Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Let the Festivities Begin

(I meant to post this entry on June 1st but it got lost in the shuffle of a couple of hectic graduation party days.)

Happy first day of Low Impact Week!

Crunchy Chicken, the brains behind Low Impact Week, has all the details and a list of impact-lowering ideas here. Challenge yourself and your family to see how many of her ideas you can implement this week.

If you want to jump right in, here's something you can do in five minutes to lower your impact. Call 888-567-8688 and request that you no longer receive offers from credit card companies.

If you participate, be sure and leave Crunchy Chicken a comment; it would be nice to see if there is a critical mass of folks interested in creating more sustainable lifestyles. I think there is and I think it's going to be bloggers and internet users who change the world long before politicians ever get around to it.

For me, finding all these greenies on-line has made me feel as if change is more than possible - it's inevitable. And it has made me more hopeful for our lovely planet than I've felt in a long time.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Water Worship

Buckles spent the day worshiping his golden calf.
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He stood there, like this, for hours.

Occasionally, for kicks, he'd swish the water around. He thought he was so cool because he wasn't spooking anymore at the sound it made when it refilled. Yeah, he's bad.
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Sometimes, he'd lap the water up like a dog.
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Speckles finally really needed a drink. This is a brave move on his part because Buckles is the boss.
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Buckles allowed him to drink, but didn't actually get out of Speckles' way. He moved his big club head just enough for Speckles to squeeze in.
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That's the news from Golden Calf Acres, where the water is fresh and the horses are well-hydrated.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Big Baby Boy's Birthday

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Speckles turned four today. How can that be? My life is a rocket ship traveling at the speed of light. Just a rotation of the earth ago, Speckles looked like this:
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Speckles, his mommy, Tim, and Logan looked like this:
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Lukey, Speckles, Dancer:
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(Speaking of Luke, did you notice how casually I mentioned yesterday he had started Driver's Ed?)

I bought Speckles' mom, Dancer, so Buckles would have a buddy. After I had her for a while, I realized she was really good and worth breeding. About this time, my Grandma Anne died and my mom inherited some money. In turn, she gave me and my siblings each $1500 dollars. I used mine to have Dancer bred to San Jo Freckles, a reining horse who went on to win the gold medal at the World Equestrian Games in Spain. He did this while Dancer was pregnant. I was following the results on-line and about died when he won the gold. Anyway, in a really cool coincidence, Speckles was born on May 25th, which I'll always remember because that's my Grandma Anne's birthday.

And today, the plumber was here; the plumber was here. So Speckles got this for his birthday:
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A brand new waterer.

But ya gotta 'neak up on it:
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"Hey, Speck. You got my back?"
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"I gotcha buddy. I'll touch it if you will."

That's the thing about being a prey animal. Lions, tigers, and automatic waterers might want to eat you.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Speck.

All the rest of you, go dole out hugs and take photos of those you love because they change so incredibly fast. Tomorrow they'll look completely different than they do today. And some of 'em (gulp)will be in driver's ed.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Laundry List

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Thanks to No Impact Man and Crunchy Chicken, I no longer use my dryer. During the day, this rack goes out on the porch (in the shade to prevent fading). I bring it in at dinnertime, fold the clothes sometime in the evening, then put another load on it. I'm liking it more than I thought I would. The clothes look pressed, smell good, and the pace is more leisurely than when I used my dryer. I was a slave to my dryer because I always wanted to fold the clothes while they were hot (before they wrinkled).

Logan saw my drying rack and said, "Is this because of saving the environment?"

"Yeah," I said.

"I really respect you for that," he said. I shot a look at him, a quick sarcasm scan. He saw me.

"Seriously," he said. "That is really cool."

But nothing I do is enough for No Impact Man. Today he is talking about bees. Specifically, the lack of bees. The dearth of bees. The Great Bee Die-Off of 2007.

Now, maybe you think the die-off of stinging little buzz factories might not be such a bad thing. But anyone who likes to eat should think again. Without these little pollinators there will be no crops. No apples. No pears. No...other things bees pollinate. So No Impact Man is proposing that more people become bee keepers. And here's the punch line: I'm thinking about it!

At the bookstore tonight, killing time between dropping Luke off for Driver's Ed and going to Logan's band concert, I perused books about...beekeeping. But remembering that buying things made of trees is bad for the environment, I decided I should check out my library's selection of bee books. Luckily, it was closed by the time the band concert ended.

Maybe this will pass before I ever make it to the library. But if not, Tim, this is your heads up. Honey, we're gonna be bee-keepers!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Burning questions

Today's burning questions are based on yesterday's post:

What is the thing you were born to do? The thing you loved as a child and could spend hours lost in; the thing that made time disappear?

Do you still do that thing today?

If not, would you like to still be doing that thing today?

Do you have a dream you are pursuing? How does the pursuit of your dream enrich your life?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

World Championship Life

My mom is the latest in a string of folks telling me I have to read The Secret.

Whenever someone tells me this, they then go on to tell me what the secret is: If you believe in your dream you can make it come true. The book, I've been told, is full of stories of dreamers who made their dreams come true.

All well and good. However, I don't need to read the book because I already believe this premise and put it into action daily.

I get up every morning, go outside, feed my horses, and ride. I do this every day because I am a forty-six-year-old mother of two who has an Olympic dream. Seriously.

I know the odds of me realizing my dream are small, although not without precedent. A couple of Olympics ago, a retired mounted police officer named Klaus Balkenhol rode on the German dressage team when he was in his sixties. (Today he is the coach of the US Dressage team.) He won an individual medal and the German team won the gold medal (as they always do).

Mr. Balkenhol is my talisman against skeptics (read: Tim). If he can do it, so can I. The dream keeps me going out to the barn every day: saddling up, riding, mucking stalls, hauling water buckets, reading, learning, growing, exercising (body and mind). I often think of another secret I read somewhere that went like this: This is not your practice life. This is your World Championship Life. Play it like you mean it.

Even though my chances, as Tim would say, are slim and none, I hold tight to my Olympic dream.

Here's the real secret: With my dream, I might not make the Olympics. Without my dream, I definitely won't make it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Take a number

If you want to make me mad today, you have to get in line.

Get in line behind the plumber I've been waiting on for three weeks to install my automatic waterer in the horse pasture. We've trenched out the water line and taken out the old pump that leaked, leaving me with no water at the barn. I'm carrying buckets of water from the house to the barn three times a day.

Get in line behind our friend who is also our computer tech guy who has been telling me for two months he will add hard drive space to my computer so I can make videos. The reason I wanted this was to make graduation slide shows for two dear friends of ours. Graduation is here, Computer Tech Friend, but my hard drive is not.

Get in line behind my friend Pidgy who is supposedly building my riding arena. Okay, I have sand; I'm riding in it. But the time for getting grass seed to grow in all the dirt surrounding the arena is past. It's hot now, and dry. No Pidgy sighting for a week.

The thing that really gripes my butt is this: If it were my husband who had hired these people, the work would have been done a long time ago. I said as much to him yesterday. "It's because I'm female," I said. "If you wanted this stuff done, it'd be done." He had the decency to look sheepish, shrug his shoulders, and say, "You're right."

If you want to make me mad today, take a number.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Disabled Passions

Hey, Joanie and Queenie and any other interested parties:

Check out this link to see my brother's profile on Disabled Passions.

If you have time, look at some of the other profiles. They'll break your heart and you'll fall in love with all of them. These are folks living on the edge. They don't have time for games.

What else can I add to stir up interest in my bros' info?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hectic Mother's Day Weekend

It has been the most hectic Mother's Day; I'm too exhausted to think so I'm posting some photos from the weekend.

The environmental degradation--also known as the building of the riding arena--goes on.
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Me on the compacter, working on my tan, kinda.

Luke's track is also still going on. His best time this season: two miles in 10:59. Ten minutes, fifty-nine seconds. To put this in perspective, I've been working out on the treadmill for nigh on two winters and I'm still trying to do one mile in less than eleven minutes.
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Mother's Day lunch was at my house today; a small affair attended by my mom and step-dad and my two brothers in addition to the four of us who live here. After lunch, I cut my brother Michael's hair and shaved him all up. We're trying to get him presentable so he can post photos on the Disabled Passions website. After years of trying to date un-disabled women who like the fact that he gets a monthly paycheck from Social Security, he says he is ready to date a "nice, normal, disabled woman who won't use me."

I wish I had taken "before" photos because we turned a mountain man into this:
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Any one looking for a guy with a heart of gold?

The purpose of this next photo is to make my sister pea-green with envy. She's in Germany with her new man but I'm here on Mother's Day with the world's best momma:
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Look at our beautiful roses. Two dozen each! From Tim!

Well, kinda.

Actually, they're from my neighbor (the yard-anal guy) who has more dollars than sense. Turns out he thought he ordered two dozen roses for his wife but mistakenly ordered twenty-four dozen. He told his wife the delivery company made a mistake. Anyway, he had lots of roses to get rid of and since he adores me (a post for another day) he asked Tim if he wanted some roses to give as mother's day gifts. My wonderful husband remembered to grab up an extra bunch for my mom while he was at it.

Better than the roses were the laugh we got at my neighbor's expense. Trust me, I'll never let him forget the year he got me roses for Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Burning question

My house is exactly as clean as it needs to be so I can ride everyday without fighting with my husband.

How clean is your house?

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Gratuitous photo of me and Speckles; taken by good photographer, Logan.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I'm too predictable

Whenever we are getting ready to go anywhere, Tim paces around outside the bathroom door urging me to hurry. When I pick up the hairspray, he hollers to the boys, "She's spraying her hair, guys. Get in the van."

When I tack up for a ride, Trixie (my dog) watches me intently. I always put the bridle on last thing before leading the horse out of the stall. When I pick up the bridle, Trixie begins whining. She too is urging me to hurry because she lives for trail rides.

Then the other day I had this conversation with Logan.

Logan: "Where are you going?"

Me: "What makes you think I'm going anywhere?"

Logan: "You took a shower."

I'm entirely too predictable.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Lawn mowers and riding arenas

Tim and I had a heated discussion yesterday.

He wasn't happy with me because I bought myself a little something that impinged on his territory:
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Logan vannas my brand new mower!

My discussion with Tim went like this:

"You're going to save five gallons of gas over the course of the summer with this mower," he said. "It's not worth it. It won't even make a dent in the amount of gas that has been burned up in the making of your riding arena." (Not that Tim cares about the environment; he's mad about the arena on general principles and he's hitting where he knows it'll hurt me.)

"I know, I know," I said, hating that he had a point. The truth is, I thought building an outdoor riding arena meant pushing a little dirt out of the way then filling in with some sand. In reality, I am in the middle of a project involving many truck loads of sand and gravel and a bobcat-thingy moving all the stuff around. It has been an environmental travesty.
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Mid-mess with a lot of stress

"Well, what about you," I said. "Why do you even read books about our energy and national security issues if you're never going to do anything about it? If there was such a thing as a hybrid straight truck, would you buy it?" (His business is a small trucking company.) (Also, see how I employed the strategy of the best offense being a good defense? Oh, the marital dynamics going on here.)

"Yeah," he said, "I don't think there's such a thing available, but if there was, I'd buy it. If I could save ten thousand gallons of gas, that would be worth doing. It would make a difference."

I thought about this for a second.

"But," I said, "I keep thinking if enough people do the little things, maybe none of us will have to do the big things."

For instance, "If every American home replaced just one light bulb with a [compact fluorescent], we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars," according to

Those are some impressive numbers. And that's if everyone switches one bulb to a compact fluorescent.

In the past month, I've switched twenty-four light bulbs to compact fluorescents. I've replaced tampons with a nifty Diva cup, taken bags with me to use at the grocery store, bought my cute little mower (which works great), bought a natty silver coat to insulate the water heater, got us taken off of mailing lists, and I'm researching vehicles for mileage and emissions ahead of the time when Luke takes over my mini-van. I've recycled for years. I'm cheap so reducing and reusing are second nature.

But I look at these two photos: my little reel mower against those big trucks. And I have to wonder if Tim's right.

Do these little things make a difference?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Comments and clickers

None of my family and friends who tell me they read my blog ever leave me a comment, therefore, I am inordinately pleased when folks I've never even met take the time to write me a note to let me know they were here.


Many thanks, then, to Crunchy Chicken, who left me this message about the previous post discussing Speckle's potty training:

"Holy crap," said she, "That horse is a genius."

Well, I don't know about genius. I prefer to think of him as a guy who's had his consciousness raised. He is very open minded in all things which is very important in horses. And men. But that's another post.

Our dog, Trixie, was the first animal we clicker trained. By we, I mean mostly Logan and I, with Luke and Tim occasionally putting in their two cents' worth. In my mind, there was Trixie BC (before the clicker) and Trixie AC (you know...). She too had her consciousness raised. Literally - her consciousness raised, her mind opened. You could see her begin to process stuff, begin to figure things out. You could see her think.

(Here's a short video of Logan training Trixie. This is first video I've posted; it's taken me three days to figure out how to do. Sorry about the quality. I know Logan and Trixie look as if they're in the witness protection program. I'm working on it.)

You don't need a clicker to use the principles of clicker training. The clicker is helpful when training animals because it marks the moment the good thing happened. Example - I'm teaching my dog to sit. After ten minutes of pushing on her butt, she gets tired and sits. But by the time I've fished out a treat and given it to her, she is standing. So she doesn't know exactly what it was she did that earned the treat. With people you can just say, I really liked that you sat when I asked, so here's some chocolate. (You don't really need the chocolate either; the compliment is enough, although an occasional chocolate doesn't hurt.)

These principles are based on the science of behavior. Read that again, it's important. The science of behavior. Science, as in research with animals in laboratories; not folklore or guesswork which so much animal training through the centuries has been.

Here are the most important things to know about training any creature or changing any creature's behavior:

1. Reward good behavior and you will get more of it.

2. Ignore unwanted behavior and it will disappear.

(Dangerous behavior has to be stopped in its tracks; "punishment" only works when it stops the behavior; I say, act crazy when you stop the behavior so you leave a lasting impression on the trainee. You want to scare him, not hurt him.)

Here's another important thing: These things are already taking place in every relationship you are in. If you are getting bad behavior, then you are somehow rewarding it (usually by paying attention to it; any kind of attention is rewarding. There's nothing worse than throwing a fit and no-one noticing.)

An example: We were babysitting a friend's two-year-old son a couple of weeks ago. He began to get upset when he realized his mom was leaving, even though he had been rude to her while she was here talking to us. We shooed her out the door, assuring her he/we would be fine. The boy threw himself on the floor and began to cry angrily. Tim, Logan, and I kept up our conversation, sometimes having to talk rather loud to hear each other over his angry fit. After seven or eight minutes of not getting any attention from us, he got up and began playing with his toys. He showed us his toys and we played with him and it was very pleasant. We rewarded him with a lot of attention.

I worry that this sounds like a game. Realize that you are already playing this game in every relationship you are in - with children, parents, siblings, co-workers, pets, etc. I'm just giving you the rules so you can make them work for you instead know, losing.

In our family, we all know the rules. We talk all the time about positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. A while back, Logan wanted me to snuggle with him on a day when we were having a family reunion the next day. I was buzzing around the house trying to get everything ready; Logan was laying on the couch feeling sick. I hate to say no to snuggling. (I am so lucky he wants to snuggle.) So I said, "Logan, I can't snuggle now because every time I do I get negative reinforcement from you because you make me feel guilty when I have to quit snuggling." Right away, he said, "Okay, if you snuggle with me for 15 minutes I promise I won't make you feel guilty when you get up." Deal.

I have barely scratched the surface of all the good things to be learned from clicker training and the science of behavior. To learn more, read Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. It's a great book with lots of examples of many different creatures being trained. Also, check out some good training articles on Karen Pryor's website.

Thanks again to Crunchy Chicken for her comment about Speckles. Thanks in advance to my wonderful family and friends who are getting ready to leave comments. You all are wonderful. Go have a chocolate, on me.