Some days I really miss the silliness of Mama E and her Pips.
(Cheech and Chong got nuttin’ on these mustaches!)
In my ‘what the heck…better late than never‘ approach to life, I decided to do a 2017 calendar. This decision came out of the blue and was inspired by a total stranger…not so long ago. I can count the days ago. OK…maybe weeks ago. Where does the time a…go?
This is the eighth calendar in my photo career. For my last calendar in 2014, I used 86 photos and such complex layouts, I nearly strangled myself with baling twine. Or was it hari-kari with a pitchfork? When it was all over and done with, after the calendars arrived and I ripped into the box from the printer…I was proud. It was the most unique calendar of mine…ever. It was funny. It was charming. I got great feedback. I was so proud and exhausted by it, I told myself I would never do another.
Yet here I am. Again.
Without further ado, let me introduce the pages of calendar-2017…The Pips.
It started off all over the map. Initially I pulled 60+ photos as prospects. It was going to be a farm calendar…then a Pips calendar…but mostly in the end… it is a Pockets calendar.
With over 240 photos in the working folder, 67 made the cut. That little ponkey rules! It’s no wonder. She is incredibly photogenic and the most willing model around. And she loves wearing hats and beads. My kinda girl.
Here’s a little synopsis of the calendar, month by month, starting with the cover….
It was Mardi Gras season and Elizabeth, (Pips owner and #1 mama), was in her hometown of New Orleans. I was jealous. It was soooo cold on the farm. No better way to warm up than have a silly shoot with The Pips and celebrate Mardi Gras right here.
The Pips were all over-and-into the costume and bead bags. Grayson was fascinated by his ponkey-girl’s accoutrements. Pockets did not want to give up her orange shades and in fact did some laps around the pasture wearing them. Let’s have a parade! Krewe of Pips. That ponkey. That pony. We had a blast. Way better than being in the French Quarter for Mardi Gras. Well almost.
When we really get a good snow it’s a hoot to watch Pockets try to keep up with all the ‘biggers’. Those short little legs of hers! Sometimes the snow is up to her belly.
What an in-between month. I had a hard time choosing the right photos. Is it still winter? Or is it spring? Can I be Irish for a day? Let’s talk. Pockets always wants to talk. And I always like to listen in. Whether it’s with Mama G or whoever else she’s yakking up. No matter how silly.
Daffodils are sprouting. Tulips too. But who cares if you are a ponkey? So long as the grass starts growing again. Then…just like the rest of us…Spring Fever sets in.
Back in the 90’s, I photographed the Kentucky Derby three years in a row, right down on the track on the home stretch. Although I have mixed feelings about horse racing in general, it was an incredibly exciting photography experience that had just as much to do with the hats and the crowds, as it did the horses. Every year on the first Saturday in May, you will find me watching the Kentucky Derby on TV. Then, this year (2016), it dawned on me. Why not have our own little derby? Pockets was thrilled. Any reason to dress up and wear a big, pink, floppy hat is fine by her.
Both Grayson and Pockets were born in June 2014, at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Great reason to party down! What a big-sticky-fun-molasses-and-carrots-mess. The Pips would love having a birthday every month of the year.
Just about every time Elizabeth comes out to visit The Pips, there’s a walk involved. It’s so pretty around here, with the New River nearby and a nice big meadow for grazing. Heck yeah!
Can you tell we are Panthers fans around here? Well at least when they’re having a good year…we are. Even though Pockets dreams of being a quarterback, I think she makes a better punter. A backasswards punter.
So much for the Great Pumpkin. Right Pockets? I don’t think she’s a believer. Otherwise, she would not be chomping Great Pumpkin offspring. Agreed?
Aside from Thanksgiving, I’ve never been a big fan of November. The leaves have fallen, the days are shorter, and winter teases. Thank you Pockets, for sharing your good attitudes and bringing joy to November. Grayson too…you funny shag carpet…you.
It’s seldom The Pips are naughty, and if they are, it’s usually my fault for leaving a gate unlatched somewhere. Mostly nice they are, and certainly full of spice. Just ask Santa. He’s stuffing their stockings with horse cookies and treats…
We have done a small run of calendars with only ‘backyard’ promotions. Heck we don’t even have an e-commerce site up. It’s a project for a few friends and fans to enjoy. If you’re interested, leave me a comment or shoot me an email (email@example.com) and I’ll see if I can reserve a calendar for you. They are $15, plus $5 shipping in the US.
Happy Holidays from the tribe at Freeka’s Funny Farm!
Several days before I left for my bum-thumb-fated trip to Pennsylvania, we celebrated the Pip’s second birthday. It was sooo much fun! We invited some neighborhood friends, and kids, and parents, and a very special grandma, to join us for the festivities.
I had every intention of posting some great photos when I returned from my Fourth of July trip. It’s just that my dumb-broken-thumb got in the way. But now? I see it as a way to relive a magical afternoon. Every time I think of that afternoon, it makes me smile.
There were so many delightful photos, I had a hard time choosing. What follows, reminds me of a family album. I gotta admit…I’ve gone dizzy looking at some family albums. To the point of asking where the bathroom is…then asking for a glass of water…then…”Oops…I’m out of time…gotta run.”
I can’t help but think this family album…our Freeka’s Funny Farm family album…ROCKS! After all, it’s only once in a lifetime our beloved Pips…Grayson and Pockets…turn two!
Elizabeth and I wanted to have fun. BIG FUN. BIG KIDS KINDA FUN.
I figured we needed entertainment. Somewhere out on one of my hiking trails…it hit me. (I love how my brain works on hiking trails.)
YES! We must do…Pin-the-Tail-on-the-PONKEY!
First I sought Recluse Michel-MAN-gelo’s talent. Yup. Got him outta bed early that day…
Let the party begin!!
Dakota and Sabrina!Hittin’ up the treasure chest…Dakota and granny Allie… she’s my riding partner from down the road…she’s sixty-nine and kicks my butt on the trails with her little Paso Fino! Allie grew up with her Chincoteague pony who lived to be thirty five!I had a gut feeling the bunny ears wouldn’t last long on Pockets……whad I tell ya…
I’m not sure what kind of creature that is below. Yo…Sabrina!
I braided ten tails from baling twine so peeps could keep their tails. This was not a big hit. I found tails everywhere after the party. Sigh. Pioneer Woman…I am not.
As everyone took turns, they were spun around once wearing a blindfold, then directed toward the barn door. Slap that tail on, remove the blindfold, have a good laugh (for me especially…and apparently Dakota), then initial with chalk.
We took down the tails.
After the game, prizes were given to the kids. They were really special gifts Elizabeth had chosen from her horse collection…winner got first pick.
Sabrina and her mini-horse!There were books and cards and fun horsey things…including Elizabeth’s booklet about the Grayson Highlands ponies…See Elizabeth smiling her best ‘pony-girl’ grin…Meanwhile…the artistry continued. I was blown away by how cool the barn was looking!
Pockets inspected. “OH MY GWAD…MY BUTT IS A MESS!”
Now THAT is a HAPPY barn door…The party was rockin’……as the best carrot cake ever was served…But what about the horsies?I filled a trough with hay and had the troops sprinkle carrots on top…Suddenly there was an audience…Gypsy and Star!
They were most attentive…especially when the molasses appeared…That Star has a looong neck…I mean really loooong…We chased the barn gang out to the pasture and shut the gate. It was time for our great leaders to march in the birthday buffet!Next came Pockets and Grayson…with Grayson charming the girls as always…What a FEAST! (see the Elders patiently waiting in the pasture)Elizabeth and I took turns making birthday photos…while Grayson and Pockets munched down with total birthday abandon!…then finally the Elders were invited in…Here you see a bit of horse-heaven on earth…Did I mention it was hot? So very hot in the mountains?It sure did seem like that fan followed Dave wherever he went……I know you are wondering if Recluse Man ever got that beer open…Well…he did…After our guests left…I couldn’t find Elizabeth…But Grayson found the beer…
It was a birthday party we will always remember…even the two-year-olds. Right Grayson?OH MY GWAD. Such a poser that Pockets!And that my friends…is the end of this chapter from our family album.How I love a good Tale of Tails!
There’s something about a BIG snow that brings out the Neanderthal in me.
This behavior pattern…it seems to happen over and over again…whenever it seriously snows.
This is what I know.
I’ll find myself all toasty warm inside, standing at the door, mesmerized, watching a winter storm play out over the pasture below. Snowflakes putting on quite the show…suddenly sweeping sideways…or zipping upside down…or rocketing downward before crashing in a blur of mates. Their fellow snowflake-soulmates in the soulful snowflake cemetery in the pasture below. The snowful-mates are falling en masse. The snowflake cemetery is getting a pile on.
That’s when I get dizzy.
Where are the horsies? Usually I’ll see Pockets in her favorite position…looking my way from inside the little barn door.
And that’s when it happens. The Neanderthal moment. Cooped up far too long, I’ll suddenly feel like a lunatic cave woman who needs to come out of her cave-closet. It’s far more than just wanting fresh air. And it’s way worse than cabin fever.
I want to paint my face and shed my clothes. I want to run and shout and chase ponies and horses and snowflakes…like a neked crazy cave woman on the brink.
“AAARGHHGOBANSHEEEEZEETWERKERSHERFURYERMAMAMAGRRRRRRRGOGO!” (I’ll shout at the horsies).
BUT WAIT JUST A MOMENT! HOLD YER HORSIES!!
I am a 21st century Neanderthal-Farm-Chick. I close my eyes, breathing deeply through my nose. A moment of meditation. I gather myself. I do a downward dog. I see an upside down D.O.G. Time to make a run for it.
But first I must dress the part. Carhartt – Muck Boot chic. And instead of painting my face, I pack my camera bag. Then I am ready to go run and shout and chase ponies and horses and snowflakes.
I’ll yell at the top of my lungs…”BLAAAAH! BLAAAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAAAH!!!” (not very original…and the horsies are onto me)
So I wave my arms and shake an empty feed bag…”BLAAAH!”
My pec muscles are aching the next day.
Shall we get on to some favorite snowy farm photos?
The first January snow was a light one. Somewhat windy…but that makes it even more exciting for a soccer game.
Finally Star approached me cautiously…while Gypsy held back.
Whatever…I gave up.
Then the BIG KAHUNA came along. It was supposed to be a two foot mega-blizzard last weekend…but wimped out at barely twelve inches. I am very happy with wimpy snow. That very same wimpy snow is still glaring at me.
During the so-called blizzard…Pockets was briefly misidentified as a dirty snowflake…I couldn’t help myself. I turned Neanderthal and whooped it up…I may have had a little help…who dat?…Recluse Man?? Go Ahead!!! I’m ready…shake that bag!!!
Stay tuned for the next blizzard!
I’m sure she would agree with me when I say Pockets had a most interesting afternoon. That girl loves to expand her fonkey-ponkey mind.
For starters…Recluse Man had to make some final measurements before he gets supplies for some barn improvements. We’re extending the roof, adding some doors on the stalls and changing some gates. Apparently this is of great interest to the gang..and most especially Pockets.
Here’s to Pockets the Pupil!
Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, were during the two and a half years I delivered Meals on Wheels in Boone, NC. Although we were not supposed to dilly dally around or talk too much when we were doing our routes, I grew very fond of some of my folks.
During holidays when the kitchen was closed, I would surprise them with treats from the bakery. I mean really good treats. It was then that I could go at my own pace and sit down with my favorite peeps to share their wisdom and life stories.
I knew many of these elderlies depended on Meals on Wheels to receive one hot meal a day, even if they grumbled about the menu. Others would joke about the food and set it aside for ‘whenever’. Boy oh boy did those meals stink up my car. I never saw anyone so ravenous they’d tear right into their lunch.
Today I had a little déjà vu experience as Recluse Man and I moved truckloads of hay onto the farm. On our last load, we took a break and lookee who showed up for Meals on Wheels!!! I must say they had a no holds barred approach to lunch…those rascals.
NOW GIT OUTTA HERE!!
Mama E and I thought we would make a few Halloween portraits of the Pips before the big day. We planned to decorate the hay bales..try on some hats….get a few snaps.
May I present some Photos of the Day.
We could tell Pockets was excited. Anytime there’s dress-up and make-believe, that ponkey makes herself readily available…But this time was different. Halloween is coming right up and Pockets had an agenda.
It was such a gorgeous day in the mountains, when Elizabeth came for a visit we were all ready and rarin’ to go for a walk.
“Oh My Gwad,” said Pockets. “I waaana walk to da reever…take me to da reever…Oh My Gwad…pweas pweas pweas!”
For Photo of the Day pweas see Pockets the Ponkey on her walk to da reever…
…she couldn’t be bothered waiting for shoe laces and slow-pokes…“Reever here we come!”“I wanna meet a shark!”“Oh My Gwad…I can’t wait!”The Ponkey Express finally made it…“Hay was dat a shark? I saw a shark! I saw a shark!”That fonkey ponkey was sure behavin’ all wonkey.
Photo of the Day I own in every respect.
I left the gate unlatched to their stall and the Pips went AWOL.
Dang. How many times have I done that? Forgit it. I don’t have enough fingers.
Sometimes a little magic happens during the most routine of break-outs. I never know. And..umm… I’ve had lots of experience.
If it doesn’t look like total chaos, most often I’ve got my Nikon in hand before I’m out the door. Forget the lead ropes and halters. Let me do a little spying and sneaking around before the round-up begins.
From yesterday’s spying-before-the-round-up-efforts, may I present Photo of the Day…I think I’ll call this…
Gotta admit..it’s starting to look spectacular around here.
All the ‘finger-leaves’ painting on shades of fall.
Pips were hip to it.
Wait-a-minute…that’s exactly the right way!
Now git along lil ponkey!