Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red Horse Mountain Ranch

So. worth. every. penny.

The "crik". The colors of the rocks were so beautiful.

(for our friend Syringa)

They are refurbishing the saloon, where they'll have live music and dancing. It sits down in the field amidst the horse pastures.

Anna practicing to be a "wrangler".

This sweetie-pie is related to the hairy beasts that live on their ranch in Boise. I've been charged by those long-horned monsters before; they don't like to have their pictures taken, for the record. This one, Belle, really was sweet, and she LOVES to eat muffins. And, uh, anything else.

This is Poco; he had the most gorgeous markings. I want him.

This place is so magical. From the moment we arrived, we felt like we'd come "home". As we arrived, someone came bounding out of the lodge, greeted both Anna and I by name and carried in our luggage. She gave us a great tour of the property and told us to be sure to stick around after dinner for the cowboy poet. After we ate, they set up a comfy leather couch in front of the huge stone fireplace and he serenaded us as Anna lay in my lap. The other guests hadn't yet arrived, so it was just me and Anna and the wranglers, enjoying this crusty old guy with the voice of an angel.

(A note about the "wranglers": they are all 20-somethings who share a common love of horses. They live on the ranch, some year-round, and you can feel the sense of community. It would be Anna's dream job (mine too, if I were 20 years younger), to live on that gorgeous ranch and spend each day caring for and riding horses. Some of them come for a season or two and end up staying for years. One of our wranglers was raised in Connecticut and was on a yuppie career-path when she realized that she didn't want to spend her life in pantyhose and heels, surrounded by sky-scrapers. So she made her way out west and she's been on the ranch for 8 years now.)

As we were eating breakfast the next morning, one of the gals came and sat down next to Anna and very solemnly said "I just talked to the wranglers and they're short-handed down at the barn this morning. We don't know how we're going to get the horses ready to ride in time. Do you think you might be able to help?" Anna just BEAMED. She didn't even finish her breakfast because she didn't want to be late. They put her to work brushing the horses and even had her pick their hooves. She loved every minute of it.

We got to go on two long rides on Saturday; despite it being chilly and there still being some snow on the mountain, it was so beautiful and Anna had perma-grin the entire time. She charmed the wrangler ahead of her by talking the entire time, telling her everything she knew about horses (which is A LOT) and the different experiences she's had riding. She remembers the name (and breed and color) of every horse she's ever ridden.

Yesterday I received the nicest email from the owner, thanking us for our visit and saying how "extraordinary" everyone found Anna to be and that she was on his radar to become a wrangler in 2020. It was very cute. He also said that, as a fellow Boise High School grad, I would be entitled to a life-long discount; the discount code is the name of an eccentric teacher we discovered we'd both had and had shared a laugh about.

I'm telling you, the ranch is so beautiful and the people so charming, that by the time you leave you are already plotting how soon you can come back. I know I am.

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's official.

This post will mean nothing to those not related to me, because if you didn't know my grandma, you won't know WHAT the hell I'm talking about. So either move along to dooce.com, or you're welcome to stick around while I once again prove what a dork I am.

My grandma Gertrude was a....trotter. By that I mean she, well, trotted wherever she went. It was a matter of efficiency you see: if she was in the kitchen and it was time to pull the laundry out of the dryer, she trotted to the laundry room. If she was in the living room and the timer went off, she trotted into the kitchen because, you know, that .021 seconds she saved by trotting could be used elsewhere, later. I don't know that any of us gave grandma's trotting much thought until we started to notice our mother doing it too. Oh, she tried to pretend she wasn't trotting (she still denies it) but every time she trots through the house from one task to another, my sisters and I give each other a knowing glance that says "oh yeah, she's totally turning into grandma".

Well, as my sisters and I grew older, and we found ourselves pulled in several different directions, there may have been one or two times we caught ourselves trotting. I remember when I first moved out on my own, I'd come home from work and be so looking forward to collapsing on the couch in front of the TV, that I, maybe every now and then, caught myself trotting from the bedroom where I'd changed into my comfortable clothes to the kitchen where I'd grab a bowl of cereal for dinner. Because the .021 seconds I'd saved by trotting? Meant an extra .021 seconds on the couch in front of the TV. I'd laugh to myself and swear that no one EVER needed to know about this. But then, of course, when I got together with my sisters, I'd have to confess that I'd caught myself trotting....which meant it probably wouldn't be too long until I started keeping used kleenexes and stuffing them up my sleeves or in my bra to use again later.

Anyway, I just got back from a visit with my physical therapist. I'd gone, a couple of weeks ago, to have a running analysis done. That's when they have you run on a treadmill while they film you. Then they enter the video into a special program that allows them to analyze your gait and determine what is causing your pain. You know, do you pronate? Do you supinate? Are you landing too much on your heels instead of flexing through your entire foot when you run? Two weeks later then have you come back in to tell you what they've determined and how you can work with your issues to eliminate the pain.

Well, after analyzing the data, his official diagnosis?


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who's the best mom in the world? Huh? Who is?

SSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Don't tell Anna, but I'm surprising her with a overnight trip to Red Horse Mountain Ranch this weekend, in honor of the fact that it's Spring Break. Since we took our big trip to Maui in February, Anna's Spring Break is going to consist of being shuttled around between her dad and boths sets of local grandparents.

But we GOTTA do something, don't we??

Eric and I had taken Anna to Red Horse Mountain for her birthday few years ago, and she hasn't stopped talking about it since. But since then the ranch was purchased by the Tertling family; they're from Boise and when I was little, they owned what amounted to a mini "Wonderland" (you know, like Wacko Jacko) with a full-sized railroad (!) around their property, a carousel for their kids and llamas wandering about. Anyway, since they purchased the ranch, it's gotten prohibitively expensive for "regular folk", meaning everyone except wealthy east-coasters in search of a "real dude ranch" experience. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Anyway, because it's the "shoulder season" they made me a great deal. So! I'm going to pack all of her stuff tonight and I'll just load her up in the car tomorrow and not tell her where we're going. Then we'll settle in to a cozy tiny log-cabin, have dinner followed by Cowboy Poetry by the big stone fireplace and then spend most of Saturday riding horses. She's gonna hate it. :)

(The above photos are from Red Horse Mountain's Face Book page. Yes, even dude ranches have FB pages now.)

Now git on out there an' have a great weekend ya'll!!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

::craft geek part 84::

Yesterday my niece, Jacki, threw down a challenge: she'd seen some very cute felt-flower headbands and, knowing how I love me some felt, asked me if I could do something similar.

I went home, dug into my copious stash of felt and got busy cutting. This is my first attempt, and I learned some things: extremely sharp scissors are KEY. Mom, I would like to say right now, on the record, that I now understand why you were such a Nazi about keeping us kids from using your "good sewing scissors" to cut things like, oh, cardboard and wire. I apologize for using them to turn all my Barbies into dykes.

Anyway! I also woke up in the middle of the night (thanks, Jacki) thinking that next time I'm going to try spraying the crap (yes that's a technical craft term) out of the felt with STARCH before cutting it, to make the cut edges that much cleaner. Also, my mom had mentioned that little girls might not appreciate (or keep on their noggins) traditional stiff headbands, so I picked up a couple of these stretchy headbands. It's not too shabby for my first attempt but nowhere near as cute as the ones Jacki saw on etsy.

The important part is that it must be worn as a headband, NOT as one of those ridiculous garter-belts some mother's put on their babies. This one is intended for Jacki's sweet little blondie, and I think her hair is FINALLY long enough to wear it properly.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Now that my beloved Barack Obama is in the White House, I haven't had to get on my soap-box for awhile now. But I'm feeling "tangent-y" this morning, so look out.

In the past few days, I've heard news out of the small Oregon resort town where Eric and I lived: the couple who owned the evil-corporate empire that almost ruined us? Just filed for bankruptcy. This couple discovered, many years ago, a beautiful little village on the Pacific Ocean and couldn't help but notice that it was one of the few remaining coastal towns that hadn't been paved over with shopping malls and gigantic vacation houses. So they set about doing so in order to make themselves rich. I know from working very closely with this couple that their plan was to make as much money as they could and then they would buy a huge amount of land in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Oregon on which they could spend their remaining years....far away from concrete and shopping malls. They proceeded to build ridiculous spec-homes (meaning that they "speculated" that people with money to spare would come along and pay millions of dollars) are in deep trouble now that the bottom has dropped out of the real-estate market. They directly contributed to the "Californication" of this formerly quaint little fishing village, and now the grim-reaper of foreclosure and bankruptcy has come for them.

I also recently read in Vanity Fair, an article about Bernard Madoff, famous now for his Ponzi scheme which will land him in prison, hopefully for the rest of his life. He had ENORMOUS minimums that he required in order to "let" people give him their money. And in the name of GREED, they threw money at him, often their life-savings. Yes, there are stories of Palm Beach widows who trusted their husbands and put everything with Madoff who are now having to sell everything and go live with their grown children. I do feel sorry for them, because they were of the generation where women relied completely on men to tell them how to handle their assets. Others who invested with him though, were filthy rich and felt a sense of entitlement to make an even more obscene amount of money. Because a $600 million dollar portfolio just isn't good enough.

It makes me sick and frankly, I don't feel sorry for those people. All of them, from the resort-town developer to the multi-millionaire hoping to become a billionaire, they took RISKS. And that's the thing with risk: you MAY become filthy rich...or you MAY lose your ass and have to sell your private plane and your $25 million dollar chalet in Aspen. I am sick to death of listening to these people whine.

What is wrong with these people that it's just never enough? It's not enough to have 2 or 3 monster homes, a multi-million dollar yacht on which they spend half the year traveling to the world's most exclusive resorts, not to mention the ability to pay for their children (and great-granchchildren for that matter) to go to the most expensive schools in the world? How much more do they "need"?? So now that their RISKS did not pay off as they expected them to (indeed, as they felt ENTITLED to) they might have to live like the rest of us and we're supposed to feel sorry for them?

The extremes of wealth and poverty in this country are sickening. What is wrong with just being in the middle, having just what you need and some of what you want, and if you have more, share it with others so that they might have what they need too?

Yes, that sounds a bit like Socialism, but really, would that be so bad?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

::peas in a pod::

Anna has a friend Audrey. Audrey is the same age as Anna and into the exact same things (ie: ANIMALS). When they get together to play, it sounds like this:

"Ok, so I'm a baby Australian Shepard who is 3 months old. I'm mostly black with white patches but I have some brown spots behind my left ear. My two back legs are white and my two front legs are black with white only on the paws. My mom died when I was born and I live on a farm. One of the mama sheep was nice to me when my mom died and now I thinks she's my mom, ok? So now when I need something I go find my mama sheep and I whine like this: mmmm MMMM mmmmMMMM and she knows that that means I'm hungry, ok?"

"Ok! And I'm a little brown goat who lives at the farm with tiny hooves and baby horns and white on my nose. I'm 6 months old and I have two sisters who are older than me but they never play wih me. Once when I was only 2 weeks old I fell into the pond so now I'm afraid of water. You and I are best friends and we like to play hide and seek in the barn where the barn owl lives with her babies and sometimes we go for walks in the forest, but when you get too close to the creek I get scared and go Meeeh! MEH! Meeeeeeehhhhh!!!! Ok?"

On other words, they speak the same language. All they talk about is animals: what kind and how many they'll have when they grow up, what kind they are going to try to talk their parents into next.

This morning when I was going through Anna's backpack, digging out important (and not so important) paperwork, I came across this card from Audrey:

And inside:

Sage advice from an 8 year old, no?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

::ex-wife of the year::

I have a confession to make and what better place to purge myself than here on the internet?!

So. Most of you know the situation with my ex-husband Eric. He is one of my dearest friends. I'm thankful every single day that I'm not married to him any more, but I adore him. He is a wonderful father, is a hard-worker, will do ANYTHING for anyone and he just has a pure heart of gold.

And he is dating the woman from hell. Let me re-cap, if I may, some of her more memorable infractions:

* In attempt to bring her into our family and make her feel welcome, I invited her to Anna's 6th birthday party, to the home I share with my new husband. Eric's entire family was there, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents. We had wine, there were candles lit, the music was playing, Eric's mom and dad were each there with their new spouses....it was all very civilized and warm and friendly and there was much laughter. *J* (as she shall be called) showed up an hour late. She came into the kitchen where some of us were laughing about the birthday cake Eric had made from scratch (!) that turned out really dry. She said "Well. I don't know HOW you managed to screw it up. You were using my $50 cake pans!" ..... But wait! There's more! So, in attempt to lighten things up and change the conversation, I asked about a mutual friend of ours (an old boyfriend of hers that she is still very friendly with). I said to her "I hear Peter was just in town and that he brought a new girl to dinner with you guys." She turned to Eric and, with his sweet, very Christian mother right behind him, said "You are such a fucking gossip." AWKWARD!! Then she left the party shortly afterward without ever saying anything to the birthday girl. Buh bye.

* Once, Eric, *J* and Anna went out to dinner. Anna was extremely tired and apparently she had a melt-down (this was when she was 6). The next day I saw *J* out walking her dogs and stopped to say hello. I said "I hear Anna was a real pill last night at dinner", you know, kind of laughing, like "Kids! What can you do!" and she literally sneered and said "Oh yeah, she was JUST. PRECIOUS." I think I showed amazing restraint by not giving in to my urge to step on the gas and run her over.

* Last summer Eric had a terrible accident with a skill-saw and cut a large portion of his finger off. He had to have emergency surgery. She waited SEVEN HOURS to call and tell his daughter (and me) about this accident. Anna and I rushed right to the hospital, where *J* told us that it was "unnecessary" for us to stay. Excuse me...I don't really recall asking for your permission to care about the man I've known for 13 years and am raising a child with.

* She has NO skills with children and is so clueless about how to be part of Anna's life that I'm not sure she was ever a child herself. Her idea of "bonding" with Anna is to have Anna "help" in her yard by PICKING UP DOG POOP. Once Anna put the bag with the poop in it in the kitchen trash can (ok, maybe not the best choice but come on...why is she picking up *J's* dog poop in the first place?) and *J* demanded that ANNA WRITE AN APOLOGY LETTER TO HER.

* For my daughter's 7th birthday *J* gave her a GIFT CERTIFICATE TO A GOURMET CHEESE SHOP. Seriously.

* She makes NO attempt whatsoever to be friendly and warm to Eric's family and routinely refuses to accompany him to family get-togethers. Finally last Christmas he demanded she go to his mother's with him for dinner. *J* stood in the living room brooding and said to my ex-sister-in-law "I do not do Christmas. I hope you all know what a sacrifice this is for me to be here today." Eric's mother even got her a Christmas present; knowing that *J* loves her yard and garden, she got her a watering-can that was, apparently, a little funky and hand-crafted...but the intent was pure. Anyway, *J* opened it, looked at it, put it down without thanking Eric's mother AND THEN LEFT IT THERE when she left.

On top of all this, she is barely even nice to Eric. They have been together for two years and basically she keeps him around to build things for her (new fence, a "party patio", yard work) and to take care of her dogs when she is gone. Eric isn't "allowed" to stay the night because the dogs like to sleep with her. She has two Rhodesian Ridgebacks that she treats like lap dogs: she throws BIRTHDAY PARTIES FOR HER DOGS with party hats, balloons, party favors, and they each get their very own special birthday cake.

Last night Anna was saying how daddy was mad because *J* "made" him go buy dog-food for her dogs while she "sat on her butt and watched the news." I told her "Honey, people can only take advantage of you with your permission." But you know what? I've had it. It would be different if she were the love of his live, his soul-mate....but she's not and he admits it. SO WHY IS HE WASTING HIS TIME WITH HER???

So here comes my confession. Anna and I went "shopping" on match.com last night (where I found the love of MY life) for women for her daddy. What?! It was ANNA'S idea. Anyway, I oh-so-subtly sent him some links to women who love to camp, hike, ski, garden, kayak and most importantly, LIKE CHILDREN.

What do you think...am I going straight to hell?

Friday, March 6, 2009

::grace of small things part 3::

* Sitting at the table last night, having dinner with Anna, David and Eric after we all attended the Literacy Fair at her school. Anna LOVES when she gets to have all 3 parents together. I do too.

* Hearing Killdeer and Red-Winged Blackbirds the last few days. Spring MUST be near, right?

* Knowing that tomorrow afternoon, I will meet David for lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant.

* Running outside. I've missed that.

* Catching up with old friends on Face Book.

* Fridays.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ok, ok, so I might have to buy some new pants

Because of my running, I am already down a size! After less than two months. heh heh. I'd felt like my jeans were really baggy in the butt lately...but I figured they'd regain their shape after washing. But it's not my pants, it's ME who has changed shape. Yesterday I grabbed some jeans out of the drawer and put them on and was like "Aaaah, these fit perfectly!" Turns out they are a size smaller than I've been wearing and they somehow ended up on top in my drawer. It's been so long since I've comfortably fit in this size I never would have thought to try them. And they aren't even tight. (If there are any men reading this, you won't understand how monumental this is. But my women readers will totally get it. It's a big deal, a full pants size.)

So despite my vow to "buy nothing", I might just have to buy some new jeans. But that is an expenditure I can feel great about.

I love running.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

sometimes I make stuff

We have a baby coming in April! No, not ME; my niece is having a baby girl. This weekend I made a dress for her and I have to say I am pretty damned proud of it:

It's the Comfy Jumper Dress from Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones book, using Amy Butler fabric, which I'd originally bought to make a bag for my dear pink-loving friend Christina, but then I decided it was waaaay too girlie for her. So I've been waiting for the perfect project; I think I found it.

I'm going to make bloomers to match this too, just as soon as I can make sense of the pattern. Also? Notice the lack of button holes? That's because I can not for the life of me make button holes and the sad thing is, I have a machine that supposed does it in "one easy step!" But I'll be damned if I can figure it out. Luckily this baby's grandma (my sister) is seamstress, so if all else fails I'll send it as is and let her do the button holes. Hey, I did the hard part.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I LOVE making clothes for babies and kids. It is almost instant gratification (which appeals to my gnat-like attention span) and also, you can have more fun with fabrics and patterns.


Last weekend, Christina came for a sleepover sans kiddos, a first! We spent the entire weekend crafting: she had a bunch of felt that she sewed into beautiful colorful flowers and I sewed. It was just like in college, where we became friends spending late nights in the art-studio on campus. She'd hauled her paint-splattered radio up to the studio and we'd set up shop: music, a bottle of wine and we'd spend HOURS working side by side on our projects for textile class. We bonded over fabric and art and creativity, and it was so much fun to get to do it again, 15 years later. I mean, how many friends can you just sit and do something as nerdy as sewing together and have it be totally fun?? It felt like we'd come full-circle.

And over the table covered in bits of fabric and felt and thread and scissors, we began to talk again, as we had in college, about doing something with our creativity. We work in very different ways: she is loose and wild and creative. I am more structured and need patterns. But we have the same sense of style and LOVE to create things for children. And so, we are going to start building inventory and see if we can sell our wares. Christina will paint furniture which she loves to scour the thrift-shops for (step-stools, little desks and tables, lamps etc.) and I will sew. We'll have an etsy shop, but we'd also like to get involved in some craft fairs. We'll see what happens. It's not a novel idea, to be sure, but it will allow us both a creative outlet that we need and will maybe bring in some additional income. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What's so funny about a sleepwalking dog?

Anyone who reads dooce has already seen it, but this? Is a great way to start your Monday.