Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favorite Things

Horses and the West

Wildlife of all kinds

John Wayne movies

Cats and kittens

Chincoteague ponies

Reading good books - including Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

What a Year!

It has been an incredible year on all fronts...  In 2013 we have had record fires, floods, and typhoons. A host of heroes have passed away, sports records have been broken, and there have been more multiple killings than I really want to contemplate.
   The big news in Boulder was what folks are now calling "The 1,000 Year Flood" in September.  Luckily, both my apartment and my sister's home (where I was staying) weathered the rain and flooding without damage -and, in both cases, it was plain old luck that helped me escape.   I am here, safe and sound, via the love and blessings of friends, family, and my two cats, Leofgifu Glyndwr (Lovey) and Zephraim Cenedi (Nedi).  Without their love and forbearance, I wouldn't be around.
   Over this past week end, the big racing news was from Australia - again, about troubled BC3 Thoroughbreds.  Jimmy, the registered, but un-named, half brother of Champion Mare Black Caviar, was put down due to chronic pain from laminitis.  The colt was purchased as a yearling by BC3 Thoroughbreds for a record $5 million from Inglis Bloodstock.  Inglis has never received payment for the colt.  Quite a few people have stepped forward with papers, claiming a share of Jimmy, and/or his insurance.  However, it seems that Bill Vlahos never filed the ownership papers, and, seemingly, just pocketed the money that the "co-owners" had given him.  ** I am very happy that Jimmy is no longer suffering the intense pain of laminitis, and have no problem with him being put down to stop his suffering. ** But I do feel sorry for the people who have been taken in by BC3 Thoroughbreds and all it's shell company connections.  It's a very sad comment on the state of our society, and on the nature of Bill Vlahos.  Vlahos did not appear at a court hearing last week, stating that he was destitute, bankrupt, and could not afford to travel from his home to Melbourne for the law proceedings.
   At least the Mayo Clinic was able to say that brother-in-law Kent has a type of small cell carcinoma that generally reacts well to radiation therapy.  Kent is home from the hospital in Rapid City, and will have his third radiation treatment this week, on an out-patient basis.  "There's no man like a Snow man!"
   And, today, the last day of 2013, brings beautiful blue skies to Boulder, with an anticipated high of 55 degrees.  At 8 a.m. today, it was 30 degrees in Boulder, and 0 degrees in Gunnison.  And our forecasters say that we will probably get "a shot" of snow on New Year's Day morning, between 5 and 7 a.m.  We'll see.  I plan on staying in and reading tonight.  Tomorrow I want to watch the Rose Bowl Parade on HGTV without commercial interruption, and then I plan on seeing the South Carolina Gamecocks beat the Wisconsin Badgers on ABC.  (Sigh, no Gator bowl game this year...)  But - Tim Tebow has been hired as a NCAA football analyst by ESPN, for this years BCS Championship game, and then to follow up with the new SEC Network in August!  Yippee!!  (But I'd much rather see Tim play!)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pet Sitting

What a crazy couple of days - one of my clients is obsessing about a package sent via the post office, and which was "supposed to be" delivered before Christmas.  She has been sending me e-mails about said package since Friday, just about every four hours, and it finally arrived after 4 yesterday afternoon.  It's sitting safely in the kitchen of her house with the rest of her mail...  At least her cats are quiet and loving, and she returns on New Year's Eve.
  Charlie, I have decided, is a wild child, and unless I had her constantly with me for four, or more, months, in my mind she's untrainable.  She has been given so many treats that it is difficult to do anything with her, and I wondered why she was crated any time she was left alone in the house.  Now I know - she's a destructive little terror - anything she can reach is fair game, and is chewn and/or eaten.  When I want to release her from her crate, I have found she will not sit down and be still while I'm opening the latch - she is so excited that she is constantly pawing and nipping at the latch area.  I tell her to sit, and she sits, but as soon as I make any movement whatsoever toward the crate - she's up and dancing, pawing and nipping.  Tell her to sit again, and she will sit, but once I move again, she's up and ready.  She will not listen to the word "no," and goes her merry way.  "Bad dog" has no effect either - she just bounces up and tries to nip your fingers, because her owner constantly feeds her treats.  -  I spent 90 minutes yesterday just trying to get her to sit and wait for me to open the crate latch, as I have done every day this week.  She is not a stupid dog, and she has definitely learned how to run  her owners.  I'll be quite happy when they return tomorrow.
  My kits only had a few minutes outside this morning, but there was a little over an inch of snow on the ground, so they weren't really happy outside, anyway.  Lovey sat in a chair and soaked up sunshine, while Nedi was playing with the squirrels,  Two new boxes have appeared where the knife-throwing neighbor has set up, but my kits avoided them.  Tugger and Sasquatch's folks are due back this evening, and I'm now staying at Rosie's.
  Getting ready to watch the Broncos - hope we win and have no more injuries!

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Proboscis monkey in Borneo

Monitor lizard on the beach

Flamingos in Columbia

Sea of Cortez, the Midriff Islands, a sea lion cub sneaks a peek

Sheep and shepherd near Halabja, Iraq

Cats, Dogs, a Horse & Squirrels

Finished reading The Last Kingdom last night - first part of a series by Bernard Cornwell about a Northumbrian Saxon, raised by the Danes, who ends up fighting for King Alfred in Wessex.  Fantastic book, the first of four, and they are all wonderfully researched and well-written.  Took Boo over to play with Charlie yesterday afternoon, and was rewarded with wearing out both dogs... Charlie went and slept in her kennel, while Boo slept at my feet.  It was amazing quiet for a while.
  Nedi and Lovey are out running about this morning.  I've already taken care of Charlie and Tinkerbelle, Lilly and Lyra, and Tugger and Sasquatch.  Have to scoot back to Charlie's house to fix the stuff for the Snow family Christmas gathering this afternoon.  Today we'll meet in Niwot, at Dave and Tracey's home, instead of the Grange, so there will be a steady stream of folks coming and going.  At least today's menu is "finger food."
   I did laugh loudly this morning.  Soon after I arrived home, and having loved and fed Lovey and Nedi, and then cleaning their litter boxes, I heard a lot of scuffling sounds - like the kits were diving after something among the dried, dead leaves that have blown up on the patio.  A few moments later, I saw a squirrel tail frisk across the top of one of the patio chairs, and I realized that I hadn't put out any nuts for them.  I walked over to the patio door, and discovered the bag of nuts was not sitting there on the floor.  I looked out the door, and there was the bag, with three new holes in it, sitting about eight inches from the threshold.  The squirrels decided to help themselves when I didn't feed them soon enough.  All the crackling I heard was not leaves, but the squirrels dragging the bag of nuts out and helping themselves.
  And New Year's Day, the surprise winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile in November has been retired from racing.  He developed a chip in his sesamoids and since it wasn't certain whether he would be able to race again, his owners decided to retire him early, and put him at stud.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Busy, Busy - & BC3 Thoroughbreds

Running around between pets and houses today;  woke up with Charlie and Tinkerbelle fed them breakfast and walked Charlie, then spent an hour with Tugger and Sasquatch, then stopped by to feed and water Lilly and Lyra.  At that time, I was due to grab Rosie, and we walked for an hour.  Then I headed over to Kathy and Jim's and we did some clearance shifting of books and clothes that are to be given away to various charities; then I went home for two hours to see my kits.  I didn't even think about opening the back door, as the neighbor's visitor (or, possibly, new girlfriend?) was out back, throwing knives again.  I laid down on my bed and took a nap with both of my kits.  Heading back to Charlie's, I stopped by WalMart and got  some bacon-cheddar potato skins and  several tomatoes and peppers to make a crisp, hot salsa for the Snow family get together tomorrow.  Brought Boo down to play with Charlie on the way back; I'll return Boo when I go to Lilly and Lyra, and then loop around to Tugger and Sasquatch again.  Then back here for supper.
   Poor Erin.  She has such a terrible cold!  We (Kathy, Jim and I) went over at their invitation yesterday evening, and then visited The Hungry Toad Pub for our meal.  Erin had French Onion soup and a nice salad, but the rest of us got different kinds of burgers, mine with fries, and others with huge onion rings.  I was sitting with a view of the monitor, and they had the Pizza Hut(?) Bowl on - Pitt against BCSU.  When I looked up, there were 31 seconds left in the game, it was 4th down and 40 yards.  The pub had been quite loud, and I suddenly realized people were looking at me because, they had gotten silent for the last play, and I had unwittingly added my own commentary -  "Bad snap. A lateral, another lateral, and yet another...  oh, you idiot, you just threw back into your own end zone! You poor child."  I certainly hadn't meant to be the center of attention, and was mollified by all the eyes turned upon me....
  And, down in Australia, the thoroughbred racing interests are still reeling with the sudden collapse of BC3 Thoroughbreds.  Magic Millions, a blood stock agency, has repossessed nine youngsters (seven 2-year-olds and two yearlings) that will be resold at auction with no reserve.  Inglis and Son, another blood stock agency, have eight repossessed horses that are now up for private sale.  Inglis also holds the marker on the $5 million half-brother of Black Caviar, who is still battling laminitis, and will never race.  Noble Edict, a subsidiary of BC3 Thoroughbreds, purchased a training park, with a borrowed $1.6 million, and then added $3.2 million in "improvements" to the stabling and training tracks.  Noble Edict has failed to make several payments on the property, which they agreed to buy in September 2011.  Owners, trainers, jockeys, blood stock agencies, veterinarians, a betting club, insurance agencies, and BC3's accountants have been left holding an empty bag....

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Summer Bird, winner of the 2009 Belmont Stakes

Orfevre winning the Arima Kinen by 8 lengths; retired with over $15 million in winnings.

An ornate horned frog

Box turtle - going nowhere fast

Boxing Day

I'm having "a cuppa" with Alexy this afternoon, just to catch up on the news and neighborhood.  Spent last night with Charlie and Tinkerbelle, then took care of Sasquatch and Tugger, and then walked Rosie, before coming home to my kits for a couple of hours.  Both Lovey and Nedi went running out, but they both came back in after about 15 minutes.  Their big point of curiosity was a large Schwinn box that has been leaned up against our back privacy fence - they were giving it a good investigation when a visitor from next door walked out and approached the box.  I glad both kits decided to come in, because the female was apparently gifted with a set of throwing knives yesterday, and is using the box as her target.  So far, the best she's done is get 2 out of 5 knives to stick in the box - the others bounce off, or hit the fence.  Oh, well.....
   I had breakfast with Kathy and Jim yesterday morning, and then we had a late afternoon meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, biscuits, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.  Beatrice joined us for the evening meal, and we all laughed quite a bit while at the table.  I made out like a bandit yesterday, getting two new books (one in my stocking), next year's calendar, and a neat cat sweatshirt, plus all the other usual stuffings - chocolate candy, nuts, fruit, and silly toys...
  Lovey seems to have run into a buzz saw on Christmas Eve - she was outside for a few minutes, then came running back inside, and tossed her cookies.  She didn't want me to touch her, and curled up on my old winter coat.  Once she was asleep, I was able to see that her right ear was split in half, and, in running my hand over her scalp, it felt like rough sandpaper - I don't know if she got her head stuck in a trap, or if she ran into a new cat or dog...  All I know is she was very quiet yesterday, and is a little subdued today.  I did clean everything with hydrogen peroxide, and, so far, nothing looks or seems infected.
  In racing news,  Hollywood Park closed it's gates after the last race on Sunday, 22 December, and is already being demolished.   ....   Summer Bird, who won the 2009 Belmont Stakes passed away on 23 December in Japan, from a severe case of colic.  He had retired to stud at WinStar Farms, and had shipped to stud duty in Japan last year.   ....  And 5-year-old Orfevre, so of Stay Gold, grandson of Sunday Silence, won his final race on 22 December by an increasing 8 lengths.  The race was the $4.622 million Arima Kinen, run on the turf over 12 1/2 furlongs.  Orfevre, who won the Japan Triple Crown as a 3-year-old, will be retired to stud, having won over $15 million in purses.  Here's to you, big boy!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Singer and poet Michael Martin Murphy

And for those of you who want an old-fashioned greeting:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Claus

I woman told me the other day that Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, or Kris Kringle - whatever one wishes to call him - is a white man.  I laughed in her face and said that Santa comes in every color, shape, fur, feather, and skin that is on our planet.  She was offended.  What a narrow mind...

Monday, December 23, 2013

More Snow

I did not expect to see another half-inch of snow on the ground this morning when I arose.  At least it was 25 degrees in Boulder - it was 5 in Denver - but the wind/ breeze certainly made it feel much more chill.  I am ensconced at Charlie and Tinkerbelle's house on Topaz; spent an hour with them this morning, then walked Rosie, and then went back home to my kits.  Stopped and got stocking stuffers on the way back, and ended up giving four items away to young kids on the bus.  Am trying to decide whether I want soup, pizza or a burger for supper.  What I really want is a nap.  The upstairs neighbors, not the couple who live directly above me, but, I believe, on the south side, upstairs, are being very noisy.  There are three people, one definitely male, one definitely female, and a third, who yell and fight for 30 minutes or so and then get quiet and go outside - I guess other neighbors have complained to the police about them, and once they realize they've been yelling, they clear out.  But it's a pain...  especially when they yell for 30 minutes at almost 4 hour time intervals.  And they don't have a wide vocabulary, either...  They just keep repeating the same thing over and over - I've a good mind to leave a thesaurus at their door, with an explanatory note: "Your cursing is boring! Please find some other words to use.  Here's something to help...."
   Finally got everything done for the family for Christmas.  Have two packages that will go out late - one to Carolyn and Greg in Florida, and one to Michele in Illinois - but they will be shipping soon.  Finally.  I have access to the internet and a superb sound system here at C & T's, but no television.  I have to admit I like to see the news and Jeopardy!, so I might see those at Sasquatch and Tugger's this evening...  And I should check and see if a new episode of Sleepy Hollow is scheduled for tonight, too.  Otherwise, I'll be reading books and browsing on line.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Photos

Hoar frost on the edge of a leaf

Sunrise on Assateague Island, Virginia

Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, helps a boy decorate and build a gingerbread house at the Denver Rescue Mission

Follow the leader in the snow

Squirrels tracks in the snow, headed for a bird house full of nuts

Christmas Revels

It was 18 degrees this morning, and there was about 1/2 inch of snow left from last night's fall...  Flurries started a little after 1 p.m., but there was no build-up until after 5 p.m.  At that point in time, we were being seated at The Cheesecake Factory, and I pointed out the heavier snowfall to Kathy, Jim, and Anne.  The Christmas Revels was totally awesome, as it has been for the past five years - fantastic music, singing and dancing, Morris dancing, traditional wassailing songs, a traditional Mummer's play, and six songs that the audience was included in singing.
   Jim, as usual, wore a pine green sweater and his red Santa hat trimmed with white "fur."  Several smaller children stopped and waved at Jim, but we ended up with one of the trumpet players, from the Flagstaff Brass Quintet, chatting with us before the performance, during the intermission, and then at The Cheesecake Factory.  The man's name is Leonard Fahrni, he's a mathematics instructor, and a fan of Shakespeare's. He'll be heading for Prague this spring to see a Czech presentation of Troilus and Cressida, and then a production of Dvorjak's "Rusalka."  After the Revels, we were waiting for our table in the restaurant, and there he was again; and, once we had eaten and were leaving, we spoke yet again.  It was like we were being thrown together for a reason...
  In any event, we stuffed ourselves at supper, and we all had enough to take home for another meal.  The food and service was excellent, as always.  I came back home, grabbed a good book, and read until I fell asleep.
  It's sunny and clear out, and almost all of last night's snow has melted - and I'm writing this during the Broncos' half-time break.  Go Broncos!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Granddaughter

Checking out the Christmas tree

With her Dad before her first appearance on stage

A quick, last minute dance rehearsal

Pumped up, after being on stage

"Mutts" comic strip by Patrick McDonnell
- And how I feel about hugging my granddaughter! - 

Winter Solstice

We achieved a high temperature of 25 degrees yesterday - quite a difference from the 67 degrees on Wednesday...  Woke to a heavy frost and a temperature of 15 this morning.  The kits ran outside, then ran right back inside - decided that their litter boxes were better than frozen ground, I suppose.  Have another bunch of mixed nuts out for the squirrels this morning - and they are ravenously partaking of the feast.  Lovey is curled up in my recliner, and Nedi has made a nest at the foot of my bed, and I'm here, at my desk.
  This afternoon, I'll be joining my sister and Grandma Anne at the Rocky Mountain Revels in the Boulder Theater.  This year the program is "Christmas Spirits and the Ghosts of Bartow-Pell House," set in 1926 in a mysterious mansion to celebrate the Winter Solstice, Christmas, and Yule.  We always have a blast at the Revels - the audience participates in several songs, and there are also dances in the aisles, where one can choose to (or not to) join in.  Each year, there is a different theme and no two shows are exactly alike.  It's a great way to celebrate the holidays.
  Hopefully, brother-in-law Jim will be with us this afternoon - he's planned to be there, but he might be heading for South Dakota to stay for a short while with his younger brother, Kent.  All of the family plans are up in the air right now - Jim might drive or fly up, so we might, or might not, have a car over Christmas.  I'll be house-sitting for Charlie and Tinkerbelle, four houses west of Kathy and Jim's, but without a vehicle.  On Friday, the 29th, I'll have access to transportation when I move over to Rosie's (directly behind Charlie and Tinkerbelle's).  Bea is supposed to eat Christmas dinner with us, but might have to come and go by either bus or taxi....  and I'll be coming home each day by bus to spend a couple hours with my kits...  It's a weird feeling, not knowing any logistics.  -   Right now, I don't know whether I'll need to bus or walk to the theater for the Revels this afternoon, or if I'll be picked up...
   The Winter Solstice itself (the Summer Solstice in the southern hemisphere) will happen at 12:11 p.m. EDT today.  At that point in time, the sun will be shining directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, and the North Pole will be pointed about 23 degrees away from the sun.  My Scandinavian ancestors celebrated the Winter Solstice, and called it "jul" time - and, yes, that's now Yule time.  A lot of cultures and religions celebrated the winter and summer solstice, and while many Biblical scholars believe that the birth of Jesus happened during the late spring or early summer, it is believed that the Christian church adopted the pagan winter celebrations of Yule, the Winter Solstice, and Saturnalia as the birthday celebration of the Christ child - hence, Christmas.....
   Got Jul!  (Good Yule!)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Early New York City Winter Photos

The first four photos are from an NBC News retrospective; the last is today's Mutts comic from Patrick McDonnell...

January 1908 - People seeking jobs as snow shovelers in the City

January 1908 - NYC workers clearing the sidewalks and streets of snow

Wagonloads of snow from New York City streets being taken to the suburbs and rivers

A NYC trolley in a snowstorm 15 January 1910

"Mutts" by Patrick McDonnell

Snow, Nuts, Papa John's

It's nearly 11 a.m. and it's still 19 degrees outside..  a little nippy.  It's grey and overcast, and the clouds have been slowly lowering in the west; the tops of the Flatirons are shrouded in clouds, mist, and light snow. We're having small flurries here in town - they started falling as I was waiting for the bus to go walk Rosie. Since it was so cold, both Rosie and Lucy got short fast walks - 15 minutes apiece, but without the usual moseying about and tons of sniffing everything we encountered.  I had my sweater, coat, scarf, and Santa cap on (not to mention the gloves and wool socks), so I wasn't really chilled - but the dogs were, and neither owns a coat, therefore the short brisk walks.  My kits are watching the squirrels clash over the two piles of nuts - the same sized piles of the same nuts - but the outside kids get quarrelsome.  Since it is winter, I feed them nuts with a higher fat content at this time of the year.  They are getting a mixture of pecans, walnuts, hazel nuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts and a little dried corn...  And they will happily go through 2 pounds or more per day, so I usually put out 3/4 pound twice a day, in two different spots.
   I guess that I won't be eating Papa John's Pizza any more.  I placed my order yesterday at 3:25 p.m., walked over a block to the store and found out they had moved.  Walked back home, called the store, was promised free delivery.  Waited.  After an hour, I called the store again, and was on hold for 10 minutes before I was able to speak to anyone.  I was informed that the first driver had been in a wreck and totaled his car on the way to my delivery, but that a second river, with the original food was just leaving.  I got my meal delivered at 5:10.  It was cold.    No more Papa John's....   And I was never contacted by anyone about the fiasco on 6 December, not by anyone local, nor by corporate.  I'm disappointed.
   My cousin Aleda's husband, Cap'n Barry Frishman, is currently working in the Dagami area of Leyte Province in the Philippines.  This is a video of the destruction that occurred there during Typhoon Haiyan:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhbfWHtlk5I    Barry is staying with a foster family, and is sharing food with them, eating rice three times a day....  He's a good man.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Black-winged kite

River otters

Kitty tree

Red deer in Scotland



Well, we have a cold front pushing in from the north, and it's playing hell with my sinuses.  Then, I decided I wanted baked Popcorn Chicken and Garlic Breadsticks from Papa John's - but, that I'd walk over and pick them up from the shop after the delivery fiasco on 6 December.  So I double-checked the web order site and verified that the shop was still one block away (they've been talking about moving to another location since September), placed my order for carry-out and walked down the block.  There was a U-Haul truck backed into the space in front of the Papa John's front door - the front door was open, and workmen were gutting the interior.  I looked, shook my head, and walked back home.  Once back inside, I called the shop, and they said they'd deliver to me at no cost - that the website should have been changed yesterday.  I am still awaiting yet another pre-paid delivery.  I is not happy.
  The kits have been enjoying the warm weather - it's been in the low- to mid-60s  and I've gone from nightgown to a T-shirt for sleeping.  We're expecting snow tonight, and the weather person just talked about a light snow on Christmas morning...  That would be great.  The dogs have been having a ball in the mud left by the snow, and a little more would put them in heaven.
  It looks like my brother-in-law is going to travel up to South Dakota and spend several days (or a week or two) with his youngest brother Kent.  There is still no word back from the Mayo Clinic regarding the rapidly growing tumor in Kent's brain.  He has been moved back to rehab, and his Occupational Therapy people are impressed by his will and drive to "get back to normal."  His wife has a tendency to do things for him, rather than having him re-learn how to do things himself, but she is doing much better, after a coaching session with one of the counselors.  As I said, we're still waiting to find out what type of tumor this is, so that plans can get under way for chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy once Kent's skull heals...
  So the family is doing a lot more praying during this holiday season than is usual - and maybe that's for the best.