Here there be dragons...

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

Never grow up

hahaha Nicole posted this on my wall today - just as I was writing the other blog post. Seemed appropriate to repost here somehow :)

What would the child you once were think of the adult you have become?

A facebook friend of mine had this status message this am “Holy crap, I'm an award winning writer. There's news my 15 year old self wouldn't have believed if I went back in time to tell him.

He and I went to highschool together – and haven’t seen each other since. I remember his fifteen year old self. We were in the same social group but not close friends. So friends of the “hang out together and say hi” variety but not the “exchange close confidences bff” variety. You remember highschool; you know what that’s like. So we disconnected at graduation as so many do, and were it not for facebook that would’ve been the end of it. But given this latest toy, I’ve been following his (and many other of my highschool acquaintances) posts for the last several years. Today’s set me thinking. Consider yourself forewarned.

Short version: somewhere along the way I, and all my friends, grew up.

Long version? Ummm ok :)

So when we were 15 it seemed that everybody knew what they wanted to do but me. One of my best friends wanted to be a vet and to have a family. Another wanted to be a teacher. One a politician. Another an engineer. I? I had absolutely no idea. I wanted to go to university. I knew that much. But what I was going to study was a bit of a mystery. I wanted English, but a practical side of me figured that wouldn’t get me a job at the end. So then I figured computers – why not? I’d breezed through programming in high school and both my parents were programmers. Made sense.

So away I went to university and since I chose to go to the other side of the country, pretty much lost touch with most of my high school friends. And by the time I graduated all I knew was that I adamantly did *not* want any job involving programming. Hmmmm. Tricky. Cause it turns out I was right about finding a job with only an undergrad in English *g*

Now about half way through undergrad I started to realize that I really wanted to teach riding. For real. Not just as a part-time, better than flipping burgers job, but as a full time venture. And more than just teach (cause when have I *ever* done things the easy way?) I wanted my own farm. And I never said it out loud. It was a guilty secret really. Because I had a small mountain of student loans, was part way through two degrees, and “supposed” to be a professional. Professional what? Well that was open to interpretation, but definitely something involving an office and a large salary. And there was absolutely no way I could come up with the money to start a farm even if I wanted to. So it was shelved with my teddy bears as a child’s dream not outgrown. I know I wasn’t alone in this, because I had a close friend at the time who I know all she *really* wanted was to have a family. Get married and have 2.5 children. But for an intelligent, twenty-something woman in today’s society, this is not seen as a fashionable or even acceptable life decision. So she shelved that and continued her way through a science degree.

Graduating and finding myself totally unready for real life as an adult, I retreated back to academia (which I *loved* and would still be in if I hadn’t run out of money – I’m so going to be the “old guy” in class when I retire :) I went and got my Masters. Ok, now *slightly* more equipped for a “real” job. Not much, but slightly. And out to the work force I went.

About now Facebook started appearing. I had no interest in it; unusual for me, but sobeit. I actively ignored it for a while. Until I got a message “got your email address from your brother, would love to connect on Facebook with you.” It was from the girl who had been my best friend. When I was 5. So I gave in and signed up – more curious than anything. And soon enough had reconnected with most of those friends... The mom/vet was in the final stretch of vet school. The teacher and engineer were both working in the fields they had set out to. The politician ended up being a lawyer (close enough :). And I? I still had no idea what I wanted to do. That was harsh.

But then I read around a bit and I realized that they were the minority. It just happened that most of my close friends, being of similar personalities to me, were pretty determined to get what they wanted. But most of rest of the people I’d grown up with were doing nothing even slightly related to what they’d intended at 15. Or 20. Or 25. And while everybody was doing *something*, many were like me – paying the bills but reasonably certain there was a better way if only they could find it.

And then the recession hit. And looking back I’ve realized how many people used it exactly as I did – to figure out what we really *should* be doing. My entire department but me got laid off and I got downsized to part-time. Hmmmm problem. I was bored out of my mind at that job, but it paid the bills so leaving would be scary. So I negotiated a bit – I’d stay on part-time, but only if I could work unusual hours long distance. This being agreed to, I got myself hired on as a working student in the states (hence the start of the blog :). Now you have to understand... That was something I’d always wanted to do. I’d always been jealous of my friends who had done it, and somewhat regretted not doing it. And figured, quite honestly, that I’d missed out on that opportunity. But finding myself suddenly with a flexible job and no real responsibilities, well why not go?

So while I was there, mostly it was just a dream way to spend the winter, but I vividly recall one day – rain just above the freezing point, unhappy temperamental horses, grumpy people, even the inanimate objects were being difficult – breaking or freezing or just not working correctly. One of those truly miserable days. And at some point I rolled my eyes at the other girl, shrugged, and said “oh well, still better than being at the office.” And at that point, I realized I’d made the decision.

Came home, got another “real” job (although one that I quite enjoyed!), picked up a business course or two, saved as much money as possible, freelanced to keep in the game, and eventually got my farm. And for the record – as that child’s dream was upacked, so was the teddy bear. Ike lives in the Bunkie; a reminder of good things past. But the really interesting thing, is how many of my old highschool peers were doing their variations of the same thing. And now it’s kinda fun to watch and see it all play out. Sure the original group are pretty settled in their lives. The engineer and the lawyer continue to work their way up their respective ranks, the vet is established in her practice, married, and on her way to her first child, the teacher continues to love her chosen profession. All good. But it’s the ones who didn’t know and were working “whatever” jobs who are fun to watch. Several have started their own businesses – almost all of which are focused on topics I remember them having as hobbies in highschool (riding anybody?). A couple have done complete career swaps, and while may be more junior now seem a lot more positive. And the scientist who really just wanted an old-school traditional family? Eventually married the boy she dated all through uni and currently has two children under the age of five. Wouldn’t be for me – but to look through her pictures, she’s the kind of stunning that only comes from radiating true happiness. As for the one who set this post in motion? I remember him at 15, totally into films and soundtracks. Yesterday the series he wrote, produced, and (I believe) directed won a mountain of awards. More than slightly impressive. (for the curious:

So what would the 15 year old me think if the today me told her where we’d be?
Well, admittedly, a part of her would be slightly disappointed. At 15 you’re going to make a fortune, save the world, and go down in the history books. I’m currently paying to work, haven’t saved anything other than my cat, and the only history book that has my name in it is the textbook that I wrote on the cover of. At 15, that is a pretty sad reality.

BUT, a much larger part of her would be very excited and somewhat disbelieving (why not – the 30 year old version still is too!). Uni, admittedly, would be lived pretty much exactly the same way (maybe with just a little less stress about calculus :) But when the “pay the bills” jobs hit, she’d be less disappointed and disheartened knowing what was coming next. And what Jason’s post this am highlighted so well for me, is that many of my peers are at this point in their lives right now where it’s fun again. Highschool I could’ve done without, but uni was a blast. Grad school even better. Which made crappy intro-level grown-up jobs suck just that much more (perhaps why there are so many tv shows about them :) But now it seems that most of us, together, are moving into the next “fun” chapter of life and it makes it really exciting to wake up every morning and see what happens next. And I’ll admit to being a little curious as to what the 60 year old me will think when she picks up the printed version of the blog and flips through rereading the words of the girl who thought maybe she’d grown up, but really was just starting out.

Cat herding

Came across this while looking for my GRS daily youtube. Have seen it before but it's been a while and it made me laugh so I thought I'd share. Enjoy!

The saga continues...

Whether through the power of the Internet or somebody smartened up a little, I got a call from Sharpe's today. Message on my phone: "I understand there was a miscommunication about your shavings order yesterday. If you'd still like them, we'd be happy to deliver them today." Sweet. And even better, they're going to send me the ones I actually ordered rather than the substitute ones. Which, on the one hand, is excellent. But on the other - why couldn't they just have sent those in the first place??? Or if they *really* didn't have them (maybe got some today? I doubt it somehow, but I suppose it's possible) why wouldn't they tell me that when I ordered them? Or as I mentioned yesterday, call me when they realized they didn't have any and ask if I'd take the other ones instead. *sigh*

They haven't arrived yet, but we'll see.

Definitely still calling the other guys for the next round.

Facebook Save!

So where customer service failed, FB, or rather, friends on FB, saved the day. Within a crazy short amount of time I had several alternate suggestions - one of which was recommended by just about everybody, so I'll be calling them in the am :)

Smashwords nanonovel has been updated with typos fixed and a *slight* change to the ending. hahaha if anyone actually reads that far, lmk what you think! Link: Feel free to click the "like" button while you're there *g*

Customer Service FAIL

So I usually try to only post good things on the blog, but this was just so ridiculous I figured I should share...

I regularly (like every week) order feed and shavings from Sharpe's. Now I know they're huge, and my tiny little school is nothing in the way of income to them, but still - I pay my bills on time and order consistently.

So this week they deliver just the feed and not the shavings. Ummm not good - I only have enough shavings for a couple extra days, not a whole extra week. So I call and ask where said shavings are. "Well we didn't have the type you wanted so we didn't send any."

Ummmm excuse me? "Do you have any shavings?"

"Oh yes, we have lots of the other type."

"So why didn't you call and ask if it was ok to substitute?"

"Oh well we figured you wouldn't want them. It says you wanted this kind."

"Well yes I wanted that kind, but any shavings are better than no shavings."

"Oh... Yeah probably."

"So can you send over some shavings?"

"No, the truck was already there. We only send to that area on Thursdays."

I'm sorry what??? You screwed up, you made absolutely no effort to find the slightest possible solution, and now that the blatantly obvious solution has been pointed out to you, you still won't fulfill it?

As I said, customer service fail. In a big way. Now open to other suggestions for feed and bagged shavings suppliers :) I realize they're pretty much it in the area, which enables them to make zero effort, but I figure it's worth looking around now. Anybody know any who deliver to Georgetown?

Snow day

So this morning was sort of entertaining...

I get to the barn and feed - all normal. Tack up Jack and go to take him out; door won't open. That's right, snow drift big enough that even the Jacksaurus couldn't plow through. Boo. Ok leave Jack in cross ties and shovel our way out. Eventually get out to the ring - Jack was pretty high, so it was a fairly intense and long ride. But eventually get something good and he can finish and go home.

So then start t/o -- about half hour late since Jack required more time than usual. Apollo sees the snow and starts dancing. hmmmm ok. Let him free and he goes for a good gallop around his paddock. Think galloping teddy bear. hahaha Girls all turnout ok. Then turn out the rest of Apollo's paddock. Sienna first. Who hasn't been ridden in weeks but is still super fit so feeling pretty full of herself. So she's running around in the paddock all by herself (Apollo totally ignoring her). I turn Jack out and before I even have the halter off she's there trying to convince him to play with her. Rearing and spinning and running in circles - just generally being a pest. Jack takes one look at her "look lady, I just worked for over an hour, I'm going to eat." and promptly strolls to the hay bale completely ignoring her while she runs in circles around him. So I go get Nick. Sienna's at the gate again "play with me, play with me!" Nick does the equine equivalent of rolling his eyes at her and goes to roll in the snow. Even as he's rolling, she's trying to play halter (or in his case crib-coller) tag. I don't think I've ever seen a horse continue rolling with another horse behaving like that. But when he gets up, he deigns to play with her for a bit and the two of them boot it around the paddock for a while. Apollo goes to roll and comes up with all his black markings white, which drew both their attention. Si was super excited to have TWO horses playing with her. And all three of them tore around for a bit - Apollo has to take the occasional short cut to keep up *g* And Jack, all the time, just hanging out in the round bale. Anyways - it was a lot of fun to watch and it made me smile, so I thought I'd share. I'm glad *someone* is enjoying the snow!

And now I have an hour to do 2.5h worth of chores. hmmmm :)

5 minutes you'll never get back. Consider yourself forewarned.

So growing up in Canada, I (and most of my friends) ended up with an interesting mixture of British and American systems. I use British spelling almost exclusively - almost. But with numbers, I use feet for height and short distances (like walking courses :), while I use kms for longer distances. Celsius for temperature - except for body temp which for some reason I know in Fahrenheit. Etc etc. And since most people I know of my generation who've grown up here have the same random usage of systems this is not often a particularly big deal (although I discovered when I was in the UK that referring to distance in terms of time is considered Canadian. hahaha As in "how far away is it?" "oh about two hours." We all know what that means, but I got some great reactions when I did it there :) Ok so back to the point of my story...

Stop laughing - there is one. Some where.

Now in my handy dandy mixture of systems, I do weight in lbs. No problem right? Except when I tried to deworm the horses and the instructions were all in kg. hmmmm. They have to be in English and French, which is utterly useless to me. I'd much rather they use both measurements! hahaha but no. So, then the question is how to translate from lbs to kgs? No problem right? Except I had no internet at the barn and my phone is of the not-so-smart variety. But I had a student there who has an internet friendly phone. No problem. Ah yeah - but no internet connection in the barn. Boooo. So no google. Now what?

Was about to give up entirely and wait and deworm the horses another day after I'd gone home and figured out the exchange rate, when I realized I have a scale that I use for weighing their grain... Old fashioned, simple kitchen scale. But - it has both sets of weights. And so when modern technology failed, the old-school simplicity saved the day. Is it sad that I was highly amused by this? Not that my horses were terribly thrilled with that *g* But at least they'll be healthy!

So yeah, I had a huge list of computer related things to do today and am feeling particularly unmotivated to do any of them *sigh* But I *did* get to ride :) That counts right? hahaha Lissy was a superstar. Jumped her over all the "scary" boxes that she's never seen and she was all for it. Such a good little horse :)

The guys from the OEF came to visit yesterday - we're now officially on their list :) Sweet. What can I say, it's the little things in life *g* (see above!)

Alright - off to pretend to be productive now.

Happy Birthday Steve :)

Alright so the most important part of this post is to wish Steve, my honorary boyfriend (thanks Ker!), a wonderful birthday!!!! Hope it's amazing Steve :)

Sooooo March Break was fun :) Not such a break really, but highly entertaining. Productive? Well... that's debatable. Got lots of riding done, lots of pictures taken (thanks Hailey :) and a bunch of little odds and ends accomplished. The barn is feeling more and more settled, which I love :) Marketing and various other business aspects of the school might not have progressed all that much... Did just enough to not fall behind, but definitely didn't progress anything any *sigh* It'll come. I still have faith I'll find the right balance one of these days. Right about the same day I win the lottery probably *g*

I've been sort of amused by the disproportionate number of spam emails I've been getting for my "new career in nursing" ummmm yeah. That's going to happen. But I have to admit I've been thoroughly enjoying my chosen new career. Although find it interesting that the number one comment I hear from my friends is "you seem so much happier" -- which is true, but makes me wonder how depressing I was before! hahaha ah well, all good now. Even on the crazy days.

Have not had any time to write. Boooo. That is a definite down side. Even the blog has been sorely neglected! Too busy living life to write it? Possibly. But it turns out I *like* writing (I'm a geek, I know :).

Today though, I had my first morning to really sleep in since Jan 1! Woohoo. Which is how I gained the time to play online :) Thanks to my super working student Amy :) Combined with a ton of people still away for March break *g* And tomorrow, thanks to Hailey, another day! I don't even have to set my alarm clock. Sweet! Yeah so it's the little things in life.

Hailey's been keeping me entertained this week - superstar working student spent her whole break at the barn mucking stalls, setting fences, holding a pony who shall remain nameless who wanted nothing to do with clippers, multiple trips to the tack store *sigh*, treks through the mud, hauling water, learning to use a hammer, photographing lessons, and of course, riding horses :) Really, why would you spend your vacation any other way? Those who know cannot explain; those who don't know, can never understand. I'm lucky to have students who know.

So yes, the pony... The not-so-nameless Bella desperately needed to be clipped -- when the temp shot up more than 10 deg in one day she was having trouble even standing still, sweating in her stall and puffing. Poor girl. So dig out the clippers and discover... Blades don't go on... Huh? They used to fit? I've never investigated clippers before because you always just slide the blades on and hit the power switch... But suddenly the blades wouldn't go on :( Went and asked a friend who has also clipped entirely too many horses in her time and she couldn't make them fit either. Booo. So Bella had to last another night and the next morning took the clippers to Rens where the blades were sharpened. "Ummm hi, I'm hoping I'm just being an idiot, but do you have any idea how to make the blades go back on the clippers?" Woman takes one look and "oh yes, one second" A pair of scissors strategically applied, and suddenly blades fit again. Apparently a problem they've seen a few times :) Plus side all around - I wasn't missing something obvious, but it was easy to fix (and free :), and Rens customer service person made a semi-regular client very happy very quickly. All good.

Alright, so now armed and ready. Fuzzy pony comes out. Takes one look at the clippers, and leaves. hmmmm less of a good plan. So arm Hailey with treats and eventually get pony to the point where I can mostly clip her. All of one side is ok. Till we turn her around and go back to "omg they're going to eat me!!!" hahaha she wasn't bad - not in the sense of those who *truly* lose it; certainly not in the "handler is going to die and we need 3 shots of tranq" sense - but definitely not the quiet super calm easy going Bella I was expecting! And yet some part of me, the part that knows ponies, had a funny feeling this'd happen. In the end we had to clip her in a stall where we had two walls to keep her somewhat contained - and even that had some moments! It also had the unfortunate effect of blinding sunlight and a dark bay pony hidden in shadows, meaning I was effectively clipping blind. To give her credit, she never tried to kick or flip over or collapse... All she did was try to run away. Super pony. Super pony who now sports a somewhat interpretive clip. It's going to be in the Pony Club manual next year. The Thelwellian Bella clip!

So new life lessons from dressage the other day. Teaching several riders their first dressage test... "some things you have to do right the first time" hahaha or else don't try sky diving! They'd do something and it wouldn't be perfect so they'd repeat it. Ummmm no, not allowed. And the closely related "don't let a past disaster ruin the present" - sure that transition sucked, but there's no reason the circle can't be perfect. And of course "live in the present" - racing through and cutting corners because you're trying to get to that next circle really doesn't help. It was an entertaining couple evenings :)

hmmmmm looking at the time - it's amazing how easy it is for me to shift back to sleep in and stay up late. I'm good to go for another few hours yet... But... Come Monday that'd suck :( Booo on reality! hahaha somehow never outgrew the teenage "mornings suck" phase. But then I never outgrew the horses phase either, so really I'm convinced they go together >;-P When reality doesn't work, simply change the reality. But I have to stop typing and post this now so it'll *actually* post on Steve's birthday or the whole long post would simply have to be deleted! And really, that's a lot of typing to delete! So I'm off. Cheers :)

For the curious...

I swear I haven't disappeared off the face of the planet. Just been, ummm, a little busy :)

As for disappearing off the planet - Stephy's being homeless for 5 days to raise awareness of homelessness... Her blog of the event is worth a read:

Bella came for her week trial and was *such* a superstar we had to keep her. She rates her behaviour according to her riders -- for the lungeline level, she's pretty much a saint. For the kids who think they can ride, she puts them pretty thoroughly in their place *g*

So Hailey's been here all week in intensive training march break camp/working student :) hahaha From Apollo to Bella getting lots of time in the saddle - been fairly entertaining from my pov. And keeping me going too since I'm as likely as not to ride the others at the same time she does. Kinda fun having company during the day. I think the next time will be when Stephy comes back home for a week :) One of those rides we discovered Bella came with springs for shoes. We jumped her and Lissy the other day and she was by far the superstar of that particular ride :) Didn't push it too far because she's only just starting to get fit, but in a month or so we'll try again and I suspect she'll be jumping higher than any of her riders are likely to want to go :) Lissy's becoming a superstar; this month's focus for her is strength building. But I think once we've got that, she'll be good to go :)

Bella and Hailey

Vet in today - spring shots and teeth done. Sweet - one thing off the list :) Although I admit seeing the bill for 7 horses is not something I'm looking forward to!

Ok, back to work with me. Attempting to knock off some paperwork while I have help in the barn :) Good in theory. Less fun in practice!


Just a little late...

Ok so I *finally* got around to posting my nano-novel! hahaha and glancing at it I found so many things to fix *sigh* But that will have to wait a bit. The 50,000 words however, in all their rough and ready form, are up. Unedited. And somewhat disjointed. But still a story with some strong points. I think. I hope :)

Give it a read if you have some time and inclination :) And let me know what you think! The good, the bad, the ugly... Is it worth polishing? Or should it be banished to the realms of ones and zeros never to be read again?

Oh, and it still needs a title. Any suggestions?

Thanks for reading!

The link:

Edited to add: For those who joined after, the story behind the story can be read in the Nov 2010 posts on this blog. More info on the official overall adventure at

Random update :)

Wow - I think that might be a record length with no posts! Yikes :) Sorry about that, been busy riding, teaching and oh yeah - trying to run the business! hahaha

Still actively recruiting students. Remember if you bring somebody in who signs up for a lesson, you earn a free private yourself! And, as a couple students have chosen to do, you can save said private lesson for warmer summer weather if you're so inclined :)

Have you met Bella yet? Bella's here for the week to see if she wants to stay :) She's the gorgeous dark-bay pony, who's pretty sure she's the queen. Bella will be for everybody from first-time beginners through pre-entry level eventing. She has a super-smooth canter and seems to love jumping! Just waiting for a few more of her potential riders to tell me how they like her :)

Sienna is officially for sale :( I really don't have time to ride her - and she likes to be ridden almost every day... Boooo. If you know anybody who can ride (Si's not a beginner horse) who wants an affordable superstar show prospect, send them this way...

hmmmm let's see... As far as the other ponies go: did some research into Dixie's background and found out she has superstar bloodlines :) Looking forward to introducing her to xc this summer! Jack is proving himself to be a pro - floating around the ring in dressage and mastering gymnastics like there's nothing to them. Apollo has decided he loves jumping; it may never be his greatest strength but he certainly has enthusiasm for it! And as far as strengths go, he's quickly picking up the whole dressage idea. Sweet! Nick is just an all-round superstar. Almost all the adult riders seem to want to ride Nick :) Super quiet, super smooth, and knows everything - what's not to like? And Lissy... Little Lissy... Lis has proven she knows her job well. For lunge lessons and beginner riders she is super patient and super quiet. Put an advanced rider on her and she's forward and goes on the bit. She adapts to whoever is on her and is learning super-fast.

Be sure to check out our FB page: I'm posting something new there (usually youtube vids :) every day! Check them out and let me know what you think! The feeds will also post on the home page of the Graduate Riding School site.