Friday, November 30, 2007

seeking light(ness)

This week has been full of changes regarding horse management and riding methods. On Monday a new barefoot trim practitioner came to do a consult on all four horses' feet. At the end of a nearly 3-hour no-charge consultation, I had four horses in the front field encircling him, completely absorbed in his presence.

As a result of his visit, I'm feeling good about a number of things I already have in place that lead to good hoof health. I'll be cutting back on processed feed - slow but steady until we cut it out entirely. Keil Bay is getting hoof boots to wear on his front feet while under saddle so that he can get the comfort he needs to land heel first. I have a new remedy for thrush/yeast. And finally, I'll be learning to trim their hooves myself!

It was cool and misty and foggy on Monday morning but it felt like we'd found the light in an area of horse management that's been very murky for me.

I've also been working on the issue of lightness with the driving aids. We've struggled with the instruction to "smack him harder" - him being the pony. It's gotten to the point I feel like screaming when I hear that phrase. We're ditching the whips to work with Marlis Amato on what she calls effortless cooperation. A touch of the leg to the horse's side is all it takes. The first session is scheduled for, appropriately, the afternoon of winter solstice.

All this is coming to pass this week as I ready to begin work on the YA "magical pony" novel I've been simmering for several years. I'm seeking light in that area as well. A title for this story whose action begins on the eve of winter solstice.

In a way, I'll be writing toward the light that winter solstice brings.

Here's to a light-filled December.

Monday, November 26, 2007

nearly full november moon

A few nights ago, my daughter and I were out doing barn chores when I noticed this gorgeous moon had risen over the back field. Suddenly everything became quite magical and I realized that exact feeling is what I want to capture in my YA novel that thus far has one chapter written over a year ago.

Starting December 1st, I'm planning to get busy and get a first draft done. I hadn't planned this until late one night near the end of October when some writers were posting about doing NanoWriMo. I got excited and jumped on the bandwagon. As is typical for me, I took the whole thing a step further and decided to do not only a November writing project but a December one too.

It never occurred to me until several weeks later that the YA novel begins on the winter solstice, so doing it in December will be perfect.

This photo is a reminder to me of the mood of that evening. I'm looking forward to some writing in the barn.

Friday, November 23, 2007

back to work

I've taken a bit of a break on my November writing project, giving that energy to mystic-lit the past week. Now that the new blog is rolling somewhat independently, I've returned to the nonfiction book.

This morning I typed into 22k, which means I'm continuing to inch along. What I have is fairly complete, but more like the skeleton and muscle. Now I'm fleshing it out.

I'm planning to continue until the last day of November. December 1st, I'll begin the YA novel in earnest. More about that then.

If you're working on a writing project this month, feel free to share your progress, your stuck places, whatever.

And, if you visit here and consider yourself a writer, think about submitting something to me for a guest blog slot over at mystic-lit.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

thanks giving

I'm reprising the Wendell Berry poem I've shared here before:

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I'm blogging today at mystic-lit, so after you're done here, come on over there and say hello too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

two little bits of magic

Over the weekend I was out at the barn and found this tiny nest. The winds from the day before must have blown it down. I was immediately charmed by its size, but when I looked more closely I realized it has tail hairs from each of our horses woven into it.

Keil Bay's black with burnished brown, Salina's true black, Cody's chestnut, and Apache Moon's white. What treasure for our nature shelf.

Today I was raking leaves in the fog while the horses ate hay nearby. Our fields have trees and this time of year I try to keep up with the falling leaves as best I can so the winter grass will grow in.

Raking leaves is tiring work. It seems to particularly stress my right shoulder, so I alternate. I still manage to end up with a blister and an ache.

Even so, something about raking leaves has always appealed, and I figured out why today.

It's like when you clean up after a wonderful party. The left-behind glasses and plates remind you of who ate what and which conversation from the night before took place around that end of the table.

Raking leaves is like cleaning up after the the trees' fall fling. If you do it early, as the leaves fall, it's like raking color into piles. Painting with leaves.

And one's progress is so easily seen, the earth seems bare without its leaves, but today the bits of green meant forage for horses and also that it's rained.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

dragons as princesses

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

-Rainer Marie Rilke


I'm taking a wonderful workshop this fall that has to do with using fairy tales in psychotherapy and sandplay therapy. Yesterday we discussed the fairy tales we each selected at the beginning of the workshop - the one fairy tale that resonated with us at this point in our lives, or at any point.

My immediate thought was The Princess and the Pea. I discovered yesterday that my memory of the tale was very different than the actual tale. I had forgotten that the Prince was looking for a "real" princess, and that his mother, the Queen, had instituted the peas (not one, but three) beneath the stack of 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds as a test to find the true princess - the one sensitive enough to feel the peas.

I had forgotten that the real Princess shows up at the palace gate in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm, and that she is put to bed on top of the stack of mattresses and peas. When she awakens black and blue she is announced to be a Real Princess and marries the Prince.

Part of my work at hand is to discover the meaning of this fairy tale to me personally. Why did I immediately think of it when asked about a fairy tale?

I'm looking at the characters in the tale as aspects of my self. The Prince is the masculine energy and the princess feminine. The Queen mother is a sort of taskmaster and manipulator who devises tests and determines results.

I'm still working on it. I suspect the key has to do with the quest for something Real and the extreme sensitivity - how to transform that into power without turning black and blue in the process. The marriage would be the union of masculine and feminine into wholeness.

What is YOUR favorite fairy tale? Or the one that comes to mind first when you read this?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Mystic-lit is a project I've been simmering for at least 6 months, and I'm really happy to announce that it's officially rolling as of this week, thanks in part to the energy and enthusiasm of a a very gifted writing colleague.

I'll be blogging on Wednesdays over there and I hope you'll take the time to come say hello. We've got a line-up of writers ready to talk craft and process and all things writerly.

Come join the conversation!

Monday, November 12, 2007


The colors this fall are stunning. My landscape photographer husband says drought makes for gorgeous fall color. Every time I drive the past week and a half, it takes a mammoth effort to keep my eyes on the road. They wander to the trees, like looking at a sweeping canvas, except no painting I've ever seen manages to capture the color of sunlight through autumn leaves.

Nevertheless, those of us who write and paint and photograph seem bent on trying.

This year there are two trees bordering the driveway that have made me happy every single day. My own private gallery showing. I've not managed to bring their vibrancy to this page, but the photo is in honor of all the trees.


On other fronts: I am hovering at the 19k mark with my writing project, and hoping to get back to a routine this week.

I spent yesterday at a Pony Club clinic with my daughter and her pony, and Saturday was spent getting ready. Yesterday we were up at 5 a.m. and got home in the dark. After a really long day riding and wrapping pony legs and learning about things like horse deworming strategies, she unloaded her pony and the next thing I knew, she was riding him bareback in the pink haze of our lighted arena.

There isn't enough time in the day for all the horsey things.

Today I have Salina and Keil Bay to ride. Cody has a young woman coming over to ride him (her horse is on stall rest), and my daughter has a lesson on her pony. I'm thinking about taking the laptop out to the barn and writing in between all the riding.

A final note for today: assessing vs obsessing worked. I have a highly-regarded barefoot hoof practitioner coming in two weeks to consult about all the horse feet here. If you're not a horse person, you probably don't know that farriers and trimmers, the good ones, are hard to come by and often not taking new clients. So I'm relieved and thrilled to be on his schedule.

And - it's raining! And the tarp is off the shavings pile, so I have to run.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

finding the flow

Monday my daily word count dropped to 800 words, which I was okay with, and yesterday was a total wash. Tuesdays are my busiest days and I got sidetracked after the farrier's visit. Keil Bay has mild thrush in his hind feet and this led to research and more research today. Apparently thrush is most common in horses with contracted heels, which can result from poor trimming or simply be the natural shape of the horse's foot. Either way, I need to assess this. The operative word here, for me, is ASSESS. AS opposed to OBSESS.

Writing-wise my goal for today is to find the flow again and get at least my daily quota. Generally what works is to re-read the entire piece and slide back into the rhythm of the writing.

Fortunately, today is much less structured and I have the time to do that.

UPDATE: I managed to get around 1k written yesterday and another 1k this morning (Thursday) and just topped 18k total - so I feel I'm back in business! I hope to go into the weekend with 20k. We'll see...

Monday, November 05, 2007


Funny - after my last post I woke up this morning to find the "word of the day" in my inbox was ... woolgathering.

Perfect! I'll be imagining myself collecting bits of brightly colored wool all day, and weaving them into something lovely tonight.

Just had to dash out the door to see what Keil Bay was hyena-shrieking about. Alas, he and the pony were having one of their frosty morning play sessions. Keil Bay goes down onto his knees in order to bite the pony's belly. They ended with a flying gallop up the hill and some quite lovely trot circles.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

time changing and other things

I'm feeling sad about the time change tonight. It will be dark when I GET to my office some days, and the horses will come in earlier now.

I'll adjust, but I expect to feel perpetually behind for a week or so, and I already feel like that enough of the time.

A good thing for the writing life, though, more hours in the evening, and I came upon this quote just now that seems appropriate:

"Stories are medicine ... they have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything -- we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

I have an aspiration to sit by the woodstove on a series of cold winter nights and knit myself a poncho. This is complicated by the fact that I don't know how to knit. I'm not likely to tackle this complication in time for this season, but instead I'm going to think of myself knitting with words. A story that remedies.

Addendum: I was looking through some old writing this a.m., looking for a particular passage that I thought might fit into the work. Didn't find it, but did come upon this dream I had back in 2005:

a huge garden (writing) spider built a gigantic web over my bed - it was thick and wide, the shape of a book when lying open. woven into it was a cross (runic cross??) there was a beautiful hummingbird hovering behind the web, trying to get through, but the web was so thick ... and then it began to glow, gold and green.

My gosh - I have absolutely no memory of that. What a wonderful dream. This is why we should write them down - we forget, even the ones we don't think we will.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

first day - writing update

I tried to get a photo of the partners in zen today to kick off this month's new project writing frenzy, but the battery in my camera died and I haven't had a chance to recharge.

However, I did get my 2k words done and am quite pleased - I had writing group today and so had to prepare the section from my second novel to read there. I was worried I'd get crunched and start off behind with the new work.

Hope everyone else doing this had a great first day. Here's to the second one!

UPDATE: As of right now, Sat. evening, I am inching toward 11k total words. And very happy with how this is going!