Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Love My Screened-In Porch!

the porch

a view from the porch

Of all the spaces and places in my house, the screened-in porch is my favorite. From my kitchen, the room where it seems most of my time is spent, I can take a break and step out onto the porch to experience the peace of the birds flying from tree to tree, the heat from the sun, the flittering of butterflies, and the sight of tall, luscious green trees with a perfect cloudy blue sky as a backdrop.

During the five or six months of warm weather and sunshine, I sit on the porch as much as possible; only my busy life prevents me from being there more.

Reading on the porch is very relaxing. I pull out the leg rest from under the chair, position a pillow at just the right spot behind my back, give the dog a chew toy or bone, and then attempt to get totally absorbed in a book. This works well when it’s just the dog and me. During the summer, that’s not often. The girls always have a reason to interrupt – but they’re okay – as long as I don’t have to listen to any whining. Sometimes, one of them may get a book and join me. They, too, are part of the complete picture.

In addition to good reading time, my other reasons for loving the porch:

---Lunch or dinner on the porch is like being at an outdoor cafĂ©. Sometimes I’m joined by one of the kids or my husband or all of them.
---Conversations with my husband are always good when we’re sitting on the porch.
---The sofa on the porch has provided me with some of my best Sunday afternoon naps – the kind that don’t give me a headache as I’m waking up.
---Talking on the phone is more fun on the porch. There are no dishes staring at me waiting to be washed, or any other domestic chore. I laugh a lot during these conversations.
---It's a great place to have a morning cup of tea while listening to sounds of nature.
---During a summer storm, I stand on the porch a minute or two listening to hard, pouring rain – until the lightening sends me in.

I haven’t always had a screened-in porch. As a teen, my equivalent was a roof covered porch on the front of the house. After waking up on a “don’t have to be anywhere day,” I’d go outside to the porch into the slight coolness of the morning to “wake up my face.” My mother would say, “Wait until you get my age – you won’t be able to wait for your face to wake up. You’ll have to PUT it into place!”

Throughout the years, a porch of some sort has been a must. Before I moved into a tenth floor apartment in 1984, I had to check out the balcony to make sure I’d have my serene, outdoor space, even if it was overlooking the parking lot, accompanied by the sounds of traffic on I-395. I still got my “fresh” air!

It’s nice to have a place (or two) in your home to veg out.

Where is your special place?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Horseback Riding

His name is Echo

Grooming Echo

Riding Echo

I was seventeen, hanging out with three guys and another girl. Someone had the bright idea to go horseback riding. My friend Joyce and I had never ridden, but how hard could it be? You sit on the horse, it moves, you ride.


Shortly into the ride, my friends saw me slowly falling down the side of the horse - my foot caught in a stirrup, hanging on to the saddle for dear life.

Before the “incident,” my horse moved when and how it wanted to, and it stopped when it wanted to, which turned out to be a problem when one of the testosterone-filled teen-aged boys came galloping towards me acting out a "rescue." My lackadaisical horse didn’t flinch; it just stood there. He yelled whoa! to slow his horse down, but there was still a crash. My friends were concerned (all of three seconds) until I pulled myself back up, when “their” hysterical laughing began.

Oh, to be young.

Episode # 2, a year later, found me screaming like a banshee on a runaway horse. Hanging on for dear life again, it occurred to me to stop screaming as an attempt to make the horse stop. It did, and I got off.

I’ll skip my third, uneventful horseback ride (guided by its owner) that was about three years ago, to bring you up to the present.

Three Amigos! That’s what comes to mind when I think of my first horseback riding lesson with Darlene and Robin - three moms out for some adventure. I had to call on Jesus, as Betsy (our teacher) pushed my butt up onto the HUGE horse. What a sight we were! Three stiff bodies with bad posture, bouncing and riding at the mercy of the well-trained horses just walking around the ring.

BUT still on that first day, we progressed. Betsy tried teaching us to post. Up, down, up, down… Breathe… Push your heals down… Point your toes up… Straighten your back... Stomachs in... Hold the reins closer together... Use your crop... And, try to be in the “up” motion with the horse’s outside shoulder as it goes up.

WHAT? Duh.

That was September.

We’ve come a long way. Our aches and pains are minimal. No more bruised inner thighs, knee pain, aching backs, and/or sore calves. We’re saddling our horses and putting on bridles. We're riding the Western saddle and the English (Hunter) saddle. Robin doesn’t feel like she’s going to bounce off any more and is posting the trot. Darlene and I have been able to attend more lessons, and we’re loping and cantering. Darlene could be jumping soon; I’d like to get there, too.

We may be close to earning our bonafide Equestrian titles! Yee Ha!

Do you ride horses? Would you like to?