Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween is a lot of fun at our house-especially this year with Jr helping!

OD carved this pumpkin- I swear she's like Edward Scissor-hands~ whacky- wack and voila! This beautiful pumpkin!

Then Lil Mama carved her pumpkin- it was HUGE! And thick too! Took awhile but she ended up with this-

Jr was helping clean the guts out with this long spoon- but soon decided that it was much more fun smearing them around the floor. So he did that for awhile! 

I finished my pumpkin and here it is-

Then Lil Mama got on her makeup- and put the Littlest Cowboy in his and we went a trick or treatin'.

All too soon it was dark and the Littlest Cowboy was rubbing his little eyes. Time to put him to bed. 
OD and I baked a cake and some cookies after he left and settled down with a nice cup of tea! 
HAppy Halloween my friends! I hope you all had as much fun as we all did! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not all Halloweens are bad...some are funny!

Egads! Another post about Hell-O Ween from Vaquero girl! Can you stand it? OK how about a funny story?
When the OD was about eight she wanted to go trick or treating with her friend Jaqi. She just thought she was so cool in her new Halloween outfit, and she wanted Jaqi's mother and me to 'follow behind' them. 
"OK," we said. 
We went down our long dark street, trick or treating all the houses, until we got to the end, turned the corner and were met with a street that had no street lights- yep they had been 'shot' out. Damn it was DARK! 
The next house was completely dark too, except for a pair of tiny blue lights- like Jawa eyes peering from the big picture window.

 They moved...slowly...back and forth...back and forth! 

Jaqi and OD gulped, lifted their skirts and crept forward. 
Something moaned from inside the house...whoooo....

Squished orange pumpkins and bagged leaves littered the dark yard as the girls tiptoed forward...


The porch light only flickered...whooo...whooooo...

The girls reached the front porch, hair practically standing on end...

They knocked...silence. They knocked louder...

The door flew open and a dark figure jumped out...''Whoooo!!"

Two little girls went flying off the porch, yelling for their momma's...tripped over the pumpkins and spilt all their candy! 

After reaching the safety of the maternal arms, they turned to look back- the blue eyes were still moving but the moans had stopped..
Did they want to go back, pick up their candy?
No Way!!
Did Mom laugh so hard her sides hurt- Yes WAY! 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hell Rides of October

Way back when I ran a boarding stable I thought it might be fun to have a trail ride and lunch for my boarders. We were situated on a nice quite road, just across the street from a huge Regional Park. So began the Hell rides- at first I called it a Hell Ride because it was held in October as near to Halloween as we could get. And though the weather was usually great, warm and sunny sometimes it was not. 

On the first Hell Ride there were about nine or ten riders of varying ability. No problem- we'd stick to the main trails. The day was pleasant, the horses used to the trails- all except Elsa's horse, a big Appaloosa. Man, he was a pretty thing- black and white and about 16 hands! Elsa had just leased him and he hadn't been in the barn long.  He'd never been on these trails, but the rest of us had and we weren't going to ride far. 
We got to the top of the first hill and that horse saw the open meadow in front of him~ he just bolted!  Did I mention he was an ex Appaloosa RACE horse? He was trained to go faster when the reins were pulled! Elsa stuck with him for about a quarter mile, but the tree line was coming up and he wern't stoppin'. Elsa bailed~ ended up breaking her pelvis. 
The next Hell ride, we had a young woman and a cagey red gelding. It was sleeting and windy- but we were not to be deterred-we rode out, dressed for the weather( flasks in pockets), but we never got to use them. That big red cagey gelding got to the wide open top of the hill, a place we called the lagoons(because of the three lakes up there) and he bolted! We all stood on the top of the hill as she charged in a wider circle around us, hollerin" Hold on! Turn him, turn him!" 
She stuck with that bastard, but ended up walking him home- about 5 miles. 
Another ride ended with one horse kicking another and hitting an artery in a back leg.
And the last ride ended up with one horse kicking at another and hitting my brothers leg. Sounded like a gunshot. He still isn't right!
It got so my friend D's horse would charge for home, then slam on the brakes in front of the ranger station where she always drew up to use the emergency phone!
So we stopped the Hell Rides. It seemed that they were cursed from the start. 
Oh and one last thing- any of the pictures any of us tried to take on that day never turned out. There was always a glare on the photos, or they were over exposed or the went missing in the lab....
Creepy? You bet!  

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hellacious Fire

As I mentioned yesterday, October in California can be hellacious! 
October 20, 1991 was hot and windy. Heat in October in California is usual,(today was 82 degrees) but the temperature in 1991 had reached into the nineties and it was just days until Halloween. By then our Bay Area usually has had a little bit of rain, some cooling fogs and dewy evenings but NOT that year. 
It was a Sunday, and I looked out our back window. What I could see, from twenty miles away was stunning- a huge black cloud spiraling upwards into the clear blue sky,almost like a   hydrogen bomb cloud. My blood ran cold as I caught my breath. I ran to the front of the house to see if it looked different from that view, but it was the same- a huge black cloud that was beginning to cover the sun. 

I began calling around-this was before the Internet- and soon found out that a fire had started in the Berkeley/Oakland hills and it was out of control. Now I was really scared. The population of Berkeley and Oakland is dense, the terrain steep and rugged. Plus Lil Mamma's  Big Daddy is a Berkeley Fireman. Not good. 

Reports on the radio were unreliable- we had hard that the Historic Claremont Hotel had burned to the ground, ( It hadn't) and that the fire would never leap the 8 lane freeway,( it did).

I heard from Big Daddy's wife, he was in the thick of it. I commiserated with her- and tried to not act afraid around Lil Mamma. I didn't want her to fret but I think she probably did. 

Because the houses were built on such steep terrain and were surrounded by thick brush they burned fast and furious. Because the roads were one lane and twisty, the fire trucks couldn't get in fast enough, the people couldn't get out fast fast enough...

The Oakland Hills Fire burned 3500 acres, 150 persons were injured, 25 people lost their lives, 750 homes were burned to the ground in the first hour alone. It took four days to contain the fire and in those days we heard stories of heroism and bravery  from the media. We were all riveted to our radios and tv's, waiting for the latest updates.

The hills are repopulated now, the brush that crowded around the houses and made them burn quickly has grown back again. I drive through the area and marvel that those people still want to live there, they still let the brush grow thick, that they all have such short memories. 

Big Daddy is still a Berkeley Fireman. He made it through without any visible scars. But like many of the service crews he still has nightmares about that hellish day. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Twenty Years ago..

October in my neck of the woods can be ...well... frightful! From the Hell Rides of long ago ( a topic for another post) to Earthquake and Fire. It is nearly ( but not quiet)Biblical. 
Twenty years ago, my hubby and I were just settling down on the couch to watch the big game- The Worlds Series.The Oakland A's and the San Fransicso Giants were about to square off in one of the most highly anticipated games of the century. 
 It was about to start in famous Candlestick Park, San Francisco. Suddenly the screen went all wonky and the signal quit- but we didn't have time to ponder that because our house was beginning to shake. I mean really shake! And it was on a slab foundation- no room to really rock and roll. 
I think I must have said something like Shit Earthquake- and then THE KIDS!
Lil Momma was about eleven, her sister, OD  five.  OD was outside under the big trees playing with the neighbors, I can't even remember where Lil Momma was- but I jumped up and tried to run outside. The sharp jolting nearly knocked me off my feet. When I finally got outside my neighbor had OD, her daughter and baby son tucked underneath her body-protecting them from any falling debris. 
We all crouched on the lawn waiting for aftershocks. There were five that we could feel, I have been told that there were actually over one hundred. 

Because we are about 30 miles East of SF, our house only suffered minor cracking, but in The City and Oakland, the damage was much worse. We had just survived the Loma Prieta Earthquake. 

Here in Earthquake Country we name our quakes like other parts of the country name tornados or floods or hurricanes, usually the point of origin or fault line. 

The Loma Prieta Quake was a massive one, measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale.

63 people were killed.

 Buildings in SF fell and caught fire, The one part of the upper Bay Bridge actually fell onto the lower. 

But the worse damage was caused by the Cypress Freeway falling for miles, pancaking on top of the lower deck killing anyone unlucky enough to be driving there that afternoon. 

 One man made it through that ordeal- lasting ten days trapped inside a car,legs crushed. He was rescued only to die later. 

Californians are used to Earthquakes big and small. We all keep extra food and water, are versed in the ways to maintain support systems in our homes,know how to drill, know how we are suppose to survive. As a matter of fact, most of us don't think earthquakes are all that big of a deal. 
But the Loma Prieta Quake shook us all up pretty good. And the worse part about it is that we all know that it isn't the BIG ONE. We are overdue for that one and we all know it! (Every 150 years we're suppose to get a HUGE quake like the one that leveled San Francisco in 1906.)

God Bless the Firefighters, Police and citizens that helped everyone else on that fateful day, and God Bless the souls that didn't make it that day. 

I think it's time to check my earthquake supplies.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Can you fly?

You all know that every now and again I go all California-New- Age-y on your asses- This is one of those times. 

I have a question for all of you out there in Blogland- and this is a serious question. I really want to know your answers. 

Can you fly? 
I mean, in your dreams- have you ever flown? Do you soar? Flap your arms- run, jump and fly? 

I do. 
I started when I was five. I flew and flew. As I've gotten older, the flying happens a little less.
 I love to dream I'm flying! I feel rapturous and unstoppable. 

In your flying dreams- do you feel happy or afraid? 
Are there obstacles in your dreams- do you have to duck or dive? 

I know what the interpretations are- I want to know your stories! Let me have 'em!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Loma Rica Cattle Drive

Way out here in Califor-n I-A land is EX-pensive! If you want to have a big cattle ranch you better have inherited land, or be a millionaire -rockstar- movie maker.
OR... you can do it on a small scale~ like the Dolittle Cattle Co in Loma Rica, California. 

With about thirty acres they run about thirteen cows and calves. They bring in enough money to (sometimes) pay the taxes, or the winter hay bill or the Costco shopping check....well you get the picture. Still there is a certain satisfaction in running a few head of your own- no matter how few.
 Occasionally the herd needs to be moved from one parcel to another and this is when we do the Loma Rica Cattle Drive.
It is a fine art.
No horses are used, it would just take longer to tack up and ride out! 
Keith and Jr check the four-wheeler,making sure it's got plenty of gas.  Jr gets his own paddle. All hands are important in the Loma Rica Cattle Drive.


Lil Mama and Denise block the road, cuz ya don't want any unwanted cars wizzing past. 

Then Keith eases into the herd, and moves them towards the gate. 
Denise revs the four-wheeler,complete with a flake of Alfalfa...

Lucy and Ethel know the drill- they move through the gate- eager for the yummy hay....
The bull stops to give us the once over, but decides that the hay wagon holds more interest.

"C'mon girls!"The sound of Denise's' melodious voice lures them on down the road....

Into the pasture across the street- no casualties! Hurray!