They Shoot Wild Horses Don’t They?

Wild, wild horses we will ride them someday (Jagger/ Richards, 1970)

Captives from the wild
Captives from the wild

When I was a little girl growing up in Wyoming, horseback riding was my passion– almost an obsession. We were town-people in ranch country making access to horses somewhat onerous. When I took lessons on my rented horse Suzie, I would come home with blood dripping down the inside of my knees, saddle sores from gripping the saddle so hard in my efforts to perfect sitting in the seat of a western saddle.  In 5th grade, I looked out the window of our home. Dad had pulled up front with a horse trailer and bay quarter horse.  My very own horse—Debbie! It was love at first sight. While nowadays my children play soccer, lacrosse, and volleyball on the weekend, when I was growing up I rode Debbie whenever I could beg someone to drive me to the pasture.  My parents sold Debbie when I was a freshman in college.  Debbie wasn’t getting any attention and the funds for boarding were needed to help pay for my schooling.

Budweiser Clydesdale on display--gentle giants
Budweiser Clydesdale on display–gentle giants

I haven’t owned a horse since but I ride whenever I get a chance. I follow horses.  I have seen the magnificent draft horses at the Montana State Fair, the Clysdales when they were housed in Fort Collins.

I have attended an Arabian Horse Sale in Scottsdale, Arizona where several horses went for over a million dollars.

Arabian Horse Show for Millionaires
Arabian Horse Show for Millionaires

I have also seen the Lipizzans perform in Vienna.

Lippizzan in Vienna
Lippizzan in Vienna

No surprise that when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) advertises  Wild Horse Auctions in Boise, I drove out to see the captured herd, remnants of America’s great western plains legacy.

The first horses came to American in the 1500s with the Spanish Conquistadors. When the Spaniards left, they left behind what was to become the wild horse herds roaming the Great Plains.

The horse transformed Native American's culture.
The horse transformed Native American’s culture.

These wild horses or mustangs transformed Native Americans from hunters and gatherers on foot into fierce warriors capable of traveling long distances, hunting Buffalo and bedeviling white settlers and the Army.

New technology and the establishment of Indian reservations made the horse obsolete as a work animal by the beginning of the 19th Century. Wild horses were routinely shot wherever they interfered with cattle ranching.  In 1938 after the great drought, Congress created the United States Grazing Service later to become the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). BLM was responsible for regulating 143 million acres (261 million today) of public lands primarily in 10 western states, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico,  Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. Given the strong influence of ranchers on the BLM, the policy for wild horses remained to destroy them either through poisoning of water holes or paying bounty hunters to shoot the horses. The program was stunningly effective between 1946 and 1950, over 100,000 wild horses in Nevada were reduced to 4000 animals.  Because of public outcry over this needless slaughter Congress passed legislation in 1971 designed to manage and protect the remaining wild horses.

Horses up for adoption
Horses up for adoption

The horses up for adoption in Boise are a direct outgrowth of the 1971 legislation. Today, over 30,000 wild horses roam free in the west. But another 50,000 are kept in holding pens by the BLM. The holding program costs $42 million of the BLM’s  $72 million allotment for the wild horse program. Whenever the number of free horses, exceeds the BLM targets, the wild horses are rounded up.  The goal is to reduce the herd to the BLM’s lowest target number. I visited with the BLM horse program manager in Boise and he said the targets are scientifically established based on the number of horses which can be sustained in a multi-use environment.  Once the horses are rounded up, the BLM hosts auctions to adopt the young horses.  At next week’s auction there will be 24 fillies and 17 geldings all under a year old.  Given the high cost of maintaining a horse in today’s world, it is not surprising that many horses are not adopted. These Boise horses were harvested from Black Mountain, Hardtrigger, and Sands Basin because of the recent fires in Idaho.  In addition to the 41 wild colts, there is one halter trained horse available from the BLM 4-H program and one horse returned because an individual adopted in excess of BLM policy.

4-H trained mustang colt
4-H trained mustang colt

The wild horse adoption program has come under severe criticism this month for allowing a single Colorado rancher to adopt 1800 horses. The Inspector General determined the rancher shipped the horses to Mexico for slaughter, successfully avoiding the laws against killing wild horses in the United States. Because of this expose, the number of horses any one owner can adopt is 4 horses in six months.

Returned Horse from buyer who took too many.
Returned Horse from buyer who took too many.

The BLM program manager I talked to said he was very concerned with the long-term prospects for the wild horse program. Given a Congress intent on saving money and the costs of maintaining large numbers of penned up horses increasing,  the time seems ripe for new ideas on mustang management.  Recommendations from experts include better reproduction management, collaboration among all stakeholders to better protect the native eco-system, and placing the needs of the wild horses first rather than beginning with arbitrary range management statics.  I have no easy solution to advocate. After  spending a crisp fall afternoon watching once free horses nervously run in pens, I believe we need to find a way to sustain these gorgeous symbols of freedom and the old west in the wild.

Wild Horses and open range are our western legacy
Wild Horses and open range are our western legacy

Mission Impossible: The Quintessential Team

Mission Impossible planEthan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team have been roaming the world searching out bad guys in the commercially and critically acclaimed Mission Impossible (MI) series since 1996. In the newest of four sequels, MI–Rogue Nation, Cruise and his buddies, the Impossible Mission Force (IMF), are dismantled by a Congressional Committee at the behest of the CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).  Director Hunley, viewing Hunt a threat to America’s interests, commits all of the CIA’s vast resources to tracking Hunt down.  While the CIA is seeking Hunt, a network of former undercover operatives initiates a series of terrorists’ attacks to destabilize existing governments and establish a new world order ( a’la the Rogue Nation).  The plot hinges on Hunt’s ability to outwit the CIA while he and his IMF team root out the leadership of the Syndicate.

Cruise in 1996, Jerry McGuire
Cruise in 1996, Jerry McGuire

The movie has everything you would expect from a blockbuster; i.e.a big movie star, Tom Cruise, who had both Renee Zellweger and me, “At Hello!” in Jerry McGuire (1996). Cruise, now 53, is still in great physical shape and exudes quiet confidence. Hunt’s persona remains incredibly consistent through all five movies; the loner who establishes immense loyalty among the men and women he leads, propelled to do impossible feats by adrenal, shear willpower and commitment to his country.  Sexually attractive to women, he is unable to commit because his first love is the mission. The haunting Mission Impossible theme song (Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen) with the strong beat, recognizable to most Americans, strings the sequels together as does the continuation of members of the IMF team .  Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) has been in all five movies,  Benjamin “Bengi” Dunn (Simon Pegg) in the last three, and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) in the last two.

Rebecca Ferguson provides a role model of a strong woman committed to the team
Rebecca Ferguson provides a role model of a strong woman committed to the team

Newcomer Rebecca Ferguson, playing British agent Ilsa Faust, provides a strong female protagonist and  positive role model of the capabilities of women.

Rogue Nation engulfs viewers in a great motor cycle chase, impossible under water aquabatics, roof and plane jumping, guns, bombs, torture, fighting and surprising impersonations.  The plot line is propelled by dazzling techno/gizmos, disappearing data, and improbable security breaches. Needless to say, this is Tom Cruise and his team so in the end America and Europe are saved and  the Syndicate is annihilated.  While there is no surprise to the overall plot , there are lots of fun twists and turns throughout. Attending an $3 afternoon show at a second run theater, I certainly got my money’s worth.

teamThe five series Mission Impossible juggernaut, running 19  plus years  and amassing $2 billion worldwide, is propelled by a series of consistent themes.  The IMG team continues to resonate with viewers because  the core relationships are founded in the reality of successful  work teams. The  eight winning characteristics of the IMF team include:

  1. Ability to execute
  2. Focused on solutions
  3. Flexible/adaptable as the situation changes
  4. Proactive
  5. Loyal
  6. Trustworthy
  7. Organized
  8. Respect for and reliance on the unique skills of the team members regardless of gender

Every day business spends a fortune attempting to create the 8 facets of the successful IMF team culture. The next time your boss suggests a team building exercise, why don’t you propose going to Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation instead.team 2

In 1974 on Casper Mountain, I learned fairness and equity go hand in hand

Elton John Taco Bell Arena, October 2015
Elton John Taco Bell Arena, October 2015

Last weekend I attended the Elton John Final Curtain concert at Boise’s Taco Bell Arena. During one of his songs, a picture of a wedding cake with two men on top flashed on the big screen bringing a huge shout out from the 12,000 fans.  This response to gay marriage in Idaho, absolutely amazing! One year ago this week, Idaho allowed gay and lesbian marriage.  Our Governor and legislature fought this action every step of the way in the courts.  Idaho taxes paid $457,000 for this staunch opposition.  This week on public radio there was an interview with the one of the lesbian couples in the legal challenge.  Asked how their lives were different, they said they were able to return to normalcy without stress of one court action after another.  As a married couple, they now have legal benefits such as medical insurance, ownership of a home and being named on their child’s birth certificate.

This discussion led me back to the summer of 1974, a summer memorable because of Watergate and President Nixon’s resignation in August.   The summer of 1974 is memorable to me because it was the first time I confronted  gay and lesbian rights. I spent the summer on Casper Mountain as a camp counselor at a Girl Scout Horseback Camp.  In my first year of graduate school, I was lead counselor for a large number of girls and several other counselors.  The camp was over enrolled. Leaders were responsible for planning one meal a day outside.  We were in tents up a mountain side with wooden floors. I remember spending many evenings out in the rain, wrapped in a green plastic tarp with a shovel dredging around the wood floor to keep sheets of water out of the tent.  Or trying to get a campfire going to feed hungry girls as the rain slogged down. We were on horseback, the main activity of the camp, rain or shine, every day.  We spent two weeks up the mountain, a weekend off and then 2 weeks on all summer long.  I would visit my aunt in Casper on my weekends off, where she would soak my muddy socks in bleach and I would luxuriate in a bath and understand the lavishness of having a bed with clean sheets.  Otherwise, we were isolated up a mountain with only women and girls 24- 7.

About 4 weeks in, the counselors were called to an all staff meeting where it was announced that two of the counselors were sleeping together. Gay issues were definitely in the closet in Wyoming in the seventies.  As a graduate student at Arizona State University in sociology, a huge campus in a liberal discipline, I wasn’t totally naïve about sexuality.  But it took me a minute to wrap my mind around the dialogue.  There were two counselors in every tent and all the girls, so of course, we were all sleeping together.  Since lesbianism wasn’t openly discussed, I didn’t immediately grasp that we were talking about two camp counselors having an affair.  I remember general outrage among other counselors.  The final outcome was that two  women couldn’t share a tent or see each other socially during the camp because those of us with boyfriends weren’t able to see our ‘men” while on duty up the mountain. Looking back on that discussion now, I am amazed that we discussed it openly, resolved it based on the issue of equity and went back to slinging real mud out of tents precariously perched on rough terrain.

Since then, I have reflected on my Aunts Florance (Florrie), a giant red-haired woman and Lillian, petite sparrow-like creature. As kids in the fifities, we would go to South Carolina, visit my dad’s family including his mother, brothers and these two spinster aunts who lived together. I would wonder on the vast differences in their appearance and was never sure of Lillian’s relationship to us. Florrie clearly looked and acted like my dad’s side of the family.  Now I recognize that Florrie and Lillian were probably lovers living under the cover of spinster aunts. I am sure that in the small southern community of Lancaster, South Carolina the relationship was known and accepted if not necessarily endorsed.

In the sixties in Cheyenne, Wyoming, we had two teachers who lived together; Miss Kepner, the PE teacher and Miss Shubert, the choir director. They were known for their great teaching skills, their hard-nosed grading and for being peculiar.  A few summers ago, I was back in Wyoming visiting friends.  I saw Miss Kepner helping an extremely frail Miss Shubert to a park bench. They sat down and Miss Shubert leaned her head on Miss Kepner shoulder.  Such a small jester, but a clear image of intimacy, I actually felt like a voyeur.

In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same sex married. At that time, CNN noted, 60% of Americans opposed gay married.  Between 2003 and 2015, the percentage of Americans supporting gay marriage rose to 55% (Pew Research Center).  In 1974 on Casper Mountain, young women helping educate America’s future leaders decided that same sex dating was not a problem but an issue of fairness.  Swamped with mud and focused on getting through the day, we were too busy to judge people and their private lives, but we wanted everyone treated the same.  Between 1974 and 2014, most Americans came to the same conclusion:   Fairness demands that we be able to protect the rights of those we love through marriage.

Fairness and equity go hand in hand
Fairness and equity go hand in hand

Students receive apology for failed origami cat

Black model which now has directions
Black model which now has directions

In another post script to the Origami Community Education class, students received the following email today: Hello ORIGAMI students, We are so sorry that your handout was less than perfect for class.  Jeanette brought an edited version of the “cat” page, in case you wanted it for a future project!  Happy Origami!

For Directions click here: Origami Cat

Original post: https://julierobinsonblog.com/2015/10/09/there-are-worse-things-in-life-than-making-a-blue-penguin/

Cats Desimate Paper Skull

His Highness Satch and willing vassal, Angel had a busy night.  The origami skull described in the last post was found destroyed this morning.  The other pieces of  origami scattered about the house had been shredded.  Obviously, a night raid had been successfully planned and executed.  All Halloween origami is now gone from 775 N. Ashtree Way.

There are worse things in life than making a blue penguin

Our house is filled with colorful paper wonders; cranes in all size, prancing horses, and octagonal boxes made from post-it notes. My daughter, Kayla started origami, Japanese folded paper art at a young age.

Crane from church program
Crane from church program

Now, whenever she is bored (for example sitting in church) she folds the paper available to her into cranes.

I love the small wooden chest I received last year filled with four cranes, less than an inch tall ranging in color from dark to light blue. There is a hand-written note inside saying the dark to light cranes represented a mani-pedi, back rub, IOU of my choice, and animal care.

Birthday Gift, each crane represents a different chore.
Birthday Gift, each crane represents a different chore.

 

I was so sadden to hand in my crane after Kayla fulfilled the IOU request; the other cranes remain happily nested in their wooden box unclaimed. I imagine they will stay there until I die since they are small enough to move to a nursing home with me.

When the Community Education Program offered Easy Origami, show off your results with fun Halloween, I immediately signed up. There were ten of us in the class, 2 men and 8 women. Most of the women were over 50, wearing glasses and had free time, growing proportionately to our graying hair and dimming eyes. Our instructor, Jeanette, was enthusiastic about paper folding but challenged as a teacher. We all sat around an oblong table. Jeanette perched at far right corner and I at the extreme far left diagonal. Jeanette explained that the silky, smooth, thin, two-sided kami (Japanese for paper) was too expensive for a class of our size and cranes too difficult for a novice. We were to make our Halloween items from a multi-hued stash of large stiff paper. Participants closest to Jeanette snagged the blacks, oranges, whites, grays and purples before the stack got to my end of the table, leaving four of us to make bright blue bats, yellow and pink skulls and red cats.

3-D Skull with helmet eyes and scissor shape
3-D Skull with helmet eyes and scissor shape

With our paper in front of us, Jeanette announced that she wasn’t a “purist”. We could use glue and scissors. Then she sat down and began folding a 3-D scull at her seat while shouting, “Fold here, then here!” Glasses perched on the ends of our noses, the three females at my end of table let out a collective protest; “We can’t see! Can you do that again?” Instead of demonstrating, Jeanette scurried over and folded all of our skulls for us.

Up next a bat. The talented, patient woman beside me easily grasped the “mountain” and “valley” folds while making the skull. I remained clueless. She helped fold my orange paper into some semblance of a bat.

3-D Bat-use your imagination!
3-D Bat-use your imagination!

I finally gleaned that every origami starts out with a valley or mountain fold, (folding the paper in half). Paper folded up is a mountain and pointed down is in a v is a valley. While I was still wrestling with the helmet fold, a precursor to bat ears, the man around the corner completed his blue bat without ears and announced it looked like a penguin. To which I retorted, “There are worse things in life than making a blue penguin.” The quick-learner next to me added, “That would be a good slogan for this class.”

Our final form and biggest challenge of the evening was to produce an 3-D cat.

Black model before he was unfurled.
Black model before he was unfurled.

Jeanette told us to fold a basic diagonal, then fold again. Staring at her folds, Jeanette laughed and said, “I have no idea how I made the cat before you.” She unfolded the sample successfully triggering her memory. Alas, while this exercise helped us achieve some semblance of cats, the model’s former cat-like nature was lost forever in a morass of paper folds resembling a smashed fan. Demonstrating my pragmatic approach to life, my cat gleaned its ears from cut out triangles rather than the complex, un-mastered helmet fold.

My scary efforts at orgami, black cat made with red paper and cut out ears
My scary efforts at orgami, black cat made with red paper and cut out ears

Origami practice led to revolt rather than perfection. As the evening progressed, our fingers got less agile, our eyes tired and our paper projects became less recognizable. Ninety minutes into the 2 hour session, a lady at the far end threw down her mangled cat announcing, “I took this class to find something relaxing and this is the most stressful thing I’ve done in days.” Jeanette blissfully noted that 2 hours was too long to do origami and we were free to go.

Feeling craftier than I had in years, I greedily gathered up my haunted house, twisted tree, orange bat, red cat, yellow skull, extra paper and proudly hauled them home.   These Halloween symbols are strategically placed around the house and have become a source of great amusement to my two cats who bat them around, mistaking them for mice on steroids. My daughter, the origami expert, has not noticed the invasion of the inferior paper projects or is too kind to criticize of the low quality of her mother’s  art.

Feline Military Leader Seizes High Ground

Satchel, tomcat ruler of 775 N Ashtree Way, has shamelessly transitioned from Colonel of the Washrag Brigade to ‘His Highness’. Annexing the baby grand piano, previously out of bounds, he is impervious to the lowly home owner’s efforts to make him relinquish his stolen territory.

King Satchel, annexing piano
King Satchel, annexing piano

All furniture has been moved from the great room to make room for hard wood.

Cat reigns over barren kingdom
Cat reigns over barren kingdom

The installer mistakenly informed the homeowner that cats usually hide with the installation noise. King Satch has instead chosen to luxuriate on the piano, now repositioned in the kitchen, as the work continues.

King Satch relaxing on piano throne
King Satch relaxing on piano throne

He treats the stiff, ripped blue furniture cover as if were royal blue velvet lined with ermine. He stretches to his full 40 inches and luxuriates on the rough quilting. The canine members of his former Brigade are beneath his gaze, forgotten peons wishfully gazing up at his Highness from the floor. King Satch has demoted Little Kitty to a vassal, left to trespass on counters out of the King’s eye sight and still be in the presence of his greatness.

Vassal admiring His Highness
Vassal admiring His Highness

Occasionally, Little Kitty is responsible for holding potential poachers at bay when His Highness is absent from court.

Vassal guarding kingdom from serf
Vassal guarding kingdom from serf

In return for such service, King Satch will allow his vassal to pay him homage.

Vassal, Little Kitty, pays homage to King Satch
Vassal, Little Kitty, pays homage to King Satch

Adjectives describing His Highness: Independent, unpredictable, clever, resourceful, stealthy, graceful, adventurous, bad tempered.  Can you think of more?