Tuesday, November 25, 2008
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
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
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.
Monday, November 17, 2008
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.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
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
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.
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
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.