But now it seems I'm in the habit of writing and I was more interested to turn the computer on than boil eggs for breakfast. Writing before food…..hmmmm…there seems to be a definite shifting of my interests. I’m really enjoying these sessions with the keyboard, flexing my mental muscles, and watchingg words grow on the screen. If I’m not writing I’m thinking about things to write about. I worried at first that I would run out of things to say but everyday provides inspiration and if there’s ever a slack, I can fill it with a bit of ranting. If I didn’t rant occasionally, I’d explode!
I don’t know if it’s the onset of spring and the change it represents, but I’ve been very nostalgic lately. Maybe it’s the result of rummaging through old photographs again this morning and that one I posted a few days ago of me with my first guitar. Maybe it was all that talk about the building we renovated and thinking about that first kiss. Or maybe it’s because I found a couple of old friends on Facebook, from my old neighbourhood, but whatever the reason I’ve been digging around in my memories, unearthing more of the special people from the past.
When I think back to school days, two girls stand out. One was Debra Spidle and the other was Cheryl Benedict. There was a boy named George I had a secret, ginormous crush on but that’s one that doesn’t need revisiting and I’m sure he and his wife would appreciate being left alone.
I've known Debra since grade primary and had her up on a pedestal for her artistic talents. I'm sure she wasn't aware but I studied the way she drew. Her talent was so natural and if the teacher called her to the board to draw a tree, it came out the piece of chalk so fluidedly and with such character that my jaw would drop. (That might be the reason for my big chin, taking all those beatings on the desk!) Then I would memorize and practice drawing her tree until I could do it too. I learned to hone my drawing skill through mimicking her. Deb didn't realize she was blazing my trail but she was instrumental in expanding my drawing ability.
Deb being such a gifted artist it was only natural for her to become a graphic designer with a successful business before gallivanting off, or maybe that would be galloping off, for love and horses in Colorado. I see her every now and then when she visits Mahone Bay and she hasn't changed a bit, still the same smile, and soft spoken charm.
But, I haven’t heard of Cheryl for many years. We were pretty tight for a bit, playing guitar and writing songs. We played detectives and conjuered up mysteries to solve, it was always fun hanging out and stretching our imaginations to new heights. I seriously don’t remember the last time we spoke or if she moved away…I just know the friendship fizzled out. There are patches of my memory that have been lost so things are a bit confusing. I left school in Grade 10 to marry (that’s a whole other story) and lost touch with all my peers. I don’t know what I expect from exploring the past, so I'll just have to wait and see what shakes out.
Lately, I’ve been doing a bit of catchup with Deb on FB. From her home in Greeley, Colorado she is living the dream on a ranch with beautiful curly haired horses, a daughter and husband. A life with horses used to be one of my dreams as well, and I spent most of my youth begging for one but had to settle for drawing them instead. My mother was wise, she saw the lack of care I gave the cat, an indication that a horse would have been a tangled mess and a bag of bones and one more thing for her to attend too so, paper ones stood a better chance of survival. There was a boy in school that would pay five cents or a dime for my equestrian artwork. I found out much later he had a crush on me; the reason he so readily handed over his canteen money.
As an adult I took English riding lessons for five years with various instructors and even prepared a stable's worth of equipment for when I had my own horse. Before we bought the house we are in now, my only question was, does the zoning allow a horse? All I needed was the barn, saddle and of course the animal and we were ready to go. But I ended up injuring my back gardening and that put a bullet through my dreams. A horse needs to be ridden and cared for and is a lifelong commitment. It just didn’t seem fair and it would have been a lot of work just to keep them as lawn ornaments. So my dream shifted and I opted to fill it with the love of dogs. You can’t ride them but they’re easy care and fit in the bed and the car much better.
But if things had been different I know I would have been a natural; there’s something about the smell of a barn that make me feel at home. I so love the combined fragrance of the horse, the barnyard, the hay and even the poop. To me the package was sweet, like perfume, a smell that worked more endorphins that Ralph Lauren’s Polo. When I was a young filly, a little dab of that sweet aroma behind my ears might have attracted me a real honest to goodness cowboy! Yee ha! Like a saddle, it would have been an easy life to slide into, it just wasn’t meant to be.
I'm very happy with the way my life has panned out, with so many blessings and the freedom to pursue the dream of owning and operating a business I'm passionate about. Someone said, if you find something you enjoy doing you will never work a day in your life. And although I am getting older it's not aging that's driving my curiousity of the past. I firmly believe this ole gal is like fine wine…..improving with age. I wouldn’t want to go back and start over for all the tea in china. Besides there are skeletons in my closet that are better left unrattled. Not anything bad, but I could have had a better start in the first quarter. I went to the school of hard knocks but I graduated a better person than if I would have entertained a more idyllic life. Sometimes I think a life education can trump a formal one, opening your eyes and developing a skillset that’s instinctual. I wouldn’t change a thing in my past or rewrite it to smoothen the edges. I am what I am through experience and I think I’m pretty together because of it, not in spite of it.
By nature, my hair is as straight as a board and I guess the perfect little girl had to have curly hair and dimples, the latter of which I had plenty of, some big enough to store a snack in, so it was only the hair that needed altering. Seriously, I wonder if that is why my mother tortured me with perms, trying to Shirley Templize me, to fit some ideal of the perfect girl child. Who knows but I think I recall other classmates getting the occasional frizzy fro, it might have been the thing to do back then but really, there is no acceptable circumstance where your hair should enter the room before you do.
And the smell.......my god it lasted for weeks. A sickening pungent odor, too big for a little girl to live under. The pillowcase reeked and every shampoo reactivated the stench. I'm sure you could smell me before you saw me, like a little blond skunk. Maybe it was a way for mom to keep track of me in the yard.....go to the door and sniff, yup she's somewhere close. It had to be toxic, all those chemicals seeping into my scalp.... it could explain a lot.....
Well, I guess I better get back to some household duties. I’m quickly reaching the state of mismatched socks again. I just might have to go out and buy a few more dozen pairs to extend the time between washings. I don’t seem to have much of a filter, but I promise to draw the line on my lack of clean underwear. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a slave to domestic chores, I do the necessary and save going the extra mile for the things I love. No one will ever identify me with a spotless house on a consistent basis; I do it only when forced too. There are just too many things to do that give me pleasure than having to worry if my house is clean enough to eat off the floor. Actually, you’ve more apt to find something to eat off my floors!
So I think I should warn you. Never come to my home unannounced and expect to get in. If I don’t come to the door it's because I'm hiding upstairs, stifling the dogs and swallowing a lump of humiliation, praying that you don’t press your face up against the window to see the horror I’m wallowing in. I can write about it and have a good laugh, but my pride would kick in and if I let you in, I’d have to kill you.
But, and there’s always a but…when I decide to have people over I rev into the white tornado and clean this place until it sparkles, polishing silver, eradicating the dust bunnies and cobwebs, vacuuming and washing every surface. I’ve even gone so far as to scrub the bottoms of my copper pots so you can see your reflection if the need should arise. I guarantee you’ll leave my home convinced I’m a liar, maybe even nominate me for housekeeper of the year! So be warned….call ahead and give me at least five hours notice before dropping by so we can all keep our dignity.......
Deb writes: Combining my two interests—working with horses and volunteering time with people of special needs—was not something I planned, but, rather, was inspired by the need for a Therapeutic Riding program in Greeley
Their mission statement : Promoting independence through equine assisted activities for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, and social well being of children and adults with disabilities.
I think this is a fantastic program! If you would like to read more, click the link below, and maybe give them a Like on Facebook to help spread the word of this worthy cause.