High Winds

Eli schooled lightly but very well over fences on Friday evening. As it turned out, it was a good thing I jumped him then, because Saturday, while sunny and bright, was too windy to jump anything. I had trouble just trying to trot. We had sustained winds out of the north at 25-30mph with gusts to 50mph and greater. Eli and I wound up just strolling around in the wildflowers at a walk. He never seems to mind wind, although on Saturday he did have a bit of a snorting fit when we first started walking around, but with that much wind and dust and dry air I can hardly blame him for it.

portrait from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Sunday was a much nicer day and I spent the day working outside until 5 or so, then drove out to get Eli some grazing time.

The weekend was not a total waste — a good friend was in town on business and we went to Lamberts Sunday night. If you ever visit Austin, I definitely recommend checking out Lamberts–as long as you like meat. Don’t bother going if you don’t eat meat, though. I don’t think there would much on the menu for you.

And that’s just the bar menu, where this friend and I prefer to eat while there. There is a lot more meat on the full menu.

Hopefully this evening will be less windy and I can have a decent flat work session on Eli!

Eating Habits

This is a check in for me, and my horse, and actually my dog, too! So a little while back, I decided I needed to stop eating so much crap. Right around the same time, Eli decided to change his diet, too. And of course Conrad’s appetite has improved since he had his teeth cleaned.

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First, me: I haven’t had a doughnut recently, I am no longer eating a metric tonne of peanut M&Ms daily, and I am consuming worthwhile calories at breakfast instead of granola-bar-type products that are just basically a bunch of sugar anyway. Two thumbs up to Soylent’s Cacao and Chai flavors. I have always struggled with eating solid food in the mornings, and these are a nice alternative. I am still drinking a gallon of coffee. That will never, ever change. My clothes all still fit, so I guess I am on the right track. Although, I probably did not need to eat grilled cheese for lunch twice this week.

Eli: He’s eating normally again. I think I did due diligence here to rule out any teeth issues. He likes the barn grain now, apparently. He can have it! My wallet likes it, too. He is also eating a lot of hay. I think he might even be putting on a little more weight. I was worried he would drop weight but it doesn’t look that way at all right now.

Conrad: After Conrad had his teeth cleaned and two more incisors extracted, he has been eating really, really well. He wasn’t eating poorly before, just slowly and with less enthusiasm than what he is showing now. He is gobbling his breakfast and loves chewing up a little Milkbone after. I think next year for his dental, I might consider asking the vet about cleaning twice a year instead of just once a year.

So, that’s about it. Maybe in another month or so my pants won’t feel quite so snug, ha!

30 Things

I am jumping someone else’s train today — May as Well Event and The $900 facebook pony both posted 30 things we didn’t know about them, and I really like learning random shit about people. At first I wasn’t sure that I could come up with 30 things, especially non-horsey things as Amanda did, because I like that version of it. And after reading The Everything Pony’s 30 things I think it’s interesting that many of us have much more in common than just horses.

1. I took tap & ballet as a kid. I sucked at it, so I quit. I could not do the turning without getting dizzy because I could not coordinate that whole “look at a focus point far away and don’t turn your head until you have to” thing. I am pretty sure I fell down a lot.

2. I took piano lessons as a kid. I sucked less at that, but didn’t practice and stopped going. Although not once did I fall off the bench!

This stuck.

3. I started riding lessons at 9. I sucked at this, too. I fell off a lot. This demonstrates I am not a quitter if I suck at something but love it.

4. What can you do with a BA in English? Go to grad school and graduate. Twice. Drop out of law school. Maybe get a decent job with okay benefits.

5. I worked at HEB. Went through the 2 weeks of training. I thought I’d just be bagging groceries but they put me on the 10-items-or-less line on a holiday weekend and one guy who didn’t speak English very well came through with a ton of exotic produce. I finished working my shift and never went back. Except to shop. Also … would it not be 10-items-or-fewer?

6. I have broken toes, my right elbow, and my left wrist. I have no idea why I haven’t broken more things. See 1. & 3. above.

7. I have waded in Lake Superior long enough to get a leech stuck on the bottom of my foot.

8. We had a beach condo in Port Aransas growing up and my mom always pointed out the different birds. I got really into this and still look for birds of any type everywhere I go. When I see one I haven’t seen before I thumb through a Peterson guide until I find it. I should probably start one of those birders’ “life lists.” Being in Texas, I see some birds that I take for granted, but apparently it is a very big deal to many birders to see a roadrunner. (Tangentially — can you imagine how terrifying and powerful birds would be if they were people-sized? But they are cute and fascinating because they are small. How wonderful this is.)

9. I love far West Texas. Well, not the gigantic, fast, terrifying scorpions there but everything else. I love Marfa. I love going to Star Parties at the McDonald Observatory. I have not seen the Marfa lights, though. Not for lack of trying.

DO NOT touch the works in concrete.

10. I can get a little obsessive about “occult” stuff like cryptozoology and paranormal crap. I used to watch that type of show on tv a lot. Both the fictional and the reality/educational versions. Films, too. The entertainment value wears off after a while for some of it, but I think cryptozoology is actually a really cool way into learning about other cultures. I think of it as a facet of cultural anthropology. Think about what The Hound of the Baskervilles reveals about 19th century Britain. See?

11. You may have already gotten a sense of this, but I am a bit of an amateur naturalist.

12. Remember how I said I love far West Texas? I maybe haven’t been to Big Bend yet. Oops.

13. I am obsessed with the Victorian Era. Also the Age of Enlightenment, but not quite to the same degree.

14. I am obsessed with Gothic literature from the 18th and 19th centuries.

15. I took so much Russian history and art history in college that I could have double majored but there was extra paperwork and having to get permission and other bureaucratic shit that I didn’t bother. I don’t need a piece of paper to confirm my interests.

The Monk was actually pretty ridiculous.

16. My favorite books are Frankenstein, Anna Karenina, The Master and Margarita, and Jane Eyre. And really any Gothic fiction. I’ll read it eventually. Working through Northanger Abbey‘s “horrid” novels right now. But Frankenstein will never not be genius. Much of what media I do enjoy relies heavily on Frankenstein, whether deliberately or inadvertently. I could say that last part about Faust, too. There’s some overlap in there. And while I am talking books, if you want to read Russian literature in translation, look for the pair of translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

17. I firmly believe you can never read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” too many times.

18. My favorite movies in color are Bladerunner, The Secret of NIMH, and Amadeus. Out of Africa is really good, too.

19. My favorite movies in b&w are The Hound of the Baskervilles, Laura, and The Thing from Another World.

20. I love absurdist humor. I think Will Ferrell is a genius. I also love whatever it is that David Lynch does.

21. “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

22. I am in an online quiz league and I love taking online quizzes. Maybe not math ones.

23. My side-hustle is horse-related, but I mention it because I do love to share my knowledge with those who find interest in similar things who are willing to share their knowledge. Sometimes teaching is a great way to learn.

24. I can’t really sit in movie theaters anymore without having a panic attack. This doesn’t bother me much, because of HD and a fully-stocked bar at my house.

25. I am not religious. While we are in the whole “protected class” area, my sexual orientation is no means no and my gender identity is horse chick.

26. I have lived in Central Texas my entire life and have no plans ever to leave.

27. Bananas taste like a swamp smells to me. I have no idea why this is, but it doesn’t matter. I hate them.

28. Employer-sponsored health insurance has a little too much influence over my life choices right now, but maybe eventually it won’t. Pre-existing conditions don’t have to be political.

29. Chronic laziness in people drives me insane to the point of rage.

30. I do not go camping.

How to Texas in Michigan Weather

My parents are from Michigan. In what I can only characterize as a stroke of genius, they moved to Texas in the 70s (and it had absolutely nothing to do with the Army. Nope.). So every time I say something about this winter of never-ending ice and wet and cold and fog and freezes, they just retort something about how I would die shoveling snow. Yeah. You’re not wrong, forebearers of Swedish, German, and Scots-Irish descent. My DNA may come from the land of ice and snow, but weathering these dank, dark, Moria-like conditions is not for me. No, really, I feel like I am in a giant cave of stuff I want nothing to do with. Where is the sun?

So, how does a Texan cope in this purgatory of dreary desperation?
1. Spirits. Self-explanatory. Flask optional. Be aware that tequila may make you a little too aggressive about demanding more tortilla chips for your queso …

2. Layer-up: Eli gets to wear his quarter sheet A LOT right now, and honestly I think he appreciates it, which is to say he doesn’t try to kick or buck it off. I wear a puffy vest under a puffy coat and groom while wearing gloves and sometimes I leave my helmet on for a really long time after riding because hunter hair keeps my ears warm. I may have driven home with it on the other day, but I can’t say for sure.
3. Stay layered-up while indoors. I wear my puffy coat at my desk at work and at the dining room table at home. I am just trying to recreate what 85F and sunny feels like. But inside. Where the heat is not turned up enough, in my opinion.
4. Scalding hot Mexican food. Slathered in scalding hot queso. Oven-warmed (or heat lamp, either way) tortilla chips are the appropriate utensil.

5. While we are on Mexican food, jalapeños. I put them on everything right now. On toast. On potatoes. On salads. I think they might be good in Greek yogurt …
6. Scalding hot showers: the only time I am actually warm.
7. Scarves … this goes beyond just layering up. I wear scarves everywhere year-round. In winter, I maybe wear two at a time. Then I can wrap my neck and my face from the nose down.
8. Keep a wardrobe of enough winter layers to satisfy a Sherpa in the backseat of your car because when the weather guy says it’s going to get up to 50 today, he means for like 3 minutes. The rest of the day will be like 36F and you might see penguins.
9. Fire. Fire pits, chimineas, grills, smokers … if you have to be outside, light something on fire and cook meat until it gets that smoky, crunchy char around the edges. And then eat it with queso and jalapeños.

And like any devoted Texan, I have added both “chimineas” and “queso” to my spell-check dictionary.

Procrastination

I have really funny friends, and sometimes we have amusing conversations. And sometimes the culmination of such conversations result in:

I let my art speak for itself.

You know how it is. We are all trying really hard not to suck. Some may try harder than others, and some are in different places in their journey of trying not to suck. And not all journeys are in straight lines. (And there might have been a slightly different expression used during the development of this metric.)

Just imagine one side is the good/happy side, the other is the bad/sad side, and the middle is like Kent Farrington-level competence at not sucking. (Or any admirable rider/horse person of any discipline.)

Most of the time I feel pretty orangey-yellow or yellowy-orange when I am working with or around horses. Can I wrap a hoof? Definitely. Is that wrap going to stay on overnight? Mostly. But I ain’t no FEI groom.

Honestly, at some point I think any horse person has experienced almost every level of sucking or not sucking. But where do you think you’d put yourself on this spectrum the majority of the time? Questions and answers here are just for fun. Don’t nobody take ’emselves too serious now.

In other news, I did not ride last night. I had riding clothes for 50f, not 30f. I am sure I can think of the exact place where I’d put meteorologists on this spectrum.

Am I Supposed to Change?

There is some math in the back of my mind, and I considered discussing it in this post … but I hate math. So we’ll skip BMIs and what percentage a rider’s weight should be of a horse’s weight for a safe and comfortable ride for both. I am within the acceptable range in both cases, so those are not very good rubrics for how I want to approach this.

At a recent doctor’s appointment, I saw a number I had never seen before, associated with me. It was … a new experience. A variety of factors contribute to this number — desk job, the holidays, total lack of paying attention or giving a crap, prescription medications, erratic weather, my age, want of discipline …

Bad picture quality, but I can be my own goals.

Realistically, which of these factors can I control? Let’s start with discipline. I don’t have it, not consistently, not for everything. Not for much, at all. However, I think this will be the first place I start, the first place I can change. Discipline is totally up to me.

You see, I have been pretty active most of my life and have eaten and drank whatever, whenever most of my life. I haven’t had to think much about fitting into my clothes. Where I am right now, I still don’t. Yet. But I need to cut out some behaviors that are detrimental to my health, such as eating lunch out of a snack machine. Or I’m going to need a whole new closet and ain’t nobody got money for that.

I also owe it to my horse to be a little less slovenly and a little more athleticly-minded in my habits. I owe it to myself to develop new habits that on balance will be really, really easy to do. I am not talking about following whatever diet people follow, or trying meal services, or joining any kind of gym-like facility. I have tried such things and they are not to my taste. Convenience and simplicity are to my taste, at least when it comes to day-to-day nutrition.

I am going to stop eating cookies every damn day. I am going to stop going for the all-you-can-eat peanut M&Ms telling myself they are a great source of protein. I am ditching mayonnaise and creamy salad dressings (already had to give up most ranch dressings on the market because of msg anyway). But can I be bothered to pack a lunch for work? Eh, nah. I can still get a salad at work, but instead of augmenting that with cookies, candy, pop tarts, and sodas I am trying stuff I have never tried before: Soylent and RXBARs. Less sugar, right away. I can subscribe to both, either through the brand websites or Amazon — I am going with Amazon because I have other subscriptions via Amazon, too, and you get discounts for subscribing to many things. Soylent’s “Let us take a few things off your plate” speaks to me.

An allergist told me not to eat too many eggs, so this may backfire on me …

RXBARs, I just ran across on social media and thought they sounded good, and once I compared their nutrition labels to other “healthy” or “protein” bars, I knew I wanted RXBARs. No added sugars, unlike almost everything else.

But that is not to say I want “whole” foods or I am going to go on some crazy ass Candida cleanse that would probably leave me starving to death wondering why I can’t have some buttered rye toast with my coffee. Did I mention I am NOT giving up bread or cheese? I am not a masochist. GMO? Fine with me. Meat? I am eating less and less of it but I have no plans to give it up entirely. (Yet. The way America does factory farm feedlot meat is pretty much unsustainable but that’s outside the scope of this post.)

I didn’t know I needed molybdenum but sure.

Soylent piqued my interest some time ago when I somehow caught one of the founders interviewed, and he was his very own tech bro guinea pig, even wondering why he had the formula totally right and still came up anemic and realized, oh yeah … iron … I thought he was absolutely adorable and because of my love of classic sci-fi I couldn’t help but snork at the name. I held off, though, because initially the product was one flavor in powder form and that was just not convenient enough for me. But I liked the idea. This could be like lembas bread in a bottle.

I am still going to cook myself food, to the extent that I cook — if salads, sandwiches, and pastas even count. I eat nuts and berries anyway, too. (Cue Talking Heads (Nothing But) Flowers.) I need a desk-job-doable solution to my abhorrent eating habits. I’m trying these two things first.

As far as palatability, I can recommend both Soylent Cacao and the chocolate sea salt RXBARs. I also get that satiated feeling after consuming either, a feeling I do not get at all ever when snacking on the sugary stuff. I am just trying to evolve some of my worse habits into less bad ones. Maybe my breeches won’t feel quite so tight in the waist in a few months. Hopefully I can keep myself in the kind of shape I try to keep Eli in. Conrad can stay smooshy, though. Except in reality he is probably in the best shape out of the three of us creatures right now.

We are not that far away from this and I can get us there again.

I am not getting anything from Amazon, RXBARs, or Soylent for writing this. This is just my brain hatching its weird little plans. But I’d happily take free stuff from any of those companies. Has anyone tried the Soylent Chai?

Ice Days

While I did not see as much ice at my house as some other areas of town, driving to the barn was out of the question on Tuesday because the main road I take there had iced-over bridges. Work texted to say the library would be closed. This meant spending all day with Conrad.

And actually, I didn’t go to work on Monday or Wednesday, either. Monday was a holiday and I had dental work on Wednesday (which meant I couldn’t drive for a while). I had some time to kill.

Cinema

I rarely sit down to watch an entire movie, and I solidly avoid movie theaters at this point due to agoraphobia. I don’t watch too much TV, but I am a diehard fan of a few shows. I still haven’t caught up all the way with the X-Files, and I’m already behind in S2 of Victoria, but I finally finished Twin Peaks S3Es18&19. Before I finished Twin Peaks, I watched Blade Runner 2049. I should point out here that my favorite movie all time ever is Blade Runner. (Either the 1992 release or the 2007 release–I have ambivalent feelings about the “happy ending” but Edward James Olmos arguably has the best line in the film in this ending.) (I also have a whole take on why Rutger Hauer’s last few words before the character dies are so illuminating.) So the bar was high for a second installment.

we are the goon squad and we’re coming to town beep beep

If you enjoy sci-fi, psychological thrillers, and stunning cinematography, watch this movie. It’s immaculate. It’s also heavy-handed, but so was the first one. I think most fans of the first one will love this sequel. Robin Wright’s performance especially stands out to me as phenomenal. And Hans Zimmer’s score truly sets a chilling atmosphere for a dystopia that doesn’t seem so unrealistic or that far off, and somehow the sets play much earthier than those in the first Blade Runner, perhaps due to an almost overwhelmingly chic palette of slate and gold, hinting that perhaps in every scene these characters are wandering a labrynthine mausoleum. The origami unicorn concedes to a wooden horse.

I will most likely re-watch Blade Runner 2049 very, very soon. As for any more TV, I have Black Mirror and Dark at the top of my list of things to watch ASAP.

Card Games

care to zoom in on my dental bill? ugh.

On Wednesday, Jump Off Deck 2 from Equestrians Against Normalcy arrived and I immediately set to playing with the cards, easily coming up with snarky yet truthful combinations. I cannot wait for the H/J deck to be released!

Online Quizzes

A friend has got me hooked on taking quizzes online. We talk about and take quizzes daily. I have expanded my knowledge of the geography of Africa by … um, a lot. I have striven to learn a little more geometry and endeavored to add more nuggets of science trivia to my brain’s RAM. If you want to take fun, silly, or genuinely educational quizzes online, try Sporcle. I am super hooked on any quiz that asks me to name the animals of certain continents and quizzes dealing with language, for instance, name all the words in Poe’s The Raven that rhyme with “evermore.” I am lucky in that various forms of dementia don’t seem to run in my family, but I would like to keep my brain working well for as long as possible. Of course all these online quizzes are meant to be taken from memory, on the honor system. It’s no fun besting competitors if you’re cheating (unless you’re Kelley Farmer, I guess.)

The only radio station I listen to anymore …

The few times I left my house and drove somewhere, I drove to the barn. It’s a good 20-30 minute drive from my house (depends on traffic and whether I hit the lights timed well) and I discovered that 1st Wave on satellite radio is literally the mix tape I’d be making all my friends (Minus the Elvis Costello–can’t stand that guy. Leave Alison alone, dude.). It’s 80s classic alternative with some late 70s and early 90s tossed in. Where else can I hear Cat People and Bring on the Dancing Horses? I recommend singing both of these songs as loudly as possible.

So, when I can’t play with my pony very much because of ice, the above things suffice to keep me entertained. I really hope I can ride tonight! It’ll be a good time to try a quarter sheet on Eli again.