Saturday, November 28, 2009
What a great day! I slept in (for me), enjoyed sunrise in the hot tub and putzed around the place in total solitude-- a rare occasion around here. With Rich at work and the offices closed and the barn workers enjoying the holiday at home, I was left in complete solitude-- just me and the horses. Thankfully quiet around here.
To be honest, I rarely do any horse chores around here and it is always good when I do have to feed, so that I can review each horse's needs and status. So I always feed on the big holidays 4-5 times a year. I guess after 25 years of being in the horse business, I deserve not to have to do chores every day. But I do not take my "life of luxury" for granted; I am thankful for the people that take care of my horses about 360 days a year.
It was a beautiful day for skiing at our home mountain, Monarch Mountain http://skimonarch.com/-- our favorite activity on Thanksgiving. We are always thankful to have enough snow to open the ski area and there are a few hundred people thankful to be gainfully employed again. It's always great to see the returning employees, some whom have been with the ski area for decades and are like family for rich and me. This year the snow has been abundant so far and for early season skiing-- the conditions couldn not have been better.
It was a warm day with classic Colorado Bluebird skies and not a lick of wind (something we are always thankful for around here). Rich and I had a great day of skiing-- perusing the mountain, looking at the conditions and coverage, the improvements made over the summer and the hundreds of little details involved in opening a ski area (ropes, signs, hazards, etc.).
Came home early enough to clean stalls, feed and cook a couple dishes for T'giving dinner at our neighbors. We always eat dinner late-- after Rich is home from the ski area. I made some killer sweet potatoes (with pecans, pure maple syrup, whipped cream and copious amounts of butter); and a tasty green salad with pecans, feta and dried cranberries. Fortuantely my dishes turned out well, otherwise my friends wouldn't have put up with me since I dropped the entire bowl of mashed potatoes on the floor, shattering and splattering, just at the beginning of the meal. I am thankful for kind and understanding friends and sorry about all that unused delectable gravvy Cheryl made.
Mostly this year I am thankful for my son and his strong and sturdy constitution. It is ten weeks since his accident and when I think back to that initial week, it is an utter miracle that he is even alive, let alone making all the progress that he is. Hunter continues to grow a little stronger every day and although he has a long road ahead of him, we are thankful for each step he takes.
I hope you have had plenty of cause to be thankful this year and that your holiday weekend was spent with family and friends, surrounded by laughter and fun.
All the best,
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Just returned from the North Carolina mountains where I was a guest for the Wrangler/Horse & Rider Sweepstakes celebration at Leatherwood Mountain Ranch http://lwmtns.com/, a beautiful trail riding vacation resort deep in the Blue Ridge mountains (‘deep’ meaning there’s no cell reception anywhere).
We were a group of 20 or so people: the winner of the sweepstakes and her sister, the owners of Leatherwood—a family operated resort, Tom Seay and the crew from Best of America by Horseback—a popular trail riding show on RFD TV, plus various representatives from Wrangler and Horse & Rider, me and my crew and some miscellaneous trail riding fanatics.
Renee, the sweepstakes winner, had a lot of cool activities planned for her over the four-day weekend (as part of the sweepstakes winning) and the rest of us were just tagging along, glad to use Renee as an excuse to have our own fun-filled winning weekend. We had a lovely welcome dinner Wednesday night, with lots of introductions, prizes and waxing poetic. We were planning to trail ride the next morning, but with the intense rain the day before, we decided to postpone the ride until afternoon. Instead, I gave Renee and her sister a “private” clinic (I use that word lightly since there was about 15 people watching and two video and one still camera shooting).
Later we headed out on a trail ride, all 25 riders on an assortment of horses from Paso’s to Arabians to regular old QHs and many other breeds—even a “McCurdy Plantation Horse”—yet another breed I’d never heard of (seems like there are a lot of new/exotic breeds cropping up these days). It was a bit of a muddy, slip-slidey mess, but we made it to the top where we had a lovely picnic lunch delivered (I think the 4WD Jeep ride up there was a wilder ride than horseback). Though the ride down was steep and muddy, all the horses did great. The day’s adventures were followed by a lovely dinner out at a near-by town (only 40 minutes by car), hosted by the good folks at Horse & Rider. We had a marvelous time—good food, good drink, good company.
On Friday, we had more photo shooting to do; another trail ride; then a private lesson (this time pretty private) with the winners again. Friday night was a regular ol’fashioned hoe-down with chicken stew, cornbread and apple dumplings (compliments of head wrangler and chef extraordinaire, Hugh), a lively old story teller and a wonderful blue grass band. There was laughter, gossip, hearty food, children running, singing, clogging and tastings of some of the best moonshine the area had to offer (shhhh….). Seemed like a real slice of American pie—Appalachian style.
Saturday was a never-ending travel day home for us, with a total of five hours driving, six hours flying and some waiting in-between. We had a great time in NC and I was honored to be invited as a “guest celebrity”. It was a real class-act put on by H&R and Wrangler and it was a pleasure to be there. There will be an article in the February edition of Horse & Rider that documents the whole event, from the winner’s POV.
It’s a busy week for me—not because of the holiday, although I hope to enjoy it. Hunter and I must travel to Denver for some follow-up care and the ski area opens tomorrow. Yippee! Thursday I’ll probably ski a little and we’ll have a late dinner with friends after Rich gets off work.
I hope you have great plans to spend the holiday with friends and family.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Well, sort of. Gradually my life is getting back to normal. In fact, I even rode my horse yesterday. It was a beautiful Indian Summer day, which can only be appreciated in the high mountains of Colorado after two feet of snow in October. The arena was perfect after the snow melt soaked the footing and then it was fluffed up to a perfect consistency by Rich—like brand new carpet. I love riding in freshly groomed arenas—it’s quite enlightening when you analyze your tracks and try to ride perfect lines.
I have only ridden my horse a few times in the past 10 weeks (when I was at the clinic at C Lazy U) but he was really good. Rich was riding his horse, Diggs, for the first time in about eight weeks; he’s been laid off after having some joint soreness. It’s great to have horses that you can saddle up after a long lay-off and not miss a lick. Temperament, training and a lot of wet saddle blankets account for that.
Dually was not super “in-tune”, at least not the same kind of tune that would come with regular riding. But he did everything I asked him and tried hard, so what more could I ask? It was great to be back in the saddle and we had good fun.
I have been able to spend more time in the office over the past few days, getting some writing done and getting organized. We’re working hard to finalize my clinic tour for next year—the dates and locales are set and most of the details are finalized. The schedule is set on the website and lots of people are taking advantage of our early bird specials and getting big discounts for both riders and spectator tickets.
Hunter continues to get stronger every day and we are certain of a full recovery; now it’s just a matter of time. He requires less and less care from me, but is always happy for me to fix him something to eat—at least six times a day. Moms love doing that.
Enjoy the ride!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
It’s been a long six weeks. After 38 days of being at the hospital all day, crying, hoping, praying, laughing, crying, being frustrated, crying, and begging, it was good to get home! Of course, he was released (last Wednesday) in the middle of a raging blizzard so we were stuck in Denver, but the next day we drove the 150 miles in 4WD to get home.
As most of you know by now, my son Hunter was in a near-fatal motorcycle accident on September 20th and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and extensive facial fractures. Now, six and a half weeks later, it is no less than miraculous how well he is doing. He is living here at home with Rich and I and he is getting stronger every single day. Although it will probably be a long time before Hunter is able to go home and work and drive, we are thrilled with his progress. Right now the big mission is to get Hunter stronger physically—he lost 25 pounds he couldn’t afford to lose while in the hospital and you can only imagine what 6 weeks in bed would do to your stamina. He has only been eating by mouth for a few days now and is still dealing with a lot of pain. In another two weeks he should be free of the stomach tube and the extensive hardware in his mouth (used to rebuild his now-titanium face).
Unfortunately, this current mission does not bode well for my five-pound challenge. I have never bought and fixed such fattening food in such copious amounts in my life. Everything I make is now high-calorie and the highest possible fat content. If I can, I add even more fat than the recipe calls for. And then, of course, if he does not eat it, well… I hate to waste it! Oh boy.
It’s been really hard to get back into a regular routine since we’ve been home. It’s sort of like waking up one day, at the age of 50 (when life starts getting really good), to find you suddenly have a toddler in the house. But please don’t misunderstand me, Hunter is not in any way acting like a toddler mentally, but taking care of a very sick person is quite time consuming! My time is not my own anymore and I find myself scrambling to find time to answer emails, get a run in or take a rare soak in the hot tub. I imagine many of you have had similar experiences. How’d you do it? Any words of wisdom?
In spite of my whining, I feel like things are getting back to normal, slowly but surely for me. I am ready to get back to work, start thinking and writing about horses and maybe even riding one. Who knows, maybe I’ll go clean a few stalls and really get my mind sorted out. Expect more from me now.