Getting Even Steven
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Dear Stevie,

You turn 26 years old today.  I've known you for 12 years now and I've never taken the time to reflect on our relationship in writing, so this letter is clearly overdue.

You are the most sensitive, opinionated, human member of equine society I've ever known.  You've been my crazy-best-friend-straight-out-of-a-sitcom-character-sidekick since you came to live with me.  

You had your own fan club back in our lesson days.  You've taught more lessons and taken more ribbons at horse shows for my students and myself than I could ever count.

You're the horse who everybody wanted to buy, but was never for sale.  Partly because I knew you would eat them for lunch if I weren't there to translate.  Partly because I knew we were meant to stay together.  

You've earned yourself many nicknames, some flattering, some not-so-much. You've been an ongoing lesson in patience and picking my battles.  You've taught that some things can never change.

You've made me laugh, even when you're terribly serious.  You've made me cry with sadness and with joy.  You've flattered me and made me look a fool - sometimes in the same breath!  You've inspired me with pride and love.  And there have been times I've been madder at you than any human I've ever known.  

You broke my heart when your health became so poor, that I wasn't sure you were going to make it.  And I know that when I decided to put in the extra effort to help you recover, you made the extra effort required to stay on the planet with me.  

You've made me a better teacher, a better horse trainer, a better friend and a better person.  You are an example of rising above the fray, of perserverance and of mind over matter.

Knowing you all these years, I know what it means to be misunderstood, underappreciated and devalued.  But I see you.  You're a treasure in my heart.

Steven, I'd say we're even. 

Love,
Mom

Thu, 04/23/2009 - 12:04am | horses, personal growth | 6 comments | Leave a comment
Obsessive-Compulsive

I'm obsessed with taking photos of the local wildlife, particularly birds.  So I'm going to begin posting the story behind the photos as well.  Because many photos involved me yelling, "Stop!" and maniacally bursting from the car, camera in hand, fumbling with the on-switch and zoom, tripping over rocks and poison oak, in hot pursuit of feathered subjects who are, understandably, now long gone.  I imagine the birds have become accustomed to my antics, rolling their eyes when they see me coming.  They seem to be on a mission to thwart the crazy camera lady, taunting me with their, uh, ability to fly Away.

I am admittedly limited by my own bumbling inexperience, not to mention my camera.  But still, it's tricky to capture the essence of living, moving, flying things, with half a second shutter-lag.  But the Panasonic Lumix does have 10X zoom, so that's pretty fun for the time being.  Our first bit of extra cash has already been earmarked for a new battery and lens for Boyfriend's Digital Rebel.  Maybe by then my skills will match the abilities of the tool.

Look, everyone - here comes the point of this post!

Hummingbirds are some of my favorite subjects - they're tiny, living, breathing jewels. They're also about 20 times zippier than your average bird, so it is a rare treat to catch them with my camera.  I usually settle for simply watching them from our screen porch.

A few weeks ago Boyfriend and I discovered a new way to interact with our little community of buzzing, aerial artists.  That particular evening, we filled our hummingbird feeder at prime feeding time. Boyfriend was swarmed by the usual crowd of 10-15 little jewels on his way out to hang it up.  So he hung out and I took this video.  In the past we've seen them hit the ground, the screens and each other as they duke it out for a place on the feeder.  Watching from the screen porch is one thing, standing in the midst is another experience entirely.

View the gallery of stills here.

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 1:16pm | birds, nature, wildlife | 1 comments | Leave a comment
Smell My Meat

Boyfriend: "I don't think this smells right - will you tell me if this steak smells okay?"

Me: "You want me to smell your meat?"

Boyfriend: "Please?"

Me:  "No, but I will still love you, despite your affection for stinky cheese and smelly meat."

Mon, 04/13/2009 - 3:30pm | boyfriend, cooking | 2 comments | Leave a comment
Prized Possessions

Have you ever really thought about what you'd consider to be a few of your most prized possessions?  And I don't mean your kids, your dog, your hubby or wife.  I mean stuff.  And before you get all high and mighty about not really needing any stuff, really think about it.  There's got to be at least an item or two that you never thought you'd have to give up, even in the worst of conditions, isn't there?

I just wrote that animals don't count, but many of you know that I had to give up my young horse last month, due to my finanacial situation.  That was tough, but I'm holding on to the idea that I may just get her back someday, so it's okay.  But shortly after her departure, still more cash was needed to prevent our bank accounts from collapsing, so I began the torturous liquidation of what I'd thought of as my most prized possessions - the most treasured pieces of remaining horse tack and equipment I had left.  My saddle, my show bridle, and my show harness.  All hand picked for their quality and uniqueness, the things I thought I would be handing down to my children and grandchildren.  Because one of them might be born with the horse bug, like me.

But alas, it's just stuff, right?

What are the things you think you'll keep until the end of time, and why?

Sat, 04/11/2009 - 12:39pm | horses, personal growth | 5 comments | Leave a comment
Dooce: Bringing Families Together Since, err, 2009?
It Sucked and Then I Cried

I need to preface this post with the fact that I've been making an effort to be more open with my parents ever since my divorce "came out of left field".  Same with my decision to quit training horses and start designing websites.

But it's a struggle, and like any overachieving, first-born child, I want them to be proud of me.  I want them to love me.  I want them to think I'm great.  And I want them to know who I really am.  But I'm not always sure all of those things can be reconciled.

"So, Mom, I want to show you a project I've been working on, a new website."  I'm nervous, about to reveal EVEN MORE OF THE REAL LISA to my mom.  No turning back now...

"Okay, you want me to go there now?"

"Yeah, are you near the computer?"

"Uh huh.  How do I get there?"

"Go to the top of your web browser with your cursor and type in Girlbert dot com.  G-I-R-L-B-E-R-T dot com.  It's a blog, so I'm going to use it to write about things that are important to me.  And I have a recipe section so that I can put recipes online, and readers can submit recipes, hopefully, I'll collect..."

"Oh, that's Heather Armstrong."  

"Wh-what?"  She was browsing the front page of my site, where I had just posted a picture of myself and my favorite blogger at her book signing.  But I'm not following just how my midwestern, non-web-browsing, baby-boomer mother knows about Heather Armstrong.

"Did you get her book?"  Or her book, It Sucked and Then I Cried.

"Yes..."

"Did you get your brother one?  Because he can't find one in London.  He can't even order one from over there."

"Yes - did he tell you about her?"

"Yeah.  But we heard her on WGN radio, too.  She's pretty funny.  Tells it like it is."

Huh.  Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of This Whole Internet Website Blog Thing.  Dooce found my mom.

Fri, 04/10/2009 - 12:30pm | personal growth | 2 comments | Leave a comment