No Real Plot.

Month: November, 2012

Start Your Engines

Driving home from the movies last night, I saw my first Christmas house-lights of the season.  I will confess, I had mixed feelings.  Our Thanksgiving pots and pans have barely dried beside the sink.  The folding tables and chairs are still leaning against the wall in the front hall, and the kitchen pantry is blocked by a large plastic bin of party plates and extra napkins, all waiting for me to haul them back down to the basement.  Do we really need another holiday right away?

Christmas is the celebration Olympics.

5170VHHT91L._SS400_The gift guides already cramming my inbox remind me that presents are a competitive sport.  Evidently, so are wrapping, baking, decorating, table setting, and party dressing.

I’m ambivalent about the whole thing.

The fact is, holiday celebrations are worth doing not for the celebration itself, which the honest hostess will admit can be frantic, messy, exhausting, and undermining (whoever actually puts the perfect meal on the table that she imagined in her head?).  No, holidays are valuable because they create jobs to anchor my boys in the kitchen, with me.

IMG_4241Like these Thanksgiving place cards.

But I have to admit they looked even better on the table, before a loud and talkative crowd, with the names of admired teenage cousins pencilled in.

IMG_4252Yes, pencilled in.  There’s always next year.

Curry Comb, Hard Brush, Soft Brush, Pick.

I’ve started riding again.  With a few exceptions (like a snowy week in Wyoming one June), I have not been on a horse since just before we learned we were expecting our eldest, exactly fourteen years ago.  Much has worn out since then.

In a chaotic life, an orderly barn is a treat. There’s a right way to groom a horse (curry comb first, hoof pick last), and a right way to blanket and saddle him. The bridle’s throatlatch sits a flat hand from his cheek, but the noseband about two fingers from his jaw. You tie him with a line clipped to his halter’s cheek ring, but lead him with a line clipped under his chin.


The straps on the saddle pad attach one way, but the straps on the blanket attach in another.  Don’t jerk the girth tight when you first buckle it onto the billets, but be sure it is truly tight before you try to mount. There is a clearly right way to take every step, and with practice, despite fumbling, you can learn it.  A patient teacher helps.


Meet Ghost, my morning ride.  Ghost liked the circular curry-combing best, and, like any gentleman, he offered his hoof for picking with only the slightest nudging request from me.  In the ring, however, he was more withholding. Turns out he prefers to cut corners at the trot.  And when asked to turn on the forehand (to pivot his back end in a circle while holding his front end steady), he objected outright.  I hardly blamed him:  maybe he smelled my own secret desire to bolt out across the field beyond the ring, to skip the careful figure-eights and sitting trots for a real thundering charge past his grazing colleagues.

Driving home, I wondered if perhaps good lives might end just like this, with a long walk down a fragrant, nickering passageway . . .


under a benevolent eye.

Lucky Thirteen.

We’ve a teenager in our tribe.

He’s half with us and half gone.  Talk about yearning to breathe free.

IMG_2852This stroller logged many miles around our neighborhood, once.  I gave him the job of scrubbing it clean to give away.  It made us both want to cry, for different reasons.  I wish losing a bright Saturday to family chores was the main loss I face, like him.


We’re lucky we have expert help for the wild ride ahead.


 November is the sleepiest month.

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