Sunday, May 19, 2013

in the middle

I'm feeling very middle-aged lately. My left knee is hurting for some unknown (probably arthritic) reason, and when I go for my usual runs, the toes on both feet, but mostly my left foot, go inexplicably numb. If I don't run, then my feet and legs hurt every morning when I get out of bed, stiff, and crackly.

The battle with my metabolism goes on and on, and I fight my genetics, my love for food, and my occasional periods of total physical inertia. Contrary to popular belief, I don't *like* to run, and I enjoy lounging on the couch with a good book or television as much as I enjoy being active. I run, as I've said before, so I can eat. Biggest cheap exercise bang for the buck, so I feel slightly panicked when I can't run, or fall out of the habit for periods of time.

Horse riding IS exercise, but it doesn't work the same as running. And no, I don't just sit there.

My stamina and strength seem to rise and fall, dependent upon factors that were non-issues even ten years ago -- how much sleep have I gotten, how hard did I work yesterday, what did I eat, did I drink too much last night?

The kids are fabulous, but also demanding. My name is called constantly, there is bickering and attitude and fighting a good portion of the time. It's always so LOUD. Homework needs to be done, grades need to be monitored, and chores are ever-present and necessary, but the adults have to follow behind all the time to make sure things get done. Sometimes It's just easier to do it yourself. The house is a wreck. I want to decorate, to put up curtains and have nice furniture and accessories, but I can't seem to make that happen. Toys and kid stuff are still everywhere. I'm in a constant state of being thisclose to antiques and nice things without the fear of destruction.

Life is easier and more difficult: five schedules, five sets of activities, three school situations, several separate nervous systems all wired in individual manners with separate functionality, but also the ability for some independence and autonomy, for real family fun, and for mobility with fewer encumbrances (no stroller, diaper bag, and other assorted paraphernalia).

There's SO much raw creativity and creative energy pouring out of everyone in the house. It's like living in an artist's colony.

We hang together like a circus with multiple acts, taking turns, but also all going simultaneously. This is how we are, how we are wired, and on the grey days, it's all chaos and cacophony, but on the glorious days, oh!, we LIVE so powerfully and with so much joy!

I worry about getting lost, myself, in the thick forest of my own life. About there not being enough life left to do all the things I really want to try. I feel desperate, sometimes, that time is passing and I am not making the most of all the opportunities that are presented to me, every moment of every day -- to be with my kids, to create, to play and experience, to teach. Am I doing enough? Am I letting them do enough? It's not always possible to tell, while things are still unfolding before you.

And some days, it's hard to remember that I am no longer the targeted demographic for things that don't involve cleaning products or furniture or domestic engineering. I am learning to sink into my roles, to live them as I am and not as I am told to live them.

I care so much less what other people think of who I am, or what I look like, what I wear, eat, create, think, and do.

This is the gift of middle age: the ability to finally reach the top of the hill you've been climbing for decades. About the time you think there are no more destinations, no more goals to reach for or options to choose from, you move past the treeline, and you get a clearer view to the possibilities that you didn't even know were still out there. Now, you can see where you're traveling to, or pick a new destination, because they are all laid out like an endless carpet of prospects. Sometimes the fog rolls in, and the view is obscured, but that never lasts, and if you're patient, the scene becomes visible once more.

Sometimes it's really hard to remember that.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I lifted this from Eventing Nation
The "all the things" and the image originally is part of this here by Allie Brosh. Just crediting the funny. ;)

Ok, so it's Mother's Day here in the US. And Travis had already said he didn't really plan anything, and he asked if I wanted to go to brunch at my favorite brunch-place, but I kinda didn't want to eat that much, and I didn't want to take the kids out. They had a tough day yesterday (well, it was a tough parenting day yesterday), and I wasn't up for more shenanigans. So I opted for four pieces of toast with lots of butter, and a great cup of coffee (which I made myself, since I let Travis sleep in). Wren had to go to her lesson in the afternoon anyway, so I didn't want to have to rush home and get barn stuff ready and blah blah blah, you get the idea.

Travis took the kids out in the morning for grocery shopping and left me here, alone. 
In the quiet. 
All by myself. 
It was a glorious hour and a half.

I cut out a new dress pattern (it's been forever since I sewed a garment for myself that was of the current modern time period). Actually, what I cut was the muslin for the bodice fitting I am going to have to do to this dress in order to make it actually, you know, FIT me, but that's beside the point. [insert grumbling about commercial pattern sizing here]

I thought, hey, I will cut this and stitch it together real quick and get started on the fitting, so that maybe by the end of the week, I can have a new dress. And then I realized I would have to move all five of the bicycles that were currently in front of my sewing machines in order to do any stitching. I would put the bikes in the shed, and shift some stuff from the shed to the garage, or someplace. And by the time I shifted the bikes to the shed, everyone would be back home from the store, and I would not be able to do what I had planned. And I gave up and put my stuff away. Bummer.

Yes. My sewing machines are in there someplace. Behind the bikes.

But they came home with a bouquet of roses!

And then we went out to the barn for Wren's lesson. I thought about riding Champ after the lesson, but I opted not to, mostly because I was being grumpy about not being able to sew. 

Wren rode Gabby. Champ was kind of annoying to the little girl who was riding him. I decided to hop on him after the lessons, and while I was completely NOT dressed for the occasion (shorts, sneakers, no sports bra), I found my half chaps and off I went. The ring was a no-go, he was not having any of that, so I took him out back of the barn to the mares' pasture (empty, because everyone was in the barn). I was just going to ride him around the pasture and go back in, but the sun was shining, the breeze was fantastic, and the field was FULL to brimming with bright and happy yellow buttercups. I couldn't resist some trotting, and then I saw the cross-country fences and I thought....hmmm....I wonder if I could just hop him over those teeny Intro level logs. 

Of course I can! Kathy says so. I put my legs on him, and away we went.

Not a moment's hesitation on his part AT ALL. Canter down the little hill, turn left, hop in, hop out, canter up the hill.

Huh. What do you know? Let's do that again!

Trot over, canter downhill, turn left, hop, hop canter....woo! AGAIN!! And let's add the woodpile in the trees at the top of the hill while we're at it!

SO instead we had....canter over, canter downhill (sit back, sit up), turn left (left rein up, relax), hophop, BLAST up the hill to the woodpile and (leglegleg, let the reins slide a little)...JUMP! Canter away!


One more time! Yay! (the last one he kind of jumped me out of the tack a bit, because he took that woodpile with the biggest, roundest jump I have ever felt him do).

Travis saw me jump, but didn't get it on video. Darn.

I did this IN MY SNEAKERS! And shorts! I looked like hell, with my fish-belly-white legs, and beat up old half chaps, but it was SO. MUCH. FUN.

I had to stop so we could get home so Travis could go pick up Kira, and because the saddle fittings were pinching my bare legs, otherwise I'd have jumped more things! I was eyeing the jump made of tires, and the one made of wire spools.....and the little ditch, and the blue barrels.....

Next time. Maybe Tuesday. :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Recent adventures

Good Lord, there's so much to cover!

I needed to take a break from writing, as I do once in a while, to let things simmer a bit. Sometimes I don't feel like writing about everything, and sometimes, I just can't put into words what I really want to say. Rather than flounder, I wait.

Last month, I went 'home' to my alma mater -- SUNY-Geneseo -- for a dance department alumni reunion. It was terrific to see my professors and some friends, and wander around the campus and town I love so much. I really wish the weather had been better -- it was in the 70's the first day, and dropped to 40's within a 20 minute period. And then it snowed. yeah. As much as I love upstate NY, I don't think I could hack the winters anymore.
Sturges Hall, home of the Speech Pathology Department, and where I spent a lot of time.

 The view down to the College Union, from the gazebo that overlooks the Genesee Valley. The sunsets are incredible from this vantage point. You have no idea. I also spent a lot of time in this spot.

This is the hallway for the Speech Path Department. Clinics, offices, resource room, computer lab, lecture hall. LOTS of time here. Unfortunately, the college president has eliminated this program, so there will be no more degrees granted in Speech Pathology here any longer. A shame, really, since this was one of the highest rated undergrad programs in NY state.
And Emmeline, the Geneseo Bronze Bear. An icon, really. Legend says if a virgin ever graduates from Geneseo, the bear will jump down and run away. There she sits. ;)

My mom and I traveled together, a trip we have made in the past, and it was fun, and hilarious, and just a great experience. I know my mom and I didn't always get along when I was growing up, so it's especially nice to be able to do things like this with her now. Plus, we stayed at her best-friend-from-high-school's house. Sue is a total riot, and we managed to consume WAY more wine than I thought three women could do over the course of three nights. I loved hearing them tell stories about Catholic high school, and growing up in the 60's. Totally cool. Mom and I also did a little touristy sightseeing. We made a pilgrimage to the Rochester Public Library branch downtown. It was a place my mom used to take me when I was a kid, and it's still there, although now the library building is a new building across the street from the old building, which is now the Rochester City Archives. I think that excursion deserves a post of its own sometime soon.
The beautiful front of the old library building. I loved this place. Still do. It embodies everything I think a library should be, and should look like.

I got to see my best friend from college, too, which is always fantastic. We still manage to pick up right where we left off, no matter how long it's been since we've seen each other. And being on the campus, well, it's like we could be twenty again, just like that. I really do miss college. Of course, now I see it with the wisdom gained of twenty years, and so if I were to go back, I know exactly how I would do things. I'd do quite a bit the same, but I would change many, many things.
The end of Main Street in Geneseo, where it goes down toward the campus as Court Street. 

30 North Street, where I lived when I was a sophomore.

I celebrated my 43rd birthday when I got home from New York. My wonderful husband arranged for a cannoli cake from Fresh Market, which was incredible. And I got a new camera! A Fuji Finepix S, which I am loving.

Let's see....there was also some riding (badly), and we planted our vegetable garden, and then Wren had her first off-the-farm fancy horse show! She did great, and although it was a LONG day, we had a good time.
But first, there was a LOT of prep work. Wild Wings Gabby is almost completely white and she needed to be spiffy for the show. So there was a bath, and lots of scrubbing on Saturday night.

Noah was the assistant photographer for the day. He did a great job with my old camera.

Getting Gabby ready.

And Wren gets dressed, too. So fabulous!

Walking to the show ring

Kathy and Wren in the show ring!

Noah took this picture.

Hooray! A blue ribbon and a prize!

All the girls at our barn who rode in the show did well, and we brought home a number of ribbons. We were all so SO exhausted by the end of the day, though, and it took me at least til Tuesday to recover.

And that brings me to today. I had a lesson on Champ. It was a gorgeous day, and I had high hopes for a better ride than last time. I rode with the lightest hands possible, and kept my hands together with the reins on his neck. It helped. The steering wasn't working all that well, but when we got to the canter, my trainer told me to canter and let go of the reins. I told her no. I really thought I couldn't do it. I thought there was no way, NONE, that I would stay in the saddle. And I felt like a total loser for not even trying. So I cantered around the ring, and down each long side, I let go. Dropped my reins right on him, and held my arms out to the sides. I was flying! It was the best, the most wonderful smooth canter there ever was. I think maybe I could have ridden that forever. I wish I had.

I was flying.