Monday, June 26, 2017

Shaver Lake 2017

The annual Shaver Lake vacation with my extended family occurred last week and into the weekend.  We have been vacationing there since since Camille was an infant -- so, 23 years.  She was three weeks old the first time we went.  I remember racing down the steps from the deck to the waters edge while she napped under the watchful eye of my mother.  On that same trip, Kyle fell down the stairs and split his chin.  He was an early walker and an active child, but never a cautious one.

Originally, the group included my parents, my sister and her family (three kids) and me and my family.  Over the years, the composition has stayed pretty constant, and we stayed at a small cabin within walking distance (if you don't mind a long steep road) to the lake.  We were only at that first, lakeside cabin, for one year.  Eventually, my younger brother and his daughter started joining us.
Taylor (my brother's daughter), Nick (my sister's oldest), Camille, Justin (my sister's middle child), and Kyle.
I lost my mom to a progressive lung disease (with a name a mile long and no cure), and, as it became more difficult for her to breathe, we switched to lower elevation locations.  But, we never stopped going.  The kids never stopped sleeping outside on the deck; all their sleeping bags lined up in a row; talking late into the night about the stars and satellites.
The candid version: Taylor is smiling sweetly; Nick is checking out Camille's belly button ring; Justin is standing like a stud; and Kyle has been told to get rid of his stick for the picture (probably by Camille).

The kids are now adults, with the exception of my youngest niece who is 14.  The rest of the"kids" range from Camille (23) to Nick (29).  My sister had kids first, closely followed by me, and much later by my brother.  Kyle's girlfriend, Ana, has joined us the last two years.
Kyle and Ana
It was warmer than usual this year but the lake was full and we liked the cabin (the one we used to use wasn't available this year).  We ate too much food and drank wine in the evening on the deck.  We played games.  We went for long walks, swatting the mosquitoes that buzzed around our heads and feasted on our arms and legs.

It was a good trip.  And it is very good to be back home.  Brett took care of the ranch and even installed some more sprinklers in my garden while I was gone.  I love my family but I can only take so much happy, crowded chaos.  I am an introvert, after all.  So it was good to walk through my garden and admire the sprinklers, to stand quietly with Tex, and to drink in the quiet of the night.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Four Feet off the Ground

Its been doggone hot here since the middle of last week.

On the one hand, there isn't much activity going on other than trying to stay in the shade or the house -- or an air conditioned office.

Last weekend we escaped the heat: we spend Saturday in San Francisco visiting my son and his girlfriend.  Sunday we hoisted the kayaks onto the top of the Subaru and drove to Bear River Lake.  Snow melt is still rushing into the lake, making the water cold and the lake level very high.  We paddled over submerged picnic tables and fire rings.

The horses are spending the day time hours in the barn where they can escape the sun and the flies.  In the evening we turn them out into their pastures to stretch their legs and their brains.  It gives me the opportunity to work with Tex twice a day and he's been rock steady.  It helps, of course, that he wants to go to the barn for breakfast and to the pasture for dinner.

It has also given me the opportunity to work with Lucy and Jackson on their manners.  Neither of them were doing well with "wait" but instead were diving their noses down to the grass whenever I paused on our walks back and forth.

Lucy was a quick study.  Robin said to me, a while back, "Don't yank on the lead rope; that's abusive.  Instead, make one very strong correction with the whip.  Lucy will jump with all four feet off the ground, but she won't do it again. One clear correction is kinder than continuous, nagging, yanking on her face."  I had to agree.

And she was right.  Lucy dove for the grass and I snapped the whip, hard, on the ground next to me.  Lucy hates whips so I knew I didn't have to touch her with it.  Sure enough, she levitated, landed, and began to piaffe (trot in place).  I looked at her mildly, waited for her to regain her composure, and we walked on.  I carry the whip when we walk, but I haven't had to use it since.  When we halt, she looks at me for permission to graze.  If she is calm and polite about it, I say "Have some."

Jackson was a bit more work.  He's getting with the program, though.  After Robin pointed out to me during one of my lessons, that her horse, Red, was subtly moving me instead of vice verse, I became more aware.  Jackson is a lot like Red.  He's sensitive, enjoys interacting with people, and enjoys seeing what he can get away with.  He never pushes me.  No, no, he would never be that ... obvious.  He just drifts into me as we walk and I used to step away, to alter my course.  Now I pick a path and he has to alter his path to accommodate me.  Its funny to watch him, really. He's so confused.

When he dove for the grass, I snapped the whip -- right in front of his nose.  He jumped back, and with his head high in the air, he gave me his most offended look.  He likes to push boundaries so he tried again a bit later.  This time his nose would have been stung if he hadn't lifted it so quickly.  He didn't try again... for a few days.  The last time he tried to very sneakily drop his head, I wasn't carrying the whip (and he knew it).  I reached behind me and smacked him with the end of the lead line.

Oh.  Hmmm.  Maybe not a good idea.

Its amazing how polite he's become.  I can walk both he and Lucy on a completely slack lead, and they walk quietly beside me, across the green grass, and only eat when I stop and invite them to do so.

Brett has been working with Flash... he brings him into the barn in the morning at liberty.  Flash knows his bucket is in his stall so he's happy to follow Brett there.  In the evening though, forget it.  Brett tried to take him back to the pasture at liberty and Flash decided to turn and go the other way.  It was pretty funny watching Flash amble down the barn aisle while Brett went chasing after him.