Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Save It For A Rainy Day

I like rainy days. I would like to have one right now! Not only do we need (desperately need) the moisture, but I have a ton of 'rainy day' things to do! I was reminded about how nice it is to have a rainy day when Lori, author of Skoog Farm Journal, put up a post about a rainy day in her neck of the woods a few weeks ago. Lori's post got me thinking about my rainy day list. Here's just the beginning of that list:
  • Paint the kitchen chairs - my mother painted two of them about 50 years ago! She never got around to the other two. I'd like to redo all of them.
  • Create a pattern for a stained glass window for our bathroom and then complete the project.
  • Finish the dining room chairs. Three years ago I stripped 6 antique dining room chairs. I think it is about time that I finish that project!
  • Read a good book...or two!
  • Sew curtains and valences for some of our windows.
  • Clean harnesses and other tack.
  • Watch a movie...or two!
  • Go shopping for a kitchen table - I'd like to stop by resale shops, antique shops and thrift stores to find the perfect kitchen table (to go with my newly painted chairs!)
  • Sort through my clothes and reorganize my closet.
  • Sew duvets for two comforters, as well as a dust ruffle for the master bedroom. 
  • Organize the boxes and furniture in the basement - allowing me to set up a craft and sewing area. (sounds like that needs to be number one on the list!)
Hmmm, sounds like I need a month of rainy days!

What would you like to do on a rainy day?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Anna's Blizzard

Last week I received two books in the mail. One from Linda Benson, a giveaway from a few months ago that had to come 'across the ocean' - it had not been released at the time my name was pulled in the drawing. But, now I have Possum Summer by Jen Blom to look forward to reading. The other book is Going, Gone by Laura Crum. This also came by way of Equestrian Ink. Readers were offered the chance to get the book if they agreed to write a review.  


A review? Wait! I started a review on a book I received months ago. Again, this was a giveaway by Linda. But, where did that darn thing go? It's here... buried in blog post drafts, here in the back end of my blog... someplace! Ah... here it is:


I stayed up late the night this book came in the mail.  I could not go to sleep until I found out how the children in  Anna's Blizzard managed in the storm. This riveting historical fiction book by Alison Hart brings life on the prairie in the late 1800's alive for young readers. The story of the "Children's Blizzard" is narrated by Anna, a reluctant student. Readers will get a snapshot of Anna's home life and her experiences in a one-room soddy school during one of the worst blizzards of the century.  Anna's horse, Top Hat, plays an important role in the story so horse lovers will love it, too. The author includes historical information about the "Schoolchildren's Blizzard" and life on the prairie in an appendix.  




I would have loved to have had this chapter book as a third grade teacher. It would appeal to both the girls and the boys and would have been a great choice to enrich our Social Studies and Reading curricula. 


I enjoy children's literature. As a middle school teacher I began to read early adolescent titles so I could help my students find books that might appeal to them. When I taught Reading, I adopted a 'whole language' approach and used literature as a vehicle to teach reading skills. I still enjoy reading books for young readers, but what does this adult do with children's books once they are read? The books that I receive from giveaways and as gifts are 'recycled'. I take them to the therapeutic riding center where I volunteer. Each book has a label with instructions to take the book, read it and enjoy it, and bring it back for others to enjoy. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spot the Differences

Since "Spot the Difference" games seem to be popular now a-days, and since so many people ask, "How do you tell the horses apart?" I thought I'd make a game out of it for y'all.

So... other than leg and body position, can you spot the differences? 

Doc

Pippin


                     Doc                               Pippin

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

How many differences did you find?

Here are the ones I noticed:


Pippin:
1. Mane is longer
2. Mane is straighter
3. Ears are smaller
4. Forelock is straight
5. Blaze is wider
6. Green halter
7. Tail looks wavier
8. Tail is not as white
9. Eyes are more deeply set    
10. Tail looks thicker
11. Gold color looks a bit darker
12. Bridle path needs trimming          
Doc:
13. Has a double mane (both sides of neck)
14. Forelock is longer
15. Forelock is wavy
16. Thicker body
17. Rump is rounder
18. Blue halter
19. White on muzzle is thinner  
20. Head is bigger
21. Face is wider
22. Mane & tail are whiter - but
only because I just washed them!!

Did you spot some differences that I missed? 


Oh, and did you notice that Doc was wearing a pretty blue halter? Could it be the one that Gail was trying to find At the Farm?! No, Doc didn't take Magic's blue halter. Gail will have to continue to look for it!

Other differences that only a 'mom' would know include:
  • Pippin is the chow hound. He loves food and is always looking for a treat.
  • Doc loves to be rubbed and cuddled. He will stand all day if you rub his cheeks or under his chin.
  • Pippin does not, can not and will not stand still!  He is like a child with ADHD.
  • Pippin is usually the first to come up to me in pasture - perhaps that's because of the first comment... and maybe the third comment!
  • Doc is usually the first to whinny at me in the morning.
  • Doc prefers not to get into the trailer.
  • Pippin has no problem getting into the trailer, but prefers not to back out!
  • Pippin often has scrapes and small cuts from being kicked and bitten.
  • Doc gets tired of Pippin's silliness and pushiness and lets him have it!
We often call the boys 'Tweedle-Dum' and 'Tweedle-Dee'; or Frick and Frack. Where one is, you can usually find the other. Despite minor altercations, they seem to be best buddies and usually are found side by side. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gators

Yesterday's hurricane post brought back lots of memories of life in the low country of South Carolina.  I was reminded of a misadventure with an alligator. Yes! We had alligators in the coastal area of SC. Having lived in New York most of my life, it was truly exciting to see the gators sunning themselves on the banks of lagoons (so... when does a pond get renamed a lagoon? Does it have to do with latitude or attitude?)! Living with gators is a novel experience for this transplanted yankee. (You do know the difference between a yankee and a 'damn yankee', do you not? A yankee is a person who comes to the south to visit, and then returns home. A damn yankee is a person who comes to the south to visit.... and stays!)


Jeannie was also from NY. She and I began our teaching careers together and formed a quick bond, having much in common. Jeannie's parents came for a visit and of course, whenever yankees came down to visit the sultry south, it was customary to take them out to see an alligator. Jeannie knew of the perfect spot to catch sight of one of these prehistoric-looking beasts. They walked to the bank of a small outlet for a lagoon pond and sure enough, there was the beast they were stalking, probably within 10 feet of where they were standing. He was a magnificent speciman. Easily 5' in length, from the tip of his knobby nose to the last little spike on his powerful tail. As they watched, the alligator flung his tail to the left. He ground his tail to the right. He opened his large mouth, filled with razor-sharp teeth, and he closed his mouth. Jeannie's parents were duly impressed. The alligator swung his tail to the left. He swished his tail to the right. He opened his large mouth, as wide as could be, and he closed his mouth. Jeannie's parents were in awe. Imagine living in a place where alligators sunned themselves beside the water just as red-earred turtles sun themselves on logs. The alligator pitched his tail to the left. He rolled his tail to the right. He opened his large mouth, you could actually see down his throat, and he closed his mouth. Jeannie's father began to smell a rat. This just couldn't be. Alligators are things you see in zoos, or in movies, not living in the wild. Not like this. Not just....there, in front of you! The alligator wagged his tail to the left. He scraped his tail to the right. He opened his large mouth, you could almost hear a hissing sound, and he closed his mouth. Jeannie's father continued to puzzle over this enigma. Then.... he noticed the smallest wire coming out of the corner of the alligator's mouth. The alligator cranked his tail to the left. He shoved his tail to the right. He opened his large mouth, so very wide, and he closed his mouth. Jeannie's father exclaimed, "Ah hah! This isn't a real alligator, this is a Disney creation." As he took a step forward he continued, "See, there's a wire coming from his mouth." Her dad grabbed the wire. Jeannie stared in horror. The alligator lunged. Her dad ran. This, dear readers, was not a Disney creation. This was, in fact, a real, live, honest-to-goodness, stinking mad alligator who had swallowed a fish...hook, line and sinker! And Jeannie's dad had just tugged on a line that was attached to that fish, hook and all, some place waaayyyy down in the Alligator's craw. Alligators, despite their bulky, ungainly appearance, can run very fast for short distances on land. Jeanie's father could run faster! He escaped the mighty jaws of the beast, but will be forever memorialized in the tale that both Jeanie and I love to tell. I hope you enjoyed my story as well!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricanes

As I write this,  Hurricane Irene is skirting the Carolina's. The TV news is reviewing hurricanes that have caused damage in the US and is evoking memories of past hurricanes.
We lived in coastal SC for 34 years and had our share of hurricanes. We were lucky. We had only one direct hit. That was Hurricane David, which was barely a category 1 when it came on shore. As the hurricane approached, several of my friends who lived on an island evacuated to our house. We were up all night greeting new visitors, finding places for folks to lay their heads, but never actually making it to bed ourselves. As the sky began to lighten we could see swirling masses of grey clouds. The wind was picking up. You could feel the moisture on the breeze, but the rain had not yet begun to fall. We brewed a strong pot of coffee and listened to the news, trying to determine where to go next. As we debated, a series of small water spouts, spawned by the wind over the river, spun the tops off of several of our tall pine trees. Within fifteen minutes my hubby and I were alone, staring at each other. Our guests decided it was time to leave! We talked to some neighbors and evacuated with them to a home on a high bluff. I was a wreck. I was sure that the roof would blow off the house any moment. After three or four strong drinks I relaxed a bit, and actually enjoyed going outside as the eye of the storm passed over the house. We all marveled at the sunny calm that existed within a cylinder of nasty, grey clouds. We were back in our own bed before midnight. We had a few downed limbs and lots of twigs and pinecones on the ground, but no other damage.
Over the years we had quite a few near misses. Storms would often head our way, and then turn toward the north, avoiding our area. On several occasions school was cancelled and we were advised to prepare for evacuation, all for nought. Then, along came Hurricane Hugo. As the storm developed we realized how large and strong it was becoming. We made reservations at a hotel about 150 miles inland, packed both cars with precious belongings; children, pets, food and clothing. As we checked in at the hotel a prominent sign announced, "No Pets". When I asked about it, the clerk merely shrugged. As we went to our room we joined a parade of folks with dogs, cats, gerbils and goldfish! The hotel was more than willing to look the other way. We finally fell asleep around midnight when we saw that the hurricane had taken a slight turn to the north and would skirt our home. Friends living in the Charleston area of SC weren't quite so lucky. Hugo was a powerful storm and brought flooding and damaging high winds to vast areas of the Carolinas.
The last hurricane we evacuated for was Hurricane Floyd. This was a monster storm, as far as it's size,  covering an area almost the size of South Carolina. We boarded up our windows, packed the car and prepared to evacuate. Evacuation did not go smoothly. There were just too many people trying to get out of Dodge! This particular hurricane first looked like it was going to hit southern Florida. Folks in that area evacuated to the north. Then, the storm took a turn to the north. More evacuees joined those already on the road. The storm took another turn, and Georgians got in line with those from Florida to get out of the way of the storm. Then it was South Carolina's turn. People trying to leave Charleston were stuck in traffic. A trip of 80 miles was taking up to 6 hours. It was a mess. We finally left our home at around 4 AM. We travelled back roads and didn't have a problem until we had to connect with the Interstate and try to merge in with all of the traffic from other coastal communities. We were lucky once again. The storm turned and our area was spared.
Hearing of Hurricane Irene brings all of this back... and more.  I'm seeing a number of posts from my blog friends who may be in the hurricane's path. They have spent the day preparing for the storm picking up items that could blow around the yard, collecting food, flash lights and water.
I hope that the storm turns east and weakens substantially.
Best wishes and prayers to those of you in the hurricane's path. Stay safe, everyone!

Moving Along

We have finally finished the move;

rocks,

socks,

 and harrow!!

(Isn't that how the saying goes?!)



Our 'old' house is empty - totally barren and devoid of any of our things (except for the possibility of a Tucker hair or two that escaped the thorough vacuuming and carpet cleaning!)

Furthermore, the house is sold!

The deal is signed,


sealed,

and delivered!


We had the closing yesterday. Everyone is happy. (Oh, and the new owner said our house was 'immaculate' - omg - my mother is doing a happy dance in her grave - her daughter has finally learned how to clean!)

The buyers love their new house  and we love that it is no longer our house! 
It's a win-win for everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Little Bunny Foo-Foo

Tucker finds great delight in chasing the bunnies in his yard.

The bunnies take greater pleasure in eluding him.
Little Bunny Foo-Foo finds refuge in a four-inch drain in the yard.

But what will happen when Little Bunny Foo-Foo isn't so little anymore?







Monday, August 22, 2011

Just a Little Rain

What....?

What is it?

I was so busy eating that
all this time I thought it was raining!
Geesh! 
I don't need to be 'sprinklered' on!
I don't have to get wet!

A Fly Went By

I'm not sure how I feel about sharing my coffee with a neighborhood fly! I mean, he won't drink much and he seems to be quite happy swimming around. But....


Apologies about the poor focus...but it really is a fly doing the back stroke in my coffee!

What a way to wake up!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Diary of a Huntress

6:30 PM  The lady who brings the yummy food in the metal bowl ran down to the barn, grabbed the horses' food, fed the horses and left. She didn't bring yummy food for me. I'm not happy,

6:55 PM  I keep watching the windows of the house where the lady who brings the yummy food in the metal bowl lives.  Did she forget about me? Hey, lady.... I'm here at the barn, in my house....waiting...

7:45 PM  It's getting dark. I'm getting hungry. I only have the yucky dry stuff that's suppose to be food. It tastes like cardboard and it feels like I'm chewing rocks. I prefer mushy stuff. I guess I need to see what I can find.

8:15 PM  There! Did you see it? There is something moving. Over there. In the grass. My tail twitches on its own accord. I hunker down and watch. I'm in stealth mode. My nose twitches. I can smell it. It has a rodent smell. It smells warm. It is coming closer. I move swiftly and pounce. Got it!

8:20 PM  I carry the prey into my house. I am just about to dig into it when I hear that obnoxious dog, Tucker. He runs into the barn. I hiss at him. He leaves and I hide. Luckily he didn't see my prey.

8:35 PM  The man comes into the barn with a light on a stick. I scurry under the horse trailer. The stupid dog is making all kinds of noise. The man shuts the door to my barn. Uh oh. I'm out here. My dinner prey is in there. S*#%

8:45 PM  Here comes the lady who brings the yummy food in the metal bowl with another light on a stick. I'm sitting tight. Ah, but she sees me and calls my name. OK, I smell the yummy food. I'm outta here. The lady who brings the yummy food in the metal bowl lets me into my house. She sees my prey and tells me what a good kitty I am. I melt. I purr. I feel all gooshy inside. The lady who brings the yummy food puts down the food in the metal bowl. She picks up my prey puts it in the big, black cylinder lined in black plastic. She musta put it there to keep it safe from things like Tucker.

9:35 PM  I want my prey. I can smell it. I jump into the big, black container. It's a really high jump, but I'm young. I can do it. Let's see; a bunch of paper, some baling twine, some empty metal bowls.... and... my prey. I grab the prey and jump out.

.

.

.

6:45 AM  The lady who brings the yummy food in the metal bowl opens the door to my house and says, "Good Morning, Mama Boots." She sees the back half of my prey. (I could only eat half of it, what with the yummy food in the can and all.) She reminds me what a good kitty I am. She laughs and asks, "How did you get this out of the garbage can?" She tells me what an amazing huntress I am. I purr. I feel all gooshy inside.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Not Exactly What the Manufacturer Intended

In the last episode:

Pippin tried to get a drink from the waterer. 
Doc showed some attitude.
When asked if they would ever learn how to use the waterer, 
Doc shook his head in an emphatic, "No!"

Last Episode
(Turn sound on)


Stay tuned for the continuation of our story, When Will They Ever Learn, after a word from our sponsor:
MiraFount Horse Waterer - never haul water again!

And now.... 
the rest of the story:

I'm thinking that the horses are supposed to learn to push the blue "hamster bottle ball" down with their muzzles to get a drink from the tank. Just as Pippin was trying to do in the video. But, you see Doc snip at Pippin, saying,  "You idiot, that's not the way to do it" as he rudely pushes Pippin aside Doc neither listens to, nor responds to the human's comment. He shakes his head in disgust at Pippin's poor attempt at getting a drink and then shows Pippin how it should be done.

This, dear friends, is how you are supposed to use the waterer:


I believe the premise behind the blue balls is to keep the water clean.  Uh...having Doc plant his size 2's in the fountain doesn't exactly lead to clean water!! I guess we will have open topped waterers in the near future.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

When Will They Ever Learn?

Our new home's barn came with MiraFount stock waterers that can be accessed from the paddock or the pasture, with another unit in the stalls. The automatic water unit has a large plastic 'hamster bottle ball' that can be pushed down to access the water.


I have been jamming the ball to one side with a small stick of wood, so that the boys get used to getting their water from the watering unit. However, they often dislodge the wood and have to deal with the ball.

Watch (and listen) as Pippin (foreground) tries to get a drink:


Uh, I guess that Doc (behind Pippin) doesn't have much confidence about using the new-fangled watering hole! (And some people say our horses don't understand us!!)

Discovery

Yesterday I cleaned the hay area of the old barn. I lifted up pallets and pulled hay chaff out. I raked hay and chaff into piles. I stuffed 6 large garbage bags with hay... and chaff... and dirt.


I made a discovery...

The allergies that used to cripple me as a teen are still there, lurking below the surface, waiting for allergen overload! My lymphocytes did a marvelous job of detecting foreign bodies. OK, so they know hay... and dust.... intimately! They see it every day. But with the numbers they were encountering they must have figured that things had gone haywire and that their little world was under invasion by little microsopic terrorists.  Red Alert! Call out the National Guard. Call out the Marines. Call out the Army.

Emergency! 

Emergency! 

Emergency! 

Call out every able-bodied white cell. Heck... better make more. Sirens are blaring in my body. Messages are moving swiftly through my blood stream. Crank up the factories. Get those Immunoglobulens coming. We need them badly and we need them now. We need more... and more... and more. 

Quick! Attack! Kill the enemy! Show no mercy!

My body won the battle over the terorrist hay and dust particles ... at my expense.


I hab neber been tho mitherable in by life!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hay, I Have a Question

Yesterday we loaded the last bales of hay from our old barn and brought them up to our new barn. Our hay has been stored on pallets, which had plywood on top. But, there is still an amazing collection of hay chaff and seed heads that became packed into the pallets. I had to pull the clumped chaff out of pallets in moving them. The pile of chaff smells like good hay. It doesn't appear to be dusty. I didn't see any evidence of mice. So I'm wondering if this chaff could be used to supplement the feed for my guys, or whether I should simply spread it on the pasture hoping some of the seed will produce lovely new grass. With the cost of hay rising..... a person wonders!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Look well to this day....

I received the following in an email. I believe in this message and thought I would share it with you:


A friend of mine opened his wife's underwear drawer and picked up a silk paper wrapped package:

'This, - he said - isn't any ordinary package.'

He unwrapped the box and stared at both the silk paper and the box.

'She got this the first time we went to New York , 8 or 9 years ago. She has never put it on , was saving it for a special occasion.

Well, I guess this is it.

He got near the bed and placed the gift box next to the other clothing he was taking to the funeral house, his wife had just died.

He turned to me and said:
 'Never save something for a special occasion.

Every day in your life is a special occasion'.

I still think those words changed my life.

Now I read more and clean less.

I sit on the porch without worrying about anything.

I spend more time with my family, and less at work.

I understood that life should be a source of experience to be lived up to, not survived through.

I no longer keep anything.

I use crystal glasses every day...

I'll wear new clothes to go to the supermarket, if I feel like it.

I don't save my special perfume for special occasions, I use it whenever I want to.

T he words 'Someday....' and ' One Day...' are fading away from my dictionary.
 If it's worth seeing, listening or doing, I want to see, listen or do it now....

I don't know what my friend's wife would have done if she knew she wouldn't be there the next morning, this nobody can tell..

I think she might have called her relatives and closest friends.
 She might call old friends to make peace over past quarrels.
I'd like to think she would go out for Chinese, her favorite
food.

It's these small things that I would regret not doing, if I knew my time had come..
 

Each day, each hour, each minute, is special.
 
Live for today, for tomorrow is promised to no-one..
 
I went to camp for 7 years. Almost every morning the camp director read Kalidasa's "Salutation to the Dawn" at flag raising. At the time it never meant much to me. I was too anxious to rush to breakfast and get on with my day. However, I revisited the poem several years ago and realized how great an impact that brief poem had on my life, because it IS the way I chose to live. The message I shared and this poem are almost the same. I love Kalidasa's words:




Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn.


So, dear friends, look well to this day!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ornermental

Hay, Doc,
What does ornamental mean?

Orn-er-mental?
As in ornery and daffy?
Like you?

Watch the name calling, buddy!
I said 'ornamental'

Oh, sorry, I couldn't hear you 
with the flies buzzing around my ears.
*wink*
Ornamental means something that's 
pretty to look at. It's decoration.

Why would my Mrs. Owner consider
grass to be something to look at?
Doesn't she know it's something to eat?

Blue Fescue Grass... after Pippin



What it looked like... before Pippin!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Horses Have a 'Hay'day

Two Haflingers are staring at me as I type this entry. They are in their paddock, but I can see them from the kitchen table. I can feel their luminous, soft, dark eyes boring into my soul. They are trying to channel into my mind. They may even be chanting.... "Ouuuutttt. We want to go ouuutttt!" But they are telepathetic - it is not working!

On any given morning, I hop out of bed (yes, I am one of those people who come up to speed very quickly upon opening my eyes) grab some clothes, run a brush through the hair, and head to the barn to let the boys out for a morning nibble. This morning was no different until I was stopped in my tracks on the way to the door.... uh oh, this isn't right. From the window I can see two contented ponies standing in the corner of the back yard. Yes... they are so contented they are just standing there. Oops, only one is standing. Doc is napping and Pippin is standing guard. By the time I make it to the door (and gosh darn, I didn't grab the camera) they are both napping, nose to tail.

Like guilty kids, they both stand as soon as they see me, blinking their large eyes at me, trying to pretend that all is right with the world and it's OK for them to be relaxing in the back yard at 6:30 AM. Our back yard is fenced and they actually have been 'mowing the lawn' for us for an hour or so each morning, so this isn't really unknown or forbidden territory, it's just the timing that is all wrong. And, judging from their behavior (standing... not eating voraciously) and the dearth of poop piles in the paddock,  they have been 'mowing the lawn' for a number of hours!

I walk toward the paddock and two contrite ponies follow in line, heads down as they march back to confinement a water source. Doc stops at the gate to ask me for a treat... unh uh, not this time, Doc! "But," says Doc, "we've been working hard all night to get your grass mowed just right!  We wanted to surprise you! That should deserve a treat!"

I let them in through the gate (which had swung shut after the escape) where apparently I did not secure the snap hook that keeps the slide latch shut securely.  I am guilty!

Pippin and Doc have given up on staring at me.

 We didn't want to go out and eat, anyway.


I'm pooped! It's been a long night!
Me too!
z-z-z-z-z-z

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Box Talks

Hello. I am Baylor. Baylor U-Haul. I am a box, just in case you couldn't tell.


I am tired.... so very tired. I have been doing my job for a long time, and I've been doing it well. If you read on, I'll tell you my story and you'll understand.

I was born in the southeast. Made from pulp wood of pine trees and some recycled cardboard and paper. I was stamped out of a huge roll of corrugated paper. I went through the printer. That was where I got my identity as a U-Haul. I joined the rest of the U-Haul clan. We were bundled together and shipped to our first home, the U-Haul store in South Carolina. I am proud to be a U-Haul. There are many in our family and we can be found living in many places. I stand tall and proud because I belong. I belong to a huge family. One day I discovered that I was going to get a job. This would be my first job. I was taken away with some of my brothers and sisters and we were put to work. It is fulfilling to be working. I was opened up, taped together (that tickles a bit) and filled with belongings. My job was to protect those belongings. I was hoisted and jostled and lugged from here to there. One of the belongings was in an awkward position. At first it was just a bit irritating, but it rubbed and poked and dented me a bit. I traveled in the back of a truck from my first home in South Carolina to a place called Colorado. I can't tell you too much about the trip because it was dark in the back of the truck and I couldn't see much. But, I was with my brothers and sisters and we quietly talked; recalling our experiences, discussing our contents and dreaming about the future. When we arrived in the place called Colorado we were taken to different rooms. Some of my brothers and sisters went to a place called storage. They didn't have much of a job. They just had to sit on a shelf holding the belongings. I was emptied. That was a deflating experience. No more belongings to protect. My tape was ripped off. Ouch! That hurt. It took some of my sensitive skin with it. I was stacked with some other boxes; strangers from the Lowe's family and some from the Home Depot family. We waited together, shivering through the cold nights in a place called garage. 
Several months later we were picked up, as a group, tossed in the back of the pickup and went for a ride. You won't believe this, but we were back in SC where we started from. I enjoyed the feel of the humidity, even though I felt a bit sodden. I was taped together again. I felt whole! Belongings were once again put in me and I was on another trip to that place called Colorado. 
Upon our arrival my belongings were removed, leaving me with that empty feeling. Again, my tape was ripped off and I was flattened. 
I found out I had another moving job later that year. This time I was loaned to a house nearby. I carried their belongings safely to a new location and again I was flattened and returned to my Colorado home. A few months after that I was taken to yet another Colorado home to move Mr. Dad's things. This move was different because the truck time was so short. I was filled and emptied, and filled and emptied several times. All of that moving around, being stacked and sorted, being picked up and pushed around left me a bit tattered, but I still proudly carried belongings safely from one place to another. That's my job and I'm proud to do it. 
So, now, I've brought you up to the present. I have been pressed back into service. Once again I was opened and taped. I'm not as strong as I used to be. I need a bit more tape to support my weakened joints. I still stand proud, but I pooch out on the sides a bit. I have a few small tears and crumpled flaps and corners. But I am back, doing what I was born to do. Over the past week I have made a number of trips from one home to another. I am filled with belongings and emptied. Then I make the trek back to the place where I get filled with belongings again... and then emptied. It is satisfying to be doing a job and doing it well. I am probably one of the older boxes on the job, but I can still keep up with the younger guys. I have a history and can proudly recall the jobs I have completed satisfactorily. I don't know how many more jobs I can fulfill. There will come a time when I can no longer work. Perhaps my seams will become so weakened from tape being removed numerous times, or maybe one of my flaps will tear off, or, I shudder at the thought, what if a side seam rips, spilling my contents on the ground? But, that is then and this is now. I'm just about to head out the door, back into the truck and down to the other house to get loaded again. Life is good!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Socky and the Russian Cossacks

Here's a blast from the past... 

This is my first horse, Wynsocky. He was a cute little grey guy who had a lot of scope over fences. That was important to me when I was a whole lot younger than I am now!!


I loved his 'raccoon' mask. 
He was a sweet first horse.


Socky was a great Pony Club horse. He took me over many cross-country courses, through the hunt field, and begrudgingly, around the dressage ring. He had a short, squatty neck and resisted being ridden 'on the bit'. But I have to admit that he, like me, had little regard for rigid rules and boundaries! We both preferred a more casual style - trail rides were far more preferable than work in a ring!

A few of my high school friends were interested in creating movies. What they wouldn't have given for digital video!  But they had all of the necessary equipment of the day:  cameras, lights, tripods and lots of Kodak 8mm film. They scripted and story-booked their movies. They shot and edited the end results, and our high school class (all 28 of us) had the opportunity to attend the first screenings. One spring the 'producers' decided to shoot a movie involving the Russian Cossacks. To this day I can't quite figure out why! I even called one of the guys involved in the production of this fine film to ask him why they chose the subject... and he couldn't remember either. 
One of the scenes involved the village peasants working in the fields. Suddenly, there is the sound of a horn and a battalion of Russian Cossacks on fiery steeds come galloping over the hill to slay the lowly peasants. So, the producers needed 'fiery steeds'. Of course Socky would be perfect in this role, as would the horses of several of my friends. We all met at a local park that had the perfect topography. There was a nice 'valley' where the peasant actors and actresses could pretend to be working in their fields. There was a nice hill that would hide the Cossacks until they came to the crest and then they could swoop down on the unsuspecting peasants in the fields. 
The day for filming arrived. A perfect day - hard to come by in this part of the northeast. I arrived at the barn to get my fiery steed ready for his film debut. I wasn't going to be riding him - I was playing the role of a peasant. Again, it escapes me as to the thinking behind this!  (a premonition on my part?) I rode Socky over to the filming location and got the Russian Cossack actor settled on him, adjusting the stirrups and giving him the basic 'driving' instructions. You know; pull the right rein to go right, the left rein to turn left. Pull back to slow down or stop. 
Soon the director called 'places'. I took my hoe and joined others in the field. The call came for the Cossacks to charge, and charge they did. It was a beautiful scene. Just as the directors had imagined. The horses (all four of them) thundered over the crest of the hill at great speed. The Cossack's garb was flapping, the hooves thundered. We, the Russian peasants, looked up in horror. The horses came down into the field amongst us. The horses spied the rag tag group of peasants with hoes and rakes. The horses saw the cameras on tripods. The horses looked at us in horror. These things didn't belong In their park! The horses abruptly stopped moving forward and took quick movements sideways. Russian Cossacks littered the ground and horses scattered in all directions. A lively, ad-libbed hand-to-hand combat ensued, minus a few of us who went to collect the wayward steeds. 
We watched the film and laughed. It all looked great. In our eyes it was perfect. 
Oh, what I wouldn't give to see that film footage today!

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch: If I Only Had a Brain

It's time for 'Chats on the Farmhouse Porch' again. Oh, how I wish I had time to sit on the porch! We have been swamped - working on the new house and continuing to pack up some things at the old house. So, once again, I'll have to forego a face to face chat with friends and enjoy 'chatting' with blog friends by responding to questions. Come sit on my porch with me. Answer questions on your own blog, or leave your responses in a comment on mine. Come chat with us! Visit Everyday Rurality to read more chat responses. 



Here are your questions for the day:
  1. What color was your first car?
  2. Do you dance or sing when you're by yourself?
  3. What were your favorite and least favorite subjects in school? (I'm thinking high school or younger, but if you want to tell us about your PhD, go right ahead.)
  4. What was the last dinner you made?
  5. Please finish this: "I feel naked without ---------------------." (Now, you know there's someone out there who will answer "clothes". See. I caught you! :)

Here are my answers:
1. My first car was green....and my other first car was green! I had a green VW that I 'inherited' from my sister. It had 70,000 miles on it. My first new car was a green Capri that my parents gave me when I graduated from college. I sold my aged VW to my boyfriend.... who then became my husband! So my third car was green, too!

2. I often sing; While I'm riding, while I'm in the car, while I'm doing yard work. Music becomes a metronome for my work, helping me be more productive. I enjoy the thought of dancing. I'd love to be able to move gracefully across a dance floor, but, "Mama Don't Dance and Your Daddy Don't Rock and Roll!"

3.  I enjoyed (if you could call it that) Math and Science, despite the fact that I had some teachers who made it seem harder at the time. I absolutely hated English. I had a teacher who gave me D's and F's because my writing was poor. When I asked how to improve my writing, he said it would come with maturity. So, I struggled along getting lousy grades, not until I matured, but until I switched to a different English teacher and then got decent grades!

4. Oh, how embarrassing! We got home late last night. By the time I took care of horses, unloaded the car, checked the blog site, etc... it was 8:00 PM! So... a quick survey of the fridge determined that there were two hot dogs - but no buns. I had some biscuit mix, so we had 'pigs in a blanket'. I sliced up a peach and I cooked a fresh zucchini, with vidalia onion. Hubby declared the meal as 'good'. I think what he meant to say was that it was a good thing I finally served something!

5. I feel naked without my smart phone. My phone is my brain. It contains all sorts of information that I can not manage to keep in my head. Before I had the smart phone I had a Palm. Even my kids would ask me, 'Where's your brain?' when they wanted to put a note in it. Yup... if they wanted me to remember something, like a birthday present they'd like to have, or a grocery item, they'd put it in my Palm for me!

This has been a pleasant interlude 'on my porch'... well, I can see the porch from here! I hope you'll join me!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Are You Smarter Than....

  • an octopus?  Octopuses (according to Merriam-Webster this is the correct plural for 'octopus') are actually one of the smarter sea creatures. They learn from observation and can discriminate between different shapes, sizes and brightness.
Yeah, I can do that...and more!
I'm smarter than an octopus!
  • a bee? Honeybees perform a unique dance to communicate the location of lucrative sources of good stuff from flowers. They can use the sun as a compass and can recognize sounds and colors.
Well, I don't speak 'bee' so I wouldn't understand what he is saying.
But, I can read a compass, use a GPS, and get from point A to point B.
I'm smarter than a bee!
  • a microwave? Our new microwave has a number of 'smart' settings. One is for popcorn. It senses how heavy the popcorn bag is and then figures how long to pop it. 

OK, the bag of popped corn isn't as full as usual.
I'll put it back in for a few seconds and use my
'listen to the pops' standard for timing it. 

My popcorn was horribly burned.
[This is not my picture. I had to drown my popcorn with the garden hose.
 But, it looked like this! Source.


I am not smarter than a microwave!


Line Line Everywhere a Line

We avoided the line to get off the Interstate somehow; a stroke of luck, or perhaps a line didn't form coming from the south, only for those poor souls coming from the north. 

But shortly we were funneled into a line to turn right. We followed all of the cars traveling in the line. Orange cones and markers forced us into the correct lane. Barriers kept us from choosing alternative routes. Traffic 'police' waved us on. Car after car after car.  Two lanes wide. All headed in the same direction. Two lines over  a mile in length. 

We followed the line of traffic into a parking structure. We were directed to a parking place.
It was all done with precision. Everything moved rather quickly. Obviously this procedure has been well rehearsed and practiced. 

We expected a line at the entrance, but didn't expect it to zig-zag 
back and forth, 
back and forth, 
following lanes cordoned off with yellow polystyrene rope.

We were pulled out of the line and were told 
to enter by a different door.
(Did we look that old and tired?)
Behold, there was yet another line.
One for the elevator instead of the escalator. 

We are not going to an amusement park 
or opening night at the ball park
or to a concert.
We are in a line to shop at Ikea.

A Denver store has just opened and evidently it is THE thing to do on a hot summer day!
(We needed a day off - neither one of us cared to lift a finger to do anything!)

We travel through the departments, 
basically in a mass of moving shoppers.
Another line! We shuffle along,  taking a brief look at furniture, 
kitchens, closets and accessories, office fixtures, bookcases...

Bookcases? 

That's what we came to see.
We came. We saw. We will buy, some other day!

How stupid for not bringing the truck. 
What were we thinking?
Obviously... we were not!

 Now, back in line again for lunch. Yes. I want Swedish meatballs!

Nope, they are not as good as mom's.
But, they are tasty.

Ikea does a wonderful job of forcing you to move back and forth through various departments as you progress through the store. Since there were so many shoppers, we were forced to saunter along in line, which means we had more time to consider a spur-of-the-moment purchase here and there.... and once it was in our hands, it was very hard to fight 'upstream' in the line if we changed our mind about the item.
Well, I did see lots of misplaced items rejected by other shoppers who must have had second thoughts!

The check out line was minimal and moved very quickly. The store has many trained personnel from other stores to help out with the opening rush.  As we exit, by way of a sloping moving sidewalk, we are in yet another line! I bet the store wishes they had exit lines every day of every year!

Then it's out to the garage.
Back in line with our car, as we creep out of the parking garage.
We follow the line of cars that wind through the garage and then through the neighboring streets
until the congestion is finally relieved a few miles from the store.

What a "Funday" we had!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Coming Out of the Closet

This morning I let the cat out of the bag.....

 I mean, I let the kitty out of the closet. ...

No, that's not right either....

I let Mama Boots out of the stall! 

She has been living in a stall since we acquired her almost a month ago. First we had to keep her locked up so that she would not try to run back to her previous owner. Then, we had her spayed and the clinic* suggested she be confined for a week to ten days.

So, now it is finally time to explore your new world....





There's a big ol' world out there, Mama Boots!


* The Feline Fix is a program of the Rocky Mountain Cat Alliance.  This organization is wonderful. I can't say enough good things about who they are and what they do. The RMCA is working hard to help control the cat population. They spay or neuter feral cats as well as pet cats, and provide shots.... all for a reasonable fee of $45 ($35 for feral cats). It's hard to beat that. If you have a cat that needs to be fixed, you might check to see if a similar organization exists in your community. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Three Little Blackbirds


Three little blackbirds
Sitting on a fence..
One flew off to visit her nest.

Two little blackbirds
Sitting on a fence..
One flew off and the last was tense.

One little blackbird
sitting on a fence..
He flew off, he didn't take offense.

No little black birds 
sitting on a fence..
This silly rhyme doesn't make much sense!

But, I really enjoyed making it up after 
seeing the birds all sitting in a line on the paddock railing.
It's because of the inner child in me... 
Some days I refuse to grow up!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

From Stem to Stern

 Stem...



And... you have a problem with something because......?
What do you expect me to do in a mud paddock?
If you left me out in pasture this woulda never have happened!

to stern....

Eating My Way Through San Francisco

We had a wonderful long weekend in San Francisco... and it was mostly about food!

Wearing my new Apple hat, 
outside my son's office building...
OK, so it isn't really his - this is where
his office is located. Is that better?

We began our gastronomic expedition in Cupertino. Well, maybe the Apple cafeteria isn't exactly a 5-star restaurant, but it was fun to see the choices available to employees - a far cry from the middle school cafeteria I am accustomed to!

 Our next stop on the food express was dinner at Maverick. Having enjoyed such a hearty repast at Apple, I selected to enjoy an appetizer as my meal. This delight is pate with nectarine pepper jelly, licorice, almond streusel and tiny jello cubes, perhaps watermelon(?) with brioche.


Hard to believe, but when we woke up the next morning, we were ready for more food! We headed back to the Mission District for brunch at the Mission Beach Cafe. We arrived before it opened and thus avoided the long lines that form very quickly.


I had a Mission Beach pancake with fresh fruit, vanilla creme and bourbon syrup.
Lunch followed shortly. Pizza from Delfina Pizzeria. Their pizzas are all handmade and once again, we were able to avoid a long line by arriving early.

We changed neighborhoods for dinner, stopping in the North Beach area for dinner and more than a little beer at La Trappe Cafe.  La Trappe has 400 different bottled beers and I believe they said 19 different beers on tap. I think we tried to taste all of the ones on tap! 

Once again, we were hungry when morning arrived! How does that happen?! This time we visited with my BFF from high school at Cafe Flore. We had such a great time recalling fun things from the past and catching up on our lives, oh, and yeah, eating!

Since we didn't leave the Cafe until almost 1:00 pm we actually skipped a meal! We visited with our son and his sweetheart and followed them to the climbing gym. No... I didn't try climbing, but it looks like a ton of fun!

Here's my son's sweetheart... 
do you think he's driving her up the wall already?!

Later we enjoyed home cooked pizza at their place for dinner.  My favorite was poached pear and gorgonzola. Yum!

Monday we were on our own during the day. We played 'tourist' and visited Fisherman's Wharf, and of course, enjoyed fresh fish and crab at one of the hundreds of eateries there. That evening we topped off our gastronomic expedition at Hog & Rocks.  This is, unbelievably, a ham and oyster bar! They have a number of different hams, and yes... they do taste delightfully different! We ordered a ham tasting plate and a variety of oysters.

 

We found it interesting to learn that the chef/owner of Hog & Rocks also owns Maverick - our first dinner eatery! What are the odds that we would select (well, that our son would help us select) two places with that commonality?!)

So, now we are home. It's time to diet!!!

Take A Hike

Stepping back in time a bit....  I flew into Denver to pick up my car, visit with my dad and then get a few odds and ends taken care of. Th...