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 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.


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.



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!


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.


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!


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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!


Rain is one of those weather events that creates a love-hate response in folks. And probably in horses too! Here in northern Colorado we’ve had a summer of rain.

  • That means the land is still green, which is always a wonderful sight to behold, especially as we nudge ourselves into August.
  • That means our water bills aren’t quite as shocking as they sometimes can be in the middle of summer.
  • That means coming up with Plan B for those outdoor events like concerts, barbecues, parties on the lawn etc.
  • That means the scare of flash flood warnings.
  • That means muddy pastures and WET horses.


It’s been an interesting weather season with hail, tons of rain, flood warnings, and a few days of blazing heat.

But wait, we are in Colorado where the motto about weather is this: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”


Where do you stand on the rain? Love it or hate it?


P.S. Chickadee says she’s a little tired of being wet.


The  Golden Girls have picked up a shadow. A young appaloosa, new to the pasture has adopted them. Like many other newbies, Tosh, short for Macintosh, has found safe haven with Pepper and Chickadee.


This boy is not even two years old and didn’t know thing one about life in a herd.

Truth be told, some of us thought Tosh was a bit young to be thrown into the pasture to fend for himself for food and community. The dominant horses did their usual yee-haw and giddy-up on him, chasing him and kicking each time he approached. He’s got the kick marks to show he tried. But Tosh is just a little too young to understand the ways of the herd.

Instead he chose to hang out with the Golden Girls.

Pepper may have given him “the look,” ears laid back accompanied by a snort or two, but that would likely be her only protest. So Tosh quickly learned he’d found a place of safety. It was probably a lot like being with his mom. And these two mares have been so good at taking in strays. Their maternal instinct is strong.



Pepper and Chickadee have allowed Tosh to tag along as they wander the pasture. He’s found a place of safety where he can ease himself into herd life. He’s also learned about getting treats. That one came quickly!

Occasionally we’ve found him hanging out with some of the other horses, but then he returns to his safe haven. It’s like a human toddler venturing out away from mom to learn about the world, and then returning to home base.


Come to think of it, Tosh is a toddler of sorts.


Watching this latest drama unfold in the pasture has made me reflect on the people and places in my life that offer me safe haven.

I am blessed to have a rather long list— long enough to customize depending on the situation and what I need. I have friends, family, and mentors, all of whom are willing to make themselves available to me. And I have many places of comfort—places that hold and soothe me, both in the natural world and in my home.


Like Tosh, from time to time, each of us needs people and/or places to comfort us, to offer us safe haven from the storms of our life.


The time will come when Tosh no longer needs the safety offered by two old mares.

As he grows into a strong young gelding, he will likely leave them to take his place in the larger herd. But until then, they have his back.

And don’t you just love them for it?


As a parent, I was never big on using threats to coerce my son to behave. I wasn’t one of those mothers who gave away her authority with comments like, “You just wait until your father gets home. He’ll deal with you.”

Just typing the words gives me a rather creepy feeling.

But in the spirit of honest and transparent communication, I must fess up to something.

It’s about Miss Pepper.

In her old age she has apparently decided that she doesn’t really have to do what I ask of her. At least not all the time.

For example, when I ask her to walk back through the gate into the pasture when she’s finished eating, she will sometimes balk. She’ll stand stock still and look at me with an expression that says, “Nope, I’m not going back. And you can’t make me.”

Then she plants herself and waits for my next move.

And yes, I’ve done the recommended horse behavior things.

“I know what you’re doing,” she screams with her eyes. “And it won’t work.” She’s well-versed in horse whisperer techniques.


I stand in front of her applying pressure to the lead rope, not yielding until she steps forward. She takes one TINY step and stops.

We do this frustrating little two-step for awhile, until, and this is important and maddening, Rick walks toward her. He doesn’t even have to do anything.

His presence alone prompts her to move. She hustles herself through the gate easy as pie, leaving me dumbfounded.


“Really? Girlfriend we need to talk.”

She ignores me.

I try again.

“Seriously Pepper this is 2014, the twenty-first century. Remember women’s lib? Feminism?”

That logic is lost on our Miss P.


I don’t know if it is that Rick is bigger and stronger than I am—definitely the alpha of our little herd of two, or that she is just messing with me.

Or maybe a little of both.

I suspect any serious horse people reading this are shaking their heads in disgust. They’d be justified.


With horses, and life, it is always something!

I’ve been off my blog schedule this week and I know that’s never good for you readers who expect me to show up when I say I will. I hope you’ll understand when I show you the reason.

We had a wedding this week.

A rather impromptu, but gorgeous, wonderful affair.


Happy Couple – check

Lovely Summer Evening – check

Beautiful Setting – check


Ring – check

Supportive Friends and Family – check


Official Documents – check


Feasting – check

Toasts – check


Big Love – check


And now altogether can you help me with the Big Sigh!


Back on schedule next week. Promise!




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