Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Creaky old ladies

Today was kind of a long, weird day but it will still good. I took my daughter and our family friend IH (who is 15 and my daughter is her biggest fan) out to Monroe to buy some new stuff for the horse IH is going to lease and then went to the Evergreen State Fair. It was pouring down rain but our attitude was that a fair in the rain is better than no fair at all. It was a bit of a bummer though that the ferris wheel wasn't working because it was too stormy.

On the way home we stopped at the stable and I thought I'd ride Girlfriend just a little bit to give her a bit of exercise. We were doing fine and she was very mellow and responsive which was a nice change. She wasn't hot at all when I asked her to trot and we were doing a really nice, steady trot. But then she stumbled but that happens once in awhile when she is warming up. We walked again and it was fine and she started acting like her normal hot self, so we trotted again. Then I thought I'd try to ride the dressage test to see how she did and she was getting amped up just like her usual self. But part way through one of the circles she stumbled on her right leg (the one she'd stumbled on twice before and that she had gone lame in briefly last year). Next thing I knew her whole front end went straight down and she stumbled and fell onto her knees and I went straight over her neck. I was on my way to flying over her head but somehow with my bad habit of using the stirrups to balance myself I caught myself with my feet in the stirrups before I went catapulting over her head. And I pulled a muscle in my calf because of it. It probably would've hurt less to just go over her head.

She stood back up again as soon as she fell but I had one of those charlie-horse pains in my calf and had to ride her at a walk for a few minutes trying to remember the sports medicine stretches to get rid of a charlie horse. She seemed fine walking and I tried doing a sitting trot with her and she did ok, but stumbled again a little with her right foot. I'm hoping she'll be ok, but it has me a little worried because she's never fallen like that before. I'm a little worried to ride her now out of fear I'll mess up her leg even more. I gave her a good stretch and massage and put some ointment on her leg so hopefully she'll be ok by next week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good-bye to the stirrups

Things have been a bit strange at the stable where I keep my horse because one of the owner's dogs is dying. She'll probably be put to sleep tomorrow. So the owner/my instructor has been very distracted. I've been a bit sad about it, but it hasn't really affected me until today. My instructor's boyfriend was going on an errand and my instructor was teaching a lesson so I said I'd check on their dog.

The dog was lying on the floor breathing heavily and not opening her eyes and it definitely looked like she was dying. It reminded me of how painful it was for all of us when our dog Mr Boone died. The last few days while he was dying and just lying on his bed not eating and eventually not even drinking water were really hard and painful for us. I wish I could something for my instructor and her boyfriend but this is one of those times when there is nothing that can be done to make it better.

The sad thing is, is that just a couple weeks ago my friend, Tami's horse died too. And another friend told me a couple days ago that her husband moved out after a horrible fight. It just seems like there's been a lot of sad things happening.

Despite that I was feeling sad and distracted though I had a good riding lesson today. My mom wanted to just go for a practice ride but I thought she should take a lesson but as it turned out she went out to warm-up and ended up riding for almost an hour and my instructor never came out. So, it worked out really well for her.

My lesson started out ok although I was a little nervous because the new guy who started taking lessons this week was watching and whenever anyone new to the stable watches my lessons I'm always afraid I'm going to fall off and scare them away from taking lessons. I know, it's a weird hang-up.

Girlfriend and I did fairly well. The big deal was after we did some trot work and canter work, even though it was about 80 degrees out and I was feeling tired (I'm a heat wimp) my instructor asked if I wanted to call it a day or let her torture me for 6 more minutes. I asked what she had in mind and she said she wasn't going to tell me unless I agreed to try it. Out of curiosity I said I would try it even though better judgment said I was too tired. So, she said, "Well, cross your stirrups over the saddle because we're going to trot without stirrups."

This is actually not that big of a deal and I've done it on her lesson horses. But I figured I would never do it on Girlfriend. For one thing she's small and squat and because of her build her trot is uncomfortably bouncy. Her old owner who only rode Western used to post when Girl trotted even though posting is an English thing, but she said it hurt her butt too much not to post. It is very hard to "sit the trot" on Girl because even not posting one is bouncing a lot. And besides that she has a super bouncy trot, she also has a tendency to bolt and swerve and do all sorts of things that make it hard for me to actually stay on her back unless I'm using the stirrups to help me balance. Which apparently my instructor wants me to stop using the stirrups to help me balance because she took them away.

At first it was close to catastrophic. Ok, it wasn't but it was all discombobulated. I was boucing all over the place and sliding from side to side and would grab onto her with my legs without thinking when I'd start to lose my balance and slide off, which would make her bolt, so I'd pull her back and then lose my balance and accidentally grip with my legs and she'd bolt and I'd pull her back until she had her ears pinned back and my instructor told me to walk her so she wouldn't buck me off.

She told me to bring my knees way up and my feet forward so they were over the girth and that cause me to lean way back on my butt and when I did that it felt like the saddle suddenly went from a wisp of thin leather to a large, suede bucket that my butt fell right into and it felt like I was so deeply entrenched in that bucket that I wasn't going to slide off even though Girl was bouncing and trying to bolt. But then soon after I felt that mojo of feeling like I'd just fallen into a sturdy bucket of a saddle, Girl calmed down and her trot became much smoother and she stopped bolting. It was one of those really cool epiphany moments where I suddenly understood how the Native American Indians could balance on a galloping horse bareback. It was very cool!

It was also really hard work and after that six minutes (which was actually longer) my inner thighs were burning from holding my legs up in front of me and out enough away from Girl's side so as not to upset her and my core muscles were burning from holding myself up and keeping my balance.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Now where to?

The bank never got back to us on whether or not they were accepting our counter-offer and as far as I know today was the last day that we could reasonably hear from them and still meet our deadline for closing. The last week or so, as it has become more apparent that the bank doesn't have any interest in selling us this house in Woodinville, I've been starting to think again, is Woodinville where we want to go? It probably is, but ever since my high school reunion in my old neighborhood down South a few weeks ago I've been really melancholy for living down there again, especially because so many old friends still live down there. And even more my good friend, Beth is a new mother and I wish I could see her and Oliver a lot more.

The commute would probably be better for my husband (at least until they tear down the viaduct and put in whatever crazy idea they're going to put in ... although with the way Seattle's government can't ever actually be proactive and do anything I imagine whatever it is won't happen for another twenty years) ... what was I talking about? Oh, the commute would be better than Woodinville probably but there's just no good barns around my old neighborhood. There is one in West Seattle (believe it or not) but they have a long waiting list and they have limitations of the type of horses you can have there. Like, I couldn't get an OTTB (off-the-track thoroughbred). And they don't take horses over 16 hands. And they don't do jumping.

Ok, two years ago when I adopted Girlfriend and was just starting to take dressage lessons again I said I was not going to jump again but the horse madness has completely taken me over. Now there is another mom at the stable about my age who has started taking dressage lessons and wants to start jumping and it would be fun to have someone to start jump classes with. Right now there's just the teens and a couple grown-ups who are already good at jumping and beginners who aren't ready to jump so I would be starting alone on the low jumps unless the other mom starts with me. And now that I'm getting my confidence back I am finding the urge to jump again. I may fall off and regret it, but at the same time it really is incredibly fun. It's like flying. And I'm starting to get my leg strength back so I can stand up in the saddle again and stay in my jump position without falling backward immediately. Come to think of it, two years ago I also said I wasn't going to show again either. Especially not with Girlfriend. And well, here we are. I do stick with my assertion that neither me nor my daughter will ever do cross country eventing. That is just too dangerous. Just show jumping on collapsable poles. I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but I'm not suicidal. This is the type of jumping I used to do and want to do again - only obviously since these clips are from the Olympics the jump are a lot higher than the ones I went over. This is cross country and I will never do that because it's crazy dangerous. Those jumps don't collpse if a horse catches a foot on it and it can be deadly to a rider and horse if one of the falters. In one 18 month period of late 2007-2008, twelve riders died during cross country courses and even more horses than that died.

Anyway, back to neighborhoods ... I think Woodinville wins out because it is close to my stable and has really great schools, but I do find my heart trying to pull me to the Southend. I just don't know where we could live that has less crime, good schools and a place to keep my horse, since my old neighborhood has worse crime than our current neighborhood (being "rat city" and next to Seattle's only attempt at the ghetto) and because well, the schools suck even worse in the Southend. I guess I just need to keep an open mind and keep listening to my heart and we will end up in the right place.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Horse shows and much excitement

This has been a very busy last week. Sunday was my first horse show in 31 years and my horse's first dressage show ever. Ok, so we came in fourth out of four horses, but I got a really good score considering that I regressed to 9 years old and got so nervous I forgot how to ride well as soon as I was out in the arena in front of the judge. And my poor horse got so excited during the warm-up before the show and while we were outside the arena before our turn for our dressage test that she was sure *finally* she was going to get to race again! She still did better than I had expected of her. Hopefully, our next show we'll do better because I won't be so nervous. And we did a practice test with my instructor a couple days before and we both did great and both got "A's" on that practice test.

When I was little shows were awful scary things that I hated just like I hated piano recitals and I was always crushed if I did come in first or worse second. It was a huge value judgment on my whole being and I didn't think I'd ever want to do shows again. But this barn show was really fun because it was not a value judgment that I didn't place well. And riding in the arena beforehand for the warm-up with way too many horses and friends from 14 years old to 73 years old and we were all excited and the horses were excited and the air was full of festivity - it was just really fun to be a part of that.

We now have one more day after today to hear back from the bank on whether or not they're approving our counter-offer of $5k less to their counter-offer of $15k more. We sent in our counter offer a month ago and they still haven't gotten back to us even though our close deadline is Sept. 1st and unless we hear back tomorrow there will be no way we can close by Sept. 1st. I guess they think that holding out for that extra $5k is worth it considering we are the only people who have made an offer on the house in a year. Dumb asses. And people wonder why banks go under. I know they may get back to us by tomorrow but I'm really doubtful. And honestly, if they get back to us by tomorrow and we have to move in 10 days - it will be really stressful. We've been kind of preparing but honestly, I don't even know if we'll be able to reserve movers this short notice. The whole thing is pretty fucked in my opinion that the bank is so uninterested in selling their houses that the previous owners aren't paying their bad debts on. It's not the banks fault that the owner of this house is a dumb ass for taking out giant debts there was no way he could pay except the banks should've known better. What were they thinking making loans it was obvious could not be repaid??? Our economy is so ridiculous it's no wonder it has crashed. I even saw a news story on the AP about how because people aren't wracking up debts on their credit cards right now that our economy is suffering. Between that and people not "buying enough stuff" our economy is not recovering. So according to that article, buying stuff and going into debt is the cure for our bad economy. Pathetic!

Of course, if buying stuff is supposed to help we are trying to buy a house for several hundreds of thousands of dollars and the bank is not interested in selling it to us. Duh.

I have to just not go into that subject much because it makes me so frustrated. Today my plan is to relax a little after being way too busy so I should focus on that. I'm also having an arthritis flare-up, probably from not being consistent with my Enbrel all summer because of health problems, and because of the abrupt weather change from 90 degrees to 60 degrees. So today's plan is playdate with some new friends and watching movies with the girl. We just got National Velvet and the Black Stallion which I haven't seen since I was a kid.

Me and Girlfriend stumbling through our first show together!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

cowgirl goes rock climbing!

I took my daughter rock climbing for the first time today and it was the first time for me to try it too. I've been interested in trying it for awhile because I like to climb things (or at least I did back when I was 12 years old) and I'm afraid of heights so I thought it'd be good for me. What has been holding me back is my concern that with rheumatoid arthritis - which is at its worst in my shoulders, wrists, hands and fingers, that there is no way I could rock climb. But apparently riding horses has made me stronger than I realized because I was definitely strong enough.

We went with my co-worker J. who is a very experienced climber and has taught many-a little kid to climb. My daughter went first and even just watching her start to go up past about ten feet took my breath away in an anxious sort of way. She apparently has this fear too because she tried to climb a tree with one of her friends and got about six feet off the ground and had a panic attack and I had to lift her down from the tree and she was shaking all over and obviously terrified. So, I'm hoping rock climbing early on will squelch that fear before it gets really started.

With the belay rope and harness though she was very confident and scrambled right up the wall. J. climbed up and put her stuffed bunny on a rock and said, "Now, go save Bunny!" and my daughter scrambled right up the wall saying, "I'm coming to get you, Bunny! Hang on!" Then she'd lean back in the harness and swing around and repel back down the wall like it was easiest thing in the world.

When it was my turn I felt that same since of fear and "Surely I'm going to die doing this," that I felt the first time I rode Atlas and the first time I rode Sparky the other day. I reminded myself that Sparky is probably harder to ride than climbing up a rock wall with a belay rope and that actually did not get through to me emotionally at all - I still felt really scared. So, I started climbing and J. said she was impressed with how well I was doing and I felt pretty confident until I got up about 10 feet and I started to shake and feel kind of confused and discombobulated. I said to myself a few times, "I can do this. I'm ok," and kept going a bit farther then said I needed to come back down and take a break for a minute.

So J. said, "Just lean back and walk down the wall with your legs straight," to which I said (while hanging on to tiny fake rocks a couple stories up) "Lean back???" and followed it up in my head, "You're fucking kidding me!" J. said again, "Seriously, just lean back." I had to muster all of my will to get back the instinct to just stay up there hanging onto the little fake rocks and leaned back and hey - I did not fall. And getting down was pretty easy! I went up again and went farther and this time coming down was easier, but I couldn't make it to the top of the beginner wall yet because just before the last five feet or so the rock stopped going straight up and leaned out over one's head just a little bit, which feels freaky when it's your first time and you're up that high. My husband guessed it was about three stories up and I don't really know how high it was.

So, J. suggested I practice falling and that helped my confidence a lot. After that I was able to make it to the top but by then I was really tired and it was pretty hot in there and I decided if I want to ward off over-exerting myself and setting off a huge flare-up I should stop for the night.

So, yay! Conquered a fear and did something I did not think I was physically or emotionally capable of doing. Pretty cool! Now I'm hooked and want to keep going and trying hard walls!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stretching my courage muscles

I was out riding Girlfriend this afternoon practicing for the show next week, and Sabine (one of the teenagers who's pretty advanced in her riding) was riding Sparky. Sparky is a beautiful, very large thoroughbred who is also very spooky and neurotic. But he's sweet. He's just big and spooky and only the most advanced students ride him in their lessons. I had at first thought I would never ride him because I'm too old to ride a spooky horse. But I thought I would like it if Sabine would ride Girl because it's been really good for her having other people (who know how to ride) ride her because each time someone knew rides her it seems to build up her confidence. When she first came to the stable almost two years ago now she really didn't want anyone to ride her except me but now she's a lot more relaxed with new riders.

Sabine thought that would be great, so instead of just holding Sparky I figured I should ride him. But since he's my instructor's horse I needed to ask her permission first. I thought she'd say "Oh, well you're used to hot horses with your horse so no problem," but instead she said, "Well, let me think for a minute. Sparky is really spooky and can be unpredictable. That's why only my most advanced riders get to take lessons with him. If you do ride him you can not under any circumstance grip with your legs and he still might try to bolt with you because he will act like a thoroughbred sometimes." I said, "Well, then I'll just stop him like I do when Girlfriend bolts," and she said, "Ok. Well, just know he's spooky and hot and give it a try, I guess." and I said, "I will just walk with him and see how it goes."

So, I got up on him and realized that for a kid Sabine is really tall so I had to shorten the stirrups. And he was difficult to mount. With Girl I have to pull the reins back as short as they go when I mount her, but as soon as I picked up the reins Sparky backed-up. Sabine said with him you had to leave the reins loose and he wouldn't walk away but it was the only way to keep him from backing up. I was not convinced because in my head, not holding a good short rein when mounting a horse is dangerous, but I also wanted to actually get on Sparky and every time I took the reins in my hand he moved back before I could get my foot up to put in the stirrup. So, I did it Sabine's way and sure enough he just stood there.

Once I was up on him I didn't want to go through all that again to mount him so I had to shorten my stirrups while in the saddle. Plus, Sheryl was helping one of her students train one of the babies in the arena and she is always pestering me to not dismount if I need to change my stirrup length or tighten my girth. I didn't feel like having her call me on getting off Sparky just to change my stirrup length while I sputtered out whatever excuse about being afraid.

I got one stirrup adjusted with Sparky just stomping his front feet a little. But when I started on the right stirrup he started to do a little angry dance and gave a little buck and threw his head down as far as it could go in a very obvious "Can I send you flying over my head now?" move. It was slow enough and mild enough that I didn't lose my balance but it was very obvious what he had just tried to do. So, I walked him out into the arena a little bit to get him in a new environment, then quickly finished up adjusting my stirrup while thinking the whole time, "I'm totally going to get thrown off this horse. What the hell was I thinking?"

Judy passed by the arena and said, "Oh, you're riding Sparky! He has the best canter ever!" to which I said "I'm way too chicken to canter with him." We walked around a little bit and he was fine and we trotted a little bit which was really odd because it was so smooth - freakishly smooth after riding Girlfriend who is short and squat and so bouncing that sometimes in a sitting trot it looks like I'm posting just because I'm bouncing so much. Then - completely forgetting that Sabine had said at the beginning of her ride that Sparky was being extra spooky today - I wanted to see this canter of his. So, I tried to signal a canter and he just ran away at the trot because I did not signal hard enough. Once again. The perpetual problem for me with cantering on a regular horse is that with Girl I just let her canter but with typical horses I have to actually use my leg and the crop. But the second time we actually got a really good canter going and it was amazingly smooth. Unfortunately, right after that Sabine got called away to help with barn chores so I didn't get to ride him anymore after that. But I was proud that I left my scared little comfort zone and tried riding him and even cantered with him.

cowgirl goes to a wedding

Our daughter was gone all weekend at our church retreat and I have been both amazed at my maternal instinct and impressed that I have not acted on it. I've wanted to call someone's cell phone and ask them how she's doing but reason has won out that if she needs anything someone will call us, otherwise I should just let her do her thing. I'm amazed at how much of a void I feel though when she is gone for a couple days.

Maybe because of that I had a dream last night that I died and when I saw (from my ghost form) how devastated my family was - especially my daughter - I made it my mission (as a ghost) to find a way to turn back time and come back to life. It turned out that I could do that if I put on the record (as in an actual vinyl record) of Still They Ride by Journey and wished really hard while it was playing. Only I couldn't find the single in all the old records I had, even though I knew at one point I'd had it.

Last night we went to the wedding of a couple of good friends or ours. They are in their 20's so the wedding had some very different elements about it, but it was still lovely. They are one of my favorite couples because they are so young, but they are both so grounded and focused and obviously such a great match for each other (as shown by this video). But what amused me were things like the live video feed of the wedding and the blow by blow Twitter-feed of the wedding. Especially because I - as I explained it numerous times at the reception - am boycotting Twitter because I have to be against something it might as well be Twitter.

Seriously, I am not interested in Twitter because it seems very superfluous to real life. I like Facebook because I can post pictures that my family all over the world can see and I can keep in touch like that, but Twitter seems useless to me. You can only post tiny pockets of information and it embodies to me a shallowness of our society. Someone recently called me a Luddite but I think I'm not quite that bad. I'm more like an Amish. I embrace some technology but for example we also don't have a wii. Because you can actually do aerobics, skiing, play musical instruments and all that in real life. Why do you need to do it on a video game?

Still, the wedding was beautiful and although it was in a park and it poured down rain the whole time and all I could see from my seat was a sea of umbrellas, it was still very nice and I was impressed with what a great attitude everyone had despite the rain.

The other thing I had been nervous about was that I wasn't going to known anyone except the bride and groom and one of the bride's friends, Sarah, who I had met all of twice. And the wedding and reception were in the wealthiest neighborhood in the greater Seattle area. I was talking to my mom on the phone beforehand and said I had just noticed I had cat fur all over my black coat and do you think anyone in said wealthy neighborhood would have cat fur on their clothes or would I really stand out - and she said, "Oh, you will definitely stand out! You need to figure out a way to get that off before you get there!" Grumble. Time to whip out the comment, "That was not very supportive, Mom."

As it was, the cat fur was the only way I could tell my long black coat from everyone else's long black coat in the coat room. The only other catastrophe-in-my-head was when we got there, I was wearing a pale cream/flowered dress with a 1920's cut that came down to my shins and a pale green crocheted sweater. Literally all the other women (girls?) were wearing black or red mini-dresses and spiked heels. Except the mothers of the bride and groom. Thankfully, Sarah arrived wearing a white silk shin-length dress with bright flowers so I didn't feel like I stood out from the majority of the female guests. I had to take a deep breath when we walked into the park and say to myself "I'm dressed like me and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with dressing like me and not like everyone else!" The irony is, I used to wear only black with maybe a hint of dark Earth tones mixed in. But I thought for a summer wedding it would be more festive to wear something light and bright. Yet another reminder not to take the same mindset as my mom and to just be myself.

The reception turned out to be fun. There was only one woman there who I was acquainted with from the past who was very snotty back then and still seemed very snotty and it was odd to me that the bride - who is so warm and open and sweet - was interested in being close enough friends with her to invite her to her wedding. But everyone else was goofy and friendly and we talked to all sorts of interesting people who do lots of things in the tech. world that I don't understand. There were two high points in my evening, one was in the buffet line when I was telling a friend of the groom's family about Ignite and the man next to me said, "Hey! I run Ignite!" and was as friendly and talkative to me (a total stranger) as I am to total strangers. We had dinner with him and his wife and I was thrilled to meet people as friendly as me. It can be rare in our city to not have people recoil from friendliness or at least try to keep you at arm's length.

The other high point was when I went up to a friend of the groom's parents to compliment her dress (she was wearing a bright green sundress and a vibrant yellow shawl and stood out in a beautiful way amongst all the black clothes) and we started talking about non-profits and she introduces me to her friend who started an international non-profit helping women in third world countries and we had a great time talking together. She has been doing this for ten years and had all sorts of great ideas and insights that only come from experience, in contrast to my only having one year of experience with the non-profit I started. In the end I felt the most comfortable with the groom's parent's friends and found myself wishing that when we move out of the city we could move to that neighborhood so we could be neighbors with all of them. But of course when I looked at the prices of the houses for sale in that neighborhood I was reminded why we are not moving to the wealthiest neighborhood in the Greater Seattle area. Oh well. I did warn my husband if we have a windfall of millions of dollars any time soon that is where we're moving instead of Woodinville.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

One week until the show

Well, it's actually ten days until my first dressage test at a horse show since I was about 12 or 13 years old. I need to memorize the test between now and then and I need to ride Girlfriend a lot more - especially because it will be her first dressage test. And we had what felt like a catastrophic lesson today. I keep asking myself why but my instructor seemed to think that Girlfriend was just in a hot mood and pointed out a couple things I was doing that may have encouraged it - like keeping the reins too tight. And I think I was already tense which may have encouraged it, but she also may have just been in a mood.

It started when I was tacking her up. She was doing fine until I tried to put her bit in her mouth and she refused. She had a raw spot on her nose right where the nose band goes and I wondered if she just didn't want the discomfort of the noseband on the raw spot. And of course, I wondered where it came from. I know Ilana rode her in a lesson on Saturday, but she is not a bully with horses and knows how to ride Girlfriend - meaning she knows to use light signals. Anyway, I ended up holding a treat against the bit and that tricked Girl into opening her mouth to take the bit. I later wondered if that was going to be setting her up for a bad pattern of refusing the bit unless she gets a treat but my instructor figures Girl is so easy on the ground usually that in a situation like this it wasn't a big deal.

Our warm-up was fine and she had an energetic walk but in general was doing fine. But by the time my lesson started, especially when we trotted she was all wound up. And I over-signaled her a couple times quite a bit which sent her bolting both times (something she hasn't done in a long time) and it was hard to get her to slow down again. There was a small crowd at the arena door watching our lesson because everyone is gearing up for the show next week and was curious to see how my retired gaming horse was going to do in our practice test today. By the end of our lesson I was having a really hard time keeping her at a trot and a couple times thought there was no way I was going to be able to get her to slow down from a canter to a trot. But I just kept with it and my instructor actually praised me after my lesson at how much better my balance is and how I would catch myself trying to balance myself with the reins (which hurts the horse and actually makes me more unbalanced) and then stop doing that. But still, I wonder what the heck was up with Girl and what I may have been doing to make her so amped and a bit out of control today.

After my lesson some of the girls watching said I'd looked really good and I said thanks, but obviously something was up because Girl was bolting a lot but they said I still looked good. We did do our patterns pretty well and I kept her straight. One thing my instructor said was that the patterns we were doing for the dressage test were similar to getting started to do barrel patterns and that Girl was probably just trying to do what she's done her whole life - which is go through the pattern at a gallop. She was trained not to go through patterns at a trot, so hopefully that's all it was, that she was just doing what she thought she should be doing and not that I just sucked at riding today.

It's funny how my instructor can critique me all to hell and I listen to it and take it seriously, but like today when she tells me all the things I am improving on and the things she saw me do that were good despite Girl not sticking to the program, I find myself thinking that she just must be saying that to make me feel better. Until I remind myself that she does not "just say things to make people feel better". It reminded me of this morning when my boss came over to my desk and said, "We need to talk in my office. Are you free?" and I said, "Ok," and started to follow him into his office and suddenly he stops and says, "Oh, and it is good," then turns back around and starts walking again and mutters, "I don't want you freaking out again that I'm going to fire you or something ..." But I don't think Sheryl is too worried about me freaking out over my insecurities. She'd just tell me if I want to be a good rider I need to get over and just keep trying.

Monday, August 2, 2010

crime

I went to work this morning and had trouble getting the door open because the door jam was mangled at the top and it appeared to me the way the paint started to peel when I forced the door open that the door had been painted shut (assuming they'd painted the hallway in my office building). The top latch of the door that never opens in the double door set was sitting on the shelf next to the door like someone who was working on it just hadn't though to put it back up. I momentarily thought someone might have broken in, but it looked like nothing was missing - all the computers were there and nothing looked like it had been touched. It wasn't until I talked to my co-worker that it turned out there had been a laptop left at the office that was no longer there, and the burglars had also broken into the homeless advocacy group in the office next door and after destroying their cash register stole the $9 that was in it. Geez.

I got home around noon to be told that while I was at work, our neighbor's just five doors down had had an attempted break-in. The mom and baby had been in the basement when they heard a knock at their front door. She ignored it since she wasn't expecting anyone (and this time of year our neighborhood gets a lot of solicitors). A few minutes later she heard someone trying to kick in the basement door. Apparently, she started screaming and they ran away. Now I feel bad for taking the pitbull to work and not leaving her at home to protect my mom and my daughter! I'm glad they didn't come and try our house next!

This time last year the crime du jour was a group of guys going around kicking in doors, pistol whipping the residents if they were home and stealing whatever they could. We ramped up our home security after that at night. At least these guys ran away when the woman screamed but they did try to kick in her door at 11am in a very well populated neighborhood. It makes me very sad. And it validates that I don't want to continue living here for the rest of my life. Although, honestly, I don't think Woodinville is always going to have that much less crime. It has less right now, but who knows if that will stay the way it is.

When I was out walking with my friend, Hannah on her property a couple weeks ago I was asking her friend Nicki about living in Gold Bar. She said it's beautiful and they love being in the country, but they basically gave up the crack dealers and prostitutes by their apartment in Fremont (just off Aurora) for meth houses. I know there are places that don't have this much crime, I just don't know where they are. Unless of course we were to go out as far as Hannah lives, where you have to drive miles off a main road through the woods to get to her house. But then she and her husband have to worry about bears, cougars and bobcats. I'd like to go out this summer with the family and camp out on their property but first I have to figure out how to make sure we're safe in a tent from bears and cougars.

We heard back from the bank last week with a counter-offer and we sent them back a counter to their counter and now I'm wondering how long it will take them to get back to us. I came straight home from work today and started painting the kitchen. I feel overwhelmed looking at all the painting that needs to be done. And just the cleaning up in general. My mom stayed after babysitting to help me take cupboard doors down and clean them up before painting them. I felt guilty because she is 73 years old and I can't imagine I'll be able to do manual labor by that age, but it also makes me proud to have a mother who is willing to help do that kind of stuff.

My daughter asked me today what I thought it would feel like to live in the new house and I said it might feel a little strange at first but it will probably feel really good too. Then we looked at photos on the seller agent's website and talked about the neighborhood and the park nearby and I showed her the website for the new school. It helps too that there's a girl her age who lives next door and she even has a pet pitbull. I am completely clueless how to help my daughter cope with a big change like moving to a new house in a completely new neighborhood, but I'm trying to go with the idea of how I would want someone to help me cope. We'll talk about it and I'll tell her how I feel and listen to how she feels and as my therapist says "help her hold the big feelings that feel too big for her to hold by herself". That sounds kind of like silly therapy talk when I say it, but the idea really makes sense to me. I remember being little and being so overwhelmed by feelings and feeling all alone in that and like I would drown in the feelings without anyone to help me understand them and be assured they were just feelings and wouldn't destroy me. I'm hoping my daughter won't ever have to feel that way.