Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Stills (4/29/12 Beauty in the Beast)

This week's challenge was to find the beast and then, the beauty within.

This was a hard challenge. I was more successful finding the beast within the beauty.

For more Sunday Stills, please visit Ed's website.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

fun in the sun

It's been a while since I showed some photos of the alpaca herd. The baby is growing very fuzzy. She appears to be a lighter color than her Mama.

Of course, some of that light color could be dirt, right? Alpacas love to roll!

Yalla! watches from the other side of the fence.

She got Scout interested too.

Baby Sophie Rose and her Mama, Louise are enjoying the outdoors.

Thelma is always up for a portrait.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Stills (4-22-12 Ed's Birthday)

In honor of Ed's Birthday this week, he invited us to use any of the previous Sunday Stills challenges we wanted to do.
Yesterday, my daughter and I walked around the Bosque (little woods) down by the Rio Grande River. I brought my camera along and wanted to share some photos for this challenge.

First, I chose Reflections. I guess it could qualify for Water too.

 This one, also taken yesterday, is Framed by Nature.

 Isn't that a cool tree stump?

Here's some Birdstalking from yesterday, an elusive roadrunner.

Here's some unusual Clouds. I love taking photos of clouds!.

And the next two are in special honor of Ed's birthday, my youngest son's 21st birthday on February 22, of this year

and my eldest son's 26th birthday on February 12, of this year.

Happy Birthday to all you special boys!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mother and Daughter

A few weeks ago, I was chasing the horses and I decided to take some photos of mother and daughter, Annie and Yalla! for comparison. (I'm noticing how splay footed Yalla! looks in front. Hopefully, it's due to her long hooves. Oh well, thankfully, she's not a halter horse.)
Annie has a gorgeous trot. She brings her head down, arches her neck, and just floats, inches above the ground, as you can see in this photo, touching the ground quickly and only as necessary.  
Yalla! did not inherit her mother's trot, unfortunately. She keeps her head up with her nose out and tends to stay more grounded at the trot.
 However, she does have a beautiful stride at the gallop.
Notice how much mother and daughter resemble one another in the next series of photographs.

 Here they are for a side by side comparison. Yalla! should still do some growing. Her legs are as long as her mother's. We estimated that she would be about 15 hands at maturity. Currently, she's barely 14.?

Yalla! is cantering in the next shot while Annie is doing a slight turn but you can see that Yalla! still needs substance.

 There are certainly some differences, besides color, like Yalla! has a short triangular head while Annie's is quite long and narrow, but overall, Yalla! is certainly Annie's little girl, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy 29th Birthday, Nadia!

My dear old Nadia turned 29 today. She gets hairier and hairier every winter and right now she's shedding fistfuls of hair so she looks really terrible. But underneath all that hair is a purebred Egyptian Arabian mare with one of the sweetest dispositions of any horse.

 A few years ago, we had a birthday party for her and Baby Doll, my neighbor's previous horse, who was celebrating her birthday the day after Nadia's. Check the link to read about that fun day. 

Since this birthday is in the middle of the week, I don't have any special plans besides adding cereal and apples to their regular horse nuts. I'm also hoping to go for a ride on the ol' gal tonight but I'll have to wear old clothes because this is what happened last time I rode her.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Broken ankles, then and now

This photo was taken one year ago today. 

On that fateful day, I was riding Scout with a different bridle (curb bit) than usual (snaffle bit with side-pull noseband) and a bareback pad without stirrups. We were doing fine until we came upon a couple of neighbors out walking their several large dogs. The dogs surrounded us and Scout panicked. He reared up and, because we were standing on the edge of the road, he lost his footing and we went over backwards down the embankment. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet so, when I hit my head, that didn't get hurt. I did bend my glasses and cut my face. I bent a finger and the joint hurt for months. I landed on my tailbone and that hurt for weeks. I broke my ankle on the inside and had to have surgery to put in a plate and screws.

See here for more details. 

I spent several weeks in a wheelchair and had a few sessions of physical therapy. Even now, I have constant discomfort in my ankle and I cannot flex it fully. The best PT I had was walking in the snow this winter going to the barn to feed the horses. Without those long, difficult walks in the deep, uneven, crusty snow, I probably would have less flexibility in my ankle than I do have. 

Today, I was hoping to ride Scout to the place where we had our accident, but, alas, I got home too late and it got dark too quickly. I did however, ride Scout around the arena, in the dark, with my daughter on Nadia. We had fun, even if we did just walk and jog a few times. But the night air was chilly and we made it a short, uneventful ride.

It was a very different story this morning. . .

I woke up at my usual time, around 6:30, and took all the dogs out for a walk. Usually, Yalla! will be at the end of the arena by the gate waiting for me to come over and pet her or give her animal crackers, which I always have in my pocket. Annie sometimes comes down for a visit too, and when Nadia and Scout are in the arena they come too. I always enjoy visiting with my equine herd even though they are like little kids, vying for my attention. But this morning, Yalla! didn't come down to see me. Annie came part way and then went back to the barn. I figured that maybe I had caught her off guard, she was still asleep, or it was just too cold and she didn't want to leave her stall. It was 29 degrees and Annie was wearing a blanket. I thought nothing more about it and took the dogs inside.

Soon, I went out back to feed the horses and alpacas and for some crazy reason, I brought along the camera. Yalla! was still nowhere to be seen. Nadia and Scout were in their stalls and Annie came up to the fence as I approached. Then I could see Yalla! standing in her stall in the distance. 'Strange,' I thought to myself. 'That's just not like her. Why isn't she coming over? I wonder what's wrong?' 

I hurried into her stall and immediately saw the problem. Her right leg was stretched forward and her hoof was up on the pipe rail, or rather, through the pipe rail and caught against the portable panel that we had added to the alpacas' pen. 

She couldn't free it. I wondered how long she had been standing like that,  hours probably, all night possibly. Otherwise, she looked to be all right. I ran (I'm still kind of stiff-legged from my broken ankle so it must have been quite a sight!) back towards the house to wake my son and then, midway, I decided that I could do this by myself. After all, what would I do if I lived alone? I hurried back to the alpaca pen and pulled the latch pins out of the panels nearest her hoof. I worried that the panel would fall against the pipe rails and pin her foot further but, fortunately, they stayed upright. I pulled at the portable panels to move them away from Yalla! hoping that she would pull her foot out. She didn't move. I let go of the panels and they stayed upright so I ran back around to Yalla! I lifted her hoof and put it on the ground. She suddenly realized that she was free and took off away from me at a run, defiantly kicking out at me as she ran away with her neck stretched and her head snaked out. What a little beastie; she looked like she was saying, 'what took you so long to rescue me?' Sigh! I AM glad that she wasn't hurt though. 

Here's where she caught her hoof, just above the lower rail.

What a day!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Death and taxes

This year, AGAIN, I've put off doing my taxes until the very last minute. "WHY?" I ask myself. "I don't know," I shrug and tell myself.

I do have a lot of screwy stuff, like property taxes from multiple properties, mortgage interest including a refinance, capital gains and losses, and all kinds of medical expenses. . . But still, that's no excuse!

Alas, here I am, working at my return, just a day before the due date. And, it's not like I have to pay! No, I'm getting a refund, a BIG one, two actually, if you include the state. I really need it to buy hay this summer. I guess that's the real reason that I keep putting it off. Once I get it, it will be spent and then I have no more money coming in. Silly, huh?

I remember when my father died on April 9th, many years ago. He was always the one to work on the taxes and he had not yet prepared them. Along with going to the funeral home to make arrangements for his burial, we had to visit IRS to explain the situation and ask for an extension. The IRS agent expressed his condolences and then said that, sure, we could file for an extension, but we had to send in the money that was owed by the April 15th deadline. WHAT? How were we to know what was due? I remember sitting at the table with my mother and working them out for her. That way, she could pay what was due and send in the tax return too.

Taxes. There is no escape. Unless, of course, if you are due a refund. Then you don't have to file at all. Theoretically, I don't need to do my taxes. But, I want my money back. So, there it is. I have every intention of changing my W4 so the government gets less every paycheck, giving me more money to spend throughout the year...but I probably won't. Meanwhile, with the deficit the country is in, I'm doing my part to help out, by lending the government interest-free money, until I ask for it back.

Here are some witty quotes about death and taxes, taken from Yahoo!

"The only things certain in life are death and taxes." --Ben Franklin

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." -- attributed to Albert Einstein

"If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation." -- Farmer's Almanac
"The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward." -- John Maynard Keynes
"Death and taxes may be certain, but we don't have to die every year." -- Unknown
"If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the UP button." --
Sam Levenson
"Optimist: Someone who sets aside two hours to do his income tax return." -- Unknown
"I wouldn't mind paying taxes -- if I knew they were going to a friendly country." -- Dick Gregory
"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today." -- Herman Wouk
"Tax reform means, 'Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.'" -- Russell Long
"The way taxes are, you might as well marry for love." -- Joe E. Lewis
"I don't mind dying, the trouble is you feel so bloody stiff the next day." -- George Axlerod
"It used to be that death and taxes alone were inevitable. Now there's shipping and handling." -- Bert Murray
"Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead." -- Scottish Proverb
"I never see the prettiest thing -
A cherry bough gone white with Spring -
But what I think, 'How gay 'twould be
To hang me from a flowering tree.'" -- Dorothy Parker
"Indoors or out, no one relaxes
In March, that month of wind and taxes,
The wind will presently disappear,
The taxes last us all year." -- Ogden Nash
"The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has." -- Will Rogers
"The report of my death was an exaggeration." -- Mark Twain (after reading his own obituary)
"The taxpayer -- that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination." -- Ronald Reagan
"People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women." -- Unknown
"The United States is the only country where it takes more brains to figure your tax than to earn the money to pay it." -- Edward J. Gurney
"There is a difference between a tax collector and a taxidermist -- the taxidermist leaves the hide." -- Mortimer Caplan
"Death and taxes and childbirth. There's never any convenient time for any of them." -- Margaret Mitchell
"On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done as easily lying down." -- Woody Allen"

I was surprised to read that Ben Franklin died on April 17, 1790, this year's income tax due day. How fitting, no?

Anyway, I better get back to preparing my tax returns...

Sunday Stills (4/15/12 Reflections)

This week's Sunday Stills contest is Reflections. The best ones are usually around water, so here are my offerings:

In the next three photos, I like how the reflections of the beaks are so different from the real thing.

 How in the world does his head look like that when it's tucked under his wing?

For more Sunday Stills, please visit here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Foto

I spotted this giant lop-eared bunny plastered on the power box and then I noticed the little sign behind, "Caution, ear protection required..." How fitting!

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Stills (Beginnings 4/8/12)

This week's Sunday Stills challenge was "beginnings". Here is my choice:

This is Easter Sunday and Jesus Christ is Risen! Hallelujah, He is risen, indeed!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Last Supper

Tonight, at church, we celebrated the Last Supper, Seder,  a Christian Passover Meal. It is meant to help Christians appreciate their Jewish "roots." it commemorates God's great act of deliverance of His peole Israel from slavery, it points towards God's Passover Lamb, Jesus, and it helps Christians understand the origin of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. There are several symbolic foods eaten at a Seder meal:

1. Unleavened bread (Matzah)- This represents the Israelite's historic flight from Egypt. They left in such a hurry that they grabbed their dough before the yeast was added. For seven days, during passover, they eat unleavened bread. Sharing this bread with all present, signifies unity and participation in the body of Christ, or communion.

2. Bitter herbs or Maror (horseradish root)- remind us of the bitterness and pain the Israelites suffered at the hands of the Egyptians. We were treated with some really good (and hot!) homemade horseradish.
3. Green herbs (parsley)- are a symbol of springtime and the miracle of nature's renewal. Dipping the parsley into the salted water symbolize the tears of sorrow the Hebrews experienced when they were enslaved in Egypt.

4. Boiled eggs- represent eyes and dipped into the salted water represents the tears that our forefathers shed during their slavery.

5. Crushed apple salad- The apple represents the bricks that our forefathers used to build Egyptian temples and buildings and the fruity paste represents the mortar that binds the bricks together.

6. The Pesach- Passover lamb is eaten as a memorial to God commemorating when our forefathers in Egypt killed the lamb and painted their door posts and lintels with the blood so that the Lord passed over their houses. For Passover, the lamb had to be one year old, roasted on a cross-like spit and no bone could be broken. Jesus is the Passover Lamb too. He was crusified on the 14th day of Nisan, at 3 o'clock. No bones of Jesus were broken, as was the usual custom of the Roman soldiers with the dead and dying. Jews do not traditionally eat lamb at Passover because the lamb must be sacrificed in the temple in Jerusalem but the temple was destroyed. Hence, the Jews have been without a Passover lamb ever since. They cannot eat lamb at Passover until the temple is rebuilt. We, Christians, do not have such a limitation. We find fullfillment in Christ, our Passover Lamb, who was destroyed and rose again.

The four cups of wine ( ; ) ) represent
  1. First cup, Kiddush - The Cup of Santification (Bless the name of the Lord)
  2. Second cup - the Cup of Praise
  3. Third cup - Cup of Redemption
  4. Fourth cup - Cup of Hope, this cup foreshadowed the blood of Christ, which was poured out for the world for the forgiveness of sins.
After supper, Jesus took the bread, broke it and said,"This is my body, which is for you: do this in rememberance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This (4th) cup is the new covenant in my blood: do this, whenever you drink it, in rememberance of me." Corinthians 11:24-25.

After the symbolic Seder meal, we had roast chicken, carrots, potatoes, and strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Decisions, decisions...

A fine meal, but it was time to go when the wine carafe was empty.
It was an especially memorable dinner because my mom, my daughter, and youngest son came with me.