Last fall I threw the October and November gourds into one of the garden beds. If they decided to reseed themselves, so be it. Oh my, takeover time. The vines are everywhere – probably covering a 20 foot by 20 foot square area, creeping over tomato plants, other flowers, and potatoes. And the gourds are all varied sizes and colors, and all have these cool “warts!”  Take a peek ….

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Totally cool huh!?! The flower below is peeking above the vines trying to survive the takeover. My chaotic, wildly beautiful and fruitful garden. How does your garden grow?  In neat little beds or do you have a takeover too?


John 666

JOHN Chapter 6 vs. 66
As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

This was in the bible’s gospel reading tonight at Mass. 666 – the sign of the devil – disciples (now known as Christians) turning away from Jesus and going back to their former way of life, no longer walking the way of Jesus.

What preceded their leaving?

JOHN Chapter 6 vs. 60

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

Jesus does have difficult teachings.  Will you stay with Him?  Can you humbly defer your judgement and answer as Peter did in JOHN Chapter 6 vs. 68  “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Saddle – One Size Fits All

Duett Saddle

I have taught saddle fit for a dozen years and now have an online course covering the topic. And I’m ashamed to say that I have a saddle fitting failure story.

My husbands two hunt horses both have extra wide gullet measurements. One is 4 cm wider in the shoulder and about an inch (2.54 cm) wider in the withers. I know from the saddle fit studies that 2 cm is the measurement that delineates good fit from too narrow fit or too wide fit and that slightly too narrow of a fit had lower pressure point readings than the too wide fit.

So I decided to split the difference between the two horses and look for one saddle that would work on both. I know, you’re probably shaking your head wondering why. But hear me out … I thought my husband could use a thick pad on the smaller horse and a thin pad on the slightly larger horse and everything would be fine. I even decided that because both horses were so wide that I would search for a hoop tree saddle. A type of saddle that has a U shape instead of a V shape in the withers area. I reasoned the hoop tree would offer a bit more room for the saddle pads I planned to use.

I took my measurements and started shopping online for a deal. I love deals. I was looking for an extra-wide 8″ gullet, 34cm hoop tree english all-purpose or jumping saddle with an 18″ seat and I found one right away.

The saddle arrived a couple of days later and I was excited and anxious to try it out. I brought the horses in and tried the saddle on each one. The first thing I noticed was how low it sat on the smaller horse. There was only 1 finger of clearance at his withers even without being girthed up. The U shape hoop was a good match on this horse since he has a mutton type wither but the saddle was just too wide. Next I tried it on the larger horse and there was only 1 finger of clearance at his withers too, yet the saddle fit his shoulder fairly well. Why? The larger horse has a tall wither and the U shaped hoop tree was not the right match for him, he needs the typical V style to clear his dominate withers.

I couldn’t have been more disappointed but I shouldn’t have been trying to fit two horses with such different shapes and measurements with one saddle. I should have known better and now I have the extra fees to return the saddle or the hassle to resell it.

As a last ditch effort I re-measured the horse I thought the saddle would fit best and his measurement width had decreased by 1/2″- he has lost weight and I had purchased the saddle based on measurements taken four months ago. Again, I hang my head because I know better, I should have retaken his measurements and paid closer attention to his weight loss. The one positive light is that if he gains weight and I still have the saddle, it will probably fit. But I know I should really buy a saddle specifically for him and this time I will take into consideration his measurement variations over the past year.

The moral of the story – there is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to saddles.  It’s important to consider each individual horse and their size changes throughout the year.

Finding The Middle

shadow horse

Neat picture eh?

A simple photo of me and my horse’s shadow on the driveway turned into a very cool piece of art through Pixlr.

It’s summer and I feel lazy … a lovely lazy … like a vacation at home. Playing outside, losing myself in a novel, exploring art.

It’s a sweet indulgement that I VERY rarely allow myself. I’m usually keeping my “nose to the grindstone” … there’s always work to do around the farm, in the garden, on the business … not drudgery work, thankfully, but not the expression of “play” either.

I spent the entire day with my nose in a book yesterday … it was 7:30 pm as I read “The End” and I thought it couldn’t be much after 12 noon … I was totally lost in the characters and story. What book you wonder? Midnight Bride by Susan Carroll.

Many years ago (30 to be exact) I gave up watching TV because I had spent too many hours of my young life in a hypnotic stress relief curled up in the cool basement with my couch and blankets watching program after program for hours.

I wanted to start living a “real” life. A decade later I decided to give up fiction as well … there’s so much to learn about the things I love – horses, gardening, natural health, therapy, God.

But both ways of living were not balanced … they were extremes and now I’m finding a middle – working, playing, resting.  And boy am I liking finding the middle.  There’s actually another layer of application type learning in art and fiction that I missed when I lived in my practical reality stage.

What stage are you at? How do you find balance between work and play, fantasy and reality, passive and active?  Oh, and if you have a favorite photo app or fantasy romance/science fiction type of book or movie … let me know! I’m looking for more summer diversions 🙂

August Flowers

White and yellow colors predominate our flowers in August around Michigan.

The glorious sunflower, a native American plant … besides it’s beauty, the sunflower has many practical uses: sunflower oil is used in salad dressings and for cooking, the fiber from the stem can be used in fabric and paper, a drink made from the sunflower head can be used for respiratory ailments, the stems can be used for fuel, and the seeds for eating. SOURCE


In addition to the sunflower, there are many other wildflowers gracing our roadsides.

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Queen Anne’s Lace is a fragile looking flower – appearing like snowflakes in mid-summer.  They make a lovely Christmas Tree decoration when they are pressed between pages of a book and dried – simply hang them by a thread.

Queen Anne’s Lace is also known as Wild Carrot but has a white tap root. The seed oils have been used medicinally for intestinal issues. SOURCE And the Roman’s ate it as a vegetable and the leaves have been mixed with honey to help heal wounds.  SOURCE

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Sow thistle above are another edible wildflower. The leaves and flowers can be used in salads like the dandelion but sow thistle is less bitter. SOURCE


Jewelweed (below) is often found growing near poison ivy and crushed jewelweed has been used as a salve to treat poison ivy rash and other skin ailments. SOURCE The seeds in the ripe seedpod can be eaten and have walnut like flavor. SOURCE


The lone blue flower below is chicory. There’s nothing else around that looks like chicory. The leaves can be used for salad in the early spring and the root can be toasted dry and then ground to make coffee. Boiling the plant (roots, leaves, flower) creates a skin wash for athlete’s foot and other skin irritations. SOURCE


I’m enjoying our summer flowers and I hope you are too!