07 February 2011

I lived here once...

Arabian Horse at Scottsdale in 2010

A rider at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show~2010

Working in the Show Horse business
is a rough trade at times.
I would work 16-18 hour days.
During breeding and foaling season,
being able to eat a full meal was only a dream.
Gearing up and being fully immersed in
"Show Season" meant that a day off was
months away!
Dealing with farm owners, trainers, and horse clients
could be less than pleasant most days.
The reward was the sweet horses, of course!
 When *review and raise*
time came around, I didn't want more money.
I wanted a day off each week!
I had been working 24/7 for a year.
I lived on the farm property, and sometimes
a month would go by, and I had not been past
the front gates!
The Arabian show and breeding ranch I worked for in south Florida.
M house was to the back of the paddocks, with the brown roof!

Everyone needs a day off.
To refresh our bodies and our brains.
I remember fighting for a day off, and they threw in a
handsome raise if I wouldn't take a day for myself!
But, in the end, I got my day.
But, this is how most show barns run.
Another year went by and I made a decision to leave.
I was so very tired.
Stressed out.
emotionally,  physically, and spiritually.
I needed a break.

So many people think working in the show horse business is
A. Glamorous
B. That we just ride horses all day long!

It is a high dollar business with a product that happens to
be a living, breathing creature.
Too many in the business forget that!
~Flashback to around 1997~
I was living in North Georgia
and worked at a private Arabian horse farm.
On a weekend trip to South Ga.
I detoured off the interstate to take the
back roads.
While driving I came upon the cutest,
most quaint small town.
The epitome of southern life.

I passed wonderful old homes.
Some enormous, some small.
Magnolia trees in every yard.


As I came into town there was a parade
happening on main street.
As it turned out, they were celebrating
the "return" of the little town.
In 1994 Tropical Storm Alberto came through
and wreaked havoc on the area.


1994 flooding of Montezuma, Georgia!

Since I couldn't drive any further until the parade was over,
I parked the car.
And enjoyed the parade just like all the locals.
People were friendly.
People waved.
People chatted with me :)
Good golly, Miss Molly!
I felt like I was in an episode of
Mayberry, RFD!
On my way out of town I ate at the
famous Mennonite restaurant,
Yoder's Deitsch Haus.
I drove on a long stretch of road passing scenes
like this,
I marveled at the pecan farms and
the peach orchards.
I purchased a mirror from a roadside flea market
run by a group of gypsies!
 As I made my way out of this quaint little
town toward my destination,
I thought to myself,
~I want to live here one day~

After giving a two month notice to the farm,
I had to decide what was next.
Did I want to continue working in the
Arabian Show Horse business?
Did I want to even continue working with horses?
But, I wanted a break.
I decided to take a year off from horses.
And I wanted to move back to Georgia.

I missed living there.
I wanted to find a job with little stress, where I actually got
a day or two (!) off every week!
Rent an old house where I could garden.
Maybe even have a front porch!

I got in touch with a friend who was a realtor
in south Georgia.
He had the perfect house.
His mother had passed away two years before.

She had owned an old home, built in 1879.
It was completely renovated to keep it's vintage charm.
It had been her pride and joy!
He wasn't ready to sell the home.
But, he was willing to rent it.
To me!
And the home was in Montezuma!
(Ah, sometimes Fate smiles on you...)

The home I rented! It was even on a Historic Walking Tour!

And so, on a beautiful day, the 6th of October, I left south Florida
and moved back to Ga.
I spent about 10 days cleaning, cleaning, cleaning the old house.
Since no one had lived there in quite a long time, it was in need of
love and gallons of Mr. Clean!
In my spare time I would venture into town,
and around the county, taking pictures of the beautiful, old homes.










One day while photographing
an old cabin on a dirt lane,
 a car came barreling down the drive.
A man in a jacket and baseball cap hopped out of the car.
I expected him to tell me to get his property.
Instead he gave me the
 history of the cabin,
told me his home was further down the lane,
and went I went to introduce myself,
he already knew.
"Yep, yep, your the girl from Florida"
My mouth must have been wide open.
"Small town", he replied!




Macon County courthouse where I met former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn.
They were very gracious!
A few days later while researching my *new* home at the
courthouse, I asked the county clerk if she knew of any local jobs.
I wasn't picky.
She told me to run over to white Victorian house, next to the depot.
I didn't even ask what the job was.
(All I heard was
White Victorian Home!)

And I did.
The sign outside said,
Dental Office.


The office of the "Good Doctor"!

But, I went inside.
The receptionist let me know she was leaving,
and it was her job that was available.
She went into another office to see if the dentist
wanted to interview me!
When I stepped
into the office I saw a man wearing a jacket,
and a baseball cap.
It was the person whose cabin I had been taking pics of!
Not only was he a
Doctor of Medical Denistry,
he was also a
Medical Doctor!

"The Good Doc",
was what everyone in town called him.
"Can you answer a phone", he asked.
I shook my head.
And I got the job.

(i took a class on filing insurance and Medicaid,
something new for my horsey resume!)



The office of the Good Doc was on S. Dooly street.
 Working at the dentist office, I met almost everyone
who lived in the county.
For, the Good Doctor, was the only
dentist in the county!

I met so many good people.
Of course, I met a lot of characters, too!
Small towns seem to have them.
People called me
Sweet Pea,
you name it.

On rainy days, very few people ventured out
to their set appoinments.
The Good Doc and I would sit on the front porch,
in big rocking chairs, and watch the day pass.
Many times, his friends would stop by to chat and carry on.
Oh, the stories I heard....

Each morning I was on Bat Patrol.
Yes, Bats!
For some odd reason the entire county was a haven for the night fliers.
(I even got to witness the courthouse being tented and fumigated for bats!)

I was always the first one in the office each morning.
I would go from room to room checking for the creepy fliers.
When (and I always did) I found one, they were usually asleep on the floor.
I would use a towel, pick it up, and set it free-outside.
One morning, after the office was in full swing,
there came a blood curdling scream from the restroom.
I guess I missed one.
She ran out, never to return.
I always wondered where she went to get her yearly checkup.





Each day at 11am the train came roaring through. Everything in the dentist shook and rattled!

These two brothers died during the Smallpox epidemic during the mid 1800's.


The two cemetaries had walking tours you could take. I learned so much about county history through these.

Each day I picked up my mail and the Good Doc's mail at the post office.
There was no delivery unless you lived 10 miles out of town!
Pastor Bobby and the nice clerk from the courthouse, were
usually on the front steps.
Trading stories.

The Gossip Place! The post office.
I usually spent a few minutes in the post office with the locals
getting caught up on the town gossip,
who was in the 14 bed little hospital,
who had passed away,
who had a baby,
and on,
and on!

Then I would cross the street to eat at "Troys".
One of three diners in town that were packed each day at lunch-time.




Each day the same men sat at the window table

For the first ever, I had a normal 8-5 job!
With evenings free, and weekends off
I  made the most of my time.
I learned the back roads, found flea markets in dingy old buildings,
shopped at a small grocery run by the Mennonite community,
and took hundreds of pictures.
The funeral home!

I attended an all black church, because a girl at my bank invited me.
I sang and shouted just like everyone else.
And had a glorious time each Sunday morning!
And each Sunday after the service was over, I was always invited somewhere
to partake in Sunday dinner.
I learned to eat collard greens,
HoBo stew, buttermilk pie.
I learned how to make bisquits from scratch
and fried chicken.
That year I really learned how to cook.
And often on weekends I helped out the local vet.
He would pick me up in his old truck and off we would go.
To a farm with a birthing cow in trouble, a horse in need in of stitches,
or a goat caught up in a fence.
He had a little help and I got my fix of helping a sweet animal in need.




That year was kind to me.
For the first time, in a long time, I had a normal life.
I made a few big decisions.
I slept in on Saturdays.
I spent the majority of my time alone.
I guess it was sort of my
"Eat, Pray, Love"

This incredible home is next to the dentist office.
It is has been under renovation for 10 years and is now
on the Historic Registry.

But, some good things must come to an end.
I remember one day in September,
 after living in Montezuma almost one year,
the Good Doctor
saying he didn't think I would stay much longer.
"Where else would I go?" I asked.

He must have had a sixth sense.
Because days after that quip of his,
I had a phone call from someone offering me a
horsey position.
Doing private-owner horse work.
At their home on the beach, in Vero Beach, Florida.

I guess I knew I wouldn't stay in Montezuma forever.
Even though I loved my job at the Good Doc's office,
I longed to be with my four-legged friends.

It was time for me to enter back into the work-force
of my profession.
A profession I loved with all my heart,
had made a good name for myself,
and let me be around all those
wonderful, equine creatures.

The Good Doc had a little party for me.
At "Troys"! After hours!
It was a mix of all those awesome
Montezuma residents that had made my year
so special there.
There was a lot of fun.
A little good gossip.
Hoards of southern cuisine.
Of which, the fried chicken was mine!
Made with my own  hands :)

I cried. A whole bunch.

The day I pulled out of Montezuma
(exactly one year to the day, that i had moved there!!)
I cried again.
To the tunes of several meowing cats in carriers.
I cried all the way down Interstate 75 until I crossed
the Georgia-Florida border.

And then I remembered what good friends I had waiting for me
in the land of beaches, palm trees, and
Arabian horses.
Three Arabian horses to be exact.
Three horses whose nanny I was to be!

I still get a Christmas card each year from the
Good Doc.
All is well in Montezuma!
And at times, when I reflect back on my year
living there~
it almost seems like a dream.
A magical dream filled with good friends,
breathtaking old, historic southern homes, days off, lots of sleep,
a little gossip,
& bats.

And, yes.
The bats are still there....

p.s. Six months later I met J!


































Rural Revival said...

Good Golly Miss Molly is right! Mishy!! This my dear is such a wonderful story; I didn't want it to end. I want to live in Montezuma with you as my neighbour and go to church together. : )

What a fantastic experience for you and I would agree, this was a time you needed to take for yourself, body and soul.

You really should write a book, you know that right?

This is one of my most favourite posts and aahh, everything happens for a reason...you went back to Florida to find your sweetie..a perfect ending.



Donna said...

What a lovely post! I love hearing about where you have lived and your past jobs.
Montezuma sounds like a Mayberry!
We must all decide what is right for us and girlfriend you did what you loved :)
Gosh ... my life is boring compared to yours!

Rachel said...

Isn't it wonderful what things we discover from being brave?

Growing Up A Country Girl said...

A wonderful post and great pictures! Enjoy Enjoy Enjoyed it!

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

And that ...as they say...is HISTORY! What a wonderful life you led during that year of rest and relaxation Misha and what a wonderful place to live. I love the house you rented...I bet it was just as beautiful inside as it was on the outside. I'm sure the people there missed you after you left as it sounds like you fit right in...but I'm not surprised. Thank you for sharing that little piece of your life with us.
Maura :)

Julie Harward said...

Thanks for sharing part of your story, very interesting. My sis trained Arabians and took them to the top 10 in the nation. Now, I want to hear about meeting J. Come say hi ;D

Golden To Silver Val said...

Oh I knew it...I just knew it! I knew that your life would be interesting as all get out. Thank you SOOOO much for sharing this. I loved every single word! I hope you will continue on with your story. I think you are so very lucky to have lived in a town like Montezuma...with so many rich memories. Thank you again for sharing and please please continue on with it!! Love it. Hugs!!

Tonya said...

I so enjoyed reading your post wow what a neat adventure and life Thank you so much for sharing all of this. Blessings.

texwisgirl said...

What a wonderful place. A fairy tale place. A down-home, rich in family, rich in history place. Thanks for sharing it with us. My heart breaks a little that you left it, but you obviously had a life that was waiting for you elsewhere. What a wonderful year for yourself...

Karen said...

Misha, I think this is my favorite post of yours - loved reading of your journey, and what a fantastic little town, so much charm and full of decent people. Makes me want to move there!! except for the floods.

The show horse world is kind of insane, we got out of the QH circuit after just two years because I thought.. THIS is not how I want my horses or my family to live. And the people who care for the horses are often treated poorly by owners of the farms and owners of the expensive horses.

You did the right thing all around, I think :-) What a beautiful farm though - reminds me of Roberts Quarter Horses farm in Florida.

Deb said...

I LOVE this story! I've been waiting for you to post another one of your interesting stories. I am floored by the swanky horse ranch but I loved the year you spent in Georgia. I want to live there!!! I agree with the first comment, I didn't want the story to end and I think you should write a book. The people and places in that small town sound wonderful and who doesn't love beautiful old houses. You're right, it was like your Eat, Pray, Love year. You needed to renew your soul after NO days off for so long. Everyone needs time off from work in order to do a good job. It looks like the Arabian owners would have realized that.

What an interesting life you have already lead my friend, and you are still so young! Thanks for sharing it with us.

ain't for city gals said...

This story is SO much better than eat, pray and love! Have you ever seen the movie Baby Boom...one of my fav and reminded me a little of your life...I thought for sure you were going to marry the good doc...I forgot about J !..lol...Everyone should take a year off and do something different...

Jeanette said...

What a great story! I would love to spend some time living in a small town.

Patty Sumner said...

What a great piece of your life's story. I enjoyed reading it and seeing the wonderful old homes and historic places. Made me feel as if I was there. Blessings!

Sandy said...

After living in Athens, GA for most of my life and now also living in the eastern Tennessee mountains, that was like a trip home. Been through Montezuma numerous times! What a pretty quaint Georgia town. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Amy said...

Oh Misha, I never knew your profession, so first that was extremely interesting and your story was wonderful!!! I love small towns also for better and for worse!! There are always positives and negatives with everything and small towns have their shares but oh what a wonderful feeling living in a community that cares!! I kept waiting for the Good Doc to be J...to be honest I don't know what J does, so I wasn't sure...but I understood at the end he wasn't the same guy!! Have you written about how you met J? Did he work with horses too? Did you acquire your arabians through people you worked for before? Were they retired horses you took off their hands??
You write so beautifully and your life sounds like such an adventure, thank you so much for sharing with us Misha!!
Hugs from Norway :-)

Phyllis said...

What a beautiful and sweet story - like in a novel. The houses were gorgeous!

Lucy (aka rharper) said...

I loved this post!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Misha, I love this post. Your year in Georgia must have been fabulous.. We ALL need times to re-charge our batteries.. One reason I moved and left my family (from Texas to Tenn) was because I needed a 'new and different' start. That is when I met George.... Hallelujah!!!!

Thanks so much for sharing that year in your life with us...

Thistle Cove Farm said...

What a FABULOUS post, Misha! That little town sounds mighty fine, I'd like to visit one day. Only people who have companion animals know how much they speak to our souls and how God uses them to aid in our healing.
BTW, try using white vinegar for all your cleaning needs; white vinegar and baking soda are non-toxic to our bodies and our environment. For auto-immune compromised folks, indeed for all folks, it's a very good thing.

toemail said...

What a great place! Thanks for sharing.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Your friend, Donna sent me to your blog because of a post I did on my blog today....about horses here in Florida! I enjoyed reading your post and seeing all of these great photos! Love the story of your year in GA...and another coincidence, we just watched Eat, Pray and Love last night! It's a small world, isn't it? Love your blog! ♥♥♥

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

What a wonderful story to go with a wonderful, laid back, southern comfort year!

I think it sounds like a book, Misha! Don't you? (Hint, hint!)

And I think you should write more chapters!

Cottage Contessa said...

Wow sweetie! I'm almost speechless, almost lol. This story was just so beautiful, really really beautiful. Loved it!

Wishing you a wonderful day my sweet friend!

Amanda (The Country House)xxx.

Mary said...

I love getting lost in your blogs! Once again, you did not disappoint. I truly enjoyed this peak in a "year in the life of Misha". Beautiful pictures too.

merensben said...

Of course I had to read your story that Bianca linked to in her blog.
What a lovely story and what a talented writer you are. You really took me with you on a trip through Montezuma and I could almost feel the sun and smell the countryside.
I'm a horselover and owner myself so I can relate to your wish to get back to your beloved horses again, but I almost felt sorry your story of Montezuma ended. I can understand why Bianca wanted to visit it after reading your story.
Thank you for taking us with you there.
Francis (Bianca's sister)