Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My new toy!

I decided that I needed a new camera. Sort of like I needed those Steve Madden platform, peep toe, white patent leather 4" heels. Though I did get them on a clearance rack.


Ok, ok...maybe it was more want then need. But I wanted a new camera in a bad, bad way. I wasn't lucky enough to find the camera on a clearance rack, but I don't regret a penny that I spent on it. I've already gotten hours of entertainment out of it, which is more then I can say for the heels.


This is my new camera... I think it's kind of hot. For a camera. It's the Nikon Coolpix P80. It's got 18x optical zoom. That's going to be fun! It's got lots more dials and buttons and settings to screw with then my last camera. Don't get me wrong, I still love my old camera and it'll probably still get carted every where with me just because it's small and fits conveniently in my purse, but this new camera makes me drool.


There were quite a few reasons that I chose this particular camera. One, after my other camera, I love Nikon's. They are great and this one still felt very familiar to me even with all the cool new options. Two, PW, or rather one of PW's contributors Ivoryhut, inspired me with what can be done with an advanced point and shoot. Hers is a Canon, but this Nikon is basically the equivalent and I'm biased. I also think it's a great way to dip my toes into the great sea of photography without spending too much money or being overwhelmed. I really think playing with this camera will help me learn all about aperture, shutter speeds, exposure and all that other crap and then I can see if I want to spend the dough to step up into an SLR. I think this one should keep me busy for a little while atleast.


I've already taken almost 300 pictures just screwing around. Since the Christmas tree is the most interesting thing in my house at the moment (and I'm still having fun with macro) that is what you get.



And just in case you're curious (and because I need something other then the Christmas tree to take pics of)(and because they are very cute and fun but hell to wear, so I need to show them off some how) here is a pic of the heels...


Monday, December 29, 2008

Rain, rain, go away!

Far, far away!

Seriously.

I don't know which is worse, rain or snow. Snow is atleast pretty and mostly dry while it's freezing a$$ cold out. Though it does totally suck to drive in and being house bound for any length of time is not so much fun. But rain this time of year is just miserable. Especially rain and wind! It's cold and wet and wet and cold. And ugly and gray. And wet. Oh, and it's cold too. It makes driving oh so fun in it's own way, but atleast it's not completely debilitating to my commute like snow can be. I am very glad that it's alteast a few degrees above freezing and I was thrilled when I woke up to most of the snow melted a couple days ago! It's pretty and fun to look at for a couple days, but I was really over it. I was also very happy to be able to go out and feed the horses without having to take 10 minutes just to get bundled up enough that I'd be able to feel most of my extremeties when I got back in. Cutting out a good 20 minutes of busting up ice in water troughs was nice too. Not that I did much of that. I did stand there and hold the flashlight for the boyfriend while he did it though.


Now that all the snow has melted and it's supposed to pretty much pour for as many days as the weather forecast shows, I'm not looking forward to the state of my ponies' paddocks. Or my mental health. Does anyone else have just a touch of cabin fever? Wow. I had 5 days off in a row because of Christmas and even with all of the hustle and bustle of celebrating I still got some major cabin fever. I was pretty well fried by the fifth morning. I do enjoy relaxing and being a lazy bum for a little bit, don't get me wrong. But I think it's part of that whole "you always want what you can't have" thing. The weather was keeping me inside, since I'm a total weenie, and I wanted more then anything to be able to be outside and get some sun. Thankfully, the weather changed a bit yesterday so I was able to get a little fresh air. It was only for a few minutes, but it made a huge difference. The sun even peeked out for a bit! Back to gray and rainy today though. I have caught a couple glimpses of blue sky, but it never lasts very long. It should be an interesting couple of weeks.

Our poor horses are already looking like drowned rats. Makes me feel really bad for not getting them some sort of shelter other then big blankets and trees to hide under. Hopefully they forgive us. Summer goal this year: finish the barn!!!


Which brings me to a bright spot in all of this...we are past the shortest day of the year! It's only going to get better from here on out! Atleast for about 6 months. That is such a huge relief! We're on the down hill slide into summer! Wohoo!!! I'm ready! I can't wait for summer to get here!

ps - I got a super snazzy new camera over the weekend. I'm sure pictures galore will be here shortly! Well, maybe once the weather clears up...there aren't so many interesting things to take pictures of in the house. And while it does have a lot of zoom, I'm still on my macro kick and taking pictures of things outside from inside just isn't all that much fun.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow!


I can't decide if I like the snow or not. Generally I'm a big fan of it. It's very pretty and, if I decide to not be a complete weenie, it can be really fun to go out and play in. I do love a good snow ball fight or sledding adventure every once in a while.

The last couple years though, I've been perfectly content to sit inside and more or less ignore it while I hibernate. Now that I am older, snow can be very annoying. At our old house, traffic was hell if it snowed. I was expecting more of the same, or maybe worse since my commute is twice as long now, but was pleasantly surprised by how light traffic was on Wednesday, the first morning waking up to snow. I made it in to work in almost record time. It's times like these that I'm very thankful for my truck and definately not willing to part with it, even though it's hardly practical to drive a 3/4 ton lifted truck for my 60 mile round trip commute. My truck is heavy with good tires and four wheel drive. Even when I try to "test the roads" to see just how bad they really are, my truck hardly goes any where. I've never had a single problem with it in the snow (finding wood to knock on now).

Last year, when the highway that used to get me to and from work was a big sheet of ice and there were cars slipping and sliding all over the place, hitting curbs, going in ditches, stopping at lights and not able to get going again, I just put 'er in four wheel drive and wound my way thru the carnage so I could get back home. I did feel a little guilty for just going around the little old people in their Cadillac trying to make a turn on a slight incline with tires spinning, but what was I going to do?


Anyways, traffic and trying to get to work just plain sucks when it's snowing. Surprisingly, my new commute isn't as crazy bad as my old commute and I've managed to make it in in one piece, in decent time with only minor irritations both mornings that I've tried, but it still puts a damper on my enjoyment of the fluffy white stuff. I want to like it, I really do. I try to be happy when it's in the forecast and enjoy it while I can, but it's hard when I'm anticipating the hell on earth that is commuting in the snow.


I decided to call yesterday a snow day, mostly because I really was a little sick, so I did get a chance to enjoy it some. I ran outside to take some pictures during a break in the snow where the sun actually peaked out a bit. The ponies aren't so happy about the snow and were happy to come say hi to me for a minute. Cheyanne got to go out and play in the snow for a bit and I think she had fun, though she did seem a little hesitant to really get out in it much. I think she was perfectly content in the house for most of the day. She followed me around while I was out there, but most of the rest of the time she was out there I think she just hung around on the porch under cover.

Later in the afternoon the boyfriend got a little stir crazy and decided we needed to go for a drive. We had planned to get a little Christmas shopping done, but once we headed out it started snowing like crazy and it looked like everyone was trying to beat it home because there was traffic every where. We gave up on the Christmas shopping idea pretty quickly and decided to just make a little loop that would normally have taken us maybe 45 minutes. It ended up taking us 3 1/2 hours. Roads were being closed, cars were going in ditches and sliding back down hills or pulling off to chain up before going up hills. It was bad. Finally, after a tour of almost every single back road in existence between home and "town" we made it back home where 2-3 inches of new snow greeted us. Sheesh! Talk about bad timing.

I'm planning to enjoy the snow this weekend. I really want to. We still have a little bit of Christmas shopping to do, but it should be fairly easy. Hopefully I can have a little fun with the snow while it's here!

Monday, December 15, 2008

O' Christmas tree


We got our Christmas tree this weekend! Yay! I love Christmas trees! I love real Christmas trees! It's just not Christmas for me if there isn't the smell of a fir tree filling the house.


Could someone please explain to me why it is that they always seem to grow 3 feet on the ride home? It's the most peculiar phenomenon. We had planned to go with a nice, conservative 5'-6' noble, but came home with this 7'+ monster instead. I swear it didn't look that big on the lot! We couldn't even put it in front of our bay window, like we had planned. It hit the ceiling. So we had to move it over to Plan B, in the corner under the peak of the roof.


I decided to try something a little different this year with the tree. For some reason I've been feeling really country lately. I don't know if it's this house or living in the boonies or how involved I've been with horses lately or what, but my house, atleast the main living area, is going to be country. I've got all these big, very country plans for the living room, including a cow hide rug and pillows. And a horse shoe mural/collage on the wall. Not sure when all of that will happen, but I've got the mental pictures ready whenever it does!


Anyways, back to the tree... This year I wanted to do something a bit more country with earthy colors, rusty stars, horses and cowboy boots. I was really, really excited to find these stars at the craft store. They were exactly what I had been looking for. Then I went to Fred Meyers and got a $1.99 roll of twine and used that for garland and I think the tree turned out pretty darn cute!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

She's lucky she's cute!

My dog is nuts. My dog drives me nuts sometimes. But, she's cute enough to get away with just about anything. The brat.

We finally broke down and decided to give her an actual dog bed in her pen during the day, not just the old saddle blankets that she had been sleeping on. She was good for a couple days. Then she slaughtered the thing. I got it all stuffed back in the case, figuring it shouldn't be too hard to sew up since it was just the zipper she killed to get into it. I set it aside in our sunroom to deal with later.

The "sunroom" is a nice little room with tile floors and lots of windows that we have made Cheyanne's room. It's definately come in handy since the weather has turned. It's a nice place to put her while she dries off from being outside, usually playing in the mud, before she comes in to the carpeted part of the house.
I was gone for the evening and the boyfriend forgot about the ripped open bed sitting in the corner and put her in the sunroom. This is the mess I came home to. She had completely gutted the thing and spread it every where! Man, she must have been having a blast!

I had to laugh at it. Really, what else can you do?!? And then I had to take pictures of it. It was just too funny! I was amazed at the piles and piles of stuffing and shavings that came out of that bed!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The kitchen...again


I found a theme for my kitchen! It doesn't quite incorporate everything that I wanted it to, but a towel and potholder that I've had for 5 years or so is a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things. Plus there isn't any rule that says I can't use the towel and pot holder, I'm just a bit particular about details like that.

The new theme is coc...I mean...Roosters! I found this great pattern at Macy's and got a STEAL of a deal on them to boot! (I have mentioned that I like bargains, right?)

I was on a mission to get a new platter and serving bowl(s) before Thanksgiving since the ones that I got last year were cheap pieces of poop. The platter shattered while being hand washed after dinner and the bowl cracked in the dishwasher (yes, it was marked as dishwasher safe!) I wasn't too upset since I didn't like them all that much to begin with, but it was still irritating.

I also wanted something to hang on my walls, so that maybe I could feel like my kitchen was really finished. I was thinking of decorative plates, but hadn't found any that I really liked.

So after much hunting and fretting, I came across this set, "Ricamo" by Fitz and Floyd. It had the same yellow as my mixer. It isn't the main yellow, but there is enough of it to tie in nicely. It also ties in all of the blue that I have in my kitchen, as well as the wire rooster that I already had. It's modern, but a bit country.

The best part...it totally POPS on my wall and makes the white-ish walls not so blah! I am still considering painting the wall with the door yellow though. I just think it would be fun. To have it yellow that is, not the painting part so much.

So I'm getting closer to being completely sassified with my kitchen. Still not 100% there, but 99.7% ain't bad! :)


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A funny!

”Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater.
If you give her a house, she'll give you a home.
If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal.
If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart.
If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby.
She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.
So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit.”

Author unknown

I just had to share. My boss sent this to me. I received it as I was on the phone with a customer waiting for him to shuffle thru some papers so I skimmed over it. I had to put the phone down for a little bit while I composed myself.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I did it!

I just have to take a moment to pat myself on the back. Drum roll please....I loped Mister last night! Wohoo!



I know. It's a small feat. One that I accomplish regulary on a number of other horses. But Mister is special. You see, he's been known to buck. The first time he bucked the boyfriend off, was the first time he asked him to lope. He bucked regularly on the trainer at the lope. He's tried bucking once with me a year and a half ago, also at the lope. He's had 9 months off and this was really only my second ride on him. And when I say buck, I don't mean the little crow hops or a nice little buck. I mean, bit in teeth, head between his legs, full on bronc bucking. This guy is an athletic SOB and he can buck. Luckily the one time he tried with me, I felt it coming and was able to get him pulled around before he could get more then half a jump into it. Last night, he was an angel. Other then trying to spiral in to visit his buddies standing in the center and he did swish his tail once or twice while I was asking for the lope, but that was it. He was great! It was a huge deal for me. Way bigger then it should have been. I was ecstatic! And shaking like a leaf when I was finished. Not from excitement.



Now I'm just hoping he keeps doing as well as he did last night! Fingers crossed. And toes. And anything else I can cross!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sneaky little bugger!

Every single year, as much as I try and plan to not be caught off guard, Christmas and the holiday season seems to sneak up on me. I'm not sure how they always manage to do that. It's not like I don't see them coming. You'd think that stores getting their Christmas decorations up in August and September might get the pressure started. Or maybe Black Friday. But no. Here I am, two weeks away from Christmas, no cards sent and still the bulk of my shopping to go.

This year especially, I had the best of intentions. I actually bought my first Christmas present in August. I had atleast a little something for everyone on my list by October. I had planned to pay cash for everything and spread the shopping out over a few months so that I could do that. I hate credit cards. Ok, so maybe hate is too strong of a word, I do like the instant gratification of just charging it instead of waiting to have cash, but making those payments every month is very annoying. That money could be going in savings for our fence or barn or arena or tack room. Instead of paying on credit cards that I hardly remember what the charges were for. But here we are, December 9th already (holy crap!) and I've only got one person on my list done. That was the gift I bought in August and the other part is a requested re-gift, so I'm not sure it even counts.

I don't even have my Christmas decorations up yet. I'm such a slacker! I did manage to get them down from storage last week, but they've been parked in the dungeon (our extra bedroom that we never use and has turned into the "catch all" room for all the crap I don't want to deal with) since then. I suppose I do have excuses. Plenty of excuses. Though none of them are great and they don't help the fact that Christmas is getting close and I still have a ton to do. I have had some big projects that were actually productive that cut into my Chritmas prep time: I painted my kitchen, I hosted Thanksgiving, I've been riding my horse and had a couple shows. I know the main thing that has disctracted me from absolutely everything has been Twilight, but I love it too much to use that as an excuse. Plus, it's not a great excuse. It just shows that I have no self control and really screwed up priorities. And I'm ok with that.

I need to find my Christmas cd's (packed away in some random box when we moved that I figured I'd for sure have unpacked by the time Christmas rolled around, hahaha) and really get going on the Christmas spirit! I did get everything that I need to make fudge and my favorite Christmas cookies last weekend, but I ended up spending most of the weekend reading instead. D'oh!

I'm hoping to get in the Christmas spirit at some point this week. I'm looking forward to a really great date night with some friends tomorrow night that includes a Christmas craft project so I'm hoping that'll get it started! Then I can sail into the weekend humming Christmas tunes and get my decorating, shopping, cards and tree all done and some baking started! A girl can dream, right?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A.D.D.

Do you ever just feel like you've got to have an attention deficit disorder? I've felt that way lately for a few different reasons. The first being Twilight. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, I cannot keep focused for too long before something Twilight pops into my head. It got a little better for a while after I'd finished reading the series and taken a week or so "off" from them. But then I started re-reading them and I'm almost right back where I started.

The other main thing that I cannot seem to focus on is my horse. This one is really bothering me. I guess it's not so much my horse, but my discipline with my horse. When I first started riding I mostly just rode around the pasture, set up jumps or obstacle courses, rode "around the block" with friends, etc. Just pleasure riding, some trails, even swimming a couple times, just time on my horse. During the summer it was all day every day on my horse, running around with my best friend and her horse, being crazy kids and somehow surviving. Then I showed 4-H for 5 years. I only showed performance, but rode every seat at some point: stockseat, huntseat, bareback, even saddleseat at one show. We did both pleasure and equitation classes, though we always did better in equitation since I didn't know how to train my own horse and couldn't bring myself to ride in an arena with any sort of regularity. Racing down gravel roads and across fields with friends just didn't get you in the ribbons in a pleasure class.

After I was done with 4-H and had sold my "show horse" (hahahaha) I took some time off. My mom still had her old mare that I rode occasionally, but nothing more then a lap around the block. Eventually, we had to put her down and I went a whole 2-3 years without any horses at all. Then somehow I ended up buying a 3 year old pinto Arab. She was halter broke, that was about it. Now, looking back, I wonder what the hell I was thinking, though I don't regret it one bit. I had planned to show performance again, Arab and Pinto shows. I had never started a horse before though. I had no idea what I was doing, but knew where I wanted to get her. I did what I could with her until she bucked me off and put me flat on my back for 3 days thinking I had broken my hip. After that I wanted to work with someone, a trainer. I found one that I liked at a barn that wasn't too far away and off we went. We learned a lot there. The trainer had fun working with Fancy, my Arab, and I had fun playing musical horses and learning how to ride all of them. When I felt comfortable with her again, I brought her back home and went to work.

Some time around there I made friends with another really horsey person. She had a truck and trailer and was willing to haul my sorry butt all over the place. We trail rode a lot. My little arena princess green Arab got lots of trail miles. We went to the ocean, we went camping in the woods, we did prize rides. I swung a rope a little bit and I got to go penning a few times, which was a blast. Slowly but surely, the thought of showing in pleasure classes lost it's appeal. Why in the world would I want to do that? Spend all that money, deal with all the politics, etc. etc. just to lose and feel inferior because I couldn't afford the lessons, the big name trainer, the saddles with all the silver, the chaps that were perfectly matched to my stylish new shirt or the $400 romel reins.

Along the way I managed to get a good job and my own truck and trailer. Then my very horsey friend sold a horse to a local lady who rode on a drill team that was just starting up and she convinced us to come give it a try. She is also now my future mother-in-law, but that's a story for another time. We tried out the drill team and we were hooked. This will be my 5th year drilling. In the past few years, drill has been my main discipline with the horses. It's also gotten me my competitive fix.

During all of this I ended up meeting my boyfriend, finding Midori and selling Fancy. The boyfriend also rides, but until the last year or so, we really only did trail riding and some time in the arena together.

So, back to my A.D.D. I feel like I'm at a pivotal moment with my riding and I'm not really sure which direction I want to go. Part of me really likes that my horse is fairly well broke so I can do just about anything on her. I like that we're versatile. I like that we can go from a reining pattern to cutting a cow to the drill team to a trail ride and not embarrass ourselves. Too much anyways. I like that I can trust her to listen to me and, as long as I understand what is needed, we'll do alright. The other part of me would like to pick something to be really competitive in. As much as I try to be humble, I like winning. Seriously, who doesn't?! I would love to "specialize" in something, really focus and get good and go some where with it. I would love to actually make money with my horse! I kick myself when I think back to my 4-H days and think about how good I could have been if I'd just been able to focus and do a little arena work. I placed pretty darn good considering the time I put into my horse. I could have kicked some major booty if I'd actually been a little dedicated. I feel like I want to make up for that now and pick something that I can go far in, get into the big competitions and do well.

Part of my issue with "specializing" is that I don't know what I want to do. I love drill and it has treated me well the last few years, but there are so many variables that I have no control over it's hard for me to feel like I'm really getting my competitive fix out of it. I know I'm putting my time and energy into it, I'm riding my horse and making sure we are ready, but it is frustrating when other people don't. And there is always someone who doesn't. I'm just not really sure that drill is my calling right now, but I love it and don't really want to give it up yet either. The main problem is, it's time consuming and not something I can do half-assed since there are other people counting on me. While that can be good, it is also hard when I want to do something else "on the side". It's a lot to work around.

I have been doing a small reining series as a beginner and I would love to go further with reining. It is an amazing sport. I literally drool over the "real" reining horses. They are the most amazing athletes. The sliding stops, the spins, the loose rein and perfect collection, the fluid almost invisible lead changes. Wow. Just wow. So I've been asking around about trainers. There is apparently no one in this area. Well, that's not true. There is one person that is very close, but too busy for someone like me. And another guy a little further away who, after watching for a while, I would not let touch my horse or tell me what to do for a second. While I am almost desperate, I do still have some standards. The complete lack of trainers in the area is very discouraging. I need help if I'm going to do reining. I have some major holes that I need to go back and correct and I cannot do it on my own.

Over the summer I started on cutting. I had the oppurtunity to practice on buffalo once a week also. This was fun! I had a blast at the shows and have every intention of doing the whole series in '09. It is thrilling. Again, I literally drool over the pro horses. I think riding one of those horses might be better then sex. I feel like I have a few more oppurtunites in this area. I know of a couple decent trainers that aren't very far away and it's the kind of thing I feel like I could get something accomplished practicing on my own.

Then the boyfriend went to a sorting clinic and I went to watch for a few hours at the last sorting competition. That looks like tons o' fun too. I think we could do well at sorting as we are right now, I just need to understand it better. Atleast it would be fun to do, even if we're screwing up.

I also have an english saddle that calls my name every once in a while. I would love to learn to jump and do dressage also. I wouldn't mind throwing a rope a few more times. Or penning again. There is just so much that I want to do! I would love to just go do everything. But is it fair to my horse? Is variety the spice of life for horses to? Or would they prefer to have one discipline to learn and perform? Is it confusing for them (which, in turn, would be frustrating to me) to go from one thing to another? Or do they get bored as easily as I do? The other part of that is drill. Am I willing to quit drill to persue other events? Or if I don't quit, am I willing to sacrifice those other events because of my commitment to drill?

That is why I feel like I'm A.D.D. sometimes. I can't decide on what I want to stick with or if I want to do it all. Not that I'm complaining at all because I always feel very blessed just to have a horse and be able to do anything with her, let alone have the "problem" of trying to decide what to do.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Who is this person?!?

I'm really beginning to wonder who this strange person is who has taken over my body in regards to the Twilight Saga. This person seems to have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. She likes to completely ignore all responsibilities, house cleaning, hungry animals and boyfriends and bodily functions in favor of reading.

The fact that we ever got sucked into this series to begin with still mystifies me. It's a teenage vampire love story for crying out loud! But I believe they are some of the best books I've ever read.

Luckily we finished the series so we atleast know the whole story and can relax a little bit, but this strange person still has not vacated the premises. We decided to go see the movie. Yes, that's right...I saw a movie based on a book that I read. The weird part: I LOVED it! I do think it helped that I went into it with probably the lowest expectations you could possibly have for a movie and I knew it wouldn't live up to the book, because you just can't in 2 hours. I think they did an amazing job of condensing the book into a movie though. There are things in the book that you just can't put into a movie, no matter how big the budget or how cool the special effects are: there was too much emotion and being inside Bella's head in the book and you still have to cast human actors for the vampires. But I surprised myself by being ok with that. They did what they could and it was great having read the book so I knew the rest of the story. It was amazing seeing it come to life.

Then, on top of not only going to see the movie, but absolutely loving it, I've started reading the series again. This is the first time I've ever chosen to re-read a book. I think I'm loving the books more the second time around too! I'm not as anxious about the basics of the story line this time around so I can really soak in all the details that I skimmed over before. I thought knowing the end might ruin it, but it still gets intense and hard to put down. It's fabulous! I love it.

So maybe some day I'll be able to feel like myself and put the Twilight Saga on the shelf so it can look pretty sitting there collecting dust with the other books I've already read, but sadly, I don't think that day is going to come any time soon. At this point, I think I could re-read these books for atleast the next 3-5 years and not get bored of them. Maybe. I'm definately willing to test this hypothesis.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I survived!


Well, I survived Thanksgiving at my house. Wohoo! I officially have two turkey dinners under my belt now. And I have to say, I think I'm getting better. This year's turkey ROCKED! I got a 20 pounder, figuring we wanted lots of leftovers and boy do we have leftovers! It pretty much fed us the whole weekend and there is still plenty left. After dinner was over we still had half the bird that hadn't even been touched (see picture above). I love leftover turkey dinner!



It was a great day! The turkey was moist and delicious. I put my mom, grandma and sister to work on the potatoes, squash, pearl onions and gravy while I kicked back and watched. :-) We were sitting down to dinner at exactly 3:30, which is the time I was shooting for, but figuring it would be closer to 4 since I'm always late. Things couldn't have gone better! Well, except that I stuffed myself on appetizers so much that I couldn't even finish my first helping of dinner. And pie was out of the question. Other than that, everything was great!


Good grub, good company and good times! Can't ask for more than that!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving day gets closer it seems an appropriate time to reflect on everything that I'm thankful for. I know I'm lucky in so many ways for everything that I have in my life, but it's hard sometimes to not just take it all for granted. It is nice sometimes to just sit and think about how lucky I am to have the life that I have.

I am thankful to have a roof over my head. I'm especially thankful that that roof happens to be a really great house that I absolutely love. And that it includes over 4 acres that allows us to keep our horses with us and will someday contain a barn, an arena and pasture. Someday.

I am thankful that I have a truck that I love so that my long commute is that much less annoying. It's a good truck and it's never given me problems (knocking on wood now). Love the Cummins! Lately, I've also been really thankful for the butt warmers it has! They are the best thing ever on a chilly morning!

I'm thankful for our horses. They keep me sane and provide some of the best company and entertainment a girl could ask for.

I'm thankful for Cheyanne, the cutest puppy dog ever. Even though she's a total spaz sometimes and likes to eat horse poo and then try to lick your face.

I am thankful for a job that I enjoy and makes all of the above possible.

I am thankful for an amazing group of family and friends that are supportive, encouraging, can put up with me and are just darn good people.

I am very thankful for the boyfriend who loves me no matter what. Who shares my dreams and interests. Who challenges me and keeps life interesting. Who lets me have my space and still be myself, but is always there for me. Who puts up with my random obsessions and does his best to pick up the slack around the house when I can't keep my nose out of a book long enough to do the dishes. Or fix dinner. Or pee. Though he can't really help me with that last one.

I am thankful for all of the doors that have opened for me and allowed me to get where I am today.

I am thankful for egg nog lattes. And flannel sheets. And down comforters. And the boyfriend's bbq'd flat iron steak. And the Twilight Saga. And Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. And diesel prices coming down to less then $2.50/gal! And a good margarita. And hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. And Mexican food. And Stovetop Stuffing. And AE jeans. And fleece yoga pants. And the macro setting on my camera.

I'm sure I could go on all day, but I think I'll stop there. What are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I love macro!


I love the macro setting on my camera! I can (and do) spend HOURS playing with it. Today, I was on a mad cleaning spree, trying to get my house in something resembling order for Thanksgiving when I noticed that my Christmas Cactus was blooming.



Yay! Break time! Cuz I was working SO hard that I deserved a break. ;o)




Then I noticed that one of my African Violets was blooming also. I really didn't need to mop and wash windows, right?





Now, I know that my camera isn't anything special at all and anyone that knows even a little about pictures I'm sure wouldn't be impressed with these at all. But I don't know jack and I really like them.


My camera is just a little Nikon Coolpix S1. It fits in my backpocket. I think these pictures are impressive for the camera. Even if they aren't, I have fun taking them.

Since it's an auto focus, I end up taking a TON of pictures, trying to get it to focus on just the right spot. Some day I'll get a super cool camera that I can really play with, but for now, I'm having fun with this one.


These are some older macro shots that I've taken in the past few months.


Above is a Hydrangea that I got as a house warming gift. Below is an orchid that my mom has. I think it looks like an alien or something with a big head dress.


My mom's Christmas Cactus that was blooming a few weeks ago.


This was a carnation that my mom had. I had fun that day! She has all sorts of flowers and things to take pictures of! My whole family laughed at me as I crawled around and took probably well over a hundred pictures.

Who needs conversation when you've got a camera, the macro setting and lots and lots of flowers?

Friday, November 21, 2008

It was a good night!

I had one of those really fabulous rides last night. The kind that leaves you smiling, completely relaxed and itching to do it all over again. Midori and I were just totally in sync and it was soooo great! I definately needed that after our last battle royale. It seemed like everything I've been trying to do with her sunk in in the last week and she "got it". I didn't work her real hard, but she was really good for what I did ask her to do. My goal last night was to listen to her, not get frustrated, but be productive also. I wanted to have a good ride with her no matter what. We definately accomplished that!

I wasn't really sure what our ride would be like going into it. The weather was horrible, it had been raining off and on all day and the wind was really picking up. Midori had also been hanging out in her paddock for a few days so I figured she'd probably be a little frisky. While I was getting her muddy legs sprayed off she stood perfectly still for me and was really good getting tacked up to. Most of the time, when she's that calm/good, it means she's either going to A: explode the second my foot goes in the stirrup (she has bucked me off as I was getting on before) , B: be so lazy that I'll have to push and push for anything or C: she is sore/hurting some where and it's going to be a miserable ride. I was very pleasantly surprised that none of those applied. She was an angel the whole night. I made sure to walk, trot and bend both directions starting out to make sure she felt fine. She had no problem with it and was so light and responsive with everything. I moved on to work on stopping, backing and rollbacks. The first time I sat down she planted her butt and immediately backed. YES!!! She got it! She was really using her butt and understood what I had been asking! Her roll backs were fabulous! She was really rocking back and springing out of them. I couldn't believe it!

My only complaint of the evening was that the arena was busy, which usually irritates me, but I didn't care much last night. I was too thrilled with my horse! A group of people from my drill team decided to ride together last night, so there was 5 horses in the arena, besides myself and the boyfriend. I did get a little annoyed a few times because a couple of those people seemed completely oblivious to everyone else in the arena and they have an odd style of riding which is pretty unpredictable as far as trying to work around them. I had to dodge them quite a few times as they wandered right in the path of my circle on my 3rd or 4th lap or decided to back straight in my way for no apparent reason, but that's life I guess.

All in all it was a great night. It has been a pretty good week to. I'm finally finishing up the Twilight series. I've been lingering on the last book, not wanting it to be over so soon. I will probably finish it up this weekend. I think I also found the theme/decorations for my kitchen that will make it complete for me. I'm really excited about that! Hopefully I'll get that done this weekend also, just in time for Thanksgiving. I officially gave up the bathroom goal too which, though sad, was a big relief to have that pressure taken off. I've got a big to do list for the weekend, but I think I should be able to relax and enjoy myself a bit to.

Happy Friday!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The kitchen - B&A

Well, one out of a million ain't bad! ha!


I feel like I really have about a million projects that I need to do around the house and property. I've decided that my flower bed area by the garage isn't finished after all. And I didn't get very far on the other flower bed area by the gate. I did, however, finish my kitchen. I think. I'm still not 100% satisfied with it, but in order to get there I need to spend money on decorative things, new hardware and new lighting fixtures that I just don't want to spend on right now. So, for all intensive purposes, I'm going to consider the kitchen "finished".


My goal was to paint/finish the kitchen and my master bath before I host Turkey day for my family. I thought it was a very reasonable goal since, at the time I decided on it, I had over a month to do it. I was not anticipating my current addiction that has sucked the last week and a half from my life. Not that I mind too much, I have totally enjoyed the ride. But I'm a little disappointed in myself that it's not looking so promising to actually reach my goal. I don't like not accomplishing goals. Especially when they are so reasonable! I know I still have a week and a half which should be plenty of time to paint a bathroom, but there are several reasons that I don't see this happening. 1. I still haven't finished the whole series. I have about 400 pages left in the last book, which comes out to probably the next two evenings being mostly committed to reading. 2. The bathroom requires a lot of prep work. I'll post the before pictures when I've got it finished, but this bathroom was, umm...cluttered. To say the least. 3. I still haven't even picked what color I want to paint in there! I'm having a really hard time with that because the counter is burgundy. The bathroom used to be Pepto Bismol pink. No joke. They changed it to a decent off-white/beige color, that I actually kind of like, but it is a little dark and dingy and after everything was taken off the walls, I just need to paint. There is no two ways about it. I'm also having a hard time with choosing a color because we want to change basically everything in there. Soon. The counter, sinks, mirrors, hardware, fixtures, flooring...everything. It's all got to go! But it can't right now. 4. I'm kinda sick of painting. There is just as much edging and crap to work around in this bathroom as there was in the kitchen and I just don't wanna!


So that's my story of the bathroom thus far. Now, back to the kitchen. The kitchen is nice. A little quirky, but totally do-able. The appliances were all fairly new and matched. Wohoo! I wasn't exactly thrilled with the brown and mauve color scheme, but it wasn't awful. The floor definately needs to go, but that's a big, expensive project for another day. The cabinets are real wood, but had these weird top cabinets that served absolutely no purpose since they were wedged into the ceiling and didn't really open and close. I planned to paint, had picked out my colors and was thinking about my plan of attack for prepping one day. I was wondering about the top cabinets because they were wedged against the ceiling and thinking about just taking them off to paint, since that would probably be easiest. Then it occured to me. I could take them off and...LEAVE them off. *gasp* As soon as the thought occured to me, I knew it was fabulous. I hadn't ever really had an issue with them, but they were kinda weird and didn't serve any purpose whatsoever. Plus, that would give me some room to decorate above the cabinets. Granted it is only about 10 inches, but it's enough room to give the kitchen some character. That night a girlfriend came over for our weekly date night and helped me tear my kitchen apart. We could not believe the difference just taking those top cabinets off made! It was huge! Even with the mauve paint still there, it totally opened the kitchen up, made it so much lighter and brighter! We were all grins looking at our handy work!


In the picture to the left you can see the color the kitchen was. They didn't paint behind the top cabinets. There is also the little phone shelf, which was kinda handy, but once it was down for painting, I couldn't bring myself to put it back up. You can also see the yellow stand mixer that inspired the color.

Over the weekend I got it painted with the help of my mom for most of it and then the boyfriend on the second day. It was a lot of work, but we got it finished. It took me a couple more days to get all of the touching up done and pull the edging tape off and then a few more days after that to properly clean and scrub everything and get it all put back together. And then, as is the nature of a kitchen, it got dirty and it's taken me a while to get it really cleaned up nice again so I could get the "after" pics.
We painted it "Candlelight Ivory". It's basically white, but with a touch of yellow. I have a KitchenAid Stand mixer that is a beautiful light yellow color, so that was the inspiration for that. Pretty much everything I have for my kitchen is yellow or blue. I also wanted something that was clean and bright looking and would maybe reflect a bit nicer tone in the cabinets. They looked kind of yellow and weird with the mauve. I think I accomplished those missions. I like it! Though now it seems a little blah to me. I would like to find a cutesy theme for it, something to brighten it up and have some points of interest, instead of just the white walls. I am having trouble finding things that go with yellow and blue, and brown, and black, and allows me to keep the wire rooster that I love and is currently the only thing on the wall though. It's a lot to coordinate! But I'm still considering it finished, since all the "hard labor" is done. Now it's just details left.

So one down...a million or so to go! :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In a hurry...

I know I've heard/read it before, somewhere, that any time you're in a hurry, hoping to just get a quick, productive ride in, that is when the epic battles occur. Last night was one of those nights and one of *those* rides. Grrr!
Everything was wrong right from the beginning. I was distracted. I had other things on my mind. Like the crack that is the Twilight Saga and the second book waiting for me in my truck. I had meetings to avoid and try not to feel guilty about. I also had people to avoid so they didn't add to that guilt.

I went straight to the arena after work to meet the boyfriend, who had hauled the horses there for us to ride. He hadn't brought my riding boots, which have my spurs on them. He thought I had grabbed them before I left for work. Doh! Luckily I had my pull on cowboy boots on so I could still ride, but I really don't like riding in pull on cowboy boots. They rub and have chunky soles that throw my balance off in my stirrups that are the perfect length for my packer boots with not chunky soles. I know, I know...whine, whine, whine. But it a really does make a difference! Plus, I try to keep my cowboy boots clean and not smelly so I can wear them to work. I hate sitting at my desk and smelling dirty boots and I try to be considerate of my co-workers, who are very city.

So I get on, not expecting much out of the ride. We have been working on responsiveness to my seat, which would be fine, but responsiveness period is a little hard when you don't have spurs to help you demand. Plus, as I mentioned before, I was just plain distracted. I wanted to get a good ride in quickly and get home so I could settle in and finally get my fix. It had been almost 3 DAYS since I finished Twilight.

I took it easy to begin with, just did a lot of long trotting on a loose rein, working on moving off my legs and rating to my body. That all went fine. We even got some stopping and backing work in, on a loose rein, and did alright. It was when I finally picked up the reins and asked for some give that we started having issues. She was just hanging on the bit, not being responsive at all. So we tried to work on some bending and suppling stuff. She was not getting any lighter. She seemed stiff and unresponsive. Since I was in a hurry I was only concerned with fixing it, "winning" and going home. So the fight began.

The more I tried to get her to give, the more she resisted. And the more she got jacked up. Fast forward a bit to our loping and she doesn't even respond when I ask her to stop. She doesn't respond when I tell her to stop. I demand it, she runs thru it. I keep demanding, eventually pulling her in a very tight circle, which she eventually accepts and comes down to a walk and eventually stops. Hmmm. We go back to stopping at the walk and trot. She does ok. She is atleast stopping, eventually. I try loping again. This time she just flat out runs. So I decide, ok Missy...you want to run, we'll run! And we ran. And ran. And ran and ran and ran and ran. In hindsight, I realize that was not a brilliant decision on my part. My knees and hips were already groaning at me from the new and decidedly uncomfortable position they were in with the chunky boots. They tend to be very sensitive and definately let me know if they are not happy. When I picked the battle of the run with Midori, they certainly made their feelings on the matter known. I spent part of the run standing half-point, or two-point, whatever it is, part of the run holding on to the horn flopping around like a fish trying to take any and all pressure off of my legs and the rest of it, kicking Midori because if she wanted to run, then dammit we were going to run! A couple times when she felt like she was slowing and might be responsive I thought about stopping and would kind of half sit. She completely ignored me, preferring to keep running, so we kept running. And running and running. Finally, after way too many laps, I knew she was tired and would be responsive so I sat down and she stopped on a dime. She was panting and dripping sweat and shaking. My legs were screaming profanities at me like I hadn't felt in a looooong time. We cooled off for a while, walking slowly around the arena on a loose rein with Midori's head very low and my feet out of the stirrups.

When I finally felt like my legs could handle a little more I got my feet back in the stirrups and picked up the reins. Midori hung on them. I could not get her off of them for nothing. Thus the third battle of the evening. I just wanted a little give. That was all I was asking for. The second she would have done that, I would have dropped the reins and gotten off for the night! It was already past the time that I had wanted to be loaded up and gone. I wasn't going to win this one. Finally, I got the slightest response out of her and I was done. That was all I had. I knew I was getting really frustrated and it was coming out in my riding. That's just not fair and doesn't accomplish anything. I was sitting there, going over our disastrous ride in my head and noticed that Midori's head was still bent around to the right and she was yawning. Had been for quite a while. I watched her for a minute and she kept yawning and moving her head oddly. I wondered if she might be collicking or something because she may have been looking around at her belly, but it didn't seem like that was what it was. There was definately something bothering her though.

Then it all came crashing down on me. She wasn't being a jerk the whole time, she was trying to tell me that she hurt. I felt like the biggest jackass ever. Looking back over our ride, the signs where there the whole time. She never felt off at all, still wasn't, but she sure was sore. Something was hurting her. She had problems rolling back, she was tripping over herself, not springing out of it like she usually does. She was hanging on the bit the whole night. She was having a hard time bending. And the running thing, like she used to when I first got her, resisting the bit. I should have seen that she was just trying to tell me she was hurting, not misbehaving. She doesn't misbehave like that. And all the battles I picked with her, they just made the problem worse. I totally suck sometimes. I had just been too preoccupied to notice.

She did get new shoes the night before, I wonder if that had anything to do with it or if the issue existed before that. I wouldn't ever blame the shoer, he's great, but sometimes it's the little things that tweak your alignment and wreak havoc on your body. Like chunky soled boots instead of...not chunky soled boots when you're riding. She had seemed ouchy and slightly unwilling to pick up her front right foot. I guess I need to scrounge up some dough to have the chiropractor out for her. She's never needed any major adjustments, but I have never felt like the appointment was wasted either. Anything that makes her more comfortable and can set my mind at ease that she is physically able to perform the way I'm asking her to is worth it.

Moral of this story: if I can't ride patiently and concentrate on my horse and what I'm doing, then I really shouldn't be there!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reading

Have you ever read a book that is so good that it practically consumes you? Even after you finish it? A book that is so, so good that you seriously consider calling in sick to work so that you can just read until you finish the whole entire series? A book that is so enthralling that you don't even notice you haven't eaten all day? Or peed all day? A book that you can read while sitting 10 feet away from a blaring tv, next to your significant other who keeps talking to you and still not miss a beat? A book that you think about all day, while you should be doing things like actually earning your paycheck instead of scouring the internet for anything that will get you a little fix, because you haven't read any of it in almost 24 hours?

I have loved books before, had trouble putting them down, stayed up til midnight (or later) reading until I was finished or spent a whole entire weekend in bed/on the couch/floor, etc. reading. Most of that was when I was still in school and didn't have a million other pressing things that needed to be done. Not in my recent adult life has it happened. The closest I've come was The DaVinci Code, closely followed by Angels and Demons (both by Dan Brown). Those books were really, really good. But I don't remember needing them. I sure as heck finished them up as quickly as I could, but things like eating, sleeping, peeing and working didn't get put on hold for them. I don't remember being consumed by them all day when I couldn't read them. I don't remember dreaming about them. Still haven't watched the movie though. I have no desire to watch the movie. I generally like reading the book better. Any movie that I have seen after reading the book always, ALWAYS disappoints. They leave things out, the characters are never as I'd pictured them and generally, what I come up with in my imagination while I read the book, is way better.

This book is different. I'm still not entirely sure how I got started on this series. I know I'd heard a couple of friends mention it, but I didn't really think a whole lot of it. Until I happened across it one day at the grocery store on it's own special rack, marked 40% off. Love the 40% off signs! I figured, why the heck not?!? I had just bought two other books to read in another series that I was enjoying, but figured how often am I going to find it 40% off? I'm not usually the kind of person to pile books up that I want to read. I've usually only got maybe 1 book waiting for me. Everything about the way I got into this mess is so completely out of character for me! I'm not the worlds fastest or most dedicated reader. Unless a book is really, really good, I have no problem leaving it half finished on my nightstand for a couple weeks or a month if I get busy. But I do always finish one book before I start on another. I've never been the type of person to have more then one book going at a time. And I've also never read a book more then once. Unless it was for school, or one of the bedtime stories that I read with my mom as a kid, but those are different.

Anyways, I bought the book, 40% off, took it home and dove into it that night (Sunday). It started off a little slow, didn't really suck me in for about the first half of it, but I did really enjoy the writing style. I left it alone for a few days, while I was busy. Tuesday I ran into one of the people I had heard mention it. I knew she was rather obsessed with it, but I still wasn't under it's spell so I mostly blew it off when she warned me. And boy did she warn me. She told me (repeatedly) that it's CRACK! It's unbelievable addicting, don't do it! She said it's deceiving. It starts out slow and then all of a sudden you're hooked, like crack! I figured, eh, it's just a book. I can quit any time.

I left it alone for a couple more days, finally picking it back up on Thursday. Suddenly, it was late. Really late. And I had to pee. And I had to absolutely tear myself away from the book. It was pure torture. My mind was still going a mile a minute thinking about it, it took me quite a while to fall asleep. The next morning I confessed to my friend. It was crack. I now understood. But alas, it was too late for me. I was already hooked. I thought about it most of Friday at work, wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. Little did I know, that was only the beginning. Friday night I told the boyfriend that if we were really going to ride after work, then he could not let me near the book when I got home! I was allowed inside to change and then I was to load up! I had a great ride (see previous post), but I was anxious to get home so I could read more the whole time. As soon as we got home I was inside, changing into jammies and parking myself on the bed to read. I was able to put it down to get some sleep, but it was tough.

Saturday morning I some how managed to leave it alone long enough to go to the show, but you can bet I was thinking about it the whole entire time I was there! When we finally got home after the show, I was inside on the couch in comfy clothes before the boyfriend had even finished putting his horse away. That's where I stayed the rest of the day until I had finished it.

Now, you might think that finishing the book would release me from it's grip. Not so much! You see, there isn't just one book. There is four. And I've heard rumor of a 5th one, covering the same time period as the first book, but from a different perspective. Oh lord, help me. Can I just crawl in a hole for the next week or so, until I can finish all of them? Please? I really am not going to be any good to any one until I do finish them all, maybe not even for a while after that. Guess it depends on how they really finish up.

So this book, this evil, addicting book, is Twilight. The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyers. There is a movie coming out next week, but you know me and movies based on books. I'm not so interested in seeing it when it comes out, unless I can finish all of the books before then. For some reason, I have a feeling that I might like this movie. But I'll probably atleast wait until it comes out on dvd. Maybe.

I have only read the first book so far, so I can only speak from the experience of the one. I have been told that the addiction only gets worse though. Again, this book is so out of character for me. It's based on kids in high school. In involves vampires. It is set in Forks, Washington, which isn't all that far away from me. Now that I am an adult (lol, I still can't hardly say that without laughing hysterically) I just don't see the appeal of a story about high school kids. I am not particularly fond of my high school days and regret that I was ever a teenager sometimes (man I was just dumb sometimes!) I've never been a very big fan of vampires or any stories about them. Generally, stories that are set in areas that I know, even vaguely, are wildy inaccurate and just bug the crap out of me. I would rather read about some fictitious location or one that I know nothing about so I couldn't tell you if it were accurate or not.

Most of the main characters in this book hardly seem like high school kids to me. Other then them being in classes, they act like they could be my age! They are intriguing and mature. The vampires are your typical blood-sucking "monsters", but different. They have more depth to them and they are (mostly) protrayed in a very non-monster-y light. I love it. As for the setting...apparently Forks, WA's newest tourist attraction is Twilight tours of actual places mentioned in the books! Plus, everything she describes in the books just sounds so northwest. Especially recently, with all the clouds and rain that we've had. It's just easy to imagine the whole thing happening here.

And then there is the writing style. Oh, the writing style! I do love the way Stephenie Meyers writes. She writes with so much detail and feeling. It is written from Isabella's point of view and I swear, you can just jump right into her shoes and totally engross yourself in the story. You can just feel the emotion in everything. The warmth from some characters, the sting of a snotty high school attitude, the pain and confusion. (Yes, I'm being vague on purpose) I also love the way she developes characters and hints at things to come and keeps other things a mystery.

So, in conclusion, if you haven't read this book yet, DO IT! But don't say I didn't warn you. It'll hook you, just when you think you're safe. If you have already read it, then you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. I was warned, it is crack, and I dove in anyways.

Success!

Well, improvement anyways. I got a score on Saturday, wohoo! And all my hard work while riding last week really paid off! I think improving is a good measure of success. Winning is always nice to, but for me right now, at the (very low) level that I'm at, improving is the name of the game. We definately improved! Besides me actually remembering the pattern, and thus earning a real score and placing, we really improved over our last ride! I was very, very pleased!

I decided my goals for this show were to improve our stop and back. Our circles, rating and lead changes were satisfactory for now, but our stop and back at the last show were just bad. Last week we did the flag clinic that got Midori rocking back over her hocks and using her butt a bit more when she stopped. I needed to translate that to rail work and doing that from just my seat, without the encouragement of the flag. My big goal now is to get her stopping and backing from just my seat and a little bit of leg. She used to have the stop, but for some reason, I'm more of a legs for gas and reins for steering and brakes rider whenI'm drilling. It drives me nuts. I work so hard on using my seat and legs and then when I'm focused on drill over the summer, it all goes to hell. I'm still not sure why I can't cross that bridge, to riding with my body and subtle cues, while I'm drilling. Also, Midori's reverse has always been a bit sticky, sometimes flat out refusing to back, always with her head in the air and always using my hands as the cue and legs for encouragement. No more! I'm changing my ways! When I sit on my pockets, my horse will plant her butt, stop and back until I sit up. I think that's the way it works anyways. I may need to double check Mug's blog and the multiple reining books that I have at home.

Friday when I rode that was pretty much all that I focused on, responding to my seat. I did go thru and do the whole rest of my usual riding routine, but my main focus for the entire ride was stopping from my seat and beginning to back up with some encouragement from my legs. We did a lot of stops, lots of backing, lots of roll backs. It was actually a really fun and productive ride. Midori is very smart and by the end of the ride she was backing, almost enthusiastically, from my seat and some leg. Her head was still in the air, but I think that will come when she really realizes I'm not going to be on her face the whole time I'm asking her to back.

Saturday when we got to the show, I could tell the difference when we warmed up. She was listening to every move I made, almost reading my mind at some points. She was so responsive and would just plant her butt as soon as I sat down. YES! Our run was good. Not fabulous, but way better then last time. I did get a little nervous again, which got Midori amped up so I had a bit of trouble getting her to rate for the first slow circle, but our lead changes were decent, we actually hit center on the circles, and our run down, stop and back were soooo much better! Unfortunately, I was so intent on getting the stop and back done right that I ended up running down the wall, instead of staying off of it. That cost me. Oh well, I really didn't care! We improved so much over our last run, that was all that mattered to me! Ok, almost all that mattered to me. I should admit that I was a teeny tiny bit disappointed that we didn't place higher, but it was still a good run! We ended up getting 4th out of 8. There was a lot more competition there this time.

It was a good show and a good weekend.

Goals for the next show:
1. Continue to work on stopping and backing
2. Find some way to relax before I go in!
3. Get to work on moving her hips! Her hips seem to be her stickiest body part for me to move right now. Probably why I can't ever get her to do a flying lead change. Or atleast that'll be my excuse for now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Finally, some therapy!

As I've mentioned before, riding horses is amazing therapy. For me. Most of the time. Every once in a while, you just have a darn frustrating ride, I guess you can't win 'em all! Most of the time though, it is very therapeutic. Last night was one of those incredibly therapeutic nights. I have been more than a little crabby and stressed this week. Our last drill practice was cancelled because there was a long show at the arena, so it had been a week and a half since I last rode my horse. I think it was going on three weeks since I rode my horse on my own, not at drill practice. How sad is that?!?

The weather here has been absolutely miserable lately. Gray, windy, cold and rainy. Very, very rainy. Besides the weather absolutely sucking any motivation to ride my horse out of me, and the depressingly short days, I've been really busy with other things. Trying to take advantage of the last bit of nice weather to get some yard work done and I have been working on getting my kitchen painted. The kitchen is taking way more time then I thought it would. I spent most of last week picking colors and prepping it for the painting, then I spent most of the weekend painting it. Monday I touched it up and pulled all the tape off. I still want to give the counters and floor a good scrubbing before I move everything back into it. Because of that, the whole rest of my house looks like the kitchen barfed all over it. Or has just plain been neglected because I've been so consumed by the kitchen. I have also decided that I'm really not such a big fan of painting. It kinda, sorta, really sucks. I love the end result, but there are so many things that I would rather be doing then actually painting.

I know, I know...excuses. They are like...ummm...noses, everybody has one. We have another show in the winter reining series coming up this weekend though so getting on my horse this week is just not optional! Last night there was a flag clinic at the arena. I love flag clinics! They are fun, a good workout and a fabulous tool in reminding my horse to use her damn butt again! After our stop at the last show, this clinic couldn't have come at a better time! The boyfriend definately needed the saddle time to. He's been so busy hunting that poor Sugar has just been hanging out getting fat for a month now! She has always been very athletic looking and a little harder to keep weight on then the other two, but she has actually put some weight on and looked like I think a horse sitting in the pasture should going into winter. Of course, as soon as she started working last night, she sucked that gut right in and looked her ideal working weight again. Not sure how she managed that.

Both of the girls were a little snorty and spicy when we first got there, but it didn't take them long to warm up out of it. By the time the clinic got going, they were both working really well. Midori and I totally hit our groove, which is always fun! I could tell I hadn't ridden in a while though. I felt like I kept dropping my shoulder or leaning to the inside and I kept catching myself looking down more then up. Since I felt like I was doing that, I couldn't hardly blame Midori when she dropped her shoulder or stumbled thru something. I really had to think hard about keeping myself straight and balanced. It's amazing what just a week and a half off from riding will do to your body! I felt like Gumby up there for the first couple laps, trying to figure out where my legs and arms and body were. Probably didn't help that Midori was a bit of a wiggle worm during that to, but again, I blame myself. It's a lot more productive then blaming the horse! That's usually when you get one of those darn frustrating rides!

Anyways, when it came time to work the flag, which Midori had been watching intently during the other riders turns, she decided to ignore the stupid thing and run right past it. We had a quick little conversation that went something along the lines of "Um, HELLO! That flag thing over there? Ya, you're supposed to stop and turn with it! Remember?!? It hasn't been that long since you did this on buffalo!" Luckily, she's a good listener and it only took two little conversations for her to catch on. But then she started anticipating the turn, instead of waiting for the flag ("cow") to turn her. It was fun and good experience to work her thru those issues though. We worked on shaping and getting her to really use her butt to stop, which is never all that hard with her. She just needs a little reminder sometimes and it's always easier when more then just my butt and maybe the rail are involved. Overall I was very pleased with how she worked and how quickly we were able to correct our little issues. The trainer said he really liked the basics we have, that we did really good. I didn't listen in to see if he told everyone that, but I like to think we were a little impressive for how little we really do with cutting. The first time I ever worked the flag with Midori, the trainer that did that clinic said she was amazed that that was our first time ever and that Midori has the kind of natural talent she looks for when she's picking young cutting horses. Again, I like to think she wasn't just blowing smoke, but I try not to let it go to my head.

So after a good almost two hours on my horse I had all but forgotten all of my worries and crabiness and stress. None of it even crossed my mind the rest of the night. Not even when I got home and had to wander thru the maze of kitchen crap in the living room or shove the mountain of laundry waiting to be folded aside so I could snag a spot on the couch to sit down for a minute. I was totally, completely relaxed and I'm sure if it hadn't been past my bedtime already I would have been chipper. I sure woke up in a pretty good mood this morning. I love it that riding horses does that for me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So many projects...

...so little time! It always seems that there just aren't enough hours in the day for everything that I'd like to do. That's become incredibly apparent lately with these gorgeous, sunny, crisp fall days just calling my name, but only having an hour or two after work to enjoy them before it gets dark. It's torture I tell you! It's just not possible to squeeze chores, yard maintenance, yard/property projects and riding ponies into the small window of time that I have outside while it's light out. Something has to give, and lately it's been my pony time.


Generally speaking, giving up pony time is not a good thing. Riding horses is my therapy! Both mental and physical. It keeps me sane, relieves stress and makes up for the 8+ hours a day I spend sitting in a chair slouched over. My back can always tell when I don't ride. It starts screaming at me sooner or later if I'm slacking. It needs the exercise and balance of sitting up straight and working the horses to make up for my awful posture at work and the hour and a half minimum that I spend in my truck every working day. Luckily being on a drill team with weekly practices gets me on my horse for a good, solid two hours one night a week. No matter how much I whine and complain when it's time to leave for practice, I always feel 100% better when it's done. There is just no therapy quite like riding a horse.

The last couple of weeks I've been having tons of fun working on yard and house projects, so I've hardly had time to miss riding. Atleast not too much. I've been suddenly inspired to tackle a few projects outside before the weather turns for the year and it's been a lot of fun. We have 4.3 acres, most of which was wooded when we bought the house. There are some very odd flower beds around the house, garage and gate. The one by the garage had a lovely (at one time I'm sure) huge rose bush that was very, very dead and had the most evil thorns every where on it. That little flower bed area also had a huge, mostly dead shrubby thing. I believe my friend told me it was Juniper? Not sure, I don't know plant names. It was also prickly and evil. I decided to tackle that project one sunny weekend day while the boyfriend was off hunting for Bambi.


Unfortunately, I didn't take "before" pictures of it with the dead stuff still there, but here is what it looked like after I yanked all the crappy old dead stuff out (ok, more like waged a war against their prickly evil-ness), except the big root for the shrubby thing (don't you just love all the technical terms?) that I could not get out of the ground to save my life! The previous owners also put plastic or fabric EVERYWHERE! It has been a huge PITA (pain in the a$$) and doesn't seem to do much of anything in the way of actually keeping weeds down. The little fence was the border with the mostly dead shrub thing growing thru it and just looking gross.

I had planned to do paver blocks every where around the house. Bordering all the flower bed areas and making for a very nice look. I knew that would be some time in the future, like maybe after we win the lottery or something, since paver blocks and a nice yard just aren't at the top of the list of projects to pay for. I kept dreaming about it though, trying to picture what it will look like someday. Then one sunny Sunday I woke up and thought, rocks! I'll use rocks! Duh! We are VERY successful rock farmers since we cleared the property and I need to pick them out of the turn out area and arena anyways. Best of all they are FREE so why not kill like 5 birds with one stone?!


I like the overall look of the rock border, but I do realize that this was my first attempt and it does need some help. I have also decided that I need to fill it with some more dirt, bring it up level with the concrete, and raise the edge of the border a little bit more. I planted a couple tulip bulbs in there, but that's about it for a while. As I've mentioned, flower beds aren't at the top of the projects to pay for list. Any money we spend on things like flowers and plants, is that much less money that we have to spend on things like arena footing, stalls or our tack room. Those are definately priorities for me.

Eventually, I'd like to have some sort of tree or taller, not evil shrub against the building that will take up some of that empty wall space. Then I would like to find some sort of ground cover that is colorful and fun, but also low maintenance. I like things that bloom and I love having lots of color around the house, but I don't like yard work or things that are high maintenance. It takes away from my pony time. The name of the game for me when it comes to gardening and yard work is low maintenance!

So that was the first project that I have tackled and finished. It is very minor considering all that I have to do still, but it's a start! This is my next project. It's a strange little "flower bed" area, minus the flowers I guess, that seems to be centered around the lamp post and over all sorts of interesting, random things that I assume is wiring and stuff for the gate and lights at the entrance or may have been part of the gate at some point. I've already made a lot of progress on it, but I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to finish it before I run out of nice weather. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I love fall!

I really love fall! I think it is my favorite season. The weather isn't always ideal, but it is just so gosh darn pretty! How can you not love fall?! I do love summer to, definately prefer summer weather. I'm very much a warm weather kinda gal, but the summers just seem to evaporate. I'm always so busy with horse shows and various other activities that seem to only happen during the summer that before I know it, it's all over and I didn't really get to enjoy it much at all. Because of that, fall is my favorite season. It is beautiful and I actually get time to enjoy it! I can relax a bit and take the time to observe and appreciate all of the pretty colors and the cool, crisp weather and the wonderful sunny days, crunching thru the fallen leaves on my horse. I could do without the frosty mornings and the 6 pm (or earlier) sunsets, but other then that, it's glorious.

I also love Halloween and pumpkins and Thanksgiving and hot (usually hard) apple cider and all the other fun things that come with fall. I still love carving pumpkins and it's just not fall for me without that tradition. I wasn't terribly impressed with my carving abilities this year though. My winking pumpkin ended up looking quite a bit retarded and lop-sided. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

I'm a huge fan of just about anything pumpkin flavored. Sadly, I moved away from my very favorite espresso stand that served up different pumpkin flavored latte's in the fall. They used real pumpkin SAUCE, not pumpkin flavored syrups, and let me tell you, you just don't get any closer to heaven in a cup! I made the Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Cake, though I left out the whiskey, and it is officially one of my new favorite fall recipes! I'm sure it would be really tasty with the whiskey to, and I'll probably try that soon, but the venue it was going to didn't really scream whiskey whipped cream to me.

This year in particular I'm really enjoying fall in my new house. I have been really interested to see what our property looks like in the fall and I have to find joy where ever I can in my loooong commute to and from work. The fall colors certainly have not disappointed me. They are rather spectacular on my 30 mile commute. Most of the trees around our house are evergreens, so nothing terribly interesting, but there is still enough color around the property to get me out there with my camera. I am also trying to squeeze as much yard work and garden reconfiguring in as I can before the weather turns and I'm stuck inside. I've been trying to pick small projects that I can finish up easily and quickly (and for free!) that actually make an impact. I've been doing pretty good so far, but I'll talk more about that in another post. I think.

Also, I've offered to host Thanksgiving dinner for my family again this year. I'm really excited to have everyone out to my new-ish house (how long is it really new? We've lived there for 6 months now, does it still qualify???). With the expectation of hosting turkey day though comes sooo many indoor projects that I want to finish before I have everyone over. We plan to paint the whole entire interior of the house sooner or later and because of that (mostly), I have not really decorated much at all yet. We have nothing hanging on the walls. The living room is bare and boring. The kitchen is an awful mauve color that just doesn't really go with the cupboards or floor. Or any of my kitchen stuff. I swear the people that built the house must have had a million and three things hanging on the walls. I think I have pulled out no less then 50 nails/screws. FROM EACH ROOM! Good lord, don't people realize that sometimes less is more?! So it is a huge project to get the walls ready to paint. I have prioritized my list of projects to get done before the fam comes out though. Painting my kitchen and my master bathroom needs to be done. Everything else isn't horrible, just not my choice of colors, but the kitchen and my bathroom just can't wait. I have 4 1/2 weeks to do that. I think it's reasonable. I did paint the main bathroom just after we moved in and it turned out really nice! I was very pleased with it.

While I'm anxious to get going on my painting and indoor projects, I really can't bring myself to go inside just yet. I want to soak up every last minute of sun and blue skies that I can before winter. Sometimes that means just running around with my camera, that I have been unusually inspired by lately (bordering on obsessive with the photo taking actually), and taking pictures of all the pretty fall colors. I'm sure I'll appreciate them when I'm stuck inside getting stir crazy in February.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finally!


Well, I finally got some time (translation: I grew some kajones) tonight and got my butt on Mister. He was a whole lot less concerned about the whole thing then I was.


I decided that since it's been almost 8 months since he was last ridden that I would treat him as I would any other greenie and take everything slow and easy and just, basically, start over with him. I know he's had plenty of saddle time in the past, but I also know that he's been a bucker and had some issues. I really believe he's a good horse, but I think he gets frustrated easily. He's never tried to be horrible with me so I am hoping that continues. Really, really hoping.


I got him out, planning to just do some ground work with the saddle on him and see where his head was at. He is so fat and out of shape that he was puffing after just a couple laps trotting around the round pen, the bum. I got him on a long lead and did some more intensive ground work, so he was getting more exercise then I was trying to keep him going. He was so good. He's so soft and responsive and level headed when he understands what you're asking. I think he is a horse that you just have to be patient with and take baby steps and just not push him too fast. The boyfriend came out and worked with him a bit so I could observe and Mister was trying to comply, but he started fighting him after a bit. The BF was asking a lot of him rather quickly and was really getting after him for not doing it, which is usually fine, that's the way I work with Midori, but it just really didn't seem to work too well with Mister. Atleast not right now, when he is still very green and trying to figure things out. They went a couple rounds fighting each other and I told him to just get a good turn out of him and quit. I wanted him back. He fought me a little bit, but I spoke softly to him and encouraged him forward and he quickly figured out what I wanted and we got back in our groove. It was fascinating to watch that though. I'm pretty sure he really doesn't click with the boyfriend.


Anywho, we did some ground work and I smacked the saddle all over and flapped the stirrups and made sure he wasn't going to pull anything. He hardly even flinched. So I stepped up in the stirrup. Did the whole, greenie put some weight in the stirrup, see if he's going to explode thing. Again, hardly even flinched. So I got on. The BF walked us around for a bit and I patted and rubbed him all over. He could not have cared less. So it was a successful "first ride". I am happy with him. He even wanted to move off my legs when I tested that out. Wohoo! Hopefully things continue to go that well with him. Fingers crossed!


Hopefully the weather holds so I can continue to get some time on him. I know he'll be a solid horse very quickly, he just needs time. I'm excited to see how he comes along with me.