Friday, July 31, 2009

Texas summertime

Trainer Leslie, who also used to live in Texas, forwarded me this. Considering the week we had (highs of 102, 105, and 106), it was especially appropriate.

Dear Diary
June 1 : Just moved to Texas ! Now this is a state that knows how to live!! Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings. It is beautiful. I've finally found my home. I love it here.
June 14th : Really heating up. Got to 100 today . Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this. I'm turning into a sun worshipper.
June 30th : Had the backyard landscaped with western plants today . Lots of cactus and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing the lawn for me. Another scorcher today , but I love it here.
July 10th : The temperature hasn't been below 100 all week. How do people get used to this kind of heat? At least, it's kind of windy though. But getting used to the heat is taking longer than I expected.
July 15th : Fell asleep by the community pool. (Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body). Missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though. Got to respect the ol' sun in a climate like this.
July 20th : I missed Lomita (my cat) sneaking into the car when I left this morning. By the time I got to the hot car at noon, Lomita had died and swollen up to the size of a shopping bag, then popped like a water balloon. I learned my lesson though. No more pets in this heat. Good ol' Mr. Sun strikes again.
July 25th : The wind sucks. It feels like a giant freaking blow dryer!! And it's hot as fire. The home air-conditioner is on the fritz and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he needed to order parts.
July 30th : Been sleeping outside on the patio for 3 nights now, $225,000 house and I can't even go inside. Lomita is the lucky one. Why did I ever come here?
Aug. 4th : It's 115 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today . It cost $500 and gets the temperature down to 85. I hate this stupid state.
Aug. 8th : If another wise ass cracks, "Hot enough for you today?" I'm going to strangle him. Lots of heat. By the time I get to work, the radiator is boiling over, my clothes are soaking wet, and I smell like baked cat!!
Aug. 9th : Tried to run some errands after work. Wore shorts, and when sat on the seats in the car, I thought I was on fire. My skin melted to the seat. I lost 2 layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs. Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried a**, and baked cat.
Aug 10th : The weather report might as well be a recording. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. It's been too hot to do anything for 2 long months and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week. Doesn't it ever rain in this state? Water rationing will be next, so my $1700 worth of cactus will just dry up and blow over. Even the cactus can't live in this heat.
Aug. 14th : Welcome to HELL! Temperature got to 115 today . Cactus are dead. Forgot to crack the window and blew the windshield out of the car. The installer came to fix it and guess what he asked me??? "Hot enough for you today?" My sister had to spend $1,500 to bail me out of jail. Freaking Texas. What kind of a sick demented idiot would want to live here?? Will write later to let you know how the trial goes.

Ha! At the barn, we were wailing "Lomita is the lucky one!" at each other all week. The heat wave finally broke yesterday. Tonight Willow wanted to be kinda witchy at first, so I booted her forward in trot and canter for awhile, and then she offered up a super working trot, big and floaty. We have a lesson on Sunday -- maybe trainer Leslie will be impressed!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I wanna be a derby girl

Saturday night I went to my first-ever roller derby. It was fantastic! I knew nothing about roller derby beforehand except vague memories of watching Xanadu when I was little. And I'm not even sure that was roller derby. Anyway, luckily for me they explained the rules beforehand. Basically there's a pack of eight skaters, four from each team, and one jammer from each team coming up behind. The jammers try to get through the pack to earn points. The pack tries to hinder the opposing team's jammer and help their own team's jammer. They all go really fast, slam into each other a lot, and fall down violently every so often.

The teams each have a theme. Here are the Andromedolls during introductions, shooting the crowd with their laser guns:

Derby girls get to have rockin' derby girl names, like Reign of Tara, Assista Suicide, Rex Havoc, and Turnin' Trixie. I think my derby girl name would be Auntie Maim. I'd probably need to get some tattoos.

It's really, really, really hot. 100 degrees every day this week, maybe cooling down on Friday. I think I'm going to reschedule my Thursday lesson. I waited until late last night to ride, and it was still over 90. Living in Oregon, the horses aren't really conditioned for this kind of heat (not to mention the riders), so I don't want to overdo it.

So, I've been really happy that Willow is mostly off my hand. But something still seemed to be missing, and I finally figured out that she's still holding the bit, which means she still has tension in the jaw. So I've been working on getting her to let go. At least now it's a lot easier to play and twiddle with my fingers -- it wasn't easy when I had fifty pounds in my hands! The last few rides I've gotten her to start to chew. It's more nervous chomping at the moment, but it's a start.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

best. lesson. yet.

I think even trainer Leslie was a little shocked at how good Willow was tonight. We started off with lots of bendy work in walk, shoulder in to diagonal to shoulder in, shoulder in to travers, etc. Then we worked for awhile on travers on a fifteen-meter circle in walk. Willow seemed really interested in the exercises. Her ears were very flippy-floppy.

Then we worked on trot mediums for a bit, asking for medium halfway down the long side, half halt to collection for a few strides, then medium again for the rest of the long side. I switched to sitting trot, and Leslie commented how much better that was looking.

Next we schooled trot-canter-trot, and the canter departs were effortless. We're starting to focus on really collecting the canter, and the main thing I need to remember is to maintain the quickness in the hind legs. We also did the same medium/half halt/medium exercise in the canter, and while it wasn't bad, it definitely needs work.

Finally, we worked on canter-walk transitions. Leslie had us canter on a twenty-meter circle, then canter a ten-meter circle from the point on the wall, and then ask for walk as we approached the wall on the small circle. Willow nailed the walk the first and third time we tried it, so we fussed over her and quit for the evening. Good mare!

Willow's focus and work ethic are phenomenal lately. It's very encouraging. She gets tomorrow night off as I go see the Cherry Poppin' Daddies play at DaVinci Days in Corvallis. Then it's back to work on Saturday!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Supernatural drinking game

Supernatural has recently catapulted itself into my top five all-time favorite shows. It's in with rarefied company:

1. Firefly
2. The X-Files
3. Buffy
4. Twin Peaks
5. Supernatural
(Um, yes, I'm a bit of a sci fi nut.)

During my last couple of runs, I've been hashing out a Supernatural drinking game. It has kept me occupied (and occasionally giggling) for three miles at a time. Here's what I came up with:

  • Dean or Sam props open the Impala's trunk with a shotgun: drink!
  • Dean and Sam sleep on the floor of Bobby's living room, even though he's got, like, 15 bedrooms: drink!
  • Somebody's cleaning a gun: drink!
  • Somebody calls somebody a "douche": drink!
  • X-Files reference: drink!
  • Car porn: drink!
  • Evidence of John Winchester's general suckiness as a father: chug!
  • You think the writers can't possibly find a way to make Dean feel worse about himself, but then they do: chug!

Willow is doing just super. She's off my hand! Hallelujah! And she's starting to give at the base of her neck instead of mostly just at the poll. I've been really working the carrot stretches with her to loosen up her neck. After each ride, I have her stretch in both directions towards her hip and in both directions down and past the front leg, and I also have her bring her head down and between her front legs, and chin to chest.

Yesterday I tried for some more flying changes, and got her to change in front once. Several strides later she corrected behind as well. Today I introduced shoulder-in in canter, and she did great. We also worked shoulder-in to travers to shoulder-in in trot. All this is so much easier when I'm not holding up her front end.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Creepy neighbor guy

About six weeks ago an older fellow moved into the apartment across the street from my backyard (I'm on a corner lot). Every day, from sunup until well past sundown, he sits in his lawnchair and stares across the street into my backyard. Until this started, I never realized how much I enjoyed my backyard, which used to feel very private. Now, I cringe every time I go out my back door. My carport is in my backyard, so he watches me every time I come and go. I've started leaving out my front door when I go running, because I really don't like him staring at me in my running clothes. I can't believe he doesn't get bored sitting outside with nothing to do but stare for twelve hours a day. He's not doing anything illegal, so I guess I just have to put up with it. But if I go missing, tell the police: creepy neighbor guy did it.

DC would have been a lot of fun if I hadn't been sick the whole time. I had laryngitis the last three days, which makes trying to interact with the public all sorts of fun. I did get to meet Malcolm Gladwell, which was cool, and I acted as bouncer at the insanity that was his 45-minute booksigning. It's amazing just how many people are utterly oblivious to the 500 people in line behind them, and think they'll just stop and chat with the author for a few minutes. Well, not on my watch! (I still had my voice at that point, and used my cool but threatening tone.)

Of course I had to have my picture taken with the cardboard cutouts of the Obamas.

They were very busy cutouts; I swear all 16,000 conference attendees had their pictures taken with them. I did have one actual, real-life celebrity sighting: Debbie Phelps, Michael Phelps's mother. She is, like, three feet shorter than her son.

I've been on Willow twice since I returned. Today's ride went very well. We worked on canter lengthening and counter-canter serpentine. I think at this point we could really rock first level.