Monthly Archives: September 2012

A quick post before work…birdies!

The fall songbird migration has begun, probably due to the dryness around here.  I’ve been getting some interesting birdies at the feeder, especially since I put out a small pan of water.  That’s been a source of endless entertainment.  The smaller the bird, the bigger the splash they seem to make.

It’s endlessly cute to watch the approach.  I use the bottom tray from a planter for water, and dump/refill it daily.  I also put it up on a deck bench.  The birds land either on the bench or a nearby mullein stalk, then perch on the edge to drink carefully.  Then they look around and cautiously hop in.  The smallest goldfinches barely can see over the rim.  They peer around, splash, peer around again, then hop out and shake off.

Those little finch and sparrow birdies?  They spread water in 3-4 foot arcs.  Not that they waste it–often they’ll sip from the splash puddles before going to the main dish.

But so far this morning I’ve seen goldfinches, house finches, yellow and white-crowned sparrows, yellow-rumped warblers, black and grey warblers, and black-capped chickadees.  The finches and the chickadees are regulars, the rest are travelers.

The other day a couple of crows daintily sipped from the tray.

Such a small thing, my bird feeders and waters.  But it provides me and the birds much happiness.  Besides the mixed seed and nyger feeders (I don’t run suet until the rains set it), I have a not-very-used hummingbird feeder and sunflowers that the birds can work.  Plus all the mullein stalks.

And now a scrub jay is drinking.  But I must go.

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Filed under blather, Wildlife

Show prep countdown

It’s interesting juggling horse show prep with day job stuff in the fall.  Last time I did the OHA Gold Classic show, it was closer to the event and only a single day.  I followed G and his wife with the horse trailer over and we did our English and Western thing all in one day.

That was then.

This year, DH and I are going to a concert the night before the show.  G is judging, and since he’s Mocha’s ride, she goes over on Friday afternoon.  Because the show has Trail and Reining events on Saturday, then Equitation and Pleasure events on Sunday, we’re showing both days.  I’ve wanted to do some reining classes, not because I think we’ll knock anyone out of the park (I’m too much of a practical rider, not a show rider, and I think we’re still a bit jerky), but because I wanted the experience.

Reality is, we just don’t hit the show pen frequently enough to have the smooth, practiced, show ring glide to compete seriously in these particular Western classes.  I don’t spend the money on training fees, clinics, or other stuff that it would take to reach that level.  I do approach each show as a learning experience, and shows definitely make an impression on Miss Mocha with regard to her understanding of how/why we do things.  Then again, she’s bred to be a competitive show horse in Western performance disciplines, and to a certain degree I can see the stamp of those cultivated instincts in how she processes new experiences.  After last winter’s experience at the Mt. Hood Equestrian Center, I’m curious to see what she remembers of the Yamhill County facilities.  I didn’t expect her to remember when we went back to Mt. Hood, but she sure did.

That plus she seems to understand more about the show environment with each exposure.  She gets excited about the new place but she also isn’t upset by it.  However, this show is her first multi-day overnight, and she’s going solo.  Big changes for the little mare.  And G is dropping her in the stall, not me.  OTOH, she knows and trusts him.

But I do plan to spend time with her just grooming and getting to relax the next morning.  I know I’ll worry about her until we’ve had some time.  And that day is our big energy day with Trail and Reining–three classes of each, and the first Trail class is in-hand.

The next day is Equitation–one class, and three Pleasure classes.  I don’t expect much from the Pleasure classes other than a nice workout and maybe a ribbon.  She’s not built to be a Pleasure horse; she doesn’t move like a Pleasure horse.  If we get seconds or thirds, I’ll be thrilled.  It’d be cool if I placed well in Eq, but again, reality intrudes and I tend to be a practical rider rather than a pretty rider.

So a first multi-day show.  My goal is to keep it relaxed, have fun, and do my best to show off my pretty horse.  I have those fantasies about being the dark horse schooling rider who comes out of nowhere to blow everyone away at the show, but I also have a damn good grasp on reality.  This is just for the experience.  Doesn’t mean I won’t compete as hard as I can, but I want to have fun, too, with a horse who likes to put on that little extra pizzazz in front of an audience.

Not every horse likes it.  Out of the five horses I’ve owned, only two were certified showoffs, Mocha and Windy Foot.  Windy never made it to a show, but Mocha sure does like to strut a little bit in front of an audience.  She also likes to swagger when she’s had a good reining workout. Unlike the Sparkle mare, who sulked in the show ring, Mocha perks up a bit.  Plus it’s just fun because she’s so interested in what’s going on, instead of shutting down.  I try to encourage that pleasant attitude toward showing.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when strut meets swagger.  Could be hella fun.

Six days to go.

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WIP–Netwalker Uprising

Yeah, still at it.  And here’s a little snippet from today for your reading pleasure:

The rumble from the Gizmo guise grew louder.  It doubled in size.  The loose pieces of cloud from the Liam shape floated toward it and melded with the larger form.  It expanded, and she could feel the rumble pressing against her.  Sonics.  Melanie experimented with a small, clear tone.  Gizmo paused, then continued to grow.  Tone is good.  But can I project enough?

Alone, maybe not.  Marty and Cat to help?  But Marty and Cat were busy with the Liam guise.  If she called them and Ness back, they’d be fighting both.

Black cloud stung as it brushed against her hand.  <What we did in Charleston.  Those codes.>  Sarah’s subvocal voice was distant.  <Plus that tone.>

<You recorded those codes, didn’t you?>  But she couldn’t scold Sarah now, not when they would be useful.

<Not full codes.  You still need to say them.  And fast!>

If it worked, she wasn’t going to argue.

The Gizmo guise moved toward the hologlobe wall.  What the?  Melanie only had a brief moment to wonder before the guise blasted through the side of the hologlobe, shattering its integrity as if the barrier didn’t exist.  As the globe broke open, Bess started screaming.

<NOW!>  Sarah shrieked, her black cloud breaking into shards as Gizmo bore down on Brenda and Bess.

Body!  Somehow she managed to jump back into her body without getting disoriented despite the scattering effect of the broken hologlobe.  She couldn’t take time to check on the others, she had to protect Bess.  Melanie drew in a deep, sobbing breath and projected a strong, full high A note.  The extra fullness from having physical support gave the tone a deeper richness.

Sarah’s black cloud reformed, emitting a tone a half-step higher.  The Gizmo guise began to shimmer and fade.  But it continued to advance, even as Brenda rose and started to back away from it, raising a blaster.  Diana joined her, shakily raising a blaster as well.

Mom, Brenda don’t shoot!”  Melanie screamed.  “It won’t work!”  She raced to Brenda’s side, grabbing at the frontpack.  “Give her to me!  I’ve got to protect her!”

The Gizmo shape bore down on them.  Marty, back in body, turned from Liam and dove toward Gizmo.  Jagged green light flashed out from Gizmo, zapping Marty in the chest and slamming him back a few feet.

Stay back from it!  All of you!”  Somehow she and her mother and Brenda managed to wrestle the frontpack onto Melanie’s chest as Bess’s screams escalated into full-voiced baby hysteria.  God, she hoped Marty was all right.  “Sarah, god damn it, what the fuck is this now?”

<Codes and tones!  We’ve got to use codes and tones!>

Red and black dove toward Marty.  Ness cried out and stooped yet again, fiercely driving it back.  Cat knelt by Marty, fumbling with the trap door chip.

No.  Cat had to do this.  Gizmo.  She had to get Gizmo out of the way.  Then she could help Marty and Cat.  Melanie shook from the sonics emitting from Gizmo.  She sounded the high A note again, her voice quavering from the Gizmo vibrations.  Sarah’s black cloud formed around Melanie’s right hand.  Melanie lifted the hand high, letting the Sarah shape guide her movement.  Bess’s cries changed, resonating with Melanie’s high A.

Gizmo moved away from Melanie as Bess’s cries steadied into a constant high A.

<Sing the codes,>  Sarah directed.

<Let me blink them up.>  As the codes streamed across her visual overlays, Melanie articulated each one.  The Gizmo shape shrank as she chanted the codes in a high A monotone, fading into nothingness, its tremors the last thing to leave.  Melanie sank to her knees as her body stopped shaking.  God.  I’m exhausted.

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Filed under Netwalk Sequence, writer promo stuff

An unforeseen advantage to teaching US History….

….means that golly gosh gee whiz, that so absolutely means the Abigail Adams biography that I’ve been wanting to read for a few years (but always putting aside because of other priorities) has now become a Priority Read.

(Dramatic hand to forehead).

Oh, the agony!  Oh, the hardship!  To be forced to read….

oh heck.  Yeah.  Right.  Considering the period of US history I’m teaching covers Colonial to Reconstruction, this is so definitely a case of don’t throw me in that briar patch.

Methinks it’s time to get serious about researching that steampunk novel.

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Mrs RW, Chipmunk Wrangler….NOT!

Sometimes Monday mornings end up being a bit more…um…surprising than you’d think.  During 8th grade Social Studies, I got a few questions about Black Plague.  Scratched my head, wondering what got the kids off on that tangent.

And then, whilst cleaning up the room before lunch…the janitors came in and started poking around a couple of mystery vents.  Then I got told there was a squirrel in the vent.

Oh.  OH.  I have to wonder if the kids knew about the squirrel since they were, ahem, a bit squirrely in behavior….

Explained a bit.  In any case, once the vent covers came off, a little striped chipmunk was very, very happy to hop out of the vent and into the cage set up outside the vent.  I guess she’s female.  The science teacher whisked her off to his room for food and water, and I suppose eventual release once she’s rehydrated and all.

I’m sure glad I didn’t know about her being there until they got her out!  Goes right along with finding the dust-coated frog that crawled out from under a locker three years ago, and the big forked-horn buck that ambled by the north side of the building last week…to video and pictures from staff.

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Mocha’s Tail

Miss Mocha has always possessed a certain, well, proprietary attitude about her tail; more so than many other horses I’ve known.  Her dam was notorious for being able to aim a lash of her tail into the eyes of a stall mucker that annoyed her; Mocha’s tail doesn’t get braided due to the request of the current stall cleaner.  The Girl learned the skill from her mama, and she’s a expert with the sharp tail (perhaps a reason why she likes to soak her tail in the water bucket?  Now I’ve yet to figure that one out).

Today was hock injection day.  Her usual vet for this procedure manages to tie up Mocha’s tail in a nice knot that Mocha can’t swish out.  I had some extra time before the vet came so I decided to practice my nonexistent braiding skills and create a rough mud tail using braid bands to secure it.

Oh my.  Once I flipped the partially braided tail up (okay, it was a bastard mud tail braid and very loose) and started twining it around her dock, boy, did her head suddenly come up in the cross ties.  She turned her head as far as the ties would allow in one direction, then the other, trying to see what I was doing to Her Tail.  She cooperated, but I’m certain she didn’t necessarily approve.

OTOH, it stayed braided until hocks were injected and I took the braid out in her stall.  She was very calm throughout the whole procedure and allowed me to move her around for the vet’s best access.

It wasn’t her usual vet but the original vet of this hospital.  I’d not had him out before, but he was on rotation this week.  I told him Mocha was Annie’s last foal and he squinted at Mocha, then a picture of Annie, and then said, “Thought so.  I was here when she was foaled.”  I didn’t ask if he’d joined in the imprint training that G’s wife did but I had to wonder, as she was more relaxed with him than I’ve seen her with any of the other vets in the practice.

Interesting.  This horse always keeps me guessing.

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Glimmerings from the not-so-apocalypse

One of the things about dealing with a sudden death after the deceased’s short but swift decline in health, with little preparation, is the massive pile of paperwork that needs to be managed with very few clues.  An anticipated death with time to prepare still has its own trauma and weirdness, but at least there’s closure of some sort or another (one hopes), loose ends are (somewhat) tied up, and Things People Need To Know are (hopefully) laid out with few surprises.

It’s crazy enough dealing with retirees who’ve had a chance to prepare, or with folks holding down a regular job.  But when the sudden stroke of death falls upon folks who are self-employed, and the deceased is the one who’s done all the bookkeeping…well, chaos can ensue.

Which is what we’re dealing with in regard to our friend.  Now DH and I have walked this road already with parents.  We both lost both parents when we were relatively young (in our 30s and early 40s), and in those cases there was some preparation (not in the case of my mother-in-law but certainly with my parents).  But with our friend, not only did her growing decline reduce her ability to do the filing and organizing but she didn’t have time to leave the rest of us with breadcrumbs about how to access e-mail accounts and where certain files were.  Even when you’ve known someone reasonably well for 32 years, you don’t know everything about where they put or do stuff, especially when it comes to accounting and business files.

But we’re getting somewhere and the piles of paperwork are ceasing.  Just–folks?  Even at a relatively young age, for heaven’s sake, document your important financials and how you access them and track them.  Don’t leave it to those you leave behind to play the forensic accounting game. Even if you don’t have a lot of money–actually, especially if you don’t have a lot of money–document.  Talk to your nearest and dearest about how you keep records.  If you don’t like leaving password cookies on your computer, then keep a list where your nearest and dearest can find the passwords.

That’s all on that subject.

School is going well but I hope to be able to back off on the total hours dedicated to support work for the classroom and caseload soon.  The beginning of the year is crucial for setting up documentation and data, and I’m getting there slowly.  The actual teaching isn’t the challenge, it’s all the paperwork and such that goes with it that can bog a teacher down.  I’m enjoying my social studies classes.

Writing–well, all the other stuff is bogging it down, which is annoying since I have some good ideas on Uprising and some good publicity stuff is coming up.  But I’m annoyed that it’s taken me so long to get Uprising out the door.  It should be good, but still….

Horse–horse show coming up at the end of the month.  With reining and trail classes, and the token Western Pleasure classes to practice our rail consistency.

Now back to the mounds of stuff to be done.

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