When Pat and I moved from Portland to Central Oregon, I felt confident that trading a Rumsfeldian unknown known risk – that an earthquake will devastate Portland at some unknown time in the next 500 years - for a known known risk – that wildland fires threaten homes in Central Oregon every year - was a good bet. Until last week. That’s when the sheriff’s office ordered us to evacuate immediately as the number one priority fire in the entire country bore down on our little development. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of firefighters over many days, the fire appears to have spared us but it has gotten me thinking about how one manages risk in life.
I operate on a fairly straight forward risk calculation – size of risk X probability of event occurring within a given time period = risk quotient; compare two options and choose the less risky. OK, sounds good, but wait, our house just nearly burned down and Portland is probably going to be intact for my lifetime!
What has worked out for me since moving here is getting back into horses. Last year, my boy, Cimarron, and I had the best ‘limited distance’ (25 – 35 mile courses) record on any horse and rider in the entire Northwest region – five first place race finishes and four coveted ‘Best Condition’(BC) awards for Cimarron. Woohoo! And true to the horse world, this year has been a wreck. Cim and I started out beautifully coming in third against very stiff competition in our first ride and then winning the Klickitat Trek against 48 other horses. (See photo.) “Oh no”, vet tells me Cim is “not right” when we stand for BC at Klickitat. $1,000 later, for a limp I can’t even discern, a big shot lameness vet says Cim is confined to bed rest for at least 90 days (the entire riding season) for an injury he is unable to pinpoint.
So an endurance teammate (I’m a WhoopA$$er.) kindly offers me her CMK Arabian (fancy horse) requesting that I get this green trail horse to the point that she can handle an endurance race. Sweet, gorgeous Cara – how hard could that be? Well, turns out Cara has a couple of really bad habits – when she doesn’t want to go forward, she backs up really fast without looking where she’s going and when that doesn’t work she stands straight up on her hind legs – think Silver, but out of control – and, finally, falls over on her rider – me. With a burst of humility, I recognize that Cara is out of my league and return her to my teammate. Then, hearing of my misfortune, my chief competitor from last year offers me her horse for the next Central Oregon ride while she rides a teammate’s 50-mile horse in her quest to move up from 25s to 50s - so I’m back in the saddle. And to think, two years ago I was a total stranger in this world.
Here’s my big news. As of July, I am an elected public official. How, you might ask, could that have happened? Well, I’ve been a parkie for many years, so, when an uncontested seat on the parks and recreation district appeared on the May ballot, I said, “What the hell”. I swept to victory with 61 write-in votes. Turns out we don’t actually manage any parks and 25% of the population has never heard of us despite being around for 20 years but, hey, we have taxing authority.
Overheard at the gym in my semi-liberal town in a red county – “Of course I voted for him. What choice did I have?” I hope the Dems can do better next time around. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb, right now, and be the first public official in the country to endorse Biden/Obama for 2020!