Here there be dragons...

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

If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.

December 23rd.  Christmas-Eve-Eve.  Not a thing really, but in my world...

My plans were ambitious but doable.  Theoretically.  Take care of the horses; Rebecca kindly agreed to give them their afternoon feed, so I could leave as soon as stalls were done.  Move a load of stuff to the new barn and check all the ponies there.  Go home.  Power nap (mandatory after the 4h sleep or so the night before).  Go to convenience store and photo store for two outstanding gifts.  Bake cookies.  Do laundry.  Create gift I've been thinking about for weeks but hadn't put into actual existence.  Clean Bilbo's cage. Wrap all presents.  Put away aforementioned laundry.  Figure out what needs to go where for the next couple days.  Clean room.  Sleep.

Anybody else think that's really like three days worth of living in one?

Let's revisit that thinking with the aid of that nasty bastard Reality.

The first few steps actually went okay.  Both barns took longer than expected -- no surprise given the complete lack of power and excessive amounts of ice (anyway we could switch those?).  But all good -- was home about 3.  Putz around for half hour or so and then decided to crash for 20 min power nap and be good to go.  I am the queen of the power naps.  But I also know that if I miss and go for 30 mins, I'll be useless for the next couple hours.  So I set an alarm.  Usually.  Why not today?  I have no friggin idea.  Maybe my subconscious was just that desperate for sleep.  Because I didn't wake up at the useful 20 min mark.  Nor the deadly 30 min mark.  Nope, it was a little over an hour.  Oops.   And while I wasn't as out of it as 30 mins would've made me, I was a long way from alert and ready to go too.

So enter "waking up" time.  Play on Facebook, answer some emails, text some friends.  Actually got a solid start on the project xmas gift.  Then it's time for a dinner break.  Excellent.

Anybody remember the original list?

Right.  So after dinner I tossed the first load of laundry in (yeah for multitasking) and ran to the two stores.  Got the first item.  Second was sold out.  Boo.  Oh well - that's the third or fourth place that was sold out and it was only a stocking stuffer.  Decide it could be forgone. 

Return home and take care of Bilbo -- it's quite a process really, but all good.  Switch laundry over.  Alright, world is good.  Start to make cookies.  Intending to do a batch of shortbread and a batch of ginger snaps.  Start with shortbread since all those ingredients are also in gingersnaps so if the bowl isn't *perfectly* clean inbetween cookies, it's not tragic.  bahahah yeah, Martha Stewart I am not.  But you have to give me credit for planning :)

This is when I remember I *hate* making shortbread.  Takes *forever* to turn into something that resembles dough, and you pretty much have to molest the bowl Gollum and the Ring style to stop it from flying all over the kitchen.  More cleaning I didn't need.  But eventually have something workable.  I knew they'd turn out flat -- hadn't beat them nearly long enough, but way longer than I had patience for.   Esp as I might've been texting a couple people throughout.  That just slows everything down, but makes it way more fun.

So while it was baking I started putting together ingredients for ginger snaps.  These I make every year as they're my xmas favourite.  All good, except when it's finally their time to bake, the dough is a disaster :(   Seriously.  Completely useless.  I was very unimpressed.   No idea what I did wrong; it's not as though it's not the same recipe I make every year.  But after a few minutes of text-venting my xmas sorrows, I decided I couldn't make it any worse and randomly threw more ingredients in.  Perfect!

This should've been a disaster.  By all laws of Lauren cooking, this should never have worked.  But it did.  They're awesome.  Xmas is saved!   hahaha okay, arguably a little overdramatic.  We'll put it down to lack of sleep.

Cookies done, clean the kitchen as much as possible (read, until dish washer is full >;-P).  Close everything up to go upstairs and...   Oops - forgot the last load of laundry.  Ah well, realistically I still have a fair amount to do.  Toss it in dryer and continue my travels.

Xmas present involves printing photos and putting in frame.  Easy enough since I've found the files, know what I want to do with them, and have sized/coloured/etc everything.  All I have to do is hit print.  Right.  Except that for whatever reason, the printer deigns it'll only print mini-sized.  Wtf???  We're now into the wee hours of the morning, so deeming discretion to be the better part of valour, I switched computers to one I knew was on speaking terms with the printer and tried again.  This one was happy to print but...  Out of ink.

Oh no.

BUT -- happy coincidence.  This happens All. The. Time.   And as a result, I keep back-up ink.  All good.  Except I have 3 of the 4 cartridges I need *sigh*  Fortunately the 4th one is the least important for these photos, so I hope the Christmas Elf will help it last through the few I have to do.

First one prints.  Gorgeous.   Second one prints.  No problem.  Sweet.  Third one?  Yeah - take a wild guess?   Randomly decided to make the font size tiny.  Same font and size as the other files, but no -- it has to be mini-sized.  This is the kind of game I did not have time for.  So instead of actually resolving the situation, I just made the text huge so when the printer mini-sized it, it came out okay.  Actually *loved* the result.  Pretty excited about it :)   Have been thinking about it for ages, but just hadn't gotten around to actually doing it.   Oops.

Go rescue laundry but decide entirely too tired to actually do anything about it.  It can live in the basket and on the floor.  It's all good.  Take a look around the room I planned to clean.  Deem that instead of cleaning, closing the door is an acceptable solution.  Future Lauren can clean.

Sweet - time for bed.  Wait.  Wrapping.  Lots and lots of wrapping.  Three stockings worth and a handful of other gifts too.  Frig.  Contemplate letting Future Lauren do that too, but realize she'll probably be pretty tired and, realistically, C doesn't have any good wrapping paper to steal and moving all wrapping supplies over would be entirely more effort than just wrapping them there. 

With a sigh the wrapping commenced.  And eventually concluded.  Some of it is of the more interpretive variety.  Towards the end, scissors may have become deemed an unnecessary waste of time.  If my next career leans toward gift wrapper, none of these will be in my portfolio *g*  But, it was done.

And in the end, I even managed about three hours of that wonderful thing called "sleep".  It was on the list, and it got done!  Woohoo.

Christmas Eve, by comparison, was a breeze :)   And now since Santa will be here in less than half an hour, I'm off to sleep.  Or at least lie in bed and let my brain spin wildly.  Close enough.   Merry Christmas!

Really Mother Nature? What did I ever do to you?

Right so those of you who've been following the story will know that I am once again in the process of major life changes.   Now work with me here -- finished lessons last Friday.   Lease is up at the end of the month.  That gives two weeks to relocate twelve horses, all equipment, and 2000 bales of hay.   While still looking after the horses at the first barn.  And Christmas falls right in the middle.

Right.  No big deal.

And then That Witch Mother Nature decided to add her two-cents and throw an ice storm in the only time I could arrange to move.  Bitch.  Yes, sometimes that's the only word that fits.  So yesterday and today -- during which all but two of the horses moved -- it was freezing rain and all kinds of horrible driving conditions.  I'm afraid to see what might happen when we do hay next weekend.  I'm really hoping she's through pmsing by then!  Which, btw, if you're around next weekend -- all help welcome!

In an apparently unrelated statement -- some of you are aware of my love/hate relationship with trains.  Stay with me here, it fits with the moving story.   My love/hate relationship is a little skewed.  Sasha loves them.  Me, not so much.   So you shouldn't be too surprised that in Acton, where I've seen a train maybe three times in the two years I've been at this barn, the railway crossing lights started flashing and the barrier lowered.  What *was* somewhat amusing was that they only stayed down a fraction of a second before raising again.  Ummmm okay.  Looked pretty carefully before crossing, but no train.

Clearly it was one of Santa's minions running last-minute errands.   Flew past so fast we didn't even see!

And on the return trip -- same thing!   And back again both laps on the second round...   A crazy day for elves!

And speaking of elves, was definitely a crazy day for Winthorpe.  Who?  Right, Winthorpe is the Christmas elf that lives at C's house.  His job is to report to Santa on whether the inhabitants have been naughty or nice.  Since being there, however, he's shown a disturbing lack of decorum.  We've found him passed out drunk -- beer bottles littered everywhere, smoking stuff he shouldn't be smoking, and failing sensitivity training horribly!   We're not sure exactly where the line between naughty and nice is being drawn *g*   Will be interesting to see where he ends up next!

Anyways - we did the first load of horses, no problem.  Athena walked on the trailer without any hesitation!  Sweet.  Driving was slow but not actually all that bad, and the threat of weather had scared the last-minute shoppers away so even in "town" there wasn't really any traffic.   Nicole and I went to load the truck for the next load and "Laur can you unlock it?"   Ummmm no, it's not locked.  The keys are still inside. 

Well, part of that statement was true anyways.  The second part.  *sigh*   Called CAA, who were great - gave me zero hassle about my membership being unavailable (ummmm locked in the car) and were super pleasant to deal with.   But then in the end, Dad came to the rescue with extra keys faster than CAA :)   Just glad it was at the barn we're moving *from* that they got locked in because we spent the time being productive and packing while we waited.

Next load went reasonably flawlessly, all things considered.

Last load though -- should've been the easiest (I'm not new; I took the difficult horses first).  But while they loaded like the pros they are; they decided they wanted nothing to do with trailering.   Just lovely to have the trailer being thrown around at the same time That Witch started getting really angry.

We did eventually make it.  Very slowly, but we made it.   Trees were cracking ominously all around and we saw one very exciting set of fireworks that we're pretty sure was powerlines coming down.  But we made it.  Got everybody settled.  Double checked all had hay and water.  Finished unpacking what stuff we'd brought (this was all kinds of fun since the hill was pure ice -- trailer on top, barn at bottom).  Backing out on ice in the dark was less than fun and took longer than it should've, but with patience and, potentially uncalled for, laughter - it got done.

Go back to the other barn, planning to do night check and then leave.   Which we did, technically.  Just that we did so in the dark since that barn had no power.   Really?  Oh yeah - I couldn't make this up.  We turned Nicole's car and mine both facing in the barn with lights on so we could see -- mine had one door propped open with a leadline just in case it chose to lock again.  hahaha fool me once...

But eventually all was done, all ponies settled in for the night, and the drive home wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared it might be.

Now - to go see what Winthorpe's been up to....

Remember, it's not safe to swim alone after dark.

It's 1:30 am.  I'm bored.  Consider yourself forewarned.

I've finished wrapping a mountain of gifts.  Yes you read that right -- and it's not even Christmas Eve yet!   I won't say I'm finished shopping, but I'm a whole lot closer than I usually am this time of year *g*   Arguably because between trying to look after a full barn of horses, teach usual lesson schedule, pack, and organize a move, I have very restricted time to shop.  So have made the best of it :)

Anyways -- I find myself up well past the point of exhaustion (that was about two days ago) and fairly wired.  Not a new experience by any means *g*  But the productive things I could be doing either A - require other people who are currently sound asleep, B - require going outside which, tbh, I just don't feel like, or C - I quite frankly, don't feel like doing them.  Option D was to bake cookies, but I feel like the mixer might be a rather rude awakening for the sleeping members of the household *g*  Besides, that's tentatively scheduled for late Monday night -- and really, what would I do if I got ahead of schedule???  *shudder* not worth considering.

Moved the first load of stuff to the other barn today.  Makes it all more real.  In some ways it was nbd because, of course, I've been in that barn before.  In other ways it was really hard.  Really. Hard.  But I'm working intently to only focus on positives...  Like having FIVE days OFF.  Consecutively.  Yes ladies and gentlemen you read that right.  It has recently come to my attention that from Jan 1 through when lessons resume on the 6th, I will have nothing I absolutely have to do outside the house.  Emergency barn calls will go to someone other than I.  Organizing staff when everybody's away will be another person's responsibility.  Caring for the horses, again, not my issue.  AND my horses will have been moved there early enough that they should be settled by then so I won't even be stressing about them.  Well, not too much anyways.  Let's be realistic here *g*   It's even plausible I may actually be able to turn off my phone.  Can you imagine?  I haven't done that since the trip to Cuba...   Quick search of old posts puts that at Feb 2010.  It's been a while.

And yes, now I'm back having just reread my whole trip.  So much fun.  Planning to go somewhere this Feb. Finally have enough travel points stored up!  Woohoo!  So maybe more fun blog posts coming :)   Really, that's pretty much what's keeping me going at the moment, so fairly counting on it.

The clock is telling me it's now 2am...  I should probably at least pretend to go to sleep sometime soon >;-P   Have found THREE superstar xmas gifts this year.  Pretty excited about that!  Of course shopping early means now I have to wait longer.  What a foolish plan.  Sheesh.

Alright well next few days are going to be insanely busy, so prob best if I sign off.   Night!

Oh and the subject line -- it was from one of my Cuba Flash Fictions.  Huge gold star if you remember it :)  Completely random but made me smile and so it is.

About the "no major life changes" idea...

I'm not generally one for New Year's resolutions, but every once in a while somebody sends me one that I decide to incorporate.  Mum's suggestion was "no major life changes" and Em's was "make mistakes".

Okay so I've mastered Em's.  I'd be quite happy to move on from that one now ;-P

As for Mum's...  Well...  GRS has been running for three years now -- the last two of which have been at the same farm.  It's lots of fun, I have an amazing group of students, and my dad comes and helps me at the barn most days.  I haven't run away to any foreign countries, randomly decided to go back to uni, or inherited any more pets (or worse: children *shudder*).  All in all, I've been very good about being a stable adult, making few life changes.

Except, well, you're not new here.  My tolerance for safe and secure is pretty low sometimes.  And it turns out that while I *love* teaching with a passion, day-to-day care of the horses simply isn't intellectually challenging enough.  I got bored.  And boredom leads to...  Well... Major life changes >;-P

So the first avoidance technique was writing.  The ever-amazing-Steph basically took over my barn last winter and between her and a few assistants, I very rarely had to do the barn.  Sweet.  Just teaching!  And I wrote two novels in two months. Seriously.  One of which I don't ever intend to publish, but the other is in the editing phase -- on hold at the moment (more as to why shortly!), but I hope in Jan/Feb to finish it off and publish it.   There -- I wrote it down.  I'll actually do it now :)

The second avoidance technique was dating.  Right.  LOTS of blogs on that.  bahaha far enough distanced from it now, maybe I can share some of the entertainment.  hmmmmm well there was the guy who asked me out at a traffic light.  That's actually happened to me twice - can you believe it???  hahahha but one I actually went out with.  Nice enough guy, but still living with his ex-wife and has two kids under age of 5...  And I got the impression I was the first person I'd asked out since the split.  Didn't go anywhere, but was an amusing afternoon.  Then there was eharmony...   Oh dear...  hahaha I shouldn't say that -- in some ways it's a fabulous system.  Does make it fairly easy to weed out people quickly and nobody needs to have your personal info; so if you want them gone, they're gone.  Conversely, people can disappear you just as easily, so you need a bit of a thick skin *g*  Man there are all sorts of weird people out there.   One who felt the need to argue with everything -- I couldn't see any reason I'd want to meet him in person.  One who seemed perfectly nice, but going away every weekend was a priority for him and realistically that wouldn't work with my schedule.  Another who twisted every single comment or question to be about sex.  He was really quite creative, but once in a while a straight answer would be nice.  There was one I met in person before realizing the only thing he was interested in was scrabble.  Really?  There's more to life buddy....  Despite the crazies and getting to the point where signing into my messages was work, I *did*, in-fact, actually go out with several really decent guys.  Problem seemed to be, eharmony matches like with like.  Great.  But I really don't want to date myself.  Any of these guys I could've been really great friends with.  But there was absolutely no attraction beyond "want to hang out?"  And clearly same on both sides.  And with my schedule being as crazy as it is, it's a LOT of effort to fit dating in.  If I don't *really* want to see somebody, they're going to fall off the calendar pretty quickly.

And then show season hit.  And I was pretty disillusioned with dating, so even though Steph was still helping with the barn, I took a step back.  Teaching, riding, clinicing, sailing, writing.  All good.  Life continues status-quo.  And once summer arrives, I don't need exciting.  Summer makes me happy all by itself.  Sweet.

They say when you stop looking....  Yeah I never believed that idiocy either, but in this case, truth is stranger than fiction.  I accidentally met somebody.  A couple times actually, introduced by a couple different people. And I liked him -- enough to rearrange the calendar.  And he seemed to like me enough to tolerate my crazy life -- up to and including not giving me grief when I had to ditch our second (? I think) date to deal with a colicky horse.  And one thing lead to another and all of a sudden I had a new person in my life.  And I wasn't bored any more.  Does that count as a major life change?  Ummmm I'd probably argue no -- at least, not yet ;)   But it was close enough to stabilize me for a while.

But then summer came to an end, which meant Steph needed to find a grown-up job -- or at least one that paid ;)   Which meant I had to take over the barn again.  Only now I realized how little I wanted to do it.  When I was 16, or even in my 20s, sure.  But by now the novelty had worn off.  And she and I discussed the possibility of me hiring her as stable manager and then getting another job that would pay enough to pay both of us *g*   But the simple reality is that most employers don't want to hire somebody who already runs a business.  And I don't blame them.

But no major life changes.  So I took over and Steph got a job and life continued very much as it always had (with only a *few* more social commitments -- did I mention bf's reasonably extrovert?  hahaha for the record, he and I would never have been matched with the eharmony system.  For all its pluses, it failed horribly to find me somebody.  Because, I think, sometimes happiness in life isn't about finding somebody the same, but rather about opposites and balance.  Not necessarily always easy that way, but way more fun). Back to my story.

So the school was good, teaching a blast.  Olivia was 3rd in the province with Bella, so I was pretty stoked about that.  Have a great show team lined up for next year.  All good.

Until it came time to renew our lease.  At first I thought all was good -- we were discussing the possibility of a three-year commitment.  But then my landlords wanted some inclusions I didn't feel I could meet while running a school and I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that the only way for the school to survive would be if I actually owned the property.  And I simply don't have the money to do that.  And then things spiraled downward and all of a sudden my world was chaos.  I wasn't bored anymore -- I was devastated.

I called a friend who I knew had an open barn -- if I had to move immediately, could I bring my horses to her place?  Absolutely.

Wow.  Did I mention I have awesome friends?

So then in a very long story that took place over a shorter time than it would take to type, I actually ended up selling my business to her and being hired back to teach and merge our two schools together.  See it turns out her passion is the horse-care aspect of the business, while mine is teaching.  And neither of us were really enjoying playing the other role.  So she's taking on horse-care of both our barns, and I'm taking on teaching of both our schools.

Which, for the next two months, is going to keep me all sorts of interested and challenged: the logistics of moving, scheduling, merging classes, placing new students...  All insane.  But eventually, it'll die down to teaching in the evening and showing with the students in the summer.   The parts of the job I love.  Awesome.

But not entirely financially viable...  hmmmmm so at some point in the new year, I'll likely be looking for the next challenge.  A day-job, requiring some degree of intelligence, doing...?  I don't know -- suggestions?  :) Project management is the likely candidate simply because it's what I've done before.  But open to all sorts of ideas for the next adventure :)

In the interim, everybody's been overwhelmingly-supportive and helpful.  Moving 12 horses, 2000 bales of hay, and assorted gear all before Jan 1 is going to be a challenge and a half and I'm forever grateful to those who have been and are pitching in so it can all get done!  Again - did I mention the awesome friends?   Jen even called me from France when I was having a minor meltdown just cause, well, that's what friends do.

Anyways - my therapy, as always, is writing.  So if nothing else, the blog might become a little more active again :)  Wish me luck!