3.20.2020

the sound of being alone

Silence. The sound of being alone doesn't have a sound. It has a silence. There is a difference.

A crowded room, full of unfamiliar faces.

Entering a large bright bustling store for the first time, not knowing which direction to go.

Stuck in traffic, unable to move.

All of these have a silence, although they are not silent.

Walking through woods, surrounded by tall pines.

The emptiness, of whatever ails your mind.

Not being able to hear, or process information fast enough.

Silence, the sound of being alone.

I imagine early stages of Dementia includes all of the above feelings of silence, and more. It is heart wrenching to witness and interact with. 

Yes, the horses are out.

No, our horses don't get cold being outside.

I wake up early because that is when my mind wakes up.

Every conversation is a new conversation, repeated and repeated with patience. Lots and lots of patience.

All common, all silencing.

To the core.

.................................

My 87 year old mother finally agreed to stay with us for the first time ever, for 12 days. The family member she lives with went on vacation. It saved me a lot of daily travel to check on her, and gave me peace of mind for her well-being in the coldest winter months. It was a challenging game changer, that got both easier and harder with each passing day. An absolute blessing to spend time with my mom alone. Who knows how many days she has left, or any of us have left for that matter. 

I cherished all of the moments, and most of the time. Let's be honest I longed for my routine, and not being questioned why I am doing absolutely everything and anything. Over and over. My body and mind really missed exercising. My patience was put to the test. I took a lot of deep breathes and pauses, and thankfully kept it all together and passed. Brad was wonderful and listened to more than his fair share of exasperation on the side. In true form, my sweet mom was been the easiest most "go with the flow" person to care for. I love my mom with my whole heart!!


me & mom having fun with filters 
1-26-2020

I hope she enjoyed a peaceful country change of lifestyle. If nothing else as a break from the turmoil of her daily life, living with the most negative person I know. Even if she doesn't remember much of it, or at all. There were no arguments, yelling, or being told what/when/how to do every and any thing. At times she still needed direction, but without condescending micromanaging she absolutely shined! Waking bright eyed and bushy tailed, on her own chosen timeline. She got dressed with hearing aids on, ready for her coffee and breakfast earlier and earlier as the days passed - without being asked.

Never before has it become so apparent to me, that we are products of our environment. 

My mom said she was glad she came to stay with us, and could see how happy I am. On the last day of her visit, she asked if she could stay. Did she have to leave? Yes, she did. Her other child was asking about her, but my mom has been and always will be welcome in our home. Multiple times I heard "I will have to come back and spend some weekends with you guys". She most likely won't, because I know my mom will fall back into her old routine.

My hope is my mom remembers the feeling of choice, loving patience and the sound of not being alone - even when it was quiet.

.................................

In closing: This very personal post was written over a month ago, before the world shut down. SO many are struggling with "social distancing" in this new era we find ourselves in. I am hopeful those with heart, that are actually doing the right thing, truly feel the self fulfilling awareness that comes from being alone. Especially when the world has gone quiet. 

1.26.2020

it is snowing loose horses

Life sure has been challenging, rewarding and full of a variety of emotions lately. I had just sat down to enjoy a moment of peacefulness, sipping my warm morning coffee in the stillness of a snowy Saturday morning. I glanced up and thought was that the top of a deer that just ran past our house...hmmm...that's weird, it was so close to our houseI got up to look out the window to see if I could catch a better glimpse of it. 

What I saw was Brad shuffling his feet down our half plowed icy driveway with two halters in hand...OH NOOOO NOT AGAIN!!! Similar scene. Different day. Bigger problem. This time, all three horses are out!! Once again I throw on a coat & boots, and hustle outside down our looong driveway. Sigh.

I find Brad in our field by the road, trying to approach three less then cooperative horses. I call "Koooda" "Nemoooo"  and they all come running towards me. Sweet! Thinking the situation is about to be under control, I quickly snap a pic before tucking away my phone.


(L-R) Koda, Harmony & Nemo

After the horses came running over by me, I thought I heard something like "weeeeee, c'mon ma let's go explore the other fields" as Koda and Harmony abruptly headed north. For a hot second, Nemo stopped a few arms lengths away from me "whhhhoooaa, then #$@!" if only I had a halter...and he took off to round up the others. Great.  This isn't going to end anytime soon. I yelled to Brad "I am going back for the other halter". In hindsight, I should have just followed them and made do with whatever Brad grabbed.

I went back to the barn and grabbed the third halter, and a bucket of grain. While shuffling back along our icy driveway I heard a beeeep. Gulp! They must be on the road. I considered jumping in the truck. Who knows where the horses would head to, and the recent snow conditions made for really slow walking.


Harmony & Nemo checking out the poop pit
Koda is more interested in the new humans

Looks like all three horses are calmly heading back, with Brad and two additional human helpers. So I snapped a few more pics on the fly. It is wrong, I know. I can't help myself, and only took seconds. However, the horses took off towards our back field. That was good, and bad. It is away from the road, but the back of our property butts up to miles of land and marsh. 

(L-R) Nemo, Koda and Harmony

I also turned, and headed towards the back field thinking "I have grain, they will come to me now for sure" 
but they didn't venture far and could care less about the grain. I guess it was worth a try. Nemo was running amuck trying to round up his new herd friends. 

The snow was deep in the back field. I did my best to trudge through it quickly. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, Brad had Koda & Harmony. I tried to get Nemo. Brad tried to get Nemo. We could get close, but Nemo had no intention of being caught. He was high tailed, blowing, snorting and prancing like the beautiful horse that he is. He went back-n-forth between us, and the two helpers that had stopped to help Brad. They were headed back to their vehicle. Nemo was in dismay that his new potential herd members were not following him "Haaaaay guys, the pasture is this way" We gave up on catching Nemo, and headed towards the barn...

(L-R) Koda, Brad and Harmony

I yelled "c'mon Nemo, they aren't part of your herd - lets goooo"...he chose to follow us. When we got near our driveway curve, Nemo tried to start the rendezvous up again. Suggesting we take the driveway back towards the road "that was fun, let's do it again!" NO, Nemo - that was not fun we are going back to the pasture with or without you. We split the two horses we had up. Brad took Koda and I took Harmony back to the pasture. Nemo followed along, the not so little turd.

With the horses safely back in their pasture, I asked Brad what the h-e-double-toothpick happened. It was an accident. While clearing the path between the barn and pasture (which is at an incline) the bobcat slid into the gate, not realizing the amount of slippery slushy wet snow that was underneath. The only way to get the bobcat unstuck was to unlatch and open the gate somewhat. Brad said he couldn't get out of the bobcat fast enough, before the horses escaped. I know what you are thinking, no comments from the funny farm from me this time. Just thankfulness that everything turned out okay. 

It turns out the people that stopped to help Brad are our neighbors down the road. A mom, and her 12-ish year old son. I haven't met them, but I will when I bake them some cookies to say thank you. 

I don't know what it is about snowy loose horses running around 8am on Saturday mornings, but it can stop any time now. 

1.17.2020

watchful eye

It doesn't matter what I am doing outside, Nemo keeps track of me. I have no doubt he does even more so with Brad, as he loves him more then any other human. When I am outside hiking or doing whatever, Nemo stops his world to keep a watchful eye on my whereabouts. Even at a distance. He likely considers me part of his herd. 


Nemo on guard (Jan 2020)
the other two are chomping away at the feeder 
Harmony and Koda seem to care less. Maybe it isn't their job, and they know Nemo has surveillance covered.


Nemo (Dec 2019)
I have been trying to keep a closer eye on our small herd dynamics, and think about why they do what they do. Although our herd is rather subdued, it is still fascinating!! I don't know a horse person that doesn't love herd dynamics. There is SO much to be learned from observing horses. 


Koda, Harmony and Nemo (Dec 2019)
I have been taking photos of the big guy for many years, and have yet to get a photo of Nemo without his watchful eye - directly on me. Unless of course I catch him with his eyes closed, or masked. Even when the horses are running and interacting, he is looking at me/the camera. I can't help but wonder, how does he keep one eye on me at all times?


Nemo (May 2019)

1.14.2020

lever latch

The inevitable eventually happens. As you may have read two of our horses escaped for the first time since moving to our land over a year and half ago. During the couple minutes it takes to walk back into the barn and get the next horse for turnout, the strong wind blew the unlatched pasture gate wide open. I can assure you, this never would have happened if latched. There is always a possibility of horses getting out by going over/under a fence, but in our case it is unlikely. 

Our gate latches are different then the common chain notch system we've used for years. These latches are meant to operate from the ground, and also allow opening while mounted on horseback. Brad really likes them, and wanted us to have the ability to ride in/out of the pastures without dismounting. They would have come in handy for all the times we rode in/out of the pasture at the old family farm, and also the pastures at Brad's trainers.

We use the Single Piston Lever Latch made by Priefert. The system has two built in latches. The top long lever handle slides back-n-forth into a metal holder secured on the post. A second smaller latch flips over onto a metal bolt preventing the top latch from sliding. 

A chain could be added to our gates for triple security, but for now what we have is enough. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to open our gates from the ground, especially if the bottom latch is forgotten. I may or may not have said a few profanities when operating our gates. Pretty sure our latches will need some oiling to operate from horseback ;)


half locked gate
(top lever is latched, bottom is not)