Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Break, Part III: Christmas Day, then Over the River and Through the Woods

In Part I, I made it safely to my dad's house, though with the Check Engine light glowing at me during the latter half of the drive.

In Part II, my sister, the kiddo, and I got to watch my brother tell pilots what to do.

My brother got off work at 6:00 a.m. on Christmas Day, and said he had the fastest commute he'd ever had.  :-)  I woke up around 8:30, and he was already up, making fresh-squeezed orange juice, and preparing to make French toast for everyone in a little while.  Apparently he'd taken a very brief nap, and was feeling refreshed.  Eventually, the kiddo got up, and while it was more fun when he DID enjoy the Santa thing, it's kind of nice to have a more leisurely kind of grown-up Christmas.  We looked in our stockings, then had a delicious breakfast courtesy of chef Eric, then sedately opened the presents.  We'd decided that between Dad and us kids, we'd just exchange cheap, if any, gifts, so it was fun to see the creativity, like a foot massager my dad got my sister from Goodwill (a wood board with wooden feet shapes attached by springs).

We have kind of a family tradition, whenever all three siblings and my dad get together, of one (or more) of us creating a Jeopardy game for the other three to get to play.  My brother, however, was ambitious, and without any discussion of doing so, created TWO Jeopardy games, complete with commercial breaks of some hilarious fake commercials from YouTube.  We've come a long way from the first few games that were created with stickie notes!

I had Nathan on my team, and Eric had purposely included some topics he would know, so we had a bit of advantage, I think, and won the first round.  My dad won the second game.

We eventually went back to my dad's house, played some more games (board and card games) while he made Christmas Dinner, and had a lovely evening until it was time for those of us staying at Eric's house to head back there for bed.

In the morning, now that it was finally a business day again, I needed to find out what was wrong with my car.  Eric and my mom both informed me that apparently you can just take your car to AutoZone to get the code read from the computer for the Check Engine light.  So I did just that.

He said it was definitely something in the exhaust system, and if I'd made it the past 100 miles, I could probably make it the next however-many-hundred.  Hope so!

I headed back to the house, loaded up my stuff and Jen's gifts she'd received, then headed to my dad's to pick up Jen herself and the rest of her stuff, which she'd flown over with.  Between planning to go skiing, bringing gifts, and doing some shopping while she was there, she had QUITE a bit of luggage.  Plus of course Nathan had to ride in the back seat on this leg, so we couldn't even fill the back seat full of stuff.

I did manage to squeeze the three people and all our stuff into the car successfully, probably the heaviest payload my car has hauled.  All with the check engine light glowing at me the whole way.  But the trip was otherwise uneventful, and we arrived safely at her house.

You may recall (or you can read about it now if you don't, in the fourth-from-last paragraph in this post) that a dog Jen is fostering didn't really like me (or any visitors) invading his space.  She and her roommate have been working with him with a trainer advising them, and the next step in his training is for visitors to be the only source he associates with a fun toy, which the trainer calls a "flirt stick."  It's a long horse whip (lunge whip, for my horsie readers) with a stuffed dog toy tied to the very end.  It's long enough that the person holding it (me) can be far away from the dog (Harley), in case he decides he doesn't like the intruder.  So when we first arrived, Jen got Harley situated in the back yard, tied to a very secure post, while Nathan and I waited outside.  I changed into some sturdier shoes than the flimsy flats I'd been driving in, and took a deep breath.

Harley didn't even seem to notice ME.  He just saw the toy and whined that he couldn't reach it because he was tied.  Once the toy was in range, he was quite happy to chase and play with it, and didn't care at all that there was a stranger present, which is the whole idea.  Here's some video:

He is STRONG, so when I wasn't really able to grip the rope very well anymore to pull it back from him (I'd fallen down in the snow once, which made my fingers cold and slippery), we figured the training session was over, and Jen stood near him while I stayed out of range, as the realization that play time was over sunk in a bit.  He whined, but it seemed to be strictly about the playtime being over, and not because of the presence of a stranger.  So hopefully that was a success.  They'll have to repeat it a lot more, of course, with other strangers (since I live four hours away), but it seems to be going well so far, anyway.

We left Harley tied up outside a bit longer while Nathan and I sat down for a bit and petted her other two dogs for a bit before hitting the road again.

When we did hit the road, I noticed that the check engine light went off.  As in, not on.  Huh.  I still took it easy on the drive, of course, but only had another hour to my mom's house, which went fine.

At my mom's house, more dog time (now I feel bad I didn't even get my camera out at Christmas, even for pictures of my dad's dog, who is also adorable--I'll have to remedy that next time I visit!), knitting, baby...which I'll save for another post.

Christmas Break, Part II: Mission Control

In Part I, I made it safely to my dad's house, though with the Check Engine light glowing at me during the latter half of the drive.

My brother was taking a nap after getting off work at 2:00 that day, so we sat around and played Hearts (difficult at best, because Nathan kept getting spades and clubs confused), and my dad made some dinner, then we wandered over to my brother's house when he got up.

My brother is an air traffic controller, like our dad was when we were kids (my dad retired a few years ago, first to officially work for a separate entity, but still in the same building, training new trainees which included my brother, though he never directly trained HIM, of course, and now for Lockheed, but still tangentially working with the FAA), and he invited the kiddo, me, and my sister to tag along with him on the slowest shift of the calendar year--the graveyard shift on Christmas Eve.

First, I need to clear up a common misconception--the controllers who work in the tower at the airport are not the only air traffic controllers there are.  They only work the airplanes for the last and first few minutes of their flight, though of course that's PLENTY of work for them to deal with.  In between, the planes still cover a LOT of ground, and someone has to direct traffic out there as well.  Those controllers work in a few centers around the country, and around the world, in enclosed rooms with "nothing" but a computer screen (or five) to look at.

I couldn't take pictures, of course (well, I guess I didn't ask,
but I assumed I couldn't), but this is a fairly accurate
representation of the setup, I think.  One BIG screen with the
sector they're working, plus other screens with
supplemental information.  When it's busy, two controllers
work one station, with one actually speaking to pilots,
and the other assisting.  This shows two people working
their stations alone, as my brother was doing that night
when we were there.
We gathered at his house for a bit, then left (in two cars, with our group in my dad's car, which I borrowed so mine wouldn't have to go any more miles than necessary).  I'd gone to similar shifts with my dad a few times as a kid, as had my sister (though not together), but security had changed JUST a bit since then.  Back then, my dad drove through the gate with us in the passenger seat, waved at the guard as he flashed his badge, and we walked right into the building after parking.

This time, we brought our ID (including the kiddo's passport), which were closely scrutinized (shoot, we may have gotten miniature background checks during the time he held our passports), and we had to empty our pockets (but not remove our shoes) and place our belongings on a belt to be X-rayed while we went through a metal detector.  My brother had to use his badge to get through the guard shack, into the buildings, and through many of the doors in the building as well.

He showed us some of the other areas in the control room, then led us to his, in the back.  He began the evening controlling the higher-altitude airspace over eastern Washington/Oregon.  The maps are completely unlabeled (though he can toggle some labels, like airports, on and off), but a large part of his training was to know them from memory, so of course he knew what he was looking at, but he oriented us, too.  As planes appeared on his screen, he explained where they were heading, where they were coming from, and how the data next to their blip showed the airline and flight number, the altitude they were at, the altitude they were aiming for, and the airport they were destined for, among other things.  He could show their vectors for the next minute, or two, four, or eight minutes out.

We got to witness a real-life Air Collision moment.  Sort of.  ;-)  Two planes were near each other in altitude, and headed  right for each other.  My brother deftly averted disaster, of course, as he routinely does MANY times a day.  Next time you're on a flight and the plane turns slightly in the middle of your route, for seemingly no reason, thank an air traffic controller for averting you from a disastrous collision.  :-)

My brother also showed us (on a separate screen they also have access to), how they can see more information on the planes on their screen, see which planes are heading for their airspace, or view the weather with arrows representing the speed and direction of the air at each point of a grid.  He talked about how busy it can get, and how duties are divided at busy times and combined at slower times (later that same night, one person (him, alternating with another controller) would be controlling all altitudes of a much larger area than he was doing right then).

My sister and I asked some questions to learn more, and got to listen in to both sides of the conversations between our brother and the pilots (most of which was about how bumpy the ride was at certain altitudes).  Unfortunately, Nathan was bored out of his gourd.  We tried to engage him by comparing to the movie Air Collision (which he LOVED), video games, etc., but of course it's not nearly as exciting as either of those.  He was also recovering from having had a fever of 102 the day before, and had had a long day.  Maybe my brother will be generous enough to take him again sometime when the kiddo is feeling more up for it.

At his first break, he showed us around.  They have a cafeteria and a bunch of vending machines as well as a bank of refrigerators and microwaves, to keep the controllers fed; darkened rooms with couches to keep them rested; video games and movies to keep them entertained, and workout facilities to keep them...sweaty?  ;-)  He showed us some of the training facilities he'd been subjected to early in his time there, as well.

At that point, we left so he could get back to work, and we could get some sleep.  I dropped Jen off at my dad's house, where she was sleeping, and Nathan and I went back to my brother's, where his wife had recently arrived home from work, so I chatted with her for a while after Nathan went to bed, then crashed, too, ready for Christmas morning.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Break, Part I: The Best Laid Plans

My company is nice enough to give me Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, AND New Years Day off as holidays, plus a generous quantity of PTO in recognition of my 10+ years of service, so I took the three working days between holidays off, and got myself a nine day break.

My plan was to pack on the Saturday before Christmas (and get the kiddo from his dad's house), drive to my dad's house on Sunday, allowing plenty of time, go skiing with the family at Crystal Mountain, where we grew up skiing, spend Christmas Day at my dad's house, because his girlfriend cares the most about celebrating it ON the proper day, moreso than the rest of the family, including my mom, who I figured I could celebrate Christmas with a few days later.

In the meantime, things with my dad and his girlfriend weren't going so well, so in the end, we might have had more flexibility with when to see who, though of course that just means more decisions, so it's probably better to have it set fairly early on in the planning process.  But anyway, my sister bought a one-way ticket from the east side of WA, where she lives, to Seattle, and then I would drop her off at home on the way to my mom's house.  Sounded like a plan.

However, when I picked the kiddo up at his dad's midday on Saturday, he was hacking up a lung and felt warm to the touch.  A quick detour to urgent care (and a $35 copay!) showed that it was likely just a virus that was going around, and we'd have to wait it out.  I let the relatives know that our departure was likely to be delayed a bit, and that whenever we arrived, he wasn't going to be up to skiing, so they should just go without us.  Sure enough, on Sunday when we originally would have been leaving, his fever was 102.8.  Luckily, it went down throughout the day, and was exactly 98.6 on Monday morning, so we loaded up and left.

Our plans were now delayed by a day, but of course Christmas Day itself was still the same day as always, and unfortunately, my sister needed to be transported as originally planned so she could go to work, so it meant the time with my dad, brother, and sister was shortened a day.  Nothing could be done about that, now, though, so off we went, a day later than originally planned.

The passes all looked mighty crappy (chains required), so I went the long(er) way, straight north to The Dalles, then along the Columbia River to 205 and finally up I-5.  At the split where highway 97 (which veers a little further east than I otherwise needed to go) and 197 (which is what I was taking up to the river) part ways, 197 was packed snow, whereas 97 had been clear.  I debated turning back to 97, which isn't THAT much further out of my way, but stuck it out, and the roads cleared JUST in time for the winding downhill section.  Yay!

Odd setup just past the junction of 197 and 97
Luckily the road only looked like this for a few miles,
but at least the view was great, when I could steal a glimpse of it.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, weather-wise.  In fact, with only a little misty rain, it might be the driest trip up or down I-5 I've made in a LONG time.  However, around Longview, I saw a sight no driver ever wants to see, let alone at 3:30 on Christmas Eve:

Yes, that is my check engine light.  My mechanic had warned me that my engine was starting to burn about a quart of oil every 5,000 miles, but I'd only gone about 2,000 miles since the last oil change at this point, and the oil light itself wasn't on.  But of course that was the first thing I thought of, so I got off at the next exit, stopped at a gas station, and checked the oil.  It was fine.  The temperature gauge was also fine, and there was no discernible noise or smell that didn't belong.  Thus endeth my diagnostic capabilities.  I whipped out my trusty iPhone, looked for the nearest Toyota dealership, and called them.  They were closing in 30 minutes, but the woman who answered went and found a technician for me to talk to anyway.  He asked if it was steady or blinking.  It's steady.  We chatted about the symptoms (or lack thereof), and he said in his best estimation, it would make it at least to my dad's house, if not the rest of my journey, because it's often something really simple.  But if it started blinking, I would need to pull over immediately (i.e. not even at the next exit, but on the shoulder) and call my roadside service.  I gingerly headed out on the road.  I didn't run the A/C or cruise control or accelerate very hard, and kept it to exactly the speed limit (in the slow lane) as best I could.

I did, in fact, make it to my dad's house safely.  However, the rest of the family chose not to go skiing without me and the kiddo, so I felt really bad about that.

We did have more adventures (in a different car, and no engine trouble!) later the same night, but I'll save that for a different post...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Trigger's trainer has been saying I should ride one of her horses for a while now.  She doesn't want me to lose interest in horses.  :-)  She invited me to come out last Tuesday, and when I realized I had other plans, I put her off until Thursday, and then we ended up postponing until today.  I guess she had a few friends lined up to come, but a couple of them bailed due to the cold weather.  However, the trainer (S) and another boarder (A) and I were game.

S sent me out to fetch my mount, and after getting pointed to the correct pasture, I went to go find him.  She said to just call his name and he'd come right up to me.  Well, that wasn't quite true, but when I walked toward the herd of horses, he was like the third one to approach me.  I petted the first one who arrived, an adorable stocky black gelding with a lopped-off tail.  Then the palomino paint colt with blue eyes came up to me, and even though he's pretty young, he clearly loves people, and wanted lots of attention.  Finally, Nevets came up to me, so I scratched and rubbed him a bit, then set about unbuckling the halter to put it on him, but apparently he's friendly enough, but doesn't actually like being CAUGHT.  S hadn't warned me about that, or I might have been a little more strategic with hiding the halter and rope, and being ready to use it when the moment was right.  Oops.  So I ignored him for a bit, paying attention to the other two attention whores.  He came back, but once again would stay long enough to be caught.  By this point, S realized my plight and came out to help me.  Apparently the trick is to at least get your arm around his neck (or something else--she used her hat with string ties), and then he comes willingly.  Well, I'll know next time.  :-)

We tacked up and loaded up without incident, and headed out to a local trailhead.  I've got to admit, I had butterflies when getting on him, but even though he was kind of a head-tosser at times, once I was on him, I felt just fine.

When we first started out, it was snowing pretty hard, and there was a dusting on the ground.

We went through a couple of really cool canyons.  Nevets wasn't too sure about being the first to enter this canyon , which for all he knew, could have had cougars lined up along the top of the walls and coyotes or wolves all along the bottom, but he went bravely after a bit of assurance from me.

S on Frosty, her barrel horse who needed a break from the arena are on the left.  Hope it did him some good an he does a GREAT job for her tomorrow!  A on her coming-three-year-old filly on the right.  This was only her second time out in the big wide world, and she did GREAT!

Maybe we had a little bit of fun today.  Maybe.  :-)

Yup, it was fun!

By the end of our ride, the sky was pretty clear (though an ominous storm was apparent on the horizon), and the temperature had warmed up quite a bit, too.  We had gone up and then down a bit of a hill, and quite steep in places, so the horses were happy to hop on the trailer and go back home.
As I was driving home, the storm I'd seen coming had clearly hit Bend, and the roads were snowy and slippery, and we had a dusting of snow at my house, so it's probably a good thing we rode today, as tomorrow might not be so kind.  :-)

Thanks, S, for inviting me and loaning your horse.  He and I had a great time together.  :)

Oh, and I did say hi to Trigger (he recognizes my voice when I holler at him from across the farm, even from S' truck), and gave him a few treats.  He was cozy out in his paddock with a blanket on.  No nibbles on him of late, but S renewed all the ads out there, so hopefully soon...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Trigger Again

I went out to the barn again today.  The trainer is giving me the pasture board price, but still bringing Trigger in to the barn on colder nights, which SHOULD cost me quite a bit more in board each month, so I went to help out with chores.  She was riding in a barrel race, so when I showed up the place was empty.  After checking a couple wheelbarrows, I found one that didn't seem to be for food, and a rake, and went to town on the stalls.  I spent an hour and a half picking stalls, though a few of them had already been done.  Just as I was doing the last one, the trainer's son showed up.  I guess he (and his brothers and dad) had been in the house the whole time, but hadn't seen me drive up.  He was worried that by cleaning the stalls, he would get in trouble for NOT cleaning the stalls.  Oh well.  :-)

At some point, I noticed their stud was napping.  He was snoring, and though his eyelids and ears twitched by instinct, I don't think he actually noticed my presence.  His muscles wanted to relax and lie all the way down, but his instincts kept kicking in, and he would prop his nose on the ground while still snoring.  Too funny!


So tempting to just lay down, but then I won't be able to watch for predators! 

(And if anyone is concerned, he was standing up again the next time I saw him--it was just a catnap.)

After I finished mucking stalls, I took Trigger out.  First, I cross-tied him and brushed the dried mud off his neck.  He LOVED the scrubbing with the soft-fingered brush/curry thingie.  Then I took him out to the large outdoor arena and turned him loose to get the wiggles out.  He GALLOPED off, happy as a clam.  I thought it'd be fun to get some video of him galloping, but after one gallop the length of the arena, he was apparently done.  He walked calmly over to me and put his head in the halter.  So I took him to the round pen for a little bit of controlled exercise.  However, he was NOT listening to me.  I didn't want him to work up a sweat, or to slip in the mud, so my plan was to just have him walk for a little bit, then trot some, canter a little, trot again, then finish with walking so he cooled out a bit.

But just having the lunge whip in my hand caused him to run around like a madman.  Or a mad horse.  Or whatever.  He'd gallop and kick, then slide to a stop in the mud, just short of crashing into the panels.  I tried talking him down to a walk, tried turning him and turning him (though worried about him slipping in the mud and tweaking a tendon or something), and was worried he'd quit listening to me or something.  But finally, his brain came back, and I got him changing directions and gaits on command, though it was hard to keep him in the rail in such a large roundpen, and his attendiong was on me, though his face was almost always pointed outside the round pen.  So in the end, it was a good session.  I checked, and he was warm between his font legs, but only barely damp.  I hand-grazed him for a few minutes, then was going to take him back to the barn and groom him again a bit before turning him back out, but right then, the trainer showed up with a FULL trailer after the barrel race.  So I put Trigger into his stall and offered to help her out, but she had a handle on it.

I took him back out to his paddock (large, luxurious, and DRY, though no shelter, which is why she brings him in, especially when it's cold and/or wet) and put his blanket on him, though unfortunately I forgot his treats, and I think he knew it.  Oh well, he got more scratches and rubs on his ears and face before I said goodbye.  Currently planning to go out on Tuesday--the trainer invited me out to ride one of her horses, so that'll be nice.  As I was leaving, they were bringing the curly-haired horse in.  He's so adorable!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

100th Post! Nathan plays trumpet!

I was really hoping my 100th post could be about finding a wonderful buyer for Trigger.  But since who knows how long that will be, and I have multiple videos that might work better in a blog post than directly on Facebook, my 100th post will be about the kiddo's very first band concert.

Okay, first of all, they prefaced it with a spaghetti feed fundraiser.  Which could have been pretty bad, but they actually worked it out pretty well by staggering the start times of the concerts by grade and event (band, choir, orchestra), which staggered the parents' arrivals at the spaghetti feed.  Nathan's group was one of the last, but they were constantly bringing out fresh food, so it was all good.

But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit.  Nathan's group was one of the last (or even THE last, I'm not quite sure), as I said above, which meant that when I arrived, there weren't many parking spots left.  So I had to park in the far end of an overflow lot.  And it's December at 44 or so degrees north.  It gets dark by 5:00 p.m., and it was now 6:15 or so.  They apparently haven't sprung for lights in any of the parking lots, but especially not the one I parked in in BFE.  I could have backtracked to the entrance of the parking lot to at least stay on pavement, but my car was just about even with the gym, so I hoped that there would be a door unlocked on that side of the building, so I tromped through the grass and up a small hill to get there.  Yay for a flashlight app on my phone, and for a little LED light on my keychain.

However, boo for doors not being unlocked.  There was a sidewalk along the gym, so I used it, but alas, no unlocked doors.  I could see Nathan's dad and stepmom (and Nathan, of course, and his brother) inside, but couldn't get to them.  Finally, the sidewalk ended at a service entrance, and I once again had to tromp through the grass and up a different small hill and back onto a sidewalk that finally led to the front door.  Lame.  It wouldn't be so bad if any of that had been lit other than by the ambient light streaming out of the windows of the cafeteria.  But I finally got indoors, got some spaghetti, chatted with Nathan's other parents a bit, etc. etc. etc.

Finally, it was almost time for the concert to start.  We found our seats.  The students started filing in, carrying their instruments (well, except for percussion, whose instruments were strategically placed before they arrived).  And sort of except for Nathan.  He was carrying his trumpet.  But all the other students had their instruments out and ready, and he was carrying his in its case.  Odd, but whatever.  But he didn't find his way to his seat.  He kind of wandered around in the back, and eventually the band teacher helped him find a chair and a music stand and kind of wedged them in behind the trumpets and trombones.  So maybe the other groups who had played earlier had slightly fewer students, and they didn't either set up the maximum number of chairs needed, or didn't bother to transition for the larger group after the smaller one?  Whatever.

Then they started playing.  I've been in a band as a young inexperienced child, and we knew we weren't GOOD, but we sure were proud.  And once again, this group was NOT good, but we parents were proud just the same.  These were sixth graders who most likely hadn't ever touched an instrument until 90 days ago.  (If they'd taken lessons before, they're probably in one of the fancier bands, not the sixth grade band anyone can be in.)  I'm tone deaf, and I could tell they sounded like a chorus of baboons in labor or something.  But still...they were doing their best, and they had clearly learned and practiced and were learning to play as a group.

Here is what we parents endured enjoyed tonight.  In the first video, trumpet has its own little piece at 1:23, though Nathan didn't personally solo.

And finally, a photo, also from my phone, but zoomed in a bit, since you can't zoom the video, and it's hard to see him.

Nathan is pretty much dead center in this photo, blowing his horn.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trigger Update

So, the guy from Arizona wanted a more finished (or at least ready to go) endurance horse, and Trigger is woefully out of shape, so he passed on him.  It is the heart of endurance season down there from what I understand, due to the summer heat, so that makes sense.  The Florida lady priced shipping him, and wanted us to reduce his price by the amount she would have to pay for shipping, which seems kind of silly, since she had to have known it would cost quite a bit and should have adjusted the price range she was looking in accordingly, but whatever.  Her offer was still acceptable to me, so the trainer kept talking with her.  She was asking questions and seemed engaged in the process from what I could tell (hearing it all third-hand), but when it came down to scheduling a vet check, she admitted that her husband didn't want her buying a horse sight-unseen.  Yeah, I can see that, but then again, why are you looking at horses in Oregon if you live in Florida?  Sounds like she must have stumbled across his ad, liked his pretty color, and figured she'd check into it, without actually thinking the whole thing through.  So she's not out of the running entirely, but the trainer isn't waiting around--she keeps re-listing him while waiting to see if this gal will pull the trigger (so to speak) or not.

So.  Back to the drawing board.

Trigger's trainer moved barns recently, and held an open house today, so of course I went out there to see her, the new place (officially--my last visit to see him was at the new place, too), and Trigger.

He was snug as a bug in a rug munching hay in a cozy stall (it had been bad weather yesterday and overnight, so she put him in a stall even though I'm technically only paying for pasture board).  I went in and petted and scratched him (he's been wearing his blanket the last few times I've visited, so it was nice to see and scratch him without it), and gave him a few treats.

Hi, Mom!

I checked out the rest of the property (it was getting dark last time I was there, so this was my first time REALLY seeing it), and Nathan found his way to the "Cowpoke Hall," which would be handy for un-mounted lessons and such, but also had a foosball table for the kids.

I saw a curly-haired horse.  If I remember right from when she first told me about him, he's only part Bakshir Curly, but certainly got the gene for the curly hair!

Check out the wavy hair on his neck and body

Those eyelashes, the crimpy mane and cool is he?
 In the process of standing around chatting, the trainer offered to ride Trigger for me, and I could video him so we'd have more video for potential buyers.  Neither of us thought to take video of her saddling him (even though apparently the Florida lady had asked for some--oops!), but we got quite a bit of video of her riding him in the indoor at all three gaits, an then of the untacking and putting away process.

And finally, a parting shot (well, from when he was tied up being untacked).  Isn't he pretty?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trigger Update

I went out to see Trigger again tonight, and was going to help the trainer/seller (she's helping me sell him) take a video of him, but she was running late from her day of barrel racing.  It was my first time visiting her new property, so it took me a bit (and the help of her husband and son) for me to find him on the vast property.  In fact, they have a couple of large barns, and one is older and empty, and walking through it in near pitch black was kind of like walking through an abandoned sanitarium or something.

Anyway, I did locate him, and it was nearly dusk, but I managed to get some photos that included both him and the moon, which was kind of cool.  I'd given him some treats, plus the food cart was making its rounds but he hadn't gotten his portion yet, so he was VERY interested in me.

HEEEEeeyy!  (Or should it be "Hay"?) 

Looking a little more serene here, though he was pacing and whinnying in between posing for me, between the hay wagon roaming the property and the other horses also pacing and whinnying.

I don't like jinxing it by talking about it before it goes down, but it hasn't helped to not talk about it beforehand in the past, so here goes.  There are currently TWO nibbles on the line--a woman in Florida wants to have him vetted ASAP, so the trainer will call a vet tomorrow.  If she can find a shipper, and he passes the vet check, she'll take him.  If that deal falls through, there's an endurance rider in Arizona that wants him (though not sure he'll want him if he doesn't pass the Florida buyer's vet check, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it).

While I did get him from a six-hour drive away from here, I find it absolutely crazy that people from so far away are willing to consider buying him sight-unseen.  I mean, he's a nice horse and all, but he's not registered, not pure Arab (for the endurance guy--not sure what the Florida gal plans to use him for), not a proven endurance horse, barely trained, and has barely been ridden in the past six months.  But hey, more power to them.  I just hope if one of these faraway people get him, that they get a GOOD shipper--I've heard horror stories...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Craigslist Follies

I was poking around on Craigslist, and saw a headline that made me wonder if the person doesn't speak English as a first language:

      Clubs and you wanted for horse riding and training clinics

The text of the ad:

[Name] is available for training lessons and sales. Do you want to excel suceed and become a great rider trainer for your money spent? See for yourself that [name] is one of the top riders trainers clinicians you will ever find from beginner to world class rider. We all know how many people think they are such great barrel racers reiners , western profesional trainers... ALL welcome who are honest and want to join a team to suceed by riding a great world champion producing system that you will know is [name]s [no apostrophe in the original] God given talent. Do the right thing and call today. Available for clinics lessons training and more! Older rider? Do you want your kid safe and riding great? Do you want your horse treated wonderfully nd trained to the highest levels possible? Trainer of National title horses in Appaloosa ,Paint, Quarter horse, Arabian and morgan. [Name] wants to train you!

There are a lot of links to the trainer's website, which is a scary-looking homemade site with just photos of horses he's supposedly trained.

The clincher, though, is the photo.  I know it convinces me that he's an expert (or even that he's the same person pictured in any of those photos).  Oh, and his name is a totally American-sounding name, so it doesn't explain why the only public mention of his skills, apparently, is in a foreign publication.  

Okay, different ad.  The description of the horse is nothing notable, but the photos leave a little to be desired:

A different ad, presumably the same seller.  Seriously, people, can you not SEE what the photo looks like when you post it?  Do you have cataracts and this is what you always see?

Someone is advertising that they have a blue-eyed buck (i.e. male goat), but these both look like does (i.e. female goats) to me.  Dontcha think?

Oh, here's a good one.  Yeah, good luck with that:

I am just starting out in my horse 4-H project, and I need a well trained mare or gelding that gets along with other horses, trained preferably English, and is 5-10 years of age. The horse must be 15+ hands and have a jumper build. I don't have much of an income, so i'll need the price to be under $1000.

This person wants a well-trained jumper horse for under $1,000.  Wonder how she'll be paying for the horse's upkeep and lessons and show fees on her limited income.  I looked on DreamHorse and within THREE HUNDRED miles and with her other search parameters, I got five results.  One is already sold (not sure for how much, but was listed at $1,000 including tack!), and the other four are leases or part leases, which is probably what this person should be looking into anyway, but of course (especially for the part lease) she'd need to look a little more locally than that.  :-)

Oh, man:

Free to good home to Parakeets. I bought them for my friends son and he couldnt take them back to montana! Also have a nice big cage for sale for 100.00 with all of the toys and food and extra parakeet items. birds must go together
Who buys LIVE animals for someone without making sure they'll be able to KEEP them?  Crazy!  Also, parakeets themselves are pretty cheap, so depending how nice the cage is (or isn't), this probably is a really crappy deal, considering you won't get to pick out the animals yourself.

Wow.  Seriously, people, if you can't figure it out yourself, borrow a friend to help you (a) spell, and (b) rotate your photos:

     Mini horse studd & through bread - $400

Through breed mare , great as a first horse great with children and teenagers. Won racing ribbons. Mini studd horse. Needs a little work. Both for $400.00 OBO

Oh, here we go again.  Unrideable horse, but want someone else to pay to feed it:

8 year old quarter horse. She is a very gentle horse. I can touch/brush her all over. She would be good for kids to pet/brush. Not sure on the ridding I would say no. I can catch her...getting better about that. She does fine once on lead line. Once caught she just stands there and lets you do whatever.
She can only be used as a pet for someone or a buddy for other animals.No ridding or breeding period.
Her leg seems to hurt her...she does alot of touch toe weight. However she is all over the pasture and can move if she wants too.
I have had her feet trimmed and wormed.
The farrier thinks she hurt her leg got a bone spur and arthritis has set in. The home she came from said she hurt it over a year ago...they were giving her bute.
Perfect situation for her would be to just be out in the pasture forever with a buddy/ or for kids to give her attention. Someone not worried about feeding another horse.

Maybe, and this is just a non-expert talking, you should get an actual VET to take a look at her, possibly X-ray her, and give you an actual diagnosis and prognosis.  If she's in pain and would need drugs to keep her feeling good, but in such copious quantities that it would cause other issues, maybe the kindest thing to do would be put her down.  If there's something you can do to make her actually rideable (even if it's slow walk-only trail rides), then do that and sell her to someone with full disclosure of her limitations, but at least fully read to do the job she is capable of.  Don't just pawn her off on people with a "think it might be" comment from the farrier and no other knowledge of what's wrong with her.

Okay, this is one I'm actually not going to bitch about.  This particular one is for all the people who say they can't keep weight on a thoroughbred or an older horse.  This is a 19--year-old TB, apparently:

Wow, these are GREAT conformation photos:

Humane Society

Even though it was Nathan's week with his dad, since we didn't do much at the Humane Society last weekend because it was so crowded, I picked him up today to go again.

The first thing we did was check on the dog Nathan and his dad, stepmom, and brother had looked at earlier to potentially adopt.  They had filled out the forms, but the HS needed to check with their landlord to verify they were allowed to have a dog.  Unfortunately, the dog got adopted before they reached the landlord (apparently they've been out of the office the entire past week).  That bummed Nathan out, but I think he saw the bright side--he'd actually been pushing for a cat instead of a dog, and now he had a chance to voice that opinion again.  :-)

We looked at the white board on which they list the cats that need their photo taken, and picked Smokey first.  Someone was in the process of putting him back in his cage, but he wanted to keep cuddling.  So I just took him directly from her.  She mentioned something about him only having three legs, and sure enough, he was missing a back leg.  He hopped a little awkwardly when chasing the laser pointer and/or feathers on a fishing pole, and he had a hard time balancing on just the one back leg when trying to reach up high, but it didn't dampen his personality AT ALL.  He was a total love.  Whenever we'd pet him, he'd shove his head into our hands, and raise his head to expose his neck so we could pet his favorite spot--his chin and neck.  In fact, when he got really into it, his leg stump started twitching like if he still had his leg, it would be kicking just like a dog.  Anyway, he was TOTALLY sweet.  Another one that I totally would have brought home if I could have.  On the bright side, a family was interested in him, and when Nathan and I left for the day, was actually filling out the forms in a visiting room with him, hoping to take him home.  Yay!

Here's Smokey:

Unfortunately, his nose is in focus instead of his eyes, but I still thought it was a cute photo.
The only other cat whose name was on the photo list and was also still present in the building was Justine--there were five cats on the list, but apparently the other three had been adopted during their "Black Furday" event (name your own price for any animal).  Justine had much less personality than Smokey, but was still a sweetheart.  There was another young volunteer (but a couple years older than Nathan), who she really seemed to get along with, so most of my photos have that girl's hand and/or arm in the photos.

Then we went into the kitten room for a bit, but there was only one kitten, and she was hiding, then some other volunteers were holding her, so we didn't really get a chance to cuddle her.  She was pretty stinkin' cute, though.  Her name (with unfortunate spelling provided by the Humane Society) is Sassafras.

Next we went into the other "cattery" (they have two rooms dedicated to housing cats, as opposed to the cats living in cages and only getting to visit a larger room when visiting with humans; one is for kittens and the other usually has two or three adult cats), and visited Lia and Fabio.  Lia was not very photogenic.  You know how some dogs look like they're always smiling?  I think some cats always look unhappy, even when they're not.  Lia was agreeable enough to us petting her and whatever, she just didn't LOOK happy.  (My own cat, Cookie, is a total sweetheart, but is not photogenic at all, either.)  Fabio, on the other hand, looked very handsome with his flowing locks.  :-)

This is Lia.

See what I mean?  She was actually purring.
And this is Fabio.

Lastly, we visited with Miss Romeo.  I have no idea why they named her that, but she was also a sweetheart.

And that concludes today's visit to the Humane Society.  I dropped Nathan back off at his dad's house, and thought I'd have to break the news about their potential dog being adopted already, but apparently they'd already figured it out by checking the website and seeing her disappear, and they're pretty ticked at the landlord for not being around.  Once the HS does reach the landlord, though, they'll be able to adopt or place a hold on an animal without waiting.  Hopefully they find a pet that's an even better fit for their family soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Orleans Photos - Travel

I took photos during the plane rides both directions (some just on my phone).

Taking off from Salt Lake City at sundown

About to land in New Orleans (from phone)
Also approaching New Orleans, from my real camera (this and the next two photos are from my camera--the others are all from my phone)

Ships in the Mississippi River as we're just seconds from landing

Getting close to Salt Lake City on the way home--lots of snow!
Not quite as much snow right in the city, but still a decent dusting
The taxi to the terminal showed that the airport, anyway, had more snow than it had looked like from the air

This is what the window at my seat looked like when I sat down.  Sure enough, they said we had to be de-iced, and it ended up delaying us an hour and 15 minutes or so.
There were two de-icing stations.  This was our view of the other airplane getting de-iced once we pulled up to our station.

Here comes one of our two de-icing trucks

Wonder what it's like to be that guy.  It's kind of like flying, but he's got to be very aware of where he is in relation to the plane so he doesn't hit it.

My window, mid-de-icing