Somewhere In There

Welp.

You know what they say about when you are busy? Ya, I don’t either, but man, the time sure goes by pretty quick like and then you look back and have no idea how you got so far. That is how it has felt since I got back to town for good at the end of July, after all my gallivanting about. The good thing about that is at some point, it won’t be so hot!

So. I have a new niece! Stubborn thing was not ready to come and was holding out as long as possible. I guess she comes by that honestly. Ha.

We all spent the first half of the week waiting and waiting and waiting. Then, FINALLY, little girl decided to grace us with her presence in the wee hours of Wednesday. I had a conference/expo for work (that we have twice a year…yes, the one where I have spilled coffee on myself in the past) starting that afternoon, so I went up to the hospital for the morning before heading over to the show.

Between the expo and helping my mother with my new niece’s older siblings, there was not much time for anything else. Then I caught some kind of virus on Friday and spent the next twenty four plus hours couch hopping between my parents house and mine.

By Sunday morning I felt well enough to get myself to the farm for a ride. The last six months have been very slow on the riding front and Lito really needs more work to get over this hump and get back to where we were. He is still in this ‘phase’ and I am not the biggest fan. Every day he seems a little better, but this whole process is taking much longer than I expected.

I keep having to remind myself that he is young and we are in no rush. He never did act like a young horse. He skipped that whole bit. And he is allowed to act like a young horse. We have all the time in the world. It is going to take the time it takes and that is up to him. He needs to get his old confidence back. That is very hard for me to admit, that he seems to have lost it, but it is okay to not be okay. He will get it back.

I have started a new thing. I found this devotional specifically for horse people: Unbridled Faith: 100 Devotions From The Horse Farm. (Funny side note, I bought this for myself a while back and then my friend, H, unbeknownst to me, also bought it for me! I just love that.) Anyway. This new thing I have been doing. I have started reading an entry from this book out loud with him before every ride. To get myself in the right mind set, to get centered. To remind myself to keep the faith. I used to keep certain quotes in mind when I first started riding him and I need to get back to that. It kept my intention true and all outside factors away. The horses can really pick up on that.

(This is how hot it has been…nice and sweaty before the ride. Luckily the breeze picked up mid ride and that helped a bunch.)

Anyway, the ride was pretty good overall and you could tell he was trying. That is what matters most. And at the end, everyone was tired and happy.

The good news is, I have nothing on the books but riding in the near future, so eventually we will get there. Slow and steady wins the race and that I know to be true.

Somewhere in there, last week, this little place called AHAmoments celebrated its two year anniversary. That is pretty cool and I have y’all to thank for it! Thanks for coming here and reading (even when I have been MIA…sorry about that), commenting, sticking it out, and coming back!

Walk in love, dear readers!

 

Daily Dose Of Cute

Time for a daily dose of cute, just for you, on this fine Tuesday. I also need distraction. Too much excited anticipation.

I finally had a weekend at the farm with my loves. I felt blessed with the time.

Yawning time.

Nap time.

Sunrise time.

Standing awkwardly for pictures time.

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Deep conversations about life, solving the world’s problems time.

Moving cows time.

CUTE time.

There was also riding time. Not the most exciting rides as they have all been on vacation for over a month. You know, life and that adulting thing. Anyway, just moving our bodies and focusing on the basics is all anyone’s brains could handle, but they were great.

And.

Birthday time. This girl is 5 years old today!

Why, you say, do I need distraction from my excited anticipation??? Well. Oldest sister A is in labor. LABOR. Baby girl is a comin’!

Yikes!

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Walk in love, dear readers!

The French Countryside: La Fin

I last left you after having experienced the best day on the trip so far, riding along the river and enjoying my finds from the local farmer’s market with everyone. The memories of this day will stay with me forever and I could have gone home happy then.

But, I still had a few days left and they were going to be busy ones. They may have been the last days, but they were certainly not the least ones.

After a Friday of eating croissants and baguette with magic butter and resting up (I did eat other foods…), I took a day trip to the coastal town of Pornic on Saturday, Bastille Day, with a few of the other house guests. We stopped in the city of Nantes on the way so I could peruse through a tack store there. I bought some things I did not need, but I was in France, so I bought them. Why not, right? Side note, this city looks to be pretty cool and has many things to do. If you are in the area, it might be worth looking up. Food. Shopping. Entertainment. Close to the coast.

Continuing our journey to Pornic, we took “the scenic route” trying to get out of Nantes as they were already barricading many of the streets for the Bastille Day celebrations. We all had a fleeting thought that we might not be able to leave! Every time we tried to turn,  we could not and our GPS kept telling us to u-turn. We gave up on the GPS and just started to follow the traffic hoping we would end up somewhere where the GPS would recalculate our journey. Eventually, after much honking and swearing and laughing, we did find our way and continued on.

The kids in the car were starting to get hungry at this point and we still had a ways to drive to our destination. One of them had a fascination with trying McDonald’s in France and it seemed like a good plan to get them some food while we held out for a cafe in Pornic. We asked them if it tasted the same as back home and their comment was that it tasted a little funny. We thought nothing of this and continued on.

We pulled into Pornic, found a parking spot, and set off on foot to the busy harbor. It was a hub of activity and there were people all around with the set up for the night’s celebrations and cafes and shops. If we were not so far from the farm, it would have been nice to stay for the fun, and indeed the original plan was to stay for it. However, after much deliberation, we decided it was best to not stay that late and planned for a nice late lunch, look around, go find the beach, and then head back before it got too late.

Lunch at Le Cap Gourmand was wonderful. A couple glasses of prosecco. A goat cheese galette with honey, nuts, and delicately dressed mixed greens. So simple, yet absolutely fabulous. Sitting outside under an umbrella next to the canal. Good company. It was lovely. After our leisurely meal, we walked through some of the shops before grabbing some sorbet at Glacier Pornic, which was also a knockout. Current and lemon. So so good.

After some trial and error on where and what this beach actually was (the non rock cliffs with crashing waves), we found a good parking spot and made our way down. One of the kids mentioned he needed to use the little men’s room, so our first stop before the actual crowded, teeny tiny patch of beach was the public restroom. Or rather, right outside of said public bathroom with Turkish toilets.

Here is where I might should mention that one should not eat McDonald’s in France. But. S*** happens and it indeed happened that day. In spades. That poor mom and kid! They were both troopers in, dare I say it, somebody stop me, a s***ty situation!

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It was character building! That kid took it all in stride is going to be somebody great!

All is well that ends well, as they say. After the McDonald’s episode, the kids swam for a bit in the ocean before we decided it was time for us to cut our losses and head back to the farm early. These adults needed some wine. We would put our feet in the pool and pretend we were on a beach somewhere with less people and more sand and zero McDonald’s.

We had some good laughs on the way home and after we got back.

Sunday, World Cup day,  began with more croissants and more laughs followed by a ride on the Top Girl in the fields to start the day off right.

Then some of us thought it would be great to meet up with a newcomer to the house at  Chateau Des Vaults to try some wines. Wine tasting in France is fun. I liked the wine and the grounds were just beautiful. So lush and green. You can walk around the gardens and then up a hill to see the vines. I highly recommend it. We all bought some bubbley rose to take home.

That would have been a good enough day right there, but France was playing in the final game of the World Cup that afternoon so we loaded up some snacks and headed to a packed park in Chateau Gontier to watch the game on a jumbotron and drink some beer with a bunch of French people. If you do not know, France won and everyone commenced to celebrating in the streets.

On Monday, the newcomer to the house (who we tasted wine with) and I went off to the coastal town of Concale. It is a lovely, quaint town. We went there specifically to go to Epices Roellinger  (a great spice shop I could have spent hours in. There are others around France, but this is THE one) and a bakery called Grain de Vanille. I bought all the things. Seriously, y’all should go here.

After lunch the coast and crepes for dessert, we drove over to see Mont Saint Michel Abbey. I wanted to go in, but we were too late in the day, and to be honest, I was quite tired by that point and we had a long drive back to the farm.

Tuesday was a relaxing last day on the farm. We had a lovely lunch in a nearby town and then I had one last ride on the Top Girl before leaving on Wednesday.

Wednesday was an early and long day. It is a long story, but I missed my train to get to the airport and we had to make the three hour drive to Paris instead…which put me at the airport less than an hour from the scheduled take off. Fortunately, the flight was apparently delayed. I however, did not know this until after I frantically ran through the airport, almost slipping and falling on my behind in the process. I half expected my shoe to break.

When I finally got on the plane and settled, I ordered a cocktail like I needed it more than my next breath.

Always dress for a run through the airport, kids. You just never know what can happen, whether or not you eat McDonald’s! Ha!

Walk in love, dear readers, and I hope you enjoyed coming along on my trip with me! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The French Countryside: The Best Day

The only thing I knew about Thursday when I woke up was that there was a local farmers market happening in Chateau Gontier and I wanted to go. I love markets. Especially with other people who also love markets.

We skipped the croissants at the house in favor of having one near the market so we could get there early and find all the things we wanted to find. Namely mussels to prepare for lunch later that day at the house.

All of the eager market goers hopped in the car and set off. We parked and set off on foot to a bakery for the first order of business.

We were all suffering from croissant withdrawal and we needed to remedy the situation. What we found in this bakery was a basic gold mine. If only I could remember the name of it. Everything was beautiful and looked as though it actually tasted as it looked. Each pastry was an individual art piece. While we all acted like we had never been in a bakery before, a few people jumped in front of us in line to order because we could not figure out what to do. At the end of our ogling, we each ended up getting multiple things to sustain us throughout the day. With our buttery, delicious finds safely tucked away in a bag for later (we were too excited to eat them just yet), we continued on our route.

As we approached the beginning of the market, I began to get giddy.

We passed by the bird and rabbit section rather quickly to get to what was happening farther down. We were not in the market for that kind of dinner or in need of any breeder stock.

This is where the action was happening. The fresh produce, goods, and all the people! So many sights, sounds, colors, and tastes. I am not typically a fan of crowds of people, but that is part of what makes a market a market.

All the locals were catching up and sharing stories. Smiling. Playing music. It was fabulous. Did I mention the weather was fabulous? Because it was. It reminded me somewhat of the markets we would go to in Mexico while spending summers there growing up. Not quite the same, but similar.

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I spied some beautiful cherries and circled back around to buy a kilo of them. I said si instead of oui. I had actually done this multiple times already, but who is counting. Spain was not all that far away, right?! What can I say, old habits die hard.

We opted to start our walking breakfast of croissant as we continued on. I had to quickly stop as I realized how good this croissant was. Seriously. I am not kidding in the slightest. This one croissant was seriously the best one I had enjoyed yet (and was the best one the whole trip).

Once I was able to walk again, I found something to really got excited about. Local goat cheese! I LOVE goat cheese. Well, any cheese, but put goat cheese on anything and I will eat it. The same can be said about queso and vanilla ice cream. Anyway. Her case had already been depleted and there was a line, so you knew it all had to be good.

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I purchased a round of plain and a round of fresh ground pepper corn crusted to take back to the house. I said si to her as well.

At this point, we decided to power through to the other side where the mussels were to make sure we got some and then stroll back through the rest.

The powering through only lasted so long as we had to stop at this stand with all kinds of dried sausage.

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Anything you could imagine as a sausage, this man had it. Someone in our group bought some kangaroo sausage, just to give you an idea. One of the things I love about these types of markets, is the tasting. They all have little delicate tastes of their offerings to passers by. This man had slices of pork sausage with walnuts to offer. Naturally, I had to try, and just as naturally, I had to buy. I already had the goat cheese! How could I not!? Then I saw something even better. Pork sausage with figs! Do you want to know what I also really love not only in addition to goat cheese, but with goat cheese???!!! FIGS. So I bought some of the fig sausage as well.

We continued on and bought some potatoes and the mussels we came for before turning around.

On our stroll back through the rest of the market, I kept an eye out for the local honeys I saw at the beginning to go with my goat cheeses and sausages. All of that combined with a fresh baguette, I was going to create the best cheese board some time in the next couple of days.

We found a lady with different kinds of honey and she was willing to let us taste them all. This was a very interesting and enjoyable experience. If you like honey, and maybe even if you do not (you might find you indeed do like honey based on how different honeys can be), I recommend you try doing this. They were all really different. We tried four or five different kinds based on what the bees were pollinating on. Some were lovely and balanced and one in particular was straight up medicinal (in which all three of us made a face after we tried it). After deciding on a honey we thought would go well with the cheeses and sausage, we made our way back to the farm.

A large, late lunch and a nap had us all ready for the evening’s activities.

A ride along the Mayenne River at sunset.

Y’all, I can not imagine that I can fully describe this experience in words, so I figure I will let the photos do most of the work. This ride alone was worth the whole trip.

There were five riders and two horses, so we took turns with two people riding and three walking. The plan was to ride from the trailer to a cafe down the river where the rest of the non horsey part of the group was enjoying dinner, at which point I would hop on and ride with one person past the cafe, turn around and come back. Then I would ride with another person from the cafe to the trailer.

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I turned around while I was walking to see this chateau.

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When I hopped up on Top Girl (which was comical because I have not had a leg up in many years), she was ready to go. That Top Girl has top, big girl walk when she wants to! She was happy to be out and about, and so was I. Just another reason we got along so famously.

France loves their hedges and so do I.

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The part from the cafe to the trailer was really and truly fabulous.

A great horse.

Stunning scenery.

A nice new friend and good conversation about horses.

We trotted for a little bit and if I thought Top Girl’s walk was nice, her trot that day could have gone into any ring and won the blue ribbon.

The money shot here. Not surprisingly, this was the best sunset of the whole trip.

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As if all of the above was not enough. The evening just continued to get better.

All of the horse group met at the horse trailer to head back to the farm while the non horsey group finished their meal at the cafe.

Now, I could have done without dinner that night, but why would I do that?! I had all this cheese and sausage, so after settling the horses in their paddocks, we all went up to the house to enjoy some wine and my finds under the starlit sky, around the outdoor garden table. Good food, wine, horse talk, and laughter.

I do not like to use the word perfect, as you well know, but this day was rather perfect.

Walk in love dear readers, and stay tuned for more!

 

 

The French Countryside: The Beginning

The last update from France left you with us in the quiet farm house well after midnight on Sunday the 8th, drinking wine and eating chocolate mousse before getting some much needed rest.

Apologies for the delay in sharing the rest of the trip, but life has gotten in the way! That whole being an adult thing.

So, here is some more of the French adventure!

I woke up later that morning to this.

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Naturally, way before everyone else, but I did not mind because it gave me a chance to explore and enjoy the quiet. The mornings were the only quiet time in the house as the house was full of people and most everyone slept in until the croissants arrived after 10 AM.

The air was cool, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the birds were chirping.  This is how every single morning greeted me. As you can assume, a bit more my speed than busy Paris.

I was staying near Chateau-Gontier, a very cute and quint little town surrounded by rolling hills of golden wheat fields, dairy producers, and French Trotters in the Mayenne department. I will tell you, there is nothing quite like seeing one of those golden wheat fields on a hill as it is lit on fire by the late evening sun. It truly redefines the color gold like Lito’s coat will do when the sun hits it just right.

This first day began, as the rest of the days, with croissants from the local bakery. They really are better over there if you were wondering and that is why I ate so many of them! No excuses! I was in France! Good thing I have never had a croissant over here that tasted as good as the real French ones or I might just make that part of my lifestyle.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the farm. Meeting the horses. Enjoying the yard and the breeze. Talking about what we wanted to do that week.

Monday, after croissant and fresh black current jam from currents grown on the farm, we drove three hours to Normandy to visit some of the brood mares and foals, see some of the young horses in training, and bring one of them back to the farm.

On the way there, we stopped in Fougeres to walk around the castle and have lunch.

 

The castle and the view were better than the actual lunch and we continued on our way.

 

It was a long day of driving, but we were greeted back at the farm with wine, cheese, and charcuterie for dinner. I believe it was at this time I tried the magic butter on a piece of baguette (which are also really as prevalent as croissant if you thought that was not true). Magic butter is no lightly used term. It will change your life. It has huge salt crystals in it and it is nothing short of amazing. Word has it you can buy it here in The States and I am going to go buy some for EVERYONE as soon as I can.

Tuesday was another quiet, slow day on the farm where I spent time in a hammock reading next to one of the paddocks.

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Wednesday was a good horse day. We trailered one of the horses to a near by equestrian center that used to function as one of the state studs, Le Lion-d’Angers, for a visit to a farrier. It was a really cool place with an amazing cross country course and race track. Hedge lined, white sand, outdoor jump arenas. Rows and rows of militaristic stables (not my most favorite part). A breeding center for the standing race studs.

I walked the grounds as the mare got her new set of kicks. It was beautiful. If there was any kind of event going on there while I was there, I would have definitely gone back. If you are ever in the area, give it a visit. You will not be disappointed.

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Then, back at the farm that evening, I finally got to ride! A big, lovely French bred warmblood bay mare named Top Girl. We got along famously the whole time I was there. It was most needed.

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We rode at the magic golden hour in France. 8PM. It stays light till about 10:30 there. The air was cool, the lighting was wonderful, and the grass and wheat fields. Words can not describe it. Atop a fine horse and nothing could have been better.

Wednesday was a good day, but not nearly as great as Thursday!

But. You will have to check back for that later!

I am currently out on location for work trying to enjoy some down time in my life this month as a traveling vagabond. I got to have two much too short days at home with my Darcy before I drove the three and a half hours out of state.

So, this is where I sit. I hope to be home by next week and you can bet your boots the first place I go will be directly to the farm. This is the longest I have gone without my animals, but this is what pays the bills.

Being an adult man…

Walk in love, dear readers!

Paris Part Deux: Glacees, Cafe Creme, Croissant, & Horses

I forgot to turn the ringer off of my phone before I finally fell to sleep Friday night. I was rudely awakened at some point in the middle of the night by some unknown Texas phone number. Probably one of those bogus scammers or something. I could not even tell you if I answered it or tried to hit snooze thinking it was my alarm, but luckily I figured out what was going on before I threw my phone across the room.

When my alarm actually did go off for real, I could only open one eye. I forced the one eye into focus as I scanned all the texts on my phone. Side note, international service does not appear to be worth it and the last thing I want to do is get on my phone with them to try and get them to sort it out.

I had some touristy ideas to fill the morning, but the idea of spending the time I had left leisurely sitting on the walk of a café with coffee and breakfast, watching and seeing the city seemed much more appealing. I was tired and it was going to be a late night, so there was that.

Internally agreeing to the idea, I took a little nap and then forced myself out of bed when the need for caffeine, carbs, and butter took over like I had never known before. Good thing I was in France. All of those things are in quick and easy supply.

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R was right. The coffee is better here, way better, so I ordered another cup. I will not lie and tell you I did not think about ordering another croissant, because I totally and actually did think about it. I almost went through with it, but I reminded myself that I have plenty of time to eat all the croissants and gain all the weights.

The time fast approached for my friend, D, to pick me up to explore Chateau de Chantilly, so I strolled back to the hotel to collect my things and check out.

While I explored Chantilly, D went to go pick up a couple of other friends of his before retrieving me so everyone could go and enjoy the Grand Prix back in Paris together.

I toured the stables and horse museum first because, hello, it is me. Horses. The stables are beautiful and there are actual horses there. Practically a jackpot for a gal like me. The minute I walked in, I felt at home. That all familiar smell and feel brought everything right back to the heart. I felt at peace, connected. Not like I was in a foreign land so far away from home. I did not even notice I felt that way until I walked in.

This buckskin Lusitano made me miss my dun duo.

There are signs on the stall doors that say do not touch the horses. Well. I touched this gray one. I could not help it and he was bored. He must have been new. All the other horses ignored me. In the short time I was there I saw two other girls break the same rule. They at least had the decency to look around sheepishly before they did it.

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Then I took a turn through the gardens with an ice cream, or glacee conveniently located in a cart, and then the chateau.

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After meeting the newcomers to the party when my ride arrived, we all made our way to the Eiffel Tower to watch the Grand Prix and do some shopping.

If you would like to see more and better photos, go check out the Facebook page for this event.

I tried yet again to find something to buy and I was again unsuccessful. I consoled myself with the promise that we would later find a tack store somewhere that had more things to choose from.

We left Paris after 9 PM and did not arrive at the farm until after midnight. The house was quiet when we walked in with most everyone already long asleep. Naturally, we all sat at the kitchen table, opened a bottle of wine, and had a couple of glasses. Then we ate chocolate mousse. When in France, right?

The need for clean feet and a bed finally over took me close to 2 AM and I excused myself to go upstairs.

Walk in love, dear readers!

And if you were wondering, this is what my Darcy Doolittle does when I am gone.

I do not know what I would do without my parents to send me updates on my animals.

Paris Part Un: In Which I Did Not Sleep

My plan was to sleep on the plane, but we all know how the best made plans can go…I got nada. The flight was pleasant enough though. I watched a couple of movies (one bad, one good), listened to some music, stared out the window, twittled my thumbs. Normal stuff.

After a quick flight change in London and a jump across the pond, I arrived in Paris at my hotel around 12:30 PM local time. Still with no sleep, but honestly, who has time to sleep. I was strangely not even tired. I kept thinking about what a friend told me once. “I can rest in the nursing home!”

I stayed at the Hotel Eber Mars and quite enjoyed my stay. You should look it up. Conveniently located, wonderful staff, quaint, and full of stories.

I took a quick shower after checking in and set off exploring. With only about 24 hours to take it all in, it was hard to determine what exactly I wanted to do. I fit in as much as I could before dinner.

My hotel was right by the Eiffel Tower. That was easy.

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I zig zagged my way through the streets from the Eiffel Tower to the river and walked all the way to the Lourve. I ate a croissant and watched all the people. It was very busy. Everywhere. And everyone had dirty shoes and feet.

I stopped at a café across the street from a packed bar of some sort where there were several people enjoying the afternoon and the World Cup game. There were no seats left on the sidewalk, so I settled for one right inside, close to all the action. I had a couple of glasses of bubbly and a cheese tray while I watched and listened. It was fun to hear all the shouts and cheers throughout the game.

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I considered going straight back to the hotel and crashing, but I could not let myself do it. Instead I walked through a quiet, pretty neighborhood enjoying the long shadows of the buildings until I found a decent enough spot for dinner.

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Interestingly enough, the Longines Global Champions Tour just so happened to be in Paris at the Eiffel Tower for the Paris Eiffel Jumping during my short stay. (If you happen to be coming to this region this weekend, the next stop on the tour is Chantilly, not very far!) After dinner I walked straight to the show grounds to have a look see. I could not help it. The plan was to go Saturday evening to watch the Grand Prix, but I just had to go sooner than that.

I sat and watched the warm up for a while. The warm up is my favorite thing to watch at competitions. Then I grabbed an ice cream from one of the vendors as I checked out all the things for sale. Trying with all of my might to find something I had to have. Something I could not live without. Try as I might, I could not. There was nothing for me and I was extremely disappointed. Perhaps I would have luck tomorrow.

I made the short walk back to my hotel, took yet another shower, and fell fast asleep around 10 PM.

Walk in love, dear readers!

When A Texan Goes On Vacation

She eats Mexican food no less than three times in the week before like there might be a chance it won’t be there when she gets back.

You may think I am kidding, but I am not. I hope the clothes I packed still fit!

Last weekend was great with my Aunt M and Cousin W out for a visit and the whole thing went by in a haze…an African Haze of African wind and dust.

But first, can we please admire Darcy’s paw hair blowing in the wind?!

I took care of some lingering chores Saturday and riding got put on the back burner. I did hop on Cheetah for a quick minute after sunset. Lito came over for a visit.

Sunday morning was greeted by two bright, dun faces and a unique, hazy sunrise. They wait for me at the gate most mornings.

I then had a great ride on Lito before I headed back to town for the crazy week ahead.

This week has gone by in a flash. Monday and Tuesday were non stop getting work situated for my absence. By Tuesday at 1 PM I started to get this old familiar feeling. A feeling I have not felt in years.

Can you guess?

It felt like the last day of school before summer. Just without the movie watching and parties. A permanent smile was forming on my face as the end of the day approached.

The plan after work was to get my nails done and then get packed and organized so that today, all I had to do was go to the farm. You knew I had to get out here to see the horses and get my fix before I leave.

I convinced R to go with me on the nails. Then that summer time feeling was still there and one of those much needed Mexican meals was calling my name. I had to comply, I had no choice. I gave a good pitch and convinced R and a couple other friends to come with. Never a hard chore when Mexican food is involved.

After a bucket of salsa, enchiladas, and margaritas, the last thing I wanted to do was organize, clean, and pack. So…I didn’t.

Procrastinating, I am good at it.

I woke up this morning and made myself pack. And clean. And organize. It was helpful that it was raining basically all day. Everything, unfortunately, also took most of the day. Those things always take too long, so I didn’t make it out to the farm until after 4.

The whole region received quite a bit of rain and it was still raining when I pulled up. I walked out in the drizzle to see the horses after a quick survey. They seemed to be glad for break in the heat and to have the rain cleanse their coats of salt.

So, now here I am, covered in wet horse dirt and hair, happily cuddled up on the farm couch, writing to you.

All in all, a pretty good 4th of July. I always seem to have a good day on the 4th of July. Just look at this pic of me and my Lito from a 4th of July past. A little younger and a little smaller. Still my Lito.

I am leaving for France tomorrow and could not be more excited.

I do hope you will stay tuned for news from my trip! I can not wait to share it with you!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Problems

Problems, I ain’t got none.

How do you like that English? I did that for effect, you know. Just for you. To give you a laugh.

Anybody?

Tap, tap, tap?

In all seriousness, continually I am reminded that the things we see as problems in this life, are not really problems in the bigger picture. They are just experiences and lessons. They are gifts.

Remember yesterday’s list of possible topics that got quickly brushed aside in favor of food and wine? Ya, that. We are going there. Here is why. Stick with me.

Wednesday was not a very good day at work. The details are not really important, but emotions are high right now as we are about to drill a well (not really the best time to be leaving the country for vacation, but this trip has been planned for a year…) and somehow I got caught in the middle. Like a side effect or an accessory. Honestly, if I could have done something about it, I would have, but it was out of my hands. (Even though I am still kinda beating myself up about it.) It put me in a foul mood and I was ready to book it before it was even lunch time.

At the end of the day, I left quicker than I ever did when the 3 PM dismissal bell rang at school, and I was the kid that counted the seconds till it was time to leave. I changed my clothes and grabbed my dog in record time to drive out to the farm. I had already planned to go out there for my usual midweek visit.

When I arrived, the horses were in the far corner of their pasture. Go figure. I took a deep breath, stepped out into the sun, and started walking. I didn’t even put a hat on. No time for that.

With each step, I felt a little tension leave. It began to feel blissfully hot as the sun beared down. The grass was green and sky was blue. The breeze was soft through my hair and the trees. I started to hear the birds chirping and Darcy romping around off to my right.

She caught Lito’s eye as he stood in the shade with a hind leg cocked, tail floating on the breeze, playing with the tips of the tall grass.

Then they all, one by one beginning with Lito, started to look at me as I approached. They knew. They always know. Looking at me with their big soft eyes. Nuzzling me with velvety muzzles.

We were just a short walk away from bliss by this point. The answer to everything. It doesn’t take much.

I grabbed Cheetah’s bridle off the bridle rack. I walked up to her side, stroked her golden neck, and began bridling her. She graciously accepted the bit as I slipped the headstall I won in 4H with my old mare Fresca all those years ago over her long ears. Just as I have done countless times. Fresca is the only other horse to have worn that bridle. It has a cross on the side buckles. I found Lito a similar headstall. It was and is important to me.

I will not mention the sweat and dirt all over her body as that would clearly ruin the picture. No, I won’t do that. But she is indeed, covered in dirt. No matter. Dirt brushes off and my hands did a good enough job of that to clear a spot just big enough for me to sit.

I threw myself up on her broad, dorsal striped back and off we went.

Nothing else is needed. Our shadow danced around us as we turned around the ring. On and on. Around we went without a care. Whatever happened earlier in the day a distant memory, not given another significant thought.

(How is this the only video of this song?)

I dismounted feeling lighter, almost wondering if the day had really indeed been all that bad. The answer was probably not, but it did not matter anymore. I thanked my big dun mare for letting me borrow her freedom and setting everything to rights before I made the hour long drive back home.

The drive was pleasant as I was serenaded by Texas music and the views of the coastal plain.

The following day was peaceful as I worked, fueled by the high from the ride, YouTube videos playing in the background. At some point, a string of videos about near death/death experiences came up. It began with the stories of a career hospice nurse. Interesting turn of events, I thought to myself, but I will listen on. I do not doubt that these are true stories. Indeed they are common enough. We hear about them all the time.

I looked up when I heard a familiar voice and story. Eben Alexander. I have heard an interview of his before. Have you heard of him? He wrote the best seller, Heaven Is For Real. Have you read it? I have not, but I will tell you I ordered the book at the end of yesterday. His story is worth a listen. Take the time. I would not share it with you if it was not. I will not spoil it, but the short end of it is he was basically a dead man. Believed to be a vegetable for a week and on his way to death. He awoke and had a lot to share about his experience. About God and Heaven and love.

It brought me to tears, but maybe not in the way you might be thinking. It was an overwhelming feeling. A feeling of knowing. Of love and truth. It is no wonder to me that music and nature and animals and relationships play such vital roles in our lives here on earth. It is all about love. God’s love. God is love.

No, no I do not have problems.

Focus on the bigger picture. The Lord’s journey for you. Spread his love and light. Forgive and forget. Life is short. Tomorrow is a new day. Do not let what you view as problems bring you down. You are here and alive!

Share with me your thoughts! I want to know!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Special Day

Monday morning awoke with a bad case of the delayed, anxiety inducing Sunday blues. But, so goes some Mondays.

Even Darcy had a good groan and roll around before I made her get of bed strictly because I had to. She promptly went straight to her bed to go back to sleep after taking her outside. She did not even get up when I left. Oh to be a dog.

Anyway, back to the weekend because it was great and much better than anything going on this week. You know, working and laundry (SO MUCH LAUNDRY ALL THE TIME!) and cleaning and stressing about my upcoming adventure in France. Really, France can not come fast enough!

You missed that little tidbit, did you? Yes, AHAmoments is going to France next week! I dropped that news a bit ago and then never really said anything more about it. And I am not going to give any bit of it away now. You will just have to check back here to follow along on the adventure!

OK. Now, really back to the weekend. First, the weather was phenomenal. Not too hot and had a nice breeze. The traffic heading out there Friday after work was absolutely horrendous, but the second I stepped out of the car all was forgotten. I made a cocktail and walked out to the horse pasture, clinking ice and all, to sit and enjoy the sunset.

Stunner right? I just love to share these images with you. It never ceases to amaze me how each sunset can be different from the same place. It is a natural wonder. I hope they bring you as much joy as they bring me.

After bringing the horses into the paddock for the night, I went to get my dinner together and settle in for the night.

Saturday morning I took my time grooming and tacking Cheetah before we went of to ride. First we did a little arena work to make sure we actually did work. We both need it. Her because she is so grass fat and happy she is moving a little pokey. One would think that is a welcome change from her normal, but it is not actually. It is awkward, flat, and strung out. And for me, because well, sometimes we need to put ourselves into boot camp. Make myself ride better was the focus and has been the focus. My western saddle has become a crutch apparently and I do not like it. You just have off times every now and then. So, I have pretty much been only riding in an english saddle for the past couple of months and making myself do two point and riding without stirrups.

After the hard part was over, we went for a nice tour of the farm. An actual, four beat, walking tour. That was a nice and welcome change from her normal. She has actually been doing that lately and I love it. We looked at the grass and fences. Took a few bites of grass every now and then. Checked on the cows. Stopped in the shade of her favorite pecan tree. She voluntarily stops under the same tree every time we ride by and I love that too. She got a handful of treats and bath upon our return. I honestly think she enjoyed it as much as I did.

Leaving her tied in the shade, I brought Lito over for a long, indulgent grooming session. My favorite. I even braided his cute, short mane. I hoped they would stay, but I knew they would not. In the end, only three survived.

After lunch, I mowed. You know, I love to mow. Does anyone else like to mow? I find it terribly therapeutic and cathartic. And satisfying and rewarding. Some people think I am crazy, but honestly. Try it some time. Then, when you are finished and turn the mower off, the invading flood of silence is marvelous. Like you never knew how quiet it was before. You just have to hurry up and change your clothes because it is itchy work!

At some point in the day, I caught Darcy in a nap on the warm concrete.

Please notice the burrs. Wherever the Darcy goes, so go the burrs. It is our lot in life.

The long, hot afternoon hours around here are for the riding horses to practice tying in the shade. They get really good at it. All it takes is hours. They learn to settle in for a nap. Sometimes even I forget.

All three tails, caught in the breeze.

I rode Chance in the late evening, after the hottest part of the day. He has been ridden by kids a lot lately and thought he could pull the same tricks on me. He grunted and groaned in irritation as I made him work correctly. It was quite comical. A quick hose down for Chance after our ride and I settled in with a cocktail, listening to music and enjoying the sunset. The animals broke the spell after a while demanding their evening feed.

Sunday was an early start to a special day. Riding my Lito and a visit from my Grandmother.

After the horses had their morning feed, I caught up my Lito for a ride. He was acting a little squirrely as only a young horse in their terrible fives can be…

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…so we hand grazed and walked for a while after looking at all the things. Man, it sure is hard to get used to young horse actually acting like a young horse. Time and consistency, just like everything else. Do not forget it. He is aloud to be young and horses never lie. They tell you what they need if only we listen.

When his head seemed like it was back where it belonged, we groomed and tacked. Arena work first, farm tour second. Seemed to be the order of the weekend. He was not great, but was not bad. He tried and was happy at the end. That is what matters. Little bit by little bit, one thing at a time, slowly, is how you get where you are going. And we are going.

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Then my Grandmother came out for a BBQ lunch and to visit the horses.

This pic was from the last time she was able to come out. It was a few years ago. I remember my Grandfather, memory almost consumed by the Dementia, took one look at Chance and said, “That is a Quarter Horse,” with a big smile.

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It was a special visit for us all. It warms my heart to see her with the horses again. For her to see, feel, and smell them, not just view in a picture. Feel the breeze in her hair and on her skin under the large oak tree. She says she still has dreams of galloping across the fields and I only wish I could make that happen for her again.

I hope to get her out there again soon. It was a late afternoon getting home, but I made a quick run to the store for ingredients to have a homemade pizza dinner. Pretty dang good!

Walk in love, dear readers!