Monday, February 22, 2010

Texas day 4

I'd like to start this blog post by saying I spent last night feeling ashamed of my country. Why? Because we lost in hockey to the U.S. Seriously? So disappointing. What made it more disappointing was the fact that I watched it with Annie and a guy who has been born and raised in Texas, and despite the fact that he believes hockey is not a sport, he got to have a good laugh at me for losing. I am a sad panda.

But let us not dwell on the negative but instead I will tell you all a story. It is a happy story involving not one but two motorized vehicles, both of which I learned to drive yesterday. I started with the John Deer tractor. It is a pretty small farm tractor, but a farm tractor nonetheless, and Lary, Annie's friend, taught me how to drive it. I aws rather nervous about it at first. And apparently there are a good number of Texans who don't know left from right. So Lary and I worked out a system where he would tap the hand that coincided with whatever direction he wanted me to go. This method worked pretty well. We drove around the perimeter of the round pen for awhile, and then we started to fix Annie's fence. I got assigned the task of taking the points that the horses had knoecked off and placing them on top of the posts. It was easy, very similar to putting lego together. By the time I finished that job, Annie had returned from her trip to get... I don't even remember what she was getting. Anyway, she took me over to the gator, and instructed me on how to drive it. We had good fun driving around and harrowing the ground. The ground is very rough and uneven right now because of the poor weather Texas has been having lately. We didn't get all the harrowing done, but we will continue work on it today, since it is very windy out, and we can't ride the horses when the wind is gusty like it is.

We didn't end up going to the open jam session as we had planned because by that point I was cold and happy to just have a night in with Annie and Lary. Warning. When Annie makes you drinks that might contain vodka, they will be strong... Great, delicious and excellent, but I keep getting a buz off one drink... So either they are strong drinks or my tolerance level is going down. Either way it is great.

This place is really peaceful. I am so lucky to be here this week, despite the crap weather. Annie is very insightful and wise, and I love listening to her speak and tell me stories. This is one of the best vacations I've had in a long time. She is kind, she is firm but not mean, and she has a way of teaching me things that others have tried to teach me numerous times but I never got them before. When she teaches me, I get it. I hpoe we wlil be friends for a good long time.

That's all the news I have for now. Aaron is coming back today to put Orlando's back shoes on him, so it should be fun to see him again. I don't know what the weather is like back home, but I hope everyone is keeping warm.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Texas Day 2/3ish

Good morning world. I'm on the computer this morning because yesterday I was exhausted. I have never slept so well as I have the last two nights. The bedroom I'm staying in has its own bathroom with a gorgeous tub and a giant walk in shower. The bed is like Heaven. It is absolutely amazing!

So, yesterday Annie let me have a little extra sleep because I was exhausted from all that sitting on my ass in the plane. I was up at about six thirty though, because all the dogs were barking and carrying on. That was not a problem though. We fed Anybody in his stall and threw out flakes of hay for all the other horses.

Annie is taking her business degree, so she had to go to class yesterday morning, so I stayed at the house with her friend Sharron, and we made a southern staple. Biscuits and gravy. For my first time making gravy, it was a little lumpy, but not unpleasant. The southerners have pretty great taste in food.

Annie got back around 11:30, and she brought with her the ferrier, who brought a horse that he wanted Annie to start training and working with. He is a beautiful thoroughbred. We think his name is Charlie, but we're not certain. Annie says he has not been ridden before, or if he was, it was not very much. She spent a little time just getting him to follow her around the round pen, and he was listening rewally well.

After that was all over it was time for me to learn to shoe Orlando. It is a dirty job, but I'm going to learn how to do a little bit of everything here. First, Aaron, the ferrier, showed me a fwe different styles of horseshoes, as well as the nails and how they are put into the horse's hooves. Then it was time for me to clean out Orlando's feet. You think a human has the stink foot? Smell a horse's sometime. No offense meant, but it is stinky.

I picked out two of his feet, and helped Aaron put the shoe on one of them. Then we realized that Aaron didn't have shoes for hte back feet, so he will return tomorrow with new shoes. It would seem that I am rather useless with a hammer. I bent the nails. So we needed to get some new nails to put in. I eventually got the feel of it though, which was good.

After about an hour of working with the horse's feet, it was time to learn to groom him. There were three different brushes that I was supposed to use, but Orlando was becoming restless by this point so we just gave him a quick brushing. Annie then showed me how to put on the saddle and do up all of the buckles and straps. This is one of the most important parts of getting your horse ready. You want to be absolutely certain that your seaddle is on securely, because if the saddle slides off, you're going down.

We brought Orlando out into the round pen, and Annie rode him a little bit, just to get him warmed up since he had not been ridden in about htreee weeks. The weather here has not been great. It actually snowed a few weeks back, and it will be snowing again on Tuesday. Damn you weather!

I went to get on Orlando, after Annie had dismounted, and the trouble began. I did not have a good hold on the reins, and Orlando is very sensitive to pressure from your legs, so without even realizing I was doing it, I had my legs against him, which is his cue to go... and he went. Not fast, but he was moving and I didn't have control. Annie instructed him to stop... he didn't stop. My legs were still against him. I was not even pressing but he is extremely sensitive to what the rider's legs are doing and how they are touching him. I finally got hold of the reins and was able to stop him. Annie showed me how to hold my legs out from him. This didn't feel like anything I had ever done before. I was nervous, too, and Orlando knew it. After a short while, Annie decided I'd better get offf him for the day, which was fine. I was nervous and it was a wreck waiting to happen.

At this point I was feeling pretty disappointed with myself. I used to be fine riding English, why was western so different and so dificult? Being the positive and incredibly patient woman that she is, (thanks Annie you really are the best), she got me calmed down and told me essentially that I did a good job and it was better to be nervous and a little scared than cocky and over confident.

We then fed Anybody again, and went out to WallMart to buy a few things for supper. I had penne with saussage and (forgive me I haven't aclue how to spell this) rattatui? It was so delicious. Annie sat and talked to me while I ate. By this point it was quarter to nine and I was ready to sleep... and sleep I certainly did.

This morning we got up, Annie fed the horses, I showered and we headed for Cowboy church. Yup, that's right. Cowboy church. It was interesting. Annie described it as looking like an old metal barn. It doesn't look like a regular church at all. Unfortunately I had a hell of a head ache this morning and as a result I wasn't feeling as nice and friendly as I should have been. But the people at church were lovely people. Annie says they are like her big huge family.

Larry, a friend of Annie's, is here now and we're about to go fix a fence, so I'd best be off. If it doesn't rain again, I will try riding again. Annie suggested that I ride a small horse called Misti, because she is lower to the ground than Orlando and Annie believes that I will regain some confidence on her. Tonight there is the possibility that we will go to a sports bar for an open jam session. I am loving this place more everyday. So, off to fix fences. Hope everyone reading this is not too bored by my ramblings. I will either update again tonight or sometime tomorrow.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Texas Day 1

Hello all you pretty people. I hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend. I am safely on the ranch, and already starting to learn things. Allow me to start by saying I had the world's best flight people on both my flight from Kingston to Toronto and subsequently from Toronto to Dallas. Even the customs agent was really nice.

The flight went a lot faster than i was expecting. I used DVD Audio Extractor and I put the 7th season of Friends on Victor. I forgot my mountain machine, by the way, but I will do the best I can for recording with Victor.

Met Annie at the airport and we drove home, with a few stops on the way. First we stopped to eat at this cajun place where i had chicken friend steak. No friggin' wonder Texas has the highest rate of heart problems. But it was so good.

We then proceeded to a place where a man makes boots. This guy has made boots for so many people, including Christopher Reeves, Bill Clinton and Billy Bob Thorton. He was really nice. Apparently that whole southern hospitality thing is true around here. I looked at several types of leather, everything from buffalo skin to sting ray. It was really neat, and the guy's wife gave me a few samples of different skins.

We finally got home around 4 local time. We're an hour behind here. The ranch is huge! Seriously I'm going to get so lost in here.

And there are three dogs. Rosamae started the journey by running to the front door and marking her damn territory again. Mouse, if you're listening, I'm not impressed with you. Way to make me look like a total idiot. And SHE HAD JUST PEED!

After having dealt with that and getting some hot chocolate into me, it was time to feed the horses. Annie showed me around the barn while we locked the dogs in the backyard to have a good romp. I learned how to feed the horses, and I met the beautiful boy who I will be riding this week. His name is orlando and he is gorgeous. I learned that I am to be the leader, and the horse will learn to respect me. It is important to have as much physical contact as possible with your horse. So, essentially, I want to have at least one hand one elbow and if possible my hip against Orlando, just so I can always feel what he is going to do before he does it. Annie, feel free to correct me if I'm explaining this wrong.

We were going to attend a birthday party for a friend of Annie's, but when we arrived and found out just how loud the music actually was, we decided to give our good wishes and head home for omlets.

Tomorrow I have to be up and in the barn feeding the horses by seven. I will get to ride tomorrow when Annie gets back from her class. I am also having a lesson with the ferrier. Its certainly going to be an interesting week.

I'm using Satogo. Here are a few things I've noticed with this crazy program. Firstly, it does not much like Facebook mobile. Not sure if that's a Satogo thing or an Annie's computer thing. Either way, I can read the emails from it, and I find posting to blogger much easier anyway. It will cross post to my facebook page. Also, because Annie uses an English UK keyboard, somehow Satogo is aware of this and as a result, I get to deal with Hal. I'm not entirely sure I like this voice yet, but it works for what I need it to do.

Early morning tomorrow. I'm exhausted. Hope everybody's staying out of trouble... or maybe in trouble depending on how you roll. Talk to y'all tomorrow.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Texas Bound

Hello, people who read both here and on Here I haven't updated this in awhile, yet again. But don't worry friends, there's lots of interesting tales to come. Reading week has officially started for me, and tomorrow at six A.M I'm headed to Cranberry, Texas, where I will stay with a family friend and learn to essentially run a ranch. It should be interesting, and now that I know how to use System access to go, I plan on writing daily updates. I'm excited to learn to ride horses again. It should be really interesting and fun. I have always ridden English style in the past, but since I'll be in Texas, I will learn Western riding. Doesn't that sound fun? So, today will consist of seeing a new counselor for reasons that some people know and some don't and I don't really feel like going into huge detail right at the moment, then sushi with the lovely Anna Possibly seeing Young Victoria this evening, but most likely not. I do want to see that movie though. I find Queen Victoria fascinating. Then up stupidly early tomorrow morning to catch my flight.

This reading week, I will not be sitting on my butt, slacking off, sleeping in or any of the like. I will be required to be up early every morning to help feed horses. Rosamae should be happy. She will have three or four labs to play with for the week, and a big fucking play yard to do it in. I'm also considering getting some space on Bernard's site so I can record some of the adventures to post when I get home. I will bring the mountain machine with me, and Victor too, although I think Mountain Machine's recording capabilities are a lot better than Victor's.

So, I'm taking Rosamae out now and then probably going back to sleep for a little while, as there will be no sleeping in after this point. That's ok, I went to bed at 8:30 last night, so good sleep was had. Having said that, if you're reading, Ro, congrats on your new doggie!!! He sounded so cute when you described him to me! This is hard to write about a guide dog as a he, because Carin and I both have she's. And he has the most beautiful name. I've always liked that name. Yes, Rosamae. I hear you. Be patient. Jeesh! That's my cue to feed a hungry labby. Talk to y'all from Texas.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

No Regrets

Tom Cochran is a fabulous, amazing, wonderful performer who, despite his age, still knows how to captivate an audience and rock the house!

One of the best shows I have ever been to. I was really impressed. The kick drum was so intense that where I was sitting, I felt the music through my feet in the floor. It was incredible! Good birthday present for my mom who is 49 this year. That's a scary thought. She's going to be half a century old next year? Crazy times!

So this was a lame post, but what else can I say really?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Look I can finally spell Beethoven after all these years!

So... I can't believe I'm about to say this. I'm starting to enjoy classical music! What? Why? How?

Well, it all started last semester actually. I have a plan, you see. My plan is to become a student in the school of music, that is with the hope that I will be accepted after my audition. So I have started taking voice lessons again. I'm studying under one of the best voice teachers at Queen's. His name is Greg Brookes and he's awesome.

I was unhappy, however, when I found out that everything I would be learning in the school of music here had to be classical music. I thought "God dammit, its too hard and too boring and you know what? I don't wanna! I don't wanna! I don't wanna!!" I hated classical music. That was that.

Correction. I should not have said hated, for as a musician for 20 years... yup I've officially been playing piano for 20 years now, had that revelation the other day. Anyway, enough parenthetical rambling. So, despite not really liking classical music all that much, I always appreciated it. I knew that without classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven, music would not be at all what it is today, so for this I had to be thankful.

But it was still boring, and stuffy, and no offense anyone reading this, but I always thought it was the type of music super intelligent, well versed, high class people listened to. It was called "Classical" after all. High class, classical... you see where I'm going with this?

But Greg started getting me excited about it. We started by him showing me a few pieces by a woman named Martha Duncan Hill had written some beautiful pieces. Plus, she was my piano teacher. Way to start things off with the personal connection.

We never did learn those pieces though, I started learning a piece by Schubert who's title in English translates to "Death and the Maiden". Wish I could remember the German for it so you could youtubhe it and hear all the c razy opera women sing it, but alas, I just fi9gured out how to spell Bethoven so it may take awhile.

I learned all of the words to the piece in two weeks. Greg was incredibly impressed with me. Most voice students will read the music and then sing off the sheets. They don't memorize until shortly before they have to perform or take an exam. So, while the initial learning process takes awhile, I kn ow the stuff cold once I've learned it. I am not getting any of the lyrics in Braille, because I don't know German braille.

Then, this semester, I started in a course called Music 102, introduction to the history of western music. It focuses a lot on that genre that I disliked so much... and I remember initially saying I didn't want to take this course. It sounded boring. Classical music still just wasn't for me... or was it?

I'm in the fourth week of school, which means the semester is over, and I'm listening to Beethoven's fifth symphany, and it's pretty great for what it is.

I have a professor who is teaching me to love this classical music and get excited about all of it. Don't worry,. I'm not giving up everything else, it just means my range of music that I like is expanding. I never thought it would.

Something else I realized this past weekend... I actually really enjoy a lot of folk music too. Somehow I've been phased into liking it. I think it started with the convergence of folk and rock, and now I really just like folk music too. I can't believe my likes are getting more and more. I honestly never thought it would happen.

I have my voice lesson tonight. I'm learning this fucking Italian song that I hope will go easier asd I have a bit of grasp on the language this time. Afterwards, I'm taking Mom to go see Tom Cochran for an early birthday present. From what I've heard from folks who have seen him, it should be a pretty fabulous concert. I have my first test in this music class on Monday, so I really hope it goes well. Hope everyone has a good, pain free weekend... unless you're into that sort of thing...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Isn't technology neat?

So, remember my hope to not go into the hospital?

Yeah... fail. Went to the hospital for pretty awful pain in my tummy yesterday. The doctors didn't find much that they could anything about.

I'm taking T3s for the pain and life is good, but I wasn't feeling up to going to school today. I was able to Skype my teacher and I participated in class from home.

Isn't the future neat? I just think this is the coolest thing. We have come pretty far when you think about it.

That's about all for now.