“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Golden-Autumn

We’ve been having the most gorgeous Indian Summer here in northern Colorado.

And hasn’t it been glorious?

Every weed and leaf is sun kissed. I don’t know when I’ve seen the corn stalks seem so beautiful. Each day as I drive down the lane toward our sweet old girls, I usually stop to admire the corn stalks.

And the weeds.

And the leaves.

I agree with Hawthorne in the quote above. I want to be outside and not miss even a minute of this golden October.

Yet again I am grateful for our commitment to the horses. Otherwise I think I would be at risk to miss all this beauty.

And that would be a huge loss.

What gets you way from the computer or the desk or the house or whatever life expects of you that keeps you inside?

Babies

One of the true gifts of being out with the horses is that there is always something going on.

Something to catch my interest.

Something to take me out of my small world and into the wonder of the Big World. It really is the best therapy I can imagine.

So I thought I’d better check in with the two babies, since I hadn’t done so in a while.

Remember June Bug and Larry?

These two foals have touched everyone’s heart.

Miss June Bug has changed color – she’s now growing into her lighter coloring. And Larry is still the goof he always has been.

They race around the paddock, chasing each other, practicing kicking and running. Seriously you cannot be in a bad mood when you are watching these two little beings.

And for that, I am so very grateful.

Maisey

This is Maisey.

She’s been on our radar in the pasture for many years. She’s a shy old girl, always on the skinny side.

Of all the horses in the pasture, she was the least powerful. Everyone picked on her. She was always at the edge of the herd-a loner. She’d hang out with the Golden Girls, but always on the outskirts. She knew us and would come round for hay cubes if she thought it was safe.

I constantly worried about her.

You know how I am!

Then this summer, something wonderful happened.

She found her own herd.

And not just any herd.

She became part of Amigo’s herd. The very same Amigo that was Bud’s best friend. Good old loyal, reliable Amigo. I was thrilled. After all these years, Maisey had a family. A good family. I think she had a great summer. The pasture was greener than I’ve ever seen it. And she wasn’t alone. She had a protector.

A couple of weeks ago we noticed that Maisey wasn’t in Amigo’s little herd. We searched the pasture, but couldn’t see her. I asked Amigo, but he had nothing to say. Later we learned that Maisey had been shipped to the east coast to be with the girl who owned her. Apparently she’d graduated from college and now wanted her horse with her.

That makes me really happy.

Goodby sweet Maisey.

Thank you for letting me get to know you and being part of my herd.

May you live out your last years fat, happy and smothered in love.

New-staff-3

We recently met the one of the new members of the barn and pasture security team.

Apparently this grey ball of silky fluff is responsible for the staging area by the gate. It’s a big responsibility and little grey is totally up to the job.

She’s been quite serious, but willing to at least greet us and allow me to stroke her beautiful fur.

 

New-staff-1

But only for a minute.

There are after all standards to maintain.

 

She isn’t on the job every time we’re out feeding the Golden Girls, but I’ve seen her quite often. She’s getting to know me which feels especially nice now that we’ve lost Mija.

 

Doesn’t the Universe work in wonderful ways?

Mija-Memorial-PM

When I first envisioned this blog, I was naïve. It seemed such a good idea to write about my old animals and what I was learning from them about aging. And in the beginning I wrote about the wonder of spending time with them. How they made me a better human being.

And all of that and much more is true.

But what I didn’t think about was the circularity of aging. How there comes a point with old animals (and people) when it’s time for them to leave this earth. And that hadn’t crossed my mind.

Like I said–naïve.

So Bud was first to remind me of this life lesson, and my heart became much less naïve in an instant.

When my older sister died this spring, my already-tender heart ached from too many goodbyes.

Then on September 7th we lost another very important member of our family. Mija is a Spanish word for “my daughter.” And she was exactly that to us. For almost nineteen years this little cat enlivened and enriched our lives. She was the first domestic “pet” we shared – seeming very much like our daughter. From the moment we brought her home, until the moment she died in my husband’s arms, she was family.

We console ourselves with phrases like: she lived a good, long life; we loved her beyond measure; and she loved us equally.

And they help.

Sort of.

But we are still grieving for her. Our home seems empty, especially her favorite spots. So many sunbeams seem wasted now. So many comfy laps go unfilled. Sometimes I think I hear her and for one brief moment, I get my hopes up. Maybe this was nothing more than a bad dream, I think.

But of course it wasn’t.

Grief has a way of messing with a person’s view of reality.

All those years ago Mija had been abandoned. Her family moved without taking her. She was all of five or six months old and had no way of fending for herself in the big world. A kind-hearted neighbor tried hard to like her. He took her in, supplied her with food and toys, but in the end he decided he just wasn’t a cat person. Thankfully he took her to our veterinarian, Dr. Robin Downing. Mija went on at least two other trial runs with families who simply couldn’t bond with her.

I know now there was a bigger plan in play. She was meant to live with Rick and me. For us it was love at first sight. When I picked her up she immediately rewarded me with her quirky little purr. Rick said it sounded as if a bearing was going out. The metaphor was wasted on me because I don’t know a bad bearing from a jet engine. But I knew I was enchanted by this little black and white ball of fur.

We have photographs and memories that eventually will comfort us and help us remember our very good life with Mija. Until then we are taking it easy.

Grieving is exhausting.

I know all of you who have lost someone dear know exactly what I’m talking about.

To love with a wide-open heart leaves us sometimes feeling fragile and vulnerable. And we may be tempted to protect ourselves by closing down–not allowing anyone or anything to ever again get that close. For me that isn’t the answer. I want to live my life full out and open-hearted. No holding back.

That’s truly the lesson my dear old sweeties have given me.

Goodbye Mija!

Some things just plain make me happy.

You may remember this sweet old mare named Forty. We call her that because the number 40 is branded on her neck. Not the most original of names on our part, but hey…

Forty-Friends

Forty is a gentle old girl. We always hoped she’d join the Golden Girls, but she hasn’t. She follows them from a distance and has usually been alone. Two winters ago she hooked up with a mare named Sunny, but Sunny has left the pasture and Forty has been on her own.

She has the most amazing manners. She never pushes. She is considerate of everyone else. If we don’t pay attention to her, she walks away.

I find that bittersweet.

It seems she  doesn’t want to be a bother for anyone -a trap so many of us females find ourselves in at times.

The past few days Forty has found a friend. It’s a young little paint mare – new to the pasture. We don’t know her name. Yet. These two are joined at the hip. And that is what makes me happy.

Forty has a friend.

I feel like a hovering, helicopter mother. So be it! In the pasture it isn’t good to be alone. Having an ally really helps.

We’ll see how long this little Paint sticks around, but for now we are all happy.

Very happy.

I’ve been documenting the assorted horse-do’s around the pasture.

Horse-Do-Collage-1

You’ve never heard the term “horse-do?”

Think hairdo for horses.

Now you see why it is so interesting inside my head. I make up words like horse-do. And then take pictures to document it, which to my way of thinking makes it bona fide.

Real.

Horse-Do-Collage-3

So anyway, I’ve put together a few of my favorites. You’ve probably seen all but the braided manes. Those pictures are new. Those horse keepers have a lot of time on their hands!

Horse-Do-Collage-2

I’ve included the before and after with the Mamie Eisenhower bangs – totally one of my faves.

What style are you leaning toward?

Take a quick minute and vote in the survey below.

Maybe I have too much time on my hands too!

 

It’s been quite a summer here in northern Colorado. We’ve had enough rain to keep the pastures greener than I’ve ever seen. It’s the middle of August and there is still lush, emerald green grass.

The horses are happy campers.

Except for a few.

jailbirds

Mama and her son Brio were sent to a paddock for the summer because the rich grass caused Brio to founder. It’s been a problem for several of the pasture horses.

 

When we make our trek out to feed the Golden Girls, who by the way are doing just fine with the lush grass, we must drive past Mama and Brio.

Oftentimes they will stand in the corner watching us with mournful expressions. “We’re here,” they seem to say. “Remember us? We still like treats.”

 

For some reason—notably my wacky way of thinking—when we see these two characters, I hear strains of “In the Jailhouse Now,” as performed in the movie, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Sometimes I even sing a little of it, though Mama and Brio don’t find it the least bit entertaining.

I think my husband sides with them too.

 

And yes, in case you hadn’t already figured it out, we usually stop by the “Big House” to give our friends a hay cube or two.

It’s how we roll!

Lukas-Papa-the-jump

There is something quite magical about little boys, a summer evening that stretches out all golden and wonderful, fences to climb and horses to get to know.

We try to bring our grandson along with us when we feed as often as we can because he is such a great teacher about living life in the present moment, having fun wherever you are, and exuding joy in everything you do.

Why is it we adults so often forget these very simple things?

Is it that we’ve forgotten how?

Or don’t have the time for such silliness?

Or think we must act like grownups? (And what does that truly mean?)

If I’m not careful I can get myself bogged down with a case of the “have-to’s” and completely miss the wonder of the moment. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

  • I have to get back home and make dinner so it’s not midnight when we’re eating.
  • I have to fold the laundry.
  • I have to  return phone calls or email.
  • I have to ….

All important enough in their own way, and necessary to keep like running smoothly, but what I must continually remind myself is this:

It is possible to do both. Life is not about either/or. It is about “and.”

The quality of my life depends upon allowing myself to revel in a gorgeous sunset, or the antics of a four-year-old, or the sweet communion with two old mares who depend on us for the quality of their lives.

AND

The quality of my life depends upon making time to see that the infrastructure of our lives is in place so that life works. I suppose that’s a fancy way of saying, make dinner, fold the laundry, and return phone calls. And about a million more things.

When I find myself slipping too much to the side of either/or, I schedule time with my four-year-old guru for another lesson.

Luckily he’s always available!

Last weekend I found myself in the happy company of my sister, my son, his wife and their adorable son. We were loaded in my SUV headed to Wyoming—Snowy Range to be precise.

Snowy Range

Our mission was bittersweet—saying a final goodbye to our sister who had died in the spring. She loved Snowy Range and had two (at minimum) favorite spots where she would sit and gaze out over the landscape, enjoying the profusion of columbine, blue bells, and other wildflowers that usually were in full bloom.

 

Halfway there we felt the need for a coffee break. My son and his wife are fans of “designer coffee.” Well actually, so am I. But I couldn’t think of a place to stop in Laramie that was on our way, and we were on a pretty tight schedule.

 

Instead we stopped at one of Laramie’s oldest destination locations for outdoor folk. The West Laramie Fly Store touts itself as “the one stop shop for all your hunting, fishing and camping needs.”

And it is just that.

But coffee?

I figured it would be a lone pot cranking away on a burner, old and burned and strong. “Don’t get your hopes up,” I warned. “What we’re likely to get is cowboy coffee—strong and bitter and not too fresh.”

Cowboy-Coffee

So imagine my surprise when we found the coffee station with cowboy coffee actually identified on the handle of the pot. Along with a few other selections like Jamaican Me Crazy and Colombian, also duly marked on the pot handles.

Jamaican-coffee

To my surprise, the coffee was fresh and delicious. I mixed cowboy coffee with Jamaican Me Crazy for a slightly exotic blend while my son mixed cowboy coffee with Colombian.

Gaucho-coffee

He said that he was going for the “south American gaucho blend,” though I’m not sure there are gauchos in Colombia. More like Argentina, but no need to get all picky about the details!

 

My sister who isn’t a coffee fan decided to spend her money on a tee-shirt for her friend who is an avid fisherman. There was quite a selection of funny, slightly off-color shirts. She ended up with this one: “The way to a fisherman’s heart is through his fly.” It was funny AND nearly too much information!

She hasn’t said yet how he liked it. Come to think of it, that could really land in the too much information category. In our family, we’re pretty conservative when it comes to those personal, over-sharing conversations.

 

Have a great weekend. And Happy August!

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