Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What An Idiot I Am!

I was talking (as usual) with my head turned back over my shoulder, having a laugh with Kirk, one of the bus drivers this morning.  I attempted to step down off the bus with my head turned and not really looking at the ground.  My feet slipped, and I was suddenly sitting on my butt in the open bus door, but most of my weight had landed on my feet.  I really laughed at that, and assured everyone I was fine, changed buses, and came home.  I loved my kits, and laid down for a nap, as Brandi and I had had an interrupted night...  Waking up a few minutes ago, I couldn't figure out why my feet hurt as I walked to the bathroom.  I've either popped a ligament or broken a metatarsal in each foot, about an inch before each little toe - one can feel a very painful (to me) protuberance on each foot...  Guess I'll have to take a week's vacation from walking doggies!

Views of Ireland and Great Britain

Cnoc Suain, County Connemara, Ireland

Glenglesh Pass (Ireland) at sunrise

Hadrian's Wall at Walltown Crags, sunset

Near Porthleven, Cornwall, England

Beinn Aliginn, Wester Ross, the Highlands, Scotland

Nant Gwynant, Snowdonia, Wales

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Sea (Photos)

Vampire squid is an apt name for a creature that lurks in the lightless depths of the ocean. Comfortable at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) below the surface, these diminutive cephalopods navigate the blackness with eyes that are proportionately the largest of any animal on Earth. The species gets its name from its dark, webbed arms, which it can draw over itself like a cloak. It occupies the mesopelagic and bathypelagic regions of temperate and tropical world oceans. The animal's physiology has adapted to enable it to live at the very low oxygen levels found within the oxygen minimum layers of these regions.
The perfect wave?

Thought to be the largest arthropods on Earth, giant spider crabs spend their time foraging on the ocean floor up to a thousand feet (300 meters) deep. These rare, leggy behemoths, native to the waters off Japan, can measure up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) from claw tip to claw tip. This five-foot (1.5-meter) specimen was photographed in Japan's Sagami Bay.  -  And that's only an inch shorter than I am tall!!!  (I don't want to run into this crab!)

Olympics, Critters, & Baking

I've been able to view the coverage of two days of the Three-Day Event - I thoroughly enjoyed the dressage competition, and today's coverage of the Cross Country was grand - even though I didn't get to see all of it.  I hope to be able to view more of the jumps via film on the Olympics website.  I have to say I was almost struck dumb by Mark Todd's horse trying to put in an extra stride just at the last jump - it looked like it surprised him, too.
  Brandi and Peach were great yesterday.  And Brandi and I slept together last night.  My kits are running in and out today - they come get a bunch of love and scratches, and then they run back out into the sun.  I'm going to take a nap with them, then I'll need to go shopping for my bus drivers bake day.  They have requested brownies, and lemon, strawberry and peach pound cakes  -  that should keep me busy in the kitchen for a while tonight!
   Boulder has had late afternoon and early evening thunderstorms since Friday, and it's expected to continue during this week, along with highs in the mid-90s.  We're back to our usual weather pattern, even though it is warmer, overall....

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Photos of England's Countryside

Cadwith Cottage, Cornwall

Men-an-Tol, a megalithic monument in Cornwall

Moreton Corbet Castle ruins in Shropshire

Torre Abbey near Torquay, Devon

July Dog Days (For Me)

I spent yesterday running between Rosie and Remy, Brandi, and Peach.  Today it's just Brandi and Peach - but I'm currently at home with my kits, and I plan on spending a couple of hours with them.  Lovey is sitting on the corner of the desk, as usual, and Nedi has been running in and out, with frequent stops for a chin and chest scratch.  Brandi and I slept like rocks last night - and Peach and I had a great walk early this morning.
   Yesterday, I saw the TV coverage of the Eventing dressage test, and hope to see the second part today.  I also saw the last 40 miles of the men's road race, and watched Boulder's Taylor Phinney finish in fourth place.  I've just finished reading James Rollins' Blood Line, Randy Wayne White's Chasing Midnight, and Linda Fairstein's Night Watch.  I highly recommend all three books, if you like a good mystery-suspense-thriller read.  Once I read Catherine Coulter's new FBI thriller, Back Fire, I'll have to revisit the public library for new reads.
  I now wish I was in England, watching the Equestrian tests of the Olympics - I can smell the River Thames, see the "Cutty Sark" and "Gypsy Moth" there at Greenwich, and I hear the rhythmic cadence of horses performing their dressage tests....  I can't get horses and ponies out of my blood...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 Pony Penning Officially Over

The 2012 Chincoteague Pony Penning annual celebration will officially end tonight, with the closing of the carnival.  The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company's carnival will run for two more nights - next Friday and Saturday, with the proceeds going to the ambulance fund.  Only a few hundred spectators watched the swim back to Assateague, and quite a few of them walked behind the herd of ponies from the carnival grounds to the designated swim point.  Following are several photos from Friday's swim back...
Getting ready to leave the Carnival Grounds

There are always a few ponies who want to go their own way...

Then the returnees enter the water of Assateague Channel

And swim back to another year of freedom on Assateague Island in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ian Millar's TENTH Olympics Appearance

 Oh. My. Gosh.  I was sitting here, watching the Olympic Parade of Nations walk into the stadium in London...  The country of Canada was announced, and, walking in the first row of competitors behind the flag carrier, I recognized someone.  Someone who's hand I have shaken on three occasions...  Some who is quite tall (to me, anyway), and has grey hair...  Someone who is 65 years old.  I thought he had retired and was training other riders and young horses.  I am speaking of Ian Millar of Perth, Ontario.  My first question was, where's Big Ben?   Unfortunately, that great jumper is no more...  but here is Ian Millar, appearing in his
tenth set of Olympic Games.  The man is incredible!  Go, Ian!

Olympic Opening Ceremonies (& More Horses!)

I am still riding high, wide, and beautiful from the wonderful 87th Annual Chincoteague Pony Penning.  I am in good spirits, and my kits have been having a blast with me at home.  I started house-sitting this morning for Rosie and Remy; and tomorrow evening will move in with Brandi for a week; and I'll be caring for Peach tomorrow and Sunday, so I'll be running about like a maniac for two days (and missing Lovey and Nedi terribly). 
  I am looking forward to seeing the Olympics Opening Ceremonies tonight - they start at 6:30 p.m. MDT on the local NBC station.  And, of course, I'll be most interested in the Equestrian competitions taking place at Greenwich Park.  (The Park venue is being guarded by a British Navy warship in the Thames.)  Hopefully, the planned scheduling of the horse-related events will happen as scheduled - even though most of it takes place in the early morning in the U. S.  If you'd like more information on the United States Equestrian Team, on the competitions that will occur, or just to check the times of viewing in your area, please visit:  http://www.nbcolympics.com/equestrian/index.html
I'm interested in all of the phases and stages of the equestrian tests - the Dressage, the Stadium Jumping (Grand Prix Jumping), the Three Day Eventing, and the Pentathlon. 
  Horses used for Eventing always amaze me - they are usually playful, but calm, in the barn - but talk about being energized!  These horses seem to almost jump out of their own skins once a saddle and rider is upon their backs.  Eventing used to be the way that Army Cavalry horses were chosen - they had to be well-trained enough to perform a dressage test, had to have the power and endurance to jump the Cross-Country course, and then had to be tractable enough to perform the stadium jumping, where the slightest touch will bring down an obstacle.  It's grueling for both horses and riders - and I salute each and every horse and rider - from each and every country they represent - because I am aware of how much training and intensive work must be put into each and every mount.  Blessings to all of the horses and riders!

Ponies Swim Back to Assateague Today

This morning, the Chincoteague ponies will make the return swim to Assateague Island - minus quite a few foals and with a viewing crowd that will be one-eighth the size of Wednesday's swim.  Once again, the US Coast Guard will determine the slack tide, and will shoot a flare gun to start the swim.  I have received unofficial word that 67 foals were auctioned yesterday, with the highest price being paid for a palomino filly with a white blaze at $7,200 - and she was a buy-back pony.  Reportedly, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company took in $92,150 from this year's auction; but don't forget the $5,300 donation that the CVFC made to the Wounded Warriors Program, which was money earned by the sale of a buy-back foal.  (I don't know if that amount has already been subtracted from the gross auction dollars.)  - And I have already made inquiries regarding reservations for two up-coming Pony Pennings.  I will be there again!
I'm pretty sure this is the $7,200 high bid filly

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pony Auction Photos

I'm frustrated this afternoon - I have a few photos from today's Chincoteague Pony Auction, but I don't have any information about how many foals (and/or yearlings) were sold; and no information regarding prices - except on two foals.  Anna Beer of Clarkston, Michigan made the winning bid on a buy-back foal for $4,300;  and two ladies purchased the buckskin buy-back foal (with the proceeds being donated to the Wounded Warriors Project, headed by Joe Lewis) for $5,300.  
  The first foal to reach the shore of Chincoteague yesterday was, according to the Salisbury Daily Times, "a chestnut stallion with white spots" - the first foal that finishes the swim is deemed King (or Queen) Neptune and is then raffled off at the Carnival Grounds on Wednesday afternoon. A lot of hopes to buy a specific pony die each year when that pony is the first to step on the shore of Chincoteague.  I am not positive, but I think that yesterday's King Neptune is in the following photo:
Possibly King Neptune 2012...  (see above)

Anna Beer kisses her $4,300  buy-back foal

Denise Bowden (left) presents Joe Lewis with a check for $5,300 - the amount that Bonnie Seeley and Carol Dennis (far right) spent on their buy-back pony - the funds went to the Wounded Warriors Program

A buckskin paint doesn't want to appear for the bidding crowd

Who wouldn't want such a refined face?

Why These Three Songs?

The 2012 Chincoteague Pony Auction is beginning as I type this; I have reports and photos to post later today.  In the meantime, I wish to tip my hat to those entertainers who have recently passed away - Celeste Holme, Sherman Helmsley, and Chad Everett.  All three of these fine actors filled my childhood with drama and laughter.  They will be missed.
   And can anyone tell me why I have been "plagued" with three extremely different songs stuck in my head for the last 72 hours?  Somehow, they seem to magically segue into one another, even in the middle of a verse...  The songs?  Roger Miller's recording of King of the Road; a rendition of Turkey in the Straw with fiddle, accordion, mouth harp, and comb; and - weird - Gracie Slick singing Jefferson Airplane's original White Rabbit.  Anyone want to guess why such an odd assortment of songs?  (Besides the fact that I'm a little odd, myself....)
   On my way to walk Rosie and Remy this morning, once I corral Lovey and Nedi...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Photos from Today's Pony Swim

Waiting for the Swim to begin

Also waiting for the Swim to begin

Into the water of the Assateague Channel


Taking the easy way - foal has chin on mother's rump

Reaching the Chincoteague shore

Time for a milk break!

Taking a breather before going down Main Street

Grab grass while you can..
There isn't any on Main Street.

On the Carnival Grounds, awaiting tomorrow's auction

Chincoteague Ponies Now on Carnival Grounds

Slack tide occurred about 9 a.m. (EDT) this morning, and the US Coast Guard Cutter in the Assateague Channel sent up a red flare.  Seeing this, the Saltwater Cowboys of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company began to drive the combined herds of Chincoteague ponies into the Channel, to swim the 1/8 mile of water between the islands.  Taking approximately 3 minutes, all of the stallions, mares and foals that swam this year made it across safely.  After a rest on the east side of Chincoteague, near Memorial Park, the ponies were then herded down the streets of the island to the Carnival Grounds on south Main Street.  The ponies will stay in the pens at the Carnival until Friday morning, when they will swim back to Assateague. 
  Tomorrow morning, starting at 8 a.m. (EDT), the annual auction of foals will begin.  Normally, only foals born this year, and a few yearlings (late arriving foals from last year), are auctioned.  Most of the ponies go home with their new families Thursday afternoon or Friday.  A few very young foals will return to Assateague with their herds until the fall round-up, when they can be safely weaned from their mothers milk.  (Buyers of these foals will have to return in October to take their ponies home.)  Some of the ponies will be designated as "buy back" ponies - these are ponies with excellent bloodlines, confirmation, and, sometimes, unusual markings, that the Pony Committee wishes to keep as bloodstock (for breeding purposes).  If you purchase a "buy back" pony tomorrow, you can name it and have your photo taken with it, but then it is returned to roam free on Assateague ...

    Here are some photos of my favorite foals this year:
This colt is impressive from both sides:
He's from one of the northern herds.

I also like this splashy paint...

I'd take this bay with a star in a heartbeat...

This snazzy colt will probably get a lot of bidding - he'll be dark brown, almost black, with those white splashes

This little heart-breaker will a a dark-tipped tail

Any takers for a chestnut or sorrel?

Besides the nice buckskin and the chestnut paint foal, this palomino pinto is sure to draw heavy bidding, as most children (and grown-ups, too) will say that it's Misty reborn...

Rumors have it that 67 foals will be auctioned off tomorrow....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chincoteague Pony Swim in the Morning!

 Ponies at the Carnival Grounds in 1938

Waiting for the ponies to swim Assateague Channel - early 1960s

Turning on Main Street, heading for the Carnival Grounds - 1970s

2012 Round-Up & Beach Walk

Northern herds being rounded up on Assateague Island

Getting water at the north holding pens

Yesterday's dawn Beach Walk

Someone doesn't want to go south, and makes a break to the north...

A mare looks back at the watching crowd on Assateague beach