Spring Green-Lenten Writing #20

Nothing says spring for me more than perfect, new foals and lush green pastures. 

Beautiful AQHA filly by Guys Easy Jet Out of Really Zippy by Zip Cash photo courtesy of Tiffany Cox.

Lauren says that spring is her favorite season of the year. Hard to argue with that as everything greens up, the pastures come back to life and the trees fire up with green leaves.  All around the farm, new life is emerging. Whether it is the bulbs that push hard against the soil to make their way to the light, or the baby bunny we spot in the trees, the process of rejuvenation is upon us.

I have heard it said that the Eskimos have 100 words for white. I could easily find 100 words for green. The hues that lessen and deepen as my eye travels across the land is nothing short of a spectacular spring show.  

I am reminded of an incident that happened when I was in high school. We came to school one day to find Budweiser beer cans tied on the branches of a trees. And what was the spring message from the hooligans that did this?  The message was “this tree is in Bud!”.  I will never forget that. I could probably even find the picture in one of the yearbooks. Maybe some of you reading this will remember that incident as well. Or perhaps you were even responsible for it. I always remember it in the spring as I watch the first buds appear in the trees.

Spring as the traditional time of rejuvenation offers hope and an opportunity to rebuild oneself. Spring is the time for the resurrection and new life. It is a beautiful Spring day in Texas and I am so happy to be a part of life.
I promise spring will be with all of you soon regardless of where you live. Wait for it. Embrace it. Rejoice.
As always, thanks for riding along. 

How to avoid quitting-LentenWriting #19


We have a guest blog today as I continue with my goal/pledge to blog every day of the Lenton season. Our guest, Nicola Smith, has a wonderful background both in physical education background and as a dressage rider and trainer. Here is one of my favorite quotes from her which presents a beautiful graphic. 

“I remember someone saying to me once that training a dressage horse is like training a gymnast without being able to talk to them. It takes great skill, patience and the right training and mindset. They are (such) incredibly powerful and willing animals that its incredible what we are able to achieve when the training is right and we build a solid foundation to do so and we simply can’t do this without having a healthy body and mind to do it from,” Nicola Smith. 

I have had several post about goals. You’re probably sick of hearing about my dressage lessons when you didn’t even know how to spell Dressage previously,  much less what it meant. But, there’s always a but, I recently saw this article which I came upon at perfect time for me and perhaps for you, midway through March as we are.

This is the time of year when a lot of original goals for 2017 have been forgotten about, not accomplished regularly, or just given up on. This article by UK writer Nicola Smith  -was perfect for me. Please click on the link below and enjoy some inspiration.

http://dressageridertraining.com/blog/how-to-avoid-quitting/

Thank you Nicola for allowing us a look into your riding world and access to your blog.
More about Nicola-

http://dressageridertraining.com/about/
As always thanks for riding along. 

Get Going-Lenten Writing #18

Lauren loving on her boys, Sims and Mickey

There’s a lot to be said about the old adage when you’re grieving over an animal go spend time with the ones you have. Last night Lauren was surprised in her bed by three of the cats, George, Izzy, and Jack Cat who never came upstairs when Sebastian was alive. Now they are very happy to come up and spend time with Lauren. And it was great for her to have their company.
Today was just spent with the horses, cats and dogs on a beautiful Texas spring day. While Lauren was up at her trainer’s riding I was down at our barn riding my mare, Nova. Lauren rode three horses while I rode one but I am pretty old. 
I had just gotten off when she got home and was hoping she would join me at the barn.  The next thing I knew she was in the pasture hanging out with Sims and Mickey. Sims was taking a sunbath and she got down next to him which for those of you that don’t know horses, most horses will not let you come stand next to them or be on top of them when they’re in that type a vulnerable position. Centuries of being prey to many other animals have kept them from trusting anyone near them when they cannot get up. 

But Sims loves his Lauren and he was perfectly content to lay there with his big body in the sun while she patted his head and gave them a lot of love. Her boy Mickey, not to be left out, kept a close eye on the whole deal.

Later in the afternoon I worked some more on cleaning up the weeds that have grown instead of my plants. Hopefully later this week Lauren and Ally will get me a flatbed full of mulch and I can get all these beds completed. I love my gardens!! My back does not love gardening so much. Oh well.

Thank you to all they gave us such kind notes about the loss of Lauren’s cat. It was very much appreciated. Hope you all are having a terrific Sunday afternoon. As always, thanks for riding along. 

Life goes on – Lenton Writing #17

Morning at Six Meadow Farm- photo courtesy of Lisa Roemer


Life for everyone is a series of ups and downs. I definitely feel them and although I go along with the tide, there are times the tide knocks me down and takes away my breath.

This morning we were forced to put down one of Lauren’s Burmese cats. He had been experiencing medical difficulties and had an accident on the stairs. Our only path forward was to let him go. 

I know that some people who do not have pets or horses just don’t seem to get it. I guess they just think it is like getting a stain on their favorite shirt – troublesome but not a big deal. They don’t offer their condolences or really seem to realize why you’re upset. May I never grow to be that way.

Also, I went with Lauren to her trainer’s today.  Her trainer has recently built a new place and everything looks so nice. Plus, the property itself seems so peaceful. What a great place!

Next, we headed out to take Betty Sue some new feed. She is not wanting to eat the food she normally consumes. Apparently, she is on a hunger strike.  Hopefully, a change in food is all that is needed. 

We thought we had Betty Sue really ready to go but she is putting up a bit of a fight and not being a star pupil. I would not want her to be a mushy, push-over but also I don’t want to have a fight every time I get on her back.  Best case, she will put up a little bit of a fight because she is a strong, confident mare but hopefully that strength pays off in spades when we get her out in the arena doing something she was born to do. 

I feel she’s made great strides in the week that she has been with the trainer. I’ll see how she’s doing by next week. 

In the end, you just got to keep riding on. Thank you.  

Presents- Lenten writing #16


I got new presents to share with my horse Nova who is officially registered as Investment Art by Indian ArtifactXArtful Move out of Stone Heart Tivio. 

I’ve talked about my goals in dressage a lot. But not unlike the shoemakers kids who have no shoes -I spend a lot of money on horse gear but it is not typically for my horse. I got the lovely gift of a beautiful leather halter and a very nice dressage pad both with Investment Art on them.  

Today was the first day that I was able to try out my present on Nova. I have to say that they looked pretty awesome. The halter fit perfectly and the pad was great.

On top of that Jordyn and I had a semi-private lesson with our instructor Nancy. And for the very first time Jordyn was able to ride along with me at the canter. Not only was she able to hold her canter well and is improving her hands, she also managed to successfully take part in a couple of our cantering leg yielding exercises. 

What fun it was to have both of us doing the exact same things in the lesson. And how much Jordyn has grown as a rider. I still have way more to learn as does she. 

A good night on the farm. That is a gift as well. 

Thanks for riding along. 

One of those days-Lenten writing #15

The day really started out OK. I had to see the doctor today and I was fasting for a long time before my appointment this afternoon. Did not put me in the best of moods. Seeing the doctor these days is an oddly challenging event.  I want to listen to her words of advice yet so much of me rebelles against what I am being told. I cannot control my body and the way it functions and that makes me insane.

New doses of medication were prescribed which will result in another few weeks of trials and side effects, all so we can move it around some more. Never will the condition/disease be perfectly handled. It becomes a question of which is worse the side effects, the drug or condition/disease. I once heard a doctor I worked for describe this process to a patient as the tail is wagging the dog. I know you have all had similar frustrations.

Today we’re just going to go with something simple like prayers for some of my dear, dear friends who recently, heart shatteringly, lost their baby horses. One at two years of age in a ridiculous yet fatal accident (ridiculous in that things like this should not happen). And another baby foal who never got up once it had been born. 

I am so sorry for them. I know in many ways these are first world problems. But the heartbreaks nonetheless.

So I’m going to leave us with this picture of hopeful inspiration.


And I will hang out with my girl Izzy who provides comfort to me as another day ends. 

Thanks for riding along.

Give blood!-Lenten Writing #14

Caitlyn soaring to new heights on Camero

In how many ways do you give blood?  Not necessarily in the purest sense of donating blood but by giving so much of yourself to the success of a project that you feel you have just donated a pint.  You walk away a wee bit woozy and more than a little bit drained.

My documentation of giving blood (the real red kind) is long.  Actually, today I updated my phone number while donating blood and it was my phone number from when I lived in Florida-at least 17 years ago.  Being part of the health care world for so long, giving blood was an important gift we were really all expected to give.  I have never stopped.

But this blog today is more about the life altering projects, the horses you take from babies to Grand Prixes and all of those grand passions which drive you forward in life.  It is about that thing that you do that maybe hard, so difficult, but makes a big difference either for you or for others. 
So today not a long blog just a reminder that there are so many ways that we give blood every day or throughout our lives. And no matter if your project is getting fit enough to run a marathon, soaring your horse over new heights, or just promoting the best in every person you meet, give blood.


And while you’re at it donate some blood too!  

As always, thanks for riding along. 

Daylight Fun Nights– Lenton Writings #14

Between being off celebrating my birthday on a cruise and day after day of rain I have seen my Houston-based grandchildren very little. Certainly we have not been out to ride together.
Last night on the fly I asked Ally if they wanted to come over and eat pizza.  I have two poodles (of course) and Ally’s family has one. They all go to the same groomer. The girls drop them off and I pick them up on my way home from work. It was grooming day so a perfect day for all of us to meet up since they had to come over to get their dog anyway. 

As I was driving home from the groomer I got a text that asked if the girls could stay on after dinner and ride. Since little Kendyll did her Secretariat inspired run on Diva, subsequently falling off, she has been less inclined to want to ride. Jordyn just hasn’t been on the back of a horse for a while.
While things were drying up and not perfect riding conditions,  it was good enough for an evening ride with the added bonus of daylight savings time giving us much more sunlight to enjoy.

We headed out to the arena, me with Nova, Jordyn with Mickey and Kendyll planning to ride Diva. But Diva was a little full of it and Kendyll was a little reluctant and one thing lead to another which put Kendyll riding double along with granny.

It is in the spontaneous moments that fun florishes. With this change, Lauren decided to get on Diva, with her shorts, bare legs and non-riding shoes. Diva was dressed with Jordyn’s saddle and just a halter and lead rope. Kendyll and I had a lot of fun walking over trot poles and around jumps.
Diva actually looked great having come back from her adventure of being stuck in the fence to being completely sound and ready to go. In fact in the little time that Lauren worked her at the trot and the canter, I don’t know that I’ve never seen her go so fluently and quietly. That was nice to see. I suggested that we head out and ride around the pasture since all the other horses were up in their stalls. 

Jordan was a little skeptical of her ability to control Mickey but we assured her she would be fine. Off we trooped down and around the pasture with all the dogs following behind. 
We have a hill in the bottom pasture where we dumped all the sod and dirt we had taken out of the arena when we constructed it. Kendyll and I went up one side and down the other with her laughing all the way.

I like the idea of riding double as Kendyll was getting all the feel of riding (and could adequately identify whatever gait we were in) while not having to worry about the steering or the horse running off.  It was pretty great. 

It was nice to see the pastures with the grass growing so green and lush. Apparently, the rain was good for something. We also surveyed the damage from the winter storms. We had a few fallen trees and branches. 

Wasn’t long before Lauren decided riding Diva in shorts and in Jordyn’s tiny saddle was not that wonderful and she wanted off. Jordyn chose to get off at that time too. Kendyll and I just kept on going pausing for a few minutes for a photo and then heading on down the driveway.  

Finally, it was time to call it a night. We did spend a few minutes before going in playing with Sims. He wanted to hang out real close to me. I just wanted to take his picture with Jordyn!


 I think both girls had a nice time and I sure enjoyed being with them. It is these impromptu opportunities to enjoy my family and my horses that means so much to me. 

I hope if you’re in the Northeast you’re hunkered down and staying warm and safe. Storms have moved on from here and we are glad. As always, thanks for riding along. 

 

They Said-Lenten Writing #13

I am sharing a post from my fellow blogger, Dave.  Nothing serious just about things we all may deal with at one time or another-things they say.  Hope you enjoy it.  Thanks for riding along. 

They Said . . .

by Dave

They said, cook it in the oven.   They said, it’ll be much easier . . . yeah right.

I really like bacon, however since I have been a one person household it has not been a staple in my kitchen.  Probably a combination of three reasons: the stuff is expensive, it isn’t very healthy and it is kind of a mess to cook and clean up just for one person.

A couple weeks ago I smoked some ribs, brisket and other stuff.  I wanted to try a new process on a pork loin, I needed some bacon.  The loin was good and I had some bacon left, sure wasn’t going to throw that high dollar stuff away, so I broke out the old cast iron skillet and fried me some bacon.  It took a little elbow grease to degrease the skillet, stove top and surrounding area but by god that bacon was good.  I ate some and froze some (just a little test), a few seconds in the microwave and it was almost as good as the fresh fried version.

The next time I went to the grocery store a 1 ½ lb. (did you ever wonder who decided lb. was the appropriate abbreviation for pound) package mysteriously found its way into my shopping cart.

The plan was to cook all the bacon and freeze it so I could use one or five pieces at a time as the appetite dictated.  I have also always wanted to have that little container of bacon grease available to enhance the flavor of all sorts of things; mom always had a jar of bacon grease on the stove.

I used my old friend, Google, to determine the best way to accomplish this simple little project.  Google said it would be much easier to cook the bacon in the oven and that I could store the grease almost indefinitely in the fridge in a glass or ceramic container, no plastic.

There were several opinions about the best way to oven cook bacon, all of them used a shallow pan or cookie sheet, I have this like new, although it is several years old, sheet cake pan, the consensus temp seemed to be 400, my oven will do that. Opinions differed on placing the bacon on a baking rack in the pan or just placing it directly in the bottom of the pan.  I decided, to keep the grease a little cleaner, I should use the rack method.  I don’t own a baking rack, I don’t even know what that is, and so I improvised and used a rack out of my smoker.  Looks like all I need to do is oven cook me a bunch of bacon.

My pan/rack deal would only hold about half the bacon, not a big deal I’ll just do two batches.  Oven preheated, bacon neatly arranged on rack, timer set for 18 minutes, time to relax and wait.

A little FYI, I have two smoke detectors in the house, one about three steps from the previously mentioned oven, the other way back at the other end of the house.  You wonder why I mention this, hang on.

At about the ten minute mark I decided to peek at the bacon, the smoke detector went crazy.  I pushed every button on the thing, it was still screaming, I ripped it off the ceiling, still screaming.  I opened the battery compartment, no battery, probably removed as the result of a previous cooking adventure gone badly.  It was the detector way back at the other end of the house.  I made a mental note to get smoke detector batteries next time I’m in town or maybe not.

The first batch cooked to perfection (perfection might be a little strong) in about 22 minutes.  I immediately reloaded and started batch number two.  The ten minute check this time produced a tremendous amount of smoke, I opened all the doors, there was enough smoke I am surprised the neighbors didn’t call the fire department, in fact I considered calling. I got the oven closed and the smoke cleared and let the stuff continue cooking, like the first batch it came out just right.

 

IMG_0717

I have a few thoughts on what went wrong but I won’t bore you with them other than to say I have never seen that much grease in one oven.  A little in the bottom could be expected but this thing had grease on the sides, the top was even covered.  I just thank god for that self-clean cycle and I believe one or two more cycles the thing will actually be clean again.

The end result, a nice package of precooked bacon in the freezer, about a half cup or maybe more of bacon grease in a little glass container ready to enhance my next meal and the kitchen almost back in order.

My little glass container is the bottom of a wine bottle; I think I cut wine bottles better than I cook bacon.

IMG_0718

I think next time I want to cook some bacon I’ll use the old cast iron skillet.

I know I haven’t been here in a few months.  Life has been good; I just haven’t done anything I felt worthy of passing to your side of the keyboard, and mid-January to mid-March remains a quiet and personal time for me.

Since I am here I will mention, I had cataract surgery about a month ago and for the first time in my life I have 20/20 vision without glasses or contacts.

I’m not sure when I’ll be back, maybe sooner rather than later.

Good night and God bless.

Dave

Resurrection (of my gardens)-Lenten Writing #11

My tropical plants after the 50 hour freeze from January

Earlier this year when Lauren was basking in the sun of Florida, we received for the first time since I’ve lived in Houston, a long term freeze.  

Houston sitting on the Gulf Coast, is in a sub-tropical climate. Rarely, like maybe a couple of hours a year, our temperatures might drip below freezing. Even if this happens a couple of times, we have never in the 17 years I have been here, had to get through several hours much less days of temps below 32.

 The weekend of the frozen hell started with the temperatures dipping down very quickly and without enough preparation on my part. I did the things I thought I would need to do for the horses and the animals but it was our first time at the new house to have temperatures this low.

We had every reason to believe that this house was better insulated, our pipes were safely covered and deep in the ground. We did not have that at our home in Wharton and literally had to turn the water off at the well to keep all of our pipes from freezing every time it got cold. 

So to begin with, as the temperature started to fall and fall on its path all the way to 23°, absolutely unheard of here, we did OK. But then before I knew it there was no water.

At our old house if we needed to prepare for the possibility of frozen water lines we would fill the bathtubs. We would fill buckets.  We would make sure all the troughs were filled with clean water.  We would make sure we to filled extra buckets in the barn but we just did not anticipate this and I was here alone with Lauren away. Ally essentially moved in. 

Oh, and a glimpse into my personal life. This whole no water thing meant no flush toilets, no ability to take a bath or shower, no washing dishes, no even just washing your hands. 

Then, things got worse before they got better. As the temperatures came up a little bit above freezing for part of the day on Sunday the water spicket on the north outside wall began thawing. The water line actually exploded-broke off-when it did this water started shooting like a firehose off the side of the house. We went from not enough water to way too much water. 

Fortunately, Luke was there to save the day. We got that water turned off and started to work on unfreezing the lines that went to the barn. Bit by bit we got the farm back working and the horses having some water to drink.

Again in the category of I just didn’t think, were all my much loved and specifically chosen tropical plants that make up my garden here. I’ve always been a big Gardner and have enjoyed it very much. My best place was in Florida where I had all these tropical plants including at least 20 varieties of orchids. Texas has proven to be more difficult to get the kind of plants and flowerbeds that I want. It certainly isn’t Florida. 

I should’ve covered the plants but again with so much on my shoulders on that weekend, the plants just did not get the care they needed. Many of the specimens I had here I had brought from Florida when I came. Had thousands of dollars of unique plants that were just killed in the freeze. 

Anyway reeling from the loss and not feeling physically or mentally ready to take on refurbishing the gardens all over again, I have waited. With all the rain we’ve been having it’s a perfect time to pull the weeds, take out the frozen tundra (the dead remains of my plants) and start over.

I am not replacing much of what I had grown before. I am trying new things and hoping that if we do have a freeze these new choices will get me through better than the old ones.

Previously, Allamanda vines twirled all the way to the lush thick top and assorted flowers were in the garden below.

Still needs additional specimens and lots of mulch but a big project under attack today


Resurrection happening here!

Thanks for riding along.