Thursday, July 29, 2010

Holy yikes, Batman!

We actually heard back from the bank that owns the house we are trying to buy in Woodinville. They sent us a counter-offer to our offer and we sent them back a counter-offer to their counter-offer. Now we wait again. On top of that, the previous owner is apparently renting the house out again which causes more issues because we don't know if the renter will be out by the time we close, which is necessary so we could get our house on the market. And so the many complications go with a short sale. Long gone are the days where you say "Hey, I'll buy your house for x-amount," and the other person says, "Sounds good!" He takes the money, gives us the keys and we're good to go. Nope. now we have to have agents and negotiators and go through lots of waiting and paper-work and more waiting and more waiting. Who knows at this point if we'll end up buying this house or not. I'm trying to be very Zen and telling myself that it will work out if it's meant to and if it doesn't we'll find a better house for us.

Meanwhile, the reality is hitting me that we'll have to try to sell our house if we do get this house. And that is a terrifying concept. How we are going to get our house to look like we haven't lived in it for 10 years - with small children, cats, dogs and chickens running amuk - it is beyond my imagination.

Woodia the rooster is now happily settled with Marsha the wildlife rescuer who lives across the street from the stable where I keep my horse. In that area across the street though means you have to walk quite a ways to get to her house - all the way over the bridge over Bear Creek, then around the barn managers house and through the pastures. So, it's still kind of a ways away. But she said Woodia is very happy there palling around with her old, blind rooster, a bunch of baby possums, some geese, some injured barn owls and an injured bald eagle.

I had the vet out to check my horses teeth today and they didn't need to be worked on, so since I saved money on that and my poor old horse has been having lots of stiffness, the vet did a chiropractic adjustment. I've never seen a horse get a chiropractic adjustment before and it was definitely interesting. The jury is out in my head on whether or not chiropractic works. I actually had some gentle chiropractic done on my bad wrist and it seemed to help a lot. But then I've had friends who would go and basically get their neck cracked for hundreds of dollars and it didn't seem to do any good. I guess like all body work there are good chiropractors and bad chiropractors. I've heard people say it will cure all ills but I don't believe that at all. But Girlfriend definitely looked more comfortable after her adjustment. Although after the first adjustment she put her ears back and looked at the vet like she was evil. But a couple neck adjustments seemed to really loosen something up, and then part way through she moved her legs a little and I heard this long, rippling crack go across her sternum and she dropped her head a little and let out a big, happy sigh. I'm hoping she'll be more comfortable when I ride her in our first dressage show in two weeks.

She seemed pretty comfortable when I let her and Ziggy out in the pasture together. They both took off galloping around the pasture and kicking up their back legs and bouncing around. I really need to take a video of that one of these days.

Since she's supposed to get 24 hours off after an adjustment, I rode Sheryl's horse, Penny for my practice. Penny is quite a bit bigger than Girl which made me pretty sore by the end of my ride because I'm riding a much thicker, taller horse and using my muscles a little differently. But I'm getting better at cantering with her. I just feel so much more like a beginner when I'm riding her because I'm not used to riding a horse I need to give so many firm "loud" signals too, when with Girl everything is so quiet and "whispered". So, the first time I asked her to canter she ran away at the trot and then cut her corner on the circle quite a bit. The second time was better and the third time she cantered right away on my first single. So that was cool!

Day after tomorrow I am going to my 25th high school reunion. I was just going through the list online of people who are going and one woman will be there who bullied me quite a bit in grade school. My visceral reaction was to recoil emotionally and think, "Crap! I don't want to go if she's there!" So, I guess this will be a good, growing-up experience for me. If she *still* acts like a bully in her 40's then I will just have to be amused. And kick her ass. Ahem. I mean ignore her. Although I'm going to think positive that she is not still a little snot like thirty years ago. It's amazing how thirty years can just melt away and suddenly I'm feeling the same way I did as a little kid just by mention of someone potentially being in the same place as me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

whether or not we could pull it off ...

Last week the girl went to pony camp out in Redmond at a place that is right next door to an organic farm. The camp itself was a little remedial for my daughter's riding ability in that she has ridden a full-size horse completely on her own and at camp they had to stay on the lead line for all their riding. But the positive difference was she was riding a pony so she could saddle, bridle and mount the pony all by herself whereas with the horses at my stable she can't do any of that because they are too big/she is way too small. She can barely brush the horses at my stable because she only comes up to their bellies. She can walk right under the larger 16+ hands horse (not that we let her).

She loved having a pony her size to hang out with for a week and that was nice to see. And pony camp was cute to watch. On the last day I went out and walked on the path around the organic farm, and was looking at all the crops and the complex irrigation system and the greenhouses and it occurred to me that I still know next to nothing about organic gardening - at least not on a large scale like that. It's something I aspire to to at least feed us, but there is still so much I would need to learn. And the physical work would be pretty hefty. I think about how I've been struggling just the last month to just function in my daily life keeping the house clean and working and such, but then to add working on the crops in the field and I wonder if I could really do it. I wonder that as I'm sitting here with a terrible back ache and headache I've had all day.

Our cousins from Mandeville, LA were in town visiting yesterday. One of them works in the oil industry and explained to me in great detail how BP was criminally negligent in their handling of the drilling and five instances where they could've not cut corners and been cheap bastards and possibly kept the giant spill in the Gulf from happening. Yet I doubt they will be prosecuted. As Beth's dad said, "The Supreme Court will look the other way every time if your last name is "Incorporated". I would relay what my cousin told me about how they could've avoided the oil spill but I didn't understand half of what he said. Something about concrete pipes and bubbles and water to mud ratios. I really couldn't tell you except that BP was criminally negligent.

We went out to lunch in the city then I dragged them up to see my horse and hang out up there for awhile. I've often thought of moving back to Louisiana because all the in-laws except my husband's parents are down there, but then it occurred to us that some may want to move up here. This particular set of cousins seem like they could be swayed, especially because of the mild summer temperatures and the evergreen trees.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

raccoon attack

We thought we had made a fairly secure Alcatraz holding facility for our chickens so that raccoons and possums couldn't get in. And it managed to hold up really well for almost a year.

We found a farm for Woodia the rooster to live on since he had found his voice and was crowing a lot - even at 7am. So a friend of my riding instructor who rescues wild animals said she'd take him. And to keep our flock at a nice even three, we brought home a young light brama hen on Sunday and named her Sally. She was a beautiful white hen with fluffy white feathers on her feet and a face that looked like a dove. I say she *was* because she only stayed alive at our house for less than twelve hours.

At 3am we were woken up by a sleepy call from our neighbor saying something was in our chicken coop and there was a big racket. We ran outside in our pj's and barefeet (lovely considering that the heat wave had passed and it was now cold and rainy) and found a raccoon in the run with two chickens freaking out and Sally dead on the ground. My husband managed to chase him out while I grabbed the broom (a pretty lame weapon when dealing with a big raccoon but it was the only thing handy). The raccoon managed to get scared out of the coop but was threatening my husband and circling the coop, waiting for his chance to push back in and get Sally. I was so pissed I didn't want him to get to have a feast for dinner so I started banging the broom on the side of the run to scare him. That made him move about a foot so he was over the retaining wall, and I started hitting the retaining wall with the broom and hissing. The loud sound of the "thwacks" on the concrete blocks freaked him out and he backed up each time I did it. Finally he was just about to climb the fence at the back of our yard when the pitbull came tearing out and attacked him. There was a horrible sound - raccoon screaming mixed with pitbull snarls and I was freaked out that my poor dog was going to get mawled. But the raccoon ended up getting away and diving over the fence and somehow the pitbull came out without even the smallest scratch. Phwew!

We've decided to stick with just two chickens for the time being. And I'm glad that the little shit didn't succeed in killing all of them.

In other news, Sunday was a good day for riding despite that I'm feeling out of practice because I haven't been able to go out much to ride in June. Girlfriend was all riled up - possibly because we were in the arena riding with Alas, and I wanted to try taking her out to ride in the pasture so I tried lunging her. I didn't really feel like dealing with it though because it makes me dizzy and I've been having trouble with balance so much the last thing I want to do is be dizzy. So, Megan said she'd lunge her if I'd hold Atlas (the wild mustang) so of course I asked if I could ride him instead of hold him.

I got on him and he immediately just stood there as though there were no way he was going to let me ride him, especially with his mama right there not paying attention to him. I'd give him a good hard kick and he'd take a couple steps and stop again. It took a few minutes before we got our groove together and he started walking. Then Megan yelled to have him trot, so we trotted a little but was really hesitant to actually move and would stop completely if I didn't stay on him. Then Megan said to get him to canter and I thought "he's only got 6 months under saddle after being feral - surely I will die if I try to canter with him". But I did try. I gave him a good kick and a little whack on the butt with the crop (both of which are so weird to me because with my horse I just stop holding her back to canter) and ... he took a couple canter steps, then swerved to the left and did this sideways dance across the arena so that Megan yelped, "Yikes!" and had to pull Girlfriend out of the way. I got him to stop on the other side of the arena and felt really embarrassed, but I also noticed that just as I asked him to canter at the arena door, someone had walked up to the door, so it was probably partially that I didn't have enough leg on him and partially that he spooked by someone walking up to the door.

We stopped for a moment and I asked Megan what she thought I did wrong and she said I needed to keep my legs on him harder to help guide him (with Girl you don't keep your leg on her at all when she canters or she'll break to a gallop). I said I wasn't going to try it again because the first time had gone so badly but Megan really wanted me to, so I did and we actually went around the arena twice and he stayed pretty steady and did listen really well to my leg aids. That felt good. I actually cantered with a green horse and did pretty well. I guess I am getting better in my riding!

After that we switched back our horses and rode them out to the pasture. Girlfriend was a little ancy being out of the arena but a lot calmer than last month when we tried that. There's a lot of jumps and obstacles in the big pasture and Megan was having Atlas walk over a big log so he would get used to going over obstacles and I tried to ride Girl over the log and she balked and absolutely wouldn't go. I'm not sure she's ever had to walk over such a large obstacle and she's never been jumped. I circled her a few times and tried to ride her over the log and she continued to refuse. Then it occurred to me that we were going the opposite direction that Atlas had and sure enough when I circled around the log to go the same direction Atlas had, she would step over it just fine. So we followed Atlas over it back and forth a couple times both directions and then she'd go over it. But she's such a cautious, sensitive girl she didn't want to do it until she saw that Atlas could do it and it was safe.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

breakin the law breakin the law

I'm not a big fan of fire crackers because I've seen too many bozos with them get too close to hurting me with them. But I do like sparklers. And they are illegal in Seattle. So, today while driving up to the stable with my friend, Megan we passed a fireworks stand in unincorporated Snohomish County and I regressed a little into "please please please can we stop so I can get some contraband sparklers!" Now we have a lot of sparklers. And I just took my daughter outside to light one and she too thought it was the coolest thing. "Like a real magic wand!"

I finally gave in and started taking antibiotics for my sinuses. Two weeks ago the doctor said to take them if my sinus infection didn't go away and it did get a little better except that the perpetual sinus headache never went away and my jaws were starting to ache quite badly. I really don't like having to take antibiotics though so I put it off until a couple days ago. Now I'm reveling in the fact that my sinus headache is finally starting to go away. Even though my stomach is kind of messed up now. Blah. I'm trying to keep a good attitude despite the whole chronic illness thing. There has to be a balance between complete denial and trying to power through like everything is normal and just getting depressed and giving up.

Speaking of happy things that keep me going, I had a very good ride with my horse today. Megan had a lesson with her horse - the one who nine months ago was a wild mustang on the BLM lands - so I was trying to just practice off in my own corner and not get in her way. But a couple times my instructor yelled across the arena, "She's looking really good there! You're doing something right!" After Megan's lesson was over I said I thought it had helped my confidence to take lessons on her horses recently because they are trained dressage horses and much easier to ride dressage than my gaming horse. And my instructor said, "Well it's something. Maybe you're riding longer. But something has really changed and you're doing much better." That felt really good to hear! I think maybe riding her horses helped me to remember some of the stuff I learned back when I was a teenager. My mind does not remember any of it but apparently my body does.

I really don't remember much consciously about riding as a teenager except that I did. I remember what the stable looked like - Evergreen Equestrian Stable in Bridle Trails (which has since closed down). I remember a couple of the horses and their names and I remember things like how it felt to go over jumps, or when Jasper spooked while cantering at one of the corners and threw me into the arena wall, or falling off Dershinka right into the poles of the jump, or riding in a show (I don't remember who I was riding) and the horse shied from the jump right before we went over and I circled and went back over it, but I remember being devastated because it cost me a ribbon and I wanted to be perfect in everything back then. I remember looking at the clipboard on the wall right when I got to the barn to see who I was signed up to ride and the excitement of just getting to the barn and knowing I'd get to spend the afternoon with horses. I remember the feeling of breathlessness when the horse would 'run away at a trot' and not canter, and then the relief as soon as the horse finally broke into a smooth canter. But I don't consciously remember any instruction except "keep your heels down". But when I do start riding well I can feel it which is interesting. I don't know why I can't remember the specifics better about something I loved so much.

Still don't know if we got the Woodinville house. As far as I know the bank just got the offer package yesterday. So, who knows. I've got the whole chicken coop/run thing worked out in my head and where we'll put raised bed gardens and where we'll put a little greenhouse and a treehouse for the girl. There was also talk about the possibility of bunnies in a hutch sharing a run with the chickens. But they'd have to be angora bunnies that I could groom for fur to spin into yarn. Of course, I'd have to tackle spinning. I've tried a couple times and it is an awful lot harder than it looks. I suppose I should just stop daydreaming about it because we still have no idea if we're going to get the house or not and we may have months ahead of us before we'll know.