We got hit with the trailing edge of the early autumn snowpocalypse here in Northeastern Oregon. No snow on the valley floor that lasted for very long (a skiff at higher elevations in the valley that melted off), but snow in the mountains–not that we could see them all weekend. This morning, though, I came out of the bedroom to the full glory of snow-covered Wallowas–always a stunning sight.
One of my Facebook friends commented this morning that she has reverse SAD, and the coming of cooler weather and cloudy skies always seems to reboot her brain to be more effective. I’ve found that to be the case for myself as well. This summer was one of my better ones, thanks to cooler temperatures and the Summer Ritual (basically, going out in the back yard about 9 pm with chair and drink, and staring at the Milky Way for an hour or so while waiting for the evening cooling breeze to kick in. Only works when we’re not choked up by wildfire smoke–and yes, it’s quite visible. The advantage of being in a small town). All the same, the brain wasn’t quite kicking in like it should, even though I was cranking out an average of about 2000 words a day on Judgment of Honor. Judgment has been about the only thing I’ve been able to write. No essays. No blog posts. No promotion for Choices of Honor (though I’m also focusing on getting a big promotion prepared once I release Judgment).
On the other hand, the Summer Ritual included a lot of thinking about the development of Judgment, followed by journaling what I’d been thinking about. It does seem to be a useful pattern, and something I’m going to try to carry on (not the sitting outside staring at the sky part in winter, nope!). Journaling on both paper and pixels really does help my writing process.
But much of what I’ve been thinking about lately has been the march of time and savoring the best parts of nature around me. For some reason I seem to be able to be more in the moment this year. That’s been a good thing.
Meanwhile, we’re getting a lot of action at the bird feeder. A family flock of about ten evening grosbeaks is coming to forage on the ground underneath the main feeder, along with a similar-sized flock of white-crowned sparrows. The quail come in occasionally. Siskins and goldfinches are arguing over the nyger feeder, and finches, chickadees, and juncos fight over the sunflower seeds. Then there’s the four-legged visitors. During the Summer Ritual, I’d occasionally startle up the town deer drifting through the yard to feed. They were not happy about the human sitting in the yard and I got several disgruntled looks. Last night I looked out the window to see a forked horn buck lying down under the feeder. I spooked him off–no need for him to develop that habit.
Mocha is getting back to her old self in many ways. I seem to have discovered the way to keep her from going lame in the arena only to be sound the minute her hooves leave it. Part of it is getting very strict about riding in contact and collection again–she finally seems to have the strength to do that again. Another part is schooling even on the roads. We did a lot of short but intense works at walk and trot on the gravel roads, with lateral work being a big part of it. I finally figured out that she has shoulder issues, and the way to combat those issues is to keep her from slopping around on her front end, but also doing the lateral pieces–working on counterbend and two-tracking, primarily. Two-tracking serpentines on the road as well as standard two-tracking (two-tracking is moving sideways and forward. Straight is just how it sounds, while two-tracking serpentines means working in curving lines while going forward and sideways). Now that we’re back at the ranch, she gets a short period of bitting up in the round pen at walk and trot, because she’s also been getting heavy in my hands while doing this work. Bitting up helps her get off of my hands.
At first she was grumpy about the contact (for about three rides). Then muscle memory kicked in. We had much less stumbling riding downhill on gravel, even when I rode her down from the pasture in just a halter and lead. And she seems to be happy with the work.
The other piece of keeping her arena-sound? Support boots on her forelegs. Now I know that conventional wisdom says those boots don’t do much. However, my old trainer used to swear by them, especially for older horses. It’s in part a psychological piece for Mocha because she spent many years working in boots. But between collection and boots, we have much fewer incidences of her catching her toe (usually the right one) and hobbling along (something she also did on the roads but would recover from). One of the issues is that she was struggling with pain when we moved here, and she had memories of working in pain in the arena. So I have been working on creating new memories of successful, painless arena work. Seems to be effective so far.
This summer I also have been developing a collection of science fiction-themed quilting things. Table runners, bowl cozies, and potholders, mainly, but I’ve also made an apron and a wall hanging. From a survey of Etsy, I’ve found that there are a LOT of science fiction-themed oven mitts and aprons (more mitts than aprons) but not so many table runners, bowl cozies, and potholders. A lot of those are also media tie-ins. So I’ve been sewing table runners, bowl cozies, and potholders. One cozy earned a blue ribbon at the county fair. A potholder set earned a red, as did a wall hanging. The table runner didn’t place, but hey, it was only the second one of that design. I’ve decided to start putting things in convention art shows and start up a shop on Etsy. That should launch by the middle of October. I just need to get pictures of the current stock.
In any case, I am hoping that now that the heat is going away, I can be productive.
Boy am I going to be in bad shape as climate change progresses. Guess it’s a good thing that I am old, because I’m clearly one who is not going to adapt well to these changes. Le sigh.