Friday, February 24, 2012

In which the rain (temporarily) subsides, and we play ketchup games

The ground was still soggy, but Dory and I went riding yesterday anyhow. 

Dory and Spot, Me and Fiddle.  Nice ears, everybody?
We ride on armored logging roads in winter, so the mud isn't a problem, but the epic rain from earlier in the week is still evident--there were several stretches of road that are still under a few inches of water.  Lower-lying parts of the county are flooded, but the creek in my yard drained away within 24 hours.  Whew.
Up the hill.  The new camera doesn't "grey-out" the sky like the old camera;
in this instance, that shade of grey really is the color of the sky.
 Fiddle prefers to follow, but we did take the lead up a big hill.  She likes Spot (as much as she likes anything) but she didn't mind leaving Spot at the bottom of the hill and trotting away.  It is marvelous to have a horse who isn't herd-bound, even if that means she's a nasty dragon instead.

Dory and Spot
 Fiddle did try to kick Spot once, but Spotty is a clever, clever horse.  She was watching, and dove for the ditch, handily dodging my bad mare's badness.  Bad Mare got soundly reprimanded, and then went back to work--no rest for the wicked, sez me!

Fiddle's ears are paying attention to me and the noise from the new camera.
She's doesn't actually have "Bad Ears" in this picture--
Bad Ears look much, much nastier!

 Mostly, though, Spot and Dory set a quick enough pace that Fee doesn't have time to be wicked.  We traveled 9.5 miles in about 90 minutes.  Most of the time we were trotting; we walked for about 20 minutes of the ride (while warming up and cooling down) and we were stopped about 10 minutes, mostly when we met up with our friends
L-to-R: Mojo, Marilyn, Zippy, Rhonda, and Slinky
 Marilyn and Rhonda, and stopped to take pictures of each other!   Spot's moving-out trot averages about 10mph, even up hills.That's a comfortable pace for Fiddle, but a tad quicker than we usually travel with our other riding group, so once we got the Wickedness under control, she put her head down and trotted forward nicely. 

It was a good ride.


Back at home, I took some photos of how the farm is doing during the Seasonal Deluge (it's started raining buckets again) so y'all could see how glorious it is to have a real barn with a real roof!
Barn aisle, nice and dry

Oh, yes. The mud outside is truly frightful

 mud in the paddock--next summer, we will add a LOT of gravel!

but inside Fiddle's stall (and Hana's too), it's dry and delightful.

When the rain slowed some this afternoon, I took the floofs out for a walk to test out a cool new thing that American Trail Gear made for me:

I call it a "Floofer-Walker."

Instead of juggling and continually detangling three biothane leashes for three floofs with vastly different levels  of fitness, the Floofer-Walker lets me hold onto ONE leash that is connected to all three dogs.  When Luna (the least fit) starts to lag behind, she is pulled along--not by me, but by the other floofs.  When Mimsy (the most fit) starts to jet off in some unexpected direction, she is anchored by the other dogs.  It works!

Now, it's time to get back to writing again. 
I finished the first draft of the Endurance 101 book, thanks to some awesome feedback from Funder; now, the publisher is pondering whether or not to accept it.  Cross fingers! 

Meantime, I'm writing the book for the other blog, which already has a book contract.  My co-author for that book lives in India, so we spend a lot of time emailing drafts back-and-forth.  We're on Chapter 9 for that book, and about to throw ourselves down the gullet of Chapter 10.  And on we go!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In which the rain-rain-rain comes down-down-down in epic, wet, quantities

Sing with me!
And the swimmin' is easy.

Fish are jumpin
And the water is hi-iiiiigh

Oh, your daddy, he Splish
And your mama's a-Splash-in
 So hush, little baby
Don't you cry.

Oh, one of these mornings
You're gonna rise up swimming.
Spread your webby-toes
and you'll head for the (Swamp)
But until that morning
There's a-nothing can harm you
With daddy and mammy
treadin' water nearby.

This morning when I went outside (with my new camera in my pocket) I was very surprised to find a creek running down the side of our property.  Our property has never had a creek before.


My first thought was that a well-pipe had cracked, and was gushing.  The amounts were surely too copious for rain runoff....right?

I turned off the the well pump, and waited half an hour...and the gushing didn't stop.  Thus, I deduced that it wasn't wasn't the well.  If not the well, then, what? 

I tracked the water gushing further uphill.  An artesian spring?  My experience with artesians is pretty much limited to a short series of very humorous beer commercials from the early 1980's.  If you're from the Swamp region (and you're old enough), you will remember the Olympia Brewery's artesians:

Then, I heard a car drive by on the road above the house.  Hmmm.  Cars don't normally make a gigantic splash sound on that part of the road.   Hmmm.

I walked up to the road to look....and saw Linda and Greg's driveway.   Hmmmm. 

When did they get a small river installed in their driveway?   Hmmm.

Fortunately (sort of), the water wasn't coming from a burst pipe from their's coming (sort of) from a burst pipe in God's well. 

The whole dang mountain  is shedding water. 

Jim came home from work early to suss the situation.  He found super-saturated soil all the way up the hill, high above Linda and Greg's house (their driveway rises at steep 11+ degrees, and currently has a gully washed out of the middle from the little river), and both directions up and down the road.  The water is passing over and under the road--probably compromising it. The ditches are full--they didn't get mowed or scraped last summer. 

Jim called the county to alert them, and was promised that "they'd have a crew look at it."  I'll believe that when I see it...meanwhile, could everyone please think cool, dry, non-windy thoughts  for a few days, please?

I like Linda and Greg just fine, but I don't think I want their house to slide down into my front yard!


Life is...well, it's interesting, isn't it?

p.s.  apparently, our house is protected by french drains, probably installed when the house was put here...the gravel under the sills is DRY.  If you ever wondered if the high expense of installing drainage would ever be worth it, my experience would indicate a resounding "YES."

Monday, February 20, 2012

In which we go for a walk, say goodbye to a camera, and bark

Pickles Marie on the trail
Today was the last day of a cold/wet/clammy winter holiday weekend, so you KNOW what that means:  time to go geocaching.

 We gathered a bunch of the Usual Suspects and headed into the mud to see what we could find.  The trail is the Boulder River Trail, which we last explored in October 2011 with Duana, Jason, and Selah.
Most of the Usual Suspects
This trailhead is close to home, so we really should visit it more than we do.  It's very pretty at all times of the year--in October, there were maple leaves changing colors.  Today, the predominant colors were moss green and cloudy grey.
The two tail-enders are also the people carrying the GPS.
We don't take geocaching very seriously, can you tell?
 And, uh, white.  As in sn*w.  

It was scattered along the sides of the mud--hikers have long sinced mashed it into the gloop.  Lovely.  Bah.  
We could see the white stuff coming down at the top of an opposing hill
We weren't there for the weather, fortunately, because the weather wasn't terrific (although it didn't rain...uh, much...). 
Hunting for the cache.  Lots of hollowed-out trees to check!
The company is good, and the trail is pretty, and we did find one of the five geocaches stashed along the route.  Mostly, geocaching is an excuse to get out and explore our Swamp with our friends.
Most trail dogs here wear "bear bells" on their collars--not so much to warn away the bears (in February in the lowlands, we don't worry too much about bears), as much as a way to keep track of the dog when she's running hither and yonder on the trail.  Mimsy wears a bell full-time, because she gets excited sometimes and we're afraid of losing her.

Pickles doesn't need a bell.

I noticed when I was flipping through photos from the hike that a pattern is emerging:  just as when I ride, I tend to have a bunch of similar-looking pictures of muddy trails and trees with ears at the bottom, when I walk I have a bunch of similar-looking pictures of muddy trails and trees with a Pickle-butt on the bottom.

What can I say?  I shoot what I see.
pretty stuff on the trail
Fortunately for blog readers, there is other stuff to take pictures of.  I haven't been happy with my point-and-shoot camera for a long time. 

Mushrooms, mosses, lichens, and molds
The color quality from this camera isn't very good--blues and greens especially tend to grey out--but I use it a lot because I hate toting the big camera that takes lovely pictures.  Lately, I've noticed that the machinery that moves the lens around is making a "grinding" sound, which is not good...but the noise did provide the perfect excuse reason to order a new camera, which is scheduled for delivery tomorrow.  Hooray!

Today, then, I took a bunch of "so long and thanks for all the (grey) fish" photos with the old camera.  The pictures are pretty, but real life is much prettier.  If I lived in an ugly part of the world, the camera would not be helping at all. 
One of many waterfalls feeding into the Boulder River
below this cool boulder is the bluish-green river, which the camera turns grey. 
A grey boulder.  Camera does "grey" just fine.
Are you tired of "grey" yet?  I am! 
Hopefully the new camera will have a talent for green and blue!

Near the end of our walk is a little log-bridge covered in snow.  When the bridge is bare-and-wet it looks a little iffy for dogs, but with the extra slippery stuff on it, I opted to carry Pickles over. 

She really wanted me to carry her the rest of the way back to the truck, but I didn't.  And she made it just fine--although I've never seen her so muddy.  She finally has enough fur to collect mud!
Looking like a dog instead of a fruit-bat!
Life is (wet, cold, muddy, sloshy, slippery, goopy, messy)  GOOD.