Friday, November 13, 2009

the end (or, spider bite - my heiny!)

And, no, a spider did not bite my heiny. In fact, a spider didn't bite me at all.

Turns out that facial tingling and swelling which I attributed to a bug bite in the last post is actually shingles. Ever gotten it? DON'T. It's a painful nightmare that first had me resembling the love child of Barbara Streisand and Quasimodo and more recently (i.e. this morning) had me looking like I'd gotten in a barfight with several sailors. I have to be cloistered away, and I'm on heavy-duty meds that give me splitting headaches on top of all the other loveliness.

This is all to say that, if you had chickenpox as a kid, the virus never fully went away; it just went dormant. Which means you are a candidate for having that nasty virus wake from its slumber when triggered by - oh, I don't know - stress, or a cold. Which is also to say that I wish I'd gotten the shingles vaccine, as I've been thinking about doing so for a few years.

So, what's the upshot? Well, for one, I'm shutting down the blog, Folks. If this nasty bout has taught me anything it's that I've been stretched way to thin for way too long, and a re-ordering of priorities is sorely in order. I'll be focusing on my kids, my peeps/fam/homeboy/homegirls, my paying gigs and my non-blog writing, all of which could use more of my attention, anyway.

It's been a good run, and I've had lots of fun blogging the ups and downs of rural life, riding, writing, etc. I'm not going to pull the blog off the Net at this point, and I may even pop in now and then to post an update or two. No promises of regular blogging, though.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Trails!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

halloween and stomach flu and spider bites, oh my!

I've been dealing with all of the above lately (some of which were fun (i.e. birthday parties and trick-or-treating) and some of which were not-so-much (i.e. the circulating stomach flu and the recent arachnidian attack on my face while I slept, resulting in swelling and numbness and general sinus-related misery). Oh, yeah, there's been major soap production in the mix as well, with more to come.

Makes me kind of long for the quietude/boredom of mid-winter snow days. Good thing various people recommend stuff like this now and then to keep my smile-o-meter in the black:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cranberry Fig winner!

Myrrh is the winner of the Cranberry Fig bar. Congrats, Girl!

Posting on the blog will be light for a while (heck, it HAS been light for a while already). Reasons? I'm in major soaping/work mode, and October is a major birthday month to boot. Has anyone else noticed this? I've been in birthday mode, too, for the past few weeks, and I have another party to throw this weekend - on Halloween day, no less. It should be mucho fun, though, so see all those kidlets running around in their costumes. Last weekend it was an adult's birthday party I threw, so it's time to switch gears a bit. I think we'll avoid bobbing for apples, what with the nasty swine flu season and all. We may even have snow, which would almost make it like Christmas and Halloween combined.

See ya in the shake of a black cat's tail!

Friday, October 16, 2009

friday soap giveaway and cucumber melon winner!

Our soap winner for the Cucumber Melon bar is...(drum roll, please)...

Haley Rae - a prolific young blogger and commenter if there ever was one. Congrats, Haley! Send me your address via email, and I'll get this bar in the mail to ya.

There are only two more comments needed for the Cranberry Fig bar to find its forever home, so if you haven't commented on that giveaway, be sure to do it now!


Today's Friday Soap Giveaway bar is Floral Fiesta!

I seem to be on a bit of a spring thing. Perhaps it's denial of the cold weather. I don't know why that would be, though, since I do love fall. Ah, well. Regardless, I've noted on the labels of these bars that they are "Ginger-Lime and Wildflower-Scented" - a pretty, heavenly blend if there ever was one. Plus, I figure we'll all be inundated with holiday-themed stuff soon enough, so why not enjoy normalcy while we still can?

To have a chance at winning this bar, leave a comment telling what you plan to do and/or be for Halloween. Happy Friday, Everyone!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

okay, Dad. time to blow out those candles...

Here's an almost-too-cute birthday video someone created, and I'm posting it here for one of the most special men in my life - my Dad! It's from him that I inherited my Scottish frugality (shall we just make it easy and call it cheapness? Actually, I have to edit this to say that, while Dad has been chided for this classic Scottish trait for decades, those closest to him know he's one of the most generous people you'll find anywhere) as well as my stubborn streak (some might call it a wide swath). I also inherited his nose and his forehead. But not the blonde hair. I didn't inherit that. I won't disclose his age as of today, but let's just say it's impressive. lol. Good thing I live far away, so he can't swat me.

I hope you had the happiest of days, Dad! Love, Nicole

modern smokey (or maybe percy?)

Have you heard this guy? I did for the first time the other day and felt compelled to share. I love new discoveries, even if they're old for everyone else.


Friday, October 09, 2009

the twin fire & friday soap giveaway

Last weekend, parts of the city of Williams (aka "Gateway to the Grand Canyon") were evacuated due to a prescribed forest burn that got out of control. The Twin Fire was finally contained when it reached about 1,000 acres, but it was a little dicey there for a while. Part of the price of being surrounded by National Forest is the possibility of fire danger. On the way to son's soccer game in the Old Route 66 town of Seligman, we drove through this:

...and on the way home we drove through this:

I wish I'd had my camera with me when we were in town and saw the slurry bombers flying overhead and the helicopters sucking up water from the nearby reservoir to drop on the flames. The local Williams/Grand Canyon News had some good pictures of the choppers, though. At night, the smoke was thick and heavy in the air. This was the view from my front door:

...and this was the view from the back:
Those dastardly forest fires sure do pretty up the sky.

So, on to the Friday Soap Giveaway. Fall is here in all its glory, and I don't know about you, but around here at Writer/Rider central, preparations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and various fall birthdays are in full swing. Seems like pumpkins, cranberries, warm spices and all things orange, black and purple are constantly on my mind lately. So, here's one of my top sellers being offered for the giveaway - Cranberry Fig:

Wanna join the ranks of previous soap winners whose mail smelled reeeeeealllly good the day their bars arrived? Simply leave a comment telling me what kinds of things you'd like to see more of here on the AWAAR blog. Remember, there need to be at least six comments from different readers in order for the bar to get sent.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

falling leaves soap winner!

The winner of the Falling Leaves bar (finally!) Is Krystal! So, Krystal, if you're checking in, email me at bearkhat-at-aol-dot-com with your mailing address. Congrats! And, don't forget, People...there need to be six comments from different users on the soap giveaway post for a winner to be picked.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

at last (or, tying up the ends of a dream)

Okay, where to start. I've got a lot to say today, and I guess I finally have the time and space to say it.

So, I've mentioned before on this blog that a lot has happened in my life and in the lives of my kids in the past year-and-a-half. Big, life-changing stuff that started off feeling like everything that mattered inside and outside myself was dying and ended up being sort of that, but also something completely opposite. Yes, there have been many endings, but there have also been many beginnings - all part of Life's bigger picture, I suppose. But even as things got better in general, there were still lots of loose ends to tie up. Legal loose ends, financial loose ends, practical loose ends, emotional loose ends.

And to top it all off, my horse wasn't with me.

Doesn't sound like a big deal to most people, probably, but I've had Zzari for going on 21 years, and he's been through more good, bad and ugly with me than anyone else outside of my family and closest friends.

Then, I bought a house in the country with enough room for a horse or two. But then this little, PMS-ey tornado decided to pay us a visit after we'd only been here for about a month, taking out the horse shelter and nothing else (thankfully).

So, I decided to cowgirl up, put on my big girl panties, take the bull by the horns...I think you're following me. I decided to rebuild (well, I actually decided to have someone else rebuild for me - minor details). So, I found a contractor with a nice horse shelter portfolio and started the convo. And the morning I looked out my window just after daybreak and saw this...

...was a good morning indeed. But that wasn't the best part, not yet. It wasn't too long before the materials showed up...

...and then things really started rolling along. It still wasn't the best part, though.

Sigh. I love the sound of drills and hammers in the morning. Especially when I'm not the one trying to use them. I have been known to throw together a fairly mean chicken coop, however. Not pretty, perhaps, but mean - definitely mean.

By the way, if you live anywhere between Phoenix and Flagstaff and are in need of a horse shelter, I'll give you this guy's name along with a hearty recommendation. Anyway, the day finally came when I walked out into the horse pasture and found this waiting for me:

And it was good. But it still wasn't the best part, and it still wasn't finished. I mean, according to the county inspector it was finished, but not according to me. It still needed to have corral panels attached, which meant I had to get to work with some heavy gauge wire I had in the shed, some t-posts and a heavy t-post driver borrowed from a friend. I used my grandpa's tools during this process, because they're old, tough and American made. He even etched his name on them back in the day.
And that was almost the best part, because I loved my grandpa in a way I'll probably never love another human being. I loved the fact that he got to be a part of bringing Zzari home in some small way. He died when I was sixteen, but here he is a few years before that, spoiling my first horse, an old Appy girl named Sugar, after I'd ridden her in the local 4th of July parade:

So, I got the corral panels put up as a temporary home for Zzari until I could get some more permanent fencing put up (hopefully before winter). And not too long after that, I stepped out onto the front steps with my camera and captured this coming down the road toward home:

You know how some unemployed folks say they're "between jobs?" Well, I'm between horse trailers, so a local cowboy/farrier/all around good guy brought Zzari back to me.
And seeing that trailer coming down the road? It was sweetness itself, but it still wasn't the best part.
The next morning, just after sunrise, I opened up the back door and heard my boy whinny to me for the first time in well over a year: Mom! I'm hungry!

And that, my friends, was the best part of all.

P.S. Here's what played on the radio while I was working on this post. I borrowed the parenthetical part of the title from one of the great lines from this song.

P.P.S. I want to thank a very dear friend for welcoming Zzari into her herd and her exclusive horse spa for the past year-plus. Maiden, you're the best.

Friday, October 02, 2009

friday soap giveaway: cucumber melon

In honor of this morning, pre-sunrise, when I went out to feed my horse (yes, my boy is home again - wheeeeeeeeee! (more about that later)) and found the first ice of the year in his water bucket, I proudly offer my most summery, warm-weathery, couldn't-be-less-winter-like soap for the Friday Soap Giveaway:

I've recently re-designed these bars after a customer requested them as part of a larger order. The fragrance is the same as always - classic Cuke/Melon combo - but the bars are now a ripe, delicious cantaloupe color with cucumber-green swirls (which, for some reason, are not registering well in the photo, even after I played around with hue and saturation in PhotoShop to get the most accurate color representation possible).

To win a bar of this little slice of warm weather, simply leave a comment for this post, telling us all about what the changing of the seasons looks like now where you live. Remember, I won't mail the bar until there are at least six comments, because I'm stubborn that way.

Oh - there aren't quite enough comments for the Falling Leaves bar yet, so be sure to go comment there, too!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

small things

Noting the crumpled state of her homework after school lately, I offered Daughter a deal: Come home with your homework nice and neat in its folder, and you'll get a special treat. I don't care if she's supposed to do this without being asked; I'm a huge fan of bribery. Alas, she proudly opened her backpack as soon as she got off the bus to show me how tidy everything was. So, she got her treat:

Wish I could say these peanut butter cookies were homemade, but no - store bought and pre-cut. All I had to do was bake 'em. My mom used to make the most AMAZING peanut butter cookies from scratch, and she'd always add a little design on each one with the tines of a fork. I'll have to get the recipe from her.

Today I paid a visit to my favorite local thrift store, where I found a cat carrier that would have come in very handy week-before-last when Rosa developed a post-spay UTI and had to go back to the vet. Now we have one just in case, and it only cost a few bucks! I picked up the chairs, too. We've been needing some extras for when company comes over, and the kids are looking forward to customizing these with some bright acrylic paints. That way, they can each have one for sitting and putting on their shoes in the morning, setting their backpacks on in the afternoon, etc. Plus, I think the chairs will make the foyer look very homey and folksy. I'll post a picture when they're done.

Let's see. I recently traded soap for some hollyhock seeds, so those will go in the ground this weekend. The neighbor who has the seeds is a master gardener, so I've also been hitting her up for advice on what kinds of trees to plant in front of the house and how to stop the local prairie dogs from feasting on the roots. I'll post a picture of the hollyhock experiment results next year. (I did mention that I have a black thumb, right?)

The new horse shelter is coming along, though there have been a few hold-ups between my contractor dealing with the county, footer cement that doesn't want to dry quickly enough, etc. I'm hoping most if not all of it will go up tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

calgon, take me away

This weekend, in a fit of winterizing, The Boy and I took this:

...and turned it into this:

I know, I know. You're terribly impressed. You're thinking, Oooooooooooo.

That's a heat lamp and a sled on the back wall, so you know we were serious. I even built a mini-stack, mainly because I was too plum tuckered to carry the last of the wood into the shed:

It was not an easy task peeling myself from the bed this morning, let me tell you. But, after a mug full of bracing "cowboy strength" coffee and a little Mary J on the radio (don't need no hateration, yo) while driving the kids to the bus stop, I was good to go.
Oh, be sure to go comment on the soap giveaway post (the one under this one), so I can get that bar in the mail!

Friday, September 18, 2009

friday soap giveaway: the return

As promised, I have decided to officially reinstate the Friday Soap Giveaways here at AWAAR. There's going to be a bit of a change in the ground rules, though. In order for the giveaway to work each week, there must be at least six comments by different readers in the comments section of each giveaway post. This will, hopefully, prevent bars from constantly going to the the same two people (I'm talking to you, Maiden and Ken). Do be sure to let me know if you're having trouble commenting, or if the process just seems too laborious to make it worth your time.

Oh! I've opened my Etsy shop, too, so go check it out. There you can behold a picture of yours truly in the mid-1970's in my Brownie uniform and all my buck-toothed glory. In fact, go check out Etsy in general if you haven't done so lately. It's chock-full of cool creations by all sorts of amazing artists!

This week's giveaway bar celebrates two things: 1) The opening of my Etsy shop (it's the first type of soap I listed); and 2) The coming of the autumnal equinox, which happens in just four days (squeee! I love fall!). Here's what's up for grabs:

Interested? To play, simply leave a comment on this post describing one of your favorite fall memories.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

on being crafty

There's a conversation I've had with artisans, crafters and artists over the years, and it goes something like this: How do you create, market and sell handmade items in a market that is so often flooded with repeats of the same things (I'm looking directly at you, tole painters)? Is it a matter of trying to find and make something nobody's ever done before, or is it more a matter of having your own take on things, your own "look?" I cast my vote for the latter, personally.

I was having this conversation again today, probably since craft show season is upon us and I'm getting back into soap production. Somehow, despite the popularity of soap making just about everywhere, I've managed to do pretty well with the soaps over the years. They're a fun, creative outlet for me, and I do love making something that other people find useful, enjoyable and for which they're willing to pay me money to boot.

With this in mind, I finally opened an Etsy shop, and I'll link to it as soon as I have more items listed (I'm a bit shy at the moment with my one bar of soap hanging out there in EtsyLand). Various people have been telling me to do this for a while, and I guess there's no time like the present - especially since one of my main holiday craft shows won't be held this year.

Oh, look for the return of the Friday soap giveaway, too - maybe as soon as this week. I've been revamping my labeling technique and working with some new color and fragrance combos, so I should have some interesting offerings.

Friday, September 11, 2009

what I remember

I remember signing on to AOL, which was my main source of morning news at the time, since we didn't get cable out on the prairie and weren't set up for satellite. I remember seeing the picture of two really tall skyscrapers in NYC, one of them emitting an enormous plume of black smoke. I remember seeing the headline: America Under Attack, and thinking little more than, Huh?

I remember doing a quick brain calendar check to make sure it wasn't April Fool's Day. But it wasn't: It was September 11th. I must have read the breaking news story and then gone into the kitchen and turned on the little counter radio. I must have called my family and then checked on my son, who was a toddler by then. Those minutes immediately after getting my bearings and starting to understand just what that headline meant are a little foggy. Probably because the information was still foggy at that point. I do remember wondering, "Is it an American who did this?"

A few hours later, the death toll was estimated at up to 20,000 between the collapse of the two towers and the Pentagon crash. From my family in the Bay Area there was talk of the Golden Gate Bridge being shut down, and of armed security everywhere. I stopped at the main Interstate truck stop in our area on my way to the Flagstaff Riding Center, which was managed by some horse trainer friends and clients at the time. It's also right near the Navajo Army Depot, the entrance of which was under heavy guard. A group of Middle-Eastern men was standing in the parking lot of the truck stop having an animated discussion, and I remember the red flags going up: By then, I'd heard the new name Al Qaeda on the radio at least half a dozen times. I'd heard the reporters talk about someone I'd never heard about, someone named Osama Bin Laden. I also remember thinking about all the Persian and Arabic friends I've had over the decades and wondering what it must be like to suddenly and out-of-the-blue be a source of concern and suspicion.

That day was a rude awakening. It was a hard lesson in shock and disbelief, followed by a sense of national fellowship and grief, followed by a national tearing asunder as the political and racial divisions began. It was too much to take in all at once. In some ways, I find that it is still too much to take in. And I was insulated. I was safe all the way across the country as the events unfolded. I didn't lose anybody that day. Today, my heart goes out to all those who can't say the same.

What do you remember?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

an abundance of plums

Plums are in season right now, and I had a lot of plums yesterday. Too many, really. An overabundance of plums is what it was.

So, I decided to do something. I decided to take control of the situation. I went online and found the recipe for something called a Rustic Plum Tart on Then I made some pastry dough.

I love making pastry dough. There's something so homey and simple about it. I once wrote a line in a novel about Willie Nelson and "that voice of his which was all man, but also as comforting as someone’s big-bosomed grandmother with freckles on her arms and pastry dough stuck to her fingers." That's how much I like pastry dough (and Willie). And I've been waiting a long, long time to unpack my pastry cloth and rolling pin and finally put them to good use. The plums gave me the perfect excuse to do just that.

After I'd mixed the sliced plums with sugar, cinnamon and ginger, there were concentric circles to make, and much folding to do at somewhat careful angles. It was like plum geometry, and I was never much good at geometry. Also, I definitely managed to put the "R" in "Rustic."

But, oh, it smelled so good as it baked. Apparently, some random critter thought so, too, because doesn't it look like a little mouse or something (something like a blogger with the munchies, perhaps) got a little too into sampling the result with its little, bloggy fingers?

In fact, it smelled, looked and tasted so good that when daughter and her BFF got off the school bus, they were most interested in helping me use up the rest of the plum/sugar/cinnamon/ginger mixture. So, we made a second tart, which went home with BFF when her dad came to pick her up.

Here's the sunset we saw from the front yard after they drove away and before we dove into tart #1, decimating half of it in one fell swoop.

Sadly, this morning I woke up with a head cold. The good news is there is still half of a rustic plum tart sitting on the counter. And plums have lots of vitamin C, right?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

not a g-rated post

So, the cat's in heat. Which means she's snaking around the house, crouched down on all fours like a new Marine recruit doing that thing where they have to hit the dirt and go under all those wires on their bellies. Also, she pretty much sounds like Ethel Merman undergoing an invasive dental procedure without anesthesia ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

And before you jump all over me for not getting her spayed, she has an appointment next week (which may now have to be postponed because of the raging hormones). The vet actually wouldn't spay Rosa when we first adopted her, because her little, um...kitty titties?...were still too swollen from nursing (the cat's, not the vet's).


Aside from the kids going, "Mom, why is she doing that?" and aside from trying to remove from my head the image of something called the "Q-Tip technique" (which I read about on a feline chat thread about how to calm a cat in heat), this is what my life looks like at the moment:

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"I'm thinking how happy I am."

After many, many years, I have re-watched a movie that I will always consider one of my very favorites: The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I loved Kundera's novel when I read it as an undergraduate, and I loved the movie the first time I saw it during that same period.

I remember, as an early twenty-something, seeing the movie through the lens of possibility and eros. There was some sadness, yes, but mainly the story struck me as one of relationships between daring artists and thinkers.

This time I saw it through a different lens. This time, I saw it through the lens of understanding just how long - and how filled with fear and sorrow - the road leading to a single moment of grace can be.

And how that single moment is always, always, worth it.

Monday, September 07, 2009

our crazy, crafty, creative labor day weekend

Like a horse moved to a new barn, or a dog rescued from a shelter and taken to a strange house, I think I've been in the process of realizing that this little, postage-stamp-sized farmstead on the mountain is Home. I'm pretty sure this process started happening back at the end of June, when it looked like escrow was actually going to close without too much of a hitch. And I'm pretty sure that a new part of this process - maybe the final part - happened during this long Labor Day weekend, which we kicked off by going to the Fair - an inevitably and creatively sensual experience that must have dislodged something that's been stuck for a while way down in my psyche. Friday night we were all exhausted, but on Saturday we decided to bake a double batch of Tollhouse cookies:

Why, yes, that IS a Siamese cat sleeping in the background, completely unimpressed by our culinary endeavors. Want proof?

On Sunday, one of the kids started talking about what kinds of plants we might enter in the Fair next year, so "Come with me," I said. I told them that I'd been eyeballing the property, trying to come up with the best place to plant a garden. The spot I tentatively chose has southern and eastern exposure, but it's blocked on the west and the north. It's where the entrance to the crawlspace is located, and our big, steel water cistern is buried nearby, too, so there's no chance we'll put a deck or other addition there. Plus, the previous owners left some heavy duty steel "planters" buried in the ground, and I figure those could come in handy for growing herbs. Right now, the spot is weedy and untended, but give us the winter to dream up our garden wish list and the spring to build raised beds, and there's no telling what kind of life we might breathe into that patch of ground:

I told the kids we could actually get started on the garden now, despite the fact that we'll soon be heading into fall and the already short northern Arizona growing season is getting close to being over. They were all excited, until I told son to grab the wheelbarrow and follow me and daughter while we walked the property and tossed as many old, dried out cow pies in as we could find (our land is on open range, and apparently, the last owners didn't close the front gate. Bovine visitors were clearly abundant). Actually, it didn't take the kids long to get excited even about that. It's amazing how fun it can be to collect petrified cow crap. Try it sometime. Afterward, we dumped the patties on the space I'd built for our compost pile. I used a bunch of cinderblocks that were left over after the little horse barn blew away in that rogue tornado:

Throughout the day, daughter would ask if I had anything that she could throw on the pile. Such a little Earth Girl. Go figure.

Today, we'd hardly gotten up and eaten breakfast before the creative urges struck again. It started with a big bag of apples that's been sitting on my counter all week, threatening to become compost fodder if I didn't do something quick. So, with the kids' help in the mashing phase, I batched up a quick pot of homemade apple sauce to serve with chicken sausage and my favorite Trader Joe's Basmati rice blend topped with mushroom sauce for dinner:

Have you ever done this? It's the easiest thing in the world! Four ingredients: Apples, water, sugar and cinnamon. Take a few minutes to peel and core the apples, cut them into quarters, boil all the ingredients together for a while, cool 'em down and mash 'em. Voila! Warm, homemade applesauce with an amazing taste and texture that will leave you feeling a little bummed out the next time you have to use storebought.

We even held back the peels and rings to dry for this year's Homemade Christmas:

I did mention that I was basically Martha on roids this weekend, right? Lizzie was as unimpressed as the cat. That's daughter's abandoned apron and son's abandoned artwork on the floor:

I was willing to overlook the increasingly daunting mess, though, since just about every time I checked on the kids, both of them were feverishly working on stories and pictures and even paper sculpture creations like this cat/kitten/bird/egg/watermelon/garden combo created by daughter:

I don't know what the heck was in the water around here for the past few days, but whatever it was...give me more.

Friday, September 04, 2009

fair's fair

The 60th annual Coconino County Fair is in town, and today was the official "school day," where all school-aged kids (and their teachers, chaperons, etc.) get in free. I volunteered to help chaperon first grade, and it was big fun. Well, for the most part it was big fun. By the time we hit the poultry barn it started to pour, so our group made several passes by all the cool chickens. I was, of course, especially drawn to the Silkies, which will always be my first "poultry love." I may finally be getting over the loss of my flock last year enough to think about re-flocking. This time (probably not until spring, when the Easter chicks hit the feed store in town), I'd like to add Americaunas and maybe some Rhode Island Reds to the mix, since both are supposed to be great layers. Silkie eggs are yummy, but they're small, and it would be good to have regular and large-sized fresh eggs next summer. Of course, I'll have to build my coop first.

I always love touring the Home Ec. building, too. In past years I've entered things like soap and fudge in the fair, and I was inspired by the cookies and cakes this year. I'd also like to think I will finally plant a garden again, now that we're getting settled in the new place, so I can maybe enter some herbs, tomatoes and pumpkins. Alas, though, that, too, will have to wait until spring. Still, it's something else to look forward to...

Last weekend, I judged the horse show portion of the fair. I'm not sure why they hold the horse show a week before the actual fair opens, but they do. That was a good time as well. Unlike other horse shows, the County Fair show is always sort of an "Elly Mae Clampett meets Chad and Muffy from the Country Club" affair. You have 4H kids from all over the region, including the Rez (who have been practicing in their back yards), mixing with the more well-to-do kids (who have been working with their trainers), and I love the fact that hard work and natural talent always trump a fat bank account: You can't buy raw skill and a handy horse-rider pair, whether it's over a course of fences or in a reining pattern.

By the time the school buses pulled up to the front entrance today, it was pouring again. Our group found the closest tent under which to wait out the deluge. Turned out it was the Scientology tent, which meant that we got to read all about L. Ron Hubbard and Thetans as the rotisserie guy across the way tried to keep the rain off his grill and the technicolor stilt walker hunkered down under a tent of his own.

Hey, when it comes to the fair, there's room for all kinds.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

good morning

Here's something to watch the sunrise and monsoon-ey clouds for those of us drinking our coffee in Northern Arizona this morning.

Brings me back to my first year of college, when my roommate in the dorm would wake me up at dawn each morning by blasting Cat and the Dead.

Friday, August 28, 2009

the wind began to switch, the house to pitch...

Lest you think it's ever a good idea to enjoy a quiet, relaxing day at home, somewhat smug in the knowledge that all is right with the world and that nothing could go wrong...

Just come on over to my place, and I'll learn ya good.

See, I was doing just that earlier today - getting some work done, munching some munchies, watching Lizzie and Rosa actually playing together (well, Lizzie was playing. She'd drop her tennis ball in front of the cat, who, quite predictably, would ignore it completely). Basically, I was keeping it chill and enjoying the rare peace and quiet.

You know something's coming, don't you? Because you're no doubt smarter than I was, no doubt a little more world-wise and a little less Pollyanna-ish.

So, here's how it went down: Out of nowhere came a screaming (literally) gust of wind that rattled the wooden blinds and caused both animals to look at me like WTF??

Naturally, I ran to the front windows and closed them both up tight, all the while reminding myself that this solid little house has certainly withstood worse than a rogue dust devil over the decades. Plus, I lived out on the Prairie for years, so it's not like I haven't seen my share of mini-Arizona tornadoes. When I got back to the computer, however, I realized that the gust must have knocked the power out. Sigh. Time to check the fuse box (knowing that the issue was probably with one of the big APS boxes down the road). I headed out the back door to check it anyway, and that was when I spotted several neighbors rushing around their properties while pointing to mine.

The crabby part of me started to think something like, What's their problem? until I looked to where they were all pointing, which was at the spot where my little horse shelter/barn used to be.
Used. To. Be.

Because, not only was the shelter gone, but the two-by-six beam, heavy-duty shingle roof had apparently been picked up whole, lifted about twenty feet in the air (where it knocked out the overhead power line), spun around and deposited on my neighbor's property. Strangely enough, not a single thing in the wood/storage/tack shed right next to it was moved even half an inch.

After the initial shock wore off, I realized that I should seriously count my blessings, because nobody - neither human nor hoofed nor pawed - was hurt, and a horse shelter can always be replaced.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

those mice ain't playing anymore

A promise was made to my cat-crazed daughter about a year ago, and it went something like this: Yes, you can get a cat...WHEN we move into a place that we own (as opposed to renting, which we were doing at the time). And so, now, let me present...

(drum roll, please)

...a promise kept:

Blogosphere, meet Rosa.

Rosa, Blogosphere.

"Why Rosa?" I wanted to know when cat-crazed daughter announced her name.

"Because she's beautiful like a rose, and because she's cute, and because I was thinking about Princess Rosa from Puss in Boots."

Fair enough. This kitty is beautiful, and she has an awesome little personality. She's a year old, so she's already litterbox trained, more mellow than a kitten and very self-assured. She also arrived at the Coconino Humane Society with two kittens - one six weeks and one six months. So, it appears the poor thing has already had two litters, which may explain her petite size and can-do attitude.

I'm a little worried that Rosa isn't happy here in her new home, though - that she may be a bit too tense:

And Lizzie? How's Lizzie liking her new sister, you ask? Oh, Lizzie is thrilled beyond belief! Lizzie can hardly contain her excitement! Lizzie is...

...Well, I'm sure she will be exceedingly pleased in time, right?

I think Lizzie may be smelling her halo. Or maybe I've just had a certain song stuck in my head today. Either way, our new addition is already a blessing.