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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I can sit and watch horses tirelessly. Aside from their obvious beauty and stunning fluidity of movements.... they capture my attention in other ways. If I were to zero in on one particular detail of interest, it would be how amazing and sensitive horses' lips, tongues, and whiskers are.

I marvel watching the horses pick through their hay or grass, carefully selecting all their favorite pieces first. I'm amazed watching them pick up remnant pieces after they've polished off the alfalfa. At first glance, I wouldn't see anything, but in for a closer look I can see they're picking up the smallest of digestible materials. If it were me, I'd have a mouth and face full of dirt, probably missing any piece I was after in the first place. Horses can manipulate the tiniest of pieces finely with their lips as effectively in their world, as we do with our hands and fingers in ours.

While weeding in the garden, I pulled out some big chunks of grass, some with roots still attached and tossed them over the gate for the 3 pasture clowns to have fun with, much like my children with a pile of dessert between them. All three horses attacked the pile by pecking order, establishing their spots, and after the dust settled, ate peacefully the sweet greens. Once they picked up a clump with roots attached, their different personalities kicked in, but each effective in their own way.

They'd work on them beginning from the seed tops, working the rootball upward towards their mouth as they contentedly chewed. Recognizing this, the grass was nippled down to the roots, and with a few nods of a head, the remnants tumbled to the ground. Another, once the grass was down to the offending roots, rubbed the root end on the gate or ground until the roots gave way. The last just tenderly with great care and sensitivity and with the percision of garden shears nipped the grass around the rootball clean off, no fanfare. The youngest of the three, if rubbing it along the fence or bobbing her head didn't work, would simply step on it, ripping the rootball away from the grass.None of them looked dismayed or perplexed by the task of derooting their morsels. They went right back in for more to repeat what worked best for them, whether it's rubbing the roots on the ground, the wall, or nearby fence, or stepping on it, or my favorite, happily and gingerly nibbling the grasses down to the roots and with the aid of the tongue, spitting the rest out.

Horses are able to preform delicate tasks with their big soft mouths. They have such sensivity that I can't help but watch and marvel. But then I have to laugh when I'm working them in the corral, and notice how their sensitivity quickly vanishes, such as when asked to move off of leg pressure or yeild to the bit. Amazing and entertaining animals they are!

Simple things.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sweaty Eyebrows

Okay, I have no pictures to go with this one, but no one I know would want one anyway! Some things are just better to leave in one's imagination and undocumented.

I love potato chips, especially natural and hearty Kettle chips. Yesterday I enjoyed Death Valley Chipotle, the day before Buffalo Bleu. Today, it's Sea Salt and Vinegar. I smile just thinking about each variety! Once I tried those chips, all others take a backseat and I don't think I can buy a bag of any other kind again.

Faces are expressive, but eyebrows have their own stories to tell. Mine, well my eyebrows lightly perspire when I eat something pretty spicy or "vinegary".... No worries, nothing that would make someone look twice! Just enough for me to feel a cool breeze on my eye-armor. Spicy or vinegary things like pickles, smokey Tabasco, lemon pepper, my husband's famous chipotle bbq sauce... have all contributed to this amusing oddity.

I often wonder if others experience this same reaction... but I leave it unsaid, as I am aware how it were to sound if I were to ask.

Simple things.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Bay Blaze

"So why do you call her Blaze?... I don't see one." I often hear when I introduce my thoroughbred mare to someone..."Oh it's there" I reply, "it's just bay". I get blank stairs, they go in for a closer look, and then some form of chuckle usually follows. You know, I've searched and searched, and this horse has not one solitary white hair on her hide anywhere... not on her nose, not in her mane or tail, not on any leg or even under her belly. Zilch.

Blaze was a racehorse, and was "blazing hot" on the track, at least that's how I like to imagine her to have been. Her name also follows her sire's track name through her registry with the Jockey Club. She's all... and a lot of horse, and an amazing athlete. My round corral is too small for this huge-strided big girl. Working her in the corral, she really wants to go- and go fast... she'll be loping her front legs, keeping her speed in check, but when she's fired up, her back legs want to go faster and they "hop" like a bunny. All in perfect time and rythm. Her muscles ripple under her velvety smooth hide, and her head is about motionless as she quickly moves about. Some of my favorite "magical" moments after working horses, is the high gloss and shine on their coat, and if it's a cooler morning or evening, watching the steam rise off their backs.

This morning, while the other two were finishing up their leftover scraps of alfalfa, I went up and climbed atop the fence to watch the horses peacefully finish their meal. Blaze gave a soft nicker and walked on over to me for a greeting. Not long after the nuzzles, did she turn her giant hindquarters to me and back-in for a good old-fashioned scratching. So I did a big job on her big hiney... layed in with both arms and all ten fingers. She stretched out her neck and wiggled her lips in response. I did that for a while until her neck slowly dropped and she stood there with one back leg resting. Of course, the next natural thing for me to do was lay my upper half right on over that big velvety butt. And so we rested.

Simple things.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Waitin' on the Storm

We had several days of thunderstorms. On the first day, I just couldn't sit still a moment longer while the storm rolled in. I'd watched it on my trusty radar, but it was time to go out and greet it. Armed with camera in hand, I went on to the northeast side of my old barn where the open stall faces north and east.

What better place to wait on a thunderstorm then outside with the horses? At rest in their large corner open sided stall, all three greeted me with soft nickers. After their friendly greetings subsided, they resumed their previous activities. Some were quietly snoozing, or quietly interacting with the movement of a head, cock of an ear, or nuzzled with me or my son. The youngest who always seems to be looking for food, even at rest habitually gently lipping at some remnent morsels left over from their morning meal. We sat with them and watched their peaceful behaviors, and listened to the distant rolling thunder near. Horses, for me fill just about every sense, and I enjoy teaching that to my children. So we sat there quietly and learned.

Reno's the baby of the band, and into everything...she'd ride a'top of me if she could. She's greenbroke, but she packs a saddle like a champ and is always the first to greet me at the gate when she hears the "clanging" of the halter & leadrope. Like a big dog, she's always curious and wants to follow us around to see what we're doing and how her big personality and self can fit into it and be part of our activity. She happily interacted with us when we waited on the storm, whether it was licking the floorboards of the barn, or steaming my camera lens as I tried taking pictures.

When people pay attention to the little "finite" things in their life, a whole new world of beauty unfolds before them. Sometimes one just needs to "sit still and listen".
Simple pleasures.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lightning Storm~ Frankenstein and Noodles

Awesome and humbling storm last night, it even made my computer crash! I was out with the horses until a "net" of lightning was over head. Then retreated (ok, ran like lightning, haha) to safety and watched it out the windows as well as on the computer weather radar- the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning bulletin for our area with damaging winds.

So the computer crashed, and reviving it was more like a Frankenstein scene... you could just see me on here like mad... hair in all directions... studying the echo tops of the cells on radar, checking out lightning strikes, and intensity signatures, and facebooking, blogging, myspacing all at the same time, while I'm running out to the windows watching bolts searing the air, managing kids, consoling our shaken dog who belly-crawled into the house (not an indoor dog)... This is while speghetti's boiling on the stove... and answering the phone. Something just had to give.... Input & electrical overload, my meteorological "command center" shut down, screen went black. I sat there stairing blankly and in disbelief at the dead screen. But only momentarily...The computer revival was swift & like a Frankenstein scene... speghetti noodles were the only casualty. Storm's expected to be EVEN be better today!

What came of my speghetti? I am embarrassed to say that the speghetti noodles didn't get the recognition they deserved for their ultimate sacrifice...they're still in the pot soggy, collecting rainwater on the back deck! I only had a moment to put the burnt smoking pot outside! Really looking forward to what today brings!

Simple pleasures with a spark!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Starling

I have no rooster on my little homestead but I hear one regularly. Next to my old barn is an oak tree that a silly little male starling sits in, singing to his heart's content, momentarily pausing to see who's walking below. Starling's songs are beautiful, and as I walk beneath the oaks branches, I'm stopped short when I hear a rooster cockadoodaldoo. When he does his rooster impersonation, it's somewhat quiet and strained, so it seems like it's far away, but it's direction comes to me from over my head. He goes back and resumes his beautiful melody, and then I laugh when I hear a "meow", and resumes his song once more. Over the days, I hear his songs and his farm animal interjections, including sheep sounds, and frogs.

We're entertained by this every year, and then he has two broods of babies inside the barn wall twice each year. Hopefully passing on his peculiarity.

Simple things.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Simple Pleasures

I'm a weather nut, the wilder and crazier it gets, the more I like it... considering there's not over-turned homes, missing people, or waters filling up in areas they don't belong. But along with the rest of what nature has to offer, I love the outdoors and all it's elements.... weather, being one of the most dramatic. Now add that into an amazing landscape, and it becomes almost mind-altering!

For days I've anticipated a thunderstorm in our area. Most of the storms are in eastern Oregon, up and over the Cascade Range from here. Many of the storms also tend to develop right above the mountains of the foothills I live in and they tend to move on up north from there. With great anticipation for meteorological events here, most of them just skirt by our homestead in our humble hills. But finally yesterday afternoon while I followed the weather tracking radar on my computer, part of the thunderstorm finally expanded enough to claim the little foothills, and I watched the cloud shadow slowly overtake us like a giant wing. Though not 'wild and crazy'... it was still a great experience and harmonious thunderstorm, nevertheless! The main activity stayed out in the mountains, but this time it was close enough to hear the rolling melody. Outdoors I went, without a look back.
The air was warm, still and sultry... as out to the pasture I fled. My 3 'over-grown puppies' came to see what I brought them, checking my pockets. I loved being out with the horses, nuzzled by giant lips, whiskers, and warm breaths on my cheeks, while listening to one of nature's beautiful ballads... the rolling thunder and it's echoes in the near and distant hills.

It's been overcast today, with some of the same conditions in play, and thunderstorms again in the forecast for later on. There's finite drizzle in the warm air and the mildest of breezes. We'll see what today brings. Simple pleasures.....