*Drool*

I spent all day researching Morgans.

Yes, that’s right.

I spent all day researching the horse I am going to buy….

in 3 or 4 years….

to keep on the land I don’t own….

in the state I don’t live in.

Yeah, I know. There are about 437 more productive things that I could have spent my time on.

Instead, I found this:

and this:

And this:

I’ve always known that I really, really, REALLY like some Morgans, whereas I’m completely turned off by others.

Come to find out, it turns out that Morgans have their own little fanclub of foundation-bred Morgans, much the same way that Quarter horses have their little niche.

It turns out, I really like foundation-bred Morgans.

No, wait. Let me reword that.

It turns out I’m slightly obsessed with foundation-bred Morgans. There, that’s a little more accurate.

I mean, who wouldn’t be?

Look at them! In my opinion, they look exactly like a horse is supposed to look. Compact, sturdy, elegant, versatile….

*DROOL*

I’ve always prided myself on not being one to get all caught up in breeding or color.

When other girls were oohing and aahing over flashy paints or Hancock-this and Poco Bueno-that, I kept silent and allowed myself to feel quietly superior.

Pah.

Breeding. Color. Meh. There were plenty of fantastic, grade horses out there for me to love. I didn’t need anything special.

And then I saw this:

The Quietude Stud

And suddenly, I turned into a raving fangirl.

Forget the whole “Team Edward”/”Team Jacob” fangirls.

They ain’t got nothin’ on me.

I spent entirely too much time on their website, pawing through photo after gorgeous photo.

Then I discovered they had uploaded videos to Youtube.

Yeah.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time eyeballing this filly (Quietude Andalucia). Is it just me, or does she look unbelievably smooth to everyone else, too? I really enjoy riding bareback, and one of my criteria for my next horse is that it not rattle the teeth out of my head every time it breaks into a trot. This filly looks like you could hop up on her bareback and head off into the hills without either of you breaking a sweat.

Go ahead. Try to resist clicking through the links to all the other videos. I double-dog-dare you.

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

I couldn’t help myself either.

Don’t you just want to crawl through the computer screen and go live there with them? All those gorgeous horses… moving freely on lush, open pastures… the serene music….

I even went so far as to write the farm an email. I mean, I’ve seen some good-looking horses here and there. After all, my friend Bunnygal has some unbelievably talented, well-bred stock.

I’ve just never seen anything that grabbed me the way this farm’s herd did. As far as I can tell, they don’t have a single dud in the bunch. I’m actually almost disappointed that their herd as the fancy coloring it does, because I feel like I’ve completely sold out.

Bean, I need a horse! No, not any horse… I need a fancy foundation Morgan with rare bloodlines! No, not that rare-blooded Morgan… I need this other kind with long flaxen manes and tails and stocking feet!”

SIGH.

At any rate, I figured it was worth a quick attaboy email to give them two thumbs up from the opposite end of the country. The thing is, not only did I write this farm a letter…. But they actually answered me back.

They thanked me for my kind words, provided me with some really interesting information, and then offered to mail me a DVD.

Now the only thing that is missing is how to convince these people that I’m really their long-lost daughter, and that they need to invite me to come live with them in West Virginia.

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Ode to Pregnancy


ODE TO PREGNANCY
Sung to the tune of “Home on the Range”
Lyrics by me

Oh, give me some time
And I’ll sing you a rhyme!
Of the “miraculous bliss” of pregnancy
Where seldom is heard
A favorable word
Because I’m busy puking desperately!

Oooooooh! The wondrous joys of gestation!
I never thought that I’d miss my menstruation!
For some chocolate I yearn
But it’d give me heartburn
I’m daydreaming of my husband’s castration!

The world’s stinky and smelly,
Get your hands off my belly
No, I’m just fat–I’m not having twins.
I’m large and rotund.
Yes! I’m SURE there’s just one.
You’re hilarious. You’re such the comedienne.

Ooooo, how I love being with child!
My back hurts. I’m grumpy and riled.
My cankles are swelling
My acne’s rebelling
Exaggerating? No, this is me being mild.

I’m nauseous and spotty,
And I live on the potty,
Because my bladder’s the size of a pea
My waistline’s expanding,
I’m annoyed and demanding
What the hell? Is that a stretch mark on me?

OOOooo! I love being knocked up!
My cha-chas have gone up two whole cups!
Sadly so has my rear,
My thighs, and I fear…
Did I just feel a backroll? Ayup.

When I finally give birth
I’ll know that it’s worth
All this pain and discomfort supreme
But until that day,
I’ve just one thing to say:
GO AWAY. Unless you’re bringing ice cream.

Ooooooo The wonderous joys of gestation!
I never thought that I’d ever miss menstruation!
For some chocolate I yearn
But it’d give me heartburn
Yes! I’m daydreaming of my husband’s castration!

We Have a Plan



The Bean and I have a plan.

For all that I complain about living in Orange County, we’re not just hanging out here. It’s no secret that cost of living is through the roof. When I met the Bean, I was paying $865 for a tiny studio apartment in a not-so-great section of Long Beach. There was no assigned parking, and I sometimes had to park up to ½ mile away. There was no laundry facility. Utilities were not included. There was a balcony, but it appeared to be so flimsy that I never felt comfortable actually standing on it, and I’m usually not one to care about such things. The walls were paper thin, the place leaked like crazy when it rained, and the building was in such disrepair that the ceiling literally collapsed on my bed one morning.

When I told people what I was paying, the general consensus was that I was getting a fairly good deal. “Under 900? You have a kitchen with an oven? A balcony? That’s not bad… that’s not bad at all.”

So, yeah. The cost of living here sucks.

On the other hand, wages here are generally a lot higher than the rest of the country. They have to be, or we’d all be huddled beneath bushes.

So, there you go. Cost of living is high, but the wages are also high (in comparison with other parts of the country).

And the Bean and I have a plan.

We live with my parents and split the mortgage on the house with them. When we were blessed with my wonderful job early in January, we decided to do our best to continue living on the same shoestring budget we’ve always survived on. We made a few exceptions. We traded in my old 1986 clunkermobile for a new civic (my first legitimately “real” car with a “real” car payment ever). We also paid off a few people and allow ourselves to splurge and go out to dinner once every month or so. We each have a modest monthly budget of individual “play money” that we can spend on whatever we want, from Starbucks and the occasional singing lesson (me) to computer parts and car window tinting (the Bean.)

We make okay money, but we’re doing our best to shovel every spare penny into savings.

Sometimes it’s annoying.

In fact, sometimes it’s downright frustrating. I see other people my age with all sorts of toys and goodies. I watch other families go on vacations and visit theme parks. We turn down invitations to go to the movies because it’s not in our “budget” and put off trips to the grocery store because we’ve used up that weeks’ budget on food. I scour craigslist for deals and decorate my house through my weekly Saturday morning garage sale extravaganza. If the DragonMonkey owns a new toy, it’s because someone else bought it for him.

The budget is annoying and restrictive, but for the first time in my life, I have a savings account. Well, let me take that back.

For the first time in my life, I have a savings account with MONEY in it.

So I work my 50 hour weeks, and the Bean works his 60 hour weeks, and somewhere in the middle of all that he fits in school. We guard our family time closely, and frankly, I’m still not even sure how we managed to find the time to get pregnant with the Squidgelet. Maybe gmail chat didn’t have the proper firewalls up? Perhaps we texted each other too hard one evening?

Anyways.

As much as I complain about living in Orange County and my current lack of horses, the Bean and I have a plan. Every penny that goes into that savings account takes us one step closer to our Arizona ranch.

I’m not sure when our focus turned from Washington/Idaho/Montana to the sunburned desert, but somewhere along the way the Bean and I realized this was the only place the two of us both agreed upon. I wanted Montana. The Bean wanted North Dakota. We discussed eastern Washington and possibly Idaho.

Somehow we settled on Arizona?

Anyways, it makes sense to us. There’s something truly bewitching about the lonely, desolate space of the desert.

It’s alternately haunting and soothing, and to my eyes it’s always beautiful. After years of living in the Kern Valley, I’ve fallen in love with the way twilight seems to last forever in the desert. I love the feeling of a heat-wrapped summer evening, where the breeze stirs along your skin and it seems like your very bones relax into a quiet stillness. Plus, it’s hard to beat the allure of a place that lets you ride year-round when you’ve been horseless as long as I have.

The Bean likes it for his own reasons. He likes the angry, spiny plants, the relatively scarcity of neighbors and the lax gun control laws.

To each his own.


Laughter and Tears

Funerals are stupidly expensive.

Even knowing all the tricks of the trade, they’re still stupidly expensive.

In fact, I beginning to think they’re just stupid.

I know it’s a bit irreverent, but seriously— do we really need all this overblown pomp and ceremony?

The Saturday before my grandma passed my sister and I accompanied various other members of the family over to the funeral home to begin planning my grandmother’s funeral. It seemed a bit morbid, seeing as how she was sitting on the sofa in her living room, watching tv, but it was a necessary evil.

We showed up at the front door of what appeared to be an immaculate mansion, and nervously pushed open the nearly silent door.

There’s a stillness to the air of a funeral home that seems to suck the words right out of your mouth.

We huddled together in the chilly, overly-perfumed air, silently looking around the bland, non-offensive hallway before we made way into an equally bland, non-offensive meeting room.

A somber man with a serious goatee welcomed us with a small, serious smile. “Take a seat,” he murmured in comforting tones.

My sister and I perched on the edge of our chairs, backs stiff and uncomfortable.

What followed was a dizzying amount of options. Package A or Package A-C? Package C-A? Package B-C?

Kinkaid memorial books with the Lord’s Prayer or somber watercolor books with the 23rd Psalm?

Organ music?

Viewing room?

Embalming or refrigeration fee?

Pre-written obituary or something more personal?

The family and I looked at each other in brief, furtive glances, all of us studiously avoiding each other’s eyes lest we burst into tears. We murmured “I guess”es and “I suppose”es like they were going out of style. Our voices seemed muted and subdued, overwhelmed by the crappy, somber, tear-laden songs that played throughout the home.

I glanced at the memorial book in my hands, and at The Lord’s Prayer which was inscribed on the inside cover in flowery script. I didn’t really care all that much, but suddenly I heard myself asking, “Does it have to be the Lord’s Prayer? Can it be something else?”

I didn’t really have anything in mind, but I just couldn’t stomach the thought of commemorating my Grandma’s rich, full life with a series of impersonal choices we chose from the list. Package A… Memorial book C… Viewing option B… She deserved better than a Scantron-answer version of a funeral.

“Of course,” murmured the man in charge. “We have several options you can choose from, or we can incorporate some of your own words,” he said, handing me a large book full of quotations.

My sister leaned over my shoulder, and together the two of us flipped through plastic pages of funeral-appropriate sayings.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

“As we walk through this garden of sorrow, He is with us…”

“To everything there is a season…”

“Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd, buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks…”

Say what?

Suddenly, the funeral home’s somber atmosphere was shattered by the distinct sound of me snorting loudly through my nose.

My sister glanced up at me quickly, eyebrows lifted in question.

I pointed a finger at the bottom of page 15, and even hummed a few bars for her.

The peace of the funeral home was interrupted once again, this time by my sister’s horrified laughter.

At this point, our entire family was staring at us.

I turned the book to the funeral director, trying to hold back my laughter, and pointed at the song. “Is this for real? Do people actually choose this?”

He nodded. Somberly. Seriously. “Yes. Yes, it’s a popular choice for loved ones that have passed.”

My sister and I met each other’s eyes …and dissolved into helpless laughter.

The meeting went downhill from there.

Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was our way of coping, but suddenly, everything seemed just so incredibly funny. We couldn’t stop cracking jokes.

Within minutes, we had completely derailed the efficient planning of our Grandmothers’ funeral and were listening in horrified fascination as the funeral director gossiped eagerly about the latest fad— talking headstones that were activated by motion sensors.

It was too much.

Talking headstones.

Suddenly, I found myself almost disappointed that for my own death I am planning on a simple cremation with no ceremony. I mean… a talking headstone? Think of the possibilities!

People could walk by, and you could program it to scream out, “BOOO!” followed by creepy, ghoulish laughter.

You could have a recording of your voice annoying passerbys with lame knock-knock jokes followed by bad puns, “What, you guys don’t think that’s funny? Man, this place is dead.”

The rest of my family tried to soldier bravely on, discussing the finer details of the service.

Meanwhile, my sister and I were red-faced and breathless in the corner, giggling over stupid possibilities.

By the time we started discussing appropriate burial outfits for Grandma, even the funeral director had loosened up some.

“Just… make sure it’s appropriate for the occasion,” he said, shaking his head. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of little old ladies that are sent in with filmy nightgowns. You know they haven’t worn anything like that in decades, and yet it’s what their family chooses for them.”

“You’re KIDDING, right?” I asked in horrified fascination. “People actually do that?”

The funeral director leaned forward conspiratorially. “Actually, we did have one lady who actually wrote it out that she wanted to be buried in a lavender teddy, with lace and ribbons.” He shook his head, disgusted. “We had to put something underneath it since it was an open casket. It wasn’t… appropriate.”

The sound of jazz-infected Elton John was drowned out by the sound of our laughter.

Hey, it may not be the most appropriate way of releasing sadness, but it sure beats crying.

By the time we finished concluding on all the details, I felt like we might actually make it through the whole screwed-up mess.

With only the casket left to choose, the rest of my family went back to be with Grandma. My sister and I followed the funeral director into a large, well-lit room, with various caskets lining the walls..

“Take your time,” he said in a sorrowful tone, slipping back into the role of somber comforter. “I’ll be down the hall if you need me.”

My sister and I walked slowly from casket to casket, staring at astronomically high prices.

I stared at disturbingly fluffy, satin-lined interiors, and I couldn’t help but wonder— why? When you’re dead, you don’t exactly have to worry about getting a backache anymore, so why all the pillows?

It all seemed over-the-top. Garish. Almost overwhelming.

So, of course, my sister and I coped.

And by cope, I mean we laughed.

I’m hoping that the funeral director that the muffled gasps and shouts were cries of sorrow.

Somehow, I doubt we fooled him.

The longer we walked around the casket-lined room, the funnier everything became.

For instance— Casket Cap Panels. On the inside of a casket, there are cut-away sections in some of the cloth liners that are designed to fit personalized color inserts.

Most of the inserts they had on display were what you’d expect— a smiling, beatific Jesus, chubby little angels, rainbows, birds in flight, and the like.

What interested my sister and I was the fact that you could request this insert be any photo of your choice.

So, if you were burying someone you didn’t like, you could theoretically have this:

Smiling down at them for all eternity.

The idea has some merit.

Some of the caskets were so over-the-top that you couldn’t help but laugh at the price tag. They were rich-colored wood with gold-lined filigree edging the corners, their interiors lined with mounds of cush satin.

You could almost forget their purpose…. Except for this hideous little sign we saw leaned neatly up against one of the pricier caskets:

Yes, that’s a photo we took with our own camera. I swear, I’m surprised they didn’t kick us out. We were like obnoxiously loud, giggly tourists. I hope nobody heard us.

The longer we stared at that sign, the funnier it became. I think it loses something in the telling, and that it’s something you had to be there for. There’s something about the incongruity of massively expensive caskets, mellow, heart-wrenching music, the drifting scent of flowers… and then a sign that says, “Yeah, dude… you do realize that this coffin isn’t really going to work, right? I mean, you do realize that the worms are still gonna get ‘em?”

Anyways, I think you had to be there.

One of the strangest casket options were tiny little figurines you could post as sentry-like pillars around the four corners of the casket.

It may sound like a neat idea on paper, until you realize what it actually looks like in real life.

Fish.

Four giant, angry bass flopping around on the sides of your loved one’s casket for all eternity.

If you don’t feel like fish are the appropriate way to commemorate your loved one’s death, you could also choose from some of the other options:

A mallard bursting into flight.

A baseball glove.

A strangely stupid looking deer bearing the title “Majestic”.

I apologize about the quality of the photo, but by this point my sister and I were laughing so hard we couldn’t even stand up straight. We were terrified someone was going to come in and ask us to leave, so we snapped a quick photo before stuffing the camera back in our purse.

I’d also like to apologize that we didn’t manage to take a picture of a strangely expensive flimsy-looking blue coffin that we both SWORE was made out of paper mache.

It looked for all the world like a creepy, giant piñata.

I’ll leave it to your imaginations to figure out the line of jokes that resulted from that one.

Before we dashed out the door and lost it completely, my sister and I managed to let the funeral director know our choice of casket.

The bone-sapping Bakersfield heat felt like a warm hug as my sister and I tripped giggling down the stairs to the car.

************

That trip to the funeral home made me laugh harder than I have in months. Like I said before, I’m not sure if that’s an appropriate way to cope, but I know that my grandma would definitely have approved. I may have cried at her funeral and at her viewing this past weekend, but when I think of her I’ll always remember laughing with her.


I mean, this was the woman who once accidentally grabbed Ben Gay from the “Married” side drawer instead of the spermicide. She definitely knew how to laugh at life.


When I remember her, I remember the two of us sitting at the round, wooden table in the dining room, laughing so hard at a joke that we actually started to pee our pants. At 20 years old, I barely made it to the bathroom in time.


At 79 years old, she didn’t.


Somehow, that made it even funnier, and the two of us ended up collapsing in the hallway against each other, struggling to breathe through cramping sides and choked laughter. I can’t even remember what we were laughing about— it probably wasn’t even all that funny.

So, here’s to you, Grandma. Here’s to your marvelous paintings and your sensible nature. I already miss you and your sense of humor. And I definitely miss your “yella jelly”, your steak fingers and fried okra, your sweet tea and laughter.


I can’t wait to see you again one day.