Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cowboy Up ... And Down

The Jackson Five (number 6 is behind the camera)

Okay ... we've been busy. I know that's no excuse. I actually got a prompt from Kim Skipton on FaceBook, a polite reminder that I've been neglecting my personal blog. She commented on how she would like to see the photos of Wyoming that I posted on FaceBook on my BLOG. Got the hint.

I believe I left you in May. Since then the mares have all foaled and all is well with them and their new babies. They are in Shelbyville this year so I don't get to see them and take photos of them as often as I did last year. And we've been really busy so I haven't seen them in awhile. That's on the agenda for next week because we are actually going to be home. YAY!

We took Mary and headed down to Germantown in June. John agreed to judge the Germantown Charity show this year so we loaded up his judging duds and the dogs and hit the road for Memphis. We stayed out at the show grounds which I thought was pretty cool. It's such a beautiful area and the grounds are so nice. It reminds me of an old county fair setting and everything is so tidy, with flags and and flower baskets. Besides, John could walk to work. Bill and Mary Lynn Whitley were working the show too so we hung out with them some during the day and they worked at night.

There was a great place to walk the dogs, foot trails through the woods. We had to go early the first morning because they were predicting very warm temperatures. Boy was that an understatement. The entire time we were there (six days) the heat got more intense and the humidity got worse. Every night John had to wear a suit and tie and stand in a large bowl to judge and every night he came in at 11:00 soaked through his coat. It got to the point where we would take the dogs for a walk early in the morning and then we made short sprints out with them for potty duties while the sun was up, and then more time out after dark.

On the third morning I was working away on my computer when I looked down and saw something move on the seat where I was sitting. It was a little round bug with lots of legs and a little pattern on its back. "TICK!" I shouted and jumped up. John was dozing in his chair and my hollering nearly gave him heart failure. I grabbed a paper towel, wet it and scooped it up before it could get away. I drowned it in the kitchen sink. Then I sat down and hopped on the internet to find out what the hell kind of blood sucker the thing was. Wikipedia to the rescue. It was a common dog tick. From there I hit the floor with Breezy and started going through her hair. No ticks. Ransom was easier, little short haired guy that he is. Next I went to the calendar to see when they were due for their Frontline. The next week. Off to the pet store. I figured a few days early wasn't too soon to keep the nasty vermin from feeding on our fur babies. But that didn't help us.

Did you ever notice how when you encounter something in the insect world that can bite you and make you itch or some other such thing, that you become hypersensitive to every little hair that moves on your arm, or skin nerve that twitches, and it sends you into a fit of panic? Ticks freak me out. Not as much as mice do (I'm already planning my anti-mouse strategy for our time in Oregon this year) but I've seen first hand what kind of damage the shitty little blood suckers can do to horses, dogs and humans. And try to get one off of you once it has buried its nasty head in your skin and bloated into a little balloon of blood. Not nice.

The next morning we went for our walk and then had breakfast. John was playing with his new iPad (early birthday present) when a tick dropped out of nowhere onto his yellow shirt. I saw him jump and I flew into action, grabbing my wet paper towel and promptly drowning the thing.

Super-hyper-hyper sensitivity set in. We stopped walking in the morning and I became the dog walking Gestapo. Poor dogs. I wouldn't let them stand still in the grass unless they were actually doing their duties. I dragged them out and back in record time. Never mind that it was too hot to breathe outside, the entire grounds was hopping with dog ticks. I ventured down to watch a jumping Clydesdale one evening. For that I got sweat soaked clothes that stuck to me to the degree that I had to peel them off. For the most part I spent the rest of my time barricaded in the coach battling imaginary ticks.

I had a problem getting the license plate renewal for the coach. The car reminder came but the coach didn't. I renewed the car, thinking that the coach paperwork would come along any day. It didn't. I got online and renewed the plates but we couldn't get the tags before we left for Germantown. I had the paperwork in case we got stopped. About a week after we got home I got a letter in the mail from the City of Germantown. In the letter there is a photo of the back of the coach and the Camry going through an intersection. It was a ticket! First I thought that they got us for expired plates. I was so sure of it that I didn't read the ticket. A day or so later it struck me that the photo was taken while we were just entering the intersection so I went back and looked. Above the coach I could see that the light was red. Fifty bucks. I remember that light. Unfortunately we can't stop 50,000 pounds of motor coach on a dime. The speed limit through that area was 45 mph and I remember that there was no way to stop without creating an interior disaster area in Mary, was thankful that John didn't cram on the brakes to stop, and then I didn't think about it again. Don't you love this Big Brother crap?

Our next big adventure was out to Wyoming for our week of playing John Wayne in the Grand Teton National Park. What a great time! Jimmy and Helen Robertson, Andi Bittker and her boyfriend Eban and John and I spent seven days galloping across the Snake River Valley, riding up the mountainside and down, across the river and through the woods. Helen, Andi and I hiked 8. 2 miles on Wednesday and another 8 or so miles on Friday with the guys. We rode twice on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with the guys, and floated down the Snake River for two hours after a dinner cookout. Saturday everyone rode but me because somewhere in my Calamity Jane escapades I thew my back out. Still working on that one.

The Last Night ... Worn OUT

Ranch Horses Coming In Early

I have been to some really gorgeous places in my life but I think that the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone is probably the most beautiful. I got to explore a lot of in on a dandy little trail horse named Diego. He was new to Triangle X. They take wonderful care of their horses, rotating them in the summer so that they don't have to work back to back weeks. They bring the herd in early in the morning from a big pasture across the highway and saddle them for their day's work. They have horses for all levels of riders. All are shod regularly and they are both fit and fat from summer grass. They work for 2 1/2 hours in the morning, get a break while we eat lunch and then for 2 1/2 more hours in the afternoon before they are herded across the road and spend all night out, knee deep in feed. Most of their work is done at a walk. We tended to take the fast rides, which meant that we galloped on the flat areas so that we could see more on our rides. Diego never laid an ear down and happily long trotted and galloped along with the rest of the horses.

Diego (in front) and John's horse Traveler on a riding break

John rode the horse that he had last time, Traveler. He is an older Missouri Fox Trotter that has been in the dude string for at least 8 years. He walks, trots, ambles and canters. Of course John found the amble gait immediately when he first got him and used it a lot. While we were consuming Advil and a massive rate, and tending to the raspberries and chaffing on our legs, he's telling us all how he isn't one bit sore, not one bit! He reminded us of that at least twice a day. We all scowled at him at least twice a day.

The hike that Helen, Andi and I took up in the mountains was nothing short of heavenly. It was difficult because we hiked up several steep switchbacks but we wanted to get to Cascade Canyon, a hike that none of us had done before. It was well worth the effort. We started by hiking part way around Jenny Lake. From there we went to Hidden Falls, a gorgeous spot. Then it was up to Inspiration Point, which John later renamed Desperation Point. We did that hike the last time we were there. This time we followed the trail out to Cascade Canyon. I wish I could describe it and do it justice. I'm not sure if it was the altitude (probably 7,000 feet) or the endorphins from pushing so hard up to Inspiration Point but I don't think I've ever been to a place where I felt more peaceful. It affected all three of us that way. We had a great day and came back with lots of pretty pictures and great memories.

My Hiking Buddies

For a complete web album of photos go to: http://picasaweb.google.com/tagfish1/Jackson2010#

Now for a book update. Today I got the mock up of the interior of the book and approved that. Then I had a phone consultation on the cover design. Within a week I'll have two mockup designs of the cover to look at. I'll consult with the designer and then we'll decide on a cover design. In the mean time I should get a digital draft of the book, which I will have my trusty proofreader go over and we will make any last minute changes before it goes to press. Best estimate is about three weeks to publication! YAY!

I've started another blog, using different blog site that is far more complicated than this one, but allows me more creativity. At the moment I'm struggling to understand the language of the more complicated blog but I did manage to get it up and I'm working on it intensely every day. I also have a copy of "WordPress For Dummies" on the way.

The address is: http://silentpartneronline.com. Check it out and let me know what you think. It's only been up for two days so there is a lot of work left to do. I will be posting excerpts from the book and updates on how it is coming along. Once it is out, you will be able to purchase it on Amazon.com and download it on Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook. That won't all happen on the same day but I'll post the availability dates on the Silent Partner blog. Please feel free to pass on ideas. This is my first time through the process so I need all of the help I can get! If you read it and like it, please tell your friends and write a review on Amazon.com. I'll post a link for that once it is up on Amazon.

I hope you are having a terrific summer so far! Enjoy and I'll be blogging on this site (I know ... promises, promises) and the other one. I can be a little freer in my expression on this one so I won't give it up!