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Sunday, September 23, 2012

All or Nothing

Some days I feel like an old person. I feel especially old when I see what I like to think of as "the inherent fervency of the young, inexperienced and uninitiated" playing out day in and day out. Yes, back to me ol' nemesis, Facebook.  It seems that so much is all or nothing these days as people stand up and shout over and over again, ad nauseaum "THIS IS WHO I AM AND THIS IS WHAT I STAND FOR" in several repetitious venues. I am including myself here;-) Hey, it's what social media is for, is it not? Most of the time I kinda love it. I love my friends and love to see what they're on about. For real:-)

I feel all kinds of observy, even when I'm participating. I have certainly made my political opinions known. But part of being observy in earnest is to point that fickle finger of judgement to oneself first. What, exactly, has driven me the most crazy about the political nonsense? Easy answer: first and foremost the mean-spirited, sarcastic (and let's face it) often ignorant and repetitive tone, and I mean that on both sides. I'm an old person who has never seen so much "dumb and ugly" all in one place, I mean to such an over-the-top ridiculous degree that it's mind-blowing. And it's from BOTH sides. While it's true that one side has definitely gone extracurricular with it, both sides are guilty and I have been too. And it's entirely pointless. What's being passed around isn't real or helpful information, it's entirely disrespectful and it's only function, it's ONLY function, is to create a rift. Is that something I want to be a part of? Am I crass, mean, reactive, sarcastic or any of the other unpleasant adjectives I could attach to this kind of behavior? I have my moments, certainly, but as a rule I am better than that. I know better than that. I was RAISED better than that by good people who were far above that behavior.  It's easy to get caught up in the steady stream of nasty, but it feels bad and well, it's beneath me. Politics shouldn't be all-or-nothing; we should be cooperating. Now THAT is something that's really worth getting behind.

My other pet peaves involve, well, pets. I guess I'm less "peeved" and more mildly annoyed, but there's an "all or nothing" trend in animal (for me that's horses and dogs) training as well. I am old enough to see fads come and go and to see real information stick. Unfortunately, trends usually have this huge swing from one extreme (in this case compulsion training for dogs) aaaaaalllll the way over to the other side (all positive, all the time) before common sense kicks in and levels things off a bit. I'm not new so I've already been to both extreme ends of this learning curve but there aren't that many of us yet. And it's a bit trying sometimes. It's hard to explain "Hey, I was you, but fifteen years ago". If it was a "to each his own" thing it would be fine, but some days I'm seriously NOT in the mood to get lectured by an inexperienced pet owner who took a class or two. Like today. Another lecture about my prong collar from someone who clearly knows just enough to be sanctimonious about training methods to total strangers. *Headesk*. Apparently if I use a prong, I don't know anything about positive reinforcement training. Well, except that I've been doing it for almost 20 years, I remember when it was new and have developed my training techniques as our understanding (through doing back then) improved. But hey, whatever. I offered to hand the leash over to her just as a (well-timed) squirrel passed by, but she didn't seem interested. They never do;-) Some people don't understand the concept of "management tool" and assume 'compulsion training' at the very sight of a prong and are too hard-headed to see any point of view other than their own. Oh, I know all about it. I've been that person. I know these folks just haven't met "that" dog yet. Hopefully if and when they do, they'll evolve instead of 'managing' the dog into isolation or giving it up as a lost cause. Based on my personal observation, it's about 50/50. I try to adopt a "smile politely and walk away" philosophy, which fortunately I was able to do today. Barely.

What about horses? Well, there has certainly been an uptick in the "Natural Horsemanship" trend. This, fortunately for you all, I have no direct knowledge about. I've always been a "humane, classical" kinda girl, but am not above giving something new a try. I think if a person is experienced (or is working with someone experienced) no harm is likely to be perpetrated here. In fact, I did a bit of digging around and saw quite a bit of merit to some of the methods. I do love the focus on groundwork and relationship-building (though admittedly there is plenty of both in classical training as well). The biggest potential flaw I see in these systems is that inexperienced or timid people might try to work with a horse with nothing but videos for guidance. THAT is a recipe for disaster, and I've heard of results to that effect. In all fairness, any method is only as good as it's application, and inexperience+horses without real, experienced guidance is a bad, bad formula no matter what method you choose. I know folks who are all about the NH to the exclusion of all else, and I don't think that's for me, but it certainly brings me to my point (finally!):

Moderation is a beautiful thing, and you can't make good choices if you are only well-educated in one side of the argument. Thinking you know isn't knowing, reading or hearing lots and lots of stuff from people who come only from your own point of view isn't knowing, and hearsay and misinformation certainly aren't educational or helpful. If you want to stand firmly by your opinion fine, but at least take the time to learn about the REALITY of other points of view. Phew...I feel better:-)

Next time I review my favorite dog coat company, just in time for cold weather:-) Cozy Horse

Sunday, September 9, 2012

History

"Spooky Tree" photo by Lana Pinto
 I did it, or started it at least. I finally looked into the history of The Infamous Brown House. And it was FUN. I have seen it done on TV, but the reality was far more confusing and less conclusive than anything fictional. For starters, the inevitable Startling Revelation Involving Microfiche was not part of my actual experience. It began with perusing listings to find the picture and subsequently the address of the house. I recognized it right away, a feeling in my gut more than anything. From there it was a search though enormous book after enormous book; each getting older and harder to read than the one before it. I learned that the neighbor's outrageous account of the house's history was not only feasible, but likely. I followed up my trip to the town clerk with a visit to the public library. I searched the few historical tomes available; black and white and sepia windows on a past I could scarcely imagine. Though there were many interesting anecdotes about the area, none were specific enough to be useful. I learned that yes, the original structure was indeed built in the late 1800's, that fires were common and bears were a danger. Nothing supported the specifics of the haunting (though the prevalence of fire was certainly interesting, considering), but nothing negated it either. The ladies at the library were incredibly helpful and interested in the book. They suggested that I contact the historical society, which I've done. Now, I wait. At least this time I wait with interest and eagerness and without fear.

I enjoyed my research. Though my initial pass revealed nothing conclusive, I was taken in by the spirit of these early Vermonters and it made me want to know more. More story ideas perhaps? I do love my monsters but ghost stories, especially those based in historical fact, could be a hell of a good yarn too. In fact, a good ghost story would be my favorite thing to curl up with (in addition to an afghan and a warm beverage) on a wet or cold day. Hmm...It really is up to me, isn't it? But first, I need to get this project done and out there.

 I don't think it's a secret that I like to escape into fictional realms of my own creation (which my current project isn't), but it bears mentioning again just the same. When the world is a rapidly rotating vortex of sad circumstances, financial stress, political ugliness and an unnatural state of being (read: my current horse-less-ness), I like to make myself a cup of strong Irish tea and visit a place where all is possible: my own imagination. Just because my current project remains stuck in the pipeline does not mean I can't do something else too. Sometimes, when all else just seems to be beyond my ability to manage it, just the act of doing something, anything really, can break the spell of stagnation. And it has given me an idea.

Halloween is coming. I love Halloween, I love the spooky atmosphere, the darkening sky, the wind and the blowing leaves. I love that I think I saw somebody staring down at me from the window of the empty apartment next door, and that sometimes I hear things. What if...

Until next time:-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Curiosity

Today's the day I suck it up and do some research. I'm not opposed to research on principle, in fact many of my major life choices have been the result of countless hours of it. But this is different. This time, I have to take a closer look at something I actively ran (almost literally) from: The Infamous Brown House. The Infamous Brown House of my former reality, and of past and current nightmares. I wrote the story of all that happened to us there; a terrifying tale of relentless and unexplained occurrences. I relived those sleepless nights and the waking horrors of those days already. I needed to. I needed to do it for myself, and for those who shared the experience. Today, stories of haunted houses abound. But then, fifteen years ago, nobody talked about it. Embarrassment kept us quiet and the story stayed dark and coiled and waiting within me. I left that house a haunted human being; what more did I need to know? I don't know the history of the place. I didn't feel like I needed to. No matter what happened, it wouldn't validate or negate our personal experiences. It was what it was. But this is a world of "why?" and it has become apparent to me that no ghost story worth it's salt comes without a history. I've been strongly encouraged by folks I have deep respect for to take this step. I finally had to admit to myself that, yes, I need to do this. So today's the day.

Maybe I will find nothing. Though it has rarely occurred to me that this might be the case, the fact of the matter is that it might very well be. Maybe I will find some magic something that will make sense of it all and provide new understanding into the whole affair. More likely it will be somewhere in the middle. I can only speculate. I am sure though, that I have made it a bigger deal than need be. I have put this off, and in doing so put off the completion of a long project I desperately want to see finished. You see, I'm still afraid. All the writing, the joking, the hopes for success, none of it diminishes the very real fear we experienced, the very real trauma we have lived with since. This isn't just a book I wrote. It's our story. I love writing about the occult, but don't really have the stomach for experiencing the reality of it. Some of you may know what I mean.

But it's time. It's time to dig out the truth, or as much of it as I can find. It's time to finish this, one way or another. "My" time of year is approaching, and it feels like it's the book's time too. It's ready to be born in earnest. It's time to release it all; the book, the fear and the hesitation. It's time to embrace my well-developed sense of dark and morbid curiosity and make it work for me. I can do this...