Monday, April 30, 2012

Life Lesson #381

Life Lesson: Going to the Botanic Gardens in the spring is a mistake. 
A BIG mistake!


Hubby and I visited the Denver Botanic Gardens on Earth Day. We saw amazing displays of flowers. We took lots of pictures of plants and flowers, with their name tags, to remind us of what we want to have in our garden, eventually. 

On the way home we stopped by a nursery we have seen, but never visited. That was the mistake. We bought a bit of this and that.

Tall snapdragons - in a brilliant red
Dahlias - in lovely pinky-reddish-orange colors
Raspberry bushes - well, they aren't bushy yet!
A yellow-flowered Barberry - the one at the garden was magnificent
A bleeding heart
Lupines
Pasque Flower
Poppies
Ice Plants
and more...
$
$
$

It all adds up so quickly!

Now, I want to plant. But I can't! The gardens are at a lower elevation and I suspect there may be an additional climactic difference due to the heat sink effect of the city. They are a few weeks ahead of us. Our 'last frost date' is May 30. We have been known to have 2' of snow in May. So... I tend my beautiful 'Garden in a box' and wait.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Classroom Chronicles: Worth a Million

I'd like to think that at least a few of my lessons remain memorable for my students throughout their lives. As a teacher I worked hard at locating and planning lessons to engage my students. I wanted the lessons to lead to discovery for I felt that if students 'discovered' the principle I was teaching, they would own it and remember it. Unfortunately, sometimes what the students 'discovered' was not what I originally intended!

I was teaching third grade. I found a wonderful lesson in a magazine about "How Much is a Million?". The students would be able to measure liquid, practice multiplying by 10, develop an understanding of metric measurement, and work with place value as they counted one million drops of water. A 'packed' lesson. There was so much a student could take away from this lesson! But... wait until you hear what my students remember from this lesson...almost 30 years later!

We began our work. The students had paper and pencil for their calculations. We worked in groups. Each group had an aquarium (I think they were 20 gallon aquaria). They had an eye dropper and graduated cylinders in a 10 ml and 100 ml sizes. Each group also had a large plastic bowl or pitcher. My job, after directing the students through the initial stages of the lesson, was to supply water to each group. I had access to a sink in the room, so I simply had to go back and forth among the groups with a pitcher to bring water to them.

Students measured 10 drops of water into the 10 ml cylinder. Then they figured out what volume they would have if they multiplied it by 10. So they would know the measurement for 100 drops of water. Then they could multiply that by 10 to get the volume of 1000 drops, and so forth. They began pouring water and recording the amount on their papers. I began shuttling back and forth with my pitcher. There was a wonderful buzz of activity around the classroom. Students were involved. They were engaged in the lesson. They were talking about their work. It's the type of talk a teacher loves to hear.

Then... it happened. I came out of the bathroom with another pitcher of water. I slipped. I fell backwards, foot kicking up to the ceiling, falling... falling.... flat on the floor. My pitcher of water went sailing, splattering students, desks, the ceiling and the floor. There was an awkward moment of stillness and then a ripple of giggles began, spreading across the classroom. There was a great deal of merriment because there is nothing funnier than seeing someone your teacher fall down on the job.


Not too long ago I met one of my third graders from that class. She is now an adult, with children of her own. She and I reminisced a bit. Then she said, "Remember the time you slipped and fell?" That's all she remembered from the lesson. Not counting. Not measuring. Not multiplying. She simply remembered that her teacher was human, with human frailties, and could laugh about it. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. In its own way, that's worth a million!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flowers for Leontien

My dear Leontien,
Flowers for you, to brighten your day
You are loved by many, in every way!




My wonderful friend, Leontien, is battling cancer.
It's a tough fight.
We want her to know she is not alone.
Leontien is one spunky girl.
You can 'send' her flowers, too!
Visit her site:


Friday, April 27, 2012

A Visit From the Vet

Hay....watcha got there? 


Uh... I don't like the looks of this.
She's got sharp, pointy, hurty things there.


I'm outta here!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hobby Horse Blog Hop 10: MIA

Blogger ate my homework! All of my draft posts are a blank slate. Yeah. You know how I feel!
I guess when Blogger changed to its new look... it somehow lost my stuff.
I am currently away from home. I guess you could say I am MIA, just like my blog post! I have an iPad with me. I thought I wasn't seeing anything because of the iPad format. So, I came down to the hotel lobby to use their computer. And.... nothing. Picture Dreaming looking very sad!
So.... I had originally planned to add the linky tool code and put the Blog Hop up. Now, I'd have to start from scratch. The hotel computer is so, darn slow, I don't have time to do that right now. So.... another Plan B!

This week I will let you have a 'write anything you want' Blog Hop.... except you must begin with: I really hate it when.....

I think you can imagine how I would fill in the blank! Just picture me with my lip lifted in a snarl as I look at the 'New Look'. Just picture me pounding the keys in anger. Just picture a little bit of steam coming out of my ears!!

So.... complete your own post. I'd love to see pictures, too. I actually don't mind if you don't even answer the question. You could even just link whatever post you'd like to the Hobby Horse Blog Hop.

So go ahead. Link on up. Oh.... don't forget to put in a question for readers to answer!

I hope you have a good week. I hope the Blogger transition didn't cause problems for you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reverting to Plan A

Falling in love with two Haflingers was never my intention. That just happened. Don't let Pippin and Doc know, but they were Plan B.... well actually it was never really planned! I knew that I wanted horses and my original plan was to foster some horses from a nearby horse rescue program. Then, I went to an auction and fell head-over-heels in love with my boys. I mean, really, do you blame me?!


They weren't being auctioned until the next day, so hubby and I had time to talk it over, do a little research and search our souls. Buying them and bringing them home was one of the major events of my life, right up there with graduation from college and marriage. As anyone can tell who has read any one post about the boys, you know how deep my love lies. They truly are my children, my fuzzy children!


Like any parent, I want my children to be happy. Although my horses get unconditional love from me, get good food and proper care and have a clean barn and paddock everyday (well,  OK, so maybe not a clean paddock when we have snow on the ground),  I think they are missing out on something. My boys want to work. They want to be busy, both physically and mentally.



And I can't give them enough. For the last year or so I've been involved in a mental tug-o-war with myself. It goes something like this:

I should ride one of the horses today.
I tiled (painted, nailed floorboards) and I'm too tired.
Pippin's looking at me. He really wants me to come
down and do something with him.
It's too windy (cold, snowy, hot) to work with the horses.
I should drive Doc today.
This ground driving is a lot of fun, but I can only walk so far.
We've been working for 30 minutes. 
You have been wonderful.
Should I push the horses a bit longer? Shall we go a bit faster?
No, they've been great. Let's stop now.
It's a beautiful day. I have an hour. Let's go!
By the time I get you groomed and saddled,  I'll have to stop.
I'm thinking that Pippin is ready to pull the carriage.
After all, he used to drive all of the time!
It's not new to him!
But what if he bolts? What if he doesn't respond to me?

I love my horses, but:
  • my energy level and strength aren't on par with what they put out. 
  • things get in the way that limit my time to work with them. 
  • there is that niggly, hidden deep inside seed of fear that has taken root and shows itself now and then. 
My horses are in the prime of their lives. They are still young (9 & 11). They should be driven. They should be ridden. They should be busy almost every day in my opinion. I can't do that. Not with two of them.


I gave some thought to keeping one of them so I could focus on one horse. That is doable. But first, I couldn't decide which one, and second, I couldn't split them up. They are a team. So, with tears flowing down my face, I am letting all of my friends know that I have decided to put my team up for sale. It makes me sad. But I want them to have more. They deserve it.

I talked to a trainer who works with driving horses. He is going to take the horses in June and give them a driving tune-up. Then he will work with me to help sell them. Doing this will give me additional time to decide if I truly can live without horses in the back yard. I may find that I can't sell them, and after their tune-up, I may be more comfortable driving them. Ha! You will have to pull the manure spreader... you'll have to work for your measly ration of hay! However, at that time, if I believe I have made the right decision to make someone else a happy Haffie owner, then, who knows, perhaps I'll revert to Plan A!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

15 Minutes in the Life of a Horse

Are you ready, Doc?
Today is the day!
Today we will move this gate away.


The gate is open very wide.
I'll push with my foot
And move you to the side.


To the side, I say,
Move right over left.
You can do it.
You are the best!


I knew you could do it!
The gate's shut at last.
You did it perfectly,
Even though you weren't fast!

Newest Followers


I'd like to welcome my new followers:

Sherri writes The HomeSteader's Cottage. I met her through Patrice at Everyday Rurality. We both participate in the Chats on the Farmhouse Porch. Sherri lives in the sultry south, near where I used to live. Gee, if I had been blogging when I lived there, we could have met for lunch!

My next follower is serious about horse showing! She lives in the San Francisco area. I might have her name in a comment, but I haven't put two and two together - well, at least I haven't been able to put blog and name together. Anyway, she writes Viva Carlos where she describes her goals and dreams with her beautiful Off-the-track Thoroughbred, Carlos.

Miranda is also involved in horse showing. She rides & shows Pippi.... a darling paint and she shows Chance, her miniature horse. They even jump - well, Chance does, Miranda has to run around the jumps! Sadly, Miranda is out of commission - well, maybe just slowed down a bit - while she waits for a broken ankle to heal. Miranda writes Hard to Handle.

And my newest new follower is Laura who writes Little Keebler. I noticed that Laura had started following just after I originally put this post up! Laura lives in Ontario. She has been blogging since 2005 - wow! She has darling animals! Check out her blog and see if you can find the cat on the bookshelf! So darn cute!

I love all of the blogs written by my new friends. It is so interesting to see what is going on in their lives. I thank them for following my blog so that I could find them and learn more about them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

OK Pippin, I'm jealous.


You have a new girlfriend!


I saw you two kissing!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tucker Talks: Made Ya Move

You. Would. Not. Believe. What. I. Got. To. Do. Today!!
I got to play with sheep! I have wanted to play with sheep forever and ever and ever! So, my mom and my dad took me to a herding E-valution.... whatever that is!
The main guy... they called him the trainer.... came out of the round pen and said, "Let me have that big Aussie."
"Huh?" I woofed, "Are you talking about me?" I was about to object to his calling me 'big' when he slipped a noose rope around my neck and I was taken into the round pen. My Dad came with me. There were some strange animals in there. I wasn't sure what they were. Finally, it all clicked... these were those sheep guys I had been told about. Here's a movie of me when I first got into the pen:

video

You can see I wasn't exactly sure what to do. The trainer guy actually had to put the sheep's foot in my face... giving me a chance to smell the sheep's butt... why, I wonder, don't people understand the butt sniffing thing?!!

video

After a bit I became more comfortable about pushing these guys around. I love the way these big fuzzy guys listened to me! I barked. They moved! I gave them the evil eye.... they moved! How cool is that?!!

I want some sheeps of my own!

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm Just a Hairy Guy

 Hay(sic), buddy. 

Can you spare a hair?

No problem, Ma'am.
Take what you need.
I've got plenty of hair to spare!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hobby Horse Blog Hop 9: Life is a Cabaret

I am not especially musical. In fact, those in the know would say I have no musicality, whatsoever. Randy Jackson (American Idol) would say I was "pitchy" if he heard me sing. (Or is that bitchy?) 
Anyway, despite my inadequacies in this area, I often find that songs pop into my head to punctuate events in my life. I guess you could say my life is like a musical!


This week's song, or at least the chorus that defines the event of the week is:


I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never going to keep me down.
                                        -Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

Or maybe the song I should be singing is "Tumbling Tumbleweeds!"

You see, it all started innocently enough. I was riding Doc. Sharron was riding Pippin. We were on the trail across the street from my house. I had turned to say something to Sharron (note to self.... no more talking while riding!). As I turned a corner, Doc saw something of great concern. I caught it out of the corner of my eye. I have to admit, in that brief second even I thought it was something menacing. Doc knew it was menacing, and wanting to save his hide, oh, and maybe mine, he executed a deft dive to the left, followed by a spin to the left, as he decided to get out of Dodge. There was only one problem.... I didn't quite keep him between me and the ground. 


And just what was it that was behaving so erratically, 
so predator-like and could cause 
great harm to a Haffie?

A large tumbleweed blowing against the fence.

Oh... there's another song for my 'musical':

The answer my friend,
Is blowing in the wind.
The answer is blowing in the wind!

Who woulda thunk a hefty Haffie could move so gosh darn hastily?!

So, like the first song. I got back up again.
S-L-O-W-L-Y...
Testing my old bones. 
I retrieved Doc, who thankfully
weighed the options:
Running back home   vs    Eating grass
And chose the option that any
self-respecting Haffie would select.

Yeah - the tailbone is a bit sore.
But, thankfully, it's only that
and my ego that are bruised!


So, now it's time to find out more about each other in the Blog Hop. 
I hope you can join in!



In case you are new... or as a reminder:

Each week I'll post two or three prompts. 
Write about one or respond to all.
Or, just link your blog to mine if you
care to share something else about yourself.

Most importantly,
complete your blog post (or comment) by asking a question of us.

I am really enjoying answering your questions,
and look forward to seeing other responses, too.
I think it's a great way to have a conversation of sorts!

Link your post to the Hobby Horse Blog Hop
by using the Linky Tool below.
Click where indicated, just after it says
"You are next...."
Or...
Leave a comment with the answer(s) to the
questions(s) on my blog, down below.

Visit other participating blogs on the list
and respond to their questions in your comments on their pages.

Hobby Horse Blog Hop Prompts - Week 9:

1. Tell us a bit about your feelings or experiences regarding musicals. Do you like them? Have you been in one? What recollections might you have about musicals?

2. Tell about a near miss or a fall that was simply stupid. Don't scare me... or other readers! Until my back end feels better, I don't really want to read about a compound fracture, dislocated thing-a-ma-jig or a broken helmet and a concussion. (Although, I am most compassionate and if that happened to you, I am oh, so sorry - and I'm glad you are better now!)

3. What song (or part of a song) defines an event in your week?


My introduction provided some possible answers to my questions. So, this week, since I have jabbered on enough, already, I'll just enjoy reading your blogs and comments!


I hope you have had a good week. I'll leave you with this quote I found on the Internet:
"Nature gave us all something to fall back on, 
and sooner or later we all land flat on it."
                                               - unnamed cowboy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chiro-Crack-it

The Chiropractic Vet came to visit us the other day. I haven't used her before, but she was recommended by someone I respect. She was here for two hours, conducting chiropractic evaluations and adjustments as well as doing Coggin's tests and providing spring shots. The boys were thoroughly poked, prodded and inspected!

The exam began with an assessment of their gaits.
Forward and back at the walk and the trot. 
Doc needed a bit of encouragement to trot.
(Remember that 'Slow' post?!!)

 She literally went over each horse from tip to toe. 
Here she's starting Doc's exam,
feeling vertebrae along his neck. 
She also felt the neck as she asked each horse to 
bend laterally left and right.
The Doctor 'Doc' was impressed with the horse 'Doc's' lateral flexibility!
Hooray for Clinton Anderson's influence in having me
ask for lateral flexion every time I ride!

Each section of the spine was assessed for
range of movement and possible pain.
Notes were taken; 
(see the clipboard in the vet student's hands?)

Each hoof was wiggled in circles and the movement of bones was evaluated.
Here she is stretching the foreleg and the neck. 
She commented that it was easy to get Pippin to do this...
He is so food-oriented, he was looking for a treat!
This led to an intriguing discussion.
I mentioned that because of  Pippin's food obsession
we had thought that perhaps he was starved at some point in his life.
She considered that, but then offered that maybe he
had been an orphaned foal. 
Hmmmm.... we will never know!
Pippin's not talking (or.... is he?!)

As she rotated the leg out, she commented,
"I bet you didn't know a horse's shoulder could move this way!"
She was right!

The Vet 'Doc' prescribed some exercises and stretches
for the horse 'Doc'.
His sciatic area on the right side is a bit stiff. 
He seems to have a bit of a hitch in his giddy-up.
Here she demonstrates the exercise on Pippin:
video
The second step is to perform the same action
but bring the hoof back 'one step'.
Doc doesn't easily make 'circles' on his right side. 
His hoof moves in ovals. 
She said I could do this with both horses 
as it does keep them supple.

The Doc 'Doc' moved on to adjustments.


In addition to the hoof circles, 
she suggested three other exercises.
I have a lousy video of one of them below, 
but it may help understand what she's asked me to do.
This is for Pippin who has some tightness 
in the lumbar region of his spine:
video

What I'm supposed to do is hold him gently near the base of the tail with one hand. Then beginning at the withers, wiggle his back laterally, moving all the way down to his hips. You can kinda see it in the video. The Doc 'Doc' can really get the horses' backs wiggling. It looks very relaxing! The Doc 'Doc' was insistent that I practice under her supervision. Let me tell you, she makes it look really easy!

I'm also supposed to 'move' both horses backs vertically. I am to push up on their abdomen, just behind the girth area. She uses her finger tips and pushes, so the horses oppose the touch by pulling up until their spine is almost flat. Then, first, just behind their withers, I am to plant my fingers on the far side of the spine and gently, but firmly, push down and pull toward me. She suggested doing this four times on each side, moving down the spine and ending in front of the hips. The final exercise, for Doc, is to back slowly (easy peasy for Doc) and deliberately for 5 to 8 steps. This will help with the stiffness in his sacrum. 

I was so pleased with the visit. Both boys have minor issues. The Doc 'Doc' explained that there are many, many horse owners out there that would wish their horses had the problems my horses have. I was amazed at how thoroughly she examined the boys, and the caring she exhibited. At the end, she gave each horse a cuddle and a pat or two. She did say that she loved Pippin's mustache... and thought both boys were just too darned cute! Awww, it makes a mama proud!



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Need to Chat With Someone!

I have been home all day keeping an eye on the horses. They broke out again last night. From their carefully placed fertilizer piles I estimate that they were out anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. Since our grass has turned green I have been restricting their intake of the high-carb sweet grass and had recently gone from a scant three hours a day to just over an hour.  (Good reason to break out, say the boys!) Pippin foundered before I bought him, so I am extra vigilant with him when spring arrives. (For my non-horsey friends, founder - technically called laminitis - is an inflammation of the layers of the hoof. It is very painful and in severe cases can require euthanizing the horse. For reasons that are unclear, overindulgence in high carb foods is just one of the causes of laminitis.) The horses had gobbled enough grass that they weren't even hungry until after noon - unheard of! Anyway, I've been checking for heat in their feet and for a radial pulse - darn near impossible to feel anything in their thick furry fat fetlocks! They've had some Bute, just in case their little tootsies are experiencing any beginning signs of inflammation, and I've hosed their feet a few times for the same reason. They are acting perfectly normal, now, and are looking for dinner. I'll watch them over the next few days just to be sure.

 D'ya think if I water him, he'll grow bigger?

The impatient patient tries out a new way 
to wear his halter...
just for something to do!
I believe he is saying,
"I'd rather be eating grass!"

So, like a mom who is stuck with the kids all day, it would be fun to 'get out' and chat with some other folks. The horses aren't the best conversationalists!

So, Patrice has invited all of us to Chats on the Farmhouse Porch at her blog, Everyday Rurality. She asks:

1. What was the last big gathering you attended? (wedding, funeral, party, etc)
I went to see "The Hunger Games" on Saturday with 6 other friends from a book club. That group wasn't very large... but the theater was almost full - does that count? Other than that, I would have to say a Christmas party that I went to for the volunteers from the therapeutic riding program.

2. Do you switch over your seasonal wardrobe, wear the same things year round, have a huge closet to put it all in, or throw everything out and buy new each season (Patrice only put that in to see if people are paying attention!)
Most of the clothes I own are in the closet (yes, my closet is large... but not huge!) Colorado weather is so changeable that I often will wear some summer clothes - at least short sleeve shirts - year round. And, during the summer, we might have chilly weather and need sweaters or jackets. The thing that I find secretly amusing, and somewhat demeaning, is that when the season changes it takes me a while to remember what I have and what goes with what.

3. What sweetener do you use most often?
I drink diet cokes sweetened with Aspartane. I used to use no-calorie sweeteners with my coffee, but my dentist felt that was contributing to tooth decay problems - so I do use raw sugar in my coffee.

4. Slippers, socks, or barefoot?
Absolutely NO slippers. I don't like 'hot' feet and cold ankles! In the winter... socks. When it is warm....barefoot.

5. Patrice wants to know what questions we'd like her to ask the group....
- What is your favorite meal .... and if possible, include a recipe or a link to the recipe!
- What makes the perfect day?

You can join the chat, too. You can respond to my answers or the questions in the comment area, or you can link your blog and answers to Patrice's blog by clicking on the image below.



Monday, April 16, 2012

Under the Influence

This is my cat.



This is my cat on drugs.


Don't do catnip!

This is a public service announcement
brought to you by the PDFG. 
(Partnership for a Drug-Free Garden)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Doc Does Dance*

OK, Doc, let's begin with some warm-ups at the barre.


Stretch your leg.
Keep it straight.
No bending at the knee....
Point your toe...


That's good, but try to bring your head 

D
O
W
N

 to your toe.



Yes! That's it!
Excellent!

Now let's try elev├ęs:

Bring your knee to the side...


You are doing so well, Doc.
Perfect toe point!

Let's move on to efface derriere.
It looks like this:

Excellent!
Straighten your leg a bit more....
Don't forget to point that toe!


Perfect!

With just a little more work
you may be ready to audition for 
the Joffrey Ballet.


*A visit from the Veterinary Chiropractor; Post #1

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Knock the Stuffing Out


...get the sh** kicked out of you
...knock the starch out of
...beat the living daylights out of
...get beat to a pulp
...kick the hell out of
...knock the socks off
...beat the tar out of

Gosh, there are a lot of ways to say the same thing!

Tucker tussled with Pippin. 
Pippin, being larger, 
but not necessarily bolder, 
got the upper hand - 
or should I say hoof?


Tucker is fine, but he was put in his place for a few hours. He stayed far away from the horses... well, until the next morning, when he was back at it, trying to 'move' the horses! After he was kicked, or bitten... I'm not exactly sure what happened,  he skulked around, like a dog who.... had the stuffing knocked out of him! Here he's looking at Pippin, from a safe vantage point behind the fence. Hmmm.... I wonder what he is saying?!

The first picture is Phineus. That's Tucker's favorite stuffed - er, perhaps I should say 'destuffed' animal. Phineus had the stuffing knocked out of him, too! Phineus was a present given to Tucker when he was 8 weeks old - Tucker just turned two. Tucker still plays with the tatters!


Why?

This week for the Saturday Centus challenge, we are to ask a question of someone and include the words, "why oh why oh why". I went with the first thing that came into my head. A question that plagues me. 



Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
I wonder God, just why oh why
Oh why do you let children die?
My friend lost her nephew when he was ten,
Bill lost Hanna and Mark lost Jen.
Josh went through chemo that took his hair.
He would laugh as he stuck Nerf darts up there.
These dear little children take it all in stride
While we suffer beside them keeping our grief inside.
If you know of a child who is sick in bed
Grant them good health. Can't you take me instead?




Click on the image to read other Centus challenge responses.http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com/2012/04/saturday-centus-why.html

Friday, April 13, 2012