By Fred Owens
Calypso was her name -- the name of Laurie's horse, an Appaloosa thoroughbred cross. Laurie got her when she was 2 and kept her until she died at 34 -- that's a long time, 32 years, and Calypso was a good horse. Laurie kept her in the backyard and hauled in the hay and feed and rode her on the beach.
Laurie always wanted a horse since she was a little girl growing up in Manhattan Beach. She and her husband, Paul, bought the house in 1976 here in Santa Barbara, a comfortable three bedroom ranch house on a half-acre lot, with room for a good-sized corral in the back. They bought Calypso the next year for $750. Laurie says she got lucky choosing Calypso, not having the experience of owning a horse. And Calypso was "green broke," that is, not well trained. But it worked out, and Calypso and Laurie became life long friends -- they learned together.
This part of Santa Barbara was horse country back then. Lots of people kept horses and public/private trails wandered over the hill sides and down to the beach. Now horse ownership is less common because the area has been built up and many of the trails are closed. Still, our next door neighbor Alex keeps a horse in his backyard. We can hear the horse making shuffling noises in the quiet of the night.
Calypso enjoyed good health most of her life, but had trouble with her eyes in later years, finally going almost blind. After Calypso died in 2009 Laurie decided not to have another horse. In coming issues we will be telling more about Calypso and Laurie's life as a horsewoman.
My Car Might Be Totaled. I am distracted from post-car-wreck trauma. I am handling it well and know, and truly believe, that I will get another car and it will be a good one. But here's the story, skipping the details. My car, a 2004 Nissan Sentra which I have owned for 8 years, was innocently parked on the street in front of the house. At about 9:30 on Tuesday evening, Jesus Garcia driving his Lexus for Uber, sideswiped my car causing major damage to both vehicles. Jesus is a nice man with Mercury insurance. I filed a claim yesterday and they said they will come and tow it away today and arrange a loaner. We await judgment -- will they repair it, or offer me a cash settlement? I am not worried about all this. Cars come and cars go.
Smoky Air. As of Thursday morning, we are only lightly impacted by the raging infernos sweeping across the Golden State, only a slight odor of smoky air in the morning fog. I called my brother in Sierra Madre, a nice town just east of Pasadena. There is a major blaze too near to their home. Tom said he wasn't worried and the sheriff has not yet come knocking on his door. Tom and Marti have two dogs and do not care to leave their premises. But he did say, toward the end of our conversation last night, that they had several bags packed and ready to go by the front door -- packed with documents, prescriptions, and snacks for the dogs. Marti's daughter in Playa Vista, on the beach, has a spare bedroom and the dogs are welcome. Tom says they will leave if they have to.
Garden News -- the Gopher War Continues. Laurie ended the short but sweet life of the gopher that was gnawing off the main stem of her prized tomatoes and peppers. The gopher kills the whole plant that way. We welcome all hawks and owls. Come here and hunt. We encourage Sasha the cat to come prowling for fat little rodents. I will not bore you with garden philosophy and how growing vegetable teaches us life lessons. The hell with that. Those are our tomatoes. We did all the work and we're not gonna allow these welfare-chiselling gophers to get a free lunch.
Boredom. We are not bored, as so many people report. True, we are watching more TV than we used to. And it takes longer to find something good on Netflix. But we are not getting fat, getting drunk, abusing prescription drugs or fighting with each other. Laurie and I continue to enjoy each other's company. We will never run out of good books to read. I have a half dozen Dickens novels in storage. I could easily read them a second time. As it is right now I am reading Million Dollar Baby, a collection of short stories by boxing writer F.X. Toole. Laurie is reading a Margaret Atwood's after the Flood.
Too much news. These are uncertain times. I am writing this on Thursday morning. It will be published on Friday afternoon. Who knows what will happen next. Don't be discouraged. I saw Democratic VP candidate Kamala Harris give an interview on CNN a few days ago. She is worried about all the same things that you and I are worried about, but she is doing her best to make it whole again. She's going to do her part, and we will do our part. That's all for today. Stay safe and stay healthy.