Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rain and Taxes - No Stopping Either

This week I'm getting ready for the first show of the season.  And our Taxes.

One guess which one I'm enjoying more....

However, on the Taxes topic -

We're going to a CPA for the first time ever.  A CPA who specializes in Equestrian businesses.  More on this later.

On the Horse Show topic -

The rain started in earnest today and I'm not yet fully packed for the show.  It's a big relief to have the saddle and other horse items packed in Todd's trailer but for my personal items there are quite a few items still unchecked on my handy-dandy checklist.  But the camper is on the truck and mostly ready to go, so that's good.  I need to check that I have enough propane in the tanks to last me 4 days and I have to fill the water tank.  The "other" holding tanks are empty, so that's good.  I've got to go grocery shopping, too.

Hmmm...hope I get it all done in time.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pack and Ride

It wasn't a long ride, but I DID get to ride today.

I left the house about 7:30 this morning with the intention of getting to the ranch early which would leave enough time to get the horses out and ride if the weather held, and go through the trailer and pack it up for the show.

All didn't go according to schedule, but we did accomplish what we set out to do.

The drive (both ways) was uneventful, with no rain at all until I got to San Juan Bautista which is only 5 miles from the ranch.  Wouldn't you know it.  But by the time I pulled in to the ranch the rain had stopped.  Sharon arrived 1 minute after I got out of the car.  We looked around and the place was deserted.  No truck, no cars, no trailer.   Hmmmmm.  Wonder where everyone was?

We decided to pull our boys out of their stalls and give them a good brushing and see what was what when we were done.  Last weekend we hadn't even taken them out, so it was extra nice to spend that time with them.  I love grooming, and I'm sure Blu enjoys it too.  Who wouldn't like getting their hair brushed and an all over body rub?!  (Writing that makes me want to schedule a massage.....)

When we were done grooming there still wasn't anyone around so we put the boys on the hot walker and went to check out the arena.  We took about 5 steps into the arena and squished.  Yikes.  If WE were sinking in, imagine what the horses would do to the footing!?!  The upper arena fencing was down (in preparation for cattle) so that, too, was out.  Drat.  But we made the best of it.  Sharon and I pulled up a couple chairs and sat watching the horses on the hot walker while we chatted and made plans for the shows.  Very nice.  Very relaxing.

After a bit we heard the dogs barking and looked up to see Todd's truck and trailer coming down the driveway.  Yay!

The weather still looked very unsettled so we left the horses on the hot walker for a bit longer.  We got to work straightening out the trailer in preparation for the show.  That meant we pulled everything out of the tack area, sorted it all, cleaned what we could, then re-packed.  It looked very neat and tidy when we were finished.  We talked about taking a picture because we knew it wouldn't look that way for long.  But we just laughed instead.

We chatted with Todd for a bit and decided that even though the arenas were unavailable we could still get on and cruise around on the driveway.  So we did!

I (just happened to have my phone in my pocket) snapped a photo of Sharon and Nazz.

At the very end of the driveway on the right side is Snickers the Llama (I don't think he's in the picture though).  Snickers likes to run up and down the paddock fence, and if you've never seen a Llama run, let's just say they look "odd" and catch your eye. So it wasn't a surprise that both Blu and Nazz checked him out when they first saw him.  But they quickly got used to him.

We walked, jogged and loped up and down the driveway a bunch of times.  It's good to do different things so the horses aren't expecting the "same old/same old" every time they get saddled.  And it's good for us, too.  It was actually pretty cool and I even had another "ah ha" moment when Todd suggested that I listen for Blu dragging his hooves and use that as a trigger to know when I needed to work on collection.  It brought to mind the times I'd watched Blu drag his hooves in the arena and stir up lots of dust.  It didn't click then that if he was dragging his hooves then he wasn't as collected as he should be.

Now it did click!

Blu watching Nazz down the driveway

With a short but sweet ride under our belts, and the trailer packed for the Santa Rosa show, Sharon and I were ready to hit the road.

The drive home was beautiful - windows down enjoying the fresh air (though it was 60 degrees)

Next up - The Golden Gate Arabian Show in Santa Rosa.  Laura and I will be the only clients there - three horses: Echo, Sebastian and my boy Blu.  It's supposed to rain all week.  Let's hope the weather forecasters are wrong and its clear Thursday through Sunday!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Weekend Started Off with a Swish

It’s been years and years since I’ve been to a basketball game.  We used to go to a Warrior game once a year for a couple years because a co-worker at Genentech had seats in the third row behind the basket.  That was fun.  When we were in our seats the players were taller than we were.  That really put you into the game.  Once we moved to Roseville we went to a few King’s games, but not very many.

Last week we got a call from our friends Ron and Christine asking if we wanted to go to a King’s game on Friday.  Ken said “Sure.”  And while it may not be my favorite pastime it was an entertaining evening.

We started with dinner at BJ’s near Arco Arena (I know the name was changed, but just as Candlestick Park will always be Candlestick, Arco will always be Arco) and Ken got a “Denise” parking spot – first spot by the door – which was great because it was pouring rain.   Dinner was delish – Christine and I both had the Pot Roast Sandwich (open-faced).  Yum.
This guy scored a lot of points

I’m not a basketball fan, I don’t know the rules, I don’t know the players, but the game was fun, especially since the King’s won (they played the Boston Celtics) – by a large margin: 120-95.  Watching the Celtics fans walking out the door in the 4th period made the Kings fans happy, I’m sure.

The Celtics put in all their "scrubs" in the fourth period 

The rest of the weekend was supposed to include riding Blu but the rain interfered with that.  Luckily for Blu (!) it didn’t rain in Aromas all week so Todd was able to work him every day.  But Friday night it started raining there and didn’t stop (for more than an hour) until mid day Sunday when we left.  We still had fun, of course!  (I know – what a surprise) 
This is how Blu spent his weekend  

Nazz, too  

Ken and Bill both came down, too.  We spent Saturday in the house having fun and preparing dinner.  Sharon found a great recipe for corned beef and cabbage (seeing as it was St Patrick’s Day) that used Guinness.  And let me tell you, it was amazing!  I wish the leftovers were at MY house! 

We made a few forays out to the barn to visit with Blu and Nazz but we never were able to get out and ride.  I’d be bummed but we had such a great time it’s hard to regret anything.

The view at Mission Ranch - see the sheep?

Sunday was Todd’s birthday and we celebrated by taking him out to brunch at Mission Ranch in Carmel  – a beautiful view and absolutely delicious food.  If you’re ever in Carmel and want a place to go for brunch – be sure to stop there.  They open at 10am and I’d advise getting there early.  We got there at 9:40 and waited at the door for them to open.  People were lining up behind us.  Luckily they opened the door right as the rain started and everyone squeezed into the lobby area (it’s really tiny) to get out of the rain.  We were seated in the “back” room – where there is a beautiful stone fireplace and windows overlooking the grassland where there were sheep grazing.  They also have patio seating but since it was raining they weren’t using it.  The food was all beautifully displayed in the “front” room.  There was something for everyone:  Omelet Station, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Potatoes, Prime Rib, Salmon, Beef Ribs, many Salads and an amazing Dessert table.  Oh, and Mimosas!
Do we look hungry? 

We spent an enjoyable couple hours over brunch with great company and then headed back to the ranch.  As we were getting out of the car it started to rain again, nixing the idea of getting in a ride, so Ken and I packed up the camper and hit the road for home.  

It was extremely windy - crossing over the Benicia bridge was NOT fun for Ken who was driving - I'd opened the window to take this picture and we both thought the truck and camper would be blown over!  (and the picture isn't even exciting - just the Mothball Fleet)

With all the rain this weekend I guess you could say the weekend ended with a splash.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Training in Scottsdale

This weekend I was in Scottsdale.  And it wasn't for the Arabian Horse Show, nope.  It was for a Giants Spring Training game!  You see, it's baseball season.  Well, almost.

This was my second trip to Arizona for Spring Training.  My first trip was in 2008 - though that one was a longer trip with more ballgames.  Ken went once before that, too.  But this trip was a short one - one game.  We took a half day at work on Friday and drove out to the airport for a 3pm flight to Phoenix.  We got to the airport early so we did what many would do....

We enjoyed a Bloody Mary and a Guinness...

The flight down was uneventful with some beautiful views.  I snapped a couple pictures when I realized I could see Half Dome.

Just over the engine that's Half Dome

Here's a closeup

Greg and Yolanda picked us up in the South Arrivals area (Greg had many years experience driving around Phoenix Airport - Yolanda flew out of PHX while they lived in Arizona - so he knew exactly where to send us for the easiest pickup.)  It got a bit surreal then however, because while we were leaving the Arrivals area we noticed a lot of police cars.  And I mean 15+ cars - with whole sections of the roads blocked off and cops milling around everywhere.  We were looking around trying to see what was going on (Greg was being a good driver and not rubber-necking while the rest of us craned our necks) when we spotted the body (mostly covered by a blue tarp) in the middle of the road.  We found out later that it was a suicide - jumped from an upper floor.  Sigh.

But on a happier note we had no issues getting to the hotel and we met Mom and Dad there and the six of us went to dinner at the Italian restaurant next door.  I wish I could remember the name of the place so I could warn people away.  But it's one less thing to clutter my memory.  Suffice it to say the service was awful and the food mediocre, at best.  But the company was great!

Saturday we managed to fit in a visit to Sheplers - a very large Western Wear store in Phoenix (Mesa technically). 

Dad's on his way to the Men's section

I'd never heard of it before, though when I Googled it I found out there is one in Reno.....guess I know where I'm going in July!  Greg and Yolanda passed on the shopping opportunity but Mom, Dad, Ken and I spent about an hour there.  (And yep - I was still able to fit all my purchases in the same single carry-on suitcase we came down with.)

From Sheplers we drove over to Greg and Yolanda's hotel.  Greg had brought a six pack of VB back from Australia so of course a few had to be enjoyed before we walked over to the ballpark....

Like my Bundy (Rum) it is something we have only gotten when someone is kind enough to bring it in their luggage.  Greg and Yolanda were kind enough - we each got our favorite Australian beverage this trip!

When we got to the stadium we had to take this photo op.

The Giants were playing the Milwaukee Brewers and we missed Posey's start by one day.  But we still were able to see a great game.  (My favorite kind - high scoring with the Giants winning!)

Zito pitching - check out that arm flex...

In the 5th Inning Ken and I walked over to see Jeff and Marcia and Christopher but we missed Jeff and Christopher - they'd headed back to the hotel pool - so we invited Marcia and her friends over into the empty seats next to us. 

Kathy Ken and Marcia - isn't it fun to see someone from home when you're out of state?!

Dad, Mom, Greg, Yolanda, me and Ken on a beautiful Spring day in Scottsdale

We watched three home runs (I'm not counting the one for the Brewers) - two by Tommy Joseph (? - maybe one day I'll look back and say "I saw him when") and one by The Panda (Pablo Sandoval) - and numerous hits.  Final score Giants 13 Brewers 3!  Go Giants!

I managed to video Pablo's home run - First baseman didn't move and it sailed FAR over the right field wall/patio.

After the game was over we went back to Greg and Yolanda's hotel room (there were still some VBs left) then we walked around Old Town Scottsdale for a couple hours.  I had a minor heart attack shortly after entering the first store.  I spotted some Ariat shoes (some of my favorite) and got totally distracted looking through them.  When I didn't see anything I liked I left the area then did one of those "pat my side to feel my purse" moves and realized I didn't have it!  I frantically looked around for where I put it down and didn't see it anywhere!   (I was using my camera bag as a purse)  I went to the counter to ask if anyone turned it in - Ha. Not likely.  I told Ken and we went back to the car to see if I'd left it there.  Nope.  I knew I had it when I left the stadium because I took a picture of the men walking ahead of us.  But I couldn't remember for sure when I'd had it last after that.  Greg was great and offered to go to the hotel to check if I'd left it in their room.  I swear he was only gone 5 minutes when he called me to say he was back and had my bag!!!!  Yay!  Now I could spend the rest of the evening not worrying.  And yep - I "celebrated" by buying a beautiful Silver necklace inlaid with Jasper and Onyx (of a horse head, naturally).

While Mom and I were in the jewelry store Ken, Dad, Greg and Yolanda stopped at one of the restaurants that had a bar and the games on TV.   From there Greg and Yolanda and Ken and I walked to the Old Tortilla Factory (about 5 blocks) while Mom and Dad went back for the car (so we wouldn't have to walk 10 blocks after dinner).  On our walk we saw the fire department putting a fire out...

...in a 1962 Impala.

At the Old Town Tortilla Factory we enjoyed appetizers on the patio followed by an excellent dinner in the dining room.  100% better than Friday night's dinner.

Sunday Ken and I had a 1pm flight so everyone got together at 9:45 for brunch at The Good Egg.  Another tasty meal.  We were sad to say bye, knowing Greg and Yolanda were flying back to Australia on Monday and we wouldn't see Mom and Dad until May when they come up before their cruise.  

And it was hardly marred by the plane troubles we had in Phoenix.  We spent an hour on a hot airplane waiting while they tried (unsuccessfully) to fix the air conditioner.  They let us fly to Sacramento on the plane, even though there was only one working air conditioner (let me tell you that ISN'T enough to even put a dent in the heat).  So we were grateful to get to Sacramento only an hour late.  It could have been much worse.

Overall it was an awesome weekend in Arizona with family!

And for those of you who know my Dad and Brother - let me leave you with this eye-searing photo taken in the Giants Dugout Store (and no, they didn't make a purchase!)