Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Farming, Fencing, Eatin' Berries

Him: Good day for workin' in the woods.

Me: Uh, yeah, okay.
[thinking about all the other things I really wanted to do].

But re-fencing that section of land that had been utterly destroyed from the flash floods and straight winds of 2007 should be a priority.
The berry briers have tried to reclaim the forest floor.

There is a lot of great grazing under the canopy of trees especially for donkeys who think multiflora rose and berry briers are a delicacy.

So we piled supplies into the skid steer so we can get closer to the area we need to work on.
Now, our terrain is steep, very I figured someone...would stop the skid steer at the edge of the meadow and we'd hoof it the rest of the way.


After getting me extremely nervous [I followed on foot], hubby stopped the skid steer. I had my doubts as to whether or not he'd get back out of there.
Especially with the soft ground underneath.

Well off to work.
We hiked to the creek and worked on the edge of the bank.
After giving me a lecture about not working too close to the edge, we began to work.

Oh and that 'weed' whacker he was using has a saw blade on when it says 'Caution' on the back of that...

Well I wonder who should use more caution...the person operating it,
or the person assisting in clean up...
It is wicked, but does a great job.

Edge of the creek bank with a 20 ft drop off outlined in pink:

We got half way through what we intended to get done. The brush was thick and twisted from 3 years of free growth.
After finding a place to rest in the shade and finishing off our water, I wandered around and picked a bowl full of black berries to take to work tonight to have as a treat.

No riding for me today. Morris would have come on this adventure, but we worried that he wouldn't stay out of the way of the wicked little saw.

Oh yeah...

You know that I mentioned that I'd gotten a lecture on not getting too close to the edge of the creek bank?

The lecturer did, but lucky for him he didn't fall into the rocky creek bottom. He just sort of slid about 4 feet down.
I knew better than to make any 'smart' remarks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tomfoolery with mules

Well the rains had quite for the day, more were predicted for the evening of the 25th.

We grabbed Fred and Badger and decided to go for a ride to explore the damages done to the area by the flash flooding.
Fred is a small pony sized mule, he has been with my husband probably as long as my elderly mare has been with me.
My husband can get away with all sorts of goofing off on Fred.
He kept laughing while riding ahead of me, calling out....

*Look no hands!*
Show off!

We just mozied along looking at the windblown trees and the places where the rushing water had flattened the underbrush on the sides of the hills.
We also checked out the berry crop and spent some time filling our mouths with ripe black berries...and yellow raspberries!

We stopped and looked down on the 'back valley'. Water was still rushing through the sandy bottom.
In our experience one does not try and ride through a newly flash flooded valley, the ground may still be unstable.
So we sat on Fred and Badger and watched the scene below.
We were quite surprised to see a Blue Heron who screeched and made Badger stand on his toes for a moment or two.

On our way home, my husband decided to entertain me with riding backwards on Fred.
Yes...a bit of Tomfoolery!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

For the Love of Longears

Worked until 8am...napped. Mowed yard.
Chores done.

Badger was standing by the gate.

I've noticed over the past few weeks that he is breathing much easier. If one did not have a skilled eye, they wouldn't know he suffered from heaves or RAO.
One wouldn't know how close we came to losing him either in early May when he had what the Vet called a severe 'asthma attack'.

Hubby had taken the skid steer up the steep driveway and was repairing the washout in our upper 'shared' driveway.

I looked over at Badger. I looked towards the house.
Badger let out a long lonely bray [his brays are high pitched and soft, not coarse like his half brother and sister].
He ended the bray with a grunt.

I submitted. I grabbed a lead rope ... and Badger and I were going off on our first ride in at least a month.
Badger and I have achieved that goal that many equine people want to reach with their horse.
Mental mind melds.
He knows what I am thinking as I think it.
He knows what I want to do before I do.
He reads me like an open book.
He is my mule.
My buddy, my best friend.

When we reached the top of the hill and passed the mailbox, Badger moved into a trot, as though eager to prove to me how much better he was feeling.
I obliged and went along for the ride.

We stopped to listen to a buck snort and then leap out of the woods and across the road in front of us.
The Killdeer screeched and flew playfully over the road and oat field.
An owl hooted somewhere close.
The red wing black birds began to sing their 'good night song'.

Badger and I stood on top of the ridge and listened
We are a comfortable pair.
He likes my company, I like his.
We talk without speaking.
Truly we do.
I'm not even sure I can put into the words the joy that I felt tonight watching the summer day close out...
Badger's warm breath on my shoulder as I stood next to him...

Joy and contentment.
For the Love of my Long Eared Friend.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Missing Dad

Fathers Day came.
Fathers Day went.

I had a hard time with Father's Day.
I lost my dad shortly after Father's Day in 2005.

He was a character. A different sort of a fellow, I guess.
He had an enormous sense of humor and was willing to always help me with photography.

He came up with this wonderful pose of himself talking to a statue on a bench in Hawaii during our 2001 visit.
*Wouldn't it be quite funny if you took a photo of me talking with this fellow?* he'd asked, *People will think I'm quite dotty in the head won't they?*
Dad promptly sat down and began to appear as if he were talking with the statue.
Charmed and embarrassed, I took the photo.
At the time I was grateful that the streets were fairly deserted as it was early morning.

Another time we were watching a sunset near the very 'primo' Kona Village Resort...Dad asked that I take a photo of him.
He told me, *Make me look noble!*

He crossed his arms and took a stance.
Indeed he did look noble.

In 2000, when I visited him in the Spring [I think that date is correct], we went up into the Blue Ridge Mountains where he had me take a photo of him...
'heaving a rock'.
I wear that vest now. Dad gave it to me after that trip. He felt it would be used often by me.
Indeed it is. It is a vest with tons of pockets, perfect for a photographer.

I miss him.
I think about him often.
I wish often to speak with him and show him my work and what I have accomplished.

But, I think he knows somehow.

So here is to you Dad.
Better late than never, eh?
Happy Father's Day.
You look Noble!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Go out and Play...

That is what my husband calls it.

As if I am a child.
He does not mean it in a bad way, but a good way.

He knows how much just getting out of the house and into the woods means to me.
In fact, if I don't get out.
I can get crabby.

Oh yeah, crabby!

It is somewhat like an addiction, my hiking and exploring with Morris. My need to ride is also explainable this way.
If I don't ride for several days, I begin to have 'withdrawals'. Really ~~
I do.

I get short tempered and out of sorts.
Going 'out to play' is not just a whim, it has become a must.

Hard to explain the need.
Except for when you stop and see incredible sights like these:
...and head up non existent trails with your best pal...

Tonight the National Weather Service is predicting torrential rains and possible flash flooding along with mud slides [eeeks!!].
Coming home in the morning might be adventurous.

What could be more interesting than to go down by the creek and see what Mother Nature has stirred up?

I guess I'll know, if I

Get Out to Play tomorrow.

Just Do It

I haven't had much to 'blog' about as my days have been fairly boring.
When I got back from Virginia, my work schedule was demanding and I had to go for Firearms training and State Re-qualifications.

That is over and I'm good for another year.

Daily deluges of rainfall and severe storms have hampered my woodland adventures and put quite a damper on riding.
Yesterday though, I had a window of opportunity.

I grabbed my camera and Morris began to literally 'spin' inside the house. He was nearly inside out with excitement.
Adventure Time!

We started out under gray threatening skies, everything was still wet because it was so humid.

Morris ran excited laps around me until we got into the gelding's pasture and then he took off through the underbrush. I could hear him running, stopping, sniffing...and of course doing the guy thing of marking all of his territory.

When we reached the creek bottom, the sun came out and blasted us with heat.
No problem for Morris as he just waded right in to cool himself off.
We walked up out of the creek and 'brush busted' through wild rose bushes and heavy berry briers.
Morris discovered some ripe black berries.

Yes, he really does pick them and eat them!

Home again.
Just before the storm hit with 3/4" of rain in minutes.
The lightening was frightening.

But after the skies cleared, it was quite beautiful and dramatic.
I think this week will be a challenge with the bizarre 'upside' down hours, but I think I'm going to have to get out when I can...

I just gotta 'do it'.

Friday, June 18, 2010


The forecast said thundershowers possible for the evening.

I had to go to the river for a union I said to hubby, *Do you feel like a break and heading down to the river with me and do some shore fishing?*

These are magic words. Generally he will drop anything and head out for a day or afternoon of fishing.

I attended the meeting while hubby busied himself by reclining in the driver's seat of the car and taking a cat nap.

We headed over to the Stoddard Spillway and decided to try our luck.
What we got was a rain squall that left us soaking wet.
However, all was not lost.
We decided to head to the Power Plant where I work and fish off the bank just south of it. We received permission to park on an access road and walk down to fish off the shore near the coal barges.

Normally one would not think this a very scenic or nice place to fish.
But it was.
We saw evidence of hundreds of recent turtle egg hatches in a small sandy stretch of the shore.

I began to toss in my hook...into the glass like calm water.
The skies were amazing.

The evening clouds and skies put on a fabulous show for us while we wordlessly tossed our fishing lines into the river.

It was calming and relaxing.
As a bonus, we caught enough pan fish to make a nice meal.

As the night settled in, we watched a Mayfly hatch.
The Mississippi River is an amazing place.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Are you as smart as a phone?

I say this with 'tongue in cheek' [I wonder where that saying ever came from?]

I'm not as Smart as my son's Smart Phone.

While in Virginia for his Ultra Marathon, he programmed it so that the phone would 'tell' me via Sprint Navigation how to get to Great Falls to an Aide Station.

Easy right? Sure, if you know your way around a Sprint touch screen thingy phone. My son made it so darned easy looking when he demonstrated it to me before dawn on the day of the race.
I was pretty sure I had it down. All I had to do was touch 'favorites' then my destination.

It worked like a charm getting me to the Aide Station. That is, until the annoying female voice decided that I should be going a quarter of a mile further down the road to the Visitor Center.
*You are off track, re-routing,
make a 'U' turn*

I parked the car and get out.
The annoying lady kept telling me I was 'off track'.
I tried the nifty trick my son had shown me ... of how to 'swipe' her off.
I think I did something really odd because the phone #'s list came up.
Happily this did shut her up.
Unfortunately, at that moment, there was suddenly no cell service.

Miss Sprint told me one more time as I stuck her in my cargo pocket,
*Make a 'U' Turn...*
Desperate times make for desperate measures.

I asked a young man walking by it he could please turn the GPS woman off.
He obliged quickly [thinking I was a nutcase for sure]...and hurried off.

After meeting my son and seeing him off again, I had to head back to the start line.
I slid the phone open, of course this was going to be a piece of cake.

I touched the Navigation icon. But couldn't remember the proper steps to find the 'favorites'.
I floundered around with it and thought I had it...
The phone display indicated that it was 'searching'...and that I could not be found.

Oh great.
Perhaps if I just started driving.

Which I did because I recalled how to get out of the Park, that was easy...only one way.
About 3 miles into the drive, the Sprint Lady began to give some decent directions.

Oh boy, I was high tech now! Whoo! After all my own little lame Tracfone just had a number pad and according to my son and was very archaic.

Miss Annoying started to tell me that I was OH HORRORS!!!...~~
*Off Track, make a 'U' turn*
I knew I was not off track, I knew I was going in the correct direction.

After all, I had pulled over and consulted a paper map and written directions.
I was NOT Off Track.

However, I did successfully make the trip without getting lost back to the Start/Finish Line.
SHE finally shut up in my pocket.

My son was amused when I'd told him about it. I sighed and said, 'I think your damn phone is smarter than I am...and I find the GPS lady very annoying.

I really like paper maps. They don't talk, they don't ring with a phone call at an inconvenient time, nor do they tell you to make a 'U' turn.

When I came home tonight I discovered a beautiful new Rand McNally Road map on the kitchen table.
I may not understand how to work the Smart Phone.

But I surely can read a road map.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I was raised with them as pets when I was a young kid.
We got our first dog when I was in 6th grade, I think.

When I visited with my brother and sister in law [my trip to Virginia], I had fun watching their three cats.

All three cats are from the same litter. Each very different with their characters and personalities.

While sitting on the front porch and sipping a 'mint julip' [okay, I didn't, but felt like my beer should have been one!]...I watched the cats who are 10 years what cats do best.

Cat antics.

Marmalade hunted.
Silver played.

Bailey stuck her head out the door and ran back inside to seek out a quiet place from the 'invaders' [which were myself and my son].
Baily doesn't like people and has the greatest 'ugly' faces ever:
Marmalade, the great hunter, loves to take over one of the kitchen chairs and dream about his big night hunts.
He also has a tendency to leave gifts for his humans:
Then there is Silver. She is pretty straight forward and very playful. If you leave your bedroom door open at night, she may just decide that you are good to cuddle with.
I'm not yet convinced that I could trade my playful and sometimes boisterous Jack Russell for a cat, but they sure did make for some great laughs and fun opportunities with the camera.

The first photo is edited with Topaz and cropped from Silver's photo.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I missed her! by Morris

SHE went away.
And don't think I didn't know it was coming.

SHE had taken out her little traveling bag and set it discreetly on the couch, then put her 'stuff' in it.
SHE then packed her camera bag.
I knew it was serious stuff then.
But SHE did not pack my leash.

When SHE drove away, I went into my crate and laid down. I was not going to eat, drink, or potty, until she came back. SHE did not take me. I was very sad.

HE seemed kinda sad too.
So we both bummed around, waiting.
My toys didn't even seem interesting.
SHE was not there to laugh at my antics when I tossed them around the room.
So I left them be.

HE repeatedly asked if I wanted to 'go out'. I'd head for my crate and lay in it.

Can you imagine the joyous sound of her Cavalier's engine coming down the driveway? I started barking and spinning wildly.
HE started yelling at me, but secretly I think he would have run around and spun also ...

if he could.

I am quite joyous as SHE has returned, .. the dishes are getting washed, the house cleaned, and most important of all...

I am getting fed on TIME.

I sure did miss HER!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Running in Virginia

Although I am NOT the runner my son is...I am an occasional runner with a large tendency towards hard hiking on trails in the woods...

I did go running on the 'common' grounds in my brother's neighborhood with my sister in law yesterday.

I ran in my Five Finger Vibram shoes.
After using them exclusively for over a week I can say...for me, they are awesome.
Running the trails with wet grass, mud, rocks, roots, and gravel was fun in them.
I leapt over berry briers sticking out into the trail and enjoyed the feeling of running like a kid.

I haven't worn shoes since last week at my job. My feet are very happy.

So how are my legs and feet after running about 2 miles yesterday?
Just fine, thank you.

The Five Fingers may not be for everyone, but they sure do work for me.

However, I will sincerely miss hanging out in my brother's pool now that I have to fly back home today....

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Heat Humidity & the North Face Endurance Challenge

Heat Humidity Hot Muggy Stifling Energy-Sapping~~~

This discribes the North Face Endurance Challenge held just outside of Washington D.C. on June 5th where my son ran the 50K race.
He is pictured below coming into the Great Falls Aide Station at approximately 19 miles into the race.

He had nearly 11 more miles yet to run after this stop.
Notice the smile.
Notice his shoes.
I was impressed not only by him but other runners as well.
Some were doing 50 miles in this heat and humidity.

Now ask me what it was like being a 'mom' at this event and trying to be a 'crew' to my son at the same time.
It was nerve wracking.
It was hot.
I worried.
I fretted.
I worried some more.
Relief washed over me each time I met him at the Great Falls Aide Station.
He was okay and he looked in good spirits.

I must say though that the Aide Station was in a particularly spectacular spot along the Potomac River.
Great Falls.
A photographer's dream come true.

As my son left the Aide station I walked with him while he explained what had been happening on the trails.
You see 'Trail Running' is NOT marathon running on the road. This is like an extreme sport in a sense.
The runner has to carry supplies and run over difficult and hilly terrain.
My son explained that the cliff he'd run on over the Potomac had been cool but a bit hairy [not exactly his words...I think he said 'awesome'].

He told me of the woman who had fallen and split open her leg - blood gushing. He'd helped her back to an Aide Station and then went back to running.
One place he'd been scrambling through a wet mucky ditch and fell. He got dirty, but not hurt.

So when I found my way back to the Start/Finish Line I waited anxiously in the heat. Not just heat, but full blown Southern Heat.

In my mind I began to worry about my son. [It's a mom thing]
If the heat and humidity were so awful for me standing around doing nothing, how would it be for someone running 30+ miles?

One man came down the finish lane stumbling, post legged, and wobbly.

The mom worry factor ramped up a bit.

Then finally utter and wonderful relief washed over me as I saw my son with another runner approaching.

So how is it being a mom and a crew member for your son?
Well, very satisfying, very worrisome, ...
with a clash of other emotions mixed in.

Proud Mom of an Ultra Marathoner.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Parade

There is no parade in Folsom, WI on Memorial day...actually these days, it is hard to recall exactly where Folsom is.

Yet I thought it would be quite fun to dress up as we did last fourth of July and ride around the back roads.

This time instead of Badger [who is still having difficulty with his breathing], I took Siera. This was to be her first major on the road ride.
As is normal for her, once we got up the driveway, she decided to take the lead and walk out.

She marched with a purpose in mind and a rather open road in front of her. My daughter rode steady Fred. Fred is in his 20's [he is not going to tell us his real age] and has been there and done most everything. A perfect mount to accompany Siera who was as yet untested on the longer rides on back roads.

Siera did very well. She had some 'issues' with some 'mule eating' grass until she followed Fred into the tall stuff and discovered that indeed she could eat it!

So far on my earlier rides she'd been fine with traffic. This had been close to home and the drivers had always been courteous enough to slow down when passing.

On our last leg of the gravel road we got into a traffic jam of sorts. Vehicles came from both directions and Siera lost her nerve. She did a hard bolt away from an approaching car.
I got her stopped and saw about 5 more vehicles coming our way from the opposite direction.

For safety reasons, I dismounted and walked the now very nervous Siera back towards my daughter and Fred. I waved the vehicles by one at a time and they actually went slowly...perhaps wondering who the idiot was on the 'run away' mule.

The hard part of the ride was yet to come.
Black top county road with more traffic.
I walked with Siera along the newly planted fields close enough so she could watch the vehicles, far enough away so that she would learn not to fear them.

Our journey was completed safely. I consider the ride a success as we discovered some areas that Siera needs to work on.
Mule Eating Grass and Vehicles.
After all Badger did not become the awesome mule he is [nor did Fred] with just a few rides.

I also consider it a great success to discover what Siera was like when she actually spooked. She had yet to do a spook while I have been training her. No buck, just a quick bolt which was halted rather well on our part.

Looking forward to a 4th of July parade!!