Thursday, December 31, 2009

Do YOU Know Where Your Owner's Manuals Are?



HEAR YEA!!! HEAR YEA!!!

Seriously, it's been seven days since Christmas. Do YOU know where your owner's manuals are? You know, those encyclopedia-sized texts written in at least two languages (but more often six or seven) that come with your new toys? The toys you got for Christmas.

You DID see them in the box didn't you? I'm sure you had to dig through them to get to the prize. Ahhh, the camera you wanted! Now, how do you use it?

They might have been wrapped in plastic to protect them...so you would READ them!

They had tables of content and indexes so you would READ them!



They came complete with safety warnings and quick tips for operation...so you would READ them!



If you must take a break from your manual search curl up with a good book by a good man --- Mark Rashid's Whole Heart, Whole Horse: Developing Consistency, Dependability, Trust and Peace of Mind Between Horse and Rider

So, all kidding aside (yeah, right!), look for those owner's manuals. They could be the difference between enjoying an awesome present you have now...and "re-gifting" that item next Christmas.

Happy New Year from everyone two and four legged at WhereMyHeartLives!









Tuesday, December 29, 2009

National Winter Pasture Beautification Day

December 21st was the first day of Winter. From that day on the sun stays around a minute or two longer each day....woo-hooo! Just in time though 'cause winter pastures are looking a little pitiful this time of year. I, and other like-minded horse keepers, throw flake upon flake, bale upon bale of hay out to the poor, starving FAT four-leggeds. And it collects.



So I proclaim (roughly any day in the month of December) National Winter Pasture Beautification Day! Gather your wheelbarrows ladies and gents. Arm yourselves with rakes and pickers. Bundle up against the 25 m.p.h. wind and bitter cold. Put a smile on your face and head out to the mess in your pasture. Lastly, don't forget to draft some help from the equines.



When the call to action went out at my place two trusty souls stepped up --- Otis and Pete. (Quaker asked to be excused this year as he was busy growing more winter coat!)



The work commenced. I raked and I raked. The wind blew and the hay swirled back to it's starting place. Grrr...

Pete had to taste the hay one more time to be sure it was "waste". Yup, blah.



What could have taken 20 minutes took more than an hour because of the wind....and the cheap laborers who had hired on.



OK, you two. Help like this I do NOT need! I have a teensy, tiny piece of "goodwill to men" left over from Christmas. I guess you can have it...now, get outta here!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Halleluia" on Steroids

Ohhhh, myyyyyy, gossssssssssh!

A very clever rendition of the famous "Halleluia" chorus! These high school students, and their music teacher of course, are waaaay kewl for Christmas 2009.

I will never, ever listen to this music again without remembering these "monks" and their placards.

Merry Christmas Everyone from WhereMyHeartLives!

Enjoy (and, turn it UP! Your boss won't mind...the ole Scrooge!):

Silent Monks Singing "Halleluia"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reindeer Reservists

Every Christmas it's touch and go with Santa and his reindeer. He has his regular, full duty reindeer...you know, the Dasher and Prancer crew? But with life being what it is, sometimes, just sometimes Santa needs a helping hand...er, hoof.

So we train. The horses and Pete standby to help Santa deliver all his presents --- from Burbank to Boston and Bismarck to Bixoli. Before the call comes from the North Pole, training starts with costuming. And the antler thing always presents a problem.

If you're a donkey you kinda already have antlers. They're just ears, of course, and fuzzy like antlers but not the correct russet brown color. Santa insists on antlers, though, so we do what we can to help out the old guy.

Pete, where do those antlers go? Behind the ears? In front? Get it right, dude.



Raider, having completed a stint in service to his main man Santa, stepped right up and showed the barn how it was done.



This year the challenge was with the rookie, Quaker. When asked if he would serve his reaction was predictable --- a rousing "YES!"



Difficulties mounted with the antler accoutrement. First it was on, then it was off. Geesh, it gave a new meaning to "eight second ride"!



So we begged and pleaded and threatened. We told Quaker how important it was to train to be a reindeer on the outside chance Santa might need him on Christmas Eve. The antlers went back on and were tossed off again and again.

Finally (gulp) we promised him the point position in Santa's hitch. That did it!

Sorry Rudolph...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanks for the "Thanks"

The memorial service for the four slain Lakewood, Washington police officers is over.

Over twenty thousand mourners attended the service at the Tacoma Dome with remote viewings held at local colleges. Churches held private viewings of the memorial service so on-duty officers could stop by. Law enforcement officers from across our country attended along with more than one thousand Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

It was a bittersweet tribute to the fallen officers in particular and law enforcement in general.

Thousands paid their respects as they lined the processional route in below freezing temperatures. Signs held simply said "Thank You" and children waved small American flags. Sunny skies prevailed as the four-mile-long procession of a thousand police and fire vehicles slowly made it's way, taking almost four hours to complete the route.

The shooting has impacted me in many ways. Sadness has trumped every emotion but one. Gratitude.

The display of gratitude started the day after the shooting...people looking at me in a different way. Little smiles. Nods of the head. Eyes glanced at the black mourning band covering my badge.

A man approached me in the courthouse the next day, tears streaming down his face. All he was able to get out was, "Sorry, so sorry. Thank you."

A woman stood next to me a day later at the bank. I was on my lunch break and in uniform. She reached in her purse and pulled out a small silver police badge. She showed it to me lovingly. It had been her father's. She thanked me for serving.

Yesterday while the memorial service was underway a man stood before my desk. He asked if he might shake my hand. I don't usually shake hands with my job, it's an officer safety issue. But I did. I gladly shook his hand. He squeezed mine and thanked me for protecting him and his family.

Today, the day after the thousands gathered to honor my fallen comrades, I am honored. A young lady stepped up to my desk, tears in her eyes, and thanked me for doing my job. We shook hands.

I fought back tears...not due to sadness this time but because of the gratitude expressed to me by those people over the last week.

I am reminded there are more "good guys" in the world than "bad guys". Thanks for the "Thanks".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cold Blooded Murder x 4

Sorry folks, I just need to "vent" a little. I've been off my blog for a few days because of events nearby that have made me not too cheery or "bloggy".

I've been a law enforcement officer for over 22 years. Everyday I'm honored to do my job and I'm glad to be a member of the profession. I'm totally devastated when my brothers and sisters, who also "serve and protect", die at the hands of a cold blooded murderer.

I'm referring to the murder of the four Lakewood, Washington police officers while they gathered Sunday morning. They sat at a local coffee shop with laptops open, reviewing reports and getting ready for the start of their shift. Ambushed, shot execution style, three died immediately. One officer pursued the suspect, shooting and wounding him. The suspect fired one last time, finishing his horrifying deed, leaving four dead at the scene.

A manhunt ensued. Every heart of every police officer in the area beat faster. The suspect's picture was kept close at hand. Blood pressures rose, nerves were on edge. The collective family of law enforcement worried as their loved ones worked the streets. Searching, searching.

The suspect was found this morning in Seattle, driving a stolen car. The manhunt ended. There will be no one to prosecute for the murders of the Lakewood officers.

When a police officer is killed in the line of duty it's tradition among the departments to wear a black band across the badge on their uniform. The band is worn until midnight of the day of the officer's memorial service. Yesterday I put the mourning band on my badge, again.

Again? Just four weeks ago I wore the band for a Seattle Police officer who was gunned down while he sat in his patrol car, with his recruit, on Halloween night.

Some would say it's not a good time to be a cop around here. As frightening as each day may be, I would have to disagree. To me, the feeling of satisfaction I get serving my community outweighs the risk.

Officer Ronald Owens. Officer Tina Griswold. Officer Greg Richards. Sgt. Mark Renninger.

End of Watch: November 29, 2009

Rest in peace comrades. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Four-leggeds"

This time of year, with the holidays, I think we're more apt to count our blessings. Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving Day, it may come up at the dinner table or maybe later over coffee and pumpkin pie. Some of us won't say a thing but will keep our thanks to ourselves.



Not me. I'm thankful for the life I live with my "four-leggeds". People are right up there on the grand list of priorities, of course, but at times it's the horses and the donkey, the cats, the dog and the wildlife that sustain my life. They're always there --- nuzzling, purring, nickering, munching.



They watch you with soft eyes of understanding.



And they're good listeners. Non-judgemental and full of wisdom.

If you listen closely.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Achy Breaky Neck!

I've found the fountain of youth --- for my neck. I've just discovered THE answer for the raw, red, sore neck I get when I carry my favorite (not light!) camera-I-love 'round my neck.

A gorgeous camera strap cover. How totally KEWL!



Made 'specially for you (as in custom, babe) by Shealynn, you can find her and her awesome talent at *SHEY*[B] . She's an Arizona photographer who loves to sew. I think she's come up with something pretty clever.

I'm thinkin' order pronto for Christmas! Order for yourself, your mom, your sister, your girl cousins, your grandma and the gal next door who feeds your cat when you're out of town. Heck, order for folks who don't even know they NEED one of these darlin' strap covers. Someday someone will give said person a new camera. They'll put it around their neck (gleaming ear to ear) and say, "Gawd, this HURTS!". The entire future with their new camera will be crushed because of the pain caused by the stiff, crusty, poky camera strap. (Besides, it's black and not making a fashion statement of any kind.)

That's when you'll smile and slyly pull the cushy glamorous strap cover out and hand it to them. It'll make you a hero, a conqueror of camera strap pain.

And downright thoughtful.

There's only one thing that'll make the ordering painful, for you. There's so many fabrics to pick from, it may be next to impossible to pick just ONE! Ahhh --- decision, decisions.







Shop on, brilliant gift giver, shop on!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Heavenly Justice

She was just a 3 year old and she was mine. With a name like "Heavenly Justice" and me being a cop, well, how could I loose? In the horse racing world I'd learned any coincidence with anything about racing and it could be used as a good luck charm...and her name did it for me.

Bought late in the winter she went into training at a little run-down horse farm in the Kent Valley. Looking at the place you'd have to cringe some. No gleaming buildings, no modern composite training track. What the barn lacked in luster, though, it gained in caring, knowledgeable people. Horses were crooned to as they were fed. After workouts warm water baths were given and kind, calloused hands massaged tired youngsters' muscles.

The day finally arrived for Heavenly Justice to meet her public at Emerald Downs. It was a day I'd never forget as I watched my girl start her trip toward the saddling paddock.

First stop, the "test barn". At the beginning of every race the horses are brought to the barn and identified. The ID steward checks under the upper lip of each horse to look for a tattoo. Yup, she was who we said she was.



The "pony horses" waited outside the test barn. They would meet the horses after they left the saddling paddock to guide them to the starting gate.



Led by her groom she headed toward the paddock. She was curious and knew what was going to happen soon. She was going to be a race horse.



I thought it suiting my beautiful filly was 'pretty in pink' that day. The saddle cloth for the 8th pole position is always pink, but it had special meaning for me. (Yeah, there goes that superstition stuff again!)



Her admirers oooed and ahhhed as she was saddled and paraded around the ring. I stood in the paddock on the "8" spot, showing I was her owner. I grinned from ear to ear as I heard folks talking about the "good lookin' bay".

Mine.

"Riders UP!" was the command from the paddock steward.



A one handed boost from the trainer and Juan was in the saddle. One of Emerald Downs' leading jockeys at the time, he was confident enough to change is name on the back of his helmet to "One".



While the pony horse led my gal to the starting gate I smiled as I watched the tote board light up. She was in the 8th post position which meant the 8th slot out from the rail. Not where I would have wanted her, but, hey, not my choice. Just seconds before the start of the race the board showed her odds at 1 to 6. Not that bad for a first time starter in the 8 hole.



They're OFF!

Ha---you were hoping for pictures of the race? No way, I was too busy jumping up and down and screaming. But I do have a picture of the finish!



Out of 10 horses entered, Heavenly Justice took 4th on her first out! Another furlong and she would've caught the leaders.

Big superstition...I don't bet on my own horses. But that didn't keep me from accepting the payout at the end of the day for her 4th place finish.



I was a richer person for the experience of owning a race horse. Not much to take to the bank, but richer just the same.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Hunka-hunka Burnin' Love

Meet Blue.



Blue has two loves in his life. One is his master and mistress, Bryan and Bekah (my son and daughter-in-law). The other is (drum roll, please) --- HUNTING!

Recently Blue demonstrated his love for hunting on Banks Lake near Steamboat Rock State Park in Washington. I don't know about you but it's a major goose bump moment to see a dog do what he was meant to do. It doesn't matter if it's a live (well, kinda) mallard or teal or just a decoy. Blue's so into hunting and retrieving anything from the water. It's hypnotizing to watch him work.





Splash!



I swear --- Blue must have a hidden outboard motor with him as he churns toward the decoy.



Gotcha!



Look what I found waaaaaay out there in the water! Is this what you wanted? Huh? Huh?



Please, please tell me you'll throw it again. I live and breathe for it.



Mom? Dad? I love you soooo much, but most of all (and I know you won't mind me saying this) --- I love HUNTING!

It's OK Blue Dog, that burnin' kind of love is perfectly acceptable.

Love ya back!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lie Down!

Meanwhile, back at the farm, the Whiteman farmstead that is...

"LIE DOWN!"

Where in the world did that come from? Oh, I get it, "we" are herding sheep today.

The players:

The sheep. A Southdown, some Shetlands and (say this three times really fast) a Border Leicester/Polypay cross. Whew, couldn't we have just called them somethin' like Lambchop or Backstrap or Ribeye?



The rookie. A Border Collie named Gus with a zeal for herding. Only thing is --- his body gets a little ahead of his head sometimes, if you know what I mean.



The master. Another Border Collie named Nip. Nip knows what to do, does it when asked and adds a flair all his own.



The objective: move four sheep from one pasture to the adjoining pasture. The dogs will move them out one pasture gate, turn the sheep to the right and into another pasture gate. I'm the gatekeeper. Simple, right?

Dorothy, commander of all things herding, asks Gus, the rookie, to bring the sheep around. I am sure she said something in "herding-speak" like "Gus, go get the sheep!"



I didn't hear what she said, but whatever it was...it got Gus' attention and he took off.



LIE DOWN! Gus does exactly what Dorothy asks of him. This calms him and the sheep (ever so slightly) so the gathering can be done in a manner NOT resembling a wild horse roundup.



Gus takes off again and OOPS!, the sheep have found sanctuary in the miniature horse herd. One sheep was overheard muttering under his breath, "If we just stand pretty and swish our tails as we're grazing, maybe that blasted dog won't notice us."



Can miniature horses herd sheep? Chrissy, the little pinto seems to think so. Do I hear someone humming, "Gitalong little sheepies...?"



The job needs to be done right and done now. Bring in the master, Nip.

"Wait, wait...," which I'm sure means "Don't herd the sheep yet."



On cue Nip moves in, gently urging the sheep out the first gate and recovering them when they head down the wrong lane. He conducts an about-face and sends them into the adjacent pasture. I close the gate. I smile.

And nod, "It's a pleasure to work with you Sir!"

After a job well done Nip has some energy left to play with Titus (rookie guardian dog wannabe).



Herding sheep is just a warm-up for a little rough housing with this big fella.



On the farm, life is good.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Four-leggeds of Sonnybrier Farm

Our good friends, Ron and Dorothy Whiteman, live in Elma, Washington and raise lovely and talented miniature horses at their Sonnybrier Farm. Other critters grace the farm and fill it with joy and lots of laughter!



Not what you think! Mattie (a rear view) is the senior sentry on the farm. A guardian of sheep, it's her job to teach the younger up-and-coming guardian wannabes what their job may be someday when she isn't in charge any longer. Mattie excels at sleeping, keeping one eye open for anything that needs her attention.



Speaking of wannabes...here's Cooper. He's not a Sonnybrier four-legged but spends a lot of time at the farm with his owners. Cooper, a miniature Australian Shepherd really wants to herd sheep. From what I understand, that's not going to happen any time soon!

The herding equation at Sonnybrier is made up of sheep, "the herded"...



And dogs, "the herders" --- Nip and Gus (his visiting buddy). More about them later.





The green pastures at Sonnybrier are home for two dear girlfriends, Jessie and Zette. "The Girls" have spent most of their lives together and could certainly tell some interesting stories.





Jessie has her very own herd. Some of the miniature horses have decided she's a horse to look up to!



Ahhh, serenity at Sonnybrier Farm. Next time we'll stir things up a bit and get rowdy! Stay tuned...

Folks following my blog...

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