Saturday, February 27, 2010

And we are away!!

It is 5:30am. 5:30 in the morning doesnt exist for me, on a normal day. But this is not a normal day! My Mom, sister and I heading out for our big holiday!!

Hope you all have a great week! And I'll try to post updates when I can. I just pray that we have a safe trip and that the loved ones we've left behind are happy and healthy when we return!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Take that Naysayers! We're rockin the games!

Received this in an e-mail and had to post it as well as a video. These Olympics have absolutely rocked and brought this country together like never before. I'll post pics of my trip in to Vancouver, medal ceremony and INXS concert soon!

First here is Tom Brokaw explaining the relationship between Canada and the US....

We never claimed to be perfect
That means we’ve learned to be humble
We say excuse me and I'm sorry…as well as please and thanks
Even when its not our fault we apologize

Sure one arm of the torch didn't rise,
But when the earthquake struck Haiti, Canadians raised their hands to say…”we’ll help”

And yah, there is a fence around the torch
But you can walk right up and shake hands with our Prime Minister and most famous Canadians

We put Gretzky in the back of a pick up, in the rain, not surrounded by police…and he was okay
And by the way... the great one is Canadian…and HE wasn’t complaining!

We do have security at the games, of course, but most people don't even have a gun they have to leave at home

The medals ARE under lock and key but our doors and our hearts are open to the world

It has been pointed out that some buses broke down last week….but let’s not overlook the fact that our banking system didn't

The "Olympia" ice machine at the Speed Skating Oval has worked perfectly for two years ++. Even after impeccable maintenance, a major glitch occurred at a most inopportune time. VANOC solved the problem within 24 hours.

Citius altius fortius

If you don't reach higher how do you get faster and stronger

Was the first quad jump perfect?
Should we not have given snowboarding to the world "in case" it didn’t take off?

So big deal…one out of four torch arms didn't rise. Good thing we had 3 more! It’s called contingency planning!

But remember…the Canadarm works every time…in outerspace….and insulin turned out to be okay

We couldn't change the weather but maybe we can help stop to global warming

We don't have the tax base of the US or the power of the Chinese but, per capita, we ponied up for some pretty kick-ass venues in the worst global recession ever

Sure, some folks couldn't afford tickets but our health care is universal

We have shown the world that we can raise our voices in celebration and song but moments later stand in silence to respect a tragic event...together..spontaneously…and unrehearsed.

What's more, we don't need permission from anyone to have a slam poet, fiddlers with piercings and a lesbian singer tell our story to the world while our multilingual female Haitian- born, black, head of state shares a box with her First Nations equals

We’ve shown the world that it doesn’t always rain in Vancouver, that you can strive for excellence but not get hung up on perfection
And we’ve learned what it feels like to be picked on by some no name newspaper guy and we don’t have to take it lying down!

So the point is not the snow, or the hydraulics or a couple guys being 5 minutes late to a ceremony, held up by protesters/anarchists

We know we’re lucky that these are the biggest problems we had to deal with in the last couple weeks.

So take your cheap shots….The Guardian (UK), New York Times and USA Today newspapers and cynics of the world

We're bigger and better than that.

What's more we're finally starting to believe it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why I Suck at Riding.

You know what is frustrating? That I've been riding for damn near 15 years and I still suck at it. As much as I've tried to learn, as many hours as I've spent in the saddle, for all the bruises and bad falls, and countless dollars invested, I still- still- suck.

Bear with me for a moment or two... or five and I'll explain....

Maybe I shouldn't use the word "suck" but that all-encompassing layman term best sums up the dichotomy between where I am at as a rider and where I want to be... and how incredibly frustrating it is to understand a concept and yet be unable to execute it in the simplest of forms.

For example. I am given a drill:

Trot my horse down the centre of the arena and over four polls. Then, in three strides, pick up the canter and ride over two more poles.

This task, at face value sounds like it should be simple. And, in theory, it is... I know what I have to do and think that I should be able to do it... maybe not perfectly but competently at least.

Here's what I visualize doing... it might not be correct but it's what I aim for:

As I come to the corner at the top of the arena I need to adjust my rein and send my horse forward freely and in a balance frame, (which means I need to be able to create a balanced frame through the position of my feet, legs, seat, and hands in conjunction with the stride, rate and implultion of the horse.)

I need to look where I am going and decide where I need to make the turn so that I can ride a straight line to the poles.

As I get to the corner I need to keep him bent, upright and balanced through the turn (with my inside hand tipping his head in, my outside leg asking for the turn and my inside leg holding the bend. The squeeze of my legs drives his impulsion but the check of my hand forces his weight back into his hind quarter which frees up his shoulders and allows him to stay upright in the turn.)

After the turn I need to straighten him for the line to the poles, (being sure to look past the poles not at them) as well as assess his pace in relation to the position of the poles and adjust accordingly.

Post quietly over the poles.

As my horse goes over the last pole I sit in the stride, reach my outside leg back, push forward with my pelvis, bend him slightly to pick up the correct lead and send him into a canter.

I then check the speed of that canter in relation to the coming poles.

As he canters over the poles I turn to look where I am going next, adjust the horses bend and my body again for the turn and then set up for the next repetition.

Through all of this I am checking my body position (the balance of my weight between my seat, legs and feet, that my pelvis and elbows are moving fluidly with the horse but my upper body is quiet, that my shoulders are square and back and head is up, heels down.)

All of the above is what I think I should be doing in order to successfully negotiate the drill. Instead this is what I do:

As I'm trotting up the arena and setting up to make the turn I realize that my reins are too long, my foot has slipped back too far and my forward impulsion is lacking. While my mind is completely occupied with all that I'm doing wrong and my body is struggling to correct it, I miss the turn that will set me on a straight line to the poles.

Then, instead of yielding him over to the correct line I instinctually steer him into an over correction that (inevitabley) takes me right past the right line, which forces me steer him back the other way and so instead of a straight line we do the snake for six strides which is about when I look down and panic because now the poles are but a stride away. Because I'm looking at the poles my weight has fallen forward and caused my horse to stall...

The snowball effect continues as, in my bid to salvage the course I kick him forward. This sends his head in the air, hallows out his back, sets me off balance and forces him to prance through the poles. He ends up trip over two of the three anyways.

Of course by the time we come out the other end and get partially recollected we're late picking up the canter. Again I kick him forward but my horse is off balance from sliding over the poles and so he picks up the wrong lead. By now the second set of poles are beneath us... which I know because I'm looking down at them . Now, my horse is no dummy, he aint takin' the chance of hitting these poles again so he does a Lipizzaner leap over the last poles. We canter out, off lead and out of control with my ass in the air and my hands scrabbling for enough rein to pull him to a stop before I fall off. Alas we come to a hault.

...And then I say a very bad word under my breath.... which no one can hear because I've forgotten to breathe.

And then I chastise myself for failing at such a simple task. I tell myself I can do it. And so I try again.

And again, until there is a moment, however brief, wherein it all comes together. My body, mind, and horse move gloriously as one and the transitions become seamless- the stride rhythmic. Everything flows together and becomes just that simple. For the briefest moment in time, I can ride.

That moment is what we chase... we seek to capture that illusive and seductive feeling of competence.... to suspend that moment of unity and make it stretch to encompass the whole of our ride... or at least the better part of it.

I ride, in pursuit of that moment.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vampire Porn

****WARNING: The following post contains adult content suitable only for those with a sexually suggestive sense of humor and a willingness to overlook my inappropriate posting behavior***

Well, I intended to do an "update" post letting you all know what I've been up to this past week (riding, lessons, Olympics, hikes, etc.) but I doubt any of those mundane subjects could compare to the the intrigue aroused by these two short words- Vampire Porn.

So, I ran in to a bookstore a few days ago hoping to quickly grab the sequel to a novel I recently read (Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati) but after spending ten minutes searching, it looked like I was going to walk out empty handed (which would be even more sacrilegious as walking out of a tack store empty handed) and so I frantically scanned the isle for something- anything- when a dark book with the words "Vampire Romance" caught my eye...

The title: 'The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance- over 25 short stories of hot blood, midnight pleasures and inhuman passions.'

*raises hand* SOLD!

Seriously, with a title like that how could I not buy it?!

This is where I also need to mention that I recently watched the movie 'Boogie Nights' wherein Mark Walhberg (hello Marky Mark!) and Julienne Moore explore the cheesy, pronstash wearing, pool-boy-meets-lonely-housewife porn industry of the 70's and 80's.

And so, having recently become well apprised on the subject, I feel confident in declaring this Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance retitled, "The Mammoth Book of unabashedly 80's-style-Vampire Porn".

Oh my!

Every last ounce of the sexual frustration aroused by the painfully chaste Twilight series has been made up for in just one of these juicy, steamy, fetish filled short stories.

Stephanie Mayer, hold on to your hat girl 'cause this shit is hot!

Would I be a totally creep if I admitted to finding it entertaining...

Oh I would?
Well, of course I dont like it at all! I was just checking...

*blank stare*

So wanna little peak? Oh come on! You know you do! I've included a few strategically in focus sentences within the photos above... I dare you not to look!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Donning Half Chaps- Not as simple as you'd think!

So I decided that today was the day! I was going to don my new half chaps and take my lesson looking like a (semi) normal English rider.... I don't know why I found the idea of doing so embarrassing but I did...

But, as I drove to the barn, I suddenly realized that not only did I feel totally and inexplicably like an impostor and idiot for wearing those dark brown suede zippy thing-a-ma-poppers wrapped around my calves but I actually had no clue how to put the freakin' things on! And so I picked up the package in hopes that there would be a helpful picture on the front.... as you'd think there would be! But oh no! Oh no!...Little Miss I-know-how-to-put-my-half-chaps-on jumping her horse over the logo wasnt even wearing the product! Loser!

I pulled over in a school parking lot and decided to try them on.... I mean, how hard could it be right? Right. Ha!

I pulled them out... there was some vents on one side, meshing on the other, a zipper, a little heel strap (that totally reminded me of those pants we used to wear in the early 90's and that I saw in Macy's last month!) and a puffy bit at the bottom. Hmmm.... So I tried it one way and it looked kinda right but then I realized that the zipper was on the inside of my leg and I figured that wasnt a goo thing....

Again, I picked up the package to see if there were instructions... but I guess the folks who make half chaps figured that strapping the bloody things to your legs would be pretty much self explanatory. *sigh* And so I tried them on the other way in an attempt to make the zipper go to the outside but no such luck.... The little strap thingy on the bottom was all out of place and the fabric was all bunched and awkward looking... and to top it off they were really pretty tight and so I thought, "Dang, I guess I got the wrong size."

It was about that point I noticed that I was running late and there was no time for further contimpation of the great mystery, the inconquerable puzzle that are half chaps! As I sped my way towards the barn, my cheeks burning, I muttered to myself "coward, pansy, cowgirl up!"

As I hopped out of the car I looked down at my legs and thought "that just aint look right" but wearing half chaps in the first place was a pretty foreign and embarrassing idea.... and so.... I walked into the barn.

Within a minute Shannon, my instructor walked by. I knew that at any moment she'd notice my new attire and so I figured I'd bite the bullet and mention it first...and so I say, "Ahh... so... I went and bought a pair of half chaps... I'm not sure but I dont think they fit me right, I think their too small.... or something..." *blushes scarlet*

Shannon, bless her heart, doesnt laugh. She just walks by all casual like and says, "Well, could be 'cause you have them on backwards."

"Oh!" I say.... when really I'm thinking, just shoot me now....instead I manage to sputter out, "Well, I figured that the zipper needed to go on the outside..."

Shannon: "Well, yes..."

And then it clicks.

I dont just have them on backwards (with the front facing the back and back to front) but I also have the right leg on the left and the left leg on the right.


I cant remember exactly what I said after that. And I cant say, in polite company, what I was thinking to myself but I'm pretty sure the words, "this is SO going on my blog" were uttered.

*hangs head in shame*

But I do have to admit that by the end of my lesson I could have kissed those bloody half chaps!! Man! What a difference they made in my ability to keep my leg still!

And yes, in the end, I did figure out how to put them on properly (thank you very much!).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jewel and Cara- Energy Created or Contained.

Last week I had the pleasure to ride one of my good friend's horses, Cara. She is a mare whom I have long admired, one of those gritty, no-nonsense, matriarch types that doesn't know the word quit and steps surely wherever she goes. She is not the doe-eyed, placid looking kind, oh no! A stranger with a practiced eye would hesitate to walk up and give Cara a casual stroke or familiar rub...her look and poise, though not threatening, commands respect. And if that stranger were to pull her out for a ride, she'd likely set herself in a stoic stance of indifference, of quiet resignation that would let you know that to be used is entirely Cara's choice and entirely your privilege.

I did ride Cara once before, on the day that Barb went out to try her for purchase. It didnt take but few minutes on her back before I met Barb's eye and nodded in silent agreement. Purchasing this mare was never a question even though she wasnt especially trained, bred nor especially fancy in type. I know for a fact that Barb has never once regretted buying Cara or had a moment where she considered selling.

Last week, when I stepped on Cara, the overwhelming feeling I had, pressed against my chest, was that of pride. Why should I feel proud to ride a horse? Perhaps because in Cara there is this energy that made me feel as if I were riding atop one of the big mythical dragons in Avatar. There is an electric surge in her every stride, a siting-on-the-edge-of-a-precipice feeling of riding astride a bundled powder keg of energy and power- a firecracker just waiting to be ignited. All of which could make a rider feel helpless, anxious and in danger. But Cara is broke- she has brakes and steering and a sound mind, she is sensible and light in feel. That combination of unbridled energy and bridled control is intoxicating. It fills you with both adrenaline and confidence, power and humility. As I loped her around I had this distinct sensation that I must suck her energy up into my core and hold it there, balanced, like my foot over the touchy gas pedal of a sports car. I didnt want to get off.

After my ride on Cara I drove directly over and hopped on Jewel. Let me tell you, the short time frame between each horse made the difference in their type and feel all the more pointed. When I pulled Jewel out and lazily stroked her coat I was filled with peace and when her eyes fell half closed and she sighed deeply, I felt my own breath slow to match her steady, even cadence.

Stepping on Jewel and settling into her is to be filled with a sense of quiet, to feel her rock solidly beneath me. And when I pick up the reins, I take into me a sense of power and purpose, knowing that I must pick her up too and send her out with my own energy. That ball in my core is still there but with Jewel I must take it and press it down and into her, like my foot over the rusty clutch of an old Ford.

Jewel brings me her own brand of joy. I love the feel of her when we've finally come together and made something click. And when I stop her, as a reward for having done something right, and she licks and chews and drops her head, I know I have done something right too. She is not electric nor does she inspire my pulse to race and my breath to come short but she fills me with a quiet and blessed contentment.

Two horses- one who creates energy within me and one whom I must create energy within. Both beautifully unique. Both horses. Both an honor to ride.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tomorrow Night We Shine- The Olympics are HERE!!!!

I hate to open with a beer commercial... but there are some Canadian cliches that just cant be denied...

Here in Canada we are certainly not known for being overtly patriotic but, by this time tomorrow evening, when the 2010 Olympic Games open in Vancouver, I think the world may be surprised to discover that we, these quiet and unassuming Canadians have a whole lotta love for our country...

Seven years ago, when it was announced that Vancouver had won its bid for the games, there was no sense of reality about it... Like a child trying to contemplate a month long wait before a trip to Disney land, the idea that we would get the chance to shine under the spotlight on a World stage seemed too distant to contemplate....

The idea that roads, event facilities, accommodation and so much more would have to be built; that transportation, security, and a great opening ceremony would have to be planned- a pipe dream. And then, of course, there were the protesters, the naysayers and the less fervent friends and family that were opposed to the games and the inconveniences and costs they would create.

But then construction started. The road to my hometown was torn up and blasted away to create a wider highway, streets in Vancouver were opened whole to build a underground rail line from the airport to the city, Richmond's Speed Skating Oval was completed, mascots (Sumi, Quatchy and Miga) were unveiled and the Vancouver 2010 logo, with it's bright Olympic rings began to appear on merchandise and in commercials. The Games suddenly became much more real.

And then, as tomorrows long awaited date neared, the Olympic filled news and papers- overruns on budgets, protester rallies, and security concerns. This week British Colombians worried over the unseasonably warm weather, the lack of snow on Cypress, and speculated over who would make that finally leg to light the last cauldron and officially open the games.

It was a slow thing, almost unassuming, the way the fervor built- commercials featuring Canadian athletes pitching the slogan "Do You Believe", their stories, steeped in sentimentality and brought to life by the rich timbered voice of Donald Sutherland, struck a chord.

But it wasn't until the Olympic torch returned to British Columbia, having traveled overland through the Provinces and into the small towns across our nation, that the slow burning but fierce Canadian pride was ignited and with it, the reality of the Vancouver Olympics touched home.

Two days ago I awoke before dawn to the sound of cheering in the street. The Olympic flame was making it's way through the sleepy street of my hometown and though it was five in the morning, nearly a third of this cities population lined the streets to sing O'Canada. And so it was in other cities, where thousands turned out to pay homage, dressed in red and white, waving Canadian flags and cheering local heroes, musicians, and yes, hockey players, as they took their turn to carry the flame.

We Canadians don't normally wear our patriotism for all to see, but tomorrow evening I think we'll make an exception. The stage is set, the athletes are here and we are ready to host these games... more than that, we're ready to win GOLD!

Below- Mom was the first (of course) to jump in and ask this torch holder for a picture!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Arab Stink Eye!

Have you ever been given the 'stink eye' by an ol'Arabian gelding?

Well let me tell you, I sure have!

Would you think any less of me if I told you that this look...

I find a little scary?

... this is the look that says, "Back off Buddy! I ain't buyin' what you're sellin' so go peddle em' apples someplace else, or else... !!!"

But ever so often I come across that grumpy horse with the laid back ears and fierce stink eye and I get to thinkin' that maybe... just maybe it's all one big bluff...

And so I tentatively... oh-so-slowly reach out a trembling hand....I inch slowly towards his gnarly forelock... my fingers itching for the first soft touch of his silken coat.... but then I pause...there is that look again...

And I think to myself that maybe it isnt a bluff after all.

And so I tentatively, oh-so-slowly extract my hand from that ol' geldings reach....

And thank my lucky stars that it's still intact.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

DB's first love- Tabasco

From the time I first met DB it was apparent he had one true first love- Tabasco. Since that time I've come to embrace that lowly bottle of fiery orange sauce and even took to carrying a small bottle in my purse in case of emergency...

Emergency you say with doubt! Oh, but it is! Imagine the moment when some poor waitress must tell DB that their restaurant is *gasp* out of Tabasco!!! Or even worse! That they would inexplicably not carry it!??! Just picture DB's insolent expression of incomprehensibility. But wait... it gets even worse! Imagine when that waitress offers him some *cue scary music* other brand! Cant you just see DB's horrified expression... the incredulous way he spits out the words, "Franks Red Hot Sauce" and then turns his head to shudder with disgust.

Tabasco is an absolute necessity on eggs, hash browns, all meats, burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, and virtually every other food (except things sweet) that DB eats.

And so concludes the story of DB's first love, Tabasco and so completes this collection of Sunday Stills.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cue the "Awww"s... It's a Kitten...

I'd like you all to meet Tony...

Unfortunately, Tony is not my kitten.

Though I'd happily make him my kitten if his Momma would be so kind as to turn her back for just a moment while I slip him in my pocket and sneak out the door....

This face is just too cute to resist....

You know who else is cute?

Tony's big brother Diesel the Beagle....

That little itty bitty spot about mid-way down the trail would be Diesel. He accompanied Hawkydog, his Mom and I on a hike this afternoon.

Diesel may be little but that little dog is a mighty fierce walker....
But then so is this guy....

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Riding Lesson #3 with Pics

Riding lesson number three! And once again, I almost died. Once again, I absolutely loved it. My number one recommendation for those thinking of taking up the sport of English riding is to- for heaven's sake- take a months worth of cardio classes first!

(Just call me "Stumpy")
Of course it doesnt help that I'm grossly out of shape. But for the first time in along time I feel like I am on my way to feeling good, both physically and mentally. It just sucks that it take so damn long to get to where I need to be! A very kind fellow horseman, friend and photographer was around this evening to take some pictures of me riding. I've posted two of three. The third was just... not... flattering....even though it was a really nice photo.

That pretty paint I'm riding is Dustin, he's such a sweetie, I just love riding him. It's a good thing too because I find it difficult to stay on the top side of this guy and breathe at the same time let alone do some of the simpler things like directing, posting and keeping my hands up (which I'm not doing in the above photo.) Did I mention that it is necessary to breathe while riding? Funny thing, that.

Do you find it hard to ride and breathe at the same time?


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vacation Destination Recommendation? Hey! That rhymes!

My Mom, sister and I are pondering one of life's great questions...

Where we're going to go to escape the gray doldrums of this West Coast weather. We're planning a trip for the first week of March and cant decide where we'd like to go.... only that where ever it is there must be sun, nice warm weather and sandy beaches.

One of the biggest factors is cost. My mom is awesome at shopping for deal online but because havent focused on one specific area it has made it more difficult for her to narrow down our options.

There are a lot of cheap packages to Mexico but as my Mom and I love to cook (and because we are all pretty fussy eaters (and I dont drink) we've decided against an all inclusive (food and beverage). Also, I'm not crazy about grocery shopping in Mexico. We also agree that we'd prefer to be on the Caribbean side and not in a place that is jam packed with tourists.... but safety is of issue too.

Which is why Hawaii is at the top of our list right now.

But we cant decide which Hawaiian Island (or which city on which island) would be our best bet. Our plan for Hawaii is to rent a place through (vacation rentals by owner), as well as rent a car and to cook our own meals. The prices of flights right now are not great but we're going to wait and see if something comes on sale.

Miami, Texas, Bahamas, and the "eastern" destinations are an option but as we're on the West Coast we'd have to consider travel time.

Does anyone have a vacation destination recommendation? Hey! That rhymes!