Saturday, April 30, 2016

Journey of 1,000 Miles

1,000 miles.  That's how far it is, round trip, from home to DD2's college dorm and back.  That's how far DH and I went between 7:30 a.m. Thursday and 5:00 p.m. Friday.  Yeah.  Long drive, short stay, and long drive again.

But, during that short stay, we got to do several enjoyable local things.
  1. Tour the Forestry building, where most of the classes for DD2's major are held.  So many cool outdoorsy things.  Not just the labs and class rooms, but the woodworking in the walls and benches of the hallways.  The artwork hanging on the walls.  The wood samples hung like a giant pictures. . .
  2.  Dinner of pasties from Roy's.  Because, Roy's. Because, delicious. Because, authentic U.P. pasties. I had their chicken pasty for the first time.  YUM!!!  Definitely going to try to figure out the recipe so I can make it at home (I've been making 'traditional' style pasties for decades now.)
  3. Beer at KBC.  Because, micro brews.  Because, KBC is awesome.  Great beer, great environment.  And, for the underage, they make their own soda in-house.  Thursday's flavor was vanilla cream soda.
  4. Stock up on some great Vollwerth's meats for grilling at home this summer.
  5. Take a sauna.  (Not saw-na.  Sow-na)  If you've never had a good U.P. sauna, you haven't lived.  The heat.  The humidity.  The sweat flowing from your body, taking toxins and tensions with it.  (And then, if it's winter, you go jump in the snowbank!).  Ahhh!
It was great.  Only wish we could have stayed longer than just sixteen hours before hitting the road again.  We had hoped to have time to hike to one of the less remote waterfalls before dark, but after moving DD2 out of the dorm, packing her entire school year's worth of belongings into the back of the Suburban, then having dinner, there wasn't quite enough daylight left for hiking.  

View from the window ledge near the front door of KBC.

There is always new and different local artwork and crafts;
this time we spotted a really cool wolf and moose mobile.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.17: New Socks

Happy sunny Wednesday!  It's a little on the cool side here today, with a breeze, but at least the sun is shining.  That's a big improvement over very grey skied yesterday, and, since we let the fire in the wood boiler go out nearly two weeks ago, cloudy days mean the house gets ch-ch-ch-chilly. (And I get cold easily, so really hate those cloudy spring days after the official end of heating season.) Sunny days are very welcome, as the passive solar heating through the windows warms the house back up to a comfortable level.  For instance, the temperature in the house slowly dropped from 68 at bedtime Monday to 61 at dawn this morning. 61 is just not cool with me.  Pun intended; it's darn cold for the interior of a house!  Now that the sun is out, the house has warmed up to 66 degrees in just six hours.  So, gotta love the sunshine!

I'm joining in with Ginny for this week's Yarn Along.

I finished DS1's jumbo vanilla latte socks last Wednesday evening. And, as expected, forgot to take a picture of them. *sigh* Do I know myself, or what?

On Thursday I cast on for Mom's Hermoine's Everyday Socks. Sock #1 is coming along well; I have completed 13 of the 18 pattern repeats in the leg.  With a trip to get DD2 from college coming up (I can hardly believe her first year of college is over!) later this week, I will have lots of car knitting time, so kind of expect to have the first sock completed before next week's Yarn Along.

Meanwhile, I have a ton of things to get done before DH and I head north to retrieve DD2 and her dorm room of stuff.  Number one being take this flamingo fabric Mom's sock is sitting on, and turn it into a pair of summer weight jammies for K3, who is having a birthday on Saturday. Guess now you know what I'll be doing this afternoon. . . ;0)

In the past week, I started, and finished Beverly Lewis's latest book The Atonement.  Like all her books, I enjoyed it, and had a hard time putting it down.  The ending was a little abrupt and I predicted the outcome.  Not to fault the author for that, I think it's just that after nearly two decades of reading her novels I've come to know her writing style and typical plot lines.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Fork in The Road I Didn't Anticipate

I think I am changing barns.  Horse people, I think you will know what I mean by that phrase.  Moving my horses.  Going to a different barn to board. Training with a different trainer.

It's sure not something I thought I would do at this point.  My goal for so long has been to save up scrape up find beg for a loan for the money to complete my own horse facility at this little place here that I never really contemplated moving my horses from where I've been boarding for fifteen years, to someone else's farm.  I always figured when I moved my horses, they'd be coming home.

I mean, I changed jobs nearly a year and a half ago, to work at a different farm, but haven't moved my horses there.  Partially because they are so close and convenient where they've been (the old farm I worked for).  Partially because the barn I work at has hay I don't like and feeding my own hay isn't an option there.  Partially because the barn I work at has mud issues in the majority of the turnouts.

But now I'm giving considerable thought to moving my horses, and it wouldn't be to this little place here.  It also wouldn't be to the barn I've been working at for the past 17 months (for two of the three reasons I mentioned above).  It would be to a totally new place where I really know no one.

So why in the heck am I even thinking about this?  What would be the attraction to this new, this third horse farm?
  1. It's fairly new (built in 2009) and gorgeous!  Everything is in really good shape.  No mud issues!
  2. It's specifically a dressage facility.  With one trainer there daily (who is the owner) and another that comes once a month to do a clinic.
  3. It would put me right where I want to be: with people who are actively riding dressage, and where I can further my own knowledge and riding skills.
  4. I can work off board and/or lessons, while still retaining my job at the other farm ($$$ in my pocket).
  5. The barn owner/trainer and I really seem to get along well and have similar ideals.

This week, I've been doing a 'trial' at the new barn, cleaning a couple of stalls each day.  So far, I really like it.  So far, the barn owner is very pleased with how I clean. So far, so good. I have gotten to try out working there, and she gotten to try me out as an employee. Next week I have a lesson with her; I will try her out as a trainer, and she will try me out as a student.

If that goes well, I will most likely move the Quarter Horse to her barn sometime next month and begin taking regular lessons from her.  I'm excited.  Due to numerous circumstances, it has been about eight years since I had a riding lesson.  My previous trainer's declining health makes it impossible to continue to ride under her. Due to common practice among horse trainers, she still will not allow any other trainers to come to her farm (farm #1) to teach. So it is really great that I have become acquainted with this other trainer, the owner of the third horse farm I have become associated with in a year and a half.  I think this very possibly is the next step in my return to a full time horse life.  The door to my becoming an upper level dressage rider.  Because even if I never return to showing horses (like I did in my teens), I do still wish to develop the skills to ride Grand Prix.

And in the meantime, The Old Man will stay at the first farm, where he's lived for over a decade.  He's comfortable there, and at his advanced age (32!!) he's really only capable of giving short rides to the grandkids, not to any 'full sized' humans.  So it wouldn't make sense to move him to a training barn.  

What does that mean for my future horse facility at this little place here?  Well, it means I'm out and about making dressage-y contacts.  It means the cash I used to pay in board for the Quarter Horse can now go towards fencing for the pastures at this little place here.  I think it will be good, in the long run.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.16: All Over But The Grafting

Quickly joining Ginny for this week's Yarn Along (while I eat lunch before heading out again on my second very busy day in a row).

I finished up my ZickZack dish cloth near the end of last week.

Then I turned my knitting endeavors to making lots of headway on sock#2 of DS1's vanilla latte socks.  It was a weekend full of great weather and lots of outdoor activities, plus having the grandkids over to play for several hours on Sunday afternoon, but I did manage to do some fireside knitting both Saturday and Sunday evenings.  Gotta love knitting by the 'camp' fire.  Then some more knitting Monday night and just a little last night.

Which brought me to the toe of DS1's sock.  And then suddenly, as toe decreases tend to go, it was done.  All over but the grafting, which I shall finish sometime later today, most likely after the sun sets.  This will probably be the last time I post a photo of these particular socks, because the coming week looks fairly busy and I suspect I'll forget to take a picture of them after I kitchener the toe on this sock.

I picked up Beverly Lewis's newest book, The Atonement, from the library last night, but haven't read more than the prologue so far.  I'll report on it next week.  Until then, Happy Knitting, everyone!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.15: April Dish Cloth

Happy Wednesday!  It's time to join Ginny for the weekly Yarn Along.

After giving myself permission to take a break from the second sock of DS1's vanilla latte socks, I actually wanted to work on it.   A bit of reverse psychology, I guess, because I knit on it Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and didn't actually cast on for my April dish cloth until Sunday night.  And even Sunday I first knit a few rows on the sock before grabbing my chosen color of dish cloth yarn and getting that on the needles.  Needless to say, the sock is coming along nicely.  The foot is about 1/3 complete.

The dish cloth, too, is coming along.  It's almost half done all ready.  Dish cloths are such nice quick knits, great for some instant gratification while in the midst of larger projects.  The pattern I'm doing this month is ZickZack, which is a free pattern available from Knit Picks.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Awakening the Beast

Sometimes I feel like there are two mes.  As in, two of myself.  Or, rather, one body, with two different sides.  Not front and back or left and right, LOL, but maybe more like Jekyll and Hyde.  Although neither side is evil, so maybe not Jekyll and Hyde.  Just that the two sides of me are kind of opposite in their goals.

First, came the Horse Me.  As a teen, my life was pretty much Eat, Sleep, Ride.  Sure, there were lots of other activities in my day, like school, and 4-H, and friends, and church.  But mainly I ate, slept, and rode.  4-H was all about horses.  Most of my friends were all about horses.  In school, I tried to tie as much of my classwork into horses as I could.  Honestly, in junior high I actually had a teacher tell me I was not allowed to do any more reports or projects on horses. So for my next report, I chose the Amish as the topic--because of course horses are an important part of their lifestyle.  And for the one after that, Sufis--because of their part in the development of the Arabian horse.  LOL.  In other words, no matter what the topic was, I could find a way to relate it to horses.

Even my electives in high school were tied to horses and my desire to someday run a horse business of my own. Business Management---because I would of course be the manager of the horse business I planned to someday own. Business Law--because knowing some basic legal stuff would be useful to being a business owner.  Accounting--because then I wouldn't have to hire a bookkeeper for my farm.  Graphic Design--because I like art, and I wouldn't need to hire a graphic designer to create a logo or letterhead or other artwork for my farm.  Genetics--because I love science, and what potential horse breeder doesn't need to know a lot about genetics? Etc, etc, etc.

But then I became a mom, and I knew I had to put Horse Me aside.  Or, at least, make horses the second most important thing in my life.  Then, later, I met DH, and the day I told him "I love you more than horses", I knew I was a goner.  Horse Me definitely wasn't second any more.  And then came marriage, and getting DH's engineering career off the ground, and more children.  Wife & Mom Me had taken over, and, in order to deal with some of the time and money and personal sacrifice aspects of being a committed wife and mother, Horse Me had to be stuffed in a closet.  Because otherwise not being where I had wanted to be at that phase of my life (owning a horse farm, training and teaching, riding all the time) was just too depressing to think about.

Even when I was able to own a horse again, I didn't have discretionary funds for my riding.  Just the basics: board, farrier, vet.  Riding boots had to be either second hand, or the cheapest brand new pair I could get. Equipment was just the essentials, and all purchased as rock bottom pricing as I could find (but quality, I insist on quality stuff, not cheapy things that are designed to be temporary). Barn clothes were whatever 'real clothes' I had stained or torn and could no longer wear 'in public'.

Likewise, time for riding could only come when my daily obligations as Wife & Mom were met.  Which meant that at times, I wouldn't ride regularly.  Sometimes hardly at all.  At times it was very frustrating and hard to deal with.  So, in retrospect, I stuffed Horse Me away and didn't let her out much.  I kept her on the skimpiest of diets, not daring to feed her and let her get too strong for her chains.  Because she and Wife & Mom Me didn't cohabitate very well.  Wife & Mom Me knew that family was Numero Uno and that the sacrifices a wife and mom makes in order to raise children well and stay married through all the trials and challenges of life were not exactly things that jibed with a successful riding career, at least not of the type that Horse Me had dreamt of.  So, Horse Me had to be kept on the life support of working at horse farms for a few decades rather than the full diet of riding and reading about and training horses.

Most of the time, Horse Me stayed quiet, waiting.  On occasion she would pound on the door of her closet, rattle her chains, and yell to be let out, that she was tired of waiting.  But, mostly, and especially the last several years of raising children, she has bided her time, trusting that her confinement was nearing an end.

Well, now that all the kids are grown and moved out, Horse Me is being allowed to get off life support and go back, albeit gradually, to a full and healthy diet of horses, riding, reading, and more riding!  Time in the saddle has increased tremendously since DS1 et al moved out.  I am reading and remembering things about riding that I had forgotten I knew, it's been so long since I used that knowledge.  I have, in the past month, attended both a seminar and a symposium about horses/riding.  I have been researching nearby dressage trainers and would like to find one to start taking regular lessons from.

With the kids successfully raised to independence, and DH's job travels possibly increasing in the coming year, it looks like the path is clear for Horse Me to come out of confinement and embark on the career she wished for. Or, at least, something of the career she wished for; at this point--and age--I don't think becoming an international-level rider is in the cards.

Hopefully riding and training, shall become my second career now that I have "retired" (after 26+ years)  from what was the main consumer of my focus, time, and money: raising my children.

I realized the other day, while logging yet another ride last week (4!! in one week!) into my riding journal, that I have ridden more times so far in 2016 than I did in all of 2015.  And in 2015 I had more rides than in 2014.  Definitely moving in the right direction for Horse Me's happiness.

In fact, the more I ride, the more I read about riding, the more horse-related activities I do, the more I find myself smiling.  And laughing.  And not minding quite so much all the mundane parts of life like washing the dishes and cleaning the toilet.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Deer Selfies

Many years ago, Mother-in-law got DH a trail cam for Christmas.  It was a so-so model, took pictures that occasionally weren't too dark, too overexposed, or too blurry, and it ate batteries like crazy.  Especially during the actual deer hunting season when the weather is cold.  Through the years we got a few decent pictures from it, and DH liked being able to 'see' what deer were moving around out in our woods.

In 2015, DH upgraded to a newer trail cam with much better photo capabilities, and way better battery life (it has gone for over six months now--'living' outside the whole time--on the same set of batteries and takes a ton more pictures than the old one did).  We are really enjoying seeing not just the deer out in the woods, but also the other critters this trail cam takes identifiable pictures of; in the dark, in the light, all with day and time stamps right down to the second.  (Which, for sharing here, I cropped off.)

Some of the pictures are interesting, and some are just downright humorous.  I've taken to calling the humorous ones "Deer Selfies".  As in, if deer took selfies the way humans do.

"oops, wrong angle"

"shoot, that's not it either"

"getting closer, at least"

"Got it!  This one is going to be my new profile pic on Facebook."

Looks like someone got ahold of Mom's phone. . . 

"Ha ha, Mom left her phone unattended again"

Gonna send this one to Grandma, she'll love it;
 then Mom won't be mad at me for taking pictures with her phone.

When teenagers hang out, chances are sooner or later somebody's gonna get mooned.

"Hey guys, did you know there is a whiskey called 'Wild Turkey'? 
That's me; I'm a  wild turkey.  Get it?  Get it?"

"Always look both ways before crossing the road, that's what Mom always said."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.14: I Want To Knit Something Else

Joining in with Ginny for the Yarn Along today.

Could it be that I have the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome?

This week the boredom with sock #2 for DS1 set in.  I want to start on the next pair of socks, the ones I'm going to make for my Mom with her skein of self-striping yarn, but my needles are 'trapped' in DS1's sock.  Oh, I know I could slide all 72 stitches of his sock onto stitch holders and just get to making Mom's sock, but I'm stubborn.  Why not just finish his dang sock all ready?!?  I mean, I'm nearly to the heel turn.  And I find heels fun.  And after the gusset is done, the yarn will be back to striping again, so the foot won't seem to take all that long.  Making stripes magically appear seem to speed up the knitting process.  Plus, I hate to have UFOs laying around.  My personality is one of dogged persistence, not the "ooh, shiny!" kind.

But yet, I find that instead of picking up my knitting in the evenings lately, I'm reaching for other things.  A book.  A DVD to watch with DH.  Even a stack of papers that has been growing and in need of sorting and filing for months now.

Whatever shall I do?  I refuse to take this sock off the needles until it is finished.  I will not allow myself to start a new pair of socks until this second sock of the current pair is complete.  I will not give in to Second Sock Syndrome!

I think it might possibly be time to get out the bigger needles and some dish cloth yarn.  Just a little intermission. . . work on a dish cloth for a night or two, then back to finishing DS1's sock.  My goal is to finish it in the next two weeks, because there is no sense taking a nearly completed sock on the long car ride to retrieve DD2 from her dorm at the end of the semester later this month.  No, that trip needs a new project.

Dish cloth it is.  Now to pick a pattern.  ;0)

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Good, Horsey Weekend

I did something this weekend that I haven't done in ten years.  And before that, about fourteen years previous, was my first exposure to the concept.

I audited a dressage clinic.

Actually this was a symposium, meaning the first half of the day was discussion on riding theory, held in a classroom, and the second half of the day was the part with the actual riding.  So truthfully, this was the first symposium I've been to.  The other two times were clinics, where riding was done all day and there were no separate theory classes.

Anyway, it was wonderful.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Took pages and pages and pages of notes during theory, and a couple more pages while watching the riders and listening to the clinician teach them specifically.

It was held at Albion College and the clinician was Charles de Kunffy.  Not sure how many non-dressage horse people (heck, even how many dressage people under forty) know that name.  He's very old school.  Which is part of why I totally loved listening to him and watching him teach.  I'm pretty old school in my riding.

I could go on and on about the things he said, but then this blog post would be gushing over things most readers aren't interested in and probably wouldn't understand.  Let's just suffice it to say he teaches with a lot of humor and is easy to relate to. Never mind that he was born into European nobility pre-WWII, and I was born into working class people in Michigan in 1971; his words and word pictures had no age or status gap.  So much wisdom to impart.

instructing a rider

Any serious riders, dressage or otherwise, I would highly recommend attending a clinic or symposium with him if you get the chance.  Although if you live in a northern climate, the chances might be few and far between.  We had a cold spell over the weekend, with snow on Saturday, and he made a comment about how he preferred to only teach in climates "where bananas ripen".  If I hear of him coming this far again, I will definitely be in attendance!

view on my drive home;
bananas definitely don't ripen here.

Sunday continued my horsey weekend goodness.  I worked the Quarter Horse, and then, by chance, met a lady who runs a dressage barn about 15 miles away from this little place here.  She inquired about some hay I have for sale, and ended up coming to purchase an amount of it that evening.  Small talk while throwing bales from my barn loft into her truck bed turned up a few names that we both knew, some common denominators (she once trained at a barn I boarded at, decades before I boarded there under different owners) and similar horse-related experiences. We seemed to hit it off pretty well, and I might possibly be taking a riding lesson (or more than one) from her in the future since I am desiring a dressage instructor to touch base with now and then.

All in all, I'd say it was one of the best horse related weekends I've had in a long, long time.  Not to dis my family, they are great and I love them all.  But not one of them can carry on an intelligent conversation when it comes to horses, let alone about dressage.  Sometimes you just gotta hang out with people like you.  You know what I mean?