Thursday, December 31, 2009

Transitioning to 2010

Covered Bridge (sketched from a photo in 1979)

I don't know if the bridge I drew is located in Oregon, but we have a goodly number of them, particularly in the mid-Willamette Valley. Just seemed appropriate, somehow. Crossing over into a new year, feeling battered by the old year.

2009 was such a lousy year for so many people. Some lost loved ones, their homes, life savings/retirement accounts,etc.

A good friend lost her filly to colic after breeding, rearing, and initiating the bright chestnut to saddle. I just learned of her loss and it brought a stream of tears. My friend and I had a thing for our "red-headed" mares, fiery temperaments and all. I still miss my little red gal.

For me, 2009 was not as bad as some years past. But any more I'm counting it a good year when it's dull, dull, dull.

My mother received serious medical news from her cardiologist, was placed on oxygen 24/7, and had three bad falls this summer that resulted in visits to the ER. Fortunately, no broken bones. But the spills and recovery took a lot out of her.

I was recuperating from my broken wrist at the start of 2009. All better now except for an occasional twinge to remind me that it's been remodeled.

The horse and dog had no issues during the year. Whew! Other than Indy causing a couple of my mother's falls. :-(

Financially...we were already living modestly and didn't notice much change in our lifestyle. The good news is, my 2010 health insurance premiums will be close to what they were in 2009. So my budget will remain relatively the same. In this day and age, that's a great relief.

Most of our family and friends are doing okay. That's good news whatever the calendar reads.

Resolutions for 2010? I didn't make any. I do hope to lose a few pounds, but probably won't. I'd like to participate in our small, in-barn dressage clinics if more are scheduled. That's fairly doable. I would like to complete and edit a novel into "pitchable" shape for the Willamette Writers Conference in August. I'll try. We'll see. I need to win an Oregon Megabucks or Powerball lottery in 2010. Ha! I'd like everyone to be genuinely surprised that I'm *0 when I hit another milestone birthday in 2010. That could require some airbrushing.'s to a happy and prosperous 2010 to everyone.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's Back!

I saw the neighbor's frosty roof on my first peek out the window. It looked awfully white and heavy, so I investigated further. Another morning of frozen fog, but so heavy it looked like snow!

Indy enjoyed our morning walk to the nearby city park, licking up frost the entire way.

Then while eating breakfast I glanced out the window and it was "snowing!" Very fine, powdered sugar stuff. I wasn't sure if it really qualified as snow or just crystalized foggy moisture. Anyway, it had the effect displayed above. A quick pic from the front porch.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Stills: Odds and Ends

Mismatched spurs with an old pair of my string gloves:

Musical odds and ends from Dad and Grandpa:

WWII odds and ends from Mom:

No better way to conclude;
one of Dad's paintings of musical odds and ends:

Check out the efforts of contributors to Sunday Stills.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

White Christmas After All

Christmas Day began with freezing fog that coated everything with a dusting of white.

The fog dampened the noise of what little traffic there was on the road...much like the effect of snow.

Indy loves to eat snow or, in this case, frost. Here he is in his jaunty red Christmas kerchief with a smudge of frost on his nose:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Very Merry

Hope your holidays are warm and fuzzy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

True Confessions

I haven't worked on "Legacy" for weeks now. I stumbled on a climactic scene and, other than adding a sentence or two, I haven't pushed through the problem.


My First Reader, Emily, will rag on me for this. I'm in deep doo doo.

But I have been working on my writing -- sort of. I started research on a story idea I've had for some time. The working title is "Resistance Fighter" which isn't an accurate description of the story line but that's what sparked the idea for the tale.

And I've started brainstorming scenes for "Water Tribute." I've been working on this story for decades and have half a rough draft. But I've reworked it using Larry Brooks' "Story Structure" for the outline, and I'm sketching scenes using Laura Whitcomb's Shortcut-to-the-Scene from her Novel Shortcuts.

(By the way, Brooks says Writer's Digest Books has picked up his "Six Core Competencies" for publication!!)

So...not as productive as I'd like to be, but still playing with words.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Too Funny

Australian photographer Julian Wolkenstein uses "pony pinup style," or horses with hair extensions, to shoot an advertising campaign. But coming up with the idea was the easy part, of course. “The horses didn’t cope well with the lighting and direction,” Wolkenstein, 37, complains. “Each horse had four hours of grooming and styling before coming onto the set. Then they would shake their heads and we would have to re-dress them.”

Came upon this in the September 2009 issue of Reader's Digest.

Find more of Wolkenstein's unique commercial photography at his web site.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Too Good to Be True

You know when your holiday preparations are going's too good to be true.

My father, the artist and musician, used to draw the family's annual Christmas cards and everyone looked forward to his artwork and cartoons. I can sketch a little and, somewhere along the line, I started doing the same. Now folks expect unique cards from me.

I usually make a sketch of an equine scene, have the picture printed on card stock, and place a seasonal message on the inside. The leftovers can be used as notecards for any occasion.

Here's an example of a past card:

I can't remember what holiday message I used for the above, but you get the idea.

So I had the cards and envelopes for this year printed and ready to go. Mailing labels were ready to peel and stick. Typed the message and cut it out with scrap-booking scissors. Swiped the message with a glue stick and pasted it inside the pre-counted cards.

Moving right along. Piece of cake. Holiday cards will be completed in plenty of time this year.

Do you hear the ominous music in the background?

Turns out, I pasted the message onto the wrong side of the cards! Every one of them was stuck to the back of the picture instead of the interior of the card where the greeting should be read when the card is opened. That's what I get for watching The Philadelphia Story while working on cards.

Of course, the glue stick worked marvelously and removing the message only leaves behind an unacceptable torn mess. ARGH!

I've messed up an envelope or two in past years, but this is the first time I've completely ruined the cards!

So it was back to the printer today. The replacement cards should be ready by Thursday. Meanwhile, I'll work with the cards that are left.

Everyone knows Christmas preparations never go smoothly. What was I thinking?!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thawed Out

His Fuzziness, The Goober Boy:

Temperatures finally moderated on the west side of the Cascades, but not without lots of problems. Saturday was a treacherous icy transition in the southern end of the Willamette Valley, resulting in several serious traffic accidents.

After dealing with frozen stall waterers, ice-blocked pipes, and skating-rink water troughs in the turnouts -- Susan and Chris had to deal with burst pipes in the little barn that flooded the tack room and feed room. No tack ruined -- everything was up off the floor and a couple of pair of boots were snatched to safety. Most of the feed is kept in garbage cans, so the loss was minimal. Kudos to them and all stable owners and managers who tend to our horses during extreme conditions.

During last week's Deep Freeze I made a couple of quick trips to check on Phantom. Today was my first day back in the saddle. Just walk work to get him relaxed and bending. I did alternating 10 meter circles down the center line to work on me and Phantom.

Since the horses are gradually being introduced to their winter paddocks, I immediately turned out Phantom when finished instead of letting him free graze. As expected, the Arabian "herd" was the most sensible of the geldings. (wink) Phantom, Pugsley, and Dansuan settled quietly into their winter digs. The rest of the geldings were goofballs when transferred to their winter turnouts. Must have been giddy over the new growth of grass.

Moe, the senior member of the CEC Critter Control Staff, was poking around the little barn and demanded lap time. So I complied. He's the lone survivor of the original staff and deserving of some loves.

Indy was a little miffed that I was directing my attention elsewhere, and to a cat! Then, when Mufasa and Scar decided to join Moe, poor Indy was really perplexed. Adding insult to injury, the youngsters hissed at Indy who was greatly distressed by the turn of events.

So on the way home I made up to Indy by taking him for a walk on a path I rarely visit. In fact, I think it was his first time at the locale. All was forgiven.

Now we go from temperatures in the teens to 50+ degrees!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

No Wonder....

No wonder my money doesn't go as far as it used to.

It appears that my net income is 55% of my gross annual income.

Health insurance premiums (medical and dental) come to 24% of my gross income. Add in federal and state income taxes...and I'm left with 55% of my retirement benefit to live on.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Princess Trixie Diary

Indy and Trixie

Trixie returned home yesterday. Made for a quiet evening and much less complicated (but less interesting) morning walk.

Trixie was beside herself when she discovered my aunt and uncle on the front porch yesterday. Piddly, wiggly, dancy doxie! Definitely one happy puppy.

My aunt reported that Trixie vociferously reclaimed the yard and house as her own upon arrival. Once inside, Trixie pranced through her premises.

It will be fun to watch Indy and Trixie when reunited at Christmas. Could be a rambunctious meeting!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Stills: Pets

Fluffy Puppy
One of Indy's favorite sleep poses. He wedges himself against the sofa and rolls over onto his back. "Fluffy puppy" is self explanatory.

Who? Us?
Indy and Trixie called a time out while playing as soon as the camera came out. But I think these poses tell it all.

One third of the CEC Critter Control Staff. Brother Scar was mauling a mouse on Friday. "Good mouser. Now gnaw on it elsewhere!"

Visit Sunday Stills for more photos.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Princess Trixie Diary

Trixie models the latest in canine rainwear.

Trixie is scheduled to return home tomorrow. I can't wait to see her reaction when her "Mom" and "Dad" appear at the door.

Indy and Trixie have taken to regular play periods recently. They've had brief moments of play since Trixie arrived, but within the last week they've taken to playing for extended periods. One night they were wrestling and chasing for half an hour! They are hysterical to watch. Trixie jumps on Indy and bites at his ruff -- ending up with a mouthful of hair. Last night she looked like she had a gray goatee. Indy is so much larger than Trixie, but he gets down to her level and even rolls onto his side as they tussle. During the run and chase portion of play, either Trixie runs underneath Indy, or he leaps over her.

Trixie arrived with food, treats, toys, crate, and her established habits. We'll be sending her home with some new expectations. Like two good walks per day (full of sights and smells), peanut butter mixed in her breakfast, an ice cube to crunch when I fill my glass from the refrigerator dispenser, a bite of banana when I slice one up for breakfast, and evening lap time when my mother reads the newspaper.

Who's a spoiled puppy?

I wonder how Indy will take her departure? His single-dog kingdom was conquered and occupied by the little German Princess. She confiscated ice cubes, treats, and Indy's space beneath the table at meal times. Then again, Indy seemed to enjoy her company during our twice-daily walks, and their romps through the house.

It will definitely be a new adjustment when Princess Trixie returns home.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Princess Trixie Diary

Flying Ears

Trixie = 2, shoes = 0

We were forewarned that Trixie had a penchant for gnawing on shoes. So the damage is all our own fault.

Trixie chewed on a slipper in my mother's open closet. Fortunately, it was one of a pair of slippers that she didn't wear because they don't fit.

I took a shower the other day and tossed my clothes on the bed and placed my Ariat paddock boots on a chair. Now, these are a pair of paddock boots that never went to the barn. I used to wear them to work and with jeans. They are (were) at least ten years old if not pushing 15. Still wearable, but well seasoned.

Anyway, I must have left a lace dangling over the edge of the chair because after the shower I discovered one boot on the floor well gnawed around the top. Now the pair are goners.

Miss Trixie must be watched at all times or you never know what she'll get into.

Miss Trixie believes it's only right that she's the center of attention. ;-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why I Love My Horse

It was "barber shop" day at the barn. Instead of riding I brushed out and re-banded Phantom's mane before doing some Christmas shopping. While I was chatting with Genevieve, both Mufasa and Scar jumped up onto Phantom's back.

G. captured these photos with her cell phone, since I'd left my camera at home on the dreary, cloudy day (lousy light).

Not only did Phantom not flinch when the kitties leapt onto his back -- he was half asleep as they curled up around each other. About all he did was grinch when a set of claws were extended. After the first kitty jumped down I removed the second one while there was still peace in the barn aisle.

Phantom is definitely a keeper!