Sunday, January 31, 2010
That way you don't forget and everyone is happy in the end!
For those of you stretching for ideas:
FTD has some lovely arrangements that can be delivered via a local florist.
Alethea's has fantastic hand made chocolates, and you can make a custom box of chocolates for your favorite chocolate lover. The black forest cheesecake truffles are definitely to die for!
You can always go for a pamper-me bath setup by selecting luxurious items in delectable scents from Bath and Body Works.
For the gunny girl in your life, a couple of boxes of ammo and a trip to the range, or a new scope or range bag is always a safe bet.
Feel free to comment with more suggestions!
**Obligatory FTC disclaimer: None of these companies give me stuff, although if Alethea's wants to offer me free chocolates, I'm not going to argue....
Thursday, January 28, 2010
If you know where to look or are lucky enough to have a good guide (and I'm not talking about the kind of guide that wears a parks uniform) you can still see bomb craters, and bullet holes.
But that's not what this is about. This is about these men:
Men who lost their lives while serving their country, and all of those throughout the ages who didn't get an elegant memorial with their names engraved in marble. The soldiers of our country who fight and die even today to protect our way of life. Whether you agree with the orders or not, they follow them. They hold their heads high and rightfully so.
There's an eerie sense, approaching the memorial. Not as if the ghosts of sailors still hang around, but more as if the reverence of everyone who has gone before you has left a residue. The white shape against the blue water is a stark image, with our flag flying above the fallen.
The entrance feels like you're walking into an ancient temple. A place where the gods and the spirits of the dead just might communicate with those of us here on earth.
I won't post pictures looking down into the water. It's something that should be seen in person. The slick of leaked oil throwing rainbow colors across the surface of the water, appropriately called Tears of The Arizona. The fish gliding above the deteriorating, encrusted metal. For me, there's a sense of sorrow, grief for men I never knew.
Mom's great-uncle was one of the men lost on the Arizona. He lies somewhere beneath the surface, along with the shipmates he died with, and a few who, having survived the attack, chose later to be interred with their brothers.
Everyone knows the Arizona is still there. Not as many realize that the USS Utah still sits just off Ford Island. Unlike the Arizona, the Utah was rolled to one side of the channel, to allow her sister ships to come and go.
Her memorial may not be as famous, nor as well-traveled, but it is no less important. If you get the chance, visit her, and pay your respects. Utah's memorial is less overrun, more peaceful. It holds the same sense of reverence, however, and perhaps a touch more melancholy.
I'm grateful that I have had the chance to visit these places. I hope my nephews do, as well as any children I might have. It's a place to give honor and acknowledge sacrifice, for the men who died there, who rest there, and for the men and woman who fell elsewhere, at other times.
Throughout the history of our country brave men and women have fought and died for the things they believed in. For those of us at home, so that we may not have to face the things that they do.
Never forget that. Never forget them, or forsake those who are facing the possibility of joining their ranks even today.
This was the view off our balcony (or lanai) at the hotel, the very night we got there. After five hours of delays in Denver and an eight hour flight, it was the most beautiful thing in the world to us, even though it was dark. Especially considering we weren't wearing coats. In January. At night. Oh Gawd why did I come home?
Another nifty perk of our room was the it was directly above the waterfalls on display at the front of the hotel, so when we'd get back to the room of an evening we'd sit on the balcony and listen to the waterfalls and stare out over the city for a while. So very relaxing....
On Thursday we went to the Sea Life Park, which is cheesy and touristy and quite a lot like a cut-rate Sea World except without the whales. But, we were tourists and they do some nifty dolphin and sea lion shows and there's plenty to see, so we went.
First up was the Ray Ballet:
Considering what happened to Mr. Irwin I think this chick is both brave and smart. She climbed into a tank with huge stingrays, but she brought bribes. I figure it's kind of like working with the mob when they're running a protection game. Pay em off, and you don't get hurt.
The rays of various types were quite cooperative when it came to showing off for the audience, and it was beautiful to watch them glide around.
Then, the sea turtles, right at the exit from the ray tank. This is what happens when you throw all the food in one area during feeding time. It's a slow motion feeding frenzy, a turtle pileup:
Since they sell turtle food (lettuce and broccoli) in the gift shop, the turtles are quite willing to wander over to anyone in the vicinity of their tank when they're not getting their big meal, and pose for pictures in the hopes of getting snacks.
Of course, no sea park is complete without sea lions, and in addition to the Miss Sea Lion Hawaii show in which they showed off their tricks they had an area where the sea lions just kind of hung out. It's not hard to guess why this guy wasn't involved in the choreographed show, since every time someone would walk by he'd make his opinion of tourists well known:
They also have a quite unusual animal at the Sea Life Park. I didn't know it was possible, but apparently dolphins and whales can cross breed. This one is the result of an accidental breeding, born right there in the park. She's called a whalfin and she was the star of the show:
A lot of the rest of the trip was sightseeing and enjoying the views. I have a ton of pictures, but to keep this short I'm breaking part of it off into another post and giving you one of my favorite vistas:
Also, the (in)famous Waimea Bay, which is reportedly normally a surfer's paradise, but which was flat as the Colorado plains the day we visited:
On our last day, we checked out of the hotel, checked our luggage, and got some more quality beach and park time in. I was pouting about having to leave this beautiful place, and one of the local birds came to console me. Or see if I would break the rules of almost everywhere in Hawaii and feed it. One of the two.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This last week I discovered a personality quirk, though. It seems that while Rebel is ok with leaving the other horses, he's not ok with being left. This was exacerbated by the fact that we'd turned them out on a farm field just chock full of fallen grain the day before, and the horses and cows had gotten out. I tracked down the horses (a mile away, yeesh) and got Rebel caught and saddled with no problems.
The issues started showing up when I got on. I got behind the other horses and encouraged them to start moving back towards home. They, of course, were feeling frisky and trotted off a little ways.
No biggie, I'll just ease up behind them and... what the hell??
Rebel went neurotic. Sidestepping and tossing his head and generally making it very clear that he is not happy with this situation. So, I got off and grabbed my spurs. He wasn't wanting to listen, so I needed the extra encouragement.
Once we caught up to the other horses, he was fine, and he was fine with leaving them, he just doesn't want to get left.
It wouldn't have been such a problem with Rebel, I'm sure, if he didn't have so much excess energy from munching on fallen grain all night, but since he did, there came a point where he became flat out dangerous about it.
I had to find a good place, both physically and metaphorically, and get off and walk.
There are a lot of personality quirks out there like this. And, it's not that uncommon for a horse to not like to be left behind by his buddies. More common is not wanting to leave his buddies at all. This behavior is commonly known as "buddy sour" or "barn sour."
It is a fixable behavior, it just takes work. For a buddy sour horse you have to consistently make them work while they're near their "buddies." This can be either a particular friend, or just any other horse, depending on your horse's personality and what they've gotten away with in the past.
You need help for this, since you need a buddy, so recruit a friend. If your horse is buddied up to a particular horse, try to use that horse. If the buddy is also sour, you may want to work one at a time, with a calmer horse that will be able to stand still while you're working the other horses near them.
If your horse only has this behavior under particular circumstances, you need to re-create those circumstances. If he's buddy sour on the trails, you need to train on the trails, if it's the arena, train in the arena, etc. If he's just buddy sour in general, you can train wherever you're comfortable.
First, have some fun. Warm up, trot around together, do some figure eights and serpentines and just make sure your horse is paying attention. Do this in tandem, if necessary, because working while another horse is near by is just fine, it's a behavior you want to encourage. When you're all warmed up, have the other horse stop, and keep your horse going. If you get ten feet or so between them before your horse starts to rebel, stop your horse and make him stand, away from the other horse.
Then go back to the other horse, but don't stop this time. Trot your horse in small circles near by, or around the standing helper horse, if you can do so safely. Let's not get horses kicked, folks, that's never any fun. If you're trotting around the other horse and he's displaying signs of agitation, move to trotting in small circles close by.
Your helper needs to stay alert, and be ready to get out of the way if your horse stops listening, shoulders out of or into his circles in an attempt to get closer to his friend, or has a real fit. Be alert and safe, as with all equine related activities. But for the most part, your helper can just sit there and relax.
Work your horse, trotting, not walking, we want it to be hard enough work to make being elsewhere and standing still preferable to being with his buddy and working, until he starts wanting to slow down and relax. If your horse is one who will quite willingly slow down after three strides of a trot, work them longer than that, of course.
At this point, you want to come out of your circle and get headed away from the other horse, then drop back to a walk. Walk a little further away than you were the last time you stopped, and have your horse stand. If he'll stand calmly, praise and pet him and relax a bit for a few minutes. If not, simply keep him from going back to the other horse for a minute or two, and then trot back to the buddy and repeat the process.
Doing this consistently, and you can use this method while you're out and about if your horse starts acting buddy sour, will convince your horse that being away from his buddy, and going away from his buddy, is less work than throwing a fit, even a minor one, gets him.
If your horse can walk calmly with the other horse on the trails and only throws a fit when you ask him to go away from his friend, then ask him to go away a few times during the ride, and repeat this process until your horse will leave his friend willingly.
This process also works with barn sour horses, with the variation being that instead of another horse, you make your horse work when he's near the barn, and let him rest when he's away from the barn.
I've seen this method click with some horses almost instantly, but there are no magic wands. Expect to continue this training for a while, until your horse will willingly do what you ask, whether he's pointed away from his friend or not.
For horses sour about being left behind, change things up a bit. Have your helper ride away, and when your horse starts having a fit, let the other horse keep walking, but trot your horse around them in a circle. This takes a little coordination and keeping your head in the game, but it's imperative that your horse associate following a moving horse with a lot of work. I would stay in the arena or corral for this method as much as you can.
Also, make your circles more elliptical... stretch them out in front and in back, but stay fairly close on the sides. This helps both with keeping the two horses from colliding, and also with making sure your horse associates the work with following the other horse.
Again, when your horse starts to want to slow down and take it easy, stop, and let the other horse continue walking away. If your horse gets antsy, repeat. If he stands calmly as the other horse leaves, praise him and let him relax. Here, I'm going to say that if your horse stands calmly when the other horse gets outside his normal comfort zone, have your helper stop.
It's very easy to undo good training by trying to push it too far, too fast. The whole point of this is to convince your horse that the world is not going to end if his buddy/the barn is too far away, so increasing his comfort zone slowly until he can be out of sight of the object of his affections will give you a solid foundation.
In the long run, it's better to do things slowly and gently, working with the horse's own natural inclinations (because let's face it, what horse wouldn't prefer standing and getting petted to working his butt off? those small circles aren't easy at the trot) than to push them too hard, and you'll build a great working relationship with your horse at the same time.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
So keep checking back, folks. You'll be getting one canned post from me, and one fresh one from AD.
Have I mentioned lately how fantastic, smart, witty, handsome, funny, fabulous and super I think he is? No? Well, I do.
We fly out Wednesday, but are heading up and staying with a friend Tuesday night to avoid having to get up at three in the morning to make sure that we've got everything we need and make it to the airport on time.
So, I'm packing. The fun part of this comes in when you realize that all of my summer clothes are packed away. I haven't seen my shorts in about a year anyway...
So I'm having to dig through stuff and find everything except tank tops, because I have a ton of those because I love them.
While I'm gone, I probably won't be blogging much. I mean really, would you?
I'm going to try to have a couple of posts scheduled to go up while I'm gone, but I'm not making any promises.
I'm goin on vacation baybee!
Friday, January 15, 2010
That's right, for the low low price of one dollar in that tip jar there on the right you can get the next chapter of Jane.
And I'm so sorry that it took so long to get my act together on this one guys. I'm going to try to get my buffer built back up over the next week or so and get back to putting up a chapter a week. For now, enjoy Chapter Eight!
Remember, the first four chapters are available FREE right over there on the sidebar.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
They're not fascinated. They're worried.
It's so obvious to me now that the dogs are terrified that I'll slip under the water and drown and thus be unable to feed them and pet them and tug on their ears.
I realized this when FarmDog would go from staring mournfully at me to diligently investigating every corner of the bathroom, obviously looking for something edible in case of my demise.
Also, it says something about me (probably something very sad) that I got the most amusement I've gotten in a long while out of watching her when she got a little fluttery bit of toilet paper stuck to her inquisitive nose.
It stuck to her wet nose, she sneezed, it stayed stuck, she shook her head, it stayed stuck, she crossed her eyes at it (I am not kidding) it stayed stuck.
Finally she resorted to snapping at it. Yes. Picture it. It's stuck to her nose and she's snapping at it. Lunging forward trying to catch it unawares.
I almost did slip under the water and drown laughing, watching this. Fortunately Fuzzy Pup wandered in at this point and she wiped it on him like a true sibling does with anything that comes from one's nose.
Then she looked at me like I was a horrible person because I was still chortling and snorting and holding my sides and went to lay just outside the bathroom door, while Fuzzy Pup took up the vigil to make sure that I didn't do something stupid and kill myself in the tub and cut off their supply of treats.
While I'm on the subject what is it about a bath rather than a shower that fascinates animals so? I can shower all day and the dogs care less. Run a bath, and since I'm not pitching their furry butts into it, they're absolutely fascinated and want to stand at the edge of the tub and stare like I'm pulling doggy treats from thin air.
Also... chapter eight is in the works people. As soon as I satisfy my inner diva with a long languid bath and humming sappy country songs to myself while I shave my legs, I'll get back to work on those pesky last few pages and get it up. Tonight, it will be up tonight. Tomorrow at the latest. Unless something horrific happens.
I'm putting up a sign that says "Writing, if there's not blood when you disturb me, there will be."
Which won't do me any good if I can't quit getting fascinated by weird crap on the web.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
It's like me saying there are no more trains.
"But FarmGirl," I hear you say, "The bygone days of riding the range all week and carousing in the saloon all weekend are gone."
True. So is the steam engine, but saying there are no more cowboys because the days of bringing the stock in in a blizzard on horseback are over is like saying there are no more trains because the coal shovelers are out of work.
Cowboys live. They walk amongst us (ok maybe not you) every day. And I'm not talking about the buffed, polished, and shined rodeo boys you see on TV either, although they have their own place in the Cowboy Lexicon.
I'm talking about real cowboys. Stay up all night to nurse a sick calf, cry when his horse gets snake bit, hat wearing, spur jangling cowboys. Men who go out there every day and do a tough damn job for very little thanks or pay.
Men who are, in large part, responsible for your steak making it all the way to your plate.
They're still riding horses, checking fences, sweating and freezing and praying to get their herd through the winter. Sometimes they use the truck or an ATV instead of their trusty old pony, but when it counts, they'll fall back on that four legged partner because two brains are often better than one.
Sometimes they wear ballcaps instead of cowboy hats, but god help you if you touch either one without permission.
They still strap on guns when they leave the house, and usually carry a rifle, in case they run across a coyote. The gun may be a semi-auto and the rifle probably isn't the stereotypical .30-30, but they've got em.
Their jeans are perpetually faded, stained, torn, and frayed at the hem, except for one or two pairs that only get worn for special occasions, like dates or weddings.
They use computers to track their breeding herd and they check the market report on their cell phones, but they're still cowboys.
A cowboy isn't in the costume, and it isn't in the past. What makes a cowboy comes from an abiding love of the land, their critters, and their families. They're often wild, and sometimes they do dumb things, but they're not stupid, and they're a lot of fun.
They're never too tired to help out a neighbor, or a friend.
Cowboys live amongst us today and while they may look different, at the core, they're just the same as those men who rode the lonesome prairie a hundred years ago. They still retain a bit of the romance that their fore bearers are painted with, it's just usually covered in a layer of grime, and you have to look a little deeper.
And anyone who can't see, and respect, the code that those men live by, I feel sorry for. My life is richer for knowing them, their examples have made me a better person.
The world would be a sadder place without them.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
This morning I was pointed to a blog post here that made me do what I don't usually do... jump into an apparently ongoing argument.
Go read the post, then read the comment that I left, which at the time of this posting is awaiting moderation, and tell me, am I wrong to be a bit offended at his assumption that everyone is, or has handy, a large muscular manly man well versed in martial arts and what have you? That my safety is somehow less important than his? Because that's how it came across to me...
Here's my comment, and I did try to be polite:
Sir, as one of those “Radical pro-gun” people, who may be labeled a troll after this comment, I have to ask you a few questions-
How is it a sign of personal weakness that I assess the world in a realistic way? I’m 5′7 and 100lbs or so… no matter what martial arts or self defense classes I take, there is going to be someone out there who can overpower me with sheer muscle.
Does the fact that I consider the subject of my personal safety and carry a gun not because I expect someone to jump me, but because I know, in the realities of our times, that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away make me somehow weak or unfit?
Personally I think that the conscious and deliberate decision to use all tools available to you to protect yourself and your loved ones is a good thing.
I’ve made a choice, a personal decision, that my safety and well being is more important to me than the safety and well being of a person who means me harm.
Is there something wrong with that, in your mind?
I take personal responsibility for my own safety, and that is why I carry a gun. If that makes me weak in your mind, so be it, but I hope you’ll think about what I’ve said before you jump to conclusions about me.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Because I got asked that very question this morning.
First, the best strategy to keep your pipes unfrozen is to leave water trickling overnight. That will keep them open at least a bit so that when you get up in the morning and turn them on you'll have water.
Failing that, when pipes freeze, you need to apply heat. I hear you all saying "Well Duh" but apparently portions of this aren't as clear as they should be.
For instance, if you can't get under the house to the places where the pipes actually froze, all is not lost.
Simply open up under the sink and apply heat there. A space heater works well for this as it's going to take a while and you can just leave it go until you have water. If you can improvise a safe propping method for your heat gun, fantastic.
Why apply heat where the pipes aren't frozen you ask? Because if you heat the pipes inside the house, the heat travels down the pipes via the water and the pipe itself if it's metal (PVC doesn't carry heat as well) and thaw the frozen bits. The further the frozen section of pipe is from your sink, the longer this will take, but it will work.
Be sure and open the tap, because once the water starts running, or even trickling, you're home free. The running water will work a path through the ice and open things up.
So, there's one piece of advice. How about all the other cold-staters? Anyone got a favorite method for thawing frozen pipes or dealing with some other cold-related problem?
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Ma'amIt really brought home to me how the little things can make such a difference when you're so far from home. We've got so many men and women out there who probably wonder, at times, if we here at home remember what they're doing for us.
No need to thank me, reading about people living normal lives kept me sane for a 15 month deployment. So I should be thanking you. Seeing people able to have those freedoms that we gave up to serve reminds me of why I do my job. Good luck with the truck search and thank you.
Regardless of whether you agree with what's been going on, or the timetable for pulling out of Iraq, or anything that they've been ordered to do, the fact remains that they're out there, serving their country. They're out there serving us.
We didn't ask them to, they volunteered.
So when there are such simple ways to make things easier for them, to make them smile, or just to make a crappy day a little bit better, why would anyone refuse?
You don't have to start a blog, either. Organizations such as Soldier's Angels have programs for sending care packages to specific soldiers who have been submitted to their organization. These soldiers may have been submitted by family who can't give their soldier the support that they would like to, or by friends, or fellow soldiers. You can send care packages, or write letters, or just donate some money to the organization to help them with their projects.
There are other organizations out there, like Any Soldier and I'm sure you can find others if you look.
Personally, I signed up for the letter writing team at Soldier's Angels.
Go tell a soldier that you appreciate them, just because you do. We shouldn't save that sort of thing for Veteran's Day.
And to reader Brian- I know I said it already, but again, thank you for your service. And thank you for reminding me that the little, normal, everyday things are sometimes the most important.
*Soldier's Angels and Any Soldier did not provide me with any compensation for this post. So go spit up a rope, FCC.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
Now it's ten years later. It's still not the brave new world that the new millennium was supposed to be. I'll have still more stories to tell my grandchildren. The kind my great grandmother and my grandfather told me, about living through the depression. About living in a time of change, of a fluid sense of the world.
Is our society today that different from that of the people who lived through the stock market crash, the dust bowl? We hear the stories of those who suffered and persevered through those hardships, because they are the ones who made it through. When this economic crisis is over, when the country breathes easy again, will we be, once again, a nation of survivors?
Will we tell stories of those who lost all their material goods, and having nothing else in their lives that they believed were important, took that final leap or that handful of pills?
Will future generations think of us as survivors, pioneers, the ingenious ones who made it work when others were foundering?
Will things get to that point or will it seem so from the perspective of a future time?
So many, many questions. The only answer I know is this: When the time comes and my children and grandchildren ask me about this time in my history, I would like to be able to hold my head high and tell them truthfully that I am proud of the life I lived and that although I made mistakes I learned from them, and they made me better, stronger.
So, my wish for all of you in 2010 is this: May you have joy, and knowledge, and end the year stronger than you began it.