Saturday, July 26, 2014

In which we hop around a bit, because Mel started it (and it's fun)

This is my contribution to the "blog hop" started by Mel.  The link to her original post is HERE.

Name: Aarene Storms, aka AareneX
  • Like many other bloggers, I started out circumspectly disguising my identity and gradually threw caution to the wind.  Then, when Endurance 101 and my "other book" hit the shelves, I had to go to the other extreme and become extremely public with my identity.  So, there ya have it.  
  • The "X" is a legitimate part of my name, by the way.
  • Wanna steal my identity?  Have fun with that.  You could take everything I own and you'd still be deeply in debt to the universe.  ;-) 
Age: 50  and really quite comfortable with that

Where do you live: Swampland, Washington State

Family Status:  Without ever "having" children together, Jim and I still manage to "have" more children together than is really reasonable.  Plus, you know, the other residents of the Farm: a horse, two goats, three turkeys, nine chickens, two dogs and two cats....

1. How long have you been riding? Endurance?
I rode a bit as a kid, and returned to horses after I got educated and got a job.  Started endurance in 1999 (which doesn't seem long ago to me), and never looked back.

2. What does a normal training week look like for you?
If there is such a thing, I haven't had a normal training week in at least a year, due to painful hips, eventual surgery, and recovery.  I hope to return to "normal" next Spring...two or three rides per week (including a dressage lesson or two each month), plus intermittent trips to the gym or the bike trail.

3. Any advice for endurance riding spouses?
Jim already does this better than anyone:  "You've had a great week?  Excellent, enjoy your ride today."  "You've had a crappy week?  Excellent, enjoy your ride today."  

Not riding is not an option, my horse is not a luxury, and my friends don't ask "are we riding?" but rather "what time shall we meet up at the trailhead?"

4. Where will this sport be in 10 years?
  • Like most everything else, endurance doesn't travel in straight lines.  The sport takes two steps forward (in terms of things like horse safety, rider education, advances in education, helpful technology adaptations) and then takes a step back...and then takes a step sideways...
  • I am seeing more emphasis on rider education, and that thrills me.
  • I would love to see international endurance riding redeem itself.  That's going to take a lot more than a few steps forward, however.
5. What was your best race and why (AERC endurance – or if you are primary in another discipline, than your best ride in that sport).
Renegade Rendezvous, 2014.  Not just because it's my most-recent ride, or even because it's my favorite ride all year, but mostly because after all the stuff that went wrong last year, almost nothing went wrong this year by comparison.  And because my Dragon proved, once again, that she is nicer than she wants anyone to know.  Shhhh.

Bonus question: What’s your favorite beer?
Because you're going to meet me at the finish line with a cold one?  

Make it a dark, bitter, microbrew please.  I'm not fussy about brands, but I won't drink canoe beer on a bet, and if it looks like a cross between a chocolate milkshake and a tall espresso drink I'm going to want a whole frosty pint of it to myself.

In which I take the new camera out again, with "better" results

A few tweaked settings, a fresh battery, 
and significantly more light.

Apparently, that's what this new camera prefers.  

Duana and Hana were happy to serve as test subjects

And who can blame it?  I'm more than a bit solar-powered myself.  

Changing the settings on this camera is not very intuitive; unlike the old camera, I will need a lot of practice before I can mess with this one appropriately on the move.

Movement, alas, is the weak spot:

sedate walk = a little blurry

If the light is even slightly dim and we are moving at more than a walk, the camera reverts to psychedelia.

sedate trot + medium light = more shrooms, anyone?

sedate trot + darkness = can't feel my face
regular trot + decent light =
this is what the woods really look like when we ride

So the answer seems to be:  seek out sunlight and maintain a sedate pace.

Blue skies, puffy white clouds.  If only it could always be this way.

Easy, right?

Bah haha hah hah haa!

Swamp = where we live.  Trot = what we do.

Yeah, no.  


Thursday, July 24, 2014

In which the weather (and the new camera) are not what I had hoped

Finally, the truck is un-borked, and I awoke this morning to bright, shiny...errr, rain.

The Usual Suspects are unusually banged up and sickly this week (the horses are fine, it's the people who are under the weather), so I opted for a solo trip into the muck with my trusty Dragon.

This was the only completely non-blurry picture I took
from the saddle today.  We were standing still.

Time to try out the new raincoat...and the new camera.

I haven't completely given up hope of finding my Old Faithful Camera, because Gail and Mike are planning to look for it today while they are un-marking the stretch of trail where it got lost on ride day. 

It's been gone so long, though, that I went out and purchased a replacement...practically the same camera.

A little newer...and, it turns out, a bit inferior.

This was one of the less-blurry photos.  Nice color, crummy resolution.

I know, I know:  I live in a state where recreational pot is legal...but not for electronic devices.

Camera lens: comfortably numb
 The good news is that the long Muddy Creek raincoat I ordered after the last monsoon worked pretty well in the rain today.  In fact, it kept me so warm that my leg muscles felt damp (but weren't) because of the heat.  That's going to be nice, come the winter downpours.

However, the hood flies off at anything faster than a medium trot.  So that's sub-optimal.

Fee's medium trot feels like she's barely moving (it clocks at about 7mph).

Also, I have no talent whatever at selfies, and this camera doesn't help much.

Just nod if you can hear me / Is there anyone home?
But hey.  Riding.  THAT'S a good thing.

And the sunny weather is supposed to return tomorrow.

Well I can ease your pain / And get you on your feet again.

And maybe, just maybe, my wandering camera will find the way home again soon, too.

I really hope it does.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In which the truck is borked, so we have a field trip without the horses

What does an endurance rider do while the truck is in the shop?

Well, this endurance rider likes to go to storytelling festivals.

Daylilies at Powellswood Storytelling Festival

We've been here before. 

I hosted the Perennial Tent all weekend
 But that's okay.

Ed Stivender.  I checked it: the banjo is set on "stun."
 The stories are always new.

Diane Ferlatte  She lives in Oakland CA, y'all.
(That's a hint to the California readers.)
 Even the familiar tellers had new tales to share.

Donald Davis.  He never gets less charming.

Sometimes, a teller will share an old story, with a new twist.

Barbara McBride-Smith specializes in familiar stories from
mythology and the Bible...with a Texas twist!
 Or maybe an old story, told the old-fashioned way.

Angela Lloyd, who was once described (by another storyteller)
as being "diagonally parked in a parallel world."
 We all come together every summer, because

Dr. Margaret Read MacDonald, author, professor, folklorist, storyteller
and a few young friends
 Margie MacDonald really knows how to throw a great party for storytellers!

Santa Jim ran the sound board

Storytellers aren't just grownups, of course.

Santa can't help attracting small children...

...and big children
 Stories are for everyone.

Cassidy came to stay for the weekend,
 just to help out at the festival
And so are

the beautiful flowers at Powellswood Garden.

Life is good.

(And the truck is fixed!  Tomorrow I ride!)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In which we hide from the heat and mystify the neighbors just for fun

You can almost hear the neighbors thinking aloud when they look at our place on days like today:

There is no place to float a boat on Haiku Farm.
Not a lake, nor a stream, nor even a clear bit of marsh.

"Now what are they doing over there?"

Monica, dressed for warm weather
and searching for a church key

Well, friends, today was a day to celebrate Santa Jim. 

His birthday was the excuse.....but basically, we got together because we are fond of him.

He's hot stuff. And ladies: he's mine.

Usually our summer parties center around the fire pit, where we toast various stuff and huddle in for a little extra warmth.

But this week is apparently the week designates as "summer in the Swampland," and we are all suffering in temps above 85°f.

In our defense, summer temps here rarely top 80°, and air conditioning is limited to cars and shopping malls. Houses don't have AC, and most small shops and churches don't have AC.

Which means that for a week or so every third or fifth year, the locals swelter, whine, and try not to melt.

This week is that week, apparently.

We had a party anyhow.

But wait: the boat is filled with water?

Everyone was invited. 

We made a shade canopy attached to the barn so Fiddle and the goats could participate too.

Yes, yes.  But..the boat?

We discovered during a heat spell several years ago that cool water from our deep, deep well is incredibly refreshing. 

We could've gotten a kiddie pool for folks to dabble toes in...

If a boat can keep water out, it can also keep water in!

but the little boat HMS Grog was right there, practically begging for an invitation to the party.

Cool and refreshing on tired toes

And after a vigorous game of footie

The German soccer team should be worried about Connor:
he has mad footie skills!

everyone enjoyed a nice soak.

A wet Golden Retriever is a happy Golden Retriever

Happy Birthday, Santa Jim!

Happy Summer, everyone else!

Monday, July 7, 2014

In which a week in camp this year is much better than camp was last year

Another fifty-mile completion
Photo by Monica Bretherton
Last year, our week at the Renegade ridecamp was sublimely sub-optimal.

This year was better.

Much better.

It was not entirely without setbacks, of course. Like, I lost my camera on the trail during the ride, and it hasn't been located yet.


I was out on the trail, not stuck in camp.

Using tools, building and marking trails

On my horse!

And look who else was there:

Cassidy and Mads, two of my favorite girls

"Best-Dressed Crew"

Other stories will have to wait...I'm still hoping the trail un-marking crew will find my camera before some elk eats it.  My storytelling is really pathetic without illustrations!

But hey.

It was good.

Actually, come to think of it, it's all good.

(But it will be even better if my camera comes home!)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

in which I leave the poultry in charge of the farm while we're all at camp

She's at camp this week, you turkeys!
Time to have fun before she gets back!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In which I present The Daily Turkey: wisdom from the world of poults

The young of most species is cuter than the adult version, and much cuter than the the adolescent version.

About five days old, and quite charming

In the case of turkey poults, the cuteness doesn't last long.

About a week and a half old, starting to fledge.

Soon enough, those cute little fuzz'ums are wearing weird fashions, demanding to use the family car, and

We sleep with our butts in the puddle, because all the kids are doing it.

staying out until the strange hours of the night.

Noo no no no, we don't smoke it no more...
Truthfully, they stay out at night because they can't find the doorway of the shed.

Doorway?  What doorway?
 They also eat junk food at every opportunity.
They peck the side of the shed, the paint on the barn wall,
and the gravel in the paddock, but shriek in fear
and run away when I toss in some homemade bread.

All of their splendid decision-making is adding to their personal beauty...or not.

Veloci-vulture.  Not a good look.

They are a little short on survival strategies.

Hey Dragon, we can share dinner with you, right?

We totally won't fall asleep and drown in this tank.

And increasingly short on charm.

It's hard to soar with eagles when your mum was a turkey.

 At least they provide regular doses of humor.

We are bored.  Also:  what's a pun?

We were worried that we would get too attached to the little ones to be able to eat them later.

Not worried now.  

Turkey dinner:  sounds good to me!
Thanksgiving is coming.  We just need to keep the little idiots alive until November. 

Sounds easy, right?