No, we are not leaning...but my horseback photographer was! I was on my third ride out of Simpson's Ranch, where I moved Bart to last week. I loved in at Don's Nine Iron Ranch, but he sold his ranch and the other horses had left, so I was left with no one to ride with, and I don't feel that riding alone in the desert is the safest choice to make.
So last week I hauled Bart to Simpsons. He had to give up his big turnout for a 14x14 pen, but he didn't seem to mind. He was able to watch all the action with riders, ropers, sheep, cows and horses and seemed content. And because I now have lots of new friends to ride the hills with, he gets lots of excercise and probably enjoys snoozing in his smaller digs.
But now, the snowbirds are starting to head north, and the ranch is really thinning out. It is crowded with trailers, trucks, hay bales, roping equipment, and other horse toys in the winter months, but now I see empty stalls, lots of open spaces where trailers had been parked, and less activity. Some of the larger stalls will now be available, so I will move Bart into one of them this week.
I have met some really nice people, and one is Bets, an 84 year old woman who lives near me and has a pretty dun mare named Sweet Pea, which is a little joke, since the mare's disposition is not quite that sweet! Bets is a great rider and has ridden the mountains around the ranch for years, so knows them well. I enjoy having her point out the various wild flowers that are now blooming prolifically throughout the desert, and also she has spotted gila monsters near the trails. I'm hoping her sharp eye will see the first snake before I do, too!!!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
My Dad was never much for giving gifts like diamonds or fancy vacations, but he never missed giving Mom a poinsettia at Christmas and an Easter lily for Easter with a pretty card. Dad passed 4 years ago now, but every Easter Mom takes out his last Easter card to her and puts it on display near his picture and veterans flag on the entertainment center. The last few year of his life he was weakened from his failing heart, and this once vivacious man was reduced to a thin, frail shell of his former self. At this point, he would hand me some money and ask me to get a plant for his lifelong sweetheart. Since he passed, I have always made a point to have a poinsettia on her table at Christmas, and a lily at Easter. Sometimes they are unsigned, or from Ophilia, or from Wylee....and this year I sneaked into her porch at 11 pm and put the plant with a card, jelly beans and chocolate eggs on the table....and put up the gate to keep out sneaky coyotes and javalenas....and she walked out this morning to a beautiful warm sunny Easter, and was tickled with the surprise of seeing her lily. She mentioned last night that she didn't have one this year.....yet!
So another Easter has come and gone. Tummys are full of good ham dinners, people are out walking their dogs and walking off their big meals, it is a gorgeous warm evening, neighbors greet each other with friendly banter, churches have had big turnouts and pretty decorations as the celebrate the end of lent and the Resurrection. And in a simple home in Arizona, a lily blooms and a fading card celebrates a love of over 60 years, and somewhere up in that sunset of brilliant colors, I'm sure Dad is watching down on his beloved Anna Banana, and is waiting for the day that she will again walk along with him......forever young and in love. Happy Easter Mom and Dad.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
When my nephew, Nick, announced that he had enlisted in the Marines just months after graduating from high school, my first thought was "Are you nuts??? Don't you watch the news????"
I just returned from San Diego where I watched this young man graduate from the rigorous Marine boot camp. I watched the marching, the ceremony, and the video "The Making of a Marine". I marveled on how this organization could take young men, some only 17 or 18 years old, and in 12 weeks transform them into confident, proud fit individuals. They came in slouchy pants, baggy shirts, shaggy hair, mumbling and whining, not knowing what they would do with their lives, and now they stood proudly and confidently and with a clear vision of what they could do and would do.
I am very discouraged with the war in Iraq, and cringe whenever the newscaster tell of yet another explosion which destroyed lives and families. I am disappointed that in this stage of our civilization, we still resort to dealing with disagreements with force and violence. I yearn for the peace and respect that our country enjoyed a few years ago, when gas prices were lower, homes weren't being foreclosed in record numbers, and the economy was good. I wonder why anyone would be willing to risk so much to run for president of this country and shoulder the responsibilities of trying to turn the economy and war around. I find myself very interested in this political election, and am pleased to see how the young people are getting involved again, and it reminds me of my high years and John F. Kennedy, and how we became excited about our ability to make this country better.
Then it gets personal. A young man is putting his life on the line for his country. I am so proud of Nick, and what he has overcome to earn the title of Marine. I have learned how he will now always be a Marine with Courage, Committment and Honor engrained in his heart. He has joined a group of proud individuals who have a bond....they have completed the most grueling of any bootcamps. I watched the video show them completing the Crucible, when they went without food and sleep, hiked up the steep Grim Reaper with full packs, and when they thought they couldn't go another moment,were able to dig deep within themselves to make the final steps. Then, to be greeted with the flags and applause as they finished this grueling trek. I saw the tears running down their cheeks as they were handed the pin that they would wear with pride at graduation. I heard the interviews with these boys who were lost, didn't have direction, lacked discipline, and now had a confidence and pride in their eyes that they had earned through great effort.
I sometimes think that perhaps all of our youth should spend six months after high school to go through a program like this. Aimless, angry, and lost youths could find themselves and discover their inner strengths and possiblities. THEN they could go on to college....or vocational school....or continue with the military for a longer time. Perhaps the government would then pay their first year of schooling. With what is being spent on incarceration and court costs for confused young people, instead, we would have a trained group of people who would have the discipline and direction to move forward as productive members of society.
But Friday was Nick's day. I was so proud of him, and shocked at the pictures.....it was almost like I saw my Dad in Nick's proud grin. Dad passed 4 years ago, but I am sure he was standing beside a confident, young Marine on Friday....and his arms were around this young man, and also around the woman he loved......and does...and will. Congratulations, Nick!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The National News continues to drone on about the continuing frigid temperatures in the north country, and to chide those of us residing in the Sunbelt to be gentle when telling our northern friends about our sunshine and 70 degree temps. Sometimes this is regarded as the Gloating Season...especially for the snowbirds like me who have endured so many of those cold, dark, windy, frigid winters.
I felt just a twinge of guilt when I sent this pictures to my northern trailriding friends this morning. I am sure they have not seen their horses for months, as they are deeply covered with long hair, snow, blankets or all of the above. They come in at night for feedings with frosty breaths, icy snowballs under their hooves causing them to skitter across the aisle to their stalls, and crusty ice patches clinging to their manes and tails. I told them of how it was a chilly 65 degrees yesterday, so I had to wear my windbreaker when I rode ( I know what they are wearing.....I still have a heavy down riding jacket in my closet!). I have now been accused of having thinned blood from my months spent in the sunshine. When I go out and see the sun glinting off my palominos golden coat and watch him standing contently under a shade tree drinking out of his lukewarm watering tank, I know he is sadly thinking of his horse friends up north who are hunched up with their backs against the raw wind, pawing through the snow for frozen grass or hay, and nuzzling their waterer which has once again frozen over. There goes that guilty twinge again,
BUT...I have to remind myself that I spent 59 years freezing my butt in that tundra, Bart has had the ice balls under his feet, and now that I am an old lady of 61 and haved survived 30 years of teaching middle-schoolers in public schools, I DESERVE THIS!!!!!!! So to my shivering friends up north.....put in your time, then come on down......there are warm, sunny trails to explore, sunshine to soak up, warm swimming pools and hot tubs to ease your stiffened joints, and NO MOSQUITOS OR HUMIDITY!!!!!
Yup, it is pretty nice down here. But the only thing missing is the laughter, teasing, and friendly friends from up north. So in another few months, when it is heating up down here, they will be telling me of the beautiful spring days, the flowers starting to bloom, the riding trails and parks opening up......and I will leave this winter paradise and the moutains and return to that northland with it's summer and fall beauty. But until then, excuse me, I have a yeller hoss out there waiting for a ride. ADIOS!
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Three signs of spring are showing themselves this week. First, I noticed the flowering plum or apple trees by the hospital were in full bloom, second the poppys are blooming, and third, garage sales are popping up all over! Westpark, Horsepatality, and North Branch all had community-wide sales. I took advantage of this to try to unload clothes that have resided in my closet for too many years, as well as the bedroom set I just replaced, and lots of extra horse tack. I had a steady stream of people through both days, and ended up with enough to pay my expensive Arizona state taxes plus get a patio set I have been eyeing at Home Depot. So my closets are now roomier, my storage shed is accessible, my cupboards are less likely to spill out when I open them, and I have a nice receipt from Habitat for the left overs.
After closing up at 4, I went out to feed my horse and clean up his paddock, then came home to relax in the pool and jacuzzi, fixed dinner, and now have the house and carport organized again, and have a great feeling of satisfaction. So am enjoying a well-earned glass of wine while watching a great movie on TV....about a boy being raised by his eccentric uncles. Ah, the bed will feel good in a few hours!