Thursday, October 17, 2019

Return of the Puzzle

Thanks to my dear husband and his relatively new hobby of buying music online and burning it to disc, a pleasant hobby of my own is returning.  I am a serious jigsaw puzzle addict and always have been.  This blog has seen a long post on the sister puzzle to Ruth Ray's Handsome Witch:  Copper Queen.   That post shows a pic of our puzzle collection, some 150 strong.  It also tells more about this gifted artist.

Copper Queen by Ruth Ray.   Photo'd in 2015
I quit doing puzzles several years ago, aware that I could not control stopping when I started working on them in the middle of the day.  It was a dreadful step.  I had to drop something, and puzzles and stamps, two beloved hobbies, were the least painful to drop.  For the year 2019 one of my dearest wishes was that puzzles could somehow come back again -- I had loved them so much.  The trick turned out to be George's new habit of doing exercises in the evening, to music he had himself burned to disc.  During that time I could work on a puzzle,...  if I had done my chores and errands and tack for the day.  It made for some together time.

The Reutrn of the Puzzle started a few weeks ago with a gristmill and deer scene -- appropriate for fall hunting season.
Here in central Pennsylvania there is an Amish grocery store, the next valley over, that carries puzzles.  I am well pleased to report that here at least some things don't change:  There are great new jigsaws being made out there.  Two brand names I can recommend are SunsOut and Cobble Hill.  The Gristmill puzzle, a SunsOut product, is of a painting.  It was a beautifully difficult puzzle because of the camouflage of everything.  Even the deer are of multiple shades of dark and light.  George does the edges and the easy parts, and I do the hard parts.

We know which member of the family added this one to the collection.
Chris Cummings did this particular painting.

I prefer paintings instead of photographs for puzzles.  They have so much textural detail.  My favorite jigsaws will always be the grand old Springboks of the 60s and 70s, followed by the great classic artistry of Ravensburger of Germany.
I'm still looking for an old ('vintage' is the search term) circular jigsaw of a farm scene with a huge cottonwood tree, a white horse in a pond and a pink blooming tree in the foreground.

House rules are that finished puzzles stay up for 3 days and are photographed.  After that, they return to their boxes, pieces well bagged to protect against humidity and mold.  If the box is particularly valued, the box is bagged too.

Someday I want to blog about how one Springbok puzzle inspired my TSII horse head logo.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Visiting Colonel Drake highway

Saturday I spent online, vicariously, with TJS.  Sunday I went to Colonel Drake highway, a family vacation spot.  Contrast?  You bet!  Yet I went willingly...   It's a two-hour drive one way, to the far northwest corner of Clearfield Country, up on the Allegheny Plateau.  (Sandy Ridge Road off Colonel Drake (Hwy 36), north of McGees Mills, to be specific.)  The road crosses an old reclaimed strip mine.
I took along two tack sets and four horses to shoot with my new camera, which I (obviously) needed to practice with.  My husband had his new camera too.  The weather was perfect.
Can you spot the wild ones?   I had the recently-unsold hackamore with me (shown above).  Heh, more chances to play with it.
How often have I played, really played, with my horses and tack??
I'll let the pictures do the talking.  I've shot horses in strip mines before:  Rikki's prizes
(Luckenbach standard is inspiring for such wilderness;  I must say, though, I don't feel I could ever be so detailed.)
The relationships between these horses are rather complicated.  I will say they all have long and delicious names.
Lately my horse names have increased in length, with some to 4 and even 5 syllables.  You probably know about Palatlakaha (Emerson), named after a Florida town. 
The silver bay Andalusian (Celeste) mare is Rapadura, a name for piloncillo or jaggery (dried sugar cane juice.  let's not get started on this addiction!).
The Rocket is named Alzucar (Spanish for "the sugar").
The Dundee has had a change in name, and is now called Barbahamia (ham pronounced hame).
(Barbados x Bahamas x feminine)
Photo-shopping happened to some of these, to get the colors better.
Should I shoot with his ears below the horizon (above), with ears level to my eyes,
or with ears well above the horizon?
It was harder than I'd remembered to lie on my stomach and creep around.

This shot bothered me:  It looked so plastic.  Indeed I lack dolls.  (For the record, my best one went to The Jennifer Show, so is unavailable today.)
I tried to indicate their presence in subtle ways.
 The whole look changes when you take the horizon out of the picture.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Performance Challenge horse for TJS was the same mold as my Rapadura.  I did not know!!
All unknowing, I'd been shooting and playing with her all day.  That's some vibes!!

There are limits to my new camera.  Yet I shall live with it and be happy.
My thoughts are with the model community, and hopefully future posts will comment on them.  But for now, I am refreshed from visiting the high country.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The L2 Hackamore

The story of this hackamore includes a year's wait and re-birth on the mecate's part, and then discovering a far prettier horse for it than I had built it for.  But that's how it goes!

This Hackamore is up for auction on Model Horse Place.  It closes Sept 13th.  My reserve is $300.00.  Here's a link: Timaru Star II Hackamore

 I set out to make a stunning Bosal Hackamore for Dundee, whom I had secured at BreyerFest;  he inspired me tremendously, as models sometimes do.  I wanted to do braidwork for him.  I had a mecate on hand.  Finishing the hackamore took a month --  finishing the mecate, which had to be reworked three times, a record, actually took a year -- and I struggled with the fact that both the browband and the bosal turned out a bit large for Dundee (though still fitting him).  Casting around in the herd, I tried it on Quill.  KaBAMM!  Lovely nick!!  I had NO idea it would look so good on him!  This horse, who doesn't even have his own name yet, stole the show.
So, model peeps, I present my dilemma.  Do I apologize that this piece didn't quite come out as I intended?  Or do I rejoice that it seems to've found a most beautiful match?  Do I fret that the auction timing is overlapping with The Jennifer Show?   Or is this a chance for everybody who is not attending TJS to obtain a gorgeous piece of TSII tack?  Of course, attendees could bid anyway, if they so desired.
I'm going to try the happier path...

The story begins a year ago, in September of 2018, when I undertook a short order (it was a mecate) for a longtime performance shower.  We shall call her L (my vet friend is deeply into Superman, so think Lois Lane).  My first mecate turned out too short for her taste, so I made another.  (That was the year of the Roby Canyon Hackamore, and I was into mecates.)  Thus was born L1 and L2.
L2 (left) and L1 (right)
I sold L1 nicely (thanks Beth!) and thought the case closed.
Not so.

L put the mecate on an existing piece of headgear.  Somehow - I can guess how - it got untwisted a little, and apparently pressed the wrong way.  One strand loosened and the inner core peeped out.
Which was bound to happen sooner or later, although this was the first time in 24 mecates that a customer had reported it.  I understand, as no one else can, how delicate these ropes are.  Untwist enough, stress them enough in a small enough spot at a certain angle, and sometimes bad things start to happen.  Literally, this was a hernia:  painful and unsightly but not serious.

Wisely, the owner decided it could only be fixed in the shop that had created it, and early in 2019 the L2 mecate came back home.  (A truly great mercy was that she didn't need it til Sept.)  For reasons I can't quite explain, I chose to make a third mecate, and L3 was born.  During its creation I learned more about preventing such hernias; 'stripping' or stroking the rope multiple times during spinning seemed to help.  The owner was happy with L3.  After BFest I turned to retightening the spin on L2.  But, alas, my attempts just made things worse, as sometimes happens.  That's how it goes.
Yes, I am hestitating to show this!  Note not signed...
In the end I had no choice but to take off the end tassel knot, unspin the rope down to the strands (not the threads) and start again.
I thought this might make a blog post of itself: the respinning of a TSII mecate.  I took pictures of the removal of the tassel end.  But then I started getting swept away by sheer creation, and stopped shooting and just kept spinning.   That's how it goes!   L2 had also had to be respun back in 2018...  I'm so astonished the thread has held up!!  The lovely rope, 30" long, was finished Sept 1st, and as it happened, that same day brought me my new camera.  My old one had died a week previous.  What delightful timing...
The main difference to the new L2 is the addition of a 2nd interweave in the tassel button (hard to see in this shot).  And I think it's better spun.

Now I plowed ahead with the bosal, the headstall having been finished August 17th.  I tell everyone bosals take me 3 days,... but this one took four (Sept 1 - 4).  I guess I'm getting older.
The nosebutton foundation is my standard 3 bight - god-knows-how-many parts, probably 13.  The 10 interweaves were put in in two overlapping groups of 5, one from each direction.
Almost there:  Just prior to cutting off the cores and putting in the heel concho.
And now for the fun part.

Dundee, known as Barbados in my herd, models what was to have been just for him.  It does fit him, but I worry about that browband.  And look at the extra turns of mecate I had to take under the jaw.
The length of mecate, on the other hand, was fine.
Here's another long horse that looks surprisingly good with the L2 Hackamore.  The saddle is by Evelyn Munday.
 This is a nearly unique viewpoint:  Straight into the face, right beween the eyes!!  But it shows the braidwork well.
I really like this portrait.  I kind of hate to admit I didn't like this mold for a long time.  This is the first one I've owned (thanks Eleanor!).
At the end, Quill, the one we started with.  The pictures don't do him justice.  The hackamore looks lovely on him.
The metallicism!

Happy bidding!!

I have at least three other blog subjects pent up, 'standing at the gate shuffling their feet,' so stay tuned.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Black Beauty vs. RCMP

I thought a comparison between the two recent black releases of the Classic Stock Horse Gelding (aka Liam) would be of interest.  Indoors they certainly look alike!  But there is more of a difference between Black Beauty and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police horse than just the number of socks.
Take them outside and the differences become much more obvious.  These shots were taken on an overcast day in the afternoon and then darkened with PhotoShop, because my camera overexposed them...  ggrrrr...  Their socks are still washed out.  But you get the idea.  Black Beauty is basically a grey black, while the RCMP pony is actually a very dark bay.

I don't have more than one RCMP to look at, so I'm unable to tell whether his star is supposed to be a Maple Leaf.  It would be entirely in character if it were!  However, if you study the Maple Leaf on his rump (below) ... you'll see this star is rather wide of that mark.

I went to BreyerFest this year intending to see the Royal Canadian Mounties perform.  I had seen them once before, at Penn National (thank you Didi!) and they were spectacular.  Unforgettable!  As it happened, however, during BreyerFest other issues came to be more important that night and the logistics defeated my plan.  When I spotted the RCMP pony next day, in person, and discovered he really was 'not just another black,' I had several reasons to buy.  Yes, the price was steep; but this money is doubtless going to support the RCMP.

I had difficulty sticking to what RCMP stood for;  I kept wanting to say "Rocky Mountain National Park."  For someone who grew up in Boulder CO, ... and who once wrote a  college paper on re-introducing the gray wolf to RMNP ... this was a natural thing to do.   I said Rocky once too often, and realized I'd named my horse.
The Black Beauty was named Stowaway earlier this year, when he sneaked out West with Palatlakaha and the other trip horses.

I mentioned I conga this mold.  It was sculpted by Sommer Prosser.

If logic and known history ruled, you'd think I'd get the palomino, the only current color missing.  (I consider super-rares, i.e. glossy Liam, bay, etc. as not possible.)  For reasons hard to explain, I don't want him.  Probably because I've so heavily invested in other palominos... not just my Stablemates but Parade horses... it seems like a balancing thing.  I appear to have a few irrationalities.
It is a fairly easy mold to conga, new (released in plastic in 2014) and with relatively few colors.  The hardest one to acquire is the Let's Celebrate candy-deco colourway (2014) (350 made).  Gato (buckskin) (2016, 1000) and the appaloosa (gotten at TSC, 2016) would be the next hardest.

Data from ID Your Breyer (thank you Janice!).

SPEAKING of IDYB, here's a handy reference list.  I got this idea when I realized, after much looking, that "Emerson starts with an 'S!' "  Feeling a terrible need, I came up with this.  Feel free to copy and use.

Brishen (Laredo) =  G  (Gypsy Vanner)
Bobby Jo =  W  (Working Cow Horse)
Cadell =  W  (Welsh Foal)
Carina =  P  (Performance Lippizaner Mare)
Carrick =  W  (Walking Thoroughbred)
Corazon (Fantasia Del C) =  A  (Andalusian Mare)
Duende =  S  (Spanish Stallion)
Dundee =  A  (Australian Stock Horse)
Emerson =  S  (Standing Thoroughbred)
Forever Saige =  M  (Mustang Mare)
Gozosa (Hermosa) =  A  (Andalusian Foal)
Harley D Zip =  L  (Loping Quarter Horse)
Idocus (Snowman) =  W  (Warmblood Stallion)
Liam (Classic scale) =  S  (Stock Horse Gelding)
Rejoice =  N  (National Show Horse)
Rhian =  W  (Welsh Mare)
Selene (Pim) =  L  (Lippizaner Foal)
True North =  C  (Cantering Warmblood
Weather Girl =  T  (Trotting Arabian Mare)
Wyatt =  G  (Gaming Stock Horse)
Yasmin =  S  (Shagya Arabian)

Happy Collecting!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

A Driving Adventure

For me, the 1st Annual PA Model Meet Up was very nearly a clusterfail.  If not for a brilliant  navigator and long-haul friend, several hours of patience, and a bit of luck, I never would have found them at all.  Heaven knows what I would've done left to my own devices.  Cried a lot harder, I suppose -- as it was I cried a teeny bit.  I find disappointed hopes to be very bitter.  Fortunately for me, they are very rare as well.   When the whole day was finally over and we were back safe in our own driveway, my husband Geo said, "What did you call it?  A Clusterpickle?"  and I laughed so hard I knew I was recovered.  A family phrase was born.

The story began with a FB post on Region 9 Group.  A First Annual Model Meet Up, also called PA Model Meetup, was proposed in York, about 2 1/2 hours south.  It sounded wonderful:  an open-air backyard model show with vendor booths surrounding.  The timing was very good, a month after BreyerFest, when my interest was rebounding and I had plenty of horses to sell.  As for the weather, it was nothing less than perfect.  Geo wanted to go on an expedition, as we do most weekends, but not on such a long canoeing one as we'd been doing lately.  When I tentatively spoke of the Meet Up, he was enthusiastic.
Academy-Pomeroy Covered Bridge, near Carlyle, PA
"I'll read Herodotus in the shade while you're yapping, and about 3 we'll head back home with a long scenic drive up 94," he proposed.  "There's even a covered bridge!"  Long scenic drives are famous in my family and he pulls them off with great flair.  I prepared both lunch and dinner in advance; we would use the big cooler.  I packed the night before.  Two card tables, a chair, two serapes (one for tablecloth, one to sit on), ALL my sales horses -- the large monitor-case-ful leftover from BF and the 3 mint-in-box ones, plus the 30th-Anniv. Stablemates box,--- went in back.  I also took my current tack project in the Orange Tackle Box (I had barely made the headstall in time, so as to braid buttons during the day), my showkit (for emergency tack repairs), music CDs, and a show-off horse of my own.  It was this last I posted about on my own FaceBook.  Only the headstall-making prevented me from posting that I would be offering tack repair.  In hindsight, that was a blessing...
Back seat, photo taken at end of day, August 10
We took the Gazetteer, as we always do on road trips.  He took his GPS.  And I took my new laptop, something Geo warned me about ("Don't let anyone steal it!") but it's so new a toy it was still 'fresh,' and because I had dim ideas of it assisting some Guide sales.  I took my jump drive, my Guide disks (and Tutorial disks, and even the Best Of disks):  items which I've had hanging around for years, but which no one ever seems to want.  Old tech!!

I didn't want to show, but I did want to vend, so I'd sent in my $5 vendor's fee (July 30).  I printed out 3 pages.   Two were maps and 1 was the first page of the classlist, which had the address and contact information.   I went over with Geo how to get there.  Having entered "York Camp Security Park" in Google,  I discovered a lovely open field with a gravel parking lot.  The location seemed so perfect for the Meet Up that it never occurred to me that wasn't the place.
Photo taken of rear of car at end of day, Aug 10
I followed Meet Up news on Region 9's FaceBook page.  Since I wasn't entering the show, it didn't occur to me to visit the show's page.  It also never occurred to me that there was a second page beyond the show page:  a Group just for the Meet Up.  I noted who would be there that I knew, and even posted that my famous saddle, the Elk, would be there.  The stage was set.
We left around 8:30am:  oldsters must have their breakfasts.  My flawless navigator delivered us to where I said to go at 10:45.

And there was nobody there.

Not one table of ponies.  Not one car with a horsey bumper-sticker.  No signs directing us that the venue might have changed.  Just a couple of moms and their kids on the swings.

And just like that, I was in another universe, with all my perfect preparations and plans blown to smithereens... having to recover whilst in motion, balancing everything with a partner, hundreds of miles from home, without a smartphone.  We don't have them, although we do have cell phones.  For the first time I saw the address on my printout, 137 Eastern Boulevard.  Geo seized upon this evidence, and for the next 3 hours we tried to find it.

We drove all over York.  Discovering we were at 3600-something, logic dictated we head back west along Eastern Blvd.  We covered the whole of that Boulevard, all the way into town -- into such quarters as he (and me) would never feel comfy visiting.  Eastern Boulevard ended around 1700.  There was no lower block of it.  There was no phone number I could call.  I wondered if someone had got the date wrong.  At one point we went back to Camp Security -- and found a large birthday party in full swing!  A carful of pink balloons had been delivered!  I really wanted to congratulate my hostess on those balloons...

Finally in desperation we went back to the Turkey Hill gas station we had located when we'd first set this up -- it was the closest bathroom to Camp Security Park.  I went in hunting for a map.  I came out with a kind clerk's smartphone help, having located 137 Eastern Blvd precisely where we'd first looked.
Taken from Google Maps
At last, after eating lunch in our car (it was around 11:30), one of us got the idea to find a McDonald's and use what we knew to be free WiFi, open up my laptop and look up the FaceBook group.  My husband hates Facebook, but it was clear we needed it.  Good thing I'd brought my new toy!  and that it was charged up!!  Alas, the Turkey Hill did not have WiFi...

It took a while to find a McDonald's; at that point he had given up and I very nearly had.  When we did, we were in for another shock.  The screen showed a FBk I had never seen before.  There were no pictures, only links along the left side.  It was eerie and very strange.  This part of my story I can only explain by comparing it to a nursing-home's computer: probably restricted-bandwidth packets.

The laptop was on his lap, since I was driving (I drove nearly all this day.  I'm a better driver, he's the better navigator.).  Acting on his own, he tried to get Google maps, and succeeded.  With this small encouragement, he then brilliantly asked Google for the "true name" of the show.

And there it was.  Two addresses instead of one:  What we'd been missing.  I wrote it on the map (6th photo, above).  Instantly he found the new location:  Rocky Ridge Park off Deininger Road.  It was north of State Highway 30, the exact same spot as Camp Security had been to the south -- almost as if the 2 locations had been flopped.  It was now about 1:30.  I had to decide whether to pursue my shattered wishes.  I chose to attempt.
Photo taken in my backyard, Sunday, the next day, August 11

Back through York we went.  It was easy to find Rocky Ridge Park but hellish to locate the Meet Up within the Park.  Inside the entrance were 3 driveways -- but no signs.  At random I chose the central and we drove to its end, what seemed a mile, then turned around and went back to the entrance, checking out at least one populated pavilion on the way.  (Bathrooms are necessary for oldsters.)  North driveway?  Nope.  South?  YES.  It was 1:55...
Photo taken in my backyard, Sunday the 11th
To honor the 3:00 departure I had one hour.  It was not worth while to set up tables and lay out ponies (although one person encouraged me, bless her heart).  Most of the folk I had come to see were gone; the show was in its last classes.  My burning question was when, and where, the change of venue had been posted.  Geo didn't trust himself to ask and went off on a hike.  There then occurred one of those magical transformations wherein a burning frustration is tempered into gentle inquisitiveness by personal contact.  The hostess defended graciously, honestly and openly:  The change had been posted in 4 places over the past week.  The fault, well and truly, was my own.
Photo taken in my backyard, Sunday 11th, next day
Business was conducted, networking occurred.  Admiration of new models happened.  Best of all, the old-timer network provided me with sympathetic friends.  Truly when one is recognized, all is made right, and things come back into balance.  Gradually I calmed down, and began to very much enjoy myself.  I was stunned at some of the Stones I was seeing.  How does rural central PA support such a number of Bunnies!?  Rainbow Zebras, CM Unicorn foals in Decorator colors.  I got to pick up a Benasque!  I found myself yearning after Stone's giant new Warmblood.  The show even had an announcer-at-large.  It all looked like a success.
Taken in my backyard, Sunday the 11th
Much later, Geo would ask me both what he could have done better (oh! the calibre of that man), and what I could generalize from all this.  There's no denying this was a huge kick in the pants for me to consider having a smartphone.  But constantly checking FaceBook is not how I choose to live my life...  I already have 4 phone accounts:  a landline, a dial-around long distance and 2 cell phones.  I was on the brink of phoning a model friend (apparently my own response being to fall back one level of technology) when he and Google saved the day.

Tiny clues it wasn't my fault:  Multiple FBk pages for the same event.  Lack of a redirecting sign at Camp Security.  Lack of signs at the entrance to Rocky Ridge Park.
Tiny clues I should have caught:  Inaugural events have a higher chance of changing something.  The event had two names.  FBk groups are so easy to create.  There wasn't more discussion about the Meet on Region 9.  The street number of 137 matched so badly with the other street numbers in the area (3600).  There was no acknowledgement of my $5 donation.
Taken in my back yard, Sunday 11th, the next day
From 3:15 to 8:30pm the two of us drove across the length and breadth of a beautiful land, passing orchards, pastures, farms and fields.  Thirty to 236 to 74 to 94 to 322 and home.  I saw gorgeous horses and stunning vistas, and whole counties of cherry, apple, peach and nectarine trees.  We went for a hike.  We found the state's longest covered bridge, beautifully restored, and here I had my picture taken:  At long last, as promised, the Elk saddle was on display!!!  The next morning, in a fit of determination, I set up my tables and serape and pulled out all my stuff and shot it in my own backyard.  And that is what you're looking at here.  Make an offer.

Next year Meet Up?  It was such a good idea.  Give me some time.