alt “They will be like fantastic field lawn mowers!”

My wife and daughter made the pitch and researched the reality of the financial commitment. The miniature donkeys would simply graze the large field in picturesque peace and would cost … wait for it … twenty dollars each … delivered! The sentiment was not unlike shoes “On Sale”—somehow this investment was going to put us way ahead.

In truth, I may have been more enthusiastic than anyone about having miniature donkeys. I had just buried our family Chihuahua of sixteen years in the field and I was longing for new life. I laid Lumiere to rest under a perfectly gnarled tree that looked like it was from a Tim Burton movie. It now felt as though there was a mini donkey shaped hole in the panorama and in our life. My only concern was that the burros landscaping skills would mean I would have less use for the red tractor that came with the land. I had to have my buddy Joshua show me how to start it, and a week later I found myself diving off to safety before tumbling over the edge of a ridge. What it took to retrieve the tractor is a story for another time.

I named the gray donkey, “Donkey”, as he reminded us of Eddie Murphy’s mule in Shrek. The dark burro was knighted as “Yoti”. My world was starting to resemble Lost in La Mancha, so owning “Donkey+Yoti” seemed like an appropriate part of the journey. They came out of the travel trailer and let out a bellowing, “HeeeeHaawww,” in perfect time. Donkey’s battle cry was far superior to the guffaw of Yoti. I could tell Kirsten’s joy was holding back her own heehawed, “Welcome to Green Acres!” in return. My son, Mason, documented the occasion with my old Canon AE-1 35mm camera and my daughter, Mei Li, was doing her best not to squeal. What girl doesn’t want a pony?*

*SIDE NOTE: A miniature donkey is not a pony. Full disclosure, I know this not just because of the google noting a pony is a “small horse," but more the fact that I recently directed a MY LITTLE PONY promo for Hasbro. I was trusted with casting real life versions of The Equestria Girls to bring them to life in a frenemy musical battle between The Rainbooms and The Dazzlings at “The Mane Event”. Not to brag, but I can now tell you the distinct difference between Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack as I learned that friendship is indeed magic. This is also a story for another time.

After all the family play and dust had settled, I remained alone in the field as Donkey and Yoti stood side by side with a deep stare to size me up. I could tell they were going to be much more than photogenic lawnmowers. The ass was ready to teach lessons that I wasn’t interested in learning. In truth, I remained a bit raw in this season. The last five years from Hollywood to Waco to Austin have felt like a roller coaster season of small victories and large defeats—lifelong dreams coming true amid death and disappointments. I’m not sure if this current journey is comedy or tragedy. I think it all depends on where I point my lens.

We knew the next thing we had to do was tear the old house down…

next story: restore or reclaim