Part-time

Because I have all kinds of events I have to schedule for work and I have to do this months out for our newsletter, I end up scheduling things like vacation days at the same time because I want to be sure that I get/take some in the midst of all the craziness that can be going on.  When things are planned, then, I have a tendency to forget about them until they are upon me.  Oh, do I have three days off this week?  Yes, yes I do.  I am never without Things to do, though, so it’s not like they will be squandered.

Last week was kind of a mess (a beautiful mess) because I had extra time to take off for Easter and for the conference I went to this past weekend.  Tuesday was particularly lovely.  I had time for a bike ride, a nap, and then at work my first commitment of the day (at 2:30 pm, when I went in) was a meditation class (which I’d forgotten about).  So, yeah, go to work, meditate, order some books, oh, it’s 5 already?, go to water aerobics, home.  That was super.  I expect these sorts of days happen ALL THE TIME for people who regularly work part-time.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the bills.

Wednesday was good, too.  Riding lesson.  We put me in a western saddle because the shape of the saddle encourages you to hold your legs in a certain way (turn your thighs out) and we are trying to break me of of my hunter-jumper habits.  Western saddles are bigger and heavier and the stirrups make your toes stick out (if you want to keep your feet in them), and there’s the big horn on the saddle (for roping cattle), and the back of the saddle is higher.  Still, sitting on it, I didn’t really *feel* a big difference.  “This is a thing I am sitting on.”  But, as we trotted around the arena it was easier to find my center and sit the trot without bouncing all over Copenhagen’s back.  Shockingly comfortable, even.  My instructor was going to give me a break, “You must be tired,” but I said no – I wanted to keep on going because my body was finally GETTING IT, and I wasn’t tired at all.  We tried this with and without stirrups.  Because I’m so accustomed to turning my toes IN (this is an English riding style thing – heels down, toes in – that pretty much gets drilled into you), I couldn’t keep my feet in the stirrups anyway, so dropping them was no problem.  And I didn’t feel like I was going to slide or fall off, either.

I’ve been doing a lot of bouncing on my exercise ball while I’m at home to figure out where my center is and remind myself not to tense up (isn’t it funny that when you focus on some part of your body to tell it to do something, you automatically tense up/stop breathing/etc. so that you can pay better attention to it?  All of this before you’re able to say RELAX, body part!), and to move my hips and knees and keep my ankles loose and flexible, and my lower back ready to absorb some of the impact of the bouncing…  There’s a lot to remember.  And some day my body will remember it and I won’t have to think about it so consciously.  It used to know.  I wish (over and over again), that I had more horse time so that I could figure it out faster.  This is just something that takes practice.

I’m remembering, too, how much I love riding and being around horses and other horse-loving people.  Why haven’t I done more of this?  It’s not an inexpensive hobby.  And, if you want more horse time, eventually you get your own horse to work with/on, or you pay to lease time on someone else’s horse (plus there’s the cost of lessons on top of that, and boarding if you own your own horse).  When I was a kid, we were able to afford riding lessons at summer camp, but I was either told (or assumed) that we couldn’t swing the cost financially on a regular basis.  When I rode in college, we had a student-run barn, and I could pay for lessons/horse time by working at the barn (mucking stalls, feeding, etc.).  This is something I would do now, and may look into when I’m back from my Adventures abroad.  Because I think I’m still going to want to ride.  And for more than just half an hour every other week.

I could feel whenever I got my seat right – I stopped bouncing, felt relaxed.  And it involved sitting back into my butt more, which Copenhagen interpreted as a signal to walk.  Argh.  Sorry, horse.  I don’t mean to send you mixed messages.  I will try to get my body under control.  He was in nap mode anyway, and after asking him to trot with little response from him, we had to get out some carrot stick (lunge whip) encouragement.  A little snapping of that got his attention and we soon had a very smart, energetic trot to play with.  Good lesson.  Jackie was happy with the way the saddle helped me assume the proper position, so I expect I’ll see more of it in the future.  We also talked about riding with the bareback pad, which helps you feel how the horse moves.  I’m open to all of it.

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The conference was good – informative sessions that have seeded a lot of ideas (I don’t think any of the ones I attended were duds).  Too much sitting for sure – there was a clogging convention at the same venue, and I was tempted to sneak into some of their classes to change things up.  My coworker ended up attending, too, at the last minute, and offered to do the driving.  While there are many Good things about traveling with someone, I’d already gotten into the flying-solo mindset…so, my initial internal response was more of a lukewarm “yay?”  And, instead of catching up on my audiobook queue, we ended up talking most of the time (which, admittedly, WAS really interesting, because I got to know my traveling companion better, but at the same time, when I was super tired, I still didn’t feel comfortable enough to say, “I just don’t have any more energy,” or as my brother would have stated, “I have nothing more to say to you” – even though I DID tell that story on our trip).  I did not fall asleep like my brother would have done, either.

I brought 2 books with me, and only cracked one of them.  I mentioned a love of HGTV, which my coworker shares, so when we got back from a very nice dinner at Medici (we split the spinach lasagna AND some fish tacos because we wanted to try all the things and not just one each), we had about 2-3 hours of home improvement and phone time interspersed with our own running commentary.

I met another beekeeping librarian while I was there.  I forgot to bring my notepad from work, so I grabbed one from home that happened to have bees all over it and when I sat down next to her, she squeeed and told me she was a beekeeper, and then it was bees, bees, bees (and more bees) until we got started for real.  [Aside: I haven’t been to any of my bee clubs meetings yet so far this year, but our group seems to be a lot of older, crustier guys who have Definite Ideas (ok, every single individual beekeeper has definite ideas about how to keep their bees) about how you’re supposed to keep bees, and they don’t always mesh up well with how I’m managing my own hives.  But it’s super cool to meet another female beekeeper of roughly the same age who keeps roughly the same amount of bees and has similar principles.]

Did not sleep well.  Did not get a proper breakfast.  Put me in a bit of a mood for the second day.  RARGH.  <– This is how I was out of patience and energy by 3pm.  Fortunately, we were both ready to wrap things up and get home a little earlier.  (We missed the author panel.)  The northern climes welcomed us back with gusty winds and freak snow storms.  Thanks?  Took a wrong turn off the highway when we were nearly home.  I wasn’t even paying attention at that point because we were ALMOST THERE!  And M. turned to me and said, “Did I just go the wrong way?”  I looked around and answered, “Yes, yes you did.”  And then her phone rang and her husband also pointed out that we were traveling in the wrong direction.  Because he was spying on us.  Being “CREEPY,” as she and her daughters put it.  Still, that enabled us to stop, grab the snack bag (which was full of chocolate chip cookies and Doritos), and reorient.  And about 20 minutes later I did finally make it home to all of my loving (and demanding) lagomorphs.  Hello, Bunnies!

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I may or may not get around to constructing all of those raised beds I want to make.  It’s cold again today, and I frittered all of yesterday on Being Outside on my bike and on foot in the wilds.  Oh my sweet corn the WIND.  As usual I didn’t notice just how strong it was until I turned around at my halfway point, and then much of the way back was directly into the wind, so while I’d been achieving 20mph speeds on the way out (freakin’ fantastic!), my averages on the way back were much slower (and that much harder) with the wind.  Plus, no one could hear me yelling that I was coming up on their left, so that made for a few scary moments where people were leaping out of my way.  Excitement!  Still, my overall average was ~13mph, which is decent.  Everyone was out with me yesterday afternoon.  I think we must all be ready for spring to really feel like spring.  30 degrees again today and I’m contemplating a hike somewhere.  I bet I get whatever place I choose to myself, since it’s all gloom and doom out there.  Maybe I will pick up some nails/screws for my woodworking project while I am out!  (That’ll help me feel accomplished.)

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