Saturday, September 29, 2012

In which it's not really "solo" if a friend goes along for the ride

Fiddle and I try to get out on the trails at least twice a week, just to stay sane.  

We both need to be surrounded by trees and NOT surrounded by walls as much as possible...

...and besides, it's quiet out there.  No computers, no phones (cell phones work only intermittently on our regular training routes), no machines of any kind....

it's a pump rig, for fire suppression

...unless you count logging machines.

She gave it a few freight-train-esque dragon snorts,
and then decided that it was mostly harmless.

This rather odd contraption has been parked in the middle of our trail for a couple of weeks.  Yesterday when we were in that area, we found out why:  they've started logging that sector. I took really lousy video of the tree cutting and processing with my phone, but it doesn't show the action and noise very well.  You can see and hear the same kind of activity more clearly on the videos that I included in THIS 2011 POST.

(and please note the actions of Team Sensible in the linked videos:
calm, unworried.  I love this mare!)

I get a lot of queries about riding alone, especially from other riders.

They look around, always a little frantically.  Then comes the question:

"You're all alone?"

Nope.   I brought my horse with me today.

I dearly love riding with the Usual Suspects.  However, Fee and I both really enjoy the hours that we spend out on the trail "solo."  Except, of course, they we aren't all alone.  We have each other.

Just to make sure that we don't accidentally bring an unwelcome companion...

We've all been the Bad Idea Fairy, but there's no reason to do 
dumb stuff if you can plan around it!
Image by Monica Bretherton

...we always file a "flight plan" with at least two other people so that somebody knows where we are, where we're going, the route we intend to take, and our expected arrival time back in the World.

And then...

...we head out onto the trails.  That blue sky won't last forever, and we are determined to enjoy it while we've got it.

It's good.  It's really, really good.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

In which there is a brief warning from literature, and we catch up

"WINTER IS COMING."  --George R.R. Martin

The progression of seasons is never completely out of my mind, but perhaps more than usual during the beautiful extended-warm-and-sunny weather we've been having in the Swampland for the past few weeks.  I know it won't last.

Fresh homemade bread, sardines, fancy cheese, several kinds of figs, plums,
and apples, smoked oysters, snooty chocolate...

The Usual Suspects are all native Swamplanders, so when a "last picnic of the Summer" was proposed, we all enthusiastically stuffed the saddle bags with delicacies and headed out into what may be the last sunny weekend we have...for months.

Straight out of the camera.  Some days are just like that, here.

Fiddle and I have been enjoying the sunshine on solo rides as well, storing up "blue sky prints" in our eyeballs that will need to last us through the gloomy bits of fall, winter, and spring.

I've also been writing my tailfeathers off.

Executive committee meeting at the coffeehouse:
L-to-R: Monica (photographer), me, and Anne (editor)
The finished manuscript for Endurance 101  was delivered on-time to the publisher on August 31st...but there's still plenty to do, including talking about the layout, the website, and the press releases.

I'm still working on the other manuscript too, of course.  The main body of the Sex in the Library book has been submitted to the publisher, but my co-author and I still have more than 100 book reviews to write, edit, and re-write before we can submit that portion of the book and sit back and relax a bit.  We're on schedule with the's not due until the end of December...but the closer to finished we get, the more complicated it seems.  At least she and I are only 2 time zones apart this month--for most of the previous year, we had to Skype and email everything because I was here in the Swamp and she was living in Mumbai, India!  This is easier.

Speaking of here in the Swamp, our harvest season is starting to wrap up.
Italian prune plums...just about ready to be made into wine

The apples are too blotchy to appeal to humans...

...but the Dragon and her Minions think that blotchy apples are just fine!

Will is now "paying rent" at home, since he graduated high school in June.  Since he's currently unemployed, I'm allowing him to work off the debt by taking on some of the more complex farm projects, like re-building the fence around the garden....
Will and Jim, doing the carpenter thing

...because we've got to keep the zucchini from escaping!
Shhh.  Stealthy zucchini hope you don't see them!

The zukes are actually slowing down production a bit, finally.  But the butternut squashes
Squash v. sneaker.  The size-7 shoe doesn't stand a chance.

are still growing!  And so are the
"giant" pumpkin has a  54" girth, and it's still growing!

So far, the grapes have escaped capture by Chicken Twelve, but I don't imagine she will allow them to elude her much longer.  That hen knows where ALL the food on the farm can be found

...but we're still hoping to grab a tomato or two before she gets them!

We're ticking off the stuff on the to-do list, including fixing the starling-devastated holes in the barn ceiling,
holes ripped in the vapor barrier by starlings,
mended with Gorilla Tape and white duct tape
 and of course, bringing in plenty of hay.  We have three different types, of varying qualities.  On the right is the cheap local stuff I picked up in late July.  The middle stack is nice hay from the Dry Side, and on the left is a batch of timothy/orchard grass produced by a local farmer.  I got the timothy right out of the field during the middle of our dry spell, and am very pleased at the quality--it's rare to get non-weedy hay on our side of the mountains!

Oh.  HAY!

I guess you could say that although I'm not looking forward to Winter, it's gonna come anyhow.  So, bit-by-bit, we're getting ready.

But I think I'll go outside for a few minutes, now that I've written this post.  I can't help noticing that the sun isn't all the way down yet, and the sky is still mostly blue.

Life. Is. Good!