Catching up

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I can’t believe how fast this year is going. We are already a week away from midterms. The Barrett-Jackson car show, the Phoenix Open, and the Arabian Horse Show have come and gone. It’s getting ready to be spring, and we’ve only just had our first rain of the year. Probably one of the more perfect times in our corner of the desert, and what people fall in love with when they come for a visit. Especially with the kind of winter everyone has been suffering through this year! Polar vortex indeed.

Chicago, I love you. But I’m so glad I’m not there right now.

It makes me glad to be here, but at the same time the snowbirds glory in our 80° February, what they don’t realize is that even for us, it’s unseasonably warm – and dry. It harkens to a tough year ahead for fire season, drought, habitat loss, and stress on wildlife. Not to mention a scorching May – September. I’m trying not to think of that now, and just revel in the glory of living someplace snow-and-windchill free.

salt margaritas

I feel a blog re-vamp coming on (again), so look for some changes coming up. While I have loved using WordPress.org, and having the customization freedom it offers, I am frustrated by the fact that when I read through some of my posts, half the time the pictures don’t show up (WTF?). And the whole hosting situation is a pain in the rear. So I’m looking to move the whole operation over to another web hosting site, hopefully with lots of improvements.

I’m taking Austin Kleon‘s advice from STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST, and stealing ideas for how to make this site better. Austin sends out occasional newsletters with a quick update on his projects, along with links to interesting things he’s found on the internet recently. Alex Yeske from Dreams + Jeans blogs beautiful pictures and product recommendations. I really like how both of these bloggers give a succinct post, paired with images, and suggestions from around the web, and hope to implement their best practices here. 

I’d also like to make to make this site better for YOU, my readers. Any comments? Suggestions on improvements? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

Here are some recent photos:

My work wall before a re-do
my new workspace, ready for inspiration
a typography sketch
this is from my life drawing class.
I draw naked people.
one of the best things about Arizona: sunsets.
my chickens decided to lay their eggs in the compost pile.
more typography practice
another sunset :)
juniper, our new puppy, likes to hang out with Keira while she eats.
wax barbie molds I’m working on for a sculpture project.
me, posing in sculpture class – trying to figure out how to pose Barbie for my sculpture. Suffering for your art means sometimes exposing your true dorkiness.
barbie parts, a tree, and a desk…hmmm, what will it be? Stay tuned.
My #1 Monkey, winning a soccer game. Love the color combo.
I told him his Polish was showing :)
My #2 Monkey, hogging my spot. That’s ok. No matter how big they get, I still like to watch them sleep.
a birthday present for my sister-in-law. I’ve been really inspired by a uk artist found here: http://lexwilson.co.uk/
My first non-school exhibition
pretty mama Chroicoragh ♡
A reader came to visit. She’d never seen Gypsy Horses in person, and we had a great time playing with the girls. Thanks, Jordan!

 

Thanks

So, I’m sure you’ve noticed a huge gap in posts. I mean, of course you have, because you’re a regular reader and you love my wit, and you can’t WAIT until you see a new post from me!

Kind of like how I am with The Hermitage, Dreams + Jeans, and Fine Art Tips.

A lot has been going on. I have been taking 17 credit hours this semester, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve worked so hard and been so happy in that work. I’m telling you right now: If you’ve been in a slump, or maybe want to advance in your career but lack of a degree is holding you back; GO TO SCHOOL, even if it’s just one class at a time.

journey

There’s nothing that will revive you more than feeding your brain. It’s the perfect time in the economy, too. Things are starting to bounce back, but it’s slow going and business is still slow enough that if you wanted to, you could squeeze in a morning or evening class. Some of them are scheduled to only meet once a week, if that’s all you can commit. There are loads of scholarships available, and enrollment is down, so they WANT you to go to school.

But assuming you can afford one class per semester – maybe two – what would you take? What has always piqued your interest? Ancient Egypt? Art History 101- Prehistoric to the Gothic, or World History to 1500.

king tut

What have you always wondered more about? How to really use Excel, so you can go up a paygrade at work? CIS 105 or Excel Level I.

Or, have you always wondered why rocks look like this? Take Geology 101! I liked it so much I took 102 as well.

sandstone

Why don’t you do something for you? You’ve always wanted to try painting. Remember how much you loved watching Bob Ross? I recommend taking Color Theory first. It’s been a challenge, but a good one!

Think about it.

Besides school, we’ve had a few birthdays

IMG_5997

IMG_6667 - Version 2

and lost our two best friends :(

Butter (aka Best Dog in the World) was 13, and Pepper (2nd Best Dog in the World) was 12. They passed away within a month of each other.

butter and pepper

Our new girl, Juniper, was a birthday surprise, and missed meeting Pepper by two days, but kept Butter company for the last month. She’s adorable, and smart, and keeps us all on our toes.

Juniper

The horses have gotten hairy. They got a post-Halloween treat.

horses eating pumpkin

Keira is still for sale. It’s strange, I think she must be waiting for the perfect home. I’ve had several people interested in her, and a few offers, but they all fell through for various reasons. All she needs is time and attention. She’s super smart and sweet, and responds well to training (see video on her page). I’m so surprised she hasn’t sold yet, because she’s pretty close to perfect. But that’s just my opinion ;)

keira

I gave my first class lecture

lecture ARH101

and we’ve had some rain.

IMG_7123
my Land Art installation, titled “Direction”

Coming up, I’ve got a post on a popular author, a round-up of my projects for the semester, an out-of-town writing conference (so exciting!), and after Christmas, I get to go visit my family. Please continue to keep my sister-in-law and our parents in your thoughts. This is our first holiday without John, and he is greatly missed.

john & chris

Here and now, it’s holiday time in the desert, cool and crisp in the morning, sunny in the afternoon.

I’m thankful for it all – my family, our health & home, the opportunities we have.

And to you, for taking the time to visit.

smiley face, rocks

Much love,

Heidi

If you’d like to do more online browsing, please stop by my friends’ sites:

Pb Crazy

r. mccormack writes

taysteele.com

strategicbongo

TracyJoyCreative

Gypsy Stallion Showcase (and) Why Am I Selling My Horse?

— NEWS! I can now offer a FREE Breeding as part of Keira’s sale! See her page for more info! —

our two horse herd

We are currently downsizing our herd—meaning, we are going from two horses to one :) Keira is for sale. I hope to find her a happy, loving, forever home, hopefully one with lots of little girls to pet her and brush her and put ribbons in her hair.

The reasons we are down-sizing are many, but it has nothing to do with WANTING to sell Keira. I love her to pieces, and it will break my heart to see her go. But our horse journey has changed drastically in the past 7 years, since Chroicoragh first trotted into our lives. Back then, we had dreams of building a modest herd,  taking them to all-breed shows; entering them in the Parada del Sol  and other parades; training them to drive a cart; and eventually have our own breeding stallion and move to a 200-acre farm somewhere and happily live out our days breeding adorable Gypsy Horse babies.

But then the economy took a dump, we came very close to losing our house, like many Americans, and to top it off, we ended up having a very long, expensive, and complicated battle with the school district in regards to my youngest son.

Keira is his favorite

That fight, for the most part, is now done. I will not go into details here and now, but I may at a later date, and hopefully a much more public format. They say the pen is mightier than the sword…and I would LOVE to slay some public school dragons. Anywho…our lives, jobs, and family have gone in a different direction than when we started. And now with our oldest son in college (how is that friggin possible?? I’m not nearly old enough to have a kid in college!), our youngest finally in high school, and with my husband and I looking down the road to our not-too-distant future, some rearranging and simplifying is in order.

And I wish I could say it had nothing to do with finances. We are trying our best to provide our kids with an education that they will not have to be paying for in the form of student loans for the next 30 years. Our oldest is pursuing a degree in International Business with a double minor in Spanish and German. His dream job is to work for Porsche, BMW, or some big fancy car company. (He loves horses, too, as long as they are under the hood!) He will be headed to Germany in the spring to fulfill his study abroad requirement for his degree, and hopes to land an internship at one of the car companies while he’s there. (I know, he’s crazy smart and motivated, neither of which he gets from me)

Since I left my job, my current focus is to finish my book, and then find some sort of career that will help prepare us for our golden years. Now, ideally, this job will be promoting and selling my book and going on international book tours (there’s a little Law of Attraction for you!). But it never hurts to have more than one feather in your cap, so I am preparing myself to either A.) Go back to school and get my degree, or B.) Pursue another career to be named at a later date.

 If it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that after 16+ years of being a stay-at-home mom, then 3+ years of schlepping magazines, you are pretty much screwed when it comes to looking for a real job. I have no degree, no skills, no experience; I must be a flipping idiot. How do I even make it through the day?

So, back to the point…what was my point again? We are going through lots of changes around here. But just because we will be a one-horse-herd family, doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped dreaming about my 200-acre Gypsy Horse farm with lots of babies and a beautiful stallion! I mean, going back to my whole LoA thing, when I sell my book, and get back from book tour, I might need to invest my earnings in some real estate, right?

So, let’s just go with it! I’ve just gotten back from my months-long excursion, traveling the world, and signing lots of copies of my book (yes it can happen! here’s my inspiration). I just sold the movie rights to Harvey Weinstein, and I’ve got to invest my big check so Uncle Sam doesn’t take it all.

Time to go stallion shopping!

If I could stock my stable with a dream-boy lineup, this is who I would pick:

(click on stallion’s NAME to go to their home pages)

Platinum:

I’ve already proclaimed my love for this guy. I believe he’s been sold, but have no idea where he ended up. If you know, please reply below!

Platinum, ©Michael Vines

♘ ♘ ♘

The Midget Stallion:

I’ve had a crush on him for a long time, and finally got to meet him this summer in Tennessee. He’s absolutely adorable in person:

the Midget Stallion, now standing at LexLin Gypsy Ranch in Tennessee.

I wish I could have gotten some good photos of him, but it had been raining for days and all the big boys were in their stalls. He throws gorgeous foals, and I got to see some of the cuties.

♘ ♘ ♘

Silky Boy:

Clononeen Silky Boy

Here is Keira’s ½ brother, Silky Boy, so named because his hair is so soft and silky, just like Keira’s. A top stallion in England. He and Keira are both sired by Lenny’s Horse.

♘ ♘ ♘

Sundance Kid:

Sundance Kid, now owned by Lexlin Gypsy Ranch
photo © Gypsy MVP

Ummm…Hello? I think if Brad Pitt were a Gypsy, he would look like this. If I was 12 again, I’d want this poster on my wall.

 ♘ ♘ ♘

The Viking:

the Viking, now owned by West Hill Ranches
photo © Tom Price

Can you say “Presence?” I think if The Viking and Chroicoragh had a baby, it would literally glow.

 ♘ ♘ ♘

Darrig:

Desert Jewel’s Darrig
photo © Jennifer Gilson

Darrig is one of those horses. He just has some sort of personality – I have no idea why I like him so much, I just do. Must be that Gypsy magic. He’s a gorgeous chestnut and he’s built like a tank.

♘ ♘ ♘

 Blue Bobbi:

Blue Bobbi, owned by Tom Price
photo © Eilzabeth Sescilla

Look at this guy! I think I have a new crush…♡

♘ ♘ ♘

The Hustler:

The Hustler, Superior Stables

The Hustler is another awesome stallion imported from Clononeen farms. I just love his coloring.

 ♘ ♘ ♘

Starbuck:

GG Starbuck, owned by Linda Tweedie of Gypsy Vanner Ranch
photo © Elizabeth Sescilla

 Umm….yeah, do I even need to say anything about this stallion? I mean I think if Sundance Kid is the Brad Pitt of Gypsy Horses, then Starbuck must be the George Clooney. And I loooves me some George Clooney… :)

♘ ♘ ♘

Here are a few that are new to me, but I could easily fall in love with them.

Sir:

Sterling Spring Call Me Sir, owned by Circle G Ranch

 Sir has a beautiful head, nice conformation and hair. A bit of a sleeper, I hadn’t heard of him before this post but I have a feeling he’ll have a great career.

 ♘ ♘ ♘

Lucky

Westmoreland Lucky

If I had to guess, I’d say Lucky got his name from the lucky “Gypsy Kiss” on his forehead. A Gypsy Kiss is a small dark spot in the blaze of a white faced horse. Please click on his picture to see more photos on his page.

♘ ♘ ♘

Sir Tristan:

Westmoreland’s Sir Tristan

He is just too pretty! Two blue eyes, too! He throws lovely foals.

♘ ♘ ♘

Phantom Knight:

Phantom Knight, owned by Bit-N-Heaven Gypsy Horses

Phantom Knight, a very unusual colored Silver Dapple stallion owned by Mike Nenni in Florida.

It’s very easy to get distracted by a horse’s color, but if you look beyond that—on each of these wonderful stallions—you will see the best in conformation. A Gypsy Horse breeder will breed first for temperament, next for conformation, hair and the gorgeous coloring is just the icing on the cake.

If you are in the market for stallion service for your mares, or are simply in the market for  Gypsy Horse in general, I highly suggest visiting some of these stallions’ homes on the web. RESEARCH. Look at bloodlines, previous foals, and the quality of the farm’s broodmares.

♘ ♘ ♘

Speaking of icing on the cake, I am excited to announce that as part of Keira’s sale, I can offer one FREE BREEDING to either of these two gorgeous stallions! Thanks to Peggy and Steve Owen of Superstition Foothills Ranch for this incredible opportunity!

Niall of Tara and Eclipse the Son, both out of Premium stallion, Rock Ranch Nelson
You choose which stallion you’d like to breed to Keira!

Please see Keira’s page for more info.

♘ ♘ ♘

And, finally, my all-time favorite, the AMAZING Lloyds, also owned by Michael Vines:

The most famous Blue Blagdon stallion
photo © Loretta Rawlings

Lloyds is attributed to be Chroicoragh’s sire. The DNA tests came back “unconfirmed.” Which either means A.) The DNA results were simply incorrect (this has happened before – someone told me that a mare that she bred herself -well, not herself, ha ha – came back with inconclusive DNA results, and have heard other similar stories); or B.) A colt of Lloyds covered Chroicoragh’s dam while out to pasture, which has also happened before. In England and Ireland, it is common to turn out a stallion with a band of broodmares, and let nature take its course. If there are young colts in the bunch who decide to take a turn, they can sometimes impregnate the mare.

Either way, I’m happy with Chroicoragh, I don’t care who her sire is. I’m still convinced it’s Lloyds – she and all of her siblings inherited his gorgeous head – I just see too much resemblance there to think otherwise:

Lloyds on the left, Chroi on the right
Lloyds picture © Loretta Rawlings
Lloyds filly on the left, Chroicoragh at the same age on right.
Photo © Kent Gypsy horses

When I saw the filly on the left, I did a double take – I thought it was a photo of Chroicoragh that I hadn’t seen before. Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me if Chroicoragh’s sire is Tony the Tiger, I love her all the same.

Good luck finding YOUR dream horse! I know I left out many many other great stallions, but I only have so much time! These guys are my personal favorites.

Which one is yours? Leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!

Thanks for reading,

Heidi

P.S. for more great photos, please visit Elizabeth Sescilla’s Flickr feed.

Desert Rain – a picture post

We have FINALLY gotten some much needed rain down here in the desert. It is making for some very humid don’t-even-bother-straightening-your-hair days, but things have cooled off ever so slightly and the dust has been kept to a minimum.

There is a certain smell that springs from newly damp desert ground, but I suppose it smells just as good as any other place when long overdue rains arrive. I actually put it into the first chapter of my book. Here’s a peek:

The western sky was the kind of blue that comes after a cleansing summer rain, and the breeze still smelled of damp sage and pine. Leather reins lay slack in her fingers, resting on the saddlehorn in front of her. Closing her eyes, Ruby breathed in the beautiful day.

You’ll have to wait to read more, but I’ll try to pop in a few tidbits here and there. Until then, enjoy some recent photos of the girls (click images to enlarge):

Keira kicking up some dust before the storm

Eden the rescue kitty stops by
Is there anything happier than a Lab? Pepper will be 11 this year.
Vincas. These are the only flowers that survive the summer—at my house, anyway.

I thought this was a cool shot, also indicative of horse behavior. When you are standing by one horse, the other one has to come over to see what they are missing.
pretty girls.
Eden monitors my morning’s progress.
rain collected in Butter’s food dish, reflecting the sky.

For some more AMAZING Arizona photography, check out this local photographer’s page.

Thanks for reading,

Heidi

Desert in bloom

Living in the desert can be great…sometimes. We have absolutely beautiful winters here. While the rest of the country is freezing and shoveling snow, we* are playing golf and drinking freshly squeezed orange juice.
But summer.
ugh.
Summer is creeping up on us. Last weekend we had our first round of 100+ temperatures. Like a little teaser, it only lasted a few days. Then we got the very welcome and much needed blessing of a brief rain shower.
In the desert you find yourself yearning for rain like a castaway scans the sea for ships on the horizon. It is a sign of life, sent from faraway.
We haven’t had nearly enough rain lately. Arizona’s yearly average for rain is about 7 inches. Last year, the Phoenix area totaled a little over four inches – for the whole year. This year so far we have not even reached .75 inches of rain.
Is a drought in the desert redundant?
All I know is, it’s dry. Too dry. And when it does rain, this is how I feel:
Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption, one of the best movies ever.

But in between winter and summer, we do get a little nibble of spring. It’s that sliver of time before all the non-native plants start turning brown from the heat.

You can tell it’s spring when the Palo Verde trees bloom.

The Palo Verde (“green stick”) is Arizona’s state tree, and gets its name from the green bark it wears.
In the spring, these trees burst into color, covered in yellow flowers, and virtually hum with the presence of bees, busily drinking the nectar and pollinating away.
When the blooms expire, they carpet the ground.
This yucca is about 25 feet tall.
sage
oleanders (non-native), a hedge.
And since I am a midwesterner at heart, I have to have little bits of annual color on my front porch.
I wanted to get a picture of a Saguaro Blossom. Saguaros (pronounced sah-WAH-ro) are those huge cactuses (cacti) that you see in the stereotypical desert panorama:
The state flower of Arizona, the Saguaro blossom forms in clusters at the top of each arm of the cactus. They bloom April-June, and since they open at night, the main pollinators are nectar-drinking bats.
Did you ever wonder about the pleated structure of a cactus? Cacti are pleated to allow for the expansion that occurs when the plant is able to soak up large amounts of water, as it does in monsoon season. When the cactus dries out, the pleats deepen and become more pronounced. This has the added effect of being able to provide shade for itself from the heat of the sun.
Since you pretty much need a ladder to get a picture of the saguaro blossom, I thought I would just search for a good shot for you on the net. I have no idea how I’d get a ladder into my Civic.
Here you go:
And just for kicks, here are some new horse pictures:
As always, thanks for stopping by.
* and by “we,” I mean everyone else in Arizona. I don’t golf.
**But I do drink freshly squeezed orange juice…
mmmmmmmm it’s yummy.

More pictures of Gypsy Horses

While I’m working on the new site, I’ll post here and there so as not to leave you out there in cyberspace, wondering what the horses are up to.
Fina has been sold, which is both bitter and sweet. We had planned to sell her before she was even born, but it’s still hard to see one of your babies go. She is a very sweet filly who will grow into a beautiful mare. She is to be trained in dressage, perfect for her floaty movement and snappy trot.
The silver lining of the sale is that she is going to a family who will love her and spoil her like crazy. Just as Chroicoragh was MY finally-found-dreamhorse, Fina is the same for her new owner:

I’ll have more about Fina soon.
Keira is still for sale.
RANDOM HAPPY GYPSY HORSE PICTURES!
As always, thanks for stopping by – I hope you have a great day.
:)
Heidi