Saturday, June 22, 2013

Soil, Wu Tang Clan, insurance companies, and horses of courses

Summer vacation is a time of not getting to listen to my own music without loud protest and not having a moment of quiet.  So, I'm enjoying that everyone is sleeping in and I can listen to the Cure without a tween reminding me how uncool and annoying my "old people" music is.  And that it is kind of quiet - except for the dogs wrestling.  Which seems to happen all the time now.  This would not be a problem if they would do it outside but the pitbull wants to stay really close to me and 70 pounds of pitbull and 40 pounds of Australian Shepherd wrestling on my feet is not my idea of a good time.

I am happy to report  it rained really hard for an entire day mid-week right after I planted the last of my summer starts so most of them are doing really well.  We have two raised beds in the Community Garden that are surrounded by rabbit fencing because the bunnies like to eat the strawberries in one of the beds, and the other bed appears to be totally inhospitable to growth for any of my starts.  I've tried broccoli, peppers and beans and none of them survived even though they received the same amount of sun and water as the cabbage in the bed right next to them.  And as the peppers and broccoli in the beds in the Secret Garden.   The only difference is the soil looks "weird"   (side note: Wu Tang Clan just came up on my iTunes playlist and I could've sworn that I took all of that playlist off after my daughter turned three and started singing lyrics to music she heard ... hmmm ...)  Ok, so back to my weird soil.  It looks normal on top until you scrape off the very top and underneath it is crumbly and white and tan/brown and doesn't look like any soil I've seen before.  It's the same soil that I filled all four beds in the Community Garden with two years ago so I thought maybe it just had a lot of compost in it from turning over the weeds in the winter.  But I'm thinking that's not it because is compost white? Is it fungus? Mold?  What's frustrating is I've searched some organic gardening books and the internet and am not finding the answer.  I need to take a sample to some Master Gardeners and ask them.  This is the time of the year some of the students at the UW Master Gardeners program set up booths outside garden stores to answer questions so I'll have to find out when/where they're doing that next.  This is one of those weird questions I get obsessed with and even though I am going to replace the soil in that bed, I still want to know what's going on with it.

Pony Camp starts on Monday so I stopped by the school to find out where all my craft supplies will be and get my instructor t-shirt and just run through the basics with the other instructor.  My daughter's task was to cut out pictures of horses for the photo collage project and in my anal retentive way I decided it was better to have more than necessary so we spent a couple hours last night watching tv and cutting out horse pictures.  I got more done that my easily distracted tween did.  Especially when her dad brought in the mail and she had a new American Girl magazine.  That was kind of the end of that.  So this morning my right hand/wrist is aching like crazy.  It doesn't help that my insurance sent me a letter saying that I can't fill my Humira prescription with my neighborhood pharmacy, I have to fill it with their "specialty" pharmacy.  And dealing with them is a lot like dealing with tech support with any huge corporation.  You talk to a customer service rep. most likely in some other country who has had no training but has a script to go by at best and you get transferred around a lot and get a hundred differing directions on how to get your prescription transferred to them from your regular pharmacy or your doctor.  And so far after four days none of the directions have worked.  I think their point is to get the patient so frustrated that they say screw it - I'd rather be crippled by my disease than have to deal with your bullshit.  There is a special place in Hell for insurance company CEO and officers.  Well, either that or Hell is lined with Juniper,  packing peanuts and a never ending phone call with insurance companies and tech support.

I had two riding lessons for the first time in at least two months this last week and that was really cool.  Maiden is coming along really well and once I make it clear what I want from her she picks it up quickly and tries really hard.  And I am understanding conceptually what it is I'm supposed to be doing but it's hard to get my body to do it and I struggle with expressing the concepts with the correct vocabulary.  I *know* what my horse's body is supposed to look like when she's using it effectively, I just don't express it well and that makes it sound like I have no idea what I'm talking about.  For instance, she is supposed to be stretching her neck out and down to engage her core and use her back correctly and get impulsion from her hind end.  And she should be open at the axis of her spine - not have it bent over so she's looking backwards under her belly.  But I tend to say "put her head down" which has a lot of meanings and isn't that accurate for "stretching her neck out and down".  Finally Trainer K. said, "Ok, stop right here - I am chopping off your horses head right at the poll and you are no longer allowed to talk about the head because it's not there anymore!"  So I started saying things like "I stopped the transition to trot because she threw her bloody neck stump in the air and I need to try again."  I'm trying.  I'm sure that equine massage school will help me express the concepts correctly too.

It's also hard to get my body to work correctly because it's a lot like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.  I need to take up contact and give her a nudge with my legs to go forward and if she doesn't immediately move forward give her a tap with my dressage whip. Only,  I have to flick my wrist without moving my hand or elbow backward because if I do that it changes my contact on the reins.  So I have to be holding the whip such that it is in the same position facing back over my leg at all times - even when I'm trying to hold a steady contact while Maiden is throwing her neck stump around in irritation because she doesn't want to stretch her neck because it's hard work.  And I have to keep my legs back even when she jerks around and I can't tense up any of my muscles while doing this and of course I have to keep my  balance and steer even when she's trying to scrape me off on the wall or trying to veer into the middle of the arena.  So, I'm trying to do all this and Trainer K. yells, "Now do it while trotting."  Aaargh!  Yes, I'm going to pat my head, rub my stomach, count backwards in Russian while doing multi-digit long division in my head and cross my eyes all while doing a posting trot.  I need a lot of practice to get my body able to do all of it at the same time correctly!  It's a big study in isometrics and balance really.  I'm glad I'm taking pilates for core strength and balance or I'd be totally lost.

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