Finger snapping, leg slapping, foot tapping Texan girl who works with numbers. I like blank pages, the written word and horses. This is my attempt to amuse you via books, food, travel and the assorted spice rack of life.
The leaves here have really started to change and fall is much more of a legitimate season here. Apparently the city is on the receiving end of a hurricane today but to me, it looks like normal drizzly and cold London weather. Just the quick usual, jet-lagged pop-in and pop-out and as ill prepared as last time, without proper clothing or rain gear. I swear, I won't forget my wellies next time.
You can tell how serious Jesse is about horses by the shoes that he wears. For his tenth birthday earlier this year, he asked for a pair of cowboy boots. Don't tell him I said this but they are the cutest things I've seen, a mature burgundy pair but teeny tiny on his still child-sized feet. For the rainy fall weather, Jesse's been rocking some duck shoes, waterproof to the ankle and ultra practical. When all the cool kids at school are wearing the newest flashy Nikes or tweed Toms, Jesse has on his mud and muck covered-sh*tkickers. During the summer, when school wasn't in session and when he wasn't at his mom's house, Jesse was at the barn almost every day, helping out his dad. You see, Jesse's dad is a stable-hand and he is his dad's shadow. We'd chat in the evenings after I would show up to ride Ryon. He would always ask me in his own serious way, "So how was your day? How is your family doing?" Which would always make me giggle because 10-year olds aren't supposed to know how to make small talk. Jesse would fill me in on the shenanigans that Ryon had pulled during the day, all the while patting his nose and feeding him hay. "He was fighting with Bo today. And he moves around a lot but not outside," he would explain gravely and I would nod and chastise Ryon quietly. Jesse would then pop off after a 15 minute chat and show up later a little later in the middle of my ride, watching still and silent from the side, judging Ryon and my performance with his eyes. And when I would leave at night, and at this time we would be in the thick of night and past the point of dusk or evening, Jesse would ask how my ride was and how Ryon behaved, while walking me to my car.
I asked him just once if he liked being at the barn, and he responded, "I like helping my dad. But I really just love horses."
Jesse's been one of the only ones there with me when it was snowing and blowing outside and also when I would sneak in on Saturday nights to check in on the boys. This fall, because of soccer practice and school, I've seen him less and typically only on the weekends. However, his cheery attitude and gentle, yet firm, treatment of these massively majestic animals still inspires me on a daily basis and I would have no problem being known as Jesse's girl.
Last week, we celebrated Ryon’s 9th birthday, which is around 32 years old in human years. I baked a carrot cake with cream cheese icing, he blew out the candles, and then we jumped straight into a rousing game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Which didn’t really happen. In reality, we took a birthday trail ride and had a heated argument on the trail about a manhole cover, which I ended up winning because… well, I’m the boss and also the one wearing a pair of spurs. Later, I poured a birthday beer into his dinner (if you’re on IG, you saw this happen) and we called it an early night. Even though he loves people, Ryon’s a bit of a wallflower in a crowd and not really a fan of getting up in the club or turning down for what, etc etc. Maybe next year he’ll feel a little braver and we’ll go to a country western bar and do some line dancing.
As the weather turns chilly, Ryon’s on the cusp of getting his fuzzy winter coat back; several of the horses already have theirs and look like woolen teddy bears. Soon enough I’ll have to break out his big green blanket and his spandex tank top that he wears underneath (he hates that spandex thing). I also ordered a lovely exercise rug for us to huddle under in the arena on those particularly cold days. I’m sure he’ll love it flapping on his backside in the wind but better than a brisk breeze up the shorts. I can’t believe he’s been with me for nine months already and that we’re about to come full circle with this boy. The progress he’s made is pretty darn amazing, even though at times it seems like two steps forward one step back, and the number of compliments lavished upon him are neverending. The most oft repeated phrase I hear coming out of my mouth is “Good boy Ryon, good boy.”
Bikinis in fall: Last week, on a particularly bright and hot afternoon, there was a bikini photo shoot outside my office window. Not to confuse anyone, my office overlooks the high-rise apartment complex next door and is eye level with its two infinity pools. The model, well, she might as well not have been wearing anything, such was the coverage of her swimsuits. If we were to plot visitors to my office on a line chart, we would have most definitely seen a spike that day (and the following one, wishful thinking by some young men).
Changing of the seasons: Over the weekend, we had some blustery, cooler weather blow in, along with some rain showers that merited breakout out the over-the-knee knit socks and Hunter rain boots. Although I don’t much look forward to fall, at least it introduces some variety to the days. “No news is good news” is how the saying goes but also makes for a very dull, unexciting and vanilla fall. At least we can look forward to…
Boots!: I have a disease; my boot collection is more expansive than a Southern girl’s has any right to be. Riding boots (real riding boots), combat boots, cowboy boots, rain boots, snow boots, seriously what gives? Maybe it’s some defense mechanism about my feet. Or the hardiness of that particular type of footwear. Or I just don’t like cold toes. I’ve got another pair arriving in the post today. After this, I’m cut off, right?
Pumpkin everything: I might have made up for all of the cooking that I’ve neglected for the past few weekends and pumpkined everything on Saturday. Pumpkin and kale lasagna and pumpkin coffee crumb cake (recipe to come later). Oh and maybe a few pumpkin spice lattes in between. You know what the overwhelming response to that was? MOAR!
My new thing called Pinterest: So I’m about 5,000 years late to the party that is Pinterest. It’s like showing up after the party is in full swing and discovering that everyone’s dance card is full (Clearly this isn’t really still a thing, is it? Dance cards?). I’ve consciously cut myself off from burning more than a few hours on this thing; I need a new internet addiction like I need a new pair of boots. Okay, maybe not the best simile to use.
Manners are underrated: Mini rant - What flipping gives, guys? What happened to good, old-fashioned manners? Please and thank you. Walking a girl to her car. Or calling or texting someone back when you’ve made plans to do something together on a certain day / time on the weekend and letting them know that you’ve changed your mind / canceled / come down with the flu / moved away to Antigua. Grow a fudging pair and if rejection is on the menu, don’t be afraid to serve it up. You all know I hate waiting but you know what I hate more? Waiting for other people to “man up.”
The automatic doors were propped open and the bare minimum amount of lighting outlined the far walls of the store, the most that the store's backup generators would allow. Uncertain about whether or not it was still open for business, a handful of people cautiously wandered in, almost on tiptoe.
Inside, the freezer section was taped off with black and yellow police tape, warnings of "caution" repeating itself. Frozen foods sat in still dark cases, not yet succumbing to the summer heat. In produce, rows of the fruit and vegetables were shrouded with green felt to preserve their cool temperature and protect against pests.
It was not hard to imagine that in another version of the universe, I would be walking around the store with a samurai sword strapped to my back, in addition to the knife slipped inside my boot. My calloused hands would be hefting a baseball bat listening for zombies lurching through the aisles. And instead of the normally bright, gleaming tile, the floor would be slippery with effluvia and grimy with mud and god knows what else.
But no need to get carried away now, there's plenty of time for that later. Back to reality, or this twisted version of normal...
The silence was maybe what was so unnerving, the most unsettling of all. No tinny pop music piped through the speakers. Is there typically music that plays over the loud speakers at Super Target? These things that I've grown accustomed to and take for granted are suddenly very apparent when they're missing. There was a confluence of people in the outdoors / camping section of the store, buying mini generators and batteries. One register was all that backup power would allow and was still able to scan items and process credit card payments. Customers waited patiently in line, women pushing infants in their shopping carts. I overheard a murmur of “how am I going to heat up her milk tonight?”
Right outside, in the rapidly melting dusk, the setting sun was just barely bright enough so that I could pick my way through the parking lot without tripping over a curb or a stray shopping cart. We were, as a city, unprepared for the darkness.
Okay, that's it, let's wrap it up folks because I'm running away to New Zealand stat. I mean, seriously, can you believe the house this week? It's 17 acres that backs up to the Tuki Tuki River and outfitted with a horse barn with three stables, paddocks, and an arena. Which you all know I love with all my might. But it is eclipsed and overshadowed by the home on the property. Just look at the house. Is that light not amazing or what? Clean, simple, and bright is really what my style is all about and they've certainly got it in spades here. This is actually the second house on the property; the original is a fixer upper that has a construction permit. So who's joining me on that back deck with a bottle of local wine to watch the sunset?