Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Julochka Asks

julochka asked on her blog a couple of days ago, who would like to be interviewed by her. No set questions and the responses to be posted on her blog, with the author posting to their own if they wish. She got A LOT of response, so she will be posting one a day until done. Check it out, as there are many people participating in this. It should be fun!

1.  the very best horse you ever had...
I have several favorites, but other than the first I had as a child, I have to say the gray Arabian gelding, Shaka. He was a willful, prideful animal who taught me I am in charge only if I am respectful and if I ask politely. And then I am granted an equal partnership at best. A little humility is good for a person. I think more people would benefit from a Shaka in their lives!

2.  you must share the recipe for your fabulous white sangria.

If I must! I like to use citrus, but apples, cherries, etc.
can be used as well.

cut into thin slices and place in 4 qt pitcher:
3 oranges
3 lemons
3 limes
Add to pitcher:
Peel and quarter 4-5 peaches or nectarines
Dice about 1 cup of fresh pineapple
About 1 pint of strawberries
Fold in about 1/2 cup of sugar (to your taste) and allow to macerate for an hour or so.
Pour 3 bottles of chilled dry white wine and about a half cup of brandy or cognac.
Cover and chill for at least 3-4 hours. I let it sit
overnight. The sangria in the photo was made with cherries. I don't like it as well.

3.  if you could never watch t.v. ever again, would you miss it? and what would you miss?

Initially, yes. But I don't watch a lot of TV as it is. I would miss the noise in the background I think. The idea of it bothers me more than the actual doing of it would. I believe that is so.

4.  what is the most outlandish thing someone requested in your horse business? (if you can tell without naming names.)

Oh you know the business! Mostly it's just been a series of egocentric requests from boarders. Everyone always thinks they are the only person with a horse. It was interesting to consider this while I cared for 36 horses and someone would want me to spend the time grazing their horse for 15 minutes, with incremental increases each day to ease the beast onto pasture. I had nothing else to do.

I had someone rewrite my boarding contract to suit her wishes. Ya, that will work.

I was asked by someone I know to allow a stranger to me (and a relatively inexperienced person) to come out and ride my Lipizzan crosses so this person could experience baroque horses. Put your dime in the slot and ride the pony. I had to give her credit for the chutzpah. I said 'no'.

My breeding clients were mostly reasonable people and buyers are what they are. But boarders are a whole different breed of cat. Something happens within the brain when a person (woman) gets a horse. This is a broad brush statement and doesn't apply across the board, but I'm telling you.... After twenty years in the business I have probably heard and seen it. I will say the trend that has come up in recent years to take a horse off the farm on trial is something I consider a bold request. But it has become commonplace.

5.  if you could be a presidential advisor, what would you advise?

Get a spine. Or at least a set of principles. People who straddle the fence end up with a sore groin and little else.

6.  the best thing about living in the country?
No close neighbors.

7.  the worst thing about living in the country?

No close neighbors!

I live in a politically conservative part of the state. It can be tough to be surrounded by Tea Party types. So I guess my answer is, I am somewhat isolated. I guess this is why I started reading blogs.

8.  what do you do about the flies? (we have a serious fly problem around here and i had totally forgotten about that.)
Google images
I hate to say this, but I have never found a good solution. It is part of the bargain. Some years are worse than others and this has been an awful year for the buggers. In the barn I am very low tech:  fly strips! I do put fly masks on the horses. It is not much, but it does keep them out of their eyes. I shy away from chemicals, so the only other thing I can suggest is a good fly swatter.

9.  if you could travel anywhere (and not worry about the horses), where would you go?
Google Images
This is a tough question for me, as I have been so narrow in my scope for so long I hardly consider something like this anymore. A trip to Saint Paul has become an adventure for me. I would like to go to France for the food, Italy for the countryside. Ireland because my mother talks of it so much. I am no longer interested in far flung and exotic. Comfort. Food. Culture. I'd be pleased to go to Denmark. Truth be told, I'd be pleased to go to Des Moines!

10. comfort food?

Yes, please. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy. Anything baked that contains butter and sugar. You cannot live in a cold climate and not appreciate the starch and fat of comfort food. It's just not sane.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Photographic Artistry

Back in May my friend the professional photographer asked if she could use my farm for a photo shoot. Of course, I said she could.

I have watched Shelley evolve over the past five years from a photographer into an artist. I think her work is fantastic and I know she has only just begun. Every time I see her work, I see evolution.

Anyway, she has posted photos from this session on her photo blog. Give a look at her blog. It's worth your time. Many of the photos on my sidebar are by Shelley.

Shelley also does training sessions around the country.

Shelley Paulson

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Phlox & Phools

Something Pretty
Something Crazy

Polling is showing the majority of Americans believe Barack Obama is a socialist. Never mind he isn't even a liberal.

The US Chamber of Commerce sent President Obama an 'open letter' laying out their plan for economic recovery. Don't be surprised now, but it is tax cuts for wealthy individuals and business, even more than they are enjoying at present, and to stop any regulations that may remain. Haven't we done this already? It's now almost ten years of the Bush tax cuts. We've lost 8 million jobs. Deregulate more? BP, Wall Street, West Virginia mine collapses. Just to name a few little incidents brought on by lack of oversight.

It's hard for an old intellectual progressive to keep the faith.  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How To Enjoy Life

Or at least enjoy a quiet Sunday.
A little grooming in the filtered sunlight.
Flexible for sixteen.
This is how Howard feels after Gracie has run 360's round and round him. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I made rhubarb sauce a couple of days ago. The last of it to be had.
Can summer really be that advanced that I don't have any more rhubarb? Tomatoes are ripening on the vine, the zucchini are blooming like there is no tomorrow and the air is thick and hot. I guess the answer is yes, it is nearly mid July.  How did that happen? Time is flying by too quickly for my taste. At this rate, I'll be an old crone before I realize it has happened. Those who might say; too late, it's already happened..... I say, shush.

My ever-expanding waistline does not need me making rhubarb sauce because with the sauce comes the vanilla ice cream. I love the combination of the tangy sauce with the smooth, sweet creaminess of the ice cream. A little too much. I have never in my life learned the virtue of moderation. At this stage I believe I never shall.

I took care of my neighbor's sheep and chickens over the 4th of July holiday and today she brought me some barbecue sauce as a gift. It feels like a languid summer day just begging for a rack of ribs on the grill. The arrival of smokey sauce I do believe has sealed the deal. Ribs, salad and ice cream topped with rhubarb sauce. As American as apple pie.

Friday, July 9, 2010

From My Own Hands

2009. The year of my awakening. The year I decided there was something more to life than the horse industry. Admittedly I had a lot of help from, so I therefore should acknowledge, the economic bust the US is experiencing. Without this I may still have a business. But that is a different topic. Those who have followed my mutterings and ramblings over the past couple of years may remember that last year I planted my first vegetable garden. I planted some garlic last fall and Thursday I dug it up. As well as some shallots. It's not a lot, but it came from my own effort. I am oddly pleased by this.
My life was so consumed by my business that I had no time or interest for much of anything else. Growing my own food was very low on my list of priorities. Sometimes it is easy to realize the connection of one event to another. I had slowly become someone who relied upon processed food. It was so easy to put something frozen in the microwave at the end of a very long, tough day. This moved from an occasional meal to most meals as my herd and clientele grew.

Remember when gas prices were flirting with $5.00 a gallon? Only a few years ago. Food prices moved up as the price of fuel rose. I decided it was becoming too expensive to indulge in convenience. This was my reawakening about food. I am not new to cooking, I guess I took a long vacation. As is my way, when I made the decision to pass on processed, I passed entirely. The next logical step came last year with the garden. I have always grown herbs and tomatoes, but now I grow more of them, as well as zucchini, eggplant and artichokes. Fennel and sweet peppers. Not to forget the lettuce and spinach. And garlic. And onions and shallots. It's small, I know. But it is by my own hands. It is clean food.

I never intended to join a movement, I was simply taking a step toward my own well-being. But there is a movement of people who are thinking about what they put into their bodies. I know I feel better. 

A few mid-summer scenes on the farm. Summer sprung upon us when we weren't looking.

Nasturtium have always seemed to be happy to me.
I am having a hard time keeping up with the lettuce and spinach. I feel rather self-satisfied that I planted and have grown this, my little bit of produce. When my tomatoes begin to ripen my salads will be a taste of heaven.
A riot of color.
Amazing zucchini. I will be picking them in a couple of days. I love zucchini.
Perky petunias in a rotting barrel. I believe there is a metaphor in there.
My new garden from last year. I think the plants are happy here.
This is a half wild spot. Right outside the screened porch, it is a lovely sight with the profusion of mis-matched colors and lack of order.
Somehow the tomatoes got ahead of me. I will need to get them supported. I have a lot of them.
From my own hands. Hands that will stake tomatoes and pick zucchini. Hands which make rhubarb pie. Gnarled hands, but hands that still work, regardless.  

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dog Days

Yep, this is about it.
Sums up the situation. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


That would be me. Whatever sliver of creative thought, interest in daily happenings, has seemingly been sweated out of my pores.

I do believe I am in the dog days of summer.

There can be no other explanation. I prefer sitting on the veranda in the morning with my coffee to sitting at the computer in my office. Afternoon? Puttering about, doing the necessary tasks of a life being lived. Somehow the effort of using my mind seems more than I can manage, so I fold laundry. In the evening I'm catching a cool breeze on the porch, mindless of anything but the heat.

I'm absent. The gray cells are not snapping. I'm well, but I'm dull. I'll be back when things start to whir again. Right now I have nothing but perspiration.