Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Old Joints Part

My body
or maybe Guingola Oaxaca.
My hip joints have been aching so much that I cannot rest my weight on a single leg. They've been so sore that I could not evade the thoughts that my friend and contemporary in age recently had a hip socket replacement. 
I've never been one to take proper care of my body. If the body is a temple, them mine is something like this ancient Zapotec one, abandoned, neglected, grown over, and worn by time, maybe damaged by the hands of ignorant barbarians. I've not lived in regret of these abuses, despite the payment that biology has meted out to me as a result. Frankly, I consider myself to have been lucky, compared to so many men of my own age who I see go by my window in wheelchairs, or bent over from decades in office chairs, or fat from  deficient diets, or sad from a shortage of life. 
I feel my joints tightened up, or these damaged old wrists flaring up when my private weatherman reports of a cold front approaching. "Nature bats last," and all my travels and prayers and delightful creativity have turned up no magic potions to change that. I wear these groans like I wear my white hair: badges hinting at deeds past. The alternative to growing old is not acceptable to me, and I feel I would be a traitor to complain. 
At the same time that I feel age hobbling beside me I am experiencing a wonderful, entertaining joy as I refute its companionship. I now stand up straight, thanks to that foot surgery several years back. It is still a delight to me to feel my skeleton hold me up properly, even though these is a constant toll to pay as my muscles complain about being stretched into proper biological conformity after 65 years of adaptation of slump. Just as my neck became comfortable it passed the pain off to my shoulders, which passed it on to my lower back, and which has of late granted it to my buttocks and back of my thighs. 
But it is riding that has been the radical transformer. It is vigorous, even violent compared to the staid pace of my walks. And it provides both motivation and energy to the other skeletal stuff. Sitting up straight a necessary maneuver, and a trotting beast's bump, bump, bump compresses and expands my spine better than even jogging would. Since the whole world is still perfect while riding properly, I am motivated by the whole cosmos that wants that perfection even more than I do. With the universe prodding me, I even sometimes work consciously to stretch!
And it's become obvious to me lately that my hip joints ache from straddling the pony. I know because my right hip really hurts when I vault up to mount, and they both ache when I am done. And I love riding, so I love my hips too. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Founder's Syndrome

Here is a link to see the Tedx presentation by Jenn, President of Humboldt Roller Derby and, more importantly, the brilliant found of the league.

Great talk, and on a subject I am familiar with, having at last let go of Glorantha. It's gone much father than I ever could have taken it. I guess it might have been useful to post this information about the Glorantha Kickstarter earlier, but it's a nice look at what can be done when the founder goes get out of the way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So I guess I can ride now…
Holy crap, six months since my last entry!
I missed documenting most of my increasing improvement concerning trotting! Easily covered: it got easier and I got better. I learned (surprise surprise!) that doing things right makes it easier! :D I’m not perfect of course, just better. But in truth, I have been getting stronger and a bit more limber. I still can’t ride with my feet straight, but I can’t stand or even lie down that way either, since that long-ago surgery only improved my feet and structure by “only” 95%. Perfection is not in the works. So I spend most of the lesson trotting now.
I am still entranced by riding, and am still getting better, and still enjoying it more and more. It feels like being magical or something.
Two session ago I switched horses. I love sweet Lightning, but Paula decided for whatever reason to put me on Toby. He is the horse that Suzanne called “the crazy one.” Paula said she’d taught him quite a bit and thought I could handle it too. Cool!
Toby is about half a hand taller, and about 200 lbs heavier. That 2” difference is a lot when this old creaky guy tries to mount. I have been riding with shorter stirrups than I’d started with and it’s much better, but even getting my left foot into the stirrup to mount Toby is difficult. So I start with it long, mount, and then Paula shortens it. I could use a mounting block, but those things are treacherous! No kidding, either. Suzanne really hurt herself using it.
image from
So I saddled Toby  up (at least that’s not a chore anymore!) and on the way to the arena Paula said, “And Lightning is a pony, and Toby’s a horse, so you will see the difference between them too.” I thought she was kidding, but no. He seems frisker or something.
The first thing I always do is practice a few “transitions,” which means going from stop to walk to trot to walk to trot and so on. I kicked him into a trot and thought, “Well, that is faster but it doesn’t feel like a trot,” so I kicked and told him to “Trot boy, come on,” and then we picked up speed and I thought, “Well that doesn’t feel right either,” and when we slowed Paula told me to stop. She was laughing
“You can tell Suzanne you cantered today,” she said. See, Toby’s trot is different from Lightning’s (imagine! :D) , and I just hadn’t recognized it, so went faster. Ha ha. We finished the lesson with me learning how to work with Toby.
So the next week Paula says, “I think we can start cantering today if you wish.” Cool! I’m on it! We do a few transitions and then go on to canter, slow to trot, canter again…
Well, remember when I said I’m not perfect? Well one of the difficulties I have is to keep my weight on the inside stirrup when turning. It’s not natural, because it feels like my weight is going outward and it’s just natural to brace on that side.
Well, while cantering I felt myself tilting too far! I stopped Toby (good move!) but was unable to regain my balance. But I was still holding on with my calves, tilting over, slowly, more, over oh so slowly until at last I put my right hand onto the ground, let go my legs and tumbled onto the sand. All is slow motion. Hell, I even pulled the saddle around Toby’s body so it was sideways on him. It wasn’t loose either.
Well, that counts as a fall. If you recall last April ( Paula told me, “Some people say you haven’t learned to ride until you fall off three times.”
So I guess I have learned to ride! :D
Well, we will try again tomorrow. And I plan to spend the whole session practicing weight on the inside stirrup

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gold Star...

...for me!

The last couple of times riding have been a real blast for me. When I began I was afraid of horses--irrationally so, yes, but scared nonetheless. Each lesson I seem to pick up one new thing, and to my astonishment I seem to also remember it the next lesson.

I've said that the most enjoyable thing about riding is the moment or two that I felt just right, and how each lesson that moment got longer and longer.

Well, the last few lessons have been a revelation for me, because they felt just right for most of the lesson! I have come away feeling like I am actually riding, not just sitting on a horse that is moving.

I don't even hold on when trotting now! I don't even think of it. It is work, even a bit of a strain on this old body of mine. I still screw up putting the bridle on, too (but not the saddle). A big break through for my comfort was when I started sitting up straight. And I don't really have to think about what to do--I just do it. One little bit at a time, and I am riding!

Now I even feel confident.I've got a million things to learn (next is trotting without stirrups! Holy shmoly!) but it it has been just one lesson of fun.

So today when I was finished and just gushing about what fun it is and all I told Paula (the world's best instructor) that I felt like I was learning quickly. She said, "Oh yes, you're my prize student." And THAT is why I give myself a gold star today.

Friday, August 10, 2012

11 Lamat

Guatemala, August 2012

I just got over two days of venge Montezuma from my trip to Guatemala. I don't usually suffer that. Maybe it was because Guatemala was never in the Aztec zone and I was supposed to figure out which Maya chief was more appropriate than Moctezuma (spelled correctly).
     I went there as a stand-behind for my friend Don, who went to continue his healing ritual with a Maya curandero.
     You can see a daily blog about it at the site Both Don and I wrote it, but since it is mostly about his adventures it's posted on one of his sites.
Half My Height--our sales person in Pana
     However, here are a few more things are of interest besides our daily adventures.
  • In a week or so, we saw only 3 people smoking cigarettes. I guess that sort of made up for the incredibly horrible auto pollution from the cars.
  • Guatemalans call themselves Chapin, Hondurans are Catrachos, and San Salvadorians are Guanacos. At least that's what the cab driver told us, and I can confirm the Chapin, so I hope I am not insulting anyone else.
  • They use the same accent as in Oaxaca--the ll is pronounced like an English "j" instead of a Spanish "ya." I have been told this is archaic Spanish.
  • My Mayan date-name is 11 Lamat, which translates as Eleven Starshine, Eleven Venus, or 11 Four Colors of Corn
  • We had plenty of opportunity to observe the HMH; or Half my Height. The brutal oppression of the Maya resulted in severe malnutrition which affected their growth. Hence the height of the lady in the photo. Younger Guatemalans are taller.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Not Just Sitting on a Horse!

Two riding sessions ago I snapped awake from a nap and rushed off to riding. I was pretty unfocussed, and stiff too, so that when I tried to mount Lightning she bolted. Or would have if her halter hadn't been properly tied. She's easily spooked anyway, but I think it was just my clumsiness from being so unfocussed, even though Paula kindly blamed the horse. When I went to my next lesson Paula called it a "disaster." We didn't even go to the arena, but just to the little corral near to the stalls, that day.
I made sure I was not in such a state on the next lesson, which was my latest. Always cautious and safety conscious, Paula brought us to the corral again. I guess my stretching and thinking about things beforehand paid off.
When I was riding it was like a totally new experience. I did all the right moves correctly without much outside thought--heels down, hands low, look where I'm going to turn, move feet to seat to hands, etc.
In fact, it was so easy and pleasant that it was a like an entirely new experience! It was actually riding, not sitting on a horse and moving around. Even lightning agreed, giving me the blessing of several of her snorts that mean she is happy and comfortable! Heck, I didn't even have to hold onto the saddle to trot!
I just hope I can stay so centered all the time! It was sure worth the experience. It was maybe 20 minutes of pure pleasure--the kind with the whole world is right. It's better than I thought I'd get, and want to do it some more.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


We did this yesterday, with many friends; and also blew off about $200 worth of fireworks. We could not ask for a more fun time! I would show the whole betting form, but its in an incorrect file type. Oh well, just come next year and get your own!

2nd Annual Mighty Small Farm


Chicken Races Betting Form
Betting is 25¢ per bet.
This is your betting form.
1. Choose Your Chicken from the list below
2. Write your name on the space provided, and the time of the race.
3. Find the bet-meister.
4. Pay the bet-meister 25¢per entry—exact change only!!
5. The bet-meister will confirm (initial) your bet and return your form.
You have to bet to win!
In case of ties, the winners will have a quiz-off.
Each winner will blindly choose a question from the Chicken Box. The youngest person answers first, then in order of increasing age. Who ever get the right answer first wins!
Prize: A fresh chicken egg, payable later this week