Thursday, May 31, 2007

Future Home

I'm not a house-y person the way a lot of people are. I've always ended up with a roof over my head, albeit sometimes one that rains indoors. I've lived anywhere and everywhere: in a ghetto, in a historical mansion, in a deceptively cute cottage that spewed septic into the shower when it stormed, unknowingly sleeping 5 feet away from a human finger severed from a fresh corpse.

But this morning I race down the stairs yelling to Mom, "I just found the place I'm supposed to live!" The ad in Renaissance Magazine mentions 50+ acres and an equestrian facility. The website begs questions: waterfalls? Federal forests to ride through? Pictures of the stables? Regardless, it feeds my imagination throughout the arduous, hundred-degree day.

I trundle up to the barn for evening chores, dreaming of castles and brainstorming $6 million mortgages....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tippy Canoe and Kittens, Too!

Mom and I wake up once again to a silent house. The turbulence of Meeting Weekend is over!

We celebrate by pitching the tent she is lending me for Pennsic later this summer. I get all excited and start planning what's going to go where and what needs to be on the packing list. I'm a little concerned with the rainfly--it looks like a bikini on a Rubens. Pennsic has the well-deserved reputation for weather roulette.

As I jump online to find a more substancial solution, I casually mention Gander Mountain, the outdoor store down in Winchester. Mom gets all fired up. Pitching a tent has that effect on us. "Let's go!"

We pull into the parking lot. "Look, there's nobody here! Maybe they'll give us a boat!" Mom hopes. She inspects the boxy, plastic boat-shells more closely. "These are so funny looking! How do you make them go?"

All-knowing, I demonstrate: "You twirl the seat around like this, dangle your feet over the stern and kick!"

And Pete walks out of the store!

Happy reunion--he and Mom haven't seen each other in a couple of years-- and here we are far from any of all of our usual stomping grounds. There is much rejoicing!

Later this evening we head to Border's for our rendezvous and kitten exchange. I find the Civil War magazines. Sho' nuff, the current issue features the article which randomly includes JEB and I--cool! We enjoy our paragraphs of infamy.

KB's mom shows up. She is delighted with the two remaining kittens. I'm overjoyed that they all have wonderful new homes.

...I ignore the pangs as I give them over.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Maintenance Committee Walkabout

Well-fueled with pancakes, we convene for the annual walkabout of the Maintenance Committee:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

For whatever reason Mom's wifi is on strike so she has to plug into my DSL router. She and I sit side by side on the bed, laptops topping our laps.

"Daggone it!" She exclaims after a struggle. "It's not a typewriter, its a typewronger!"
The sun finally sets, reminding us we are not invincible. Mom and I stagger inside, and eventually reconvene . Cousin Angus and 2 of his 3 kids are arriving hours later than we expected, giving us a delightfully peaceful candlelit dinner... until we hear cats yowling out the window.

Mom tells J.E.B., "GIT 'EM!" He blasts out the door and I think that's the end of that.

Until I hear plaintive mewing off the porch. I grab a flashlight and step outside, expecting the worst...

And am overrun by the three cutest kittens in the world, climbing all over me, licking my ears and purring louder than the diesel Deutz!

So the Grand Prize Reader will be chosen tomorrow. The lucky winner will recieve: a big fluffy bouquet of kittens!

Pictures forthcoming by daylight

Mow-A-Thon: In Memorium


After a morning grappling with hydraulics, we've got Mom with the bush hog, Max (aka the Gophernator) on his Kuboter, and Dave the Hay Meister on a John Deere that makes my knees go weak and my heart go pitty-pat.

Grass doesn't stand a chance.

As to the hydraulics, we were totally stumped trouble shooting. Max came out and laid on hands. *POOF* she was healed. He is truly the Tractor Whisperer.

Return to the Tallest Tower Revisited

So the tale of the Tallest Tower has incited some Rapunzel jokes, and aspersions cast as to the Gypsy's natural predilection--or lack thereof-- for sitting in front of a loom all day.

You better believe I'd sit at a loom all day if I were spinning straw into gold! But not for some steenkin' evil stepmother, no. And only long enough to analyze, innovate and automate the process. Almost overnight Roughage to Riches (TM), subsidiary of Laughing Gypsy International, will become a major player in the global economy. Because of the patented proprietary technology, I will be free to run amok in the world even as my empire expands...

As to evil stepmothers, my real-life stepmother RAWKS! She just sent me a box full of rubber snakes and spiders and frogs and things. And there's a houseful of innocent, unsuspecting family coming in this weekend... BWAHAHAAA!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Preakness Part Deux: Curlin

Mom is friends with one of Curlin's owners. Tonight she tells me the story behind the name of this years Preakness winner and Triple Crown upset.

Curlin was the name of Mom's friend's grandfather, who was sold on the block as a slave. The farm Curlin the Thoroughbred races out of is the same farm where Curlin the grandfather was sold, since purchased by the grandson.

Wow. That brings a whole new dimension to his--THEIR--victory.

The Weekend Begins

The first of the weekend's family arrives this evening- Mom! Yippee! I feel bad--I talk to her just after a rigorous session with a tough horse where some blatantly obvious things went on (generally you try to catch things before they snowball into fireworks, which is great for teaching a horse but not very exciting for educational videos. This evening we get some fireworks.) She says she's pulling into the driveway moments after I realize the video camera had NOT been rolling for the entire hour and a half. I am not at my nicest.

She shows up though, and all is well with the world. After greetings and hugs she jumps on Mr. B's Kubota and starts mowing. It's a pathological obsession of hers, but I heartily approve! She finishes the barnyard just about the time I finish working the last horse and we load up our starving bellies for Outback.

After copious amounts of barely cooked cow, Justin, our all-too-serious waiter, warns us of the festivities in the parking lot. I beeline for a better view: 8 cop cars of varying denominations, 10+ officers of varying rank with weapons drawn, and 1 skinny perp cuffed and folded across Sheriff's hood. I ask around and best I can piece together is a drug bust after a drawn out car chase. I chortle imagining the innocuous blue minivan with a herd of cop cars in hot pursuit.

We continue on to fill the diesel cans for tomorrow's mow-a-thon.

Return to the Tallest Tower Part II

After a hectic morning of cleaning and boxing and shlepping, I lure Cy and James out with a case of beer (would that work with Bigfoot?) Moving Heavy Objects is their specialty. Imagine the Tasmanian devil of cleanliness and order swooping in. A couple of hours later...summer mode! I'm even able to slip out to the fields for an emergency electric fence repair.

Stuff is still in boxes, "cleanliness and order" are still aspirations, but the move is official. Thanks so much guys! You're amazing and I couldn't have done it without you!

It's good to be back in Tallest Tower.

Return to the Tallest Tower Part I

The house I live in is old, grand, and SO not winterized. I put a propane heater in the kitchen next to the stove (which served that purpose in the past) and migrate down into the little room above the kitchen around October. I move in my office essentials, replace a couple of tables with a sofa in front of the heater and cover the floor with carpet scraps to battle drafts. Triple decker plastic on the windows, caulking and rags in the cracks in the (uninsulated) plaster, and layers of blankets on the windward walls (tapestries!) complete the winterization process.

Spring (finally) arrives and I migrate back to the Peak Room on the third floor, out of the way of the hustle and bustle of whomever happens to be here at the time. In addition to the family of cousins that live here during warmer months, we could have any number of the farm's 17 owners staying at any given time. The kids call my room The Tallest Tower.

I realize with shock that our owner's meeting is this upcoming weekend. With this spring's action and anomolies I'm still over the kitchen, all my office stuff is in the shelves that in summer hold dishes for 2 dozen, and family will start filtering in momentarily.


Seeking Code

I'm a little disappointed to come back from an intense, action-packed weekend and find the blog isn't updated. Has anyone hacked the code that automatically generates posts?

Hahahahaha! A pop-up just opens to say "now Blogger saves your drafts automatically!" That's a step in the right direction. Keep up the good work, guys!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I stop for coffee before hitting the highway and check out Preakness results. I'm sorry to have missed the race--looks like a doozy.

I ponder the winning photo on the front page of the papers. Look at his hind leg: Street Sense is actually ahead, biomechanically speaking, but is at the phase of the gallop sequence where his body is shortened, coiling for the next propelling thrust. Curlin is a hair behind, but at the phase in the sequence where his body is elongated--with his nose pushed out to meet the wire first.

That's horse racing--and there goes the Triple Crown!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The sun is low over the bottom field as I drive home tonight. I park at the end of the driveway and wander into the sea of crimson clover.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

We spend a sunny Sunday afternoon enjoying the cousins' backyard and leftovers from the party last night. One garden denizen gets a jump start on the cook-out:
I sunbathe on the edge of enough shade for my laptop. It's a workin' day for me: I told the racers and the parents from the Soap Box Derby yesterday I'd have pictures posted by tonight.

James proclaims he can't work in a sombrero.

Happy Mother's Day

A weeks worth of living cram into the last 48 hours. A fistful of placeholders pile up in my blogger box, bare bones awaiting flesh.

They'll have to wait.

This morning Cathy laughs up to me. "Happy Pre-Mother's Day!" she says in hysterics.
PRE-Mother's Day? I wonder if my musings (lingering in my blogger box) the other the night were premature. Perhaps the agony wasn't labor after all, but just "get it out of me already!" Beth hugs me and says, "Happy Mother's day, Beautiful! You give birth to so many amazing things!"

I marvel-- I haven't even mentioned being pregnant in the spirit in that group of people....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Birthday Buffet...Bloatissimo!

Cy's Birthday wish involves not all you choose to eat, but all you CAN eat. We meet at Ryan's Steakhouse. It may not be Martinsburg's finest, but it sure is Martinsburg's most!

Our bubbly waitress puts everything on the desert bar into a bowl, positions gummi bears at decorative points, and carries it out in a singing clapping extravaganza. We ooh and ahh and Cy digs in. The waitress wells up, practically in tears. "No one's ever actually EATEN it before!"

Cy takes the time to track her down later and thank her, and build her up. When she clears our table, her feet don't even touch the floor. Score another victory for Encouragement!

As I pull in the driveway the skies open. I dart inside to slam the westward windows, and revel in the first real thunderstorm of the season.

Porch Boss

Another gorgeous day.

I have a few hours of computer work before I head out to teach. It's a no-brainer: I drag the high speed router around to the other side of the house and set up on the shady porch.

After a little bit I feel I'm being watched. I look up....

"Not in CY'S Backyard!" Preamble

When I posted the Iris triptych, Cy wrote challenging me to find "something beautiful" in his backyard.

Light, my camera and his backyard at last converge and discover myriad beautiful somethings. Darkis, the cat, stalks me through the flowerbeds, TOTALLY mugging for the camera. Liz and The Boyz emerge and sprawl out in the lowering sun.

Too soon I head back down the road to my waiting client. Reluctantly.

Now it's Cy's Birthday--Happy Birthday Cy! May the beauty that already abounds around you continue to increase!

Happy Birthday Cyrus!

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Cy-Rus
Happy Birthday to you!

And many mooooore!

Happy happy Birthday Cy! You are such an amazing person, such an incredible impact in the world, and this is so gonna be YOUR YEAR! I just see all the blessings poised to pour down on you and Liz and sweep you off your feet! Get ready for the deluge!

With all my love, appreciation and admiration I call forth all the best for you this year!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Site Insight (

I realize why I love the theme (however troublesome at the get-go) of the new photography website: the color scheme matches J.E.B. Stuart!

Photo Site Launched

With much (belated) glee I officially pronounce Laughing Gypsy Photography LAUNCHED!

I'd gone in to the default site and mucked around with code, to no avail. ALL credit for the spiffnicity goes to the Wolf, who took the reins with but a murmured request despite a deep hatred of html. Hair-rending hours later, we find out my chosen theme is the ONE that has the unique quirk (some might mistakenly call it the near-fatal flaw) regarding customization. To his credit, not once in the heat of rage or frustration (or the inadvertant cancellation of DSL) did he suggest I make do with another of the thirty or some odd themes offered, but instead made it happen. ALL MY THANKS!!!!!!!!!!

Now, there remains but to create and fill the galleries.... Check back often for updates!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Gale-Force Out-Takes

This morning before church I cram in a video shoot of a horse for sale. The horses are wild and the wind is wilder. More than once my tripod crashes over, sending the horses in the adjoining fields into a whirling frenzy and making my sales video look like a horror flick.

I have more fun playing with the out-takes, resurrecting a distant memory, and creating my first ever non-horsey video:

Saturday, May 5, 2007


The Phrat Boyz add much needed, if misdirected, levity in the midst of this somber Barbaro pondering. Two TV screens still showing horsey sequences flank a center screen which has moved on to NASCAR (this IS West VIrginia, after all!) I watch a driver in a Home Depot logo and cheer aloud at how COOL it'd be to be to have Home Depot as a corporate sponsor. "Oh, you'd take anyone who'd pay you to ride" Cy chuckles.

I bristle-- I have standards! "Not ANYONE! Not, um.... well, Hooters couldn't pay me to ride for them!"

He snorts. "Hooters WOULDN'T pay you to ride for them!"

Harumph. Well, its not for lack of riding skills!


The boyz order another round. The TVs tire of Derby footage and start to run a tribute to Barbaro. I'm a total sap when it comes to stories of the struggle between spirit and adversity-- especially when they involve horses.

Liz comes back in time to run protective interference as the story turns gruesome. I bury my eyes and plug my ears while she watches for it to be over-- "nope, don't look yet. No, they're still going. Man, this is long--eeeeew! No, not yet!"

Incredible colt. The true poster child for the racing industry. Its fairly easy for the public to turn a blind eye to the scores of horses who ARE the foundation of the industry. The lucky ones go to rescues such as the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation or find new career as riding horses-- I have several of those in my fields. The others, well, these are the horses who end up "with a one way ticket to France," as a vet friend calls slaughter. The horses whose stories are cut short and eclipsed by another's Winners Circle glory.

Barbaro WAS that glory personified--and yet he showed a nation how crap luck could change lives in an instant. Like any Golden Boy he had it all-- raw talent, drive, charisma, doting "parents" and the funding for any possibility. And still, an insidious compensatory disorder claimed his strenth, his fire--and his life.

To me, as to millions of horse lovers, no doubt, it is a call to action. What can WE do to impact this wrinkle in the world? Wish, my most recent racetrack rescue, wickers in the starlight. I don't know where her destiny lies. It sure isn't on the track. My role is simple: to open the door and to follow where the winds of spirit lead.

Derby Day

Wow, what a race! I meet some folks at the Turf, a bar next to the track in Charles Town, just in time for My Old Kentucky Home to bring tears to this native Lexingtonian's eyes. We see the race on 6 screens-- more TVs than I see in a year. AND James snags us a speaker-BONUS!

And what a race it is! The perfect convergence of skillful riding, the luck of the field, and a powerful horse to pull it together and bring it on home. Holes open in the thundering wall of Thoroughbreds as Street Sense surges ahead to thread them. Calvin Borel, still a ways from the wire, tastes certain victory and starts pounding the air with a joyful fist even as his colt devours the final lengths.

Thank God everyone finishes safely. Whole. Alive.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Bigfoot Protected!

A cutting-edge Canadian researcher is pushing to designate Bigfoot as an Endangered Species.

"The debate over their existence is moot in the circumstance of their tenuous hold on merely existing," he claims.

Apparently the protection offered by the designation would allow Bigfoot numbers to It would prevent all those poachers from grinding up Bigfoot bits and selling them as ancient Chinese tonics? Or stop American tourists from smuggling stuffed Bigfoot feet across the border as a souvenir? I don't quite follow.

On the other hand, let's follow his line of logic. If Endangered status is critical to the survival of a species they can't verify, deny the status. Then at least the question of "does Bigfoot exist" will be answered with dead certainty once and for all.

But this is all theoretical and I'm shushing the inner Cynic once again. Honestly, I love Bigfoot and don't imply I seek their extinction.
I say invite the Bigfeet down to Jefferson County! We have Hawaiian pizza in abundance--and hay season approacheth!

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Deep Woods, Still Thoughts

Its been a whirlwind 24 hours, give or take a few. Pushing. Cramming. Creating substitutes for critical pieces missing in the 11th hour. Sorting out the remains of a pretty big deal which I had been working on for several weeks, which had an outcome other than what I had hoped. I know it'll all work out even better than I can imagine in the long run. All the same I'm happy to escape from my own mind in a forest romp.

I breathe in the lush greens and the rushing golden sunshine. I feel like I'm swimming in a bottomless pool hidden deep in a rainforest: I am washed pure again to my very core. Any lingering trace of doubt, remorse and fear is swept downstream.

As I soak in the last few snapshots, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the people in my life, the wonderland in which I live, and the wild and lavish God who makes it all possible. I wipe away streaming tears before anyone can see and head back to the car.