Monday, May 31, 2010

What I Did This Weekend

Forgive me for the brief interuption, but I had to talk about this holiday weekend before I forgot what I did.

See, I might have suffered a sun stroke. Or heat exhaustion. Or exhaustion. period.

Or some version thereof.

I worked hard and got a few things done. Some things, like getting hay, trimming Paula's feet, clipping the horses, changing the oil in my truck, cleaning out the car, and mowing are on a regular schedule and were all due to be done (and did get done) this weekend.

Other things just had to be done, because they needed to be, like getting at the very least, my perimeter fence set up so the girls could get into the new shelter.

In case you forgot, that area used to look like this:

It actually looked even worse as there were old cattle pens there when I first got here, but I can't find that picture right now. This is still before. Just not before-before.

So after much work this weekend, here is the after:

There is still much to be done, so this isn't the after-after. This is the after-for-now.

I also got my tack room set up. I had ordered some saddle racks and bridle hangers from Schneiders, so I got those put up and some organization started.

I love these bridle hangers. They enable a person to properly hang up their bridle and reins very easily!

By the way, this is the bridle I used to show POA's in. I still love it. It's a custom Circle Y, back when they weren't mass-manufactured. I made a lot of memories with this bridle.

After the fencing and tack room, I turned my attention to my garden and boy, did it need it!

My plants are growing so big and the veggies are starting to emerge. First, my Roma tomatoes:

Then the Celebrity tomatoes:

Sweet peppers:

Purple bell pepper:

Insert "picked a purple pepper" allusion here. Come on, it's obligatory.

Jalapeno pepper:

And your basic green bell pepper:

He's not a veggie, but he's vegging...nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

By the way, I hate cabbage loopers. Hate them, hate them, hate them.

Thanks. I feel better now.

I had planned on weeding the entire garden, but the long weekend came to a close way too early. Here's my weeded garden:

Here's my unweeded garden:

Well, there's always tomorrow....

Goodnight, Annie.


Be Tough, But Fair

I know I said earlier that I'd do the Code of the West theme for ten days in a row, but you see I'm what they call a "weekend warrior" and since this was an extended weekend, I've basically used all three days to cram in three month's work of projects around the farm.

And I hurt. I really, really hurt.

Don't worry. I'm not hurt, per se. Just tired, sore, cramped, bruised, scraped, exhausted, and sunburned. So last night I didn't blog. I could barely crawl into the shower.

I can't wait to return to the office tomorrow so I can get some rest! I'll post a bit later about all I accomplished, but first thing's first: Code of the West. Tonight's episode: be tough but fair.

When I was a kid, I got the awesome opportunity to show POA's (Pony of the Americas). It's a terrific organization and I got to get my feet wet in all kinds of classes. My sister and I both showed quite a bit, on both the state and national level. All summer long we'd go out to the place where we kept our horses (right beside a city park--it was fantastic) and work our ponies all day long before our parents picked us up in the evening, dragging us to the car kicking and screaming.

I'm kidding about that last part, but only a little.

The picture above is BV, my main show gelding I had. In this shot we were running barrels in Oklahoma City at the International Show in the Versatility Class. It was quite an experience: 4 classes (western pleasure, English pleasure, hunter hack, and barrels) in one and you never left the arena. They'd bring in your tack on a flatbed and you got to have two helpers to help get you dressed and change tack. Of course outfitting the horse was relatively easy, but trying to get dressed in the middle of the OKC arena in front of a fairly large crowd was another thing altogether!

Anyway, the point is we had a lot of fun with our ponies. We were very fortunate kids. My sister and I both knew this, but we were also typical sisters, which means we fought like sisters do.

But we fought while we were training horses, which is something a little less typical, I suppose.

One day we had a doozie of a fight. I can't even remember what it was about, like so many fights go, but I do remember we were planning on going riding in the park. She saddled up Hotshot, her ex-show pony (pictured below) and I saddled up BV. Before I was finished, though, she took off on Hotshot into the back pasture, I figured, to warm up (and perhaps blow off some steam).

When I got BV saddled I loped him back there and found Hotshot running around riderless and my sister on the ground, eyes closed. Since we had had a big argument, I figured she was being melodramatic and was faking, so I told her to knock it off and get back on her horse so we could get to riding.

Only, she didn't move.

I yelled at her again. Really, who was she fooling anyhow?

She moaned a bit. At this point I was starting to really get mad again. I mean, come on. This acting was just pitiful and a waste of time. I dismounted and walked over to her, scolding her for having let Hotshot run around with his reins dragging, just to put on this show.

At this point my sister rolled over and vomitted.

And it was at this point that I realized my sister wasn't faking.

Thankfully my parents showed up right then (this was before cell phones, way back in the day) and they got her to the hospital. She had suffered a concussion when Hotshot had reared up and fallen over on her backwards.

Needless to say, I felt bad. I really did. I had been tough, but definitely not fair. I learned the hard way to swallow my pride and admit I had made a mistake. Thankfully, she ended up ok, and we lived happily ever after.

Or as happily ever after as sisters do, in any case.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Do What Has To Be Done

This post is the the fourth in the series of the Code of the West. Be sure to go back and read the original code. It's good stuff!

This fourth code, "do what has to be done," seems fitting given this is Memorial Day weekend. Everyday there are so many families and friends of those who serve in the military that have to do what has to be done. They say goodbye. They say goodbye to their brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, cousins, friends, mothers, and fathers who are being shipped away, either to bases all over the nation or to wars half a world a way. They say goodbye, wait, and hope they will see their loved ones again.

Seven years ago I was one of the ones who had to say goodbye, and it was one of the hardest times of my life. I waited for a year for my husband to return home from Korea.

I was one of the lucky ones, too. I got to go over and visit him for two weeks. He was "only" gone a year. At the time Korea was a fairly stable area. I had no children to worry about, only myself. I had a steady career, a home, a reliable vehicle and a friend of mine and I went to London the same year. Comparitively I had it easy, as far as deployments go.

I can't imagine having to say goodbye to the mother or father of your children and know that they are going to a war zone for an indeterminate amount of time. I admire them so much.

I admire them because they do what has to be done.

My ancestors knew the meaning of this code. They did what had to be done and survived. My 3rd great grandfather was a sergeant in for the Union in the Civil War. My grandfather fought in both WWII and the Korean War.

This Memorial Day, I hope everyone is thankful for not only those who did what had to be done in the past, but for those families who do what needs to be done every single day in this country, no matter how much their hearts are breaking or how hard it is to say goodbye.

You certainly have my everlasting admiration and gratitude. To those families: thank you.


Yes, It's Me, Fran

Don't worry, your bookmarks haven't gone askew. This is the same ole blog with a new ole look. I'll be back later to continue the series, but in the meantime, I thought I had some 'splainin to do. Anyway, hope you enjoy the new, lighter look to the blog.

See ya'll around the bend....


Friday, May 28, 2010

Always Finish What You Start

This story is also called "I will do this at a later date." You'll see why in a minute.

In case you're wondering what the heck this post is about, please darling, you mustn't worry so (name that movie). This post is the third in a series from the Code of the West. The idea is to tell a story about one or more of these unwritten laws of the land. Anyone is invited to participate, but you must leave a comment directing us to your post so we know!

Today's topic: Always finish what you start.

Ok, bye.

Just kidding. I had to do it. It was ripe, on the tree, so I picked it.

Moving on. I learned the lesson of "always finish what you start" back in the third grade. That was only ten years ago. I swear.

Hey, this topic is not about telling the truth. As long as I finish, that's what counts, right?

Well, in the third grade (ahem, ten year ago, give or take) I had a terrific teacher. Her name was Ms Dollard. She was incredibly kind and patient, which was a good thing for me because I wasn't such a good kid.

See, I had this problem with homework. I didn't want to do it.

It was boring. It sucked. I had other, much more important things to do.

So, I started writing at the top of my homework "I will do this at a later date." I figured that as long as I explained that I did indeed intend to complete my homework at some point in the future that it would be perfectly fine. I covered my bases. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Well, obviously my line of reasoning was a bit skewed and when Ms Dollard found a stack of papers in my desk, all with the above note written neatly across the top of each paper, my parents got a phone call.

Luckily for me, Ms Dollard was sympathetic to my plight, so instead of sentencing me to hard labor (aka more homework) I was tested for the gifted program at the school. Thankfully she did not mistake my boredom for apathy. I tested high enough to be able to attend the gifted program at school and my academic career was on a much steadier path after that.

So, thanks to Ms Dollard and my parents, I learned that even though some things might not be fun or challenging, it was still important to finish what you start.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Take Pride in Your Work

If you're just now joining us, you might scroll down a couple of posts and catch up (it will only take a few seconds, I promise). This post is the second in a series from The Code of the West. I thought it might be fun, or at the very least, mildly entertaining to write about each of these codes in the context of my own life.

And if it's not entertaining, well, I apologize for the next two minutes of your life that you will never get back.

Honestly, just keep going. It's not that bad!

So, today's topic is "Take pride in your work." This one was easy as my mantra "anything worth doing is worth doing well" has been a staple in my life since day one. This time, it was difficult to pick a story to exemplify something I try for a little bit each day.

Thinking back to my Junior College career, I remembered a very special professor: Dr Keller. Along with several other English department faculty members, they really pushed me to do my best more than any other teachers I had ever had (or have had since) did.

The class was Honors English Literature. As our final, Dr Keller assigned the largest paper I had ever written. It was to be a full 20-page in-depth analysis of some aspect of literature. Because I learned early on in my high school career that the best way to get attention academically was to write/speak about something fairly shocking, I decided my topic would be the Black Death and its impact on literature.

Sounds like fun, eh?

The first paper I turned in was a basic research paper. It was correct, but Dr Keller knew I could do better. He gave me back the paper with hardly a word. The task was to start over and use my full potential. So I did.

I poured over every book and article I could find on the subject. I worked for hours and hours on the best way to structure my paper and its content, and I carefully analyzed each word to make sure I conveyed the correct meaning, tone, and context.

Once my final was complete I turned it in and anxiously awaited the results. This time I knew I had done my very best. I wasn't just going through the motions this time. I poured my heart and soul into this paper.

The result was a simple A written on the back with the note: "Well-written, erudite paper worthy of your talents. Please see me if you desire more praise."

That kind of note would have certainly been enough, but unbeknownst to me he had submitted it to the English department of the university I had planned on attending. A few months later I received a letter--I had been granted a large scholarship based off the merits of this paper alone!

It was at that point that I realized it truly does pay off to take pride in your work and do your best--always. You never know what might come of it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Live Each Day With Courage

In case you missed it, on Tuesday I posted the Code of the West, which were ten points of frontier logic that can easily be applied to today.

I decided to assign myself (and anyone else who would like to attempt it) the task of telling a story for each point, one per day. Today's post is #1: Live each day with courage.

This is probably the hardest one for me because I do not consider myself a courageous person whatsoever. Some days I'm too scared to even look at my bank account! I've never bungee jumped, went skydiving or hang gliding. I don't even like rollar coasters. My ex-grandmother-in-law (got that?) said I was brave when I flew to Korea by myself, but that was something I felt I had to do and it never even occurred to me to be scared to do it, so I don't count that as courageous, either.

But, as you know, sometimes it's the small triumphs in life that make a big difference. Or a small difference. Or at least give ya something to look back on and chuckle. This story fits into that last category.

In Kansas City (specifically Overland Park, Kansas) there is a decent-sized mall called the Oak Park Mall. Because it's centrally located it can get pretty busy. This usually large crowd quadruples in size during the Christmas shopping season, and it was one year during this time that my sister and I decided to go shopping at Oak Park Mall.

At that time it was very hard to find a parking place. It was nothing like the picture above. Imagine this picture with a sea of cars. Yes, a sea. Not the Marmara. More like the Caspian, or perhaps the Arabian. Ah yes, the Caspian, since we're land-locked. This is Kansas afterall.

Now I'm not the type of person who has to have a close parking place. I enjoy walking, so I usually zip right into some empty space at the end of a row and trek on in. However, during Christmas season in Overland Park you really don't get a choice. There aren't any spaces even at the end of the rows, so I drove, with my sister sitting shotgun, up and down the rows hoping there would be one empty space somewhere.

We were both craning our necks, looking every which way when I suddenly spotted a space and zipped my little Rav4 right in there. We were delighted to finally have found a place, chuckled to ourselves and got out of the car.

Suddenly I hear someone yell at me. I turned around and there was a blonde older lady in a Lexus with a passenger I couldn't see very well. She yelled at me again, "Why did you take my parking place?!"

Me: "Sorry, I didn't know it was yours."

Her: "Didn't you see me waiting for it?"

Me: "No, I'm sorry, I didn't see you at all. Would you like your space back?"

Her: "What?" (flustered)

Me: "Just wait right here. I'll back out and you can have your space."

Her: speeds away in a huff

My sister was flabbergasted. She didn't expect that out of me at all. I told her long ago, in High School debate, I learned that sometimes the best way to beat someone looking for an argument is to refuse to argue with them.

My gut wanted me to just ignore her and keep walking, but on that day, I summoned the tiny bit of courage the man from Oz had bestowed upon me as part of my Kansas birthright and I turned the tables on the Wicked Witch in the Lexus.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Code of the West

Last weekend when I was in Wichita doing some show-shopping (as opposed to "show-stopping," which I am unfortunately quite familiar with due to my unbelievable awkwardness during dance recitals as a teenager), I found an old painted tile with a "code" written on it. It wasn't the tile itself, as much as the code that caught my eye. It said:

Code of the West

1. Live each day with courage

2. Take pride in your work

3. Always finish what you start

4. Do what has to be done

5. Be tough, but fair

6. When you make a promise, keep it

7. Ride for the brand

8. Talk less and say more

9. Remember that some things aren't for sale

10. Know where to draw the line

It caught my eye because these are the very rules that I grew up with. Some of these things I learned from my parents, and I know because of the stories I heard, they learned them from their parents as well.

I also learned some of them through mistakes made, or from friends or stories I heard. Like many people, I try very hard to live a good life, not make mistakes, do the best I can and for all intensive purposes, live by this code (although until that day I saw it in the store, I didn't know it existed).

So, I thought it might be fun (or at least fun-ny) over the next ten days I will post a story that goes with each of the items mentioned on this code. This might be a train wreck waiting to happen, or it might pan out to be something inspiring. I'm willing to bet the former more than the latter, but that's the fun thing about experiments. At least you have fun finding out!

See ya'll tomorrow, with the story of "Live each day with courage."

UPDATE: Since great minds think alike and Sydney suggested something I had tossed around in my own brain a bit, I'd like to invite any of my readers with blogs of their own to join in! Write your own story about one or more of the codes mentioned above. Be sure to leave a link in the comments so everyone can read them all!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

He Might Be Down, But He's Not Out

Friday evening I decided to work on the arena fence a bit more. Usually I let the girls out into there to keep the grass down (it's going to be a while before I till the sand up) but this time I decided Eddie should have a turn. I opened up his gate and figured he'd hop on out there and eat some grass.

Well, I was wrong. He RAN out there (well, as good as a horse can on three good legs and one messed up leg). He screamed at the girls, they ran over and flirted over the fence, then he ran to the middle, rolled, and reared up!

Hi Ho Silver!!

Then he took off running towards the barn.

I was afraid through all this he was either going to (1) hurt himself even more badly or (2) pay for it the next day. Neither one happened, thankfully, but even though I was worried he made me laugh and smile and for a minute forget that our goodbyes are in the not-to-distant future.

Eventually he did calm down and just graze.

I love this horse so much, and part of the reason why is because of things like this. You hear the bad news from the vet, cry all the way home, and then he acts like "Gee ma, what's your problem? I'm fine!"

How could I not love him for that?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Eddie's Beautiful Babies

The 2010 foaling season is complete and Eddie ended up producing three beautiful solid APHA/AQHA fillies! While the solid part is a little disappointing, the filly part is right on, man!

(In case you didn't know, Eddie has FABULOUS fillies).

This is Merlot. She is owned by Timmery Perez in Idaho. She's going to be a show-stopper!

This is "Hope," owned by Kelly Fulton in Oregon. Despite our differences I do appreciate Kelly sending me pictures of Hope. I waited for years to see how this cross would work out. She looks well worth the wait.

This is "Rainy" with her owner Megan Van Hollebeke in Washington. I am so impressed that Megan already has Rainy halter broke and tying. She's really going to do this filly justice and I'm so proud!!

Isn't this the cutest picture, too? I love it!

In case you're new to the blog, Eddie has some other fabulous fillies as well:

"Bambi," whom I own (and adore without end). She's a 2008 model out of an HYPP N/N double Obvious Conclusion bred mare.

This is my "Paula." She means the world to me. She's a 2006 mare out of my late, great Dirty Larry daughter.

And while he's not a filly, Colten is fabulous as well. He's full brother to Paula and owned by Sandra Layton in Missouri.

See, I told ya. Fabulous.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The House

Well, I'm pleased to report the house is one step closer to being complete. We only need to completely reside it, finish gutting the second floor, renovate the second floor, fix the porch, then gut the first floor and renovate that.

It should be done in no time (not).

In a display of optimism, however, I'd like to share our latest triumph! This is the house in 1891:

As you might recall from my previous posts, this house has experienced several attempts at renovation over the years. The last one was probably sometime in the late 1960's, so it's overdue. Because some of the previous restorations, just bad, we're completely gutting the entire place and starting over, basically from scratch. The only thing left on the house that will be original will be the frame.

But, someone has to pay for it, and someone has to live in it, and we haven't gotten our bail-out check yet, so it's going to take a while. Here's the house earlier this week:

It has a brand new roof (1-layer as they tore off every old layer AND the old wooden shingles underneath, removed the chimneys and basically started from scratch). Please excuse the nasty old rusted railing and the junk. I keep picking up junk, but they keep working on the house, so I'm always picking up junk. It's a vicous cycle.

Here's the top of the house. The mission yesterday (while I was at work, thank goodness, or I might have had a coronary), was to put this top on the top of the house.

We didn't think the house should go on being in public topless. It just isn't proper.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the house, with top:

Ta da! Kind of a different look, isn't it? I think it looks stately (I think). I have mixed emotions--it's much more sound for the house to have a peaked roof than a flat roof, and it actually does keep with the original Folk Victorian architecture, but it's strange seeing the house look so different after seeing it one certain way for 15 years....

The plywood on the top will have siding to match the house (when it gets all done), but first we have to do new windows, new porch, new trim, etc.

You have no idea what all goes into a house until you dig into one. Dad and I spent over an hour in Home Depot last week just trying to decide on one piece of roof trim that you can't even see unless you're standing directly under it and looking way up!

We did end up with a lovely smaller version of crown molding, but an hour folks--an hour.

Here's the side view:

Almost seems like it should have a bell in it! But then people would call me Quasimodo, and we just can't have that.

Not in my house.

Last night I had a gin and Fresca and got on Photoshop, which is a dangerous combination. I share with you, the fruits of my sins:

Hopefully the end product will look MUCH better than this!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Does My Garden Grow

I can't help but show off my garden.

If that makes me a bad person, then I'll own that. I'll take it to the bank!

This is my very first vegetable garden ever, and I'm having a blast!

Just remind me of that in August when I'm fighting the heat and bugs and trying to salvage whatever I can from the ruins of this effort.

Wow, gardening can be a little melodramatic!

Melodramatic...but hopefully mighty tasty!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Looking Forward

First of all, I want to thank everyone to sent me messages of support and condolances for Eddie's situation. It means so much to have so many friends out there who think so highly of him and wish him the best. I took this picture today of him at dinnertime. As you can see, his leg is, well...pretty messed up, but he's well and in good health otherwise. Hopefully he'll keep a good quality of life for a little while longer.

And I'll tell you a secret: everyday when I drive up into my driveway after a full day at the office, I secretly hope to see Eddie healed. I know it's not going to happen anymore than me getting a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve night, but I still hope.

Between hope and the future, it's all we have now. So, while I spend time with Eddie everyday, thank God for the time I have left with him and try to make these final days good ones, it's also important, I think, to keep looking forward. I have two lovely daughters of his and this place to get in order, so let's get on with the projects.

I think we left off at project #8,345,621, wasn't it? Let me to check my notes.... While I'm checking, please enjoy the following sunset photo (cue: muzak).

OK, we're back.

Like I said, I've got two gorgeous daughters of Ed's to promote. We just had about 18 inches of rain, though (or it seems like 18 inches, anyway), so Paula isn't looking very fabulous at the moment.

I sure love her, though.

Suzie is also a little rain-drenched. She's got a trip to Texas in a couple of weeks. I've told her but she just gives me the same look. You know that look--that food? look.

Bambi's hiding behind her, too. See her? Instead of "Where's Waldo" it's "Find Tub-O."

One of the projects I've been working on is the arena fence. These posts were already up, so I just had to finish off the railing.

Next is cutting off the tops of the posts. I've only got not even a tenth of the total fenceline done, but I can't help it--I'm excited. It's going to be nice, oui?

Stupid, the farmdog, got a little wet out in the rain as well.

By the way, never start your dog on hotdogs. That was the only way I could get her meds down her. Now that she's off them, she still expects the hot dogs! That wasn't the deal. Someone needs to tell her that wasn't the deal.

And in the meantime, she gets a hotdog every day.

My cat Harley's coverage on my blog has been sadly neglected.

He aims to correct the situation by looking as cute as possible at all times to ensure optimal photo opportunities.

And yes, between him and Sophie I am allowed about two square feet of my bed. They're just generous like that.

Tomorrow will be an exciting day! The top of the house gets put on!

Yes, you heard me.

Or read me.


Here's the top:

I wonder how many things can go wrong with this project?

I don't want to think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow.

Goodnight, Scarlett.