The Road More Traveled

I am a creature of habit. You only have to look at the paths I have worn on my way to each gate I use during daily chores. It is easy to see at this time of year when the grass is dead everywhere, but completely flattened along the habitual trails of deer, horses, and me.

Recently I started seeing a new chiropractor. Chiropractic work is one of those things like yoga for me: I almost always hate it, but keep thinking if I can find just the right practitioner or just the right method, I will love it, or at least benefit from it. I am optimistic about this chiropractor, though I admit it’s partly because she told me to stop trying to do yoga. It’s also because she’s the first of any kind of medical person I have seen about my back who seems to think it can be fixed. On the other hand, she has given me some things to do, or rather things not to do, that are causing me to have to pay attention ALL THE TIME and in many cases change how I habitually move through my day, which is clearly crazy talk.

A small example: I am not supposed to close the angle of my right leg to my body more than 90 degrees. That sounds simple enough, but try to tie your shoes or wash your feet or feed all the animals whose food bowls are on the ground (which is all of the animals) or trim the dog toenails or pick out the horse hooves or even pat the cat or the shortest dog, and see how easy it really is.

Some of what makes it hard is about habit, of course. Here are the first few steps of feeding the horses: Take four buckets of feed from where I make the feed up outside, two at a time so I can have a hand free to close the door behind me, which means putting the first two buckets down on the ground and then picking them up again to carry all four buckets to the fence along one of the Tessa trails through the yard. Put buckets down on ground. Climb fence. Reach under fence to get bucket for first horse, repeat for second horse, etc.

Day one of trying to obey the 90 degree rule, I stand on the patio (step 1) looking at the buckets on the ground in annoyance, thinking “How the hell does she expect me to pick these buckets up from the ground with the other buckets in one hand without bending over at the waist?” Ahem. I look around and notice that my patio is, as it has been for years now, surrounded by stone walls. They range in height from about 18 inches to about 3 feet, with several levels in between. I’m fairly sure there’s a place I can put the buckets that not only does not involve bending, it does not involve lifting. Then I decide to time the walk from the patio to the fence, should I commit fully and make two trips with just one bucket in each hand. Walking slowly to the fence and back again takes a minute and five seconds. Maybe my schedule is loose enough that I can add two minutes and ten seconds to my morning and evening chores.

This is not the first time I have considered using my body in different ways. I have made changes in how I move when I have hurt something (ankle, knee, back). I have made corrections to try to even out my body so that when I ask my horses to even out theirs it’s a fair request. I have made changes when I have realized (or had it pointed out to me) that I am doing something halfway left-handed (holding a golf club or a pool cue or a gun with my hands in the leftie position but trying to do the activity in a right-handed direction). If I fully commit to the left handed approach I can do the thing much better. Each time I feel like I’m having to learn the lesson all over again, but really every time I’m just learning it at a different level, or learning to apply it to yet another area of my life or my body. And yet: here I go again, realizing that I have a habitually uneven way of climbing both up and down over a fence, and changing something as simple as which leg I lead with feels as awkward and slow as trying to write with my left hand.

This is also not the first time I have had to consider slowing down. When I had knee surgery nine years ago I had to move more thoughtfully through my day, though the need for this didn’t fully sink in until I slipped and fell because I was walking incautiously in bad shoes down a steep hill on wet grass because it’s where the path is because I always walk there. Thank goodness for the knee brace that only allowed my recently repaired knee to bend so far, but it was still a painful and scary moment, not aided by unhelpful dogs trying to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity to get in my lap outside. The larger problem is that once my knee felt better, I stopped slowing down. Until the next time I sprained my ankle or wrenched my back. I go fast until I can’t, I slow down when I have to, and then as soon as I can, I speed up again. I don’t even realizing I’m doing it until the next time I can’t.

I am well aware that my desire to speed things up usually takes a lot more time than slowing down. I have plenty of evidence of this, usually involving sentences that begin with “I’ll just…” or “I don’t need to….” “I’ll just take this halter off before I latch the gate” will invariably lead to me being led on a merry chase around the farm by at least one horse. “I don’t need to put the leashes on just to let the dogs out to pee” will (and in fact did, once at 4: 30 a.m.) end with me under the truck with a dog and a skunk, trying to pull the dog out by his hind legs. Really it ended a couple hours later after multiple dog and human baths outside in 35 degree weather.

Changing the way I move is hard, but changing the speed at which I move is even harder, no doubt due to hurrying being a much longer and more deeply ingrained habit. I come from a family of early people. Not on-time people, but chronically early. I have never heard the expression “late to be polite” outside my family, though perhaps it is a recognized expression, but it was something my parents used to say. I suspect someone once told them that it was rude to show up early to a dinner party, or maybe they commented on someone else’s lateness and that person said they came late in order to be polite. Of course, “late to be polite” in my family looked a lot like being on time to anyone else. It just kept them from arriving earlier than the stated start time. This rule did not apply to family, so if my parents said they’d be at my house by 11 a.m. for lunch, I knew to expect them any time from about 9:30 on.

I also have always lived in chronic fear of keeping up. I believe this is a condition of being a youngest child: everyone in the family is always bigger and older and more coordinated and faster, and I scrambled to keep up as best I could. I didn’t want to be the reason my parents were late (or not early), or to annoy my older sisters more than I already felt I did just for existing. None of this was aided by times like when I lost track of my father at the drugstore and ran up to another set of legs that looked like his only to look up and realize these legs were attached to a complete stranger. Writing that down I realize that if my face was at knee height to adult humans, it’s probably more accurate to say my father lost track of me and not the other way around, but that’s not how it is in my mind. Similarly, when at the zoo with a neighbor adult and probably entirely too many kids (he usually had his own four kids, me and at least one of my sisters, and maybe one or two others from our block), I stopped to look at the hippos. By the time I looked around, no one I knew was still in the building so I went outside and sat on the steps of the Large Mammal house and cried until they came back and found me. All of this was nearly 50 year ago, but here I am still trying to keep up with ghosts and to make sure they don’t forget about me.

When I say “ghosts,” I do mean ghosts. The neighbor and his son who was my age have both been dead for over 25 years. My mother has been dead for almost 17 years, my father for almost 10, and my oldest sister for almost 3. There are also ghosts of Tessa past: I no longer have three kids living at home who need me to make them breakfast or pack their lunch or take them to school or pick them up from soccer practice or madrigals rehearsal or go watch their lacrosse games. I no longer have a job I commute to. I’m no longer trying to work full time and go to school full time. There really is no one but me tapping their watch expecting me to be anywhere, or to do anything faster. Breaking the habit of not looking at why I have the habit of rushing seems like a good use of my time. If my back can be improved through some attention and thoughtful change, maybe my brain can benefit from coming off of auto-pilot too. If I slow down – even when I don’t have to – I can decide which path I want to take, which foot will take the first step, and what speed I want to go.

Fixer Upper

My last post (Reading Season) sent me down a rabbit trail of horse books from my childhood. Some of them I still have, or have gotten new copies of in recent(ish) years. Some I haven’t seen or read since grade school, so I went looking online to remind myself of the stories. After reading the description of one of these books, I got curious about what book sellers had to say about some of the others. A small sample, starting with the one that started the search:

Big Jump for Robin (Suzanne Wilding): “To help her family with financial difficulties, Robin sells her beloved pony to a wealthy family with whose problems she soon becomes involved.”

Summer Pony (Jean Slaughter Doty): “Ginny has always dreamed of having her very own pony, so when her parents agree to rent her a pony for the summer, Ginny is thrilled! But when Mokey arrives, she is shaggy, dirty, and half-starved–not at all what Ginny had in mind. Can Ginny still have the summer of her dreams?”

The Secret Horse (Marion Holland): “Nickie and Gail are two horse-mad and horse-less girls. They hatch up a daring plan to steal a neglected and abandoned horse from the local pound and keep it in secret.”

I still have my childhood copy of Misty of Chincoteague, so I decided to reread that for the first time in decades. I found that I had forgotten over the years that it didn’t start out being about Misty. Paul and Maureen were working odd jobs and saving every penny so they could buy the wildest and wiliest of all the wild ponies, The Phantom. No one knew that she had a foal (Misty) by her side, but that foal would be the only reason she was caught that year. Much of the book is about getting Phantom used to being handled and ridden, though they never do get the wild out of her.

There were Disney princess movies when I was young – certainly Snow White and Cinderella long preceded me – but for me, the fairy tales that stuck with me were these horse stories. In particular, stories in which the main character has no money for horses, and also frequently no appropriate facility to house a horse, but she is able to beg, borrow, or steal a horse anyway – Summer Pony, The Secret Horse. Stories in which the protagonist tames the wild horse – The Black Stallion, Misty of Chincoteague. Stories in which the main character has a great deal of horse know-how but no money, so she indentures herself to someone who has both money and horses – Big Jump for Robin.

Some aspects of these stories matched my reality with horses. I lived in the city, I certainly didn’t have the money to own a horse, and there were times my family didn’t seem to have the money for me to take lessons. My sister and I both cleaned stalls at the barn in exchange for lessons on and off during junior high and high school. We talked about pooling our resources to partially lease one of the school horses, but we could never agree on which horse and in all likelihood we didn’t have enough resources to pool most of the time.

Looking back at these books feels like hearing a new-to-me story about someone in my family that suddenly makes me realize that a part of my crazy that I thought was unique to me is in fact something I come by honestly. I’m not sure how I missed that my particular horse crazies are so common. Not just in that others in numbers great or small would have read these same books, but in that the books were written in the first place. The themes preceded the books enough to make the books necessary, or at least possible.

There is a mix of unlikely fantasy and scary reality in the books I loved. The girls in The Secret Horse not only have to steal the horse, they have to find an abandoned barn to keep him in (in the middle of Washington DC) – and they do. The wild horse tamings of The Black Stallion and Misty are improbable but something I’m sure every young horse lover dreams of. I know I did. The scary reality parts mostly have to do with horse illness or injury. Early in Summer Pony, Mokey gets out of the converted garage the family uses to house her and gorges herself on apples, leading to a very scary night of colic. It is worth noting that in Winter Pony, the sequel to Summer Pony, Mokey (because of course Ginny was able to keep her past summer) turns out to be in foal from a stallion at the farm where they found her. Because what first-time horse owner doesn’t need a carelessly and accidentally bred foal to raise?

The protagonist of a book called Half Pint and Others was my early role model for both running a lesson barn on the cheap and for doing stupid things with horses and mostly getting away with it. Over the course of one summer she puts a new horse out in a field that he promptly get out of, she tries to rush her own horse onto a trailer and gets her ankle tromped on, she has to euthanize a horse she was given that turns out to be terminally lame, she breaks her arm falling out of the hay loft, and she spends far too much time chasing loose horses or treating their wounds once she finally gets them back home.

Taming the wild horse, nursing the sick or maltreated horse back to health, turning the nag into a dream horse – and doing it all on a shoestring budget with inadequate facilities – these are surprisingly hard ideas to let go of. With three horses outside my window now, I know that in my heart I am still that horse-crazy, horse-less girl. My father was born in 1926 and he grew up with a Depression era view of scarcity that never really left him. I feel like there’s an equivalent for people who grew up wanting horses but who didn’t have money for horses. We never really believe that we can afford them, or that we deserve them, or we never stop thinking that the one we save or find or capture in the wild will, against all odds and also against all our experience, become the horse of our dreams.

I spent twenty formative years figuring out how to spend the least amount of money to get access to horses. The horse world thrives (I say this in the present tense without knowing for sure, but I bet it’s still true) on the desire of horse-crazy kids and young adults to do just about anything in exchange for time with horses. I traded work for lessons, I traded work for housing. I arranged my life to have no expenses because I couldn’t earn enough money to pay them. I rode crazy horses. I worked crazy schedules. I was thirty years old before I ever had a job where I had two days off in a row, and older than that before I had a weekend on the weekend. I trained horses for sale so that I didn’t have to put any money out up front, and the owner and I would split the sale profits in whatever way we agreed (usually not in my favor).

The horses who were the easiest to get access to for free were often the hardest to ride. I took a lot of pride in being able to ride those horses, and also in becoming known as someone who could ride them. It is fair to say that I went looking for difficult horses, though I wouldn’t have said that at the time. Once I finally broke a few bones (after a decade of the luck of the young and foolhardy), I became more afraid of the difficult horses, but my sense of who I was was so tied up in being the one who wasn’t scared of the scary ones that it wasn’t just a matter of not being willing to admit I was scared – I didn’t even recognize that fear was what I was feeling.

When I found my first horse that, while green, didn’t come with a host of issues that needed to be overcome, I almost let her slip by me. My riding instructor at the time was after me for months to try her and I kept finding other worse horses to look at instead. She was for sale, and since (as usual) I didn’t have any money to buy a horse, I was looking for another lease-to-sell arrangement. When I finally did go see her, I liked her ok but she wasn’t very exciting (i.e. not actively dangerous). I talked her owner into a lease-to-sell with a six month time frame. I realized after about a month that this was the horse I had been wanting pretty much my whole life, but didn’t think I’d ever find. Her owner agreed to a payment schedule, and she and I learned together for the next nineteen years.

As I read this over I see that my history with horses looks a lot like a history of bad relationships. I did realize that at some point. I remember saying of my first big bay gelding that I supposed it was an improvement that I was limiting my desire to fix the broken to horses instead of continuing to include humans in my scope. I still have my second bay gelding, who I bought about 15 years after the first one, as proof that recognizing a pattern doesn’t make it go all the way away.

I don’t know that stories of appropriately matched horses and riders learning safely together would make very exciting books to read, but I would love to see those stories lived out in the experience of more real life ponies and little girls. My time with my own horses has taken another turn recently, and I’m no longer trying to train them to do anything. I am, however, welcoming all the ways in which they are trying to train me. I want my horses’ horse stories to be boring stories about peaceful interactions with humans, instead of the story of how they keep having to try to to fix the broken one.

Horseshoes

“Horseshoes are better than circles. Leave space. Always leave space. Horseshoes of friends > Circles of friends. Life can be lonely. Stand in horseshoes.” – Glennon Doyle

It started with a book.

Of course, it started before that. I found the book because of Rose, and I found Rose because of a horse, and I found the horse because… I could keep going backwards. Many if not most of my own stories either started with a book or started with a horse. Since I can’t tell all the origin stories at once, this one starts with a book.

This particular book I picked up with the intent to rifle through it, scoff, and point out what bullshit it was. It was a book called Horses Never Lie by a horseman named Mark Rashid, and I lumped it into all the other so-called natural horsemanship concepts I had no faith in or patience with. I started flipping quickly through the book, glancing at pages in different chapters, and then I flipped more slowly, and then I went back to the beginning and started on page one and pretty much didn’t put it down until I had read the whole thing. Then I read it again.

This book did what good books often do: it changed my life.

It changed my life in ways directly related to the topic of the book. It completely changed my approach to my horses and my horsemanship. This was and is very important to me, and probably even more so to my horses.

It changed my life in ways I would never have imagined, and while I can’t credit the book for all the changes, I can credit it for helping me find the first step. Because of this book I went to a horsemanship clinic. Because of the clinic I heard about a Yahoo group (remember those?). Because of the Yahoo group I got acquainted with a number of women with whom I shared things – an approach towards our horses, a sense of humor, a willingness to keep changing and improving, an interest in sharing the things that mattered to each of us.

The Yahoo group morphed into another Yahoo group, and then another one, as the size and nature of the group shifted, and then Facebook came along. As the years have gone by (17 of them so far), I have met a lot of these women in person, and through them I have met other women either online or in person or both.

Because of these women, I travelled all the way across the country where a woman I had never met in person invited me to spend nearly a week in her house and to ride a horse of hers for four days and if you don’t think that second part is an extraordinary leap of faith I can tell you are not a horse person.

Because of these women, I found my Truth Serum Horse, the horse who firmly but kindly demands every day that my outsides match my insides.

Because of these women, I found a friend to walk with during the year in which both our mothers died from metastatic breast cancer, and again when both our fathers died in the same year seven years later.

Because of these women, I have met people to share music with, and books, and coffee, and tequila, and laughter, and tears. Even when most of our communication is memes and silly photos and voice to text fiascos, there are those times we reach out to each other in our darkest moments to say “I just wanted someone else to know.” We have held each other up through heart tearing grief, we have laughed so hard we have snorted coffee out of our noses from thousands of miles away, we have told each other to put our boots back on and cowgirl up, sometimes all in the same conversation.

Because of these women, I found a friend to share books and grammar jokes and love of words, and this friend introduced me to a writer who had started an online writer’s group.

Because of these women, I rediscovered my writing voice, and I started this blog. The single best thing about sharing my writing, especially the writing I am afraid to share, is the moment that someone else says “Oh, me too.” Which is also the best thing about sharing a journey with these women.

Because of these women, I have work coming out in a book this November: What She Wrote, an anthology of women’s voices, published by Lilith House Press. More to come as we get closer to the release date.

It starts with a book.

Saddle Sore

I made my first foray into selling things on eBay this weekend. We’ve managed to amass quite a saddle collection in the past 30 years. Rose and I met at an eventing barn, and we each had a dressage saddle and a jumping saddle at the time. The original saddles didn’t even work on the original horses, but as we added horses and tack we usually found that a saddle worked on someone, so we only rarely sold one. I got rid of a memorably painful dressage saddle (sitting the trot shouldn’t make a person bleed), and Rose sold a cross country saddle that had such a forward knee roll it hit Cookie more or less at the base of her neck. We added all-purpose saddles, breed-specific saddles, and Western saddles to our tackroom.

We are down to three mostly if not entirely retired horses now, and it seemed like a simple decluttering activity to sell saddles we haven’t ridden in for a decade, or in some cases two. I sat down at the computer to figure out eBay. By the time I had listed the third saddle, I had an offer on the first one. By the time I listed the fourth one, a different buyer bought the first one for the asking price. Before the evening was over, two more saddles had sold.

The Arabian-specific all purpose saddle was the first one to go. I didn’t have any saddle-sized boxes, but it is easy to fit an English saddle in a decent sized packing box, so I took a quick trip to Home Depot, padded and packed the saddle, and took it to the UPS store to drop it off on Friday evening.

Saturday we planned to pack up the two Western saddles and send them off. Easier said than done. The large packing box I thought would work turned out to be a couple inches short, with not enough wiggle room to angle the saddle differently. Home Depot’s extra large box may hold more total volume than their large box, but the dimensions are even worse for trying to fit a saddle. The UPS store’s only boxes that were big enough could fit a small horse, never mind a saddle. A saddle repair web site recommended something called a small wardrobe box, which Home Depot’s web site said they had in stock, but another trip to the store found the shelf empty.

By the time I left the house the second time I was barking at Rose over my shoulder while slamming the door behind me. When I came home from the UPS store, where I had heard the cashier tell someone else that a package left with them on Saturday would not go out till Monday anyway, Rose asked me why I was so irritated. I said “Hang on, let me email the buyers to let them know the saddles will ship Monday” so I could at least check “set expectations” off my list and calm down about being in such a hurry.

When I came back in the room and tried to explain myself, I realized that the problem wasn’t that I felt rushed, or the boxes were the wrong size, or that we had different ideas about how to pack the saddles, or any of the logistics. One buyer had asked me what kind of horse I had used the saddle on, and I gave her a list by breed and description of the horses who wore the saddle. Horses who are all either dead or retired now. There’s a lot to let go of in letting go of these saddles.

I’m not a person who gets attached much to stuff. Putting me in charge of decluttering is very effective but a bit of a worry, because I will throw out even the most sentimental of possessions. My aunt used to say that my father would read a letter while tearing it in half from the top down, so that by the time he was done reading he could throw it straight in the trash. I don’t know when I adopted similar behaviors, but it seems I have. On the other hand, when I’m not actively trying to get rid of things, they pile up, and I can look the other way – until I suddenly notice the pile one day and want to put a match to it.

I had thought, looking at all the saddles, that I was looking at a pile that needed to be cleared away, and I wasn’t wrong. I just forgot that I might remember all the first and last and worst and best rides in those saddles. I forgot that it’s been ten years since my heart horse died and I have never gotten over it, or let another horse into my heart the same way. I forgot the relief of the momma of our two best horses when we finally put a Western saddle on her and stopped squeezing the breath out of her with an English girth. I didn’t forget, exactly, but I haven’t thought for years about the miles and the shows and the trails and the lameness and the ribbons and the lessons and the joy.

I don’t mind saying goodbye to the saddles. It’s the horses I mind saying goodbye to. If you had asked me three days ago, I would have said “Of course I said goodbye to them, years ago.” It’s only now I realize that I never will.

A Very Very Very Fine House

In the thirty years we’ve known each other, Rose and I have never fully stopped house hunting. For the first seven years we were together we rented different places while looking for a home to buy, and also while waiting for both of us to be ready to buy a home at the same time. We finally bought a house twenty years ago and we are still in that house, but somehow we had made the habit early on of looking for what might be next and we never stopped looking.

When we first moved here, the kids were between 5th and 10th grades. Our plan then was to stay here until they all graduated from high school, and then move somewhere else like Colorado. Or Arizona. Or maybe North Carolina. Or Vermont. But probably Colorado. The kids all graduated from high school, and we stayed here. Then the kids graduated from college, and we stayed here. Two of the kids have moved to Colorado, and here we still are, but we are also still looking.

Even while we dreamed of other states, we also kept looking at other houses in Maryland – bigger farms, mostly. There are several free local horse publications we received through all our moves – free horse publications rival alumni associations when it comes to tracking people down, and they all contain ads for horse farms for sale.

I often read the real estate ads in the free horse publications for the same reasons I read the horses-for-sale ads – a little bit to see what’s out there and a lot to be entertained. The horse ads bring us “ex racehorse with old ocelots” and “works well in arena in on trails nightmarish at all”. In the second case I presume voice text is to blame for this accidental truth in advertising (and the utter lack of punctuation). In the first case, possibly spell check (ocelots, osselets – potato, potahto), or possibly the ex racehorse did time at a wildlife refuge and made some elderly friends. Real estate ads say things like “Secluded and majestic. Sleep peacefully to the sounds of a genital creek flowing directly across the road.” Honestly I don’t even know where to start with that one.

When our oldest child was looking for his first house, we read the ads with a little more purpose, but we often got distracted by things that were nowhere near his price range or taste. One evening we were all sitting around the living room browsing real estate ads on our phones when Rose sent us a link and then said “Look at the beautiful old trees this one has!” Our son said “Mom. For three million dollars that place better have Oompa Loompas and shit.”

Before we found the house we live in now, we spent those seven years looking at houses in four different counties around where our kids went to school. Mostly we looked at places with enough land that we could keep our horses at home, which meant that in our price range some of them barely had a standing house. For a while we could keep track of the houses by location, but after a while we developed a different kind of taxonomy.

The Cat Pee house was distinct from the Pee house (which smelled like baby pee on one end, dog pee in the middle, and incontinent elder pee on the other end). The Jesus Bacon house smelled entirely like bacon and had crucifixes and/or biblical cross stitch in every room. The Drywall house was the old farm house where the bedrooms were made by loosely affixing single thickness drywall sheets to create walls that seemed likely to blow over if you opened more than one upstairs window at the same time.

It was in the Drywall house that we saw the ad for this house for the second time. We had seen it once in a web search, dubbed it The Castle (for the stone turret), laughed at the price, and moved on. Our realtor brought the listing to the Drywall house, anticipating correctly that we would not actually be interested in that one. The price had dropped steeply – we later found out the owners were trying to get out from under it after a divorce – and it had everything we were looking for in terms of land, location, and a house that looked like it would keep standing up for the foreseeable future.

When we moved in, there was grass and there was house. Two azalea bushes, two dogwood trees, and a big lilac bush made up all of the landscaping. The first year we started picking out and planting trees. The soil here is quite rocky, and digging a hole big enough to plant even a small tree is both exhausting and satisfying. The kind of manual labor I like best is kind that is the farthest from my job, which I do sitting in front of a computer. I like to do tasks that have a visible start and end, where when you are finished you have something tangible to point to. I like tasks that use my body – hammering fencing nails, stacking hay bales, digging holes for trees. One of the most satisfying tasks I have done here, one day when I was in a very bad mood about a job I had at the time, was to pound three ten-foot lengths of half inch rebar into the rocky dirt with a sledgehammer. (I needed them to hook up the electric fence, but if you have the land, the rebar and the sledgehammer, I highly recommend this as a form of therapy.)

Most of the trees we have planted are now taller than the house. The fields are set up for our horses, their needs, and our convenience. We have a list of additional projects we talk about doing. We sometimes divide that list between “Things we will do if we stay” and “Things we will do if we sell.” We have a five year plan that involves moving to Colorado, and another plan that doesn’t involve moving at all.

There are three horses grazing in our fields right now, and five horses buried here. The first one went in the ground the summer we moved in, and the last one two summers ago. One of the things that pulls us up short about our five year plan is moving three older horses more than halfway across the country to a completely different environment. Another one is leaving the underground horses. I’m quite sure they won’t mind, but we will.

We’ve been looking pretty hard at houses in Colorado for the past couple of years. Last year we even found a farm where the horses could live since it’s unlikely we will buy a place there with enough land for horses. Leaving got pretty real after that, which put me into two panics, one about leaving here, and one about having to empty out the house and the barn of all our stuff, which sent me straight to “Let’s rent a dumpster and throw everything we own in it and have someone haul it away and oh my god we have to find the perfect house in Colorado right now.”

We’ve both been vacillating between wanting to stay and wanting to go for a few years. Last month we finally made one decison: to put the search on hold for now. We have enough uncertainty in our lives right now without keeping ourselves on the will we/won’t we fence, trying to decide which way to jump. We’ll spend the rest of this year enjoying our trees, and communing with all eight of our horses. Maybe then we will know what comes next.

But I bet we will keep reading the real estate ads.