Sunday, September 27, 2009

Have you driven a Fjord lately?

Have you driven a Fjord lately?

Well, I can't say that I have but now, more than ever I sure would like to! I have long been interested in this facinating breed. They were the horses the vikings rode back in Norway and Sweden - how cool is THAT??? I mean, honestly - a viking horse? And they generally come in fantastic scandinavian names - Bjorn, Brita, Sven, Runar, Sverre, and, one of my faves - Uff da. Yes, there is a handsome stallion in South Dakota named Uffda. I love that. It makes me want to buy one of his foals post haste. But his friend, and farm mate Runar is much more handsomer.

Of course, we are not in the market for another horse - not really. This is pure pleasureable research. My husband has half heartedly said he wants to trail ride with me - and that, of course is good enough for me to start dreaming of 'his' next horse. Let me give you some much needed background on this one. You must understand.
Several years ago, Larry first mentioned he'd like to trail ride with me. GREAT! I started looking for a horse, I had found several fine prospects when he says he needed a 'man's horse' whatever that is. Turns out a 'manly' horse is one that LOOKS manly. O.K. got it. So, voila - we found an incredible Belgian draft gelding. Great guy - sweet as sweet can be. They got along great - until Larry decided to trail him. All was fine, except he hadn't practiced enough, and when Samson spooked, he didn't have the muscle memory to haul him around into an emergency stop. OH BOY. That ended with Larry taking a nasty dive off a 17.2hh Belgian at a full on canter. Not fun.

This happened a few times, and ended with Larry giving up on BIG horses. Next was a shorter, finer, Paint. That horse pulled his back somehow, and nearly put me in the hospital, so goodbye, Paint. Larry more or less swore off horses until he realized how much time I spend at the barn given half a chance (or so HE says.)

Now, he says he wants to ride, but it has to be a VERY even tempered SHORT horse. AH HA!

Enter, the Norwegian Fjord.

Incredible age old breed dating back PRE-Viking era. Selectively bred for centuries for their incredible (draft) temprament, laid back attitude, willingness, friendliness to people, and incredibly easy to train to boot. These horses have a reputation. The kind of reputation you WANT a horse to have. AND, they're short, averaging at 14.2 hands, (that's around 56" - at the withers, for you non-horsey folks) but, very stocky. Uncommonly kind, and easy to deal with, not to mention cute as a button with their manes roached to enhance their thick neck.

They excel at : driving, hauling logs, police work, trail riding, hunter jumper, and dressage, among other things. Oh, and stealing my heart. That's what else.

They are an honest to God, National Treasure in Norway, and they are hard to come by in this part of the country. But, I have yet to talk to someone who's owned/owns one that has had a problem with them. Which is why I think Larry would do well with them. Such a great rep, good personality, ugh. I could go on for days. Anyhow, Add this to the breeds I love list. They were there before, but now, they are cemented. Right next to Quarters. Yep. I can picture it now. Pretty little brown dun fjord dressed up in black leather harness, with jingle bells all over, hooked up to a shiny black laquer cutter sleigh. Jingle, jingle. Or, Skijorring through some open, fresh powder.... ooh baby.

Oh, and Larry likes them too. That's a good thing, right?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Just yesterday I was thinking about my mom's goonie paint mare, Rosie. You see, I trained Rosie to ride. She's the best kind of horse to train. Willing, calm, and brave. She doesn't buck - not yet anyhow, and she has never really caused a lick of trouble - well, outside of blocking traffic on the gravel road when I let her out to graze out of the pasture- and getting into the chicken food - and destroying any stall you put her in for longer to eat her grain - and giving Teddy a lovetap in the mouth when she ran past him(poor dog). Hmmm. well, I guess she gets into her share of trouble. But that is not the point.
Rosie is quite vocal. She learned this from her Auntie Wheezy. She nickers when she sees people - and she LURVES people. She is downright snuggly. When she is roaming loose on the farm, she likes to sneak up on unsuspecting teenage boys tinkering with machinery and hang her head right over his shoulder. Then nicker. Matthew hates her for this. I think it's endearing. He jumps up and shouts at her, and she just looks at him like she's saying 'who pissed in your oatmeal?'

She likes to get someones attention you see, when she wants back in with the rest of the girls. She takes charge like that, and since no person has ever hurt her, she thinks all people are good. That makes me happy.

Rosie has a new um, quirk. She has started flopping down at the gate. Generally this happens when she has decided it's time to eat, and us silly people are not moving fast enough to suit her. She will stand at the gate for oh, say 10, 15 minutes then just flop down like she just is too weak to go on. She lays there and plays dead until you go over and pick up her head. I have sat on her while she laid down like this and all she did was to pick up her head a little as if to say 'who's there? oh. It's just you. OK. nice to see you're finally here, but unless you have grain, I have no time to waste on you. night night.'
I have checked her feet, they are fine - not overly warm or cold, no injuries. Just a weird thing she does. I can find no physical reason for this - so it must be mental. Yes. The horse is weird. I wonder if she's going through an awkward teenage phase like some kids do. You know, where they just don't know what to do with themselves so they do bizarre things and act like it's perfectly sane. They even often look like they have no idea why they are doing such odd behavior, but they awkwardly do it anyhow? Yep. that's the feeling I get from her. But, she is a kind, sweet horse. And that makes it worth her oddball behaviors.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kayaks, Hidden Lakes and New Friends

This morning a good friend and I decided to commune with God and nature by spending our Sunday morning floating along the edge of a little lake I didn't even know was there. Simply beautiful scenery, the company was incredible, and to top it off, we made a couple of new friends.

It started out for me by sneaking out of the house after gently kissing my hubby and sons, and taking the dogs out to the horse barn with me to do some morning chores. They were happy to come along, and went through the big barn with me to pull a bale of hay, but when I headed to the horse barn to feed the girls, they decided they didn't want to go that route. I can't say as I blame them. Last time they tried to be friendly with the horses Teddy got a little love tap from Rosie in the mouth. Instead, they ran to the top of the stairs and waited ever so patiently for my return.

So, dogs out - check. Horses fed, - check. Fam kissed and properly set up before I leave - check. And, it's not quite 8:30am. Killer.

Off I go to pick up a little OJ and water, and meander over to my dear friend Deanna's to load up a couple of Kayaks and hit the water. When I got there, her dogs greeted me like family - lots of puppy kisses all around!! We loaded up her truck, and headed to a little lake not far from her place. I had no idea such a nice little spot was there. We put in at the public landing, and started our incredible morning trip. Meandering around the curvatures of the lake, greeting and being greeted by the one pair of fishermen, and a handful of resident humans, swans, and mud ducks. I even got dive bombed by a wren. What an incredible way to kick off the day! Drifting through the lillypads, watching the bullrushes and cat tails sway and bend in the morning breeze, the sunlight illuminating every leaf. Every sparkle on the water twinkling a cheerful good morning.

We took the grand tour of the lake. Exploring the shorline from a distance, taking it all in, and soaking in the morning lake air. Oh! How I miss living on a lake when I get an experience like that. Great conversation took up the morning as we both caught up with each other on our day to day lives, and reminisced the times we've shared over the years - has it really been 17 years??? SO hard to believe! I was just a snotty punk when we met, not long after her return to Michigan from Alaska. It was her dog - the Ambassador of Golden Retrievers, Sir Rusty Musty Halitosis that made me fall for the Golden. He truly was the best dog that ever lived. We remembered Rusty in his prime, and the good times we had with him. We waved to fishermen, and gentlemen doing sunday yardwork. We took pictures on the lake. Then something unexpected happened as we closed in on the end of our morning adventures.

We met Bill. He hailed us with a good morning, and then, unexpectedly and quite welcomed, invited us to coffee with him and his lovely wife, Ingrid.

What a charming couple! They were sweet and engaging, and everything a couple married for nearly 50 years should be. Incredibly warm and welcoming, I really enjoyed meeting Bill and Ingrid, but then it kept going! They showed us around their Paradise Island, and took us into their home to show us around the charming lovely and happy little house, and all of their outbuildings. We heard some of their history together, and the history of their home. We got to see pictures of their family and my hand to God, their granddaughter has some of the prettiest blue eyes I have ever seen on a child. I showed them pictures of my sons, and we all hugged when we were finally ready to shove off their little island and head back to the public landing. I don't know how long we spent with them, but they were incredible. Turned out Bill even knew my grandfather from his time at I&M. What a small, small world this can be.

I'm sure Deanna and I will put in again and see Bill and Ingrid - hopefully we'll get the chance to bring them a bottle of wine, or some other little token to truly show our gratitude for their incredible hospitality to a couple of punk kayakers on a random sunday morning.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11th, 2001

Back in 2001, my family was having problems. My grandfather was battling his last battle with cancer. We all knew it. He knew it. Chemo had been discouraged, though not nearly sternly enough. He still wanted to fight to the last. The chemo was too strong for him, but instead of telling him 'I'm sorry, Mr.Howard, the cure is worse than the disease, enjoy your time left with your family' the doctors just gave him a half dose. His last months were painful for everyone. He struggled for everything, and we all fought to help him. My husband had proposed the Christmas before, and when I saw how my strong, strong grandfather (who in my eyes had never lost to anyone, or anything) was losing his fight, I asked my then fiancee if we could move our wedding up so my grandfather could be around to see us, or at least know we were married. He loved my grampa, and grampa loved him, so he agreed. We rushed the plans for our wedding, and we nearly missed it anyhow when Grampa had a very near miss with death a month before the wedding. But, he hung on. We got married away from home, I knew deep down, that even if we'd been married in town, Grampa could not have gone. He was bedridden by that point. When we got back, he was still himself, though weak. We wore our wedding clothes for him, and I swear, I have never seen such a smile. He was proud of me & my hubby. But it was so bittersweet. He passed away not quite a week after we were married. But I can always know that he knew, and he approved. And that means the world.
I was still deeply grieveing for my grandfather when I went into work that day. I was working at a pet store, and Grampa was always heavily on my mind. I was in the bird room when my boss started shouting from upstairs. I couldn't understand her from the noise in the room, and my little friend, DJ laughing in my ear. I walked out, DJ still on my shoulder. She told me to come look at the news. The two of us stood there in shock. Tears starting to stream down both of our faces. I was the one that broke it up. After all, they were in New York, and here we were, the animals still needed to be looked after. I still popped in from time to time to hear the news. I was still there when the second plane hit. We were horrified. Only DJ seemed to not notice. chewing on my hair, pulling on my collar. By this time, I was numb. I mumbled something about Bin Laden. (I still remembered some of the names that Clinton had let free. I was sure it was him, though I could not remember all of his name. I wish I could forget it now.)
Somewhere along the way, the chores at the shop got done. I was only supposed to help open up, then I was gone. I cried all the way home, wondering what my Grandfather, who had lied about his age to join the navy after Pearl Harbor, would have thought about this.
A tiny part of me was glad that he didn't live to see New York and the Pentagon attacked. He would have been incensed, angry, and mournful, just like all of us were.
I was grateful that I didn't know of anyone in New York at the time, or if I did, I didn't know they were there.
My heart was crushed when the first tower fell. I can't even begin to explain it. But, I don't have to. Any American with a soul felt the same way. The sorrow of the innocent lives lost. The pride for the brave souls on Flight 93.
The belief in my heart that more people on the plane could have fought back, but were in too much fear or shock to believe what was happening.

I still remember some of the numbers that the reporters were spouting off - their estimates of the dead and dying far outstipped what was found. I still don't trust the reporters at NBC. They seemed the most .... thrilled at this tragedy. The one that seemed the most enthralled was Lester Holt. I liked him before. But he had this manic look in his eyes that I will never forget or get over. Does anyone else remember that look? Lauer looked scared. So did most of the others, but Holt - wow. I can't even describe it. I know I watched every other newscast that day, but that one reporter. I can't even begin.

And here we are. 8 years later. I still live in the same place. I am still married to the same man. We still help my Grandmother, even though my parents are now with her. But, we have a 7 year old son, and a 7 month old son. We lost a baby between the two, but we still had each other, and our son. The wise wise wise little man.
I still think of Grampa every day. However, I now think of every patriot that has defended our country and our way of life. Every Day. Thank you for your sacrifices. You are appreciated. You are remembered. And, you are loved, by many that you do not, and may never know. Thank you.
And, that little weasel hiding in the mountains - we haven't forgotten you either. Though our administration may be a little lax right now, does not mean that you're off the hook. We're going to get you sooner or later. Sooner would be better, but better later than never.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Computers SUCK

We were having some pretty serious technical difficulties with our last laptop. For one, when we got it, the battery was fried. Never held a charge for longer than 15 minutes. That is SO irritating. You can't even check email in that amount of time - I mean, come on. It was fine as long as it was plugged in. Problem was, the cord was half worn out as well. So we ended up searching for a new replacement power cord. No prob - 50 bucks later, we were back in business. Then the stupid thing decided the port for the power was going to need to cord to be just so for it to funcion. Hey, even that I could work with - typing one handed so I could hold the cord just where it liked it. But then that didn't even work. No spare money to drop into a new machine - what's a girl to do?
Well, long story short, we are buying my mom's laptop. Don't know what kind it is. I do know that I have a key pad on this one, and that moves my arrows over, so I am forever hitting numbers when I mean to down arrow. I'm sure I'll adjust.
However, now comes the problem of what to do about getting off all the pictures of my sweet little monkeys. There are many on there, not to mention the half billion bookmarks of sites that I cannot remember one of. Ugh. I do NOT want to start over on that ball of wax. Oh no. I will find a way to make that damn thing work long enough to remove what I need. Oh yes, I will. And when I am finished, I will use the stupid thing for target practice. Yes. That's a good use for a fried computer. Sight in my rifle. Deer season is coming, ya know. A girl has to be ready. That's right. Ready to go and sit with a camera, and let the does walk over her legs again for the 6th year running. I know, I could shoot one, but I am holding out for a buck. The does always have babies with them, and I can't be responsible for orphaning one. So, I'll let them walk over my legs again. Such an odd feeling to have deer walk almost on top of you. So far, they have not known that I was there. Maybe I'll procure a trail cam and take some pics of them walking over me. THAT would make for some good stories, eh? No, no, no. That won't do. Then I'll have to explain to my hubby why I didn't shoot her. Hmmm. damn. Another dilemma. But, I am off to bed for now. It must be done so I have the strength to stay awake while my son works on his handwriting. It has to be more boring for me because I am not doing anything at all.
Wait - what was I talking about? How did I get here? Nevermind. Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fall Kimi Style

Oh, how my heart aches. Tis the season - the MOST wonderful time of the year, for sure. When it's nice out, I look at the trees, and breathe in the cool air and can think only of the wonderful things that most people think of - hearty soups, autumn colors, fresh bread, apples & cinnamon .... you know. Like most ladies of distinction. However,all of that happens to tie into other things that make me obsessive this time of year - Trail riding through fresh fallen leaves, fighting my horse off the apple trees, and my favorite favorite favorite part of the season .... bear hunting season.

I have long had a love for bears. Always fascinated by them, dream of them, and of course horses. One day in my future, I hope to combine the two, on a nice pack hunt out west where I can only get to my bear by long trail ride, and can only get it out by pack mule. If I'm lucky - a BIG pack mule, lol.
Anyone who has known me for even a little while at just about any juncture in my like knows that my heart yearns to go north. I want to be in the only other place in the world that I feel like I am home - the upper peninsula of Michigan. The air is cleaner, colder, and crisp. The humidity is not as bad as it is here, and the people are wonderful. So far, all the folks I've had contact with are just what I want to be around - when I want to be around people that is, which is not so often.
Bear season will start soon, and the gentleman that put me on my first bear, and his guys that crack me up so much (super nice guys) have been getting set up for the opener, I'm sure they're busy as hell, checking everything time after time after time, to be sure that they are ready for the hunters that they will guide to the woods. Whether they know it or not, I consider them friends of mine. I think they do - there was some pretty heavy picking going on both ways last time, and as my Grampa Harry always said 'If I didn't like you, I wouldn't pick on you'. We're weird like that.
Until I went hunting in that reigon of the upper, the only other place that I felt like I was home was near Escanaba - of course, that nearly is home. I have family that I love there, and I visit every chance that I get. This fall will be the second year that I haven't gone up to hunt, and my trigger finger is getting anxious. Last time I sat in my stand there, I saw wolves, coyotes, deer, pine martins, ravens, squirrels, partridge, foxes, and even got the crap scared out of me when a porcupine fell out of a tree nearly beyond my line of vision. The first bear on that trip I saw was a pair of cubbies that tried to climb my tree. I watched them for 3 days, on the final day, their mama let me know she was there, and that she knew that I was there too. I have never felt more polite, yet happy to have a gun in my lap. The next stand, was a bomb, but that's where I saw the porky. funny buggers. Another stand was a bust on my fault. I misunderstood my directions, and thought that I had to walk myself out. I stayed until I couldn't see then walked out - should have stayed. Dumb move, on my part. Saw deer and ravens there. At one point (don't remember the order, there were quite a few) came the perfect stand. Nice big, beautiful bear, and I was ready. Calm, cool, eased myself to take the shot - and clean missed. Took me a while to figure out that I was a moron for not shooting out of my treestand with all my camo on before we went up. Scared the crap out of the bear he sat down clean on his backside, then bolted. That's why I really did think I hit him- never saw him again, and there was no sign that I had actually made contact. Boy, did I feel like a jackass on that one. I could have my order of where I sat screwed up, but I digress. The last stand, I was told there was no way I would see another mama. I had gotten close enough to one, and had no desire to see another. For 3 days I watched this one little bear come in, and grind his face into the bait, scratch his butt on a tree, and act like a goon. A big bear rushed in and scared him, but I never saw him. I had stayed til nearly end of my hunt period and the fam was starting to miss me, so I decided that even if I only saw the little bear, I would take him. He wasn't a cub, but compared to my first bear he was a little guy. Still, after nearly a month of hunting, I knew that to me, it was better to go home with something than to go home empty handed. So, thats what I did. I shot the little guy, then not 20 minutes after I shot him, his bookend twin came in, and was promptly scared off by a mama and 2 cubs. Oh, boy. Mom saw the downed bear(died instantly) and treed them about 20 yards from me. They were eye level with me them in their big white pine, me in my cedar. She paced around, sniffed everywhere, circled my tree for a bit, sat at the base of my tree, walked to her cubbys tree, and laid down. She never once looked up at me. Never knew I was there. The cubbies saw me, but didn't make a sound. We 4 sat like that until after dark when my guide/friend came to pick me up. As soon as she saw the lights from his atv, she blasted off the way she came, cubs still in the tree. That was about the only time I got nervous, as I knew that they were still treed, and she would now be on the offensive. As he walked in to help me out of the tree, I told him there were 2 cubs in the pine, and mom took off the way he came. He grabbed my bear, and threw him on the atv as I climbed down. His advice to me - don't unload your gun. Oh boy. So down I went, gun loaded, safety on (not my preference, but I knew the danger was quite real) he ran to meet me at the base of the tree, telling me 'don't talk, don't rush too much, but try to be quick - I have your back' I was so happy he was there at that moment. As I undid my harness, he pulled the stand, and had me go ahead of him out of the stand. Threw the stand on the atv, and said - 'don't unload til we're at the truck' oh. wow. that, I didn't expect. I figured we were cool. not so, apparently. As we blasted down the trail, he told me that was the most dangerous situation all season. I know he was right. But I didn't want to think of it at the time. It was a great hunt all in all. Great people helping me. I cannot stress that enough. GREAT people helping me. I love those guys they're hands down the best there is, and as I said - he worked his tail off trying to get me on a bear. No one could have tried harder, and for that I am grateful. I am grateful they did much of what they did. Setting up stands, running me in & out to all of them, hauling out the bear, hell, he even gutted it for me this time. (I asked him to, there was a different method he had than I did, I wanted to see it) Hell, when I was up and on my own, he even made sure I got into my cabin before he went home. Great, gentlemen. All of em. Had fun while my hubby was up too, though he got his durning the first week, then we went home, and I went back. I couldn't stand leaving my tag unfilled.
Of course, this would bite me in the ass a bit it took me another week or so, even though I did get my bear(oh, horrors, a week alone in the UP! I was in heaven). My car died about 20 miles west of the mackinac bridge on the way home. I had to wait for hubby to come and save me, my car, and my bear. But even with that, I made some friends in Naubinway. I remember walking in flustered as hell. The woman behind the counter at the resteraunt looked concerned, asked if I needed to use the phone. I said, 'well, my car is dead. I'm stranded, at least for 6 hours. SO - what do you do for fun around here?' Such great people - you just don't have too look too hard to find them. I even wrote a story about it that got published in the Porcupine Press. My way of acknowledging the wonderful people up there. I will make it one day. All I ask for is a nice little cottage, with a wood burner, and enough land for me & my horses to be happy. Doesn't have to be massive. 12 acres would be just fine. Yep. Just enough land for a little house, a little barn, round pen, riding arena, and pastures. Hell, a little more room never hurt anyone either.... lol. One day. One day.
And when I do - oh, boy. Black bears, beware. I will stalk you for years between licenses getting to know which one I want in my freezer. Oh, my..... bear stew. How I miss you. Probably another year anyhow, unless we move there first. oh..... my dreams. Maybe still possible. I hope, I hope!