Here there be dragons...

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

New Template

Ok so I like this one much better! May sub in one of my own castle pics (once I play with it a bit :) but in general I'm much happier with this than the tree :) All I need is a dragon in the top left corner and I'm set! Anybody have a dragon they want to share? :)

Lost in an enchanted forest

A video worth watching. It's a Ukraine artist - Kseniya Simonova, 24 - who tells the story of WW2 as seen through the eyes of an average person through sand drawings on an illuminated table.

An unusual talent, but very impressive.

So this time last year I was in NC -- and the weather was suitable for XC. Quite the difference a year has made. Well in some ways :) Still seem to be no closer to having my own stable *blah* but otherwise life is good. Superpony is ridable now (most days -- had a ride n a half today!) so that's a plus :)

Doing the New Year's Eve Movie Marathon thing. This year tis all Bond :) Next year maybe I'll throw a party -- that could be an interesting deviation from my usual "ignore the night" strategy. Although most of my friends seem to disappear to places unknown for New Years so might be less of a good idea. hahaha but we shall see :)

A short vid any who love fiction, or fantasy, or dreams. My fav of the lines: "When was the last time you got lost in an enchanted forest? or were kissed by a prince . . . who turned into a frog?" (the vide is only about half the length indicated by the scroll bar, the rest is credits :)

So of three things I intended to do today, I accomplished exactly one of them; and that only because I needed help with it and the person able to help me was available today. Sheesh.

I'm so not ready for my week off to be over.

The Joys of House Sitting

So I'm house sitting this week (I know, kinda defeats the purpose of vacation eh?) and I went out this aft knowing it'd be reasonably late when I got back, so purposely left some lights on. Makes house seem lived in and makes me more comfortable coming in. All round good solution right? Except that when I got back tonight, the lights were all out. Definitely had me sitting in my car in the driveway questioning whether or not I should actually go in. Double checked the address, but really, I knew it was right. Rang the doorbell a couple times and waited a few mins. But other than the lights being out, the house seemed as it should. Thinking maybe they're on some sort of auto-shut-off or something? (ok dumb I know, but no stranger than lights randomly turning themselves off!) Come in the house, look around. Everything seems ok. But something that was on the floor when I left was sitting on the couch. Very creepy. Until I remembered noticing a cheque for the cleaning crew. And sure enough, it was gone. I'm not convinced the house is actually any cleaner, but it does explain the lights off and the moved item. Mental note though -- if you leave somebody looking after your house, tell them if who else is likely to be there! Sheesh >;-P

Off to sleep with me. Maybe.

Temporary New Template

So since my sunset has vanished (lesson learned -- all images to be stored locally!) tis time to find a new template. Really not fond of this particular one, but figured it'd do till I found a new one to love. This is where I wish I had artistic ability! Ah well.

So I'm sick and I'm tired and generally not impressed with the world. Blah. Signed on to do some writing but spent the time fidling w/ blog templates instead. Sheesh.

Ah well -- just makes tomorrow's "to-do" list all the more impessive eh?

Hope it's amazing :)

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Hanukkah!!!

Super Kwanzaa!!!

Fabulous Festivus!!!

Wonderful Winter Solstice!!!

Merry Three Kings Day!!!

Happy Eid'ul-Adha!!!

Super St. Lucia Day!!!

Awesome Omisoka!!!

Merry Boxing Day!!!

And if all else fails:

Have a Nice Day!

Flash Fiction 18: The Christmas Gift

For those of you interested in the horse side of things, a good Christmas story (not mine :) on the GRS Blog.

Merry Christmas all - and an amazing new year!

Thanks for reading!


The Christmas Gift:

I watched as my brother, this year's Santa, handed her the gift I had chosen; I'd been looking forward to this moment since I'd found it in June. She was my best friend, and keeping it a secret so long had been incredibly difficult -- I'd had to force myself to forget all about it so that I wouldn't slip up. Fortunately I'd remembered in time to wrap it; if only I could apply that skill to exams!

But I’d have to be patient a while longer yet. My mother put the gift aside. She had a small pile growing, since she preferred to watch us unwrap our gifts to opening her own. And she had no idea that that box contained something special. I waited, feigning excitement over my own gifts while watching her open the others. A scarf, some books, jewelry. Nothing like what I'd found.

Finally she had my gift in hand. She unwrapped it mindlessly, far more interested in my brother's reaction to his new skis. He'd been so disappointed when they hadn't appeared under the tree, but accepted that they just couldn't afford them; it made it all the more wonderful when he opened the little box that told him where he could find his real gift in the basement. I could understand why she wanted to see that; I wanted to see it too.

But now he had his skis and Dad was bouncing for the opportunity to play with his new gadget. And finally she opened the box in front of her. The last gift of the day. She pulled it out and there was a moment's hesitation before she realized what it was.

She looked at me. The room was chaos, but between us there was silence. She had tears in her eyes, which was not the reaction I'd anticipated. I'd thought I'd found the perfect music box; just the style she'd seemed to prefer. Her collection was extensive, but they were similar -- this one combined the best traits of all of them. Or so I'd thought.

"Where did you find this?" she asked. Her whispered voice inaudible in the noisy room, but her eyes making the question clear. I went and sat next to her on the couch rapidly explaining about the little flee market I'd found in Port Elgin and how it was buried at the bottom of a box in a random corner of an antiques booth. And I knew it wasn't really antique but I thought it would go so well with her collection. And I really thought she'd like it. And did she notice the detail in the silver? and what did she think of... Well I was speaking way too fast and in circles, but I was confused and worried that my perfect gift that I'd kept secret for so long had somehow upset her.

"Come with me,” she said, rising. I followed, curious. "Girl moment," she told my dad with a smile when he questioned our departure.

She led me up to the master bathroom and opened the jewelry box I'd seen a million times growing up. From it she retrieved a tiny key; the type you'd see on a young girl's diary. She sat down on the edge of the tub and I went beside her, a million questions on the tip of my tongue and somehow enough strength not to ask them. She opened the lid of the music box and winding the knob on the base caused the dancers to swirl around to the sound of Haydn’s Cello Concerto. She watched it, mesmerized. And somehow I refrained from interrupting.

She held the box up, with two fingers of each hand supporting the base and her middle fingers running along the detailing on the side, as though she were feeling for something. Suddenly the music stopped and the dancers froze. Her right hand had moved but the left had not. She fiddled for a moment and with a click the left side gave. She smiled and gave me a look that reminded me of an excited young girl about to share a secret. Nothing appeared to have changed on the box, but clearly a latch had been released as she was able to slide the front face off. Behind that was a keyhole. To which my mother held the key.

I looked to her for an explanation, but none was to be had. I had the feeling my presence had been forgotten. I peered over her shoulder excitedly as she opened the little drawer. There was a penny, what looked like a felt four-leaf clover, a pair of children's earrings, some beads, and a little card. She picked up the card gingerly and held it to her heart with her eyes closed and memories written on her face.

Returning to the moment she gave me a smile and a one-armed hug and then showed me the card that meant so much to her. Written in a distinctive scrawl I recognized as having belonged to my grandmother who had passed so many years ago, I read:

A penny for wealth,
A clover for luck,
And all my love for always.
-- Mum

Booooo :(

My blog appears to be disintegrating. Boo on that. Guess that's one more thing to add to the "week off". Sheesh.

hmmmmm do you suppose Santa might bring a new blog template? He's pretty high tech these days right?


A Christmas Tale

This was written by the late David Alexander, and was first published in The Thoroughbred Record in December 1967, and won the TRA award for that year's outstanding article on TB racing, the forerunner of the Eclipse Award.


The old gray horse sidled up to the pasture fence with little dancing steps. The place seemed familiar, yet somehow strange. The grass was greener than any grass he'd ever seen, and when he looked closely at the white paddock gate it had a kind of pearly sheen. and there was another funny thing. A big, black cloud hovered just inside the gate. The cloud wasn't up in the sky where it properly belonged. It was like a great puff of black smoke rising from the grass.

Suddenly the cloud dissolved and revealed a horse. He was a small chestnut with a blunt head and one white stocking and brownish hairs in his tail and mane. The gray horse thought he had a kind of old timely look to him.

"Hello, old gray horse," the chestnut from the black cloud said. "Hey, that's a real good trick!" the gray horse exclaimed. "Where'd you learn it?"

The chestnut disappeared into the cloud again, but emerged immediately. "Learned it the day I was born," he replied, whith a whinny that sounded like a chuckle. "You see, I was born on April Fool's Day and there was a total eclipse of the sun. So they named me Eclipse. I was always playing tricks on people too. Used to kick my rooms and try to throw my riders and I bit the auctioneer that sold me."

"My name is..." the old gray horse started to say politely, but the tricky chestnut ducked in and out of his cloud and interrupted rudely.

"Native Dancer," he said. "I ought to know you. I'm your great-great- great-great- great - I always lose count of the 'greats' - but anyway, you're a descendant of mine. almost everybody is, in fact. The Thoroughbreds, that is."

"Are you the gatekeeper?" Native Dancer asked.

"Mostly," Eclipse replied. "I'm on duty whenever one of my descendants is coming up. That's mostly so far as the Thouroughbreds go. Old Matchem has a few left and he takes over when one's due. And poor old Herod, he's posted here occasionally, but there's not many of his male line that aren't here already."

"What is this place" Native Dancer asked. "I guess I'm kind of lost."

"The Green Place," Eclipse replied. "That's what it's called. The Green Place. Most of the horses that get lost, come here. We have to send some back of course."

"Why?" the Dancer asked.

"Because they don't belong here, that's why. Long before I came up there was this fellow Bayard, for instance. He was a devil-horse. Belonged to an old necromancer named Malagigi and he did the devil's work. Helped that villain Aymon of Dordogne to truiumph over Charlemagne, they say. and a wizard named Michael Scott had a big black beast who used to stomp his feet and set all the bells of Paris ringing. He even caused the towers of the palace to fall down one day. The Big Guy doesn't want that kind here. But we have Jesse James's horse, and Dick Turpin's too. The Big Guy says they did nothing wrong themselves. They were just faithful to their masters, and The Big Guy thinks that's a virtue."

"Who's the Big Guy?" Native Dancer asked.

"You'll find out!" Eclipse answered airily. He lowered his muzzle and pushed the gate open.

"You might as well come in. You understand you're on probation though. The Big Guy makes his decisions about new arrivals every Christmas. Let's see, it's November 16, the way you figure things down there. So you won't have long to wait anyway."

"I'll bet The Big Guy is Man O' War" Native Dancer said as he moved inside and gazed over the emerald green expanses that seemed to stretch into infinity.

Eclipse snorted. "Don't get smart, boy" he said. Then he added maliciously, "You'd lose your bet too. The way a lot of people lost their bets on you at Churchill Downs one day."

Native Dancer felt hurt, for his ancestor had touched a raw nerve. His lip trembled a bit as he replied defensively, "That Derby was the only race I ever lost."

"I never lost even one race," Eclipse said unsympathetically. "So don't get smart up here. The Big Guy doesn't want any smart-alecks in the Green Place. Remember that."

Native Dancer was a sensitive sort. He felt as if his eyes were teary and he hoped Eclipse didn't notice. "I won 21 out of 22, and Man O'War only won 20 out of 21" he declared. "And my son Kauai King won the Kentucky Derby."

"My sons won three Derbys at Epsom" Eclipse said. "Young Eclipse took the second running and Saltram won the fourth and Sergeant won the fifth, and I'd have won the bloomin' race myself, only they didn't run it in my time. So quit bragging. Somebody's coming and they might overhear you and tell The Big Guy, and that would be a mark against you."

A bay horse who seemed even more old-timey than Eclipse ambled up. "Is it my time now?" he asked eagerly.

"Not yet, Herod," Eclipse answered in a kindly fashion. "Old Fig's on duty now. One of his is on the way."

"Who's Old Fig?" Native Dancer asked. "I never heard of that one."

"There's a lot of things you never heard of, boy," Eclipse replied. "His real name is Figure, but down there they called him Justin Morgan, after his owner. Here he is now."

A very small, dark bay horse with a round barrel, tiny feet, and furry fetlocks came bustling up to the gate. "OK, OK, I'll take over," he said busily. "Where is that boy? Can't stand tardiness. I've got things to do. A load to pull, a field to plough, a race to run, a trot to trot. No time to waste. Where is that boy?"

In the weeks that followed, The Dancer met hundreds, maybe thousands, of horses. Some of them were famous, and some of them were his ancestors and a few of them were his own sons and daughters.

He met a snorting white stallion named Bucephalus who had been approved for the Green Place by The Big Guy even though he was rumored by some that he was cursed by the deadly sin of pride because he had carried a conqueror named Alexander. He met another gray horse who limped because he had stepped on a rusty nail back home just before he became lost forever. His name was Traveller, and he was a war-horse too, in the days when a man named General Lee had owned him. There were other soldier steeds, two of them descendants of the bustling little stallion they called Old Fig up here. One was Phil Sheridan's black Rienzi and the other horse called both Fancy and Little Sorrel who had been the mount of Stonewall Jackson.

Native Dancer found Man O' War an amiable sort despite his proud aristocratic bearing, and he grew especially fond of a bony old fellow named Exterminator, who patiently answered all but one of his questions. He asked the question of everyone: "Who is The Big Guy?" And the answer was always the same: "Wait til Christmas."

He met Messenger and Hambletonian and Hindoo. He met horses that had dared the dreadful fences of the Grand National. He met a horse who stared blindly into the emerald darkness. His name was Lexington. He met horses who had pulled circus wagons and horses who had pulled brewers' trucks and horses who had drawn man's ploughs over the fields of earth, and he met others who had been the mounts of kings and captains.

Always the answer to his question was the same: "Wait til Christmas."

Eclipse fussed over him and kept a watchful eye on his behavior and said he neighed too much and asked too many questions. Eclipse could not stand the thought of The Big Guy banishing one of his descendants from the Green Place.

And Native Dancer did not wish to leave. He doubted he could ever find his way to Maryland again if The Big Guy disapproved of him. And the Green Place was very pleasant in all respects. The grass was lush and he met so many interesting horses.

Back home he had sometimes been troubled by nightmares, for a Dark Star haunted his dreams, but now he slept peacefully and rarely remembered the Derby he had lost.
He became nervous though, as the weeks went by and the stars grew brighter.
And finally it was time. On a night when the skies burned with starlight all the horses gathered as near as possible to a little hillock of the vast paddock. There were hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of them, a murmuring and expectant throng that seemed to stretch over the emerald grass beneath the diamonds in the heavens.

Eclipse was very tense. He hovered over Native Dancer, whispering, "Look your best now. Be quiet and humble. The Big Guy will be here any minute."

Suddenly the vast throng was silent as the stars themselves. The Big Guy stood on the hillock in a blinding blaze of starlight, and Native Dancer could barely contain himself. He choked back a whinny of derision and whispered to Eclipse, "Is he The Big Guy? He's so little! And he's not even a horse! What did he ever do?"

Eclipse whispered, "He's a donkey. He carried a woman heavy with child to a small town on another night when the stars were bright."

"It was a long, long time ago."

I'm sure there's a great subject line for this post... I just don't know what it is!

So my friend Lissa has a theory that you can't have a bad day when wearing pig-tails. I'm *almost* convinced to test this theory :) hahaha Maybe in the new year.

Chimping at work today (for the uninitiated chimping = work so mindless a chimp could do it). I can actually feel myself getting dumber by the second. Ugh.

Had an awesome ride yesterday. Steph was home from uni and kindly stuck around to set fences. Turns out my horse can trot 3'3 w/ absolutely no effort whatsoever. (n let me tell you, that seems much bigger at a trot than it does in a canter! :) Gives me hope for future levels *g* She was still a little spinny down the line we had issues with in our lesson the other day (that was a gymnastic and a half let me tell you. Might be the first time I've ever been grateful for running out of poles!) but on the other side of the ring she was pro-star jumper mare. hahaha kinda fun.

Would just like to announce that I am done my xmas shopping BEFORE xmas eve! For the first time since, oh, high-school >;-P Of course will prob still go buy something that day just for the adventure of it, but it's nice not to have to :) And I found some really great stuff :) Looking forward to seeing people's reactions this year.

Alright back to work. Blah.

Flash Fiction 17: A Christmas Tradition

Cutting it close on timing tonight! Hope you enjoy this one. Let me know your thoughts!



A Christmas Tradition

Resigned, she looked at the big white flakes obscuring the view out the airport window. It was Christmas-eve and the blizzard had delayed all flights. Indefinitely. It was starting to sound as though Santa might be the only one flying that night. Amanda half listened to the conversations around her. All people excited about reaching their destinations.

Amanda, conversely, couldn't care less where she ended up, she just wanted to get away. It was hard, too hard, to be home at Christmas.

Her parents and siblings tried their best, but their eyes conveyed the worry their forced smiles couldn't hide. And her nieces and nephews picked up on the tension, despite the best efforts of the adults. The eldest child had been only three when Alicia and Jeremy died; none of them remembered their bubbly older cousin or the uncle who always told the best jokes. And Amanda remembered them all too well.

She shook her head, physically drawing herself from the memories of her daughter and husband that even five years later had the power to devastate her. Palm trees and pina coladas. That's where her thoughts should be focused. She envisioned herself lying on the beach, soaking up the sun, and having lascivious thoughts about the cabana boy. It didn't even make her feel guilty, since she would've done the same even were Jeremy with her.

"Hi, I'm Jake," the little boy introduced himself, interrupting her wandering thoughts, "and this is my iPet, Monster," he announced quickly flashing his handheld video game towards Amanda.

"Really?" she asked, "What kind of pet is Monster?"

Jake rolled his eyes dramatically, "he's a t-rex," he informed her with the tone of an exasperated teacher. "He's only the most ferocious dinosaur ever!"

"Ferocious?" Amanda asked, "How old are you?" she questioned the precocious child, no longer having to feign interest.

"I'm five and a half," he announced importantly, "but Grandma says I'm really an adult in a little body. She won't let me go to the store by myself though. If I were really an adult I could." He gave her a look clearly requesting a reasonable explanation to that.

"Yes you're right, but I don't think you get to do adult things until you're an adult in an adult body," she tried to appeal to his logic and was rewarded with a brilliant smile. "So Mr. Adult Jake, why do you have a ferocious pet? Wouldn't you rather have one you can play with? This one could eat you!"

"No he can't, he's just a game." Jake told her, the child's literalness making her smile, "and besides, he has to help me take over the world -- you just can't do that with a chihuahua."

Laughing, Amanda questioned him: "Have you ever met a chihuahua? Little but nasty creatures. Could absolutely take on the world and win," she attempted to defend the breed she felt Darwin should take care of.

"Yes, but Monster can just step on one, and that's it. Not even hard to beat."

"Jake!" An adult voice with mixed tones of anger and fear interrupted, "You were supposed to stay put, what are you doing?" and directed at Amanda, "I'm so sorry, I had to take his sister in the washroom and he ran out while I was with her," he explained with a look at the boy that was supposed to be a glare but had too much love in it to be intimidating. A young girl stood slightly behind him, one hand in his, the other thumb in her mouth.

"It's no problem," Amanda assured him, a little surprised to realize she meant it. "He was just explaining the relative merits of a pet t-rex over a chihuahua."

"Yeah Uncle Matt, she needed to meet Monster. And I didn't go far - I could still see the washroom -- that's close enough. Besides there was nobody for me to talk to in there and girls always take so long," he said making both adults laugh as he stuck out his tongue at his little sister.

"Jake," the boy's uncle started seriously, kneeling down in front of him, "it's very important that you stay with me, even when it's boring. Ok?" Jake nodded. "Promise me?" the little boy rolled his eyes for Amanda's sake, but agreed.

"Now to settle this other issue," he started and Jake looked at him expectantly, "everybody knows a chihuahua will win out over a t-rex any day." This was greeted with instant groans and protestations, while he introduced himself in an aside to Amanda. "Jake you've met, and this is my niece Alexa. Lexi." Lexi took her thumb out of her mouth and shyly offered her hand to Amanda, never letting go of her uncle. Amanda shook it solemnly, introducing herself at the same time. "My sister's kids; I'm taking them to their grandparents for the holiday. She has to work and didn't want them to miss out."

"So where are you off to?" Matt asked conversationally.

"Warmth and pina coladas." Amanda answered with a look that suggested that topic be dropped. He seemed willing to let it go, and she was grateful for it.

Somehow Christmas-eve in the airport was not so hard when spent with the captivating family. The storm became impressive rather than a frustration as Matt kept them entertained with somewhat exaggerated, she hoped!, stories of storms past. As evening rolled into night and the airport patrons resigned themselves to the fact that they'd be spending Christmas Eve in the airport, even the most excited children fell asleep.

They spent the night quietly chatting while the children slept. Somehow Matt got her to speak of Alicia and Jeremy, even though she never told anybody about them. And somehow he directed her to the positive; she found herself telling him stories that made her laugh, and reliving memories that left her feeling truly happy for the first time since the accident.

Christmas day dawned white but clear, and sure enough flights were rescheduled and passengers ushered on as quickly as the airlines could manage. Matt and kids entreated Amanda to join them for Christmas, but still overwhelmed by the night before, Amanda retreated rapidly, claiming a tradition of beach Christmases that could not be broken.

Several hours later, Amanda was lying on the beach, listening to the waves roll up towards her feet, sipping occasionally on her pina colada, and amusing herself with the fanciful idea that Matt was her Santa Clause, giving her the ability to live again. She was even considering that just possibly next year, she'd spend the holiday with her family when she heard the voice.

"I'd really rather not have Christmas dinner alone tonight; would you be willing to join me?" And as Matt settled into the beach chair next to hers, a new Christmas tradition was born.

Flash Fiction 16: An Exhausting Night

hahaha so a bit of a deviation from my usual style. I'd be curious to know what you think!

As always - thanks for reading :) Enjoy!

An Exhausting Night:

Dinner was late. Again. And the stupid pet kept trying to steal my food, one paw swoop @ a time. Really. Civilized creatures shouldn't have to put up with such behavior.

The door to the outside was shut again -- a suggestion that I should stay in for the night. But that's something pets do, and I am not a pet. So I jumped up and hung off the door handle and it opened easily. I left it open behind me so I'd be able to get back in later.

I darted out into the shadows between the house and the bushes and paused there, deciding what to do next. First drink, then food. There's a mini-human in the house next door who left perfectly good milk out on the porch. I got up and helped myself to a drink, but had to leave quickly when the mini-human opened her door. The first time I was so absorbed in the sweet milk I let her come outside. That was a mistake I'll never make again. Spent the night trapped in that prison of a house being chased by not only her but three other mini-humans who if they caught me would squash me, or pull on my tail, or carry me around -- sometimes even upside-down! How undignified. And their door had one of those round handles not meant for paws. I couldn't get out. Had to hide until morning and dart out with the big human. Never again. So now I drink what milk I can and leave.

After my thirst was satisfied I warmed up with a quick dart up the tree. I wasn’t really trying to catch those birds of course – if I wanted to, obviously I would’ve. I just wanted to make sure they didn’t get too comfortable in my tree.

I hopped out of the tree, landing lightly and stalked across my yard. A simple leap landed me on top of the fence, which I paraded along to the complete frustration of the pathetic dog that lived in the other yard. Outside all the time and could never figure out how to open the gate. I vanished into the next yard just as I heard his owner open the door to yell at him and force him back inside. Mission accomplished. You’d think one of these days he’d be smart enough to keep his mouth closed. But then, we’ve already established he’s not the smartest critter on four legs. With him gone I was free to enter the yard and eat the remains of his dinner. Way better than mine. And I wasn’t forced to share.

I left his yard and began the long hike across town. Had to stop to avoid the obnoxious drivers who clearly didn’t understand that I had right-of-way. Was not amused at that. Chased a mouse, but it let it go when it turned off my route – after all, I had more important things to do.

And then, I was finally there. But the door was closed – no way in. I prowled around. A leaf blew in front of me so I pounced on it in frustration. And then I backed off and crouched down waiting for it to move again. When it did, I was ready. Caught it mid-air and batted it all around. The wind caught it and carried it up, but I was ready for that escape attempt and quickly climbed up the tree to catch it on the top branch. But as I did that, I saw it. The open window, not even five feet away. There wasn’t even a screen to claw through. An easy leap. I crouched down and wiggled my hind muscles in preparation for the jump, but then I paused. Was the window really open enough for me to fit through? It would be really undignified to hit the window and fall. That would be stupid pet behavior. And I am not a pet. But I wanted to be inside. I lowered myself, prepared, and leapt!

And of course I made it in no problem. An easy jump for an expert such as myself. I casually licked the sap off my front paws and made my face presentable before heading into the depths of the house. I listened carefully; if the people heard me, they’d throw me out. But they had long since gone to bed, so I was free to explore.

I was silent as I searched the house, and finally I found her. All curled up, asleep, on the softest of furs. I huddled down and pounced. A rude awakening perhaps, but she rebounded quickly. The two of us chased each other around the house with no thought of the noise we were making till one of the people yelled. Quickly we crouched backwards in separate directions. She paraded out where she could be seen, tail high and fluffed, and the human realized his mistake. Who was he to yell at one as brilliant as she? The human slunk back into his room, clearly ashamed at his behavior. She came back and rubbed her scent against mine. And really, the rest is absolutely none of your business.

Far too soon it was time for me to leave. Going out the window was far easier than coming in had been. I was feeling pretty proud of myself as I hiked home. And was glad that this time the car understood that it had to get out of my way, although I was rather puzzled that it chose to go up the curb to do so. Such a loud and unnecessary noise. Foolish driver. I avoided the dog’s home; the food was gone and he’s no challenge to my intellect, so why bother? Besides, it’d been a long night and I was tired.

Finally get home to see they’d closed the door. The door that I’d purposely left open. I was not amused. I howled my frustration but they failed to respond in a timely manner. Stupid humans. I was forced to lurk around my own home until one of them left in the morning. I stalked by, refusing to acknowledge them, making my annoyance known. They sometimes have to be reminded to show me the proper respect. At least she remembered to give me my gourmet snacks. I have her well trained to feed me every time I deign to return.

I climbed up to my room and was pleased to discover they had done a decent job of preparing my bed for me. The blanket was nice and flat, all stretched out and ready to be kneaded into the perfect position. It took me a moment or two to get it exactly perfect, and I was finally able to relax. Leave me alone now; it was an exhausting night.

Sherlock, after an exhausting night.
The photo that inspired the story.

Life is too short for traffic.

Could somebody please explain to me what was going on with traffic this morning? I understand it being a nightmare yesterday -- I didn't even try. But this morning it was clear out, the roads were clear, and it should've been a normal drive in. But no, stop and go the whole way. And in a standard car, this is not fun :(

There was exactly one place in my trip where it would've been possible to drive faster space-wise and that was the only place on the drive where the road was ice rather than water. And it was scary ice, so I was all for the 10km/h there -- as was almost everybody around me. No snow tires on yet and my car was sliding all over the place -- but only on that one section. Which goes to show the rest of the road was just fine. So why wasn't it going anywhere?

Ugh. Took me 2h to get in. Literally. Was not amused.

So yesterday was interesting. Got to the barn, got all tacked up and ready to go. Si was high and bouncy -- she'd been in all day, it's cold out, and I haven't done anything more than exercise her all week, so yeah a bit of bottled up energy there. So she's bouncing but I just wasn't in the mood to deal w/ a bouncing TB. You know, some days you just don't want to deal with it. So let's identify options. Put horse away before anything negative happens. She figures it's the shortest workout ever and I make sure the ride is over before the battle begins. Ok, except that it doesn't help said horse burn off steam or further training in any way shape or form. Option 2, get off and lunge. Work her properly, but (since she lunges really well) in such a way that I don't have to work nearly so hard to deal with it. However I was just frustrated enough that I realized this wouldn't likely work either (for me, not her). Go for a hack. Usually my favourite option. But oh yeah, nowhere to hack, it's dark, and there's a blizzard out. Blah.

So I look around the ring hoping for inspiration. Finally decide if Si wants to run and play, why not let her? Bring her in, take her saddle off, detach the reins, and let her go. Oh wait, I've trained her to stay with me when we walk around the ring. hahaha and she's very good at that. So she waits patiently beside me while I tie the door shut, then I back up and tell her with my body language that she should go. So she canters a perfect 20m circle around and around and around. Well, I told you she lunges well. hahaha was very impressed that w/ a very slight movement I could get her to change direction and she cantered said circle the other way. But this was not the point of the exercise so I stepped off the circle line and directed her down the long side, where she went, looking over her shoulder the whole way, clearly puzzled about this change of plan.

Change the game a little, went beside her and started to jog, so she came with me, so started to run, and she got the hang of it. Afraid I lost that race miserably. *g* So we played the race game a few times and even over some fences (well pony went over, I went under or around :)

hahaha was highly entertaining and several benefits. The first (unexpected) is that running around the ring for half an hour trying to keep up with a thoroughbred is a reasonable cardio workout, so I was feeling *much* better by the end of this. The second is that I haven't seen her really move freely since the day I very first saw her, starving and unfit, in the field I got her from. I'll tell ya, she looks like a very different horse now. And I discovered my horse can TROT. Like really trot. Like float around the ring trot. I have yet to experience this under saddle of course, but now I know she can do it. I was thrilled. And the power. Gallop, halt, spin. No problem.

So somebody else wanted in the ring, and I was very impressed that when I told Si the game was over and she should come to me instead of run away the way we'd been doing, she listened. And stood perfectly while I put her tack back on. And after that warmup was super nice and supple when I rode her :) Led to an amazing, if rather short, ride :) And so once again "it's supposed to be fun" wins out.

Might be interesting to see how today goes :)

When worlds collide

So what are the odds my jump coach and my dressage coach would choose to focus on the same muscle group on the same week? Past experience would say almost unheard-of. Logic would say pretty likely. Given that all involved are very aware of what said horse needs work on most so logical next steps are the same for both disciplines. But still, it doesn’t happen very often.

So Tues we had a dressage lesson. Absolutely brutal. And by that I mean incredibly amazing, but pony was *zonked* the next day, and *I* was feeling it the day after (that doesn’t happen often! Mental note, skipping pilates for dressage kinda defeats the purpose of skipping pilates). Anyways fast-forward to Friday and superpony is sound and energetic and happy, but clearly still very stiff in areas we worked on Tues. And what does coach set up? Exercise to do just that, over fences *sigh*.

Suffice to say it was not one of our more successful lessons. Superpony was still amazing (the jumps are never the issue anymore and these were tiny) but she had real issues where none were expected on the flat. Didn’t feel I could say “ummm this is cause she’s just too tired to do this” so I think we’ll just have a miraculous improvement for next week :)

On the plus side, the first exercise we did involved being able to accurately land on whichever lead was requested off of whichever lead we took off on. I know my coach expected this to be the challenging part of the day for the pony who less than a year ago literally couldn’t turn right. And less than two months ago would have a temper tantrum if you tried to canter right. But she did it flawlessly. I was super proud of her :) We nailed every single lead. (German school of riding folks, once isn’t gonna cut it. I used to go w/ the “once is luck, twice is a fluke, three times means you know it” theory, but I think my current coaches are working off more like 10 :) However that meant we moved to the more difficult exercise, which was the whole “muscles that are still exhausted from Tues” issue (think jumping off a 8-10m canter circle) and that just did not go over well *sigh* Ah well, like I said, next week it’ll seem like a HUGE improvement *g*

oh and as a side note... dressage coach sticked the pony, who we always knew was not a pony but who barely reached 15hh when I got her, she's now a HUGE 15.2hh!!! Woohoo :) hahaha moving up in the world. Unfortunately I'm reasonably certain she's stopped growing, but that's ok -- tis a really good me hight :) And since I'm not trying to sell her at the moment, that's all that matters *g*

If you can laugh at yourself, you will never cease to be amused.

So had to laugh at myself this morning (it’s so easy to do!) Was up late last night and as I was drifting off thinking “wow, only 4h till I have to get up again,” I realized there were two things I HAD to do before I left for work that I would never remember in the morning (mornings are not, shall we say, my best time of day. Unless they’re spent curled up in bed!) and one that had to be done at work the next day that I was afraid of forgetting. So like any reasonably intelligent rational adult I got up and made myself write a list. And because I’m still really a child, I wrote the list on my hand.

Fast forward 5h (you do recall the alarm was going off in 4 right?). So I finally clue in to the fact that the “once” I hit snooze was really 5 times and I was nearly an hour late so fly out of bed, see the things on my hand and the first two are easy. Get them done no problem. The last? All it said was “plug”. Wtf? What does that mean??? But I did remember that whatever that third thing was, and it made sense to me in the middle of the night, had to do with work. And therefore it was *not* important that I remember it in my flight out of the house.

Now fortunately for me, since I know that getting up and leaving the house is never an easy task, I tend to leave extra time for these items. Like an hour to drive 40 minutes, or half an hour to groom and tack up my horse – which I can easily do in under 2 if I have to :) So I was able to make up the “hour late” reasonably easily with only a minor degree of the frazzles and a few minor items (shower anybody?) getting lost in the shuffle. Personal hygiene is highly overrated anyways. Especially when one’s first stop is the barn. And there's no need to make a lunch when there's junk-food to be bought!

So I go ride my horse (more on that at Graduate Riding School) and still no idea what “plug” might refer to (adding a link to my business blog? Oh wait, not *that* type of plug. I don’t think!). And on the drive to the office, I’m staring at it thinking “what was I thinking???” I don’t confound myself often – it was not an experience I’d really care to repeat! And I’m evaluating it thinking “well it could be ‘play’. It looks like plug, but given my handwriting and the fact that it was dark AND my canvas of choice, it could be play. And play makes so much more sense! But wait. Why does play make more sense? Play doesn’t make any sense at all really. I know it had to do with work. I have a meeting this morning, was it something for that. Oh, I have to call in and get the guys to do something before I get there…” You ever heard of train-of-thought writing? Well that last paragraph is why it’s generally a waste of time *g* That and that most people I know (or @ least most people I *like*) think significantly faster than they can write. Hahaha

Anyways – I was amused by this. It reminded me about something completely unrelated that I was able to call into the office about, and I *did* eventually decode the mystery message, and even did so before I got to the office where the answer would’ve been obvious. Hahaha plug was indeed the word of the day, and the reminder was simply to bring said plug home so my notebook would have a chance of functioning this weekend. I know, rather anticlimactic eh? What can I say? MLIA.

Flash Fiction 15: Please Don't Tell

So the challenge this week was to take somebody else’s first line and write a story off of it. This was by ReyOLight on the Editor’s Unleashed forum. Rey’s Blog here if anybody’s interested :)

My fairy godmother was neither a fairy nor a god. In fact, she was a rather cranky old hag. Just don't tell her I said so.

You'd think helping people out would be part of her job description -- or so I always did anyways! But every time I'd call her, all I'd get is a lecture. "Do you think wands grow on trees?!?! I'm a busy woman, what makes you think I have time for this? There are starving children in Africa!" I never understood what starving children would've had to do with my dream date for the prom, but even as a teen I knew better than to question. Wouldn't want to be turned into a pumpkin!

My fairy godmother (or FG as I secretly referred to her) appeared at the strangest times in my life, always when I felt no need for her and never when I wanted her. That dream date? Never happened. My wedding? I begged for her assistance, but she was far too busy. She had time to show up for the open-bar though! And let me tell you, a drunk FG is a scary FG. But don't tell her I said so.

But on the birth of my first child when I was exhausted and completely astonished and happier than I could imagine, she was there. And truth be told, not entirely welcome. But don't tell her I said so.

One day after hitting rock bottom in the business world and being told, yet again, that she wouldn't help me, I lost it as I never had when I was a teen. FG seemed just as ready to explode. "You think this is an easy job???" she demanded.

"Well yeah,” I rolled my eyes, behaving as childishly as I sounded, “You get to travel the world making people's dreams come true. How is that bad?"

"And how about when to make people truly happy, you have to leave their wish unfulfilled. The ONE thing they want, that you know they are better off without. What do you do then? How do you do your job without being a cranky old hag?" I blushed. I couldn't help it. Instantly utterly appalled at all the horrid things I'd ever thought of her. And I thought back over my unrealized dreams. The date I never had with the guy who ended up cheating on his wife; the wedding that brought me back together with my mother when I had nobody else to turn to; the company I started when I couldn't find anybody to hire me... None of which would've happened if FG had granted what I'd begged.

I’d like to say that I smartened up and began to behave like the adult I was, but really, I’m human. I still asked for things and got huffy when FG couldn’t bother to help me, or was snarky in her response. But as time went on, she annoyed me less and less, until one day FG didn't seemed either old or so cranky. But please don't tell her I said so.


So Anonymous comments have been turned off (sorry Jen) due to increasing amounts of spam *sigh* Anon comments can always be emailed though to lauren* (replace * w/ @)-- if you want me to post them for you as such, I will :) Cause mostly, I love to read them!

Saw 2012 the other night and have to admit was fairly disappointed. I didn't think a disaster movie could be boring, but that's what it came down to. Poor form.

I found this site worth a minute or two's amusement. Random little amusing snippits of anybody's everyday-average life. ie) Today, I pressed the Diet Coke button on the soda machine and out came Skittles. I'm confused but not complaining. MLIA

Today, I came down stairs to find my new step son (who is 23) having an epic lightsaber battle with my six year old daughter. I wish I was his biological mother. MLIA

Today I took a mock German exam. On the front it had written, "When the question is finished, you will hear a beep like this (*)" I'm still wondering what an asterik sounds like. MLIA

Today, I asked my dad to sign a permission form for a field trip. He signed it Donald Duck. Apparently he's been signing my permission forms for years using the names of fictional characters. Neither me nor any of my teachers have noticed. My dad just got a whole lot cooler. MLIA.

Ok that's enough of that :) hahaha but it's a good timewaster. Some are fun some are stupid and all too many I can identify with. Time to go write some flash :)

The RollyPollyPaintPony and other adventures...

Have any of you seen Castle? On TV, I have no idea what day (yeah DVR), but the more I watch it the more I'm enjoying it. The premise struck me as particularly banal but what can you do eh? Anyways -- title character is Richard Castle and he's an author -- the idea is he's researching a cop novel by following a homicide detective around -- and a few episodes ago showed his book, Heat Wave, being released etc. So I was fairly amused when this popped up on my Amazon suggestions: hahaha so somebody's having fun with cross-genre-marketing. I was impressed anyways :)

Had a blast riding around Hillsburgh w/ Kerri on Sun. On a RollyPollyPaintPony (and yes that's all one word). hahaha other than feeling slightly *stretched* after (sleek TB she was not :) it was a riot. Was far more amused than Kerri by the fact that we rode literally past her front yard -- comeon what little girl hasn't dreamed of riding her pony down her street? hahaha So we're going up this reasonably large hill and RollyPollyPaintPony wants to jog cause it'd be easier, but I'm being all dedicated and keeping her in a walk -- until Kerri's horse jogs by and I figure well if she's letting him jog I can too... Made some comment to that effect and the response was "oh I wasn't *letting* him jog, I was making him. But now he's just racing her." and that just struck me as one of the funniest things ever. Now keep in mind, my background is OTTBs who race at a pace where you hope they know where they're going because you can't see through the tears in your eyes... To find myself "racing" in a gait that dismounted I could walk faster. Seriously -- this made the trot-races of days gone by seem like the Kentucky Durby. hahaha Poor Iroc :) In his world though, a race it was. I seriously don't think RPPP was considering it a race any more than I was. Racing is simply not in her contract. She eats, and walks, and eats, and jogs, and eats, and waves at people in the town, and eats... And occasionally, when necessary, eats a little :) And that's it. There is no racing in there anywhere -- no matter what the foolish other horses may be doing. So yeah it was a fun ride. Kinda nice to hack around on something completely and entirely bombproof! AND we got back and finished right *before* it started to rain. hahaha perfect.

Under the "it's the little things" category of things. Was coming home yesterday and stopped at a red light and the cabby next to me starts signing at me. But unlike the truly rude and obnoxious gestures of most people stopped in rush hour traffic, he was warning me about the speed trap up ahead. Now there's a speed trap there at least three days a wk so I wasn't likely to go flying through there anyways, but still the fact that he bothered to go to the effort of letting me know impressed me.

Had an amazing dressage lesson last night. Pony was a little high (not stupidly so, just add) but while that didn't necessarily show off what she *can* do it was excellent in that that is what I need help with. I have no problem riding her when she's on the same program I am -- it's when she's in XC mode and I'm in DQ mode that things don't work so well. But by the end they did, so I was pretty thrilled :) Go Superpony!

15 work days till Xmas vacation. Not that I'm counting or anything :)