Pony, pony, pony

When I moved onto this 1.17-acre microranch, I did what most people do when buying country property*:

I went a little bit nuts.

In short order, I had three horses, 30-odd chicken, two ducks, a handful of goats (some already pregnant) … and of course the full complement of dogs and cats I moved in with. To be fair, some of the chickens and both the ducks moved along with me, too.

But three horses? Yes, that’s crazy. Especially since I hadn’t done any riding of note in 30-plus years, and had developed a fear of falling that gripped me at anything faster than slow walk.  Not to mention: I was facing significant back surgery. Horses I came back to about 20 years too late.

I also collected other strays, most notable a fifth-wheel trailer and retired guy to go in it rent-free, ostensibly in trade for helping care for it all. That was a good idea in principle that didn’t stand the test of time.

Four and half years later, the horses are gone, and so is the retired guy and the trailer. The ducks died, and I’ve given away or eaten about a third of the chickens. The little dairy goats are down to a manageable herd of five does, none pregnant. Both the cats have been rehomed after it became clear they would be happier in dog-free surroundings.

Dogs, there will always be.

My life is pretty easy, in terms of maintenance. That couldn’t remain steady, though, could it? So of course when my  asked me to take a pony for her, I said yes.

Because pony.

Here you are, sensibly closing in 60. And then someone wants to give you a pony and you can just take the zero off.

Yes, I’m six years old now, and I’m getting a pony.

His name is PJ, which is almost as cute as he is.


I honestly don’t think I’ll ever grow up.

*I live about two miles from a Target, a Starbucks, three banks and a high-end grocery store. It’s really not all that country here anymore. Really, it never was: I can see downtown Sacramento from my street, and could ride a bike to the steps of the State Capitol. But an owl just killed two of the residents of my poultry yard, and coyotes roam the streets. And my next-door neighbor drives a carriage for a living.  So … it’s kind of country, no?



Sometimes you have to go long

About four years ago I got a call asking if I wanted to take a job that had actually been created in hopes I’d take it. It’s not every day that happens — actually, it’s the only time that has ever happened to me — and so I choked down a knee-jerk reaction to say no, and let the man have his say.

At the end of that, I took the job.

It was — and still remains — a very good job, and to this day I am happy, challenged and fortunate in the work I do. But it did mean ending a pretty good run being paid to have an opinion about things as a syndicated columnist and blogger.

At first I liked not having to have an opinion about things. I recommended my syndicated column be taken over by a good friend who’s a journalist I admire — the syndicate was smart enough to say yes — and threw myself into the work of turning big data into good narrative in the service of a company so large that if I mentioned the name you’d sing the jingle.

People always do, you see, and it annoyed me at first but I don’t really care anymore.

That’s because I have a crap-ton of exciting data to consider, and I work on a team with economists, doctors and biostatisticians producing studies that help people make better choices when it comes to choosing and caring for companion animals. I don’t overtly sell the product, but I don’t mind at all if people come away from the studies thinking just maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea if they had the product.

I have the product, after all, and have had for a very long time. Long before the man called to pitch me the idea of working for the company that sells more of that product than any other company in the United States, and not by a small margin, either. (OK, fine: This is the product.)

All well and good, but …

I still have opinions. And I still want to write about things just because I want to write about them, and because social media can be too limiting for that purpose.

I used to blog every day, and then came social media and then came the new job and then,  I was tossing out thoughts willy-nilly on Twitter and Facebook, and putting “fuck” and “fucking” in a lot of places for emphasis. I suspect the latter is because social media isn’t the format I need to be working in for a lot of what I want to be writing about.

In other words, I’m fucking tired of being limited to 140 characters. And I’m fucking tired of arguing with idiots and/or family on Facebook.

Finally, there’s the matter of a work of fiction I have been promising the best editor I’ve ever worked with for more than a few years now. The best way to write a book, I’ve found, it to write all the time, work those muscles and develop some good habits that may have lapsed.

And so, here I am. Again.