Spooky Fun!

My person’s dad and step-mom bought her a ghost tour for her birthday. I’d never been on one, but she had been a few, and she always got excited about them, so I thought I’d tag along to see what it was all about. It was fantastic, by the way.

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The tour was with the History & Ghost Tours of Old Town, located (you guessed it) in Old Town Albuquerque. It explores the spookier side of Old Town, which, let me tell you, gets pretty spooky.

I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who might be considering this tour. A quick overview included a phantom mistress-of-the-night (my person won’t tell me exactly what this is…), a revenge-bent lover, an invisible maid, a hanging tree (no, the song from HUNGER GAMES wasn’t played), and the most terrifying reality of what might actually be beneath our streets… 20170708_230658

Our guide was fantastic. He was funny, he was witty, his comic timing was genius. My person isn’t beyond going up in a dare, so she touched haunted doors and giggled at some of the darker jokes. Let’s face it: when you’ve done the Ghost Bus Tour of Dublin, you’ve got to have a sick sense of humor to keep going with these tours!

It was truly an enjoyable tour. With the except of the mistress-of-the-night (still not sure entirely what this means), I’d rate this tour kid-friendly, too.

Colorado Trip Part 2 and 3

Things have been a little hectic here on the farm over the last few months, so I’ve been really bad at blogging. I know I started my Colorado trip thoughts, so I definitely wanted to finish those.

We were in Steamboat Springs for a wedding. The town was quaint: it was a combination of artist hub with athletic training facilities all rolled together into some of the most beautiful natural settings I’d ever seen (and I’m from Ireland). Nestled in a brilliantly green valley, Steamboat Springs offered breathtaking views of the two mountains that surrounded it.

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We spent a good portion of our time at the Yampa River Botanical Gardens, where the wedding was going to take place. The Gardens were stunning, and broken down into a lot of mini gardens (like the “Healing Garden”, the “Blue Garden”, etc.). What really threw us off was that it was free to enter! Free! If you wanted to, you could donate, but you didn’t have to pay any sort of ticket cost. I guess when you live in a place with lots of water, you don’t have to worry about that kinda stuff.

When we weren’t hanging out there (getting ready, doing the rehearsal, having the wedding…we spent quite a bit in the Botanical Gardens. They were stunning. I have no complaints, and would recommend them to everyone!), we explored the town a bit. Of course we stopped by the local bookstore, . It was a given that we’d have to check it out, and it was a lot of fun. They have a great selection.

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We also went up to Fish Creek Falls, which were so beautiful. They were my first waterfall, and Dodola really enjoyed them, as well. We didn’t get too close, but from the distance we could see how large the falls were.

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Our trip up had taken 11 hours (we had some stops along the way), so we were pretty sure that heading back home would be at least that. For my person’s sister, we had to stop by Denver, which was a little out of our way, but made for an easy drive home. Along the way, we stopped to look at the mountains in Frisco, Colorado. Even in June, they had snow. It was such a majestic sight to see. We also stopped, very briefly, between Georgetown and Silver Plume to watch the train go by, and see Mountain sheep. We weren’t lucky with the sheep, but valley the train traveled through was stunning.

We had to main stops (really, we couldn’t pass these places up). The first was the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave. New Mexico has some “wild west” history (we have Geronimo and Billy the Kid, after all), but our wild west is a little different than what the history books show. Stopping by Buffalo Bill’s grave was a great reminder of this. He was revolutionary for his time, a great horseman (which I was impressed with…the museum listed a lot of his horses. We made sure that Pecos, Chico, and Nez were there to take pictures with those highlights), was part of the Pony Express, was a Mason, and then had his show.

It was also nice to see that other members of his cast were highlighted, like Annie Oakley. In a male-dominated world, Annie Oakley took charge. She was an amazing shot.

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Outside of Denver, we stopped at the Garden of the Gods. The herd (much, much smaller back then) had stopped last August to see the stones, but the new herd hadn’t been there yet. The red rocks, truly against a green and blue background, were just as stunning as we could imagine them. We followed the trail around to get close to the rocks, which made for some interesting pictures. This was also where we had our first shoot with our newest herd members: Rama the tiger, Neptune the dragon, and Beo the Icelandic Pony.

Our trip home took 16 hours, but it was well worth it (my person slept for like a day and a half afterwards, though. Ha!). We stopped at the Hardrock Café in Denver, went through the Eisenhower Tunnel, saw Castlerock, and by the old west town of Kremmling. The drive might have taken forever, but it was well worth it. The history we learned, and natural scenery we saw, was astonishing, and something you can’t really learn in a plane.

Colorado Trip: Part 1

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I’m pretty sure that I promised this trip would be in two parts. I decided, this week, that it might be broken down into three parts: heading up, Steamboat Springs, heading back. The trip kinda broke down like that anyway (from what I could tell…most of the drive I was safely situated in the cup-holder).

By the way: can anyone see me in this picture? I’ll give you a hint: I’m at the bottom…

Anywho, we started a little late. I believe that every good road trip starts with a little hiccup, but we had a pretty smooth start, just a little late. Now, we were following Google’s instructions, which were a little different from going to Denver. Denver, I’m told, is pretty easy to get to: follow I-40 North. This was a little bit more of an adventure. We followed the back way up H-285, which was fantastic! We saw Galisteo, which is an awesome little town just north of Edgewood. We stopped by Camel Rock, the Rio Grand Rift, and the border between New Mexico and Colorado.

 

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The ride out was interesting. Most of those places we’d never gone (us ponies or my person), so we were seeing entirely new terrain. Northern New Mexico is an interesting combination of shrub-tree forests and plains. We had long stretches surrounded by shrub trees that, if taller, would have created archways above us. It’s amazing how we still felt like we were getting lost in a huge forest, even though at the top of the hills we could see forever.

Southern Colorado felt more like home. There were mountains and plains; that seemed to be the majority for awhile. As we left Antonio, in the distance we could see the Great Sand Dunes, which were desert like we’d never seen before, definitely not like our green desert. They were a little outside of our area, but it’s definitely something we’ll come back to. We did stop at the Colorado Gator Farm, though.

For anyone who hasn’t been to the Colorado Gator Farm, it’s a fantastic experience. (WARNING: there are large reptiles there, including snakes, lizards, and alligators. This is definitely not a place for someone who fears those kinds of animals, that’s for sure.) We actually started with meeting a gator called Joey, who was kind enough to let me rest on his back while my person held him (nothing like feeling I was on the back of a dinosaur: the proportions were WAY off!!!). Then we were inside: there were huge iguanas of every type (including a Rhinoceros Iguana, which really did look like a dino), turtles everywhere, and of course, gators! Some were close enough we could get pictures with. I got a picture with Morris the Gator, who is a movie star! Sita was also able to get a picture with albino gators, which we all thought was cool (the white tiger with the white gators).

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I also have to say that this is where we learned about Flat Stanley. Turns out, school kids have to take Flat Stanley around and have adventures with him. We didn’t actually see one, but we were asked if we were like him a lot. I’m hoping he’s a cool guy…

We were running a little late by this point (there was a theme, I’m telling you), so we didn’t stop too much going forward. We did find the most beautiful valley, though, and there we found the coolest thing: a monument to three towns, now long disappeared, and the site of the highest Masonic Lodge in the USA. The valley itself was picturesque, but just thinking that at one point there had been three settlements nestled in it was a strange and beautiful thought.

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That was the last place we stopped, apart from gas, because we had dilly-dallied a little too long and were now running really late. It turns out that there was a check-in time for the place we were staying, and it was getting too close. So we hurried along in the dark, traveling on windy roads through pitch-black forests, until, finally, in the distance, we could see lights. We came down a mountain and found ourselves in Steamboat Springs.

Road Trippin’

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I’m taking a slight side trip from my normal day of blogging (which hasn’t been normal for awhile, but will be going forward). Today is the first of July, which means it’s the first day of the second half of the year, and this year is FLYING by!

Which brings me here, to our road trip. If you watch Instagram or Facebook, you’ll have seen pictures of our road trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The reason we were there was a wedding, but I have to say, driving up was half the fun! There were so many fun things to see. We stopped by a site where a Mason Lodge had once stood; it had the highest altitude of any lodge of it’s time. We stopped by some great rock formations (Camel Rock, in New Mexico, and Chimney Rock and Rabbit Ears Pass in Colorado). We even got a taste of the old Wild West when we stopped by the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave.

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Road trips can take forever. Our first day, we were in the car for almost 11 hours (well, not quite: we stopped at the Colorado Gator Farm to stretch a bit). Going back, because we tried to see so many things, it took about 16 hours to get home. Still, I have to say that it was one of the best ways to see the country.

I mean, Colorado is known for being gorgeous, but some of those mountain ranges are absolutely stunning! And Pike’s Peak, even at a distance, was definitely awe-inspiring for a little 3-inch pony like me.

If you can endure the long drives in the car, road trips are fantastic! Airplanes definitely have their purpose (the trip back from Dublin would have taken FOREVER if we hadn’t flown), but we really enjoyed all the little stops along the way. It shows you a different side of America instead of just the big cities.

Just my opinion. I’ll tell you guys all about the road trip on Wednesday.

Crazy May Day

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Spring is definitely here, though the storms that we’ve been having are still pretty cold. Truthfully, New Mexico is a lot windier than one would think. There’s a legitimate reason for New Mexico having so much wind: it’s something about the pressure in Arizona and Texas being different, so there’s always wind here. I guess there are benefits to the wind. We get to fly kites more often than other places, and since most of New Mexico is open space, there are a lot of good places to fly a kite. And we have the hot air balloons, and winds (not devastating winds, but gentle winds) make the balloons move.

I think I’ve started seeing the winds as a good sign. Usually, if we’re getting severe winds, we’re getting some sort of storm, and in a “green” desert, storms are crucial. When I first moved out here, I had a hard time believing that New Mexico was a green desert. I didn’t really understand what that meant, until we started traveling around a bit more. Unlike a lot of places, there is actually quite a bit of vegetation in New Mexico, and during the spring, summer, and autumn, the hills and mountains turn a light green color, like someone took watercolors and painted over everything.

There are, of course, the natural oasis in this desert. The green ribbon that is the Rio Grande breaks the desert apart and gives a huge splash of color, but it’s not the only green spot. We visited the Jemez Mountains over the summer, and even in the dead of winter, they were green. So were the Sandia Mountains. So, for it being a desert, there is an awful amount of green here.

The only reason I seem struck by this is because, for May Day, we went to the Rio Grande BioPark, which is always a favorite of the herd’s. We didn’t take everyone this time, just the newbies, but it was still a lot of fun. Everything was in full bloom, and it was so beautiful to be there. It really was like a jewel in the middle of the desert. The weather was perfect, too: sunny, but not too hot, though there were a ton of mosquitoes (I’m lucky: they don’t bother me too much, though they were incredibly fond of my person!).

We started out at the Japanese Gardens, which are always tranquil, and came across two great treasures: a heron, and a snake! The heron was very stoic and beautiful, hiding on a rock towards the middle of the pond. The snake caught us by surprise.  We were taking a picture by the waterfall when we looked down by this rock, and there was this Garner Snake lounging in the sun. He seemed curious about us, not curious enough to check us out, but curious enough that he didn’t really move. Sita immediately wanted a picture with him, and thankfully we found a good spot on the rock by him where we could get a picture. He stayed there a long time before he slithered out over the water, leaving a trail of ripples behind him.

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The heron, I should note, did not find the snake, nor did he move from his spot the entire time we were there. He just watched everyone, secure in the knowledge that we couldn’t reach him.

The Albuquerque BioPark really is wonderful: the roses were just starting to go into bloom, and the entire area smelt amazing! The roses are beautiful, with so many different colors, and there were ladybugs everywhere! It was a little early in the season for dragonflies, but we did spot a few of those, and as we got closer to the Bugarium, we even found a few frogs (they were massive…two of the bullfrogs were bigger than me!).

The Bugarium was an adventure all on its own. I like the different insects (okay, I’m not fond of spiders, or centipedes, or scorpions, but I like the others). We were blessed with a rare occurrence: one of the baby praying mantises had escaped. My person rescued it from a drop to the floor, where it could easily have been squished, and the little bugger (haha, like what I did there?) attached himself firmly to Cinder’s tail! Eventually there was a handler that rescued the little guy. I couldn’t believe how small he was: he might have come halfway up my leg, and that would have been on tippy-toes. He was so cute, though! The only Praying Mantis that we’d had any experience with was the little green guy who went up against Thumbalina in our garden. This little guy looked almost like a leaf (in fact, we mistook him for a spider when we first saw him, and there was much freaking out that ensued) and his was really fast. I kinda wanted to keep him as a pet (my person and I talked this over… we totally would have, except we didn’t have a safe place for him to live…or a way to get him safely home…or really didn’t know anything about how to care for a microscopic Praying Mantis…but the idea of having a bug as a pet was still cool), but in the end, we turned him over to his handler, who took him away to make sure he was safe and cared for.

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Seriously: if you can visit a bugarium, you should. They are so much fun! Even the creepy-crawly places (again, not into spiders, centipedes, or scorpions) are fun, in a haunted house kind of way.

Of course we visited the Aquarium as well. We all have a soft spot for the colorful fish and the sea turtles, and the sharks! The Albuquerque Aquarium has a pair of amazing sharks called Zebra Sharks, and the pair are really docile, but when they swim, they are so graceful. My person and I could sit there and watch them all day. This visit, though, we saw that they had a new critter: Nautili! A nautilus is a shelled squid, essentially, and they’re older than the dinosaurs. They’re really deep water creatures, so it was amazing to see them up close!

That was how we spent our May Day! It was a nice break after the freak snow storm (which was really pretty and really weird: there were bright green leaves with snow covering them…). It was an interesting welcome to our newest herd members, Boudica and Selkie (Dodola missed the snow and arrived later).

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Chaos of the Month

Sorry the post is SOOOOOO late. We’ve been super busy with projects, which are awesome. I’m having a blast participating in them.

Firstly, we started a great project I saw on Good Morning America (yes, I watch morning news programs: I like to stay informed). I have to say, I’m so excited we worked on this project. It was a blast. I saw this challenge with my person when it was featured on Good Morning America (again, we try to stay informed, in a positive way), and knew that my herd could participate.

I know it might be strange, a toy wanting to do a kindness to someone else, but we have hearts, too, and positivity is our motto. Is there anything better than getting a new toy? It’s just a bit more of a challenge for us, as we can’t talk, or walk, or move any part of our bodies. That didn’t stop us, though.

We can write, and we can draw, and we certainly can color, and all of that helps us to complete these challenge. We downloaded the list and went through to find what we could definitely help with.

Here are some pictures of us preparing:

It has been a beautiful project, and we couldn’t be happier with it. There was so much joy and kindness shared, and the pictures we saw of other projects were fantastic!

The next week we started a new project: helping Palm to Paws Rescue Farm. To understand the farm, I have to finish the origin story.

Finally, after all the finals and tests and packing (which, international moving is a bit of a nightmare), we arrived back in New Mexico. Compared to the often-cloudy skies of Dublin, Albuquerque’s skies were clear. They were impossibly bright, like we were closer to the sun (turns out, technically, we were: Albuquerque is over a mile high above sea level—Edgewood is even higher up—while Dublin is at sea level).

My person and her family had just moved to a little farm in Edgewood, New Mexico, which is on the east side of the Sandia Mountains, about thirty minutes east of Albuquerque. Geographically, it’s almost the exact opposite of Albuquerque. Whereas Albuquerque is picturesque desert, with the mesa in the west, covered in tumbleweeds, rattlesnakes, and lots of sand, Edgewood lives on the backside of the Sandia Mountains and enjoys a more temperate climate. The closer to the mountain you get, the more trees you have, but Edgewood also gets more rain and snow than Albuquerque, giving it a more green feel. It made the change from Dublin a bit more bearable.

The “farm” is what is known as a “hobby farm”: while the occasional fruit and vegetable was grown, the majority of the farm consisted of animals. Not all of the animals on the farm were rescue, but a good portion of them were rescued. Palm to Paws specialized in severe case abuse and neglect, and had a number of amazing animals who had been through rough situations and were now living peacefully in a forever home. Truthfully, my experience with actual animals had consisted of pigeons. Now there were chickens, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, goats, alpacas, parrots, geese, turkeys, and, actually, pigeons. They also did rehabilitation, training, and rehoming; if an animal was dropped off and could go to another home where they’d be loved, my person and her family worked hard to find good, loving homes for those animals.

And a few years after we’d settled there, the farm ended up moving. Originally, we were closer to the landmark of Sedillo Hill, which meant we lived in a beautiful, green valley that got an insane amount of snow (did I mention that snow is pretty rare in Dublin? Lots of rain, not a lot of snow). It was more forest than desert, and we lived at the top of a hill, so when the rain came through, or the fog, it would create these interesting illusions of a mist-snake slithering below us. We moved closer to town, out on the “plains”. New Mexico, I’ve learned, is incredibly diverse in its geography. We were still close enough to the mountain that we got snow and lots of rain, but now the land was more flat, and we had long grasses that sprung up every spring. The horses, goats, and alpacas love the grass.

But things happen. I’ve learned that, too, and even though I’m trying to be positive, because toys are all about positivity, there are hardships that happen. The first was that my person’s mom ended up with four different types of cancers, and while battling them, she struggled to keep her business afloat. My person started working in Albuquerque at a good-paying job, and while they struggled, they were happy and kept going forward. The animals were, and always will be, their first priority, and I could see that over and over.

Eventually, however, my person’s mom ended up closing her business, and the struggle started to get worse. And that’s where we’re at. We had a  fundraising to save the farm. We started a GoFundMe account to help with daily expenses as well as some additional expenses that have come up, and we also had a t-shirt fundraiser, if the GoFundMe doesn’t fit a particular taste.

We had a lot of support with sharing the post, and we had some donations. While we wouldn’t say that the fundraiser was successful by any means,  we’re all very grateful to the support we had with it.

April seemed to fly by. We spent Easter in Roswell, taking a little trip to get away. Roswell was crazy! There were aliens everywhere. We visited the International UFO Museum, which was a lot of fun. There was this spaceship in the middle, though, that smoked, and we discovered that the aliens moved. That was creepy!

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As quickly as April went by, it ended with a freak snow storm! It was fun to see all the new leaves covered in snow. And then, right as the snow was done, May Day happened. There’ll be pictures of that soon.

I promise that these posts will be regular again. We have some new projects that we’re working on, and some other shoots that we’re rescheduled.

Oh! And we have new friends! I feel horrible about not introducing them sooner! We have a new Lipizzaner foal named Selkie, an Andalusian foal named Boudica, and a Pegasus named Dodola. Right now, the girls are outweighing the boys in the herd, but we’re very excited to have them!

The Plot Bunnies Thicken…

 

I ended a little abruptly last week, and realized I’d left out some fairly critical details. Let’s face it: an adult buying a toy for decoration is strange, but not unheard of. It doesn’t make for much of a story, though. Why would an adult buy a toy? Why would she take said toy all the way back to her dorm, and leave it on a shelf, surrounded by freezing cold rocks, shells, and books? Okay, the rocks, shells, and books were pretty cool, but that’s a little beyond the point.

Remember how I said my person was the creative type? Well, I was destined to be part of that. See, the kiosk that I had originally lived in had these really pretty pictures of us toys in natural settings. There was a frog on a lily pad, a few horses in a grassy pasture, and a lion on a rock. Well, my person looked at the pictures and thought, “How fun is that! I could do that.” And in a rush, I was bought.

The idea was great, but the camera that she had couldn’t take the pictures. I’m small for my breed, and it had a hard time focusing on me (okay, I suppose this might be an inside joke. Lipizzaners average between 14 to 15 hands tall; I’m 3 inches tall, so I’m not even a full hand). My point is that the camera couldn’t do what my person wanted it to do, so the project was put on hold for a bit.

Not that it diminished my adventurous spirit. If nothing else, it made me want it more. EverSea (the beautiful sea-green unicorn) had been all over. While in Ireland, she was taken with my person to Italy, where she went to Naples to see Pompeii. She went on a cruise this last year to Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. Am I jealous? Yes, yes I am. Still, her tales were what I was interested in, and they’re what kept me going. EverSea told us about going to California to see Disneyland, and going to Chicago, and traveling around New Mexico.

Truthfully, I was a little nervous about moving. I mean, come on: born and raised in Ireland. Did I really want to go to a desert? I was used to seeing green as far as the eye could see (okay, that’s an exaggeration: I was in the heart of Dublin, where there was a green aura around the city, but mostly I could see shiny buildings and the Liffey…). Desert, though: desert is completely different. All I could picture were tan dunes as far as the eye could see, and that wasn’t really appealing to me. Heat and plastic tend not to go well together.

I side-tracked just a little bit. In Dublin, I had a fun time in the dorm. The dorm was pretty quiet, truthfully, and with all the books, it reminded me of a library (or what I imagined a library to be). My person liked traveling around Dublin Bay, so there were always new stones, fossils, shells, and other, natural souvenirs that she collected during her adventures. I dreamt of the places she’d go. The stones smelt of moist dirt and the salty sea, and the shells had the rhythm of the ocean pounded into their very fiber. All of these things, which might have seemed small, were gigantic to me, and being positioned in the midst of them, I was able to get a taste of Ireland that my window didn’t afford me.

I was also positioned under the map in her room. Whenever she traveled somewhere, she’d highlight it on her map, so that I could see everywhere she’d gone. I longed to go with her to these places, but without a camera that could capture me in the pictures, it wasn’t going to happen.

While she was gone, the toys in the room would exchange stories. I had initially met EverSea, Anubis, and Starlight, and eventually my person added a little white tiger named Saskia (Sas for short). We were scattered around the room, but when no one was listening to us, so we could talk freely.   EverSea regaled us with stories of travel and life on the farm, while Anubis would tell me what I was like while he was at the National Museum of Ireland-Archaeology. Anubis was from their Egyptian exhibit, and he could hear the talk of the patrons and the staff, and occasionally he could see into the museum itself. He also knew stories of Egypt, and would talk about the old myths and pharaohs. I could see why my person liked Egypt so much: it sounded very much like a land of adventure.

Starlight came from a little crystal store, and would talk to us about the dreams that patrons would tell the shop keepers (I just have to say: dreams are super weird! “I’m dreaming of a whale falling and suddenly it becomes a pot of petunias…” oh, wait, that might be a scene from Hitchhiker’s Guide).

Saskia’s stories I liked. They were about the animals at the Dublin zoo. I think they were more relate-able, in a surreal sort of way (I mean, let’s face it: I don’t have a lot of the same issues that a normal horse would have).  She was good at making the animals come to life. Elephants, tigers, bears, otters: I could imagine them all, with all their hi-jinks, playing and feeling and being. (Sadly, to date, I still haven’t been to a zoo, but I’ve now been to a few aquariums.).

My friends made everything better. Knowing I was with them, I gradually came to accept my fate. I would be a desert horse, whether I wanted to  or not. Fate sounds ominous. It wasn’t a choice. I went where my person wanted me to go.

At least while we were in Dublin I was able to spend quiet nights with her. My person tended to be fairly quiet. At night, she would either study or read, or more often she would go write. Sometimes she would spend hours writing, and I could always tell that she felt accomplished when she did this. She didn’t have a computer in her room, so she went across campus to write at a computer lab that she’d found, and when she got back, she’d seem exhausted but there was just an aura around her that was happy. This was important. When I’d first met her, I would have pegged her as homesick, but after she came back from winter break, it wasn’t homesick. She seemed lost, heart-broken. Her family was feuding in the worst of ways, and she wasn’t dealing with it well. Her stories, and us toys, made her feel better. We were helping her get through it.

You might think it’s silly, but a toy’s number one job is to help their person, no matter what. With little ones (children, not small toys), it’s not as difficult. Children are much more connected to the magic of toys, and we’re often confidants, counselors, and distractions from whatever life shoots at them. With adults, we can still be a distraction, and a comfort. The healing power of a hug goes a long way.

Again, trying to keep this lightweight, but stuff definitely happens in life, and I’ve learned there’s nothing to be done about it. My person was going through a rough patch, which meant that we were going through a rough patch. She still explored, but the early part of the year in Ireland is rainy and can be gloomy, so she didn’t go out as much. She read like reading was going out of style. She went through several books that were over 500 pages, and she would complete them in a matter of days. I worried about her. We all worried about her. But she trooped through, and we all knew what would happen when she was done with her studies: we were moving.

See, it all circles back to my fear of moving. My person was stressed and depressed and anxious, which wore off on us. We didn’t know if we wanted to move, but we certainly didn’t want our person like this. I hear people talk about moving like it’s a good thing: it’s a change of scenery, a change of pace, a change of faces. It’s always a change. Change isn’t always good, and we were nervous. EverSea assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem, but we weren’t sure. We liked our little dorm room, with the view of the Liffey. We liked the books and rocks and map, and even the Where’s Waldo poster that was hanging up in the hallway. We became jittery.

Little did we know, our fears were way exaggerated.

Where It All Began…

The new year has begun, which means that I’m finally going to take the advice of my herd and start writing. We’ve all been through so many adventures already, and the adventures don’t seem to be stopping. Who would want them to? I would have never guessed that such a life exists for a toy!

I supposed, then, I should start with introductions. My name is Icarus. When I first got it, it seemed a little strange. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. Being a pony, I was expecting something like, “Blackie,” or, “Midnight,” or, “Prince Glitterhooves” (hey, I’ve heard some of the names that toys are called, and that’s not outside the realm of them). Icarus was definitely not in my top five, and it took me a little while to get used to it.

Turns out, Icarus is a character from Greek mythology (I learned a lot about mythology from my person. Who’d guessed, right?). Icarus was the son of Daedalus, who was this amazing inventor and mathematician, and in general pretty cool guy who kept getting into all kinds of trouble from all of these kings. Basically, he and his son were imprisoned, and he decided the only way to get out was to fly across the sea. Pretty cool, right? He built these amazing wings for him and his son, and they flew, but Icarus flew too close to the sun, and the wax holding the wings together melted away, and he felt into the sea.

Not exactly the happiest of stories, but it’s a Greek myth, so what can you expect from it? Anyway, when my person first gave me the name, I thought it was a little strange. I’d never heard of it, but the name stuck. I am Icarus, the little pony who flew too close to the sun. Now I sound a little cynical, don’t I?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot from my person. She loves mythology and history and stories, and I’ve learned to, as well. I mean, I’m writing one, right? It was a little bit of a shock to get used to her, though.

I like my person. She’s short, for a human, and a little rounder than normal (but she’s working on that, so we don’t say anything), but also she’s fun and adventurous. And she chose me. Most toys want to be purchased for a child. We get to be played with, we get to be loved and adored, and we get to have adventures. Adults don’t seem to know how to do that with toys, not really. Or maybe just not as often. That’s what I had wanted, when I’d first showed up at the toy store. I wanted a child to play with me. Hey, I’ve seen Toy Story. The toy struggle is real.

See, I’m from Ireland, originally. Dublin to be exact. I was from this little toy store on the north side. When I was unpacked, there was a small kiosk with other ponies and animals. Some looked like me, but the others didn’t. The toy store was nestled away on a corner by the movie theatre, and I could see and hear people walking to and fro, their voices a blurred chorus of usually happy noise. Inside, there were walls with dolls, and toy guns, and Legos. There were a lot of Legos.

It was a quiet place, the peace broken occasionally by the pitter-patter of children and their delighted squeaks and squeals as they picked their new toy. I watched them come in and pick up toys, the little ones’ eyes filled with joy and wonder and desire. I loved watching them. Sometimes their parents seemed to take joy in the new toys, too, but sometimes it seemed more like a chore for them. I always wondered why that was. How could anyone not be excited about getting a toy?

The other foals and I would talk about the kids that we would get. Would it be a little girl dreaming of being a princess, would it be a cowboy, would we be space ponies? The possibilities seemed endless, and more and more I found that all I wanted to be with a child, any child. It started as nervous energy whenever a child would walk in. Would this be the moment? Would this be my new family? It was hard to tell, but all of us colts felt that way. We’d get jittery.

Time passed, and nervous energy gave way to longing. I wanted to know what the other toys were doing. Were they in space? Had they gone to another planet yet? I tried to imagine what the inside of a messy bedroom looked like, and how my stable might be under a bed. Would I ever be covered in spaghetti? Would I ever play in a bathtub?

Outside, the weather turned from bright, summer sunlight to the grey of winter. Rain fell in icy sheets against the window, and it was harder and harder to see the people as they passed by the store. Inside, I felt like I was losing everything. How could I have not found my family yet?

I promise, this story has a happy ending.

Inside the store, we watched the workers start putting up decorations. Wreaths and ornaments appeared, turning the bright, little store into a glittering alcove. Amongst the shelves, rumors began to spread of a holiday called Christmas that was coming. Christmas was a golden light among us. People would buy toys for children for presents, would buy more toys for their stockings, would buy more toys to pacify other children. That meant that we’d all be getting a home. We’d all be finding families.

And that’s about the time that my person walked in. It was the beginning of December, and it was a grey day, but there wasn’t any rain. She walked in, and she looked lost. Her eyes were tired, and she didn’t seem like she belonged, not really. Still, she looked around. The shop keep and her didn’t talk, and I wondered if he was curious about her as I was. I mean, she wasn’t a little kid, but she looked like she needed something. Like she was somehow incomplete.

After a few moments, her eyes settled on our kiosk. Her blue eyes surveyed us, a hint of amusement showing from the way her lips curled at the tips into a smile. She looked at all of us, and then, quick as a whip, grabbed me and hurried to the cash register.

I had thought, back when the other colts and I fantasized, that I might be leaving with another. It probably wouldn’t be another colt like me (after all, how many Lipizzaner colts does one child need?), but surely another, maybe a Clydesdale, or a Shire, or maybe a pony (a real pony, like a Fell or a Shetland. We all know what we are. Horses, like cats, always know). But she whisked me away, like I was all she needed.

I was put in a little, plastic bag and we left. That was that. I was nervous. As much as I had wanted to be part of a family, now I had even more questions. My person seemed pretty young, definitely not older than mid-twenties, and she seemed lonely. We walked a long time, and I grew worried. Where were we going? The weather was cold; I could feel that, even in my bag. After a while, we entered a courtyard, and I could tell we were getting close. It was the way she walked: she picked up the pace, eager to get out of the weather. I didn’t blame her: the rain in Dublin can be a little unpredictable, and she, as far as I could tell, was only wearing the hoodie. Not very much protection.

We entered a building, with white walls and no noise. I wondered, for a moment, if it was a hospital, but it didn’t smell right. Together, we entered the elevator. It rumbled a little bit, and I could tell we were going really high up. The elevator dinged, and we stepped out into another white hallway, followed by another, and then, at last, a white room. Carefully, she reached into the bag and removed me, and I liked what I saw. She smiled her little smile, and then set me on her desk, which wrapped around the room and was covered in books, rocks, and shells. The walls were decorated with posters and a giant map of Ireland, and nestled in one corner was a bed, made but a little messy.

My person tucked me away, and for a little while, I lived in that room, where I could see out the window. We were five stories up, so I had a great view of the Liffey River, and the O2 Stadium, and all the glittering buildings in between. The room was warm and cozy, and my curiosity peaked. Along the way, I had wondered if my person might have a child she was delivering me to, but now I had doubts. Still, I was curious. What was an adult going to do with me?

I learned a lot in that little room. We were in the heart of Dublin, on the south side, at the edge of Trinity College. My person studied history at the college, but she was also a writer, and loved to read. Soon, she added friends for me: a little statue of Anubis, Guide of the Dead, and a little unicorn named Starlight. She also had a stuffed unicorn called EverSea who looked over everyone. EverSea was beautiful: sea-foam green, she was gentle and caring, and told us stories of the desert where my person lived. Turns out my person was a student studying abroad. At the end of the school year, we’d be moving.