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Archive for the ‘Horses’ Category

I was in the hospital a few weeks ago, recovering from total hip replacement surgery. The nurses and all the staff were wonderful and I was trying to be cooperative as well. I was scared but putting a brave face forward and trying not to be too demanding. And I was also asking questions about their own families and lives.

One of the nurses told me she was from Finland and had married an American. She said she was not entirely happy here because she was pregnant. And she said that in Finland, new moms get a year off when the babe is born. And yes, I looked that up!

Finland offers a very long parental leave to its employees, where starting in 2021, both parents are entitled to parental leave of 164 days each. Parents will be able to transfer 69 days from their own quota to the other parent.

Another long-time nurse was an animal lover who had horses, dogs, cats and other creatures she adored. We shared happy dog and horse stories like old-time good friends.

Then another of my favorite nurses said, “I want to be you when I grow up.” She was not a child of course, but she said that in the most matter-of-fact way.

Finally another long-time nurse wheeled me out to the car at discharge time. And as we left, she said to Bill, “Take care of her because she is precious!”

I have been thinking about those nurses and the things they said and the stories they shared ever since.

“I want to be you when I grow up” is the most unique and unforgettable compliment I have ever received.

What is the greatest compliment you remember?

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Bill and I live on top of a hill with a grand view of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a steep 15 acre slope down which I call The South 40. The South 40 requires “bush hogging.” And when I began to see the forest primeval slowly encroaching I realized we were facing an upkeep challenge.

In the beginning we had two horses (Lucy and Martini). There was also Martini’s friend, Rossi, but he was too wild for us equestrian novices. We were told grazing horses would take care of keeping the grass/weeds down but that was “fake news.”

The horses did love grazing but the grass grew faster than they could chew and soon everything became weeds and trees in an overgrown pasture.

We decided to hire a bush hogger person to keep things trim. That was only successful off and on since not too many people have their own equipment who are willing to risk life and limb to clear our formidable hillside.

Finally Bill bought a John Deere – a big but not the biggest John Deere – so he could mow the slope himself. He had to go straight down to the bottom and then straight back up (no sideways trimming due to the danger of tipping over).

I had visions of Bill lying on the slope with the bush hogger machine on top! Twice a year Bill would do the slope and it would take him four or five days each time to complete the job and that long for me to worriedly chew my nails down too.

Note of interest: Bill was halfway up/down the slope when I ran out to tell him about the 9-11 Disaster. This should give you an idea of how long he has been dedicated to bushhogging our slope.

As Bill grew older – and older, and less interested in risking his own life and limb, a Miracle Man arrived. Dennis came from Texas and said he noticed many folks around here have steep slopes that need trimming. He then bought a special mower that allows him to mow across slopes instead of up and down.

Dennis named his new company Slope Goat!

Dennis the Slope Goat finishes mowing our South 40 in three to four hours instead of days. Now we are duly impressed and looking forward to retiring the big John Deere.

Lest I sound too cynical about our steep incline/decline, the slope has some desirable attributes:

  • There is an old forest and a gurgling stream at the bottom. This is great for horses since they must go down to the bottom to drink and come back up for food (lots of great exercise). The problem is, we outlived our horses who were 28 and 32 and had become longtime lawn ornaments grazing on our parklike slope. Our urge to ride slowly receded when it was too hot, too cold, too buggy or we didn’t feel quite like it.
  • The horses did look beautiful grazing though and our three grandgirls loved pony rides.
  • I used to take walks down to the bottom of the slope (but not for long since it’s a killer huffing and puffing back up).
  • When Elsa-the-dog was new and we turned her loose for the first time, she ran down to the bottom, back up, and down and up again. That was the first and last time she ever tried to make a break for it.

And here we sit, atop our hill. It is 30+ years later as we admire the ever-changing mountain view. But if we look down for a moment at the land, we can see all the way to where we know the stream is. And though we may be a bit too rickety to make our way down there nowadays, the memory is fond.

We smile because we are so happy to have found Slope Goat and hope that Dennis keeps at it through 2021.

Blue Ridge Beautiful

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Twin White Steeds

 

Equine News in the Neighborhood!  

On the bright side, rumor has it our neighbor will be renting his pasture to a horse (the owner will pay the rent of course)!  I had been missing daily stop-by visits with Rosa-the-mare (who sadly was lost due to some equine malady).  A new horsey neighbor will be a grand treat.

Two other horses at different homes developed abscessed feet.  I mean, each horse has one lame foot. They are both on antibiotics, have wrapped hooves, and both have cast off their wrappings and are healing nicely.

I can empathize….  me-of-the-gimpy-foot too.  It’s a neighborhood epidemic!

Bagging a Chicken!

Today I roasted a chicken that came bagged and fully seasoned.  Instructions were to cut a slit to allow for expansion and bake for 2 hours.

Talk about SIMPLE!  And the results were delicious.  I hate to admit that because the bag-less version is to rinse, pat dry, oil, season, and baste.  Maybe this bag thing is positive progress!

Tree Surgeon Mending

Our tree surgeon is also nicely recovering from having a tree fall on him some weeks ago.  Country living is fraught with unexpected danger.

He is the fellow our community hires to trim trees along our road and sometimes to remove trees entirely (those threatening to fall on homes, etc.).  He is always a wonder to watch traversing limbs at dizzying heights.  We are just happy he is on the mend.

New Life in Town

‘Tis a university town (Lexington, Virginia) and school is back!  Our downtown is alive and writhing again (I mean “thriving”).  The kids are back at Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University.  Why is it they look younger every year? And now the local restaurants are packed as families come in to help all the young’uns get settled.

Horrible Harvey

Sending thoughts to my Texas blogger friends who so eloquently describe their own experiences with the monster storm, Harvey.  I am so glad you are high and dry and thank you so much for your perspectives.

It has been an unendurable week for many in Texas but to see how millions are dealing with the aftermath is to understand the value of good neighbors, the ones who become heroes when they themselves least expect it.

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In a quiet moment I was looking around the house.

I noticed a pattern. Do you see it too?

Viola's Horse Pic

Equine-Canine Friendship

Puppy Wall Dishes

Puppy Wall

Us 3 Tigers

Tiger Trio

Jess' Rat

Unidentified Object Made By Granddaughter Jess in Her Earlier Years

Collie Pic

Collie and Friend

Unbronzed Horse

Prancing Horse

Pepper Plaque

Scottie Dog

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our-beautiful-nay-bors-saying-hi-1

There are two white horses down the road from my house.

They rarely come close enough for conversation but today was different.

They whispered with low nickers.

And I whispered back.

Have you ever heard a horse whisper?

I did.

And it was magic!

 

 

 

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Receiving flowers from a friend’s garden.

Thank you Amy!

Zinnias from Amy

Entertaining the perfect guest.

Pichu stayed with us for four whole days!

Pichu 2

Finding a pony at Herman’s Produce.

Was he in a parade?

Horse of Hay

 

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horse-head-49642_640This morning featured a unique Neighborhood Breakfast.

I am not a morning person. Maybe closer to a bear.

I used to get up early to fix bacon and eggs  for Bill, but he was always too sick to eat!  Then he found out  it was me who made him sick and he has made his own breakfast ever since.

Nevertheless, at 8:30 this morning I managed to stagger into the Hunt Lodge where our neighbors were meeting other neighbors, and all with widely divergent interests.  The breakfast was to spread good will and I guess they had no idea about grouchy morning people.

But this is the story of a Buffet Breakfast designed to bring even me around to discovering the joy of connecting in an equestrian community.

Bill and I live in  the middle of a 700 acre tract designed for traditional fox hunting.  The scenery is spectacular and we have always loved  seeing the riders in their pinques (scarlet jackets) and the thrill of seeing them “ride to the hounds.”

They say they never actually catch a fox and I fervently hope that is true, but I diverse.

One of our fellow property owners is a Fox Hunting Club.

As you might expect, the Club’s main interest  is “horsey” and although many of the Hunt people once owned parcels and lived on the land, the Club Members  no longer do live here but now come to ride from far and wide.

The “other Land Owners”  are like Bill and me.  We own a parcel of land we live on and that is partially accessible to the Fox Hunting Club.  

We, the “other” Land Owners, are the people who love horses but  don’t ride in the Hunt.

We oftentimes feel vulnerable to the Club’s hounds, horses and riders who traverse our land.

And we tend to worry about liability.

Over the decades since our equestrian haven was conceived, the Hunt Club and  the other Hunt Landowners  have drifted apart and do not always agree on the use and care of the land or even the roles of each entity.

Enter two dedicated fellows with peace and harmony in mind. One is from the Fox Hunting Club and one from The “Other” Landowners, and these two peacemakers decided to host a Neighborhood Breakfast!

Cook & Dishwasher

They planned the event right down to name tags and provided all the food and drink.  There were home baked scones and biscuits, West Virginia sausage, ham and eggs, beautiful fruits, mimosas and all the coffee we could drink.

Maybe  people were motivated by the yearning for good will, and  maybe they were mellow from all the goodies, but soon there were folks chatting  away and getting to know each other better.

We talked about horses of course.  We used to have two of our own.  

We talked about the way things used to be,

the people we knew who were such assets to the Club and to all who live here,

the beauty of the grounds, the fun and camaraderie.

We talked about “the way we were.”

And the Neighborhood Breakfast Buffet was a big success!

Kudos to Pete and Hugh who hatched this ice-breaking outreach event, and to those of us who participated in spite of morning stupors.

I hope next time we will talk about ways to work together going forward and I hope next time the party will be in the late afternoon.

But, in spite of my bear-like morning persona, I must admit there is something to be said about sharing a lovely breakfast with good people.

Communication must surely be the way to overcome divergent interests so we can all live and let live and enjoy a beautiful world.

Amazing Egg Maker

Amazing Egg Maker

06TailRideJulyBrownJarvis2

Please Come Near (626x460)

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Bert and Friend

Bert and Friend

Good Old Days -Dor, Litle Brother and Cousins

Good Old Days -Dor, Little Brother Steve and Cousins Charlotte and Bert

This is a Random ONE Friday since there was only one momentous event this week.

Bert and his beautiful wife, Rita, came for a visit!

Bert is my “long lost cousin.”

How did so much time go by?

I haven’t seen Bert in about 40 years.

But time stopped this week, and there they were!

And it was as if we were still children, talking, talking, laughing, laughing, and eagerly reliving visits to each others’ homes, silly summers, beaches, feeding the pigeons, and rehashing old family stories.

We didn’t forget Bill of course, but Bill is a wonderful listener.

And we didn’t forget Rita either.  Rita is a wonderful talker.

Buffalo Creek View 1

Buffalo Creek

We went on tour of our rural Virginia neighborhood with a stop to visit a lonesome horse.

And onward we meandered down a country road along the Buffalo Creek.

It was a one lane road with the creek on one side and steep cliff walls on the other.

Rita and a Lonesome Horse

Rita and a Lonesome Horse

And then it was off to downtown Lexington, Virginia to the old Robert E. Lee Hotel.

The old girl is now upscale and POSH (not me – the hotel).   It was a rundown place before but has recently been restored to modern day glamour.

There are New York style revolving doors at the entrance and the only thing missing is a doorman! And in the lobby are original recessed telephone booths to retain the historical flavor of the place.

Robert E Lee Hotel

Photo of Robert E. Lee Hotel by http://www.expedia.com

There is also a jewelry store in town (Hess & Co.) in a rennovated building that was once a bank.  I often take folks there to see the old thick vaults from the good old days.  Above the vaults at ceiling level, are little inside windows.  Bank guards used to sit behind those windows with rifles pointed and ready to shoot at potential robbers!

Can you see the ceiling-high windows in the back?  I love it that Hess is not only a wonderful jewelry store in the middle of Lexington, Virginia, it is also a historical fixture.

Hess n Co

Anyway, there just wasn’t enough time to see all there is to see and do in my part of the world, but the visit was fast (maybe too fast) and so much fun.

And that’s my Random One.  And it was all about my long lost cousin!

Notes: 

The Robert E. Lee Hotel is a six-story luxury hotelbuilt in 1926 in Lexington, Va. The recently restored classic hotel has thirty-nine guest rooms,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is Photo Story #4 for the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge.  The rules are to post a photo a day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo.  It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph.  Oh yes,  and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.  Today I nominate Ana of Celebrating Sunshine, who has a blog that shines with a truly happy outlook on life. 

A Walk on the Wild Side - Our Forest

Beyond my home there is a forest glen

where hoof prints and purple shadows

 line a path of dappled shade and sun

deep with a woodland reverie.

Come upon a rustic bench for resting

a place where you can think unfurled.

Sit there,

where you can hear the world.

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Horse Hat Rack 1A

This is Photo Story #3 for the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge.  The rules are to post a photo a day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo.  It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph.  Oh yes,  and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.  Today I nominate Eliza Waters who once sent me a surprise gift.  Thank you again Eliza.

There is a strange tradition in my family.  We do not send gifts at expected times.  And we only send peculiar, laughter producing, or  perfect things calculated to insert the element of awe into our lives.

One of those awesome surprise gifts came yesterday.  It was in a giant box that weighed heavily and was filled with a whole lot of bubble wrap.

There is just no describing the heart-quickening excitement that comes from opening an unexpected mysterious package.

The return address was not familiar.  A secret admirer maybe?  One never loses hope even into extreme maturity.

We had not ordered anything, so I must say I was puzzled.  Could this be a mistaken delivery of gold bullion from Fort Knox?

Aha!  It is a Coat/Hat Rack – but not just any old hat rack.  And then I guessed who sent it.

This is another one of those delightfully unexpected, unconventional, perfect gifts from my brother and sister-in-law!

  • The four horses fit right in since we live in a rural area of Virginia devoted to equestrian activities.
  • The steeds are all looking back as if to say, “Happy Days are Here Again.”  That’s an old song.  Do you know it?
  •  We are a family of dedicated travelling companions and enjoy each others’ company, so the plaque symbolizes all of us together and “on the road again.”
  • There is only one fair person in our human group and there is only one fair horse in the hat rack.
  • The four horses and their “business ends” perfectly represent my fun-loving brother who is famous for taking pictures of the back sides of all varieties of living things.
  • And in the end  (pun intended), this perfect gift is a happy reminder of love and the importance of family.

There is something to be said for giving unconventional gifts at non-traditional times of the year.

Thank you Steve and Viv!  I am not disappointed (well, maybe sort of) there were no gold bars in this package and Bill and I both love the hat rack!

And we can’t wait to see you both again as we ride fly off together into the sunset.

 

Notes:

Although I was born long after 1932, I do know that the song, “Happy Days Are Here Again” was Franklin Roosevelt’s selection for a campaign song that debuted during the 1932 Democratic Convention.  He was the first President to choose a pre-existing song for a campaign and it became the Democratic Party unofficial theme song for years to come.  

“On the Road Again” is a song made famous by country music  singer Willie Nelson and was one of his most recognizable tunes.

For some reason, I am into quoting old songs for blog posts.  

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