Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Florida 8 and the Econlockhatchee

 I promised a post on our 2015 Florida trip and its horses.  Here are the eight (!) who came along, plus a few shots of Riverfront Property (Quelle Surprise in matt app) on the Econlockhatchee River, and then two of just the river.  I have more post subjects than I can keep up with! but we'll start here.  Riverfront's performance is becoming standard (we have seen him before; he was featured in my Christmas letter).  The CollectAs, on the other hand, surprised me at every turn.  These few pictures, taken after we got home, do not do justice to the new patterns and unexpected behaviours being laid down by them, my latest obsession...

I blame Margaret for my involvement with CollectAs.  This is her eBay store:  The-Grey-Woods-Cat   She is a neighbor who happens to've sold me all my CollectAs.  (We met over the matter of a Breyer moose off eBay.)  I wanted a grey driving pony; when I saw the grey Hanoverian stallion (below), I knew I had found him.
 I now have a dozen CollectAs, but the Florida 8 contained only three.  "The Florida 8" refers to the eight models I took with me to Florida this past holiday season.   Wittingly, or... not... 

I could also point to new stable blankets, but alas this subject needs to wait and have a dedicated post later.  Suffice to say that I haven't yet found a source of blankets to really fit CollectAs -- faugh -- so, come on hobbyists!
 Since time immemorial I have taken 2, occasionally 3, Traditional scale models with me on road trips.  This has necessitated taking 2 Stone Horses boxes stuffed into the middle of the back seat.  Space is at a premium on trips.  This past Christmas, bowing to a pressure more felt than seen, I changed my mind and took only one Stone box.  If you line them up just right, a Trad like Riverfront and a pony like Versalox (above) can fit inside together.  The space savings inside the car was surprisingly wonderful!! and highly praised.  Three CollectAs, plus a Classic foal (one of my congas is Classic Foal molds), squeezed themselves into 3 small pony pockets. Thank you Lori B. for inventing pony pockets!!  I could stow these somewhere else entirely -- in my backpack -- and that made all the difference.  Light weight, no bulk, no worries about breakage.  New ease in slapping them onto dressers and refrigerators at night, new speed in packing up in mornings, new ideas for tack all came along with them.  A herd within a herd, they exchanged blankets and pockets with elan.  I've got to find a wife for Graf the grey...  So that accounts for 6 of the eight.  Never before had I taken so many horses on a trip!  But there was more to come.

I also took my blanket kit box.  Readers will remember my post on making cross stitch saddle blankets:  Blanket Kit
 Somewhere in the course of the trip, I opened it up and was utterly astonished to discover two MORE stowaways!!!  The second one (small black colt) is nestling just at the bottom of the plier handle.
 I'm not normally a chinahead, but I collected these little Bone Chinas when I was a kid.  I have about two dozen stashed away or standing on the curio shelves in the downstairs bathroom.
Talk about being nonplussed.  Whether I'd picked these up at BreyerFest (already broken) and placed them in the blanket kit box for safekeeping (being a handy hardshell case); or whether I'd packed 2 of my own to take to Didi's show and have a fellow artist/remaker repair them... I couldn't remember.  Up until now I didn't know.  But now that I'm staring at them, I'm pretty sure it was the former.  I already have 2 of the black foal.  One of them is in one of the greatest model horse stories I've ever experienced, a tale across time... but again, alas let's wait and dedicate later!!

So there's my Florida 8:
Riverfront Property  Quelle Surprise in matte bay appaloosa
Versalox who's already had her own post Sergeant Reckless  and whose husband is named Siltsox Siltsox in Ironton
Azucar the Knabstrupper mare (Spanish for sugar)
Skyrie Alaqu the bay Andalusian stallion (his name is an anagram of Squeaky Rail, a restaurant near the hotel I stayed at for Didi's show)
Graf the grey Hanoverian
Jasper the Classic Foal  (he came on the trip hoping to find a name, which my husband bestowed upon hearing his name used to be Banff)
Bay Bone China stallion
Black Bone China foal

They didn't all get canoe rides. : )  That privilege goes to horses that float, or, in the case of CollectAs, horses that are replaceable.  In all cases they have to be in a pony pocket.
 The Econlockhatchee River is in northern Florida, flowing into the mighty St John's.  It is a great attraction to airboats.  The airboats explain the jury-rigged flag on the canoe.
Like many waterborne horses, Riverfront looks for firm ground when he finally comes ashore.
Firm ground not being in the offing, he likes to try climbing trees.
Not bad.
Once he's got his land legs back, he's willing to wander along the shore.
Methinks this horse has got the right name.
The little black dots on the sand are snails.
But all too soon it's back on the water.
These cypress roots are a somewhat unusual sight.  The soil has washed out from around them and they stand exposed in all their wacky, writhing glory.
The Econlockhatchee was one of our favorites, and we'll be back.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sergeant Reckless

A wonderful thing happened on the way to Florida...  We visited the National Marine Corps Museum! in Virginia (Dec 19).  It's absolutely free, there's plenty of parking and it's open every day except Christmas.  [Ahem: Closed thru March 2016, to hang a Dauntless.]  Once we drove in the main entrance, we turned hard left and went up a gentle hill.
It was a snapping cold day and we had the place to ourselves.  In this opening shot there is a great deal: the stone walls, the top of the museum just showing through the leafless trees -- it looks like a strange upside-down funnel -- and, just in front of it here, a stone plinth with a statue.  I for one was pleasantly surprised.
I had not expected dogs here, let alone such noble depictions of them.  I'm sorry to say I don't know the sculptor/sculptress of this bronze beauty.
What a great honor guard!
This lovely animal certainly set the tone of our visit.
He is forever on guard, in a most appropriate spot.
There was another dog statue not far away.  (Museum roof in background.)
There is that in me which can freely admire these magnificent animals.  My husband is deeply afraid of them, and as a result I have almost no contact with the real thing.  Yet this amazing guardian struck me as very realistic.
Two dogs down, we wandered slowly along the forested walk.   Everywhere were monuments, obelisks, tombstones and statues of soldiers and the gear of war.  The very bricks lining the walk had names on them.  I kept looking around.  I had tried very hard to locate exactly where on the grounds the famous statue of Sergeant Reckless was, but without success.  We walked for what seemed a couple of furlongs... it was very cold.
 In the same quadrant as Caesar the dog was a stone chapel and a ship's bell.  I was pleased by the bell but did not dare ring it!  Solemnity is easier when it's cold...
There is another connection in my life with the Marines:  the band.  (I was a music major, trombone.)  Coming round another corner I spotted a musician's memorial.  Again I was pleasantly surprised...  (and this was before I got inside, where I discovered much MUCH more about the Marine Band.  But I digress.)
Where the dickens was that horse??!!!?  It was cold... and we'd almost reached the point where we could see everything there was to see on this walk.  She had to be here!  And then it happened:  a quick glimpse of a distant shape and suddenly I felt warm.
(I struggled with this one in PhotoShop.)
There!  In the distance, down by the road.

With success sure, I settled down to enjoy the rest of our outdoor walk.  I was seeing things I hadn't known existed, such as methods for engraving marble that looked for all the world like photo-transfers.
The Museum is in the midst of installing 9-11 memorials.  Here is one of them, containing actual material from the site:
In such a place, surrounded by monuments and tombstones, by memories and history and deeds, it helps to 'focus down' on just a few.  "Find yourself some words and take 'em home."  One of my favorites was this 1967-1968 stone.
I would have changed the wording a tiny bit (pass instead of pass on, to eliminate the double on) but it certainly works as is.
Finally in the right frame of mind, I stood in front of it and turned to the right.  And there she was.
It was a good setting and a good preparing, all those monuments.  She is solemn, herself a memorial.  The whole place is a temple, an outdoor temple, something I had only read about up to this point.
Big as life!  a good deal larger.
The lighting was excellent.  As a photographer, I struggled to keep my batteries warm.
Of course Versalox was having the time of her life.  Every model in my herd -- if they are lucky -- gets one moment -- an encounter, an episode -- that defines them forever.  This was hers.
 I had read the book, and knew that the author, Robin L. Hutton, had scratched her initials on the statue close to the near hind hoof during the wax stage.  I found them.  (Just below Versalox' front feet, with a heart.)
People (not me) had laid roses on this bronze.
The sculptress is Jocelyn Russell.
I have mentioned the light.  I couldn't help but notice that the shadow of Reckless was tremendously photogenic.  Time was passing, the light was changing, and everybody wanted to get inside where it was warm.  But this chance was perfect and I could not pass it up.  "Paso Por Aqui" -- passed by here -- So this is my triple portrait of the three of us:
Taken twice because both angles were good.
Rest in peace, my lady.

Oh and it was a GREAT museum - !!  Everybody ought to go to this one:  it's absolutely free, there's plenty of parking and it's open every day except Christmas [but closed thru March 2016 to hang that Dauntless]...