was standing just out side the garage. She screamed running away from the possum. The possum, stopped on a dime, screamed on the inside like a horror movie heroine and decided not to leave the garage. The Possum, clearly shaken, curled up in a ball and ...decided to play ... well ... possum, just playing dead.

My son decided to leave it alone to see if it would depart on its own and took off to his girlfriends house. The possum did eventually leave the garage, but circled the house like Kujo waiting to disembowel it's next victim. Possum rarely get rabies (yes, that Internet thing).

It made its way onto our deck and decided to hang out by out back door, apparently, wanting to enter our warm home like a proper rodent would.

My wife, trapped by the deranged rodent, made the ultimate tactical error ... she called me for my advice. I quickly responded, "Cool, did you get a picture." She didn't. I told her to grab a whistle and scare it. She grabbed a whistle out of the junk drawer, ran upstairs, as I suggested, to the bathroom window and blew as hard as she could to frighten Franken-Possum-Stein away.

My advice was as useless as it always is ... as upon hearing the screeching whistle, the possum did what possums do and once again ... played possum (who knew that wasn't a myth).

The only thing the whistle blowing accomplished was spook the horses in the pasture into a wild frenzy and irritate my wife. At that point I thought it best to play possum too.

Fifteen minutes later the possum left on it's own... probably on its way to its girl friend's house.