Sunday, July 8, 2012


 I just got a wonderful e-mail from Patt Blue who inadvertently reminded me that I do write a blog, or did write a blog, so I'm writing this for her since my e-mail server takes my words and flings them into nowhere if I try to write more than a few sentences.

I'd actually written a story to a friend this morning, someone I write the shortest notes to, leaving all sense of my strange life bare, but, of course, the system took the here is the gist of them.

My new pleasure is driving the overflow of folks heading to the dentist from the backside of the racetrack on Thursday afternoons. Shirley zips along on the highway and get them there in ten minutes and I, who am phobic, take them the long, long way, up route 16, on Memorial Drive, down Mass. Avenue, to Barbara McInnis House, or the former mortuary, where there is free dental care.

My car holds 4 and most of the batches have been Spanish speakers, some of whom I know, most of whom I don't. So I got to listen to a joke that included the word gorda many times that was prompted by a fat woman someone saw out of the window. I didn't understand all the details, but I think it was about a husband and a was told by Germany, who used to ride the racehorse I co-owned briefly, another long, difficult story...anyway, he's a slight, handsome fellow with a tight face and good smile and everyone laughed at his joke.

There are different folks going forward and back, and on last Thursday there were mostly English speakers, including Potts who Shirlery thought I knew, but I didn't. He was actually pleased at the scenic route and seemed to enjoy my commentary, "Oh, that's the Charles River? Thats MIT?" I put the radio on some station that i think they'll like and, by accident we were listening to one of the college stations, old records, Nina Simone and Woody Guthrie. I got some applause when I identified his voice before the announcer told us it was recorded in 1947. And then this monologue came on about a guy shoved along in the crowd though some gates, and up into bleachers to watch a bunch of men fight over a little pumpkin they was a kickin' back and forth on the cow pasture down below. I'd heard that Andy Griffin got his start by making this record about watching a football game, but never imagined I'd get to hear it with a group of guys who liked it as much as I did....

the skinny fellow, who I could see in the backview mirror and know slightly, worked for Reba MacIntyre, a real nice lady, when she had Thoroughbreds. Now she has cutters...he said they cut out cattle...I'm curious about just what they look like and what qualities they are bred for..and will ask him when I see him next. He evidentially likes to drive, especially around rotaries which provide a certain spice of danger here in Massachusetts. Most of those drivers are mean suckers and he likes that.

So, last weekend Shirley drove us down to Rehoboth so I could video tape and photograph foals and mares. Paul Foley, a man who is an excellent photographer and brilliant on many levels and in many areas, one  of them being technical information about cameras, spent a couple of hours with me in Paneras, decoding exactly what I might want in terms of a new video camera. He was tactful, something that would be hard for anyone facing the depth of my technical ignorance. And after consulting the web for further information and thinking, which must have taken many hours that evening and the next day, he correctly decided that the camera I thought I wanted was not going to be the right one. So he suggested one similar to my old friend, the Canon that uses mini-dvs...and i ordered it with gratitude for his time and effort and the understanding of my limitations.

But, and here's the story, in the meantime I'd use my Nikon camera which does take HD video. The new camcorder with high definition would arrive at the end of the week. I did NOT do what he told me to do --------- practice using the Nikon so I was secure. But, to my slight credit, I did take along my old friend, the Canon. My purpose was to photograph foals and mares, along with the vet, feedman, horseshoer and the jockey who broke babies. Naturally there were other things going on which I was to capture for an eleven minute video about the lives of Thoroughbreds before their five or eight years on the track and afterwards.
 We were starting on George and Arlene Brown's breeding farm...

One of the mares has a habit of trying to kill her foals, so it had to be hand--raised and kept with a mini, a version of horse which was quite unimaginable to me. He is the foal's companion and went along with it back to the owner's farm not long after I got to photograph them. I am terrified of horses, so it was extremely odd to find myself actually in a paddock with both the mini and the orphan. They'd been led in while I wasn't watching and the gate closed. Fortunately, they were both extremely friendly and non-threatening.

George tells folks not to worry about horses, they'll knock you down, trample you, bite you, leaving you with black and blue marks in the morning. Thoroughbreds are unpredictable and stallions are even more so...I stayed quite a distance away when they bathed one of the two stallions that stand on that farm.            

The vet was examining whether an embryo had attached to the wall of the uterous, using a scope so that she could check on the screen. It had implanted. In the old days, this discovery was made by feel. If there are twins, it's important to pinch one off. The whole birth arrangement of horses seems a bit dicy to me since about 50% die in the wild. Arlene and George spend their nights watching the foaling pen because they have to turn the babies if they are coming out feet upwards.

The foals are born after 11 months and go back to their owners, along with the current baby, already pregnant again. Breed mares. This is undoubtedly the same timing that would occur in nature.

It was quite remarkable to stand in the field watching mares and their foals run down the hill, into the pasture. The foals danced around, leaping and running, often coming too near to where four of us stood under the tree. I can't say that I like horses any more than I did, but it was such an interesting experience.

Fortunately, I got 7 minutes of useful footage on my old camera. And on Monday I called to cancel my order for the new one. I'm sorry, Paul, but even with the smart modifications you suggested, I realized I'm not up to learning more right now....I'm going to have to get a new computer and that's about as much as I can handle.

This blog is supposed to concern aging. And aging is a serious issue. As Morris said when we had coffee on Friday, "Seventy is an entirely new country."   He has a very good life and is a contented person.       I, on the other hand, have a lot of regrets over the mess I made, the poor choices I made. But at seventy, there's not a whole hell of a lot to do to correct them, except put one foot in front of the other and do what's in front of me. And luckily, that's often very interesting.