“Good morning. We’re baby goats. Come snuggle us.”
“I wish I could, guys, but I have to go to work.”
“What is work?”
“It’s where I go sit for 9-10 hours a day and move around pieces of paper, and -”
“And eat them?”
“What? No? I don’t eat them, I just push them around my desk, or from department to department, and make sure people scribble the right words on them.”
“That sounds boring.”
“It’s actually not too bad. Although, sometimes people who are mad about government or something that happened to them try to take out their grumpiness on me.That’s not really fun.”
“Is it because you chewed on the wiring on their BBQs?”
“No, no, I don’t do that. That’s just you guys. I’ve never acquired a taste for BBQ wiring.”
“Oh, it’s the best! I mean, nothing really beats whole cows milk mixed with buttermilk and evaporated milk, heated up and served in an old soda bottle….
Mmmmmmm…. It makes our tails wag just thinking about it! But seriously, BBQ wiring is a close second. Maybe you should offer some BBQ wires to the grumpy people to appease them.”
“I don’t think that will help.”
“Have you tried?”
“…. No. No, I have not.”
“Well, then how would you know? Besides, you should definitely stay home from this “work” and hang with us instead.”
“I can’t. I really can’t.”
“We could snuggle, and then later we’ll go outside and run around aimlessly, darting about and then randomly stopping, over and over. The goal is to dash around as erratically as possible. It’s best if you pretend the floor is lava and that it’s burning your hooves, so you need to sproing in the air as high as possible. You get extra points if you twist around at the apex of the sproing.”
“I don’t think I’d look as cute as you, if I sproinged around the yard. Moms in their late 30s definitely don’t sproing as well as baby goats.”
“Sproinging is the best. You’ll love it. When we get bored with sproinging and running around we can climb up things and jump off of them. That’s always good for an hour or two of fun. When you get hungry, since you don’t like BBQ wires, you could enjoy some of the weird moss that grows on the muddy hillside by the house. That will make you happy.”
“Eww. No thanks. I’ve been meaning to ask you – why don’t you eat the goat food and Timothy hay I left out for you?”
“That stuff is boring. Moss is much better, although we’re seriously beginning to question your taste. You really don’t like eating old moss OR BBQ wires?”
“That dangly sleeve on the sweatshirt your kids keep forgetting to put away?”
“One of our neck wattles? Chewing is no good, but you could suck on it for awhile? We find it very soothing, almost as soothing as laying on your lap and getting scritched.”
“I’m NOT sucking on your neck wattles. That sounds….. uncomfortably gross, like something that should only happen between two consenting adults.”
“Oh, no, it’s very soothing. Try it! Patches has the best wattles, but Gazelle’s can do in a pinch.”
“No. That’s gross. And frankly, I wish you guys would quit doing it. It weirds me out.”
“It’s not gross, it’s wonderful!”
“We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Look, I really need to get to work. You guys have a great day doing all your…. your goat things. Sorry I can’t stay with you.”
“We don’t think you’re making good decisions. Work is silly. Hanging out with us is obviously the better choice.”
If you have no idea what the above title means, start here.
Cotton Last Modified 2/24/11
I hate group trail rides.
To be honest, I really feel like It’s almost not worth getting up on the horse at all, if it means I have to ride in a big group.
For someone who is as obsessed with horses as I am, that’s saying something.
It seems like every time I’ve gone on a large group trail ride, there has been some kind of minor disaster. Someone gets bucked off. A horse bolts. A deer pops out of the brush and causes a chain-reaction spooking, ending in someone getting thrown.
Even when everything goes perfectly the horses tend feed off each other’s excitement and work themselves up into a lathered frenzy. It takes forever for them to settle down… and then once you start heading back towards the barn they all get worked up again.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy spending two or three hours on top of a jigging, sweating, snorting mess of a horse.
I’m not against trail riding in general, just mass group rides. I don’t mind riding out into the country with a friend or two. The horses are usually better behaved for it, and it’s always nice to have some conversation if it’s going to be a long ride.
Nevertheless, when Bunnygal offered me a chance to go on a mountain trail ride, even though I knew it was going to be a large group, I threw myself into the passenger seat of her truck before she could rethink her offer.
The road up to the starting point was an impressively steep mountain switchback, and I had to admire Bunnygal’s ability with her trailer as she nonchalantly whizzed around the corners, singing along with the radio.
I kept myself occupied by studying the minute details on the truck dashboard. Maybe if I examined it really closely, I could keep myself from slamming my foot down on my imaginary brakes and panicking at how close the trailer wheels were coming to the drop-off that made up the side of the road.
For the record, Bunnygal is a very safe driver. The problem is that I grew up in Orange County and I live at sea level. Our idea of a steep cliff is the inch-high ledge between the boardwalk and the sand. I mean, you have to be careful . You could stub your toe, or something.
After about fifteen minutes of studying the dashboard in all its glory, I noticed we were pulling off onto a tiny dirt Forestry road.
“Ummm… Bunnygal? How are you going to turn the trailer around?”
“There’s a big turn around up ahead at the meadow…” She trailed off as we rounded a corner and came upon a large, locked gate.”
CLOSED DUE TO SNOW
It was almost humorous, with the 65 degree May weather and not a snowdrift in sight. The two of us sat there staring at it silently, the tendrils of smoke from Bunnygal’s cigarette curling around us.
“Do we head back?” I glanced in the rearview mirror at the microscopic dirt trail, incredibly thankful that it wasn’t me behind the wheel.
“No. They probably just forgot to take it down.”
And with that, Bunnygal shifted her truck into gear and drove around the gate, trailer tilting drunkenly at its sudden off-road venture.
About 100 yards down the narrow road, we began to see small patches of snow.
Several hundred yards past that, we saw a couple of decent-sized snowdrifts.
By the time we reached the trailhead, even Bunnygal was beginning to question whether we should have turned back.
When we finally pulled into the large, circular clearing, I was amazed to see the area dotted with other truck/trailer rigs.
Apparently we weren’t the only ones who took the closed gate as a suggestion.
Bunnygal and I unloaded the horses and saddled up with the dozen or so other riders. I stared longingly after Twistin, sighing as someone else led her away to borrow her for the day. Twistin may have been an pissy-faced, sour, kick-other-horses-for-no-reason alphabitch out in the pasture, but under saddle she was a dream to ride – soft, responsive, athletic, and level-headed.
I turned back to my horse for the day: Cotton.
Short and powerfully wide, Cotton cocked her hip in a deceptively lazy manner, her neck lowered sleepily.
I was not deceived.
I’d only ridden her once before. I had the time of my life, but I knew she wasn’t an easy ride. Now I was supposed to hop up on her and head off into the mountain wilderness on a group trail ride?
I threw the saddle up on her back and slipped on her bridle, trying to seem nonchalant. Ho-hum. Ho-hum. Don’t mind me— I’m just about to die, that’s all.
The second I swung up onto her back I felt her come alive. Body tense – nearly vibrating. Eager. Alert. Unbelievably, nearly freakishly responsive.
I lowered my reins , resting my hand on her neck, and did my best to think lazy thoughts.
“Ready?” Bunnygal was riding Willie, a silvery red roan whose solid frame and kind eye made it easy to forget just how young he actually was. He probably had no more than a dozen real rides on him at that point. If it were me and I were riding him, I would just be easing into the idea of breaking into a trot in a nice, safe arena…. An arena filled with pillows and fluffy cotton.
But this was Bunnygal – why bother just riding in circles around an arena when she could just do her training out in the rugged, remote wilderness?
To be honest, I’m still not sure whether she’s my hero or whether she should be institutionalized.
The trail ride started out like every other group trail ride. The horses were skittery and jiggy. I tried to bring Cotton down to a slow, stately, middle-of-the-group walk.
Cotton was not very thrilled with my idea, and fought me.
I tried to correct her, and I felt her tense up underneath me. Left? Right? Spin? Gallop and slidestop?
I loved riding Bunnygal’s cutting horses, but sometimes I kind of missed the old point-and-go half-dead horses from my old Wrangler job.
The more I tried to communicate my wishes to Cotton, the more I could feel her starting to work herself up into a lathery mess. It’s not that she was disobedient – it’s that she was trying so hard to figure everything out that the two of us fed into each other’s anxiety.
So I did what an old cowboy told me to do – I dropped my reins on her neck, sat deep and loose in my saddle, and let her figure it out on her own.
I still remember the day I learned that trick – I was out on a trail ride with an old cowboy friend of mine, trying to figure out the buttons on my five-year old off-the-track thoroughbred. The more I tried to convince him to calm down, the more he spun out of control. I could feel the nervousness eating a hole in my stomach as he danced lightly, snorting and sweaty, pencil-thin neck slammed high in the air. Nothing I was trying was bringing his head down. In fact, it seemed like it was doing exactly the opposite. I was just contemplating getting off and leading when:
“Drop yer reins.”
“WHAT?!” I twisted in my saddle to gawk at Thom, causing Jubilee to skitter sideways, lunging in place in a cross between a jig and a stationary canter.
“Drop them. Didn’t you ask me out there to help you? Well, do it. Drop your reins.”
“But he’ll bolt if I do!”
“No he won’t.
“He won’t.” He said it so matter-of-factly… but……
“But what if he does? I can’t sit it. If I—“
“DROP YOUR REINS, GIRL,” Thom said in disgust, rolling his eyes at me. Obediently, I let some slack into my reins – and Jubilee immediately revved up even worse with his sideways jigging, muscles coiling up. I squeaked, and reached forward to haul him back when,,,
“GET YOUR HANDS OFF THE REINS. I SWEAR…. JUST HOLD ONTO THE HORN.”
I mumbled something under my breath, and did just that.
“Now sit back in your saddle. You ain’t no jockey. Where do you think you’re headed, all hunched over like that?”
Thom’s drawl was straight out of the movies. On anyone else it might have sounded fake – almost forced. But Thom was over 80 years old. He had come by his drawl and his blunt sarcasm honestly.
Leaning back, I gripped the saddle horn nervously.
“Your horse has sense – he ain’t going to run off and leave my horse. If he did, he’d be out of the herd. When he gets like that and you’re in a group, just drop the reins and sit for a bit. It’s you that’s making him nervous. You’re pulling on his face, and making him tense. See?”
True to Thom’s word, Jubilee was already beginning to settle down. His snorts were coming less often, and instead of jigging sideways, we were at least jigging forward in a straight line.
Within a few hundred yards, we weren’t jigging at all.
By the time we crested the hill, Jubilee was imitating Thom’s gelding Wildfire – level neck, steady, deep steps and a quiet, alert eye.
I never forgot the lesson. How could it? It scared the crap out of me to learn it. There’s nothing like fear to cement something in your brain.
So, when Cotton began to rev herself up, I followed Thom’s advice and just laid the reins down on her neck.
Within a few steps, I felt her level out beneath me. She had a quick, springy walk that was surprisingly quick. Once we only had a horse or two in front of us, she relaxed, looking around curiously.
We began to enjoy ourselves. The patches of snow were dotting the trail everywhere, but it was a beautiful morning, probably close to 70 degrees. It was surreal. Silent. Incredible.
We rounded the corner and came upon a shallow uphill slope, the path completely covered in snow until it rounded the bend.
“Hey guys, what do you think… should we?”
“Well, I guess…”
Finally, someone shrugged. “Well, maybe there’s too much snow, but I guess there’s only one way to find out.
Dodging The Bullet
Last Modified 3/23/11
I’ve never been good at “meeting the parents”.
There’s something about my inherent inability to make polite small talk combined with stress that brings out the worst in me.
I ramble breathlessly on about subjects and stories that bore even me.
When I try to project an innocent “girl-next-door” vibe, I come across as someone who is hopelessly “blonde”– to the point where I’m sure they’re wondering if I should be walking around outside without a helmet on.
When I try to come across as poised… I sound shallow and somewhat stuck-up.
I know what you all are thinking. You’re thinking, “Just be yourself!”
The problem with just “being myself!” is… well… I’m *ME*. Becky. I can’t seem to keep from embarrassing myself under normal circumstances, much less highly stressed-ones.
Being me is a dangerous thing,
The first idiot thing out of my mouth happened over breakfast.
Faced with a daunting, somewhat judgmental silence I decided that the best thing I could do was tell
Exercising with the DM Last Modified 5/4/11
….That’s it. That’s all there is, just a title. Why did I hoard that draft for almost 8 straight years? Why did none of you stage an intervention?
Mexican Families and Their Names Last Modified 5/19/11
Edit: I changed the names in this one, to respect my family’s privacy. Also, I still haven’t introduced The Bean to my family.in Mexico, barring the ones who have come and visited me. I think I’m going to go there anyways, because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting for the war to stop and never visit half of my family, every again.
One of these days, when Mexico stops stacking up the bodies like a depressing, small-scale version of Rwanda, I’m going to take the Bean to meet my family.
This sounds like it will be fun, and it will be. For me.
For the Bean?
It will probably be confusing. Unbelievably confusing.
“Bean! Come meet my uncle Jose Luis.”
“Hi, Jose Luis, nice to meet you.”
“Meet his son… Jose Luis.”
“Jose Luis, Jose Luis’ son, nice to meet you.”
“And meet Jose Luis’ son, also Jose Luis, known as Jose Luisito.”
“Hi, Jose Luisito, son of Jose Luis, son of Jose Luis.”
The problem with keeping the members of my family straight is that we all have the same names.
In fact, while I respect the anonymity of my kids (hey, I blog, but they may want to be anonymous one day), I feel perfectly safe
For the sake of the white folks (and to show the ridiculousness a little better) I am going to substitute the white people names to make it easier to follow.
My grandparents were Lisa and Johnny.
They gave birth to five kids.
Their firstborn daughter’s name?
Their firstborn son’s name?
When Lisa got married, she married a man named Michael.
Lisa and Michael had two kids.
Their names? Yup, you guessed it: Lisa and Michael.
When Lisa #3 got married, she married a man named Aaron.
They have two children, also a boy and a girl.
I bet you five bucks you can’t guess their names. Yup. Lisa and Michael.
You’d think that it would get confusing, what with four generations worth of Michaels, and Lisas, and Johnnies, and even Beckies. Yeah, that’s right – there’s a whole herd of us down there.
But it’s not confusing, provided you just keep everyone’s nicknames straight. See, that’s the problem with introducing people down there. “Hi, this is Ignacio, but he’s actually just called Chencho, but honestly, we have something like three Chenchos, so it’s just best if you call him Nacho, except that when he was young he was chubby so we called him Gordo, but we also called his dad Gordo, so he was Gordito, so now he’s just known as Ito. It’s probably best if you just remember him as either Nacho or Ito, so you don’t get confused.
And this is his wife….
No Title Last Modified 6/29/11
“Put the money in your sock!” my mother hissed.
I wiggled my shoe off, wadding the stack of 20s down into my sock. Two hundred bucks was a lot of money, and it made my foot feel weird.
Dirty Minds Last Modified 8/18/11
Dear everyone who keeps finding my blog by googling the search term “Three Dollar Hooker”.
Wow. I bet you all were a little disappointed, huh?
There you were, innocently searching the internet to satisfy your need for some discount lovin’, and instead you found this: a post from a fat, married woman.
Took Carrots out for a walk with the kids (human kids, not goat kids) yesterday. She tucked her butt when I tossed the saddle pad up on her… And that was it. She was perfect, and didn’t spook once after that, even after months of no riding. She still needs wet saddle blankets with a solo rider (no bad habits, just uncertainty), but she is the best leadline pony I’ve ever worked with, period. I looked outside yesterday and the boys had tied her to a tree and were climbing in the branches above her, while baby goats twined between her ankles, and she didn’t even flick an ear.
Every time I log in to write a new blog post (all both times a month?), I’m greeted by a sea of draft posts.
Some of them are ones that I am still working on, or that I’m waiting to be in the right headspace to finish.
Some of them I stopped because I realized it was coming out all wrong – judgy, or mean, or the tone of it was annoying me, and crossing the line from funny into obnoxious.
Most of them?
Most of them I started writing, and then life called me away and I have absolutely no idea where I was going with the story. You’d think that I would remember, since it happened to me in real life, but most of my blog posts I sit down and type out an hour after they happened, proof read it once, and then hit post. If I have to come back to it days later, I don’t really remember most of the details.
Since I have a Dothraki Horde of children (Thanks, Tony, for the suggestion), life tears me away from the computer more often than I would want, and thus I have a sea of barely-begun blog posts.
In a normal, sane world, I would erase them all and not be bothered by their existence every time I log in….
But…. But I birthed those words. 🙁 I plucked them from my brain and forced them through the sieve of “does this sound good” and then released them through my fingertips. I’m attached to those words. I can’t just destroy them – that would be bad, and wrong.
On the other hand, I don’t want to sit there and have those words stare at me accusingly, so I’ve decided to do a couple of blog-cleaning-draft-post-dumps.
After 10+ years of writing this blog, I figure you guys can put up with a little housecleaning. I’m not going to do any editing of these excerpts, because I’ll get all dragged down into details and never finish.
Also, it’s really important for me to say this: Some of these are over 10 years old, and I was writing when I was single, and in college. They… they’re definitely Baby Becky writings, and that’s part of why I can’t bear to get rid of them… but they remind me of the crappy poetry I used to write. I loved it when I wrote it, but they embarrass me nowadays.
Still, they’re part of my history, and I can’t bear to just have them all disappear, so here goes nothing:
Eragon, Last Modified: 12/17/06
I have been waiting for the theatrical debut of Eragon for months. I’ve been a closet sci-fifan for years. When I was younger, I read every book in the library that had a dragon on the cover. In fact, I’ll even let you in a little secret: I used to spend HOURS (and I do mean HOURS) every single day, playing an online RPG game that involved dragons. Ahhh, Anne McCaffrey, your world of Pern was so much more interesting to live in than my mundane world of chores and homework. I finally had to stop when I realized that I didn’t have ANY friends outside of this little online world that I’d created. It’s sad, but true. On the other hand… I was a junior weyrwoman, with a really cool gold dragon, and we laid lots of eggs (well, she did most of the hard work), and we were responsible for helping to select the candidates, and, and, and….
You see? That’s why I had to stop. Because nobody–I repeat, NOBODY–cares about what you accomplish in an online RPG. You can’t exactly go to school the next day and start bragging.
“So, Billy-Bob, guess what I did this weekend? I learned how to use a flamethrower!”
“Really, Becky? That’s so friggin’ awesome! Tell me about it!”
“Well, since my gold dragon can’t eat any firestone, or else she won’t be able to lay viable eggs…” Here’s where I would have leaned across the table on my elbow, and said in a know-it-all-tone– “Of course, everyone knows that firestone makes dragons infertile. Anyways, so, I strapped this flamethrower over my shoulder—you really should have seen the outfit I was wearing!!— and then my weyrling leader started..”
“Wait a second, Becky. Dragons? You’re talking about that stupid online game you play, aren’t you? You’re such a geek.”
At this point the imaginary Billy-Bob would have walked over and eaten lunch with a much cooler group of people, and left me to my geeky weirdness.
And that is the reason I stopped playing online RPG games.
And that is what brings us to the movie, Eragon. So, after being a closet dragon-lover for all these years, imagine my surprise when I realized that they were coming out with a bona-fide dragon movie. Suh-WEET! I stalked the movie website for months, scouring the websites for cool picture of what Saphira the dragon was going to look like. The day I found out that it was opening on December 15th was the day that I made my plans to go see it. I bought my movie ticket ahead of time, just to make certain that I wouldn’t miss opening night due to it being sold out. Man, I was *ready*. I even checked the two books out of the library and spent a couple of days re-reading them, so I would be all brushed-up on my Eragon vocabulary.
Friday night came, and off to the theater I dragged my semi-willing boyfriend and my unsuspecting stepdad. I got there early; almost thirty minutes early, which is a near-record for me, as I’m always late. By the time the movie started, I was in such a state of excitement, I could barely sit still in my seat. Finally! A dragon movie that was worth something!
Friends, let me let you guys in on a little secret. Eragon is one of the WORST movies I’ve EVER seen. It’s one of those movies that you just KNOW is going to suck, within the first five minutes.
Lunar Eclipse, Last Modified: 08/28/07
So, there was a full moon lunar eclipse last night. As disconnected from reality as I am, the event caught me by surprise. Since the burning of my car a couple of weeks ago (did I mention my car burned to death?) I’ve found myself in the not-so-unique position of reliving my high-school days. Namely, I spend the vast majority of my days following people around, whining “C’n I have a ride? Please?” in endless variations. I figure if I spice it up and never ask the same way twice, then people won’t get annoyed as quickly. I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of my twenties in this position. It’s really rather degrading, and I’m not really sure how I keep managing to find myself here.
So, there I was, accepting a ride from a much younger coworker who actually managed to maintain a functioning car (oh, the humiliation!) when both she and I suddenly noticed the lunar eclipse. On average, by the time I usually manage to settle my food tabs and get out of work, it’s usually about 3 in the morning. This time, through one bit of procrastination or another, it was almost four in the morning. The eclipse was in full-swing by that point, and almost complete. My coworker and I both decided that it would be an absolute shame to not share it with each other, so we headed over to one of her friend’s house to watch it.
After an appropriate amount of time oohing and aaahing over the spectacle, we went inside to chat for a bit. The friend, who I shall now dub “Star” was a handsome somewhat androgynous skater dude in his mid twenties. I’m sure he was extremely handsome when he was younger, but the fact that he was covered in strange tattoos really made it hard for me to take him seriously. I mean, if he’d been covered in big, scary tattoos not only would I have taken him seriously, I probably would have been a little afraid of him. His problem was that he had chosen some of the most strangely feminine, almost ubiquitously average tattoos I’ve ever seen… and then he’d chosen to paste them all over really strange parts of his body. No, no, I didn’t see anything inappropriate…. just what kind of a hussy do you think I am? It’s just….
Well, for instance, he had the “Mom” tattoo. You know the one I’m talking about! It’s the word “Mom” written on a flaming heart, and EVERYONE knows that it belongs on the shoulder of an overweight, mid-forties biker guy. It does NOT belong on the inside wrist of a skinny skater dude. I’m not against tattoos (even though I probably should be)… but c’mon! Get something with a little imagination… And if you’re not going to have any imagination, at least put the darn thing where it belongs!
He also had a variety of other strange tattoos. There was a buddhist gate thingie… and a tribal design (of course!) and two knives, and a spider web, and a couple of rather large orchids (which looked completely out-of-place). The best one, of course, was the large, pastel star that took up almost his entire chest. He was wearing a deeply-plunging v-necked shirt which showed most of the star, as well as a carefully knit beanie.
Anyhow, moving past Mr. Metrosexual and his pomegranate-citrus Bath and Body works hand soap…. Let me get to how much he got on my nerves.
I have a bit of a raw spot when it comes to wanna-be Buddhists. for reasons I won’t go into, they tend to get on my nerves. Following Buddhism with a
Baby Theorems, Last Modified 11/12/08
I have discovered an interesting new subset of mathematics, and it all has to do with my recent arrival to motherhood.
Specifically, it has to do with babies. Even more specifically, it has to do with my baby, the DragonMonkey.
I don’t know why nobody bothered to explain these weird truths to me before, but since I am the kindhearted person that I am, I will share them with you guys:
Mathematical Truth #1:
A baby’s output is in no way proportional to the input. How so? As far as I can tell, if the DragonMonkey is eating as he should be, he is putting away about 3 ounces of breastmilk every two hours or so.
3 ounces is not a lot. I mean, as an ex-bartender, I can tell you that it’s not much at all. So HOW IN THE WORLD IS THIS CHILD MANAGING TO COME UP WITH somewhere around 312 SOPPING, DISGUSTINGLY DIRTY DIAPERS A DAY? And even if he is managing to convert those measly three ounces
Night Feeding, Last Modified 12/04/08
It all starts with a quiet, frustrated grunting…
Usually I can tell that the DragonMonkey’s waking up even before he can. I keep my cell phone right beside me so that I can tell what time it is when he starts his angry little snorts. If it’s been anywhere close to two hours then I try to pick him up and feed him before he gains full consciousness. If it’s only been thirty or forty minutes then I lay really, really, really still so that my movements don’t wake him up.
No matter how still I am, it’s usually futile. Once he starts the angry, snorty breathing, the Ray Charles side-to-side head whipping is on its way; once he starts his Ray Charles impersonation, the crying is only minutes away.
Dear Immune System: I Hate You, Last Modified 5/5/10
How stupid can you really get? Look, I know you do a pretty good job warding off colds, and creating T-cells and eating stuff with neutrophils and what not… but it’s become obvious to me that you’re not exactly the brightest crayon in the box.
Look, I’m sorry if my honesty hurts, but it’s the truth.
IT’S A KNEE. THOSE ARE KNEEEEEEEES. They’ve always been there. They probably always will be there, although that kind of depends on you.
Haven’t you noticed them before? They’re the weird little knobby hinges that make my legs bend.
I mean, it doesn’t really look like an accident that my knees are bending, right? I’ve been doing it for quite some time. I mean… I’ve been bending my knees since before I was born. This isn’t exactly a startling news flash.
And yet, to you it is. You’re like one of those annoying ratdogs that here’s a car door slam in the distance and then spends the rest of the night yapping about it.
“It’s a knee! It’s a knee! It bent! Get it! Get it! Getitgetitgetitgetit! Attack! It’s doing that bending thing again! Make it swell up in a grotesque fashion! That’ll teach it!”
You. Are. An. Idiot.
This is obviously going to be a multi-part series. So, there you go. Part 1 of…. 4? 5?
2006 Becky had no idea she’d soon have four kids and sofa goats.
According to what Google said about this year’s theme, I’m supposed to be wishing for empowerment via social protection and sustainable infrastructure, or something like that…..
But I’m not.
I know that sounds kind of mean and unsupportive, and I really don’t mean it that way. It’s just….sustainable infrastructure is not very much fun to daydream about, no matter how hard I try.
Here is a list of stuff I actually want instead:
A pause/erase/do-over on all voicemails – Yes, I know some voicemails offer that option, but why the heck is this not a standard thing? There is nothing worse than being halfway through a voicemail and realizing you said the wrong thing and sound like an idiot, or you gave them your cell phone number instead of your work number, or, or, or…..
… but it’s too late, you can’t fix it because you’ve already started talking and now you’re being recorded, LIVE, and every single thing you say could conceivably be saved forever, or be turned into a viral video, and maybe if you get lucky you can figure out a way to talk into the judgy silence of the voicemail recorder and save this situation….but no.
No, you’re not that lucky, and now it’s too late.
Now you’re sounding weird and rambly, and you don’t sound professional or coherent at all. In fact, you passed the line from too-talkative into “hey listen to this weird voicemail I got” about five or six sentences ago, and oh geez, you just keep hoping that you’ll find the right combo of sentences to make you seem like a functioning, intelligent adult who represents your company with pride, but you can’t, you just sound like a freak, and it’s 2019 and technology is nearly limitless and WHY CAN’T I DELETE THIS VOICEMAIL AND START OVER?!
Sarcasm font- How hard can this be?! It’s such a simple fix. You could use italics foremphasis, and then you could use backwards italics (slanting to the left instead of the right) for sarcasm.
Do you know how many arguments and hurt feelings could be avoided by letting people text as sarcastically as they speak?
A giant plastic/wooden model of a horse that I could use to practice mounting, posting, dismounting, and maybe even trick riding – You could set it up in your backyard, and not only could the kids could play on it, but it would be a great workout, too. Forget squats, or Pilates, or CrossFit – just practice mounting without cinching up the saddle very tight, ten times in a row. Could you imagine the workout you could get, and how much happier a horse would be if you could practice this sort of stuff without having to flop around on their backs? I could practice trotting without stirrups and build my leg muscles without worrying about whether my crookedness is going to make a horse chiropractor necessary. Plus, I could slowly but surely teach myself to swing up bareback onto a horse, or how to do that “run at them from behind and vault over their butt” without worrying about getting kicked. I’d get so much use out of one
Wireless/Bluetooth Video Game Edition Of The Giant Fake Horse – Once someone invents the fake horse from the last daydream, I want to have an indoor, electronic version that pairs with my TV/Video game console. It would be like Wii Dance, or Wii Sports, but with horses.
Kind of like this, but full size and a bajillion times awesomer.
You could “compete” against friends in a cross-country jumping edition, or practice “riding the fence” in a reined cowhorse competition, or just practice your two-point on a virtual ride in Mongolia… ALSO, DUDE, JUST THINK HOW COOL THE NEW RED DEAD REDEMPTION WOULD BE IF YOU COULD ACTUALLY RIDE INSTEAD OF JUST USING A CONTROLLER!
I think I remember seeing somewhere that this technically exists in some “just for Olympics level” riders, but I want one in my living room.
Also, I want my giant fake horse to have hinges so it can fold down small enough to slip under the couch when I am not actually using it.
19 Acres for dirt cheap: I would like my two next door neighbors to grow irritated with owning land, and decide to sell all their horse/hay pasture to me for a ridiculously low price.
“Are you sure? That’s so…. So cheap!” I would exclaim. “I would feel bad buying it from you for so little.”
“Oh, seriously, don’t feel guilty. We just don’t want the hassle of all this land ownership. Owning all this land is such a drag. If you can just take all this rolling, treeless pasture off our hands, you’d be doing us a real favor. We’ll even sweeten the deal by fencing all of it with brand new horse fencing before we sell it to you for .30 cents an acre.”
“Well…. If you insist……”
A Robotic Perpetual Puppy – Sometimes you want snuggle a puppy, but you don’t actually want another dog and all the care that goes with it. The Robotic Perpetual Puppy would have all the cuteness and fluffiness of a 7-week-old puppy, but when you don’t want to deal with it you could just turn it off and stuff it in the closet.
I admit I daydream less of this now that I have the goats, because honestly, they’re kind of like puppies that I can legally lock away whenever I’m tired of playing with them. I cannot recommend baby goats highly enough.
An Indoor/Covered Arena: 200 x 100, please. Also, if it could have a raised, covered area with a couch for the kids to hang out in, that’d be great, too.
I would never leave. Ever. I would happily live on that couch the rest of my life. The Bean could take over the entire house as his man cave.
Jeans with shapewear sewn on the top, like maternity pants – I know some people hate pregnancy wear, but at the risk of sounding stuck up, dude, I rock maternity jeans. They’re the only jeans that I can wear down low around my hips, where the back pockets sit low enough to make my butt look good. I mean, I suppose I could wear all jeans like that, but maternity jeans are the only ones I can wear like that without worrying about bending over the wrong way and flashing the mom version of plumbers crack.
With my imaginary shapewear jeans, the jeans portion would be completely normal, but then there would be a bit of shapewear sewn to the waistband. To keep it from rolling down you could make the shapewear kind of like a tank top (the shoulder straps would keep it in place). Not only would you never have to worry about plumber’s crack, but you’d also never have to worry about muffin top or sucking in your belly or wearing a belt to keep your pants from slipping down. Control top jeans. Why don’t these already exist? I’d buy the heck out of them.
Stitch-Fix, but for broke people – It’d be exactly the same as Stitch-Fix, but they’d fill your monthly box with stuff from Goodwill so you could actually afford it. Who spends $40 on a single shirt?! Are you high, Stitch-Fix?!
A minivan capable of hauling a horse trailer – Wouldn’t that be amazing? Then I wouldn’t have to choose between fitting all the kids in one vehicle and being able to haul horses places. Also, I’d really like it if it could get decent gas mileage. Also, also, it would be affordable, unlike those big SUVs that are still going for 30k when they have 100,000 miles on them.
Facial Recognition Glasses – The glasses would have facial recognition software, and then you could program them to show you important information about the people you run into (only you could see what you programmed into it.) It could be something as simple as the person’s name, or as complex as where you met them and why you sort-of-but-not-quite remember them. I know this is verging into Black Mirror territory, but there’s nothing more frustrating than recognizing someone, starting to say hello, and then remembering too late that the reason I recognize them is that they were a total jerk to me (nobody goes to City Hall to be nice to the person behind the counter) and I don’t actually want to talk to them but now it’s too late to back out of the conversation because I was the one that waved at them, and Hiiiiii, how are youuuuuuuu?
Affordable Kids’ Summer Camps: The camps would be local, and affordable, and educational…. And the kids would think it was really, really, really fun. I would send the kids to it for a week while I went on a catch-up-on-all-our-lost-sleep vacation with The Bean, and then when I came back I’d discover that my children had not only had a great time, but they had also they learned how to cook healthy meals, build a fire from scratch, how to change the oil in a car, and also maybe they accidentally learned how to do pre-algebra while playing nerf wars with the camp counselors.
“Did you have a good time, boys?”
“It was wonderful! We learned so much, thank you for sending us, Mom!”
“I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it. What was your favorite part?”
“I think it was when they taught us how to be kind to others, and how to always be polite and well-spoken with adults so that other people think you’re an amazing parent!”
“No, no, my favorite part was how they read to us every evening and now we are magically voracious readers completely in love with books, and they taught us the secret of how to persevere even when it’s difficult, and always be grateful for the small things, and make our beds, and eat salads even when offered a candy bar. Can we pretty please go again?”
“Well, I dunno boys, it’s $25 a week with all your room and board included…. but okay, I suppose we could afford another week!”
Look, we’re learning how to divide fractions and having a great time doing it!
Shhhh. It could happen.
Human Kibble. I’m serious about this one. If they can make a dog kibble that my dog gets excited about, and if they can make canned cat food that my cat will sprint across an entire field for, then they can come up with some kind of cereal that has all the protein and vitamins and whatever a human body needs, but also tastes like Reese’s Pieces or something.
Dude, I’m so tired of cooking. Cooking all the time for four kids is exhausting, even if you liked cooking (which I never have.)
Human kibble. We needs some.
Tinder For Writers: It’d be like an online dating service, except instead of swiping right and having to deal with STDs or marriage or whatever it is all those single people do with Tinder nowadays, you would find someone to coauthor a book with you. I used to play an online Pern-based RPG that was text based – it was called Dragonsfire Moo, I think? I always had a good time, but every once in a while I’d stumble across someone whose writing style just absolutely meshed with mine, and writing scenes with them was pure magic.
I have absolutely no idea how this would work, and I’m sure in real life the paperwork involved would be a giant headache, and now that I’m really thinking about the practical aspects of it I imagine most people who used it would end up with more lawsuits than actual money, but I don’t care. This is my wish list, and I want a Tinder Writing Service to help me find a coauthor. In this scenario I could come up with the big picture ideas and the zany female characters and funny situations, and they would come up with the boring middle section of the book and the witty male dialogue, and we’d churn out, like, five books a year and live like royalty on the proceeds. We could totally be the next Ilona Andrews team, and end up with a bunch of giant movie deals, and then I could afford most of the stuff on my daydream list just by the money we brought in.
Alfalfa Candle: I want a candle I can burn in my house that makes the whole house smell like fresh cut alfalfa warming up in the summer sun.
The Forever Outfit: I’d like the ability to hire someone to come up with the perfect, wear-every-day-for-the-rest-of-my-entire-life outfit for me. This person would look at my skin tone, and coloring, and body type, and then they’d design the perfect outfit. The jeans would fit me just perfectly and never need a belt to keep from sliding down my hips as they stretched out throughout the day… the shirt would be long enough that I would never have to worry about it riding up when I reached for something above my head. It would be tailored at the waist so that I didn’t look like I was wearing a box with sleeves, but not so tight I felt uncomfortable. It would be layered, so that I could wear the outfit in both summer and winter…..
And then I could just order that same exact outfit, forever and ever, and nobody would ever think it was weird.
The Everyday Cloak: Okay, so if nobody actually ever invents The Forever Outfit then I want to be able to wear whatever I want, whenever I want, and not have it be weird. I know I live in America so nobody really judges me on my clothes, and more specifically I live near Portland, so I really could wear whatever I wanted and short of it being a MAGA hat or literally being on fire, nobody would judge me…. but I want to wear weird stuff and not have people stare at me, even if they’re just staring out of curiosity.
Okay, if I’m actually being specific…. I want to be able to wear cloaks again. I just have a thing for cloaks, okay?
I want to have an array of cloaks hanging up in my closet, and some kind of, I dunno, basic adventurers outfit beneath it, like a black tank top and a pair of jeans. It’d be like the Forever Outfit, only it’d be Awesome Cloak edition.
She must be overwhelmed with the awesomeness of her cloak. That’s the only reason I can figure for her weird, blank expression. I don’t blame her. It’s a COMPLETELY awesome cloak.
Every day I’d put on a pair of jeans, a tank top, my Ariat Fatbaby boots, and then I would just pick out my cloak depending on my mood that day, and stride down the street looking totally magnificent. I could swirl through the aisles of the grocery store, with my cloak flaring out in whirling, colorful splendor behind me. I could use it to sit down on the grass at the park without worrying if my butt was gonna get wet. I could pull up the hood whenever I was cold, or just didn’t want to talk to anyone.
I know I could wear cloaks and maybe I’d be the person to help them make a comeback… but I don’t’ want to be a fashion trendsetter. I want cloaks to be normal, the same as wearing a hoodie.
Also, I want them to be easy to wash and dry and be wrinkle and stain-resistant. If I’m going to daydream, I might as well daydream in a practical fashion.
Book On Demand Coffee Shop – I want a coffee shop that can print a book on demand. Like, you go into Starbucks and you sit down with your coffee, and enjoy it, and then you order your book on demand with an app, and 2-3 minutes later a kiosk spits it out, all warm and freshly printed and smelling deliciously of paper so you can sit with your coffee and read your new book. It’s 2019. Why is this not a thing?
I could talk about where we got them, and the amazing generosity that enabled us to to have them, but I’m exhausted, so I think I will just do a giant photo dump instead.
Portland sunset skyline
He didn’t smell at all, but apparently they wash him with dog shampoo a lot.
Mama goat to the red and white buckling. Sorry about the low quality photos, but the flash spooked them so I took the photos in dim light.
Red and white buckling on the right. He belongs to DragonMonkey, who named him “Patches”.
More of Patches
This is the mama to the twin doelings. She has blue eyes, but every photo of her with her eyes open was way too blurry to bother sharing.
I have to admit, I’m jealous I didn’t get to pick a goat for myself. Being a “fair mom” is hard sometimes. I wanted to take first pick of the doelings as mine (solid red with blue eyes is such a cool color! I want Squid’s doeling). , and leave them with whatever two I didn’t want.
I understand it doesn’t matter whose goat it is technically, that we will all love and care for them ….. but my inner-8-year-old doesn’t agree.
This is doeling #1. Doeling #1 is technically registered in DragonMonkey’s name in case he wants to show her at 4-H this year.
“Family doeling” also has blue eyes.
Basically, the breeder thought he should have the buckling, since he’s the only one old enough to do 4-H this year, and the buckling is nice enough to maybe win some ribbons, etc.
Since DragonMonkey got to have his name on the papers of two goats, I gave Squid first choice of the doelings, and then this other doeling is kind of the family goat, albeit registered in DM’s name.
If we decide for some reason the buckling/probably-a-soon-to-be-wether is not a good fit for us because we want only females, then DM will still have a doeling.
He’s so in love with the buckling because I’ve been very careful to to it s “his” goat her the “family goat” to try make everything fair, I sincerely doubt that will happen.
And then the final baby goat, little sister to the one above. She belongs to Squid. She’s the smallest, and a blue-eyed solid red with a couple of moonspots. He hasn’t thought of a name yet.
Only two days difference between these kids.
And here are some videos of our first bottle feeding:
The downstairs fencing we have will keep them in maybe a couple of days more (if we’re lucky) without a lid, but we have a fully enclosed 12×12 shelterlogic corral we’re making goat proof this weekend.
They are so small they’re basically hawk-bait at the moment, so they can’t roam freely until they’re a little bigger.
This was a good decision- maybe not time wise or sanity wise, but joy wise it was a GREAT decision, and sometimes we all need a little more joy in our lives.
And now, off to bed, because I now have SEVEN KIDS to get ready in the morning before I leave for work.
I don’t have four kids and the stomach flu going through our household.
I don’t have a barn with an untrained 9- month-old Morgan.
I don’t have a gassy, hairy pony who is shedding so bad her hair keeps clumping up in her armpits.
I don’t have a full time job, and an unwashed laundry mountain in my basement, and books I haven’t written, and dog hair I haven’t swept up, and unhealthy dinners I haven’t cooked last minute, and, and, and…
And that is definitely not DragonMonkey reading up on how to bottle feed baby goats.
I like how I wrote the saddest post ever, left it up for a a bit, and then I completely disappeared and the blog shut down.
It made everything seem so much more melodramatic than the actual truth.
The truth was I forgot I needed to renew my blog, spent the money elsewhere, and remembered too late to do anything other than wait for my next paycheck to turn the lights back on.
I suppose I could incorporate the renewal and hosting and other boring background stuff for this blog into our regular budget, but this blog is mine.
It’s not an ours/married thing, it’s mine, all mine, and it’s not to be sullied by practical, accountanty things like budgets and schedules.
Of course, it’s also the only bill that’s regularly forgotten about and regularly goes overdue and gets shut off…. but let’s not focus on that.
Anyways, the blog hosting is back, for another 3 months or so. If it suddenly disappears again in late April or May, you’ll know why.
I’m not in the mood to be sad today, so in reference to my post about Caspian all I’m gonna say is that I read every single one of your words, multiple times, and that I wish everyone had people like you in their lives to help them heal when sad things happen. You helped more than you know.
Moving on, before I get maudlin.
Monday morning I tried to use my windshield wipers to clear the snow off of my windshield. It worked – sort of.
I mean, technically it worked – the wet snow went sliding off the sides of the car with soft plopping sounds, but when the windshield wipers tried to return to their normal position, they couldn’t. There was too much snow built up at their base.
Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. The wipers sounded whiny, almost petulant as they tried to click back into place.
I sighed, and got out to scoop the snow with my hands. I thought it would be a quick affair, but there was more of it than I had thought. We had about 3-4 inches come down over the weekend, but Sunday night’s rain had turned everything into a heavy, sodden mess. It looked like snow, but it acted more like a half-melted slushy without any syrup in it.
We were promised a Snowmageddon up here near Portland, but unfortunately for us, it was just a few degrees too warm. A couple hundred of feet more in elevation or a couple hundred miles north, people were trapped with almost a foot and a half of snow.
Alas for Bean Acres, every time we built up any inches, the rain would swoop in and melt it.
I It made for a couple of cute pictures, but overall it was a bit of a letdown.
The next morning the snow was rapidly getting melted by the rain, but not fast enough for my morning commute. It took several minutes of scooping before I was finally able to replace the windshield wipers to their normal position, and by the time I opened the door to huddle in the driver’s seat and blow on my frozen hands, my fingers were an angry red.
“BRRRR. BRRRR, it’s COLD out there,” I complained, to nobody in particular. I alternated between blowing on my stinging, clumsy fingertips and trying to fumble my seatbelt on.
“You putta onna da hat,” came Magpie’s slightly disgusted tone, floating up from her car seat in the middle row.
She’s not quite as verbal as Squid was, but she was so unintelligible for so long that her sentences still startle me when they come out so clear.
Of course, clear is kind of a relative term.
Half the time she sounds like she’s pretending to be Italian, with her random “a’s” she tends to stick on the end of words.
The other half, especially when she’s angry, she sounds like an irritable Russian grandma from a cheesy 80’s film. “Vat? Vat you vont, Feen? Vhy you do dis to me?”
Today she sounded Italian, and also slightly put out that she had to explain something so simple to me. There was something so sensible, so practical in her tone. If I was cold, why hadn’t I bothered to put on my hat? She had put on her hat. Her head was warm, nice and snug beneath her pink and blue Paw Patrol knit cap. Why couldn’t her mother follow her good example, rather than sit there and complain about it?
“It’s not that kind of cold, Magpie.” I tried to ignore the feeling that I shouldn’t have to defend my actions to a toddler.
“You cold. You putta onna da hat.”
“No, it’s not that kind of cold. I was scooping snow with my hands. That’s why I was cold – my hands are cold from touching the snow.”
“Mama putta onna da snodoves.”
“I don’t own any snow gloves, or I would have.”
“You putta onna da pockets.”
“You cold,” she said in weary disapproval, turning her head to stare out the minivan window.
Life is an exhausting affair, especially when you are saddled with a mother who can’t manage even the simplest of tasks without constant reminders.
“You cold,” she repeated in her world-weary voice. “You putta da hands onna da pockets.”
“Fine,” I conceded, having been verbally outmaneuvered by a knee-high person who still goes peepee in her diaper. “You’re right. Putting my hands in my pockets would have kept my hands warm.”
“Yah,” she said, her tone turning to something a little less condescending. “Pockets.” At least her mother understood that she was right. The world would run so much smoother, if more people just listened to Magpie’s good sense. She stared out the window, content with the wisdom she had imparted, and began singing quietly to herself. “Tinkle, tinkle, widda stawr… How-a I a-wonda…whewr you aaaaahhh…”
She’s not even three yet, guys.
Someone hold me. I have a feeling I’m in for a looooooong teenagerhood.
I feel like I should warn you of that ahead of time, in case you don’t want to read sad things right now. It’s totally fine if you don’t.
But it is a sad post. I dunno. I’m probably going to regret posting this in such detail. The internet horse community is not known for its kindness.
Oh, it’s known for its kindness to its horses. It’s just not known for its kindness to each other, and while I try to be open and honest on this blog, there are some things that are just too sore for me to let strangers poke at.
Not while it’s still so raw.
I’m sure that someone out there is going to really disagree with the choice I made for Caspian. That’s the nature of horse owners – you give them anything, and they’ll argue over it. I’ll probably get some Anonymous post telling me I’m a horrible human being.
It’s just…. writing has always helped me process things, and I feel like I need to talk about it. Maybe my choice will help someone with their choice, in the same way that Aarene’s blog post helped me with my decision.
Maybe I’m just inventing reasons, and I just selfishly need to let this spill out of me before it tears me up too bad on the inside.
I put Caspian to sleep yesterday morning.
I did it out of kindness.
I don’t know. There’s just no magic 8 ball for things like this. Maybe I chose wrong. Maybe I just took a horse that only needed a quick surgery and a different medication to have pain-free decades left to him, years he could have spent grazing in the lower pasture I would finally fence in, swishing his tail in easy contentment. Years where the boys crawled up on him and rode him around, and years when I rode him in the summer evening twilight in the field across the street. Years where Magpie and Finn sat up there with their legs sticking out sideways and encouraged him to shamble forward.
Or maybe he would have just had uveitis flare up after uveitis flare up, and migraine after migraine, as he slowly went blind. Maybe I just saved him from years of trying to hide pain before I finally gave in to the inevitable.
I don’t know. I. Just. Don’t. Know.
I wish I did.
The internet is full of people who threw tens of thousands of dollars after their moonblind horses only to do the same thing I just did and put them to sleep, after years of pain.
The internet is also full of people who did simple eye removal surgeries and medicine changes and never had another issue.
I kind of hate myself for not reading more about uveitis earlier. Maybe I could have avoided this path if I had. The bad eye just kind of came with Caspian. We were told it was an eye injury. I suspected different, but it never seemed to cause too much of problem, so I never looked into it any further. I didn’t realize *how* painful it was for him on his rare flareup days. I kept his fly mask on, and I kept him sheltered on windy days. Once I realized he actually had uveitis, and what that was (basically, like rheumatoid arthritis of the eyeball) I treated it more seriously and put atropine in his eye and used up my stores of banamine. He always got over the flares pretty quickly. Maybe if I’d done preventative stuff from the beginning, he never would have had another one.
I don’t know, and it sucks.
I wish I was independently wealthy, and I could have tried eye removal and surgical implants and every single herb and fancy cutting-edge technology available. Maybe I should have had more of a financial cushion, so that when we got hit with a bunch of vet bills in a row, it didn’t hurt us so dearly. It didn’t help that every time the horse got sick the kids also got sick, so I had vet bills on one side and doctor bills on the other. We finally have amazing medical insurance, but even so it adds up fast when there’s 6 people in the family.
In my darkest moments, I think that maybe I shouldn’t have bought Reverie. If I hadn’t bought her, my finances would be a lot better shape and I’d know for absolute certain that lack of money had no impact on my decision today. If I had a savings account, I’d *know* I did it out of kindness, instead of worrying that I justified a bad decision to myself.
It’s so hard to figure everything out, when it’s all tied up in grief, and sadness, and confusion about whether the road you chose was the right one.
If I’d had endless finances I could have thrown every drug known to man (horse?) at Caspian and made sure he was totally drugged-out and blissfully comfortable until early summer, and put him to sleep on a day when the sun warmed his back and the grass was up to his knees. I know he would have liked that.
If I’d been able to wait until summer I think I would have buried him on my property, too. The problem is that right now it’s January, and the ground is so wet that it makes squishing, suctioning sounds against my boots even through the grass, even on dry days. I could have hired someone to dig a hole in the lower pasture to bury him, but it would be a muddy, messy affair and the tractor would leave giant muddy tracks in the yard.
It’s not the aesthetics that bother me.
It’s the fact that for weeks and months afterwards I would have to stare out at those tracks, like scars across my heart, and I don’t think my wintertime depression could handle that. I didn’t want my backyard and barn area to become a daily reminder of a friend that I’ve lost.
And ultimately, it does feel like I lost a friend.
And that’s the crux of it, isn’t it?
I firmly, firmly believe in that whole “better a month early than a day too late” line. I see so many videos of little ponies with dead eyeballs hobbling around on prosthetics, of people who keep little dogs alive until they’re covered in bedsores. I never want to be that person.
But it’s one thing to say you believe in something.
And it’s a completely different thing to send that email to your vet, because you don’t trust your voice, while your horse trots around happily in turnout.
It’s another thing to call the renderer – the renderer – to make arrangements to pick up your friend’s body. You know that’s what was left was not Caspian…. But still.
You have to go to the hardware store to get a tarp to cover him up after it’s done. It’s not a good idea to try to have the vet come at the same time as the renderer – it’s too sad when the schedules don’t line up, and you are stuck there waiting. Better to put the horse to sleep, cover them up, and then have the renderer come a little later.
You sit there and hate the idea of a tarp. It should be a shroud. It should be maroon silk with gold filigree. It should something as beautiful as Caspian was on the outside, because nothing could really come close to how beautiful he was on the inside.
I mean, when will you find anything like him ever again?
Maybe he wasn’t your once-in-a-lifetime heart horse, because he was too dignified to enjoy your hands-on affection in the stall, That didn’t make you love or appreciate how special he was any less. Heck, maybe it made you appreciate it more, because you weren’t blinded by anything. Where will you ever find a horse that moves like Arwen’s Andalusian, all fire and grace and smooth collected athleticism, but who is also kind enough to heave a deep sign and lower his muzzle inches from the ground so the kids can learn how to put on a halter?
Caspian was just good, through and through, like milk or vegetables. Steady. Dependable. Unflappable….and he looked like he was straight out of a magazine. Horses like that don’t exist in real life.
You mention the need for a tarp to your husband, trying to sound cool and collected. He is drinking his coffee and doing something for work on his computer, so he buys your act and responds without looking up.
“Try to get something big enough that we can use it afterwards to cover the burn pile.”
You stare at him, wordless, motionless, and think that maybe, just maybe, you could kill him. You could, if you could move past the cold numbness in your heart long enough to feel hot rage.
Some primitive sense of self-preservation alerts him to your stare, and he looks up.
“I know you’re not that good at comforting people, but you can do better than that. You can do better than ‘get one big enough for the burn pile.’ “
He has the grace to look horrified at himself. “I wasn’t thinking. That was wrong. I’m sorry.”
You nod, because that’s all you have left in you, and you leave the room.
You vacilate between wanting to avoid the barn at all costs, and wanting to live in there. Caspian makes it easy not to distance yourself, because suddenly, in his final few weeks on earth, he has turned into Houdini. He breaks out of his stall with an alarming regularity, snapping chains on his gate, using his mouth to open horse-proof locks and untying multiple sets of halters you looped around as a last ditch effort. He roams the property at night. He wanders into the feed area and eats a two month supply of LMF products….. a two month supply for all three horses. You replace it, and he breaks out and eats it again.
You replace it, and he eats it again.
At this point, he’s more vitamin than horse, and you have no idea how he hasn’t foundered or colicked.
You stop buying supplements, so the next time he gets out, he eats the hay. Not some of the hay, but ALL of the hay. You’ve been buying it a few bales at a time from the feed store because the ground got too muddy for a big supply delivery. He devours the entire bale and a half of alfalfa, and pees on the few remaining strands that are left. He upends every single trash can and food container to make sure he gets every last bite of food.
He spills out the last of the rice bran pellets, eats most of them, and then poops on the rest.
When you go out in the morning, he’s nibbling in contentment on the grass, and the other horses are looking at you with pricked ears. “Breakfast?” they ask.
You stare at the empty destruction of the feed room, and shrug helplessly. “I’ll stop and get food on my lunch. I’m sorry.”
Caspian leads to his stall easily, ready for a nice big drink of water and a nap before breaking out again the next night.
You send your husband to Ace Hardware to get an actual lock, and he comes back with a metal carabiner combination lock. You snap it shut over the metal chain at the top, twist the dials to make sure it is totally locked, lock the metal chain at the bottom, and grin at Caspian. “Beat THAT,” you say.
The next morning you look out the window. “The damned horse is out again,” you say to your husband.
“He can’t be.”
“Well, he is.”
“Did you forget to lock the stall?”
You give your husband a withering look. Dumb questions don’t require answers.
When you go out there, you find the lock is in pieces in front of the stall. Caspian literally chewed it off and then unhooked his chains and set himself free.
He also ate all the hay again.
His monthly feed bill for December is already well over $500. He looks good, and his coat is shiny, so there is that.
His “good” eye also seems more and more weird. There’s nothing you can put your finger on, but it just seems…. off. Plus, his bad eye is so sensitive to light that it really should come out at this point.
You do more research. And then more. Some people have the eye enucleating done and that solves everything.
But…. but there’s the way he flipped his head all over the place when the vet approached his good eye. And the way he stepped on your foot. And the way he spooks at things in the sky more than he used to, and doesn’t quite focus on you, and all the other signs.
And when the vet comes out and sedates him to look at it, there’s red inflammation…. In his *good* eye. It’s not definitive, but it’s there, and as close to knowing as you’re gonna get, short of a too expensive trip to an equine opthalmologist for a series of more invasive tests.
The vet recommends removing the bad eye at the very least. You’d already warned him that if it was in the “good” eye you would be considering euthanasia. He walks you through the entire process, step by step, in his calm, no frills voice. You’ve never had a vet you liked this much.
It helps. Sort of.
You hint around for a recommendation, but he’s vague. You can go the med route, or the euthanasia route. It doesn’t seem like he thinks either is a wrong choice. He does repeat that uveitis is a painful condition, and that Caspian would feel better with the bad eye out.
You start haunting horse uveitis orums, reading up on what worked, and what didn’t. You start reading veterinary medical studies. One figure said it only goes bilateral 20% of the time. One study of an experimental trial had 96% of the horses ending up with it in both eyes.
The people on the internet seem to end up closer to the 96% than the 20%.
You take pictures in the sunlight, and realize he’s squinting…. On both sides. You think. Maybe you’re imagining it?
You’re not imagining it.
You can’t do it. You can’t put him through painful surgeries and adapting to only having one eye, just to have to face the same decision in a few weeks or months or at best, years.
Besides, if you can visibly see Mr. Stoic squinting, how bad must the pain actually be?
Still, you hold off, until you see a picture you happen to take. In the picture his leg is held crooked to the side, bandaged from his recent bout of cellulitis, and his head is lowered. He’s squinting, and he just…. he looks like a horse in a lot of pain. He looks tired.
You make the appointment by email, because what choice do you have? Who can trust their voice with a phone call like that? “I’ve decided to kill my friend before he starts hurting nonstop, because I don’t think that any amount of money I dump into this will end up with any different ending, so why not do it now, while he’s fat and happy and not in too much pain?
The internet is full of “the horse will tell you” cliches. You don’t think that applies to you. You know in your heart that for Caspian, who is a stoic, that if you’re waiting until he “tells you”, you’ve waited too long. If you wait for him to tell you, to let you know he’s ready to die, it’s because he’s been in pain so long that he’s given up on the inside.
You don’t want his dying to be a painful thing that takes forever. You can’t make this better for him, but you can at least do that. It’s a gift he deserves.
You still have to go to Ace Hardware for that stupid tarp. You’ve been putting it off, but the vet is coming tomorrow. You have to wander those beige aisles with the too-quiet beige linoleum tile, and you have to look at the selection of tarps. Nobody every teaches you these things – how big of one do you get? You’ve never been very good at eyeballing things. Eyeballing distances is how you ended up with a barn on one side of your property and a paddock on the other. You thought it was 2-3 inches of slope to put the barn on the right hand side. It turns out it was a 7 foot retaining wall worth of slope. So, eyeballing won’t work.
Do you guess at it, and have legs sticking out because you were wrong? What’s the alternative? Can your heart handle going home and taking a tape measure to your living, breathing, soft-furred, warm-hided friend as he calmly munches his hay, measuring him for his temporary plastic coffin cover, and then coming back to the store?
You eyeball the prices and are a little horrified. Who knew tarps were so expensive? Do you get one big one, or two small ones?
You do the math, and realize maybe your husband wasn’t being such an ass after all. If you’re going to drop $40 or $50 on a piece of reusable plastic, maybe you should get one big enough to cover the burn pile after all.
You buy it, and try not to meet the cashier’s eyes, lest she ask you about your project. When you get home, you leave it in the back seat of the car. You can’t stand to look at it.
The boys are leaving to their grandparents early in the morning, hours before the vet is due to arrive. You drag them out to clean stalls with you, and break the news you’ve been putting off. You tell them that it’s in both eyes, and that you will have to put him down while they’re gone. You don’t mention that you’ve already set the time and date. It’s hard enough for you to live with. You can spare them that at least.
You have a long conversation with them, and they take it surprisingly well. They are not surprised, because you’ve hinted it’s coming in the past. Kids hear more than you think. They’re sad, but they understand.
“I wish we could have one more ride on him,” one of them says.
“Yeah,” says the other one, quietly.
“Me too,” you say, and try to not let your voice get too choked up.
You don’t want to lie to them and pretend it’s a happy thing, but you know if you break down, they’ll break down. Crying is perfectly acceptable, but you want them to do it on their own, not because they’re unnerved by you.
You discuss pets in heaven, and the idea of heaven in general.
You claim first ride in heaven on Caspian. It’s probably not a biblical concept, and besides…. if there’s a heaven for horses, it probably doesn’t involve being ridden, but you claim it, just in case.
It makes it feel less like goodbye, and more like “see you soon”.
Eventually the stall is as clean as it’s gonna get. You give him three bags of shavings to roll in. You clean out his dinner-plate size hooves one last time. That front right is getting thrushy – you should grab the medicine and…
You put the hoof back down. It doesn’t really matter, does it?
You and the boys feed Caspian a stupid amount of food, and turn out the lights as he quietly chews.
You go to bed, but you don’t sleep. You buy a new book and read it until you get drowsy, and turn off the lights, but the second you do, reality comes crashing back. You start doing the math of how many hours until the vet comes. You try to ignore it, and think of anything else, but it doesn’t work. You start to cry, and instead put your glasses back on and turn on your Kindle and fall back into the book to keep the tears at bay.
It helps it’s a good story.
You repeat this several times throughout the night.
The boys leave with their grandparents early, and as soon as they’re gone, it becomes real.
You want to be out there with Caspian, but he’s still happy in his stall, knee-deep in hay, nose to nose with Reverie, and you shouldn’t make yourself feel better at his expense. Horses are kind of empaths, and the last thing he needs is to have you bringing him down with your mood those last few hours.
You think about turning him out, and letting him roll in the mud like he likes…. but decide against it. Maybe it’s what he would like, but there won’t be time for him to dry off and get groomed again. It shouldn’t matter, maybe it doesn’t matter, but leading a mud-caked horse out would just make you feel so much worse.
You do everything to make time slow down, but it won’t. Eventually it’s a little over an hour to the vet. It’s time to go outside.
You glance at the screen door and note the way the sun is making the frost glow in the backyard. It’s a beautiful day. Is that better, or worse?
Better, you decide. Caspian never liked the rain. Better for him to enjoy the sun one last time.
You open up the back door and Carrots nickers at you, prompting Reverie and Caspian to come to the front gate. You stop, and take a picture, realizing it’s the last time you’ll see those pricked white ears looking at you from his stall.
You take another, and another. And another.
You stop. Why are you torturing yourself like this? Caspian doesn’t need you sobbing. Who knows what he’ll pick up off of you, if you can’t get your emotions under control.
The Bean had offered to hold him for the vet, but you turned him down. Maybe it would have been the kind thing to do for Caspian, not having your emotions leaking all over him. The Bean would have been calmer….but you couldn’t do it. You couldn’t not be there.
Your breath catches in a sob, so you stand by Carrots and take a deep breath. One. Two. You fall back on your old trick and start mentally naming things as your glance falls on them. Chestnut. Forelock. Grass. Sky. Mist. Hoof. Tree.
That calms you down enough that you can conjugate Spanish verbs in your head. Yo corro. Tu corres. Ud. corre. Nosotros corremos. Uds. corren.
Deseo. Deseas. Desea. Deseamos. Desean.
Emotions stuffed back down, you approach the barn and clean the stalls.
You tie up Caspian as you lead Carrots over to his stall. Her stall? His stall.
From the tie post he squints at you in the sunlight, even though he’s not in the middle of a flare. You wonder if it’s your imagination that he’s squinting with the good eye. You zoom in one photo and realize it’s not.
Maybe the sunlight was a gift, to make the whole thing easier, to prove you’re doing right. No prey animal who is based on flight should have to spend the rest of their life squinting painfully every time they’re out of the barn.
Still. He looks so good. Would it be easier if he looked sicker? You can’t help but think that it would be easier.
Carrots ignores Reverie and settles in to eating, which is a relief. You were pretty sure she was over her hatred of the filly, but this is the first time they’ve been penned next to each other. You’re glad it’s going smoothly. In another day or so, they’ll be best friends. You scatter sweet feed on the floor to keep the girls busy, and fill an entire bucket with grain for Caspian. It’s not like he’ll founder.
You lead him away from the barn, stopping near the electric fence to let him eat You want to move him away gradually, so Reverie doesn’t start screaming for him. You want to give her a chance to get used to him being far away.
Caspian eyes the bucket, flapping his lip at it the entire way, but he waits respectfully until you give him the signal before he lowers and dives in. He’s such a good boy, through and through.
He looks good, too. How can such a young, healthy-looking horse be irretrievably sick? It seems so unfair.
You take some pictures, so you can remember him like this, nose deep in the bucket, content, moments before he’s gone.
This is your gift to him, even if it’s tearing you apart. He’s worth it.
He’s shining in the sunlight, which makes you feel proud. It’s hard to get a shine on a grey horse. He always has the most beautiful shine.
Had the most beautiful shine?
His neck looks good with the roached mane. You had such grand plans for it – you were going to shape it as it grew out, but instead it’s just kind of lumpy, since you used scissors.
Still – his mane was never very good even when you completely babied it, and he really rocks the roached look. It shows his neck off to its best advantage. You’ll probably never own a horse with a prettier neck.
It’s 20 minutes to the vet’s arrival.
You unhook the gate and lead him through to the front yard. Reverie calls a couple of times, pacing her stall. It’s not as frantic as it would be without Carrots beside her, but it still makes your heart wrench.
You lead him to where the vet suggested it take place, near the driveway and where the ground is level, and let him eat some more. You want him totally relaxed in that area before the vet arrives. You’re trying not to cry, but it’s hard, really hard. You bury his face in his broad side, hiding your head there, breathing in his scent. He’s so warm, and solid. Your breath hitches. Maybe this is a really bad idea. Maybe this isn’t the right decision at all.
The Bean comes out, face looking quiet and sad. “You need anything?”
You swallow, hard, so your voice comes out only half choked. “Can you get the … the tarp….ready…”
“I’ll take care of it.” You know he will. You can tell he wants to do something to comfort you, but that he’s giving you space to just be with Caspian alone. His ability to give you space has always been your favorite part of your marriage. The tarp is one less thing for you to worry about right now, and it will also give him something to do.
Caspian has eaten half the bucket of grain and gotten bored with it, so he moves on to the grass. He’s eating it with a steady determination, barely chewing, as if he’s half starved. You run a hand down his side, where there’s not a rib to be felt, and give a choked laugh. Your feed bill is going to be less than half of what it used to be, once he’s gone.
You feel guilty for even thinking that.
Behind you, you hear the crunching sound of the vet’s truck pulling into the driveway. You glance to confirm it’s who you think it is, and everything rears up inside you, angry and ugly and savage. You turn your back on him, and curl your fingers into Caspian’s coat.
Go away. Go away, go away, go away, go away.
Instead, you wait till you hear truck door open and then close, and then you turn around and give the vet a half-hearted wave before giving him your back again. You don’t think he minds. After a few moments, you find your voice.
“Hey, Doc.” It comes out pinched, and way too high.
“Hi, Becky. You want to do the paperwork first?”
No. Go away. “Yeah.”
He heads back to his truck, and you realize you can’t. You just can’t. Thank God the Bean is here. “Bean, you can do that part,” you say, and he obediently walks over to join the vet at the truck. The two of them talk in quiet voices. You hear snippets of it – the vet’s explaining the process to the Bean, just like he did to you. He has such a kind, steady voice. It helps, but you still try to block it out. Go away. Go away, go away, go away.
You lean your face into Caspian’s hide and conjugate verbs like your life depends on it. Correr. Brinkar. Nadar. Morir. No, not that one. Not that one, Becky. It’s not helping. Cantar. Ir. Esperar. You glance down, and see that Caspian is back in the bucket of food, but now he’s eating with a worried expression.
Well, it is what it is. You’re doing the best you can.
The vet comes over, and explains the steps to you again. You nod, and look off in the distance, at the sky, the hills, the trees. He talks you through ways it might not go smoothly. Your fingers are buried in Caspian’s coat. You keep wiping your nose on your sleeve, or shoulder. It’s probably gross, but it’s a Carhartt. Carhartts are ranchers jackets. They usually see worse. So do vets and husbands. You don’t think they mind.
You hold the halter while the vet gives him the sedative.
“Just hold his head. He’s going to get nice and sleepy. Go ahead and let him get nice and calm.”
Caspian stops chewing his mouthful of grass long enough to brace himself for the shot, and then continues.
He chews it steadily, and then his head gets heavy. He chews it again. Once. Twice. He stops, his eyes half-lidded, his breathing deep. The grass hangs forgotten in his mouth.
The vet approaches again and shaves the neck area, and then circles back to the truck for the meds. He’s already explained the next part. Caspian’s a big boy, so he’s going to give him three full syringes of the juice. It’s a big needle, so he might startle when it goes in.
Your job is to hold Caspian’s head, hold him steady, as the three syringes go in. Once they’re in, the vet will grab his halter, and help ease him to the ground.
You nod. Your fingers are curled around the halter, fingertips buried in the soft fuzz of Caspian’s cheeks. At some point you realize your hands are shaking. You glance down, and see the three giant syringes in the vet’s hand. They’re pink – horribly pink, like the way poisonous things in nature advertise themselves with too-bright colors. They’re warning pink. Danger pink. You’ve seen the pink juice before, when you had to put your dog down, but those giant horse-sized cannisters are too much.
It seems really, really wrong to hold Caspian still for those, when he looks so good in the winter sunlight. There’s still time to say nevermind. You can still back out. You can still stop this idiocy.
Instead, you lift your good friend’s head up, cradling it high.
“Good”, says the vet in his quiet voice. “Okay. We’re going to start.” He inserts the needle, and blood drips out the bottom. He screws in the first syringe, and Caspian’s blood mixes with the godawful pink like smoke.
Your fingers are shaking, as are your arms. It’s not from the strain of holding him up. It doesn’t matter at this point – he’s sedated, so you let yourself feel. The tears run down your cheeks.
By the time the third syringe is nearly through, Caspian’s head has grown heavy, and he’s starting to wobble. “I got him,” says the vet, and you back away, grateful. The Bean comes up behind you, and his hand is on your shoulder, squeezing it.
The vet leans hard against Caspian’s head, and pushes him to an almost sitting position, and then helps him down. For a moment, one of those dinner plate sized hooves catches on the grass, and Caspian’s graceful descent is arrested. The vet tries to nudge it with his leg without letting go of Caspian’s head, but it’s hard. He’s no 800 pound Arabian.
“Do you need…. Do you want me to…” You raise a shaking hand to gesture, then cross it in front of you again, gripping at the sleeves of your jacket.
“I got it,” he says, and he does. Caspian is down on his side, stretched out like he’s deep asleep. It could be a nap, except his breathing is too shallow, and spaced too far apart.
You’d been warned there might be paddling, but there isn’t any. He’s just lying down. Sleeping. Except he’s not.
“You can go to his head now,” the vet says. “Just go to his head and give him some love. I’ll get my stethescope.”
For a second, you think about saying no. You don’t want to. What the hell are you supposed to say? “Good boy. Sorry for killing you. Thanks for not making this too traumatic on me, now please go to the light faster so I don’t have to hear the irregular sounds of your final breaths?“
But you go to him, and you kneel down, feeling lost, and stupid, and guilty. You have no idea where to put your hand, so you just place it lightly on the center of his forehead, where he liked being soothed the best. “Good boy. Good boy, Caspian. You’re so good. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry. Good boy.” You break off into a sob, and then realize that maybe, maybe Caspian can actually still hear you, maybe he’s not quite gone, and if he can, maybe he shouldn’t hear your keening as his final sounds. That’s not a peaceful sound. Maybe it will scare him. You can hold it together for a few more moments.
“You’re the best boy. Good boy. Shhhh, shhhh. Yes. Good boy. You are the best, and there’s nobody better. I’m sorry. You are so good.” Your voice comes out almost calm, almost soothing, although you don’t know how you’re managing it.
His breaths are gone now, and lips pulled back from his teeth. Steam rises from his mouth, but it’s from his heat, not his breath. His eyes are glassy. He gives a cough, like the vet warned he would. Once. Twice. Three times.
The vet is kneeling on the other side of that sloping rib cage. “There’s no heartbeat.”
“Good boy,” you say, and you run a hand over his long, furry ear. He hated that in real life, but what does it matter now?
The vet helps you get his halter off. You’re going to donate it to a nearby horse rescue. He asks if you want to save some of his tail, and you lie and say you already did.
The truth is that you don’t want the responsibility of it, or the memory. You’re scared that all you’ll see of it is his death, and how you should have been able to help him, but you couldn’t.
He deserved to be 33, not 13. What a stupid disease. What a stupid end for such a good, good horse.
The tarp you got is ridiculously huge, and it takes the three of you to get it right.
The vet gives you a hug as he leaves, but you suck at hugs in the best of times, so it’s a quick, awkward thing. You can’t decide if you want to fling yourself on the nearest person and sob into them or whether your skin is twitching at the intrusion of being touched.
The Bean has his hand on your shoulder again, as awkward at comforting as you are receiving it, and it makes you feel oddly better.
“I’m sorry, Becky. I’m really sorry,” he says, and when he does his voice has tears in it. You don’t know why, but it feels like a gift, and that helps too.
The vet backs his truck out of the driveway, and you sink on the stairs and hold your head and sob. It’s easier, now that it’s over, but it’s still so stupid, and just so useless. Why do we even have horses, if it has to end with impossible decisions like this?
That last night in the stall, as you picked through the shavings, one of your boys looked up at you and said in a quiet voice, “If we were rich… like, if we had a million dollars, could we save Caspian?”
“No,” you reply simply, and it’s the truth. The horse uveitis groups are filled with eye surgeries and implants, but you just don’t think it would have worked for Caspian.
You wanted to do right by Caspian, and spare him unnecessary pain, and you did that. It was quick, and oddly peaceful. Even the vet commented on it. He wasn’t hurting. He wasn’t scared. His friends were right there. Reverie was calling for him, and he felt so at ease with everything that he didn’t even bother calling back. He still had unchewed fresh green grass in his mouth when he went, and he didn’t fight it. He really did just go to sleep, with the sun on his back and a half-finished bucket of grain to his side, and expecting to go back to his stall at the end of another routine vet visit.
And that was the best gift you could give him, but you’re surprised to find that it doesn’t make you feel any better at all. Your brain can mutter all the cliches it wants, but it doesn’t make your heart hurt any less.
Because your friend is there, under a tarp in your yard, and it just really, really sucks.
“No, you can’t have Halloween candy for breakfast.”
“Why in the heck are you….no, you can’t eat cereal on the couch! Go sit at the kitchen table.”
“Aww, I love you, too.”
“GO STAND ON THE WALL!”
“No flossing…yes, I know it’s just a dance move. I don’t care. I’m tired of watching it.”
“Sure, you can ride your bike down the street. Look both ways before crossing…Hey! Come back and get your helmet!”
“GO STAND ON THE WALL! NO ELECTRONICS FOR A WEEK!”
“What are you eating? No, you can’t have those. Those are school snacks! I know you’re hungry- why do you think I’m standing in front of the stove, cooking? School snacks are expensive, and dinner’s almost ready. Put it back. I don’t care if it’s half-eaten, I’ll put it in a ziplock baggie and you can take it with you tomorrow.”
“Quit flossing. If you flossed your teeth as much as you flossed your butt, you’d never have a cavity.”.
“You had a bad dream? Go pee first, then come lay down. Yaaawwwwn. Night, sweetie. I love you, too.