TheMcKeeSpot is a blog by Steven McKee. The purpose of this blog is for me to explore things that interest me as I plan for my next 50-plus years on this planet. Starting out, I am writing about my family and activities, but as time progresses, it will be about anything. Stay tuned, check in often and enjoy the ride.
Greetings from New Mexico. It is Sunday January 16, 2022. It is cold outside. It is early in the morning. I am trying to get into the trend of getting up early on Sunday to post. Certainly no mutant messages are being heard here. But the mutants did pay a visit.
It has been a wild week since my last post. Last week focused on the continuing COVID pandemic. I wonder if it was foreshadowing for this weeks events? Well, this week it managed to hit home. Daughter was notified about contact tracing at the high school and started feeling bad last Sunday. Everyone who I know that has been flagged by contact tracing has turned out to be positive within a few days. If you are lucky enough to get a test!
By Monday, daughter tested positive. Son tested negative but stayed home awaiting for the inevitable. By Wednesday, daughter was starting to feel no worse, son tested positive. And since they were with their mother, she too was hit with the symptoms. In all cased, it was the equivalent of a bad cold, with congestion, cough and a low grade fever. Of course, not to be outdone, their aunt in Louisiana was working through her second bout of the Chinese virus.
In all cases, everyone was fully vaccinated. The adults had the booster. What is obvious is that the vaccine, nor having the earlier mutations, does not protect you from getting the virus. However, it appears that it reduces (thus far) your symptoms and complications.
Needless to say, by the middle of the week, I was taking care of the horses, making food deliveries and keeping track of my kids from a distance. Elements of work were moving to working at home. Aside from hating it, aspects of my job simply cannot be performed at home. By the end of the week, I was still in the office every day but the Los Alamos High School and the Los Alamos Middle School returned to remote learning, and both kids had already missed almost a week of in-class education.
At this juncture, I need to pause my thoughts and go feed the horses…
As it has been getting in the low 20’s here at night, the horses need to have blankets. Roman is still confined to a smaller paddock area months after his surgery. Daughter was riding him on the Saturday before she fell ill. Ruby, who spends her days starring at the neighboring stables and horses, and goats, and donkeys, likes it when I feed her because I always have cookies to greet her.
As you can see, there remains some snow in the background of the photos. We had some several weeks ago but it is slowly melting. We clearly need more, much more in order to recover from the drought that has hit the state, and much of the southwest over the past few years.
…What I thought was going to be a brief pause for feeding turned out to be almost 12 hours. I went and fed the horses. Then I went for my usual Sunday morning coffee at Starbucks. My friend and coworker managed to return from Florida late last week. Almost a week later than he normally planned, but air travel experienced a number of flight cancellations over Christmas, New Years, and into early January. After coffee, I managed to run a few errands and returned to the stables to move some hay.
It turned out to be a beautiful day with temperatures in the middle 40’s. Moved hay and took Ruby for a walk. Her, and my first real exercise outside in months. Fed the horses dinner and then tended to myself.
So we managed to walk the outer loop at the stables, which is over a mile. She was thirsty when we returned, as she started to eat the snow. I have never seen a horse eat snow.
We also managed to see Roman, who was outside on such a great day. We caught him lying down, sunning himself and taking a nap. As I said, he is still taking it easy after his surgery. And with his rider out with COVID, not much for him to do. He finally got up and we were able to snap a good picture of him.
So the end of the week was very different than normal. I spent it outside with the horses, doing a bit more than just feeding them. While I do not ride, maybe someday I could learn. At least I had fun spending time with them. Here is to the kids getting better, me keeping from getting sick, and to the horses. Until next time. Much to be done.
Yes, I am writing this posting a few days after Thanksgiving. It has been a quiet but busy morning for me. It has been a month since my last post. I have, unfortunately, been too busy with work. COVID continues to make the new normal less normal. The world has become a very strange place. I am afraid that the planet that I leave for my children will be far worse than the planet that my parents left for me.
Thanksgiving was typical for me. It represents an annual treat where I get to practice chemistry in the modern sense. I get to cook. I get to enjoy wine. Wine for me; soda and water for the kids. But they like it that they get to drink out of wine glasses. I get to sit around the dinner table with my family. And for the most part, they put down their phones and iPad’s for eating and conversation (although they sneak a glance now and then). So true for this year as in previous years. It has become my annual tradition since the divorce.
The kids basically came over for dinner and desert, and like that, they left. I find it troublesome that I do not get to see them as much but after all, they have their own life.
Now that daughter can drive, she comes and goes as she pleases. On this day, she arrived after son, coming from the stables after feeding Ruby and Roman.
Friday was spent doing some reading, cleaning up around the house. Watching some movies. And of course, eating leftovers.
Saturday was football. Ohio State lost. Penn State lost. All of the teams that I was routing for…lost.
Kinda spent Friday and Saturday as a couch potato. Maybe more like the “I want to be alone because the outside is such an evil place”. Didn’t even go for my morning walks the whole time I was off from work. And it shows that I have eaten more than usual as I have managed to put about 5 pounds on. Need to work harder on the whole diet routine because I have plateaued and cannot get to my next target. Jewel is bothered as she didn’t get her morning walks. She was usually sitting on the sofa next to me, but this morning I think she went back to bed. But tomorrow the routine of the work week will resume, and she will get her time.
Outside it is cold, as the mornings I find myself awakening to temperatures in the 30’s. The cold part of fall has arrived in northern New Mexico, as has some snow, especially in the upper elevations.
Spent this morning without coffee. That is something I will have to rectify shortly. But I managed to make the annual family calendar. It is a photo montage of the year in the life of me and the kids, and the dog and the horses. I usually get a couple extra so that I can send out as Christmas presents to the immediate family. For me, most of my Christmas shopping is done. Started early because of the whole supply chain delays.
Several weeks before Christmas, and just like that, it will be another year at work has past. I need to figure out that whole retirement thing and get on with it.
School will soon be over for the kids. It is still not normal either. Everybody wears masks. Everybody is vaccinated, and I have had my booster. And yet it is still there. The e-mail about the COVID case at school. The need for testing as you have the symptoms of the common cold. Influenza is making the rounds this year.
I had a pet hamster growing up. Put them into those balls and they will run for hours, exploring the house. Also a dog and a cat. Our family was bad at names. We had a dog named Tippy because of the white tip at the end of her tail. And Grey the cat. You guessed it. Grey’s mother was named Fluffy. Shall I go on?
To a hamster, the caged life must be great. All the food you want, an exercise wheel. You sleep. You eat. You drink. You poop. Plenty to do, provided you like to live behind bars everyday of your life. That is if your hamster is caged in the modern rodent cages that one can purchase from a local pet shop. Or from Pet Smart at the mall. Both of my kids have had lots of pets over the years. It started with Guinea Pigs.
I had just separated and moved into a three bedroom apartment. The kids called me one day crying. Their Montessori needed to re-home two Guinea Pigs from a student who had them but as she got older, developed allergies. My lease didn’t allow pets but I said that I would ask the landlord. Oddly enough, he didn’t have a problem with Guinea Pigs. I guess it was because they live in a cage. So the kids got the two Guinea pigs, renamed them Super Guinea and Brownie. I don’t remember what their original names were. Over the next three years, they were the only two pets in our new home. Then over time…
Along came several goldfish and then tropical fish. We still have three goldfish that my son won at a street carnival two years ago. They share the tank with a five year old tropical fish and get along just fine…
And the seven or so parakeets. They had great bird names…
And the lizards. We loved to watch them eat live crickets…
And two dogs over the six years that we have called the place home. The dogs arrived after I bought the place from my landlord. Abby died after two years and after a year, we had to get Jewel. Both were pound puppies…Jewel is currently lying on the back of the sofa over my left shoulder as I write this.
The kids got very creative with Pet names over the years. How else can you get Ruby from a horse that is actually named Think of Chocolate?
Ruby the horse has her own place about 5 miles from our house. If she could, I am sure that my daughter would love to have her living in the back yard.
Over the years, these pets taught my kids about the circle of life. How to take care of something that cannot take care of itself. All things live, until they die. The backyard has become a pet cemetery of sorts. Nondescript graves, a nondescript funeral. Flushing the goldfish down the toilet is not how we send a family pet like whitie the goldfish into the ever after. If the mean guy who lives two houses down wants to report that to the homeowners association, I don’t care.
This morning I went into my son’s room to check on Johnnie, my son’s pet hamster. He has had Johnnie for almost two years now. Gave him fresh food and checked the cage. It was empty! There was no Johnnie. He escaped.
The last time that I saw Johnnie was a couple of days ago. I went to my son’s room to check on him. He was fine but needed water. I refilled his water container. Pretty sure he was there when I replaced the water bottle. Checked today, provided him food and there was no hamster. No sign as to how he got out. My son swears that he was there yesterday. What to do now?
My daughter had a hamster several years ago. He managed to escape from his cage. This kids like to hold them and play with them. Hamster fell out of her hands and ran off. Took us about 24 hours to recapture him in my daughter’s closet. Hope to do the same with Johnnie.
But he is missing. So I checked the internet on how to recover a lost hamster. I set his cage in the middle of my son’s room with the door open. Hopefully he will get hungry, or thirsty, spy the cage and craw inside. Visit for awhile and hopefully I can trap him.
Came across many interesting articles about hamsters, and other animals. Found a particularly interesting article entitled “Do Hamsters like music” at https://hutchandcage.com/do-hamsters-like-music/. From the article, the hamsters are like my kids. They love classical music. The article says that all animals like classical music. Of late I have been listening to Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Fanfare for the Common Man. Jewel isn’t too keen on it. Mozart or Beethoven? The article didn’t specify….Hamsters get stressed out to Metal or Rock music. The article suggests that music can be beneficial to hamsters. Too bad my children cannot benefit from listening to Pearl Jam (or RUSH; but they are OK with the Beatles and REM).
So if the cage trick does not work, I guess that I will resort to music.
Think I need to rethink the whole concept of getting chickens and rabbits and goats for the kids at the stables. Son wants a snake. I told him he can get a snake when he has his own place. Daughter would like lots of farmland so that she can take in any and every animal that does not have a home.
It has been a few weeks since my last post. I had started several posts but never finished them. Much has changed since my last post.
Sadly, we are coming up on day 14 of the 15 days to slow the spread. They call it “flatten the curve”. As it is, I am starting my second week of working from home. Only so much of my job that I can do at home. Lots to do but working on things, trying to access my work computer from home has been difficult.
For the kids, the school year has been cancelled. In New Mexico, we have 208 positive cases out of 10,977 total test as of the latest information on the New Mexico health website. I am sure that the numbers will only increase. At present, no one in Los Alamos County has tested positive, but several people in every county surrounding us has tested positive. It’s just a matter of time I am afraid. But I fear that there will be a rush to return and that will only make things worse. We have been instructed to work from home in order to limit the number of people at work. Well if you cram four to five to ten people per office, the outcome will not be good. Some people have been designated as essential to the national security mission. So for them, work continues. I don’t like to be considered “non essential”!
Yes we will pay in terms of our economy in the short term, but the longer term and many unnecessary lives is not worth it.
The only times we head outside is either out for food, to the grocery store, to walk the dog, or to the stables to feed the horse. Have plenty of supplies in terms of food. Dreary Sunday morning. Ruby is fine.
Spend lots of time reading things on Facebook. Whether it is posts from friends who are similarly locked up inside, or the news spinets that are for or against the President, we all have to pull together to beat this illness.
I find this interesting in a scientific way. Several times a day, I venture to see the updates on the Johns Hopkins website ( https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html ). It saddens me that it is a scoreboard,
much like when I turn to CNBC to catch the daily scoreboard of the stock market. Certainly have taken a hit as far as my retirement accounts, but that will recover over time, just like we will recover over time from this illness.
It’s times like these that make me ponder, make reflect, about what are the best things in my life. Family. My kids. This adventure of mine that will soon surpass 59 years on this planet.
I do not have the illness, not that I have been tested. I find myself checking my temperature several times a day. Wash my hands frequently. Drink lots of fluids. However, those damn seasonal allergies make people look at you if you are in the store and sneeze, cough, blow your nose, or look sullen around the eyes.
Soon, this too shall pass, and our lives will return to some semblance of normalcy. I am sure that the dog would like to have her days of peace and quite.
Don’t forget to fill out your Census 2020 forms. I did. Every ten years we count the number of Americans, well at least we try…Until then. Everyone stay safe, hug your family, and be careful.
Instead of sleeping in this Sunday, I found myself awake at 3 and out of bed before 5. Had this been a normal work day, I’d be up and showered, having my morning coffee, dog fed and planning our morning walk. But it is Sunday. Son is up and having breakfast. Daughter, who was still awake when I went to bed, is still sleeping. Debating about whether to wake her to go feed the horse.
I went to feed the horse by myself and let daughter sleep in. She always comes to the fence to greet me, expecting me to reach into my coat pocket for some cookies. I do and she is happy.
The snow from earlier this week has been melting, and what it leaves behind is a muddy paddock and by the end of the day, an equally muddy horse. She loves to roll on the ground.
The mountains vary from 11,000 to over 14,000 feet, depending on which mountain range tour are interested in. The peaks over 14,000 are part of the fourteeners that lie along the Sangre De Cristo mountains in southern Colorado. According to wikipedia, Colorado has over 50 mountains over fourteen thousand feet. Wheeler Peak, northeast of Taos and north of Los Alamos, is the tallest peak in New Mexico and lies along the Sangre De Cristo Mountains at 13,167 feet. Depending on where you are at the stables, you can see it on a clear day.
As it was a nice but lazy day with the kids, and snow on most of the trails, a hike was out of the question. None of us ski, so that was out as well. This day turned out to be just like any other day. Son played video games; daughter spent the day doing drawing and other things in her room. As for me, a restful afternoon of eating, reading and a movie or two.
While at the stables feeding Ruby, I heard many birds. The loudest were the black birds that can be seen and heard throughout most of the area. I spied these two in a tree along the canyon top behind the stables.
I call them blackbirds, ravens, or crows without really knowing much about the different species of birds. Fortunately I was able to search the internet. The Parajito Environmental Educational Center at the Los Alamos Nature Center (reproduced from https://peecnature.org/bird-of-the-week-the-american-crow/) was able to tell me that the American Crow is easily found all year in Los Alamos County. Because they are closely related to their larger cousin the Common Raven, it can be hard to distinguish Crows from Ravens with only a casual look at one. Crows fly with a steadier wingbeat, while Ravens spend more flying time gliding. If you get a good look at the bird’s beak, you’ll see the Crow’s beak is smaller in relation to its head. If the bird is flying, look at the shape of its tail feathers – Crows’ tails are squarer and Ravens’ are more wedge-shaped. As the pair in the tree did not fly while I was watching them, I could not distinguish the wing shape.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door— Only this and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore— For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore— Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door— Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;— This it is and nothing more.”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, “Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;— Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?” This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”— Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore— Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;— ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door— Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door— Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven, Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore— Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!” Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore; For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door— Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as “Nevermore.”
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered— Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before— On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.” Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, “Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore— Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”
But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore— What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er, But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er, She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor. “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore; Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!” Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!— Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted— On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore— Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!” Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore— Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore— Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.” Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting— “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!” Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted—nevermore!
As a kid, the family would go camping at Poe Valley and Poe Paddy State Parks beck in central Pennsylvania. The parks are named for Big Poe Creek, which runs through the area. There one would also hear the sounds of blackbirds, crows or ravens. Growing up, we were told that Edgar Allen Poe wrote the poem “The Raven” while visiting the area. This is not true by most literary accounts, but nonetheless, makes for an interesting tie between my early life in Pennsylvania to my present life in New Mexico. All of this, based on a bird, Indian tribes, history, and nature…
This folklore is associated with an old inn called the Eutaw House, located in Potters Mills at the intersection of Route 322 and Route 144. The Eutaw House has been in existence for over two centuries. General James Potter, who was notably an aide to George Washington during the American Revolution, originally owned the ground where the building sits today. After Gen. Potter’s death, his children built a log cabin on his property. Later the log cabin would become the Eutaw House and go through a few more renovations. During its early years, the house served as a major inn for early pioneers and travelers. The house was named after the local Eutaw Indian tribe.
As anyone could imagine with the Eutaw House being around for a few centuries, it has gathered some ghost stories through the years. Ghostly shapes have been seen in mirrors throughout the building. In the kitchen and restaurant, trays and plates have been known to flip over or fall off tables. Patrons and employees have seen apparitions and shadows move in the hallways and rooms. One story tells of a prisoner being shot or hung in the attic during the 1800s and a different story says that it was a tree at the corner of the property. During one of the early Indian raids on the Eutaw house, one Indian is said to have been hung on the large old tree. Hearing a rope “thud” or creaking noise has been reported near the tree to this day.
Even with all the ghostly happenings at the Eutaw House, its most interesting story is the speculation that Edgar Allen Poe had once stayed the night at the Inn. Some early folklorists have written that Edgar Allen Poe had once visited the Centre County area and was even inspired to write a few stories such as the Raven during his travels through Central Pennsylvania. The only evidence that leads some credibility is the initial “EAP” that are carved into one of the oldest tables in the Eutaw House. Historians today doubt the legend of Poe’s journey to Centre County, but it makes for a good story nonetheless. ( reproduced from http://discoverypa.blogspot.com/2015/10/edgar-allen-poes-visit-to-central.html)
Well that is enough for today. Hope you enjoy the stories and how a simple thought can span decades, through nature, and have ties into history.
Yesterday I managed to leave work early and stop to pick up my new glasses. I have been without glasses for close to two weeks now. The trouble with my glasses started several months ago when Jewel somehow got my pair off the table one morning before I left for work and completely destroyed them. Plastic lenses and plastic frames were chewed into pieces. So I had to put my back up pair into service and the arranged to get a new fitting. My back up pair was my prescription from about 6 years ago. It had been several years since I was last at the eye doctor, and so it was long overdue.
Well that lasted about a week when Jewel somehow got this pair of glasses and managed to chew the frame. Scotch tape to the rescue. Yes I was really the geeky nerd and endured this for several months. Between travel and other distractions, it took me months to finally get an appointment to get an eye examination and new glasses. Unfortunately, I also made the appointment for son, who was also have vision trouble at school. Yet here it was in the middle of summer before he finally admitted to having problems.
Driving was ok because I had my prescription sunglasses to wear. Didn’t work too well at night but that was manageable. By then the scotch tape was too much. Lost the screws that held the frame together and had to resort to crazy glue. That too wasn’t enough. Supper nerd needed to see the eye doctor.
Yesterday I managed to get my new glasses. Skipped the bifocals this time. I really just need them for distance because I have become accustomed to read or work on the computer without wearing them.
I guess Jewel likes them too. Now I put them in a place where she cannot reach them.
We found ourselves inside on a Friday night. Watched some tv, which was more enjoyable with the new glasses. Didn’t really do much of anything. I didn’t even cook myself a delicious meal. Maybe Saturday. It was quiet. I could have sat down and read my book but even that didn’t excite me. Clearly this weekend was going to be very different compared to last weekend. For me, I was back to normal.
Today I find myself without the kids. It is just me and the dog. This Saturday morning started out well. I got up early and managed to get to the stable around 7 am. Stopped at Morning Glory Bakery for large coffee and two glazed doughnuts. Would have probably gotten a burrito but they were busy and they didn’t have my favorite: sausage green with cheese. Cold have gone elsewhere for a burrito but the doughnuts will be enough to keep me moving. Not to feed the horse. Rather, my task was to cut the grass and weeds around the stable.
Aside from that I needed to do some clean up around the stables because next weekend will be our first hay delivery for the year. For cutting the weeds, the old manual push mower just wasn’t working out. Tried sharpening the blade multiple times. Managed to cover the same path multiple times trying to cut the grass and weeds. While it was exercise, and I would cover a few thousand steps, it was never without difficulty. I needed power.
I bought a new mower to accomplish the task. I may have destroyed a new mower while mowing. At one point, I was mowing and must have hit metal. It immediately stopped. Looked underneath the mower to see wire wrapped around the blade and half of the blade bent. Removed the wire and resumed mowing. But it was now struggling to cut the weeds. After much starting and stopping, I somehow managed to stop and again, catch wire in the blade. This time I was mowing the back of the lot. After I managed to remove the wrapped metal wire, I figured that it was time to call it a day. Packed up and went home.
Of course, I had Jewel with me the entire time. I had her tied up at the front of the stable while I was cutting grass in the back. She had water, but it was hot and the day was warming up. By 10 am, we called it quits.
The morning sky started to show some nice white puffy clouds over the mountains as we drove home. By the time I got the car unloaded, it was lunch time and I was certainly hot and tired from mowing. Clean up may just have to wait another day!
Goofed around the house in the afternoon and ran some errands. By mid afternoon, it rained and cooled things off outside.
Much of what I do happens to be mundane anymore. Normal everyday things become more and more mundane. Is it because I am getting older? Is it because I am so set in my ways that I avoid going out, trying new things. Lots to do this weekend but can’t say that it really excited me. I really am becoming more and more of an old fuddy-duddy. I need to change that. That is one of the reasons why I started this blog. Try to read more and share more, learn and seek new ideas, stimulating conversation, meet new people who write some really great things. I don’t see myself as a writer, but I have been enjoying putting things down here for all to see. In the past I have written lots of scientific papers for publishing, two dissertations, and many papers in college for various classes. Writing has long been a struggle for me, yet I see how very important it is to communicate clearly, to express ourselves. Sometime the words just come out; other times I have nothing. I try to impress this upon my kids.
Often what I write starts out completely different than the final product. I need to work on spell checking and proofing the final words before I publish. Hopefully that will improve my style, my word choice, allow me to better articulate what I write and what I post.
Today marks the first day of summer. Started humming the Brian Adams tune “Summer of 69”, which I recall was big during the summer of 1983. I was back in Pennsylvania. I had graduated from college and was getting ready for graduate school. I recall that was a hot summer for some reason. And here in New Mexico, today is hot (mid-80’s) and windy. Low humidity, and blue sky. Yes, I was able to get back about midnight after the travel day from hell.
It was good that I was able to get home because I had lots of things to do. I had to feed the horse first thing in the morning, go to work on my day off to deal with some pressing things, pick up the dog from the kennel, take daughter riding and pick up son from nature camp. Horse and dog are fine, children are well, and I didn’t get sucked in on my day off.
Summertime usually coincides with the kickoff of the afternoon monsoon season. Monsoon season has been on again, off again over the past two decades. Monsoon season is usually when the rain clouds form above the mountains to the west during the day. By the afternoon, we have a thunderstorm with rain. They typically hit every afternoon and last about a half an hour at most. But the thunder and lightening can be quite impressive. They add their own unique set of colors to the New Mexico sky, which is a palette containing a variety of colors. The skies are often light blue or dark blue. They are some of the deepest blues that I have ever seen. And of course, the white puffy clouds. Often with the monsoons are large and very colorful rainbows. Sadly, I have yet to find a pot of gold. Another sky anomaly, depending upon the sunlight, the angle in the sky, and other weather conditions are the variety of other colors present in the sky: yellow, orange, red, and pink. These colors are often present at sunrise and sunset.
We have a quiet weekend planned. Daughter plans to work at Goose Downs. Son has nothing on the horizon but we have some work to do at the stables in terms of cutting weeds and getting the barn ready for the first delivery of hay shortly. Aside from housecleaning, perhaps I can read some more of my book.
Quiet is good. I never sleep well on travel, so I often return very tired and need the weekend to recover. Plans for July and August are starting to take shape. Two horse competitions; one in July and one in August. My 40th high school reunion is in a July. Still trying to decide if I will make it back. Sounds like a few folks that I haven’t seen in 40 years may be there. July is pretty busy already, making a long weekend trip back east difficult, but we shall see.
If you spend time with horses, you eventually get introduced to the United States Pony Club. They aim to teach young and old riders the proper rules for taking care of a horse, as well as riding and eventing.
In preparation for my daughter’s next event, she has a mounted pony club meeting today. The have regional and location-specific clubs throughout the country. My daughter rides as a member of the Santa Fe Pony Club, which is one of the clubs in the Southwest Region.
So I dutifully took her to the place where they ride, which is south of Santa Fe. Santa Fe has several places in the area that offer riding and host events, including polo. Just past Lamy, on the way to Galisteo is Goose Downs Farm. This is the place where my daughter rides and trains often.
They offer training for dressage, show jumping and cross country for all ages. Indoor and outdoor. As you know, the weather in New Mexico is nice for most of the year. Today was sunny and low 70’s. I just love the blue sky. You can rent a horse or bring your own. Today my daughter road Wyatt, which is not her horse. We will transport Ruby down later in the week. I like to tell Ruby that she is going to the spa for the week.
Sadly, she was ill prepared for the mounted lesson today because she forgot her equipment, but practiced the dressage course for her ranking in preparation for next week.
Goose Downs has a riding event coming up next weekend (http://www.goosedownsfarm.com). You can board your horse there for a fee, and they even have a bunkhouse where you can stay if your coming from afar.
So while she practiced today, I helped groom the place in preparation for the dressage events this weekend. Thus I managed to get several miles in while pushing the mower.
That phrase is on the front cover of the latest LEGO catalogue that arrived today. The summer 2019 catalogue has creations associated with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. When I was growing up, I followed the space program before the landing. I was 8 at the time. I remember watching Walter Cronkite cover the liftoff, the landing, the first walk on the moon and the landing back here on earth. I had everything. A space suit, telescope, we would fly model rockets. I would write NASA every month for free photos and books, anythink about space. It would have been cool to be an astronaut.
So in the summer catalogue from LEGO they have listed as a “hard to find” item, the Saturn V rocket. It’s over 39 inches tall. I remember growing up my plastic model rockets of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. They had to be assembled by hand, and help from mom and dad. They were taller than 39 inches, but they also required glue and paint. Less pieces than these LEGO kits. At 1,969 pieces, it would take my son and I an afternoon to build this LEGO kit. New in the catalogue is the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander. I can remember that when you filled up your car with gas at the Gulf stations at that time, you could get a cardboard cut out kit of the Lunar Lander. It was cool. It was fun. You learned and you had pride in your country.
After that, the catalogue then gets into 20th anniversary Star Wars sets. We have many Star Wars sets here at the house, but not all of them. Over the years, I think I have spent thousands on LEGO sets for the kids. Horses for daughter and Minecraft for son, Ningago sets and LEGO movie sets, LEGO City sets, the space shuttle, trucks, Bionicles, and on and on and on. By page 8 of the catalogue, you have the “hard to find” Death Star and equally impressive Millennium Falcon. It took us about 3 days to build the Death Star over the Christmas break; the Ewok Village was about a week. It was fun. At 7,541 pieces, the Millenium Falcon will take several days to build. It’s labeled as the largest LEGO set ever. We have yet to build it but will get to it some day. But then I noticed, I have a different Millenium Falcon kit and it only has 1329 pieces. Just as fun to build I’m sure, but there are obvious differences.
Of course, my son talked about learning chess at one time, so I was able to find him a LEGO Pirates chess set. As you can see, it is still in an unopened box. Got it on eBay. I don’t think they even make them anymore. And as I flip through the new catalogue, I see that we have new adventures courtesy of Toy Story 4. Cannot wait till we can build Forky!
Oh to be young again. In this case, I get to explore it with my kids all over again. And yes, the dog is so excited!
When the kids were younger, we would often go to the local stables and slowly drive the roads and look at the animals. Chickens, goats, a couple of cows, a llama and some turkeys. The main residents at the stables are horses. All different sizes and colors. A coworker of mine had a stable and several horses and on one of our trips, he and his wife were there. We stopped. Big mistake. Shortly thereafter, daughter was sitting on the back of a horse. A big grin across her face, she was immediately hooked. At that time she was three.
Eleven years have passed, as has several loaner horses, two rented horses, the local US Pony Club horse. Today she has a horse, a stable, and rides regularly and in competitions. Her horse is named Ruby, and she has become another family pet, much like the dog.
Here she is, greeting us for her evening feeding. She gets fed twice a day, and depending upon daughter, ridden every day. Daily practices are often in preparation for dressage, show jumping and cross country. My daughter competes in all three at the beginner novice level.
She enjoys it. It keeps her and her friends out of trouble. Yet, when I see her with Ruby, she still has that big grin across her face.