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December 31, 2014: Finishing Up

An apt title for the year’s end. Gotta have endings although I don’t always like them. I wish that 2014 would go on forever. It was a comfortable year, sorta like my now well-worn Alaska Industrial Hardware fleece gloves. They feel good and I am familiar with them. However, they too won’t last forever.

It’s been the year of the horse. I’m also sorry to see this come to an end. We won’t have another year of the horse for another 12 years. This is a long time. The year of the pig, that isn’t as fitting for me. I was supposedly born in the year of the sheep, which often makes me wonder if someone erred in doing the paperwork. I don’t feel much affinity for them.

It was, I am thinking, a bridge year, meaning that much of what I learned and experienced this past year is going to serve me in good stead in the years to come. I’m mainly thinking about my writing life. I now have a considerable amount of unfinished work, enough to provide momentum in the year to come. The University of Alaska Press rejection rates up there as the decade’s biggest writing-related disappointment. In the end, it not only didn’t fly, it didn’t get off the ground. My thinking is that James Engelhardt had it set in mind what this book was to be about, and in the end, the proposal wasn’t reflective of this. I also think that my mental image of him didn’t measure up. I was not a young, beautiful woman but rather an old crone. This just didn’t jive with his expectations. Younger, skinny, male poets – I’ve never had much luck in dealing with them.

As it turned out, my timing was really good. I knew what was coming for I’d been down this road before (this is the advantage of being an old crone) and acted accordingly. I began working on my returning rider book as soon as I saw the writing on the wall. I got the narrative part squared away, and then returned to working on Raising Raudi, aka If Wishes were Horses. I am going to finish it today. It’s a good book – the narrative line holds together nicely.

Raudi and I had a good year. I learned a great deal in taking equitation/jumping lessons with Beth, the most important thing being to remain positive. This has begun to come through in my writing. It’s all a matter of perspective. You can flip things around if you have a negative perspective, and then see the positive side of things. We had some lessons in which nothing went right – but then in the end, Beth said “you know what I liked?” In this respect, she’s an extraordinary role model.

The competitive trail ride – Raudi and I did well on the trail, where it counted the most. And we had many good rides. Tinni became Pete’s number one riding horse after Signy died last March. This was on the heels of Siggi’s death. There’s much to be learned by Pete’s example – once again, he demonstrated that he is very adaptable.

Siggi’s gift to us was Ryder, the dog who appeared out of nowhere and stole our aching heart. Signy’s gift to us was Hrimmi. She was also a gift to Raudi. The two are now best friends. In part, this may be why Raudi is now a more agreeable and less pushy mare.

We’re now doing horse agility – this is fun. Pete and I made a video and submitted it to the International Horse Agility club competition. This has been fortuitous because Claudia Sihler, Ryder’s dog obedience instructor, and I are now figuring out things together.

The dogs – this is another instance of flipping the positive/negative outlook around. Ryder did well at Search and Rescue, but the group was dysfunctional, so we had to drop out. Her getting kicked in the nose was heartbreaking, but we were really fortunate that she didn’t lose an eye or teeth. We are reminded of this when her eye tears up, which it does upon occasion. Rainbow went in for surgery twice, once to have a lump on her butt removed, and a second time to have her underside stitched up. After both surgeries she emerged stronger and wiser. I have often told Pete that these are now the best years of her life, for she now gets out every day and checks out things with Ryder, her new trail buddy. Jenna also had a mast cell tumor on her side, which we had removed. She has some separation anxiety issues. As I’ve said in the past, we’re now her service humans.

Got a new chicken, Sophie. She’s a brahma chicken. Just thought of it now, she is a good karma chicken. Her name is most fitting – she likes to hang out.

The goats are also doing well. So all in all, things around here have remained very peaceable.

There were a few deaths, the most notable being Jan, who was Pete’s work colleague. She was a total left brain person. She and I never hit it off, much to my regret. What I learned from her was that a take charge attitude is most important. This as opposed to our friend Carol, who did not deal as well after discovering that she had cancer. Pete’s Mom’s wife Sandy also died, of complications due to having Alzheimer’s Disease.

This dispatch has morphed into the “this is the year that was” genre. I’m going to wrap it up by moving on. There are still 15 or so hours of 2014 left. I am going to continue work on If Wishes were Horses, get the horses out, and then tonight go the Sihler’s and watch agility horse videos.