A Land Far, Far Away


Last weekend the girls and I deposited a suitcase, a sleeping bag, a pillow, and Cayden, in front of a plywood cabin in somewhere, West Virginia. This marked The Boy’s first foray into the world of sleep-away camp.

Cayden was blase about our departure, waving a hasty goodbye as he joined his bunkmates.

I wasn’t too emotional, but I did feel as though we’d off-loaded him far from home. That’s the thing about West Virginia: invest a few hours behind the wheel and it’s another world. It’s incredibly mountainous and beautiful, but also remote and sparsely populated. And poor.

After we ditched Cayden, we stopped for lunch in a nearby town (and I use “nearby” and “town,” loosely). The restaurant, which also sold mattresses and appliances, was cluttered with random decor — firemen garb, Jesus loves you signs, tractor parts, military placards and framed newspaper clippings of the town’s claim to fame: a disastrous collision between a logging truck and a passenger train last year.

And as I paid our tab, I couldn’t ignore the sign at the candy counter. My first thought:

One-stop shopping for kids.


Then again, there isn’t a library or a movie theater or a Redbox kiosk for miles. When it comes to entertainment, eating chocolate while shooting things is probably the best gig in town.

Fortunately, Cayden’s camp is chocked full of activities like hiking and swimming. Archery is the only weaponry offered on site.

I think.


Onward, Bugsy



A few weeks ago one of our equine residents quietly slipped away.

Not in an end-of-life kind of way. No, Bugsy stepped aboard a horse trailer and moved onward.

Or rather, “backward” — back to his old home. His real home.


Hadley, age 3; Bugsy, 20-something

The kids always thought that Bugsy was our pony, when actually, he was a longterm loan. When the kids outgrew him, or out-paced his capabilities, the plan was to return him to his owner. And the time is right; his owner has a grandchild who’s nearly lead-line ready.

And that’s Bugsy’s area of expertise: lead-line pony; living, breathing teddy bear; babysitter of diaper-clad, horse-crazy toddlers. His talents shouldn’t be wasted or shelved. A little kid should be crawling under his belly or hugging his head off.

So a few weeks ago, Bugsy left as quietly as when he arrived, 3 1/2 years ago.

Hadley was tearful when I announced Bugsy’s impending departure. But she recovered quickly.

She’s moved onward, too.


Horse Show Firsts


This weekend Jazz competed in his first horse show. That alone, was noteworthy.

But my competition in the ring?

My own kid.



This was the first time — in Hadley’s very short career — that she has competed against me. At the same horse show. In the exact same classes.

And maybe you’re wondering: how’s that fair? A 40-something going head-to-head against a kindergartner?

Well, this was a lightly-attended local show, and our division offered minuscule, unimposing jumps intended for green horses and riders. Hadley was paired with a veteran pony who’s only a few years younger than I am. And I was the veteran to Jazz, who’s just a year behind Had. It was a level playing field.

And I figured that Hadley would suceed, since I was piloting the wildcard — the Thoroughbred who might suffer a racetrack flashback and be overcome with post-parade jitters. Fortunately, Jazz quelled his nerves and held it together.

Martin came to help and watch, as did Brynn. She perched rail-side and cupped her hands around her mouth, shouting words of encouragement while the class was quietly underway.


It was nice to receive such enthusiastic and audible coaching, especially when we faced obstacles that barely constituted “jumps.”


Whoa, that’s a big one…


In the end, Hadley beat me in one class, which was way cool. It was her first blue ribbon.



Perhaps it was a sign of things to come — Hadley succeeding me in the showring.


And if not Hadley there’s always that other one, coming up from the minors…