Sunday, January 26, 2014

Media Blitz on Snokomo Road!

The day dawned warm and bright. No ice had to be chopped or cracked or dumped out of tanks or pans for any of the animals because it had melted in the night. The wind was gentle all day. It was a clear, glowing blue-sky day. I turned off the furnace then opened the windows and doors. It was chilly but the fresh air was intoxicating.

I almost missed sunset. I happened to look out at dusk to see the tops of the hills ablaze with the red sunset. I grabbed the camera and tore out of the driveway in my car, hoping to get some spectacular photos. I was lucky to capture a few without wires or fences but I missed a rainbow forming behind the hills north of the house. Then, when I dashed up to Snokomo Road, another photographer had already claimed my favorite spot to photograph the sunsets. It was a media blitz, a glut of cameras! The competition was fierce!

When I returned to my house, it was already dark in my little valley. I closed the house just in time to miss the roaring winds that hit at dark, gusting about 45 miles an hour. Crazy weather.

To the North at Sunset

It's as if the air is on fire above a certain elevation.

West from the house, but looking north.

Another photographer claimed the best spot to photograph the sunset across a valley.  

The End

The Losers

These are four of the five photos I submitted to a recent photo contest.  (No winners.)  The snake was my animal entry.  The view from the dentist's chair I entered in the humor category.  Neither photo is artistic nor particularly appealing - snakes and dentists - but I was fairly certain no one else would submit anything like them in either category!

The other two photos represent the beauty I so deeply appreciate in peace and quiet.  I like the zen-like style that seems to be emerging in my photography.  They were entered in the landscape and nature categories, respectively.  Even if they did not win, they are still nice photographs, in my humble opinion.

The fifth entry I am not going to publish because it is a great photo of Terrie the farrier plying her trade.  I think it has a chance to win in a contest, sometime, somewhere...  

Refusing to Yield the Right of Way

Dental Resistance is Futile

A Still Life
The End of the Day

Girl Scout Camp Security Breached by Dangerous Old Woman

Saturday morning, 9:15 am, Shawnee County, Kansas - An old lady in a dusty SUV pulls into a wide, empty parking lot of the Girl Scout camp. The gates were wide open, and it was not marked against trespassing. She needed to wait for a few minutes until it was time to arrive for an appointment just down the road. (Amazingly, she was actually early!)

Sitting quietly in her car, with the engine running, the old lady was enjoying the pleasant warmth of the early morning sun and the fresh air. After a few moments, a man in a huge 4-wheel truck came wheeling into the parking lot, pulling his truck next to the dangerous old lady's car. He was not smiling, not happy, and definitely not a Girl Scout.

The old lady spoke first. "Hi. I'm not doing anything, you know. Just waiting here."

The man drove his truck too close to the old woman's car in an act of attempted intimidation. She was not intimidated but she was not happy then, either. Clearly, she was not doing anything illegal, not destroying any property, not a threat to anyone or anything. She was sitting in her car in the empty parking lot at the top of the hill in full view of the road.

"I was just seeing if something was wrong," the suspicious and unhappy young man (lied) said.

"No. I have an appointment down the road in a few minutes, so I pulled off the road to wait. Thank you."

He backed up his big truck up and headed down the hill from whence he came, only to slam on the brakes. Another truck had driven in, with three men in it, who were friendly and waved at the dangerous old lady as they passed by going down the hill. They did not appear to be Girl Scouts either.

Sooooooo.... apparently it is alright for a group of men to use the Girl Scout camp for who-knows-what purpose, but not alright for an old lady to sit in the parking lot for a few moments, with the engine running and the window down.

That is what happens when you live in redneck country. You have to deal with rednecks.  The old woman, at least, was once a genuine Girl Scout.  Chances are, none of the men were.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Nature Sends a Birthday Present...

Seriously Snowing
Poor Jake!
The Morning After

This wonderful snowfall arrived before Christmas, on my birthday. I greatly enjoyed it. I am not certain how much snow fell, but it looks like five or six inches to me, judging by the propane tank. The little town of Eskridge a few miles south, and Wally's hometown, officially recorded 4 1/2 inches. It was not a blizzard by any means, but it was beautiful. My plan to sleep on the porch during the first snowfall was scrapped, surprisingly enough. It was far too cold. That is an idea that sounds grrrrrreat in theory...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gandalf The Olde Girl

A good thing to have when hiking in the country is a walking staff. I made my own a long time ago but it disappeared for a time. I was mystified, wondering what the heck happened to it. Maybe I just thought it disappeared in order to justify buying a new fancy one at the powwow. The new staff was topped with a cleverly carved turtle, with "real" eyes. It was the cutest little guy, ever! Almost as long as I am tall, it was made of lightweight wood, which means it is not much of a weapon. I could probably protect myself from a snake, but even if it proved to be entirely worthless, I would use it to defend myself against a cougar attack. (It could happen!)

I left the staff leaned against the front door, where it was handy. If it fell over (or was knocked down) Duke assumed he was free to chew on it. So, the cute little hand-carved turtle first lost an eye, then his entire head. Now he is truly gone, and so is the leather strap.

I continue to use the headless walking staff, especially when it is icy. It has kept me from falling several times already this winter. The best use of it is to keep peace in the chicken realm. When Big Hen begins pecking everyone else at the feeding trough, I mete out justice with a mere wave of my sorcerer's staff. I simply, majestically, place the end of the staff between the victim and Big Hen. It is so highly effective at peace-keeping that the three little black hens gather at my feet like feathery hobbits. Shepherding the entire flock is easy with the staff. I merely place it before them to guide them in the desired direction.

I use the staff to keep an irritating dog out of my personal space. I only have to point the staff at Jake. I can reach through the fence to nudge a snotty little mare's hind end when she needs to give Wally some room. No animal is ever struck with the staff. Just the fact that I can suddenly reach into their space without any effort - like magic - is enough. It is a marvelous tool and...I might look a little bit like Gandalf the Grey striding about in Middle Earth...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Off Is the General Direction...

It is unbelievable how quickly time passes. I have been writing this blog for five years and six months. After a review over the weekend, I realize I am repeating myself. I think I have nothing new to say - even about nothing. Right on schedule, the Statesboro Blues arrive. All the things I have not accomplished, all the people who are gone, and all the people who failed to show up... This is why God put Gregg Allman on this earth: to sing the blues for people like me. Not sad and depressed blues - but big ol' mean Southern fried blues. Blues with a gun rack in the back window. Blues leaking Harley oil and highway miles...

This warrants a trip to the barn for some quality horse person time! As someone once said, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a (wo)man."

Wally is a funny horse. He does not have a sense of humor the way Annie did, but he is smart, in a goofy way that makes me laugh. Last year for Christmas I got oat buckets for the horses. I loosely tied the buckets to the fence so they would not be knocked down, and so I could easily empty rain and snow out of them. Wally flips his bucket up with his nose to make a big noise I can hear from the house. If he thinks it is time to eat, I hear him banging the bucket on the fence.

The other day I apparently put his bucket too close to Ginger's enormously large personal space. Using his teeth, Wally matter of factly pulled his bucket over as far as it would go. He is such a supple and flexible horse, tossing his head and neck around all the time. He tries to boss Ginger around by tossing his head and pointing his nose in the direction he thinks she should go. Just like a human extends an arm and waves someone on, Wally clearly indicates his frustration with her bossiness. Now he uses this gesture toward me, too. He wants to be left alone when he is eating his oats, so he tosses his nose in the direction of the house. There is a Facebook meme that fits his attitude perfectly: "Off is the general direction in which I wish you would f**k." Now Ginger uses this sign language, too. If she does not want me to bother her, she tosses her nose in the general direction in which she wishes I would go. I get no respect.

Can you spot Ginger and Wally in this photo? They really should treat me with far more respect. They have a rather easy life, after all!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Is the Preference for Cabbage a Gene Marker for Aging?

About once a year, I get a hankering for brisket and cabbage. I believe it is something only old people appreciate but I am a relative rookie at preparing that meal. My stepfather, now 90, is a five star brisket and cabbage chef. He sets the bar high. I assume that should I live to be 90, I will surely become a brisket and cabbage adept, too.

Last week I decided I would fix brisket and cabbage one evening, though it would mean a fairly late meal. It would be worth the wait. I put the brisket on as soon as I got home from work, and then chopped the cabbage to add a bit later. Everything went well, and before long the cabbage was bubbling away in the kettle over a low flame. I estimated I would be able to eat about 7:30 and that would have been true - except I made a tactical error.

I stretched out on the sofa to watch a movie. When I woke two hours later, I rushed to the stove. When I removed the lid, the meat was falling apart and looked delicious... nested amid the entirely blackened cabbage. Apparently, the flame was so low that it simply boiled the cabbage dry and then turned it to charcoal without ever setting off the fire alarms. The dogs did not mind the brisket, though there was hardly enough to divide for them. It took two nights of scrubbing to get the cabbage carbon removed from my favorite kettle. The smell of burnt cabbage lingers yet in my house, even though twice I have opened the doors and windows in an effort to fill the place with fresh, but frigid, air.

I wrote to my 24 year old nephew. I told him people know when they are getting too damn old.  "First, they begin to like cabbage, then they let it burn in the kettle."

He does not appreciate the valuable wisdom I freely share with him!