Wednesday, January 22, 2014


A potpourri of stuff here...been a while since I've just done a slice of life. 

I've been watching some movies lately on Netflix.  I go in spurts...several months ago I watched all of the All Creatures Great and Small television series back to back.  Then I watched the first three seasons again.  I'm weird that way.  Stopped at the end of the third season because they changed the female lead, Carol Drinkwater, to another lady...don't remember her name but she wasn't nearly as good.  
So far I've only seen one movie that is memorable for me in this batch...a soppy romantic comedy called Stuck in Love.  There were others but I don't remember their names.  Two of them starred Keira Knightly.  Prior to those films I watched, she was only an emaciated photo on the internet.  Now at least I see there's some talent behind those bones.  Oh yeah, forgot to say that I watched Stuck in Love twice yesterday. Almost forgot to say, saw the second part of the Hobbit film after Christmas.  Considering that the director took less than two hundred pages and created a seven hour mega film (in three parts), he created a LOT of content.  Suffice it to say, if I didn't have people with me, I'd have gotten up and left.

Last year I read the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series volumes 1-14 three times.  Well, actually, that's a lie.  I started the reread of them in November of 2012.  That was because the 14th and final volume was to be published in January 2013.  I wanted to be up to speed.  Then, after only reading the first nine in two months (these books are all about the size of the Bible and then some), I read the new volume the day it got here.  Was it any good?  I don't know...the original author, Robert Jordan, died a number of years back and Jordan's wife (and the publisher) chose someone to finish the series.  Brandon Sanderson wrote volumes 11-14 from notes that Jordan left. Sanderson did a good job but Jordan, of course, would have been better. That final volume had a chapter longer than some books, 178 pages (Please Lord, don't let Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fame ever get his hands on this series to film, it'd probably be 50 hours long and 23 parts!). I read the series in its entirety twice more in the early months of 2013.  I started reading it in 1993 -- it was hard to believe that time investment had come to an end.  Sort of like movies and Lord of the Rings...I go in spurts.

The winter of 2013/2014 has been surprisingly mild.  I feel almost guilty saying this since most of the US has been stuck in a deep freeze.  We've had little snow and I've noticed in a few places, green NEW grass has been growing.   If this is global warming, I'll keep it (before winter started, we DID have ten days of colder weather than Alaska).  So far, we've been heating most of the house with the wood stove.  Our own woodlot has been providing most of the stove's fodder.  There are a plethora of dead limbs and piles of cut ones throughout the wood lot.  Those have been waiting for me to burn but we're burning them a little differently than originally planned.  Anything over 2 inches in diameter is coming back to the house for stove fuel. It takes a lot of wood but we have a lot to use.  Probably five or six years worth at this rate.

Several of the trees in the woodlot were dead because of horses who were pastured there.  Bored, they have chewed bark off some of them (wonder what makes them choose one over the other?) and "girdled" it. 
When all the bark in a circle is removed from a tree, it's like cutting off its blood supply.  The tree can't repair itself so it starves to death above the circle.  A young tree will often put out shoots from the roots but the older ones can't for some reason and they die the following season.  It's a shame, really, since we live in the high desert, greenery, WILD greenery of any sort is welcome.  These trees are all junipers and a six inch diameter tree, due to lack of water, could be fifty or a hundred years old.  However, juniper berries (used to make gin somehow) are very prolific on most of the mature trees and many birds eat them and poop out the seeds which seem to sprout wherever they are dropped.   According to the State Extension office, juniper trees are a nuisance because they suck ground water away from other wild plants (or not so wild if you're trying to grow hay) and are better off removed.
  Sad, really...we have old growth junipers here--800 and 1000 years old or more.  No way we're cutting any of those if they are hale and hearty.They make the most wonderful crooked shapes!

Our little family has been delighting in a new/old child this winter.  Seven years ago a family (well Mom and two kids) took refuge here when there were some dangerous situations for the children.  They spent days here and went home at night.  One of them, a gorgeous 6 year girl now 13 , has recently come back into our lives since she and her mom moved fairly close to us.  Right around Christmas this youngster started coming over and spending nights.  She's like a little sister to Bri.  She's always laughing and wants to help do EVERYTHING (well everything except for cleaning).  Her mom and dad were divorced and with her mom working, this young gal was spending oodles of time alone with two dogs and a cat.  I think she has missed the attention/affection of a nuclear family since mom has to work full-time and is also trying to build a new life for herself. 
So we welcome this youngster with open arms.  She misses her dad...and much of that is acted out on me.  She's very huggy and concerned.  Of course, to her, I'm like her grandpa.  Good thing, I couldn't keep up with her. She and Bri get along wonderfully--which is great because Bri needs the connection with other kids.
We also have a nineteen year old who lives here on occasion (since the Wednesday before Christmas she's only been here three nights to sleep).  At nineteen, she has a safe place to stay, adults who are very concerned and for the modest board of $100 she gets bed/food/entertainment/sometimes laundry service as well as food and care for her cat and dog.  She's spreading her wings and learning about life and love (and sex and beer) with parental figures who aren't (all that) judgmental and  are caring.  I doubt she'll be here long.  If nothing else, Bri's jealousy and resentment will drive her away.  The gal's one rule (well one of two or three) is no sex in our house--a rule we think she has broken several times -- and will likely be the reason she moves away.
  But that's okay.   We've given her a foundation and a number to call if she's in trouble...which she's used a couple of times already.  This gal is beautiful and if she keeps her head on straight, will do well.  It's kind of neat to watch her grow up since most of our foster kids have been long gone by this age.

Speaking of foster daughters...savvy facebook friends already know this, but my foster daughter, Jessie, and I are re-connected.   It was a long 18 months, believe me.  Lots of damage was created between us by her jealous partner but that's water under the bridge now.
We're still fragile, as I told her yesterday, but things are improving.  Like the mom mentioned above, she's working on rebuilding her life, too.  Her challenges are just beginning...there's three children involved all aged 10 and under.  When she needs help, both Maryann and I will help as we can...and we do have horses, lots and lots of horses, which can help heal many things.  

Horses...hay burners, manure makers, bank account drainers...all of them but I can't imagine life without them.  Our critters haven't made us much money since the economy tanked.   We've halved the size of our herd so far and more cutting back has to happen.  Unfortunately, a stallion got loose in a group of about 17 mares not once but twice this past fall.  There may be many more babies this year than originally planned.  Only time will tell, I suppose.   We had two fillies last summer that we're planning to keep.  One, a little black and white girl, is a daughter of our first horse.  She was a "booboo" too.  We're not entirely sure who her daddy is but she's a keeper... this was the first black and while female out of her black and white mom.  The other filly is again the daughter of a mare who is getting on in years and who produces magnificent babies. Named for our nineteen year old foster daughter, Kaitlyn is going to be absolutely gorgeous when she grows up.  These pics are all in winter woolies.

Of course, Precious (above) isn't going to be much bigger than her dam (although we THINK daddy is a pony).  Kaitlyn on the right is likely going to be small pony least that's what most of her siblings are.  And in her case, we KNOW who's her daddy :)

Then there's Bri. She is growing up.  Sometimes Maryann and I love the person she's becoming, other times, not so much.  She just spent a long weekend with the 4-H at a "leadership retreat." She met some new people, tied a fly, acted in a murder mystery and I'm sure did a fair amount of hot tubbing and visiting with the guys.
She's still not doing so well in school...well, actually in some classes she's excelling, in others, no.  Not too many years ago, schools offered alternatives to things like algebra, geometry, and the other higher maths.  Bri is struggling with geometry, has yet to pass algebra 1 and I'm not sure what is in the future.  Her bio-mom had the same issues and dropped out of school for this and other reasons.  In Bri's case, she is doing very well in the arts and language.  She isn't doing so well in "gym" where she is taking a "weights" class.  I never heard of anyone getting an "f" in gym if they went to class until Bri encountered this instructor. She goes every day she's in school and the teacher still fails her. Teacher is never there to speak with me.  I guess next semester Bri tries again with another instructor.  Bri does claim she's passing that class now but we'll see.

Bri has found that she really REALLY likes drama.  I watched her last fall at a drama festival and she is very good...but then, we all know she is a "drama queen."  Next month she goes to a regional competition to perform in the "solo" contest.  Her teacher hand-picked her for that.  Fingers crossed for her.  Whatever the outcome, she'll come home more poised, self-confident (and probably argumentative).  I'm glad she's doing well in this.  Must be in the kiss--laugh--her first "kiss" in school was with the nephew of one of the most talented young people I ever directed when she was in high school.  Maybe that talent got passed along to her that way.

So...enough.  I could go on with this all day.  Enjoy!


  1. Nice to hear all your odds and ends here. We, as parents, can only lead by example and setting limits so watching a child struggle with math is very trying. Been there. In our case, he managed to pass, barely, then developed a desire several years later to understand algebra. He took courses which he found very easy. He now understands that it's the interest in the course that creates the ability. Hope that happens for Bri.

    1. Jo, all I can say for Bri is fingers crossed. Eventually she'll get it or not. It really won't matter as long as we can get her a diploma. She's realistic about this. Her goal, for a while, was to become a marine biologist. She's figured out that math is a necessity to pursue that goal. She's changed her sights some now and has a different goal. Of course, at 16, she's allowed to change her mind as much as she wants...and I know she will (smile).


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