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In an awe-inspiring display of my training acumen and current state of physical prowess, I fell off my pony this weekend. No, “pony” is not a euphemism for either the ungainly youth, or the stunningly athletic rocket launcher I have for big horses. It was the little paint pony.

In my defense, I was riding in my dressage saddle with “slick” jeans (as opposed to my breeches with grippy suede knee patches) and she’s a freakin’ pony that doesn’t have much body to wrap your legs around.

So when we were strolling on home, on a loose rein because she was being a good girl, and then she spooked at a great big nothing that she imagined from thin air that caused her to swoop abruptly sideways, I just flipped off her into the ground like someone had kicked my favorite barstool out from under my favorite butt. Splat.

In the pony’s defense, she was just as surprised as I was to find me picking myself up out of the gravel.

And on the plus side, it wasn’t very far to fall.

In unrelated news, after John and I had returned from a short walk around the property tonight, he started swiping at his waist band on his right side.

“What’s up?” I asked about his odd behavior.

“Bug,” he said.

“Oh, it’s probably not a bug,” I assured him. “It’s probably just a tick.”

Swipe.

“Great. I was under that tree,” he said. Scratch.

“Oh, ticks don’t fall off trees so much as they jump on you from tall grass,” I explained.

“We walked through all that pasture … ,” he said pulling his shirt from his waistband and rooting around for possible sources of a tickle, of a possibly creepy-crawly origin.

Hmmm. Cue the evil laugh in my head here.

Despite a bruise and scrapes, I still got it at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

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I’m headed back out to put in more fence posts. You stay right there in your chair —- no, no, no, really, you’re a guest, I wouldn’t think of making you help dig post holes. It’s nasty business. Just stay there and enjoy these guys, theslowmoguys on YouTube. Equal parts cool, funny and juvenile. Who can resist a triple threat like that?

I have aspirations to rise to that level at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

Flies: Learn from the untimely demise of your little blue-black friend today. You will live longer if you stay away from my chocolate.

Self: Listen to husband occasionally — especially when he points out that the difference in cost between buying the treated corner posts that I can drive into the ground and using the railroad ties I have, that require I dig more of this cement-hard ground = the price of a chiropractor’s appointment.

Self: Stop at the local Big R Store and buy yourself and your new fence line something pretty tomorrow. (Five treated posts, $57.50. One chiropractic visit, $55. Days that would be lost to miserable me, countless. Having a clever husband, priceless.)

Tazz, in no-big-deal mode during a training session

Tazz, the terrible 2-year-old horse: Just because the 280′ of twine strung between two corner posts is pretty thin and doesn’t bite like barbed or electric wire, doesn’t mean you should attempt to walk through it repeatedly — while I’m pulling on it, flapping my arms at you and cussing. Its use as a straight line is negated when you deliberately march straight into it and bow it east by 40′.

Self: Looks like the 2-year-old is going to be the curious, ears forward, unflappable horse you were hoping for. Don’t kill him for being what you want. No matter how many times he gets into things he’s not supposed to.

Universe: Ever notice how the traits that make people, animals, assorted things of the world, totally awesome are often the same traits that make them exasperating too.

Think about it at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

If your office party includes a “Chinese” auction gift exchange (no Chinese people are actually auctioned or otherwise harmed in this process), I have the perfect recommendation.

I know how these things go, having participated in a “Chinese” auction or two (where I learned about the Chinese-people-not-up-for-bid thing). Some people bring the gag gifts. Some people bring things they would like, but you wouldn’t be caught dead using/wearing/owning. And some people get in on some awesome sale, like 90 percent off at the local Herberger’s store, and give a gift that makes everyone who doesn’t get the chance to steal it envious and everyone who brought a traditional tacky gift feel like a heel. Ah, Christmas.

I am not a smart shopper, and I’m morally against paying money for cheesy crap.

So that left me, about four hours before the party (my version of planning ahead), sitting in the car with John waiting for a burger in the drive-through line wondering what to bring to the party that would be fun and not contribute to the piles of useless, lame regiftables in anyone’s home.

Since our next stop was the local custom smoked-meats shop, it occurred to us that we should get some of their premium bacon for a gift. Yes, bacon.

And some of you might be wondering why I didn’t at least get some thuringer or summer sausage that people could serve at a holiday party with cheese and crackers. And you’re right, that’s a grand idea. Practical, with a touch of elegance (in a hick-relevant kind of way, y’know).

My only argument is this: If you picture yourself in a room full of your colleagues (in their various states of polite discomfort and deteriorating sobriety), unwrapping a package and then holding in your hand a lovely tube of thuringer for the holidays — then you picture the same scene (complete with several layers of ice cream bag “wrapping paper”) and wind up with a slab of bacon in your hands, which one is going to make you laugh?

I rest my case.

And the post-party consensus: Well played, funny girl, well played. Of course, it certainly helped that the boss, transplanted here in Hicksville from an alternate socio-economic universe in the SoCal vector, wound up choosing said bacon. Some moments make the pain of social interaction worthwhile, priceless even.

Bacon, it’s what’s for Christmas at: pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

A big fiasco marred Montana’s Chouteau County Fair this year. It was, in fact, a big feral pig fiasco.

Seems the 30-some pigs used in the annual pig wrestling contest are let run free on a chunk of river-bottom acreage for the better part of the year then rounded up for their time to shine at the fair just prior to their big night. Grandstand entertainment at its best. This year though the pro-wrestling porkers managed to hide themselves from their would-be wranglers.

Search planes were sent to spot the AWOL herd, and rumors of grizzly bear tracks in Pigville had to stanched. As the wrestle-off time neared, however, organizers faced reality and activated the local emergency phone tree to warn fair-goers that the main grandstand event was postponed for one night.

To no avail, though.

The elusive pigs eluded captors a second day, disappointing wrestlers and spectators alike. Despite the piggishly unprofessional behavior of their cloven-footed partners, organizers vow to bring the show back bigger and better than ever for 2011 with improved wrangling techniques.

2010, though, will go down in the annals of history as the year that three stage acts were brought in to appease the fair crowds hungry for a white meat cage match.

Moooontana is the place for me, faaarm living is the life … at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

So we were standing in the checkout line at the grocery store the other day, and I briefly noticed a nice-looking, early 20-something couple at the register next to ours before unloading our basket. As I started rooting around in my purse for some legitimate form of payment for our groceries, I glanced at John and noticed him staring with an intense, and yet baffled, expression in the direction of the couple.

I swear I need to pay closer attention to the man because I just noted his look and went on with my busy-ness … until he interrupted me with:

“So what’s the third strap for?” What the hell is he talking about? I thought as I glanced up to see him still looking in the direction of that couple with that expression on his face.

I glanced back over my shoulder and noticed that the woman was wearing a tight, black, spaghetti-strap tank top, over a tight turquoise tank top which only showed as turquoise lace at the bottom and spaghetti straps at the top. Sure enough, there was a set of hot pink spaghetti straps also.

“It’s her bra,” I said before turning back to my wallet and fishing out the magic plastic money substitute.

“If she’s cold, why doesn’t she wear a thicker shirt, or one with sleeves?” John said.

Are you kidding me, man? “I don’t think she’s wearing two shirts for the warmth so much as to look stylish and sexy.”

“So showing her bra straps is supposed to be sexy?”

“I guess so,” and I’m laughing in little snorts by now.

“Hmm, y’know, back in the ’70s women wore only one of those tank tops and no bra. Now that was sexy.”

Peace, love and funkadelic support for those free-range boobies.

We’re groovy at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

I hate bras. It’s one of the few topics about which I will use that word and mean it. Hate ’em. Always have.

Bras do not fit me. When I was skinnier, I wore a 36″ 3/4A-cup. Yeah, I know. There’s no such thing. A’s were too big. Trainers too small. The A’s that tended to fit were padded because, y’know, clothing designers are adamant about the fact that being an A-cup must be a hideous embarrassment that needs to be “fixed” with a foamy insert so that when I walk into a room, I can lead with my boobs. Not a real high priority of mine.

Besides, I’m pretty sure that if I did not have corrective surgery to fix the “lots of character” portions of my otherwise plain face because it’s beyond me to be something I’m not, then I certainly will not pad up my chest to make it something it is not.

Now that I’m chubbier, I wear a 38″ A. Yeah, I know. There’s no such thing of that either. Even at Victoria’s Secret — the holy fortress of all feminine underthings.

(Side note: When I walk into a store like Victoria’s Secret sales attendants are both more uncomfortable and less amused than I am. In fact, this sales chick’s attitude clearly conveyed that she would rather be sales assisting a transvestite with a thong choice. Considering the number of times her eyes darted away, I think she was actually looking for a transvestite underthing-emergency to call her away from me, or the hidden candid cameras. I left the store empty-handed and with the assurance from her eyes that I should take my freak show to a discount store. Thank you very much for your time. Whatever.)

Bra-design experts are pretty sure that if you have a 38″ chest, it’s sporting a B-cup. Not so much here. Thanks to my dad’s DNA contribution, I have this barrel chest that requires extra space at the sternum. With my new, plumper, for-reals A-size I can shift a bra 1/2″ to 3/4″ to the right or left and get that one cup to fit pretty good. Yeah, I know. Awkward.

There’s no fitting both of my breasts in at the same time. They’re just crammed in there as best as possible, and bursting to fall out of the outside bottom edge of the cup. I’m forever adjusting — pulling my bra back down into place.

Guy relevance: imagine this happening in a jock strap and cup. Yeah, now you know.

Plus, I’m a little claustrophobic with a tight band around my chest. In fact, I stopped wearing sports bras that slip on over my head rather than clasp. When you try to “slip” off those pull-on bras over your head while they’re all sweaty, they roll up and bind, and you’re stuck with your arms — elbows high — bound to your head and your thumbs cinched into the knot so you can’t get loose. It’s terrifying. I have run headlong into the wall in a panicked attempt to free myself.

Just saying, there isn’t a whole lot I like about bras. I went many years wearing only dark T-shirts so I didn’t have to wear them, except when riding horses and for “occasions” that required something dressier than a dark T-shirt. Now though, with the office job I have almost daily “occasions,” and even a dark T-shirt can’t hide that flop of age-related connective tissue failure.

I wear bras frequently. It’s a horror.

I bring all this up because the other morning John walked into the bedroom while I was getting dressed for work and said, “Oh my poor, honey. She had to harness up for work. Look at her Cooper, she’s all cinched down and her boobies are going to suffocate.”

I chuckled and moved along to the bathroom to dry my hair, and I admit, I kind of tuned him out for a second as he rattled on to the dog. Then I realized what he was saying.

“It should be a crime to strap down a bodacious set of tah-tahs like that. We prefer free-range boobies, huh, Coop.”

I’ve never before heard of anyone calling an A-cup “bodacious,” but I do love the free-range boobies, so I’m thinking of having T-shirts — dark T-shirts — made that say: “Save the tah-tahs — free-range boobies only.”

I think they’ll be big-ticket items at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

red ants

Random view: Red ants on the job.

Remember the troll who works for the U.S. Census Bureau? And how John and I were all excited that he might come to our house? And how I wanted to put up a “Trolls Welcome” sign on the side of the house?

Yeah, he totally didn’t come to our house. Sure the Census worker we got today was highly polite and professional, but she was no troll I can tell you that much.

I just want to go on the record that we feel this moment is a colossal letdown. I mean, we could’ve had a troll. We wanted to test our metal against his magnetic trollness. We wanted to know if we would laugh. If he would also. These are important issues.

Then we get ultra-professional chick in all her niceness instead. Whatever, Census Bureau. Just another example of my government disappointing me.

I take it personally at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Finally, John and I have been married long enough to start enjoying the occasional abbreviated conversation:

This morning he approached me with a shirt in hand declaring that he hated to bug me but the shirt needs a button replaced. It was up to me to decide if I wanted to do it.

No, it was up to him I said. Do you want it replaced or not.

Well, he said, the shirt is a little old. But still good for a work shirt. And he doesn’t have very many light ones. Summer is coming up. The black one he was wearing yesterday is heavy. And a little scratchy. He has plenty of shirts, but not all of them all-season. Or ones that he particularly likes. But there’s a lot of them … etc.

I sat waiting for a “yes” or “no” on the button issue, patiently, staring, … still no definitive answer, just more etc.

I don’t know if the stare finally registered, or if it was his own words and the memory they prompted, but he turned away and said, “So I guess I need to get my ass to the store to find shirts I do like. Thanks. Good answer. Good reminder.”

He wandered down the hall to the bedroom. Nary a “yes” or “no” about the button replacement in this dialogue.

When I went to the bedroom for the next load of laundry, the shirt was hanging with another one in need of a button, so “yes” he wants it fixed.

And score one for me that he totally remembers my response to any complaints about needing clothes: Not my problem. Hie thee to the clothing store.

I will hie me to the button stash and make much-needed repairs.

21 years is a great start on a worthwhile marriage at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

John got torqued off reading articles about the efforts of many people and organizations helping earthquake victims in Haiti get fitted with prosthetics.

Of course, I didn’t know that he’d been reading them, he just planted himself in the office doorway and asked me, “So do you think people will remember Haiti in 18 months?”

And I, thinking this was an cynicism quiz, said, “Uum, noo. The public will have moved on to the next disaster. It’s easier to feel like you’re fulfilling your search for self-actualization only if the drama is high. Mop up after the party is so tedious.”

“No,” he replied (test fail, Pam, apparently). “They’re fitting people with prosthetics now, but will anyone be around in 18 months when they all need re-fitting.”

“Oh,” I said, heavy on the sarcasm, because I knew I had him caught in a web of hyperbole, “they’re all going to need re-fitting?”

“Yes. The stumps all will have changed dramatically within 18 month — muscles atrophy, kids grow.” I tell ya what, a guy has one arm surgically removed, like, a hundred years ago, and all of a sudden he’s a freakin’ amputation expert. “What’re they supposed to do?” he added. “Whittle new legs?” And he’s a wiseacre.

“Well, you got it figured out then, hon.” I conceded. “We should send a boatload of pocket knives. It’s like that saying: Give a guy a prosthetic leg, and he’ll walk for 18 months. Teach him how to whittle, and he’ll walk for a lifetime.”

“You’re sick.” That’s what he said, but he laughed, so I know what he meant.

This is what passes for intellectual discussion at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com