‘Til Death is Not Long Enough

I’ve been trying to sleep, but all I can do is cry. So, I might as well do something productive.

We euthanized Lego today. He started colicking yesterday around noon, and he couldn’t shake it. Julia, Frannie, Ashley, and I spent all night with him. But when our vet came out to check on him this morning, his body was already shutting down. He was brave and stoic to the end. And still ready to cuddle.

I never understood why people would cry when a loved one (be it pet, family member, or close friend) died. In my mind, they were going to a better place, leaving behind pain, or both. I understand now. I’m not crying for Lego. I’m crying for myself and the Future Lego that will never be. I will never again look out of the office window and see him looking adorably dorky in his bright orange hood. I will never again get to watch him turn himself inside out to get a treat when we do cookie stretches. I will never get to gallop him over a steeple chase course. I will never get to see him pack a 12 year old around a hunter course, and beam like a proud momma to see my little Stumpy Lego being so perfect. I had a lot of shiny dream sequences starring him. But now I have to put those away and think about my reality.

This horse worked his way into my heart like no other. I met him during a difficult part of my life. I’m still coming to grips with just how difficult life is. It just seems to be a big series of transitions, some good, some bad.

I let him break through the barriers I put up so much that for most of last night I didn’t know if I would continue riding if he died. But if I gave up riding, I might never find another Lego. So, I’ll continue to work with horses in the hopes that I may one day find a unique horse that I can love as fiercely as I did Lego. But if I do, I hope I hope I get to spend a little more time with that horse.


College is Over Sweetheart

I visited Blacksburg this weekend. It was under unfortunate circumstances though. I attended a memorial service for Teresa McDonald. She was my riding instructor my first semester there.  But that is the least of it. She was a mentor to so many students throughout the years. The church was bursting at the seams to hold the amount of people that came to celebrate T’s life. It was quite a humbling experience. And it made me think about the ways our lives touch other people.

I missed my Blacksburg family very much. And I saw quite a few of them yesterday. It was wonderful even given the reason we had gathered. And even though my nostalgia was working over time, it wasn’t the same. I had to drive five and a half hours to get home. Most of them had similar drives to attend to before work the next morning. I always think that things don’t change. Sometimes it’s an unpleasant slap in the face when something does change.

Gumby’s closed. The road by Squire’s is now one lane. There’s a Waffle House in the old TCBY. I drove down 460 and watched the exit pass that would have taken me to our townhouse. But other people live there now. I can’t just walk in the door and grumble at Colleen for making cupcakes again (very delicious, and very fattening). And Brittany won’t be there to look disapprovingly at the dishes I left in the sink. Alex isn’t in the next room laughing at old “Whose Line?” episodes. I’m not in college anymore. And that’s okay. That’s how it should be.

My Blacksburg family is all over the world. Most are still in Virginia and Maryland. But there are branches as far away as Europe and Asia. But I know that even though I haven’t seen them in a long time. They are still my family. Memories and experiences don’t go away because there are a couple of hundred miles separating you.

Maybe one day we’ll all get together at Macado’s (Or Hokie House or El Rods or PK’s…) and catch up. More probably we won’t. And that’s fine. We all have lives to live. It’s not practical to drop everything and zoom off the Blacksburg to spend a week living in the past. I’m going to move forward with my life knowing that I have had all of these great experiences with great people. And they have changed my life and myself for the better. VT’s motto is “Invent the Future”. And I intend to invent a future that includes and does justice to the wonderful people from my past.

Snow Day Musings

Some days I wonder if I’m crazy. Other days, I know I am.

Saint Mary’s County was closed today because of the snow we got from winter storm Janus. Schools were closed. The county offices were closed. Even the Naval base eventually closed to all but critical employees. The roads sucked. There were warnings about the wind chill and extreme cold temperatures. All sane people were inside wearing sweatpants and drinking hot beverages.

I was outside chopping ice out of water troughs.

We had to take special precautions to prepare for the cold last night. We filled all of the water troughs to the brim because we expected some of the pumps to freeze. We blanketed a lot of the horses. We put several of them in the barn for the night. And everyone else we loaded up with an all you can eat buffet of hay. The ponies were rather comfortable last night despite the weather.

Unfortunately, the troughs did not fare so well. We don’t have any heaters for the water troughs because they only freeze about two week out of the year. So we take care of ice the old fashioned way. With an axe and a pitchfork. I think I could have a second career as an ice demolisher (if that’s a thing) because nothing is more satisfying than dropping a big ol’ piece of ice and watching it shatter. The noise the bits make as they skitter across the icy ground is a symphony of winter joy.

The Stump was not very impressed with the winter symphony when we took him out this morning. He preferred to hear himself munching on some hay. So much that he tried to hide in the back corner of his stall, like he was hoping the teacher wouldn’t call on him. But his legs were stocked up, and I needed to clean his stall. So he got to enjoy his snow day outside.

For some people, snow days mean a relaxing day off. For horse people it means more work. Frannie and I finished up the afternoon hay as dusk was setting in. We saw some beautiful colors in the sky. I wished I’d had a camera. I would paper may wall with the panorama around the treeline of the farm.

We also saw some beautiful colors on my horse after I put the Frannie’s orange sleezy on him. He looked like a Ninja Turtle with his orange stretch hood and green blanket. I’ll have to start calling him Michelangelo. It’s a bit classier than Teenage Mutant Ninja Stump.


The Naming of Horses

I think I have a problem. With names.

I confuse people because I call Lego, Stumpy. In fact, the horse has three names. Lego is his barn name, the one I expect everyone else to use. Stumpy and variations there of (Stumpness, Stumperton, McStumpy-Stump-Stump) are the names I use daily. And, I call him Sasquatch when he’s bad. So I guess his full name would have to be Lego Stumpy McSasquatch. It’s too early to say what that has done to his self esteem.

I actually do this a lot, but it’s only been this bad once before. I rode a pony named Gambler for a year in high school. I called him Gambler when I was talking about him to other people, J.D.(Juvenile Deliquent) out in the field, and Monkey Boy when I was working with him. I don’t know why. He now regularly bucks children off though. I hope that not a preview for what Lego is going to be like in a few years.

I still call the yearling that I showed in hand Little Down Syndrome still. I didn’t start that name. Although encouraging it is just as bad. I may have had something to do with deciding to call his counterpart Shaken Baby Syndrome. It’s no wonder these ponies have issues.

Butter was Butterball Turkey. Lucky had a cute rhyming moniker that my friend Amy came up with. But I won’t repeat it here because…cuss words.

I’m not happy calling a horse by its real name. It probably stems from my deep psychological need to be unique. Unique

I’m not really worried about it though because Lego stills whinnies to me whether I call him Lego, Stumpy, or even You Little A******.

Gummy Worms and Swedish Fish are Proteins, Aren’t They?

So my mom and I have decided that we’re going to follow a strict autoimmune protocol for eating. That basically means eat all the meat, fruits, and vegetables, and don’t eat grains, and sugar. Or nightshades, which it seems include potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. So the other day when I ate salsa with potato chips, I wasn’t following these guidelines. Oops.

So the first question is why in the name of all things sugary and delicious would you voluntarily subject yourself to this? Well my mom has had digestive troubles for years. I’ve seen her very miserable far too often, and always because of something she ate. And since I have half of her genes, I’m afraid that is also to be my fate. But the real reason is that recently, I have been eating worse than an 8-year-old left alone with twenty bucks in Wawa. For instance tonight before I ate my dinner (shrimp and rice, seems healthy enough) I ate a king sized Reeses, most of a family sized bag of potato chips, and .7 lbs of gummy worms. And then I ate a peanut butter cookie after dinner.

Cravings people, cravings. I wanted a chocolate bar at 10:00 this morning. To the point where I was willing to kill.

And then I have been having stomach trouble also. Some days I am starving two hours after I eat breakfast. Some days I don’t want to eat at all. My stomach will flip and spin and earthquake around. Some day I have heartburn. All in all it adds up to a bad day. The work I’m doing is physically demanding, and it’s hard enough to do it when everything is great. But when one part of my body is rebelling in a major way, it’s near impossible.

And also I’m an athlete. I claim that moniker. It’s time I lived it. What Olympian subsists on 24oz hot chocolates and cheetos? And yeah I’m not going to the Olympics but I want to do my best and I need to have the foundational support of a healthy diet. I need vitamins and minerals and nutrients to meet my goals. Plus, I keep a close eye on what Lego eats. I need to do the same for myself.

So for a month, I’m going to go clean cold turkey. I’m going to miss the junk, no doubt. I’m going to be prompted to murderous rage by the mere sight of a cookie. I’m going to keep a stash of emergency grapes with me at all times so that when a sugar craving strikes I can eat grapes until I literally can eat no more.

My only comfort is that mom’s doing it too. And I like having all of my pants fit really loosely.

A Red Ryder Carbine Action Two Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle

So we’re coming to the time of year when people start of conversations by saying “what do you want for Christmas?” For the first time in my life, I can honestly say there is no burning desire in me to get something material. Obviously, I want a saddle, and a new pair of boots, and a pair of sneakers, and a space ship. And I could name a list of about a billion other things. But getting those things wouldn’t make my Christmas. What I really want is to be happy and excited for Christmas this year.

Last year, nothing felt right to me. Instead of feeling excitement and anticipation, all I felt was depression and apathy. I’m usually the first one awake on Christmas morning. I wake up early and wait impatiently for everyone else. This past year Mom came in my room and told me that we weren’t going to have time for breakfast if I didn’t get up. So I got up, and I went through the motions. I ate good food. I talked to my family. I opened presents. But I didn’t taste the food. I don’t know what we talked about. And every present was just another thing to do before I could go back to sleep.

The part that upset me was that I love Christmas. I love hiking through a field in the biting cold to pick out our tree. I love the citrusy pine aroma that pervades the house once it’s up. I love how the cats rub and chew on the lower branches of their new living room fixture. I love getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and finding my way with the light from the tree. I love watching Christmas movies with my family. “It’s a Wonderful Life” “White Christmas” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” “The Grinch” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and most importantly “A Christmas Story.” I love Christmas Eve. I love singing and lighting candles (my inner pyro’s favorite part) at church. I love staying up until midnight wrapping gifts. I love opening presents in my pajamas. I love scraping the grits off my plate secretively because I don’t want Mom and Dad to know I didn’t eat them. I love the torturous smell of dinner rolls baking. I love Rotweiler slobber. I love roast beef, roasted potatoes, dinner rolls, shrimp, crackers, hot chocolate, and peppermint ice cream pie. I love when Grandmom finds more presents long after we’ve finished opening them (the Never-Ending Christmas).

Hopefully I can hang on to his feeling. I love Christmas and the lead up to it. It’s a wonderful way to end the year. Especially this year. I’ve felt so horrible all of this year, I’m filled with a lot of hope for next year. I really feel like I’ve clawed my way back on track. I’m excited and prepared for the challenges ahead of me. I welcome the problems of the New Year. But for now, I just need to put on some Christmas songs and bake some cookies. I only hope that when my parents drive around to look at the Christmas lights they wish that I were with them.

How’s This for Crazy?

I feel like I’m a box of cats.

Go with me on this.

I’m a cardboard box. The cats are my emotions. Now when everything goes well the cats are happy and content sleeping in the box.

But lately the cats haven’t been getting what they need. And they get a bit testy.

Right now, I’m very homesick. So family time is like food for the cats. It’s not so bad when I’ve been away for a while because then the cats are weak from hunger and they just can’t fight the box so much. But, then I go home and feed them and all of a sudden they have the strength to fight to escape. It almost makes me consider not coming home.

There are other things that can tip the odds in the cats’ favor. Like exhaustion. Exhaustion is like getting the box wet. And then the cats can claw their way out of the wet cardboard like it’s…wet cardboard.

The moral of the story is I cried a lot today. And not for any good reason other than I was really really tired. I need to work more naps into my life.