Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Life After.......

I don't know why but it has been hard to blog. It seems like too much is happening to even cover it all. Then the next second my life seems so boring (happily so) that I don't know what to write. I apologize if this post is a bit disjointed. It has been a long time!!

Since we last talked so much has happened. I started the new job and settled into my lovely house. Being a home owner has been both rewarding and daunting. It is truly my dream house. It is near parks, sidewalks, and small neighborhood stores. It is a bit of a drive from the stable but I am not ready to move to the country so it is as close as I could get without spending a fortune in board.

Loosing two family members at once to gun violence was shocking, traumatic, and in many ways freeing. I wouldn't wish it on anyone and I would bring them back in a second, but I am a better person than I was before they died. It made me take stock of my life and realize that many of the things we fixate on just don't matter. And life really is too short. It is too short to waste on people who stifle you. Too short to stay in jobs that drain your spirit. And far too short not to just ride the damned horse. 

One of the biggest changes I made was leaving a relationship that stifled the person I used to be. I looked back and realized I liked my old self and wanted her back. My childhood was often chaotic and at times abusive. It was so important to me that I didn't continue the cycle. I chose a person who never yelled, never picked fights, and abhorred conflict. I can be a spitfire in my work and riding life but it turns out I am not so much in my love life. Over time many compromises were made and when I looked back I realized they were mostly on my side. I put her needs first and in the end I didn't help either of us. I enabled her social anxiety to the point that my friend were pretty sure I had a phantom girlfriend. 

I was lonely desperately needed to be around people who challenged me to grow as a person. I need people who tell me what they are thinking. I also need people who are willing to take care of me. I looked around and realized that I had those people in my life. I needed someone to hug me when I had a case of the ugly cries, not someone who pretended like they didn't hear. I needed people to drive me to PT when I was recovering from a second hip surgery in less than six months (and a new herniated disc). The beautiful thing that came to light during this time was that I HAD those kind of people in my life. The heartbreaking part was that my partner wasn't one of those people. She was there for the weeks just following my parents death. Other than that getting help with a constant struggle. Getting help with home PT was like pulling teeth, it felt like a bother to ask for a glass of water when I was on crutches after surgery. And she would take the day off work for herself but say "I am not sure I can get you there on time" when I had a PT appointment. The surgeries I had are very PT intensive. If you don't go to PT three times a week and do home therapy 2-3x daily in the first three months you will never regain full range of motion. Luckily I had amazing people in my life who filled in the gaps. 

When I started to regain my physical and mental health I realized I couldn't do it anymore. I don't think she is a bad person and I think her own demons kept her from seeing what I needed. I think I enabled for years by protecting her every time she said "You know that stresses me out." When I said goodbye I felt terrible for her. I felt like I had abandoned her. I know that in the long run it will be better for her. She didn't love me like you should love a life partner. She may have loved me as a friend and for the support I gave her. However, I know if she finds someone she really loves, taking care of that person won't be stressful.

With the passing of time I no longer feel guilty. I actually feel more angry than anything. She knew me before we dated. She knew my passions, needs, wants, interests before she signed up for a relationship. Yet, she was still perfectly happy for me to move further and further away from those things. A year later I have more than moved on. I am happier than I ever thought I could be. I am not sure where to start with my blog because I don't know if I can keep it just to horses. Horses are still a huge part of my life but there are other even more exciting things that have happened over the last year. This post is at least a start.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The House

In my mom's goodbye letter she said she imagined me in the house I would buy with my inheritance. Looking at houses on Zillow kept my spirits up in the months right after they died. I had hip surgery six weeks after it happened so for months I could go far from the couch or bed. I watched Doctor Who and sobbed about Rose, the Pond's, and River Song. And I would look at houses imagining what mom might like.My mom loved to house shop and loved old Portland houses. My favorite childhood house was my step dad's old 1920s home with a big porch and white columns. Some of my best childhood memories are of holidays in my aunt's Craftsman and exploring my great aunts old Tudor.

My absolute dream home is a big craftsman bungalow with a porch. If it had living space in the attic and crawl spaces I would be in heaven. I've been lusting after big porches for as long as I can remember. I've often driven slowly through the older neighborhoods stalking my dream homes. 

Housing prices have shot up in the last year in Portland. My friend almost doubled his month on a house he purchased four years ago. I watched them creep up and figured that dream house would be my next house. I wanted to stay in my neighborhood because it was the last area in the city where houses are affordable and the investment is worth it. A year ago I would have easily afforded the dream home but people were listing (and selling them) for 50-100k higher than a year ago. 

I had my plan of a good investment I could be happy in. Maybe something newer so I didn't have to worry as much. Then I could pay off debt and sell the House later for a profit. I went on vacation and waited for private to close. I hoped there would be the right home once the dust settles. 

The day I came back from vacation I headed to the lawyer to sign the finals papers and said "I'm in no rush for the funds to transfer" then hopped on Zillow for the heck of it in my car before o drove home. I saw this and almost fainted:

It was beyond perfect. It was the absolute most I wanted to spend. I would
Need to hop on getting that new job (more on that later) so I could afford all the extras but I could make it happen. The only reason I could afford it was because the rest of the houses in the surrounding blocks haven't been remodeled so it was the first one going for that price. 

In a little over two weeks I made an offer, had an inspection, and closed. In three weeks I had that new job. All of the photos in this post have been of my house. I can't even believe I found it. She's 105 years old and has all original hard wood floors. The porch is huge and they are ten foot ceilings. My bedroom is a giant finished attic. There are secret doors under stairs and Eves. It has so many windows. So many windows. It hasn't been all smooth sailing. They remodeled and while they spent money on fixtures they also did bonehead things like dump concrete mix down the sink and forget to put Teflon tape in the shower so it leaked and I ended up with four holes in my walls. 

Home ownership is fucking stressful. I don't care though. I live with two amazing people who are keeping me from letting the place fall to ruins. And I figure if she has made it for 105 years she can handle some ineptitude on my part. If you're ever in town give me a ring, you might want to take a bath in my giant tub ;) 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Summer of Equines

The love of horses has saved me many times and last year was no different. When I could finally drive a car again I used my horse time as physical therapy. When you herniated a disc you should walk for 30 mins at a time (even if it is excruciating). That's where many people go awry in recovery. It's so painful that you don't want to move but being still only extends recovery. On the other hand I had months of strict motion restrictions for my hips. I wasn't supposed to walk for more than ten minutes at a time. What I needed for my back didn't line up with what my hips needed. 

So I hauled myself out to the barn and walked with the horses. I would wander until my hip disagreed then sit down and let them graze. I could lean on the boys when I got tired. They got used to my cane and crutches. When I could scramble into the saddle I would walk Dickie a few Laps at a time. It is the same motion as walking but without all the weight bearing. 

Pretty soon I realized I was getting through the day with minimal pain. I was trotting and cantering a half a lap here or there. Against my better judgement I decided to do a few horse trials that offered walk trot stuff. My horse was an angel for putting up with me. 

By the end of the summer I my strength was much better but my body still felt like a stark gee (still does). I'm flexible in ways I have never been and stiff in areas that were like spaghetti noodles. My riding might be shitty but I had a blast. I knew by the end of the summer I would have a job again. This was a rare chance to go to trail riding when I wanted, spend days at the beach, and camp out at shows. This year I will be tethered by a job, a house, a garden, and dogs. 

As spring approaches I'm still overweight and is worse shape than last summer. That said, last year I was on crutches and didn't get on a horse until June. Even with the current state of my waste line and lung capacity I'm ahead of last year. Bring it 2016!!!!!

Where Do I Begin?

My last post was over six months ago. If you've followed my blog you will know last year was a rough one. I wanted to start a post so many times but didn't know where to start. I touched on the fact my parents died but never went into details. I thought people lose their parents all the time so details don't matter. I've found over time that the circumstances really has made grieving unique and challenging. In 2014 my step dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  I took three months off at the end of 2014 to have hip surgery and take him to chemo. We were close before and I will cherish the hours he spent imparting wisdom over apple cider while the poison that gave us another Christmas pumped into his veins. We talked about life, death, and diesel trucks. The cancer continued to take over and in January of 2015 he had reached the point where he would soon need help bathing and using the bathroom. Less than a year before the man could hike further than me (I was half his age) and still hunted with a long bow he made himself (he even cut down the yew tree)

We always meant to get around to looking into Oregon's right to die laws. We didn't. We were too busy cherishing every second. My mom had a long list of painful chronic illness and he was her caretaker until he got sick. On January 26th he had weeks or left on this earth. Rather than continue in pain that was untouched by the strongest medications on the market he chose to end his journey of life. My mom did so as well. They scheduled an email to arrive 12 hours after they were gone. They did not suffer. While I miss them dearly I also understand why they did it. 

It was quickly apparent they had been planning it for some time. My mom had collected a room full of boxes to help me pack the house. She packed up most of the valuables and hid keys to trunks so I could quickly take them out of the house. They knew the story would hit the media and were worried looters would show up. 

Media did in fact print the story with names and the street. The property is in the country with only a few houses on the street. My family and friends helped me pack the house in a matter of weeks. The house was on the market and closed quickly. In six weeks the house was sold and I was heading into surgery on my other hip. 

After my second hip surgery a bulging disk from a November 2014 car accident herniated and I found myself unable to walk,drive, or even sleep without pain. Through it I earned how many amazing people I had in my life. I was grateful for those people. Those who helped me pack the house, drove me to physical therapy, showed up with food, took care of my horses....... 

It's now over a year since they died. I own a house, I'm engaged, I have a new job, three gorgeous horses, a a sweet ride to haul them in. Life is by all accounts good. Despite all of that these positives, winter has been hard. I didn't have time to grieve last year. There was too much to do and I knew If I thought about it then the weight of it might crush me. You can't prepare yourself for being in the middle of a murder suicide scene. As the days get longer I'm figuring out how to face my new normal. 

Cheerful horse pictures:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

So Much

Where do I start. So much has happened in my horsey world since we last checked in. I got a new horse trailer, new (to me) truck, officially started riding, started jumping, rescued a horse, and Pippin went for another ride. Here is a brief recap. 

This is Hermione. She's a 2001 Ford F-350 7.3l diesel. She's the exact engine I wanted with the perfect number of miles. It just happened my friend was selling. 

Dickie is modeling the new pony mobile. It's a new 4- star 2+1 model. It is 7'6" tall and had two straight load slots in the back and a slant box stall in the front. 

This is Lucky a skinny mare we picked up when my favorite rescue had room. We didn't know she would be skinny and she wasn't healthy enough to make the 3 hour trailer ride. My friend ended up keeping her and she's already putting on weight. 

Dickie and I have been hitting the trails to get fit in time for shows later this month. My legs have forgotten that two point is a thing and are yelling at me every day. 

Pippin is as cute as ever and more confident everyday. Trainer hopped on him and he was a rockstar. He's been long lining like a champ. And he doesn't wear a halter in the pasture anymore. He walks right up and puts his halter on like a normal horse. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saddle Talk

Last year I bought Dickie a used Black Country ricochet. I love it so much. My leg feels stable and my hips were happy even on my worst days. Everyone who rides in it wants one. The only issue is the flap could be more forward. My hips have kept me from jumping so it hasn't been a problem but I had it in the back of my mind I might want to sell it for a larger one down the road. 

This is the color of model of my current saddle: 

Now I have two horses who both need saddles. They will often be ridden at the same time so it's not feasible to use the same saddle on both. Dickies saddle actually fits Pippin better so I decided to bite the bullet and get the saddle I want now. 

I went with another Black Country ricochet. First I sent the tracings to Trumbull Mountain saddlery. The ricochet works better for the tall withered pointy roof backed horses. I picked the color and leather combo above. I love the look and durability of buffalo leather on the flaps. The seat/knees have what's called reverse doe which is nice and grippy. Dickie's tack is all dark brown so now it won't clash. I didn't love that my saddle is lighter than the rest of my tack. 

I decided to try serge covered panels because they are lighter and cooler than leather panels. My saddle fitter said its also easier to change stuffing with it. I was worried about durability but people give excellent reviews. I've seen photos of older serge panels and they look great. 

She looked at photos of me in the saddle and thought my seat sized looked perfect. They were able to do a more forward flap on the saddle so I can get my stirrups up. Then I added in the totally frivolous request of silver welt. That's the little light colored piping you can see in this photo. 

Black Country and Trumbull are amazing to work with. Asking for customizations aren't extra. You could even go entirely custom by having the tree made to template. If you like a Ricochet seat but the quantum tree fits your horse better Black Country will mix and match.  The only extra fees were for the buffalo hide flaps. I love that I can get an essentially custom saddle for the same price as buying off the rack. Can't wait for it to arrive. I've never owned or even ridden in a new saddle!!

I ordered it over a week ago. The wait is anywhere between two week and six weeks. I hope I'm able to ride enough to enjoy it by the time it arrives. 

Pippin Torture Continues

Pippin continues to be the cutest little bugger around. He's still jumpy when something comes up behind him, you toss a saddle pad on his back, or a rope over his neck. However, deep down I think he's a pretty unflappable guy. He's not worried about normal scary things like horse eating plastic bags. And if you do something scary he never panics. He just takes a step back and wants to look you in the eye. 

The week before last we lost a little ground so no riding happened. My friend Frankie and I were busy so Pippin got loves but we didn't have time for anything serious. Last week I added back in saddling and torturing him by wearing weird stuff. He remembers quickly and seems to thrive off the attention. One of my other good friends comes on Sunday's and played with him. She can do all the stuff my hip won't allow like trotting in hand. She took this great photo of the boys practicing tying. It's a big deal for Pippin because he gets worried about stuff happening behind him when he can't swing around and give it the direct stink eye. It's a big deal for Dickie because he thinks standing in place for too long will in fact kill a horse. I need him to be able to stand all day at the trailer without causing a scene. 

We've been working at the mounting block quite a bit. This accomplishes a few things. It gets him used to me being above him. From the mounting block I can get him used to me smacking him on both sides, touching him on the flank with my leg, swinging the rope over his back and all that fun stuff. It also creates a horse who will stand stock still at a mounting block to matter what. Human lines you up with with tall thing, horse stands there and doesn't move until human says so. Dickie learned this when he was two long before he couldn't handle standing still at the cross ties. 

Pippin also had the lovely experience of being hosed off. My friend took care of that fun milestone for me. It's hard enough for me to get in the wash rack with my bad hip let alone manuever a worried horse. I can't wait to get back out and play with his cuteness.