Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Uncurb Your Enthusiasm

I like Baltimore, it's a fun town. There's a thriving music and arts community, it's relatively affordable and the streets are all laid out in a sensible grid formation. I've lived here for about 15 years now so I've become a little jaded. OK- I was born jaded, I've become downright surly.

I spent the last year living in Wellborn, Florida. I don't like Wellborn. It's not a fun town, it has no music or arts community, half the roads aren't even paved let alone laid out in a sensible grid. It was an eye opening experience to live in an ultraconservative southern town during a recession. Like one of those scenes from A clockwork Orange where they pry your eyes open and force you to read things like a giant church sign that says, "Get her done for Jesus!". Actually, that was one of the more amusing things I saw down there. Less amusing was the poverty, the lack of education, the meth epidemic, and the frightningly depressed economy. The young people that are going nowhere fast and their parents that have already been.

A good thing came out of my Year of Living Dingily. I have a new appreciation for all the advantages with which I grew up. My parents (total buzzkills) insisted on a good education for their children, it was a given that we would all have the opportunity to attend college. I went to private schools surrounded by the priviledged, most more priviledged than myslf. I never had to worry about whether there would be enough food in the house, whether the electricity would get cut off, whether we would have heat. Those thoughts never entered my head, so I was free to fill my head with other things, not all of them erudite. I am thankful for the good life that I have now, and for all the great friends and family that I have so often taken for granted.

Yes, I know this post is totally gay.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Worst Blogger of All Time

I totally suck at this blogging thing. I sort of fell off the face of the civilized world in 2008. I got lost in every sense of the word. I'm hopeful that I will do a better job of clinging to what's left of my sanity in '09. I'm glad to be home in Baltimore after a year of commuting back and forth to Florida, trying to keep everyone just happy enough... and succeeding only in making myself completely miserable and psychotic. 2008 was a disappointing year for me, a year of lame and dead horses, a year of floundering aimlessly in a difficult and uninspiring environment, a year of losing focus both figuratively and literally. I just didn't feel like I had anything of import to say and I had difficulty maintaining any thoughts for long enough to form anything but the most rudimentary opinions about them. This sucks... that stinks... ouch... You get the picture.

This month has already been one of highs and lows. I got home got both my horses settled in at a new farm. Started teaching again was just starting to feel like I had my feet under me when I heard that the horse I had been riding in Florida for all of '08, who I loved like one of my own, died suddenly with a foal in utero. That sent me reeling again for a couple of weeks. I'm still trying to get my bearings up here, and the weather is not cooperating! A year in the south has made me delicate and persnickety with regard to cold and freezy pellet shaped precipitation.

I've been told that New Year's resolutions lead to depression and insanity, but since I'm already most of the way there.... I resolve to use '09 to try to dislodge my head from my ass.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Here's the girl, with my friend Eugene. He had her for 25 years, virtually all of his adult life. He's having a tough time losing her. She was beauty.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Space Dust

How are you with death? I'm not so good. Maybe because I'm an atheist. Maybe because I believe that this mortal coil is all we have and when we shake it, well, then we're just space dust again. I haven't had the best trip so far, yesterday morning we had to euthanize a horse. Yes, she was old but she wasn't that old, and she seemed quite healthy and full of life. Until she wasn't.

I found her when I went out to feed breakfast. It was just after 7, I was leading Solstice into the barn when I looked up and saw Laponia, she was laying down in the field. When she saw me she tried to get up. She got her forelegs under her and struggled, they buckled and she went down again. Laponia is Eungene's old Lusitano mare. She's been a wonderful horse, kind, sweet well mannered. The kind of horse you could put a tiny child on and they would be perfectly safe but then if a competent rider got on she would pick herself up and do all the Grand Prix movements. The kind of horse we all wish for, the once in a lifetime horse.

I ran to the house to let Eugene know and then went to her. Her eyelids and gums were scarlet and I knew she was fucked. She had rolled and rolled she had crashed thru part of the fence and I knew she had twisted her colon. She was exhausted and sweaty and bleeding from some cuts around her eye and her nose. I tried to get her up and she looked at me blankly. Eugene came out and when she heard his voice she made a monumental effort to get up, she struggled to her feet and staggered to him. We walked her down to the barn.

She was so shocky that we couldn't get a vein to come up to give her IV pain killers. We had to give them IM. Eugene wanted to believe that she'd be ok, but she was in really bad shape. We called the vet. He wanted to put her in her stall, I told him it was a bad idea. If they go down in a stall you have to disassemble either the barn or the horse to get them out and it's quite unpleasant. So he kept walking her outside, then she collapsed. We covered her with blankets and he held her head until the vet arrived. By that time, I think even he knew she would have to be euthanized. The vet came and it was very quiet and peaceful, the painkillers had helped her, all her people were around her, she was a gentle soul till the end. No thrashing no hysterics, she just closed her big soft eyes and let go.

It was upsetting, but death is part of life. We're all going to peg out at some point. But the thing about horses is that they are really big. And there are no horsey undertakers, unless you want to call the rendering plant and have them hauled off for dog food. Laponia is buried here on the farm under an enormous Live Oak tree. But that in itself was an ordeal.

First the backhoe came and dug a huge hole. Then comes the unpleasant part. I didn't want Eugene to watch. He told me, "I'm there for my friends to the very end, and Laponia was my great friend". He tied her hind legs to the back of the truck himself and dragged her up the hill to the hole. He helped the backhoe operator position her so they could push her in. And I stood there with him. I didn't want to, but I did. I'm there for my friends, even when it's awful, even when I'm crying and I want to throw up. Because I believe that this is all we have. We have this one chance to live life and experience the good, the bad, the ugly and the inexpressibly wonderful, and if we cop out because it's more comfortable then we miss the most important part. The part where we connect with each other on a base and visceral level, where we are so vibrantly alive or so painfully dead.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tiny Vampires

I have fleas. The mobile home is infested with the minuscule monsters. They have been lying in wait for a new host. Two days after we got here, I noticed Beeboo scratching, so I went to the tack/pet store and got him some Advantage. Then I noticed that I had some mosquito bites in some very weird places. It's not mosquitoes... I have fleas. They have abandoned Beeboo in favor of a non toxic human smorgasbord.

So last night Eugene and I made the trek to Gainesville, home of the closest PetSmart. He needed his gourmet Blue Buffalo Whitefish and Sweet potato dog food (I kid you not... it's like $40 a bag) and I needed 10 kinds of flea death. I have begun a campaign of poisonous vengeance against them. I can feel my IQ dropping with each successive spray treatment.

We also visited what passes for a gay bar in Gainesville. A sad little establishment, in a burned out strip mall, with tacky wood paneling, a couple of strings of Christmas lights and a 300 pound drag queen behind the bar. I'm thinking north Florida is not a great place to be gay. Although, I did get a couple of really good margaritas and an audience for my parade of dirty penguin jokes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Freaky Armadillos Need Love Too

Beeboo and I are staying in a double wide mobile home on the farm where I am working. I know, insert trailer trash jokes here. Anyway, there are a plethora of armadillos on the farm here. Apparently a number of them have burrowed under the mobile home, I can hear them under there, their little shells keep banging into the floor. The first couple of nights (they seem to be nocturnal) Beeboo was beside himself growling and barking at the floor.

According to Wikipedia the nine banded armadillo is a solitary creature that does not share its burrow with others. I can only infer from this that I am lucky enough to be here during armadillo mating season, because there is definitely more than one armadillo under there. Also according to Wiki, "The North American Nine-banded Armadillo tends to jump straight in the air when surprised. " Judging from the thumping going on down there tonight, there are some SURPRISES occurring in the freaky armadillo boudoir.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Everything Will Be Fine, Unless or Until It Isn't

Why don't I enjoy traveling? It's such an adventure. What's not to like? I set out for FL with Beeboo on Thurs at 3:30 a.m., filled with the manic optimism that only comes from being a cattle dog or getting 3 hours of sleep. I picked up Shelly my traveling companion at 4. Shelly is great, she manages a big boarding farm with 40 horses, she's always full of energy and laughter, and is dauntless even in the face of an arterial spray.

We went to hitch up my trailer, which was frozen to the ground, after much cursing on my part, and a smashed knuckle, we were hitched and ready to go. Dundy loaded like a perfect gentlemen, despite the fact that the last trip he was on was a grueling cross country haul from California. We were all underway by 5, hoping to be south of DC by rush hour and well ahead of the snow storm.

Traffic was heavy but moving fast as we cleared 495 and got onto 95 south and I was pretty psyched. Then I saw this big chunk of something in my lane, it was impossible to avoid in 4 lanes of rush hour traffic so I ran it over, it made a big thunk, Dundy jumped a little in the trailer, but then everything seemed fine. Until... I looked in the side view mirror to see copious sparks flying from the back of my trailer and Dundy started jumping around. Now when a 13oo pound horse starts pitching a fit in a trailer, especially a trailer that is one tire short of it's recommended number, things can go badly awry.

Fortunately, there was a truck stop a mile further and by totally destroying my wheel we were able to limp to safety. I was really pissed. Shelly said , "Well, at least it's not snowing, we can change a tire right?" So I opened up the back of the truck to discover... my tire iron is missing? Now, I used to have AAA, but John thought is was a waste of money because we never used it. Shelly, has AAA, we called, 2 1/2 hours later the guy showed up and it took him an hour to change the tire because the lug nuts were on too tight. I called John... now I have AAA again too. Shelly said, "it's just as well you didn't have the tire iron because we would have hurt ourselves trying to get those lug nuts off."

We left the Dale City truck stop at 10. And then it started to snow... really, really hard. And there was no salt on the road. By road, I mean interstate 95, a fairly large, important road. WTF, it's not like this storm was a surprise. The road got very bad, and people were sliding all over the place. I wasn't sliding, the rig is too heavy fully loaded, but we drove thru the entire state of VA at 30 mph. We were now decidedly behind schedule. Shelly said, "I love your truck, it is so nice, and isn't Dundy being a good boy!"

In NC the snow turned to sleet and the roads appeared to have been treated with the modern miracle of salt. Shelly drove for a while and things were looking up. Halfway thru SC I dumped diesel fuel all over myself and Shelly said, "Oh, don't worry that will wash out if you pretreat the stain."

The second half of SC was all road construction, with jersey barriers and no room to pass, of course that didn't stop the trucks from passing anyway and I was a raw nerve gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles and a grim expression. Shelly said," You're a great driver." In Georgia the construction stopped but it started to rain really hard. Shelly said, " I'm so glad this isn't snow."

We made it to the AG station in FL, where they check your paperwork at 9, knowing full well we had at least 2 more hours to go. Dundy was beginning to be done with the trip and threatening to get pissy. Eugene called to ask what the hell was taking so long. He asked if we could drive any faster, I told him to go to hell. Shelly said, "We're almost there."

On 10 west in the dark in the rain, we saw 2 trucks in some sort of bizarre death race in front of us, in heavy traffic, that ended with one of them running off the road, literally RIGHT in front of us. Shelly said," Jesus, this trip fucking sucks!"

After breaking Shelly's spirit and with Beeboo whining piteously and Dundy kicking the walls of the trailer to smithereens, we pulled into Eugene's just before midnight. The trip that should have taken 13 hours, took over 18, and we were all done with it.

Everything is fine now and will continue to be fine... unless or until...