SURPRISE Dinner Date!

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Alas, you'd think Friday would bring forth a work-week's sigh of relief. Well, not this week. And, not often in the mag-publishing world. Deadlines are deadlines. And they're not tidy; nor, do they necessarily fall into perfect position on my fantasy calendar. And, EVERY year, I somehow forget just how tight these dang deadlines are around the holidays. After six years, you'd think I'd be prepared for the stress.

I think because Thanksgiving was so late this year, we literally came back from the Thanksgiving holiday and had something like 9 days to put an issue together! N-I-N-E! OK...I'm done playing the martyr. It's not as if everyone isn't working their rear-ends of this year. It's been a tough one for all of us, and I, for one, am grateful and equally thrilled that I have the job I do. Plus, we're on the homestretch! Believe it or not, your February issue will be leaving my fingertips in days. Yes, I said February. Happy Valentine's Day on Christmas!

And, although I will still be finishing up an article, editing, proofing and frantically pulling February together with my great shipmates here all day on Monday, Erin and I have a surprise dinner date Monday evening! ?The One-and-Only Mr. Albert Dunning!

Al has been in Fort Worth the last few weeks for all of the cutting events, and with this deadline, we just never got a chance to go hang out with him over there in cowtown. He returns to Arizona next Tuesday morning, but will be at the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport for a conference on Monday. So, Erin and I are going to kidnap him after work for dinner.?

Now, here's your chance to...ASK AL ANYTHING!!! If you guys will send me some questions over the weekend for Al, I promise I'll deliver. Anything (that is, within reason), and I bet Al would tell ya! He's just that kind of guy. As long as I've been working with Al now (primarily via phone and e-mail), I think I've only met him once in person (see photo below) and somehow was nervous and managed to call him "Bob." Rest assured, he's never let me forget that one.

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At the 2008 Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, my marketing pal Shelly Mix and I put together a little Team H&R dinner party one evening. Al, Bob Avila, Clinton Anderson, and Stacy Westfall attended. In this photo, Shelly gave little thank-you speech to our Team members and presented them with a lil' Team H&R gift. And, apparently Al was very excited about getting his Team H&R monogramed vest.

So, this is your big chance! Write to me over the weekend or on Monday. Shoot me a question for Al, and I'll do my darndest to get a "good" answer for you. And, eh, if we get several, we'll just do a post on 'em, so we can discuss.?I'll start by asking him his most embarrassing riding faux-paus ever.

So, yes, even after super-tough deadlines, there are definitely diamonds looming ahead. Hope everyone has a great weekend! Go ride! I haven't seen my Memphis-Pooh in two weeks and am way homesick for him. Heading out first thing in the morning, even though it seems to be in the 20s in Dallas.

~Alana?