Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Handsome Men!

Marie and son, Travis

Marie and husband, Ian

These pics were taken recently at my neice Deanna's wedding. I love these two guys more than anything!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My New Bike

Ian and I have been biking to our heart's content lately. Here's a picture of my new ride. I love it! I feel like a kid again!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cool New Science Show On PBS

Have you checked out the new PBS series, hosted by none other than the Hayden Planetarium's own astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson?
It's called Nova Science Now, and presents science in a fun and interesting way that just may light the fire of curiosity in minds young and old.
My husband and I are definitely fans!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Giving Thanks

Cultivating An Attitude Of Gratitude
Every day I try to remember everything for which I should feel grateful.
I am so blessed in so many ways.
What do you have to be thankful for and who in your life could use some appreciative words from you?
Try to start each and every day with an 'attitude of gratitude'!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jimmy Carter, You Rock!

Losing My Religion For Equality
by Jimmy Carter
July 15, 2009

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


"There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle"

-Albert Einstein

Friday, July 17, 2009

Almost 40 years...

...since Woodstock. Boy, how time flies! Of course, I was only 4 at the time but the music lives on and is just classic! I would have LOVED to have gone to see Joe Cocker or Janis Joplin or the Dead while Jerry was in his heyday!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Amazing Little Hummingbirds!

We've always admired the beauty and fortitude of the tiny little hummingbird.
Here's a great link at Youtube about one man's dedication to thousands of the migrating birds:

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Love This Poem

Name of Horses by Donald Hall

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres,
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,

and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground - old toilers, soil makers:

O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Good News!

I had my followup with my new cardiologist this morning, and he said that the narrowing in my coronary arteries is negligible!. He also said that if I keep doing what I'm doing, I should be fine! He was one of the nicest guys I've ever met, and so friendly and personable. He took his time answering ever single question I had and did not rush me. I left that office feeling like a million bucks!

So, here's advice for all of us to love our hearts and keep our hearts healthy and strong!

1} Exercise as often as humanly possible! Just make sure you clear it with your Doctor first. My husband, Ian and I walk with our little Jack Russell, Buddy, most days of the week for at least 2 to 3 miles up and down lots of hills. Ian rides his bike alot and we also do lots of barn/horse type chores, and I ride when I can. {I also want to get back into doing yoga!}
2} Eat a heart friendly diet! Ian and I have been vegetarians for almost 6 years now,and since my hospital scare a few weeks ago, I am just about vegan now. You have to choose what's best for you. I'm not trying to preach. But PLEASE eats lots of fruits and veggies and whole grains. Stay away from saturated fats. Eat walnuts and flaxseed because they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that are wonderful for your blood vessels. And remember, what keeps your heart and blood vessels healthy also keeps strokes and Alzheimer's and cancers at bay. Oh, and stay away from simple sugars/things high in sugar.
3} PLEASE don't smoke or really consider quitting. It's THE single greatest thing you can do for your heart! When I was a dumb teenager who knew everything, I smoked for about 3 years. But that was over 26 years ago. I'm so glad I quit one day, cold turkey. No b.s., I just stopped. It's called loving yourself enough to do the right thing for your health. I know it's hard to quit, but isn't your life worth sticking around for? Aren't your loved ones worth it? Just do it! Your heart will thank you!
4} Learn to relax and manage your stress.Take time to smell the proverbial roses. Learn to meditate. We are all so caught up in our hectic lives that we forget about what really matters. We all need time to have time and space to ourselves to reflect upon who we really are and what we are meant to do with our fleeting time here on this planet. Are you doing what you really want? If not, why not? How can you start getting there?
5} Make sure you have a good Doctor, one who you can talk to and who listens to you. Have your yearly physical exams. Don't skip them! They are vital for catching health concerns early, before they can wreak havoc on your health. Also, learn to be your best advocate. Speak up for yourself, and voice your healthcare concerns, no matter how silly they seem.
6} Know your numbers and what they mean. Don't just take your Doc's word for it!
The most important numbers you should know include:
-Your blood pressure. Normal is less than 140/90 but ideally it's better for it to be down around 120/70 or so. If it's consistently high you may need medication to lower it. Make sure you discuss this with your Doctor. Uncontrolled BP has very serious consequences for your heart.
-Your lipid panel/profile, includes your cholesterol. Ideally, your total cholesterol should be less than 200, your LDL {the bad cholesterol} should be ideally less than 100, triglycerides less than 150, and your good cholesterol, HDL, should be greater than 40 for men, and 50 for women.
-Your weight. Yes, let's face it-it's so easy to put on weight as we age. But we are doing our hearts no favors by ignoring the scale. Ideally, your BMI or body mass index should be between 18.5 and 24.9 to be a healthy weight. Here's a great link to check your BMI. Just put in your height and weight and it tells you:
-have your blood sugar checked. A normal fasting blood sugar is around 70 to 110 or so. When you have your yearly checkup, make sure you have lab work done like a metabolic panel, CBC, thyroid function. The metabolic panel will include a blood sugar level. Knowing early that you have developed Type II diabetes is something you can then manage. Diabetes at any age is very hard on your organs, but especially your heart, kidneys and eyes.

It's up to us to be proactive in keeping ourselves healthy! And remember, whether you are young or not, heart disease in the family or not...any chest pain or pressure accompanied by shortness of breath/dizziness/nausea/vomiting/sweating ALWAYS warrants attention. Get yourself checked immediatley. What's the worst find out your heart's okay and you live?!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Great South Bay Music Festival

Our son Travis has volunteered to help out at this year's Great South Bay Music Festival July 10, 11 and 12th at Shorefront Park in Patchogue. Last year was great and we had a blast! Got to see original Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart, Donna Jean Godchaux, and lots of other cool musicians.
Here's this year's lineup:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Great NatGeo Link

Check out this link at National Geographic. There's a cool video of equine photographer Mark Harvey and how he is so successful at capturing beautiful pictures of our favorite creatures!

Here's a link to his website:

Going For A Walk With My Bud!

I'm about to head out the door for a walk with my best walking companion, Buddy.
He tries to drag me the whole way, and I'm convinced he wants to be part of the first ever all Jack Russell Iditarod sled dog team! As long as there are no squirrels along the trail to distract them Russells, they might even win. Or you might find our sled stuck up a tree. Either one. It's anyone's guess when JRT's are involved!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Some More Random Fjord Cuteness!

Here's our boy just hanging out in the paddock with his buddy, Orion.

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Frightening Week

I haven't been feeling so well the last few weeks, which I attributed to the overwhelming demand of my summer nursing classes. I'd been having lots of fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and general exhaustion. Finally, last week I felt so terrible, my husband took me to the ER to be checked out. I had started having this burning sensation through my chest into my shoulder blades. As soon as the Triage nurse heard that, I was taken straight into the back and put on an EKG. After many hours and tests, which all came back mostly normal, they decided to admit me over night for observation. The next day I had a echocardiogram, and the Cardiologist came in to see me. He felt that in light of my very strong history/risk factors, such as my Dad's coronary artery disease and early death at age 50, my high blood pressure and my low HDL [good cholesterol level} that I should have a cardiac catheterization to know for sure where I stood. Turns out I have 30% narrowing in 2 of my 3 coronary arteries.
My anxiety has been through the roof and I've been so scared. I feel angry too that I've tried all these years to do the right things for my heart and STILL I have the beginnings of CAD. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I'm a vegetarian who exercises ALL THE TIME!
But, I now know that it is going to take an extra level of diligence from me to stop the progression of this disease. I don't want to die young. I want to live into my 80's at least!
I am going to monitor my blood pressure like a hawk, and to continue to lose the weight I've needed to lose for a long time! {I have already lost 32 lbs over the last 4 months simply by keeping a food diary and exercising religiously}
I am also now on Niaspan which is supposed to raise my HDL {the little 'scrubbers' that help carry out the bad cholesterol}
I have also taken my diet to a whole new level of healthy.
I'm still very scared, but I think I'm supposed to be.
Only that will motivate the right amount of change to make a difference.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

-Albert Einstein

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our Boy Is All Grown Up!

My husband took this picture of Samsun a few weeks ago, and I can't get over how grown up he looks. We have started to ride him lightly and he's been a wonderful trooper about it all. He just doesn't like the particular bit that's in his mouth in this photo. I have since switched him and he seems happier.
I can't wait for my Summer classes to finish so we can spend more time with him.
He's such a sweet boy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wouldn't It Be Nice...

...if we could live without 'ego'. If we could learn to accept each other and celebrate our differences, rather than merely push for 'tolerance'? Tolerance is such an ugly word. In my mind, it conjures up images of gritting one's teeth and trying not to explode. Hardly the image of compassion that our world so desperately needs.
What if we each take a moment to remember a moment from our own lives when we felt totally accepted. Maybe it was from a loving parent or relative. Maybe it was a dear and trusted friend. Maybe a teacher or mentor. Let that feeling wash down and over you. Internalize that feeling of warmth, love and acceptance. That feeling that someone 'gets' you...loves you...cherishes you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE, warts and all!
Embrace that feeling and file it away in your mind and heart, but keep it close by.
Plan to remember that glorious feeling when you are next faced with seemingly unlovable people or situations that frustrate you to no end. Try to remember that time in your past when someone loved you at a time when you may not have been your most lovable. That person saw through to the real you and just plain ol' loved and accepted you anyway.
I know this is far easier said than done, but it is so worth a try.
Maybe we could soften the harshness of this angry, judgemental world if we all could collectively accept each other, just the way we are matter what gender, ethnicity, social position, sexual orientation, political outlook...
Maybe we could reunite our hearts on the basis of common threads such as love, compassion, integrity...
Just a thought.
Hope you have a great day today, whoever YOU may be!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Boy, they sure grow up fast!

This is our sweet,intense,and ever-challenging son and his adorable girlfriend, as they were headed to their Junior Prom last week.
They look so wonderful, but then , I may be a bit biased!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


"Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place it leads." - Erica Jong

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SciAm Article: Evolution of House Cats

I just opened our June 2009 issue of Scientific American to find a cool article about the evolution of the house cat. Very interesting stuff, and just goes to show that cats are far wiser than they appear. Apparently their sinister plan to gain complete world/human domination began far earlier than previously thought!

Max says "...and dis iz a problem?"

Here's the link to the story:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Those Astronauts Rock!

{I love this photo-it puts things in perspective for sure!}

The NASA crew has completed it's mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope so that we may hopefully receive many more years of stunning images from deep space.
Please check out these links for the complete mission documented in pictures.
Very impressive!
Way to go, Atlantis crew!
You guys rock!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Atlantis On The Way To Hubble!

Anyone who knows my husband and me knows we are bigtime space junkies. We are science geeks of the highest order, and our incredible Universe never seems to run out of things that knock our socks off.
First things that comes to mind are the amazing images of deep space that the Hubble Space Telescope has given us. I can't help but think about all the other worlds out there just teeming with life, but so far away we may never know for sure. At least, not in our lifetime.
One of my favorite movies is Contact starring Jodie Foster. Great movie on so many levels. And written by Carl Sagan, an amazing mind who lived to plumb the depths of possibility.
Tomorrow's the big day for NASA and the Atlantis crew. They will begin the final repair of Hubble.
Hope all goes well for them and that they return safely to our beautiful blue world.
Visit this site to see some gorgeous views of our vast Universe:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thought For The Day

“This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun, and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men; go freely with the powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and mothers, of families: read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life: re-examine all you have been told at school or church, or in any books, and dismiss whatever insults your soul.”
-Walt Whitman

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Love This Guy!

(CBS) Every time 70-year-old Andy Mackie draws a breath, it's music to his ears - whether there's a harmonica there or not. As CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports, Mackie's just glad to be alive.

Mackie jokes, "I guess they don't need a harmonica player in heaven yet."

Mackie, a Scottish-born retired horse trainer, lives in a camper in northwest Washington state - he lives there, even though technically -- medically -- he should have died long ago.

After his ninth heart surgery, Mackie's doctors had him on 15 different medicines. But the side effects made life miserable. So one day he quit taking all 15 and decided to spend his final days doing something he always wanted to do.

He used the money he would have spent on the prescriptions to give away 300 harmonicas, with lessons included. "I really thought it was the last thing I could ever do," he says.

And when he didn't die the next month, he bought a few hundred more.

Harmonicas in hand, he explains, "I just started going from school to school."

It's now 11 years and 13,000 harmonicas later.

"I'll see a pregnant lady on the sidewalk and I'll give her a harmonica for the baby," he says as an example.

Today there's nary a kid in the county who hasn't gotten a free harmonica from Mackie, or played one of his strum sticks.

To keep the kids interested in music as they get older, Mackie now spends the bulk of his Social Security check making them beginner string instruments. He also buys store-made instruments for kids that show a special interest. He provides free lessons to everyone by getting the older kids to teach the younger kids.

Mackie says, "I tell them music is a gift, you give it away - you give it away and you get to keep it forever."

The end result is something truly unique to his corner of Washington. It seems everywhere you look, everyplace you go, every kid you meet has the same genuine passion for fiddle music.

"I can't explain the joy, Mackie says. "I don't think Bill Gates feels any richer inside than I do."
He believes he's still living today because of the kids and the music.

And he doesn't expect any harmonica openings in heaven any time soon.

"I don't think the lord wants me yet, I still got something to do here -- lots more kids out there."

© MMIX, CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Celebrating Beltane...a day late!

As things have been a wild blur of activity around here, I forgot that yesterday, May 1st, was also Beltane- recognized as the height of Spring. We were blessed with rain for much of the morning, and it is believed that this being immersed in the waters of a May Day rain is purifying and imparts a blessing.

I spent a good part of the morning riding a big, sweet redhead of a horse named Harrigan. 'Harry' is a school horse at a local farm that offers the riding class I'm taking part in for credit toward my degree. Harry has a big brand on his left flank, and spent many of his earlier days as a ranch horse. He's moving up in years, and it breaks my heart to think what his ultimate fate will be. I pondered aloud with my husband last night, and told him I'd like to offer to buy Harry when we are able to swing it.
For now, I'd like to think he was blessed by being immersed in the Beltane waters, just as my ancestors, the ancient Celts, believed would offer protection.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Miss Mitzvah { aka Mitzie}

I must add a picture of our resident prima donna kitty, Mitzie.
She is soon to be 8 years old, and was also a rescued kitten.
Mitzie showed up on my Mom's doorstep one morning, very skinny and flea-ridden.
Her real name is Mitzvah, which means good deed. We felt compelled to help her, as we continue to feel compelled to help all animals in need.
She has such a skeptical look on her face, but is truly a sweetheart.
We are taking her back in to the vet next Thursday, as she needs some dental work.
{Maybe that's why she has that look on her face!}

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our rescued babies!

This is a picture of Buddy, our Jack Russell terrier, and a picture of our two rescue kitties, Max and Molly.. They all get along famously and have been known to curl up together on the doggie bed. {Notice the sock on the blanket behind Buddy! This was grabbed from the laundry basket moments beforehand! Bad doggie...bad doggie!}

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Godspeed, Sally

I loved Sally Swift's books and still have my original copy of 'Centered Riding'. Helped me to make my horse's job alot easier.
If you've never heard of Sally Swift or Centered Riding, check it out.
Your horse will thank you, too!

By STEPHEN MILLER of the Wall Street Journal

Adding a new-age spin to an ancient practice, Sally Swift garnered a world-wide audience for sensitive horsemanship with what she called "Centered Riding."
Borrowing from such body-awareness disciplines as the Alexander Technique and tai chi, Centered Riding stresses balance, breathing and visualization to meld rider and horse. "Imagine eyes in your chest that look in the direction of the turn," her book "Centered Riding" urged. She had this advice for nervous riders on ill-at-ease horses: "You can breathe a horse to quietness."
The book and a follow-up, "Centered Riding II," sold more than 800,000 copies in 15 languages according to Centered Riding Inc., a Perkiomenville, Pa., foundation devoted to propagating Ms. Swift's ideas. The technique is taught as a supplement to classical horsemanship at riding centers across the U.S. and in nations as far-flung as Norway and New Zealand.
Ms. Swift's techniques have been compared to Zen or Yoga on horseback, but they stemmed in part from her own awareness of body mechanics owing to a childhood condition, scoliosis. Therapy included a back brace, but also exercises that stressed body awareness.
"I was very fortunate because people in my circumstances were often put into full-body casts or had spinal fusions or other unpleasant experiences," she wrote in "Centered Riding." She added, "I was given the freedom of many years of enormous happiness on a horse."
The daughter of a hydrological engineer, Ms. Swift grew up outside Boston and had already been on horseback for several years when she was diagnosed with spinal curvature at age 8. Therapy "encouraged my riding, because it used both sides of my body equally," she told Horse & Rider magazine in 2000.
Worried that too much sitting would aggravate her condition, she postponed college and became a riding instructor. "Even the best riders and instructors, with their innate coordination, were not teaching people how to handle their bodies. They were teaching them only what to do," Ms. Swift wrote.
Several decades later, after a career in the dairy industry, she retired and went back to riding, but her back had deteriorated. "I was standing tipped to the side and was frequently in pain." A new round of therapy including the Alexander Technique and tai chi set her on course to developing Centered Riding. She said she later found that Eastern techniques had already been applied to other activities, including skiing. In recent years, "centered" approaches have emerged in driving and singing, says Denise McCluggage, author of "The Centered Skier
She continued to instruct into her 90s using body-awareness disciplines.
Adds Susan Harris, an equestrian author and former apprentice of Ms. Swift, "Now I see riding instructors using breathing control as a matter of course. Horses are much more sensitive than people realize, because they are prey animals."
Ms. Swift continued to instruct riders into her 90s at Southmowing Stables in Guilford, Vt. She said in the Horse & Rider interview that two things could bring tears to her eyes: a beautiful performance on a horse and a brass marching band.
In 2006, she was inducted into the U.S. Dressage Federation's hall of fame, which called her "a quiet ambassador for a more harmonious connection between horse and rider."
She died April 2 at age 95.

A Favorite Saying

"The grace of God is found between the saddle and the ground"
-Old Irish Saying

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm So Blessed

I came across this very cool little article that makes so much sense I wanted to share it.
I knew the first moment I saw the man who would become my best friend,husband, and biggest supporter, that this was a person of infinite character, depth, and love. I feel so fortunate to have him in my life. Although there may be a point or two we could work on, we have instinctively followed this advice for years.
May you be blessed with a genuine soulmate- someone who truly loves and believes in you, no matter what. Someone who celebrates and supports you just the way you are, and always has your best interests at heart.

10 Signs Of A Healthy Relationship
By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

"My parents had a very good relationship," I often hear my clients say.

"What do you mean by good?" I ask.

"They didn't fight. They spent a lot of time with each other."

That may have been the definition of a good relationship years ago, but now most people want more. Following are ten signs of a healthy relationship.


Is kindness more important to each of you than having your way, being in control, or being right? Do you each receive joy out of being kind to each other? Being kind rather than controlling with each other is essential for a healthy relationship.


Do you and your partner well up with warmth and fullness of heart for each other and express it with affection? Are you each able to see the beautiful essence within each other, rather than just the faults? Are you able to get beyond the
outer to the unique inner Self of each other? Do you enjoy sharing affection? Warmth and affection are vital for a healthy relationship.


Can the two of you laugh and play together? Do you appreciate and enjoy each other's sense of humor? In the midst of difficulties, can you help each other to lighten up with humor? Can you let down and be playful with each other, letting
yourselves be like kids together? Laughter and fun play a huge role in a healthy relationship.


Are you both each other's favorite person to spend time with? Are you motivated to set aside time just to be together? Do both of you have friends and interests that you enjoy doing? Are both of you fine when you are not together?

Some couples spend a lot of time together because they really enjoy it, while others spend a lot of time together out of fear of being alone. It is important for a healthy relationship for each person to have friends and interests, so that they are not dependent on each other. Dependency is not healthy in a relationship, particularly emotional dependency.


All relationships have some conflict. It is not the conflict
that is the issue, but how you deal with it. Do you have a
method for resolving conflict, or do the issues just keep
getting swept aside? If fighting is part of how you deal with
conflict, do you fight fair, or are you hurtful when you fight?


If one or both of you get angry, do you hang on to it, punishing your partner with it, or can you easily let it go? In healthy relationships, both partners are able to quickly move on, back into kindness and affection.


Do you each trust that the love is solid, even in very difficult times between you? Do you each know that you can mess up, fail, disappoint the other, emotionally hurt the other – and the love will still be there? Do you each know that the love is
about who you are, not what you do? This level of trust is essential for a healthy relationship.


Do you each feel heard, understood and accepted? Can you share your secrets with your partner without fearing being judged? Are you each more interested in learning about yourselves and each other than you are in controlling each other? Is listening to each other with an open heart and a desire to understand more
important than judging each other or defending yourselves?


Is your sexual relationship warm and caring? Can you be sexually spontaneous? Can you talk with each other about what brings pleasure to each of you?


Do you each feel free to be all that you are? Do you each feel supported in pursuing what brings you joy? Does your partner feel joy for your joy?

While some people may naturally be open, kind, affectionate, accepting, and emotionally responsible for themselves, most people need to heal the fears and false beliefs they learned in their families. Healthy relationships evolve as each person evolves in his or her ability to be loving to themselves and each other.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Ponderable Thought

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems”
- Mahatma Gandhi

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Friday, March 27, 2009

a beautiful e.e.cummings poem

when god lets my body be

by e.e. cummings (1894-1962)


From each brave eye shall sprout a tree
fruit that dangles therefrom

the purpled world will dance upon
Between my lips which did sing

a rose shall beget the spring
that maidens whom passion wastes

will lay between their little breasts
My strong fingers beneath the snow

Into strenuous birds shall go
my love walking in the grass

their wings will touch with her face
and all the while shall my heart be

With the bulge and nuzzle of the sea

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We've Lost Another Great One


America's Horse, March 12, 2009 -- Editor’s Note: The name Ray Hunt is legendary. He took the mantle of natural horsemanship from the Dorrance brothers and spread it to a larger audience. He, in fact, was the first traveling clinician, taking his teaching methods on the road more than 30 years ago and continuing to teach through 2009 when he had a spring workshop scheduled at his Texas ranch. Today, however, we mourn the loss of a legend. Ray Hunt, in his late 70s, passed away March 12.

The best way to describe Hunt is to let his words speak for themselves. What follows is an excerpt of a story published in the May 2002 American Quarter Horse Racing Journal:

Ray Hunt has shared his equine philosophy and techniques around the world. In 2002, he presented a two-day clinic at New Mexico’s Sunland Park Racetrack and Frontera Training Center, focusing on gate-training young horses and correcting problem behavior in older runners. But whether it deals with racehorses or ranch horses, the advice was vintage Hunt.

“We’ve got to look at things a little more from the horse’s point of view,” Hunt said. “We’ve got to try to help him to learn to reach our goals.”

Hunt worked with – instead of against – the horse’s natural sensitivities to pressure. He often pointed out that a horse can feel a single fly land on its body - so whips and chains aren’t necessary. He urged people to combine their knowledge and understanding of horses to create situations that increase the likelihood of the desired results.

“Make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy,” Hunt said.

Before a horse is even asked to enter the starting gate, Hunt established boundaries with the animal. While facing the horse, he applied slight pressure with the lead rope (enough to take out the slack) to encourage the horse to step forward. Hunt wasn’t talking about walking off – he was looking for the slightest clue that the horse was willing to move its foot. As soon as the horse shifted its body weight, Hunt released the pressure.

“Think about controlling the feet and shifting the weight,” he said. “If you get the horse to move his weight, he has got to shift his feet, but I bet he doesn’t move his feet first. He shifts his weight, then moves his feet. He prepares his position, and then there’s a transition. Don’t try to get the horse to go without getting it ready.”

If the horse stepped as Hunt wanted, he was rewarded with a rub on the forehead. If the horse didn’t step forward, the pressure was applied again, but never in a tug-of-war fashion. This wasn’t a contest.

“The horse doesn’t know what a contest is – what win or lose is – but the human does,” Hunt explained. “The first thing you know, you’ve got the horse contesting you – and don’t be surprised if he’s the winner. The horse doesn’t have any pride or ego – the two things that really get in a human’s way.”

If the horse stepped back, Hunt stepped back also, keeping the pressure steady but not increasing it. Hunt wanted to make the wrong thing difficult, not necessarily impossible. He stressed that the horse had a choice – he could do the right thing the easy way or do the wrong thing and face difficult consequences. In this case, the easy option was for the horse to simply take a step forward. But if he stepped back, Hunt went with him – if Hunt had stood his ground, when the horse hit the end of the line, the man would probably have had a fight on his hands.

To get a horse in a starting gate – or to do anything else – he has to be prepared, to be ready to do it. The horse’s body gives all the clues to his readiness. Hunt compared the unprepared horse to a steel rod. Tense muscles, wide eyes and planted feet are signs of excitement that show the horse needs more time to relax.

Most horses that are not ready to accept the gate will walk up to the open stall, stop and shift their hindquarters out of line, making a smooth entrance into the gate impossible.

Hunt suggested supporting the horse by twirling the end of the lead rope near or even tapping the horse’s hip to get the horse to line up. Then back the horse and approach the gate again to gauge the horse’s willingness. Don’t be surprised if you have to do this several times. As Hunt said, “It’ll probably take more than once but less than a million times.”

Other pearls of wisdom from Hunt:

“Notice the smallest changes and the slightest tries.”
“You direct the life in the horse’s body through the legs to the feet to the mind.”
“Slow down so you can hurry up. In the end, it’s a good way. Speed ahead of accuracy is no good.”
“You think you’ve got to hold the horse, but you don’t have to,” Hunt said. “You’ve got to have a feel – a feel following a feel, not pressure against pressure. That’s what happens in the starting gate, pressure against pressure. We don’t really think about it in that manner, but the horse does because he learns what he lives. He learned it the way he lived it.”
“There has to be firmness and discipline. I’m responsible for running the show, and the horse is going to work for me. He’s going to go where I want him, but he’s not a slave. You make him want to do it. First thing you know, he’s your partner.”
Hunt compared the human-equine relationship to a dance between a man and a woman: “If I was going to dance with a lady, I wouldn’t just grab her and say ‘We’re going.’ I’d get slapped,” Hunt said. “A lot of people don’t understand that you are trying to get the horse to turn loose in the same way. There’s a place in there where he turns loose and then you give. I feel of him, I feel for him, and we both feel together.”
“I’m trying to get my idea to become the horse’s idea. It’s not like turning a dial that is going to work today. It’s what led up to today that you need to change. It’s the little things that make the difference.”
"Keep in mind what you are working toward,” Hunt said. “You might not get him in (the starting gate) today, but when you feel he tries – which is a plus toward that – you can put him away. Quit on pluses, don’t quit on minuses. That’s negative; always quit on positives. He will never forget it. Build on positive things. When he finally wants to do things for you, that’s building confidence in him. By doing too much, you can take that confidence out. You’ve got to work from the horse’s point of view.”
-- Excerpted from “Hunting for Help” by Jennifer K. Hancock in the May and June 2002 issues of The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal.

A Day To Honor Our Forebears

May you all have a wonderful Saint Patrick's Day!
May you also take a moment to reflect upon the lives of your ancestors, who most likely came to these shores without the proverbial two cents to rub together, and who perserved through hardships unlike anything we have ever known. Whether they were Irish or not does not matter. Just hold them in your hearts for a time, and send out a little prayer of thanks for all that they did to help themselves, and ultimately you, to have a better life.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Earliest domesticated horses dated 5,500 years ago!

WASHINGTON – People and horses have trekked together through at least 5,500 years of history, according to an international team of researchers reporting in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

New evidence, corralled in Kazakhstan, indicates the Botai culture used horses as beasts of burden — and as a source of meat and milk — about 1,000 years earlier than had been widely believed, according to the team led by Alan Outram of England's University of Exeter.

"This is significant because it changes our understanding of how these early societies developed," Outram said.

Domestication of the horse was an immense breakthrough — bringing advancements in communications, transportation, farming and warfare.

The research also shows the development of animal domestication and a fully pastoral economy may well be independent of famous centers of domestication, such as the Near East and China, Outram added.

Compared to dogs, domesticated as much as 15,000 years ago, and such food animals as sheep, goats and pigs, horses are relatively late arrivals in the human relationship.

"It is not so much the domestication of the horse that is important, but the invention of horseback riding," commented anthropologist David W. Anthony of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. "When people began to ride, it revolutionized human transport."

"For the first time the Eurasian steppes, formerly a hostile ecological barrier to humans, became a corridor of communication across Eurasia linking China to Europe and the Near East. Riding also forever changed warfare. Boundaries were changed, new trading partners were acquired, new alliances became possible, and resources that had been beyond reach became reachable," observed Anthony, who was not part of Outram's research team.

Some researchers believe this new mobility may have led to the spread of Indo-European languages and many other common aspects of human culture, Outram said.

In addition to carrying people and their goods, horses provided meat and even milk, which some cultures still ferment into a mildly alcoholic beverage.

The date and place of horse domestication has long been subject to research, and the steppes of Central Asia and the Botai Culture have previously been suggested as possibilities.

But the new report adds extensive detail to the tale.

Outram's team developed a troika of evidence for horses being domesticated by the Botai.

• Studies of the jaws of horses from the site show tooth wear similar to that caused by bits in modern horses, an indication of riding. A 1998 paper by Anthony raised the possibility of such findings, but the new report is much more extensive and detailed.

• The leg bones of the Botai horses are more slender than those of wild horses, indicating breeding for different qualities.

The new way of measuring and analyzing horse leg bones "shows here for the first time that the Botai culture horses were closer in leg conformation to domestic horses than to wild horses. That is another first," Anthony said.

• And complex studies of ancient ceramic pots from the location showed evidence they once contained mare's milk.

"This is, apart from being fascinating, something of a smoking gun for domestication — would you milk a wild horse?" said Outram.

Anthony agreed: "If you're milking horses, they are not wild!"

"The invention of a method to identify the fat residues left by horse milk in ceramic pots is a spectacular and brilliant advance," he said of Outram's paper. "It is really important to be able to identify the fats in the clay pots as not just from horse tissue, but precisely from horse milk."

Still today mares are milked in Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

"The Kazakhs ferment it into a sour tasting and slightly alcoholic drink called Koumiss. It is clear that dated back at least hundreds of years, but beyond that no one knew. Who would have thought it was a practice that went back 5,500 years, at least," Outram said.

The new research was funded by Britain's Natural Environment Research Council, the British Academy and the U.S. National Science Foundation.


On the Net:


And now for something completely different...

Here's a link to a very interesting article about a key difference between female and male brains and their response to stressors, such as starvation.
{I'm a science nerd and I make no apologies, hee hee!}

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ancient Horse of the Vikings

Today, I wanted to share with you a bit about a breed that is very close to my heart-the Norwegian Fjord Horse, naturally!
In my upcoming blog posts, I hope to share more pictures and stories of my own personal Fjord adventures as my husband and I continue working with and training our young Fjord gelding.

{Fjord photo montage from NFHR website, featuring the lovely horses of members}

But for now, I would like to reprint this as per the Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry's gorgeous website:

"The Norwegian Fjord Horse is one of the world's oldest and purest breeds. It is believed that the original Fjord Horse migrated to Norway and was domesticated over 4,000 years ago. Herds of wild Fjord Horses existed in Norway after the last ice age. Archaeological excavations at Viking burial sites indicate that the Fjord Horse has been selectively bred for at least 2,000 years.

The charming, gentle disposition of the Fjord Horse is its most outstanding quality. They are hardy, long lived, agile, sure-footed, and willing. They love attention, are "people oriented", and are happiest when they are working. They learn fast and have an amazing ability to retain what they have learned even after long periods of inactivity. Their cool temperament and graceful, balanced gaits both under saddle and in harness, make them the ideal family horse. They are used for schooling horses for the young or inexperienced rider, yet are large and powerful enough for adults to ride and enjoy.

One of their unique characteristics is that approximately 90% of all Fjord Horses are brown dun in color. The other 10% are either red dun, gray, white or "uls" dun, or yellow dun. The Fjord Horse retains the "wild" dun color of the original horse as well as the primitive markings which include zebra stripes on the legs and a dorsal stripe that runs from the forelock down the neck and back and into the tail. Dark stripes may also be seen over the withers. Red duns have reddish-brown stripes and body markings. Gray duns have black or very dark gray stripes and markings. The white or "uls" dun is a very light body color with black or gray stripe and markings. The yellow dun have a darker yellow stripe and markings, they may have a completely white forelock, mane and tail. The yellow dun is a very rare color in the breed.

Another unique characteristic of the Fjord Horse is the mane. The center hair of the mane is dark (usually black) while the outer hair is white. The mane is cut short so it will stand erect. It is trimmed in a characteristic crescent shape to emphasize the graceful curve of the neck The white outer hair is then trimmed slightly shorter than the dark inner hair to display the dramatic dark stripe.

The head and neck should present an appearance of elegance without coarseness. The head is medium sized and well defined with a broad, flat forehead and a straight or slightly dished face. The eyes are large. Ears are small and alert. The neck of the Fjord is well muscled and crested. The body is short coupled with good depth, large heart girth, and well developed muscles. The legs are powerful, with substantial bone and excellent feet which are black in color. Fjords generally range in size from 13.2 to 14.2 Hands and weigh between 900 and 1200 pounds at maturity, with a few individuals ranging outside these measurements."

Please visit the Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry website at:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tea and Inspiration

As I sit here enjoying my favorite cuppa, Devonshire English Breakfast Tea, I've noticed a snippet of inspiration to be found on the side of the box.
It reads:
"Far away there, in the sunshine, are my highest aspirations. I cannot reach them; but I can look up, and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead...."
-Louisa May Alcott

Thank you, Celestial Seasonings!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

President Obama's Address to Congress

"...and if we do – if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, "something worthy to be remembered." Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America."
-President Obama's Address to Congress 2-24-09

A link to the complete text:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Dreams Are Our Greatest Allies

*a south shore beach on Long Island, my home

“Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
-Langston Hughes

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Me and My Boys!

I had to post this picture of me and my favorite fuzzy boys!
My sister Heather got the shot with my new Nikon that Ian gave me for my birthday.{Thank you, Ian, you are THE best hubby a girl could want!}
I love these goofy ponies and feel so good when I get time to hang with them.
I can't wait for Spring!!!
{Please pardon Sam's feet for I desperately need to trim them! It's on my list.}

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Love This Quote

New Mexico twilight

"You have striven so hard, and so long, to compel life. Can't you now slowly change, and let life slowly drift into you... let the invisible life steal into you and slowly possess you." D.H. Lawrence

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'll be back...

To those of you who read my blog, I do apologize for lack of new posts. I have been so busy, I don't even know where to begin. Between school, home, extended family, and raising a teenager, I'm so overwhelmed I want to cry!
But, rest assured, I will add something soon. And know that I would much rather use my limited amounts of time to catch up on your life's adventures than to post on my own!
So, you guys-please keep up the good work. Your blogs are an inspiration to me to keep my chin up and carry on! Whether it's Laughing Orca's tenacity, Fantastyk Voyage's courage, Pablo Neruda's World's soul, Hill Shepherd's amazing sense of history, Shaggy Shack's humor,or any other of the blogs I read but did not mention- you all add bright spots to my day, and I thank you sincerely!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Spirit Horse Guide

*wild Fjord horses on a nature preserve in Holland

In me, there is an ancient and wild spirit horse, driving me forward, guiding me. She urges me on, to explore my world, never stopping for too long or allowing me to become too comfortable. The spirit horse is wise, and she knows what is significant in this fragile and transient lifetime.
The spirit journey is the most important, yet often widely overlooked, part of our lives.
To let go of the material trappings of this existence, and live truly and fully in one's own heart and mind, can be a frightening prospect for many. Yet, no other journey will take us to the richest, fullest versions of ourselves.

Who is guiding you? Do you know where you are heading, what role you were meant to fill in your brief time here on Earth? What voice is speaking to you from deep within your heart and soul? What is it that you are meant to do? What gifts are you meant to share with the Universe around you?