Thursday, April 17, 2014

In which I propose to get rid of a word I don't think we need now

"I'm just a student x-ray technician," 
the young man with the kind eyes told me as he adjusted the overhead camera.

The hitch in my get-along is healing up beautifully

"I'm just a Green Bean," said a lovely woman in the Endurance 101 clinic at HOTR.

"If they'd just quit clear cutting the forests, we wouldn't have landslides like Oso."


You know what?  I want to get rid of that word.

I deeply object to a word that, in our language, gives permission for the speaker to simplify really complex stuff.

The Xray tech student pays tuition, studies hard, and shows up at the clinic five days each week, rain or shine, to gain the skills to pass the classes so that he can work at a needful job to earn a good paycheck.  That's not "just" a small thing.  That's a big thing, it's important, and it deserves to be recognized.

Green Bean riders who stick with our sport learn heaps about taking care of horses, about navigating over a variety of terrain, about pacing themselves through a long and strenuous day.  They learn about nutrition (equine and human), relationships (also equine and human), and emergencies (of all kinds).  They learn about maintaining a truck/trailer rig to keep it rolling safely over highways, local roads, and cowfields.  This is a complicated sport, and the complexity of the task for Green Beans deserves to be appreciated.

As for the Oso landslide, I invite all the yabbos who flood my inbox every day with fingerpointing accusations and simple solutions to come on out and get your boots muddy in the toxic goop that is currently covering about a mile of highway not far from Haiku Farm.  Some of that goop is twenty feet deep--in other words, it's about 2 stories tall.  And it is not "just" a combination of dirt and water, either.  The mud mixture is a terrible slurry of dirt, water, lumber, hardware, truck parts, propane tanks, fertilizer, family photos, and the bashed up remains of the people and animals who got run over by a mountain.  Finding all causes of the slide will require the a complex team of clever people who can somehow figure out which of the contributing factors finally tipped the bucket.  These factors include but aren't limited to: gravity, time, rainfall, human meddling, the movement of glaciers, and the Will of God.  There is no "just" in this puzzle, and there's no simple solution for the survivors and the recovery teams.  

If I sound a little angry, maybe I am.

If I sound like maybe I think we should stand up straight and own our learning curves, probably I do.

If I sound like I'm going to make a proposal, it's entirely possible that is exactly what I intend to do.

Here it is, the Haiku Farm challenge for the month of April:

Take the word "just" out of your vocabulary.  

Catch yourself saying it, and don't.  

Gently help those around you to get rid of the word too.

Take credit for the tough tasks you've accomplished and don't diminish the hard work you face.  

When you face down a challenge, be proud.  

When you see somebody doing something difficult, recognize it (and give a hand if you are able).

When you're tempted to simplify a complex problem, embrace the complexity and try to solve the whole thing, not just the easy part.


Not "just" a standardbred, and not "just" a total hip replacement patient aboard her.

Is this a crazy proposal?  Tell me what you think in the comments box.

Monday, April 14, 2014

In which the lyrics of John Lennon are twisted (and shouted some, too)


I'm Fifty, yeah, yeah, yeah
I'm Fifty, yeah, yeah, yeah,



I'm Fifty, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah….


Toasting with coconut rum punch with the Usual Suspects!
photo by M. Bretherton


And so this is Fifty
And what have I done?
Winter is done now
And Springtime’s just begun

Sunshine on the actual anniversary of my birth--
of COURSE I went riding!

And so this is Fifty
I hope it’s more fun
Than year forty-nine was
Being old’s not for the young!

My family came to visit, and Mom (and Luna) helped out
with our landscaping.
This is what I will look like when I grow up!

A very happy Fifty
It’s gonna be a great year
Let's hope it's a good one
With plenty of beer.

After messing around in the landscaping, we had plenty of beer!
Also, Santa Jim made elk-burgers.
Not to be confused with reindeer-burgers. Totally different.


Imagine you’ve turned Fifty
It isn't hard to do
Just keep on breathing and riding
Pretty soon you’re Fifty-two
Imagine all the people
Turning Fifty-three….



You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be Sixty-one!

...or more than 61 in the case of this pre-2008 photo of Julie Suhr
competing in endurance at the age of 76.