Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Run for the Border!!!

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door

Get ready all ye tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free! If you have not mastered the English language, you will want to steer clear of the maternal unit which gave life to me!

But why, you ask? Your mother is the very essence of maternal instincts, you say. She has longevity! She has stamina! She has wisdom beyond her years and courage and fortitude! She has been the organist in Baptist churches across the world! She has kicked butt and taken names. She can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan! She is WOman...

However, Mom has very little tolerance for those who live in our country and don't speak the language. Case in point occurred last week when a man not of American descent, and not speaking our language, caused a car accident in which he damaged the first brand-new car my mother has ever owned. The car is not a year old yet.

The man did not have insurance.

The man did not speak English. My mother was not impressed.

The man found a boy to translate to my mother, and tried to get her to move the cars. Mom, an employee of an insurance company... and not a fool... refused to move said vehicles until the police arrived and could determine that our Mexican neighbor was at fault for the accident... he having pulled in front of her vehicle, making a left turn into a parking lot.

My brothers made it to the accident scene before I did, to offer comfort, support, and no doubt, sarcastic wit... because that is what we Bell children are known for... and I arrived to find a bilingual police officer had arrived to fill out the police report and give numerous traffic violation citations to our new south-of-the-border friend... who, my mother is convinced, will return to Mexico before he pays one dime toward the damage to her vehicle.

Thank goodness for uninsured motorist coverage. Don't leave home without it.

The Mom was a little shaken up, but none the worse for wear. Working for an attorney, I advised my mother that we should at least take her to the emergency room... or perhaps a chiropractor... so that she could get some spending money for her upcoming vacation. She refused. She is like George Washington and she cannot tell a lie.

Much to the shock and horror of my brothers when the police officer asked my mother if she were wearing her seatbelt and she steadfastly said no. He didn't give her a ticket because she is so honest. He wouldn't have thought twice about giving anyone else a ticket... but I think my mother may have the Vulcan mind meld thing down and was able to work her mojo on the policeman and walk away unscathed.

Without even a warning from the man. Hmm.

I followed the Mom home because she was a little shaky. I took digital pictures of the damage with my camera so we would have them for the insurance company if they needed it. I encouraged my mother once again to go to the doctor and she once again refused. She promised she was not feeling stiff or sore... even though the next day and pretty significant bruise appeared on her forehead. She swears that she is just fine.

I didn't expect any less.

But I did offer to bring home Mexican food for dinner. Mom was not impressed... apparently having no intention of running for the border anytime soon!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ten Fewer Years

As I continue to bask in the glory of the foaling season via marestare.com or wefoal.com, I have experienced new heights tonight.

And it scared ten years off my life.

First let me say that I am recruiting/exposing all my friends to this brave new world... and with the exception of Requelle... they have been hooked.

BFF Brent Gambrell watched with some excitement while I was helping him pack supplies for a mission trip to Haiti. He learned more about foaling than he ever thought he needed. But it was fun to see! We watched a new little colt make his way into the cold, cruel world. Loads of fun there!

Over President's Day weekend, Lou, Amykins and I hung out at Amykins' Bachelorette Pad. We had two inches of snow. We had Great Food! We had good movies and music. And we had a fire burning THE WHOLE TIME.

Amykins has a laptop. I introduced Amykins and Lou to Lisa Lou, the mare I have been watching for two solid weeks and they became just as concerned as I was. The laptop was set up in the kitchen, and anytime one of us sojourned to that section of that house, the other two would call out "check the horse", and we'd get an update.

As of today, Lisa Lou is still preggers. Amy now checks on her a couple of times at night, and Lou's home computer is down, or I am certain she would check it as well. Amykins' sister Joan is in on the madness too! I am only too happy to share this joy with the world.

I attended choir rehearsal tonight and as soon as I got out of the building, I flipped open my phone to call my parents and check the horse. (I actually considered asking Amykins to bring her laptop to choir so we could have it standing by, but decided it would probably be distracting). My mother gave me Lisa's update... more standing around and NOT birthing... so I had time to get home without worrying that she would foal before I got there.

I came home. She's still standing. sigh.

But there was an alert up for another ranch, and I clicked on its site just AFTER the blessed event had occurred. I was curious to see how this mare would react to her foal, as it is the mare's first birthing experience. (It will be Lisa's first too) I wondered what was going through the mare's head after panting, groaning and pushing a LIVE HORSE through her birth canal.

From the looks on the mom's face, it was something like, "What the heck is that thing?" Mom sniffed the colt (it's a boy) and then generally didn't want to have much more to do with it. The owners stepped out of the stall to encourage mother/son bonding, but once the son stood and began to walk... Mom really didn't want much to do with him, as evidenced by her moving as far away from him as possible.

Geesh... talk about giving the little guy a complex!

The owners came back into the stall to back Mom up and see about getting son to nurse. Yeah right. If mom wasn't overly excited about baby to begin with, what makes you humans think she's going to be anything LESS than thrilled about a cold baby nose on the underside of a tender belly... with tender hanging down parts dripping with milk?

Yep. You get the picture.

I think Mom has taken on some protective qualities now though, (as she hasn't stomped the little guy into the ground) because she apparently is hearing a noise outside the stall and she charges the stall door. That's not a Mama you want to tick off. But, I can't say that they little guy has gotten a drink yet.

I don't know this for certain because whilst I was watching the new mother/son and keeping another eye on Lisa Lou (still standing there, munching on hay/grain, not having a baby) the ALERT signal came up with a high alert on yet another ranch.

Oh Goody! More foals to birth! This was my lucky night.

The new ranch has a great video set up in that there is AUDIO too! The first time I have heard anything coming from the long-away world of foaling (this one in Iowa). I was so excited because I could hear the mare panting, I could hear the owner being encouraging to the mare, it was almost like I was there! Another little colt! He's a beauty too and all was well. I watched with horror as the owner bound up the cord from the placenta in a knot and then wrapped it in what appears to be hot pink surgical tape. This is standard practice (and I know, because I read about it somewhere) that helps the mare pass the rest of the placenta. If you knot it up, the gravity will help make it fall.

All I know is that now this mare has a big pink ball hanging at the end of a cord coming out of her booty. This might be considered a bit tacky, but it is not the worst thing that can happen to a mare in the post-birth timeframe. What could be worse? One word:


I have very limited experience with colic, and that experience was with a human. A human baby. And it pretty much put me off the idea of ever bringing a child into the world.

I was 13 years old and I was babysitting for the first time. Ever. And it was a baby, just a few months old. It was only going to be for a few hours (4 or 5) and we just lived across the street, so I knew that I could call my mother if there were any problems.

I couldn't spell colic as a 13 year old and I had no experience with it at all. It was four or five hours of pure screaming baby hell. I walked the screaming baby. I rocked the screaming baby. I put the older sibling to bed with the screaming baby on my shoulder. I thought about putting the screaming baby in the freezer. Nothing helped. Even my mother couldn't help.

That was the beginning and end of my infant/babysitting experience for many years.

Imagine if you will a HORSE with colic. Imagine a screaming horse. Imagine a screaming horse that you can HEAR over the internet, who has just birthed a beautiful colt and is now thrashing itself about the floor in agony!

Now, imagine being me, on the other side of the country, hands fisted in anxiety and having the ability to hear the commotion. I'm telling you... it scared about ten years from my life. The owners were great though. They knew what to do, and were right there in the stall, keeping the foal safe (from being rolled on by mom, who is rolling about the floor), and finally getting mom on her feet and walking her as fast as they can.

I think she also got a shot to help calm and relieve her and I am happy to say that she and her boy seem to be bonding just fine now. He is up on his feet and she keeps sniffing his butt. A sure sign that all is well.

So. it will be off to bed for me as it is midnight and there is peace reigning in the horse world. As far as I know.

Lisa having just pooped again. But still. No. Baby.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Black Wednesday 2007 - VD: It could be worse

Yes. Another year. Another Valentine's Day. The upside of today is... we have snow flurries here in middle Tennessee. The downside... another stinkin' VD.

I am robed in my traditional black Valentine's Day garb. It is now expected of me. I don't want to let anyone down.

When I received the Merriam-Webster's word of the day on my computer this morning, the word was Cupid:

Cupid \KYOO-pid\ noun 1 : the Roman god of erotic love *2 not capitalized : a figure that represents Cupid as a naked usually winged boy often holding a bow and arrow

Did you know?According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Mercury, the messenger god, and Venus, the goddess of love. In Roman times, the winged "messenger of love" was sometimes depicted in armor, but no one is sure if that was intended as a sarcastic comment on the similarities between warfare and romance, or a reminder that love conquers all. Cupid was generally seen as a good spirit who brought happiness to all, but his matchmaking could cause mischief. Venus wasn't above using her son's power to get revenge on her rivals, and she once plotted to have the beautiful mortal Psyche fall in love with a despicable man. But the plan backfired: Cupid fell in love with Psyche, and she eventually became his immortal wife.

Oh good. More useless information that will never leave my brain. Now, if Cupid was a naked winged MAN, maybe I could enjoy it better. Alas, I digress.

My friends all think I have gone off the deep end, as it were, since I am spending a good deal of my time watching the births of many a foal across the world. I scoff at them. What is more wonderful than watching life begin? And horses via the internet is an easy fix for me. There is no audio so I don't hear the grunting. I am in the comfort of my own home, typically doing something else while the video plays in the lower left of my computer screen. No harm. No foul. No smell. No responsibility to run to the foaling stall and pull... thank goodness.

I have learned much about the horse foaling/breeding/brood mare world. I have learned to be thankful I'm not a mare. Poor girls. Their gestation period is about 11 months. Yikes! And that is not the worst part.

According to my confidential (i.e. nameless, faceless) counselor friend, a pregnant mare can be ridden up until it is very close to the birthing process. He knows this because his wife gave him a pregnant Tennessee Walking Horse for Christmas in December and the mare is due to foal in June. He was telling me he had just ridden her a couple of days ago.

I was, and still am, appalled.

Helloooooo... she's pregnant! Could you give her a break? Maybe she doesn't want a full grown man on her back while she is carrying a HORSE inside her. Maybe it's just me. I am now having serious doubts about the compassion level of my counselor friend. He is already known to cheat at cards. Now this!?!

And, if the mare were a broodmare, she would be expected to just pop that baby right out, rest for four or five days, and head off to the nearest stud farm to meet up with Mr. Right NOW... again... starting the whole process over while her week-old baby is still nursing.


So, my hat is off to the broodmares of the world. Here's hoping that on Valentine's Day this year, you get a nice rub down... or at least some good grain.

Still watching the screen...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Space Oddity circa 2007

When is it a good idea to wake up in the morning and think, "I know what I'll do... I'll grab a trenchcoat, a bad wig and a box of Depends, a canister of pepper spray and a ball ping hammer and drive across the country to smack someone in the head."

Apparently, it never is a good time.

This is not the face of an astronaut after a mission to Mars, but instead the face of a rather sad astronaut/single mother who woke up one morning with a skewed idea of right and wrong. She woke up one day thinking the whole ball ping hammer/Depends idea was actually valid.
At least she applied lipstick.
And a bit too much eyeliner.
Let this be a lesson to those who think a cross-country drive with a wig and a diaper is a good idea. It is not. She should have flown. If she had, her mugshot would have been better and she wouldn't need to worry about diaper rash.
Or being the punch-line on a late-night talk show.
Or making an appearance on my blogsite.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's a Girl!!!!!

Yes... all my peeps think I have lost my mind, but I am rejoicing that the horse I started watching last night foaled a beautiful white (with black spots) filly!!! She's precious. If you are interested, go to www.styerstarlight.com

Beautiful. Life in the horse world has been redeemed

Monday, February 05, 2007

You have Waxy teets, and that is a good sign?

Apparently the death of my favorite horse has sent me officially over the edge. In my attempt to come to grips with the loss of this most majestic creature, I wanted to look towards the future. How does one look towards the future when all around is dark?


It has everything.

My brain started thinking about how everything is available on the web. You can order WMD to be FedEx'ed to your home. You can learn to build a fire using a couple of sticks. You can learn just about anything. You can see a lot of stuff too. Cool stuff, not the dirty stuff that makes you blush and cringe.

For instance, there are beach cameras that I can click on and watch hundreds of people lounging on Waikiki Beach. A place I hope to visit one day. So, my grief-infused brain began its trek to think of how to pull myself from the pit of despair that was lingering over the death of Barbaro. What would encourage me back towards the light?

My algebraic brain reminded me that for every step on one side of the equation, an equal step must occur on the other. For every negative, a positive had to balance the scales. What would balance Barbaro's death, but the life of another magnificent horse.

Back to Google. Note to self: what are baby horses called? Foals. Wonder if there is such a thing as a foal cam. There are beach cams... maybe someone somewhere has a website with baby horses I can watch.

Google. Type in "Foal Cam". Listen as the angels above begin singing and watch the hundreds of responses to my inquiry.

It is true. For free I can sit and watch mares give birth to their foals. What an amazing thing to see. The problem is, I'm a city girl. I love horses and always have, but I don't know nothin' bout birthin' no babies (either human or equestrian). So, I needed to know what to look for in the mare birthing process. More Google help, please.

Apparently the mare's body will drop. That made sense. The mare will also lift her tail to one side. Apparently mares know what's coming and they don't want all that stuff getting on their tails. Smart girls. Can't blame them.

There will be a softening in certain areas of the horse's body that I have no ability to comprehend. Apparently mare body parts have different names from human ones. Some are named EXACTLY the same... but we don't need to go into that! (Some websites come along with pictures... in blazing technicolor. I have officially seen parts of a horse that I should NEVER have seen! All in the name of science) They will paw the ground, because they apparently need to nest? Actually, I have a feeling they are pawing more because there is a HORSE about to emerge from their bodies and OHMYGOSH but that's going to have to smart! They seem to appreciate human contact too.

For instance, I just watched as one lady was checking a mare and was standing DIRECTLY BEHIND THE HORSE lifting her tail, looking around... doing things that made me squint my eyes and turn my head... and this mare just stood there. Isn't one of the first rules of horse-dom NOT to stand directly behind said creature for fear of it kicking you through a wall? Especially a horse that is preggers and two weeks over her due date! When the discomfort gets bad, they lay down and pant, and then get back up and walk around. I've seen pregnant women in hospitals do much the same thing. Hmm... circle of life? I've known a couple of pregnant women who have lashed out at loved ones in the throes of labor; but these creatures do not seem to want to bite the hand that is feeding them... or cleaning out their stalls, for that matter. Horses and humans go well together.

So, I've been keeping my eye on a few mares that are located in various parts of the country and waiting anxiously for them to push those babies out! I got really excited about an hour ago because one of my mares (yes... I think of them as mine) was very fidgety and pawing the ground. Another one actually lay down and I thought "Yes! This is it!" Only to watch her get back up and stand completely still for an hour. Yep. There's fun right there... watching a horse stand around. For an hour or so.

I have read some interesting things on the corresponding ranch websites. For instance, I know that it is important for the "bag" to get full and apparently having wax form on the mares udders (because teet just sounds yuckky) is a sign of great progress and that the labor is soon to begin.

Tell that to the one horse I have been watching for a week who apparently has waxy days and not-so-waxy days. Gives a new meaning to wax-on, wax-off.

I must go now... one of my girls has taken three steps. This could be it! (The thing is... I know that as soon as I go to sleep, this mare is going to foal and I will miss it!)

Patiently waiting... and waiting... and waiting...