Wrangler Dani

Writer, editor, marketer and communication strategist. I'm also a wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl and experimental cook living in beautiful Central Oregon.

Archive for the ‘people watching’ Category

January 17th, 2017 by Dani

Writing What I Need to Hear

I usually write what I need to hear. I write about gratitude because I am so often whiny, redemption because I need it, creativity because I feel stuck, family because I know it’s important. As I write about these things, they usually come around as an encouragement to my own heart.

So I was asked to write a couple of stories this month for our local paper’s Special Projects – one on girls night out places and one on casserole/freezer meals. I’m writing about hospitality and care and friendship, warmth and long conversations and shared experience. This, friends, is what I need.

I love being a mom more than I have loved any other role I’ve ever had, but it is lonely. The hours I used to spend with a friend on a hiking trail or with my husband at a restaurant are now spent at home, chasing a toddler. We’ve had nearly six weeks of snow which means it’s hard to even get out the driveway, adding to my cabin fever. Addy won’t go to childcare and is really clinging to me – it’s the most profound feeling of love and dependence and yet I’d really like to work out or talk to a friend or get work done sometimes.

I am not complaining. This is just real life. Real life is messy and sometimes boring and sometimes lonely. Real life means that I have to put myself aside. It’s a precious burden God has given to moms, and one that we too often complain about or diminish. But here’s the kicker – we can’t do hard things alone.

A few weeks ago when we were flying back home from Texas, we were headed through TSA. They’d inexplicably changed the stroller regulations from the other bazillion times we’ve flown, and wouldn’t let us bring our stroller with us. So we were carrying two carry-ons each and a fussy toddler through a very crowded security check. I was snapped at for leaving my purse open on the belt and then the agent angrily grabbed Addy’s snack out of her hand. “She can’t have that!” As we stood at the end of the conveyor belt in our stocking feet, an agent start rifling through Addy’s backpack. “I have to check all of her toys,” she said, as Addy cried for her bottle and her baby doll and everything else that the agent was feeling up and placing on the counter. I lost it. By the time we were allowed to leave, I was sobbing and so was Addy. I was hungry, humiliated, frustrated and felt completely vulnerable. I stood outside the security checkpoint, struggling to get all of our things back into carry-ons and get Addy her snack, flustered, crying, as Adam tried to help. I saw a woman out of the corner of my eye, and, surprisingly, she came right up to me and gave me a hug. “It’s OK mama,” she said. “You’re doing good. You’ve got this.” I wasn’t even able to process that I was being hugged by a complete stranger in an international airport – at that moment, she was the angel I needed, and I just sobbed.

She hugged me for a moment, then patted me on the shoulder and went to reunite with her husband and kids, as I sniffled and gathered up my things. I was embarrassed that a stranger had noticed my emotion (who wants to be the teary mom in the TSA line?) but more than anything, I wanted to be her. I don’t know if she is always that forward with strangers in need, or if God just moved her heart at that moment, but I want to be like that.

Friends this is a hard season. I bet you are tired, no matter where you are right now – motherhood, wifehood, singleness, dating, working – life is tiring. I am tired. I don’t know how to get my baby to nap without laying on me. I am trying to figure out how to balance life and work and dreams and finances and motherhood and friendship and marriage. I need you, and maybe you need me, just as I needed that beautiful fellow mom in the Dallas airport.

Today I just want to tell you that you are doing good. You’ve got this. Even when you feel like you have screwed up for the last time or like you might get lost in your own mind (what Elizabeth Gilbert calls the “bad neighborhood” of your consciousness) I want to be there for you.

As always I am writing about the thing I need. I need friendship. I need intimacy and courage. I need to be in your corner, cheering you on, and I need you in mine. Maybe together we can change how this season feels. Maybe the harsh agent at the TSA line would change her tune if she saw us holding each other’s babies and carry-ons and giving hugs to strangers. Maybe this is how we change the world.

November 9th, 2016 by Dani

What I will tell my children (Election 2016)

We got a new president in 2016, kids, just as we had for 44 election cycles before. It’s a pretty neat thing, actually, and it happens every 4 or 8 years, depending on whether or not We the People think the President deserves another term in office. The United States of America, unlike many other countries in the world, has peaceful, free elections. We transfer power within parties peacefully, without coups, riots or civil wars. We also don’t have a king or queen, which means that this President, like him or loathe him, will be gone soon enough.

When people vote, we often get wrapped up in the candidate we support or don’t. In 2016, Daddy and I voted for neither major candidate – that’s one of the many lovely rights we have as American citizens – to protest the status quo with our vote and our voice. After the election, a lot of people were scared, confused and upset. A lot of people were very happy. Others were sad, because they had voted for what they believed was the lesser of two evils, which isn’t a very good feeling.

But do you know what the truth is, in all of this? America is a great nation because America is us. Not just our family but all of us. We the People get to decide how to move forward, and sometimes, because we’re people, we make mistakes. But we try to believe in our ideals – the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to speak our minds and vote our conscience and dream big.

Our job is to be kind, when others are upset. When I was a little girl I remember being very nervous about the outcome of elections, but I am not anymore. Because we are more than our leaders, and we are not defined by politics. Out job is to love God and our neighbor, to give generously and act justly, to love mercy and live in hope. In 2016 I knew that God was in control and that America was still my beautiful country, my promised land, full of fascinating, wonderful, hard-working people who I am honored to call my fellow Americans, no matter who they voted for. My dear kids – my beautiful, wonderful, unique and precious children – do not squander the life you’ve been given or the country you’ve inherited. Never forget how to love someone who disagrees with you, how to keep eternal perspective in mind, and that you get to choose – not just a President, because sometimes that doesn’t flop your way – but who you’ll be in every circumstance, how you’ll lead and how you’ll live. I pray for you, that you surprise the world with your love and your God-given gifts, no matter what happens in politics or in the world.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” -Jesus (John 13:34)

August 19th, 2016 by Dani

Being Needed

Yesterday morning, Adelay and I went to Costco. This is a regular occurrence for us, and Addy knows the drill: eat graham crackers, smile at passers-by, kick feet out of cart-holes and chillax. She has the best life. Anyway, we were checking out and this elderly lady decided to make friends with Addy. She finally coaxed her into a rousing game of peek-a-boo and Addy really turned on the charm, laughing and covering her nose with her short little fingers (she doesn’t quite realize that the point of the game is to cover one’s eyes). It was super cute and it made everyone in the check-out a little happier, to see this little friendship blooming between a lady in her 70’s and a one-year-old.

After we checked out, Addy and I waved good-bye to our new friend and she said to me, “this made my day! Thanks for letting me play with her and feel needed.”

I thought that was a strange thing to say. But my cart was filled with the stuff of a young family: milk and cereal and a fleece pajama set for my girl, while hers had a few single-serving dinners and not much else. I don’t know anything about her life (she just played with my daughter for a minute in the Costco check-out, after all). But as I drove home I found myself thinking about feeling needed, and feeling sadness for this lady I don’t know, that she doesn’t feel that way.

I like to be needed. (Doesn’t everyone?) I like it when my friends call because they want to hear what I’ll say to news or a dilemma, I like it when my husband asks my opinion, I like it when Addy stretches out her arms to me with a little “hmmmmm?”

But the dilemma of motherhood is this: it’s so lovely to be needed, and yet there’s just SO much need! Can you need me for hugs and snuggles and then happily play alone while I do dishes? Can you need me a little less before I’ve had coffee, or a little more when I’m feeling insecure and lonely?

Need is needy. It pulls and pushes at me when I feel cranky and overworked, then it drifts away and I suddenly miss it, just when I thought I really needed a break.

It’s easy to feel small and silly, to wonder if my life matters or feel bluesy about the state of the world. But then need rumbles me out of my funk and gives me hope. Because if I’m needed by this little pigtail-wearing blueberry-munching girl, or if I’m needed by friends or family or church or home or work, then that’s all that matters, isn’t it? God didn’t give us these little lives to make us crazy, he gave them to us because the daily work of life really matters – the picking up of fussy kids and the smiling in the Costco line and even the answering of emails – it matters.

I’m so grateful to be needed. When I feel tired and grouchy, I will remind myself about the lady in the checkout line, who’s day was made by a five-minute encounter with the little person who I get to share life with, who I get to be needed by. May I never forget, this endless need is an enormous gift.

December 14th, 2015 by Dani

Thoughts from “The Messiah”

Saturday was my 32nd birthday, and my sweet husband showed his absolute devotion and studliness by taking me to a three-hour opera to celebrate. I love Handel’s Messiah, but have never heard it live, and our little 1940’s-era theater downtown was hosting a performance.

It was a magical evening and I left feeling very inspired – not only because the music and singing was incredible, although it was. I was inspired that our little town of 100,000 people has a group of 40 or so “mastersingers” who devote their free time to being really good at opera. It’s an odd hobby for a Central Oregonian, in a place that values exertion over art, and the latest trendy vibe over 250-year-old songs of Christendom; yet here is a broad swath of humanity – young, old, light, dark, male, female – who are all excellent at their craft and share it unabashedly with us. The musicians must spend hours and hours practicing an odd instrument – the oboe or the upright bass – just so that when the time comes they may lend their skill to something really beautiful. They get their names in the program but no spotlight, no payment or other recognition for their art. All we know is that we would miss them if they weren’t there, that the music would not be as beautiful without their labor.

The world is a scary place, sometimes, and it’s easy to feel small and foolish in my little pursuits of beauty. I want to say something inspiring and honest, and yet I even scoff at my own ambition. Who am I to dare to believe that my creativity could make the world better, brighter? Do I really believe that a world of refugees and war needs my voice?

But I watched a beautiful woman with long gray hair pulled back in a sensible bun step forward and give the most earnest sonata I’ve ever heard, just because she can, because her heart would burst if she didn’t. I watched a young man clear his throat before his solo, straightening the bowtie of his tuxedo and holding his sheet music book just so, devoted to excellence despite his nerves. They dared to believe that their art could make the world a better place, that singing a 250-year-old chorus in a 75-year-old theater could matter.

The program had a quote from George Frederic Handel, which said, “I should be sorry if I only entertained them, I wish to make them better.” It seems to me that watching “The Messiah” was our attempt at being better. We are beating back the night with beauty, giving standing ovations for earnest solos and small-town violinists, reminding ourselves that “unto us a child is born” and this is indeed a reason to create, to rejoice, to sing with fervor and to give each other hope.


 

February 27th, 2015 by Dani

Why Hospitality Matters: the Church

I told you yesterday about why hospitality matters so deeply to me. Today, I’m going to tell you some stories about church and hospitality, so gird your loins.

After we got married, Adam and I attended a church in our city for about six months. We went with some friends who were also church-hunting, and we never met another soul. Oh, there were people on the patio after the service and there was donuts and coffee, but no one said hi to us, no events were planned where we could get to know anyone – the church was quite comfortable for those in the club, but the rest of us treated it like a movie theater rather than a family gathering – buy your ticket, sit in your seat, leave quietly as the credits roll and talk about whether or not you liked it on the way home.

Our friends invited us to attend a new campus of the church where we met, and after one service we decided to switch churches. This church was tiny, with a video screen presentation of the “big campus” sermon. It was in an old movie theater with a skeleton staff – but there was a feeling of hospitality there, and we all became fast friends. Adam and I started cleaning up after services and producing the service itself. We operated the lights, cleaned the storage rooms, led a small group. We quickly realized that “young couples” like ourselves had very little opportunity to get to know one another, and so we started a young couples group (married people without kids), which honestly was just us inviting people out to lunch. We remembered what it felt like to stand silently in corners and we were determined to not let anyone else feel ignored on our watch. This grew and morphed until it became a full-blown marriage ministry, but you know all of this and I don’t need to get into it. The important part of this story is that our church was our living room. We were on the prowl for couples around our age, and if we saw one walk in to the foyer, we introduced them to others we knew. We got people coffee and answered questions and we never let a couple stand alone on the edge of the foyer without walking up and introducing ourselves. The church was OUR church, and no one was going to sit alone if we could help it.

When we moved to Bend, the only people we knew here did something very similar. They invited us to their church, had us over for bar-be-ques and introduced us to other couples. Without their generous hospitality, our first year in Bend would have been lonely beyond words.

I am not shy by nature but the church is an intimidating place to enter.

However, hospitality is vital to the church (even though it’s not often treated that way), and I recently experienced a couple of instances when the church was treated more like a DMV waiting area than a living room. When someone walks into your home, do you expect them to find the kitchen and bathroom by themselves, and let them stand awkwardly in the entryway while you go about your business? What about an acquaintance – do you push past them as they stand on your front porch, or do you make eye contact and say hello? Of course, in our homes we would never be rude or dismissive to a guest, and we would explain what’s going on (we’re having dinner, come on in!). Church should be treated in the same way. There should not be an announcement from the stage that is not explained, nor a person who’s not introduced. Even if we each just focused on our own age group or life-stage as Adam and I used to do, walking up to young couples in the foyer and introducing ourselves, what a difference it would make! What if you took it upon yourself to welcome just one person to your church? What if you put aside your own insecurity and said hi to the person you kindof know, making a real connection?

Guys, the mission of the church is not to be a club of right answers. Some of us have been so indoctrinated that the church is a “soul-hospital” that the only people we notice are those obviously in need of care – the homeless man, the lady crying in the front row – and so ignore the people who are walking in with less obvious needs.

We used to call churches a “church family” – does anyone do that anymore? I remember in the little country church I grew up in, visitors received about 20 handshakes and a well-meaningĀ interrogation before the first hymn was sung. It was a tiny church, and is still a tiny church, doing low-tech services at 10:10 on Sunday mornings. (No one knows why it’s at 10:10, but don’t you dare mess with tradition!) But that church was and is a church family, and they taught me how to be hospitable, a lesson that I carried into a large, well-staffed megachurch in California and now here to Bend.

God is not limited by our failures, and he can work in and through our weaknesses, but he also calls us the Bride of Christ. Have you ever seen a bride dourly sitting in a corner at her own wedding reception? Can you imagine a beautiful girl in a white dress, in love with her husband and surrounded by family and friends, who will only talk to her maid of honor and no one else, who neglects to smile at her guests or hug her friends? Of course not – we would assume that such a wedding is not much of a wedding, we would consider how to help her, and wonder if she’s even in love with her new husband at all.

On our wedding day, our love for our spouse makes us friends with the world. We are bouyed by his love – normally shy girls find themselves tossing the bouquet with flair and hugging their guests with joy! I remember wearing my wedding dress, walking into the hotel bar on our wedding night and getting loud cheers from strangers – I didn’t feel awkward at all! I was deeply in love and the happiest girl on planet Earth in that moment.

Friends, let’s treat our churches like a groom in white, like a living room or a kitchen with the tea kettle on. Let’s hug freely and laugh easily. Let’s love each other like we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Let’s be generous. Let’s be hospitable.

January 6th, 2015 by Dani

You don’t have to “get it”

I often hear from other adoptive families that the people in their life don’t “get it” – “it” being the unique struggles and emotions of adoption. I know how it feels to be misunderstood or unsupported, but I wonder if our language is what’s keeping some people in our lives from being as supportive as we wish.

A dear friend of mine lost her mom recently after several years of battling breast cancer. Her life right now holds a pain that I do not “get”. My mom and mother(s)-in-law are happy and healthy, I have never experienced anyone close to me dying of cancer, I have not been in the endless doctor’s appointments, treatments and somber meetings in hospitals that Donna has endured. Does this stop me from supporting her, loving her, crying with her?

No, Adam can tell you that more than once I have been found crying in the kitchen, aching for my friend and her family, wishing I could do something more than just get teary or send flowers. I do not “get” her precise situation, but I love her dearly and so I call, I write, I text. I reach out because it’s all I can do. I know that one of these days we’ll go to a chick flick together and laugh until our sides ache, lay out by a pool somewhere or buy each other glasses of wine in a cozy restaurant booth, because that’s what girlfriends do. Someday, the intense pain of this season will pass and we’ll go back to talking about shoes and jobs and hobbies. This is a gnarly time in her life that I do not “get”, but I know how to be a friend. I know how to send flowers and cards, I know how to pick up the phone, I know how to invite out to a movie, buy a latte or crack a joke when we’ve run out of tears and we need to lighten up already.

You know how to do these things too. You know how to support your friend who’s miscarried, your friend who lost someone, your friend whose heart breaks because their adoption process is slow, tedious and painful. The hard stuff is intimidating for everybody, including your friend who’s in the middle of it, so don’t let that stop you.

I guess this is what I’m trying to say: you don’t have to “get it”. You can’t possibly “get it”, and we shouldn’t expect that of each other. Friends who are in difficult seasons – no matter what it is – let’s stop demanding that the people in our lives “get it” and let’s be grateful for the care they send our way, even if it’s imperfect.

One of my favorite lines from A Christmas Carol says: “I have always thought of Christmas time, when it comes round, as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

Even though Christmas is over and we are racing headlong into 2015, we are still fellow passengers. We can sit silently by our dingy window on the overcrowded train of life, moping about how no one “gets it”, or we can begin a chat with our seat-mate, share our iPod with the guy behind us, clap along when someone bursts into song or cry along when someone gets off the train too soon.

You don’t have to “get it”. All I ask is that you hold my hand when the road gets rocky, and I promise to hold yours too, whether I “get it” or not.

August 27th, 2013 by Dani

Church Campout

When I was a teenager, our church started doing an “All-Church Campout” every year during Labor Day weekend. It was a little country church, and that meant that literally the ENTIRE church went camping – young, old, trailers, tents – you name it, it was there. For the young’uns, it was a dream come true – an swath of lakeside real estate filled with friends, church services outside and dinners served on paper plates around a campfire. I remember our pastor scrambling eggs every morning on a his industrial-sized Coleman stove and my mom attempting (in vain) to get him to burn the bacon for her.

Our killer campsite. Photo by my hubs.

Our killer campsite. Photo by my hubs.

It must be an Oregonian thing to do, because our new church also has “Summer Camp” every year at a lake and it happened last weekend. It’s a bit bigger than the church of my youth, so we actually had a kitchen and a dining hall rather than an assortment of Colemans and a fire pit, but the idea is the same. The church gets together in the woods for some clean-air, dirty fingernails time, and fun ensues.

It’s neat to see “church” happen in a place that is its own cathedral – towering pines and the massive expanse of clear lake water remind us all that we are less important than we usually think. Amidst the rowdy kids’ games and good-natured teasing, there’s an undercurrent of grace and joy that you can’t find anywhere else, except in a community of believers. I admit I was nervous to go, since we don’t know that many people and I worried about awkwardly standing around the edges, clinging to a cup of coffee – but I made it through without being too awkward and I think we might have even made some friends. Social interaction for the WIN!

Adam and I took the kayaks and impressed a few people with the wonders of Hobie (yes, it’s our party trick) and when the wind kicked up in the afternoon, we took them out for a rowdy paddle in the waves. All in all, we had a great weekend. It was a good reminder, after all of my uncertainty, that we can see God at work in more than one community, and that our new story can hold just as much love as the old still does.

May 13th, 2013 by Dani

In the hunt. (The church-hunt, that is.)

Before we moved, I sat in the last few services we attended at Mariners MV and cried. I knew, deep down in my gut, that leaving that church would be the hardest part of moving. It had become home, family, friends, community. It was where we served, where we stayed late to chat, the jumping-off point for spontaneous adventures with dear friends. I felt like part owner, or at least manager of it – I took it upon myself to invite, welcome, clean up after and be a working, helping, loving part of the community there for so long.

So now we’re on the hunt again, and I admit that I’m having a bit of a struggle with it. The first church we attended felt so different – it was so small and so very unlike the well-trained fiesta of Mariners – that I was ashamed to find myself sniffling in the worship, not because my thoughts were inclining toward the holy, but because my eyes were well-focused on my own navel. For the first time, I realized a lonely, heart-wrenching fear that the family we’d found at Mariners was indeed the proverbial lightning in a bottle.

Since that first (rough) try at church-shopping, I’ve been wrestling with what corporate faith means for my internal beliefs. After all, I know that there are plenty of people who insist that the church is their hang-up, not their hope – that they’d believe in Jesus someday if he didn’t have so many lousy followers. For me, it’s the opposite: the strength of others’ faith, the level of their grace, the love I’ve experienced in the name of God has only driven me closer to him. But this poses a question for me, in my season of quiet, lonely following. Do I still believe without the faith of my church family to bolster me and remind me of God’s goodness? Am I reliant on the corporate, outward expressions of faith, and the ones I’m comfortable with (the loud worship, the well-spoken pastor, the seamlessly organized campus) or can I still live out my calling in Christ without those trappings? What is acceptable personal preference and what is me being snobby and ungracious about my needs, selfishly refusing to see the hurt around me as I wallow?

God is not limited by space and distance. He is the same faithful Father I felt so easily when his people prayed for us and selflessly helped us move for an entire weekend, the still, small voice telling me that we weren’t crazy to try a new life, that He was with us. He is the same God that is prayed to in these tiny country churches and services in the high school gym, where everything is smaller except for who He is.

So I’m asking Him for courage and faith, for grace and wisdom. I’m navigating a minefield of emotion, but I look to the future with excitement. What will He do with my lonely times, with my need, with my desires?

March 13th, 2013 by Dani

Watching the Vatican

I’m a cynic. I’m the one who asks the Devil Advocate questions, who snorts at simple answers, who absolutely rejects chain-letters and sappy news stories and nearly every hard-luck tale. (I’m not proud of this, by the way. Just being honest.)

So, I surprised myself when I cried this morning as they announced the new Pope at the Vatican. There are thousands of people packed into the courtyard, millions more all over the world, leaning into radios and TVs to watch the proceedings and listen as Pope Francis 1 makes his first blessing. Thousands of voices reciting “Our Father” and “Ave Maria” together.

There’s a lot of cynicism in my heart, and even more in the world. There are people making cracks about how the Catholic priests are just a bunch of child molesters, how religion doesn’t mean anything, how much the Catholic church gets wrong. I think it does get some things wrong, but it also does a lot right.

Papacy is a tradition that’s carried on for almost a thousand years. “Our Father” was given by Jesus two thousand years ago. I can’t be cynical about something that has stayed true for so long – I think about my grandmother, how she would have gotten teary-eyed too at this moment, how despite her toughness she was a softy for the Catholic church, for living her life in a way that honored God. I see the faces on the TV of people from all over the world, waving the flags of their country and crying out their gratitude to God for a new leader.

It’s really a beautiful thing. My cynicism is melting away in the face of this optimism and faith, and it feels good.

 

February 24th, 2013 by Dani

A Day at the Races

I felt like I should be wearing sensible, closed-toed heels, a just below-the-knee skirt and a silken kerchief knotted around my neck. It was sunny, clear, perfect: 65 degrees in February, this is the weather that has made L.A. both famous and famously overpopulated. Tall palm trees swayed in the foreground, the San Gabriel mountains rose up in the background, green from recent rain.

Around me were scraps of paper everywhere, dropped idly by old men with thick, brown hands, old ball caps or fedoras and either a pen or a cigarette clenched in their teeth. I actually picked one up and tried to hand it back to one old character, thinking he’d dropped it from his oil-stained hands by mistake, but he waved me off, “it’s no good” he laughed. Adam told me that bad bets just get discarded on the ground, but I had to walk to a forlorn trashcan anyway – like a true child of the new millenia, I couldn’t bring myself to carelessly litter.

Despite the inherent dirtiness, (we are surrounded by million-dollar livestock, after all, and there are a few obviously addicted gamblers twitching in the corners and mumbling at the TVs) there’s a pleasant air about the whole place. How could there not be? This is Santa Anita, where Charles Howard believed in his weird-looking yearling and overweight jockey and made racing history. This is the legendary track of heroes and athletes, long odds and incredible comebacks.

Horse racing, despite the money and movie magic, is a primal sport. It’s the simplest of all human competitions, a race. Kids in rural outposts across the country race their ponies from fenceline to fenceline – as adults, we simply drape the whole affair in silk, raise the stakes and go to whooping, hollering and enjoying the speed as much as we did back then.

I guess it’s appropriate to think of childhood at Santa Anita. The whole place feels like a memory, from the kindly bookies in bowties behind wooden windows, paying out the long line of scribbled bets; to the dull mint green paint on the clubhouse walls, the worn enamel stairs and the decades-old tin signs pointing visitors to “paddocks” “turf” and “winner’s circle”. It’s a hearkening back to a simple pleasure, a return to competition that is won and lost with guts, instinct and an intimate knowledge of how a horse thinks, moves, works. In many ways, it’s a way of preserving what might otherwise become a lost art. Seeing as how the clientele was overwhelmingly elderly and male, I wondered if I was alone in caring about its preservation.

But then I saw her, black ponytail bouncing as she struggled to see over the fence onto the track. “Which one is my horse, Papa?” She asked, voice tight with excitement. He was a pearl-snap and blue jeans Grandpa, and had obviously spent many a Sunday afternoon watching horse races. He picked her up with strong hands and set her on the rail, tiny pink velcro shoes dangling only a few feet from the starting line. “You have number five,” he explained. “We bet on this one because…” his voice was drowned out by the buzzer and the immediate ejecti0n of churning horses and taut jockeys, hooves pounding and dirt flying, power and beauty in motion. She clapped her hands with excitement, amazed. I couldn’t help myself – I was clapping too.


Photo by my super-talented Hubs.