Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lone Tree

Valley Oak, Martinez California
Pin Oak, Valley Springs, California



Monday, December 17, 2012

Stringing spaghetti





I refuse to be sucked into a debate on Global Media Facebook about the unfortunate murder of those in Sandy Hook.It is so easy to stand behind such a large public forum, snipe and point fingers, get jiggy and accuse anyone who does not believe the same way you do. It must make people feel righteous to do that. The power of invisibility makes a person seem to others to be good and brave.

 I, like everyone else, am saddened and sickened by what happened. And to those who want to blame me and others like me who respect the gun laws, well then have at it. I do not apologize for being a gun advocate or enthusiast.
I could site all of the cliches about Cold Dead fingers, pencils that 'cause' misspelled words and the like, but why bother? The truth of the matter is that this is an issue that always has and always will defy rational thought. It is such a complicated and emotional issue that it is akin to trying to untangle cooked spaghetti.

In 1976 there was a horrible school bus crash in the town where I live. I just happened to be close to the bus when it veered over a guard rail and plunged to the ground. It was the most horrible thing I had or have, ever seen.29 people were killed, 26 of those were teenagers. The nightmares and the feeling of powerlessness was shocking and overwhelming. I still think of those souls when my truck passes over that same spot on that road. I still shudder when I see a wreath laid there- even forty years later. A tragedy is a tragedy, but who was to blame? The bus was in good repair. The road was in good repair, the bus driver was a professional, yet people died. Who gets the blame? The road? The bus driver? God? 

1927, Bath, Michigan. Andrew Kehoe killed 38 school children, himself and his wife, plus a lot of other innocent first responder,as well as all of his animals. He didn't shoot them. He blew most of them up with dynamite, bludgeoned his wife, set fire to his horses, before blowing himself and a few other townsfolk to Kingdom Come. Who was at fault?  My first thought is Andrew Kehoe. It doesn't make me feel any better to say he was evil, or misunderstood or a victim of his past. But he was a killer. No one could have kept him from it.

The boy who shot up Sandy Hook School had no criminal record. As a matter of fact, a lot of people have no criminal records. They might have a history of acting strangely, of not conforming to the usual mores of their society, but so did Picasso,and Jack London, and Christopher Colombus. There is no crime in being different and strange - and here is the slippery slope- no way to pick out the ones that will kill. (I think Hollywood made a movie about that very idea not long ago starring Tom Cruise). What will we be getting ourselves into if we try to predict who will kill and who will not?

Would stronger gun laws stop the killings? No, it wouldn't. It would only put the rest of us at more risk. Living in California,one of the most stringent States for gun laws, I can tell you that a gun is still a very easy thing to get- especially if you are intent on doing harm. Gun laws are for the law abiding. Do our California laws help the situation- I believe that they do. I myself have refused to sell a firearm to unstable individuals, and I called all of my contacts to make sure that the individual in question wouldn't be able to buy from a reputable dealer. Did it stop anyone ultimately? Who knows. It all boils down to what the liberals don't want to hear- personal responsibility.

I  believe that there is evil in our world. I carry firearms to protect myself and those that I love from that evil. I have done my soul searching and have come to the conclusion that I am willing to kill for my loved ones, and for myself, if I had to.I am prepared to make the distinction and abide by the consequences.
 Am I mentally unstable? Am I a threat to society? I think not.  If you didn't know me, you wouldn't guess I would blow you out of your shoes if you threatened my family or property.

So the debate will rage on. I will (try) to keep my cool and not retort to the mass hysteria circulating through the internet. I will remain personally responsible, because that is the way I was raised.
Will my firearms be taken away?
When they pry them from my cold dead hands...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Merry and Bright

Finally! It seems like we've been building up to Christmas for four months! Now that it is only 12 days away ( if you don't believe the Mayan Prophesy) I was able to look around and breathe... literally.

And it all has nothing to do with my expert planning or money skills or anything else. It is all because of my Hubby, and my children, and their friends.

I came down with a hellacious cold on the 2nd day of December. Chills, fever, elephant sitting on my chest type of cold. And I completely had to postpone my Hubby's Dec 6 birthday. We usually get our tree and I put it up (almost) totally alone. But this year I was tucked under blankets with a box of tissue and a remote.
But my hubby (said) he didn't mind. He fixed ME dinner, and he bought 99% of our Christmas presents!


My Children ( and some other people's children who I adore) went and picked out the tree,




















brought it home...







 put on the lights...




 and then decorated the 12 foot Tree-zilla!


All I had to do was sit in my cozy front room and kibitz a little!

And if that weren't enough Christmas joy thrown at you, her BF came over- alone- on the following Monday and helped string all of my Christmas lights! WOWZA! We've NEVER had that done for us before!

All of this combined to make my state of mind when I woke up this morning decidedly JOLLY!

NEVER have I been this relaxed by this time in December!


 It's a Freeking Christmas Miracle!




So to my daughters, and their BF's and BFF's I say " Merry Christmas!"


Monday, December 3, 2012

Luck and Texture Sunday Stills

Briones Reservoir
Benicia Sidewalk



Harvest Corn
I decided to post two Sunday Stills Challenges at one time- here are my contributions. The first photo is a local reservoir, I pass it most mornings on my way to work. It's a nice break from the busy rush hour traffic I encounter about ten miles down the road! If the day is clear I take it as a good omen- a lucky charm as it were. This photo was taken at 7 AM, the sun had not risen yet, and the clouds were hovering just over the surface of the water.

The second picture is a sidewalk in the Historic town of Benicia, just outside on of California's first State Capitol buildings. ( I'll save the facade of the building for a different challenge.)

The last photo of harvest corn was taken in a barn in a historic old home just next to the State Capitol Bldg in Benicia.



Friday, November 23, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another great ideas for that special Horseperson this year

Some of you are Cowgirls and Cowboys, and some are English riders, some of you ride Dressage but no matter your style of riding, Buckaroos usually appeal to horsemen.

Mary Williams Hyde is a photographer extraordinaire. Her images of the Vaquero and Buckaroo Rodeos in the Great Basin and the Northwest are so authentic you can smell the dust by just looking at them!

She has allowed me to post her website address's here on my blog page! She has told me that she will sell individual prints of her images. I just can't think of anyone who wouldn't like these images.

So scoot on over to her Website or Facebook Page page and say Hi. I'll bet you'll find something there for that special someone on your Christmas list.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm nothing if not moved by the Spirit of Christmas

The Christmas rush is nearly upon us. Thanksgiving is next Thursday and it will be a short few weeks after that we will celebrate the 'BIG' holiday.

Sigh.....

And as sometimes happens we get tired, overworked,stress and uninspired. So in the
Spirit of Christmas, and before I become all of the above, I'm compiling a blog of things that might help inspire your gift giving this year. I'm trying to support local and small businesses this year~ although my daughter reminded me that the employees at the Big Box Stores need a paycheck too. Maybe we can revise our shopping to Buy American!

Calenders are always appreciated and more importantly, needed.  Try one of these on for size and of course search your local area for others. 
Crazy M Photography
The Cloud Foundation
Oakdale Equine Rescue

It may sound totally corny but Gift Certificates for a needed service might be extra appreciated this year. Most every business will make up a certificate-  Just jazz up the certificate with a little something extra.  Maybe give a certificate for one horse shoeing and find a horse shoe style bridle hook. A certificate for  grooming for a stinky ranch dog- make up a small stocking, add the certificate, a tennis ball,  a box of dog treats (homemade or otherwise) and voila!
It's the little extra details that make any gift special.

Of course a small box of supplies make a great gift too. Ideas?
For the English rider:
Small skeins of coat matching yarn
Braiding rubber bands
Inexpensive scissors
Crochet hooks
Lint roller
Black shoe polish
Black duct tape

Western Pleasure or Trail riders:
Brightly colored marking pens
Lots of different colored Vet Wrap
Zebra Duct tape
Contrasting or matching coat color braiding bands
Cell Phone holder
Small ID tags to hang on bridles or saddles
Vintage earrings that will add sparkle under a Cowboy hat

I'm sure that you could put together a stocking or box full of these small items to fit any riding or life style.
(Hubby likes bullets, patches, solvents and flints- go figgure!)

I personally always appreciate the Gift of Grooming Supplies, Survivor by  Eqyss, Shampoos by Cowboy Magic,Rain Maker hoof conditioner.

Still more ideas~
For your Horse showing friends or family
Inexpensive Drapery panels or a cool heavy fabric can be cut and hemmed to make Show Drapes for an away from home tack room. (Make them about 4 feet long instead of six.)
Zip Ties
Combo locks (two)
 hoses (take colorful  Duck Tape and mark out a unique pattern on the hose).
Colorful spray Hose-Nozzles
Portable Stall ID's. ( Use small magnetic white boards and magnets)


Be sure to visit your local Pet store, Tack store, Hardware store and Farmers Market for more inexpensive gift ideas.

I sure hope that I have been able to lighten your hearts and spare your wallets. If you have other ideas, I'd sure like to hear them here!




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Stills

Here is my Sunday Stills photo of the week~
 Can you guess what the challenge was this week? 



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Go To Hell

No my Dears! Not all of you!

But it is October and that makes me think of Fall, and Fall makes me think of things dying, and dying makes me think of Hell, and Hell makes me think of the great big Trail Rides I used to sponsor back when I used to run my own Boarding Facility.
Long way 'round~ but there it is- October = Hell

You see, when you have a Boarding Facility- you have all levels of riders, and being the kind of 'go-get 'em and have fun' kind of a gal I am, I thought having a big ride would keep my customers entertained. Actually it almost got a few interred!

Ride number one was just a few of us. The day was cold and rainy and actually it was probably Halloween day.
" Don't worry!" I said with my customary bravado, " You aren't made out of sugar! You won't melt!"
So off we went and though the horses were a bit on the fresh side, they pulled the hills and stayed between the reins- until we got to the very top of the hill crest, and the wide plateau stretched out before us. One little gal's horse just couldn't resist the urge to bolt! And Bolt it did!
It ran hard and fast. The rest of us were calling out, " One rein! One Rein" and so she ended up going in a big fast circle around the top of the hill until finally that SOB horse just quit. She was so frightened that we had to pony her down off that hill and she never rode with us again.

Or the October that just one boarder and I went for an October ride, and her big black and white Appy saw the hayfield- a long stretch of open meadow bordered by canyons. That horse took off like he was going to the races! She hauled on the reins. But he actually had been a running Appaloosa and pulling back meant running faster.  She panicked and thought about him running over the side of the hill straight into that canyon and she bailed off. Broke her pelvis in two places. Ambulance took a hour to get to us up in the hills where we were riding, and they hit every pothole and rut on the fire roads back to civilization. She ended up giving that horse away, and I don't know if she ever rode again.

And finally one of the last rides- by now we were calling them Hell Rides and trying to laugh about our bad luck- my little brother was kicked in the shin by the horse in front of him and it shattered his leg. We took him off the horse and splinted it with a couple of branches and our bandannas  but again, it was a long bumpy ride back out of the canyon where it happened for Lil Bro. I know he never rode again- but after many operations his legs are still the same length.

So is it any wonder that though the weather appears perfect- the horses appear to be broke and all seems right- I still consider October the month from Hell.

Happy Halloween everybody!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Under Attack

I used to ride my horse everywhere.
I'd ride miles and miles, and some of those miles would be on public roads and into residential neighborhoods.My horses hooves would click and clank, echoing against clapboard house, cement sidewalks and down city streets. It was melodic, in a way, just as melodic as an ice cream truck. From various houses children would come running outside. Even in the early sixties, a horse downtown or in a neighborhood was a sight not to be missed. Everyone of those kids wanted to pet my 'horsie', rub his sweet nose, feed him a carrot or have a ride. I obliged as many as I could, even then.
During the parades we entered people snapped pictures, waved and smiled. Everyone loves a horse.

At least they used to.

I am the President of a Horse club. We aren't big, but we raise a lot of money for charity, have schooling shows and hold the lease on a few acres on what used to be the edge of town. My members work very hard, giving of their own time and money to keep our horse arena in great shape. It isn't easy with just nine  people working and only three of those being men.



The property is owned, not by the horse club, but by the local Regional Park system. We pay an annual fee, and it ain't that cheap. We manage it with difficulty some years.
The Regional Park does not allow dogs in their parks. None. But because the Horsemen have been there for over sixty years, they tended to turn a blind eye to our members letting ours dogs run off leash, since we maintained the space and our dogs were well behaved. We would leash our pets when any other people would come to walk in the park.  Word got out, and soon others were walking their dogs off leash( illegally). We didn't say anything, after all, we own dogs too.

Lately, the dog walkers have gotten out of control. Not only have they decided as a collective whole that they 'own' the park, they are angry at the horses for being there. They have become abusive to my members, the very members that have allowed them to walk their dogs there.

Can you say 'Madbeyondbelief"?

http://martinez.patch.com/articles/martinez-horsemen-s-association-under-fire-from-park-district-dog-owners
I wrote to a local online newspaper, one that caters to the local population. He published a small article after talking to me, briefly outlining our stance that the dog walkers should try to be respectful of the park that they use freely.
Not saying that dog walkers suck.
Not saying that dog walkers are full of shit.
Not saying that dog walkers are disrespectful asshole that feel entitled.

No. Not saying any of that.

But the responses that have come back point to all of those things.

Yes. They. Do.

And that is only half of the story.
The other half is the City Ball Park next to the Horsemen's Arena. The ball field property is owned by the Regional Park, and the City of Martinez leases it for several Baseball fields. Their ballplayers park their cars right up to our entrance, block all but a ten foot path to our gate, and then have the nerve to ask us to park our trucks and trailers in a small car lot over a half a mile away and walk our horses into the park to use the arena that we pay for and maintain.

Yep. You. Heard. That. Correctly.
Next to the cars. Alongside the freight trains. And the families with kites, and bikes and strollers... not to mention that they want to put US out of OUR area so that THEY won't have to walk a few more feet to access their ball fields. I might add that we have one gate- there are four ways to get into the ball fields. They want to use our access because it is closer.

You can imagine how that conversation played out.

But the City of Martinez- who maintains the road accessing our arena, refuses to make them park where they ought. The City of Martinez refuses to paint the curb for horse trailers only.The City of Martinez refuses to give tickets for disobeying any posted parking signs. The City Of Martinez is now refusing to take my calls, even though I have been extremely polite. (Really! I have.)
That is because the City of Martinez want to take over the lease for the Regional Park that we have leased since 1970, and pave it for parking for their ball fields. Dog Walkers- are you understanding this?

After all- no one owns horses anymore.

I read today that equestrian ownership is on the rise. It is higher than any other type of livestock, and that includes cattle- beef and dairy.

Contra Costa County used to have the highest equine population per capita in California. Outside the City proper are -you guessed it- horse stables, and cattle ranches.And plenty of Regional Park and State Park property. There are more trails here in the San Francisco Bay Area than anywhere else in California. And do you know why? Because the horse owners of this area fought some hard won battles to make it so. (After all an acre of bare land here is worth upwards of $11,000.) Horse owners and clubs have held the developers at bay. Finally dog walkers and bicycle riders and day hikers (sort of ) joined the fray- but Horse owners began the fight- and now they are treated like red-headed step children by the very people that are reaping the benefits.

Do you think it can't happen to you? It won't happen where you live? Do you believe - like I used to- that 'outdoorsy' type people would help one another and be there on the side of the horse owner?

They aren't.
I am under attack.
And if you are a horse owner, so are you.





Friday, June 29, 2012

Sunday Stills- Roads

This is what I have to look forward to three or four days a week.
It reminds me of Autopia in Disneyland- except not nearly as much fun.
This is where Highways 960 and 580 and 880 and Bart all come together in a huge Maze. It is also where my commute slows to a 10 mph crawl.
This was taken with my camera phone going about 5 mph. I think the people in the car ahead of me were a little freaked out that I was taking pictures, they kept swerving to the side!
I hope all of your roads are more bucolic- but I wanted to represent the unlovely side of roadways!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Teeth and sympathy

 Warning- these are kind of grisly pictures.



Turn away now if you are squeemish~


Aha! You want to see this!


Ok~ I warned you.

This picture is of Rem's remaining teeth.

As you may remember, right before I was able to purchase him, he flipped himself over and smashed the side of his mouth. He broke the top teeth and the bottom teeth. His jaw is not misaligned, and so I purchased him even though his teeth looked horrible.

The bottom corner teeth  were pushed out and a permanent tooth was behind it. It erupted early because there was nothing above it, holding it down so to speak. The day I had him gelded, I had those two teeth removed, leaving just the permanent tooth to come in, and hopefully slide into place.

Then on the day of the May horse show, he broke that tooth too. Or rather, he ripped it out of his face, leaving the open and gaping wound shown. Took a whole lot of flesh with it, I think he must have been 'teething' on something, got it caught somehow, panicked and pulled until it broke.

I took him to the vet and had it x-rayed. It was fractured horizontally, not vertically. Thank heaven for small favors. The vet said he couldn't tell if the pulp was still alive or not, only time would tell.

So I've been flushing the wound every day with antiseptic mouthwash and brushing that tooth.

Yep, Really. I. Have. Been. Brushing. That. Tooth.
 Rem is really good about it. I just hand twitch his nose out of the way and brush gently.
 This is the same tooth after one month. The flesh is healing and the tooth hasn't died ...yet. The other teeth are still baby teeth. Lord help him when they fall out.
He was sore and a little bit unfocused for the first few weeks, so I didn't ride much. But now it seems better, so we are back on the training path.
It's always something....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sunday Stills~ Clouds

Spring over Alhambra Valley, 2012

Valley Oak standing vigil over sleeping vineyard,2012

Both of these pictures were taken with my camera phone and then enhanced and re sized with PicMonkey. It's almost as good as my last program, and it gives great results!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cleaning house is hard to do

I've taken first 'baby' steps to cleaning house. Yep- another Garage Sale.
I usually have at least one a year, but somehow the 'stuff' never seems to go away. Today though, with the help of Lil Mama and my good friend Tericita I was able to sell a bunch of small items and donate a bunch of large ones. In fact the whole bed of my Dually is full to the brim with donations that will go away tomorrow as soon as the Donation Trailer opens.

I do have to admit though, that I tried to wriggle out of the sale. Lil Mama held firm and the whole day was successful. I still don't have empty closets or a cleared garage, but I am working on it!

Thanks ladies!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

God is in the details, not the minutia

I'm as guilty of this as anyone. But as of today, I am going to change my ways.
I am speaking about what we now term as ' hording'. Not animal hording, but just plain old keeping-stuff around-because-you-might-have-a-use-for-it-someday-and-it-is-just-too-good-to-throw-it-away type of hording.
What has brought me to this major life decision? Working as a receiver for the auction house. There is nothing like going through someone elses' 'stuff ' that will change your mind about keeping things.
Case in point: the 'collection' I am working on right now,(and this is not unusual for this type of work).

They had a happy life, full of travel and adventure and maybe a few kids and grand kids. They were well read and I think they leaned a little toward pretentious. For whatever reason, all of their earthly belongings have landed in my receiving dock. Stacks of stuff. And almost all of it in multiples. That's right- more than one of every item.
If they had one alarm clock, they had three. Of the same type, age,vintage...They had cartons and cartons of books, in multiples. They had every bread wrapper and twisty tie and glass jar (the kind that had jam or pickles or chili sauce in them) they had EVER bought. Really.

He considered him self a great chronicler,there were boxes of onion skin paper manuscripts carefully typed out and edited and 'final' drafts. She collected items that started with the first letter of her name. Thousands of them. And boxes and boxes and boxes of saran wrap and zip-lock type baggies.

This is only scratching the surface. There are photos and postcards and matchbook covers and brochures of ships they sailed with, people they met, swizzle sticks, shampoo bottles and hotel shower hats. Bath mats and soap, cleaner and toilet brushes-in multiples-all new.

Now I come home at night and I throw stuff into a big box. All of the broken watches, and boxes of paper that are too good to throw away, I throw away. The pieces of brick-a-brack, the broken sunglasses I intend to fix someday- I throw away. The old towels that are frayed, the comforters that I don't need, the blouses I won't wear because they are still in good condition but out of style- I am giving to charity. The stacks of books that are very old and of now interest to anyone, I am giving to the library. I am divesting myself- but more importantly- I am saving my children and any family I will leave behind - from having to make the choice to box every single thing and let someone else decide what is worthy and what is not. I am making the choice. And I am deciding what is worthy to leave behind- so that when I finally do go to the great Rodeo in the sky (or in the ground) my family will know what I deemed important- and they will deem it important too.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Old friends, and new attitudes

What a Grand Weekend we had!

It rained so hard on Thursday I thought we were all going to float away. The rings were flooded and we couldn't ride at all. But by Thursday night the rain had stopped and the wind started. 
It blew the water right off the arena footing, and by Friday morning we were all ready to go out and show.  
This is me on Remington. I'd like to say I am not really so goofy looking- but I would be lying. 
Remington was just great! He cried a little bit, but he settled down right away. I lunged and rode him on Thursday and by Friday he was pretty much okay with the whole horse show thing. 
He raised his head and neck to look at everything, but he always went forward and never took a spooky or balky step. Not once! 

Denise brought her youngster William to the show. He was all eyes and neck for the first day, but by time I took this picture he was beginning to calm down. He's just the cutest little horse! 

Bar Hoppin Bob looks great here on the rail with Lil' Mama, but the judges just don't like his style. She took him in an English Equitation class and he seemed to be much more interested in doing that than this Hunter Under Saddle Class. He'll be 16 this year, and those young, scopey appendix horses are sure hard to beat at in an AQHA English class

Here is Denise and our Trainer extraordinaire' Jacqueline Allen Burke of Superior Quarter Horses. 
I have never had so much fun with a couple of women!


Here is Bob on course in the English Eq. class. 

Bob's redeeming quality is that he LOVES little kids. This little boy just wanted to hug and climb all over him. Of course the little boy did have a bag of cookies with him, and Bob loves cookies too. I thought Lil Mamma was gonna have a heart attack warning the Mom to keep the little boys fingers out of Bob's mouth and his feet free from Bob's big shoes. 

This is the look of Eagles wouldn't you say? 

Obviously I didn't instruct Lil Mamma in the fine art of photography from a distance. I'll have to do better next time. 
This was our Friday class. We were on course and he was very willing to go through every obstacle. Of course, we hit every one of them in some way! Tick tick tick bang! My score for this day was 51.5. Keep in mind that everyone starts out with 60 points and for every good obstacle you get  pluses point and for every tick you get minus's. 
And I had only been practicing the obstacles for three days- just since bringing him home from Jaq's training barn.
On Saturday in the Trail Class we scored 65.5! I've won classes with a score like that- but not this time. This time there were scores of 70 and 74! Accomplished horses for sure!

I might mention here that I also went into my first Walk Jog Western Pleasure class in 20 years ( Literally). 
Wow! Blew my mind! 
There is so much to remember- keep the legs on so his head stays down ( spur stops), and don't go so fast that you pass the guy in front of you, and don't run up someones tail . 
And go deep into the corners and claim your real estate on the rail early. Watch the judge and school when she's not watching. 
And don't forget to breathe. 
Or smile. 
Oh yeah, and there are thirty others in the ring with you. 
But...
We made it around the rail and I remembered some of those instructions. 
So now I also have to work on my ringmanship. 

But the best part of all was hanging with all my friends around a good meal. And take a close look at this picture...
See the woman on the right with the fork of spaghetti in her mouth...
YEP! Cynthia Cantleberry! My Hero! 
She sat down and ate and visited with us and then thanked US for letting her sit down! 
I could hardly speak ( a first) I was so happy! She's an amazing woman and as down home as you will ever find. If you ever see her in your neck of the woods, say hi. She'll return the smile tenfold. 




KBG and her horse Sure to Winsome ( Shirley) came back to the show pen this year after a two year absence. 
They did a great job. She placed forth in Fridays show, but not in Saturdays show. I have a feeling she placed in Sundays show, but since the placings aren't posted for that day until after 6 PM  I won't know her score- or mine- for another week or so ( until it on the website). I was just glad she came back to the show pen. She's just a ray of sunshine, as you can probably tell. 
We visited late into the evenings, ( when we should have been sleeping)! But isn't that really what horse shows are for? Keeping up and remembering old friends?
My whole attitude about showing has made a leap forward. 
I'm looking forward to the summer and more horse shows, thanks to Jaq Burke, Skipin out West and all my horse show buddies!

Jill was our surrogate Horse show mom this weekend. She loves the horses and they love her!