Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

The return of Superpony!

(taken from GRS Blog

The superpony is back! I wonder how long she'll stick around for this time?

So amazing dr lesson on Tues. Didn't ride Wed cause she had some weird puffiness where the girth should go. Well that and both pony and I were zonked (although *I* at least had the excuse of having gone running at lunch :) Thurs puffiness was less and when I squished it she didn't really care so figured I'd ride anyways -- not as though I ever have my girth tight to begin with >;-P She was still pretty tired but amazingly good. Rode for all of about 20 mins. Hopped over some tiny things, and then untacked and let her graze for the rest of our "work" time :) Everybody needs a day like that once in a while.

This am I get her out and hop on and she's still in lazy mode. hmmmmm either dr lesson was far more intense than it felt (don't really believe that since she wasn't giving any "I'm tired" signs - which are usually pretty obvious, subtlety is not her strong suit - while we were there) or she's just chilled this week with the more civilized weather or whatever. We trotted around for a bit admittedly putting fairly little effort into our warmup. So coach comes out (with not one but TWO incredibly cute bouncing fluffballs :) and has us do some basic trot work - but not nearly as intense as it generally is (maybe we got excused cause I told him we did dr on Tues?). Ok forward into the canter and he wants me shifting between two and three point -- a valid and useful exercise except that I was expecting dressage and my stirrups were approximately 5 holes too long for that. Pulled up after all of about two strides "if we're going to play this game can I shorten my stirrups?" (of course already doing so by the time I finished asking the question -- which really translated to, are we going back to dressage after we run around?) I got a laugh and a nod so I figured that meant no dressage for us today. Altogether now: awwwwwwww. So we do a few laps alternating between a canter and a hand-gallop with focus pretty much entirely on my position (he made one little shift that made such a huge diff -- esp once we got to the jumping aspect of things! -- one of those "well why didn't somebody point this out 10 yrs ago?" sheesh. hahaha but it's all good. Now I just have to be able to replicate!)

So I warm the pony up over random fences (thank Epona she's still being a saint :) while my coach builds our one and only fence for the day. Very nice hogsback, not particularly high - maybe entry level? "Ok, jump that at 350mpm". Hey wait a sec -- since when were we deemed to be where accuracy is expected? What happened to being please with simply getting from point A to point B without losing our little mind? Almost as bad as DQ coach asking for a circle and just expecting it would be 20m. hahaha no. My circles are random sizes (albeit I do aim for round!) unless otherwise specified. Funny, from that moment on (and that moment was several months ago) all circle sizes have been specified. >;-P

Ok but back to today - jump that at 350mpm. This is not particularly challenging since I default to 350mpm and therefore Sienna is very comfortable jumping at that pace :) So yeah, no problem. Did it a couple times both ways consistently. All good. Then it's 450 down the long side, 350 around the corner, 300 to and over the fence. Ummm 300? We can trot 300 >;-P @ least when she's in zoomy mode we can. So the 350-450 increase was np (and as we did this multiple times over the lesson by the end we could even do it w/o falling on the forehand. Yeah us :), and back to 350 also ok (450 around the short end of that ring is a little terrifying so self-preservation kicks in @ some point). Back to 300 worked. For a stride or two. Then we trotted. Yeah pony can jump entry oxers out of a trot >;-P "Don't worry, I'll do it better next time," I assured my coach as we cantered away. Sometimes you just don't need to hear the analysis. hahaha. The next time with a touch more leg we kept the 300. Was still a really icky jump, but at least on pace and in the right gait. Then we just played with different combos -- 450 long, 350 short, 400 jump. Can she go forward and come back on command and can I keep whatever pace he wants me to keep consistently. There were a few cases where coming back took longer than it technically should've :) The 450 - 300 jump (ie long gallop to coffin) took an extra try (1st time we trotted) but we did get it :)

But what really had me so excited was that by the end she was jumping beautifully out of whatever pace we were in, and more importantly, LANDING in the same rhythm. Woohoo!!! And most of those fences had her little knees up around her ears :)

I will say though, after more than half an hour of cantering and galloping (albeit slowly) on the pony who wasn't particularly high to begin with, both of us were pretty zonked. And I definitely did not end up going for my run today. hahaha I think some more fitness is required for both of us; actually I think I just need to pick up another horse to ride. One at a time just isn't cutting it.

Friday Flash #35 - First Encounter

Ok so for the record, I can't believe I'm on #35!!!! Woohoo!

This story stands on its own as a flash, but it's also a continuation of the story I started "way back when" in flash #2... It also has two endings. The flash ending, here. And the alternate ending which just moves the story along a little. I'll include both -- let me know which you think works better!!!

BTW, if you want the back story:
Knowing
The Next Step
The Watcher
The Survivor

Thanks for reading!

-----

First Encounter:

As she followed well behind Kale, muttering to herself about the pace he was setting and questioning her sanity in staying with him, Jezina's internal monologue was interrupted by a whimpering not far off in the woods. She stopped to listen more carefully as Kale disappeared around a bend farther ahead.

There it was again. A sad sound. Like a cross between the mewling cry of a kitten and the high-pitched chirp of a young bird. Curious, she stepped off the trail toward the sound. For all that it was quiet, Jezina had thought the sound was nearby but as she found herself heading deeper into the woods she realized her senses had been somewhat distorted. She considered heading back, realizing it'd be smart to at least tell Kale where she'd gone, but was worried that whatever was crying was hurt. That and, she acknowledged to herself, she really didn't want Kale along. So she continued deeper into the woods, out of sight of the trail she'd been following.

She crossed the treeline and found herself in a meadow. There was something foreboding about the meadow; the scene was one of pastoral peace and Jezina could see no reason for her unease, but still she hesitated. The sound was noticeably louder and when she scanned the open area she saw it. An animal of some type, trapped by a log on the other side of the meadow.

Dismissing her fears as foolish, Jezina sprinted across the meadow towards the wounded animal, slowing to a walk when she got near so as not to scare it. When she approached it, murmuring gently, the animal looked at her with the most disconcertingly intelligent eyes.

The creature was unlike any Jezina had ever seen. The size of a large dog, it was blue and very fluffy. She felt a girl's need to hug it, although some instinct warned her that would be a very bad idea. It had tiny wings, too small for the body, that seemed to be made of crystal, and large amber eyes that looked at her quizzically. It looked pointedly at its trapped claw and then tilted its head sideways looking at Jezina as though to say "Well? Would you do something about this?" The look was so human and so indignant it instantly brought a smile to her face.

"Alright little one, let me see what I can do." Taking a closer look, Jezina could see that his claw had slipped through a knot hole in the fallen tree, and he couldn't twist it in any way that would let him pull it back out. She tried to move it gently, but he squawked and hit her with his little wing, scratching her face. She sat back and looked at him -- those wings may be small, but they were powerful! "Ok," she said softly, gentling him, "I'm trying to help here." Realizing she'd be unable to maneuver his claw out, Jezina set about trying to break the slightly rotting stump to widen the hole he'd gone through. It was hard work, especially as she had to keep the log stable or the critter screeched in pain. Jezina’s labours were rewarded as she heard a snap and the piece she was working on broke off, sending her comically tumbling backwards and the blue fluffball falling off the other side, free.

She laughed out loud as the critter bounced back up and over to her side as though saying "I meant to do that!" She sat and watched him play, leaping off the log and fluttering his tiny wings in a frantic and fairly unsuccessful attempt to hover. Enjoying the moment of sheer childish frivolity, Jezina climbed onto the log and mimicked the creature, jumping off and flapping her arms. He watched her do that once and then waited for her to join her on the log again -- his intentions clear. Both leapt at the same time, only the animal actually managed a hover of a second or two, landing well after Jezina. Sensing the "so there" in his eyes, she turned and performed a formal bow saying "You win, little one, that was pretty impressive."

Lost in the silliness of the moment, Jezina was happier and more relaxed than she'd been in a long time. Which meant the cold voice, when it interrupted, seemed that much harsher.

"Jezina!" At the sharp command, Jezina looked across the meadow to see Kale glaring at her with a level of hatred she'd hoped they were past. Sighing she looked at the little creature who at Kale's appearance had stopped bouncing around and moved to stand in front of Jezi -- seemingly protecting her from the intruder.

"It's ok little one," she said, feeling only half foolish for explaining things to this seemingly intelligent being, "he's a . . . friend," she picked for lack of a better word.

"Jezina you've got to get out of there NOW!" Kale stated adamantly.

"I'm fine Kale," she reassured him, "he's friendly."

"Jezina," Kale spoke very quietly one eye warily on the critter, "this is a dragon's lair, and that's a baby blue-wing. He looks harmless, but could kill both of us in an instant. And where there's a baby, there's a mother. We have to get out of here before she arrives." And Jezina knew she'd mistaken the hatred in his eyes. What she was really seeing was fear.

A closer look around their meadow confirmed what Kale was saying. The meadow in the middle of the forest was not a natural construct. The log the critter had been caught was obviously dragged from elsewhere, but there was no path through the woods. Jezina had taken the meadow at face value; dragons to her were magnificent mythical creatures -- certainly not cute blue fluffballs. But, she was learning, sometimes the myths were real. "Well little one, even though I'd much rather stay and play with you, it looks like I'd better be going. It seems your mum might not like me being here. Stay out of the logs ok?" she asked him with a quick pat on the head. She'd taken only one step across the meadow toward Kale when she heard a sound not even her nightmares could create. The roar was fierce, the ground shook underneath, and the temperature rose to nearly scalding. The little critter cowered behind her, and she instinctively put a hand on his head reassuringly. "Where was Kale's icy glare when you needed it?" the scarily logical part of her brain asked while the rest of her frantically tried to think of what to do next. She felt the temperature drop slightly as the roar faded, allowing her a slight reprieve as she quickly scanned the area for a hiding spot. She was considering whether or not she could hide in the log she'd just rescued the baby dragon from when she ran out of time.
--30--
...More

First Encounter - 2nd Ending

As the massive creature landed in the meadow between her and Kale, the little one scurried around in front of Jezina and stared up at his mother defiantly. The adult dragon paused and tilted her head ever so slightly, looking at her child. Jezina had the distinct impression he had just saved her life. At least for the moment. Awestruck, Jezina looked at the giant dragon. She, for it was definitely the little one's mother, was pure power. Her sheer size was overwhelming. The long thick tale of scales had destroyed the trees nearest to Kale with only the slightest flick, sending him retreating further into the woods. Her body was a shimmering royal blue, with huge crystalline wings that reflected the sunlight. Her highly intelligent eyes were golden and framed with huge lashes. There was no sign in her of the fluffy critter with tiny wings she must once have been.

The giant being lowered her magnificent blue head until she was face-to-face with Jezina. She turned her head so one giant eye was pointed directly at Jezina and slowly scrolled back and forth. Jezina held perfectly still, hardly daring to breath. She felt as though every feature were being examined and memorized, for what she had no idea. The dragon pulled back slightly so she could look at Jezina head on. She sniffed briefly and then threw her head up and snorted, as though trying to rid herself of a sour taste. If Jezina hadn't been so scared, she might've been insulted. The dragon reached over Jezina and picked her young up in her teeth by the scruff of his neck, and then spreading her magnificent wings, was airborn. The stunning dragon hovered momentarily over her lair, before she, with a couple slow flaps of her wings, was gone.

-----

So was it better to see what happened? Or better to be left wondering?

Einstein

Ok so I would be remiss if I didn't share this one...



Meet Einstein

How to have a dressage lesson

(from GRS blog)

So where were you all night? I had a dressage lesson. It took you *that* long? I wasn't gone *that* long... Only 2... 3... 6... and a half hours. Ok maybe I was gone for a while. But let me provide a short summary of what's involved in this process:

1. Leave work. I never manage to get out of work on time, so this eats up an extra 15mins all in itself.
2. Crawl through early-rush-hour traffic (which I would've missed entirely if not for step one!) to the barn.
3. Park car.
4. Pray to auto gods that the Beast will deign to start.
5. Start Beast.
6. Thank auto gods
7. Back Beast up to trailer.
8. Pull Beast forward and try again, this time at least pretending to pay attention to where the middle is!
9. Lower trailer hitch onto ball.
10. Forcibly push/pull/shove trailer into place since step 8 was less accurate than it perhaps should've been (who nees the gym?!?! You lift weights - I lift TRAILERS!)
11. Pull Beast and Murray (that'd be the trailer - see Nicole's Guest Post if you want in the loop on how that came to be) forward to safe place to load.
12. Intelligently park facing the direction we need to leave.
13. Put down ramp and chest bar.
14. Fill haynet.
15. Attach lungeline to side of trailer "just-in-case".
(has anybody noticed I haven't technically seen my horse yet?)
16. Pack tack and gear in Beast
17. Fill water bucket even though I *know* she won't drink it
18. Collect shipping boots from Murray and bring them to the barn.
19. Bring grooming kit to crossties
20. Locate pony's halter (it'd gone for a walk) and put on pony.
21. Put pony in crossties.
22. Groom pony.
23. Wonder why pony isn't making nasty faces.
24. Put boots on pony.
25. Put shipping boots on over regular boots.
26. Watch pony do the shipping-boot dance.
27. Lead pony to trailer.
28. Wonder why pony walks on trailer like a pro.
29. Give pony treat and pats
30. Leave pony munching in trailer and go behind her to do up butt strap
31. Return to front of pony to tie her
32. Replace chest bar
33. Pat pony
34. Close back gate
35. Close people door
36. Recheck everything is done up/attached correctly (I'm a little paranoid about this - esp as Murray can be, well, temporamental :)
37. Remove lungeline from side of trailer.
38. Start Beast.
39. Realize Beast is very hungry. Too hungry to make it to the lesson and back w/o food.
40. Realize oh-so-intelligent parking to leave in the right direction sets us exactly the WRONG direction for gas.
41. 3-point-turn in w/ Beast/Murray combo. And it WAS 3 points. Sadly this is not nearlly as impressive as it sounds as I had a fairly huge and straight area to work with :) But we don't need to mention that.
42. Feed Beast
43. One last loop around the parking lot to get back to the original exit.
44. Back into the traffic crawl.
45. What's with all the HUGE trucks?!?!? Poor Murray's starting to get a complex.
46. Hit every red light in Guelph. There are a lot of them.
47. Get to coach's barn.
48. Yeah for round-about! Park trailer facing the exit.
49. Open people-door so Sienna can see out. She's significantly happier with it open.
50. Put on half-chaps (only item it's really awkward to put on while holding a dancing pony).
51. Drop back gate.
52. Attach leadline to pony.
53. Detach bungee.
54. Undo butt chain.
55. Reverse pony (she's a pro at this!)
56. Laugh when pony stops with front legs STILL on trailer gate and starts looking for grass.
57. Very quickly pull off shipping boots and store in trailer.
58. Sigh when pony realizes that far more interesting than the grass are the scary tractors and the horses in the distance.
59. Realize pony has grown significantly and can no longer be referred to as "pony".
60. Admire horse who has turned into a statue.
61. A very large, very strong statue.
62. A statue that could randomly jump in any direction at any time.
63. Contemplate the wisdom of using the statuesqe moment to quickly tack up horse.
64. Contemplate for too long and get taken for a jog by horse who's deemed standing still is a good way to get eaten.
65. Realize it's *really* hard to put a saddle on a horse who's standing on her hind legs.
66. Laugh when said horse takes half a second between landing and trying to run away to grab some grass -- clearly this is more a game than anything. Teenage. Thoroughbred. Chestnut. Mare. On a cold windy day.
67. I should know better.
68. Turns out I *do* know better.
69. Choosing to pick my battles, take TTBCM into the barn and put her in cross-ties.
70. Put her in cross-ties far away from the door.
71. Where it's quiet.
72. And there's nothing interesting going on.
73. She's still *very* tall.
74. Debate the wisdom of leaving her unsupervised in cross-ties to go get tack.
75. Realize I have no choice.
76. Leave Sienna (who does cross tie remarkably well now -- although I still remember all too well the days she didn't!)
77. Go get tack and gear.
78. Return.
79. Pat Sienna for still being where I left her :)
80. Groom horse.
81. Wait, didn't we do that already?
82. Yeah well when your horse burries her head in her food and flings it everywhere, she always gets off the trailer covered in hay. At grain time she's covered in beatpulp. It's actually fairly entertaining. If a bit of a pita.
83. Tack up horse.
84. Tack up rider.
85. Lead very tall bouncing horse to arena.
86. Notice jumping lesson going on.
87. Stand surprised and watch. Remember, dq barn. People just don't jump here. But sure enough there's a great tiny course. Jumps are little but interesting -- complete with a painted wall and an empty brush box (which we all know is *way* scarier than a full one).
88. Ask permission to ride around jump lesson.
89. Permission granted.
90. Lead Sienna into ring only to discover she's returned to her usual size and entirely relaxed.
91. Apparently friends, indoors (she loves that ring for some reason -- maybe it's the mirrors?), and jumps are a good thing.
92. Warm-up around jump lesson
93. Trot over random fences
94. Jumping is a great w/u for dressage :)
95. Make friends with other riders in the ring.
96. Watch as lesson jump-crew disasembles entire course.
97. Boooo
98. Warmup for a bit
99. Warmup a little more. Either I was way early or my coach was late. But I'm really not sure which. Last time it was my fault so I'm thinking this time it's up to her :)
100. But I could be wrong.
101. Have lesson. (ummmm will elaborate on this point later :)
102. Note, we're past step 100 when the lesson begins!
103. Be totally shown up by the Superstar CTBM (yeah how often do you see THAT combo together?!?!)
104. Spend a lot of time goofing around making smart-ass comments which my amazingly patient coach tolerates while getting best results ever from the superpony.
105. Finish lesson.
106. Cool out horse.
107. Untack horse.
108. It turned into winter again :(
109. Boooo
110. Locate blanket for Sienna.
111. Sit and chat for a while.
112. Offer water to horse.
113. Watch horse reject water.
114. Offer to let horse graze.
115. Watch horse turn back into very tall, very strong, statue.
116. Get boots from Murray and put on Sienna.
117. Repeat steps 25-54 but substitute "feed Lauren" for "feed Murray" and "junkfood" for "gasoline". Why are there still SO many huge trucks on the hwy?
146. Put Sienna back in her stall.
147. Let her chill for a bit.
148. Unpack Beast
149. Take blanket and boots off Sienna
150. Groom Sienna.
151. Put sheet on Sienna.
152. Return boots to Murray and blanket to Beast.
153. Put brushes away.
154. Give horse night feed
155. Clean and refill horse's water after she dunks night feed.
156. Clean Murray
157. Park Murray (lots of fun in the dark let me tell you!)
158. Detatch Murray from Beast.
159. Park Beast.
160. Pull fuse from Beast, so it might deign to start again next time.
161. Make beat-pulp for tomorrow's feed.
162. Chat with other people finishing up with their horses.
163. Double check that everything's done and away and Sienna is fed, clean, dry and happy.
164. Drive home.

So hey, suddenly doesn't seem so excessive does it? Note that your answer to that will reveal whether or not you're a horse person. hahahah Although admittedly most nights I can do it in about 2h less than that -- not entirely sure where that time went But that's ok. It was fun. Yes I just said fun in reference to dressage. Send some skates to your friends in hell, they just may need them >;-P

Fun because....?

Partially because my horse, who's been a *complete* wingnut for a couple weeks now, was a complete and total star. And partially cause I was in a silly mood and M's pretty kewl about that n just goes along w/ it :)

So as mentioned, we get there and Si's a *little* high. Literally. And when I went to go in the ring there was a jump lesson going on, so I wasn't sure how that would go over. But it was like somebody flicked the off switch. We went in the ring n she was an old school pony :) Couldn't care less that the others were jumping. Stayed out of the way and trotted over the occasional fence (I had a good laugh in that she was doing the green-bean "giant leap" over these tiny fences) and was generally absolutely amazing. And when the jumps were put away and the others left, still amazing :) So when M comes in and asks what we need help with... Well ummmm lost her mind and doesn't bend left. I say as my quiet as can be horse does a lovely left bend. *sigh* Maybe I should just show her the video from GV *g* I don't think she'll ever believe me otherwise :)

I couldn't help but laugh part way through as M was reiterating the importance of schooling the "almost" transitions. As in almost walk, almost canter, etc. And my mind immediately follows with "almost" jump. hahaha which would definitely be less than a good thing! And I suppose this would be why most DQs want nothing to do w/ eventers *g* Or part of it anyways :)

The other one was "always be running through the mental checklist" which is great till you have the sewing-machine-on-speed trot happening and realize you're technically not even at step ONE on the list. Kinda makes the list a moot point >;-P

We did get there though and sooner rather than later. And by the end pony was an absolute superstar. Attentive and really trying hard and actually accomplishing something that could almost be considered dressage. Woohoo! There's hope to be had :)

Somebody Else's Story...

John Wiswell's flash Aligators by Twitter -- one of the funniest things I've read in a long time (albeit keep in my my rather twisted sense of humour). Perfectly narrated.

5:00 PM (one day ago)
I can Twitter on my phone! No idea why I would, but it’s cool. Gives me something to do in the new house.

1:00 AM
Found mysterious hole in new house today. In floor. No basement. Calling my realtor after my sister and her kids leave.

7:00 AM
Building plans show no basement. What’s the hole lead to? Totally checking it out after they leave. Put carpet over hole for now.

9:00 AM
Nephew fell through carpet. Trying to play it like I didn’t know there was a hole.

9:20 AM
Holy crap! Nephew eaten by alligators! What are alligators doing under my house?
.... for the rest of the story, click the link above :) It's fairly silly but well worth a read!

Superpony was her usual super self today. First good ride since the show last weekend. About friggin time >;-P hahaha Definitely does make the day better though :)

Sleep now. Night!

Flash Fiction 34: Shadows

"What does your shadow do while you're asleep?"

"It sleeps," Christina answered, humouring the eccentric lady while wishing the bus would just hurry up and get there.

"Are you sure?" the strangely dressed woman questioned, "because I thought I saw it last night. You need to keep a closer watch on it." Christina couldn't help but glance at her shadow, which mimicked her movement exactly as a shadow should. The arrival of the bus saved her from having to come up with an appropriate response.

Hours later the conversation was all but forgotten when Christina turned in for the night. As she turned off the light and her shadow disappeared in the dark, Christina gave a bemused smile as she recalled the conversation. "Good night Shadow," she joked smiling as she buried herself in her duvet, "don't get into too much trouble without me."

But what she didn't realize was, her shadow was too far away to hear her, much less listen. He had detached himself the instant her hand hit the lights and escaped to the world where he was a force to be reckoned with. Far more than an unnoticed shape to be trampled at will by even the most inconsequential beings, in the darkness of the night Shade had power. The kind of power that would one day soon have them wishing they'd given him the respect he was due.

The only thing standing in his way was the Shale. The triumvirate who held power over all who thrived in the dark. For thousands of years they'd ruled at will; they regularly toyed with the short-lived daylighters, technically illegal by their own laws, but nobody had any particularly serious objection to it. The real issue was when they played their games with the Shadows. Levying taxes nobody could meet, banishing those innocent of all but the most insignificant crimes and supporting the truly evil, the Nightmares -- those who give the Dark a bad name. This was unacceptable. Perfectly good Shadows being eternally banished, and those remaining terrified by those who should’ve been. All the Shadows agreed, but none were brave enough to do anything about it. None but Shade.

His plan was simple -- it would make use of the one ability Shadows had that not even the strongest Shale magic could match; Shadows could be seen in sunlight. Not only that, they were strongest in sunlight, particularly the new-day sun which was fatal to the Shale.

One Shadow alone wouldn't be enough, but Shade had been gathering followers for months. Quietly, secretly, he'd be gathering them to him -- from his family, the elite daylighter Shadows, to the unnecessaries, those Shadows attached to immobile structures under larger Shadows. Careful never to talk to more than one at a time so the Shale's wouldn't realize a group was forming. A Shadow couldn't influence their daylighter -- at least not once the daylighter was an adult. But many Shadows working together might be able to. Shade was counting that they would be able to.

His daylighter regularly got up in the dark, meaning she was outside at daybreak -- when Shadows thrived and the Shale hid. Working together they would bring his daylighter down the ally, not so far from the bus stop where she sat each morning. Manipulating the daylighter would force the Shale into action. They would converge, protected from daylight by the Ally Shadows. Then all that was needed was for the Ally Shadows to retreat and the Shale would be no more. Then the Dark would belong to the Shadows.

Christina walked toward the bus stop, not entirely awake and thinking of the presentation she'd have to give at work that morning. She slowed when she realized the eccentric woman from the day before was again at the bus stop. Not feeling energetic enough to engage in conversation, she hung back against the shop wall, walking as slowly as possible. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught movement down the ally. It looked like money swirling around on the ground. Puzzled, curious, and grateful for a way to kill the two minutes till the bus arrived, Christina turned to investigate.

As she entered the ally, the Shales approached from the sidelines, always out of the daylighter's vision. How dare you influence her behaviour? they asked, inside Shade's head in a way that always gave him the creeps.

Why shouldn't I? he thought, defiantly. It's far less than the damage the Nightmares do.

We do not explain ourselves to Shadows. That simple statement displayed exactly the arrogance that had begun this war, and the final proof required to justify his plan to himself. He gave the sign to the Alley Shadow, but despite, or perhaps because of, the atrocities committed by the Shales, the lesser shadows hesitated for a split second when Shade gave the signal. And that hesitation was all it took. The Shale, who hadn't survived for millennia by being fools, retreated before the Shadows could move and, safe from the sunlight, ordered their Nightmares to attack. Within seconds, both Shade and his revolution were done.

The unfortunate side-effect being that while Shadows can live forever regardless of light, a daylighter cannot survive sunlight without her shadow. And it was, in fact, turning into a very bright day. The eccentric lady at the bus stop watched Christina's nightmarish death sadly, shaking her head; she should’ve kept a closer watch on her shadow. The young never listen these days.

"Let not the sands of time get in your lunch." -Tony Hendra

So those who are reading Theory Thursdays I'm afraid there's nothing new this week... Sorry - just been one of those weeks!

Have spent all week trying to locate and reinstall super-pony's brain. *sigh* I think we left it at the show. The worst part is while I understand the flatwork being spinny since our flatwork was spinny at the show, her jumping is horrendous and it was good at the show. Booooo. Today we finally got to reasonably calm. Not good by any stretch of the imagination (that can come tomorrow) but at least calm.

So had a good laugh today somebody, who shall remain nameless, is involved in some online game of the "create your city, take over the universe" variety. And it's quite intense and in real time. So if you send your peoples out to do something that's going to take an hour, you come back in an hour and see how it went. Etc. Anyways I was lurking the game (which I've deemed I'd have no time for even if I were so inclined -- I'm having enough of a challenge running my *real* world!) and really had to laugh when I saw the alliance with "Canadialand" which stated, "no defeated opponents". It just seemed so appropriate somehow. Just saying...

Good News/ Bad News

Ok so this is where I show my geeky side. Here are some thoughts on writing I originally saw in Lapham's Quarterly. Have no idea if it's actually legal to reprint or not since I'm sure it's still copyrighted. hmmmmm ok so it might have to disappear. But in the interim, I quite enjoyed it, so thought I'd share :) Comeon, any paper that can contrast Cinderella and Hamlet needs to be read! And with pretty pictures too :)

Cheers

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Kurt Vonnegut writes:

I want to share with you something I’ve learned. I’ll draw it on the blackboard behind me so you can follow more easily [draws a vertical line on the blackboard]. This is the G-I axis: good fortune-ill fortune. Death and terrible poverty, sickness down here—great prosperity, wonderful health up there. Your average state of affairs here in the middle [points to bottom, top, and middle of line respectively].

This is the B-E axis. B for beginning, E for entropy. Okay. Not every story has that very simple, very pretty shape that even a computer can understand [draws horizontal line extending from middle of G-I axis].

Now let me give you a marketing tip. The people who can afford to buy books and magazines and go to the movies don’t like to hear about people who are poor or sick, so start your story up here [indicates top of the G-I axis]. You will see this story over and over again. People love it, and it is not copyrighted. The story is “Man in Hole,” but the story needn’t be about a man or a hole. It’s: somebody gets into trouble, gets out of it again [draws line A]. It is not accidental that the line ends up higher than where it began. This is encouraging to readers.



Another is called “Boy Meets Girl,” but this needn’t be about a boy meeting a girl [begins drawing line B]. It’s: somebody, an ordinary person, on a day like any other day, comes across something perfectly wonderful: “Oh boy, this is my lucky day!” … [drawing line downward]. “Shit!” … [drawing line back up again]. And gets back up again.



Now, I don’t mean to intimidate you, but after being a chemist as an undergraduate at Cornell, after the war I went to the University of Chicago and studied anthropology, and eventually I took a masters degree in that field. Saul Bellow was in that same department, and neither one of us ever made a field trip. Although we certainly imagined some. I started going to the library in search of reports about ethnographers, preachers, and explorers—those imperialists—to find out what sorts of stories they’d collected from primitive people. It was a big mistake for me to take a degree in anthropology anyway, because I can’t stand primitive people—they’re so stupid. But anyway, I read these stories, one after another, collected from primitive people all over the world, and they were dead level, like the B-E axis here. So all right. Primitive people deserve to lose with their lousy stories. They really are backward. Look at the wonderful rise and fall of our stories.

One of the most popular stories ever told starts down here [begins line C below B-E axis]. Who is this person who’s despondent? She’s a girl of about fifteen or sixteen whose mother had died, so why wouldn’t she be low? And her father got married almost immediately to a terrible battle-axe with two mean daughters. You’ve heard it?


Cinderella


There’s to be a party at the palace. She has to help her two stepsisters and her dreadful stepmother get ready to go, but she herself has to stay home. Is she even sadder now? No, she’s already a broken-hearted little girl. The death of her mother is enough. Things can’t get any worse than that. So okay, they all leave for the party. Her fairy godmother shows up [draws incremental rise], gives her pantyhose, mascara, and a means of transportation to get to the party.

And when she shows up she’s the belle of the ball [draws line upward]. She is so heavily made up that her relatives don’t even recognize her. Then the clock strikes twelve, as promised, and it’s all taken away again [draws line downward]. It doesn’t take long for a clock to strike twelve times, so she drops down. Does she drop down to the same level? Hell, no. No matter what happens after that she’ll remember when the prince was in love with her and she was the belle of the ball. So she poops along, at her considerably improved level, no matter what, and the shoe fits, and she becomes off-scale happy [draws line upward and then infinity symbol].

Now there’s a Franz Kafka story [begins line D toward bottom of G-I axis]. A young man is rather unattractive and not very personable. He has disagreeable relatives and has had a lot of jobs with no chance of promotion. He doesn’t get paid enough to take his girl dancing or to go to the beer hall to have a beer with a friend. One morning he wakes up, it’s time to go to work again, and he has turned into a cockroach.


Kafka - Metamorphosis


It’s a pessimistic story.

The question is, does this system I’ve devised help us in the evaluation of literature? Perhaps a real masterpiece cannot be crucified on a cross of this design. How about Hamlet? It’s a pretty good piece of work I’d say. Is anybody going to argue that it isn’t? I don’t have to draw a new line, because Hamlet’s situation is the same as Cinderella’s, except that the sexes are reversed.


Shakespeare - Hamlet


His father has just died. He’s despondent. And right away his mother went and married his uncle, who’s a bastard. So Hamlet is going along on the same level as Cinderella when his friend Horatio comes up to him and says, “Hamlet, listen, there’s this thing up in the parapet, I think maybe you’d better talk to it. It’s your dad.” So Hamlet goes up and talks to this, you know, fairly substantial apparition there. And this thing says, “I’m your father, I was murdered, you gotta avenge me, it was your uncle did it, here’s how.”

Well, was this good news or bad news? To this day we don’t know if that ghost was really Hamlet’s father. If you have messed around with Ouija boards, you know there are malicious spirits floating around, liable to tell you anything, and you shouldn’t believe them. Madame Blavatsky, who knew more about the spirit world than anybody else, said you are a fool to take any apparition seriously, because they are often malicious and they are frequently the souls of people who were murdered, were suicides, or were terribly cheated in life in one way or another, and they are out for revenge.

So we don’t know whether this thing was really Hamlet’s father or if it was good news or bad news. And neither does Hamlet. But he says okay, I got a way to check this out. I’ll hire actors to act out the way the ghost said my father was murdered by my uncle, and I’ll put on this show and see what my uncle makes of it. So he puts on this show. And it’s not like Perry Mason. His uncle doesn’t go crazy and say, “I-I-you got me, you got me, I did it, I did it.” It flops. Neither good news nor bad news. After this flop Hamlet ends up talking with his mother when the drapes move, so he thinks his uncle is back there and he says, “All right, I am so sick of being so damn indecisive,” and he sticks his rapier through the drapery. Well, who falls out? This windbag, Polonius. This Rush Limbaugh. And Shakespeare regards him as a fool and quite disposable.

You know, dumb parents think that the advice that Polonius gave to his kids when they were going away was what parents should always tell their kids, and it’s the dumbest possible advice, and Shakespeare even thought it was hilarious.

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” But what else is life but endless lending and borrowing, give and take?

“This above all, to thine own self be true.” Be an egomaniac!

Neither good news nor bad news. Hamlet didn’t get arrested. He’s prince. He can kill anybody he wants. So he goes along, and finally he gets in a duel, and he’s killed. Well, did he go to heaven or did he go to hell? Quite a difference. Cinderella or Kafka’s cockroach? I don’t think Shakespeare believed in a heaven or hell any more than I do. And so we don’t know whether it’s good news or bad news.

I have just demonstrated to you that Shakespeare was as poor a storyteller as any Arapaho.

But there’s a reason we recognize Hamlet as a masterpiece: it’s that Shakespeare told us the truth, and people so rarely tell us the truth in this rise and fall here [indicates blackboard]. The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.

And if I die—God forbid—I would like to go to heaven to ask somebody in charge up there, “Hey, what was the good news and what was the bad news?”

Random lunchtime babbling :)

So I've been fairly entertained by the story of How Apple Lost the next Iphone -- just imagine yourself, a young engineer working for Apple; you're testing out the new iPhone -- but it's top secret, so you've disguised it as an old iPhone. Brilliant. But it's been a long day so you stop at the pub for a beer... Like everybody you carry your phone with you. Unlike everybody, yours is a top-secret prototype. Finishing your beer you head home for the night. Without your phone. Less brilliant.

Slightly intoxicated jovial man finds your phone and attempts to return it to anybody nearby. Failing to find the phone's owner, he gives it to your "friend" whom you've never actually met before, but were seated beside. Friend is slightly more sober and turns it on to find your Facebook page. Tries to play with the camera but it doesn't seem to work. Deciding he'll locate you and return the phone tomorrow, your new friend goes home for the night. Next day friend tries to turn phone on but it's been locked. No good. Then he takes a closer look at the phone -- there's something nqr about it... Oh wait, that'd be the handy dandy disguise! Prying it apart, he discovers somebody's lost far more than a simple iphone...

Something other companies would pay for. $5000 for. Gizmodo had a fun time dissecting the phone and posting their findings online before eventually returning the phone to apple at their lawyer's request.

Well I was amused anyways. I imagine the engineer's boss was less so *g*

So Saturday I fell off my horse; Sunday I was pretty stiff, but reasonably functional. Monday I went running; Tuesday I could hardly walk. Therefore running is far worse for your body than throwing yourself from great heights at a solid surface. hmmmmmmm Just saying...

Found this site interesting -- it reunites found photos with their owners: I Found Your Camera

How does your garden grow?

I didn't write this, but saw it and thought I'd share :) Enjoy!

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An unemployed man went to apply for a job with Microsoft as a janitor. The manager there arranges for him to take an aptitude test. After the test, the manager says, "You will be employed as a janitor at minimum wage, $8.55 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address so that I can send you a form to complete and tell you where to report for work on your first day."
Taken aback, the man protests that he has neither a computer nor an e-mail address. To this the MS manager replies, "Well, then, that means that you virtually don't exist and can therefore hardly expect to be employed by Microsoft."
Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having only $10.00 in his wallet, he buys a 25 lb. flat of tomatoes at the supermarket and in less than two hours, he sell all the tomatoes individually at 100 percent profit.

Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $160.00 before going to sleep that night. It dawns on him that he could quite easily make a living selling tomatoes.

Getting up early every day and going to bed late, he multiplies his profits quickly. After a short time he acquires a cart to transport several dozen boxes of tomatoes, only to have to trade it in again so that he can buy a pickup truck to support his expanding business. By the end of the second year, he is the owner of a fleet of pickup trucks and manages a staff of a hundred former unemployed people, all selling tomatoes.

Planning for the future of his wife and children, he decides to buy some life insurance. Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. At the end of the telephone conversation, the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically. When the man replies that he has no e-mail, the adviser is stunned. "What, you don't have e-mail? How on earth have you managed to amass such wealth without the internet, e-mail and e-commerce? Just imagine where you could be now if you had been connected to the internet from the very start!"

"Well," replied the tomato millionaire, "I would be a janitor at Microsoft!"

-----

And on a positive note, keep in mind that since you found this story on the Internet, you may be closer to becoming a janitor than you are to becoming a millionaire.

Cheers :)

There's a plus side to everything -- if you look hard enough.

So I've decided I'm not quite as fit as I prefer to be, but I really have no convenient time for the variety of exercises I actually enjoy (since I'm usually either riding or teaching when they're on). So today I sucked it up and went for a run at lunchtime.

Not terribly long -- google tells me it was a little over 2km. But man, when I got back to the office my quads were just about ready to go on strike. Sad, very sad. I miss spin class. On the plus side, cardio was a non-issue. So that was a pleasant surprise :) Figure I'll run a few times/wk @ least until the first HT and see how that goes. Weather better hold though cause I'm def a fair-weather jogger *g*

So one good thing that came out of our Grandview adventures -- comments! Lots and lots of comments. hahaha and as just about any blogger will tell you, the one thing more entertaining than writing the post in the first place, is reading other people's reactions ;) Well that and, I guess, discovering people are actually reading *g* So apparently we need disastrous shows more often cause the "we went, had a blast, won the day" posts don't get nearly the same response. But, ummmm, maybe we won't tell my coach that >;-P

The day after...

Have you ever ridden a horse who's both high and tired at the same time? Yeah, that's where Sienna was today -- an interesting experience. I had planned on a very light stretchy ride. In fact, I had planned on just hacking around bareback - as relaxed as could be.

Except that when I brought her out, she was bouncing. Couldn't help but look at her and shake my head. Really? You should be exhausted. Seriously. I figure I rode (and like really rode, not just sitting around killing time) for well over two hours yesterday. On top of the 4 hours in the trailer and the few hours hanging out walking around the property in search of just the right piece of grass... And then turned out all day today. She should be sleeping in her stall -- which she was. Till I got there :) But as soon as she *left* the stall...

So fairly quickly abandoned the bareback idea -- my neck and back were still toasted from landing on them yesterday -- definitely not up to that on a jumpy horse. Hop on and head out to sandring (cause of course the weather's perfect today :). She spins when I get on and shies not once but twice in the 20 second walk out there. The walk that she makes every day without looking at a thing.

Let her start trotting and it's her huge I'm-on-a-mission trot that then rolls into the we-need-to-get-there-NOW canter ok whatever. She wasn't frantic, just wanted to power-stride it. Fine. And then all of a sudden she was done. Breaks out of the canter and I need to work to keep her in the trot... Adrenaline over :) Ok so after a short trot we walk and chill - the original plan for the day. But after about three minutes she was ready to go again. Suddenly alert and looking around and back in power mode. ummmmm ok pony. We played the "letsgoletsgoletsgo okI'mdone" game a few times. Like she was feeling high but just didn't quite have the energy to pull it off. hahaha

Obviously didn't ride for very long, but the time we did was amusing. To me at least :)

Stupid Should Hurt

This post is dedicated to those of you who I teach who don't believe me when I tell you I understand how you feel when things go disaterously wrong... Read on :) And to anybody else who can read this, laugh (*with* me that is :) and say "I've been there." Enjoy!

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So today was Sienna's first outing.

Short version: the good (if you stretch your imagination - creative writing at its finest!), the bad and the ugly -- all occurred on one day!

Long version (you've been warned):

It's been stunningly gorgeous for weeks, so of course they were forecasting rain and snow for show day. Sheesh.

Friday I have a lesson. I get told about the walk - "Nothing less than an 8 on the free-walk is acceptable" which pretty much had me rolling my eyes since I've seen an 8 walk from my horse exactly once -- and that was on a solo hack on the way home. hahaha but then I discovered my coach was serious (imagine that :) and sobered up appropriately *g* Jumping was great but minimal "want to save her for tomorrow." ummmmm no, my whole plan with a lesson the day before was to tire her out so she'd be potentially ridable at the show. But ok...

Fri aft I find out they're running XC too. Woohoo! Get in touch w/ Bob (who owns GV with his wife Sarah) to get myself on the last-minute addition list :) hahaha N being super-kewl, he agreed to that. So now very excited.

Nicole, amazing supergroom, agreed to take a day "study break" during exams and come help -- being all dedicated she did, in fact, bring study material with her. For the kinds of courses that have "right" answers. Where's the fun in that? hahaha -- anyways, she met me at the barn after her 9:00 exam ended last night and crashed at my place so we could go early in the am.

We had the most amazing times ever, didn't have to be in dressage till 10:45. Work back with me - 10:45 ride time, on by 9:30 (seem excessive? Yeah, you haven't met my horse), at farm by 9, leave at 7, at barn by 6:30, leave house @ 6 -- which means getting up at pretty well exactly the same time I do every day. Much better than three am though :)

Now, you have to understand, I've driven the route to GV/GO/WW probably about 75 times over the last 10 years, and my navigational abilities are generally pretty impressive -- yet somehow I managed to miss the 400?!?! How does one do that? Seriously. And coming home I managed to miss the turn that takes you back to 11. The turn I've made so many times I can (and have!) done it in my sleep! Even asked N, in all the years she's been driving places with me, have I ever missed a turn? Nope... But today I did it twice, and *almost* a third time. Not quite sure which little part of my brain I forgot to pack today, but really need to relocate it. Very soon. Preferably before I try to ride again.

Get to the farm -- only disadvantage to a civilized ride time is everybody else is already there. Means I have to back the trailer in, and to a specific space off a turn. Yikes. But I did it -- and it only took a couple tries *g* N's comment while I was attempting this was "nobody's judging you . . . yet!" hahaha well it amused me anyways :)

So pony comes off trailer a little high, but not bad. It's snowing so we add an extra blanket before I head off to the secretary. All organized and ready to go we tack up and head down to dressage. Or try to anyways. There was lots of scary stuff along the way. Only *almost* trampled two pedestrians -- fortunately for me they were of the horse-people variety and could see very well what was going to happen and got out of the way :)

In the warmup Si was a *little* high. And then I finally got her settled and somebody else came in with a very squeaky saddle. Well horses are *not* supposed to squeak! Had quite the meltdown about that. Never really did get over it, but the other rider showsheened her saddle so it wouldn't squeak :) hahaha It lasted for her till about 3/4 of the way through her test -- *almost* long enough. As for Sienna, after about an hour (no exaggeration there) she finally chilled enough to work. Did really well. Till we went over to the actual ring. And couldn't even make it around the outside.

The judge was amazingly patient. Took one look, assessed the situation and told me to take my time. I don't know if the person before me got a small novel on her test or not, but it's entirely possible. Asked me if it was her first show, no but close to and first one of the year. When we finally made it all the way to the booth she told me she'd ring the bell when I got around the corner "so don't fall off" hahaha. All good.

We put in a nightmare of a test. Entirely ADD. Incorrect bend (or pretzel bend) throughout pretty much the entire thing. Accuracy? Yeah we weren't even pretending we could do that. On the bit? hahaha to steal an image - does Giraffe on crack mean anything to you? (If not, you *really* have to go read the $700 Pony :) We did stay in the ring, in roughly the right gait, riding something that vaguely resembeled the instructions on the test. But the whole soft, supple, attentive idea? Yeah not so much. We almost made step one on the dr scale - rhythm was almost acceptable. Suppleness? hahahahahahaahahaha

It was not my worst test ever (Parker will hopefully forever hold that title!) but it's entirely possible it counts for second. Went back to the warmup ring after to relocate her little mind again and then once we got one decent transition hopped off and left it at that. Quit while you're ahead -- even if it's only by a baby-step.

So take pony back and untack her, convince Nicole to find another layer of clothing (it was *not* good standing around weather!) and then leave Sienna in N's amazing care and go to walk XC and stad. Both of which look amazing. XC had some of everything (bank, baby-ditch, water, steps) - fun fun fun. N stad was fair, very inviting, nice big turns and of course perfect footing (love the spring shows there :).

Knowing that we'll be starting all over again in the stad w/u, I tacked up early. N for the first half of the w/u we were ummmm bouncing. Cause of course everybody is cantering and jumping (T level @ that) and this is way too much for my little tracky. Now when she loses her little mind, the fastest way for me to get it back is lots of little turns, bending, serpentines, changing directions, etc. This is not possible in a jump w/u ring because these turns would put you directly in the way of other riders jumping. So the first part of the w/u was brilliance or disaster -- going away from home was quiet, round and lovely; going towards home was on speed. But then I got lucky in that there was quite the break between T and PT, where I had the ring to myself for a while. Got superpony jumping then when all was quiet and had her chilled before other horses arrived. Got some *serious* air time our first few times over the vert, which then made it harder cause it scared her which made her launch even higher the next time. *sigh* but eventually she chilled a little and started jumping it reasonably. Had a bit of trouble the 2nd or 3rd time we tried the oxer - landed on it, demolishing it and sending poles everywhere. Very kind person reset the fence for us and the next time she was not having anything to do w/ it. Uh uh, that was SCARY. Third try, one stride out she hesitates. Mr crop outweighs hesitation. Cleared it by a foot high and about two wide - to applause from random people watching this. Next couple attemps she jumped properly.

So in we go. She's looking at things, but not bad. First fence, beautiful. Textbook perfect. Landed and scooted a little, but came back to me. 2nd fence also beautiful and landing properly this time (and lots of people were having trouble getting to this one properly). Hesitated a little at three but took it in stride. But fence 4... Oh fence four. We got there bang on stride. But somewhere in her being so incredibly ridable and so good, I forgot that I can count the number of stadium rounds she's ever seen on one hand. Well it was a looky gate, of the type she's never seen, and I didn't ride it. And I knew better. And never even clued in. And as a result, I wasn't as defensive as I should've been. And when she propped instead being back and in position for a tap or a cluck, I ended up forward in position for her to spin out under me. I ended up on her neck -- and for a few strides I thought I might salvage it. Held the neck-riding thing a rediculously long time (at the canter might I add!) until she had enough of her rider's insanity and tossed her head - putting me that much higher in the air before landing on my back on the ground. Could literally hear the crowd's reaction to that. Ugh. Left the ring, remounted, waved the paramedic off (in that order -- they argue less once you're already on the horse) and jumped a few more w/u fences, which was kinda pointless as she was entirely apathetic about those by that point. Dismounted after a good fence and realized that I perhaps don't bounce as well as I used to. Was starting to feel really sore and, given our less than brill performance so far, decided to scrap XC. Sometimes you have to know when to stop.

Chatting with people afterwards -- apparently there were wagers being made on whether I'd stick it or not. hahaha classic. Go into the office to pick up my dressage test (more for posterity's sake than anything) and Bob (who coaches me XC whenever I can possibly arrange it :) was there. He looks at me, "What happened?" Frig. I didn't even bother to explain. "Can we come school next weekend?" "I think you'd better." hahahaha Apparently he didn't actually see it, just heard about it later. That's prob for the best >;-P

So for a laugh I looked at the dressage test on my way back to the trailer. Mostly 5s and 6s (like I said, the judge was super-kind) and the comments ignored all the obvious serious flaws and focused mostly on the incorrect bend/right head tilt issue -- which she mentioned to me after the test (I like it when the tests end @ G cause you get more of a chance to chat with the judge :). Fortunately I know about these already and I know they pretty well go away when I locate the brain (she tips her head right and the brain falls out the left ear. Putting the brain back in, straightens her out). And then I got to the mark for the free walk. Remember waaaayyyy back at the beginning of this post a few hours ago? Yup, we did it. An 8. hahahahaha Oh comeon - we had to do *something* right!

So let's see down sides:
- it was snowing
- horrendous flat test (we're not even going to pretend that was dressage)
- ate some dirt, and worse - deserved it
- never ended up going xc

up sides:
- lost Sienna's brain THREE times (how is that up? Stay with me here) AND managed to relocate it each time.
- survived two warmup rings
- Nicole learned all sorts of new skills involving navigating the world with giant mitts on - unwrapping Banana bread and working the camera were two of the more impressive
- had fun socializing with all sorts of people I don't get to see nearly often enough and learned little bits more about some of those I know only vaguely
- discovered what we need to work on (and the list should keep us entertained for quite a while!)
- Superpony eventually chilled out and got to deal with all sorts of strange and unusual things in w/u under semi-controllable conditions
- met the only goal I actually agreed to (hmmmm might want to raise the bar a little next time :)
- when I was riding, I was riding really well(next time though I think I'll *keep* riding till I intentionally dismount!)
- the sun came out (thanks N!)
- looking forward to schooling next weekend.

And this is how a technically horrendous show can still leave me smiling at the end of the day.

Simply enchanting

hahahha so had a good laugh today -- was writing a press release today and mistyped "enhanced" so hit the auto-spell-correct without really looking at it. When I reviewed it later it was to learn that the user experience was enchanted. LOVED it. And were it my product, I'd probably have gone with that :) Sometimes mistakes lead to an even better product. Unfortunately, not my project so I changed it back to what it should've been, but still amused by it.

So emotional swings like crazy today. In lesson today got a "great". Quiet, one word, so little. Yet so much. High. Half an hour later. "Stop, what was that?" *Lauren fills in details - most of which resolve around stupid mistake* "Right. Go do it better." Low. High - super excited to discover GV is adding XC to the CT tomorrow (in the snow?!?!). Low - seconds later, literally, getting a message from a "friend" leaving me feeling completely betrayed. High - got a fun new project at work. And on and on and on. It just seemed like every second something was changing from one extreme to the other. And all external sources -- today, at least, it wasn't just me being hormonal >;-P

Entertaining lesson today -- gymnastic, 1 to a 2 or 2 to a 1 depending which way you go. The trick was that it started with three barrels, then two barrels, then ideally 1 - but we were out of barrels so the last one was a mounting box with a skinny pole on it. hahaha How well can you hold a line? Si was a superstar though. It was entirely a mental exercise though and not particularly physically difficult -- a problem since I was hoping she would be at least slightly tired tomorrow. Oops. hahaha well we shall see.

First show tomorrow. Has been stunningly gorgeous all spring -- so of course it's supposed to be snowing and raining tomorrow. Sheesh.

Sleep now.

Flash Fiction 33: Spin the dice

The little red vw bug was everything she'd dreamed of -- complete with the hideously wonderful pink fuzzy dice. She sat in the driver's seat and let the pride and excitement fill her. She'd bought it. With her OWN money. To travel across the country -- one great adventure before settling down to being, ugh, an adult. When would she ever be able to take two months off again? Possibly not until she retired. So despite her parents' pressure to get a real job and start paying off the student loans, Ellie was going adventuring. In her little red bug with her perfect pink dice.

She turned the key and the car revved to life. Pulling out of her parking spot she fiddled with her ipod, trying to find the perfect song to start out her adventure. Finding a song that brought her instantly back to highschool, she cranked the volume and smiled as she drove out. She made it about 10 minutes before hitting the reality that is traffic. Apparently just because she was going adventuring didn't mean everybody else was going to skip the daily commute and let her have the highway.

Sitting still in the fast lane, she amused herself by making the fuzzy pink dice swing as she daydreamed of the things she might do over the next few months. Her only plan was that she had no plan. Drive till she felt like stopping. Visit small towns. Take sideroads and photos. Tons of photos. Thinking of that she reached over and dug her camera out of her bag on the seat beside her. Knowing she shouldn't be taking photos while driving, she ascertained the risk to be essentially non-existent; what could she hit when she and everybody around her was sitting still? Her car wasn't even in gear. Focusing the camera on her dice she started them swinging again. Playing to see what would give her the best effect, she separated the two dice and let them fall towards each other.

She snapped the picture a second before the dice hit, and glanced down to see the image on her digital screen. She felt a small thud; hardly believing somebody could've rear-ended her when nobody was moving she quickly looked up hoping she hadn't missed the cars in front starting up again while playing with her camera.
But there were no cars.

Stunned and very puzzled she looked behind her to see a transport truck lying on its side, emergency vehicles all around it, and a steady trickle of cars being filtered through on the shoulder, one at a time. Somehow, unbelievably, she appeared to be on the other side of the traffic jam. Putting her car in gear with shaking hands, she quickly merged with the filtering traffic, before anybody noticed her little red bug sitting where no car should be.

Weird. Very weird. But handy. Puzzling over what could possibly have happened, Ellie decided she'd never know and it was best not to tell anybody about it. Randomly warping to the front of a traffic accident, while a convenient skill, was not one many people would believe in.

She settled in to drive for several hours -- she wasn't planning to do long drives very often on her trip, but she was still way too close to home to be worth stopping. The highway stretched long in front of her. Horizon framed by a brilliant blue sky. She lowered the windows, letting the tornado whirl through and blaring the music accordingly. Spinning the dice for the pure pleasure of it she laughed out loud in the enjoyment of the moment.

Her contacts became fuzzy and she rubbed them to clear them again. Only to see a sign for Manitoba???? She shrugged it off, still several hours from there. But shortly she realized she had indeed crossed the boarder. Ok starting to get just a little weird. It didn't take her long to figure it out. Testing her theory, still wondering if she was losing her little mind, Ellie banged the dice together while thinking of her friend Sarah's place in BC. Next thing she knew she was sitting in her driveway. Fastest cross-country trip EVER.

Amazed at her new abilities Ellie couldn't help but test them out. Knocking the dice together, she found herself by a beach in LA. She'd never even been there before! Just thought "LA beach". And all of a sudden Ellie's summer trip took on new life. A tap of the dice and she was in Paris. She'd always wanted to go to Paris. Never thought she'd be able to afford to. Took a picture of her, her little red bug, and the Eiffel tower and then let the dice swing before anybody noticed her mislocated Canadian license plates. Next stop, the pyramids.

She spent two months traveling the world, never staying anywhere long having neither local currency nor appropriate paperwork, but enjoying every minute of it and taking tons of photos nobody would ever believe. Landing her car on top of Ayers Rock had her slightly concerned, but after a brief photo op, the dice took her to Sydney before anybody noticed. Out of money and nearing the time she was to arrive home, she decided on one last stop at Sarah's home -- this time she'd actually go in rather than sitting in the driveway.

She separated the dice once more and let gravity and magic do their thing, but as the dice hit, the worn string gave and the fuzzy dice broke. When she looked up in dismay it was to find herself in the middle of a farmer's wheat field. She managed to extricate the little red car and driving for a while was pleased to discover first, that the signs were in English, and then half an hour later her heart returned to normal when pulling into a gas station, she was able to confirm she was in Canada. Northern Saskatchewan rather than BC, but at least the right country.

She drove her little car home the old fashioned way -- seeing at least part of the country she had planned to travel on the way. The dice were ceremoniously duct-taped together (with pink duct-tape of course), but by this point their only power was holding the memory of a magical summer experienced by a girl and her bug.

For the curious...

So I gotta say I'm always interested in the feedback I get from my Flash Fiction. And usually really surprised. Cause almost without fail, the ones I think are barely worth posting are the ones that get the best reviews. hahaha ah well what can ya do eh?

Had fun teaching the last few days :) Always fun when lightbulbs turn on and students ride brilliantly :) Or even when the baby-steps are accomplished! For the person I was trying to describe a chevron to yesterday -- not the best pic ever, but this is the type of jump I was talking about:

A skinny fence made of a triangle with the wide end at the top. Also sometimes called a shark's tooth.

Ok back to work. One of those never ending days...

Sunny Sunday fun and games

So I know now why my horse didn't make it as a race horse. hahaha she wants to be second! Seriously -- raced her (ummm that'd be a two of us galloping each other on the trails, not go to the track racing) this weekend and she was pretty apathetic about it while she was in the lead, but as soon as she was passed she was all about keeping up. Could not convince her to pass though -- she wanted to be right there with him, but not ahead. Herd instinct at its finest eh? Prob why she's second in the field too -- doesn't quite want to be in charge.

That being said, too slow for the track is still way fast enough for eventing :) hahaha soooooo much fun on that hack. Haven't enjoyed riding quite that much in a long time -- prob since the day we went hunting last summer.

Sienna was so funny -- took her off the trailer and she was all bouncy "omg we're here again" and then she turned around and saw the other horses, "oh ok then, nothing to it" and went in search of the best grass. Instant off switch. Was very impressed though that throughout the whole ride she was ratable -- which I was thoroughly surprised by. Even when the others left her, she was alert but not traumatized by it. Yeah my pony's growing up! And that first gallop we went on (which I didn't realize till much later was lead by two who were being run away with. hahahah I just assumed they were going on purpose :) she was good about it -- same thing, wanted to be in second, but still willing to listen to rider input *g* So that's always a good sign.

Anyways - what a great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon :)

This place seems strangely familiar...


hahaha yeah so Anna sent me that and it made me laugh n laugh so I thought I'd share :)

So do any of you remember the old text-based adventure games? (yeah I *might* be dating myself a bit here). Think no graphics. "You have entered a room. There are no windows. There is a table in the middle and three wooden doors. What do you do?"

And you'd type a command, say "Look at table" and invariably it'd reply,

"I'm sorry, I do not understand." So you'd valiantly try again: "Look on table."

"You see a tall purple vase. It has three red flowers emitting a sweet scent and one white flower that is faded next to the others."

"Smash vase."

"I'm sorry, I do not understand."

And so on :) Ok comeon tell me I'm not the only one who played these? Anyways, if you've nostalgic memories about "adventure" games of yore, you have to check out Lost in a Forest. hahaha it amused me anyways. But then, as we've already seen, that doesn't take much. I do have to wonder though -- is it really worth the $ to register the domains? :)

First show next weekend. And I'm totally hyped about it. I don't remember the last time I was hyped about a show. Methinks this is not a good thing. Not when my pony picks up on my adrenaline -- she has enough of her own! On the plus side, it's making me feel like a little kid again so that's always fun :) hahaha could be, ummmm, interesting :) Esp as she still doesn't jump more than about three fences in a row without loosing her little mind... And is only *just* (like as of today) figuring out how to judge the width of square oxers. She has a tendency to put the highest point of the arc over the back rail -- making the jump about twice as wide as it should be. Like I said -- interesting >;-P Thankfully Supergroom has agreed to come assist :) hahaha I'm sure at least one of us will have a brain that day. Best case scenario it'd be the one with four legs, but I'm not holding my breath on that *g* I always find it amazing that I can take 15 riders to the show and have everybody organized and in the right place at the right time, but with just one -- esp if it's just mine -- I suddenly need help. Probably because it seems too easy so I don't put the effort into organizing it I should; but then, that's why I have such amazing students to help me out. hahaha

Lesson today was a blast. Had a good laugh when I realized that my coach is as creative in his jump building as I am :) I've literally never had a coach who thinks that way before. The gymnastic we were doing is one I've never done before -- also a fairly rare occurrence. On a curving line a little bounce, two strided to a big square oxer, two strides to a little bounce. The issue being we only had four sets of standards. So the first and last of the bounce fences had to be made out of creative materials :) He made one out of precariously balanced cavaletti (do *not* knock this one over! -- sound familiar anybody?) hahaha and the other one he put the mounting box in the middle and balanced the pole on top of it. Si definitely took a good look at that. And the BM walked in the door with "what is THAT?" -- hahaha she (and her coach for that matter) is often amused by what her one lone "crazy eventer" sets up :) "Next time your coach sets up something insane, text me so I can come watch." hahaha not so likely to happen, but amused me nonetheless. Sienna didn't even blink at the cavelleti creation (but then, I've built strange and unusual fences with those before). She definitely backed off the "pole on mounting box" jump but did jump it on the first try, and with nearly perfect form (since she'd been rushing the other way, backed off put her right about where I needed her to be).



Yeah so I had to take a pic of this one, mostly to prove that I'm not the *only* one who will occasionally improvise in jump construction (anyone remember Stonehenge in L's hay field? hahaha) Primary down side being of course you can't raise the fence *g* Very sad that at this angle the T sized oxer looks like about PE *g* hahaha ah well :) If only it rode as easily!

Had a good laugh the first time we came off Sienna's difficult direction. It was, shall we say, less than perfect. And when she landed I gave her a good pat anyways. So my coach calls me over. "Ok analyze," he tells me. "Well we came in with a serious left drift and got in way too tight to the first one, which landed us too collected and too far off the line to get the two so asked her to stick in the three which meant she had to cat-leap the oxer. Which despite the laws of physics she managed to do, so I patted her." Now I have no idea what he was expecting me to say, but he gave me the strangest look and says "yes, that's exactly what happened. Now go do it right." hahahaha You'd think by now he'd realize my analytical abilities are generally fairly well developed - esp as he has a fairly good read on my riding and where the mental blocks lie. For the record we did do it correctly after that. Several times :) Pony was jumping really well. So much fun :)

Flash Fiction 32: How Does Your Story End?

This week's challenge: the world as seen by an inanimate object. ("K: one, Inanimate Object: zero" -- sorry very old inside joke, couldn't resist :) Anyways back to our regularly scheduled program: the inanimate object in question - a seat on a train. Enjoy!

-----

Every day I go back and forth on the same route over and over again. And yet every trip is different. I'm occupied by fat people and thin people, by the elderly and by children who bounce rather than sit. And sometimes by the feet of the manner-less sitting across the aisle. And sometimes by nobody at all. Those trips are sad and pass slowly -- every stop the hope one might choose me, and every stop a disappointment. But that doesn't happen all that often, after all, I am a window seat -- an upstairs window seat at that!

I travel the Lakeshore route -- back and forth every day. I have some regulars; people are creatures of habit you know. The Power Lady at 5:45 in the am and 7:42 pm; she usually spends the am ride typing and the pm ride on the phone. But quietly. She makes her point without interrupting the other passengers. Always she is working and always she is alone. I wonder if that changes when she's not with me.

There are the nine to five gangs -- people who travel in groups of four. There are several of these groups and I get one of them each day. These ones speak animatedly of their lives. I almost never hear about their work -- instead it's the trouble Bradly got into being smarter than his teacher at school, or the great game on TV, or what Greg's going to get his wife for valentine's day. Every day a new story from the same people. For an hour each day I learn their lives -- simple lives perhaps, but full.

I enjoy these people. They are familiar and comfortable in that familiarity. But perhaps even more interesting are the ones I only meet once.

The young child so excited to be on his first train ride. And the understanding mother who allows his enthusiasm while keeping his behaviour in the realm of appropriate. How wonderful to see the sights, to feel every train sway and hear every announcement as though it were fresh and exciting. It leaves me hopeful for the future.

The child disembarks to be replaced by an elderly man, who holds his wife's hand the entire ride. Neither speaking. Neither needing to. Having said it all in decades of togetherness, and now comfortable with the silence. Yet still holding hands.

And then there's the young lady. She sits alone, silent, staring at the world passing outside and seeing nothing. A single tear rolls down her cheek. I wish I could tell her it would be ok, but I can't. I don't know that it will. I'll never know.

And perhaps that's the hardest part of my existence. I never get to know the ending to any story. Some people I see every day for years and then they disappear; I never learn where they've gone or what they've done. Some I only meet once, but even in that time I come to care what happens next, and I've no way to find out. Imagine watching all but the last ten minutes of a really great movie. That's what my every day is like. So tell me, if you please, how does your story end?

A walk in the park :)

Lesson yesterday was amazing. Nothing new or terribly exciting, just really good, with all the pieces coming together. Excellent start to a long weekend :)

Ok so continuing the grand tradtion of short stories...

Short version: Today Sienna and I went for a trail ride. It was entertaining. She's an awesome little horse. The end.

For those who might be interested in a *little* more detail, enjoy :)

So today I really wanted to go hacking. K had other commitments so I called around and asked a few other people -- all interested but for a variety of reasons unable to come play. So no worries, put Sienna on the trailer and off we go to the rail trail :)

Yeah so it might be the first hack of the year. And it might be the first time Sienna's been on a trail alone. And that combination might traditionally be a bad idea. But no problem :) So I take her off the trailer and other than being very concerned about the upsidedown swans and the geese making all kinds of noise on the nearby pond was pretty kewl with the whole idea.

We met our first new friends of the day while I was tacking up. Chatting with the hikers passing through the parking lot and amused by the older woman on her nature walk who waited so patiently so she could take a pic of Sienna.

Sienna actually stood while I got on her -- which made things not work out so well since I was definitely expecting her to shoot forwards. hahaha my balance was way off for her standing still! But that's ok. Waved goodbye to our new friends and headed off down the trail.

I figure on that first km we traveled about three, since almost every stride required a jump sideways while Sienna inspected something. A leaf. A shadow. A squirrel. The frogs were a particular issue cause she could hear them but not see them. Although the scariest item by far was the little patch of snow. hahaha I seem to remember that from last year though so all good :) The cyclists, and better yet the dobermans were, of course, absolutely no problem. Classic.

She was really looky but not bad -- no bucking/bolting/etc and only one instance of stand on hind legs and spin :) And even that was a rather half-hearted attempt. So we went out at walk and trot until she was reasonably settled in the walk (trot was still pretty high, but ok). Lots of sideways -- rarely more than three strides in any given direction. Anyways -- get to the point where she's starting to relax a little and then turn around.

And we instantly have a new horse. hahaha omg such a classic move. Now she's been on this trail before, but never has she turned around and gone back -- always I've gone with another rider and we've arranged it for a trailer at the other end of the trail so we don't have to go back. But despite that, she knew fully well that turning around meant going home. That or at least going somewhere less scary cause she'd already inspected everything on the path! All of a sudden we're cantering in place. Very impressive if I'd asked for it! After some discussion she agreed to walk. The biggest walk I've ever seen. And in a perfectly straight line -- no shying at anything. hahaha but that's all good -- now I know she's capable of it! Every once in a while she'd jig to see if the walk rule was still in place. It was. hahaha

The one thing that stopped her? The one thing too scary to power-walk by? Yeah, that'd be a log. Does not bode so well for her eventing career *g* Not too concerned, I suspect if I'd asked her to jump over it there would've been no problem :) Just made me laugh.

In the very last stretch of trail she finally chilled. Really relaxed and walked along happily. It was then that we met the kids. Coming up behind us on bikes -- Si's pretty kewl w/ bikes, but coming up behind her is still scary, so I turned her to face them. But then the lead kid stopped right beside her, "she's so big! Can I pet her?" (by this point the parents have caught up. I look @ Si and consider for a second, but she's still telling me she's chilled. Ummmmm "ok -- but you have to put your bikes way over there," I told him as he tried to ride right up to her. So he and his sister put their bikes over at the edge of the trail and came up to pat her. I told them to pat her shoulder first and then maybe she'd let them pat her face.

Well I'll tell ya, I've seen it before but it still surprises me every time, Sienna seems to love kids. Tilts her head right down to their level, ears forward, lets them pat her face and generally seems happy about the whole scenario. No dancing around or silliness. Once they stop patting her though, it's time to go. hahaha so I had to extract us and we went back away from the trailer a bit till the family got reorganized and off on their way.

I was amused in that our walk back took about the same amount of time as our trot out had been. Amazing what a difference a straight line and some forward momentum can make :)

Friday Flash Fiction 31: True Love

My world ended over tofu-burgers during a dinner break.

"I'm going to take the job at Mount Sinai," he told me.

"Wow! Congrats," I replied, with all the enthusiasm I could muster. Truth be told, the news made me smile while it broke my heart. "It's an amazing opportunity," I encouraged. An amazing opportunity on the other side of the country. Why couldn't he be a doctor here?

He lit up, as though my validation were the deciding factor, "I'm so excited!" and truth be told, he looked ten years younger. The stress left his face and was replaced by idealistic enthusiasm. "I'm giving my resignation right after dinner," he announced as we sat in the sunshine finishing our burgers and watching the ocean.

"Well at least the junk-food will be better there," I said with a grin, acknowledging the unfortunate healthy substitute we Californians prided ourselves on.

"I don't know what I'm going to do without you!" he stated seriously, but the sheer joy radiating from him made me think he'd miss me only slightly more than the tofu-burgers. To be thought of once-in-a-while in a nostalgic memory about the girl he'd been friends with once.

"I'm sure you'll be just fine," I stated with complete sincerity. I, on the other hand, maybe not so much.

"You'll have to come visit me." I made all the appropriate responses and continued to smile and nod while he told me of all his new plans; plans that did not include me; plans that would never again include me.

The two weeks passed too quickly. I flew with him to find the apartment, still his best friend for the moment. Never anything more. Truth be told I should've earned an Oscar for my acting those weeks.

I drove him to the airport. I never thought myself a masochist till that point, but evidently truth will out. "I'm sooo happy it all worked out!" I exclaimed as I hugged him at the departure gate. Truth be told, I lied. And he let it go -- either too excited to see it, or willing to allow me to salvage some pride. The look he gave me as he passed the gates made me think maybe the second.

I held it together all the way home. All the way up to my twelth floor apartment, where I finally gave in. My lungs constricted to the point where breath was barely possible and tears streamed down my face as the side he wasn't allowed to see, the side nobody was allowed to see, was allowed to mourn. And truth be told, I wish he could've loved me too.