Rounds: Late Night Scrub

Sun, Oct 16

It is late. All is quiet. A kiss goodnight. No sooner our eyes close, Laurie’s BlackBerry vibrates on her nightstand. “Sorry,” she says softly. It is the hospital. After a brief chat, Laurie finishes with “give me twenty minutes.” Andrea pops in her head into our room saying she needs to go in also.

Almost midnight, it is very busy on the surgical floor. It is not often to find this kind of activity at this hour.

techs setting up a surgical suite

after assisting on one surgery, Shelley scrubbing in to assist Laurie on her trauma case

Mon, Oct 17

The midnight hour comes without much notice.

Before scrubbing in, Laurie checked on her patient once again in pre-op followed by another short meeting with the patient’s family. Mostly to reassure and strengthen their hope. Returning to the prep room, the imaging scans and treatment notes are thoroughly reviewed again before scrubbing in.

Laurie and Dr. Mike talk what they see in the imaging scans for her patient

Around 12:20 am, the operation begins. Laurie’s patient, a priority one case. While urgency is attached, her priority is not to rush a procedure or complete it within a certain amount of time. Laurie would rather complete a procedure done correctly the first time. Deliberate and methodical. Though Laurie estimated the operation would take three hours, the unforeseen lengthened it to nearly 4½ hours to complete.

Andrea sends a good morning text to the girls

Sleep? With rounds in a couple of hours, Laurie and Andrea review the overnight notes on their other patients. After rounds, a short catnap for both before continuing their day.

a spent resident: Dr. Hailey came in to watch Laurie operate

Another day, and night, in the life.

A Rainbow Bridge Day

She had a strong personality. Step into our home, one knew Pebbles was the one in charge. A trait not unusual for kitties of the Siamese persuasion.

Yet, Pebbles had her sweet, affectionate side. She slept under the covers with her one, her little feets pressed on the back. A soft meow in the ear when it was time to wake up.

When October 10, 2005 came, we awoke early as per our custom. Breakfast, Pebbles ate that well, and part of Dino’s leftovers. Afterwards, a brief nap then she watched the light snow fall outside. With her bright blues and her purr machine on high, Pebbles signaled she was ready to say goodbye for the time being.

We miss our Siamese girl very much. Pebbles was the best of friends, and was a very loving member of our family and confidant.

Love you always,

mom and dad

Riding: A Sharp Focus

Several weeks ago, my daughters completed their summer riding season. Since then, they have worked on staying sharp and focused during the long layoff before the Las Vegas National in mid-November. They have kept the first round of practices easy and smooth, largely riding circle and grid exercises – the staple of every hunter/jumper – along with fairly relaxed jumper courses. Also, their class and study schedule has allowed them to practice under the watchful eyes of Mark and Trish, their instructors, on Saturdays.

fence rails ready for course setting

This month, the practice sessions will be stepped up in terms of preparation, difficulty and intensity. It means riding at an in-season tempo – very fast, very crisp. While there is plenty of riding, there will be plenty of off-saddle work. The off-saddle work is watching hours of video and reviewing their practice notes. Every detail from a ride is noted. It is a disciplined, methodical approach to training. My daughters like the focus it brings to their riding, and how it allows them to make adjustments as needed. And, yes, the girls will compare notes and push each other in riding better.

They are continuing to ride very well, my girls, however, believe they can ride better. Mark and Trish have instilled in them the work ethic to constantly improve and refine their technique. The riding becomes more instinctive while continuing to strengthen the trust and confidence between them and their horses.

Elizabeth and Lilith executing a sweeping right hand turn on a practice course (Oct 01 2016)

ready to jump: Comet eyeing the fence ahead while Deborah looks three fences ahead on a practice course (Oct 01 2016)

Tara and Candace (Happy Girl) entering a right-left fence combination on a practice course (Oct 01 2016)

Though practice is all business, part of the day is set aside for the horses to have their fun. It usually involves dust, water and horse games.

spray down: Tara spraying down Cameron – “Don’t drink that, baby! I just washed that off your foot.” (Oct 01 2016)


The practice course in the photos above was from a 1.45 m FEI Grand Prix course they rode while in SoCal this past summer. My girls seem to have ridden it pretty well, shaving nearly a second off the winning time in practice.

Black Cat Friday

It is a Black Moon Friday.

before a New Moon: a waning crescent (5:50 am, Sep 21 2015)

Our resident black cat, Miss Midnight, says it should really be a Black Cat Friday. There are no other kind of Black Friday’s except for the black cat kind.

Miss Midnight, top cat regent

Black moons occur when there is a second new moon in the same month. The lunar orbit cycle is 28 days. The first new moon of this month occurred on September 1.

While some conspiracy theorists have suggested this marks the beginning of the end times, they may have forgotten about the last two (January and March 2014).¹ If you are a student of Greek mythology, new moons are associated with the Greek goddess, Hecate. She is the goddess that oversees crossroads, magic, ghosts and the dead. Hecate continues to play a part in the Wiccan tradition. For those living in the Eastern Hemisphere, this occurrence of the black moon will be in October.²

References –

  1. from Wikipedia entry on the black moon
  2. from the CNET article on the black moon

More Autumn Dreams

She is a developing hunter, riding her first year as a junior. Her dream is, one day, to ride an FEI-level, Grand Prix course, with her mom, Sarah, as a fellow competitor. Crystal knows she’ll have to work hard to achieve her dream. Training, and learning, with her mom has been a good experience for the both of them. When she was here, Crystal listened to every word my girls spoke and watched every move they made.

After a long day, on and off the saddle, Crystal showed her devotion and forever love to her handsome paint, Mackenzie (Mac).

Crystal and Mac

Crystal and Mac: eyes only for each other

Among the many warmbloods and OTTBs, Mac certainly stands out in the ranks of hunters. Just like his mistress, Crystal. Both, very beautiful.

About the photos

Both photos were taken using a Canon FTb 35 mm SLR with Kodak Gold film (ASA 200) at the JN Ranch (Sep 03 2016).


Autumn Dreams

of autumn dreams
of shimmering gold and rust
of light breezes rustling the leaves
of how I dream anew


A dream rekindled.

Sarah and her two daughters came to spend the Labor Day holiday weekend with us. Not only was it a chance to ride among friends, but a chance to learn again. What better than to learn from, and train with, the three riders who were once her protégés.

waiting on the fog: Sarah and Max

She is glad to be back on the saddle. A little more than 17 months ago, Sarah underwent a two-part surgery to repair a back injury that dogged her for over 3½ years. Her lowest point was giving us her beloved champion, Secret Agent Man. Sarah knew SAM missed the show ring, and would flourish in the trustworthy and capable hands of my girls. Most of all, he would be loved to the fullest.

A priority on the list was Sarah riding SAM again. He was patient in waiting for his turn on the circle exercise course. When Sarah rode SAM, a little bit of their old magic resurfaced. It was easy, it was smooth.

Kim, Sarah’s daughter, and SAM watching a set of grid exercises

When Deborah rode through the same course, her and SAM were “poetry in motion” according to Sarah. They were easy, they were smooth, they were fast. “I want to be that again,” Sarah said. She knows she will need to be patient, and it will take time to regain her form and skill level.

Sarah was known for her skill, attention to detail, and tenacity. She will be known for that again.

Fifteen Years Later

“Jack, pick up sweetie, can you hear me? Okay. I just want to tell you, there’s a little problem with the plane. I’m fine. I’m totally fine. I just want to tell you how much I love you.”

Lauren Grandcolas, passenger on United 93
in a voice message left for her husband


A most poignant message.

In the years since that bright, sunny morning, it remains as such. It is something that stays with you, or so you would think. The cynics would either say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stole it away, or belittle the words. It is probably more accurate to say remembering what had happened that day, and the many who died, is quickly fading away. The emotions are not as frayed, and what happened no longer shocks. Besides, how long should we mourn for those who were lost?

A writer friend, Beth, living on Long Island, had written on this sense in the days leading to the anniversary in 2007. She said in the days after September 11th, it hurt plenty. The smell of death, thoroughly saturated in the smoke, wafting over her neighborhood was a daily reminder. Her husband, on a business trip to the Midwest, was stranded due to the ground stop in air traffic. He came home by renting a car. A neighbor, down the street, had died in the collapse of the North Tower. While Beth and others had prepared meals for their neighbor’s family, it felt very surreal. No one knew what to say.

Beth was reluctant to write another September 11th remembrance piece. She wrote in the days before, what else could be said that hadn’t been said already. The loss, the sadness, the emptiness, the despair. It was writing about the stages of grief. Nonetheless, Beth chose to write another remembrance of September 11th. “If I didn’t,” she began, “it would say I am comfortable my neighbor died on that day. That I am comfortable his wife became a widow, his young children became fatherless. It would say I am comfortable with evil. We should not be comfortable with any of this, whether it is now, or on the fifteenth anniversary or the fiftieth.

It was meant to shock. It was meant to be ugly. It was meant to demoralize. It was meant to divide. It was meant to create fear. It was meant to be a long, never-ending nightmare. The families that lost on September 11th, they are the ones living that long, never-ending nightmare. It is a nightmare we cannot comprehend nor imagine. We cannot know the depth of their grief. And, we will not know when their grief will end.

For the rest of us, our task is relatively easy. It is to remember. Always. If we fail, we fail ourselves. If we forget, September 11th will no longer be a tragic day when so much changed.



The “Never Forget” graphic was originally offered without cost by HDWallpapers Catalog. The site no longer exists but the graphic is readily available on the web.