Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hawaiian Memory

Hawaii -- October 2001.
Dad and I had just finished breakfast at the Volcano House. We'd had pancakes and eggs, of course this was not the food that was supposed to be on Dad's diet, but we had splurge from his regular oatmeal breakfast.

We decided to step into the trinket shop and browse before heading out to take a tour of the volcano craters. I found a couple of post cards and was checking the price of film. Remember ... this was the pre digital era for me.
I'd decided I had enough film with me to last the day and aside from purchasing some bottled water there wasn't anything we really needed.

I walked up with Dad to the check out.
Dad even with his macular degeneration disease which had made him legally blind...spotted the candy bars.
*I want a Butterfinger,* he said.
*Dad, you just had pancakes, you don't need a candy bar.* I edged up to the counter and smiled at the clerk.
*I want a Butterfinger.* He repeated just a touch louder, and began to reach for the candy.
*You don't need one,* I sort of hissed at him, dropping my cards on the counter and handed over two water bottles.
The lady smiled at us and asked, *Find everything okay?*
[I hate it when they do that!]

Dad took it as his cue.
*My daughter won't buy me a Butterfinger candybar,* he quipped, *Isn't that mean of her? Her poor old dad just wants ONE candybar and she won't let him have it.*

I looked sideways at Dad. Oh geeze. I reached down for the Butterfingers and dropped two onto the pile for the clerk to ring up.

*Now that is a nice daughter isn't it?* Dad said, smiling his old man charming smile at the clerk, who of course smiled back and nodded.
*But now she'll probably make me ride in the trunk back to Kona...* he paused for effect, *...like she did on the way here because she said I wasn't behaving.*
He clutched the now paid for Butterfinger ...
and started to slide out towards the door.

The clerk stared at me as if I was from Mars.
I was seething...or embarrassed...or

When I hit the parking lot on Dad's heels he was laughing. I couldn't help it, I unlocked the Dodge Neon and burst out laughing too.

We slid in together and I turned to him. *You know, I should make you ride in the trunk! What if that clerk thought I was abusing you!*

Dad grinned, happy to have gotten one over on me and happier yet to be the recipient of a Butterfinger.

So now I cannot see a Butterfinger without thinking of Dad 'riding in the trunk'. I cannot think of the volcanoes in Hawaii, without thinking of that moment in the store when my Dad got one over on me.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Music to my ears

Yesterday I was doing some yard work. Shoveling gravel back onto the driveway--the result of a heavy and long winter where the skid steer had piled huge amounts of snow.

I was so tickled to hear the house wren! Excited enough to get my husband and get him to come and listen also. What pleasure it brought to the both of us.

When I was a kid, my Grandma Lind always talked about the birds and was able to identify any bird by it's song or call. She used to complain that the wren was always 'scolding' her for some reason.
We'd be working in the garden and we'd hear the wren:
Wren Song

And Grandma would look up from her hoeing and smile. *That darned wren, why does she always have to scold me?*

From then on I could never hear a wren without thinking of my Grandmother talking about the fiesty little bird that was always too busy for any pleasure and would scold humans for not working hard enough. Well that was my Grandmother's explanation.

My next favorite bird song is that of the Chickadee. When my older boy was young, he could imitate them perfectly.

Black Cap Chickadee

And lastly my favorite song to hear is the wood thrush. We hear this when we go to Wildcat Mtn State Park and ride. The recording I found doesn't do the thrush justice but we often stop our riding and just sit and listen to them. Their songs are hauntingly beautiful.

Wood Thrush

So on this dreary day of snow in late April...I give you some songs to enjoy. Click on the link to the wood thrush and listen to 46 seconds of gorgeous music.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What was I thinking?

Gloomy rainy morning.
Dark, dreary, kind of ugly...

Soon I found myself doing something quite out of character.
Cleaning the House.

The top of the fridge....
Way scary place.
I never look up there so I didn't see the grungy dust Bison gathering in great herds...ready to launch an attack.

The window washing lady never came around, I was hoping someone else would do it...I was hoping the thrashing rain last night would clean them. Alas, I did some windows too.

This includes the vacumming, shaking rugs, washing rugs, and then washing the floors. It is still 'mud' season, but it was getting hard to tell the mud from the rest of the floor.

If I put on my good glasses and looked hard, I could see cobwebs building and multiplying before my very eyes. I took drastic measures. I used a kitchen chair and soapy water, and washed those buggers away.

Never have figured out the allure of dusting. But I did decide to put away every knick knack I could lay a hand on.

I was saved by sunshine...bright beautiful sunshine. And my hubby came in to ask if I was going to clean Peach's stall like I'd promised to yesterday while riding!

Yes! I don't mind cleaning a stall...but the house.

Hmmm, some sort of strange priorities going on here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Does this saddle make my butt look big?

Sunshine is a mule concerned with her looks. I mean truly she is, her mom Cheyenne was always fussing about which saddle pad would make her 'look' better. So I guess the little red mule may have inherited some of that.

Sunshine did not inherit her mom's tendency to absolutely freak out at things though. Instead she has the tendency to do a half 180 and then stare at the offending 'monster'. This is nice because you aren't trying to evade trees and branches in a heavily wooded area on a bucking bronco.

I had intended on riding solo, or trying it in the woods with Sunshine, but hubby decided he'd come too. He brought Opal, who is 22 years old. Opal was more of an idiot than Sunshine, who had a stellar performance.

Except for the monster mule eating chipmunk that was lurking dangerously inside a downed tree. Sunshine turned and stared. She 'thought' about spooking...she watched the log. The chipmunk squeaked at her.

She snorted.
Then I leaned over and whispered to her:
*This kind of chipmunk only eats mules who's name begins with an 'O'.*

Sunshine sighed and we moved on.

I love it when a ride goes so smoothly.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Out for a breath of fresh air..

Today turned out remarkably beautiful. The predicted rain didn't really occur. In fact it turned out warm and sunny so that I became very tempted to saddle up Badger and see if I could find the trails I'd marked and cleared. Some of the trails were simply deer paths that I cleaned up a bit.

I took my flip video and thought I'd try it while riding. I only used it on the easy part of the trails as sometimes I have to urge and guide Mr. Mule with both hands when he decides that 'his' way is a better way ... especially while crossing steep ditches.

He did very nicely crossing the water. We had to re-learn some manners while crossing a ditch though.
Mr. Mule can walk nice.

By the time we returned he was sweating around his ears and acting as if I'd taken him on a 100 mile ride.
Naw, he wasn't that tired, but the sun came out and it warmed up quickly. This made Mr. Mule hot in his still shaggy winter coat.
It was lovely!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Time well wasted

I packed up my cameras, and headed out with Morris, the Brave to take a long awaited hike into the neighbor's valley and do some spring exploring. It has been so long since I've walked on the ground there!

The last time I walked through this valley I was wearing snow shoes!
Now spring has arrived, with such wonders as Skunk Cabbage ... pretty to look at but don't mess with it.

Today and tomorrow will be filled with rain. That is okay, the south hillsides were actually quite dry.
I took the second photo of one of the places that I used to cross this small creek quite often. You can see what last year's flash flood did to it and how the spring 'runoff' has caused erosion.

It never ceases to amaze me, this Mother Nature thing. She is always re-decorating and people....and the DNR are always trying to come up with ways to 'better' her improvements.
I say leave it alone.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Boot Sucking Mud Season

It happens every year. Anyone who owns livestock knows what I'm talking about. Tis the season where the ground that used to be solid becomes a sucking quagmire that even your livestock wishes to avoid in their winter pasture.

When I took Sunshine back out to her pasture I tried to lead her through the gate. I stepped out carefully.
And there I was.
If I lifted my foot, I was going to loose my rubber chore boot in the muck.
I couldn't go forward, I couldn't go back.
And Sunshine stood looking at me as if to inquire as to what my problem was...but she knew because she didn't want to go through it either.

I tugged on her lead rope just a bit and got her to step up to me. There I put my arm over her neck on hung on to her for balance while I worked my stuck foot out of the muck.
She stood quietly. And I thanked the 'mule gods' for giving me such a patient little mule.

I untied her halter and used her to make my way back to solid ground, the muddied water and muck came very close to my boot tops.
[Note to self: get higher chore boots?]

I flicked my hand at Sunshine while I closed the gate and she carefully, daintily made her way through the 'boot sucking mud' and out to dryer ground where she rolled and sighed deeply.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just some Sunshine

I like to ride Solo.

So I look for qualities in the animals I work with to see if they will be up to 'snuff'.
So I've been 'making' time to go t
he extra effort and work with Sunshine my little red mule.
I want her to be as solid and dependable as Badger.

I know not everyone likes to ride solo, nor do I think it is always smart to do. But sometimes
I am in situations where I have to make sure that my mount will not fuss and take comfort in me and not look for another equine.

In other words, pay attention. I have a mare who I will not ride solo because solo .. she is an accident waiting to happen.
With another horse or mule she is quite content that the monster will eat the other equine first.

Sunshine has had experience but has had two yrs off. I've been working with her everyday inside our shed in the round pen since it has been so horribly cold, rainy and muddy.

Today I saddled her in the round pen rode her a couple trips
around and told hubby to open the gate. Out we went. Aside from taking a good look at odd things like a flatbed trailer [Sunshine said it would eat her mom...the ninny that can't ride solo].

We reached the bottom of the hill and she never looked back at the gals in the pasture. Off we went up the road past the neighbor's [they had a 4 wheeler running]...out to the tobacco shed and returned home.

I think she wanted to explore more.

But I didn't. It was rather windy on the ridge and felt safer down in our wooded area.
She may just make a solo mule after all.

I gave her a pat on the rump when I put her back out in the mucky pasture and
told her she'd live yet another day. She's a good little red mule.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Horse Auction~or Liar's Meet?

Small town horse auctions are comparable to Liar's Meets. Who can tell the Tallest Tale of the virtues of the horse they are either leading into the stock ring or riding into it.

'This here mare had 90 days professional training on her when she was 2 yrs old!' The man claims as he brings in a horse saddled. 'She was ridden all last year by my wife and never did nothing wrong!'
The man puts a foot in the stirrup and tries to mount the horse. In truth, the fella should not have been trying to show off this mare's attributes when he didn't even know how to mount.

The little bay mare's eyes widen with surprise and she starts a humpin' and a bumpin'. Two ring men run up and catch the horse by the bridle and an Amish ringman drags the fella off.

The auctioneer says, 'All right fellas, let's get a bid on this horse.' The crowd chuckles a bit.
The man says [waving his hands], 'This horse has had professional training -- she ain't never done nothin' wrong!'
He succeeds in getting on this time despite the auctioneer's warning to please NOT to.
The mare spins and nearly falls. Again the fella selling her gets dragged off. The lead ring man shakes his head.

Well the bidding got all the way up to $150. The gavel cracks down and 'Sold to number 131 for $150!'
The seller looks like he is going to protest when someone shouts out, 'That $150 will keep your wife from getting hurt!'

Another man rides in on a horse.

'What's this horse's story?' The auctioneer cries out.

'This horse is 8 years old and been trail rode all its life.' The horse meanwhile is pulling at the bit and shaking its head.

The man turns the horse back and forth, 'He ain't been rode for the past two years and I just took him outta the pasture today and he rode off just fine!'
The man uses his spurs to quicken the turning action of the horse in the small stock ring.
Then it happens. It's the sort of thing you see race car fans doing when there's a wreck. Everyone leans forward towards the action, sort of holding their breath.

The horse snorts, let's out some sort of noise and proceeds to provide the audience with a rodeo that would equal most National Circuits.

No one was hurt, but people were climbing out of the ring and jumping around. The rider loosened up the back girth and took it off.
The blame was laid on a tight back girth.

More stories of the virtues of the horse continued.
Interesting as it may seem, this horse was one of the high selling horses. It sold for over a $1,000.

The horse market is in sad shape. And as I talked to the auctioneer afterwards, he commented on the amount of people who were not prepared nor did they present their horses well.
I have to agree. If you are selling a product, clean it up and present it well.
People can see through the lies, we've all heard them before.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Well now

My beautiful Stepdaughter has a wonderful blog and she is a fantastic writer! I think she told me that she wasn't...but I've found her blog to be really cool. I won't provide a link as it is sorta private.

My day at work went fantastic! I mean utterly wonderfully fantastic.
So enough said about that.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Days like this...

I rarely answer the phone becuase it is usually for hubby.

Imagine my surprise to get this.
"V, this is J [former boss]. When are you coming in to train the new gal? She needs help."

Me, cautiously: I'm working full time, don't have spare time.


Him: Well you need to come in and help her, you are hurting her by not training her.
(am I supposed to break down and cry now? I've been gone over 2 wks and truly don't have spare time.)

Me: Silence, thinking.

Him: It is not fair to her you are hurting the new gal, so call me. It doesn't bother me a bit but you are hurting her.

Click~end of conversation. Hmm.
Well he hung up on me so I have no impulsive feelings to 'rush' out and have anything to do with him.

Besides, no one trained me either.

Was this a jab at a guilt trip?

My proper response should have been something like this:
"And this affects me how?" Too late to come back with an answer like that.

Now the new girls at work, the two ones that I will be working with have done their best to make me feel welcome. This includes things such as~~~ When I say good morning in cheery way: Blank stares and not a word.

The gal that is training me is tired of them being cold like they were to her. I laugh about it. It takes time and if my two main co-workers are going to be cold as fish, then that is their problem.
I do my job with a smile on my face, the doctors and nurses all smile and are nice to me. Only back in our room is it frigid.

I'm not really too concerned as I rarely make a habit of being chummy with my co-workers.
But a nice good morning goes a long way.
Fact is...I really 'dig' my job. I like it a lot!

Other fact is, management has hinted that they will cross train me too, so I may become a department floater.

My trainer, a young gal I'll call J, was so frustrated.
She asked why in the heck did they beg for help then turn around and treat the new person [me] like I had the plague?
I told her not to worry so much. I was the newby, I'd get blamed for things. I'd worked on and off in office settings for 30 yrs and this was child's play.

So yes I still LOVE my job.
And I still dislike my old job.

Ex boss did not get any points for calling up and using a rude tone of voice.

Oh and BTW!
One more week of school!!!!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Morris's big Adventure

It is fun being a Jack Russell, this I know. I let Morris out when we got to our destination and he found new friends! One was Annie a short legged JRT and two huge friendly Black and Tan coon hounds.
Not to mention the Guinea Hens who scared the crap out of him when he ran towards them, they chattered.
Morris went lickety split in the other direction.
Things Morris enjoyed while on his country retreat.
Wrestling with Annie
Eating Rabbit 'pills' [droppings?]
Dragging a hide of indescribable origins
Playing tug o' war with a scrap of something...er I think it was the leg of a deer?
Running from the Guinea Hens
Running from Donkeys
Running from Annie
Running from a Billy Goat

Yes he is still recovering from his 48 hrs of being a true blue farm dog.
What did he think?
I think he absolutely loved every second of it.
And I think Annie pouted when he had to leave.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Yesterday morning I helped Rich feed out round bales by opening the electric gates to the pastures while he drove in with the tractor.
We had to do it while it was still cold and below freezing. If we wait until the middle of the day or evening, at this time of year the pasture is a mud-pit.

As I stood in the gateway to the mares pasture, I stomped my foot in the frozen mud. A squirt of water broke up through the thin layer of ice. Something triggered a memory. I jumped up and down once or twice to see if I could get the water to squirt up higher.

Then I began to smile with the distant memory [which only seems like yesterday to me] of my sons doing the same thing when we lived in Kenosha County. They had their rubber 'chore' boots on and were out in the plowed field after the first spring melt and hard freeze. They delighted in jumping on the frozen mud and getting the water below the thin ice to squirt upwards.

I recall asking them what it was they were doing. I'd laughed at their answer. They were making 'Bah-bush-ka's'. And not the thing that women wear on their heads.

So as I stood waiting for Rich to come back with the tractor, I did some hopping up and down...I didn't get the great 'Bah-bush-ka' squirt, but I sure had some great memories. And kept warm too.

When we got back to the house. Rich wanted to know what the heck I'd been doing over by the gate.
Did I get overcome?
Was I having a fit?
A spell?

How could I explain if he didn't already know?
After all, 'Bah-bush-ka' squirts only come once a year.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dogs on the loose

I finally got to meet my new neighbor lady and she is really nice. We went for a walk on Sunday evening [she likes to have someone with her on her walks and I offered]. We found out that we both had so much in common.
We have both been waitresses, both worked in the insurance field, and like the same things. She likes to hike and explore the woods -- of course I offered to take her on some adventures.

She was able to talk to me about her work and I was a good listener. She is a sheriff's deputy and has an interesting career. She is cute, sassy, and says what is on her mind. I like that.
On her evenings off we'll be walking together and I'm looking forward to her going riding with me.

While we were out walking our back country gravel roads, we picked up 4 loose dogs. I have a pet peeve about people in the countryside letting their dogs 'run'. I've been bitten by one dog a few years ago and really dislike a strange dog coming up behind me. Normally of course I am not walking, but riding my mule--who discourages dogs very nicely with a fast kick.
My neighbor disliked the dogs following us too.
Loose dogs are a recipe for disaster when they group up like that.

I've complained to the owners of the dogs a few times with no results. I don't want to make enemies because we are such a close knit community.

Then tonight as I was finishing up my studies, I looked out the window to the 'girls' pasture and watched my new neighbor's dog romp about in their pasture.

Sigh. We told our new friends that their dog was coming down here regularly and J. promised to keep her tied up. It was more out of fear for the dog. If the dog gets in with my young gelding mules, they will attack her.

Big Sigh.