Monday, December 30, 2013


I rode tonight. A giraffe. He wanted to walk with his head up gawking at everything. I kept asking him to lower his head and he spooked at the arena rail.

It was so much fun.

At the trot, Ashke was wonderful. We tried some trot-walk-trot transitions, which he has completely figured out, so wasn't waiting for me to cue the trot. He trotted, dropped for two strides and moved back to the trot. I tried to get him to walk and instead he trotted. I moved him off the rail and tried to get him to walk properly in the center of the arena, which meant a revisit of the giraffe.

He was looky and arguing with me. I was getting really frustrated with him refusing to lower his head at the walk. (According to N, it is harder to move in a frame at the walk. It is much easier to move in a frame with the impulsion behind the trot.) I felt like his behavior was very much in line with the way he was behaving in our last lesson, when Cassandra told me I was being trained by him.

I popped him with the dressage whip, which made everything worse. I could feel the potential of everything sliding into the black hole of bad rider, scared horse.

I stopped. Threw the dressage whip away.

Asked Ashke to stand and then used the give and take on his "inside" rein until he dropped his head. At first he tried to back up, but I tightened my hips and butt and held him still. Finally, he gave at the poll and brought his head down.

I made a huge deal about it. Praising him verbally and patting his neck. Then I asked again. The second time was much quicker. Again the praise. He snorted and chewed. I asked a third time and this time he dropped immediately. I asked him to walk forward maintaining the frame. His head came up. We stopped. Went back to the ask. The second time he walked forward and remained soft and low. We moved up to the trot, back down to the walk and then stopped.

We did that a couple of times and then we were done with the transitions. I wanted to ask for the canter, but my back is killing me. Hopefully, after sleeping a couple more nights in my own bed and wearing my BOT back brace, I'm hoping a canter will happen on Weds.

I did a couple of turns on the forehand, while asking him to maintain a frame, then on the haunches, then sidepass. He is doing so good at those movements. I will need to work on leg yields from the centerline to the rail later this week. (Homework).

All and all, a good ride. I was especially proud of myself for stepping back and deescalating the situation. Ashke tried hard and was great, even after having two weeks off and being pissed at being ridden by someone else.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


I got to ride today for the first time in two weeks. It was good.

You can see the headband and my new helmet.
I think both are pretty sexy.

I talked to Cassandra about her rides on him and Ashke was not happy someone else was working him. I think he was pretty pissed I was gone and had someone else working him.

Stupid camera is messed up and changing the photos.

We tacked up and got all fancy. My Irideon polartec fleece breeches were amazing. I wore my new winter riding gloves and we did the lower loop of the mountain. It was great to get caught up with N and Ashke and Cali seemed to enjoy themselves.

At least you can see how the browband kind of looks, but it should have really glowed in the sunshine. I forgot my other camera and somehow the photo setting got messed with on my phone.

N suggested I start using black beading thread for the browbands, since they are going on black webbing. She is right and I ordered black thread today. 

Got to ride out a whopping six miles in December.

Rode along the prairie dog colony. The footing was a little iffy, because of the snow we got last night. Overall, both horses did great and we had a decent ride.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


That was one long ass drive, and as much as I love my mom, it was still a long ass drive.

The varying terrain we drove through was amazing. We left Phoenix at about noon and headed up I-17. The ground was very rocky and the plants were a mix of mesquite and Saguaro. I love the Saguaro. The coolest thing is that the bottoms of the Saguaro are completely tore up by birds and other animals looking for water, but the cactus itself looks completely normal. You would think they would fall over, but I guess that doesn't happen as often as you would expect.

There were huge forests of the Saguaro cactus. You can, if you are dying in the desert, find moisture in the bottom of these cacti, although the barrel cactus is supposed to store more. You cut down the Saguaro, take the pulp out of the middle and squeeze it through your shirt. The moisture you render will keep you alive for a little while. Not supposed to taste real good though. And then you are wandering around the desert without a shirt. Not a pretty sight, in my case.

The Saguaro gave way to Prickly Pear, which bear fruit that you can make jam with, although why you would want to is beyond me. You can, however, harvest the young prickly pear pads and roast them over the campfire for food. That and a shooter of Saguaro juice will keep you going for a week. Do you know in Texas the Prickly Pear get as tall as a horse? True that. If you don't believe me then go read Old Yeller.

This is the rock wall I stared at for a good twenty minutes on Friday's drive, while we were waiting for the police to remove the small blue car from the tailpipe of the Tacoma truck. I'm convinced the West is mostly rock.

Mom made Molasses Sugar Cookies!! We took them all.
Best Fucking Cookies! EVAR!!!

 Well, I'm a standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed
Ford slowin' down to take a look at me

Yes, we did stop in Winslow, AZ. I was trying to find a Hopi Trading Post we had stopped at a couple of years back, because it's an awesome store and because we always try to support Indian Nation when we are traveling through. It's not in Winslow. It was about three exits later and I recognized the store as we sailed past the exit at 80. We did not turn around.

 Once you are up on the high desert plains between Flagstaff and Albuquerque, the land turns red. Red ground. Red rock. Red plants (you'll just have to take my word for it) and even red bears, as you can see in the photo. I love the landscape, because you can see for hundreds of miles, but J turned to me and said, "Here we have the definition of agoraphobia." 

We are so different.

And yet . . . . 

We got off the highway in Gallup, New Mexico, looking for food. We drove on Route 66 for a bit, but then got back on the highway without finding food (I ended up going to bed hungry and grumpy and dreaming of an Egg McMuffin the next morning. It was noon almost, when I finally lost my shit and refused to be nice or pleasant or friendly or anything other than a sobbing, screaming bitch unless I was given food that had some kind of meat and bread and no freaking sugar in it. That was Subway. I was happier afterward.)

We pulled into the KOA at about 9 pm. For those of you who don't know, KOA is Kampgrounds of America. I started camping in them when I was about six and absolutely love them. We've stayed in them alot with our camper. The cool thing is they are completely dog friendly and rent cabins. You have to have bedding and not be real particular about the amount of space, but for a family traveling with three dogs it can't be beat. Last night was much better than the night we drove out. We positioned the Old Dog right in front of the heater and the pups were much more calm then they had been our first night. Not only do they provide a parking spot for your camper, or a cabin for your use, but they have hot showers in the morning (which I used this morning to help with the stiff muscles I was dealing with.)

We pulled out of Albuquerque at about 8:25 am.

No McDeath for me. I had Molasses Sugar Cookies! Breakfast of Champions!!

Flying North on I-25. More flat land, although this time it is broken up with some hills and yellow grass. Some very short Cacti. J's favorite.

There is a pass between Trinidad and Raton (Raton pass) where you have to watch out for bear.


How cool is that sign? How fucked would you be to hit a freaking bear?

Lily asleep with her head braced on the console. The pups did so much better on the way home. They didn't stress. They curled up and slept most of the day. Everyone is happy to be home, although Old Dog seems to be on her last leg. She is definitely on the downhill side of this final struggle. One more week and she will have lived to be older than all of them. Freaking Energizer Boxer. 

So, we are home and safe. J went to bed at 8:30. T is still playing his new Xbox One and Skyping with girls. I didn't get out to see the pony. I was too exhausted and the idea of getting behind the wheel for another minute was enough to make me cry. Not a pretty sight. I have plans to go out tomorrow and ride. Although, after ten days of wonderful weather, the fact that it is snowing doesn't make me happy. From 72 in Phoenix to snow in Denver. Doesn't seem fair.

Hope everyone's holiday was wonderful. Sorry I missed the TTTT this week, but blame it on baking cookies and hanging with the mom. It will return next week.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Goals for 2013 in Review

Goals set for 2013

1. Register Thee Ashke. This didn't happen. It's almost $400 and every time I have that kind of money to spend on the horse, I buy us things. It may never happen. I'm not sure it makes a difference to Ashke.

2. Figure out the bit/bridle thing. Get him into a rig that he is comfortable with, but still listens. Yes!! Absolute success! I have him in a Cob sized dressage bridle, which fits him incredibly well and encourages him to give to the bit. The bit I got almost a year ago is awesome and I am so happy I took the chance on ordering a bit online.

3. Get him collected, balanced and strong at all three gaits. On cue. On the correct lead. And backing up when requested. Moderate success. We are still working on the canter, but our leads are there about 90% of the time. Backing is a no-brainer. Leg yields are coming along. We can turn on the forehand and on the haunches, plus sidepass in both directions.

4. Ride a LD fun ride (15 miles) and come home sound. I will either do a 15 mile LD fun ride at Kenlyn Arabians, or a 25 mile ride at Kenlyn in the spring. Ashke wasn't ready this spring, so we didn't attempt it.

5. Ride the top of the mesa. The Mesa has been conquered.

6. Find a way to ride from TMR to Boulder. And then back. Maybe next year. J is willing to explore trails and go for long rides.

7. Lose another 20 lbs and gain core strength to improve my riding. I've lost 15 lbs. I've also seen the difference in my core that riding dressage has encouraged. I'm really excited about moving forward with both.

8. Go camping with the horse - either with Lisa or with Nicole - or with both. Didn't happen this year. Although I did go camping with Nicole. Maybe next year.

9. Teach Ashke to neck rein and to do a flying lead change. We have the neck reining down, but aren't there yet with our leads, mainly because we aren't there with the canter yet.

10. Network and develop relationships with other riders at the barn to grow our trail riding group. This has started, but there isn't anything formal in place. I hope that by riding with Cassandra, we will get a group together. Although, I have to say, I love riding with N.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


For Ashke.

It was still on the loom, but finished. 

I have now attached it to the web band for the bridle. Can't wait to see how it fits and looks on him.

Can't wait to see him! 


Wednesday, December 25, 2013


As my son would say . . . .

Santa was very good to me:

Irideon Polartec Powestretch 3-season Collection riding breeches (they are thick and warm)
Kerrits Performance Tights (not for winter, but will be wonderful in the summer)
Heritage Performance Riding Gloves (winter)
Ovation helmet (for rounder heads - for those of us who can't wear Tipperary)
Your Horse magazine
North Face earband protector (will work under new helmet)

I am set for four season riding!

Merry Christmas to all of you and yours. May the season treat you with love, light, and wonderment.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Story

I started asking for a horse when I was about four. It was on my wish list for my birthday, Christmas and every first star I saw of every night I looked. I don't believe I have ever wished so passionately or so consistently for anything else, except my son.

When I was eight I was given a pony for my birthday. He was a Shitland and mean as shit. What makes this part of the story so tragic is that we bought him from family and they told my parents he was a wonderful, willing pony I could use for 4H. They lied. He was hard mouthed, mean spirited and hated people. I was double-barreled in the chest more times then I can remember, and bore the hoof-shaped bruises to prove it. I knew though, that my wish had been granted and he was the answer. I stopped asking for a horse and tried to figure out how to make the shitland into more of what I had envisioned when I first started asking.

See, from as young as I could remember, I knew we didn't have a lot of money. It didn't seem like a great thing to ask for something more, when I knew how hard it was for my parents already. I was thankful that I had my pony and we could keep him; asking for more or better wasn't going to happen. (As an adult, I'm not sure how we managed to keep the horses. I have to believe it was because my mom knew how incredibly important it was to me and did what she had to in order for it to happen.) When I was six my father went deer hunting and brought back six (he, my mom and a friend each had two tags) which he butchered in the boxcar. We ate that deer until I was fourteen. Every January we purchased 150 pullet chicks and housed them in the chicken coop. Every August, we would spend three awful days killing the damn things and freezing them in our freezer. Every spring we would plant our garden with lettuce, beets, carrots, peas, beans, strawberries, squash, cucumbers, and corn (I'm sure there were others, but I don't remember what they were.) My mother would can food for three weeks during the late summer, putting up food to get us through the winter. We raised a calf for slaughter and raised pigs that we sold, after slaughtering the sows for food. My mom made most of our clothes. We were always clothed, fed and had shelter, but I knew we were tight for money. We did, also, always have pretty spectacular Christmases.

When I was twelve, I asked for a pad saddle for Christmas. I knew it wasn't real expensive and that my mom knew my current pad saddle was trashed. I had great hopes that it would happen. Then, about September, my brother found the Christmas list my mom had made for each of us kids and showed it to me. Right there at the top of the list was the pad saddle. I was beside myself. I skimmed the rest of the list, noting a pair of pj's, some slippers, a horse, some books and a halter and lead rope. The horse registered, since I had a fairly substantial collection of Breyer horses on the shelf in my room. I made a note in my mind to decide which Breyer I wanted to add to the collection and point it out to my mom. I was thinking I would like to add the San Domingo Stallion, which Breyer had just released in conjunction with the Marguerite Henry book by the same name. My brother was pretty excited about his list as well.

(We were shitheads when we were kids. Christmas was no exception. Mom used to have to hide our gifts at the High School where my father worked to keep us kids from finding them. I have been known to open gifts that were under the tree and then rewrapping them in a way that no one could tell they had been opened. It is not a surprise that my brother found the notebook. I'm just really happy that it didn't ruin my mom's pleasure at the gift they had planned for me.)

By the time Christmas came around we were absolutely nuts with the suspense. My grandparents were visiting and we were told we had to wait until they were awake before we could open presents. All four of us kids were jammed into my brothers' room, sleeping on the floor. At ten we were in bed, but not asleep, when I heard my father and grandfather leave the house. I suspected they were going to get presents from where ever they had been hidden. I finally fell sleep before they came home. Unfortunately, something woke me up at about 3:30 am. My brother and I made so much noise that my mother finally brought in our stockings and told us to be quiet while we opened them. We had to do it in the dark, which made our guesses about what was in the stockings pretty amusing. Fifteen minutes later, we were back to making noise and being disruptive as a way to wake everyone up. Six in morning has never taken so long to come.

Finally, we were let into the living room. My brother got a set of drums. And the chair next to it was piled high with gifts. My other brother got a huge pile of gifts and my sister had her own pile. They each got an end of the couch. I had the second chair. It was empty. There was a halter and lead rope hooked over the edge and that was it. No pad saddle. No huge pile of gifts. No Breyer horse, even though I had made a point of pointing out which one I wanted. Nothing. I was shocked and stunned when I picked up the halter. I couldn't believe it was all I was going to get. The tears were beginning to fall and I really struggled to try and hide my disappointment. I just couldn't make it make sense. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I turned my back to my parents, trying to hide how I was feeling.

Mom: "Honey, did you see the note?"

Me: "What note?" the tears beginning to trickle down my cheeks despite my attempt at hiding what I was feeling. Christmas had just gone from my favorite day of the year, to the worse moment of my life.

Mom: sounding strangled, "There was a note attached to the halter."

Me: I looked. No note. I searched the chair and found it hidden between the cushion and the side of the chair. The scotch tape hadn't held it on. I turned it over and it said:

Merry Christmas, Karen!

Santa couldn't bring the rest of 
your gift inside the house so it is
waiting for you outside.
Love, Mom and Dad

I looked up at my mom and asked in a voice beyond disbelief, "What is outside?"

Mom: approaching exasperation (here they had done something spectacular for me and I just wasn't getting it at all.) "A horse."

My eyes flew wide and I gasped, "which horse?"

Mom smiled and answered "Queenie."

I knew Queenie. They had brought her by in late August. My mom had ridden her and they had told me they were trying her as a mount for my mom. She was three and a half year old, three-quarters Appaloosa and one quarter Arabian. A horse. A HORSE!!!

Despite reading the list, I had never even suspected.

I bolted for the door in my slippers and pjs, stopping only long enough to grab my coat. I plowed my way through two feet of snow to the small barn out behind our pasture. Sure enough, inside was my shaggy haired, appy mare, frost hanging from the whiskers on her muzzle, her soft eyes gazing at me.

It was hands-down, the best Christmas I ever had as a kid.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


To fully appreciate the challenges of this trip, I have to back up and start at the beginning.

It started with a phone call in early November, 2003. We still had a landline and when I answered it the young man on the other end began talking about what he wanted to do to both myself, J and T. He didn't say our names, but he knew we were two women and a very young son (he was three and a half) living together, and the gist of his commentary was that he was going to show up at our house and rape us to death, starting with T. It was terrifying. I slammed the phone down and immediately dialed Star 69 to trace the call, then called the police. A very nice policeman came and took a statement. After investigating, they tracked the call through several servers back to a place in Virginia where they weren't able to follow it any more. The call had been routed through eight places by that point and I just think they were done. On the follow up, the police officer said that he didn't believe it was a credible threat and we shouldn't worry about it. I kept thinking the caller knew too much about our family for me to not treat it as credible. The voice in my head kept screaming "he knows I have a son." (I have also experienced too much violence at the hands of men to discount a threat of this magnitude.) In the conversation with the police officer we discussed options for home defense: security system, a gun or a dog.

The security system was a viable option, except it was going to be expensive and I was a full-time student. We were already living hand to mouth and our budget was very tight. We talked about a gun, which I have owned in the past, but having a weapon of that sort in a household with a son seemed reckless and dangerous (read studies about boys and guns if you don't think our concern is credible. And then consider how many girls have walked into their school and shot it up. Seemed reasonable not to have a gun.) We opted to get a dog. A boxer, as a matter of fact.

Meet Josephine Boxer. Or Joe Boxer. But most frequently "Joey".
Yes, I love Katie Holmes and Dawson's Creek. 

Joey had been purchased by a man for his girl friend who couldn't get her housebroke and resold her to the kennel where we found her. She was about six months old when we brought her home. Training her was difficult, but we eventually traded the carpet for hardwood, so the accidents weren't as significant. She was wonderful with T and would bark at the slightest noise (for those of you who don't think dogs should bark . . . how else are they going to let you know of an intruder. Her barking was a signal that she was willing to protect us.)

I would take her for long walks all over the neighborhood. One day I was stopped by a man who begged me to breed her to his male. His dog was almost seven, had been his constant companion since he was a pup and this guy would give anything to have a puppy from him. I talked to J and we went by to look at the dog. We (not knowing any better or having any concept of what it would mean) thought why not. I told the guy we would breed them and I would split the litter with him. If there were an odd number of pups, we would keep the extra. He said he would split the costs of the pregnancy and getting the pups old enough to find homes for. I made the mistake of not getting the agreement in writing. Always get the agreement in writing. J and I had planned on adopting out the pups for a minimal fee. He planned on keeping one, selling his other four (He was thinking she would have a litter of ten or twelve) and make $2000. We didn't know this until after the breeding had happened.

Joey and three pups: Red (F), Guinness (F) and Spike (M)

Joey had three pups. She had to have a cesarean, which is when they discovered she had a bleeding disorder, and she bled out on the table. She died. They gave her a bunch of drugs, blood transfusions and got her heart restarted. She was never the same after that, although she was a great mother. They were in the vet hospital for three days. The pups got their tail docks and dew claws done before they came home. The cost for all of that? $350. (I had been going to the same vet for years and he gave us a break, knowing the financial constraints we were in. It should have been $3000. I love our vet.) The guy who owned the male was not happy. Instead of making $2000 on the puppies he was going to have to pay us about $500 for a dog he couldn't breed to his male. That was when we realized his reasons for wanting to breed his dog were completely different than he had stated.

He sued us for breech of contract. We went to court when the dogs were almost seven months old (the court system is completely overbooked and this was the earliest we could actually get before a judge.) They lied. Nothing they said in court was the truth. They went to lunch and then came back and shared a story they had fabricated over lunch. We told the judge that the bottom line for us was we were keeping the pups. He charged us a breeding fee (which I still thing should have been offset by the medical costs, since the guy said in court he had offered to pay half.) We ended up with our Boxer Rainbow.

Red, Joey, Spike and Guinness

Red was T's from the first moment. Spike was mine and Guinness was J's. We lost Red in 2010 at the age of seven to a very aggressive blood cancer. Joey went to the Bridge December 14th of last year and Spike followed her three weeks later. Guinness was going downhill quickly and I wasn't sure she was going to last the week. Our house was so empty. As hard as having four boxers was, it was more difficult not having any dogs. J and I were both walking around in a fog of loss and emptiness. 

So, I found a pair of Boxer-Malinios mixes on FB for sale. I talked J into going out to look at them and we fell in love. We brought home Lily and Skittle on January 8th, 2013.

Skittle is the brindle and Lily is the fawn

I understood puppies this time. And I knew what they entailed. I was patient and was willing to do whatever it took to raise them . There were nights when I slept in my recliner in the living room with my fingers through the bars of their cage and they would sleep with their heads on my hand or my fingers in their mouths. They became housebroke and are very sweet dogs. They also rejuvenated our old dog, who is still with us.

We didn't realize when we got them at nine weeks old that THEY HAD NEVER BEEN OUTSIDE. As a result, they are most comfortable doing their business on the concrete of our back patio. Which means I've never trained them to go while being walked on a leash. This wouldn't be a problem, except that on a sixteen hour road trip it is important to have your dogs trained to go on any terrain on command. HA!

This made our past two days a challenge.

We left Denver on Thursday evening about 4:30. The dogs were so stressed they refused to settle. Lily kept crawling into my lap in the front seat, burying her head in my armpit and then climbing into the back seat again. Guinness, veteran of more than one roadtrip, curled up and went to sleep. We got to the KOA in Las Vegas, New Mexico and stayed in one of their cabins. For anyone who hasn't ever been to a KOA, they are wonderful. This was our first time staying in a cabin. It was small, but provided what we needed and the dogs are always welcome.  J and I slept on a double bed and T slept in a bunk bed. The mats were thick eggshell foam (not memory foam) and covered with a heavy vinyl. Our night was rough.

T woke up four times in various states of disturbance: too hot, too cold, freaked out by where we were, being chased by monsters. Yeah, that was fun. Every time he woke up the dogs wanted to go out, but didn't want to do anything, just be out. The pups wouldn't sleep without being on the bed and able to touch both of us. Guiness, who had two dog beds to herself, wanted to be on the bed as well, but couldn't jump up, so spent the night whining. I think we might have slept for two hours the entire night.

J on the road and ready to go on Friday morning

Headed south under a somewhat grey sky

They rode like this until the wind became too darn cold.

Old dog being old dog. She travels well.

T and our truck packed.

We drove through southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. I just finished listening to Comanche Dawn by Michael Blakely, talking about the beginnings of the Comanche Plains Indians and a lot of the book took place in the areas we were driving through.

Late Thursday night, while we were driving, the truck began making a horrible noise. At first I thought it was a tire and we pulled over to check. The tires were fine, but the noise was still there when we started going. I realized that the mirror, which had smacked the crap out of another mirror about a year ago, was splitting up the back. I quickly fixed it with two of the small bungies we had in the truck. FTW!

The buildings in New Mexico are primarily adobe style. The closer we got to the Reservation, the worse the housing got, even with the money the casinos are bringing in.

Lily's favorite place to be. Resting on the console between the front seats, watching the road in front of us. She and Skittle were much more relaxed than the night before.

I spent a lot of the drive imagining riding Ashke through the sagebrush and juniper trees. I can see the huge herds of buffalo and the wild riders of the Plains tribes chasing them across the terrain.

This is the terrain and biology that sings to my heart with the strongest and loudest song.

J hates it.

We stopped in Albuquerque to let the dogs run at the dog park. It was the only time they would potty on the trip. We were in the car at least 10 hours.

Driving up to Flagstaff. We had rain and snow, but the stuff in the truck remained dry.

Sunset driving down from Flagstaff. I was so tired at this point.

Not a bad end to our very long day. Pups had finally settled down and slept for several hours.

Now they are at Grandma's and loving the back yard.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Last week was mostly true: When my brother racked himself and then got launched into the ditch, the lariat slipped free of the saddle horn and the toboggan crashed to the ground, exploding into a gazillion pieces. Although Sham could jump like a jackrabbit, he did not jump the gate on that day.

Today, I am going to relate a series of incidents, all of which warrant recording for prosperity, but none of which are big enough to turn into a post on their own.

1. I read a historical account of Lady Godiva and decided to try riding my horse nekkid. Another time my sister and I rode from one part of town to the other, topless. Five of our nosey neighbors called my mother to complain about her daughters riding topless through town. My mother was mortified. BTW, I was 13 and built like a boy at the time. And yes, I do have an issue with keeping my clothes on. Especially when drinking tequila.

2. The summer of my fifteenth year, I started ponying race horses at the Fairgrounds/Race track in our city. I started the summer at 4'7" and had both incredible balance and very strong hands. I ponied four thoroughbreds before I started growing. At the end of that summer I was 5'6" tall and weighed over 100 pounds. My dream of being a jockey and winning the Kentucky Derby went right out the window. I spent the next twenty years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

3. One day, bored, I followed my horse around and ate everything she ate. We sampled grass, corn husks, milkweed (incredibly bitter), carrots, beet tops, oats, dried corn and various weeds. I drew the line at the horse poop, however.

4. My brother and I decided it would be good practice for the yearly fall rodeo to ride our farmer's calves. He had four. We wrangled them into the corral and then balanced on top of a huge tractor tire the farmer had set on it's end, secured between two posts, as a place for the cows to itch themselves.  It was big enough the cows could walk or run through the opening in the tire. One of us would wait on the tractor tire and the other one would chase the calves through the tire. The one on top of the tire would drop down onto the back of the calf and try to stay on. We actually managed it several times, although we also ended up kicked in the stomach or chest as often as we landed. For some reason, though, the farmer wasn't happy with our game and made us stop.

5. I had a fascination with taking horses into buildings. I took all six of our horses into my family's house, standing four of them at the kitchen sink and taking the babies into the bedrooms. I rode my pony up and down the halls of the Elementary school. I once rode my horse down the hall of the Mormon church across the street from the elementary school. I rode my horse through the halls of our Jr High, into the gym where I cantered her in circles on the basketball floor. I never got caught.

6. We went through a knights and ladies phase, where we would make clothes out of material in our house, combined with gunny sacks from the pig feed. But it wasn't enough to just get dressed up, we also wanted to joust. We made shields out of trash can lids, swords out wooden sticks and jousting poles out of old broomsticks and boxing gloves. Galloping your pony while trying to bash your brother off the other pony with a moderately long stick that has a boxing glove on the other end was not the brightest thing we ever did. That time my brother ended up in the ER with stitches in his chin.

7. I was absolutely fascinated with Indians, the Lakota to be exact, and wished with all my heart to be able to ride the prairie and hunt buffalo. Actually, I still am. I decided at the age of 11 that I was going to learn to ride hanging off the side of my horse while shooting a bow and arrow from under his neck. I used baling twine (our stuff was made out of coarse hemp rope and could be used for a myriad of things) and braided it into the horse's mane (not an easy task). Then I spent countless hours trying to figure out how to hang with an arm through the loop, a heel hooked into the horse's flank on the offside (let me tell you, getting a horse used to that little trick took some doing) and then figure out how to draw and shoot a freaking bow under the horse's neck. Of course, this was made easier when we were able to trade the bows for our bb guns (yes, I was a well-armed child. We shot each other with bb guns all the time.) Oh, and we were riding the horses with just a loop of that coarse rope tied around their lower jaw with pieces of cloth hanging off (we had no feathers except chicken and using chicken feathers as coup feathers is just wrong.) That phase lasted until my little sister, who was the most accident prone person I have ever met, managed to miss the loop on the horse's neck, and took a header into the ground, snapping her elbow in the process. So many of our games ended that way.

8. I decided at about nine that I was going to figure out how to mount my horse the way the Lone Ranger did in the original TV show. (I watched all of the episodes!) The Lone Ranger, having thwarted some bad guy, would come running up behind his horse, jump up and slap his palms on the horse's butt, catapulting himself over the horse's rump and into the saddle. It takes a very tolerant horse for this to work. Not something I had. I was also vertically challenged for most of my childhood. Running up behind a horse, or in this case, pony, slapping both hands onto their rump while launching yourself in the air can have hilariously painful results. First, you can mistime your jump, which results in your crashing face first into the pony's rump. A mouthful of tail and a bruised nose was typical. Second, you can misjudge your jump, and instead of landing on the pony's back, you sprawl ungracefully over the top of the rump, hands trapped beneath you, while the pony crowhops away. Third, you can finally figure out how to time the hand slap and launch in such a way that you are actually airborne for your pony's back, at exactly the same time the pony takes two quick steps to one side, resulting in a belly flop in the dirt next to your pony. Said pony then spooks violently at the falling body. You, however, flop around in the dirt for the next two minutes trying to remember how to breathe. I think out of the hundred or so attempts at a flying mount, I managed two where I landed on his back, without hurting myself.

9. I once managed to lock myself in a suitcase. We were talking about going on vacation and hiding ourselves in a suitcase in order to fly without paying for a ticket. The locks on the suitcase jammed. It took almost an hour to get the suitcase open because the metal latches jammed and fused, requiring adult intervention to pry me out with a screwdriver. I am very claustrophobic as a result.

10. The town I grew up in holds an annual Little Buckaroo Rodeo, which has become very tame compared with the events we participated in. I was the first girl to compete. It was a scandal. I rode bucking ponies to the buzzer, steers (tossed at 4 seconds. Riding cows is just not my thing.), ran barrels, tied a goat, and pulled a ribbon off a pig. I got my first buckle for competing. That rodeo is still going on, but they don't seem to let the kids ride any animals but sheep now.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Today at lunch I was talking to a co-worker who was part of the conversation on Saturday night when Mark was talking to Steve about Ashke.

When Steve walked off, Mark followed him and said,

"Next time you decide to give away a horse, maybe you should pick one that's not almost dead."


She can be a Bitch.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Last Ride

Tonight was our last ride for at least two weeks. The withdrawal has already started.

Tonight was our sixth ride in eight days. He'll probably be pretty happy about having the time off, actually. I wasn't going to ride tonight but J said, go, it's going to feel like forever before you get to see him again. I went.

We mostly worked on walk-trot transitions. He feels really heavy on my hands at the walk and I was trying to get him to give a little more, but honestly, I think he was tired. We did a few trot-canter in either direction and then I called it done.

Cassandra is supposed to ride him one time while I am gone (in lieu of a lesson) and I am hoping she can get him to frame himself a little at the canter. Overall, I was very happy with his effort. He was happy to see me. And I was smarter, I didn't try cantering at the same time Cali was. We will work on that in a couple of weeks. For now, I want to work on cantering and then slowing when I ask. Brakes are a good thing.

Amaar is at the barn. He moved in on Sunday. Cassandra is going to ride him, so that should be interesting. I'll keep you posted. He and Ashke look a lot alike. I think Liz might like to try photographing all three of our white Arabs.

I will probably not post as much as I usually do, because we will be doing the holiday thing, if we can make it to the school break. T's level of homework is killing us. I will be back to riding on 12/29. And I have a couple of stories for Thursdays.

I almost had a heart attack when T called to tell me the cat had knocked over my beads and they were all over the floor. I had images of 18,000 beads all mixed up together. Luckily, it was only four colors or about 4,000 beads and J managed to get them cleaned up. We do have a nice cat for sale. Contact me if you are interested.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Snap: Browband for Cali

Channeled Xanadu there for a moment. Browbands are for horses. Headbands are for Olivia Newton John. Got it.


Have you ever had one of those nights?

The kind of night where you end up spent and exhausted, covered in sweat, muscles twitching? The kind of night where your bones have melted and you can't move, your eyes are rolled up in the back of your head and you just want to sink into sleep? The kind of night where you are so satisfied you have no words to describe it? That moment when you don't believe you could achieve that level of connection with another living being, ever?

That was my ride today.

Walk-trot transitions.

Trot-canter transitions. First time EVAR!! He tried so hard. He listened. When he tried to rush, I went back to the walk-trot transitions until he was soft and listening in a frame. Correct lead in both directions. He was much more rough to the right, but his head was actually much lower than the last time we tried to canter. I can't tell you how happy I am. We had a huge breakthrough moment.

I was walking on water and over the moon in love with my boy. He was trying so hard and listening so well. He was awfully proud of himself as well.

What did you all think I was talking about?

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Two years ago tonight, a co-worker stood up at our Company Christmas party and announced to everyone that he had given me a horse. I sat at a table, hands clenched in front of me and refused to think, to hope, to dream.

One year ago tonight, a co-worker and his wife greeted me when they arrived at the Company Christmas party, but then hurried off. In the four hours of drinking and eating and socializing neither of them (Steve or his Wife) asked about Ashke. The silence surrounding that topic rang loud with guilt and remorse. I was alright with avoiding them, because I was still so very angry at the condition I had received Ashke in. I was angry that anyone could treat an animal that way.

Tonight, I was no longer angry.

Tonight, I didn't have any feelings at all toward either of them.  The bottom line is if Ashke had been valued and loved I would have never ended up with him. If they had been at all concerned with his well-being there would have been no reason for Steve to have given him away. If they had had any idea of what an incredible animal and partner Ashke was going to be, I would still be trying to save the money to buy a horse. But they had no clue and for that I am greatful.

I have not forgiven them for the criminality of their actions, but it no longer actively effects me.

It still bothers them, though. The biggest issue with announcing you've given away a horse at a company party is that it sticks with people. Four or five different people asked Steve about giving me the horse this year. Every time the subject came up, both Steve and Michelle left the group and went to talk to someone else. Mark followed them, still jawing about the horse. Pedro looked like he didn't understand why they refused to talk about it and asked J how the horse was.  J had to laugh at Steve and Michelle's antics and she told everyone who asked that he was magnificent.

So, two years from the night Ashke became mine, we took a trail ride. The horses had a marvelous time and N and I enjoyed the ride. We found a new way to ride home on the Mesa trail and ended up riding through the neighborhood back to the back of the barn. Ashke was amazing. He was in a frame about 65% of the time, even at a walk. Our trot was very nice. He is getting it a little more every time I ride.

 The only bad part about today was the four inch heels on the boots I wore to the party. My feet are killing me tonight.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Boy Crush

Or . . . what to do when your horse won't stop staring at another horse.

So, I had a lesson on Wednesday night with Cassandra. When I first got to the Indoor, there were four young women finishing up their lesson with Cinnamon. Cassandra was finishing up her lesson with her six o'clock student. I got on Ashke, who was so ramped up he was quivering, and set about the task of focusing and redirecting my horse. About twenty minutes later, Cassandra and I started our lesson.

Ashke is still relatively new to the whole focus and listen to me deal. It is difficult for him to focus when we are in the arena and there are other horses around. When we are out on the trail, I want him to pay attention to our surroundings, in part because I think it is good for his soul, but also in part because if I pay attention to him, he will alert to things that might be trouble. I stay alert on the trail, as well, because the last thing I need is for me to be oblivious to any surrounding danger. However, that's not the case indoors and I need him to trust me enough to focus on what I am asking.

He was doing pretty good for the first half of the lesson. He's not fond of chestnut horses, or bays, and he especially dislikes any horses he's ridden out on the trail with when Cali is with them. For example, even in a frame working trot-walk-trot transitions he would pin his ears and swish his tail every time Bentley came past him. I have found it much easier to get him to pay attention when there are fewer horses and especially one's he doesn't know. He is also much harder to handle/stop when Cali is present, although much more relaxed and willing to work if she is riding with us.

So here I am, in a lesson on a horse that is displaying mild ADHD and the temperment of a 4 year old, when in walks the most beautiful palomino gelding, with flowing white tresses and a butt to die for. (Some kind of QH champion, from what J said. Had an engraved saddle and everything.) Ashke lost focus and became completely enamored of this handsome man-horse.

It was embarrassing.

Kind of like walking the mall with a hormonal teenager. Or actually, walking half a mall behind a hormonal teenager, because teenagers don't walk with their parents. Boy sees girl, boy drools and forgets how to walk, boy trips over tongue . . . . or whatever combination of boy-boy-girl-girl thing is going on. Ashke did the horse version of that.

Granted, it was a very nice looking horse, but really. Ashke started leg yielding in the direction of the palomino every time we went around the circle close to him. He started pinning his ears at any horse that got between him and the palomino. He tail swished and got all prancey. His tongue might as well have been hanging out of his mouth, he was so enamored. Even Cassandra and the cowboy riding the palomino noticed.

I finally asked the cowboy if they could greet each other and I think the cowboy thought I was being stupid, but agreed. Ashke did fluttery nostrils and lippy mouth with the other gelding.

He really likes those yellow colored horses.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday: Truth or Tall-Tale

To recap last week: Truth

And now to our Thursday Truth or Tall-Tale segment. (Sorry, Popcorn may make another appearance next week.)

I grew up on an acre of land. It was divided between a small pasture (@ 1/2 acre) and the land the house set on. There was a slant roofed building we used as a chicken coop, where we housed 150 pullets every January. It was a low building and filled with chicken poop, which we used as a prison for our myriad of games every fall after the Great Chicken Beheading in August. Those were fun times.

At the end of the pasture where the chicken coop was, was a small wood corral. The rest of the pasture shared space with 13 apple trees, in a variety of flavors. In the back, behind the chicken coop, was a wreck of a building, with no roof, where we housed three sows one year, and their 36 suckling pigs. If you think keeping horses in a field is a lot of work, try keeping piglets in their pens.

Our 1942 brick house and one acre of land was part of a 40 acre piece of property owned by one of the local farmers. It had about an acre of for a stockyard, which had two silver grain silos, and a old white building also used as a silo. They made for great mouse hunting games. We didn't eat them, but we did feed them to the barn cats. There was  huge old boxcar with one end off of it, that was used to store hay about a million years before we moved in, but was repurposed as an awesome clubhouse, complete with an old couch. Off one side of the boxcar was a lean-to with a stock corral next to it.

Behind our house and small pasture, was 40 acres backed by a canal. Canals in my childhood were like back alleyways through the countryside, where we could ride for hours and hours, constantly exploring new places. They were great for swimming as well, with or without horses. The only bummer was the occassional dead cow or horse or even pig some farmer upstream decided to dispose of.

Anyway, the land behind us was broken into four parts. There was a five acre pasture, then the rest of the land was divided into three planting fields: alfalfa, wheat and potatoes. There was a ditch that separated the back half from the first half that was used for irrigation. We had a quarter mile dirt road that ran out to the fields and this whole parcel was our playground. Especially after we got horses.

(In case you haven't figured it out yet, I had the soul of a Lakota warrior trapped in a ten-year-old girl's body. Fearless doesn't begin to describe it. The more dangerous the stunt, the more I wanted to try it. And there were always kids around to coerce into trying it with me. Within a two mile radius there were two families with about a dozen kids each, three families with at least five kids, and a couple of families with four kids. Plenty of guinea pigs.)

The second Christmas after I got Queenie, I was given a Western saddle. It was a great gift but the best part about a Western saddle is the horn. You can tie stuff to it. It didn't take long for me to start tying stuff to my saddle and dragging it behind me, usually piled with as many kids as possible. This was especially fun during the winter, when sleds and tractor tire tubes made the challenge of ejecting the riders off them into snowbanks. I perfected the exact trajectory needed to swing Queenie at a hard gallop, out of the wheat field and down the dirt road in such a manner that the tire tube would drift to the right behind us and hit the ditchbank, sending it and anyone still clinging to it about six feet off the ground in a long arch to bounce across the empty potato field. It was especially fun to watch the snow encrusted kids pick themselves up from wherever they had landed, because no one ever managed to stay on. This game was best with truck tire tubes, but unfortunately they are hard to keep inflated and so the game couldn't be played outside of winter.

Then some genius made a red, plastic toboggan with yellow handles and a tow rope in the front. They were long enough that three (count them) kids could sit in it or lay down and pile on top. They were super fast and fairly cheap. We had two of them. They got a lot of use on the sledding hill fifteen minutes from where we lived. They were slick and smooth and traveled over the snow with great ease. They even launched better than the inner tubes over the ditchbank.

The next fall, late October, before the snow had started, I had the brilliant idea of using the toboggans on the wheat field. Wheat fields, when they are cut, are cut very short. The wheat head is harvested for grain (bread) and the wheat shaft, which is about two to three feet tall, depending on the amount of water and heat the wheat is subject to during the growing season, is gathered and baled for straw. This leaves a perfect field. The footing is awesome and it was a favorite to ride in and across after the harvest. One of the things about flood irrigation is that there are small humps built into the field, where the water runs on either side. These humps are about 14 inches high and make both a great jumping obstacle, as well as, an awesome launch point for the toboggan.

We gathered the neighborhood kids, tied the toboggan rope to a lariat, and then secured the lariat to the saddle horn. By this time we had two saddles. Mine and a smaller pony saddle for the younger kids. We used Queenie, of course, with me aboard, and my brother on Sham. (For the complete background on Sham, please read "All the Horses"). I took off across the wheat field with three kids in the toboggan, hitting all of the irrigation humps at a fast trot. The kids thought it was great fun. Queenie thought it was great fun. We started galloping and making circles, watching the kids whip out behind us in a flying arch, the short wheat acting in much the same way as snow would have. My brother, always game, followed behind me on Sham.

We got more and more crazy, going faster and faster. The kids behind us were screaming in delight. And then it happened. My brother took a turn too fast or too sharp, or the kids just got tired of holding on, but the toboggan tipped over and the kids in it sprawled into the wheat (not nearly as much fun as snow) and the squeels of delight turned to groans of pain. The toboggan, freed of the weight holding it to the ground, became a kite.

This was not an improvement.

Sham lost his mind.

He bolted with the toboggan whipping behind him like a kite. My brother dropped the reins and grabbed the lariat end and pulled for all he was worth. This did not slow the horse nor did it release the toboggan. It did manage to wedge the rope tightly around the horn in a manner that made releasing it impossible. In his defense, he hated horses and really didn't like to ride. It was an easy mistake. Sham, who could jump four and a half feet with me on him bareback, raced up to the ditch, slid to a stop, then jumped like a deer over the six foot wide ditch. My brother racked himself on the front of the saddle when Sham slid to a stop, then flipped off the back of the horse as he launched himself, landing on his shoulders with a splash in the ditch. My brother was fine, if covered in muck from the bottom of the ditch, smelling of rotten fish and cow manure and swearing he would never ride another horse (which he stuck to).

Sham kept going, the toboggan flipping and floating in the air behind him. He circled the fields, scaring the crap out of the other horses, while I watched in horror. There was nothing we could do. The rope was tangled around the horn and there was no way to stop Sham. By this time he was running like a scared rabbit, in great leaps forward, more jumps than run. He finally lined out for the house, and I braced for a serious wreck. The big wooden fence at the end of the dirt road was closed. Sham didn't even slow down. He went over that five foot fence like it was child's play. He cleared it with a foot or so to spare. (Sham would have made a great jumper, since he was 13.3hh, if he hadn't been such a psychotic horse and if we had lived somewhere with a hunter/jumper barn. I saw him clear six foot fences from a stand still. He really was part jackrabbit.)

The toboggan floating behind him was not so lucky. As Sham turned to the left toward his pasture, the rope slipped between the gate and the fence post. The toboggan hit the gap sideways and exploded with a sound like a gunshot. It shredded into a thousand parts, but not before it jerked Sham completely off his feet on the other side. He landed on his side with an earth shaking thump. The horn on the smaller saddle broke with a thunderous crack, pulling partway off the saddle and the rope finally slipped free. Sham got to his feet, snorting and frothy, wet with sweat from his ears to his haunches but victorious. He had defeated the Red Dragon trying to eat him. The plastic pieces of the toboggan covered the ground for a good fifty feet in all directions.

That was the last time we did that.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Or, "You don't know what you don't know until you discover you don't know it."

I keep running into this a lot with Cassandra. She makes assumptions and I make assumptions and then we both wonder why in the hell I'm not doing what she wants, then she corrects me and I cry.

Well, not really. At least not the crying part.

The rest though? Spot on.

When I showed as a kid, I showed Western. 40 odd years ago. In 4-H. This is wonderful when you are a kid and want ribbons and the right to earn rosettes at the State Fair, but doesn't really prepare you for learning dressage 40 years later on a horse that is learning with you and who might just be smarter than you are. So, every time I take a lesson I learn something I've been making an assumption about and finding out that I am wrong. Makes an ass out of me, because you weren't there, so it can't make an ass out of you.

Tonight I discovered that the heels down, toes pointed forward does not apply in dressage. It does in Western and for H/J too, but not dressage. My weight should be balanced on the balls of my feet. Or the Gushing Spring TiChi spot according to Cassandra. When done correctly I should be able to feel every twitch of every muscle, nerve and cell in both my legs. While also softening with the inside rein, keeping constant contact on the outside rein, tipping my heel and calf up against his side, holding my outside leg steady and also not whacking anyone across the face with my dressage whip.

I used to think I was good at multi-tasking.

The other thing I learned? That when we transition down into a walk from the trot I shouldn't immediately loosen my reins and let him drop contact. Even at the walk, I should maintain contact. What that means in practical matters is that I should keep my reins the same length, with contact the same, regardless of the speed of the gait. I've been letting Ashke go on a loose rein at the walk, which is bad, because I had to spend most of our lesson relearning and rereminding my stubborn white horse that he really can move forward with contact.

Cassandra laughed and said Ashke has been training me, which I think is a nice way of saying I'm an idiot. By the end of the lesson, I had a better grasp on how he should feel when he is rounding his back and lifting through his hips. I told Cassandra that it felt like we were walking through molasses, but she said he was moving very nicely and faster than I thought. I now know why Cali walks slower than Ashke. It's because when he is moving the way he is supposed to, it's pretty slow.

In 4-H, we were expected to have a booking walk, slow trot and slow canter. Now, the walk is going to be slow.

We worked a lot on trot- walk three steps - trot transitions. He got much better after doing those for awhile. It will give us something to practice.

We ended the lesson with a sweet canter to the left and a pretty much decent canter to the right. He didn't bring his head down for either of those two canters, but he also didn't run away with me either.

J came out with me and took a ton of video. I'm not posting it though, since it was just us walking in a circle, which is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Clothing Blog Hop

Saiph A from Wait for the Jump started this . . .

I run hot.

(Thank you, but that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Now back to our regular show.)

Most of the time, I can tolerate temps in the upper 40's before putting on a long sleeve shirt and a long sleeve shirt with a sweatshirt will keep me comfortable when riding in the indoor, on most days. However, that said, I do want to trail ride in the snow and for that I must bundle up.

For Christmas I am getting:

             -- Winter riding gloves from Dover (I think). They have the reinforcement for the pinky and almost pinky finger where the reins rest, they are waterproof and have leather, no-slip palms and lined with fleece. They are very snug around the wrist, which is awesome, since the wind and snow can't blow in.

            -- Headband for wearing under my new helmet

            -- Irideon Polartec Power Stretch knee-patch breeches in black (Oooooo.)

            -- I have insulated Northface boots I can wear, which I haven't broken out yet, but will going forward, especially out on the trail. Those with my half-chaps should be perfect.

            -- I have a thermal henley under a Halo Noble Team sweatshirt with a Carhart jacket. (Swear to you, if you've never worn a Carhart for riding you are missing out. It is my go-to jacket for the Bronco stadium when the weather is going to be cold. My feet and hands might freeze, but my core stays warm. Buy one. They are worth more than gold. Better than Northface even.)

In Colorado you always have to layer, because you just never know what you are going to get.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I no longer have time to do, since getting Ashke:

- Read. I am an avid reader and at one point had a blog where I reviewed books I had read, but in the past six months I have struggled to make it through any books. Well, except the Laura Crum books, which I read 10 or 11 of, I think. It used to be I would average three or four books a week. Now, I am rereading Harry Potter because I know the story well enough it doesn't matter if I don't read it for a couple of days.

- Iron. This one is dead in the water. Thankfully, I can wear sweaters instead of pressed shirts to work most days and my pants are easy to maintain. This will have to change in the spring, but I'm thinking if I play my cards right I could buy enough hawaiian shirts that I would only have to iron every four weeks or so. Yes, nice Hawaiian shirts are my go to for work during the spring, summer and fall. Argyle sweaters are the winter equivalent of Hawaiian, for those of you who are keeping track. Thank God that J does the laundry, because really I think we would all be naked if I was responsible.

- Clean. Over rated at best and for crying out loud it is a never ending need. This is the real reason women used to stay home and take care of the house. Otherwise, the house is never really clean. My Poly Sci teacher told us in class about a hundred years ago, that house cleaning proves the atrophy of the universe philosophy, since we don't really clean, we just move things from the visible areas of our home to the basement, where it's not seen. Add three dogs, four cats, two bearded dragons and three people in our 1000 sq ft condo and you end up with hair, slobber and snot central. Good thing we are going to G'ma's for Christmas.

- Cook. We now rotate four meals: Manwiches, Spaghetti, Stew and Chicken and Rice. I manipulate J into going out the other three or we eat cereal. I am horrible. I used to plan and plot and try new recipes. Now, if it can't be done in about fifteen minutes, it's not going to happen. And, I used to be responsible for all the meals. Now, J and T are fending for themselves at least two nights a week. At least I try to make sure there are either leftovers in the fridge or pizza rolls in the freezer. I am a catch, let me tell you.

- Household Maintenance. Out the window. The projects that aren't finished are legion. I need, in no particular order, to do the following: Fix the drywall in the upstairs hall ceiling and on the landing leading to the dining room; pull up the carpet in the upstairs hall  and replace with the hardwood that is still in boxes in the hall; paint the upstairs hall and stairwell (which was started four years ago, discovered I hated the color about ten minutes into rolling and stopped. It's an acquired look.); replace the three stairs worth of carpet between the dining room and living room with hardwood; fix the drywall at the top of those three stairs where Skittle was sampling it; repaint the wall in the dining room; repaint the walk-out; take down the pool table, repaint the basement, install a small bar for drinks when playing pool; pull out the carpet, remove the flooring and replace, install radiant heat flooring, lay hardwood, find homes for the bookcases and dog kennel and bearded dragon viv, reinstall pool table; lay hardwood on the stairs leading to the main floor; replace all the windows; pull the bathtub out of T's bathroom, pull the vanity out of T's bathroom, replace toilet, replace floor, fix leak in pipe behind wall in T's bathroom, install new vanity, install new shower, install new toilet, paint, and replace mirror; Take out raised counter in kitchen to create bar seating, replace kitchen counters with granite, install recessed lighting in the dining room, and refinish the cabinets in the kitchen. I'm exhausted just thinking about all of that work. And not doing it makes the list even longer. Sigh.