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."

-C.S.Lewis


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sidepass, Day 1

I tried to teach Midas something new the other day--we are trying to learn the sidepass from the ground.

A sidepass is when a horse moves completely sideways, like a crab. It requires a lot of control and balance--and like martial artists, horses avoid crossing their legs unless they absolutely MUST because it compromises their balance.

Besides the cool factor, and the upper level dressage potential, I want to be able to cue him to sidepass his little self right up to a mounting block or fence so I can get on without straining his back.

I've already taught him to cross his rear legs on cue (yield the haunches) and his forelegs (yield the forehand) so to teach him to yield both at the same time I'm pointing at his shoulder and haunches at the same time.

When I pointed him at a fence and started cuing both his shoulder and his hip he tried absolutely everything he could think of--moving his shoulder, then his hip, then backing, then scooting forward--trying to figure out what on earth I was asking for. Then he got frustrated and stopped trying.

It was so incredibly relate-able that I asked him to do something else, which he did gladly, just so he could succeed at something.  We gave sidepass another try later. We didn't make a lot of progress on that exercise. But it took us months to learn to yield the forehand, so I'm not too worried (though, I was somehow surprised he didn't automatically get it.)


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In hindsight, I probably should have rewarded him for scooting front and back in turns, and from there encouraged him toward doing them simultaneously. Hopefully I haven't scarred him too badly and we can take that approach next time.

I was pleased, though, just how hard he tries to do what I ask.


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Note: We've had a second work session on the sidepass since I wrote this, and it went much better. He actually took a step with front and back at the same time, without getting frustrated or confused. So we quit pretty quick!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sipping Chocolate

Ever since reading Calico Captive as a teenager, I have been fascinated with the idea of sipping chocolate.

This year I actually made it a couple times during the holidays, and may very well make it again as the winter progresses.

It's very good.

So much depends on the chocolate you use, but I've actually really enjoyed my Costco brand chocolate chips. Who knew, right? I should really try it with some of the fancy organic fairtrade $4/bar chocolates and see how that changes the experience, but so far the chocolate chips are doing the trick.


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One of the really fun parts is garnish--or whatever else you call the last  finishing touch ingredient. So far my favorite is cinnamon sprinkled on top, but cinnamon with a spit of hot chili powder is also good. You could also use whipped cream, or whipping cream straight, lavender or rose (if you like drinking flowers), orange zest, fancy salt, vanilla sugar...Lindt bar flavors are great inspiration for chocolate toppers.

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Cheers!

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The Recipe (adapted from the Tasty Kitchen Blog)

3 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
8 oz chocolate finely chopped
1 tsp maple syrup or honey (I used honey)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used homemade bourbon vanilla extract)
dash salt (brings out the flavor)

Warning: This is a really, really rich drink. Tasty Kitchen says it makes 4 servings. You have to have a serious capacity to down chocolate to only get 4 servings out of this. You could generously serve 6, or comfortably serve 8. This recipe does alright the next day chilled, though, so leftovers are not the end of the world.

Warm the milk and cream to nearly a simmer, add the chopped chocolate and whisk till melted. Add the honey, vanilla extract and dash of salt. Simmer and whisk about 4 minutes until starting to thicken.

Serve with cinnamon or whipped cream. Or both. Sky's the limit.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Goals for 2015

Coming up with goals for the new year has been harder than I thought. It's easy to think of things I want to improve, but a concrete plan for making it happen? That's harder. But here's a start anyway.


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Many things can be changed by choosing to change your default actions, and then policing yourself to actually do it. Riding is so much about setting the horse up to succeed, making changes in your life is much the same.

Fitness: I specifically want to improve my stamina and my strength (without betting bulky--I already can't wear most blazers comfortably, thank God for Target making a jersey blazer). So, more sleep, jumping jacks and/or some ab/core exercise while the shower is warming. Brief workout when I get home from work, plus a more formal 1x/week work out with a buddy. Later in the year, maybe another martial art.

Writing: In theory, if I go to bed earlier, I will be able to get up earlier, which leaves again a spot in the morning routine for "the daily pages," or writing at least a few words every day. This how the first Zare story was primarily written. Conference season at work (Mar--June for me) wreaks havoc on this habit, but I'll try!

Riding/training: This winter want to expand our ground work control--I also want to improve bridling and address of his mounting block issues. So at least I know what I need to read up on.

Eat more greens:  step one is already done, I have given myself permission to buy salad dressings that I actually like. Step two is to remember to eat it.

Improve creative skills: this one is easy. I don't need motivation to learn drawing, photography, cooking, painting, or sewing, I just need the mental permission to prioritize it. So I'm putting it here.

Style: I have a lot of clothes. I don't need all the clothes I have, and as I've been working toward streamlining my wardrobe, I feel less like I have nothing to wear. I like this feeling, I also enjoy owning my things rather than my things owning me, so I want to keep moving down this road.

Travel: Zorro and I often barely remember to take a vacation, one year we forgot. This year, we want to plan ahead and hit one of the places we've been wanting to. Passports, ready!

I guess the bigger picture things kinda fall in place with the other things--or vice versa. I'm looking forward to this year. Well, I guess I'm already wading into the midst of it, and glad.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

wampa vest

This vest. It's warm. It's furry. It makes me laugh.

It also goes with almost everything. Who knew a fast fashion piece could be so versatile?

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AE jeans. Shoemint booties. Vest via Threadup. VS sweater. Naturalizer purse. Homemade necklace.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Brrr

It was such a bitterly cold day, I was so grateful that I had found my scarf, rancher gloves and cashmere beanie before this cold hit. I actually had most of my winter barn gear stored in my office at work, and in all the chaos of pulling EVERYTHING out of my office I lost track of my gear for nearly a month.

Reunited just in time to rock out our own keep-warm-or-bust fashion line together.

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No one was moving around much that day. Midas and I did a few minutes of ground work, then I handed out treats to everyone and went back inside. Just too cold to do more than absolutely necessary.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

life as an office refugee

I mentioned briefly awhile back that pipes burst at my office and so there has been a bit of upheaval at work. Basically, that means that an entire wing of our building was emptied and half gutted. Most of the displaced workers are set up in one big open room at tables--wires hanging from the ceiling and straight back wooden chairs. Three of us were set up in cubicles in a different wing.

A very busy wing, bustling with people and hallway-conferences and collaborative meetings and the noise and goofiness that comes from the creative team atmosphere. It's been a lot of fun, but a little bit exhausting since I'm an introvert at heart--plus, usually my department is 75% offices and most of our work is not collaborative. My co-workers and I barely saw each other before. Now that we have adjusted to hearing each other work, we'll miss it when it's gone. Even if we'll be glad to have space, windows, and some quiet.

We've been thoroughly accepted by our temporary home, which has been lovely. The first week felt downright festive. Then it got tiring. Now I've largely adjusted to the rhythm of the new space, and can be thoroughly distressed by my heavily cluttered cube.

If we can take the native culture with us, can I still have my office back?

Here is a snap shot of my borrowed cube. It's owner got bumped two cubes down, and has been simply marvelous about it.

You see my fish crammed in the corner and my jerry-rigged keyboard...the mousepad was harder and it's really not high enough. oh well.

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I've started fantasizing about how I'll decorate my office when I get it back, this is what it looks like now:
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The condemned bookshelf has it's own little zen going on in the smack center of the room.

My office was never much to look at, and I would like to change that. I've got some art that doesn't really fit in at my house, but should all fit together pretty well, and I've drawn up a new layout.  Hopefully it all fits because I was only eyeballing dimensions!

In the mean time, this is the Cube Life! I got a coke that said "Share a coke with Legend," which I'll take to apply to Zare, since that's about as close as I can get to sharing a coke with Legend.

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Zare mostly just sidecracked about how it wasn't cane sugar glass bottle coke. Pick.y.

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