Friday, July 31, 2009

Back in the Saddle!

You know it's been hot when 94 degrees is a cool down!

The Barn Bunch was back in force today. I only rode Phantom at a walk and trot...after all, it was still hot and muggy. But it was kind of nice to slow things down to a walk to feel my position during leg yields and shoulders-in. Finished with a round and connected trot.

The outdoor arena is open for use! Genevieve and Lindsey took advantage, but I kept inside out of the sun. Even with sun block I start to crisp after 15-20 minutes. So I'll check it out next week.

Had to re-band Phantom's mane today since it was falling apart. His mane is too long and thick to leave natural, so I do a quickie Continental braid. Prevents dreadlocks and keeps his neck cool in this weather. The Goober Boy seems to appreciate my efforts. And he looks darned handsome with the braid that is easier than it appears.

Brought the little Goober Boy out to the barn today, too. Regrettably, his girlfriends weren't there, so he had no one to play with. Too hot to round up imaginary sheep anyway!

By the way -- that isn't my saddle in the photo, but it's a twin.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In Memory


A sweet and gentle soul who was with CEC for all too brief a period.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's Hot Enough to...

...fry an egg!

Official high temperature for today at Pdx was 106 degrees. Here in the 'burbs the mercury hit 108 degrees.

I made a quick trip to the barn to give Phantom a zoom groom, hose him off, slather sunblock on his pink nose, and spray, spray, spray fly repellant. Kim was there doing the same for Finn. And then we were OUT of there!

Owner Susan has been leaving the horses outside overnight, since their stalls are sweltering and they would be miserable inside. The CEC gang have been tossing hay into the paddocks and even spraying the horses with water to help cool them. The stock tanks are kept full and the ponies seem to be doing okay.

Kudos to "The Guys" at CEC for placing the railroad ties around the new outdoor arena this morning. Don't yet have enough to completely encircle the arena, but the guys squared the corners and put down a few ties at the ends and long sides. The crew finished up by noon so they could get out of the heat. That was an effort above and beyond, and much appreciated.

But hey! We're cooling down tomorrow. Only 101 degrees predicted!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today's official high temperature in the 'burbs: 106 degrees.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"We're having heat wave...

...a tropical heat wave, the temperature's rising, it isn't surprising...."

With a nod to Irving Berlin.

It is 103 degrees in the 'burbs as I compose this. We are predicted to have at least two more days in the triple digits and the experts say we haven't had three 100-degree days in a row since 1981. I seem to remember one August eons ago when we had something like 4-5 days of 100 or more degrees. Anyway, it's HOT here in the Valley and unseasonable for our temperate climate.

It was shoeing day at the barn for several of the horses, including Phantom. I brought him in from his turnout, gave him a good brushing to address the itchy spots, hosed him off and then doused him with fly repellant after a good squeegee off. Phantom free grazed near Impy while the horses ahead of him in line got new treads and rims [ :-) ]. After Phantom was trimmed and his front shoes reset, I slathered his hooves with conditioner, sprayed on another layer of repellant, and turned him out. With this heat, if I make it back to the barn it will be a repeat of the brushing, hosing, and spraying. Definitely no riding at these temperatures.

It was fun to hang out with some of the Barn Bunch as we held our horses for and/or waited our turn with the shoer. We don't always have a chance to just stand around and chat, since everyone has such busy schedules.

Left the fluffy puppy at home today so he wouldn't swelter at the barn in his double coat. He didn't see it that way and is keeping close to me this evening.

However, without the little Goober Boy hanging around at the barn, Juliet the kitty made an appearance. Had a little lap time with her. Very sweet girl.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Stills: Toys

These aren't artistic studies by a long shot, but all are full of fond memories.

My father's Buddy L fire truck:
My father received the ladder truck and his younger brother received (I believe) the pumper truck for Christmas one year. My uncle's truck is long gone, but this truck resided in our basement for decades and even I played with it some. It is now on display above the kitchen cupboards.

My shoe skates:
These were a prized possession and much longed for back in the era of clamp-on skates. No matter how tight one cranked the clamps with a skate key, they inevitably worked loose, fell off, and the wearer when flying. Lots of scrapes, bruises, and (I'm sure) broken bones attributed to clamp-on skates. Thus, my passionate desire for shoe skates when they first appeared in the Sears catalogue. These skates accrued many miles along the sidewalks of Buffalo Street.

My little red wagon:
My wagon was placed back in service as a plant stand and was a constant companion during 25 years of apartment living. A couple of years ago the cable guy commented on the "antique" wagon. I guess you're officially "collectable" when your own toys are labeled antique. *sigh*

Snow sled:
Back in the day, Portland usually experienced one good snow event each winter. But most of the time my sled lived in the basement. It made a few forays down the neighbor's driveway when we had enough of the white stuff. One year when I was in high school we had an early snow fall and my two best friends and I used the sled to collect a Christmas tree from the sales lot at Holy Redeemer Elementary School.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New and Improved Outdoor Arena

Yay!! The new and improved outdoor arena is finished!

When the boarding facility first opened as Renaissance Farm, the outdoor arena was all we had. Co-owner/Trainer Cathi and her family erected light posts so we could ride in the evenings after work, but the Valley's wet winters "done us in" and we missed many riding opportunities on rainy days and nights.

Then the covered arena was constructed and the boarders happily moved under cover.

Sadly, the outdoor arena was neglected, and the under layer of gravel migrated upward until the footing became a bit rough for tender-footed or barefoot horses:

Then our dreams of a place to ride outside came true this month when Owner Susan and Mark of Efficient Arena negotiated a deal and construction began:

Here is the finished arena, laser leveled and awaiting placement of the railroad ties stacked in the foreground:

TuMay and Liberty were oblivious today, but both girls will appreciate the new sand footing:

And here are my two Goober Boys enjoying a pleasant summer day beside the new arena. Phantom sponged off and doused with fly spray following my ride, and Indy hanging out by the "pikinik" table:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Honest Scrap

This is the second time I've received this award, so I guess I'd better respond. Most recently A Good Horse honored me. This Kuntry Girl tapped me first. I am supposed to link back to the presenter(s), express ten honest things about myself, present the award to 10 additional bloggers and let the recipients know they've been so awarded.

Hmmm. Well, I don't know as I can meet all the requirements, but here at least are the Ten Truths:

1. I love my cross-generational horse interest. It doesn't matter our age or area of interest (western, English, hunters, dressage, etc.), horses connect us all. We share the same joys and dilemmas, whether short-stirrup or long stirrup.

2. I'm an Anglophile. No, that's not something naughty! I love all things British. Maybe it's all those books I read as an English Major. Ya think?

3. I went to the same high school my father did -- 30 years later. Jefferson High School just celebrated its 100th anniversary.

4. German chocolate cake is my favorite for my birthday.

5. I'm a book addict. I buy way more books than I can read and I have shelves filled with books to be read as well as those I've read but don't want to part with.

6. Some of my warmest memories are summers with my grandparents in Lebanon, Oregon. My skin tender with sunburn, the three of us savoring raspberries picked from the backyard sprinkled over vanilla ice cream, settling in to watch Gunsmoke on the black & white television.

7. I like really thick books that immerse the reader in the setting (real or fantastic) and then take the reader along for an extended journey. When I read the final page and close the book, I'm amazed at how far the author took me. And yes, I've read War and Peace.

8. Sure, I want to be published. I acknowledge that I'm not a literary writer. I've settled into the YA niche that I think will be a good fit for my style of story telling. I would like to be a writer like Dick Francis, who improved with each novel, and Beverly Cleary, who makes people smile fondly with recollection.

9. I love retirement: No heels, dresses, or makeup required. Jeans, jeans, jeans! T-shirts, sweatshirts, and fleece. Riding in the daylight! Avoiding weekend and after-work crowds when running errands. Writing what I want to write. I can take my time to read through the paper while eating breakfast and refilling my coffee cup. No rush hour traffic. I just hope I can remain retired.

10. I've never had a "significant other." Yes, it gets darned lonely, and it's rugged getting by on a single income (especially keeping a horse). Sometimes it's nice not having to answer to someone else. And sometimes its awkward always being the odd one out.

With apologies if you've already done this exercise, I'm forwarding the Honest Scrap Award to:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Passages and Anniversaries

One the the aspects of aging is the passage of the people who have "always been there." It begins with grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and others from the generation removed. Then it is your parents, their siblings, and other members of their generation in prominent positions. Eventually it will be your contemporaries.

Walter Cronkite was, for many Baby Boomers, the guide through adolescence into adulthood. I recall watching "You Are There," a television program that reenacted pivotal historical events with Cronkite "on site" reporting the "breaking story." Cronkite became the CBS news anchor in the early 1960s. This was the era of a television in every home. Instead of gathering around the radio to learn the details of the Hindenburg or Pearl Harbor, we sat in front of the television to watch live action. Keep in mind that this was a new concept, everyone in the nation watching the same news story at the same time.

Walter Cronkite was there to guide us through President Kennedy's assassination, Oswald's shooting, and then the solemnities of a presidential funeral. From Cronkite we learned about Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination as well as Bobby Kennedy's murder. He provided nightly updates on the Viet Nam War and visited the battle front, as he'd done during World War II and Korea. Conkrite's enthusiasm for the space program was contagious and we were educated along with him about rocket ships, space capsules and lunar modules. Cronkite was there to explain Watergate as we saw a burglary evolve into Congressional hearings every bit as fascinating as a soap opera.

Of course, Walter Cronkite wasn't really part of our lives and we didn't really know him. But his was the face and voice that introduced us to events that would shape our world and Cronkite helped explain what they meant at the moment and for the future.

I read in today's paper that the median age of U.S. residents is about 36, which means half the people in the US weren't alive when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon.

*sigh* Difficult to explain how exciting it was at the time. Sad to think how quickly the Apollo missions became "ho hum." Even sadder to consider how mundane are space shuttle take offs and landings today.

Personally, I wish we had pursued the space exploration program with the same priority it had during the Cold War Space Race. The argument against the space program is the expense. Yet the same people who propose cutting the NASA budget want to fulfill contracts for airplanes that the Pentagon no longer desires and keep open unnecessary military bases -- because these costly efforts provide jobs for the voters in their districts. Like the Space Program doesn't provide even better paying jobs, as well as develop innovations that make it into our every day lives.

I'd rather have my tax money spent on space travel than wars. But I'm a science fiction buff, so I'm prejudiced.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Stills: Awww Nuts!

These "future filberts" (aka hazelnuts) were the best I could come up with for this challenge.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dressage at Devonwood 2009

Trainer Tracey and Chynna:

You know you're at a horse show when when:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Barn Bunch, and More

The Barn Bunch gathered last night at a nearby bar and grill for an impromptu fun evening. The usually quiet restaurant was unexpectedly overflowing, so we appreciated their efforts to serve our rowdy group. Amazing how lively we can be when not exhausted after riding and tending to our horses. And we clean up good, too! :-)

Conversations included a lot of horse talk, but not exclusively. The volume of laughter indicated that a good time was had by all. The evening was a reminder of why this group of people is so special.

We are looking forward to a Barn Bunch Barbecue later in the summer.

Dover Saddlery

I am awaiting a saddle bag in the original colors ordered, and a postage-paid mailing label for returning the bag with the reverse colors.

This is the first time I've ever had an order from Dover go so wrong. They have good sales and carry products I don't find in-store locally, so I want to be able to trust that future orders will be handled correctly.

Legacy: A Tale of Pennleah

Argh! One more scene to complete Chapter 8 followed by a mini edit of the whole chapter.

Water Tribute

This is my fallback story. When not drafting Legacy, I'm revisiting my draft of Water Tribute to reorganize and rethink the scenes.

Space Opera

This is the working title of a story that's been knocking around for years. A couple of recently read books have somewhat changed my approach to the tale. I'm currently taking notes from one of the books.

Now, neither of the books is remotely science fiction. One was a mystery set in 1930s Shanghai, the other is nonfiction about 1950s Havana. But both have elements that I want to tweak and apply to a young adult science fiction story. So we'll see if I can pull off what I have in mind.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This is my custom dressage saddle bag purchased with some of my birthday money. Interestingly enough, my trusty old hunter saddle bag doesn't fit my dressage saddle. Go figure.

This is the second half of my problem order from Dover. Somehow I suspected the problems would continue...and they did. The invoice states the custom bag should be black, with red trim. As illustrated above, the colors are reversed.

I've never had problems like this before when ordering from Dover Saddlery. But then, I generally place my orders via snail mail, not online. Something must have happened in the mysterious ethers of the Internet, because this order was cursed from the beginning.

I guess I'll keep the saddle bag. I'm afraid to return it in the event that: (1) I never get a dressage saddle bag back at all; or (2) They send me another red bag with black trim.

In the greater scheme of things, it's no biggy. But, gosharoonies!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hands Free Cell Phone

The Oregon Legislature recently adopted a law that will require drivers to use hands-free cell phones effective January 1, 2010. But today I encountered a driver who's ahead of the game!

I was nearing the barn on a straight stretch of two-lane rural road with a large black pickup coming toward me on the opposite side of the road. Barely. He was hugging the center line and I just had bad vibes about the approaching vehicle. So I slowed down and eased toward the fog line on my right. There is no shoulder on this road, just a ditch. So if the black pickup drifted into my lane, I didn't have much room to maneuver.

The truck eased off the center line a smidge as it went by me, and I took a gander at the driver. He had his cell phone in his right hand, and his left hand was out the open window gesturing in accordance with his conversation. Yep, hands free. No hand on the steering wheel!

Now, if people want to do stupid things like that and eliminate themselves from the gene pool when they crash into a tree or concrete abutment, fine. But when an a**#@^$ driver like this guy has no regard for my life, nor the life of other drivers with whom he shares the road, it ticks me off!

Not only was this idiot driving hands free -- he was driving brains free!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Stills: Texture

Back deck:

Door mat on the deck:

Rock with moss:

Rusty chrome:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Country Classic 2009

Horse shows have been affected by the current recession...including The Country Classic. This particular competition has had its past struggles, but the show must go on!

The Country Classic was downsized considerably this year. Usually it is a social event as well as a horse show, and it encourages the non-horse population to join the hunter/jumper set for a weekend in the country. Regrettably, this year the social aspect was eliminated. But we can hope all the amenities will return in the future. After all, this show was resurrected from death and has gone on to thrive.

For horse folks, the most painful loss was that of the Grand Prix Ring where "The Log" resides. The huge turf pasture requires a lot of tender loving care to prepare it for the show, and this year it was just too much for the budget.

But The Country Classic did have all the usual hunter/jumper sights.

The warm up area maze:

Intense riders, young and old:

Flying pigtails in the pony hunter ring:

A wide assortment of show dogs (and I don't mean AKC):

And of course, the Horse Show Parent:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Connecting on Facebook

Or not.

Em and I both have Facebook pages. She responsibly has her page protected. But sheesh! Did we have a time locating each other to become "Friends."

Finally! We are now officially "Friends" and I got to view her awesome photos from Australia.

Not to discredit Em and her artistic abilities...but Queensland makes it easy to get fantastic photos. I have one I took in 1984 where the water is an aqua color that looks absolutely fake.

Anyway -- I need all the friends I can get. I'm glad my First Reader and I are further connected via the mysterious Internet ethers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Boarding Stable in Area seems a new boarding stable has opened close to home. Actually, an existing barn under new management. So I visited the web site out of curiosity.

Now, Phantom is a charter boarder at CEC. He's been there since before the covered arena was built, and he seems happy as a clam, and I have no issues with the management or fellow boarders. So I'm not looking to move him. But when a stable opens up just a couple of miles from home, one checks it out.

The web site doesn't make it clear who owns the facility. Are they horse people, or investment dabblers?

The trainer/barn manager seems to be a young woman initiating her career. She mentions working with some area trainers who have good reputations, but doesn't indicate how long she was associated with these folks. One weekend clinic? A few months? A year or more? The web site has pictures of the trainer riding dressage (a couple of which raise questions with me) but apparently she also trains hunter/jumpers.

Everyone has to begin somewhere, but I don't recognize the trainer's name from area show results. If I was to move my horse to a barn for the purposes of training, I would like to know that the trainer is active locally in my preferred equine pursuit.

The full-care board is less than I'm paying now for apparently very similar care. But my current barn uses a reputable hay broker who has ironclad sources in eastern Oregon. And the owners of CEC have years of experience with horses and have demonstrated that the welfare of the horses is priority number one. Since I've never before heard of the trainer/manager, and don't know who actually owns the facility, there isn't much data on which to base a decision.

Boarder Genevieve and I have talked about the horrors of barn shopping. She was dependent on non-horsey family members to locate a boarding stable before she returned to the area. "It has fences and a barn" was sufficient for the family member. But for those of us who care about our horses, there's much more than that to consider when locating a facility. There are sooo many variables when barn shopping! Basic safety, knowledgeable and responsible caregivers, activities offered, and the intangibles -- that " gut feeling" that it's the right or wrong fit for owner and horse.

However, I am happy to see yet another horse facility open up in the burbs. Our local Chamber of Commerce has taken an interest in the regional horse "industry" and hopes to promote the area as an equine recreation destination. Few people realize how much horse folks and related businesses contribute to the economy.

So I wish the new boarding stable well. One never knows what the future has in store, so the more stables to choose from, the better. I am very fortunate that there are several good boarding stables at various price points in the vicinity.

Even though Phantom and I are happy where we are.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Stills: Wild Flowers

I don't know if the flowers are "wild" or "feral," but these are the blooms I captured.

I liked the yellow against the red of the barn:

These "daisies" are rampant in the round pen (where the following were located) as well as the winter paddocks:

These were growing near the parked horse trailers:

The horses eat Queen Anne's Lace and it amazingly improves their breath, like eating a mint.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bath Day

Another hot day in the Valley. Hot for this temperate region, that is. So I debated as to whether I would ride and decided it was an excellent day for a bath. Generally, when I give Phantom a bath, I get one too. Trying to scrub his mane somehow always ends up with me getting doused. So here are a couple of pics of the Goober Boy drying out after a brief stint in the wash rack.

I got brave and brought my new Canon out to the barn for the latest Sunday Stills challenge. Stay tuned for the results.

In an attempt to get accustomed to the camera, I took pony pictures. But how exciting can a grazing horse be? Tried some inside photos of Finn on the longe line, but they didn't turn out. *sigh* Too much movement and not enough light.

Still figuring out the Canon program, but discovered I can play with the downloaded photos using the Kodak EasyShare software that I'm familiar with (with which I'm familiar?). So I made some edits and added a few more pics to my Flickr site.