Archive for June 2014

Hanging Over the Fence

We passed this way twice a day – up and down the hills – early in the morning as we set about our day, me on my way to the office and you on your way to daycare, and again late in the afternoon on our way home.  I found peace in this small stretch of road still marked as rural in the midst of two subdivisions – a modest ranch home and barn flanked by two pastures on either side. Sometimes the horses corralled in the south pasture, and sometimes they romped on the north side.  It was the highlight of our going out and our coming home – to see the horses.

From the backseat, safely strapped in, you would announce: “Mommy, I wanna pet the ponies.”  And if they weren’t in the pastures – “No ponies today …”

They grazed deep in the pasture – at least a football field length away.  And I was always in a hurry rushing to work or rushing home – no time to pet the ponies.  You never cried or fussed but simply reminded me at least once a day: “Mommy, I wanna pet the ponies.”

One mild autumn day just before dusk, when we reached the bottom of the first hill in the south pasture, I saw one horse with his head hanging over the fence. Before you had a chance to utter those familiar words, I offered: “Wanna pet the pony?”

“Yay!”

I pulled onto the crossroad because there was no off-street parking, unbuckled and lifted you out of your car seat, and carried you across the street.  I managed to hop the ditch in my royal blue trumpet-flared wool skirt and matching pumps with you on my hip.  The horse seemed to be in waiting just for us with his head still hanging over the barbed-wire fence.  I glanced toward the house across the pasture and saw a gentleman in overalls walk out onto the front porch.

“Go ahead,” I encouraged.  “Pet the pony.”

You sported that familiar crooked smile, “Mommy do it.”

I reached up and stroked the long bridge down to his nose.  Then you safely followed my lead and grinned the widest I had ever seen.  I wished we had an apple to reward the horse for his hospitality, but all we had to offer were our hands of love and appreciation.  I waved to the gentleman observing from the porch as we hopped the ditch back to the car.

This is one of those moments etched in my memory, a stop-and-smell-the-roses moment in the middle of a jam-packed life.  More than 25 years later I stopped and smelled the roses again.

Last weekend, my sisters and I gathered at Mother’s to organize and sort, preparing for a sale. So many things will be gone soon.  Evolution and age is a part of life.  The days in this home are coming to a close.  My nephew brought his young family for a visit.  After dinner, we looked out the back door and saw two horses and a pony in the distant field strolling to the other side of the pasture.  One of my great nephews cried out, “Ponies, ponies!”  Several exited the patio door with him and sat on the porch.

When I walked out a few minutes later, I noticed the setting sun … deja vu

I picked up my great nephew, “Wanna pet the ponies?”

I walked over to the fence with him on my hip and showed him how to call for the horses.  I had no idea if it would work but made a clicking sound with my tongue and cheek followed by a luring coax, “Come on baby, here baby, come here …” chiching chiching

In a few seconds, the tall chestnut one turned our direction.  His mane slung back and forth as his head bobbed up and down.  The little boy bubbled over, “He’s coming, he’s coming!!”

The other horses followed his lead.  He hung his head over the barbed-wire fence.  I stroked the long bridge from his eyes down to his nose as he nibbled at my hand and the lad squirmed in my arms. Someone threw out carrots from the patio door, and I wondered if this is exactly what the beautiful creatures had in mind.  The horses extended their stay, and we had such a delightful after-dinner treat.

Yes, some things change, and some things don’t.  Lines around the eyes are a reflection of life. But on the inside, things are still the same.

And life continues on …

Peering into the Soul

Peering into the Soul

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And That’s My Daddy!

You’ve heard about my dad before – in Reflections, Chapter 7, and in a few other blogs that I have written for Father’s Day.  He was a man of his word, a man of few words, loved sports, and died too young in my opinion (67).  Today, as I was looking for pictures to post on Facebook in honor of him and Father’s Day, I scanned this one in and saw so many things that made me reflect and smile 🙂 .

DadDebCouchCropped

So let me tell you a little story.

My mother, like most mothers, took many pictures and also kept pictures of the extended family from years past.  I loved looking through the picture boxes as a little girl.  To help remember years, places, and even people in the pictures (remember, we have a very large clan), she was careful to write names and dates or ages on the backs of each one.  Once I learned to write, I followed her example.  So on the back of this picture, in my own printing, inscribed is “Daddy 38, Debra 5.” That makes me smile. 🙂

I’m not sure if I hadn’t changed my clothes from church or if it was just any ordinary day for a princess. 🙂

Daddy was reading the paper and chugging coffee, and Mother said, “Sit up there next to him.” He had one leg tucked underneath.  (I sat that way for many years at the office until my knees got old, and I still chug coffee.)  Oh wait, princesses don’t chug.  They sip.  🙂

Look at the princess’s pearls!  But what’s up with that short pixie cut?  Well, the story on that is, according to Mother, my hair became dry, dull, and brittle from having two surgeries close together (anesthesia or something).  So she cut my hair in hopes that it would grow back luscious and healthy.  The princess had to do a little extra to make up for that short hair … hence the pearls and dress. 🙂

And, yes, let’s not forget that dress.  Look at the ruffles scrunched up behind my back.  I remember that dress just like I received it yesterday.  It was a special gift from my very special Aunt Maxine, Daddy’s sister.  She brought it to me because I had been so sick with those two hospital stays.  It was in a HUGE box, gift wrapped with a HUGE bow.  I carefully opened it and felt the rows of crunchy ruffles.  The base color of the dress was somewhat shiny, oyster-like white, almost iridescent, accented with red felt polka dots and a red ribbon trim.  To this day, it remains the best present I have ever received. When I outgrew it, I reluctantly hand-me-downed it to my sister, Kathy. 🙂

I see the throw cover on the couch and the inexpensive curtains and remember how hard my dad worked, how well he and Mother saved for his dream – to start his own business some day. And I remember life was good. 🙂

Someone once said, “He was the best man I ever knew.” 🙂

Thank you, Daddy, for letting us interrupt your Sunday afternoon 53 years ago.  It still brings a smile to my face today. 🙂

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Post Time!

The first thing I would like for you to do before reading this blog is to read a blog I wrote this time two years ago:

Please click here to read “I’ll Have Another”

This year, I am equally excited.  In fact, on May 17 when California Chrome won the Preakness, I nurtured this wild idea of a dream to go to the Belmont Stakes.  Could it be done?  I live in the middle of the country, and Belmont Park is in New York – just outside of New York City – so it would not be a cheap trip.  But I had a little vacation money set aside and thought: “Why not just explore this possibility?”  I wanted to witness in person what could be a history-making event.  And what another incredible story we have this year of the unexpected, but now favorite, California Chrome.  What an exciting day for the owners, jockey, and trainers.

Of course, I realized several things could happen that might cause one to question doing something like this:  an unfortunate injury could force Chrome to withdraw like I’ll Have Another two years ago, it could rain cats and dogs day of the event making for a miserable outdoor mess, and Chrome could lose.  So I weighed all of that and decided that if any of those things happened, it would still be an awesome experience.  And since I would be in New York, why not just make it a little weekend trip to catch some sights, like the new 911 Memorial Museum, and listen to some good jazz/blues at BB King’s, especially since I had some vacation money set aside.  Could I really make this happen?  It would not be my first adventure.  I’ve done things like this before after a little nudge or two …

Then I came across this incredible story: One Shot

Well, that was the nudge I needed; so I shifted into high gear.  Airfare was high but within budget.  Hotels in Manhattan were expensive; but I did find a rate I could live with if I pre-paid. I knew tickets of all price ranges were still available.  It took me a few days to understand the seating, which tickets guaranteed you a seat at race time, and which ones would be first come first serve.  I finally found someone at a ticket outlet who could answer my specific questions. By this time, I was near the two-week point, and I knew that I needed to book the airfare because it would skyrocket once within that two-week time frame.  Also, the agent informed me the tickets would be shipped overnight express arriving the day before the event.  I definitely needed to know where I would stay when I purchased the tickets and have them shipped to the hotel.  Oh, and about the pricing, general admission tickets were under $40, but I would have to fight for a spot at race time or arrive very early, stake out my spot, and stay put.  I wanted to walk around and experience the park and all of the excitement.  I suppose I would wager a very small amount just for the experience.  Sometimes I forget why most people attend races.  To me, it’s about the horses.

The cheapest reserved seat was $225.

Okay.  This is okay.  Remember, I do have the money set aside.  But for some reason, I couldn’t pull the trigger; and I didn’t know why.  In a couple of days, I felt the crunch  … airfare was breathing down my neck … I just couldn’t do it.  Ticket prices soared and hotel deals were gone. And then …

In a few days, I was in the middle of a crisis; and my attention was focused elsewhere.  I now know that’s why I didn’t receive the final nudge.

Just like I did in 1973, 1977, and 1978, I’ll be watching from my living room – they say the best seat in the house.  But I really do wish I was there.  I know there will be other opportunities.

So tune in a little early; it’s a beautiful day:  Gate No. 2, purple and green with a jackass on the back. (Did I really say that?)  California Chrome!

Post Time: 6:52 ET/5:52 CT/4:52 MT/3:52 PT (Don’t miss it!)

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