Love. Listen/Observe/Read. Act. Repeat.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't Spare the Horses.

When Michael was home visiting for the holidays, we had a shared moment for which the details completely escape me now, but after which my son said, "Wow, Mom. Don't spare the horses."

I'd never heard that before. But I liked it. I liked it so much I wondered whether it would make a good New Year's resolution. One I could actually keep.

In a word, yes.

I logged my 500th mile in in training this month and other things in my life are proceeding at that dogged pace.

Last night, I dreamt something was outside my front door. Unlike all the other dreams of monsters and tornadoes and machines and floods and fire and being forced to get control of a runaway vehicle from the backseat of the car, I didn't hesitate.

Texas has a castle law, you know.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #158

Peggy: Are you ready to make some pizza?
Sam: Oh, yes! I've got to get rid of some static electricity first.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #157

Peggy: I don't know what's going on with Gus. He has been anxious for several days now. It's the same kind of anxious he had when the batteries went out on the smoke detector. But we fixed it. Last night, he was so anxious, he couldn't sleep. Today, he doesn't even want to come in the house. I don't get it.
Sam: I think the smoke detector in the office is about to go out.
Peggy: Really? How do you know?
Sam: I can hear it clicking softly when I'm in the office. Can't you hear it?
Peggy: No. Only you and Gus can hear it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #156

Sam: They are asking whether I'm registered for Selective Service.
Peggy: You are. You did that when you were 18. Do you remember filling out that card at the post office?
Sam: They need my SS number.
Peggy: Hmm. I guess you would have a draft number. (rummages through records)
Sam: Wow. I have another number.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #155

Peggy: An argument isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Sam: Yes, but arguments are suspenseful.
Peggy: What do you mean by that?
Sam: You don't always know the outcome. Sometimes it's good. But sometimes it's bad.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #153

Paige: Sam, how do you do that side move on the horse?
Sam: It's tricky, Paige. You have to pull your reins to your foot where you want the horse to go.

Belt Buckle Quality

(The work ... not the video. More short and grainy stuff.)

Sam took first in showmanship in Class A today at Chisholm Challenge.

This event gave him fits when he was younger. If you are not familiar with showmanship, here's what little I know. In many horse shows, competitors are showing the animal to the judge -- just like a dog show, for example -- so it can be evaluated for its conformation to the breed.

Showing an animal is complicated. You've got to get the animal to do things on your lead. People sometimes hire professional handlers to show their dogs. Being judged on showmanship is having someone evaluate your handling skills.

For kids with autism and other disabilities, showing an animal can be wickedly difficult. You have to stay focused. You have to follow directions with many steps. If your animal doesn't behave as expected, you have to deal with it.

That's gray-matter growing stuff.

I highly recommend it for kids with disabilities. Some stables will take kids at-risk. Michael rode for a year after he had surgery on his ear to help correct some balance and perception problems. Sam has been riding at Riding Unlimited since he was five. If you can volunteer or donate to a therapeutic riding program, you will be a big part of making amazing things happen in your community. Some volunteer programs will help you learn to ride, too.

Just one caveat: make sure the program, the instructors and the facility are certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, or PATH International. They used to be known as NAHRA.

Here's Sam's showmanship performance. Class A patterns are more difficult. The other classes do simpler patterns for the judge, just walking up, turning and coming back.

And here's his buckle!

Here is video his performance in trail.

We haven't heard how he did there. It takes a while for them to run the tallies. Sam was tired. We went home for lunch and rested.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bonanza is a Paint

Here are some videos from today's ride. During English equitation today, Sam and Bonanza walked, trotted and cantered in Class A.

Sam took second. It was a wonderful ride.

Tomorrow is trail and showmanship.

Charging the battery tonight.

Overheard in the Wolfe House #152

Peggy: Who are you riding at Chisholm Challenge?
Sam: Bonanza
Peggy: What kind of horse is he?
Sam: Brown.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #151

Sam: Uh, do I need to do something else?
Peggy: I'll be off the computer soon. I'm just writing a blog post about my grandmother.
Sam: Won't that make us sadder?

Being Who You Are

My grandmother's 90th birthday was was her last.

We knew that. Her cancer was untreatable. She had been blinded by macular degeneration years ago. She sent word through the family that she wouldn't be sending Christmas cards anymore.

It's a big family, on my mom's side. My mother is the oldest of nine. I'm the oldest granddaughter of, um, about sixteen, or so, I think. I haven't met all my cousins. Many are still in Wisconsin, but not all. The great-grandchildren number more than 40, and yes, I believe there are great-great-grandchildren, too. My youngest uncle is only two years older than I am.

What can I say, except we're a big, Catholic family.

Except about 10 years ago, Grandma let go that we weren't always. Mom went back to meet the cousins in Northern Ireland. My great-grandfather came over from Ireland as a Presbyterian. He never sent for his family. He married my great-grandmother, shown in this photo with my grandmother.

Grandma converted to Catholicism to marry Grandpa.

My grandmother liked ham sandwiches and drank black coffee no matter what. She knew everything there was to know about babies. She was loving, but not a sentimental person nor the keeper of scores of family treasures (if there even were any).

She liked tossing out the old and in with the new. Grandma was in the moment.

But she was always stitching something. She was the first relative to show me the value of handmade gifts. One year, Grandma and Grandpa made all the granddaughters doll beds of wooden spools and cut coat hangers. They were canopy beds, and mine had pink flocking. I couldn't believe I got the pink one. In my seven-year-old opinion, it was the prettiest of all the beds.

Whenever I visited my grandparents, which got harder and harder to do as the years went by, I would get a tour of the house to see the latest creations. It was as good as touring a folk art museum.

There were other family secrets Grandma never shared. Some we knew, but couldn't speak of, because she wouldn't acknowledge them. Some we learned from Aunt Bea.

Aunt Bea, the originator of the family's sweet roll recipe, and the speaker of family secrets.

Grandma probably just found out how much her sister Bea let on. Don't worry, Grandma. It's all good. It's all about the love. You knew that and so do we.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chisholm Challenge

Before the bull and bronc riders, before the rodeo show and the barrel racers at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, you can see some terrific horsemanship at the Chisholm Challenge for Special Riders.

Thanks to all the volunteers and staff, and sponsors, of the area stables that continue to serve the community in a way no other recreational outlet can.

If you check it out, you'll never see horses and riders in quite the same way again.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Peanut Sauce Promise

Here is the recipe Mark got from the hornist when they were both principals in the Sacramento Symphony.

I found the recipe unexpectedly authentic and always wondered where Eric got it. Mark used to like to say that, as a French hornist, Eric played very sharp and nearly missed all the notes. It's tuba humor. You had to be there.

Peanut Sauce

1 chicken carcass
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch green onions
3 carrots
1/2 bunch of celery
3 yellow onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup ginger juice (grate fresh ginger and squeeze through a cheese cloth)
2 1/4 pounds crunchy peanut butter
1 1/2 lb jar of Crosse and Blackwell
red sambal
3 T butter
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In four quarts of water, boil chicken with cilantro, green onions, carrots and celery for one hour. Cool to lukewarm and strain.

Saute onions and garlic in butter and olive oil til golden, set aside.

Add peanut butter to lukewarm broth. (If broth is too warm, it will coagulate.) Stir until lumps are gone. Add onion mixture, cocktail sauce, ginger juice and red sambal to taste. Stir thoroughly.

This makes a lot of peanut sauce. Serve over cold noodles and cucumber cut julienne. Stir fry tofu til brown, add red peppers and spinach til wilted, stir in peanut sauce as desired. Marinate chicken in sauce, grill, basting with additional sauce. Give a jar to a friend.

It Takes a Village

Sam didn't learn to swim the summer this little movie was made. He was 4 1/2 years old. He enjoyed the water very much.

After we moved to Texas, my neighbor, Karol Smith, took all three of my kids into her backyard pool and taught them to swim in a week. She said she'd taught dozens of kids to swim by condensing the way most parks and rec programs did it -- sometimes over several years of summers. She guaranteed she'd get it done.

It was the summer Paige turned 6, so Michael would have been 8, and Sam, 11. I was certain she'd have Michael and Paige swimming, but told her Sam might take a little longer.

It didn't. And, Karol turned Sam into the biggest fish of them all.

Overheard in the Wolfe House #150

Peggy: Was it fun seeing Kelley's new baby today?
Sam: Oh, yes. I'm sure it inspired sentimental feelings in you, when you took care of us when we were infants.
Peggy: Oh, yes.
Sam: Of course, it made me remember when I was born.
Peggy: You can remember when you were born?
Sam: Yes, I can.
Peggy: What all do you remember?
Sam: The hospital looked very similar.