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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Coffee, Croissants, CAI

This morning I spent in France at the Concours d'Attelage International [CAI] at Samurs, JOI [Joy of Internet] enjoying cafe au lait and omlette aux fine herbes [which is what I normally eat for breakfast *I know: pretentious*].  I am writing here to tell vous: it was incroyable!  The video & link will allow you to magically visit the show in France, too.  Be sure to click on both tabs: Samedi [that's Saturday to non-francophiles] and Dimanche [Sunday] to get the full flavor of the event.


For those who are unfamiliar with the CAI format, to host a show of this nature there are requirements to fulfill, which I will summarize.  You have to have at least three of the following:

1.] Monarchy on the payroll, OR a history involving deposing or beheading monarchy OR exhibitors with titles OR heirs to vast commercial fortunes

2.] A venue sporting castles, grand estates, vineyards or breath taking natural beauty and of rich historical significance- a place where people dream of visiting [IE: not Cedar Rapids, Iowa]

3.] International cuisine that features, but is not limited to, the following: croissants, chocolate, champagne

4.] Shiploads of money

5.] You must be able to pronounce and effectively use in a sentence the following: chef d'equipe, and be able to ascertain the difference between a CAI-A, CAI-B, CAI-A-2, CAI-P-B-1/2/4, and finally, you must be able to turn a dressage score in the low 80's into a score in the high 30's, without detracting from its awesomeness.

File:Chauteau Saumur 2.jpg
Chateau at Samur: see #2- grand estates
The event in Samur fits the description.  Home of Coco Chanel, for a brief time the Marquis de Sade [well, he was in jail there, but see #2 above- rich historical significance].  Despite the rain, there is a considerable number of spectators, no doubt there for the croissants and coffee: see #3 above, but perhaps also to see world class horses and drivers compete in a grand setting: see #2 above.  Note the sponsors: see #4 above.

Highlights for me: after watching the singles in cones, seeing the four in hands.  On. The. Same. Course.  Watching behind the scenes footage in the stable yard, where everyone is tranquil and relaxed, speaking softly the dulcet French language saying things like- and I will translate for those of you unfortunate not speak French  as badly as do I- "Mar-i-on, fetch a bucket of water for ze horse, if you very kindly will for to be most appreciated."  The S-A-M-U-R hazard on the marathon course.

C'est Magnifique! [Translation by Blackler: It is big, very fineness!]  With that, I'm off to find some pain du campagne, chevre and a glass of Cab Franc.  Enjoy the trip!

A Bientot and Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Accidental Sagacity Corporation company.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Old Wives Tale or Genius: Bug Eyed Flying Insect Repeller

Jack in Dreads
Jack Vermie is the kinda foster dad/grandpa every kid, regardless of age, should have in their lives: wickedly funny, irreverent, with a garden variety theatricality.  He is the children's movie that appeals equally to adults.  Jack weighed in on my fly control issues with his usual brand of common lunacy and told me to hang a baggie filled with water and several pennies above the door or in a window to deter flies.

I usually proceed with caution in Jack's advice because usually the joke is on me, which naturally leads to copious merriment of family and friends.  But this idea sounded crazy enough to work [even though Jack told me he would try it, but he didn't have enough money to spare to put in the bags].

I have ghettos of wasps under the eaves of my house and spraying chemicals into them is akin to being a soldier in Fallujha.  The proximity of the house to the barn is like a fly nightclub in Santorini.  Lucy hates it when I use the fly swatter and her seasonal Beagle allergies contraindicate the use of sprays to kill the pests.
Fly Away And Ye Shall Not Be Harmed
Michelle Blackler Really Is A Nutter, Isn't She?

So I go to the drawer, pull out a plastic zip baggie, fill with water, five pennies, and hang it above the door.  I wait.  I tell no one.  I test the device by eating lunch al fresco.  Not that many flies, but there is a lovely breeze.  I am not convinced.

This morning I enjoy my coffee out of doors; I count two wasps.  One of whom, flies up to the baggie and buzzes off immediately.  Gone. The other one also flies off in search of a home with a better school district?  Building activity on Wasp Condos seems to have halted.  Perhaps it is Wasp Memorial Day.  Normally I spill more coffee on myself swatting at these infernal flying devils than I drink.  There are no flies on the door awaiting it to open so they may rape and pillage the imagined treasure within.  HMMMMM.

The results are still preliminary, but I am going to hang some in the windows of the horse's stalls and see if it also works in the barn.  However, I think I will polish the pennies first.  And that is the carriage driving link for the blog.

Maybe it is just my imagination, a panacea, so if it doesn't work, you can all have a jolly good chuckle with Jack.  At my expense and with my pleasure.  Oh, and if everyone who reads this could send Jack a penny, he will make some and test them, too.  He promises.

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Accidental Sagacity Corporation company.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Full Body Fly Armor

Heeding dire predictions for a scourge of bugs this summer, I did my duty as an American and invested my tax return shopping online.  Did I buy new shoes?  No.  A new hat for my CDE debut?  No.  I bought full body fly armor for the boys and a natty fly sheet for Kitten.

Flies are the bane of summer.  They eat my horses alive.  Welts that itch turn into crusty bumps that itch more and turn into open sores.  I have several fly spray recipes of homemade hooch variety that I use, but treating the bites is next to impossible on my four steeds.  I have had fly sheets in the past and most of them are shredded in hours.  My horses are hard on clothes.

Testing Fly Armor In Reduced Calorie Pasture: the Weatherbeeta Dura Mesh Detach A Neck Fly Sheet and Roma Mesh Leg Wraps

Major, Don Pecos and Bijou [Ace] get the majority of bites on their noses, cheeks, jowls, necks and legs.  Kitten gets them on her body.  In the past, I have used Sleazy Sleepwear on the boys and a conventional sheet on the girlie, but they trash them in record time and any brand but Sleazy doesn't fit and invariably gets pulled over their eyes which causes no end of irritation.  As Sleazy-s are not intended as fly protection, although they do work, I wanted to find something that was made specifically for the task and would hold up to the rigors of the Morgans.

So, this year, armed with Uncle Sam's bequeath, after researching the reviews on Smart Pak, I purchased Weatherbeeta Dura Mesh Detach A Neck fly sheets, Roma Mesh Leg Wraps and a Baker Fly Sheet.  The reviews online were of great assistance in making a choice and I felt hopeful, if not entirely confident, of my purchase.

The Weatherbeeta DMDAN sheets were only available in what appeared to be a ridiculous lime green and grey plaid, which I was sure was going to appall Don Pecos.  The event of his probable protestations were over ruled by the industrial grade fly sheet material.  I couldn't resist the lovely brown plaid Baker Fly Sheet for Kitten because she could take no offense at the color nor the quality.

As it would happen, I bought the last two WDMDAN fly sheets in existence, but Smart Pak assured me they would find me another and ship it as soon as was humanly possible.  Meanwhile, I received the two full body fly sheets, the Baker and the leg wraps and set to fitting them, which, on my compact Morgans, is always a trial usually involving my sewing machine, testing my sewing skills.

The reviews told me to order small, which I usually do, the Morgans are small, albeit round.  I was very pleasantly surprised that the Weatherbeeta sheets were not nearly as offensive in color as I had feared AND they fit quite nicely.  The hardware was of good quality and very, very well designed.  They have belly coverage with the closure instead of the usual, rather useless nylon strap, serving the dual purpose of keeping the sheet in place as well as deflecting flies.  A great deal of thought and engineering have gone into these sheets and they are well worth the price.  There are some negative points: attaching the neck piece to the mask requires addition fasteners not included and because the neck piece is approximately 6" too short, attaching it would probably mean they would rip off the mask when they graze and the sheets have a nasty, new plastic odor.

Kitten Models The Baker Fly Sheet: Lovely

The Baker fly sheet is lovely, lovely, lovely.  Why, oh why Baker do you not make the neck attachments, too?

The Roma Mesh Leg Wraps come in a set of four, so I divided them into two pair for Don Pecos and Bijou and affixed them to their front legs which bear the brunt of the fly assault.  They are a little long for my short cannon boned boys, but 24 hours later, they are still on, and more importantly up.  Stomping flies ceased immediately and after the initial comedy, "What is wrong with my legs, I can't possibly walk with these things on," the boys seem content in their armor.

Bijou tested the products vigorously by rolling immediately.  They stayed on.  Then he decided to try to rid it of the Made In China Smell and rolled some more.  It stayed put and I must admit it is smelling more like Bijou, it still looks pretty good and I think it will stay looking better than the all white sheets, which look hideous after the first roll.  Twenty four hours later, the Baker sheet looks like it just came out of the box, naturally.

I will have to wait to fully endorse the Weatherbeetas to see if the unattached neck panel to fly mask keeps the flies off the horses necks and from biting their throatlatch area.  The masks are a little short, too,  I would prefer them to come further down on the horses' noses.  However, my initial, overall response is quite pleasantly favorable.

The Emperor Awaits His New Clothes With An Admiring Glance At The Full Body Fly Armor On His Brothers

Major is still waiting for his armor, wearing last year's useless excuse for fly protection: stained, stretched, shredded.  But, Smart Pak emailed me yesterday to say the last sheet had been located and shipped.  All in all, I must commend Smart Pak for their service.  This is my first order with them and it will the first of many.

Although, I hope not to be ordering more fly armor for a while.

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler
Serendipity is an Accidental Sagacity Corporation company.