Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Borrego Desert

Taken a couple of weeks ago on my visit to Borrego. Ocitillo, barrel cactus & white flowers.

Water Works--the Joke is on ME!

About eight days ago, I saw a nice little pond where there should not be one. It was coming from the valve cover for the valve that shuts off water to the barn. The valves do get old with age and fail. To shut it off, I had to shut off the well, which of course shut off water everywhere. The best part is that my handyman was out of town helping out a family member. So each morning I would turn it all back on, water the horses, and fill up water containers for the house, then shut it all back off again.
Yesterday, Joe was back and came over and dug out the valve cover and surrounding pipe to see what the problem was. Turns out the valve is just fine. The coupling between the valve and the pipeline was cracked. I could have turned off the valve and still had water! OH GOOD GRIEF...

Lesson learned--dig out the problem area myself and see what is going on.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Maggie May Smith

"Wake up Maggie, I think I've got something to say to you. ..." The famous Rod Stewart song of which I still have not tired and of which I know almost by heart the words. It was about twenty years from the song's release to the dog, but it was likely destiny.

So, one day in early spring of 1993, Dave comes home from work to say "Someone in my office has a dog they can't keep any more. She jumps all over their young child and is just wild. Her name is Duchess. And she is a Lab mix." It was the Lab part that did it. Suckers that we were, we said yes.

Dave did a half day that Friday and brought her home. They arrived disheveled--dog, Dave, and the car. Duchess leaped out and was racing madly about, here and there, all directions at once. Dave said she was a nightmare to drive. She whined, she drooled, she jumped, she climbed, she barked and he managed not to crash. She was 40 pounds of pure muscle and energy. Within 30 seconds of observing her, I knew she was not Duchess. No way, no how, no, no, no. She was--wait for it-- Maggie May! The Smith part got added later as that is not exactly the last name of a Duchess.

Maggie was hyperactive, nervous, had ADD, a mile long tongue to lick humans with, never-ending energy, and plenty of affection for us. Much later, her previous owner told Dave that they also got rid of her because before they had her spayed, she had puppies, but she ate them and that made them hate her. Well, ok. She was a much better match with us. We had plenty of land for her to run and chase rodents, no kids for her to jump on, took her on our trail rides to really let her run, the neighbors had a pond for her to cool off in, and we gave her boundaries that she badly needed.

For ten years she entertained us, amused us, at times exasperated us, never gave up trying to lick us, and had only one emergency vet visit.

Yeah--she was a good dog.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Day in the Desert

I don't know how many photos I took as they are still in the camera and not downloaded yet, but I know I took a lot. I drove my favored route through the San Diego County back country and down into Borrego desert yesterday to visit my parents and my sister and her husband who were there for the week. Because the rains were wonderfully timed and abundant this season, the desert was in full bloom. It was the year of the desert dandelion, a mass blooming that my parents had not seen the likes of in their 20 years there. Purple verbena was lush along the road sides. Popcorn flower had its white bloom most everywhere. A few cactus were starting to bloom but most will be blooming later although many octillo had their bright red flowers open. The yellow brittlebush (try saying that fast 3 times!) were blooming in many places. There wer lupine up in Culp Valley and down Coyote Canyon. There were desert poppies and ghost flower up another canyon. And quite a few more whose names I have forgotten. Photos will be coming on this blog once I have a chance to download.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This photo is from last year. With less rain this year, this same bush is not blooming as heavily. Note also the yellow primrose to the right; I have not seen any primrose this year yet. This bush is alongside the dirt road about a mile from home.
I have not had time to write any stories. Maybe this weekend, although this weekend looks full already.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Butterflies, again

The Painted Ladies are flying again. Since the rainfall this season was barely moderate, there are not a lot of them, but certainly enough to be noticeable. I wrote about them a while back in the Samantha and the Butterflies post. As I drive to town and back, I'll see a few at a time every so often on the roads. The butterflies depend on blooming wildflowers for food and the wildflowers are not in abundance this year. Up here and all the way down into Hemet, there is a lot of fiddleneck blooming now. Some of the fillaree is also blooming. A few popcorn flowers are starting and there are the white "belly flowers"--flowers that are so small and so close to the ground that one must lie down on one's stomach to see them. Those are the only herbaceous flowering plants currently. The ceanothus shrubs are also blooming now. West of Sage Road are the lovely blue species. On this side, we have only white flowering ones. I do not remember how many species of native ceanothus, also called California Lilac, there are, but most are blue with only a few species of white flowering ones. As far as cultivated plants, most of the flowering trees are blooming now. Nature is wonderful--less rain means less wildflowers and less butterflies that need the wildflowers.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ray Hunt

Ray Hunt has passed on.
I never met him in person, only saw him on a few videos and read his book. But as many have, I have benefited from his teachings. Of far more importance, my horses and the horses of many others have benefited from his teachings for his work taught the human to better understand the horse and to be able to effectively communicate with the horse.
Ride on Ray--may your light shine on forever.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Overcast Mornings

We have been having lovely overcast mornings lately. That is the barn in the foreground. As usual, there are no horses in it. The horses only go into the barn for rain and Santa Ana winds. The Winds do not bother the horses but when strong enough will blow away their hay before they can eat it.
The trees are just starting to get visible swelling leaf buds.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Autumn Wind and the Arena Lake

These were taken November 1996 when Autumn Wind was 5 months old. There was a good rain with enough to create the arena lake. The colts had a good time playing with the water and the floating cones. After a few days, the water had soaked in and was gone.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Town of Sage

Here it is--the town of Sage! This is the Northeast corner of Benton Rd & Sage Rd. which was the location of the "town" of Sage. This building used to have a gas pump in front of it so was probably a general store of some sort. This photo was taken by my handyman back in 2002. The buildings no longer exist, having been torn down a few years back. I have been told that Sage Road was not paved until late 1950's or early 1960's, which was way after these were built. Benton Road to the west of Sage Rd. was widened, straightened, and paved in the late 1980's. Benton Road to the east of Sage Rd. is still dirt and badly washboarded due to heavy use. Now the four corners of Sage are mostly empty lots with old building foundations still there in their lonely glory.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cool Beans, part 2

For many years, the horses in the back lot went to the barn for meals so they could have individual feed. I would get the stalls ready, open the gate and get out of the way and they would take themselves to the barn and into their stalls. Worked great.
Of course, Snubbers the Dinosaur would take her own route, arriving eventually. So, one fine spring morning, I open the gate and 6 horses go left, 1 dinosaur goes right as usual but this time Beans follows Snubbers. I go on out to the barn and close stall doors but am still missing two and go out looking for them. Over by the clothesline, there is Snubbers grazing on some grass. Beans however is hanging with her but not eating grass. A closer looks shows that he is happily chewing on a t-shirt on the clothesline. He has it way back into his mouth and is blissfully grinding away. There are 3 other t-shirts on the ground around him. He has put holes in all 4 t-shirts! Any normal horse would have been grazing, but Beans preferred the opportunity to chew cloth. What a goof!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stalking as a Hobby

Summer is indulging in his hobby of stalking Hestia. They just passed through the kitchen and are now stalemated in the living room. When he gets too close, she growls at him but keeps moving onwards. Eventually she will stop, sit down and face him. This calls his bluff and he sits down about a foot from her and stares at her while she growls. This can go on for quite a while. Finally, she breaks, leaping at him and batting with her front feet. He just stands there and gets batted until she gives up and runs off. Since he is 18 lbs and she is not quite 8 lbs it resembles a canoe attacking a battleship. I really don't know who wins these encounters but I suspect Summer is the winner as he is not the one who leaves and when she leaves, he just marches right after her again. This can go on for ages until Summer decides he has moved enough for one day and quits. It is good that he has a hobby that makes him exercise.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Flu induced Dialogue with Myself

Having a severe flu is not for wimps; one needs to be strong to get through the darn thing. I spent two days last week with dialogues similar to this.
Since the flu messed with my stomach and I could only eat tiny amounts, I knew I had to eat often, about every 2 hours. Time to eat would come around and I would lie in bed with my better self saying "Get up and eat." My other self would whine "I don't wanna. It's too hard." First self--"GET UP NOW." Second self--"alright alright. I see human feet on the floor and they must be mine since I am the only human around here so I must be up." First self--"Walk into the kitchen and get food." {shuffle shuffle}. Second self--"There, one bit of rice in the bowl." First self--"That is not enough." Second self--"Two bites and that is all I can do." First self--"Fine. Warm it up & eat it. And then drink some water." Second self--"ewww, the water tastes funny. I don't like it. I don't want it." First self--"the flu makes everything taste funny. just drink it already." {sip sip sip}

This went on all day and by that evening I could not stand to look at rice let alone eat it. So, I scrounged in the freezer and came up with a mostly used bag of frozen hash browns thatwais about 100 years old. "Ohh, this is better then rice. " Put some into bowl and microwave it and it is now a glob of gelatinous mush which actually had a bit of taste and went down easy. Both selves were happy now. Later that night, I talked my First self into accepting crackers instead of rice.

Things did get better.