I’m just gonna pretend that’s true. Why not? I’m tired of living in fear of “the other,” which I think comes from all the stories you hear about crazed people on the other side who want to shoot you or take your guns, or whatever. Just two examples.
After reading about the boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse, I was thinking that little horrible can happen if I just live like people are basically kind and loving.
Honestly, if you’re reasonably observant it will be apparent if someone feels malice or is duplicitous. Then you can just move on to the next adventure. What do you get from fighting or trying to prove something? Not much.
It sounds like the kind of thing many religions promote but few actually try to do. Probably it’s hard, that’s why. I’ve been trying. I’m motivated to try harder.
My friend Louise, who is a frequent commenter here, sent me this book after I’d commented that a short film based on it looked sweet. Sweet. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (2019), by Charlie Mackesy, is way more than sweet.
Everyone with a tender heart, even one hidden deep under layers of armor, should read this book. You deserve to spend time in the world these characters reside in. You need to hear the reminders that love and kindness are what truly matter and that we all are worthy of these things.
The book is gorgeous, too. It’s printed on beautiful, thick paper. The text and images are all hand drawn in the minimalist pen and ink of the author/artist. Your eye just wants to linger on the images, many of which say volumes with no words.
Louise knew I’d treasure the book, and I’m so grateful she sent it. Lee read it, too, and he also laughed at the mole’s love of cake. I cried at one of the few things the fox said. He treasures friendship as much as I do.
I’m passing the book around the family, then I’ll leave it in the tack room for guests to find and enjoy. I encourage you to buy it and share it. Give it as a gift to a friend you treasure. I know I’m gonna drag my local friends into the tack room to sit with a few of these poetic pages and remember the world we want to create.
I’m visualizing calm and coolness. Neither is easy, since poor Kathleen is still racking up the challenges and trying to avoid the hospital, and it still hasn’t rained again.
It didn’t go over 100° today so far, so that’s encouraging. And the cumulus clouds seem bigger today that they have been. So I’m patiently hoping it all turns around. Like I keep telling folks, I’m fine as long as I have peace and hermit time.
Yep. My she shed is working out great. I even have a stool that lets me write at the desk AND serves as a footstool. Classy. Unfortunately, the comfort and A/C droning make it clear that this could be a nap shed.
Things will get more settled soon, and I’ll be able to share some cool renovation stuff.
In the meantime let me share a cool tip one of my local horse friends shared: you can fertilize by dropping horse apples (poop) into the gaping cracks in the earth right now, then when it rains, the crack will close and the poop will help the grass grow back. Maybe wishful thinking.
Yesterday I shared the big surprise I received when I got home and found a new hen house created from my former new tack room. I didn’t share what happened to all my tack and food.
Yep. I stepped out of the Hen House and did a double take when I saw there was still a barn red storage building where the tack room was. What the heck!
Well, you may recall that we had a lovely Victorian house on Ross Avenue in Cameron. It came with many empty lots and a couple of storage buildings. We are in the process of selling that house to an expert renovator, but are keeping most of the land and the buildings.
My spousal unit, Lee, was the one who wanted to improve the chicken coop. The nephew said, why build another one? Let’s use the tack room, which is a bit cramped, and haul the big blue building here to be a new tack room? This decision was made before we left for our trip, so I can imagine everyone had a hard time keeping it to themselves!
So, they had the plan of moving that building here, painting it, and turning it into the tack room plus, all before I got back. Unfortunately the house hauling person had a problem, so the blue building didn’t make it until last Thursday, by which time they’d cleaned it out and painted it red. I’m still in shock.
My son, Lee, and the nephew worked overtime to get the flooring down, start insulating, and get some walls up so they could empty my trailer (where the tack all was), so I could take the horses to their lessons. That stuff has all moved a lot. I bet my son and our helper really hope they don’t have to move it again!
Today my son finished insulating and putting up the lower walls. Now the gambrel roof and ceiling need doing.
Notice there isn’t any horse stuff on the side of the room in the photos. There’s a good reason, other than needing it clear to add the walls. The nephew took it into his head to make half the building into a she shed. He even has it wired to put my precious former office chandelier in there. Holy crap.
They are going to bring my rugs and furniture from my old office. And my art! This will be so cool, and Kathleen, Anita, Sara and I can hang out in our girls’ club. Maybe we need a no boys allowed sign.
Wow. Stuff like this makes you just want to hug the world. I’m so grateful.
Drew’s my Valentine! And Lee. And the relatives. And the dogs. But Drew. I didn’t know they made horses as nice as him.
I built a new playground setup near the new round pen with jumps, circles, brush, and the obstacle he doesn’t like for circling.
All the horses were so sweet to me and the offspring-in-love after they dropped by for a few minutes.
Drew, Fiona, and the Buckskin Buddies just stood around saying hi and asking for pets. It’s hard not to smile with them around.
Once again, Drew followed me to the gate, then walked back with me, perfectly matching my steps. I think I can easily get him to do like Apache at liberty and more. It’s just so awesome.
Later, after feeding time, I went to let him out (I’m keeping him in to try to get him to eat more), and instead of rushing out to freedom, he hung around and sniffed me to figure out what I’d been cooking. Then he “asked” me to scratch his neck a while, gently “kissed” me, then left. Yep. He’s a good Valentine.
Did I give my humans love? Sure! The kids got hot tub time. And I made dinner for the men. I’ll share the recipe in another post.
My heart is full. I was tired from work and hurting from lifting many heavy objects yesterday, so I went for a walk. I hadn’t planned to do much with the horses, because they did a lot yesterday, but I wanted to spend time with them. I spent some comforting time with Apache, then noticed Drew was looking at me from the other side of the gate.
I walked over and spent quite a while rubbing on his face and helping with his itches. He rubbed back, which is always so nice. He had such good breath. Then, I saw that the gate at the end of the little pasture appeared closed, so I went over to open it. I called to Drew, and both he and Vlassic accompanied me (Vlassic ALWAYS accompanies anyone who appears to be walking toward the cabin).
When we got there, and I realized the gate was actually slightly open, I figured Drew would go out. No. That little horse turned and matched my steps the whole way back. If I stopped, he stopped. If I sped up he sped up. Whoa, has he been watching Apache in the round pen? I was so happy that when we got to the end of the pen, he got lots of pets and loves.
Yes, my little Droodles is GOOD at the canoodles. He must have spent ten minutes nuzzling me, checking out my ears, sniffing my head, and rubbing me gently. I just about burst into tears. I don’t think I’ve been shown so much physical affection by a horse, ever. Heck, he was more affectionate than most people are now that I’m old. I got some extra sweet selfies, and he tried to help by sticking his nose on the phone.
I do enjoy these guys. Fiona loves to cuddle while she’s eating dinner, and Apache is so good at making sure NO ONE gets into his pen at feeding time. Everyone else lines up like little soldiers, ready for dinner.
Another Elizabeth Strout book is now under my belt. I started it a while ago, then a few other things pushed their way into the queue. I was also savoring it. I do love to read the words of the fictional Lucy Barton, and that’s what all of Oh, William! is.
Elizabeth Strout could make Lucy Barton walk across the room to go to the toilet and I’d find it poetic and striking. That’s just how Lucy’s thought processes come across to me. Even though Lucy doesn’t stray from her theme that you can really never know what’s going on in anyone else’s mind, it’s great to see her come to that conclusion over and over again, especially when it comes to her first husband, William.
Lucy has always felt like an outsider from the rest of the world, thanks to have been brought up in an isolated setting with no media or other outside influences besides school. William was, in her view, a safe haven. The plot, such as it is, revolves around Lucy slowly realizing he actually never was that.
The contrast between William and Lucy’s second husband, David, could not be stronger. David was warm, loving, and comfortable, while William was one big, scary (but fascinating) mystery to Lucy. I had so smile as I realized that Lucy just could never shake William out of her system.
William had a glamorous mother who it turned out, was not from glamorous roots at all…much like Lucy. The other subplot had to do with this woman, Catherine, who abandoned her first child…much like Lucy felt she had abandoned her daughters (but really hadn’t).
Enough about the plot. You read these books more for the way the plot presents itself and the language Strout uses to express the ideas in Lucy’s head. It’s just so, so wonderful.
Now. After I finished the book, I began wondering why I feel a kinship with Lucy and how she relates to the men in her life. It then dawned on me. I’ve had my own William and David. I literally worshipped my high school boyfriend, but in the end I had to get away to be myself. And he was much like William. And his mother was exactly like Catherine (from poverty in Mississippi to a glamorous adulthood).
But it was how Lucy felt about men that struck me. She viewed love like I did much of my life, and I never realized anyone else was like that. I always thought I was very odd. But, certain circumstances where love is sort of withheld from you can lead you to not trust yourself to really love people, so you sabotage relationships. Huh. I’ve done that. Repeatedly.
Gosh, I’m glad Lucy is seeing things clearly, now that she’s my age. I hope I am, too. And if this review doesn’t make sense, well, it’s because I don’t make sense, either. Do any of us? I’ll ask Lucy in the next book.
[Somehow, most of this post got deleted when I went to publish it before. THIS is the real story!]
I’m excited to have permission to share this story! Yesterday I got to head out to a horse breeding and training facility in our area to visit Sara’s new love interest, a large Andalusian gelding named Aragorn. She met him last week and instantly bonded with him.
It’s a beautiful property, and we were surprised to see a beautiful colt on the road, prancing and dancing like a fairy animal. We said we bet he wasn’t supposed to be there. Sure enough, Glenn, the ranch owner, came running up to get the little guy. He was back in and coming into the barn to eat dinner by the time we got in.
All the mares and foals just walk in and line up in stalls to be fed. All so well trained, and the foals were very friendly.
Aragorn’s current owner bred him, so knows his history. Glenn told us lots about him and was very honest about why he is relatively affordable for a very well-bred European breed. He coughs when anxious, for example.
Once he got all saddled and we learned a lot about appropriate bits, Trixie showed up, and we watched Sara get a lesson in riding in the style Aragorn is used to. Sara is such a quick learner that I could tell Glenn was having fun telling her stuff and watching her figure out exactly what to do.
And, obviously, Sara had a blast as well. I got a lot of photos of the lesson that I’m going to send to her just to study her positioning and stuff, but my favorite pictures have to be the ones of Glenn gesturing, Sara working, and the two dogs who are exactly the color of the dirt, just sat and watched.
Just in case you are interested in what Aragorn can do, here are a few more pictures to click or ignore. To be honest, I just like looking at the beautiful setting of this ranch and its facilities. They are nice but not insanely fancy or anything. It’s “just right.”
Trixie has known Glenn a long time, but even she said she was learning some things watching him show Sara things, explaining the origin of the moves in Western dressage, and sharing history of equestrian sports. It was fascinating. And he is such a nice and generous man!
The Amazing Part of the Story
After the “test drive” in Sara’s tack, we were just talking to Glenn. She asked if he did private lessons, and he said he hadn’t before, since he just retired from being an ER physician. Sara sat on Aragorn for a minute, thinking. Then she asked him, “Were you an ER physician in College Station 21 years ago?” He replied that he was.
She then asked if he remembered a blue roan paint colt named X that he trained. He didn’t quite remember, but said he could look it up. Sara said that was her colt she’d raised to work with before she married her children’s father. She mentioned her married name, and Glenn said that did sound familiar. So, we are pretty sure they met all that time ago when Sara had her precious colt that she had to later sell. Wow!
Back to Work
After we got over our surprise, Trixie got to work and adjusted the heck out of Aragorn. Just like with my horses, he ended up extremely relaxed. It’s always extra educational watching her work with a horse and diagnose where it has structural weaknesses and what could help it. Sara took a lot of notes.
Meanwhile, I bonded with the dog and looked at all the other beautiful horses. I had no complaints whatsoever, and took lots of pictures of how they arranged their tack house, their tying mechanism and such, for reference when we get to setting up our new one.
I knew Sara would like some “glamour shots,” so we went out and took some, even though Aragorn still had the sweat marks from her saddle pad. He is obviously fond of her already. They really had an instant bond, like he’d been waiting his whole life for her to show up.
At the end of the day, we all got to go take a look at the young stallion who was in the paddock next to Aragorn. He is most beautiful, like someone’s dream horse. They are hoping he will have a baby soon from a mare that was brought in to be bred.
He’s been trained that he has to stand on that stump to get dinner, because he used to be pushy about his food. He was not thrilled that his food didn’t immediately show up, but he was gentle as a kitten, and apparently is a great riding horse. I’d love to see him in saddle!
We were pretty exhausted and sweaty by the time we were ready to go home, but had to take a selfie of us horse lovers in our unplanned coordinated shirts! We are a bit disheveled, but happy. I hope you enjoyed our love story with a nod to the past. I know you look forward to Aragorn coming home to Sara’s property and watching them progress in their skills.
Yesterday, I achieved a milestone that was a long time coming. In fact, it was one of my “life goals” since I was a small child, and something I never thought I’d be able to do. On the surface, going over to the barn, saddling up my horse, and going for a nice ride doesn’t sound like a big deal. But it was. A huge deal. The amount of personal growth, courage, emotional maturity, and understanding of another living being required to get to this milestone was huge, and I’m just going to say it – I’m really proud of myself.
I’ve been riding Apache for a good number of years now, at least five. One of my life’s dreams came true when Sara generously gave me Apache (and his expenses, ha ha) when she realized that his health challenges meant he’d never be the hard-driving athlete she needed to fulfil her own dreams. It was obvious that I loved that generously rounded horse, regardless of his rideability, and I’d be just fine hanging out with him and doing things on the ground, if it came to that. It also helped that he seemed fond of me, too.
We took some Parelli lessons (a natural horsemanship style) back when I had money to do that kind of thing, and we got a pretty good foundation from it, though being in crowds with people barking orders at us made both of us nervous. That is an important insight.
Since then, we have worked at our own pace, getting better at various horse/human activities, and understanding each other more and more. I am sort of glad I didn’t have the money for more lessons, because it was good to work things out on my own, with Sara providing guidance. The progress was slowed down by the fact that Apache has metabolic issues, so sometimes his feet hurt and I can’t ride him…like much of last year, right when we’d been making really good progress going out in the ranch with Sara and Spice, exploring. I learned that Apache is as curious as I am about seeing new things, as long as he can take his time.
On January 15, 1991, the Gulf War was all that was on the news. I was, however, preoccupied with other things, since the previous day, I’d taken a very bumpy and snowy drive to the local hospital in Urbana, Illinois, where I’d spent the least-pleasant day and night in my life. No one wants the gory details, but in the end, the day dawned with a new human being in the world, my son, Kynan. The name means high and mighty in Welsh, or something like that.
I have to say that this baby brought so much joy to his parents, grandparents, and friends that it was totally worth the interventions and ickiness of his birth. We had so much fun with this bright, funny, and entertaining little soul.
He started talking at nine months. We went into the back yard to look at the stars, and he pointed up and declared, “Moon!” He’s never done things the standard way. My dad said K. was revenge for how I was as a baby and toddler. I apparently talked constantly, too. Lucky for me, I was in my element gabbing away and reading to my little buddy.
He was also an annoyingly early walker, but again, that was fine. He got his dad’s athletic build and skill, that’s for sure.
Raising this young man was one of the great joys of my life. I always enjoyed his friends and was impressed with his loyalty to them. If a friend crossed some line, though, they were out. His sense of right and wrong has always been very strong. His intellect is bright and very sharp; he’s fun to debate with (he was good at it in school!). He’s a gifted musician, and I always loved listening to him play his mandolin.
The other greatest joy I had was proofreading his college papers. It was awesome to see how his writing became better and better during college. By the time he as finished, he wrote as well as me and didn’t need my help (and I couldn’t really understand the philosophy stuff, as he’d passed me long ago).
I’m very proud of his work as a high-school teacher, and have worried about him a lot during the COVID-19 period. That has had to be so challenging for someone who cares so much for his students.
Anyway, it’s a sad day for me on January 15, 2021. Like many people I know, I have a child who will not communicate with me. The last time I heard from him normally was two years ago today. It’s been a hard time for both of us, I think, as there have been many challenges in both our lives. I hope though, that he is happy with his family and household, and thinks of me in positive ways, at least occasionally. I know when he’s ready, he’ll get in touch again and I’ll find out what caused him to ghost me two years ago.
If you have a close relationship with your children, tell them you love them often! And if you’re estranged, hold hope and love in your heart. That’s about all I can do. I’m not looking for advice, just sharing how things are right now. My sadness today is perfectly normal, and I’ll be fine and keep coping.
Change is always possible, and is inevitable. I’ll be here for my son whenever he wants me to be.