Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bridge, Art and Sheepdogs

What do bridge (the card game), art and sheepdogs have in common?  

It reminds me of those impossible ACT questions:
Car is to canoe as horse is to _______. 

But it's an example of how strangely varied 
one of my average days can be.

I went for a walk in the woods in the morning,
did some laundry, wrote some emails
and started doing the weekly house cleaning.
Boring normal stuff.

Then it was off to Pat's house for a game of ladies bridge.  
A fun three hours with some dear friends.

I left Pats and headed home followed by Barb 
who was in slavedriver mode.

I've been putting off unpacking the last 40 or so boxes 
which contain all of our artwork.
Artwork is a VERY grand term 
BTW for pieces that are mostly prints such as 354 out of 4,000!

Barb had finally had enough of our bare walls 
(yes after 4.5 months, they're still totally bare)
and decided that I needed help and a friendly shove into gear. 
So we gabbed and visited 
while we unpacked boxes together for several hours.

Time for the sheepdog part of the title!
Donald McCaig who wrote Nop's Trials 
and many other books, 
was speaking as one of the Friends of the Library talks that evening.

He spoke more from a dog trainer point of view than writer.  
Almost made me want to get out there and start working with Atta
or begin teaching obedience classes again.....
I said "almost"!

I stood in line for a signature on his latest book "Mr. and Mrs. Dog" 
and we talked for a minute about Dick Russell 
since I knew that they'd been acquainted.

Then it was home for a late dinner with Joe.
Like I said, it was an ordinary day.  
But even the ordinary days seem special to me. 

Is there a rule that blog posts have to have photos?  

Because I didn't shot photos at either bridge, 
during the unpacking, 
or at the lecture!

oh alright I'll throw one in... here's one I took in Louisiana last winter:

The Eye of the Donkey  (Ada's donkey)

Now the post could be called Bridge, Art, Sheepdogs and Donkeys?
And they really have nothing at all in common!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Virginia Horse Trials Part Two

Cross Country judging continued.....

I was wearing a fleece most of the day (yes, a fleece in May!), 
and I was watching horses for ten hours.
Seriously, how perfect can a Saturday be??!!

Beginning at 8AM the 300 (!!!!) horses 
began running the courses,
leaving the start box at 3 minute intervals.

The majority of the time all went well:
I simply scored a Zero penalty on the official score sheet
and radioed in that "Horse Number XX went clear at Jump XX."

It doesn't matter whether the jump is brushed or knocked (unlike in show jumping);
however, they get penalty points if they refuse 
i.e. stop, veer to the side, circle before the jump etc.
Three refusals over the entire course means disqualification, 
as does a single fall even if the rider pops right back up 
and could otherwise continue on.
Taking jumps in the wrong order is also a disqualification.  
Remember that this is timed "race"
(speed combined with lack of penalties determines the winner)
over a couple of miles 
with about 24 jumps weaving willy nilly across fields and patches of woods.... 
Every course is totally different too!

I had a difficult time finding where I was supposed to go
and I was driving around in the Xterra with a map in my hand!

But only ONE rider went off course and out of order,
and he was a dual gold Olympian in the sport!  

My first jump was this one where the horse went up the bank (A)
and then immediately over the log (B).
If the horse got up on the bank and came to a halt (penalty/refusal), 
there was no way to circle and re-approach, 
so the log that you see in the far background was Option C 
which could be jumped in order to continue the course.
I didn't dare take any action photos here 
since I needed to concentrate on what was happening...
and yes there were some refusals up on the bank!

Between horses it was quiet with swallows swooping in the tall grass
and the grass waving in the gentle breeze.
I could sometimes look over at a nearby jump to catch the action there
But then every 2-3 minutes 
there would be the thundering of hooves approaching my jump
and I'd get to see....

It was a day to remember!
It's always fun to learn something new!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Virginia Horse Trials Part One

The Virginia Horse Center has something happening almost every weekend.
It's not limited to horse events
but it's paradise for people who compete in horse shows!

It has a 4,000 seat coliseum as well as 2 other indoor arenas,
19 show rings, 8 barns and much more.

And although it's only about 1/2 mile down the road 
from hotels and Wal-Mart, 
it's surrounded by 600 acres of land 
for cross country courses, trail events and carriage driving.

Yes, go ahead and hate me.... 
that big building you see in the photo below is our Wal-Mart.
Even the Wal-Mart is scenic (sort of!)
View Into Town from the Oak Hill Cross Country Course
This weekend was the Virginia Horse Trials "Three Day Eventing" Competition.
 Each horse/rider team competes in all three events over the weekend:
Dressage, Cross Country and Stadium Jumping.
Looking Across the Afternoon Course
In a moment of insanity,
I volunteered to be a "jump judge" for the cross country.
I say insanity, because I knew zero, zip, na-da about
cross country jumping!
Don't you always wonder
when someone tells you that you don't need to know anything to help out,
whether they really mean it?!

Thankfully I was emailed a link to a four page summary of what to do,
because the VERY brief 10 minute "training" on Saturday AM
assumed that I knew much much more than I did!
My Final Set of Jumps to Judge
The courses were each about 2-3 miles long,
so volunteers are needed to be "eyes" of the event,
helping in case of trouble on the course and 
and scoring refusals, missed jumps and falls.

So armed with a clipboard, forms, pens, map, stopwatch and whistle,
I judged four different jumps on four courses throughout the day.

Continued tomorrow!......

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Seeing and Finally Understanding!

Back when I posted about setting up the roll top desk,
I wonder if anybody noticed the little "men" on the top?

They've been around for as long as I can remember;
so I guess that means they're from at least the 50's.
 I've got no idea of their history or origin....
They were always on a shelf somewhere
and I never gave them a second thought.

I came a cats whisker away from selling them at a garage sale
before my mother moved to the retirement community.

I'm ashamed that it took me almost 50 years to understand them.

I was debating about how much to ask for the odd little guys...
.25 cents?
And it hit me....

I got it!

I understood what they were saying!!

Take a long look.

They've each got the same load to carry.


But one choses to wear it on his back.
And has merry eyes and a cheerful grin.

But the other fellow?
The one who's wearing his burden 
like a yoke around his neck....
What a sad sack!

I'm so glad I didn't send them to the garage sale.
There's something about the face of my red-hatted friend on the left
that makes me smile right along with him.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Guest Room was Busy!

When we designed the house with an oversized guest suite downstairs, 
I said that I hoped for a constant "revolving door" stream of friends coming to visit.

Last month I finally got my wish 
when friends and family came to visit ....
one right after the other!
April was awesome!

First to come and try out the downstairs digs 
were Asher and Chris 
who drove down from Manhattan for a long weekend.

Asher got to play tour guide around his old college town and campus
and we peppered Chris with a million questions 
as we try to get to know him better.
He held up fine!  :)

Next to arrive were Brenda and Charles from Louisiana!  

The Artists Studio Tour was that weekend....

I think Brenda and Joe may have shopped at the same store for their caps!

Joe got caught up on the business scene in Baton Rouge 
and it was a total delight to tour them around the county showing things off!  

Paige made the flight from Louisiana next!!
Trees were blooming and she was here for Garden Tour weekend.

Despite getting several tick bites (one of which got infected!) 
when I took her exploring in our woods, 
she says she's coming back!  

I hated to put her on the plane when it was time for her to go home.  

It's been a quiet few weeks down in the guest room....
Who's coming next??  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Remember Me?

Yes, I'm still alive.

Not carried away by a flock of passenger pigeons.

No computer failures, illnesses or life crises.

I've thought about the blog almost every day, 
but never kicked myself into gear sit down and write.

We've had great fun with company (more on that in a later post), 
started riding the horses again after a nine month hiatus
and of course are still dragging along with trying to get the house completed.  

Two weeks ago we popped the cork on a bottle of champagne
and celebrated with friends Barb and Rich 
with a feast beside the outdoor fireplace.

All you suffering Louisianans notice that we're wearing light sweaters in May!!  Hoorah!

So other than the glorious weather,
what were we celebrating?

We finally got approved for our Certificate of Occupancy!  

Yes, we've been "illegally" living in the house since the first of the year.

Do you think it took long enough to get our CO? 

Almost exactly two years after construction began 
and 5 months after we moved out of the horse trailer and into the house. 

We've still got loads to do to actually get the house completed
but according to the powers that be, 
we're in a livable house!

Blogging, construction.... 
Things move slowly here in Rockbridge County.  :)