Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

It's New Year's Eve and I'm happily snuggled on the couch with my daughter watching Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve.  I keep muting the parts with Jenny McCarthy though and trying to explain to my 7-year old in age appropriate terms why she is evil and why she has a death count on her head of children who have died needless deaths from preventable diseases because of Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccine campaign. Anyway.

We went to a pre-New Year's Eve party at a friend's house in Seattle last night which was really fun for the two hours we were there.  Amusing interchange of the evening with someone (from the city apparently) I hadn't met yet:  Stranger: "Um, did you just say "arena"?" Me: "Yes, but I mean a riding arena, like in a barn." "I know, I heard you use the word barn too.  So I heard "barn" and "arena" - am I going to hear the term "pick-up truck" next?" Me (without flinching): "No, cause I don't have one. We can't afford one yet, but I need one to be able to haul the horse trailer." Oddly enough, urban stranger switched gears and said, "So, you actually have horses? Cause I used to like horses when I was a kid."

Unfortunately, I was having a great time hanging out with old friends - some from as far back as highschool age, but I'd been having little momentary bouts of nausea and by evening was having little bouts of dizziness and wooziness - which I was writing off as just being tired.  And with rheumatoid arthritis, sometimes I just don't feel very good.  But not this time.  By 9:30am I was so nauseous I whispered to my husband that we had to leave immediately because I didn't feel well and while saying my good-byes kept my eye on the path to the bathroom.  It was really unfortunate timing because I was having such a good time with my old friends and we'd all gotten babysitters which is very rare.  Oh well.  I feel much better now 24 hours later and got to enjoy some hot cereal and my first cup of coffee of the day for dinner.

I'm hoping to feel well enough to go work Toad tomorrow. We were supposed to make up our training session this morning but I was too sick, and honestly Trainer K. was so sick yesterday I almost hope she didn't go do the training.  But she never takes a day off.  Another reason to not go in today to give her this yucky virus.

So, going into 2012 I really can't think of year that I had more to be grateful for.  We have a wonderful home, the chance and ability to try to follow our dreams - mine with horses and writing and my husband with his art - even if it's not full-time.  We have wonderful friends and family and for the most part our health (and great health care which is sadly a luxury in our country nowdays).  I hope that I can impart some of my good fortune to others in the coming year so they too can have so much to be grateful for in their lives.

On a less mature note, the conversation on our couch is making me happy. Me: "Oh god, Ashton Kucher, maybe he and Jenny McCarthy should get together to be the ultimate vortex of annoyance." My husband: "If they got together they would collapse into a singularity by the gravitational force of their collected egos."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sometimes I wonder ...

I haven't been riding much because Girlfriend is not doing so well lameness wise and Toad has been a nervous wreck what with all the activity at the barn during Christmas break.  I was really disappointed today because we were going to do a make-up training session and there was no room in the arena because Trainer J. had a group lesson. 

So, I decided to ride Girlfriend and see how she was doing.  Unfortunately, I got up on her and she was walking just fine and very energetic, but when we tried to trot it was awful.  She was all out of rhythm and she was bobbing her head like crazy.  I asked Trainer J. if she could watch her for a moment and tell me if she looked lame, but honestly, I already knew the answer.  Trainer J. said it wasn't so much that she looked lame in one particular leg, but that all her legs were super stiff and she was really favoring one of her front legs.  So, I think her riding days (other than walking trail rides) are done.  I'm sad about it but at the same time it just feels right that now is her time to retire from riding, so I'm not *as* sad as I thought I'd be.  I need to talk to her previous owner about possibly having her live there, and if that doesn't work out my farrier has a nice farm where he boards a few retired horses just up in Lake Stevens which sounds nice for her.

Luckily for me, T. was there riding Temple and she'd offered to let me ride her the other evening when I was there to drop off supplements, but I had my daughter with me who was ancy to go home and I was wearing jeans and the wrong boots for riding.  So, I asked if I could try out Temple for five minutes before I went home.  Temple is super cute - T. doesn't actually know what she is but she's been told a couple different things.  The one that seems the most true is Mustang.  Temple is only four years old and she's short - I think 14 hh, and stocky. And she's got that wide Mustang head.  She's always just poking along with T. on her back, looking mellow and completely unbothered by everything around her.  Which is very Mustang of her.

Anyway, I had no idea what to expect other than she's an easy horse to ride even though she's young and green.  She was definitely green and a little slow to listen to rein aids.  She listened a little better to leg aids.  And she had some get-up-and-go! I barely had to use my legs to get her to trot and when she did she went immediately into a fast trot.  But I wanted her to do a nice, energetic working trot because it's easier to post for me.  Then I asked her to canter and she just took off! Apparently, making the kissing noise works for her just like it would for a barrel horse!  I gave her some leg and kissed and she lowered her head and just took off as fast as she could!  She kept trying to canter on the wrong lead, so I kept stopping and starting again.  So, Trainer J. said just to change direction while cantering (duh ... didn't think of that) and see what happened.  What was interesting is that she seemed like it was much harder for her to canter on the right lead than the wrong one and she wanted to go back to the wrong lead.  Although for riding it felt a ton better when we'd switch direction and be on the right lead.  She is just a super fun little pony!  She reminded me a lot of Girlfriend although much greener.

I have to admit this afternoon I was thinking how it would be nice to have a horse I could just hop on and ride whenever I want instead of having to go through so much training and work just to be safe to ride.  But I do love Toad.  I just need to patient. And I remember I went through phases when I very first got Girlfriend where I felt like she was too hard to ride because she was so different being a Western gamer than what little dressage-trained me knew what to do with.  But things turned out great with her and four years (or has it been five now?) later she's the easiest horse of all the ones I know for me to ride.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Learning to hulu hoop from a 7 year-old.

"Ok mom, first you need to have the hulu hoop totally straight.  You're starting out slanted so let me show you what happens when you start out slanted."  7-year old proceeds to start with slanted hulu hoop and it falls on the ground.  "So, make sure it's straight first off all, then make small circles with your hips like this," 7 year old shows me the right move.  "What you're doing is this," 7 year old flails in what is apparently what I am doing.  "Instead do this ..."  while wiggling her hips in a much smaller way "See ... small circles ... small circles ..."  Hands me the hulu hoop.  "Now you try."  I put the hulu hoop around my waist and she says, "Wait stop!" then adjusts the hulu hoop, eyes me then says, "Ok, straight.  Go ahead and remember small circles ... small circles ..."  I give it a try and flub it badly.  "Ok,  I see you still doing this,"  7 year old flails, "Try doing this," 7 year old makes small circles with her hips.  "Here, do it with me first without the hulu hoop."  We make small circles together with our hips and 7 year old says "Good! You've got it! Now try it with the hulu hoop.  Make sure it's straight first."  I am about to try again and 7 year old says "And remember to relax and breath."  I try to start hulu hooping and 7 year old takes a big breath and lets it out slowly saying "And breeeathe."  I flub again and she says "You're getting it! You just need to keep trying."

I've been schooled.  My girl - the coach.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas and barn adventures

It was a nice Christmas out in our rural suburbs. It rained and the weather forecast calls for rain for the next ten days straight which is disappointing, but other than that things are going well.  I'm just bummed it hasn't snowed at all this winter and doesn't look like it's going to.

Christmas Eve my folks came over for dinner and we had a feast of traditional food: sweet potato pie, turkey, stuffing, beans in mushroom cream sauce, cranberry chutney.  Tonight we had dinner at my brother's house with a very good roast marinated in Tom Douglas rub.  I love those.  My daughter made the whole day festive and fun and loved all her presents.  Even the pitbull and cats loved their presents.  When I came downstairs in the morning my dad and my daughter were reading the paper at the dining room table and the pitbull was standing in the living room staring at her stocking intently.  She was very happy when I finally gave her her presents.

In between Christmas morning and going to my brother's house I went out to the barn to work Toadie a little bit.  T. and her new horse Temple were doing the same thing.  Zeke-the-giant's owner was out there walking Zeke around and changing the bandage on his foot wound and Trainer J. was out taking care of her horses before heading home to celebrate Christmas with her son.  We were all in good spirits and the mood around the barn was festive and light.  T.  made a comment about the wind picking up a little outside so when we went in the arena to lunge our horses I asked if I could take the side whose door opened into the inside of the barn and the other stalls and if she wouldn't mind taking the side where the arena door opened up to the outside (which is a little scarier when it's windy or raining).  I felt like giving Toad as mellow of a work-out as possible.  And Temple is so calm we figure it would be no big deal.

The wind had picked up enough that you could hear it rattling some boards outside and that made Toad a little nervous, but she calmed down quickly and started walking in her circle on the lunge line.  Then some huge gusts blew by that rattled the corrogated plastic on the roof of the arena and Toadie spooked and started to run in circles.  I stayed calm and said firmly "Trot," and began to pull her in on the lunge line.  Then another few huge gusts blew a bunch of tree branches across the roof and Toad bucked and started running again.  I let her out on the lunge line a little because she was getting too close to me and was in a full-blown panic.  But I kept talking to her and telling her "Easy.  Trot.  Nothing's wrong.  Trot.  Pay attention to me.  Trot."  Then as though things weren't bad enough while everything is shaking and rattling and banging from these enormous gusts of wind and rain, some branches got blown into the side of the barn with this huge SLAM! and honestly, it sounded to me like we were in the middle of World War III by then.  By then most of the horses in the barn were screaming their heads off and rearing and turning in their stalls and kicking the walls to try and escape their stalls.  Toad was just a goner by then and was just running all over the place in circles around me while T. yelled, "Oh my god! What was that? What is happening?"

My only thought was to calm Toadie enough to get her out of the arena and either into her stall or preferably the grooming area so I could get her bridle off and put her blankets back on.  But she was tearing around me in circles, bucking and screaming herself, and she wasn't staying in a consistent circle width away from me. I put the whip under my arm (just in case I needed it to chase her from running me over, but so that my accidentally lifting it wouldn't encourage her to run more).  I braced my feet and held on tight to the lunge line and started pulling her in saying in a firm, commanding voice, "Whoa Toad. You're fine. Knock it off and listen to me. Whoa. Easy. Whoa."  Finally she stopped running and kind of bounced toward me and stood straight in front of me a few feet, kind of dancing with her ears straight back and a crazed look in her eyes.  I thought she was going to suddenly charge and barrel right over me and was about to pull my whip forward to be ready to fend her off, when I realized that she was staring at me begging me to come over to her side and lead her out of the arena and save her.

At that moment there was a brief lull in all the thundering, banging sounds and all we could hear were the sounds of the wind gusting and horses screaming and kicking, so it seemed like a good opportunity to get out before Toad lost her mind again.  T. said she was going to try for a few more minutes to lunge because it sounded like it was calming down, but the minute we walked out of the arena the wind picked up and something started banging on the roof again.  I got Toad into the grooming area and she calmed down enough for me to get the bridle off and her halter back on.  It wasn't as loud in the grooming area by far.  Before I'd even picked up her fleece liner to put on the power went off.  Then T. walked out with Temple and said, "I've got to get her put away.  She's freaking out too much."  I reminded her about Temple's blanket and she said, "I won't be able to get it on her safely because she's freaking out too much.  I'll come back later for it.  I just need to get her in her stall."  I considered not putting Toad's blankets on until things were calmer but even though she was on high alert she was calmer and standing still (although with her ears back and ready to jump at a moment's notice) and I knew I wouldn't have time to come back to put them on later in the day.

I started chatting away to her, "Hey, not bad not having to work and now getting to have lunch. Hey, that's what Christmas is for. Aren't you looking forward to having your fleece blanket on again?" and that seemed to be calming her down.  But I couldn't think of things to ramble on to her about in an upbeat tone so I sang "Joy to the World, it's windy as hell and it's scaring the shit outta you!  But it will pass by soon enough, but it will all be over soon, and it's just no big deal, and it's just no big deal, and it's, it's just no big deal." And that seemed to keep her calm too.  And before you knew it I had both her liner on and her over blanket and everything was all hooked up and she was ready to go back to her stall.  She was very happy about that.

As I was putting my stuff away Zeke's owner came back to our side and said, "How'd that lunging go?" and I said, "You're kidding, right?" and he said, "Well, you're both still in one piece - that's good!" He told us how he had been wrapping Zeke's foot and had been about to put on a couple paddock boots and then the wind starting blowing things into the barn and he thought, "Oh, Zeke can live without his boots.  Not sure I can live trying to get them on right now ..."

So, I will try again tomorrow to do some work with her.  It was so bad that I don't think I could've even ridden Girlfriend.  She's pretty calm about weather conditions but that was much more over the top than just some rain or wind.  It rivaled the booming, crashing sound that did actually make Girlfriend spook really bad a couple years ago when melting ice and snow caused the whole west side gutter to fall off our old barn.  On the drive home I had to dodge some really large tree branches that had fallen in the roads.  There were smaller branches covering the road, but the occasional branch that was so big I couldn't drive over it.

Here is a happy pitbull with one of her presents:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Toadie's first spook with me on her back.

Today was a weird day for riding.  There were a lot of people at the barn because the kids are on Christmas break and all out riding their ponies.  And one mom was trying to fix something for someone so she was outside the arena hammering, and there were horses and people passing the arena doors constantly.  On top of that Toad was feeling a little remedial as it was.  She didn't get to go out for her morning turn-out because the paddocks were all iced over and the ground from barn to paddock was like an ice rink, but when I took her in the arena to free lunge her, after doing some seriously huge bucks (and farting like crazy) she just plunked around and ended up looking out the door like "Can I go in now?"

While I was grooming her she was being calm and nice.  Except for when Trainer K. was showing me where some mud was packed up in her feet just above her leg, where just brushing wasn't getting it off - she pulled her foot away in kind of nasty, kicking sort of way and Trainer K. reprimanded her and she kicked out in a challenging sort of way which of course led to a bit of a showdown of which the Toad did not win.  But then she was all sulky.  I've been wanting to be the one to tighten her girth lately because she is still learning not to be rude about that.  Today she was fine except when I reached under her girth to pull on it to see if it was tight enough and she jumped and swung her butt at me.  I corrected her and we tried again and she did it two more times and got corrected each time, which upset her and made her act like she was the most put-upon horse in the world.

She did pretty well during her lunging session but she was very distracted when I was riding her.  A couple things made her jump a little and prick her ears up.  Then much to my angst the dumbass a couple doors down decided for the first time that I've heard since April to gun his mufflerless engine on his truck.  And not just gun it but hold it down and let it rev over and over.  The exact same noise that scared Rolls and Gabrielle so badly last April that they threw me and Sara.  The first time it happened today Toad started and looked terrified and Trainer K. was right next to me and said, "Keep her going. Just keep her walking and paying attention to you and that will calm her down."  She was already so wound up that we were working at a walk on steering and keeping the energy in her walk. 

Then bozo decided to rev his engine over and over again and it really freaked out Toad (and it didn't help that my subconsious now equates that noise with "I'm going to thrown off!) and I'm not sure what she did but she did something along the lines of spinning and scooting.  I managed to go with her in the seat but I'd had some fairly long reins to begin with and fumbled a lot to pull them back to stop her and was clumsy and discombobulated trying to shorten them.  I told Trainer K. I was glad it wasn't a bad spook and she said it was more bad than she would've liked with me riding, but when Toad started to spin and I was no longer balanced, Trainer K. said that Toad felt me shift and stopped.  So, she was taking care of me!  That's my girl!  It's probably good that I've had so much practice with Girlfriend and her scooting and spins when she's all riled up because I never lost my balance enough to think I was going to fall off, mostly I was just thinking "Aaack! Shorten the reins!" while clumsily fumbling with them.  But still, I think Trainer K. was right and Toad did forget I was up there and stopped when she remembered it.  I don't know why she is so good to me but I'm glad about it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The horse nobody wanted.

There's a new girl at our stable who is friends with Trainer K. and the other day when I met her I said, "This is my horse, Toad," and she said, "I know Toad.  She was the horse nobody wanted."  I guess I could see how that would be what people think about her because her old owner never did anything with her.  Apparently, the young horse Toadie's old owner bought (who was sweet but young and green when she bought her) has become very honory and even a little dangerous because her new owner doesn't work with her, she just jumps on her back and sits there while the horse does what it wants.  That is different than riding a horse.  Sitting on a horse, and riding a horse are not the same.  Riding actually takes lessons to learn how to do it right and actually takes active communication with the horse.  I don't know why people let their kids do stuff that is potentially extremely dangerous without any oversight or coaching.  I wonder how long it will be until this current horse is deemed "dangerous" and "a project" and "not handleable" like Toadie was?

Meanwhile, I didn't get to ride Toad during training yesterday because Trainer J. was having a group lesson and there were too many horses and kids and activity in the arena and Toad was all sorts of distracted.  Trainer K. rode her and she did fine with all the people and activity, but for safety sake we decided it was best I not ride.  Today all the activity was outside the arena and Trainer K. had unfortunately taken a fall yesterday (not off a horse thankfully) and was feeling sore and not up to doing her training ride.  So, today was the first time that I lunged Toad and then hopped up on her to ride her without Trainer K. doing any of it.  She did "loom" and give me lots of instruction here and there during the lunging and she was on me the whole time riding - reminding me about posture and position.  There is soooooo much to remember about posture.  One minute I get my legs relaxed enough and have isolated just using my lower legs while relaxing my seat, when my hands go up, or my head is down, or my elbows leave me side.  Then I start *thinking* about my posture and my seat gets tense.  Aaaargh.  So much to train my body to do! 

Once we get warmed up it's like we're both completely in synch and dancing together which is so cool!  I feel like despite being so green and young that Toad is taking care of me.   I try to remain calm and look for things that would spook her and be ready to keep her attention and do what I can to keep her calm and grounded, but even then I feel like she is trying to be focused and calm for me.  She was very alert to all the activity going on outside the arena but didn't spook at any of it, even when she passed the inside wall and a horse on the other side of the wall kicked it.  If she were on the lunge line she would've scooted off to the wall and started running, but instead she just pricked up here ears and kept going.  I gave her a pat and a "good girl" for that.  I don't know why she's so good for me or why we have such great chemistry together.  I'm just very glad we do.  And it is always so hard for me to get off her back at the end of a lesson.  Even more so today because I only had twenty minutes to ride. She is such a good girl!  I still just can't believe what a good horse she is.

I was telling Trainer K. that I feel like Toad takes care of me and then I snuggled Toad on the nose and said, "Are you scared I'll give you back to your old owner?" and Trainer K. muttered, "Oh god no!"  I'm so glad Toadie has a chance to show her true colors - which is that she's a very sweet horse who tries very hard.  She's still a Thoroughbred and she'll still have "Thoroughbred moments" where she gets overwhelmed and it fries her brain, and she is still going to stay sensitive to lots of new stimuli, but despite that she is a sweet, sweet girl who tries very hard and that is so important to me.  It reminds me of myself - I'm not the most emotionally stable and I get anxious and easily overwhelmed, so I feel like I can't fault my horse for being just like me!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

They can smell weakness

I have a horrible cold.  The same one my daughter is just getting over and my poor husband also has.  His seems to be letting up some but then he's also got the immune system of steel compared to my crappy one.  He is off at some hacker/computer game/geek something or another for his work this afternoon.  I am trying to rally but I swear my daughter is having an instinctual need to do everything in her power to piss me off while I'm not feeling well.  There's a "Ha ha! Mom is weak so now is my time to alpha-dog her!" thing going on here.  This is what I get for having a daughter who is just like me. Sigh.  It's either that or she's just acting like she normally does with the whole "You are not the boss of me!" attitude and it's just irritating me more because I feel awful. Probably the latter. But it still could be a mutiny.  Must keep my wits about me.

Since I'm on a roll with complaining, I had a huge stress dream last night that I was ostracized from my family and my husband's family because I don't have a degree from college.  Yes, it's true. I am one of those "high school graduates" on the statistics who a lot of people just immediately write off as stupid/Jerry Springer watchin/Wonder Bread eating losers.  If I were to join a dating site I would immediately be written off by the majority of guys because I am a "high school graduate" as opposed to BA/BS or higher.  Oddly, it has not been a problem for me getting jobs though.  That might be because good bookkeeper/accountants with experience in the legal field are apparently rare around here.  But back to my stress dream, it really was depressing.  And apparently somewhere in me I am still insecure about it.  My latest goal to re-visit math from algebra up is all well and good but in the dream I yelled at my mom that if she's so ashamed of me why doesn't she pay for me to go back to school for a physics degree.  A little part of me was disappointed to wake up and realize that no one is going to pay for me to go back to school for a physics degree with a minor in math.  Oh well.  I can learn it on my own without the enormous college expense.

I stuck my toe into revisiting Algebra yesterday.  It seemed much more simple than it did in 7th grade.  We'll see how I feel about it once I get to Algebra II though.  Calculus seems easier too, but we'll see once I really dive into it.  I also need to get a cohesive answer as to why physics is expressed in math equations.  Why not just in regular language explaining the concepts? Like why can't you say that a ball thrown on an airplane moving at a steady speed reacts in the same way as a ball thrown on the ground?  Why do you need math equations? I'm guessing it is because physics is all about measurements and math is the most efficient way of measuring things.  I asked my science geek husband but he's a chemistry-science geek more than physics so he said to ask our friend, Nathan who is the ultimate science geek and has two BS's in two separate sciences. Or maybe it's three.  I don't remember if he ever got his BS in biology.  That's the other area I want to learn is microbiology.

Even though I have an awful cold I had to drag my sorry ass to the stable to take supplements to the horses and let Toad out to run around the arena and get her ya ya's out.  I took the video camera out with me and Trainer K. took some video of her and although she didn't get her full gallop going that she tries to get sometimes she did get some of her bucks out.  I think she looks really pretty when she's just running around playing.  Here is part of the video.  When I downloaded it the quality was really not good at all but I don't feel like messing with iMovie right now.  You can still how pretty she is when she's running around like a little kid.  And you can see what I look like dressed in about five layers in thirty degree weather with a nasty cold.  I'm surprised I didn't do a face plant right in the middle of the arena.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Now is a great time to use the word "Quantum" again.

I think I've mentioned this before, but my husband and BFF and I have a really big pet peeve known as psuedo-science.  Basically when someone tries to pass off something non-scientific with scientific theory and it just doesn't add up.  A lot of people use the term "skeptic" to describe that irritation with psuedo-science but I don't generally identify with that group either because they often also identify as athiest and will say that the lack of proof of God proves that God doesn't exist.  Actually, if you look at things from a scientific standpoint  - current lack of proof of existence does not actually prove lack of existence.  It just proves that there is no proof and there is still a question.  And personally, I believe that when you're talking about a philosophical concept like "God" it is apples to oranges to compare it to science.  Anyway, I was reading some humorous thing about "what to do when your psuedo-science is challenged by a real scientist" and one of the responses was "Now is a good time to use the word "Quantum" again." Which occasionally has become my husband and my catch phrase.

Recently Schrodinger's Equation came up in conversation with my daughter and myself.  Sadly, I don't understand the math behind Schrondinger's Equation but I understand the concept.  That subatomic particles can exist in two dual states at once and will remain as such until measured and then they take on just one state.  My husband said it has to do with Wave Particle Duality theory, but I think that's what it is - I need to look that up.  Anyway, I've finally decided that I need to learn the math behind some of these physics theories that I find so interesting.  So, I'm starting with algebra and re-visiting that because I don't remember any of it anymore.  And I'll work my way up.  Yes, I'm crazy enough to think I can learn this on my own with some text books and some questions to my scientist friends. We'll see if this experiment in free learning (well free except for the text books) works or not.  I'll let you know in a few years when I get to the point where I hopefully understand the math in Schrodinger's Equation.

Meanwhile, I like my 7 year old daughter's answer to the analogy of Schrodinger's Cat.  I was trying to explain to her how the cat in the box could be both alive and dead to us, giving it a dual reality in our perception, until the box is opened and we observe it.  That is how the cat can be both alive and dead at the same time.  To which she answers, "Or the cat could be a zombie.  Then it would alive and dead too."  Well yes.  Subatomic zombies.  That works.

Then yesterday I did the unheard of - I compared religion to science.  Although I don't think I actually went into psuedo-science.  Maybe I did.  Somebody call me out if I did happen to accidentally dip my toe into psuedo-science.  My daughter was asking me why God and Mother Nature (because of course it is a two-parent family ...???) don't punish people for being bad.  Like, why doesn't it snow on the birthday of good kids and then not snow on the birthday of bad kids?  I said that God and Mother Nature are all about forgiveness.  But then I didn't want to give the impression to be a good Christian one must be a doormat - I hate that and think that is so wrong.  So I said, "God and Mother Nature live in a different state of being than us so it is easy for them to forgive everyone.  It's not practical for us to forgive everyone who is bad or they will keep hurting us if they are really mean.  Kind of like subatomic particles - different laws apply in the quantum world of subatomic particles than apply in the Macro world."  Hmmm ... may have strayed into a territory there where I could've fallen to the level of "saying the word Quantum".  I think a better analogy may have been "It's easier to forgive ants in an ant farm for killing each other and genocide (or the ant equivalent) than it is to forgive your fellow human."

Parenting is hard.  It was much easier when she was a baby and all I had to do to make her happy was to swaddle her like a burrito and carry her around in a sling.  Now I actually have to think on my feet and I'm not always that good at that.  Especially in the morning.  Like the pre-coffee Saturday morning I will never forget when I said, "No, you can't watch Kick Buttowski cause it's about a kid who's really fucked up."  Sigh.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bacon of the month club

My daughter and I both enjoy watching Food Network and we just watched a show where they ask chefs what the best food they ever ate was.  One of the guys talked about The Bacon of the Month Club.  Apparently, there really is such a thing.  It actually sounds like something I would want to join.  Because I'm a terrible carnivore.  I made the mistake of telling my friend who is a vegan that I used to look at our chicken, Janey and think what a tasty roast she would make.  I assured her I never think that about my cats, dogs, horses or children.  I'm not sure she believed me.  I have a theory that different people are genetically predisposed to be carnivores, vegans or vegetarians and it's up to each individual to figure out which one they are.  Most vegetarians say the idea of eating meat makes them feel sick just to think about and sure, that may be a pathology but the way they describe it sounds more like a visceral reaction.  Just like my visceral reaction of looking at my fat, little chicken and thinking how tasty she would be.  My daughter got upset once when I said I needed to get the chicken in the oven and she asked, "Which chicken?" and I said, "The dead one in the fridge - not one of your pets.  We don't eat our friends.  Unless they are chickens and then only if we're starving.  Which we are not."

Anyway, Toadie and I are really coming along in her training.  This last week was a difficult one for her.  She was a nervous wreck and a hormonal wreck to boot.  But Friday we had a really good ride.  When I transitioned from trot back to walk, I noticed that I bounced at a sitting trot quite a bit for the last couple steps and that just didn't feel so I asked Trainer K. what I was doing wrong.  Maybe I was sitting properly for the sitting trot?  Trainer K. said that Toad's back isn't strong enough yet for me to work on the sitting trot with her but she did give me some tips on how to use my seat to slow her down.  So we worked on me slowing my posting down during the trot to get her to walk.  It was pretty amazing how we could be trotting along at a good working trot, I'd slow down my posting and Toadie would just ease right into a walk within a few steps.  I didn't need to pull back on the reins or use my voice commands or anything! Trainer K. said one of the great things about green (ie: barely trained) horses like Toadie is that they are still sensitive enough to listen to the rider's seat.  Even if they don't know what to make of the reins, they will instinctively slow down when you use your seat correctly.  Then we worked on getting her to stop by tightening my core muscles and the my very top abductor muscles.  That was pretty cool too!  After working on it a few times I was able to ask Toadie to stop without using my reins or voice commands at all!  Pretty nifty!  And what was even cooler is that Toad was so relaxed and proud of herself.

Today my daughter invited two of her friends over to make Christmas cookies.  I didn't even think about it until I showed them how to cut out the sugar cookies and they started talking but one friend is Hindu and the other is Jewish.  So there were a lot of interesting conversations.  Especially because when I pulled out the cookie cutters I realized I had some Hanukkah cookie cutters so the girls talked about Christmas and Hanukkah and a Hindu holiday called something like the Festival of Lights.

I wish it would snow.  I really should live in the Midwest because I've been bemoaning that even though we live in the convergence zone it still hasn't snowed at all yet this winter.  Sigh. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Birds fall from the ledge outside my window

Back in 1993 I had a cheap, little CD with a song on it called Mr. Mastadon Farm about lying in bed watching birds fall from a ledge outside this guys window and how he had to lean forward so he could see them start flying after they fell otherwise his whole life would fall too.  I had a friend who had just started a record company and I played the CD for him and said, "You should sign these guys!"  I swear it was about the only moment of good marketing foresight I've ever had (and ever will have).  Said friend did not sign them and they went on to become pretty big anyway.  And said friend shut down the record company and became an elementary school teacher which is probably a much better use of his talents anyway.  I, on the other hand, never again achieved any more moments of good marketing foresight and I actually think that when it comes to marketing and sales I am cursed and quite possibly the worst person on Earth at it. 

I went out to free lunge Toad today because she needed to get her ya-ya's out.  I love watching her run around free in the arena.  Today she was all over the place and really took off when the barn owner walked by the arena with his stallion.  Apparently, Toadie is in heat because she stuck her tail straight up in the air, then took off at a full gallop across the arena.  Kelsey was watching from the arena door and did some "oooh aaaahs" with me.  I wish I had access to a secured race track so I could just let Toadie run full barrel down a straight away so she could really stretch herself out and let loose.  Our arena isn't big enough for her to really get going.  Kelsey has a Thoroughbred too and said that you can really tell the difference between a Thoroughbred like hers and a Thoroughbred like Toad who was bred and trained to race.  Well, Kelsey can really tell the difference.  I might be able to if I saw her horse and Toad run next to each other.

I was very proud of Toad because after she ran around enough to wear herself out, she calmly walked over to me at the end of the arena where I was standing.  Technically, I was guarding the south gate of the arena because there are horse stalls on the other side and Toad used to like to gallop up to the gate and skid to a stop and bang into the gate, so my job is to guide her during her running and playing to go away from the gate.  She galloped past me a couple times today and all I could do was get out of her way.  Anyway, she walked right up to me and stuck her head against my chest for me to pet her.  I had left her lead rope in the middle of the arena so I turned toward the center of the arena and said, "Come with me Toadie" and used my body language to let her know I wanted her to follow me, and she did! She followed right in back of my right shoulder all the way to the middle of the arena then stopped when I asked her and stood quietly while I put on her lead rope!  She got lots of hugs and praises and kisses on the nose for that!  And of course some carrots.  I'm so proud of how far she's come in the last four months!

I turned Girlfriend out to let her roll and run around and she was so cute - she wasn't amped up as much as she has been so she just went out and cantered in her barrel patterns.  But what was even cuter was that Kelsey and I were standing at the arena gate and Girlfriend was watching us the whole time she was cantering in her figure-eights, as though to ask, "Are you watching me? You're watching, right?"  Then she cantered right up to me, did her little Western quick stop next to me, and lowered her head right under my face and waited for me to give her snuggles and kisses.  I really do have the cutest, snuggliest horses anyone could ever want!

I rushed off after the barn to the school to help my friend who is the art doscent.  That is a cute experience, watching all the different types of art the kids make.  I could never be a teacher thought because there are definitely kids I like and kids I don't like.  Most kids I like unless they're just not very bright.  Isn't that horrible?  There's one kid in the class who has a severe learning disability but I like him just fine.  He still can't read at all but they're working on it and I don't know what his diagnosis is but it's enough that he has and IEP and part-time special ed.  But I like him because despite whatever he's struggling with he's bright and creative.  Of course there are a couple jocks who already play football and are obsessed with it, but they are friendly and very smart about football.  There really are just two boys who bug me and they just aren't very bright and they clown around a lot - but not in cute funny ways, in obnoxious Beavis & Butthead ways, and they don't listen and they just bug me on a visceral level.  This of course makes me feel terribly guilty because they are just seven year old boys. And it's really just the one who really bugs me.  This is why I could not be a teacher.  How do teachers do it?  To be effective they can't possibly not like their students - at least at this age.  Maybe they're all just nicer, more relaxed people than me.

And on a completely different note, my boss has a lot of interesting friends.  One of them is a pepper farmer in Eastern WA who lives outside the Tri-Cities not too far from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.  He made some great homemade Habanero sauce and ghost pepper jelly and all sorts of stuff that he gave to my boss who then brought into the office.  Oddly, I seemed to be the only one that took a bunch of it home.  And the ghost pepper jelly was a hit (well, a hit with my friends from India, Nigeria and Laos ... not so much with the white people).  One of my friends keeps asking when she can get more ghost pepper jelly from Tom's friend so I asked Tom again last week if he could get more and we would pay for it.  Sadly, another one of Tom's interesting friends is Marco Kaltofen and all Tom had to say in answer to the ghost pepper jelly inquiry was "Yeah ... you probably don't want any more of that cause I sent it to Marco to be sampled."  That's all I needed to hear.  But of course, I asked anyway, and there was celenium in it.  So, after letting it glow in our refrigerator for awhile and making jokes about making the most un-P.C.-pepper spray I finally threw the last of the Habanero sauce away today.  And no, I did not dispose of it in the way I probably should've seeing as it is toxic waste.  I just tossed it in the trash.  Ssssshhhh ... don't tell anyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Then it would be decimal compliant ...

Back in September I was battling an annoying virus called Subacute Thyroiditis and dealing with the weird symptoms of hyperthyroidism.  Now the virus has finally passed but my thyroid has descended into hypOthyroidism.  I guess I should be honest with myself that the symptoms aren't as annoying.  In fact, I'd say that the only symptom I'm aware of is I've gained about five pounds (part of that may have been our time in N'awlins) and I'm cranky.  I was warned that crankiness is a symptom and I was hoping I would be spared (since I'm already kind of cranky) ... but no.  Sigh.  It's not really so much cranky as just "whiny" feeling.  I feel like everything is just so hard and annoying and I just want to tell everyone - including the kittens - to fuck off and leave me alone while I go lie in bed and not do anything.  I'll be glad when this passes, which they say will be in a couple months.  And if not then they'll put me on thyroid medicine. Gah.

Despite my messed up metabolism (and whatever else the thyroid controls) I am going to rally and go about my day.  Which this morning means heading out to the barn for training with Toad (which I don't even feel like doing ... now that IS weird!) then finishing unpacking and cleaning up the house.  And starting to pull out the Christmas decorations.  It is cheering me up to listen to cheesy Christmas carols this morning.  And I am happy that through href=""> Book Closeouts I now have all my Christmas shopping done for everyone (other than my daughter).  I just need to keep focusing on stuff that makes me feel good and stay away from irritating stuff.  I am going to be cut-throat about staying away from drama for the next couple months because I just can't deal with it right now.  Maybe that would be a good thing to do for my whole life though ... I've had a high tolerance for feeling bad for people and putting up with the drama that comes from being terribly fucked-up and unwilling to overcome that and maybe it's time I just said I'm done with that and if people aren't willing to take care of themselves it's not my problem.  Hmmm ... we'll see if my Protestant guilt will win out or my current inability to deal with irritation will win out.

Meanwhile, my cats seem to be puking a lot lately.  At least they are not trying to eat it like was going on a few months ago when the kittens were younger.  I think the old cat puked a lot while we were gone because he was upset.  He seems to be ok now that we've been back in town the last couple days. One of the kittens puked all over the downstairs this morning which would've worried me, but in the last bout of puking a piece of spider plant came up - so I'm hoping that was the culprit.  My daughter was worried as she left for the bus though and was saying she thought I needed to take her to the vet.  We'll see if she's better now that she's no longer trying to digest our spider plant.  I'm trying to be sympathetic as opposed to annoyed I've had to clean up so much puke.

It was really great to see my horses day before yesterday.  I was so worried that Toadie was going to love Trainer K. more than me now because I'd been gone so long but when I brought her out and put her in the cross ties she kept leaning her head on me and pressing her nose against my chest and letting out huge sighs.  And when I'd rub her neck she'd lean her head into me and not want to take it away.  So, I think she did miss me and is glad to see me. 

While she was in the cross ties though a new horse came in and walked down the hall right in front of her and freaked her out so badly that it wasn't worth riding her because she just stayed freaked out all morning.  The new horse is named Zeke and he's staying at the barn for a few months to be close to his owner (who lives right around the corner) because he has a bad foot injury and the stable where he's boarded is too far away for the owner to be out there all the time.  Zeke is an amazing and beautiful Belgian - which is a draft horse.  Which means he is 18 hands tall - that means that his withers (or shoulders) are 6 feet 1 inches tall.  So when he raises his head his head is 7 feet high.  And his hooves are literally as big as my head.  He's gorgeous and extremely sweet and teddy-bear like, but Toadie had never seen a horse that big before and was quite discombobulated by him.  Hopefully, she's over it today.

So, the subject line ... I was feeling brain-dead and uncommunicative first thing this morning and my daughter kept asking questions like "What if Hanukkah had seven days?" "What if Hanukkah had one day?" and finally she asked, "What if Hanukkah had ten days?" and my husband answered, "Then it would be decimal compliant."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We're home and it's cold.

I can't say that I wasn't disappointed to leave New Orleans yesterday.  We got up at 4am their time (so 2am our time) to go to the airport to catch our first flight to Houston. It's good that we left so early because it was so crowded that we got our gate as they were starting to board our flight.  Both flights were pretty easy and quiet - no barking dogs or yelling assholes or Jerry Springer type fights.  But we were all really tired.  The flight from Houston to Seattle was a bit over four hours so keep myself from wallowing in "I'm so tired and going back to a cold place" self-pity I paid the exorbitant fee to watch t.v. and watched dumb, but funny shows like The Big Bang Theory and did mosaic crafts with my daughter.  And drank bad airplane coffee.  And talked to the couple in front of us who are Pentecostal children's ministers in rural Alaska and were actually quite charming.

Back home it is cold and gray and good God but our old cat can puke and have the runs and miss the litter box a lot while we're gone.  Sigh.  I spent a lot of time going around the house and cleaning it all up and using up over half a bottle of orange enzyme odor remover in the process.  Our cat sitters kept them fed and their litter boxes cleaned but it was too much to ask that they go into each corner of each room to check for cat puke. 

I tried to get it together and go out and see my horses in the afternoon but I had my obligatory travel-headache and we got home at 2pm (Pacific time) which was exactly 12 hours after we'd woken up.  So, my daughter and I took a nap (or I dozed and tried to nap but my head hurt too much) and I didn't do much of anything. So, this morning I'm going out to see them and I'm hoping they haven't forgotten about me.

I do wish I could move all my good friends, Trainer K. and my daughter's awesome school down to Mandeville, LA.  Or even Covington or Madisonville.  I told my husband if we ever "come into money" (like half a million or more) I want to move to the Northsore of Lake Pontchatrain.  Since there really aren't any jobs out there for him, especially not on the Northshore (there *might* be a job for him in the city but I don't want to live downtown or Metairie and he doesn't want to commute across the Causeway ... people think commuting across the 520 bridge here is bad ... imagine that bridge only literally twenty times longer!) ... anyway, since there aren't any jobs for him we'd have to come into money to buy a house for cash and then I could work part-time and he could do art.  But since the chances of that happening are pretty much slim to none I think we're here for the longhaul in the Northwest.  And once it snows I'm sure I will forget all about my homesickness for N'awlins.

Et toi!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Finally some time ... semi-alone

We've been in New Orleans all week and I've been really enjoying seeing my in-law family, but this morning I am grateful for some time to be alone - or at least alone with my husband and daughter which is just as relaxing as being alone.  Another cousin and her teenage kids (who is in town from Houston) wanted to meet us for breakfast and I was working on convincing my husband I needed to bow out or I would be too drained.  Luckily, the teens wanted to sleep in.  Don't get me wrong - I adore his family - I just need time alone to recharge.  The only folks that stress me out are his parents but part of that is his mother has never liked me because I'm not the girl she envisioned for him (ie: Southern!!! Blond, quiet, demure, skinny as a rail, and without tattoos and without a keen eye for bullshit and a mouth to match).

What's funny is that all the cousins are so much like me that I fit in like I'm a blood relative.  I also love his sister and her husband (more than just because I have to because we're related!) At Thanksgiving I spent a good portion of the time with all the women out on the back porch and my husband said he walked by the big window out to the porch and said it looked like I was "holding court".  We had so much fun!  His cousin, Darra was even telling me I need to have less of a filter and just "say it like it is" which made me laugh because that's a part of me I'm always trying to rein in at family functions!

On Thanksgiving, cousin Don gave me a quick run down on how football is played.  He was a little shocked at how much I didn't know.  I found it all very interesting and realized it is like a battle and that the two teams are soldiers creating strategies against each other, and I thought that was fascinating. It was of course the LSU game (the Saints).  But after awhile I said, "It's so slow though. There's a burst of activity then everyone stands around.  I'm used to fast moving and continuous action like basketball.  I'm not sure I could handle something so slow." To which I surprised by how defensive Don sounded when he said, "Maybe you should give it more than a few minutes to decide!"  Don is one of our most progressive, Metrosexual relatives who long ago moved to WA DC.  I thought it was cute that he was so true to the obsessive past-time of N'awlins. 

Yesterday I went over to Gina's house to spend time with her family. Her husband is my husband's cousin and they have two daughters about my daughter's age.  My husband stayed back at the hotel to try and get some work done (and he was drained too) until I went and picked him up to go to lunch with all of us.  Gina is a music teacher, paints and also sews really well, the latter I know nothing about.  We get along great, as do the girls and at one point I said, "I really wish we could've moved to Mandeville or Covington when we sold our house." And she said, "That is just weird to hear you say! I've never heard anyone from the West Coast say they wished they lived in Louisiana!"  I admit, a part of it is just having family down here I really like.  And the sun all year around.  And the amazing food and the amazing music.  But there's more to it.

People say "I can really be myself on the West Coast.  I can be whoever I want to be." Well, if you are a liberal, or gay, yes you can be more yourself than a lot of places.   And I do fine because I am liberal (although not as liberal as the average Seattleite ... I never have been *that* liberal even though with my conservative family I thought I was super liberal - my dad was the only liberal one when I was growing up and we never talked).   In our old neighborhood there wasn't a lot of room to have conflicting views.   I remember one elderly woman put up a McCain sign in her yard on our block in our old neighborhood during the last election and it got torn down and broken within a week.  I got a real message over the years that you can "be whoever you want to be as long as it fits the popular agenda" - sounds a lot like people complain about from the Right Wing too.

I don't want to live in Metairie though.  It looks very much like suburbs of big cities all of the South but it's too different than what I'm used to.  Plus, I need lots of woods and wild animals wandering around my yard.  Darra is putting her house up for sale one of these days and I could live there - except that they have an HOA that says you can't own horses on your property.  But in reality I don't want to leave all my awesome friends in Woodinville or my daughter's awesome school.  I wish I could move them all down here where it's sunny all year long though.

It was validating when I was talking to my sister-in-law though, when I was telling her about the culture in our old downtown neighborhood and the "social rules" among the moms, about how strict and  fundie liberal one has to be to fit in.  The whole psuedo-science thing came up ... like no matter how many times you present scientific evidence that vaccines are safer than no vaccines the argument comes back as "those scientific studies are backed by big pharmaceutical and the real truth is in bizarre websites you find on the internet and with that scientist who was arrested for falsifying data because he is so much more trustworthy than other scientists because he was framed!"  Oh ... and now is a good time to use the word "quantum" again.  Anyway, it was validating that my sister-in-law (who has lived all over the East Coast and went to college in NYC so she's not what people would blow-off as "typical Southern") rolled her eyes and said, "That would drive me crazy! I don't know how you live there!" I don't anymore - the rural suburbs is a lot different and a lot easier.

I don't have the same politics as most of in-laws down here (except Gina's family and Don) but they don't seem to care at all which is nice.  It frustrates me when my fellow-liberals tell me I'm uneducated or worse "a fascist" when I don't agree with them.  It's very Glenn Beck of them.  Luckily, down here politics seems less a hot-button topic, at least with the folks we know.  And they just tease me and say "Oh, we'll make a conservative out of you, yet" and that's about it.

A lot of me talking so much about this stuff is that I feel like I'm coming out of my own state of being a fundamentalist about my views.  I remember ten years ago when even though I didn't have as left-wing of a views as many of my friends, I still thought if you were a Republican you were evil.   I also assumed that if you lived in the South you were way less progressive.  Even two years ago I was talking to Darra and she was talking about teaching yoga and I said, "You have yoga classes out here in rural Louisiana?" and she said, "Yes, and we have a Vegan restaurant, too." I looked shocked and she said, "You need to get off the West Coast more often.  The rest of the world is not totally backward compared to you."  That was pretty eye opening for me.

Meanwhile, I totally miss my pets.  I keep wanting to call the kennel and find out how the pitbull is doing.  And I miss the kittens when I wake up in the morning and there aren't any little bouncing, purring bundles jumping on me.  And I miss my horses so much that last night all my dreams were about horses.  Only they were about horses running away and people not letting me help catch them and me being kept away from them for various reasons.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

N'awlins ... how do I love thee, let me count the ways

You know, I may not be so enamored with the Deep South as I am with the sun.  After freezing my toes at the barn last week, we got into New Orleans late Monday night and as soon as we left the airport we were hit with warm, humid air, like being in a sauna that wasn't turned up all the way.  Tuesday morning we got up to 80 degree weather and our daughter spent the whole morning at the pool with some kids her age she met from the hotel.  Don't get me wrong, I still don't enjoy being directly in the sun, I just enjoy seeing it.  I like to be in the shade with the sun next to me.  Actually being in the direct sun makes me feel bad pretty quickly for some reason.  I may be part vampire.  And since it has been established during my riding lessons with Toad that I may also be part thoroughbred (because I understand Toad so well, but I am also high-strung and when inundated with too much information all at once my mind tends to shut down ... something trainers call "a thoroughbred moment") ... anyway, it appears that I am actually a "vampire thoroughbred".  Which would fit in just fine in New Orleans.

Since we were tired from getting in late - and a long day of traveling on Monday - Tuesday was our day to not do much and also for me and my husband to catch up on some work that we hadn't finished before we left.  Luckily, I was able to finish mine, get it emailed to my boss, get his changes, give my approval on them and now I'm done.  My husband is not so lucky and still has some code left to write on his project.  Poor guy.  In the afternoon we went out shopping for a birthday present for our nephew who just turned two and to pick up some dinner and some groceries to have around the hotel.  Whole Foods deli section is a totally different experience down here.  For dinner we had jambalaya, chicken/andouille sausage gumbo (to rival my mom-in-law's) chicken and dumpling soup and jalapeno corn bread.  They also had lobster bisque, squash bisque, shrimp ettouffee and crab scampi. Wow.   We also found a good local radio station which is good because I left our iPod adapter at home on accident.

My husband does not understand why I like it down here so much.  Or maybe he understands it but doesn't believe I would like living here.  And I wouldn't like living in New Orleans proper because I'm not a big-city girl (obviously!) and the crime is much worse than in Seattle.  Although if you look at the latest crime statistics Seattle is actually getting up there.  The crime rate is now higher than New York City and Los Angeles and rivaling Chicago.  Of course, that could be because the general attitude in Seattle seems to have become feeling sorry for and giving big hugs to criminals is the thing to do.  But at the same time don't talk about being Christian because that is not politically correct - which I at least tend to equate being super-soft on crime and letting people walk all over you being an outcropping of misunderstanding Christianity.  But then Seattle culture no longer makes sense to me.

I think that a lot of what my husband doesn't like down here that he thinks would bother me is the racism.  But after growing up in Seattle I actually find people being open about being racist easier to deal with than the closed-door-racism (and hypocrisy regarding racism) in the Pacific NW.  Plus, Seattle is so segregated!  It's always a bit of a shock to come down here and realize once again how incredibly segregated Seattle is.  Where we currently live is kind of like a weird little pocket of many different ethnic groups but it is still all white Americans and many immigrants from all over.  So, that to me is a huge relief to be in a area that is not so segregated.

I do love where we live right now though and I love my new friends and neighbors.  I just really like the sun, the music, the food, the culture being so much more laid back down here in New Orleans.  Even thought I don't drink I am amused to no end how you can buy a daiquiri at the zoo and get a to-go cup for your drink if you haven't finished it.  Although, I imagine living down here that might irritate me after awhile.  But I wouldn't live in the city - I would live in Mandeville or Covington.  I also wouldn't live in Metairie where we are right now because it's not "pretty" enough.  And actually Metairie feels too much like a city for me too even though technically it's the suburbs.  I need to be in the rural suburbs where neighbors have cows and horses and you see coyote in your back yard.

Although, my sister-in-law's house is really nice and they are really close to a big park.  Plus, I just adore her and her family.  My parents-in-law are ... difficult at best.  But they seem a lot more relaxed this trip and I think it is because they are finally selling their house in Charlotte, NC and moving back here which I think will end up being incredibly good for them.

I need to get off my butt and go work out before we head out to Covington, LA for Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm hoping Cousin Darra's friend, Ellie is there again this year.  She has a wildlife sanctuary on her land and rehabilitates hurt wild animals and is so incredibly cool.  She lives around the corner from Darra and we got to go see some of her animals when we were here two years ago.  And Saturday we get to go to Cousin Debbie's who lives in the swamp and my daughter is very impressed that you can go out onto the docks in their back yard and see gators.

Of course, the only other thing that would make this vacation perfect is if all our pets were down here.  I miss our kittens, the pitbull and the horses - especially Toadie because we've been coming so far in our work together.  Sigh.  Trainer K. texted and said it's so nasty outside Toad hasn't been out to pasture in four days but that "Toad hasn't killed her yet so things must be going ok".

Here's a little test to see how well you'd survive down here.  Can you find the gator in this photo?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cold feet just at the thought

It was 26 degrees and has warmed up to 28 degrees.  I need to get it together and go out to the barn and my feet are cold just thinking about it.  I heard about these things called "foot warmers" that you can put in your boots so I'm thinking I may go check them out because two pairs of wool socks just aren't cutting it when I'm out for hours and it's this cold. Especially because my riding boots aren't insulated. It'd be ok if I was wearing my big insulated waterproof boots from REI but I can't ride well in those.

And no, I'm not at all excited to go on vacation tomorrow.  My poor husband is so "Pacific Northwest" and I am totally enamored with his N'awlins culture.  Plus, I was kind of excited but a little nervous about our trip until I talked to his cousin, Debbie last night and she was telling me how excited her daughter is to see our daughter and about how her daughter's new thing is wakeboarding and she's taking class with the second top wakeboarder in the nation.  And hearing about the rest of the family and everything they're up to and how everyone is happy we're coming down, it just started getting me psyched to go.  Plus, have I mentioned that I LOVE New Orleans? Well, I wouldn't live in the city itself, but I would love to live in the suburbs or in a rural area outside.  Actually, I had my heart set on moving the family to Mandeville, LA but my husband wouldn't go for it.  Probably for the best because I do love our neighborhood and school here and all our friends.  But it is fun to visit at least.

I'm a little concerned about being away from the pets for so long.  And day before yesterday I had my first ride with The Toad where I felt confident and comfortable like we are a team and are starting to trust each other.  Every time I've ridden her I've been very nervous that if she doesn't act really well then I won't be able to handle it.  Friday was the first day I really found myself feeling confident and like I could handle her and take care of her, instead of her having to take care of me.  That was pretty awesome!

Ok, I need to rally and start putting on many layers of clothes and head out to the barn to make sure the horses have all their supplements to last while we're gone. And come back and write out detailed instructions for our housesitter taking care of the cats, and upload audiobooks onto our iPods for the travling part, and make sure my daughter packs appropriate clothes and doesn't forget things like underwear or packs all shirts but no pants (which has happened before).  Yikes. Much to do.

Friday, November 18, 2011


This is my current favorite song.  At least for today.  Even though in the video the lead singer looks like a sheltered doughboy whose ass I could kick, which is always a turn-off for me.  Geez.  I really am a sweet person, I swear.  I probably should not let those thoughts out in public. Sigh.

One of my long running favorite musicians is Trombone Shorty a kid from New Orleans.  I was hoping he'd be in town when we're there but no such luck because he's too big.  He'll be touring around WA DC while we're in New Orleans.  When we were there in 2004 I heard him on a local radio station and he was playing at a club in Treme but it was the night we were flying out.  Bah.  Instead since he's not in town I'm hoping to go see these guys while I'm down there because they look fun.  And it's all-ages so my daughter might actually like to go with us.  Oh, who am I kidding.  Everything is all ages down there.  You can even take kids into pubs as long as you don't buy them alcohol.

I know it comes as irony for someone who is so pro-vaccine, and for someone who knows a lot about vaccines and their history and the reality behind much of the urban legends and propaganda ... but I am afraid to get the flu shot.  The only reason I am is because of the horror stories I'd heard years ago from people about how they got a flu shot and got desperately sick.  I realize intellectually that they may have gotten the flu shot AND gotten desperately sick but that the two were not actually connected.  It is impossible to get sick like that from a dead virus unless you are allergic to some part of the vaccination formula.  Which I'm not because I've had all the vaccines one can have (that are dead, with my compromised immune system I can't have live vaccines) and never had a problem.  I've even had the flu shot in the last few years because my rheumatologist insists on it.  In fact I'm supposed to get a pneumonia vaccine too, which is weird because I thought pneumonia was a secondary bacterial infection.  I need to look that up.  Anyway, I went out and got my flu shot this morning because I've been putting it off and figure I should get it before hopping on an airplane for a full day.   And as always, I practically stopped breathing and made myself woozy.  It's not the shot, it's the fear of bizarre side effects.  Totally irrational.  And ironic because I will lecture a new mom's ear off if she starts talking about not vaccinating her kids out of fear of autism.

The weather report for our area says it's supposed to snow today and tomorrow but so far I haven't seen any indications of it.  I just keep watching the weather to make sure it doesn't snow on Monday because SeaTac Airport is notorious for shutting down with just a bit of snow.  Plus, I don't trust driver's on I-405 in the snow/ice.  Too many Californians in their Hummers thinking that they can drive like dumbasses with their 4 wheel drives, not realizing that all 4 wheel drive means is that when they skid out and crash all four wheels will be spinning independently right before they careen across the patch of ice.  Meanwhile, down in Gulf Coast Louisana they are expecting high in the upper 70's and thunderstorms.  I could ask for no better weather for New Orleans in fall!  Except when we have to cross the Causeway which freaks me out because it's just so wrong to drive out onto a bridge where you can't see the other side.   I should probably try to change my attitude and think of it as "cool" as opposed to "creepy".

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I really need to stop reading the news for awhile

I need to stop reading the news because not only does the actual content irritate me, but so does the presentation and exploitation of manipulation of facts in order to try and get people riled up.  We're going on vacation in a few days so I may make that my news-fast time.  Otherwise I just get really irritated.  And of course the whole Occupy thing is really irritating me.  My work just got our major government grant that we survive on cut because of enormous budget shortfalls this week.  The place I work is a major player in fighting to achieve the goals that the Occupiers claim they want (and we actually are working toward change as opposed to camping out downtown and demanding that other people come up with solutions and do the dirty work).  So, here are these people camping out at SCC Campus, using up thousands of dollars in the city's money to pay for cops (to remind them to be respectful of others - which is not their strong suit ... they demand we all respect and let them do whatever but god forbid they respect anyone else) and the city cleans up after their messes - and the money to go to organizations who are doing the work FOR the Occupiers are losing their government funding.  I know it's not a direct result of the Occupiers, but still, they are wasting resources that could go toward something production - something that would actually help their cause.  In my opinion they are actually hurting their cause.   They are such bozos.  I finally realized how to define myself politically:  I am a liberal, not a bozo.  There is a difference.

Anyhoo.  Let's see if somewhere deep down inside I can rustle up something non-cranky.  This song makes me very happy. It is one of my favorites. And I never get tired of this band.

Girlfriend is doing better.  In fact on Sunday I put her out in the arena thinking she might want to roll, and before I had even unsnapped the lead rope she was bouncing around and trying to run off.  As soon as I unsnapped it she whirled around and started galloping around the arena, bucking all over the place.  Then she started running her barrel patterns.  She was running so fast without warming up her old lady muscles that she skidded out and biffed on one term.  But she let out a snort and jumped right up and started galloping again.  It's good to see my old girl so energetic and feeling so well.  I think the Cushings medication is having an effect because although she's had energy, it hasn't been that much.  That's the kind of energy she had four years ago.  It gives me hope that even at 27 she has a few good years left in her.

Toad was really wound up on Sunday but she was super lazy today.  It was my first time lunging her with a bridle on (Trainer K. suggested I start doing that) and I was pretty worried about hurting her mouth.  I'll need to ask a lot more questions at her training tomorrow.  I didn't feel like I was bothering her during the actual lunging, but I wasn't sure.  And I had a lot of concerns that I was pulling and yanking the bit around too much when I was attaching the lunge rope to it.  She didn't act like I was hurting her, but when she knows she's supposed to be working she gets that attitude that she has to be obedient (which is good) but I don't want to be hurting her on accident and her not letting me know.  I guess if it was too bad she's let me know.  And my bruise - which is now almost two weeks old and still taking up a big portion of my thigh - is a reminder.  A big, green, red, purple reminder.

The last couple weeks I've noticed that my neighbors the llamas are gone.  I find this oddly distressing.   Actually, all the animals appear to be gone including the emu and the long-horned steer.  I don't know if they're just in a different pasture in the back of the property or what but I am bummed that I don't see the llama anymore when I head out to leave the neighborhood.  Meanwhile, up the street the other direction, one of the big fancy colonial houses with their pristine pasture with fancy electric fences stopped having horses in their pasture one day.  Then a couple weeks ago a couple cows showed up.  They look a little out of place on such a nice equestrian property.

My campaign to get chickens again seems to have failed enough that I'm going to give up on it.  And since the city has been pissy about letting us have our community garden on the land that the HOA owns (so really ... the city should have no say ... grumble ...) I imagine the city would really throw a hissy fit if we went ahead and put a community chicken coop back there.  But hey, we voted out a couple of really annoying incumbents on the city council the last election so maybe that won't be an issue anymore.  That would be nice.  Although it is a moot point until March at this rate, now that it's so dang cold out.  I have a couple potted plants I either need to get in the ground this weekend or bring them into the garage for a few months.  And it's possibly going to snow this weekend so that may not happen.

And we're going on vacation.  Of course, we're going to see the in-laws so that is always a crapshoot on whether or not it is traumatic or relaxing.  But we're going to see the in-laws in New Orleans so that is a huge mega-bonus.  Experience has shown me that New Orleans locals (ie: my in-laws) are all crazy, but they also have the best Cajun accents and the Best.Food.Ever and their craziness is at least fun craziness.  Oh yes, and Best.Music.Ever.  Ya'll can be thinking of me on Thanksgiving when we're having a Cajun Thanksgiving meal.  Hot pepper jelly and everything crab-this and crawfish that and everything covered in red pepper and paprika - not to mention you must have the Holy Trinity: celery, onion and peppers.

And I just like the idea of not having to work.  Well, not really having to work.  Hopefully, not having to work.  Because of the loss of our big grant at work no one is allowed to write any checks without calling me and getting my O.K.  So, I will inevitably get a couple work calls.  But I will also be drinking sweet tea and wearing short sleeves in the 70 degree weather and eating jumbalaya and gumbo and "live" boiled crawfish while deciding if I'm going to give them the O.K. or not.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Don't let's go to the dogs

I'm surprised that I've become that person who anxiously watches the results of our election on school board officials. But with my daughter in second grade now these things are important to me now.  There was a big one this election because one of the candidates wants to save money by closing at least one grade school, and since my daughter's (incredibly awesome) grade school is the one full of poor families and immigrant families it is always the first on the chopping block. Even though it is fully enrolled (with a waiting list) and has won awards.  But we live in a wealthy area (well, like being next door to the woods we are next door to the wealth) so they would never dream of trying to close the wealthy schools even though they have not won any awards recently and both are under enrolled.  It sounds crazy and like one of those "How can they do that?" things, but it is true. Anyway, the one who wanted to close schools has lost.  Yay!  I'm also anxiously awaiting results on the city council positions but they haven't been published so far.  These things matter more in a small town.  In Seattle when the city council was stupid it would just be awash in the crowdedness of a city that grew too fast and is bursting at the seams anyway.

This cold I have seems to be getting nastier by the day which is disconcerting.  Last night I could barely sleep because I kept coughing.  Not the tickle in one's throat cough but a "I can't breathe through this junk in my chest" cough.  Just as I'm trying to cut down on chemicals that I put in my body ... and cold medicine includes chemicals.  I'm thinking of going back to my old ways and just loading up on as much cold medicine as I can until this goes away. Bah.  The whole natural approach of saline rinse and humidifier during the night is not cutting it.

So dogs.  When we lived in Seattle we had one neighbor so phobic of our pitbull that her kids were not allowed to play anywhere near our house.  Here there are more people who are phobic of our pitbull but they seem to understand that they have a phobia - not that I have a vicious kid-eating dog.  My neighbor V.D. (who is from India - I've noticed most of my friends from India are scared of dogs) is terrified of the pitbull and said he has no desire to get over his phobia, but when I said, "Well, let me tell you a little bit about how to tell what a dog is thinking," he actually said that helped a lot - even if he still doesn't want to be around our dog.

My friend, D. is phobic of dogs too but has been showing signs of wanting to get past it.  She's from Nigeria but unlike my friend Laud who is from a neighboring country, Ghana, people in her life had pet dogs. Laud said in his area of Accra where he grew up people didn't have pet dogs unless they had pitbulls for attack dogs.  And they especially didn't let the dogs live in inside, let alone let them sleep under the comforter in their beds.  As Laud said, "You white people do weird things with your dogs." But D. said people had dogs, and the problem for her is that a family friend's dog attacked and bit her dad when she was a little girl.  She said it was a dog everyone knew and it just freaked out.  I explained that if you knew how to read dogs, there would be signs that the dog had the capacity to attack a human supposed unprovoked.  Because dogs, like people, don't just "snap" and become vicious.  That's like saying that because my good friend's husband seemed nice until suddenly it came out how horribly abuse he is, that he just snapped and became abusive.  But as the whole story comes out I'm seeing signs of abuse that were hidden from our little group of friends all along.  So just because my friend's husband is incredibly abusive doesn't mean that any day my husband is suddenly going to become abusive.  Especially because in our 16 years together he has not shown signs of being abusive.  It is the same way with dogs.  Our pitbull is not suddenly going to turn human-aggressive and snap.

Through all this I'm realizing that the best cure for a phobia for dogs is probably education *before* exposure.  I had a terrible phobia of spiders when I was younger and come to think of it the first thing I did to get over my phobia was start learning about spiders.  I now know way more than a non-entomologist should know about spiders.  But I wanted to learn which ones were safe and which ones weren't before I started exposing myself to them.  I'm wondering if I should start a little program for my neighbors on understanding dogs and reading their body language in order to help them get over their fears.  But then as I'm thinking about that I wonder if I would be able to teach them that because it's not something I consciously think about.  A lot like when I'm riding Girlfriend and someone says "How do you get her to stay so calm and walk so quietly because when I get on her she bolts."  I really don't have an answer for that because I'm not consciously doing anything, it's something that I learned by trial and error over the last four years and now do without thinking about it.  Since I've been around dogs since I came home from the hospital when I was about three days old, I think a lot of my reading them is just from growing up with them.

challenge for myself over the next few weeks (if I have time ...) is to attempt to write out how I can tell what dogs are feeling or doing.  Sometimes I just know though so I need to explore that further.  For instance I can tell that my dog is agitated by the way she holds her body and where her ears are and how she is moving, but knowing *why* she is agitated is a little harder to explain.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lightness has a call that's hard to hear

There was talk last night of setting up an intervention for Trainer V.  But I don't think anyone is really going to do it.  I'm not sure what the statistics are, but I'm pretty sure that interventions are not hugely successful.  If someone wants to destroy their life it's pretty hard to stop them.  I don't understand.  Even though I went through a phase when I was young of blaming everyone else and not wanting to take responsibility, I burned out on it pretty fast.  It's just not fun being miserable.  And I have a low tolerance for the embarrassment of being in constant dramatic crisis like one's life is when it's always "someone else's fault".

On a different note, I've been learning a lot about people living with disabilities since we moved to our new neighborhood.  There are two kids on the block with autism (brothers - one is higher functioning than the other but has ADD), one kid with FOP (a cruel, cruel disability) and our next door neighbor's adult daughter who has agenises of the corpus callosum (yes, that sounded overwhelming when I first heard it too).  I was out today with the latter neighbor, her daughter and my daughter and it just seemed like a routine trip to me.  Her daughter was being her usual emotive self and I find that very endearing (albeit a little exhausting because she feels the need to talk in a stream of conscious constantly which I'm not sure why ... I think it's her way of connecting to people close to her in the only way she can).  We were doing our thing and in *my world* we did not stand out at all. But I noticed when we were at the check-out stand a woman who'd been in the store with us at the same time was staring at us (me and my friend's daughter specifically, who at that moment was hanging on my arm). She had this almost rageful look on her face like she truly hated us and it shocked me so much that I just stared back at her.   She apparently didn't notice and just continued to stare at my neighbor's daughter with this awful scowl and it was all I could do not to walk over and slap that scowl right off her face!

It probably didn't help that as we were leaving I told my neighbor she could sell the purse she made for at least $100 and if she were really motivated she could start a sweatshop in her basement and I'd be her first slave.  But hey, if that woman is going to give us nasty looks, might as well say something off-color to make her feel justified for glaring at a disabled girl who just wants to love everyone.  I didn't say anything to my neighbor (the mom) about it because I'm pretty sure that she is all too aware of that stuff and has been for the last twenty-five years. 

Well, I'm glad that autism and other mental-function disabilities seem normal to me now.  And I'm extremely glad that those disabilities seem normal to my daughter.  Just like how it's normal to her that a lot of kids at her school speak English as a second language and a lot of their parents didn't grow up in this country.

In horse related news, I went with Trainer K. up to a feed store in Snohomish today and spent a very long time going over senior grains for Girlfriend.  One needs to have a degree in nutrition and veterinary medicine to own a senior horse it seems.  Girlfriend was recently diagnosed with a disease called Cushings, which didn't really surprise me because she is so old.  But between having trouble keeping weight on her now that she's so old, and having to watch her diet because of the Cushings, feeding her is becoming an exact science.

And Toad ... sigh ... the Toad.  Toad kicked me yesterday in what may have been the first time in my life I've ever been kicked by a horse.  Of all the riding lessons I took as a kid and all the summers I spent with my best friend and her two horses one would think at some point I got kicked but I don't remember if I did.  I also don't remember being stomped on although you would think I had been.  I remember falling off, two specific times especially - one into the poles going over a jump and one time when the horse I was riding during a schooling show was cantering and spooked and threw me into the arena wall.  But I honestly can not remember ever being kicked.  So, way to go, Toadie. First horse ever to kick me.  Grumble.

I was brushing the mud off of her belly with a curry-glove and I was not paying attention to the cues that it was bothering her and she just lifted her back leg and kicked forward and got me right in the thigh right above my knee.  It didn't hurt that much so it was obvious she was just trying to nudge me away, but a nudge from the back leg of a half-ton creature hurts really bad if you're small and human.  So, now I have a big, hoof size bruise on the inside of my thigh with a blood blister above that.  It looks impressive, but it's actually a surface bruise and thankfully it didn't hurt that much. It was sore all day when I'd walk, but it wasn't that knock-you-down-speechless pain like when Sinatra stomped on my toe and the toe itself turned black.  Or labor with pitocin when I had my daughter.  Yeah, that was pretty bad.

I need to be much more aware when I'm doing something with her that she is uncomfortable about so that she doesn't get any ideas that kicking (or biting) is a way to deal with setting boundaries with me.  I think she learned her lesson yesterday just by knowing what she did was wrong.  She jumped off to the side so fast after she kicked me that when I swung my arm to hit her she was already out of reach.  I went to move toward her to hit her and Trainer K. said, "Come forward! Come forward! Get away from her back end!" and by then she'd backed up away from me again.  But by then she was hanging her head looking like she thought the world was going to end so I figured she was punishing herself enough.  Trainer K. pointed out it is not the discipline action that matters as much as that the horse knows when she has done something truly wrong (like kick someone).  And Toadie knew.  She hung her head like that for a good ten minutes, looking at me with these tragic eyes because she just knew I was going to sell her off to some breeding farm and be done with her.  Finally I couldn't stand it anymore and gave her a big hug around her neck and she pushed her head down onto my chest and just held it there and let out big sighs.

I can't help but question my choice of hobbies.  But then my other choice of hobby before I got Girlfriend four years ago was to join the Rat City Roller Girls roller derby team.  So, there ya go. This is probably safer for me.  And I need something that will get me out getting exercise and lot of adrenaline pumping.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good wives, bad iPhones, signs of kitten activity and ends of eras.

This morning my daughter announced that she wanted to walk to the school bus stop alone. I said I needed to talk to my neighbor, Preetha so I wanted to walk up with her and my daughter rolled her eyes and said, "You could just call her."  Sigh. Fine.  So, I told her I'd sit on the front porch and watch her and she cheerfully said, "Bye, Mom!" and took off, only looking back once to give me a "Go inside already!" look.  I have to admit, watching her walk off alone like that kind of made me tear up a little.  I am so not ready to have my little buddy who's joined to me at my hip grow up.  Maybe I'll be ready when she's a teenager but right now I just want her to live with me forever and continue to just be her awesome self in my house and immersed in my life.

For a couple years now I've been bugging my husband that we should get smart phones or iPhones.  I would've gotten one by myself but I wanted us to get a family plan together.  He said he wanted to but he kept saying there were things he wanted to wait for - such as Verizon supporting iPhones, then new versions of the iPhone coming out, etc.  The catalyst was a month or so ago when we were carpooling downtown to work and we were parked on I-5 in the HOV lane of the express lanes. My husband said, "I wish I had a magical device that I could just pick up right here and check to see what is going on up ahead." And I said, "We're finally going to get iPhones, aren't we?"

We ordered the new iPhone 4s and they arrived day before yesterday so yesterday I tried to set mine up.  My husband got himself a black one and a white one for me.  Which is kind of weird cause who was the goth in her youth in this relationship? Anyway ... I got it set up and everything was working fine except if I called someone I could hear them just fine but they could not hear me.  And no the "mute" button was not pressed.  I spent way too much time trying to fix it myself and even called the phone tech support which was completely useless (the guy actually asked me after I explained the problem "Are you calling me on the device right now?" to which I said, "Um ... you couldn't hear me if I was ..."  I did not say "duh" cause I'm a grown-up but I felt like it).  It took about twenty minutes for him to go over a lot of stuff I'd already thought of like "Is the mute button pressed down?" "Is there a cover on it covering the microphone?" "Is it plugged in? Is it turned on? Are aliens coming out of your butt?" Finally after he walked me through (very slowly) how to reboot it, and I finally said, "Are you telling me how to reboot it because I already did that." He said,  "I can't help you, you need to take it in to the Apple store." Wow. What a waste of twenty minutes.  We took it in to the Apple store and they graciously replaced it with one that works saying that they'd found that is a common problem in these new iPhones.  Lesson learned - don't wait two years for the perfect iPhone because all technology has problems and waiting for technology that doesn't achieves only ... well ... waiting.

The kittens, now six months old, have become teenagers and are acting as such.  Nermal has developed a taste for bread so we have to make sure all bread products are in the pantry or else we'll come home to shredded plastic bags and crumbs and scraps of bread product all over the floor.  They also think that everything is their toy so the playroom and my daughter's room must have the doors shut at all times.  Despite that, I occassionally find one of my daughter's toys sitting next to the litter box or the cat food dish.  Not because she dropped it there but because the kittens play with them, then leave them there to use the litter box, eat, or drink water.  This morning there was a tiny ghost eraser in front of the litter box.

I've been thinking the last couple days about what it means to be a "good wife".  That phrase - at least in my world - holds some really negative conatations.  Unlike a "good husband" which seems to be a positive thing, a "good wife" is a bad thing, showing that a person is oppressed and unwilling to think for herself.   Kind of like I know so many people who think the word "God" symbolizes oppression.  In fact in my search for a new church I looked at a website for a local Unitarian church that assured visitors that they would not be forced to hear the word "God" at church.  I thought that was sad.  To treat people like they are such huge victims that they can't even use a common, easy, one-syllable word.  You may notice that I am really big on not "thinking like a victim" these days. Which is pissing some people off.  Especially where Occupy Wall Street is concerned.  My whole idea that the people (the 99%) need to become empowered and make our own change instead of wasting our time wishing the 1% in power would change has really been pissing people off.  But none of us can change anyone but ourselves and if we don't want 1% of the population to be in power we need to take that power back.  Just letting them stay in power and hoping they'll do good does nothing to change the skewed power dynamic, but supporters of Occupy Wall Street get so angry when I point that out and say they shouldn't have to do anything because it's not their fault and it's not fair.  Well, duh.  But life's not fair.  And those who abuse power are not going to stop abusing power until you take that power away from them.  But apparently, that concept is pissing off a lot of people and I just don't get it.

I've segued again.  So, for the last year or so I've been trying really hard to be a good wife.  And I am finding that I am much happier and I think my husband is a bit happier.  It only seems fair because he tries hard to be a good husband.  But if I say that sentence "I've been focusing on being a good wife" to a large majority of my friends I get this look like "Have you given up on your own needs? Have you given up all that women have fought for?"  No, let me rephrase it so it sounds better.  "I'm working very hard on being the best friend I can be to my husband." There - that sounds better, doesn't it? When did "wife" become a bad word? It was probably hundreds of years when the women whose husbands abused their power began to speak up.  I think it's time to take back the word "wife" and have it mean what it's supposed to mean - a loving, supportive partner just like the word "husband" means.

It's been hard to crawl out of lifetime of being told that being a "good wife" is bad to get to the point where I can be one though.  When I was much younger I was a doormat and would let guys treat me horribly because I felt like I deserved it.  Then I flipped things around and expected guys to be, basically, my perfect servant with no negative feelings and no human failings.  Now I'm just trying to be a supportive partner.  It's weird to grow up and see some of my past demanding failures as a spouse and realize that I am not "owed" anything from men anymore than they are owed anything from me.  But that is part of empowerment.  If I am empowered and strong in myself my husband does not have to be the perfect, politically correct, non-oppressor.  He can have bad days and be snappy and ignore me because he's busy just like I do to him sometimes.  It can be an equal partnership of two people are just trying to do their best instead of me (the woman) demanding the man meet all my needs and be perfect.  I've been thinking a lot about this the last couple weeks because I have a friend in an abusive marriage who won't leave for some reason.  Every time she thinks about it she seems to flip back to feeling sorry for her husband and blaming herself and making excuses for him.  That is the situation a lot of people think of when they think of as a "good wife" but that is actually an "abused wife" which is totally different.  And it hasn't made her husband think she's a good wife because he just seems to get meaner and meaner.  So, I'm thinking that the phrase "good wife" needs to have a resurgence to mean someone who is a supportive partner to her spouse and thinks of her spouse's needs as much as her own.  And that's what I'm aspiring too and it seems to be working well.  My husband may say differently of course but of course it's a big learning curve for me not to be all defensive and "looking out for me" all the time.