horse d’oeuvres

It started with a coupon – buy one lesson, get two free.  Studley jumped on the offer to take a few horseback riding lessons in November, 2011.  It was something we had discussed, and put on the “one of these days” list.  With the winter chill looming, and a good bargain, we went to the stable for the first time.

We had no idea where it would lead.  It has brought tremendous joy.

If someone had told me that i’d learn to assemble gear on a horse?  That i’d be comfortable grooming a 1,200 pound animal on my own?  That i’d have no hesitation in grabbing a horse by the ankle and confidently picking manure out of his hooves?

That i’d be riding in my first horse show at the age of 50?

Inconceivable!

But last weekend, that is just what happened!  It was a “Fun Show” held by our stable, to raise money for Saddlebred Rescue.*  Not a competitive event, it is used by the instructor to help the newer riders train for more serious competition.

Last year, Studley and i had been riding for a few short months – so we just sponsored a few classes and went to watch.  Sitting in the arena on a chilly spring morning, we watched the youngsters, and some older riders, get their horse game on…

daisyfae:  Do you think we’ll ever be able to ride like that?

Studley:  Probably not, but it’s fun to think about!

This year?  We decided to take a run at it. Well, a “walk-trot” at it.

The kids would have their parents, and grandparents, in the barn… Encouraging.  Cheering.  Proudly saying “That’s my kid!”

Receiving a random signal from the trailer park planet, i hatched a plot to get MY mommy there, too!  With serious support from Studley, she was in the arena with us that Sunday morning.

She encouraged.  She cheered.  Her advice to me as i headed out to mount up – “I’ll be proud of you if you just stay on the horse!”  When my name was called for a second place ribbon?  She hooted and hollered and said “That’s my kid!”

Studley and i also rode in a pairs event — similar to the “Pas de Deux” in Dressage, our instructor modified it to make it more accessible to novice riders.  Instead of the team riding side-by-side while riding a pattern, we rode “mirror” patterns – with the goal of staying synchronized and not running into each other when crossing paths!  We referred to it as the “Faux Pas de Deux” event.

We got second in that event… out of two teams!

That night, we decided to figure out what those ribbons cost.  A year and a half of weekly lessons, riding gear (helmets, boots), entry fees…  Right around $1,300 EACH.  And worth every penny…

Roller Derby, Hard Hat, Pith Helmet, Paintball Mask, Ski Helmet, Motorcycle Helmet, Horseback Riding Helmet, Bicycle Helmet, plus assorted shooting gear

The Helmet Shelf in my garage

* WARNING – adorable animal alert!  You might end up with a four-legged friend in your guest house if you look at these lovelies…

** We had to ride with the adults – it wasn’t proper to let us ride in the “Youth” class.  Probably because those 12 year olds would have kicked our asses!  i placed 2nd out of three riders!  And Studley just missed knocking me out of second place by a few thousandths of a point!

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Polyamory

When i completed my undergraduate degree, i treated myself to a spiffy new guitar – a 1985 Fender Balboa, with on-board electronics and a cut-away.  That guitar and i had some times, we did…

Open mic nights, festivals, garage bands – even a brief stint playing in a bluegrass band.  Mostly?  He was my therapist.  He held fast through some rough times – the years i took my anger out through music.

Some of my friends refer to it as my “Angry Lesbitarian Music” phase.  i could take a Carole King song and make it scary enough to creep out a room.  Will you still love me tomorrow?  Huh, motherfucker?  HUH?!?!

i was rough on him.  Aggressive flat picking tore up the sound hole.  We spent 25 years together, and that guitar saw me through my separation, divorce and empty-nest  transitions.  A few spectacularly bad relationship decisions, too.

Somewhere along the way, i became less angry.  My passions were re-directed in far more productive and pleasant pursuits.  The guitar was collecting a good bit of dust.  Other than pulling it out for a few weeks before the annual Christmas gig at work?  Neglect.

In 2009, i started playing around… with other guitars.  Checking out the Martin owned by my gig-buddy at the office.  The sweet Taylor my “chicken pickin'” friend adored.  Pretty soon?  i was visiting guitar stores.  Checking them all out…

Fell hard for a Gibson DSR CE Acoustic Electric.  Loud.  Clear.  Balanced top and bottom.  Felt right as i worked all the way up the neck.  He came home with me a few days later…

The euphoria lasted about a year – even pushing me to do my first (and only) guitar corset Friday!  i soon got busy with other pursuits.  Played a few gigs here and there, but lost the spark and the Gibson became a bit of a ‘hangar queen’ – looking lovely in my living room, but getting very little love.

The old Fender had been stowed back in his case, and taken to the basement storage room, with all of the other much-loved, but abandoned toys.

Got word a couple of months ago that an exceptional local guitarist would be accepting a limited number of new students.  This awakened the dormant guitarist, and i jumped on the offer!  The chance to put some discipline into the process while sitting at the knee of screamingly crushworthy guitarist?  Hells yeah!

Nervously taking out the dusty Gibson for my first lesson, i discovered that he had some alignment issues.  High end of the neck was out of whack.  My guitar teacher offered up the name of her most trusted repairman.  Not wanting to let her down so early in the game, i made plans to get the Gibson to the shop for a tune up.

Dennis asked me to sit down and play a little so he could work the set up to my style.  The good news?  An easy tweak – no more than a few days.

Just in case it took longer, i climbed into the storage room and blew the dust off the Fender.  A fresh set of strings, and i was able to keep putting in time every day to work the callouses and restore muscle memory.

It was a little like rediscovering a lost love!  i remembered why i fell for that Fender in the first place!  He can take anything i throw at him – and beg for more!  The harder i play?  The better he sounds… i was looking forward to introducing him to my guitar teacher.

But Dennis had worked his miracle, and the Gibson was ready on Tuesday.  Retrieving him on my lunch hour, Dennis was anxious to see my reaction.  Sheer, unadulterated joy!  Dennis had built a custom saddle, and the sounds coming out of that guitar were astonishing!  Better than when i bought him!

Still loud and strong, but very fast. A delicate touch!  Think about touching the strings and it happened…  i couldn’t wait to get him home where we could be alone for a while.

Dennis:  If you want the action a little higher?  I can do that!  Can set it up with some heavier strings, too.  It sure has a beautiful sound, though.

daisyfae: i like this.  It feels good, but completely different from the Fender.  i…. i think i want to keep them both. Just the way they are…  i’m pretty sure i can maintain both relationships…

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in case you came here looking for info on polyamorous relationships?  nice article here

Lessons of old dogs

“Do you think your pup needs to go outside?”

“Nah! i took him out a couple of hours ago! He’s just being a pest!”

Studley and i went on about our project du jour, while my ancient dog continued to try to join the game. He eventually wandered off to the living room and we went on with our adventures. Only to be interrupted a few minutes later by the unmistakable sound of a torrent of urine* being unloaded onto carpet.

Rushing toward intervention i got him hooked to his leash and opened the front door so he could take the remainder out into the bushes. We came back inside, and the poor fella looked rather forlorn, knowing he wasn’t supposed to paint the rug.

Giving him a pat on the head, i assured him that it was ok, as i set about mopping up the mess.

“It’s ok, Buddy! You tried to tell us! Nothing more you could have done!”

i got out the SpotBot to do some extraction.  Mr. Pickles sheepishly wagged his tail and looked a little less grim.

“You know, at his age?  There really isn’t anything he can do to piss me off…”

i stopped dead in my tracks.

“Why don’t i feel the same way about Mom?”

Turns out?  i do.

When i launched the blog back in 2008, one of my primary demons was my relationship with my mother.  i was angry and resentful at her for the way she treated my father.  i was frustrated by her history of ‘one bad damn decision after another’ – primarily in the arena of enabling my siblings to continue to make ‘one bad damn decision after another’.  i could not comprehend her bitterness with life, given that the last half with Dad had been far better than the first half – and she never seemed to demonstrate gratitude for the gifts around her.

But i’ve since realized that her relationship with my father was/is none of my business.  He understood and accepted her.  Who am i to weigh in on that?  Every decision she ever made regarding my siblings was made with love – she wanted to help.  She was born bitter, and will die bitter, and there’s nothing that can change that.  Her heart is generous, it just has a really thick crust on the outside.  She’s done the best she could with what she’s been given.

i can honestly say – “At 84 years old, there is nothing my Mother can do to piss me off.”

mr pickles sez

* My dog has a phenomenal capacity for piss. Through the years, he has developed the ability to hold onto it for many hours.  When he lets go? It’s Victoria Falls. In yellow…