Remsenburg And Speonk Community Notes, December 19

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Growing up around horses teaches you common sense or, in the very least, to follow the rules. The Old Cowboy at the barn would often tell us: “Rules is rules. You don’t want to find out why.” I started with horses when I was eight and, of course, had to “find out why.” The reason usually had something to do with broken bones, stitches or ugly-looking bruises.“No big scarves, fancy necklaces or danglin’ earrings. This ain’t no fashion show,” he also said. While we were not prepared to take fashion advice from a grizzled old cowhand, that rule made sense, even to an 8-year-old. Much like his advice to “leave the bull alone.”

The bull was the size of a tractor and seemed perpetually irritated, so rules and common sense often seemed to converge. Any questions we might have had regarding the “Always close the gate” rule were answered when we had to round up the 20 baby goats that had escaped through the open gate.

On the other hand, the “Don’t ride in the Cow Barn” rule just seemed stupid, because we rode in every other barn. Until I found my pony and me sliding sideways across the floor of the Cow Barn. Her hooves didn’t work on the slick cement floor and we slammed into the wall. I came away with a body-length bruise and the pony was slightly stunned. We were both terribly embarrassed and snuck out of the barn hoping that no one had seen us.

The Old Cowboy, of course, took one look at us and said: “You girls are lucky you didn’t break your neck in that Cow Barn.” For 40 years I’ve remembered his rules and they have proven to be the true north of horsemanship.

This year, the winter horse catalog arrived and on the cover was a cheerful rider wearing a scarf, a necklace and huge hoop earrings. Apparently, she was photographed riding the horse in a parallel universe where my Old Cowboy’s rules, and the laws of physics and causality, do not apply.

Who would buy accessories from a horse catalog anyway? The place to go is Eastport’s Little Secret, located at 519 Montauk Highway in Eastport. At least twice a year I show up needing gifts for people who have far better fashion sense than I. The shop owner, Fotini Michaelides, directs harried shoppers to wonderful gifts that are “trendy, not spendy.”

The shop owner has all the latest designers, like Alex and Ani, and Brighton, and a collection of scarves that are not too thick or thin. There are wallets and wall signs, shoes and clothes. Just walking through the door puts a smile on my face because I know I am in good hands.

Fotini says she tries to help women feel “lovely.” She can convince me to try on dangly crystal earrings even when I am wearing muddy barn boots and an old riding jacket (of course, I left with them). Gifts are decorated with lipstick pink ribbon and colored tissue paper.

Eastport’s Little Secret is the perfect place for a gift to make someone feel special. For store hours, call (631) 801-2806.

Ruth E. Bennett will be performing a harp recital at The Remsenburg Community Church, located at 167 South Country Road in Remsenburg, on Saturday, December 21, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., with a reception following at the White Chapel. Ms. Bennett grew up in the area and began playing the harp under the direction of her grandmother; she is now the principal harpist with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatan in Merida, Mexico. She also plays with the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra in New York.

Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome and a donation is suggested but not required. Last year she filled the church with beautiful music for a standing-room only crowd. To hear a preview of her music, visit www.ruthebennett.com

The East End Hospice Thrift Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 58 Old Riverhead Road in Westhampton Beach. The store is full of furniture, linens, kitchenware and holiday finds. Proceeds benefit bereavement summer camps for children. For more information, call (631) 288-3268.

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