Here there be dragons...

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

Running away to join the circus

So I rescheduled my lessons tonight, and when I explained to my students why they were all amused enough to be kewl with it. Why? Well I went to circus school. Seriously! One of those "well why not?" moments :)

Went to learn "aerial silks" at the Centre of Gravity (which has a coffee shop next to it called Sideshow hahaha made me laugh anyways :) Think Cirque du Soleil with long curtains hanging from the ceiling.



So after stretching on the ground, we did some strength/familiarity exercises with the silks. The first was to simply reach up, wrap one around each arm, hang and lift your knees to your chest 10 times. The interesting discovery here was just how stretchy the silks are! Not like holding on to a rope, when you put all your weight on these they stretch and you sink! Good to know :) This was followed by lying on the ground and lift yourself up to your feet hand over hand on the silk -- and then back down again.

Then the fun stuff began. Lesson one? How to climb! Wrap the silk outside-in (for the horsepeople out there - think opposite of how you'd wrap a polo :) around once and then on the second time around drape it over your foot. Then put your other foot on top, holding it in place; reach up as high as possible; pull your knees up, let the silks slide through your feet (keeping them wrapped the same way) then when there's no slack, stand up. Rinse and repeat! hahaha took me a minute or two to get the hang of it and then I was fast. It was a really kewl feeling. And it seemed to work that way for the others -- either they got it and were really good at it quickly, or they never got more than about a foot off the ground.



So next was some balance and coordination exercises. Somehow I ended up being first for everything. Somehow I always end up being first. hahaha with riding I'm ok with it, but here I had no more idea than anybody else what was going on. Sheesh. So holding the two silks together, Coach Emily tied a knot in them, making a swing of sorts. Step one? Get ON the swing! hahaha you basically hold one side of it, then kick both your legs up as high as possible and loop one of them through the silks. Fortunately for me this is not far off how one gets on a horse :) Slight advantage there. So getting in the swing was no problem, then it was stand up on one foot and hold your hands out to the side. Still no problem. Basic balance there :) Made for kind of a fun pic though *g*



I have to admit it was sort of interesting watching the others do this. All but one managed it, but there were definite degrees of . The one couldn't manage to get ON the swing, so our coach made a much lower knot so she could step onto it :) After that she was ok.

So then the fun and games -- sit on the swing, slide off the swing and flip over backwards. Then let go. ummmm I'm sorry, what??? Personally I liked "It seems counter-intuitive, but the farther back you go, the easier it is" uh huh, but how do I *get* to that point w/o dying? hmmmm Kinda like telling the horse that's bucking to go forward when all you really want to do is stop *g* And sure enough...



And then apply core body strength, flip around so you're hanging from your shoulders...



Now admittedly they were the two easiest things we did. But the first one required pretty serious guts for that first moment. hahaha

So we went from the easiest to one of the hardest. And this one was NOT worth the effort it took cause it didn't look all that impressive. hahaha difficult things should at least look kewl! This was a star -- so stand on the swing, spread your feet aside, push the silks away from you with your arms. No problem. Except that you're on two ropes tied at the top and the bottom, so the wider you spread them, the shakier it gets. My balance and core strength is reasonable, but I was shaking trying to hold that one!



After that, Emily took pity on me and told me to hold much higher, this puts the silks closer together and is significantly easier to hold. Watching the others do this after, I was sort of bemused to discover most of the people couldn't move their feet apart. That part was a non-issue for me. So once we finished the star, we moved to the reverse star. This one was really easy to hold, but tricky to get into. Slide your feet back together, then you have to take one out and wrap it around the outside of the rope -- so you're no longer actually standing with that foot on anything. No problem -- except then you have to do the same with the other foot! So until you get the other foot organized, you have to be able to hold yourself up. Once there though, it was just a matter of slip both arms through in front of the silks and good to go. No strength of balance to maintain this one, but only a couple of us actually managed to get there.



Next we had to learn a new skill. Starting on the ground. Take the silks together and wrap them around your leg and foot the same way as to climb (remember WAAAYYYY back to the beginning :) Then you pull down some slack from the top and loop it under your foot (so in essence there's a figure 8 around your foot). Ok. Took me a minute but I figured it out. No problem.

Except yeah, you have to do it w/o using your hands *sigh* Ok, still possible.

Except yeah, you have to do it in the air.

I'm sorry, what? Think this one through -- so far, we've learned to wrap the silk around one foot and hold it in place with the other one to climb. Ok so they said climb up about two jumps (3-4') and then work the knot. But as soon as you move the foot holding the silk in place, you're suspended entirely by your arms -- so how do you get the slack in the silk to wrap the second half of the 8? So basically you jump yourself up the silk so you're in the right place, then you lean way back so that your body makes an L with your legs out in front of you as though you were sitting on the ground, and your body straight up, hanging on to the silks from your arms and using serious ab muscles to hold this position (so the silk makes the angle of a triangle. Ascii art version: L\ THEN let go with the un-tied foot, push it against the now angled silk to create some slack and use that foot to tie the rest of the 8. Then use whatever arm and ab strength you've got left to stand yourself up.
Uh huh. Sure.

1st try! hahaha I was pretty proud of that. Esp when only one other person got it at all *g* But I worked for it. And while I'm at it? The reminder to make sure the bottom of the 8 goes across the ball of your foot. hahaha had a good laugh at that -- as if after decades of riding I'd put it anywhere else *g* As if I had that much control at all! I was just thrilled I accomplished something that vaguely resembled what was supposed to happen.



So then we moved on. Emily showed everybody how to fake the knot so we could do the next step "except you," she says looking at me, "you should do it properly." Oh gee, thanks. On the one hand, the next couple times were easier because I knew how the logistics work, on the other, by this point my body was starting to object, so I couldn't hold anything very long!

Now once you have your knot and are standing on it, bend the other knee up, holding the silk inbetween the leg and the hip, then tip sideways. Seriously. So you're lying parallel to the floor. Hold the bent knee with your lower hand (in my case right knee with left hand) and then let go of the rope. hahaha have to admit this one took me two tries. First time I couldn't get my balance right well enough to let go. Second time everything just felt right and I could've hung out there for a while :) I was pretty proud of that one too!



After that there was only one move left to learn (no pics of that one). The scissors. This is not something I'm going to be able to explain well, but if you know how to do scissors in valuting it's essentially the same thing only instead of your legs going behind you over the horse, they go sideways and as you twist, you grab the silks in the process so you end up able to hang. It must've taken me at least ten tries to get this and even then it was so loose I only ended up about 6" off the ground! hahaha One other girl got it much better than I did. Nobody else even came anywhere close. Nobody was taking pics of that one, but for the curious youtube saves the day:



So yeah, circus school was an absolute blast. Didn't laugh *quite* as hard as I did the day N and I were on the trampoline (another circus act? hmmmm should I be concerned) but I was much better at this one *g* Perhaps if the riding thing doesn't work out? >;-P

I suspect I'm going to be some sore tomorrow...

Riding Ruminations

So I was teaching last night (big surprise there eh?) and when I left my car to start just before 4:00, it told me it was 34 degrees out. By the time I was done teaching @ 9:30, I was cold. Huh??? Car tells me it's 19deg! Boooo. 19's still ok but not compared to 34! Then this morning it was 15. I'm really hoping this doesn't mean summer's already over :(

So on a different note, I've been asked a couple times in the last couple weeks why?

Why spend all that time, money, effort, and stress for evidently no return. Particularly to those deep in the business world, this is completely illogical. Esp as "you have other options" and "you have a good job, why would you leave that to muck stalls?" Why would you give up 9-5, benefits and vacation time for 24/7 and none of the above? -- and I admit, sometimes I question the sanity of that too. hahaha and yet I'm working very hard to make that happen. There are those who say that those who don't know, can never understand. As though there's a wall and those who get it are on one side, and those who don't will always watch on, bewildered, and not the least bit interested in crossing over. And then there are those whose answer is "it's as important as breathing" which of course gets instantly dismissed as overly dramatic since, let's be honest, very little is as important as breathing.

To me, it's not as important as breathing. I rarely go more than a minute without breathing (how long's the average stadium course? >;-P) yet I have, on occasion, gone months without riding - and survived! To me, it's like the perfect summer day. Where it's the ideal warmth -- that you're comfortable being outside but not melting in the sun. When the sky is so blue, if it were in a photo you'd assume it had been inexpertly touched-up since nature never reveals colours that pure. With just the occasional super fluffy cloud riding a gentle breeze passing buy. When you get to experience one of these days, it doesn't mean that everything in the world is instantly right. What it does mean is that the bad stuff doesn't seem *quite* so bad. Life is just a little lighter -- the focus shifts from the petty annoyances to the little things that are good. These kind of days are not necessary to survival -- in Canada we regularly go months without experiencing them -- but when they occur, they make the quality of life so much better. For me, the horses do the same thing. In the times that I haven't ridden, I've missed it of course, but life fills up the time and the money gets spent on other things and you don't really realize there's anything wrong. Until the day you end up back at the barn. And suddenly everything seems so right. And you can't help but smile. Like stepping off a plane onto a Caribbean island in February. Suddenly, the world is just that little bit better, stress is easier to deal with, frustration lessens and smiles come faster.

That is why. And when you find that thing which does it for you, you'll understand the passion/obsession/addiction (it's amazing how closely those are linked!) and then you'll find yourself struggling to explain to others "why".

And as for teaching? Well that's easy -- it's all about the lightbulb moments. That moment, when you see the light go on, when your student *really* gets it for the first time, and realizes just how different "it" is from what they've always had, that is why. Sometimes I think I'm more excited about these than the student :) hahaha Have had a few of those in the last couple weeks, n it's just the most amazing thing to see.

Or there's this version of why...: "Mucking stalls allows me to enjoy clarity of purpose. And at least I know when I've stepped in the sh*t. At work, I don't know that sometimes until I'm knee deep in it." hahaha sounds about right to me :)

This video was just too much fun not to share. Enjoy!

- Pony Prix What I wouldn't've given to do this as a kid.

#FridayFlash 41: Ransom

Eyebrows were raised when I said @ 9:30 this eve that I was going to write my Friday Flash. Apparently that seemed to be leaving it to the last minute or something. Clearly not as I still have a whole HOUR left in Friday! hahaha. Even more impressive -- I wrote part of this one twice. Started it, got about three paragraphs in, decided I hated it, deleted all but the first line, and started over. Then I finished this one but the ending didn't match the tone of the rest of the piece, so I rewrote that. Still not entirely sure about it -- suggestions?

Definitely not my usual style, but I hope you like it! Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading :)

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Ransom

I could've avoided all that trouble if only I'd taken the ransom note seriously.

But I mean seriously, who ransoms shoes? I mean yes, they were super-cute summer sling-backs that matched my sexy dress perfectly and made me just tall enough to seem petite rather than short. And yes, they cost me an ENTIRE paycheque. Which, by the way, I'd appreciate you not telling my mother. So yes, when I took them off at Lissa's party and couldn't find them in the morning for the walk of shame, I was more than slightly disappointed. But I had to get home and changed for work, so I left with nothing more than a cursory search.

Lissa, being the awesome friend she is, swore to me she'd tear the place apart to find them. She understands how hard it is to find the perfect shoes. Arguably a more important find than the perfect man. And to lose them just as easily. Harsh. Very harsh. So when her text came in a few hours later, I expected a joyous "Found!" or even "U owe me!" -- either of which would've been entirely reasonable. But "Call me asap!" was a bit of a puzzle. Lissa always speaks in exclamation marks though -- that same message could apply because she's being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery or because she's not sure which shade of nail polish to apply.

I didn’t even bother to make an excuse to my boss as to why I was stepping out of the office, just took my phone and went outside. I was reasonably certain this would not be deemed a professional conversation. “What’s up?” I asked when Lissa answered her phone.

“They’ve been ransomed!!!!”

Even for Lissa, that was excessive. “What? Who’s been ransomed?”

“Your shoes!” There was a moment of silence while my brain tried to process that information and form an appropriate response, but Lissa didn’t wait for me to catch up. “I found the note stuck to the closet door. ‘If you ever want to see the shoes again, you’ll meet me at David’s Pub on 44th street at 8:00 on Saturday evening.’ You have to go rescue your shoes!”

“Uh Lis,” I wondered how to point out the obvious, “whoever has the shoes probably thinks they’re yours.” Dead silence from my usually verbose friend. “They came out of your closet, at your party. Points for the most creative pickup line ever – but they’ve directed it at the wrong person.”

“No way!!!” Lissa stated vehemently, “I would NEVER wear shoes like that!”

“Hey! What’s wrong with my shoes? I love those shoes!”

“Oh I know you do, and they’re great for you. But for me? I’d look like an elephant walking on stilts if I tried to wear those.”

I considered this briefly before conceding the accuracy of the analogy. “But it doesn’t negate the fact that whoever the shoe thief…”

“shoe kidnapper!” Lissa interrupted, “or shoenapper? They do intend to give them back.”

“Ok whoever the shoenapper is, probably thinks they’re yours.”

“All the more reason for you to go then. You get your shoes back AND foil their plans in the process. Perfect!”

“Perfect except that I’m left meeting a strange guy in a bar to rescue my shoes.”

“Aren’t they worth it?” She had a good point.

And so it came to be that on Saturday night I was at David’s Pub, wearing totally uncute running shoes and looking decidedly short rather than sexy, wondering how I would know who was holding my shoes hostage.

“I'm glad you came,” the voice spoke from behind me. I turned to see the man I’d spent the first half of Lissa’s party trying to work up the courage to speak to. “I believe these are yours?” he asked, holding up my shoes. My eyes lit up; a petty girlish reaction but I couldn’t help it. They were amazing shoes. But as I reached for them, he held them out of reach. “The ransom is that you have to let me buy you dinner. Then you get your shoes back.”

I raised my eyebrows and looked down my nose at him, trying to do my best Mrs. Smith scary middle-school librarian impression. Let me tell you, it’s hard to look intimidating when you’re wearing running shoes and are a foot and a half shorter than the person you’re trying to look down on.

“And desert,” he added to his list of demands. Clearly my intimidation attempt had failed miserably. I pretended to consider the situation.

“I suppose I can live with that,” I agreed as he led the way to a window-booth. How could I help but be flattered that he’d apparently gone to all this effort for me. Not gorgeous TALL gregarious Lissa. Me. I was starting to regret the uncute running shoes.

I should’ve known then. I should’ve realized that anybody creative and dedicated enough to go to all that effort for a first date would turn my world upside down. If only I’d taken the ransom note seriously, I would’ve entirely avoided all the trouble that followed. All the practical jokes. My wedding shoes disappearing (heads nearly rolled for that one!). Learning to fear April Fools Day. But then I would also have missed out on the one man more important than even the best pair of sexy sling-backs.

Interesting people...

So I was at Blinds to Go today, looking to pick up some new blinds for work, and this woman storms in the front door "Where's my money?" absolutely livid. No way she's going to wait patiently in line, so the woman helping me turns to deal with her. "I paid you and then you upped the price so I want my money back. That was three weeks ago. I called the cops; if I don't have my money today they're coming with me tomorrow. Theft under $5000." She's going on and on and on and on. This poor sales lady is saying she has no money and can't give refunds here, that refunds have to come from head office. Even tries to call head office but gets vmail. Unhappy customer is telling sales lady she'll be held personally responsible since it's her name on the sales slip and they're going to arrest her for theft. Etc etc. Which seemed highly unlikely to me, but what do I know? I've heard of people threatening to sue before, but this seemed a far more impressive threat. By this point another sales lady has come and discretely led me away to help me on the other side of the store, but the client's conversation was clear, and from her words one could easily fill in what the sales lady must have said. Woman was just nasty -- on top of the over-the-top reaction of dragging the cops in (if that's actually more than just talk) she was personally attacking the sales lady along the lines of "you must be completely useless at your job. You say this was done and did you ever call to see if I got my cheque?" And I'm thinking of all the people who've paid me by cheque -- not one of them has ever called to see if I got it. hahaha and only once have I ever called somebody to see if they got it, and that was *months* after the fact when it still hadn't been cashed. I'm suspect if the cheque didn't make it to somebody, the recipient would track it down. I'm pretty sure that's fairly standard.

Most amusing part -- at one point when both sales ladies were turned away from the ranting customer, she turns to me, smiles and mouths "sorry" for holding me up. Made me think a whole lot of this was a rather intense act of the "squeaky wheel" variety. She stormed out just as I was finishing up, having been promised a call from head office whenever they got through to them and threatening to be back tomorrow cops in tow. Almost makes me want to go back tomorrow to see how it plays out :)

Random silliness for today: Blank Maps Seriously. Written by the same guy who published a dictionary entirely of one-letter words :)

And slightly more serious: History repeats itself - a blog that unfortunately seems to not be kept up any more, but whose archive is worth reading. Takes current (well as of 08) news and finds similar articles from the last century.

Read the latest Lee Child book this wknd n have to admit I was really disappointed. I usually really like his Jack Reacher books - great character. And one of them has about the best opening chapter ever. But in this one both A, Jack wasn't nearly as strong a character and B, the bad guy was blatantly obvious right from the beginning. Usually when a character is that obvious it turns out to be some fluke string of coincidences that makes them seem obvious, and the *real* bad guy is this character over here that you overlooked. And that's why I kept reading -- I was waiting to see how he came to be innocent and who the real one was. And was sorely disappointed. Boooo. Ok end of rant. :)

Sienna the DQ?

(from Graduate Riding School Blog)

So Sienna and I headed into DQ world this weekend. Yes on purpose. Sheesh >;-P

We get there (R came with me to help out -- thanks tons!) Unload Miss Sienna, who, seeing the grass, settles almost instantly to grazing :) Leaving her in good hands, I trek off in search of the secretary, get all checked in and find where I'm supposed to be etc. Go to find tack check since I had a technical question, but discover there is no tack check. *g* Gotta love schooling shows :) All good.

Get tacked up and dressed. I think we have to rethink the whole dressage gear thing. Now that we're not in the calvary anymore >;-P I mean seriously, *white* pants? In my case, thick breeches (warmest non-fleece ones I own). And full-seat at that. Ugh. Not fun. Then lets add to that a long-sleeve black jacket. Yeah there's a good idea in the hot summer sun! And tall black leather boots too. Fashion over comfort in a big way here. Alright moving on. If it weren't for the full-seat thing wouldn't've been so bad. Not as though it's not the same gear for eventing :)

Anyways - I was a little concerned that the ride over to the rings might be exciting, but Si was really kewl with it. Yeah hacking pony! She was really quiet, and warmed up well. I took her for a walk over closer to the ring -- what I found really amusing was that she couldn't care less about the flapping tent with the BBQ under it; no problem there at all. But the *rock* on the other side of the road, now that was to be feared!

Footing in the w/u ring was amazing. Just as a random sidenote :) Was pretty happy about that. And the in-gate steward was amazing. Seriously into her job, but friendly about it *g*

So first test we go in. Investigate the scary barrel that R warned me was causing grief. And the tents. And the ads. And the camera person. Then we were all good :) Went in and she did her best test ever. Now to put this in perspective, it did not even vaguely resemble traditional dressage. hahaha but there were entire sections where she was connected. The inverted giraffe didn't even feel the need to come play! woohoo! AND we even got at least one stride with a left bend. hahaha (the tenser she is the more she tilts and curls right -- it's quite dramatic at times). Alright. Sweet.

I was ready to go home at that point. It's hot. We put in a test better than anything she's ever done. First two goals accomplished. Second two, close enough :) All good. But yeah I knew we had to do more. Kinda the whole point.

hahaha so heading back to the trailer after the first test, I ran into a friend I haven't seen in a while. "What are you doing *here*???" he asked with appropriate disbelief. "Do you realize there are no jumps anywhere?" hahaha classic :)

Take her back where she's drinking as the bucket is filling up. Apparently she felt it was hot too. Happy about that though -- the whole drinking away from home thing is relatively knew still so I'm always happy to see that. Let her graze and chill for a bit while I memorize the next test. Hop back on and go for test two.

Easy w/u. Good test. I was thrilled. Still got a little run away with at the canter, but actually accomplished a left bend. Woohoo!

Last test... hmmm well in w/u she took serious objection to the letter S for some reason. That had me laughing. We'd just been wandering around on a long rein and suddenly we're 10ft away snorting. Classic. I swear she was just checking if I was awake. Test was the best one yet. We had an unfortunate return of the inverted giraffe and as a result had to skip a transition. (ummm cantering right, supposed to trot at C and walk @ M. Inverted giraffe on speed kicked in about H. "We need to go NOW!" just about when we needed to be stopping. So we skipped the trot entirely and came canter to walk rather abruptly (you WILL stop) at M. hahaha as I said, slightly less than traditional :). But the rest of the test was really really good. And the left bend was only slightly more of a fight than the right. Definite progress.

Not competitive yet -- but then, she was never meant to be highly competitive in dressage *g* We were in the ribbons and the top half of the class consistently, but not the top three. Ah Zel spoiled me in some ways. Moved that bar way up there *g* But since our last two or three times out we've been pretty much dead last after dr, this is serious progress!

To review -- goals for the day were:

Mandatory:
1. Keep horse between rider and ground.
2. Don't exit the dressage ring during the test.

Hopefully:
1. Achieve a left bend.
2. Have each round get progressively better.

And you know what? We got em all! So I was thrilled.

WAG and #FridayFlash 40: Fish Out of Water

Originally posted for WAG, I'm sharing for FridayFlash too mostly becaue it was one of those ones that left me shaking my head wondering "where did that come from?" and thankful I don't have a shrink to analyze it *g*

For those who are interested in such things, the challenge was: Sometimes it’s easy to tell when someone is out of their element. It can be their clothing, their manner, what they’re carrying with them… so many things give them away. This week, observe (or create) someone who is out of place and describe what tells you they’re a fish out of water. Your target can be a tourist, someone who is in an unfamiliar place/situation, someone at a new workplace, or any of a million times in our lives we can end up somewhere we’ve never been before.

Let me know what you think!

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A Fish Out of Water

“Like a fish out of water,” the woman said as she walked by. As if she couldn’t hear. As if it wouldn’t hurt.

She knew she was different, of course, but would it really be so hard for them to accept her? She expected it from her peers. Children are cruel, and teenagers evil her mother had told her, but when it came from the adults it made the situation seem particularly hopeless. Even if she did outgrow it, there would never be acceptance.

“Don’t go near the river.” It was the only truly unbreakable law. But how was she to know that? They’d only just moved in. Oh sure, she’d been told, but how serious a rule was it? I mean compared to don’t take drugs and stay away from strangers, going to see the river hardly seemed tragic.

And it probably wouldn’t’ve been if it hadn’t been for the other kids. Teenagers now, but mere children at the time. Picking on the new kid and flirting with danger all at once. What could be better? When they pushed her in, nothing was hurt but her pride. She could swim – and it was only a few inches deep anyways. She’d only swallowed a mouthful.

She’d been pleased by the horror on the adults’ faces; thinking for sure her tormentors would be punished. Until she realized the horror was directed at her.
She went home wet and alone. Her parents dried her off and assured her it’d get better. They might’ve even thought they were telling the truth.

That night she awoke choking. Her lungs screamed as she gasped desperately for air. She faded gratefully into unconsciousness as her father desperately applied the little CPR he could recall from a long ago first aid class and her mother ran for any assistance she could find.

They would tell her later what had happened. They would tell her about their elderly landlady insisting they fill a bath tub and put her in it. About how they were so scared of losing her, they tried it. They would tell her how terrified they were by her first transformation and how the wise woman warned them to be there at daybreak to get her out of the water.

They had to tell her because she couldn’t remember. And then she remembered all too well, as every night and every morning was met with terrifying suffocation and her days and nights were spent in fear.

It lasted until the gills broke through behind her ears. Once that happened she could manage the transformation far more smoothly. With that ability she began to venture out on her own; swimming and exploring the aqua world that was rapidly becoming home. Before long, she was spending her human days longing for her aquatic nights in the river where she was, if not entirely accepted, at least not shunned; she could move about the various social classes being claimed by none but accepted by all. Such was the way of the sea. By day, however, she was treated as though she were less – rather than more – than human. To them, she would forever be nothing more than a slightly unusual fish out of water.

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Rethinking the Football Career

Alright so sometimes you just need somebody on the ground.

Riding around warming up, pony's being good. Coach shows up. I lead strong "so our flat work's been brilliant" (no point in modesty :) and then balance it out "but it would seem I'm entirely incapable of jumping a fence." hmmmm problem. He, understandably, asks for more detail *g* after which it's "well we'll start with flat and go from there". Ok. Watches for a few minutes with a couple random comments, but not nearly the usual rapid-fire corrections. "She's going really well!" (should I be offended by the surprised tone? hahaha I TOLD him our flat work was brilliant. hahaha I do actually know how to evaluate these things. Unfortunately I also know how to evaluate our jumping.) So flat work basically gets skipped and we go straight to jumping.

"Between the two of us, we can only do one phase well per day." (hence why we're not eventing yet)

"You're going to prove yourself wrong now."

"Well I really can't lose then can I? Either I'm right, or I ride incredibly well. I'm ok with either of those." hahaha got quite the look for that one. Anyways, no surprise he sets up our "when all else fails" exercise. Pole, vert, pole. Sienna's been doing this since the brilliance or disaster days when ANYTHING was worthy of a 4' jump or crashing straight through. Anyways, point being by now she can do that gymnastic in her sleep and it allows both of us to get a feel for each other.

So we jump it. "Wasn't *that* bad" Felt horrible. Pony was a saint. Ok well try it again the other direction and focus on A.

Jump it again. Slightly better. Still bad. Do it again the other direction, focus on B.

Rinse and repeat till you get to about M :)

Ok so finally we're getting there reasonably consistently and I'm doing a better job of pretending I know how to ride. Sienna's still willing to give me glimpses of that amazing canter from the other day so that makes for some pretty incredible jumps.

Get a couple reasonable ones, both directions, that I was happy w/ (for both me AND Si :). Done right? Yeah no. Not so much. Now do the same gymnastic but off a significantly tighter turn. Great.

Now, on the plus side, I ride much better off a turn - always have. Turning can see my spot 8-10 strides out consistently and hit it fairly accurately. Straight, less good *g* Tricky part is, my horse has only gained the strength and the balance to make that kind of turn in the last few weeks. And that's just on the flat :) So making that turn while keeping enough impulsion and balance to jump is a bit of an art. But she did it :) 1st time, just about perfect (everything beautiful except landed on the wrong lead). 2nd time, not so hot. 3rd time perfect again - with the lead this time :)

Change direction. *sigh* This way we have serious issues with an outside drift that I've only *just* (like as of last week's lesson) been starting to get the hang of correcting (buttons in strange places on this horse -- it took us a few weeks to find them :). So it took a few tries to get it right here, but eventually we did.

Ok done right?

Comeon, you're not new here.

No, now we continue this game but instead of just making the tight turn TOO the fence, we're also going to make the tight turn AFTER the fence to a rollback. 1st time - perfect. Absolutely text-book perfect. Luck. 2nd time - perfect. Fluke. 3rd time - perfect. Skill. Not a fluke. I was ecstatic!

But that's not enough. Change direction. So now we're jumping the "new" fence first and rolling-back the other way to the original fence. On the plus side, this turn is the easier one. On the down side she's going to drift into it over the fence leaving less space for the turn. This is what I was thinking while planning my line. What I didn't plan on was leaving a stride n a half out, being left way behind, and landing flying. Boooo. Didn't even attempt the turn.

2nd try. Still left stupidly long. Still left behind - but this time I slipped my reins a ton so @ least superpony didn't get snagged for it. Then in true eventer style (like as in the reason we have a bad rep) made the turn with reins 8 miles too long and riding way behind the motion; DID at least get her to balance up the stride before the fence and the second fence was ok.

3rd try. This time got in super-deep (just for varieties sake) and cut way inside in the air (that's an impressive if somewhat scary trick). Basically did the Western spin thing to get her to the next fence, also super-deep. Ugh.

4th try. This time we *finally* managed it with some semblance of confidence and coordination. Jumped the first one on stride, landed in balance, made the turn correctly, and landed... On the off lead. So close.

5th try. We finally did it right. There are only TWO fences involved in this remember. Sad, very sad. But fwiw - when it was right, it was amazingly right :)

For some reason my coach didn't ask me to do it again. Perhaps not positive it wasn't a fluke? >;-P hahaha or should we put it down to the fact that my horse had been jumping for a very long time by this point and had earned the right to be done :) I like that idea better.

So my coach always offers my pony a mint after the lesson. Today he turned and offered it to me instead *g* hahaha got a good laugh out of that.

And we're good to go again :)

One of those rides. Twice.

This post is for any of my students (or anybody else for that matter) who has rides where they wonder if perhaps its time for a new sport.

Text message from me to my coach this eve:
"There are two things you should know: 1. My pony has qualified for sainthood. 2. Her rider has forgotten how to ride. Good luck tomorrow."
Response from coach: "I'll bring my good luck charm."

hahaha so that made me laugh.

What inspired the text?

Tues - most amazing flat ride ever. Jumped a few little fences in w/u just to cheat a little and get her using her back n then it was all about dressage. And I had a canter to die for by the end of it. And I actually looked at the inviting but pushing the edge of Sienna's current abilities 3'6" vert thinking, with this canter, that'd be no problem. And then clued in to the fact that if I jumped that with dr tack, it would not be beneficial to my pony. So ended on the awesome canter, cooled her out, tons of pats, and put her away.

But now for two days in a row I have been completely unable to ride a fence. On Wed, there was a minor hurricane going on and she wasn't entirely ummmm focused. It was also like riding in an oven (to be fair, I didn't notice the heat till we stopped, but both Si and I were pretty well lathered). Easy gymnastic, vert to oxer. Vert was a nothing trot speedbump. Oxer also not huge, bout 3'4 -- and nice and slopey (is that a word?) not square. So easy. Text-book striding. Si was pretty high the first couple times, but then she settled and jumped it beautifully several times in a row. At which point I stopped her because it wasn't HER fault her rider wasn't riding well, so why should she have to keep jumping? But I was just feeling out of it. Couldn't stay with her properly, reverting to old habits of being too high out of the saddle, all sorts of bad things. About all I did right was stay out of her way. *sigh* So I left that day feeling proud of my superpony but frustrated with myself.

Then today we could be back outside in nearly perfect weather. Course is set @ 2'9 which she's solid and confident w/ now. But 3 + she sometimes still looks at. Only one that was in that range -- two barrels standing upright with a random pole on top. Now she has jumped that exact jump before, but only a couple times and always set up w/ another fence first. So we jumped around the course a couple of times but I was still felt way off. And you know what? She never lost it. Not once. She did turn and give me an evil glare once *g* but that's about it. My timing, for the most part, was ok -- so not as bad as yesterday (yesterday a course would've been a bad idea), but my position was still rather ummmm interpretive. In fact I'd say the *only* thing I rode correctly was the stupid barrel jump and that's only cause about three strides out she says "you're kidding right?" so I had to answer her :) Anyways jumped a few courses and worked on replicating that amazing canter and holding it to a fence (yeah once that's consistent it's going to be something impressive). And then after a couple acceptable ones gave up and went back to flat for the rest of the ride.

So I came out of that ride incredibly frustrated with myself, and superproud of my pony that I trained to be good enough to cover my ass *g* (how sad is that?) Knowing that a year ago she would never have done that, for that matter three months ago she wouldn't've done that, does help balance the frustration but it's not as though this is a new skill here. And it's not as though she was doing anything bad I had to deal with. No no, she was being perfect and I was still nqr. Blah. Hence the heads up to my coach *g*

So we shall see tomorrow :)

In my world, time runs backwards.

Have you ever noticed that being really early for things makes you late? I was meeting a friend for dinner last night, but I finished early at the barn. So I got there w/ 1/2 hour to spare. No book to read. Ok well there's a Fairweather Outlet across the street - n I can't remember the last time I got new clothes. Go in and discover that on top of being an outlet, they're having a sale. Sweet. And they have stuff I like. Even better :)

So half an hour later when my phone buzzes I'm standing in the changeroom. "You still shopping?" hahaha had let her know how I was going to kill time. Quick text explaining where I am and that I'll be there shortly and we're all good. I get this response: "You're shopping for clothes???" "I'm desperate." "I thought you'd be @ Greenhawk." "My horse already HAS clothes!" hahaha well I was amused anyways. But the trip was successful. Couple new office outfits (most of which are fall-temps so have to wait a bit to wear them) and some great sport Ts that can be worn now :) All good. No petite section so no pants (normal ones are way too long...) Which was what I was most desperate for, but such is life. Found this super-cute, super-cheap office-appropriate dress, but the only one they had was about two sizes too big. Booo.

But I was sort of amused that in the end my excuse for being late was that I was too early *g* hahaha only in my world. I love my world >;-P

And now for your daily sappy moment. Fran sent me this. N I bawled. So I thought I'd share :) hahaha but I'm a suck so keep that in mind *g* Enjoy! (ed to add - when I posted it here it added a commercial to the beginning. Boo. Worth the 30 second wait though imho.)


Klenex Alert!

Leather, Tack and Tears

As somebody posted a good, reasonably horse related story on WAG (which I've started participating in), I thought I'd try n draw attention to it. Leather, Tack and Tears Enjoy!

PSS

Yes I know the subject line is wrong. Those for whom it was written will get it :) For everybody else, well you're probably a little saner for not knowing *g*

So yes the PPS (happy now?) -- fall into bed after the yesterday that wouldn't end, completely physically zonked. And promptly lie awake for the next two hours, mind spinning. Remember that whole brain/body disconnect that caused the stupid run in the first place? Yeah, evidently it stuck around. So very not amused. Going to be one of those weeks I imagine.


BP Spills Coffee - thought this was worth sharing :)

Ok now I was driving to work this am, a little tired (see p 2 above :), just enough to be both bemused and frustrated by being passed by a cyclist. Seriously. How hard I would've laughed if a cop had pulled him over for speeding *g* Now to be fair, the speed limit in this particular residential zone is 30. 30. That's not a typo. School zones with 6yo kids running out into the street go for 40, but apparently these residents need even more special attention than that. Don't know why, am pretty sure I'm better off not knowing why, do know I've already had enough of the Gardner construction and would like to go back to my normal route to work *sigh* Ah well. Seriously though - passed by a cyclist, while doing the speed limit, and the cyclist wasn't even working all that hard. Wrong on entirely too many levels.

Just cause it amused me: your word of the day! pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis  [noo-muh-noh-uhl-truh-mahy-kruh-skop-ik-sil-i-koh-vol-key-noh-koh-nee-oh-sis] "A facetious word alleged to mean 'a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust' but occurring chiefly as an instance of a very long word." [OED] Apparently the longest word in the English language. Now be sure to go use it in a sentence. You're welcome.

For the bored: http://www.lastnightsgarbage.com/ - a different way to reuse the refuse of New York. From inspiration for short stories, to instructions on how to change an old tv into a fish tank, to the history of clam farming. Enjoy (hmmm is that really appropriate for a site about garbage?)

PS

Ok so did you read the last post? Brutal run today.

Yeah so then I get to the barn, and somehow I hit a miraculous traffic hole that leaves me with enough time to ride were I so inclined before I start to teach. Thought about that for all of about 10 seconds. So not going to happen. Graze pony instead. I think Sienna's all for the running idea *g*.

Next go teach all night. And it's a definite brilliance or disaster night. Somebody set gravity too high and entirely too many people seem to be unintentionally dismounting; yet otoh, several of my students put in the best rides I've ever seen from them. That part was pretty impressive.

I'm finally through the last lesson. My legs are basically shaking holding me up (damn quads - stupid short fast miles mutter mutter mutter. Should NOT be so unfit. Ridiculous! ok back to regularly scheduled story). All I want to do is fall into my car and magically transport myself to bed. And then a student who was quite overmounted on a reasonably hot horse comes over and asks me if I could get on and show her how it's supposed to work. All I could think was "no, probably not." I suspect I even said it out loud *g* Filters don't work so well when I'm tired.

I wasn't even entirely convinced I could get ON the horse, much less ride it well. But that's my job. And part of the reason my students trust me is that I am entirely willing to get on and show them if they're having troubles (even if they hate me afterwards. S gets the award for that one after I got on and cantered her horse on the "impossible" lead on the first try and all I hear in the bg is "oh F..." hahahha) And sometimes I'll get on to figure out exactly what the trouble is. So the request was fair. But getting on a hot (and now spun) horse when I'm too tired to stand was not high on my priority list. But I did it. Not well by any stretch of the imagination, but I got on n walked and trotted horse around pretty much on the buckle to prove it could be done. N much as I think that horse would be a blast to jump, I had enough sense to know there was no way my body could handle 2-pt *g* so I didn't play over any of the fences. hahaha

And now I have earned the right to sleep. Night.

To run or not to run? Quit asking me stupid questions!

And here we learn yet another reason why running is BAD.

So I've been running a couple times/wk since... about the beginning of May I guess (ummmm minus the 2 wks of 30deg weather!). I run a 2k loop and usually do either 2 or 4 k (w/ a half-k walk to and from the start of my loop :). If I do 2, I run pretty hard; put some fairly serious effort into it and make good time (ummmm this'd be good time for *me* - not for anybody who actually runs! :) If I do 4 it's usually more of an easy jog *g* Mondays, which always follow my longest non-running break, so I'm generally pretty refreshed, are when I always consider upping it a little. And generally reject the idea :)

So today I decided it was time to up it a little. Figured I'd do an easy 6. (uh huh -- I was deluding myself given that I've never run 6k in my life. Same way the 4' square oxer is "only 2'6". I'm good at the mental games :) It's overcast and not too hot. Shouldn't be a problem. Uh huh -- till I get outside and it's super-muggy out. Ugh. Don't even want to walk!

Yeah so apparently my brain and my body were not communicating particularly well today. Brain was saying "long slow miles" body was saying "short fast miles". Fine - let the body win, but still, somehow, with thoughts of the 6k in the back of my head. Booted it around 3k with only slight consideration for the fact that this is much farther than I traditionally make it at this speed. But everything felt good. Breathing matched my stride, covering a reasonable amount of ground, happily daydreaming away (a definite sign I'm not working too hard :).

All good right? Yeah well clearly the running gods were NOT happy about this. They hit back hard! I rounded the the 3k mark still zipping along in my happy little world (everybody knows me there :) and then suddenly not zipping so much. Hands started shaking, legs felt like I had 80lb weights on them, and I was ridiculously nauseous. Ugh. No fun @ all. And an almost instantaneous change at that. Still not particularly puffing and my heart-rate came back down within a block or two. But the rest. Ugh. So far from making it to 6, I didn't even hit the 4 I usually do. Boooo. 3 fast and 1 walk. *sigh* Cause I definitely walked the last one back -- and if there'd been anywhere to stop and sit on the way, I absolutely would've done so.

Man. Cruel and unusual I tell you. And now? A couple hours later? NP so long as I don't try to squat or go up or down stairs. Just as well I'm not jumping or doing gallop sets tonight! hahaha 2 pt would so not be an option. Not sure what tomorrow'll feel like.

Wine and Cheese Anybody?

(from Graduate Riding School Blog)

So as some of you may know, Miss Sienna has some concerns about stadium. She's usually (not always, but usually) great in the w/u, but as soon as she's alone with scary fences her brain falls out her ear. And dangerously so because when she's in that mindset she has no self-preservation. No bucking or anything really silly, but will crash through the fence around the ring to get out of the ring. Or try and bolt while on wet footing and fall over. I'd almost rather Zel's bucking dramatics because at least I always knew her self-preservation instinct was high. *I* might get hurt in the game, but only if I were foolish enough to fall off. She wouldn't cause it or injure herself. Si could destroy us both in her frantic RUNFORYOURLIFE mode.

My solution to this is lots of practice. Which means jumper schooling shows. Ugh. (Can't go trillium w/o a passport n I don't want to do that this year) Anyways -- in this vein I was aware of the Wine and Cheese adult show on Thursday nights (and yes, there really is Wine and Cheese :). Starts at 5. Which means technically I don't even have to leave work early. So I had thoughts of taking my pony. But I was tired and it was threatening rain all day. Got to the barn and I was still debating with myself till finally I told myself "Self, smarten up. You're not going to get anything out of schooling at home. It's even sunny out now and not too hot. It's never going to get any better. Go train your horse." So I dutifully packed the trailer and loaded the horse and off I went. It was about 4:30 when we pulled out.

So I get there, leave her on the trailer to go register etc. Take a quick walk around the jumper ring -- fair course, footing is decent (which given all the rain I was concerned about). Nothing to it really. 2'9" course -- but didn't ride like one because none of the oxers were square. So rode more like a 2'3 - 2'6 course (even though the fences prob were technically @ height). But since she clears everything by at least an extra foot anyways, this is not a bad thing *g*. Anyways - course has the kinds of turns you'd expect in the jumper ring and lots of filler and bright coloured items -- and the last part is really what I wanted Si to experience. There was a girl trotting her horse around the ring before the show started, so that let me know they were pretty relaxed about the whole thing. I had half a thought that that'd be really good to do w/ Sienna, but doubted I'd have time to tack her up and get back there in time.

Go back and tack Si up (a bit of an adventure as a back-firing tractor sent all the horses turned out in the neighbouring field galloping. Sheesh :) Hop on and ride out to the show area. Was quite impressed by how she handled the hack over -- much better than on recent outings. As I get to the w/u ring I hear the jumper ring is starting and that it'll be back-to-back rounds. Umm ok -- no worries, will warm her up and go at the end of the class. Till I realize there's only like 5 or 6 people in the class! hahaha oops :) The dozens of people causing a traffic jam in the w/u were all there for hunter. W/u ring was very sloppy. Trotted her around a couple times but she was really sticky and not in front of the leg. Hopped her over a couple fences. Super quiet, but still not quite there... But they're also *tiny* fences so that could have something to do with it too.

Head over to the jumper ring where there's one or two other horses. Turns out it's not back-to-back rounds so much as jump-whatever-course-you-want *g* So I tell the start guy my # and that I'm doing the first course and in we go. I let her walk in and see everything -- even let her stop and investigate the one really scary fence (which'd be second on course. sheesh!) No hurry, no rush. Judge waited till I did that before ringing her bell :) Jump the first fence... Back to trot, calm, reorg, canter jump the scary second fence, back to trot. Jump the next two out of a trot as she's thoroughly unhappy about leaving the in-gate and I'm trying to get her pointed in something that resembles a straight line and focused on her job. Rest of the course kinda like that "Idon'tknow, Idon'tknow, ok let's GOOOOO!!!" Nothing pretty or confident about that round at all. A few deer leaps :( But on the plus side, she didn't lose her brain. There was none of the franticness that we've been getting. HUGE improvement there. I can deal with "unsure" because unsure is still ridable. Runforyourlife is not..

So anyways, leave ring, ask gate-boy to keep my ribbon for me (both rounds are just "Clear Round" - no timing involved). Memorize next course and go back in (one horse inbetween me and me :). 2nd round much better. Still not confident, but more steady. Could let her canter some of the fences. Still not great, but much better. And again, no runforyourlife pony. Theoretically we're done. But really one more round would help so much :) And it's not as though there are hundreds of people waiting. So I asked if I could do an HC round (which was way beyond gate-boy's comprehension). Ummm doesn't need a judge or ribbons, I just want to do a practice round. The people on the other end of the radio were trying to convince him I had to go pay for it first (ummmm yeah by the time I do that there's no point to going back in the ring). So I basically overrode kid and said I'd pay for it after and just went in. Was very polite about it, but not about to argue with the other side of the radio through this poor kid... Hopped her around and this course was close to good. Whole thing in canter, controlled, balanced, reasonable spots. No deer leaps. Thank God (those are horrendous).

So lots of pats for pony. Ask gate boy to keep my ribbons a while longer and go back to untack. Sort of bemused that we're already done. It took me longer to tackup and untack then to w/u and ride three rounds *g*. For that matter, it took you longer to read this! Go back and pay for the extra round, thanking them profusely for "allowing" it *g*. Pick up ribbons. Allow Si to graze for a bit. And we were home by 6:30 :) Fastest. Show. Ever. Whole show, including transport time, was less than 2h. Sweet!

#FridayFlash 39 - Just Another Day - Conclusion

So I know technically this isn't a flash on it's own, but it IS the requested conclusion to a flash I wrote a while back. So I hope you'll read and enjoy :) Just Another Day started with "As her lunch companion's head exploded, Mary took a last sip of her espresso before sliding out of the booth..." and ended with Mary considering a career change as she was unwillingly saddled with a partner. Here we have the conclusion :)

Comments very welcome! Thanks for reading :)

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Just Another Day - Conclusion

Mary’s day had started out poorly. Her main lead had been shot before she’d gotten any information from him and the math professor she’d questioned turned out to be the father of her missing person…

“Trevor Peters is my son.”

“Which is precisely why I came to speak to you,” Mary said with just enough derision in her voice to almost cover her surprise. The professor managed to convey his complete disbelief with just a look. He stalked past Mary out of the house leaving her to follow. She got in the passenger side of his car just before he pulled out of the driveway.

“You know where he went?” she asked.

“There’s only one place left.” He didn’t elaborate. “So what has Trevor done that would attract the attention of your employers?” the professor asked after a few minutes.

Mary didn’t even bother to give the standard confidentiality speech. “He wrote some code that can hack our systems,” she told him outright, “which makes him a threat to national security.”

She considered leaving it at that, but her internal code – sometimes at odds with the agency’s – wouldn’t let her. “What makes Trevor different,” she continued, “is that he gave it to us. He’s a brilliant hacker, but he’s using his skills to help his country. We have a vested interest in finding him before the killers do; not only for the sake of international relations, but because we can offer him protection.”

“Protection he doesn’t want,” the professor stated.

“No way of knowing until we find him,” Mary argued.

“He’s my son. I know.”

They drove the rest of the way in silence. Mary noted the twisted circling route the professor took; very much the way she would’ve driven. She wondered briefly what he’d done before he decided to teach undergrad mathematics.

Eventually they found themselves on a dirt road heading up into the mountains. After some time, the professor pulled off the road fairly deep into the bush and parked, a quick look around confirmed his car would be entirely out of site of the road. They hiked a short distance to a clearing; Mary was surprised to see a Kinkade style cottage with an elaborately landscaped garden in front of it. Somehow she’d been expecting a rundown shack, not something quite so elegant and effeminate.

“It belonged to his mother,” the professor muttered out the corner of his mouth, accurately reading Mary’s surprise. “It was her dream cottage.”

“That’s not his car,” the professor told her of the beat-up green Jetta in the driveway. “Trevor would never bring somebody here.” The warning was unnecessary; Mary knew from his body language that the car was a bad sign.

“I’ll go look,” Mary told him. The professor started to argue, but here Mary was in her element. “I’m faster and more flexible,” she told him. “I can get in and see what’s going on and get back unseen.” Acknowledging the validity of her point, he showed her the blindspots that would enable her to approach the house safely and suggested the best window to eavesdrop under.

Following his advice she darted forward. Her heart pounded in the loud but slow rhythm it always entered when she was in a tense situation. The shades were open – a novice mistake. She risked a glance and ascertained there was nobody in sight. Carefully, she crept to the back door, opened it a crack and ducked to the side. With no response from inside, she widened it enough to slip through and found herself in a hallway.

She could hear voices upstairs, but took the time to peer quickly into each room on the ground floor before focusing on them. She was alone for the moment, and judging by what she could hear it would seem that Trevor was still alive.

Her back to the wall, she crept slowly up the cottage steps, testing each stair to avoid a fatal creak. She cautiously approached the room. Risking a glance, she was relieved to see there were only three people in the room. Her quarry was sitting at the computer typing, his body radiating all kinds of stress. A man stood behind him watching the screen, left hand on his shoulder, the right holding a gun loosely at his side. Beside the door, but fortunately not paying quite enough attention was the last man, armed but also appearing entirely relaxed.

Mary took a second to consider her options. One against two, with a hostage. But she had the advantage of surprise. And they were relaxed. No problem. Of course she should call for backup, or at very least go get the professor. But by the time she left and came back who knew what state Trevor might be in? She hoped he was working slowly to prolong his value to the captors, but she couldn’t count on it.

She entered low, fast and loud, using her second of surprise to land a powerful side-kick to the groin of the man by the door while shooting the right shoulder of the man by the hostage. Maybe she wasn’t slipping, she thought with a grin. In the next second she snagged the gun the man writhing on the floor was reaching for and pointed it at the one she’d shot . “Don’t even consider it,” she told him as he went to reach his gun with his left hand; he was stronger than she’d given him credit for. A novice mistake. Definitely time for a new career. “You ok?” she asked the hostage, not sparing him a glance as she focused on the other two men. He grunted something she took for assent. She was debating whether she could trust him to do anything useful to help without causing more trouble when a creak on the stair alerted her to more company. Decision made, she kicked the last gun towards her hostage, suggesting he keep it pointed at the man she’d dropped, freeing her to point one at the shot kidnapper and one at the door. It placed her in a precarious position and she knew it, but it was her only choice.

Mary’s reflexes were fast enough that she managed not to shoot the professor when he entered the room, his own gun leading. “Not bad,” he told her on a split second assessment of the situation. “Trevor put that gun down, you could hurt somebody.” He admonished his son who appeared astounded at the appearance of his father. “Cuffs?” he asked Mary.

“Back pocket,” she told him. He tossed his son a cell phone with instructions to call 911 while he proceeded to cuff the two criminals.

The young man eyed his father warily while he called the cops; Mary figured this was a side of the professor he’d never seen before. “Thanks,” he told them, somewhat belatedly. “Who are you?”

“Mary Lipsitt, INR,” she told him, showing her badge for the first time. “We were hoping to talk to you about the code you provided us with,” she told him. “And offer protection against those who aren’t as civil as we are.”

“Protection offer’s just a little late,” he pointed out, “and besides, I already sent you everything I have.”

“That’s good to know son,” the professor said before calmly turning the gun on him. “When I suggested you were incapable of hacking the INR, I’d expected you to bring me proof I was wrong. But no, you had to go giving it to them instead. There’s entirely too much of your mother in you.” He stated, his disappointment evident.

Trevor sputtered to his father, disbelieving, but Mary instantly understood how thoroughly she’d been played. “Mary, if you still want the chance to speak to him, you’ll put your weapons down.” The professor commanded.

One against three, one hostage, and all alert. Less favourable odds. “You’re not going to let him go,” Mary stated the obvious, desperate to buy herself time to think.

“Why not? He has nothing left, so he’s nothing to me now,” the young man cringed visibly at that, evidently more upset by his father’s rejection than by the gun pointed at him. And the moment he cringed, Mary saw her chance. She shot him in the leg, causing him to drop screaming. When all else fails, shoot the hostage. She darted sideways towards the door at the same instant, barely avoiding the professor’s shot. He never had time to get off a second shot.

She caught movement out of the corner of her eye; turning she fired wildly at the man who the professor had only pretended to cuff. Her aim was off and as she straightened she heard a second shot. A rookie mistake, not accounting for all the weapons. Definitely time for a new career.

But it was one mistake too many.

Just Another Day (reposting)

This was written for Flash way-back-when. I finally wrote the conclusion so figured I should repost the start :) Comments always welcome :)

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Just Another Day

As her lunch companion's head exploded, Mary took a last sip of her espresso before sliding out of the booth and using the chaos that had erupted in the coffee shop to become disassociated with her unfortunate companion. There would be no point in sticking around for the cops -- she had nothing that could help them, and they would only hinder her.

It hadn't been one of her better days, she reflected as she slipped out the back door and blended in with the other pedestrians hunched to avoid the drizzly grey weather. But, she supposed, still better than some. At least she'd had time to pick his brain before it splattered so rudely across the table. Personally she didn't think his knowledge was worth killing for, but maybe she was becoming lax. Perhaps it was time to find a new career.

She followed the herd down to the subway and traveled three stops before emerging to flag an anonymous yellow taxi. She picked a random address she could've walked to, but habit had her instinctively make the job of those following her as difficult as possible. Several cab changes later, she headed to her target location.

Slipping into the back of the lecture hall, she endured the last few minutes of the aged professor’s undergraduate level talk. She waited as the students gathered their items and exited the hall with the extreme speed that only students escaping mandatory classes are capable of.

"Ah, Mary Mary quite contrary," he started, seeing her sitting alone in the auditorium. To which Mary outwardly smiled and inwardly felt any respect she may have had for her former professor disintegrate, "how may I assist you today?"

“Trevor Peters" she stated, watching him closely. The professor's face transformed from friendly-grandfather to one who has seen and known too much.

"I'm sorry, my dear, that name means nothing to me."

After the morning she'd had, she had no patience for the conventional games. "Spencer Matthews was killed a little over an hour ago. There's a very good chance Trevor will be next. Where is he?" The older man blanched slightly but otherwise gave no sign the news of his former student affected him.

"We haven't spoken in a while," he said inanely, "perhaps you'd like to come over for a coffee?" Several sharp retorts about the outcome of her last cup of coffee jumped instantly to mind, but resolutely she stifled them, knowing he was her only link to the information she required.

"I'd like that," she lied blatantly, and followed the professor out to his car. She was suspicious but not overly concerned when he drove to a stately old home instead of the nearest Starbucks.

The door was slightly ajar and the professor was cautious in opening it -- his movements betrayed an ingrained knowledge of tactical maneuvers not learned in the classroom. Mary was forced to reevaluate her opinion of him as she followed him in, sweeping left while he went right, her Springfield XD 9, previously concealed, now held confidently in front of her. As Mary shadowed the professor into what appeared to be his home library she was not particularly surprised to see him retrieve a Glock and magazine from a hollow book and load it; as her mind registered the significance of the practiced movement, she wondered idly what else might be in those books.

A quick sweep of the rest of the house proved what both instinctively knew -- they were alone. And nothing, so far as Mary could tell, had been touched. She wondered if the old professor had simply forgotten to lock up that morning, but as he was appearing less like an old professor by the second, she kept that thought to herself.

"What is it you want with Trevor Peters?" he asked bluntly.

"Information," she replied. "Information of the type people would kill for.” While she didn't particularly care one way or another about the life of the hacker who knew one secret too many, she had long since learned that playing the 'help save a life' card motivated most civilians.

"What makes you think I know where he is?"

"If you didn't, I wouldn't be here." she stated, neatly avoiding the question. She knew better than to reveal sources -- even dead ones.

The look he gave her was that of a disappointed parent. "You don't know nearly as much as you think you do, young lady." Surprisingly she was more intrigued than insulted by his patronizing tone.

"Educate me," she challenged.

"This morning," he started, "I knew exactly where Trevor Peters was." Mary nodded -- she'd already ascertained that much. "He was here." That worried her briefly, maybe she really was slipping. She'd been certain the old professor knew where to find him, but had had no sign her quarry had been in the immediate area.

"I’ll help you find him," the professor stated.

"No thank you," Mary said, knowing even as she said it that the offer hadn't been an offer so much as a command. "You'd be putting yourself in danger. These people kill indiscriminately; just for talking to me, you could be at risk."

"Then I may as well be involved," the professor argued with a disturbing twist on logic. "And they're not that indiscriminant, otherwise how do you come to be standing here when Spencer is dead?"

"What makes you think I was there when Spencer was killed?" Mary asked, focusing on the detail he shouldn't have known.

The professor gave her another withering look before pointing out that she had unmistakable flecks of brain matter staining her shirt. Ok so she should've picked up on that. Definitely time for a career change. But then, a math professor, on the verge of retirement, should not have.

"I will find Trevor." he started, taking advantage of her momentary discombobulation. "I can find him on my own -- in which case you'll never get to ask your questions, or we can find him together and see what he says." Mary’s tension rose as she envisioned her effort searching, not to mention a significant amount of money, being wasted due to a rogue professor

"There is one more thing that you don't know,” the professor stated, piquing her reluctant interest. Her raised eyebrow encouraged him to continue:

"Trevor Peters is my son."

Vacation Daydreams

So I think I've mentioned before that I'm going on vacation this summer... And I don't know where :) Anyways, this has raised some questions so....

My mum and I have gone on a few trips together -- be it roadtripping to Vermont or lying on a beach in Jamaica :) And we were discussing the possibility of a road trip. Since I'm intending to be very busy with a farm over the next few years, my thought is if I'm going anywhere, it should be this summer.

So her suggestion was that we should go to the rockies, since I've never been out west before. Brilliant! Let's go :) Oh wait, that's @ least a 3wk road trip and both of us are contractors. Therefore no vacation pay. Therefore we leave, we don't get paid. Therefore there's absolutely no way I (@ least, I won't presume to speak for her :) can afford to go. Booo.

So we tossed around the possibility of a one-way road-trip and flying back which is also fine with me :) But the conversation moved on to other things and I mostly filed it under the "would be nice but not likely to actually happen" category of things. Also known as daydreaming :)

Fast-forward a few days and my mum says "so I was thinking, in terms of billable hours, if we book a trip around a long weekend we can take three days off and go for six." Sweet. Good call Mum :) And then as I'm all agreeing to this, the fun part, "ok and I know where we're going, but you don't. How's the Aug long weeknd work for you?" hahaha seriously? Very kewl. So I check the sched, means I can't go to GV but that's ok (B'll forgive me I'm sure -- I'll go in the fall :) My boss was out of town that week so I had to wait for him to get back so I could clear the vaca time from work. In the end though -- good to go :)

Woohoo! Now we're playing Where in the World is our Vacation? *g* I'm still betting on the rockies, but here are the clues as I have them for any so inclined to join in *g*:

- "Is your passport up to date?" - could potentially mean leaving the country, but does not *necessarily* mean leaving the country :) Which narrows things down to, oh yeah, the whole world.

- "you don't go to the Caribbean in July" (this covers about all beach destinations and everywhere really hot; I think the Arabian desert is out :)

- "you'll need a camera" - ummm again pretty much leaves the whole world open given that more often than not I even bring my camera to work with me.

- "you'll need hiking boots." "Real hiking boots?" "No, running shoes are fine."

- "you shouldn't need to buy anything to go." - this cuts out extreme camping and extreme cold (awwww >;-P And I was so looking forward to Antarctica!)

- Was chatting about it with my brother saying well it's not likely to be X, Y, Z cause I've already been there, or A, B, C cause Mum's already been there, when she joins in with "well actually I *have* been there before". So A, B, and C are back in :) (in this case it was Spain and Portugal).

- Then I clued in that if she has been there before it cuts out all the places she hasn't been. Leading to eventual confirmation that . . .

- "it's in North America"

And that's where we're at now. And it's not helping curtail that whole daydreaming habit *g* I guess I'll find out in about 7 wks :) Guesses anybody?

XC Adventures @ GV

(from GRS Blog)

So do you remember the story of the disastrous day at Grandview? I could post a link here, but really... I'd rather not :) And then the far less entertaining, far more disastrous clinic a few weeks ago where my little horse learned that ditches are to be feared?

Alright so combine those two days and you know where I started when I called Bob and asked if I could bring Sienna up to GV for a lesson. Their show was last weekend, so I knew everything would be in great shape and with no other shows on this weekend, I had hopes he might be available.

Yup, good to go. I can come up on Sat. Of course it's supposed to be pouring rain on Sat (after weeks of stunningly gorgeous weather) but such is my life. In my request I believe I asked for scary stadium fences, ditches and banks. And in mind there are two other fences on his course I wanted to jump too but they were pretty low priority. And I knew fully well I was asking a lot because as we all well know that is not ONE lesson I was requesting. But I figured we'd go up and get through whatever we get through.

So while I'm setting this up, my friend Anna (for those who've been following this blog from the beginning, this is the same wonderful Anna who petsat Bilbo - my rabbit - for several months for me so I could go to Denny's), calls to ask something about GV (don't remember what exactly) because she really wants to go have a lesson there. So of course I invite her to come play with Sienna and I :) Always more fun with a 2nd person! And clearly meant to be after that timing. So after a little bit of time shuffling we had it all set up.

Sat am rolls around, stupidly early, and I'm sick :( Very icky sick. Fortunately to me it seems as though it were something I ate (and the timing was such that that'd make sense -- several hours after last meal etc). So as miserable as I was, I had hopes I'd still be ok to ride. Esp as I had cancelled TWICE with B before (she who *never* cancels lessons) and so was not about to cancel again shy of a lame horse (and even then I'd still have taken Anna). Fortunately for me, we had an afternoon lesson booked, so I had most of the morning to recover.

Head out to the barn, feeling almost human. Feed beast, hook up trailer. Have the timing down to the second -- just long enough to get everything packed and groom and load Sienna. No problem. Except that when I went in the barn one of my students was seriously stressing over the rider exam she was prepping for (to do on Sun) and things were deteriorating rapidly. So I had to take a little while to help her get sorted out, solve the issue she was having, and then kick her out to go hack or jump or something and have fun *g* (it's not too often I tell my students they're not allowed to work, but sometimes, it's necessary. For the record, she passed the exam with flying colours :). So this is all well and good, but now I'm supposed to be pulling out the driveway and the truck's still not packed and the pony's still in the field. hmmmm less good.

Pack up truck in record time (it's not as though I can't do that in my sleep by now :) and go get Sienna from the field (who thankfully almost always comes when she's called). She's only filthy on ONE side so that's a start. hahaha Fastest grooming job ever (hey at least my tack was clean!). Load Si and off we go. Get to Anna's about half-hour late... Fortunately for me I'd added in an extra half hour when planning the timing. And since her horse loads as well as Si, we were off in no time.

So bright blue skies until we were about to leave the highway and suddenly dark ominous clouds the direction we want to go. Classic. But A usually has *good* luck with weather, so we were really hoping her luck would outweigh mine. Pull into GV with 2 minutes to spare -- which sounds great till you realize we haven't tacked up yet. Fortunately B was busy with a dressage lesson that was running late, so we had time to unload, tack up, and head over there without seeming to be all that late. hahaha We were quick about it, but not as frantic as it might've been (I even snagged a few seconds to run another brush over Sienna so she wouldn't be quite so appallingly turned-out).

Head down to dressage world where B is finishing up his previous lesson. Has this awesome new footing -- except that Sienna wanted nothing to do with it. Stepped on it very tentatively, snorting and looking at it. But her usual options for scary footing are jump over it or run across it. And neither of those work in a giant ring she's expected to work in. Poor girl. Trying to keep all four feet from touching it -- but very carefully. No bucking or silliness, just anxiety and some quick steps. I could feel her heart pounding top speed. And she never did chill out about it. B's lesson ends and he joins us, "so how's your mare?" "As you see." I answer with a roll of the eyes as she snorts, yet again, at the footing. "Looking for a confidence building school."

Ok so with that beginning we trek up to stadium. Usually when I go there to school XC we warm up in what is the stad w/u area in their competitions (so on sand but not in the actual show ring). And the flags flapping around the T+ course (on grass) definitely catches her attention, but she's not bad. In fact she's pretty much the opposite of the horse I had the last time I was there. Doesn't want to go forward! Had to really work just to get her to trot. Sheesh.

Gradually build up a gymnastic. Nice, easy, inviting. Great start with the whole confidence boost thing given that Sienna can do gymnastics in her sleep. And A's horse is far more experienced than Si so they're good to go :) So at this point I had figured stad was a no-go and we'd just go out on XC. Fair enough. Except B clearly remembered my less-than-good results at the last show. "I think I should send you in the stadium ring." hahaha yes please! Now the only thing we cheated on was that she had a minute or two to walk around the ring (and shy at the flags and the judges booth) before we had to jump. Which always helps and you generally don't get in competition (unless the person in front of you demolishes the course :). But we jumped the course that was there without introducing her to the fences first. And while it wasn't always pretty, and at least one fence was in trot, she did jump clear and did keep her brain between her ears. So that was good.

THEN we got to go out on XC. Meander over to the start box and the first two fences on the E course are super inviting and in a reasonably straight line (down a dip - not really a hill - up a dip inbetween). So the idea is we trot down passed the 2nd one, turn around n jump them both backwards towards home, then turn and jump the PT 1st fence. And as I trot away Sienna is being super-nappy, so I'm having visions of the mad gallop back to her friend, but actually she jumped both very quietly and the PT one just about perfectly. Ok, good start.

So then it was jump the E ones away from home, pick up the third one on the E course then go into the next field and jump something there. All good, except after the second one Si was all about turning home to her new friend. So when I not only make her keep going away but also turn decidedly the opposite direction, this did not go over so well. So now I'm fighting not only to keep her going the direction she'd rather not, but also to get her to jump the coup she wanted nothing to do with. Less than good *sigh* Did eventually get her over it and into the second field. Where I opted not to battle over the next fence but instead made her hang out till her buddy got there. Once he was hanging out on the other side of the last fence, then we went and did it :) hahaha so B hiked way out to where we were and we did a few more combos involving the fences she was sticky with and a couple others -- no more issues, except that the unwillingness to go away was becoming more evident. Going to have to work on that one. No bolting back towards though, so that's a start.

Then the DITCH. Ohhhh/ahhhh. Now to put this in perspective -- this ditch is the first one Sienna *ever* jumped (last spring) and she had no problems with it. It is also on the T course and regularly eats people (you could see the scuff marks from all the abrupt stops the wknd before). So we go the easy way first -- and it's shallow enough she can walk through it, so I'm pretty determined about this one. And she stops and starts shooting backwards. Blah. But B just takes her and leads her across. Yeah! Then we do it on our own (at this point still in walk and still stepping IN the ditch). Try it the other way (with slightly more of a downhill slope on the approach) -- stops but then goes again w/ no lead and no backwards. Better. Then in trot both ways. Then in canter both ways. Woohoo! Yeah event horse :) The one way was perfect; the other a little sticky, but still clearing it each time. I was pretty thrilled.

Then the BANK. Ohhhh/ahhhh. hahaha "just trot up that and run down the other side". Sure. Did I mention Sienna's gone up exactly 2 banks, ever? Well I'll tell ya, she did it like an old pro. "You lie!" from my coach *g* Yeah she really did make it look like she was an old school pony. hahaha So then a course. Little house, roll-back through the trees away from the friends, ditch, other little house (in the tree-line), up the bank, down the slope, over the little brush fence. Did I mention the little houses were on my "fences I'd like to school" list? Mostly cause last time we were there she wouldn't even walk near them (and at the time was too green to push it). Sure - I'll go first *g* Well I'll tell ya, I had to *really* ride each fence, and we definitely trotted the ditch, but she jumped every fence on the first try AND she let me rate her pace to set her up for the bank. I was super-thrilled. (I think B was a little puzzled why I was so excited by that :) We didn't get to school down banks today, but given how much we did that the other day @ Cedar Run and that my focus for the day was more on ditches, I was kewl with that. A was disappointed cause her horse is much better at down than up *g*

So next stop? Another ditch. This one has a bit of an awkward approach since it's part of the Int coffin, but the ditch itself is shallow and baby-friendly. First jump was perfect -- but we followed A's horse so kinda cheating. Going back the other way didn't happen -- again though this battle was entirely nappiness (didn't want to leave the other horse) and the ditch was just an excuse. So turned it into a figure 8 of jump it the easy way, keep going, loop back to jump it the hard way - and she did it (not brilliantly, but she did it). And then she focused on the int skinny with a "are you sure?" feel in her body. I could just feel the relief when I told her no she was absolutely not jumping that and she should really hold the line I put her on that went away from it :) hahaha we did that one the easy way once more and then moved on.

To another ditch. hahaha starting to see why I wanted to come here? (Well that and B's coaching of course >;-P All the better to get both in the same place :) This is the little baby ditch that's actually *on* the PT course. hahaha and she hesitated, and got growled at (literally "use your voice" -- which esp as I almost never do, startles her over the fence :) and hopped over it. Back and forth over that one a few times and on too....

The water! Woohoo. We're good at water so this is just fun :) Splash through, jump out, jump in. All good :) So then a course of ditch, random xc fence (reasonable size and scary *new* wood, but she did it well on the first try. Had to really ride it, but it worked), curve around back through the water over the little vert. Well she def stopped at the ditch. Booo. 2nd try we made it over and the rest of the course was good.

Ok one more. Ditch (other direction this time), jump into the water, and then go jump the little bench (which'd be the *other* random fence I had on my mental list of "it'd be good if she got to jump that"). This course she did really well although ridiculously nappy leaving to the first fence (umm ditch :) but once she focused on it, the rest was good.

So as the sun came out we ended on that. B hung out with us for a bit while we were getting untacked etc. Had a fairly interesting conversation about teaching philosophy (which I'm always up for - esp with those who know more than me :); S joined in for a bit of that too (which is kewl cause I've only met her once or twice). Sort of amused me since I'd had a very similar conversation w/ my weekly coach the day before. Something in the air :) Let the horses graze for a bit and have some water before loading up and heading home. Nice end to the day.

Lessons learned -- remember voice is a highly effective aid when used appropriately *g* Pony needs lots more practice leaving other horses (and I will *really* have to ride the first few fences on XC). Up banks and water are evidently no problem whatsoever. Down banks and ditches still need some work. Also needs work with going into a ring and jumping without getting to explore first (more jumper shows *sigh*). Oh and Anna's weather luck outweights mine. Woohoo!

A long day, but a good one.

#FridayFlash 38 and WAG - First day of the rest of your life

Possibly my shortest flash yet *g*

Sometimes it's the little things in life that make all the difference . . .

This is possibly my shortest flash yet *g* Let me know what you think -- short though it is, does it stand on its own?

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The first day of the rest of your life

"I think you may be the woman of my dreams; can I take you to lunch?" he asked the woman standing next to him at the lights with what he hoped was a boyish smile.

Christina considered the attractive man, "So what traits do I share with the woman of your dreams?" she asked with one eyebrow raised, buying time to decide how to answer the unexpected invite.

"You're energetic, as evidenced by the fact that you're out walking, you're confident and kind enough to humour a complete stranger hitting on you, and to top it off, you're stunningly gorgeous; like I said, the woman of my dreams."

Amused both by the comments and by the fact that she found herself reluctantly flattered by them, Christina gave a slow nod.

"So where are you taking me for lunch?"

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The Writing Adventure Group

Ok so I found a new writing group I thought I might visit. The "Writing Adventure Group". Their topic this week is to write a story about breaking the rules. So I'm going to break the rules and use a story I wrote for Flash a while back :) Sorry about that. But if you haven't read it before, please do and let me know what you think!

If you have read it, scroll way down to the bottom where there are links to "Blog Hop" other writing in the WAG. A very kewl feature that makes me think I'll keep playing this game.
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Knowing

She awoke to the sound of a scream cut short by silence. Her heart told her to go help; her mind told her there was nothing she could do. Terrified, she lay silent, listening to the too-loud sound of her rapidly beating heart. Eventually the pounding slowed and lulled her back to sleep. As it always did.

When she woke in the morning, the terror of the night had faded to a wisp of a dream. She went out to the pump to get water for her morning chores and surreptitiously surveyed the the townspeople to see who was not visible this morning. Nobody would say anything. He who was gone, would never again be mentioned. It was suicide to cross the wall -- everybody knew that.

"Why would you even want to leave?" the elders asked, and Jezina always nodded sagely as though she too agreed with the prevalent attitude of the town. But really, if she were honest with herself, she wanted to know. She wanted to know what lay beyond the boundary of their little world. The elders said there was nothing. Nobody who had ever left had ever returned, and the occasional outsider that came in would either leave almost immediately, or would settle and seemingly forget the world outside the wall as if their memories had vanished as quickly as the scream in the night.

But, Jezina had realized, the elders had never left. So how did they know there was nothing out there? Nothing worth searching for? Such thoughts were blasphemous and she confessed them at the shrine to Aliah, but during the monotony of her daily chores, she could not stop her mind from wandering out beyond the wall. What was out there? A life that went beyond daily chores, prayer to a god who seemed awfully apathetic about their lives, and people who were not only content but seemed genuinely happy living out their lives within the boundary; a life where every day did not have to be the same as the last. Did such a thing exist? The only way to know, would be to cross the wall. But none who crossed, ever returned.

Jezina went out to gather herbs for the healers; this was one of her favourite chores as it often took her so near the wall. Some days she would take a break and climb it -- looking curiously at the other side. Nothing looked different out there; Jezina couldn't see any reason not to go. With her heart in her throat, she swung her legs over so both feet were technically outside the boundary and . . . absolutely nothing happened. Jezina laughed nervously at her own reaction. She would go for a walk, just a short walk, outside the wall. Nobody would know, and surely it wouldn't be disrespectful to the elders' mandates so long as she didn't speak of it or encourage others to do so.

She paused another second before taking the leap -- and heard her name called in the distance. Denaf. Her cousin and playmate, she and Denaf had grown up together, but while he would've said they were the closest of friends, she knew he would never understand or accept her secret thoughts. "Coming!" she shouted as she vaulted back off the wall before he came into view. Jezina quickly gathered a few of the herbs growing at her feet. Any inspection would make it clear instantly that she hadn't been entirely dedicated to her task, but she knew that on such a warm summer's day that would be forgiven -- so long as nobody realized what she'd almost done.

"Jezi!" Denaf called earnestly as soon as he saw her, "a kelah approaches!" And Jezina started to run; somebody from outside the wall was about to cross the boundary. It was forbidden to speak to a kelah before the elders had, but certainly not forbidden to watch. Ever so briefly Jezina wondered if perhaps Aliah was actually taking an interest in her life -- the timing seemed too perfect to be otherwise. She paused at the shrine before finding a spot on the elders' path. The whole town was there, the elders looking stern and forbidding, the children bouncing with excitement, and all the ranges of emotion inbetween. Kelahs were a rare treat -- although some definitely viewed them more as a threat. And if Denaf hadn't come to get her, she would never have seen, would never have known till it was too late.

The kelah passed through the unguarded gate, hesitated briefly when she saw the crowd, but then turned to speak some unknown words and gesture to the nearest people. The townspeople pointed her towards the elders' hut; Elder Ruset greeted her with the travelers' silent language. The language of signs was forbidden to the townspeople, but elders were taught so as to be able to ascertain the hearts of kelahs. Elder Kesa, a healer for whom Jezina often gathered herbs, had seemed to understand Jezina's need to know and had slowly, secretly, been teaching her the basics. And so she was able to understand both the formal greeting and the response exchanged before her.

Denaf was speaking excitedly to her, but Jezina had tuned him out entirely to her rushing thoughts. The kelah would know what was outside the wall. If Jezina could only have a few minutes to sign to her, then she would know too, without ever having to cross the wall. But despite the answer being so close, she knew she would never get to ask her questions. Either the kelah would stay, and her memories would fade before ever speaking to anybody, or she would leave before daybreak and Jezina would still not know what lay beyond the wall.

The crowd dispersed, returning to their chores. They would find out soon enough if the kelah was staying, and until then there was nothing left to be seen. As Jezina passed Aliah's shrine she made a decision. If the kelah settled and decided to stay, Jezina would put aside her disrespectful questions and refocus her life, following Denaf's lead. But if, late that night, she heard the kelah leave, Jezina would follow, going over the wall just out of sight of the elders' hut. And then she would know.

She had to put those thoughts aside to get through the day without anybody knowing; she was not entirely successful -- Denaf knew something wasn't right but she relaxed when he teased her about her excitement over the kelah. He had no idea what was really behind her tension.

That night, having fallen asleep despite her plans, she awoke to pitch black darkness and the nearly silent tread of footsteps outside her window. Very quietly she pulled her herb pack out from under her bed -- it contained her few meager belongings and some food leftover from dinner. Moving quickly but silently she crept to the wall and as the kelah passed through the gates, Jezina dropped down off the wall.

Her heart was pounding so loudly she was sure to be heard. She could hardly fathom that the elders hadn't heard her land. But nobody called out. Perhaps, having crossed the boundary, she was already invisible to them. Forgotten. She was the farthest she had ever been from the only home she had ever known. She was the farthest anybody she knew had been. She felt a pang of regret that she hadn't been abel to say goodbye to Denaf, but consoled herself that maybe one day she'd be the first to return.

Her eyes were adjusting to the dark. While she could see little, she could make out shapes. She would listen for the kelah's footsteps and then travel that direction as best she could, hoping to catch up when it became light. Perhaps the kelah would let Jezina travel w/ her, she knew some signs, they could communicate. Or if not, she was content to follow to the next village.

She was so attuned to the nearly silent night, pausing every few strides to listen for the faintest of footsteps and otherwise lost in excited thoughts, that the kelah's scream was shocking enough to drop her to the ground. There was a flash of light and a second scream cut off by silence.

And then she knew.

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