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Monthly Archives: May 2007

Miss Bee-hav’in

At the risk of turning all the boys on, I thought I’d share a pin up of me, worthy of beekeeper magazine. I’d like to show more skin, but considering the point is to cover as much as you can, I’m afraid this is as sexy as it gets. I am wearing layers under layers here, and wondering how I’m supposed to wear this working with bees, since you can only open beehives in the midday sun on warm days. Alas, they don’t make air-conditioned bee suits. I’ll have to rough it.


This is the group of other daring individuals that took the beekeeper weekend session at the Campbell Folk School along with me. See how normal we all look? Well, looks can be deceiving.


This is our display for the craft show. I think it shows all the bee paraphernalia well. The big tubular can thing is a honey extractor. I don’t have one of those yet, but I won’t need it till next year. Guess it is time to start the Christmas list. The rusty, smaller can with a spout is a smoker. I do have one of those. In this picture, the hive isn’t painted. You must paint them so they don’t rot outside. Mine is white, and I promised Neva she could paint some flowers on the side. The bees may not care about looks, but me and my girl like a nice presentation, don’t ya know.  The metal devices are tools to open the hive when it is glued together by sap. What I wasn’t counting on is how heavy these hives are when they are filled with bees and honey and wax. Sometimes, you are lifting a box that weighs a hundred pounds! Maybe I’ll write a book called the beekeepers workout.



This is one of the trays of bees we removed from a super to see how they operate. I will teach you more about the details later (this is meerly a pictorial story today.) I held a swarm of bees in one hand that had 4000 buzzing bees clinging to a queen. I reached out and ran my hand along them. They are soft, like petting a kitten. Someone took a picture and promised to e-mail it to us, but I haven’t relieved it yet. Darn. 

Bees were everywhere as we put the swarm into the hive we had built the night before. I had bees in my hair, on my jeans, resting on my shoulder. But it was hard to be nervous when the teacher was standing there in shorts and a t-shirt. No one was stung. Apparently, you don’t need the bee suit unless you are collecting honey, for that is considered an attack. I held a drone (no stinger) and got a good gander at the queen. Fascinating.  Most importantly, I lost that undercurrent of anxiety walking into an area housing 120 thousand bees.  When I told my daughter I imagined working with the bees naked, I wasn’t far off. Often beekeepers don’t bother with suiting up. They just work gently with the bees. Love that.

We had to learn to run a smoker and every student had to show they could work it.  It was easy, yet an important skill. Smoke is like a drug to bees – makes them calm. They also get the munchies. Ha. I know some people that respond the same way to smoking, but that is another story.

The weekend had it’s pitfalls. It rained all day Saturday (our big day) and you can’t open a hive in the rain. So most of what we learned was theoretical. We didn’t get to extract honey. Big disappointment. I already had learned all about the remarkable community of bees and how they work together from reading books. What I wanted was hands on experience. Ah well. I will learn as I go. They are just bugs, after all. And whenever you take on a new hobby you risk a few stings (though not usually so literally as in this hobby).  

Today, in one hour, I am getting my own bees. It is too late in the season to order them from a bee company, because you must reserve orders by January. So, I approached a fellow selling honey at the farmer’s market. He has an apiary, and he said he would be willing to see me bees. (You buy them by the pound – it costs about 60 dollars for three pounds of bees (which is about 4000. Thats .015 cents a bee for the math-inclined.) The fellow (name is Dennis) is dropping them off this morning with a queen and a few shelves of larva. It is a great way to get started. I’m so excited!

I will share more about bees when I have time. Right now, I must go set up my hive. On top of this, LAST NIGHT ONE OF THE PEACOCKS HATCHED AND TWO baby DUCKLINGS. I keep running downstairs to watch the other eggs. I hear peeping inside. Lordy, nature is remakable.
  
Obviously, I have a lot to share, but no time to sit at the computer this morning. I am busy playing with the birds and the bees. Wish me luck on all fronts today.   

Risky Business

Making life an adventure requires we face our fears. I cannot describe how unnerving it has been to leave dance. I am often overwhelmed with discomfort as I question who the heck I am without that lifelong persona to give reason to my existence. It is like freefalling. You may be wearing a parachute, but until its open and your feet land softly on the ground, there is an unyielding anxiety connected to the thrill of flying. You marvel at the wind on your face, but you also long for the security of standing firmly on familiar ground.
 
Anyway, I am in a stage of life where fears do not faze me so much, because the thing I fear most is being too comfortable, not taking risks, and falling into routine because it is simply too much trouble or too much discomfort to ask for more from life. I am aware of the clock ticking and time running out on my one shot at living. And I guess I’m jealous. I read books or watch movies and feel that if I’m not careful, life will pass me by. The world is full of amazing stories of amazing experiences and amazing people. But I don’t want to be a perpetual audience to life. I want to be a part of the remarkable diversity, and sample life first hand.


Nevertheless, there are days I wonder if my choices are not a sign of some deep seeded frustration, dissatisfaction with life in general for reasons that can’t be easily defined. Luckily, most often, I am excited by the unconventional choices (such as forgoing college to move to New York at eighteen, dancing despite the fact that it was not a “practical career”, getting my degrees later in life, writing despite the odds of success, leaving a business I spent years building and the great income for what is really an unknown… etc.)  Nevertheless, despite the fact that sometimes my choices were difficult to explain and/or defied logic, I’ve always followed my heart. This way, at least life has never been boring. I’ve had lots of practice swallowing doubt as I forged towards something I believed was right for me. Haven’t always been successful, mind you, but I’ve never failed to make a play for something I considered important. Now that I’m in my ripe middle age, I’m glad I have learned the benefits of stepping boldly into areas I’ve never considered before. It isn’t about needing guaranteed success, but about trying. No regrets this way. Moreover, I never think, “I could have been (or had) . . . . ” Honestly, I believe if we have it in us to be “more”, we make it happen. Circumstance, opportunity, or the other people in our life have nothing to do with it. We create our world exactly the way we want it deep down, and you can argue until your blue in the face that  you wish things were different, but that isn’t true. Things can always be different. You just have to want it enough.


Anyway, my attitude about life nowadays, is honoring discovery – not just embracing a new view of life, but a new view of myself as well. It is so difficult to shed our self-definition – We get to a point in life where we insist, “This is who I am and I rather not question it, because it took years to figure out. Take me as I am.” 


However, another (different) attitude can be, “I am what I am because of the influences I’ve encountered in life, and now I will thrust new influences into the mix to see what else is inside.”


The fact is, you don’t have to be “unhappy” to want more. Happiness comes in degrees. I think sometimes being “comfortable” is the worst thing that can happen to a person. It makes putting off action so much easier. And you wake up one day realizing that in the end, it was simply too much trouble to create a more vibrant life. You settled for the familiar because it made you “happy enough”. 


I am on a tangent, and this is a poor introduction to my subject today. Pardon me. I must have woken up with my philosophical gene raging. Where was I going with this? I planned to talk about bees. Perhaps I’ll start again. I’ll close this blog and begin a bee blog from a different angle.


See what I mean? When you discover you are on the wrong path, all you must do is admit the error and change course. What you leave behind may even be good, but that doesn’t mean it is right.


 


 

SAILING OVER THE MFA FINISH LINE

I write often about our country adventures because I know it’s fun for friends to read about the award attempts to reinvent our world. I haven’t written as much about my MFA, which is odd considering it has consumed the majority of my time these past two years. I guess I fear the subject is boring to non-writers, but the fact that I don’t mention it often doesn’t mean I’m not still plugging away at this project each and every day.

I’ve cursed myself for enrolling in a masters program during this awkward life transition period a million times over, but now that I am at the end , I’m very proud I stuck it out. Origionally, I imagined we would sell FLEX and I’d have some time for private contemplation – time to devote exclusively to my writing. I had no idea that it would be years before life would settle so I’d have a moment to think, much less write. I was very naive to think that we would sell our business and leave a lifetime of dance behind and it would be as easy as picking up a check, packing a truck and driving away. And carving out a new existence from scratch takes more effort than I imagined too. Leave it to me to aggravate the difficulties by inviting a huge project (35 hours a week on an MFA) into the mix. Of course, I never forget that taking on such a task is a choice. I could have left school when I realized what a stress it would be. Or we could always have bought a nice town house somewhere and cooled out a bit while I got my MFA and Mark learned his woodworking if that was a priority, but doing things in a practical, non-stressed way isn’t us. No, we are more the type to tackle the impossible and fully load our plate just to see what we can do. And we are not the sort of people who let go easily and never look back, so any thoughts I had about focusing forward towards our new home and careers without separation anxiety or sadness was a joke. Ah well, all’s well that ends well. 

Anyway, I turned my thesis in to my teacher a few weeks ago and it was sent back with some very insightful notes. The general impression is that I’ve written a very good book for an MFA student at the start of her lifelong literary journey. Pretty much everything my professor said about the book reinforced that I accomplished exactly what I was setting out to do. Dance is a very dear subject to me, and I struggled to write something fictional that was authentic and without sentimentality or romance yet defined the magnitude of  the art’s impact on the lives of those who sucumb to the siren’s call. Mark (also a dancer) feels I captured the complex issues of love and hate well. I am proud of that. This doesn’t mean I’ve written a good book that anyone would enjoy reading – only that I wrote a story from a “real place”. And this has taught me a great deal. Furthermore, I think it gives me closure somehow. What I do with the book next is secondary. The true value was in the process of writing it.

I next  sent the book to my thesis reader who will return it any day now with yet more notes and my “OK to graduate” form. Then, it will be bound and turned in to the program director for display at the senior readings, only to be forever shelved with a million other thesis’ that no one will ever bother to read. I have to pick selections of the manuscript to read to an audience a few nights before graduation. I have no clue what to recite, but I’ll decide later.

The final thing I must do before graduating is teach a seminar to other students in the masters program. I chose the subject of blogging and online writing communities as a medium of creative input and support. It is a subject that isn’t exactly embraced warmly by the literary world. I’ve had to be careful to find an academic angle to make it work. As such, I’ve done a great deal of reading about blogs. It has made me question my involvement as a personal blog writer on more than one occasion. But for all that I can build a case against my blogging, I have my own reasons for continuing. So, despite the cons, I’ll be around for a while. 

Just to prove I am still a student, laboring in school month after month, sweating to appear intelligent despite my natural tendencies to be a queer-bo romantic, I thought I’d share my outline for my senior seminar lecture. For all that writing a book is difficult for me, teaching a class isn’t. I don’t care what the subject matter is, I can put together a progressive lecture in my sleep. Passing information along in a concise way is my specialty. So, I think this class plan will work. I am relieved to send it off today (a day early). I suppose Jamie Woodman will send me corrections. Ha.  
 
Finishing this outline means I am now, more or less a free individual again. I have no more assignments or material to turn in to school – ever. No more books to read or annotate.  I ordered my cap and gown today. Gee, the last time I ordered cap and gowns I was ordering them by the dozen. They were purple and size extra-small toddler (for the preschool). How different life can become in an instant.   

I’ve collected my research, and I’ll spend a few days organizing my class before I go to give it in June. I’ll make fancy packets of research material and supporting articles for the students, because I think a nice presentation and good material helps people learn. But that’s it. I’m almost done. I’m a smarty pants MFA graduate now – almost.

It feels a bit like when you finish a really long, involved book. You feel a bit lost at first, and can’t imagine living without those characters in your life. And you feel ungrounded because you don’t know what you want to read next. Being cut lose is unnerving. But all you need to do is pick up a new book and you are soon engaged in a new story. Now that I’m closing the cover on my MFA I look forward to whatever comes next. In a way, I am frozen with indecision because I can write anything I want now. The massive choices leave me slightly paralyzed. Do I want to return to my historical novels and rewrite them. Or work on a memoir about moving to the country. Do I want to finish the dance book and send it out to publishers. Or write about teaching a girl to read? So many choices. Well, I’ll follow my heart. Maybe I’ll write them all, dependant on my mood each day.

Anyway, for those who want to be put to sleep, or who doubt I have any intellectual capabilities at all, here is my MFA senior seminar outline. It’s my last official academic outpouring. I can go back to being stupid and corny now. (Big sigh of relief.) And as you can see, a blog can be (and is) more than a letter to the world if you scratch the surface.  

GINNY’S SENIOR SEMINAR CLASS TITLE AND DESCRIPTION


Books Born of Blogs
(Using contemporary cultural trends and technology
for inspiration, research and feedback.)


Description AS IT APPEARS IN STUDENT HANDBOOKS:This class will explore the pros and cons of blogging, web writing communities and other pop culture venues available to writers today. Books will be reviewed that began as blogs, but evolved when they developed an enthusiastic audience with a discussion about whether a blog is a viable free writing forum that promotes daily practice and a foundation for ideas, or is more of a self-publication venue that wastes time and encourages the writer to unleash unpolished work that would better develop with time and space to ferment privately. The seminar will also explore the blogging trend as a method of research and realistic character development, look at successful author’s and publisher’s blogs, and then turn the attention to on-line writing communities. For those who are concerned about writing becoming a solitary pursuit when the MFA ends, this class will provide resources for staying connected, inspired, and creatively fueled by tapping into current cultural fads with wisdom and care. 


All reading materials will be handed out in the class.


CLASS OUTLINE:
I.  INTRODUCTION:
In some ways, the beauty of writing as an art form is its simplicity. All you need is a pencil and paper to begin orchestrating an original expression, something that may have the potential to become a poignant work, resonating with readers long after the pages have been put aside. However, it is said that art also reflects life, and as our culture evolves to include technology based sensibilities, should the artist adapt? A study of classical literature often is the foundation for a deeper appreciation of literary style and technique, but where do we draw the line between commercial enterprise and authentic social portrayal when we engage in pop culture interests? Some authors believe it is best to avoid any endeavor with the potential to be a “fad”, thus tagging their work as less than serious. Others boldly venture into new waters to explore the vast potential of new artistic avenues today, inviting criticism and skepticism from literary purists.


What is the right choice, the safe choice, the best choice, for an aspiring writer who hasn’t yet developed enough of a following or a reputation to take risks without critics instantly discrediting their work? Moreover, where do we draw the line determining what is procrastination (wasting valuable creative time) and what is considered viable research and valuable input? Can our best work thrive if we only engage in focused efforts born of solitary concentration, or do we enrich our material by inviting thought, experience and influence from the outside world for mental contemplation? 


Taking advantage of technology based writing communities all depends on whether or not the author can explore new writing venues with an understanding of their pros and cons. We must tread lightly on commercial venues, respecting change yet not questioning the inherent merit or disadvantages that come with embracing it. Engaging in technology based writing endeavors demands an open artistic mind and no small measure of self-discipline.  The key is balance and developing an intellectual understanding of both the positive and negative elements whenever we venture into areas of unproven (as yet) artistic resources.



II    Introduction TO BLOGGING: pass out articles to support the follow discussions.
      1. What is a blog?
Short history of the blog. Social impact of the blog.
Introduction of books sold as result of popular blogs.
Introduction of literary blogs and renowned author blogs.
The dangers of blogging.
a. Vanity press or viable format for free writing practice?
b. Is a blog considered publication (thus giving away your work for free or limiting future sales potential?) Is plagiarism a threat?
c. Blogging for bucks – article about staff positions as professional bloggers. Discussion: does blogging provide on-going free writing practice and enhance discipline due to the fact that you have an audience, or does it encourage an author to release unpolished work too soon?
d. The literary community’s opinion  – article: Bloggers Need Not Apply, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, about how bloggers will not be considered for Academic positions in many universities and why.


    2. Discussion of blog surfing as a source of creative fuel to ignite characterization,     
        story development and/or research for fiction.


a.   Read select pieces from the book I Blog Therefore I Am giving examples of inspirational creative springboards.
b.  Discuss methods of finding blogs written about select subject matter.
c.  Can you trust a blog? Does it matter if you can or can’t authenticate the material if it is used for fiction or poetry? Discuss the moral issue of perusing blogs as a creative resource.
d. Short introduction of this author’s experience with blogging and my personal thesis evolution with passages that began as personal essay, then changed to first person commentary, to diary entries, and settling finally on blog entries as a fictional form of expression to support the story. How does this affect the book?


III INTRODUCTION TO ONLINE WRITING COMMUNITIES pass out resource list.
    1. Discussion (as time permits) to address: 
a. Online writing critic groups
b. Literary online communities
c. Online literary contests and magazines.


     Discussion: Can online communication with other writers become a useful substitute resource for collaboration and feedback after graduating and leaving the secure environment of the MFA community?


IV. CONCLUSION: There is no right or wrong in regards to honoring literary tradition and/or embracing new vehicles of written communication today. Each individual author must decide if web communication, in its many forms, will aid the development of their personal art.



  

Riding high!

Last weekend, I had my first official riding lesson. Well, actually it was more of a lesson for my horse, with a world famous horse trainer, Dave Seay. The general opinion is, it doesn’t matter how well you ride if your mount isn’t well trained. A good horse is the foundation of a good riding experience. Makes sense to me.


I’ve looked for a place for progressive lessons for Neva every since we bought our horses 1 ½ years ago.  I have enrolled her in two local academies, but they haven’t taught her much. These stables continually assign her a teenage instructor who barely scratches the surface of basics, following no progressive syllabus of teaching. Heck, I can teach my kid better than that, even with my limited information. Still, I’d rather my daughter get good training from someone with far more experience than I did. When you are isolated in the boonies, good riding education pickin’s are slim. I admit, I have high expectations of teachers working with youth. I believe students deserve a good foundation for any skill. Eventually, we get tired of paying for private lessons and seeing no results, my daughter bored and yawning as she endlessly walks around the ring astride a twenty one year old, over-trained animal, never increasing her comfort outside of the ring. We withdraw, because I fear if we don’t, Neva will decide horseback riding isn’t much fun.


The other day, while buying feed, I noticed a poster announcing that the Cadence Equestrian Center is finally open and hosting some riding clinics. This place is a short five minutes from my house and it happens that the clinic they were offering that very day was “How to break in a colt”. Considering my baby horse is one year old now, I was devastated to have missed it, nevertheless, I called for more information. I was intrigued.


The Cadence Equestrian Center is a new subdivision they are building on 200 wilderness acres, butt up against the Cohutta National Forest (where public riding trails are available).  They are building upscale log style homes in this new project that start at a 1.3 million dollars (each on only 1-3 acres). We viewed a model home, and it isn’t any nicer (or bigger) than Marks amazing house. Remarkable to think what people can and will buy.


Rich people live in equestrian communities in the mountains the way people buy homes on golf courses. They pay for the natural, horse-friendly environment and the surrounding culture, dropping hefty commentary fees for fancy grounds upkeep and special perks. Instead of a golf club house, these equestrian communities get an Olympic size-riding ring under roof, a riding clubhouse and miles of trails woven throughout the pretty grounds. They also have a state of the art 21 stall barn. Outsiders can board horses here if they wish. Not me, of course. Why would I want to give up the joy of shoveling my own horse patties?


I told Mark I wish I knew where this Cadence place was, because it looks mighty cool, so he drove me over, and sure enough, just down the street from our house, is this newly erected, huge riding facility. No homes finished yet, but you can see the foundations. Each gorgeous rustic home has a pretty view and a classy stacked stone driveway, but the homes are side by side. It is definitely a “neighborhood” like those fancy divisions around golf courses. I wondered about the people who will live here. It’s very different than our home nestled in the back of a private chunk of land. Granted, we have to do all the maintenance work ourselves, but I like it that way. I guess I have the heart of a hermit – and I’ve had enough awkward neighbor experiences to last a lifetime. I like our privacy.


Despite the fact that the subdivision is just getting started, Cadence is already beginning riding clinics to attract people to the community and to help sell the product. Therefore, they’ve brought in a famous horse trainer, Dave Seay, who produces videos, lectures across America and gives demonstrations at big riding shows and rodeos. This fellow has been featured in every horse magazine, every equestrian event etc, etc… in the country. In other words, he is a big shot in the western horse world.


I thought, “How cool is that?” and I signed up for a two-hour private lesson. The fact is, they are just getting this program off the ground, so I want to take advantage of the availability of the master teacher. I figured I would ride over, (considering I don’t own a horse trailer) but the director offered to come pick me and the horse up. Wow. What service! But then, I started to feel slightly uncomfortable.


I began to get all intimidated and nervous. What the hell was I thinking? I am nothing but a riding hack. I had a horse when I was a kid. I took one summer of lessons at a riding camp because my parents wouldn’t allow me to go to dance camp (they wanted me to diversify so I’d be a well-rounded individual. Umm.. that didn’t work.) Other than that, I am just a “climb on and have fun” sort of rider.  My sister was the trained equestrian. I was the dancer with the alter ego of being a tomboy who just loved animals, so she played around horses. Ee-gad, this guy was going to take one look at me slumped in the saddle, turn his nose up and ask why I was wasting his time!


Then I started worrying about my horses too. I love my babies, but face it, people at high-end equestrian centers have high-end horses they pay 20K and up for. I have a couple of average horses I paid between 1200 and 3500 dollars for. They are hacks too. I now imagined this man lifting eyebrows at not just me, but my bumpkin horses. I have cheap tack too, cause heck, I only consider myself a recreational rider. What more do I need?


Thinking about all this, I got so disturbed, I actually considered canceling, but deep down I know the best thing in the world would be to learn what I was doing, so I could be Neva’s teacher. So, I decided to see it through. But, honestly, I worried about it all night. Mark laughed at me and said I was foolish to be concerned. I was paying for the lesson so what difference did it make if I was a numbskull that didn’t know anything. Gee, that made me feel better.


I got up at 6 am, panicked, and decided I had to wash my horse. As if his being clean would camaflouge his inadequacy. Ha.  I chose to take my best-behaved horse (who happens to be white – or at least he is supposed to be white but he is always brown because he loves to roll in dirt) and brought him to the house to use the hose. Of course, the first thing he did was take a dump on the driveway. Mark gave me hell and forbade me to ever wash the horses there again. Gee Wiz, honey, it’s organic. Give me a break. (Issues crop up often over the fact that I have no sense of smell and my animals . . . well, let’s just say everyone else can smell them fine.) Anyway, I saddled Peppy up and waited out front at the entrance of our land, twisting my hands with anxiousness. My horse was eating the long spring grass, pulling at this halter and being a general nuisance. He literally drags me around because he is bigger than me.


Up comes Dave Seay and his assistant. He takes one look at Peppy bullying me and says, “This isn’t a safe horse.”
I said, “Don’t tell me that. He is my best horse.”
“He will be when we are through,” Dave says under his breath.
I know in an instant this guy means business. I almost swoon with self-consciousness. Meanwhile, Peppy is still dragging me around to get mouthfuls of clover. I feel like one of those preschool parents who are trying to have a sophisticated conversation while their kid is pulling on their arm, whining and making the situation embarrassing. As much as I will the horse to behave in front of this horse savvy trainer, he is doing whatever he wants, making me look ultimately ineffective. I am, of course, but Peppy didn’t have to advertise it so readily, did he?


When I am learning something new (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately), I always think of my former students and what it was like for them to tackle dance. I think one of the things that made me an effective dance teacher is the way I tend to put myself in another’s shoes. I spent a great deal of time training my teachers to understand the mindset of someone new to dance.   Anyway, there isn’t a moment I approach something new that a part of my mind doesn’t flash back to classes I’ve taught and the eager, yet concerned, faces of students who were compelled to dance. And this ignites some kind of fortitude within. Because, from the dance angle, I know that there is nothing wrong with being a beginner. In fact, it is very good to come to something with no preconceived understanding, because then you can develop skills in the best manner, unencumbered by bad habits. When I reconsider things in this way, I start getting excited about being a beginner.


We go to the riding facility and unload Peppy. Dave tells me that we won’t be riding until the horse responds perfectly on the ground. “If you can’t control a horse off of him, you certainly can’t do so from on his back”, he insists.


And our lesson begins. He uses flags and swings a rope to teach the horse to respect boundaries. I’m watching, amazed and impressed, but I am thinking, Surely you don’t think I can do that.  Of course, a few moments later he hands me the rope and says, “your turn.”


I won’t give you a play by play of the lesson, but I will say that I didn’t tie myself up and have to hop around the ring like a ill coordinated cartoon character with her feet bound together by her own inapt roping (though at first, I came close). Slowly, I got more confident, and by the end of two hours I was whipping that rope around like Annie Oakley, making that horse understand I was going to be the boss for now on. When he was good, I was allowed to love on him (stroke his nose and whisper praise) but if he moved his feet one inch towards me, I had to get tough again. It was a lesson in control for us both! Later, I was asked to ride, and things went well in that department too.


Dave said Peppy was a “gem” and one of the best little trained horses he’s seen in some time. He said he was smart, well trained and good-natured. I was thrilled cause the fact is, I bought our horses without an inkling of understanding of what to look for. And this is, after all, the horse I put my daughter on. I need him to be a good horse.  I commented that my other horses were not nearly as well behaved and that is why I chose Peppy for the lesson.


Dave said, “Always bring your worst horse to a training lesson. You can go home to practice with the good ones, but bring me the bad ones. That is what a professional is for. And sometimes, the bad ones become good ones in a single lesson. Have faith.”


Of course. Had I not been so concerned with how I was going to appear to the big shot professional, I would have figured that out from the beginning. Now, that I feel more confident and know what to expect, that is exactly what I will do.


I signed up for an 8-hour horse basic training clinic in two weeks, and next time, Mark will go too. We will bring our other two (mischievous tempered) horses and make a day of it. Mark will appreciate learning these basics as much as I, and frankly, I need his memory to help me recall the details later. He is a good sport about things like this. Horses are more my thing, but he enjoys being involved so he has a base understanding of what I’m up to. Call us the Cowboy Hendrys! Yep, were trading in our tap shoes for riding boots. Can’t wait. Later, I will learn how to break our young colt  through these clinics (maybe try my hand at the donkey too), and I’ll get solid skills to help me handle and train all our horses from here on. I have intentions of taking private riding lessons as well. They said soon they will be offering traditional riding lessons for all levels, (with solid teachers other than the famous trainer, thankfully making them cost effective – the only way I could consider continuing with this.) So eventually, I will enroll Neva too. Looks like I’ve found exactly what I was looking for just outside my back door. Amazing how God provides.


I was excited to get in a ring with someone who could explain not just HOW to work the horse, but WHY. He taught me what the horse was thinking, and why he reacts the way he does to my actions. And the information I learned can be applied at home to all my horses forevermore. I am delighted to know that if I apply myself in these lessons, and follow up with practice, I can become a true horsewoman. It is important to me that I’m not “faking it” or fumbling around, possibly wrecking animals who have the potential to be great. I am someone who needs to feel good at what they do. Not for ego sake or because I plan to do anything with this skill in a professional vein (I don’t ever plan to do anything with horses except enjoy them at home in the pleasure of my own privacy) , but because I have an intellectual curiosity about the world and how it works.


I feel an intimate bond with my horses. There is something so special about working in harmony with nature. It offers me a deep sense of serenity within unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.  I believe that being skilled at horse handling makes this entire horseback riding thing better for everyone involved. The riders and the horses. Therefore it is my responsibility to learn all I can to enhance the experience for all.


Anyway, I am entering a new phase of animal explorations. And it is very exciting. My sister, the serous horsewoman, is coming to visit this week. I can’t wait to show off what I learned. This information is all old news to her, of course, but now, we have some common ground for discussion, and that opens the door to all kinds of sibling fun.


For twenty years, we’ve never had a weekend off, due to our commitments to dance. Now, weekends are for family and for fun. My appreciation for the time and the freedom to follow an interest  and/or to do something recreational as a family is profound. And as you can see, I’m taking advantage of it. THIS WEEKEND I TOOK MY BEE CLASS!
I will tell you about it, of course, but not now. I have homework to do today. I just didn’t want to forget to share the horse thing and this entry has been sitting around, half written, for a week. Tomorrow you’ll get the buzz about bees, I promise.


High ho, Silver, away…..

Choreographing more than dance steps

We are negotiating the sale of our former FLEX buildings now, while also closing out our associations with the buyers of our former business. It is stressful and my nerves are shot…. Worst of all, I can’t share what is going on until all the “t’s” are crossed and the “i’s” dotted.This explains why I am not writing. I’m not one to keep my opinions to myself when I sit and let words flow. But I promise you, it will be interesting to see what happens next. You can be sure no one is expecting what will be. . .


Don’t you love a story with a good twist at the end?