Sunday, May 29, 2011

Drama and beauty

It was like this...
Actually, not really. Sam and I went for a hack with my riding instructor and her big horse yesterday. Sam got a fright and reared - only a little. Celine said his front hooves were about 2-3 feet off the ground. My face was brushed by mane. Scary! I hardly shifted in the saddle though, which was very fortunate. Sam is a bit of a drama queen when he gets a fright. Fortunately he has a really soft mouth, which means he responds well to the bit. Celine bought a new saddle which is going to be his one because it fits him perfectly. Great for me too because it is a dressage saddle. It is a fabric one rather than leather, so is really grippy. I'd stick Velcro on my bum and the saddle if I could. I feel exposed up so high without a harness or seat belt.

I would like to announce the best ever mandarin season is right now. Yum. They are like sweet bombs.
Today I got stuck into planting the last of my daffodils. It was exciting finding places for them, and there will be room for more next year. I labelled them with 2 different pens so am hoping I wont have a labeling fiasco like last year when the daffodil names, carefully written, disappeared in the first rain. Curses to Vivid markers. This year I used a Sharpie marker on one side, and a Procky marker on the other. There's a bit of colour in the garden. The polyanthus are always so pretty.
I'm not sure why I love them so much, but I just do.
Apple Blossom, a sasanqua camellia is out. The bush has doubled in size in a year, so I am very pleased with it. The blush of pink on white is so pretty.
And the anemones are going to be great this winter. I wonder if I should plant some more as they are gorgeous.
Now this little iris is very special because it was given to me by my friend Helen. Why is it out now? I think it is a special wee flower for Helen, who has been diagnosed with a melanoma and will be having surgery very soon.

Johnny's brother and his partner are staying this week. Then we've got my sister and her family for Queen's Birthday. A busy couple of weeks.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Over, so quickly

This weekend has just shot by. I'm truly amazed at how quickly it has gone. No time for photos. No gardening. Just riding, shopping and visitors. I did have a great last week. I'm feeling great at the moment, which is odd for me coming into winter. My riding is going brilliantly, and my instructor said I've got the potential to be a very good dressage rider, so she wants to work really hard with me. It is lovely to be learning with a real focus. I learned how to do a "leg yield" on Sam (see You Tube for the experts doing it). Basically Sam's body and head stay straight, but he moves in from the 1/4 line to the outside track on a diagonal, crossing his legs daintily over each other. I could do it at walk and sitting trot. My 'cello lessons are also going well and I'm enjoying practising. I love highly expressive pieces, especially moody ones in a minor key.

I'm so tired. I really feel like it is bedtime now. Not a good omen on a Sunday night. Let's not be negative. I could just do the sensible thing and miss House by going to bed before 8.30pm.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Appraisal Lesson

I thought I'd share with you just a part of my day. As you probably know I teach teenagers with intellectual disabilities, a diverse bunch of characters who are prone to behave badly at times. A couple of times a year we have our senior teacher come in to observe our teaching to make sure we are meeting the standards of a competent teacher. My senior teacher was a little late, thank goodness, because my one incontinent student pooed her nappy, which required an emergency clean-up job. We got everyone gathered, but one of my students decided he'd had a very distressing lunch hour and began bellowing and throwing things around the room. I got on with the lesson, and my senior teacher arrived amidst intermittent bursts of "NOOOOOO!!!" and strange noises being bellowed from a 15 year old with his head buried in the couch cushions. Then one of my girls started saying "I-pod, I-pod, I-pod" over and over and over, and another young man kept getting up because he wanted it to be home time because another teacher said he could have a treat from her at home time if he was good. I carried on bravely. Thankfully, apart from the total meltdown from the couch, we moved on and got on with the work I'd set up. My senior teacher thankfully saw the funny side and said "that's life," then wrote some lovely positive feedback. Meltdown Boy sat quietly for 10 minutes gazing into space after frantically beating up the couch at high volume. Then came over to his desk and said "scissors, cutting" and got on with his work (well, sat at his desk and became fascinated with smearing glue all over his paper while I talked him through the activity). Try dealing with that in the mainstream! So that was the appraisal lesson- a complete shambles. Just another day in my job.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Guess what I did... I cantered!!!! Sam didn't make it easy for me because he didn't want to canter so kept speeding up and up until his legs were flying as he trotted at high speed, and my backside bounced and bounced in the saddle. The problem with that is that it isn't easy to sit when trotting- that's why you "rise to the trot" - lifting yourself up and forward with the horse's strides. You have to sit to tell your horse to canter, but Sam decided that being a bugger was a better idea. I finally did one wonderful circuit - and had another wee burst as well. So I am very proud of myself. Onwards and upwards (well hopefully not upwards- that could be a bad idea). I celebrated by a visit to the Shetland paddock. They are delightful furry creatures. I adore them. I actually need a whole body transplant today- I've got sore muscles everywhere. Cantering is a tough business. Sorry no photos because Johnny was busy at home making the cutest little dog proof fence to give Mr Jasper his own private garden area around the back of the house. He used wee pickets.

Miss Dog doesn't care about the minor restriction to her movements. She loves her mummy.
And her blankets - note the slightly strained expression in her eyes- she seems a little uncomfortable under the glare of the camera lens.
Mr Jasper, however, is a pro when it comes to modelling.
Isn't he just lovely.
I'm a bit sad because he has licked a bald patch on one side. He had another one before he came here and the fur is growing back there, but he has started on the other side. He seems happy enough but I guess he's under a bit of stress with the change of lifestyle.
I've got my cauldron out and have been creating my most valuable medicine for good health- soup. My soup. Kind of a minestrone, but with some modifications. This year's brew has a few minor modifications. I've added chopped garlic cloves - 5 today, 4 long dried red chillies (not to be eaten) and some crushed coriander seeds- about a teaspoon. I love intense flavours and am working on finding an excellent way to push up the deliciousness of the brew.
Feijoas. Love them or hate them they are ripe in my garden. I fortunately love them, and have enjoyed finding them among the petunia foliage after they drop off the little trees at perfect ripeness.
I haven't even planted a new lot of anemones and last year's ones are starting to appear. Fabulous.

And a lovely autumn treat- raspberries. My raspberry canes are double fruiting. Actually I think the autumn crop is better than the summer one.

I wish tomorrow was another horse riding day, but I'll be back at school. We had a few unfortunate moments last week but you never know what will happen from day to day in my job. You've got to laugh and carry on.

My special thought of the week: If I can canter, you can do anything! Get out there and do something interesting.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


It has been horribly wet today. So no exciting photos or activities. We took a quick trip to do a couple of jobs and I got a cardigan, a dress and two tops from Ezibuy and Postie Plus. Good for school. I was supposed to have a riding lesson but it was too slippery underfoot and as Celine wanted me to start cantering it was too dangerous. Her all-weather arena is going in in three weeks time. She is really excited. I am hoping she decides a foam pit for stunts would be a good addition before next week when my next lesson is scheduled.

Mr Jasper piddles a lot. And he poos every night. It is very smelly. We're hoping to get him using the outdoor facilities as soon as possible. Johnny poked him out the catdoor today, amidst a selection of hisses and foul cat language. He then went for a little walk in the garden before coming back indoors for a civilised nap. We're getting another cat door put into the garage so that he can have a safe area away from Miss Dog down the back of the house. He hates her with a passion, and at 17 I'm not imaging changing his mind is going to be a simple affair. We'll allow him the run of the garage and garden along the back of the house during work days, and he can have the run of the house and his catdoor from my craft room into the rest of the back garden when we are home. We don't want his cat toilet tray to be the smelly curse of our lives. He gets so many loves and cuddles that we can't feel guilty about his time in the garage. I love standing in front of the mirror with him in my arms so that I can marvel at his ginger hugeness.

School was great. We've got a lovely rhythm going that suits us all. We have a few dramas but nothing nasty.

Hopefully I'll get into the garden for a wee while tomorrow, if the weather permits.