Archive for March, 2010

March 29th, 2010

» 1Q Review

In January, I made a few goals for the year. Now that we’re nearly three months in, I thought I’d do a little review:

  • Post more than last year. I’m doing pretty well with this one! I wouldn’t say I’m kicking its ass, but this here’s my eleventh post of the year, and in 2009 I only had 16 total. So, yay for me.
  • Read more; keep track of it. My goal is two a month, and I’m right on track. I’m also mostly remembering to write about them right after I finish reading (SO much easier than trying to remember details later) — sometimes I save the post ’til the end of the month, but I’m jotting as I go.
  • Take more pictures. I DID just take pictures for a friend’s wedding last weekend (it was actually kind of a terrifying experience; So. Much. Pressure.), but — I’ve been kind of failing at this one. Well. Sort of, I guess. I don’t know — I’ve done a few rounds of pictures of the pony, at least! Anyway, I’d like to do better in the next three months.
  • Travel. I didn’t expect to’ve gone anywhere this soon — but I did kind of expect to know where I’m going this year. Planning fail. I’ve had a zillion books out of the library and Joe & I have talked about it a bunch, but I don’t feel like we’re any closer to making a decision.
  • Start cooking again. FAIL. I have eaten a lot of salads this week, from my very own fridge, but I haven’t been planning and shopping enough. I did do a little cooking when Steph was here, and had left-overs for a while after that, but mostly I’ve been sucking at this.

So, I’m going to give myself a 2.5/5. Well — that seems a little harsh. 3/5. Room for improvement; I confidently predict I will be at 5/5 when December rolls around. Also! I haven’t done any of the things I said I probably wouldn’t; can I count that as a victory too?

March 25th, 2010

» reunion

Five months ago, give or take a few days, I handed over the leadrope of my first horse, and watched him walk into a trailer and off to his new life.

Yesterday, I saw him again. I’ve spent the last five months searching for his replacement (I rode twenty-five! before finding the new guy) and then getting back to training. From the looks of things, Ev’s spent the last five months in a pile of hay.

Part of it, I’m sure, is that I’ve been looking at Poe’s scrawny, tragic no-neck for the last three months — but Everett’s is looking particularly chunky. I’m very excited to hop on next week and see how much I’ve forgotten about how he goes.

March 25th, 2010

» 24 Books: March

Confession: When Jocey gave me a copy of Georgette Heyer’s The Foundling, I peeked at the back cover. Normally when I get a book recommendation from someone I trust (and Jo’s taste in books is impeccable) I like to go in blind, but I was excited and couldn’t start reading it immediately (bad hosting form to ignore guests for a book). Anyhow, I came away with the impression that this was a Regency romance novel — and it is, but not like any romance novel I’d ever read before. That is: it’s not smut. But it is fantastic.

The story centers around Gilly, the young, sheltered, fabulously wealthy Duke of Sale. (He has a very long name and seven thousand titles, but mostly he’s Gilly.) Orphaned as a boy, he’s been surrounded by well-meaning but over-protective people his entire life; at twenty-four he finally decides to slip away and test himself a bit in the world. He’s wonderfully likeable, kind, and plucky. The book is fantastic fun, and as everything pulls together toward the end I was literally bopping around in my chair, wishing Jocey were around so I could exclaim over particular turns of event. Thumbs very up for this one. Jo passed it along to me after getting it from another friend, and I’ve in turn handed it over to Steph — so call dibs with her if you want it next!

I just now finished SuperFreakonomics, by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner. The subtitle is “Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance.” It’s pretty delightful. Have I gone on before about how I don’t read much non-fiction? I can’t remember. Well, I don’t read much non-fiction; I think I have a lingering prejudice from so many years of dry textbooks in school. Anyway, I loved Freakonomics, their first book, and this one is more of the same. They ask lots of quirky, interesting questions, and then answer them. There are things like a garden hose to the sky (to combat global warming), and the first recorded incidence of monkey prostitution, and the changing price of oral sex over the last 100 years. It’s awesome.

Incidentally, if you’re like me and think you dislike non-fiction, I also recommend Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything: informative and fantastic! I listened to the audiobook a couple years ago, and still remember it fondly.

2010 Book Count: 8 (+3 fluff)
January: 2 (+3 fluff)
February: 4
March: 2

March 18th, 2010

» gold stars

Huge milestones for the Poe-nay: Sunday we went down the road with some buddies, and Monday all alone! He was a total superstar, especially on Sunday. He marched right out in the lead, alert but not freaked. Monday we went further than we had the day before, and he did a lot more tip-toeing without his buddies for back-up. We had a couple sticky moments checking out some new horses and a guy with a ladder, and when two kids came flying toward us on bikes. Bikes are a big scary for a lot of horses. Luckily the kids were very sweet; they noticed he was freaked and stopped a bit away from us. I hopped off (he was thinking about exiting stage right, and I didn’t want to let it get to that point), and coaxed him over to sniff the bikes. He never totally relaxed with them, but he was very brave, so I thanked the kids and continued on home. All said, I’m very proud of my little dude.

Okay — I started writing this post yesterday (Wednesday), but now I have more proud-of-my-pony to share: Yesterday we rode out again (with two others down to the culdesac, and five others up to the top of the hill), and he was perfect. There’s a fairly busy state trail (the Luce Line) that crosses our dirt road, midway between the barn and the main road. It’s very pretty, winding through forest, orchard, next to fields, over bridges, past the llamas… Because of the trees at this particular intersection, the visibility isn’t so good until you’re right up next to it. We were walking next to Dan & Liz in the lead, and just as we came up to the trail crossing, someone came zooming up on a bike. He was very nice and slowed down as soon as he spotted us, but we had to either hurry on or stop directly in front of his path to let him go by. Since we had four others behind us we stopped, and I prayed my pony wouldn’t come unglued with a scary wheely monster passing right by his nose.

And honestly, I thought at first he hadn’t seen it. Surely he hadn’t noticed it yet, because he was just standing there, totally chill. I was ready for him to spot it any second and go flying backwards — but he never did. I don’t know if it’s because his buddy Dan couldn’t've cared less about it, or because it was crossing his path instead of coming at him, or if he figured out bikes don’t bite. Whatever the reason, he looked at it and just didn’t care one bit. Horses, go figure.

We headed back to the indoor arena after our short but highly successful jaunt, just for a little trotwork and a brief canter each direction. I also wanted to make sure he was more settled about the open door (we had a big turn-and-scoot away from it before the road hack, when he caught sight of Riley coming down from the barn, and afterwards a bad case of bulgy-shoulder-itis). He was lovely — very responsive and working beautifully over his back. We had a stellar walk-trot transition: he stayed quiet, steady in the bridle, head down, and stepped right into it. The canter work was less good, but not horrible. We finished up by working on getting into the far right corner, which has become a bit of an issue in the last week; it’s not fixed, but we’re getting there!

You know, I’d originally planned to write about the instructor dilemma I’m having, but I think I’m going to leave it for another post. The sun is shining, my horse is awesome, and today I’m just feeling pretty darn good about it all.

March 2nd, 2010

» 24 Books: February (2)

Next up: Sign of the Labrys, by Margaret St. Clair. I picked this one up in a fantastic used book store in St. Louis. I can’t remember the name of it now, but it’s built in an old house and up in the children’s section had a set of old books for the nursery in a fantastic house-shaped slipcover, complete with roof. I should’ve taken a picture.

Anyway, in bookstores I’ll often check for things by a handful of favorite authors, and have a list of books I’m on the look-out for saved in my phone — but mostly I shop by title and cover, and might read the first page or something random from the middle to make sure the style’s not going to drive me up the wall. I was sold on this one the instant I pulled it from the shelf and turned it over:

Sign of the Labrys back cover

Really, guys? Original publication date, by the way, is 1963. In case you can’t read the above image (bad cell phone pic, sorry!):

WOMEN ARE WRITING SCIENCE-FICTION!

ORIGINAL!BRILLIANT!!DAZZLING!!!

Women are closer to the primitive than men. They are conscious of the moon-pulls, the earth-tides. They possess a buried memory of humankind’s obscure and ancient past which can emerge to uniquely color and flavor a novel.

Such a woman is Margaret St. Clair, author of this novel. Such a novel is this, SIGN OF THE LABRYS, the story of a doomed world of the future, saved by recourse to ageless, immemorial rites…

FRESH!IMAGINATIVE!!INVENTIVE!!!

Admit it: you’ve already run over to Amazon to search for your very own copy, or you’re mentally composing the email you’re going to send me asking to borrow it. Worth it? I think so. I haven’t read any other sci-fi from this era (I’m more of a fantasy gal than sci-fi, so I’ve actually read very little sci-fi, full stop), so I can’t comment on it vs. others of the type, but overall I was pretty entertained. It’s a weird little book, definitely a different tone than anything else I’ve read. The setting is a future dystopia, after wild yeasts have decimated 90% of the world’s population. People are living mostly in man-made underground caves, and have developed an aversion to one another. There’s the Evil Government, and the main character who undergoes a journey and an awakening, and a lot of strange talk about yeasts and fungi. In other words: AWESOME! WEIRD!! ADJECTIVE!!!

In February, I also finished listening to the audiobook version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows; read by Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden, Rosalyn Landon, John Lee, & Juliet Mills. I don’t remember where I read the recommendation for this one; it was on my library list for quite a while before I actually got it, and by the time it arrived I’d completely forgotten anything I’d ever known about it. I just popped it into my cd player, trusting I’d had a good reason to request it in the first place, and discovered that it’s a narrative told through a series of letters. And I have to admit, for the first while — a half an hour? a few hours? — I was on the verge of giving up on it. I’m a bit of a tough sell on first-person narratives, especially outside of young-adult fiction, and correspondence fiction is even worse. But sometime during that first disc, I got a bit hooked. And then a bit more, and by maybe halfway through I was totally on board, totally in love with the little cast of characters from Guernsey.

The book takes place in England, shortly after WWII. The main character is an author who strikes up a correspondence with members of the title Society, who write to her about their experiences during the war. The characters are endearing, and the story is by turns charming, sweet, and sad. Nothing too surprising in it, but I did find myself lingering in the car to hear just one more sentence, and being thankful for long stoplights. For the audiobook aspect: they have different voice actors reading each letter-writer’s part, and it works well.

2010 Book Count: 6 (+3 fluff)
January: 2 (+3 fluff)
February: 4