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I was hoping 2010 would be better than 2009.

aHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA!

Yeah, right.

The short list: both our cars are part of the major recalls (Toyota’s sticking accelerator and Honda’s exploding-shrapnel-creating air bags). Michael had a major back flare (ow!). Then there was the identity theft… the family member hospitalized (lots of worry but everything’s OK now)… the dental woes… the toilet that broke… the… well, never mind. You get the idea.

All in all, a stellar start to the year.

Not.

As an aside, and to put it in perspective, what we’ve been through is nothing compared to what my neighbor’s family has gone through in the last several weeks. His lovely wife is Haitian, and I swear, if I hear anyone else on the “righteous right” saying that Haitians “brought disaster on themselves because they made a pact with the devil,” I am going smack them up the side of the head until their brain cells begin working again. It’s called a natural disaster, folks. Deal with it, stop blaming the victims, get off your self-righteous butt and do something to help, like sending a donation to Catholic Relief Services or the Red Cross. Geez.

Anyways, I promised eons ago when I last posted that I was going to take a trip through my old archives and see if I could find some nice photos of Beth, our beloved Morgan mare. And I did find some!

Beth and Rain

This is Beth doing what a good broodmare does… keeping an eye on the young’un and eating. That handsome young fella by her is Rain, Beth’s last foal (he’s a registered Morgan, too). Rain went on to do his momma proud, and became a specially trained search and rescue horse for the U.S. Forest Service.

Beth's Pretty Face

Here’s a close-up of Beth’s face. I took this shot when she and I were out on one of our many long walks, and she paused to look at a distant deer. I think she’s about twelve years old in this photo; she lived to be a month short of 30!

Rain and Me

And here’s Rain, aka Mr. Cutey, himself, at his inquisitive best, having a little conversation with me. Morgans are hard to photograph, btw, as the minute they see you they’re right up in your face, socializing and checking everything out to see if you’ve just happened to bring along a tasty snack or two. Even young Morgan foals like Rain are incredibly curious and friendly. They learn very quickly, too, just how nice it is to have a human scratch their itchy spots, especially when they start to shed their first coat of baby fuzz.

Twilight and newborn Starlight

And, as a bonus, look at this photo I found stashed away! This is a young black Morgan mare I’d leased for a while, Twilight, and her newborn Morgan foal, Starlite. I took the photo shortly after Starlite was born.

Oh Best Beloved, you’re seeing Starlite just as she’s figuring out how to safely stay balanced on those long spindly legs of hers. Isn’t that neat?!

Looky What I Found!

JAS and Beth in full circus costume for The Field Of Cloth Of Gold

I’ve been doing a bit of browsing through ancient files copied off from a long-gone PC, and discovered this image. It was taken during one of the times that Beth and I participated in the Circus World Museum/Ringling Brothers Great Circus Parade.

That outfit is really… pink. And really… purple… And really… poofy… and really circus, to its core.

I absolutely hated the costume, but I wasn’t the one picking out outfits. It was custom designed and sewn as a sidesaddle costume for me as part of the “Field of Cloth of Gold” troupe, by the wardrobe mistress of Ringling Brothers circus. I’m not a pink and purple and frills sort of gal, and never was. This was the frothiest, pinkest and purplest glittery concoction imaginable, with lots of fake jewels and my very own crown. I’m sure it’s what most little girls who ever fell in love with a Disney Princess imagine themselves wearing. Even if it wasn’t my cup of tea, these kinds of costumes are intended to please, and from the crowd reactions they did.

Six of us rode sidesaddle on our matching red-bay Morgan horses, representing queens of England and France. Our costumes were a palette of matching shiny satin pastels–pink, pale purple, soft green, and pale blue, each color outlined with panels of gold cloth and the whole coated with lots and lots of glittery circus jewels. The horses were draped with trappings of gold and “jewels,” and even their bridles and saddlecloths were covered with sparkly gold cloth and circus jewels. The entire troupe included dozens of costumed riders, each as spectacularly costumed as the last. We looked like the ultimate in medieval bling.

My mare Beth (also known as The Greatest Horse Ever) was quite a trooper, as she had to present herself as the perfect ladies mount for spectators whilst literally surrounded by any horse’s worst nightmares–lions, tigers and bears (oh my!), elephants, snakes, the odd pygmy hippo and baby giraffe, and a score of other unusual critters, dozens of marching bands, over fifty antique circus wagons pulled by teams of thundering draft horses, and unimaginable crowds of spectators (at just one of these parades alone we had over 1.5 million spectators!). Oh, yes, and there also were television crews from the major networks and PBS that would run up right in front of us or from either side with extra lights to shine in Beth’s eyes, with crew sporting all sorts of spooky equipment. That was always fun… almost as much fun as the balloons popping and clowns shooting off blanks from their pistols as they raced about.

Nary a snort. That’s my girl.

She never put a foot wrong throughout, my Beth, even though she was anything but a dull or placid horse.

I’ll have to rummage around and see if I have some better photos of her in her hey day. I may even have some photos around of her with her last foal, Knight, a rascal if there ever was one, who grew up to become part of a U.S. Forest Service’s Search and Rescue Team.

Hm, I wonder where those are…

Guess I’ll have to take a road trip through my old CDs!

Eight Facts About Me

Thanks to Michelle, who also blogs over at The Flight Deck, I’ve been tagged with the following meme:

List eight habits or facts about yourself, then tag eight more people

Eight facts about me… huh. And they have to be facts?

Hmmm. Here goes:

1. I love fresh coconut, but can’t choke it down in any other form. Yuck!

2. I play two different instruments, and have been a member of various symphonies and wind ensembles over the years.

3. I have owned or ridden four generations of Morgan horses related to my late Morgan mare, Beth. I leased her granddam, trained with her sire, owned her, rode two of her siblings for various events, and helped train one of her daughters. Beth’s youngest foal, now aged seventeen, is owned by the National Park Service and was specially trained for and is used in search and rescue operations.

4. As an undergraduate, I memorized the entire Linnaean taxonomy (for all kingdoms, phylums, classes, orders, families, and genuses) for an exam, and could reel off any portion of the tables. Now I can’t remember any of it!

5. I’ve visited or lived in 28 of the 50 States in the USA, but have never been outside the USA except for visits to Canada.

6. While I was working for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I supervised twenty-five undergraduate employees that worked for me on a multi-year project for the Institute for Research on Poverty. One evening, while on their way home from classes, one of my employees and her roommate were accosted by an ax-wielding maniac. My employee survived with minor physical injuries, thanks to another brave student who helped stave off their attacker, but her roommate was brutally murdered in spite of their best efforts to bare-handedly fight off the ax-swinging assailant with all they had at hand – their backpacks. To this day, the murderer has never been found or even identified, and no one has ever discovered a motive for the crime.

7. I haven’t eaten chocolate or anything containing chocolate in seventeen years.

8. Although I have sailed in sailboats of various classes since I was six years old, I have never been in a motor boat or on any motorized ship except for a car ferry.

Hmmm, now who to tag… any volunteers? ;-)