Archive for July, 2012

Breeze Only Gallops In the Fields of My Memories Now

My father-in-law wanted a horse for a SwampCousin. He’d made a series of horse purchases and, not really being an animal person, had bought a series of broken-down nags that were at death’s door and soon passed through. He had brought home a pony the last time with the horsey equivalent of advanced emphysema.

“I believe your pony is dying!” I informed him, observing the way the pony breathed.

“He can’t be! The guy that sold him to me said he was only ten years old.”

I cast a jaundiced eye over the sway back and hanging head. I opened the mouth and looked at his teeth.

“This pony ain’t gonna see 30 again. Probably not 35, either.”

“You’re saying he’s old?”

“No. I’m saying he’s ancient!”

Well, the pony survived for a couple more months before succumbing to whatever ailed him. At that point, my father-in-law told me that he wanted to get another horse so that Jenny’s cousin could go out riding with her. “Okay!” He gave me a budget to stick within. It was pretty low because at that time, with the horse slaughter markets, horse prices were fairly high. I looked at one after another. Some he was told about and asked me to go look ’em over. I came back time and again with a negative report. “Well, what was wrong with that one?”

“Their front legs aren’t supposed to be touching”, or “That horse isn’t at all suitable for a beginning rider because he kicked my ass.”

Then one day I heard through some other people about a rescue horse that a woman had. She had bought her out of pity from some people that were starving her, but her horses were beating the crap outta her and she had to sell her. I went to take a look.

She was the sorriest-looking horse you can imagine. You could put fingers way down deep between her ribs. Every vertebra stood up like a mountain on her back. She had bloody sores all over her from where she had been savagely bitten by other horses.

“I’d love to keep her, but I just can’t. I can’t get rid of my horses, and they’re beating her up too badly!”

“She’s a mess, all right.”

“You should have seen her before she gained a couple hundred pounds.”

“You got a Coggins on her?”

She had had a Coggins test done on her the previous week, and it was good. I walked around her again. She was suffering from rain rot and had very little hair. Thanks to her starving condition, I could see her bones very well. They were very good. Her hooves were a long untrimmed mess and her long pasterns were bent too severely because of this, but she moved well without any trace of lameness. I checked her registration papers pictures. The only way I could tell it was her was by the distinctive marking on her forehead.

I looked into her eyes which were hopeful, not the vicious or crazy-scared eyes that might be expected on such an abused animal. “I’ll take her!” I decided.

My father-in-law was NOT impressed when I unloaded her. “WHAT is this sorry-looking thing?” he demanded.

“She’s going to be a real beauty, you’ll see!” I enthused.

“I’m too embarrassed for her to be seen in my pasture!” he grumbled. She wasn’t in any shape to be ridden yet. She went out into the pasture with the daughter’s personable Pony of the Americas, Checkers. They became fast friends. SwampDaughter’s cousin was in charge of feeding her because she was his horse. He didn’t do it regularly. For three months, Breeze looked the same, perhaps even getting thinner, if possible. Then SwampDaughter quietly took over her feeding and care. In about a year, the horse who was named “Breeze” by daughter, was an incredibly beautiful horse, one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. She followed daughter around like a puppy and, indeed, daughter often rode her. Another year went by. SwampCousin didn’t ride her often because he’d been having some physical problems which was eventually diagnosed as type I diabetes. One day he came over and put a saddle on her and swung up into the saddle. Breeze was uneasy and started sidling around, and he slapped her on the belly with the long western reins to show her who was boss. Well, Breeze was having none of that. Breeze dumped him on the ground. He went home crying.

Daughter and I speculated to each other whether his smell was altered as the result of his diabetes and insulin, and whether this change was spooking Breeze. Or it could be that Breeze just decided that her person was SwampDaughter (who she saw most frequently and who brushed her and washed her and braided ribbons in her hair and mostly rode her) and that was that.

Father in law was going to sell that vicious horse, but SwampDaughter begged him to let her make payments on her. She would do chores to pay for the horse. She faithfully made payments on the horse but, IIRC, father-in-law ended up just handing over the papers after she’d made a few payments and demonstrated that she was serious.

We tried to get a foal from Breeze twice by sending her off to a stud farm but she would not eat when she was there. She came home in worse condition than she arrived both times and soon slipped the foal. The people there said they’d never seen anything like it. She refused to eat. She would barely graze and drink. She paced the fence. She was not happy until her girl arrived.

There are so many things that I could tell you about that horse. She didn’t like SwampMan and went out of her way to make him miserable. If he left his barn open, she would walk in and poop beside or on his desk. If he left tools outside, she would pick them up and shake them to see if they would break. If strangers visited and parked in Her Pasture, she would bite their mirrors off and, indeed, son’s visitors used to sneak beer over to bribe the horse so that she would leave them alone.

It took Breezy years after daughter married and moved away for her to forgive her. When she came home and went out to Breeze, she would fold her ears flat against her skull in anger and look away. Jenny was forgiven when she produced foals for Breeze’s inspection. She loved those babies and would follow them around and allow them to take liberties with her ears that she would have bitten anybody else for taking.

Sometime during that time period, Breezy became my constant friend and companion. If there was a bad thunderstorm, I’d wake in the middle of the night to make sure she was okay and not frightened. I spent every fourth of July evening with her during the scary explosions. If I was not there, she raced wildly around the place trying to escape. With me there, she trembled but stood quietly. I couldn’t go outside without a gentle greeting nickered at me. She waited at the gate for me to come home from work and sometimes slept there while waiting. I never was nervous about going out and confronting strangers for Breeze was a very effective bodyguard and guarded me jealously.

I’m sorry to report that, after a brief illness, Breeze died in the pasture with me in attendance yesterday. She’d been unwell for the previous 24 hours. I had called her vet, but he was working in Georgia and would not be back to Florida until today. I stayed out with her until 3:30 a.m. until her pain seemed to ease, and she relaxed. I jumped out of bed at 6:00 a.m. and found her standing next to the fan. She nickered in recognition. We went to pick up the kids and came back to where she was still standing in front of the fan. She refused food and water and even beer, although she did slosh her lips and tongue through the beer several times. I could tell that she was still far from well.

I went back to check her frequently and offer her water and/or beer. The final time I went out, I saw her walking slowly out to the gate where she would wait every day for me to come home from work. I called to her, and she answered with a nicker, then tried to turn when I saw her stop, her hindquarters started shaking, and then she fell to the ground. I dropped everything and raced to her. She was having convulsions and muscle fasciculations and gasping for breath. Her forelegs paddled the ground as she tried in vain to get up. I was sobbing my eyes out, dropped to my knees, and tried to cradle the head of a convulsing horse in my lap. Like the previous night when she had been in obvious pain, my touch soothed her, and she looked at me before she took one last long, deep breath and released it. Her pupils dilated. Her legs drew up to her body.

“NO!” I screamed. “Breezy, don’t leave me!”

As if in answer to my plea, she suddenly took another couple gasping breaths, then stopped. Her muscles continued quivering for a bit.

The rest of the day is a blur. I took care of the children, I suppose. I hadn’t had any breakfast or lunch so when SwampMan got home, I left so that he could bury her. I didn’t want to see it but when I got back, he was dragging her away with the tractor, an awful sight. I cried through the night.

This morning I woke up to the alarm and jumped out of bed to feed Breezy before we went to get the children. Then I remembered.

Since I didn’t feed Breezy breakfast, my entire schedule is off. I forgot to turn the stable chickens out of their chickenhouse until noon. I probably won’t go out into the corral again for a long, long time.

I suppose a lot of folk will think that I’m foolish for mourning the death of a horse, but I never actually thought of her as a horse. She was a friend, and I will miss her dearly.

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Debt Bomb

Fair warning–striptease and bouncing tatas may not be considered by some to be family friendly. Not safe for work, yo. Nice explanation of the problems facing us but I’m not sure if the male viewers will be listening to the lyrics.

Does economics need something a bit more extreme, like maybe pole dancers, for people to get the idea that you can’t run a deficit forever?

And a shout out to Karl Denninger at Market Ticker who has been busily scouring the internet for visual examples of the economic problems besetting this nation and, indeed, the world. I may not always agree with his solutions, but I have to admire his work ethic.

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Sunday Morning Blues

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Saturday Morning Wake Up Call

Yeah, I DO like this catchy tune, although my call me maybe days are SO over!

I had the U.S. Olympic swim team parody version up initially, then NBC decided that they were the owners of All Things Olympic. Oh, well. I liked the military’s version better anyway that was brought to my attention by my bud k.c. at Pixie Place II.

I don’t think this one has any official NBC Olympics pics in it. I suppose they’ll let me know soon enough.

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Now You’re Just a Country That I Used To Know

Whenever I read a story about bureaucratic overreach, about children whose lemonaid stand is closed down, about children who are not allowed to sell Girl Scout Cookies, and about the kid who saved up money slowly and painfully, through mowing lawns and shoveling snow in order to buy a hot dog cart to help support his family, checked for the necessary permits, bought the cart, then was shut down before he could sell the first dog, well, I see red.

This song has been running through my head lately whenever I hear about the massive injustices being heaped upon the citizens of these United States, but instead of “Now You’re Just Somebody that I Used to Know”, I hear “Now you’re just a country that I used to know”.

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I Pushed Poor Little Dylan To His Breaking Point Today

Dylan, who just turned five, will be entering kindergarten in a few weeks. He is not really ready. I did some intensive letter reading and writing work with him this week, but he just can’t remember his letter names under pressure, poor little guy. He’ll just randomly call out a letter that we haven’t even gone over hoping that it is the correct letter.

Mommy was busy this year with working, being sick from being pregnant, losing a grandfather, losing the pregnancy, caring for two active boys and a toddler when she got home from work, and just didn’t have the time or energy left to oversee his school readiness like she was able to do with Jacob. That was supposed to be daddy’s job, but daddy didn’t do it. Papa didn’t do it, either. I don’t think either one thought it was really important at this point, but kids left behind at this stage just fall further and further behind without some pretty intensive coaching.

MeeMaw had to probe hard to find out his weaknesses so that they could be worked on, and sometimes that hurts because we really do not want to do things that are hard work for us, even though we cannot advance if we don’t.

Previously, I have had several short sessions with Dylan in which we covered one letter of the alphabet at a time, then he runs and plays. Today I tried to make it more like a school setting in that we did about one and a half hours of work. We looked at letters. We wrote letters. We talked about letter sounds. We made pictures on the cards. We sang songs about letters, particularly “C is for Cookie”*. Then we read the letters he had written. Then we wrote some more letters and read them. Then, finally, we worked on flash cards.

He just could not remember the letter names from flash card to flash card, and he started crying silently with big tears running down his cheeks. Oddly enough, he could remember some of the initial sounds which I just threw in as a little extra information. The flash cards were letters that he had already learned, not new letters.

Mommy’s heart was broken when her poor little boy had those tears running down his face, and she had to walk outside. That’s okay. I didn’t tell Mommy that since we only have a few more summer days together, I’m not going to ruin what remains of his vacation by forcing him to do something that he cannot.

We’ll do a few worksheets. We’ll glue macaroni in the shape of letters. We may paint some letters, and glue some letters, and cut letters out of magazines. I think we’ll paint some glue on cut out letters, then sprinkle sand over them so we have some nice sensory sandy letters to trace with a finger. We’ll watch Letter Factory and Word World and sing a few more songs. We’ll compare flash cards instead of naming them. That is, I’ll show him two flash cards, and ask him “which one is D for Dylan?” instead of showing him a flash card and asking “what letter”?

Dylan knows his shapes and colors. He is pretty good at reproducing letters that he sees, particularly if we review where we start our letters. He has a slight age-related ADD in that if there is anything else at all going on, his attention is there. (I can relate!)

Children aren’t the only ones that do not want to do hard things. A lot of us are happy sitting in our little comfort zone rut, never expanding our world or doing something different because we do not know how and/or are too afraid of looking silly or foolish when we try something that we aren’t initially very good at it. After all, nobody wants to look foolish in front of their friends or family.

*When life got too hard for a little feral autistic girl, she wanted me to pick her up, hold her tight, and sing her favorite song “C is for Cookie”. My voice is not a good singing voice, but she would not allow any others to sing to her even though I sound like the Cookie Monster off key.

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Missing Items

My daughter was outside this afternoon when a neighbor came up asking if we had any boys there, as there were some items missing from his yard after he observed a couple boys cutting through the woods. She got rather irate, told him that her boys were inside, and they were waaaay too young to be wandering around unattended in the woods. They had, in fact, been inside all day, for the mosquitos are horrible now and WNV and EEE is in the area. He left a phone number, and I called him back.

We talked about relatives, connections, found out that we knew people in common and established our bona fides to the satisfaction of each other so that we knew who we were talking to, so to speak. He understood our family background and had connections way back with some family members. He gave me his name and people to check his ID with. Once we understood who we were talking to, we got down to nut cutting.

He explained that things were missing around his house after a couple of boys had been observed in the yard and then cutting through the woods. He thought they may have come to our house. I laughed, and explained that the only boys here were too young for me to let them out in the woods unsupervised at having just turned 5 and 8 and, in fact, they had been in the house all day.

He queried me about the folks around us, but everybody’s kids were either far too young or too old to be in the approximately 12-year-old guesstimated age of the suspected thieves. “Ahhhhh”, he observed. “Then they probably came from down across the main road.”

There is a place down on the main road that has had a perpetual garage sale going on for some time. It is apparently their only form of income. Another set of neighbors had asked me to keep my eyes on their place because of same perpetual garage sale. The folks from the perpetual garage sale had actually gone into somebody’s yard up the road and picked up yard ornaments, furniture, etc., and were going to haul them away when they were stopped.

“We pick up things to sell at our yard sale!” they explained. It was explained to them that they do NOT go into other people’s yards to acquire said things for sale without asking as that was called thieving. Dang. That would have been explained over a shotgun here. Unfortunately, when the homeowner had to be hospitalized, her place was cleaned out. By the time anybody knew her place had been burgarized, there was no evidence left. It had probably all been sold.

It is suspected that they’ve been behind some neighborhood break ins as well. I’m a little surprised that their house hasn’t suddenly caught fire in the night, but perhaps they haven’t hit the right house yet. So far the thieves, whoever they are, have limited their attentions to the houses of the elderly, sick, and dead.

My phone contact said that, in his capacity as a small business owner, he’d often noticed that tools that he’d unloaded from trucks and put away for a week or so turned up missing when they went to load them on the truck. He’d put it down to employee theft but, with the boy sighting and missing items, he was reconsidering. We do not know. However, there is no doubt that area property crimes are rising.

I noted that we were nervous every dang day about leaving the house to go to work despite years and years of being able to leave the doors unlocked for days. He agreed. We talked about the worsening economic situation, the crime situation, and the possibility of worsening neighborhood conditions amidst the growing chaos. Apparently the only people that are unaware of this are the folks in Washington and people that vote Democrat.

We discussed the possibility of armed self defense of the neighborhood if TSHTF. He’s on board, as are neighbors in the other direction.

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