Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Midnight's Time

One of my friends at the barn where I keep my horse has to put her horse down (euthanise him)tomorrow, and the whole barn is sad.  Her horse had a freak accident in the ring, and because of his unique make-up, the healing process just never took place in the way it should have, and now with one leg hobbled for many months, his other leg is wearing out.  His health is perfect except for this - heart, lungs, and mind are young and healthy.

It has been amazing to see her go through the last act of horse "parenthood" - making the decision to end his journey now that he is feeling pain.  My friend talks softly to him, cleans his stall lovingly, and feeds him all the things he loves as the days trickle down to tomorrow, his last day. To me, it is in their silence, when standing together, that they say volumes to one another, as they prepare to say goodbye.  As we talked and shed a tear or two together recently, she said, "Just due to a horses' mere size, they have such a presence in your life.  And when they accept you, and offer you their love, that size breaks your heart, in a way." 

This is for Heather, and Midnight, and to a relationship I was blessed to see, and won't forget, ever.


"Somewhere" by Stanley Harrison



Somewhere in time's own space


there must be some sweet pastured place


where creeks sing on and tall trees grow,


some paradise where horses go.


For by the love that guides my pen,


I know great horses live again.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Laughing out Loud, or Lying On-Line?

I'm just going to put this out there...I have something to admit.  It's hard to confess, but I don't think I'm alone...so, okay, here goes.

 Sometimes, when texting, I write "LOL," and I'm not laughing out loud; not at all.  What's worse, I'm probably not even chuckling, or giggling, even.  It's probably deadly quiet; just me and my cell phone.  I am probably either 1) maybe grinning, 2) having a shocked or surprised face, depending on what you told me, or 3) already distracted, but writing "LOL" anyway.  I know; it's a deception, and I'm not feeling great about that.

Am I alone, or are others out there pretending to be laughing out loud when reading texts, too?  And what does that say about us, people?  C'mon!

Monday, June 20, 2011

  I love the Bruins, as I probably made pretty clear in my last post, but here is my favorite hockey player, from my favorite team.  This is my 12 year old son James, who plays for the Reading Rockets, Reading, MA.

I fought the hockey thing with James for years - even as he hugged his knee-hockey stick at the breakfast table as a baby who couldn't even walk, even when he requested skates for Christmas - at 3 years of age.  It involved too much, I figured - hockey is a family sport, as well as a team sport.  "PLEEASE, Mom, can I play?" he asked, eyes wide and sparkling with tears, one summer morning when he was 7 years old.  He was playing street hockey (the next best thing - with a tattered net and a banged-up stick, a cast-off from his brothers, who were soccer kids ((I love soccer!!!  Why coudn't he learn to love soccer?? One hour and you're done!  Less serious injuries!!  It's not freezing on the sidelines!!)

"Yeah, pleease, Mom?" his partner in crime echoed - his dad, my husband Fred.  I stood with my coffee at the curb (I'll never forget that moment), and looked at James.  What if he got hurt?  What if he broke his neck and became paralyzed?  What if the freedom we were edging towards - his brothers were 17 and 20 at the time - was ripped away from us as we travelled from rink to rink, eating at drive-thrus and carrying on friendships by text and at rinkside?

Well, what if?  Then we would deal with it as a family.  The bigger crime would be to deny a kid the glories, sense of team, and...yes, a lot of discipline - that hockey demands.  And our time will come, my husband and I.  But this is OUR time - me, and Fred, and James.  So eight months a year we are hockey-folk, driving from town to town always looking for the rink.  It's a great life, really.
And P.S.... Fred takes him to most practices.  So I've got that going for me. 


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Awesome!!!!!! Bruins with the Stanley Cup!!!!

Okay, I have been too excited to even post anything - the Bruins went all the way and won the Stanley Cup!!!!

It went down like this at the Reillys' - we had about twenty or so people over, some of them kids, who were so excited that they ran around like lunatics screaming "Bruins! Bruins!" and slamming down way too much soda.

The adults were edgy; this one was just ...for all the marbles.  It was just too big!!!! We were about to explode!

We all gathered around the tv, the way we did as little kids for the first man on the moon, the difference being that this time people were taking pictures of plays and players on our big-screen and "mobile-uploading" them right on to facebook. 

My husband and many of the guys went into the other room, one of my sons included - we were "talking too much" - the girls, that is.  That's how we handle stress; we jibber-jabber!

Well, when the Bruins won, it was a freakshow - chest-bumping, beer-swilling, shouts of joy (and that's just the women.)  Then, three friends and I jumped into the car and drove straight to Modell's - a tee-shirt shop in Medford, MA.  There we stood in line for an hour and a half with all the Bruins gear we could scrape up; it was like the running of the Brides at Filene's basement.  The atmosphere was sheer, joyous chaos.

Bruins, we can never thank you enough for all the thrills and chills of this run for the cup; we were with you winning or losing (although winning is easier for us, blood-pressure-wise.)  Thank you for a time I will never forget!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nello and I Are Learning...

This, again, is Nello, my new horse.  He is a bit dusty here, having rolled in the dirt for fun, and is contemplating the heavy matters of his life:  is there going to be hay waiting for me in my stall?  Was that loud noise thunder?  Is this gal who brought me here ever going to stop hugging me?

Like every relationship, Nello and I are getting to know each other.  Extrememly reasonable and easy-going by nature (him, I'm talking about), there are still fears to explore - and conquer.

Our first trail ride alone taught me many things - at the barn, a person is a person, but out on the trail, a person is a potential threat, in Nello's mind.  So, we are working on de-sensitizing him of that - a new friend and I trailed together, and with another horse accepting everything we met on the trail - dogs, people, very fast-moving ground animals like chipmunks - Nello relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

He is also the consummate social butterfly.  If he were a person, he would be the affable neighbor cutting his lawn mower engine off just to say hello.  When his stall door is open (because I am picking up his ginormous poops, somewhere behind him), his head is way out, and he is visiting with people, horses, whoever.  He has learned the barn schedule, and has joined the chours of stomps and whinnys when the grain wheelbarrow enters the barn.  Two birds built a nest in his stall, up in the corner, and he listens to them chatter with complete indifference as they take turns sitting on their eggs.

I have discovered muscles I never knew I had - because they hurt so bad.  But this is good, hard work - lifting things, dragging things, shovelling things.  And the riding is exhausting but exhilarating (for me, he would probably roll his eyes), as we circle the riding ring or hit the trail.

In your late fourties, something happens.  It can be a time of GREAT restlessness.  Some look at their partner and say, "I just can't ride the rest of this trail with you - there has to be more for me out there in the world."  Some get a fast car, and try to outrun age. And some, like me, look at what their dreams are, and if they are more attainable than maybe they thought.  And, they begin to work it out.  They perhaps drive to New Hampshire and pick up a horse that was once in a terrible carriage accident, and bring him back to Massachusetts to try to love him and give him a great final chapter.  They consider hard work and mistakes and just a hint of danger to be the antidote to Father Time.

That would be me.  Let's hope I live through it!