As a parent, a daughter, and as a friend or just as me, I worry.   My biggest worries involve my daughters and my mother-guess that is to be expected. 

Each day I call my mother (I have called her every day on the way home from work for years).  But suddenly, she is never there.  She has moved to a closed unit of an assisted living but disappears all the time. Isn’t that the point of a closed unit?  For those of you who haven’t priced assisted living-it will be a shock.  For the price of care, I would expect the unit to know where my mother is-but they don’t.  I get calls from her caregivers, asking me where she is.  I am in Texas.  They are in Colorado.  How would I know where she is?  Her husband, Jim, was living in an apartment in the “non-assisted” side of the center.  He would come and take her to his up to his room.  They would drink Margaritas (which has been a ritual of his for years) and she would fall asleep in his room.  Seriously?  They are like teenagers with no parents to watch over them.  She is supposed to wear an alert necklace which allows the center to track her but she decided it did not match her outfit and took it off.  When the nursing staff told Jim he could not take her off the unit without telling them, Jim, a doctor, told them he could take care her.  I don’t think the nurses telling the doctor set well with him even at age 95.  He is the doctor and they are the nurses and he will do what he thinks is best. 

My mom got angry when Jim decided to move out of the apartment in her building and into a house with his elderly sister.  I understand why he would want to do that.  It is so much less expensive and his sister enjoys his company.  My mother took it as a personal affront.  She has been angry and confused about his leaving her since her move to her new room in the new unit. 

It is difficult to get her aligned with the program when Jim is constantly taking her somewhere else to do something else.  She is not falling into a routine because there is no routine.  You might remember, even when I went there to visit her, she was not there and didn’t remember I was coming.

She told me excitedly on Friday that she knew I would be so happy because she and Jim were getting back together!!  They have been married 15 years. I didn’t know they were apart.   It was like she was telling me the star of the football team asked her out.  I was happy she was so happy.  But I was confused as well.  It’s like a soap opera keeping up with it all.

Yesterday, when I called-she whispered into the phone that bad things had happened that day and she couldn’t talk about it then.  I immediately thought of death and dying.  I asked if she was alright.  No, she said it was really bad.  She told me to call back after dinner.  I was so worried.

When I called back she was carefree and happy.  She said she thought Jim was cheating on her with another women there at the assisted living place-but thankfully, he wasn’t and she was so happy.  Oh my goodness, this is nuts.  I cannot keep up with daily drama.  I don’t know if she has just entered an alternative universe where they are teenagers in high school or what.

I do have a couple of caregivers that go to her place and I get reality checks from them.  They help me to understand what is really going on.  The other day, I came into the house and there was a phone message from one of them that they couldn’t find my mother.  Apparently, she had been gone a long time.  She showed up shortly thereafter. I don’t know how to manage her disappearances from Houston.

I never know what (or who) I will face when I call my mom each day.  I wish I was closer and I wish this was easier.  I should be consoled that at least she still knows she is talking to me, her daughter.

Every day now, I wonder if she will answer the phone.  If she does, what does she think is going on and what is really happening?  Hopefully, she stays on the unit and doesn’t run off for more margaritas but we sure can’t count on it.

No horses?

Dreaming of the lake.

There are times when all of us as horse owners, parents of kids who ride, or equestrians ourselves, ask, what would we do if we didn’t have this all consuming sport and commitment?

I saw my friend Dee bring it up on Facebook this week-she talked about kitchen make-overs (she is I suspect-a good cook who would love to have a great new kitchen).  But Dee quickly dismissed the idea by saying-wait we have horses; we can’t have a new kitchen.  Lauren and I talked about what the family used to do on Memorial Day weekends before she was born.   I told her we used to go to the lake (in Missouri-it was Smithville Lake or Lake of the Ozarks). We had access to a boat from Dave’s folks and spent many weekends on the water.   A lot of my family had places at the lake in Oklahoma as well.  I remember bright days with my cousins learning to ski at Lake Eufala.  I suspect here inTexas if there were no horses, we might have a place at Somerville or Lake Travis.

It wouldn’t be fancy- but there might be some jet skis or a boat.  There would be great family times, hot, summer days and long summer nights spent with friends.  I remember the days at the lake fondly and wish there was a way to do both.  But there is not, not now.

I think the one regret I have of Six Meadow Farm is that it has gotten to be so much.  Yesterday I enjoyed my solitude but was a little overwhelmed by the end of evening (and a little short with the cats and dogs-yes, I was yelling at them all) because I was hot and tired.  I was yelling at a tiny Yorkshire terrier-really inappropriate.

The horse life that I am living along with so many of my friends is rewarding and demanding.  The show schedules take up most weekends.  When there is a weekend without a show, you need to catch up on barn chores. It is hard to have outside interests.  I am sure my daughters Amber and Ally feel at times they are second to the horses.  The horses demand immediate and intense actions.  I have hung up on my daughters to care for my animals way too many times. 

Those of us with our own places feel it the most.  The majority of us work fulltime outside our lives as barn managers.  We are gone all day.  We work hard at our “regular job”.  We have that competitive spirit and it spills over into all aspects of our lives.  We want to do it all well.

Not as a call to feel sorry for me or what I have chosen to do but as an example, instead of getting up, going to work and coming home, cooking, eating, watching a little tv or doing some computer work, the horse people with outside jobs, must do all those things and care for the animals as well.  Most of us are not content to have just horses, but have scores of cats and dogs as well.  It is a choice.  It is a choice we are lucky to have made.  In the winter it is cold, muddy and darkness falls early.  In the summer, it is hot, miserable and darkness (and the cool it brings) never seems to come. 

I think my friend Gaylyn has had three evenings away from her place in the last two years.  On those three nights she came home but we went over to feed the animals because they would be gone during feeding time.  She has not been on vacation away from home that I am aware since they moved there.  That is nuts.  Lauren and I have not been gone at the same time in the evening or overnight except once-for one evening at a horse show in the last few years.  We did go on a week’s vacation this year but that took military precision planning to accomplish.

So, I guess no lake house is in our future.  We have chosen our lot in life and reap the rewards.  But there are those days when the memory of the still lake water makes you long for days gone by and choices made.


photo by Linda Potter-Potter Photography

It is the fourth day of my weekend. Friday I had some blood work done-feeling a little better today.  Lauren is off at a pool party.  I have had a quiet day at home. 

I started with my early feeding, no kittens fell from the sky, everyone was in their usual place.  I did my chores at first light, the temperature at the barn over 90 degrees by 8:00 am.  I moved some sand to fill holes.  I brought Kena out to the barn, more to stop her incessant barking so early in the morning than anything else but really enjoyed having her company and she did very well with the animals.

Later I placed Lula and PuppyGirl in the big water trough and they enjoyed (I think) a swim on a hot day.  I know they enjoyed running and rolling in the grass afterward.

I made a good lunch and read a book.  I have afternoon chores to do when it cools off a little and it is time to get the horses back in.  The phone has not rung once although I did call my mom as I do every day. 

It has been a quiet and peaceful day here.  I have totally enjoyed my solitude.

Kittens Falling from Heaven (or somewhere)

Hissing, baby kitten.

Lauren and I slept in a bit this morning.  It was a holiday Sunday morning; we didn’t get moving to start feeding the animals until after 6:30 am.  Being an hour and a half late, everyone was waiting for us and not in their usual positions when we made it outside.  The dogs were anxious to eat.  The pack of cats had almost given up on us ever emerging from the green box (that’s what they call the house) and were checking out the backyard in search of food.  When we let the dogs out the back of the house- the cats (and baby kittens) went scrambling.  We got the dogs fed.  We headed out to feed the cats and horses.  As Lauren stood with PuppyGirl and I headed around the house, we heard a distinct thunk!

I had no idea what the noise was, but Lauren yelled for me to come back to the driveway.  “Did you see the kitten fall into the bed of the truck?”  No, I had missed that.  Apparently, when the kitten scrambled to get away from the dogs, she headed up the tree.  When she couldn’t hold on any longer-she dropped like a rock into the bed of the truck. The little, tiny, feral kitten was hunched in the corner of the bed of the truck, hissing at us.  We decided it would be best to leave her, so we opened the tail gate and headed back to the house.

As we came around the corner of the porch, another tiny kitten hissed and clawed at us from behind a potted plant.  Behind her was another tiny black kitten that was not quite so angry with us-at least she wasn’t hissing or clawing.

The kittens from the wild moms are getting older and braver.  I will try to catch them and tame them.  In the best of worlds, I will tame them enough to get them spayed or neutered.  These are the first kittens we have actually seen or gotten near this year.  I will probably manage to catch a few of them, get them to the vet, spend some money and they will die on the highway. I have trouble getting motivated to save the kittens when too many times it ends badly.


Orange says “Where’s Siobhan?”

Update-Orange Cat is still searching for Siobhan.  He is clearly asking us in this picture where she is.  But he is spending more time with his brother and other friends and seems to be moving on.  Sometimes that is all you can do.

Corn and Dreams or Dreams and Corn

Happy Memorial Day.  I am enjoying some time at home with Ally, Jordyn and friends, who all came down to the farm today.  Lauren has been working hard re-painting jumps.  Scot came to drag the arena yesterday and things are starting to look nice around here.  We got the new jump course set up last night based upon an article in Practical Horseman Magazine. 

Lauren took young, four-year old Feather through the gymnastic course of jumps designed to help the horse understand how to jump and how to maneuver through a course.  It was her first time.  It was my first time to see Feather jump more than one jump in succession.  With horses and jumping, they have to be a good combination of athletic and agile.  They also have to have what is called “scope” to get over the bigger jumps.  Lauren was jumping Feather over the barrel jump which was about 2’6″.  The barrels themselves measure a little over 3’3″.  So when I caught them in this picture, I was more than a little excited.  It appears Feather has “scope” as she is clearly two feet over the barrels.  We could have a winner on our hands!  So, the Feather dream continues.  If she continues to jump this well…it could be the start of something amazing for us.

Dream come true? Feather is flying.

Caroline and Arianna brought their horses down this morning and we enjoyed the clear day and good riding.  Jordyn and Abby saddled up Mr. Kid and Mickey but were quickly bored and off playing in the sand pile.  Ally was kind enough to watch the little ones while the rest of us took a ride out to the corn field.  As we rode down the dirt road between the corn fields, it was like being in canyon of corn.  The horses (and all of us) got quite a work-out as we cantered the long roads of corn.  The corn is so high it literally swallows us all from sight. 

Riding the corn roads.

I am grateful for friends, my family and warm days of summer.  I remember on this Memorial Day weekend those that are riding along with us in heaven.

Wait for it.

No Hurry!

I am constantly in a state of waiting for the next thing.  It is very difficult for me to be in the “now”.  I get up in the morning, hurry through my feeding chores, get dressed, hurry out of the house, hurry down the freeway to work, hurry through projects at work, hurry through lunch, hurry through the afternoon so I can hurry down the freeway, hurry home to feed the animals and hurry to get to bed so I can be sure to get enough sleep so I can hurry through tomorrow.

What kind of life is this?  How many of us are guilty of the same.  We look forward to our upcoming weekend activities and then can’t wait to get home so we can get ready to get back to work (not necessarily because we want to go to work but because we are afraid we will be too tired to do a good job at work).

At some point in my life, I must stop the hurrying.  I must stop the treadmill.  It is not about having a vacation or being well, it is about making better choices about spending time.  Undoubtedly, my best moment of each day is when I sit in the early evening after the horses, dogs and cats are all fed and watered.  Usually, Lauren is off doing young adult with the boyfriend things.  I am alone.  I sit in the plastic chair in front of the barn, in the shade and just watch.  If I truly do it right, I see not only the chores that I have not completed but the lovely pattern the evening sun is making against the barn wall.  I hear my wind chimes moving with their soft melody in the breeze.  I see the cats tumbling and playing in the spring grass.  I pet the cat that has staked out the spot on my lap.  I register the occasional objection of my dogs as they quarrel with one another or guard the fenceline from the advancement of feline intruders.  I see the vehicles passing along the road in front of me.  Many (that I don’t even know) waving at me in the early dusk. Right now, I can smell the jasmine still flowering on the vine.  On other days it will be the hay, just cut in the field that is fresh on my senses.  I am dirty.  I am tired.  I am most at peace.

If I could learn to take this time of contentment and spread it over to my other activities and be more in “the moment” I know I will be a richer person.   If I could just learn to wait for it and enjoy the wait, life would be fuller for me.

I can’t join the Justin Bieber Fan Club

Jordyn loves Justin Bieber. She is going to be mad at Granny.

Do you remember that my granddaughter Jordyn loves Justin Bieber?  I heard on the radio this morning coming into work that he was launching a new world tour and that he would be coming to Houston.  All I could think about was how amazingly delighted she would be if she got to go to a concert and see Justin. 

On the radio they mentioned that his fan club members would get priority access to his tickets.  I am not out of touch so much that I do not realize that getting tickets for this event will be difficult.

So, I went to the “Bieber Fever” website.  I scanned through the opportunities to join the fan club.  There were monthly, quarterly and annual commitments for sale to his fan club.  Each more expensively priced option promised better access to tickets.  For $100 a year, you would have first access to his tickets, or so they promised.  I wasn’t sure which option I was going to go with but decided to “register” to join his fan club.  First screen asked for name and date of birth.  I decided (this is where it all goes wrong) that I should use Jordyn’s name and birthday so she would get all the crazy and annoying Justin Bieber crap that would no doubt be generated from this membership in Bieberville.  So, I put in Jordyn’s name and her birthday of September 4, 2007 (and the year was an option-no where did it say you must be a certain age to join Justin in his fan club).  But as soon as I pressed enter-big warning signs came up that said I could not register!!  I immediately took out her information and tried it again with my daughter Lauren’s information (she is over 18) and once again I got the big error again.  I shut my computer down and tried again with my name and date of birth.  AGAIN, I could not join the Justin Bieber Fan Club. 

I sent an email to the “contact us” tab on the site.  I explained that I had tried to belong and could not.  I quickly got a message back and it is shown below.

Subject: Justin Bieber Re: Can’t register 

Ticket #6090: Can’t register


Your request (#6090) has been deemed solved. To reopen, reply to this email or follow the link below:
http://justinbieber.zendesk.com/tickets/6090Sean, May 23 08:44 (EDT)Pursuant to the current privacy policy, membership registration is not available to you at this time. For further inquiry, you will want to contact (646)367-5441 between 10am-6pm Mon-Fri. Please note that if someone does not answer it simply means that all representatives are assisting other customers. Please leave a brief message stating your name, and call back number. We assure you we will contact you as soon as possible.


So, I cannot join the Justin Bieber Fan club.  It concerns me a little that I may be on some “child creeper” list somewhere.  I may have made a huge mistake in trying to be a member of the Justin Bieber.  Just wait until I try to go through customs at some international port and find I have been placed on some government watch list.  Later, I tried to log-in from my home computer that has a different URL address.  Still failed.  No Justin Bieber membership for me in my future.  I guess I will be regulated to trying to find tickets for Jordyn on eBay.  My biggest concern is, given Jordyn’s undying love and devotion to Justin Bieber, what if I have somehow, inadvertently, caused her to be blacklisted from the “Biebs”.  I think Granny may have finally succeeded in doing something that makes Jordyn madder than sending her pony, Snowney away to Devs.  A loss of the Justin Bieber Fan Club could clearly ruin her young life, and I was responsible.  Oh, boy!


May 22nd Texas Corn

When you grow up in the Midwest, as I did, corn was a late summer crop.  It was an August thing.  My mom would go to the farm stand, buy fresh corn on the cob, my dad would shuck the corn and I would eat it.  Part of our summer life in the Midwest.

In south Texas, corn is planted early.  The picture above is the corn today-in the middle of May.  It is almost ready to be picked.  It changes the way you think about things.  I grew up with the saying “corn-high as your thigh by the fourth of July”.  Sometimes corn is that high by Easter here.

So, what is all of this about corn?  It is an example of the same thing grown in different ways but just as successfully.  I spent the weekend with two of my daughters (Lauren stayed at home to mind the farm) and all the grandkids. I was reminded how my children remember growing up uniquely.  Amber’s childhood was much different from either of her sisters.  Amber saw a marriage.  It didn’t always work, and certainly there was conflict but there were some good years as well.  Amber is infinitely patient with her children.  She and Ryan will teach their children well, and still each child will grow up to be different. 

Ally and Lauren grew up in a post-divorce single parent home for the most part.  Ally tries to be a better parent than either her father or I ever was for her.  I hope she succeeds and I know she and Luke will always do their best.  Lauren doesn’t really remember her father and I ever together.  She will bring yet another view of parenting when she has children.  And yet all the children will grow.  At different rates, in different climates, in different ways, but hopefully in the end there will be a successful life for all of them. Just as there has been for mine.


Just a quick note, when I recently wrote about friends, I wrote about my cats Orange and Siobhan being best friends.  Siobhan was hit on the killer highway last Friday.  Orange told her not to cross the highway but she tried and she was too slow. 

Lauren let me know when I was in Denver.  I miss her but not near as much as Orange does.  He seems inconsolable.  I am sure he will team up with another cat but not yet.  Now he just cries to Lauren and I.  I am not any more consoled than he.  I loved my Siobhan cat.  I will miss her sweet face.


Across the hay field-bales waiting for pick-up.

One of my mom’s favorite stories to tell about her childhood was about loading the hay into their barn from the hay wagon.  She (for those of you that don’t know her) is a tiny, girly-girl never much more than 110 pounds and has never liked the barn, horses or dirt.  She with her numerous other brothers and sisters would be sent out to help with the hay bales.  Inevitably, her brother Cleo would find a snake in the hay and throw it at her and her sisters. They would scatter, screaming hysterically at the boys and refuse to help move anymore hay. Apparently, it made a big impact on her because she has told the story many times over the years. 

I originally thought hay was somehow magically delivered to the barns where I kept my horses.  Later when I was responsible for my own horse’s feed and hay, I learned I would have to go to the feed store to buy hay.  I have purchased my cars since my days in Florida mindful of if a bale of hay would fit in the hatch or the trunk.  I really couldn’t have picked out a hay field from a field of grass.  And I had never purchased more than a few bales of hay at any given time.  I certainly hadn’t had the means or motive to move a large quantity of hay from a field.

Hay has become a big part of my life. You have horses.  You need hay. The acreage behind my place is in hay and corn.  My first spring in the country, my friend Linda, told me her dad would be cutting and baling hay.  Linda asked if I wanted to buy hay “in the field” from her dad and that it would be cheaper than the cost at the feed store (or in his barn) if I did.  That seemed like a good idea and economical too!  Looking back it was certainly an “ah ha!” moment. 

The first time Lauren and I headed out to the hay field with the truck to pick up our own hay was not a good experience.  As five year veterans of this process, we have learned a lot.  We thought we would take the truck and just throw the hay bales into the back.  First, neither of us (at least in the beginning for Lauren and now for me) were capable physically of throwing a bale of hay much of anywhere.  Together with gloved hands we could slide a bale into the bed of the truck, and then Lauren could climb up and arrange them in stacks.  Again, due to our physical limitations, those stacks weren’t much more than two or maybe three bales high.  If you think you can do better, we get hay from the field probably six or seven times a year, we always need help, you will burn a million calories and you can come show me how high you can stack it.  For us, it was hard work.

But like most of my stories, this one ends with Lauren and me getting better at what we were doing-in this case hay collecting.  We have one person drive and two on the ground with the hay bales on both sides of the truck.  It is a quick process and I am lucky enough to be the one driving most of the time.  We still have to stack in the barn but we have a process for that also.

The interesting offset to this hay thing, is I have become the Hay Broker.  My friends who have their own place close to Houston or manage/own bigger barns are always on the lookout for good, quality hay at a decent price.  Last year with the drought so devastating, getting hay for any price was almost impossible. It got to over $18 a bale at the feed store last year.  Today it is $7 a bale in field behind my house. That’s an incentive to drive to my small town.  The more hay you use (and one barn Lauren and I visited this year uses over 100 bales a month) the more this means.  To me on my budget, it is clear I must go to the field to get my hay.

Usually, how this works is Lauren or I watch the fields behind our house. We speculate on when the hay will be ready.  Roland comes to do the horse’s feet and he gives his opinion.  But not being agricultural specialists, we never are quite sure when it is time to cut.  Cutting also depends on when the tractor is available (it could be used for planting, applying pesticide or some other use).  Not a minor detail is how long the weather will be clear and dry.  You do not want to cut and have it rain.  So, bottom line, we usually have no idea that they are about to cut and bale until we see the tractor head to the field. 

This spurs a frantic and involved process of calling, texting, emailing the hay man or more often his daughter (because I want her to be involved in all the fun I am having) to determine when he be ready to bale so that I can send out a broadcast text to my hay list friends that hay will be available. I tell them the going price and ask for a commitment on the number of bales they will want.  It is like being a power broker! The hay man needs to hire men to load the unsold bales on trailer and return them to his barn if they are not sold.  He needs to know how many are accounted for by “my people”.  Last year with hay so scarce, every bale was sold in the field.  If you said you were getting 100 bales you best be on your way because someone else would buy it out from under you if you didn’t get there fast. 

You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult but until I actually witness a bale of hay hitting the ground you don’t know for sure when it will happen.  It can be too wet, the tractor breaks down, the baler doesn’t work or something else happens.  Now understand for those on the hay list, they must- within the next 24-36 hours, hook up a trailer, find some willing help and make at least a hundred mile round trip drive to come get the hay.  To compound the difficulty of pulling this off, this usually happens during the week (when most of us are at work) and always without notice.

So, Saturday when I was in Denver with my mom and family, Lauren texts me from home that the tractor was in the field cutting hay.  And so, long distance, I got the word out that hay was being baled.  After leaving Amber’s Colorado home at 6 am yesterday morning, I got back toTexas to an afternoon of loading hay.  Our friends come down with the horse trailers and trucks.  We made the trip to the fields and helped each other load up.  I had the whole age thing going and got to do the driving (thank God!).

We put up 135 bales of hay for friends and ourselves.  I was moving the old, leftover hay in my hay stall to make room for the new bales when a snake slithered out from under a bale.  I yelled “Snake! Snake!” a few times but got no reaction from either Lauren or Blake.  I went back to work and thought about my mom.