Monday, February 28, 2011

In Love - Heck, Yeah!

I have been so busy with the project house that the boys have had little saddle time. But....when I have ridden them they have been so incredibly wonderful. It makes my heart sing!! I think part a lot of my success is a due to a series of lessons I've taken with some other ladies. We have been practicing foundational work at a facility that trains for Versatility Ranch Horse competition. Yeah, laugh. I do! Can't you see Doc trying to cut a cow? Doc would shuffle to the left about 3 minutes after the cow had left the area! Pippin would take one look at the cow and you'd see me in the next county....still moving as fast as Pippin's little legs could carry him! Pippin knows that cows eat horses, and hefty, hay-fed haffies are their favorite!

Our work has focused on getting and keeping our horse's attention. Our instructor reminds us that we are the ones to tell the horses when and where to move, and how fast. Yup, I've heard it before, but some things I have to hear...over and over and over! (Especially as I get older...what, exactly, happens to our brains?!) And sometimes, I need to 'see' the theoretical in a practical application. For example, at the beginning of one class I was asking Pippin to stand so I could listen to the instructor. He wasn't interested in standing. The instructor turned to me (and I was prepared for her to snarl something about making my horse stand still) and said, "It's OK if he doesn't stand, but you have to make it your choice, not his. Go ahead and make him walk in circles. Make him back. Make him move. Faster. You can still listen to what I am saying."

We have been working on having our horses yield to our legs. You know, turns on the forehand, turns on the haunches, side pass, etc. Nothing new. I've been doing those since Pony Club days. But, for the first time in my life I have had an instructor who has focused more on my seat bones and weight distribution than on my legs. (OMG - that poor instructor has had to stare at my ample a....!)

It's taken a lot of unlearning and relearning. I've picked up some bad habits over the years and our instructor has an eagle eye - she'll catch me in a skinny minute! I found out that I 'break' my wrists and my weight needs to be rolled back. I need to 'suck my belly button into my backbone.' She is a saint. She reminds me, frequently, about my posture!

So, Pippin has been performing the required moves. He has been walking calmly, with his head down. He has been trotting - peacefully! He no longer scoots forward. He doesn't break into a fast-paced, short stepped, panic-induced trot. He has even begun to bring his head down, and we are working on breaking at the poll. He is much quieter with the bit. A lot of what I've been getting from Pippin, I realize, is due to his lovely shade of 'very green'. The lessons have given both of us some gains in confidence. I think this is another critical piece of the puzzle. I was unsure of him, and certainly he was unsure of me and the whole saddle, person-on-the-back thing.

I apologize for the terrible quality of this photo. When I pulled the camera out of my pocket the setting changed, so this is out of focus. But, through the blur you can see me petting Pippin, telling him what a great guy he is. I probably had just gotten an enthusiastic, "Heck, yeah" from the instructor. Followed by an admonishment reminder to "tell that pony what a good guy he has been!" (The left rein is looser as I am petting his neck.) I had just asked him to 'whoa' by subtly settling my weight into my stirrups and creating a 'wall' with my hands. Look at his feet, such a beautiful square stance! Look at his tail - it isn't clenched, he is relaxed! Look at his head set. OMG - he looks like a little Dala horse from Sweden! 

Don't you agree?
Inger, at Desert Canyon Living recently described these Swedish icons. I have always loved these cheerfully painted horses. Although I knew they came from Sweden, I didn't know they were named 'Dala' horses after Dalarna region in which they originated.

I have seen improvement with Doc as well, even though he hasn't gone to endured as many lessons. Doc is trotting... in round circles! That's a huge breakthrough! He will still, sometimes, try to plow the arena with his nose, but more often he has his head at an appropriate level.

So, I am falling in love, all over again! (Think Joni Mitchell music...'Help me, I think I'm falling in love again...')

The Project - Week 6: Mother May I?

Do you remember playing the childhood game, "Mother May I?"  In this game one child was the "Mother" and would call on the other children, who were standing in a line some distance a way, one by one. The selected child would ask, "Mother, may I take 3 giant steps?" (or some other request for moving toward Mother) and the mother would decide whether or not the child could make those moves, or she could assign other steps. This week I asked "Mother" if we could take a giant step forward on the project. Mother responded, "No, but you may take one teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy step forward." Since I remembered to inquire, "Mother, may I?" I was allowed to move forward!

This week we:
  • Installed sound board insulation around pipes in the living room ceiling - a total waste of time as far as I'm concerned!
  • Looked at tile for the hall and the master bath. 
  • Painted Intended to paint the upper half of the dining room walls - I was only able to cut in along the wainscoting and paint part way up the corners - other more pressing projects took me away from this task....maybe next week!
  • Got a final estimate for sheet rock work.
  • Looked at tile for the hall and the master bath.  
  • Put cement backer board down in the half bath and installed tile. 
  • Looked at tile for the hall and the master bath.  
  • Painted the half bath.
  • Put some nails and wire on roosting areas of the run-in portion of the barn to try to deter the pigeons (earlier this week hubby surprised a Harrier falcon having his lunch).
  • Had a fantastic ride on Pippin! 

Here is the half bath after a coat of paint and the installation of tile on the floor. We still need to grout, get baseboard (for every room in the downstairs and basement), paint the trim and reinstall the fixtures. 

      Sunday, February 27, 2011

      Welcome Friends

      One of my blog friends posted about why she writes her blog. From the comments she received it seems that most bloggers feel that they are writing for themselves. They say their blog gives them a chance to organize their thoughts and 'publish' them. But, if we write for 'ourselves' then why are we spending the time to put it all out there? Wouldn't a spiral notebook work just as well?! Personally, it's more complicated than that. Yes, I write what I want to write and when I want to write it. I enjoy playing with words. I kick myself when I post something and then realize I could have made it better by doing X, Y or Z. Mr. Lasser's words still echo in my mind - he is a constant critic, I always feel him looking at the screen over my shoulder (how rude) and he has probably never read one single post! He was my high school English teacher....a long time ago! But, I digress. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I write for you, my followers. But, followers are important  part of the equation. It is nice to get to know you as a group of friends, critics, supporters, etc. So, thank you for following. Thank you for taking some time to consider and comment on what I may have said. Welcome to my blog. I am so glad to have met you through the blogosphere.

      Image from Canadian Independent School District
       Recent followers of my blog include:
      •  Niecey from Brawner's in Bend. I welcomed her, sort of, last week, but had the wrong name. (Or...did she change her name?!) Niecey is evolving into a country girl. Hooray for country girls!
      • Heritage Farm Village has become a follower. How wonderful to have an entire village following my blog! ;-)
      • Jane from Me 'n my Monkeys, all the way from Australia. How cool that we can connect so easily using the marvelous, magical, magnificent Internet!
      • Farmers Wifey. What I love about FW is that even though she, too, is on the other side of the world, we have so much in common: she's building a new house, which she refers to as the 'Money Pit' (I can identify with that!), she is fighting the dreaded enemy, The Blogger Butt, and she is a miscarriage survivor.
      • Cat is another country girl, and just the title of her blog invites readers to see what is going on in her life. She is at Crap on my shoes, egg in my pocket (and yarn on the needles).
      • Lori writes several blogs (I can hardly keep up with one) and one can be found at The Skoog Farm Journal. Like me, Lori is a retired teacher. She has horses and she lives close to where I grew up in western New York.
      • Leontien writes two blogs.  Her blogs include Four Leaf Clover Tales and Little Miss Bookwurm. She must be a kindred soul as she enjoys country living and books. A great combination! 
      • Another follower from Farm Friend Friday who I'd like to welcome is "Go West" Feral Woman, with a blog of that title. I think there is a bit of 'feral' woman in all of us! FW takes some awesome photographs.
      • Gail also has two blogs. How do these folks manage more than one?! She writes Familiar Spirits and At the Farm. I think Gail, like me, loves alliteration. She describes her blog as: "tale of tails, tedium, tenacity and how I react to each day, each duty, and each danger." Love it! 
      • Kim writes about Life in a Little Red Farmhouse. Her family recently designed and had the house built to look like an old farmhouse. It even has 'add ons', as if they expanded the house over the years. 
      • Heidi writes Vansteaders - as in homesteading and traveling in a van. She and her husband do both. They write about their adventures on the farm and on the road at the Vansteaders blog as well as at  Vantramps.
      • Pattie has also begun to follow my site, but I don't have a blog address for her. She loves rescuing animals...all kinds. Not only does she rehab animals, but she rehabs junk and loves working with architectural salvage.

      Saturday, February 26, 2011

      Battle of the Blogger Butts: Tight Pants

      Hooray! A victorious week in my continued battle against that nasty enemy, the BloggerButt!
      But, I forgot how, veeerrrryyy, slloooooowly, weeiiigghhhttt coommmmeeesss offfff! The needle on the scale is moving in the right direction, but it seems it only moves a smidgen at a time. That's where the blogs help - all of you who are also struggling with this are great incentives! Thanks for your support!

      I had to return a Christmas gift (yeah, I kinda took some time with that one) at a not so local (that's why it took so long) tack shop. They had their winter breeches on sale. I have not ridden in anything but jeans and chaps for years. But, the breeches look warm. The breeches looked like my knees would not get chaffed. The breeches looked like they were the wrong size - they all looked tight and small!!! The breeches looked like they would show every lump, every roll and every jiggle!

      I tried on a pair of XL pants... because they were really nice fabric and that was the only size they had of that kind. Sadly, or maybe not so sadly, I do not have an XL body!! They didn't have any Medium pants, so I tried on a pair of small, boot cut breeches by Kerrits.  I could get them on. I could move in them. I do hope to get smaller. So, why not?! An added benefit is that the stretchy material firmly holds the Blogger Butt and perhaps makes me look a little smaller in that area! Oh, and might I add, I rode in them today and they were sinfully comfortable!

      Click here to link to others engaged in the Battle of the BloggerButt. 

      And, from Wednesday Words of Weightloss:

      1.Have you tried various diets or programs? What works best for you?
      2. Have you ever dieted or exercised with a buddy?
      3. What's your favorite type of salad?
      4. What's the first place  you start to notice that you're losing weight? (ie. tummy, arms)
      5. What's one thing you can do to pamper  yourself this week?
      1. I have tried all kinds of diets. I've tried the tomato juice diet - not so great, ended up having to go to the Doctor. I have tried the 'eat lots of yogurt' diet. I have tried drinking tons of tea. I have tried high protein, no protein, low carbs and Slimfast slow. I am a double lifetime member of Weight Watchers. Currently I am back on WW and it is working. I just have to stick to it.

      2. Yes...sort of. I used to walk with friends every morning. I've tried dieting with friends, too. But, it really comes down to my making a decision that I must exercise and eat right. Sometimes I think trying to lose weight with a friend backfires and they become saboteurs.

      3. I go on salad swings. Sometimes I love them and at other times I detest them. I generally like a leafy green salad with some fruit, nuts, cheese and maybe some granola. I dip my fork into my dressing and then collect a bit of salad. I like creamy dressings - but have gotten where I can use some of the salad sprays. I love the oriental salad at Applebee's. Sadly I love macaroni salads and potato salads....but I don't think that was quite what you had in mind!

      4. I lose weight top down. I first feel the difference in the way my bra fits. My hips are the last place I lose my weight.

      5. I think I already pampered myself  buying the breeches! They will be a great reminder to stay on track over the next few weeks.

      Thursday, February 24, 2011

      Farm Friend Friday: My Farming Foundations - or - It's In the 'Jeans'!

      My grandmother must have been quite the wild child! She was raised in the northeast in a stately home with housekeepers and  nannies and the expectation that children are seen, but not heard. I can believe that she was expected to sit quietly, in a ladylike fashion and practice her needlework. I can also imagine that she railed against all of that!

      This is a picture of my grandmother. She is probably in her late teens. The horse she is riding was not inclined to stand still as I have several photos and the horse has changed position in each one.

      My grandmother married into a "proper" sort of family,  had three children and then divorced. After a second marriage to a sailor who seemed to have sailed away and never returned, she fell in love with a ranch hand on a ranch near Pike's Peak, as I recall, and married him. I am not exactly clear about how she came to be living on a ranch in Colorado, however! Following the marriage they purchased a small ranch in Sedona, AZ, before Sedona became the tourist mecca and "crystal capital" of the west.

      This is the south pasture of the ranch. My grandmother, on the left with the gray horse (Kabir, an Arabian and one of her favorite horses) and my grandfather on the right, are dwarfed by one of the most photographed rock formations in Sedona; Cathedral Rock. This is actually a postcard that was sold in town in the late 50's.

      On their small ranch my grandparents raised a few cattle. They had a few sheep. They grew a few peaches. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a month with my grandparents each summer. I loved it! I followed my grandfather around the ranch as he cleaned irrigation ditches and changed the flow of water. I would collect the milk cows from the pasture each morning and I helped with the milking. My grandfather had a large Holstein and a sweet Jersey that he used for milk and to suckle calves he purchased to improve his small herd. My grandmother and I would walk through the field to go swimming in the freezing cold water of the swimming hole. We would pet the cows, and even the Black Angus bull named Baron. I picked peaches and helped package them in purple tissue, nestling each peach in its own cup in the packing crates.
      Each year during lambing season twins were brought into the house. My grandmother turned her kitchen over to the lambs and bottle fed them. As I was an eastern school girl at the time, I never got to visit during lambing, but on my summer visits I loved going out into the fields and having the bottle fed sheep come up for some loving.

      My grandmother feeding one of the lambs in 1966. 

      My grandfather introduces a lamb to Jotso. My grandmother found Jotso wandering along the road of the Indian reservation. Having a kind heart she collected him and brought him home. Jotso lived at the ranch for only a short time as evidently he had some Coyote in him. His howls drew Coyotes to the ranch - which did not endear him to my grandfather. I actually think Jotso may have been thinking about leg of lamb in this picture!

      My grandparents have passed away but their legacy lives on. I have been able to visit the ranch and revisit this important part of my youth. The ranch is now the Crescent Moon Ranch State Park, part of Red Rock State Park. I feel some melancholy as I walk the paths and become aware of the void; I feel the absence of my grandparents. But I celebrate in the beauty and the magic of this place that is now made available to others. Maybe they, too, can feel the energy of my grandparents and find that their lives are enriched for having visited this wondrous area.

      Wednesday, February 23, 2011

      A Great Ride

      The day was sunny and cool and I could feel the intensity of my horse's energy; contained and ready to spring loose. The first fence of the course was the hardest, not because it was imposing, as it was a simple 2' 6" rail set in a fence line, but there was brush on either side of the fence and a copse of trees right after it. There was no path visible from this side of the fence. I needed to approach the fence at an angle so that I could make the sharp right turn within a stride of landing. If the angle was too sharp we'd crash into the brush and the trees, but too flat and my horse might run out. We approached in a collected canter. I held all of that energy in check. Since he couldn't go forward, he rose up and down, like a carousel horse, with his front legs lifting high. We made it over the fence, vaulting more than a foot above the top rail. We just made the turn. I gave him his head and we were off. He needed to get that run in or there would be no controlling him. The trail through the trees opened into a small field surrounded by hardwoods. We ran along the tree line and ducked back into the woods. The next obstacle was tricky. The course designers had dug away a hillside creating a long, steep slide. I had to check my horse, get him collected for a sharp right turn, and get his haunches under him in order to negotiate the steep hill. Half way down the cut my horse spotted the next obstacle, a pile of logs. I felt his haunches bunch as he prepared to leap. "No!" I screamed as I put more pressure on the reins, "you are way too early!" He flung himself head first into space a good five meters away from the fence and from a point that was easily over 2 meters in height above the fence. I grabbed the mane, preparing to brace for a rough landing. We were flying. It was one of those  moments where action reverts to slow motion. The trees seemed to go by so slowly I could count them. I could see the dappled light play along his ears, his mane, my arms and his shoulders. I had time to worry about the landing. What effects would the extra momentum have? Was the footing stable enough? Could I stay in the saddle, or would I be pitched forward?  The jolt of the landing was more than I had anticipated. I awoke with a start. My hands were gripping the crumpled sheets, which I had wrestled from the bottom of the bed. I lay still, willing my heart to slow down. I took a few deep breaths and rolled on my side. I smiled. That was just the beginning of one heck of a great ride!

      Although the picture has faded and become blurred with time,
      this cross country ride on my horse, Apple, still comes to mind in sharp details.

      Monday, February 21, 2011

      I'm Dreaming of a White Mane - with Pippin's Rebuttal

      Yuck! I think I'm going to have to take the boys to a car wash to get them clean! Our weather has been so cold I haven't been able to wash them, and their manes and tails are getting more and more disgusting. The stable across the street from our new house has a heated wash stall. I suppose they might notice if a strange Haflinger or two came by for a spa visit!

      Just look at this mess....shudder!

      Here is a shot from summer...before I gave Pippin a bath. 
      And I thought he was filthy then!

      Here is the 'After' shot, before he was totally dry.
      He glows!

      Our time in the sun will come. I will just have to be patient. 
      I bet the boys couldn't care two licks about whether their manes or tails are clean.
      All they care about is their next meal...and please, have it there on time!

      Pippin's ReBUTTal

      Hey, there, lady. That's me you're talking about. And, you are right. I don't give a fly's buzz about the color of my mane. In fact, if you were a bit more perceptive (mighty big word for a Haffie, huh?) you'd notice that in the 'clean' picture I'm hanging my head in shame! Oh, the humiliation! First you wash me and then you have the nerve to post it on the blog where EVERYONE can see.
      And yeah, I do love my food, but I have to keep this marvelous hunk of horse body in top form, right? You do agree with me...right? Got it? I will keep staring at you until you acknowledge that I am correct!!!

      Sunday, February 20, 2011

      The Project - Week 5: End of Deconstruction, Time for Reconstruction

      I think we have finally finished tearing out things and are ready to rebuild, replace and repaint. Sounds like progress to me! This week we:
      • Removed tile from the shower - I gave up trying to peel each tile off and just cut the sheet rock and muscled it off in chunks. Hard work - but perhaps a bit faster than going tile by tile.
      • Removed the mirror. I would like to believe that if you break a mirror purposefully you will not have 7 years of bad luck! 
      • Removed the bath fixtures so we could lift the soaking tub out of the tub surround and remove the last pieces of tile - woo hoo! I sure did a happy dance when I knocked the last one off!
      • Broke up the bathroom cabinets and trundled them to the dumpster
      • Reconstructed the knee wall in the kitchen. The existing one was a tad bit short.
      • Had the house measured for carpet. Now we have to decide whether to carpet just the master bedroom or whether to add both upstairs rooms and/or the basement.
      • Finally had two quotes for sheet rock work. The quotes came in less than we had budgeted - hooray!
      • Began sanding trim in the dining room. Patched nail holes and dings, and painted the ceiling
      • Hauled in 35 boxes of wood flooring - those suckers are heavy! (We still have some more in the truck - we ran out of oomph!)
      • Purchased faucets for the bathroom sinks and the tub. 
      • Bought the kitchen sink!
      This week we didn't:
      • Ride either one of the boys - picture a very sad face here!!
      But, they did enjoy visiting our neighbor's pasture:

      And they're off ...

        Food for Thought

        I bought the first gallons of paint for the new house yesterday. I noticed something in picking out the paint colors... many are named after food. Not fair when I'm on a diet. I can't seem to escape temptation.  I'm probably the first to have to track my painting progress on my WW tracker:

         Toasted Coconut - 1/2 Gallon in bathroom
        Cinnamon Rose - 1 Gallon in master bedroom
        Vanilla Latte - 3 Gallons for ceilings
        Plum Parfait - 1/2 Gallon for guest bath
        Rum Raisin - 4 Gallons for house trim

        Why does everything have to remind me of food?!!

        Saturday, February 19, 2011

        Blogger Butt and Dreaming Battle to a 2-2 Tie

        Before reporting on this week's action in the weight loss war, I'd like to welcome three new followers to my blog. All three seem to have come via Farm Friend Friday. Jenise writes about her evolution into a farm girl at Brawner's in Bend. Patrice and QuarterHaflinger have begun to follow my blog as well. Thanks for following. It is nice to know (sometimes) that I do have an audience for the silly and serious things I write.

        This week was a draw as far as the scale is concerned. However, I consider it another victory for Dreaming - considering some of the, ahem, less than low calorie stuff I consumed:
        How about a meatball sandwich AND a beer (and not the lite stuff) for lunch? I bet the huge piece of sausage pizza, dripping in oil, is not on the diet list either. Nor the half box of Girl Scout cookies. Bad...bad...bad! But, the scale held steady, so I am happy and invigorated to start fresh for another week.

        A few days ago I came across another dieting link up. This one is hosted by Patrice and she calls it Wednesday Words of Weightloss.
        Patrice poses the following questions, suggesting you share answers on your blog. My answers are below.

        1. Do you eat when stressed or bored?
        2. What's your favorite sport or physical activity to participate in?
        3. What's your favorite fruit?
        4. I have "fat jean" and "skinny jeans" in my closet. Does anyone else have these?
        5. What can you do this week to be nice to yourself?

        1. I eat when I'm tired - or when I've had an extra glass of wine (that's when the Girl Scout cookies became targets!). I think I have trouble distinguishing between tired and bored sometimes - so bordom could be a trigger as well.
        2. I enjoy horseback riding, walking, biking and skiing. I am not a runner nor a swimmer. In fact, if I try to swim laps I quickly feel like I am going to drown - not a great feeling!
        3. I love pears that are at just the right point of ripeness. I love them when they are slurpy and soft...but there is a fine line between that and rotten!
        4. You bet! My skinny jeans are on the bottom of the pile. I was drop-kicked into losing weight when my fat jeans became too tight.
        5. I can stay away from the project house and realize it is OK to let it go one day!

        I hope you all have a good week!

        Click here to link to others engaged in the Battle of the BloggerButt. 

        Or, visit Jenise on Wednesday at:

        Wednesday, February 16, 2011

        Doc in the Box

        Mrs. Owner says get in the box.
        No, no, no, I won't, says Doc.
        Doc will not go in the box
        He put his brakes on, they are locked.

        Then, says Mrs. Owner, go round and round.
        Move your feet Doc, cover some ground.

        I won't, I will not, go in the box.
        I refuse. I won't go in, says Doc.
        I will lean back, pull back on my hocks
        I will not, I won't, go in the box.

        Then, says Mrs. Owner, you'll go around some more.
        Round and round, and then in the door.

        OK. OK. I'll step up high.
        I'll get in the box. I'll give it a try.
        Mrs. Owner says I am a great guy.
        OK, can we go home now, I sigh.

        Tuesday, February 15, 2011

        The Project - Week 4: In the Doldrums

        I can't believe we finished Week 4 of the project. I feel like so little has been accomplished. How frustrating! But, then again, we weren't able to devote as much time to the project as we would have liked. Life got in the way. I played chauffeur for my dad and then, I actually went horseback riding AND attended a function as a therapeutic riding volunteer. Well, as they say, 'All work and no play....'!

        This is how I feel about this week. 

        Picture by Mr.Gue

        So, what did we accomplish?
        • ordered our wood flooring. The folks at Lumber Liquidators just about keeled over when we FINALLY made a decision. We have been going back and forth for weeks. Dark wood vs light wood; oak vs hickory; 3" vs 5"; hand scraped vs traditional! You'll have to wait for the "reveal" to see what we settled on!
        • looked at tile - think we may have found what we want for the entry foyer - but have a long way to go. We still need:
          • tile for the half bath floor
          • tile for the master bath floor
          • tile for the shower and tub surround
          • tile for the master bath back splash - by sinks and by the tub (unless we match the tile for the shower there as well).
          • tile for the kitchen back splash
          • maybe tile for the back spash in the powder room. We have a pedestal sink in there, but I'm thinking we may want something to protect the walls - any thoughts from folks who have pedestal sinks?
        • ripped up the floor tile and concrete board in the master bath, except in the WC - yes, we actually have a potty room!  It's rather small and I find it awkward to try to shut the door - and after all, it's only my hubby and me so, who cares?! (And, after last week, we finally have water and can use the potty! Ever so  much better than squatting in the run-in area of the barn!)
        • received tried to get bids on sheet rock work on the main floor - we only got one guy to come out and haven't received his estimate. Argghhhh!
        • ordered our dishwasher. Finally there was a good sale on dishwashers. I really didn't care about what I had as long as A) it works and B) it has a delayed start. It will be delivered on Thursday, and can join the cluster of appliances sitting in the middle of the master bedroom.
        • tore out the knee wall in the kitchen and began to replace it with one that was the correct size.
        • moved some electrical wires and removed some can lights. The cans are going to be replaced with some track lighting, maybe with some hanging pendant lights.
        • hauled about 10 wheelbarrow loads of tile down the stairs and out to the dumpster. You know what I learned? Tile is a lot heavier than horse poop!
        I'm looking forward to moving forward this week. Hopefully I will be able to report great progress!

        Monday, February 14, 2011

        A Valentine for my Blog Friends

         Happy Valentine's Day to All of My Blog Friends! 

        Haffie butts are the cutest...and they are somewhat heart shaped!

        I love blogging. I love meeting people from all over the world without having to make travel arrangements or even pack a suitcase. It is so much fun to visit their homes, see their treasures, learn about their families and get to know them. Thanks for letting me see your world. My life has been enriched by knowing you in this way.

        I'd also like to welcome some of my newest followers and friends!
        • Kelsie, writer of Our Country Home. Kelsie posts beautiful pictures and she is a gardener, like me!
        • Kritter Keeper writes Farm Tails. She loves animals - all sorts. KK has beautiful photos of deer who she has befriended...and they even know their names. I love her Golden Retriever!
        • One of my new friends lives in Australia and she is very creative - I want to visit Australia some day. It has been one of those haunting dreams. She writes at The Clip Cafe and sells items on her site at Madeit
        • Amy at Verde Farm started Farm Friend Friday. Amy used Linky Tools to connect bloggers with an interest in farming. It is great fun to jump from blog to blog and read about everyone's animals.
        • Louise at Living Retired in Western New York State. I love this blog for many reasons. First, Louise and I are both retired. Second, she posts pictures looking out into her yard - so I can always see what the weather is like in her neck of the woods. And finally, I used to live in the vicinity, so I feel a connection from that.
        • Caz is a follower. But, I can't seem to link back to Caz or her blog, so I can't tell you much about her at this time.

        Thank you all for following my blog. I appreciate your comments. I really enjoy being connected to folks 'out there'!

        Hay, Doc, will you be my Valentine?

        Do I have to do anything special to
        be a Valentine?

        Well, people often give chocolates in 
        heart shaped boxes to their Valentines.

        Food again? Eh? I shoulda figured
        there would be a connection!

        Happy Valentine's Day from Pippin and Doc! 

          Saturday, February 12, 2011

          Sunday Stills: Spring Preview

          We had some warm weather and sunshine today. A welcome break from winter. But even so, things are a bit dull - with very little color.  The Sunday Stills Challenge was to dig into our archives for some color from previous springs and summers to warm us up a bit. I feel better already! How about you?!

          Could spring be this close?

          Here are some shots from our trip to France in May, 2010. 
          I wouldn't mind being behind the camera for any of these shots at this very moment!

          Nothing Tastes as Good as Being Thin Feels

          I keep repeating my title statement (envision Dorothy with the red shoes...that's me with this statement!) and I receive some extra resolve, but some times it just doesn't work. This was a tough week. The BloggerButt fought hard and dirty. Due to the hideous weather at the start of the week the BloggerButt and I were forced to fight at close quarters. With temperatures in the single digits, at best, and snow falling now and again, I found myself holing up inside. The roads were so bad that we cut our work short on two days and didn't go to the new house (my exercise project)  for three. Uh oh! That means I'm near the computer...and sedentary habits of visiting Blogs..AND I'm near the cupboard and the fridge with all of those goodies hidden inside!
          But, the tally for this week's skirmishes puts me ahead of the BloggerButt, again!

          I was

          V * I * C * T * O * R * I * O * U * S

          So, this week I will again continue to use the Weight Watchers tracking tools. That really seems to make a difference. I usually end up going over my daily point allotment, but they have built in extra weekly points and I usually manage to stay within them. I hope to get out riding some more and of course, I have more tile to knock off the walls and soon painting will begin. That will provide exercise AND keep my hands full so I can't snack!
          Good luck to all of my BloggerButt friends out there. Together, we can do this!!


          Thursday, February 10, 2011

          Farm Friend Friday: Foul Fowl

          Last week I wrote about my first introduction to fowl, when I bought a baby turkey and then a baby duck for my husband's Easter basket. Here's the rest of the story....

          My in-laws happened to be visiting us over the Easter holidays the year we acquired the fowl. In fact, it was my father-in-law, Cliff, who was most distressed by the turkling's (Yeah, I know they are called poults, but don't you think 'turkling' is a cuter name?) plaintive cries and he was actually the one who insisted on heading into town with my hubby to see about the duckling. After they returned home with the duckling we had two happy birds. They recognized each others distress and immediately cuddled together in a cardboard box under the clip-on lamp we provided for warmth. Cliff and my hubby got to work making a suitable cage for them while my mother-in-law and I prepared a late dinner. The cage they made was beautifully constructed but, we were quick to learn, totally inappropriate. It was about a foot wide and maybe two feet long, and a bit over a foot in height. What we didn't realize at the time was just how quickly fowl grow. Within short order the cage was far too confining for our unusual duo.

          Here is a picture of that old softy Cliff  with the duckling he brought home to ease the turkey's distress. (Apologies about the poor quality - the picture wasn't all that great to begin with and the scanner has indeed died. So I had to resort to a picture of a picture!)

          OMG, here is a picture of me with both the turkey and the duckling...a few weeks after their arrival. Do you see them both? Young birds like to stick their head under things and go to sleep - just as they would have snuggled under their parent's wing. The turkey is on my shoulder trying to get his head under my hair and the duck has snuggled under my hand in my lap.(Ewww, look at that track suit!)

          We learned a few things about fowl in those first few weeks, in addition to just how quickly they grow. We learned that mash, especially when wet, smells awful. We learned that ducks will try to swim in any amount of water and they will get water everywhere. Therefore, with a duck around the mash is always going to be wet.  We also learned that turkeys do not particularly care to be wet! So, to keep the birds happy and healthy and to keep our house from smelling like a poultry yard, we built a pen...outside - as it should have been from the outset!

          The birds were best buddies from the beginning. Where one would go, the other would follow. It was usually the duck that was the more curious and he would waddle around our yard with the turkey stalking behind.We had a little fish pond and you can see below that the duck enjoyed paddling and dabbling in the water. The plant by the duck's tail was set on a pile of bricks in the water. The turkey would want to be with the duck, and not wanting to get his feet wet, would flap his wings, which grew longer each week, and hop onto the plant. The plant would topple into the water with the turkey, who would then make a mad scramble for terra firma. Yeah, turkeys aren't that bright, the old guy was right, but... the turkey didn't drown in the rain, nor in the pond!

          We made a curious parade through our yard when we were all outside. One of us would be in the lead with one or more dogs following us. The duck would waddle after the dogs and the turkey would bring up the rear. Our dogs, two Golden Retrievers, were barely tolerant of the fowl. As seen below, the duck liked to groom the dog. This is Brew, who seems to be saying, 'Mom, do I have to put up with this?' in the second photo.

          The fowl grew and grew and grew! The turkey was a tom and soon strutted around the yard fanning his tail. He was fascinated by the dogs. He would strut up to them and stare at their eyes, snaking his head side to side. I was always worried that he'd peck at them, as he loved shiny things, but he refrained. What he did do, though, which paralyzed our female Golden, was to flap his wings and hop on her back. He also like to hop up on my head, at least if I was sitting down. Somewhere I have a picture of that, but sadly fortunately can't put my hands on it.
          Once the duck and the turkey were full grown we realized that we really couldn't keep them any longer. We lived in a residential area with rules against such things. We had large yards and our neighbors were tolerant, but eventually someone would make a comment to someone else and eventually the high mucky-muck of the HOA would come knocking on our door with some sort of edict in his hands. We began looking for suitable homes for our friendly fowl. 
          The duck moved to the stable where I boarded my horse. The owner had other ducks, who it turned out, did not particularly care for my duck! They chased him away from the pond, so he took shelter in the barn. It turns out he was a lucky duck as one night the other ducks met with a disastrous end by the fangs of some local, unruly dogs. My duck had the run of the place. He was much loved by the boarders and the only complaint the owner had was that she could never stop the duck from joining parties on the patio when she had visitors. He wasn't 'patio broken' and would leave goopy piles around as he waddled from visitor to visitor.
          Our turkey went to live with a family who had a small farm with some hen turkeys and other poultry. He was very much loved by everyone! I often rode by his yard and loved seeing him strutting around with his tail feathers fanned out. He was a beautiful turkey and happily lived out his life with his women.
          You'd think that we would have learned that raising fowl in our residential neighborhood wasn't practical, but a few years later....

          Tuesday, February 8, 2011

          Memories - 'The Way I Am'

          Are you like me? Are you experiencing certain memory lapses that seem to be a universal issue for my generation, the aging baby boomers? (Some of you, dear Blog friends, are far too young to identify with the following - but, this is what you can look forward to - I bet you can't wait!)
          Some friends sent me the following video clips this week. I really enjoyed them - because I could (sadly) identify with so many experiences described in the songs. Now I'm thinking that maybe the folks who sent the videos really shouldn't be considered my friends, but that's all right because I can't remember who sent them, anyway!
          As I thought about the video clips, and laughed at my frailties, I kept hearing Barbara Streisand singing,  "Memories, da dah da da da da daaahh....", but I seem to have forgotten the lyrics... so, I created my own:

          The Way I Am
          (a Baby Boomer's version of 'The Way We Were')
          Lost in corners of my mind,
          Misty, shrouded memories,
          I don't know why I'm here.

          Are so fleeting  and so vague
          I remember things from years ago
          But not from yesterday.....

          Well, you know how it is. Why did I come into this room? Where did I put the mail? Why did I start this blog post? Oh, are the video clips. I hope you enjoy them!

          Monday, February 7, 2011

          The Project - Week 3: Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

           This week was not as productive as I would have liked. We got hung up getting the kitchen and bath cabinets ordered before the deadline....

          There are so many choices, and every choice has so many options...
          Do I want to store wine bottles and hang wine glasses?
          Or would I rather have a plate rack and a cute shelf?
          Do I want glass doors...or do I want to hide my junk?

          We wanted bath and kitchen cabinets. The sale was going to end.
          We had to pick cabinets...NOW!
          This is pretty...Honey, what do you think?
          Hmm, my hair is a bit of a mess.
          Did I remember to brush it this morning?

          Do I want roll-outs or drawers?
          Do I want light wood? Or dark?
          Cherry? Or Maple?
          How does one decide?

          I can't stand it any more.
          I'm going to shut my eyes,
          you spin me around and
          I'll just point to one!

          After a lot of time picking cabinets and planning and measuring and placing them in the diagram it was finally time to pay for them. Eeeek! So, we swipe the magic card and spend the plastic money that we won't be accountable for until later. We look at the receipt. The 'Buy More, Save More' discount is WRONG!
          Do you know that it takes less than 30 seconds to spend a chunk of change on cabinets and it takes over an hour, with the help of 2 clerks, 
          the kitchen design specialist, 
          the installation specialist, 
          the sales manager, 
          the IT department 
          and at least two guys at 'corporate'
          to back that sale out of the system???!!!! 

          We actually had to go back the next day to spend just under $150 to buy one more goo-gaw to bring the total up to the next price bracket to get an additional $400 in savings. I'm not sure who was happier when the sale was final and we walked out the door: my husband, the kitchen design specialist, the store manager or me!

          Other accomplishments included:

          • Continued demo in the Master Bath. It is now stripped of almost all wall tiles. We'll get to the floor next week - we hope! Oh, and yeah, we'll have to patch or replace some of the sheetrock - getting the tile off made a huge mess of the walls. The mirror is gonna come off too - probably in tons of little pieces.
          • The refrigerator, washer and dryer that we bought around Thanksgiving were delivered. They currently reside in our bedroom.
          • We tore out the knee wall in the kitchen. It turns out that the original blueprints that we used for planning the kitchen cabinet layout did not match the way the kitchen had originally been built.  No problem we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability....
          • The plumber plumbed. He moved a few shut-off valves, created a new drain for the kitchen sink, repaired a broken pipe in the shower and turned the water on. We have running water inside! We can use the bathroom...inside! Woohoo! 
          • I listed the old appliances on Craigs List and sold the range, the wall oven and the kitchen sink.
          We didn't get to the house on Sunday. The snow made driving too treacherous. Hopefully the roads will be clear this week and we will get more accomplished.

          Sunday, February 6, 2011

          Through the Windshield

          Yesterday was supposed to be sunny and clear. Oops! Goofed again Mr. Weatherman! This is the third day in a row that the road between the project house and our house has looked kinda like this. And if you look at the prediction for the coming week, there are snowflake icons on the calendar until Wednesday. Although this means I won't be riding, it does mean that the pastures, trees and gardens will get some much needed moisture. I can't complain!

           White-backed buffalo. They don't seem to mind the snow at all!

          Flocked trees

           Birds hunkering down against the wind and snow.

          We have more snow falling today. Great! I can go blog-hopping...oh......yeah, 

          I do have a bit of laundry to do......

          Oh, and yes, the mail has been piling up....

          Uh, dog hair....?


          Oh well, I guess I need to get to work!

          Saturday, February 5, 2011

          Dreaming Holds the Line

          This week was a fairly quiet one on the battle front. There were a number of skirmishes, but Dreaming prevailed over the incredibly tough and stubborn BloggerButt. The tally for this week's skirmishes:

          BloggerButts - 2
          Dreaming - 10

          Although Dreaming did not attend an official WW weigh-in she reports that some of her jeans aren't quite as snug - oh, and yes, she did try them on after washing, and was not talking about a pair that had already been worn and stretched out. The weigh-in at home showed a slight loss, which, in this battle, is a gain. Woohoo! And, by the way, her ever-friendly Wii did notice that she had not been present for 586 days! But, who's counting anyway?!
          Dreaming reports that her exercise regime was less than conventional; No sit-ups. No lunges. No leg lifts. But was probably equally effective. Dreaming explains, "I repeatedly lifted a 2-pound weight. I moved the weight around, which engaged my core muscles. I twisted, which had to do something for my abs. I repeatedly bent and reached for my toes, which certainly worked to make me more supple." And just what was Dreaming doing? Ah, taking tile off the bathroom wall! Each tile took at minimum 6 swings of a two-pound hammer. Multiply 6 swings by over 300 tiles...that's a lot of exercise! 

          Plans for next week... Dreaming will tackle the floor! 
          Dreaming is armed and ready for the battles to come. She has her WW tracker and has been trying her best to honestly and accurately report her food intake. She does explain that the BloggerButt is a mean opponent who's greatest weapon is control of the mind. Why else would her mind dwell on fattening foods that are in the cupboard and play a looping video of forbidden foods incessantly to lure her off her chosen path?
          Good luck to all in the Battle of the BloggerButts!

          What is Four?

          Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....