If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

Ari Half Moon Bay

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.”
― Carl Sandburg


Ariel in 2013, with Dona.

Today is a special day.  The light of my life celebrates her nineteenth birthday.

It is such a cliche to ask where the time has gone.  Last week, I was looking at framed photographs of her through the years, and experienced nostalgia that was nearly panic, looking into the familiar eyes, the familiar face, the smile filled with baby teeth, of that beloved child.  That child is lost to me forever, at least those earlier versions.  Every year, she is replaced with the current, updated version of herself.  I love them all, but I cannot help but miss the Ariels of Birthdays Past, even as I love the current and future Ariel more every minute.

Today she is everything on my list of gratitudes.  Whenever I doubt myself, my life, my choices, I know I have this one thing that turned out perfectly because of me and in spite of me.

An earlier birthday girl also loved black horses.

An earlier birthday girl also loved black horses.

The funny thing about time is that the hours and days seem to pass so slowly sometimes, but the years pile up in a hurry.  We could probably adjust to it more easily if it were only the time that were passing, but in reality, with it, time drags everything into a constant evolution.

The baby who held my earlobe for security and played with pairs of plastic animals in the bathtub all too quickly became the toddler who told me, “Ah, shit!” from her car seat one January when I told her that Kiddieland was closed for the winter.

Ariel in the Summer of 2014.

Ariel in the Summer of 2014.

I remember the first time she insisted on walking into school on the first day of first grade without me, dressed in a purple down parka, with a backpack that was so big next to tiny her that it almost dragged the ground.  She trudged up the gothic stairs at the Lab School, her blonde curls bouncing in the wind, and when she didn’t even turn back to see me in the car line, I cried.  I want her to be independent.  I want her to not need me.  But maybe not just yet (even still).

Ariel on Dona in 2005, trusted friends ever since then.

Ariel on Dona in 2005, trusted friends ever since then.

When Ari was seven, we bought a pony that ended up being not suitable for a child.  We found this out when the pony spooked at the barn owner’s dog and sent me sailing in a fall that left me biting through the nerve in my lower lip, my helmet breaking (saving my nose), gravel embedded in my face, and a bruised kidney.  As I leaned over the bathroom sink trying to determine if the grit I was spitting out was my teeth or arena gravel, I heard the other barn kids asking Ariel if her mother was alright, to which she screamed, “Well she would be if it weren’t for your asshole dog!!”

Birthday Past 2013.

Birthday Past 2013.

I can recall a million tiny details.  A million moments in time that, when woven together, knit my favorite story of all time, a story where the heroine is a sassy, intelligent, resourceful and hilarious beauty with the golden tresses, the dazzling smile and sparkling blue eyes even better than a Disney princess.

I am grateful.  I am grateful for each moment and each memory.  I am grateful for all those bathroom stops we had to make on every road trip; I am grateful for the times we went to war over homework; I am grateful for the Halloween costumes and the pink birthday parties and the back to school shopping, and the friend dramas, and the messy bedroom and the undone chores and the done chores.  I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

Ari and Byttersweet in 2008.

Ari and Byttersweet in 2008.

Today, she is a freshman in college and we are beginning the next chapter in this wonderful book.  I am so proud of you, Ari, and I am so grateful to have you for my daughter.  Happy Birthday.  I love you!

~ Mommy

PS – Yes, I am making you a flan instead of a birthday cake 🙂

ari and me

Ariel and me 1999.

Ariel in Summer 2014.  Photo © Visual Stimulus Photography

Ariel in Summer 2014. Photo © Visual Stimulus Photography

Ariel in 2011.  Photo © Visual Stimulus Photography

Ariel in 2011

Moving in the Season of Gratitude

DSC_0832-001Moving. Everybody hates moving, right? It is the menstruation of life events, not catastrophic like major illness or death in the family, but never good. No one likes moving.

My doctor tells me that death, divorce and moving are the three most stressful life events for people. Well, I got divorced in September and moved in October.  (I will uncharitably add that whose death occurs impacts how stressful it might or might not be…)

The divorce was life altering, for the better, the lifting of a huge amount of dead weight and an overall relief (even though the process is not fun for anyone, for sure).   Sometimes you do not realize what a burden something has become until the boulder is lifted from your chest.

Moving sucked, even though I am moving to a home I like better with a lot more space, better views, less traffic, and an indoor arena.

I acknowledge up front that moving is horrible for everyone, but indulge me for a moment while I lick my own wounds. Moving under a very tight time constraint with more dogs than you can count on one hand, horses, a smattering of snakes (one of which, sadly, escaped just before I moved and I was never able to find her), and a fractured ankle proved to be — um — challenging.

It rained, of course it  rained, on moving day.  In fact, it poured.  The trailer ball on the truck I rented to pull my horse trailer ended up being the wrong size.

Two of my bitches came into season just prior to the move, to ensure that everyone would be at their barking and howling best on moving day (and beyond).

My debit card got hacked (for the fifth time).

AT&T was supposed to be there on October 31st to install phones and internet.  They no-showed, but then arrived unexpectedly on November 1st with four other contractors.  They installed the phones but told me that they “did not have time” to do the internet, so they would come back in a few days.  When they came back on November 5th, the internet still did not work.  When I pressed them about this on the 6th, they confessed that they did not have any idea when it could be done.  Comcast said no.  Frontier said no.  My local independent provider said no.  DISH was too expensive.  So I called my friendly neighbor across the street and asked her what internet service she had.  Her response:  AT&T. frownie face here.>  I called AT&T back again and used a more motivating tone with them (which may or may not have involved mention of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act), and lo and behold, they installed DSL on November 11th!

In the mean time, I had no fenced area for the dogs.  For the first two weeks, at least one dog got loose each day.  Fortunately, I did manage to get them all back.

The barn cat I inherited (Theo) has a weepy eye, a wet cough, and two unwanted testicles, all of which need to go away.


Minnie Pearl, Oprah, Brigitta, Marilyn, Scarlett, Miley, Vulture and the one without a name yet.

Because things were not interesting enough and I was apparently too idle, I purchased eight chickens to help fill my spare time.  Theo is very happy with this development.

To make a long story less long, I am no longer sleeping on the floor and I have a large, fenced pasture for the Sloughis to stretch their legs.  My dining room is still packed floor-to-ceiling like a hoarder show, but this, too, shall pass. (Or else, I can just seal that room off into a crypt.)  Somehow, I will make a Sloughi specialty show happen at my house this weekend.  Still a little sketchy on how all of that will work out.

So, as we gallop down the runway to my favorite holiday, here is what I am thankful for:

I am grateful for my brilliant and beautiful daughter, who on most days is the light of my life, and on the rest of the days teaches me ariel-morganpatience.

I am grateful for my amazing family and friends who are truly responsible for moving me, both physically and otherwise.

I am grateful for my animals.

I am grateful for simple things – like hot baths, strong coffee, clean sheets, the nicker of horses, the smell of hay, dry champagne and the dazzling, pink sunrises I see every morning over my pasture.

And I am grateful to you, my dear reader, for indulging me once again with your time and interest in reading this blog.

I hope your cup runneth over this holiday season with things for which to be thankful.


Gratitudes 7/26/2013


Flash and Erika, 1993. Photo © Mindy L. Beebe

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”   ― Anne Frank

Today’s Gratitudes ~

I am grateful that it is Friday!

I am grateful for that wonderful region of New Zealand called Marlborough, where they produce the crispest, most refreshing and delicious Sauvignon blancs that all come with screw tops;

I am grateful that Mindy has started blogging her own gratitudes, and I hope that each of you reading this think about your blessings in an affirmative way every single day, even if you are not so self-indulgent as to blog about them;

I am grateful for the people in my life, old and new, who surprise me on a daily basis with their humor, their wisdom, their whimsy, their concern, their support, and the magical ways they change me and they change my life for the better;

I am grateful for perspectives gained through trials and tribulations;

I am grateful for my spectacular daughter; and

I am grateful for my dogs, past and present, that love me and have loved me with reckless abandon and my horses, my dreams come true.

I will be grateful on Monday if every person who reads this post has a happy, healthy and safe weekend.

And here is a promise to you – I am not going to publish my gratitudes every single day.  I will publish regularly, though (sorry for that – I am self centered and self indulgent).

Gratitudes of 7/25/13


“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.”    ~ Helen Keller

Today’s Gratitudes ~

I am grateful that I caught the typo in yesterday’s gratitudes, which now has the correct date!

I am grateful that my incredible daughter cleaned the kitchen for me today;

I am grateful that I was the lucky mother that was blessed enough to have that daughter as a baby and a toddler and a little girl and every new version of her that passes through my threshold each passing year;

I am grateful for my oldest friend, Mindy, who never misses the opportunity to remind me that she loves me unconditionally and I love her back;

I am grateful that the soundtrack to “About Last Night” arrived and now I have Bob Seger’s best song ever in my iTunes; and

I am grateful for photography and writing, my two channels to the world.


Gratitudes of 7/24/13

Ari-DonaOptimism begins with gratitude!

Today’s gratitudes ~ 

I am grateful for my amazing daughter who is going to come and warm up a horse for Liz and Gracie after I bruised my knees so badly that I can’t stand the pressure of riding breeches on them;

I am grateful that Raksha’s girl finally had a litter (no one will ever accuse Assyra of being easy); and

I am grateful for the 20-something gas station attendant and the silly compliment he blurted out and then blushed down to his shirt collar this morning when he was giving me change.

Almost forgot one — I am grateful that I did not wet my pants in the car this morning on my 2.5 hour commute into the city!