Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

C: About to Embark.....!!!!


Well, we're in the last days of the countdown to our trip. I have decided not to call it "vacation," but rather "suspension of reality," for that is what we hope for. V and I both need a dose of fantasy for a while, and we intend on self-indulgence to the max.

We are taking the laptop and cameras and hope to be posting often from our trip (we'll see...). We are excited about the dimension that our blogging offers us. It gives us a great opportunity to share our adventure--and adventures are always best shared.

I think we are both having some angst about leaving--does anyone go away for a trip without worrying that she has not covered all the bases or that something dreadful will happen while she is away? My worry is the former: Have I written all the letters that need sending; made all the phone calls that need making; drafted all the pleadings that have to go out? My desk is a nightmare right now; something like this picture.

V worries about her ailing daughter and grandchildren. But, deep down, we both know we aren't all that indispensable to those whom we leave behind, and I have faith that we will both return rested and ready to better take on our challenges after the respite. And we are both anticipating a great adventure. I told V that it is going to be "Thelma and Louise," but without the law-breakng, and with a happy ending!

And we are both in the throes of packing I have already overpacked and am starting to remove things that I know are just r.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s to take, and still I fear I am leaving something behind. But that always--always--works out. What I don't have with me I'll either make do without or find it on the trip.

Thanks to those of you who voted for my wood man question. Laura had the right answer, I think, although she was in the minority. She's a single country girl for sure. Her take was that this guy might just be a little desperate, and I finally figured that one out. My son met him, and he stacked a beautiful load of firewood on my utility porch. Son says he's every bit the character I thought he might be. Laura is right, though, I do think he is a good resource for my firewood needs, and I thank my neighbor, midlife country girl for the referral. He's just a little challenged in the social boundary area.

Anyway, we're going to be thinking of you all while we are on this (picture of our actual ship, taken on last year's cruise with MIL):


And we hope to prove it in our posts! C

PS - I have to say that V and both wince in thinking of the juxtaposition of our lap-of-luxury week being played out on the same ocean that holds the Haitian suffering. It's not a pretty picture in my mind to think of a view over Haiti with our cruise ship on the horizon. My son soothes, saying that the two are not connected and, he's right, this trip has long been paid for on the easy-pay plan and far in advance of the earthquake disaster. Still...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

C's sister, "K," works every day with her, and she is known throughout the office for her "persnicketiness" on the subject of coffee vessels...here's her take:

Having coffee is as much about the "experience" as anything; and choosing the correct coffee cup is crucial! When I have a large variety of cups to choose from, I have certain eliminating criteria such as, "too big", "wrong color", "wrong handle", and the worst, "wrong shape, lip thickness, and lip curvature!!!"

I am not a fast coffee drinker, so if the coffee cup is "mug-sized", the coffee gets cold before I can drink it, causing multiple reheats in the microwave!!! This often requires a trip down the hall and is, quite frankly, not worth it.

The perfect coffee cup is, of course, white or at least off white. If the cup is NOT white on the outside, it must at least be white on the inside. Why? the greatest amount of color contrast with the coffee, of course. (this means, the stronger the coffee, the greater the contrast! Mmm...).

You may not think that a handle carries that much weight in this decision, but have you ever been served coffee in a cup that your fingers do not fit into the handle. Or one where you can only squeeze a couple of them in? This makes for a miserable experience. When you pick a coffee cup up with the right shaped handle, you will instinctively know it that it is right. (handle size and shape, however can be superseded by atmosphere, for instance, one would not care about handle shape or size if you were sipping cafe au lait at Cafe DuMonde in New Orleans).

I can drink out of a mug, but don't like the shape of mugs. They are typically straight, up-and-down sort of things. Very bulky. I don't mind a cafe mug too much, because they are very retro/vintage in style - like something you would find from a 50's era diner, but the lip of diner mugs are generally too thick, often causing an embarrassing "slurping" noise. If, however, the lip turns inward even slightly, this can actually cause you to dribble!!! The best shaped lips are the ones that are thin and curved slightly outward toward your mouth, sort of like a perpetual spout around the cup.

Anything less than these criteria would be considered "settling" and diminishes the entire experience. If you are offered coffee in styrofoam, pass it up, because this is an indication of necessity or desperation and does not lend itself to a satisfying coffee experience, even if the company is good! --K

Sunday, January 17, 2010

C: Horse Sense??

Horses were always a big part of my life. I gave my last three away just months ago, finding that as a single (somewhat depressed) person, keeping horses was more than I can do right now. But, still, they're in my blood. I know a lot about them and, as you can see, some of it is learning by experience!!

A little while ago Four Miles North of Nowhere made a little mention of ordering up a harmonica. It set me thinking about the one and only time I decided to learn to play. I am musically-challenged in all areas, but thought I might could manage a harmonica. We ran a boarding stable to defray the expense of our horse hobby, and we had quite a little cadre of trail riders. We’d meet at 5 a.m. on Spring and Summer Saturday mornings and ride the trails a couple of hours, adjourning for a late Waffle House breakfast. Those were the days!!

Anyway, I thought I’d just add a little Western atmosphere to our rides by playing “Happy Trails” and other cowboy tunes as we ambled along the trails. I secretly practiced and practiced till I had a repertoire of about three appropriate tunes, smug in my thoughts at how impressed my fellow equestrians would be at my talent.

On the day of the ride, we all saddled up and were twenty minutes or so into our ride, traveling at a leisurely pace. At the time I was riding my Appaloosa gelding, “Domino,” who was not known for a level head. I pulled out my harmonica, thinking only of my surprise to my group and concentrating on getting my blowing just right. You can imagine how I felt when at the first “toot” of the harmonica, Ol’ Domino must have thought the sky was falling because he bolted like a bat out of you-know-where. Of course, the other horses did about the same thing…it was a sheer wonder and a testament to our good horsemanship that no one was unseated! But I felt like a complete idiot. I have been around horses all my life, and I know that the unexpected is frightening to a horse. I had not taken the time to break them in to the strange sound of the harmonica.

We were shaken up badly that day, and I stuffed my musical instrument back into my pocket. I was eventually able to play on the trail, but only after I had properly introduced the horses to the sound by playing it for them in the barn…as I should have in the first place!

And thinking of this near miss reminded me of a horse story from my elementary days. It is an experience that should have taught me enough to avoid the harmonica situation to begin with.

One of our favorite television programs back then was “Bonanza.” Remember that famous western family of men? I can still remember each horse in the cast! I was fascinated in one episode where Little Joe used his beautiful paint to pull a log out of the way. “Why, I bet Ginger could do that!” I thought.

The next day I saddled Ginger up, taking a long rope with me. I rode down to the end of our pasture near our pond, where I knew a fallen log was lying. I hitched one end of the rope to the saddle horn and the other to the log. I pulled on Ginger’s bridle, urging her to move forward. As she did, sure enough, the log came too, and Ginger, being no fool, knew that it was just not right that a log could move. She did what any self-respecting survivalist herd animal would do: She lit out like a streak of lightning, leaving me standing there watching her and the log race back and forth in zig-zags across the pasture. Poor Ginger! The faster she ran, the faster that killer log came at her. Again, it is a wonder that either the horse was not hurt or I was not run down. She finally stopped, trembling, giving up and thinking (I’m sure) that the log would pounce on her at any moment.
I was, naturally, terrified. I don’t think I even told my parents what had happened.

Anyway, thank you, KATH for spurring these memories of my good times and my foolishness with my horses. It’s kinda a wonder I ever lived to grow up!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

C: Updates and Funnies

Just to let you know, Mother-in-Law is doing so well. She is using her cane and walks with a limp, but she’s a survivor and is going to be just fine.
My biggest worry for her now is confinement. I have to work each day—sometimes long hours, even when I plan otherwise. This leaves her in the house for days at a time. And now I have this cruise with V planned (since last summer) and will be away for ten days. My son will be on premises during this period, but he works, too.

One hurdle I want to see her get over before I go is driving. Last Saturday she drove the 12 miles of our country road into town. When we reached the busy thoroughfare, however, she pulled over and asked that I take the wheel. Following that we’ve had a cold spell so deep that she hasn’t wanted to venture out, and I don’t blame her. Weather is balmier now, however, and I hope she will log some miles this weekend. I’d love to leave knowing that she has the freedom to get in her car and leave if she wants to.

The blogging has become a great hobby for her, and her daughters are loving the written record it leaves. If you haven’t visited her at Immigrant Daughter, do so sometime and encourage her. I told her the other night that I can see her “voice” developing as she writes more and more.

My Mom has struggled with low blood count (don’t know why) which makes her tired and not want to do anything. But last two visits to the Doc she did not have to take the shots, which means she is doing better; and she’s feeling better, too. We were able to have lunch together last week—eating way too much Mexican food! She had a “new” kind of taco called “old-fashioned” tacos!! The shells were the original flour kind (not corn) but were deep-fried. Looked delicious but probably an artery clogger!

As for me…I’m busier at work than a bee! This is a good/bad thing. I am thankful to have work in these times and the income it provides. On the other hand I cannot get to everything. It keeps me in a pressure-cooker but, I think, a good cooker.

And it gives me some chuckles. My job as an attorney brings me into contact with people who have lots of stress, too, and sometimes in the midst of that stress some funny situations come into play. So often I think, “I wish I could post about this…” knowing that I simply can’t because of client confidentiality. I think I have a window into a broader spectrum of American life than do most people, and I love that part of my job.

We have fun listening to people try to manage legal terms (much, I suppose, like how my doctor feels when I try on medical terminology). Just the other day we had the very-common request for a “Quick Deed.” What we know is that these people don’t necessarily need a deed rapidly; what they’ve been told (and misheard) is that they need a “Quitclaim Deed.” We also had a good laugh over a question as to whether we have a “notorious republican” in our office. The answer is “yes, we do and, by the way, we also have a notary public or two if that might be what you are actually looking for.”

But my latest amazing-funny conversation came at home. About a month ago, my neighbor, midlife country girl called me to see if I needed firewood, and gave me a number. I got voice mail and left a message but never heard back…Until just night before last. Get this scene:

Phone rings: “C? Hi, this is Tommy.” Pause, more pause

I’m sorry, Tommy who?”

Tommy the wood guy you called. I’m sorry I’m just gettin’ back with you but my girlfriend is still in Wyoming.”

My turn. I was fairly speechless. What on earth did his girlfriend being in Wyoming have anything to do with me? “Tommy, I don’t know whether to be sorry that your girlfriend is still in Wyoming or to say hallelujah.”

Well, it’s jes that she has to call my voice mail from there, take down my messages, then call me back so I can write ‘em down. I don’t know how to check ‘em. She let ‘em pile up ‘fore she check on ‘em, so I’m jes’ now gettin’ back to you. But I got a good loada wood fer ya.”

Great, Tommy! Let’s plan on this weekend. I’ll be able to meet you on Saturday.”

Nah, I’m gonna bring it tomorrow.”

Noooooo. I’m not able to take delivery tomorrow.

Well, how ‘bout after work?” I didn’t want to; he wanted me to. I capitulated and met him halfway, telling him to call me mid-day so I could see if my schedule would allow me to leave early. It didn’t.

I was gone in the lunch hour—well, more than the lunch hour. I was gone for 2 ½ hours through mid day. When I checked in with the office, the staff was going nuts. He had called them a.l.l…a.f.t.e.r.n.o.o.n. This guy does not know social boundaries—at all. Here’s what my staff told me from various phone calls from Tommy: “Tommy needs you to call him, but he needs you to be quick and not make him call much more because he’s about to be out of minutes.” “Tommy wants to know how long you get for lunch, any way.” “Tommy wants to know what time you get off work.” “Tommy is threatening now, saying if you don’t call him he’ll take yer load of wood to town and sell it to someone else.

My assistant, trying to be helpful, asked him, “How much is Ms. C going to owe you for the load of wood?” The reply: “Well, with inflation an’ all—and, too, I had to buy a new chainsaw—well, it’ll be $75.”

I have to say, I did not call Tommy back. I can buy from someone a bit less intensive. But I did think he was an interesting sort—from a distance—over the phone only, if you please.

Hope your week was good, too! C

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stickhorse Cowgirl V: As Iron Sharpens Iron


I was just reading Brin at messythrillinglife and pondering her last thought of hope in the new year to come after a particularly difficult year. If you have never read Brin's blog, I really encourage you to peruse her archives. "C" and I have often marveled at the depth, wisdom and insight that could come from a much younger woman! I think anyone who favors a Judeo-Christian moral tradition (by this I refer to how Christianity holds Old Testament teachings in reverance),could glean much from her writing. There is some really meaty material there--especially her Monday Moments!! I love her vintage decorating style too --and she will soon be writing an online column for AOL! She will be great!


Life is really busy round here right now. I'm back at work after Christmas break, but still helping to tend the home of eldest daughter who is suffering from severe pregnancy complications. She has a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and I also suffered from it, especially with my last pregnancy years ago. Many of us have suffered the normal queasiness and nausea associated with pregnancy, but an unfortunate few suffer a severe form that is disabling and life threatening. A home health nurse informed me that many of their patients are women suffering this terrible form of nausea and often require intraveneous liquids to prevent dehydration (my daughter required an iv picc line for 8 weeks). Over 42,000 women are hospitalized each year due to this condition. My mother, aunt, sister and I all suffered this more severe form and would like to help inform the sometimes unsympathetic public (usually due to ignorance, even astonishingly in the medical community) regarding this disorder. Please go to www.hyperemesis.org to learn more about this condition, and thereby perhaps helping and encouraging other women who you know who may suffer from it. I had my share of nausea for my first two pregnancies, but it was the last one that just about did me in! I was so debilitated by relentless nausea for the entire term, I decided then and there I was RETIRED from pregnancy! My daughter says this will be it for her too!



Although I'm a little weary I do love spending time with and cooking for my grandkids, and plan to freeze some meals for them for the time when "C" and I are gone hoping to sail our cares away! I would like to share some of these recipes with you! Hubby can cope with missing me by stepping into my shoes and cooking up some of those frozen home-cooked dinners for the grandkids! Son-in-law's father is ill and he is in the midst of helping to care for his parent's needs, so additional help is appreciated. "Ten days? Ten days?", hubby exclaimed! "You'll be gone for ten days?" I'm certain they can get by without me for ten days. Maybe even I need to realize that!


Ive been thinking for some time about the amazing talent in the blogging community and how I could share with others what wonderful writers are out there! Often I decide not to write, because I put such pressure on myself to produce something I hope is worth reading. Not every post can be a prize-winning essay and I don't think that is really the purpose of blogging. It's simply sharing a little bit of yourself everyday - some good, some bad, but always real and something will be meaningful to somebody. I love the blogs I visit, but we know that sometimes there will be a particular post that really "grabs" you and needs to be shared with others. I think we all write a post like that sometimes; just not everyday! So I have stored up a little list of really great posts that others have written, and I hope to forward those on to you in the coming year.


On a sad note, I lost my joyous little dog, Wendy, two days after Christmas. While she was outside with my husband and son, she darted out into the street and was struck by a car. We had to have her put to sleep that day. This followed weeks of begging hubby and son to put up the new fencing materials we recently got from "C". They were regretful and sad, but she is still gone. Need I say more how I feel about that? She had a Wheaten terrier's typical joye de vivre and charmed us all. Perhaps later I will write a post about her. Not just yet. When C and I get back from the cruise, I plan to get another terrier mix (a rescue dog for sure), after the new fence is put up! Not as a replacement for Wendy, for who could ever replace her, but a new pet I can love for her own self and a companion for Dudley, our other dog, who grieves her loss as well.

Recently as I was lamenting my losses to eldest daugher; she in the midst of her suffering reminded me that I have also enjoyed the marriage celebrations of two children and the birth of a precious new grandson. There is also the hope of the impending birth of this new grandchild in a few months, so that really helped me get things in perspective. Wishing you all a prosperous and blessed New Year full of hope and joy! V.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

C: STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE



Bet you thought this was going to be about some “ah-ha” moment in my life where I realized what is important versus the “little things.” Or where I finally understand how to juggle my busy workload and social life and home upkeep (which usually fall in exactly that order). Not so! This post is, rather, about the no-small-thing topic of striking the right mix of bed linens, a topic that is on my mind on these cold winter mornings.

Bed linens (We call 'em “covers” in the South) are a big issue with me. I CANNOT sleep without the right ones. Do you know people who can sleep atop all bedding? You know, on a hot summer night, they lie exposed to the world with nary a sheet covering them? Are you one of them? Not me, I can tell you right now. I simply do not understand how someone can sleep that way—why, anything at all could get you! I must have something over me to sleep or I feel very insecure. Like, if a vampire was going to bite me, it would be because I don’t have a sheet over me. I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s the way I am. See this idiot girl in the poster from the Christopher Lee movie? If she'd been home in bed with the covers up to her neck, she probably would not be in this predicament

So, while I may not make my bed every morning, I make certain to have the right mix of covers for maximum comfort...and safety.

In the summertime, I use a light quilt. I must have some weight on me--a sheet really does not suffice (remember, we are guarding ourselves through the night...and through suspended consciousness). I find that even if I don't shove the air conditioner down in the summer, I can still stay cool enough under a cotton quilt if the ceiling fan is going. (And I can probably write a whole 'nother post on the subject of fans at night. Do any of you remember the comforting whirrrrrrr of an attic fan like we used to have in my childhood home?).

But winter is when the cover mix becomes really important. You want a bed that will keep you cozy warm, but still weight is an issue--not too much, not too thick! The reason I am writing this now is because I woke up this morning realizing that my bed is "heaven" on this cold morning because I have struck just the right balance. Which, I guess, does make this an "aha" moment post after all...

Many of you out there might like the down comforter. In fact, I have seen some talk, with a "sniff," about their expensive down comforters as if it is the zenith of somnolence. They're okay...but down comforters remind me of marshmallows. They have lots of fluff but not a lot of substance. For those of you who don't need some weight atop you to remind you that you're protected, I suppose this would be the ticket. I think they provide lots of warmth with little weight. And you can burrow in a comfortor, that's for sure.

For me, however, the key is layering. First, there are the sheets. I really treat myself to sheets--no skimping here. These are 600 thread count, and they are divine. They are the foundation for comfortable covers in my book. It sounds decadent, but you'd be surprised how reasonably-priced they can be if you keep your eyes peeled throughout the year. I have found great deals on great sheets at Sam's and Tuesday Morning, to mention a few places.

After the top sheet goes on, then I use a thin cotton quilt. Then, on top of this, is another thin quilted coverlet--the one I use as my decorative bed cover. Then, finally, I fold up another thin quilt across the foot of the bed in case I get chilly in the night.

This is sufficient, but not too much weight, and, with a cute pair of sleep socks (which come off about a third of the way through the night) I never get cold, even though I keep the thermostate at 66 during the night! See? Balance!

I'm so happy about this, that I made my bed this morning!! It is so very deserving, after all! Here ya' go--bed made but otherwise unstaged...as I look at this picture, I'd tidy up that night stand...nah! Take me as I am!

Okay, now that I've revealed one of my idiosyncracies, what is your sleep silliness? C

PS - I have to mention, too, the importance of mattress. Last spring, after finding that wayward Hubby, ahem, "visited" my old mattress with his new friend (what kind of woman does that, anway? Never mind...), I decided a switch was in order. I bought myself a spare-no-expense wonderful pillow top mattress. It is so snuggly and comfortable, that I find myself thinking of it during the day. In fairness, it must be said, my mother and MIL, when they have slept over and used the other side of this mattress, have complained because they can't turn over on it because of the pillow top. I, however, have no such complaints. It's wonderful!

PSS - And now I find myself "tee-heeing" to think that I have the nerve to publish this on the worldwide web like someone really cares what C does to have a good night's sleep! But, here's the thing: as I wrote this morning, I was thinking "Wonder what sleep habits I'm going to discover in the comments?" Such is the world of blogging.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

C: Resolution

RESOLUTION! re-zə-ˈlü-shən
n. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.


This is so trite, that I almost can’t bring myself to write it. After all, how cliché is the “New Year’s Resolution,” anyway. Still, I find myself sorely in need of one—and in need of actually keeping it, for once.

This year I need to leave somewhere else 50 pounds of myself. Just gotta do it…There are things I want to do, and this extra part of me is getting in the way.

I love food, no doubt, but what I have come to see is that in times of high stress, I turn to food for comfort. The problem is, it works…I feel better at those times, but that leads to extra poundage, which is now bogging me down. My biggest problem is at work, which is high-octane all the time.

Here is the text of the Interoffice memo I sent to all my staff today:

INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM
DATE: January 4, 2010
TO: ENTIRE STAFF
FROM: C
RE: 2010 office standard operating procedure update—no deviations!
__________________________________

In the past months, you have all, at one time or another (John, most especially) been commanded by me something like this: “OMG! Judge P may not grant that continuance….what will I do?! Quick! Go get me something with high-fat content and high calories…and don’t forget the ‘real’ coke…”

New year, new decade, new leaf turning over.

You will all find the office kitchen stocked with healthy foods: healthy frozen dinners in the freezer; lean lunch meat, fruit and yogurt in the fridge; whole wheat bread. Please feel free to help yourselves to this and their replenishments.
In turn, you must unwaveringly follow the directives below.

Here are the SOPs for the eventuality of my future high-fat demands (yes, it will happen again, so prepare yourselves):

When I begin to demand unhealthy food, say “No!” in a firm, but gentle voice.

If I insist, go get one of the senior partners, who will then (I have faith) countermand my directive.

If the unhealthy request persists, throw me in the windowless, lead-lined room* and hold the door shut. DO NOT open it until the entreaties for fat subside. If things get really out of hand in there, pick a time when I sound like I’m at the far side of the room and throw in one of those grapefruit cups, which often has the effect of ameliorating the fat craving.

Special Instructions for Chocolate: Chocolate is actually considered “medicinal.” (Just trust me on this) It is, as those of you who are female know, an essential food group. The danger comes in its overuse, as it is prone to addiction. It is permissible to administer medicinal doses of chocolate (equal to three or four Hershey Kisses, one Godiva truffle, or—at most—one small candy bar) once or twice a week, especially in times of high stress. If, however, you see me carrying about one of those very large M&M bags, confiscate it at once, and dole the doses out, ten pieces no more often than twice a week.

Thanks to you all for your assistance in helping me whip my reliance on fatty foods and chocolate in this new year.


For those of you who are wondering, we do have a room that we call the "lead-lined, windowless room." Our office used to be a medical clinic, and this was the x-ray room. I believe that they have actually removed the lead lining, but it sounds so much more exciting to call it this, don't you think. It is just perfect for full-moon freak-outs or fat-craving episodes, which may actually be linked, now that I think about it.

Seriously, I HAVE to do something here. I have much to do and health to maintain...some of you who have shared of your own success in this type of journey have inspired me...I shall report, and I welcome your inquiries about my progress.

As I have mentioned, V and I are about to embark (on the 28th) on a BFF trip, hence the countdown to the right. We are beside ourselves with excitement, and we shall keep you all posted from the high seas! C

PS - I just clicked on the comment section and the word verification it gave me was "flabi." It's a sign...(sigh).
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