Midwinter Fox Finished
Well I got the fox painting finished today. I struggled with this one. Sometimes it's like that with a painting. Your mind and your hand just don't communicate the way you want them too. I think it's just because I'm out of practice. There's an easy solution to that start another painting. I was originally going to do another fox right away, but I think now I'll do a hunt scene with hounds. I think I need a break from "Charlie", to my non horse friends Charlie is slang for fox. Besides the board I'm priming for the next painting better suits a hunt scene.
Today I didn't get to the gym. I did get a lot of work done. A load of shavings in the barn and stalls. It feels good to get a load of shavings into the barn. I think it helps keep the barn warm. This winter the barn needs all the help it can get.
Tomorrow I'm taking the commuter bus into Ottawa. That means I'm going to have to get my butt in gear early if I'm going to catch the 7:35am bus into town. John is already in Ottawa he'll pick me up to do some cell phone shopping and have lunch with my Aunt Marge. It's been a long cold winter for everyone. I am very much looking forward to a salad I don't have to make. Marge told me on the phone she's going stir crazy and is just looking forward to lunch outside the retirement home.
Another miserable day of winter outside. Today's wind was cutting. I put the horses out at noon and brought them in at 4:30 this afternoon. Normally if they were out for such a short period of time I'd get a lot of discussion about coming in. Not today, again they practically ran into their stalls. I'm looking at the forecast for the rest of the week and while the temperatures don't look that bad at this point I really can't believe we will ever get any relief from this cold.
My sister is in South Carolina. She and her husband rent a place there for Feburary and March, my last note from her is the weather has been colder than usual and there and apparently snow was expected this week. It worries me that we are experiencing such a cold winter after a very cold winter last year. I think we should all expect to pay much more for oranges and grapefruit this year.
On a lighter note. My trips to the gym are paying off. I am now very comfortable walking out 3 miles or 5 km on the treadmill. On Sunday I actually ran a 1/4 mile twice in the session. It was pushing myself to the max but I got it done and was really pleased about it. I can feel the difference. It's easier to move, and I'm feeling better, not so many down or dark days as I like to call them. So I'm really pleased that the hard work is paying off.
I've also been working on a painting of a fox. It is arguing with me more than I'd like. Sometimes you pick up a paint brush and everything falls into place other times the board and the paints seem to fight your every move. In the past I'd give up, not going to happen this time. I think with some work tonight and tomorrow I might just get it finished. Photos will follow soon I promise.
Extreme Cold Warning
Yet another Extreme Cold Warning today. Not the way I like to start the week but I think and I hope this is the last extreme cold warning for this winter. Please don't hold me to this.
Last week a number of people noticed I didn't weigh in. I couldn't face it, so I didn't. This week though I forced myself to get on the scales. It was needed as I could feel my diet moving to a less healthy zone. Anyway it was good news, I'm down another two pounds and have now broken the 200lb mark. It's a boost to my moral. It gives me incentive to keep plugging away at this journey.
I let the horses stay in the barn this morning. I will let them out for noon sun while I do stalls. They are fed up with this weather as well. I can tell as there is no funny business about coming back into the barn these days. I open the gate to their paddock and they trot into their stalls without any cursing or swearing from me. If the weather forecast holds true for next week I'll have to keep a bag of mints in my pocket in order to get a halter over Rolo's giraffe high head.
I've started a fox painting, I can't figure out if I'm pleased with it or not yet. It's still a little Grandma Moses for me right now. Not that there's anything wrong with Grandma Moses...but I really feel I should make my own path. It's a good afternoon to get some work done on that, photos to come.
Let there be Lent
Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a religious person. I was raised Anglican, but I never had any concept of God or after life or miracles. Just the way I was, always surprised when people around me had faith, or believed. I didn't resent it, I just didn't have it. Until I found horses I did go to church every Sunday with my parents. I had lots of friends in Sunday School. I knew everyone in the congregation. I knew and loved my bible stories. Church was a big part of my social life as a youngster. But when horses came into my life my parents said I could make up my own mind about what I wanted to do with my Sundays. I chose horses, the stable and riding.
Now that didn't mean that I could erase parts of my religous up bringing. I think it's important to help others. I follow most of the ten commandments, at least the ones that leave out God as I have no concept of God so hard to follow what I don't get. And I'm big on the golden rule, "Do unto others a you would have them do unto you"...I like that one because it usually stops me from seeking revenge. I'd never want me as an enemy, so the Golden Rule has kept me out of a lot of trouble.
Time to get to the point of this blog, why blather on about my lack of religious beliefs. I lack faith, but I can't erase my upbringing. I celebrate Christmas and Easter. I also feel that it's important from time to time to do without something I'm rather fond of, which brings me to Lent. The days between Shrove Tuesday (pancake day) and Easter Sunday. As a kid I gave something up during Lent just because it was Lent. Now I like to give something up every once in a while just to remind myself how very lucky I am. So, this year after eating my stack of pancakes I decided that living the life of a couch potato was something that I should give up for Lent. I have been spending too much time inside watching things on the tv this winter. So the deal for the next 6 and a half weeks the only way I can watch tv is if I've gone to the gym and have ridden a horse, or worked in the barn for at least 2 hours.
So to kick off Lent today I spent an hour shoveling shavings into bags at Lanark Cedar. Then back home to do stalls and put away shavings another hour. Then off to the gym for 5k on the treadmill. I have to say all this is made easier by the weather today. A balmy -10 degrees out. Who would ever think that -10 would be a lovely day. Oh well it's just day Easter Sunday is a long way off yet.
As long as I can remember, and that's a pretty long time. Shrove Tuesday has been one of my favourite days of the year. Christmas is still my favourite, I like the lights, I like the food, I like the presents, I like getting together with family and friends. Easter and Thanksgiving are next as one requires I eat pumpkin pie and the other involves chocolate, bunnies and eggs. But I think Shrove Tuesday comes in next...I like it way better than Halloween because I don't have to get dressed up and I like pancakes better than candy. So today I let the diet fly out the window and I ate a big stack of flax pancakes....with lots of syrup and butter...I liked it...in fact I loved it...and best yet I don't feel guilty. Not one bit.
Now part of the reason I don't feel guilty is I managed to fix a number of problems around the farm. Yesterday the truck wouldn't start. It actually decided not to start on Saturday but John and I didn't try to boost it until yesterday. We wanted to get the heated water buckets we'd bought at TSC installed into the barn. After two weeks of being sick with the flu and struggling to look after the horses as well as ourselves we bit the bullet and bought heated water pails. I didn't want any cords in the stalls, I don't think electrical cords and horses mix. So we borrowed Jack Hinton's 2 inch drill bits and drill and got busy drilling holes in all the stalls so we could pull the plug out of the stall. We then had to attach to the appropriate weight of power cord to each bucket and the attach all the cords up and out of the way from horses and me. We got a box of metal brackets, a bizillion of little screws and got to work making sure all cords were secure and safe. Of course it was very cold that day and we had to take many breaks to warm hands that would stop working after about 20 minutes. Needless to say the job of putting up two buckets took us two days because of the extreme cold.
On Monday we still had to carry water from the house because we noticed that the hose left in the barn had enough water in it to be frozen and blocked. So we brought the hose up to the house and felt good about the heated buckets working and no frozen buckets to smash on the driveway to clear out the ice. That done we decided to boost the truck and drive to the gym. The truck wouldn't boost. Too cold, it wouldn't start. John had to go into Ottawa to make sure garbage got out at the apartment and tenants were ok. I sent him off saying I could get the battery out of the truck and I'd bring it into the house and put the charger on it over night. I promised him if I couldn't fix it I'd call him to come back to the farm and rescue me.
So off went John....and I went in and reviewed on youtube how to take a battery out of a truck. It was easy to get the battery out, a bit heavy to carry but I managed. Actually I was lucky that Jack and Glennis dropped by in the middle of the battery extraction to pick up their drill and drill bit. Jack told me what I had done was ok and out came the battery. I brought it into the house. I found the battery charger, not an easy feet given the state of our downstairs, and plugged in the battery charger, attached the battery and hoped for the best.
Fast forward to this morning I put the battery back into the truck and blessed be the F150 started. I went into the barn with the now unblocked hose and hooked it up. No water at all now out of the hose. Then I noticed with all the plugging in of the new buckets I had unplugged the heated strip to the tap. It got plugged back in and I cleaned stalls. I tried the tap again after stalls were done but still no water. So back to the house and filling up buckets again to carry to the heated buckets in the barn. That done back up to the house to warm up and hope that the tap would work later.
At five I went back to the barn. A little nervous about the water situation. I tried the tap with the hose and thankfully it worked. So carried on with feeding the horses, topping up hay and shavings and when all that was done went about bringing in the horses for their supper. They have a routine. I open the stall doors, open the barn door and gate to their paddock. I snap the lunge whip and the three boys trot into the barn and into their stalls. They have an order. Rolo almost always first unless I snap the whip a little too loud in which case Derby gets into his stall before I can get too handy with the whip. Floyd always waits outside the barn until I go in and close Rolo and Derby's stall door. When all is safe from Rolo and Derby's teeth and hooves, Floyd walks in stands in the aisle until I give him a cuddle and then in his stall he goes.
So everything was fixed. Truck working, buckets working, water working. Me, working but exhausted. I felt like I had a right to a stack of pancakes with butter and syrup so I had my stack and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the fact that I was able to handle and solve a number of problems, and that I got through all the hiccups along the way without tears. Again another big achievement for me. Life is looking pretty good even though it's been bloody cold for over a month.
Monday is the only day I get on the scales. I refuse to spend every waking minute fixated on gaining weight or losing weight. This morning I got on the scales and unfortunately the needle didn't move, not even a whisper of a movement to the left. I had a moment where my heart felt heavier in my chest, just a moment mind. I know in my brain that I won't see losses every week no matter how much I want them, but you know what they say...the heart wants what the heart wants.
I would like this journey to be over the moment I made the decision that I was tired of being unfit and overweight. But really when I think about it, what would be the fun in that. If it was immediate, where would be the satisfaction in the hard work. I momentary heaviness of heart was lifted rather quickly when I realised I've made my decision, I will be fit I will be slim, this week wasn't a step back, it was a step forward even though the scales didn't move to the left.
On the subject of health. I seem to have finally gotten over this horrible flu. I still cough like crazy when I come in from outside, but my head is finally clear and I can think and move around without having to lie down or slump in a corner. This week I will start a painting. I haven't done that in a very long time. I think acrylic on board. I've never really been that gifted with acrylic but for whatever reason my gut wants me to do a painting with that so I will.
Winter continues on, I think the worst of the cold is over now. You begin to think that it will winter forever. But spring will come no matter what. In the meantime I think it's about time to start enjoying this lovely carpet of snow.
Thankful the cloud is lifting
This flu has hung on far too long. It has out weighed it's welcome, not that it was ever invited or welcome. I can honestly say I have not been hit by such a nasty bug in a very long time. But it's now been a week and a half and while I'm still coughing and still weak I am feeling stronger today. Unfortunately John has been hit by it too. I actually think he had it first then seemed to get better for a week and then had another relapse. Today I actually felt this boring story will be over soon.
John and I managed to pick up a large round bale of hay for the horses yesterday. We weren't out completely but with snow in the forecast and no tractor on the farm we wanted to make sure we got the new bale out while we could still drive the truck into the paddock. That trip alone was exhausting. We left the truck parked with the round bale parked in the lane yesterday so we would have enough energy left to do chores. Today we got the hay our and the horses in their paddock and while we were tired we aren't as weak as yesterday so it's been a happy day.
What has been nice has been to be quiet and watch old black and white movies. Sleep during the day without guilt and drink a lot of herbal tea. To have some time to be quiet and reflect is always good. Meanwhile I look forward to being out and about enjoying this winter and actually doing things that are worth writing about.
I've been a journalist and producer with CBC Radio for over 27 years. I now focus my time on my horses, my art, my fitness and my garden.