Thursday, May 27, 2010

Emerald And Pearl ~ Miracles At The Ranch

I love writing about our years at the ranch. Miracles appeared in the oddest of places at the oddest of times. Our two white baby kittens, Emerald and Pearl appeared in a trailer load of alfalfa hay one hot summer afternoon. We had loaded the trailer ourselves with freshly baled hay directly from the field. The trailer was packed, front to back. We closed the back doors, and drove over 30 miles to our little ranch. When we unloaded the trailer, there, among the bales of hay, were the two most adorable long haired gems of kittens. Emerald and Pearl were perfect names for the two females. They immediately became the queens of the ranch.

We already had a huge brood of ranch cats. Our Queen Bee, Betty (“You can call me Elizabeth”) had just given birth to Rastus, Alvin, Calvin, Marion, Brother Pete, and my good friend, Dom (Domnick) Big Mike’s Boy from another Mom, and Mike himself. They rounded out the gender balance at the ranch.

They were lovers, and lounged in the hay where I had built a little shelf out of bales for them to eat and sleep. Pearl became every one’s little Pearly Girly. Early mornings on the ranch were cold and often windy. I remember one particularly cold morning (as I was bending down to pick up several flakes of hay) when Pearl jumped up and wrapped her furry little self around my neck. It would become our morning ritual. She would purr in my ear and keep my neck warm as I would walk the fields and hay and grain the horses and goats. Pearl was the girl of the ranch, and even Emerald adored her sister. There was something special about them both, but Pearly Girl was the Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Students fell in love with her, and she would stay wrapped up in Kathy’s Jacket while she taught all morning.

Her blue eyes were alluring and deep and she held court with her fellow creatures at the food bowl. I had to buy metal cages to trap her pet skunk that would eat with her early mornings and had to move her cat food from public access because she liked to share it with the goats, Jack London, his wife Daisy, and his daughter, Justin’s Little Rose. They came one and all. As Emerald and Pearl grew older, it became apparent to us that Emmy wasn’t Emerald, but she was Tom. We had Tom fixed for every one’s comfort.

Tom and Pearl were inseparable and endlessly basked in the afternoon sun. Sadly, our Pearly Girl left us all too soon. The ranch was saddened beyond belief but none more than my friend Tom. He was inconsolable in his grief. He was depressed, hardly ate, and became a grouchy and sad loner.

We soon moved to our new ranch. I loaded Snowy, and Buddy in the trailer and put Dom and Tom in a cat carrier. Traveling down the windy Dry Hollow Rd., I looked in the rear view mirror of my Ford flat bed to the horse trailer just in time to see what I thought was a white sheet of paper blowing away. It was my friend Tom. I believe his grief was too great, unlike Humpty Dumpty, my Tom jumped instead of fell. We searched the roadsides for days to no avail, Tom (Emerald) and Pearl had disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.

Miracles. Albert Bianchine

Friday, May 21, 2010

Having The Heart For It

Great racehorses are said to have great hearts. The average size of a race horse’s heart is 6lbs. The Veterinarian that performed the autopsy on Secretariat estimated that his heart was three times the size of a normal horse’s heart at about 22 lbs. Secretariat’s large heart is from the x-chromosome received from his Dam. It is called the x-factor and was traced to the Dam, Pocahontas. Her lineage is traced back 200 years to the Great Eclipse who had a heart that weighed 14 lbs. It is why Secretariat was able to win the Triple Crown and the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths establishing a new track record that still stands today.

Several years ago, we were living on a ranch south of the Town of Silt, Colorado along County Rd. 331 or Dry Hollow Road. We lived in a log home built in the late 1800’s, a home that had a Sears Kit Home shell built around the logs in the early 1900’s. It was on a twenty five acre parcel with a large stream running through the property at the base of a 100acre Mesa. It had great character. It once was the center or hub of activity because it had the only water and well. Ranchers and farmers would bring their livestock and horses there to refresh and nourish. It had the feel of antiquity. The bluffs above were inhabited by hoot owls, nesting red tailed hawks, and bald eagles. We found out quite by accident that a large mountain lion called the ranch and the bluffs home. My good cat friend, Big Mike, disappeared our very first night there. He was the man. Unfortunately unknown to us, the big, big cat was THE MAN. We never saw Mike again.

Welcome to “The Hadios.” Life was hard but wonderful. Only Big Mike’s son Dom, a more timid version of his dad was able to survive. Our rescue ranch had grown and we needed the extra land for the horses and for our school. Students were coming to Kathy’s classes from all over the world. It was great enjoyment filled with learning, healing, and miracles.

The geological structure of the semi-arid landscape, and rocky formations also lent itself to natural gas drilling. The large gas companies did just that. We often joked that it was Saudi-Silt. The regulations on the number of gas wells that could be drilled in a certain area were deregulated under George Bush’s Administration. Everywhere you looked at night you saw miniature Eiffel Towers lit and working. The support crews for wells are tremendous and the flow of traffic and trucks were at times almost unbearable. So were the accidents, too numerous to mention. The current catastrophe in the Gulf is not an isolated incident. It is business as usual.

One particular full moon evening I was awoken by Kathy who was sitting beside our bedroom window. Our little ranch house was surrounded by a massive herd of Elk. She was quietly listening to them communicate. We had no idea that they clicked, whistled, grunted, and talked so much. It was a moving experience. We at first thought how blessed we were, but soon realized that they weren’t there because we had a particularly good aura about our ranch. They were there because it was the only safe haven amidst the drilling and fracing the goes on 24 hours, seven days a week. The poor animals habitat had been filled by brightly lit towers with drilling equipment and trucks that are never ending. They were dazed, confused and milling about because their migratory paths and grazing grounds were no longer.

We operated a healing ranch where amazing therapy was given to wretched animals who desperately needed it. There was nothing we could do for these creatures. We went to bed saddened beyond any grief we had ever known. They were gone in the morning. Only the big cat was there, out in the tree, calling out my friend Dom, but he was always too smart to fall for his ploy.

These days, I live in a wonderful home in a beautiful community, and I write. I think often of the days on the ranch, hearing my cell phone ringing and not being able to find it. Only to discover that my trickster Appaloosa Snowy was on the other side of the enclosure with it between his lips and shaking his head up and down. Laughing at me because he had stolen it from my pocket while I was mending fences, I got pretty good at mending fences after the herd of Elk would come and huddle at our little refuge. I never minded.

It brings me back to having a heart, a big one at that. I don’t write now because I have the heart to, the truth is, I write because I don’t have the heart not to.
Albert Bianchine

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Beaten Path Is For Beaten People

I want to be a hippie again, and walk the Pacific Northwest Trail along the McKenzie River in Oregon. I want to walk in the meadows, and picnic with my wife Kathy among the blossoming wild flowers. I want to write poetry and prose. Perhaps some of it might be good. I want learn to write sonnets, and to play a guitar. Maybe I will finish The Ballad of Tom Dylan. It will be the last song in the CD entitled Living the American Dream. It is the music score for my screenplay about the history of Arapahoe Basin in Colorado. It includes a rousing remake of the song I had too much to dream last night. It will be the song that will be playing when the credits are rolling and all the movie goers are beginning to leave the theatre. They will be talking about how breathtakingly beautiful the mountain is that sits just below the Continental Divide, and how dastardly the Senator who owned Ralston Purina was that bought the mountain in 1978. They will remember what it was like to be a carefree hippie in blue jeans with long hair and a beard and to have people say things like, “Who does he think he is, Christ?”

My movie will remind everyone what it was like before you realized that nothing ever changed. The revolution of the 60’s came and went, and we fought in the streets. The Senators and Corporations had an iron tight grip on America, and the progress of it. The words of Paul Simon were true, “All the people bowed and prayed to the neon Gods they made … And the sign flashed out it’s warning, left it’s seed while it was storming … And the sign said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls.”

I started the project when I was living above my musician friend Gordon Grey on Van Antwerp Rd. in Niskayuna, New York. Over the years, my interest in song writing, poetry and prose slowly faded. The glimmer of light in my soul was almost extinguished. Oh! I made the occasional rumblings, something about writing the great American Novel.

I then went to work in a wealthy Colorado ski resort where I was called upon to design expensive systems to melt snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways. The fabulously famous and wealthy individuals had endless dollars to spend on the conveniences. They didn’t want to get their Apres Ski Fur Boots wet when leaving their ski vacation home (one of their six vacation homes.) Their Range Rovers or H2 Hummers just couldn’t get close enough to the marble floors that lined the entry way.

I became very good at it (and wasting millions of BTU’s of heat doing it.) Maybe BP should have called me to solve their ice crystal problem in the containment dome. I have been a plumber for thirty years now. I can run a pipe anywhere and automatically melt anything and waste a tremendous amount of natural resources doing it. I’m that good. I might have even checked the backup battery on the "fail safe" device, had I been called upon.

President Barack Obama is a hero that I admire greatly. He has inspired me to write again. I don’t have many men-hero’s anymore. They have all been such a disappointment. The real reason I am writing again is because of something my wife Kathy said to me in passing. She was discussing writing a blog. “You know Al, you could be the next Kilroy, the face and hands on the freight trains years ago that said “Kilroy was here.” The hippie in me liked that.

Maybe I’ll be the next folk hero like Johnny Appleseed. The difference will be that I will write blogs that go viral. Then I’ll move to Oregon and hike through the Sisters Wilderness along Century Drive over the Santiam Pass. I will climb Three Fingered Jack. It reminds me a lot of the Grand Traverse. I’ll go into Eugene to The University of Oregon and have poetry readings and teach workshops and chant “Peace and Love.” I’ll invite all of the children to fill empty auditorium seats to enjoy my work. Everywhere I go I will leave people with little pieces of paper filled with poetic prose to give them all something to think about when I’m gone.

Sometimes when I’m driving in my work truck to install another incredibly expensive snowmelt system, in the shadows of my nemesis, a large Oil and Gas Company, I try not to resent them for single handedly driving us from our ranch. Natural gas was bubbling up from the creek. They installed a gas sensor near the crawl space of my house, even though there was “nothing to worry about.” And even if there was, the gas bubbling up in the creek near where my horses drank was not their fault.

If I’m really quiet, and I am meditating, I can almost hear the song. My soul wants to be a hippie again, because the beaten path is for beaten people.
Albert Bianchine

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Miracles Of Babaji

I was once a Godless cretin, carving a path of self serving destruction and manipulation of people, places, and events for my own benefit. The life that I led ended badly for me and I had to change. It was at that time that I discovered Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. It was a book destined to rewrite my life, and introduce me to Mahavatar Babaji.

Babaji is a timeless Saint considered to be a Yogi-Christ of Modern India. Paramahansa Yogananda describes him as a deathless Avatar. An Avatar is unsubject to the universal economy. His pure body, visible as a light image is free from any debt to nature. He is solely responsible for bringing Kria Yoga back to humanity. This is a scientific method for achieving Nirbikalpa Samadhi, a state of changeless God-consciousness. The lineage of the Self-Realization Fellowship began with Babaji. He was guru to Lahiri Mahasaya, who became guru to Sri Yukteswar, who became guru to Paramahansa Yogananda, the final guru and founder of the fellowship.

I became a yogi of the order through initiation, and meditate and perform Kria Yoga daily. There have been a multitude of miracles in my life since enrolling in the fellowship. I would like to share them. Upon receiving a letter from The Self-Realization Fellowship, my then Property Manager (and boss) who grew up surfing on the beach in the shadows of the Encinitas, California Ashram took a second look at me and later became my wife.

Together we started a rescue ranch for horses and I learned Equine Massage. I became a healer instead of a plunderer. We rescued a two day old colt with Congenital Flexural Deformity who was about to be euthanized. Through aggressive manual therapy, we straightened his crooked legs, and in time, he grew strait and tall. Unfortunately, he was taken from us in a horrific accident. We were devastated. Although our loss was great and our hearts were heavy, we moved forward with our mission to heal.

In the past, it would have served to close my heart and harden it. Instead, through Kria Yoga, my heart seemed even more open and full of love. I realized it was my mission to help ease the burden of these poor, tortured, and wretched creatures. The miracles came to us in all sizes, shapes, and needs.

Robin, a paint horse who fell seventy feet from a cliff and survived, her right leg was turned and bent. It was scarred, and practically frozen. Her body was lame, and she was being used as a brood mare. Her hooves were overgrown and splitting.

We watched our massage students work tirelessly to break up the scar tissue and stretch her stiff and sore muscles. Their efforts were rewarded when during a class session we looked out of the windows into the arena to see Robin loping around it.

Sid and Sam, a Percheron pair of behemoth brothers appeared. They were in excess of 2000 lbs a piece. Sid, the older brother, so overworked, had laid down on the trail while pulling a sleigh. I was to revel in the sound of his thunderous hooves as he and Sam would gallop to their grain in the morning.

A quarter horse mare named Sister stood over her lifeless foal. She was moaning and sighing. She turned and placed her giant head against my chest. My natural instinct was to cradle her as she stood and moaned. We found out later that the local vet had inadvertently taken a blood sample from her twin sister by mistake. His misdiagnosis allowed Sister to go untreated for Fescue Grass poisoning.

An unnamed horse came to us through the Silt, Colorado auction barn. Thin and frail, she collapsed as the arena gate was closed. We stepped in and purchased her before the killer bought her and we named her Tahoe, after where we were married. A wretch of a creature with open sores on her legs, and ulcerated nostrils causing nose bleeds. I labored constantly cleaning the water troughs because the other horses wouldn’t go near the bloody water. There was nothing that we could do for her. We comforted her with Veterinary Care and all that she could possible eat, as she hopelessly lost weight and wobbled around our fields. When the quality of her life became unbearable, we called the vet to euthanize her. We humanely ended her pain and suffering and it was at that time that my heart truly began to open and the years of bitterness disappear. I realized my calling was to help these creatures move on to a loving God.

Over the remaining years of the ranch, we had many tragedies as with Tahoe, and each one opened my hardened heart further. I didn’t think I had the capacity for any greater love and compassion. We always found the room in our hearts for more. We reveled in each individual success. Dreaming Doc, a double bred Doc Bar Quarter horse, was so special that we gave him to a young girl nicknamed Whistler, who had witnessed her own horse’s death. She renamed him Bullet. Whistler and the Bullet went on to win the Junior National Christian Rodeo Championships.

Our rescue ranch ended with our old quarter horse couple Kota’s Rookie Page, (Buddy) a grandson of the great Poco Bueno, and his wife Sage. Buddy was our first rescue from a wilderness outfitter. He was lame in his left front shoulder. Sage, an unwanted red dun quarter horse was rescued from the dark recesses of a breeding barn for miniatures. She was lame in both front legs. They lived out their golden years together, and were euthanized as a couple when the Vet advised us they could no longer survive another winter. This was a particularly difficult and heart breaking passage.

The final chapter to our rescue story was an E-mail from the woman that fell in love with and bought my Appaloosa named Snowy. He was a gray horse that succumbed to the skin cancers we so valiantly fought. My Pegasus finally got his wings.

Perhaps you are wondering why I’m telling you these stories of love, compassion, ignorance, and cruelty. The veil of Maya was lifted from my eyes and I am one of the world’s wretched creatures bathed in the light of Babaji’s saving grace. I am one of his miracles.

I ask for your help in saving the Haidakan Ashram in India. It is threatened by the Indian Government. They are planning to build a large dam at Jamrani near Haldwani in Uttarakhand. It will flood the valley and destroy the temple built more than 100 years ago with the hands of the spiritual saint It will destroy his Ashram, a Mecca to thousands of devotee’s. If you are not familiar with Babiji, I would recommend that you read Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda.

Please help by going to and signing the petition to save the Ashram. Albert Bianchine

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't Let The Gate Hit Your Butt

Cowboy wisdom comes at a stiff price. My Equine career consisted of working for fifteen years in a Rescue Ranch and an Equine Massage School. I made all the novice mistakes. I was a true green horn and paid dearly. Real life consists of people who make mistakes every day.

One of our early rescues was a fifteen year old gray Appaloosa named Snowy. He was not able to be ridden and had a bad attitude. We would soon find out the cause. A local rancher explained that the outfitter had a problem with him not responding to the reins when they tried neck reining him. Their solution was to put large pointed tacks in the reins so that when they laid the reins over his neck, they would stick him. He would eventually learn to move away from the reins. They didn’t take into account how stubborn an Appaloosa really is. This just served to ruin him. They ended up packing him between the mules and he spent his career there.

My wife Kathy, being an English rider, suggested that I mouth rein him. I tried it, and Snowy responded well. He resisted when urging him to move forward, especially at a speed greater than a walk. I remember clearly saying to Kathy, “Open the gate to the big field, I’m going to teach him to run.”

“Perhaps that’s not a good idea Al,” was her response. “Just open the gate,” I replied curtly. She smiled, opened the gate, and stepped aside. At the same time she opened it our other horse Buddy rushed out to get to the fresh grass. The gate hit Snowy in his butt. I got my wish. Snowy bolted like a shot. He was bucking with both feet like a bucking bronco. I am a novice rider and after the third buck I remember seeing my feet out in front of me above my head.

I hit the ground hard, very hard. The vision of Snowy bucking off across the field without me still lingers. I became a Cowboy that day. A true Buckaroo. I was to eventually make peace with Snowy, and gain valuable Cowboy Wisdom. I learned gentle training, and not only to lead a horse to water, but also how to get him to drink.
Albert Bianchine

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Get A Life Coach

You want to change? Do you have the desire to have a new job and a new life? Take a lesson from me, Eeyore. He’s the character who is always telling Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, or Tigger why they can’t go to the one hundred acre wood today. Get a life coach! I have been blessed in the fact that Kathy, my wife, is a trained life coach as well as an expert Ezine author.

By her Socratic questioning, and expert coaching, she was able to allow me to open up and expose the true root of my writing desires and goals. I was able to expose the fear that was prohibiting my moving forward. This has allowed me to slay my writing demon (the blank white page.)

By adjusting and redefining my unrealistic goals and expectations, I have been able to move forward. I have overcome my self made obstacles. Writing a blog regularly has stimulated my creativity. The desire to write well has always been there. My previous lack of action toward the fulfillment of that goal left me disenchanted and disillusioned in my life. By complaining bitterly about my inability to change my life’s experiences, I continued to do the same thing which was nothing.

For many years, I remained on the same path and lack of action, hoping for a different result. Imagine my surprise when I kept getting the same results. Duh? My Golden Retriever looks at me some times with a look (in her cute little blonde way) that says, “What are you, stupid?” The truth is, I’m not. I’m just very slow to learn. Yes. Unwilling to change my behavior patterns to get different results. I was unable to see the big picture that by writing every day will have an immense effect on my future.

There you have it. Over the years, I have attended many sales meetings. They always say to try and get the buyer to say yes at least three times so that they build a box for themselves that they can’t get out of. Guess what? Am I going to have to try and write my way out of this one? Yes, yes, yes!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The More You Use What God Has Given You, The More God Will Give You

The more you use what God has given you, the more God will give you. Those words were posted on a pneumatic workout machine at the Steuben Athletic Club in Albany, New York. My friend Bob and I were training in an attempt to get in condition for a several week ski trip to Colorado and Utah. We had just finished reading the book Seven Summits by Dick Bass. He was the owner of the ski area called Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.

Dick Bass became the oldest man to climb (and summit) the highest peaks on all seven continents. By training for two years before his climbing attempt, he was able to summit all the peaks. He became our inspiration for getting into expert shape. I have never been afraid of mountaineering or skiing and have taken great pains to be among the top percentile of those adventurers.

On the first leg of the ski trip we visited Arapahoe Basin in Colorado where I began researching the history of that Ski Area. During the rest of our trip, I wrote the first chapter of my Historical Novel. I was both excited and anxious to get to my first writing workshop and get feedback for my work. It was received very well and I was encouraged by the participants to continue.

After the workshop, the blank white page became my nemesis. I have a hard time keeping a short story together so a full blown Historical Novel became my Goliath. Resembling the little David character, I would run and hide when the clean pages remained blank. I submitted my first chapter as a short story and received an honorable mention in a Writer’s Digest Competition. I filled the little story with all kinds of facts and descriptions to fill the pages.

Eventually, I moved to Colorado to pursue skiing and left the novel behind. It was too much, Goliath won. I moved on to Aspen, built a successful plumbing business, and bought a house. All the while, the project I had affectionately named Goliath still haunted me. He had become bigger and meaner than any mountain I had ever climbed or skied.

These days, I’m the cowardly lion, holding hands with Dorothy and the Scarecrow skipping to the Emerald City to meet the great Oz. They tell me that he gives out courage. I will get the courage to write. Goliath, he is standing in the road and he’s calling out my name.

This time, I’m writing my blog. I’m practicing. I am using the gift that God has given me. I am picking up my sling to slay the giant. Albert Bianchine

Monday, May 3, 2010

Devour The Classics

Read voraciously and devour the Classics. A good start would be World Masterpieces,Volume 1 and 2. Before each period there is an introduction to the period with a brief synopsis of each writer of the period. They will help familiarize you with great literature of all the periods of history.

I was extremely fortunate to be introduced to great literature at a young age. While perusing the stacks and thumbing through picture books of jet airplanes, I was accosted by a curly haired young man. “Why are you wasting your time with that? Follow me, I’ll show you where the good stuff is located,” said a young Ray Bono. He led me to the literature section and pulled out the largest book I’d ever seen. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer became my new challenge.

Ray offered to discuss it with me weekly, and over the coming year, under his mentorship, I was steeped in great writing. Greek Literature captured my imagination and stimulated many an evening of flights of fantasy as Hercules performed his great labors. I soared through the skies on the winged Pegasus and explored the darkest depths of Hades. All the while, I identified with the trials of Odysseus and rejoiced in his return to his beloved wife Penelope the most celebrated woman in Greek Literature. I was smitten by the adventures in far off lands. I have revisited those great works often, and they have never failed to stimulate my imagination.

Young Ray went on to be the Salutatorian of our High School. I went off seeking the adventures that I had dreamed of after reading those works. Somewhere in my adventures lies a story just waiting to be told. Albert Bianchine