Beam me up, Scotty...

Posted by Sharon Labels: , ,

This is a difficult post to write. I almost didn't, but since Ridin'. Reinin' and Writin' is supposed to be a bit of a snapshot of my life, I knew I must. Here goes...

There are bumps in the road of life for everyone, I know, and we all hope the bumps are only little ones. I have had some rather large bumps (more like craters...) along the way but, as my brother once told me, "You always pick yourself up and start over." In the past few years, after my husband walked out in 2004, I did that again - I started over. As always, the thread that had connected all phases of my life for all of my life remained - my animal friends. My female Samoyed, Kirby and my horses were my anchors. In the ensuing years, I willingly 'gave' all of me to them and they have returned to me more - a reason to be, deep understanding, loyalty and joy. With their help, I healed.

I knew I would be tested, however. It was just a matter of when and how. As last fall turned to winter and winter to spring, Kirby failed. Although I knew the logical decision was to take her in to the vet, I procrastinated. Although she could barely walk and was almost blind, she was not in pain. I carried her in and out; at times, I hand-fed her. She could still hear and that alone made her life livable for she heard my footsteps, my voice, the tractor, the horses - all the things she had heard all of her 13 years. Eventually, she lost her battle. She died the evening of May 12th.

I had been prepared for Kirby's passing and was grateful she had died at home. Even so, as I threw that first shovel of dirt on her lifeless body, I bawled like a baby. My loyal, loving companion was gone.

That night I slept in the tack room of my barn beside my mare, Peppy Del Cielo (Prima). She carried a foal by Wimpys Little Step and I had allowed myself to dream a big dream for this foal. If the foal arrived that night it would take the sting out of losing Kirby. 

At 4:00 AM on May 13th (that's Friday, the 13th!), I knew the mare was going to foal. A few minutes after 5:00, the foal was born - a mahogany bay colt with a snip on his nose and three socks - but he flopped in the straw limp and lifeless. Frantically, I checked his mouth and nose for mucous an, finding none, tried to hold him upside down to drain his airway. I could not get him high enough so I draped him over the water bowl. When nothing drained, I laid him in the straw and started CPR but no amount of air from my lungs was going to bring Baby Wimpy back to life. He did not draw one breathe. He, like Kirby, was gone.

Over twelve hours, I had lost my dog and a foal in which I had packaged my hopes and dreams. At first I did not know how I would be able to cope but of course, there were things to do - feeding the rest of the horses, weaning Prima (still licking the baby in hopes of reviving him) away from her baby, choosing a location to bury the foal, digging another grave...

So, by the fence in my house yard, under two small poplars that would someday shade Baby Wimpy's grave, I dug a resting place for the small innocent body one shovel-full at a time, tears mingling with sweat. I transported his lifeless body in the bucket of my tractor, laid him in the grave and kissed his cold, sweet nose, the same one I had tried to breathe life in to. And when the first bucket of dirt, tumbled over him, I collapsed over the steering wheel of the tractor, great gasping sobs racking my body. So final. Sooo.... over. First Kirby, then a wee foal that had not yet had a chance to live. I hope they are romping together in a green field...

With one more mare left to foal, I feel like I have nothing left to give. Beam me up, Scotty! I want to come back when it's better.

Mint Juleps, Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Posted by Sharon Labels: , ,

I've always been a little fascinated with the way very small things link my mind to events. Seemingly insignificant words, items or actions connect my thoughts to a time in my life or an annual event... like ice cream with my homemade caramel sauce and the Kentucky Derby. Forget the wide-brimmed hats, mint juleps and My Kentucky Home. Give me ice cream with caramel sauce. This is how it happened.

Years ago, when we only had one channel on our black and white television (that's after we could get television!), the Kentucky Derby was always aired - and it was a program we would not miss! Even though we were extremely busy at that time of the year, my husband and I planned to take a break for the prestigious event. For some reason, I remember one of those May Saturdays very well - so well, in fact, that it comes back to me at every running of the Kentucky Derby.

It was a warm spring day in Crooked River, Saskatchewan, the perfect day for raking, preparing the garden for planting and other spring work. My three young children played outside as my husband and I worked, checking our watch often. Finally, it was time.

As we walked to the house, I planned a snack for us, something befitting the big event and the advent of warm weather. Yes, I knew what I would do. I would make my mother's famous Caramel Ice Cream Sauce. As I stirred the ingredients together on the stove (now I use the microwave), the pre-race hype blared from the televsion. Just in time, I dished up ice cream for all of us, topped it with the rich, buttery sauce and sat down. On the screen, ladies in floppy-brimmed hats toasted with mint juleps while my family spooned a decadent dessert into our mouths. Ice cream with Caramel Sauce has not tasted any better ever since that day in 1973, the year Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby. Since he went on to win the Triple Crown, that could explain why that day and Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce is forever linked to the Derby in my mind. Or was it because it was a pleasant interlude with my family?

Here is the recipe:
In a glass bowl or large measuring cup, melt 1/4 cup butter (use butter) in the microwave. Add 1 cup brown sugar, stir and microwave for a few seconds. In another bowl, whisk or beat 1 egg with 1/4 cup milk. Add slowly to butter mixture stirring constantly (make sure it's not too hot!). Heat only until sugar is melted and sauce is smooth. Add vanilla to taste and serve warm on vanilla ice cream.

This year Animal Kingdom won the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby... and I watched with a bowl of caramel-sauced ice cream in my lap.