Friday, November 27, 2009

Still in Louisiana

We're still in Louisiana. We went to Covington, LA yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner. They don't recycle there either. I went to sleep last night wondering how to get the cities around here to implement free recycling pick-up for residents. I think City of Seattle has a good deal going where they pick up yard waste from residents, sell it to Cedar Grove (or whoever) to make compost and end up making money on it two ways - by charging for pick-up and selling what is picked up. But it's still a good deal because it's less stuff going into the landfill.

I'm really liking Louisiana though. How could you not love New Orleans? And a lot of what I like is all of my husband's relatives. There were so many people at his cousin, Dara's yesterday I never did remember who everyone was or how they are related to us. But they are all so happy and friendly. Not to mention the food was amazing. JP's mom kept pointing out dishes and saying, "You should try that. It's not that strange, I swear you'll like it," and I kept saying, "You don't have to convince me!" Lots of spicy sausage, tons of garlic, lots of red peppers. There were a lot of oysters but I'm not so against oysters if they're cooked, I just don't like raw oysters which is completely incomprehensible to all these people. Even the little kids love raw oysters.

Dara and I were talking about the colleges her kids go to and her son Ryan went to college in Missouri and became a vegan. I commented it must be hard to find food at college in Missouri and she said, "Oh no, they have vegan options in the cafeteria". Then she said, "In my yoga class there are plenty of vegans. Sure, it's a little hard when you go into town (New Orleans) but you know, you can go just about anywhere and find good vegan options." I managed to not say, "You have a yoga class in rural Louisiana?" But I did say, "You know, the general thought in Seattle is if you leave the West Coast you won't find anything, you know ..." and Dara said, "You West Coast people need to get out more. We're in the 21st Century too."

Apparently, Folsom, LA is the horse capitol of Louisiana. I want to go check it out if we have time. It's the town right next to Covington, where Dara lives and Mandeville is on the other side of Covington where our other cousin, Debbie and her family live. There's a big wildlife conservatory in Folsom apparently. And Dara's good friend, Ellie who lives around the corner from her is a wildlife rehabilitator. We walked over to her house and she has 10 acres of woods in her backyard and all these cages for animals that were being rehabilitated. In her garage she has a cross-eyed possum she's raised since she was a baby. And in the house she has the tiniest little baby flying squirrels that she has to bottle feed (actually they're so tiny she uses a syringe) every half hour.

I was having so much fun that when JP said it was time to leave at 5pm I felt like having a little tantrum like our 5-year old daughter would have. But we had to go back across the Causeway and JP didn't want to drive over it at night because we're not used to it. And honestly, it's a little creepy. As soon as we drove onto it on the way to Covington, I got a lump in my throat and had to remind myself to breathe. It's a big bridge that goes across Lake Pontchartrain and it's 24 miles long. So you drive onto it and you can't even see the other side of the lake it's so big. The concrete sides aren't very tall and people drive like maniacs (just like they drive everywhere but it's not quite as unnerving as when you're on a long bridge in the middle of water where you can't see either shore). That bridge will take some getting used to for me.

I kept going through my mind "If we go off the bridge, make sure I roll down my window before we hit the water because the water will short out the electrical so that the windows won't roll down. And the water pressure makes it impossible to open the door of the car until the whole inside of the car is filled with water. So, I had my emergency plan running through my head: roll down window, unbuckle seat belt then reach back and unbuckle Emma June's so that I can hopefully swim out the window with her before the car fills up with water. And I kept reminding myself the water would not be as cold as the Puget Sound. Yes, I know. I am a neurotic spaz.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Greetings from Metarie, Louisiana

We're down in New Orleans visiting my husband's family for Thanksgiving and to meet his sister's newborn son, Marcus. We're staying at a hotel in a suburb called Metarie because it is in between the New Orleans relatives and the Mandeville relatives where we're going across Lake Pontchetrain for Thanksgiving. We're also hopefully going to Lafayette this weekend to see more relatives. So, we're in Jefferson Parish instead of Orleans Parish. I guess they have Parishes instead of Counties. I'm a bit confused. I've been a bit confused since we got her Monday evening.

I grew up in Seattle and other than my brief six months in Atlanta, Georgia (which was pretty northern for a Southern city) I've only lived in Seattle and Sacramento and San Francisco. So, I'm a West Coast girl through and through. It's not like I've never been to New Orleans. In fact, I drove across the entire South from New Orleans to Barstow, CA, hitting all of Central Texas and Mississippi and Alabama, etc. But for some reason I'm having some serious culture shock this trip.

For one thing, people are not freakishly, repressively afraid to express themselves. Seattle didn't used to be like that when I was a kid but it's really gotten that way in the last fifteen years. People also talk to strangers much more down here which is refreshing because half the time I do that in Seattle people look at me like I must be trying to steal their souls. But the weird stuff is, they don't recycle, they don't seem to care that they don't recycle and yesterday I saw a cop flick a cigarette out his window into the street from his police car! I know people outside of the West Coast probably don't think that's unbelievable but in Seattle it is such a big deal and you get huge fines for littering that it is akin to me as seeing a cop walk into a 7-11 and hold it up!

Of course it's gotten me thinking. It's really important to me to not destroy the Earth but I also feel bad about a lot of stuff that I have no control over. I find myself not wanting to buy anything in plastic packaging because it doesn't biodegrade. I'm not saying I shouldn't be proactive on not producing waste, but I also don't need to feel so horrible and guilty about what I can't control.

Meanwhile, I miss my dog, who is at "pitbull camp" meaning that she is being boarded at our vet's. But they love her there and when there are no patients apparently they let her out and she follows them around the clinic. They are also totally booked up so there are lots of other dogs there. I also miss my horse but she's fine. And I'm worried about BuddyCat feeling lonely. And I'm wondering if any of the chickens are laying any more eggs. Vacation would be a lot funner if I could bring all my pets.

Good things about our Louisiana vacation include "not having to do anything", the FOOD! And seeing my sister-in-law, Chantal and her new baby. It's fun to have something completely in common with her now that we're both moms. We've always gotten along OK, but she's a Metropolitan-type girl who was a cheerleader and loved living in New York City and we don't have a ton in common. I think the most we have in common is similar hang-ups and not getting along with my mother-in-law. But it's neat to have motherhood in common. And the food is soooooooo good! We stopped by the deli at Whole Foods in Metarie for lunch and the typical choices there are: shrimp scampi, shrimp jumbalaya, shrimp gumbo, chicken gumbo, shrimp ettoufee, squash/crab bisque and all with a side of cornbread. Dang! I don't see how people who grew up here can stand moving to another part of the country where this food isn't every day food!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our first chicken eggs and getting over the plague

Apparently, we did have swine flu (H1N1) at our house. Although somehow my husband managed to not come down with it. Emma June was sick with it over the weekend and I was sick with it by Tuesday. I'm still dragging to be honest, no more fever but still very worn out and fatigued. I'm going to bed at 7:30 tonight, I think.

This morning I went out to feed the chickens and was pouring food in their bowl and saying, "How are you my non-egg laying chickens?" when I thought I'd look in the nesting boxes. And there inside one of the boxes was a tiny little perfect green (or greenish-blue as my daughter would correct me) egg! It was so small that it had to have come from Woodia, the cross beak chicken who is half as big as the others. Plus, she is the only one I know for sure is and "Easter Egger" meaning she lays blue and green eggs. Janey, the big brown one might be an Americana but I'm not sure. She looks more like a Rhode Island Red and she is huge - twice as big as Woodia and even bigger than Alina, who is a Sexlink.

I took the egg in to show Emma June, who thought it was super cool. Then a few hours later I realized that I had been so distracted by the first egg that I'd forgotten to give the chickens fresh water. I went back out and found three more little tiny greenish-blue eggs! I'm not sure if Woodia just had all sorts of eggs that had to come out or if Janey started laying eggs also. Sheryl says they only lay one egg a day, but do they do that the first day they lay eggs? And somebody laid more than one because there were four today and only three chickens. Plus I don't think Alina would've laid any of them because she's supposed to lay brown speckled eggs from what I heard. Tomorrow we're going to have eggs for breakfast that were laid only about 18 hours before.

Ok - so I just did the serious google on unfertilized eggs. Apparently the largest amount of eggs laid in one day by one hen was 11 in 1652. And it is possible for one little tiny chicken to lay 4 eggs in one day. Go Woodia!

Monday, November 16, 2009

the plague descends and staying in the city for now

We went out to the farm yesterday for my second interview for the horse caretaker job. It was a beautiful farm, the owners were nice, I liked the people who worked there and my job would've been soooooo cool (grooming and babying horses) but it just isn't the right timing. JP couldn't work from home and they need someone by December 1st which is just way too soon to actually move somewhere. We'd need to get our house ready to rent, I'd need to give my bookkeeping clients plenty of notice, I would want Emma June to finish out at least school up through Christmas break before switching schools on her. So, I said no. At least I know there are cool jobs out there like that and I am apparently qualified for some.

I've really never spent any time in Oak Harbor and it's not as bad as I'd thought it would be. What really impressed me was Deception Pass! I haven't been there in years and even on a day like yesterday when it was rainy and dark and cloudy it was breathtaking! I noticed some good kayaking spots. And land is really cheap in Oak Harbor. Good to know.

It was incredibly windy yesterday too which was annoying when I was driving. When we were going over the bridge from Anacortes to Oak Harbor we caught a lot of wind which literally rocked the car. We'd told EJ that we would take the ferry home, but when we were driving through Coupeville and I had to hold on tightly to the steering wheel in order to keep the car stable, I was starting to regret that decision. It was dark by the time we got on the ferry and I hadn't brought anything to do so I went out on the deck to watch the view (the windows were covered with rain and the bright lights inside the ferry made it impossible to see out). But it was cold and really windy so I decided to go back to the car. When I started walking down the aisle inside the ferry it was listing so hard back and forth I had to grab the back of seats in order to not fall over a couple times. Then when I got to the stairwell the ferry rocked so hard I pitched forward and almost fell down the stairs (thank goodness for banisters!). Ferries are so big, I've never been on one that was actually bouncing around like that before.

We got home and EJ was really tired and felt kind of hot, so I took her temperature and it was 102. She's had a cough since Friday night, was exhausted all day yesterday and has a fever - all swine flu symptoms. Bah. She's doing better today - still no appetite and a low fever and nasty cough, but she is feeling better so that is hopeful that she's on the mend. I feel horrible though because we thought the cough was just a carry-over from her cold and she said she felt fine so we took her to a birthday party on Saturday where there were a couple babies and a lot of kids. I feel like Typhoid Mary. Or like one of the rats that brought the black plague.

The other bummer is I'm sure JP and I will get it, although we are downing lots of water and taking lots of vitamins so hopefully it won't get too bad. But we're supposed to leave for New Orleans to meet our newborn nephew next Monday and we definitely can't go if we have the swine flu. So, we'll have to see what happens. I won't be devastated if we don't go since being around the in-laws stresses me out. But JP will be. I don't want us anywhere near our nephew though if there is any chance at all we could be contagious.

On a happier note, I've been trying to work on a story I'm writing about some legends I made up about Jack Island and Vendovi Island in the San Juans. Jack Island is a nature preserve and Vendovi Island is a private island with part of it designated as a nature preserve. I'm fascinated by Vendovi Island because I can't imagine living on an island all by yourself like that. I'm assuming there's no wifi or anything like that. And you'd only have your own boat to get back to the mainland. For someone like me who doesn't particularly like people that much, even living out on Vendovi seems too isolated and extreme for me. I did meet the caretaker who lived out there year-round. He was really nice although kind of me-to-the-extreme in his liking nature better than having people around. I would've liked to have talked to him a lot more.

Anyway, I found this neat site that has ariel shoreline shots of the islands.

So, one of my regrets of not taking this horse caretaker job - besides not getting to spend every day with horses and live in the same place as my horse - is that the apartment they were offering is on the side of the barn and the little kid bedroom's window actually looks out into the barn. So, Emma June could've gotten up in the morning and looked out her window at all 37 horses below. That really would've been so cool.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

two chasms in the future

Last week I happened to run across a posting for my dream job and on a whim I emailed a cover letter and resume. My resume was a bit useless because the job is taking care of horses and my resume is all about accounting, but I blabbered on and on in the cover letter about how much I've learned in the last year with my horse and how wonderful I am. I got an email back setting up a phone interview which surprised me. I told my husband about it that night and it was met with a very heavy sigh and a "you're not really qualified are you?" and another heavy sigh when I said that I didn't think I was, but they had asked for a phone interview. He said if the job wasn't in Oak Harbor he'd lose me for sure and I pointed out, "No, you're coming with me!"

The phone interview actually went really well. The job involves filling in for the barn manager two days a week, then the rest of the time my job would be caring for the horses: grooming, making sure their blankets and halters were properly fastened in good working order, making sure they were healthy and first aid if they were injured or ill, then liason with the vet or farrier when they come out. Optional duties would be assisting the trainers and riding instructors and taking guests at the neighboring B&B on trail rides. The perfect job for horse obsessed me. That is all in trade for a 3 bedroom apartment with a deck that looks out over the paddock where the Shetland ponies and miniature horses live and free food and board for Girlfriend. We're all invited out to the farm tomorrow for the in-person interview.

JP says there is no way it will work because he can't work from home yet at his job because of what they're working on right now. He says it will be six months before they'll have his project virtual enough to work from home. But if this really is as good of an opportunity as it sounds like I think we can figure out a way to make it work. I have a quote on my facebook page "Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work". I really don't want to give up a great opportunity just because it doesn't fit inside the box of what our lives are supposed to look like.

This morning I took our daughter to the Spectrum testing and had to wait in the cafeteria for 90 minutes and ended up talking to another mom who was reading a book about home schooling. She said that in August they - herself, her husband and their by-then six year old daughter - are leaving Seattle for three years to sail around the world. I almost jumped up out of my seat and shouted, "Really!? Seriously!?" I told her it was very validating to hear that because I need to be reminded that we don't all have to live this "buy a house, live in it for 40 years, have the kid go to a good school in the city and make sure everything is proper and by-the-book" in order to be a happy family.

I won't be crushed if they don't offer me the job. Oak Harbor was actually on our list of "places we are not going to move". Although, if it means I have to live there in order to have a job working with horses and learning how to train horses and teach riding lessons it would be worth it. I checked out the schools and the closest school to the farm looks good. And I'd only be 40 minutes from my friend, Teresa who lives in Clinton. But if I don't get the job I am pretty happy where we are for now and we still have time to figure out what town we want to move to in 2011. Wherever we move to - either to this farm or to our own farm in 2011 - I want to be able to hear seagulls. Actually, the best would be to be able to hear seagulls and trains because those are two sounds that make me feel at home.

Friday, November 6, 2009

thunder, vegans, hail, composting and roast beef

I decided to make roast beef yesterday and not knowing how I looked up some recipes online. I think everyone who posted on on how to cook a roast is out to kill as many naive people as they can. One of the recipes literally said, "cook the roast on 375 degrees for a half hour then turn off the oven, go to church and come back many hours later and turn the stove back on for a half hour at 350 degrees. That just sounds like a great way to give someone food poisoning. And why do I have to go to church to do this? So, I did attempt to cook a roast yesterday and it kind of turned out ok. I cooked it at 450 degrees for a half hour, turned the stove down to 375 degrees and cooked it another 90 minutes. I probably could've cooked it 15 minutes less and turned it over when I turned down the stove and it would've been better. And I didn't go to church.

We had on and off thunder/lightening storms night before last through last night which was uncharacteristic for Seattle. In fact, on Thursday night we had a huge storm right in town with lightning striking with a few blocks of our house. Yesterday I completely cleaned out the chicken coop and had them locked out in their run so it could air out when I heard more thunder. I wanted to finish washing the dishes, then I'd go out and put clean shavings in the coop and let them back in before it started raining. But apparently, I misjudged the timing and it started to rain as I was putting in the last shovelful of shavings and then it started to hail. I needed to put the tools back in our ancient, detached garage at the back of the yard so I ran those in just as a torrent of hail started to fall. So, me and the rats who live in the garage hung out in there for about 5 minutes with me occasionally dodging hail that was coming in through various holes in the roof. A couple years ago we had hail so big it tore holes right through the leaves in our larger plants like azaleas and rhododendrons.

Fascinated as I am by hail, I am more fascinated by composting . Our compost bin where we've been throwing leaves and shavings from the chicken coop along with all the poop is old and falling apart. So, today I went out to fix it and stir the compost while I was at it. As soon as I started stirring it, steam came billowing out which is just so cool! It fascinates me how the chemical reaction can actually cause heat in the core of the compost pile like that! It seems like there must be a way to harness that heat for an alternative power source. Apparently, others have had this same idea. I was wondering what the difference was between the process of heat developing in compost bins versus nuclear energy. My science-geek husband explained to me that in a nutshell the heat from composting is not actually a chemical reaction as I had initially thought, but a breakdown of the molecules and distribution of their atoms. Nuclear energy on the other hand is the breaking down of atoms and a by-product of that is radioactive waste which is extremely toxic. I guess since one of my clients is Hanford Challenge I should probably know that already. Plus, after learning about the government's huge inability to safely dispose of nuclear waste, I can honestly say I will never be a supporter of nuclear energy as a viable alternative source of energy.

The other day I was looking at job ads and I found what I thought would be the perfect job for, helping rescue animals for Pasado Safe Haven in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains by Sultan, WA. I was reading through their webpage thinking more and more, "Oh yes! This is totally me!" when I came to "their philosophy" and how it's easier for everyone to work together if they all have the same philosophy, which is (I'm paraphrasing) "we don't serve animals as food in our kitchens and we don't have fur hanging in our closets". Damn. I decided not to apply because I do eat meat and there's just no getting around it. They want vegetarians and I assume people who don't use leather products and that's just not me. I thought about explaining that it's really important to me to eat only healthy animals who are not brought up in cruel conditions and are slaughtered humanely, but I don't always eat that kind of meat (it is hard to find which I would like to change someday - I'd like that to be the norm!). But I've known enough vegetarians who were that serious about it that it would never work, them knowing I was going to go home and cook myself a chicken for dinner. The leather thing too just doesn't work for me. For one thing, what kind of saddle would I use? I'm not going to go out and get a synthetic saddle made of a form of plastic because that's a big hang-up for me. I do not like plastics. They don't biodegrade, they off-gas toxic gasses and they are all around just awful for the environment. So, in a nutshell, despite that I would love to save animals for my career, we have differing "weird, extreme" opinions. Although I think my weird and extreme opinions are of course more sane than general societies. And if they are not promoting synthetic, non-biodegradable substances as a good option other than leather I think they may be saner too. Who knows. My search continues for the perfect job for me working with animals. I wonder if there is any way we could afford for me to go back to school to get my degree in animal behaviorism or become a large animal vet tech at least? I know it's too much to think of going back to school to be a veterinarian, but I am pondering my options.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

with fava beans and a nice chianti

Ok, I can't believe I just quoted that movie. I try to be positive in my references even if my bitterness and misanthropy tends to come through more in my writing. But you know, I was reading about fava beans and that's what comes to mind. What is funnier is I just asked my husband "How do you spell chianti?" and he said, "I don't know - hold on, I will google "Hannibal Lector" and "fava bean" and ... yep! There it is. C-h-i-a-n-t-i."

Apparently, if I can get some fava bean and winter wheat seeds by tomorrow I can just barely squeeze in getting my cover crop planted before it's too late in the season. And I can get my bulbs into the ground before the first frost.

I took my new neighbor/fellow mom friend, Heather with me to look at a horse I'm thinking of adopting in Stanwood today. She is very afraid of horses but was a great sport and rode this horse anyway. He is a very sweet, patient horse, good for lessons so it was a good safe place to try that. I am always impressed when people do something they are really scared to do - like in her case get up on this horse they know nothing about and are afraid of. It's strange to me that horses can relax me so much but then scare someone else.

A couple days ago I was out riding Girlfriend and asked my instructor if she could answer some questions about saddles and after answering some of my questions she said, "You know, I'm still really impressed at how well Girlfriend did in the group lesson on Saturday." I'm still glowing over that too. Although, our practice ride on Tuesday was not as good, at least I felt like. She was all worked up about something and wanted to run from the get go. When we tried to trotting she got pissy and did her little bucks and tossed her head. Finally, because no one else was in the arena, I put the reins in one hand, grabbed the saddle horn and said, "Ok, go!" Of course, because I am still working on cantering/galloping she started out on the wrong lead and I had to pull her back to start over again which pissed her off, but then we got going on the right lead and went whooshing around the arena a couple times. Weeee! She doesn't neck rein super well, but she will neck rein enough to be safe so I feel safe doing that. But I don't trust my balance enough yet to go that fast without holding onto the saddle horn. In fact, most of the barrel racers I've seen even hold onto the saddle horn when they are going that fast and whipping around turns. And Girlfriend goes right into that mode, cutting her turns really sharp and leaning sideways. It is really really fun! And probably totally unacceptable if my instructor were to see me doing that.

Sadly I do not have any videos of Girlfriend with her previous owner from the state or national championships, but this is what she is trained to do and what she loves.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Waiting for the plague to descend

One thing I regret currently about living in the city is that during times like these where we're having a "pandemic" and "swine flu is a national emergency" it would be nice if we didn't live right in the heart of the city. More people=more chances of catching the flu. Luckily, everyone I know who's had it has been miserable for a couple days but come out of it OK. Even my friend's son who had complications bounced back quickly with some antibiotics. And some kids we know who have asthma have been OK. So, I'm trying to listen to my experience as opposed to the media, which does not make money by easing people's fears. I was thinking the other day I wonder how a station that only reports good news would go over? Would people watch it? Would it change that general sense of depressive worry and angry suspicion in our society or would people just ignore the station altogether.

The chickens still aren't laying eggs. I've been reading all sorts of theories about how they don't have enough light or whatever. I think we're probably going to just have to wait until Spring when they are old enough and getting more light. At least I am feeling good about how Woodia, the cross-beak chicken is actually growing. Janey, the Americauna and Alina the sexlink are huge and Woodia has not caught up to them in size, but she is growing. I clipped her beak a couple weeks ago and felt horrible because it started bleeding and she shook her head around and blood splattered everywhere, but it healed up just fine. I'm going to try filing it down next instead of clipping it. Oh - for those who don't know, chicken beaks keep growing like fingernails but get worn down when they peck. Because Woodia can't peck with her cross beak it just keeps growing and needs to be clipped - or in this next case filed.

I didn't get to ride Girlfriend all last week because I caught another cold and was too exhausted to do anything other than take care of Lil Girl and go to work. So, I went out yesterday afternoon but didn't have a lot of time because I needed to be home in time to get the house ready for all the neighborhood kids coming over before trick-or-treating.

(Ironic little interruption here - as I'm typing this my 5 year old daughter is dancing around and jumping over the pitbull who is lying on the floor. She just sat down on the dog and the dog jumped up and I had to say, "Careful Honey, don't hurt Willow!" Yes - I need to keep my child from hurting the pitbull.)

Anyway, the only time I had to ride at the stable yesterday was during a group class. I didn't realize they were going to have a group class at that hour because usually the group class is earlier during the jumping class. But I guess a lot of people had to reschedule their classes to Saturday afternoon so they all ended up in a second group class. I asked if I could do a practice ride in the arena during the class and our instructor said yes but I needed to keep up with the class so I wouldn't disrupt it. She looked a little skeptical but I said I would.

At first Girlfriend was thrilled to be in an arena with four other horses because she thought it meant competition! She walked really well at first when everyone else was walking to warm up. Then everyone started trotting but she needed more time to warm up her old joints and she started doing her little jigs in the center of the arena where we were walking. Then I decided she was ready to join the circle in trotting and she did Ok for a few minutes until the first student was told to canter while the rest of us trotted. And it was Doc, her pasture buddy who she is super-herd bound to. She got really restless and broke into a canter a few times, and I held her back but she started doing her head shaking, butt-bucking moves and cutting sideways into the middle to show she was not going to have any of this boring English posting trot stuff.

I took her back to the center of the arena and watched everyone for a few minutes and wondered if I should just give up for the day. But in my lessons our instructor never lets me quit till I get what I want to do right, so I decided I'd try again and if we were too disruptive our instructor would tell me to leave the arena anyway. So we went back out to the circle to try and trot with everyone else and she did better. In fact, she finally got into the groove and trotted right in line with everyone else - no jigging, no cutting into the center, no bucking or swinging her head around in frustration. We were also using the hackamore which is much harder to keep her head straight as opposed to the snaffle. She doesn't like the snaffle, that's for sure, even though my vet said the snaffle I have is less harsh than the hackamore I have. The hackamore apparently has "more stop" although that didn't do any good when she ran off with Jessie.

About five minutes before the lesson was over, I was exhausted from still getting over my cold and posting so much. So I went to the center of the arena and hopped off Girlfriend and our instructor said, "Julia! You're still here! I didn't even realize you were still here because Girlfriend blended right in! That was excellent! I am so impressed!" Then she paused and said, "I am really impressed!" Let me tell you, if my instructor tells you she is impressed, she is actually impressed! She does not give compliments to "build confidence" or "make you feel better". That's what I like about her is she will tell you if you are riding badly and she'll hound you about what you need to improve until you improve it. So when she compliments you it really means something!

I'm impressed with Girlfriend that such an old girl who was only trained to ride Western gaming is actually willing to learn English dressage and does well at it. I didn't think I would ride her English but she is doing so well at it and seems to enjoy the challenge of learning new things. As long as I lunge her and let her get her ya-ya's out running full speed or ride her really fast when no one else is in the arena for a couple laps, she is happy. I'm planning now to ride her in some English classes next summer when we have our annual show at the stable and actually entering her in the S.A.F.E. annual benefit horse show.