Friday, September 30, 2011

Around the Block with Jackson

Date: Friday, September 30, 2011
Time: 11:00 am
Temperature: 82F
Tack: Western

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Signature Themes: Learner

My fourth signature theme is "Learner." 

I had to laugh when I read the description.  I'd be willing to bet that the majority of dressage riders are Learners. 

We are drawn to learning.  The process, more than the result, is what excites us. in my favorite dressage saying "it's about journey."  Right?

My first dressage show -- with Starman -- 2002

Learners are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence.  We love to practice what we've learned, we revel in the confidence of a skill mastered... and then we move on to the next skill.  Right?
First show on Auke -- 2005

Learners engage in adult learning experiences like yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes .... or dressage.  Right?
After a clinic -- with Auke

And, finally, the learner theme does not mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert (FEI rider, World Cup competitor) or that you are striving for a professional credential (although I would love to earn my USDF bronze medal). 
First show with Jackson - 2009

I'm not sure how this plays out at work but it sure matches my personal life.  Dressage, yoga, French... all serious addictions.

Show of hands.  How many of you went "me too" as you read this one?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back in Business

Jackson was cleared to go back to work on Monday, following his hock injections last Thursday.  I rode him for a few minutes before work Monday morning.  We tried out the new mounting block Brett built.  The old one rotted away.

old mounting block/stump

much better!

Jackson walked out nice and even but he also stumbled a few times.  It felt like his hocks were still a bit sore from the injections.  So after a short walk and even shorter trot, I put him away.

I gave him Tuesday off and rode him again this morning.  Again, he felt a bit sore but not in a lame or uneven sort of way.  He worked really well -- even and honest, lifting his back, looking for the contact.  He just didn't last very long.  We warmed up by walking on the bridle trail and then did another 10 minutes or so of walk work in the arena.  I had him trot two laps, each direction, twice.  He stretched nicely, felt even, but he was "done" pretty quick.

I gave him a bath -- it was very warm here today, in the mid-80s.  He went back to his stall smelling sweet as ... a chocolate flower.

Our farrier came up this afternoon.  He tested Jackson's feet and they continue to improve.  On the left front, he has a bit of soreness over the frog but none on the soles.  On the right front, he is still a bit sore on his soles.  But, he was fine with Sage nailing on the shoes which was very uncomfortable for him before.

Almost there!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When we weren't drinking wine...

Lori asked me write more about the B&B and the farm-to-table restaurant.  And I don't want you to think that all we did was blend and drink wine; although we did do quite a bit of that. 

We stayed at Creekside Bed & Breakfast in Paso Robles.  The property consists of a barn to the right, where there are two rooms.  We stayed downstairs in the Creekside room.  On the left is the main house and the tasting room.  The owners also have a winery, Per Cazo Cellars.  When you stay at the B&B you get to taste their wines and you are sent home with a complimentary bottle. 

The door to our room.

The patio outside our room.  The chairs are pointing towards the creek.
The B&B is located on a small road lined with wineries.  It's situated in a grove of oak trees, overlooking a creek.  Sitting on the patio, you can watch wild turkeys, deer and woodpeckers.  This time of year, the quiet is peppered with the sound of gunfire; it's hunting season. 

We also noticed that they have goats!  We had to go meet the critters, of course.

We were given directions to find a jar of Cheerios near the goat pen and instructed to only give them to the goats if they walk the plank. 

Friday night, Brett and I ate dinner at the Thomas Hill Organic restaurant.  I didn't take any pictures of the food.  Sorry!  The menu is built around what is in season and harvested from their farm.  The food is interesting, inventive and fun.  -- oh, and delicious.  Brett and I both had sea bass (their meat and fish is also organic or on the Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood watch safe list). 

After the wine blending party on Saturday, we drove down to San Luis Obispo to see my son and his campus apartment.  Then the three of us met my parents at Schooner's Wharf in Cayucus for dinner.  It's a casual place with an upstairs deck overlooking the ocean.  There's a bit of a pirate theme going on as well.

Kyle (on the left).  He ordered prime rib. 

Brett trying to decided what to order for dinner... fish & chips or Ahi.  He went with Ahi.

Mom: She ordered the calamari and chips.  The calamari here is outstanding.

Dad: We both ordered steamed clams.  Can you see the ocean behind him?  And the guy with the fur-lined hat?  ...there are some interesting characters in Cayucus.
Sunday morning we ate a delicious breakfast in our room, packed our bags, and headed home to Aspen Meadows.  I do love getting away and I especially love staying in romantic places like Creekside with Brett, but I also really love getting back home. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wine Blending

The purpose of our trip to Paso Robles last weekend was to attend a wine blending party at Gelfand Winery.   We were introduced to Gelfand wines (and the owner, Len) about a year ago by my father who lives in the area and makes wine -- and has gotten to know many of the local winemakers.  Gelfand makes awesome wines, in limited amounts.  He hosts a wine blending party every September to thank those of us who enjoy and buy his wines.  Usually, the weather is very hot -- like 105-110F.  We were advised to wear a hat.  Fortunately, the weekend was relatively cool with comfortable weather in the mid-80s.

My father came by the B&B where we were staying to give us a ride to the party.  His friend, and wine making partner, Mac was also along.  They were expecting 300 people at the party so we got there early to snag a parking spot close to the house and not off in a vineyard acres and acres away.

Upon arrival, we cozied up to one of the round tables with my dad, Mac, and two more of their friends.  All engineers, all well versed in wine.  Talk about intimidating.  I mean, one of the guys is flying off to South Africa next week to pick up an award -- for developing GPS technology.  And, they all know wine well.  Brett and I know what we like but we don't have the vocabularly... you know, nose of blackberries and leather, barnyard.... that kind of stuff.

Mac, my dad, and Mr. GPS
In the middle of table were the following: a carafe of water, a jar with instructions on the two blends, two graduated cylindars, and wine glasses.  They passed out bottles of four varietals: cabernet, zinfandel, syrah, and petite sirah.

We were to blend and come up with our "best" recipe for two wines.  Those were recorded on sheets of paper and turned in at the end.  From those sheets, Len comes up with the blend he will use for the two wines and then they are released.  Last year, one of them won a gold medal.  It's serious fun.

The first wine we blended was called SFR; short for Sh*t Faced Red, in honor of the first party.  This wine had to be at least 50% petite sirah with the remainder being whatever we felt was best.  We all thought the zin and the cabernet were the smoothest and that the other two were a bit too acidic -- pucker power.  The men all sipped and opined and sipped and took notes.  Brett and I sipped and nodded in agreement.   Our group came up with a straight forward mix of 50% petite, 25% cab and 25% zin.  No syrah at all.

The second wine was called Menage as in Menage a Bunch (there were four, not three wines) and we had to use all of them.  This took some negotiation.  Brett and I stayed out of it.  We went and got food; it's important to eat food and not just stand around in the heat drinking wine.

I also made a trip to the port-a-potty which I normally wouldn't mention.  However, these were like real restrooms inside -- clean, no smell, carpet on the floor, a sink with running water, paper towels and a trash can.  Port-a-potties!!

After we finished blending, eating, drinking and peeing, we headed out to the vineyards to find the car and head home.  The setting was beautiful and we had fun being wine maker for a day.  I'm sure we'll go again next year. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Road Trip

Yesterday, Brett and I drove up to Paso Robles.  We are attending a wine blending party and visiting my son who is going to school in San Luis Obispo.

When we drive up the coast, or go through LA for any reason, we always stop for lunch at Philippes. 
They opened in 1908 which is ancient by California terms.  We have a beef dip sandwich, and then get back on the freeway.  The gas prices in downtown LA are astronomical.  Get a load of this:

The weather forcast called for a slight chance of thunderstorms.  We didn't encounter much rain as we continued out of LA, through Ventura and Santa Barbara, towards the Central Coast.  Beautiful skies.

If you take the Mission Street exit in Santa Barbara (above), drive up into the hills, past the Santa Barbara Mission, you will come to the beautiful hotel where Brett and I were married, at Sunset, almost eleven years ago. 

Past Santa Barbara, the highway turns inland and passes through the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria valley areas.  Brett is taking Flash to a cutting clinic just off the highway next week.  He wanted to drive by the facility and check out trailer parking and the ranch where he is going.  So, we turned onto a small road that took us past an organic farm stand and then to the ranch.

Flash will stay in this barn when they come.

One of the residents -- very friendly.

It was close to 90F.  These ranch dogs had the right idea.
We continued our drive north, hugging the coast again near Arroyo Grande, and then turning inland again at San Luis Obispo.  We turned in the gate to our B&B close to 4:00.  We are staying in that barn to the right. 

We tasted some wines (the owner of the B&B also makes wine).  Then we went into town for dinner at an organic farm-to-table restaurant -- amazing food -- and fell asleep to thunder and lightning (but no rain).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Donkeys and Air Ferns

When Dr. Thacher was out, I asked her about Finessa and the never-ending battle with founder.

She said that both donkeys are too fat.  They don't get carrots, apples, cookies or a bucket of supplements.  All they eat is grass hay.  And they are still too fat.

She said Finessa won't be better until she loses some weight.  Donkeys, she continued, are like air ferns.  They can live on next to nothing.  It is difficult to take weight off of a miniature donkey, but it can be done.

It might take 10 years.  Luckily, donkeys live to be 30 or even 40.  We have time.

I called them out to break the news.  They will be getting less hay for the foreseeable future.

Big bellies

Tuffy: Did she just say LESS food? 

Tuffy: Let's run away to 7MSN Ranch.  Finessa: How soon can we leave?