C. S. Lewis

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."


Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Lightroom and Flickr must have had a spat. I set Lightroom to uploading pictures to Flickr and it only puts a few up from the list. They seem to be picked randomly.

I didn't take many pictures of the colorful trees this year. I snagged only a few toward the end in the parking lot at work--though will all the green in this picture it  certainly doesn't look like the end is near. I love fall, it's so beautiful and the cool air is such a relief from the humidity of summer. I will grant you, though, that this summer was mild. A mercy I appreciate since I was always hot from dragging myself around on crutches!

Leather jacket weather is still a good thing.





Monday, November 23, 2015

15-In Good Company

15-In Good Company
We all looked at Quill in surprise. He’d said nothing at all about being the captain of his unit. How was he possibly old enough to be a captain?
“I am alive, indeed, Jemin,” replied Quill, approaching the newcomer and clasping his hand in greeting. “Report.”
“Five have wounds of one sort or another—but no one has or is likely to die from them,” replied the man. He was barrel chested, bearded, and looked older than Quill by a couple years—but at this point I wasn’t sure I was good at guessing men’s ages. Jemin continued, “When you did not come yesterday we feared the worst.”
Quill grimaced and gestured to his leg. “Caught a quarrel from one of those crossbows.” He glanced back at us, “And then took a detour. Bring us to the camp, we need rest and food and to make a new plan.”
Jemin turned and led us further down the gully until it opened out a bit and got shallow again. I could smell the stream long before we saw the quiet little pool and lazy water by which the soldiers of Dalyn had made their campsite. It was a nice spot.
The men were all standing by the time we arrived and a chorus of pleased murmurs celebrated Quill’s safe return. I got the particular feeling that the presence of five strangers significantly stymied their rejoicing. Quill hobbled to the center of the little camp. “Gentlemen,” he announced, stopping and turning to face us. “I present to you the royal princes and princess of Galhara.”
The surprised looks and soft intake of breath were gratifying. Even more gratifying was the way they snapped to attention. Royal again. My chest swelled.
Gabe and Balleck shifted uncomfortably; but Namal, the rightful crown prince of Galhara, stepped forward. “At ease,” his voice filled the little glen. “We have come for your aid.” He summed up the little raid which had shattered our new life and ended with a suitably humble request for their help rescuing our family.
Namal had directed his plea to the group at large, and I was surprised when it was Quill who answered.
“We are sworn to the protection of Dalyn. You were our allies before all was lost, and we would honor that alliance. You are welcome in our company and protection, and we will do what we can to help you regain your own.”
Captain. Of course.
Quill gestured to a big man who had a shock of curly blond hair, “Your highnesses, this is Vaudrin, my second in command.”
Vaudrin bowed. My brothers bowed in return, and I dipped in a tiny curtsy. Vaudrin was leaner built than the barrelish Jemin, and he was taller. He, like the rest standing around the glen, was on the young side of a soldier’s prime. Quill addressed Vaudrin, “Do we have any food we can share with our guests?”
“Yes, sir,” replied Vaudrin. With a gesture, he passed the order on and the glen came alive with activity. Quill’s soldiers moved like ghosts and barely spoke. Some of the men tended my prizes, others unfurled our bedrolls and began to set out food on a blanket. They built no fire—naturally—but they had a supply of olives, dates, and bread. Our own provisions were actually better, and I made sure our cheeses and slightly fresher breads made it out to the humble table.
Once all the food was set out Quill motioned for my brothers and me to take what we would first, then the rest of the men did likewise. We all carried our bread and cheese to our bedrolls. No one spoke, and the quiet sound of eating reminded me of sitting in a field with grazing animals. I didn’t know who could possibly be around to hear the soldiers in this secluded place, but they certainly weren’t taking any chances.
The long golden shadows of evening dappled the glen and danced on the face of the stream. I wanted to go touch the water and feel the comfort of its music. I didn’t. Instead I picked up Boitumelo’s satchel and went over to where Quill was sitting in close conference with Vaudrin. His leg stuck out in front of him like the beak on a heron.
Quill looked up as I approached. “Your highness.”
Vaudrin moved as if to stand but I stopped him with a lift of my hand. My, royalty was nice.
I dipped my chin toward the satchel. “Let me see to your leg, Captain.”
Quill grimaced. “It will spoil my supper.”
“I waited till you were finished—and it will spoil your life if I don’t,” I retorted.
My mysterious archer dropped his head. “Very well.” He shifted to his side to expose his wounded calf.
I knelt on the ground by his leg and began unwinding the bandage. “Vaudrin, if you wouldn’t mind sending for water from the stream?” I asked, flicking my eyes to the blond henchman.
Vaudrin nodded, “Of course, your highness.” He jumped up and moved off as softly as a breath of wind on a summer day.
“We have never had royalty among us on a mission before,” said Quill, looking away from his leg while I worked. “They don’t know which courtly manners to keep here in the wilds and which are only for civilization.”
“Then they are in good company, since we have not used courtly manners since our city burned and are not accustomed to behaving our rank.” It was only a slight exaggeration. After we fled Galhara we spent a month in the halls of my grandfather, under Daisen Bay. There, we were welcome and as royal as we had been born. My grandfather’s castle had air just like the world above, but those without nymph blood could hardly be expected to live happily under water. My mother, myself, and my siblings were the only Galhirim comfortable in my grandfather’s kingdom. So my father brought us ashore in search of a new life, and perhaps an escape. We found the circus.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

horse therapy

One year, at the horse races at Oatlands, with a rambunctious crowd running around with complete disregard for the horses and which way they were facing, someone noticed Midas. He was completely un-phased by all the people running up behind him to see the finish, and not the slightest bit worried about the way they eddied around him like foamy water.

The lady who runs the equine therapy barn in the area came up and said they wanted him when he retires.

I had to laugh. Especially then.

This is the horse that hazes his riders something fierce when they are on their own for the first time with him, this is the horse that people barely take off farm without Ace to slow him down.

But, he does know his job at the races.

And he is very gentle.

And he is getting better at everything all the time.

These pictures are from September, I think. I brought out a co-worker who has had some serious health issues in the past. She'd never really been around horses before, so Midas and I taught her some ground work before doing some work on the lunge line.



They didn't actually go anywhere by themselves, but I handed her the rope for the picture--you only need one rein to stop him, after all. He wasn't going anywhere, though.


Monday, November 16, 2015


They hadn’t waited for us. We came around a bend and saw our four companions walking toward us. Namal was in the lead, Gabe hovered near the limping Quill, and Balleck brought up the rear. Ayglos and I urged our horses faster to quickly close the awkward gap between being sighted and giving explanations.
Everyone stopped when we pulled up. Namal put his hands on his hips. “What have you done?” he asked, gesturing to the horses.
“I didn’t steal anything, if that’s what you’re worried about,” I jumped off Hook. “I won a wager at a horse farm.”
Ayglos weighed in, “It’s true, and I don’t think he’s the type to be sore about it.”
“Does that mean your prizes are dysfunctional?” said Namal, eyeing them suspiciously.
“Not anymore,” I said.
“Quite possibly,” said Ayglos.
I glared at him—albeit halfheartedly. He shrugged. Turning back to Namal, I explained, “We needed horses. Quill can’t walk like we have been. I brought Ayglos.” I lifted my chin defiantly. Ayglos: The ultimate seal of legitimacy.
Namal eyed me, and then sighed. “What’s done is done, I guess. I’ll spare you the reminders about everything that could have—and still could—go wrong.” He gestured to the others, “Load them up, then.”
I caught Balleck’s eye and he winked, a proud smile twisting the corners of his mouth. I smiled, too. Leading Hook forward, I might have brushed closer to him than necessary on my way over to Quill. My brothers and Balleck set to loading our packs onto Line and Sinker.
“I assume you can ride?” I stopped next to Quill and Gabe.
Even pale and weary, Quill managed to give me a withering look. “Of course.”
“No one has ridden Hook but me,” I added, “So be gentle.”
Quill arched a brow, “You brought a wild horse to carry your cripple? I feel so cared for.”
“You should, it wasn’t easy.”
Hook snorted.
I patted his neck. “Come say hello, you can’t just get on without formalities.”
Quill grunted, but hobbled a step closer, offering the back of his hand to the black horse. Hook sniffed it and looked away. Quill patted Hook’s neck and the black allowed it. Gabe came next and performed the same ritual, then turned to the task of getting Quill onto the black.
I held Hook and explained what was happening to him while the strongman and the archer tried to find a way to get the archer astride without just heaving him on like a sack of oranges. Though, that is, essentially, what ended up happening. Once everything was situated we set off again down the road. I walked by Hook’s head, just in case he decided to have a nervous breakdown about carrying a rider, and Balleck fell in step beside me.
We were now some of the wealthiest pilgrims in the region, no doubt, thanks to my success. However, we were sufficiently bedraggled that the other travelers we encountered largely ignored us. Nothing of interest happened this part of the journey as there was nothing to do but walk. Every now and then Namal would lead us in a hymn—a nice touch to our cover and oddly encouraging at the same time.
We passed the road which would have led us to Gillenwater and kept on. We took a brief rest for lunch of bread and cheese then continued on our way. In the late afternoon Quill announced, “Let’s stop and rest for a while.”
Only by ‘stop and rest’ he meant dive off the side of the road into the forest and wend our way deeper over rough terrain—where Line the donkey was by far the steadiest on his feet—until we came to a cozy little gully. Quill slid off Hook and hobbled forward, his head thrown back like he was looking for something in the trees.
Then a burly man stepped out of the shadows. “Captain! You’re alive!”

Thursday, November 12, 2015


I was sitting on the ground reading a horse training book. Midas was grazing nearby. Thornton came out of his stall to graze with us (no, really, he came and stayed out and close by while we were there, and retired to his stall when I put Midas away).

When I tried to take a picture of him being all scenic, he thought I was coming to give him presents.

With a face like that, I had to go back and get him some. Sheesh, boy, could you be more adorable?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

all's fair

I have taken to rewarding Midas with a few moments to graze after we do some groundwork--it was an experiment in quick and very memorable reward that didn't come from my hand.  It's a reward that means something to him, and I try to be very consistent in my commands that it must be something I give him permission to do. He cannot snack on work time.

He has remained very respectful of graze-time being up, so I've kept the reward a part of our groundwork routine. It doesn't necessarily mean we're done, but it means I'm very pleased with whatever we just did. He loves it.

The Ham finished his groundwork with Midas and we turned to head into the barn to tack up. Midas paused at the grass and dipped his head, watching us expectantly. The Ham called him to keep coming--and to Midas's credit he did walk forward. Then a tissue fell out of the Ham's pocket and Midas stopped to investigate--I don't know exactly what happened after that, but I suspect that Midas was a touch miffed that he'd been good and wasn't being rewarded with grass--I suspect he decided to eat since he was down there with the weird white thing--and the Ham saw the grab as direct disobedience and decided to send Midas away.

Midas went--with peeved energy and after a couple turns with both of them showing lots of energy, the Ham crouched and invited Midas in. Midas stopped running, but stood, waiting: Disinclined to come closer. I told the Ham to walk in small circles, so he did, and beckoned to the horse. Then Midas came forward and fell in step. Then they walked into the barn past the grass.

And Midas was not happy.

He stood like a statue and obeyed every request as usual, but his ears were back and he was definitely unhappy.

I realized suddenly that he felt that the entire grass incident had been very unfair. He'd been good, he deserved a reward--possibly mistook a motion for permission, or decided to reward himself, I didn't see--and then he'd been punished (by being sent away) perhaps with more energy than had been warranted.

Interestingly, he wasn't mad at me, so my patting and soothing made no difference in his mood.

So, before we could ride, he and the Ham had to make good.

Pats and affection.

I had the Ham go back out with him and ask him to do something very simple. They went out and the Ham asked Midas to follow him through a very simple figure then he brought him over and offered him grass as a reward.

Midas gave him a very incredulous look. If he could talk, he probably would have said, "Is this a joke? It had better not be a joke." Or, being an older, seasoned horse, it might have been saltier language.

The Ham offered again, three different ways, before finally convincing Midas that it really was a legit offer of grass.

Then the horse ate, and the Ham waited a minute or two before patting him and telling him to come along.

After that, Midas was happy. Though, he gave the Ham a few more incredulous looks. I think he finds the Ham unpredictable, and that makes him more guarded around him. The Ham kind of feels the same way. It's an interesting relationship to watch.

We proceeded to both have excellent rides.

Midas thinks cameras are dumb. He was happy till I got it out, promise. 


Horses are really fascinating creatures. I'm continually impressed with their intelligence and their sense of fairness. Navarre was the first horse who succeeded in teaching me that his behavior was not random, or even rebellious--he had a deep sense of fairness, and he taught me to pay attention to why he was doing things.

Midas is just as fair--if he tests me, he doesn't resent being being corrected. It's assuring for him--I am strong, I am able, I can lead and take care of him. Essential things for prey to know.

If he didn't mean to do anything wrong and I punish him, he's either horrified, confused or angry. (By punishment I mean send him away--if liberty work--or big/harsh half halt or kick if under saddle--or keep asking with the stick if trying a new ground exercise). And the punishment should fit the crime, to use an old adage. Make a big deal out of a little thing and the horse will either be freaked out or resentful--depending on their personality.

The Ham and I are learning to see the differences in Midas's reactions, and adjust our communication accordingly so he can understand what we want from him. It's instinctive, intuitive...and yet also learned.

How amazing it is to communicate with a 1000 lb animal which cannot use the tongues of men.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Black Cat(s)

Apparently, black cats are the last to be adopted from shelters, and the first to be put down. Superstition hanging on, I guess?

Which is really sad. I mean, look at that face:

Or this face:

Our faithful barn cat, Purrl, died of old age and kidney failure. And a family of three has come to take up the mouser mantel.

 This is Bucket, he's pretty adorable.

 If it moves, he hunts it, if it doesn't move, he hunts it.

 This is Belle. She was quite shy at first, but now that she's been at the barn a couple weeks she has warmed up and is quite sociable and friendly. Climbing into empty laps for love and pats like a pro.

 This is Bowtie, the older brother. He's reserved, but polite.

We're enjoying the newcomers, trying to make sure we have a few minutes to spare after rides to say hello and wrestle with Bucket. Bucket will be the cat who climbs onto your head in the winter...he's already climbing onto shoulders.

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