Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Day at the Races

The email came on Friday. "Do you know what the driving time is between Seattle and Portland?" My friend on Vancouver Island, it turns out, had a horse racing on Sunday at Portland Meadows. This is one of my Pyr list friends, we hadn't actually met. She asked to come see my dogs and their charges, and I asked if I could join her at the races. 

Meeting her was the beginning of a wonderful day. We got to know each other over coffee and cakes, and then drove down to Portland Meadows, where we met her trainer and headed to the barns to see her horse Diva. 

Back when I was in college a friend gave me a book on handicapping, which started a couple years of learning about horse racing and making a few trips to Longacres. My betting was mostly on paper, as I'm not one to risk my hard earned cash, but I did well in theory and I certainly enjoyed the strategies, and following horses and trainers and jockeys. 

Going to the barns was a whole different world. I kept thinking I'd stepped into a Dick Francis novel, without the crime. Besides the trainer, I got to meet the grooms, the exercise rider, the jockey, and of course the horses. Beautifully cared for, contented horses. The trainer is having a good run at the Meadows, winning respect as well as races. This doesn't surprise me, she and her team take such good care of the horses, know them all so well, treat them so well, I understand why the horses run their hearts out for them. 

Lucy had been promised a goat if she won her race, which explained the goat tied outside the stall. The horse on the other side seemed to think he'd been brought for her; both spent much time watching the very fat goat laying on his bed of straw and hay.

It was so interesting seeing the pre-race activities, walking across the tracks to the stands, watching the horses paddocked (where they are saddled and kept before post time), and then walked out to the gate. I love getting peaks into other worlds, seeing the behind-the-scenes activities.

To make this day perfect, Diva won her race. This was particularly great since my friend bred this horse, her dam, and her dam's dam. It's much more exciting watching a race with the owner, trainer, and training team. They were all so very delighted she'd won. As was I.

Racing photos by Reed Palmer Photography

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Beauty After the Storm

From long experience living in the Northwest, when the rains begin in October or November, I always worry that they will forget to stop. A brilliant sunrise is such a delight - clouds are thin enough in the sky to allow the sun to break through. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rivers in the Sky

I've been reading about atmospheric rivers. These are enormous channels of moisture-laden air picked up in the mid-latitudes, concentrated into the channels by cold fronts, and transported by strong winds towards the poles. Occasionally a river is formed from water picked up in the tropics. The tropics, as we know, has lots of water. These tropical atmospheric rivers get pushed ahead of tropical storms, which are also heading out at high speeds. One such tropical river begins around Hawai'i and flows in a northwesterly direction towards North America, where it bumps into mountains. The mountains divert the flow upwards. Up air is cooler than down air, so as this river in the air flows up the mountains the moisture condenses and flows back down as rain.

Which explains why the sky has become a river, flowing down from the heavens in a steady stream and flooding the earth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Cats

Cats are much more difficult to switch to raw food than dogs. They are fussy eaters, and will pick and choose which of the foods offered they will eat. Until Rad Cat.  This Portland company makes nutritionally complete raw foods for cats, packed in tubs. I have 5 cats purring praises, eating every scrap of what I give them. I feel much better feeding my obligate carnivores meat instead of grain, and Rad Cat seems to be getting 4 paws up. It's also easy to store and easy to feed. 

The only problem with raw feeding is that now I need another freezer and another fridge.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Autumn Brilliance

The Pacific Northwest is not know for fall colors. Most of the native deciduous trees turn yellow, only a few going red. And, of course, most trees are evergreen conifers.

I am partial to the effect created by the dark, stately evergreen backdrop, setting off the bright yellow and occasional red. This year was exceptional. It got cold early, and we didn't have driving rain and winds knocking off the leaves.

Another unusual aspect this year was a number of clear, sunny days, providing a blue background instead of the more common grey.

The broadleaf trees embraced the sun, returned the glow, providing brilliant points of sunlight from the woods. Gold fire amidst the green caught first the eyes, and then the breath.