My Voice, Part One

Every attempt I’ve made to maintain steady blogging, especially post college, has slowly petered off and eventually abandoned. Unlike some friends and almost friends that also blog who manage to keep one single blog going, every time I return is more starting over, new name, new fonts, a fresh face that follows the same pattern. I’m not committing to anything this time around (even though I paid for WordPress again), but with everything going on in the world and my personal life I still feel that itch to get my voice down on paper or through the keyboard.

I have noticed that the blogs I enjoy reading the most have a more or less coherent theme, whether it be about books, long form essays, or horses. For myself, there’s two main things I want to write about; I have my own horse now (for the first time!), so there’s a ton to explore and keep track of and learn there. But, back to the whole “state of the world” thing, I want to toss my voice into the void about such fundamental things as the state of our democracy, the world I want my son to grow up and become an adult in, and where my life and choices fit into that larger (and undeniably privileged) framework. Plus random other things like book reviews, fumbling attempts at cooking, navigating home ownership, setting up my rig for horse camping…things I want to share without FB owning and playing corporate games with my stuff. Sounds like two totally separate blogs right?

Being only one busy lady and based on my past attempts, keeping up blogging is an uphill battle between my time, my desires and everyone in my life I jiggle around, so we’ll see how this one goes.

Pretty horse photo cause blogs without photos aren’t as fun usually

To start with the second topic (since I’m travelling for work and stuck in conference rooms 700 miles from my horse), my boss and I grabbed dinner after an 11 hour day for both of us. I support my company’s EHS team, which is heading our response to the corona-virus outbreak (we have customers and therefore employees supporting those customers in Wuhan), so that’s led to long days with no signs of slowing for my team. My boss tossed me into the daily meeting with folks whose titles are no less than two to three levels above mine for, quote, “Being the most reliable and up to date on this stuff.” His confidence helps mine, but man can it get rough!

Decompressing at Claim Jumpers over bourbon and a mock-tail, respectively, we touched on such light, work appropriate topics as our families genetic history, career plans and trajectories, and of course politics…but not about the current impeachment clusterfuck or specific policies.

My high school boyfriend had a karate teacher who was friends with an akido instructor who had a huge influence on how I deconstruct arguments and what points I dig for in such discussions. Even as a teenager I picked up not to go after the fluff of things or get overly sidetracked by tangents, but to dig until the root cause or point was found. Debating with him over email on such topics as religion and politics helped immensely, and I remain grateful for those conversations to this day.

Not to say I didn’t go through the typical teenage and young adult growing periods of false logic, grasping at straws and taking uninformed or ill-informed stands, but we all have to go through that so I try not to beat up myself too much for those much more idealistic days.

Last night with my boss, I wasn’t going after the fluff-my questions (in part informed by this recent series by ‘The New Yorker’), were along the lines of “Can a true, fundamentally fair democracy thrive with a capitalist economy?”, “How do we move on from a two party system?”, “How do we teach our kids to debate and disagree without hating the other person or group?” The point wasn’t to stump each other or argue for one side or the other, but to inch towards that last point; disagreeing without relegating the other side as a bad person.

I’m about to board my flight home (woot!) So more on this vein later!

Mrs. Morse

I started today single, and ended as a Mrs.

What does one say about ones wedding day, especially one whipped up in two weeks and held in a judge’s chambers on his lunch break?

I know two main things: our family and friends are rockstars all, for whom we are deeply and abiding grateful, and I love my new husband, the same but different as I did this morning.

I’m sure I will have new words as the shock and joy quiets, as we take our first steps in this old and weird and brand new tradition, but for now the sun shining on our day full of love is enough, and more than enough.

Joy

I write this with joy in my heart. A tired joy, comfortable and welcome. I set everything aside yesterday and played hooky from work (using up leave time) to spend the day sans phone and any responsibilities with my son.

I can get too caught up in my goals, keeping the house clean, walking the dog, paying bills and all the rest of it and forget to enjoy the whip smart, silly kid I’m raising. I know a good chunk of the rest of the world can’t just turn things off for a day, but I can only live my life.

We spent the day in our swim gear at the Winds N Waves Waterpark, and it was quite simply one of our best days in a long stretch, and badly needed. We swam in the vortex pool, flew yelling down the water slides and relaxed in the crowded hot tub. Never once did I have to raise my voice or an eyebrow; we just hung out and enjoyed each other, only giggles, no cross words or chores.

On the drive home we were both quiet, sipping our Dutch Bros drinks and trying not to fall asleep. I was happy, and so was Kade. I was happy, without reservation or worry or anxiety.

I hadn’t realized how big the weight I’d been carrying as a result of my job in the psychiatric hospital has been. Now that I’m leaving, I can finally take a deep breath. Not only have I turned in my two weeks notice, but the job I’m going to is a complete 180 from the hospital. I’m supporting my old boss and doing the work I’m discovering I’m best at, logistics and organizing and making things smooth and straight forward. It’s a relief to be working for someone who thinks I kick ass, instead of those who hate the change I bring.

Joy is also tasty homemade food with best friends, hitting up the nickel arcade and super tasty ice cream to announce and celebrate our upcoming elopement.

Life is rainy but good!

Easy like Sunday morning

Say what you will about Facebook and their questionable business practices, today I’m thankful for the ability to connect with a wide range of people.

This weekend has been full of spending money and giggling like a little girl, but it’s not Jokker’s fault this time. In response to my last post, a friend suggested I contact a boxer breeder she knew of who had an older dog looking for a new home (a million thanks Ann!)

Based on the cat’s still roundly pissy yowling whenever Cyrus gets too close (he isn’t scared, just mad he’s not an only furry animal in the house now) it may be too early to declare total victory on the dog acquisition front, but in only a day we’ve made adorable headway.

Cyrus is the same age as Kade, coming six years old, already a distinguished gentleman with impeccable manners and a tendency for carrying stuffies around in his mouth. He’s a super cuddler with a soft mouth and needing a soft place to land (he prefers the couch to the super highly rated dog bed I found on Amazon). Kade is already smitten, Tom is being won over by Cyrus doing his best to ignore said pissy cat, and strangers stop and they comment on his handsomeness on our walks.

I know there are a lot of heavy, terrible things racketing around the world these past few weeks, and I’ve given what blood and help I can. In our little corner of the world, our hearts are quietly full, and I’ve made at least one little boy tremendously happy. Coupled with a heavy headed snoring dog, tasty coffee, Tom home from South Korea and a new job to start at tomorrow, life is pretty excellent!

Wiggle butts

If you hate being spammed by lots of happy dog and kid photos, or wish to ignore my search for the perfect dog, or point out that there are more important things to be focusing on these days….that last may be true, but today all I can focus on is trying to make life a little better for my own corner of the world, and raising my son to be a helper.

A few years ago, I had the joy of being able to foster several boxers until they were adopted, and when Tom and I moved into together we made the agreement to wait to adopt a dog until we a.) Had a house with a yard and B.) Were fairly job solvent (as much as can be in this crazy world).

Help me bring this scene back to my world!

We’ve been renting our current house for a year, just signed a lease for another and gained landlord approval, and I was finally able to work my way up to a permanent job with the State! I’ve been on several careful shopping sprees to father supplies, lectured the kid on the rules and responsibilities of the dog (and planned matching kid and dog Halloween costumes, what else but Pokemon?). The only thing we lack….Is a dog!

So, internet, Facebook friends, and other awesome peoples, please help us keep a look out for our perfect dog! Since we both work full time, have a giant white cat, and this will mostly be a kid companion, we are looking for an adult house trained dog, preferably a boxer as I can’t resist a wiggle butt! We do have applications into several local rescues, but this is spreading the net even wider.

Thank you all, and go snorgle your fuzzies or wiggly kids or teddy bears!

Stressed Out

Today’s post is brought to you by the six year old’s current favorite song, “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. He informed me of this as we drove home from our favorite burger place, Mike’s in Oregon City, all the windows and sun roof open to the mostly smoke free, blessedly cool night air, singing at the top of our lungs to the dusky sky.

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

gorge

It’s been a stressful first week; trying to find a routine to settle back into, our backyard of the beautiful Columbia River Gorge is on fire, ash is falling from the sky,  Tom’s work is going through changes, and I started with a new department to discover a bombshell; the manager who hired me is out for a month long FMLA leave, with three days of training! I had a few more interviews and still no bites outside of OHSU, so looks like I’m settling in for a few more months at least, at which point something’s gotta give.

But it would remind us of when nothing really mattered
Out of student loans and tree-house homes we all would take the latter

gorgehike

So many others have written about the very real grief about the fire in the Gorge; all I could do is echo them. I’ve had the privilege to have worked, travelled through, camped, hiked, and photographed that beautiful, carefully protected area for half my life. Kade’s been visiting there most of his young life, including several hikes, even the haul up to the top of Multnomah Falls! He’ll never quite remember it’s full glory, but we’ll help with the efforts to restore it to health.

russelkadegorgegalenkadegorge

What more needs to be said at this point, while the fire still burns and we wait to see if some teenager’s lives will be upended by their stupid choices and the actual witch hunt out for (unreasonable) blood? We can mourn the loss of such of treasures, the tragedy of such choices and their impact without ruining lives. We can take time, a pause to reflect on what the actual best course is from here, not howl our anger at the universe.

tunnel

A good caramel milkshake and a dance party at full volume with the kid helped set things to rights, and there is at least one thing to look forward to: A dog! The landlord approved us to adopt a boxer, so now we’ve just got to scrub and rearrange every corner of the house, tell an uncomprehending Wilson a thousand times he’s not an only pet anymore, purchase a bunch of stuff and wait for the right dog for us to be found. So if anyone has some dog gear I could snag for cheap, let us know, it’d be a huge help!

We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away

 

IMG_9509

View from the ground

Life has tossed a few loops at me this summer, from Kade's second broken arm, job loss and Tom hopping back and forth to Phoenix, not to mention the unreasonable heat and wildfire smoke hanging over everything. I'm writing this on my friend's living room, PNER Green Bean mug full of coffee in one hand, kid playing on his iPad and stuffing his face full of bagels and remarking on the ducks once again taunting the dogs.

I picked up blogging (again!) as a way to remain somewhat publicly accountable for my new exercise plan. Since my last post I've only put in two solid bike rides, although I've been working out a different way; horse back riding, schooling horses in the ring, on my feet or in the saddle a good chunk of the day.

I have so many horse people I look up to, from the newly Tevis buckled Jala Neufeld to my old Fjord and Dales farm owner Marcy Baer, still going strong in Vermont. I have long held an educational view, accepting I will never know everything about horses, but by golly I'll spend a lifetime trying. Due to this I always look around the horse world from a learner's mindset, hoovering up everything and filing things away for later. I rarely toss anything out as complete hogwash, always mindful of the
occasionally huge leaps between disciplines.

There are a few basic things I hold to as someone whose goal is to be called 'horsewoman', mainly being mindful of the horse's point of view in what we ask them to do; letting predators on their backs, trailering to strange places, tolerating everything we toss at them, and always trying to keep their comfort levels in their terms in mind.
So for someone who still and always views themselves as a learner, it's taken some doing to gracefully accept that in a small way, I do have some wisdom and knowledge to share.
(I swear this isn't a humble brag post, stick with me!)

Since my day job was cut, I've been spending the bulk of my days helping a friend with her still relatively new boarding facility up in Washington. And by helping I mean giving lessons, evaluating horses, and giving horses some tune ups. Me, giving lessons! Helping other people not only be better riders, but figure out how to enjoy their horses more.
Despite the heat, long hours on my feet, a general weird feeling to be teaching people *cough* mildly older than myself, and a weird case of what was probably pink eye…. I've loved every moment of it, of watching concepts click in someone's mind or seat, of hearing owners gush over how much calmer their horse is. Even Tom has seen how much calmer and happier and flat out excited I am, and is fully supportive of trying to make this training concept work, however we can.

I've been in full on research mode the past few weeks, reading and plotting and mulling ideas about *gulp* setting up an actual horse business. I have already identified my niche- kids and reriders or older new riders, people who want to work on themselves and making their lives with their horses easier and more enjoyable. I know where my gaps are as a rider and horse person, which is why I'm as dedicated to learning as ever. I still have big goals for myself (Tevis 2020 anyone?) but this doesn't discount what I do know.

Part of this post was to finally process how I feel about the whole experience (weird! Excited! Happy!) but also toss my little shingle into the wide ring of horse people in the Pacific Northwest. If you find yourself looking for lessons or boarding near Olympia Washington, give T and A Ranch a look. It's the facility I would build given the time and inclination, and it's a fantastic place to learn to ride or keep working on things 🙂

See ya on the trail!

Back in the saddles!

Are we going to talk about how long it’s been since I last posted? 

Nope, except to say that life is busy as it is for everyone, and I have a new job that demands so much more brain power than my old one…Which, unfortunately, I am loosing after this week due to budget cuts. I am, of course, going through the stages of grieving over it, since this is the best team I’ve worked with since college.

No, the reasons I’ve decided to devote some time to writing here are many, mostly focused on self improvement through accountability. If I can consistently post here, doing so will help keep my goals and steps towards those goals front and center, where even people outside my immediate circle can help keep me accountable ttowards them. 


My primary goal for this endurance riding season, the real goal that pushes everything else, is to complete a 50 mile ride. It’s July and the PNW season ends, more or less, in October. I have completed one 25 mile ride and felt great, fully embeddeding the endurance bug once again. 


A large part of my success at that ride came down to two main factors; a wonderful mentor and an utterly forgiving horse with a build that carried a heavyweight rider without issue. Jokker is amazing horse and I’m privileged to be able to ride him, but as a catch rider I would like for a few more doors to be open to me. Expanding my options entails loosing weight (my eventual goal is to ride as a midweight, preferably by next season), gaining strength and riding ability. 

As I am facing uncertain employment, I can’t shell out for lessons right now, but I have all the tools available to work on the first two. Through extensive trial and error, I’ve found what works for me to keep moving towards those goals; primarily hiking and biking. I loath running; I just can’t stick with it, as sweaty and slow and jiggly as all the various bits of me right now. Swimming costs money to belong to a local pool, being stuck in the gym around strangers is boring and unmotivating, and even plain walking is just ugh. 


Thanks to a birthday gift from my parents, I’ve discovered I actually love biking, as it allows me to go a lot father and faster than my own two feet, carrying more gear, with a lot less jiggly and rubbing parts. The one issue is it’s not super cheap, between maintenance and new gear to make things a bit more comfortable. I weigh every purchase with a thought to my ultimate goal; will a new bike seat help me get more miles in to be fitter for a 50? 

I am also lucky in that Canby is a surprisingly good town to bike ride in. There are certainly some roads leading out of town I’m not up for trying yet, but most roads have bike lanes or wide  shoulders, plus their is a beautiful multi-use path without cars that cuts right through town. I can just hop on the bike and go, without having to drive somewhere and park (which I still do if only for variety). 

I am also keeping a private journal in Evernote, which I use everyday for tracking mental headspace, measurements, food and workouts, as well as various apps such as Map My Ride and My Fitness Pal. I’ve started and lost motivation on several workout plans over the years, but most of them were running based. I think having a clear and attainable endurance goal in mind and a biking based workout plan will help get me there, as well as more public accountability. 


My next possible endurance ride is Santiam Cascade in a month, with the incomparable Jokker once again on deck. I also want to be prepared to jump on any chance offered, without doing a disservice to any offered horse. 

For now, Santiam is in my sights and I can’t wait!

Just take a breath

I have so many things to write about, from my trip to see Odysseo, camping with friends, and *gasp* firearms, but this is what made it out through a crazy week that ain’t over yet….
So I’ve been sharing a bunch of happy pictures on Instagram lately, full of good food (baked eggs, steak, grilled chicken, campfire sausages) & enjoyable events (camping, Crater Lake, road trips, friends, Tom home).
Yesterday was a bit trickier. And by trickier I mean flat out exhausting.
Tom’s alarm went off at 3 freakin’ am, for his flight back to San Jose leaving at 6am. I always try to go back to sleep but this one is hard, as he’ll be gone for three weeks this time.
I eventually got me & the kid up & going, to drop him off with a friend to be taken to school so I could high tail it to Salem for an appointment. I made it into work just after 11am & worked my six hours, clocking off after 5 when traffic is at it’s most vicious. I picked up my kid who looked as tired as I did, fighting traffic all the way to the grocery store only to find they were out of the one thing I actually needed-Bailey’s coffee creamer. By now it’s pushing 630 & I’ve been loaded up on coffee & Goldfish all day, so instead of the ‘cooking’ I was planning to do (chicken salad sandwiches) we swung by those big Golden Arches & loaded up on processed meat & salt for dinner.
This, of course, mildly overjoyed my offspring, but my fogged up brain considered how unsnobbed I’ve become. Just over five years ago, my son was born at my ex-MIL’s organic farm in Vermont, where we tried to eat as local & low impact as possible. Before that I’d spent four years at the hippiest college around, again eating as local as possible, including what the school farm grew. We still ate fast food, but it was few & far between, considering the effort necessary to drive nearly half an hour over backcountry roads to the nearest one, which I didn’t even like.
Now I’m shoving McDonalds in my face at 8pm on a Tuesday night, a meal so quickly cleaned up & yet will live in my thighs for weeks. I’m sure there’s more of a lesson there, but the one I take from it is I have to plan my meals better, both to avoid the McD in the future, & save the money as well. But sometimes, you just don’t have the extra umph to deal with it all, & that’s okay too.
dinner

Dani California

It really hit home for me when I changed the timer on our automatic coffee pot. When Tom’s home, I set it for 525am, so it’s just finishing up when he leaves for work about 15 minutes later. The pot stays warm until I empty it an hour later. But I set it to turn on at 625 now, because there’s no reason for it to sit for over an hour before I leave. 

Tom’s staying in California for work until (at least) mid August, very possibly longer. We’ll see him a few times here & there, but for now I have an apartment that suddenly feels bigger & more echoing & Facetime. And lots of annoying emoji texting.


As sorry as I feel for the fact I’m suddenly responsible for all the things again (including feeding myself & the kid, really universe?) I know I can’t whine too much. We’re both employed, still have roofs over our heads, & Tom’s company feels strongly enough to spend almost my annual salary to keep him around (they legit just gave him a company credit card for the summer).

Tom was talking about signs last night over Facetime, while I did the dishes, the kid brushed his teeth (now minus one!) & the giant white lump of a cat supervised. We were in the process of lining things up to buy a house this year, had just hooked up with a real estate agent & now Tom’s gone for the summer. So maybe the universe says wait?  


On the other hand, if Tom is gearing up to being gone a bit more often, I’d like to get things as settled as they can be now. What I really, really, really want to avoid is moving Kade in the middle of the school year, & our lease is up in March, & month to month rent is $100 bucks more than a lease. But to break our lease is also a ridiculous amount of money. And the Salem market is set to creep up now that Portland is a nut case. 

Plus, just having a house, even if it’s not much more space or even the same level of updates as our apartment, would be a huge thing for us all. A yard for Kade to be loud in, a garage for Tom to change oil in, & a pantry I can Pintrest organize to my heart’s content, plus stable payments? 

So the search continues, just a lot more slowly than before. And with more (quiet) I miss my big cuddly bear man whining.