Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Favorite Things

Tuesday, when I got home from work and walked into the mud room it smelled of musty dirty laundry.  We had theatre tickets so we were headed straight back down the mountain but I threw a load of laundry in the washer and let it run while we were gone.  The smell was still there when we got home, but it was almost midnight so we just went to bed.  Wednesday morning, it smelled even stronger. 

Brett had picked up a package for me from the post office.  It was from my friend, Sylvie, in Normandy.  I wondered if something in the package smelled but the customs form she had completed said "savon" and "parfum."  Soap and perfume don't smell like dirty laundry but I went ahead and opened the box.  It is my birthday tomorrow and I wanted to see what she had sent. 

nougat, wine, spices, linens -- all linked to wonderful memories of shared meals

Oh, and not shown?  The Camembert that smelled very ripe.  It's stinking up the refrigerator now.  I'm going to have some with my dinner tonight.  Yum! 

And the mud room?  Smells like clean laundry. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RIP Rocky Rabbit

When we first moved up to Aspen Meadows, the kids were small and they were active in 4H.  Camille participated in sewing and knitting.  Kyle joined the rockets group – and they were both in the rabbit group.  They both got rabbits shortly after we moved into the house, ten years ago.  Camille showed her rabbit Oreo, who we lost a couple years ago.  Kyle’s rabbit was Rocky.  Kyle picked out Rocky for his tenth birthday.  Rocky was a beautiful seal point Holland lop.  He was too heavy to show (although the judge said he was a very healthy bunny; not fat, just too big).  Rocky didn’t like being handled so Kyle pretty much left him alone after they dropped out of the bunny group. 

Initially, Rocky and Oreo lived in one of the horse stalls.  We stretched a puppy pen to divide the area in half but Rocky was able to scale and jump the fence easily.  Kyle called him “Super Bunny” and bragged about his athletic prowess.  We tried to keep the rabbits separated because Oreo would try to mate Rocky; constantly.  We even had the two rabbits neutered in the hopes that Oreo’s hormones would settle down but it didn’t work.  Rocky was a good looking rabbit and maybe that’s why Oreo couldn’t resist.  Rocky would put up with the constant mounting for awhile and then he’d get annoyed (and you couldn’t blame him).  Fights would ensue.  Oreo ended up with a big tear in his ear and we decided to permanently separate them.

Brett built the rabbits a pen using dog run fencing.  He put a brick floor in so the bunnies couldn’t dig out.  We put the two hutches in the pen and alternated letting the rabbits out to run around.  Oreo was out during the day since he was friendly and loved to interact with people.  Rocky got night shift when there were no humans about to bug him.  It worked well until Oreo died.  Then, Rocky got depressed and skinny. 

Camille bought two new rabbits, Basil and Sage.  Since Rocky was neutered, we put them all together.  Rocky and Sage became inseparable; sleeping and eating together.  She groomed him.  He got fat and happy.  Over the years, I worked with Rocky at feeding time giving him treats by hand and getting to the point where he would let me pet him without thumping and running away.  He loved carrots and peanuts.  

When he died, Sage was with him.  Tuesday morning, when I went down to feed, Sage was sitting next to him and it looked to me like she was trying to keep him warm.  When I pet him, he didn’t respond. I pushed him gently and I thought he might have twitched so I left him there.  I knew he was 99% gone.  When Brett got home, Sage was still sitting with Rocky.  Basil had joined them and Brett said it looked like the Basil and Sage were grieving for Rocky; sitting with their noses touching, in front him. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Water, Piss and Vinegar

Water = another storm blew in Sunday afternoon with wind and heavy rain
Piss and Vinegar = Winston

Sunday morning Brett was up very early, in the pre-dawn pitch dark, to feed the horses before loading up Flash for a trail ride in Orange County.  They pulled out an hour before the sun rose.  I stayed in bed until it started to get light.  Since I didn't have to feed, there was no hurry to get down to the barn and muck.  It was 31F outside so I made some coffee and had breakfast first.  When I went down to do my chores at 8:00, it was beautiful outside.  It was up to 40F by then and the sky was blue.  The storm was supposed to arrive around 11:00 am but other than a band of clouds on the top of the mountains out towards the Pacific Ocean, there was no evidence of rain.

I gave the chickens a pail full of scraps from Kyle's birthday dinner -- all the mushy veggies from making the sauce, artichoke leaves and some other odds and ends.  They were quite pleased with their breakfast.

I decided to ride Winston since the weather was so nice.  I quickly changed into my breeches and headed back to the barn to get him.  By the time he was tacked up, the wind was picking up and it felt cooler.  In our warm up he was full of energy, walking very fast and almost trotting off.  When we did move into trot work, he was amped and not paying attention.  We worked for quite awhile just going in circles and on the rail and across the diagonal to try and get his brain focused on me.  He was throwing his head in the air, then taking the contact, then throwing his head again.  It was work! 

I finally got him to relax a tad and listen.  Just about then, a neighbor did "something scary" -- I think it involved opening a car door or another highly unusual activity (I saw nothing odd anywhere).  Jackson was in the pasture (feeling better!) and he, Kalvin and both donkeys bolted from one end to the other.  Winston decided he should bolt from one end of the arena to the other.  He came back to me quickly (thankfully) and we continued with our work. 

I have learned that you can't argue with Winston; you wait him out and ignore the antics.  So, I ignored the spooky bolt.  After practicing our spirals in and out, I called it a day.  40F and we were both sweaty.   I turned him back out in the pasture and let him relax for a few minutes before putting back on his blanket.  In the meantime, the clouds had really started moving in.  The rain started around 2:00 and was blowing sleety stuff, almost hail, the rest of the afternoon and evening.

 Brett and Flash arrived back home at noon, just as I was leaving to take Kyle to the train station.  He used his dressage saddle instead of the western one to see if Flash got sore.  When I got home, Brett told me that the ride had been very beautiful but also very steep.  Flash hadn't complained and behaved like the good soldier that he is.  That evening, we checked his back.  Very sore.  So, the problem is hill work and not the saddle.  Both saddles fit Flash well and neither cause any trouble when he is worked on the flat.  After hill work, he is sore in both saddles.  So, blogger buddies, what are your thoughts?  I'm thinking it might be his hocks although Brett said he went downhill with no hesitation (and that is usually a hock red flag).   We will discuss Flash's back with our vet, of course, but Brett also requested that I ask all of you for your thoughts as well.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Get With the Program, AmTrak!

Camille and I took Kyle to the train station in San Juan Capistrano to catch the 1:30 AmTrak Pacific Surfliner to San Luis Obispo.  We were about 20 minutes early so we crossed over the tracks into the old town part of San Juan Capistrano.  The train station originated in 1894 as a Santa Fe Railroad depot.  It is part of the historic old town of San Juan Capistrano, close to the mission.  There was a little cafe and we ducked inside, as it had started to rain.  We ordered sandwiches to go so Kyle could eat his on the train.  With our bags of sandwiches in hand, we trekked back across to the line of 40+ people waiting to get on the train.  Kyle had a couple backpacks, a duffel bag, and a plastic container with the rest of his birthday cake.  We hugged Kyle goodbye and then Camille and I crossed back over the tracks and sat at a little table outside the cafe, under an overhang so we were dry, and ate our sandwiches while watching for the train.

Photo from Wikipedia

The train pulled in right on time.  We heard the loudspeaker saying something about "full" and "standing room" and "not boarding."  I said to Camille, "Poor Kyle.  He's going to have to stand.  Hopefully people will get off at Union Station in LA and he'll get a seat."  Then the train pulled out.  All 40+ people, including Kyle, were still standing there.  He told us that they didn't allow anyone to board.  We marched over to the ticket office and stood in line with the other passengers.

The train originated in San Diego and the last stop was San Luis Obispo.  From Imperial Beach in San Diego County onwards, the train was full and no one was allowed to board.  This is the last day of Spring Break for the Cal State schools.  What were the AmTrak people thinking??  According to the ticket agent, they commonly oversell and just assume that a (large?) number of people won't show up.  Kyle's ticket was $50 -- there was no way we were not going to show up and I'm sure that was the same for the other passengers.  How many train stations did they go through leaving people on the platforms? San Juan Capistrano is a tiny little station with just a small ticket office, no indoor seating and a small area to line up next to the train tracks.  I can just imaging the large crowds at some of the other stations.  We booked Kyle out of San Juan Capistrano, instead of Fullerton which is closer to his dad's house, because it was at the beginning of the line and we figured he would have a better chance at getting a seat.  Wrong.

Meanwhile, Kyle was getting very nervous.  He has class tomorrow morning at 8:00.  I was getting angry thinking about driving Kyle to San Luis Obispo -- which is a good five hours away and it is raining -- and then driving back home in time to get to work tomorrow.  Of course, I have a 9:00 meeting that is not optional.  I thought it might work to drive him to Santa Barbara, only three hours away, and have him catch the train there.   Hopefully, that close to the end of the line there would be seats.

While I was trying to formulate a plan, I was vaguely aware of a man talking to some other people about having a van and that he was going to drive.  Then I heard Kyle pipe up "Did you say you are going to Cal Poly?" Yes. "Do you have room for one more?"  Yes, I have one seat left.  "Can I have it?"  And a few minutes later it was all settled.  Kyle got a ride to Santa Barbara with a van full of Cal Poly freshmen.  The dad said that if the train was still full at Santa Barbara, he would take them the whole way. 

Kyle sent me a text at 5:00 and said that they had just passed the train.  I asked him if he had flipped it off.

At 6:00, he sent another saying he was on the train in Santa Barbara.  The other passengers told him that it had been crazy crowded until Ventura with people standing and sitting in the aisles.

Why can't we have trains like the ones in London and France?  They are on time, reasonably priced, and when you buy a ticket you get a seat.  AmTrak complains that its ridership is down.  I wonder why.  If this is common practice, which the ticket agent implied, I will try every other mode of transportation first before taking the train again.