Out of my element….

I have been trying to get out and take more photos lately with my 35mm and not just the Iphone. I had gotten a new Nikon a couple years ago and shelved my Canon(i felt my Canon had issues)- then my daughter began to use it and I loved the photos she was getting out of it. I thought maybe I had been too hard on that Canon but I had the Nikon and I felt I needed to move on. Plus the daughter had it and I didnt want to confiscate it from her if she was going to use it.

Well fast forward to a few months ago when I found the Canon sitting alone on my daughters shelf. She hadn’t given up photography but shelved it (sorry had to go there) for a while. So I thought why not take that Canon out for a spin. But I took it down and forgot about it for a while. Until my son’s soccer began.

Let me get something straight I am not a sports photographer. I have never been good at shooting any sport. I had a class in photography years ago and I had an assignment to take pictures of sport. I think I chose racquetball (it was when that was a fad). I don’t have any photos left from that assignment bc I am fairly certain I burned all of them. They were really bad. But since then I have taken thousands of photos of my kids sporting events- horse shows, soccer and more soccer, basketball, swimming etc. Not all of the pictures came out badly but they werent great. See I took all those photos bc it was a way for me to deal with my anxiety. I have an anxiety disorder and being in crowds watching my kids play sports was really overwhelming for me. Get me in a gym watching basketball and I about came out of my skin. The noise, the buzzers- it was just sensory overload for me. I stayed behind the camera bc it gives me something to focus on (and through) which seems to stave off the anxiety.

It is amazing that I can do something like shooting pictures where I feel so out of my element in order to squash another issue I have that makes me feel so out of my element. It is like when you are somewhere where you feel out of your element and you DO something that you feel is out of your element the two together can equal calm… I am not sure why this is but it works for me. I think it might be very different if some fool actually hired me to take sports pictures. I’d be a mess! Probably wouldn’t show up.

A while back I read an article online about taking decent sports shots and some of the tips were helpful – esp the one about having the ball in the picture…ahh makes sense why that might be a good idea. (I had many pics prior to this with no ball in it – some might work but others looked like some kid standing waiting for something to happen) – only interesting to the kids parents probably.

So I pulled the Canon out when I was heading to one of our sons soccer games. I have a longer lens for that camera. Wouldn’t you know shooting with the Canon felt like I had an old friend with me. I have never been as comfortable with my Nikon…it takes nice pictures but I am too slow on changing settings on the fly with it. Nice slow shots like flowers and such are ok bc I can putter with it. When I got home from the game and looked at the pictures I was happy with them in terms of the color..I felt like the Canon had been washing out colors and that is why I got a Nikon. Seems like I was wrong. The actual action shots were just ok to me- but I thought I would share them with the team parents since I put them on my OneDrive up in the cloud (so cool is the cloud). Wasn’t it so nice to later get emails thanking me for the photos – some even said they were good. One dad asked about the size of my lens–hmmm personal right?

I am so glad the parents seem to like them. And since it is easier for me to hide behind my camera (I still get a cheer in here or there!) I suppose I will keep this up. And I am finding that taking sports photos isn’t so bad. I am actually liking the results. So I am learning that its ok to be out of your element – you keep pushing through it and all at once you feel comfortable.

Thanks for reading…

Here are some shots from a few different game. I tossed one in of Rudy as he attends many games with me!:




I realize the longer I am a parent the less I know about parenting.   I wonder if other parents feel this way. I remember being a younger mom and getting in discussions about  the best child products like diapers and sippy cups, and I had my opinions on proper kid bedding,potty training, and how to handle tantrums. I would freely sit in those conversations where moms sometimes try to one-up each other on all things kid related – the pow wows where moms bond (and we did – we needed each other)…but I don’t do this anymore. I don’t have any opinions for you I have no clue what I am doing!  What I lack in knowledge I make up in tenacity.  I keep on trying.

My son Ozzy who I have written about on occasion has some special needs.  We adopted him when he was 2 1/2 yrs old. Early on we saw he was brilliant and he was different. He was more difficult than my other two kids who are also adopted. You couldn’t direct him the way you might direct other kids.  He is wired differently. He has had me baffled for years on how to motivate him, how to effectively discipline him, how to be the best parent to him that I can be. Frankly I was at my wits end last fall. I had no tactics left – nothing seemed to be motivating this very smart 14 year old kid. He had some bad vices that he liked very much but were not good for him – but at 14 you just don’t see the big picture. He was not trying in school. A child that consistently scored on the high school level on testing in grade school was now in high school and didn’t feel motivated to get good grades. He was angry – and showed it. I was hard pressed to find things about him I liked- but I did love him. Take away all my frustrations and hurt and anger and there was love.

I know God brought this child to our family for many reasons. I have often looked up at the sky and wondered why did you pick me to parent him? I am not equipped. My husband felt the same. But God knows what he is doing even when we do not see it..and I trusted in that knowing. I turned to my blog to vent and to reach out. Some of my venting was not well received but some people who had been in the same trenches as I reached out and helped me. And it is amazing what a little support can do. Realizing you are not the only person who sometimes doesn’t like their kid and sometimes want to throw your hands up and just give it all up is so comforting in an odd way.

The support was manna from heaven. God knows what he is doing. With a sense of renewal and some information in hand I moved forward to get some help for my son. As parents, we know that sometimes all we can do is present our children with opportunities but they are not always going to take them…it is the old you can lead a horse to water adage. With Ozzy I felt like my husband and I  had dangled the proverbial carrot in front of his nose thousands of times to no avail. We then resorted to consequences and had gotten little improvement. I just wasn’t sure what else to do but I was not prepared to do nothing…so I figured out that maybe we hadn’t dangled the right type of carrot in front of him.

Most teens know when you are trying to manipulate them as they typically have learned the art of manipulation as they have entered the world of social dynamics beginning probably before the 5th grade and by the time they hit high school they know when someone is trying to use reverse psychology on them. Ozzy was immature for his age and once in a while I could use reverse psychology on him but you just never knew how it might turn out. I really had nothing left – I was so lost on how to help him-I was tired of yelling and tired of threats  and lectures.  I figured I only had one thing left – honesty.  I began to use honesty…not brutal in your face honesty – which  am very capable of. I did not want not put him on the defense. I decided to just talk to my kid with compassion and respect and to see where that got me. It’s hard bc it can become a lecture especially if you sense the child isn’t really listening.  I had to temper myself and try not to get mad if he wasn’t receiviing what I was saying. I’m not patient so this was a good lesson for me. Let me tell you that these occasions are when I am on my best behavior – I still have my bouts of anger and frustration but I have learned that that really does nothing but make the people involved more angry and nothing gets fixed. Basically I am just a parent who is trying to be a better parent -not a perfect one.

In the long run Ozzy has to decide what he wants for himself in his life. I can lay out opportunities and I can be honest with him about his choices and possible outcomes – and he can choose whether to receive it. I can introduce ideas to him and hope he takes bite.  He has huge potential but he needs to see that. So I began to help him to see it. I can try to show him opportunities that he might take but the rest is up to him. Any triumphs are his and his alone though I will bask in the light of these triumphs as a proud mom should do – and any failures are also his…but he will never fail alone because as every parent knows we feel every single one even if they don’t.

And Ozzy has been triumphant and he has had setbacks. But I think we are seeing the triumphs outweigh the setbacks. I see that something has shifted in him. He isn’t as angry – he isn’t as closed off. He smiles more. He goes down to our gym and worksout bc he wants to be strong. He got on the honor roll last quarter. He joined a club that he loves – Robotics. It really made his experience in high school thus far bearable. He is becoming my kid that will try new things that might be out of his comfort zone but he jumps in anyway. He is quite amazing. He just joined the Civil Air Patrol and he is elated. With his interest in Engineering he wants to learn more about Aeronautics. 

He still has to balance that ying and yang. He maybe has matured enough to recognize that  some of his vices could have long term issues for him. The more he realizes we worry about his choices bc of how it can effect him and not because we are mean and don’t want him to have fun the more he will realize that to rebel is really hurting him.   He’s trying to learn impulse control and that is hard for a person who has attention deficit problems. 

I joked the other day to his Civil AIr Patrol leader that I am Ozzy’s manager.  But it’s a position I’m proud to have. It’s been a journey and I am a changed person because of it. God puts people in our lives for a reason -he thinks my husband and I are up to the challenge of raising this boy – and it has been a challenge on many days but it’s also a joy.  I pray every day that Ozzy will keep having triumphs that encourage him. I hope that he embraces love in his life and he realizes how much he is loved -even when we are upset with him.  I hope he sees that we are his biggest fans even though parents may seem to be buzz kills sometimes. 

It can be hard being a parent. I have reached the end of my rope many times with Ozzy and I have been baffled by what to do next- but somehow God has brought me support and love even though I’m not the perfect parent.  I don’t know what the end of the story will be for Ozzy. But I’d do know that I’m going to try to make the chapters I am part of building blocks for later chapters that  I hope will include more triumphs than setbacks. 

Thanks for reading. 


Strangers in the night – the three amigos

We had porch visitors last night. This might explain why two of our dogs got out of our yard the other night. They must have seen these two prowlers.  We will be spending much time this week shoring up the fence. You think you’ve secured the perimeter but then all it takes is one smart dog(Pierce) to figure out the easy way out. All was well. Lemon and Rudy alerted us to the escape and both dogs came to us when called. All was well but we have to get the fence made into a fortress I suppose!

Back to our visitors. They were in the form of cats- plural. Remember, we only have one barn cat. And I wrote previously about the little visitor we saw from afar a few weeks ago. Now the last time I saw this cat it was smaller but the white markings were very visible as in the photo below. But we have had another visitor too and I do not think they were the same cat as I saw no white marking- I will get to that in a minute.

When I first saw them on the porch I didn’t realize that the giant ball of puff in the front (see picture below) was Mango our barn cat that we’ve had four years. I thought it was another cat bc she never comes up to the front of the house. At least I thought she never did. Sitting so very nicely at the edge of the porch behind Mango was her new friend Will Feral who we have yet to meet. When you go into the barn you only meet up with Mango not a sign of another cat. I keep listening for any noise that would alert me – but cats are stealth.

Mango and her new friend must have been up to no good. Why on earth would they just sit on the porch looking into our window? I hate that window!  In order to watch TV you have to sit with your back to it and the couch is right up against the wall. I sometimes feel that if we were in a horror flick someone could crash their hands through that window and grab me. In our other home our couch was up against a huge window and I never worried about the hand thing. Maybe bc that window faced the fenced in back yard and this weird window opens to the porch..I don’t know but it has unnerved me since we got here. And I am right to feel leery bc now menacing nocturnal felines are staring in at us. We spent a minute or so looking back at them and I took the pictures and they became leery of us (the nerve) so they ran off to stare at something else.

My dumb dogs never even registered that they were there…these are the same dogs that go ape when they hear a branch brush against the house..or the doorbell on the TV. Just as well bc they would have wanted to head out back to probably scale the fence in chase of their nemesis (s) – How does one make that plural?.

And it gets better – the other night we saw a cat outside the barn but it wasn’t the cat in the picture here. This one was bigger and all black. I got a photo of that cat too- see the last photo below. I guessed the bigger cat was a male bc in the barn there is an odor of male cat spray. If you have smelled a male cat spray then you know it when you smell it! Pungent! My other clue -the food is getting eaten much faster! They better be good mousers!

So it appears we have three cats. The three amigos. Two ghosts and one real one. Perhaps the ghosts will come to meet us sometime. Well one got as close as the front porch so we are getting somewhere. Anyway. I’m happy that Mango has a friend or two. She has been alone since last May and I had thought about getting her a barn cat friend but we just hadn’t found the time to get one and acclimate it to the barn etc. It appears my dreams of getting her a friend came true.

That’s what I love about living on the farm. Things are always changing. I like the dynamic of something always going on. So now we have a new cat or two. Well they aren’t really ours – the farm is theirs to prowl and they will stay if they like it enough I suppose. Barn cats are funny. We had one that up and moved next door when he found out we had a rooster. Well I am only guessing thats why he left- but his departure closely followed my hen beginning to crow- “honey that’s not a hen” I told my husband. There will always be food and water so it must be better than some other digs they might find themselves in. At least we know Mango has some friends and that’s a nice thing for her. Maybe we will actually meet our ghost cats sometime in the daylight. And I hope the new ones are male – Mango is fixed but if the others are male and female we don’t want the three amigos(though I have yet to see all three together) to turn into multiple amigos! I will keep you posted!

Thanks for reading.

The other cat !

The other cat ! This cat appears to have no white.

When things could have gone very wrong but didn’t. 

Today began like any other day -kids up and out the door to school. Today Kevin had to be at a conference all day so he left early. I had a lot of work to do but took my time doing some housework and catching up on Facebook.

At just before noon I decided to have some lunch and my dogs wanted to go out so I put them out in the yard. What I recall was letting just the three boys out and not Lemon. She has been having issues with Pierce so she doesn’t always go outside with him. I thought she was in my bedroom on the bed. It was a beautiful balmy day and the dogs were romping on the deck and I heard them barking in the yard. I ate my lunch and tended to some business. I got up a bit later to take my plates to our small kitchen area to put in the dishwasher. As I lifted my head up from leaning toward the washer I looked out our window in our dining area.  That window looks out onto my side yard that is not fenced. But out that window I saw my dog Rudy sniffing around the yard.  I had that weird feeling that I was seeing something wrong but it took a second to click in. CRAp! Rudy is out of the fenced yard. I ran to the front door (happy that the house is small) and called Rudy in calmly. He has great recall thankfully and he came right to me and we came in.

My next concern was if Pierce and Reese were still in the yard. Though I had seen Pierce on the deck a minute before I saw Rudy. I ran to the sliding door to the back yard and both dogs were still in the yard over by my garden probably trying to find a way out (I was thinking this) bc Rudy disappeared from their view. I called them in and gave them all a treat. They all seemed riled up and they all had their turns at the water bowl.

I had to find the breach in the fence because Rudy never leaves me and I was so shocked to see him on the wrong side. Nothing added up. So I took Rudy back out into the backyard and watched where he might go. He stayed near me as usual but I glanced up and saw the problem. Like a giant flashing “here is the problem” sign the double gate to our yard was wide open! Double crap. “What kid left this open?” was my first thought. They had been in the yard using that gate over the weekend. But today is Wednesday. Could the gate have blown open bc they didn’t close it properly? The wind was awful on Saturday. Maybe a kid went in looking for a soccer ball that got kicked in there. I don’t know. That’s a mystery to solve later. Anyway, Rudy looked at me looking at the gate and he went trotting toward it. Thank Gosh he has good recall bc I calmly said “come on roo lets go back in and get another treat.”  He followed me right into the house.

I left the dogs inside and ran back out and took a picture of the open gate to send my husband at his meeting (yeah I’m nice like that). Then I closed the gate. Patted my horse who came over to investigate the scene and then I went around the perimeter to check it out. All seemed secure. Crisis averted.

I came back in then house and told the dogs how happy I was they were ok. I asked them to settle but they seemed riled up still. Settle settle. All is ok. Ding dong!! Goes the doorbell. Ugh -dogs bark and Pierce does his mad jump up to the window as he barks willing the bad person to leave. I was hoping it was just UPS making a delivery. No truck in the driveway that I could see and the dogs were going mad. So I went to check the door (we have a window in the door which is a good and bad thing). As I walked over I saw a woman I didn’t know. She did not look like she was selling anything so I got closer and she pointed down and I looked down through the window and who do I see? Lemon! Holy cow I let her out too and I didn’t even remember it -so I wasn’t looking for her. What a dummy I am! I put Rudy and Reese out (Pierce wouldn’t leave his post ) and got the door open to let Lemon slide in. Now I know why the dogs were so riled up.

I stepped outside to speak with the nice neighbor who I hadn’t met before who lives on the street across from me and behind my neighbors house. We are so lucky that Lemon got safely across our road out front bc the cars travel fast there. Any later in the day and it might not have been good. And I’m thankful she came right up to the neighbor and her dog and she went right home with her. I’m thankful I had an ID on Lemon. I am thankful that  Rudy and my other two dogs didn’t follow her across the road. I am so thankful that the neighbor cared so much. She had called me and I had seen an unknown number pop up on my cell phone when I was dealing with the gate but ignored it. I am thankful she walked Lemon -who is horrible on leash- right to our home. So many things went right when they could have gone very wrong. (I had a friend who lost two dogs together last year due to a car hitting them. Their gate had gotten open and there was a tragic ending. )

I feel terribly that I didn’t recall letting Lemon out. We get so used to being on auto-pilot that I just assumed that she stayed in as she often does. Maybe my not realizing saved me from some sheer panic. But that neighbor must have thought I was nutty! She was very understanding said it happened to her before a bunch of times. I think she meant her dogs getting out. She probably didn’t forget about one entirely. My brain! I assured her that I keep better track of my teens. She smiled and said “and they are much harder to keep track of!”  She left her address on my voicemail. I’m going to send her a card or something. What an Angel.

And don’t you know right after all that the mailman came to give me some special mail. Ding dong goes the door!  Pandemonium all over again. I squeezed myself out the door. Of course I had to tell him what happened and he had his own story too. I didn’t tell him I forgot about Lemon. Too embarrassing!

The Angels were working hard for me today and thankfully my dogs are fine and the gates are all closed and I keep checking them bc the dogs have pent up energy from the happenings today and they want to go out. I will have to have a chat with my kids about gates – and see if we can’t make that gate latch even easier to close. I am assuming it was my kids but I might never know what happened.

Never a dull moment here. I’m so very thankful I am writing this story and not another version. My nerves are rattled – I think I’ll take a walk.

Thanks for reading….

And pandemonium continues with my horse running his big body against the white fencing(I did not choose white plastic fencing for horses it was here when we moved in) it is creaking and I hope he doesn’t crack it. Rudy is stealing my socks and everyone is just acting little nutty. Damn this horse. I have to go and take care of this he must need brushing. It’s shedding season. Thanks again for reading!!


Falling in Love with Charm City

This past weekend Kevin, my husband, and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. Yeah – wow where did that time go right? So for the first time since our first anniversary we went away for the night. No kids! How devine!

When planning the trip I pondered over where to go. I didn’t want to travel too far from home because my kids – all teens- have only been left to their own devices overnight one other time and that was last December when we headed down to see a blues band in Bethesda MD.  Should we head to DC? Maybe Annapolis – or Saint Mikes on the Eastern shore? One place kept popping into my head over and over again. Baltimore, MD….some of you may be a little familiar with B’More as old and industrial (and in the past some may have said dirty) and wonder why we might want to head there. Those that are more familiar with the Baltimore of today might find themselves a little jealous that we got to spend a couple days tooling around the area. It is a really great town!

Baltimore was once the second largest port of entry for immigrants in the United States. In the 1700’s it was a port of entry for the Maryland tobacco trade. The port is still used today for a multitude of imports and exports. Early on it was an industrial town but over the years has be revitalized. Today it is not only have a thriving tourist trade it is also home to some major corporations like Pandora and Under Armor. Baltimore is a very fun place to visit. It has the famous inner harbor that was created in the 19070’s to bring more tourists into the area – but it also houses many great neighborhoods rich in history that are fun to visit.

I loved the inner harbor but I knew there was more to explore. My brother had attended Loyola College in Baltimore and raved about the culture and of course the bar scene that could be found in the city. Nicknamed Charm City as a marketing strategy in the mid 1970’s, the city has become just that. Many neighborhoods have undergone revitalization and many areas of the city are considered trendy places to visit and to live. I wanted to explore the city outside Harborplace (which is great) and Camden Yards (the home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball- and awesome park with unreal food). So I booked a room at the brand new Hyatt Place right near Little Italy and Fells Point.

I can tell you that I was stoked to be getting away for a few days in early spring with just my husband and I . When you can actually leave your kids alone and know they can generally care for themselves (I left them with a crockpot full of Mac and Cheese and cupboards of lot of junky food) it is freeing as…well it’s just freeing! Being away without your kids reminds me of being away before we had kids except that its not quite the same because once you have kids they are like part of you so you never really totally forget them when you leave them. There are the texts checking on things  and when its too quiet (no texts) you begin to worry a little. But for the most part it was Kevin and I – not texting our kids- doing what the heck we wanted. No one (teens) rushing us or complaining that they were bored or hungry or bored or bored.

So here is a bit of our 18 hours in Charm City…

Below is our view from our room at the Hyatt Place – a new hotel- and I would recommend it. When we checked in our room wasn’t ready – no prob- but as it turns out a cheerleading competition at the convention center had the place filled with kids gearing up to compete – I sort of wondered how noisy it would be there. Turns out we had booked a queen room but they only had a king room (I didn’t book a king room bc they didn’t have a king room when I was booking). Did I want a King room? It was on the top floor great view-? Um Yes! And it turns out it was a great room and the views were awesome. And our room was tucked back in the hallway and the rooms are super quiet – I did not hear any cheerleaders!

A room with a view

Looking over at Little Italy


I was like a peeping tom looking inside all these passages!

When we got settled into our room we headed out to see Fells Point. All my years as a bar-hopping party girl had never brought me to this area. I even spent a semester at Towson State University which is right at the edge of the city but never went to Fells Point. My brother had frequented this area and if he reads my blog he might recognize some of the places in the pictures. One cool thing about Fells Point was the cobblestone streets. I wondered how many partiers had fallen or turned an ankle on those streets. They are very cool though.  Turns out in Fells Point there are lots of neat places to see. And great streets perfect for picture taking.


Notice those cobble stone streets…  

I was fascinated by these gated passages. Some had pretty gardens hiding inside and others were bland or messy.

The waterfront is never a disappointment. You can grab a water taxi to get from different neighborhoods. The city also has a free bus line (the Charm City Circulator) that goes between different areas of interest. Notice all the ships in the harbor.        

The bar and restaurant area of Fells point is kitschy and fun. I was so happy to see that youngsters of all ages frequent these establishments. You don’t feel out of place at any age. We saw a number of bachelor and bachlorette parties – I can see why you might pick this area because one need not get into a car and drive from place to place – you can walk to many of the place in Fells Point – or take a water taxi or the bus.  Or….

…you can peddle by your own power and your friends power…

This is one of the many marinas in the city..

A cargo ship with the Domino sugar factory in the background.

Maryland is for Crabs (our old Maryland slogan from years ago). You have to have the token blue crab statue – Maryland is home to the very tasty blue crab.

  A boardwalk area along a water front in Fells Point.

It was a great day to hang outside and many of the local restaurants were packed full with people enjoying the warm day.

A schooner sitting outside the Schooner Inn in Fells Point….

  We walked and walked along the neighborhood streets and were treated to the cutest homes…How could I not photograph these adorable row houses?

THIS is no ordinary church! It is an old church that houses a personal training studio and yoga studio. If I lived in Fells Point I would come here to workout! How serene would it be to workout in an old church? The building’s architecture was lovely…(we couldn’t get inside- bummer!)      

We walked by some newer condo homes and I loved how the light hit the camera in this shot.   We ate dinner at an open air restaurant called Barcocina– and dined on tacos and more tacos. They were a bit spicy for me but it was a nice place to stop and rest for a while.  (I did not get a picture of it- duh Anne?)

This is the view from or room as the sun was setting. There was an O’s game going on and if you look at the real orange in the photo you can just see the stadium lights. We came home for a quick rest and planned on heading out into Little Italy for dessert…you would think we would end up at a wonderful Italian Bakery –no…I had read about another place and heard the food was awesome…and they had bowling so…

Sunset over Baltmore

…..we ended up at Mustang Alleys…What a great place! We didn’t bowl but we had an unreal dessert- okay 2 desserts that we could not finish. Worth every calorie! They even turned on the Nationals game for us! I am going back there.      

OMG….!! It was so good!

Finally we headed back to the hotel for the night..I have been charmed by Charm City. I think it might be love. I was thinking it might be fun to have a little place in the city someday( a pied-à-terre’?). Well one can dream can’t one? Anyway, it really is fun to talk with Kevin about the possibilities.  I am a country girl at heart but there is nothing like stepping out your door and being able to find something cool going on at any hour. No lawn to mow…and there were tons of dogs down there -so there you go! That must have on my list is now checked off.

I am not sure if this photo is scary or neat!


When I get away with my husband it makes me realize that when the kids are gone it won’t be boring. We wont just sit and wonder what to do everyday- we wont be bored with each other. Kevin and I love being together. He is truly my best friend. And its just easy to be with him. He gets me- I get him. I didn’t just fall in love with Charm City last weekend. No that was just a bonus. The best prize is that I fell a little bit more in love with my husband of 16 years. What a blessing he is…


Thanks for reading….

Fat Axe, weak stick

“Your up there now” said my husband, Kevin, yesterday. This was in response to my frustration after attempting to get up onto my horse and freaking failing. Yes I was up there but I could not do it on my own. Kevin had to give me a leg up- and that means push my body up onto the horse. That had never ever been an issue for me until yesterday. I felt old and weak. Tears stung my eyes. “Fat Axe, Weak Stick..” I said to myself.

Yesterday I decided to try to ride – I hadn’t done so for 8 months. A frozen shoulder and then winter were my deterrents. The shoulder is still frozen but it isn’t in the pain phase (frozen shoulders have phases it seems)  and the ground was pretty dry and the outside temp balmy so I felt like I could handle my 1200 lb 15.3 hand horse ok. And I did once I was up there.

Have you ever taken for granted that you can do something physical – maybe like me you have done it hundreds of times before – and then you go to do it and you just can’t? You sit in surprise because you just can’t figure out why your body can’t do what your mind thinks it should be able to do. Well that was me. I could not get myself up on my horse as I had done so many times in the past. I put my leg in the stirrup- at this point I guess I should be happy I could lift it that high- and I grabbed a bit of mane with my left hand in the front of the saddle and I grabbed the back of the saddle  with the right. I knew I had limited strength in my right arm  and i think my shoulder is pretty useless too -but as I went to lift myself up onto the stirrup (and then the plan would have been to throw my right leg over the horse) I realized that there was no leverage, there was no strength- it wasn’t only the arms- it was the legs too. I was unable to get on my horse.

Mounting was never an issue- In the past I could mount a horse when it is walking (they aren’t supposed to walk when you mount but my horse sometimes finds that to be funny). Yesterday he wasn’t walking he was eating grass- another thing he should not do when saddled and bridled up- but I didn’t have the strength to hold the reins and hold his head up and get on the horse. So my hubby held him steady as I went to get on- I cannot even tell you the shock I felt when my body just hit a wall. It was like I was in the twilight zone. I looked around and up and down and shook my head- wondering if i was in an alter universe. I wasn’t dreaming because I felt every weak part of me straining to do the job of getting on the horse. It was super weird. I was very upset.

I have gained some weight over the winter. Not much – some probably was needed (though having been a chubby teen I have the mindset you can never be too thin) and there are about an extra 5 lbs. on me now I would like to shed..but I know the weight wasn’t the issue..I weighed a lot more when I began riding again at age 41. I could get on a horse then and I got on my horse 8 months ago….hmm but now that I think about it I used the mounting block bc my shoulder was beginning to freeze. Well—the time before I got up just fine. So what is the problem? I don’t know except  I suppose it comes from the issues with the shoulder. I was told not to work out my arms while I was in PT trying to unfreeze it. The PT said it could cause an imbalance. I am pretty into exercise and we have our own gym right in our barn bc my husband trains clients. I didn’t like the idea of not working out my upper body at all so I used bands for a bit and now I am using weights again except my shoulder only moves a little bit- but there was a point in the pain stage of frozen shoulder where I could not use my arm much bc it went into spasm and that was soooo painful..like cussing like a sailor and almost falling to the floor painful. So there was a point I really was not doing much work on my upper body and I am surprised how weak I have gotten.  But the old legs weren’t as strong either. I took it easy this winter more than I ever allowed myself before – early on I was depressed and later I was lazy..I could not get it together. So even if I worked out for an hour a day but was a sloth the rest of the day I wasn’t gaining much strength. I have been working out and have picked up the pace lately- I am logging my food intake on a cool app, I have my Fitbit back on and I am trying to get my strength back. But I didn’t realize until yesterday that I had lost the strength to mount a horse. —Umm this is not acceptable to me. It will be fixed.

I managed to curb my frustration enough to have a really good ride on my horse. After he was on mothballs for 8 months ( a term I heard a horse person – more horsey than I am- use once) he came out and behaved very well. I had that zen feeling on him – and all was good with the world except I wondered if I would be able to dismount correctly.  I had no idea but I knew if I got down ok I was getting back on again and again. SO I asked my dear patient husband to go into the barn and bring out my mounting block. We put it in the middle of the round pen and I led Harley over and I dismounted from him with extreme… – what is the opposite of grace- ungrace- yes it was like that.

So for the next 20 minutes I practiced getting up on my horse. He got to nibble on grass and I used the block to get up on him, I lowered the stirrups to their lowest point and tried over and over. I tried mounting from the other side – that feels weird! We had trouble with saddle slippage bc Harley is shedding – I will shave his girth area this week. I practiced climbing up on the round pen fence- what I thought would be easy was so hard. I struggled but I was determined to win. I huffed and puffed but I won some. I was very frustrated and I couldn’t see the good side. I was feeling very sorry for myself. But then my husband looked at me and said- “you rode your horse, you got on. You had a good ride. The best way to train for your sport is to do your sport. Keep doing your sport. Its been 8 months…so now you just ride as much as you can and you will gain your strength.” I realized he was right. Why am I complaining. I got to ride my horse. I can walk to my barn and get on a horse. I can move- I can get stronger. Some people aren’t as lucky.

Today I worked out in the gym and worked on strengthening my weak areas and like my husband said as I do my sport I will get stronger. The shoulder might be a hindrance until it unfreezes or the surgeon does that for me but I am not there yet with the surgery so I will have to learn to adapt to the limitation and stop the bravado and just deal with it. Because it is not really about how I get up on that horse it is about the ride once I am up there. It is about the connection and the freedom only being on the back of your horse can bring. I am nothing but blessed.

Thanks for reading…




He is the best horse for me…




Roy — giving up animals…thoughts about abuse and compassion


Roy was a beautiful Arabian gelding that I purchased as my first horse when he was only one. I had just gotten back into riding in my early 40’s and I had gotten my then 6 yr old daughter into riding as well. I think in my mind I thought we would grow into Roy. You don’t start training Arabs until they are 4 or more years old as they grow slowly. Roy was my step into being a “real” horse person. By the time Roy would be ready for real training I figured my daughter would be horse crazy and would love the challenge of training a green horse. In my mind I pictured her showing him and maybe even me as well if I had the courage.

It turns out I got somewhat impatient waiting for Roy to grow big enough for us to train and ride. I had been leasing an old mare named Shalimar and it was clear she would only take me so far as she was getting very arthritic and really didn’t enjoy much work under saddle. I know it can be good to ride an stiff horse but it became clear she would rather have not been ridden- so I gave up my lease on her and bought an Arab mare- Airy- that I thought would be a good project for me. It turns out Airy was more than I could handle. I was not confident enough to ride the sparky mare. She was quite touchy and spooky and I was always on pins and needles waiting for her to spook and take off with me. It did not help that I fell off her once – a soft fall- but still i fell off her and it didn’t help my confidence on her.

I had fallen for a gaited gelding – Harley- even before I bought Airy but it seemed like the 16 yr old girl who never came to ride him anymore would never give him up. I bought Airy for the wrong reasons – I wanted my own horse (and Harley wasn’t available) – but I didn’t really consider what I needed in a horse. I have learned a lot since those early years of my return to riding about what to look for when buying a horse. But I didn’t know that then so I forged ahead as I usually do dead set on getting what i wanted. And I bought her and she was too much for me.  But then my dream horse came available- Harley – the Gelding I fell for was up for sale and very cheap. I had NO business buying him – we did not need three horses. Harley was not a green horse- he was very rideable (though i had to learn to ride a gaited horse) and I just liked him…we clicked. So we bought him. (just an FYI – buying a horse is only the beginning of the costs associated with them- even a cheap horse is not really cheap – there is training, feed, hay, hoof care, and board if needed and vet care which can be $$$).

It turns out that Harley was the right horse for me. He is still with me and is a nice fun ride. So why is this story named Roy? Roy is the horse we had to give up. As it turns out my daughter decided she didn’t really want to ride anymore. We had begun Roys training and had been training him off and on for a number of years. He should have been further along but my daughters heart wasn’t in it anymore. She was off doing other things and I had Roy left with no time to train him. We had moved Airy and Harley to our farm and had left Roy at the farm where we had been boarding him for years. I did not know what to do with him. He had grown into a beautiful boy. He was smart and wanted to please. A real gem. He had the Arab hotness so he could be spooky but in the right hands he was going to be a fine horse. We needed to find him a home but selling a horse that isn’t trained is not easy.

Eventually I moved Roy to another farm so a friend of mine could train him. As his training progressed we realized that even trained we had too many horses and not enough riders. Keeping him was becoming very expensive – I could have brought him home to my farm though three horses on 4 acres is tight. I really didn’t want to bring him here bc I knew he was a wonderful horse that would just sit here and not be ridden(as was the case with Airy) – he needed more than that. So we decided to give him away. It broke my heart bc I loved him very much. He was probably the brightest of all my horses and the best among them but I had Harley and one was enough for me.

The owner of the farm where Roy was boarding found a new owner for Roy. He was moved again to a farm about a half hour from me. The new owner friended me on Facebook so I could see her posts about Roy. Early on when she got him I read some of the comments under some posts she had written. It became clear to me that people thought Roy was a “rescue” and they assumed he had been mistreated by his former owner. That hurt. Roy was very well cared for from his birth until we had to give him up. I was shocked that just bc he was free meant that he was a rescue. I began making a few comments on her Facebook about Roys past and how he had lived. I wanted to defend myself and prove I wasn’t an abuser.  It made me think about what I thought when I got my “rescue” dogs and what I thought when other people fell on hard times and had to give up their animals. Was I labeling my animals and judging the people who gave them up? Did I want to think of them as bad people?

I have learned from my own experience and the writings and experiences of others that we cannot be the ones to judge others. Author Jon Katz writes in detail about the label abuse that is so easily pasted onto homeless animals – it’s like a badge of honor we carry around for our pets – maybe bc it makes us feel good about ourselves to say we rescued a lost, abused, neglected dog. It doesn’t really say much about the animals as they are resilient – but it says much about ourselves. Jon Katz says that we should find compassion in people not hatred. Jon had a donkey who truly came from a situation of abuse/neglect. He went to meet the farmer who had caused the donkey so much suffering. In doing so Jon learned a lot about himself in the process. Compassion is not about forgiveness, and it isn’t about liking a fellow human, compassion is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” (dictionary.com)

“When the door opened, I looked into the eyes of the farmer who treated my donkey so horribly, and all I saw was my own reflection.” 

“I did not see a devil when the door was opened in the farmer’s house. I saw a tired and soft-spoken and hollow-eyed man, a man mired in hard times and dirty jeans and mud-caked boots. His soul was nearly dead from struggling, from poverty, from brutish work and no success.”

“The farmer was not asking for forgiveness or understanding, and clearly was not expecting either. Nor did I offer any.”

“We talked for an hour or so, and I saw there was nothing much else to say. He seemed battered to me. The light had gone out in his soul, a part of him was already gone, battered, I think, out of existence. He was neither a good man nor a bad one, just  a man struggling alone with a life that  was bigger than he was. He seemed to small to hate, too beleaguered. And he had a family to feed. There is no excuse for him, he said by his own admission, yet what is compassion for, if not for those we don’t like and aren’t strong?” — Jon Katz

I was not a neglectful owner, we had never caused Roy any harm or pain. But people thought I had just bc I needed to re-home him. I did it bc I loved him and saw what he could be and we could not get him to that point. We couldn’t afford it anymore either. We wanted the best life for him.

Roy’s story didn’t end there. He wasn’t able to stay with the nice person who took him. She became ill herself and needed to re-home him yet again. I am not going to lie – it hurt me when I found out he was someplace else. I suppose knowing where he was and having some contact with the person who took him was a comfort to me. In many ways he still feels like my horse. I know he isn’t but I really loved him- still love him and want to know he is ok. When he was moved the last time I didn’t have the contact with the farm he went but recently I found out where he is. And guess what? All the things I had wanted for him came true. He is riding in shows -he is loved by his owner and by all the people at then farm where he now lives. He was learning drill training! He was the horse I knew he could be.

The woman who could not keep him anymore was not an abuser, she gave him up because she cared about him. She wanted a great home for him and I am grateful to her that she found one for him. Neither she nor I were neglectful owners – and it hurt me when someone would even consider that of me. I learned from that experience we need to watch jumping to conclusions. And as Jon Katz came face to face with his donkey’s “abuser” he learned that we cannot always understand people but we can show them compassion.

Last year when my husband was attacked by a rescue dog that we had adopted and had for 4 days the rescue blamed us for the attack. They chose to accuse us of doing something wrong to provoke the dog into biting my husband multiple times on his hands and legs. My husband became very ill and the rescue found NO compassion for my husband at all. They took the dog back and chose to treat the dog as a victim all over their Facebook page but it was my husband who suffered. Somewhere along the line we have become mixed up. I am a HUGE love of animals but I don’t think they are more important than humans. I don’t think they should get equal rights with humans. I think they should be treated humanely and I think animals can be our partners in life in work and in connection.

Don’t get me wrong there are horrible incidences of people treating animals in horrendous ways and these people should be punished. But even that doesn’t excuse us from compassion.  But we cannot label every animal who ends up homeless as abused and we cannot accuse owners who find themselves needing to give up their animals as abusers. And even in the case where Jon Katz met his donkeys abuser he saw something different than the person he thought would open the door. Jon writes so well about compassion and I see by his writing that our world is missing this in a time where we could all use a little bit of compassion. I could go on but I wont- but it might be of interest if you read the plight of Joshua Rockwell who had water issues on his farm this winter and one day his stream froze and he was off the farm and someone called animal control. Some of his animals were seized and he is being charged with neglect. He is new to farming but loves his animals- was he neglectful? Or was he just a farmer trying to get through a horrendous winter? I wonder if someone would take my hens if they had frostbite on their combs? My farm had issues with mud this year – is there too much? Will someone take my horses because I didn’t heat their barn? Or if someone thought I might need help would they offer it instead of reporting me to animal control? A little compassion- it goes a long way.

Thanks for reading….


Roy and I in 2009…