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."


Friday, October 9, 2015

I finally found some gingham

Been looking for years for gingham, and suddenly found some at Kohl's. Wasn't expecting to love a black gingham shirt, but I do.



Shirt. Kohl's. Pants. AE. Shoes. Naturalizer. Necklace. Jewelmint.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Big jump, little jump

It had been a foggy morning, and it was a surprisingly warm and muggy day underneath that cold gray sky. The Ham beat me to the barn and did some basic liberty things with Midas while he waited, I caught a glimpse of them as I pulled up and it did my heart good. It's good to see him standing on his own authority with Midas--it's not something he has a lot of opportunity to do, but it's really cool to sneak glances at it.

We started off with some high energy liberty work, I said "go play" and Midas said "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and then came back to me after a good hard run.

Under saddle, the Ham up, we started with some cruising exercises--you might remember these from the last part of the Clinton Anderson book--it's when you ride with the reins on the buckle and only require that your mount maintain the gait assigned. It's quite challenging for the rider, because you have to really ride to stay on your horse when your horse is doing the steering. It also forces you to extend some trust to the horse, which is just a good learning experience for everyone. The horse, naturally, takes great delight in not being meddled with, and this also has the effect of the horse listening better when you do have something to say.

It set the bar for a very relaxed ride, though I guess you can't totally tell that by this picture below. I caught a half halt mid stride--I think here the half halt is just the Ham's arms, which is tipping his body forward, rather than engaging his hips and tucking his seat. This is a hard thing to learn, and we're working on it.

They trotted around for a bit with contact, then I decided to put up a cross rail since things were going so well.

Midas was so good. The Ham trusted him with his head, and Midas didn't abuse the trust. They took several passes at the cross rail from different directions. Midas got really into it, but never lost his mind or got too strong. I was so incredibly pleased with both of them. This is worlds better than last year when they took a cross rail in this field and it was like a steamroller got loose.

Good horse, good boy.

All that with me completely forgetting to have the Ham raise his stirrups a hole or two...he did decently on equitation even with that disadvantage. We do need to drill more with two-point, but the feeling and balance of the fence is the most important thing. And from these image captures I'd say his two-point is better when he's not thinking about it.
Midas is clearly thinking about bigger fences.

Hey look! That's a good half seat!

This picture below makes me laugh, because Midas decided to canter before the fence, but realized as soon as he did that his distance was wrong so he opted to take the fence long and did this big long effort that totally took the Ham by surprise. He got a bit left behind. But threw his arms forward to let the horse do his job.

I love successful days like this. We took a good 15-20 minutes to cool Midas down afterwards, the muggy day made it hard on him, but he was one happy camper.

Monday, October 5, 2015

8-Quill's Story

“You’re looking rather better, soldier,” said Zam Caspian the Great. The king’s hair was lighter, like Ayglos’, and his well-trimmed beard was flecked with copper and silver. Even stooped in a swaying wagon, dressed in common clothes, he looked kingly. “It seems there is no point in disguise. In the doctor’s hospital all is discovered.” He pointed to the armor on the floor of the wagon. I hadn’t noticed it tucked at the head of the cot.
Quill looked chagrined. “I apologize if I have put your family at danger. It was not my intent.”
The king waved his hand, “My family is adept at putting itself in danger, and it has no need of assistance.” He glanced at Ayglos and me. I tried to look as if I agreed and considered this an excellent skill. “Do you know which royal family you have uncovered?” He motioned to my brothers, and the three men found places to sit around the cramped wagon. I was extremely grateful for Boitumelo’s status in the circus. Of all the wagons to fit five men and a girl into, this was one of the more comfortable ones. I found myself sitting at Quill’s knees, oddly feeling that I was on trial with him.
“Yes, your majesty. You are King Zam of Galhara, exiled, believed dead,” Quill bowed on his cot, “And these must be your children. They are much older than when I last saw your royal family.”
“When was that?” asked my father.
“When your family visited Dalyn, shortly before the war with Hirhel,” replied Quill. When my father arched a brow he continued, “My father was in the Royal Guard, I was a child and serving as a page in the king’s court.”
“And now?” the king pressed. “Burning buildings in neighboring cities?”
“We burned nothing belonging to Gillenwater, and harmed none of her citizens,” said Quill firmly. He paused, “Do not think me insolent, your majesty, but I must ask before proceeding; do you want to know what we were about? There is great danger in knowing.”
“For you or for us?” The king inclined his head. I watched breathlessly. wanted to know. There was always danger with knowing, I guess, and my father had to weigh the safety of his entire household. But we were hidden, and going to Magadar…
The archer smiled, “I am already in great danger.”
“Why should you tell me?” replied the King, “I am a stranger on the road.”
“Your majesty was a strong ally to Dalyn in the wars. Also, your majesty’s daughter, I presume, has already shown willingness to oppose Hirhel when given the chance—a gesture I’m very grateful for. You have lost everything to the Nether Queen, even more than Dalyn. There may be much to gain in alliance. I would tell you the truth if you asked.”
“Continue,” said the king at last.
Quill obliged. “My name is Quilleran Rhydderick, I am one of King Kegan the Younger’s men. We were sent here on a mission to cripple the Nether Queen’s army building machine—or to start, anyway—last night we destroyed the Forges.”
He paused and the creaking of the wagon filled the break as we all took in this information.
“Our getaway was not quite as clean as we would have liked,” he grimaced at his bandages, “but all in all it went quite well. I must return to my unit as soon as possible. We have more work to do.”
My oldest brother, Namal spoke, “Is Dalyn preparing a rebellion?”
Quill nodded. “Would you join our cause?”
I bit my lip as feelings of doom, fear, and hope banged around inside me like a litter of puppies—but hope got bigger with every turn until it swallowed up fear and doom. The Champion of the Bay Cities was not defeated. She was again to fight the Nether Queen. Perhaps Narya of Hirhel could be stopped before she conquered the entire region. We had a cause and a leader.
My father’s hands were on his knees, and he gazed at them, thoughtfully considering the archer’s request. His hands were unadorned, when once they’d born the signet ring of Galhara. We all watched him, waiting for his pronouncement. “I will consider this alliance,” he said at last. “Namal will return with you to Dalyn to treat with your king concerning this matter.”
The King stood, “Boitumelo, make sure he is equipped to travel. He will have to leave us before the day’s end if he is returning south. Namal, let’s prepare.” He left the wagon with Namal a step behind him.
I scrambled to my feet and darted after them. Jumping down from the wagon, the canopy flapping behind me, I jogged to catch up with my father and older brother. “Father!” I caught his elbow and hooked my arm through his. “Let me go with them!”
My father squeezed my arm and looked down at me without slowing his pace. “Why do you want to go, little Zare?”
“I pulled him out of the river.” The answer popped out before I could determine if that was a valid factor or not. Other awkward answers like “I don’t really remember seeing Dalyn when I was small and want to see the Cathedral” and “It sounds like an adventure!” managed to stay inside while I sorted out a better response. “Two fighting men traveling together would appear suspicious if they are searching the countryside for the men who burned the Forges. I can help them blend in.”
Namal was smirking. If I had been between him and father I would have jabbed him with my free elbow. It was a valid point and he knew it. But he also knew how hard I’d worked to come up with it. I tossed him a dirty look.
“Very well,” conceded my father. “You shall go with Namal and Quilleran Rhydderick.”

Friday, October 2, 2015


Shirt: Marshall's. Jacket: H&M. Pants: Calvin Klein handmedown.

I found this top at Marshall's last year and was completely intrigued by it. I still am. It dresses up, dresses down, it has this funky Transformers-reminiscent-geometric patterning (which..the lens flare hides...sorry). It's also very forgiving and extremely comfortable. I tried it on out of pure curiosity and I adore it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

of pour overs and cappuccinos

Coffee is one of those things that's got so much going on you're not sure if you want to hang around it like a groupie or if you should leave it alone because everyone else is obsessed with it. There are people who worship it, people enslaved by it, people who hate it, people who love it. There are even people who are charmingly indifferent. Who, when they hear it mentioned get a far away look in their eye and say "Oh, yeah, coffee, I had coffee once, I liked it."

I don't know where I fall on the scale.

Zorro hates the stuff--all coffee and coffee flavored things are unwelcome to his taste. It's not a personal vendetta, it's just gross to him. Like some people hate cilantro.

Sometimes I really love coffee, sometimes I really don't. And there are plenty of days where I forget to drink the coffee I bring to work with me. We did a cleanse earlier in the year and that included giving up coffee entirely for two weeks. Suddenly I only liked really good coffee, and couldn't bring myself to drink more than a swallow of less than good coffee.

Mostly I make my own coffee, and quite abruptly my lack of skill was glaring and unacceptable. I started paying closer attention to the water temperature and coffee beans. At last I was enjoying a smaller cup of coffee before work.

Then summer came and my coffee pot started turning out icky coffee. I cleaned it repeatedly, and eventually figured out that I wasn't able to get the tap water cold enough before it went into the pot--so the poor little pot was burning the coffee.

And suddenly learning the art of the pour over became my summer project (this is a chemex tutorial, but basically the same thing). Also, cold brew.


I watched tutorials, I relied on wikihow (shockingly good tutorials there) and on the weekends I fought with my point and shoot to take pictures of my hipster coffee attempts. The picture part isn't going well, but I'm consistently enjoying my coffee.


I also used some of my birthday money to get a moka pot--stumbled on a good deal at Marshall's. I finally got to use it this past weekend--it came with directions, and wikihow answered the rest of my questions.

I am rather stunned at just how easy it is to use the moka pot. Fill with water close to the steam valve. Fill with grounds that look like powdered sugar mixed with sand. Put on burner, turn burner to medium.

Honestly, the only hard part was that none of the tutorials said how you know when it's done. I'll tell you: It gets rather noisy when it's bubbling. When the bubbling stops, it's done.


So I've now made two cappuccinos. And they were quite tasty--even if I can't froth milk to save my life. But the coffee itself is so thick and smooth. It's not bitter, it's just...good.


It's also a really small portion, which I'm actually enjoying. On the weekends I'm not sitting at a desk drinking 16 oz to reconcile myself to the fact that it's morning. On the weekends coffee is more like an afterthought, and even my little 3.5 oz servings of cappuccino get cold before I've remember them enough times to drink them.


But, I AM enjoying them.


And that's really the point, anyway.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I have this desire...to put the Ham and Midas (I would totally do it myself if I could) in the field and have the Ham ride on the buckle and gentle urge Midas forward. The Ham's job is to stay on, stay calm and in balance, and not let him stop at the gate, Midas's job is to go forward.

I suspect at first Midas will go fast--possibly gallop--or he will pick a moderate pace and stay there until he's so puzzled at the lack of meddling that he starts seeking out input.

I suspect that it will be an eye opening experience for both of them, and they'll proceed with more trust and peace and teamwork.

I suspect.

Tuck your seat, legs under you a touch more, and this is a post card. 

I also hope this well help the Ham focus on getting his legs under him and tucking his seat under (she says like she always rides with her legs under her and her seat tucked...it's a dream I have).

I haven't tried it yet. But soon.


Monday, September 28, 2015

7- Name Game

Once I made it back to the family tent I of course had to tell everyone exactly what happened after Ayglos and I were separated. I made Ayglos tell his considerably less exciting story, too. I wanted to ask my father his opinion on finding one of Dalyn’s soldiers so far from home, but I didn’t get the chance. When it was all said and done, I got less than four hours of sleep. It hadn’t seemed too bad at the time, but now, with the caravan inching along the road and the rush of packing over, I started to feel like death.
Dalyn was first among the Bay Cities—it controlled the Bandui River, a much bigger and deeper river than the Tryber, which was the primary trade route connecting the mountain cities to Daiesen Bay. Dalyn had been conquered five years ago. It was Narya Magnific’s most important conquest; after the mysterious destruction of Shyr Valla that started this whole Nether Queen thing. I had been eleven when Dalyn fell. The whole Bay had quailed when their champion city buckled under the weight of the Nether Queen’s army. With Dalyn’s conquest, all felt it was only a matter of time before the other cities fell to her also. So far, she had taken six of eight.
Gillenwater and its red fence were a few hours behind us, at a wagon’s pace. The road to Magadar skirted through the wooded foothills of the Magron Mountains, cutting north around the range rather than straight west through it. It was longer as the hawk flies, but easier going for a caravan. It was pretty, too, the road was practically lined with vineyards and horse farms. I started looking for a spot to ride on a wagon. When we were on the move, the circus folk sometimes walked, sometimes rode. Now seemed like a very good time to ride and maybe sleep for a day. I found myself looking for Boitumelo’s wagon.
I spied the red canopy of Boitumelo’s wagon the same moment that Ayglos jumped out of it. He saw me immediately and beckoned. I picked up my pace, my sleep deprived fog clearing a bit. What was Ayglos doing there? I caught up with the moving wagon, “Is something going on?”
“Your soldier is awake, keep him put till I can bring father and Remko,” Ayglos explained, boosting me up into the cart. He jogged off the moment I was secure. I pushed back the flap and entered the covered wagon.
My archer was very awake and arguing with Boitumelo. The lanky brown doctor looked fully prepared to tackle the archer if the man dared rise from his cot, and the archer looked like he was fully prepared to take that risk.
I let the red canopy close behind me and demanded, “What is going on here?”
Their words died and they looked at me. The archer’s face softened slightly when he saw me. “You pulled me out of the river, right?”
I nodded, “I did.”
“I am very grateful. But I must go back to my unit.”
“You are in no condition to go slinking around the countryside on your own,” I retorted.
Boitumelo pointed at me, “Maybe you will listen to Mbali!” he snapped in frustration. The doctor’s eyes were wide and his veins stood out in his neck. The archer had sure offended the physician’s professional sensibilities.
“I have to go back to my unit,” repeated the archer, more slowly, as if I might understand better if he enunciated.
“How do you expect to get back to your unit?”
“I would ask to borrow ragged clothes, put my armor in a pack, and travel on foot as a beggar or a pilgrim,” replied the archer. Evidently he had thought this through.
A pilgrim…pilgrims still went to the Cathedral in Dalyn, even though it was under Narya’s stiff rule. I walked across the swaying wagon and crouched by the archer’s cot. He watched me expectantly. Boitumelo watchfully took a seat a couple feet away. “You are going to Dalyn?” I asked.
A guarded look settled in place of the expectant one.
“I have seen their insignia on your armor,” I added, “You are either a thief or one of Dalyn’s soldiers. Judging from the skirmish on the bridge over the Tryber, I doubt very much that you are a thief.”
He grimaced. “You would be better to forget that insignia for now, and forget where I am going.”
Royal ire rose unbidden, but the next heartbeat replaced it with amusement. He had no idea who I was. My face twisted as I fought a smirk and tried to determine what I should tell him and how.
“I will decide what’s better for me, thank you,” I replied, finally regaining myself. “What is your name?”
The archer studied me. He was curious now, in spite of his reserve. “Call me Quill.”
“Is that your name?”
“It’s what I’m called.”
I wrinkled my nose. “How very elucidating.”
“Indeed,” a smile teased the corners of Quill’s mouth. “What’s your name?”
My mouth opened to reply and then I balked. Our eyes met and his sparked with a victorious knowing look. My education betrayed me. I was not a common circus girl who took pity on a wounded soldier. And, realistically, how many noblewomen knew how to swim? If he had been around the palace in Dalyn for any length of time he would know the most likely place to find noble swimmers were the cities on the shoreline. And a noblewoman swimmer hiding in a circus that choked when asked her name? The silence was getting painful as I opened and closed my mouth like a beached fish. “The doctor calls me Mbali,” I managed at last, red faced. I wished I could take the seconds back and know ahead of time how I wanted to answer his question.
“I noticed,” he dipped his chin. “The one who left right before you came in—a relation?”
Better prepared this time, I replied, “Is there a resemblance?”
“Chin, nose,” he replied.
“How fascinating.”
“His name is Ayglos,” continued Quill, watching me closely, mouth still tipped in a smirk.
“What a nice, strong name.”
Before the game could continue, the wagon swayed with the weight of someone jumping on the back. The flap opened and Ayglos climbed in, followed by my father and my oldest brother, Namal. Quill straightened on the cot immediately. “Your majesty.” His eyes were on my father.
Game over, I guess.
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