Blog .:. October 2009 9 Entries

Reporting In

31 October 2009 Comments

So there we were, face to face in an epic battle, staring each other down and waiting for the other to flinch.

It was me, armed with a tape measure, verses the scale, armed with, well, a spring probably. I haven’t taken it apart to see how it works.

Why the tape measure, you ask? Because I believe in waving lower technologies at inanimate objects, like the threat of regressing will make them behave. TV not working? Pull out a pack of cards. Computer down? Get a pencil and paper. Scale thinking about lying? Wave a tape measure at it.

The scale flinched. We will pretend it was in surrender and not in anticipation of being stepped on. And it said… nothing useful. If I shift my heels around, I can gain or loose weight like magic. For a whole $10, you’d think I’d get something that would pretend to be accurate. I realize these things can be off by 10-20 pounds, but this thing is tossing paint balls at a wall calendar and squinting to see which number got the most paint on it.

The tape measure was kinder, but I still don’t know that I’m measuring the same thing. I’ll take the flattering and ignore the numbers.

The skinny jeans? I wore them to work today. Not intentionally—I actually thought I was grabbing my normal jeans because I just don’t feel like the skinny jeans should fit. But they worked. This makes me very happy. The next goal is down another size by Thanksgiving, for which I’ll have to really step things up.

And if I make it, I am going to enjoy my Thanksgiving dessert guilt free, thank you very much. I’ll enjoy it even if I don’t make my goal, but I’ll probably feel guilty about it.

Tagged: Holidays, Living & Eating Better

My cat is a stoner

29 October 2009 Comments

Imagine opening your door to be greeted by a yowling cat because you have been gone for DAYS and I am STARVING and no one has FED me and my water is STALE and OMG someone used the litter box and it’s DIRTY and I’m STARVING PET ME!.

I get this every time I come in. I get this if I have been gone for five minutes or five days. I get this whether the food bowl is empty or full, whether the water is fresh or due for a change, whether the littler box has been cleaned in the past five minutes or not. If I have actually been gone all day, I get the yowling complete with flailing temper-tantrums on the floor (really… she throws herself on the floor, gets up, and does it again. Yowling the entire time. She must be part Siamese and part two-year-old child).

Today I had to go to Austin, so when I opened the door I was braced for more-accusatory-than-usual yowling.

What I got was dead silence.

I turned on the light, and saw Onyx lying flat out on the floor, blinking owlishly in the sudden brightness.

“Mraw?” she said.

Then I saw what she had done.

I have one of those cardboard scratcher things for the cats, so that after they tear up my chair, they can finish off their nail sharpening on something softer and finer. These things come with bags of catnip. Apparently, I left the bag of catnip on the table last night after tossing some more on the cardboard in a vain effort to convince the cats that cardboard really is better than my chair when it comes to shreddable objects.

You can guess what happened while I was gone. I found the catnip when I picked Onyx up and moved her to a different spot on the floor. This also caused her to go “Mraw?” which I think means “Pass the dutchie on the left hand side.”

Then Pookie came out to remind me that I had been gone all day, she was starving, the water was stale, and the litter box was dirty. Pookie doesn’t do this by yelling and body slamming herself on the floor. She glares. When Pookie glares, I get visions of panthers at night. Very hungry panthers.

Pookie got fed. Onyx is curled back up on the catnip, apparently having decided that she doesn’t want to pass the dutchie anywhere, thank you very much, in case it disappears and she can’t find it again.

So here’s the million dollar question: do I clean the catnip up, or do I become her dealer? Because the silence… oh, the silence is beautiful.

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Onyx, Cats - Pookie

A little sense behind the camera, please

28 October 2009 Comments

Cameras are interesting things. Or, rather, people’s inability to use them properly is interesting.

I refuse to take pictures of people, because they get offended when they come out looking like blotchy-skinned, glowing-eyed zombies. You could put a child model in a field of wild flowers on a perfectly-lit day, hand me a camera, and she’d look like someone had molded her out of lumpy cookie dough when I clicked the shutter.

So I don’t take pictures of people. Notoriously. I drove cross-country once. Three weeks. Thousands of pictures. You could—I am not exaggerating—count the number of pictures with people in them on one hand.

The reason I took thousands of pictures, incidentally, is because even I know that if you take enough pictures, one or two are bound to be good. It’s an odds game.

Some people would point out that if I would pay attention to what I did when I took the pictures that turned out well, I’d have to take less pictures. To which I can only respond: I took thousands of pictures. Do you think I have a clue what I did for any one of them? I pointed. I clicked. I moved. I pointed, I clicked. Taking pictures of a rock at sunset one night = total failure all the way through the sequence. Different rock the next night = total success. I don’t have time to figure out why some pictures work and others don’t.

I have to go take more pictures. Without people in them. So one or two will be good.

I’ve always sort of assumed that if even I—with an almost allergic aversion to learning more about cameras than “point” “click” “hope” “groan” “repeat”—can figure out how to get good pictures…eventually… other people can figure out the same thing.


With all the time I spend on the classifieds sites, you’d think I’d know better by now.

Take today’s reaction to a thumbnail of what looked like a cute-moving gelding. I clicked the thumbnail, thinking that in the full size photo I’d get to see all the pretty detail.

Turns out the thumbnail was blurry because the original photo was blurry. As far as I can tell, the seller shares my aversion to cameras and recorded video instead, then yanked still frames off the video. It didn’t work out so well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the video came off a phone, the quality is so bad in these stills.

But the potential for a cute horse was there. I clicked to the next photo. It was of a UFO sailing over a white fence. On closer inspection, the UFO might have been a deer. If it was a horse, it probably shouldn’t ever enter the hunter ring—or else it needs to retain a lawyer and sue its owners for gross misrepresentation.

Then I clicked the third photo, which was of a giraffe, and then I clicked the fourth… and then I clicked back to the third photo, which was, indeed, a giraffe. Very clearly a giraffe.

As in: unlike all the other photos, this one was in focus. And of a giraffe.

Or—you know when you tried to build Play-doh horses? You gave them legs a model would envy, then added a bum, then added the chest and shoulders, then lumped some more stuff where the withers would go, so the horse looked even, then added a neck, then picked the neck up off the table, cut out half the Play-doh, and added it again, then picked it off the table and put it back, then gave up and put a pipe-cleaner on instead, lumping more Play-doh on the withers to hold the pipe cleaner in place.

Ok, maybe not you. My talents in sculpture rivaled my photography talents. My parents, alas, did not recognize the existence of the modernist art movement, or I would be living in a fancy New York loft right now while students analyzed “Horse With Pipe Cleaner Neck” as a protest against the beauty industry.

There is a reason people do not photograph two-year-old horses. It’s because they look like giraffes on crack. Or my sculpture. Not good, either way.

I am pretty sure the horse in the ad is at least a couple years older in the video stills because 1) the horse in the conformation-ish shot looks like he can barely coordinate his own body weight and would fall over if you put a rider on him, and 2) the video stills, blurry as they are, are clearly photos of a horse and not a giraffe. Some of them. I’m not convinced about the jumping shot.

I’m not sure what the seller was thinking. “I need at least one clear picture among all the blurry video photos”? “This looks like a conformation shot, so I’ll include it”? (I know they didn’t think “this is a conformation shot,” because there has to be conformation and not just random body parts for that.)

Whatever the logic, the sellers can’t have any horsey friends, because said friends would have advised them that a text-only ad would be better than three blurry photos and an image of the horse as a gangly two-year-old.

It’s sad, because he really might be cute.

I will never know, I guess.

But I have the urge to paint a horse like a giraffe for Halloween.

Of course, with my artistic ability, it would probably look like a troll when I was done.

I could take pictures. They’d make the horse look like a mangy buffalo.

I could call it “metamorphosis.” New York, I’m coming your way!

Tagged: Advertising & Marketing, Buffalo, Giraffes, Horse Sale Ads, Horses

With a mind like that…

17 October 2009 Comments

Here is the scene:

It’s a dark and stormy week. An enterprising teenager could have made a million dollars by bringing a punt out to the barn and shuttling people from the parking lot to the barn or from barn to barn. A less enterprising teen could have made a small fortune by retrieving sucked-off boots for their one-legged-hopping owners.

Unfortunately, enterprising teens were in short supply and we were forced to rely on snorkels and tight laces to get us into the barn.

The horses were on very limited—or no—turnout. It appears that Hallmark does not sell a “The paddock mud ate your horse” card, so the barn owners were keeping everyone inside where they might be stir crazy but wouldn’t be sinking out of view.

From having three arenas, two round pens, a hot walker and trails available, we were down to a single arena and the two round pens.

Most people seemed to have figured out that they would need to come out and work their horses, due to the lack of turnout. Apparently, no one sent out a memo saying “Please don’t all show up at 6:30.”

Still, we made it work. It was not quite the chaos of a warmup ring at a show, because everyone figured out pretty quickly that it’s easier to ride with everyone going the same direction. The couple of us hell-bent on doing more than riding around on the rail figured out how to use the middle of the ring in a way that 1) didn’t interfere with traffic and 2) stayed out of the way of the lesson kids. I think we did, anyway. I mean, I never heard the trainers yelling at us.

And yet, tonight, as I rode by one of the trainers, I overheard a lady saying to her that she needed to “do something” because “some of us are afraid to ride in the ring right now.”

I bet the trainer was more tactful than I would have been. At the time, all the lesson kids and a boarder or two were going around on the rail, passing as needed, and generally sorting things out. A boarder and I were at opposite ends of the ring, circling in the middle. Both of us were on young, green horses with much bigger strides than anyone else in the ring. Neither of us had been able to lunge before riding, so our horses were fresh but well behaved.

It probably looked like chaos, but in reality everyone had it figured out. No one crashed, no one wrecked, no one got kicked. I didn’t even see anyone offering to kick. The ring was busy, but manageable.

I can understand someone not wanting to ride in it like that—had Gabi not proved to be such a star about traffic all week, I wouldn’t have wanted to be in there either. But I already knew that she was ok being passed or passing, ok going the same or different gait than the horses around her (faster or slower, it didn’t matter to her), and that if a green rider passed too close to her, she’d barely flick an ear.

But what, exactly, did this irate woman think the trainer could do? Magically dry out a saturated outdoor ring? Kick out the boarders? Tell her lesson students—who were doing stellar jobs at managing their horses in traffic—that they couldn’t ride?

Why anyone would expect an empty ring at 6:30 after a week of rain is beyond me. The line at the round pens looked long enough to last until April at one point. I ended up not lunging Gabi, because I didn’t think my boss would understand when I called in sick next Monday…

An interesting week, anyway. I was thinking about talking with Gabi’s owner and maybe entering her in the barn show next month to see how she’d handle the warmup ring, but I have that answer. I’m telling you, this mare is amazing.

Fortunately, things are drying out. The horses are being turned out again, and I suspect the uncovered rings will be usable this weekend. Despite the rain, though, I don’t think the week was a washout. It’s good to know how a horse will handle the chaos. It’s even better, of course, when the answer is “like a seasoned hand, without batting an eye.”

Tagged: Horses, Horses - Gabi, Riding

The scale lies. The tape measure lies. But skinny jeans? They will never fail you.

14 October 2009 Comments

According to my scale, since I decided to lose some weight (again), I have gained five pounds. Or lost two.

It’s hard to tell, really. See, the scale uncalibrates every time it gets bumped, and my young and exuberant cat loves chasing balls in the bathroom, because they roll better and make more noise in there. The scale gets bumped a lot. I recalibrate it, but I don’t think I’m doing a very good job at it.

I bet this is why people buy digital scales.

On the other hand, when I have a bad day, I can take five pounds off with the nudge of a dial. And that, let me tell you, is great for the ego.

On to the next barometer of success: measurements.

I don’t know what I was thinking. I remeasured tonight, and apparently I lose three inches off my hips and two off my waist. If you believe that, I have some lots on the moon to sell you.

The truth is probably somewhere between the scale that says I gained weight and the tape that says I lost inches.

The question is how to figure out the truth?

And the answer, of course, is the skinny jeans.

I should clarify this. My “skinny jeans” are a size smaller than my regular jeans, and were bought when I was sort of in-between sizes. Since then, I gained weight that made the skinny jeans unwearable, unless I wanted my legs to look like big blue sausages. That’s not an attractive look on anyone, so the “skinny jeans” got tossed in the closet (the closet: where other people keep the clothes they are wearing, and I toss the clothes I don’t like. When I opened up the closet two weeks ago, I was surprised at some of the clothes in there. It’s like a whole other wardrobe. That doesn’t fit.)

The skinny jeans are… almost wearable. They are just a little tighter than I’d like, but clearly something is working in this diet plan. I could breathe while they were on. That’s a definite improvement.

So, I’m getting somewhere. This is promising. Maybe two weeks from now I’ll be wearing my skinny jeans.

And, on the positive side, I can now wear the two pairs of breeches I bought from Tack of the Day this summer. I never mentioned them on here, because they… well, I could get them on, but they fit in a way that suggested I might not want to make any sudden movements if I wanted the seams to stay intact. I’d wear them riding now.

I won’t because the barn is one big mud pile with all the rain we’ve been getting and these breeches are gray and tan and I am a mud magnet, but if it weren’t for the mud I could wear them.

Not bad for two weeks, huh?

Tagged: Living & Eating Better

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