Category Archives: personal

Of Love

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all but ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway beautiful people to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some – now carry my revelation with you –
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes, every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world – its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself – I imagine
this is how it began.

– Mary Oliver

Snowman (repost)

UPDATE: There is a snowman movie coming out! They are looking for film and photos of snowman if you have any available! Please contact Pam directly and not me. Thanks!

Docutainment Films is seeking content for the upcoming documentary on Snowman & Harry de Leyer.
If you have film/photos/articles about any of the topics below, please contact Pam Aguilar at email pam@docutainmentfilms.com.

• Harry de Leyer & The deLeyer Family
• Snowman
• 1950s jumper champions: Andante, Sonora, McLain Street, Australis, Windsor Castle, Sinjon
• National Horse Shows between 1955—1965
• Riders: David Kelley, George Morris, Bobby Burke
• Dutch Crown late 70s
• Horse Shows between 1955—1965
• Jumper classes between 1955—1965

http://www.harryandsnowman.com/

This is a post from April 2006 that I’m reposting, since I was just contacted by Elizabeth Letts who is writing a new book about Snowman!  Elizabeth writes:

I am so pleased and excited to see all of these posts about Snowman and Harry de Leyer.

I am currently working on a new full-length book about Snowman and Harry– it is such an inspirational story that I hope a whole new generation will learn about this wonderful tale. The book is currently titled THE CINDERELLA HORSE and it is coming from Random House in 2011. It is a love affair with Snowman, with horse stories, and with the wonderful world of show jumping in the 1950s and the old National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden…

I would LOVE to hear from anyone who has personal memories of Snowman, including anyone who remembers watching him compete.

Please contact me at ElizabethLetts@gmail.com

Please contact Elizabeth if you can share any information about Snowman or Harry!!

_____________________________________________________________________

For one of those days when lately I’ve felt like an old nag myself…

Snowman, 1992 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Inductee

Snowman’s Wikipedia page.

Breyer Horse Model of Snowman

The Abundant Life

The abundant life is within our reach if only we will drink deeply of living water, fill our hearts with love, and create of our lives a masterpiece.

Harry de Leyer was late to the auction on that snowy day in 1956, and all of the good horses had already been sold. The few that remained were old and spent and had been bought by a company that would salvage them.

Harry, the riding master at a girls’ school in New York, was about to leave when one of these horses—an uncared-for, gray gelding with ugly-looking wounds on its legs—caught his eye. The animal still bore the marks that had been made by a heavy work harness, evidence to the hard life he had led. But something about him captured Harry’s attention, so he offered $80 for him.

It was snowing when Harry’s children saw the horse for the first time, and because of the coat of snow on the horse’s back, the children named him “Snowman.”

Harry took good care of the horse, which turned out to be a gentle and reliable friend—a horse the girls liked to ride because he was steady and didn’t startle like some of the others. In fact, Snowman made such rapid improvement that a neighbor purchased him for twice what Harry had originally paid.

But Snowman kept disappearing from the neighbor’s pasture—sometimes ending up in adjoining potato fields, other times back at Harry’s. It appeared that the horse must have jumped over the fences between the properties, but that seemed impossible—Harry had never seen Snowman jump over anything much higher than a fallen log.

But eventually, the neighbor’s patience came to an end, and he insisted Harry take back the horse.

For years, Harry’s great dream had been to produce a champion jumping horse. He’d had moderate success in the past, but in order to compete at the highest levels, he knew he would have to buy a pedigreed horse that had been specifically bred to jump. And that kind of pedigree would cost far more than he could afford.

Snowman was already getting old—he was eight when Harry had purchased him—and he had been badly treated. But, apparently, Snowman wanted to jump, so Harry decided to see what the horse could do.

What Harry saw made him think that maybe his horse had a chance to compete.

In 1958, Harry entered Snowman in his first competition. Snowman stood among the beautifully bred, champion horses, looking very much out of place. Other horse breeders called Snowman a “flea-bitten gray.”

But a wonderful, unbelievable thing happened that day.

Snowman won!

Harry continued to enter Snowman in other competitions, and Snowman continued to win.

Audiences cheered every time Snowman won an event. He became a symbol of how extraordinary an ordinary horse could be. He appeared on television. Stories and books were written about him.

As Snowman continued to win, one buyer offered $100,000 for the old plow horse, but Harry would not sell. In 1958 and 1959, Snowman was named “Horse of the Year.” Eventually, the gray gelding—who had once been marked for sale to a low bidder—was inducted into the show jumping Hall of Fame.
— Rutherford George Montgomery, Snowman (1962)

For many, Snowman was much more than a horse. He became an example of the hidden, untapped potential that lies within each of us.

Another death in the family

Seems like all I post on the blog lately is the sad news.

We are off to Tucson again, this time for my brother-in-law’s funeral. Randy was way too young to go, but actually made it a lot longer than he was expected to be around when he was first diagnosed with leukemia many years ago. He survived leukemia, with a lot of scares along the way. He survived thyroid cancer, too, having his thyroid removed a couple years ago. This time he was not so fortunate, although he fought a good fight, as always. He lost the battle with pneumonia, after suffering a broken hip.

My sister-in-law is holding up well, so far, dealing with all the details and going into that “numb” place for now where we deal with what has to be done. My son was there for them, and wrote a lovely tribute to his uncle:

There were no miracles the day that my uncle passed away. If anything, they had been the previous 15 years, two decades or so when he’d been given 5 to live. Cancer drugs sucked, but they’d offered years more for me to get to know my uncle.

He loved science fiction, he wrote an as yet unpublished children’s novel, he loved antiques. He collected Minox cameras and 8mm Disney films. He was a chemist, who produced kits to excite kids, like me and my brother, about Science. I think a big part of why my brother is getting his degree in the field is because of my uncle.

I only realized as I walked into the hospital that, when I feared that I had not used the years with him very well, that my uncle Randy, and my aunt, had known how to value time spent together all along, after making it through those first 5 years.

I hadn’t even given it much thought. But they knew better. They had treasured the years. The days. The hours, and made sure I did too, even if I didn’t look up every time the clock struck looking for the sword hanging over our time.

Words for me are almost useless when it comes to death, and I take little comfort from them. But there’s no other real way to express the feelings here, the sorrow, the loss, the grief, the understanding that none of us lasts forever. Life is precious, temporary, and remarkable, no matter what life you have. Loved ones will not be around forever, so appreciate them, love them as best you can, and cherish them while they are here. What else is there to say, or to do when we come to an end. We loved those who are gone, and we love those who remain behind.

16 years

Had to say goodbye to our kitty Willis today. This was Willis in younger and happier days, when he enjoyed curling up in the sink. He just turned 16 last week. We lost him to a bladder infection, let him go today when he wasn’t eating or drinking any longer. He last had an infection in 2005, and we almost lost him then. Weren’t so lucky this time.

Thanks for 16 great years, little kitty, and enjoy the bird hunting in kitty heaven.

Writer (repost from 2005)


“Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid,” by Jan Vermeer

She withdrew into herself,
First writing just for one,
Then touching thousands.
She incarnated ghosts, hurt, and joy
Into paper-and-ink stories of wonder.

One author said, “I can get rid of anything by writing about it,” meaning that the process of externalization could liberate him from the pain in his soul. That realization produced a delicious dichotomy; to free himself: or to hold on to both joys and tortures by remaining silent about them.

Writers write because they must: They need to express something from deep within themselves. They hear voices that others do not. They listen urgently, and they must communicate what they hear.

People feel Tao in the same way that writers feel something unique. In the process of listening for mysterious voices and expressing the wonder that comes is a magic akin to the perfection of Tao.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all. — Lord Byron

“I started with all the handicaps, incapabilities and helplessness. I didn’t talk when I was twenty. I taught myself by the act of writing.” –Anais Nin

“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one;
it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself.” — Henry Miller

Most people are separated from writing about the things they really feel deeply or even sometimes from knowing they feel those things at all. We live in a very shallow sort of society where we are rather actively discouraged from thinking about anything too deeply or expressing our inner thoughts and emotions, and most people come to internalize this and guard their own thoughts from any depth of feeling.

Yet we admire writers who are able to make us feel, and end up caring more at times about fictional characters than those in our own lives. Why? Because we see the depth of feeling displayed in those characters, while those in our own lives are trained not to show their own depths.

A lot of writers write because they can’t express these things in their own lives, so they create fictional characters where they can share their thoughts and feelings.

Tao is about a deep connection with the process of life itself. Once you experience that, you find it everywhere, in everything. It isn’t possible to be separated from it, although some days the feeling is certainly deeper than other days.

I’ve written for a long time for myself. I would like to write for others as well.

Annoyances and Irritations

The light of the soul is bright, but dense clouds of human ignorance obscure it. Where are you in terms of your effort to make your life brighter?

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

For me, the thing that most dims my light shining in the world is annoyances. Little everyday annoyances, with myself or with other people or things. As Anton Chekhov put it, “Any idiot can handle a crisis – it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.” It is the day-to-day annoyances that get to me – my husband’s seeming inability to actually close a drawer all the way, my kids’ inability to see the floor as a space to walk on rather than a shelf for all their stuff, the stupidity of the things that are happening in our government, and nearly any demonstration of stupidity can tick me off, really, if I’m not in the right frame of mind. Then there is the meta-annoyance at being annoyed itself – I get annoyed that I am annoyed.

So when I feel annoyed, I am not the calm, rational person with perspective and far-sighted vision that I would like to be. My light dims with the clouds of annoyance and frustration and sometimes even anger. The “watcher” in me, who can usually sit back and observe everything with amusement, becomes caught up in these feelings and for those few moments, the fog creeps in…

“Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to appear. It annoys them very much.” — G. K. Chesterton

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” — Mark Twain

“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” — Isaac Asimov

“If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.” — Kingsley Amis

The Tao of the Self — Nine

There’s no point pouring more into your cup when it is already full.
If you oversharpen your knife, the edge becomes blunt more quickly.
If you have too much stuff, it’s difficult to protect and take care of it all.
Being arrogant about your wealth and accomplishments leads to reproach.
When you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, retreat into yourself.
This is the way that leads to contentment.

The Tao of the Self — Nine

The Tao of the Self — Eight

The easiest way to be yourself is simply to flow like water.
Water flows easily and benefits everyone without even trying.
It is lifted to the highest places and flows down to the lowest places
And so is like the Tao.

Consider what you let flow into the watershed where you live.
Consider the flow of the deepest feelings of your heart.
Consider how to flow easily with other people, and be good to them.
Consider the flow of the words you say, and their meaning.
Consider what flows from your government.
Consider the flow of the work you do and enjoy it.
Consider the flow in the timing of the actions you take.

If you are sure of who you are and don’t contest it with others,
there is nobody to blame.

The Tao of the Self — Eight

Have to include this version also since it is beautifully written:

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 8
translated by Red Pine (1996)

The best are like water
bringing help to all
without competing
choosing what others avoid
hence approaching the Tao
dwelling with earth
thinking with depth
helping with kindness
speaking with truth
governing with peace
working with skill
moving with time
and because they don’t compete
they aren’t maligned

The Tao of the Self — Seven

We think of Heaven as eternal
And Earth as lasting a very long time.
Why do Heaven and Earth endure?
They don’t exist for themselves,
So they are able to last a long time.
So if we are wise, we will not think of ourselves alone,
But what we want to live beyond us.
We can move beyond self-gratification
And consider what is best for the long term.
By acting beyond our own self-interest,
We can fulfill greater goals
And live on through our actions.

The Tao of the Self — Seven

The Tao of the Self — Six

valley_of_flowers_uttaranchal_full_view
The Valley of Flowers, in northern India’s state of Uttarakhand

Be open and empty, like a great valley;
Be receptive of the world like a mother is to her child.
Be open to all things, soak up the rain and the sunshine.
And accept the fog and mist that rolls in sometimes,
If you are always open to life, that spirit will never fail you.

– The Tao of the Self — Six