"Who ever heard, indeed, of an autobiography that was not interesting? I can recall none in all the literature of the world."

Henry Louis Mencken, American Humorist, Journalist

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Garrison Kellor, A Prairie Home Companion, "The News from Lake Wobegon," Storyteller Extraordinaire, Always a Welcome Companion and a Good Listen

Garrison Keillor, Prairie Home Companion, The News From Lake Wobegon. A good companion anytime. Enjoy! There are 99 videos at at his channel on youtube, and I subscribe to get email notices when there's a new one.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Back to the 70's, Poetry, "Ethereal Dream," and an Arabian Horse

"Ethereal Dream" was one of the poems I wrote in the 70's that was published internationally by the official publication for the U.S. equestrian team, The Chronicle of the Horse.

"Ethereal Dream"

Storybook horse, fantasy dream
Are you ethereal as you seem?
Mane, part of the whispering wind,
Floating about you, hair unpinned.
You couldn't be part of this world,
Ghostly beauty and speed unfurled.
Tomorrow let's gallop into the mist,
Where rosy dawn bears the sun's kiss.
Real it will be, but make-believe it will seem,
As if we're riding from life to our dream."

I wrote this poem about Sahla Ibn Siham, aka "Victor the Wonder Horse" a pumpkin bay polish Arabian colt that I got as a yearling, raised and trained. He did it all, dressage, jumping, working cattle, trails, liberty performances by vocal commands and hand signals for local adult ed groups. Soulmate spirit horse.

He was a character and half. Spirit, intelligence, playing games, mischief maker.

One morning I arrived at the stable, finding Victor loose, having breakfast on alfalfa over by the tack room. Smiled at me. Yes, he had a smile like you wouldn't believe, and his eyes sparkled with mischief. A wise guy Houdini horse.

He had reached over the top of the dutch door on his stall. Undid the latch that was on the outside of it with his teeth.

Eventually we had a whole series of latches on top of latches on his stall's dutch door. He delighted in solving these puzzles.

I was going to get him a rubic's cube but never got around to it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Flashback to 1971 - Circus Girl - "Lions, Tigers, and Horses,Oh My!"

My horse Commodore and I fit right in at PT Barnum and Bailey Circus at the Cow Palace, San Francisco.

He, a good looking tall black-bay with a long mane, wearing a new red halter and a leadrope on one side as a rein. Me, 19 years old, riding him bareback.

Lions looked out at us from cages, elephants were led by, people were milling around.

It was 1971, my Mom and I moved to Santa Barbara, California. We took a horse trailer up to San Francisco to pick up Commodore. A professional had trailered him across country from Wisconsin.

I hadn't seen him for a year, having been away at college. Commodore had been turned out in a giant pasture in Wisconsin.

The Cow Palace sign announced "PT Barnum and Bailey Circus."

We located the truck driver and Commodore.

I knew right away Commodore hadn't forgotten me.

I slipped the new red halter on him with the leadrope. "Would you give me a leg up please?" I asked the truck driver.

In my mind I said to Commodore, "Comma, I have missed you so much."

The past year melted away.

Commodore was a tall jumping horse, spirited, and I had never ridden him bareback with only a halter and a leadrope on one side.

We instantly connected, tuned in to each other. We took off riding around the circus.

We stopped at the lion cage. All kinds of circus animals were in cages nearby or being led around.

People in the crowd smiled at us, watched, waved, pointed at him. I knew Commodore was trusting me. That was why he wasn't nervous or spooking.

The bystanders probably thought I was a circus girl, one of the bareback riders with her trusty trick horse.

In my mind I said to him, "Oh Comma thank you! You're so good."

Commodore in his red halter, me riding bareback, we watched the PT Barnum and Bailey circus at the Cow Palace.

It was not your everyday experience, but Commodore was not your everyday horse.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Native American Storyteller Little Hawk Shares Wisdom

The heartfelt genuine quality of this storytelling by Little Hawk makes it so real, so wonderful. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

1965 - Slice of Life - Scandal and Me

Open the mind's closet for 1965.

I'm 13 years old, and this is the era of "Scandal and Me." Scandal was a black half-Arabian, half-thoroughbred mare. Scandal and I often stayed out on the trails in the snowy winters until after dark. I leaned down low over her neck, shining a flashlight on the paths. It was an adventure.

It's 1965, and I'm in the 8th grade.

A huge horse farm was built a few years ago across the corn field behind our house. For several years I've been working there every day after school and on Saturdays.

In the 6th grade I started at $2 a day and now I am making $3 a day. I give the money to my parents to help with Scandal's expenses.

School's from 8 to 3:15, and by 3:40 I'm heading over to Fairlane Farms. Several years ago my parents put in a corral in the back. My dreams came true when I got a beautiful black half-Arabian, half-thoroughbred mare, Scandal.

It's winter, and after school it's dash out to throw the bridle and saddle on Scandal, ride through the fields to the horse farm.

Put Scandal in an empty stall, start brushing and saddling horses, get the students on their horses, accompany them on any horse that needs exercise or training to the riding ring where the stable owner gives lessons.

After half hour in the ring, then I take them for a 15-20 minute trail ride. Then we get the next group of students out for another lesson.

If it's raining or snowy the lessons are held in the indoors riding ring, well lit.

At 6 pm the second lesson ends, we unsaddle and put the horses away, and start filling water buckets with hoses, cleaning, getting the flakes of hay and filling the grain buckets.

The stable owner has a large family and by working there I am part of the extended family.

Speakers in the barn and indoor ring provide the times' popular music for our riding and chores. We might be trotting around the ring to "I Wanna Hold Your Haaaand."

Now we're done. My friends, who now have horses too, often hang around the barn as it's our second home. We can pretend to be horses.

We gallop around, whinnying and neighing, jumping hay bales, barrels, and low post and rails. Since the first grade we've been drawing horses, watching horse movies, dreaming horses, imagining what it's like to be a horse.

Now it's 6:30 or close to 7, and it's dark outside in the winter. Scandal and I set out across the snowy fields for home, under the stars.

I carry a flashlight in one hand to light her way on the paths, and lean over close to her mane for warmth, escaping the night wind. I know she will take good care of me. We're that close.

There's a flood light on at the hay barn and corral at my house. I take off Scandal's saddle and bridle, and brush her to smooth the hair.

In the winter she has a loooooonnnng shaggy coat, like a horse from the north pole.

I feed her some treats, we talk or communicate in our own way, and I break open a bale of hay.

She has a 3 sided shed but is free to roam outside. It's nice to see her have this freedom to roam instead of living in a stall.

It's important to me for Scandal to be happy. If I were her, I'd want that freedom.

I check the heating coil in the water trough to be sure it's working and she has water not ice. Janey, the retired racehorse our vet gave me, and her colt are there too.

My feet feel a little numb from the cold, although I've got them wrapped in celaphane to keep dampness out, am wearing a pair of wool socks and a pair of knee socks, and a pair of rubber riding boots.

Of course I have on long underwear tops and bottoms, wool riding britches, and a winter parka. It's a wonder a person can get a foot up in the stirrup to get on with all these clothes.

My ears are covered with a knitted ear warmer that goes under the riding helmet. One's hands start to get numb in this cold too but this is all unimportant compared to the rewards of horses.

Soon the horses are happily muching. There's a starry sky, a moon reflecting on the snow, and it's sooooo peaceful. I loiter but finally go back to the house. It's time to have supper, take the Irish Setters out for walks, and do homework.

Can't wait for tomorrow afternoon, when Scandal and I share another adventure.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Banana Peel Stories - Times When Something Slipped or Went Wrong - But Everyone Landed on Their Feet

These stories are all from the times when we lived on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and I was in junior high or high school.

1 - First Banana Peel Story - When Something Went Wrong - "Sailing 101 and the Crash Landing"

My folks bought an older refurbished class X 16 ft. sailboat for my brother and I to use and signed us up for sailing lessons. I was in about the 7th grade and B.J. was 2 years younger.

Right after we started lessons my Dad decided to have B.J. and I take the sailboat out while he drove next to us in the Boston Whaler. He thought we'd had enough lessons to know the gist of it, and we thought the same about him. We were all wrong.

The wind came up, it got a little gusty and scarey, and Dad yelled for us to take the sailboat back. I was older and holding onto the tiller then. Holding onto it, not really being a skipper.

As the sailboat headed toward the pier, with a rising wind, gathering speed, I waited for my father to yell over to us what to do since I didn't know how to land a sailboat. I could see the people on the pier looked worried as we got close. I didn't know yet about tacking into the wind and letting the sails luff.

Dad was yelling but in the wind we didn't understand what he said. So we, I, kept going. We saw the sunbathers on the pier get up and run away.

Crash! The bow hit the pier, the front plate and stay broke, the jib, mainsail and wooden mast fell over.

B.J. and I, sensing we were supposed to have done this differently, jumped up and ran off the boat all the way up to the house.

The next week our sailing class got to the part about landing the boat.

2- Second Banana Peel Story - A Rogue Wave, A Runaway Speedboat, and 2 Lifeguards

Lake Geneva had tour boats that created gigantic waves when they went by.

I was about 15 years old. One day I was going all out in the Boston Whaler, full throttle, when one of these waves hit just right at an angle. The boat jumped into the air, I lost my grip on the outboard motor handle, and I flew into the air, the water.

From the water, in my clothes, I saw the outboard motor handle swing over to the other side so the boat began to circle back toward me, really flying. This could have been life threatening.

I heard a voice yell - "Over here!" A Gordy's rental ski boat with 2 cute guys about my age roared in with their 80 horsepower mercs, one guy grabbed my arms and pulled me into the boat, and they roared out before the Boston Whaler could hit.

The Boston Whaler went into a pattern of roaring around in figure 8's, with the outboard motor handle swinging back and forth. Each time the handle swung the whole boat jumped into the air and began a different circle.

A crowd gathered on the shore. My rescuers and I joined them. Someone said "Guess we have to wait till it runs out of gas" but another said "let's foul the prop with a ski tow rope." And that's what they did. By then several water safety patrol boats were there too.

They wanted to know who did this. I tried to blend into the crowd. My father showed up. Oh dear.

I was grounded because it was thought I must have been really hot rodding to get thrown out of the boat. Finally my mom convinced my dad that it really was a freak accident.

My mom was grateful to the 2 high school guys who rescued me. They turned out to be swim team competitors who were lifeguards from Michigan. They were done with their lifeguard jobs because it was almost the end of the summer.

So, my mom invited the 2 lifeguards to stay with us for a week in my brother's room, and B.J. slept on the couch. We all became friends and got along quite well.

My steady boyfriend from high school was over there every single minute possible keeping an eye on my lifeguard/rescuers, who were continuing to keep an eye on me.

They may have thought I would have another boating accident at any moment.

Perhaps they thought since they had saved me that it was their duty to continue to be protective.

So when my boyfriend came over the lifeguard - rescue guys were always there too. I have to admit I enjoyed it.

3 - Third Banana Peel Story - The Iceboat Without a Rudder

My dad was co-owner of a class A iceboat. His friend, the other owner, was on the board for the Stock Exchange in Chicago. I guess they both liked risk.

Lake Geneva was 12 miles long and up to 3 miles wide, so it could accommodate an 80 foot long iceboat that had a telephone pole as it's center. The crew rode in a basket made of super thick ropes at the back of the telephone pole. The tiller controlled the angle of the blades on the ice, which protruded out on the sides. The class A ice boat looked a little like a big cross.

It looked like a quiet day, almost no wind, and my dad couldn't find anyone else to crew on the iceboat that day. The crew's job was to move across the rope basket and use their weight to keep the iceboat from tipping over, somersaulting really, on the ice. I only weighted about 110.

The giant telephone pole had a huge mast and sail. We pushed the iceboat to get it going, then hopped in. Everything was ok until the tiller broke.

The wind had come up. We were in a rope basket at the back of an 80 ft telephone pole with a sail full of wind on a lake with mostly a rocky shore. It only takes a little wind to go really fast.

And..we were going really fast. "We'll have to use our weight to try to steer it into the wind' my dad shouted. He released the mainsail sheet to let the boom swing out and try to let air out of the sail, but we were still moving fast, the runners hissing. We leaned way out on one side but the boat seemed to be heading right for the rocks. The runners weren't responding to the weight change.

We went to one side of the crew's basket and half jumped to the other side to throw some real weight into it. The rocks were getting closer and it would be like a car crash, only on ice.

Slowly the runners responded and we began to circle away from the shore. The iceboat kept circling and ran into the wind and eventually it slowed and stopped.

We looked over at the shore but no one was around. My dad said, "Don't ever tell your mother about this."