Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dani at Newcastle Island...

So, I just had some great news! Joan Larson has started to work on the StableMates covers! I've been thinking a lot about what makes a good cover during the past few days as there has been quite a discussion about that topic on a children's literature discussion list I subscribe to. Apparently, the gods (and goddesses) of publishing were also reading the thread! I can't wait to see what Joan comes up with! Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 21, 2006

Another day at the office! Posted by Picasa
I love my job! One of the sidebars in Behind-the-Scenes With a Horse Vet deals with telling the age of a horse by its teeth. To illustrate this point, Dani and I visited the ever-gracious folks at Bodicea Farm to take some photos. What luck that their little (not!!) Clydesdale baby, Thistle, still has his milk teeth.

Being the sweet, tractable creature that he is, Thistle was happy to oblige as we pulled his lips this way and that, trying to get a good camera angle that clearly shows the teeth. What a sweet, sweet baby!

For good measure (and another chapter entirely) we also photographed his hernia. Because this is a G-rated blog, I won't post the photo.

After the baby pictures were done, off we went to find a more geriatric specimen for comparison. Tony, my old Anglo-Arab seemed like a good bet. He's on loan to Bodicea for a little while where he is helping teach new riders the ropes. He was much less cooperative (older and wiser, I think he thought we had a tube of wormer tucked away somewhere) but his chompers were most excellent in a particularly gnarly kind of way. Posted by Picasa
Tony's teeth. Posted by Picasa
And here's another fine set owned by an older mare called Smudges. No need to pull her lips apart to get a peek in her mouth! This old girl grins on command! Posted by Picasa

We were on such a roll we took pictures of cracked hooves, scrapes, bangs, and gashes and a couple of good scars. The medicine chest, feed room, hay pile, and water buckets were also duly documented. Several willing models mucked out, groomed, and trained horses. We even managed to snap the quintessential shot of a heap of healthy manure. What a brilliantly productive day! To see more of our handiwork and how we will squeeze all these photos into a book about vets you'll just have to place an order for the book...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The view from Newcastle Island, looking back toward Nanaimo. Yeah, we live in paradise. I know. Most days I do remember... (The reddish, gnarly trees in the foreground are called madronas or arbutus trees). Posted by Picasa
When Dad and I went up-island to pick up Dani after her vaulting clinic, we all spent a couple of nights in Nanaimo, enjoying a mini-vacation. Aren't we doing a good impression of being tourists? In this photo we're on the little boat that shuttles visitors from Nanaimo over to Newcastle Island.

It so happened that we were in town during the Parksville Sandcastle Competition, so of course we had to drive up and have a peek (and, of course, those photos are on the other camera, the one I haven't downloaded yet). The sculptures were amazing - so detailed and intricate. We were there during the final stage of the sculpting (the artists are timed and then all the creations are judged) and it was great to see the sculptors hard at work, shaping their piles of sand into castles, dragons, and complex plumbing.

Other highlights of our time away included Coombs, a tiny town famous because of the goats that live on the roof of the local market. So famous are these goats that the highway information sign just says, "Goats on the Roof." Posted by Picasa
Dani continues to defy gravity and good sense by flinging herself this way and that while sort of attached to a horse - while wearing slippers! She has that same look in her eyes she used to get when she was in gymnastics and determined to stick a back handspring on the beam (why would anyone want to do such a nutty thing?) or perfect her splits or do some ludicrious release thing on the uneven bars. And, yes, there is a competition looming in her future that is upping the ante and driving her to practice more and more and more... on the living room floor, straddling the back of the couch, hanging from the vaulting horse she brought home from the clinic (not a real horse - more like an oversized saw-horse complete with handles, stirrups, and a soft carpeted back....). . Provincial Vaulting Championships are a coming in September - stay tuned! Posted by Picasa

Meanwhile, back on the work front... I'm gathering various bits and pieces of information and quotes to add to the Karen Brain biography - none of that is too difficult, but it does take a certain amount of coordination to get emails and phonecalls sorted out and followed up. Meanwhile, the first draft of the Racetrack book is with the editor and designer simultaneously. Now this is an interesting way to do things - usually we finalize the text first and then the designer decides how it will all be arranged on the page. I think because production timelines are tight and there are so many images a rough layout is being worked on that will (I hope) be fairly easy to change when the text is modified. While the Racetrack title is on hold (from my perspective, anyway), and I'm waiting for replies to my Karen questions, it's off to work on the vet book (Behind-the-Scenes With the Equine Vet - same series at the track title). All is going smoothly on that one, though I now have to get serious about arranging some photo shoots. Will post some of the results here, most likely before the end of the week.

Everything would have been just a little further along except last week was hay week and, as the old saying goes, one makes hay while the sun shines. Nearly 400 bales of the stuff, in fact! I was lucky enough to get a fabulous deal on some very nice hay from a farm near Lake Cowichan. The catch was we had to drive up to the farm and pluck the bales out of the fields! We took the truck and horse trailer up several times, loading both until they were literally overflowing with bales. Then, of course, we had to unload the bales and stack them (up into the rafters) in the neighbour's barn (I don't have much storage here at our place!). My shoulders and back are so sore, but my horses (and the goats) are extremely happy. Now, as long as the size of the herd stays more or less the same, we should make it right through until haying starts again next summer. This means I'll be able to avoid paying three (or more!!) times the price for hay when I have to go searching in the dead of winter. I tell you, though, I sure admire anyone who makes a living from the land. The work is brutal and it can all go terribly wrong with a shower on the wrong afternoon or a drought when a little water is needed most.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dani is developing a serious obsession with BIG horses. Here she is astride a rather hefty specimen owned by the Bickford family. There was a good reason we were taking photos of this beauty - Dad is painting a mural on the side of a tram known as 'The People Mover" at the Saanich Historical Artifacts Society. Subject of said mural is a pair of horses ploughing... and, it turns out, the Bickfords donated the people-mover. So, it only made sense that we were there snapping photos from all angles so Dad would have plenty of good reference material. What doesn't make sense is how one of the photographers suddenly found herself astride! While wearing a short skirt, no less.

Dad and I head up to Nanaimo tomorrow to retrieve the mad vaulter from a week-long clinic she's been attending. We had a frantic call from Dani this evening who said, "Bring the truck!" Apparently she has procured a vaulting barrel, an essential device on which vaulters practice when there's no horse handy. It could have been worse, I suppose. She could have said, "Bring the horse trailer!" Posted by Picasa