Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The art of pony-riding

OMG… my sister posted this video on Facebook and it brought back flashbacks of a wonderful time. I laughed so hard thinking about the times when we-little-me enjoyed many of the same antics as the boy in this video. Learning to ride on a Shetland is a real life-lesson. But I guarantee that the little boy in this video is one hell of a horseman today. Ponies are the most singularly stubborn, devious and rotten creatures in the world! They will try to scrape you off on fences, they will do what you see Ed doing in this video, the quick-stop-head-drop, which throws the rider onto the neck and hopefully (if they’re not sticky) onto the ground… They will stop and roll you off, they will buck and kick you off, and they will run forward and then in a flash, veer off, leaving you still going forward. Ponies are evil. Penny (the one pictured in this post) was so round, that her little saddle would slide forward onto her shoulders and neck, and before we went out and got a crupper to secure it to her tail to prevent the sliding, she would constantly do the quick-stop-head-drop so I’d go sliding onto her neck and pitching forward with comic slowness into the dirt. Her favourite tactic to get me off was to veer into the center of the ring at a canter, stop short, and then try to roll me off. I had to learn to predict this behaviour and keep her on her feet.

Penny and her progeny, Eva.  Yes, we bred the bratty evil.  But luckily,
she was sold to another young victim by then.
Penny and Pinto, Viking and Ugly were all wonderful teachers. I fell so much, that falling doesn’t scare me (even when I’m now old and fat). They taught me to feel that particular tightening of the spine that occurs before your mount is about to do something rotten, and they taught me to not be a big baby about cuts, bruises and even the occasional bone fracture. Riding kids are tough little things… Riding mommies don’t go running fretfully into the riding ring when little Sally falls. Riding mommies purse their lips and say: “Go on, get back on… don’t let him get away with that!”

I rode my ponies everywhere. When we had them at home, I would ride them to see some friends whose family owned lots of land nearby, and we’d all hop on our ponies bareback and wander the countryside and invent adventures. I would play ‘Hobbits' at home when I was alone, and ride around our expansive back yard with its tunnels of rhododendrons and dark, sunken paths, and imagine I was on Middle-Earth, riding a pony on an adventure, I would ride my pony to the store to get a Kinder-Surprise chocolate egg and a cold Gini. I would ride my ponies to the traveling carnivals and all over town. Whenever things got rough at home, I would ride my pony away.

I started instructing ponyclub when I was about fourteen. It was really fun. Ponies are so much fun! I wish I could have one again.. I wish I could teach ponyclub again! I loved the little competitions with all these kids dressed in jods and blazers with their ponies all shiny and braided. The last pony I ever owned but was too big to ride was a pony named Lady. She was a Shetland/Welsh mix, and she was pitch black and beautiful. She was the first pony I trained to cart, and she was a perfect carting pony; unflappable and calm. I would drive that little carriage with her just about everywhere. I was training a young girl to ride shortly before we moved back to the US, and I trained her on my full-sized horse until she became comfortable, and then started letting her ride Lady. I let her ride Lady in a competition, in which she did fairly well in as a novice, and it was then that the parents and the little girl fell in love with Lady; and asked me to allow them to buy her. It took a lot to let her go.

Lady and I, giving rides to people at the Brussels American School gym track during the
1988 or 1989 July 4th celebration.

I have decided that if I am fortunate enough to get pregnant… that this will be the excuse to get a little squat, ornery Shetland again. I look forward to tiny saddles, and tiny bits, cruppers and itty bitty jodhpurs and paddock boots. I think it’s a wonderful thing for a child to do… and it’s full of great lessons. And you can’t put a value on the memories of growing up around these amazing creatures. Yeah, it can be dangerous. So is crossing the street, and you can’t get moments like that video above doing that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Weekends and work from HELL.

My mother behaved (as far as behaving works for a creature like her). She was manageable. Stephanie II and I were at a few points during the day, driven slightly batty by my mother's unsolicited advice and opinions as we tried to complete a sewing project. Steph II tried to persuade her to start an embroidery project or to do *something* rather than stand about rattling away non-stop... but her attempts failed, and mother drove us crazy instead. We did get one brief respite when she decided to take gross-dog outside for a little walk, and she stayed out there to pester both my husband and my soon-to-be-divorced brother-in-law who had come up to spend time with us. He spent an inordinate amount of time with Steph II (squee!)... AAaaaaaanyway... the weekend was hectic, but nice.

My somewhat weird weekend ended Monday with a Hazardous Waste Inspection at one of our smaller facilities from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. My coworker, who usually wrangles these inspectors was gone on vacation, and the task fell onto me. I cannot describe the anxiety of doing something wrong... but oddly, the facility they chose passed the inspection with no violations, and a positive note. My boss was complimentary of my efforts and so were the inspectors. It felt nice, but after almost six hours of straight adrenaline pumping through me, I felt like I'd been run over by a bus and went home to recharge. I don't like that kind of stress... at some point, I am going to vow never to endure stress like that again unless it is for ME, for my own company. Argh... I ate four pepcids on Monday. FOUR. Ugh.

Yesterday night, after work, Stephie II was up in the neighborhood again, and stopped by for a spell, and we walked out to the Sandy River to enjoy the golden hour. I lay down on a huge rock and hubby walked our dogs, we dipped our toes in the crisp glacial water, while watching in awe as Steph II waded across the still arm of the river to take picture of the rougher waters of the main river.

Well... I'm off to see my much-neglected horse. Work, blistering heat, and family have kept me from spending time with him. My big stompy horse may outweigh every other gelding in the barn, but apparently he's the lowest on the totem pole. My big marshmallow allows himself to be beaten to a pulp by other, smaller horses. This weekend we went and he had huge bites on him, one that was bleeding, and his newly trimmed feeties were cracked and frayed from running and fighting. What to do? I can't teach him horse-ninja moves... ::sigh::

My guardianship is going to go through soon for my brother, and I have an appointment tomorrow with Social Security because of him. Now we're working to get mom's house sold, get her moved into assisted care so I can have my life back, and to get John permanently placed in his foster home and into some daytime activities and programs. Maybe at some point, things will normalize a bit. I'm already feeling that is is... I'm not quite so freaked out as I have been these last months. Hubby has found a new job (although it pays almost 20% less than his job with Vestas and our finances are scary), and things at work are slowly getting in order. Anyway, no more Debbie Downer talk today.

The Office Special I made during lunch. It's called "A stroll with Grandfather". I never had a grandfather... but when I do imagine having one, I think of him in a banyan and slippers. ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010

YAY! Happy Friday ... n stuff.

A very sober Miss Grey.
I’ve been a moody thing lately. Yeah, even a bit crazy. Mostly because the Clomid fertility pills have my hormones in uproar and I’m an emotional freak. The other day, I was watching Pit Boss, and I started bawling like a baby when they described a dog being deliberately burned to make the dog mean. I cried for half-an-hour, bemoaning the world that could allow such horrible, heartless people to exist. Shorty, you’re killin’ me!

Apparently this is pee-in-your-pants-laughing worthy image.  In MY crazy world.
Yesterday, I saw the above picture and I started laughing. I mean that kind of out-of-control laughing where tears come out of your eyes and your laughter is nothing but empty wheezes. Moreso, I was BY MYSELF. I was at my desk, in my office, converting numbers to range codes, looking at this picture, laughing my ass off for twenty minutes. I would slow down and stop laughing, and then explode into laughter again, wiping the tears on my sleeve. It was completely and utterly bizarre. It is a funny picture, but the laughter was seriously disproportionate to the humour. I dunno… {1} I’m a weirdo sometimes. Okay, more than just sometimes…

I’ve had a mother-laden week. And it’s not over. Tuesday I took her to see my brother, which was oddly a touching moment. Her bluster and boasting and outright lies aside (“Oh, John NEVER watched TV… NEVER! ::::::::::nonplused stare::::::: ), my brother was pleased to see her. He gave her a couple of kisses and hugs. He was not upset at all, nor did he react to her leaving him there, so he is pretty well adjusted. He looks so good, it warms my heart. His foster home is so loving and kind… and they take such wonderful care of him. My mother was really quite pleasant that day… hardly any negativity, nice conversation, I was surprised.

She made up for the pleasantness on Thursday when I took her to the dentist. Dr. Biermann is the best dentist I’ve ever had. Ever. I adore him, I adore his office staff, and I love going there. Yes, I love going to the dentist. (Refer to {1}). My mother got very angry when Dr. B asked me (the transporter) to set up a follow-up appointment for a dental cleaning for my mother in order to prevent more extractions (he yanked a molar out of her evil head yesterday). My mother, not being included in the conversation, got piping mad and threw a tantrum, started shouting and dropped the ‘F’-bomb; calling my beloved dentist rude. I had to reprimand her like a child. I did it in French so it was less obvious, but I had to shout “ça suffit, maman!” How embarrassing is that?

After dropping of her Rx for Vicodin, I swung by the stable to pay Tag’s rent, and we went to say hi to the big doofus; we then picked up the Rx, stopped at Panda Express (yuck) because she was hungry for rice, and then I drove her all the way home. I got home at 9:30 PM. Hubby was already in bed. ::grr::

Saturday we are hosting a little BBQ for mother-in-law’s birthday. Sunday, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve decided to bring Satan up to the house for the day. I also invited S-II so I felt compelled to warn her that it’s likely she’ll be offended by her at least once during the day; and that she should not withhold her sass or her opinions for Satan’s sake. Oddly, the ruder you are, the more she respects you. So I am crossing my fingers that I don’t have any undue drama because of Madame LeDiable. Luckily S-II is like family, so she probably will forgive me if my evil mother shocks her. Probably.

Maybe my Clomid-induced-lunacy will kick in and I’ll have an emotional break or something, and make everyone really uncomfortable. We can only hope.

Anyway… happy Friday. Yay?

The office-special above is supposed to be a grey wolf.  I drew it with a really old thick-leaded clicky pencil, and then inked it with a Pilot G-2 pen.  I took my pencils home a while ago, so I have no colours except the paint program, but that sucks so I left her in B/W.  Anyway... have a nice weekend. ;)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Desert

The torrent pummels the fissured earth
Which in turn, soaks it all away.
Electricity jags across the sky
Turning darkness into day.

This desert boasts no living things
It is a ravenous, famished beast
That swallows everything that ventures near
For an eternal and horrible feast.

The rain offers no respite here,
It helps no leaves to unfurl.
It creates no mighty rivers,
To abate the dusty swirl.

No wings dare ride its empty skies
No thirsty creatures track the soil.
The rain trickles through the desolation,
To where the cavern rivers roil.

The eternal raging river beneath,
Flows into a world unknown
Ending like a mirror in the blackness,
Reflecting nothing to no one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Taking Inventory

Found my knives, lost a few things. :0(

My mother is going into assisted living. It's the best possible thing.  There's a kind of strange irony that she will be going into the same facility we were going to place my father.  She will be in the same facility as my husband's grandmother.  Placing his grandmother there over the July 4th weekend has taken a huge weight off of his shoulders; and reduced the 20 calls a day to a couple of times a week.  She's occupied, she's supervised, she's still independent, and she's got more freedom.  I'm hoping that this will encourage my mother to do better as well.  She's actually stoked to go too.  She saw the little notices for special activities, like a cruise on the Portland Spirit, and a day visit to Timberline Lodge... she saw the adorable apartment, she saw the dining room and chitty chatted with a couple of residents.  She can bring her gross dog, and I can be assured that medicine will be taken, appointments will be attended and that I can pick the time and level of attention I am able to offer her without festering rage as usually happens. Tomorrow, I take her to visit my brother for the first time since June.  She only asked because my aunt asked her about it; otherwise she didn't care.

Anyway... that's the news of the mother front. You wouldn't believe the cost of these independent living communities; holy cannoli. But they do everything, so the price to all of us is reasonable. If they do her laundry, and even help her clean her house, so we don't ever have to worry about squalor repeating itself.

Well, on less depressing notes (LOL), I'm on cycle 2 of my Clomid treatments... cross your fingers, send positives vibes, prayers, good wishes... anything you can muster to send our way for baby-makin' mojo!

I sat down on Saturday, and opened up my teeny tea-box/minis storage, and started inventorying the teeny things in there. I'm missing a few stoneware pieces... a jug that you can see in the kitchen images on the previous post, and a few other unmentionables.  But I did find my precious knife-set. Hand-made, with real metal blades and wooden handles, intricately put together; six pieces.... unbelievable.  My stoneware is largely complete save for a few missing pieces, my silverware is there, my custom-made dining set for four that includes chargers, plate, salad plates, dessert plates, bowls, service dishes and a soup tureen. My ceramics from Alsace are there... the teeny handmade baskets.  There were lots of fimo veggies I made and other sundries; but the better part of my collection is there. ::phew:: you wouldn't believe how much money is in that little collection.  It's not a cheap hobby.  There are no cheap hobbies, I guess.  Now I'm thinking of doing another house.  I'm crazy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Goodbye Beacon Hill

The Beacon Hill
Fare thee well, Beacon Hill.

My first custom kitchen, painstakingly cut from sheets of basswood, all working drawers and cabinets; my tiny spice-drawers… Farewell. Packed away are the miniature stoneware pots and urns and plates, my artisan baskets full of vegetables, my carefully hewn foods.

Farewell 22 Acacia Drive; the working windows and hand-cut copper flashing. Adieu my terracotta bricks and heavy mortar walls, white corbels and meticulously draped window treatments…

The Beacon Hill, along with sausages and a ham-hock, some resin furniture pieces, and my hours and hours of labour and love was carried off by a mustachioed gentleman and my husband. They slid the house into a car. The gentleman’s wife spent most of the morning Saturday at the sale hovering back and forth around the dollhouse, giving her husband pleading looks. She got her way, and with gushing praise for my work and taste, she gleefully followed as it was toted away, promising to take good care of it, and finish it up and fix the dollhouse with love. I was happy. Happy it went to a collector, happy it went to someone who really loved it… and happy it was gone to someone who would pay attention to it.

It was in rough shape. It had seen much dust and moisture, and the inevitable beating of being moved cross-country and from home to home. It had seen much neglect, and the wallpaper was delaminating and the white paint was discolouring. It was time for the Beacon Hill to go. ::sigh::

This house came from a kit from Greenleaf Dollhouses. It is one of their flagship houses; one of the most beautiful. Greenleaf houses have extraordinary exteriors, wonderful detail but their interiors are challenging and sometimes rooms are very small. I struggled with the kitchen, and then decided to do the cabinetry. I will probably do the same in my future houses, because I am a Greenleaf girl.

The Beacon Hill has a successor waiting (two actually). I have a number of projects in the wings that have been waiting for a while. I have the kit for the gorgeous Willowcrest house:


I also have a kit for the first Greenleaf house I ever built; the Glencroft:

Built it once, want to do it again.

. I’m holding onto it, because I want to possibly buy another kit and ‘bash’ them to make a bigger house. I want to make this house the cottage in which the Misses Dashwoods come to reside in (Barton Cottage) from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. It’s my own version of Barton Cottage, it’s not taken from any film adaptation. But that is my plan for that house. I also have a slightly battered McKinley Dollhouse,

which is a wall-hanging townhouse, which is very cool, and I have a four storied tower of room-boxes I have a story idea for. I’m not sure if or when I’ll start the new projects; I need space and time for dollhouse making. We shall see. I took out all my treasures from the Beacon Hill, all of my stunning stoneware, my gorgeous artisan baskets, my incredible iron-worked boot scraper… and even a couple of teeny birds. I also found my special knife set. I’ve ferreted everything away, carefully putting my Bespaq pieces into the box for a new residence.

I wonder what’s next? Who knows.

I do know that I was drooling looking at the Greenleaf site today... the Beaumont is back.. check out this beautiful Antebellum house:

The Beaumont was discontinued for a long while. Now it's back and it's laser-cut no less. ::DROOL::

And look at this one, it's a Corona House...

It's front-closing, so it has that older style feel to it. I like the Georgian appearance.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy MURDERCAT Friday & Sugar Pearls

The offending feline.

Cats are an invasive species. They really are. They are the rock-snot of the animal kingdom; the kudzu…The zebra mussel… the Scotch Broom and the Himalayan blackberry… They are a bane to indigenous life.

Yes, cats are cute. Yes, cats are agile and entertaining. Yes, they are the subject of many a humourous lolcat graphic. But CATS ARE BAD!

But there is only one area in the world where cats were ever meant to be, and that is where they came from; Africa. Otherwise, cats lurking about in the wild and outside unchecked is not right. Mainly because cats are indiscriminate KILLERS. You can feed them until they look like comical pillows and they’ll still go out and kill Chippy the Chipmunk and eviscerate Peter rabbit’s baby. When someone admonishes my complaints about cat-murder by saying that “it’s natural… it’s the cycle of life…” IT IS NOT! It’s 100% not natural for a cat to be out there murdering things. And that’s what it’s doing.

It was estimated our gentle, furry friends, kill a shocking 4 ½ tons of these little creatures per annum!! 4 ½ TONS! HELLO! That is A LOT of critters! That's four and a half Volkswagen Beetles worth of little furry and feathered creatures, of which most of them are not eaten, merely toyed with and violently killed.

OC—the cat that adopted us, is the most proficient feline murderer I’ve ever known. This cat’s skill for exacting a horrible, painful death on innocent forest creatures is uncanny. If he were human, he’d be employed by a covert government agency as their crack-assassin, hired to take out the likes of Osama Bin Laden, Kim Jong-Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with his fatally precise and keen killing skillz. He would root them out, find them, toy with them for a while, and then all of a sudden... Shing Shing... a horrible, horrible death.

OC brings us (no kidding) a new bird or chipmunk at least every other day. I DREAD mornings and coming home in the evenings, and finding the bottom half of some poor unfortunate finch, or a little chipmunk with its guts hanging out lying on our landry room/mudroom floor.  A few weeks ago, I went out into the laundry-room barefoot and then went about shuffing around the kitchen when I happened to glance down to see an entire bird-wing stuck to my foot.  I was horrified... I was unknowingly impersonating Mercury with the disembodied appendage of some poor little hapless bird! Trust me, nobody likes to walk around with body parts glued to them as they go about their day.

Don’t get me wrong, I like OC, but I also hate him for this killing. We don’t *want* and indoor cat… I don’t like the idea of scooping trays of poop or watching the cat stomp with his poopy feet all over my countertops. Nor do I relish the heartbreak of hairballs. So he is an outdoor cat. An outdoor serial-killer cat.

One of our solutions was to put a collar with a bell on him. However, this was a catastrophic failure. The bell seems only to have honed his killing skills even further and increased his kill-rate.

I just read that we should be feeding him more fresh meats and foods—that cats do not ‘recognize’ processed food. Cats snack over 30 times a day. So I’m going to try that and talk to hubby about changing his diet. This had better work or OC is going to find himself surreptitiously dropped off at my horse barn where he can make do with the massive rats I see aloofly waddling around the place—there, his incredible skill for death can be put to good use (if he isn’t squished by a horse).

On the non-murderous front… I made my own sugar pearls for my Belgian Waffles! Yes, I’ve been on a waffle-kick. I made some for my boss’s birthday and he loved them. My coworker requested I make some to bring to her tomorrow for a special breakfast she’s hosting. The request was so short-notice I didn’t have time to order more expensive sugar pearls from Amazon, so I found a way to make them myself; and it wasn’t too difficult at all.

I took 300 grams (about 10 ½ ounces) of sugar, threw it into a pan with two tablespoons of water, and turned the stove to high. The trick is to stir, stir, stir. The sugar will begin to crystallize on the bottom, and you keep stirring the grains until the pick up the melted crystals and start creating little ‘snerds’. Never stop stirring! It takes about five-ten minutes to do a batch. They are largely finer that the commercial pearls, and they are a bit darker, but they work perfectly well. So I am no longer constrained to buying the pearls from anyone! Woo hoo! Belgian Waffles for all!

UPDATE: We tested the waffles this morning (we forced ourselves to try two waffles, it was a sacrifice ::snort::—the office still smells HEAVENLY)… and they were delicious! Happy Friday all.

Keep those infernal murder cats indoors or feed them raw chicken! Damned cats.

A bit star-struck still....

Yesterday, I decided to hit my favourite fabric store; Mill End Store.  This store is not a large chain, there are two stores, one in Beaverton and one about about two miles from my office; which makes it DANGEROUS.  I go there on my lunch sometimes if I need something.  I wanted to get some duck and other cottons for my transitional stays project, which I plan to attack this weekend, so I zipped out, and stopped there during my lunch hour. They have a really great selection of stuff. It attracts lots of area designers.  When Leanne Marshal of Project Runway won the show, I actually saw her there shopping in notions shortly after the show ended; she then moved to New York afterwards.  Well yesterday, I was bee-lining towards silk taffetta and guess who I saw there?

Seth Aaron Henderson Season 7 Project Runway WINNER! OMFG SQUEE!
He is SO adorable!  And he was having some seriously beautiful fabric measured out.  He is really nice, and was happy to answer my random questions and allow me to snap this picture of him. I'm such a dork.  Project Runway is among my guilty pleasures. I secretly want to steal Tim Gunn and fuss over him and bake him treats.  What I love about the show is that it is one of the few reality shows that requires ACTUAL TALENT to win.  I love it.  I told Seth Aaron I was so pleased that Portland area designers are kicking ass on the show, and that I was happy to see another Portlander on this new season. He told me he was included in the casting process and helped select her for the show. :)

Anyway... /gushing... Back to reality! LOL.

How did my purging go, you wonder? Well, honestly, it looks like we didn't make a dent.  But there is a significant pile in the second bedroom that shows that we did.  I got rid of A LOT of stuff; linens, chochkes, I'm also putting my Beacon Hill dollhouse up for sale (but I won't Goodwill it if someone doesn't take it), and a whole slough of other things. I'm so excited for the sale.  We will be at Mount Hood Village Resort on Saturday starting at 8AM.  There will be other sellers there, and our fire department is having a sale too up the road so maybe if you're an Oregonian, and you're up for a bit of a drive, you could make a day of it. ;)

Here is a horrid drawing I did while on a long phonecall yesterday. It's bad, and the colouring is way worse. But I haven't had a lot of time to play with details; especially since I spent so much of my lunch-hour browsing fabric and ogling Project Runway winners.

Owl and Pussycat in a pea-green boat.

Anyway... Have a lovely Thursday. I am going home to make waffles for my coworker. :)


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