Birds, Behavior, and Wine

What a gorgeous day to simply do nothing. I mused over how dramatic the sky looked today, as dark clouds moved quickly overhead, and then disappeared just as quickly. I cannot sit in the sun because I have had skin cancer bouts a few times and I need to avoid sun rays. However, my patio allows me to sit in the shade and enjoy the intense greenery surrounding my neighborhood. The cherry tree that stands just a few feet from my patio has already grown this Spring, about a foot in width. I love that tree for its ragged limbs and emerald leaves. The birds love it too, which is why we placed our bird feeder close to it. A Redwing Blackbird squawks and screeches his high-pitched call as he eats the finch seed ring. Fortunately for the Goldfinches, I have a niger seed feeder that the Redwing can’t get to. The Bluejays have found our feeder now. Their sky blue feathers streak across our yard as they sky dive to the feeder, grab a seed, and then disappear into the cherry tree. My favorite bird is the Mockingbird, though, because his songs are beautiful and because I get a kick out of how his copy of the Bluejay raucous voices confuses them.

I wonder about the noisy Bluejays, all their bluster and bravado appear to be a false front for their true nature. They are afraid of the Mockingbird, and the Woodpecker, and also move away from the Robins. They kind of remind me of the men toting their rifles at the courthouse: so brave with their war gear, noisy screaming, and stuck out chests. I seriously wonder who those men are that they hide behind their masks and their false strengths. If approached by people with better principles and inner-strength I suspect those cowardly rifle toting men would back down, just like the Bluejays. They are all up-front noise because in actuality they are afraid of everything and everyone different than them. They are afraid of black people, Hispanic people, Asian people, women of all colors, and loss of their “liberty.” They have no regard for what their behavior causes to befall others. They simply don’t care, until they are confronted with the reality of death as it affects themselves and those close to them. So, they are harmless Bluejays to me, and I chuckle at their noisy, harmless bravado.

I am rightly annoyed now, as I had written a lovely paragraph about the evening, the noises intruding on my thoughts from the nearby road caused by a shift in the wind, and my resentment that civilization has interfered with my comfortable enjoyment of a perfect Spring day. I don’t know where that paragraph disappeared to, but I hate that I lost such great writing!

So, it’s a Bota Pinot Noir night again. I think I’ll go for a Kendall Jackson Chardonnay tomorrow night.

Weather, Horses, Wine

I wonder how many people are complaining about the weather? May is presenting us with weather that we should have enjoyed in December. It’s cold, windy, gloomy, and not suitable for outdoor activities. Which made it very uncomfortable at the barn this morning.

Chuck and I met the horse chiropractor early today. (At least it was early for us! We are retired, you know.) Trees bending, leaves blowing, a wind tunnel blasting thru the old wooden barn, just plain miserable. Reo had been brought in, and was neighing as he heard our voices; however, it’s not like he whinnied for us, personally. He was really calling to us because of the carrots, snacks, and grain we always bring. Reo got the royal treatment today. The chiropractor adjusted his spine, realigned his right shoulder, stretched his neck, and manipulated his stifle, among other things. Reo loved it! Give him a carrot, a massage, lots of praise, and end with alfalfa cubes and he doesn’t care what the weather’s like. But I did. I was shivering in my double shirts, down vest, hooded sweatshirt, and wool socks. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

After returning Reo to his pasture, we drove home to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and nourishing oatmeal. While my horse’s life was certainly pleasant, and I was happy I could get that treatment for him, I was quickly brought back to the reality of human hardship when I turned on the TV and viewed the staggering toll this Covid virus is taking upon our nation. The human loss is beyond comprehension. My mind pictures a stadium of 80,000 people cheering for a football game and realize the enormity of those 80,000 plus lives removed from this earth. It is beyond the comprehension of most people, and that is perhaps why so many don’t understand the folly of ignoring the pleas of our scientists to remain diligent. No one believes that they could be part of that stadium of death.

I mull over this tragic scenario, and wonder when it will end and if I will become one of the stadium dead. I do not intend to tempt fate so I will continue to follow the six foot distancing recommendation, wear a face mask in public if I must go inside an establishment, and spend lots of time outdoors, even if it is unpleasantly chilly.

And, I will enjoy each evening with a glass of Pinot Noir, as I am doing right now.

My Thoughts, and Evening Wine.

I’ve read a number of thoughts from folks who agree with my own opinions, that it’s kind of early to return to normal behavior since Covid is still attacking us, and thus, we are still at war. I have also read thoughts from those who totally disagree with me and think we’d better get back to business now, right now! Personally, I wish we would never return to normal human behavior and thereby give the earth, and the other living creatures that share this planet with us, some more time to recuperate from our disastrous caretaking of planet earth. But that is ridiculous, I know, and not very kind, either. We are mostly not evil people, just a bit careless and thoughtless about how everything we do, individually, affects everything surrounding us.

I am reminded of the Vietnam era, when young people protested the government’s action in a war we should not have been involved in. Those young people turned out to be right, we should not have spent 56,000 young lives fighting a war that meant nothing to us in the end. Lots of protesting about a disastrous situation and four students killed by the National Guard for standing up for their beliefs. (Back then no guns were carried by protesters.) Now our young people are protesting because “they can’t go to the beach, or get their toenails done, or drink at the local bar.” But yet, I admit, life has changed and these things mean as much to the present generation as the war protests did to those of us in the 1950’s and 6o’s.

Who am I to say that what I consider shallow is actually important to those standing on the corner protesting today? If today’s protesters do not believe that 75,000 plus dead people are important, and instead believe that the money they are not earning and the livelihoods they have lost are worth more than those deaths, then so be it. I have lived thru past national and world struggles, and now today’s generations must learn how to face new disasters occurring throughout our nation and world. That is how it’s always been. I hope they are up for the challenges.

Meanwhile, I will feel saddened by my own husband’s sorrow at what he believes is lost; by the fear that he and I will be one of those sacrificed by my country; that the political leaders of this nation have lost their way and care naught about the strength and fortitude great nations must create in order to be majestic in the end. Yes, I am saddened, but I will not relinquish my own hope in a future that humankind will do the right thing and learn to live with less and care more about life than about abundance.

Now, for that evening glass of wine, which tastes especially good on this very cool night.

Water, Wine and Patios

At this moment I am sitting on a metal and mesh chair on my patio. The bird feeder is about 20 feet away and I am enjoying viewing the gold finches, chickadees and mourning doves. Soon the cardinals with their brilliant red feathers will visit my feeder, along with the Downey woodpecker that likes my suet block. I am drinking my evening glass of water, which will soon be traded for the boxed Pinot noir. I had to come outside to avoid the national news my husband has on the television. Same old news, night after night. People dying, people protesting, people shopping for “essentials,” such as the meat they are sure will no longer be available.

I’d rather listen to the lovely song of the wren sitting in the pine tree. She has no agenda other than to entertain other birds, and me. My two dogs are lying at my feed, although Chloe, the Corgi mix, likes to jump up and pretend growl every time she hears or sees a bird or shadow nearby. It’s quite okay with me, because she’s sweet and adorable.

It is a beautiful evening here in northern Kentucky, azure blue sky and a few fluffy cumulus clouds drifting by. A slight breeze moves the pansies and million bells hanging nearby. All so peaceful while turmoil takes place throughout my country. I am saddened by the covid virus and it’s impact on the lives of people all over the world. It seems that my countrymen are self-absorbed and believe they are the only people who have suffered and must contend with this virus. My countrymen are showing their lack of concern of what is evolving throughout this earthly planet. Somehow we Americans have forgotten that we share this planet with others and we have become totally absorbed with ourselves, our own selfish trials. Perhaps that is human nature, but I find it hard to comprehend that so little thought has been given to what our behavior causes to humanity on a whole.

The little reddish brown wren is singing loudly right now, breaking into my thoughts. An annoying gnat is also interrupting my tirade against my fellow man. This is good, because it’s time for me to pour that glass of wine and begin to relish this gorgeous evening and mull over the positive things surrounding me. I really don’t hate human beings, I just wish they were more like these beautiful birds: full of song and harmony and a simple love of life.

And now a sip of this tasty red wine and peace.

Wine and Thoughts

I am not sure what wine has to do with my thoughts today, except that I am sipping a boxed Pinot noir that is pleasant but not very exciting, kind of like my life. Each day during this stay at home pandemic crisis I am thankful my life is just pleasant and not exciting. I am not sick; thus far members of my family are not sick; nor are my animals sick. I am very fortunate to be among the folks that don’t mind staying home, working crosswords, reading, vacuuming, and such.

But what of those folks who don’t seem to be so lucky? I drive south on Highway 27 to the countryside to visit Reo and see heavy traffic on the road and I wonder, where are they going if they’re not working? Surely they’re not all going to see their horse, like me! So, if no one is working, and everyone is supposed to be staying home, what the heck is everyone doing? Ahh. I see where they’re headed. To Walmart to find toilet paper. But I see them at Home Depot, too. And at Kroger’s, and the pet store, and the nursery. Everyone is shopping, and no one is wearing a face mask.

So why have our doctors and health care workers been working ungodly hours trying to save lives if so few of us don’t care? I just can’t figure it out. Almost 70,000 of my countrymen and women have died, and no one seems perturbed by this huge loss. At any moment now, one million people in this country will contract this virus, and yet gun toting fools carry on like terrorists at the Michigan statehouse threatening their governor because she is trying to save their and their families lives. Crazy, really.

Believe me, I get that people need to earn money in order to live, and that the single moms out there are frightened, and that the “economy” is important. I understand. But people, it’s only been two months. Your government should have helped you manage this financial crisis until we whip this disease, and your federal government has simply failed you, and now your scared, and you think it’s okay to carry war weapons on your shoulders so you can work again, and maybe die in the process.

I’m not okay with dying, even if I’m older than you. I am not okay with a three month old baby dying from this virus, nor am I okay with teenagers having covid strokes and heart attacks. I think your protests should be directed toward your tax collecting federal government for failing to financially protect you, not toward your state governors who are trying to keep you alive.

Oh well, this boxed wine liberates my thoughts, and besides, it’s rather tasty. And, I am here, alive.

Writing memories

Writing has always been a way for me to express my thoughts. While I had The Old Horse to write about, it was easy to find words because he was such a part of my life and easy to talk about. I find myself at a loss of words now because memories of actual life often bring me sadness. I want to bring forth happy memories, however it seems I am always drawn to melancholy events. I have experienced great joy in my life while also moments of extreme sorrow. Since this is my blog, since The Old Horse is gone in body, since my topic for this blog was originally about the horses and me GROWING OLD Together, I intend to keep it titled as is and move on to topics that pertain to an aging body, an aging brain, and the joys and perils of a life lived. And, of course, I will still write about my paint horse, Reo, who remains alive and well.

SAYING GOODBYE

Sometimes it’s just too hard to put words down on paper, and so this blog has been silent for awhile. I am filled with grief over the loss of The Old Horse, Buddy. All these years of being a part of my life, with only a few separations, and now, finally, the separation is final. He died in the pasture he shared with Reo, but it was an unpleasant ending on a gloomy day in mud and pain, not what I had always planned for his final days. How sad that after all the years together with me spoiling him and caring for him, that I could not make his final hours better and peaceful. It is unfortunate that we cannot go back in time and salvage the regretful times and make them purer and more acceptable. Both my husband and I were with The Old Horse until he took his last breath. We believe he knew we were there, but that doesn’t stop the pain we felt as we lost him. My tears are for him, for me, and for my husband. Buddy is buried in a beautiful valley between a river and a creek, amidst beautiful trees and pastureland. It is a place we would like to have our ashes spread when our time comes, along with the ashes of our beloved dogs, and thereby join The Old Horse in whatever lies ahead.

We began to heal and remember moments we had shared, and then our beautiful aged dog, Jake, told us it was time for him to leave us, too. We did not want to believe him at first, but gradually his unhappiness with life bore down on us and we accepted that he was ready to join our other pets and leave us. We have not been able to stop our grieving yet, but we will, I know. It is very hard to look around and not see his big hairy body taking up all the room in our small condo. I somehow cannot convey how much I loved these animals and how much a part of my existence they had become. I am told their memories will bring me happiness and laughter, but right now I find that impossible to fathom as I hurt so very much.

They are physically gone, and I accept that part, but my heart hurts and my tears flow. I do understand that sometime in the future I will cope with this massive loss and look around and take pleasure in my family; in my two happy rescue dogs, Chloe and Nellie; and in our paint horse, Reo. They are all proof that living is good and a future awaits. But for now, I grieve.

BACK WITH ME

I finally brought The Old Horse, Buddy, back with me, where I can care for him and take pleasure knowing he is close by. I am happy and feeling as if this life change we recently made is complete. We are all here now: Chuck, me, our three dogs and both horses. It is a good feeling.

I made arrangements for Buddy to be picked up and felt excited but totally in control of my emotions, that is until the trailer pulled up and The Old Horse began acting up. Imagine this…a 32 year old horse prancing and neighing because I was leading him away from his girl, Bella! His last week at his Lexington home had been pretty dramatic. Another mare came in to share the pasture with Bella and him. It was more than his maleness could handle. He tried his best to keep the new mare away from Bella, while at the same time he was intrigued with the new female entering his life. What to do?

So he ran around as he had when he was two years old, forgetting that his 32 year old horse legs were full of arthritis, and managed to keep both mares separated. He kept Bella to himself, and still eyed the new mare, deciding if she was to become part of his herd or was a true interloper. For seven days he carried on, losing weight and inflaming his arthritic knees. A rescue was in order.

After arriving at the barn, and enticing him into the barn, I attempted to calm him and wrap his legs for traveling. He was having none of that. He ran circles around me, he neighed loudly, threw his head around, and ignored my presence by pulling on the lead line and testing my muscle strength! I am not as strong as I once was, being old like him, and did not want to fight him, since he would have won by sheer size and strength. I determined that Bella had to be brought in to the barn with Buddy to calm him. Once she was in her stall next to him, he began to relax and allowed me to apply the shipping wraps on his legs.

I remained steady throughout, although I must admit I began to realize my nerves were quite reactive. I was not going to allow this situation to get away from me. Calmness was called for, and calmness was what I brought forth from within. When the trailer arrived, I attached the lead line to his halter and thought to myself that I needed more control. Rather than just the lead line I ran a stud chain over his nose for better control. In the 30 years Buddy has been with me, I may have used the stud chain three times, but I believed for my safety and his mental state, it was necessary now. We walked, kind of, down the lane to the trailer and the van driver took the Old Horse from me and led him into the very spacious trailer. Buddy followed his years of training and went in to the trailer properly with no problems. His journey to his new, and last, home began.

Now my calmness was beginning to waiver as I traveled the one and half hour drive to StoneRidge Stables. Was Buddy’s old body going to handle all this trauma; would he survive another change in his life; would he be able to get over the loss of Bella? Those questions are yet to be answered.

Upon arriving at his new home, he unloaded quietly and immediately began eating grass. He appeared to be okay as we put him in his new stall, eating the hay offered and looking out over the stall door. I relaxed.

By the next morning his week of studly behavior, and the trailer ride, showed their dramatic effects upon him. His arthritic knees and hocks were inflamed, stiff, and locked up. He could barely stand, was definitely in pain, and also experiencing gut pains, probably an ulcer brought on by his frantic behavior last week. The only thing we could do for him was give him Bute, and turn him out in the grassy field to walk about. It was the right decision, as the next day his appetite appeared and he enjoyed his grain, drank lots of water, and did not show gut pains. Of course, the arthritis did not disappear. He walked stiff legged, but he did not hesitate to go out in the pasture with Reo. What happened upon their greeting is another story. Nothing is as simple as we like.

Thinking About Buddy

So, here I go again. I have been thinking this over, off and on now, for two months. Should the Old Horse Buddy stay where he is, or should he join me here where I think he belongs? I have decided he belongs near me in his ending years. He is well-fed at my friends; but he is not cared for; i.e., groomed and given treats, and checked for sores, and so on. Are those things important to the Old Horse? I truly don’t know, but they’re important to me. I want to perform those things for him.

I visited him yesterday, and he appeared pleased to see me. His knees were definitely stiff, but he walked strongly through the tall grass and rocky terrain. I led him to the barn and into his stall, and he relished finishing off his morning senior feed. He really enjoyed my grooming him, as he quietly stood while I scrubbed off his dusty loose hair and dried mud with the bristle brush. Hair and dirt flew over his body and onto my clothing, and into my nose, causing me to sneeze. When I stopped brushing, he bent his head back and rubbed my hand to continue on, which I did.

Suddenly he heard Bella in the pasture behind the barn, and he became agitated at his separation from her. He nickered, and nudged my hand to encourage me to lead him back out to the field. I fastened the lead line to his halter and he gently pushed me aside as we approached the gate. He did, however, take the time to nose my pocket for hidden treats before he walked through the open gate to join Bella and Toby.

I began to think that perhaps he might be more relaxed and content if he didn’t have to worry about that mare all the time. He was much more relaxed when he lived with only geldings. I wish I could ask him if being “love sick” all the time wasn’t a burden on his psyche? And then I remembered how Reo was so uptight when he was around mares, and became so much mellower she placed with only geldings. My thoughts are that perhaps Buddy also would be more relaxed living with Reo and his pasture mates. But would the trauma of separation be too difficult for a horse his age?

I’m going to find out and move him up here to live at StoneRidge with Reo, where I can check on him a few times a week rather than once a month. I think I’m doing the right thing. Time will tell.

Leaving Childhood

When I was a child I thought old people were kind of different, but lovable. I wondered what it would feel like to be old, with leathery skin and scant hair. I am no longer a child; I am the old person, and I do hope I’m lovable. But I do find myself grumpy, not feeling lovable, and having leathery skin. However, I do not have scant hair…I have plenty of hair, except my eyebrows. They are almost invisible until I put a little brow pencil to them. It’s amazing how much better a face looks with eyebrows!

As a child, waking up in the middle of the night usually meant a sad or monster dream, and mother would be there to comfort me. Now waking up means my joints and muscles hurt, or I dreamt about forgetting an important event or job or responsibility. There is no one to comfort me as I arise from bed and head to the medicine cabinet to take some Tylenol and rub cannabis salve on my aching arthritic joints. Then back to bed to feel the pain slowly ebb as the medicine begins it’s work. And sleep comes.

As a child I believed I would always be capable of performing any act I chose. I could run; I could jump; I could sleep under the stars and watch the moon’s face change throughout the night. I cannot run or jump any longer, but by God, I can still watch the moon’s face change as I look skyward in the night from my patio chair.

I rode my horses freely and without fear as a child. I galloped them, and swam with them, and felt joy in their dancing antics. I no longer ride freely, as fear enters this old mind and falling is no longer a small matter. Where once a torn face and scarred leg did not matter, now a slight bump brings bruising that lasts for weeks rather than days. And yet, the joy of sharing life with a living creature overcomes the fear and I find myself, if only for a few moments, being the child that gleefully embraces the freedom of living life upon a horse and being part of another world.

Being old is not what I thought it would be when I was a child looking at old people. It is much more complicated than I anticipated, and the lines on my face register the years of loss and happiness, of deep love, and of experiences that tested my mettle. I am not sad at being old; but I am sad at losing the child I once was.