Sunday, January 31, 2016

rainy day reading

I love to read. And trapped inside on a rainy day is not too bad, with a book and a fire, I'm sure Major won't mind.

my favorite reading corner, too many books stacked on the floor

But I'm a genre snob elitist. I typically only read hard science fiction (the stuff that takes place in outer space/on a planet/future universes). I do sneak in some fantasy, easier sci-fi, and will steal a dog-eared copy of a cheesy detective novel from my mom now and again.

I have quite a few books I read over and over: Midworld by Alan Dean Foster, Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark, the Assassin/Fool series by Robin Hobb, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle,  Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card, Use of Weapons by Iain Banks.

But often on a rainy day when I've finished the most recent Alistair Reynolds, or put away the Charles Stross, I pick up an old favorite. That I've read I think every year since it was published in 1989.

And it is NOT me. People find it odd that it is my favorite book. But it is the book I'd take to a desert island, or read when I need 600+ pages of comfort. John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Now I do love most of the weird worlds Jonathan Irving invents (he is not science fiction, just general fiction and amazing characters). Most people would be familiar maybe with Irving's The World According to Garp, from the movie version, because who can pass up a young Robin Williams and cross-dressing John Lithgow?

But it is A Prayer for Owen Meany that is lodged in my heart. I KNOW these characters. I can picture every moment. I would play their games and go to their Christmas pageant and have a stuffed armadillo. I ridiculously cry at the sad points I KNOW are coming since I've read it 20+ times. It has a religious main character, which I am decidedly NOT. So why?

Who knows. That is what a good book does. Stays with you. Resonates within some hidden place inside. What's your book?

First lines: "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death…" Intrigued? Read it yourself.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

getting out

I love the rain. We need the rain. (my current mantra, repeat as needed)

But I needed to get out! And so did Major! The rain had stopped for a couple days. The sandy trails should be drained. But I'm also tired of the close trails, as that is all I've been riding. I thought a ride up to Auburn would be a fun diversion, in nice weather, with good footing and be more scenic.

I was wrong on all counts except the scenic portion.

The day was sunny when I left home, but gray skies hung over the stables. SO took my trailer up to Auburn to await our arrival. It took us a bit longer than usual to get ready (to clean off most of the mud), but we were heading out at 9:30am. C and Friday were joining us, the horses were happy to be out. The trails were mostly drained, a few mud puddles here and there, but nice.

nicely drained portion of the trails

the water is rising, yeah!

The water was pouring from the power station, and the Bridge of Death (Mormon Ravine) was as always, scary when halfway across. So Major did his tap dancing act, and all was well. Then the trails got slippier and worse. Red mud was bad, but the wet leaves on trail were worse. That's ok, we can walk. Then a big tree branch, That's ok, we can go UP the steep, soft hillside (good trail horses). And other branch down. That's ok, we can go around this one.

rushing creek

Mormon Ravine (Bridge of Death thinks Major)

Until we got to the tree that blocked the trail. In a steep-sided ravine. Next to the river cliffs. Even if I had remembered my branch saw (note, keep in saddlebag during winter) this was too big of an oak to tackle. And though I diligently looked, there was no way around (I didn't take photos, I was too annoyed, and holding my dancing, pulling horse). It was only three or four miles to Auburn. But eight miles back home. Damn.

old portion of the canal, getting green

some very early naturalized daffodils

Fine, now we'll turn for home. Already pent-up ponies turned it up to full-blown naughty. Trying to walk nicely on slippery trails turned into an argument. Slow trotting on straight, dry places escalated into trying to bolt for home. All the way back. For eight miles.

Plus, I really wanted my sandwich (that was in the trailer. In Auburn.)! By now I was hungry and ready to be done. Got a hold of SO and asked if he could bring the trailer back (he did, and washed it at the car wash, how awesome is that! Not an entirely wasted trip!)

Rattlesnake Bar heading home: now the sun comes out

very fun playing puddle

The horses did stop pulling long enough to play in a puddle at the Rattlesnake Bar staging area. Which was fun until it became a water/mud-splashing contest, so we headed for home again. The horses were not tired in the least, and the trail was a little better in this section, but since horse behavior had not improved, it was still pretty slow going.

happy ferns and moss

determined Major heading home

Back home in one piece I was more tired from 16 miles of walking (farther than I'd planned, we're not training right now!) than a 20 mile trotting ride. But I had my sandwich! Best PB&J ever. And a happy horse, clean and turned back out into the pasture, who promptly dropped for a muddy roll.

I reported the downed tree (though it's far from an easy access, and few foresters are allowed to trim in the state park). I think I'll be staying on my very local but well-drained trails for now. Except it is raining again. I love the rain. We need the rain…

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


House-itosis: a term coined by my friend to describe that trapped feeling that occurs during stretches of too much rain/too much inside time. I am very susceptible to this anxious syndrome.

This time I had a full-on attack, brought on by multiple days of rain and two days of the anxiety-ridden, wild mood swings of playoff football.

For me, this syndrome cannot be cured by just being out of the house (like going to stores/shopping, which I hate all forms of anyway.) My only solution is to be outside. Major got walked in a light rain one day, but he does not like the more serious rain. So I let him be (with extra hay) and venture out sans horse.

But not on my usual trails. In suburbia. This is a once rural area slowly being eaten by the city outskirts. But on this rainy day there was no one else out to share the trail.

along Dry Creek

some horses have a nice area along the trail

big bridge for a small creek (it gets flooded later in the year)

The creek is paralleled by a horse trail, and a paved bike trail. Golf courses and a soccer field facility take up either side in a sometimes narrow corridor. But it's there, and that means exploring.

trail down to the creek

little hands don't mind the rain: little raccoon robber prints
pretty trail

someone has been out riding!

The horse trail is meant to cross the creek, and not the bridge. But that would not be safe this time of year, the water is quite deep. So everyone would share the bridge and a few horses have been out. But not many, which is good, since that can quickly turn these trails into muddy bogs.

two buttons, one high so riders can cross. Cool!

tree giving you the evil eye

Across the creek is a golf course. One golfer had a very errant ball, shanked to the other side of the creek on a sandbar! And some creekside profanity just about explains my mood in all this rain.


classy sandy profanity. Maybe it was the golfer!

sea of green Miner's lettuce (full of vitamin C!)

winter oak

My house-itosis abated for awhile, though you know the only true cure…which the next day provided, clear and blue. For a few hours there was sun and warm and horse ears in front of me, then another storm rolled in, and it is pouting again. But I'll take it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

detour: land and ocean

I am grateful for the rain. Really. But the trails are now slippery morasses of mud. There are a few well-draining paths, and Major and I have gone out a few times, but now is not the time for training. He can stay tucked into his shelter, full of hay. It is time to escape to the coast. The sea is calling.

The drive is a bit long, but the lonely coast is worth it. The dark, redwood highway ends and explodes in sunlight as the ocean comes into view.

redwood highway blur

first view of the sea

old railroad bridge

view through tafoni rock

And what a view! You never know what the weather will bring. The rain had blown away, the sun was out. Take advantage now, we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Rain. But not too hard. Plus, on vacation you explore anyway. The paths in the redwood forest are the opposite of the ones at home: well draining, spongy lovely, perfect to hike. Out to a lovely waterfall, through the Ewok forest, past deadly mushrooms (maybe?) and a hidden horse camp!

Ewok forest

cushioned trail

golden fern

tiny mushrooms

redwood bridge

mario brothers mushrooms

really nice horse camp

The rain has paled to damp sky, and a minus tide exposes the water-loving denizens of the tidepools. I explore until the rain increases and it is almost too dark to hike back.

overcast tidepools

colorful anemone

sea weeds

starfish waving

herd (?) of mussels

walking at dusk

The next day again the weather changes. Blue skies and a dangerously high tide keeps us off of the sand, watching huge waves roll in and cover the state park road. Churning waves are deadly, though I do see a seal pop up looking, then diving again for dinner.

clearing skies, big waves

churning seas

And it is time to slowly make our way home. But a bit refreshed. And ready to handle the rain and mud again. For awhile...

Friday, January 1, 2016


Begin as you want to continue. 2016, on the trail, with brown ears framing the view of the promise of green to come. 

No goals or plans yet, no resolutions. Just new roads to anticipate...