Thursday, July 29, 2010


As evidenced by my photos for the most recent Sunday Stills, I spent a day at Dressage at Devonwood with Genevieve. Since it was her first dressage show (she's an avid jumper), I thought she would find the musical freestyle most entertaining. G was duly impressed with the facility and its picturesque location, admired the gorgeous horses, and appreciated the hard work that went into training and presentation. However, she admitted that she would find dressage boring. She's a higher-and-faster kind of gal.

Ah well, that's why there are so many equestrian pursuits.

I took a ton of photos, some of which are posted on my Flickr site.

The above photo is Edwin Miller on Lord of the Ring. I love the look of concentration on his face. One of the things I most love about riding is the total absorption required of the rider. A momentary escape from all the stresses yammering at us. By the way, Edwin is the current president of Oregon Dressage Society.

This picture was a quick telephoto snap. I call it "Done for the Day." Since temperatures were in the 90s, coats were optional for competitors. I liked the wee bit of dust kicked up by horse and rider. Kind of suited the feeling of trudging back to the barn after hours of preparation for the day's ride.

Love, love, love this guy! Toandos Mountain Man with Bernadine Diers in the irons. Monty is a Welsh cob owned by Sheryl Rudolph, founder of Fun in the Saddle.

G and I weren't the only ones who loved Monty. He took the USDF Musical Freestyle championship. I noticed that Bernadine was smiling in most of the photos that I took of this pair. Isn't it great when the trainer loves your horse as much as you do?

Had to tour the vendors, of course. That's half the fun of a show! The first booth we stopped at was Ansur Saddles. We were forced (No, really. She made us!) to sit in the saddles for our respective disciplines. Okay...we leapt at the chance to try out the saddles. Didn't take us long to promise to buy each other a saddle for Christmas. If only!

We found these shoes at the Glisan Street Saddlery booth. Soooo G! Note that, not only are they so cool, but rideable, too! "Wicked Rider" by Mountain Horse.

And they come in pink!! Wicked, indeed!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sunday Stills: The Rule of Thirds

This week's challenge was "the rule of thirds." The subject should occupy one third of the photo (top or bottom, left or right). Took my Canon PowerShot SX10IS to Dressage at Devonwood in Sherwood, Oregon, for an afternoon of musical freestyle.

Dressage under the shadow of Mt. Hood.
(This is the large warm up ring.)

Welsh cob cantering beneath the firs.

Waiting for the bell to enter the dressage court.

Cantering the corner with a view of the valley.

For more examples of "the rule of thirds," visit Sunday Stills.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Bats in the belfry? No, bats in the arena! Three of them. Two, ahem, apparently mating. I averted my eyes to give them privacy.

Not vampire bats, I trust. Just LBBs (little brown bats).

The bats were harmless enough clinging to the walls of the arena. They do eat insects and other creepy crawlies, which is a good thing. They left the horses alone and the horses didn't seem to notice them. However, the sonic squeaks did give Genevieve a headache. My aging hearing system only picked on the high-pitched squeaks when I was close to the bats -- but I could see how it would make one do the "doggy head shake" (What the heck was that?!).

So, given the presence of bats, do I change my assessment of Twilight? Hmmm. I think I'll wait until the LBBs become more ominous.

I won't cry "Uncle" just yet.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

First Book Club Meeting

Last night was our first Book Club discussion. We picked up another member, so we now total five and hope to add a few more folks.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo proved to be "unputdownable" for all of us, despite some of the dark scenes. Two of our members had continued on to finish the trilogy, the rest of us decided we needed to catch our breath before diving back in.

Discussion topics included how most of the characters used other people as commodities, who were the real victims, who we thought was the protagonist of the story (Mikael or Lisbeth), and the change in cultural acceptance of tattoos.

We went off on discussion tangents more than once. The disappearance of Kyron Horman and the convoluted events in the case absorbed us, although it's loosely connected to the story in regard to the exploitation of children. We haven't yet discussed how we want to handle these digressions, if at all.

It's nice to get to know the neighbors better. People are so busy with their lives that they only wave at each other in passing. The book club will give us a monthly excuse to gather.

Our next book is One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus. We decided to go in a different direction with the next book since the suspense was so intense with Larsson's books. It's historical fiction/speculation for our next discussion.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


These are some of my photos from The Country Classic 2010 that I edited with Photoshop Elements.

This is a bronze sculpture by Lorenzo Ghiglieri that was on display at the show.

Watercolor effect.

Stained glass effect.

Same photo with graphite sketch effect.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Struggling Through "Twilight"

I'm over halfway through Twilight and struggling to finish the novel. I've had the book for some time and bought it because I want to write and publish young adult novels, not because I was interested in the story. Like they say, read the genre you want to write.

A friend's concern about the message the books and movies are giving young girls made me pick up the book to read it. My friend was appalled that girls of 12 and 13 are eager to begin dating and feared that Stephanie Meyer was contributing to this frightening trend. So I figured it was a good time to see what the fuss was about and find out what my friend meant.

First of all, I'm not a fan of romance novels. I have read a few. I generally find them corny. Romance just isn't my genre of choice.

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I like Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and Oscar Wilde. But any more I reach for mysteries and science fiction/fantasy. When reading my genre(s) of choice, I'll make allowances for less than stellar writing if the suspense keeps me turning pages or I'm fascinated with the protagonist.

So I began reading Twilight and immediately had problems getting into the story. On page 67 I wrote: "Who is Bella? What are her interests? Hobbies? What are her goals for the future? What are her strengths? Her weaknesses (other than being a klutz)? Why should I care about her?"

I've read enough fiction, and books about writing fiction, to know that the reader should care about the protagonist way before page 67. Bella is 17. Presumably she had a life before moving to Forks. What were her interests and hobbies in Arizona? Is this girl like Titian's Venus? She emerged from a shell fully formed as a blank canvas? Edward quizzes Bella about her likes and dislikes on their drive into the forest. This occurs over halfway through the book. Did Meyer share Bella's answers with the reader? No. So here I am on page 276, and I still can't find a reason to care about Bella.

The story thus far has emerged as the sweet, virginal girl who falls in love with the sexy, dangerous guy. Will she be the one who makes him mend his ways? An archetypal romance story line.

But as I read Twilight I'm picking up on red flags that signal the potential for an abusive relationship. Edward has anger management issues. He is a controller. He stalks Bella.

"I wondered if it should bother me that he was following me; instead I felt a strange surge of pleasure." How many women were flattered by the obsessive attentions of a man only to later realize that he held her prisoner in their relationship?

"...since I'd come to Forks, it really seemed like my life was about him." How sad. And frightening. Bella has nothing going on in her life except Edward. No career goals. No hobbies or activities. Nothing!

Bella lies to her father in order to spend time with Edward. She takes drugs (cold medicine when she isn't ill). Not a good start to a relationship.

Edward's sudden mood changes might indicate that he is manic depressive. A 17-year-old girl is not equipped to deal with this condition.

"I knew at any moment it could be too much, and my life could end -- so quickly that I might not even notice. And I couldn't make myself be afraid. I couldn't think of anything, except that he was touching me." Edward is the ultimate sexy, dangerous man of romance novels. Bella feels compassion for his suffering. He suffers because of his love for her.

Thus far, the novel makes me cringe. How often have counselors heard this kind of stuff from physically and/or emotionally abused women? He has anger issues, but he always apologizes after he hits me. He loves me so much that he has to control my every move and friendship. I'm so in love with him that I will lie and give up my own personality so I can be with him. I will risk death (drugs, prostitution, vampire bites) to be with him.

I'm sorry, but this is frigging scary!

Spunky Hermione has been replaced by milquetoast Bella.

Women died so we could get the vote. Women fought so we could get equal pay for equal work. We have women on the Supreme Court. We had a viable female candidate for president.

Now along comes Bella with no life goals, interests, or hobbies. A girl ignoring all the red flags of a potential abusive relationship. Young girls and their mothers are soaking it up like sponges!

Frankly, what I've read thus far of Twilight scares me. And I don't mean in a suspenseful story line way.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sunday Stills: Summer

Summer is show season!

Welcome to The Country Classic
in Oregon Horse Country


Walking the course



The Barn Bunch

Temporary saddle rack

Back to the barn

For more images of summer, visit Sunday Stills.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sans Filter

Now that I'm of a "certain age," I'm beginning to understand "elder truth." The fodder of late night comics and embarrassment of those decades younger. You know -- that cliche' of elders speaking their minds or asking questions without censorship.

My mother and her sister have recently found themselves expressing thoughts or making inquiries that they wouldn't have had the nerve to do years ago. And I find myself questioning my inner filter.

After you've been on the planet long enough, you've experienced and witnessed a lot. You've encountered representatives of different personality types. You immediately recognize situations and/or characters that you've experienced before. Your tolerance is waning. You no longer comprehend the need to be polite to bores or listen to young persons espousing philosophies based on limited life experience.

What the hell (see?). You start saying "no" when you no longer want to be the steadfast volunteer. You stop making up excuses when you don't want to attend social functions and just say you can't make it. You tell the young folks that their goals are ridiculous or their significant others are totally inappropriate.

You're old. People make allowances. Sometimes your honesty is considered refreshing and cute.

And sometimes, like Earl, you're reminded why we filter our thoughts.


There's something to be said for silence accompanied by a knowing nod. The speaker can interpret the gesture as understanding, agreement, or in any manner he or she desires. Meanwhile I'm thinking, "The new season of The Closer starts tonight. Yay!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Settling In at the New Location

So, when I toured CF I suspected Phantom would have issues with one end of the arena. It has (gasp!) large open doors with views outside and (eek!) bleachers and (argh!) arena access doors. Sure enough. He doesn't want to have anything to do with the "open end" of the arena. I've only ridden him twice in the arena thus far, and he settled down to work at the "far end" or "closed end" of the arena.

It will be a process of gradually expanding his comfort zone so we can work the entire arena.

Today Genevieve and I rode our guys outside on the galloping track. Zorro and Phantom did pretty well during our first circuit. There are a mess of jumps and a small dressage court set up on the grass in the center of the track [ :-) ]. And a couple of jumps partially on the track (barrels and a cool half-round made from wood slats). Phantom ogled the adjacent nursery with (oh no!) sheets of black weed barrier with flapping edges, he skirted around the barrels and half-round, and eyed the jump grids and courses.

After completing the circuit we reversed direction and all went well until we were halfway around near the blackberries. Both horses suddenly just about jumped out of their shoes and would not go anywhere near the blackberries. We finally realized the farmer who had bailed his hay on the adjacent property was driving his tractor next to the wall of berries. So we gave our sissy boys the benefit of the doubt and went back the way we came.

Until we encountered another tractor on a different neighbor's property. I jumped off Phantom before he got too silly. Zorro continued on without a problem. Without warning Zorro did a Fred Astaire tap dance and, like Ginger, I was going backward -- with a black equine butt coming at me. It seems a "killer" log jump had leapt out from its grassy hiding place to flash its fangs at Zorro.

At this point Genevieve jumped off to make Zorro approach the log. He promptly snatched a bite of grass. *sigh* So we walked our horses back to the barn. This time, in addition to the sheets of black weed barrier, one of the nursery workers was (ack!) watering plants in one of the hot houses. And then (hubba, hubba!) the mares came galloping up to the fence to check out the guys.

We couldn't help but laugh at the frazzled brains of our horses. Man, these boys need to get out more. As I told Gen, Phantom must be a liberal arts major because he's definitely not an aggie!

Settling in at CF will definitely be an adventure. Talk about a goober boy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunday Stills: Shadows

So I'm sitting at the table about to eat dinner and I glance at the spectacular flowers that Emily gave me. The sunlight from the skylight is hitting them just so.

Jump up from the table, grab my camera, and head for the fireplace mantel.

This may be one of my all time favorite photos:

The following photo captures the shadow cast by the flower on the vase. Even better, one of my father's paintings can be seen in the shadows behind the flower and vase.

Detail of the shadows cast onto the vase.

Thanks to Emily for the huge, neon sunflowers. A week later and they still look great.

See more shadows at Sunday Stills.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Moving On

Today we moved Phantom and Zorro to a different boarding stable.

I was not unhappy at CEC. In fact, I recommend it to anyone seeking a barn in the Canby area.

However, I think I was due for a change. When two friends gave notice that they were departing, it kind of gave me a kick start. So Phantom and I followed Genevieve and Zorro to a stable that is closer to where we live. There are tradeoffs in the move, but also different opportunities. So we'll see how it goes.

The most difficult aspect of any move like this is parting with friends. Since I was a "charter boarder" at CEC, it's doubly so. Phantom was among the first horses to arrive at the facility before the covered arena existed. So we have a history there. And good friends who have since relocated as well as those who remain at CEC.

Ready to go.

Many thanks to Kim for trailering us.

An eventing barn?!

Geneveive and Zorro

Mary and Phantom

Checking out the new digs.

Welcoming Committee.

Getting acquainted.

Checking out the new guys.

Zorro gets acquainted.

Notice that the "welcoming committee" chased the little gray Arabian all over the place while leaving the big black appendix quarter horse alone? It seems Zorro has the W.C. Fields attitude: "Go away, you bother me." Phantom is apparently more on the order of Oliver Twist being stalked by the Artful Dodger.

There was only so much we could do for our boys -- they had to sort it out on their own. Phantom came from a tiny all-Arab turnout herd to a larger "integrated" herd. He managed to climb to the upper echelon of the pecking order at CEC. Guess the guys at the new barn aren't impressed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mother Nature Has a Sense of Humor

Thirty degrees in three days. We're predicted to transition from high temperatures in the mid-sixties to the mid-nineties by mid week.

Given our cool, wet, endless spring -- we shouldn't complain. The east coast is experiencing a killer heat wave. A temperature in the 90s would be a cooling trend for them.

And we are delighted that summer is finally here!

I just hope we don't melt before we acclimate to the heat. Our western Oregon webbed toes are sensitive, you know. ;-)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sunday Stills: Frame It

I tried to use the barn door as my frame for this challenge. I think this was my best shot of the day:
Judy and Bay.

Including the entire door opening as a frame meant the subject kind of disappeared into the landscape:
Genevieve and Zorro

So I settled on using only part of the door to frame the subject:
Trainer Tracey teaching from the saddle.

Genevieve and Zorro, done for the day.

Visit Sunday Stills for more "framed" photos!


Phantom's swish.

Genevieve took this photo yesterday. Notice I cropped out my lousy riding position. Posting waaay too high out of the saddle.

Phantom's luxurious thick tail is genetic. The past couple of winters I've kept his tail braided and bagged because I didn't want to deal with it. Western Oregon winters are wet and muddy.

Come summer, Phantom gets his tail back for fly season. I'm hoping warm weather usage will take a little length off of it.

I've also let his mane grow out after whacking it off to sport horse length several years ago. It's now back to its original, untouched length. His forelock is tucked under the brow band so it won't tickle his ears.

I also keep his mane banded or braided most of the time so it won't get tangled. Although, after his first bath of the summer I think I've solved the knotted mane problem. Half a tube of Cowboy Magic and his mane and tail are soft as silk!