Tall, dark and handsome. Fit his name: Slim. Your mother would have approved.
A swagger worthy of John Wayne’s Hollywood. Him saying’ stuff like “Shucks, Ma’am” only sounded normal.
One so with such unquestionable trustworthiness, Mom would say,” Honey, rope that one!”
Never a problem when we asked the grownups on the porch if it was OK to go find him.
“If you can catch him, you can ride him. Sure, go ahead”
And they would laugh to themselves knowing we’d be busy for quite a while.
Slim was the boss cattle horse at the farm. He knew what he was about.
He always pretended not to see the pack of kids headed his way with the halter.
We always had a plan of
attack cornering him – stealthy like Indians circling the wagon train.
We knew he’d never run us down, but he knew just when to gather himself up and slide between waving arms.
Then you’ve never has been seen a more beautiful high-stepping trot: flowing tail held high with head proudly up topped by alert sculptured ears. Few fine gaited show horses could match his elegance. All natural without gait training boots or lines. Unusual for a horse greatly skilled in cattle work.
With a twinkle in his eye he gave us the horse laugh. Dodging this way and that.
Eventually Dad or an uncle would appear with a bucket of feed and a wordless call at which point Slim would give in, walk calmly to the barn to be saddled up…with only a little puffing up so you had to tighten up the girth a second time. Like he was smirking at us, “You don’t expect me to give up my leisure time too easily do you?”
Everyone around knew how intelligent Slim was. Smarter than kids and plenty of men.
He knew what he was about – easily measuring who was in the saddle.
There are pictures of me as a toddler in front of my dad in the saddle with hands gleefully woven into Slim’s mane. Another photo has four grubby barefooted kids of assorted heights draped over him as he stately stood.
Put a cowboy on him and he’d shift into cutting horse gear. Cows just gave up when Slim showed up.
Apparently he and the men had discussed the perimeter the kids were permitted to ride.
Inside the fences pastures he was pretty amenable to wandering anywhere, but outside the property’s fence, he was always calculating distances.
It was like there was an invisible line in the sand: just this far and no more. Slim would just halt a certain point, look around for some tasty greens to eat while totally ignoring the mad windmilling on his back until he was bored at which point he’d turn around going back the way he came. No matter the protests.
Once Older Brother and I were trotting down the sandy road – approaching the shut down zone at the edge of the property – when Older Brother whispered, “Hang on. I’m gonna make him go on to the store so we can get a coke.”
We gathered speed – past a trot. Actually past a trot! It was happening. We’d break the jinx. Older Brother seeing the corner fence post, gave Slim a mighty kick and a whoop.
At which point we would have flown over the horse’s head if he had lowered it. Slim didn’t even bother to pause, but simply spun around and speedily, cheerfully delivered us back at the front porch.
As I was shoved off, I was given that 5 fingered warning that the incident was never to be mentioned.
I swear the horse was chuckling to himself.
When Slim was over 30 yrs, he was retired from the heavy cattle work.
He didn’t mind retirement. Slim knew what he was about.
Enjoyed leisure time unlike that gorgeous paint horse which had to be sold because he was such a workaholic that he was cutting calves from the herd during off hours in the pasture. Skinny cattle don’t bring much at auction which is a problem if cattle paid the bills.
Slim settled in with a few grey hairs on his muzzle and a delighted spring in his step.
It was odd late one dreary, miserable winter afternoon when all the other animals showed up to the barn for dinner, but Slim wasn’t there.
Watching the fading light, uncle pulled on all the warm clothes available and started walking the pasture.
Startled a few deer in the brush before he spotted Slim: standing perfectly still in the grey drizzle.
Slim saw him and did that flip the head up “Hey, over here” thing, but didn’t move a muscle.
Fearing the horse had injured an ankle or leg, uncle hurried over as Slim nodded a couple of times, “I knew if I waited, you’d come.”
Once beside Slim, it was obvious who the problem was: the horse had stumbled into a tangle of barbed wire thoughtlessly left behind by someone.
Now most horses would have torn themselves up fighting to get free, but Slim was not most horses. He just stood perfectly still and waited. Hardly a scratch on him once released. Even Trigger or Fury couldn’t have been smarter.
That old horse lived a long time even after that – seems like another 10 + years or so.
He picked a nice grassy spot on a slope to finally lay down. And he was left right there.
Uncles said “It’s where he wanted to be. Wouldn’t have felt right dumping dirt on him. Slim always liked to be out in the open where he could see the stars.”
Slim was a horse who knew what he was about.
A difficult cow pony to follow.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
People dread it: The Day of Immeasurable Guilt.
Especially working parents even though there are those who are happy to step up in your place or theirs. (And never let you forget it.)
All the treats. All the decorations. All the games. Does it really say you care? You’re not there.
Of course, seeing opportunities, if you’ve got enough
guilt or money consideration, Valentines Day can still be a joy for your little one.
But RC Cat thinks this is a bit much:
Teenage Molly Malamute is pouting, “All my friends are going. And you are the meanest parents in the world.”
And worse. She’s now grinning about the massive storm with lightning and tornado-like winds moving into the area.
All the party dogs will be huddling inside the secure boarding area wishing they were home.
“If I can’t party, nobody can party.”
We’ve told here that’s a most unattractive attitude.
They are so human like…except for the part of about biting guilt.
Hope you can curl up with the ones who make you smile this Valentines.
Hearts and treats for all!
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge
Dressed to impress, she lurched across the room dragging that fancy cane behind her as if it were a fat, disobedient dog on a leash.
Who knows if it was result of attractiveness driven selected hearing or declining grey matter.
This was the one who for years smiled and lived in a total visual blur because “Men don’t make passes, you know. Glasses.”
No matter. In her own mind, glamorous still.
Quite so when younger: Perfect make-up. Strawberry blond hair cut and curled like a starlet’s. Wrapped in mink. Slouching with a debutante’s walk.
Won’t see herself as a Leaning Tower of Pisa buttressed to a gentleman ‘s elbow now.
A rollie walker was out of the question.
Instructions about anything was like trying to hand her fleeing dandelion puffs.
Besides there was a real chance she might get a Rollie walker going, not be able to stop, and keep yelling “Where are the brakes on this darn thing?”
Think an unskilled but happy 14-year-old behind the wheel of a corvette convertible on a curved road during Spring Break.
In her late 90’s, we managed to get her into a wheel chair.
Once seated she quickly transformed into Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile.
Escorted in a golden chariot: chin up, smiling to subjects along the way while urging great speed. Bingo was starting.
Getting from place to place with dignity is important.
Something you don’t think about until stroke, damage to the spinal cord or brain takes that skill away.
Sometimes an “unfortunate event”, leaves a person with an asymmetric walking pattern where one leg does not fully swing backward resulting in an uneven awkward gait.
It’s tiring, annoying, and darn embarrassing.
To help people make great strides instead of walking like a cartoon, researchers have gotten very creative with GEMS.
Step into this Rehabilitation Engineering and Electromechanical Design Lab to try on GEMS: the Gait Enhancing Mobile Shoe (VIDEO)
- SciTech Now. Full Video episode 313 with the focus on GEMS starting at 13:00 – 19:00 (There’s other cool stuff here, too. Snow bikes and a wood collection with scientific importance, for example)
- PBS Video here.
- National Institute of Health: “Motion Controlled Gait Enhancing Mobile Shoe for Rehabilitation”
- Clinicaltrials.gov (US National Institute of Health/University of South Florida. ) Study currently recruiting participants. Criteria here from the University. Or here (from company working with the University).
No help for dreamy aunt, but maybe others with young enough brain cells to absorb the concept and instructions. The woman in the video offers real hope.
My Aunt would never consider wearing one of those – in public or any place with a mirror. Vanity has its’ price
Besides there’s not doubt she’d get rolling and start yelling “Where’s the brakes for this darn thing?
A step beyond.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
It just took us
multiple leg gashes a long time to get the message.
Marketing is not exclusively for those with fully operational thumbs.
Along with many, RC Cat yawned not so politely during the Super Bowl commercials until she realized what people were paid for those. So she, Queen of the ruff fluff, has confidently put out her resume with a creative sample:
Her sales pitch begins with an off camera commanding, “NOW!” meow.
(At least we think that’s part of the sketch. She could have been yowling at us to hurry up. Afraid to ask.)
The opening features a kitchen with an impatient elegant cat.
(RC graciously broke with traditional Regent behavior and to play with the roll…maybe she’ll return to script shortly…Oh, we are ready to continue…)
There’s the sound of a plastic lid being removed.
As a thin silver tray holding a dab of yogurt is placed in front of THE finicky cat, as human voice asks, “How good is it?”
The camera reveals the answer with an approving cat indicating the cleaned silver dish by her side:
She knew you’d get it. And she’s sure that yogurt will be flying off the grocery shelves.
An aside, she does wish however, they would stop printing those wiggly black lines on her disposable dishes as she keeps thinking those are frozen lizard tails or something.
There have been embarrassing incidents with the thin dish when she tried to stab the lizard tail with her claw.
We shall not discuss it.
Interested companies may contact Staff who will relay Spokescat opportunities.
Be aware that benefits such as catnip bonuses, sunny corner windows, and napping hours must be addressed up front.
She is waving her paw.
We must depart quickly.
And don’t forget to leave an open can of – Oh, yes, yes. Tributes. We shall tell them.
Can cat food accepted from those who must travel some distance, but yummy blueberry, honey vanilla, or coconut Noosa yogurt from local fans would be an acceptable variation.
A small cooler has been placed by the door for your convenience.
I am RC Cat and I approve this message.
Once again they stomped out of the room knowing without looking that their superior was glaring at her through the one way glass.
She sat quite still.
Except there was that quiet little smile again.
Her interrogators clinched their jaws.
How was she managing it?
Having spent days in the concrete isolation cells.
Blind folded. Bound to a chair.
Yet she wouldn’t bend.
What kept her going?
Everything pointed to her. Being one of them.
Clinging to the past. Worse. Talking to others. Spreading nonsense.
“Not trying to recruit. No, just chatting. Forestry stuff.”
Right. They ain’t no landscapers.
Snort. Foolish women.
They should all be down on their knees that this wasn’t the Salem Witch hunt era.
All these skirts had to face was medication the rest of their lives. So they’d be normal like everyone else. Not delusional.
All but this one. What was sustaining her?
She knew they watched.
Watched every blink. Every heave of her chest.
Looking for weakness. Surrender.
In the quiet of their absence she slowly rebuilt the walls protecting her.
A slow betrayal of mind and body provokes a longing for those sepia toned days when life was still a mystery, before the weather and world affairs conspired repeatedly to wrench the senses. Only now, as memory fails, does the pain relent, a tender mercy.
“Always trust the trees,” her father told her. “They never lie.”
If only I could see some trees.” *
The scarred wooden chair supported her. Gently, but firmly, pressing against her spine. Encouraging.
Despite the splintering of life, the aged oak had a bit of power still engrained – saved for one last effort. For saving one last disciple.
The chair reached deep – forcing every golden, sun-warmed life force remaining deep within his grain into her skin and consciousness .
She must survive. His shattering would mean their survival.
The men behind the glass were startled as the chair, now bleached of color, collapsed in the oddest fashion like a camel carefully lowering to let a Queen disembark.
“Well, that’s that. Who sent that antique up here anyway?”one of the inquisitors grumbled. “Where’s the metal ones like in the other rooms?”
Suddenly a loud groan from the heavy wooden door as if the buckling chair jolted it.
The supervisor crossed over, shouldered the door, and attempted to shut it without complete success.
“Warped,” he grumbled. “just like that dame. Get her up and get her out of here. Tell her how lucky she is we’re letting her go and maybe she won’t sue us for splinters from that chair. Move.”
It was all the stubborn door could do to limit his anger to a low rumble.
Tree killers! The solid plank couldn’t abide the Anti-Naturals…Them and their worship of all things metal.
Wood have bitten them if he’d have been a snake…
But he was under cover and they depended on him to open things up.
*A collaboration with Honie Briggs and her Dad. Words* used with permission from her 100 word fiction: “A Wallflower’s Window on the World“)
Thanks to Honie and her Dad who also taught her ” …if I give the world my very best I will get kicked in the teeth, but that I should do it anyway.”
Sometimes you do see the trees.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
He felt sick.
The authorities had shown up.
“Ok. Again. Where did you get the fish?”
Not even able to hold his head up, all he could do was moan. No way he was feathering his nest.
Where did you get the fish?
Lucky he was spotted as his condition
was is serious: a Bald Eagle looking like trash alongside a rural dirt road.
Now at the Friends of Texas Wildlife facility, he’s able to stand, keep some solid food down, and is getting treated for lead poison. Extent of the damage to internal organs is still unknown, but he’s improving – although it’s going to be a long rehabilitation.
No signs of bullet lead, so the best guess is that he stopped to pick up a bite at one of those little eateries around the lakes and got some bad food. (You know how that goes).
“We have no way of knowing what caused the lead poisoning, but unfortunately it is an all-too-common problem affecting bald eagles. It is either caused by environmental toxins (lead levels in ponds, streams, etc.), or possibly by the eagle having ingested fish or prey contaminated by lead (fishing sinkers, lead ammunition).” (Statement from Friends of Texas Wildlife told to KPRC)
Keep up with eagle’s recover and other rescue efforts with Friends of Texas Wildlife’s Facebook.
While driving with a lead foot is hazardous, lead in the water is even more dangerous.
You like Gulf Coast seafood?
A Boston-based company, ironically named Clean Harbors, deals in industrial waste. This company, the Nation’s #1 hazardous waste treatment company, has been dumping arsenic, aluminum, lead and other metals into Dickinson Bayou’s waters. Water near that favorite old restaurant Hillman’s Seafood and Fish House, as well as just across the bayou from the water supply for Dickinson, San Leon, Bacliff, and Kemah (You know Kemah – that place with the Boardwalk and all the restaurants.)
Concerns were raised about the hazardous dumping situation by local residents in a Jan. 2016 public meeting.
May, 2016 water samples indicated the elevated levels of aluminum, lead, and arsenic in a Dickinson Bayou tributary.(Article here, pg 31)
The worry is not flighty at all considering what flows into gullies, into bayous, into bays, into the Gulf, then goes into the ocean which wraps around coastlines near and far.
Eventually the food chain is threatened with real concern about what’s at the end of your fishing line, on your dinner plate, or in your beak, so to speak.
Seriously, just because the Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl, that doesn’t mean Boston can run roughshod over every field and stream.
Real patriots play defense as well as offense when the environment is at risk.
High flyin’ time to get the lead out.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.