Happy 4th!

I must apologize for my horrendous lack of posts lately. I've just not felt the creative juices flowing! Tres horrible, non?

Anyway, what have I been doing with myself since my lovely and eventful birthday? Well, I've been riding Opie every day, and he's still doing really well. Yesterday a coyote ran out of the forest ten feet in front of him, and he was completely unfazed. Amazing! He was a little less excited about the fireworks though. Those were scary!

This is my view from the saddle

Here's Opie again, this time acting as a lawn mower for the front yard

A few days ago, the basement-Indian neighbors came over for lunch, and I served up a giant pan of Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, Refried Beans (with Green Chile Mixed In), and HOME-MADE!!!! Spanish Rice (with a little Green Chile added to the recipe). Yummy! I was really impressed with the rice recipe that I made. It was fantastic! I can't wait to make it again! I also made a spice cake with cream cheese icing. Yum. In case you're wondering, No, I did not add any Green Chile to it, but hey, when you're this close to New Mexico, Green Chiles are everywhere, so I might as well use them while I've got them!

Today, being the Fourth of July, we will be going to the Annual 4th of July Crafts Fair, which I'm excrutiatingly excited about. Either, the crafts will be absolutely atrocious and lovable by only the most tasteless (or literally blind) craft fair patron, or they will be exquisite works of folk art painstakingly made by wonderfully quirky individuals. Either way, it will be fantastic, and there will be many pictures for your enjoyment in a future post.

My allergies are killing me, and I'm currently sniffling away. I'm debating whether or not to take a Benadryl before we leave... My only fear is that the Benadryl will alleviate not only my allergy symptoms, but also my common sense, and that I will return to the house with a horrifying "craft" that I just had to have while I was in my Benadryl coma... Decisions, decisions...

On Monday, I went fishing with one of the neighbors, and managed to haul in a hefty Salmon! I was so impressed with myself! I only got a little bit sunburned, and the fish is in the freezer.

I talked to Greg the other day, and he was surprised to learn that it takes 45 minutes to drive to "Town," and that the population of said town is only about 18,000 (not including tourists, of course). Like I said, he was shocked. Just to prove that I am, in fact, in the Middle-of-Nowhere, CO, here are some pictures I took while driving down the county road to the house.

Yes, those are sheep walking down the road...

This is the country version of a road block

Hundreds and Hundreds of Sheep!!!

We experimented with the waffle maker the other day, and I must say, I was rather impressed with our results.

Here's an action shot of Grandad and the Waffle Maker

My Grandad, being the quintessential Southerner that he is, prefers Sorghum Molasses over regular old Mrs. Butterworth's Syrup. Everyone knows that Molasses runs as slow as, well, molasses, so he had to heat it up before he could use it. Through my sleep-fog-of-the-brain I realized that there was something strange about his heating method...

Yep, the handles on that pot are upside down. Yes, it is a lid. He put the molasses in a pot lid full of water. Amazing. He could teach those Iron Chef guys a thing or two.

Well, that's all for now folks. We're about to head to the Craft Fair Extravaganza! Get Excited! Love y'all!


What a Day!!

I can't believe I'm saying this, but my Grandad partied until 10:30 at night! What were we doing, you ask? Well, let's just say that my lust for "Western Music" (not by any means Country or Bluegrass) has been thoroughly sated. We went, with several mature married couples who were great fans of the Bar D Chuckwagon Supper.

We arrived just in time to have a seat on a gigantic picnic table among a crowd of 650-ish tourists, and, I hate to say it, old(er) people. It just so happened that a group of about 60 Sun City residents were sitting directly in front of us. The tables were situated in long rows in a gigantic old barn that amazingly enough had a retractable roof, so that in case of rain, we could all stay warm and dry. Fancy Shmancy.

We were directed by various 10-gallon hat wearing cowboy-looking people (who later turned out to be the band) into long lines to get our food. After picking up a tin (yes, tin) plate and shoving some silverware in my pocket, I was given a baked potato, beans, a hefty slice of BBQ brisket, a roll, some cake, and, weirdly enough, applesauce. With two individually wrapped butters and a tin cup full of lemonade, I was off to the picnic table once again.

While eating dinner, I was harangued by the man beside me about the fact that there was no money in Counseling, a fact that was particularly close to home for him because his son was a counselor. The fact that his son loved his job did not seem to matter to this man who had more money than he possibly knew what to do with. I told him that I would rather be happy and live frugally than be miserable and rich, which effectively ended his argument. Point for me!

After we had finished eating, we delivered our plates to the flashing blue police light in the back corner of the barn. I don't know who thought the police light was appropriate, but hey, it's a "Chuckwagon Supper," apparently anything goes!

Soon after the plates were cleared, the Bar D Wranglers took to the stage, guitars and fiddles in hand. After a rousing selection of old-school Western songs about breaking horses and missing their dew-eyed Clementines, they gave the stage over to the Riders in the Sky, self-titled "America's Favourite Cowboys" (I added the 'u' in Favourite myself because it makes me feel more trans-Atlantic).

I can not wait to show you all pictures of these quirky 'cowboys.' Each of them was wearing a retro pearl-snap complete with as much embroidery, fringe, and even sequins that they could manage. One of them was wearing sheep skin chaps (wool still attached on the outside), which they joked had resulted from a tragic Rogaine accident. This same mis-user of Rogaine was wearing a green necktie with arms that he called his "Cactie." Oh My Goodness...

Their music really was fantastic, as far as Western goes. Lots of yodeling. The occasional accordion solo. And, of course, the very necessary impersonation of Billy Ray Cyrus. I do hope that you all look these guys up, because they are definitely worth a look and a listen.

It was a lovely (and memorable) way to spend an evening, especially one as special as my B-day.

As far as the rest of the day goes, we drove to town, and had an amazingly silent lunch at Francisco's Resturante y Cantina. This place was a real gem and had specials like "Beef liver and onions," "Chicken fried steak and gravy," "Turkey sandwich on sourdough," "Salad greens with chilled shrimp." Only one of the MANY specials was even remotely mexican. Very strange. Toto, we're not in Texas anymore...

For those of you who want updates on all of the creatures that are under my care, the birds are doing wonderully. Munching away at sunflower seeds. The hummingbirds are very entertaining and sound like chipmunks that have sucked helium. The raccoons still come by every evening, and a couple even came a few mornings ago. They got to drink the milk from my cereal. Yummy!

I've been riding Opie every day since the neighbors said I could. It's pretty fun to ride around up here, up and down the roads and through the mountain meadows. They asked me to do a little fine tuning with his training, specifically around water, so I've been taking him through a lot of streams and ponds. The second day we walked up to one tiny stream that was maybe a foot and a half wide. He stopped, looked at the water, and, out of nowhere, took a flying leap over the stream. If the stream had been a three foot tall log, he would have cleared it. I cracked up! It was ridiculous! Needless to say, we have since crossed that stream a dozen times, and each time his leaps get a little bit smaller. I can just imagine some poor crusty old rancher riding him as he took his flying leap over the water. Oh my.

We've done more work on the barbed-wire cattle fence. Great fun. My arms look like I tried to steal food from my raccoons because of all of the prickly brambles and barbs on the side of the mountain.

Tomorrow I get to look forward to a birthday lunch with the basement-dwelling-Indian neighbors. I'm excited, and determined to take a few pictures of the Chief and Sitting Bull, not to mention Custer, while I'm there.

Don't worry, I'll keep you posted!


Flowers and Barbed Wire (Sounds like some kind of Country song...)

So the last few days, Grandad and I have been working on some cattle fencing. The top of the mountain they live on is basically one giant cattle lease. The cattle show up on Sunday, so we've been frantically fixing the fence so that it will be finished by the time they get here, that way the cows won't eat our flower garden!

I must say that I have become a pro at the Wire Stretcher, and can fasten barbed wire to a T-post quicker than a chipmunk can eat a dandelion. I only have one scratch to show for it too. The "trail" that runs up and down the fence line is at times quite terrifying. I'm sure the ATV (four-wheeler) manufacturers would cover their eyes if they could see us riding up and down these ridiculously steep hills and valleys.

Of course, it's all in the middle of the San Juan National Forest, so there are signs of wildlife everywhere. I found bear tracks at one point, and after that I was on the lookout constantly. Every big black shape was a bear, not a rock or fallen log. These are things one just doesn't have to worry about in Texas, you see.

Speaking of the wilderness and things you don't see in Texas, the other day, while we were driving up the road towards the house, I happened to glance over into the shade of a few pines. Growing straight out of the pine needles were these strange red stalks that vaguely resembled the spike of a bluebonnet. They didn't have any leaves, and Grandad was just as perplexed as I was. I proceeded to spend about an hour sifting through the WWW to see if I could find out anything about them.

I thought they were some kind of mushroom or fungi because they didn't have any leaves, and boy, was I surprised when I found out what it was!

It's common name is Spotted Coralroot. It is an orchid native to Colorado that has brilliantly made friends with mycorrhizal
fungi, so that they don't need any leaves. Isn't that absolutely fascinating!!!!????!!! Wow.

These pictures are from my phone, and I took much better ones with my camera, but haven't been able to upload them to my computer yet. If you look closely, you can see the little tiny orchid flowers! So neat!

After a long hard day of fence work, we decided that we should reward ourselves with a hot dog cookout, and I leave you with this picture of our awesome fire and hot dog cooking method. Yummy!

Wonder of Wonders! Miracle of Miracles!

So, the most amazing thing happened! What is it, you ask? Some of the neighbors down at the bottom of the road are cattle ranchers from outside of Durango. Quite naturally, they have a plethora of horses. After a conversation between one of said neighbors and my brilliant grandfather, they offered to leave a horse up here (it's kind of like their vacation home) so that I could ride it! How awesome is that? I have to feed him twice a day, but I can ride whenever I want. Some of the other neighbors have agreed to let me ride on their land, and there are trails all over the place! Yay!

The horse's name is Opie. He's a 3-yr old bay Quarter Horse. I rode for more than an hour this afternoon, and he was great! Since he's so young, he's still getting used to seeing weird things and not freaking out, so my job is just to get him used to life. It's a pretty sweet job!

Here's a picture of him. I'll get some better ones soon!

On a completely different note, a few days ago, while we were in town, my grandad and I purchased Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in the pre-packaged refrigerated roll. Because it is delicious and wonderful, I proceeded to eat a big ol' slice of cookie dough a few days ago. Last night I baked all of the cookies so that we could take them with us to the Homeowner's Association Dinner. Great idea, right? People love cookies!

This morning, while watching the news, come to find out, Nestle Tollhouse cookie doughs are being recalled like some kind of automobile part that could burst into flames at any second consuming the passengers in some sort of horrifying ball of fire. What are the odds? Apparently, said cookie dough "MAY" be contaminated with E. coli!!!! OH MY GOSH!!! Luckily, if ours had been contaminated, I would probably have already been retching on the floor. Since I am not, I can only assume that we are safe from the Bacterial Menace.

Now the question becomes, "What do I bring to the HA Dinner?" I mean, you can't just bring cookies that are obviously not home-made, because then anyone who watches the news will say, "These aren't Tollhouse are they?" And I would have to say "Why yes, they are, and at any minute you could drop dead from E. coli poisoning." Not a very good way to make friends with the neighbors. Luckily for me, I compulsively buy cornbread mix, and had two Marie Callendar's cornbread mixes. I now have a tray of yummy cornbread muffins. Some are normal size and some are teeny tiny, like the one's from Jason's Deli. Perfect.

The couple with the creepy-basement-Indians has invited me over for lunch for my birthday (on Tuesday), and I got stuff to make a delicious cake!!! I'm so excited! But, since I'm so far away from all of my people in Texas, I'm just going to have to celebrate my birthday again when I get back to Texas. Darn.

I'm sure that there are many of you who are waiting for me to update you on all of my racoony adventures. Well, 4 more have joined the bunch, so that I've now adopted a total of 6. They are all on a very precise schedule. One comes by at 5, exactly. Then another about 6:30. Then the pack of four come together at 7:30. They're hysterical!

Here's a picture of five of them chowing down together.


Lovely Neighbors

A few days ago, one of the neighbors invited us over for lunch. Naturally, I was excited, because this meant that there was one less lunch that I had to cook (but seeing as how I've become a professional potato baker, lunch's aren't too hard). The last time I had visited this couple's home, I was introduced to "The Chief."

The Chief is a life-sized papier-mache Indian dressed in Wranglers, boots, a pearl-snap and leather vest. He resides in the basement of this couple's home, sitting in a chair in the corner. Apparently the male half of the couple saw one in a general store and wanted one. Luckily for him, Ebay exists, and he was able to get one over the internet. After a while, he felt like The Chief was getting lonely, and lo and behold, he was able to get his hands on the original Indian he had seen in the general store! O, joy! Tragically, that Indian's head had been a little damaged (it was in 30 pieces), and he was missing a few of his fingers. After a quick white lie to the Ebay lady about grandchildren scuffling with the original Indian, he was able to purchase a new head and hands for the poor mistreated Indian.

Now both Indians, The Chief and Sitting Bull, sit proudly side by side in the corner of the basement, both with their long braids and beaded headbands. Today I was lucky enough to see them in person, and on my way down the basement stairs, I was told to "Check out Custer in the other corner." Not only does this man have two creepily human looking life-sized papier-mache Native Americans, he also has a disembodied head clenched in the jaws of a resin replica of the skull of a European Cave Bear, that is (Thank the Lord) now extinct. This head is supposed to represent the illustrious General George Armstrong Custer who, with his tiny army, was massacred by the Indians in the famed Battle of Little Bighorn. For realism's sake, the top of the head has been painted red to signify Custer's scalping.


On a cheerier note, this same couple also has a heart for the small furry things in life, and have trained their neighboring chipmunks and ground squirrels to sit in their laps while they feed them peanuts. Today, as I sat on the porch with my legs crossed, a little chipmunk with huge puffy cheeks leapt onto my Chaco-clad foot and proceeded to climb up my let and perch on my knee while he took a peanut right out of my hand. So cute!

Speaking of feeding furry critters. I have now adopted two raccoons. Their names are Scruffy and Fluffy. That's how you tell them apart, you see. One has a fluffy tail, and the other (you guessed it) has a scruffy tail that's kinda bent at the end. Poor ol' girl! Every evening, they come to one of the glass doors on the porch and peer in with their little hands on the glass. They have me so well trained that as soon as I see them, I hop up and grab some dog food for them. I dump the dog food over the railing and they scurry down the stairs to eat it. Yesterday Fluffy sat right down as he chowed down. I thought it was so cute that I had to get my camera, but I was so flustered that I accidentally dropped the plastic scoop on top of him. Needless to say, he didn't sit down again for a while. Here are some pictures!!!

Here's Scruffy at the door waiting for her vittles

This is Fluffy sitting down to a nice meal of Old Roy dog food

Tomorrow is our day to go to town (Durango), and we've come up with quite a hefty grocery list. The other day I was looking for Olive Oil (a household staple), and instead of finding any olive oil, I found 7 (yes, 7!) bottles of Balsamic Vinegar. What does one do with 7 bottles of balsamic vinegar???? I have no idea. I must talk to my grandmother about this one.

In a couple of days we're going to take the ATV's up the mountain to repair some cattle fences, then cut down some dead trees for firewood and maybe lumber. Nothing like a girl with a chainsaw, I always say.

Anyway. That's all for now folks!



When describing an acquaintance my grandad just used the phrase, "His biscuits didn't quite get done." I'm going to have to remember that and use it again later. Lovely.

It's a First for Me

So, I just spent a lovely lazy hour bird-watching on the porch with my Grandad. I have never bird-watched before, and I have to say that it was quite enjoyable. While we watched we chatted about the different habits of the birds we saw, and what the ate, and where they nested. We saw a fly-catcher, a few robins, some grosbeaks, and a tiny little hummingbird. The robin has decided to make a nest under the eaves of the porch, and she was very upset that we were sitting out there near her eggs. Here are some pictures for your personal enjoyment! (No, I didn't take these. I just wanted you all to be able to share in my bird-watching adventure!)

A lovely picture of an Evening Grosbeak from http://wildbirdsunlimited.typepad.com/the_zen_birdfeeder/2008/05/wild-birds-unli.html

Here's a pretty robin from: http://michelle2005.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/she-is-stilljust-jenny/

And one more of a cute little flycatcher. One of these has built a nest on the other side of the porch. This one is from: http://www.bigcountryaudubon.org/2007/09/?cat=6

Another interesting addition to he evening was the guzzling of Dr. Pepper with peanuts floating in it. This is, apparently, one of my grandad's favorite beverages. You take a swig of DP then crunch all the peanuts. Weird, I must admit, but not altogether unpleasant. I wonder where this tradition started...