“Horsicles”, or “Oh Man, why art thou so hairless”

Navigating through a wintry mix over snow-packed roads made me a little smug today…

Brave.  Even with 4-wheel drive.

Determined. Even cocooned in the climatized, 86-degree truck cab.

Battling the elements. Until, I pulled up and saw the horsicles in the pasture. That’s right, frozen horses, strolling around oblivious to the frigid storm. I thought, OK it must just be a fluffy little layer of snow, how cute. And then I touched their ice-encrusted coats. Yikes. Thinking like a hairless human, I rushed to grab a curry comb to de-ice them, but still they were wet and cold.

Sitting inside I fretted, Why won’t they stay in the barn. I worried, while my pellet stove blasted me with heat. Should I insist and shut them in? An hour past, then two. Blankets? I gave into anxiety, pulled on my boots, and braved the night to make sure they hadn’t frozen solid.

Completely dry. Toasty warm. Biology, you amaze me. Thermostats have nothing on good-old-fashioned physiology.

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Dear Winter,

Last night it lingered at zero degrees. The horses’ whiskers are beaded in ice, their breath a ghostly whisper. The cold seeps further than the physical, freezing my willpower to go be outside, where I love to roam.

Until I do. When I bundle, insulating myself from the frozen world, and face the forces of nature; I feel so very alive.

When the neighbor-boys, coats flapping, unzipped; duck through the weathered fence and climb aboard a bareback steed, we’re connected in the winter-wild.

Thank you winter.

I forgive you.

Now, can we call a truce?

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Riding as the year dies

Under a glitter-gilded blanket lies a silent field,
Stone-strewn, frozen and still.
Freshly-fallen snow is slashed by furrowed streaks,
Summer’s ghost whispers of a wind-kissed night.

Solitary-strikes, hoof on snow,
Toward Heaven’s shadows, the mountains swell far-flung
Our muffled-march an illusion, the towering peaks unmoved.
The whole earth struck speechless in the blinding light.

Minute-morphed an hour flies.
And soon will go the year.
Sunbeams shine on chestnut hide,
We two are one, alone, in a world of white.

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Dressage in the Snow


When I ride, I love to gallop and jump. But what to do in the snow? Snow requires walking gingerly; hooves fill up with balls of ice. So I decided to practice the one thing I hate: dressage.

Every horse sport has special challenges and in dressage it is the subtle communication that I find difficult. Tiny pressures and placements ask the horse to dance in movements he would never perform in nature. I ask, he doesn’t understand. I ask, he tries but can’t quite bend. And normally I get frustrated enough to quit after a few minutes. But in the snow it was the only thing to do.

So I tried. And kept trying. And then tried imagining the movement in my head. As soon as I did, I felt a release in my horse. Ah, this is the big deal! To think and move as one, softly crunching the snow underfoot.

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I always wanted to paint, but I never could get past the expense, mess, and frustration. Pencil drawings are great, but they lack the power of color. Now with the new app Paper I’ve found the best of both worlds. It feels like a whole new medium. It has its own techniques, and its own characteristic appearance.

These are my very first experiments using this app. ImageImage

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What Technology Cultivates


Michael Hyatt makes the best arguments I’ve heard for using social media. In his blog post “Answers to the Top 10 Twitter Objections” he writes:

“Twitter is one of those things that merely amplifies what you already are. If you are narcissistic, then Twitter will give you a way to become even more narcissistic. But you won’t attract many followers. The key to that is being genuinely other-centered and generous. In fact, that is precisely the thing that gets other people’s attention and is rewarded on Twitter. ”

I’ve thought about going off the social media grid. But the thing that’s kept me on it is seeing posts that do reach-out, enlighten, or show a new side of an old friend.

In a 1987 interview titled, “Why I am not going to buy a computer,” published by the New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly Wendell Berry argues the other side. Here is one of his rules for the acceptable use of technology:

(9) It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.

Reflecting these values is one of Berry’s greatest gifts. Through his characters he has described the subtle intricacies of the “in-betweeness” created through places, communities, and each other.

Better Writing

My computer makes me faster, simplifies editing, and greatly improves my spelling. Twitter helps with pith. Facebook makes me ponder the worth of my thoughts before launching them to countless friends. But am I losing something too? Again Wendell Berry:

“My final and perhaps mv best reason for not owning a computer is that I do not wish to fool myself. I disbelieve, and therefore strongly resent, the assertion that I or anybody else could write better or more easily with a computer than with a pencil. I do not see why I should not be as scientific about this as the next fellow: when somebody has used a computer to write work that is demonstrably better than Dante’s, and when this better is demonstrably attributable to the use of a computer, then I will speak of computer with a more respectful tone of voice, though I still will not buy one.”


I live far from my childhood home. My friends are scattered across the globe. Facebook, email, and Skype help keep these scattered pieces of me sewn together. But then there are the times I’ve seen ugly words. Hurt feelings. A judgement. And I wonder…

What do you think?

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The next minute you catch him like this…


Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macacity,

There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.

He always has an alibit, or one or two to spare:

And whatever time the deed took place–MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!


Cat personality. It’s hard to understand. Here is my attempt to depict actual events. Does he not realize he is small and soft; she weighs 1000 lbs?

I could never find the words to do this troublemaker justice. So I’m very grateful T S Eliot captured the persona in  “Macavity- The Mystery Cat”

Macavity’s a mystery cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw–                                                           For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.                                                                He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:                  …

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