Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Mary Jane

This past weekend we splurged and took a little ski vacation to Winter Park with my sister Phyllis and Mike. Ginger owns a swanky vacation condo right at the main base area, and agreed to let us use it for half of the normal rental fee -- since that is what she normally collects after the management company takes their slice anyways. So it was a deal. Still a fairly pricey deal, but it is just sooo luxurious.

We got up there late Friday afternoon, and it was snowing like mad. So we cooked dinner (fondue and steaks - yum!) and settled in for the evening with a board game. We did take a peek out at the hot tubs - which sit nearly directly underneath the main base lift. Course, it was snowing so hard it isn't like we could actually see the base.

Since we aren't really big skiers anyways (note, I found a lift ticket on my ski parka from the 2000-2001 ski season), the skiing was secondary to the just getting away and having fun bit. Phyllis had found a 2-for-1 lift ticket deal, but the tickets were only good on Sunday. So we'd decided we would play on Saturday and, if we felt like it, ski on Sunday or just take off for home.

Saturday it was still snowing like mad. Breakfast about 9 am; finally decided we probably ought to leave the condo at some point about 11 am. Oh, the decadence of not having any ranchey things to tug us out of our pj's! (Phyl and Mike have 35 acres and a herd of 40ish Alpaca so we have lots of stories we can commiserate with.)

The weekend was "Mary Jane's BDay Celebration". Mary Jane is an associate ski area with Winter Park -- really they are the same area, but there are two bases, and the Mary Jane terrain is much steeper than Winter Park - so they do retain different characters though they run as one entity. Well, I'd never known that Mary Jane was a historical figure. A business woman who ran a brothel, she had owned the land which she sold to the ski area in the early part of this century. Anyways - we'd seen the fliers about all the activities in honor of the weekend, one which we were excited about was the snow sculpture contest. Cool! We figured we could walk around and look at those on our play-day. I inquired at the front desk where they were, and she said that they were mostly over at Mary Jane. OK, so we hopped in the car to drive to that base. Only, we did kind of forget the part about what a nightmare it is to try and park at a ski area. We marvelled at how far along the roads cars were lined up. Finally getting to the base, it was a mad house. So we waived over a parking attendant to get the scoop. HUH. Seems, first of all, that the parking attendants hadn't been briefed on the scoop. At all.

"Snow Golf? We have that here today?"
"Um, yes. So says the flier."
"Cool! It's probably here somewhere." Scans the throngs of people inexplicably still filtering onto the mountain at that late hour. And yet, doesn't see any sign of snow golf or costume contest in the immediate area.
"OK, what about the snow sculptures."
"OH - those are at the base of each lift."
"What? So you have to be skiing to see them?"
"Uh, yeah, probably."

Eh - what a bust. But heck, it's not like we had a busy agenda for the day.

So we headed down into town to walk a bit. We'd also seen that as part of the BDay festivities the stores were to get involved with "Mary Jane On Parade". Not really knowing what that meant, we asked the first shop keeper. Apparently shops get a life sized cutout of "Mary Jane" and dress them up. Customers can vote on their favorite ones.

"But we didn't do it this year."
"You didn't? Isn't it a big deal?"
"Well, we did it last year but didn't win."

And the next store:
"Oh, are they doing that again this year?"

And the next:
"Here's the flier for this year's festivities" (posted on the wall next to their register.
"Um, that's not the flier... That's the entry form for merchants to sign up to participate."
"It is? Oh, yeah, I guess so. Haha!"

We did, finally, find a Mary Jane entry, and thus unanimously voted for it as our favorite.

But we had a good time for an hour or so shopping. Even though they were close to each other, the snow was coming down so hard we still had to brush off before going into the next store. Eventually we purchased a deck of cards and headed back to the comfort of the condo for more games.

Ginger has owned the condo for something like 10 years, but there has been an explosion of development just in the past few as they added more retail and eatery spots in what used to be the parking lot. We toodled around the Village a little bit.

In the evening there was a parade on Main Street at 6 pm. So we stopped in town and found a covered spot from which to view it.

It was a fun little parade. We decided that like the Rose Bowl Parade this one had a decoration requirement -- that being tons of snow piled on your flatbed trailer. The ski patrol had the most impressive float, I thought. A full semi flatbed with several snow mobiles, skiers, toboggans, etc. We did laugh at the Forest Service float which had Smokey the Bear and posters about preventing forest fires -- and how they had a fake campfire with live flames on board not all that far from their propane tank...

Had dinner at a charming local saloon, then home to try and figure out whether we could order PPV. Gave that up when it soon became obvious that the only PPV they still offered was either X rated or Sports. Went to bed still unsure of the skiing prognosis for the next day. "Get up and check the weather" was the decision.

Well, at a lovely early hour of 4 am the snow plows were out doing their thing, 3 inches from our window. For a very long time. Have I mentioned it had been snowing since we arrived?

6:30 rolled around and, though I couldn't see much sans contacts, I thought I could see a cloud shape. Which meant the rest of the sky must have been clear. So - skiing it was.

We really had a great time! Took more runs than I'd thought to kinda get our ski legs back, but we took it easy. But you sure couldn't argue with the snow!

The morning started off sunny, but the clouds kept building and by noon time it'd started snowing again.

You might think this was a dramatic shot of Mike falling. It wasn't. It was supposed to be a shot of him so nonchalantly resting in the snow, but he decided to roll over just as I pulled out the camera! Anyways, the weather wasn't getting any nicer, so we quit about 1:30, had lunch in the lobby of the building and then each took off our respective directions home. It was a really fun time.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Forever Yearning

Below is the video that Heath directed for Ben Harper's "Morning Yearning". It's a beautiful song, and it is captured with incredible artistry in the video. On this day of thinking of Heath and all that he brought to us, I'm struck with a yearning I fear will never fade.

And so as it does in so many ways, his art is best left to speak for itself.

Thank you, Heath.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Still a blusterin'

Though a google search just now didn't uncover any fantastically supportive articles that this has been one heck of a windy month on the Front Range -- it sure seems like it's been the worst ever. A friend had a gasp/laugh when she commented upon my continued bitching about the wind -- have you lost any more fences? Well, no - it hasn't been THAT bad, I said. It's only been in the 30-40 MPH range for the past few weeks.

Yesterday I worked from home, and looking out the office window I noticed Ginger hand-walking a dog back up to the kennel. I made a mental note to ask her how he'd gotten out. But that afternoon Dave came in and said he knew -- we had another fence section down. *GROAN* But the amusing thing is that when we did ask Ginger about it she said that from the top of the yard you couldn't see that the very last section of fence was gone - it looked contiguous all the way down to the wire fence. So, in fact, she and 12 dogs were out there playing for some 45 minutes before one of the dogs discovered the opening! And of course, said dog immediately proceeded to lead all of the dogs towards the gap. Ginger turned tail and ran back up the yard, enticing all but two of them back into the upper yard, then proceeded to chase down the two wanderers.

Last week we had a scary wildfire just north of Boulder. Actually just at the base of the foothills where we used to live. There were 2 or 3 fires in total, which eventually merged. And I'm still unclear on all the causes but at least one if not two of them were caused by power lines that were blown down. We don't typically think of January as being a wildfire month, but all the vegetation is tinder dry as we haven't had snow for over a month and the constant winds have dried things out even more than usual. But having the winds blowing that day just fed those wildfires like crazy. It was a scary afternoon. Some 500 homes were forced to evacuate, and the barn where I used to board Jordan evacuated 45 horses before having to let the last 7 run and fend for themselves. Fortunately they all survived and were rounded up the next day once residents were allowed back on their properties.

This weekend we were at a friend's house for dinner and I picked up "The Big Book of Ifs" from her sideboard. I read several questions aloud for general entertainment. One was: "If there was one form of weather you could eliminate forever, what would it be?"

The room responded immediately and in chorus.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009


A few months ago Ginger received an unusual call; one of our very good kennel customers had been taken to the hospital and no one was available to care for her dog. Ginger immediately went over to pick up Snickers to bring her here. After that incident, we learned that Judy was very ill, and it wasn't long before she took leave from work -- meaning that we didn't see Snickers as a regular day care dog anymore. But she still brought Snickers in occasionally and stayed in touch.

The morning after Christmas, Ginger received a second such call from the neighbor. She again went and collected Snickers. It was a few days later that we got a call from Judy's son, with news that it looked like Judy was not going to recover. Both sons had come from out of state, and were in the process of carrying out her last wishes. Astonishingly, one of which was that Snickers become Ginger's dog.

Ginger has always intended to get another dog, since Patches passed November a few years ago, but hasn't done so. She and Judy never spoke of this arrangement, but somehow it feels kind of natural. So Snickers made the transition from staying in the kennel to shadowing Ginger all over the property. She's a cute, spunky little thing, long ago having won the hearts of our kennel staff. We have yet to get her and our dogs introduced to the idea of sharing the house together, but that will come.

Our thoughts go with Judy, of course. We're attend her memorial service is this afternoon. We'll take comfort solely in the thought that she is relieved of the suffering she's been going through and in knowing that 'Little Snicks' is in good hands.