Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Will to Live

I didn’t expect that my weekend would start out so dramatically. We were planning to be very low-key and do projects around the house and the yard. As I was about to go buy dog food yesterday afternoon, I realized that our 13-year old dog, Pepper, hadn’t moved from my husband’s office all day. She has very bad arthritis and a heart murmur and digestive track problems and takes thyroid medicine. We usually have to help her stand up and negotiate her way around. In short, she’s fading. She hadn’t eaten her breakfast and was stretched out limp as a dishrag. I had a hard time getting her to wake up and when I tried to lift her up, Pepper’s legs kept giving out and wouldn’t support her. She couldn’t walk.

It was four o’clock on Friday, starting a long holiday weekend, and I knew that I better talk to a vet right away. I called a large-animal doctor who makes house calls and is a friend of my neighbors. He was on a farm call several towns away, but his answering service paged him. After he didn’t return my call in a half hour, I called our regular vet. I knew I couldn’t get Pepper there in time before they closed. It turned out that only a new vet was at the hospital, but she was able to speak to me. She said that worst case was that the problem might be with Pepper’s spleen. It might be enlarged, have a tumor or might even rupture. She also looked at the dog’s record and suggested that I give her a Pepcid in case her stomach was upset. She pointed out that it was about to rain and maybe this was just a severe arthritic reaction. We decided that we should bring Pepper in first thing at 8 am, and my husband offered to stay downstairs and sleep on the couch next to her in the living room. The other vet phoned back and when I explained the situation, told me that he was on-call all week-end. If I had an emergency, he would come help us. Throughout the evening, Pepper couldn’t stand on her own or walk and continued to refuse to eat.

So, anxious, but feeling better that there was some kind of a plan, I fell asleep. I woke at 4:30 am and went downstairs to see how Pepper was doing. My husband groggily told me that she had thrown up twice. Then, he fell back to sleep. I sat on the floor with my dog and wondered if this was the end. I didn’t know if she could even make it to the vet’s office and if she would come back from there. I decided to talk to Pepper. I told her that we loved her so much, but if she was in pain she needed to let me know, and it was okay for her to go. We didn’t want her to suffer. I said that she needed to tell me what to do. I stayed with her and had a cup of coffee while she listlessly leaned on my leg. No response. Finally, it was time to feed the horses.

I started crying when I put the hay in Silk’s stall. I explained to Silk what was happening and stood with my arms around her neck. Suddenly, in my head, I heard, “Pepper loves you so much that she doesn’t want to leave you.” I was startled by that, but I knew in my bones that it was true. I woke up my husband since it was time to go to the vet. After he drank a cup of coffee, I started the hard conversation about at what point would we know that it was time to put Pepper to sleep. I knew it was really important that we both agree on the decision and that he is very deeply attached to our dog. I didn’t want to be in the waiting room at the vet’s office trying to discuss what to do. Pepper was within ear-shot, still sprawled out motionless on the floor. Then, it was time to go.

We helped her up, and suddenly, she walked to the back door, went out in the yard and pooped and peed like she always does. Then, she came back into the house and ate a bowl of food and drank a lot of water. I couldn’t believe it. I called the vet to say that we weren’t going to come and that I would bring Pepper in on Tuesday if she seemed to be in any distress. The vet consoled me that if something was wrong with her spleen, she would be getting worse, not better.

I hung up and remembered a previous time, when Pepper was younger and had the second operation on her back legs. They had to put pins in her legs because she popped her kneecaps. They had a hard time waking her up from the anesthetic, and then, for several days, she refused to eat. Our vet told me that he was afraid that she had lost the will to live. That day, one of my daughter’s little friends who was terrified of dogs came over to visit. I carried Pepper out to the patio, with a huge cast on her leg, and the girls made get well cards and petted her. By the time the little girl left, she was hugging our dog and begging her mother to let her get one. Immediately afterwards, Pepper began to eat again and was on the road to recovery.

So, I wonder, did Silk communicate to Pepper this morning? Twice since I’ve owned my horse, I’ve witnessed her pull back from death’s door and have always believed it was because she felt the strength of my love. I took another trip to the barn after Pepper’s miraculous change and thanked Silk for her help. I know that this is a day-to-day delicate balance for our dog, and my husband and I are both so grateful that she’s still with us right now.

I’ve been marveling at how I was actually able after all to relax and do the projects that I planned to do this afternoon. Checking my email, I found this poem from someone:

What you can plan

is too small

for you to live.

What you can live


will make plans


for the vitality

hidden in your sleep.

From “What to Remember When Waking” by David Whyte

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Turning the Corner

We’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel at last. Siete is doing better. I haven’t posted anything for the last few days because it was so depressing. Today, thanks to Arlene from Grey Horse Matters and her wonderful daughter and my farrier, John, the little horse is walking better.

Last night, I thought about how nervous and stressed I was about holding Siete today while the farrier dug out her back hoof abscess. After our painful experience with the vet, I didn’t want to also cause Siete to hate the farrier. I remembered a favorite line of one of my mentors: “If you need help, you must ask for it.” So, I called Arlene, and being a great friend, she and Jacquie came to the rescue. First, I must say that Jacquie has a really magical effect on my horses. They both really like her.

What was amazing was that Siete was so transfixed by the way that Jacquie was tickling her nose that she relaxed to the point that she almost fell asleep while John was trimming her feet. I was prepared to just be able to do the one hoof with the abscess and have him come back to do the others when she wasn’t so sore. As soon as he opened it up and drained it, she was able to stand comfortably and let him do his job on the other three feet.

Jacquie also kindly brought me a poultice called Animalintex which I’m using in a medicine boot on Siete’s foot, and she had another boot that was too small for their horses that she gave me. So, now with two boots, my life is significantly simpler.

I must also thank LJB at the Horsey Therapist for her good suggestions. She told me to add cinnamon to cut the bitterness of the doxy. While Siete still refuses to eat the pills coated with it, she does let me squirt the cinnamon, yogurt, doxy concoction into her mouth. I can’t go so far as to say she likes it, but she is being cooperative.

So, tonight, I can rest easy and feel like my sweet little horse is on the mend.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Doxy Report

What a difference a new syringe makes! The morning dosing of doxycycline was very difficult because I had no time yesterday to pick up a couple of new syringes. I only got half the meds into my little horse because the plunger kept sticking. Siete holds her mouth tightly shut for the first couple of minutes while she twists and shakes her head, saying “No! No! No, Mommy!” Then, without warning, she opens her mouth wide and lets me get the syringe into it deep enough that she can’t shut it, and I quickly squirt away. We take a little break, wipe off all the goo that went flying, and then finish off the second syringe in much the same way. And Siete drinks half a bucket of water.

I did get some horse kisses tonight after we were done. I’m going to try LJB’s suggestion of pills and cinnamon tomorrow and I’m hoping and praying that it is the magic formula.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's Almost Official

That wasn’t so easy, was it, Siete? My poor little horse was very lame today when the vet showed up. The vet tried to lift Siete’s front right leg, and my girl squealed in pain. Today, the worst leg was the back left. Siete just wasn’t going to let the vet look at her hoof to see if there was an abscess, so we decided that things might go easier if we sedated her.

There was another vet who was observing or visiting or something. Neither of these women could find Siete’s vein in her neck. They poked and poked the needle into her, and she got more and more upset. I got upset too. Finally, after so much poking, they got a vein on the other side of her neck, but it took two of us to hold her down. Even with the sedative, she fought having the vet hold her back foot. I suggested that it was because the other legs hurt so bad that she couldn’t support herself. The vet agreed and decided that we should just start the doxy and call it a day. She said it was the worst manifestation of Lyme Disease that she’s seen. Of course, it's taken five days for her to get here. The blood test should be back next week, so we’ll know more.

My horses have never been afraid of the vet. They are really good about everything, but all that changed today. My guess is that the next time Siete sees this vet, she’s going to be very unhappy. I’ve had it happen with my dog a few times before. The vet couldn’t find the vein, and it made me really freaked out when it happened. They just kept poking and poking the needle in, and I kept suggesting that they try a different place on the animal’s body that wasn’t so difficult, and they got annoyed, and I got mad. The vets that I’ve loved just know how to do it right every time, no drama.

Tonight, I mashed up 40 doxy pills in the grinder, mixed them in vanilla yogurt, added salt, Stevia (a natural sweetner) and a little molasses. I filled two syringes, dipped the tips in sugar, wet a washcloth and stuck a few bits of carrot in my pocket. My routine is that I give Siete dinner, leave her halter on and lock the stall door. Then, I offer her a bit of carrot and clip the lead rope on. I use the stall door as a brace between us. She knew exactly what I was going to do since we had done it twice a day for 30 days last fall. She objected a little bit, but let me jam the first syringe into her mouth and squirt the gunk down her throat. She twists her head, and there’s so much soupy liquid to swallow. It gets all over me and the barn too. I wiped her mouth with the wet washcloth and quickly shoved the other syringe in. Afterwards, as I cleaned off her mouth and my arms and the stall door, I suggested to Siete that there was another way we could do this.

I pointed out that her mother just eats the pills, coated in molasses mixed into her food. I asked Siete to open her mind to how much easier it would be for the next 29 days if she would try to do what Silk does. The perverse truth is that she enjoys this crazy drill. I could tell last fall that she missed it when I stopped doing it with her. I have to admit that it is a bonding moment between us when she lets me squirt the disgusting sauce into her mouth. I’ve tasted a tiny bit and it is really bitter and gross, even with all my attempts to disguise it. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll explain to her that if she wants to bond with me, I can come up with much more pleasant ways to do it. Maybe she’s a little older and wiser and she’ll listen.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Update on Siete

It took four days, but one of the vets finally called. I wasn't angry because I knew that they must be extra busy. At the same time, it was driving me crazy, and Siete’s soreness had moved up in her right leg to her stifle. Today, she’s walking better even though she’s obviously hurting.

The equine hospital has a new vet who called early this morning, and we determined a plan of action. She was glad I hadn’t given Siete any doxy yet because she wants to do a blood test. Last year, the result was “moderate positive”, meaning that the Lyme Disease was either coming or going from Siete’s system. If we test again now, we can see where it is compared to the previous test and know what Siete’s threshold is for getting sick. It’s a drag that it takes so long to get the results from the test, but I hope to just start the doxy tomorrow after the vet comes and draws the blood. Of course, all of this will cost a considerable amount of money but the vet won’t start the antibiotics without the blood test. It’s times like this when I wish I had a horse trailer or was able to split the farm call with someone else.

My little money pit is happily eating grass right now. She’s got an entire pasture full of it, but the grass on the other side of the fence always tastes the best. It’s glorious weather, and since Siete doesn’t seem to be so lame, I will leave them out until she lets me know that she wants to lie down in her stall. Silk was really fired up yesterday because she wanted to be grazing and I kept her in with her daughter. It’s funny how Siete wanted to be right with her mommy, like any kid who’s feeling sick. Silk usually just stands over her in the stall, but yesterday was such a beautiful day, and her patience wore thin.

Today, it’s my patience that’s being tested. I wish the vet had been able to come this afternoon. I’m going to go out and buy a cheap grinder that’s dedicated to crushing doxy pills and a couple of new big syringes with plungers that slide easily. The ones I used last year are so mangled and bent from Siete’s teeth that it’s hard to push the plunger to the end of the syringe. I looked into a pill wrapper that Arlene at Grey Horse Matters found. The medicine is so bitter that I don’t think there’s any chance that Siete would eat it even if it was coated with molasses. I have a gut feeling that we should just do it the way it worked before. Thirty days, twice a day, it’s going to be a challenge.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Waiting Game

We’re all waiting around here. I’m waiting for the vet to call. My daughter is waiting to start at a new school in seventh grade next week. My husband is waiting to hear about two big projects. Siete's waiting for her back feet to stop hurting. And I’m writing under a deadline that is coming up on Wednesday. Can you feel the tension? I should think so.

At least I'm pretty sure that I know what’s wrong with Siete. After a week-end of soaking her right back foot and then her left back foot and then her right back foot again, I still couldn’t find any abscesses. Monday morning, I called the vet, and tried to make an appointment for her to come out. It’s not an emergency, but Siete is really hobbling around in pain. As I’ve been saying over and over, I figure that the other possible reason is Lyme disease. I’ve been holding off giving her the required dosage of 80 pills a day for a few reasons. First, I thought that the vet might want to take a blood sample to see if it’s Lymes. Of course, the last time we did it, the test was inconclusive. Still, I’d like to know if the blood tests have improved and I’d like to actually ask the vet. It’s so unusual that she hasn’t called. I can only imagine that there’s some craziness going on there. Second, I hate having to crush the pills, make the concoction and jam it down Princess Siete's throat with great drama twice a day, so I guess I’m procrastinating a bit.

Today, while still waiting for the vet to call, I got a good clue that it is most likely Lyme Disease. I started to pick out Siete’s back right foot, and I asked her to step over by pushing lightly with my hand against her right hip. She squealed in pain and did this ouch, ouch, ouch hopping thing. I noticed yesterday that it looked like she was lame with a kind of hitching limp just above her hoof, in her fetlock. At the time, I thought about how last year, she was sore in her stifle when she got Lymes. So, now, a day later, she’s sore up there too. And if the vet calls, I will tell her all about this. Only, she never called, and they promised me when I bugged them again late this afternoon that one of the vets will definitely call me in the morning.

I almost started crushing the doxy and giving it to my little horse. I hate giving antibiotics without talking to the vet, so I padded Siete’s stall with lots of fresh shavings instead. It helps when she gets off her legs and stretches out at night. In the mornings, she walks with full weight on all four feet. And tomorrow, come hell or high water, I will know what’s wrong and what to do. I promised Siete that I would when I said goodnight, and I never break a promise to my horse.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dealing With the Mysteries

Yesterday was unexpectedly a very full day. The horses didn’t get much of my attention, even though Siete needed it. I had to take my mom to the doctor for a routine check-up. She’ll be 94 years old tomorrow, and it had been over a year since she had been to the doctor. Amazingly, she takes no medication and is very healthy. Some of the parts are starting to wear out. She has macular degenerative disease so her vision is blurry, and she is getting to be quite deaf yet she refuses to wear hearing aids. Recently, she’s been having some delusions, seeing people and hearing things that don’t exist.

Her doctor and I are weighing the options of giving her some medication to as he put it, “take the edge off” and help her sleep better. She gets up at night and wanders around the house, which makes me very nervous. I was really pleased that the doctor took a slow approach to the situation. He did some blood tests and made another appointment to see her in two weeks. He listened carefully while I told him what was going on with her at home. We spoke privately while the nurse drew the blood, but my mom knew that we were talking so I didn’t feel like I was hiding anything from her.

Coming home from the doctor, my car overheated. I pulled off on the side of the road in the parking lot of a fire station. Luckily, my husband was home, and he came to rescue me. While my mom and I waited for him with the hood up and the engine steaming, four people stopped to ask if I needed help. We were gone for about two hours by the time we got the car to the mechanic’s. In the meanwhile, big drama had occurred at home.

My sister-in-law is visiting us again. We love her, and since she’s recently moved nearer to us, we are happy to be seeing more of her. She brings her big dog, who is a good boy but feeling very stressed out now with the move to a new place. He’s used to having a yard and his dog buddies. Now, they are living in an apartment, and my sister-in-law is finding it hard to give him enough exercise. Our old dog, Pepper, gets along with Duke, but she feels his emotional tension. They are fine in the rest of the house, but whenever they both end up in my husband’s office, she growls at him and he growls back. Pepper never growls, so this tells me a lot. I try to make sure that they don’t get territorial.

Unfortunately, while we were gone, the dogs went into the office and my daughter was trapped in between them. Growling erupted, and then, as my daughter tried to get out of the way, Duke nipped her on the back of her jeans. At age 13, my daughter has never been scared of dogs, but this terrified her. I think she felt betrayed by Duke since she loves him so much. She was hiding in her room when I got home, refusing to come out.

Did I mention yet that Siete was lame again on the opposite back leg from where she was lame earlier in the week? I had intended to call the vet when I got home. Obviously, my daughter’s wellbeing took priority. By the end of the day, we had calmed her down enough that she was able to be in the kitchen with me, my sister-in-law and Duke, helping to make dinner. My husband fed the horses and tucked them in for the night.

I finally sat down at my computer and began to research Lyme Disease. I think that’s what’s going on with Siete since it’s very similar to the symptoms from last year’s bout of this systemic illness. There’s so little information about it that it’s frustrating. I couldn’t call the vet at 10 pm to chat, so I started reflecting on the mystery of illness. It led me to Rachel Naomi Remen, a doctor whom I admire very much. She wrote “Kitchen Table Wisdom” and “My Grandfather’s Blessings”, wonderful books about living and dying. She talks about how we want to control our lives and find cause and effect for everything. If I do this, this happens. If I don’t, then this will happen. Unfortunatley, it doesn’t always work that way since life is larger than we are.

I read an interview with Dr. Remen where she points out, “Diagnosis is an opinion, not a prediction.” Gnosis actually means “mystery” in Greek. I’m in such a hurry to “fix” what’s wrong with Siete, and I’m having a hard time with the idea that my fabulous little horse might not be sound for the rest of her life. I realize that I have to take the same approach to this situation as I do with my mother’s aging issues. Weighing medicine and nutritional supplements whether it’s for humans or animals is a delicate balance. It’s so easy to create new problems while you’re trying to help make things better.

I went to bed thinking about something that Rachel Naomi Remen said: “Growth is a strategy of being moved by adversity to grow larger than the things we have to live with.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Silk's Stall

I do some of my best thinking in Silk’s stall. Whenever I have a problem, it’s the first place that I go. If my sweet horse is actually occupying her bedroom, I usually just drape my arms across her and lean my head on her. It’s better than an aspirin or a tranquilizer. She knows. She just rests under me, solid as a big red tree.

The funny thing though is that my creative thoughts really flow like crazy when the horses are in the pasture, and I’m alone cleaning Silk’s stall. Sometimes, I have to stop, drop the muck fork and run back to my computer in the house before I forget my latest idea. I’ve started carrying a little notebook and a pen in my pocket when I go to the barn.

I think it’s because Silk is my muse. She creates an atmosphere of peace and understanding in the barn. I don’t get these flashes of insight on Siete’s side. She’s too young and hasn’t had the life experiences that her mama has. There’s some scent of wisdom mixed in with the horsey odors where Silk lives, and it inspires me to reach deeper into myself without fear or judgment. Maybe someday, I’ll win the National Book Award, and I can say that I owe it all to my horse.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics on My Mind

Silk isn’t the least bit interested in the Olympics, but I am. I’ve been following the story of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian team and hoping that they not only perform successfully but also stay safe. As you probably know, the Equestrian games were moved from mainland China because there were too many equine diseases there. After spending about $100 million on improving and building facilities in Hong Kong, the horses and riders arrived.

The concern about the humidity and air quality is huge. There have been record smog levels this summer. The horses were transported in air-conditioned vehicles from the airport to air-conditioned stables. As many of the events as possible will be held indoors. The cross-country course was scaled back from 11 minutes to 8 minutes for the horses’ health. On Wednesday, when the riders and horses were settled in, a typhoon blew through Hong Kong. Fortunately, it cleaned things up and the humidity wasn’t so high.

Today, the U.S. is in third place after yesterday’s dressage competition. Australia is first, followed by Germany. Tomorrow, the cross country will begin. Karen O’Connor is going to wear a bracelet of horsehair from her beloved Teddy when she rides. I keep thinking about how difficult and emotional this time must be for her.

I found two interesting Olympic blogs from the equestrian perspective. One is by Max Corcoran called “Inside the O’Connor Cavalry” the other is by Jennifer Bryant for The

In Max Corcoran’s post on July 28th, when she learns that she will be going to the Olympics with Karen and Mandiba, she writes about how much she loves these horses. Mandiba sounds like a great horse, and I’m sure that Teddy will be watching over them. I think that the Olympics is one of the few times in our world where we are able to witness life's full panorama, from glory to tragedy, in a remarkably short moment. I hope that Karen's and Mandiba’s experience will be all that they dream it will be.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Days Like This

Finally, things have settled down to a peaceful flow here. When I returned home, my sister-in-law was visiting with her 125 pound dog, Duke. He’s a good boy, but he’s got so much energy. He has also never seen a horse before.

Every time he ran into the back, he’d start barking and charge towards the corral. The horses were okay, putting their noses through the gate to sniff him. I insisted that he not bark and that he was not allowed to crawl into the corral or the pasture with them. My husband and sister-in-law kept telling me that I shouldn’t worry, and if we left them alone, the animals would work things out.

Work things out by Silk kicking Duke because she was once attacked by a dog? I don’t think so. Work things out by Siete getting excited if the dog ran into her space and twisting her leg, which she’s already limping and favoring? Not going to take that chance, thank you. I stood my ground. I made Duke sit and stop barking and stay about ten feet away from the horses. I had him lie down and not move while the humans stood around and chatted and the horses when back to grazing. Each time he ran to the corral, I stopped him and repeated the sit and stay and no barking. It took some vigilance on my part, but I knew that I had to keep order here. I owe it to my horses to protect them. It’s one of the reasons that they trust me. My barn, my rules.

For years, Silk was afraid of dogs because she had several bad experiences. Besides having a dog go after her on the trail, snarling and attacking, she was also plagued by Corgis. Before I bought her, when she was on the hot walker at the barn, the barn owners’ Corgis would run around between her legs and nip her heels. Silk couldn’t get away because she was attached to the metal poles being forced to walk in a circle for 30 minutes a day. That was her “exercise” most of the time. Obviously, all that changed when I came along. At long last, I’ve managed to help her realize that my dear old dog, Pepper, isn’t going to hurt her. It was a big deal that Silk was curious enough to stick her nose out to meet Duke. I didn’t want to jeopardize our progress.

Wednesday, Duke and his mommy went home. We had gigantic thunderstorms the next day that lasted for almost five hours, rolling in back to back. At one point, there was a tornado warning that made me nervous about the horses being in the barn. I left the doors to the stalls open into the corral. Silk kept sticking her head out to check on where dinner was. Finally, I ran out between cloudbursts to feed them. Then, yesterday, the Internet was not working all day, causing problems while I was trying to work, and we had another big thunderstorm.

Today, it’s quiet and normal. You all know how much I value days like this. I dumped my muck bucket on the compost pile next to the woods and stopped to enjoy the golden dappled light through the dense green of the jungle that lives behind my circle of land. When I’m at home, I always feel that the woods have put their arms around our shoulders. I thought about a Mary Oliver essay I was reading last night in her book, “Long Life”:

“Time seemed to vanish. Urgency vanished. I knew that I belonged to the world, and felt comfortably my own containment in the totality. I did not feel that I understood any mystery, not at all; rather that I could feel happy and blessed by the perplexity - the summer morning, its gentleness, the sense of the great work being done through the grass where I stood scarcely trembled. As I say. it was the most casual of moments, not mystical as the word is usually meant… And yet, it is a moment I have never forgotten, and upon which I have based many decisions in the years since.”
Mayr Oliver, "The Perfect Days"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Good to Be Home!

It feels like I was gone three weeks, not just three days. When our car pulled into the driveway, Silk was standing at the gate. As soon as she saw me, she started calling to me. I got lots of good horse snuggle. Siete was in the barn and as she walked out, I instantly noticed that she was limping on her back left leg.

As soon as I greeted the rest of my family and things settled down, I went back to investigate. My husband and daughter said that she had been walking normally all day. I picked out her foot, expecting to find an abscess, but couldn’t see anything. Worrying, I went to bed with the intent of calling the vet or the farrier in the morning. Strange, but when I came out to feed her, she was walking normally this morning. I was relieved, yet my gut feeling is that she’s having another bout of Lyme Disease. We shall see, and I am going to call the vet tomorrow to discuss what’s going on with her.

On a happier note, I had a great time while I was in St. Louis. I am not going to talk about what I was videotaping until the show is done and there’s an airdate. The highlight of my trip was meeting the Budweiser Clydesdales and Dalmatians up close and personal. I got sweet horsey kisses from Jake, the biggest Clydesdale in the world. He is enormous with the most beautiful gentle eyes. The Dalmatians, Doc, Mickey and Barley, are adorable, friendly and well trained. I think that if there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a Budweiser Clydesdale. They live a pampered life of luxury for sure.

And now, I’m going to do a little riff on the trauma of air travel in this country. When I got on the plane at LaGuardia, we had mechanical problems. There was an hour and forty minute wait squished in on the plane. I thought that I was going to miss my connecting flight and that I would have to drive from Chicago to St. Louis. Landing at O’Hare, I learned that my connecting flight was also delayed, but about to take off. I ran full out down the entire length of Concourse H and got on the plane just before they shut the door. Coming back, I missed the big storm and tornadoes that went through Chicago on Monday night, so I thought that it would be an easy return.

The flight from St. Louis to Chicago is only forty minutes long, but when we got in the air, the pilot came on with an announcement. He asked if anyone who had been a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout noticed that the sun was on the wrong side of the plane. That’s because we’re going west, not east, he told us. There was another storm so we were being routed in the opposite direction and then up north. The good news was that we had just fueled up, so there was no chance we’d run out. That also meant they could keep us flying in huge loops across Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin for almost three hours. Of course, I missed my connecting flight. When we landed, the airport was still like a refuge camp from the night before when everyone got stranded. People were sprawled out in makeshift beds on the floor. It was jammed. Several hours later, I managed to get on a flight. The lady next to me had been there since the night before. She spent three hours during the worst of the storm in a plane sitting on the runway. It had been very scary, and then, they were finally allowed to go back to the terminal to sleep in a chair or on the floor. So, I had actually been lucky, I guess.

But, really, what has happened to our once wonderful air travel industry? Remember when you could just get on a plane and go straight to where you were going in two hours instead of having to spend eight or ten hours struggling with the routine disarray that I just experienced? They even charged me $15 to check one piece of luggage. I don’t mind all the crazy taking off of shoes and putting cosmetics and toothpaste in one little plastic bag and dumping everything electronic out into a too small plastic bin. I can understand and even appreciate that part for safety’s sake. But everything else about flying has become a nightmare. And it costs more than it ever has. My husband reminded me, “Welcome to my world. Now you know why I’m so tired and cranky when I get home from a trip.”

Too bad we can’t just hitch up a wagon and let a team of Clydesdales pull us to where we’re going.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Travel Time

I’m flying off today to do some videotaping in St. Louis. Silk and Siete will be cared for by my husband and daughter while I’m gone. I keep remembering things to tell them about what our normal routine is. They keep assuring me that everything will be fine. Then, a few minutes later, I realize another thing I forgot to mention. There are so many little details involved with caring for my horses that are totally ingrained into my being and my normal day. I don’t normally focus on them because I’ve done them so often that it’s second nature to me.

I’ll only be gone a few days, so I’m sure that everyone will be okay. The biggest thing will be getting some human being up out of bed to feed them early in the morning. Since I have to be up early for my work, I’ll provide them with a wake up call.

Happy Trails until I blog again! (Probably on Wednesday)