Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Horses, Oh My! – Part 2 (45th Anniversary)

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Leaning to let "Texas" drink

 Note – I’m not slumped in the saddle; Texas needed a drink!  Look at my right hand, and you can (barely) see that I was using an extremely short rein.


It doesn’t seem possible to me that we are are old enough to be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary, but we are!

My husband, Tom,  gave me a fabulous anniversary present this weekend! Not just a leisurely drive through the beautiful Texas Hill Country (still lush and green despite the ongoing drought)  and some shopping/browsing. Not just dinner-for-two and a relaxed over-night stay at an inn in historic Kerrville, TX.  He gave me the fulfillment of a long-held wish; to go horse-back riding again after many, many years!

By booking a two-hour trail ride for us at the Silver Spur Ranch ( in Bandera, Texas (through  the quiet meadows and often rough, rocky and  challenging terrain of the Hill Country State Natural Area,  he also showed his faith in me.  He showed me that he believed in my ability to still control a powerful  (and somewhat opinionated) 1,200 and “see the course through”.  He gave me much more than he planned; he gave me back my confidence in that ability and allowed me to prove that this was something 30+ years of severe Rheumatoid Arthritis had not taken away from me!  Sure, I walked rather oddly for a few minutes after dismounting, but so did he >grin<!

We arrived at the ranch promptly at 9am (slowing several times on the ranch road to allow an abundance of cottontails and jackrabbits to zip across)  to fill out the required health disclosures and liability waivers. “What is your riding skill level?”  I started to check ‘Experienced’ and thought,”Um, Chris, that was 45-46 years ago! ” Settled for ‘Advanced Beginner’.  “Any medical conditions which could affect your ability to complete the ride?”  Well Yes, actually several, but none I was going to let stop me from trying!  Check mark on the “No”!  After we took a short detour through the small but well-stocked gift shop (and I found a t-shirt I wanted to purchase after the trail ride ), we made our way down to the corral for a short riding ettiquette briefing (while we watched geese,  burros and a ranch dog amble through the corral and out the open gate), and then our wrangler (also a Tom) began matching up horses to riders.  (The ranch has a herd of  30 well-trained horses, and the wranglers take the matching-process seriously.)

Approximately 45 seconds before I climbed up to the mounting dock (much appreciated, as I estimate my horse was somewhere near 15.2 hands tall), my legs suddenly went sliff and very uncooperative!    I suspect that rather small portion of my brain which is reasonable and sensible surfaced long enough to scream “What on earth do you think you’re doing?” Note:  When stiff-legged, it is a bit of a challenge to act nonchalant while slipping an orthopedic shoe into the left  stirrup and attempting to sling your right leg over the horse and saddle. . . never mind capturing the right stirrup before you suffer the indignity of having the wrangler stroll over and shove your right shoe into it!  (No, he didn’t – I accomplished the “feat” on my own 😉

Others were still being matched to their mounts, so I manuvered “Texas” out of the way. He seemed interested in what I assumed was a  feed box mounted on a nearby rail, so I indulged him.  However, he wasn’t after food, he was after mischief; when he grabbed a piece of tack (a bridle)  out of the box and cheerfully flung it several feet away, we had our first discussion about appropriate behavior!  He wasn’t pleased to have his playtime interrupted, but I won the debate.

Tom was matched with “Winchester”, another sleek and handsome mount.  We soon learned that he should have been named either “Pistol” or “Glutton” – more about that later!  The wrangler lined us up. . . . youngest rider directly behind him, a couple of ranch guests, Tom on Winchester and myself bringing up the rear; it seems Texas doesn’t like anyone coming up too close behind him.  The Appaloosa directly in front of Tom’s mount had the same dislike (LOL!)

During the short portion of our ride which took us off of the Silver Spur Ranch and onto the Hill Country State Natural Area, I had my horse figured as a “plug” and assumed I would spend the entire two hours trying to urge him to keep up with the pack ~ I was wrong.  As soon as we entered the Park,  he decided we were too far from the group and should shorten the distance . . .quickly!  Well, alright then – this might be more than a slow walk through a very scenic portion of the Hill Country after all!  That is also when I realized I could indulge in a small “experiment”  (exactly the sort of behavior Tom meant to curtail by booking a trail ride -LOL!)  I held Texas to a slow walk, waited for a suitable gap to occur between myself and Tom’s horse, then kicked Texas into a canter and snuck in a short burst of speed before I had to rein him in to avoid a collision with Tom’s Winchester. It took a fair amount of “kicking” to get Texas moving, but I soon realized that a quick  flick of the reins brought immediate results.

That tactic worked rather well throughout the ride, but Winchester made the ‘stolen thrill moments’ a bit dicey.  Winchester began to display his belief that the entire ride was actually a “salad bar” set out just for his personal enjoyment!  He would drop his head and stop suddenly to munch on any inviting tufts of grass.  Horses have very strong necks  (and Winchester had a strong will) — – -once his head was down, even Tom standing in his stirrups and hauling back on the reins would not stop “Win” until he had a suitable mouthful!  (Tom’s left hand and his shoulders are sore now, and will be more so tomorrow!)  Once in awhile, Winchester would stop for another snack just as I put Texas at a canter, requiring me to pull back on the reins rather firmly, too! Hehe.

Some of the ride was uphill or down over loose, slippery shale and sharp rocks.  I am convinced that the wranglers use an alternate route if there is a rank beginner in the group, as those areas required a mix of 90% trusting the horse to pick the best route and 10% “No Way, Jose.  We’re going to try over here!”  Those areas also reminded me that it is difficult to use the reins for guidance while leaning back (or far forward)  in the saddle to maintain one’s  balance!  Those who know me (and my “luck”)  well will understand that those were also the ones I was most likely to tumble off into:)

Tom’s mount got skittish when we were stopped for a moment and there was a bit of noise under a nearby bush.  He handled Winchester beautifully, but it he was busy getting his horse under control. Busy, while Texas decided to rear, twist to the right and try to run in another direction!  Our wrangler (and half of the group) were out of sight, around a stand of trees, so my loud “Whoa!” as I tried to control Texas was their only cue there might be a problem.  It is amazing how fast long-unused instincts kick in!  Before Texas’ front hooves touched the ground,  I was reining him sharply to the left and trying to stop his ‘flight’. . . . and it worked!  Somehow, digging my feet hard into the stirrups and leaning kept me firmly in the saddle, while I had no time to think about either.  (Yes, I am feeling a bit smug about that.)  He only tried one other “You’re not the boss” move during the ride, and coping with that one on my own felt great, too!

Being a State Naatural Area, the trails aren’t cleared of small bushes, encroaching trees, big rocks, etc. – they’re left, well, natural.  That is why wranglers wear chaps (leather leggings) and long-sleeved shirts, even in the summer heat.  That’s why Tom and I wore long-sleeved shirts and our battered old Stetsons.  We did a bit of ducking, leaning and putting our heads down so that our hats took the brunt of passing leaves and branches. We also forced a few course corrections when we could see the vegetation our mounts were planning to haul us through. . . .except there wasn’t always a handy alternative 🙂  Winchester dragged Tom’s upper arm against a solid branch, so he had a bloody mark on his sleeve when we returned to the ranch;  I was too busy fending off tree branches to my left to notice  the one to my right. . . . it knicked a tiny hole in my elbow and then caught in the lace insert on the front of my blouse and ripped a good sized hole open. Until we got to a clearing, I didn’t know what sort of a “wardrobe malfunction” had occured!  The tear was low on the front portion of the blouse, so I didn’t have to borrow Tom’s shirt for modesty’s sake.  (I did buy that shirt I wanted, though, as my right sleeve was rather blood-soaked  by the time we returned to the ranch!)  As I texted our kids when we got back to our car, “Safe, sound & exhilerated, with just the right number of scrapes and bruises – LOL!”

All in all, a wonderful weekend!  Thank you and Happy 45th Anniversary, Tom



“Pixie Dust”, Studio Time & Horses, Oh My!

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Big Grin – If my poor neglected blog had any readers, that title might catch their attention! LOL!

Somehow, there truly does seem to be “pixie dust” or some other magic element in the air!  I place in evidence the quarter-scale (1/4″ = 1′) New Orleans/French Quarter Balcony Vignette  at right; a kit created by Braxton Payne which had been languishing in my “Smaller Scales” storage bin for ages.  My RA damaged hands usually confine me to  larger (one-twelfth scale) projects, where 1″ = 1′; even then, some of the pieces are quite small and have a frustrating habit of  launching out of my tweezers into thin air! This was completed on July 5th, 2012 and is now on display. . . . . Finally!  Actually, it is my  third small-scale success within the past 30 days; the only plausible explanation is that I have lost my few remaining marbles!


Tiny Paper Village

This paper village is one of the projects I packed in my ” recovery busy box”  just before my surgery on March 29th. Please don’t ask me how I planned to get all of the tiny pieces cut,  assembled and mounted on the base while confined to bed ~ I obviously wasn’t thinking too clearly!  However, when I began to feel better (and mobile enough to venture upstairs to my studio/disaster area), I determined that A) It is ridiculously small, and 2) It was going to be completed somehow.  Not sure of the scale, but the US dime at the right of the village will give you an idea of just how nutty I am 😀   Work was started on this in mid-June and finished in early July 2012.  This was adventure #1. (Yes, the church bell tower is leaning rather precariously, isn’t it?!)





After completing the village, I took a deep breath and delved deeper into the Smaller Scales bin and unearthed  this 144th” scale Japanese Tea House. It is a beautifully compiled kit by Susan Karatjas    Most of the components are 1/16th” or 1/32nd”  stock. . .if they are pinched too firmly with tweezers, they either  snap in two or disappear entirely! There are several flaws in the construction of my Tea House, but I am quite proud of it. Completed July 2nd, 2012.


The mysterious powers of pixie dust still seem to be active; my current project is an English Span Green House (kit by  The scale? Quarter-scale, again! The structure has been fully glazed(“glassed”) and constructed, but I won’t post pictures until it is properly landscaped and the plant trays have seedlings in them. BTW – the small plant trays measure 5/16″ x 1/4″ and the large plant trays measure 1/2′ x 3/8″ !

Horses? Oh, yes, I did mention horses, didn’t I? In my preteen and teen years, I loved horseback riding. At every opportunity, I would exercise a friend’s horse or resort to a young rent-a-horse with some spunk still left in it. Young and still feeling invulnerable, I rode alone, jumped fences (sometimes clearing the fence while the horse stayed behind!), rode full-out when prudence would have suggested a canter, and enjoyed every minute
of it! Marriage, multiple moves, children and careers shifted any indulgence in that pastime into the “Yeah, someday” category. . . . . and then
Rheumatoid Arthritis moved the wish into the category of fond dreams. Or did it? I have wistfully mentioned wanting to ride – – – sometimes (as a gesture of defiance against the RA, most likely, I have threatened to “go find ahorse to ride”. Well, it’s going to happen!! For our 45th wedding
anniversary, my husband has made reservations for a two-hour trail ride in Bandera, Texas on July 22nd! This is incredibly sweet of him on so many
different levels. He has ridden horses before, but I seriously doubt that he misses a repeat of the experience. He knows he’s going to be sore as hell
afterwards. He also knows that this is probably the most foolish activity I could undertake and that every part of my body will  extract a fee afterwards (making me rather poor company for awhile) . . . but he knows how much I want to try! Oh wow!

A Princess No More :(

Monday, June 25th, 2012

But then, I never truly was one , was I?

Still, when a huge part of my on-line life was suddenly stripped away ; when my contact with  people who are loving and supportive as well as creative ,imaginative,  playful  and encouraging abruptly disappeared, it left an aching hole in my heart!  These are people I may/may not have ever met in person, but I know their likes & dislikes, the names of their children and pets and what troubles them and pleases them.  They have unique personalities (some are chatty, others prefer to sit quietly and observe), and all of us have felt we were part of a very special, cohesive  group.  We Were!  We loved each other and cared about each other, understood when one of us was feeling lonely and ignored by RL (Real Life) loved ones or overwhelmed by RL problems!

When I was invited into GSOLFOT  (“Green Sock on Left Foot on Tuesday”. . . . . .it’s a long story!), there were “too many royal titles already granted”, so I adopted the title of  “GSOLFOT Contessa of Useful Bits, Bobs & Specks & Protector of the Roof Runners #%Z P.I., Office # 17″.  (Dashing my hopes of being a princess, but sounding rather lady-like.) Some members had much grander,more  elaborate titles and others had simpler ones, but we all had a wonderful time in our fantasy world (we adopted Neuschwanstein Castle as our ‘virtual clubhouse’!)  We shared miniatures we were creating , construction obstacles we encountered, workshops/studios we were attempting to carve out space for in our real homes,  and supported each other through serious illnesses, surgeries, chemo, loss of pets and deaths of spouses.  We also found time to see to the proper training of our pet dragons, made sure the various cats, raccoons & parrots (including my”Chunk”, aptly named after he took a good-sized bite out of a roving intruder) were well fed and cared for.  We had fun,  teased each other unmercifully, and were saddened when any one of us was sad.

There has been an ominous, troubling silence from the leader of this madcap Yahoo group (and owner of our web site “home”) for several months now, but none of us expected what we read when we turned on our computers this morning.  Just a tersely worded message saying “All over – all done.” No goodbye to those of us who thought we were her friends, no explanation – nothing. The web site is gone.  Suddenly, we are  adrift and alone, our titles stripped and the castle gate barred against us 🙁





Talkin' Trash

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Well the title got your attention, anyway:)

As I was leaving our house to run errands and buy a few things I’ll need when I teach my class on Saturday, I noticed the big “automated trash pick-up” containers being distributed in my neighborhood. I hoped we would receive our *very own set* of 96 gallon containers (brown for trash and blue for all recyclables), but held the pessimistic view that they would run out of containers before reaching our street. Delivery of *any* goods or services can be a bit slow in Texas ~ it’s something about that ‘Southern cadence’ . . . I was introduced to that phenomenon in Athens, Georgia in 1968, and it truly hasn’t changed very much in forty years:)

Happily, when I returned from my errands , we had our set of blue and brown trash receptacles! Having completed my ‘all over the city’ trek, we also had a new single-throw light switch (the fan and overhead light in my “Tower” refused to function this morning), seed blocks for ‘the Blackburn birds’ (a pair or two of blue jays, many cardinals, lots of sparrows, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice white-winged and Inca doves), super glue & waxed paper for my class and 17 miniature pie plates (destined to become planters for my class, since my original plan/on-line order hasn’t arrived yet!)

96 gallon trash receptacles are BIG- – – – -going to have to do some juggling of garage space!

I'm walking again!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

O.K., it’s ‘shuffling along, carefully’, not ‘dancing’. . . . . .but then, I never have been able to dance well 🙂 I’m taking it slow and easy, relying on post op boots and my spiffy red Rollator for support. It doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, but it is exhausting! Right now, I’m limiting myself to three trips per day (bedroom to family room) before I request wheelchair help. I’ll have to work hard to get my strength back, once the surgeon approves me for more exertion!

Sorry I haven’t posted anything here since my surgery; I made a small tactical error when I assumed I would only be off-line while I was hospitalized. Each day, looking at my computer keyboard has been enough to make me want to take (another) nap. I’ve got zero energy!

In brief: Oct. 30th – my surgeon arrived in the pre-op area On Crutches!! Nope, he wasn’t teasing me; he’d had a welding accident! I opted for local anesthetic, and it worked beautifully. My surgeon told DH that he had encountered more work than he expected; there were quite a few Rheumatoid nodules present…..some of them quite large!

Oct. 31st – Yep, the pain level is about what I expected ~ pronounced (especially in the left foot), but not unbearable. The nurses are friendly and attentive, and they’re prompt with the meds my Doc approved. For someone who’s only scooting around a bit on a mattress, I sure am tired!

I was supposed to go home today, but no such luck. While taking my stats for the discharge paper-work, they discovered I was running a 103 degree fever. Hmmm, nope. . . . .not going home with that reading! At least they let me stay in my roomy, gray bell-bottoms and Casper, the Friendly Ghost T-shirt, instead of another (shudder) horrid “gown”! There’s no infection causing the fever; too many years of smoking/not enough months of healing & self-cleaning are the culprits. I need to stay hydrated, use the inhaler and breathing exerciser they handed me and cough the junk out of my lungs.

Nov. 1st – The nurses dutifully cruised into my room and did my stats throughout the night. The fever began to abate, my oxygen saturation improved a little bit (I’ll need to keep working on that), and I received a green light from the Doc after breakfast. Getting from the wheelchair into Tom’s Mustang GT was not a pretty sight! The nurse asked if I was going to ride in the back seat – – – -positive proof that he’d never attempted the contortions required to get oneself into said seat! LOL! We had the expert advice and guidance of our next-door neighbor when we tried to remove from the car here at home. (Invaluable advice – she’s a senior ER nurse at Brook Army Medical Institute (?) I think.)

Nov. 2nd – Doing only necessary moving around and spending 99.5 of my time with my feet elevated to prevent swelling. I picked up my Kindle & tried to read; couldn’t concentrate at all! Couldn’t follow the action on TV or think of words to type into my blog, either. Did a lot of napping 🙂

Nov. 3rd – See Nov. 2nd 🙂

Nov. 4th – Decided it was time to conduct a small expiriment. Could I move about, just a little bit, with the help of the post-op boots and Rolator? Yes!! As I mentioned earlier, I’m not doing a LOT of it; but I got to watch the election results come in on our big-screen TV. (Love the “Smart Boards” the news commentators use now! With limited walking comes loads of fatigue. . . .I napped off & on during the evening.

Nov. 5th – Did a bit more shuffling around, sewed a few mini yo-yo’s, got some more bad news from DS, and finally got this entry written!

75/365 Miss Sara's first birthday!

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

The birthday girl with “Grandmeow”

Sara’s first birthday was celebrated at a park near her home, with both sets of grandparents, lots of aunts & uncles and a host of cousins. We all had a great time (especially Sara, when she was allowed to grab a handful of her birthday cake! LOL!)

The weather was clear and sunny, with enough of a breeze to keep us cool. That breeze is the reason Sara & I are both sporting the “wind-swept look” in hairdos;)

27/365 An Ah-Hah Moment

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Now that Grand-Daughter Sara is becoming very mobile, our family room coffee table is becoming very dangerous! It has too many wrought-iron curlicues to crawl into, sit up under or bang little knees on. I know DD doesn’t want us going out and buying a new table, but I really hate having to restrict the little one’s play-and-explore area. She ought to be able to crawl over and see what the adults are doing without one of them whisking her back to her play-mat!

Last night, I had an Ah-Hah moment! We’ve had a huge 49″ high, 30 ” wide, 30″ deep, old-fashioned steamer trunk (the virtually indestructible kind with several drawers on one side and a generously sized hanging rod on the other) for many years. (Think “Joe & The Volcano”, without the pricy leather.) It has held miniature-making supplies, sewing patterns and fabric . . .just about everything. For the past several years, it has been a part of the odd “decor” in our living room, sitting half-open between our dentist & barber chairs. What if I close it up, turn it on its side and move it into place where the wrought-iron menace is now?

DH & I settled it onto the area rug – it sits kind of high (30″), but we can still put our feet up and see the TV over it:) Best yet, Sara will now be able to crawl all the way around it, come see what the grown-ups are eating (she loves “real food”) and enjoy some freedom of movement!