Here there be dragons...

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

Websites and Registries and Photos, oh my!

So continuing the list of random wedding things that surprised me...

First of all, I've googled "... etiquette" more times in the last two weeks than my entire life cumulatively.  Admittedly that's not saying much, but still.  It's excessive.  And when you're done reading all the rules, at the bottom it basically has a codicil that states "none of this applies to destination weddings".  Sheesh.

So we decided a website would be a good method of disbursing all of the relevant information.  Sweet.  I know websites.  Easy.  But then I foolishly googled to see what others had done.  Oh dear.  But in the midst of all the chaos of Too Much Information, I realized there are several good free sites available and picked one of those.  It's not nearly as customizable as I'd like, but it's free and it's fast and it's well laid out.  Fine.

Deciding it would do, I spent a fair amount of time entering information from the travel agent and deleting sections I didn't like.  "Our Proposal" ummm no.  Those who should know either asked me already or read my blog.  The website is for actually useful information, not storytelling.  That being said, there will have to be a little bit of storytelling as Chris convinced me it was reasonable to leave the "About Us" page up -- since the vast majority of the people attending likely only know one of us.  But that's all we need.

Anyways -- all good right?  Except, websites like photos.  Not a ton, perhaps, but at least some.  And Chris has a pretty serious aversion to cameras.  So as a result, pretty well the only photos of the two of us together are the ones taken in Cuba -- where we were very rarely dressed appropriately for a wedding website ;)

So we called our wedding photographer (did I mention we already have a wedding photographer?  Oh yeah, we're just that good!), and asked if he could do some engagement photos.   Seriously.  I actually just wrote that sentence.  Don't entirely believe it myself, but it is, in fact, true.

Well Joe agreed and suggested that the best time for outdoor photos is either sunset or sunrise.  Which would be lovely, except that I'm generally working at sunset and Chris is generally working at sunrise.  Hmmmm weekend it is.  But this weekend both our evenings were booked, and so that is how we ended up doing a photoshoot at 7:30 in the morning.  Oh the things we do for love ;)   Or at least for the trappings that go along with love.
This lighting is why the early-morning start.
Love this shot!
Actually went really well and I had a surprisingly good time with it.
Definitely not the most formal or technical photo of the day,
but it makes me smile every time I see it.
And that should've been the end.  But no, apparently we need registries.  Three according to the etiquette-consensus.  We shouldn't need any.  We're going away.  People are paying a lot of money to come to our wedding.  We don't need or want gifts, or showers, or anything else.  But still people keep asking, and our mothers strongly recommended we do the registry thing.  And really, a wise person doesn't ignore a strong recommendation from their mother.  So we sucked it up and hit up a store, where we met Debbie, the poor woman whose job it was to help us set up our registry.  You've heard of a hostile witness?  hahaha well she had the wedding version.  We did mostly behave ourselves.  At one point she mentioned she had a hard time knowing when we were being serious.  Oops.  hahaha but we got through it all and escaped with only a few scars ;)  And even Debbie was smiling -- although that might've been because we were done *g*

When we got home we discovered the concept of a honeymoon registry.  Way better idea -- we "need" the most amazing trip ever far more than we need place-mats. hahaha so then it was back to Google to see what'd be involved in setting that up.  That one was actually fun, because it lead to daydreaming about said honeymoon -- we're aiming for Zanzibar.  Seriously.  Awesome.

So we still have one more to go to appease the etiquette gods, and we will get it done at some point.  When both Chris and I have time.  And the store's open.  Cause, you know, those things all coincide at least once in a while.  I'm sure.

And in the end we have some photos that I'm really happy with, gave Debbie something to do at work, and by the time we get our invitations, the website will be ready to launch.  The world is good.

Oh and Chris' parents met my parents for the first time this weekend.  But that's a different story ;)

Happy bunny day :)

Lexi's growing again!  Sheesh.  Not exactly what I needed but sobeit.  Otherwise, things are going well with her -- I'm enjoying riding again.  Esp now that we can be outside!  Mostly ;)

For my readers who check in mostly for horse stuff -- consider yourself forewarned.  I'm sorry, but that's it.

Cause yeah, for some reason far more on my mind these days is wedding stuff.   Wow.  I'ts a little insane.  I can't believe how often I'm surprised by pieces of it.  Am so glad we're going away.  That was definitely an awesome life choice.

First surprise -- two weeks to get my ring resized.  Nooooo!  For the men out there who don't comprehend the horror of this situation -- picture being given the best new toy/game/tool/car you can imagine.  Now telling everybody you have it, and having every single one of them want to see it.  And then not being able to use -- or even see! -- it for two weeks.  Yeah.  Times ten ;)   But then the mother of one of my students, who happens to own Avalon Jewelry, said they could get it done for me by Saturday if I brought it in by Tuesday.  Done.  Woohoo!   And I'll tell ya -- Saturday, despite how tight timing was that day between work and meeting w/ the travel agent, we still detoured so I could get my ring back ;)

Yes - travel agent.  I've never really worked with one before -- I usually just google and go.  But Chris and I figured for the wedding it would make sense to work with somebody who does this for a living.  First challenge -- find one!  There are *tons* of travel agents, how do you pick?  Well we wanted somebody we could meet face to face, which narrowed the selection dramatically.   Also wanted somebody with a reasonable amount of experience who was familiar with Costa Rica.   Yup - if you haven't caught that little detail yet, we're getting married in Costa Rica.  But neither Chris nor I have ever been there before.  No worries -- Google did its thing and soon enough we had an Oakville-based agent who specializes in Costa Rica and Jamaica.  Sweet.  We exchanged some emails and we arranged to meet on Saturday after I finished teaching.  After meeting her I was super excited and impressed.  She knew her stuff asked intelligent questions and was able to answer the questions Chris and I had.  I compared online prices with those she got for us and hers were significantly reduced.  So pretty happy all around :)

So all good right?   Getting married on the beach -- show up and go.

If only...

"What are your colours?"

"Do you have your dress yet?"

"What are you wearing to the rehersal dinner?"

I...  Wait, what???  Right, not even going to address the last one ;)

Yup all of those are questions I've heard in the last week.  The first I only just stopped myself from rolling my eyes. Colours?  Really?  But soon enough in random conversation with Chris I realized we actually did have colours based on what he wants to wear.  Imagine that :)    Ahead of the game really!

A dress?  I only just got a ring!  hahaha oh dear.  But I get that -- apparently it takes months to order a dress.  So I'll have to suck it up and go dress shopping sooner than later.  Will be an interesting scheduling challenge as both my mum and C's want to be there.  Oh dear.  And, well, I need Steph there because I'm not allowed to make clothing choices on my own.   For now though, Emily's narrowing them down for me online ;)

Invitations are almost ready to go.  Mostly just waiting for confirmation that we have the date and time we want.  But design etc all done.  Was astounded at the online options.  10,000 + results for beach wedding invites.  It's enough to make you close the computer and find something else to do ;)

But inviting people is one of the things I've been pleasantly surprised about.  Everybody seems super excited to come -- whether for the wedding or for the location ;)   It seems Costa Rica is on a lot of people's lists :)  Sweet!

Reactions have also been a lot of fun.  Seeing how excited people are makes it even more exciting for me.  I'm continually surprised by it, but it's all good :)  And  yes, I'm *still* grinning.  Starting to feel a little ridiculous about it, but hey - it's a once in a lifetime thing :)

Lots more coming, but it's sunny out so I'm off.  Cheers!

Best. Dog Walk. Ever!

OMG I'm getting married!!!!!!!!

hahaha nobody's going to accuse me of burying the lead today ;-P   And yes, it is so very worth capital letters and exclamation marks.   Lots of them.  In fact I think it deserves more.  So for good measure:  Chris proposed this afternoon and WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I try really hard not to include the really personal parts of my life on here.  Some of my friends have told me they like being mentioned -- they get names and stories.  Some are okay with me retelling stories, but I just do so without names.  And some things, simply, don't belong on the internet.  But this one, this one I'm claiming for myself.  And with a roll of the eyes, Chris agreed to me writing about it *g*

So let's recap the weekend shall we?   Saturday was pretty standard -- taught some, rode some, knocked out a few walls (okay, so my definition of standard might have changed in recent times -- sobeit).  Regardless, other than that I had a truly decent ride that I was legitimately happy with, and shooting paintballs indoors is all kinds of entertaining, there was really nothing to write home about.  Or even blog ;)

Sundays Chris and I have come to consider "lazy Sundays".  As in we try not to book anything ambitious or do anything reasonably productive.  At first this was challenging for both of us as we tend to be a *little* type A...  But, especially after the crash course in Cuba, we've gotten quite good at it.  And I can't speak for Chris, but I, at least, have grown fond of and am fairly protective of my lazy Sundays.  So today we had not-very-much planned.  A friend of mine was here from out of town, so we were meeting him for lunch.  And we'd spoken vaguely a few days earlier of taking advantage of the almost-spring-like weather to take the dogs out for a decent walk.  That was the entire extent of our plans -- that I was aware of anyways ;)

So lunch was great.  I didn't get to see C last time he was in town, so really good to catch up.  After lunch we dropped by some other friends of mine who live in that town, but unfortunately they were away.  Ah well.  Had some free time and weather was nice so went for a bit of a drive.  Only issue is, by the time we got back I was feeling really motion sick.  Boooo :(   Hasn't happened in *ages* but is so less-than-pleasant when it does.   Fortunately, I know from past experience that if I just stay very still for a while and drink some water, I'm usually fine.  I also know that if I ignore it, it gets worse, not better.  So despite the fact that both Chris and the dogs were pretty excited for the aforementioned walk, I begged a half-hour to recover.

Fortunately it worked and shortly thereafter we were off...  Headed to the rail trail with two very excited dogs.  Sun shining, temperature all kinds of civilized.  Trail was wet in places but entirely navigable.  So we're having a good time walking along, enjoying the weather and the views.  Rail trail in that section follows the river, so some stunning views.  At one point we could see deer grazing on the opposite bank.  Super cool.  Only thing is, the trail is mostly wooded, which means not as warm, which means it's still snowy.  Not really a big deal, except Chris managed to get both feet soaked.  Booo.  I asked if he wanted to go back, but he said no, so all good.  But then I hit an issue that had never occurred to me -- you see when I get motion sickness, I'm uber sensitive to it for several hours afterwards...   And the slipping and sliding on the snow was making me nauseous.  I suggested we go back and follow the trail the other way -- where it'd been out of the woods and therefore no snow.

But Chris wanted to keep going; said there was a bridge just up ahead -- we'd go there.  Okay, I can suck it up.  Once I realized he had a destination in mind sobeit.  And yes, you'd think I might've clued in.  Might've had the slightest idea.  But you had the first paragraph, you *know* where this is going.  I did not ;-P   And in my own defense, Chris - for reasons surpassing understanding - seems to actually love this little town of his and often will take me places just to show me something.  Like our random drive that morning, was to look at a cool farm.  And it's almost always something worth seeing, so I've learned to go along with these things...   He also offered to turn back, but the combination of a specific target (cause lets be honest, the rail trail goes a lot farther than we could walk in one day!) and the fact that we magically ended up in an area that the snow had all melted so I wasn't feeling worse worked out and we kept going.

Anyways - sure enough, we could shortly see the bridge he was talking about.  Or, more accurately, what used to be the bridge -- all that remains are the stone pillars (supports?  I admit to being too distracted to Google the correct terminology right this second.  Proposal to get to you know!).  I suspect Chris might've had a specific spot farther along, but I saw two benches.  And, of course, was oblivious to his plans...  And was still feeling quite ill and knowing if I sat for even five minutes, I'd feel a ton better and be able to actually enjoy the rest of the hike.  So I dragged him and the two dogs over to sit down.

Bench in memory of Gertrude and Allen.  Would like to know their story...

So we sat for a moment watching the stunning view of the river, well framed by the stone remains.  The dogs were being reasonably civilized at our feet -- neither pulling on the leashes or being silly. Nobody around anywhere -- our own private paradise.

And all of a sudden he had a ring in his hand and was asking me to marry him.

I'm still shaking as I write this.  I am so totally unbelievably happy.  The yes was a given :)   Fortunately I was wearing sunglasses so he didn't see how teary my eyes got.  Yup, about some things I am very much a girl.

We sat for quite a while watching the water, enjoying the moment, and just being together.  I love that we can be quiet together; I need quiet to function.  It was...  Absolutely perfect really.

When we got home pretty much the first thing I did was call my parents, and then my aunt Linda.  Those calls were a lot of fun to make -- I think they're almost as excited as I am :)  That was awesome.  Then we met up with Chris' parents for dinner.  They were super enthusiastic and very welcoming -- almost made me get all kinds of teary again.  Who is this person? ;)  I sent a message to one of my best friends asking her to call me if she was still up -- she lives in France and the time difference was not in my favour here...   After dinner called and texted a few close friends -- again so much fun.

And then...  The Facebook post.   I don't do "relationship" statuses as a rule.  To me, relationships are private and don't belong on the internet; the same reason for the absence from the blog.  Actually I remember when Chris and I started dating, having a conversation about it and saying that I couldn't imagine actually changing it until I was engaged to somebody...   Hahaha so jumping from several years of "none" to "engaged" with nothing inbetween -- got all kinds of fun comments!   My phone rang just as Chris was posting, so I approved it and then went away to talk.

When I came back, Facebook had exploded.  It was an almost overwhelming top to an unbelievable day.  The cheers and love and well wishes from everybody was so wonderful.  Those I'm close with and some I haven't seen since high school -- and yet all took the time to "like" and comment.  Took only a second or two, yet actually meant so much.

So yes, between this and whatever my soon-to-come next career will be, suffice to say this is yet another year of major life changes *g*    Should make for some entertaining blog posts if nothing else ;)

So happy.  Incredibly, over-the-top, she who writes compulsively can't come up with the words, happy.

Thanks Chris.  I love you.

Does it still count as a learning experience if you stay *on* the horse?

My editor once told me a story should have a point.  I'm not sure I always agree with that, but for those who do the point is simple: my pony was awesome!   The end.

The longer version isn't much different -- just longer :)   In review, I decided on Sun to take Lexi to a clinic I knew nothing about with a clinician I'd never heard of.  Brilliant.  But I liked the idea of the clinic and was disappointed I wasn't going to get to see the Tuesday version, so decided I'd give this a go.

My last post reviewed how much longer everything takes for the first couple outings of the season; fortunately I had the *very* civilized ride time of noon.  This gave lots of time for the silliness that just happens...  

And sure enough, I went to hook up my trailer and it was like this:

Booooo.  It has to be *on* the block for my truck to fit under it...   Laura and I deemed we couldn't lift it, or even move it slightly *sigh*   But fortunately Frank could!  hahaha he lifted it up so I could slide the block back underneath and we were good to go :)  As far as unexpected delays go, it really wasn't too bad...

Quickly got Lexi ready.  Her braids were embarrassingly atrocious -- the only thing worse would've been her completely wild unbraided mane.  But it was made up for it with the ever-important stunning tail *g*  Which, I'll admit, I even wrapped before leaving.  I don't think I've ever actually used a tail wrap before, but I know how nervous she is about trailering so...  Why not ;)  Pony loaded like a prostar -- but then promptly had a meltdown once she was on.  So I headed out quickly in hopes she would settle and the drive was uneventful.

Unloading, however, I genuinely thought she might flip the trailer :(   Was trying to figure out how I could safely get her out alone when Becky arrived.  "You were gone for long enough, I thought I should come make sure you were both still alive."  hahaha Yeah for extra hands!  With her, had Lexi off and calmer in seconds.

Stalls were in the arena, which was awesome from my pov as it gave Lexi an hour to settle in the arena I was going to ride in.  Pretty sweet.  Kitty's lesson was just starting when we got there, so L wasn't even alone in the arena.  She settled pretty much instantly.

So the clinic itself.  Had to wear a funky jacket with bright pink stripes on it.  Have you met me?  ;)  All the other jackets were green, but no, I get the pink one.  Sheesh.  Ah well.  The point, however, was to be able to clearly see any misalignment in position.  Russell also placed a white dot on the back of the saddle and on the middle of Lexi's croup so alignment would be very obvious.

Yes there are pictures, but they're on the other computer so can't get them tonight.   Later :)

It was deemed that I sit quite straight.  Yeah!  I *think* I'm fairly aware of my flaws as a rider, but you don't know what you don't know right?  So there was definitely a moment of hmmmmm I wonder...  

Russell videoed a bit at the beginning -- super high frames/second rate so when we watched it back it played in slow motion.   Had his computer hooked up to a TV screen so we could watch mounted and auditors could see as well.  Really interesting and useful.

He asked what I wanted to work on (I'm quite certain she was the greenest horse of the day by several years).   I said we were mostly there to let her see the world, but if we could get forward and into some form of contact, that'd be wonderful.

Well at about that point, we got all sorts of practice experiencing the world.  MH's three great danes darted in the ring barking.  And here we have why I always have Sasha in the ring with the horses...   I'm not sure Lexi knew exactly what they were (dogs?  odd looking ponies?  giant goats? -- yes she lives with a variety of critters) but she kept it together.   Gave them a good stink-eye and grew a hand or so, but didn't react otherwise.  I was so very impressed.  She was actually far more concerned about the auditors who arrived late with noisy fast-food bags ;)   Those she hasn't seen before!  hahaha

It was interesting to note that when he asked how I felt about the speed, we differed in answer.  I felt she was too slow; he said no - she was moving and tracking up well.  We settled on she was moving but behind the leg, and worked to fix that.We did a lot of work on getting her in front of the leg.  He took my dressage whip away, preferring instead the "pony club kick".  It probably looked fairly ugly, but it worked.  He also focused on my well known bad habit of reins too long *sigh* -- and the video made me cringe, because of course as a coach, when I see it, I know how wrong it is...   And an unknown habit of turning my right wrist slightly.  Totally random, but when I fixed it, it helped.  The other one was "if you cluck, you know she's behind your leg."  Such a simple obvious statement, but absolutely correct.  And an instant auditory clue that I need to solve that problem Right Now.

I was concerned about my recent habit of my legs doing strange and unusual things entirely of their own volition.  He decided I was doing too much to support my horse and that I needed to teach her to carry herself and create her own impulsion and once that happened, my legs would fix themselves.   A little easier said than done, but even within the hour or so a noticeable difference.  So that was a huge relief!   Again, the pony club kick played a big role *g*

Also interesting was he had me do far more with my hands than I'm accustomed to -- but the end result with my horse was fabulous, and on the video it looked like I was doing nothing.  So subtle aids, but more of them.  And how did he pick up on that one?

He got on my horse!   Woohoo!   First time I've seen Lexi ridden.   He asked permission several times -- didn't seem convinced that I actually was totally okay with him getting on.   Rode around for a while -- employed the pony club kick himself.  And shortly she looked like a really impressive horse!   One that could actually go somewhere and do some stuff ;-P
Yup, just like that.  Complete with pretty tail...
Anyways yes, had me fairly stoked for the horse I could have...   When I got back on she still felt the same, but now I had a better idea what I was aiming for -- and I think we got moments of it.  The video seems to imply so.  I know we would've if I'd actually managed to shorten my reins!  Ugh.  This summer's goal -- fix that particular bad habit.  Sheesh.

Have always found the use of video to be particularly beneficial in my own riding.  Forever grateful to friends I manage to bribe to film my schooling even snippits...  So very useful.  So this clinic which incorporated slow-motion video was brilliant for me.  Russel was an excellent coach -- very positive, but with a good eye and reliance on simple basics.

And to round it out, MH's stable manager Becky was super-helpful.  Above and beyond helping me deal with my silly pony and settle in.

So all round an excellent outing.  Photos and maybe video later :)

But I have a lesson tomorrow am, so off for now.

Spring cleaning

By the end of show season each year, I can go from not even considering going anywhere to out the door with show turnout in well under twenty mins.  Slightly longer if I have to braid, but generally fast.  Everything is clean, organized and ready.  And that includes the horse.

Right now however...

Oh dear.

So Lexi's been in work for a couple weeks now.  I fear it's going to take forever and a day to get her fit *sigh*, but at least she's working consistently, has three gaits (usually), and is navigating from one side of a jump to the other (we won't give it the lofty title of "jumping" quite yet).  All good.

She also more closely resembles a lama having a bad hair day then a fancy grey TBX.  'Sok - realistically won't  be showing till June at least; lots of time for her to shed out, build some muscle, have a bath or two and just generally look like a horse.
Sadly I'm not even exaggerating...
Oh and our arena's so dusty that every piece of tack I own has a layer of filth on it I suspect may need an ice pick to break through.  But this is what spring's about right?  Eventually the sun comes out and the mud dries up and we can clean them (and us!) up, and the world is good again.  Perfect.

Except spring has yet to...  well... spring.  Ugh.   And on Sunday I randomly decided to enter a clinic.  On Wednesday.  Not too worried about the fitness level as focus is on details of rider position, so she mostly just needs to be there.  But turnout...

Right, remember that twenty-minute turn around time?   It doesn't exist at the start of the season.  Especially at the start of the season after a move.   Oh dear.

So I went to the barn early today.  Rode my horse, using the logic that a tired horse is more likely to stand patiently than a fresh one.  Okay, step one, tired horse in cross-ties.  Now, priorities...

About that...   Please refer back to the above picture.   Where does one even start?

Well let's see the challenges:
- every time I groom this horse I take off a small pony in shedding hair
- her mane...   Oh dear, I don't think I should even mention the mane...  Long flowingness yes...  but flowing in all directions in copious amounts.  And short little stubby pieces for good luck.  On the plus side -- she's so finicky about her mane (wait, the plus side is coming!) that I actually deal with it every day so she gets used to it.  This is almost working.  It does not, however, mean that the mane is neatly pulled, braidable, or even able to get a comb through.
- her tail, of the long flowing variety that every little girl dreams of, has seen neither brush nor shampoo in months.
- all the body parts that are traditionally trimmed....  Umm yeah - can't even see them.
- she closely resembles the above photo in colour.  Except, unlike the lama, Lexi is traditionally grey.
What she could potentially look like ;)
Where would you start?   Well let's go with what's going to make the biggest difference.  It's too cold for a bath, so elbow grease will have to do what it can for the colour.   And not too bad...  There are a few marks that aren't quite presentable, but at least the average person could make a stab at guessing what colour she's supposed to be.

Clipping?   Right.  Not going to happen.  My horse has yet to meet clippers and isn't big on new experiences.  I have neither the time nor the patience for that game today.  And my clippers need to be replaced.  I also don't want to trim around her fetlocks as we're entering mud season so I'd prefer she have at least some protection.  So, shaggy it is.

The tail...  Hmmmmm potential there.   Except it's currently one long dreadlock.  Ugh.  Okay.

So a few years ago I rented an apartment that had previously been owned for several years by a smoker.  I spent the first few weeks cleaning the walls.  Gross yellow stuff poured down the walls seemingly endlessly.  Cleaning Lexi's tail was worse.

But after several shampoos (thanks to Lilly for *finding* said shampoo!), multiple buckets of water, some conditioner, and a whole lot of patience, we had a barbie-doll tail again :)   Woohoo!

Okay, progress...  Now about that mane...   Ummmm nope.  Sorry.  So I threw the worlds worst braids in and deemed it done.  Will pick up some hairspray tonight or tomorrow and do what needs to be done ;)

Scissors trimmed up her oh-so-attractive beard and the lama was transformed into something that vaguely resembles a horse.

Next up - tack.  That'll take an hour or two, but shouldn't be too complicated ;)   Shoveling out the trailer otoh...

hahaha well we'll make it there tomorrow.  Unfit, shaggy, sort-of broke...  But with a really great tail.  That's gotta count for something, right?  ;)

Wish us luck!