Friday, January 9, 2015

Just a blip on the Walter O'Reilly

At first I was frustrated with myself for not just summarizing 2014 in one post and calling it a day. But here's the thing: I got overwhelmed trying to cram one year into a few paragraphs because A LOT happened and besides, anecdotes are more fun anyway. So I'll keep chipping away and then maybe with the better stories, I'll come back later for more detailed accounts. And voila! I have found a purpose for my blog.

To stay in present day for a moment, I will say I have been riding lately despite the Arctic Chill or whatever horror is happening outside. Comic has been wonderful for both Nat and myself; I am continually impressed at the brain that horse was blessed with. His canter is feeling more balanced, and his transitions are sharper every day. Once yesterday he stepped into the left lead from a walk on the first try. I was beyond proud of him, and of course I praised him to death. This horse loves when you talk to him, which is great for me; after spending years riding alone, one becomes an expert with one-sided conversations.

I'm feeling the weight of my to-do list at the moment, so I must try to use this last hour or so before work to be productive. Adios.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I seem to have misplaced my Tauntaun

When I fell asleep Tuesday night it was winter in New England; temperatures in the low teens and a dusting of snow. I seem to have awoken in Hoth, because all I keep hearing about is this damn Arctic Blast, and I've seen a lot of negative numbers. The wind is in full force, and I am fighting hibernation mode once again. This is the worst.

That said, I believe I still owe you some opinions regarding the close of 2014. I have not forgotten, though I have admittedly been procrastinating. The first week of the year was a busy one, but the good kind of busy...and productive! I will warn you, my productivity did not include uploading pictures to my computer, so brace yourself for a whole mess of uninterrupted words...

July began with much promise, and did not disappoint. We headed to Foxboro on the 3rd for the Finish on the Fifty 5K at Gillette, which was a blast. I was at a horse show in Northampton, MA on the Fourth, so I missed out on fireworks. I definitely can't complain; I stayed at a Comfort Inn with a fitness center and indoor pool...both of which I took full advantage of. I'll just save myself for the Magic Kingdom's Nighttime Spectacular, thank you. Came home on the 6th for something called Urban Dare Adventure Race with my friend Sarah. It was a little lamer than we had hoped for, but that's not to say we didn't have a great time. I had bought a groupon so it was half price; it totally is not worth the full amount.
I spent the next week working at a horse show in CT, then on the 12th Mom and I drove to PA to see the Zac Brown Band. The show was just west of Pittsburgh, and we had booked a camp site at a state park a few miles down the road. If you would ever like to venture to the middle of nowhere and take the coldest showers of your life, I highly recommend it. The show was phenomenal; I would go see them again in a heartbeat. They did a little acoustic set in the middle, and Zac covered GnR's Patience. It made my night. We camped a couple nights and had some adventures in the boonies before packing up and coming home to civilization.
Mid-July was pretty low key; I did a bit of catering work and took Odie on some beach outings...
Pre-dawn on the 26th, Mom and I once again packed up her Honda Fit and hit the road. This time the drive was much longer; 14 hours to Kawkawlin, MI. One night there and then north through the thickest fog we have ever seen to Mackinaw City. We had breakfast, did some shopping, and Mom freaked out when a statue came to life before her eyes. Clearly we were unaware that he was a LIVING statue, and a damn good one at that. Haha.
I could write an entire post on Mackinac Island alone. We had both been wanting to go there for years, and it far exceeded our expectations. Our quaint motel on the mainland, the short ferry ride amidst beautiful scenery, and of course the island itself. We stayed busy for two days straight, trying to take it all in. We walked a lot, climbed infinite numbers of stairs, drank $20 glasses of wine in the Grand Hotel, bottle-fed baby deer, and defied gravity in the Mystery Spot. I really cannot say enough about how great that trip was. I would do it all again, but next time I think I'd stay on the island so I could do the ghost tour at night.

August kept me pretty busy with a horse show every week, some more great adventures, and a sprained MCL. You can hear all about it in a day or two. I'm out for now. There's a warm couch with a puppy that's calling my name.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Six months in review...

Another year gone by. At the last turn of the calendar I was pretty apprehensive about my future, but fortunately a lot has changed since then. Join me in my travels back through time...

January saw me at Corner Bakery, expediting food and begging to be cross-trained so I could pick up hours on other stations. I was still being strung along on the management lie (which I had not yet identified as a lie), so I kept telling myself to just keep swimming.
At the end of the month we embarked on our annual Disney trip; Josh and I drove down in a rented Ford Fusion and met up with his family in the sunshine state. As luck wouldn't have it, the sunshine there was more figurative than literal; we had cold, wet weather for most of the week. A crappy day in Disney is still better than being home, so we weren't exactly complaining, but a few rays wouldn't have hurt.

The second Corner Bakery location opened in February, and I was transferred to help get the store up and running. Once again I was fighting to work my way into the back of house for better hours and a raise. I threw myself onto the hot line one day when the opportunity presented itself, and I rocked it. I was able to get full time hours for a while, and I even got a raise. I thought things were looking up.
Around this time I was riding - well, sort of - at Melody Farm. I spent most of the winter doing ground work with Lucy, building a bond with her and engaging her brain. Sometime in February I think I finally got back on, with a rope halter in place of a bridle. We slowly but surely progressed and built up each other's confidence.

March. I had made plans for my birthday to ride the mechanical bull at Toby Keith's, but I promptly cancelled them when I came to my senses and remembered I was broke and antisocial. I worked on my actual birthday, but I did have my parents and a couple of friends over for dinner that night. It was nice, quiet, and a great time.
I had a breakthrough with Lucy that month, finally cantering under saddle for the first time since December. After the lightbulb went on, we felt unstoppable. I was starting to feel like my old self, and she like a brand new girl. It was just what we both needed.

April began innocently enough, but the winds of change that began to blow were enough to knock me off my feet. At first a little whisper through the trees; Maddy casually telling me she had a job opportunity for me. Had I ever heard of night watch? Why, yes. I grew up at horse shows, spending countless hours riding, grooming, or just spectating by day and braiding by night. I contacted the man who owns the night watch company, and he said he'd get back to me for an interview. Not half an hour later he called to offer me the job, IF I could be in CT that night. Sure! It was four nights of work (in addition to my CBC schedule), and I was beyond exhausted by the end of the weekend. But somehow I felt great. I could do this all summer! I could live at horse shows again!
I stopped riding Lucy; Kate was back in the saddle, and she really needed someone who could pay for a lease. I didn't think it was fair to the horse to have mixed signals from three different riders, so I bowed out.
I will quickly mention that the situation at Corner Bakery had declined even more by this point, and it was starting to affect my life outside of work too. I was miserable, I was broke because hours had been cut in half, and I was feeling edgy all the time. It was no good.

In May the ticking time bomb finally exploded; I totally lost my marbles one day at work, verbally eviscerated the staff and company as a whole, and quit. Three out of four of my managers tried to talk some sense into me and FINALLY listened to what I had to say, but it was too late. I had already spoken with Josh about how unhappy I was and he encouraged me to leave. I had night watch to get me through the summer, and I had just picked up a part time job with a catering group. I knew I could make it work. They coerced me into staying a few more weeks, and I survived, but I was never so happy as when I knew I would never set foot through those doors again.
May wasn't all bad; we did take my parents to Block Island as a belated thank-you-for-puppy-sitting gift. We made our way up the only hill on the island, stopping at the animal farm and the south lighthouse. We then walked...and walked and walked and walked...until we realized we may have passed the street we needed to get back downtown. If only we had a map. Cell phone service was spotty, so our google maps weren't loading. Oh well, we thought. Let's see where this road takes us. Eventually we stopped and sat on a stone wall to rest. Mom reached into her bag and pulled out what else but a MAP. A freaking map! Where was this an hour ago?!? We laughed and promised her she'd never live that one down, then continued along and found our way to the main drag. We estimated that we had walked about ten miles, and we were all starving. Lunch at a local bar was delicious, and of course we did a bit of shopping before catching the ferry. I should mention that the weather was crazy that day; it was overcast and VERY windy. As we boarded the ferry we saw the crew taking pictures of the waves because they had never seen them so high. Needless to say, it was anything but smooth sailing - literally a roller coaster ride on the ocean. The ferry went airborne so many times we lost count, and the waves were crashing onto the upper deck. It was incredible, and terrifying, and made for some great memories.
One more the end of the month Josh and I went to Mystic Aquarium to play with penguins! It was my birthday gift and I enjoyed it thoroughly. We spent the day there having the best time; I highly recommend the penguin encounter program to anyone.

The sun shone brightly on June. Night watch was in full swing and I became so accustomed to commuting to CT that I could have done it in my sleep. A couple of days I did elect to stay down there (I had a free hotel room to sleep in, after all), but there is not a lot to do in Westbrook, CT and even worse there is no Odie there. For anyone who may read this and wonder what night watch is, I will explain. At multi-day horse shows many competitors will stable their horses on the grounds, but since it is a strange environment (and they are expensive animals) they do not want to leave them unattended. I stayed on the show grounds overnight, making rounds to check on the horses every two hours beginning at 9:00pm. After my last round at 5:00am I was free to go, save for some paperwork and the occasional billing process. It's a pretty sweet gig (to me anyway), and it pays well. Things were looking up, for real this time.
I took Ron parasailing in Newport for Father's day, which was a blast! My mom came out on the boat to take pictures, then we went to lunch and wandered aimlessly around town. It was wonderful.
Josh and I also went out on a boat, this time for a whale watch. We had some great sightings, some only a few feet away from the ship. What a fantastic experience!

I am pausing here; there is still so much to write about but it is New Year's day, I am off with Josh, and I refuse to waste it blogging. Besides, it is circus animal waffle time. Later, taters.