Piaffe on schoolmaster Aron

I've posted about Aron before. He's the schoolmaster I got to lease for 18 months a couple years ago. He can do everything but ones (and the stars have to be in alignment to get twos). His piaffe and passage are excellent and easy.

The first time I ever rode Aron was in a clinic with Wolfgang. It was the first time I'd ever been on an FEI horse. During that first ride, Wolfgang guided me through everything Aron could do, including fours. I was thrilled! I clearly remember my first experience of piaffe. A thought flitted through my mind: "This would be about a four on the Richter scale."

Here's me and Aron working on piaffe. Good boy, Aron!

Getting the hang of this work-in-hand thing

More craptastic weather today! Too cold for breeches, so I lunged and did work in hand with Willow. The work in hand was awesome! We did half steps all the way down the long side, and Willow maintained her composure the whole way. She's such a good girl and always tries so hard. We also did more work on the small canter circle, where she has suddenly gotten quite confident. Especially to the left, she has figured out how to send her canter energy up instead of forward. I think it's starting to click on the right, too.

Don't forget to watch the Derby!

The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday. Have you picked your favorite yet?

The Contenders

I'm not really a fan of horse racing, having met too many messed-up OTTBs. But, I do always watch the Derby. I don't bet on the race, and I'm not a Nielsen household, so I figure technically I'm still not supporting horse racing. And when I watch the post parade, I'm looking for the horse that would have the best shot at a second career in dressage.

A Brilliant Conclusion

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 3, Number 2

by CS Richardson

Right after I finished this book last week, I sat down to write a review. The problem was, with the few chapters of this slim volume still achingly, agonisingly clear in my memory, I couldn't come up with anything that even distantly approached rational, clear-headed or emotionally stable. Everything I wrote sounded like Sylvia Plath on the day she forgot to take her Paxil.

A week has gone by. I think I've regained my equilibrium somewhat, and I'm ready to give it another go.

The End of the Alphabet is a little book, the author's first. There are only two characters, Ambrose Zephyr and his wife Zappora Ashkenazi. (And, really, what more can you possibly want out of a character's name?) Ambrose, receiving word from his doctor that he has an imminently terminal illness, sets out with his wife to fulfil his lifelong dream of travelling the world using the alphabet as his itinerary. They begin in Amsterdam, and progress through as many letters as they are able - one location per day in an almost-frenzied need to check off this last of his life's ambitions.

He collected French-cuffed shirts as others might collect souvenir spoons or back issues of National Geographic. He rarely wore ties but liked them as challenges in graphic design. His footwear was predominantly Italian, loaferish and bought in the sales on Oxford Street.

The only critical analysis I feel able to give is on the author's choice to omit quotation marks. I read Cry, the Beloved Country years ago and hated it - utterly deplored the directionless, unattributed dialogue that seemed, to me, pretentious and experimental. Maybe it's because age has brought me insight (unlikely), but in The End of the Alphabet I loved this device. It's perfectly, beautifully suited to a novel about the difference between what we say and what we don't - how what is in our hearts sounds so different on our lips. You're never sure, reading the dialogue, what words are spoken and what words are cried, silently.

Her eyes were creased at the corners. She wore glasses when reading. The glasses were purchased in a small shop in Paris, around the corner from an antiquarian bookshop.

It doesn't take long to read, but you don't soon forget this framed, sunlit snapshot of the last weeks of a life. Delicate, prolonged moments in their clarity and sorrow are interspersed with tiny, urgent grains of panic.

You can't help but ask yourself, what have I left undone? And why?

The End of the Alphabet gets:
Reread? Definitely
Given to Others? Yes
Bookplate? Yes


What's up? Nothing

Don't you love these two-toned leather pants? I found them at Goodwill but I don't have occasions to wear such vintage '80s finery so I had to capture the dressing room mirror-reflected moment on the trusty cameraphone. Are you getting sick of my crappy cell-phone pictures?

Nothing exciting is happening in my life right now.

I think I'm in one of those overwhelmed stages. It's been raining off and on. Yesterday I was sunbathing at Lake Anna and today I am wearing a sweater. Ah, spring.

Last night we went to a DC Divas football game -- all women, full-contact fb.
They are for real. This was Neil's dream come true; he's been wanting to go for years. That and the Mystics, the DC women's pro basketball team. Don't ask.

George, a kid Neil mentors, came along.
The Divas beat the Baltimore Nighthawks into the ground, 35-6, if you were wondering. Would you expect less from a diva with a capital D?

We found a very large piece of pizza in Adams Morgan. It was as big as both of us, and despite the impression given below, I single-handedly ate it, crust and all.
And that's about as exciting as my life gets right now.

Still laughing

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in awhile.

Update: Whoops, looks like the ad got yanked off of YouTube. As of 4/30, you can still view it here.

Frothy Pink Confection

This is the second of my completed Amy March's Slippers for the knitalong. They are for my daughter Emily (now 4) who is quite chuffed with them.

Amy March's Petit Slippers

Pattern: Stephanie Dosen
Yarn: Paton's Shetland Chunky, colourway 03425 "Frosted Rose"
Needles: 2 5mm Clover Takumi bamboo circulars
Tension: I don't know. I just reached for the ruler and knocked a glass frame containing a picture of my sister and her husband to the floor, where it broke, and now I have to throw salt over my shoulder or something to break the bad omen so I'm too busy to check the tension. 4 sts per inch, maybe? Not sure. Distracted just now by doing the hokey pokey backwards.
Ribbons: FabricIand, one picot-edged satin and one satin-edged poly organza.
  1. Cast on six to each needle as directed, but only increased (every row) to 24.
  2. Knitted five rounds total before beginning the rib.
  3. Used a 2X2 rib over centre 8 stitches of top (p1 k2 p2 k2 p1).
  4. After short-rowing the heel, (where the pattern as given directs you to thread your ribbon through) picked up 10 stitches along one side edge, then knitted the held toe stitches, then picked up 10 more along the other side.
  5. Knitted one round to add height to the edge of the slipper, decreased 1 stitch at each side of the toe for shaping.
  6. Bound off every other stitch.
  7. Ran elastic through all live stitches, put on foot, pulled up to tighten, and tied knot.
  8. While still on foot, wove ribbon through to cover elastic.
This was a cute pattern. It's very organic, so you need to be aware when knitting it that you might have to do some adjustments to suit yourself. Luckily, it's a quick knit and a small number of stitches, so this isn't a huge problem.

The elastic is a really good idea. The slipper is kind of low and the ribbons don't really hold them on well, because they have to be loose enough to pull on your foot. Just pick up a 1/4" elastic of an appropriate colour (my store has white and black, plus nude for lingerie purposes) and use that. Make sure you adjust the tightness with the slipper on - when the slipper is off, the elastic will pull the slipper quite a bit out of shape so you won't be able to tell if it's right unless it's on your foot.

I used the same exact method for my daughter's slippers as I did for mine. Using a slightly finer yarn and a smaller needle worked great for adjusting the size.

I'll make these again, for sure. I would like to eventually have a bunch of them in the house during the winter, since my kids are (typically) resistant to socks and always complain of cold feet. I think lots of these will look really pretty thrown into a basket in the living room.

Thanks Stephanie!

I hear Plato was eating breakfast when he composed the Iliad

Has anyone else noticed that H0ney Nut Cheeri0s used to be more nutty? There were little brown flecks on the Cheeri0s and they were quite crunchy, not too sweet, right? Well now they're smooth and white and sugary. Look at this picture - they look like....what, doughnuts maybe?

Not as good as they used to be. Not nearly as good.

Plus now that I've seen them this close up, I don't think I can even eat them again.

By sheer force of will

I found this video while noodling around looking at dressage clips on YouTube. The rider explains that this is this young mare's first show, and she was a problem rearer in the past, so the reaction to the rear was aimed at keeping them both from going over backwards. I believe the young lady actually defies the laws of physics by not falling off. And I love how she regroups and finishes the test.

April is the cruelest month

The horrendous weather continues. Today's high was 49, with rain all day and gusty winds. I decided to focus on lungeing and work in hand with Willow tonight so I could remain bundled up. (I used to live in Nebraska, and with the winters we had there I wouldn't have considered 49 degrees "bundling up" weather, but my blood has thinned.)

Willow looked great on the lunge. Tonight I did a lot of work on an eight-meter circle, walk-trot-canter (with plenty of breaks on the larger circle!). It's so great to see Willow finally able to maintain canter on such a small circle in her own balance. For the longest time I thought she'd never stop dragging me to the outside. I could tell it's hard work for her, though; she was really puffing. I can't wait until the day she's capable of a canter volte under saddle. Not to mention pirouette!

I finished up with work in hand to the right. No piaffe tonight, but some definite half steps and good collected trot. Tomorrow we may have some sun and it's supposed to be a little warmer. No excuse not to ride!

I Bruised my Butt Falling off the Wagon

All right, I really let you all down today. It's supposed to be Messy Tuesday and I cleaned up.

What happened was, I realised yesterday that my sister was going to be in town this week - she arrived last night, actually, and she is not one who wallows in the disarray. In consideration of her preferences, I cleaned up.


Anyway, look! Over there! It's a cute doggie!

Aw, he's so cute when he smiles like that!

Don't tell me it's just gas.

Snuffly kiss for you.


I just received a recent photo of Willow's colt, Isle Royale, aka Moose, now a three-year-old. His owner's name is Stefanie. Is Stefanie really short, or is Moose really tall?

I think he's a very handsome fellow. He's got Willow's long neck and pretty face. Stefanie says he's in yet another growth spurt, which explains his ribbiness. Willow was just the same way. I thought she'd never fill out.

Here's What Really Happened

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 3, Number 1

by Paul Quarrington

"Percival, old bean, I'm afraid we're done like kippers!"

My lovely CBC Radio told me politely, when I woke one morning, that King Leary was the 2008 Canada Reads winner. On picking it up I saw that it had also won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. I was a bit surprised about that, because I would have expected the Canada Reads winner to be....I don't know, heavier, maybe.

On the day that I took my four year-old daughter to a pediodontist to be sedated, gassed, shot with novocaine and have drill bits taken to her front teeth, I started King Leary in the waiting room. But I only got a chapter read before I realised I was doing a totally inappropriate amount of laughing. Other, less relaxed parents were looking at first amused, then suspicious, then disapproving as my grins became snickers, then my snickers became chortles, then my chortles became guffaws.

In Grade 4 I was asked to leave a classroom because it was "silent reading" time and, as I was highly amused by my book, I was not being silent enough for Miss Floral Print Dress. She said "Shannon, please go into the hall until you can control yourself". As much as I resented it at the time, I can't help but appreciate the lesson I learned, which stood me in good stead on the day I started reading King Leary.

After I left the waiting room, I devoured as much of this book as I possibly could. Between kids, family, cooking and dishes, I managed it in a couple of days. I went around for quite some time afterwards, thinking about it.

This is another book that is one thing at the start, and another at the end. The title character, Percival "King" Leary, is a former hockey star withered and aged and living in a nursing home. He is a faithful and evangelising drinker of Canada Dry ginger ale. He gets a call one day from an ad agent wanting him to do a ginger ale commercial in Toronto, for a whopping "ten thou". During his journey to Toronto and the few days he spends there, he relives his memorable and coloured past in a series of flashbacks that, as the pages turn, begin to replace his current reality.

I like flashback novels, especially when they're written in the first person. After I've read one, I spend hours pondering one question: is the narrator telling the truth? There's never a satisfactory answer to this, of course, which is the whole point. As my homeopath says, "Facts don't really matter. Your perception is what's important."

The narrative voice is very keen. It's consistent, and it's grounded. King Leary could be sitting there, on the other end of the bench at the mall, telling you something interesting, some 60 year-old story, that still lives and breathes behind his thick glasses. He's boastful and adamant, wry and stubborn. He forgets, and remembers, and thinks for a second that you are his nephew.

"To Keep a Boy Out of Hot Water, Put Him on Ice"

Definitely, definitely pick this up. And let me know what you think of it...just don't blame me if you get kicked out of class for laughing too loudly.

HalfSoled Boots' New, Highly Specialised, Book Rating System

King Leary Gets the Following:
Given to Others?
? Yes

More Old News

At work and remembered this lovely tidbit of news from last week:
"(Detroit) Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, right, and Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams react to City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr.'s message that the council would not hear the mayor's budget address. Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins wears a tiara to celebrate her 69th birthday." (Detroit Free Press)


Said tiara is just the latest in this embarrassing story.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail, nor snow

Man, are we having some crappy weather in the Willamette Valley this spring. Today's high was 45, and it's been alternating between rain, sleet, hail, and snow. I consider the fact that I dragged myself out to the barn to ride borderline heroic. Kudos to Willow for not freaking out when it started hailing on the metal roof of the arena.

I cut the tags off the saddle today. I really like it, and so does Willow. How lucky are we to have found the right saddle on the very first try? In other news, I'm finally back to bridling Willow on the near side. And it only took eleven months! It's so nice that she's no longer a special needs child.

Stuff to start working on in earnest: counter canter, canter lengthening, walk-canter-walk.

Old News

By now this is old news, but oh well.

Last Friday, the Newseum opened on Pennsylvania Ave. They had a grand opening celebration, and I was SO stoked. Rosemay, her baby, Josiah and I went.

It was pretty awesome. As we drove up, we saw all the fanfare: Tons of people (in line), confetti everywhere, news crews and limos. A huge banner of a newspaper front page was draped down the front of the building.

There was a lot of energy in the air and it was pretty exciting. It was also a gloriously sunny, beautiful day. According to weather.com, it got up to 82 degrees.

We saw some guy in white chef's clothes being interviewed by a TV reporter -- it was Wolfgang Puck! He was on hand to open his restaurant in the Newseum.

Here's a view from the balcony on the building's 7th floor, looking down:

My first thought was: "Someone's definitely going to jump from here one day."

Looking out, there's the Capitol. I don't think the Newseum folks are done constructing the balcony, hence the cones and tape. That, or someone jumped.

Highlight of the trip: I got to be a TV reporter. It's clear I'm a much better journalist from a desk than from in front of a camera.

My advice: Don't read too quickly from the teleprompter.
Check my broadcast.

The Newseum itself is pretty cool, I definitely recommend it. One display wraps around the front of the building with glass cases containing the day's front pages of newspapers from all over the country (and a local one, too).

Inside the building is another display with national and international front pages.

I'm wondering whose job it is to print those out and put them in the cases every day -- quite a tedious job, I would think! But it looks cool. A couple of interest to me -- Gannett (the company I work for) newspapers in places I've lived (in the case of AZ, a place I want to live):

The 9/11 exhibit is quite moving. There is an amazing collection from a photojournalist who was actually crushed when the buildings fell. His camera and digital images were retrieved and are part of a slide show with interviews from his wife. A lot of the images contain rescue workers, and you know they all died, too. It's quite haunting -- the last image is time-stamped the exact minute the tower fell.
A wall of 9/12 front pages from around the world:

This one, from the San Francisco Examiner, stuck out:

I think the headline is in poor taste and is unprofessional. But that's just me.

The rest of last weekend was spent enjoying the weather, taking ballet (me) and breakdancing (him), driving around, going to our friends' show at the NASA center in MD. Odd venue, but cool. They were celebrating as part of a worldwide party on the anniversary of the first person in space. The center (NASA, not the center of the universe) is actually blocks from where I lived from 1987-90, so we drove by my old house. Weird!

Saturday day:
Neil doesn't like to smile.

In fact, he often thinks he's too cool for my cameraphone.

Speaking of cameraphone, here's one from a couple weeks ago when my friend, Aly, was in town from GA and we went to see the cherry blossoms! The big pencil is reflected beside a bough reaching for the water. Nice composition, in my limited and biased opinion.

Awwww! and Brrr.

Whew! Okay, having a puppy is exhausting.

And, obviously, being a puppy is equally exhausting.

I have finished one of my Amy March's Slippers, and hope to do the other tomorrow. My one foot is kind of cold.

The Star Wars Holiday Special

A note from a friend who saw the "Star Wars According to a Three-Year-Old" post mentioned the existence of a Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978. I found clips from it on YouTube.

I honestly didn't know it was possible to fit so many cringeworthy moments in such a short span of time. My favorite YouTube comment was from the viewer who observed, "I'm not high, but when I watch this, I feel like I must be."

Happy Life Day!

Amy March's Slippers - Day One

Good afternoon everyone! Today is the first day of the Amy March Slippers Knitalong, with your kind and attentive hosts, Bethro and Challoner. I know some people jumped the gun and did their slippers early - and test knitting is always constructive, so good for you.

As for me, things have been busy around here the last 24 hours, so I don't know how quickly I'll get these done, but I have begun precisely on schedule.

I had to buy some chunky weight yarn for these slippers, as it's a weight I don't normally keep in the stash. I was in MichaeI's last week and got these.

The Shetland Chunky is the colour I prefer, but I thought the weight wouldn't be quite right...since I wanted to make more than one pair anyway, I picked up the Wool-Ease. It's got a lower wool content than I normally like but it takes all kinds to make up a stash...or something.

Anyway, I cast on today with my beloved magic loop method, using Meg Swansen's Turkish cast on. I think. I'm never sure what the difference is between the Turkish and the figure 8 cast on.

And here I am modelling the first twelve rounds against the backdrop of my Messy Tuesday post. This is what happens when a puppy prances into the house and you immediately discover the fifteen or twenty things you thought were up high enough but weren't. (And when you have tea twice and forget to put both pots away, and pin out your Cap Shawl and forget to put the pins away, and....and....and....)

More tomorrow.

Ain't it something?

Piper, meet Everybody.

Everybody, meet Piper.

Charlotte is his favourite person so far.

Taking a sniff and a nibble of every thing in my yard proved to be an exhausting feat.

You'll be seeing a lot of him, I expect.

I'll be back tomorrow...right now the old cross-trainers are calling me and I need to go get my heartrate up for a bit.

In Which I Show Fondness for My Readers.

I've been meaning to post a progress picture of the Cap Shawl for ages, but the whole process made me tired just thinking about it. You slip all the stitches on as many needles as necessary, being really, really careful not to drop any of them, and you pin the whole works out, take a picture, and slip the stitches all back on to your needle. It takes ages.

And you see, my darlings, how much I love you - I did it.

I used five long circulars for this, and didn't get the entire thing done, which is why you only see a photo of about 45% of the outside edge. The rest is all bunched up on one needle at the bottom of the frame.
I am on row 107 of about 170, which is deceptive because the rows get longer and longer as you go. Then there is the knitted-on border, which will take tons of yarn and FOREVER to do. A more accurate idea of my progress would be to say, I have used up almost one of the three required balls of yarn.

Pretty, though, isn't it?

And tomorrow, precious poppets, is Puppy Pick-up Day. Pictures forthcoming!

Almost ready to cut off the tags

I think my new saddle's a winner! My test ride today went swimmingly. Willow always wigs out a bit when I put a new saddle on her; she's pretty sensitive. So she had to jig for a few minutes when I first got on, but before long she settled into a big-strided walk. I realized I had the stirrups a hole too short, but I decided not to mess with them lest Willow go back to jigging.

The trot was a little tight at first, too, but again Willow relaxed quickly and moved out in a nice, swingy fashion. Because of the too-short stirrups, I didn't bother trying to sit, but I can tell this saddle has a very comfortable feel.

The canter was what all but sealed the deal for me. I started in right lead, where Willow tends to want to lean and galumph. This new saddle has bigger knee rolls than the Kieffer (in the Kieffer's defense, it was too small for me, so my knees tended to poke over the knee rolls). I found the knee rolls on the new saddle really helped me to help Willow to stay up in front. They gave me some much-needed leverage. For the first time in right lead canter, my seat felt secure enough to really influence each stride. And the left lead was just plain awesome.

Tomorrow I'll drop the stirrups a hole and see how that feels. If the longer stirrups feel right, then I'm going to keep the saddle. If the longer stirrups feel too long, then I'll probably swap the saddle for an 18.5" seat. Dressage Extensions has a generous test ride policy, by the way.

We had sunny skies and highs near 80 today, so I gave Willow her first bath of the year. Then I hand-grazed her for 45 minutes. She found a big patch of clover and pigged out. It was a good day.

Ask John Yoo

Do you need someone to write you a legal opinion to justify your questionable, illicit, barbaric, or just plain reprehensible actions? Problem solved!

Ask John Yoo!

I think it fits!

The new saddle I ordered finally arrived today. I missed the UPS delivery and so had to drive up to Springfield to pick it up at the main facility. By the time I got to the barn it was too late to ride, but I popped Willow in the cross ties and did a preliminary check of the fit. Everything looks good! I can't wait to try it out for real tomorrow. Willow's had a week off waiting for the new saddle, so she'll likely be feeling frisky.

I put my Kieffer up for sale on Ebay and watched the thrilling finish of the auction late last night. Two people got in a bidding war and I ended up getting over $100 more than I expected. Bless you, Ebay.

Tomorrow's forecast: sunny, with temps in the mid seventies. It's been cold and dreary for so long that I'd just about lost the will to live. It's spring fever time!

Specifically speaking....

The days, they do go by. Here it is Messy Tuesday again, and I almost forgot to chronicle my slatternly ways.

I realised, when reading over last week's post, that you could probably put together a documentary just using the material from my Messy Tuesday posts. What I mean by that is, I am giving way too much detail.

I present to you the new, streamlined Messy Tuesday post.

Here's the mess:

it's my coffee table. This has been here for at least six weeks. It's an old mess - a comfortable mess. The kind of mess that thumps its tail on the hearthrug when you get home. I'm rather fond of it.

And here's what I did instead of cleaning it up:

which got me these,

which were delicious.

Star Wars according to a three-year-old

It will, indeed.

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 2, Number 4

William Maxwell

I saw this book on the sidebar of January One, quite a while ago, and thought it looked interesting. This is because I routinely judge books by their covers.

I asked at the local bookshop about the title, and was told that they could try to get it in, but they probably would not succeed. I said "Don't bother, then, since I don't even know if I want to read it". Sadly, their customer service was too good and a few months later the phone rang: hey presto! they had it. The book was waiting for me to pick it up.

The problem with this particular store is that they have a "restocking charge" for special orders that are not wanted after all. I stood in the shop, turning the paperback over and over in my hand, repeatedly glancing at the $23 price tag, trying to decide whether to submit to the restocking charge, try to get out of it by shifting blame onto them for ordering it, or suck it up and take the chance on the unknown book, by an unknown author. After five minutes or so my mother, exasperated, grabbed the book and threw it on the counter, cast me a fulminating glance, and bought it for me.

(Thanks Mum!)

The story is set in small-town Illinois, 1912, and is primarily concerned with events in and around a small family during one year. It's a novel of characters, really - the plot events are only secondary to the central conflicts. I like this kind of book very much. It's so very interesting to witness and dissect humanity in all its pathos.

The beginning is quite promising. The opening scene is one between husband and wife, behind their closed bedroom door shortly before an extended family party. Their conversation is intimate, but uneasy. I found myself taking sides right away. This was strange - usually it takes me a few chapters to get to know characters, to understand their motivations and to care about their fate. Time Will Darken It hooked me in right at the start.

The book is strongly visual. It seems to me that writers of that era (this one was published in 1948) spent a lot of attention, time and words on the scene: I often notice that when reading a novel from the mid-20th century, I'm left with a strong sensory impression. When you're reading Time Will Darken It, you can see the prairie grass, feel the shimmering heat, hear the step on the stairs. If I ever found myself in whichever midwest town inspired Draperville, I should recognise it right away.

From the first few chapters, I thought I was reading a certain book. Then, with the turn of one particular page, I found that I was reading a different one entirely. It's like when you are on the lake in August, just off the beach where women are chatting and children playing, lying on an air mattress with your fingers trailing in the water. Eyes are closed against the sun, sand drying on your knees, the breeze drifts you along in an endless moment of warmth. All of a sudden you come back to yourself, realise the voices have faded away and the wind has picked up. You open your eyes to find you've drifted all the way out past the bay and now you're right over the deep, black, cool water and you've maybe got an unpleasant swim ahead of you.

I like sudden plunges into shocking cold. I like feet of clay that eventually crumble. I like the fly in the ointment, the twist in the tale.

And I think I'm going to be ordering some more William Maxwell books.

Because if you mean what I think you mean, my uncles are going to bitch-slap you.

Mr Half Soled Boots and I were watching Big Brother 9 a few nights ago. One of the houseguests, a Texan, is the last one left of the house's two obligatory gay guys. After behaving like an arrogant and duplicitous asshat for the last several weeks, then bursting into "crocodile tears" in a last desperate bid for votes, he finally got evicted. Once out of the house, he turned on the smarm full blast to charm the show's host, Julie Chen. He did the double-hand-handshake, flashed his too-white teeth and repeated the annoying and pervasive (and usually false) phrase, "it's all good".

Mr HSB snorted in disgust and remarked, "They're all arrogant like that."

I glanced at him and said suspiciously, "Who are 'all like that'?"

He shook his head, reached for another handful of popcorn, and said disdainfully, "Texans."

Saddle shopping, blech

It's time for a new saddle for Willow. My trusty Kieffer Wien fit her reasonably well as a gangly four-year-old, but now that she has filled out and muscled up, it sits on her wonky. I've been using a thick sheepskin to mitigate the less-than-ideal fit, but a recent visit from a saddler, who let me test drive one of his lovely, comfy creations, has finally convinced me it's time to make a change. Unfortunately I can't afford the comfy saddle.

I hate saddle shopping. There are too many choices, too many variables. The thoroughbred in Willow gives her a really high wither, and my father's side of the family gives me very long legs. We're both a tough fit.

Things You Notice Once You're Married

The most delightful surprise: Neil hums and sings under his breath. All the time. In the kitchen. In the bathroom. While ironing. In the hall outside our apt. (I always know it's him before he even gets to the door). It's so cute. Maybe it's one of those thing that, after years and years, will get on my nerves. But I doubt it. It's such a happy sound. I worry more that, after years and years, I will have beat down his spirit (kids could accelerate this process) to the point that he stops humming and singing. Then I'd feel really bad and sad, too. So here's to a joyful sound that I hope continues forever!

Status Quo

"That’s the biggest mess the world has seen!!!”
Mom yelled at me quite loud.
But it’s a new world’s record so you’d think that she’d be proud.

-Gregory K

(copied with implicit permission from here)

Ah, yes. Once again it is Messy Tuesday. I was so disorganised today I almost forgot to post about the disarray. Which, really, is a sign of undoubted success.

Let's start with something nice and light. One might call it an aperitif of disorder.

Toys are kind of a gimme for Messy Tuesday, if you're a household with kids. In this picture I particularly like how the Amy Morris doll is peering up at me like I've just caught her with her hand in the till. Actually her hand is in the lemonade stand. But you'll also note the roll of Christmas wrap, which really ought to be moved. I'll think about that while I show you this:

This is Mr HalfSoledBoots' side of the bed. I like the composition of this photo because a lot of different aspects of our lives are represented. You see the Bible there, in the black case - Religion. You see the blood pressure monitor and the empty Kleenex box - Health. There is the Usborne "Big Book of Picture Puzzles" - Family, and also Education. You see in the upper-left the upside-down witch hat belonging to Emily's Hallowe'en costume - Philosophy. Then there are the urban planning periodicals - Career. Lastly you have a little scrap of quilting fabric wrapped in a promotional band - Hobbies - and a pair of bobby pins - Personal Care.

(Admiring applause?)

I have saved the most desperate mess for last. You will probably think it's no big deal, but here is my craft corner:

I call this a Desperate Mess because of that wicker basket you see there. It's huge. It's about 40 centimeters deep, maybe 50 wide, and probably about 80 long. And it's packed so full that its density is probably distorting the gravitational pull of earth. I briefly thought about doing some calculation on the bulk density of X number of knitting projects in Y amount of space, but stopped when I began to bleed from the ears. Suffice it to say there is a lot of yarn there - the appearance of the topmost layer is deceptive - something like the placid surface of a cauldron pool under which some lethal and seething monster lies dormant.

Interestingly, I have been looking for my headphones for two days and it's only just now that I notice they're on top of the wicker white dwarf.

In the face of the mess - albeit contained - that the wicker basket represents, those sloppy-looking plastic bags, and the cardboard box in which my Starmore kit arrived and in which it still languishes, are laughable.

I showed you mine - now you show me yours.

Meme item number 6: I took first-year Astronomy in university. I got an A- in the course, and an A+ in the lab. It turns out Physics, like a lot of other things, is just about being careful and printing neatly. (Luckily I didn't take it long enough to explore more deeply and find out I am wrong, and stupid.)