Sunday, May 23, 2010

Darby's First Show

(Photo by Bob Tarr Photography)

Darby went to his first breed show last week. He was the Grand Champion Colt/Gelding and the Reserve Champion Young Horse.

Most important, he behaved himself admirably in the show ring and effortlessly exhibited his lovely trot. Strangers kept coming up to me and asking about him and complimenting his beauty and conformation.

It is so cool to finally have my dream horse after struggling all those years with an off-the-track Thoroughbred. It's as if the horse-gods held a meeting at which they decided to quit screwing with me and said, "Yeah, let's send her an easy horse this time."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vegetable Serendipity

Lest I squirm here under false pretenses, let me begin by saying that I am the world's laziest gardener. Once I chuck a plant into the ground, it's on its own to grow and thrive and bloom or get yanked out. I don't put up with dawdlers or divas. So imagine my surprise, as a recent convert to growing vegetables, to find out that edibles are the hands down easiest group of plants to grow of anything I've ever grown. These plants are determined to live, determined to bear fruit and scatter the seeds of the next generation.

Here's what no-one told me about growing vegetables: Many of them come back the next year.

I've been harvesting leaf lettuce for more than a month now. However, I didn't plant lettuce this year. Or last year. Two years ago, in March, I sprinkled a packet of leaf lettuce seeds into a bare spot in one of my flower beds. In about two weeks I had a little salad. And for the next six or eight weeks, I had more lettuce than I knew what to do with (luckily, we love salad at my house). Then spring turned to summer and the lettuce went to seed. Being the lazy gardener I am, I pulled up the lettuce plants and laid them where they grew so they could decompose and go back to being dirt. The following spring, Voila! as soon as the snow melted, there was lettuce. This year, same thing. We are living on salad right now and it is good.

Last year, where I had onions, I have onions again. I don't know what's happening below ground but I've been cutting the green onion tops for about six weeks and using them to flavor everything. I have carrots I wasn't expecting; tomato plants, bean plants, and several plants that could be either pumpkin, cucumber, or cantelope that have come back with no help from me. Last year I had broccoli come back but haven't seen any yet this year.

I expected the asparagus and was not disappointed. The roses in the photo are just for showing off. We are having English weather this spring and the roses are phenomenal.

I used to be intimidated by growing a garden. All the gardens I saw were meticulous with their lines made straight with string and their littles mounds for certain plants and all this lore that did not get passed down to me. But then I started, one or two seed packets at a time, most of them scattered among my perennial flower beds.
Since then, it's been vegetable serendipity.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


So we arrived at the Jimmy Buffett concert on a damp chilly evening:

Yeah, a little straight-laced group of domesticated Parrotheads. Notice, especially, Logan:

Not quite so tame as the rest of us, Joanie and Erin were looking dorgeous and getting their tropical groove on:

So we're just standing around, people watching all the over-the-top Parrotheads and the wastoids and jamming with Jimmy and then this twenty-something-year-old girl ran past us. She pushed in between me and Tim, hopped over the coat heaped on the ground without breaking stride and raced up the hill behind us.

She was followed by a distraught drunk who shoved me out of his way as he chased her, tripped over the coat and lost his grass skirt, his awesome parrothead hat, and apparently his underwear, because as he scrabbled away on all fours, all we could see of him was his bare butt. After he fled away and we quit laughing, we picked up his skirt and his hat, and thus Logan was initiated into Parrotheaddom:

Logan, me, at end of concert:

A good time was had by most.

(Dude, we've got your stuff!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Litany of Learning

Our weather has been perfect for working with horses and Darby and I have been busy. There are so many things a young horse has to learn, such as:

Standing in crossties
Picking up his feet for me.
Picking up his feet for the farrier (seems like this would be the same, but it is not.)
Loading on the trailer.
Being okay with Buckles going away from the barn.
Being okay with going away from Buckles.
Leading at the walk. And whoa. Whoa is good.
Leading at the trot without dancing on the leader.
Having someone stand on a chair next to you.
Having someone stand on a chair and band your mane.
Having someone stand on a chair and lay across your back.
Having someone jump from chair up onto your back.
Wearing a saddle.
Wearing a saddle and discovering that putting your head down to eat grass makes the girth tighten around belly.
Discovering that crow-hopping does not help tight girth problem.
Discovering that grass is too good to worry very long.
Learning hoses are not snakes.
Learning baths are annoying but not painful.
Learning baths while eating grass are worth it.
Finding out crossties are good for holding your head while sleeping.
Realizing ribbons seem scary at first:

But finding once again that Mr. Buckles can make it all better:

Darby goes to his first breed show next Thursday. He will be shown in-hand at the walk and trot and judged on his conformation and his movement. I am thinking positive and thus fully expect him to be the grand champion and be festoomed with a ribbon such as my home-made version that we have been practicing with. Can you tell it's Christmas ribbon?

We have done a lot of neat things and a lot of learning has taken place. Most days I forget who is the teacher and who is the student. He is so smart and willing and he eats up attention and every day I learn how easy it is to teach a horse who was bred to be smart and who has been well-handled since birth and not only trusts but genuinely likes people.

I'm writing all this today because I want to remember that today was the day I first hopped all the way up on to Darby's back, swung my other leg over, and sat astraddle him. For two weeks or so, I've been getting him used to the chair in his stall, then me standing on the chair, then me leaning over his back, and then me hopping a little onto his back so my weight was on him. Every step of the way he has been curious but calm so today I just hopped up, swung my leg over, and sat there petting him. I wrapped my arms around his neck and slid down. I did this four times, two from the right, two from the left. It did not bother him at all.

He is awesome.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Luke posted this as his status on Facebook the other day: "Nothing has ever seemed bigger, more interesting, more challenging, or more exciting than music does to me right now."

Logan's Facebook is peppered with the word volleyball followed by several exclamation points.

We had a weekend in which we saw Luke sing and play the piano in a terrific concert at Miami University on Saturday.

On Sunday we watched Logan play volleyball with some A and Open players. He looked like he belonged there, and he won his games.

Luke and Logan were raised in the same house, with the same piano and the same volleyball court. Luke plays a little volleyball but he is passionate about music. Logan plays a little music on the piano (and guitar and bass) but he is passionate about volleyball.

Clearly, passion is a prerequisitie to excelling at something. But where does passion come from? What makes one kid passionate about one thing and another kid passionate about something else, even though they had the same opportunity?

I'm still thinking about those questions but here is one thing I know for sure: throwing themselves whole-heartedly into their passions is a source of great happiness and satisfaction for both of my sons.

And watching them throw themselves into their passions is amazing for me and Tim. It is the best thing we could have ever wished for them.