Sunday, December 8, 2019

As Gone Becomes Gone

Even now, I know 
I'll look back and wonder
why it was so hard 
to let go. 
Time will blunt 
emotion, stunt 
the onslaught of memory, 
the true knowing 
of what was lost, 
now, so fresh, 
but soon distant, 
as gone becomes gone, 
and life, 
unable to stop, 
moves on.

(For Miss Penny)

We lost a good one last week. Miss Penny.

It was a roller coaster, with many ups and downs, and times I thought we were in the clear, but eventually, the trajectory was only down. Her quality of life diminished, the hope for a positive outcome disappeared, and the choice was very clear.

There were many tears for this girl. It was a tough loss, much harder than I imagined. Just when you think you've grown so used to losing your beloved friends, tough as nails inside, purely intellectual with older age--celebrate the good times, remember them at their best, etc.--you find you never get used to it, and you're every bit as fragile at 52 as were you at 8.

The lasting sting of salt,
zero point three milligrams 
per tear, 
yet, still they drop, 
tapped into an ocean 
where I swim, 
like a child, 
through the salty grief 
of letting go.

The picture above is from a trail ride we were on about five days before she went down. But we had been on a trail ride the day before, too.

It was a shock that the next day she could be in such bad shape.

She has left a gaping hole since she was the hardest working member of our herd. The grandkids, kids, husband, friends, nieces and nephews--ALL, rode her. And, she had a reputation that preceded my ownership. A huge fan club of people also affected by her death. We had bought her as a 19 year old and had her six years, but she had been my friend's daughter's horse before that--and all her/our friends rode her at one time or another and LOVED her.

Someday, I do hope to have another horse like her. Most likely a younger version that can be there with Tumbleweed. The kind that you can trust 100% and will do absolutely anything for you. But man are they RARE! I love my Cowboy, as you know, but he is anything BUT a horse who does absolutely anything. I'm not at all ready for that special horse yet, but someday--I will be looking, and she (and Red) will be my standard. (What is it with sorrels?)

I'm happy to think that Tumbleweed had so much time with Penny and that she was one of his mamas. They tried to get to each other until the very end, but on the last day, the top mares would not let them get close. I'm sure it was for his safety. A dying horse might shed disease--salmonella--who knows what--so instinct has taught them to preserve the herd.

And that's when I knew, in my heart, it was over. The herd let me know.

Murphy's Law, I received more bad news. My longtime farrier, the one who saved Cowboy 13 years ago, is also very sick and forced to retire immediately. What a blow. He was a two time world champion Pro farrier. He even had his own magazine. He also has a huge community of farriers he has taught and who apprenticed with him--one of which has been helping him here since the first days with Cowboy, and then on and off throughout the years, and more lately as he geared up for retirement.

But there is NO REPLACING Scott. If my horses had so much as a hiccup, he'd be to my house in a flash and assess them--for FREE--then tell me what I should do. If he said he'd be here at 9, he'd show up at 8:30. He's been a friend, too. There just aren't farriers left like him in the world.

It's a closing of an era.

Cowboy is on borrowed time and he, and half of our herd, are in their 20's.

I guess it's time to start looking harder toward the future.

For now, we have to get through this season of loss.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Horse Miracles: The X Factor

miraculous: highly improbable and extraordinary and bringing very welcome consequences.

(Penny doing her thing, training the young ones, 2018)

In my post about Penny last week, I wondered if I'd be able to look back from the future and consider her recovery another miracle.  And here I am, doing just that.

I came so close to having her put down based upon these facts:

1. Low probability of survival through the first few days.

2. Lack of improvement after IV and plasma infusions.

3. Her general demeanor.  She appeared to be on the verge of death.

4. High probability of secondary factors, even if they could get her through the antibiotics: adhesions, laminitis, diarrhea, colic. 

5. Cost. We were at just under $3,000 in the first couple of days. (I know it's not ideal, but cost is always a factor in these decisions. I told the vet where I wanted to be, and she thanked me for being so clear. She said it is what they prefer.)

6. Age. Penny is at least 24-27 years old. But the vet said she would have the same low odds, no matter the age.

7. Lack of definitive primary diagnosis. Despite all the tests and the ultrasound, they could only speculate on what the primary cause was. They knew the colon had been damaged and leaked, causing a bacteria infection, inflammation, and peritonitis, but whether it was a temporary thing, like a sharp object or stick--or a long-term issue, like cancer--they weren't sure.  

However, walking her out of confinement, into the sunshine, seeing that little spark of life in her eyes--something else entered the equation, the


What is the X Factor?  The X Factor is what I have found over and over again in keeping a large herd of horses.  It's the thing you can't quantify or test.  I would say, it's the will to live. 

It is why we canceled euthanizing Cowboy after he broke P3, which had bone displacement into the coffin joint, and had been misdiagnosed as an abscess for the 3 months. We let him be free the moments before his scheduled departure and, to our shock, he ran from one end of the pasture to the next, bucking and kicking and loving life.  It was obvious he wanted to live, but it was a choice HE HAD TO MAKE FOR US because of the time, and confinement, his recovery was going to take.

There is nothing scientific about my belief; it's all based on personal observation: the power of the herd, the home, rest, time, and the innate, deeply coded, equine survival instinct.  I see it as a spark of life still there--dim, but resolute.  It's what I saw in Penny when I altered course about euthanasia. 

Sometimes, we're asking a lot of them--the cure--the road back to health--can be long and very, very hard.  For example, there is no way we could have injected Penny with one more dose of antibiotic.  Her poor body was just so tired and broken by that point. In fact, there's not a day that went by that I didn't have doubts about my decision not to euthanize.  But I felt she was telling me that she wanted the chance.

As I watched her charge out of her stall into the sunshine today--with lots of healthy, well-formed, and plentiful manure left behind for me to clean--I thought, no matter how this goes down the line, it is certain that TODAY, I did, indeed, get that miracle I wondered about.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Sick Horse Funk

Just two weeks ago, we were riding Penny and Cowboy out on the trails, and she was doing great.  She looked awesome, fat and happy--the picture of good health, like all the other 8 horses in the herd.

Tomorrow, will be the second week since I found her laying down.  Even though she's in her mid-20's, and you kind of expect things to starting breaking down with older equines, the difference was shocking.  Healthy to death's door, ... seemingly overnight.

Fast forward to today--she gets healthier and stronger and more horse like--and I am very hopeful we will get to the other side of this.

But what I'm writing about today isn't really that, it's what happens to owners when they're in this time frame--the in-between, doctoring, sicky, weak, roller coaster.  Luckily, I'm not in it very often, but the few times I have been, I can safely say, have been awful.

So, guess what?  I learned to knit!  I've knitted about 10 dishcloths and one long winter scarf.  Why did I learn to knit?  Because to sit and wait and doctor and monitor and worry made me think--I need to KNIT!  I looked it up online, bought some knitting needles and yarn, and now I'm a die-hard knitter.  I'm here to say, knitting helps you get through tough times.  The way humanity has always lived with war and famine, disease--death, I imagine many a woman was driven to knit just to keep her sanity.

And that, my friends, is what happens to people when they're in the Sick Horse Funk. I can barely remember a thing about the last two weeks, I was fully obsessed with getting Penny past her illness.  I withdrew from my friends, my  I just sat in a chair, knitted, looked out the window, monitored her stall on my app, and went back and forth to the barn, day and night.  I didn't even do my yoga or play my piano or guitar!  Often, I'd forget to shower.

It's a good lesson to remember about what other horse owners are going through--like my friend whose horse had the mysterious laminitis and abscesses I was helping her doctor.  She withdrew, too, declining every offer to ride or get together. Now, I understand why.

Today, Penny is out in the sunshine grazing happily. I'm starting to think her colon has healed.  She's eliminating well, so I'm starting to think her GI tract has healed.  Her ascites is gone, which makes me think her blood protein is back to normal and her liver and kidney are healing. She hasn't shown any signs of laminitis.

In two hours, I'm going on my first, short trail ride since this happened.

Could it be life returning to normal?  Could it be light at the end of the Sick Horse Funk tunnel?

I hope so.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

On Death's Door (Week 1 & 2)

She will not be 
the first I've lost,
Yet, there's still much water 
in this rock of letting go.

(Penny the day after IV fluid and plasma.  She is not sedated. When we walked in, she didn't even look up to see us. Death's door.)

A couple of weeks ago, we were riding Penny and Cowboy out on the trails...

and then tragedy hit.

I woke Thursday, November 7th, and saw Penny lying down. Never a good sign.  I was immediately off to the vet, and she was ultrasounded, fluid tapped from her belly, colic exam, & blood tests—diagnosed with severe typhlocholitis and peritonitis.

The outlook was very poor, and they pulled me aside and told me just how dire it was, but to be honest, I didn't understand half of what they were saying.  My husband is a physician, and he did.  He reaffirmed--it's dire. It's really bad. Ignorance is bliss, all I saw was the road to recovery.

They kept her at the hospital that night and administered IV fluids and plasma (her blood had lost protein and only plasma could bring it back up) and there was heavy inflammation of the GI tract--something I didn't understand then would be most difficult in the recovery phase.  They also gave her heavy duty antibiotics (Gentamicin --which is not recommended for animals that sick and weak, but we had to go nuclear on the bacteria-- & penicillin)  The bacteria, which had migrated from her colon through, they assume, a perforation (though by what, we don't know..cancer, ingesting something sharp) that bacteria had entered her gut, and worse, her blood stream.

To bring into even simpler terms--getting her past the bacteria infection was doubtful. Getting her past the secondary issues--high temperature (laminitis), antibiotics (liver & kidney failure, diarrhea, loss of appetite), primary problem (the X factor--the colon needed to heal so that bacteria didn't keep leaking out.) AND worst of all, from the inflammation--the very definite possibility of ADHESIONS.

For those who don't know what adhesions of the gut are--I won't be of much help.  My husband keeps drawing me diagrams and, of course, the vet tried her best to explain when we arrived the second day and Penny had deteriorated even further.

You can read all about ADHESIONS here.  But to put it in a way I understand, you know why most colic surgeries start out successfully, but then the horse never fully recovers--adhesions.

So to recap: when we arrived the 2nd day, Penny had gone WAY down hill.  Even without sedation, she didn't recognize us as we entered. She's at least 24 years old--so an elder equine, and the vet gave her a poor prognosis--especially because many of the secondary issues don't show up until later--but are a very likely outcome.

Vets don't tell you what to do, but when I asked mine about euthanizing--she was very supportive of that decision.

This is getting long because this has been a LONG road. I'm going to speed up the telling--

Made the decision to euthanize, walked Penny out of her confinement, the sun hit her, she perked up just a little, walked her to the kill spot with doc and tech, Penny started grazing. I started to change my mind, especially finding out she was drinking on her own. (She had gone off food at the hospital, but not water.) I asked if I could take her home, the vet said yes, but she would probably die.  I decided to give it a chance because at least she'd die at home with her buddies. Vet discharged us with all the medicine & very specific parameters for euthanization should X of Y or Z occur.

I went home and got my trailer and truck, came back to get her, (again in confinement), and she had broke out in full body sweat--(toxic episode) but I loaded her up and took her home anyway.

Upon arrival home, the sweat had dried and she was relaxed and happy.  Her temp had returned to normal, her heart rate had decreased and she was HUNGRY and eager to see her buddies. HUGE TURNAROUND!)

(That's what LOVE can do for you--the best medicine.  Horses are herd animals, and confinement is one of the worst things for them--but sometimes necessary. I always cringe to leave them behind at the hospital for that reason.)

(Penny, moments after arriving home from the hospital)

Unfortunately, that initial boost was temporary.

It has been a roller coaster, with days Penny is comfortable, but appears to be on death's door, and days where she looks like she's walking back toward life. My husband and I administered Gentamicin and penicillin IM for a week (that is a lot of poking), and her fever broke for good on the Monday following hospitalization. We discontinued half doses of Banamine ASAP to lessen the load on the kidney and liver and to speed up gut healing)  We haven't had any diarrhea yet, probably because of the BIOMOS.

But on Tuesday, following hospitalization, the antibiotics were taking their toll--she was getting weak. By the time the full course of antibiotics rolled around, she looked awful, but her vitals were still maintaining without Banamine, and she continued to drink and eat a little. We were very close to euthanizing, but I wanted to give her a couple of days to recover from the antibiotic regimen before making the decision.

I'm glad I did, because each day, she has grown stronger.  She had developed severe ascites, but since ending the antibiotics, her body is reabsorbing the fluid and she's peeing it out.  Today, she looks ALMOST back to normal.

The vet told us to give her whatever she wants to eat: grazing in the pasture, Rice Bran, Equine Senior (with beet pulp base), and hay.  She gets to choose what she wants and needs, and everyday it is something different.  Her eating is good.  Her drinking is excellent. Her will to live is strong.  Her temperature is normal.  Her heart rate is very close to normal.

Will adhesions take her down? Laminitis?

I don't know the answers yet.  Each decision I've made has hinged on the smallest glimpse of this or that hope measured against quality of life assessments.

Time will tell if this is another miracle.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I Know What Horsemanship Should Feel Like

I know what horsemanship should feel like..for me.  I know all my blog friends are the same way.  We know, and we continue to grow into it, our horses, and ourselves.

I used to hate riding bareback, now I love it...with Cowboy. Everything in its own time and season.  Will I want to ride bareback on Tumbleweed? Probably not...for a long while.

I savor this phase of life--knowing to trust myself and my horses and not being pressured into doing things I don't want to do.

I want to be happy.  I want my horses to be happy.

I don't have anything to prove to anyone...except myself.  And what I want to prove to myself is that I'm a horsewoman who listens...

It can be a lonely world when you go your own way, but the type of people you will attract are those who will make your life better.

And in the end, when the noise quiets down, when all the friends are gone, and you're alone, reflecting on past joy--

all that will matter--

all you'll truly remember...

is how you made your horse feel.

So, how does horsemanship feel? Horsemanship should feel...horsemanship WILL feel like what you know in your gut your horses felt.

(Photos taken by my husband, who feels horsemanship the exact same way.)

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Best Friend Bareback Pad Review

(Loping ahead of the ride, trying out the new Best Friend pad.)

As all of you know, I love to ride bareback.  Up until now, I've ridden bareback sans pad because I didn't yet know which one to buy that would meet my needs:

#1 The closest contact possible--ie. a thin sheet with a cinch and a little padding at the withers to protect the private parts in a fast stop.

#2 Something with storage possibilities for the trail.

#3 A pad that won't slip up and down hills & that keeps the rider's seat in place, too.

(Tacking up for the ride.)

When I was a kid, and the adults would only let us ride alone if we rode bareback, I felt very sorry for myself, and I thought the adults were jerks.  One day, out riding in the desert, my friends took off running back to the barn and my horse, not wanting to be left behind, followed them full-on Kentucky Derby run away. My flimsy pad "slid off", and I ended up on the ground, walking home alone. It made me hate bareback riding, and when I was finally old enough to have my own horses and saddles, I felt like I had hit payola.  No more falling off. I had a horn to hold onto and stirrups to balance myself with--yeehaw!

But a few years back, in winter, I was very cold, and putting a saddle on my horses for a short ride just seemed silly.  So, I didn't.  I went bareback and started to love it. Not only was it super warm, but I could feel the muscles in their backs--which gave me extra information and better communication.  I could feel the tensing up, the release, and the heart beating super fast (fear) or slow and steady (relaxed).  And I started to use that information to get past some big road blocks with Leah.

I'm a better rider than I was as an 11 year old.  I have better trained horses who know me, rather than my friend's super spoiled ones. A better, more balanced, seat means the pad doesn't slip.  I always blamed the pad, but in reality, I think I must have slipped off the horse and made the pad shift.

I've done a lot of research on bareback since then, and read the pros and cons, but I feel comfortable riding my horses bareback for short rides here and there.  My horses seem to love it.  There is definitely a feeling of oneness when riding bareback.  Not only can you feel their every breath, but you're also a bit more vulnerable.  You can't just ignore them and become a passive passenger.  You really have to be thinking about them and actively riding with them.  You must always pay attention to where you're placing your weight--if you don't, you get instant feedback.

I've ridden sans pad now for years, but getting off my horses and having dirty, sweaty butts of my jeans wasn't working too well.  I needed to find a pad that imitated riding with nothing.


I want to introduce you the pad I purchased after reading many, many reviews and talking to many different equestrians who already own one--The Best Friend Bareback Pad.

(My friend is trying it out here on Cowboy.  She ordered one yesterday.)

And here is a video of the first look.

My thoughts:

The #1 thing I wanted out of this pad was for it to be thin enough that I could feel the heat from my horse, the heartbeat, and the movement of the muscles.  As I said before, I would be happy with something as thin as a sheet for that part.  This isn't as thin as a sheet, and it probably can't ever be, if you want to keep the sweat from saturating your pants.  We did a two hour ride in 50 degree weather and the seat of my pants was a little damp--so there is some sweat through--not much though.  It definitely kept my pants clean.  Bottom line: I could feel his heat, his  heartbeat, and his muscle movements very well.

The wither padding is excellent, and if you're a bareback rider, you will appreciate that. It also has a suede type top that keeps you from sliding around. It comes with an adjustable cinch with rollers--which I love. It has pockets and D rings so you can take what you need on the trail. I didn't experience any slippage, and we went up and down pretty steep hills and trotted and loped.

I could have ridden in it much longer than two hours.  I felt great when I was done.  Cowboy seemed to love it, too.  It probably gave him a little protection from my seat.  He  moved so freely and had such energy.  He even gave a little buck of happiness when we first started loping in the arena.  (It was Day 3 of his Equioxx treatment, and he was like his old, younger self.)

I like it so much that I just purchased a second to have when guests want to ride bareback with me.  I bought the blue version.

Here are some more photos from Amazon.

Note: I am not being paid for this review, and I did not receive this product from the company, I paid cold, hard cash! However, if the company reads this and wants to send me another one...I would be very appreciative! (just kidding. not kidding.)

Friday, November 1, 2019

Return to Maine (Part Two)

When we crossed from New Hampshire to Maine, my husband and I were so excited, we pulled over on the side of the road and took a selfie at the sign: Welcome to Maine, The way life should be.

On the third day of the trip, we were entering Limestone, home of the Limestone Eagles, and Loring AFB, home to B52 bombers. Interesting fact: Loring was the closest base we had to Russia during the Cold War, and a single B52 bomber would circle North America everyday from there.  They were on constant standby / alert. 

Limestone was the little town a few miles away from the base, and it's where they bused the junior high and high school kids.  The government built a big, beautiful school with an Olympic size indoor pool and state of the art everything.  One wing was for the junior high, and the other wing, the high school.

Nothing had really changed, physically...

The cafeteria.. 


Band room...


Trophy case...


but, in fact, when the base closed, it gutted the school's population and they had to send the high school kids to the neighboring town.  They closed the elementary and brought it here to this building-combining one wing with it and the junior high school.  The other wing, formerly the high school, became a magnet school for math, science and engineering geniuses.  It is now the #2 high school in the country.  Quite amazing.  

Yet, sad for the community.

The town hadn't changed much, and still had my favorite pastry EVER--the cream rolls from Labadie's Bakery in Lewiston, Maine.  In between school and sport practices, we'd walk to town and buy one of these yummies.

My husband and I bought a few to take home.

Northern Maine (minus the base, which was a ghost town) was just like I remembered, except better. So beautiful. The view from the soccer field, overlooked all of Aroostook County. As I stood up there, I was so happy, and I realized what a gift it had been to have lived there.

We continued our drive along the St. John River through Van Buren, Maine, and up to Madawaska, Maine.  Each town seemed perfectly preserved.  The further you drove north from Limestone, the less the communities were affected by the loss of the base.

As I drove through all those areas, though, I knew I would never have stayed there.  The whole experience was a closing of a chapter.  I had always pined after Northern Maine, but when faced with the reality, an average of 117" of snow annually, few jobs, few horses, was clear I am exactly where I want to be in life and would not change a thing.  Every step, good, bad, or otherwise, brought me to this life I love so dearly.

Oh, my favorite pizza place was still open.  We'd ride our bikes there and splurge for a hamburger and onion pizza.  It had the same owner and my husband and I had a nice talk with him.  Rendevous pizza.

One last thing.  I spent much of last winter reading all of Phillis Wheatley's poems and correspondence so, when in Boston, I was eager to walk from the North Church to the South Church (where she attended) and then to the Women's Memorial, where there is a statue in her honor.

It did not disappoint.

It's great to be home, and today I'm heading out for a bareback ride on Cowboy--two days into his Equioxx treatment.  I have a new Best Friends bareback pad I'm trying out.  More on that soon...

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Return to Maine (Part One)

I'm back from Maine, and it was a whirlwind! My husband and I had so much fun exploring together.  I'll give you a brief tour--only highlighting the particularly interesting points of the trip and saving you the FULL tour!

It started in Massachusetts at The Wayside Inn in Sudbury. After a long flight--awake at 3:30 am PST and flying out at 5:30 PST--we drove to the Inn and had drinks & appetizers in the pub. (pictured below).  Bacon wrapped scallops and the oldest drink in the New Country--The Coow Woow.  After drinks, we went into their dining room where I had lobster pie and bread pudding for dessert.

After dinner, we retired to our very old, rickety, authentic bedroom--where we opened up the shutters to let in fresh air--then fell asleep.  While we slept, a Cyclone Bomb moved in--a drastic drop in pressure--which brought wind and rain and blew the shutters against the side of the outside walls.  My husband, dazed and confused, thought they'd blown off, and had to feel around in the dark to find them and get them closed.

So, a very authentic N'or Easter experience in a very old, authentic room at the Wayside Inn.  Fun!

The  next day, we drove to Walden Pond, where we hiked around the pond to Thoreau's old cabin site.  That  has long been my dream, and it did not disappoint.

It just felt good to get out and walk.  It was about 2 miles total, if I remember correctly. (The pond, above, and the old cabin site, below.)

From there, we drove around the coast of Maine and meandered up to Belgrade Lakes where the play/movie On Golden Pond was based, but not filmed.

"Norman, the Loons, the loons, they're welcoming us back!"

"I don't hear a thing."

We had another wonderful dinner in Belgrade Lakes at The Village Inn and Tavern, where we also stayed.  Amazing dishes there.  And amazing cocktails. We had a large suite that night, and it felt like being home.

The next morning it was up early for the drive to Northern Maine, where I wanted to see my old school, the base (Loring AFB, closed in 1995), and the surrounding towns as you drive up the St. John River--Van Buren to Madawaska, New Sweden, Stockholm.)

It was a lot of driving, but we made it to Limestone.

As we were coming into town, we saw buses filled with potato harvest kids.  That was a blast from the past because I used to be one of those kids in the 80's--picking potatoes in a basket, and loading baskets to a barrel, until it was filled, tagging it, and starting again.

I made fifty cents per BARREL.

Bringing in the harvest.  I read that they had stopped letting kids out to work the harvest, but because of the labor shortage, farmers requested they start up again, and the local councils voted this year to do that. The harvest is mostly mechanized now.

In the book, Travels With Charley, In Search of America, John Steinbeck drove to Northern Maine to be a part of the old-time harvest--the one I got to participate in.  He felt like it would be a thing of the past.  I think it survived longer than he assumed, as little farms could not afford to invest in big machines we called, "harvesters." Eventually, most of those little farms, run by large Catholic families, sold out to bigger ones.

So here I was, thirty six years later. I had finally arrived at the closest thing I had known to a hometown.

And so far, very little seemed to have changed...but there was much more to see.

(To be continued...)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Autumn Snow, Hay, Pumpkins, and Trail Rides

What a year! We had snow in September and early October...

which hasn't happened in September for almost a hundred years.

Then it disappeared and Autumn returned: pumpkins, yellow and orange leaves, crisp sunshiney days.

We have a tradition of going to the pumpkin patch together--and we continue it, but in a more adult fashion--stopping for beer, wine, and hard cider.

The vet came for Cowboy.

She gave him the RX for Equioxx, but she wants me to give it to him in spurts with sections of rest in between to allow his body time to cleanse itself.  I'll definitely give it the night before and after a ride.  But, overall, she thinks he's doing pretty well and not in need of a daily dose yet.

We got our hay.

Fourteen round bales and about 10 tons of small square bales that, unfortunately, we've been going through way too fast already.  I can't find normal square bales anymore.  Instead, I'm seeing hay sold in rounds and squares.  I purchased 3 rounds at $95 per round.

3 rounds is about 1650 pounds, so you can see it's an expensive proposition.  I was paying $200/ton delivered and stacked. Rounds work out to a bit more, and we had to pick it up in my horse trailer.

The traditional "round" bales are about 750 pounds and run $45 a bale.  Our supplier puts away 42 for us.

Well, heading back out on the trail with some friends and my Cowboy!  And my sweetie and I are getting ready for that super romantic Maine and Boston trip I was telling you about earlier!  I'll share that adventure when we get back!  Happy Autumn!