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