Tuesday, January 25, 2022


Can you believe this? Some 400 years before Jesus was born, a man said this:


“Someday, in the distant future, our grandchildren’ s grandchildren will develop a new equivalent of our classrooms. They will spend many hours in front of boxes with fires glowing within. May they have the wisdom to know the difference between light and knowledge.” 


--Plato (PLATO’S DOCTRINE: 909 Relics of Greek Philosophy).



Reality is so compelling. It has so much momentum going it’s hard to stop or change direction. 


Brother, are you having a problem with life these days?


 Maybe it’s just me.


I was cruising along pretty well, not worried, then I felt something was bearing down on me. Yes, I know better. I know that when you are resonating with the good, you feel good. When you focus on the dire, the dangerous, the sick, you feel down, depressed, complaining, or just off-kilter.


So, how do you lift yourself up when something knocks you off-kilter?


When I realized that we don’t know what to believe anymore. I see that people believe lies, and we don’t know who is telling them to us and why. I saw that someone can drop a dire something on us, an insinuation, and not even sign their name to it, and what happens? It becomes spread into society. People glom onto the sick and disgusting. 


It has something to do with the way our brains work, how we can’t stop looking at a train wreck. It gets the adrenaline up—hell's bells, take a roller coaster ride, that will get the adrenaline up too.


We know that fear sells. Fear keeps us off-kilter. Fear makes us uncontrollable, but we can’t help it. Fear runs us. We let the media, and who knows what all, to affect us. I read that Memes are driving our culture. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram--these are all windows for us to peer into. When people have death, sickness, unrest, unemployment thrust into their face for over a year, it wears on them. We weren’t built to live under constant threat. 


Darn, I was looking out the wrong window. I have a philosophy about which window to choose—this is all figurative, you know. One window shows kids playing in the street, riding their bikes, and laughing. Another shows the neighbors quarreling. Some windows even look out upon downright fighting. 


And then I approach my kitchen window—this is real—and there is an orchid growing on the sill that has sent up a new spike and is budding. This is its third year to bloom. Maybe because it is looking out the window to the maple tree in the back yard that is bare now of leaves, but the tree and the orchid believe that spring will come and with it baby silky leaves that will flutter in the backyard.


We have to focus on the good, the healthy, the beautiful. 


We came here for a reason, and it wasn’t to suffer. We thought this time on Earth would be a grand vacation, a joyous one, so why isn’t it? Has the outside world done it to us? Could it be that our belief in suffering and decline has been passed down from generation to generation? Well, folks, now is the time to stop it. 


Now is the time, as Ralph Marston wrote, To “Breathe in the sweet air of limitless possibility and make life as rich as you know it can be.” 


Breath wrote Dido Owlnute:

“To pause

To make space

To collect your thoughts,

To remember,

To face the next moment, 

To choose.” 


“Remember, you made it this far through difficulties that seemed impossible. Remember how many times you were saved at the last minute—this time is no different.”—Bryant McGill.


“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” --Marcel Proust


I came upon this picture, taken in Greece, of my daughter at 16. It is a beautiful window to look upon. She wasn’t posing but just standing there, and I snapped the picture.




“Truth isn’t always beauty. But the hunger for it is.”—Nadine Gordimer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Sometimes You Bet on the Bay


One reader thought I wanted to be a horse.


 I don’t. 


I don’t even want to own a horse at this stage of my life. 


So, why am I writing this?


To alleviate sadness. Maybe it’s grief. Perhaps it’s a longing to feel as I once felt riding bareback around the orchard trees as though I was Slalom skiing. I was atop a perfect horse.


Years later, I can say with perfect confidence that Boots was a perfect horse. I thought he was then, but experiences with other horses have told me how accurate I was. I now see that Boots was what Pat Parelli would call a “Superhorse.”


He was only five years old when my dad bought him, so he couldn’t have had too much training. I was 12 and didn’t have much training either. Yet, we soon learned to be a team. He neck-reined, which means you could ride one-handed, and with only a slight turn of the wrist, with reins against his neck, he would turn on a dime. At the time, I didn’t know about the horse-human connection. I had not learned what the more-recent horse gentler/whispers say that a horse responds to light pressure. A slight movement of my body would cause him to leap into a canter smooth as silk and would eliminate the bumpy trot.



Why in the world a prey animal (the horse) would allow a predator (the human) on his back is beyond me. 


 A horse bucks to get a mountain lion off his back. He shies, which can put him, in a split-second, four feet away from a harmful object. (A snake, maybe? Or a plastic bag. If you have ever ridden out one of those split-second maneuvers, good for you. It can put you on their neck, on their tail, under their belly, on the ground.) 


Last night my husband called my attention to an article on Firefox called The Horse human corporation is a neurobiological miracle. (He knew I was interested in horses and brains.) And what happened? I slipped into sadness. 


I grieved over selling Boots. I thought of the horses we have had. Then, I thought of getting Duchess, a 24-year-old Arabian 40 years after Boots. Duchess lived out her life with us, eased me back into riding, rescued a mustang, and raised two young fillies to adulthood. 


(Read, It’s Hard to Stay on a Horse While You’re Unconsciousness by Joyce Davis. Paperback only. Long title, but appropriate.) 


I learned from a horse named Dee that my daughter bought and ended up selling because she bucked. Dee tended to go in circles. However, I found that if I focused on something ahead, like a fence post, she would go right toward that object. Don’t tell me there isn’t a brain-to-brain connection between the horse and rider. 


A horse will do just about anything he can for you provided you know how to ask—there’s the rub.


Thanks to the horse gentler/whisperers, only recently have we learned some of the subtle cues a horse uses to communicate. Their very nature has allowed him to be a partner with humans.


A twitch of the ear can tell another horse to move away. A pressure as light as a finger on your eyeball will move a horse. Yet for eons, we have used ropes, bits, spurs, and whips because we thought that since he is big and powerful, we need to use force to control him.


We evolved as hunters and being a predator, we believe in using control. Horses evolved as flight animals. If it looks scary, smells scary, or is believed to be something scary—RUN.


Years ago, when the Hermiston Horse Auction in Hermiston, Oregon, was in Vogue, my second daughter and I loved going to their once-a-year big sale. We would drive the two or three hours necessary up the “Columbia River Highway to Hermiston, Oregon, stay in a motel, and go to the Auction. One year we accidentally killed a TV set by placing an ice cream cake on it. Sorry about your TV, guys. We sold Dee there to a really nice woman who would finally give that needy horse the home she deserved, for she had been alone for a long time without attention.


Once at the Auction, three guys and two Norwegian fjord horses put on a show. Norwegian fjords are striking animals, buckskin or cream with a dark mane and tail. Their distinguishing feature is a white stripe that runs the length of their mane. The horses are husky and small, so a rider can hop on their backs relatively easily. The fellows were playing musical chairs with the horses. As the horses were cavorting around the arena, one guy would jump on a horse, another would pull him off and hop on, three men trying to be that last man riding. So, it went with one jacket getting torn to bits and the bidding going wild. My daughter bid on one, but the price went too high.


                                                     Norwegian fjord


Thinking there was money to be made at the Auction, Daughter Dear bought a gentle little mare named Sweetie. Poor Sweetie’s feet had been so neglected that the Ferrier I called in for a trimming thought her legs might be permanently damaged. We boarded her at the Auction yard for a week until time to drive to Hermiston. I rode her between the stalls just to see how she handled. Sweet horse, neglectful owner.  


Sweetie sold at the Auction to a mother and daughter who were as tickled to get her as two kids at the ice cream store. A few months later, my daughter received a call. “Who was Sweetie bred to?” 


“What?” Well, Sweetie gave them a foal that day. They were over the moon.


 A horse can make you a gentler person if you watch and listen. Let your adrenaline go up, and the horse feels it. Be calm, and the horse knows it. I suppose part of my sadness came from realizing that people have yanked horses around—because they didn’t understand. This animal will do just about anything he can for you—provided you know how to ask.


My dentist boss used to say, “Horses smell.” I would say, “Yes, a dirty horse, or their yard. Not a clean horse.” I bet my boss bathed each morning and wore a deodorant. A real horse person can bury their nose in a horse’s mane, breathe deeply and relax into an “Ahh.”


Besides having my daughters, my most exciting days were getting a horse. The day my dad led Boots down the drive and told me to make friends with him is permanently emblazoned on my brain. The day I bought Duchess, I told myself, “I’m going to be happy every day of my life.” The day I bought six-month-old Velvet at the Hermiston Horse auction driving up my bidder higher than I wanted, everyone applauded. A cowboy told us afterward: “Watching you guys buy a horse is more fun than buying one myself.” The day I bid on six-month-old Sierra at the Burns Wild Horse Auction only to drive her 5 hours home then have the truck, and trailer jackknife on the hill brought my adrenaline up. With a mustang stomping in the trailer and knowing that if I lost a mustang, I must pay for its capture, I trudged up the hill, remembering what a horse book told me: “A horse is prone to stampede, especially a young horse.” I saddled Duchess, and after Husband Dear opened the trailer, Duchess and I stampeded up the hill and into the round pen with little Sierra hot on our trail. 


 Slip out. Close gate. Horse penned. Success.


What would I have done without Duchess? Trying to get that truck and trailer out of its predicament would have severely shaken up little Sierra. (And bless people who pass down information.)


In my mind’s eye, I see Sierra and Velvet racing up the drive. I see Velvet taking a Lipizzaner leap off the embankment onto the driveway below. A freed horse is such fun. They would frolic around the house, run on the gravel drive, roll in the Oregon red dirt, then settle down to nibbling the grass around the house. 


“A horse, a horse, My Kingdom for a horse.”  Shakespeare’s Richard III


Point? That important things can change suddenly.