Another one of those Whattaweeks ;o)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Categorically speaking, that is...
First things first: We're having a giveaway - Woo! Hopefully, it will make you smile and help us with our fund raising all at the same time. It's a roomy lightweight tote by Q-Tees of California which features a screened print of a beautiful bay horse on the front. In addition, I made a matching horse blanket keyring to go with it. Yay! To enter, just give us a helping hand, hoof, paw, wing, foot or fin (did I miss anyone?) with our fund raising efforts by copying the ChipIn widget on the sidebar - top left - and adding it to your blog for the next two weeks and don't forget to leave the link in a comment! You don't have to donate anything (unless you want to), but it would be nice if you put the widget somewhere your readers could see it (and if you decide to leave it up after the two weeks is over it would be most appreciated). If you don't have a Blogger blog, there is one for Facebook, My Space, www website and/or Wordpress, etc. (just click on copy, then "more options" to generate the appropriate code or change the size and/or color). Here's the tote, isn't pretty?

The keyring has a small lanyard on it, so you can hook it to your purse (for those of you who are like me and always losing your keys ;o) Our liability insurance premium comes due next month, and I am really sweating this one out as the money just isn't there. We're not quite where we thought we'd be at this time last year with groups already scheduled in advance and on site donations coming in (this post). We have about $65 so far, most of it from an unexpected and generous donation by a reader (can I thank you by name on the blog Ms. Aussie?) Although I am an interpreter for an elementary school, it was not always so. My background contains enough legal and administrative experience to know that I do NOT wish to have visitors/operate Epic Farms without liability insurance. I know of a number of non-profits who were forced by their finances to let their insurance lapse, but to me it is a very dangerous game of [one wrong move] roulette that could put you out of business in a heartbeat. Not to mention completely ruin your life. I'm hoping the more places we have the widget, the more likely we'll be to get some online donations. Guess we'll find out soon enough, right?
And now allow me to recap my Whattaweek one day at a time: 
Sunday was sneaky and snarky: Seems I have a stalker...(remember small problem?)
This is Josie. She is supposed to live next door, but she found a gap in the fence so she's been spending most of her time over here. I put her back about 973 different times, but she obviously possesses some major mystical powers because she instantaneously re-materialized back at my feet every single time. I suppose it's okay, but we ARE going to have to have a discussion about "The Rules". That chair is mine-Mine-MINE missy:

Monday was meanieweenie day: I got shot (twice). Cortisone injection in each hip for Bursitis, which is terribly painful. I can't say I enjoyed the shot either (because OW) but hopefully I'll be a bit more mobile with only Arthur to contend with. I did, however, have to really fight the urge to laugh while grooming Sara that morning. Bella is quite the jealous tart, and was just about to take a nice big chunk out of Sara's *ahem* boo-tay when I yelled (her mouth was wide open, but I wasn't quite quick enough on the draw with the camera phone). Bella tried to convince me that I completely misread her intent, but for some reason I just didn't buy it:

Tuesday was...(is) tragic: Because it's missing. I'm sorry, did I have a Tuesday this week? Apparently I didn't as I have absolutely no clue what I did that day (and how sad is that? *rolls eyes*). Must have been due to left over trauma from the shots ;o) 
Wednesday was one of those whiny "Why Me" days: Sponsored by; Who DOES this stuff? Coming around the corner of the house, I was blinded by the sun hitting a discarded piece of one [lousy] inch wide Z-Flashing from the patio roof that was laying at just the right angle to catch the sun. Unable to see for a moment, I stepped right into the shallow hole at the water cut off valve - the one I had been watching for until I was blinded by the light *SNARL* - and twisted my ankle. So now I'm hipping and hobbling around like an idiot. Raspberries!  Of course it did leave me with an interesting question to contemplate: Does this make DH a flasher?? He put it there after all. Bwah-ha-ha-ha *cough* sorry.
Thursday was a day to be thankful: We got RAIN! Funny how sometimes the sky is so pretty right before the bottom falls out...
Friday was freak out over finances day: DD's front tire started separating, which meant we had to buy two new 17" tires as the other one was pretty sad too (thankfully, the back ones were still good). Why did we buy her a truck again? Oh yeah, woodworking. *sigh*. Outside of the horses and medical bills, I think that was the fastest $300 I've ever spent. Oy. Have to say I can think of about a thousand other things I could do with that money right now, (like the liability insurance), but definitely not at the expense of DD's safety.
Saturday was spectacular sunset day: It's amazing how the same sky can be so varied depending on the direction of your gaze. I tilted the camera for the first shot...
This one didn't need my help at all:
I did hit the "vivid" setting for the last shot (just curious ;o) But you know what? After looking at it, I really don't think God's artwork needs any help do you?
Hope your week was a wonderful one!

A Picture Happy Potty Post (really :o)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I am a good wife. I am. Sometimes this statement is verified in strange ways, but it is [basically] true. I do not, however, understand the workings of the male mind (wait: is that an oxymoron?) but after more than 20 years of marriage, I can generally decipher the writing on the wall. Remember the *ahem* pot-tay that someone gave us? (here). Well, sadly the tank had a hairline crack and it leaked. It wasn't fixable, and don't you hate it when stuff like that happens? *sigh*. So it was off to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to [hopefully] find another commode (click here to see if there is one in your area). If you've never shopped there, I can only tell you it is a treasure trove of unbelievable bargains if you are building, remodeling, replacing or decorating (and we all know how much Jen looooves a bargain, right?) Contractors donate leftover items from new construction and homes being professionally remodeled; even better, stores send their shiny new overstock items and/or things that are discontinued. It's most awesome.
My husband, Redneck that he is, pretty much leaves the furniture and fixture decisionmaking up to me (thankfully ;o) Every once in awhile, however, he will deviate from pattern pigheadedly and without warning. It isn't often, but when he does the best I can hope for is some kind of [boggy] middle ground. When I called the ReStore, the woman who answered said they had several commodes there; one was nice enough that had she needed a toilet she would have bought it herself. Since it was going outside, we really just needed non-leaking and functional. On the way to the store, I laughingly told DH that I wouldn't mind finding one in that ugly Harvest Gold because it would be a great match for our "rustic" western theme, and if it got a little dusty from time to time you probably wouldn't even notice. The downside of the store is that it is basically a big stuffy old warehouse, crammed full of all kinds of items (and rummaging around with no air circulating, I can tell you it is HOT in there). Three steps in the door, and everything you have on is stuck to you; three more steps and you are soaked completely through - Yuck! :oP
We no sooner walked through the door, than I saw it: a homely little mustard colored potty sitting right there waiting for me in (you guessed it) Harvest Gold. Laughing, I clasped my hands together in delight and announced it was absolutely perfect. A horrified expression on his face, DH flatly refused to acknowledge my happy find and beaming smile. Instead, his gaze was riveted on "The Throne" which sat glistening seductively in a stream of sunlight a few feet away. This is the point where we completely and totally parted company. The conversation went something like this: 
DH: "This one."
Me (incredulously): "Really honey? That one? It's a bit much for an outhouse style bathroom, don't you think?"
DH: "No, I like it."
Me (so not following the thinking): "But it's white, dear." 
DH: "Yeah."
Me (completely bewildered): "And it has a fancy-schmancy porcelain handle."
DH: "Uh-huh."
Me (now sputtering): "But-but-but we're putting it OUTSIDE. Do you know how fast it will get dirty?"
DH: "You can clean it."
**I should like to interject at this point that I racked up MAJOR marital points for not shooting the man in the middle of the store for that statement alone.**
Me (getting desperate): "Honey, this looks like a $500 toilet; you know how much I appreciate a good deal and all just as you do (it was $15), but are you seriously going to put a pure as the driven snow white la-di-da commode with a shiny white porcelain handle in an outhouse style bathroom on a rustic looking concrete floor that I just stained 'Vaquero Brown'???"
DH (grinning widely): "Yep."
Me (last ditch effort): "Can't we just get the gold one? Please?"
DH: "NO. This one."
Well we bought "The Throne", but I can't say I was anywhere near as thrilled as DH (my sense of the ridiculous being firmly entrenched in the Harvest Gold camp). Happily, inspiration struck on the way back to the house. I had to whine, beg, wheedle and cajole, but I finally got DH to agree to install his monument to the Sunday paper in the family room bathroom and let me go back for the gold one the next day ;o) Since DD's toilet needed to be replaced anyway, I suggested a win-win scenario via a round of musical pot-tays *grin*. The family room toilet would go into DD's bathroom (it matched), "The Throne" would go into the family room bathroom to be loved and admired by all *rolls eyes*, and the gold one would [finally] go into the outhouse. It turned out to be a good thing we did this, as the flange under the commode in the family room had cracked (so water was seeping underneath the flooring - EEW) and it needed to be replaced. Ultimately I guess we both got punished; DH having to do a lot more plumbing work than he'd planned and me having to rip up and replace the vinyl floor in the family room bathroom. Not really feeling the love for those parquet tiles, but they were the least expensive so they won hands down for this unplanned project. Maybe we shoulda stuck Snow White in the outhouse after all, dang it. Oh well.
The return visit generated a much shorter conversation, as DH had to work so DD accompanied me on the return trip to the ReStore in her little pickup truck:
DD: "Mom, that is seriously ugly."
Me: "I know, isn't it great?"
DD (rolling her eyes): "If you say so."
I had to bribe her with a vanilla milkshake, but we got it loaded up and back to the house without incident (she made me drive though, as she refused to be seen hauling a toilet in her truck ;o)
While we're under construction, we have all three commodes communing in our garage (hopefully, we will NOT have anyone come through there for a few days *laugh*).
Oh, and for those of you that noticed the cheesy happy face drawn on the [to be replaced] seat cover of the gold one? I said I was a good wife (I never said I was perfect ;o)
Remember those rusty/dusty chairs I mentioned? Well, I have a long way to go (eek), but inspiration struck shortly after we brought them home. A bunch of steel wool, some paint, a touch of creativity, and lots and LOTS of elbow grease and I think we may just get there eventually. I put a big piece of visqueen down, and moved all the chairs around to the patio which, silly as it sounds, wore me out (of course it might have been that 102 temp that did it - Blech :oP Well it may have made it easier to go from one to the next, but it definitely added to the intimidation factor: That's an awful lot of chairs to do - YIKES!
Actually, they don't look bad at all in the shadows from a distance. It's when you get closer they get a little well, a LOT scary from a sanding standpoint. Oy.
BUT- some serious elbow grease followed by a coating of "folding chair brown" spray paint (otherwise known as "Gloss Khaki" by Rust-oleum) and we can go from scary (R) to salvageable (L). Whaddaya think; not bad, eh?
Throw in a little creative thinking (along with some vinyl and my bestest little buddy Cricut) and voila! You've come a long way, baby (boo-yeah! ;o)
Well, that's three down and ten to go *head thumps on desk*. Maybe I'll just wait until tomorrow to do some more; I'm a little bit tuckered. Thanks for reading it all ('cause it sure was a LOT this time) and have a truly blessed week everyone!

Learn as you go (a guaranteeed Uh-Oh :o)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Well, it's [almost] done out there; the floor of the visitor area. My friend Lori came up and helped, as staining large areas of concrete is definitely a two man (er, woman ;o) job. I really liked the mottled, rustic look of the semi- transparent stain, and wanted the additional durability (I definitely don't want to have to do this annually). For anyone interested in tackling such a task on their own concreted area, and it can be indoors or out, here are the things we used:
1. Quikrete semi-transparent stain in Vaquero Brown (the 2 gallons I bought was not enough);
2. A 2 gallon sprayer (to mix both cans together for consistency);
3. Garden hose with an adjustable spray nozzle (the stain must be applied to a wet surface for proper absorption);
4. A push broom to eliminate any large areas of standing water;
5. Masking tape and a bunch of Walmart bags (or any other cheesy bag you have in large quantities) to put around the bottoms of each post (even though it's brown on brown, it still shows and you don't want your posts to be all messy looking if there are any splatters); 
6. A large kitchen garbage bag to cover the bottom half of the door; and,
7. A ginormous bowl of ice cream for when you're done, because it's a million and a half degrees out there and who cares if it's still breakfast time; it's dairy (so I can count it as milk - Ha).
One of the more important lessons I learned, is that we definitely should have done this in the early evening hours as opposed to early morning. Why? Because the sun would not have been so obnoxiously strong (a lot of unwanted speckling resulted because we just couldn't keep the concrete wet enough to absorb the stain properly). Mottled yes, spotted no. This means I'll have to go back over it again in those places; it'll have to be next paycheck though, as I've killed this one dead *grin*. If you look at the bottom of the wooden posts, you can see how much splattering there was; good thing we covered them:
Of course I'll also have to repair the damage from the rain too. Can you believe it? We are in the midst of a drought, there was NO chance of rain when we did it - zero, zilch, zippo, nada - and we get a sudden downpour out of the blue (not that I'm complaining because we needed the rain desperately). Where the patio roof joins the house, there is a small gap in two places. DH bought some flashing to put up there; unfortunately, it only made it as far as the "to do list" (nuts). Funny the way the water puddled up, ran off, then puddled up again, ran off again...Kinda looks like a pair of futuristic cat lady shades, doesn't it? It's like our own special slant on crop circles or something (well, maybe *laugh*). Huh. Weird.

Here's a photo of what it is [mostly] supposed to look like although there is some speckling in the upper left-hand corner:
Live and learn, right? Other than the speckles and freckles (which I'll fix later) I think it looks much better in a nice earthy brown than that super-sized slab of generic gray. Bear in mind that the concrete was still wet in the "before" photo, so it dried to a considerably lighter gray (that often hurt the eyes a lot more than the brown when the sun hit it). It was also evening in the before, so it was pretty much shaded. What do you think?
For some reason, Cinnamon was quite put out by my plans to "fix" those dotty spots *laugh*. He seemed to think it was absolutely perfect as is, and the speckled areas were the very best part (and I probably should have done the whole thing that way anyway). I can't imagine why he's so adamant about it, can you? Silly boy. If I had not taken the photo myself, I would have sworn it was Cinnamon's coat. That's actually the concrete below on the left; talk about bizarre. You know, I'm thinking that might be even weirder than the shades...

Want a sneak peek at next week? It's a *whispering* potty post. And you'll see what I'm doing with (to?) some rusty-musty-dusty old folding chairs that were donated to the farm. Tilly's [the tractor] former owners gave us a dozen of 'em - Woo! Color me amazed not only to have chosen the subject for the next post, but I've already started writing. Holy cow! I can't believe I'm actually getting ahead of the game on posting (and having said that out loud - like a ninny - I'll probably wind up behind again just because I couldn't keep my mouth shut). It's okay though, as long as I get there in the end, right?
Have a blessed week everyone!

Coffee & A Donut* Post: Blood, Sweat and... Years?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

*A little long this time* 
I don't usually talk about scripture and such on here, although it's hardly a state secret that I'm a Christian (it says "scary Christianchick" right there on my profile dont'cha know ;o) I think though, that some of you might be interested in the stuff that's been happening behind the scenes [of my posts] here. Even though life can throw some pretty big curve balls, which sometimes smack you right upside the head, I try very, very hard to keep a positive attitude even when I don't feel like it. Not being perfect and all, however, I have been known to get disheartened and discouraged from time to time. While they are not as numerous or stringent as they used to be, I still set goals and I had a definite set of them as well as a rough time frame in place for Epic Farms (this post). I'm sure many of you out there in the blogosphere are aware of the old adage, "If you want to hear God laugh, just tell Him your plans." This saying applies to timetables as well; since God's timing is - unlike mine - infallibly perfect. 
In the beginning, after prayerful consideration, I was sure that this [the non-profit] was what the Lord wanted me to do with the horses. It was a terrible time to start a charity given the economy, but we had too many horses to care for on our own long term, and I felt confident that things would work out if they were meant. I should add that it is virtually impossible to get approval from the Treasury Department for a horse-related non profit that is not a rescue operation or some type of hippotherapy facility. That would be why I took the approval of our 501c3 (which took almost a year and an awful lot of trees) to be a clear affirmation that I was indeed heading in the right direction. We were approved as a non profit in 2009 and made retroactively official as of our initial application date in 2008.
After the approval, however, and a handful of positive months, nothing seemed to go right. Several months more and friends and family began to drop subtle hints that perhaps this was not what we were meant to do with the horses after all. DH's work schedule had him working almost 70 hours seven days a week (69:45 to be exact), which made it virtually impossible for him to work on the visitor area or do anything at all here beyond eat and sleep. Donations became few and far between then dried up completely, grant after grant was turned down or ignored outright, as were all attempts to garner support from local businesses. Even my monthly paycheck - pretty much the sole source of support for the farm - went down; I got to the point that living from paycheck to paycheck became my new goal as I could no longer get anywhere near the next check before the money ran out (I am, however, quite thankful to have a job). On top of that, I couldn't find a single [grownup] person interested in volunteering. Our first "Work Toward Reward" participant came out to work once and then was never heard from again. Our second WTR participant did the same thing. To say I was becoming frustrated doesn't even come close (particularly when those little hints from well-meaning folks blossomed into larger and more obvious statements). There is a reason that water drip torture works; I began to question if I had misunderstood what God wanted me to do (and it certainly wouldn't be the first time I went haring off in the wrong direction :oP
At the end of a particularly trying day last month, I arrived home to find two renewal notices waiting for me; one for the website and one for our liability insurance totaling nearly $1,000 between the two. The horses had unusually bad behavior at supper (caused by my own internalized stress, I'm sure) and the remaining evening hours yielded nothing but more stress and aggravation. Have you ever had one of those days where absolutely everything you touch goes badly? By the end of the night, I had completed the downward spiral from bad to worse, and finally decided not to touch anything else (maybe ever). Overtired and overwrought, I dissolved into tears of frustration and wailed to God to PLEASE just tell me [what???]: "Do I have it ALL wrong? Is this not what I am supposed to do with the horses? Why is nothing working? I have no money, no help, and what feels like negativity and discouragement coming from all directions. If this is not what I should be doing, will you please just say so and put me out of my misery? I can't handle all this anymore Lord." <-- Now I'm sure many of you that walk the walk out there will see exactly where the problem was in this last sentence (always so obvious when it's not you, isn't it? ;o) Curling up in a tight ball of exhausted misery I did what most of us do when we just don't want to deal with anything else; I escaped into sleep. 
The next morning as I said a prayer, I apologized to the Lord for my self pity-filled rant, for trying to rush things along on my own [without Him], and ended by asking for some kind of confirmation that I was indeed doing what He wanted me to do. I sat down at the dining room table and opened my daily devotional to find a lesson on perseverance along with the following quote in the margin: 
          "When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer." 
It is interesting to note, in a goosebumpy sort of way, that I was on the "wrong" day (I was a month and several days behind on my reading; each page is for a specific day and has a date on it). I had to laugh as I read it, because I am one to ask the Lord for "idiot friendly" answers (but please don't hurt me) and that was definitely one even I couldn't miss. Even weirder? My dad is a HUGE train buff and I grew up riding trains, so I could totally appreciate the analogy. The next day, one of the teachers at school mentioned [out of the blue] that she was looking for someplace to volunteer for the summer (this post). DH's schedule changed at work and offered just enough reduction in hours to free up some extra time for the patio project (this post and this post). Then another teacher said that she and her daughters were looking for some volunteering opportunities over the summer (this post and this post). I'd love to tell you that we got a gazillion dollar donation along with everything else that has turned around for us over the past few weeks, but I can't. We're still waiting on the Lord there. I think I won't worry quite so much about it anymore though. His timing is, after all, perfect ;o)
On a Sunday after church, my dearest friend Lori shared the following with me from her devotional because it was so (completely) "us":
"I am with you and for you. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don't be discouraged - never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your ever-present Helper am omnipotent.
Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing head long toward moment by moment. Instead of dashing head-long toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence."
Romans 8:31, Psalm 46:1-3, Luke 1:37
Is that wild or what? (not to mention totally relevant - especially the part about the stress - and Duhhhh, Jen ;o) Lori is a wonderful friend, fellow horse nut, and amazing Christian; a ginormous blessing in my life all the way around. She and I have had many discussions about God's timing vs. our timing and laughingly agree that we are both defectively impatient and always in too big of a hurry. To use a different transportation analogy: When it comes to Divine directions we both have a tendency to just grab the flight plan and run with it. By not reading carefully - ergo bypassing the taxi down the runway part [we tend to skip straight to takeoff] - we miss the warning about the giant redwood growing up through the center of our flight path, resulting in the inevitable crash and burn *rolls eyes*. So we have to schlep all the way back to where we started, repent, and ask for duplicate plans that we will [hopefully] read in their entirety before taking off again. Yep, a couple of slow learners - that's us ;o)
Sweating through record temps of 102 over the past few days here (awful!) As for the blood? Well. I opted to add to the "Graceless Challenge" this week (I fell into a ladder Thursday morning for that one; don't ask), and thought I'd play a round of "What are the odds?" I was prepping the patio for staining Friday, whisking away at the light accumulation of sand and grit when the broom I was using suddenly snapped in two. The broom, being cheap and metal, did not break completely but opened and closed in my hand (grabbing some skin) in accordance with the stroke of my sweep. It happened very fast and made a circular gash on my palm that looked, ironically, just like the letter "J". It bled immediately and profusely. Although I quickly flipped my hand over, closed it, and cupped the other underneath (my first thought being how the heck would I get the blood stains out of the concrete?! ;o) there was a solitary - symbolic? - drop of blood that splashed onto the patio floor. I went for the sepia shot in case anyone reading this is squeamish. Honestly, who DOES this stuff? Wait. You know what - on second thought...never mind. 
Thanks for reading it all, and have a wonderful week everyone!
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