Here there be dragons...

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

Is icecream for dinner a bad thing?

So I have a one-a-day calendar that's fairly random and generally interesting. But I felt the need to share this one: "After earning doctorates in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942, Norman Bourlaug took an agricultural research position with the Mexican government, where he developed varieties of wheat that had high yield and were disease resistant. Result: Mexico was able to stop importing wheat and started exporting it. He took his wheat varieties to Pakistan and India in the 1960s and doubled wheat production in those two countries. For these developments, Borlaug is credited with saving over a billion people from starvation. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970." Saving over a BILLION people from starvation?!?! OMG. Like seriously, what a thing to achieve. And yet when you consider the "great" people of the century, I'm quite certain none of us would think of Mr. Bourlaug. So this was just my modest salute to him and those like him who do amazing things only to be relegated to the obscure pages of the history books...

So several years at uni taught me to be very good at tuning out the rest of the world to focus on one thing exclusively. A very good thing in my current environment as it's often loud and chaotic. What worries me is that I find it applying in situations it shouldn't! hahaha Like somebody's talking to me and I focus on something going on in the bg and entirely miss what they're saying. This never used to happen! Not so sure I like the development of this skill set! I have noticed that by the end of the wknd I'm back to being able to focus on multiple things fairly quickly though so I have hopes that it's not a lasting thing...

So it appears that my mum and my pony have bonded :) Those friends of mine from the barn who've known me for years and never met my parents will understand the significance of this -- barn people they are not. hahaha we're not quite sure what fluky set of genes I got! >;-P Anyways my parents kindly returned my trailer to the barn for me, but were having trouble disconnecting it -- so my mum came in the arena to find me (to give an idea of how often she's been in the arena there was no yelling door -- yikes! hahaha fortunately everybody there is very kewl so it was all good; can just imagine the response I would've gotten in *some* places :) But I can't leave to fix the trailer cause of course I'm riding. So in order to go see about the trailer, she has to come hold the pony. Upon this suggestion I got the expected "you've suddenly grown a second head!" look but *then* the unexpected "ok I'll hold the horse." uh I'm sorry, what??? Ok who are you and what have you done w/ my mother??? hahaha but sure enough, she came and held her for me so I could go fix the trailer (Si, of course, couldn't care less about this :) And when I came back all was still well... Apparently somewhere in the 2-day commute home she and Si came to an understanding :)

Now while Miss Si gets bonus points for being nice to my mum, to *me* she's been behaving like... oh... a 4yo chestnut TB mare. "I don't WANT to." hahaha it was such a typical maneuver I couldn't help laughing @ her. Which of course didn't help the scenario any. Ah well. It was bound to happen.

But as far as chestnut mare's go -- got an E from Zel's new owner today; all is well in their world again and he and his granddaughters are all enjoying her. There's a line about "every horse should, at some point in their lives, have their own little girl to love them" - n I Zel seems to have ended up with two. A waste of talent perhaps, but at least she'll be forever spoiled :)

So went both riding and spinning today. Worked pretty hard in spin class. Didn't realize how much so till I was driving home. Yeah, pushing in the clutch was no problem -- letting it out at the right rate, well that required almost more physical ability than I had left!

And on that note, I'm going to vege... :)

Exploring the great outdoors

So my dressage lesson today was SO much fun! Had the opportunity to ride a superstar school-master who's forgotten far more than I've ever learned :) The first 15 mins or so were highly entertaining as I tried to find the buttons and as he, very quickly, taught me to sit still and use my aids correctly; because any "chatter" is responded to as though it were intentional. hahaha Move your leg slightly, the correspondent part of his body will move. Shift your weight and either speed, direction, or both will also change. Whether you intended it or not. Had a blast :)

This was followed up w/ taking Sienna out to play and, well, she was a superstar! hahaha what else need be said?

So overall an amazing day. Still on a high from it!

Also pretty excited that the pieces of my new website seem to be coming together. It has random testimonials poping up on each page (thanks TONS to all who wrote them for me! And to those who haven't quite got around to it yet, I'd still love to have them!). It *also* incorporates my new blog. Yes new blog -- that one really will be entirely riding/teaching related. In the off season I suspect there'll be a fair amount of cut-n-paste between the two. In show season, that one will have far more of its own identity. But the really kewl part is it's actually part of the site! Ok yeah, I'm a geek. We've already established this :) It's the little things in life. hahaha I'll post the link tomorrow when I've finished uploading things...

So I'm currently sitting w/ 3 cats and a bunny. Bilbo the bunny is doing laps around his round-pen, one of the cats is sleeping beside me, but then entertaining part is the *other* two cats who are being terrorized by said bunny! hahaha One keeps running up to the cage and as soon as Bilbo starts hoping towards him he retreats at top speed! hahaha the other one is cowering in the corner of the room watching *very* carefully every move Bilbo makes. And again, any time he hops in that general direction, the cat scoots backwards. What is it that makes any critter I'm associated with forget the natural order of things? (asks she who's last horse was terrified of deer but great friends with dogs).

Ok off for now! Have a good one.

The teacher becomes a student...

So my dressage lesson today was SO much fun! Had the opportunity to ride a superstar school-master who's forgotten far more than I've ever learned :) The first 15 mins or so were highly entertaining as I tried to find the buttons and as he, very quickly, taught me to sit still and use my aids correctly; because any "chatter" is responded to as though it were intentional. hahaha Move your leg slightly, the correspondent part of his body will move. Shift your weight and either speed, direction, or both will also change. Had a blast :)

This was followed up w/ taking Sienna (for those new to this story, Sienna is my 4yo chestnut OTTB mare; I brought her home from NC -- some souvenir eh??? hahaha. Anyways -- she's generally pretty chilled about life other than the odd track-flash-back and typical baby behaviour). -- anyways after the dq lesson, I went and got on my barely broke TB outside and, well, she was a superstar! hahaha

So overall an amazing day. Still on a high from it!


Taken from my first fox-hunting experience:

So today I went fox-hunting for the first time (think old-British photographs). I've wanted to go for quite some time, but more for the experience than cause I really thought I'd enjoy it. Well omg I had SO much fun!!!! Wow. STILL grinning :) It was, admittedly, nowhere near the adrenaline rush of XC, but it was just fun. Everybody was pleasant and welcoming, an awesome ride, and time just flew.

When I mentioned my concern about the actual "hunting" aspect of it, I was told not to worry because "the fox is way too smart to be caught by a pack of loud dogs." hahaha and sure enough, the fox survived the encounter -- although admittedly probably wasn't very happy about the whole experience, but he's still alive and well :)

How often have you been ready to go in the show ring in the middle of August, sweltering in your jacket and wondering whoever thought long, black sleeves were a good idea for a summer sport? Well of course we all know the tradition dated to hunting in England where warmth was likely a good thing... Today was the first time ever I've looked at my show jacket on a day where I had to wear it and thought "this isn't nearly warm enough!" hahaha fortunately for me, Lin, who owns Smokey, kindly lent me her warm hunt coat, so it was all good.

Well I have to admit the tradition and pageantry of the whole event appealed to me -- even if I did have to tie a stock tie stupidly early this morning *g* The colours and history... It was probably a pointless sport even a few hundred years ago (hunting in the King's forest in England) but much of the tradition has lasted. The master we were following is 82 yrs old. I will be THRILLED if I'm going that strong at that age! Galloping and jumping in the woods. Wow. The huntsman, who does this full time as a profession, is responsible for training the dogs, managing them on the hunt, caring for them, and I think (but I could be wrong here) breeding them as well. This particular huntsman is the third generation to do so for this hunt, and his neice and (I want to say granddaughter, but that might not be right -- def some of the 3rd generation below) were both whips -- taking care of preparing the next two generations. Whips basically help corral the hounds and make sure they don't stray tooooooo far off course. Was quite the sight to see one at one point sitting alone probably a mile away, across a pond and up a hill, inbetween two trees, intent on the scene in front. A Roman sentry on guard... Or maybe just a rider watching a hound in the distance -- but my imagination is more fun :)

Oh more on the imagination gone wild -- the hounds rushing through the brush was a total horror-movie moment! Where the "creature" is approaching and all you can hear is the brush rustling and you can see the leaves move, but no sign of an actual being...

So some of the things I learned today:
- the dogs are not dogs, they are hounds. Fortunately I was warned about this *before* I went so no social blunders there.
- never pass the master. hahaha this one I actually knew about and was the primary reason I was concerned about hunting Zel :)
- Under no circumstances allow your horse to kick a hound (dogs are fair game, but don't kick the hounds :)
- It's also bad to allow your horse to kick another horse.
- Kicking a person is also frowned upon, but really they should be able to get out of the way. But don't kick a hound >;-P

Somebody today told me that hunting was all about relationships, and I found that an interesting concept. There is the relationship between the huntsman and the individual hound; between the huntsman and the pack of hounds; between hound and hound; between the huntsman and the whips and the masters; between the master and the field (there were 3 masters and fields at this hunt); between the rider and their horse; between the horse and horse; between horse and hound; and of course, between all of the above and the fox! hahaha

There were just over 60 people in the hunt today. Apparently that's big for a Monday -- sort of wonder how nobody has to work, but hey more power to them :) Everybody there fell into one of two categories: those who ride to hunt or those who hunt to ride. I would def be in the hunt to ride category -- go out cause it's a fun ride, but if the horses weren't involved there'd be absolutely no point. And it was pretty easy to guess by looking around who was in each category *g*

Possibly the most impressive moment was the complete and instant silence when the hounds lost the scent. That much more intense for the cacophony of sound that preceded it. And followed it :)

Ok well I think that's enough of a novel for now :) Only one pic, just before we headed out, here:

Sport Psyc

Again stolen from the Tamarack blog:

Today's theory was sport/horse-psyc... "When you're riding, you have to be a trainer, not a competitor". If you think this one through, it makes a lot of sense. Goes along w/ the whole "ride the horse you're sitting on" concept. And of course, it's absolutely true -- if you get on your horse saying "we absolutely have to do X now" there's no way it's going to happen. In fact, it's a pretty safe way to guarantee it won't happen. And I'd be willing to bet anybody who's ridden for any length of time in any discipline will have tried it at some point, and failed miserably. hahaha I can SEE you nodding :) Of course we know I have a rather vivid imagination *g* N yes I'm guilty too -- Zel drilled that into me far better than any other horse I've ever sat on. But I eventually listened... And learned...

Ok so it's not that you just never have a plan, but more that you stick w/ the training scale and if you don't make it TO your plan you accept that and work on what needs to be done. So in dressage, if the temp has dropped 10 deg and the wind has picked up and your horse is a *little* fresh (read: "running around like a giraffe on crack" - to borrow a $700 Pony phrase), it is perhaps *not* the appropriate time to introduce piaffe. hahaha That day (esp if you are NOT a fan of the go-gallop-your-horse-before-dressage school of training) you may very well spend the whole ride finding and installing his brain. Also known as step one of said scale: relaxation. Or in jumping when your horse has SUDDENLY REALIZED there are MONSTERS living under the 2' log that he's seen a million times b4, it is, perhaps, not the day to introduce ditches. Even though there's a ditch on the course you're running next wknd.

As competitors we get very focused on what needs to be done to win the next event, reach the next level, etc etc... But as trainers we need to focus on the horse as an athlete, and what does that athlete need to work on, or even is ABLE to work on, in any given day -- w/o the "I want" in there. The horse really couldn't care less that champs are in a week. Or that your upgrade is next Sat. He sees monsters today and that's that. It's only AFTER you get rid of the monsters that you can perhaps negotiate your way to the competitor's goals -- and the only way you'll do that is to put aside the competitor and bring in the trainer.

Then to follow along w/ that is the two ways of convincing your horse to do something: persuasion and coercion... We all aim for the first (obviously :) but it's all too give in to the 2nd... You WILL do it and you'll do it NOW! Which, admittedly, is *occasionally* required. But most of the time we slide into that mode almost w/o knowing it -- the leg gets a little stronger, the hands get busy, the mind starts going "would you just DO it." N once the mind kicks in you're toast. Cause then you'll be tense and try to force it, and once the horse feels that he'll be tense. N last time I checked tense was the opposite of relaxed... Which puts you BELOW step one. Not a good place to be to fix things. (see above competitor vs trainer paragraph :) hahaha

In most sports, training the athlete psyc is how to get "into-the-zone" or remain focused or push through the wall or whatever. Riding is the *only* sport that requires this level of mental agility. To both be determined, focused, and competitive enough to make it to the top (as required for all sports); and at the same time be able to entirely turn that off to train the horse (who most definitely is not determined, focused, or competitive -- except maybe about food!) to take you there. Can you imagine if the tennis racket suddenly decided to be afraid of the ball? Would make that sport a WHOLE lot more fun to watch. Or if the soccer ball decided it'd rather eat grass than go into the net? Or if the gymnast's bar decided it didn't want to stay straight? We'd have some VERY entertaining sports :) And, more importantly, how many of those athletes would be able to deal w/ it?

So that's an awful lot extrapolated from one sentence -- see I really DID get an English degree *g* -- but I know it's something I'm guilty of so I guess it struck home... Can't count how many times my coaches have told me "you KNOW how to ride, everything now is mental." Anyways -- this is the first one I've ridden w/ who attempts to train the mental aspect as much, if not more, than the physical. He just expects that the physical skills to be there. Which I guess is fair enough given the level of most of his students.

Lessons Learned from Rachel and Chris

Also stolen from time @ Denny's:

hahaha so I am listening to the silliest conversation by the teenage type people sitting on the other couches here -- topic is "living in Canada" hahaha a fraction of the commentary is almost accurate the rest is pretty funny. Listening to them puzzle over how "bagged milk" works was what first caught my attention (apparently it's powdered -- you add water and shake!) -- it spiraled down from there :) Fortunately people randomly laughing while typing are assumed to be reading something funny on their screen, not eavesdropping on the conversation...

Today was a whole lot of theory -- n since I don't feel like typing a 2h transcript, I'll pick and choose :)

So we start with our favourite trainers: Rachel and Chris. What, you don't know them? Yeah me either. Totally randomly Denny announced "Rachel sees Chris, I see Chris" Say what?!?!?! Yeah that kinda came out of nowhere and def took me a minute to figure out... Chris? Rachel? huh??? Names (of people I almost never know but apparently should) are often thrown at me and I tend to gloss over them cause since I don't know them they don't register -- but this was a little too "See Spot run" for that. Fortunately my little brain put the pieces together before I looked like a total idiot. This would be the training scale :) Rachel and Chris being solid traditional German names of course *g* -- aka: rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, collection... Yeah the light went on -- it just had a dull bulb so took a few seconds to warm up :) hahaha

Anyways so a review of this and importance of relaxation etc somehow led to a discussion of what it takes to be a top level rider (beyond bucket loads of $ and incredible amount of skill of course :) -- anyways, one of the issues was the ability to accept and deal w/ "plateaus" in training -- both horse and rider. We've all been there -- the light goes on and things go AMAZING and you get better and better and you think you'll be a superstar by the end of the month... And then it stops. Or even worse, slides backwards as you try frantically to recreate your superstardom. And then for several months you go nowhere. And you start to wonder why, exactly, you're spending all this time, money, and effort for a sport you're *never* going to get any better at. Any of this sound familiar? As a coach, dealing w/ these plateaus and keeping your students going through them is one of the biggest challenges. As a rider, it's the only thing that's ever made me seriously consider quitting. But this one analogy of Denny's (which he freely acknowledges he stole, but I'm afraid the source - Rachel maybe? - went in one ear and out the other) resonated w/ me...

So here goes: You have a lawn right? And if you don't have a lawn, you know someone who does... This lawn grows grass. (about now the smartass side of me was saying, nope, I forgot to water it, the grass died... Fortunately the "intelligent student" side of me knows enuff to shut the smartass up and nod wisely instead :) Anyways -- to continue. The lawn has grass. Therefore you have to cut the grass. If you sit and stare at it, the grass never seems to do anything. But, as is the way of things, about two weeks later you have to cut the grass again. So when did it grow? No matter when you looked at it, you never saw it growing -- but it clearly got taller. So it is w/ developing your riding, or your green horse... It feels like you're going nowhere -- but to somebody who hasn't seen you in 2 wks, or 2 mths, or 2 years -- the difference is phenomenal. And all the time and effort you put in while sitting on that plateau will eventually help catapult you to the NEXT plateau where you can start all over again! Now doesn't *that* sound like fun?!?!? >;-P

Also had the "you can't train your horse to respond to a whisper if you're always shouting at him" lecture -- on the importance of subtle, consistent and repeated aids rather than just stronger ones. And the follow up "you must have enough fine motor control to be able to do *exactly* the same thing every time -- no matter what the horse is doing under you".

Which brought us back to Rachel and Chris and the fact that the horse *has* to be relaxed (ok which part of CHESTNUT OTTB MARE did you miss???) before anything else can work. hahaha and then there's Smokey which has taken *relaxed* to a whole new level... If Smokey were a person he'd be lying on a beach somewhere warm, smoking something that's not legal everywhere, and enjoying every second of it! hahaha

Jumping Theory

I stole this post from my time as a Working Student for Denny Emerson... For those who like theory, enjoy:

We all know the basic rider responsibilities when jumping: pace, path, position.

Well Denny divides pace into speed, balance and impulsion. (I swear I'm going to hear those words chanted at me in my dreams). The trick is that balance and impulsion are inherently contradictory. If the horse is well balanced and rocked back on its hocks, odds are good you don't have much impulsion or speed. Conversely, if you're going fast and/or have a ton of impulsion odds are good the horse is on the forehand (ok for galloping long stretches XC, NOT ok for actually jumping -- he says a lack of understanding and application of this is a huge part of the recent issues w/ upper-level fatalities; another interesting discussion that doesn't fit in here). The trick is in getting the *right* canter that combines those three things, and if you can do THAT (no problem!) the jumps are simple.

I vultured a lesson yesterday where the poor lady could not see a spot if it were wearing a collar, barking and wagging its tail. He stopped and had her focusing entirely on the quality of the canter, w/in like 2 rounds, literally, she was hitting every spot txt-book perfect. Almost unbelievable improvement. But wow did it ever make his point!

On building this ideal canter -- this is evidently the purpose of dressage (we knew there had to be one somewhere!) hahaha he says dressage is like going to the gym -- if you're riding your flat work correctly, you're engaging the inside hind and every time you do that it's weight-lifting for the horse. The more you do that, the stronger he gets, the better a chance you've got for him to be able to be balanced and going forward and UP at the same time. He's very big on the fact that all flat work must be done *correctly*. One of those common sense things that we all too often don't actually apply ;-} Just going around in circles isn't going to cut it -- and will get you yelled at regardless of whether you're in a lesson or not :)

We haven't had the "path" discussion yet -- but I don't doubt we will @ some point :)

Got the position lecture today. Basically follows DeNemethy's EQ style. VERY anti-hunters as they currently exist (that was *quite* the rant - fairly entertaining :) He likes the lower-leg more forward than most people I've ridden w/, and the knees/toes out almost ballet-style. He had the woman sit w/ her leg in its normal position and told her to try as hard as she could to keep it there -- and then he pushed it back. Then he put it where he wanted it to be and gave her the same instruction -- he couldn't move it. Leg is much stronger there. Not that it necessarily has to be there all the time (and shouldn't @ all for dressage) but that as you set up your horse for the fence in the same way you lift your chest and shift your balance (and your horse's), so should you make your leg more secure.

That being said, when I tried it today it def made my leg secure, but my horse was NOT impressed. Methinks this w/ a hot TB would not necessarily be a great plan -- BUT Denny has ridden more than his share of hot TBs so obviously it must work -- just have to find the balance of the secure but not overly-strong leg... Maybe? Don't know -- I'll ask nxt time it comes up.

So did anybody actually read all of that?

Why We Event

because the person you're competing against will complement your dressage test after all those months of training fall into place for that one spectacular test.

because complete strangers will commiserate with you when you come off XC dripping wet. And suddenly you find yourself with tons of new friends whose names you don't know simply because they understand completely.

because kind souls give up their weekend to sit by a jump or write for a judge or check tack so that you can have the chance to see just what you can do.

because when your little TB feels the need to express her excitement by jumping fences that only exist in her mind, and in the dressage warmup at that, the other people warming up just smile at her antics and give a little extra space. And you know they've all been there themselves.

because you land from that fence that was a little bigger, a little wider, or a little more technical than you were sure of, knowing you can take on the world.

because you can stand at the end of any PE/BN course and watch the riders' faces beam with pride and adrenaline as they cross the finish flags -- and know that that feeling doesn't go away no matter how high up the levels you go.

because there's nothing that can beat the feeling of finally getting all three phases to work on the same horse on the same day -- no matter what games the weather gods are playing.

because even in the torrential rain once the "3 . . . 2. . . 1. . . Have a great ride!" goes both you and your horse are set on what's coming up that the rest of the world doesn't matter.

or because, simply, the rest of the world really doesn't matter.

The Rules

And while we're at it -- for those who aren't aware of the *official* (or not so much :) rules of eventing... This list evolved as I was teaching very fun E/PT riders; in particular Nicole, Steph and Paula who rode w/ me for years helped define the most important ones! This list goes w/ me to all the shows in with the real rule book that most TDs are more familiar w/ :)

1. Keep horse between rider and ground. (hey as of Aug this is a TD rule too!!! See, it's spreading!)

2. Be happy.

3. Just keep kicking!

4. Take credit for flukes.
4a. Corollary – never discount the power of luck.

5. Jump First = Jump Alone.

6. It doesn’t have to look pretty.

7. Remember, you can ride as fast as your horse can run.
7a. Corollary – never ride faster than you can steer.

8. Stadium is simply dressage with speedbumps; therefore, yes you have to do dressage today.

9. UTube videos should NOT be tried at home. (trust me on this one!)

10. Think positively –- scary jumps are just there to eliminate the competition.

And so it begins...

Alright so blog number two! My original thought when setting up the "Blog" section of Graduate Riding School was to link to my personal blog, but then I decided that since it *often* ventures into other (that'd be non-riding) areas of life, I'd start a new one for strictly equestrian related posts. There will, obviously, be some overlap in the two, but such is life :) This one will include things like writeups of the clinics I attend, teaching vignettes, updates on horses I'm training, show stories (some of you will be familiar with those as I've written them for other barns in the past), students' adventures, etc etc. As always, comments very welcome.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it'll annoy enough people to make it worth the effort!

The other day all I wanted to do was ride my horse. I was in not the world's best mood, n it was bright n sunny out, n I figure go ride n the world will be well. Get to the barn pick up Si's foot, n she basically collapses in xties. hmmmm def not good. Go check the other leg to find out *why* she couldn't stand on it. No heat, no swelling... But the poor dear lost a shoe. Came off clean so there's really no excuse, but I guess being a chestnut mare there had to be *some* princess in her somewhere. Took her out to lunge her -- not bad, but def not 100%. So Si gets the day off. N my day failed to get any better. Esp as I, of course, could not find the shoe anywhere (funny when other people lose them I generally have no prob finding them, but finding them for *my* horse??? Well that's just not going to happen). AND my superstar farrier (who really is freakin' brilliant AND really fast about reattaching lost shoes) is away this week :( Booooo.... Classic timing. So I'm grounded till he gets home. So sad.

So our staff at work is absolutely swamped at the moment. Good for business, but absolutely insane for scheduling. Anyways, one of our clients needed a simple change made. Designers are all busy, change has to get done, therefore I have to find a way to do it. hahaha gotta admit I'm really enjoying the random challenges of the "know a little bit about everything" requirement of my job :) So sure enough get to learn *more* design software, n yes it prob took more of the designer's time answering my million and one "quick question"s than it would've taken them to actually do the job (sad but true) but the theory is next time it won't take any of their time and the job can still get done. AND I get to play w/ fun pictures for part of the day :) hahaha DID manage to pull it off and get sign-off on it (yeah me!) - which admittedly required no design skills whatsoever, but hey may as well set the bar low for first attempts eh? I don't ask Si to jump 4' (yet :) why should I?

Of course the one skill it'd be *really* handy for me to know is Flash. That sets the bar a little higher *g*. But we'll see. I have a tutorial book -- is that a good start? We won't mention that I randomly borrowed it from one of the developers who could probably write it! hahaha

hmmm so it turns out one needs power for a toaster oven to work. I don't understand unplugging the toaster. Esp just once in a blue moon. People I lived w/ in VT used to do that randomly too. Drives me insane. Esp as you can't see the plug to know if it's unplugged, so you put your toast in, n it just never toasts. The oven's even worse cause the timer works w/o power so you hear it ticking, it dings that your breakfast is ready, and... sore disappointment. Not such a good start to the day. Ok end of rant >;-P

Yeah so I totally had to go look up the origins of "once in a blue moon" -- I'm such a geek. And now I have to admit I'm a rather disappointed geek since blue moons aren't really all that rare. However, they are more rare than my toaster episodes have been of late! hahaha anyways since I *know* some of you are now thinking, yeah, what IS a blue moon? (if only cause my train of thought led you there - sorry bout that :) I thought I'd share... *dramatic pause* a blue moon is an "extra" full moon -- technically defined as a season having 4 rather than 3 full moons (in which the 3rd of the 4 is the "blue moon"), in pop culture it's defined as more than one in a month. Since our calendar doesn't exactly match the lunar cycles (it's off by approx 11 days) the extra days add up so that every 2-3 years there's an extra one (2.71722874 years to be exact *g* It's important to be exact. Or so they tell me. "They" being so exact after all :). And for the excessively curious, the next pop-culture one will occur Dec 31/09 -- making for some great New Year's Eve parties I'm sure! hahaha There is a way more fun, and way more rare, interpretation that "blue moon" is when the moon is literally blue. Which happens, well once in a blue moon >;-P Ok ok, apparently it's caused by excessive smoke, dust, etc and happens occasionally due to forest fires or volcanic eruptions. But, me doing the whole medieval lit thing, my fav note on the whole Blue Moon phenomenon was regarding the earliest usage; it occurred in a pamphlet bashing the English clergy (a dangerous hobby at that time) -- ""Yf they say the mone is belewe / We must believe that it is true" (aka: If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true). As in we're expected to believe the ridiculous just cause you say it's true??? But then, apparently he'd never looked at the moon after a forest fire >;-P

Don't you feel smarter now? I tell ya, some day that will appear on Jeopardy and you'll really impress your friends :) Cause we all know Jeopardy is such a social event >;-P

Had to laugh at an overheard conversation the other day. An automated telemarketer called the office and the guy who answered the phone put it on speaker. It said something about "press 1 to lower your credit", which he did, and then got a real live person w/ the epitomic female telemarketer voice who asked "Did you press one to lower your credit?" (seriously! hahaha I've never done this so I admit I was surprised by the stupidity of the greeting but ok). Anyways, we are on the do-not-call list, and have asked *many* times politely to be removed from the list. I figured this was where we were going again. However, he'd clearly had enough and was admittedly less-than-polite in his request that they not call here anymore before slamming down the phone. But seconds after slamming down the phone we hear "well I'm just going to call you back." (again delivered in complete sing-song telemarketer voice) hahaha sure enough, when on speaker, you don't hang up by well hanging up, you hang up by pushing the "rls" button *g* -- but that made for a more entertaining conversation. "What?" asked after some sputtering and stunned looks at the living phone and realizing about the hang-up button. "I'm going to call you back." "Well why would you do that?" by this time his tone is bemused rather than annoyed. "Well I always call back anybody who's rude to me." "You know we don't want your product, why would you waste your time? Your company's time? My time? My company's time?" "Well I have nothing better to do." At which point the peanut gallery joined in with "that is so sad." and the poor woman gave up and ended the conversation. But seriously "I have nothing better to do???" Where's that "this call may be monitored" feature when you need it eh? N how sad would it be that the only highlight to your job is that you have nothing important enough to do so you can waste time antagonizing people who've been rude to you?

So today I'm at my office, have to take a screen shot and send it to the client. NP -- hit print screen and away you go right? Yeah -- except what happens when there's no "print screen" button on the keyboard. Sheesh. Tried a few random key combos, but eventually gave up on that one and waited for one of the designers to get in. "How do you take screen shots?" (don't I feel like an idiot having to ask that)... "Oh all you have to do is cmd_shift_4_space." Uh sure. Why didn't I come up w/ that?!?!? Sheesh. >;-P hahaha made me feel better about not getting it on my own. On the plus side though, mac has some very kewl screen-shot toys that now that I know the magic buttons for will make life much easier, but still, for something that gets used a LOT by a wide variety of people, you'd think it'd have slightly more user-friendly accessibility.

Friends, pets, and pizza -- what more could a girl want?

Alright so two posts in one day is a little excessive. I acknowledge this. But the shopping one was such a diversion from life as I know it, I figured it deserved its own post.

So yesterday evening I had dinner at PizzaHut with the girls from the barn. A good 3h affair. Gotta admit I really miss doing that; used to be an after-every-horse-show occasion. Although what we had to talk about after we'd already spent 15h or so together... Well let's just say that those who know cannot explain and those who don't know can never understand. Somehow though, those dinners were always a blast and always excessively long *g* N yes, always at PizzaHut. Yesterday I was thrilled to be invited even though I hadn't technically been at the event in question :) Suffice to say my horse isn't ready for that yet, and, well, Mikaela might not've liked it >;c}

So after pigging out on pizza one of my friends came w/ me to see Sienna. Always a good idea to ride after copious amounts of junk food eh? I'll tell ya there is the occasional day that I'm grateful she's not fit enough for sitting trot! hahaha but the thing is, my pony continues to be a star. Warmed up beautifully. Picked up the right lead canter on the *first* try. Woohoo!!! And then, since I had wonderful jump crew, we jumped :) N jumped :) N jumped. Tiny fence -- I don't think any of them were over 18". But just tons of repetition till it got easy. She even jumped the scary blue half-barrels! Woohoo :) High hopes now that someday FULL barrels won't be scary either. hahaha Gotta say, that was a first for BOTH of us since I've never even seen half-barrels before we walked in the arena last night. I'm discovering advantages to having a baby horse at a barn that caters primarily to novice and/or casual riders :) And little but interesting jumps are a part of that. Now we def had to do the "stop and sniff" test, but once she passed that it was a non-issue. Woohoo. Once pony's seen a bit more of the world, she's going to be a packer. I suspect she might be a bit of a tired packer today.

Spent most of the wknd putting together a website so that I can start marketing myself to the freelance-coaching world. N I was *finally* happy with the most difficult parts of it. Yeah, somehow managed to lose the three files I spent so much time on :( Completely gone. Not in recycle bin. Not where I left them. Just vanished. N replaced w/ old versions. It's as though they didn't save, except that I had closed and reopened them w/ np so I know they did. NOT kewl :( So now I have to redo all that n honestly I just don't write as well the 2nd time around. Boooo. But I do have to say a huge thanks to everyone who's written testimonials for me! REALLY appreciate it :)

And the exciting news of the day...? I got my bunny back! Woohoo :) That's right, Bilbo, my black lion-mane bunny, is home again. Anna was generously bunny-sitting while I was away but the time had come for him to move home. The world is right when all the critters are home :)

Ok lunch is over (lunch? What lunch?) Cya!

Adventures in Shopping

So I went to the local mall w/ Bev yesterday. Now those of you who know me at all will know that I A) have absolutely no fashion sense, n B) perhaps directly related to A, I really dislike clothes shopping. Fortunately I have several good friends who are the antithesis of me in that they both have excellent fashion sense and LOVE to shop (it takes all kinds eh?). hahaha so my usual strategy when I get to the point of being in desperate need of new clothing is to either buy what's on the mannequin (this has varying degrees of success) or better yet, take one of said friends to some store or another and let them find me stuff, which I will reluctantly try on, be appropriately amazed when it actually looks good, and buy -- going home feeling relieved that I won't need to repeat the procedure for another while. My friends have learned to be quick about this too, cause there's definitely an "off" switch to my patience for this game which tends to flick while they're just getting started *g* N if I'm on my own, flipping through racks of clothing to find something is simply not going to happen. This is why the God of Advertising (mini-diversion: The God of Advertising, we'll call her Adverta, never got her proper recognition in the times when the multiple gods were worshiped individually cause her providence hadn't been invented yet!). Ok back to our regularly scheduled (we have a schedule???) story... Short version: Lauren hates browsing so Adverta kindly invented the previously-mentioned mannequins.

All that being said, yesterday's mall experience was not supposed to be about clothing -- I was in search of such things as Hallmark, Shoppers, Telus, and of course, the book store :) All of which I'm entirely happy to peruse, so I was quite happy to embark on this particular excursion. N by the end I had completed the list except . . . Yes that's right, the one clothing-related item (see, there *was* a point to the last paragraph!). I needed more work-appropriate tops. That being said, I knew fully well I couldn't actually afford to buy clothing at this particular mall, so I figured I was safe from this task for one more day at least. hahaha But Bev suggested we at least take a look, n so we did, but nothing really appealed so I was saved from having to try anything on >;-P

Then we got to this one store that I really like. Now I really like it for a few reasons, not the least of which is they have a HUGE petit section (hmmmm does that strike anyone else as slightly oxymoronic?) Now, for those not in the loop (of which I'm generally one), petit does not mean small, dainty, etc as its connotations might suggest. It just means short. When you can find 38X (or insert whatever size you personally might consider less-than-petit here) in the "petit" section, you have to acknowledge that sad fact. What's worse, is that since, without fail, this is the only place I've ever found clothing that fits me properly, I have also had to acknowledge that I am, indeed, short. >;-P hahaha fortunately I've had some time to come to terms w/ this fact, n generally enjoy it now, so all is good. So the clothes in this store are generally colours/styles that I like AND they usually fit. Brilliant eh? And I can see the intelligent amongst you saying "well why doesn't she just shop there all the time? It'd make life so much easier and her poor friends wouldn't get dragged into the whole fiasco." Well, ladies and gentlemen, the catch occurs in that I can only afford this particular store when they are having a 50-75% off sale. N let me say, imho, this does not happen nearly often enough. As in I've only actually seen it once. Once. Once to get me in n make me realize what I'm missing. Oh how I miss my ignorance >;-P Regardless, it turns out that Bev's tastes are similar to mine (I apparently come by them honestly :) while her budget and sincere dislike of clothes shopping are not *g* So we went into the store and she found a few tops to try on, n after a few discrete looks at price tags I had ascertained that indeed reality still existed and I had better restrict myself to browsing. N so I wandered aimlessly around the store, briefly considering if anything was worth handing to Bev in the changeroom to try, when out of the corner of my eye, shoved way back at the end of the room, a brilliant shiny colour caught my attention. So I wandered over to see what it was, n stuffed on a hanger was a shimmery floor-length dress. A very simple dress, in a style I wasn't sure about; it was one of those that was either going to be stunning or hideous. And it wasn't on a mannequin so how could I tell? *g* Now you have to understand, this is a reasonably formal dress, and most of my friends got married *last* year, so odds of me having anywhere to wear it are pretty slim, and I was in a store where I couldn't technically afford a t-shirt. N yet, I was really curious whether it'd fall under the stunning or hideous category, n I had nothing else to do, AND one of the three there was exactly my size, so . . . Yes that's right, for the litterally the first time in my life, I tried on something I had absolutely no intention of purchasing just so I could see how it looked. N when I came out to twirl around in the 3-way mirror (yes I am at least *that* much of a girl :), Bev had already left the changeroom area, but the rather astute sales lady who had easily made the connection between us called her back. She walks around the corner, takes one look, n says "wow". hahaha I guess that answers the stunning or hideous question (although to be honest, the mirrors had answered that too :) But it was the next statement that really surprised me: "I think I should buy that for you." N I have to admit, once I realized she was serious (ummmm you do realize I have nowhere to wear it?), I was def pretty excited about it. That's right, she who generally despises the whole clothes-shopping experience, tried on a dress she had absolutely no reason to, and (with some help) brought it home. So it may have taken 30 years, but for at least half an hour yesterday (n another 20 min today typing my story) I was, in fact, a girl :)

The girl did not, however, succeed in improving her work wardrobe any >;-P hahaha ah well. Jen you up for some shopping?

What do you say when there's nothing to say?

So had a fun ride today -- my pony was on speed. hahaha the others in the ring were highly amused by this. She wasn't being bad @ all, but she was pretty determined that we were going somewhere and going to get there yesterday! It was actually fairly entertaining. IPosting at that rate is a workout and a half >;-P We also got to jump with a ring crew! woohoo :) Turns out there are some advantages to riding around a beginner jumping lesson. hahaha little jumps small enough to be appropriate for Si, and people willing to put them back up if we knock them down. What more can you ask?

We even cantered a fence! And ground crew said her form was really good :) Yeah us! Still a long way from the likes of Grandview, but hey it's still a jump in the right direction.

Yeah so it turns out I actually have nothing of interest to write today -- I was just really psyched about the ride today and thought I'd share :)

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination.” - Lasorda

So is it a bad thing that I'm planning a show season for a horse who doesn't technically canter or jump yet? Much less do anything that even vaguely resembles the fine arts of dressage or xc? hahaha My dedication to "just having fun" seems to have entirely disappeared. Oops :) Now seriously, who here is surprised by this? Yeah I didn't think so >;-P

Yesterday I was determined to ride outside. N sometimes determination outweighs intelligence >;-P Just cause it was perfect weather at noon does NOT mean it was such a good idea by the time I finished work and actually got to the barn. The temp had dropped, n the wind had picked up to a crazy level... N I own a somewhat unbroke chestnut TB mare. Who has never been in this ring before, and never been ridden surrounded by traffic, and generally doesn't care for being alone. Any ONE of these issues should have been enough to raise a "this isn't a great idea" flag, but one of my girlfriends was with me and her "oh well I know first aid, I can rescue you" was all the encouragement needed >;-P Oh comeon, I wasn't alone on the property. That's a HUGE step up from how I usually play these games. N so what if her first aid might've expired a decade ago; I know for a fact she can work a cell phone and there's excellent service @ this farm so it's all good.

The one thing I had going for me is the fact that Sienna is not particularly fit (and I have to admit, I'm being careful not to *get* her too fit until I can actually ride her. So with the aid of a lunge line, she got to run around and play add w/o me worrying about her losing her balance w/ me on top through the antics "omg there's a truck! Oh look a car! A TREE?!?! Where'd that come from? Anothercar?!?!omgwhat'sTHAT???everywhere-I-turn-there's-something-new!RUNRUNRUNRUNRUN" Now you have to understand, from her TO paddock she can see one reasonable road (think busy 2 lanes of 80km/h traffic), so she's used to the basics of traffic. But now we have a significant hwy (8 lanes of insane traffic) on one side of the ring, the road she's used to on another, and an equally busy road on the third side. The forth side is a field -- housing the monster tree.

So needless to say when I hooked her up to the lunge line away my speedy pony went :) Now I generally wait till I see signs of relaxation before I get on (tail dropping is usually step one). Well honestly, that never happened. But she *did* tire herself out enough that I got on her anyways. N, get this, she *walked*!!!!!! hahaha now I realize to the non-horse-people out there that sounds like less than nothing and certainly not worth ONE exclamation mark, much less several *g* But to those who have worked w/ ottbs in the past will understand all too well what an amazing breakthrough it can be to get on their horse in a revved environment and have them at least feign a semblance of calm. So I rode for all of like 10 mins n she was a superstar, so my friend got on her and she was STILL a superstar. Woohoo. Remained calm, n looked so good :) Sometimes it's fun to watch your horse go. N while we're still very much at baby stage, I can't help but compare her to the Sienna I started with (rear and spin left to avoid going right, back away to never-never land while putting on a bridle, xties?!?! yeah right, etc etc etc). Ah the fun and games of babies.

So first show??? Foggy River combined maybe? hahaha yeah right >;-P Grandview? That'd give me all of one more week. hmmm I think the key is going to be finding some XC to school :) Anybody want to go play?

Carefully controlling chaos...

So after I've been on the job for three weeks, my boss left on a 2.5wk vacation to France. And it sounds like an *amazing* trip (I'm appropriately jealous :). No worries there. The tricky part is that he left me in charge. hahaha classic eh? Now those who've known me for longer than the blog's been in existence, which I'm sure is like 90% of the handful of people reading this, will know this is not the first time I've been left in charge of somebody else's business, and is certainly the most undramatic reason for it. But it IS the first time I've been left in charge of a business I know very little about! It's one thing to take over when you know the business, know the clients, can preform the roles of any and all staff if necessary, and have a strong support system in place. It's quite another when you only know bits and pieces about the clients, can't do anybody's job but your own, and speaking intelligently about the business is an prime example of the supreme art of bs.

hahaha but like all good managers, I've mastered the twin techniques of delegating and deferring! That and I work with some really amazing people so those techniques actually work *g* Had to laugh though cause one of the things that was left on my plate was to write a proposal for company X. No problem, I've written proposals before, I know how this works. Oh wait, this is a design firm. They don't write proposals -- they draw them! I have *never* seen a proposal as fancy as the ones they turn out. N of course have absolutely no idea how to go about creating such an item. Ok so the guys are really busy cause, well we have a ton of work and one of our people is in France, so have to figure out how to do this. CS degree would indicate I'm reasonably proficient with a computer, should be no problem right? uh huh. Shall we revisit that statement with even a modicum of technological experience...?

First step was to locate on the server our previous proposals (I know fully well there's no template -- there certainly *will* be after this game but as of yet, it does not exist). Ok so turns out there's a step before step one, that'd be "turn server on". hahaha welcome to a small firm. So server boots and I find some examples of old proposals. They're stunning. Brilliant works of art. All in pdf format. Which of course means I can't actually use them as anything other than decoration. Ok now at least I know what I'm looking for. Search around a little more and find the design files. Woohoo. Open one up and . . . PINK. Yup that's right. The text is all distorted and the entire document is pink! Now I may be new to this, but somehow that just didn't seem *quite* right. So went and turned on boss' computer and found the same file there. Sure enough, no pink. Turns out that while my mac does have all the design software on it, it is lacking many of the plugins that the design guys use all the time. So no biggie, I'll just work from my boss' computer. One computer's the same as another right? (right about now all the techies are having a great laugh at that)

Well the first thing is, he has two monitors. TWO. Never in my life have I worked with two monitors on one machine before. Why do you need two monitors? All this I'm muttering to myself as random windows are appearing and disappearing in strange and unusual ways (again, keep in mind, it's a mac environment which I'm still not entirely comfortable with. One time I gave up entirely and had to ask one of the guys where my window had gone! Way to feel like an idiot.). Anyways, I have to admit by the time I was done with this procedure I'd come to LOVE the two screens and was very sad to have to return to my one lonely one. Once I figured out where things were going it was soooooo much easier! hahhaa Ok so to reset the screen - I'm working on a mac that's not mine and that has things set to display in strange and unusual locations but despite this I found several files and got them open. Picked the one closest to what I have to do and decided to use that as a template. Promptly start moving things around. Or trying to anyways. Turns out things don't move in the way I expect them to. N in fact often do decidedly what I do *not* expect. So revised that decision, turns out things are perfectly good in the order they're in :) Edit some text, get things pretty, the world is good. Except the footer still has the old client's name in it. And I cannot for the life of me figure out how to change it. Read through all the menu options, look for a template or a master slide, nothing. Ok now comeon, it clearly got put there in the first place, there has to be a way to change it. Well remember the whole delegate and defer thing? Yup go to the top designer "I need to borrow your expertise" - it's amazing what a response that can get :) So he comes over and gives me a crash course in this particular software (including how to reorg those pages!) n two mins later we're off n running. World is good. Proposal is typed, pretty pics are in place, appropriate samples included, all is well except the actual quote... Yeah turns out I have *no* idea what this type of project involves! hmmm perhaps boss really *should* have done this before he left as he was supposed to eh? hahaha hindsight's a nasty little bugger, esp when he comes along w/ his little brother "I told you so". But that's for my boss to deal with after he gets back, by which point we'll have the contract or not and it will be pretty well a non-issue. To be fair, I did ask those who've been involved in proposals before their opinion and then used it exactly as suggested. No point in deferring to the expert if you're not going to apply what they say eh?

But seriously, all this turned a half-hour job into a half-day job. I'm starting to see why I never get out of here on time. On the plus side, I @ least have some idea what I'm doing now so future ones shouldn't be quite so traumatic. And I must say, I turned out a very pretty looking proposal >;-} N yes I freely acknowledge I didn't actually have anything to do w/ the actual design, but surely that's a *minor* detail hahaha

Now by the end of this day I've been sitting staring @ a monitor (or two) for about 11h. Haven't really eaten much. Haven't gotten to enjoy the amazing weather. Am working up a pretty good pitty-party for myself that's only slightly salved by the fact that there's no traffic (yeah March break!) on the drive home. Now I'm supposed to go to spinning class (where all sorts of strange women spin around in circles till they crash.... oh wait no, this'd be the sit on a bike and pedal fast version), and am sort of wavering between "do I go, don't I go" but my car gets off at that exit (all by itself!) so to spinning I go... Now I get there and doesn't the instructor (who I have to admit is absolutely amazing) tell us "today's going to be a really hard one. We're going to do an endurance stretch to warm up and then straight up-hill the rest of the ride." You have GOT to be kidding me. Well I have to admit it was a great workout n definitely spun away the stresses of sitting at a desk all day, but still... A *little* excessive >;-P hahaha

Ok well now it's back to fun and games at the office.


How to hack in 5 easy steps :)

There's no hacking where I'm boarding right now, so for me to hack is a multi-step occurrence.
Step 1 -- have good weather.
Step 2 -- find someone to ride with.
Step 3 -- find somewhere to ride.
Step 4 -- go ride.
Step 5 -- come home.

Easy right? Ok well steps 1 and 2 fell into place quite well -- yesterday we heard that Mother Nature was in a great mood and today was supposed to be amazing, so Kerri (that'd be step 2) and I started looking for somewhere we could go hacking together. Unfortunately the only place we could find that was open to horses at this time of year was the rail-trail in Dundas, n its footing would be too hard for Kerri's barefoot horse. Not to mention a rather intense first hack *g* Given straight line always (nowhere to circle to regain control -- not that that'd be necessary of course :), lots of pedestrians, pets, cyclists, n of course having to turn around n come back the same way we went out (see first point about the lack of circle :). So I had resigned myself to the fact that the first nice day of the year would be spent indoors. But I thought there might be some trail out there I didn't know about (oh let’s be honest, I don't know about *any* of the trails!) so I posted something on Facebook asking the world for their ideas... N in response Shannon invited us to come to Gorstella to hack (thanks Shannon -- you're awesome)! Beyond perfect since there'd be no cyclist or pedestrians to run into for Si's first real hacking experience (as opposed to cool-out @ Denny’s, which is the closest we’ve come). AND it's about half way between where Kerri's horse lives and where my horse lives. All good. Woohoo -- steps 1 through 3 in one paragraph.

But step 4, now that's where the fun really begins. Now I remember the last time I tried to load Sienna... With this in mind I called for reinforcements :) So Jen being the amazing friend she is came all the way out to the barn to meet me to help me get said pony on the trailer. So she brought Si in (I adore this horse, she always comes to the gate when you call so you don't have to go through the mud :) while I hooked up the trailer... So far so good. Till Si realized she was the *only* horse being brought in -- really sad that Jen had to hold her for me so I could tack her up >;-P hahaha someday Si'll be well trained, but we're not *quite* there yet. So we take her out to load her. N just as Jen's saying "she's just going to walk straight on" she stops. So much for positive thinking. N sure enough, as with before, she's not bad -- there's no drama involved. Simply "no". It took me, Jen, Bridget (BO where Si lives who kindly stopped in the middle of her insanely busy day to help out!) a lunge line and a broom to convince Miss Sienna to get on. N she wasn't the least bit stressed about this whole procedure, just not particularly interested in getting on... hahaha

But on she got. Eventually. Called Kerri -- her horse *is* well trained so figured there wasn’t any point to her loading till she knew Si was on n ready to go -- and away we went... Drove to the barn n park said trailer. Si is yelling and screaming n just generally stressing herself out. So I pull her off the trailer, expecting the attendant drama, n she steps off, trots a tiny circle around me, snorts once, n promptly starts grazing. N continued to do so quite calmly while I chatted with random people and waited for Kerri. Seriously like school-pony calm. I'm *reasonably* certain I brought the right horse! hahaha but you wouldn't've known it then :)

Kerri gets there, unloads, n tacks up -- in *dressage* tack!!! I was all impressed :) We head down to the valley (I *love* the valley) n pony's still super-calm. If I were more awake I’d describe this place for you, but I’m not, so use your imagination  Maybe nxt time I’m there I’ll give a better descrpt. Lunge for a few minutes, n she's a superstar so go to the nearest XC fence and hop on. It was about as undramatic as it gets. When did I inherit a school pony? Could only walk really as the footing was somewhat slippery (just as well cause if not those xc fences would've been *very* tempting). Now I will admit, for those who are familiar w/ the property, we did not manage to make it across the rapidly-flowing river *g* We waded into the shallows but that's about it. N Si wasn't thrilled at that. So one day w/ either water-proof boots or a good water-broke horse we'll have to come school again. But other than that she was an absolute superstar! Yeah pony :)

Ok how did this post *get* so long. Sheesh. Clearly need an editor >;-P After all, that's not my job description any more :) So step 5 was easier than one would imagine. With Kerri's help and the fact that Sienna was pretty tired by this point, we had her on the trailer fairly easily. But *then* I had to back up and get turned around. Yeah right >;-P hahaha but seriously, with Kerri's help (seriously Ker, if the whole office thing doesn't work out for you, you might want to consider opening a truck-driving school! I’ll be your first student – Steve can substitute teach when necessary :) actually managed to get turned around. Could NOT have done it w/o her telling me exactly what to do with each roll of the tires, but *did* in fact get pointed the right direction. Woohoo! Drove her home n then had to figure out how to get her off the trailer alone. Except that she was still in school pony mode so it was no problem. Walked off as calmly as could be :) So there IS hope for show season! AND I actually managed to back the trailer back into its space. Yeah me :) Ok end of mini-brag *g*

Now I'm absolutely exhausted for reasons I haven't figured out. Def too tired to make this a reasonable length post :) N thanks to the mountains of people required to make this afternoon actually happen: Kerri (required to make *anything* happen :), Shannon, Jen (making all sorts of non-blogged things happen these days >;-P -- oh I didn't get into spin class on Mon. Boooo.), Bridget, Mother Nature, Si, and Beast :) -- wow that's an excessive amount of effort for me to go ride around for an hour. hahaha I have awesome friends :) By the end of the summer, that will be down to Si, Beast, n Me :) W/ prob one or both of Jen n Ker but cause they really *want* to be there rather than cause I've dragged them into my adventures. hahaha Well that's the goal anyways. Ok must sleep now. Night!

"Be pleasant until 10:00am and the rest of the day will take care of itself."

Ok so I get up this morn, really not feeling like getting out of bed. It's still dark. And cold. N I'm thoroughly snuggled in my nice big comfy bed w/ the cat purring nearby. However, get out of bed I did and was out the door only about 2 min late. Not tragic.

Then I get on the highway. W/in about 3min, traffic is stopped. Now I know at that time of day a couple of minutes can make a *huge* difference in traffic. But usually on my drive in the traffic stops on the Gardiner, shortly after the Lakeshore exit. I was literally 2min late. N now it was stopped in Oakville??? Def not kewl. So I'm sitting there n it's not *quite* stop-and-go, I can leave my car in 2nd gear just have to be on and off the clutch a lot. So figure may as well enjoy it n turn up the volume a little. About the time I *would* usually be at work, I'm still not even to Mississauga road, so I call in. No answer, but ok. Leave a message that I'm stuck in traffic and will get there when I get there. Of course just about as soon as I hang up the phone I can see where the problem is (construction lane closed that they didn't reopen in time) n shortly thereafter am on my merry way again. Get to work about 40min later than normal n my phone rings while I'm parking the car. ummm ok, everybody I know is either asleep or on their own way to work but sobeit. Answer n it's my boss - who is always in before me. "I called the office and you weren't there so I just wanted to make sure you weren't stuck somewhere or having problems w/ the alarm." Apparently he's working from home this morn and will be in later -- fair enough, but classic that that's when I'm running late! hahaha So tell him all good and I'll call if I'm stuck -- fully expecting now that I will indeed be stuck cause, well, let's be honest that's how my world works. But no, it's all good.

Make it in the office no problem. Alarm starts beeping -- that's ok I know the code. Oh wait -- I know the code in *letters* and it's a numeric pad. With no letters. So while I'm sitting there spelling out the alphabet to figure out which numbers go w/ which letters (which of course I can txt blind, but somehow staring a beeping blank keypad while still in a traffic-coma, it did not occur to me to apply this skill-set). Anyways, needless to say this takes way too long and all the alarms go off. So now we have flashing lights and loud sirens. Good morning! Sheesh. N of course all this is supposed to be very disconcerting and scare the burglar off. All it did for me was wake me up enough to stop being an idiot. Dig out my cell phone, locate the appropriate letters, and key them in. All is well.

Sign into my email and w/in about half an hour have messages from two of the guys also saying they're running late. Just one of those mornings I guess.

So apparently I busted a myth today. A few years ago Kerri (@ least I *think* it was Kerri) and I were in the office @ the barn n I was making my winter sustanance (that'd be hot chocolate) n when I put the powder in the microwaved hot water it bubbled over much as a carbonated drink does after being put in a paint shaker. N we puzzled over this for a bit, but decided it was still drinkable and very quickly the story faded from memory (being replaced by oh such more important things as "buy more hot chocolate"). Fast-forward a year or so to one of my rare nights in front of the tv set and sure enough Myth Busters is tackling the "items exploding after microwaving" myth... ummm huh? But sure enough my carbonated hot chocolate issue was infact a microwave issue. And wide enough spread that Myth Busters felt the need to take it on. N yes, it was confirmed, if you microwave your water hot enough and put something in it, it explodes. Tons of fun. hahaha so anyways -- I've done this enough over the years now that I sometimes have a feeling it's going to explode I'm usually right (don't know what it is about it that tells me that but sobeit). hahaha so sure enough water is in explosion mode so instead of being an adult and waiting maturly for it to cool off a bit, I say offhand "hey guys, this'll explode" -- well far more amusing than the exploding hot chocolate (which was appropriately impressive) was the reaction of the guys. Always thought that was a myth, never seen that before, etc etc etc. So while I did have to acknowledge that I was not the first to bust said myth, I was still entertained by the reaction. N for the curious: -- they say it's not all that common, but I certainly see it at least a few times a year; only ever with older microwaves though -- not sure why, but that's been my experience. On the down side I had to clean up the exploded hot chocolate and start over, but like I said "one of those mornings."

N it's not even 9:30 yet. How's your day going?

Laughter is an orgasm triggered by the intercourse of sense and nonsense.

So randomly drove to Ottawa and back on Monday -- 11h round trip. No problem :) New playlist on the ipod and away I went. Good thing I didn't have company cause I definitely rocked out for like the first 4 h of the drive. hahaha And made it home in time for 6:00 dinner plans. How impressive is that? Was a *little* disturbed by the number of cars in the ditch along the 401. All decorated w/ pretty yellow-tape-of-caution. Do wish I'd had more time to hang out in Ottawa though. Must do that @ some point!

Was at a "project management" dinner the other night -- classic networking type education thing. But had to laugh that at the end when a random person came over to speak to me "so is it your first time here?" "ummm yeah" <-- :="" a="" about="" after="" all="" always="" amused="" at="" be="" bemused="" br="" brilliant="" by="" can="" challenge="" conversational="" d="" day.="" driving="" easily="" eh="" fact="" figured="" gym="" hahaha="" he="" how="" i="" it="" just="" know="" life="" like="" little="" lot="" m="" my="" new.="" not="" only="" ou="" person="" say="" seemed="" skills="" smiling="" so="" surely="" that="" the="" they="" to="" toasted.="" trainer="" truly="" w="" was="" what="" when="" working="">
I didn't think that was all *that* unusual, but the number of people who've commented on it in random situations has made me think perhaps it is. Ah well, if I have to be socially unacceptable, being too happy isn't a bad thing >;-P Afterall, "laughter is an instant vacation" -- n honestly, the only one I can afford these days! N really, who wouldn't want a daily (hourly?) vacation? hahaha was out to dinner w/ one of my best friends the other night n we were gossiping about something (hence the whole point of dinner :) when I made some, perfectly normal (uh huh - you've been reading this long enough not to believe that) comment. To which her response was to draw a box in the air with her fingers: "here's the box". and then she draws a stick person way over on the other side of the table "and here's Laur". hahaha made me laugh. I'm pretty sure that drawing's going to become my fb avatar soon :) I'll be sure to make it a smiley face >;-P

Miss Si continues to be a superstar. Jumped her first vertical today! Woohoo! Now admittedly it was all of about 16", but she cleared it by about 2' so technically it was a jump. We won't mention that she simply went *through* the X I'd aimed for first; pony's becoming just a little blasé about the whole X thing. Clearly time to move on. Now if only we could canter, we'd be set! Ah well -- soon enough. Had to laugh though -- she hates it if I hold her mane. I can brush it, pull it (which I have to admit was a huge relief), whatever. But if I just hang onto it, be it mounting, or taking a wicked leap over a tiny fence that I don't want to risk catching her mouth, or just goofing around, she is not amused. First horse I've ever had with that reaction. N have to admit it amuses me enough that I do it just to tease her. I'm a pest *g* N I miss Zel who had all sorts of *things* like that (Thou shalt NOT put reins over her head while x-tied. Doing any exercise more than twice is against her religion. Boredom = hallucination. etc etc etc.) I may be a little pscy -- see above paragraph -- but I actually *enjoyed* that aspect of her personality *g* hahaha so it's fun to see even the tiniest bit of it in Si. But realistically I'm hoping she'll get over it soon enough. N I think she will -- she doesn't have the drama-queen gene.

Ok well enough of that.

Sleep now. Night!

If you have the choice between humble and cocky, go w/ cocky...

... There's always time to be humble later when you've been proven horrendously, irrevocably wrong. -- K Freedman

hahaha ok so that has nothing to do w/ anything but it amused me so I thought I'd share :)

Well I’ve made it through two weeks at work. In some ways it seems like it's still my first day; in others it's as though I've been there for years. Getting a little easier now that I’m a bit caught up. Still trying to fill in some missing pieces, but at least I have time to breath once in a while now :) The guys I work with are a blast – makes for far more interesting days than any other office I’ve spent time in. N I have to admit to being thoroughly impressed by the whole artistic creativity thing. That’s a skill I’m afraid I’ll never have. But it’s kinda entertaining being surrounded by those who do. Everytime somebody feels the need to explain themselves by drawing pictures instead of just telling me or sending an email I wonder whether I should file it or frame it *g*

It is a brutal lack of exercise though I have to admit. Sitting all day is brutal. Been trying to make sure to go out @ lunch, but more often than not I just work through it – tricky.

Miss Sienna was a superstar today. Although I firmly belive that had far more to do with the 20deg increase in temperature than any brilliant breakthrough *g* She managed to canter w/ two other horses cantering and only *slightly* lost her mind :) She's getting super good about other horses coming towards her; really not so good about horses coming up behind her though! Baby steps. hahaha

Ok well I think it's bedtime now. Really looking forward to a couple days w/ nothing to do but ride :) Night!

Giraffes and dragons and ponies.... oh my!

So I got to the barn today and pulled Si out of her stall to see that her leg is covered in a reasonable amount of blood :( Now we all know that first few days in a new herd lead to scrapes and bruises, but I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, she'd get through this move injury free. But no, sufficient blood that it's not likely a scrape, so I start checking out her leg hoping that it's drama but superficial. Nope. Not superficial. Not at ALL! hahaha seriously -- not her blood. There wasn't a scratch on her. So I found the BM and suggested that she might like to check the *other* horses that were in the TO paddock w/ her. Yup, she took on the boss. N apparently won. Other horse is fine too thankfully -- a bit scraped up but not tragic (not even unsound). Still have no idea how she managed to get blood there, but sobeit. I'm just hoping that's the end of it; unfortunately I know better... *sigh* We shall see...

Anyways -- I'm pretty well convinced my horse was completely oblivious to my presence tonight >;-P I think she just felt she'd been turned out in the arena with the other three horses who were running and playing and she should join in as she felt fit *g* She'd be superstar pony, soft and round (she's actually getting the hang of this now!!!) and then all of a sudden her brain would fall out her ear and I'd have giraffe on crack (well short giraffe) spinning in a circle to run and play w/ the other horses cantering around *g* I swear it's as if I wasn't even there; didn't matter what I did, I had no influence in the scenario. She wasn't being dangerous, and wasn't even trying to drop me; just wasn't even acknowledging my presence. The snorting and spinning was amusing the other riders though (who I have to admit were being amazingly considerate of her antics!) It's amazing how a snorting (fire breathing?) horse can catch the attention of everybody in the ring even when she's not doing anything really wrong *g*

Still having fun riding other people's horses -- nice to be able to do more than Si can and to relax a bit :) Driving all over ON to do so is getting a little old -- have to admit I'm *loving* having my horse @ a barn that's 15min from home! Haven't had that since I was 10 (well except for Denny's!) AND on the way home from almost every other barn I go to :) Means she doesn't get missed just cause I'm riding for someone else :)

On various forms of transportation...

Ok so who out there knows about cars? Cause mine's playing funky games... So sitting in stop and crawl traffic and it starts getting very unhappy and reaks -- smells like burning rubber :( Not fun. So in first/second/third gear when you let it settle into the gear to cruise the car feels like it's going to stall and then rattles -- it feels like going over rumble strips. N then it's ok till you change gears again. Entirely happy at high speed, but those low ones are very scary. So yes, car has been deposited at the dealership. Very afraid of what this might cost me. boooo

On the up side -- my pony was once again a superstar. Although I think she may've just been too stunned to know what to spook at *g* To give you an idea -- we went in the ring and there's one horse lunging and a second rider getting on. There's a coach w/ her rather large dog (on a leash but leash not attached to anybody or anything) in the middle. Two young kids playing on the viewing platform (they were pretty well behaved but still) n lots of people randomly going in and out of the ring. If we keep going this way and she stays kewl w/ it, show season is going to be a breeze. Unfortunately that's a rather large "IF" hahaha but still, pretty happy w/ today. AND she seems to remember a reasonable portion of what she learned at Denny's! Woohoo!!!!

Light travels faster than sound; this is why some people appear intelligent until they speak.

So I would just like to announce that I adore my little horse. She *really* wasn't too sure what to make of the pony that joined us in the ring -- but then, we all know ponies are evil so can't really blame her for that *g* -- but other than that, she was awesome. Has lost any and all muscle on the right side and most of it on the left -- but at least that shows me that she had it to lose! hahaha it's the little things in life eh?

The arena is the dustiest I've ever been in *sigh* -- and that is saying something. But the footing was good. The handful of people I met were all super friendly and easy going so tis a good start.

Had a fun time being a tourist this weekend -- in Toronto :) Yup you read that right. Try it some time -- seriously, how often do we do the tourist thing in our own home towns? I've seen far more of several other countries than I've ever seen of Canada (will remedy that eventually :)... We just don't do the touristy thing when it's always available. So I took a girlfriend who's never been downtown before and we did the winter tourist thing. Subway, ROM, Eaton Center, PATH hike (really boring when it's not during office hours and everything is closed), etc etc. Photos here if you're interested. Determined to play the game again when it's summer and we can enjoy being outside :)

Am watching one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen -- but it's strangely addictive... Find myself captivated to see what incredibly strange twist will happen next.

On a completely unrelated note: -- this is very kewl. Seriously snazzy-looking electric car, highway safe, available in Canada. Currently sport-car expensive, but apparently a normal version available next year. Huge kudos to the guy who designed it and when rejected by the car companies went ahead and developed it on his own!