Monday, September 27, 2010


Limb by limb
I am now an official Killer. Yes, Christopher, my tree cutter told me so. When I was trying so hard to keep the ratty raccoons off my roof, I put a loose ring of tin around my spruce tree. Over the years, I'd have it removed and put back on loosely. It worked for the raccoons, but it did kill my beautiful tall tree.

I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be a killer. Never had a killer thought, well, that's not true. There were the mean girls in Mission Beach Grade school that I'll never forget. After crying my eyes out, I did want to kill them. No, I really wanted to kill the words and looks they spewed out at me.

Standing on what?
I wanted killer looks in High School where I was friendly, but extremely shy and quiet. Too tall, bone skinny with greasy hair and acne, yes, it was not a pretty sight. By the time I went to college and help from a Charm School, Make-up and Hair training, Dance class, and singing lessons, (thanks Mother) I started to look and feel good. By the time I was hired by Disneyland in my Senior year of College, I had killer looks! My body had filled out, hair straightened and back combed, and that eye liner and eyebrow over my blond lashes brought out the tan California look. Going through the Disney Hospitality School back then, gave me  poise, confidence, and charisma when I interacted with people as a hostess/tour guide and in every job since.

As I got older, (like 23) the killer looks didn't matter, for the inner look was coming out. I followed my passion and went to work on on a dude ranch in Grant, Colorado, so I could be a horse wrangler. Even with all that college, all that charm stuff, all that hospitality training, in reality all I wanted was to be with horses! Go figure.
Christopher cut stairs to the top,
then starting at the top,
took it down in small pieces.

So now that I am THE tree killer, I've got to do my time. Every day I'll look out my window and miss my friend, the tall spruce. My other friends will miss the tall spruce, too. The Downy woodpecker that graced the frame of my window. The other birds who hopped and sang to the spruce, even the squirrel who will now have to find another ladder to run around on. 

Be careful what you do for there are consequences of your actions. Most of all, know that life is fragile! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Ring

My Granddaughter, Chelsea, is leaving soon for her first year at Stony Brook College in Long Island, NY. It's the start of only one of the many adventures in her life.
We had lunch today at her favorite Hamburger Place. Just the two of us. I mistakenly told her I liked her one line zingers in Facebook, such as: "We are the trifecta." referring to her best friends. and just this morning, "and then there was one." 

Chelsea told me, with tears welling up in her eyes, that it was unexpected that she would feel so sad about leaving her best friends. One who was going to Colorado University and the other to a catholic college in Washington, D.C.

We also talked about her Facebook comment, "
All it took was two boxes for my room not to be mine anymore" and she further wrote in comments, "It's sad my room feels so empty but my dad said if I had lost all that stuff earlier, my room would've been a lot cleaner."

With that the laughter began!

After lunch we did a little shopping. Suddenly I remembered that I wanted to give her my ring. We were at the check out stand, when I told her. "I want you to have my ring," I blurted out and took the ring off my finger and gave it to her. Expressing what the ring meant to me, I said, "My ring reminds me of my horses I loved so much for it looks like a stirrup or cinch. It has a line of square rubies, my birthstone, down one side." Looking into her eyes, I sighed and told her, "It's a simple ring that has a lot of meaning for me." Then when she put it on, I quietly said, "When you're lonely or feeling sad, just look at my ring and know that my circle of love surrounds you." 

Not an original statement for long ago my step-mother, Alice gave me gold hoop ear-rings and told me that they represented the circle of love from her and my Dad. I wear them still today and rarely take them off. Once the back of one became so worn it wouldn't close. I had it fixed right away by Ken Nelson, my friend and goldsmith. He wouldn't take any money for it. Sometimes things that people say and do are "golden". 

And like Chelsea says in her Facebook album: "Summer 2010: The Night is Golden," from the minute she was born, my life has been golden with Chelsea!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Passing the Reins

Goodbye Buff, we will all miss you. Buff Rutherford, a 3rd generation Georgetown, Colorado resident died this week. He was 81 years old.

In the last two weeks of his life, he was still giving... like he always did. This time my 13 year old granddaughter, Olivia, was the object of his generosity.

When Livvy, cashed in her savings to buy an older Arabian mare, "Striking Lady" the start of her dream came true. The first thing she bought was a halter, lead and grooming tools. There was no money for a bridle and saddle.

Her Uncle Joe at Shadows Ranch, where she was keeping "Lady"gave her a small used saddle. It needed work. Grandma was worried about the leather, and would it be safe. There were parts missing. Thinking of the best person to evaluate the safety for her granddaughter, Grandma called her friend, Buff, the old cowboy, who gladly offered to look it over for us.

It was a match made in heaven for a little girl and a old cowboy. She hung on every word, as he explained what needed to be done. "I've got a lot of cinches," Buff said as he dug through a box of them. "Here's one that looks like it would fit." As he showed her the nearly new cinch, Buff smiled that quiet smile and told her, "You can have it."

Livvy asked about what a "dog-bit" looked like. With the customary patience, Buff was known for, he brought out a small box of bits and explained several. Then he took one he thought would work and said  it was hers to keep. Buff Offered to buy a bridle, saddle blanket and reins that Livvy could pay him for later. Grandma was overwhelmed and had to walk into the other room, to keep her tears to herself.

"I'm working at the event center, setting tables, napkins and helping Joe in the kitchen, " Livvy excitedly told Buff, "I will have the money for you."

As they walked into the computer room, the screen saver was alive with a slide show of memories. Buff and his beloved wife, Mary Lou, hunting with horses. Their life together from early-on to more recently. Friends, children, grandchildren all flashing on the screen for a moment or two, giving Buff such pleasure as he explained the ones that meant something even more special to him.

As we left, Livvy, eyes bright with joy, couldn't stop talking about Buff.

Arabian Mare - Lady and Olivia
We didn't pick up the saddle that next weekend, for Buff and Mary Lou went to Denver to watch their granddaughter ride in a horse show.

Buff and Grandma later the next week exchanged "Granddaughter" stories. As the stories came out, Buff said he really wanted to help Livvy get started. He remembered that riding bareback with a halter and lead as reins was how he learned to ride when he was a kid and so in love with horses. "An old cowboy gave me the gear I needed and explained everything to me. I want to do it for Livvy," Buff tells me.  "I also want to give her a book I enjoyed as a boy. She might enjoy it too." He is reliving his memories back then.

An act of kindness, as a Grandma, I will never forget ... neither will my granddaughter, Livvy.
Buff Rutherford, his haywagon, and my older granddaughter, Chelsea, who was only seven back then.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Comes

The house feels heavy as though the air held secrets... Not good secrets. As though the whispered words I only feel not hear were pushing down on my chest. Something I don't want to know.

The floors sagged slightly. Just enough to throw you off balance. No reality here. A hodge-podge of rooms added on sporadically. Another tripper step is just a few inches high that leads into a back hallway and out the back door. A door where the deadbolt lock won't open. A door you can't get out.   Who built this? Is it their secret being whispered?

There are plenty of windows, big picture windows but it's a dark house. This cabin in the mountains along a dusty little-used dirt road sits on a triangular piece of pine tree covered land, yet the views are hidden by walls misplaced.

I've got the heat blowing hot from the wall heater. It's cold here... like it's seeping up from the floors, leaking through the walls. The cold, I can't get warm.

I'm uncomfortable, I want to leave. Why do I feel this way? I have to leave and soon. There is no reasonable explaination. I just feel it.

(to be continued)

Friday, June 18, 2010

If I were a Native American Child for a Day

by Chelsea Nugent, Age 10

June 29, 1682

As the sun crept across the room and kissed my face, I wake up with a sudden jolt. Visions spin in my head as fear raced through my body. My heart is pounding. I blink once or twice bringing myself back to reality, realizing it is only a dream. "Not only do the Navajos raid Hopi villages," I thought, "they raid my wonderful dreams, too."

My father, uncle, little brother and cousin left to farm the fields on the mesa. My mother, aunt and I are outside grinding corn as we eat our morning meal of leftover bread from yesterday. Soon my arm ached from grinding corn so I stopped to rest. "Mother, what are we going to bake today?" I asked. "We are going to bake piki bread from this blue corn," my mother replied still grinding her corn. "Shooting Star, start grinding your corn, the sooner we can get baking," my aunt scolded. I sighed deeply and began grinding my corn again.

After all the corn was ground, my mother, my aunt, and I began making piki bread. First, my mom mixed the corn meal with water to make the dough. Then, I flattened the dough until it was paper-thin, and my aunt placed the dough on the stove to bake. "Now remember half of the bread is for supper, and the rest is for the ceremony," my mother told my aunt and me.

Ceremony? What ceremony? Then it hit me. The Coming Home ceremony! We have it every July as part of our Hopi culture, and it was only four days away! I must have looked shocked because my mother asked, "What's wrong Shooting Star?" "Nothing," I replied quickly. "Why don't you go help grandfather weave," my mother suggested.

Once I was on the second level where my grandfather was, I stepped into the weaving room quietly. My grandfather looked up and motioned to the loom on the other side of the room. I knew he wanted me to work on the weaving that I started yesterday. Soon my weaving was almost finished and the dark room was getting very hot. "Grandfather, may I go outside?" I asked. He looked up and studied my weaving. "Yes, you have done enough today, Shooting Star," he answered in a raspy voice. When I was on the roof, I felt a lot better than being in that stuffy room. I looked up at the sun and noticed that it was towards the west. The delicious smells of supper were rising from the kitchen.

Suddenly it occurred to me that it was time for my father, uncle, little brother and my cousin to be coming back from farming. I looked across the mesa. At the very edge I could just make out four figures in the distance. My body filled with joy as I  climbed down the ladder with my long black hair flowing behind me and ran to the door followed by my mom, aunt and sister who clutched a Kachina doll in her hand. My father, uncle, cousin and little brother were just coming up to the door. We hugged each other and went inside for supper.

After a delicious meal of piki bread, corn, beans and pork, we sat around the sitting room telling stories and laughing, all happy to be together again.

We were safe from the raiding Navajos today, but sadly, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Comments from the Clear Creek Courant Newspaper editor.
"You have every right to be ultimately proud of your granddaughter. What a delightful article! She should be writing children's books. She has a knack for simplicity and wonderful description."

January 27, 2003

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chelsea and the Horse Camp

First Day. First Lesson.

     Ben the horse, Chelsea the seven year old. Although Ben has tutored many seven year old children, Chelsea only has lived with dreams of horses.

     Those of you who have dreamed of having horses know what that's like. In dreams, everything works out right, you are instantly the expert, things are perfect. You and the horse are a team. Whatever you can picture in your mind always works.

     In reality, the camp is almost overwhelming at first. So many things to remember, all at once. No matter how much you want it, nothing seems to fit together. "Hands up? How high? Put my leg where? Elbow back? What? Put my seat down? Does she mean my bottom? Ugh, I forgot what the teacher just said!" Too many thoughts for Chelsea. It's in her eyes, " Why can't I get it? I want it so much."

     At the children's horse camp at Anchorage Farm in Pine Junction, Colorado, each child has a four day intensive experience with the horse - their "adopted" horse. This is not your average experience at a horse camp. This is not just trial rides or arena clip-clopping games. Here you learn all the parts of a horse from the large jowl full of huge teeth (except in the middle where the bit goes) to the vernacular of horse coloration - a paint, a pie-bald, a pinto, a bay, a buckskin. The children learn the names for all the various tack that goes on a horse or used around a horse. What goes in the horse must come out, so they learn feeding and cleaning stalls. It is still fun and necessary to keeping a horse. Whew! It's a very busy day.
     "Oh yes, Grandma, these are called reins not ribbons" Livvy, her three year old sister called them that. Chelsea is getting it and proudly reiterating her knowledge. "I knew what a saddle was, Grandma, but not all the parts to it. I now know how to put the saddle on a horse and take it off." She looks off in the direction of three tiers of saddles along the tack room wall. "Actually, I didn't know that there were so many different types of saddles."
     "When the horse pokes his nose out of the stall," Chelsea continues describing her morning, "his nostrils are quivering. When he touches my outstretched hand, he sort of snorts at the smell of me. Then he pushes his nose out even further and gives me that 'you're okay' look in his eyes.'" She stops and looks at me smiling, "He likes me, Grandma!" Her eyes shine with a brightness you only find in people who are passionate about what they are feeling.
     All the kids in the class have different personalities. Some demanding, others shy, some loud and  mouthy, still others intense. Yet, all with a common dream of "their" horse in mind. I sense an amazing amount of cooperation and genuine kindness in these young people to help one another.
     Some of the group have a horse with a halter and a lead rope. They are learning the proper way to hold the rope, to lead the horse, and to stop the horse. The perfect way to teach a child how to safely handle a horse or to correct the horse. Basic training. Building confidence every moment.
     Here they are taught, horse thinking. Quite different than people thinking.  Learning about the horse's basic instincts, how to interpret the animal's body language and what might be running through the horse's mind, builds skills and a sympathetic relationship of trust and friendship.
     One hour a day, each horse camper gets a one hour dressage lesson. How the horse moves, what makes him balance his weight, what makes him off balance, what pressure points does the horse move away from, how to feel the control of the horse through his mouth. 
     Although I try to be with Chelsea, she is not interested in being with me. "it's okay Grandma, if you want to sit on the high benches and watch my lessons." Then Chelsea is off to help groom the horse after her lesson, leading her horse to their outside paddock, and happily talking to other riders about horses.
     One photo opportunity, that I reluctantly tell you I missed, happened when I came into the grooming and saddling room to find the Gray Arabian Gelding, Two Blankets, in cross ties - two ropes from the wall to each side of the horses halter. Swarming all over him with so much love and affection were no less than six small girls. One very small girl, standing on a step stool on his left side, was brushing his back. Another was brushing his side. The tail was getting a good brush and one girl was even kissing his nose. And the god, the half closed ecstasy in his eyes, I cannot describe.
     It's nonstop busy here. Everyone has something to do, that is except me. I'm just sitting here thinking on my laptop computer.
     "Grandma," Chelsea runs into the living room where I am working. "Grandma, my counselor, Lindsey, found this horseshoe and gave it to me to keep." This indeed is a great find for my horse dreamer. "Can you keep it for me?" Without even a glance backwards, she is halfway out the door again, "See you Grandma, I've got to go help with the horses." 
     And off she goes making her dream world into a reality.

Photo notes: 
1) Cover Story and Cover Photo, "Colorado Serenity Lifestyle Magazine" June 1999.
2) Publisher's Note 

Monday, May 17, 2010

When Aspens Weep

The villain is out causing havoc again. The cold case is open once more. I'm never surprised, but always at odds when this happens.

Thinking back to January when the snows are fluffy and light and happy to be here, blowing in great burst of soft snow clouds. Pin pricks of tiny snowflakes tickle your face in playful teasing. Sometimes at night, in the halo of the street light, tiny silver strands of snow make the evening an amazing art show. It's a time of broom sweeping, sun shining, deep Colorado blue skies. The sun fights the cold air by warming your face. Satisfying!

So when does this magic become sinister and dark? It's a time when the light goes away. I'm not sure why, but it is certainly gone. Even at noon, there is no color. All color lies muted in shades of gray, blue gray, black gray. Rocks become a monotone. Gray paper skies. White mountain peaks disappear in heavy foreboding clouds. This — is Springtime in the Rockies.

Let's go back to the case of a very heavy wet snow this spring. Wet, drippy, bone chilling cold snow. Yesterday as I was struggling trying to lift the shovel full of snow, a plop of snow on my head caused me to look up at the huge aspen tree that dropped the wet snowball on me. I couldn't believe my eyes. Wiping my cold tearing eyes, I look again. Walking nearer, no it is not a scar on my aspens, it is indeed wet, watery tear drops running down the bark. Putting my finger on the trails of tears, I imagine a salty taste. Too quiet, not a hint of a breeze, only silence. Unbelievable. No road sounds, no dogs barking, nothing.

So I'm not alone, it is not just me that is sad this time of year. My trees are yearning for their pea green buds to appear, the sap to rise and warm their branches. Everything is waiting. We know it is coming. Just not soon enough. Tightly closed buds on the lilac bush, the flowering almond and the aspen remind me of a child closing their eyes tight not see what they don't want to see.  Me too. I want to close my eyes tightly to not see the upcoming "mud season" and this year especially, the heavy wet snow.

As much in denial of the horror outside, last night I glanced out my front window onto my deck that I light up with rope lights and a red uplight for my aspen. I stopped, frozen in utter amazement. It was so beautiful. All the gray was gone. Warm yellow, pink, red and all shadows of colors glorified the snow.
I'll never solve this Cold Case and I'll never close it either. Sometimes when all is dark and dreary, beauty lies just around the corner. I'm just glad to see it and to share it with you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dog-Gone Days

Hey there! Luc's the name, exploring is my game. Welcome to my world. Follow me, You'll like where I go. Pretty exciting... well some of the time it's exciting, like when I treed a family of raccoons and kept them up there. To tell you the truth, I sleep a lot during the day. But you should share my dreams. Wow, are they great. The kind where your eyes twitch and your paws do the phantom run.

It's my yard and I'll pee if I want to. This postage stamp yard isn't much, but just the right size for me. I patrol it all the time. Sniffing out any smells that don't belong there. You know, like raccoons, deer, dogs, chipmunks, ground squirrels, cats, fox and...errr, maybe bear or mountain lion. Sort of scared of those last two smells.

Hey get off my rocks, or I'll, I'll, I'll.... take that hose and spray you! 

That an Ebert Squirrel I'm watching. In just a minute, I'll growl, jump and bark. He'll scatter away so fast and I'll roll over laughing so hard. Come on back. I want to do it again.

It's the red fox. I just know that he's my distant relative. Other dogs might originate from the Wolf, but Chihuahuas are special You knew that, right? We originated from the Fox.

Gidget widget is my good friend. She belongs to the Nugent Family —  Dawn's daughter Diane. That Gidget is a fiesty one. We get into a scrap or two, but I stand my ground. We do play together, too. It's not all bad. Well yeah, sometimes, she drives me crazy. She goes camping with me.

Camping tonight, camping tonight! I'm a really dirty dog! Heh, heh, heh.

You. You Mr. Moose. Yes, You. What are YOU looking at? I can TAKE YOU Moose. You're pretty dang big but I'm not afraid of You.... well, maybe a little.

I can't go any further. Snow is up to my neck.

 I found a spot on this snow wall to pee....ahhhhh.
I'm watching....where is she? When is she ever coming back. Maybe never. Oh, I'm so worried. Please, Please come home Dawn.

Is it, is it, is it? YES, SHE'S BACK!

I'm going to jump down and wiggle with joy, tongue out, prancing, just plain being cute. It's my job. "Too cute Luc" that's me.

Now I can eat, I'm so hungry, so hungry... Hurry Dawn, feed me, feed me!

Yep, it's ready for me now. Kibble Bowl on the ground. Got to go. See you later. Woof!

Hawaiian Guava, just try it

Running up and down the grocery aisles yesterday, can't even tell you which aisle, my eye  wandered to a can of... Guava Juice....

A flood of wonderful Hawaiian memories came over me as I reached for a can and lovingly put it in my cart. Ever tried Guava?

Guava is a tropical fruit. Easy to recognize, the guava tree has smooth, thin, copper-colored bark that flakes off, showing the greenish layer underneath. The fruit is a light yellow-green with an occasional rosy blush. Inside, the pulp has either a rose or off-white flesh and a center full of seeds. Usually you peel the skin, cut it in half and scoop out the seedy center. Eat it like an apple or puree the flesh. It is a little grainy somewhat like a pear. The flavor hints of a PiƱa Colada drink (although guava is not an ingredient). It is an addicting refreshing drink.

When I lived in Hawaii, all things guava were at the top of my list. Better than orange juice for breakfast; bake up a wonderful chiffon guava cake; add it to your favorite fruit or cream pie; top anything with a shiny rose guava gel, and experience a myriad of mixed drinks.

Surprisingly healthy, research from the Guardian Health Guardian, January 19th, 2010, the article about super foods: "100 grams of guava gives you more than twice potassium as compared to apples, four times more vitamin C than oranges for the same amount and yet, it is not considered a super star fruit. Strange, isn’t it?"

It doesn't appears in Hawaii until the early 1800's. Now it occurs throughout the Pacific islands. No one knows for sure where the Guava tree originated, most speculate Mexico or Central America. Today it grows in both tropical and sub-tropical regions all over the world. India has many plantations, so does Thailand and Spain. It is grown in Florida and in Hawaii. As long as it doesn't freeze, for Guava trees die in a freeze although sometimes the Guava trees have been know to grow up again from the roots.

My daughter, Diane, gave me a recipe for mini-cheesecakes made in a muffin tin and vanilla wafers. Here's my spin on her mini-cheesecake with Guava.

Diane Nugent's Mini-Cheese Cakes with my Guava Addition

In a muffin pan with paper-cup liners place one vanilla wafer cookie in each space. Option: I like to put a bunch of vanilla wafers in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin, crush the 'Nilla Wafers'. Put a loaded Tablespoon in the bottom of each liner, then tap it down with a juice glass.
          1/2 cup sugar
          2 packages 8 oz cream cheese
          2 eggs
          1 teaspoon vanilla
          1 teaspoon lemon juice
          1 Tablespoon Guava Juice
Fill Muffin cups almost to the top.
Bake at 375° for 18 minutes. Turn off the oven, leave the oven door open and let the little cakes cool completely.

Guava Gel Glaze:
2 C Guava juice
1/2 C Sugar
1 Tablespoon Grenadine
1/4 C Cornstarch

Bring the juice and sugar to a boil. Take off heat. 
Make a paste from cornstarch, Grenadine and a little water. 
Stir the paste into juice pan. Return to heat, boil for one minute or until thick.

Spoon on each mini-cheese cake in the muffin pan. Cool cheesecake in the muffin pan in refrigerator until ready to serve. Freezes well.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Zuppa e Fagioli/Patate

"Too Salty, just didn't like it. I even washed it with water first." That was yesterday at work, complaining about a Air Dried Salt Cured Country Ham I bought on the Internet from a famous Restaurant in Georgia.

What could I do with it besides throw it out? My friend Scott Goeringer, an executive chef, gave me a great suggestion. Beans and potatoes would soak up the salt and leave that smoky flavor. He also suggested leeks. 

Today is my day off and I am inspired to run with Scott's suggestion. I didn't have leeks in my refrigerator, but I did have an onion. Maybe it was the can of Cannelini Beans in my cupboard, but Italy memories started swarming through my mind. On one of my Italy trips, I saw a cook, throw a good jigger of red wine into her soup. Checking my liquor cabinet, right there in front was a great bottle of Porto wine. Port is a little sweet with still the robust flavor of red wine. Going with an Italian theme, garlic, tomato, basil leaves and a tiny bit of dried rosemary floated through my mind. 

Since I don't measure anything, I'm guessing these measurements are about right. 

Note: Don't add the wine, basil and rosemary until you are just about to serve the soup. You soup will stay fresh and the flavors won't be lost. 

Keep that spoon handy and taste often! Enjoy, I sure did. Thanks, Scott.

Zuppa e fagioli/patate
Inspired by Scott Goeringer
1/2 medium Onion diced
1/2 Red Pepper diced
1 cove of Garlic, peeled and sliced thin
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
A couple of pieces of Smoky Ham or Bacon
Saute until onion is translucent

1 Red Potato, peeled and diced
1 Tomato skinned and diced
1 can drained Cannellini Beans
1/2 teaspoon of "Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base"
Water to cover ingredients.
When potatoes are cooked, remove ham or bacon and throw away.
1 oz Porto Wine
Chiffonade a about a dozen Basil leaves
tiny bit of dried Rosemary

Monday, May 10, 2010

The beginning of the dream.....

I was three year old when I first talked about having horses. It was my first obsession. Mother would tell me how she would buy all these beautiful dolls, but I wouldn't play with them. Instead I'd sit in a corner with her wooden clothes pins and imagine they were my horses. In Southern California in the mid-50s, as soon as you got your drivers license, you'd be driving to the beach. Not me. As soon as I got my license, I started my secret life. There was a Buffalo Ranch in the area where Irvine, CA has grown up now. Back then they had stables, gave riding lessons, and also did trail rides. I worked odd jobs, one at a jewelry store, and of course babysitting, saved my money and took riding lessons. I'd hang around and help clean stalls, feed, and just take in the smells of the hay, the grain, the horse. Listening to their munching, their nickering, the swishing sound their hooves made in the straw or looking deep into their liquid eyes, watching them twitch their tails at a fly or shake their beautiful necks or paw at the ground was better than the Symphonic Orchestra playing great composers. It was music to me and I could be part of it. Just to touch that soft, warm muzzle and hug their neck, snuggling my nose into their scent was the most intoxicating part of my teen years. 

After college, I worked at a Dude Ranch. Heaven! I was with horses every single day for hours on end. I really believed I married because he promised me a ranch with cows and horses. It never happened with him, and even after two children, I never gave up on my dream. Probably I married money the second time and I did buy my first horse, then later my Arabians. Guess I shouldn't be surprised that marriage didn't make it either. But my dream of having a horse ranch never died. At age 38, I did buy my horse ranch.

The first horse born on our ranch, was Darq Sirroco, a black colt out of my Palomino Half Arab/Saddlebred, Penny. The kids and I were so excited about the upcoming birth, we strewed straw around in the large stall, put up a 8x8 tent in the stall next door, put in cots, a battery operated light — we didn't want to miss the big event.

Penny started circling around and around and finally went down late in the afternoon. Just then, our neighbors from North Plains came down to the barn. They were old time farmers, and I was relieved that they were there. We whispered back and forth — me asking what I should do next; he with a grin answering to just let the mare do her thing!  It wasn't much after that conversation the two hooves came out covered inside the bag and very fast, bloop, out slipped the baby. Nosing and thrashing, out of the bag a shinny wet thing gasped its first air. Nudging me to rub down the baby with the towel I had in my hands, and telling me to bond right away. Gingerly, I approached the little one, down on my knees, rubbing it dry and talking low and soft to both the baby and the mare. It was a colt, a boy! Wobbling up, sideways, down again. One leg up, three legs down, now back legs up, front legs down. So funny and amazing at the same time. With knickers of encouragement from the mare, finally up on all fours and looking for the milk. Well after a suck or two on the mare's front legs, he finely got around to the right section. Don't know how he could miss it, with milk streaming down. With a huge sigh of relief from me and the mare, she (the mare not me) starts to nibble at the hay while her baby nurses.

We named him, Darq Sirroco. His name, Sirooco, a wild desert wind. He grew up to be a Region II, IV, V Champion. Winning Futurities at 1, 2 and 3. He won in almost every show he entered. Eventually he won a Reserve National Championship!

My horse ranch became more of a reality than I ever dreamed it to be. And a great source of memories now!

Zapped by an Electric Fence

Once upon a time and long ago, my children, Diane age 13 and Jeremy age 10 and I bought acreage with a small house and a couple of barns. It was the beginning of our horse farm. The five plus acres had already been fenced with barbless wire, but with babies on the way (horses not me) I felt I needed more protection for them than just wire. Ribbon wire was the in thing back in the 70s and 80s and it was easy to install, if the foals did break through, it was safe and would not tangle around their legs like wire might. Oregon dirt is easy to dig in and not a hard job for me to put up fencing.
Back in Oregon, one sunny day, kids in school, it was perfect for putting in an electric fence paddock outside the large birthing stall. Gathering all my tools in a box and "ho ho, ho ho and off to work I go." As the day progressed, it was getting hotter and hotter, that is if Oregon hot means the same as Arizona hot. Nothing could  deter me. Onward in my mission to complete the job. I am rather one track when it comes to staying on task. Whew, finally I finished, looked out with pride at the electric corral I had completed, flipped the switch and checked it with my little plastic fence checker. Yep, it was working. 

Picking up the tools scattered about and putting them back into the tool box, I bent over to pick up the hammer and backed right into the "hot" electric fence. The bolt got me good. I jumped about a yard or two then quickly looked around to see if anyone saw me do such a stupid thing. Now I'm telling you my nearest neighbor couldn't have seen me even with binoculars. "What are you looking at?" I hurl words at my dog, panting, tongue lagging out. I swear she was laughing at me!

Photo above: Half Arab/Saddlebred, Penny and Wind Dancer her little filly.

Wind Dancer prancing away. From the day she was born, this little filly just flat out ran, pranced, jumped and raced with the wind. She absolutely loved life! Isn't she a beauty?

Photo right: Wind Dancer just a few weeks old.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Illionois Small Town Childhood Memories

Hi cousin Alan, 

I only remember Illinois as a ten year old child and maybe for three weeks with Grandma Roberts (your Aunt Mae). If it was hot, I didn't notice it. Too much fun collecting lightning bugs in a jar; riding your horse bareback down a dirt road; slipping and sliding in the back of a wagon full of oats, bugs and grasshoppers, as your Dad brought it in from the fields; watching out for the "mean" goose in your barnyard; climbing Grandma's cherry tree; and endlessly cranking the ice cream churn. Yeah, it could have been hot, but I sure didn't notice. 

My Dad came to visit us at Grandma's. He took us to a movie on the main street of Roberts. That's before they moved the water tower. Back then they hung a huge screen on it and showed a black and white movie with Bob Crosby. (Who knows why this stuck in my head!) The three of us sat on a blanket in the middle of the street to watch. Just before we settled down, Dad took us into the corner soda fountain to get a malt or a shake.

I loved that it didn't get dark until after 9 or so at night. Meant our normal bedtime didn't mean anything in Illinois. Dark always came about 8 PM in CA. Even so, through our complaints that it was still light out, Grandma, at 9 PM would make my baby sister, Marilynn, and I up go upstairs to bed — where we could read for awhile. I'm a reader even today - although you don't like the books I read - i.e. "The Road", Ha Ha!. 

As I'd lie in bed reading in that glowing amber light of twilight, I'd also be waiting for the train whistle to announce the train was going through town along with the rhythmic click-clack of metal wheels against metal tracks. Such a comforting, haunting sound. 

Always one of the fondest memories in my life — that short three or so weeks with Grandma Roberts in Illinois and on your boyhood farm.

Love to you, cousin. So glad we reconnected.

6/29/09  Dear Dawn,
o       They were called free movies.  The town merchants paid for them to promote Saturday night business.  That was when all the farmers came to town.  The movies were an extra incentive to be sure and come.  Nearly all the movies had a serial with them.  Tess was bound and laid on the tracks and the train was bearing down on her  -  and then the reel stopped!  You had to return next week to find what happened.  Nearly every small town had 'free movies'.  There was always a popcorn stand.  The one who ran it may have been practising his only source of income during the summer.  It was a time looked forward to by all the youngsters; more so for the commaradie than the movie.  The girls hung with the girls and the boys with the boys.  But they purposely crossed paths to tease and caterwaul each other.  Besides you didn't want to miss, you might catch sight of that pretty/handsom girl/boy that you had your eye on.  You are right, every one brought a blanket to lay down on the street.  And they were shared, you didn't necessarily sit on your own families.  Wonderful times; we'll not see them again - -
o        I have no idea why you remember Bob Crosby - - -
o        You memtion the water tower, did you know that Ralph Bradbury (a cousin of yours, about third) took a dare he could not fly his Piper Cub down main street because the tower was there.  He flew it and managed to raise the plane fast enough not to hit the tower.  You can agree to some weird things while sitting in a tavern.    
o        You are right again, it does get hot in Illinois.  Jane and I often slept on the grass as it was cool and a breeze often helped.  Then Dad built a screened in porch and we slept there.  That reduced our time of scratching mosquito bites considerably.  But I don't ever remember it being too hot to work or play.  
o        I'm glad you remember the farm.  I do too, and your reminiscence caused me to recall fond memories - Thank you, Dawn.  
o       The work you had done at the Robert's grave site is beautiful.  All of my sisters and I marveled over it.  You and Marilynn are to be complimented and praised.  Future generations will be proud to see their forefathers so well remembered.    Love, Alan       

·      1) 6/29   Thanks for including me in the e-mail list, I enjoyed it.    Jim Sinsley

·      2) 6/29 Dawn -- you make childhood sound so appealing.  I remember lightning bugs --- something we didn't have in California.  Carolyn Lawson
·      3) 6/29    Dawn - What a charming and well written email - It truely is an ode to youth and fun and summer and great childhood memories! Well written too! Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday night! Lots of love – Michelle Milash

·      4) 6/29  Dawn,
o       I drove with Justin to Indiana last week. He got a job working for the Madison County surveying office. Justin's girl friend lives in Indianapolis. We drove really hard. Long distances everyday. I told him from the beginning that we were going to drive through Roberts. We drove past Dad's old house and through "downtown." I was tempted to stop at the Roberts Bar and Grill, but we were still pressed for time (at lease Justin thought we were pressed). We knew exactly where the cemetery was located. He had looked it up on Google maps. My mom gave me general directions to the Roberts grave site, but then lefts were confused with rights. The first familiar name I saw was Uncle Louie. He died in 1982 at the age of 99. Barbara and I met him the previous year when we did a cross country tour with Mom and Dad. Then Justin and I just strolled the rows until we found ROBERTS. Seeing Grandma Roberts' name, Uncle George, Aunt Elsie and Dad's head stone really got me choked up. 
o       I just wanted to tell you what a great job you did with the head stone. It was perfect. I had tried to make connections with people back there the year after Dad died. It just didn't seem to work. I think you had to be there to get the job done. You did it and did a fantastic job. I wish that I would have had some of Dad's ashes to bury there. There will be another time. We cleaned up all the Roberts head stones and took off toward Indiana.20A huge lightning storm greeted us as we hit the highway. It was entertaining for two hours. 
o       I'm headed to San Diego to visit Mom in mid July. Her vision is getting really weak. It will be great to visit her at the "institute." Thanks again sis, Brother Tommy

·      5) 6/30/09  Dawn, You bring back wonderful memories, and they are expressed in a captive, comforting story.  If I had your creative flow and were to write about my childhood, I would choose to relate it exactly like you have! This is really special. Thanks, cousin Dianne Wissmiller

The Sense of Us

The Sense of Us                              in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin
Dawn Janov with her sister, Marilynn Roberts on their sister trip                                 June 10, 2006
Soft as a kiss for a newborn.
Quiet as a fawn that is hiding.
Comfort in a sweater well worn.
Here is a place for the finding.

Sharp as a twig that is broken.
Beauty in all that you see.
For others a place that will open
Doors to a deep inner peace.

Listen to the lap of the lake
Partnered with the chirp of a bird.
What a great way to wake
Without ever hearing a word.

Thanks to you, John and Barbara McFarland.
It is a perfect plan.
The neat, restful, darlin’
The cabin of the "Otter Clan!"

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ukulele Memories

I was nineteen on the beach at Waikiki listening to a group playing ukuleles. Trade winds ruffling my hair, warm sand between my toes, when all of a sudden this beach boy shoved a ukulele in my hands and said, "Try playing with us."

So watching my new teacher, I learned chords and strums. When I returned home, the first thing I did was buy a 
Martin ukulele. Sad story, about a year later it was stolen. I went on to play a tenor and eventually a Gibson guitar, but never was it the fun or the wonderful sound of the lost ukulele.

Although I've been back to Hawaii many times with my family and for work, I've never been tempted to buy another ukulele.

Now that I'm old, I'm looking forward to my first love again, the ukulele. This time I wanted the best and a wonderful piece of history, the Kamaka Pineapple Ukulele. Thanks to Chrissie and Tekla at the Kamaka factory for helping me chose the right ukulele. It's being made right now by caring dedicated people. In a few short weeks my house will soar with music once more.

Here I am in a Colorado winter growing older, but I'll always be young in those places of my memories. I can still close my eyes and conjure up the places I saw through my eyes, the sounds and smells around me, and best of all, what I felt in that summer of 1958. My mind's eye is such a happy place to visit.

Hmm, makes me think about my resolution to only live in the now. Trying to enjoy the now is something I struggle with every day. Perhaps there is room for everything, the past experiences, the "right now", and a dream of where I want to be tomorrow. So for now, I'm spending some time in my memories. See you later. Aloha and Mahalo for reading my blog.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010!

The full Blue Moon climbs over the mountain top The fierce wind is blowing all the overcast clouds away clearing the path for the moon. The Ponderosa pines are swaying in a twisted dance to the siren song of the wind. The naked Aspens laugh at the fray.

The only one not enjoying the night is my Chihuahua, Luc. All he wanted to do is sniff the yard and choose a pot to pee, but the mischievous wind blew him a treat that scares him so bad he was jumping in 180 degree turns. He takes a look at the open door and makes a run o fast you can not see his legs.

Come on 2010. We are ready for you and the adventures you'll bring! Happy New Year's Eve.