Eleven Days

I know she’s with God.

I know she’s in a better place.

I know she’s not hurting anymore.

But eleven days, cancer? That’s all I got to say goodbye? Eleven days?

I’m glad for her. I’m glad she didn’t have to linger. I know she was ready.

Still. That’s not nearly enough time to say goodbye.

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Mockingjay

Yesterday I went to dinner with my father-in-law.

He’s a wonderful man who I only see once or twice a year.

The entire time we were chatting around the El Torito table, all I could think of was this:

Sitting in the car. By itself. NOT being read.

The Bean brought it home for me yesterday as a present. I squealed like a schoolgirl when I saw it.

I squealed like a schoolgirl, gave him an excited kiss, then ripped it viciously from his hands and proceeded to ignore him all the way to the restaurant.

By the time we exited the restaurant, the sun had set.

The moon, however, was really full. I could aaaaaaalmost make out the words on the ride home.

Almost.

It was really frustrating.

The second we arrived home I gave the Bean a distracted kiss and bolted off to bed.

I read until I was beyond exhausted. I had to shut one eye to keep the other from crossing. I was THAT tired.

Something woke me up before dawn, and as I rolled over my first thoughts were of:

I immediately came awake, rubbed some of the sleep out of my eyes and began reading.

When my alarm went off at 6:30, I shut it off with a snarl.

When the Bean woke up and asked me why I wasn’t in the shower, I snarled incoherently at him as well.

When he tried to make affectionate small talk, I ignored him because of this:

When he trailed a hand over my leg in a familiar, lazy pattern, I ignored him.

When he smiled his sexy smile, and tried to hold me close.. I rolled over to my other side and brought the book closer to my face.

When he finally kicked me out of bed 12 minutes BEFORE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AT WORK, I told him I hated him and flounced off like a sullen teenager.

I knew he was right, and I knew I was already late, but I was under the influence of this:

I had to leave behind my large purse today, because I knew I couldn’t be trusted with it. If I brought it with me to work, I would have ended up taking a “bathroom break” every 30 minutes.

As it is, that stupid book is all I can think about.

I really need to finish this book so I can get on with my life.

Speaking Dog-ese

Dear neighbor who recently acquired the bullmastiff,

I would like to congratulate you on your adoption/purchase of the full-grown adult bullmastiff. A bullmastiff is a beautiful, regal breed, and one that I very much admire. I commend you on your addition to your family. I haven’t spent much time with him, but judging from his deep, clear, resounding bark, he appears to be in good health.

He also appears to be a bit of a night owl…. And my, he is an opinionated dog, isn’t he? My husband and I listened to his healthy, full-throated, deeply echoing opinions all night long. It has been awhile since I’ve had the pleasure of hearing such a beautiful, bass bark. On a side note, did you know that my bedroom happens to be positioned about 10 feet away from your backyard? For all that Orange County has lovely weather, it does feel a bit cramped from time to time, doesn’t it? Even with all the doors and windows shut, our location still managed to feel like we had front row seats to a concert. Judging from the neighbor who hollered out, “SHUT UP!” at approximately 3:30 in the morning, we were not the only ones enjoying his nightly serenade.

At any rate, relying on my years of experience with dogs and a recent viewing of 101 Dalmatians, I thought you might be interested to know that I have decoded the message your new family member spent several hours trying to communicate last night. The rough (ruff?) translation appears below:

“Dear new family,

As you may have noticed from my impeccable breeding, I am designed to be a family dog. I find it quite distressing to be separated from you, as it is my duty guard and protect you. I have been trying to tell you this for several hours now, and I wanted to let you know that I find myself growing depressed and lonely. In fact, I find myself so desperately lonely that if this continues on a long term basis, I’ll have no other recourse than to escape from my yard, jump into the small, beige sedan of your neighbor’s vehicle, and force her to drive me to an animal rescue she knows of that is several hours away. None of want to deal with this sort of inconvenience, so please: let me in tonight.”

While there might be a few glitches in the translation of your new pet’s message, but I wanted to let you know that I’m pretty sure I was able to understand the gist of it. In my experience, dogs of this nature tend to be pretty single-minded and hardheaded about following through on their threats, so I thought you might appreciate the head’s up.

Sincerely,

Your neighbor with the small, beige sedan

Screw You, Cancer

I’m exhausted.

Three weeks ago I put the final touches on a project that has been bothering me for well over a year.

My grandma, while still independent and able to care for herself, was reaching the point where she needed some help. Although my uncle (her son) has retired and lives with her, I could see the warning signs that she needed additional support. Unfortunately, event though I recognized the signs it was a difficult thing for a strong, independent woman to accept.

For the first time, I cursed my new job with its wonderful hours and great paycheck. My once-a-month visits weren’t enough. If it weren’t for my wonderful job, I could probably convince the Bean to uproot the family so we could move in. This wasn’t just any family member. This was my Grandma. I lived with her during my college years. We took road trips together and stayed up late at night, laughing. The two of us nursed my Grandpa during his final weeks of emphysema, taking turns between us with his round-the-clock care until we were finally able to grant him his wish— dying at home. I was 19. Grandma was 73. I imagine it’s a bit like war—it’s not the sort of thing you can go through and not feel a deep, inexplicable bond.

It took several months of dropping hints and wheedling, but I was finally able to get her to agree to some outside help. Thankfully, a close friend of mine who does geriatric care happened to have an opening in her schedule right at that time, and we put the ball in motion. The weekend I went riding was the weekend it all came together— after months of worrying, I was finally going to be able to relax.

Last Wednesday afternoon, just 8 days ago, my grandma went in for some testing. She’d been feeling a little lethargic, and she was retaining a little more fluid than was normal. Her potassium was a little low, but with some extra vitamins, they should be able to bring that back to normal.

The hospital released her on Saturday.

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

End stage.

They gave her anywhere between one and eight weeks to live.

My family gave the news to the Bean rather than straight to me, hoping he might have some way of making it seem less of a shock to a pregnant, hormonal woman.

He gave me the news in stages, trying to give me a chance to absorb it, but it still felt like someone had punched me in the gut.

One to Eight weeks.

I knew it was coming. It’s inevitable. It will happen to all of us. It’s just…

One to Eight weeks.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

I called my family, desperate for some kind of reassurance. She was doing well, just a little tired. No, no, my visit could wait until the next week, especially with my job.

Then came Sunday night’s call.

Maybe I should reconsider waiting until the weekend, my family said in broken voices. In fact, maybe I should probably go up there as soon as possible.

I threw things in a bag and at six the next morning my sister and I made the three hour drive up to Kern County to find a pale, faded version of the grandmother we knew. It hadn’t even been two weeks since I’d last seen her, but the diagnosis suddenly hit home. We stayed with her two days, holding her when she cried, brushing her hair, rubbing lotion on her dry skin.

We snuck out to the funeral home and began the expensive, time-consuming process of death.

She stabilized slightly and we kissed her goodbye on Tuesday, telling her we’d see her this weekend.

We left off what we were both thinking, which was, “I hope.”

One to Eight Weeks.

Screw you, cancer.

What I MEANT to Say…

I bought a new pair of pants. They fit comfortably, were on sale, and look nice.

There’s only one problem—I keep forgetting to cut off the electronic tag the store left on them.

It doesn’t bother me when I’m wearing them, and the only time I remember it’s even there is when I walk through the sensors on the way in or out of a store and set off the shoplifting alarm.

You’d think after the second or third time I’d remember.

Heck, you’d think after the first or second MONTH I’d remember.

Sadly, no.

Every time I set off the alarm, I vow that TODAY! will be the day I finally rid those pants of that stupid shoplifting tag. I mean, it says “REMOVE BEFORE WASHING OR WEARING” on it in huge letters. You’d think I’d be able to remember that.

Again… sadly, no.

Aarenex? This one’s for you.

Last Friday I decided to man up and make my way over to the library to pay off my library fines. I had a long drive ahead of me, and there’s nothing better than listening to a book on tape to make a long drive seem short.

For the record, I *highly* recommend TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY . It’s a little raw and it’s definitely not a happy book, but it’s a beautiful, extremely well-written story. To top it off, the actors they chose for the audiobook were some of the best I’ve ever heard. Heck, it was so good that on the way home I missed my offramp off the freeway by, oh… six or seven cities.

Anyways, back to the library.

After making my selection from the audiobooks I made my way to the front counter to settle up and check out the items. The librarian was a courteous, somewhat reserved blue-haired lady and my attempts at small talk and self-deprecating humor fell completely flat. It quickly became obvious that she did not find overdue library books to be a laughing matter. At all.

At ALL.

We fell into an uneasy silence, and as she handed me my books she gave me a pointed look. “These are due on the TWENTY-SEVENTH.”

I nodded, blushing and properly chastised. And as I do whenever I’m feeling uncomfortable, I began babbling.

“Twenty-seventh. Yup! Definitely gonna have them back before then. I mean, it’d just be embarrassing to have to pay more fines. Nope. Not gonna happen!” I continued to edge my way to the exit. “ Twenty-seventh. Gotcha. I’ll write it on my calendar. Not gonna be late! Nope! Twenty-sev…”

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

I felt my face grow instantly beet-red as I set off the sensors with my STUPID pants tag, once again.

The librarian arched an eyebrow at me.

“It’s the, uh, tag. I’ve got, uh, a tag. I’m not stealing anything. Uh, why would anyone… I mean, that’s just silly. I mean, it’s just clothes… uh…. the tag’s fault…” I trailed off, desperately.

What is it about setting off those stupid sensors that makes me feel like I really DO have something to hide? I know perfectly well I’ve never shoplifted a day in my life, yet every time one of those shoplifting sensors goes off I feel like I’ve crammed an armload of merchandise down the front of my pants and have been caught trying to make a break for it.

I decided to try to explain my red face and stuttering one last time to the librarian.

What I intended on saying was, “Pardon me, Miss Librarian, but I have neglected to cut the tag off of this relatively new pair of pants. This tag, designed to be removed upon returning home has accidentally tripped your sensors. I am not attempting to hide anything from you, despite my blush and apparently guilty countenance. If you would like, I could return to the counter to prove my innocence. Thank you for your patience with my bumbling. I appreciate your courteous service, and I thoroughly respect you.”

Instead, I turned around, looked the blue-haired librarian straight in the eye, and loudly wailed, “I feel like I have something in my pants!”

The librarian stared at me in disdain, prim eyebrows hiking up slightly.

Horrified, I tried again.

“I mean, I feel like I have something DOWN my pants. I don’t. My pants are empty.” Oh, geez. C’mon, Becky. You can do this.

The library was silent. All eyes were on me— the babbling, red-faced woman. I had one last chance to set the record straight.

“I don’t have anything in my pants, but it feels like I do! But there isn’t. I’m not stealing. It’s a tag!” I finished, loudly.

I gave up. I turned around, strode through the sensors again (BEEP!BEEP!BEEP!BEEP!) and practically ran to my car.

Stupid library. Stupid librarian. I’m going to have to sneak back under the cover of darkness to return those audio books. They’ve probably got a restraining order against me now.

Bwahahahaha!

I’m sorry.

I know it’s not nice to make fun of people.

It really isn’t.

Still.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

(Click on the image to see it in its full glory.)

At first, I thought it was a typo. Heck, I’m guilty of those all the time. I was expecting to open up the ad and see “3/4 Thoroughbred, 1/4 Quarter Horse” or something along those lines.

Nope.

It’s a 3/4 horse. Not only that, it’s a brand spankin’ new 3/4 horse. I mean, it’s still all wet behind the ears, and everything.

This sounds like a pretty good deal. 75% horse for only $1800?

I mean, wow.

You usually only get about 55-60% horse for that kind of money. Someone needs to jump on this.

Meet the Herd



I’m so sunburned I’m pretty sure I just gave myself skin cancer.

I’m so exhausted I’m nauseous, and I’m so sore that when I walk it looks a little vulgar.

I had such a blast!

Who wouldn’t be exhilarated after spending a weekend surrounded by personable, well-trained, well-bred, unbelievably gorgeous horses?

I’d love to go into detail about what a perfect weekend this was, but it’s 9pm at night right now, and I am exhausted.

So without further ado, meet some of Bunnygal’s herd:

First off, here’s Rocky the Stallion (aka Rocky the Ninja horse ):

Rocky is sweet.

Rocky is handsome.

Rocky makes me drool a little.


Actually, Rocky makes me want to turn into a backyard breeder and throw dozens of in-season mares into Rocky’s pen with him.


I’m sure Rocky wouldn’t mind that at all.

At any rate, Bunnygal is a very conscientious breeder, so even though Rocky’s seven (eight? I forget), he only has one foal on the ground.

Two years ago Bunnygal bred her mare, Miss Pal to Rocky.

She looks an awful lot like a palomino, doesn’t she? Well, she’s not. Bunnygal had told me that she suspected Miss Pal of being a dunalino, despite her coloring being listed as palomino on the registration. I kind of shrugged when she said that. I mean… does it really matter?

Well, when you breed a palomino to a sorrel stallion and end up with a stunningly beautiful red roan colt named Willie, apparently it does. Since it’s impossible to end up with a red roan colt from a palomino/sorrel cross, Bunnygal had to go through a whole bunch of extra paperwork in order to change Miss Pal’s paperwork to her true coloring: dunalino roan.

What do you get when you cross a dunalino roan with a bay roan?

You get a MaryJane:

MaryJane just turned a year, so she’s entering into the gawky yearling/2 year old phase. I don’t know about you, but I think MaryJane looks gooooooood. She’s one of the sweetest fillies I’ve ever met. She’s not pushy or aggressive, but she LOVES being loved on.

Plus— buckskin roan. It’s kind of an eye-catching coloration, don’t you think?

She has the neatest mane, too.

Hey, color enthusiasts out there: I know if that mane belonged on a regular bay horse it would be called a silver bay. Is it normal to have a mane like that on a buckskin roan? Or is she technically another color? I get so confused with stuff like that.

Speaking of pretty manes, meet Josie:



Josie is sweet.

Josie is solid. Josie is honest, and good. She’s like milk, or whole wheat bread. She’s a stubborn horse if you want to actually ride, but as far as just hanging out or trail riding, I’ve never met her equal. She’d probably plod along pleasantly even if rabid wolves were snapping at her ankles. She’s completely unflappable.

The only time I’ve EVER seen Josie with anything less than a completely sweet, open, friendly expression (like the one above) is with me.

Josie hates me.

No, seriously. She does. I think she was a llama in her past life. We’ve tried to get along, but for some reason, this mare and I just don’t click.

This is a real shame, on a number of levels.

Number one: She’s a good size for me, unlike some of Bunnygal’s other horses. All the horses are stout enough to carry me, but Josie has a little more leg on her. She’s actually the perfect size for me.

Number two: Nobody has spoken for her. Oh, don’t get me wrong. She is loved and cared for and ridden regularly. Everyone who rides her loves her, but nobody in Bunnygal’s immediate world really LOVES her. I have a bad habit of falling in love with other people’s favorites out of Bunnygal’s herd. If I could just make it work between Josie and I, I could have a horse that I consider “mine” without stepping on anyone’s toes.

Number three: And this is the big one.

Look at this trot:



Yup. It’s a trot. It’s kind of pretty, but it’s not really anything special, right?

WRONG.


That, my friends, is what a non-gaited gaited horse looks like. No, Josie isn’t really a gaited horse. But you know what? You can’t really tell the difference as far as smooth riding goes. Something about Josie’s conformation makes her the Cadillac of horses. Bunnygal’s husband jokes about her being the perfect trail horse because you can trot along with a full can of beer and not worry about spilling a drop.

He’s not exaggerating, either. That trot is smooooooooth.

So, that’s Josie: a gorgeous, bombproof, sweet, obedient, incredibly smooth-riding horse.

And she hates me.

No, okay, she doesn’t REALLY hate me…. but she also doesn’t really like me. I’ve probably ridden her around ten times, and each time I crawl off both of us are a little peeved. I don’t know what it is, but something about the two us just doesn’t click. Nobody else seems to have this problem. Just me. I don’t know why, but I do know it’s kind of a real shame.

And then, there’s Cotton:

Hey, I owe you guys a story about me and Cotton, don’t I?

Some other day. It’s already getting late.

Anyways, Cotton really is too short for me. I mean, I REALLY should pick on “someone my own size”.

It seems kind of mean that I feel so comfortable on short, stubby little Cotton.

But Cotton has a broad back:

And Cotton has a really wide chest:

And Cotton’s powerhouse rear end is equally solid:

Every time I stand near Cotton, Sir Mix-a-lot’s signature song goes through my mind.

So while Cotton may be too short for me, I don’t really worry about it all that much. She’s more than solid.

She also has cute little feathers:

When you combine that with her gorgeous forelock, she looks like she just walked off the movie set as an extra for “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron”.

She’s a total spaz under saddle, but she’s also incredibly fun. And sweet.

And look, she poses for pictures!

She’s also in-foal to Rocky and due sometime in May of next year. I’m more than a little excited to see what pops out.

Anyways, there’s some of the herd. There are a few more, but I’m sunburnt and exhausted, and I need to go waddle in a spread-eagle, obscene way to the bedroom to go to sleep.