Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ricky Ubeda and Jessica Richens Dance Sonya Tayeh's Choreography on SYTYCD

One of the most amazing dance performances I have ever seen.

Ricky Ubeda and Jessica Richens dance Sonya Tayeh's choreography to the song "Vow" by Meredith Monk
(video from

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Unpleasant Dream

I had a disturbing dream last night. I was away from home on this weird combination of cruise ship/renaissance faire/supermarket. I'd been on it for a while, and I hadn't been able to sleep or have any privacy because I had to bunk in a room with several others. So I was wandering around the ship/faire/store in search of ... something ... and I would occasionally run into people who would ask/say "You're having a wonderful time, aren't you?" And I would respond, "No, I want to kill myself." And they would laugh and go on about their business.

It was not a nice dream.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Some Thoughts on Money Hoarding

There is nothing wrong with making a good living. And hard work should certainly be rewarded. But when is enough ENOUGH for these people who earn more money each year than most of us would know how to spend in a lifetime? People who keep more *stuff* in their house than they really need or could ever have use for are called "hoarders" and are frequently said to suffer from some sort of psychological problem. So what about these individuals and corporations who hoard massive amounts of money. More money than they could possibly need or use in several lifetimes.

Yes, having a savings account is good. It's a good idea to have enough money tucked away to keep you, your family and/or your business going through tough times. But when you start hoarding money simply because you feel you must have more and more and more money, that IS a problem.

What if these men were hoarding food instead of money? Keeping massive amounts of food locked away in their houses and shipped to secret vaults overseas -- more food than every member of their family could eat in several lifetimes -- food that slowly rots because no one is eating it. And this man won't sell it to people who are starving because he feels he needs to keep absolute control of all the food he can get his hands on. No one would accept that as normal behavior. However, it is acceptable to hoard money.

But in reality, money IS food. And medicine, clean water, clothing, shelter. Money is simply an easier way to carry and exchange all those things. So when you hoard money, you are stifling the exchange of necessary goods. You are letting food rot instead of making use of it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Back in the Saddle

For the first time since I was thrown and badly injured over three years ago, I got back on one of our horses and rode around the arena. When I was thrown, I had broken my tailbone, dislocated over half my ribs and severely damaged my hip and thigh muscles. I'd managed to ride my friend's horse, Red, who is extremely well trained and very reliable a couple of times over the past three years, and both times, my tailbone still hurt fairly badly. So getting back on the horse this time was partially just to see how my tailbone would deal with sitting in the saddle. The other part was to see how much I remembered about riding and to hopefully help build my confidence up again.

I wasn't confident enough to ride Shadowfax, our Andalusian gelding that threw me, so I was riding Ziggy, our "more sedate" older TB gelding. I was planning on just riding around the arena at a walk, but things got a little more interesting than that.

There is one corner of the DASH arena that is called "The Scary Corner". All the horses seem to have problems to some extent with that corner. I was trying to get Ziggy to go into that corner, and Foxfire came over on Shadowfax to try and show Ziggy that there was nothing scary in the corner. Of course, Shadow got into the corner and completely freaked out, proving that there was indeed something scary in the corner, a bucking, kicking Andalusian. Naturally, Ziggy spooked. He ducked and backed so fast that I came out of the saddle and halfway onto his neck, then he spun a complete 180 and started to bolt. Fortunately, I managed to tighten the reins enough that he didn't bolt, and we just walked away from the corner before turning to watch Shadowfax continue to freak out. It's a good thing that Foxfire is as good a rider as he is.

I directed Ziggy further away from Shadowfax and continued to sedately walk around the arena, and things went fine for a while. Foxfire eventually got Shadowfax's brain back in his head and decided to end the ride on that good note. DA decided that she was done riding at the same time, so both of them left the arena. I decided to ride Ziggy around one more time, then get off. Before leaving the arena, DA actually asked, if I would be okay by myself, and I said that I would be. I couldn't really blame Ziggy for spooking when Shadow went ballistic right next to him, and other than that, he'd behaved very well.

I'd forgotten that Ziggy can be a little buddy sour. As soon as both DA and Foxfire were out of sight of the arena, Ziggy began to call to Shadowfax, then he began to buck. Yes, reliable old Ziggy actually began to buck. They weren't very big bucks, but they were enough to bounce my butt out of the saddle and scare me pretty badly. The first buck caught me completely by surprise, during the second buck, I managed to tighten the reins enough to pull his head up and back so that couldn't buck anymore and he stopped dead, still quivering a little.

I immediately called to Foxfire to come back. I did not want to get thrown again, and Ziggy's bucking had pretty well freaked me out temporarily. By the time, Foxfire made it back to the arena, Ziggy had calmed down and I was feeling less freaked. I told Foxfire what had happened and said that now that Ziggy has mis-behaved, I needed to ride him longer to teach him that he couldn't act out simply because his buddy had left him behind. DA had finished untacking and grooming her horse and was able to stay and watch me while Foxfire went back to finish with Shadow. I told him NOT to bring Shadow back to the paddock by the arena for a while to make sure that Ziggy learned to behave when his buddy was out of sight.

The rest of the ride went pretty well. Ziggy did try to call to Shadow several more times, but each time, I would tighten the reins and make him pay attention to me before he could do anything other than whinny. I rode him for a lot longer than I really wanted to, my tailbone was fine, but my knees were really beginning to hurt. Eventually, I decided that he'd learned his lesson and dismounted.

All in all, it was a bit more of a ride than I planned on. However, I managed to stay in the saddle and wasn't hurt, so it was a good experience. I also learned an important lesson. I should never ride when no one is watching. No one was watching me when Shadowfax threw me, and no one was watching when Ziggy decided to act out. From now on, I will make sure that someone is always watching me when I'm in on a horse. Maybe then, my rides will be a little less exciting.

Despite the unexpected excitement, it was good to be back in the saddle.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Poem I Was Inspired to Share...

I follow the blogs of a number of authors that I admire. It's a great way to find out about their work in progress, and many of them simply share fascinating information and stories on their blogs. Earlier today, I was reading Terri Windings blog, "Myth & Moor", where she was sharing pictures she took along with quotes from some of her favorite authors. Another reader of her blog was inspired to write a poem and share it in the comments section. I felt a very visceral response to it(that's a good thing). So I am posting a picture that I took and, with the author's permission, sharing his poem.

Windswept (photo by Zhi Zhu)

Dreaming Awake
Austin Hackney

I am dreaming awake.
Both awake
and dreaming.

Between fantasy and reality there is
a boundary.
In the boundary there is
a gate.

I can open the gate
with my thoughts

or with my heart
with my pen
my brush
my voice
or my mandolin;

or by meeting your eye
or by touching you
or by walking away
or by lying alone in the dark
on the moss
under the moon;

by speaking sometimes,
sometimes by listening;

or by as many other
simple magics as
there are moments
and stars.

Either way,
a boundary once traversed
is no longer a boundary.

The gate swings both ways
in the endless wind.

There is no lock.

So awake.
And dream.

Austin Hackney has his own blog, "Omniscript: A Writer's Workshop", which you might want to check out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

And This is Why I Hate Going to Doctors

A few weeks ago I had some scary days when my brain seemed to stop working as well as it usually does. I couldn't remember simple things like my phone number, and I just couldn't seem to think clearly or quickly. During the worst of it, I was too confused to even think about going to a doctor. Once I started feeling better, I went to my GP to get a referral to a neurologist. I didn't actually get to see my doctor, but the nurse practitioner I saw seemed competent and compassionate. She gave me a "prescription" to get an MRI done as well as a referral to a neurologist.

Due to weirdness with my insurance company, I ended up going to the ER to get the MRI done instead of a medical imaging center. The MRI was normal, thank goodness, but it left me wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

It took a while to get an appointment with the neurologist, and when I finally did, he didn't seem to take me seriously. I very much got the feeling that he thought that I was some sort of pretentious hypochondriac. He made fun of me for using a "big" word like "diurnal" when describing my sleep disorder. I asked my friends and none of them thought that "diurnal" was an unusual word to use. And considering that Foxfire generally has to force me to make a doctor appointment, and I get stressed even thinking about going to hospitals, I really don't think I'm a hypochondriac. Anyway, he at least gave me a prescription to get an EEG. He said that if the EEG was normal that he would just tell me over the phone so that I didn't have to come back to the office (and waste his time).

Knowing how much hospitals stress me out, Foxfire kindly took off work to drive me to get the EEG on Friday. And it was a good thing he did. As one part of the EEG test, they flash this EXTREMELY bright light at your face in varying frequencies, and even though my eyes were closed, it still felt like someone was stabbing my brain through my eyes every time the light flashed. They would run the strobe light for about 30 seconds then wait 15 seconds and run it for another 30.

A typical EEG pattern

After the fifth or sixth time they did this, everything just went sort of blue and purple swirly and the light didn't hurt my head as much. Instead of feeling like someone was stabbing my brain through my eyes, it felt like someone was reaching inside my brain and sort of squishing their fingers into it. At the end of the session, which lasted about an hour total, I was exhausted, in severe pain and not thinking clearly. Thank goodness, Foxfire was there to drive me home.

The strobe light seemed to have also triggered the most persistent and severe migraines that I have had in a very, very long time. In the week following the EEG, I took more migraine medicine that I had taken in the previous year. On the Thursday after the EEG, I had the worst headache of all. It literally knocked me off my feet. Foxfire had to help me from the couch to the bed because the pain was so bad it was hard for me to walk.

On the Tuesday following the EEG, when I called the neurologist's office to get the results, they wouldn't tell me the results over the phone, saying that the doctor wanted me to come in and get the results, leading me to believe that something odd had shown up on the EEG. Of course, they couldn't get me in to see the doctor that week. I had to wait till the next week for an appointment. Needless to say I was extremely stressed that week.

Well, I finally went to the office and got the results yesterday, and guess what? The doctor said that the EEG was perfectly normal. When I asked why he simply hadn't had the nurse tell me that over the phone so that I didn't end up worrying for a week, he said that he'd simply forgotten that he'd said he would do that. He didn't even apologize for the stress he caused me.

When I asked about everything changing color during the strobe light portion of the EEG, he said some people experienced that. When I said that the strobe light hurt like hell and left me basically incapacitated, he insisted that no one had ever complained about the strobe light being any more than mildly annoying. When I told him about the severe migraines during the week following the EEG, he just repeated that no one else had ever complained about the strobe light causing pain or headaches and politely, but relentlessly, ushered me out of his office.

And this is why I hate going to doctors. They either don't listen to you, don't believe you or don't care about you.

I know that there are decent doctors out there. I actually like my GP. I'm willing to drive 45 minutes to go see him rather than someone closer. And my therapist, who isn't a medical doctor, but who serves a similar purpose, is absolutely wonderful. But the majority of doctors, at least the doctors that I go to, end up being a complete waste of my time and money.

What's the point of going to a doctor if they are absolutely no help whatsoever.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Introducing Shadowfax to Chainmaille and Armour

A couple of days ago, as part of training our Andalusian gelding, Shadowfax, for jousting, my husband and I introduced Shadowfax to chainmaille and leg armour. I say introduced rather than desensitized, because, for the most part, Shadowfax barely even noticed the loud clanging stuff.

We started by haltering Shadowfax and bringing him out to the horse trailer where we usually groom and tack him up before riding. A very familiar, relatively relaxed place for him to be, where he was used to us messing with him. I gave him a treat to show him that treats were in the offing, then Foxfire pulled out his chainmaille skirt (brayette) and one of his pieces of leg armour (cuisses). Standing about five feet away from Shadowfax, he started rattling them lightly together.

Shadowfax... looked at me, waiting for another treat. Foxfire gradually worked up to really banging away with the maille and armour. Shadowfax may have twitched an ear in his direction. So Foxfire stopped banging his armour together, laid part of his brayette over his cuisse, put a treat on top of the two pieces of armour and brought them up to where Shadowfax could sniff at them.

Shadowfax obligingly sniffed at the armour until he found the treat, then he snarfled the treat and looked around for more. Foxfire rattled the maille and armor a little, then put another treat on them. This time Shadowfax knew to look for the treat and went straight for it, ignoring the armour.

So Foxfire started shaking the maille and armour a little right next to Shadowfax. Shadowfax ignored it and looked around for more treats. Foxfire started banging the armour together. Shadowfax didn't care. Foxfire, still banging away at the armour, went right up to Shadowfax's right shoulder. Shadowfax didn't care. Foxfire moved towards Shadowfax's right hip, still making as much noise as he could. Shadowfax didn't care. Foxfire went behind Shadowfax. Shadowfax didn't care. Foxfire moved around to Shadowfax's left side. Shadowfax... cared.

He didn't do anything awful, he just turned his head to see what was making all the noise, and took a couple of steps sideways away from the noise. I called Shadowfax's name and told him to "stand", which is a command he is very familiar with. Shadowfax looked at me and "stood". When he was looking at me and standing still, even though Foxfire was still banging away with the armour, I gave him a treat.

After that, it just didn't matter what Foxfire did, Shadowfax was going to ignore whatever noise was going on and was going to keep his eyes open for incoming treats. Foxfire put his cuisses and his brayette on and went bouncing around Shadowfax like a mad man, making as much noise as it was humanly possible to make in a brayette and cuisses. Shadowfax didn't care.

Leaving his brayette and cuisses on, Foxfire proceeded to groom Shadowfax, pick out his feet, saddle and bridle him. Shadowfax didn't seem to notice that anything was different. Foxfire brought out the lunge line and lunged Shadowfax briefly. If anything, Shadowfax behaved slightly better than usual while being lunged. So Foxfire, still in his brayette and cuisses, mounted up.

When he first started riding, Shadowfax did turn his ears back to listen to the new noises coming from his rider. He didn't pin them or appear upset in any way, just curious.

Foxfire on Shadowfax who has his ears turned back to listen to the noise of the brayette and cuisses(photo by Zhi Zhu)

After a few minutes, his ears came forward, and it was business as usual. Shadowfax truly didn't seem to be bothered by the noise at all.

Foxfire on Shadowfax (photo by Zhi Zhu)

Since we had already introduced Shadowfax to the lance, the tiltyard, and the quintain (Shadowfax tried to eat the sandbag)...

Foxfire on Shadowfax in one of his first runs against the quintain(photo by Zhi Zhu)

About the only two things left to expose Shadowfax to, in terms of jousting, are for Foxfire to ride in full armour and to give and take hits from an opponent in the tiltyard. Hopefully, we will be going over to DASH's arena soon, and Foxfire and SH can cross lances with each other and see how Shadowfax reacts to full on jousting.