Monday, May 28, 2007

Baby Steps

The monkeys in my head have been furiously writing blog posts, at times keeping me awake and at times taking my concentration away from whatever else it was I was supposed to be doing – working, or even worse, driving. Time has been at a premium lately, and typing with my left index finger and my right hand stifled my creativity for a bit. Now that I am using typing as part of my self-inflicted hand therapy I can get rid of some of the posts taking up precious gray matter.

As I posted before, my trainer Willow got on Miss for the first time on April 6. Since then she has continued to work diligently with her and, thanks in large part to her hard work, I was able to get on her myself on May 20. If I hadn’t broken my finger I think it would have been a little earlier, but nonetheless, right on track based on the timetable we had set up back in January.

You’ll note there are no exclamation points in that last paragraph. Honestly, that first ride was more than a little discouraging. I hesitate to call it a ride; I literally got on her and walked around the arena a few times. I think my trainer was a bit nervous because she hadn't been ridden in a week and my finger still hampers my left hand's reining capabilities. Willow makes it look easy, but I see now that she needs a lot more training before she is able to understand and be able to do what I am asking her to do. Of course, I knew that she was green when we started this process, and I know that for a 7 year-old who hadn’t been ridden in 3 years she is making remarkably quick progress, but…well, this is all about me, isn’t it?

If I do say so myself, I am riding pretty well on the horses they use for lessons, which are by default very well trained. But riding Miss is a whole different story, I feel like I am learning to ride all over again. I must say that she is extremely comfortable to sit on, which in the long run is pretty darned important.

I think there was just too much emotion built in to that moment. That morning before we went to the farm D and I had breakfast with a friend then wandered two doors down to an upscale jewelry store that was having a big sale. A necklace caught both of our eyes and we walked out a few minutes later with a tear-shaped white gold pendant with a quarter carat diamond at the tip. It’s absolutely gorgeous, an early birthday present and to help celebrate The First Ride. Just a little pressure, not much.

The next day I had a lesson in the late evening. I was just packing up my stuff when we heard a great racket from the birthing stall. Willow immediately knew that the pregnant mare was “casting”, meaning she had laid down and was unable to get her feet under her in order to stand, and was kicking the fence of her stall. I stifled the urge to say, “You mean she’s fallen and she can’t get up?”, instead giving the experts there a few minutes before I headed over to check on her, where I witnessed the last push and pull and the arrival of a perfect foal. It was remarkably quick (less than 5 minutes), and remarkably clean. I suspect you don’t want a huge Come Eat My Baby, She’s Right Here mess out in the wild. The umbilical cord broke the first time the mare stood up, since working scissors without opposable thumbs would be a bit of a challenge. Within 90 minutes the filly was standing up and taking her first wobbly steps, her legs completely out of proportion to the rest of her. Geez, it takes us humans, what, a year to stand up?

Ruby is criminally cute, as you can see by the first of many pictures I’ll share with you. She is one week old today and is thriving. As you can see she has the same unusual blaze as her mother.

Yesterday Willow lunged Miss then brought her over to the mounting block to get on. It took her a good 5 minutes to get her to stand still. I was not so secretly glad that Willow was having so much trouble, otherwise when it happened to me I would have thought it was my inexperience. Miss was very quiet and Willow was able to walk, trot and even canter (for only the second time) so when I got on we walked for a bit, then Willow put the lunge line back on her bridle and we trotted, which made it feel like I could actually call this A Ride.

If you want to see a short video of me posting at her gorgeously floating trot, let me know in the comments and I'll email it to you, I'm not going to put it up on you YouTube.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Figure Eight

I’ve always like the way the number 8 looks. As Schoolhouse Rock so poetically put it, it’s a circle that turns round upon itself, and if you place it on its side it's a symbol meaning infinity.

Our beloved big yellow dog Bailey turns 8 today. All of our animals were born in 1999, that was the year we moved to the mountains where we now live, a very good year as it turned out. He's my very first dog and has been a joy since the day we brought him home.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of him, and a dog-related song from Tori Amos' new album, American Doll Posse.

Tori Amos -- You Can Bring Your Dog mp3 (right click, Save Target As)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mood Swing

My sister has bi-polar disorder, which used to be called manic depression. It didn’t manifest itself until she was in her early 20s, specifically one weekend when she was with me in Seattle. Her usual shy and quiet demeanor was taken over by a personality that didn’t need sleep or food, one who thought nothing of buying expensive jewelry using a closed checking account or convincing a car salesman to let her “test drive” a car by herself, which she then drove 100 miles. I called her husband and our father, who drove down from Vancouver, helped me find her and wrestled her into the back of Dad’s car, she literally kicking and screaming. I was scared out of my mind with worry and fear, fear for her and also for myself – was this what was in store for me? She’s been on lithium ever since, more than 20 years, with a brief interlude during her pregnancy 16 years ago, which landed her back in the psych ward right before and after the birth of her son.

I also suffer from both anxiety and depression, but the swing from one to the other isn’t quick and my anxiety doesn’t have manic tendencies. Regardless, mental illness is something I’ve been dealing with my whole life, first vicariously through my mother and now with my own issues. I’ve done a lot of research but most of the writing is so dull I can’t take much of it, so I’ve been enjoying the book Halfway House by Katharine Noel, which tells the story of a teenager who literally goes off the deep end (to the bottom of a pool), and is diagnosed as bi-polar. The story is told from her perspective as well as those of her parents and brother, I’d recommend it.

The last book I read was called Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum. This is without a doubt the least linear book I’ve ever read, and although it was frustrating at times to my ordered mind, I appreciate how difficult it is to come up with a method of story-telling that is unique, and the imagery is incomparable.

Here is the first “chapter” in its entirety (if you’ll forgive the indulgence):


Hush, mother says. Madeleine is sleeping. She is so beautiful when she sleeps, I do not want to wake her.

The small sisters and brothers creep about the bed, their gestures of silence becoming magnified and languorous, fingers floating to pursed lips, tip toes rising and descending as if weightless. Circling about her bed, their frantic activity slows; they are like tiny insects suspended in sap, kicking dreamily before they crystallize into amber. Together they inhale softly and the room fills with one endless exhalation of breath: Shhhhhhhhhhhhh.

From there the book goes back and forth between Madeleine's dreams and how the family deals with a member in perpetual sleep.

As I mentioned in my last post, typing with just the index finger on my left hand has hampered my ability not just to type, but to think, it seems. I’ve been depressed on and off, frustrated at how long it is taking for my finger to heal and anxious that I still can’t bend the joint. As with all things, you never know the true value of something until you no longer have it (or the use of it, in this case).

I still have two pieces of good news to share, but they will have to wait for another day, I have to go see Miss now.

Interview Questions

I apologize for taking so long to get these up, I was in Texas for five days last week for a business conference. I don't know how those of you who live in humid climates do it, is there some secret for not sweating profusely if you're outside for more than 2 minutes? The evening outing at this conference was at a ranch (naturally), and they put on a decent little rodeo for us, you can't even tell from this picture how sticky I am!

For those who are playing along I hope you will forgive me for giving the same questions to everyone. Typing is a frustrating challenge (I’m used to being able to type as fast as I think) and besides, I think these are good questions. So for anyone who wants to answer, put them up on a post on your blog and let me know so I can go and read your answers.

Question 1: Why do you blog?

Question 2: Is there an event or relationship from your life that you would say helped to define you as an adult?

Question 3: Is there something you cannot currently do that you would like to be able to?

Question 4: What makes you laugh?

Question 5: If you could travel back through time and view any moment, what would it be, and why?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Step Up to the Mike

Molly over at Holamole’ grabbed a meme from one of her readers and I jumped in and asked to be interviewed. Here are her questions and my answers.

1. Being originally from Canada do you think you’ll ever move back there? Why or why not?
I’ve never had any real yearning to move back to Canada, I’ve been gone for nearly 20 years now so it doesn’t feel like home anymore. When I was there I lived in the suburbs of Vancouver and I definitely would not want to move back there, so if we were to move to that area it would be to a totally different environment. I do love Vancouver Island and could see myself there; my Dad and a favorite aunt and cousins are there and there is a big swath of Pacific Ocean and a ferry ride between me and my mother.

2. Since you are a relatively new horsewoman do you have any advice for other women wanting to make the leap for the first time in their adulthood?
Just do it! Don’t think you are too old to start something new. Find a place where they teach other beginners of all ages, a place you don’t feel uncomfortable and give yourself some time to make progress.

3. How do you imagine your life with Missy 10 years from now?
I’d like to think she and I would be able to do anything together – jumping, trail rides, even therapy work (I already do therapy work with one of our dogs).

4. We’ve got similar taste in movies (from your profile.) What is the last movie you saw that made you include it in your short list? Any obscure movies that you loved?
The last movie that made the list was either Chocolat or The English Patient, nothing I’ve seen recently has really rocked my world. Probably the most obscure movie that DID rock my world was Closet Land, starring Alan Rickman and Madeleine Stowe, and only those two. It isn’t for the faint of heart, and for someone with abuse in their background at times it is almost unbearable to watch, but the performances are incredible.

5. What are the ups and downs of having a step-son?
Honestly there has been no down-side. We gained more of a young adult friend than a step-son, he doesn’t ask anything of us and we have a very easy and friendly relationship. It still makes me almost giddy to be with him, he looks so much like his father and they are so alike, in all the best ways, my heart just swells with love and gratitude that he chose to allow us into his life.

If you'd like to play, leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” I will respond by asking you five questions in the comments here on this post so check back here. I get to pick the questions. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions, and so on...