I can't sleep. Was it the dark chocolate I ate/Cyler snoring/stress about this week's impossible schedule? I don't know. So I will journal.
Tennessee was unexpected. Rolling hills and woods with leaves turnign every color. Now I know what true horse country looks like. Cyler had meetings so I took a couple of plantation tours while we were in Nashville. Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage, was more modest for it's time than Belle Meade, the famous race horse farm. The Hermitage was my favorite. I saw real cotton fields and smoke houses and sleighs and spring houses. I love the idea of a self sufficient family compound. Not the slavery part but the self-contained productive self-provisioning. It fascniates me how rural Americans made it work.
An interesting headstone carved to look like a tree trunk. People on the tour were quite judgemental of Andrew Jackson--the informational movie suggested that even though he was a man of his times, a slave owner/architect of the Trail of Tears, he was the first 'common,' self-made man to ascend to the Presidency and that every group (women, African Americans, Native Americans) after him used principles of Jacksonian democracy to demand full citizenship. I saw it but it is hard for many to get over that slavery issue. We read about Paul today in church and I feel much the same about him. He was a slave owner, a man of his times. He was taught in the the classical Greek tradition which informed the Greco-Roman culture he lived in, hence his penchant for celibacy. But these people were the next step on humanity's way to full personhood, liberty and agency. They didn't live in a vacuum sans cultural limitations or personality quirks and we shouldn't judge them by the ones we live with. I am full of admiration for the good things people have done in the past without having to agree with all of their belief systems and perspectives.
We visited Shane, Cyler's friend who was Bestman at our wedding. He is a musician/composer who works at home teaching online courses for Boston's Berkely School of Music. He is writing a book about home sound studio design. To hear him sing and play is pure joy. His wife is a dark-haired pistol with a tattoo on her finger. MauraLee is a negotiatior for the Service Employees Union. She is a raging democrat/feminist. She has cut down her work hours to 35 per week since the 3 girls were born. They are actively trying for a fourth. Shane is in the bishopric and MauraLee is the RS president. They are awesome example of authentic individuals doing authentic service.
Since Tennessee, especially south of Nashville is Walking Horse Mecca, I visited a trainer who doesn't do soring and who incorporates classical dressage and Parelli style natural horsemanship in her training. Carol Camp reminded me slightly of a tougher blond version of Scarlett O'Hara and Christina Aguilera in an Aussie hat, jeans and a red coat. She talked about the old days when the good ol' boy system thought she was nuts. They were used to using harsh bits, rollers, heavy shoes, burning chemicals, overchecks, tie-downs, you name it to get horses to gait. We didn't ride at all-I watched her teach from the ground. Desensitizing gradually, expecting young'uns to ground tie. Bending and going over poles and moving from small circles to larger ones. She got on a 3yr and rode him in a halter-no bit. Doing all the above--happy, not scared, not compelled. I was amazed. I have a lot to learn. She took an old mare out her stall to show me what a good back end looks like. This mare had a loose deep overstride like I had never seen. It was a learning experience I feel fortunate to have had. I'll never forget watching Carol takes notes after each little exercise, each tiny improvement so that she knows what to work on next time.
Colby was kind enough to take off work to watch the kids. I left him with a schedule, food prep instructions, directions, insurance cards/permission letter, cash, a car and my life. He did good for a bachelor.
We have had to let him go like only parents with adult children know how to do. We are so happy with his accomplishments, and wish so badly he would tweak and realign where we feel he is off. My heart breaks knowing I have to let go two more times. It is hard to teach my kids how to find the balance between lawless selfishness and blind obedience to authority. I don't want them to engage in self-destructive behavior but I also don't want them to succomb to black/white thinking of religionist/fascist thinking where rules become more important than loving neighbors. They are underserved both by their parents' weaknesses, and by the cacophany of voices they hear but that are from sources that don't love them.
I love them. Period.
Why does Cyler always hide in the back?
It's 2:30am. I have always been the one to fall asleep anywhere. I fell asleep once on a bale of hay with the barn dogs in back of a pickup truck on the way to Regina Canada for a horse show. But I can't sleep tonight. Is 40 when life starts to look unrecognizable from what you thought or planned it would be like?