In Thanksgiving

Written by Tara Scott Westin

“Sometimes the road that twists and turns
And winds and bends, in the end
Is the road that leads you home
You’re not out there on your own” *

In the novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again”, by Thomas Wolfe, a fledgling writer has authored a successful novel of his hometown and his family. Instead of being lauded for the success of his novel, George Webber, the fledgling writer, finds himself a subject of outrage and hatred. The townsfolk feel betrayed and portrayed in an unflattering light. Wolfe had a wide-ranging discussion with fellow writer, Ella Winter, in which she remarked, “Don’t you know you can’t go home again.” Wolfe then asked her if he could use the phrase as the title of the manuscript he was working on. The Webber character finds he cannot go home again after the passage of time and resume his place in his family and his boyhood town.

While there is some measure of truth in the Wolfe novel, it runs counter to the sense of belonging attached to Thanksgiving, and other family celebrations that ties home and hearth together. Growing up, mom said, “Don’t you ever think the door to my house, our house, is ever closed. You are my daughter, whom I will always love.” When mom married David, he said the same before their wedding. “You are my daughter, Deborah and Elizabeth your sisters, Andrea, your other loving mom.”

Simply, we are a blended family. One bound by our love and faith in one another, and in God. We believe in one another, always and forever.

And, yes, we can go home.

May you have a truly blessed Thanksgiving.

Note

* From the song, “I Made A Promise”, by Charles Fox and Allan Rich, performed by Crystal Gayle and Eddie Rabbitt. The video may be seen here.

About the author

Tara Scott Westin graduated, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs in May 2017 with a BS in Biology (Microbiology).

A highly decorated rider with the Rustler Riding Club, Tara has won multiple blue ribbons and other placement ribbons with her horses, Brie, Cameron and Candace (Happy Girl). In 2006, she was named Comeback Rider of the Year – the only non-competitive rider in Rustler Riding Club history to win this award.

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Riding: The Nationals

The Nationals in Las Vegas, they signal the end of the riding season on the West Coast, and for my daughters. Their readiness is palpable. Simply, it is the most important show of their season.

Part of the World Cup tour, the CSI4* rated show draws a very competitive field of riders. The best of the USA horse show circuit and professionals on the Cup tour are featured. While the stage is larger, the expectations greater, my daughters approach to the Nationals is that it is no different from any other show. It is about riding.

“It is no longer about practice and other shows,” says Trish. “It is no longer about potential. It is about being kinetic. To achieve it, a rider needs to trust themselves and their horse, especially at this level.”

ready to compete: 028 Lilith/Elizabeth Ramos USA

The horses, they’re ready too.

Time to ride.

“Ride now, ride forever”

November 11

“You don’t need to see this; really no one needs to see this.”

My dad understood the intrinsic truth in these words when speaking of war. The scenes of war are rather stark, very incomprehensible to understand. A frontline, combat medic in Korea, a chief OR technician in Vietnam,  dad had seen many badly wounded men and worse. Fortunately, he did not suffer from the stressors that others experienced. He hoped this piece of advice would send me in a different direction. It did for a short time.

after Korea: the medics of Troop Dispensary #3 (Camp Carson, circa mid-1950s)

Military service is not always about war, or being far from home. It can be serving here at home, or in an allied nation. The experience can be a good one, traveling to places one normally would not have a chance to visit. The friendships and camaraderie can be enduring, with the ability to resume it in a fraction of a second. By the same token, military life is not for everyone. It is regimented. It can be nomadic at times. It can be difficult at times. It can take a toll on the family.

There are a variety reasons for those who enter military service. They would be the last to call themselves patriots or keepers of the peace. Instead, they would call themselves ordinary men or women doing a job. Heroes, not really. Warriors, not really. Thank you for your service, not important. It is the hardest, but the best job around.

waiting for the ride: off the coast of SoCal on a pre-deployment NSW exercise (Jan 1990)

The piece of advice I have given to my daughters regarding military service: “You don’t need to do this; we’ve seen enough for the family.”

Riding: New Territory, Higher Stakes

My daughters have rarely competed past the Labor Day (USA) holiday. Going to school, followed by obtaining their university degrees, precluded any notion of riding late into a season. When they did compete in the fall, it would be from a favorable calendar, or they had proven themselves in the classroom to gain a few days off. The time away would not cause them to fall behind. Mark and Trish both have placed a premium on studying and having good grades for their riders who are students also. It prepares them for life away from the show ring, away from horses. Moreover, a good student makes for a better rider.

The girls have found riding in September and October to be a challenging, grand experience. With the shows and events more national in setting, and higher rated, they draw riders that are among the best. The skills of their fellow riders are very polished, their experience level substantial. They are similarly detail-oriented in charting and studying their own riding, but are also watching the other riders and horses. It is about learning what other riders are doing to be better – on and off saddle, inside and outside the show ring.

the details: Elizabeth’s course notes and riding notes for season 2017

While the very best riders in show jumping win around 20-25% of their starts, making basic adjustments, including minor ones, are relatively few. They become particularly more reluctant late in the season. A rider will stay within their skill set, opting to trust in themselves and in their horses. A horse, knowing their rider trusts them wholly, gives them the certainty and confidence in any competitive setting.

My girls love the higher stakes. “In riding,” Elizabeth begins, “there are no automatics. Talent and a strong work ethic will open the door. The rest of it, the intangibles, the rider needs to bring them to table. They are what separates individual riders from one another. When it comes together, it all falls into a rhythm – the riding becomes more instinctive, much easier.” And, when the rhythm develops, its inherent consistency follows.

after the practice: Deborah and Comet (Del Mar Horse Park, Oct 2017)

“There is a crispness to the riding,” Deborah adds. “It is fast. It is precise. It is clean. It is focused. Yet, a rider cannot be afraid of making mistakes or taking risks.”

Finishing the thought, Tara adds, “When it comes together, it is as close to perfect one can imagine. Every move is fluid. What was hard is easy. And, what was easy is unreal.”

close to perfect: Tara and Cameron (Iowa, Aug 2017)

The hardest part – to keep it going.

Aloha Friday

The view is breathtaking. A place of history and plenty of story. It is the Pali Highway.

the windward coast of Oahu, with Chinaman’s Hat and a portion of the Ko’olau Mountains in the distance

the view towards Kaneohe Bay, Maui Channel and the Pacific

The Pali Highway links Honolulu with the windward side of Oahu through the Ko’olau Mountain Range, and into Kaneohe and Kailua. The first road built through the Pali was in 1845. The Pali Road was developed into a highway in 1898. It was your typical winding mountain road with hairpin turns and switchbacks. My mom, when she was growing up, said the road often became quite treacherous during rainstorms and at night. Crossing over the summit of the Pali, mom said there was an eeriness about the place – during the day. This was where, Nu’uanu Pali, the decisive battle was fought in which Kamehameha’s army defeated the army of Kalanikūpule, the King of Maui.

With Kalanikūpule’s army reeling from the advance of Kamehameha’s forces, they retreated up Nu’uanu Valley to the Pali’s cliffs. Trapped, Kalanikūpule’s warriors, numbering between 700-900 men, were either pushed, or jumped, to their deaths from the 1,000 foot high cliffs. There have been other accounts in which a pitched, back and forth battle to the death ensued on the cliff heights before Kamehameha’s forces prevailed. During the 1898 highway construction, workers discovered 800 skulls which were believed to be the remains of Kalanikūpule’s warriors.

Stories surrounding the Pali have abounded through the years. They range from ghostly tales involving apparitions of warriors on night marches to those who died tragically, or mysteriously, along the Pali Road. The most enduring tale is not to be carrying any pork product over the Pali during the midnight hour. A car will suddenly die if anywhere near the Pali summit. It will not restart until after one. For outsiders and non-believers, they dismiss it all as foolish superstition. For those who grew up there and heard the anecdotal stories, they respect the supernatural occurrences.

For one of my uncles, it became a true story. He was returning home from the windward side with his wife and a friend. They were late in starting back due to heavy rains on the Pali. When it seemed safe to drive back, it was already late. They simply did not want to be anywhere near the Pali summit around midnight. Adding to their anxiety, they were carrying leftovers from a pork roast for my grandparents. The car suddenly died near the summit shortly after midnight. It did not restart. Once it was after one, the car restarted and they were able to complete their trip.

In 1959, construction began to modernize and improve the safety of the Pali Highway. A four lane highway that could be easily widened to six lanes, along with tunnels to replace the tricky, two lane roadway. Also, lighting would improve visibility during poor weather and darkness. Sections of the old roadway can be seen above or below the improved highway. And, those strange happenings along the highway, they still occur.

the towering heights of the Pali

a view of the Ko’olua Mountains from the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout

To view the many scenic panoramas, there are a pair of scenic lookouts along the Pali Highway. The higher Nu’uanu Pali Lookout provides the better views, and is on a portion of the now-closed, older highway. There are several hikes that begin from the lookout. One hike is featured here. If a hike is done, it is advised to carry a small point and shoot, phone camera, or a disposable film camera.

About the photos

These photos were taken during the holiday season in 1978-79 using a Canon FTb 35 mm SLR with Kodak Gold film (ASA 200).

 

Día de Muertos

It is the holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the central and southern regions, and by people of Mexican ancestry in other places, especially in the United States. The multi-day holiday brings the family and friends together to pray for and remember friends and family who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. The Aztec influence in Día de Muertos is substantial, beginning as a festival dedicated to Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec goddess of the underworld. After Spanish colonization, the holiday became associated with All Saints’ Eve (Halloween/Oct 31), All Saints’ Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2).

With the spread of the holiday, it has been absorbed into other practices of honoring the dead. In northern Mexico, Día de Muertos, was unknown, with the people having separate traditions and where the Aztec influence was minimal. It wasn’t widely celebrated until the Mexican federal government declared Día de Muertos a national holiday. The opening sequence of the James Bond film, Spectre, features a Día de Muertos parade in Mexico City.

In Colorado, Día de Muertos celebrations are fairly rare, though some of the costuming is widely seen. Halloween remains firmly entrenched, and in the realm of the spooky and ghostly tales.

Whether celebrated as Día de Muertos or Halloween, enjoy your celebrations.

Background information from Wikipedia.
Photo: Deborah in full make-up for a Halloween party when she was a high school senior several years ago.

Anniversary

It is a quieter day than usual. Cold weather has a way of doing that. Today would have been my parents’ 64th wedding anniversary. Within our family, it remains an important date to celebrate. Mom, who has been gone for more than a year and a half, would have appreciated our taking time to remember this day.

A lover of chocolate, undoubtedly, mom would have loved these chocolate cupcakes topped with a chocolate mousse and chocolate shavings.

Our resident chocolatier, Laurie, worked on these cupcakes late into the night, Sunday evening. One cupcake that did not turn out well became the one and only sample. They will be served after dinner, later this evening.

We toast them for their long marriage.

Happy Anniversary!

xoxo