Monday, November 24, 2008

It has arrived.


View of the red bud tree this morning. Cat tracks and rabbit tracks were visible all around the house. There's a fat black cat that visits and a rabbit family in my wild patches.

View of a neighbor's barn red attic through my trees.

View from my dining room. Favorite window in the house.

And a cozy little house for my cozy little car.
Read more!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out on the Town

Common knowledge states that when you are feeling depressed, you should do something special to boost your spirits. After a very difficult 24 hours of obsessing over the health (or lack of it) of Ginger Ale, today was dedicated to doing just that.

I started by staying in bed a few extra hours this morning. This was something of a test of endurance as Ginger, the non-ambulatory pit bull with the best-looking hips since Megan Fox--at least, according to my veterinarian--experienced such levels of nuclear flatulence it is a miracle that the bedroom did not spontaneously combust.

We (Ginger, Soda, the Damn Cat and I) all staggered downstairs around ten to eat and start some laundry, under the pretense of doing something useful. This was so utterly exhausting that we all promptly fell asleep on the sofa, causing us to miss the protest against California's Proposition 8. I'd like to say we were there in spirit, but honestly, we were dead to the world. With the mood I have been in for the last few days, had I shown up the crowds would have begun protesting for me to go back home in no time. Really, it was better for everyone that I stayed behind.

Upon waking, laundry was changed and plans for an exciting evening were hatched. I decided to do something I only do once or twice a year. This was, after all, supposed to be a very special night. I fed and walked the dogs again (where did the day go?), grabbed my quarters and headed out.

First stop: Dinner. I went all out, ordering the #3 (plain, please) with a Sprite. Ahh, the smell of hot, salty McDonald's grease filling the Beetle... The gal on the other side of the glass tried to hand back a dollar, explaining I overpaid, but I told her, "Keep it! It's a special occasion!"

Dinner stowed safely in the passenger seat, I criss-crossed the metropolis of Columbus and drove straight into the open parking spot fronting my evening destination: the laundromat. Imagine my delight not only in finding a premier parking spot, but in discovering a waiting and empty Triple Load Washer! Some feelings are hard to put into words.

So there I sat, on an empty washing machine, downing french fries and watching my dry-clean-only quilt spin itself into sudsy oblivion. I will admit, there was a small part of me that was jealous.

I gazed up at the carefully worded sign dangling above the row of machines where I sat:


Well that, at least, provided some comfort.

Read more!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Inspiration from kt tunstall

I wish I knew how to add a video from YouTube, but I don't. And I don't have the energy to fight with it anymore tonight.

I tried to embed a video of kt tunstall singing "Heal Over," a song I find helpful in times of difficulty. I can provide the link, and I will also provide the lyrics. I don't particularly believe them, but I do find them comforting. Maybe someone else out there will, too.

Heal Over by kt tunstall

It isn't very difficult to see why
You are the way you are
Doesn't take a genius to realise
That sometimes life is hard
It's gonna take time
But you'll just have to wait
You're gonna be fine
But in the meantime

Come over here lady
Let me wipe your tears away
Come a little nearer baby
Coz you'll heal over
Heal over
Heal over someday

And I don't wanna hear you tell yourself
That these feelings are in the past
You know it doesn't mean they're off the shelf
Because pain's built to last
Everybody sails alone
But we can travel side by side
Even if you fail
You know that no one really minds
Come over here lady

Don't hold on but don't let go
I know it's so hard
You've got to try to trust yourself
I know it's so hard, so hard

Come over here lady
Let me wipe your tears away
Come a little nearer baby
Coz you'll heal over, heal over, heal over someday

Read more!

Dan Savage and Stephen Colbert make me smile

I have been a fan of Dan Savage since I lived in Seattle in the early 90's--even when I often cringed at the explicit details in his new (at the time) column, Savage Love. Let's just say I was much younger, then.

Today, while withering away in a sandtrap of boredom at work, I unearthed a very recent interview of Dan on The Colbert Show regarding his reaction to the passing of California's Proposition 8, which now bars same-sex marriages.

To see the video, click here.

[Disclaimer: Clicking "here" will not turn you gay. Though some may ask you if you got a haircut recently.]

And the quote which will live in infamy:

"It's sort of like 'Gay Survivor.' We're going to outlive, outlast, and outsmart the bigots."

Dan Savage, November 11, 2008
Read more!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Once again, I didn't get the memo

A 2004 order permits attacks on terrorists outside war zones.

Some of you may remember my getting a little hot under the collar about the unauthorized attack on Syria on October 26. I had this nagging feeling that there was something wrong with lauching offensives within sovereign nations at our whim. This was primarily because it sure seemed to piss us Americans off when other countries did that to us. Maybe I was just having a bad day...

Well, turns out "we" (the U.S. government) issued a hush-hush memo back in 2004 saying that this was perfectly acceptable. Who penned it? This will shock you: Donald Rumsfeld. Here is the link to the story on The Huffington Post.

Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda in Many Countries

Published: November 9, 2008

An excerpt:

"These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

"...The 2004 order identifies 15 to 20 countries, including Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and several other Persian Gulf states, where Qaeda militants were believed to be operating or to have sought sanctuary, a senior administration official said."

And there you have it. Read more!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

There may be a blog cooler than mine

Someone who suddenly thinks he's super-cool just started a new blog. It's true what they say. Anybody can start their own blog!

Okay, so it is pretty cool.
Read more!

It's Official: Columbus, WI Decides Presidential Outcome!

Columbus City Hall, founded 1892

For all of you who have long underestimated the electoral power of the small city of Columbus, it's time to eat your words. The results are in, and Obama apparently has us to thank for his decisive and historical victory.

According to the November 8, 2008 Columbus Journal, voting was up a whopping 0.86 percent over 2004. You read that right--nearly an entire percentage point!

In 2004, 2,566 people in this great metropolis voted, while this year, the turnout spiked to 2,588. That's twenty-two people, people!!

As for the split, here's how it went down:

Barack Hussein Obama: 1,542
John Sidney McCain III: 1,000
Mayor Nancy Osterhaus?: 46

This is even more impressive when you consider that the 2000 census of Columbus stood at 4,479. It is loosely estimated to be closer to 7,000 now. That puts our voter turnout somewhere between 37 to 58 percent.

We're already preparing the Columbus Middle School's backyard for Obama's Airforce One Heli, as it only stands to reason that he will be stopping by the thank us any day now.

Gov Doyle stops in for lunch last June.

For the record, reports of voter intimidation were greatly exaggerated.

Photo by Shannon Green
Read more!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh, shit.

Thoroughbred Adoption Service Launched for FREE Horses.

This is ALL I need. No doubt this is due to recent legislation banning horse slaughter in the U.S.--a controversial subject due largely to the immense number of unwanted thoroughbreds in the racing industry--but it still makes a small part of me perk up and say, "Did someone just say "free racehorses?"

And another part of me that wonders, are they accepting any trades?

What did she just say?!

I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
Read more!

Writers welcome a literary president-elect

"Writers welcome a literary president-elect" is an interesting piece on Obama's connection with America's writers and literary set (a.k.a. the literary elite ;o). It was written by Hillel Italie, an AP National Writer.

An excerpt:

NEW YORK – Last winter, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison received a phone call from Sen. Barack Obama, then the underdog to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama had contacted Morrison to ask for her support. But before they got into politics, the author and the candidate had a little chat about literature.

"He began to talk to me about one of the books I had written, `Song of Solomon,' and how it had meant a lot to him," Morrison said in a postelection interview from her office at Princeton University, where for years she has taught creative writing.

"And I had read his first book ('Dreams From My Father'). I was astonished by his ability to write, to think, to reflect, to learn and turn a good phrase. I was very impressed. This was not a normal political biography."

For Morrison and others, the election of Obama matters not because he will be the first black president or because the vast majority of writers usually vote for Democrats. Writers welcome Obama as a peer, a thinker, a man of words — his own words.

I recommend the article, attainable by the link in the first sentence.

This June 8, 2007 file photo shows Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison pauses during a Radcliffe Day annual luncheon in Cambridge, Mass. For Morrison and others, the election of Obama matters not only because he will be the first black president or because the vast majority of writers usually vote for Democrats. Writers welcome Obama as a peer, a thinker, a man of words, his own words.(AP Photo/Lisa Poole, FILE)

Read more!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama

I will remember this day as long as I live.

The next First Family of the United States of America.

U.S. President-elect Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) leads his family onstage during his election night victory rally in Chicago, November 4, 2008. Obama holds daughter Sasha's hand, as Mailia and his wife Michelle Obama (R) follow.REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)
Read more!

Seriously now: VOTE!

At SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, Opie, an Asian small-clawed otter, takes voting seriously in this Nov. 3, 2008 photo. Casting a ballot for his favorite meal, he encourages everyone to go out and vote this election day.(Photo and caption submitted by Jason Collier)

And in a MOST embarrassing gaffe, McCain accidentally votes for the blue team today. Going to be hard to live that one down if he loses!

Sorry, I just can't enough of this picture.

Read more!

The Dreams of Sparrows

Last night I was looking for a light film to watch, so I picked what I thought surely must be a comedy, a documentary about the war in Iraq. Imagine my surprise when I was faced with brutal depictions of life in Iraq following the US invasion.

Truly, this film was very compelling, and the director, Hayder Daffar, did a brilliant and seamless job of weaving the highly disparate views of his fellow countrymen together in one sweeping portrait. He represented well the reality that there are as many opinions about this war as there are Iraqis.

I can honestly recommend this movie as highly appropriate for viewing the night before an immensely important US presidential election--or any time you really need a lift.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Deepest Condolences to Obama

Obama's grandmother dies a day before election.

This is so incredibly sad, and tragically ironic. I can't even imagine what a blender-full of emotions must be running through Senator Obama at this moment. I know family trumps even presidential elections and it really doesn't matter in the end, but if only she could have stayed with him for one more day, just to see...

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois, center, with his grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, on a park bench in New York City while he was a student at Columbia University. Obama made reference to his grandmother during his recent speech on U.S. race relations.Obama for America via AP

This undated photo provided by the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., shows his maternal grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham during World War II. A day before the presidential election, Sen. Barack Obama announced the death Monday, Nov. 3, 2008 of his grandmother, who helped raise him and who he praised as the cornerstone of his family.(AP Photo/Obama Presidential Campaign)
Read more!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Riders on the Storm

Focus is something I have been in short supply of this weekend. There are a few things going on in my life, I suppose, but I am leaning more towards the theory that I am simply passing through one of those valleys wherein I seem to lose all focus for an unspecified period of time.

Jack had his stitches out Saturday, on the first day of November. Though I was at the barn Saturday and Sunday, it wasn’t until I was leaving tonight that I remember my board was due. I don’t travel with a checkbook, so I had to apologize and promise to bring it tomorrow. I am always early in my payment to them, and this was irritating.

I actually didn’t ride Saturday because I couldn’t find the motivation to go back out after the drugs had worn off the horses from the morning visit. (Julian had also been sedated so she could examine a pea-sized lump on his eyelid. No verdict on its cause but I had to postpone its removal to finish absorbing the financial damage from Jack’s bills.) Instead, I fell asleep on the sofa with Ginger. Lots of sinus pain with the changing temperatures, which is typical for me, but I think something else is afoot. I don’t know what or I’d probably tell you. Or maybe I wouldn’t, depends on who you are. ;o)

So after sleeping much more than necessary this weekend, I was determined to have a good ride with Julian today. Again, focus eluded me. I just couldn’t keep myself where I needed to be, and after not riding him for a few weeks, it really needed to be on him. The intermittent rain showers weren’t helping.

As one would expect, he was full of himself, and all over me. I had sloppy horse mouth marks on every pocket; he stole my riding gloves; he tossed my orange safety vest down in the sand; and basically tried to steal anything not nailed down. I managed to saddle him, and mount him (no small feat ever with him) and we rode into the back pasture, determined to find the spot where I had seen the owners disappear into the farmer’s empty fields beyond. That was where the galloping was to be had, and Julian and I both wanted to have it.

We paced that fence three times, but no gate. I felt like the older children from Narnia going into the wardrobe and only finding a wood back behind the coats. There would be no magical portal for Julian and me. Feeding on my frustration, Julian went beyond his usual playing and took off with me. I always find it amusing—not the disobedience, but the act he chooses—because a hard gallop is always what I am after. So I gave him his head and we raced hell-bent for leather around the large field. I always worry about footing, but since I’ll probably die instead some day by choking on a chocolate chip, I dismissed the worry and patted my helmet on tighter. His speed was fantastic—almost breathtaking. He galloped so hard he did not have the extra room to buck, which is common with him. After he ran out of steam, we took a few more runs until he got the devil out, and I headed for the top of the hill, still restless after not finding a way out.

The goal here was to get around the neighbor’s corn field to the areas that had been harvested. I led Julian through the barn aisle out to the front to see if we could find another way back there, using the side of the road by the farm. Though I had my helmet and hunting vest, I had forgotten my phone, and I chided myself. I try to make it a rule never to ride alone without my phone, but of course I was too distracted to remember it. I noticed that now the owners were home and would no doubt see me leave out the front gate, assuring that should I not return by dark (or Julian return alone) I’d have someone to call the Mounties for me. That was good enough for me.

After only two attempts, Julian allowed me to mount from the bumper of my Beetle, and we paced around a bit as I planned my route. As he wandered, he walked towards the barn, where I had re-strung the chain that acts as a stop-gap for horses loose in the aisle. I knew he saw it, but forgot who he was and how he’d been acting—and he walked right through it, snapping it like silly string.

Damn, that angered me. Not at him, but at me for not redirecting him before it happened. Another reminder that my head was somewhere else.

Not to be held back from riding without my senses, we did wander along the country road for some time, though we never found a way back behind the corn. I began to feel quite claustrophobic, as if there was no where for us to go—no escape. I tagged this as a symptom of something else going on with me but still kept turning him in all directions, certain I would find the path that would lead us to open fields.

I like to find something really positive that comes out of each ride, no matter how off-plan it seems to go, and we did get that. As we followed along the corn, with me yelling inaudible obscenities at the farmer who had waited FAR too long to cut his corn, I heard a young voice yelling, “Daddy! Daddy!” I knew that voice. That was my voice, if I was ten again and saw a woman riding a big black horse right by her front yard. She came running to the front of her yard as her dad paused with his rake. She was all smiles, reflecting my own, I suspect. I pulled up on the other side of the road.

“You like horses?” No, idiot, I thought, she clearly hates them.

She nodded vigorously. I looked both ways and headed across the pavement, stopping just on the other side, at the edge of their beautifully manicured lawn.

“Do you mind?” I asked the father. Hard to tiptoe with nearly a ton of horse and rider. He nodded his okay and picked up his little girl, who had no shoes on. Smart man, I thought. I walked down the slope towards them and pulled up alongside. Predictably, Julian reached with a gaping mouth towards the possibility of snacks, so I turned him before they got slimed. Both petted his neck.

“I was crazy about horses when I was your age, “I told the girl, “and I would never forgive myself if I didn’t stop to let you see him close up.”

Jules was still restless—or just disappointed that they had no food—so I turned back pretty quickly to the road and crossed over. I rubbed his neck and told him he’d done a good thing, promising a treat once we got back.

Soon enough we did head back, defeated by the corn. He was doing really well on his own being next to a busy road, but I still couldn’t shake my claustrophobia, or my need for speed. He kept breaking into a trot as well, but no way was I going to run him in a ditch full of beer and liquor bottles. (As it was, I was certain he was going to cut a pastern out there. I kept leaning way over to see his feet—which kept moving too fast for me to examine them properly.) As we re-entered the farm, I saw the owners preparing their own horses for a ride. I took Julian through the open front pasture gate, which is still big, though not as large as the back pasture, and asked him for a canter. He gladly obliged. As we rounded the bottom corner, now facing the barn, I let him go completely, and he stretched out his neck and covered the ground in an instant. It was exhilarating. We took a few more runs and I focused on cooling him down for about twenty minutes, as he was breathing hard, and my knees and legs were aching.

The point to this story is that there is no point. I am distracted and unfocused, and feel, for whatever reasons, fenced in too tightly. I can run hard and fast circles within those fence lines, but I can’t seem to find a way out. The nightmares are back, too, so there is a boil working its way to the surface. I am extremely fortunate to have a partner to help me work those feelings out through 25 mph gallops, or just by his falling asleep with his head on my shoulder after a vet visit.

So, Julian, this one’s for you.

Read more!