Archive for February, 2008

A day away

Posted on February 29, 2008. Filed under: blogs, Uncategorized | Tags: |

Nope, I didn’t run off to a spa. Or hit the mall. Or catch up on all the Oscar films.

I honestly thought I had posted yesterday. Yeah. Have you noticed how close together “Save” and “Publish” are?  This time, it worked to my advantage. Does anyone have a horror of releasing a post before its time?

So, yesterday, I went to Weight Watchers (I feel like I’ve set up permanent camp on this plateau), then to Costco and then back to where I dug into the long-awaited taxes.

Am I done with those yet? Nope. Probably about 2/3 done, though. I just had to make some progress with that. I plan to ship off stuff to the accountant on Monday. But I hope I’m done long before that.

After all, today’s an extra day. A gift. But, considering it’s a gift, though, I should find a better use for it than taxes.

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Visiting an Old Friend

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: farm tours, horses, KY, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

The horse with his eye on the ridge ahead is Creator. (Let me know if the picture is too big and too slow to load. Creator at the old Old Friends farm

He lives at the Old Friends thoroughbred retirement farm. He’s handsome, egotistical (horse people call that “studly”), territorial and cheerfully willing to bite the hand that feeds him. Of course, anyone who visits Old Friends falls in love with him immediately.

Old Friends has moved since I took this photo. The farm had leased this property but now has its own farm in Georgetown, KY. I haven’t been to the new farm yet. What you see is from a previous location.

But the purchase of the farm has helped with the plan of offering a destination for horse lovers to visit with retired champions. Tours, of course, are offered. And a house on the grounds serves as a B&B. But the best reason for the new property was to expand. Old Friends is now the home to about 28 horses.

Creator was one of the first horses to retire to Old Friends. He’s a former European champion who stood at stud in Japan. Now in Kentucky, he greets adoring visitors to who long to pet that handsome head.

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Not just words anymore

Posted on February 25, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , , |

I’m still wrestling with the images issue. I’m doing okay with the writing part of blogging, but I’m not used to illustrating my own work. Or editing my own work. Or doing the layout for its presentation.

I used to be a newspaper reporter. Sometimes, I shot my own photos, too, but that didn’t sit well with my newspaper’s organization.

So, I became accustomed to having a photog assigned with me. My bureau chief would be the first reader, who’d also point out logic and flow issues. Then, my story would go on to the main office, where other eyes and hands worked on it. Several would proofread it. Someone else wrote the headlines. Someone picked the photo from the two or three I’d print. Then I’d see the finished story-photo unit the next morning with coffee.

Now, as a blogger, I do all those jobs. I’m now my own assignment editor, layout, copy editor, photo editor and reporter. Not to mention that I’m now expected to insert myself into the story, which is a big journalism no-no. So, I’m not sure that I do anything well. But the process is exhilarating

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The Tax Preparer Waiteth

Posted on February 24, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , , |

Two bags full of receipts and bank statements have been waiting for me for weeks now. Usually, I prepare taxes via “the dump and sort” method. Pretty self-explanatory. And, yes, it’s true: I’m blogging, a very New Mllennium activity about sorting paper receipts for taxes — an activity that is very Old Millenium.

I didn’t say it had to make sense. But isn’t that the way of the tax code anyway? It doesn’t have to make sense.

But it still must be done. All must render unto Caesar. Nothing is certain but Death and Taxes. Yadda, yadda, yadda. With two bags full of paperwork, you’d think we had more money. Some ratio formula must be apply concerning the number of receipts. If so, what size container would Donald Trump have – boxcars full of receipts? No, probably skyscrapers full of accountants and money wizards at his beck and call. His fingers probably never touch a receipt.

My fingers haven’t touched these receipts since I stashed them in the bags. I wonder if I can use QuickBooks for next year?

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Learning blogging

Posted on February 23, 2008. Filed under: blogs, Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, WordPress, writing | Tags: , , , , , |

I’m gonna give the horses a break for a few days, so I can work more with this “variety blog” concept a little more. I’ve been editing some of our old stuff here — primarily re-writing the link to where you can click on the name which is writing hyperlinks in WordPress. I’ve still got a couple of entries more to convert.

And thanks to Lyndi , I’m now signed up with iStockPhoto and about to sign up with Dreamstime , which has a large library of free photos.

I have to say that I’m really enjoying using WordPress. I may even use a WordPress template for my author website.

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Homes of the Stars – Part 3

Posted on February 22, 2008. Filed under:, farm tours, horses | Tags: , , , , , , |

As promised, here’s Part 3. If you’re reading this, then you’ve seen my question to Suzanne about obtaining photos. This kind of blog needs photos. So maybe I should just give the horse topic a rest and move on to another topic, until I get this snag solved? ;->

Anyway, I promised a Part 3, so here it is. Enjoy!

So, you just found out that tours of Three Chimneys Farm where the popular Smarty Jones lives are booked up for The Entire Time you’re in central Kentucky? 😦

Never fear — other fabulous horses live here! 🙂 But where are they? And how do you find them?

Thanks to the power of the Internet, you can find out. First, if you’re looking for an individual horse, Google his name and see which farm site has him.

But let’s say that you would like to visit a farm on your own self-guided tour. A Bluegrass thoroughbred breeding farm is a beautiful place to see, kind of like a historic house tour. What visitors usually see on a farm tour is the stallion complex. The facilities often show distinctive architecture and beautiful landscaping. Each one has a different style.

To get an idea, as well as some ideas of where to tour, the website for The Blood Horse is a great place to look.

The Blood-Horse Magazine is a trade journal for thoroughbred racing and breeding. If you love pretty horse photos, you’ll drool over some of the ads on this site. But right now, you’re looking for horse farms to visit.Scroll down the page and keep an eye on the right hand column for the Farm Directory. Heck, you’ve probably noticed that the whole right hand border is ads for stallions and farms.

Click on any one of those ads or listed farms and look for the “about the farm” page. The magic phrase that you’re looking for is “Visitors Welcome” or, better yet, a link to contact for tours.

The farm websites are so pretty that you can almost save yourself the plane, hotel and car rental fare with a virtual tour. Plus, the virtual tour can take you everywhere.

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Homes of the Stars – Part 2

Posted on February 21, 2008. Filed under:, farm tours, horse stories, horses, KY, Lexington, Smarty Jones, The Bluegrass, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Remember Smarty Jones? (A picture would be nice here, wouldn’t it? ;-> Sorry – workin’ on it! 🙂 )

Smarty won the hearts of millions in his bid for the 2004 Triple Crown. Was it his comeback story from a nearly-devastating skull fracture the year before? Or his charming senior owners, The Chapmans, who showed us that dreams can come true? Or the way he ran with his ears pinned flat against his head, as if he knew about aerodynamics?

Well, fans who plan ahead, can visit Smarty. I probably should add that you shouldn’t try to pet him, unless his groom gives permission. We’ll cover horse farm tour etiquette in Part 4. (Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. Just some common sense.)

Anyway, Smarty now leads the life of a breeding stallion at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, KY, which is between Lexington and Louisville. The farm offers tours by appointment only.

I remember that when Smarty’s retirement was imminent, the Chapmans toured the Bluegrass farms in search of the best home, according to articles I read in The One of their requirements was that Smarty retire to a farm where his fans could visit him. Three Chimneys fit the bill. So, a prospective visitor wanting to see Smarty Jones needs to make an appointment. The Three Chimneys website has a link for contact info to reserve tours.

Keep in mind that Smarty is a man in demand, both for human visitors and his dates with The Ladies, which is his real job. There are certain times of year that his human visitor appointment calendar is booked up: the week leading up to the first Saturday in May (KY Derby time) and when events are scheduled at the nearby racetrack Keeneland. Plus, the farm is open for tours probably during limited hours on selected days. “Book early” is good advice to avoid disappointment.

But what if Smarty’s people say he’s tied up (or booked up?) Well, there are plenty of other stars in the Bluegrass.

Finding them will be the topic of tomorrow’s installment, part 3.

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Homes of the Stars – Part 1

Posted on February 20, 2008. Filed under: blogs, farm tours, horses, Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), KY, Lexington, The Bluegrass | Tags: , , , , , |

Let’s say that you’re a fan of Michael Jordan. And let’s say that you find out that he offers “calling hours” every so often in his home. Wouldn’t you like to know more?

Well, if you’re a fan of champion thoroughbred race horses and if that horse is retired in the Lexington, KY, area, you just might be able to go visit him. Some of the farms, although fewer and fewer, accept visitors by appointment. After all, these are still working farms. And breeding thoroughbred horses is big business.

But so is equine tourism – to the tune of $8.8 billion dollars a year, according to the Kentucky Equine Education Project. The Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau offers tourists a page of info on touring the farms. Visitors have a variety of options, ranging from group tours to independently arranging tours with the farms themselves.

Even if you don’t have a favorite horse to see, visiting the farms is a wonderful experience. Many farms are distinctive architectural wonders in themselves. Plus, the farm employees tend to be appreciative of their charges and happy to see interest in them.I tend to prefer calling individual farms myself. My next post tomorrow will cover ways to set up a tour.

(Bear with me. I’m still finding photos and learning this photo isnertion thing. 🙂 Thanks for your patience.)

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Me ‘n Luke

Posted on February 19, 2008. Filed under: horses | Tags: |

Let’s see if I can upload an image …

Luke is one of the Budweiser Clydesdales based out of Merrimack, NH.

Luke and his trainer/handler Bill Madson Luke the Clydesdale and I pose before his vandrove down to CT one fine May morning to headline at the H.O.R.S.E. of CT spring open house. H.O.R.S.E. of CT is an equine shelter and farm in

Luke is about 10 years old and stands at 17.3 hands. I stand at 5’3.” Never you mind my age. 😦 I’m just glad I’m still here. Ya know?

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Horse Story Corner – gulp

Posted on February 18, 2008. Filed under: blogs, horse stories, horses | Tags: , , |

It’s time I started firming up what I’m going to do with the “Horse Story Corner” feature. Should it be a section on a general blog? Or its own website? Decisions, decisions. Oy vey.

Probably the best thing I can consider is simply the content. Get those facts, then decide the presentation.

Right now, I can tell this will be a lot of work. And I’m still in first draft of the novel. And have been for  <cough!> X-number of years…

Still, starting with a events calendar might be a good idea. The “marquee events” of the horse story world would start with the release dates of upcoming horse stories. I would also like to include major equestrian events like the Triple Crown races, the Grand National, the annual World Games and the Chincoteague pony roundup. Birthday salutes of famous horses and horsemen …

This looks more like a plan for a magazine than a blog.

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