Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Do You "No"?

Are you a "No Reply" blogger?

Do you know what I mean by that?

If I were a betting woman, I'd have to guess that a bunch of bloggers don't know if they are one or not! They may not even know what it means to be a "no reply" blogger.

I have set up Blogger so that I get an email anytime one of my friends leaves a comment on any of my blog posts. (I've included instructions for the settings below.) I don't have to go back to Blogger to see the comments. It's very handy. Also, if I want to reply to a comment, I can simply send an email to my blog friend. My blog friend doesn't have to go back to my blog post to see if I responded. I can do all of this through the miracle of technology.... unless.... you are a "no reply" blogger!

If you are a "no reply" blogger this is what it looks like when I try to reply by email:

Do you see who the email is addressed to? 

Oh, how sad for me. This means that if I write a response, it goes off into never-never cyberland and you will never see it. Whoever> is, sure must get a lot of emails!

Some people have purposely set up their system so they won't get email replies for privacy reasons. But, since I believe that the 'no reply' setting is the default setting, many folks may not even be aware of it. (You can leave a comment to this post and I can let you know if you are a "no reply" blogger, if you aren't sure.)

So... if you'd like to change your settings so that bloggers can respond to your comments by email do the following:

1. Click on "Dashboard" on the upper right side of your screen when you are logged in to Blogger. (If you don't see "Dashboard" try clicking on "New Post" then look up in the corner.)
2. Click on "Edit Profile" on the left
3. Check the box that says, "Show my email address"
4. Scroll down and save your profile settings

Now, if you leave comments on my blog I will get an email with YOUR email address on it, and I'll be able to reply to your comment! Easy Peasy!

If you want to set up your Blog so that comments to your posts go to you by email:
1. Click on "Design" or "New Post" to access the back end of Blogger.
2. Select the "Settings" tab.
3. Click on the "Comments" option.
4. Scroll all the way down and enter your email address in the box for "Comment Notification Email"
5. Save your settings.

Now, you should begin to receive comments left on your blog posts via email. Oh, if you do this Blogger is the only one who knows what your email address is. So, this still maintains privacy if you don't want folks to know your email address.

And, to address a recent issue that makes my eyes cross and my face twitch... if you want to remove Word Verification, this is also where you would do it. When you are in the Settings tab and have selected "Comments" you will see "Yes" or "No" buttons for "Show word verification for comments?" This is located a few options above the "Comment Notification Email." Ever since Blogger changed their Word Verification to a two-word format, responding to blogs that require Word Verification has become a bit more difficult. Some bloggers may not be aware that they require the verification, and they can check their settings here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Welcome New Friends... Come Chat With Me!

I've 'collected' some more friends. I'd like to welcome them to my blog, and let them know how much I appreciate them.

Anna is the author's special name for her jewelry making muse. She writes Anna's Adornments. Since my heritage is Swedish, it's exciting to have another friend from Sweden. Anna's site can also be viewed in Swedish with some translations. Anna also contributes to The Red Cat Society which has cute posts by and about cats.

McGuffyAnn writes about her love of books and writing at McGuffy's Reader.

I met Debbie Huffaker through Chats on the Farmhouse Porch, so how fitting that I welcome her on a chat day! Debbie writes Wise Old Owl Designs and Jeremiah Twenty-Nine Eleven.

Cheryl Ann writes Deserts and Beyond and Desert Horses.... and eight more blogs. I think she is the most prolific blogger I know!

Jaymie writes Family Best, and is my most recent friend. She is a professional writer and I find her work to be very soothing. Jaymie and her family also have a hobby farm and would like to live self-sustainably.'s time to chat. Do you see the chains holding the porch swing? My swing has those... and a few more that anchor the swing to the railing. We've had winds up to 45 MPH over the past 24 hours (and more forecast for tomorrow). The chains keep my swing from blowing into the railings. So, what with the wind and the cold, we'll have to continue chatting inside. Come sit next to my fire, or head over to Patrice's porch!

Click on the image to visit Patrice's site and link to other blogger's responses to Patrice's questions.

Here are Patrice's questions for this week's chat:

  1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
  2. What's your favorite kind of juice?
  3. Have you tried Pinterest yet?
  4. I can't wait for __________ from my garden (or farmers' market/CSA/neighbor with green thumb).
  5. The worst job I ever had was __________________.

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
I had a granola cereal with vanilla almond milk. The milk is my 'new' thing. When my son visited over Thanksgiving he bought Almond milk. I'd never had it before, but I like almonds... so why not. I'm hooked!

2. What's your favorite kind of juice?
When I was a kid my mom would occasionally buy apricot nectar. To this day, I love it. However, I don't buy it very often as it is packed with calories.

3. Have you tried Pinterest yet?
Yes. I have a Pinterest page. I started it several weeks ago when there was a lot of activity. Now, it seems to have slowed down. I'm not sure I 'get it'! But, I am very visual and forgetful as well, so if I see something I like, I can pin it there and jog my failing memory! 

4. I can't wait for TOMATOES from my garden. I can't believe I just typed that. I never liked tomatoes. Not until a few years ago. Now... I LOVE fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes. M-m-good!

5. The worst job I ever had was working at an insurance agency one summer during college. My job was to process the papers that came from the insurance companies. Each week I'd start with a pile of envelopes. I'd make a list of the policy owners and pull their files. I'd open the policies, file one copy, prepare an envelope and mail the other copy with a cover letter, after affixing the agency stickers on the papers. Then I'd have to refile the folders. I'd process hundreds of insurance policies each week. Monday meant starting all over again. Ugh... I hated it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Hay, Doc, where were you?
I whinnied and ran around to 
look for you (once I finished
eating my hay)... 
and you never answered.

Ach! Our Mrs. Owner took me
 to the riding clinic. 
I wish she had taken you.

Oh, I don't envy you. That's hard work - 
four hours of going around and around.
Walking and trotting and having  our
Mrs. Owner pushing you from side to
side with her legs. How annoying!

The worst part was the loping.
I don't understand why old ladies 
even want to lope.

What! Our Mrs. Owner is eloping?
I thought she was already married to
that guy who always hangs around her.

Sigh. Yes, she's married.
She can't elope.

Cantaloupe? Is that the same as
saying a person is 'nuts'?

 I said, "loping".... 
You know...



Posted with permission of the artist, J. L. Werner

 Merchandise with this particular design may be purchased at:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Time For a Change

It's time for Saturday Centus again. 

Jenny, at on my tangent... has given us another interesting prompt for writing.  She posted a picture of a dentist's chair (shudder... I've seen too much of that one lately) and challenged us to write 100 words, plus the six words:

the chair dominated the small room

We could use her picture, or put up one of our own. Hmmm.... what shall I write?

Let's see....

How can I be creative with this?

Read on!




Until she saw the picture posted on the office bulletin board, she hadn’t realized how her bottom, perched on the chair, dominated the small room. How horrifying! Her heart pounded, her face reddened, her jaw clamped in rage and mortification as she ripped the picture down.

She put her hand to her chest as she struggled to catch her breath and awoke, with a start, from the recurring nightmare. This time she got it. It was time for a change. Even the little bit of weight she had gained over the winter was obviously weighing heavy on her mind. Time to get back to Weight Watchers.

You can read other responses to the prompt by clicking on the Saturday Centus image, above. It never fails to amaze and amuse me to see all of the different ways people respond to the prompts!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hobby Horse Blog Hop - Week One

Hay, thanks for stopping by! I hope you have the time to participate in this new blog hop I'm starting. I think it will be great fun to get to know more horse lovers and to learn from each other.

The Hobby Horse Blog Hop is for bloggers who:
  • love horses, whether they have one now, had one at one point in their lives or just enjoy seeing them.
  • cantered plastic horses around their bedroom floor,  jumping over shoes and trotting over pencil cavaletti. 
  • have taken a riding lesson, or never taken a riding lesson, or wish to take a lesson.
  • dream of owning their own horse, or have their own horse.
  • put a pony on their Christmas list every year as a child.
  • read every horse story in the school library as a kid!

What experiences and memories do you have to share? 

Each week I'll post two or three prompts. 
Choose one, two, or respond to all.
You can respond in comments or 
create a post on your blog and link to it.
Complete your post by asking a question for Blogger friends to answer.
And, who knows, maybe your question will become a prompt some other week.

Put the Hobby Horse Blog Hop image on your post
and create a link back to this post.

Link your post to the Hobby Horse Blog Hop
by using the Linky Tool below.
(If you link your blog and not your actual post
readers might not connect to your responses.)

Visit other participating blogs on the list
and respond to their questions or leave a comment.

Let's have some fun!

Hobby Horse Blog Hop Prompts - Week 1:
  1. Tell us about your first horse, real or imagined. 
  2. What lesson(s) did you learn from a horse?
  3. What riding discipline intrigues you the most?

Here are my responses:

1. My first horse was somewhere between real and imagined. My first horse was my barrel horse! I wrote about her here. At the time my barrel horse was created I was taking my first lessons and learning the basics of English riding, which is why I had jodhpurs, boots, a helmet and crop in the picture.

2. My first 'real' horse taught me a very important lesson about having a horse vetted thoroughly before making a purchase, or at minimum, having someone who is very knowledgeable go along with you to try the horse and assess its soundness, health and way of going. When I outgrew a friend's horse I began looking for a horse of my own. I bought a sweet little grey. He was a bold jumper. In fact, when I went to try him they showed me how easily he jumped 4'. I used 'Socky' for Pony Club, a few fox hunts and a few beginner's level three day events. He was a great first horse. He had a willing attitude and we traveled many a trail together. Sadly, Socky developed navicular disease. It became apparent that he would no longer be able to withstand the stress of the type of riding I was doing. Future horse purchases would be conducted only after X-rays and a veterinarian evaluation. (.... and then I bought the Haffies... no vet check, no X-rays. I went against everything I have always thought was important!! But, knock on wood, they have been pretty healthy, happy and sound!)

3. I am fascinated by vaulting. I admire the horse used for this sport, who holds himself to a specific gait until told to do otherwise. I admire the vaulters who lightly leap onto the backs of the horse as the horse calmly canters around the arena. Oh, my, it looks like such great fun!

My Question: What barn chore do you enjoy (or do you think you'd enjoy) doing the most?

Here's where you link to the Hobby Horse Blog Hop:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Whistle a Happy Tune

Here I am, riding Doc on Sunday.
I might have been whistling a happy tune
because I had the opportunity to get out
with other riders in a beautiful setting!

Recently I read the following on a ListServ:

"When I first started riding Clifford* as a 3 year old, lightly, on the glorious acreage on the estate, I'd sing..."When You Walk Through a Storm." Thought it a good selection as I was reinforcing the "walk" part. Didn't want "When You Gallop Through a Storm!" One day as we went along, I heard a male voice singing in the distance. It kept getting closer and closer. It turned out to be, Jeremy*, one of my barn buddies, who was riding his 3 year old. We were a regular Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, the singing movie duo from the dark ages of film.

I don't personally remember them. I'm old(er) but not that old. My grandma was a fan. It really does work, this singing thing.

In college, one of my PE semesters was in conscious relaxation. At the time, I thought it was dumb with a capital D. It turned out to be an extremely valuable learning, mind control of the body, all parts. Can't give a short course on line but for the up-tights, it's worth pursuing."

*names were changed

This post caught my attention because I am a horseback singer! I often find myself singing while on horseback and remember doing so when riding as a teen. I sing for a number of reasons, but most often because songs make me happy. Or perhaps I burst into song when I am happy, and riding makes me happy, so I sing. I'm not sure which comes first!  

If my heart is fluttering a bit, I will consciously sing to calm down. Just as the ListServ writer suggested. If I'm really nervous I might catch myself singing, "Whistle a Happy Tune" from the King and I:

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
I'm Afraid.
While shivering in my shoes 
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows I'm afraid.

If I'm out on the trail alone, I'll sometimes fill the quiet with a song. I think my song matches the cadence of the hoofbeats, or perhaps the hoofbeats come to match the rhythm of the song! 

One thing I like about singing on horseback is that the horses never complain! They don't care if I sing a song over and over again. They never make snide comments about my singing off key. They don't seem to care if I am at a loss for words and fill in some sort of nonsense, or just change to humming. 

Do you sing on horseback? 
Is singing a form of conscious relaxation for you?
What songs do you find yourself singing?

Another picture from our Sunday trail ride.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chats....Anything But Bored

Oh my, is it Tuesday again? 
Where does the time go? 
This week has flown by!

I have a few friends who are also retired and they say they are bored. I just don't get it. I can't imagine how anyone could be bored! Gail, from At The Farm and I had a brief email conversation about this yesterday. She cracked me up by saying, "I don't think I could be bored in an empty silo with my hands tied!" I'm thinking if you did close me up in a silo, even without tying my hands, I might begin to get bored. But, around here there is so much to do; things I want to do and things I should do, that I could go 24/7/365 without stopping!

So, it's time to chat on the farmhouse porch with Patrice at Everyday Rurality. Click on the image to visit her site and link to other blogger's responses to Patrice's questions.

1. What's your favorite kind of salad?
I prefer salads with a bit of fruit and some sort of cheese; pears and gorgonzola or cranberry and blue cheese are among my favorites. When I was working we'd often have meetings at Applebee's. I'd almost always order their Asian salad with mandarin oranges, almond slices, Asian noodles and chicken. Oh, and put the dressing on the side, please. I don't care for salads that are drowning in salad dressing!

2. How old were you when you learned to cook?
Hahahaha... that's making an assumption that I learned!! Actually, I think I'm a fairly decent cook and hubby will probably back me up on that. I don't remember actually 'learning' though. I do recall trying to concoct something when I was about 10. I remember using my mother's metal measuring cup on the stove to mix some things. I liked that the cup looked just like a little pan. I remember that it had ketchup and brown sugar in it, childhood staples, right?! After cooking my 'dish' over the stove I put the hot cup on the placemat and melted it. Forever after 'my' placemat had a melted circle staring me in the face... making me feel guilty over and over again!

3. What's your favorite kind of store?
Oh my, that's a tough one. I'm not much of a shopper, but now and then I do enjoy strolling around stores. Even thrift stores are intriguing. I love book stores. Sporting goods stores are fun - but the new 'big box' ones don't intrigue me as much as the older, smaller versions. (However, I must confess that I like Bass Pro Shops!) I love cooking shops and gardening shops. I think the only stores that don't intrigue me are department stores, clothing or cosmetics.

4. If you could have lived during any other time in history, what time would that have been?
I am fascinated by the colonial period. I admire the 'spunk' of the women who endured that life. Even living in a log cabin in the woods or a shanty would have been interesting. But probably, of greatest interest to me, would be living in the industrial age... but only if I were rich enough to live on an estate. Oh, OK, just let me live in Biltmore in Asheville... that would have been neat!

5. I'm looking forward to _______
Oh, this is easy! I'm looking forward to working outside. I can't wait to begin gardening and trying to set the outside of this house to rights. Our main floor is almost the way we want it... now if we can only get the outside to look as pretty!

I hope you all have a great week! We're supposed to have some warm temperatures - maybe some of our snow will melt!

I do want to share that I am having some problems responding to blogs that have word verification required. Since blogger changed the format it is very difficult, sometimes, to decipher what the letters or numbers are that are required to post a comment. If you do not get a comment from me, it may be due to word verification problems. If I don't get it the first time, I usually give up!

See you next week!

Monday, February 20, 2012


LuckyBunny passed the Versatile Blogger award on to me. She writes Our Forest Haven. I feel so honored! Thank you for thinking of me!

The rules for this award include that you write a post listing 7 things about yourself, and then pass the award along to fifteen other bloggers. 

First, I thought I'd share what the dictionary says about 'versatile'....(I LOVE having my computer dictionary at my finger tips... and it makes me think of all of those years of teaching children how to use the dictionary.... I know they still teach those skills, but at what point will that skill set become a lost art?)

versatile |ˈvərsətl|adjectiveable to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities: a versatile sewing machine | he was versatile enough to play either position.archaic changeable; inconstant.
So, I've decided to change that up a bit. I am going to write 7 things about me that prove how versatile I can be! So here we go....

  1. I usually sip coffee (soda in the afternoon), watch television AND write blog posts or comments at the same time. I use a MacBook Pro that I purchased from my son when he upgraded to a bigger, better, faster, smaller machine, and I sit in a comfy chair in my living room.
  2. I enjoy many different hand crafts: knitting, crocheting, sewing (including hand smocking and French 'hand' sewing by machine), appliqué and now... rug hooking.
  3. I wanted to get a pasta machine to make my pasta dough thin enough to use for ravioli, but I found a "Pasta Express" machine at the thrift store and came home with that instead. I love it. I get my water on the stove, my pasta sauce bubbling and then I put the ingredients in the machine, turn it on... it mixes it, then with a flick of the switch, it extrudes the pasta through the die I have selected. I can't wait to experiment with different types of pasta now.
  4. I have trained several dogs to perform obedience maneuvers and have titled one dog. I have trained Tucker to do basic obedience. We have also done some agility activities; jumps and tunnels. But, I can not make the dog come!!! There's a leak in my versatility, I guess!
  5. For an aging lady (I won't cave in to 'old') I am still pretty active. Not only do I ride my horses and run around with them a bit when I do some long reining, but I have begun to do indoor climbing, I can ride a bike (and chew gum at the same time) and I enjoy snow shoeing. I have participated in some horseback riding clinics and have even passed 'versatility' on to my horses by doing a bit of Ranch Horse Versatility training with them!
  6. Although technology is beginning to outpace me, I am still quite adept at maneuvering through and around different software programs and/or web pages. I can write a little HTML code and I can still put together a mean PowerPoint!
  7. In redoing our home I have: painted walls, ceilings, soffits and railings; tiled floors, tub surrounds, and back splashes; installed can light conversions (which only require that I get up on a ladder... but one of those ladders was pretty high); installed wood flooring; crafted nifty dividers for the kitchen drawers; planted, staked, watered, and wrapped trees; and I have moved landscaping rocks and reworked planting beds. I am sure I will demonstrate additional versatile behaviors as we continue to transform our project house!

And to pass it on....

I'm gonna change this one up, too. I am bestowing this award to all of you that meet this criteria:
  1. I follow your blog.... and you follow my blog
  2. You post at least once a week (or, at least think about posting once a week).
  3. You respond to comments, at least once in a while - either on your blog or via email, or even by mumbling a response as you read the blog.
  4. As you live your life you hear something, or see something, or take a picture of something, or read something, and you think: "Oh, that would make a great blog post" and some day we will read about it on your blog.
I nominate any and all bloggers who fit the criteria I have adapted for this award! Congratulations!
Please leave a comment or send me an email with your acceptance!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's HER Fault that I'm Hooked!

Do you remember my delight in receiving wonderful gifts in a Christmas gift exchange with another blogger? Courtney, who writes Sassafras and Winterberry,  sent me such a great gift package. In some ways I feel she may truly be a soul sister of mine. We have much in common, including a love of teaching, enjoyment of crafts, a fondness for antiques, a weakness for primitive art and enthusiasm for learning new things. Oh, and at least for me, when I want to learn something new, I want to do it right now!

Courtney designed and hooked a darling rug for me. It sits in a place of honor on my coffee table. I look at it and yearn to learn. I want to hook rugs, too!

I began to look around to see what resources I have to help me. I found that there is a rug hooking club nearby. Apparently this old art is somewhat new in this area of the country. While it is 'big' on the east and west coasts, it is just beginning to pick up speed in the middle.

On Friday I stopped by the club's monthly hook-in meeting at a nearby library. They come together once a month and enjoy informal opportunities to share ideas and to work on rugs. This lovely lady is holding up a rug that was made by six members of the club to remind her of Colorado when she moves to Texas. I was sad that she is moving as I discovered that she lives practically over the hill from me! Each block of the rug, designed by the club members, depicts a Colorado symbol; Columbine, an Aspen leaf, a bighorn sheep, a cabin, a snow draped pine and the mountains. It was beautiful!

One of the club members marched me into the library and down through the shelves to find a book on rug hooking, after she insisted that I try hooking on her rug. She knew, oh yes, she did, that if one hooks a strip of wool, she will be hooked for life!!

I also learned that there are very few shops in the area that sell hooking supplies. However, there just happens to be one. Sadly, it is in a town on the opposite side of the city and far away from me. But, Hubby wanted to go to the annual Rails in the Rockies model railroad show yesterday, and how serendipitous, detouring to the town with the shop took us only 15-20 miles out of our way!

So I wandered around the shop. I bought a hook and a kit, and some Monk's cloth to use for backing future rugs. I am hooking!

Saturday, February 18, 2012




Ha! In my dreams!

But... Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus 'prompt' is to write our autobiography in six words.

You have got to be kidding!
Here is my 'mini' life story:

Born in Buffalo, (l)earned to live!

OK, so I sorta cheated.... if you figured out the learned/earned bit. But I loved that it could be read two ways and still be an integral part of my 'autobiography'!

Click on the image to hop to Jenny's page to see other responses.

If you are having trouble leaving comments, Jenny suggested we try email. It will be interesting to see how many people are struggling with comments (not including those that are hitting the 'word verification' roadblock - which I wrote a rant about here... in case you missed it!). My email is: i t e a c h    at    cp    ride       dot    net.   (no spaces)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Family and Friends

I bought a slide converter for my Dad and went through some of his slides with him. Most of them were from the 70's and 80's, but there were a few family treasures. Here are two from around 1955.

We had a pond behind our house and I do remember skating on it. I had double runner skates that strapped to my boots. They were really lousy! One couldn't really skate, it was more like walking an inch above the ground. I do remember, though, that my brother had hockey skates.  They had no support and his ankles were practically on the ice when he tried to skate. Here is a shot taken on the pond. I love that there are so many neighborhood children out on the ice. I wonder if you would see this today? My mother may be the adult in the picture. My sister is in the dark coat behind our Golden Retriever, Friar Tuck. I think my brother might be the boy in the front. Apparently I was not out skating walking around on metal runners strapped to my boots that day.

Here we are madly trying to row the boat away, but my sister is making sure we don't go too far! I am the blonde... and I can't decide if I am crying or whether I have chocolate pudding around my mouth! I'm thinking that I might be angry with my sister for foiling our get-away attempt!

I'd like to welcome new Blogger friends:

Jeff writes two blogs. One he calls Zoo Blog which he says "is designed to incorporate web-based technologies into science curricula." Being a teacher (one can never really be a 'former' teacher) I love the blog. Being a former 'Instructional Technology Specialist' for a school district, I LOVE seeing how technology is being used to help teachers teach and students learn. Well done, Jeff! Jeff's other blog The Path Called Life chronicles family happenings. Jeff has three darling girls, one of which is his wife!

Jenny Matlock has also become a blogger friend. Jenny hosts several blog community events on her blog, Jenny Matlock. She has Alphabe-Thursday, Saturday Centus and Story-time Tuesday.  I've enjoyed participating in them. What I really like is being able to connect to more bloggers through this sort of blog hop. 

So, welcome new Blogger friends. Thank you to all of my existing Blogger friends. I love you all!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Please Prove You Are Not A Robot

OK, Blogger. I've just about had it with you! You have turned the corner, and I don't like the direction you are traveling! (If I addressed you that way, would you be scarified? Maybe the tiniest bit intimidated?)

Word verification was OK. Sometimes it was amusing to see what 'word' you would provide. Uncannily, sometimes those 'words' would somehow fit the post. They often put my imagination in gear as I would think of meanings for them.

But this new Word Verification $%!+ is driving me crazy! I thought it was a new setting that one of my blogger friends had selected when I responded yesterday. It took me four tries! But no, you have changed the format on all blogs that require word verification. I guess I just don't 'get it'!

Is it a sign of age that sometimes I can't 'see' the letters for the blob?  
Oh and Blogger, why did you make the letters blurry?
 I just paid good money to have new glasses made,
'Cause I don't like seeing things 'blurry'!

Prove I'm not a robot? Do I look like a robot?
Do I sound like a robot?
If I were a robot I wouldn't have wrinkles,
I wouldn't have arthritis...
I wouldn't be typing this blog post!

Then I notice, when I don't get the letters correct,
I get a reprimand: 
The characters you entered didn't match the word verification. 
Please try again.

In red ink!
I feel like a school kid getting a paper back from my English teacher.
It's not a comforting feeling, Mr. Blogger.

And, by the way, 
if you got a message from me that says absolutely nothing...
It's because when I do mistype the words, 
the new form comes up...
without my comment!

So, dear Blog friends, if it seems that I am not responding to your posts, if you aren't seeing comments from me, it's not because I'm not reading your post. It's not because I'm not interested in saying, 'Howdy' or reacting to what you have written.... it's because Blogger has driven me over the edge and I refuse to play the game!


You shouldn't have to play the game to comment on my Blog. I turned word verification off a long time ago. I discovered I didn't get that much spam... in fact, the Blogger spam filter seems to catch what little there is of it.

So, is it just me who is a wee bit irritated by having to go through some sort of intelligence (or lack thereof) test to comment on a friend's blog?
Am I the only one who is irritated by this?

OK... so now that I've had my say... I feel a bit better! I think! 
At least until I try to comment on a Blog!

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch: Valentine Time

It's time to chat again! Well, actually, it's past time... and I'm a bit late. This week has kinda been that way with extra things to do and I seem to be a bit late for everything. Well, truthfully, I was early for my dentist appointment yesterday.... and then he was running late! Oh well! I can't win!

Come join me! I'm enjoying a cup of Timothy's Breakfast Blend, the sun isn't quite over the hill yet. It's peaceful. You can visit with other folks on the porch at Patrice's. Just click on the picture, and just like that you will be virtually connected to Patrice's porch! 

  1. Did you do anything special for Valentine's Day?  We sure did! We went out for dinner. We are usually homebodies, preferring something simple at home, but at the last minute decided it would be nice to eat out. One thing that we love about our new home is how close we are to restaurants. We were seated in the restaurant 6 minutes after leaving our house! Wow! Any other place we  have lived has been at least 20 minutes from a restaurant, usually further. 
  2. What was the last craft item that you made? I'm not sure if this counts as a craft item, and I don't have a picture because I have already delivered it, but I made a foam play tray for therapeutic riding. WARNING... this gets kinda boring. You may want to skip to the next question and answer! The therapist was struggling with a little boy who was putting together some shape puzzles. He was sitting backwards on the horse and the puzzle pieces kept sliding off the horse's back. She said she wished she had a tray. Being a creative person, she took a wood puzzle, dumped the pieces and let the boy play with the shapes using the puzzle board to hold them. We talked about what a tray might look like. I had some 1" stiff foam; the blue foam that you can buy at the building supply store for insulation. I cut two rectangles from the foam, about 15" X 10". I cut the middle of one out, leaving a 1" frame. I glued the frame piece on top of the other. Then, deciding it looked kinda ugly, I cut a piece of material just a bit larger than the tray opening. I put some craft glue along the edges and poked the fabric between the base and the frame edge. I used another piece of material to wrap from the bottom around the frame edge, poking it in the seam where I added more glue. I stitched some velcro on the back so the tray will stick to the saddle pad a bit. I took it to the riding center yesterday. The therapist wasn't in - so it will be fun, next week, to see what she thinks and whether it works.
  3. Are you planning a garden? Are you swamped with seed catalogs? Yes.... and no.... maybe.... maybe not! We had a beautiful garden at our other house. Here, we have deer and bunnies. Last year I had a container of tomatoes, one of squash and one of peppers. I'm thinking I want more but, in order to get a garden going we would need to put up an 8' fence, or two fences, one being at least 6' and the other about 4 feet away from it. It seems like a lot of work! But, I do love gardening. I do love looking at fun vegetables in catalogs; like purple carrots, or some sort of exotic beans. There is nothing nicer than heading out to the garden at 5:30, picking some sort of vege, and having it on the plate for dinner at 6:30 (or 7:30... or more likely, at our house, 8:00 PM!)
  4. What cosmetics do you have in your purse? I laughed at this one.... purse? Where is my purse? I can never find it. Oh wait, here it is. Cosmetics? What do they look like? Oh wait, I do have a chap stick! Sometimes I don't even have that in the purse! As you can tell, I'm not a huge cosmetic user! My mother never went out without lipstick on. I can't even find one. I'm thinking it might be nice to try to 'dress my face up' a bit.... maybe some day I'll remember to buy and try using lipstick when I go out in the world!
  5. When there is a room to be painted in your home, who does the painting? Hubby and I are pretty good about tackling projects like this together. Like you, I do enjoy painting. What I don't like is getting ready to paint; moving furniture, finding drop cloths, getting the brushes and roller together, etc. Hubby is much more of a perfectionist than I am. He is great at cutting in at the ceiling and the baseboard. He doesn't have to use masking tape. I enjoy the speed with which a room can be transformed by slopping the paint on with a roller. Unfortunately, I also get paint all over me, the floor, the baseboard.... just about everywhere! At the moment, I don't have any painting projects in mind... except to finish the last chair! And actually, I did complete it, but neither hubby nor I liked the color, so I had to sand it down and repaint it. It has been so cold that the spray paint hasn't left a nice finish. I'm waiting for a warmer day to get a second coat on it before I do the stenciling.
I have enjoyed stopping by for a chat. I see two horses staring at me. They are telling me it is time to get dressed and get out to feed them! I'll see you all next week!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Rock

On our 25th anniversary hubby and I took a mini-vacation to the North Carolina mountains while grandparents watched the boys. We enjoyed time in a wonderfully elegant, but quaint, totally unique hotel, The Grove Park Inn. If you are ever in the Asheville, NC area I highly recommend a stop, even if it is just to walk through the immense lobby, have lunch on the porch and maybe even visit the antique car museum on the grounds. 

On our last morning the skies had grown cloudy and a light mist began to fall. We decided to head home, meandering on country roads through beautiful mountain valleys and along fun twisting roads. As we drove around a corner near Lake Lure, NC, there was a run-down cottage along the side of the road with a "Realtor" sign in front. To this day I don't know what possessed us, but we stopped. Perhaps we wanted to delay our return to the humdrum of everyday life. Perhaps we were still ensnared in the vision of a different way of life brought about by the Inn. But we stopped and looked at pictures of cottages available in the area. We entered and talked to the Realtor. This area would make a wonderful weekend retreat, we decided, being about 4 1/2 hours from home but offering mountains and drier, cooler air and a change from coastal Carolina living. 

Chuck took us around for a few hours and showed us some cottages and some land. We fell in love with a 12-acre parcel of land on the side of a mountain. The property was nestled between two ridges and backed up to a steep cliff near the top. It was heavily treed and had the tiniest of streams trickling down one side. You couldn't hear a thing but your breathing and the leaves crackling as you walked up the old drive. You couldn't see a house from any direction. Then the birds began to sing and we were mesmerized. This was surely enchanted land. 

As we walked up the old drive we came across a huge rock. The rock was our first picnic spot when we returned with the boys, and became a favorite playing and eating area after we decided to purchase the land.

We camped on the property on weekends. We had a driveway and parking space scraped out of the forest. We found an old travel trailer that we had hauled up onto the property and enjoyed our retreats without electricity; no TV, no video games. Just reading, playing board games, hiking and catching crawfish in the pool of a stream across the street. It was a simpler, slower and quieter time. It provided a time to breathe and relax during hectic times. Looking at this one picture evokes all of the those feelings now. I can almost smell the leaves, and feel the stillness, and my brain slows as the memories return.

Do you have a picture, or a place, that brings a sense of peace to you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Trouble With Smart Dogs

Many years ago, hubby and I bought a male Golden Retriever we named Brew.

 We had planned to show Brew to get a championship title, like his parents. But, Brew who acquired his name by being a 'big bruiser' grew too large for breed standards. So the next thought was getting an obedience title on him. Brew was an enthusiastic participant. We went through classes and practiced. We participated in a few fun matches. We were entertainment for the viewers! On a recall, where your dog sits about 30 feet away and is to come straight to you when called, Brew would charge toward me, plunk his rear on the ground about 8 feet away, and slide to a stop - usually taking me out in the process! Well, he was obedient! In the Novice class, on the long down, your dog is to remain in a down position for three minutes (the longest three minutes ever) while you stand about 30 feet away. Observers could see that Brew was a thinking sort of dog. He would look at me. He would look at another dog, or another handler, or the judge. He would look at me. You could see his mind working.
"Alright," he'd think, "she said to stay down. What if I stay down, but crawl on my belly over to that dog (handler, judge)? What's the worst she could do to me?!"
So, maybe obedience matches weren't his thing either!
Brew became a delightful family dog. He was good with the babies. He happily shared toys with them. He delighted in hanging around the high chair during meals. He didn't mind if the boys hung from his ears (or other appendages) in learning to walk.
At this time our neighbor had a Corgi cross. A cute little guy they named, "Bandit". The neighbors taught Bandit to fetch the newspaper. Brew, being a Golden Retriever, was born and bred to fetch. He began to steal the newspaper from Bandit and bring it home. Of course, since our driveway was quite long, I was thrilled to have my dog bring me the paper, not knowing how he had acquired it. I just assumed it was from the end of our driveway. I praised Brew for his enterprising action. The next day, Brew delivered the paper once again. And, I praised him again. There is nothing...nothing at all... that Goldens like better than praise! So, the following morning there were several newspapers. I believe I ignored this on the first morning, but on successive mornings we had an increasing number of doggie-delivered newspapers. I would surreptitiously drive through the neighborhood and redeliver papers on my way to work! I finally had to reprimand our Golden. Bad dog turned into sad dog. But.... it didn't stop his retrieving! It only stopped his delivery! My new morning routine began with a search under bushes to find Brew's pile of retrieved papers and then redelivery. We finally stopped Brew's paper habit by helping our neighbors install newspaper boxes the publisher provided for free. We even installed one at the end of our driveway, because Brew never learned to bring the paper back to us after we reprimanded him for his behavior. He always hid it in the yard!

Monday, February 13, 2012


Up until recently the consensus seems to have been 
that winter hasn't come to many places.
But over the past few days, that seems to have turned around. 
Old Man Winter heard us and decided to come for a visit. 

We have had more snow than we have had in recent years... 
But our temperatures have been very temperate - until last week.
Nothing below 0... but well below freezing.

Mama Boots has found a solution to cold nights in the barn -
Drink all of the water in the heated water bowl,
Then use it as a nest!

She cracked me up when I walked in to feed the horses...
Perched in her blue bowl.
She came out to rub against my leg,
Then climbed right back in again!
I'm thinking I should cave in and get her a heated bed...
Or maybe a sidekick to cuddle with!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Life Skills for Horses

Equus had a brief article about "show skills" that every horse should have. Among the skills they list are loading and unloading from the trailer, having the patience to stand still, being able to be tacked anywhere, begin accustomed to a ribbon flapping near the face and remaining calm with a PA speaker blaring.

That started me thinking about the skills or behaviors I want my horses to demonstrate or what behaviors I wish they would acquire. Those that come to mind include:
  • Trailering: there is nothing worse than the frustration of having a horse that won't load. I think about emergencies when you have to get a horse on a trailer, quickly and calmly. What if there was a wild fire approaching? What if your horse needed to be taken to an emergency vet clinic? I need to do some work on this with my horses. I can get them on and off by myself, with a little persuasion needed for Doc. I usually have to make him 'move his feet', going around in circles for a bit before he becomes resigned to loading. If he were injured, that would be a problem. 

  • Standing: for grooming, the vet, the farrier and for mounting. Doc wins in this category, well, maybe not all of the time when I'm mounting! He's actually great if I mount from the ground, but if I use a mounting block he decides to swing away from it. For grooming he stands stock still and will even lift his feet for me or the farrier. Pippin isn't bad - he just has trouble standing still. I call him my ADHD horse. He will stand for the farrier and the vet, when he isn't looking to see if they have cookies in their pockets. Our first farrier always gave out cookies, repeatedly while he was working on the horses, at least two treats per hoof. Pippin hasn't forgotten that lesson! I have worked on this with Pippin, using Julie Goodnight's "stand still like a statue" techniques. What a difference that made! When I went to the first clinic session with Brent Winston, you may recall that Pippin did not 'stand like a statue' then. I need to be a bit firmer with Pippin as he always tests the limits and if you give him an inch... he'll take a mile!
  • Respecting my space when I am leading or working around them. This seems to be a corollary of standing. When I was in high school the horses in our barn would all stand to one side of the stall when the barn manager walked in to muck out the stall. On an almost invisible signal from him, they'd move to the other side so he could do a thorough job. Although I don't require quite this level of obedience, I do ask my guys to stand back when I am coming in the stall door, especially with their food. I also demand that when I am in their presence they refrain from crowding me. Again, this is one where Doc shines. Pippin needs reminders. 
  • Whoa means whoa! Again, this goes along with standing. This is something I constantly work at. When I ask for a whoa, I want my horses to stand and wait for me to tell them to proceed, whether I'm on the ground, in a carriage or on their backs. Last year I took some lessons with Gerrie Barnes. She does a lot of versatility ranch horse work and explained that experienced versatility horses get more than 75% of their cues from the rider's weight, seat and hands. She asked us to exhale and put weight in our stirrups when we want our horses to stop. I've been working on this with both horses. It's nice to have the horse stop without hauling on his mouth. I'm hoping our constant work on this will carry over as we do more trail riding. A 'not so funny at the time' note about whoa; when I was going to college I had to sell my hunter. Quite a few prospective buyers came out to the stable to try him. One rider was having some difficulty controlling him, so as she was careening down one side of the arena I said, "Whoa" My horse responded. The rider did not. She sailed over his head. That was the only 'sail' that day ... my horse was a 'no sale'!
  • Proceed at the speed and direction I ask of you. I've heard this from several well-known horse trainers. It is rock bottom basic... but for me, is one of the hardest things to accomplish with my horses. We work on this just about every time I ride them. So, I'm thinking, maybe I am not insistent enough. Maybe I just hint or tell them, over and over. Nag, nag, nag! Perhaps if they aren't taking my hint, I need to make myself clear and use a bit more force. And, as Brent would remind me, using force doesn't mean bringing emotions into the situation. In describing and demonstrating his "hint, ask, tell, demand" philosophy he is quick to point out that this doesn't mean you get angry at the horse. You simply tell the horse, with a bit more force, what you want. Yesterday, in a lesson with Brent, I had a chance to 'demand' that Pippin move laterally. I really had to boot him. But, the next time I asked, he responded to much less pressure. Oh, and Pippin didn't take it personally!

So, what other skills or behaviors are among the basics? What do you require of your horses?

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....