Riding: The Nationals

Beginning their season on the world stage, they are ending their season on the world stage.

graphic courtesy of Blenheim EquiSports

They are the Nationals in Las Vegas. Part of the World Cup tour, the CSI4* rated show is the most important show of their season. The stage is larger. The expectations are greater. The anticipation higher. The field of riders they are competing with, in the World Cup qualifier, are among the best professionals in the world. Yet, “it is no different from any other show,” my daughters have said. “It is about riding, giving your best.”

“A rider must fully trust themselves and their horse,” Trish says of competing at this level. Having competed on the world stage herself, Trish speaks from experience. “The girls, they can compete with anyone. They have the intangibles.” With no guarantee of success, “they are unafraid,” Trish adds. “Count them among the best in the world.”

training day sunset: quiet moment between Tara and Cameron (RRC, Oct 27 2018)

They are ready. Their horses are ready.

Ride now, ride forever

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November 11

“When the match was lit, little did anyone know the world would change.”

It was more than another European war, rapidly escalating in size and scope. The warfare was more brutal and punishing than ever before. New, more lethal weapons were introduced. The battlefield losses and carnage were unimaginable. Grudges, hatreds and slights, real and perceived, were seemingly being settled once and for all, in unbridled violence.

Across the Atlantic, America was intent in staying neutral. Woefully unprepared, it made sense to remain neutral. While the prospect of the war arriving on America’s shores was unlikely, preparations for war, nonetheless, began quietly. Arms and munitions were manufactured. The officer ranks were surveyed for capable leaders. A more visible sign of preparing for war was the reintroduction of the draft, swelling the ranks.

The war had become one of grinding attrition, the lines largely static. Efforts to breakthrough, by either side, usually resulted in miscalculation, in turn leading to terrible losses. British forces had reached a manpower limit; French forces suffered from widespread exhaustion, which led to mutinies within their ranks. They had reached the conclusion only American intervention could save them from an outcome they hadn’t considered.

quiet solitude: the Belleau Wood Battlefield
Photo credit: US Marine Corp Europe

America’s entry changed the momentum and direction of the war. British and French, though, were reluctant to use American forces on the front lines. They saw them merely as rear echelon replacements. It was at Belleau Wood when perceptions of American forces changed. Instead of retreating, in the face of fire, as practiced by the British and French forces, the 5th and 6th Marines carried the fight into the German lines. After three weeks of brutal fighting and heavy losses, the Marines emerged victorious. They earned the respect from friend and foe alike. And, it earned them the revered moniker, “Devil Dogs”. Perspectives on Belleau Wood can be found here. Also, a clip from a historical film about Belleau Wood can be viewed here. Though a re-enactment, it is a close depiction of warfare in World War One.

At the war’s end, it was hoped that it would be “the war to end all wars”. The carnage witnessed would be the convincing argument. Differences and disputes would be resolved through a binding agreement by a world body. The force of arms would be relegated to the past. The present and the future would involve dialogue.

Several projects were commissioned for the Centenary observance of the November 11 Armistice. One is a photographic exhibit by the UK Press Association featuring colorized images after the armistice was signed. A small segment of those colorized images can be found here. A contemporary photo gallery featuring the preparations for Armistice Day can be found here.

Veterans Day

Here in America, it is Veterans Day. It honors all those who have served, and those currently in military service. The parades and thanks are appreciated. Having worn the uniform, my dad and I would say the thanks isn’t really necessary. We simply did our jobs.

Pioneer

In Colorado, one is able to plate their car from a large selection of license plates. From wildlife to outdoor sports to military recognition to the Denver Broncos or Colorado Rockies. Other specialty plates are available like antique cars, street rods and collector vehicles. Certain requirements, though, must be fulfilled with many of the specialty plates prior to receiving one.

During the 2016 session, the state legislature overhauled the license plate statute. A specialty plate would need to have 3,000 plates issued every year to avoid “retirement“. Those plates not meeting the new threshold, the sponsoring groups were notified the plates they support would be retired in 2017.

Colorado Pioneer license plate
image courtesy of Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles

One of the more popular specialty plates is the Pioneer license plate. Previously, an applicant needed to provide documentary proof indicating they were a descendant of a Colorado settler. Understanding the difficulty in gathering documents, the standard was relaxed. Providing proof would no longer be required; payment of the $50 set-up fee would be the only requirement. The relaxed requirement has not lead to a sudden uptick in Pioneer plates seen on the road.

When my dad traded his venerable 1978 Buick LeSabre Custom for a newer model car, I suggested he choose a specialty plate over the standard Colorado green and white. He would have a much larger selection than most applicants – US Army, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Korean War Veteran, Vietnam Veteran and Pioneer. Dad seemed not to be interested much by a specialty plate. He chose the Pioneer plate when he registered his car today. Dad said he liked how it looked on my Expedition.

Election Day

“A day of decision,” intoned the local newscaster, “but, first, a check of the weather.”

Before the mail-in ballot, weather on election day varied considerably. Indian summer-like weather in certain years, cold and blustery in others, and a few on the wintry side. Today, nice but warm clothing required.

Colorado blue skies

The mail-in ballot has largely made the weather a non-factor. If you did not want to spend the 85 cents in postage to mail back your ballot, polling centers have been set-up to collect completed ballots. For those who have difficulty in marking their ballots, the county does have touchscreen voting machines at a pair of their major polling centers. While a few have groused about ballot security or an illegally cast ballot, vote fraud has been exceedingly rare statewide.

The Ballot

Of the races for an elected office, fortunately we’ve been spared from having white-hot, contentious ones. Just the standard mudslinging kind. If there is one thing that unites everyone across the political spectrum, it’s the ending of the incessant stream of political ads. There have been a few instances of political ads running after the polls have closed on election night; one time, the day after the election.

before the ballot:  a late night, margarita pick ’em session on paper

Half of the ballot are the various initiatives, some from the state legislature, some from petition. The “blue book” explains the various statewide initiatives – the fine-print initiative language, pros and cons, and an impact analysis (the dollar cost or savings). We largely pass on reading the blue book. The same goes for the voting guide on local initiatives, which are largely tax and bonding issues.

What has made voting on initiatives easier is the language simplification. A “yes” vote means a vote in favor an initiative, a “no” vote means a vote against an initiative. While the language used is more straightforward, at times it has muddled the aim of an initiative. Two years ago, an amendment that would have banned slavery in all forms and circumstances, including those who have been incarcerated, failed. Another amendment to ban slavery has made it onto the ballot. The language is cleaner and straight to the point – all forms of slavery are banned.

The Trump Effect

The less said, the better. Simply, he’s unfit to be president. He would also make for a poor dogcatcher, if that is an elective office anywhere.

 

To our friends across America, please do vote. Making a difference, being that difference, matters. Though elections are mostly decided by more than one vote, there have been instances in which a coin flip, a hi-lo card draw, or a straw drawing has decided an election. Don’t let the race you care about be the one to be decided that way.

Halloween

A wind began to stir near the witching hour. It was said it would soon begin to howl. I had to hurry inside. I knew it wouldn’t be safe in the night’s darkness. Leaves, rustled by the wind, raced past my quickening pace. In the distance, a wolf’s howl. “It can’t be,” I shouted in my mind. “There are no wolves here!” The last wolf was over a hundred years ago.

I walked faster, fearing I wouldn’t make it inside. The door, finally! “Safely inside,” I said to myself.

A muffled growl came from the darkened hallway. Then, piercing, glowing eyes. I could hear its paws and claws strike the floor in every step it took. “About time you got home with the extra candy. Not a chance I was going to give my kibble to the next trick-or-treater.”

A happy, safe Halloween to all!

Anniversary

The more intimate dates within our family are remembered, celebrated for the happiness they bring. My parents’ wedding anniversary is one of those dates. Today is their 65th anniversary. Mom would say, “Sorry, I have missed this celebration and a half.” While it is bittersweet, my dad is not one for misty-eyed moments. He has remained loyal in wearing his wedding band after mom’s passing.

A baker, a lover of chocolate, mom would have loved these chocolate chip cookies. Extra rich, they are the “melt-in-your-mouth” kind. “Decadent,” mom would have proclaimed.

Our family chocolatier, Laurie, baked these late, last evening after a long day at work. They will be savored tonight after a hearty stew for dinner. A perfect dessert on a cold winter’s night.

A toast to their long marriage.

Happy Anniversary!

xoxo

Colorado In Fall: Coming Home

A warm hearth awaits, along with stories and tales to be told.

Dino and Pebbles were first, when they were baby kittens in 1989. Then, it was Egypt in 2005. On the equine front, Cara and Magician came in 2003. There’s something about October, something about the fall season, when it is time to come home.

Soon, another October addition will come.

Tara riding then two-year old Shelby (Double N Ranch, TX – May 2016)

Shelby is destined be Tara’s future show jumping horse. In the two years since Tara’s first ride with Shelby, the paint has undergone a growth spurt and now stands at 17.3 hands tall. At four years old, Nicole says he’s going to be a talented one. Shelby is jumping at the one meter level. Nicole believes his time has arrived to learn and develop with a talented rider. For Tara, Shelby reminds her so much of Jasper.

With Shelby, Tara notes, “Second chances rarely come. We’re going to make a good run at being the best.”