Thursday, March 31, 2011

CEO of GoDaddy killing bull elephants on vacation

Husband just sent this to me - we are changing our websites to a different host and I thought many readers here might want this info as well. I have not watched the video. Not sure how the links will transfer here, but don't have time to make them live - you'll need to copy and paste.


Apparently the CEO of GoDaddy thought it was a great idea to post a video of his noble vacation of killing bull elephants in Zimbabwe. The video is briefly graphic. The CEO is a major tool and incredibly misguided. The height of stupidity is when villagers are butchering the elephant wearing orange GoDaddy hats.

I've transferred all of my domains from GoDaddy this evening after seeing this. I want nothing to do with supporting an imbecile like this.

I ended up transferring to
They posted the video on their site and offered a transfer discount along with a pledge to donate $1 to

It really doesn't matter where you transfer your domains if this sort of thing appalls you as well... as long as you can stop filtering money to GoDaddy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

lessons in riding, 1

The weekend was cold and wet, yesterday was packed with mom chauffeuring duties, and my plan to ride got thwarted.

Tuesday was sunny, warmer, and I had several things on the agenda, but underlying all of it was to get in a ride on Keil Bay.  It was late afternoon when I headed to the barn ready to ride. Keil came in from the back when he saw me - he knew what I was up to. As usual, grooming took longer than expected. I ended up doing a hoof scrub, then ended up cleaning a sheath. About the time I was done and ready to tack up, my son called from the house that it was time for us to leave for his class.

So I let Keil in the barnyard, took son to class, waited while he submitted his assignments, and then dropped him off at play practice. When I got home, the Big Bay was still in the barnyard, still clean, and the sun was still in the sky.

Finally! I tacked him up and led him into the arena. Mounting - no problem. Warm up - no problem. He was very forward and clearly wanted to trot as we finished our walking. Forward, in front of the leg, very focused. I felt relaxed, happy, and oh so grateful to be back in forward motion with Keil Bay.

When I got off, he turned and put his nose on my shoulder. It never gets better than that.

Lesson: perseverance pays. 

Next ride: we'll build on the nice walking and forward trot from today. I might do the rainbow ride sequence that I found on Jane Savoie's website several years ago. Good things always happen when we get to yellow and indigo.

Hope you'll check in with your rides, and link to your blog if you like!

quick update on Spalding Fly Predators

I just spent at hour plus on the telephone with Larry Garner, who works with Tom Spalding to run Spalding Labs - the company that has supplied fly predators to November Hill since 2005.

When I received an unsolicited Parelli catalog in the mail last week, I was concerned when I got to the last page and found a two-page ad for Spalding Labs, who I feared might be endorsing Pat and Linda Parelli's work.

Many readers might remember my pledge to investigate the companies I do business with and vote with my credit card when it comes to companies endorsing riders, trainers, and/or training methods I feel are damaging to horses. The hard part of this pledge comes when you learn a product you love is in some way affiliated with a rider/trainer you can't abide.

I emailed the company on Sunday and received a quick email response yesterday (Monday) from Mr. Garner, who said he had tried to call (they had our old phone number in my account info, my fault for not updating!) and would I please call him to discuss my concerns.

Today I got around to that - he was on another call but someone (Crystal, a very nice woman) corrected my telephone number in their system and said that Mr. Garner would call me right back, which he did.

He was very candid and said that they have entered into a one-year advertising experiment with the Parelli company, purchasing advertising in the Parelli materials. He said that the Parellis have used Fly Predators for years and were thus interested in selling advertising to Spalding. Mr. Garner said in that sense, by paying for advertising, they are "supporting" Parelli, and he does not want to try to mask that fact.

He went on to say however that they are not endorsing Parelli or the work the Parellis do with horses. He asked what I had seen that brought me to my conclusions about the Parelli training methods.

We had quite a long discussion about horses and training and ethical concerns. Mr. Garner has lived with horses for 50-odd years and he described some of his own ways of working with them to me. I didn't ask permission to share those, so I won't, but I will say that what he shared matches what many of us have shared in blog posts and comments. I shared some of my herd stories, we discussed various issues in the world of high-dollar horsemanship, including round pen work, dressage, 3-day eventing, and more, and by the end of the call, I felt assured that Spalding Labs is in the business of providing non-chemical means to control flies for horses, other animals, and people, and that they are not in fact endorsing any horsemanship methods at all with their advertisement in the Parelli catalog.

I appreciated the honesty, and the sincerity of Mr. Garner's statement that they want to keep my business, and that they also want more horses to enjoy non-chemical fly control.

In addition, they are staying abreast of the latest in fire ant control via a kind of fly currently being studied by the USDA. At some point if this fly is approved for introduction in the US, we may be able to order fire ant predators as well.

Mr. Garner kindly put a hold on my 2011 order, as I requested in my email Sunday, so that I could talk with him before this year's shipments started. I asked him to release the hold and send the fly predators out asap.

If you have any concerns about the Parelli advertisement, I encourage you to contact Spalding and ask to talk with either Tom Spalding or Larry Garner. At this point I am comfortable continuing my relationship with the company (for which I have only ever had excellent service AND results) and I have a feeling Mr. Garner will be looking for some Parelli videos to see for himself what I described in our conversation.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Salina turns 28 - we celebrate her spirit and her wisdom

This weekend Salina is having her 28th birthday, and helping me begin a series that looks at living with the senior horse.

The lovely Salina came to live with us when she was 23 years old. Late one night I was browsing online and came across a photo of her. The moment I saw her face, her slight tilt of the head as she looked directly into the camera lens, I thought "therapy horse."

Salina is a black Hannoverian mare who was imported from Germany as a brood mare. She has one white sock and a very fine crescent star. Salina also has one eye, and when she came to us she had fairly severe arthritis in both knees. But with regular but light work, no stalling, and some supplementation for her joints, she was able to teach us a few things about riding before we retired her completely at age 26.

Salina carried us through our first dealings with a hoof abscess. She taught me about mares and that being centered in my own body and self is the key to success when handling her. She taught me about mirroring and partnering and how both horses and people as they age can have bad days, bad weeks, and that there's nothing wrong with moving slowly when you need to do so.

Salina is why we were led to Rafer Johnson and Redford. She taught me to listen to my gut when dealing with the vet. Sometimes what I know about my horses is more relevant than the vet school knowledge. She taught me about the power of the maternal instinct, and on a daily basis now, she is my partner on November Hill, keeping her eye on everything in the neighborhood, pricking her ears to show me where to look when there's something I need to see.

Salina has come to my bedroom window in the middle of the night to wake me up when something was amiss. She stood by Rafer Johnson's stall when his leg was broken and kept him company, and in my opinion, her presence is why he healed so quickly.

Salina soaks her own hoof when she has an abscess brewing, takes hand signals from her blind side, whinnies a beautiful song in concert with Keil Bay for breakfast, and constantly mirrors the humans around her.

Salina led me to learn more about equine nutrition, and she taught me how to properly give paste wormer and other medications from tubes. She has done more to lead me in the right direction when it comes to working with and living with horses than all the books I've read, all the lessons I've taken, and all the geldings put together.

Salina has been a therapy horse. She has guided a number of clients through stuck places. But even more than that, she has been my therapy horse, my teacher, and my guide into middle life. There is no way a tray of home-made horse cookies and some apples can acknowledge all she gives to us here on November Hill.

Over the next few weeks I'll be working on a series of posts about some of the things I've learned as a result of seeing that late-night photo and making the decision to bring Salina to live with us. I'll also be writing about the difficulties of living with such a beautiful spirit as she moves closer to the end of her life. It's very possible Salina's next big lesson for me will be teaching me how to say goodbye to a wise and wonderful and magical goddess. It won't be easy, but I know it's a lesson I have to learn.

Happy birthday, Salina. We are so incredibly grateful for the years and the lessons.

Friday, March 25, 2011

how in the world did I get on the Parelli mailing list?

Imagine my surprise when I collected the mail today to find a catalog with the big, giant name PARELLI right across the front.

I of course opened it up and began to laugh (although one could also cry, I suppose) at the irony in this opening quote from Linda Parelli:

In Parelli, you learn about yourself, you learn about communication, about leadership, about truthfulness, about consequence and responsibility. You learn about love and imagination. The horse becomes the animal that tells you the truth about yourself in all these categories.

I agree, the horse is the one who tells the truth about the Parellis.

Linda, HERE. (edited to remove dead link and to add - it appears this video is gone too) And Pat in any number of videos that have appeared online in his so-called "training" challenges. I would link to them but they tend to show up and then just as quickly disappear. So you will have to trust me when I tell you that what Linda Parelli did to a one-eyed, terrified horse had nothing to do with communication, leadership, truthfulness, or love. Nor does Pat Parelli's insane behavior in the performances he puts on in various training challenge venues.

On the next page of the catalog:

Put The Relationship First... Is Your Horse Happy?

All I can say to that is that perhaps the Parellis should take a look at the horses in the above-mentioned videos. Do those horses look happy?

For a mere $700. I can purchase the complete kit containing all four level education packs, a horseman's halter, a 12-foot lead rope, a carrot stick, a savvy string, a 22-foot line, a 45-foot lariat, a natural hackamore, and cradle bridle. (don't even ask what the bit to this bridle looks like)

For $700. I could also find someone who has a well-trained, happy horse, ask to watch a lesson, let my heart and my gut tell me if what I see feels "right," and if so, sign up for 8-10 riding lessons with that someone.

The most upsetting thing I didn't already know that I see in this catalog is that there's a two-page ad for Spalding Fly Predators. Please tell me they are not sponsors of Pat Parelli. If they are I am going to have to find my fly predators someplace else.

two new series starting tomorrow

I'm not sure if it's spring that's pushing me to organize, or if I'm being taken over by the "series Borg," but lately I'm thinking of all my blog posting in terms of themes and ongoing posts that relate.

On the November Hill Press blog I'm doing a series on The Writing Life. It's about writing, of course, but several people have emailed me to say they think it is applicable to all artists and to life in general, so even if you're not a writer you might go check it out and see if it appeals.

I have put the mystic-lit blog on hiatus because I felt I couldn't keep up with three blogs at this point.

And in an effort to corral my helter-skelter posts here on camera-obscura, I decided today I am starting two series, at least for a few weeks, to see how it goes. I will inevitably end up posting other stuff too but the series will keep me more focused than I have been lately.

The first one is a series on living with the senior horse, and all the issues that come with that. Salina's 28th birthday is tomorrow and I'm becoming keenly aware of time passing for her, and of the ways in which her journey is informing my own. I want to write about this because I need to make some sense of it for myself. There are ways in which it is both difficult and transformational, and I want to focus on exploring those ways.

The second series is completely different. As I've been writing about at least weekly, spring is here for many of us, and for others it is on the way. I am getting far too caught up in farm management tasks and want to get caught up in riding the Big Bay (and Cody) instead. For the first several years we lived here, I had riding lessons in our arena at least twice a week. I rode 3-4x/week and sometimes daily. The past two years I have seen a huge decrease in my riding time. Some of that has had to do with physical events - injuring myself doing a yoga move (opening the root chakra is nothing to mess around with, believe me!) and falling down the stairs two different times. It also has had to do with the death of my father, which put me in a very cocoon-like state in a lot of ways, and also focused my attention onto my own aging process.

This year I have felt more physical changes than I ever have. I know some of them are related to aging, but some are related to not riding as much. And it's time to take that last piece OUT of the equation.

So - I am going to post twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays, using a series title I have not yet come up with, but it will be a post reporting on my rides during that time period. I'll do a little report on what I did, how it went, what was best about the rides, and what I want to do during the next ones.

But! This isn't a series of posts about me riding - it's also about anyone who wants to participate in this with me. I invite everyone to post about your rides during that time frame. You can elaborate or if you already blog about your work with horses, use the comment as a way to check in and feel free to link to your posts on your own blogs.

And if you don't ride, you can also feel free to check in about something you are doing that is meaningful and important and that you're putting into a prominent place in your life by making sure you DO it regularly.

I think I need a little camaraderie. Sort of like what I got from riding lessons being on my calendar twice a week. But free. And online.  I think I might call it Lessons in Riding.

Whatever it ends up being called, I hope you'll join in the conversation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

springtime and horses and chores

I spent some time yesterday raking out a number of compost piles in the front field. The horses have rotated to the back full time now and while the front field rests I'm getting all the compost mounds spread out, doing some fire ant patrol, and hopefully cleaning up some branches that need trimming and clearing. I also need to rake up the sweetgum balls and the pine cones! I do a few swipes a day and am making slow progress with that method.

We had a big rain last night after several very warm windy days during which our county was on a wildfire alert - and I just had a weather alert pop up as I am typing this saying that tonight we are having a frost alert! It is never dull here when it comes to weather changing suddenly.

This morning it is beautiful. Everything is clean and sparkling, and I've already done muck duty so can now go back out and finish my compost spreading. The grass grew overnight - it always amazes me when we get a rain this time of year and the grass literally shoots up behind it.

I went through the back field earlier this morning, cleaning it up a bit as the herd finished breakfast and came out to have hay. There wasn't much mucking to be done back there as they were in last night due to the rain, but before they came in, they must have had a big party with the jumps. Every jump was knocked down, the trot poles were all askew, the flowers on my jump standards were torn apart, and the pinwheels were tipped down.

Everything is back in place now.

The carpenter bees have notched down their wild kamikazi flying a bit and there are increasing numbers of butterflies wafting by.

On a different note, I am seeing flies, and the pines are beginning to shed pollen, which means water trough duty is going to get more rigorous again. It's time to start tick check too.

I wrote on Facebook this morning that as much as I love the rhythm and routine of seasonal farm chores, rotating the horses and donkeys, and working on the pastures, I must have been a farmer in a past life. A friend noted that she thinks I'm one in THIS life, which made me laugh.

When I get one of those cute little blue tractors with all the attachments and a three-bay shed to park it all in, I'll officially declare myself a farmer. Meanwhile I'm just channeling some farmer energy a few hours a day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Signs That Might Be Omens now available on Amazon

You can click the book cover on the right sidebar to go directly to its Amazon page!

In celebration of the publication of Signs, I started a new series on the November Hill Press blog called The Writing Life. I hope you'll head over there and read/comment.

april on its way

Although we've been seeing signs of spring for weeks now, yesterday the season suddenly seemed to take hold and although I could be wrong, I think it's now here to stay. The first carpenter bee late last week has now turned into a cloud of whirling dervish bee activity by the barn shelter.

The dogwoods are blooming. The tulips are blooming. By mid-day the horses had parked themselves up at the barn seeking shade. It was 80 degrees and with still not quite shed out winter coats and no leaves yet on the trees, they needed a break from the hot sun.

I got the stalls clean for them, turned on the fans, and started sorting out who was going to go where. Keil Bay was determined to be the first one in a stall, but Salina, usually perfectly happy to walk over and come through the gate into her paddock, wouldn't budge either.

So I held the gate open and called to whoever wanted to come through. Cody and Rafer Johnson marched through and their reward was getting to pick their area - barn aisle with clean stall and access to the big barnyard - or grass paddock with clean stall.

They both picked the barn aisle and stall and big barnyard, so I closed the barn doors and opened the gate again. Apache and Keil Bay decided to take the grass paddock and stall. They will happily share a stall so no problem there.

Salina and Redford, by default, got the barn shelter and two stalls.

Even with the fans on, the carpenter bees were making a tremendous noise. The birds were singing. Horses were snorting. And suddenly, just like that, it was spring. Which to me always seems very loud after the long, quiet winter.

March has rushed past and looking at the calendar for April I'm remembering that it's always one of the busiest months of the year for us. Activities stacked up on calendar blocks and things that need to get done inside and out. Four big birthdays. This last week in March feels like the calm before the storm. And one more birthday to go before month's end, which is a very special one.

Spring has returned.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems.  

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a little bit of a pet peeve

I just need to vent. What is it with people meeting horses and immediately commenting on various aspects of conformation?

The relationship between conformation and horses being able to do various things w/o damaging themselves makes sense to me - I can see discussing that if you're looking to buy a horse or trying to assess whether a sport is a good fit, etc.

Breeding for the best conformation possible also makes sense to me, and discussions in that context as well.

But walking up to a horse and pointing out a "flaw" is the same thing as me meeting someone and saying "Hi, it looks like your jaw is set too far back on the lower half."

It's bad enough that people do this, period, but imo 9 out of 10 horse people don't even know what they're talking about when it comes to conformation, and to a certain degree it's a subjective thing anyway.

Are any of us made "perfectly?" I think not! Do we categorize ourselves based on our physical flaws? Not in my circle of friends and acquaintances.

Horses deserve more respect than being discussed this way, as do the people who live with and care for them.

As my friend D says:

and that is all I have to say about THAT.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to Cody!!

Today is Cody the QH gelding's 8th birthday - 8 which on its side is infinity and that is how much sweetness Cody brings to us here on November Hill. He is our resident teddy bear, aka Coden Locomoden, Cocoa Puff, and every now and then by his registered name, Riskless Asset.

Today he had a small celebration with granny smith apples and for about one minute, the entire herd acknowledged his sweet personality by lining up nicely along the back arena fence while I took turns handing them apple chunks and singing happy birthday.

Then Keil Bay's personality returned to normal and he decided to freight train along the fence line, clear everyone away, and go back to being the leader of the herd. I took a break from handing out party treats to reconfigure dressage markers, and he led the crew around to the paddock - except for Cody, who was smart enough to know that I had saved him two big chunks, which he came and took at his leisure over the fence.

My daughter and I were away most of the day on a Pony Club expedition. She rode another big, bay, freight train named JJ who loves hunting foxes first flight and really wasn't that thrilled with doing just another Pony Club jumping lesson. But by the last half he settled in nicely and they had some good rounds.

Here's to good horses, all. We love you, Cody! You bring patience to our herd.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

sale! new cover! check it out!

In advance of Signs That Might Be Omens' publication, I've put both claire-obscure and The Meaning of Isolated Objects on sale at Amazon. If you've been meaning to buy one or both, now's the time!

And I've made a new cover for Isolated Objects, which you can see at Amazon. (I'll be adding it to the sidebar here soon, but for now, you'll have to click over to see it)

(Signs is book two in the Claire Quartet, four novels that are connected but not a series per se.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

well, darn... the 1000th post slipped right by me this morning!

I had meant to keep an eye on it and write something special!

Speaking of eyes... we had even more neighborhood activity today when we had to call the vet out - the little man scratched his cornea and had to have sedation, treatment, meds, and a fly mask! He should be fine in a week or so, but this was not the kind of activity I wanted to have, nor the kind of subject matter I wanted to post about for #1001...!

In any case, we are now stocked up on Banamine and Terramycin. And we did our part to stimulate the economy!

In other news, I encountered the very first carpenter bee of the season this afternoon. Now all we need is the appearance of the Toad Prince and we will know for sure, without doubt, that spring is here!

busy week in the neighborhood

Lots of interesting activity has been going on this week around November Hill. I was gazing out over the front field a couple of days ago and thought I saw the pony walking across the back yard of our neighbor across the lane.

After doing a double-take, I realized that no, our painted pony was right here where he was supposed to be. But our neighbor, who told me sometime in the fall that she planned to get a horse, had gotten one, and there she was - a painted mare!

She's being kept on the back side of their property so is not that visible, but periodically this week I have heard her calling. So far, none of this crew have answered. It will be interesting to see if they begin to pay attention.

Next door to the new painted mare, the new neighbors are in the process of having a small "barn" moved to the back of their property. They plan to use the very nice structure as shelter for their horse and four goats who will be moving in sometime in the next few months.

The moving of this small barn has taken many steps, which everyone here, especially the donkeys, have monitored with eagle eyes. I think today might be the day of the actual move, as they finally got it up onto wheels yesterday.

For me, this is a wonderfully symbolic event. Folks who have been reading here for awhile might remember me posting about the previous neighbors, who had ATVs and used our private lane as their own personal race track. They also used other folks' property as their playground, and there are still scars on the earth where the ATVs drove around and around and up and down.

I had several unpleasant encounters with the family patriarch, who took great offense at my request that they keep the ATVs on their own property. At some point they built the very nice barn-like structure right by the road at the end of their driveway. I didn't realize at the time that they had defied the neighborhood covenants to do so, but simply wondered what in the world they intended to do with it once it was finished.

That barn became a symbol of noise and annoyance and ongoing frustration for me. Because what they used it for was to store the ATVs! And they'd built it right by the road so they could throw open the doors, crank up those annoyingly loud engines, and burst forth right in front of my front pasture.

As far as I was concerned, that barn became the hellmouth itself.

When the new neighbors came to look at the house, which sat empty for several years, in foreclosure, I marched right over there to say hello and to find out what we might be dealing with. It was a lovely surprise to find a couple with grown children, horse lovers, animal lovers, who assured me they have never owned at ATV and have no desire to do so!

This week I've watched with great interest as a small crew of workmen prepare the barn to be moved - so it can be used to house a horse and his goats.

I took a walk down to the woodland path and the labyrinth path, and discovered that everything looks really good. I have a little work to do back there, but for now, it's perfect for walking and thinking and listening and looking.

With all this activity going on, I've kept Salina and her donkeys in their paddock and the barnyards, in case the geldings go wild and start running. We've had some rain and the footing was slippery for a few days, and I didn't want Salina trying to keep up with the herd on that ground.

She has not minded the separation, and the donkeys don't mind as long as they're with her. The reward is a few hours on the increasingly grassy back field in the evenings. When we start monitoring time on grass, you know it's really spring.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

mirror, diamond, donkey, crow

Last week I was walking in the front field when something shiny caught my eye. It was a diamond-shaped shard of mirror. I picked it up, intrigued with the diamond shape as well as the mirror itself, which didn't appear to have been buried, but was so clean it looked like it had been dropped from the sky. I immediately thought it might have been a crow's special treasure. I picked it up and brought it inside, and it's been sitting on my desk ever since.

Today, I took it out to take a photo in daylight, and not only is it a treasure, it's a magical little mirror. Click on the photo and see what is inside!

Sometime later last week I was out buying beet pulp shreds and noticed this little smiling donkey. I decided he wanted to come join my sandplay miniature collection, so he hopped in the cart and ended up coming home with me. But instead of taking him upstairs to my sandplay garret, he too ended up on my desk.

Here he is outside looking at the herd:

At some point after arriving on my desk, which is very crowded and necessitates my constantly shifting things to make room for other things, the donkey ended up by the diamond mirror, looking something like this:

I became mesmerized by the little smiling donkey gazing into the diamond mirror. So I left them on my desk that way for several days, just letting the two things lend their magic to my workspace, and to my daily life.

At some point I decided to do a little research into the symbolism of the diamond shape. I found that the diamond shape appears in every culture, and generally represents clarity, ascension, and wisdom - of a kind that transcends everyday life.

The diamond shape also represents breakthrough and enlightenment, as well as awakening, epiphany, new beginnings, and connections to the mystical.

In alchemy the diamond shape symbolizes creativity that is expressed via the four elements: fire, air, earth, and water, and how funneling creativity through these four elements leads us to our true creative purpose.

In Native American culture, the diamond shape symbolizes wind, and is considered a protective emblem which represents life. The four sides represent unity, freedom, eternity and balance.

If you combine this diamond shape symbolism with that of the mirror, you get all of that plus reflection, illumination, and again, enlightenment.

The donkey symbolizes versatility, intelligence, determination, stubbornness, spiritual dedication, undying faith in the creative force,  and the willingness to take on the responsibilities and burdens of others.

A lot to think about and absorb, which is why I let these two sit together on my desk for several days. Each time I looked at them I felt rejuvenated and inspired.

So today, I had a little time and wanted to photograph these two. I put them on my windowsill thinking the morning sun might be enough light to get a good picture. It wasn't, so I left them there and turned back to my desk to do something else. Within a few minutes I heard an unusual bird song, one I have never heard before today. It repeated several times.  I looked out the window and there was a big black crow, walking in circles right outside my window, arching his neck as he made the first three notes of song, and then lifting his beak into the air for the last plaintive note. 

I wondered if the crow had seen the diamond mirror and come to let me know it had once belonged to him.

I'll probably never know if that crow dropped the mirror in our front field, and I won't know if he spotted it in my window and came to reclaim it. But I do know all of these things - the sequence of finding them and their finding one another - are a gift. The diamond, the mirror, the donkey, and today, the crow. 

What has popped into your life in an unexpected but wonderful way this week? I think we all have encounters with symbols and synchronicities and if we stop and make time for them, they have a lot to say.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the complexities of a busy, crazy week

I have had a blog post on my mind for about a week now, but it requires my camera (which is upstairs and not at hand when I think about posting), daylight (which is now waning due to thunder-stormy day), and time (which I feel like I haven't had much of all week).

So, I'm here to report that something more interesting is en route, but I'm not sure when.

Meanwhile we've had hooves trimmed, lots of chauffeur work, several big rains, some big wind (one spell that made me stop what I was doing to run to the barn and secure things), and a Corgi boy who chewed up the same person's wallet and credit cards that he did last time.

He also steals things like pens and bowls and rolls of toilet paper and muck boots. (which is why I've been online trying to find a pair of Bogs in my size, in the color/print I actually WANT, and since I have not yet succeeded I am wearing my paddock boots to do chores in and have to clean them daily b/c of all the MUD!)

You can see how this week is being.

Not bad, exactly. Just more complicated than usual.

How can it be Thursday already?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

signs that might be omens

As usual, writing group weekend kickstarted me into high gear and I'm thrilled to report that I am close to getting my next adult novel, Signs That Might Be Omens, up on Amazon.

Although not part of a series per se, Signs is the second book in what I think of as the "Claire Quartet."

In claire-obscure, we meet Claire in her early twenties, during one very difficult and life-changing year. In Signs, time has moved forward 20 years, Claire is in her early forties, and we discover that there are two sides to every story, synchronicities connect people whether they know it or not, and horses can and do play a pivotal role in the resolution of old trauma and the shift into schwung.

In my mind I have always visioned four novels when I think of the character Claire. In addition to the two I have already written, I suspect there is a novel that looks at Claire's childhood, probably from her eyes, although I recently realized there might be a neighbor who tells that story, giving us yet another perspective on her life. A view from the outside in, perhaps.

And there is another one not yet written that I jokingly think of as the AARP Claire novel. Which is misleading, since I also think this one might also be subtitled: Claire Hits Middle Age and Goes High Speed, Low Drag.

She's the kind of late blooming woman I suspect might find her fire late in life. We will see.

Right now, it's Sunday afternoon and I am perched on my bed with laptop continuing the writing weekend as it rains, gusts, and goes light and then dark and then light again outside my window. 

Saturday, March 05, 2011

more weekend

Salina got her massage yesterday and although fidgety initially, she soon relaxed into the bodywork. At one point she leaned her head and neck into me, letting me hold her a bit as the massage was being done on the opposite side. Salina is a grand and wise mare, but she is very rarely affectionate or "snuggly." Her connection with humans and with me is almost telepathic. It's very strong and very obvious, but it isn't physical. So I was touched and honored to bear the weight of her head for a little while as she got her muscles worked.

I also realized that she is able to "close her eye" on the side where her eye was removed. I've always been intrigued with the muscles that remain in the healed over socket. You can easily see the blinking motion. But for some reason I had never noted before that not only can she blink, she can close that "eye." I watched carefully and as she relaxed and the massage went deeper, she did indeed close both eyes. Amazing.

As the day moved on daughter had two more beautiful rides on the pony and Cody. You might notice that I haven't posted about beautiful rides on the Big Bay... that is because last Sunday I fell backwards down the stairs and landed flat on my tailbone. Arnica, a softgel ice pack, and pure stubbornness minimized the damage, but I am trying to let things heal before riding.

And living vicariously through my daughter, who took Cody over a little jump course yesterday and reported he did very well. I asked her to give the pony a break from jumping since she's doing it bareback, and I saw his work in the arena - very lovely and willing.

As the sun began to set yesterday evening, I felt a rise in the energy on the farm and went looking for what was going on. All three geldings were doing huge, fancy trots up and down the paddock. Cody lifted his tail straight up and went into a big, collected trot that was so gorgeous it took my breath away. Sometimes when he moves like this, I have to wonder if he really is a QH at all - even though I have the papers in my files. And with his PSSM issues it's all the more beautiful when he uses his body so perfectly.

To see the geldings, three sizes ranging from 13.2 - 16.2, in three different colors, red bay, chestnut, and painted, doing these gorgeous trots up and down was pure heaven. And the absolute best way to move into a weekend of writing and planning and yes, creating and celebrating forward motion in my work.

Friday, March 04, 2011


It's Friday and not only is it the weekend, but it's writing group weekend, which makes me very happy.

Yesterday afternoon started things off - it was lovely out, and I got caught up in horse chores and horse time, which included watching daughter ride Cody over some of the baby jumps in the back field. He looked fabulous, and it's nice to see her keeping him fit and healthy as we watch the greening begin.

As if that weren't fun enough, she then took the pony and did the same thing! He is quite the cutie over jumps and every time I see him take one happily I remember the time a few years back when he was not happy jumping, and the year we spent sorting all that out.

This morning it is sunny again and Salina has her massage therapist coming shortly. When I went out to feed breakfast Cody was out in the front field and I called his name and he galloped all the way up the hill, down the length of the paddock, and came to a lovely halt right at the gate where I was standing. I love that kind of enthusiasm!

Keil Bay was banging away for his breakfast, and now they're all out munching their hay.

Books and horses, massage therapists and writers, sunshine and spring. It's a great time of year for a really fun and productive weekend.


blogger (me) has spring fever too

Forgive the wild changes on the blog this week. I'm having a little bit of spring fever and doing the equivalent of rearranging the furniture fifteen different ways - we'll see where I end up. Something not quite so "busy" - but I'm having fun playing with all the options... :)

Thursday, March 03, 2011

two donkeys celebrate spring

There isn't much need for words here - except to say that my daughter took the photos and it's pretty clear we have two young donkey boys feeling really happy that they have warm sunshine, dust pits to roll in, and ... each other!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Horses For Life - a wonderful online magazine

I realized this week while visiting blogs that many people aren't aware of the very lovely online equestrian magazine, Horses For Life.

If you care about partnering with your horses instead of dominating them, if you aspire to harmony and happiness when riding and working with your horses, and if you enjoy reading about these things, you'll love Horses For Life.

Nadja King, the woman behind the magazine, has been working hard throughout the FEI/rollkur controversy to bring the truth about the horrors of that practice to light. Many of the back issues have articles which illustrate in no uncertain terms the damage that is done with that kind of riding.

But Horses For Life does what I consider a wonderful job of balancing the issues so there is always something positive and beautiful to read and aspire to - as well as how we might work to end some of the very upsetting practices we see in today's horsemanship.

Two quotes from the newest issue:

What people do not appreciate is that every time a horse submits to pressure, whether subtle or overt, he is diminished.

-from Gallop to Freedom by Magali Delgado and Frederic Pignon

The first duty of a good hand is to follow the mouth wherever it goes.

-Phillipe Karl

If you haven't seen Horses For Life yet, go CHECK IT OUT.

You probably won't ever read Practical Horseman, Dressage Today, or any of the mainstream horse magazines again. And although it takes a little bit to get used to not having the magazine in your hand, think of all the resources that are not used in printing and distributing physical copies. Not to mention, seeing the gorgeous photographs on your big screen desktop is an incredible way to experience the articles.