So . . . Its been a long time

Yet again, its been a super long time since I’ve posted . . . in either of my blogs.  

And I started my other blog, Setting Stori Free, with such good intentions.

Sigh.

I don’t like to write when anyone is home.  And . . . my kids are home all the time now!  Thanks, Covid.  Its hard to find a few minutes when they’re both “in class” and I can write.

Its been so long since I posted that WordPress has this new editor thing that I don’t really know how to use.  

Sigh.  How do I insert photos?

A quick update on the farm:

The minis, Holly and Smokey, are good.

My horse, Slewy, probably will never be rideable again due to his neurological issues.

Ghostie, my daughter’s horse, is recovering from a torn tendon.  He was looking good but he’s back to being a bit more off the past couple of days.

Stormy, the old guy, is good.

Yes the air quality has been sucky.  But yesterday I saw what looked like a hint of blue sky!  Yay!

Last Wednesday the whole world was truly apocalyptic looking.  (I now know how to spell apocalyptic.) Yes, we had a fire nearby.  No, we didn’t have to evacuate.  We were a half-block out of the evacuation warning zone.  Yay!

Wait.  All my text is in one block now?  And apparently I can’t insert an image into the middle of the text block?  Oh geez.  Well, then you aren’t going to get a photo of each horse.  But, here are a couple of photos from last Wednesday’s apocalypse.

This is Ghostie out in the arena. No filters or anything on the photo, it was just that orange! The photo doesn’t really do it justice.
That’s the back of my barn taken from the arena. It was 9:30 in the morning and I had the lights on!

Hey, I figured out how to go back to typing!  Ok, so this is going to take some learning.

Tater, our goat (who I think was fairly new to us last time I posted) is great!

Here’s Tater meeting Slewy on his first day with us.

O.k., I think I’m getting this!

And, finally, I rescued a pig.  Mildred really needs a post all of her own but here’s a picture to end with.

A Long Two Months

Its been a long two months at Stori Stable.  Since the end of May, we’ve just been bouncing from one illness or injury to another among the lovely residents.  No one is riding; no one is having fun.  I guess the only positive is that I’ve spent more time in my barn on a daily basis than I have in a very, very long time.

My lovely horse, Slewy, was the first problem.

20200417_174722  In late May, he was looking “off” – not moving quite right in the hind.  That turned into a full-blown neurological episode.  He walked like he was extremely drunk and had no idea where his feet were.  We tested for EPM (equine protozoal myloencephalitis – I think that’s correct spelling), Lyme, Vitamin E / Selenium deficiency – and considered a bunch of other things.  None of his tests came back particularly conclusive and his symptoms didn’t clearly point to any one thing.

After lots and lots of medications (so many that he stopped eating for awhile – I think the “cure” was becoming worse than the disease), he’s doing better.  EPM is our best guess at this point; although, Lyme would explain many of his lifelong symptoms of shifting leg lameness, behavior changes, and other “quirks” like skin sensitivity.

I just want to take a minute and say that EPM is a horrible, horrible disease.  We lost the kids’ first pony to it several years ago.  Treatment is super expensive and does not come with any guaranteed results.  And, horses can relapse.  It strikes dread into my heart.  More on exactly what EPM is another day.

Slewy’s walking is close to normal most of the time and he’s back his normal, inquisitive, happy self.  Now we’re trying to get his various sores to heal.  He really cut himself up when he couldn’t walk and, since he was so unstable on his feet, we couldn’t get close to him to treat them right away.  We’re also trying to get his right hind to stop swelling randomly.  Vet ultrasounded it last week and saw a lot of fluid but no tears in the tendons or anything super bad.  That’s good but what exactly is going on with him is anyone’s guess.

Then, there’s Stormy, my old guy.

20200408_152359  Last October, when we evacuated the horses to the fairgrounds for the Kincade Fire, Stormy came home with a cut on the outside of his right hind fetlock.   (Fetlock – think ankle on a person).  It looked like just a cut and I treated it but didn’t think much of it.  Even when it didn’t heal super nicely, I didn’t worry too much.  The horse is 31, after all.

And then, suddenly one day, his entire fetlock was swollen to twice its normal size and the “cut” looked nasty.  Of course, it was in the evening so having the vet out would have meant paying for an emergency call.  Ugh.

As we were standing around, debating what to do, my daughter (who wants to be a horse vet and spends one day a week with our vet) says, “I’m going to poke it!”  “Ok”, I said, thinking that was as good a first step as any.

She poked and a ton of pus and other yuck came flying out.  Ok . . . good?  Yeah, I’m thinking that was the way to go.

The vet eventually came out and x-rayed it to make sure there wasn’t some foreign object in there, some bone involvement, or something else going on.  X-rays said all was clear so we set out on a course of irrigating it and wrapping it daily.  He’s looking good.

Next up?  Smokey!  The 4 year old mini.

20200723_094739  He seemed “off” one day . . . lethargic, depressed, and not at all himself.  We tested for . . . EPM!  And started him on EPM medication right away.  Early treatment is key if treatment is going to help at all.  Results?  Inconclusive!  Because we think his blood might have gotten mixed up with Ghostie (my daughter’s horse – we tested him too) at the vet or the lab.

Thankfully, we caught it super early, treatment worked and Smokey is back to his ADD self.

And then . . . Ghostie!  (I’m telling you . . . its truly been never-ending.) 20200721_093536  You may recall that Ghostie was a rescue (have I written Ghostie’s story here?  I don’t remember.)  My daughter has spent a year working with him . . . nurturing him back to health, gaining his trust, learning his quirks.  They had just gotten to riding consistently and were really making progress.  She had had two lessons with her trainer on him.  All her hard work was paying off.

And then . . . he tore his lateral extensor tendon (again, think outside of your ankle).  Best case scenario . . . 3 months off.  No riding.  No turn-out.  No . . . nothing except a very few minutes of hand-walking (leading your horse around) twice a day and icing.  That’s his “icing boot” on his hind leg.

Unbelievable.

Finally . . . back to Slewy.  The angry looking growth on the tip of his penis (I’ll spare you the photos) is “summer sore”, where flies lay their eggs and cause . . . well, an angry looking growth.  Thankfully, its pretty easily treated with an ointment and he’s really cooperative about letting me smear it on twice a day.

So, there.  That’s the update.  No riding.  No fun.  But lots of time in the barn for morning and evening therapy / treatment / re-wrapping of various owies.

I.  Love. My. Horses.

Today is the Day: Lesson #1

In a couple of hours my daughter’s riding instructor is coming to give her and her horse their first lesson.  I’m nervous.  And excited.  We bought Ghostie to be my daughter’s first horse (besides the minis) almost a year ago.  He was a wreck.  Our trainer hated him.  She actually told my daughter that when she went to pick him up for us.  She said, “This is absolutely not the horse you need.  I have no idea what your Mom is thinking.”

Nice, right?

I’ll admit that I went out on a limb with Ghost.  He was a rescue and he was in sorry shape.  He was a solid 300 pounds underweight with cuts and sores all over his body.  I rode him and my daughter rode him for like 5 minutes because that was about all he could handle.  But he seemed sweet and kind.  At the end of our first meeting, he rested his tired head on my daughter, closed his eyes and sighed.  Sold!

We’ve spent the past year working with him, letting him rest, letting him settle in, gaining his trust, and learning his quirks.  We’ve overcome a few vet issues.  He’s gained weight, his coat is shiny and he adores my daughter, as she does him.

So, today is the day!  Our trainer is coming to give them their first lesson.  I’d be thrilled if she said something like, “O.k., you were right”.  But, really, I’m just hoping she’s a bit more positive about him.

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Isn’t he cute?

I’m probably placing too much emphasis on today’s lesson.  I’ve built it up in my head to be a referendum on my horse . . . I don’t know . . . ability? knowledge?  Something.  Here’s why . . .

I’ve ridden horses since I was 9 and have owned horses since I was 14.  I have a bachelor’s degree in Equine Science.  I was a confident rider and horse owner.  I thought I knew a fair amount about horses.

Then, right before graduating from college, getting married and moving back to my home state, I lost my heart horse.  He went suddenly.  I was devastated.  He was supposed to  move back home with me.  We were going to buy a house where I could have him at home and see him every morning outside my window.  I even had another horse at the time (whom I still own, that’s Stormy, my old guy) but I was utterly lost.

We moved and bought a piece of property where I could have Stormy.  I rode Stormy for years.  When Stormy retired from being ridden, I bought Smitty.  Smitty was a total nightmare.  He had “Sudden Explosive Disorder” (I made that up) or something.

Next I bought Nikki.  Nikki was gorgeous but absolutely the wrong match.  I have a two inch scar across the back of my right hand to remind me of that.

Next up was Slewy.  I bought Slewy as a 4 year old, pretty much right off the race track.  He’s a handful.  I’ve owned him for years now and have never really gotten around to riding him.  Just when I was finally making progress these past few months (after like 12 years), he came down with a acute neurological issue at the end of May.  We really thought we were going to have to put him down. Many, many weeks of worry later, thousands of dollars in vet bills and still unclear diagnoses, he’s improving and is nearly recovered but I don’t know if he’s rideable.

Somewhere along the line we bought Flicka for the kids.  Flicka was a fantastic pony.  The kids loved her.  We had her for many years and then, when my daughter was in 5th grade and my son in 7th, Flicka got sick and we lost her despite our vets’ heroic efforts to save her.  We were all crushed.  I have been left wondering if I missed her illness early on.

So, my horse record over the past 10 years or so has not been fantastic to say the least.  I’ve really lost all of my confidence in my ability to ride and keep horses.

And then I bought Ghost based on my gut feeling and faith.  Ghost – a wretch of a horse.  What on earth was I thinking?

Well, today we’ll find out.

New Blog! New Goat!

I’ve been absent for a few weeks because I’ve been working on my new blog.  It took forever to get it up because I’m so non-techy and honestly, find WordPress really hard to use.  (I think my last post here was about my abject frustration trying to get my new blog up.)  But, the WordPress expert folks were really helpful and patient.

So, with that . . . I would love it if you checked out Setting Stori Free.  (settingstorifree.wordpress.com)  I would love it even more if you followed that blog too and commented and told other people about it.  Thanks!

And . . . drum roll . . . we finally found a goat!  His name is Tater and he’s fitting in well for the most part.

And . . . we have new baby chicks.

And . . . Slewy, my horse, is rather sick with some yet-to-be-diagnosed neurological problem / disease.

Tater and new baby chicks (well, they’re not really “new” anymore) will get their own post with photos soon.  At the moment, I need to go roust my two teenagers out of bed.

Have a beautiful day!

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Frustration Post

Warning:  I’m frustrated.

I’m trying to set up a new blog / site here on WordPress.  I’m going to keep this one and keep posting in it but I want a different site for a whole different topic.

I find WordPress completely counter-intuitive and nearly impossible to use!!!  I remember having an extreme amount of difficulty when I started this blog.  There are still some things I’d like to change about it but I’ve got no idea how to and I’m worried about screwing up what I already have so I just leave it be.

I’m trying to set up my new site and I feel like somehow I wound up in “sites for businesses” or something rather than “personal blog” because all the layouts I can choose from are business related and I hate all the fonts and I don’t need “buttons” or a ton of contact information or any of that stuff.

Grrrrr . . . .

I keep thinking that WordPress must be fairly simple because a TON of people use it and they can’t all be super techy, right?  I’m super not techy but come on!!

I’m kind of at a loss.  I’ve blown the half hour I have to myself here this morning just trying to figure out how to change the font size on something.  Seriously, 30 whole minutes and I can’t figure it out!

That’s ridiculous.

So, does anyone have any super simple, clear, good WordPress help sites?  I find Word Press’ own “help” articles and videos to be confusing.

Help!

Update on . . . Stuff

Its almost 11:30 p.m.  Our beloved dog, Sam, is “not quite right” this evening.  That’s my diagnosis for our animals when I can’t specifically point to what’s wrong and I debate the degree of “not right”, which leads to calling / going to  the vet or not.

Sam has epilepsy and chronic pancreatitis.  His symptoms are mostly pointing to an upset tummy but he has some other symptoms that worry me – a little bit of trembling now and then and he’ll close one eye and then the other.  But gums look good, he’s alert, and respiration looks pretty normal.  The trembling could be pain.  So I’m staying up for an hour or so to keep an eye on him.  Although, I think he went to bed and is probably wondering why I’m still up.

So . . . there’s that.

Our shelter in place restrictions are sort of slowly being lifted.  And you know what, I’m honestly not really happy about it.  Don’t get me wrong, I want everyone to go back to work.  But, with quarantine, the world has been . . . quieter.  And I like that.

I haven’t missed anything I was doing before.  I don’t miss going to Scouts every week.  I definitely haven’t missed camping.  I’m just running around less.  We don’t have to get up at 6:15 to get kids to school and I don’t have to go pick them up in the afternoon.

Granted, we’re lucky.   Husband is still working and I didn’t really work anyway so our income hasn’t changed.  I have teenagers so I’m not trying to entertain little ones.  We have 4 acres and horses so there’s plenty to do and space to roam.  My kids actually get along with each other and we enjoy hanging out together.  They do their homework (mostly) and help out with stuff around the house (usually).  Neither of them are graduating this year so they’re not missing out on senior year stuff.  My daughter is changing schools next year so she’s a little bummed that she didn’t get to tell everyone in person and say good-bye.  But, overall, I’ve really got no complaints.

I’m pretty sure Scout summer camp is going to be canceled and I’m super bummed about that.  We were going to Camp Emerald Bay on Catalina Island.  I love Catalina and our previous experience at Emerald Bay was fantastic.  Plus, this is going to be my son’s last summer camp.  I was really looking forward to going with both kids.  I’m going to miss that.

We’re also really trying to decide whether or not to go on our summer trip in late June.  We’re scheduled to go to the outer banks in North Carolina and then slowly drive our way north to New York City.  We have just over a week in NYC and then will fly home from there.  Husband and I are discussing options.  We were supposed to take this trip last year but somehow, we just didn’t.  Daughter really wants to go and so she’s going to be upset if we don’t.  But we can find something else to do and maybe, if we stay home this summer, next summer, we’ll take another month-long trip.  We’ll see.

O.k., so this whole post is really not about anything.  I’m still working on getting back on my horse, Slewy.  We were making some progress but were interrupted by having to finish up my daughter’s year-long project for her AP class.  Then I spent all last week trying to catch up a little bit.  I’m still feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Which is why I didn’t write the last two weeks . . . remember, no whining in the blog.  I’ll be back on track next week.

And, next week, I’ll introduce our new baby chicks and our new goat.

I’d better go check on Sam the dog.

A Saddling Experiment

I’ve been putting Slewy back to work with plans to actually ride him soon.  Given that its Slewy, we’ve run into some hiccups.  I’m trying to be creative and patient in finding our way past these little issues.

Disclaimer:  I’m not an expert.  I’m not a professional trainer.  I’m just a lady who has owned horses since she was a teenager, has had a fair number of lessons, has done a little bit of horseback riding teaching to beginners, has a tiny bit of showing experience and has a Bachelor’s degree in Equine Science (and one in English).

So if you’re a horsey person who has some relevant advice or thoughts, I’d love to hear it.  But just please be kind.

Our first hiccup was that the trainer my daughter rides with (and whom I’ve ridden with a couple of times) has been convinced that Slewy’s poor behavior is caused by “kissing spine”.  “Kissing spines refers to a condition in horses in which two or more of the spinous processes (the flanges of bone sticking up from each vertebra in the spine) are positioned so that they touch or rub against each other.”  (ker.com)  Here’s an x-ray showing kissing spine (not Slewy):

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So we had Slewy x-rayed.  Slewy does not have kissing spine.  Yay!

(Don’t worry, we’ll get to the saddling experiment.)

With that diagnosis out of the way, I put Slewy to work on the lunge line.  “Lunging” a horse consists of having him work in a large circle around you.  Its sort of boring, honestly, but there are a lot of things you can do on the lunge line.  For example, your horse can practice listening to you, you can practice transitions between gaits (walk to trot, trot to canter, walk to whoa), you can work over ground poles (literally poles on the ground that your horse goes over).  Lunging is a good way to get horses back in shape or just to “get the bucks out” before you get on them.

Lunge line work has been going well so I decided to put a saddle back on Slewy.  Please note that Slewy has a custom fit saddle and a very expensive ($200), very fluffy, saddle pad.  So Slewy really has no excuse to be a dork about having his saddle put on.

But, of course, Slewy is a dork.  We put his saddle on and Slewy acted like he was going to die.  Seriously, he pretended that he couldn’t walk.

Day 2 of saddle, we went through the same thing.  But I watched Slewy very carefully this time around.  Slewy bloats, i.e., holds his breath when  you put his saddle and girth on.  (The girth is the part that goes around the horse’s tummy to hold your saddle in place.)  Horses that bloat / hold their breath, make their tummy bigger so that when you’re done, and they let their breath out, their girth is looser.  (Not that the girth hurts them in any way; its no different than wearing a belt.)

After a few minutes of talking to him and scratching his neck (Slewy’s favorite thing in the world, besides food), Slewy relaxes and remembers that he can, in fact, walk.

I began to wonder if he wasn’t just holding his breath and freaking himself out.  Slewy is like that.

I remembered that, before his current job of “family horse”, Slewy was a racehorse.  Many racehorses are saddled as they’re walking, pausing for only the briefest of moments so the saddle can be tossed on and the girth done up.

So we decided, on Day 3, to play “racehorse”.  (This is the saddling experiment.)  I put Slewy’s bridle on, which he doesn’t mind at all.  Then, I had my daughter walk Slewy in a circle around the little barn yard.  They walked a couple of circles and, on the third time around, paused for me to throw a saddle pad (fluffy that goes under the saddle) on.  More walking circles.  And then a brief pause for me to put his saddle on as quickly as possible.  Then, immediately to more walking.

It sort of worked.  Slewy did settle down much more quickly.  Normally, I’d put his saddle pads on, then go get his saddle, saunter back over, fuss with his saddle pads, and put his saddle on.  That gave Slewy a lot of time to worry.  And Slewy worries a lot.  So I think our new “racehorse method” distracted him and gave less worry time.

We’ll try it again today.  Here’s a picture of said dork, Slewy:20200417_174722

He is cute, isn’t he?  Which is why we’re being patient, going slow, trying experiments, and working hard to figure out what’s best for dear Slewy.

 

My Horse Needs a Goat

Yep, Slewy the horse needs a goat.  My veterinarian actually prescribed Slewy a goat.  Now, I just need to find one.

20200212_091303  That’s Slewy.  For those of you who don’t know him, Slewy is my extremely sweet, highly anxious, severely ADD, very large, off-the-track Thoroughbred.  “Off-the-track Thoroughbred” or OTTB, means that he was a race horse but now had a new career.  In Slewy’s case, he only ran 4 races and was terrible.  My guess is that he couldn’t focus.  His new “career”, if you can call it that, is to be a family horse.

Anyway, its not uncommon for stress-y Thoroughbreds to have a pet goat.  For some reason, goats tend to calm their Thoroughbred down.

Stormy, my almost-31-year-old Thoroughbred, who was never a race horse, used to have a goat named Oh Well.  Stormy loved Oh Well so much that once, when I had to take Oh Well to the vet, I came home to find Stormy colicking.  Colic is basically a horse tummy ache but it can quickly become fatal.  As Oh Well got older, began to worry about what Stormy was going to do when she passed away.  So I got Stormy some new goats.  He could have cared less.  But he was ok when she did pass so maybe the new goats helped a bit?

Here’s dear Stormy.  This was taken just the other day; I couldn’t find one of him and Oh Well.

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Oh Well started us on several years of owning various goats. DSC_0560  This was Oh Dear.  She and her sister, Oh My, were Stormy’s next goats whom he never bonded with.

Next we had Billy, Willy and ???  (I honestly can’t remember the third one’s name!!!)  They came to us because they had the unfortunate habit of jumping on (and denting) cars.  They were overly friendly.

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You would think overly friendly goats would be ok but, when your goats like to jump up on you (like a dog) and they’re super tall and  you have smaller children, it becomes problematic.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   The half door that he’s up on is chest height on me, which gives you an idea of how tall these three were and why the “Hi!  I want to hug you!!!” wasn’t always welcome.

Its been several years since we’ve had goats.  In the past, it seems like our goats just sort of found their way to us but now I’m actually looking for a goat.  Which, has turned out to be more difficult than I thought.  And, goats have apparently gotten expensive!!!

My vet recommended a well-known goat dairy about 5 minutes from us.  I called.  Yes, they have baby goats.  We’re up to finishing up bottle feeding because at the moment, like the rest of the world, we’re home with lots of time.  Then they told me the price of said baby goats . . . $400!!!!

$400 for a companion goat!!

I think the most we ever paid for a goat previously was $50.  So, much to my daughter’s disappointment, I said I’m not paying $400 for a backyard goat.  She could just see herself bottle feeding her new baby goat.  I pointed out that the goat was then likely to bond to her rather than Slewy.  And that Slewy needs a comfort goat; she does not.  This argument fell on deaf ears.  Well, either way, I’m not paying $400 for a goat.

Next was a Craigslist search for goats.  We found a baby fainting goat.  I’ve always wanted fainting goats!!!  But then, it occurred to us that if Slewy’s goat suddenly fell over, catatonic, that might be more upsetting than comforting.  O.k., no fainting goats.

I called my vet back to ask for another recommendation.  Told the receptionist that the dairy’s goats were too expensive.  “How much did they want?” she asked.  “$400” I said.  “Holy Crap!” was her response.  O.k., good, its not just me who thought that was an awful lot for a goat.

We got referred to a local farm animal rescue.  That sounds better!

After a long talk with the rescue lady and sending a “virtual tour” of our place – they aren’t doing home approval visits because of coronavirus, she’s on the lookout for a goat for us.  I’m all for rescue animals.  So hopefully, a post in the very near future will be to introduce Slewy’s new goat!

Coronavirus Monday Morning

Is it terrible that its 10:15 and I haven’t rousted my kids out of bed yet?  I have a good reason. . . . they don’t have “school” on Mondays so this precious time between when my husband has left for work and I make the two teenagers get up is really all that’s left of my quiet time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family.  But having the two teenagers home 24/7 is kind of wearing me out.

Quiet time by myself with a cup of coffee keeps me sane.  That’s hard to come by these days.

So I’m sitting here, surfing the internet, sipping coffee and watching hummingbirds stop by the feeder right outside my window.

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Hummingbirds are cool.

But surfing the internet, Pinterest specifically, and staring out at my front yard, has me contemplating contentment.  I decided my Pinterest boards needed to be organized.  So many ideas!  So many things to do!  So many people who are more crafty, more organized, have a better fashion sense, have a more beautiful house . . . well, you get the idea.

Maybe Pinterest isn’t particularly good for me.  Rather than inspire, it sometimes serves as a catalog of all the things I’m not.  Or, at least, I’m “not” in my head.

Wait!  When I started writing here in my blog again, I swore I wasn’t going to return to whining.

O.k., so I won’t.

This weekend wasn’t the easiest for me personally.  I didn’t sleep particularly well and, when I did sleep, I had funky dreams.  Maybe I’m more worried about cornoavirus than I think.  Coronoavirus often seems very far away as we’re here on our 4 acres with our horses and hummingbirds.

But life has changed, hasn’t it?  And I think I’m more worried than maybe I realize.  Are the kids going back to school ever?  Am I going to get to go look at colleges with our oldest?  Are we financially going to be ok?  How much weight will I gain if I try out all of the pins on m Pinterest “Dessert Recipes to Try” board?

O.k., o.k, I’m almost out of coffee and the two teenagers really do need to get up.  And the laundry needs to be folded.  And, maybe I need to make a fairy garden from my Pinterest “Garden Decorating” board.

Laundry and kids first.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

If I only knew for sure what day it was!  Is anyone else having trouble keeping track of whether is Tuesday or Wednesday, Wednesday or Thursday?  All the days just seem to roll together lately.  When Husband doesn’t go to work, I’ll know its Saturday or Sunday but that’s about it.

It is a beautiful day out though!  Its sunny and lightly breezy, even if its not exactly warm out yet.  Hummingbirds visit the feeder which hangs right outside my window.  The apple tree is blooming, as is the azalea.

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Virtual school has started for my kids.  Honestly, its a joke.  I’m pretty disappointed in our school district.  And, now that in person school has been canceled for the rest of the year here in California, I’m worried about how this will affect their education.  My kids, of course, don’t care . . . they’re delighted to “attend” school only an hour (or less!) a day.  We’re only on day 3 of virtual school so we’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, the apple tree has gorgeous blossoms.

I’m trying to focus on the positive and take a few minutes every day to notice the small things around me.  I’m lucky to live here in our little oasis.