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.

 

Note

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.

Twenty One

 

A special post by Andrea Kanakredes, RN, MSN.

Our baby princess is growing up.

It seems like yesterday you were born. Though we knew a little more about babies, we were still nervous when you came. Like Deborah, you were so perfect. And, to be blessed with another perfect princess was priceless.

In becoming twenty one, dad and I wished a few times we could slow time so we can enjoy you and Deborah more, and be our little girls a little longer. We are always surprised when you leave us handwritten notes of love to us. When we hold you close, you choose to listen to our heartbeats. It is pure sweetness.

A smart, beautiful woman, you are and so much more. A successful equestrian, a talented musician. You will always be our baby princess.

 

Happy 21, baby!

xoxo
mom and dad

“It was all so unexpected …”

… and so much more.

It was meant to be a very routine visit. We would be in-and-out, and back home in less than 45 minutes. Our previous visits were all like this, and this would be no different.

The day began early as normal. The kitties were taken care of first – their breakfast, fresh water at all four stations, the litterbox scooped and freshened with baking soda. As his habit, Tuxie waited patiently for his fresh water. With him, you have to be plenty quick with a bowl of fresh water. The rest of the morning unfolded as close to normal and quiet as it does on most weekdays.

While storm clouds began to build, around noontime, Tuxie settled in for his nap in the hideaway box, in the patio. The hideaway box served as a shelter for him and his two littermates, Maxie and Midnight, when they transitioned in from the outdoors many years ago. They continue to use it as a their quiet hideaway. Miss Egypt also used it as her secret quiet place.

It is with great sadness, and great shock, to announce the passing of my handsome boy, Tuxie, on Monday, August 29, at 14:45, at our vet’s office. He passed away from a cascading respiratory failure. It was clearly so unexpected. I had anticipated, that it would be a routine visit. Dr. Ramsel would ask how things were going at home after losing Miss Egypt. Instead, it was an emergency situation.

This was not your ordinary, overstress situation. Listening to Tuxie’s lungs, Dr. Ramsel could hear crackles which indicate fluid in the lungs. An x-ray revealed half of his lungs were filled with fluid, and likely resulting from an underlying disease process or the presence of a tumor. A rapid application of oxygen slightly eased the shortness of breath but was not enough to slow or halt the cascading respiratory collapse. Dr. Ramsel was prepared to insert a kitty chest tube, but she needed to stabilize Tuxie first. Unfortunately, he slipped away to the other side.

After breakfast, Tuxie began the day like he always did – watching his world wake up. He listened to birds singing their morning songs, and watched them fly here and there. Tuxie watched his one take the trash to the curb for pick-up day with his “what-cha-doing” wonderment. And, he was glad when I acknowledged his watching.

He was quiet, unassuming and very happy. Like Miss Egypt, my boy struggled mightily to stay in the here and now. Tuxie, too, showed what life is all about. To live, to love and savor every moment of life – big, small and everything in between. Sadness had no place in his world.

Forever in our hearts
Tuxie, The Quiet Prince
July 25, 2005 – August 29, 2016

xoxo

Remount

Classes resumed for my daughters last Monday. Elizabeth is beginning her senior year, Deborah and Tara are fifth-year seniors, at UC – Colorado Springs. Deborah and Tara began their college studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and not all of their credits transferred into the University of Colorado system.

In terms of coursework, Elizabeth needs to complete both semesters of Biochemistry, a biochem lab course and a few electives for her ACS-certified BS in Chemistry. While Deborah and Tara only needed to take a few electives for graduation with a BS in Biology, both also opted to take a graduate-level microbiology course. What each will do after graduation, they are undecided.

The transition from the show ring to the classroom has always been a smooth one for them. They see it no different from the off-saddle work they do to prepare for a horse show. Doing well in the classroom is important to Mark and Trish, their instructors. Mark, in particular, says a rider needs to be ready for life while and after riding. Moreover, good study habits makes for a better rider.

Footnote

Simply known as “Lehninger”, it is the best, most authoritative textbook to learn biochemistry for both chemistry and biology students. The edition shown in the photo is my personal copy. Elizabeth is using my copy while waiting for her copy to arrive from Alibris, an online book reseller. If she bought through the university bookstore, I would have to pay $185 for the same edition and condition of the textbook. At Alibris, I only paid $45. The latest edition of Lehninger, in new condition, easily retails for $285. Deborah and Tara are using their copies of Lehninger as a supplemental reading resource for their microbiology course.

(An added note, in this household, chemistry, biology and medicine are referred to as such, and not by the awful acronym, “STEM”.)

 

Happy Birthday Meezers!

My sister Ginny, and her friend Jewel, were (and are) tight as thieves. They could identify with each other as working moms. Jewel’s kids were still young and Ginny’s daughter, M, was entering her teen years. And, both were also mom cats. Sis had a calico cat (named Calico, of course) and Jewel had a pair of Siamese, Wilma and Betty. Ginny asked if her two Siamese were spayed. Jewel replied, “No, Wilma and Betty were quite satisfied being indoor cats, showing no interest or desire to go outside. Besides, they’re both girls.” Ginny had Calico spayed just in case if she slipped outside. Being fixed also would add years to a cat’s life (male and female) with fewer health issues.

In late July 1989, Jewel had noticed Wilma was putting on some weight and didn’t think much about it. She did take more notice as July became August and Wilma beginning her search to find the perfect nesting site. Wilma’s chosen nesting site was on top of Jewel’s bed, and that is where she gave birth to three baby meezer kittens – Dino, Pebbles and Bam-Bam. The Flintstone theme to names was courtesy of Jewel’s daughter, Sophia.

Finding good, forever homes for the three babies ensued when the kittens were two weeks old. Jewel asked Ginny if she would be interested. Sis said she would take one, but Calico was set in her ways as the only cat in her house. But, Ginny said she would ask around. And, ask she did. I said, “I don’t know. You know my work. I could be gone for weeks on end. Who would take care of them while I’m away?” That’s easy, mom and dad would care for your kitty while you’re away. I wasn’t so sure, but agreed nonetheless.

On Columbus Day Weekend 1989, a wiggly Siamese kitten named Dino came to stay. New to the home, he investigated every square inch. When Dino ate, his purr machine turned on. Between his sleeps during the day, he was a non-stop play machine. The first three nights, he stayed in the laundry/utility room with a low cardboard barrier separating that room from the rest of the house. It was so he would be know where his litter box would be located. Beginning on the fourth night, he had full run of the house at night. He would begin his sleeps near the dishwasher, soaking in all of its heat, and later finding his way to bed to sleep with me.

First Christmas: Dino and Pebbles (Dec 1989)

While Dino settled in nicely, Jewel was having a difficult time finding a home for Pebbles. Jewel also began to have doubts about the person who said they would take Bam-Bam. She asked Ginny if I was interested in taking Pebbles. I said I would, and if her concerns about the person regarding Bam-Bam’s adoption grew, I would take him as well. Fortunately, Jewel found someone more reliable and more loving to take in Bam-Bam. The someone also had previous experience with Siamese cats and their talkative nature.

When Pebbles came, nearly three weeks later, she acted she didn’t know who Dino was during the first night. Beginning the next morning, the two were playing without having missed a beat. Not only were they littermates, they were also the best of friends. They kept on eye out for each other. When one was not feeling well, the other stayed near.

Pebbles with the beanies (Summer 2004)

Dino with the kitty grass (Fall 2004)

Though both have been gone for many years, we continue to mark their special day.

Happy Birthday Dino & Pebbles!
xoxo

 

Photos from the archives of Two Cats Two™. The Christmas photo was taken with the Canon FTb 35 mm SLR using Kodak Max film (ASA 200). The latter two were taken with a Kodak APS camera using Kodak Gold APS film (ASA 400).