The Rouge Mule

The Rouge Mule

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Fred and I bought a maroon Equinox on the first day of fall, last year. It was supposed to be my car, but Fred picked the style, the size, and the color. It is pretty and I’m thankful we bought on it on a date that helps me remember its model name. 

It is not the car I would have chosen, but it does have four wheel drive and better ground clearance than the KIA. I wanted something smaller for better gas mileage, and with more ground clearance – to get me higher into the mountains. I also wanted a backseat that folded flat so Beau could ride closer to me, without being in the front.

When I am fond of my vehicles, I name them. If I hate them, I also name them. The Lil Red Taco was my all-time-favorite, POS911 speaks for itself. 

My Equinox remained nameless until last Sunday.

When I go hiking,  driving to the trailhead cuts off unnecessary elevation hiking and rough terrain. Last Sunday, we tried a new trailhead. I would have parked where the road was still good and hiked, but I wanted to get as close as possible for Fred.

OMG! I have never driven such a mess! The ruts were deep enough to hang us up. Sharp rocks would have flattened lesser tires (and we were in no-phone-zone). If I had stopped, I would have had to back down to a place where I could get a run for the next incredible incline. The tires spun several times, in spite of the fact that I didn’t stop, shooting rocks out like missiles, behind us. I went over several projectiles that I cringed and lifted my butt for, but there were no big scrapes or loud bangs.

That critter went right where I aimed it, without a falter or a hiccup. Once we made it to the trailhead, we had an excellent hike.

Across the tops        IMG_1681

 

Coming down the mountain, it was just as surefooted as when we went up. We were happy campers.

My car has earned her name: The Rouge Mule. 

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Who among you names your vehicles? What are some of the names you have called your pets (& enemies)?

Write on, 

Ani

Father’s Day on the Lake

(or: Confessions of a Bonafide Landlubber)

Green Pueblo Lake

   I went fishing on Father’s Day in a fancy lake boat. I have ridden around in bass boats, canoes, & row boats, but I am not an experienced boater by any stretch of the imagination, and this fine boat stretched my imagination.

   The vocabulary informed me, right up front, that my ignorance was beyond pretending. Everything said had to be translated to Landlubber-ese. Throw me the line means throw me the darn rope (and that not just shoes have cleats.) 

   Our intro ride around the lake was lovely. The jade green water reminded me of Superior’s cool depth and white caps. The sky was blue. Birds were swooping across the water. Kids were diving off rocks. (The children did not have life jackets, but dogs did!) Paddle boards were used as a floatation devices, complete with pups. There was a family of canoers, and their adolescents in kayaks, rowing alongside. 

Dogs & Girls, paddle boarding

   It was a great family day on the lake. 

   We chose our fishing spot and settled down to fish. Looking forward to a picture of myself with a trophy catch, I figured to “free Willy,” and go home to a nice vegan dinner.

   My first significant maneuver was to pitch a favorite lure into the lake because, well, how many ways can you tie something on? Apparently, swivels (more new vocabulary) and heavy lures require a doubled-special knot. Who knew?

   After an hour or so of fishing, I remembered that my fishing license was still in my purse, back in the truck. I envisioned a Park Nazi swinging by, hoping to net some unsuspecting law-breaker.  Since my fishing attention is only an hour (or two, at the most) I put away my gear and enjoyed splashing my feet off the back of the boat (which, I’m sure has its own special name.) For a minute there, I envisioned reruns from JAWS, but I managed to rein in my imagination and enjoy the lovely cool on my tootsies. That sun was hot.

   Suddenly, the Capt’n Himself yelped and jerked a lovely walleye out of the drink. To my amaze, the bugger retaliated, and with a flip, buried a hook in The Captain’s left pinky, right by the nail.  

   I realized, watching him work that hook. that he wasn’t pulling it out, he was pushing it through. I thought I was going to puke. Of course, our nice sterile first aide kit, loaded lidocaine, was hindsight (until now.)

   He worked that hook through the meat of his finger himself, because Nowhere in my job description is First Responder. I am not a blood, muscle & guts kind of girl. My initial reaction was to hide under the steering housing and until the horror passed. (My true colors show up at the most embarrassing and horrible times.)

   I managed to swallow my gut level reaction and retrieve all the equipment he called for. Incredulously, he had me push the skin down over the hook, so it could pop through. I was reluctant but, at the same time, relieved to be able to help in some small way. 

   When he called for the dykes (I forget their nautical name), I knew we were getting close to the end. They broke, without cutting the barb off the hook. He was incredulous, I was flummoxed. Would this saga ever end?

   Good news, we had another cutter somewhere onboard. While I was busy rummaging through the tackle boxes, looking for it, Fred asked if there was something he could do.

Negative.

   Nudging the walleye with his toe, Fred asked The Capt’n if he wanted to keep it. Not looking at what his dad was talking about, he said, “No.” 

   Before I could speak up, Fred picked up our only “keeper” so far, and launched it back into the deep, green waters.

   As soon as The Capt’n realized that his dad was heaving the the sole ‘keeper’ over, he wailed,”NO!” 

   Too late.

   OMG! I am still laughing and leaking tears. The stress of the buried hook and working it through the meat of that tender pinky skin really heightened the relief of “freeing Willy.” I found and tossed the dykes at Himself, scuttling to the back of the boat as fast as I could, holding my breath and stiffling my intense need to laugh. Such travesty would surely warrant The Capt’n entertaining the idea of throwing me in after the fish! 

   Even back there, I could barely keep down the giggles. I hid the tears of mirth by keeping my face averted.

   When the drama was over, both men returned to their fishing. I kept myself on the back of the boat; enjoying the soaring herons, the sweet-cooling breeze, and laughing periodically at how the wee drama had unraveled itself. What a surprise ending.

   The adventure was not quite over. The white caps enhanced jade coloring, but made for a jarring ride on our way back to the harbor. I refrained from taking pictures, not wanting the phone to get jounced out of my hand. There were times I felt the boat sail out of the water and bang down, with surprising hardness.

   The wind was bullying everyone at the harbor, pushing them into each other and the docks. No one loaded at the first go-round. Finally, The Capt’n got his loaded on the trailer – with little help from his assistant  landlubbers. 

   His patience really was amazing.

   I’m still not sure how you pull the plug, because by the time we were ashore, I think the Captain of the Ship was exhausted. He recognized that blank look, I’m so proficient at, and just jumped down to do it himself. 

   I had a great day. It had all the elements of a wonderful adventure: landlubber anxiety, beauty of the elements, watching people and their pets play, drama, and finally humor. Oh, and a lovely, vegan dinner to cap it all off.

It was a great Father’s Day.

Rain coming in

How was yours?

Write on,

Ani

Reminiscence

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The empty, old house sat silent through the night, content with its current inhabitants.

The sunrise brought the wind, waking up the windmill. It started out slowly, a crooked paddle clicked on the frame.

“I love to move,” the wheel sang, clicking with rhythm, pleasantly at first.

“I can see so much farther than you.” It sang to the house. “Do you want to know what I see?” It didn’t wait for an answer. “They are building a new house on the hill to the east of us. The grass is getting green so I know the cows and the people will come back soon. It’s too bad they don’t fix you up, too. They could at least block your door so the cows don’t go in!”

The wind picked up and mill spun merrily in a building breeze, humming.

A bird lighted on one of the old house’s upper window sills, dribbling white down its side, making it look even more faded.

“At least birds don’t poop on me. If it weren’t for me, there would be no water around here. You never would have been built … our family never would have been able to live here. You know that, right?”

The windmill prattled on about its valuable contributions, most of them from the past. The house tuned it out, enjoying the warming sunshine.

“… and what about that time the bull chased Momma up my ladder? Whew, that was exciting! That mean old critter hit one of my legs so hard, he bent it. Pa built a fence around the house, after that. Remember how Momma built a short fence around my legs and called it the playpen, so she could have her babies outside with her. I loved watching those little ones play in the dirt.”

The old house sighed, windless days were few and far between. Mice and birds may be messy, but they were quiet. The wind hit a lull and it was silent for a while, but it never lasted long enough. Sometimes the days seemed endless with the old mill’s reminiscing. The sun was only midmorning.

“Do you remember the big ones’ names? When they first came, they had different names, but after the babies came, they were always just Momma and Pa, even to each other.”

“I’ve always envied you, you know. You got to be there for their meals, for the births … and the deaths. I could hear some things through the windows and the walls, but you got to see everything, even to watch them sleep. I loved that year they decorated me as their Christmas tree. They held hands and sang Christmas carols to me. It was wonderful.”

The wind died and silence settled back over the yard, everyone basked in the noon sunlight and good memories. Even the inhabitants, sheltered within the house, were content to be still. The house remembered, but did not comment on what a lean Christmas that particular one had been for the family. Yet, the folks had seemed happy enough.

“Remember when Billy climbed my ladder … and fell? There was nothing I could do.” The wind blasted and the wheel clacked crazily for a few minutes. The house wondered why that loose paddle didn’t fly off. Finally the wind let up and the mill became legible again.

“He died.”

The house groaned, as though the memory were weighted. A tiny creak cried from within. The afternoon sun calmed the wind to a gentle, quiet breeze. Again, silence spread over the small plot that had once been a place where children played.

There was to be one last draft that moved the old mill to speak. “Even though Billy died, those were the good old days. I never thought they would end.”

The sun began to set. The wind was dying and the windmill uttered its last thought for the day. “I wonder why they left ….”

The wind died to a whisper. The wheel slowed until even the occasional click stopped.

A remnant of white fluttered in the old house’s window for a moment; waving farewell to the sun, the day’s chattering reminiscence, and welcoming the quiet  return of now.

 

 

 

 

 

Pits and Pistols

Maryanne and I hiked several miles on a new trail last Sunday. New trails, good friend, best dog, blue skies … sweet.

Passing a junk-filled yard, I saw dog feet trotting on the other side of an old pickup. I scooped Daz up. Dogs seem reluctant to mess with people but this dog didn’t even stop when he saw I had Daz in my arms. His eyes were on her and he never slowed his pace. When he lunged for her, I automatically put my arm up between him and her. He grabbed the sleeve of the baggy sweat shirt I was wearing hard enough to make holes in it, and pull my arm away. Though his teeth did not break the skin on my arm, there was blood on my glove as I jerked my hand through his mouth. He was not in – the least – deterred.

He lunged again, this time his eyes on me.

He was caught mid-lunge by a horrified owner. I could have fainted with relief.

What if his owner had been gone? What would I have done if he attacked Maryanne? There were no sticks or rocks handy.

Dogs are the bane of my running and hiking existence. Wild life has never messed with me. Dogs, however, are not afraid of people. It grieves me to carry a gun, yet … what are my options? And so, sadly, I dig out my revolvers, to practice.

The Grind

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Sometimes we see routine as a grind …

A friend and I walk three mornings a week. Getting my hinny out the door (when it’s dark and bitter cold) is sheer torture. Why do I do it?

The sunrises that celebrate the end of our walks are part of the inspiration that keep me going. Every morning is different, but all are beautiful. There is not a single day I have regretted my accomplishment.

Some things are sheer drudgery, yet , in the end are so rewarding. Can you name one?

Grind on,

Ani

 

 

Hide & Seek

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Playing with the Wildlife

The deer were bucking and running in circles on the road this morning, savouring the promise of spring. I was on the phone – enjoying this visual image of life outside my window – until I realized they were coming in the gate.

No. No. No. They trash our bird feeders in seconds. There were twenty of them, at least! I grabbed the BB gun and ran out to chase them off.

Game on!  They hid in the trees, split up, circled around behind me … it became quite the challenge. I ran, dodged, stop to listen, tried to head them off. (They are a lot like cows, they know where you want them to go, and go in any direction but! Suckers.)

Finally I had them all driven out. More materialized from among the pines across the road, confused by the cool reception. “What’s up with her?”  I shoot at them, too.

The white butts bounced into the trees, tails waving good-by. They know we have treat blocks for them on the other side of the horse fence … and that is where they go.

I walk back to the house, exilerated from my “hunt.” What fun. The person on the other end of the line has been laughing, not quite believing they are playing hide and seek with me and the deer.

What is a brush you’ve had with Mother Nature lately? What feelings did you experience? Share, if you will.

Write on,

Ani

Dusty Rose

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Hi, I am Rosie.

I belong to Mike but Nina and Poppy come over and hang out at the River house.  I know them quite well and I am always glad to see them.  Often they give me and my pasture mates hay or grain. They have apple treats, plenty of rubs, and kind words, as well.

Nina likes to play with me. (The other horses usually get played with, not me.) I like the attention! Last summer she had me run in circle (for some silly reason). Since it made her happy and it wasn’t too hard, so I did it for her. It was a small price to pay for an extra scoop of grain and some one on one time.

Nina says I would follow a bucket of grain into a burning barn.   Silly Nina. What horse wouldn’t? ( … What’s a burning barn?)

What is something that you really like to eat?

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