Here there be dragons...

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

On the move again...

HUGE thanks to everybody who came out to help with the massive hay move!

On Thursday it was my dad, Chris, Emily, Jamie, Kirby, Rebecca and Sarah all helping move tack boxes and two trips of hay.

Friday my dad took another load over while I packed more stuff at the barn.  An easy day comparatively.

Then Saturday was the real challenge.  Rebecca and Mike did the am barn chores so the rest of us could move.  Chris rebuilt the tack lockers we took out when we moved in while Steph and I loaded vehicles.  Jen and Abby loaded up her car as well to transport items.  With Victoria also volunteering a vehicle, they all headed out to take the first load of stuff while the rest of us started on hay.

Steve was a life saver both manipulating the tractor and being strong enough to throw hay significant distances for hours on end.  Kyle and Chris also contributed to the strength category, making the day significantly more successful than it otherwise would have been.

Mieke, Bryn and Paul came and started on loading the horse trailer.  Our second big trailer never showed, so we were making due with anything that could haul hay ;)    On the other end, Aileen met us to help unload.  Emily and Courtney were doing an excellent job helping Laura with stacking hay after we dropped it and went back for the next load.

My dad and Paula were managing the transportation of the big van while Stephy and I managed the horse trailer and Victoria, with her Merry Poppins car was transporting mountains of tack and other items.   Stephy and I read each other's minds fairly well so we had a pretty smooth system going quickly.  Made life much easier.

Adriana and Kayla arrived to help and the next truck-load got filled rapidly.   Mieke, Bryn and Paul followed that load to the new place to help unload.

And the day continued back and forth, focusing entirely on hay, hay and more hay.  Until in the very end the survivors:  Emily, Kyle, Chris, Steve, Victoria, Kayla, Adriana and me loaded the last of the hay into the truck for tomorrow's delivery and turned the lights off for the night. 

HUGE thanks to everybody who helped move today:   Adriana, Aileen, Alan, Bev, Bryn, Chris, Emily, Kayla, Kyle, Mieke, Paul, Paula, Steph, Steve, and Victoria.  You guys are all kinds of awesome!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anybody remember the original list?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right.  No big deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next load went reasonably flawlessly, all things considered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow.  Did I mention I have awesome friends?

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

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

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

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

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

Two words, for now...

Posted this image on my author FB page today and was going to write my answer there...  But then I realized that, as with the 6-word stories, there are too many options.   So here goes -- please feel free to add to the list in the comments :)

Have fun
Trust yourself
Love yourself
Enjoy life
Waste time
Work hard
Play harder
Heels down
Slow down
Drive carefully
Travel everywhere
Carpe diem
No worries
Enjoy insanity
Friends count
Family too
Mum's right  (New rule - contractions are one word *g*)
So's Jen
Love fully
Eyes up
Why not?
It's okay.
Normal's boring
You can
You will
I promise
Promises count
Always forgive
Never forget
Accept truths
Challenge ideas
Question everything
Study everything
Learn to count
Forget calculus
Stay warm
Avoid winter
Travel more
Bend rules
Be brave
Be scared
Be smart
Be kind
Be young
Be wise
Be free
Be loved
Be yourself
Dream big
Think deeply
Take risks
Fear not
Speak up
Save money
Achieve goals
Remember childhood
Hold hands
Read lots
Write lots
Write late
Sleep later
Sleep in
Take photos
Take naps
Take baths
Take time
Give time
Travel again
Gets better
Keep riding
Run occasionally
Just breathe
And above all else:  Wear sunscreen

Okay I might've stolen that last one.   But I had to end this insanity somehow.  And that was avoiding all the "don'ts" that came to mind.  Going for positive here.  And pg ;)  And ignoring the completely silly things *g*  

Your list?

Hyde Moffatt Clinic

Last post in August??? Oh dear... Somewhat traditional at this time of year though I'm afraid -- maybe next year I'll make it farther *g*

Regardless - it's October now and I'm back :) Summer was a blast, show team did an awesome job and we find ourselves already at our fall clinic!

Hyde Moffatt came to play on Sunday. We had a great turnout -- every class was full! And, while a little chilly at first, reasonable weather all day :)

The groups were divided ostensibly by height, but Hyde's focus was on accuracy and effectiveness, so the jumps stayed low for all. The first half of each two-hour session was flatwork. The rule was simple - when you put your leg on, the horse must go forward. End of story. Simple, yet surprisingly difficult in some instances to implement ;) Lots of work on transitions - both between gaits and within the gait.

The idea is, there is no randomness in riding. Everything is predictable and should be repeatable. And if you do the same thing the same way every time, it's fair to expect the same result. It's just that easy. And just that hard. So Hyde discussed what the aids should be, and got the riders to focus very specifically on what they were doing every time they asked for a change. I was pleased to discover that most were very aware of what they had done -- if not necessarily able to correct it. Which is totally okay. Hyde made a point of noting it's our mistakes we learn from. When everything goes beautifully, you rarely stop to analyse why. But when things become horribly disastrous is when we tend to smarten up. If only to avoid the repeatable response >;-P

Once everybody had forward installed, we got to start jumping. The exercises varied slightly from group to group depending on rider skill level and which exercises best suited the horses involved, but throughout it all a focus on the four requirements of jumping: Rhythm, Balance, Energy, Straightness. Anything that didn't work perfectly was treated as a learning opportunity -- which of those four was missing? And how can it be fixed? Rhythm and Straightness were the two most people had challenges with. Energy had mostly been addressed on the flat, and most of the horses playing today were quite naturally well balanced. The exercises were set to challenge the other two as turns were in strange places that made for very awkward lines. Unless, of course, the rider managed to get the right combination of Rhythm, Balance, Energy, and Straightness.

With noticeable improvement in every horse/rider combination, the clinic was deemed a success from all. Hyde's approach was practical and positive and he taught the cross-rail group with the same (or possibly even more!) enthusiasm than the 3'+ group. At the end of every group, he spoke to each rider independently and gave her homework. So now everybody knows what to work on until the next one. That, and, when all else fails, "be the rhythm"!

Sadly most of the photos were blurry, but you can view them here.

What would you say?

New experience today -- I was interviewed.  Hahaha, a first for everything.  Woohoo!   Thanks to Aaron Speca for the experience.  Fairly entertaining.  Slightly awkward.  And now my answers are forever online.
Oh dear *g*
Forever grateful the interview wasn't on camera!
The writing and book related questions were no problem.  I had to think about a couple but it's all fairly factual.  The personal ones though, made me pause.  Some related to writing -- what was I most surprised about?  Which of my characters would I want to meet?   The first one had multiple answers, so I went with the one that's struck me the strongest.  The other would depend on my mood at any given moment *g*   But most interesting was the rapid fire "10 + 1" questions at the end.  How would you answer these?  Really, I want to know -- comment or fb answers!
  1. What is your favorite word?  
  2. What is your least favorite word?  
  3. What turns you on?  
  4. What turns you off?  
  5. What sound or noise do you love?  
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?  
  7. What is your favorite curse word?  
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  
  9. What profession would you not like to do?  
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?   
  11. What question have you never been asked, that you wish someone would ask you?  
My answers are published here -- are you brave enough to share yours?

Stupid Should Hurt

Okay...  So let's preface this by saying that, for a wide assortment of reasons - mostly related to horses being horses - I pretty much haven't ridden in about six weeks.  Other than the occasional tune up for a client or five-second demo ride (at least once at the halt - that counts, right?), I really haven't so much as gotten on a horse.

No worries though, right?   I'm fit, healthy, and have a reasonably active life style.  Should be no problem.

Let's look back at that with the aid of that nasty, condescending little devil, Hindsight.

You see -- all the horse issues resolved themselves at the same time.  Yeah!   So I rode one on Sunday.  It was a short jump school.  Easy and fun.  I enjoyed myself.  Horse enjoyed herself.  The world was good.  Brena did the barn, so all I had to do was teach.  No problem.

Monday did half the barn, hopped on a greener horse for another jump school.  A lot more like work and less like fun, but still all good.  Got a reasonable amount accomplished, except...  It seemed my cardio wasn't *quite* where it should be.  Maybe holding my breath?  Have been guilty of that before.  But considering the ride logically, I felt honour-bound to dismiss that.  Not likely given the circumstances.  No show.  Well behaved critter.  Nothing complicated or challenging.  Really a pretty relaxing ride, all things considered.  *sigh*  Guess it's time to start running again.  I hate running.  Have I mentioned that lately?  And I haven't done anything that even resembles running since spring.  Steph and I even walked Mud Hero!  hahaha

Ah well - switch horses and start over.  This one a dressage school.  But wait, why are my abs sore when I try to sit trot?   That is *not* a good sign.  Esp after last two rides were jumping.  hmmmm.  Ah well, suck it up and continue.   Ride is successful, but makes it clear there's some homework outstanding *sigh*   Teach for the evening, go home and sign up for pilates class on Wednesday.  Some of you may remember my earlier post about being shown up in pilates class in yuppieville.   Yup - that's the one.

The brighter amongst you might be questioning this.  But what happened to the running idea?  Ah my friend, but clearly core strength is more important than cardio.  Must focus on that first.

Wait what?

Okay so I hate running.  >;-P  That is all.

So Tuesday am I wake up and as I roll over to hit the snooze button my abs chose that moment to inform me of what a horrible life choice that was.  Seriously.  I actually couldn't get out of bed.  I'm sure that had *nothing* to do with the cold outside and warm comfy duvet.  It certainly had nothing to do with staying up till all hours on the computer the night before.  It absolutely had everything to do with my poor abs, which after riding only two (that'd be two.  Not too or to, two.  Which was apparently two too many *sigh*) horses the day before, were now on strike.  And therefore, I couldn't sit up.

But unfortunately the horses really couldn't care less about the state of my poor overworked abs.  They still wanted to be fed.  Unreasonable eh?   So I gracefully exited the bed (read: blankets and I rolled into a heap on the ground reaching for the ever escalating cell phone in a desperate attempt to silence its screeching) and made my way to work.

The abs' complaints were quickly forgotten in the general chaos of "one of those days".  A scheduled lunging day for pony in training, so riding muscles got off easy.  Normal muscles got their normal workout mucking stalls, throwing hay, and hauling water (all kinds of fun, let me tell you!).  But it's not much of a workout when it's an every-day thing and they're used to it *sigh*

And so I let the pilates class signup stand.

Wednesday rolls around, entirely too early.  Mornings really need to be dismissed from existence.  Could we get on that please?  But I was committed to the pilates idea.  Not only that, but I had an even more brilliant plan (you're not new here, surely you can see where this is going...?):  why not combine pilates AND cardio?

Why not?

"Because that's a really STUPID idea.  That's why not."  So speaks our friend Hindsight again.  *sigh*

Yeah.  Sometimes my ambition outweighs my common sense *sigh*    So I got Bev to drive me to pilates so I could run home after.

I'll wait while you clean up the wine you just snorted at the screen.

Okay now?

Right.  And not only that, I plotted a route that'd take 5k.  An easy enough distance.  If one ever runs anywhere.  And hasn't just completed Yuppieville's own sadistic version of hell.

And did  I mention this route also passed a Dairy Queen?   AND a fabulous bakery?  Right, that's just all kinds of evil.  And I definitely had it in my head that if I really wasn't up to running, I could just detour there and then walk the rest of the way home enjoying my treat.

You see, I am capable of logical ideas!

Right.  Guess which one I did?

Pilates was comparatively easy.  Not to say I'll be able to sit up tomorrow, but compared to some of the classes there, it wasn't completely killer.  So no excuses, ran home.  And not only home - the whole 5k route.  Only thing, when I plotted the route on Google, I failed to notice the gym was downhill from home.  Which means the run home would be all up hill.  Fail.

I made it though.  And in reasonable time too!  Not fast by any means, but I've never been fast, just acceptable.  Cardio was better than I thought but my legs...   Oh dear.  Lactic acid in the quads was noticeable less than half way home.  Now that I've been sitting for a while, well suffice to say getting up again - or worse, trying to move! - is going to be a challenge.   And tonight is sailing -- going to try really hard not to fall off the boat *g*   Tomorrow shouldn't be too hard - only one horse to ride.  But Friday is the day after the day after and it's brutal.  And then Saturday is hay day.  Go hard or go home right?

And now, I'm off to Dairy Queen.  I think I've earned it.

Much ado about nothing...

So, that was a day and a half.   Wow.  In the short version - absolutely nothing happened.  So you may as well stop reading now.  Trust me.

I don't know if I should be pleased or insulted that you're still reading >;-P   Don't follow instructions well, do you?

Ah well -- I think the fact that nothing happened is exactly what made it so frustrating.  What should've taken an hour or two seemed endless.

Yup.  Just like that.
I wanted to stop by the printer to have flyers printed, drop the car off to get its oil changed, and do some banking.  Otherwise there were ideas about cleaning and doing laundry and writing and a few other odds and ends.  Right.  Suffice to say, other ideas are for sissies.

Alright so I *might've* contributed to my own demise by going to bed at a slightly less than civilized hour last night *g*  And keep in mind, civilized in my world is anytime before 2am.  Before midnight is almost unattainably impressive.   So uncivilized...  Well, use your imagination.  I'll give you a hint - I didn't get home from work till about 11, so it wasn't super early.

Regardless, being a responsible adult (stop laughing!), I set my alarm and it did, in fact, go off.  Several times. With the enthusiasm of a series of exploding bombs and the resulting sirens *sigh*
I used to love this movie!
When I eventually deigned to acknowledge it, it was to see I had half an hour until my car was supposed to be at the shop.  And that clock is currently running about 10 mins slow.  20 minutes. Car has to be 15 minutes away.  And I'm still in bed.


But, it turns out, this might not be the first time this has ever happened to me.  Up, showered, dressed and out in under 10 minutes.  Sweet.  And it's not really a 15 minute drive, I just tell myself that so I'll be early.  Really a 10 minute drive, so I should still be on time.

And then I hit the train.  Really?   I couldn't stop my eyes from rolling.  The only saving grace is that I was in Oakville and not on my way to the barn.  Trains in Oakville are about thirty seconds long -- I was still good to go :)   Made it in time to drop the car off.

Except I'd failed to run the "on the way" errands.  And now no longer had a car.  *sigh*

Fortunately Bev saved the day and generously offered me her car :)   Thanks Mum!  hahaha okay so...  Printer.  First stop was Staples -- quick and easy to deal with, but they can't print full bleed.  Booo.  Not going to work.  So Googled for print shops in Oakville -- there are a surprising number of them *g*   The one I knew about apparently doesn't exist before, but there were three others that looked promising.  I ranked them in order of my own interest and figured out where the top two were.  Reasonably close to each other, so that's good.

Driving looking for 30...  Found 28 and 34...  I hate to keep saying this, but really?  Okay so a little more research proved user error -- we'll blame the lack of sleep.  Sounds good to me.  I actually needed 20.  And sure enough, when I got to the *right* address there was the sign on the building.   The empty building.

I'm serious.  Occupying the large, otherwise-empty store were three baseball caps sitting on a counter.   I tell ya, I couldn't make this stuff up!   I do kinda want to know the story behind the hats.  Although I suspect it wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as the one my mind spun so maybe I'm happier not knowing.   The rest of the place was empty.

Out of curiosity I called the phone number I had for them.  I was a little surprised to get an answer -- maybe there was an upstairs?  But no, when I asked where they were located, I learned they're on the other side of Burlington.  All that remained here was their sign.  And the baseball hats.

Okay, nbd, because you see while searching for that shop, I happened to find the third one on my list -- the one I hadn't mapped.  Small world and all that.   So I went in to talk to them and they were capable of doing what I needed.  But snarky and condescending.  I just wanted to get out of there.  So I left my email to send me a quote and ran away.

I was starting to feel just a little disenchanted with this whole idea and, sitting in the parking lot, my phone rang.  I gave it the death glare but it continued to chime away.   Okay fine - answer it.  It's the girl who's organizing the marathon I'm supposed to have a booth at on Saturday.  Apparently the City of Oakville has instituted a new requirement -- they need proof of liability listing them on the insurance.  Ummmm say what?  They're not on my insurance -- my business is in Campbellville.  And this is suddenly making it all seem like way too much hassle.  So ostrich it (ummm if you're not familiar with that Laur-ism, it means stick your head in the sand and ignore it till later) for the moment and continue my travels.

Third -- fourth! -- print shop of the day.  It took pretty much everything I had to force myself to go in.  But here, here I found good customer service.  KKP for anybody interested.  The people were pleasant and helpful.  The only other customer in the store was fairly entertaining, so that's always fun.  On a side note, I was a little astounded at the number of things they had posted about copyright laws and how they refused to violate them.  Ummmm really?  Are people that ignorant about asking a professional copy store to copy illegally?   But obviously so.  Ugh.

But the staff there knew their stuff and were easy to deal with.  They suggested a minor change to the file that would make it print better and since they're not far from home I decided I'd take said file home and make the change.  So with quote in hand I went home.  On the way, I got the call that my car was ready.  Sweet!

Go home, fix the file, find quote from other print shop.  Slightly cheaper, but not guarenteed by Friday.  And I didn't like them.  Will go with the people I liked.   Return to mechanics and find all is well.  Car doesn't need anything extra and is deemed to be in good health!  Woohoo!!!  If you know my history with cars, you'll understand how very exciting that news actually was >;-P   Drop new file off at print shop -- all good there too.  Now, hours after it began, the day is *finally* starting to go as it should.   Sweet.

Right.  You're not new here.

Next stop was the bank.  Line was long and moving ridiculously slowly, but sobeit.  I was told something would be done by today; I needed it; I would wait patiently.  And I daydreamed my way through the line and eavesdropped shamelessly on the other customers.  Really, what else is there to do?  Nothing fun going on though.  So eventually I make it to the counter, get 3/4 of the way through business, and then am told that the piece I needed would indeed be done today.  By midnight.  Wtf?  Seriously - that deserves more than "Really?".  Is there any way to expedite this by about 6h?  "Uh maybe - let me ask somebody."  Fast forward another 20 mins of twiddling thumbs and listening to other clients.  And then no.  And while I will likely be up at midnight and able to return for that transaction then, I'd be willing to bet nobody would be there.  If they'd just told me Thursday at the beginning - no problem.  But telling me it'll be ready on Wednesday, wasting a good hour of my day, only to inform me it'll be Wednesday at midnight?

Suffice to say I was less than amused.

When all else fails...
So I turned my thoughts toward sailing.  Last week I *really* wanted to go and didn't.   Worse - I found out that the hurricane apparently let up enough for a great race.  I could've gone!   Which made it even harder.  Today though weather was stunning, so I was pretty excited.  But wait - the ostrich.

*sigh*  So I call my insurance company to figure out what all would be involved in solving this dilemma.  And my usual contact is on vacation.  Of course she is.  Welcome to my life.  "Would you like to talk to somebody else?"   Ummmm yes please.  hahaha I've no idea who, but hey surely you can recommend somebody?   Indeed she could, and the person she recommended me to was awesome.  Fast and sharp and helpful.  Solved the problem quickly and painlessly.  Superstar customer service -- esp juxtaposed with the bank.

So far a bit of a brilliance or disaster day.  Probably a good thing I didn't try to ride my horse!

But at least now, it was time to shrug off the stress and go sailing.  Well almost.  First I had to get there.  QEW was stopped, but that's not new -- I'm used to taking Lakeshore down and have got the hang of which lane to be in when.  All good.  Except my usual "correct" lane wasn't moving.  But I bided my time until the giant vehicle in front of me moved over revealing a complete lane block for construction.  Booo.  But traffic in the next lane was being civilized, one car fitting in between each of the cars in the other lane.  All good.  Except the guy who theoretically *should* have let me in wasn't about to.

"Really?  Don't be an ass; it's not like I have any choice about this."

Oops.  Was that out loud?   With the windows down?

Fortunately the look he gave me was amused, and he stopped and let me in.  I smiled and waved as I took the offered space and of course got out of his way as soon as we passed the construction.  And at the next red light, he asked me out.  hahaha yeah - welcome to my life.   I have to admit I'm always thoroughly amused when that happens.  This is the third time now.  A couple years ago I actually went on the date -- was even a reasonably good one; we talked for ages.  But circumstances being what they were at the time, nothing ever came of it.  And circumstances being what they are now, nothing would come of this either *g*   But it did have me in a fairly good mood when I got to the yacht club.

Even with the construction, I made it with about 10 mins to spare.  Sweet!  The whole crew was out for the last Wednesday sailing night, and the wind picked up as we headed out.  Woohoo!  And then, right before our heat was about to start, died abruptly.  Oh dear.  If a snail and a giant turtle raced, backwards, they might still have beat us *sigh*  It was painful.  But - it was close, which was interesting.  They were applying some pretty serious strategy to get somewhere when the wind gods took their toys and went home.   Kinda cool.  Would've been way cooler at speed, I admit, but still interesting.  And even better that we won :)   That always helps.

And possibly the most stunning sunset/moonrise I can remember seeing.  Almost surreal colours on a stunning sky and a red cityscape.  Awesome in the most literal sense of the word.  A large part of me lamented my lack of camera, but part of me appreciated just floating there enjoying it.  What better way to spend a fall evening?  Absolutely amazing.

Out of curiousity, why are you still reading this?  I did tell you right in the beginning that nothing happened right?  And, well, nothing's going to continue to happen.

Because you see, after sailing was the finale of America's Got Talent.  Yup - one of my guilty pleasures.  Not quite sure how I got addicted to that, but sobeit.  The act that held me fascinated got kicked out a week or two ago.  So sad.  But my second choice was still in and there was a third that I'd forgotten about but when I watched the review decided was socially acceptable as well.  So I watched the presentation while typing this.  My guy was eliminated fairly early on.  Booo on that.  No accounting for taste I guess.  But the third choice won - so reasonable :)  An unusual act, to be sure, but that's part of what makes that show so interesting.  Completely indescribable acts can win.

True story.  Except finishing the book *last* night led to this whole story....
And I wasn't quite finished this post, so I searched valiantly for something else to watch on TV and found Bond.  Not my favourite one by any means, but really any Bond is acceptable.  And so the day begins much as it ended - not great, not horrid, and with stuff exploding. Night!

Promise kept.

Came across this today and it amused me enough to include it here because, well really, story of my life :)

So Lexi's being a teenager these days, hence the lack of posts about fun and exciting stuff cause, well, we don't get to *do* fun and exciting stuff.  *sigh*   Mostly we dance around on our hind legs.  When she does deign to go forward it is, admittedly, brilliant :)   Gives me lots of hope for the future.  But the rest of the time.  Ugh.  Normal 5yo behaviour -- but usually I back them significantly earlier so by the time we get here we have some basic rules installed.  This...  This is less fun.   Ah well - five years from now when she's a superstar, it'll be amusing to look back and remember...  Sane, quiet, weak-willed horses do not go advanced...

We're into the fall schedule at GRS now so things have been crazy getting switched around this week.  A good number of the uni girls are back though and there are a few new ones, so all good.  Having lots of fun with them.  Competitive team is gearing up for champs, so also all sorts of exciting :)

Have my book back from the editor but alas it has a fair amount of work to do and I've been less than dedicated to doing it *g*   Suspect as the last of this wonderful weather fades, that will become more appealing.  Somewhat amused that summer has finally chosen to visit -- in September.  Classic.

Actually did manage to get a summer day on a beach this year.  Wow - amazing.  Esp given the combination of lack of summer days and lack of free time!  Hahaha I can't remember the last time I was on a beach in Canada *g*   A whole bunch of girls pitched in at the barn to give me the afternoon off -- it was awesome.  I have the greatest group of people at my barn.  Does make going to work every day a whole lot more fun let me tell you.  And not going to work - equally amazing :)    For she who never stops moving, I've discovered I'm remarkably good at lying on a beach (or in a hammock) with a book.   I have two speeds: stop and go.  Very little in-between.

Had quite the war with our smoke detector the other day.  Apparently when it reaches its tenth birthday it starts beeping.  And won't stop.  Ever.  It's been replaced and banished to the garage -- where it continues to chirp every thirty seconds or so.  It's becoming a game to get out the door and in the car without being chirped at >;-P

And referring to home furnishings...  Our clock:
What time is it?
Okay I think that's quite enough random babbling for now.  Lots of sun, gorgeous night out, high energy teaching...  I should know better than to sit in front of the keyboard when I get home :)

The best part never washes away...

Right, so somebody had the brilliant idea that we should run Mud Hero... A 6k obstacle course through the mud. Right. About that.

We started off with a big group - all sorts of interest several months *before* actually being required to run a 6k obstacle course through the mud.

The day of, however, we were down to three officials and one sub in :)   None of whom had actually trained in any way beyond blaring some Eye of the Tiger....   Although admittedly a rather effective method since somehow he managed the fastest time of the group -- maybe the rest of us should consider it next year?)  Or maybe not.  As for more traditional methodologies though.  Yeah - not so much >;-P   We can all ride, and muck the barn, but that's about it.

Three of the four of us were all kinds of environmentally friendly and carpooled together.  S, however, having more of a social life than the rest of us and plans following our adventure, drove herself.   I got a text: "I'm in parking lot G."   ummmmm sure.  Our parking lot had no letter.  Why don't we just meet at registration?

We meandered our way toward registration (wouldn't want to use up extra energy any earlier than necessary after all) and got ourselves signed in.  I was fully expecting at least a little hassle about our last minute competitor switch, but nope - all good.  Sweet.  No sign of S yet, so we found ourselves a place on the hill to hang out.  The corral, ummm race start, was off to the side and various booths and competing music blaring from all around.  One random dude bouncing around on a bike -- he was actually reasonably impressive.

Eventually I get a text that S has arrived, so found her pretty quickly.  Apparently she'd parked a bit farther away than the rest of us.  And soon enough, we were all ready to go.
Somehow I look tall in this photo???  How did that happen?
Dropped off our bags and made our way to the pen. Ummm start line.  It was *really* loud at said start line and bringing out the inner-cheerleader in S.  Yeah.  That was fun.  So while S was getting all cheery, K and C were being all competitive.  Foolish, foolish people.

And then we were off!  Right, like a herd of turtles through mud...   500 people per heat, so yeah - the race started at a walk until the herd thinned a bit.  We ran for a minute or two and then S and I realize this was a fairly horrible idea *g*   K and C were off and we waved as they passed us on a roll back in the course, being quite content to go for a summer's walk through a conservation area on a gorgeous day.  So you'll have to talk to them for their story -- and you really should, being rather competitive, it seemed far more entertaining than ours *g*   But it's not my story to tell so....

And before we even get to our story...  For the record -- the rest of this post might be a bit....  interpretive *g*   I mostly remember what we did, but what order...?   Meh :)   It's a little bit of a you get what you pay for situation.  Consider yourself forewarned.

So it was quite a long walk to the first obstacle, which was really just a pit -- about thigh-deep mud just to wade through.  Not a big deal, just introducing the concept.  Then just some hiking through the woods - no mud involved actually, but had it been raining it might've been the most treacherous of them.  As it was though, it was fairly simple.

Next was a series of walls and ropes -- hop over the wall, climb under the rope.  Rinse and repeat.  Oh wait - nowhere to rinse.  Ugh.   Hopping the fence took less effort than getting on a horse, so that was a lot less challenging than it looked on first glance.

Then there were cars to climb over -- really, what kid *hasn't* wanted to do that at some point?  Actually - not sure it was ever an undying wish of mine, but hey it was still amusing.  The windows were all boarded up so all good.

We were then treated to a wonderful delicacy...   A tiny glass of really warm water.   Fabulous.  Seriously :)   S even had seconds!

The rope wall came next -- I actually really enjoyed this one.  Climb up, over, and back down.  We weren't super fast but we made it with reasonably grace *g*   The tunnels following however...  Oh dear....   In a mud pit then up these tiny metal-looking tunnels.  A whole lot less than fun as they were very slick with no traction and not big enough to crawl...  I made it to the top and...  No S?  Ummm okay...  So then I saw another competitor coming through and she was coming up backwards -- reasonably brilliant idea.  Then I realized a couple of the tunnels had ropes in them -- all kinds of cheating!  I don't know if my tunnel might've had one earlier in the day that had since disintegrated or if it had never had one in the first place.  Regardless - still no S.

So I started looking *in* the tunnels...  And there's S, sliding backwards, arms outstretched...  Oh dear.  hahaha so some teamwork got her through as I reached down to give her a hand up and we were good to go.

And after this it all gets a little fuzzy...  But I'm going with the next thing was the climbing wall -- like the other walls only taller and it had both footholds and ropes to help you scale.  The down side had a platform and steps.  Super easy.

There was the spider web in the woods.  Sounds horribly creepy but the only horrible part was the people in front of S and I.  bahaha they made life all kinds of challenging.  Really though, just a bunch of stretchy ropes strung between trees at all different levels to navigate between.  Think the dollar-store version of the Entrapment training course.

Then we got to do some more crawling under a canvas tarp type thing.  This would probably have been challenging if we were taller or it was earlier in the day, but by the time we got there it was clay rather than mud and the tarp was high enough we could crawl easily.  No bellying through that one.  Thankfully.

There was a nice walk through the woods and a surprisingly warm shower on the bridge.  We figured out why we were allowed this luxury when the next obstacle was a slide.  Yup, you read that right.  Can a slide even be considered an obstacle?  hahaha and it was all sorts of fun; slide down into a muddy-water pit.   Would've been the most fun activity were it not for the guy who felt the need to cannonball in behind me *sigh*  hahaha ah well.

Not having *any* fun at all!
No idea who gets credit for this but found it here.
After the slide we had a balance-beam exercise that was about as simple as it got -- walk across the balance beam and try not to fall into the mud.  hahaha simple really.

We had the rope climb from before, but now sideways -- so either run across it or crab-crawl across it.  Actually found that one reasonably entertaining.

A nice walk through the woods and along the driveway led to another wall to climb and a fire-pole to slide down.  Fairly speedy drop to the ground given how muddy it was.  hahaha all good though.

Almost home!  The lake -- a nice wading path, clean off the mud, the world is good.  Could feel some of the leg muscles toward the end of the wade, but still -- all good.  And a giant inflatable slide (think bouncy castle), which, surprisingly, did *not* have a mud pit at the bottom!  Sweet!

All good right?  Clean off right at the end?  Yeah -- except it's Mud Hero.  It wouldn't do to have people finishing clean.  hahaha so yup, one last pit.  With several low logs and some ropes to climb under.
Photo Credit
But by the time we got through that, we were done!   Woohoo!!!   K and C had beat us by about 20 minutes *g* 

The speedier pair, however, deemed that S and I weren't muddy enough and attempted to fix that *sigh*
hahaha apparently strolling is not the competitive way to complete this course.  But all were happy, muddy, and exhausted.  

When all was said and done
We dove in the lake to clean up, partook in the bbq (free beer for those who care about such things), and headed out...  And at this point we learned just where S parked.  Gave her a ride back from our prime parking...  Drove, and drove, and drove some more....  Eventually, after turning at the second star to the right and driving straight on till morning, we found it.   S officially ran twice the length the rest of us did.  Thoroughly impressive :)

So yeah, overall, I'd say the obstacles were significantly easier than I was anticipating but you could make the course challenging if you were so inclined (S and I most definitely were not!)   I'm not sure I'll set out to do it again, but I wouldn't avoid it either if a group of people wanted to go :)   A very fun day.

Summer update :)

As so often seems to happen about this time of year, I'm so busy at the barn, the blog somewhat disintegrates...   Oops.

So much fun stuff has been going on, that there's been a distinct lack of writing time!   Photos and mini-updates always on Facebook, but here, silence.  So sad.

Today, is the day to fill in the blanks.  In fast forward...   What have we been up to?

Well Rowan and Brena went to Equus -- where Brena was in first until she choose to do PE XC at T speed >;-P  bahaha she had a blast but dropped to third *g*    We've done all kinds of XC schooling -- Glenarden twice, Myrddin, Will O Wind, Caledon...  Out almost every week with different riders each time.  So very much fun!

Did a random vaulting night at one point -- will probably repeat that with some other groups :)   Emily put together this vid -- unfortunately Katlyn's ride didn't get captured, but suffice to say she showed us all up *g*

Have a couple new jumps to play with.  HUGE thanks to Tammy for the barrels, and to Bryn for the gate, the fixed xc roll-top, AND the viaduct!  Wow - awesome!

On a business note -- we need more students for the fall semester.  Too many leaving for university this fall :(   Have a couple spaces for the tween age range, a couple for novice adults ("real" adults), and a bunch for the int/adv university age types... So if you know of anybody who wants to ride, send em over :) Have a free lesson for anybody you bring in who signs up :)

I'm still alive :)

Right so it's been a while.  How's your summer going? :)   Mostly figured I should post because one of my friends dropped by the barn the other day to see if I was still alive *g*  On the one hand, glad she cared :)   On the other, oops...  hahaha

Usual summertime chaos -- having a blast with Lexi, although she's a long way from ready to compete *sigh* but learning quickly.  Hoping for *next* summer now.  School's doing well and the competitive team brings home ribbons every time out, so reasonably happy about that.  Mud hero on Saturday.  Ummmm definitely thinking I'm not even remotely fit enough for that, so it sb entertaining.  It just may get its own post >;-P

Writing....  Psyc novel first draft is long since done and totally on hold until such time as I choose to do something with it.  Maybe never >;-P   Second fantasy novel, however, is also complete and is at the editor's.  I'm really quite excited about this one :)   It'll be the first in a series.  The second one is started, but paused as life got in the way.  hahaha will be continued at some point though!

The evil side of me had to laugh the other day.  The exotic car tours often drive around here, and tbh they make me laugh.  If I wanted to spend a stupid amount of money just to rent a snazzy car, I'd want to drive it where I want to go not follow a line of a dozen others...  But sobeit, people actually pay money for this.   Yesterday as I was driving there were a whole line of them pulled over to the side of the road.  The lead car was clearly having engine troubles so a dozen ridiculously expensive but very pretty looking cars all pulled over, one w the hood up, and all the disgruntled drivers standing in a huff on the side of the road. I wish I'd been brave enough to stop and take a pic *g*

Summer weather FINALLY seems to be here -- sailing tonight!  Super stoked about that :)

And on the flip side - working on marketing for fall semester for GRS.  Need more students in!   Have a couple spaces for the tween age range, a couple for novice adults ("real" adults), and a bunch for the int/adv university age types...   So if you know of anybody who wants to ride, send em my way :)  

And on that note - time to get back to work!  

GRS Entertainment :)

I have a lot of fun teaching, and a large part of that is the awesome students :)

Now mostly they're awesome because they're seriously dedicated and try really hard to accomplish what I'm asking them *g*   But sometimes they're awesome because of what they say.  And that is what keeps us all laughing.  So here's a collection of some of my favourites...

Steph on a cold winter day re her noticeably shivering - "It's just my cold gremlins trying to get out"

From Eve (about nine years old at the time) while riding with no reins, hands in front lotus-style - "I'm a zen child".  If I recall correctly there was also some air-guitar happening that ride.

From Nicole - "Friends, let's all change direction!"  And then after a reasonable pause when she's still the only one going the other way -- "I guess we're not as close friends as I thought..."

Steph: "so for dressage, you kind of have to be a solid jelly-fish"   Surprisingly accurate actually :)  But definitely made me laugh.

Eve: "Gallop, Nick!  Gallop!"  -- if you've ever met Nick, you'll understand why this is funny :)

Nicole: "Quit criticizing Laur and watch where you're riding!"  hahaha another student critiquing the less-than-even jump I'd just built, nearly ran over Nicole who was helping ring crew.  Her answer was perfect!

Brena: "Stop pony stop!"  Bahahah okay so that's just funny all on its own.  It's even funnier if you realize she was bareback, hanging off the side of Bella's neck, and the pony was very slowly walking toward the arena door.

From Nicole:  "I did that!" -- this is a long running one, in which Nicole takes credit for everything from the sun coming out to good footing on course.  It all began at Cedar Run...

And of course from Steph, the closely related "take credit for flukes".  One of the most important of The Rules.

Sometimes even I get to join in.  From me to Steph: "That was a half-halt and a half.  Which I guess makes an actual halt.  Which is kind of what happened."  Bahaha oh dear.  Can't be brilliant all the time!

You'll note some names appear a lot.  When Steph, Nicole, Paula and Brena are all in the same class -- I'm not sure how much anybody learns, but it's usually an entertaining one to watch :)

Shakespeare goes XC schooling

Sometimes I find random parts of my life choose to intersect in very unusual ways.

The one that really made me laugh this week was when I was schooling Lexi XC on Tuesday.  I talk to baby horses a *lot* when I ride.  Less so once they know what they're doing, but I usually find the greenbeans responds pretty well to a calming voice.  Or alternately, sometimes a growling or a cheering voice.  And sometimes all three on one jump *g*  Regardless, the end result is a sometimes ridiculous rather one-sided conversation.

Sometimes the conversation is practical.  Counting strides is an old standby of mine.  "Steady" or "wait" are others.  "Good girl" is pretty much a given on take off -- leading to all sorts of wonderful facial expressions *sigh*.  Etc etc.  But sometimes not so much.

So I was riding Lexi toward the baby house, and there was another house right next to it.  What do I find myself saying?  "Two houses...  Both alike in dignity.  In fair Verona where we lay our scene..."  Bahaha yeah it was just random enough that it totally took all my concentration off what I was supposed to do *g*  One of those, where did *that* come from moments.  And then I was even more annoyed I couldn't remember the next line.  Yeah, I'm a geek, what can I say.   But she jumped both of the dignified houses, so it's all good.  And yes, I know it's actually households -- but we were jumping houses!  Work with me here.
Straight and centre -- not half bad :)
And not only did she do houses, but the scary coups, the up and down banks (down took some work), and the ditches!  Super pro-star with the ditch; I was pretty stoked about that.  And then she got two days off to recover *g*   Well more because of the heat than the xc, but still.  She was lots of fun to ride stupidly-early this am.  hahaha ah well.
Lexi over the baby ditch
And with that -- it's off to sleep for me.  To sleep, perchance to dream.  A thousand times good night :)

Summer Simple Pleasures

Alright people -- there's been just a little too much whining about this amazing summer week we're having :)    For those of you who *love* winter, you're exempt.  You're insane, but you're exempt. I'll complain about your season and you can complain about mine -- it's all good.  But for everybody else for whom it was too cold, then too wet, and now too hot...  Pick one!

For me -- it's all about summer.  The *only* down side in my little world is I worry about my animals whose comfort level is 10-20 degrees lower than mine and who can't escape to air conditioning.  But the up sides?  Those are endless.

Introducing Summer Simple Pleasures:

- being warm
- not being cold :)
- long hours of daylight
- sailing!
- playing frisbee with my dog
- milkshakes
- going barefoot
- cycling
- patio lunches with Jen
- lying outside at night counting the stars
- being able to take Sasha for a walk at midnight wearing shorts and a tshirt and be totally comfortable
- being able to do barn chores in <2h p="">- driving with the roof down (this'd be much easier if I owned a convertible! >;-P)
- sundresses (admittedly less appropriate where I work, but any excuse I get...)
- water parks (yup, I'm really 12 years old :)
- watching the horses grazing in their paddocks
- cottaging
- ice cream!   Kwartha Dairy anybody?
- everything about show season except, perhaps, the lack of sleep!
- napping outside on a summer afternoon
- splashing through the waves on the beach
- sandals
- driving with the windows down and the radio blaring
- night swimming
- riding xc
- slushies
- hacking
- hiking
- hammocks
- Shakespeare in the park
- not needing to wear mitts to do the barn
- the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the trees
- the power of a summer storm
- the smell of fresh cut hay
- floating on pool toys
- bbq
- freezies
- pool parties
- street artists
- zipping across the lake in a speed boat
- or behind said speed boat :)
- eating fresh strawberries outside on a warm day
- or raspberries
- or watermelon
- or...  well you get the idea :)
- outdoor theatre
- having the windows open at night
- weedeating (okay I know this is supposed to be a chore, but really there's something satisfying about it)
- swings
- exploring tiny towns in the middle of nowhere
- happier, more relaxed people
- watching Sasha swim in the pond
- diving into the lake on a hot day at the cottage
- diving into the pool any day :)
- picnics
- the way my hair changes colour (admittedly less successful when I tie it up under a hat!)
- driving both to and from work in daylight (I only get about three weeks of this -- it's already dark when I drive home now *sigh*)
- turning the horses out without blankets
- spending a lazy afternoon outside with a book
- not wishing I lived in a warmer country
- a darkening sky just before a massive thunder storm
- outdoor musicians
- less traffic
- people watching
- stepping outside of an overly-air-conditioned building into warmth
- listening to the crickets as the sun sets
- sitting in the shade under the tree
- flowers
- the smell of the forest after a rainfall
- a cool shower after working outside all day

I could keep going but that last option seems too appealing.  And then maybe I'll take Sash for a walk to admire the stars...

What are your summer simple pleasures?

Revisiting 30 Things in 30 Years

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me :)

So, way back when (how has five years passed already???) I wrote a blog post about thirty things in thirty years, based off this idea.   I really haven't looked at it since then, but I though it might be interesting (to me anyways!) to find it and see which I've accomplished, which are still on the list, and if there are any I really don't care about any more...  So, here goes.  The original list along with my thoughts now :)

1 have something I write published - So nailed this one pretty much.  And I remember hesitating to put it on the list simply because I figured there was not a chance.  Ever.  But five years, two short stories and one novel later...  More in progress.  And basically the most exciting thing going on in my world these days.  I suppose the next step would be to have something that's published make X amount in royalties...  $1000 maybe?  $10000?  bahahaha this from the girl who has yet to pass $50 >;-P   Ambitious much?
It's real!  I still have trouble believing that!
2 earn PhD - I actually find I'm caring less about this one the farther away from academia I'm getting.  We'll say it's still on the list, but I wonder if it'll make the next cut...

3 run 5k Been there, done that.  And then some!
15K race :)   Part of me's actually considering doing it again.
We're ignoring that part >;-P
4 live, laugh, learn (this is only one thing really, not three, cause I intend to do them all together!) - still in progress, still on the list.

5 repay student loan - ummm yeah, about that *sigh*

6 get (and learn to use!) a serious camera Half way there.  I *have* a snazzy camera now, but still very much a beginner in the how to use it category!  I figure I like maybe 1 in 100 of the shots I take.  Not quite the ratio I'm looking for.

7 sleep (I'm going to need to after completing this list!) bahahaha

8 learn enough Latin to be able to read medieval texts - Failed :(  Booo.  I learned the basics, but not enough.  Still on the list cause I'm fairly fascinated by it, but on hold for now.  Only so much time in a day!

9 let go of past hurts - Pretty much done :)  I remember what this referred to and time solved...  But I suppose it's always an ongoing thing.  

10 make time for self - Getting *slightly* better at this.  Mostly thanks to Stephy helping out at the barn so often.  Not going to claim it's accomplished though since one of these days she's going to get a real job *g*

11 make time for friends (hmmm do these two conflict?) - Still really bad at this *sigh*  Getting slightly better though!

12 have serious relationship (definitely conflicts w/ above two!) - ummmm yeah.  Another horrible fail.  Would probably make for a good blog post if I wrote about that part of my life.  hahaha oh dear.  But less good for the whole marriage and serious relationship idea :(   Definitely still on the list.

13 compete intermediate level eventing - Not yet.  Very definitely still on the list.  Lexi maybe?  That's a long way away yet, but it's dreams like that that keep me going.
Okay Superpony - my hopes are on you.  Stay sound, healthy and brave!
14 learn to cook at least one meal I'd be proud to make for company Yeah no.  Not even sure I care any more.  Maybe that non-existent other half will cook? :)  If you're going to dream, dream big right?

15 expand my vocabulary - Meh.  Does that count?  :)  I like to think my writing's improving and with it my vocabulary, but not really sure how to quantify this one.

16 travel: visit Egypt, South Africa, Ireland (is that really 3 things???) - None of the above.  Booo :(  All still on the list.  And a few others :)

17 see the northern lights Not yet!  Still on the list.

18 change someone's life (preferably for the better!) I have no idea.  But it still sounds good :)

19 get a massage So Stephy and Paula gave me a gift certificate for this for my birthday last year.  Ummmm I have yet to go.  Oops.  Really want to, but apparently that whole "make time for self" thing isn't *that* complete yet.  I tried twice, but both times they were already booked.  Will go. Seriously.

20 buy some fashionable clothes (will need some help w/ this one!) Right -- sort of.  Mostly I just rely on Steph and Jen to dress me now.

21 ride Trans-Wales Trail - Haven't gone yet, can't wait to go, definitely still on the list.  Just hoping they don't decide to close down before I get there!

22 do something w/ genealogy notes - Nope.  Haven't even started.  Still on the list, but not for the next five years probably *g*

23 climb to the top of a Mayan pyramid - Not yet.  Still on the list.

24 go on a Canadian road trip w/ no predetermined destination Hasn't happened yet, but I *did* at least get to go to Banff.  Had so much fun there with Mum.

25 start riding school and make successful -- successful defined as self-supporting and me not having to work 7 days/wk unless I want to  - Okay so not *quite* there yet, but I like to think it's well on its way!  HUGE thanks to everybody who's helped this one come true.  Notice how far down on the list I stuck the one that should've been number one?  Put it in at the end because I didn't really think it could ever happen.  Figured the writing was a big enough scary goal to announce to the world; this one would be smuggled in.  But it's happening!  And it's amazing!
My logo and all my current schoolies :)
Thanks to Emily Martin for the image.
26 win my fair share of Trivial Pursuit at the cottage (damn pink category!) - Done and done!  But I still hate pink.

27 identify 100 things that make me happy (oh no, another list!) This list seems a lot less important somehow when I'm genuinely happy most of the time these days.  The superstitious side of me hesitates to write that; I keep waiting for it all to change.  But maybe that's when it's most important -- so that when it changes, the memory is there...  I'll leave the happy list on the goal list for now :)

28 parasail Still haven't done it; would still like to.

29 live my imagination Definitely done.  The only issue is, my imagination seems to know no bounds...

30 do something w/ my photos An odd way to finish...  I'm puzzled by this one as I don't really know what I meant, so have no idea if it's accomplished or not...  Does Facebook count?  :)   I print the ones I really like and save the others.

So yeah.  That's about it.  I'm really excited about where things are now, and how much I've accomplished.  But I'm even more excited about how much there is still left to do :)  Wish me luck!  Or better yet -- come along for the ride.