Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009.

Keeping Things in Perspective

On my way to the barn today I saw the silhouette of a large bird flying fairly low over the fields adjacent to the road. Somehow I knew it wasn't a run-of-the-mill crow, didn't have the legs and neck for a heron.... So I kept an eye on it as I tried to keep the car inside my lane. The bird flew across the road just ahead of the car. It was a bald eagle! Honest to goodness national symbol. I had to sneak a second look to make sure of what I was seeing. Yep! An adult bald eagle.

Mother Nature always seems to help one keep things in perspective. Provided you're alert to what she's doing. The woman following me a little too closely had a cell phone plastered to her ear and didn't notice the bald eagle. Anyway...I was impressed. I got the message. Keep yourself open to Mother Nature's gifts. Glueing oneself to modern high tech gadgets seems to create a barrier against the real world.


Back in the saddle!! Again. I longed Phantom for 10 minutes, then rode for only 20 minutes. But I got what I wanted and we're both out of shape after so much time off since I broke my wrist and the snow kept me "cabin bound."

Lots of forward walking to warm up eventually got us to round and connected. Circles and serpentines at a posting trot got us to "beachball" round engagement. Did just a wee bit of leg yielding. Phantom was stiff through the middle and I lacked the muscle to bend him, so we were a pair. But he was good-natured about it all and despite a glance or two for cougars, he was well-behaved. So I was happy with my brief ride. A little trot on a long rein to stretch out and we concluded with a happy walk.

Today my fuzzy, grey Goober Boy was pricesless. Not for sale at any price. :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I asked Santa for a digital camera and he came through with some money so I could shop for one. I wanted a camera a few steps above my little Kodak digital, but not one of the expensive SLRs. I took note of the models recommended by "Consumer Reports," which included two cameras by Canon. I came across the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, a new model with favorable reviews from users.

So...I ventured to the closest Best Buy, played with the cameras, kept coming back to the above model, and finally bit. I decided I'd probably be disappointed if I got a different model, so I went for it. What sold me was the zoom, since I want to play at horse shows and the audience is always at a safe distance from the action. Plus it uses AA batteries. I went for the two-year warranty against damage (the knowledgeable sales clerk had experience with repairs to a camera covered under the warranty), a memory card, and camera case.

This was a big purchase for me, and lots of bells and whistles to learn. So I was both excited and apprehensive about the purchase. But once I got home the camera was easy to set up and put in working order. Learning how to use all the features will come with practice.

THE PROBLEM: I can't load the Canon software onto my Mac. My operating system is too old. :-(

I have Mac OS X 10.3.9. Old, old, old (apparently). I need at least OS X 10.4. And the newest Leopard operating software is 10.5+.


It appears that I can purchase Leopard for around $130 (cheaper than a new computer), but I need "512 MB of physical RAM." What the h___ does that mean?!

I'm not a computer person. I want to turn on my Mac and start working on my novel, or poke around online, or download/upload photos, or create a PowerPoint slide show of a story outline, etc.

So I poke around on the computer and search on Google. I think I discovered that I have more than adequate space on my computer to upgrade to Leopard. What I don't have is the $130.

So do I take an "advance" on my income tax refund to buy the software sooner rather than later? Will my computer melt if I try to do an upgrade? Will my head explode if I attempt to load Leopard?


All I wanted was a digital camera to play with!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Cold, wet, Doug fir-whipping, in your face RAIN. It's what we know on the wet side, er, west side of the Cascades. This we can handle.

Most signs of snow are gone. A few dirty mounds remain from shovels and plows, or in shady areas.

I reintroduced myself to Phantom today. Since it was cold and blustery, and rattling the big arena doors, I decided against riding. So it was a barbershop day. I gave Phantom a good brushing, cleaned and treated his feet, and brushed and rebraided forelock, mane and tail. My little gray guy almost dozed off while I was working on his mane. What a cutie.

Boarder Genevieve longed Zorro, who was convinced that cougars were trying to batter down the doors of the arena. Yep, good day to keep the saddle in the tack room.

Yikes, the Wranglers are pretty snug after essentially three months on the sidelines. Maybe NOW I can work off some calories from the saddle.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Although this photo was taken on Sunday, our street doesn't look much different. It's more chewed up due to additional traffic and the slow melt. Some ruts in the snow are slush, others are still ice.

As Indy and I were coming down the street after our morning stroll, a young woman drove past in a small SUV. She got out of her rig to deliver a gift and as we walked past she said our street was scary. Her SUV is gone, so she must have been able to get our of our neighborhood. White knuckles and all.

We had ourselves a Merry Little Christmas. Thoughtful friends from the Seattle area sent all kinds of goodies that solved our emergency situation: running out of See's candy! Mom and I exchanged clothes, items from our lists, and items that should have been on our lists. We had discussed splurging on a roast or steaks for Christmas dinner, but had to make do with Marie Callendar's spaghetti dinner and mincemeat pie for dessert.

Indy received a stuffed blue sheep that makes a "baa baa" sound when squeezed instead of the usual dog toy squeak. He doesn't quite know what to make of the funny noise. He did finally pick up the blue sheep but quickly dropped it. He later poked his nose at it and immediately jumped away. Finally last night he started to chew on it. He's now two years old, but I'm not sure that's he's completely outgrown his chew & swallow phase. So we're keeping a close eye on him as he gnaws on the sheep's ear or leg. (I can verify that hydrogen peroxide will make a dog regurgitate lengths of towel and other inappropriately ingested items.)

Mom has kept busy at the sewing machine during our forced confinement and she's still working on her Christmas cards (more like New Year's cards now). I've been working on "Legacy." Today I FINALLY sewed a fleece cover for the elastic dressage girth that gives Phantom galls. I'm just over halfway through Cornelia Funke's "Inkdeath," the last book of her trilogy.

The horses are reportedly turned out today after spending Christmas inside due to the slippery conditions. Snow and ice sliding off the roof of the arena barn apparently gave a few of the horses coronaries. Only minor boo boos. Poor Finn, our big little guy, nearly came out of his stall in a single bound according to Owner Susan.

I think Mom and I need to discuss the possibility of studded tires or chains for her car. Particularly considering that January and February are our usual snow months. :-0

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Indy says, "You've got to be kidding!"

The official measurement was 14 inches of snow for our burb south of Portland. During the past two days, I-5 in our vicinity has been one of the worst trouble spots for travelers.

The change in weather began today. The morning walk with Indy was similar to yesterday's...traveling on the packed snow in the streets because the unshoveled or nonpacked snow/ice/snow combination was difficult to navigate. The rain began shortly after we returned from our walk and continued most of the day. I watched the snow fall off of the trees in the neighbors' yards while I wrote. By the time we ventured out for Indy's afternoon walk, all the trees were bare and the cold rain was just nasty. The streets are melting, however, the packed snow has turned to thick slush that is even more slippery than the snow!

Would you believe we have no idea where our snow shovel is? Misplaced during one of our moves, or maybe in the commercial storage unit. So I used the only shovel I could find to clear out the gutter at the curb so melting snow can flow past the house. Hey, I'm Oregon born and raised -- I've seen the Oregon City falls completely disappear under flood waters -- twice.

We'll hunker down again tomorrow to let the warmer temperatures and rain further scour out the snow from the neighborhood streets.


Would you believe Aisley and her traveling companions had to dash into the fen to escape the bad guys who caught up with them? People get lost in the fens and are never seen again. Could it be because of the Fen Folk? They're an elusive, odd-looking, highly intuitive race that exists between the magical races and mortals.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snow, Part VIII

Does the theme from "Jaws" go through your mind when you see this?

These are the harmless boxwoods planted along our walkway given a sinister appearance by snow drifts. I couldn't resist the picture.

The morning tramp with Indy through the Xerox campus revealed that even our well-used streets are packed snow (no pavement in sight). And I-5 was brown slush. Weird to observe vehicles on the freeway traveling around 40 mph instead of 70-80 (despite the 65 mph limit).

Two mobile neighbors have offered assistance if needed. So far we're doing okay.

Making progress on "Legacy." Aisley and her traveling companions have dealt with bandits, a lost horseshoe, and additional information about Aisley's heritage. The bad guy is only a few days behind them. I have a suspicion [ :-) ] that Aisley will encounter a problem or two that will delay their northward escape. Hmmm.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow, Part VII

Compare today's 3:00 pm measurement on the left with Saturday night's measurement on the right. Check out the snow piled on top of the deck railing. And note that evidence of Indy's leap into the snow has disappeared!

Yes, we woke up this morning to MORE snow on the ground. Snow contined to fall here all day until about 3:30 pm.

Get this, all State offices located in Portland are closed today. During my 30 years of employment with the State of Oregon, offices were NEVER closed.

This long-lasting snow "event" has become one for the record books. Reminds me of the 1968-69 winter when we had a lengthy cold spell and several snow showers.

Per "The Oregonian," total snowfall for Portland is approaching the all-time record from 1949-50. We have a photo in the family album of our '49 gray Chevy coated with an inch of ice (no exaggeration) during the 1950 silver thaw. My mother recalls ice flows in the Columbia River that winter.

Still great weather for writing and I'm making progress on Legacy.

Staying inside unless I need to venture outside with Indy so he can conduct "business." The only way we can get around is to walk in tire tracks in the street. Otherwise we're stepping into snow, crunching through ice, and sinking into more snow.

The horses are again confined to their stalls, since it's too treacherous for turnouts. Phantom is in the little barn, which I'm sure is pretty snug. Owner Susan keeps us updated daily about our ponies.

My uncle suggested it's good weather for hot, mulled wine. Hmmm. Regretfully, we have no peppermint schnapps to add to our hot cocoa. Cinnamon schnapps in hot cocoa is also killer!

Our gas fireplace is fronted with protective glass. Toasted marshmallows are out of the question. :-(

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Winter Solstice

This says it all.

Our street in the burbs.

The bird buffet is open.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow, Part VI

No narrative necessary.

All photos taken around five hours prior to this posting. It's been snowing nonstop all day, so these pics are already outdated.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow, Part V

Guess what's back?

I took this photo on the return from my morning walk with Indy. As I am writing this, there is melting while more snow periodically drifts down. ?!!

Three inches of snow reportedly fell at the barn and Owner Susan kept the horses inside today until conditions improve. For the uninitiated, horses are subject to the same strains and sprains as humans when slipping and sliding on slick surfaces. Plus, wet and heavy snow packs in the horses' feet which can be dangerous. (Imagine trying to walk on snowballs and you get the picture.) All the stalls have been provided with buckets of water to supplement the automatic waterers. And Phantom has graciously taught his aislemates how to amuse themselves by tossing their halters and other items within reach. Keeping up with current weather conditions may be making a wreck of Owner Susan and crew, but I am confident that Phantom is in good hands.


The local news media, per usual, went into overkill on weather coverage. Folks mumbled and grumbled about the excessive reporting from various locations in the metro area and on Mt. Hood. However, extreme weather conditions are unusual on the west side of the Cascades and with our varied landscape we have numerous mini climates. For example, while the Portland metro area experienced mixed snow and rain the other day, several inches of snow dumped north of Vancouver in the Ridgefield area. Folks planning to travel in the region need to know what kind of conditions they're traveling into.

Then there's the "I'm from ______ (fill in the blank of a location east of the Rockies) and they know how to deal with this weather there!" As a child of the Tom McCall years, my initial response is: "Go back." But that's not neighborly. So let's think about it. As mentioned above, snow storms are unusual in western Oregon and Washington. So it isn't financially responsible to have an army of snow plows and gravel trucks parked for 364 days a year. The reason I could operate my car for 18 years is because we don't salt our roads. Afterall, the snow will melt on its own in a day or two. As for the goofy "Oregon" drivers, just consider for a moment that if the compainer didn't learn to drive in Oregon, then perhaps the other driver is also from out of state. The immigrants from dryer climes can't drive in Oregon rain, either. In case you haven't noticed, it isn't flat here. While downtown streets and heavily-traveled roads may clear up quickly, numerous side streets in the metro area often remain icy and dangerous. So driving skills learned in the midwest might not help one climb Portland's West Hills, or Mt. Tabor on the east side.

So give Oregon a break. Something attracted the complainer from fill-in-the-blank to the Pacific Northwest. If you don't think we do snow correctly on the west side, then move to Enterprise or Burns. They know extreme weather.

Okay. The soap box has been put away.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fracture Fable Finale

Today I had my final therapy session with Heather. I have been released to go forward and stay upright! But I will miss Heather. What a cutie!

I'm not yet at 100%, but much improved. Today I registered just under 40 on the "squeeze-o-meter" with my left hand. The last two sessions I managed like a 32 and 34. I registered 50 with my right hand (I'm assuming it's pounds of pressure) and since I'm right handed it's normal for the dominant hand to register higher. But my left hand should pick up some more oomph. So I'm to continue working with the putty goop.


So obviously we finally got the car out of the driveway if I made it to my therapy session. Yesterday we had snow, then snow and rain, and then rain that helped scour out the residual packed icy snow on our street. Earlier today we still had slippery slush, but enough bare asphalt for traction. Seems the worst spot in the neighborhood was in the vicinity of our driveway.

Of course, the warmup came AFTER I had hiked to and from Walgreen's to pick up Mom's prescriptions. When I set out on foot, the exits from the neighborhood were still icy and, although the busy streets were basically wet pavement, the side streets were still slick. I marched through several snow flurries, and snow mixed with tiny ice pellets. I was pelted with sideways frozen stuff on the I-5 overpass. I encountered some bare pavement, but for most of the trek I was dependent on my YakTrax. They were not, however, very helpful on linoleum! Oh well, it isn't like I don't need the exercise. I'm thankful that I'm in good enough shape that I can make the trek. I have no idea how far the round trip is. I'll have to measure it in the car.


The clinic is very close to the Town Center Mall, so we zipped over there when my session was over. We drove through some snow flurries on the way to the clinic, but there were patches of blue sky and sunshine when we headed to the mall.

Mom hasn't been able to get out to do any of her shopping. She's sewing a couple of items, and sent away for some gifts, but no visits to the stores yet. She was getting panicky, what with the prospect of more winter weather this weekend. So when we arrived at the mall we went our separate ways. She emerged from the mall with a huge shopping bag (hmmm!). I picked up one more gift for a friend and our holiday box of See's candy.

Back in the burbs, we cleared out our jam-packed mail boxes, and then stopped at the grocery store to stock up in case the weekend is snowy and/or icy. The forecasters say it could get nasty again. Oh well, we're ready. And it's perfect writing weather.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow, Part III

This photo makes one have second thoughts about venturing out on the icy roads in Clackamas County.

The unfortunate driver spent the night in his crunched truck with his Lab puppy. Both were rescued and the driver is being treated for frostbite and injuries from the crash. The location of the accident was on one of the primary roads that I take to the barn, very close to the road where I turn off on my "barnward" journey. YIKES!

Amazing how a split second can give one 20/20 hindsight. I should have left the car in the driveway, I should have made sure the safety was on, I should have picked up the longe line [ :-P ], etc.

Although there are sections of bare street in out neighborhood, the two egresses (which are on a slope up to the busy street) are ICE. Our remaining car has front wheel drive, but no studded tires. So even if we managed to make it through the neighborhood, I doubt we could exit. I've observed some of our neighbors coming and going and I don't know why they aren't sliding, since they're traveling on ice. Kristie Yamaguchi could do axels out there! There has been some melting today, but water and ice are slicker than s---- (nasal discharge)! And I noted with interest that a few of our neighbors have elected to leave their SUVs parked during this weather. So our little Civic is hunkered under a coating of snow in the driveway. Been-there-done-that when it comes to contacting the insurance agent, dealing with the body shop, etc.

I have a great pair of "tire chains" for shoes that allow me to trek the area with some semblance of security. I put them on a pair of waterproof/insulated Ariat paddock boots that I wear when walking Indy. I LOVE my "Yaktraks!"

Indy is still enjoying the weather. He eats snow and bites at the ice. This afternoon he picked up a chunk of ice and was playing with it! If the ice hadn't been a suspicious shade of gray, I would have let him continue. I later found a smaller, cleaner piece of ice that I kicked his way. He ate it, and then tried to bite ice from the street that was frozen solid to tire ruts. What a character!

So we're staying home and preparing for the next winter storm arriving tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow, Part II

Took this photo yesterday at the Xerox Campus during my afternoon walk with Indy. It has a sort of abstract look. The snow doesn't remain piled up like that on a tree limb for long, so I couldn't resist.

The car is happily parked in the driveway. One of the advantages of being retired -- no workplace demands our presence, and we're not burning up vacation time waiting for the thaw.

My ventures outside with Indy give me a chance to scout out driving conditions in the area. Seems most of the streets in our neighborhood and the one adjacent are ice. Yesterday's compacted snow froze overnight and remains frozen. The main road has two clear ruts per lane (except for the sections in the shade) for easier travel. The trick is getting to it.

I must say, I don't feel very confident about risking our safety and our only remaining car when I observe a teenage boy driving a Jeep Cherokee on ice while fiddling with the stereo instead of watching the street.

We discovered that Indy loves to chew ice cubes. Our new refrigerator has a water and ice dispenser in the door and whenever we add ice to a glass, Indy comes running for a cube to crunch. So he is LOVING the snow. The world is one giant ice cube!

Found out my friend Emily is already home from college! And here I thought she'd be in the middle of finals and papers this week between snowball fights on campus.


Great writing weather!

I completed another scene today. Aisley and her traveling companions were jumped by bandits. Eldwyn, the weathered clan warrior, suggests a game of chance to regain their horses and gear as well as safe passage. He knows the bandits will cheat, but Aisley (with her Ability to cast glamours) is his secret weapon. Can she pull it off?

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Snow is a big deal in the temperate Pacific Northwest west of the Cascade Range. So we get excited, stressed and whatever else when we're visited by a significant snowfall.

The above picture was taken on the Xerox campus around 3:30 pm today. The picture below of Indy was taken at the beginning of our walk.

Note the absence of falling snow. Within 5-10 minutes we went from gentle, occasional snowflake to sideways snow flurry.

This is my favorite photo of the day taken right after the shot of Indy:


Friday, December 12, 2008

So Much for the Return of the Barn Schedule

We're getting a blast of winter weather that began today with a drop in the freezing level, high winds, and rain. it was so nasty when I went to the barn today I just ran a brush over Phantom and put him in his stall. I just didn't have the heart to put him back outside in the wind and rain.

Of course, after I left there was a break in the weather. ARGH! Guess I overreacted in the midst of the cruddy storm cell.

The meteorologists are warning us about the arrival of Arctic temperatures and they are pretty much uniform in predicting snow on the valley floor on Sunday. And a chance of snow flurries later in the week. Get this, low temperatures the first part of next week in the TEENs. Not so uncommon east of the Cascades. Very unusual in the valley.

I am a WUSS. I stay home in the snow and ice. I don't ride in the cold. If the roads clear, I will go check on my fuzzy guy, give him a carrot/apple treat, and book on home.

Fluffy Phantom is wrapped up in his medium weight blanket (with two turnout sheets and a fleece cooler available as emergency backups). The barn crew is prepared for the weather with a slew of buckets should (when?!) the automatic waterers can't take the cold. The little barn is snug when closed up and full of horses at night. The horses will get their usual turnouts as long as the ground isn't dangerously slick.

So just when my riding schedule resumes, the weather puts a crimp in it. Ah well. Mother Nature has a sense of humor.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Barn Schedule

(2003 photo file)

After being sidelined for a couple of months with my broken wrist, it is sooo nice to return to my usual barn schedule. I've been gradually increasing my time in the saddle as I feel more solid. Both Phantom and I are still battling the pudge factor after eight weeks off. The Wranglers and schooling chaps are still a bit snug on me, and no way can I tighten Phantom's girth that last hole.

But we're coming along. Cantering only briefly, and just beginning sitting trot work. Phantom is a pretty good guy in spite of my position issues. He gives me beach-ball round and connected moments when I get situated correctly.

Owner Susan has been easing the boys onto their winter turnouts. The girls remain on the huge front pasture all year 'round, but the boys are rotated. The winter turnouts are closer to the barns...yah! Makes for shorter treks during our juicy weather.

The meteorologists are predicting a cold spell for the Pacific Northwest...that arctic front affecting the midwest is heading our way. So I put Phantom in his "warm jammies" today. Switched his turnout sheet for his midweight blanket and neck cover. I even found the connectors for the hood after they'd been packed away all summer and fall! Pat on the back for me.

Indy was a very happy puppy today He got to play with Abby!! I don't think we've seen Boarder Kim and cocker Abby since I rearranged my wrist. Abby was sporting a new blanket...very barn dog chic. We let the pair run loose, since there were no horses in the barns. They had a blast, racing through the barn, cutting cookies outside, zipping into the arena, and back outside to flop in the middle of a puddle. ARGH! Two panting, muddy, thoroughly happy dogs!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Legacy: A Tale of Pennleah

Well, I got Aisley and her two clansmen traveling companions across the scary bridge over the mountain river gorge. One villain took a nasty fall...yeah, into the ravine. But not to worry, another nasty guy awaits.

I continue to scribe by hand. This weekend I managed a couple of chunks of time to work on the story, so that was great.

I'm reading the final book in Cornelia Funke's trilogy: "Inkdeath" ("Inkheart" and "Inkspell" are the first two books). Inspiring and discouraging. Her books are so rich and imaginative that I wonder why I even try. I could never write like that. On the other hand, we write OUR books, not someone else's. And when I've put a draft out for first readers, they seem to think I have a good imagination.

So I'll keep at it.

I'm finding my first drafts are more like a detailed outline. I go from scene to scene with "this happens" and "then this happens." Instead of peeling an onion, I need to ADD layers. Things like sensory detail, revealing character, etc.

And, by handwriting my first draft, the writing seems to be more ME. Not censored through the keyboard. I've done too much business writing directlty on the computer.


Yay! I've got my cards printed and in hand. With envelopes...that fit!

Over the years I've had trouble with empty-headed front counter workers. I bring in a drawing and state that I want to print a greeting card. So the vacuous counter worker thinks I want the drawing printed on 8-1/2 x 11 paper and folded in the middle to go into a business envelope. Sheesh! Hasn't she ever been to Hallmark?!

Then there was the time that the card was printed correctly (card stock, picture on the front of the card, blank on the inside), but the envelopes provided were the interior envelopes used for wedding invitations. No glue on the flap!!

Both my parents and I used to take our drawings to Zapp's in close-in east Portland. No explanation required, they knew exactly what we wanted. But they were bought out by one of the big companies that I used to have trouble with.

So this year I tried the Wilsonville LazerQuick. Lo and behold, they understood what I wanted, made intelligent suggestions, and produced exactly what I had in mind for a reasonable price.

What cards I have left over I use for other occasions -- thus the reason I leave them blank inside. I've tried selling some, but without much success. I'm not really that good an artist, and I print on the cheap, not via fine arts venues.

I also got smart and put our addresses on sticky label sheets this year. My mother's handwriting is deteriorating because of arthritis, which is a shame. She has beautiful writing. But this should make things easier for her. I also write the dreaded annual Christmas letter. But this saves us both from writing the same news over and over to the folks we don't see very often.

So I'll be in Christmas Card World for a few days instead of Pennleah.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fracture Fable, continued

Had my final visit with Dr. S today. The breaks are healed and unless I have a problem, there is no need to come back. Yay! Not that Dr. S isn't a good guy; however....

I have two more appointments with Therapist Heather. With the breaks healed, I'm now doing strength-building exercises. I have a stretch band for resistance work, and yellow putty to squish. I don't know if I'll need to continue with her after the next sessions. I'll have to chat with her.

My left hand still isn't as flexible as the right, but gradually improving. Strength is getting better, at least to the level that I feel confident walking an exuberant dog and riding a contrite gelding. Heather had me use the "squeeze-o-meter" and I registered 30 with my left hand and 50 with my right. I can tell my left hand isn't up to par when I groom Phantom.

Anyway...I'm on the mend!


I'm not doing too badly this year. The best part is, I've got gift ideas for everyone on my list. The great news is, I've completed shopping for at least four folks. So far I'm having good luck locating what I want. I'm not much for shopping online anymore -- not after my account number was acquired by strangers. So I'm doing most of my shopping in person.

I actually completed the drawing for my card last weekend and it is at the printers as I write. My father, the REAL artist in the family, starting drawing pictures and cartoons for their Christmas cards that my mother had printed. Of course, everyone started expecting his personalized cards and couldn't wait to see what he'd come up with each year. So one year I drew a picture, left the inside of the card blank so the leftovers could be used later, and began my own tradition. Now everyone expects unique cards from me. I usually draw a horse or horses, but in the past I've drawn a Sheltie puppy and deer (while still working at ODFW). For Christmas I try to compose a greeting that ties in with the drawing.

The outdoor Christmas lights are "up." I toss net lights over our boxwoods and Japanese maple. I placed the white lights on the boxwoods lining the walkway for Halloween to guide the goblins to the front door. I just left them in place but didn't turn them on. Last week I added the colored net lights to the small maple at the front of the property and plugged in everything to the timers. I love the lights at Christmas and wish people would leave them up through January. It is so dark and dreary during the winter months and the lights really lift the spirits. It's fun to walk Indy and take note as more and more lights go up. Mom and I have taken strolls with the dog(s) on Christmas Eve in the past to enjoy the lights in the neighborhood -- followed by hot chocolate when we got home.

Put our tree up yesterday. We live in the Christmas Tree Capitol of the World and (true confessions) we have an artificial tree. I know, I know. Totally lacks the great smell. But you pay for the fresh tree, get needles all over the place, worry about it drying out, then pay someone to dispose of it. So we have a modest little tree that I decorate a little differently each year, and it works for us.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cousin Trixie

My aunt and uncle added a new family member. Trixie has livened things up considerably since she moved in. Apparently she objected to their phone plan and chewed through the line. They went a whole weekend without phone service until they located the problem!

I was looking forward to our Thanksgiving visit to see how the dogs got along. I was hoping they would play and tire each other out. The initial meeting was confusion on both parts. Trixie was fascinated with Indy's fluff, and Indy wasn't quite sure what Trixie was. They sort of tested each other with the play position, and then took off from there. After one warning, Indy was careful around the much smaller Trixie. She, on the other hand, was much less restrained. Trixie loved Indy's luxurious ruff and fluffy tail. She kept jumping up on Indy and at one point her puppy needle teeth were caught in his ruff. When Indy laid down, Trixie dove into his tail.

After the initial play time, Indy grew tired of his new little cousin chasing him wherever he went. During Thanksgiving dinner, Trixie was placed in her crate to give Indy a break. After we finished eating the four-legged kids were at it again. Indy was a very patient big cousin and allowed Trixie to throw herself at him. Her relentless attention eventually got to Indy again and just before we left he came to me and asked to be a lap dog (all 34 pounds of him). Usually Indy wants down after a bit of hugs and gnawing on whatever I'm wearing. Not on Thanksgiving! He was happy to stay in my lap as a refuge from his tireless cousin.

When we got home, Indy wanted to play and I humored him a little but hey, after Thanksgiving dinner, who wants to chase the dog?! Indy's favorite game is "keep away" where he runs around the house with a paper plate or one of his toys in his mouth while I try to catch him. I chased him a couple of times around the living room. It didn't take long and he was snoozing on the floor near us. We called my aunt and uncle to let them know we arrived home safely and they said Trixie was zonked out after her busy day.

Trixie is supposed to mature at around 10 pounds. Indy will still have the height and weight advantage, but I don't know about the persistance factor. Dachshund translates as badger dog, and one doesn't go down the hole after a badger without a certain amount of determination.

Anyway, the pair of dogs were way more entertaining than a Thanksgiving parade or football game!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Back in the Saddle Again....

(photo by Shared Glory)

Almost two months to the day, I got back in the saddle after breaking my wrist. I wasn't really nervous about riding, since I wasn't riding when I fell. If anything, longeing should have given me second thoughts, but my wrist is much stronger and I was feeling fairly confident.

I longed Phantom outside. It wasn't raining, although it was foggy but not as cold as it's been of late. It seems the gravel didn't bother Phantom's two bare feet. HOWEVER, it's Christmas tree harvest time and the helicopters were active across the road from CEC lifting harvested trees from the field for deposit on the truck. The hubbub didn't seem to affect Phantom. He lived through construction of the big arena barn with hammering, people climbing over the trusses, etc. I longed him for a good 15 minutes to make sure I took the edge off.

Tamra had kindly offered to longe and/or ride Phantom for me and I was seriously considering taking her up on it, then I thought -- I don't want Phantom in better condition than I'll be in when I finally start riding again!! So I let him have a two month vacation. Both of us are pudgier and a little out of shape. Phantom's girth was snug, as were my jeans and schooling chaps! But we can get back into shape and build our endurance together.

I planned on about 20 minutes of walk work, which is basically what we did. Just a wee bit of trotting. Lots of serpentines, circles, work off the wall, up the center line, halts and backing up, forward into a trot from the back, etc. I actually got moments of round, connected walk. Until I messed things up, of course. Tried leg yields, and I can tell that I need to go back to the chiropractor. But Phantom was responsive and quite the gentleman.

Guess I'll keep him. Especially since he met me at the gate with a welcoming nicker!


Boarder Stephanie is moving Keith to a new facility down the road. Personal issues are forcing the relocation. Her departure will leave me as the last of the original boarders. Poor Owner Susan inherited me when she acquired the facility.

Keith is quite the character. A tall and lanky chestnut. Kind of a thoroughbred Gary Cooper, with the pugnacious personality of James Cagney. He rules whatever turnout he's in. If there's trouble to get into, Keith seems to find it.

I've known Steph and Keith about thirteen years? Gosh! That long?! Something like that. Somehow Stephanie has grown up from high schooler to young mother -- yet I haven't aged at all!! ;-)

Anyway, the good news is, Keith will be close and on my route to and from the barn, so I'll still be able to see him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Great Day for Bird Watching

I was bent over cleaning Phantom's feet when I heard an eerie noise -- loud and close. Phantom waited patiently with foot upraised as I tilted my head to listen. Geese! And a lot of them. I finished cleaning the foot in hand and went to the aisle door in the little barn. There they were, HUNDREDS of Canada geese, circling and circling to land in the field just behind our turnouts. I watched the cloud of birds move lower and lower until the geese landed, turning the green field brown. Maybe thirty minutes later something startled them and up the tumult of gabbling geese rose to circle and leave. Resident or passing through? Who knows. We have enough state and federal refuges up and down the Willamette Valley that we have resident geese and ducks to entertain us all winter long.

On my return home from the barn, I slowed as I approached the tricky turn in the street that loops through our neighborhood to make sure the coast was clear to pull into our driveway. I noticed a bird in the street maybe two feet from the curb. Definitely not a robin or jay. It was a kestral. It gave my approaching car an arrogant stare before it flew away into nearby Doug firs with its dinner in its claws...a brown mouse or vole.

I completed the day by enjoying LBBs (little brown birds) jumping from bush to bush as we walked past and thinking it's going to be another cold night if the little guys have come down to the valley. Then I sighted a great blue heron flying over the small park where Indy and I were taking our afternoon walk, flapping its huge wings.

I'm not an avid wildlife watcher, but I love catching glimpses of the critters with whom we share the world. Kind of gives me hope that we haven't completely messed things up yet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lap Warmers

(Moe & Romeo, 2003)


Another cold, foggy day with the sun making a late appearance. It seems the weekend temperatures for our burb south of Portland were 15-20 degrees colder than the "official" temperature at the Portland airport. Woke up to another COLD, foggy morning today. The fog got soupier the closer I got to the barn and when I arrived, it was obvious that I had not bundled up enough. I was thinking maybe I'd be brave and try longeing Phantom. But once at the barn I decided it was too darned cold to do anything. So it was a zoom groom and a bit of free grazing before rejoining his pasture pals.

Boarder Genevieve arrived with plans to longe...and had the same revelation I did. Too cold. Brushing only. Back to turnout.

While chatting with Genevieve, both barn cats made an appearance. Hmmm. Not roving so far afield in the colder weather. Anyway, had some much-missed lap time with Romeo. He of the fluff and bent tail who was MIA for awhile. So glad to have him back. Moe wandered in also for a brief stint in the lap and a tummy rub. Our Critter Control Crew is always good for a lap warming while chatting with fellow boarders.

We got to laughing about how horses are misrepresented in books and movies. You know, the hero must ride a stallion, everyone rides only at a gallop for untold miles each day, the horses never get thirsty or hungry...that sort of thing. I noticed there was a session at the recent Orycon (science fiction/fantasy convention) on how fantasy writers get horses wrong. I didn't have the funds for the convention, but would have loved to have sat in on that one!

Anyway, it was good to see both barn kitties on the premises, in good health, and available for loves.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Legacy: A Tale of Pennleah

Managed to write a little yesterday before we had to get groceries. Put in more hours today (it's a leave the car in the driveway day). Perfect weekend for writing here in the burbs south of Portland. The fog lifted several hundred feet but never cleared -- makng for a couple of cold and dreary days. So no guilt over staying inside to write instead of getting outside (except to walk the dog).

Most recently I've done some backtracking with the story to capture some recent ideas that came from reading "Writing & Selling the YA Novel" by K. A. Going. It's proving to be a helpful book to remind adult writers about the concerns of our younger years. The author inludes representative quotes from young adults regarding what they enjoy in YA novels as well as what grates on them. Frankly, I think that we never REALLY overcome the angst of our teen years. Inside every AARP member is a pimply teenager who is afraid that no one will ask her to dance (or she will turn you down if you ask her to dance).

Anyway...I'm caught up now, so I will once again be forging onward with my writing.

This is another of those stories that has been on my mind for decades. I've done research for "world building," peopled the make-believe world with my primary characters, started a draft of the novel, set it aside, and started all over again with the characters and events.

My problem isn't a lack of ideas. It's remaining focused. While I write on one story, at the back of my mind are other story ideas that periodically distract me. Or a new story idea or character pops into my mind and I'm off and running with "what ifs" about the new concept. *sigh*

Even though I'm out of the cast I'm continuing to write "Legacy" longhand with a fine point ballpoint pen on college ruled (narrow ruled perferred but impossible to find) binder paper. Although I've become accustomed to composing on the computer, the machinery seems to put "distance" between me and the story. Hand writing the original draft seems to flow better for me. I compose in black ink, but use blue and green ink for edits and additions as I'm going along. Red ink to mark insertion points and large chunks of deletions. When finished, I will edit again as I type the story onto the computer. And of course, edit again, and edit again.

As they say at the writer's conferences...whatever works for YOU. this point in the draft, Aisley is on the run with Eldwyn and Kenric. They are entering the mountains and taking a little used track in hopes of evading the Vardienian men-at-arms that are chasing them. However, getting through the mountains requires crossing a rickety suspension bridge across a deep river gorge -- on horseback.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fracture Fable: Physical Therapy, cont'd

Therapist Heather said the best thing I could do is just USE my left hand. Which is what I've been trying to do. I didn't practice my exercises much last weekend, but I did do some yard work until my hand got tired. Clipping back clumps of decorative grass, a little raking, and picking up the obnoxious huge leaves from a neighbor's tree. By the end of the day, I felt like I'd made a breakthrough, particularly in the side-to-side flexibility in my hand.

Yesterday I took Indy into PetsMart (one of his favorite stores) and held the leash in my left hand much as I would a rein (between little finger & ring finger, thumb on top to grip). The Fluffy Puppy was really pulling to check out all the marvelous smells, and my left hand was able to hold him in check. That made me feel good!

Today Heather upped the ante. More reps with the one-pound weight, giant "clothespins" to pinch open and closed, and the killer was a hand squeezer (are we done yet?!). I LOVE the moist heat wrap and massage. I have a new set of isometric exercises for homework to increase wrist strength.

So...making progress.


Our twice-yearly visit to the dentist today after my therapy session. Both mother and I got a clean bill of health. I don't mind getting my teeth cleaned (I swear I have more crowns that Queen Elizabeth!), but could do without the flouride treatment. Eeeuw!

My parents started going to Dr. B. when he was just beginning his practice and had his office in the old neighborhood. When he moved his practice out to east Portland, they continued to see him. I went to him when Kiyara relocated my teeth. I was Dr. B's first horse accident and he was so excited! His wife still works in the office, and assistant Roxie has been with him forever. So it's a welcoming place to go, even if it is the dentist. :-)


I'm continuing to work on the story, even though I'm back to using the keyboard with both hands. Writing the old fashioned way -- ballpoint applied to lined notebook paper. Every incident happens to teach a lesson. For all I know, falling back on this story may have been part of the reason for my broken wrist. (Obviously, being more careful when working around horses was the first message I took from the accident.) Anyway, I'll forge on and see what happens.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tidying Up the Goober Boy

At last! I tackled Phantom's windblown look today...the first time I've driven to the barn by myself since I broke my wrist.

We're having typical western Oregon weather today -- WET. So Phantom's exposed extremities were damp and muddy when I brought him in. The boy was fortunate, since a nasty rain cell hit just as I collected him. So while the other horses got another soaking, he was getting the barber treatment.

Of course, wet tangled hair is harder to brush out than dry tangled hair. *sigh* At one point I was shredding through his mane with a hoof pick...the only way I could get through the rat's nest. Not to worry, Phantom's got so much mane he could spare it. The mysteriously chopped braid lost a 6-7 inch long section of mane when brushed out. Still don't get that one.

I didn't attempt to clean his mane or tail, since it would get dirty right away without a neck cover and tail bag. Too warm for the full neck cover. But his mane is a lot neater now and will be easier to maintain, and I braided his tail for the first time this fall. I did apply Cowboy Magic to his tail, the only way I could get a brush or comb through it.

Anyway, I feel better now that my Goober Boy isn't a TOTAL mess. Phantom was very patient and I believe he enjoyed the brushing (except maybe the hoofpick part).

Indy had a brief visit with Breeze at the barn. With schedules out of whack, the barn dogs haven't been seeing each other and they don't like it. Trainer Tracey reported Breeze was real mopey at the barn the other day, and Indy wants to dash to the big barn in search of his pals.

As I'm writing this Oregon is in the midst of a juicy, windy storm. Coastal rivers are flooding, valley rivers are on the rise, and streets are overflowing where fallen leaves block the drains. Indy rings his "gotta go" bell at the front door and when I open the door to go out he puts on the brakes. "It's yukky out there!" Now he understands why cats do litter boxes!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fracture Fable: Physical Therapy limp rag left wrist is gradually improving.

Monday was my first physical therapy evaluation and session. Physical Therapist Heather measured the mobility of both hands. She had me place my left hand in a weird machine that warmed the joint with hot air and flying corn husk bits. You insert your hand in a "sock" and then into a "box" containing what looks like sawdust. It felt pretty good, actually.

Once the joint was warmed up, PT Heather had me practice one exercise where I hold a highlighter pen in my fingers and simply bend my wrist up and down. Then she massaged my hand.

I've never had a massage, but if it feels as good as my hand massage, I can see why people do it! The hand massage was marvelous!

After setting up twice-weekly appointments for the remainder of the month, Heather sent me home with six exercises. Two of them I was already doing. The others are fairly simple and can be done while doing other things. However, my wrist is SORE. Which means the exercises must be working.

For two weeks I focus on mobility. After 8 weeks from the accident, I can begin on strength exercises.

I'm back to driving, with a little modification in the way I hold the steering wheel when I make turns. Actually, having learned to drive in the era before air bags, I "incorrectly" cross over when turning the wheel (if the bag deployed it would break my arm and probably my nose when the arm was pushed into it). My adaptive steering method is more correct for a car equipped with an air bag.

May have to return to Dr. Cheryl (chiropractor). My muscles and tendons are struggling to return to their prior positions that were corrected by her treatment. *Sigh* When acting up, the muscles make it difficult to walk. Not fun for the dog when I'm limping along behind him.

Saturday, November 8, 2008



It was such a disappointment to discover my left hand was a limp rag after six weeks in a cast. Although Dr. S recommended against a wrist support, I wore one on my first day at the barn sans cast. Just made me feel a little more secure. I am trying to use my left hand per usual. Every so often I bend my wrist up and then down to work through the stiffness. Sheesh! Still frustrated by this whole broken wrist thing.

Oh well. It will get better.

Looks odd, though. A little swollen and a bit offset. The x-rays show all is mending well. Just ain't the same as it was.


Phantom was a good boy, per usual, while getting his feet trimmed. Went with front shoes only. We'll see how this goes over the winter.

He is fuzzing up already. His mane is a mess but yesterday wasn't the day to devote to the major job required. (I understand I owe Chris a thank you for working some tangles out of Phantom's mane while I was on the injured/reserve list.) I'm trying to figure out a way to wash Phantom's mane without a complete shower in the wash rack. I'm thinking I may be able to use a small bucket much as I do with his tail. But I don't want to do that until I switch him to the turnout sheet to which I can attach a neck cover. And it's been a bit warm for that one yet. Temperatures still in the upper 50s and into the low 60s.

I'm thinking of trying a tail bag this winter. I've been braiding Phantom's tail during the winter months to prevent bad tangles, but it still gets muddy. I'd like to try a "waterproof" nylon bag.


Our wandering barn cat was reported to have returned after an extended absence. Yesterday was my first sighting. He spied me also and trotted across the parking area toward me. Just like a dog, Romeo came right up to me to be scooped up and given some love. Since we were on our way home, I only had time for a quick hug and head rubs. I told Romeo not to do that to us again because we were all very worried. I deposited him on the tongue of one of the parked horse trailers where he was surveying his realm as we departed. Good to have him back.


Airborne allergies?!

Indy started the head shaking, scratching, and droopy ear thing in October. I took him to the vet who said his ears looked fine (whew!) and diagnosed it as an allergic reaction. He prescribed pills, gave Indy a shot to get the ball rolling, and we came home. The pills helped considerably but didn't completely clear up the irritiation. So back we went to the vet.

Indy's ears still look good, although the bothersome left ear had some wax, probably stirred up by the scratching and the ear rubs I gave him. Another shot, more pills (higher dosage this time), and an attempt to gradually reduce the medication to as low a dosage as possible to provide relief.

Indy is doing much better. Tomorrow I try one pill a day instead of two. I hope whatever triggered the allergy is gone now that the fall rains are rolling in.


Canby's modest Wilco store moved to a new location where a brand new, super store was built just off Highway 99E. Wilco bought out the much-loved locally-owned farm and garden store and combined the inventories at the new location.

The new Wilco will be a great source for basic horse care items as well as pet supplies. However, I was disappointed by the lack of English gear. I located a couple of English bridles and a few girths. No English clothing at all; a nice selection of Ariat outerwear that can be worn regardless of discipline.

I'm sure the store inventory will adjust to customer demand. I'm hoping that will include more English tack. In the meantime, they've already got a few great gift items for the quickly approaching holidays. There's a good selection of Breyer horses. I can't decide which Saddle Club character I want...complete with horse, tack, and riding attire.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fracture Fable, continued

Yay!! The cast was removed today! My left hand and wrist is covered with alligator skin, but I don't care. The bad news is, I have to go to physical therapy to recover mobility. That means riding will be postponed even longer. The good news is there's no cast in the way!

The shoer is back at the barn tomorrow. I want to discuss putting shoes on front only to save a little money over the winter. Phantom's had "four on the floor" ever since I got him. Guess I kept shoes on him out of habit...I jumped Kiyara year round and always kept her shod. Phantom is a wee bit pigeon-toed in front and his left front is his only white foot, plus most of a horse's weight is on the front end, so I definitely want shoes on the front. But maybe we can give his hind feet a winter of rest to grow in our glorious and gooey Willamette Valley clay. He's usually a very mellow guy for the farrier, so holding him shouldn't be an issue. And I'll treat him to free grazing while waiting his turn.

Thanks again to the CEC crew and boarders for taking such good care of my Goober Boy. Mom is owed a medal for stepping in to do all the driving when I couldn't. She doesn't seem to mind hanging around the barn while I give Phantom a zoom groom. But I'm sure she'll be glad to be relieved of duty soon as our weather turns wetter and colder.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Elect

I guess one has to have some time on the planet to appreciate what Obama's election signifies.

I'm a member of the class of 1968. We practiced atomic bomb drills in elementary school along with fire drills.Teachers made the boys put away the newfangled transistor radios they brought to school to listen to the World Series. The evening news showed police and the National Guard using batons, fire hoses and German shepherds against civil rights marchers. We also witnessed news coverage of foolhardy but brave East Berliners attemptting to cross the wall. The space race excited us and everyone stopped to watch each step of the way to the moon. We learned about President Kennedy's assassination from our teachers before we were dismissed early from school, and then watched the drama unfold on live TV with the rest of the nation and world. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed a month before we graduated from high school and only months later Bobby Kennedy was taken down. We anxiously gathered around the TV when draft numbers were drawn during the Viet Nam War and many of us protested the war in one way or another. As college students we participated in the first Earth Day. When we entered the working world, employers asked young women our marriage status and plans to have children, which would of course interfere with our work.

Each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous one. One generation's enemy is the next generation's ally. One generation's fight becomes a right taken for granted by the next and future generations.

Today children no longer prepare for atomic warfare, the Berlin Wall is no more, space travel is ho hum, everyone is electronically connected 24/7 -- and we now have a black man (1960's speak) elected president of the United States.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not Tagged, But....

Okay, so I wasn't tagged, but I found this challenge interesting. It's making the rounds of some of the equestrian blogs I follow, so I thought I'd try it also.

Here it is: Grab the nearest book at your present location, go to page 56, go to the 5th sentence on that page, and then post the next 2-5 sentences.

From "The Classical Arabian Horse" by Judith Forbis, Liveright, New York, 1976:

Solomon established a relationship with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, by taking Pharaoh's daughter in marriage and bringing her to the city of David. And as a wedding present, "Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gaza, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon's wife" (I Kings 9:16).

Unfortunately, like his Egyptian contemporaries, Solomon fell prey to the charms of Ashteroth, the Eastern goddess to whom the horse was sacred, and he erected places of worship to her. Arab tradition relates that one day Solomon said: "Bring these [David's] horses to me in order that I may get acquainted with their breed and origin." And he spent time studying these horses from noon until sunset, forgetting his midday and afternoon prayers.

Hmmm. Solomon sounds like a typical horse person. Forgetting prayers, food, and other necessities when involved with horses.

Phantom is straight Egyptian Arabian. Although I don't recognize any of his close relations, his fourth generation ancestors are full of famous names, including the above *Ansata Ibn Halima. I see a resemblance, but I'm slightly prejudiced. ;-)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Post Halloween Madness

We actually decorated for the first time this year. Last year I tossed the white net lights over the boxwoods early (usually saved for Christmas lights), which I did again this year. Provides additional light for little hobgoblins, and helps prevent larger ghouls from jumping through our landscaping to the neighbor's. We added stick-in-the-ground seasonal reflectors and draped cobwebs on the front porch. Fortunately, I could work the dead impatiens plants into the scary decor.

We again gave out toys instead of candy. We go to the dollar store and buy party favors in packs of multiples. We went overboard last year and had plenty left over to use this year, but we had so many trick-or-treaters that I opened all our packages from last year. I dump the toys into a large aluminum bowl and let the kids choose what they want. There are still items from previous years in the bowl. I never know from one year to the next what will be popular. This year the bubbles and generic play dough went first. Slinkies were popular too. Since we didn't have many of them, I set aside a few for favorite neighbor kids. The children are usually stumped when I present the bowl because they've been opening their bags for candy to be dropped in. I suddenly present them with a choice and they have to made a decision. The parents are generally appreciative of a toy instead of candy. The children are often excited, and even the older goblins get a kick out of the toys.

I love the littlest trick-or-treaters in their fuzzy costumes. Amazing how many "big" brothers and sisters will make sure to get a toy for littler siblings carried by mom or dad. My favorite costumes were a trio of little girls "riding" pink unicorns. The costumes reminded me of the "horses" worn by the Mouseketeers for some of their western dance routines. The other fun group was a little older. Clad in red and green, they shouted "Merry Christmas!" instead of "Trick or treat!" Three young teen girls were elves, the young teen guy was in bathrobe and hair curlers. What a hoot!

We closed up shop around 8:30 pm when the older teenagers who don't even bother with costumes came around.

I placed Indy in his crate so we didn't have to worry about him getting out. He got a generous treat when released later in the evening and a bit of play time. He likes to play keep-away with a paper bowl or Stouffer's plastic dish.

Anyway...survived another year and enjoyed the clever and cute costumes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fracture Fable, continued

My wrist continues to mend. I'm doing more with my left hand with less pain. The cast itself limits some activities. I've started doing some driving, so my mother and I share trips.

Still giving Phantom zoom grooms. His mane and tail need major work, but the messy braids are holding. He doesn't have dreadlocks yet. Yesterday I cleaned his hooves! Credit goes to the CEC crew who have been cleaning Phantom's feet every so often, which made it possible. I applied some much-needed conditioner and let Phantom free graze for a bit. My Goober Boy nickers when I come get him and even meets me at the gate! He enjoys his grooming, and was good about picking up his feet for me. Whatta guy!

The geldings have been shuffled around again in their turnouts. Pugsley and Bay had to be separated, since they managed to wound each other their first week at CEC! Phantom is now turned out with Pugsley and Dansuan. Dan is another Arabian and a real sweetie!


Mom and I visited Dr. Cheryl, our chiropractor, on Monday. Both of us were waaaay past due for adjustments, and my accident aggravated the hitch in my gitalong. Dr. Cheryl used her amazing laser gadget on me and manipulated a couple of good "releases."

Now if I could only work a a twofer deal with Dr. Cheryl and Miriah for Phantom and me....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vote by Mail

I completed my ballot on Sunday, my mother did hers last night. We're dropping them off at the library today.

There was a lot of controversy when vote by mail was first proposed. There was a fear of increased cheating and coercion of voters (abusive folks forcing family members to vote as instructed). But there was a chance of increasing participation. Oregon eased into the process, beginning with "off" elections first, but now we're using it for all elections.

With the number of states conducting "early" voting, it seems we won't be alone for long.

So...I sort of miss the tradition of going to the precinct, signing in, and marking my choices in the booth.

On the other hand, I recall the after-work rush to get to the polls before closing (usually in the dark and rain), and standing in line with the rest of the after-work crowd smelling of wet wool. And there was always at least one surprise measure or race encountered on the ballot.

I like the opportunity to peruse the voter's pamphlet, collect the political mailings, and spread everything out as I work through the ballot. When I encounter something on the ballot that's a surprise, I have research materials in front of me so I can educate myself and make an informed selection instead of a wild--- guess in the booth.

I don't think the incidents of cheating have increased. Processing the ballots is pretty much the same. The ballot goes into a security envelope that is placed inside the mailing envelope that must be signed by the voter. The whole package goes to the county elections board where signatures are checked. Questionable ones are set aside for validation or rejection. The ballots themselves are locked up until election day when they go through the optical scanner. Any problems at the scanner stage are set aside and a determination made or returned to the voter for clarification. As far as coercion...I don't know. But people in abusive relationships (spousal, elder, etc.) are probably so intimidated that they would vote as instructed in the polling booth anyway. Hard one to prove or disprove.

Anyway...we're done. We can only hope the phone calls stop once our ballots are received at the elections office.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Catching Up


We had our last class this past week (minus Spuds :-( whose person was out of town). The dogs were just like children on the last day of school...all over the place. We did some combination elements and worked the dogs off leash. Pretty funny. Rain was actually much improved and paying attention. But Breeze had to expresss her "greyhoundness" and took every opportunity to run around the barn. All of them were direction challenged. Indy managed to pull off a prize-winning "sit stay." Despite the day's issues, a good time was had by all and at the end of class we let the smaller dogs loose to play. Indy took off in sheep roundup mode, much to Rain's enjoyment. Trainer Jessica is the best and we all hope to work with her again for the next phase of training.


Indy reached the Big Two at the end of September. Mom celebrated her 86th this month. Her sis and brother-in-law (my aunt and uncle) came up to take us to lunch and we had a good visit. As Dr. Cindy says, Mom is doing remarkably well. Her grandmother lived to 100 and she says she intends to do the same. I'm betting she'll make it.


Healing. I can do more with my hand with less pain. Even drove to the barn on Friday. But my hand was a little sore by the time we arrived at the barn and, after I groomed Phantom, Mom drove home.

Rumor has it that Phantom is getting a lot of "sympathy" treats because my time with him is limited. He says he's fluffing up for winter...I say it's pudge.


Two steps forward and one back.

I went back to clean up some areas that needed some help. Now I'm pretty much caught up with where I left off. The words are still flowing, so I'll continue with the project.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Legacy: A Tale of Pennleah

No appointments, no barn visit, no errands. A day of writing!

Interesting how you sit down with a scene in mind. The is cast selected, setting established, goal planned...and you still end up with unintended stuff. My "big reveal" scene turned out to be a set up for the reveal. Upping the tension and preparing for future events.

Now I'm thinking I need to add at least one scene illustrating how isolated Aisley feels. She's not like other young people her age. No one else in Feldan (the town where she lives) can cast glamours.

I also need to do a better job of setting up the magic. After the Blue Death that struck the magical races, most of them fled the Continent, ending the Era of Magic. Only isolated pockets of a few magical races survived -- like those in the far north of the Isle of Pennleah.

And I need to make Vardienian rule more menacing. Think Robin Hood and his fellow Saxons under Norman rule.

I thought when I retired I'd be spending days writing. Ha! My YA novels are still shoved to the end of the day...not my high energy/creative period.


Our newest boarder arrived last Wednesday -- Nacho the paint. Looks like he's settled right in. I believe this fills the barn for the winter, unless one or more sale horses find new homes.

The winter turnouts have been seeded and fertilized. We've had some rain to start the seeds growing. The winter turnouts are closer to the barns so we don't have to go as far to collect our horses. Most appreciated during our horizontal rains.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fracture Fable, continued

Paid a visit to Dr. S yesterday. The most recent x-ray (not this original) indicates all is mending well. The radius will heal a smidge shorter than it started, ending up the same length as the ulna. But at this stage the bones rarely shift, so I don't need to return for three weeks. At that time, Dr. S said "We can cut it off." I did verify that he didn't mean the arm. Whew!


Today was mammogram day. My mother and I scheduled our annuals for the same day and time to carpool. The techs were very considerate throughout the ordeal, however.... Jeez! They wonder why women keep putting off their mammograms! Not a pleasant experience. Then there's the lovely wait for results.


Still plugging along. Came to a pivotal scene, so I backed off to consider my approach. This scene sets up the whole story, so I don't want to just blather.


Indy is loving his classes. Not doing too badly. A little more focused on the treat than the equipment at times. During our last lesson we worked on the table, which was very low for our beginners. Indy jumped onto the table readily -- the trick was to get him to "drop" as soon as he was atop the table, He sort of got it. Later in the lesson we were waiting our turn for the grid jumps when Indy leapt onto the table on his own. Afterall, he got treats when he jumped up before! What a nut.

Those of us who've done hunter/jumpers with our horses were amused by the three "bounce" gymnastic (or grid) jumps for the dogs. Exactly what we've done from the saddle. Little easier to guide the horse from atop than direct our dogs who are smart enough to go around the jumps on a beeline for the treat.

Star for the last lesson was Abby, challenged by Spuds for the cute factor. Breeze by far has the best victory run. Rain has the most potential for breaking the land speed record. Indy has the fluff factor advantage, I think.

Monday, October 13, 2008



Making progress on my new project. Yesterday was a stay-at-home day so I managed to get a lot done. Even though I'm writing longhand, the cast is awkward. Better than the ginormous splint, but doesn't quite rest comfortably at my writing desk.


The report is that Romeo the barn kitty returned yesterday. Yay!!


It's on the mend and I seem to be able to use my hand more; however, I still get zingers when I move my arm the wrong way. Frustrating to struggle one-handed. At least my challenge is only temporary.


Returning to my barn schedule with Mom as driver. Many thanks to Boarder Genevieve for picking out Phantom's feet last week, and much appreciation to the CEC barn crew for continuing to clean out his feet while I'm mending. Also thanks to our "Barn Brat" Tamra for offering to longe or ride Phantom. I'll let the Goober Boy enjoy his vacation for a bit longer.

I've been bringing in Phantom for zoom grooms plus treats and hugs. He hears us drive in and watches from his pasture as I putz around with preparations. He'll even stroll toward the gate when I come get him and give me a nicker.


"Cut" hair again?! Last spring when I was keeping Phantom braided all around against rain and mud, I arrived one Monday to find his forelock undone. I thought the rubber band had come out, but closer examination looked like his forelock had been cut just above the band. A little too straight for another horse to have gnawed off...besides, I couldn't imagine him allowing another horse to chew on him.

My mother and I team-braided Phantom last week. Today it looked like someone had been sawing on the longest braid in two places. There are short hairs sticking out of the braid, not just a few loose hairs, but as if partially cut with scissors or knife. Now Phantom is in a different turnout than he was last spring with our newest horses that he won't even let get near him. So if it's horse caused, it's two different horses. And if it's a sharp spot in the fence or stall, one would think the cut hairs would appear more often and in a similar location.

It is interesting that both instances occurred on weekends. Hmmm.

"Is a puzzlement." ("The King and I")

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fracture Fable, continued

Yea!!! I've got a cast. No more clunky splint.

The Good News: I got my elbow back.
The Bad News: I can rotate my arm. YOUCH!!

Dr. S says all remains in alignment. I go back in one week for x-rays and brief exam. Then wait three weeks for my next visit. That will make it a six week repair job.


Phantom seems a bit confused about my sudden abandonment of him.

With my mother's help I brushed out his rat's nest of a mane yesterday. We were quite the pair. Me with one working hand, and my mother with arthritic fingers. Phantom seemed to enjoy the attention and was very good. I gave him a zoom groom. Can't manage his feet yet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Change of Project

Since I fractured my wrist (with an assist by Phantom) I'm limited to one-handed, hunt-and-peck typing. Not only am I an experienced typist (anyone else learn on a manual?) but I actually use the formatting capabilities of Word. So temporarily losing a hand really affects my work. No way can I do all the selecting, cutting, pasting and formatting required to edit "Quest Schmest."

So I moved to another project.

"Legacy" is a YA fantasy set in the same world as "Quest" but in a different location. I've already done extensive research and plotting for the story that is currently planned as a trilogy. Took a bit to change gears, but I've handwritten a couple of scenes that I will type up later.

"Legacy" is about 16-year-old Aisley who lives on the isle of Pennleah that was conquered by the the Vardienians who now occupy and rule the island. She lives with her father who is a master saddler and her mother, a skilled weaver. Aisley can cast glamours, an Ability that she tries to keep secret because it sets her apart from others. One day, two traveling mountain clansmen from the north stop at the saddlery shop and Aisley learns that she isn't at all who she thought she was. With her life disrupted, Aisley sets out on a journey to discover who she really is and figure out her place in the world.

At least I'm still writing. And there's something about applying pen to paper as part of the creative process that's lost with a computer keyboard.

Monday, October 6, 2008

60th Anniversary

Attended my aunt and uncle's 60th wedding anniversary yesterday. Their children got the ball rolling for a celebration, while nieces and nephews in the area did the footwork. Their eldest son came up from California and eldest daughter from Idaho, and all we cousins (plus family) in Oregon participated. There must have been around 100 people in attendance at the church reception room after services.

My uncle was 20 when they got married and at that time he had to have a parent sign the wedding certificate because he was "under age" -- as did my aunt at 18.

Decorations for the party included fun facts from 1948, such as average wage, house price, cost of milk and gas, and headline events. A collectible page provided information about the wedding. My mother made the wedding gown and "stood" as maid of honor.

My favorite part of the day was the video tape made from old 8mm family films. To see my grandparents alive again -- both were killed by a drunk driver when I was in high school. And my parents in their late 30s. And me with my cousins when we were 9-10 years old. Our family never owned a movie camera, or video it was a treat for me. Remember when children were dressed up for Easter? Dresses with crinoline slips, hats, gloves, purses, etc. The boys in suits and ties. Anyone remember Ramblers? Station wagons? Flat-top crewcuts?

With the divorce rates we have today...will there even be 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries in the future?

Anyway...good to spend time with extended family -- to see how the little ones have grown and ponder how my cousins have aged but I haven't (?!!).

Oh, and when my couin Fred tells you that I broke my wrist in a brawl at a biker bar -- don't believe him. Although there were saddles and leather chaps....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Photo Shoot

So Emily and I had scheduled a photo shoot for last Saturday prior to my encounter with the longe line. I was going to give Phantom a bath and get pictures of me riding him in addition to having portraits taken.

Blew that, didn't I?

But Emily and Michelle were taking photos for class assignments and I didn't want to disappoint them. Michelle was taking B&W film shots and explored the barn on her own. We have to wait for her to develop her film and upload her photos to see how the day went. Emily took about 200 digital photos during our grand tour. She will edit them as she has time for later uploading. However, she did post a few on her blog with a link to Facebook (see link to her blog below).

My favorite is above. Can't see my mug at all, and Phantom's head looks real typy.

I also love the following:

This is Imprint's tail. Emily was going for the Oldenburg brand but got "whoosh" instead.

Indy is expressing my sentiments since I broke my wrist:


Saw Dr. S today and x-rays indicate the bones are still in alignment. The radius broke just below the head and the ulna is chipped. He didn't want to mess with success, so I'm stuck with the clunky splint for another week. Pretty bad when one is hoping for a cast.

Seems Dr. S was riding his bike last Friday and the front wheel went off the edge of a narrow wooden bridge and he slammed face first into the bridge. Yikes! So he was doing the ER waiting bit also.

At least my injury involved an animate object!

Horse-savvy nurses kept checking with me at the trauma center and ER to find out what had happened. Too funny. All horse folks have "war wounds" to chat about, and we've all had close calls doing dumb things.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Grey's Anatomy"...NOT

So all I was going to do was longe Phantom with side reins while waiting his turn with the shoer, Started out with bridle, surcingle, and detached side reins flapping. Phantom didn't have much sass to work off, so I stopped him to attach the reins. I unclipped the right rein and decided the reins needed to be let out, Phantom took a sideways look at the rein and decided he was out of there. He took off and I realized the longe line was tangling around my feet, With visions of being dragged across the arena I frantically kicked my feet free...losing my balance in the process. I landed on my butt but instinctively put out my hand and crunched my left wrist.

Foolishly I hoped it was a bad sprain, but when I pulled off my glove things didn't look right. And there was that whoosy feeling. Not good.

Horse people are the best! Someone caught Phantom and put him away. Owner Susan had an ice bag on me before I knew it, Trainer Tracey drove me to the nearest trauma center for x-rays, and the barn bunch put away my gear. Boarders Mary Beth and Stephanie have my thanks.

X-rays confirmed both bones were broken. My wrist was splinted and I advised them I would be going to the ER within my health insurance group. Thanks to the splint I was able to load up the dog (with help from Jeannie) and drive home. Once the dog was placed in his kennel, my mother drove me to the hospital. We checked into the ER around 3:15 pm. It was 8:00 pm when I was released.

Five hours of mostly waiting. *sigh* No Seattle Grace interns or residents lingering over me. No McDreamy or McSteamy. No sympathetic George or efficient Meredith. Just hanging out on uncomfortable seats while watching Oprah and waiting for the presidential candidates' debate.

I guess the good news was, I wasn't critical. And nurse John kept me supplied with ice packs. The ortho surgeon's excuse was a blow to the face...he was awaiting treatment just as I was. He even had the good sense to have a bit of bruising himself.

The treatment itself didn't take long and, thanks to a numbing shot, it was no worse than cracking a knuckle. I was sent home with a heavy duty splint, a prescription for pain pills, and an unbudgeted co-pay of $75.

The good news is, I'm right handed, I wasn't alone at the barn, and my mother is helping me manage life with one hand. The bad news is, what a pain in the butt!

Ah well, this will pass. No one to blame but myself. But this hunt and peck typing stinks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Indy and Breeze played briefly today. Indy keeps diving under the picnic tables much to Breeze's disgust. She does come on strong and I understand why he's running back to "home base," but the goober pops out to tease Breeze until she chases him again. Indy uses rocks, tables, people -- any available obstacles -- and barrels around them in order to slow down Breeze with her longer stride.

Today Breeze caught up with Indy and mouthed his butt. All she got was Sheltie fluff. Ptui! The last time they played, Breeze snagged Indy's ruff and got a mouth full of hair. Both times the expression on her face was priceless. I can sympathize. Every time I groom Indy I have double-coat fluff in every oriface!


I am amazed. Indy is actually taking to agility. I wasn't sure that he would figure out the equipment, but this week we jumped through the tire (it was practically on the ground, but still...) and ran through the chute (short and straight, but did it the first time). While I was chatting at the end of the class, Indy kept entering the closest chute to sniff out treats. He knew they had to be in there. I thought he might be afraid of it, but obviously not.

All the dogs did well. Even Breeze managed to squeeze her statuesque frame through the chute and tire. Our "ADD" border collie puppy, Rain, made it through an entire hour of training without a meltdown. He is going to be a firecracker when he matures and has more agility training under his collar. Abby, our parti-colored little cocker, took to every obstacle and looked adorable doing it.

Trainer Jessica made us all practice our "stay" exercise. The dogs are to hold it for 1-1/2 minutes by the end of our course. So she timed us. Good golly Miss Molly but 90 seconds is a LONG time! But most of the dogs made it, maybe with a single bobble. Not bad for the first time going the "distance."

I've been throwing in some of our "homework" on our twice-daily walks. Multi tasking -- the fun way!