Sunday, March 30, 2014

Feeling Blue

Curses. I've got a yucky cold. I have a non stop nose drip and feel grouchy. There have been some lovely moments this weekend, in spite of my nose feeling like it has been sandpapered. I woke up this morning, and these beauties were looking divine. The blue is just stunning. 

Yesterday Johnny came out with me to see the horsey girls. Zanny has been recovering from lameness so I decided to groom her, but not ride, and was able to bring Tara in with her with Johnny's help. Tara loved having a good brush, and Zanny seemed happy to have her company in the yard. Today I test rode Zanny to see how she has recovered, and we got the all clear from the expert, and had a lovely gentle potter in the arena and down the drive. I was very pleased because she was told she is looking fat - not something she has ever really been before. She has quite a light build, and going into winter, being plump is a very good thing. Tara is also looking fat and happy. I always wish I could look through her tummy to see the developing foal deep inside. 

Zanny was in a daft mood today. She took a look at the wee mini pony boarding in the paddock next to the stable yard and her eyes were on stalks. What the Hell is THAT!!!!!???? Funny how miniature ponies look like monsters to big horses who are not used to them. Apparently pigs and alpacas are also considered up there with lions and tigers in the scary department too. Zanny also decided that people moving around making noises at the end of the pine tree lane were petrifying, so we had a wee discussion about going that way. She said it was a very bad idea, and I insisted that we were not going anywhere else. We are getting there with our spook battles. I just have to remember to sit deep and hold her head steady the way I want to go. Her back end can swivel a bit but she can't spin on me. Once she settles I can then gently press her on with my legs. See, not scary at all! Well, I pretend it isn't, but between you and me, I do have to tell myself to breathe. 

Mr Mouse has been a jolly little man this weekend. He helped me with the garden, and was chief supervisor in my craft room. I was dabbling with my overlocker. I love the neat seams it produces, even if Mouse looks rather indignant at the noise it makes. When I finally make something I can actually wear with it, I'll show you. I made another sack of a muslin (a trial of a dress pattern). It looked fine on my dressmaker's form, Ruby, but I seem to be a different shape in some areas. I think that even though the bust measurement is the same as mine, my chest is smaller, but boobs bigger. My shoulders seem to be narrower too, although I haven't measured them. Anyway, I am doing well with losing some weight, long may it continue, so I have decided to shelve the clothes sewing experiments and focus on finishing a pile of quilt projects lurking in various corners of the workroom. 

I'm also getting into the knitting again. I was sick of dishcloth making after two, and am now working on long fingerless gloves. They will basically be a long tube with a hole in the seams for my thumbs. 

I'm doing a 2x2 rib and might shape into the wrists with smaller needles. Or not. 

I am working on the back of a wee quilt using some gorgeous birdie fabric from my stash. Time to bust the miniscule yarn stash, and relatively modest fabric stash. 

It is no good hoarding stuff until:
- It is no longer fashionable. 
- You can't stand the sight of it. 
- You have never used it in spite of several suitable projects because you might need it for something else one day. 
- Things fall out of the stash cupboard whenever you open the door. 
- You hit menopause and still haven't used the sweet children's fabric you got at a great price for the child you never had. Still a bit of time there but definitely no child on the cards. 
- You feel guilty buying new amazing fabric because the stash looms in your mind as you are admiring it. 
Time to use as much of my craft stash as I can before I turn into one of those crazy hoarding people you see on TV. At least horses are a bit harder to hoard. I did spot two gorgeous horses on Trade Me that would be perfect for me. Don't worry Zanny, you are my number one. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mouse in a basket

Zanny has a sore leg. I am sad that she is hurt. It isn't serious, and you can't tell unless she is trotting, but I am still worried about my best horse girlfriend. I rode her today and she felt stiff, looked stiff, and when I got someone to have a look sure enough, she was lame. She will have a few days rest, new shoes and some stuff to help her heal up, and we will start with some quiet plodding when she is ready. There is plenty we can do together even if she is out of action for a week. 

Mr Mouse has discovered my cane washing baskets are a lot of fun. 

I love my animal friends so much! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Zanny redeems herself

Two blog entries in one day. Well, you don't get photos with this one. I was so pleased with Mrs Zanny today that she deserves a mention. I'm sure that after reading that she was ill mannered yesterday you couldn't possibly think of anything else until the situation was resolved. I was a bit put out by the whole thing because we have been going so well. Speed control has been lovely, and we have been working hard on my balance. Yesterday just getting from one place to the next without snorts and eyes on stalks was tricky. And she had one speed at trot - fast. Not only fast but fast with zoomy short steps so I was forced to do my rising trot at high speed. Not good for balance. 

The other notable event during our Saturday ride was one of her super spooks taking place in the arena. If she's going to spook the arena is a safer place for her to do it, but suddenly spotting nothing (but possibly a big tiger that is going to eat us both) during a high speed trot, shooting sideways, then spinning around to face the other way is a very naughty thing to do. I made her repeat the same circle at walk and trot until she gave up snorting and peering in horror at the corner of the arena. 

We finished our ride yesterday with a reasonable trot circle (quick- out of there on a good note before it all turns to custard again).

 I was really disappointed, but decided it must be the flush of green growing after the big rains and though we'd be just the same today. But no, I had a different horse with the same name! Calm, sensible, obedient, trotting beautifully, circling easily and generally being my lovely girl again. Weird. I even worked on my canter, almost losing a stirrup at canter for the first time, and wrenching my shoulder blade in the process as I tried to keep my foot in place (????? what?????). I am the only person I know who can damage a body part completely unrelated to the part doing all the work. It didn't matter. I thought a neck strap might come in useful for canter training, so I must remember to dig one out. 

We might be off to our first dressage competition in about three weeks, if I can enter doing a walk trot test. We are not tidy at canter yet, so that will have to wait. There are only two walk trot tests, and the competition is not running a class at that level, but the organisers may allow me to do my own wee class. Then we have to enter the big time and do canter. At the moment it feels like my backside is like a rubber ball bouncing with every stride. 

So Zanny is my star again. I also got to meet the dear new wee baby on the farm. No, not a foal, a real, human baby. She is a wee poppet with lots of dark hair, and rosebud lips. Three days old. I wonder what the future holds for her. I look forward to being around to find out. 

Tale of woe

Today I want to share with you scenes rarely gracing the pages of blogs. Blogs are usually, in my experience, places to share the lovely corners fo life. Successful craft projects, pretty displays, happy days out and gracious living. Now, I must confess, my life is full of crappy creations, messy corners, and unruly gardens. My horse was ill mannered on our ride yesterday. My dog sometimes poos in the garage, and my cat uses my raised gardens as his personal ablutions block. We wont even mention what the dog thinks of that! If you think your garden is your personal Hell, and weeds were put on Earth to destroy your spirit, I've got some good news for you. You are not alone.

I present the evidence:
The lavender border. 

Neat rosemary mounds with rose bush between. 

Equally neat rosemary mounds with rose in between. 

Orderly climbing roses espaliered on the fence. 

Carefully pruned rose bush. 

Perfect and productive glasshouse. 

Lovely plump tomatoes.

Fat, healthy cabbages.

Not a weed in sight.
Tidy fruit bushes.

Healthy vegetable plants flourishing. 
Things growing that you expected (lovely plump red onions, where are you?)
Vegetables all eaten happily by family and friends. No waste at all.

I think it might be time to retire from work or gardening. Hopeless. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


We are expecting a tropical cyclone to intrude upon our autumnal landscape over the next 48 hours. We don't know how bad the winds and rain will be, but we do know that Christchurch has slumped in places due to the earthquakes, and is not able to contain large amounts of water falling from the sky all at once. We recently had some very rainy days, and many houses were flooded. We are fine where we are, but we do have some big gum trees along the back which can be alarming in strong winds. 

This not so young lady had a thorough checkup today:

She almost died last year, so we are grateful for our time together. Miss Dog has some kind of liver disease. It may be a benign condition, or could be malignant. As we will not put her through a biopsy, we don't know for sure. She had an ultrasound today which showed her liver is very large and not normal. She has growths in her liver and the texture is abnormal. We already knew she had some abnormal items in her liver but whatever it is seems to be more widespread. The amazing thing is that her liver blood panel is massively improved on the last test, so her liver is still working away. We are having further tests which will show the level of lymphocytes in her blood, which, if high, would indicate malignancy. If that is the case, she probably wont be with us for a long time, but if she is just living with a benign liver disease, she could live on for quite some time. She needs to be cared for a little like an immunosuppressed doggy, and her liver needs to be protected from stress, but it really has been a good day. Big hugs to Miss Dog's special Auntie Em for her wonderful vet care at the Hornby Vet Clinic. Sorry for another stinky arse gland squeezing session. 

Zanny was also having a good day. I still find myself sitting up comfortably on her unable to believe I am actually in the saddle on the most amazing horse, and that she is mine. We worked on some skills in the arena today. I need to apologise to Zanny for my frightful seat at canter. Zanny has a stiff canter and I was bouncing like a jackhammer on the first attempt. After a couple more tries we went down the long side of the arena in a more presentable manner. Thank goodness for the nice thick padded pad we use under the saddle and on top of our saddle blanket. There is a dressage event in about a month  that I could go to with friends, so we need to keep up the good work. 

Well, I think it might be a hunkering down kind of day tomorrow. One good thing about working is that you appreciate the weekends so much. You sleep in and relish every moment of freedom before the week begins again. I am also grateful for the wonderful people I work with, and love the creative opportunities my work presents. I am also extremely thankful that work has allowed me to have Zanny, to take Miss Dog in for as many tests as she needs without worrying about the bill at the end, and to think about achieving some more things on my Bucket List. I don't dwell on the idea of dropping dead one day, but I am afraid of not living fully before I die. I'm glad I have really thought about this because I am determined that I will try to celebrate life each and every day. 

Ooooh I'm getting all deep and meaningful today. 
We love you darling!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

It feels like jet lag

I am struggling a bit with the dark, dark mornings now the season is changing. I do love Autumn, as the days can be so lovely, but getting up is horrible. Mr Mouse let me have two sleep-ins this weekend, but I still feel clogged up in my brain.

I might not have been the sharpest, but I did have two fantastic rides with Mrs Zanny. Yesterday we worked in the arena, and I worked hard on my trotting skills- rhythm, speed, balance and position. I did some sitting trot, which means staying firmly in the saddle, instead of rising up and down with each stride. Zanny has a great trot for sitting trot, and I had so much fun I was giggling away. I crossed the stirrups over and did some walking around the arena to work on balance. Maybe we'll start trotting without stirrups soon. We also worked on cantering, which is always a bit hairy, but I just need to do more of it. Zanny is stumbling much less, thank goodness, so I am more happy to work on cantering. It is alarming when her back legs falter under her at speed. 

Today we headed out along the road again, and succeeded in passing the spooky hay shed without any trouble. The bird scarer went off right near to us, and although Zanny jumped, she didn't try to head for home today. What a good girl. The ride at the beach really boosted my confidence, and she is happier as a result. 
There really isn't much to report around here. We have settled into a weekend routine of housework, gardening, riding, visitors for afternoon tea then dinner. By then we are both pretty tired and ready for a quiet evening. We did go out on Friday night to Costa's Taverna and had a tasty Greek style dinner. They do mini desserts, which are little versions of their big puddings, and just right after a big feed. I love pudding, but I usually don't need it after a restaurant main meal, so the dear little chocolate mousse encased in a chocolate shell was utterly delicious. Next time we go there I'd be tempted to just have an entree and a big chocolate mousse pudding- yum!!!

Wish I had a pudding now. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Yuck, the weather has been vile today. 
Gales and heavy rain. Puddles and mud. Cold seeping into bones. Day four of autumn. 
Mr Mouse is horrified. 
Miss Dog zoomed outside and brought her chewy ball inside to keep her happy this evening. She's far too busy to smile for the camera. 

My students made delicious apple crumble today. Three of us rugged up and ran out to the apple tree in the classroom backyard to pick enough apples for a big crumble. The tree is an oldie but a goodie, that has delicious eating apples that seem to work fine for cooking as well. They have rather a lot of black spot, but that never put me off an apple before. Apple and blueberry muffins tomorrow. 

Monday, March 3, 2014


Don't look too hard, I'm just getting back into my knitting rhythm. I am really enjoying adding row after row as I watch my favourite television programmes. Yes, I love tv. After a big day I really love blobbing on the couch, pottering away on something crafty and watching something entertaining. My current favourites are forensic and crime dramas, like CSI and Person of Interest and also Doc Martin and some things on the Discovery Channel. There are lots of things I would like to watch, but compromise is the way to a happy marriage. 

On the news front, Zanny's horsey friend was looking much, much better this morning. It is a very chilly day, so hopefully he is tucked up in the stables. I called the saddlery today to check on the arrival time of the winter covers and should be able to pick one up for Mrs Zanny on Wednesday. I have been given instructions on what to purchase, and the weather has really turned nasty and cold, so am really anxious to get one onto her as quickly as I can. There are extra underrugs she can wear to snuggle up in if it snows, so I won't need to buy one of those. I am benefitting from all of the rugs Em has won in the big competitions over the years. 

We went for a walk along the beach today. We took my class out, thinking it could be quite stormy and entertaining but the sun came out instead (even better) and it felt rather warm shining off the sand. I love the beach, and everyone else seemed to have fun too. No storm, but we got a good walk and explore in. I hope the rest of the week is full of fun activities. Yes, I do decide what we do most of the time, but there are a lot of variables, and it can all turn to custard quite easily. 

Brrrrr. If this is Autumn, I think we are in for a very cold winter. 

Back to the knitting ... 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Crabapples and horses

I picked crabapples off my tree today. I am giving them to my dear friend, who will hopefully get the chance to turn them into jelly. Well, she will be more likely than me. They are lovely fat crabapples that make your mouth pucker a little, but can actually be munched like a wee regular apple, if you don't mind a bit of sourness. I'm unlikely to challenge myself to get through a big bag myself, so jelly it is. 

I attempted to weed the rest of the front border, but was beaten by the grass from the lawn that has encroached into the garden and tangled its way through everything. I gave it a good go, but need to give the soil a good soak, then attack it again. I came across lots of bulbs, and discovered rather a lot of bulb fly grubs lurking in sad squishy bulb carcasses. The grubs got what they deserved. 

I have had a remarkably successful weekend with my darling Mrs Zanny. I gained to much confidence last week at the beach, and she responded so well. I confess I did watch some Jody Hartstone videos which gave me some great ideas. Jody is a New Zealand Grand Prix dressage rider and coach, and she made so much sense. I undid some things I learned at riding school because I realised I was confusing Zanny, which was contributing to my speed problems. Today I had consistent rhythm at trot, beautiful big circles exactly where I wanted them plus I cantered confidently (well sort off). I was thrilled. 

Zanny and I rode over to pay our respects to darling Ben, who is now buried facing the arena, in a special place. The beach ride I went on last weekend was Ben's last, and it was a miracle that he was well enough to canter along beside Zanny and Frank, play in the waves, and have some good rolls in the sand. His heart was in terrible shape, and he had other recurring problems. It was a bit of a calculated risk taking him out, but so worthwhile because he had a wonderful time. Zanny and I will make regular visits to his grave. Ben was incredibly talented and such a character. He will be missed so much. 

It has been a sad time for another precious person too. She had to say goodbye to her darling pony. Life and genetics can be so cruel. Right now I'm also very worried about Zanny's special horse friend, who suddenly became acutely ill, and looked very miserable today, connected to two huge bags of saline. His mummy is frantic with worry. 

On the home front, our child, Mr Tiger (not sure Mouse suits him now), caught a poor wee chaffinch today. Or maybe he found it after it hit a window. It had a broken neck, and was still warm. He didn't get a chance to eat it because he foolishly brought it in to show it to the family. We were not amused.

It was a bit of a stressful week last week at work. Hopefully the first week of autumn will bring good things. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014


We are at the end of a lovely summer, and now the weather is cooling. Zanny had to wear a winter cover for the first time this year last night. I need to get her a new one because her old one is grotty. I put the winter one back on for tonight because it will be quite chilly. 

Zanny and I had a lovely ride in the arena today. She tried it on with the spooky business, but I was ready for her and insisted that she was not going to be eaten by a bike lying on the ground, or a jump made of tyres. I did a bit of practise with my stirrups crossed over the saddle to work on my balance. It was fun!!!! I realised after our beach ride that I take riding far too seriously, and am determined to have fun and relax more. The beach ride gave me a much needed boost in confidence. 

The Crafty Neighbour and I are back into knitting again now that the weather is cooling. I have been spending far too much time messing around on the internet and not enough time creating. We are both making dishcloths to get back into our knitting stride. She has already finished one, complete with double crochet edging, and is making another with a fancier pattern. I have some balls of cotton that have been around for ages, so that got us started. I was thinking knitted long cuffs would be useful, but I actually think whipping some up with merino fabric and my overlocker would be more fun. 

I worked on the front border today, weeding vigorously. I only did one side, but hope to get the whole thing finished tomorrow. Time to think about planting bulbs and colour for winter and spring. 

Poor Mouse got shut in the garage last night. I was tucking Miss Dog into bed and Mr Mouse sneaked in. I was so tired that I didn't realise, and even thought he was on the bed. I heard him crying when I got up, and found him in with Miss Dog. Unfortunately he must have been rather upset because he did a big wee on my woollen saddle blanket, which was inside a protective bag, that did very little protecting under the deluge. Zanny hasn't even had a chance to use it yet and I had to wash cat wee out of it. Oh dear. Mr Mouse still loves me (although he was rather nervous all morning), and I still love him, dear little man.