Jen at the Barn

Walking in the front door, I realized why horseback riders choose, where possible, to have two sets of Washers and Dryers in the house.  It’d been an hour since grooming and putting Scarlet back into her stall, but there she was, still with me after driving 30 miles.  She was there, stuck to my riding boots and pants.  Tuffs of reddish-brown hair.

When I had arrived at the farm for my first lesson, I was overcome with self-doubt.  I’d been on a horse once.  It had been thrilling as a teen, even though the ride had amounted to me being led around and around in circles for a full 10 minutes.  Getting onto the back of a horse and riding it around a track with me holding the reins was going to be new.

“Did I over equip myself?”, “Should I have tried to find gear more reasonably priced?”, “Did I do enough research?”, “What are they going to think when they see my, more than entry level, Helmet?”, “What if they figure out my boots are brand new Petrie and judge me for that? They are literally overkill and I know it.”, ” They’ll judge me harshly because maybe they’ll expect that I should ‘KNOW’ what I am doing, or better yet, know that I shouldn’t bother trying!”, “Maybe I am too old, too tall and too heavy to ride a horse and they’ll tell me so when they see me!”, “Don’t men ride horses? Sure, but they’d expect a man to weigh over 140 lbs and would have chosen a horse accordingly.”

There I was, at the barn, mentally spinning out of control as I paced around the entrance way.  Is this where I was supposed to be?

At a quarter past 6, the lesson prior to mine was over and Laura the Instructor, Jen the Student and Scarlet the horse traipsed into the barn. 

Jen, no more than 13, was jubilant!  She was so excited she could hardly contain herself.  If I were to describe her emotions, it was as though she were doing acrobatic flips off the barn walls, over the horse and running circles all around us.  But no, she wasn’t doing any flipping, she was holding the reins, steady, guiding the horse.

“You can leave her here Jen, the next rider will take her out as she is.” Laura instructed

Jen looked in my direction, “Awesome, you are going to LOVE Scarlet, she is the absolute BEST!  She’s the GREATEST!” she exclaimed as she struggled to find the best adjective to describe her adoration and excitement. 

She handed the reins to Laura and did a little dance, a dance only a 13-year-old can do when they can no longer contain a feeling that just needs to be seen.  She tapped her feet around, did a little pirouette, tried to hand her riding crop to Laura but the hand-off failed as she continued to spin.  Eventually she pulled herself together and placed the riding crop on a stack of hay bails as Laura had instructed.

The moment she put down the riding crop, she dashed between Scarlet and myself, bee-lining for the door as she yelled back at Laura, “SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!!!!!”

And she was gone as quickly as she arrived.

Everything I had been thinking and feeling was gone, sucked out of me, I was focused and ready.  I was right where I needed to be. Thank you Jen!

Names have been changed.

My Nieces and I

Spending time with my nieces and nephews is always an adventure, from hearing about my car being too small, letting me in on their “family secrets” (dad farts…) and explaining their “big” complaint about life not being fair (…not always getting their way…).

Today was spent ferrying around two of my nieces, 11 and 9.

We were discussing something super important, I don’t remember the topic! The littlest, in the back seat being obtuse and making broad snappy sweeping statements directed at her older sister.

And then my eldest niece said something so unexpected.

Growing up she loved listening to adults share stories. I’ve told my fair share of stories. One story in particular has evidently made its mark. The story involved an old boss of mine and the go-to-question he’d ask us when challenging the statements we’d make when we wanted his support.

So as we were travelling along the highway at break-neck speed (faster than walking), the littlest niece was goading her older sister into an argument.

That is when my eldest niece quietly pulled out my old bosses favourite challenging question and asked her little sister, “Would you bet your future house on that statement?”

BOOM!!

(Artwork from when they were “kids”, before they started saying adult-like statements, can we stop them from growing up!!)

The Tale of the Yarn Dog

Recently, I took my two nieces on a little road trip.  They are at the perfect age where they want to be involved in what the adults are doing, even if it’s just eavesdropping.

Both were in the backseat of the car chatting away with each other. I was paying attention to plowing through the snow drifts that had crept up onto the highway when the youngest asked me,

“Auntie D, do you remember the time you helped me make the Yorkshire terrier dog out of yarn?”

Ahh, do I remember! A birthday gift from Grandma. An Arts & Crafts project that I was elected to help supervise that turned into me putting together the Yorkshire terrier yarn dog itself. The instructions for the craft looked simple enough but simple instructions don’t always translate to a simple, well-crafted project!  Auntie D’s Yorkshire terrier yarn dog in no way resembled the picture in the instructions booklet. “I wish Grandma were here, she’d be able to make this better than you!” the same youngest niece had flatly informed me as I fumbled with 5 stray strands of yarn that went flying across the living room floor. You get the picture of what the yarn dog ended up looking like? And how my niece felt about the final product? A big lump of indistinguishable yarn!

So as I was driving along, I smiled broadly and replied “Ah yes, I remember!”

How could I forget?!

She continued with a little hesitation in her voice, “Do you want to know what I named my yarn dog?”

“Of course, what did you name it?” I asked expecting an answer.

Nothing.

Complete silence from the backseat.

You know when two chatty ladies go completely silent, SOMETHING is going on. I tried thinking up a logical scenario for such silence and couldn’t imagine a suitable reason.

The oldest niece couldn’t take it any longer and she piped up “Do you want me to tell her?”

Obviously it was BAD!

The youngest continued in her silence and I could only imagine she was making faces at her sister.

“OK, ok I will tell her for you, I will tell auntie D what you called your yarn dog,” she reiterated for emphasis, maybe even for approval.

More hesitation and a long pause.

“She called him MATZ**!” my eldest niece exclaimed loudly but firmly.  There was no joking in her voice, simply a sense of urgency to get a terrible message out and then retreat as far back into her seat as possible.

I burst out laughing! I could hear the relief from the backseat of the car.

“Well he is a nice man, just not the man for me,” I said and continued, curious, “why did you call him Matz?”

“He just looked like a Matz,” my youngest niece said flatly, no expression.

And so if the Yorkshire terrier yarn dog is any indication of what a Matz looks like, it is indistinguishable, misshapen, and poorly crafted!!

**Name changed.  Why so funny? He was someone I had been seeing a year ago. I am not sure if my nieces were concerned that I would be upset at the choice of name? Or perhaps the youngest just really thinks her yarn dog looks like a human being. Needless, it was important for her to let me know of her Yorkshire terrier yarn dogs name and that in itself is really funny.

On Random Life Altering Events as Related to Dating

Growing up, there was no TV in our house. The New Kids On The Block music videos sounded pretty cool especially the Hanging Tough video that included lots of hanging tough arm waving but instead of learning all the dance moves, I was busy building forts in the tree tops and…reading books.

I didn’t realize how shameful and awkward this “no-TV” situation was until the first Gulf war when a grade-four friend was concerned at the lack of a TV in my family’s living room; she cornered me on the playground to debate the devastating effects of my parent’s decision.

“What if the Iraqi’s invade Canada! How would your family and I get to safe hiding in time?”.

And my logical response:

a) we lived in butt-f***-nowhere and I was pretty sure the Iraqi’s didn’t care about bombing our particular remote Canadian city.

b) provided the Iraqi’s were interested in our city, I was pretty certain they wouldn’t promote their intentions through the daily news channel therefore negating the positive effects of owning a TV in the face of possible war.

c) at the end of our street, 20 feet in the air stood the remnants of a WWII air-raid siren that miraculously still worked.

d) the American’s initiated the war, not us peace-keeping Canadians who had nary a bullet in our shiny rifles, what threat were we really?!

Grade-four was equally life-altering not only because of The New Kids On The Block, the start of the first Gulf war and the poignant realization of how dangerously odd it seemed that there was no TV in our house. It was also in grade 4 that as a class we watched The Wizard Of Oz. We didn’t watch it in the comfort of our desks, instead the class gathered in the library/music room at the south end of the school. We sat on the carpeted floor staring up at a 20 inch TV sitting on a metal cart with wheels; the VCR making clicking noises and the screen flickering the entire time.

The class didn’t watch the movie in one whole sitting, it was broken down into segments.

It was during the first segment when we got to the part where the wicked witch enters the long room where she kept her multiple human heads, I’d had enough. I stood up, all my peers sitting quietly, intently watching, anticipating what was to come next. I tip-toed around my classmates sprawled on the floor and left the room.

My concerned teacher followed as any concerned teacher would do and I politely asked if I could be excused from watching the film, suggesting as an alternative that I sit in our classroom and read a book.

Yep that’s right, I wanted to read a book.

My decision to read a book in lieu of watching The Wizard Of Oz with the rest of my classmates brings us to the other fourth-grade life altering realization that didn’t include how ashamed I should feel about the lack of a TV at home.

See there was a boy who decided that he didn’t want to watch the movie either and to this day I can’t decide if he REALLY didn’t want to watch the movie or if he wanted to just sit in the same empty room as me. From grade-four until we graduated High School he was always there like a shadow when I turned around, just there, waiting for me to be nice to him for once? I promise if I bump into him I’ll apologize for a least not being nice.

My dating anxiety grew from those quiet, self-imposed, grade-four reading sessions in a mostly empty classroom. I was a worried little kid realizing for the first time that I couldn’t control which boys decided to like me and there was a possibility I might like some boys more than they liked me. Worse of all, I realized that with enough persistence it was possible that I might be able to be convinced to like someone back as much as they liked me.

Frankly, I was suppose to be the one in control, picking which boys were allowed to like me! But understanding that this was not to be the case and needing to protect my interests, by the time I graduated from High School and dragged myself to College I’d narrowed down the rules on boys and dating to one solid rule.

To sum it up, I unwittingly choose an anthem with dumb lyrics as a guide, you know the one:

Be, be aggressive
B-e, be aggressive
You never know
Just who you’re up against, so
B-e, b-e aggressive
B-e, b-e aggressive

I admit it has evolved over time, however the “be, be aggressive” lyrics did come in handy the time when my idea of short-lived longevity wasn’t exactly shared and interpreted the same way by my date and well, I got a taste of that thing called “the witness protection program” only it wasn’t the law that helped in assigning me a new identity, it was my close friends. 🙂

To dating, staying safe and…in control…whatever that means LOL!!

Seeing Greenland

Today isn’t a particularly different day from any other day except that I have all sorts of funny thoughts floating around in my head. I’ve tried all day to get them out so that I could stop looking like a grinning idiot wandering around the dealership having my own little party.

I mentioned this in an earlier post, I am a rather terrible car sales person, I am less interested in the “close” and selling them a car than I am in learning everything possible about my customer’s lives. I call it my hobby 🙂

The dealership is becoming more about personal development then building a nest egg to travel the world. I am spending my days unlearning learned behaviours that I needed to survive my eight years at a desk. It’s less about writing a well written email and more about invoking emotion to create a reaction to buy.

Today I had three non-customers. Each was in the store for service and was wandering around the sales floor.

The first gentleman had to be in his late 80’s. British, consciously unlearned his British accent when he came to Canada in the early 40’s to go to the Radio College of Canada. Now I have no way of verifying this, but he told me the only people who Canada was allowing to learn how to operate a ham radio for the war, were British Nationals who came directly from Britain?

My new friend spent 2 years flying around the globe in the 1940’s helping win a war. I told him about my upcoming trip to see the Germans. He left my desk and re-appeared two hours later. He wanted to wish me luck on my trip and to make sure to look out the left side of the plane 3 hours into the flight to have a peak at Greenland. He was so excited about Greenland it took everything in me not to squeeze his cheeks, which I am sure he wouldn’t have appreciated.

I am not sure I’ll get to see Greenland but will do my very best 🙂