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.