Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mocha night

Horse had a rather disgusted look on her face when I showed up…it’s always interesting to see her reaction when I’ve been away for a week or so.  Either she’s very demanding of attention and work or she’s mad at me for being gone and is sulky.  Tonight started out sulky, but she was easily persuaded to perk up with treats and brushing.  Hard to say which one she likes best, especially when she’s still shedding the winter hair.

Cool weather meant she hung back a wee bit at the beginning, so I picked up a crop.  Funny how that changes her attitude–don’t need to use it, just need to carry it.  And then she moves right up.  I also will use it as a tapping cue to get her to back off of my leg a little bit, and she was responsive to that.

All the same, outside of a little stiffness when asked to bend on the right rein, she did pretty well for an unanticipated layoff (due to son’s illness).  She was ready to dig in and work, so work we did.  Lots of two-track at walk and trot, plus lots of sitting trot with good impulsion.  Some high-headed bracing at the beginning, but she eventually softened a little (not a lot, I don’t expect a lot after a layoff) and we played with legs and half-halt to get forward and impulsion.  Then we went to collected canter (well, semi-collected tonight) and gallop, which she enjoyed immensely.  And!  While our first couple of sessions of canter back from gallop weren’t as immediate as I would like, toward the end she was decelerating almost as fast as she can accelerate.  Which is pretty dang fast, considering how she shoots ahead when I lean forward and bring my hands forward.

Still like to get her on a track someday and see what it’d feel like to ask her to sprint all out for a quarter mile.  While she’s mostly Doc Bar (Doc O’Lena and Gay Bar King), there’s some Leo in there as well….and girl can run when she wants.  She’s got a pretty good engine in that hind end.

At the end she felt pretty good about her work, lining out on the long rein in her big, free-swinging swagger walk that could rival a Thoroughbred’s in its reach.  Back swaying, stepping deep under herself…going somewhere, head long and low, ears forward.  It’s a pleasure to ride and from what I can see of her expression, a gait she truly enjoys.  That big relaxed swinging walk of hers is so much fun to sit and she does it after she’s had a good workout and seems to feel good about it.

A good horse night.  Satisfying without being weird.  Both of us got a productive workout and we pretty much just focused on conditioning and fine-tuning our cues.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

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Palmer 2012 and other stuff

Yesterday morning was a perfect illustration of Timberline’s dual nature.  We started out in the trees, with conditions like this:







Annoyingly I had to stop and wipe my glasses every fifty yards or so.  While my goggles had been great all season, yesterday, they….weren’t.

Then as we got off of Jeff Flood after our third run through the trees, we spotted what looked like a clearing trend up high on the Mountain.  So we hopped on the Magic Mile and went up, to this:







The Palmer chairlift is now open, so I convinced DH to give it a try.  Palmer is the highest lift on Hood, and it’s a black diamond–as much for the elevation and lack of trees as the steepness.  Here’s a look:







We skied down Palmer twice, taking our time and going slowly.  For one thing, it was steep, for another, it was pretty cut up.  But we did well, though DH hit a patch of snow and his ski popped off at one point.  Still not sure how that one happened, but it was on a flat run so not too bad.

Our Palmer runs were a lot like our early runs on the Mile–slow, careful, with breaks to ease the legs.  When you ski slow and under more control, that’s more fatiguing than skiing fast.  But neither one of us were really up for a fast mile-long run, especially one like Palmer.  Nonetheless it was gorgeous and in the sun, while everything else was fogged in.

And then we came home, rested, then went to the DH’s thirty year award banquet.  On the way home, we spotted Reed College’s Renn Faire fireworks so we stopped to enjoy those.  A lovely end to a lovely day.

Today is a light day.  I could have gone to the barn, but I wanted to do household chores and get back to work on the Netwalk stories.  Friday, besides watching over the son here at home, I got my MS together and out for the Angry Robot open call, and then sent out all the short stories that have been accumulating since the last big submissions flurry.  For the moment, everything marketable is now out.

So I’ve planted my flowerpots with pansies, cosmos, begonias, lobelias and petunias.  Several leftover petunias got stuck into filler positions around the flower beds.  That’s pretty much all of my flower planting for now since I planted the rest of the nasturtiums and sunflowers on Friday.  The California poppies, sweet peas and first nasturtium plantings are cruising right along.  Looks like we’ll have edible pod peas by the end of May.  The apple trees appear to be setting fruit (except for the baby Yellow Transparent) so we should have some nice apples this year.  Despite the craziness, we do appear to be on track.

Onward now to rearranging office and getting to work on Netwalk stuff.  It’s been way too long.

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Spring yard after a busy weekend

I’m still digesting the events of OEA-RA.  From all reports, it was one of the most dramatic RAs in OEA’s history.  But what still has me intrigued and thoughtful is the process by which 600+ delegates engaged, cussed, discussed, and negotiated their way around some rather huge internal issues in the organization.  I will say this–despite the frustrated and disenfranchised feelings of some folks on the losing end of votes, it was one of the most representative processes I’ve participated in–and that’s comparing it to similar processes in other volunteer organizations as well as the Democratic Party internal processes.  Especially after the exercise of moving to a committee of the whole and the manner in which challenges to a chair’s ruling were held.

But RA wasn’t the only thing that happened.

The original plan for Sunday was to do our traditional breakfast out, shopping, then do stuff around the house before going to the ballet.  That got short-circuited when we came home to discover that the son was in significant gastrointestinal pain and hadn’t been able to keep any food down for twenty-four hours.  So he and I loaded up backpacks with electronics and off we went to Kaiser emergency.

We didn’t even get a chance to sit down before we were taken back–not sure if that was due to the type of situation or the fact that it was a bright, sunny spring morning and we’d beaten the onslaught of weekend warriors that would be swarming in with injuries later.  In any case, he got seen quickly.  It took three people and four sticks to find a workable vein for blood draws and a saline infusion.

Diagnosis: gastritis.

We got home in enough time for me to scramble around and get ready for the ballet, if I’d chosen to do so.  But by then I was wiped.  I ate a late lunch, then ended up napping.

The day wasn’t a total loss, though.  I weeded the sugar snap peas, now up about two inches, and planted the impatiens bed.  Spring is in full swing now, and both the Gravenstein and Grimes Golden apple trees are in full bloom.  Many blooms (the photo at the top is the Gravenstein) with bumblebees and honeybees working the blossoms.  For once the bloom timing seems to be right, as there’s not a forecast for frost this week.

Let’s hope it holds.

Meanwhile, a couple more pix.

The impatiens bed






The apple trees.

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Another Mocha post and working around the greenie

Getting bored with horse posts?  Hope not, because here’s another one.  There is other stuff happening, just can’t/won’t talk about it as it involves work thoughts.  Writer brain is locked in revisions and not much happening there.  So horse or skiing, and horse it is tonight.

Mocha’s now recognizing the sound of the new car.  Today she was in her old post by the door, watching for me to come in.  It’s always a bit of a thrill to walk in the door and spot the white of her blaze in the front of the stall, showing that she’s looking for me.  While the Sparkle mare and the Windy pony both liked me well enough, and Sparkle would watch the back door from the pasture, they’d just as happily greet my mom as they would me.  Not so Mocha.  While G. and his wife I. have a spot in her heart, I really don’t have other competition.

The nice thing about having a broke horse is that if you’re riding and someone asks for help, you can just step down, tell your horse “whoa,” and go off to lend a hand while the horse stays in place.  I remember six years ago wondering if Mocha and I would ever be at that spot.  Well, now we are and we have been in that place for a good two or three years.  That skill is one of those little quiet achievements that are nonetheless important to me, along with being able to walk up to her in any circumstance and pick up a hoof without restraint.

The circumstance for parking her came about from a request.  One of the working students needed to know the correct way to set up a stud chain as a training tool (pushy greenie in ground work, chain’s there to back him off of the lead rope and is wrapped around the halter noseband).  Greenie was being alternately pushy and jumpy; had to snap him with my thumb (thumb cocked behind index finger, pop in nose when pushy horse starts lipping the hand) a couple of times when he started to lip my hand.  He’d been tied to a patience post while G. taught a college riding class, tied up safely and then expected to learn to stand while other horses worked around him.  It works.  Takes time, but eventually even the pushiest learn to drowse off and/or watch what’s going on quietly.

I took my time to set up the chain as he was still wanting to pull back against the rope a little bit; simply stopped when he got fiesty and let him figure out that even though I was working around his head he wasn’t getting turned loose.  From the way he acted I suspect he’s been able to break away from being tied when the rope either got loosened or unsnapped.  So–let him hit the end of the rope, figure out nothing was going to get him loose if he was going to be a stinker like that, and let him learn.

Which he did.  It wasn’t panic or fear, never did have that panic wild eye.  More the calculating gaze of the pony brain who’s figured out a trick.  Two times back against the rope, I’d just stop what I was doing, he’d straighten right up and come forward.  Again, not the behavior of a panic.  Slow, calculated, thoughtful.  Watching what I was doing.  Thinking about what I was doing.

So I set up the chain, then got back on Mocha and we worked while the student put him through basic groundwork paces.  Noticed he was a bit pushy at first, then started developing some manners.  Working Mocha around him was good.  He got a wee bit anxious but settled as he realized she wasn’t affecting him.

Still working Mocha in the snaffle.  I’ve been working quite a bit on getting her to soften and yield to the bit.  As the pictures from the show demonstrated, she’s still not consistent with that and she really should be.  She’s also in dripping heat at the moment, so I’m happy with whatever I can get out of her.  It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes of solid warmup work before she softens up, and when she does…oh man, that big trot is amazing.  Definitely not a Western pleasure jog.  We didn’t have the full submission and softening for very long, but when we did….that feeling through her back and the way she just picked up and started to zoom at the trot–well, I just kept thinking “soft back, butter back, soft back, butter back” and making my legs soft and long and supporting her with my calves.  Yum.  A very nice working trot.

And she is getting oh-so-rateable in canter, and it’s not just me taking up the reins.  I can now relax my seat, lean forward, move my hands forward and she springs ahead into an extended canter/hand gallop.  Then I can sit up, take a firmer contact, slow my seat while still keeping it supportive and active so that she knows we’re still cantering, it’s just slower.

For us this is huge.  She’s not wanted to cooperate with being rated in the canter, slowing and extending have been big challenges.  It’s not something I’ve been able to pull together in the English saddle but it’s coming along much more easily in the Western tack, complete with seat cues.  Then again, if the English saddle was poking her, it’s understandable she wouldn’t want to be rated.  Her back is changing again, with more muscling toward the back of the scapula.  I have a feeling that’s tied into the changes in her movement.

Her stops have also improved.  I can breathe “whoa” in the hand gallop and she goes to ground.  Period.  Nose and butt down, and we’re stopped.

We also achieved a milestone this afternoon.  Thanks to the wet, there were many good mud puddles in the tree farm, including one nice wide long puddle that Mocha and I cruised several times at a walk.  Then I asked her to trot through it.  Just what I could see of her original expression from her ears and quick eye glimpse, and feel from her back was hilarious–Princess Pony’s “OMG, DISGUSTING WET WET WET OMG THIS IS FUN!!”

Keep it up and I’ll have her splashing through puddles and sending water flying like a pro.  Cracks me up, though, when she goes all Princess Pony on me like that.

Gotta love life with a horsey character.  Keeps it real.

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Monday blehs enlivened by ride time

As the Pacific Northwet is doing its best to live up to its nickname these days, of course the moods seem to be matching it, horse and human alike.  Quirky, grumbly, but still good for a work session.

When I got to the barn, once again Mocha was standing there with her tail in the bucket.  Nice and relaxed, but her tail was living in her water bucket.  Walked off as calm as could be, even when the wet tail hit her legs.  There was a certain flicker of sarcastic amusement in her eyes when I opened the stall door.  Clearly it’s meant to be some sort of horse joke.  The expression is too much like that in the eyes of a middle school prankster.  However, being a mere human, I’ve not the faintest clue what the joke is about.

We’ve run short on doing works over the past two weeks due to scheduling stuff, and it shows under saddle.  She resisted softening up and coming onto the bit for the longest time, even though she was eager for the initial stretching.  Well, heck, she’s probably a little stiff and achy with all this rain.  I am too.  So I kept pushing, kept asking for the bend at a walk, did two-track, half-halts, whoa-back, and finally we broke through the Wall O’ Stiffness.  Suddenly she wasn’t fighting the rein but softly carrying the bit.  A little bit at the walk, and I started asking for it at the trot, which was quite nice.  She’s gone from “dear God this trot sucks” to having a quite nice sitting working trot.

But the nicest part of this afternoon’s session was moving from lightly collected lope to hand gallop and then back to it.  I’ve been schooling this for the past few weeks and had the chance to try it while riding through a lesson.  G had two little intermediate level kids who were working at all three gaits.  Mocha and I did several circuits of collected lope and then we had to pick up the pace to squeeze out of a tight spot.  I asked her for the gallop and she gave it.  We continued round, then I asked her to come back into the collected lope without breaking.

She did it.  Yay!  Mocha gets pretty wound up at the gallop, especially after a lot of collected work and when working at that speed around other horses, but this afternoon she was very rateable and soft in the hand.  I was very pleased with this state of affairs and we did it several times, quite nicely.

Not quite done with snaffle work at the moment.  I am so very pleased with schooling in the latigo leather reins.  The feel is more secure and when I have to take hold of Mocha’s mouth to lift a shoulder or correct her position, it’s steadier and much, much more effective.  I’m able to use less pressure with the stiffer rein and I really do think it’s a better feel.  In return, she seems to like these reins better now, and responds more effectively, with fewer objections or annoyed reactions.  She just feels happier in my hand.

I do need to borrow G’s mullen mouth curb, though.  I think she’s ready to move on from that correction curb, and it’s different enough that I think she could like it.  If she does, then the trick is finding another one like it.  It’s an Arab bit in size and weight, but she’s got an Arab-sized mouth with Arab-sensitivity to it.  Could mean I spend a lot of time in tack shops checking out bit weights and balances over the next few months….

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Mocha’s Dental Moment

Some horses don’t get excited or worried about vet visits.  After several hock injections, as well as tooth floats and vaccinations, it’s clear that Mocha is not one of those horses.  She’s clearly developed the association that arrival of vet truck=shots of some sort, and She Has Opinions about that.  The only other horse I’ve owned with a similar attitude was my first Shetland, Windy Foot, whose reaction tended toward heading for the hills (usually dragging me along with him) when the vet rolled in wearing his white coat.

Mocha’s not so bad, but still, on Friday when the vet truck drove in while I rode her in the outdoor, she clearly recognized it.  Flick of the ear backward, snort, tensing of the back, and the Evil Eye.  I wrapped up the ride (short and mellow, more just to get her worked a little bit) and brought her inside.

Another horse was getting dental work plus injections and, since he’s a boy, a speshul Vet Treat of Sheath Cleaning.  I parked Mocha in the crossties nearby and brushed her up.  While she wasn’t freaking out about watching her stablemate get drilled and shot and scrubbed, she Was Watching.  Closely.  At one point she spooked when the owner of the other horse, someone who she’s known from birth (like me), tried to pet her nose.  A little walk outside to let her relax took care of that. But otherwise, she was happy to supervise and watched the vet closely, ears pricked, curious, and if she could, attempting to investigate the vet’s tools.  If she’d been loose I’m sure she would have been Very Helpful.

After the other horse got his sheath cleaned (with cold water, to which he let us know he wasn’t happy but the owner had forgotten to bring a thermos of warm water and the heater in the barn died), it was Mocha’s turn.  As usual, she let us know what she thought of the sedation shot (not much.  She gets a nose chain for sedative shots because she pitches a little fit).  Once sedated, it was Dentist Time.

Equine dentistry can be a bit of a shock for the uninitiated to watch.  It involves long drill bits, a huge dental speculum, and a mechanism (with this vet, a large metal hoop that’s padded) to hold the horse’s head steady while it’s sedated and the vet is drilling.  Mocha’s cooperative through the process though she does roll her eye constantly.  Think of a teenaged girl’s eye roll just previous to saying “WhatEVER” and that’s Mocha’s commentary.  Cooperative but letting us know it’s an affront.

This time she experimented with leaning on the hoop.  Fortunately, those devices (another vet used a large leather halter) are strung over a thick 4 x 6 in the barn for just this reason.  She sagged a foreleg and the matching hindleg.  Can’t help but think that she reminded me of my attitude during the same sort of dental maintenance work!

She didn’t need much work, despite going two years between visits.  A few sharp hooks on her molars but nothing too bad, a little unevenness in her fronts. I like that.  I’ve known some mature horses who’ve had to receive pretty intensive dental work on an ongoing basis.  She’s an easy tooth keeper, at least so far.  Hopefully I’ll see some positive results on Monday when I ride her, perhaps a bit more flexibility without those hooks pushing on her cheeks.

And then the vaccinations.  She timed the sneezes from the intranasal strangles vaccination so that she could get the vet with it.  Then we escorted Miss Groggy back to her stall, where as usual she wanted to walk right up to the wall and lean her head for a moment.  I slipped off her halter and let her orient herself for a moment.  It doesn’t take a lot of sedative for her, at least not for teeth.  She requires a bit more for hock injections and it’s not because she’s getting fussy and kicking, it’s because she switches her tail, moves her legs, and it’s more to inspire her to stand quietly because it is a joint injection, after all.  Small space to hit and consequences if it’s not just right.

By the time I left she was sniffing around for food.  None in the stall, of course, so she wouldn’t choke (this vet is very particular about that).  She had to wait for an hour.

She had the weekend off.  Light work for the next two weeks (based on my schedule, not teeth), a further vaccine at that time, and then we’ll be into harder work until it’s time to go to Miscon.  So far there’s no sign that she needs a hock injection yet (knock on wood).    Seven months so far, I’m hoping to hold off until late August if possible.  We might do a reining show in the fall so that would be about the right timing.

And then again, maybe she won’t need another injection.  I do keep hoping for that.  That would be an ideal situation and maybe, just maybe, the way she’s been working we’ll be able to stave it off or not even need one.  That would be optimal…but, realistically, she appears to need an injection about every ten months.

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It’s a lovely April afternoon. So we go skiing.

DH and I had many plans for this weekend, and one of them involved shoehorning a ski day around work/credentials testing today and work/ballet/groceries/etc tomorrow.  The weather for a quick yet pleasant ski trip looked auspicious for this afternoon, so…we went for it.

Spring skiing at its best.  You’ll have to take my word for it; no camera this time and that was probably a good thing.  While the temps were in the high 30s F, the winds out of the northwest roared through with gusts in the mid-thirties, at least by the official measurement.

I think there were a few stronger than that.  At least one gust pushed both me and DH back into the chair momentarily at the top of the Magic Mile.

Nonetheless, despite the wind it was comfortable, sunny with clouds wisping through the high slopes, and crystalline snow blowing drifts across the groomed areas to provide a bit of wind tillage to even out the surface.  Cloudbanks kept threatening to sock us in, but by the time they hit the ridge just on the west edge of the Mile, they’d break up into clawlike tendrils that briefly resembled roaring dragons.  We watched the clouds, fascinated, on each ride up the Mile.

Then we flew down.  A bit of wind assist, I’d say, and somewhat spooky with the flying shadows from the clouds skittering across the snowfields, alternating shadows and sunlight.  Conditions were icy with drifted powder, but a sharp, crisp ice rather than wet over ice.  The line between crisp ice and slush hit quite sharply.  Not enough to throw us, as it happened on a flatter part of the slope, but it was clearly a quick transition between softer snow and harder snow, and the softer snow was still cold enough to be slick instead of grabby.

Some days the wind on the Mile is just too sharp and cutting to bear.  Then the groom has to be good enough to want to ride uphill huddled over on the chair to preserve body heat.  It wasn’t like that today.  Sharp wind, true, wind strong enough to push me along with my back to it unless I dug in my edges, but still a capricious, warming spring breeze, cold and crisp with promise.  The same gust that pushed me back onto the chair also whipped a small chunk of ice into my cheek just before we got off.

Slipping off the chair was a bit of a challenge, not just because of the wind but because the ramp was a sheet of solid ice, but again, it was crisp and not wet over ice, which is a lot easier to handle.  And once we dropped over the edge and started down, between the wind and the firm snow, we both built up quite a bit of speed.  We started with 15 minute circuits (between riding up and skiing down) and ended with 10 minute circuits.  Not bad for a couple of old pharts who took up skiing later in life.

And then we came home to a warm spring afternoon.  I decided that today was the First Day for Hippie Skirt Wearing.

A clear sign that spring is here.  Hopefully we’ll get more lovely days like this up on the Mile (and maybe I can even sneak encourage the husband to try out Palmer.  He’s done Vicky’s.  Could be an epic spring for Palmer).

Yep.  Ski day #18.  Sweet.

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I miss Tom Peterson’s. Appliance shopping rant.

Long-term Portland residents know what I’m talking about when I say that I miss shopping at Tom Peterson’s.  For those of you who don’t know about Tom Peterson’s, well, here’s the link that tells you about Tom and his role in Portlandia culture.

Not that “hipster icon” is necessarily why I liked shopping there for appliances.  What I did like was that I could go to Tom Peterson’s looking for a moderately priced utilitarian appliance that worked.  No fancy bells and whistles, pretty much plain colors, no designer icons.  Just reasonably-priced, solid, functional appliances without trends or fads.

I can’t find that now, or, rather, I’ve yet to find a reliable replacement.  Many of the stores I’ve gone to have high-end or low-end, without the functionality of my older appliances.  I’m paying more for less functional appliances and the high-end appliances I’ve seen at these stores, while having more cosmetic and flashy bells and whistles, lack some of the useful pragmatic parts of the mid-range Tom Peterson’s line I used to like.

It’s annoying.

And dear lord in heaven, do I ever sound like an old phart.  I know stores like this exist.  I ran into this phenomenon when shopping for a new mattress.  I just haven’t found the right one for appliances yet.

In a word, it’s annoying.  And time-consuming.

I will say this, though–if I’m shopping on the Web, damn it, I want webpages that have a certain degree of search functionality which a.) displays features, b.) allows me to sort by specific categories, c.) displays prices, and d.) is reasonably intuitive and easy to use.

Two local chains failed miserably on that score.  One got ruled right out because they were clearly in the same high-end/bottom-end dichotomy, as far as I could figure out from their website’s descriptions–but that wasn’t the killer.  Killer?  No firm price listing.

The other was bloody impossible to use.  I’ve bought from them before and know they tend to the high end with absolute crap toward the bottom, but sometimes you can find a deal.  But I gave up on them because their webpage was impossible.

The web winner?  Best Buy, which allowed me to sort, get an idea of prices, select by features, and get a pricing idea.  I’m probably looking at reconditioned stoves at a local business first, but at least now I know what a reasonable price range is.

I’d much rather support a local retailer, but damn.  That doesn’t mean I want to pay boutique prices.

Where, oh where, are the Tom Peterson’s of yesteryear?  The retailers focusing on the solid middle group of people who don’t want flash, they want something that works without paying a fortune for fancy designer labels.  Or has that gone out of style?

Damn, I think I’m turning into an old phart.

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Exclamation point added because, well, I felt like it.

I don’t do a lot of cons new to me just simply because of logistics.  In past years that had to do with parental responsibilities and financial limitations; these days it’s about job responsibilities and a bit less of financial though that will be a factor Real Soon Now.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to try out new conventions, especially in places like San Francisco and Seattle, it’s just been logistics.

Nonetheless, this year I decided to do Norwescon for the first time.  And now, afterwards, I’m slapping myself in the head for not doing it before now.  I mean, really?  REALLY?  Well, okay.  At one time I was a semi-serious practicing Catholic with Easter liturgical responsibilities so yeah, that really kept me out of things.  But these days, heck, I’m mad at the Church’s hierarchy so I’m not going.  So there.

Um, yeah, I’m a bit ADDish this morning.  So back to Norwescon.  It didn’t hurt that even though we had to plow through a bunch of showers on Friday morning, once we reached Seatac spring had sprung.  Warm.  Sunny.  Nice weather.  OMG.  Unfortunately, we’d forgotten our medications (the lifeline of middle aged folks), so DH patiently turned around and went back to Portland to get them while I marched over to the main con hotel, and got myself a con-going.  Which, for me, means interacting with a lot of friends, going to readings, admiring cool costumes, attending some panels and, this year, taking some pictures of friends.

Gravy included new friend-making, running through not just my writer cards but my special education teacher cards, and OMG MOUNTAINS.  Saturday was a gorgeous day and, while talking to a friend on the elevator, I got completely squeed out by simultaneous views of the Olympics and Rainier.  I ended up having to run up to the very top and snapping shots.











Mountain Girl is quite happily mountained.

All in all, a good time.  Met some cool new folks, talked to a lot of Seattle folks I often only see at Radcon and sometimes Miscon, admired the skill of Susan Mathews in running a panel (OMG, yes, she’s one of the best I’ve seen), missed Nancy Kress beating Bob Brown at chess (and got stomped by Bob myself).

Fun times.  Writer girl is now happily re-energized and can face the April-May teacher slog.

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Horse updates and other stuff….Norwescon!

Spring has sprung and that means the horsey brain is scattered.  Especially an entire horse’s brain (stallion or mare, means you’ve got hormones to cope with.  And even geldings get a bit goofier in spring).  Mocha’s going through her first big seasonal cycle of the year and it’s made her a bit more opinionated than usual.  Nothing big, for me at least at this point in her training and my riding skill.  Monday night she was flinging her head and feet around like a Saddlebred.  I swear she studied the moves of those Saddlebreds at the last show, because boy there was a certain bit of higher step to her motion in the week after…and now again this week.  She’s moving like G’s old Park Arab schoolies used to (seriously, both Arab schoolies had shown and placed well showing in Park classes in the 1980s, both were Raffon grandget and man did both of them have this HUGE Park trot.  Which is actually quite fun to sit in a Western saddle).  Not that Mocha can step as high as Teso or Moriah, but she does a decent Quarter Horse imitation.

Anyway.  Monday her head was high and her feet were high, plus she was a wee bit stiff.  I finally got tired of trying to get her to settle into softening and took the reiner’s cheat out–we schooled lope.  Collected lope, hand gallop.  Ask for a collected sitting trot for a couple of circuits first, work on three circuits of collected lope, then push on for three circuits of hand gallop.  Rein back to collected lope for three circuits, push on for three more hand gallop circuits.  Change direction, two circuits of collected sitting trot, then the lope circuits.  Change direction, lather, rinse, repeat.  Change direction again, etc, etc, etc.  By the fourth set both of us were hollering uncle.    To pull off the lope transitions I really, really needed to work my abs, sink my heels hard, and sit up.  Which has challenges of its own.  Nonetheless I got good transitions.

Plus Mocha is really liking the KK Ultra bridoon in the Western snaffle strap gear.  She’s not so thrilled about the dropped noseband but at least she doesn’t get too intense about trying to shake the damned thing off until the very end of her session.  We’ve made that compromise, but I tell you, once the Professional’s Choice boots come off, she’s working on shaking off that dropped noseband and doesn’t wait for me.  Even so, she likes it better than having a double noseband and, y’know?  I’ll take a pass on showing in English tack if the movement she gives as a result is what I’ll get.

Monday she wouldn’t soften to the bit but today she would and was very light.  The other thing is that I am really, really liking the feel of latigo leather reins on that KK bit.  Just a bit more stiffness and weight without the godawful feel of the English leather reins.  Web reins are just too damned light for schooling and with the way my hands are these days, the leather support is nicer.  I feel things better.  Mocha responds with a lighter touch, and damn!  I am getting some strong, hard, killer stops with this setup.  Better than with the same saddle in the curb, better than the same bit with English tack.  I just breathe the word “whoa” and she rounds up, drops her head, and stops.  I’m frequently in the position featured in many Monte Foreman clinic shots when she does it in this snaffle setup.

I’ve also talked to G about trying out his sweet iron mullen mouth curb.  He calls it a Weymouth, I don’t think that’s exactly what it is but it’s close.  Very nice mullen mouth on the thinner side, slot at the top for a snaffle rein so you could do a Pelham with it.  It looks a lot like a Monte Foreman curb; if Mocha likes it that’s probably what I’ll look for.  Rather than just run out for a replacement for what I have now, I think I want to check out some other curb options.  We’re doing well in the Western snaffle and I’m happy with that for the moment but I want curb options, not just for show but for when it warms up and she’s limbered up a bit more.  I’ve fallen in love all over again with Western snaffle and I think this spring I’m going to indulge that love.  I’m not going to get real intense about bit shopping until after her float next week.

And on other fronts….Norwescon this weekend.  No panelage, I’m not a big enough name/don’t have the inside connections.  NBD.  That would have put too much pressure on me for this upcoming weekend and with writing and work stuff, I just really didn’t need that pressure.

Miscon, on the other hand…oh boy, am I looking forward to Miscon!

But yeah.  I am just now realizing how Radcon filled an East Side travel void that didn’t happen this year and won’t happen until Miscon.  Of course this has turned out to be the Rainy Cold Winter From Hell.  Must plan better for next winter, unless it turns out to be a sunny El Nino.

Meanwhile, work is work.  I’m still processing inputs from the Allan Schore study group last week.  Seriously one of those three hour groups that flew by in moments and I’m still just stunned by the details.  However, I’m beginning to see how Interpersonal Neurobiology can apply to special ed, at least how I apply it.  Instinct came first, then the logic.

And I need to develop further posts.

I told Steve Barnes I have some thoughts about meditation and exercise.  I need to write that post.

I have some thoughts about aging and worklife.  At some time that needs to get written.

I need to digest Allan Schore.  OMG, Allan in person is extremely intense.

Lots of stuff happening.  But it’s all early stage “in-progress” stuff, nothing which will bear fruit very soon.

And I haven’t begun to express how I feel about politics right now.

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