Monday, April 30, 2007


What's up with the title of today's post? Eleven point two? What's that? That, m'dear, is the gas mileage of the Suburban while pulling the horse trailer. Thanks, Mr. OPEC, for these lovely gas prices. Oh well.....

We traveled this morning to a little town near False River for a horse show. The last show here was obscenely cold for Louisiana just three weeks ago. Today it was unbearably hot. Typical Louisiana weather.

Here is Morgan saddling her horse. It tickles me how she puts her foot on Punkin's side in order to be able to tighten the girth.

Punkin is a perfect horse for Morgan - she is so docile and easy-going. She'll bend her head down for Morgan to put on her bridle or halter. Morgan can ride her bareback, lying flat on her back, not holding onto the reins, and Punkin looks for all the world like she is walking on eggshells.

But put her in the arena, and she sure does fly for an old horse!

Here's Brooke and Honeybee, getting all ready to ride. Brooke is putting on Honeybee's tie-down, which prevents her from throwing her head around if she gets excited. Both girls ride with tie-downs. They help the horses to balance and for stops and turns.
Two sweet honeybees, ready to compete!
Here is Brooke going to the second barrel of her run. She is kissing to her horse to let her know to slow down and get ready for the turn. Different racers say or do different things to signal their horses - some kiss, some shush, some use different words. Brooke kisses to make her get around the barrels (or poles) and she yells, "C'mon!" when she rounds the last barrel (or pole) and heads to the gate.

Hurray for Brooke! First place in Junior Pole Bending!

And hurray for Morgan! Second place in Junior Pole Bending! Those Connelly girls sure cleaned up with the money! And Mama got paid back for entry fees!

The place where we were is in Pointe Coupee Parish, a little place just steeped in history. Here's the story and it tells why it is called "False River."

French Canadian, Sieur d'Iberville, and his brother, Sieur d'Bienville, set sail from La Rochelle, France September 1698 to explore the lower Mississippi River and establish a colony for King Louis XIV. The expedition discovered a point where the meandering river doubled back on itself, forming a huge oxbow lake. The party went ashore and Iberville's Indian guides led him along a six foot wide stream through the dense forest. Stepping out of the woods, the explorer was amazed to find himself once again standing on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was like a secret passage - a short cut that saved them a distance of ten leagues (30 miles) which is quite a savings when paddling upstream. The small stream Iberville had followed was nature's way of finding a shorter distance between two points.

Eventually, the small stream widened to become the main riverbed and both ends of the giant oxbow slowly filled in, forming a 22 mile long lake, one of our four "Rivers". This lake was called Fausse Riviere or False River and the cut point across which the Mississippi River now flowed became known as Pointe Coupee. Whether the name Pointe Coupee (French for "cut point") stemmed from the act of Iberville's portage or that the Mississippi's gradual adoption of the portage as its main channel has long been debated.

Because it is in the heart of Creole French plantation country with rich soil, there were many tobacco and indigo plantations in the 1700's and 1800's. Now they grow soybeans and sugar cane and some of the plantation homes (albeit small ones - not enormous, wealthy plantations) still stand, along with other architecture that reminds one of the pre-Civil War south....

This is a small slave cabin that is along one of the main roads. It doesn't appear to be inhabited now, but someone lived there in the not to distant past - there is an electric meter pan on the side of the house. There would likely have been two families living in this one small cabin (see the two doors). Typically, the interior walls would have been papered with newspapers and pages from mail-order catalogs that were passed on from the Big House (which no longer exists ironically - there are two small slave cabins, but the plantation is no more - or either the cabins were moved here from their original sites).

While my heart breaks to think of the plight of the original occupants of this small cabin, it also reminds me of the many poorer people in large cities like London or New York, who would have thought this a fine place to live. Truly they were slaves as well - enslaved by their station in life or their nationality or simply by circumstance. We have been reading in our history about slavery in the south, but also about the indigent population in the larger cities and the numerous homeless and abandoned children. No wonder the West held such appeal - the chance to escape the chains of slavery that for some were visible and some invisible.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Celtic Woman

As a Christmas stocking surprise, the girls and I received tickets to the Celtic Woman concert in Baton Rouge from Steve. (He bought a ticket for himself as well.) He and the girls had discovered Celtic Woman on the public broadcasting station and enjoyed them greatly - especially Steve and Brooke (who added their songs to her iPod).

The southeast corner of the Old State Capital - aka "the back side" - the piping processional came out the backdoor

We arrived early for the concert and, while Steve parked, the girls and I checked to see if we could sneak a bite at a nearby restaurant. Unfortunately, they had a long waiting list because of the concert and many prom-goers. So we walked from the restaurant to the concert hall, passing the Old State Capital as we went. (If you follow the Old State Capital link, you can take a virtual tour of this impressive Gothic castle.)

The south side of the Old State Capital

I love this old building - here is a picture of the south side - I love the light from the setting sun coming across. There was evidently some sort of Celtic event in the Old State Capital (that I wish we had known about) that was winding down as we passed.

We were able to watch them proceed out of the Capital and around the fountains and listen to some of the piping. Steve identified the pipers and drummers as members of the Baton Rouge Celtic Society where he used to take bagpipe lessons. (And, no, he never progressed passed the "practice chanter" stage, so we don't own a set of pipes.)

The concert was FABULOUS!!! Probably the worst thing would be the obnoxious couple over my left shoulder - why people purchase expensive concert tickets only to talk and rifle through paper bags during the show is beyond my comprehension. Even my children were glaring at them - and the three-year-old little girl who sat two rows in front of us was quieter and better behaved. I was disappointed that photography wasn't allowed - I could have forgone the flash - so we have no photos from the concert.

Brooke & Steve - sorry it's blurry - the camera kept focusing on the glass behind them

Because I had a craft show all today, and because Steve had to work, we weren't able to eat before the concert. So we walked to the Shaw Center for the Arts, up to the sixth floor, to eat at Tsunami's, our very favorite sushi restaurant that overlooks the Mississippi River. Our picks for tonight: Brooke - Roll Tide Roll; Steve - Cucumber Wrap; Ginger - Tiger Tail Roll; Morgan - Dynamite Roll. Boy, was Morgan's choice SPICY!!! But good - I think it was probably my favorite!

Morgan's Dynamite Roll in front, my Tiger Tail Roll in back - Morgan's chopsticks are impatiently waiting for me to snap the picture

I enjoyed a pot of rare White Peony tea. But (because it's not served with anything to sweeten it) no one else likes it. What a shame - I had to drink it all by myself. :^D Then Morgan and I shared Chicken Teriyaki and Steve had the Petite Filet. Of course, we had to finish off with a Tsinful Chocolate Tsunami, a very dark chocolately lava-type cake with vanilla bean ice cream, dark chocolate sauce, and a sprinkling of fresh assorted berries. Very rich, but very good!

Morgan & Ginger

All in all, a good night out!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bathroom Invasions!

Some of my homeschooling friends on SHS have mentioned having invasions of ants in their bathrooms. While I have had invasions of ants in my bathroom before - and invasions of silver fish - and invasions of earwigs - today I found an invasion of a different sort......

an invasion of CATS!!!

Stewart invaded the sink - Libby invaded the lavatory - and KitKat (who is doing much better - thanks to all for asking about her) invaded the fuzzy bathmat.

While I will see an occasional kitty in the bathroom, this was definitely a mass cat invasion of unprecedented proportions worthy of photo documentation. :^D

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Beautiful Weather

My sweet Morgan.

We have had some GORGEOUS weather lately. And Brooke has been having a ball with the camera. I love this picture of the mockingbird that she took.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


My girls love to ride bareback. They had me ride bareback for the first time and, boy, were my legs killing me after just one time around the arena. I guess I'm just old! And here is Brooke loping bareback! I'd fall off for sure!

Morgan would rather ride bareback than with a saddle. I think Punkin likes it better, too.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Feeling a Little Squirrely?

Isn't this little guy just adorable? Don't you think he is actually posing for the camera? He reminds me of the little gray squirrel we raised about five years ago, Chatter. We found him in the middle of the road on our way to Homeschool PE class at the YMCA. He was just a young little thing, but we raised him until he was old enough and strong enough to be released, then let him go in our front yard.

And he's off!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Babies, Babies Everywhere!

Spring is the season for new babies and our barn is no exception. Here's "Take Me" with her new baby, just born last night. The baby has a little crescent moon on her forehead, so we've been calling her "Little Luna."
Okay, she's not our horse and not ours to name, but why should that stop us? Besides, these people obviously don't know how to name horses - this mama's baby from last year is named "Sketchy." :^P~ She's a precious little filly and "Sketchy" doesn't suit her at all. No telling what they'll call this sweet filly.
While horses don't commonly lie down to sleep, little baby horses do. Their little wobbly legs just get so tired! We went into the pasture with her while she was lying down. The mama was okay with us and we got to pet the little filly. She is so soft and so sweet. Just like all babies!

Brooke and Little Luna

Right before we left the barn, the barn's manager called the girls over to "see what I have." He went to feed his horse and when he went into the stall, his horse was looking on the ground and walking in circles. He looked to see what the horse was looking at and there in the hay was a little bird.

The poor little thing had a horse hair that had become entangled around one leg. It must have happened right after it hatched, because it's skin had grown over the hair and the leg was limp and pretty useless. So sad. We cut the horsehair near the leg so it's other leg wouldn't get entangled and a lady from the barn took him home to bring to the vet's the next morning.

More Woodpeckers!

How many different species of woodpeckers with red heads do we need in our backyard? Evidently at least two. Here's a Red-Headed Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker,
"Melanerpes erythrocephalus." He is the most aggressive of all the woodpeckers and will break the eggs of other birds. Brooke took these photos as well. She's been stalking the local wildlife lately!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hey! It's Woody Woodpecker!

This is a Red-bellied Woodpecker, the most common woodpecker in the southeast.
Brooke took these pictures.

"Melanerpes carolinus"
Order PICIFORMES - Family PICIDAE - Subfamily Picinae

Anatomy of a Cat Fight

Otherwise titled, How a Skinny Little Kitten Can Beat Up Two Standard Poodles in Ten Easy Steps.

First, we identify the perpetrator. Here you see 9-month-old Stewart, aka "The Troublemaker."

Looks innocent, doesn't he? Well, looks can be deceiving!

The Perpetrator makes contact with Victim #1 (um, that would be Cosette, who weighs about 60#) and pulls the "lie on your back and scoot up to her" sneak attack maneuver. Cosette was completely unsuspecting.

Now the Perpetrator winds himself around the Victim's front leg and gives the old "kangaroo kicks" to the Victim's back legs. That will surely render her helpless.

The next picture is misleading. It looks like our Victim is going to EAT the Perpetrator. But this is really NOT the case. Notice the complete lack of fear in our Perpetrator's eyes. :^D

Now our Perpetrator goes in for the kill. He grasps the victim by the head and gives The Kiss of Death, right between the eyes. It's not looking good for Cosette.

What is this? On lookers? Why are they not helping the hapless Victim? Are those SMILES on their faces? How sadistic!

Our poor Victim #1, unable to sustain anymore abuse and torture, flies for her crate. Now our Perpetrator turns his attention to Victim #2. Notice again he uses the "sneaky back scoot" to make his way over to Victim #2 (Delilah).
It's the Underhanded Neck Grab! Oh no! Not that! Delilah's doomed for sure!
Our Victim is looking for help as the Perpetrator checks to see if the Concrete Boots will fit - for disposal of the body, of course. Unfortunately for Delilah, no help is forthcoming....
....and once again, our Perpetrator uses the Kiss of Death to fell his Victim! Oh no! Two in one day! And to think this was once a nice place to live!

(Disclaimer: No poodles were actually harmed in the filming of this production. Delilah, Cosette, and, yes, even the fool-hardy Stewart are all alive and well. And the mess you see in the backgrounds of the photos was strategically placed for effect - we're really not that messy - honest! Oh, okay, maybe we are.)

What was going on in the living room with the cat and the dogs was DEFINITELY more interesting than the stupid movie, The New World, that we paid good money to rent. Save yourself the money - a root canal would be a better way to spend an evening! This movie was torture to watch.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

All Consuming

The parish in which we live is considered "rural," even though our city is not really a tiny one (and is much bigger since the hurricanes). One sign of being "in the sticks" is that you can burn stuff in your yard. Brooke was taking pictures of the fire her grandmother started and my DH was continuing. (Yes, I married into a family of pyromaniacs evidently.) But looking at the pictures reminded me of something else.....

Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."

....and that reminded me of another verse....

Malachi 3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire...

....which brought to my mind, the old song from 1990, Refiner's Fire.

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner's fire
My heart's one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin
Deep within

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Poor KitKat

You can see poor old KitKat's front legs have been shaved for all the IV's and blood work.

Despite the grouchy look she is giving the camera, she really is glad to be home.

We've had KitKat for ten years - I've never had a cat this long. Eleven days ago, she was diagnosed with diabetes and has been staying at the vet's office for them to try to regulate her on insulin.

I was told to pick her up yesterday and they showed me how to give her her insulin. After they gave her the insulin, they told me to always give her the insulin after she's eaten well - and hurry up and get her home because she hasn't eaten yet. Her blood sugar started to crash before we left the office - they gave her some NutriCal and said she'd be okay, just get her home and have her eat.

We go home - she wouldn't eat. I finally got a tablespoon into her (this was NOT an easy task - hand feeding a cat who doesn't want to eat), but it didn't matter. By the time the insulin peaked, her blood sugar had plummeted and she was seizing. I called the vet's office (by this time it was after hours - of course) and she had me give her a LOT of NutriCal three separate times, but she continued to seize. So she met us at the vet's office.

By this time, I truly thought KitKat was about to die. Actually, she probably was. The on-call vet (an older lady, not the two young vets who saw me before we left the office) worked to save her and after giving her fluids to increase her blood pressure, she was finally able to get an IV into her and give her dextrose to raise her blood sugar. She continued to seize for almost two hours and the vet finally gave her medicine to stop the seizures.

After almost two hours of working on her, the vet finally had time to read her charts. She told me that even with insulin, KitKat probably wouldn't live another year. She also said that there were many signs that KitKat would would be very difficult to regulate on insulin and that she really would not have recommended her for insulin in the first place.

We brought her home still on an IV and decided to just let things happen as they happened. We padded the bathtub with towels for a bed for the night. I set my alarm and checked on her every thirty minutes through the night. By 4:30 a.m., she was actually better, and when Brooke got up in the morning, she called Steve and asked how to take out her IV and did it. She did a good job, too.

KitKat is still weak, but she's doing much better than last night. The insulin and supplies will go back to the vet's office. As for this vet, WE will not be going back. I asked so many questions originally about her quality of life and whether or not there was other organ damage. I don't feel they were honest with me. The last vet who was on-call, I feel, was the only one who gave me a realistic view of KitKat's condition. I felt so guilty - I was the one who brought her there. My poor old Mama cat.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Who is That Masked Mower?

My mother-in-law enjoys mowing. Really. She wants all the grass to be very short and neat. If we only had a normal yard, this wouldn't be a problem. But we have ACRES to mow. Here she is mowing just part of it. The house in the background will be next door to our new house.
To mow all the grass we have takes a whole day. On a riding lawn mower. Okay, maybe not a WHOLE day, but it does take hours. Like four or five.
When my mother-in-law mows, she is usually more covered than this - long sleeves, gloves, hat, glasses, long pants. Today she is living dangerously and has foregone the gloves.
Truth be told, I enjoy mowing too. It's quiet. And it's definitely preferable to washing the mounds of dirty dishes that collect every minute of every day in my sink.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Barn Friends

We have enjoyed having our horses at the new stables. We've met lots of great new friends (both human and horse). Here are some of our friends:

This is Kerry and his horse, Buddy. Kerry is a calf roper and competes frequently. He just got back from a big competition in Texas. He and his family are originally from Mexico.

Here I am with Anne. She comes to care for her daughter's horse. She usually comes after work in dress clothes and heels. Not your typical barn attire. After we met and got to talking, we discovered that Anne was Joshua's Sunday School teacher years ago when he was just a little tyke of four. What a small world!

And here's Anne's daughter, Jessica, and their horse, Clu. She is an art major at college and she is so very talented!!!