Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: June, 2013

Flying Babies

Another Fang story from back in the day:

We’d just finished a run to the market and were getting ready to get in the car. In the next lane over, we saw a woman who’d also finished shopping. She put the baby, in a car-seat-carry-basket, on the roof of the car, loaded her groceries in the trunk, and took off. With the baby still on the roof of the car.

I have never seen a human being move as fast as Fang did that day. Yes, he ran marathons in his spare time (when he wasn’t taking 500-mile bike rides), but this was fast. He held out his arms and caught the carrier as it slid off the roof. The woman driving saw this out of her rear-view and about wrecked the car in her panic. It took us ten minutes to calm her down.

He might be my ex, for good (and personal) reasons, but he did have his good points.

Drop Everything

This is one for the record books. 2012 film, just now available on Netflix. Absolutely worth dropping everything on your Netflix queue to see NOW! Film is “Quartet”, with Maggie Smith and Billy Connelley in bravura roles. Plot centers on a retirement home for musicians and singers, and the residents do an annual fund-raising gala to maintain the (incredible – I would love to live there) property. The story is sweet, the music is glorious and all I can say is, oh wow! Highly recommended. In fact, I’m going to buy a copy to keep forever. It’s Verdi and it’s spine-tingly!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Because every day is Mother’s Day and my brother has just started following my blog, thought I’d run this again. Humor me.

Us 70

And Dr. Spock (not Mr. Spock, Doctor Spock) said raising kids would be easy.

More Helmets

This one’s a bit more amusing, but still in keeping with International Helmet Awareness Day/Week/Year.

Many, many years ago, in the dawn of the world, Fang, my ex, was a professional biker. Bicyclist. Not motorcycles. His idea of a lovely vacation was to bike a circuit – DC to Jacksonville (FL) to New Orleans (LA) to Chicago (IL) and back to DC. On a bike. I never said he was sane. Just entertaining.

Anyway, right before we married, one of the few things I insisted on was that he must always – without exception – wear a helmet when he rode. The threat of consequences for non-compliance was private, but effective. Read Lysistrata.

So, he takes off on one of these rides and calls me (as usual) in the evening. He wanted to thank me for making him wear a helmet. Apparently, he’d taken a detour south since he’d never been to the Everglades and wanted to tour where a man can hide and never be found and have no fear of the bayin’ hound … So, just before dark, he biked around a sharp curve and collided with a log in the road. Went head over heels (not his words), landed (fortunately) on the helmet, got up, picked up his bike, and discovered that it wasn’t a log. The gator that had been sunning itself on that little-traveled bit of road was as shocked as he had been (for a moment), which was just enough time for Fang to get back on his bike and haul ____ out of the area.

Every ride, every time.


22 June is International Helmet Awareness Day. Every day should be international helmet awareness day, whether you are riding a horse, a bicycle or a motorcycle. Every ride, every time.

The worst accident I’ve ever had to pick up after happened to my best friend during our wonderful pony trek through the Connemara country of Ireland. She was riding a proven field hunter (he hunted winters with the Galway Blazers, and if anyone ever tells you that foxhunting in Ireland is a sport for the insane, believe them) and we were 500 yards from the end of a 25-mile point-to-point ride.

This lovely, sure-footed and clever horse slipped on the road – at a loose-rein walk – and went down. He scrambled back up, unhurt. Not so my friend. Her head had whiplashed onto the road in the course of the fall, and she didn’t move. She was, fortunately, wearing a state-of-the-art, high-tech helmet which I’d talked her into buying earlier that week. She was unconscious for almost two days. The doctor at the emergency room, after examining her brand-new helmet which had bloodstains on the INSIDE and was split down the side, said that she was very, very lucky that she’d been wearing the helmet. If she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have needed the ambulance – only a shovel.

That fall was almost 25 years ago and she still has lingering, vestigial problems that derive directly from that injury. Take my advice: every ride, every horse/bike/motorcycle; every time.

Chuckle for the Day

This happened some years ago, but my friends at the UPS depot in Lexington still giggle about it. Thought you’d enjoy if you haven’t seen it before, and even if you have. Only an active horseperson will understand.

The note on the farmhouse door (just outside of Lexington, KY) read: “UPS deliveryman, if no-one’s home please leave semen on front doorstep”.

Musings on Trust

Way back when, when I rode professionally, I learned a deep, deep lesson about trust, even though it didn’t really register until recently.

I had been assigned a reclaim project. Bird could out-jump anything in the state (when he wanted to) but at one point in his life, he’d been badly frightened. If anyone stood by a jump as he approached it, he’d stop, rear and go over backwards. Although I never knew for sure, I’m pretty sure that a tack-pole figured largely in this, since those were the days when touch-and-out classes still ran.

Anyway, Jimmy Cantwell (may he rest in peace) came up to do a clinic, and Bird put on one of his displays. After the second time he’d gone over on me, the owner sent her star rider (and this girl really was an outstanding rider) back to the barn for chaps and a helmet, but Jimmy talked me through the whole business and made me ride it out. (The horse eventually settled to the point where we could, in fact, show him.) This gave me a great deal of faith in Jimmy. Which led to:

Several years later, I was riding for him in a clinic on a horse I’d never seen, much less ridden, before. Now, I’m not the bravest person in the world when it comes to strange horses, even though I’d catch-ridden most of my life. I tended to take a conservative approach until I knew the horse. In this clinic, Jimmy warmed us up, then took away our stirrups. He then put up a course (I went back later to measure it because I didn’t believe it) that started at 3’6″ and grew from there. And he sent us over this one without stirrups. And we did it successfully. Granted the horse I was on was a very nice horse, but still …

I realized much later that this was real trust. Jimmy knew me, and told me to do it. He knew I could do it, and therefore I never questioned whether I could because Jimmy said I could and therefore I could. And did. I call that trust. Some people might call it insanity, naivete or just plain nuts, but it reads to me like trust.

What do you think?

More Music

Check out this one on YouTube. Lots of choices. The song is Over and Over, another traditional piece, and the singer is Nana Mouskouri. Lovely, lovely love song and terrific Viennese Waltz for dance purposes. There is only one problem.

A friend of mine, Russian and Jewish of origin, pointed out that the original melody is a Yiddish folk song with less than complimentary comments on “love songs”. Check that out at Tumbalalaika. Music’s the same, lyrics and sense are NOT!

Someday, I’m going to take up a study of the evolution of music, starting with the music for the Star Spangled Banner (a really revolting drinking song of the 1600s).

Are You Nuts?

Back a while, I ranted on the subject of lyrics of popular songs. Slightly different take this time – do people actually listen to the lyrics anymore? Take this for example:

Engaged couple come into the studio to take lessons for their wedding dance. So far, so good. It’s to be a waltz. Also so far, so good. Lovely tune. Ditto. The song? Plaisirs d’Amour, which is a baroque-era art song, with Beverly Sills (diva extraordinaire, may she rest in peace) doing the vocals. Spectacular piece, one of my all-time favorites and right on top of my playlist. Still so far, so good; lovely music, lovely waltz, and I’ve danced to it at several competitions.

HOWEVER, they haven’t taken the trouble to listen to (or in this case translate) the lyrics. The French lyrics translate to: “pleasures of love last a moment, the regrets of love last a lifetime”. Do you want this for your wedding song?????????

Big Screen

Recently, I’ve taken to waiting until the films I want to see are available on Netflix, rather than going to the theatre. Several reasons: first, movies these days are hideously expensive, as are popcorn and sodas. Second, I like to go to movies with company (last one I saw by myself was Return of the Jedi in 1983, which tells you something, doesn’t it!). Third, why trek all that distance when I can watch at home?

On the other hand, there are some movies that really should be seen on a big screen. 2001 A Space Odyssey lost a lot on my set. Granted, I saw 2001 in ’67 (or ’68, whenever) when it first came out, in a bit of a haze. I had no clue what it was about then. I saw it again, stone cold sober, about a year ago, and it STILL made no sense. I digress.

This is one film that should never, never been seen on a small tv. 100″ home theatre system maybe, but otherwise, wait til it comes back to a nice repertory theatre. If you don’t recognize the clip, let me know.

ben hur still chariot race