Sunday, February 27, 2011

10 favorite things from this week

1. My nephews

2. New friends & funny faces


3. Old friends

4. Sweet hand-made earrings from a good friend (two pairs)

5. My beautiful dog... && how sympathetic he is to the plight of another...
   ((If you Youtube search "husky puppy hates crate" that's what he was listening to.))

6. My new felt cowboy hat (thanks Carly)


7. Caffeine - to aid me in lab report writing

8. Making funny faces (with the sweet earring artist)

9. Doggie helmets


10. Cleaning the worst stalls EVER

A foot of poop - four months worth.
I've never seen stalls so bad.

Gideon's stall.  He'll arrive tomorrow (hopefully!).

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Chaos is the theme to my life.  My birthday, this weekend, everything - a whirlwind of activity.  Just now I was finally able to settle down, turn on some Gilmore Girls season 5 as my background noise/viewing pleasure.  I am a Gilmore Girls addict - leave me alone.

Friday - my birthday - it was a glorious day.  Lab in the morning to observe pill bugs - oh the joy - and then home.  I have ALWAYS wondered what it would be like to have a summer birthday.  Guess its just something you ponder when you're a February kid like me.  Well, I got to find out!  It was in the upper 60s here on Friday.  GLORIOUS.  After lab I came home, threw on my Chacos and headed out the door with Kenai to hike around White Park and get him some exercise.  I then came home and cleaned - yes on my birthday - and then took a glorious nap.  I have a huge window in my room so I had it open and the sun and warm breeze helped my nap along.  At 6:30p I had a reservation at Hibachi with some close friends.  It was a really good time.  Even if Harold and Matt forced about 8 of these sake cups my way.  On top of a mixed drink I ordered for myself...oi vey.

Food was amazing.  Company was awesome.  Good times all around - and no, I didn't get wasted.  I remember everything, thank you.  After Hibachi three of us went back to my apartment to nurse our food babies and sip a beer while we awaited my friend from Philly to arrive.  Once he arrived we headed down town to the Brew Pub for some micro-brewed awesomeness.  Met up with a few more people.  Despite my invitations to lots of people to come few showed up.  It ended up being me and all guys.  Go figure?  Two almost-doctors, an almost-dentist, a PhD candidate at UPenn, and a couple undergrads - apparently I roll with really smart people, I didn't realize the genius of this little motley crew until just now.  Interesting.  And we were all wearing black shirts...odd.  After a couple beers and great conversation we decided to walk up the street to play pool at the Metropolitan Billiards room.  Its this place below the Met Theatre that is rarely busy, has a jukebox to pick songs from, a bunch of pool tables, really old theater seats, silly rules about respecting your mom and the pool table, good beer, cool snacks - like Bugles!! - and this little old man that runs it all who still thinks the drinking age is 18.  Glorious.  Good times all around.  It was a great birthday.

Saturday - Chris was creeking - a whitewater kayaking term for doing crazy shit in tiny creeks that are basically at flood stage, and exhibiting precise manuevers that if not performed lead to one's certain death - all day.  My friend from Philly and I rolled over to the rec center for the WVU climbing competition.  No one from WVU ended up placing in the top three for men or women.  But I did get to watch some pretty strong climbers for a little while.  I missed the bulk of the comp because I headed across campus to the coliseum for our men's basketball game against Notre Dame.  It was one of THE sweetest games I've been to in awhile.  Tim Higgins was reffing.  Miserable old shrew.  As my dad put it, he sucks both ways.  He needs to admit he is blind and just retire already, jeebus.  Two technicals, two fouled out ND players, and some phenomenal ball handling on our team's part earned us the victory.  72 - 58 final.  ND was ranked 7th.  Go us.

Matt, my UPenn friend, ripping it up
Ben Davis on a high-ball problem
Daryl "Truck" Bryant taking his foul shots for one of the technical calls
Tim Higgins - worst ref ever
Today - I went to Elkins for the day with Carly to ride.  We managed a 3 hour ride with lots of running.  Very good times.  I snagged a halter, lead rope, lunge line, and a couple more saddle pads from her and borrowed a couple brushes for Gideon.  As well, we stopped in Tractor Supply to get wormer, sweet feed, and I gave in and bought a 20lb. bag of treats too.  We get his Coggins test results back on Wednesday and will hopefully move him to the barn up here on Friday - though I won't be around for that since I'm going home again.  I am going to talk with people from home that have trailers about trailering him home around March 19th when my spring break starts.  The lady that runs the barn up here is sounding more and more neurotic and crazy the more I hear about her and I'm not sure it is going to be the greatest situation.  Three weeks will be enough I'm thinking.  We shall see.  Either way, I'm SUPER exciting to start working with Gideon and see what he's like.  Its bound to be a great learning experience and a challenge to look forward to.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I did it.  I have him.  I didn't dream of it happening for another few years at the earliest.  But here I am today, the proud owner of a horse.  Gideon.

I've wanted one since I was five years old, what little girl doesn't dream of her own horse?  But instead my parents were too prudent about the whole matter and never bought me one.  They confessed years and years later that they had almost given in when I was six or seven, but worried I would grow out of it and didn't.  So here I am, sixteen, nearly seventeen (but not till Friday!), years later and I finally have my own horse!  He's an American Paint horse...but he's standard with his colors.  None of those flashing splashes of color that either of his parents had.  But he's more beautiful than I thought he would be from the description I heard.  As soon as he poked his head from around the building up on the hill I liked him.  He didn't have as bald a face (white) as I'd imagined - and he wasn't all black.  He's more of a bay and they say he when he loses his winter coat he becomes more of a grulla.  And four white socks are something I've always loved on horses.  He moves well too.  Just needs work.  Regular riding.  And he's going to get a ton of that.

Its really starting to dawn on me the more time it sinks in...I have a horse.  My own horse.  I can do anything with him.  Any time I want.  He's mine.  Though he will very rarely ever be in a Western saddle again!  Haha.  I love my little English saddle.  He's kinda small, so I think he'll look better in an English saddle anyway.  Show off more of him that way.  I can't wait to get him moved to the new barn; learn some trails.  See what he's made of.  He moved well today; but I'd love to see him relaxed, not under spurs, just out there being a horse.  Running and being free.

I was pointing out the golden coloring
on his face asking if that's the color he
is in the summertime when he loses his
winter coat.

 It all seems so unreal right now.  I've wanted a horse for so, so long.  And now I have one.  Unbelievable.  I really don't have words to express how I feel about it all.  I can't wait to see where this new adventure is going to take me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sushi, roadtrips, slacklining, and remote timers

Last Wednesday night two friends came over and we made this!

I was able to snag fresh salmon and tuna from Kroger along with some imitation crab, cucumber and avocado.  Add some wasabi mayo and sesame seeds to the mix and it was a pretty awesome night.  Jesse brought over his most recent home brew too.  Good times!

This past weekend Chris and I headed to my parent's to relax and goof around.


Chris made me a really awesome dinner Saturday night...

Sunday afforded us with some great weather and I got to play around with my birthday present from Chris, a Gibbon slackline!

Slacklining is the sport of balance and sometimes tricks all performed on a two inch piece of webbing.  You can watch some of the best in this video If you skip to the 4:00 mark the two shirtless guys that take turns I've actually met.  The one with the crazy hair I've actually seen in a metallic gold spandex onesie...don't ask.

 It was a really good time.  My balance improved within the first 30 minutes and I was able to walk 8 - 10 steps without coming off.  Even got a pivot turn-around in once.  Its going to be a GREAT way to build my core strength and my legs too.  I'm super excited.  My messed up ankles are even going to get a chance to have some therapy too because keeping my balance really works the area of my ankles that is majorly screwed up (thanks swim team).

Even though my birthday isn't until this Friday we kinda celebrated while I was home this past weekend.  Mom gave my the remote timer I'd asked for for my camera.  So  now I can do fun things like this!


I'm hoping this will make Christmas card pictures a lot less painful in the up-coming years.  Granted, I'm sure there will only be 2 - 4 more Christmas card photos that include my nuclear family due to my brother and I growing up and graduating college and moving on to jobs and the like.  The "family" card is more likely to be a collage of pictures of the four of us doing different things at different times.

Yesterday while struggling through an assignment for my graduate level course I realized just how burnt out I am from the whole of academia.  A semester/year/whatever off will be so great.  I'm really excited to just get a job and worry about waking up and doing daily things instead of giant assignments and butt-loads of readings to complete.  I've covered all my bases for potential summer jobs around home (so I won't have to pay room/board/food). I've got my name and CV in with people at Fish & Wildlife, DNR, and USFS.  Its nice to know people.  =)

The rest of my day promises to be full of scientific research articles and things that relate, a brief dog walk with 3 puppies and a new friend, some climbing, and some hold removal in preparation for the climbing competition this weekend.  Tomorrow is going to potentially be a very big day for me - and a strike off one of my 30 before 30 that I hadn't anticipated happening for several years.  So be prepared for a big post about it in the upcoming days.  Here's to crossing fingers that everything works out!  =)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Horses, dolphins, & unicorns

I love NPR.  I love that the types of things they report on.  I love that they cover musicians that aren't as well-known.  I love that they are more grass-roots than most news programs.  It really makes me feel more at home with things.

I was just reading this article on there about horses, dolphins, and unicorns and why little girls love them.  I felt as if I have something to add...being as I am one of those girls.

I was quite the sketcher as a kid.  I still can be, but it's just not as important to me as it once was.  All of my drawings were colorful in the early years.  As many colors as I could find.  Later they turned into pencil sketches mostly, the occasional pastel portrait.  But always they were of horses.  Sometimes dolphins.  Sometimes unicorns.  But always horses.

I've loved horses as long as I can remember.  I started taking lessons when I was five.  I continued taking lessons until I was thirteen when I began just riding for fun.  My lessons were never those ritzy things that you see in movies though.  Usually just working on proper generic form in the saddle.  Balance and all.  Things to know so that I didn't kill myself or the horse in a fall.  I've only ever been in four shows.  Western in three, English in one.  I've never owned my own horse.  I've recently obtained my own English saddle.  It was a wonderful Christmas gift a few years ago.  A beautiful Crosby that's seen better days, but is in phenomenal condition all things considered.  I love it dearly.  Despite never owning my own horse, and until recently not owning my own saddle, I've always found a way to ride.  Its what you do when you love something.

Getting out on the trail in the woods is an amazing thing.  Summer of 2006 I started training a horse named Stan.  An Appendix Quarter horse who hadn't seen much of the world outside his stall or field.  He was afraid of EVERYTHING at first.  That's how horses are in the beginning.  They've got to get out there and experience things to realize they aren't going to attack them.  He was terrified of bridges, blowing leaves, road cones, cars, trucks, trash cans, fire hydrants, trash bags, bicycles, dogs, cats, cows, geese, and about anything else you might encounter on a back country road or in the woods.  So I would go out and ride him a few times a week.  I helped him learn that its not so bad out there.  Back in those days he didn't even know how to run with a rider on his back.  He was so hesitant about everything!

March of 2007 I started training him for a 30 mile endurance ride.  I never expected to fall in love with a horse the way I did over those months.  Five days a week for an hour or three a day I went out and rode Stan.  Just the two of us usually.  Up and down mountains.  Through the woods on paths that were rarely traveled by people.  Down roads looking at all the farmsteads.  Everywhere we could get on foot from the barn we went.  Just the two of us.  It was a lot of work, looking back, but I loved it.  And he learned to love it.  He learned to love running.   He learned to love getting out.

The endurance race was August 11th.  He excelled.  He was the only full QH there.  The rest were Arabs or part Arab.  People resented us for it.  More than his breed, they resented that he was in better shape than any horse there.  A gentleman whose wife was a part of the USA Olympic endurance team helped me out a lot.  No one else would.  But he did.  He was a god-send.  Stan did beautifully the first fifteen miles.  We came in for our break in second place six minutes behind the leader.  Striking out for the last fifteen miles he lost a shoe in some deep mud.  I didn't notice still he started going lame on that front foot whenever we were on a hard surface.  But he didn't want to stop.  I knew him well enough to know that he was ok.  So we continued.  We stayed just off the trail in the grass/woods most the time.  He loved it.  But some really snotty older women thought I was being awful to him.  Women whose horses looked like they MIGHT get ridden an hour a week, MAYBE.  They didn't know me or Stan, they didn't get it.  In the end we got disqualified because he trotted out lame during the last check.  We didn't know we were allowed to put another shoe on before the check, no one told us.  No one wanted us to win because we were beginners and he was a QH.  I haven't done another endurance ride since.  I hope to one day though.

I still continued to ride Stan as much as I could after entering college.  To this day I still go up most visits home to see him and ride.  He's a completely different horse when I'm on him.  He doesn't run as fast or respond as well to any other rider, even his owner.  We've even practiced some unofficial jumps in the ring, the only part he likes about riding in a ring.  He HATES being in a ring.  That's why we only ever did one show.  He simply hates riding in a ring.  He's lackadaisical about it all.  Uncaring and apathetic about everything he's asked to do.  But get him in the woods and that boy goes.  Jumping logs, racing through fields of waist high grass at break-neck speeds, tearing through the woods on old logging trails, exploring areas where there are no trails at all, seeing bears, red-tail hawk fledglings, deer, and so many other things.  He's hardly afraid of anything any more.  The school bus and logging trucks are the only things that scare him - with good reason - and white geese terrify him for some unknown silly reason.  \To him they're big monsters with gnashing teeth and claws.

A girl's bond with her horse is like none other.  You don't need words to communicate.  There is a sixth sense about it all.  Sure, I have voice commands with Stan, but I don't need to talk to him to have a conversation.  When we run together I've never felt like we were completely out of control and that I would die.  Never.  If I just sit hard and say, "Whooooaaaa" in a low calming voice and apply a little pressure he slows down in seconds - no matter how fast or hard we're running.  His ears flick and swivel constantly.  I watch them often.  It tells me everything he's noticing and helps me to notice things too.  If he is cautious about something in the woods, I take note of the location he's concerned with.  9 times out of 10 there's something legitimate that's moving.  Rarely is it anything of concern, but I've seen a lot more interesting things from taking his cues.

I never dreamed I would have a bond like this with a horse.  I'd read about it, of course, but didn't realize how real it was.  The feeling of being on a horse itself is spectacular.  But being able to trust in that horse is even more phenomenal.  Knowing that when you're sitting upon his back, nothing but a bridle on him, sailing across a field at top speed, the wind whipping through both your hair and his mane and tail, that with just a tiny bit of pressure and a low calming noise, he will slow down to a lope, a trot, and finally a walk.  Its just freeing.  Sure, here in America we value our freedom, but I don't think anyone can truly understand the meaning of freedom until they have the chance to borrow it from a horse.  When you're riding a horse, you're borrowing freedom. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The forecast of spring showers

...makes me wish for these!

Spring showers in WV are always so chilly.  I'd really love a pair of these mirco-fleece-lined rainboots from wonderful eco-friendly Keen to get me through this year and years to come...  Oh well.  Here's to wishing!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A bountiful dinner

I forgot to write about the awesome dinner Chris made us all Friday night!

We went over to my old apartment complex where our friends Joe and Rab still live Friday night.  Chris had wanted to hang out and had volunteered to cook dinner (because he is a god in the kitchen).  [Oh, and Chris and I are working things out *if it wasn't obvious*.  We had a long talk a week ago and are taking things slow.  So far, so good.]  Anyway, since Chris and I were gonna be in charge of dinner (even though we were cooking elsewhere) we figured we would do something with venison.  I have a lot of it after shooting that deer unexpectedly.  I have never eaten deer straight up, only jerky.  So I was completely ignorant as to what kind of recipe to use.  I left it up to Chris.  Bad idea.  Well, good and bad.  Good because it was phenomenal, bad bad because it was super time consuming, really complicated, and really expensive and difficult to find the ingredients.  He chose Pan Roasted Venison with Crushed Blackberry-Ancho Chile Sauce and Sweet Potato-Toasted Pine Nut Polenta

A great part about this night was getting to visit with my freshman year roomie, Kayla!  I missed her greatly.  We're super busy people so it had been hard to see each other these past years of not living together.

She accidentally elbowed her boyfriend, George, in the jaw.  He was kinda ticked about it.  But all is fair in love and war, right?

Kayla, wanting to be a part of something, decided to stir the blackberry-chile sauce while Chris pan-seared the venison.  He's a master in the kitchen. And dinner turned out amazingly!  Thanks, Chris!

Pan-seared white-tail deer backstrap
Blackberry-Ancho chile sauce
Sweet potato-toasted pine nut polenta
The beautiful finished product!