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, May 25, 2016

breathe

It was a ride in the ring for a change--and I was zeroed in on my form. I was trying to sort out what I was doing with my hands, legs and seat, and how that was effecting Midas, and fix the things I was doing wrong (I know, isn't that what we always do when we ride? But this time I was paying close attention and being fairly methodical).

Midas was going along a bit quick and with his head up, and I was trying to use my aids correctly to invite him to soften and bend--and then I took a deep breath and let it out.

Immediately Midas slowed down and dropped his head.
.
.
.
Oh.
.
Right.
.
Breathe.
.
;
;
I picked up the old rhythm learned from kickboxing, in-through-the-nose, out-through-the-mouth with the rising and falling of the trot, and wouldn't you know everything started going better.

I still had to pay attention to half-halt properly with my fingers, and without crossing his withers, but the half halts started working the way I wanted.

I must've been all tense in my core, which certainly does nothing to invite a horse to relax beneath you. When I started to breathe, he did, too.

A good reminder.

We look so doofy. This whole selfie-cam thing is a lot harder than I was expecting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Oklahoma City


I've been to Oklahoma City lots and lots of times. And now that I have discovered the Marble Slab, I go there once or twice while I'm in town. Homemade ice cream with unlimited mix ins--this is what Coldstone Creamery is supposed to be, but they got lost and dumped three buckets of extra corn syrup into the ice cream for some reason. 





Warrants lots of pictures, it does.
Check out the fairy carriage:

A friend and I also hit the botanical gardens in Myriad Garden, much fun was had.


We liked the rain forest side better than the desert side--too hot in the desert!

Oh...and I got to hold a snake:
Yoyo the corn snake
I didn't get to hold the lemur, but I got to pat his tail.

Back to the Botanical Garden:
We ate at KD's restaurant--he's apparently a basketball player and this restaurant serves all his favorite food. And the menu's glow, which is the primary purpose of this photo:
...and again back to the Botanical Garden...blogger sorted these and I'm not in the mood to correct it.
There was a huge variety of cactus at the Botanical gardens. And about a bazillion varieties of aloe, too.
Some sort of ginger:

Zorro being silly.
The goose who planted himself at a crossroads to...watch the fish? Soak up the rays?



This is a mental sculpture--fakes you out a bit, though.


These are the gardens outside the Botanical Garden (which is inside that cylinder there)

On, faithful goldfish!


We had a good time, lots of good food, some nice sights, and of course a lot of work!


Monday, May 23, 2016

32 - Breakfast of Tears

“It’s a good thing I kept those extra nanny goats last year!” announced Ironsides, setting the pitcher and mugs on the table and beginning to pour. “Otherwise we’d only be sharing thimbles of their milk instead of cups,” he smiled and Quill and I moved over to the table to receive our mugs. “Milda will be in shortly with the rest of breakfast.” Ironsides settled himself on a bench, and we sat across from him sipping our milk.
“It’s good,” I said, just to say something.
“Thank you,” replied Ironsides.
After that no one said anything, just sat drinking goat’s milk and observing the shape of the room. I wanted to ask more about Narya’s sorcery, Quill’s father, the new king, and everything else. But I wasn’t sure I should with Ironsides there. Finally, Milda came in with breakfast—a warm porridge with bacon and quince on the side. Then at least we had the food to discuss, even if it was in short bursts. I felt as if the reality of the Nether Queen’s sorcery was sitting at the table with us—silent, imposing, and superior. Was Ironsides right when he said she was already too strong…and if so, did that matter? To what hope did Quill refer?  These questions took spots on the long benches also, and the room began to feel quite crowded to me. If Nadine were here conversation would have flowed easily in spite of all this. Or so I imagined. I hadn’t had the chance to discover if Nadine’s silver tongue had any effect on Quill’s stubbornness, but Ironsides at least would have talked. The princessly skill of table conversation was invaluable for diplomacy and information gathering—it was a tool I had to consciously pick up to use, whereas it was a part of Nadine. I wondered where my sister was, what she was doing, and if she were alright. Were they treating my family as valuable prisoners, protecting them as they should? Though nothing good could come of their imprisonment.
The porridge caught in my throat as grief from the past two weeks crashed down on me. A little food and sleep and suddenly I had energy to think about my problems again. My stomach turned over and I set down my spoon.
Quill and Ironsides both stopped to look at me. “Are you alright, my lady?” asked Quill.
I nodded. If by “alright” you mean “not choking to death,” then absolutely.
“What’s the matter, child?” asked Ironsides, setting his own spoon down, too.
I managed to meet his eyes. They were blue and kind, and if I looked too long I would cry.  “I’m sorry,” I stood up, “I was thinking of my family—thank you for breakfast!” I nearly ran out of the great room and down the hallway that led out of the house. The air was cool but the morning sun was warm as I picked a direction and kept going out of the front yard. I didn’t go back into the orange grove, but cut right and discovered the barns. Past those, in a rocky paddock full of goats, I found Sinker and Hook browsing happily. I went to them and after a quick greeting, leaned into Hook’s shoulder and cried. The horses continued to clip grass, though Hook occasionally reached back to nose me while I sobbed about everything that had happened in the past year. My tears so rarely come there is a backlog of things to cry over. I thought of everything from my favorite gown that burned with the palace, to embarrassing flubs at the circus, to the certain doom of my sister and parents. Not even the circus master’s broken boxes went unmourned. Finally, when my soul had run out of even the silliest memory to cry over, the tears stopped and I pulled away from Hook.
The black turned his head to nudge me, I patted him. “I should probably go get cleaned up,” I told him. He flicked an ear and nibbled my cuff. “Aww, thanks, I’m glad you don’t mind my face.” I sniffed and turned to go back to the house. I hoped I could sneak in—but there was no chance of that. Ayglos was leaning on the fence, waiting for me.
I walked toward him, embarrassed.
“You OK?” asked Ayglos as I slipped through the fence.
“Yes,” I let him pull me in for a hug, “I’m feeling better now.”
“Quill followed you here, then when Namal and I got up he told me where to find you,” explained my brother as we turned together for the house.
“Kind of him.”
“He’s a royal guard,” smiled Ayglos, “There was no way he was letting you disappear.”
“I meant to let me wail in peace—although I suppose our royal guard would have done that, too.” I desperately wanted to rub my face, but my hands were covered in horse-dirt and would only make matters worse. “I must look a sight.”
My brother snorted. “Any knight would leap to right the wrongs that caused your tears.”
I noticed that Ayglos had new clothes, too; fitted deep brown trousers and a shirt that was a dusky cherry tone. Like mine, they were good thick cloth, soft with wear. “You look nice,” I commented as we entered the yard.
“Ironsides is most generous,” replied my brother.
“Ayglos,” I stopped him before we could enter the house, “I was talking with Quill this morning—he said that Narya really is a sorceress—that Shyr Valla and her armies are truly gone without a trace.”
Ayglos turned back to look at me carefully. “He did?”
I nodded. “That is how Dalyn fell: Her armies were—disappeared—poof—and did not come to lift the siege. When no rescue came, the city fell.”
Ayglos considered this for a moment. Before he spoke I knew he had decided on skepticism. “There are any number of things that could have happened to that army,” he said at last. “Perhaps they joined her army,” He held up a hand to stop my protest, “Stranger things have happened. Though the city is a harder thing. Did Quill see it?”
I closed my mouth. Quill hadn’t said he’d seen it himself, technically, though I was sure he had.
Ayglos knew he had won his point. “There now, nothing is certain. There is no use worrying.” He led the way into the house, and had the good grace to take me to the hallway where all our rooms were rather than to the main hall.
He left me at my room and I washed my hands and splashed more water on my face. Not feeling quite ready yet to face the others, I also unbraided and combed my hair before twisting it back into braids and curling these into buns at the back of my head. When I was finished I took a deep breath and walked back to the main hall.
When I arrived my brothers were standing, staring at one of Quill’s men, who was sitting on a bench with a weary slump that implied a hard ride and a recent arrival.
“You’re sure?” asked Namal.
The man nodded. “It looks like they had wagon trouble. The wheels were mismatched like they’d had to get new ones on their way.”
“But you’re sure it’s them?” repeated Ayglos.
The man nodded again.
Just then Quill entered the room from the kitchen door, carrying a tray with a porridge bowl and a mug. His eyes met mine and he nodded to me before going to his man and setting the tray down before him. “Here you are, well earned.”
The scout, for he clearly was, gratefully fell upon the porridge. I walked up to the table and my brother’s noticed me for the first time.
“Zare,” Namal turned to me and held out an arm. I stepped in to his embrace. “Zare, they found our family.”

Friday, May 20, 2016

Jungle Book



Why did I go see the Jungle Book?

via

I can't really decide how I feel about Disney going through their classic stories and making live action versions. This isn't the first time they've done this, so I can't really be bothered, but it is hard to tell how excited to be for each rendition.

I enjoyed Maleficent and Cinderella, and Jon Favreau was in charge of The Jungle Book so I was hopeful. In case you don't know, Jon Favreau is the guy who brought you Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, and launched the Marvel cinematic universe. He also played Tony Stark's body guard, Happy. You didn't know that you already liked him, did you?

I follow Jon Favreau's page on Facebook, so that is actually where I got most of my promotional this and that for Jungle Book--the occasional poster, casting news, or teaser kept me interested and optimistic. If nothing else, this movie was going to be gorgeous.

When the movie finally came out, my brother texted me and told me in all caps that he loved it. Well, OK, then. Given the scope of the setting, I thought this was one film best experienced on the silver screen. I was right--this movie is beautiful to watch--so much color in the flora and fauna!

It's very nostalgic for those of us who grew up singing the Bear Necessities, but the story is tightened a little bit, and I felt that I liked this Mowgli better than the animated Mowgli.

Ben Kingsley shines as Bagheera--and Idris Elba is a perfectly terrifying Shere Khan. It took a bit for me to accept Bill Murray as Baloo, but I got used to it.

Not giving any spoilers, but Jungle Book is definitely a nice way to spend your evening!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

that trouble spot

You know how sometimes horses have a particular part of the arena where they misbehave? I wonder why that is. There is not pain or fear associated with that space, and the horse has no issue at all with the space if I am not sitting on his back.

I mean, sometimes it is obvious. Like, in the riding ring: The gate is where Midas is an idiot.

Sometimes it's a spot where something scary happened that one time, and the horse has a vivid memory and just spooks there with little to no provocation.

Midas has picked a spot in the field to be a total idiot under saddle. When you get close to Wellie's gate on your way out into Midas's field--only when mounted, mind you--he spins and heads for the barn.

There is nothing scary there.

He drinks from a water bucket right where he's looking.

This is also newish. In the past two years. (Granted, we haven't really ridden a ton in that field ever)

I think he's being a jerk, just like he is about the gate in the arena. It's a habit? This is just what I do here? And I have to motivate him to change the habit?



Midas had a scary spot in the ring--he always looks for things to spook at in the far end of the arena. To be fair, there is often local wildlife rustling around over there. But it's all prey animals like him, so nothing that will actually hurt him, even if the "spook first think later" reflex is legit.

After doing some reading on how to deal with his scary spot we did scads of groundwork in that area. Mostly to just exist in that space without anything bad happening. He does still spook there occasionally but it is a total nonevent which bears no reaction on my part and he immediately returns to whatever he was doing before he startled sideways.

This is not the issue with our spin and run on our way out in the field. He's not afraid, or in pain, shouldn't have pain or fear associated with that spot--so I think I've ruled out all the innocent equine reasons. Or have I?

In thinking through the similarities between Wellie's gate and the ringgate, I am coming to the conclusion that we're just going to have to fight it out over weeks of riding in that field. And it will likely be an ugly fight every time. Like, really strong one rein stops/solid heel to side when he sucks back and spins. It's a bit harder to cope with a 180 degree spin rather than a 90 degree spin.

Ugh. I'm not really looking forward to this bit of schooling. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

31-History

When I awoke the room was awash with soft sunlight. I wondered on which end of the day I was waking. I rolled to my feet and looked down at myself. If I had been civilized, I would have shed my dirty clothes before sleeping. I shed them now, and finding a basin and pitcher of water on the little table by the bed, washed up in the chilly water. There was a pair of dark billowy trousers and a pale blue shirt waiting at the end of the bed. The cloth was a good thick cotton and some simple embroidery adorned the waistband of the pants. Nothing too fancy but well-made and worlds above the rags I had been wearing, I pulled them on gratefully. The trousers were slim through the hips and upper leg, then plumed out before coming back to wide cuffs at the ankles. The cut was more typical of summer, but this fabric was definitely suited for winter and I liked the way it fell. My daggers belted on much better over this ensemble and I felt pretty—it was nice. I pulled my sad shoes on and ventured out into the hallway and headed back the way we’d come the night before.
Ironsides’s home was uncomplicated, and I had no difficulty finding the central room with the fireplace. The fire was going and I saw Quill and Ironsides standing by the mantle looking quite serious. I approached and discovered they were arguing.
“It is too soon. The sting of her victory is too fresh,” said Ironsides.
“Shouldn’t that make the people all the more willing to rebel? They still remember what it was like before the Nether Queen!” replied Quill. “Wouldn’t it be better to stop her before she gets even stronger?”
“She is already too strong,” Ironsides countered, frustration in his voice, “Or have you forgotten what happened to Dalyn’s armies?
Quill paused, “I have not forgotten.” Each word stood by itself like candles in the night.
Ironsides softened then. “Then keep doing what you’re doing—be a thorn in her side—be a wound that festers. Be hope.”
Just then Quill noticed me. He turned, “Lady Zare,” and their serious air dropped to the ground like a magician’s cape.
“Good morning,” I said, stepping closer and resting my hands on the back of a big chair. “It is morning, isn’t it?”
“It is, indeed,” Ironsides smiled kindly, “I am surprised to see you up, you are the first.”
“Thank you for the clothes,” I dipped in a little curtsy, lifting the flowy sides of my trousers.
“You’re welcome, they become you,” Ironsides bowed in return and then turned toward the kitchen door, “I will let them know we’ve got one more for breakfast.”
I looked at Quill. He was watching me closely–but with a neutral expression which would make diplomats envious.  “Ironsides doesn’t approve of Dalyn’s rebellion?” I asked, quietly.
Quill’s eyes sparked then, and he shifted, “You heard.”
I nodded. “What do you think?”
Quill met my gaze. His eyes were a deep brown and I was startled how unguarded they were. I felt like our souls were staring at each other. At first it was unsettling, but then I realized that I liked what I saw.
“Do you know how the wars started?” he asked, breaking the spell.
Of course I did, I was royalty. I recited, “Laird Wynn of Shyr Valla declared war on Narya Magnific of Hirhel because of repeated assassination attempts on the life of the crown princess, A’rora Wynn.”
“Do you also know how Shyr Valla fell? Or Dalyn?”
My heart jumped. Would he tell me? “Not really,” I said slowly, “Everything about battle is rumor: Convoluted tales told by spies and peddlers who insist that Shyr Valla is gone without a trace.”
Quill looked into the fire, “Dalyn, as you know, was Shyr Valla’s strongest ally. Due in large part to the engagement between our crown prince, Trinh Kegan, and A’rora Wynn. The day Shyr Valla fell Trinh Kegan was defending her with a large contingent of Dalyn’s army. My father was an officer among them.
“There was a mighty wind on the mountains that day, and then Narya Magnific and her army marched out of the hills and fell upon Dalyn. Dalyn, of course, was not so well defended as she ought to have been—with the bulk of her armies in the mountains. But the city also assumed that she was being attacked instead of Shyr Valla, and that Trinh Kegan would discover this and come to her aid. But days turned to weeks and no rescue came. Our fears grew wild and weakened the cities’ already tottering defenses so Dalyn fell to Narya’s horde. The king was executed, with many of his guard, and his younger son, Tar Kegan, who was only fourteen, was set up as a puppet king in his stead.” Quill paused.
I said nothing. This might have been my story if Galhara had fallen without burning to the ground.
“Later, when things were more settled under Narya’s thumb, our new king secretly sent scouts to Shyr Valla to find out what had happened. Except there was no Shyr Valla to find.” A bitter edge crept into his voice, “The city is gone. Gone as if she had never been. And whatever horror befell her also befell her armies. There were no bones, no bodies, no scorched funeral pyres, no burial mounds. No hint of a great battle of any sort. Just an eerie feeling and grass.”
I stared at him. I had been around overblown rumors so long I wasn’t surprised by the story, and was accustomed to wondering if the rumors were real. I had no doubt that Quill was one of the scouts who’d gone to Shyr Valla, and that he was telling the truth. This forced me from the comfort of uncertainty into a terrifying reality. What devilry simply wiped a city and army out of existence?
Quill tore his gaze from the fire and looked at me again.
I swallowed. “So she is a sorceress.”
He nodded. “But, she has not used magic like that since Shyr Valla. Its rumor goes before her and makes all her other conquests easier. Some cities have surrendered upon receiving her declaration of war. Magic is costly to her, I think, and she uses it shrewdly.”
“Oh, that makes it much easier to cope with,” I said.
“It does,” Quill laughed and I smiled in spite of myself. “My lady, we have hope now. My king desires to throw off her yoke and avenge his kin, and I serve my king. The Nether Queen hasn’t conquered all yet.”
Before I could ask Quill what hope he was referring to, Ironsides came striding back into the room carrying a pitcher and three mugs. I guessed that story-time with Quill was over.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

New Mexico


Traveled a lot last month for work. I checked another state off my list:
Never been to New Mexico before!


It was actually pretty overcast most of the time, but we had two beautiful sunsets while we were there.


I also got to go to Krispy Kreme when they had their hot donuts sign lit.


Would you believe there wasn't a line? I was sure there would be a line...

The desert land was all abloom:

And the New Mexico style food was quite tasty!


We didn't do much other than work--so mostly I saw the sky and my hotel room. But we did go to Taco Tote and some local friends took me to El Patron, which was very good.

Stacked enchiladas, baby. Poblano cream sauce for the win.
And exactly one scenic drive through a fancy neighborhood on the foothills looking up at the Sandias.




That sky, though.




We left before dawn.....I noticed this statue at the rental car return.


And I couldn't get a good shot of the clouds spilling over the mountains...but if you ignore the plane you can see it...so spectacular.


This was my airplane drawing project:
I listened to On The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson on my ipod an worked away with my watercolor crayons and my markers.

I wonder how many other people draw with physical mediums on planes...


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