Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Custom make a quiz...

... and receive lots of spam :) or maybe not

So far I'm not but...we'll see I guess.

Anyway... want to know what your friends really know about you? Your significant other? Set 1 to 10 questions about yourself or some other equally scintilatingly interesting topic and send the annoying link to all your friends. Thereby challenging them to admit to you how much or little they know about you. ;P

Here's the link to mine...see how you rate about knowing the unicorn (aka me).


Hee... it suddenly occured to me that some people reading this might not even know that my pseudonym, long before the notion of an online nickname entered my mind, was UNICORN.

I've used it since I was 13, a very long time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

irish directions

The Quiet Man is the one movie that always makes my very changeable favourite 10 movies list. Not only is it a 'John Wayne' movie, it's also a 'John Ford' movie and a 'Maureen O'Hara' movie. An Oscar winning (for cinematography) 'classic' that almost never was. It is also one of the most visually beautiful movies I remember seeing.

The tone of the entire movie is set for me in the first 10 minutes of the film. John Wayne arrives in a small Irish town. He asks directions to the town of Innisfree of the conductor of the train. A simple enough scene, rather mundane in the way of starting a movie but the dialogue is unforgettable. I begin to smile as soon as the conductor and the engineer begin to fight about whether the fishing is best to the east or the west and the helpful lady with the daughter who'd be glad to show the nice man the way were she here always makes me laugh out loud at JW's reaction. But the sequence that sums up the entire movie for me and how it makes me smile and feel good is the one that goes something like this: "Do you see that road there?" JW nods eagerly, sensing an actual bit of useful information forthcoming, "Don't be taking that road, it'll take ye nowhere near Innisfree."

No matter what mood I'm in that line will draw me into a Brigadoon like state, where the world is suspended for an hour and a half and I live in a world where horse races can decide the fate of a relationship and the anger and animosity of a life long hatred for someone different from you can be turned off to share a wager on a fight.

It's an old story, a 'taming of the shrew' so to speak, love will conquer all and the like. The characters are caricatures of the Irish. The rowdy brother; the stand offish men in the pub until they discover JW's true connection to the place; the little Michaleen; all stand against time to how the Irish have been percieved and portrayed through the years. Remember the Irishman in Braveheart? A little off, talking to God all the time but a lovable character nonetheless. It's difficult (for me at least) to dislike someone with the lilt and charm of the Irish in their voice. So even the villians of movies end up being a little bit loveable.

Years ago I was calling about a groom position at a breeding farm. The lilting tones of an Irishman greeted me over the phone. We chatted for a bit about my qualifications and he invited me to drive over for a face to face interview. While giving me directions he uttered this sentence:

"Do you know the road that goes by McDonald's?"

"Yes," I quickly answered, pen at the ready to take down the directions.

"Don't be going on down that road, it won't bring you anywhere near here..."

My laughter was barely muffled and it was a longish pause before I was able to compose myself and get the correct directions from him.

Upon meeting this delightful man I began working for him and one day he was showing me his racing history, some of his souveniers from his years and years of participation, first as a jockey, then as a trainer and now as a breeder. In the corner, tucked away under a jacket lay an old beat up saddle. He saw me looking at it and explained that it was a souvenier from a movie he'd been an extra in years gone by as a boy in Ireland. The saddle had been used in a race in the movie.

My ears perked up, could it be? Sure enough, he'd been a young lad living in the town that became the fictional Innisfree in my favourite movie. He told me stories about Ward Bond and how the locals had been agog at the man's ability to consume alcohol and still function (no small praise coming from an Irishman), how attentive JW had been to his family and how Miss O'Hara was so beautiful she'd taken his breath away. Listening to his accented tones still strongly Irish after his many years in Canada, I was swept away.

Today, we were a little unsure of where we were. So we stopped to ask an older man, who was sitting on a chair in front of an antique shop, for directions. He stumbled to the car and clung to the door frame for balance. After listening to him tell us not to go that way as it won't take us where we wanted to go we drove off, my smile somewhat fixed as I tried to not breath in the alcohol fumes still hovering around the window.

Finally I turned to hubby and remarked, "trust me to find a drunken Irishman in the middle of nowhere to ask directions from..." He chuckled and nodded and said, "well at least he didn't tell us where the fishing was best."

The words of a child.

Today we took a drive south to visit Jack, #4's 'horse to be' once we get him all paid off. We've been working with him for quite some time and he's become a pet as much as a horse to ride.

It's been a while since we've been able to get there to work with him. Added to that, Jack is entering what amounts to the teenaged angst age group for horses and we weren't too sure of his reaction to being summarily hauled in from the pasture, saddled and ridden. Horses typically have ages where they respond (or don't as the case may be) to certain things amicably or not. Usually what you see as a 1 and 2 year old is what you'll eventually get but there's that ...deadfromtheneckup... time period around 3 to sometimes as old as 5 when they are just cantankerous and unwilling and unpredictable. You know, teenaged angst time.

Jack was a little flat eared and hunchy when hubby got on so we didn't push things. The girls wanted a ride so I led them around on him. I was hot and tired and a little crankily myself with one thing and another, and to tell the truth, trudging around the corral leading a reluctant horse was low on my list of things to do today. #4 enjoyed her ride even if she's a little jaded about being led, being accustomed to being allowed to ride him unaided. Then it was #5's turn.

She clambors up with a little assistance from my knee. She settles into the saddle and picks up the reins. Jack and I start out and her voice trills out, "Mommy when I ride a horse I feel like I'm flying."

"Do you?" I replied in a somewhat surprised tone. The words were clear and the sentiment one I identified with immediately.

"Yes, flying through the air, all by myself."

I couldn't help the smile and sense of wellbeing that rushed through me. I repeated her words to the hubby, adding that I sure could understand that sensation. It didn't really matter that it was hot then, or that I was cranky or grumpy about things external.

To ride a horse -is- like flying. It's something that can't be explained to someone who doesn't get it, whether they've ridden or not. It is something that can be shared in a glance and a sigh but not with words.

The first time I flew my girlfriend tried to prepare me for the take off. She said, "it's like galloping on a horse but instead of running out field, you simply lift up into the air..."

#5 can be a conundrum of emotions and odd behaviours at times. She's got some habits that can set your (well mine anyways) teeth on edge in an instant but that moment then...those are the moments that matter. There's something so brutally and beautifully honest about a 5 yo's enthusiasm and it gladdens my heart that she could tell me so very very clearly, both in the way she spoke and what she said that she understands.

I've often joked that the reason she's the youngest is because God has a sense of humour. At times like this, I see his other reasons too.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I know I've said it before, but as far as you run, you can never outrun your genes.

A few evenings back I was sitting happily watching (read playing Darkthrone) tv and the phone rang. It was my older sister. She lives "back home" in the province and relative area to where we grew up. She married a local boy as did our two older sisters also married locally as did our brother Not me...I moved to Calgary and married a man from England. I've since divorced him. But for the eldest (her husband has passed) they're all still with their highschool sweethearts.

Suffice to say I'm the black sheep. The odd duck and the 'what is that kid thinking' element of our family. Doesn't mean I'm not one of them at heart.

The conversation started out in a normal way, a bit of joshing and goodnatured self dreprecation about our age and weight.

Me: "Hey, how are you?"

Sis: "Old and wrinkled."

Me: (laughing), "well you should have stuck with the family plan of fat, that way the skin's stretched out and the wrinkles don't show."

Sis: (also laughing) "Yes well I've plenty of both to go around."

We exchanged family news, catching each other up on the respective grandkids and children. The talk turned as it often does to who died, who wasn't dead yet and who had already died but I'd forgotten when she'd told me. Now to be totally fair, we aren't totally obsessed with death but the community -is- dying. The young'ns are escaping and not returning and that's sad for people like my sister and myself frankly, even though I can't believe I'll ever live there again. Not only that but she works in a funeral home as part of the catering staff (the woman makes one hell of a pyrogy let me tell you :P and her cabbage rolls are to well..die for ... even if they are her mom-in-law's recipe) so she does tend to mark time by funerals.

Sis: Nick B. died.

Me: (totally shocked the man was still alive) "Uh...wasn't he like 938 years old"

Sis: (laughing) Not quite.

Me: Truthfully, I thought he died years ago.

Sis: No that was ...

And the conversation turned to who was related to whom, and how Nick B. wasn't who I thought he was (he was I just truly did think he'd died years ago I wasn't mixing him up with another old man :P but it's fun to chat about who's who with my sis so away we went).

Somewhere in this long standing conversation (only the people we talk about shift generations or sometimes families) it takes one of those leaps that only do when people know each other well enough to let happen and just run with it.

Sis: S... were you ever in an accident? (somewhat startled tone as it had just leaped back into her mind, and also being the reason she'd called me).

Me: (knowing full well that she meant there and in the time we'd been discussing, a time when I'd been a young teen fool and she'd worried about me more than my own mom did...not because she cared more but because she was closer to my generation and what sort of stupidity teens were capable of). "Yes. I mean no not back then, but here in Alberta yes..." (see as much as I like to play with her mind, there's some things I won't twist about with her)

Sis: Well D. P. (who by the way would have been about oh...3 years old when this particular accident did occur)said you were in the car with B when that happened.

Me: (having a semi tempertantrum flashing back on the reason I wasn't in the car with B. who up until about 2 weeks prior to that had been my first boyfriend) NO. That was some bimbo with bigger boobs than mine and thanks for reminding me of that shithead.
(all said in a tone that she would know to be jokingly)

Sis: Well D.P. said. (dog with a bone, that's our family. We get an idea in our heads and it sticks, right or wrong).

Me: (pointing out the age difference between D.P. and myself ...frankly he's a little suck :P and a tattletale) (oh and we always call him D.P. to differentiate between him and our brother D.) I think I'd remember being in that accident. (it had been one where truly the three in the car had been extremely lucky ... they'd crossed a highway in front of a semi carrying logs to the local mill. It's a blind curve and they had a stop sign but they were also young, stupid and who knows possibly a little drunk although I can't honestly remember if they were or not, or if any charges were laid.)

Sis: Well that's what I thought but D.P. said you'd dated him. (Time you see, is relative to our family's need to connect events. Yes, I had dated the boy in question for the entire school year prior to that summer. And yes I was rather bitter that two days after playing "I Wouldn't Want to Lose Your Love" (by April Wine) to me on the phone this boy had taken another girl to the April Wine concert and had never called me again. Sure it was 30 + years ago but some wounds are easily torn open it would appear.)

Me: Thanks for reminding me of that. (the devil? he's got nothing on sardonic remarks around us).

Sis: You're welcome. (see? Not only do we have sardonic down cold but we own stock in sarcasm as well.)

We're goofy now and giggly, sharing things as we never did when we were younger. The age difference between us negligible now that we are both grandmothers. We see the world through the same glasses now, bifocals that let us see both near and far of the situation and with a little bit more patience and a lot more ability to let things be, instead of youthfully trying to mold the happenings in our lives to what we wanted rather than what was to be.

When I was a young adult (in age, at least if not in brain) she'd seemed impossibly old to me. Stuck in her ways and unbending in her beliefs. We fought a lot then. She wanted to mother me, to replace somehow the mom I'd lost at 16. I didn't begin to understand her reasons, why she couldn't be my sister and stop trying to boss me around. How I wish I'd taken a moment to think and realize how old she'd been when her own mother had died and the woman who was to become mine became a part of her life. We'd fight nearly every time we'd talk on the phone but to her credit she didn't stop trying. When I walked away from the family for nearly 5 years she held onto hope that I would return, looking for me now and again and crying with relief when I finally called home, alone, divorced, without my kids she never chastised beyond why ever didn't you call?

We fought a lot. Our conversations never ending without one or the both of us in tears. She wanted so badly to help me with my life. I wanted so desperately to be accepted for the decisions I was making. Finally one day I realized, actually had what amounted to an epiphany :) that I didn't have to fight so hard to be accepted for them, I simply had to believe in them. I stopped defending them to her. When she'd challenge me on something I'd decided, I'd remark on the weather. And to her credit she took the hint. Our conversations became tolerable, then even pleasant. Now I look forward to enjoying a good yak with her about who died.

I guess this post could also have been entitled, "time heals all wounds" but really it's not just time. sometimes it's a remark about the weather that does it.