Coming soon: a new web address for this blog!

[[[At the end of November I'll be migrating this blog to a new address, which will be:]]]

28 November 2016

and there you have it

I'm officially all moved over to

Anything else I write will be posted there, not here.

Unless I change my mind. Which isn't likely, but even if I did, this would no longer be the top post on the page, would it? So I guess it doesn't matter too awfully much.

Have a lovely day. 

17 November 2016

climbing the valley walls

It was bound to happen. I've been riding the wave of horseriding-excitement for three months.

Every high has its low. Yesterday, I just wasn't feeling it. Life piled up. I'd had three nearly-sleepless nights in a row, I'd worked almost 30 hours in those three days, it was a particularly stressful work week, I was barely keeping up with my homework (thanks to the gracious acceptance of a late assignment by one of my professors), and I'm low on the cash flow this month. So when my alarm went off yesterday morning, I snoozed it for about 30 minutes. Then I got up and drove my kiddo to school, came back home and went back to bed.

I could have stayed in bed all day, comfortably if not happily.

When I could no longer sleep, I still laid in bed, not feeling like moving despite my plans to ride that morning. Eventually, I realized what was happening. I've been maxed out recently, and depression was sinking in. But I know the signs of anhedonia and I wasn't about to let that cycle get a foothold. I forced myself to get out of bed and go to the barn. To be fair, it was a lot easier to keep going once I started, and I was at least happy to be at the barn once I got there.

I had planned to work with Dash on our walk-trot transitions again, but something was off from the moment I got there.

I assumed it was just me and my depression, so I let the awareness just stay on the back burner, not fully ignoring it, but not paying it any attention, either. Then I went about my routine.

Get the tack out of the shed.
Put a treat in my pocket for later.
Grab Dash's halter and lead rope.

Dash seemed quiet when I led him out of the pasture - this is unusual for him.
He does usually stand quietly while tied, though, and this time he started shaking his head. Up and down, repeatedly. There were flies buzzing around; the day was oddly still for our windy autumn season. I got the fly spray out and gave him a good layer. The head tossing stopped. Well, that's that, I thought.

He didn't toss his head when I went to put the bit in his mouth - that's unusual for him. We usually have at least two head tosses before he takes the bit.


All tacked up, he followed me almost meekly to the arena. Again, uncharacteristic. He's usually excited.

As soon as I turned to close the arena gate behind us, the wind picked up.
The wind always makes Dash antsy, but this time he seemed half asleep.

He dragged his feet and half-stumbled several times in our first five minutes in the arena.
I dismounted, concerned. I led him around to see if he looked lame - he wasn't. He perked up a bit while we walked around, and even head-butted me like normal as he followed along behind me. But he was still oddly quiet.

I led Dash back out of the arena, untacked him, and just walked around the yard with him.

The wind was getting ridiculous at this point. I talked to M about Dash's mood and health; she thinks (and she would know) that he's just out of sorts. There are two new horses at the barn and the weather's been changing rapidly lately (cue gust of wind). There was no sign of poor health, but Dash is a worrier. She always keeps a close eye on him, so I'm not really worried, but I felt bad for the big goof ball. He hadn't even asked for a treat until after his saddle was off. That's usually the first thing he communicates to me when I show up.

The weather got weird, then. It was calm but windy and the birds were going crazy. It felt like a storm, but one never came.

I went home pensive.

I took today off. I still didn't feel rested when I woke up, and I just felt crappy. I guessed that Dash and I could both use a day off. I'm going tomorrow, though, even if I don't ride. I can't let the depression win.

I've been coasting on the excitement of getting back to horseback riding. Now, I've reached the low point, but that's okay. I know how to climb up out of the valley.

One day at a time. 

15 November 2016

Banana cake

I did something awesome today. 

The restaurant was crazy busy yesterday and we ran out of almost everything, so I had a lot of things to make this morning. It's also the end of our week in terms of grocery shopping, so the stocks were low in most categories. 

I looked in the fridge this morning to decide what soups to make today and the only veggie we had enough of for a soup were red bell peppers. So I made roasted red bell pepper soup and threw some butternut squash I found in the freezer. (Thanks, Minimalist Baker! You came up in my google search in the wee hours of this morning and saved my day.) For the second soup, I put hard cider in a pot with cheddar cheese, some thyme, a bay leaf infusion, leftover potato leek soup, and an apple I found. 

Those were pretty awesome soups, as it turned out, but the really cool thing was this new cake: 

I didn't have a lot of time this morning, but I did have a yellow cake mix and some bananas...

Here's what ya do: 

Puree a couple of bananas with a little water (I used 2 medium bananas and 1/2 C. water, and ended up with 1 1/2 C. banana puree). 

Throw that puree in a bowl/mixer with: yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, 1/4 C. oil (I used canola), & 3 eggs.

If you're at high elevation like I am, you'll probably want to throw another 1/4 C. flour in there too. 

Mix for about 2 minutes, medium speed. 

Bake your cakes: 30-35 minutes at 350, for my oven. Your measurements may vary. 

*I use the parchment paper method for cakes: cut a round of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the cake pan, no-stick-spray the bejeebus out of it, and pour the batter in.

I did this one in two 9-inch layers. That gave me a rather squat cake, so if you want a taller cake either increase the recipe or use narrower pans (is 'narrower' the right word? I don't know).

Aaaaand my cakes fell anyway, so I ended up putting a layer of banana slices in the middle of the cake to bolster the middle... which I will be doing from now on because that was AMAZING. 

Oh, chocolate sour cream frosting is the bomb on this cake. I put that in the middle. I also used up the last of my chocolate cream cheese frosting doing the outside and top of the cake. Because yum. 

 I'd show you a picture, but... uh, it was delicious. 

13 November 2016


The other day I posted a link to the 'crane cam' at Whitewater Draw.

But it was late when I posted and the crane cam only showed the night.

I went back to it this morning, out of curiosity.

I watched it, fascinated, for I don't know how long.

This is my new stillness.

Whitewater Draw

prairie grass murmurs

cranes flutter, tumble
and call

Shared with the imaginary garden's real toads.

I wish I knew html well enough to load up that feed on this post, but I don't so you'll have to visit their site.

11 November 2016


This morning Dash and I worked on gait transitions. We're a little rough but I'm getting better about keeping my heels down and staying balanced.

In the afternoon I took Bear (my son) to see that Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw. It's close to our house, an easy trip I often forget is available. The cranes are there in full glory this time of year. This is their winter home. Their presence is a sure sign that summer is over, and winter is near. I'd never seen them before, although Bear had. I had no idea they made such interesting/odd/what-the-heck-is-that sounds. I'd show you a video but apparently I accidentally deleted the one I took. You'll have to take my word for it, except that I don't even know how to describe the sound they made. 

This evening I made two little belt pouches for Bear's yu-gi-oh cards, which are currently his prized possession. They took me forever because I didn't know what I was doing so I basically had to design them as I sewed them. Probably not the best non-plan I've ever had, but it seems to have worked out. I'm pretty happy with them. I'll get pics tomorrow. 

There's something so permanent about cutting and sewing fabric. It always takes me eons to decide what to sew, and out of what fabric, because once I start, that beautiful whole piece of cloth is gone forever. Whatever it becomes had better be worth that loss. 

Hey look, I found a video someone else took:

How would you describe that sound? 

This is cool too. It's a 'crane cam' maintained by the Arizona Game & Fish Department.

(That'll be better viewed during the day...)

10 November 2016

election depression

I'm still struggling to put my thoughts into words.

I woke up late Wednesday morning. Somehow my phone had turned itself off during the night - even though it was on the charger, so the battery was not dead - which meant my alarm didn't go off. I woke up half an hour after my son's school started. He had slept through his alarm (but he does that every day lately).

Even so, I couldn't hurry. I made him breakfast. He got ready for school. We drove there quietly. I went to the office with him, to sign him in. On the sign in sheet, three names up, somebody's parent had given "election depression" as the reason for tardiness.

I thought, "yeah, that's exactly right," but I didn't want to seem like a copycat so I just left that box blank.

I had planned to go riding, like I do pretty much every Wednesday, but the wind was pretty vicious and when I texted M she said the wind was so bad at her place that she didn't think it was safe to ride. So I stayed home. I played Baldur's Gate on my computer. I looked up recipes. At one point my boss texted me to complain about the frosting I'd used on a cake Tuesday. The frosting was too thin; I'd ended up having to pour it on the cake. It was her recipe, and I'd added more than three times the amount of powdered sugar to it, trying to get it to thicken, but it just wouldn't thicken. I ignored those texts. I told myself to do some homework, but I didn't do that. I couldn't do that - it was too hard to focus on mental tasks. In the evening I sewed a new scarf while watching Project Runway with my son and husband. It's our shared guilty pleasure. My boss texted me again before I went to bed, asking me to come in an hour earlier today. I slept as though I'd worked the whole day.

I don't normally work on Thursdays, but my boss had asked me to cover for her so she could do a catering event.

I got up this morning feeling mostly rested, if not restful. I told my boss I'd try to get there at the earlier time. Then I went riding.

It was windy as hell, still, but not dangerously so.

Dash is always spooky when it's windy, and I didn't have as much time as I'd wanted, but we managed to accomplish something awesome despite that: Dash trotted for about six consecutive strides, twice.

I know, I know. That sounds... like a thing all horses can do.
Dash hates trotting. He has two speeds: walk and canter. I hadn't actually gotten him to trot before today, but I can tell you that his canter is so ridiculously bumpy that I have a hell of time riding it. I assumed his trot would be equally bouncy.
But today, four of those strides were actually smooth. It almost felt like a jog. And and I got him to move between speeds - like going from a slow walk to a fast walk without breaking out into a canter. I was so damn happy I didn't even mind that we had to cut our time short to accommodate my boss. Well, I didn't mind horribly I mean.

One of these days I'll get video of Dash's gaits. I've never felt so much vertical movement in a horse's canter before. It's like flying lead changes but not.

Also, I've learned that keeping those heels way down is probably the most important thing I have to learn about riding Dash.

That's my focus right now.

On Saturday I'm going to a protest.
Next week I'm hosting a comfort food party at my house.
But right now, I'm riding my horse.
It's the best I can do.

01 November 2016

changing things up

You may have noticed several posts posting at once, despite their varied dates of publication... I started a new blog, then decided to move it all over here and just continue this blog in a new format.

I don't know if that makes as much sense as it did when I was thinking it rather than saying it.

Anyway, I'm writing again.
My life's a lot different than it was last spring - in a good way.

Over the next few weeks or so I'm going to be making changes to this blog's appearance and structure.

I am considering changing the address. I'll give you plenty of heads up if I decide to do so.

/to new beginnings/