Monday, October 29, 2012

Look what I found!


I thought I was seeing things. I haven't seen a chestnut tree since I was a kid!

Yes I'm going to eat them. No, I'm not telling anyone where I found them!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

This year's colors

The Autumn colors this year have been quite brilliant!

20 October

Last year the colors were very dull. All of the leaves just sort of turned brown and fell off the trees. Apparently dry and cold makes more vibrant colors. Last year it was warm and wet. Except for that big snow storm.

7 October

And well, this Fall has been cold. I've almost turned on my heat a couple of times!

The timing is average. Here in greater Boston the color will peak sometime around October 20 or so and we'll have color for a week or two to either side of that.

20 October

Meanwhile...L is getting ready for Winter..

With her nice new coat!

And I'm getting ready for the hurricane...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Confronting Anxiety

Fear and anxiety. Sometime or other it's part of every rider's experience.

Aw c'mon. This doesn't look so scary.

I've seen people beaten by their frightening experiences with horses. I find that sad but I try not to criticize and judge. Hanging out with horses can be a dangerous pastime. I've been stepped on. Run over. Bitten. Kicked. I've fallen off my horse more times than I can count. There's all that. And then there's the fear of "screwing it up". It's not for everybody.

I was using that pile of pallets there as an improvised mounting block. In the rain. Safety First, as we say around the barn. At least I had the good sense to kick aside the boards with the nails in them. No sooner had I swung my leg up and hopped, L...stepped aside. Leaving me in mid air with nothing between me and the ground but that pile of pallets. Into which I landed in a heap. I was *really* pissed. Making matters worse the autofocus on my Nikon D40 failed. I'm sure those would have been just about the best pictures ever.

I settled it at the time of course. I was on board and felt sure she wouldn't do that again. We went off and had a pleasant ride.

Well. No. I didn't settle it.

I found I felt some anxiety over the prospect of using that pile of pallets as my mounting block. It really did hurt like hell. I'm too old to be landing in a heap in a pile of pallets. Actually, I was dreading the thought of mounting from that pile of pallets.

On the one hand, I could just say using a wobbly pile of pallets as a mounting block is just plain stupid and dangerous and not do it again. But as a matter of principle, I should be able to set L up just about anywhere and expect her to quietly park it. On the trail I use worse things than piles of pallets for mounting blocks.

Remember too, I fall asleep on this horse. I won't have anxiety and fear be part of our experience. Everything is right with my world when I'm on my horse and I try my best to make it a good experience for her too.

We did some ground work exercises for 10 minutes or so just to get her to focus and to be sure she knew what I expected. Then I set her up at the pallets. I stepped on to the pallets and, at the last minute, decided landing with my seat was probably not a good idea. Hopping and landing with my hips along her back would be more stable if things didn't go as planned. Good Idea. Because no sooner had I hopped, she stepped aside. I was shocked!

I backed her up. I spun her around. We turned back and spun some more. She was all kinds of "Sir Yes Sir!" when I brought her back to the pallets. Where she did it. Again. But...well...not quite. The gesture didn't have that... "dominant I'm messing with you" quality.

She wasn't really messing with me. This whole unpleasant business had left her anxious and fearful as well. I felt pretty awful about not seeing that. And I wasn't going to fix this until I got her to stand still.

I turned the whole thing in to a ground tying exercise. I ground tied her at the pallets and just poked around. I walked some circles around her. I walked half the length of the barn. I went in the barn. Came back out. Hopped up and down beside her.

I stepped on the pallets. I stepped off the pallets. I did that again. And again. Until she barely noticed. I climbed on one end and hopped off the other and then back again. I stopped at her hips and hopped up and down. I stopped at her shoulder and hopped up and down. I rocked the pile back and forth. I leaned on her. I leaned on her barrel, I leaned on her back. I "slipped" along side her.

Then I hopped up on her back. And. She didn't move. She barely noticed. I hopped off. I hopped on. I hopped off. I hopped on, scooted around, planted my butt and gathered her reins. Mission Accomplished. Sometimes I "get it".

Sometimes little things can be huge.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Soup season!

We had our first freeze of the season here this morning. Comfort food season is back. Comfort food has to include soup!

This was my favorite soup from last Winter and might even be the best thing I made all year.

My take on this French Lentil Soup. Although I didn't use French lentils I think the tarragon makes it "French". The beautiful color comes from the paprika. I added slices of browned polish sausage. I was positively delighted with this soup!

French lentil soup

I hate the cold. But last night's freeze will free us from the bugs for a while and we'll still have a few nice days left. Of course soup and fresh bread make the cold a little more bearable! Maybe this year I'll try using French lentils.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Winter 2011/2012

I've been somewhat remiss. I still haven't picked my "Picture of Winter" for 2011/2012. The single most distinctive quality of the season was..."mild" and I remember it as rather mundane.

So I was very surprised to find that I had 532 pictures I felt were worth keeping! And that the season actually was more interesting than I remember and, as usual, picking a "Picture of the <Season>" was challenging.

Winter 2011/2012. The orchard at Nashoba Valley Winery 13 January 2012.

I think that picture would make many observers think "Winter".

I have runner ups and honorable mentions but frankly, that's cheating. Part of the game is to pick just one. But I just have to include this one. I can tell it's Winter. I can tell it's mild. I just love this picture. Are they coming or going?

7 January 2012. 60° F.

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