Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Chapter Next: Oldenburgs?

As my chapter of life with the California Horse came to an end, a new chapter, with new horses, was beginning.  This new chapter overlaps a little, but really, it was in the early, early stages as I prepared for the departure of the California Horse. Interestingly enough, this chapter involves 5 horses, of various ages, all of whom are owned by (get this) a woman who moved to Michigan from California, and bought a horse farm.

What is it with the California theme?  I don't quite know how I fell into that.  I do know, however, that it has brought horses my way that are of a quality (and price tag) I previously did not have access to (and honestly didn't see how I could access).

In mid-July, an interesting and unexpected opportunity came my way via my veterinarian.  Said veterinarian has a client fairly new to horses, and even newer to farm ownership, who really, really needed some experienced guidance in the care and handling of her animals.  Said veterinarian was wondering, would I have the time and would I be brave enough to take on a challenge?

A horse challenge? Oh heck yeah, I love a horse challenge!

And so, a new chapter began.  A chapter with a gelding previously shown to 3rd Level (but out of work for roughly the past year and a half), two broodmares (both of whom who were started under saddle at some point in the past), and two sassy yearling fillies.  All of whom are registered Oldenburgs, a breed I had yet not encountered.

My task: to get the barn under control in terms of feeding, cleaning, and a regular health care schedule, as well as instill some manners into the yearlings and possibly if I have time, get the broodmares and gelding back into a regular work schedule.  All while teaching the owner all things caring for and handling horses safely.

My new crew

We are now about seven weeks in.  Things are shaping up.  The mares and gelding recognize and willingly respect authority. The yearlings are coming around.  One is a very alpha mare personality, so she and I have our trials--all of which I win, quietly and by perseverance as she is also a fighter personality and I don't want to invoke the fight reflex.  The other is more timid, but all ready looks to me for confidence in new situations.  I think both will go quite far as they continue to get consistent handling and little Miss Alpha learns to be second in command rather than a pushy boss.

For now, they have learned to lead in and out of their stalls and the barn rather than just running around like hellions when it's time to go in and out.  They stand for brushing, for fly spray, and allow me to handle all four feet.  They also got their feet trimmed recently, and stood, not quite like angels yet, but good enough that all eight feet got a proper trimming for the first time in a while and the same farrier is willing to come back and trim them again!  (Finding a farrier willing to take these youngsters on was an issue. . .)

These young girls, walking sedately away after being turned out.

It's definitely a challenge, but I'm having fun.  The horses are responding positively, and the owner is so thankful to have help and an experienced guide.  Win-win-win. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Back To Alaska!

DD2 is going back to Alaska!  She was along with us for the Alaska trip we took in 2017 that was part family reunion (hosted by DH's aunt & uncle who have since moved back to Oregon) and part "we always wanted to go to Alaska" vacation.

Wouldn't you know, that one of the places we visited on that trip, posted a job opening in July.  A job opening that DD2, newly degreed in Wildlife Ecology and Management, and with a summer 2018 internship in animal rehabilitation, decided she would apply for. She hoped to get an interview, but kind of doubted she would, being fairly fresh out of college and all.

Wasn't she surprised, the very next day, to get an email requesting an interview! Since she's in Michigan, and the job is in Alaska, they very much wanted to interview her via Skype.  They were booking interviews for several weeks out, so it was a bit of a wait for interview day.  Her nervousness grew.  She almost convinced herself that she couldn't possibly be who they were looking to hire.

Meanwhile, she researched that part of Alaska.  She'd been there, but that was in the summer.  She wanted to know about winter.  And what she found was that her four years of living in the U.P. during college had been great practice for what it would be like to live in Alaska in the winter.  In fact, the area of the U.P. her college is located is colder and snowier than the part of Alaska where the potential job is located.  The main difference would be the fewer hours of daylight in Alaska in the winter months.  She researched housing. She researched grocery stores. She researched industries for a potential second (part time) job in case she would need it to pad her budget what with student loan payments looming on the horizon by the start of winter and all.

When it was time for the interview, she aced it.  She was relaxed, she communicated well, she exuded confidence.  Less than a week later, they contacted her asking for a second interview. 

That interview also went well.  In fact, they mentioned on-site housing would be a possibility through the winter.  DD2 was both stoked, and worried about what to do if she should be offered the job.  In terms of duties and work environment, it was almost exactly her dream job for a first step in her career.  In terms of location, well, Alaska itself didn't intimidate her.  BUT, all her friends and family would be so far away.  No one to call on in an emergency.  And coming home would be probably just a once a year thing.  

Then the day came that her phone rang, and it was Alaska calling. To offer her the job. She asked for a few days to think about it.  After hanging up the phone, she danced in joy.  Then, later that evening, had a panic attack about leaving everyone she knows. Followed by another panic attack at the thought of passing up this dream opportunity.

Two days later, she called Alaska and accepted the job.  She's going to Alaska.  It's going to take a week of road tripping through Canada to get there, but she's moving to Alaska.  Bears and wolves and moose (all part of her new job), oh my!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Yarn Along: September

It's Yarn Along time again! I'm joining with Ginny to see what everyone has been reading and working on in the past month.

I finished the blue beachcomber shawl, but have to confess that I still haven't blocked it. Or taken a picture of it.  I really need to do both before I forget. September is looking like a busy month, and the shawl is intended for a birthday gift in early October.  Must remember to block and photograph.

I also finished sock #1 of my Christmas Eve socks. I really love how it turned out.  It's so soft and squishy, I can't wait to wear it.

Instead of casting on for sock #2 though, I cast on for the first of three sweaters I want to knit the grandkids for Christmas.  I promise I'm not having Second Sock Syndrome, I'm just exercising a lot of restraint and being a monogamous knitter until this first sweater is done.  It's the largest one I'm making, for K3, in a girls' size 8.  I have one sleeve and the neckband to do on it yet, then I will definitely cast on that second sock.

The pattern is Sunday Sweater, which is Ginny's own. It's really well written and super easy to follow.  I think I'll be finished with this project before the weekend is over.  Then I'll cast on Sock #2 of those Christmas Eve socks, as well as my next sweater project--pattern still TBD, but will be a boy's size 6. 

There is a long road trip coming up, and I think I can get both the second sock and the next sweater completed before returning home. Maybe even the third sweater, which, for Rascal, will be a tiny baby sweater in a size 6 months.  It's a really, really, long road trip.  One that deserves it's own post (teaser: DD2 was offered a cool job far, far away from Michigan).

Reading-wise, I haven't done much reading lately. I did read a couple of mysteries:

I enjoyed both; A Batter of Life and Death was a lighter read, and Breaking Silence more of a dark thriller.  Currently I am reading Get Lucky by Katherine Center although I'm not very far into it yet.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

An Unexpected Dream Come True

Once upon a time, there was a little girl whose parents held, briefly, season tickets to the local concert venue known as Pine Knob. That summer, those parents went to several concerts at Pine Knob, while the little girl and her younger brother stayed the nights of the concerts with their grandparents.

Actually, this is a true story.  Late summer, 1978.  The little girl was me.  I was six.  Bob Seger was my most favorite musician of all. I loved to listen to my parents' records, especially Bob Seger ones.  If they didn't want to listen to music, I would beg to be allowed to plug the headphones into the turntable and listen all by myself while everyone else watched TV or did other things.

One evening,my parents were going to Pine Knob to see Bob Seger.  I didn't know this until they dropped my brother and I off at our grandparents (whom we loved to spend the night with), and Grandma asked who was doing the concert that night.  Bob Seger, they told her. 

Bob Seger!  That changed everything. I did not want to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa.  I wanted to go see Bob Seger!  Those of you who are parents can imagine the scene that ensued: stubborn 6 year old girl not wanting her parents to go to the Bob Seger concert without her.

In fact, I still remember chasing my parents' car down the (not terribly busy) road beside Grandpa and Grandma's house, crying and yelling for them to come back and take me to the concert, Grandma running behind trying to catch me before another car came along and ran me over!!! You could say it was one of those events that leaves a lasting impression on a child's life.

Fast forward 41 years.  Historically, DH and I have not been concert goers.  Our lifestyle and budget hasn't included many live performances of anything, especially music, unless our children were the ones performing.  I can count on one hand how many 'real' concerts I've been to in my life.

Bob Seger went on tour again this year.  His final one, it seems (or, at least that's how it was billed, and at 74, you wonder how many concerts he has left to sing).  Did I want to go?  Badly.  Extremely badly. Did we have money to go? No.  This summer, this whole year actually, has seemed like one surprise financial challenge after another.  So I resigned myself that I would never see Bob Seger in concert.

But then something happened, that at the time seemed completely unrelated to concert going.  DH had an unusual work assignment that had him out of the country for nearly three weeks.  And there wasn't a whole lot of lead time to prep for it. Saying that I found this sudden (and, at the time, length undefined) departure traumatic would be an understatement. We're not talking a normal work trip that has him 2-3 time zones away for a week or maybe two. We're talking other side of the world, days and nights reversed, not sure when he'll be back or if we'll even be able to talk on the phone daily.

Well, we got through that.  Maybe someday I'll even write a post about the experience.  And once DH came back, and spent about four days recuperating (while maintaining his normal work day) from both the jet lag and the ungodly long work hours put in while in this other country, he found out he'd earned some extra special recognition at work.  Some sort of points redeemable for goods kind of thing.

Here's where these two seemingly unrelated stories blend. 

One of the options for points redemption was tickets to the concert venue DTE Energy Music Theater.  Formerly, in my childhood, known as Pine Knob. Can you guess where this is going?

YES!! DH and I went to the Bob Seger concert on our wedding anniversary in June!  For free!!  (Well, for a lot of those "you done good" points he'd gotten at work.)

We had awesome seats, the below picture was from where I stood, not even zoomed in. We were that close to the stage. 

I had just the most fantastic time. And a long held dream of mine came true. I might not be 6 (I'm 47), but for a while, I was a little girl watching her most favorite musician--he has always remained my #1-- on stage and listening to him sing (and me signing along) the songs of my youth. What an unexpected dream come true, in the strangest of plot twists.

I got to see Bob. At Pine Knob.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Chapter Ended

The California Horse has returned home.  Well, to his owner's parents, at least.  Not to California, where he originally came to Michigan from in May 2017, but to the farm in Oregon they had purchased since then.

After a little more than two years of leasing him, the time came to say goodbye.  I most definitely miss him.  Not just the daily routine we had, no it's more than that. I think that possibly I have felt a deeper connection with this horse than any of the ones I owned.

In the early morning hours last Wednesday, as the sun was rising, I met the horse shipper at the barn.  The California Horse's owner had made all the travel arrangements with them, I just needed to provide his paperwork for interstate travel, and have him and his gear ready to load onto the big trailer that would carry him away to his retirement out West.

This horse has offered me the chance to take my riding to a whole new level, and even as he was leaving, I again got a new experience: loading a horse onto a big horse van.  I was the one to lead him up that ramp on the side of the trailer, and stand with him while the stall partitions were put into place around him.  Other than snorting a little, and standing at attention with his head up, reminding me just how huge an 18 hand horse is, he was very good.

He waited patiently for everything to be secured, the ramp to be stowed, and the door shut.

Then the chapter where he and I share life together closed, and he left for the new chapter of his.

Goodbye, California Horse.  Thanks for the experiences, the knowledge and the memories I will carry with me forever!

(Post Script: I got a text, about 48 hours later, that he had arrived to Oregon safely and was settling into his new home.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Yarn Along: August; socks & socks & a shawl

Happy Yarn Along Day!  I'm excited to join Ginny for this month's Yarn Along.  For some reason, it just seems like it was forever since the July edition.

There's been several car trips for me in the past month, which means lots and lots of sock knitting.  Because socks are such an easy, portable project that fit (mostly) right in my lap, I can while away those hours as a passenger quite productively.

I finished the On The Fence socks I talked about last month.

And I so loved doing colorwork socks that I immediately found a new pattern and yarn combo for another pair.  Might be selfish, but I'm keeping both the On The Fence socks and my current project, Christmas Eve socks, for myself.  Kind of handy that the other female members of the family (K3 and my mother withstanding) have larger feet than me. So, if I want to keep a particular pair, I just don't knit any longer of a foot than I need my personal socks to be.  :0)  I do have another color combo of yarn in the wings for a second pair of Christmas Eve socks for someone else, if I have time to get them knit yet this year.

But for the ones that are mine, all mine, I am using two colorways of Knit Picks Stroll Tweed: dove heather and forest heather.  The colors are gorgeous together, better than what the photo makes them look.

I am nearly finished with the blue and grey Beachcomber Shawl that I mentioned in last month's yarn along post. I had started it, only to find I was using a size 6 needle rather than a size 8 (darn tiny numbers on those interchangeable tips!), so I ripped it out and started again with the correct size.  It's a very fast knit and I only have two rows of the final lace chart to complete, then it's on to the picot bind off!  

Once that is off the needles, I have in mind some grandchildren-sized sweaters to knit before Christmas.  I think I can get three little sweaters done. . . the biggest one will be a girl's size 8, and the smallest a 6-9 months. . . There's plenty of time to get them made, right? Plus finish my Christmas Eve socks, of course.  I find it's nice to have a "big needle" project and a pair of socks going at the same time.  You never know when you're going to need a portable project. ;0)

I read quite a bit this past month (also a by product of increased time in the passenger seat).  I finished the Fall of Giants that I was reading in July, then read Death on Tap as well as Meet Your Baker, both of which are fun mysteries by Ellie Alexander.  After that I read Wildflower Heart by Grace Greene, which was a good book but after the others it kind of fell flat with me.  Not on the same par.  So, I ordered up another Ken Follett book, Winter of the World, from the library, and read the vast majority of it over a (not very enjoyable) weekend camping/canoeing & kayaking trip with a group of people who, it turned out, like to sit around and do a whole lot of nothing while yapping about a whole lot of nothing.  Since I'm awful at sitting for any length of time without something the engage my hands and/or brain, and I have a low tolerance for mindless chatter, I read. Ended up finishing the giant Follett book in less than a week.  Rude of me?  Maybe.  But to me, not sticking to the plans and therefore missing out on 1/2 the time we'd planned to be on the water was rather rude.  Kayaking was the whole reason I had decided to go on the three day trip with this particular group.  Anyway. . .

How's your knitting and reading been?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Grandkids, Self-Serve Snacks

It's been a busy summer.  We've had the grandkids a few times in the last month, and they always seem to be looking for what yummy treasures might be growing at this little place here.  With a little help from DH (getting the tractor out and positioned for them), and a little ingenuity of their own, K3 and Toad have snacked on cherries and mulberries.  They didn't seem to mind that it took a lot of time to pick them and not much time to eat them, it was the quest to reach the fruit that they enjoyed most of all.

cherry pickers

mulberry pickers with an 'elevator'

mulberry pickers testing their balance 
(K3 was able to stack 3 crates high and climb on & off without falling)