Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Critters I See Frequently in Boulder



Black bear in back yard



Raccoons, a Black Bear, and a Leaky Pipe

Yesterday turned out to be very interesting:  a black bear in the yard and a pipe leaking in the basement.  Rosie started barking at 4:45 yesterday morning, trying to open the French doors, and ripping a small hole in a window screen.  I woke up as soon as she left the bed, and followed her downstairs.  Luckily, at that point in time, we were being visited by an adult and three juvenile raccoons.  I made certain that all the French doors were locked (they have lever-type door handles and Rosie can easily open them), and then I ended up closing all the windows to save the screening.  Rosie spent two hours barking hysterically at the raccoons, who had a blast parading right under the windows and sitting on the edge of the deck, as though they were taunting her.  Once they left, I took her for her morning walk, fed her breakfast, and watched her collapse into a very deep sleep.
  The deep sleep was good, because then I received a call from her owner (who's vacationing in NYC) saying they had just received an e-mail from a neighbor warning about a black bear wandering the neighborhood.  Yesterday was also the day that the lawn crew comes and mows the back yard, so both gates were wide open.  While Rosie was out cold, the adult male black bear came visiting - had a drink from the koi pond, but didn't eat any of the carp, sat on the cover of the hot tub, and investigated the lawn furniture.  Then he just ambled out the gate and over to one of the neighbors' yards.  I'd guess he was a young adult - he was big, but not huge, and there was no scarring on his muzzle.
  The house keeper arrived yesterday afternoon, and announced she was scrubbing the tile floor in the TV room - so I grabbed the lap top and Rosie and we retired to the living room.  About 30 minutes later, I heard Modesta calling me - so I followed her voice down into the basement.   There was water all over the concrete floor in the water heater room, and it had flooded down the steps into the lower storage area.  I called the owners immediately and got directions on where the water main valve was and closed it.  Then I had to find the leak - a stretch of a bout a foot of piping that water was dripping from.  I told them where the pipe was located and it turns out that's where they had a leak 4 months ago.  The plumbing company is due here today, sometime between 1 and 3 this afternoon.
   So Modesta and I got to "dry" the basement...  I have a tip for you: if you are removing standing water from a concrete/cement surface, one of the best things you can use is a plastic flat-bottomed dust pan.  You can run the base along the floor and scoop up large amounts of water.  Modesta and I were able to gather more than 20 gallons of water from the floor, using this manner.  Then we ended up using old fashioned mops.  There is still a little bit of water on the floor, but it is gradually evaporating.  Thank goodness that Modesta thought she heard water running when it shouldn't be - she investigated and saved all the stuff stored in the basement.  - Me, I check the up stairs and the ground floor, the yard, garage, and take care of the dog...  I haven't been downstairs in the basement in years.  Now I feel I need to check the basement every day....

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Miscellaneous Photos

Gamla Uppsala, Sweden - photo taken in the 1880s

Captain George Ashby and his horse, Cornet, of the Royal Cavalry at Motcomb Street

Assateague Lighthouse

A humpback whale playing off Ocean City, Maryland between 15th and 30th Streets

Popocatlpetl erupting on 4 July 2013 in Mexico

Keeping Up

I try to stay current about things that interest me - I scan 5 newspapers every morning from different areas of the US, I check national and international news feeds, and I check on scientific and archaeological news.  I try to keep up-to-date about places I love, places that have family ties, and places I'd like to visit.  When I was living on Chincoteague Island in the late 1990s, the big discussion (sometimes acrimonious) was about the placement of "the new bridge"  - a span to replace the old draw bridge on the Chincoteague Channel.  I knew that the Maddox Boulevard planning site had won, and I've watched via aerial photographs, the building and opening of the new bridge span. I read about the removal of the old draw bridge, from which my Aunts, Uncles, and Mother learned to swim.  Yesterday I posted the aerial view of historic down town Chincoteague on my blog - it's a gorgeous photo copyrighted by Patrick J. Henrickson of
   Yesterday evening, I handed over to my sister some photos I had printed, including the aerial view by Mr. Hendrickson.  She was completely amazed.  My sister was born at NAS Chincoteague in 1950 - we grew up on the island during the summer months, and one of her main markers for returning home has always been the old draw bridge.  I showed her on the photograph where the old draw used to be located - the line of piers in the Channel located directly behind the letter "m"  of .com...  I thought she would faint.  We haven't been on Chincoteague or Assateague since the memorial service for our Aunt Ruth Patrick back in 2003.  I was, and am, aware of the changes made on Chincoteague.  Kathy is still in a state of shock - what she has known her whole life is gone...  It's a good thing we're having a family reunion there for Pony Penning in 2015.  That way her kids and grandkids won't be so surprised.

  On Sunday, Take Charge Indy was leading at the half-mile pole in the Monmouth Cup.  Jockey Gary Stevens said he was smiling and thinking what an easy race it was.  Then he heard a very loud pop.  In the lead by 1 1/2 lengths, he immediately started to veer to the outside of the track and pull the big horse up. Take Charge Indy had a condylar fracture of his left foreleg; because Gary pulled him up immediately and had an ambulance called, the colt had quick surgery and is now looking forward to stud duty at WinStar Farm next season.  My thanks to Gary Stevens for his excellent and fast decisions in stopping the colt before any further damage could occur.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chincoteague and Assateague Islands

Aerial view of Historic Down Town Chincoteague and the Chincoteague Channel - copyright by Patrick J. Hendrickson at

The Chincoteague Public Library decked out in bunting for the Fourth of July

Wading across a gut on Chincoteague to see the Pony Swim

Pony Parade on Main Street, Chincoteague (photo from WMDT)

Ponies crossing Black Duck Drain on Assateague before the Pony Swim - photo by Joanne Snyder Schoeberl of Chincoteague

Second Foggy Day In a Row In Boulder

The temperature never climbed above 75 degrees yesterday, and we had an almost unheard of humidity reading that stayed in the 80 and 90 percentile range .  There was low-lying fog, high mist, and light rain showers most of the day - we needed the moisture badly, so I'm not complaining.  That's the way this morning has started, also, but the weather folks say we'll clear up by noon and have a high of 81.  I spent most of yesterday reading and cuddling with both my cats, and with Rosie.  I'm halfway through reading the fourth book (of five) in a series by Michael Scott called The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel - the books are aimed at teens, but they are an excellent read and a good introduction into the worlds of myths, legends, and sorcery.  I'm thoroughly enjoying them, and I recommend them to all.
  Well, I got dressed up Saturday evening - thought that blow-drying my hair with extra-firm mousse would keep my growing bangs from falling into my eyes, but I was wrong.  Between the breeze, followed by the rain, my hair was the big let-down.   All of the immediate Snow family was there, except the South Dakota clan, tons of friends who live in Boulder (and flew in from else-where, including NYC), and Erin's mother and her family also attended.  Mike and Erin had reserved the South Patio at the Tea House, and we were located beside Boulder Creek.  There were large umbrellas and two tents in case it rained. The party was from 6 until 9 p.m. - and Mike spoke a few words at 7, which made his mother and his wife cry.  One of the last things he said was, "And, thankfully, the rain has decided to hold off."  Once he put the microphone down, there was a huge clap of thunder, and it began to pour.  We got .25 inch in 20 minutes - now, that's timing.  Sarah, Mike's sister, and Michael came and brought Evelyn, the latest Snow clan member. Luckily, Evelyn (at 5 days old) slept through everything.  There were hors d'oeuvres, beer, wines, water, and a stupendous catered dinner.  Everyone had a grand time.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Miscellaneous Photos

Little Oyster Bay, Chincoteague, Virginia

Kids on a deck

"Watch the water go 'round!"

A giant leap

Brothers in Germany

Bengal tiger cooling off and playing in water

Bits and Pieces

Since I've been concentrating on Pony Penning this past week, I've let a few things slide that I'd like to write about.  First, on Monday, 22 July, the same afternoon that Prince George of Great Britain arrived. my niece, Sarah Snow Fleetwood gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl, named Evelyn Estelle.  She weighed in at 7 pounds 3 ounces, arrived at 4 p.m. MDT on the dot, had had a full head of dark red hair.  Mother and child returned to their home in Edgewater (a part of Denver) the next afternoon, with a very proud father, Michael Fleetwood.  As first time grandparents, my sister and brother-in-law are as giddy as teens on their first sleep-over.
  My nephew, Mike Snow, married his beautiful wife Erin on 12 December last year, and kept it a secret.  Their wedding party is this evening, from 6 until 9, at the Dushanbe Tea House here in Boulder.  I was convinced to dress up for this occasion, and am already nervous.  I feel like mutton dressing as lamb.  But I have a red satin sheath, with black flats, and a navy blue shawl with small red and white birds worked on it. I also have a brooch to hold the shawl in place, and matching earrings...  Like I said, mutton as lamb.  I'll get Jim to take a couple of photos so everyone can have a good laugh!
  Horses - I always come back to them...  St. Nicholas Abbey, the European champion son of Montjeau, was out on a normal training gallop earlier in the week, when one of his pastern bones broke.  I haven't been able to find out if it was the long or short pastern bone, nor which leg this happened to.  He has undergone surgery to place pins in the bone, and is listed in "guarded" condition at the Equine hospital.  There are hopes that he will survive and be able to go to stud.  ....  Also, handsome grey Unbridled's Song was euthanized Friday.  He had covered his booked mares this spring, and went into a sudden decline Thursday morning. An MRI showed an aggressively-growing mass in his sinus cavities and around his optic nerves; as there was no way to operate, and he was in pain, it was decided to put the stallion down.  He will be missed.
  Busy, busy, busy.  Lovey and Nedi are doing very well, and are spending as much time as possible outdoors while I am home.  I am currently staying at Rosie's, after a single night with Cloudy and Shady. Next week, I'll be back on a week's course of Blackberry and Chocolate (and, of course, Courtney, the goldfish) for Paulina.  And I recently met with a new client, and will be caring for his two rescue dogs and his wife's two cats  - the cats are Tipsy and Mopsy, while the dogs are Cooper and Lola.  "Twill be interesting!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ponies Have Returned to Assateague Island

The wild ponies of Chincoteague have swum the Assateague Channel and are back on their wild island home for another year.  Some hearts were broken, and others were over-loaded with joy yesterday, once the auction came to an end.  I always had a broken heart because I could never afford to buy a pony - but 55 lucky families purchased the Chincoteague pony of their dreams yesterday.  Ten of those families gave the ponies back to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company for breeding purposes, but they can visit their pony on Assateague year round.
  A smaller herd made the swim back across the channel this morning, at approximately 7:20 EDT.  A few of the aged ponies were trailered across the bridge, as were a few habitual "rowdies" who don't like to go where they should.  A much smaller crowd than on Wednesday saw the ponies off the Chincoteague shore - but they still had a surging hearts that viewed the swim Wednesday.  It's always a moving experience, no matter how many times you see it.
  The Firemen's Carnival will be open tonight and tomorrow night; then close until next Friday and Saturday nights, when all proceeds will go toward the EMS and ambulance funds.  Pony Penning is always an emotional time, and I can't wait until it's time for me to return to my island home again.   2015 - here I come!


Heading back to Assateague...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

55 Foals Auctioned

Ten of the fifty-five foals auctioned today were "buy back" foals at the 88th annual Chincoteague Pony Auction in Virginia.  One purchaser was 100, and another, 80, years old.  An unofficial accounting says the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company added almost $114,000 to their funds from today's auction.  Prices ranged from $650 to $12,000 this year.  The $12,000 pony was a black and white pinto filly, who was a "buy back."  "Buy back" foals are ones that a person can buy, but they leave it in the care of the CVFC for it's life, and any progeny are owned by the CVFC.  One pays what one bids for the pony, names it, gets a photograph taken with the foal, and a certificate of ownership; then it goes back to live out it's life as a wild pony on Assateague Island.  The two girls who were helped by the Feather Foundation this year were able to purchase the 50th and 53rd foals offered.

Return Swim to Assateague

The auction should be over by now, but I'm still awaiting photos and numbers.  In the meantime, it was announced that the estimated time for the swim back across Assateague Channel will be about 7:30 a.m. (EDT) tomorrow (Friday) morning.  The crowds will be less, there will be fewer ponies actually making the swim, but it's still awesome to watch.
   I know the first foal to sell this morning was a pinto filly, and she was hammered down for a price of $700.  A palomino paint filly brought a bid of $2,600; and three of the "buy back" foals were purchased for $4,000,  $10,000  and $12,000.  Photos of the palomino pinto and the $10,000 buy back foal follow:
$2,600  purchase

$10,000 "buy back" filly

Chincoteague Pony Auction Begins in a Few Minutes

I'll blog this afternoon about the auction, with numbers and photos.  The auction is scheduled to start in 2 minutes at the Carnival Grounds on Chincoteague Island.  All proceeds go to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.  They accept payments in cash, traveler's checks, and Visa and Master Card.  No personal checks and no American Express, or other credit cards are accepted.  This money is spent for equipment and training of our fire fighters and EMS crews.  Remember, the closest hospitals are 60 miles away - and our citizens, their health, homes, and businesses are very important to our community.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pony Parade on Main Street of Chincoteague

2013 Pony Swim Photos

Crowds waiting for the swim before the storm blew in

View of the storm cloud bank before the rain 

Surfer's Riptide wants to lead his herd south, instead of swimming

Pony Committee member checking each pony after the swim