Monday, January 30, 2012

Photo safari in Barr


This common crane probably got the scare of its life when my grandson's wildlife camera "captured" it on our lake in Barr.

That's my kind of hunting!  Photographic hunting—like those Photographer's Safaris in Africa.  You get to look at the wildlife, take beautiful pictures and everyone goes home happy, especially the animals.

I didn't grow up in a hunting family, but I married into one.  Not long after we got married I came home and opened the freezer, and there staring me in the face was a skinned squirrel!  I almost lost it.  Thought I might have made a mistake.

But over the years, I've gotten used to it, but still don't like it.  Used to the dirt on the kitchen floor, used to the you-should-have-seen-the-one-that-got-away talk, used to men leaving to go hunt in the dark. Thank goodness this is just a bird-hunting household instead of a deer hunting one like Garrett's, where they can't wash hunting clothes and even add stinky stuff to make them stink more.

The first weekend or two Garrett's camera captured deer—at night and during the day.
Finally, I thought. He will be happy getting these cool pictures and forget about real hunting.  Wrong. This weekend he got his first trophy a deer camp at a undisclosed location.

But just look at the smile on his face.  That's the biggest smile I've seen in a long time. Something tells me we will see that deer on the wall in his house. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Older horses teach young riders

All this discussion of bay horses has me thinking of Olivia's little horse Duke. He was the horse she grew up with. 

Impressalady at age 20
Duke or Impressalady (Impress-A-Lady), his registered name, belonged to Bridgett Hollis who lived across the street from us when we lived in Westwood.  We watched her do great things with this little horse.  

When Olivia outgrew her black pony at age 13, I asked Dr. Jerry Hollis about getting Duke.  He said no.  I waited a few months and asked again. He said yes. 

That was around 1996.  Duke was an own son of Impressive, who was influential in changing the halter-horse world. He was sired by the thoroughbred, Lucky Bar, a Three Bars son, and out of Glamour Bars.  In 1993 he was estimated to have in excess of 55,000 living descendants, including Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas.  Impressive was linked to something besides siring champions.  His genetic legacy included a genetic mutation implied in the rare muscular disorder known as hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). Although he never exhibited symptoms of the disease himself, it gradually  became evident that many of his descendants were inflicted with the painful, alarming and often fatal disease. The disorder has never been observed in horses of other lineages.

Duke never showed signs of the disorder, but we began feeding him plain oats to avoid the trigger of high-protein feeding.  He did not need to be any more full of energy than he was anyway.  Read more about the disorder at


Duke's owners must have planned on using him for a stud, thus his name. But the little horse didn't reach his sire's height.  He was about 14 hands.  He was trained in the now old-fashioned way of going with his head flexed behind the poll. In showmanship he pivoted on his left instead of right foot. He won points in trail when horses had to stand "ground tied."

Duke right before we sold him in 2001.

Olivia made him her all-around horse, competing in Western pleasure, Horsemanship, Showmanship, Hunt Seat Equitation, and Hunter Under Saddle. She showed him in district and state 4-H competition and at area Quarter Horse shows. I even showed him in Horsemanship.

People would come up to us and say, "Is that Impressalady?  Man, he was something in his time. I recognize him because of his roan blaze."

We kept Duke for six years and sold him when he was 20 to a lady who just wanted a horse to get on every now and then.

When he was mad, he would poop in his water bucket. The night she took him home, she called and said, "Does this horse always poop in his bucket?"  I told her he would quit, he was just mad.  He did it at shows, too.

He was a great teacher for Olivia. I'm a firm believer in older horses for young riders.  Young rider + young horse = trouble. He was a little nervous. He had to be coming straight from Impressive.  Duke may have been a little horse, but nobody ever told him that.

"War Horse" teaches us lessons of appreciation

Since I wrote a blog in November promoting the movie "War Horse," it is only fair that now I write a review.

I had heard a lot about the movie, the screen play before it, and the book by Michael Morpurgo before that.  Here's my take on the movie:

It is the story of a boy and a horse and a war. Yes, sometimes it is hard to watch. But don't you think that the things that are hard to watch or even think about are just the things we should know?

We should know that there were more than 3 million casualties from Great Britain.  The US, in case you are interested, had around 350,000.  If you want to compare stats on WWI, WWII, and Vietnam, here is a link .

We should also know that WWI took the lives of a staggering 800,000 horses. According to, "Such was the use of horses on the Western Front, that over 8 million died on all sides fighting in the war. Two and a half million horses were treated in veterinary hospitals with about two million being sufficiently cured that they could return to duty."

Was it realistic?  The behavior of the horse and the relationship to Albert, in my opinion, was not realistic.  But it made a great story. Many horses have proved to be a "champion" at something for which they were not bred.

There were a few non-horse realistic scenes. According to trivia on IMBd, "Anyone who has been around horses knows that the bridles would be removed at the end of every day." And Joey was trained to respond to Albert the way he did. Most horses just want food. But I think they do remember us and like some of us better than others. 

And Joey, himself, was spectacular. Of course, I mean the main Joey. Fourteen horses played Joey during the movie. The "main" acting horse in the film may have seemed familiar because Finder, also portrayed Seabiscuit in the movie about the famous racehorse. Finders Key, the horse and real star of War Horse was last ridden in a race by actor and professional jockey Kevin Mangold, finishing in 5th place at 77 to 1 odds. (IMDb)

Were any of the horses harmed in the shooting of this film?  No. No. No.  Please check out this article. It is so interesting, and is written specifically about the treatment of the animals on the set. All filming was supervised by Barbara Carr, the American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representative. There is also a compelling interview from Director Steven Spielberg on the subject.

The shooting of one of my favorite horse movies, "The Horse Whisperer" (1998) did have a mishap on set. The movie, directed by and starring Robert Redford, (do you hear that?  It's my heart fluttering at the mention of his name.  He still does it for me) had to stop production when the fake blood caused a toxic reaction to the horses' skin. They waited for them to mend and no permanent damage was done.  PS:  There were lots of horse goof ups in this one......blaze one minute, star the next, leg wrapping changing colors and disappearing from scene to scene.

So, In my book "War Horse" is a four out of five. Life lessons are never easy to watch. We should appreciate the sacrifices that all soldiers made in WWI and the role horses tragically played in this victory. If we treat animals with kindness, they will usually pay it back to us. If we got two important lessons, it was worth it. 

This blog is dedicated to my Granddaddy Cathey Spotswood Dandridge, who served in WWI.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crocs and Lipstick

I did something today I have never done before. Let's say I never dreamed I would do it. I went to Wal-Mart shopping, wearing my Crocs!  And they aren't even Crocs, they are knock-offs that Howard bought me at Trade Days last June. They have chew marks from Evil Ellie, who also removed the straps. They are accented by white paint on the toe of the right one.

Nothing makes me happier than pretty clothes. I have pretty clothes, still buy pretty clothes, so why am I wearing worn jeans and Crocs?  Beverly at Upstairs Closet, if you are reading this, all I can say is that I don't wear my Beverly clothes with my Crocs. Does this sound like flawed thinking.

I always said that if I wasn't at work, I would still do my hair, make-up and look decent. I did that on weekends for years unless we were doing something really messy, like working cows.  Glad those days are over.

But since I've retired, I've begun to resent the time it takes to do my hair, etc, when I could be quilting, playing with dogs or reading—the important stuff.   Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a total slob. I usually find time to brush my hair, put on jeans and a semi-decent shirt, and always......LIPSTICK.

My children have laughed for years about my addiction to lipstick. I don't think I wear too much, but naked lips and naked toes are not pretty, unless you are a guy.  My children say, "You can tell which drink is Mama's, the one with the lipstick," or "Ha, ha, ha, Look, Mama got lipstick on her sandwich," or "Mama, do you get lipstick on potato chips?"  They think they are so funny.

According to Gwyneth Paltrow, "Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick."  I love it!

But back to the beauty routine or lack thereof.  I don't know how I ever got to work. Out of the bed at 6, get Diet Coke, in the tub at 6:15, dry hair by  6:30, etc. I don't have it down to an exact science anymore, and it takes longer.

Maybe there is more to do considering that I'm aging.  Uggggghhhh. If we do what we are supposed to do we would wake up and begin brushing, flossing, tweezing, shaving, moisturizing, medicating, stretching, etc.  All for what?  By the time we do all that, there is no time to do anything else.

I'm also having trouble getting my eyeliner on straight. NO BODY TOLD ME THIS WOULD HAPPEN!  So if you see me at Wal-Mart and I'm in fake Crocs and my eyeliner is a little crooked, just smile.  Another thing about this particular chapter in my life is that, "I don't care.  HA!"  But I will, indeed, have on lipstick.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Afternoon in Barr

What a perfect New Year's Day!  Church in my beautiful small town with my husband, an afternoon nap, a new sewing project, and then a ride through the woods on the mule (not the four-legged kind) with Howard to see the geese on our pond. It is coming back to life after being drained this past summer.  I am so blessed to live on this piece of land.  Cash couldn't resist going and barking at them. Loving this beautiful, mild weather in January.  I hope I can stay organized, keep my house clean, have wonderful parties, enjoy my children and grandchildren, work with my dogs, make my sewing projects look better on the back side as well as the front, and be an all-around better person in 2012.  That's a tall order, but I have high hopes.