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."