I realize I haven’t set a word on Screen Doors and Saddles for nearly a month. The reasons for this include, but are not limited to an incredibly hectic August work schedule during which we continued our website overhaul with the great team at Riata Partners, and managed (happily) to produce a brimming September/October issue of Western Horse Review – which by now you’ve all received in the mail. Note: If you are not a subscriber, you can sign up here.

Over the summer we added three talented individuals to the Western Horse Review team – each of whom I hope to introduce to you this fall – and, in just a few hours we begin Day Two of our annual editorial and sales meeting – brainstorming ideas and building a plan towards giving you a magazine you’ll look forward to for each issue in 2012. It’s a creative-busy at the log house today.

Somewhere in the past 60 days or so, this thing called summer also appeared and permeated each day of our family’s life. This year, I really made an effort to take the time to enjoy each beautiful day, despite those pesky deadlines of an editor’s life.

It all began with driving this from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Murphys, California. Well, mostly I sat in the passenger seat and commented on the changing landscape while my partner Dean, drove.

It was his idea to travel across to Murphys, which is a quaint little town in the Sierra Foothills of California.

He wanted to take in this.

Willie Nelson and friends, including the so-amazing-and-I-can-still-barely-believe-I-saw-him-live, Jamey Johnson. They were playing at an amphitheatre at Ironstone Vineyards. Some ideas are simply brilliant. We stayed at a beautiful B&B, but also checked out Murphys Suites for future reference – gorgeous.

Photo credit: Circle Oak Ranch

Next we headed down to Petaluma to visit with friends Ron and Sara Malone. Ron and Sara own and operate Circle Oak Equine, an amazing equine rehabilitation facility. Ron is an avid amateur cutter and his attention to detail was evident in the construction of every building and arena on the property, but as a green thumber, I was most taken with Sara’s gardens and her beautiful hands-on care of the grounds. Scattered across the property, each bit of her patina of landscape added to the simple sereneness of the ranch. We had a divine dinner with the Malone’s, complemented by the vintage Ian and Sylvia Tyson music Sara played for us. I loved it. Plus, we learned how to make foolproof chicken pens and tomato cages constructed for a lifetime. Unfortunately, it rained for most of our visit, so I missed taking photos. Next time. . .

By the time we hit the Golden Gate bridge on the morning of our departure I was ready to come home to my own gardens, grounds, kids and animals.

The rest of the summer was an inspiring combination of busy relaxation.

Wee and I horse camped and consumed copious amounts of chips and smoked oysters.

She also found the pleasure of fresh berries, cream and a sprinkling of sugar.

Blue checked another off his bucket list when he gave visiting exchange student Grace from Mexico her first ride on a horse. Muchas gracias Grace for coming out to the log house to visit!

The gardens survived this.

Teenager showed Pokey.

And, we realized she had outgrown our beloved one-blue-eyed pony, and the search for a new home for her began. Pokey, not Teenager – we’re keeping her around for a bit yet.

Here she is with next year’s project.

Wee showed Blue.

And, learned to lope. Quite enthusiastically.

We stood on the streets to watch more than one parade.

And raved over the abundance at a country fair.

We lost a dear friend and neighbour in a baling accident, which all but broke our collective hearts. Remarkably, life is resilient and coaxes us on to sunnier days.

We found ourselves still dressed like this on more than a few late mornings.

And spent some afternoons simply, like this.

And this.

And this.

We filled days riding with visiting friends and family.

Made weekly visits to luscious farmer’s markets and cooked and baked up a continuous menu of delicious dishes.

We treated our senses with a giant bouquet of the last of the blooms from our flower garden.

And there in a nutshell, lie the reasons my blog posts ground to a trickle. Summer happened. It took over, and this year, as I haven’t always in the past, I refrained from interfering with it’s rythmn.

But, I really missed composing my posts. I’ve grown to love contributing to Screen Doors & Saddles. While I wasn’t actively blogging, I was filling the larder in a sense, gathering the stories, photos and the ideas and the inspirations for an abundance of upcoming posts. For this weekend, my family and I are going to enjoy one last long weekend of summer. And, I trust you are as well.

See you next week.