Sheriff

We said goodbye to Sheriff today.  He seems to have been bitten by a brown recluse more than a month ago.  DeAnna gave him amazing care since then but he had been getting a little worse each day for the last week, so we made the call.  Who’d have thought something as small as a spider could take down something as grand as a horse?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sheriff was our third horse, after Goliath and Levi.  He was nominally my daughter’s horse, but we all road him from time to time.  He was born on May 22, 2001.  He came to our farm on July 2, 2008.  He went on to greener pastures today, July  25,2019.

I’m writing this just a few hours after his suffering ended, and already I am forgetting things….so let me record a few things I want to always want to remember about Sheriff:

Sheriff was the Barbie Dream Horse.  A dual registered Palomino / Quarter Horse with long blond main and tail.

Sheriff’s mane smelled like fresh cut grass, sweat and sunshine.

Sheriff always said hello when he saw someone coming into the barn or even when we drove by and he was in the field.  Sometime a quiet nicker.  Sometimes a loud nicker.  He always said hello.

Sheriff had the softest feet.  Not really, but anytime you would start to ride him, he would tip toe and make it seems like he was walking on hot coals.  Smart horses always seem to have a way of getting out of work, and that was his.

Sheriff had a huge….well….you know.  We got him already as a gelding, but I think the previous owners made that decision a little later than some, so he….developed.

Sheriff was probably the best trained horse we had or have.  He had great gates, could switch on the fly and could push a cart (although we never tried that).

Sheriff looked amazing in Teal.

Thank you Sheriff for just being you and for all the wonderful years you spent with us on our farm.  You were a great follower when Goliath and then Levi lead the heard and took the reigns when they both went on to greener pastures.  Lord knows what will happen know with Ike and Ranger ;-).  Give Goliath and Levi a hearty nicker and a good nip whrn you see them.

With Sheriff properly thanked and honored, I’d like to also document a bit of my internal experience in the last 24 hours.  On one hand this seems a bit repugnent – I’m still here to write this afterall.  But then again, I really only have my own experience to share.

And now there are two: Ike and Ranger.  I will try to enjoy them each day.  I will take the time to be greatful doing barn chores and being with them.  I might even try to saddle one up and go for a ride.  As time passes, I also know that things will fall back into routine and I will start to take them (and lot’s of other things) for granted.

I hate feeling this way.  I don’t have the words to describe it, but I know I don’t like it. Strangely, at the same time, I relish it. I hate that I know it will end and things will go back to “normal”.  I love this break from the normal.  This reminder that each moment is precious.  This opportunity to be greatful for what has been, what will be, but most of all what is right now.  Is it possible to be this way all the time and function?  I can’t see how, but maybe that’s what I need to work on.

I love our farm and the experiences we have had here.  At the same time there are lots of changes – kids becoming adults.  Furry friends passing on.  I’m not rushing into what’s next – but I really want to move on.  I’m trying to be patient and sit in this “in between” space and just try to notice and pay attention.  The second half is going to be amazing…but it seems that I have to watch the halftime show a bit longer.

That’s all for now.  As I’ve been journaling more, this blog has become used less and less.  It might just go away one day.  But I’ll enjoy it and use it as long as it’s here.

Makes me wonder…

What am I doing that is thwarting my own attempts?

Everything you’re trying to reach—by taking the long way round—you could have right now, this moment. If you’d only stop thwarting your own attempts. If you’d only let go of the past, entrust the future to Providence, and guide the present toward reverence and justice.

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

One Small Step: the lost art of conversation

A few months back I was lapsing on my commitment to stay off of social media and scrolling through my Facebook feed (<side note> if Apple really want to give people control over their lives again, they should add a feature to screen time that limits the number of scrolls you can have per day in the bottomless bowl apps like Facebook and Instagram </side note>). I happened to see a promotion of a new initiative from Story Corp called One Small Step. I was familiar with Story Corp from hearing some of the interviews they captured aired on local radio stations, but the One Small Step project was something different.

The usual Story Corp format is to have a couple people that know each other tell a story. They’ve done series on people’s immigration stories, cancer stories, childhood stories, etc. One Small Step was all about getting two people that didn’t know each other and were coming at things from different political viewpoints to sit down with each other tell / listen to each other’s stories.

Needless to say I was all in. This pushed so many buttons for me: the art of the conversation, seeking to understand, expressing yourself clearly, getting your ideas tested by someone, healing polarization, doing something physical / face to face instead of digital, going deep…I could go on for pages.

I clicked the link, filled out the survey (to determine my political leanings) and submitted my application. All from my phone. At dinner….sigh… I tried to answer the questions as truthfully as I could, but I also have a natural resistance to the left – right political paradigm, so I think I ended up describing myself in one of the few open text answers as a “anarchs-syndicalist” (which was intended to be ironic, but which I might actually have some sympathies towards).

I heard back about a month later that I was “accepted” with a quote from my story partner to tell me a little bit about who I would be talking to:

“I’m pretty damn liberal, but with a few areas of more traditionally conservative views (I tend towards pro-life, for example, but not the sign-waving, pray it away types.) I swear a lot. I honestly think a real apology is worth as much as a good public policy and I suck at both. I’m excited to meet you.”

I recorded my interview on Feb 15th at NKU. There was someone there from StoryCorp to run the equipment and to make sure things didn’t go too far off the rails (you can hear him a bit off Mic at the start of the recording below). I was a bit late to arrive (stupid Google Maps!) so didn’t have much chance to talk with my partner before the we started recording.

I was more than a little nervous. Who was this other person? Would we have even close to enough common ground to have a reasonably coherent conversation or would we be talking past each other the whole time? Would I be able to express myself clearly? Were my ideas even worth considering? Would I talk too much…or not enough?

All of that quickly faded away as I simply focused on the person across the table from me with the intention of sharing my experience with them and listening to what their experiences were. I covered things that I had no intention of talking about. We both commented on how this conversation ended up being a bit like therapy ;-). You can listen the conversation in the player below (it will also pop up on my podcast feed in iTunes).

I think you’ll hear that we ended up being far more similar that different. Not sure if that means that StoryCorp needs to find a better test or maybe it just doesn’t account for “off scale” people like me. Or maybe if we had met in cyberspace we would have fought and its just that when people are face to face they take the time to understand each other and have more than 140 characters to respond react.

Overall this was a fantastic experience and has provided more motivation for me to find opportunities for deeper conversations about things that really matter with small groups of people in face to face situations. In other words pretty much the opposite of what we all spend more time doing everyday, staring at screens. One Small Step made me realize that its just as interesting and valuable to do all of that with people I don’t know and/or don’t agree with.

On the dawn of being a parent to adults

On this day 20 and then again 18 years ago, I became a father.  So as of today, officially / legally I am a father of adults, rather than children.  While I expect it might take me a while to stop talking to people about how my “kids” are doing, the fact is that you have both been on the path to adulthood for a long time now.  Looking back, it’s clear to me now that I actually didn’t become an adult fully until your mother and I became responsible for the two of you.  Maybe I’m still not fully an adult?

On this special occasion for all of us, I wanted to take the time to write down what’s on my mind and a few wishes for you as you live the rest of your lives as adults.

First off, try your best to keep the best of your child hood: the curiosity you each meet the world with, your kind nature and most of all your deep friendship with each other.

Next, leave the necessary, but unpleasant aspects of childhood behind: the petty jealously, the need to fit in and go along with the crowd and certainly the lack of self assurance and self esteem.

Being a parent to adults doesn’t end the worries of parenthood.  I worry that I haven’t done enough to prepare you, but then I see how well adjusted you are and that vanishes.  I worry that I will loose my relationship with you, but then I find myself deep in a conversation and know that we’ll always be able to talk with each other.  I worry most of all about what the world will bring you, but then I am calmed by the knowledge of what you will bring to the world.

You are each the greatest achievement of my life and I am thankful to have played a small part in who you are and am more excited than anything to be able to see who you will become.

Missing

We started watching Murder Mountain on Netflix last night. Only a few episodes in, so not sure I’d recommend it yet, but so far so good.

One of the central themes is the large number of missing persons from this one county in California, which also happens to the the same county that supposedly produces 60% of the weed in the US (not sure how this is determined…). As I was watching last night, I started to ponder what it means to me “missing”. It seems to me that it wouldn’t make sense for someone to describe themselves as missing. The closest they might come that would make sense is to describe themselves as hiding, but that’s not the same as missing.

Missing is not a property of a person, but rather of a person’s relationship with other people placed on them by those other people. The only people considered missing are in that category because someone is missing them. Someone else wants to know where they are but doesn’t.

That got me to thinking about how many other labels are applied to us by those we are in relationship with rather than that we choose ourselves. That seems like a long list.

My questions for Story Corp One Small Step

I saw an ad for Story Corps One Small Step program a few months back and filled out an application.  I’ve always enjoyed Story Corps, but the OSS program struck me as important with its focus on building bridges across divides and proving that people with different beliefs can engage in civil dialog and perhaps even learn from each other.

I was selected and my conversation will happen this Friday.  Here is all I know about my interview partner:

I’m pretty damn liberal, but with a few areas of more traditionally conservative views (I tend towards pro-life, for example, but not the sign-waving, pray it away types.) I swear a lot. I honestly think a real apology is worth as much as a good public policy and I suck at both. I’m excited to meet you.

Here are the questions I came up with:

  • Was there a specific event or person in your life that shaped the views you hold today?
  • Have you ever changed a strongly held belief and if so, why?
  • Do you think there is a limit to our ability to understand each other (humanity in general – not us specifically)?
  • Have you noticed how you interact with people change in the last 10 years?  Has that change coincided with social media use at all?
  • Whats the one thing you’ve heard me say today that you wish I would change my mind about and why?
  • What do you hope someone listening will get out of our conversation?

Anything else you can think of to ask to get an interesting conversation going?  I will be looking forward to this all week.

Back to the trail – part 2: White Mountain Adventure

This is podcast 2 in a two part series (part 1 here)on our 2018 section hike of the Appalachian Trail through the White Mountains in New Hampshire.  Kendall and I recount our various adventures and sum up with what we are taking away from this most recent walk in the woods (more mountains than woods…), including:

  • Getting back on the trail after an unplanned day off.
  • Making decisions as a group
  • How luck plays a huge role in your experience
  • How hiking can “force” you into a more meditative frame of mind

We are already planning our next adventure, so if you have any suggestions of sections we should take a look at , drop them in the comments below.

A soggy start to what would be a foreshortened day 5 and a crew that is absent Me and Mason (we had already left for Highlands)

Coming down Mt. Webster…what would end the day early.

Hanging things out to dry in the “emergency” suite at Highlands Center.

Refreshed after a hard day 5 and a night at Highlands center. Ready for a good day 6 on our way to Guyot Tent Site.

We got lucky and were able to wait out a storm in a hut…but the creek didn’t have that luxury so it was raging by the time we got to it to cross.

The view from Guyot after a 3 mile “run” to get to camp before sunset…reminded me of Ireland.

Up and at ’em on the morning of day 7 from Guyot Tent Site.

A quick break on a hard day 7.

Yep, that’s the trail that leads to Garfield Ridge campsite. It just happens to be an active waterfall as well. After this we were expecting the trail to go through an active volcano!

Cooking dinner at Garfield Ridge Tent Site. Last dinner on the trail so emptying the food bag of all dinner stuffs.

It was slow going on the top of Mt. Lafayette with the fog making it hard to see the next trail marker.

As the fog was cleaning when we were between Lafayette and Lincoln, it looked like you were above the clouds.

By the time we approached Little Haystack, everything was clear and you could see for miles.

The feeling that can only be achieved by actually finishing something like an 8 day section hike through the white mountains.