Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bad News

There will be no pictures in this post.  There in no joy in Mudville.  Mighty Casey has struck out.  In fact he didn't get to the plate.  They called his name but he wasn't there.
He'd come up with an excuse, if he could, but there are none.

Casey might say he'd been captured by Gypsies.  Or he might mention the creek that was washed out and how he had to swim down stream to save those kids.  He thought about saying he interrupted an armed robbery at the Quick Trip and was shot.  He wondered if anyone could really believe the truth.  He just miscalculated the time and missed his run.  He left the trial field after the first 21 runs which took four hours.  He planned to be back in three and came in two and a half.  He did not plan that there would be lots of dq's.   When he got back they were closing the ball park. 

Is he embarrassed?  You bet.  Ashamed? You bet.   He didn't strike out, he never got to the plate.  

So this is the last post in the "Most excellent adventures of Bob and Belle".  All in all done.  All over. Kaput.

I've decided not to harm myself.  People still need me in their lives.  I still have some worth, some where, some how.  I'm thinking next time I'll get a clerk, you know, someone to watch over me.  Or perhaps next time, a strong rope.  I'll tie myself to the fence and not loose it till time to run. 

I'm thinking between the kidding and the "what were you thinking" I'll be hearing in the coming weeks I'll suffer enough.   I have inventoried my life.  My wife still loves me.  My dog thinks I'm fine.   My kids are healthy and good men.,
And most importantly, I still have my looks.

The real question if what do I do next.  The universe doesn't care about my travails.  But, I do!  I'm thinking this is not a sign.  It has no meaning.  It's an event not a pronouncement.  My job is to journey on.  Greet the next day.  The Sun'll come up tomorrow and all that kinda crap.

Listen my peeps.  You mean a lot to me.  I like telling you this stuff.  Even sharing this "ugly thing" with you eases my pain.  Thanks.  I'm thinking I want to keep you in the loop.   Mighty Casey has a life.  He just might be telling you more about it next time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trial begins... First Full Day Complete

Belle sits below, awaiting out exit to Colorado. It's a good representation of her and our other dog Will.  I'm thinking based on his look he wanted to go also.

The first day of the week long trial is over.  Nursery has not started.  Open has started and they completed 38 runs today.  They will run the same number each day for two more days to get the first runs in.  Then top third I think run then the top twenty run on Sunday.  I will run tomorrow near the end of the day in Nursery.  I will update everyone as soon as I know anything.

Above is the trial field.  It's 440 yards or a quarter mile from the handlers post to the set out.  This pic is of the open field.  I will post a picture of the nursery trial field tomorrow.  It will be a 340 yard outrun.

Below you can see Belle's entry.  I'll bring home the book for Tom and Ruth  but you can see I hope the listing showing them as owners.  Also shows the breeder Glen.

Below are four seperate shots merged into one panorama.  It's puts to much emphasis on the front of the photo but it still represents the site.  It's like a little city.  More handlers are arriving as some didn't even have a dog running till the second or third day.  By this weekend it should be a third more crowded with handlers and by this weekend the spectators will be huge.

I mentioned Gucci West.  In the picture below you see the trial field is surrounded by hills.  On these hills are big resort type houses.  They have the best view of the field but don't the rich always get the best?   There is a tug of war between the ranchers and the developers out here.  One wanting to maintain the pristine wilderness and one wanting to build houses for the vacationing second home types.

I am feeling good about our run tomorrow.  I had my time in the practice field this afternoon and Belle did just fine.  I was surprised she didn't mind the big woolies and they moved off her just fine.

The open handlers have either had the white house or the out house.  The scores have been awful or just fine thankyou.  There's been no middle of the road scores.  The sheep will stop and graze if the sense weakness and fight or run if the dog pushes to hard.   The best handler of the last 10 years is Alistair McCrae and he had sheep that fought him all the way and did not score well.  Last years Chamption did fine with a high score.  Our friend from Texas Allison Holmes had a nice run that will surely get her in the next stage. 

On my run tomorrow my biggest fear is she won't go far enough but she does take a redirect well so maybe it'll work out.  But I saw so many wrecks today by open handlers I'm not worried to much about tomorrow.  Wish me luck and thanks.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On the road to the Nationals

The road to the finals started a little over two years ago when Glen Christianson bred his female Em.  Pictured below.
Em is a hard pushing cow dog and Glen has done well with her in trials as shown below.  Glen is the handsome guy in the Middle.

     In sheep they say the ram is half the crop and the ewe is half the lamb.  Glenn's Em is half our Belle.  He deserves some recognititon.  He talked Hines into taking the pup Belle.

But Sunday Morning came so we loaded up.  Me and Belle and Teresa taking the picture below. 

No more training.  No more books.  No more teachers ugly looks.   Got to go get'r'done.

Sunday night we stay in Trinidad Colorado.  It's an old mining town.  Most of the old towns in Colorado were settled long before the Oklahoma Runs were made so you get a sense of history from the buildings.  Below is a view from the Motel we stayed it.  Not bad.  There are 54 fourteeners(mtns over 14K feet) in Colorado and this isn't one of them.  But still, it has some presence.

     And Sunday night our first meal wasn't bad.  Friends of ours named Mike and Martha like to eat at places with local flavor.  So even though it's Sunday evening we start driving around Trinidad looking for something that wasn't a chain.  We eliminated the usual Chinese restaurants and finally came upon Bob and Earl's Good Food as Always cafe.  Some cars were there and we were full of hope and hunger so we took a chance.
      Over Teresa's shoulder featured below you see the sign of a good eatery.  The evenings special is printed on the white board wall.  But I positioned myself so I could see into the kitchen and the cook and his helper looked pretty serious.
      It turned out fine.  They say food is appreciated by three classes.  The poor who say after a meal, "Did you get enough?"  The middle classers who say, "Was it good?"  And the upper class who say,  "That is a lovely presentation."   Teresa is the middle and she says,  "It was mighty tasty."  She looks pretty after 44 years of being married to me. 

     Monday morning we leave Trinidad and after an hour we start up the mountains instead of driving along in the valleys.  Below is our start up the Rockies, and it's not a bad view.
     Below we reach the Continental divide.  All it really means is water runs one way on one side and the other way on the other side.  Frankly, the climb up on the no guard rail goat lanes were too much for me.  I'm not a sissy but I am a scaredicat.  Plus after about 7k feet I dont breath so good so I stopped at 12k feet only long enough to take the picture then accelerated over the edge to the western side of the Rockies.  I don't know how they breath that high.


       It's not long and we come upon this gorgeous Aspen grove pictured below.  It was breath taking.  Felt like you were in some Eden forest.  Worth the whole trip.  The picture below does not convey the scope of it.
      Then it's on down further to Aspen and Carbondale where we are now.  I'll tell more about that tomorrow.  But I will say I was expecting the wild west.  It's more like Gucci West.  Fine houses everywhere.  Jet planes at the airports.  Horse ranches deluxe.  This is a far cry from the country boy's raising.

     The last picture is at the trial location.  We're up the field looking back down across the open field and it's not a great picture but all the white spots are some of the 90 RV's they expect here.  It's like a little city. 
I'll get some pictures of the nursery field tomorrow.  It rises towards the West.  I may be looking into the sun the entire run.   It's big.  I may have said 350 but now I'm thinking it might be 400.  I was nervous when I first viewed it but, "what the heck...  I paid my money I'll take my chances.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bird's Eye Balling Me

     The little bird... is eyeballing me...  Wonder what he thinks?  Bet he thinks I'm on the short rows, time is running out.  If I'm going to get ready with Belle for the Nursery Nationals I best be almost there as no time remains to cure any problems or do major training.  The bird is right.  In that Spirit

     I ventured over the Claremore Ok this past Saturday evening.  Each year at the fair, they put on a little arena trial and all the locals attend.  I get to visit with old dog friends and I get a chance to put Little Belle thru her paces.  Friends called early and said you'll love these sheep Bob as they're seriously slow and you'll have to push.  You can find out how much walk up Belle has.   I am not a fan of arena trials.  At best, you can't tell whether the same dog will do well in a big field.  You can test control though.  Did the dog take the whistles, etc.  So off I went. 

     I drew up an early run.  I'm feeling good.  I'll get home early and not miss much sleep.  Then I get the nerves.  The jimmyleg shakes.  You know when you wish you had some pepto bismol.  You don't know if you should go out there lest you have to run back.  I wish I knew why?  My voice was shaky,  my whistle sounded like it had emphysema.  I forgot my stop command completely.  All the previous draws were sluggards.  I get a runner.   It's humid and hot and I'm sweating like a teen ager on his first date.  As I walk off the disaster the Judge inquires, "is that the nursery dog you've been writing about".   I almost lied and said no it's a different dog.   But you know, she covered the stock.  She took what commands I gave her.  I've got a run under my belt with her.  I have high hopes.

     In that spirit I put in a night time winter picture to cool things off.  Summer will end.  We will cool off.  Please!  Snow was on the ground, Ice was in the trees.  Cold night.

     On a sad note,  Teresa's brother is named Bud.  Jackie was his high school sweet heart and lifetime love.  Jackie was diagnosed with a brain tumor last November.  Their walk together ended just last week.

I think Bud will be alright.   He was her sole caregiver these last months.  Some words just don't work,  "oh, in time, you'll feel better",  or, "she's in a better place".   I think they only thing you can say is,  "she was the love of your life, a wonderful person.  I am sorry for your loss".

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A day lily has more guts than I do.

                                                A single day lily
                                                Reports for duty
                                                Brave and all alone
                                                Doesn't hear your laughter
                                                Rejects our ridicule...
Her testament is courage
                                                And she knows you look
                                                And envy her...everything!

      Can you tell I like flowers?  I do!  Color never hurts.  Just a splash here and there.  In a room, on a shirt or blouse.  Why not?  The Swedes paint there doors bright colors.  I'm thinking we're afraid of color.  Afraid to make a statement.  We want to be safe in the shadows, in camo.  No one would laugh at us or point us out.  The world seeks safety.  Risk managers make millions. 

     Still, this dam day lily has my goat.  Every year about this time, in a silly place in the yard, all by it self, it shows up.  Then it just stands there.  Full of expectation.  Saying "look at me you sonsabitches."  And I do, and I get over the funnies, and I think you brave little pretty flower.  Giving all you got regardless.  You don't play it safe, you don't blend in, you just do it.

      I've made about eight blogs so far.  I think about eight more will finish off this road to the finals blog.  I remind you, I've been to the finals before.  Twice, but not in the last ten years.  I'm thinking if I owe you anything or if I need to do anything here,  I've got to be honest.  So, I puked it up today.  I missed the boat.  I dropped the dog.    First, I over slept.  Tb wanted to see the new movie "The Help".  She'd just finished the book,  loved it and to the movie we went.  Got home late.  I'm not an early riser by nature and could not get out of bed.  If you read the last blog you know I planned to load up the sheepers and go to my friends big field and stretch the outrun.  Didn't happen.  I texted him I'd been kidnapped by gypsies and was being held in sleepytown.  He didn't laugh.

     The day got worse.  I realized although I'd hauled the sheep into my place,  I'd not loaded them up in the field.  This I would have to do at my friends, so out to practice loading the trailer in the field I went.  A total mess.  Belle is not a precise dog, not yet.  Back and forth we went.  We looked like a bear cub luv'n up a football.  More so,  I'd been to the USBCHA finals blog and read about all the handlers who are prepping and how often they've been.  My two times without showing great promises, paled next to their attendance every year, their high placings, their obviously greater talent.  I was thinking, I don't have a chance.  I'm not that good a handler, I don't have their experience, the western ewes will kill me.  What kind of fool am I?  Right?   My confidence was zip, zero, zilch.   Then the circus act of trying to load the sheep.   I was chapped.  I had the red ass.  I felt sorry for myself.  I did not want to be there.   Panic parked next to rage.  Almost crying like a pity brat, almost.   Then that dam day lily.

      So all my talk about doing my best and being satisfied, and having fun regardless.  Just talk today.  I did nothing but fail. I have no great predictions or hopes.  I'm sitting down and tired.  If I could back out I would.  To old to fat to tired. 

     Then that little day lily.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Maiden Grass Plumes in Bloom
in the midst of drought conditions.

Why does it bloom and it's cousin a few feet away not?

If I said you were pretty as a pumpkin blossom would you feel pretty.

Some dogs point birds some dogs point punkins.

     I am excited.  All the prep on my place has still not prepared me for a field as large as I expect to see at the nursery finals.  I expect it to be at least 350 yards and more likely about 400 yards.  On my place the biggest outrun I can do is really about 250 yards.  I could do longer before we put in the big pond, but not now.  Tomorrow I am going over to a friends place.  His field is so long you can see the curvature of the earth.  Well, almost.  If I can't stretch her there, I won't stretch her anywhere.  Wish me luck.  I think she will do it without any trouble.  What's the saying?  If they're right up close they'll be right afar?  Maybe.

     She's doing fine so far.  Flanking well, not perfect, but well.  Pace is coming along nicely.  Listens.  Sometimes she tunes me out but not often.   We are getting used to each other.  I will have had her for two months before the finals and believe me it's not too much time.  I am not a handler that can just grab up and dog and run it.  Some can.

     I thought you would enjoy our blooming pluming maiden grass.  Each year regardless of moisture, she gives us a show.  We don't water her except maybe a little early on.  Next to her are more plantings.  Notice the brown color.  That's the normal hue when we're this hot and dry.  So tell me, what's the deal with the pretty one?  I'm thinking there must be some sub,surface moisture she's found.  Beats me but she's pretty.  

     The pumpkins have survived a month of over 100 and are now putting on blooms.  If every bloom is a pumpkin in prospect, look out,  I'll be hallo weening everywhere with my punkins.  A pumpkin bloom is not in poetry.  Roses are.  Roses are supposed to be synonymous with beauty.  But they have nothing on a pumpkin blossom.   Belle agrees.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Road To Glory or Shame?

View Larger Map

See the Map, from A my place, to B in Carbondale Co. In less than 30 days I travel that road. Is it my road to Glory, or Shame? At the Nationals Nursery will I rise or fall? Will they remember my name or will watchers put the memory of the bad run in some dark place to forget.

Don't examine the route to see whether it's the best route. If you don't select a preference, google maps will send you up the interstate and across bloody Kansas. I can't do that, it's too boring, to flat. But the New Mexico southern route I've traveled before and am not afraid of the switchbacks and slow travel of the byways, so this route is my route. The last part through the mountain passes looks like fun. I'll see some pretty country.

I love my home area and won't move, but if I were to move I'd give preference to the beauty of the Southern Colorado area. Pagosa Springs or Durango. I'm not alone as when I've been there I've seen many old fat folks that have thought the same and retired there. But I digress. The Road looms.

Cormac McCarthy wrote The Road. He wasn't talking about Route 66 or romance or adventure or happy endings. He was talking about a struggle for survival. A road not only less traveled but a hard road where to travel and survive was victory. Not a gauntlet with an end but a long road with perhaps no end. The Road was a test of will, our will to live and keep our humanity, in the midst of hopelessness and deprivation. Wonderful book. Pretty good movie.

Two roads diverged into a wood and the poet took the one less traveled by and was the better for it. But that's not so much my road or this road. Going to a dog trial is not a life changing choice. Plus most of my life is behind me. I'm not starting off, I'm topping off. I'm on my bucket list, not my someday list. This is "now" I'm living and the consequences are short term.

So glory or shame? Which shall it be? Tell me dear reader. Does my success depend on whether I "stand on the neck of mine enemies"? Must I win to win? Perhaps a little. Don't go if you're not trying to win. Otherwise it's prominade, a display, a strut like some barnyard rooster before the hatchet and dinner pot. No I want to win! I want to dance in little circles with my arms up in the air saying, "I won, I won. On this day in this place I am the best." Then like the slave's whisper in the Emperor's ear my wife can whisper, "enjoy, glory is fleeting."

But what if I get an odd draw, you know, the straggler, the breakaway, the knucklhead. The draw with two sheep and one cheetah! No flock all fleet. Must I even win then? If so I fail now because I won't. Last years final saw our biggest winner ever suffer a bad draw. Beautiful handling but not a big score. They don't give handling points, they give run points. For even the best handlers it's one day the white house and next day the outhouse.

So my Road, will it end in glory or shame? Here's the answer and the ending. If on that day, at that post, I do my best, and my dog is at her best, I will win. I may not have the highest score. But I will win. I will be proud of myself and my dog and my effort. My best is really all I have to give. If I can give that, and it's hard to do, I'll feel good and be content. I'm not driving out there thinking of applause I can't control. I'm not driving back thinking what a waste of time and money because I didn't place first. I want to do my best. I want to be on my game. I want to be quick and alert and ready to deal with the draw and weather and the early or late run. I want to win.

Glory is fleeting, certainty is an illusion, repose is not the destiny of man. Isn't life fun.