Never Judge a Horse by its Name

I’d been wanting to take a horseback tour of Gettysburg for well over a year, and yesterday Jamie and I decided to do it.  So we booked time at Artillery Ridge in Gettysburg and headed up to the historic battlefield.

I admit I was a little nervous about getting on the horse because I hadn’t been on one since the trip Ken, Josh, Jeanine, and I took to Virginia back in 2000.  But it was something I really wanted to do, so I pushed the nervousness away.  Everyone who had just come back from their one hour tour seemed happy and commented that it was fun and well worth it.

My horse’s name was Misty.  Misty – lilting, flowing, graceful – my images of what a horse named Misty should be.

This is Misty

We were given a full set if instructions – how to mount, how to dismount, how to hold the reigns, keep 3 to 4 feet between your horse and the horse in front of you, and don’t let your horse eat grass.

Okay.  We’re ready to hit the trail.

Shortly into the ride, Misty decided she wasn’t going to let me take any more pictures.  It seemed that each time I reached for my camera, she would jerk her head down, making it impossible for me to not hold onto the reigns with both hands.  Then, the little bugger decided she was going to go off the path and eat the grass regardless of me pulling left on the reign as I was instructed to do.

This went on for the entire hour.  She went off the path three separate times to eat and then had such a problem with a fly on her belly that the guide had us stop so he could dismount and spray something all over Misty to get the flies to stay away.  Misty was not living up to what I had expected.

Of course, Jamie’s horse, Chip was the model horse – calm, obeying, nice and easy.

Jamie and Chip

The other couple on the tour talked and talked and talked and had a great time, both of them experienced riders.

When we got back to the stable I mentioned that Misty had been a little feisty.  The woman said that sometimes horses test the riders, and man, did I get tested.  What was supposed to be a fun time was more work than what I had planned.  I felt I was constantly fighting with Misty to keep her on the trail and away from the grass.  I couldn’t take any pictures from the trail.  And my shoulders were aching from the constant jerking of her head pulling on the reigns.

Maybe another time, another horse … who knows …

See you around, Misty.

Adios, Misty.

Driving Home with Irene

I left Rutland, VT shortly after 8 am Sunday morning, August 28.  The rain had started sometime after 11 pm Saturday.  Irene had come.

I knew the trip home was going to be interesting.  I had been watching the Weather Channel as much I could Friday night after arriving in Rutland throughout Saturday evening after returning to Red Roof Inn after dinner with Josh.  The Weather Channel was reporting that the effects of Irene would be felt around the I-81 corridor, my soon-to-be destination.

When I packed for the trip back to Castleton to move Josh back to his dorm, I prepared for the rain and wind.  I had my gym shoes, my cap, and my jacket.  I knew an umbrella would be useless.  I knew the rain would be an issue but the wind more so.

Along the Adirondack Northway electronic signs indicated, “FOR YOUR SAFETY EMERGENCY TRAVEL ONLY.”  Five, six, seven … I lost count of how many of those signs I passed.

It was a good thing I had planned to take I-81 home instead of the NY Thruway, because as I approached the junction for the Thruway, the travel alert station notified its listeners that several sections of the Thruway were closed due to either flooding or downed trees.

I take US 20 through Guilderland and Duanesburg, NY to get to I-88 that then takes me to I-81.  Most of Guilderland was shut down due to no electricity and some debris in the road.  Duanesburg was an obstacle course of debris, fallen branches, and a downed tree that a crew was already working on, directing traffic, as only one lane was open.

There weren’t many cars on I-88.  That was a good thing, because when there were pockets of cars, the backsplash from their tires made driving even worse than it already was.  Lots of debris on the road.  Downed trees along the sides of the interstate.  Calming streams that I passed in the past were now angry torrents of water, brown, ugly with mud.

The wind seemed the worst on I-81.  There were times when the gusts slapped my car and jerked me to the point where my shoulders were getting sore from managing the steering wheel.  The rain would lighten up in some spots and then rage again.  So much debris.  Flooded farms.  Broken limbs from tall trees laying alongside the road.

I get a local AM radio station on during most of the trip.  Most of the areas I was traveling near were either without power or were experiencing or bracing for flooding.  All of the malls were closed.  The cinemas were closed.  People were being told to stay home.  Stay off the roads.

And here were the handful of us making our way to wherever it was we were going.

I stopped in Lenoxville at exit 206 to gas up at the Sunoco station where there is also a Convenient store where I get a deli sandwich.  Closed.  No power.  Not good news when I’ve got about a quarter of a tank of gas.  So I drove two more exits to find a mom-and-pop station that was open and charging $0.40 more per gallon.  Oh well.

Further down the road I stopped at the rest stop only to find they were locked up.  No power.  Oh well.  Good thing it wasn’t a bathroom emergency stop.

At one point just south of Wilkes-Barre the sky got darker and what looked like fat prongs of dark gray clouds slid down and the wind gust knocked everyone’s cars to the left.  I wondered if this was what it looked at felt like when a tornado was considering forming.

About 2 miles before the I-83 exit the clouds gave way to blue sky and sun.  It was still windy, very windy, but at least the rain was over.

Josh called me once during the trip to see how it was going.  My sister called me twice to check on how the drive was, to make sure I was going to make it home okay.  She and my brother-in-law cancelled the trip out to Maryland because of Irene.  They were supposed to leave Sunday night but because of all the weather reports and the electric outages, they felt it was a good idea to stay put in Illinois.  You just never know what to expect when a weather event such as this is taking place.

There was a little bit of cleanup at my house.  Some branches came down in the backyard but didn’t cause any damage.  We got lucky.  Things could have been worse.

Now, Josh, in Vermont, is pretty much stranded on campus.  They had one transformer blow which controls their Internet access.  Some cars in one of the lower parking lots are topped with water.  Much of the area is flooded.  Vermont got hit hard.

I’m still tired from the trip.  My upper body is achy.  It was stressful in many ways.  I’m glad to be home.

The Third Bird

It happened Saturday morning.  I was walking from the kitchen to the dining room when I heard the loud bang on the dining room window.  Several expletives escaped from my mouth as I opened the front door and confirmed that there was a bird down.

Another teenage male cardinal lay dazed on the porch.  It wasn’t dead; it was just stunned.  I got my gloves and picked it up.  It sat upright and let me stroke its back.  Jamie came out and checked the bird too.  He suggested getting some water, so we took it to the deck and set in it Buddy’s water bowl (Jamie put only enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl).  After several minutes, it seemed much better, perkier.  We tried to pick it up but it flew (albeit slightly) down to the patio chair.  It stood there for a couple of minutes and as we tried to approach it, it flew to the corner of the deck.  Again, it stood there and when we moved toward it after a minute or two, it flew away.

I went downstairs and checked out back to make sure it hadn’t flown away just to drop again, but it was nowhere in sight.  That made me happy.

What is it with these birds that cause them to fly into glass?  The reflection?  I wish they’d stop!  But at least this one survived the crash.

Two Dead Birds in Two Days

I posted on Facebook on Tuesday that when I let Buddy (my dachshund) out that morning I noticed a dead bird on the concrete pad outside the basement door.  I’m guessing it rammed headfirst into the glass door and immediately died.  It was a gray bird – not sure what species.  This is not the first time this has happened.  Sometimes the birds fly into the windows and survive; sometimes they don’t.  The last time I had to remove a dead bird was last year sometime, and that was a female cardinal.  That bothered me – I love cardinals (much like my mom).

Things usually come in 3’s, right?

Wednesday after work when I let Buddy out, I heard a lot of anxious wing flapping on the ground under a forsythia bush near the corner of the house.  I looked and sure enough, a bird was desperately trying to get up.  I got my garden gloves and pruner because I had to cut back a few branches to get to the poor bird.  By the time I did, which was only a matter of a few minutes, the teenage male cardinal was almost gone.  I picked it up gingerly and coddled it in my hand.  Its eyelids moved so slowly, and I watched as it expired in my hand.  I got emotional – it just didn’t feel right that two birds in two days died in my backyard.  Especially one dying in my hand.  It’s hard for a mom to deal with.

Jamie had just gotten home at the point I discovered the bird under the bush.  Upon determining the bird was dead, he told me to fling it over the fence.

What?

Fling the bird that just died in my hand over the fence?

I couldn’t do that.  I rested the bird (with what I think may have been a broken neck) on the stones under the little bridge in my backyard.  I figured nature would do its thing – whatever that was going to be – and the bird would be gone when I checked the next day.

Wrong.

It was still there Thursday evening.  A handful of ants were crawling on its underside.  This time I decided it was better to put the bird on the other side of the fence (not fling it, but put it there).

I will not climb over the fence to check on it after work today.

But I’m wondering when and where I’ll find the third bird.

Although Josh let me know this afternoon that while he was cutting the grass he found a dead mouse under the picnic table under the deck.  Does that count as the third occurrence of dead things in the backyard?

Maybe I should write to Stephen King and ask him … he may know.

Monday, August 8 and the Blahs

I guess it’s a case of the Monday blahs.  I didn’t sleep all that well last night, woke up almost ten minutes late, and have to leave work early today for a doctor appointment.  What a day!

I’m listening to my iPod while I work and have to say that music really helps make the day better.  Especially when something comes on that I haven’t heard in a long time.

I’d love to connect with some old friends from Chicago but am having a helluva time finding them.  There were girls I hung out with in high school that I’d love to know how they’re doing now.  Time and distance can really suck!

Jamie told me yesterday that we’re going to his brother’s party on Saturday!  Yeah!  I get to meet his family again.  The first and only time I’ve met them was a July 4th party three years ago.  Curious, isn’t it, that so much time has elapsed?  Don’t blame me for this.

Oh yeah – “Vogue” by Madonna is on the iPod right now.  “Come on, Vogue!”  “You’re a superstar, yes, that’s what you are!”

We all are, aren’t we?

What Ever Happened to Relationship Bliss?

I’m in one of those funky moods today.  I’m going to blame some of it on “Glee” and the episode that aired last night.  A rerun, the episode is the one where Kurt’s dad and Finn’s mom get married.  I’m good until the actual wedding takes place and the cast belts out the song, “Marry You” and then “Just the Way You Are” during the reception – both songs by Bruno Mars.

Why the funk?  Because I want to feel the kinds of feelings that those songs evoke.

Let’s talk about being fifty-four years old.  Do something dumb like decide to get married on a whim?  No way.  I’ve lived long enough to know that there are consequences and major changes that occur when you get married or remarried.  If you’ve got a dependent, you can lose your Head of Household tax filing status.  If you’ve got credit card debt and you die, your spouse may become responsible for the debt depending on what state you live in and other circumstances that will determine if the spouse or the credit card company loses in the end.  Health insurance, dental insurance, 401Ks, life insurance, mortgages, loans, etc. – everything becomes fuzzy and involved.  I suppose if you’re widowed it’s one thing – but coming from the divorced side of things you tend to hesitate about doing it all over again.

But all of the above doesn’t stop the feeling of wanting to find that person that makes you feel like none of that will matter – all you want is that person in your life who makes you feel spontaneous and good and loved.

And then there’s “Just the Way You Are” and the yearning to have someone tell you all those things (even if you don’t really believe them).

“You’re amazing.”

“I’d never ask you to change.”

“She’s so beautiful and I tell her every day.”

As you age, honesty truly does becomes the best policy.  Little white lies don’t cut it anymore – no matter how “little” or “white” the lie, it’s still a lie.  Trust is a huge component of a relationship, and if it becomes broken, it’s hard to repair.  So if your significant other suddenly starts saying things like Bruno Mars writes, you’re going to wonder what the heck is going on?  Is he/she feeling guilty about something?  Is he/she cheating on you?  Is he/she starting to go crazy???  After all, you can’t be in a relationship where you bicker all the time or don’t really communicate and then all of a sudden there’s lovey-dovey stuff being said.  It’s suspicious.

So wouldn’t it be great if a relationship not only started out with both people being thoughtful and complimentary, but if there was a continuing stream of being consciously thoughtful and endearing to each other?

Perhaps a divorce and an annulment have tainted my view of relationships.  I admit to having trust issues after getting burned multiple times in just about every relationship I’ve ever been in.  I admit that I am not having trouble with saying “I love you” but I do have an issue with saying “I’m in love with you.”  After three years into a relationship, shouldn’t I have already gotten over things and moved on?  Why is it so hard to do that?

I know I’m probably too old for this, but I would really like to feel that giddy sort of love that makes you tingle every time you see the person you love – the kind of love where you can’t wait to see him at the end of the day and fall into his arms and just be held, feeling the warmth of his body against yours and knowing that you’ll never need anyone else in your life.

I throw all of this out in cyberspace and don’t expect a response.  Sometimes it helps to just put a voice to the thoughts.