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."


Thursday, April 17, 2014

crowd control

and they're off!

We worked crowd control at a point-to-point (read: steeple chase, like National Velvet) this past weekend. At the event, I was absorbed and focused on the event. Afterwards, I realized just how amazing Midas is.

bird's eye view for the announcer

He handles crowds incredibly well. Granted, he has done this annual event for 8ish years now, and he is accustomed to foxhounds underfoot. But the races careening past, the screaming crowds, the shrieking little kids, the drunken spectators and the big floppy derby hats blowing off in his face and between his legs don't phase him. Even the umbrella that blew onto the course didn't bug him (though it might have if it had blown into him). The BBQ tent, the ice cream truck, the slamming outhouse doors, and the barking dogs...all part of the show. The many people walking behind him without thought or warning or berth of any sort, no problem. That horse behaved so well that the therapeutic riding stable asked if they could have him.

prepared for take off

The only times he looked askance at things were when he was being passive aggressive about being made to walk when he wanted to be eating grass. He listened to me when I said not to even think about looking askance at things.

This is by far the most relaxed we've both been at this event.

some friends came!

I developed a spiel to preempt the questions from the non-horse people (His name is Midas, he's a boy, he's half Belgian half Thoroughbred (sometimes I elaborated to half plow horse half race horse if they looked really un-horsey)..... Some of the outriders hate the questions, but I think they secretly love the opportunity to know infinitely more than everyone else. I see it as a chance to teach people about the things that I love. Even if it's cutely painful sometimes (Bystander: "Does he have any babies?" Me: "No, he doesn't have any babies..." [inside: there is no way he was bejeweled long enough to make babies] Bystander: "They'd be sweet babies" Me: "They'd have attitude." [inside: I should really just say thank you...])

staking out the backside of the infield with a nice view of half the race course...and the outhouses

I love letting the little horse crazy girls pat him, because they remind me of me. In particular there was the girl who looked about 7 years old who asked me if there were any Arabians here at all--I told her most likely not, it's all Thoroughbreds and a few crosses in this crowd--but I have always loved Arabians. She smiled and said "Me too!"

Midas was sleepy-tired

That is so me as a child. I hope she gets her Arabian some day. My tastes over the years have shifted more to individuals rather than breeds, but I wouldn't complain if someone gave me an Arabian!

prepping the day before the races

Purrl wanted to help clean my boots

Or at least be involved somehow

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Divergent Movie

I said I would review the Divergent trilogy here, and I haven't. Partly because I'm still sorting out what I think about it. And also I have several friends in the midst of reading it still, which makes me reluctant to post spoilers. (I know, I know, Allegiant has been out quite a while).

The movie, however, is fair game. I have read Divergent (book 1) twice now, and watched almost every sneak peak and early release trailer for the film with morbid fascination. I wanted to watch, but I just wasn't thrilled with what I saw. The curiosity was such that I knew I had to see it in theaters. I ended up going twice, rather by accident. The first time I was following along being surprised by changes and the second time I could just enjoy it. Yup, I really enjoyed it.

This probably isn't a proper review, but more the thoughts from a book fan mulling over an adaptation.

If you haven't seen the film, there are spoilers below:


First, as adaptations go, this fits with the newer trend of hit movies that work hard to stick as close to the book as possible.  When Disney made Ella Enchanted they really really really changed a lot in the world and story. They kind of reimagined the reimagining and made a very different story (diminished and distracted, in my opinion) that followed the same basic plot and characters but changed fundamentals of the world.

The Divergent movie is not that. Divergent falls in with the Princess Bride, LotR and Hunger Games group of adaptations that made serious effort to keep to the core of the original work. (Purists, hold your tomatoes, I'm aware that LotR in particular made some major plot changes--but you cannot argue with the spirit of the adaptation).

This core-adhering spirit actually tends to make plot departures a little bit more jarring, since you are lulled into thinking you're reading the book rather than watching the movie.

On the whole, I found the way they streamlined the story for a two hour movie exceptional. They string important scenes together smoothly, cutting out extra stuff, background characters and plots (though, if you watch the background, you can see some of them) and they refrain from adding extraneous sequences that weren't even in the book.

I have only read one review of the film by someone who hadn't read the book, and I was greatly encouraged to see that they got basically the same story I did as a book fan--though of course what I saw had more depth and nuance (see background characters).

My visual impressions: I felt that they really pegged the city, and every factions living quarters, except for Dauntless. The Pit was smaller than I imagined, and the chasm was much, much smaller than I imagined. It also had no railing on one side, which wouldn't bother me at all except for the way they shot the scene when Tris is attacked.  The boys, quite sensibly, try to throw Tris off the side without a railing. She arches her back flails as three large boys hold onto her shouting "get her over"--meanwhile there is absolutely NOTHING keeping her from being thrown off but the fact that it would be an abrupt end to the movie.

I found it artistically interesting that they broadened the faction color palette. Dauntless wears red in addition to black, Amity wears any color they want as long as it falls in their warm, gentle tones. It was fitting, and probably easier to look at this way.

I hope in the next movie that Peter, Will and Al look different. Oh wait. Seriously, though, first time through, I was really confused which was which, and I spent the second time through learning their faces. Someone somewhere neglected to notice that they were all small eyed, big cheeked, dark curly haired guys. The usual easy cues for telling people apart were missing. Too bad they won't get a second shot at that one.

Speaking of actors: I wasn't sure about Shailene Woodley or Theo James from the trailers or sneak peeks. But I was completely won over by their performances. In fact, everyone did a great job, I was very pleased.


I would love to know their reasoning on some of the changes they made. In particular, when Tris's mother visits her at Dauntless, in the book she tells Tris that Erudite is up to something and she needs to go see her brother and get him to research the serum. This--in the book--prompts Tris to break a lot of rules to go see her brother in Erudite. In the movie, Tris's mom visits her, gives her some warnings about everyone wanting to kill Divergents (which we've gotten a couple times from various sources) and that's it. Tris then gets upset a bit later in the movie and goes to see her brother. For. No. Reason. "I'm not going to make it into Dauntless" is not a reason to go risk life and limb and getting forcibly removed from Dauntless early to see someone who can't help you. It's her brother who tells her Erudite are up to something. Nothing is said about the serum until Four brings it up later--when he's telling Tris mostly because he likes her. Not because she has anything to offer to help the situation.

I found all these modifications very confusing because all those events happened in the book....they just made sense in the book.  A simple change of spoken words would have kept this entire movie sequence snug to the book and made a lot more sense.

It's like..you're already at the grocery store, just buy the real butter instead of the margarine! It's so much better and you're already there...it's not easier to buy margarine than butter....

They did leave out two seemingly minor things, but they've become iconic to the the book fanbase and I'm actually quite surprised they didn't get a shout out in the movie:

1- chocolate cake. The book made a big deal about the diet change from Abnegation to Dauntless. One of the best moments was when Tris first had chocolate cake--the big giveaway that her mother was Dauntless is her mom telling her to try the chocolate cake. One of the fan-phrases is that Divergent Fans eat Chocolate Cake. Movie fans...book fans got chocolate cake.

2 - Tris only had 5 fears in the movie. I counted. F.I.V.E. This means that all those cutesy "IV and VI" and "4+6" memes will make no sense to non-book-people who take the time to count Tris's fears. Then again, there probably aren't that many people who sat there counting her fears like I did...

On the whole, if those are my only critiques of the adaptation I think we're in pretty good shape.

I appreciate the way this series tackles a study of virtues and their corruptions. It's popularity and influence are going to be a good thing, I think.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Work is ramping up this month. The next few weeks are going to be very intense for me in the office. We're short staffed, will be training on-coming staff, and I'm traveling for work to boot. Talk about everything happening all at once. So if things get quieter (than usual, I mean) on the blog its because I'm disowning technology when I get home from work.

That and appears that spring might actually be here which means the siren call of the outdoors is louder than usual. They might have to start tying me to the mast here, shortly.

it was a complete accident that we matched

Friday, April 4, 2014

In Kansas City

Flew to Kansas for work yesterday.


Haven't done much but work, and hunt all over the northern suburbs for a grocery store (how hard could it be, right???) but we did find a loose telephone booth:


Monday, March 31, 2014

working on it

I'm working one the next Zare episode still--I know you all wish that it was going up today, but you really don't want me to mess this one up!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mud Madness

The first day of spring--though surrounded by freezing temperatures--was itself over 60 degrees! And oh  boy was the mud deep. The horses weren't phased...at least not enough to deter the high energy that moderate temps and a stiff breeze bring!

One horse, at least, is completely unleashed by the soft mud, and that is Thornton.  He's permanently retired because he's lame in one hoof. The soft mud is so forgiving that he sometimes trots around in the spring--he's very low key the rest of the year and frugal with his movements.

Even in mud season, though, I have never seen him run like he did last week. He was tearing around the pasture with the best of them.


I got one still picture, and when the running continued and even ramped up a couple times (completely unprompted, I walked around holding a camera and a halter) I switched to video and got a few good shots...and a lot of unbelievably shaky ones...sorry...but I did catch Maverick galloping through a flock of geese for fun--which was pretty awesome.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Lost? Catch up on Zare here

I sat up. Deadweight was still chained to the tree, and looked a little pathetic with his bandages and torn clothes. Quill was asleep on the sand nearby, his arm across his eyes.
Underneath the tree line, head low and wary, stood a gray horse. “Who are you?” it asked, eyeing me.
I was too surprised to answer. I stared dumbly and then saw that it had cloven hooves and a long slender horn in the center of its forehead. A kiroen. Of course it could talk. I’d just never met one before.
“Who are you?” it prompted again. Very clearly a mare kiroen.
“Sorry,” I stammered, “I am Zare Caspian.”
She flicked her ears. “I suppose that narrows it down to ‘you’re not from around here.’”  Disdain was clearly evident in her voice.
“I’m not.”
“This is my favorite watering hole,” she announced.
“I’m sorry.”
“Who are you talking to?” Quill interjected, he hadn’t stirred and his voice was low and only for me.
The kiroen blew loudly threw her nostrils at him, clearly she’d heard him just fine.
Quill lifted his arm off his face then and sat up to look.
“You’re not from here, either,” declared the kiroen.
“Quill this is…” I intended to make introduction, but she hadn’t given her name, “…her favorite watering hole.”
He looked from the kiroen to me, then back to the kiroen. “It’s a very nice watering hole.”
She sniffed, “It was.”
“I’m sure it still is,” I interjected. “We’ve not been here long, and we’re not staying. We came from the waterfall and are going to the City at Naiyn.”
The kiroen looked unconvinced. She walked past us and delicately put her lips to the water. After a cautious sniff she took a long drink. When she looked up she said, “Then you’ve got quite a long walk.”
Those were not the most comforting words she could have spoken.
“Is there a town near here where we might hire a wagon?” Quill asked. “I fear our prisoner isn’t going to be very good for a long walk.”
She seemed to notice the man chained to the tree for the first time. “No, indeed. I don’t imagine he’ll get very far stuck to the tree like that.”
I looked at her carefully. “It’s because he’s wounded.”
“I can see that,” she rolled her eyes at me as if I were a supreme disappointment.
Feeling withered, I looked at Quill for support. He grimaced.
“There are towns,” she said at last, after studying our prisoner for a moment, “There are towns all around the lake. Except where the cliffs are,” she nodded to the waterfall. “Walk south and you’ll hit one soon enough. Though I doubt anyone will want to cart you anywhere tonight—and if they do will probably charge you double on account of your extremely dubious appearance.”
“Unfortunate, but it cannot be helped,” replied Quill, getting to his feet.
“I could go back for the canoe and we could boat along the lakeshore,” I suggested.
“No good, when I got out of the canoe it went over the waterfall. You were in the clear but I doubt the canoe is in good shape wherever it is.”
The kiroen mare watched Quill guardedly as he walked over to the Chief and roused him. “What is your business with him, anyway?”
“He is the leader of the bandits in the Badlands,” I explained, “He has led the murder of many. We are taking him to the Grand Master of Naiyn for justice.”
She looked thoughtful. “How was he wounded?”
I looked at the Chief who was stiffly getting to his feet. Sleeping on the ground makes anybody stiff, add a nice painful spot across your entire front and I suspect he was very uncomfortable. “I slashed his chest with his knife in the middle of his throne room.”
The kiroen flicked her ears and for a moment I thought she looked amused. Then she said, “I am Rosh.”
“Pleased to meet you.”
“I will help you,” she flicked her ears again, “but you will owe me a favor.”
Quill and I looked at each other. How bad could owing a favor to a kiroen be?
Deadweight groaned. “Meddlesome horse.”
Rosh’s ears went back and she glared at the Chief. “Asinine tyrant.”
“We would appreciate your help,” I cut in.
“Excellent,” Rosh turned on her heels and disappeared under the tree line.
“She’s got a funny way of helping,” said Quill. “I hope we don’t owe her a favor just for her offering to help.”
I shrugged. “I have no idea.”  I stood up and stretched, then dusted the lake-sand off my clothes. It felt a little odd to have nothing to carry from a spot that felt like a proper campsite, but there was nothing but my fishing stick. So I grabbed my fishing stick. “I guess we walk?”
The three of us set out slowly along the lakeshore. Quill walked in front helping Deadwieght and I walked behind. The sun was almost gone on the western horizon when we heard hooves behind us. Before we could do much three kiroen appeared out of the twilight and skidded to a stop, kicking up sand in our faces.
Rosh marched up to me and shook her mane, “You didn’t wait for me.”
“We didn’t know where you’d gone,” I said.
“I was getting help,” she retorted, irritated. “This is Ishvi and Kandar. Get on; we’ve got a ways to go.”
We didn’t argue with her. The other kiroen were darker than Rosh and amiably presented themselves to the men. I helped Quill get our prisoner up onto the one called Ishvi, and then Quill mounted Kandar. Rosh was waiting for me impatiently and I put my utmost into springing on gracefully in hopes of making a good impression on the dignified equine. She didn’t make a comment so I assumed I’d at least not offended her.
I can’t say I had ever imagined meeting a kiroen, much less riding one. Riding one certainly wasn’t as glamorous as it sounded. They were very slight creatures, so it was rather like riding a fence rail. Once I got used to it I was able to stop wishing for Hook’s back with every step Rosh took, I even nodded off a couple times as the night wore on and the moon rose. At some point the kiroen stopped and we slept what remained of the night. In the morning it was Quill’s turn to fish and then we set off again and by late afternoon we saw the City of Naiyn glitter into view.
The red roofs and white walls rose from the dusty earth like bumps on a camel’s back. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the city anymore, with the Chief’s dubious hints about more trouble coming and the knowledge that the Head Marshal had sent us to our deaths. But we rode forward, and were sighted from the walls just as they were blowing the horn to signal the gates closing.
The kiroen picked up the pace for the final furlongs and the gate guards gathered in astonishment to meet us. 

Copyright 2013: The Legend of Zare Caspian is an original story by Abigail Cossette for The Raven's Landing.  If you enjoy the story, please share and link back! Please don't copy it. Contact me if you would like to publish a portion of it in any way, shape or form.
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