Sunday, December 23, 2007
For those of you who have never been to Arizona, perhaps your impression of the state is a colorless land of sand and cactus. But the beauty of this country is never more spectacular than when the sun sets and turns the mountains into glorious shades of pinks, purples and lavendars. And when the full moon comes up as the suns last golden gleams hit the horizon, Arizona really does herself proud. Tonight was one of those nights. We had just come from a family drive to neighboring Aquilla, then out to the desert to let my brother-in-law walk his hunting dog out to check for quail. As we headed back to town, we watched the full moon rise and the sun set, and had to stop the car for a quick snap. It is times like this that I wish I had my sister's art talent. It is easy to understand why artists flock to this area to paint. I just love to sit and watch the sun go down and the colors stretch across the mountains. Just when you think it could never be more spectacular.....another sun sets in Arizona.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As a child, one of my favorite Christmas books was "The Littlest Angel". My parents bought me a record with the story read by Loretta Young, and I used to peer over the top of the old 78 record player watching the record turn as I heard her beautiful voice tell the story of the little angel who yearned for the things he left on earth, and who had a box containing things like the collar of a favorite dog. At the end of the story, as the Birth of Christ approached, he had nothing for the Christ Child. Timidly, he offered his box from earth, and that was proclaimed the greatest gift to this baby who would live on earth....and his gift rose until it became the shining star over Bethlehem.
I still love that story, and thought of it this week as my good friends, the Grossers, dealt with the illness and finally death of their beloved Golden Lab, Buddy. His name fit him well. They had adopted him from a shelter, and brought him to their ranch, where he loved to chase their son, Tommy, as he walked, then biked, and later 4-wheeled to his friends. He once visited a neighbor's farm where a hog butchering was in process. Buddy proudly carried home the heavy head of that hog to present to his non-appreciative family.
When my 3 year old grandson would visit the ranch to see my horse Bart, who was boarded there, Buddy was always there to greet with a wagging tail and sloppy tongue. CJ had a lab of his own, so had no problem holding his own around the campfire when Buddy would try to share a marshmallow. CJ had learned the stiff-arm approach to preserving your food around a moocher like Buddy. When Buddy would lay down to relax, CJ was often seen laying down next to him and using Buddy for his pillow.
My friend, Carol, sent this poem to Tommy. I think of the other precious pets who have passed on this year.....and I think this goes out to their owners, and anyone who has lost one of their wonderful, loving animals in 2007.
The Last Battle
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
Then will you do what must be done
For this…the last battle…can’t be won.
You will be sad, I understand
But don’t let grief then stay your hand
For on this day, more than the rest
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so
Take me where my needs they will tend
Only stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see
I know in time you will agree
It is kindness you do to me
Although my tail its last has waved
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do:
We’ve been so close…we two…these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Today was 80 degrees and humid, but the cooler weather is predicted. And Mother Nature had a last chuckle with us, as she gave us a sunny 70 degree start for our long weekend, then threw in a thunderstorm overnight, a chilly morning that made the long underwear feel good, another nice day to ride, then a foggy morning, burning away to a sunny, hot afternoon, then another rain at night and drizzly rain on the last day. A little of everything with temps from 40 to 80 and sunny to rain. Ah, autumn!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
After a bit of walking on the sharp gravel, I was beginning to think this wasn't a very good idea. Then it occured to me....this walk was like life. One step was comfortable, the next painful....but if I kept going one foot ahead of the other, accepting that there was going to be a sharp discomfort between the easy step, I would eventually reach my destination at the mailbox.
The driveway seemed a bit longer than I had figured on....but at one point I was able to take a bit of a break by walking on the mossy side of the path. Maybe that is like those really happy times in life.....beginning a new relationship, a wonderful vacation, or a happy occasion....but then it is accepted that I would soon be back on the sharp rocks, just keeping one foot going ahead of the other. I appreciated the comfort of my Ariat sandal when I stepped on my right foot, and was prepared for the sharp rocks when it was time to step on my left foot.
I thought of how this has been like my life....I have had times of complete joy, others of devastating sadness. There have been times when I considered suicide, as I just couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was in a marriage that I thought I had no way out, money issues were too overwhelming, or I was depressed at a long, dark winter and experienced SAD. I think we have all walked with just one sandal....we accept the bad times because we know they are temporary. And if we quit walking when we stepped on the sharp stones, we would not know the relief and comfort of walking in the soft sandal. Life is not supposed to be always calm....but when the going gets rough, we have to hang on, knowing that there are wonderful times ahead.
My kids kept me from doing the action that I planned out so carefully....the music I would have playing in the car in the garage, what I would wear, the note I would leave, etc. I just didn't want them to have to deal with their mother's suicide and their wondering what they could have done, and their growing up without a mother. I have made some good and bad choices in my life, but at least I didn't choose suicide when it seemed my only option.
So as the dark days of winter approaches, and the Sunlight Affective Disorder sets in, I hope you remember my walk to the mailbox with just one shoe. Keep on walking....one step at a time....
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The fall rides are beautiful, and the weather fluctuates between the warm 80's and can plummet to a frosty 25 at night. I am now bringing my silk longjohns along, and am packing the warmer horse blankets. My chili was a big hit last weekend when the weather was in the 20's at night, but today the cold drinks will taste good after a ride in the 80 degree sunshine.
Hopefully, I will have 3 or 4 more camping trips before packing up to return to Arizona. I will have wonderful friends and trails there, too, but it is hard to beat the camping in Minnesota in the fall. I treasure these last remaining days and the friends who make them so wonderful. And I am so fortunate to have my palomino buddy to share the miles....he is patient for me to find a picnic table for mounting, trusts me when I ask him to cross a stream, bridge or muddy patch, and willing to be alone on a picket line at night. He is one of those "once in a lifetime" horses that are such a blessing. Perfection doesn't exist in horses or people, but to me, he is pretty close.
Time to get off this computer and RIDE!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Saturday, June 30, 2007
The next day we drove to Custer and set up camp. It was 90+ degrees, so we were delighted to discover that electricity had been installed 3 weeks before, and we could use the air conditioners in our living quarter trailers! We relaxed and explored the campground, then had our bonfire conversations late into the night.
The next day we had a gorgeous ride along a trail with many water crossings which allowed the horses to get drinks in the heat. We rode by buffalo, some of which preferred to lay on the trail, forcing us to ride over the hill to get around them. After 2 hours of riding, we found ourselves clammering up a very steep hill, and had to rest the horses half way up. When we finally reached the peak, there was a complete silence as we discovered that the only way down was a sheer rocky drop with a narrow trail. I was where the trail dropped over the edge, so Bart and I went down first. I talked to him all the way down, encouraging my brave mount. He kept his head down and watched where he placed his feet and slowly and carefully proceeded down the sharp drops with falling, slippery rocks. One wrong step and we could have both gone over the edge. The other horses followed, and we all gave a cheer (and many thanks!) when we all safely reached the bottom. My heart swelled with pride for a job well done by my golden boy.
We arrived back in camp, washed off our sweaty horses, and put them in their pens, and relaxed with lunch, then a swim at a nearby lake. We decided to let our horses rest that afternoon and we played Scrabble, read, went for walks or just napped.
The next day we enjoyed another fun ride, and even had ice cream cones at the Blue Bonnet campsite with our horses. It is an old, rustic area and very beautiful. They offer trail rides, and had 80 horses waiting riders.
We returned to camp, and I turned on the air conditioning and crawled up on my bed to read and fell asleep. When I awoke, I decided to take the garbage out and see what the rest of the group was up to. When I opened the door, Carla was running up to me saying we had to evacuate....the forest was on fire and heading this way! I thought she was kidding until I looked out to see campers putting up awnings, packing up and loading horses! Everyone had thought someone else had already told me! Carla helped me put down my awning and Mac helped me roll up my fencing, and I threw everything in the trailer and got ready to load Bart as we were told to "HEAD OUT NOW!"
Our caravan of 9 rigs headed out together for the buffalo correls. We could see the wall of smoke behind us, and prayed we wouldn't get lost on the narrow road that didn't have room to turn our large trailers around. What a relief when we saw the roof of the forestry building and the heavy buffalo fences appear! We had CBs so were able to stay in communication. We weren't there long, when we were told we had to leave again.....the fire was coming our way and the firefighters needed this area.
Where to go??? We headed out of the park, and one of our group has undeveloped land about 30 miles away, and we were going there when Cindy thought to call Plenty Star Ranch, and for some lucky reason for us, they had room for 9 rigs! We gassed up at Hot Springs, which was earning it's name as it was 107 degrees! We reached Plenty Star to find full hookups and spacious clean covered pens for the horses. We all hugged and worried as we heard that the fire was heading towards the beautiful Blue Bonnet area, and we worried for all the horses there that had been waiting for riders this morning.
We enjoyed some wonderful rides at Plenty Star, but the excitement continued as a blast went off near us as someone dynamited very close by and we saw the cloud of dirt go up, and some of the horses really spooked. Mac was having a bad day with his pretty paint, Tiger, and did a lot of backing him up.....and we suggested he get back up lights of beepers put on him!
The last day we rode in the morning, and as Kris was washing her horse, she left a long tie, and stepped on it, frighting her mare who reared, and the rope flipped Kris up, and she fell landing on her wrist which broke in 5 places. I saw it, yelled for everyone, and we splinted it and she left for the ER in Custer.
It was quite an adventurous week, but what I remember most was how everyone was there for everyone else. When I arrived late, the guys all came to help me unload and settle in. When we were evacuating, everyone made sure that the group was all loaded and ready to go before anyone pulled out. We all encouraged each other and watched out as we rode around the buffalo and slid down the "Hell Hill". When Kris was hurt, we all rushed to help her, put away her horses, pick up her brushes and tack, make sure the horses were watered and penned, and someone lent an unhooked truck so they could depart quickly.
Horse camping is about exploring beautiful nature trails, scenery, and bonding with your horse. But it is also about friendships and being there for each other. I treasure the memories of the trips I have taken with my horse friends. We have shared laughter, fear, heat, unexpected animals on the trails, indecision about which trail to take (and sometimes where we even were!), great meals, and injuries. But no matter what is thrown our way, we can always count on wonderful friends to be there for each other, and to overcome whatever obstacle we might encounter. I am so blessed to have friends like these.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
As a daughter of a long time Conservation Officer in Minnesota, I was brought up to think of the future of our hunting and fishing. When we would fish, our unwritten rule was to release any walleye over 4 pounds to let it produce eater walleyes for the years to come.
I was fishing on a lake in my hometown last weekend, and my fishing buddy and I landed an 8# 29" beautiful walleye. His plan was to fillet it, but I refused.....we were near shore, so I insisted on taking it in for a quick picture then releasing it. To him, a bigger fish simply meant more fish in the pan to eat. A discussion included my threatening never to fish with him again if he killed that big fish. I said if he was THAT hungry, I would buy him a pound of hamburger!
We did go in and take those pictures, then quickly and carefully returned the big gal to the lake. She swam around the dock for about five minutes. She was probably just de-stressing and getting her bearings, but I chose to believe she was showing off her beauty and saying thanks. A number of people at the resort came down to see her, and enjoyed seeing the big fish swimming about.
Later, after she had swam off and we had returned to our fishing spot, I asked if he really didn't enjoy watching the excitement of everyone exclaiming over the fish as much as a big fillet, and I think it began to make sense to him. A new convert to catch and release!
So, a little of my Dad's conservation came through as Father's Day approaches. I thought of him as I was fishing, and remembered all the times we had fished on that lake, and the thrill when we landed a 28 pound sheephead one evening about 35 years ago. The many years that he served the state as a Conservation Officer might not have left his daughters rich at the bank, but did leave us with a legacy of a love a nature and respect for protecting our natural resources. I still miss him, love him, and wish him a very happy Father's Day in that great fishing lake in the heavens.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
One of the joys of returning to Minnesota is being part of the Walleye Fishng Opener. A friend has a resort in the northern part of the state, and my sister and I were fortunate enough to have him take us out for the opener. We caught lots of northerns, some nice walleyes, and I even pulled in one keeper perch. It was a fun weekend of dancing at the Legion fish fry, fishing, eating fish, and arguing with and antagonizing each other. Fun to see the baby seester again!
Thursday, May 3, 2007
I am staying with a girlfriend who has a beautiful home and has made me feel so welcome. She has a lab mix named Hershey, and Wylee is enjoying running around the big park-like yard with his new friend. I keep my horse trailer here, and am only 1.5 miles from Longview, so very convenient.
I have had a chance to spent some time with my grandson, CJ, who has grown but is still funny and was so happy to see Bart and everyone at Longview again. He had to put on his cowboy hat, boots, jeans, plaid shirt, chaps, and vest which Sue and Paul got quite a kick seeing.
The weather has been great, and I have been riding Bart in the indoor and outdoor arenas and he is going wonderfully. I had trail rides to Crow Hassan Park planned for tomorrow and Sunday, but now rain is predicted. Welcome back to Minnesota....gotta grow those mosquitos!
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Friday, April 6, 2007
Monday, April 2, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I am beginning to get the snowbird fever...when one starts flying home, the others nervously start flapping and honking about heading north, too. I am starting to plan on getting Bart's spring immunizations done and health certificate, shoes re-set (both are done much cheaper down here), and need to think about cleaning up the horse trailer living quarters, shed, address changes, and all that other fun stuff that goes with leaving home for 6 months. Sign. Guess I will have another cup of coffee, and curl up on the couch with a quilt and finish that book.......
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
However, they took me to eat at a fabulous old brewery and I had wonderful garlic stuffed steak with grilled asparagus, mushrooms in ale, and white cheddar potatoes. Niels and I had the exact same thing....with a local brew...and coffee...I'm gonna like this guy!