Thanksgiving at Home

As I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with the family today, I thought back to the one time when I was alone on this holiday.  It was back in 2006 (November 23rd) when I was living in Washington DC for my internship.  I was there from September though December.  I had my own apartment with a full kitchen which was different from the majority of the other interns who lived in dormitories with nothing more than a microwave.

Many were going to fly home for the Thanksgiving holiday and were given time off.  My co-intern-worker was going home to get married.  I didn’t make plans to go home for a few reasons.  1. I don’t fly and it takes the train 24 hours to get there and then 24 hours back so I’d actually be spending most of my Thanksgiving weekend on the train if I did that.  Sure I wouldn’t have minded because I love the train, but kind of pointless to do considering my internship would conclude three weeks later.   2.  The Money $.  My internship was unpaid so to purchase a round trip, first class ticket for 4 days would be beyond my budget.  My family understood and we had discussed it long before.

My sister knows how much I love Milwaukee pickles.  She was thoughtful enough to ship me a jar of pickles as a treat.  It was such a luxury from home.  

I hadn’t made many friends in the first 2 months I had been in DC so it was a really lonely time.  The other interns I was friends with weren’t very tight and was more contained to work time.  The entire internship away from home was the longest time I had ever been away and I thought that would be really difficult, but in reality I had managed pretty well, up to Thanksgiving.  I felt really really low.  

I was doing a good job in eating well, even though my pantry was limited.  On the side of a stuffing box I found a recipe for a turkey casserole so I decided I would go with that for my holiday meal.  It consisted of cubed turkey (similar to a pot pie), mixed with soup, vegetables and topped with the stuffing.  It was a delicious entree that took a long time to make and only 10 minutes to eat.  I don’t recall having any dessert, but I was enjoying dipping pretzels in chocolate frosting every other day.  

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I tried to stave off my loneliness by spending the morning visiting the Smithsonian museums, which had limited morning and afternoon hours.  At least then I was around people.  Albeit they were people of families and friends celebrating together and I was all by my self.  When you think about it, Friday was another day I was going to be alone.  Why did have to be so different because I was alone on Thursday??  I don’t know why it happens but it does.

So this Thanksgiving, I look back on that year and remind myself how much I appreciate having my family surrounding me at the dinner table tonight.  I’m thankful for having so much food that I couldn’t eat it all, I’m thankful for the spider having been killed in the basement before it turned into a national incident and thankful for all the laughter and jokes at the table.  It doesn’t have to be big things all the time.   Sure the list can go on and one for all the things that I am thankful for, but here and now, these small things make all the difference.  

Happy Thanksgiving All.  

 

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Maggie’s Hollywood ! !

Hollywood Sign

I recently returned from a 2-week vacation to the west coast.  One week was spent in California and the second week was spent in Las Vegas with a friend.  When I was in California I had the opportunity to do only  a very little star searching as I only spent a few hours in Los Angeles and Hollywood.  Hardly significant time to get the full effect.

I spent over an hour pacing up and down the sidewalk taking pictures of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This is a list of all the starts I took.  The most important to me were of course The Monkees, Kermit, Jim Henson and the Muppets.  It was also neat to find all the stars for the cast of The Dick Van Dyke show (one of my all time favorites).

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Here is a full list of Walk of  Fame Stars that I took pictures of:

Hollywood Walk of Fame Stars

Halle Berry
Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford
Donald Trump
Jerry Lewis
Jackie Chan
Gilda Radner
Edgar Bergen
Tony Curtis
Telly Savalas
Bert Lancaster
Jan & Mickey Rooney
Vivien Leigh
Ray Charles
BB King
Lindsay Wagner
Bing Crosby
Sally Field
Will Ferrell
Rosanne
Sammy Kaye
Eddie Cantor
Ingrid Bergman
Kermit
Mellisa Etheridge
William Shatner
Glenn Miller
The Munchkins
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Elton John
Jack Nicholson
Micky Mouse
Herb Alpert
Hugh Jackman
Paul Williams
Pen & Teller
Phyllis Diller
Bugs Bunny
Alfred Hitchcock
Dick Van Dyke
Randy Travis
Nicolas Cage
James Doohan
Charlie Sheen
Brooks & Dunn
Ricardo Montalban
Bob Hope
Big Bird
Patrick Stewart
Richard Dreyfuss
DeForest Kelley
Kelsey Grammer
Cindy Williams
Penny Marshall
Michael J. Fox
Mary Tyler Moore
The Simpsons
Charles M. Schulz
Walt Disney
John Denver
Ray Parker Jr.
Sidney Poitier
Rose Marie
Don Knotts
George & Ira Gershwin
Irving Berlin
Spanky McFarland
Elvis
The Beatles
Kiss
Clint Black
Etta James
Charles Champlin
New Kids On The Block
Stan Lee
Ethel Merman
Tom Hanks
Vivian Vance
Jerry Stiller & Anne Mera
Woody Woodpecker
Chuck Norris
Tony Danza
Lionel Hampton
Ted Turner
Alice Cooper
The Mills Brothers
Jean Harlow
Hans Zimmer
Burgess Meredith
Morey Amsterdam
Rod Serling
Ron Howard
The Muppets
Garry Marshall
Linda Evans
Ray Bolger
Steve McQueen
Danny Kaye
Winnie the Pooh
The Andrew Sisters
Spencer Tracy
Claudette Colbert
Ozzy Osboure
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Judy Garland
Adam West
Fred Astaire
Ella Fitzgerald
George M Cohan
Bob Barker
Ed Harris
Sylvester Stallone
James Cameron
Bob Eubanks
Herb Jeffries
George Burns
Gracie Allen
John Lithgow
Guy Lombardo
Burnett
Boris Karloff
Raymond Bur
Peter Falk
Errol Flynn
Jack Benny
Rip Taylor
Al Jolson
Frank Capra
Will Rogers
Jamie Lee Curtis
Mister Rogers
Dr. Seuss
Pee-Wee Herman
Orson Wells
Frank Sinatra
Alfred Hitchcock
James Cagney
Jim Henson
Perry Como
Nichelle Nichols
Tommy Dorsey
The Monkees
George Takei
Gene Roddenberry
Harry James
George Reeves
Betty White
Allen Ludden

I did visit Grouman’s Chinese Theater (now known as TCL Chinese Theather).  If given the opportunity I would have photographed all the prints and autographs in cement, but there were tons of other tourists milling about and their feet were covering much of what I wanted to photograph.  I felt kind of naive in that the first cement slab I wanted to find was John Wayne because of the famous I Love Lucy episode where she stole it and then tried several times to replace it.  To my slight disappointment…. John Wayne’s slab did not look like the one on Lucy.  I don’t know what I was thinking  🙂  Here’s a slide show of a sampling of stars

 

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The other bit of star gazing I did was actually in a cemetery.  I have visited cemeteries in the past as a vacation destination for Presidents (Washington, Lincoln, Fillmore, Wilson, Kennedy) and for historical figures (some local history, some general American history), but I had never been to a “celebrity” grave site before.  While Forest Lawn is the place most associated with Hollywood, I had no plans for that plot of land.  I wanted to “see”  and pay my respects to 2 pretty significant people in my life; and those being Richard Dawson and Bob Crane.  How fitting that they were both buried in the same place.  I’m a big planner when I go on vacation so I had a list of internment’s and a general idea of where they were located.

I started out at the top of the cemetery and began walking up and down the rows one by one.  The first gravestone I saw was for Don Knotts.  His had so many engraved pictures from his most memorable roles.  It read, “He saw the poignancy in people’s pride and pain and turned it into something hilarious and endearing.  He will always be Deptuy Fife to me.  ❤

I walked further and saw Mel Torme, Eva Gabor, Natalie Wood and Louis Jourdan before I found Bob Crane’s grave.  I had seen what the stone looked like on the internet before, but when it sneaks up on you like that, I was surely taken by surprise.  It was if I had actually been standing before him because just like other celebrities I got real nervous and quickly took a picture and moved on before I started crying.  His had a nice poem at the bottom. The stone was divided in two sections, his on the left and his last wife Sigrid Valdis on the right.

I found other memorials for Karl Malden, Walter Matthau, Merv Griffin, Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Lemmon, Carroll O’Connor (A favorite of mine), Peter Falk, Jim Backus (Mr. Howell !!!!) , Marilyn Monroe (fans kiss her grave stone leaving lipstick marks) and Jack Klugman (another one of my favorites).  I stood there perplexed that I couldn’t find what I was looking for.  I stepped under a tree and pulled out my phone to connect to the internet to try and figure out where Richard was placed.

All I had to work off of was a picture.  I could see a white building in the background, a sideways facing bench and 2 planted pots.  I felt like I was looking at a treasure map.  With those clues in hand I was about ready to put my phone in my pocket when I got a text message….. I’m sure I’ve mentioned (if you haven’t already heard it) that my text tone is Richard Dawson calling my name 3 times.

The entire time I was in the cemetery, there was a woman sitting next (and talking) to a grave at the very edge of the park so I had been courteous not to go over in that area.  (This cemetery has both regular and Hollywood graves)  I took my clues and headed in that near direction.  I found the bench, I saw the pots not far ahead.  And then two steps in front of me I found what I was looking for.

I knelt down in shock and before I knew it, my head was in my hands and I was sobbing.  It was like the reality of him not being here anymore had sunk in.  There was no one there to give me a kiss, hold my hand to  make me feel calm.  After a few minutes and leaving my own memorial, I stood up and did what I could to wipe my eyes and nose with my shirt.  I could see Bob from where I was standing and that made me smile so I walked back over there again with more confidence.  It was getting late in the morning, as I had a reservation to go horseback riding in the Hollywood hills so I had to leave.

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It wasn’t my intention, but on the last day of my vacation, a week later, I decided I had to come back one more time.  Not so much to find the other celebrities that I didn’t see the first time such as Dean Martin, but to say goodbye one more time.  This time I was able to walk directly over to Richard’s grave.  Bob’s was a bit more challenging as the sprinkler was on and despite my attempt to dodge it, I got soaked.

Here is a short montage of the photos I took at the cemetery

 

Game Show Fever

One of my favorite genres on TV is game shows.  It’s debatable today as to if some reality TV can be considered Game Shows.  But here I’m talking about genuine flashing light sets with contestants wild for prizes and cash money.

I have such memories of coming home from grade school and watching the Richard Dawson episodes of Family Feud during dinner.  I’m not sure what it was that made me like it so much (at age 7 it wasn’t Richard yet) because being that young, it wasn’t a game I could really play along with.  It might have been the way the board would ding and flip to reveal the answers because I like that better than the modern computer animated board. 

 

The brown was my favorite suit color 🙂 Soooooooooooo cute !!!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

 When I was a kid my favorite 1980’s and early 90’s game shows were (and still are),

  1. Family Feud
  2. Press Your Luck
  3. Concentration (Another Alex Trebek show where you have to match items and solve a picture puzzle)
  4. Double Dare (definitely marketed for kids)
  5. Bumper Stumpers (License plates with the weird spellings)
  6. Supermarket Sweep (Running through the store grabbing merchandise)
  7. Joker’s Wild (Just liked it for the giant slot machine thing)
  8. Tic-Tac-Dough
  9. Win, Lose Or Draw
  10. Card Sharks (as an adult watching re-runs it’s not cool of a game, but something you could play with your own deck of cards at home)
  11. $25,000 Pyramid
  12. Wheel of Fortune
  13. Jeopardy
  14. The Price is Right

It’s hard to rank Jeopardy and The Price is Right because they are so timeless, but I couldn’t leave them off the list.  I’ll watch them any chance I get.

Brett Somers

Charles Nelson Reilly

Richard Dawson

These days I would have to add The Match Game to my favorite list as I only started watching it, and became addicted, 4 years ago and it’s from the 1970’s. I watch it everyday on The Game Show Network.  If I’m not yelling out the standard answer to Dumb Dora was so dumb—-“HOW DUMB WAS SHE ???” at least once a night, my family will think something ‘s wrong with me.

Richard Dawson, Bret Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and host Gene Rayburn

Newer game shows I liked were

  • The Weakest Link
  • Trump Card
  • Hollywood Squares
  • Lingo
  • Cash Cab
  • Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader

Shows like Deal or No Deal, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and Minute to Win It were good when they came out, but soon got boring, OVER dramatic, somewhat drawn out and they changed the format.

 

 

My favorite all time game show hosts are hands down, Richard Dawson and Alex Trebek.  When I was a little girl I had a big crush on Peter Tomarkan, but now it’s all about Richard Dawson.

 

 

 

 

As for notable contestants, I watched Ken Jennings win every day on Jeopardy and I was rooting for him too.  I wish those episodes would be released on DVD.  I asked Ken Jennings one time, via email, about that.  He replied that he wasn’t sure many people would want to watch that.

Jeopardy Host Alex Trebek and Ken Jennings

Trivia games are popular because the viewers at home can play along and feel just as smart at the contestants on TV.  I wouldn’t exactly call Press Your Luck home viewer engaging, but I was drawn to it because of the cute little Whammys that would steal all the contestant’s money.

I said I rooted for Ken Jennings on Jeopardy, but sometimes contestants who win too much money can be seen as villains.  I think this guy might fit that bill.  His name was Michael Larson and he was a Press Your Luck contestant who found a way to memorize the pattern of the board in order to avoid the Whammy.  He racked up a massive amount of money compared to what other daily winners got.

There’s a really good special which dissects how he did it and how his opponents felt about it. (video below) The documentary called “Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal” was made 20 years after the incident happened and it shows the entire episode, which was only shown on TV once.

In my opinion he most definitely cheated. It’s cheating when you don’t play the game in the manner in which it was intended– randomly.  You can’t go to Vegas and count cards and not be prosecuted for it.  If he was going to beat the system he should have been able to land on more than 2 spots–at least that way he might not have been caught.

Watch the video and let me know in the comments below if you think he was a cheater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks a lot ! The blog post wasn’t that bad, Charles.

Act II Scene I

Last year, I started attending theater performances on a somewhat regular basis.  I became a subscriber to the local Repertory theater.  As a child, I can recall taking only two field-trips in school to see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and then in High School we saw the Will Rogers Follies at the Fireside Dinner Theater.  These days, I always see school buses in front of the Performing Arts Center, and that’s great considering so many arts programs are threatened to be cut from school curriculum.

I saw my largest production to date, which was a play called Ragtime and the smallest production ever, which was a one woman play called The Belle of Amherst.  Both performances were amazing on different levels.  (I won’t describe the entire plot and details of each of the plays I mention here) Ragtime had great revolving and moving sets, with a large cast, music so good that I bought the CD.  Most of the musical numbers had multi cast members participating.   Conversely, The Belle of Amherst had one set, no costume changes or music.  What amazed me was the amount of dialogue the actress had to memorize.  The play is about Emily Dickinson and how she had become very anti-social.

Jenny Wanasek portrays Emily Dickinson in Renaissance Theaterworks’ “The Belle of Amherst.” Photo by Ross Zentner jsonline.com

I have to tell you that I found the The Belle of Amherst by accident as it was not at the Repertory Theater, but at the Renaissance Theater Works.  The mailroom is located in my department at work.  So many times, dead-letter items end up in my mail box with my name scrawlled across the top.  I found a newsletter with just such a fate one day.  I think because there was a boat on it, it was directed to me.  I was looking through the pamphlet and came across people who had donated money and to what.  Browsing the names I came across a company who donated to this play.  I had wanted to see what it was, not because I am a big fan of Emily Dickinson, but because I knew that during his lifetime Charles Nelson Reilly had spent a lot of time working on the production in the 70’s.  I truly enjoyed it. 

Probably the most interesting play I have attended was in 2005 at the Legendary Ford’s Theater in Washington DC.  (The same place that President Lincoln was assassinated in.)  It was called Big River about Huckleberry Finn.  What was different was that the man who played Huck Finn was deaf and the entire time on stage he had another actor doing the speaking while he signed his lines.  It didn’t take long before you didn’t even notice the actor’s shadow.  

Then last month, I attended my first interactive play where the audience had played a part in the outcome of the show.  It was called Shear Madness and stared my favorite, local actor/comedian John McGivern.  The play takes place in a hair salon where everyone is a murder suspect.  It was so funny and contained a lot of local references and current event shout outs.  And oddly enough the woman from The Belle of Amherst was also in this play.  The problem I have with theater productions is that I’m so used to TV that I wish and wish I could watch these plays over and over again.  I can’t take them in enough, trying to memorize everything so I won’t forget it.  

Shear Madness starring John McGivern

 

Recently, folk singer Arlo Guthrie was talking about the brief period that he acted in a TV show called the Birds of Paradise, and how much enjoyed acting and getting to become someone else for the better part of a year.  I’m sure  that’s quite true, but never worked for me. 

When I was in Kindergarten, my teacher asked me if I wanted to play the smallest of the 3 Billy Goats Gruff.  I was too nervous and shy, but she asked anyway.  I’m sure now, in a gesture to get me to come out of my shell.  Then later on in my Senior year of High School, I did take the staring role in (drum roll) Grune Eier un Schinken (Green Eggs and Ham).  Ich bin Sam. Sam bin ich.  I was Sam I Am.  Our German language class was competing in the State Capitol and that was the play that was chosen.  Here, Frau Baeger thought I would be best because I could memorize the lines and had a good grasp of the language.  What I didn’t have was stage presence.  We did not win.  So I was not bit by the acting bug that way, but it did intrigue me from a spectator standpoint.

 

I started reminiscing about the plays I mentioned because of their uniqueness, but there were many more last year that I enjoyed and also called my favorites (Noises Off and The Whipping Man.)   Now, I have to sit and contemplate the play I just attended; Harvey.  I had not seen the Jimmy Stewart movie before the play so I didn’t have anything to compare it to.  Another hit production in my book.  I hope the lead actor, Jonathan Gillard Daly gets to keep the portrait painted for the play of he and Harvey. 

My First Office Job

A few days ago a friend of mine passed away and her memorial service was Friday.  It was really sad to see her two young children saying goodbye to their mom when just a few years prior it was their father who passed.  Both were my friends and former co-workers.  The husband, whom I first became friends with at Walmart  introduced me to his wife.  It was just about the time that I was graduating from college with my Paralegal degree.  She was working at a small law firm and thought perhaps I may also be able to get a job there.  So she set up an interview with one of the attorneys – and subsequently I started my career as a professional office worker.

My first office was in their tiny, walk-in-closet sized kitchen.  There was a small oval table with 2 chairs.  On one wall was the microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker.  That’s where I sat, wearing my fancy pants and having to scoot my chair in every time someone wanted to retrieve something.   I didn’t have any desk drawers, or places to keep anything.  We weren’t a poor office, it’s just that I don’t think it was really set up for me to work there.

glojek office 1

My first office – 2003

glojek office 2

2003 – my first desk and piles of work waiting for me me to complete

glojek

The outside of the law firm (left side)

Looking back on that job, I can see that college does not prepare you enough for starting in an office.  Sure they tell you all about how to look up laws and what the laws are, what the procedures in court are, and a bunch of fancy words and definitions.  In my opinion they don’t do enough to help prepare you on how to function in an office environment.  My prior jobs were totally different.  From my teenage years I was employed as a dog babysitter, a laundromat cleaner and a waitress.  It was a giant leap for me to transition into an office environment.

I was scared, but having my friend there made it so much easier.  She taught me a lot about filing, organization, and phone etiquette…. the basic things that are necessary to work as a legal secretary.  I made a lot of mistakes along the way.  I am not exactly proud of my work there, but people have to start somewhere.  I wonder how long I would have lasted if the attorney I was working for hadn’t left the firm, thus forcing my exit not long after.  Even if I had been there longer than the 8 months I was, I wouldn’t have made it anywhere else if it weren’t for the good heart, and generous kind nature of my two friends.  They were also instrumental in my getting my next big job at City Hall.  May you both rest in eternal peace.

9/11 at the White House

We’re just a few days past the 13th anniversary of 9/11, like many people, I can’t believe it’s been that long.

I was at home in bed when the first plane hit the twin towers.  I was in college and off of school that day.  My mom came running up stairs to my room telling me that New York was under attack.  In my groggy, just woken from slumber state, I remember thinking that it was too early for a baseball game.  My brain processed my mom’s message in baseball terms of them losing pretty bad.

I went downstairs to the living room and watched the endless replay of the impacts as well as the following crashes.  It was pre-cell phone era still in our household so we couldn’t get a hold of my sister who was out running her errands.  Not knowing what was going to happen next, mom and I decided to go gas up our cars and go to the grocery store for some essentials.  We managed to go to the filling station before they decided to sell a gallon of gas above $8.  (Luckily that only lasted for a little while before they were ordered to lower the prices).

I remember I didn’t feel safe until I saw President Bush speaking on TV that night.  There was one speech that I saw, he wasn’t in the Oval Office, but standing at a skinny podium somewhere.  I remember so vividly seeing him crying.

This is just a brief account of my 9/11 memories.  What I wanted to write about for this Sentimental Sunday post, was my 9/11/2006 experience.

September 2006 I was a White House Intern.  It was only our 2nd week so everything was still new to me.  I was used to security, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for an all out blockage of Pennsylvania Ave.  Normally I got off the subway from my apartment at the McPherson Square stop and walked through Lafayette Square park to get to the office.  But that day, I was not allowed to exit the park, even though all I had to do was cross the street and I was there.  I had left early enough because there was to be a special 9/11 ceremony on the South Lawn……. but not early enough for a detour.   I had to go all the way out of my way just to arrive at the same destination.  Being that I wasn’t used to wearing these fancy dress shoes it took me a long time.

So after going through regular security and getting to my office….the interns had already left for the ceremony.  I was upset, but sat at my desk, ready to work.  I sat in the room with my two immediate supervisors.  I was asked why I wasn’t at the ceremony and I explained my dilemma.  One of my supervisors told me I could go with him and he escorted me to the South Lawn of the White House.  I was given a flag pin to wear on my suit lapel. 

He and I stepped out onto the lawn and found a office co-worker and stood by her.  The lawn was divided into two rows.  I could see from the colored badges that all of the interns were on one side of the grass, and I was on the opposite side with the cabinet and upper level staff members.  I closed my coat around my badge so no one else could see who I was.

I didn’t know what the ceremony was going to entail.  I hadn’t seen the President yet, so I was kind of hoping that he would be there.  If I had been thinking intelligently, obviously he was going to be at other commemorative events in New York and such.  

I was in a state of awe like I had never been before in my life, when the doors opened and I saw who was being escorted by Vice President Cheney.  It was former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Oh My God !  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Here is a photo from that morning.  You can’t see me in the picture, but I am standing behind the woman in white on the upper left hand corner of the picture.  In the background you see the soldiers holding the flags, and the one on the left has a rifle.  To the left of him is the woman in white and I am behind her.  

The tragedy of 9/11 will never be forgotten, and neither will this event I attended to honor those who were lost during the terror attacks.  

This photo is from the White House website which is now in archive status but still accessible here. White House Archive Web Site      

Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney stand with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain for a moment of silence on the South Lawn September 11, 2006, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. White House photo by Shealah Craighead

Horse Diaries

I’ve had this book for many years- and it still is my wish

“I can’t remember exactly when I started linking horses… so I’ll just say it’s been forever!”  That’s what I told the lady when I visited the Fantasy Hills Ranch in Delavan, Wisconsin a few weeks ago.  She wanted to know my skill level, and it even shocked me to say I had been riding off and on for almost 25 years.  It made me start to want to find out the answer to that question for my own curiosity.

I searched through my baby photo albums (even my sisters)  because I know somewhere there exists a picture of me in a red cowboy hat, and vest with my stick horse and I’m so young that I’m still in front of my crib.  The picture has vanished though like on Back to the Future.  I remember bringing it out sometime in the past two decades for someone who wanted to post baby pictures for a guessing contest. (I sure hope I gave them a copy!)  Anyway, if I was near my crib that had to have been close enough for me to say I’ve always loved horses.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Here is the proof !

This is a picture of me at West Allis Western Days.  Gee I love pony rides ! Ha ! Just kidding, I’d be in trouble if that was a pony I was sitting on.  I would have to guess that I was about 6 years old…

Because in this picture I was 9 years old. Precisely, it was December 5, 1987, and that massive crowd behind me was preventing me from meeting Davy Jones at a book signing at Mayfair Mall.  And so, in turn, I had to prevent myself from crying.  We stood for hours in a line that wasn’t moving, and I couldn’t even see him on stage over the crowd.  Mom took this last picture of me with the book and my Monkey, George, and we went home.  Still, I have an autograph that my cousin got for me framed on my wall.  It looks like it says Maggie Love, but it actually reads      Maggie    Love, David Jones.

Wait a minute here… how did this post go from talking about horses to talking about Monkees ??  Well because after I found out how much Davy loved horses, then I wanted to as well.  That leads me to a completely different thought for a post on how a person grows into who they are and how they come to know things. 

I had a photocopy of this picture of Davy from his book, framed on my wall.  I wanted to be a jockey too. 

See also my related post Me Without You  on Davy’s passing. 

Davy Jones passed away Feb 29th, 2012 from an heart attack. He was 66.  

Wild dreams for a kid in a middle class family in suburban Wisconsin.  I had no means of being around horses unless they came to town with a fair, nor was I old enough to realize it wasn’t necessarily a sport for girls.  I never did gain much height, but as I got older my frame no longer fit what would be suitable for a jockey’s stature.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photograph to chronicle each time I rode, but I wish I did.

The first time I really got to ride a horse was the next year.  It was a guided trail ride through the woods in Hayward, Wisconsin (Northwestern region) and my dad went with me the one time.  In answer to your question… no I hardly ever took that shirt off.

Look at the prices !! $5.50 for 35 min  $10.00 for two hours

At age 13, I returned again, and my feet almost reach. 

 

In the in-between times, we had found a stable in Racine, Wisconsin, on 7 Mile road, that gave trail rides, partly through the woods and up along the rim of a hill that overlooked Lake Michigan.  I remember going there whenever the opportunity arose.  There was a Rifle Club shooting range next door that my dad belonged to so, when I went with him shooting, I would try to convince him to let me go riding.  I remember one time that I must have been there so often that the owner asked me if I wanted to go along the path alone because he recognized that I had been there before.  No one else was there to ride and he was busy.

They closed eventually, and circumstances prevented me from going back to Hayward where by Grandpa had a cabin.

The next picture I have is when I was 18 years old.  Perhaps in early January 1997.  This is in Scottsdale, Arizona and my friend’s mother’s horse.  If she remembers the name, please share it.

 

This is probably my favorite picture.  I remember my horse’s name was Deuce.  This was taken by a professional photographer as a courtesy to guests at the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tuscon, Arizona.  January 11, 2001.

Just before this in 1995 Christopher Reeve (Superman) had his crippling accident when he was thrown from his horse during competition and was paralyzed for life.  I began to notice a change at most of the stables.  We wouldn’t trot or cantor anymore.  It was strictly walking and you wore a helmet.  An example of how cowboy hats were traded in.   October 10, 2006.  Rock Creek Parkway, Washington DC.

 

I was on my way to the Taylor Home Inn (A bed and breakfast made up to look like the Andy Griffith Show House) October 2, 2010, when I found a place called Red Ridge Ranch in Mauston, Wisconsin just north of the Wisconsin Dells.  I had just taken an hour trail ride in the Dells, but I couldn’t pass up the charm of this ranch.  It was decked out in Halloween décor and harvest accents.  A decent, muddy ride with my horse Kendell.  Only a slight trot to get out of the mud and up a minor incline.

2nd favorite picture

 As you can see, I’ve been able to ride horses in a variety of places providing a wide range of scenery.  I think by far, my favorite so far was a ride I shared with my best friend on August 13, 2011 at the Holman Ranch in Carmel, California.  My horse, Dooley, and I rode through the vineyards, up the side of a mountain, along a path where cattle were grazing.  It was so beautiful and so quintessentially cowboy, that I was actually more interested in taking pictures of the landscape than of the horses.  Luckily Chris was there to snap a few pictures of me and grey-haired Dooley.

 

Oh how I longed to do that again.  On the recommendation of a friend, I tried the Fantasy Hills Ranch this past August 31st where my story started out.  Just a silhouette of me and Wyatt this time.  It was an hour long ride, which is pretty standard anywhere. 

Me and Wyatt before heading out

However, this place offers all day 30 mile rides.  I wanted to do that, and I came back three days later on Labor Day, September 3, 2012 to do so.  I arrived at the ranch at 9 am, but after getting the horses and driving to the entrance of the forest, we started out close to 11:00 am.  We rode 15 miles through the Kettle Moraine State Forest and then stopped for a late lunch.  We didn’t return to our vehicles until 6:30 that night. 

My horse’s name this time was Maks (I choose to spell it Maks, instead of Max by personal choice…. I really don’t know how they do it) and he was a handful.   I will never forget him.  To begin with, he got us in trouble for eating most of a baby shrub.  Maks was so much bigger than me that I had blisters on my hands from trying to pull the reigns to get his head up.  He was just too strong.  Even when I sensed he was reaching out or down for some leaves along the way and I tried to stop him in advance, the tug-o-war between us was always lost on my side.  It was not for lack of trying to show him who the boss was, I just couldn’t do it. 

Fantasy Hills Ranch was different from the other places for a few reasons.  On the all day ride, they didn’t have a platform so you had to put your foot in the stirrup and get up on the horse on your own.  Well, remember I didn’t grow too tall…. Even at this age, I’m still shootin’ for five feet actually.  I had the hardest time trying to get on.  I thought it might have been easier for me to climb a building and jump off into the saddle instead of starting on the ground.

Anyway, it was also different because every place I had gone before, they always stressed riding single file.  Not here.  We were three wide, and the horses were always walking so close to each other.  Oh yea, Maks had a problem with biting the butts of the horses in front of him.  He wanted to be in charge of everything !

There were 5 of us on this trail plus the guide to make 6.  Six gals out for fun, adventure and relaxation.  Both were mother/daughter pairs, but they also had some experience so there was no doubt that the guide said we would be doing more than just walking. 

What was so awesome about our guide is that she didn’t mind if we had our cameras with us, and I think she could sense we were responsible enough to multi-task.  Once she even offered to take the camera.  While we were running, she put it on video and recorded a few seconds of it.  She said it was her pleasure to be able to see the excitement and joy on our faces and wanted us to see it too. 

For me it was just that.  After the Christopher Reeve incident I didn’t believe I would ever be able to know the thrill of racing a horse again, and now that I was bigger and able to handle it better, I desired it even more.  Still, I was uncertain I was able to handle it and control Maks.  Sure I’ve rambled quite extensively about how long I had been riding horses, but trail horses are so different because they know where to go and don’t need much direction from the rider.   We were told the horses get quite excited in the Kettle Moraine forest because it was a treat for them to be away from the ranch.

The fear type of adrenaline ran through my body, and I pictured myself going headfirst over Maks.  But in all the years of riding, back when it was ok to do more than walk, no one ever told me that it would be better to hold on with one hand to the back seat part of the saddle to keep you in place.  A totally invaluable tip.  The first run we did was not very long.  It was just to get us used to it.  The first one was fear.  And of course I couldn’t help but think about Davy Jones and back to my childhood dreams.   

As a horse runs, think of it as a game of tag with the wind. ~ Tre Tuberville

The second run was pure enjoyment.  It gave me such a feeling of excitement that I was near tears of joy when we stopped.  I believed that nothing could possibly feel better than this speed.  Not a motorcycle or NASCAR, or even jumping out of a plane.  It was the best feeling in the world!! Riding side by side by side, running through the trees, with such a feeling of freedom and togetherness at the same time.  But of course, Maks, wants to be in charge and starts to want to pass the guide so we had to stop.  Probably my fault because I wasn’t paying attention to how close I was getting. 

Hey, it just dawned on me now!!! My horse would have won the race !  If we were racing and the guide hadn’t stopped it so I couldn’t win.   The challenge didn’t end with not bouncing completely out of the saddle though.  After lunch, on the way back, she took us running on paths that were curved and we had to be sure not to lean into the curve or we’d fall. 

This is the video she shot from her horse, looking back on me.  If you can handle not getting motion sickness from the video, it’s only about 40 seconds long. 

I can’t wait to save up and do it again next year !  I’m sure there will be much more riding in my future as well.

Please take a moment to check out the Davy Jones Equine Memorial Fund where  funds will be raised to support the former Monkees’ favorite charity.  The DJEMF was created in loving memory & to protect and care for the horses Davy loved. Jones was an avid horseman and this charity ensures the continuing care of the horses he so loved.  Your donation at this time will go towards day to day care of the horses.  The DJEMF is a registered non profit organisation.   

Payment by Check or Money Order should be made payable to “Davy Jones Equine Memorial Fund” P.O. Box 31244, Santa Barbara, CA 93130