The Dressage Rodeo Lesson

I was a pretty fair rider in my day.  For a while, I had my own horse and spent several years of joyously riding him on the trails and in pleasure and equitation classes.  Unfortunately, my horse tripped in a horse show and I  ended up with a broken collarbone.  I found a new home for my horse and stopped riding for a few years after that, but the horsey bug never left me.  I decided to take dressage riding lessons.  

I found a new dressage instructor at a stable not far from Chicago and arrived for my first lesson.  I helped him saddle the horse and walked him into the riding arena.  I don’t have particularly strong knees and am used to using a mounting block to get on the horse.  This new instructor said “let me give you a leg up.”  My heart stopped.  I was terrified!  I am rather on the large side and the idea of being vaulted in the air and onto the back of a rather tall horse was horrifying!  I asked to please use the mounting block and he said, “no, I’m the instructor, and I will give you a leg up.”  

He gave me a leg up.  I came down on the horse’s back with a heavy plop, surprising the horse, the instructor and myself.  I had no time to put my feet in the stirrups or pick up the reins before the horse bolted away and began bucking around the arena.  Thank goodness, I had learned some very good balance in previous years and was eventually able to pick up the reins, control the horse and stop him from bucking, and get my feet in the stirrups.  I was happily trotting around the arena, horse under control, when I heard a strangled voice say “please bring your horse into the center.”  I did so and immediately noticed that the instructor looked more terrified than I was.  He asked me to dismount and wait a moment.  Soon, he brought out a much smaller horse and led him to the mounting block and I got on.  The lesson proceeded, I enjoyed myself and I think the instructor recovered from that white faced terror.  

The very funny part of this incident was that the stable had scheduled a rodeo in the same arena for that afternoon.  While the first horse was bucking around the arena with me, some of the rodeo cowboys had gotten there early and were watching some of the lessons.  I always wondered what they thought.  Did they think I was some magnificent rider to have stayed on in that little English dressage saddle?  Would I have won a gold buckle that day if I were riding in the

rodeo?  I’ll never know!Image

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Ravens I Have Known

I love crows and ravens! There are a couple of magnificent ravens I have known personally. According to Wikipedia, “because of its black plumage, croaking call, and diet of carrion, the raven has long been considered a bird of ill omen and of interest to creators of myths and legends.” I think he’s gotten a bum rap!

Ravens are exceptionally intelligent. One time I was playing fiddle by myself in a California State Park. A raven was circling overhead and I swear he was trying to sing. Every time I stopped playing for a minute, he chimed in with his croaky raven voice. We made a nice concert, the two of us. I stayed there for hours.

Another special raven I knew once was one who lived at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo in the 1960s. (For Chicagoans who might remember, his cage was close to the big canoe near the Zoo Rookery.) This bird had an eye for a shiny coin and would trade with me for hours. I’d give him a coin (he liked silvery dimes and quarters the best but would show interest in a shiny copper penny– otherwise I’d have gone broke!). He’d examine the coin thoroughly, cocking his head back and forth to see it with one eye at a time. Then he’d hop to the back of his big cage, place the coin in his stash, and then pick out a stick or a stone which he’d offer to me in trade. The shiniest coins would result in the most attractive stick or stone. I wish I had saved them.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a raven in a long time. I miss them.

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The Legacy of Saul Alinsky — Why is Gingrich Afraid?

Several times in his acceptance speech last night, Newt Gingrich compared President Obama to Saul Alinsky.  I had heard Alinsky’s name before but needed to look him up this morning to remember what he was about.

I quote from Wikipedia: “Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972)… championed new ways to organize the poor and powerless that created a backyard revolution in cities across America…. His organizing skills were focused on improving the living conditions of poor communities across North America.

“In the 1950s, he began turning his attention to improving conditions of the African American Ghettos beginning with Chicago’s and later traveling to other ghettos in California, Michigan, New York City, and a dozen other “trouble spots.  His ideas were later adapted by some U.S. college students and other young organizers in the late 1960s and formed part of their strategies for organizing on campus and beyond.”

Alinsky was unaffiliated. ” … philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism.”  He worked as a labor organizer for the C.I.O. before changing his focus to community organizing.  Alinsky was born Jewish, although he considered himself a secular, unaffiliated Jew,  

So what does Gingrich’s comparison of Obama with Alinsky say?  Gingrich is afraid.  He fears African Americans, Jews, other minorities, the poor, the elderly and the disadvantaged. He fears organized labor. He fears the Occupy movement.  He remembers and fears the organization and protests of the 1960s on college campuses and among American youth. He fears WE, THE PEOPLE.  

When members of the Tea party and the Republican party cry “we want to take back our country,” it is out of their fear of Democracy, of rights for all.  It is out of selfishness and unwillingness to share.

I learned about kindness and sharing in kindergarten.  Why have Gingrich, the One Percent, the Tea party and the Republican party forgotten?

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Solution to the Problems Created by Religious Sexuality

I just read a “New York Times Article” entitled “Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/opinion/ultra-orthodox-jews-and-the-modesty-fight)
This article deals with a current problem in Israel between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society “…over women’s place in society, over their very right to have a visible presence and to participate in the public sphere…We are told that they arise from a religious concern about modesty, that women must be covered and sequestered so that men do not have improper sexual thoughts. It seems, then, that a religious tenet that begins with men’s sexual thoughts ends with men controlling women’s bodies.”

If the ultra Orthodox Jewish men had their way, all women would dress like walking tents, just like Muslim women must do. The article states that “This is not a problem unique to Judaism. But the Talmud, the basis for Jewish law, offers a perhaps surprising answer: It places the responsibility for controlling men’s licentious thoughts about women squarely on the men.” The question is, if it’s in the Talmud, why don’t the men know this? Probably for the same reason that the some Conservative Christians pick and choose what is most important to them in the Bible. Actually both groups mostly pay attention to anything directly or indirectly relating to sexual behavior and thoughts.

The super-religious generally think sex education is evil and leads to immorality. My personal belief (and I take total responsibility for what I write here) is that religion, itself, is the source of all evil. The words of the Talmud and the rules therein were written by men throughout the ages. I am certain that the words of the Torah and the Bible were also written by human beings who say this is the word of God in order to be able to control other humans. Their motives may have been to gain power, or to gain wealth. The rules within these books have been translated and re-translated, evaluated and re-evaluated by men for thousands of years. Yet they are believed by many to be the actual word of God that must be obeyed.

So I have written some new non-religious rules. I imagine that the people who most need to hear about them will only be angry with me. But it’s my stab at regaining sanity in this world. I don’t imagine that most people will take me totally seriously, but then again, neither do I.

Lynn’s rules:
#1. Sex education is mandatory for all, beginning at an early age and extending well into adulthood. There will be a mandatory test every year while children are in school, and in their young adult years. After that, it can be less frequently. Older people need to take it periodically to make sure they remember and they don’t make unnecessary rules that younger people must obey.

#2. Every human must understand what psychological projection is. There will be a mandatory test every year to make sure people remember. If they don’t pass, they have to go to jail or stay in the basement.

#2. Every man and boy must be given subscriptions to Playboy and Hustler. They are ordered to fantasize and play with themselves in their rooms several times a day and get it out of their systems so when they go out on the street, they are not so sexed up.

#3. All political candidacy and office must be limited to older women and men with low sex drives. Younger and most older men are ruled by their sex drive, and younger women can’t totally be trusted either because of their nesting urges, high degree of sexuality and need to attract a man.

#4. Get all this Viagra and Cialis stuff off the market. If you can’t get it up, too bad for you. It’s only meant to be for a certain number of years anyway. Women know this.

That’s as far as I have gotten. If anyone has any further ideas, please be sure to share.

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Rules for Beer in the House

I haven’t been drinking much of any alcoholic beverages for many years — only a glass of wine maybe half a dozen times a year or so. My niece let me taste some of her beer last week and I liked it. I went and bought a 6 pack of Goose Island 312 at Binny’s on the way home. (Don’t worry, AA members, I wasn’t an alcoholic when I mostly quit drinking about 40 years ago. I just didn’t like it.)

I drank my first beer last night while watching TV, right out of the bottle. That’s how everybody seems to drink beer and it looks cool. I am 69 years old, but I still want to look cool. I only drank about 1/2 the bottle and then went to bed, leaving the open bottle on the table.

This morning, I was looking for a book, and since I have recently moved to a new apartment and am still only partially unpacked, the books were all still in cartons. My method of unpacking is, when you need something, unpack cartons and look for it. I unpacked all my books.

In the process, I knocked over the half-empty open beer bottle that was on the table. Now my apartment and some of my books smell like beer.

SO…. lessons I learned re beer in the house. 1) Don’t drink beer out of the bottle even though everybody else does it and it looks cool. 2) If you don’t know whether you will finish a bottle in one sitting, pour the beer in a glass, recap the bottle and put it back in the fridge. 3) Drink as much of the glass as you want. 4) If you don’t want the rest, pour the leftover beer down the sink. It is not something you will want to drink tomorrow. 5) Wash the glass. 6) Go to bed.

One wouldn’t think that a person of age 69 would need to learn these rules, but there you have it.

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The Birdie in the Sink

I am just settling my breathing down to normal. A bird got in our laundry room, probably through a vent. We had noticed that the cats were sitting very close to the laundry room door and paying rapt attention to the laundry room, which they usually do not do. My sister was more afraid to open the door than I was, so I opened it and a bird fluttered out. It flew around the house for a while and then into my sister’s bathroom. One of the cats, leaped into the sink, crashed against the bathroom mirror, landed in the sink on top of the bird and caught it. He then paraded haughtily through the house, wanting to get back in my sister’s bedroom to show her his prize. The bird fluttered weakly. I went out and knocked on all the apartment doors in the building to ask for help and nobody was home. We called Animal Control and nobody answered. The police do not come out to get birds out of the cat’s mouth. The cat sat there for a long while, while the other cat watched and hissed at him, probably wanting a bite. We eventually found a service that would come and get the bird for $95.00, but by that time, there were only feathers all over the living room and a bird head under the coffee table. We cancelled the emergency service, I used three plastic bags on my hand, picked up the leavings, marched to the garage and put it in the trash, and that was that. Results: Cats are very relaxed, coming into the bathroom to check for birds every once in a while. There are still feathers in the sink. there are still feathers all over the living room. I was in the process of eating a chicken sandwich when this all started, and I am no longer hungry. My sister is no longer freaked. All is well.

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The Co-Dependent CODA Group

I’m definitely not an alcoholic — I hardly ever drink. But I’m pretty sure I’m a co-dependent. I find recovering alcoholics to be most charming and alluring. There’s just something about them that draws me like a magnet. A relative of mine had joined a CODA (co-dependents anonymous) 12 step group at the end of a bad relationship with a compulsive gambler and from what she said, working the 12 steps with this group along with the group support was very helpful to her. Knowing this about myself and having been involved in some co-dependent relationships myself, including one fairly current one, I decided to check out one of these groups myself (This was about 20 years ago).

As the 12 step groups suggest, I tried several different groups at first to see if one fit better than the others, and I thought that I had found one that was pretty good. Usually in a 12 step group, there is no cross talk so after the opening talk, each individual gets a turn to have their say without any feedback or anyone telling them what they should do about a particular situation. I found that to be very refreshing and much more helpful than hearing other people’s advice. Sometimes, just having people listen and hearing other people’s stories can be quite healing. I think I went to three or four meetings of one particular group and I noticed that slowly, but surely, there began to be some cross talk, and more and more advice giving. I had almost decided to leave that group and try another when one day, an incident occurred that helped me make up my mind.

A lost dog appeared outside the picture window of the room of the church where we were meeting. It looked bedraggled and cold. The entire group stood up, went to the window and the rest of the group session turned into a discussion about what to do about the dog. Everyone wanted to help the dog. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing in itself, but in the context of the purpose of a co-dependent’s anonymous group, we were supposed to be working on our co-dependency in the group, not acting it out on each other or on the dog.

It was as though someone were passing out bottles of beer at an AA meeting in order to help the alcoholics. I decided to move on and look for another group that wasn’t acting out their addiction right in the middle of the meetings.

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