Stormy – Back to Work

Stormy, my 28 year old Thoroughbred, has been retired for many years, since I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now 12.  He gets turned out with Slewy, my 11 year old Thoroughbred.  Slewy keeps him moving.

But recently, Slewy came up lame.  When the vet started talking about possible tendon tears or maybe a fractured point of hip, we were looking at a long layup.  (Slewy is fine – no tendon injuries or fractured anything but that’s another story.)  Which left me with the dilemma of how to keep Stormy  moving around.

So I decided to lunge him.  I was a bit hesitant because Stormy literally has done zero “work” in like 12 years.  But, I put him in the cross-ties and got out his bridle.  (I always lunge my horses in a bridle; they just seem to pay attention better.)

Stormy looked genuinely excited at the sight of his bridle.  He actually took two steps froward towards it, stuck his nose out and opened his mouth right up.  He was always easy to bridle but I was a little surprised at his eagerness.  We went out to the arena and I asked him to move out on a circle.  It was like I lunged him yesterday!

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Stormy!

Doesn’t he look handsome in his bridle?  So now I’ve added him into the rotation of working horses.  I’m lunging him maybe once a week and every time he steps forward and pokes his nose out when he sees his bridle come out of the tack room.

I’m largely letting Stormy dictate what we do.  If he wants to trot or canter a bit more, then I let him.  If he’s done and drops back to the walk, that’s o.k.  Its only been a couple of weeks but I’m already seeing differences.  For example, the first few times, canter was difficult.  And then, yesterday for the first time, he stopped cross-firing at the canter; i.e., he was able to hold the correct lead both in front and behind.

I just laugh with joy to see him step out with his ears pricked happily forward!

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Pasadena Rose Parade – An Insider’s View

Any fans of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade out there?  You know, the big parade that takes place every January 1st!

TofR

I’m a fan!!  And, I’m the Decorations Chair for one of the parade floats.  What exactly does that mean?  That means that its my job to oversee all aspects of float decoration – choosing materials, ordering all those flowers, overseeing the actual decoration of the float, getting us through float judging, and making sure that we’re done on time for the parade.

Besides all of that, I love the parade itself.  I love everything about the parade!!  I love the bands, the horses, the cars, the parade atmosphere, and that its bright and sunny nearly every single January 1!!

I’ve been decorating floats for 30+ years.  So I thought I should add something about it to my blog.  Please comment, ask questions, etc.  I know you fans are out there!

Game On!

I’m on Day 3 of a new get healthy plan.  This one is called “Game On!”.  Its a program which focuses on all aspects of health – diet, sleep, water consumption, exercise, making a new healthy habit and letting go of an old, unhealthy, habit.

Plus, its all done in a friendly competition!

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“Kick your friend’s butt while shrinking your own.”  Ha!  I love that.  The competition goes for 5 weeks.  A friend of mine set it up; she’s done it before.  We have 5 or 6 teams of 4 or 5 people each.  So far, its been great!  Every day, all day, there are a ton of emails that go around offering support, encouragement, tips, what’s working and what’s not.

So far, what’s great about it is that I feel like I have a plan for being healthy every day.  If I need some help or inspiration, there’s about 25 people who are ready and willing to lend a hand.  Plus, there’s the aspect of not wanting to let my team down.

I really need to do something because I weigh more than I ever have before.  I know 138 at 5’4″ isn’t the end of the world but a lot of my clothes are not fitting.  And I just haven’t felt well.  I’m tired a lot; I get out of breath easily.  And that’s not how I want to live.

I know I’m only on Day 3 of 5 weeks but I feel like this just might do the trick!

First Farrier Visit

This morning, Smokey, had his first appointment with my farrier.  He’s clearly had his feet trimmed before but we didn’t know what that experience was like for him.  We can clean his feet but his “pony timer” runs out pretty quickly.  So, instead of trying to do it in the cross-ties, which just make him mad, either my daughter or I hold him while the other does his feet.

I took the morning off of work so I could be here to make sure little Smokey had a good experience.  Not that I have any concerns about my farrier!!  Demetri is very kind, extraordinarily patient, loves horses and truly believes that his job will be far easier in the future if he takes the time to lay a good foundation with a horse and gain the horse’s trust.  But, nonetheless, I thought little Smokey would be comforted if I was here.

It went really well!  He stood fairly still quite a bit.  When the pony timer ran out, we just gave him a little break.  He only tried to lay down once.  He did that the other day with my daughter and I – he was tired of us cleaning his feet so he just laid down! It was pretty funny.

So I’m feeling like that was a big success in little Smokey’s life!

The Residents of Stori Stables

Stori Stables is my own little barn, in my own front yard.  Since I’m going to be writing about them more, I thought I would introduce the residents of Stori Stables!

Stormy:  Stormy is my 28 year old Thoroughbred.  I’ve owned him since he was 3 year olds.  Stormy has congenital loridosis.  In other words, he’s swayback – always has been, but it hasn’t stopped him one bit.  I rode him for many, many years.  In fact, he’s probably the soundest horse I’ve ever owned.  These days he’s retired for the most part.  He gets brushed, fed treats, and generally fussed over.

Slewy:  I bought Slewy nearly straight off the racetrack when he was 4; he’s now 11.  He’s a grandson of Seattle Slew (thus, his name).  Slewy is sweet, kind, has trouble standing still and is in to everything.  He takes his friends’ halters off and is always right next to you, willing to be of any “help” that you might need.

Holly:  Holly is our 4 year old miniature horse.  She’s super cute but her name really should have been “Sassy”.

Stormy, Slewy & Holly

Smokey:  Holly’s half-brother and the newest horse addition to Stori Stables.  Smokey is just 1 year old.  He loves Holly, giving pony kisses, cuddling while taking naps and chewing on your boots.

Holly & Smokey

Smokey chasing big sister, Holly!

Stori Stables also has three resident rabbits:  Cookies, Crumbles and Hammie.  They’re brand new!  Just adopted from the local Humane Society two days ago.

We also have a bunch of chickens (my daughter knows all of their names.  I know is which one is Queen Victoria becasue she’s pretty good about taking a walk on her chicken leash.  And these three are Pouf, Dandelion and Sparkle.

Pouf, Dandelion & Sparkle

And, I can’t forget, Flappy, our mean rooster.  Flappy hatched and was raised in my son’s 1st grade classroom; my son is now a freshman in high school.  Despite being handled literally from birth, Flappy is mean.  But he’s pretty to look at and I actually like his crowing.

That’s everyone!  Well, at least those are the current residents.  Hope you enjoy their stories!

Grape Harvest Night!

In 4 hours, I will have been up for the past 24.  I’m up so late (or so early, depending on how you look at it) because its grape harvest night at our house.

We grow pinot noir grapes.  This year, for the first time, they are going to Truett-Hurst Winery.  Visit their website at http://www.truetthurstwinery.com/  In our part of the grape-growing world, grapes are often harvested at night.  This keeps them cooler during the harvest process and on their road trip to the winery, which means they don’t shrivel and raisin as much.

Harvest has to happen at just the right time, when the grapes have reached their perfect brix, or sugar level.  Its been hard this year because we’ve had crazy weather.  We had 100+ degree heat, then it cooled way down and rained, then the heat came back in force and was quickly followed by rain, thunder, and lightening.  Neither grapes, animals nor people seem to know quite what to make of it.  So I’m just glad to have the grapes off the vine before they shrivel from heat or mold from rain because who knows what weather is coming next!

Harvest night is kind of exciting.  The crew started arriving at about midnight.  We have all the barn and other outside lights on.  This year, they did not bring in large lights, which light up the entire vineyard like its noon.  Each of the crew has a headlamp so they can see the purple grapes in the dark night.  They work fast!  There’s singing and laughing and talking as they move quickly along the rows.  Our grapes are hand-picked so they swish, swish, swish with their knives, grapes go into a bin, when their bin is full, they run it to the waiting large bin on the forklift at the end of the row.  A quick dump of grapes into the big bin and they run back for more.

We have a small vineyard – only a generous 2 acres.  They’ll be out of here in a few hours most likely.  And then, the cycle will start over again with new worries about late frost, early heat, unseasonable rain and a host of other things Mother Nature can throw at us.  But, in the meantime, there’s a glass of pinot noir to be enjoyed.

September 5, 2017

This is like my third attempt at this blog post.  Ugh.

It was going to be about learning to be better to myself.  But it was sounding lame, cliche, and uninteresting.

Its hard to be good to yourself.  I’m not sure why, but it is.  I’m trying.  Today, I sat down at 11:00 and took twenty minutes to eat a lovely peach and some Marin Cheese Co. brie on my back porch.  I love sitting on my back porch, looking out over the vineyard, sipping my coffee.

Twenty minutes just for myself seems so indulgent.  But I’m beginning to understand that its really not.  Just like texting with my friends and posting in my blog is not indulgent.  Neither is taking the dog on a walk or working my horses.

Collapsing at work and having my doctor tell me that I need to follow up with a cardiologist (finally got an appointment) sort of puts things into perspective.  But I’ve been surprised that I’m finding it so hard to be kinder to myself.  I always have wondered about the people who are told, “If you don’t make lifestyle changes, you’re going to die” but fail to change.  And, here I am . . . one of them!!

Its really easy to blame others:  “My husband doesn’t help enough.”;  “My job is too stressful.”;  “I’m so busy with the kids’ activities.”  But, realistically, it comes down to me, myself and I – my choices, my decisions and how I deal with the things life throws at me.

I can talk to my husband about our division of tasks.  I can have my kids help out more and take on more responsibility because they are 12 and 14 years old now.  I can find healthy ways to deal with my job and other stress.  I can take a look at our household schedules and see if it can be managed differently.

And I can stop feeling guilty about 20 minutes on my back porch, drinking good coffee and reading the paper.