SCOTT SIMS WRITES
August 25, 2015

…”Eating Horses Don’t Die.” The title of a book Scott was writing. Wish he’d lived to finish it. Would love to read the manuscript. My interest? I hope there are many horse and Scott lovers reading this because I’d like to write about an ‘eating horse’–my beloved Aristotle–who Scott operated on  several years ago. I could write about that time, that incredible surgery, that experience–Ari’s life and times– but I’ll try to stick to the subject.

Ari was bon on Kauai in September, 1987, which makes him 88 and a half horse years old in people years, three years older than I. As a colt he was sent to Honolulu where he was badly abused.  A very proud horse, but spooky, he hated everyone. He was rescued by a lady and her family who loved horses–Scott would’ve loved that story–and I first met him, bought him for a song,  at her barn in May, 1993. There was something about that big roan– the way we looked at each other–that touched my heart.  I brought him home.

The first ‘eating horse’ story: he came at me striking. A big horse coming at you, walking on his hind legs, forelegs boxing the air, is a formidable sight. Taught by a Canadian Mountie, ‘always ‘leave ’em laughing’,  I calmed him down, fixed him a bucket of food and walked over the hill. Sadly.  My horses always have  full run of the land and I could not live with a horse that might attack me.  Several minutes later–I’d left Ari with a full bucket–I heard hooves clopping behind me. I didn’t know what to expect. I turned.  We met eye ball to eye ball. Face to face,

The look in his eyes  said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” We bonded.

Fast forward to his homecoming after the surgery. Scott had put him on  antibiotics, which Ari hated. He fought me.  Came at me striking. I took him off the drug and offered him Vitamin C. He loved it and healed quickly. I gave Scott  the drugs and told him the story. “He even ate oranges,” I said.

“Horses don’t eat oranges.”

“Don’t tell Ari,” I replied, “he hasn’t read that part of the book.”

Today my long- in- the- tooth beloved friend, eats like a horse. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I cook for him in the barn. He watches, making sure I do it right. No skimping. He counts: one large measuring bowl of oat alfalfa soaked in warm water, sprinkled with salt and tossed in his bucket. Another bowl of same dimpled with raw carrots. And one more bowl flavored with bran and laced with molasses on the top.  He licks the bucket. Scott would have loved the sight, but he would have said, as he always did, “Horses have no sense of taste.”

And, once again, I’d have replied, “Don’t tell Ari.”

I hope Scott’s right and Ari never dies.

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WILD HURRICANES I HAVE KNOWN
June 2, 2015

I’ve weathered four.  My husband and I escaped the ravages of Typhoon Jean, dodging caribou and ballistic teak logs the size of a Kauai bus shooting by us in a Philippine Airline jet taking off from a beach in Aparri, a primitive village in the province of Cagayan, Luzon-one bar, one outdoor movie, one hotel- on the banks of the South China Sea.  Aparri survived. Today it’s a first class municipality.

We made the fastest flight- ever- back to Manila that day. Jean was the biggest typhoon of the season.

A typhoon is a hurricane that swirls and whirls and rips around in another neighborhood.

The Aparri memory is a cute storyI tell often.

But hurricanes are not cute. No one can ever say ‘been there, done that’ or ‘seen one seen ’em all’ . Platitudes don’t apply. Each storm’s different. They’ve personalities all their own, and always a very human side.

In 1970 we were in Mississippi a year after Hurricane Camille demolished Gulfport and were amazed at the mess. A tug boat still  balanced  on its keel in the middle of a forest. It looked as though it’d just been planted. Along millionaire’s row, all a two story mansion had to show for itself were water pipes standing upright indicating bathrooms on a vanished second floor.

Hurricane Iwa-November 22, 1982-sent our beloved boat, Warpath in Kukuiula Harbor, over the top of a swimming pool and broke her back. She was headed for safe port in the red barn across the street.  We’d built the barn for $900.00. All by myself I tar- papered the roof. Not a corner  lifted. On Kauai’s millionaire’s row, it looked as though a war had gone through.

I’d spent a terrifying night in the barn with my horses in the lava rock house up the Alexander Dam Road. All I was was the howl of that wind

Bill-who was needed at the power plant in Wainiha- and I, coming home that  night, had a most incredible surprise in store for us.. On the north shore at Tahiti Nui, Louise Marston  prepared-on the beach-a Thanksgiving dinner to end all Thanksgiving dinners-the works-to those who could find their way to her open door. A generous, marvelous, wonderful woman, I miss her. We sat at a savory table with locals, hippies, surfers, tourists from everywhere, survivors, and indulged. I’ve never felt so thankful. I didn’t say grace but I thought it.

Back home, we’d just put the roof on our new house. Not a shingle lifted.

September 6, 1992, Iniki- the strongest storm to hit Hawaii-barreled through. I was alone. I spent the night here.  Three horses locked in stalls. Me and the dogs and cats hunkered down in my old Buick. I had carrots for the horses, nibbles for the dog and cats, and a bottle of wine for me. Before the night was over, the horses were eating dog food while the dogs and cats munched carrots. I didn’t share the wine.

My experienced advice during hurricane season? Be prepared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FUN OF BEING 84
April 25, 2015

It’s been a busy morning. Fed my beloved old horse, Aristotle. I prepare him a warm mash, salt, carrots, bran and molasses. He loves it. My handsome movie star vet, Scott Sims, says horses don’t have a sense of taste. I reply, “Well don’t tell Ari, he hasn’t read that part of the book.” Since I was five, I’ve bribed horses with sugar cubes. Amazing what you can get a horse to do with some sugar cubes in your pocket.

I was taught, as a little girl, a good horse soldier feeds his horse first.

My first riding instructor was General Cress- the Tiger of Luzon-a total pussy cat. He said I was a natural, which pleased my father. His daughter, Cornelia Van Ness Cress, was a brilliant, patient teacher. A lesbian I learned from a gossipy friend of my mother’s. It made no- never- mind to me. I always got to ride her dressage horse, Indian, on foggy wet morning jaunts through the Mills College Campus. She said I wasn’t a ‘lemon drop’ because I was one of the few kids who showed up for lessons on a rainy day. I loved the fog. Still do. Even voggy fog on Kauai. I love the smell of sulfur dioxide in the morning.

Next, two growing up kittens-Reba and Rosa-and my grown up puppy-Boots- get their fare. Today, Duke, the noisy Macaw, who greets me every morning with a cheerful “Hi”,  got fresh water, a  bowl of  parrot food- raisins, peanuts, a crumpled cookie, he has a decided sweet tooth-and  two slices of bananas.

Then I turn a feral hen, and the chick she’s trying to raise, loose to wander and scratch their way into a long day’s journey into night.  Mama’s teaching baby to eat worms and insects and other goodies found in every pile of fallen leaves. Every day her baby gets smarter and bigger. Fluffier, too. This morning she’s teaching it  to fly. She jumped up on a raised bench and clucked, “Come on sweetheart, try your wings.” Today it did. I don’t know if it’s a boy chicken or a girl chicken, but it’s sure cute and, I think, precocious.

Then it’s my turn. A cup of coffee-organic, no GMOs-and half a slice of croissant. No butter. It’s drippy and voggy out and I love watching yellow leaves swing and sway and waft their way to earth.

At 84 ripe I love looking back. There’s a lot to look back on. I love being here.  There’s a lot of here. And I love looking forward.

I love learning. The mother hen is teaching me as well as her baby.

I love time. I love space. We worked hard, my husband and I, to acquire the space. My jungle, which I love. The time, which I got but could not share with him. I love the time I have now to think about our life together. I love to wonder if he would approve. He’d be happy  I’m having fun.