My dressage court is looking a little ratty. My footing is great. My arena rails are great. What's not so great are my letters. Last June, I built a dressage court with wooden rails and water bottles serving as my letters. It worked great!
Lately, I've noticed that none of my jugs have letters. Many of my jugs have lost their lids, and others have sprung leaks. It's a really cheap DIY project, and normally, I would have replaced the jugs with fresh ones long before now. Except ...
Somehow, I don't think it would be very much appreciated if I waltzed into my local Target and walked out with 12 gallons of bottled water. I think they call that hoarding. Besides that, there's probably a 2 bottle limit. I think it's going to be a while before I get new bottles.
I bet you do too. Fortunately, Facebook has been plastered with funny memes this week. No, COVID-19 isn't a joke, but people are hilarious, and thank goodness they are or else I'd be blubbering under the covers right about now. Letting some of the pressure escape with a good laugh at ourselves can only keep us healthier.
In Prose Works, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, said, "If only the people would believe that good is more contagious than evil [...] how much more certain would be the doctor's success [...]." In this instance, laughter could certainly replace good without changing her meaning. In fact, it only strengthens her point.
With that, here are some of my favorite memes from the past two days.
Is this official?
As a teacher, I can't help but laugh ...
Stuck at Home?
For my fellow equestrians ...
Straight from the heart ...
Thank those folks still going to work - my husband works for an agricultural company, so he just left for work, keep scrubbing your hands, smile at everyone, and find something to laugh about. The British never had it more right than when in 1939 they encouraged their people to Keep Calm and Carry On.
I showed up to the ranch the other day to find all of Izzy's toys flung over the fence again. It's a daily thing now. The barrel has been the one toy that he hasn't managed to fling at Speedy. That doesn't mean he hasn't tried.
I am not sure how calculated was the attempt, it no doubt began as an accident, but that barrel was very nearly on Speedy's side. This isn't a light weight plastic thing either. It's heavy. It's solid. And it is obviously the world's greatest toy.
Of course, Operation Blue Barrel wouldn't have been possible without a prior mission - the one where he dug a giant hole under the fence. That maneuver was probably done in an effort to actually get himself over to Speedy's side.
I mean when you think about it, it's quite extraordinary that he got the barrel to the hole. He had to have thought about that for quite a while. Did he look at the hole and then look at the barrel and calculate how much effort it would take to roll it across his field? And how did he keep his aim so true? Did it take him all night? Did he rest in between efforts?
Once he finally got the barrel poised at the hole, did he have a plan in place for what to do with it once he got it there? Did he think Speedy was going to help him? That hole is pretty deep, but what made him think it was going to fit?
I tried to pull it back out of the hole, but it was wedged in there so tightly that I had to go over to Speedy's side and finish pulling it through. Izzy of course just sat and watched me. Once it was free, I heaved it back over the fence and watched it bounce and roll until it gradually settled in a mound of sand. Speedy was out on the lawn. There is no way I could have done all that with him watching. It would have terrified him. The big brown horse? He just watched in absolute delight.
And then because it was clearly game on, he sauntered up to the abandoned feed trough and climbed up. He stared right at me and began to pound out a rhythm ... bang, bang, bang. I was certain it was Morse Code for let's get it started in here.
I finally joined him in a game of I am going to jump on you. While standing on the feed trough, I "tried" to jump up on his back, but every time I bent my knees to push up, he swung his head around and nibbled at my legs. I crouched, he nibbled, I burst out laughing. It's really hard to leap up on the back of a 16'3 hand horse from a 10 inch "stool." It's impossible when you have the giggles.
Who knows how long the game would have gone on? When I spotted the ranch owner walking our way, I quit that "foolishness." When she came over to check on the other holes that Izzy had dug, he found it totally awesome that we now had a three-player game. Instead, she and I retreated to a safe distance. He can be a bit of a pest.
Izzy is a player for sure.
Horses are expensive. I've written about that extensively here, here, and here. And as we all know, it's not just horses; mortgages, cars, groceries, shampoo ... they're all expensive, especially if you live a First World existence. To make ends meet, I teach fifth grade.
In all honesty, my salary is a good one, and my health benefits are second to none. My salary isn't exactly consummate with my level of education though. But whose is? The 49ers quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, signed a five-year contract worth a guaranteed 137.5 million. Dollars. My husband earned his B.S. and now makes twice what I do. Neither of them has taken more classes than I have. I clearly should have learned to play a sport or review banking contracts as pay both better than what teachers make.
Since I don't make 27.5 million a year like Garoppolo, I've had to figure out ways to either stretch the dollars I do earn or find a way to earn a few more. One thing I could stop doing is spending so much on my classroom. Just this month I've spent $100 on classroom rewards and parties. That's my feed bill for the month. But since no teacher ever chose this career because she wanted to get rich, I've had to find other ways to subsidize my salary. One way I've done that is with detention.
Our Parent Club pays for someone to monitor students during our lunch time recess. Our kids go to lunch at 12:00 and spend up to 30 minutes getting their lunch trays and eating. As a side note, my district provides our schools with pretty good lunches, including a legit salad bar. Beginning at about 12:20, kids who have finished can head out to the playground for recess until 1:00. Kids who have been assigned detention get to line up to eat first, but then they sit at a table in the back of the cafeteria. The detention teacher picks them up at 12:30 and walks them back to his or her room where they miss lunch recess.
I earn about $15 dollars each time I monitor detention which is every Friday and Monday. It's not much, and it's not exactly fun dealing with the naughty kids who get assigned detention, but I remind myself that it's paying for Speedy's Prascend - his prescription to control his Cushing's Disease. Over the years, I've used the money I earn monitoring detention to pay for shows, boots, vet bills, and a host of other things.
I am about a third of the way through what it will take to pay for Speedy's next box of Prascend. Each box of 160 tablets costs me $342.02. A full time card will generally cover that cost and maybe leave me with enough money for lunch.
Will work for drug money is my new motto.
You know that by "he" I must be talking about Izzy. I am not one for too many gizmos and gadgets, but I am this close to buying a "baby cam" so that I can watch what the big brown horse does all day.
I know for sure that he does at least three things: eat, poop, and nap. He probably does more pooping than anything else. I wish someone could convince him to do it in one neat pile like Speedy does. Izzy is the most indiscriminate pooper I have ever met. He poops wherever he's standing which is usually in his hay pile which means his hay is always mixed in with his poop. Just gross, Dude!
The other thing he does is fling stuff at Speedy. He has a variety of things that he likes to pick up and throw, so I hope he's not actually hitting Speedy with any of them. On any given day, his traffic cone and purple jolly ball are on Speedy's side of the fence. His big blue barrel, which you can see is still on his side, also gets a lot of attention. It's never in the same place, and fortunately, it has proven too cumbersome for him to toss over the fence. I bet he has tried though.
He's a lot like Yellow Dog, our youngest lab. She grabs any toy that she thinks will entice us to play with her and gleefully tries to shove it in our hands or faces, whichever is most convenient. I am assuming that Izzy does the same thing to Speedy. He would be in HEAVEN if Speedy were to actually grab something and play tug of war. That will never happen; Speedy would be aghast to put something dirty in his mouth.
None of Izzy's shenanigans bother me too much except for that black feed pan. It's supposed to live in his hay feeder so that I can pour in his beet pulp slurry without it getting dumped all over the ground. It doesn't matter what day it is or what the weather has been, that feed pan is always, always somewhere else. Most days, it's at the far end of his field on Speedy's side which is a good 50 feet away. I am desperate to know whether he carries it down there in one go, or does he drop it along the way only to pick it up and continue on his journey.
One of these day I just might catch him in the act!
I am not one to see a whole month as being evil, but, January, you really did me wrong.
It all started on the 3rd, my 49th birthday. The nines have been historically difficult for me; 29, 39, 49. The tens always come as a relief; 30, 40, ... 50? How is that even a birthday? It feels like a death sentence. When I was 17, 50 was like old. Grandpa old. Now I am married to a 50 year old. Turning 49 was like a sock to the gut. I might have cried a few times. I hope 50 is as much of a relief as 40 was.
About the time that I acknowledged that being older was better than the alternative, the second week of January slammed into me. I apparently wasn't feeling enough gratitude about merely being alive, so the Universe thought I needed to be reminded of my mortality by giving me a little shove. Here, have a cold, you ungrateful little snot.
Just when I was feeling like I had life back under control, I had a CDS Chapter meeting which got me home after 9:00 pm. I leave for work around 5:30 a.m., so it was a hellishly long day. I had to work late into the early evening the next day, and then yellow dog started to have her stifle issue. Which by the way seems to have cleared up, but still, I missed another three days of riding.
By the middle of the month, I was starting to wonder if I would never again ride my horses on a Wednesday. I must have had a premonition because that's about the time I started worrying about the pimple that was really a spider bite. Dealing with that monstrosity really ate up the next week. The last steri strip just fell off this morning. I now have a reddish bump which I am hoping will eventually fade.
I started looking forward to the final week of January. There was no way it could be as jammed packed with visits to doctors as the first three-quarters of the month had been. I had an earlier dental appointment, but since it's not on the calendar, I must have still made it to the barn. While at the dentist, he found a tiny little something that needed shoring up, so it was back to a medical professional on the first day of the week. I guess I should have been grateful that it wasn't on a Wednesday.
And here we are on the last day of the month. It took paying homage to the gods of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I might have had to sacrifice a few cute bunnies (not really), because I've finally gotten back on schedule. I actually managed to ride on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Both horses seemed a little surprised.
Always one to find the silver lining though, I read through my entries for the month and noted that we had some really good riding days. There were some wonky ones in there too, but let's not look at those. So for now, good riddance to this first month of the year. My fingers are crossed for a quieter February.
And, February, just because you have an extra day this year, don't even think about messing with me!
Over the weekend, Speedy and I got a long overdue lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables. With our move to Third Level this past summer, Speedy and I have struggled with bend and forward. He can either bend, or he can go forward. What he can't do, or at least what he thinks he can't do, is go forward with bend.
The exercise Chemaine set up for us attacked both of those things, the bend and the forward. Because Speedy was so adamant that he COULD NOT DO IT, I have to show you a series of photos, all captured from one, 10-minute video, and truthfully, most of the photos were from a 5 minute stretch.
They are hilarious, and they are posted in order. I can't guarantee that the statements below were what Speedy was thinking, but I think it was pretty close. It all started with a gentle warning ... his to me.
Stay tuned for the actual lesson ...
I am a perpetual clock and calendar watcher. I need to know the time at any given minute of the day. Same thing for the date. I recently finished reading The Wall, a post apocalyptic novel where the main character also worries about the time until her time pieces fail. Why would you need to worry about the time after the apocalypse?
By the way, the apocalypse is a favorite day dreaming topic of mine. How nice it would be to simply worry about getting food, finding shelter, and not dying from whatever catastrophe that has tried to wipe out mankind. Sometimes, the apocalypse seems preferable to whatever First World problems I am currently struggling with.
Back to the time and date.
Each December I wait patiently for the next year's calendar. In the past I used to get 2 or 3 as gifts. The last few years, I've had to buy my own. The weird thing is that I am super picky about my calendar. I prefer the pages to be attached with wire because they hang flatter. I also need big squares for writing.
This year, I bought my calendar from Amazon. It took a bit of hunting, but I found the perfect will-reorder-it-again calendar. It uses wire to hold the pages together, win. Not only are the squares large, but there are also lines for notes, another win. And then, making all of my dreams come true, there is space for a To-Do list and additional Notes. We have a winner, folks!
I keep the calendar hanging at the barn for use as a daily log or journal. I write down how the horses look, it's called an SG check and an Iz check. On the days I ride, I note for how long and "grade" the ride. I also note any wounds or anything that's Not Quite Right (NQR).
Keeping a quick daily log has proven incredibly useful when something crops up. I can look back to see when that "thing" first started and how long it's taking to heal. I can also answer the vet's questions more intelligently. Instead of it's been there "awhile," I can be very specific.
The notes also remind me that we enjoy far more good days together than bad. Even though the wounds, lamenesses, and jackassery seem to rule my world, they don't. At the end of each month, the squares are always filled with more hearts and smiley faces than grouchy ones.
Does anyone else keep a daily journal?
I spend a lot of time riding my horses, but I balance that with just hanging out with them, too. We go for hand walks, I let them graze on the lawn while I clean tack, and sometime I just sit on the fence and tickle their noses. Izzy's. Speedy's into standing close, but he's not into the touchy feely stuff.
I rarely catch Speedy napping. I knows he lays down to rest at night because his face, belly, and butt get pretty muddy, and at shows, his tail gets filled with shavings. I just don't get to catch him at it. Izzy doesn't let me catch him napping on a regular basis, but he does like a mid-morning snooze.
Izzy's a lot lazier than Speedy, so if I happen to catch him snoozing, he'll keep laying there as long as I don't seem like I am in any hurry. And if I am really respectful, he'll let me hug and pet him. After snapping a few awkward selfies though, he gave a me "to hell with this" look and heaved himself back up onto his feet. That was the end of that special moment.
The rewarding thing about spending time just hanging out with my guys is that I get to experience a lot of quiet moments that I don't get to see when I am saddling quickly to beat the clock.
While our resident bunny is still quite skittish, he greets me almost daily, begging for his handful of senior feed. On this day, he actually stood up on his hind legs right under Izzy's belly. I quickly tossed his treat underneath the trailer so that Izzy didn't inadvertently step on him and scare the crap out of them both.
Whether it's in the dead of winter or the heat of summer, I like those non-riding moments just as much as the ones where each footfall is magical. Horses, man, they're in my soul.