Tuesday, July 28, 2009

two treatments in (out of a projected 12)

As of yesterday, the inflammation from the fall is nearly gone, my level of pain has decreased significantly, and it no longer hurts to get up and down. The prognosis is that I will be pain-free by week's end.

I'm still not doing chores, bending over, lifting, etc., and am continuing to alternate walking/sitting/standing/lying down to avoid back strain.

Doctor said yesterday I should be able to resume some normal activity next Monday, including riding, preferably at the walk, but definitely no sitting trot or canter until things are further along.

There are times now when I don't feel anything in my back - what pleasure that is! And every day I feel improvement.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

quick little update

I've discovered that I have a rotated pelvic joint which is putting pressure on a disc and is likely the structural misalignment responsible for my psoas muscle being tight on and off on a regular basis for the past two years.

I fell down the stairs last night, in a completely separate and sort of intriguing moment, which I'm referring to as a "wake-up fall," and in a stroke of good fortune my ND had just referred me the day before yesterday to a wonderful Swiss MD/chiropractor who is now offering treatment, which I started today.

The most fascinating aspect of this is that my pelvic rotation exactly mirrors Keil Bay's most common chiropractic issue. It amazes me that he and I not only share the same homeopathic constitutional remedy, the same slight stiffness to the left, but we also have the same pelvic rotation!

Slightly less fascinating, but interesting nonetheless, is that my struggles with my riding position over the past two years are a direct result of this issue. When the doctor put the diagrams on the screen today, I immediately realized why it has been so hard to straighten my lower back and to get my legs in the correct position without shifting my upper body forward.

The good news is that my x-rays reveal a very healthy spine from top to bottom. The prognosis is full recovery with no loss of normal motion. And the doctor has reminded me, gently, that I need to get some extra weight off.

I am not able to ride or do barn chores for around 10 days, and I am walking around like a very old woman right now. But hopefully things will be back to a very good place in about a month.

I didn't know all this when I decided to take a break from the blog, but as is often the case, I guess I sort of did "know."

I'll try to post a few little updates but for now, I'm taking care of my back and looking forward to being back in the saddle, better than ever, come fall.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

taking a break until September

I may post a few photos here and there, but have decided to close up shop for awhile to focus on daily life.

Enjoy the season - see you in September!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

slow weekend and the conundrum

We had a thunderstorm last night, some more rain, and temps are now below 90 for the week, if the forecast is correct.

This morning I sweated more doing yoga (16 poses that will change your life - but I did only 8) than I did doing barn chores!

I'm still struggling with tightness in the lower back. I can stretch it out with yoga, can ease it with a rolled blanket, and also by lying flat, but I suspect the real cure is to go out and ride.

The hard part of that is getting motivated to do what it takes to be in the saddle, moving. I guess it's one of those things where you have to push through the hard part to get to the good part.

And it's also a lesson in not letting oneself get to the hard place, in the first place. One of those things I have to learn over and over again.

Simply said: if riding makes your body (not to mention mind and soul) happy, do it every day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

awakening the root chakra

Yesterday morning I did a yoga class that was supposed to awaken the root chakra. It was wonderful! We did kriyas, which were fun and a bit wild, and in one meditation I became the big oak tree that stands just outside our barn. Morning chores were delightful. I was stretched and happy.

Late in the afternoon, I realized that I not only awakened the root chakra, I may have sent it into a state of overdrive!

It's interesting that the root chakra is our base of support and groundedness, and the only thing that brought relief to the incredible tightness in my lower back last evening was laying on/leaning against a rolled blanket. A bolster of support.

I suspect the lower back issue is a BIG reminder that when I don't ride, my connection to the earth slips. Yesterday morning was the perfect one to tack up and enjoy the cool air, the ethereal fog, and Keil Bay's big movement. In a sort of magical counterintuitiveness, his lightness grounds me, in the very best way.

This morning it is sunny and already getting humid and hot. I need to find a yoga class that will soothe and gently stretch my back. Meanwhile I am typing with a rolled blanket behind me, and hopefully the barn and the Big Bay will take care of the rest.

interesting p/s the first:

I just did 20 minutes of a yoga class focusing on establishing a foundation, and now, sitting here eating my breakfast, I can literally feel the tightness releasing. It literally feels like it's draining out the bottom of my back.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

in a fog (literally), and sandplay

When I woke up this morning it was slightly cloudy and 59 degrees outside - the lowest low we've had this summer. It really felt like we'd entered a different season! I sat down at the computer to check email and when I next looked out, only twenty minutes or so later, the world had gone foggy.

So much so that I initially thought maybe it was smoke, and I went out to check. But it's a huge batch of fog that rolled in, silently:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

-Carl Sandburg

I was going to take photos, but can't find my camera!

On other fronts, I've been working in my garret upstairs. My sandtrays are all set up, and I'm unpacking miniatures. Slowly, the garret is filling up with my collection, and it's hard to explain how it feels to have it here at home.

Each of the pieces is something I added because in some way I was drawn to it, or felt it would be important to a client to use in the sandplay work. Most of the pieces have, by this time, been used in many trays over the years. A number of the pieces were important to clients, and were used repeatedly in trays, and others were used in final trays, representing the shift to wholeness.

In some ways the unpacking process feels like handling those little bottles in the last Harry Potter movie - the ones that held memories. The miniatures carry a lot of energy, and it's almost irreverent to unpack them too quickly. I feel I need to handle each one with an open mind, before placing it on the shelf or surface in the garret. So it's taking awhile to do, but it's special time and a good way to let the garret stretch and absorb.

Once I have everything set up, I'll do a tray to initiate the new space.

Returned To Say

When I face north a lost Cree
on some new shore puts a moccasin down,
rock in the light and noon for seeing,
he in a hurry and I beside him

It will be a long trip; he will be a new chief;
we have drunk new water from an unnamed stream;
under little dark trees
he is to find a path
we both must travel because we have met.

Henceforth we gesture even by waiting;
there is a grain of sand on his knifeblade
so small he blows it and while his breathing
darkens the steel his become set

And start a new vision: the rest of his life.
We will mean what he does. Back of this page
the path turns north. We are looking for a sign.
Our moccasins do not mark the ground.

-William Stafford

Monday, July 13, 2009

dark skies, thunder, RAIN, and gorgeous geldings

When I went to bed last night there was a chance of rain, wind, and hail - we got lightning and thunder and maybe 24 drops of rain.

This morning, though, the weather radar showed a pretty intense storm band moving in, and the wind whipped up, the thunder boomed, and we finally, thankfully, got a steady, soaking rain that lasted several hours. Everyone around here needed it.

By the time my son and I went out to feed breakfast and get chores done, the intense weather had moved on and we were left with a light sprinkling.

It's been awhile since we had a rainy day like this, and I decided my son should take the geldings into the arena so they could get some exercise, clean their feet out, and give me room to get their stalls set up.

I was thrilled to see them immediately go into big, beautiful movement mode. Cody looked fabulous, Keil Bay was moving so well I wanted to stand up on the picnic table, put his saddle on, and sail onto his back during the extended trot sequences. (the bucking bits I could do without!)

The pony too was doing his fancy stuff, and they had a good time. Galloping, flying changes, big trots, rearing and bucking, head tossing. I don't think my son has experienced that in a long time, and he could barely keep the smile off his face.

Big, beautiful, exuberant horses offer JOY.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

honest scrap award

Wendy over at HorseAdventures gave me this award - thanks, Wendy! Her blog is a daily read, and I hope you'll head over and see what she's up to.

Now for the 10 Honest Things:

1. I am in the middle of a fairly major indoor clean up. My garret has been neglected for half a year, and somehow moving to a new writing project lit a fire under me to get the garret cleaned and organized. Lest you think this is not a legitimate "honest thing," I'll add that I am dealing with some dried spots of cat pee, dead ladybugs, many cobwebs, and dust that has incorporated itself into the furniture.

2. The entire barn is a continuous cob web right now. I tell myself it is cheap, natural, fly control, but alas, I need to deal with it soon.

3. My favorite alcoholic drink used to be Pernod. I haven't had it in awhile, but I can taste the anise in my mouth just thinking about it. Surprisingly it's good mixed with either orange juice or cranberry juice.

4. We are battling fleas at the moment. Only two of the animals are sensitive, but I'm trying not to use Advantage and although the alternatives are much less expensive, they are incredibly time-consuming.

5. I have not ridden at all in the month of July. Sigh. But I am doing yoga almost every day.

6. Adorable little Redford kicked the dear husband 3x today! We are hitting that point of little donkey jack attitude, and will have to manage it wisely until cool weather returns. :)

7. I have all the fun blogging about horses and donkeys and cats and Corgis - BUT - I have a husband, son, and daughter who are involved on a daily basis with the care and feeding of all of the above. I am very lucky.

8. We have a luscious, organically raised beef barbecue slow-cooking in the oven. And organic green beans to go with it. But husband and I ate lunch from the Taco Bell drive-through and then headed off on our childless Sunday afternoon (they are at my mom's house) to explore a never-traveled road.

9. About every other month, during a certain time of said month, I indulge in Lay's potato chips and French onion dip made with Lipton's soup mix and full-fat sour cream.

10. I will almost always choose salty over sweet. (see above)

Nearly everyone imaginable has already received this award! If you want it, and you're visiting here, I hereby hand it over and invite you to share some things on YOUR blog. Don't forget to let me know so I can come congratulate you and read your 10 honest things.

Thanks again, Wendy!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

and the results are...

The numbers offered were:


Yesterday morning I wrote down:

pony book

nonfiction book

and then went to a random number generator site and requested two numbers between 1 and 100.

The numbers generated were:

3, which I assigned to the pony book


57, which I assigned to the nonfiction book.

I then collected your numbers until midnight.

It was a tie until Sheaffer came along and tipped the scale toward the nonfiction book!

The most interesting part of this is that if you add up all the numbers, including the randomly generated numbers I assigned, you get 367.

If you add those numbers you get 16, and if you add those you get...

my most favorite and lucky number!


Which is commonly considered to be a spiritual number, and the nonfiction book is spiritual in nature.

I love it when things connect up so well.

Thank you all for helping me make a decision. It's exciting to be moving on with the next project!

finished the novel edits! now need your help!

Yesterday afternoon I finally, FINALLY, finished the edits on my third novel manuscript. As usual, I felt a little sad that I had come to the end of it, and while printing it out (I always keep a hard copy of the final draft), I got caught up reading passages as I waited for the pages to emerge from the printer.

For anyone who writes and has completed a novel or other book-length project, you know this feeling. It's an odd mixture of glee and emptiness. And it can happen any number of times with any given ms because sometimes what we *think* is the final draft isn't.

This particular ms is going off to a very particular reader, so until I actually box the thing up and get it in the mail I'm not completely done with it. And when it comes back with feedback I'll certainly be taking it up again, but for now, emotionally, I'm done.

Also as usual, about 15 minutes after I put the entire stack of pages into their box, The Next Book began to screech at me, in this case, two of them.

One is a middle grade novel that has been sitting in my head for several years. I have about 4 chapters and a lot of notes and an idea of where it's going.

The other one is nonfiction, has also been sitting in my head for a good while, and for that one I have about 150 pages done and every chapter is at least named and blurbed.

My resolution for 2009 was to go through these books, one at a time, in the order they came to me. This is murky with these two, though, as I can't quite remember which one came first, and I'm eager to work on both again. The thing I don't want to do is vacillate between them, getting a little bit done on one, and then another bit done on the other.

So today is about making a decision and then moving on with it.

To that end I'd like to do a little experiment. I'm going to assign random numbers to each project. If you want to help me out, sit quiet for a moment, let a number between 1 and 100 pop into your head, and then leave it in a comment. I'll see which one has the most numbers closest to those I assigned. I'm curious to see which one gets the most psychic "votes." :)

ADDENDUM: It occurred to me that I should probably not put the comments through until I get them all in, so that no one is influenced by reading previous commenters' numbers. I'm going to collect comments and numbers until midnight tonight (Saturday July 11) and then I'll post the comments and do the calculating. Thanks to all who have already left numbers - hopefully more folks will so I get a good "sample." :)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

a long-awaited rainy day and quiet

I woke up to some rain this a.m. and was so happy to hear it. Even with the small rain we got last week everything has been dry. It's so dark out right now I have my desk lamp on!

Now if we can get more as the day goes on.

Dickens is hunkered down at the base of a tree in the front field. I'm not sure if he's guarding something he caught, monitoring something he's chased up the tree, or posting himself as a deterrent to the Cat Next Door, who sometimes crosses our field to get to the woods.

Moomintroll and Mystic are on the front porch, and the sisters are inside sleeping.

The Corgis are alternating between lying in the damp and coming in to sleep, and the horses and donkeys are in the barn munching hay after a night out on the pasture.

It's such a quiet day in this moment. The only sound is my typing.

It's rare for all the creatures who live here, including the humans, to be so quiet all at once.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

marines using mules and donkeys in afghanistan

My friend and fellow blogger Kyle (visit his wonderful blog Metaphor) just posted the following in a comment on the War Horse post:

The Marines are using mules and donkeys to haul weapons and stuff in Afghanistan. There was a story in today's LA Times about them training here in California. Call me a pacifist, but I think it's time we humans fought our battles - or learned how not to - without involving other species.

I so agree, Kyle, and I am horrified. Who does one complain to about THIS?

more july

This was a photo my son took last week that I saved for another look at July. This is Osage, aka Muffine Eloise, aka Muffiane, aka The Princess. You wouldn't guess it by their appearances OR their personalities, but she, Dickens E. Wickens, and Keats are full siblings.

She can often be found lying on her back on the lounge chair on our deck, or curled up in a sink somewhere inside the house. On the day the photo was taken, she had just had a Close Encounter of the Donkey Kind with young Redford, and decided, as cats will, that she liked being in a position of power, higher up on the fence.

I just found a wonderful quote over at Fjordwoman's blog. It expresses much of what I've been feeling lately:

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

-Albert Einstein

Monday, July 06, 2009

horsekeeping update

I missed doing my trim notes post last week, and since there are a few new things going on in my equine routine I'm going to combine it all here. I've found that blogging about these things not only gives me the chance to think it all through as I type, but I can easily look back and track my own notes/thinking. I keep notes on my barn calendar too but they are short and sweet, and on the blog I tend to get more long-winded!

So, trim notes:

Keil Bay looked good, as did the pony. Salina is starting to shed some sole, Rafer Johnson looked good, and Redford had a tiny bit of thrush in his hinds. Cody was the problem child this time around - he was a bit tender and had some redness, which B. felt might be due to sugars in grass.

Cody has never had an issue with this, but given the absence of rain for the previous two weeks, the grass was stressed, and when that happens, the sugars rise. And we had been lax about closing the gates during "off-pasture" hours - so in effect he was getting more of a highly-stressed forage. This coincided with the flu bug and no riding. Which probably resulted in the tenderness.

We decided to take the pony and Cody both off the pasture for the rest of last week. They spent the nights in the dirt paddock and the arena, where there is a little bit of nibbling to be done, but not much, with hay nets hung in several places so they could nibble, walk, eat some hay, walk, etc.

The pony was not happy with this arrangement but he lost a little weight and Cody is much better. Now that it's rained some, daughter has resumed riding, and he's not sore, things should be back to normal, but we're keeping an eye on him. A grazing muzzle is a possibility if we need to plug that in.

Now that everyone is doing pretty well hoof-wise, I've decided to add in a new routine that I hope will help us stay on this track. A number of hoof gurus, including our trimmer, have said that thoroughly cleaning the hooves once a week can be a simple but effective way to maintain hoof health. So I went to the Dollar Store last week and bought the very simple supplies: a bottle of plain blue Dawn dishwashing liquid (I'm not altogether thrilled about that, but am trying to stay economical and simple - will tweak this later if needed), a nice scrub brush - fits my hand, good size for use on hooves, etc., and a big tube of Desitin for babies' butts.

The recommended routine is to thoroughly pick the hooves, then use the scrub brush and a bit of Dawn liquid to scrub the bottom of the hoof completely. Rinse with clean water, check for anything that still needs to be picked out, and then dry with a clean cloth. Apply the Desitin to the frog area as a barrier cream.

An optional step that would come before the Desitin ointment - if there is thrush in any deeper crevices, press cotton balls into the crevices and then apply one or a mixture of a number of essential oils: lavender, tea tree, oregano, etc.

Right now I'm really trying to get the frogs to not only remain healthy but grow, and I'd like to see if this helps.

I've got the hay analyzed and minerals balanced now, and everyone is on what I'm thinking will be their ongoing "base" diets wrt feed. Keil Bay and Salina are on the senior diets, the pony and donkeys are on the balanced cubes, and Cody gets his own mixture. They're all doing well - and while I'm still working on the overall mineral balance and still need to test our pasture and water, we've made progress.

I need to get a fish scale so I can weigh hay - we feed free choice but I'd like to weigh what they are getting so I can see how close they are to my calculations.

Otherwise, I've also just added in glucosamine and chondroitin for Salina and Keil Bay. I did not give them their Adequan injections in May, as I wanted to see what their baseline is on the complete senior diet. Keil is not showing any change (i.e. no visible stiffness) and Salina is seeming generally stiffer with no joint supplementation, which makes sense, given her age and knees.

Based on my class notes and research studies, I've decided to add in the two joint supplements orally, dosed by weight, and see how much improvement I see by the fall. Interestingly, the purest and least expensive powders are human grade, available in bulk online, and I am supplementing ONLY the two things I want to supplement. I couldn't find any equine version that had the two things I wanted w/o other things added in - and the human grade versions are actually much cheaper!

Once I get a clear idea of what this is doing for my two seniors, I can make my way 'up the ladder' of options as needed to get the best results for each horse.

So far this summer I'm seeing horses that are more resistant to insect bites, more resilient in the heat, improving hooves, shiny soft coats, and overall good health.

I'm also seeing a reduction in the house/stable fly population after two double batches of fly predators in a row, and we have also seen a noticeable decrease in fire ant mounds this year. Don't know if the ongoing application of DE to the mounds is what worked, or if the conditions have changed in general, but it's been a welcome shift from the past two summers.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

mud-luscious and puddle wonderful

We are having RAIN today!

(and thanks to ee cummings for the evocative phrase)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

fireworks 2009

We had called neighbors to determine who would be setting off fireworks tonight - one neighbor down the lane (2 houses down) and another up at the top, through the woods. We fed early so there wouldn't be stress while eating dinner, and turned the horses and donkeys out back. I took a chair out, a small glass of Rescue Remedy tincture, a little syringe, and proceeded to give everyone a dose.

Redford declined; I think the little syringe looked too much like the shot he got in the spring! Dickens (cowboy cat extraordinaire) wanted a dose, so he got one too.

At one point there were fireworks going on both sides. Salina went on high alert, pacing the fence line. The donkeys followed because of course they're her guardians! Keil Bay went in and paced with her for awhile, and the pony trotted in during the particularly loud parts.

Cody was in the bottom of the back field happily grazing for most of the action. He cantered in two times when there was a series of extremely loud booms. My daughter delivered a glass of wine, and she and my husband joined me to sit out the noise.

Once things quieted down, the geldings went back out. Salina stopped pacing but she was still on guard when I came in, flanked by her donkey boys. I left hay all along the paddock so they can munch until they decide to head out to join the geldings.

And now, the cicadas are back to full volume. A much nicer celebration of the 4th of July, imo. I prefer the celebration of independence to be the quieter sort. :)

a preview for a party yet to come

This was a post from August 2007, when we had just met Rafer Johnson and were eagerly awaiting the day he could come join our family.

In a couple of weeks he will be two years old, and I've been thinking about how much joy he has brought to November Hill, as well as how much we've learned from him about donkeys and patience and healing. And grace.

His mother, Contessa, still reminds me of Salina, and I wonder if Rafer feels that too.

I have called him a being of light, which he is, and he is also an independent donkey who will take himself a break from the herd when he wants one, happily hiding behind the round bale for a private snack while Salina and Redford call to him to come back.

If you look into his little donkey eyes in the pictures below, you see the very same look we see today. He has a gaze that could melt granite, or iron.

How did we ever live without the donkeys?

His name is Rafer Johnson and he is coming to live with us in the new year, after he weans from his mom, Contessa.

It is just not possible to describe how cute and sweet he is. He's very good at conveying that himself!

Friday, July 03, 2009

war horse

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. Wish I could see the show in person!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

july - it's a redford day

I've been waiting for the perfect July photo, one that captures the heat, the dryness we're having right now, and the dusty feel to the air. This morning my son was out assisting me with barn chores, and he got the shots I was waiting for.

Redford is about a year and a half old right now. He has been much slower to mature than Rafer Johnson was, but I think in these pictures you can see that he has finally begun to lose his "baby" self and is transforming into a more mature young donkey.

Sheaffer, here you can see that he is practicing some of his "donkey dressage extravaganza" moves. NO ROLLKUR HERE! He is behind the vertical but I suspect he got wind of the upcoming performance and is trying to be funny.

In spite of the dry spell we're having, July is also an incredibly bountiful month. We have so many yummy things growing, ripening, and being harvested. And as all donkey lovers know, every donkey activity ends with some happy munching.

Here's to a relaxed, productive, and bountiful month for all.