Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I've Been Hijacked!

By the Christmas Police.

Apparently it's a crime not to have a Christmas tree, so Mamaw issued orders to that effect today, and bought the tree and decorations.

So I now have a three foot pre-lit tree and ornaments. It's not up yet, and I'm not sure where it will go, but it's in the apartment.

Soon as I get things cleaned up, I'll put it together and have a pretty pretty tree.

As ordered.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You're not who I thought you were...

I had those words spoken to me recently, and it just struck me. It's been mulling around in the back of my head for days, like an endless loop.

"You're not who I thought you were..."

In this case it was more of a compliment than one of those last minute, throw it in your face things that that phrase brings to mind. For me it does, anyway.

But it got me to thinking about first impressions. Those instant judgments that we all make, upon first sight of a person, by their clothes, their hair, the way they walk, even before they ever open their mouths. And how wrong they can be.

Hair back in a pony tail, grimy, stained jeans, old wore out t-shirt, ball cap that looks like its better days are far behind it, skinny as a rail, walking in a fluid slouch that saves the knees and back when walking long distances on hard surfaces.

That's what I look like.

It's not who I am.

I love movies and books, horses and learning.

I like clothes shopping, as long as I can do it at my speed, which is fast.

I like tall shoes, I was the smallest person around for so many years, I like having the extra height.

I dress for what I'm doing. If I'm working, I dress for work, if I'm goofing off, I dress for comfort. When I go out, I dress for going out. I don't dress to impress the people I see every day, because I don't care if they're impressed with how I look.

I love to dance and to sing, even though I'm no good at either of them.

I love Edgar Allen Poe, e.e. cummings, Mercedes Lackey, Laurell K. Hamilton, Hemingway and Mark Twain and Robert A. Heinlein.

I cuss like a... well, like a construction worker, and I make a decent meatloaf.

I'll dig a hole, climb a hill, stand all day, and shovel shit, but I don't have to be happy about it.

I'll drive off into the sunrise with nothing more than a cheap road map and a car full of camping gear. I'll park myself in the middle of a wheat field and just sit for hours.

I'll park in front of my computer and surf the web for hours, talk to friends and work on papers.

I hate feeling helpless, and I hate when people don't follow through on their promises.

I can live in the world that is around us today and I can still have hope for the future.

I can live in the world of technology and cars, four wheelers and automated everything, and still believe with every ounce of my being that there's a place for the horse mounted cowboy in the world.

I can watch the skills that made my grandparents and great grandparents their living be turned into a hobby, or a curiosity, and still know that those same skills are valuable, and honorable.

All of that still doesn't add up to who I am.

And some people will never look past the grimy jeans and hat far enough to see any of that, let alone see more.

Their loss.

Letter to Me

Got the country music channel turned on, and this song caught me, made me stop washing dishes, and sit down and listen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

(Mostly) Lazy Day

As planned, I awoke at gawdawful in the morning today, to sit with the nephews whilst the majority of the FarmFamily made the pilgrimage to the Black Friday sale.

Ok, ok, I was awakened at gawdawful in the morning by Farmmom because I had forgotten to set the alarm on my cell phone. Sue me.

Froze parts that I'm rather fond of on the trip to the Farmbrother and Sister In Law's house, then stretched out on their couch to catch a couple more hours of z's before the munchkins awoke for the day. Or so I thought.

A few minutes into my warm up period I heard a rustling in the other room. Well, along with FB, SIL and the munchkins, there are two cats and a dog living there, so I didn't think too much of it. That is, until I heard something else.

"Auntie Farmgirl,"

The oldest nephew was awake, and the sleepily annoyed expression on his face told me he'd been being very quiet (just like his mother and father had told him he had to be when he got up before anyone else), but I was supposed to have heard him anyway. Considering his volume at that point was somewhere slightly above that of a mouse tiptoeing across plush carpeting, I thought I was doing good to have understood him at all, personally.

"That would be me."

"What are you doing here?"

"I was trying to sleep."

"But why are you sleeping here??"

At this point I decided that as fun as playing word games with eldest nephew is under normal circumstances, if we continued in this vein he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. Which, of course, meant that I wouldn't be able to either.

"Mom and Dad had to go to Lamar to get some stuff, so I'm staying with you till they get back."


"What did you need, kiddo?"

"I'm thirsty."

"Ok, let's get you a drink, then you can go back to sleep."


He stepped back from the edge of the couch and turned to walk to the kitchen, and I realized that while he was big enough to want underwear like his dad's, he wasn't quite big enough to fit the boxer briefs, since they were hanging off of one cheek.

After FB and SIL came home from the war, I migrated back to the Old Homestead and curled up with a good book for several hours. I then realized that I had to make a trip to the horses, since I had left Red shut in the top pen for ease of catching when I had time to ride him again.

See, early this morning, sometime between Eldest Nephew's groggy interrogation and the time I woke up for the day, it snowed about two inches, and then froze.

Red's pen had only a shallow tank, shallow enough to freeze solid. Red's pen also had the hay bale. Snow on the ground, freezing temperatures...

I had to let Red out where he could get to water that didn't resemble the world's largest ice cube, and so that the other horses could get to the hay.

So, I bundled up and went... eventually. See, there's a secret about driving in rural areas in the winter time. If the highways are icy, but the entire world isn't one big bruised tailbone waiting to happen, your best bet for travel is the dirt roads.

That is, as long as they aren't muddy. The moisture will make them slick, but if the temperature is below freezing, and they haven't been churned to muck, they're safer than the highways. Better traction.

By the time I realized that I had to go to the horses, the temperature had risen above freezing, but it was already on it's way back down. So I waited.

Got Red turned out (for which he was eternally grateful, and showed it by farting in my general direction as he ran out of the corrals calling for his buddies) and checked the big water tank... Which they hadn't gotten the tank heater in yet.

So, I had to break ice. Without an axe. Or a hammer.

I was in my car, fer gossake, I didn't have anything bigger than a socket wrench, and my tire iron is collapsible.

So I broke ice with my foot, and Farmmom's Toastytoes Boots.

It worked, and I didn't wind up hip deep in cold, cold water, mostly through luck and excellent traction on the soles of the boots... I had to jump up and down on the ice a few times to get it to crack, then balance on one foot on the edge of the tank (and holding on to the fence) to get it broken up. But I did.

Tomorrow, I'll take an axe.

After that, it was more laziness with the book, and my feet up. Best way to spend a winter day, I just wish there was a fireplace.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Be Thankful....

Now that the food portion is out of the way, I thought I'd post something more along the lines of the original meaning of Thanksgiving.

Feasting is an integral part of the day, but there's also the fact that we're supposed to be thankful for everything in our lives.

I'm thankful for the opportunities that I've had. I'm in college studying in one of the best programs in the country, doing what I love to do.

I'm thankful for the things that I have, because let's face it, nifty toys are fun.

I'm thankful for my friends, and all of the memories that we've made together.

I'm thankful for you, my readers, and your patience and support when my muse goes wandering, or my time is simply taken up with the necessity of life and school. This blog gives me a vent for my creative energy, and you all give me an ego boost whenever I see a compliment, or look at my sitemeter. I'm woman enough to admit that there are days when that boost is sorely needed.

But most of all, I'm thankful for my family. I realized today, while I was flaked out in the recliner, listening to them chat and loose the occasional turkey flavored belch, (and they all thought I was in a triptophan induced coma) that no matter the embarrassment they sometimes cause (mostly on purpose), I wouldn't have anyone else.

I wouldn't be who I am, or where I am, without them, and their support.

Mamaw, who has taught me the high art of the prank gift, and that it's best when the gift is really nice, something extremely touching, or perfect, and it's lovingly packed in the perfect sized box, beautifully wrapped... then taped to the bottom of a refrigerator box, surrounded by bricks, buried in ghost turds, the box covered in duct tape, then wrapped with garbage bags and topped by a smashed bow dug out of last year's Christmas things and attached to the whole thing with a large piece of duct tape over the top. (Don't get any ideas, woman! It's just an example.)

Farmdad, who always encouraged me to be curious and learn, and who turned me on to science fiction by naming me after a Heinlein character, and making me read the book when I asked him why.

Farmbrother and his wife, who gave me two fantastic nephews, and also give me other things, like their old couch, and who I can count on to be where I used to be, and help out where it's needed on the Old Homestead.

Grandpa, who rekindles my enthusiasm for what I'm doing now every time I talk to him, no matter how lagging it's gotten thanks to business class or the sheer exhaustion of Feed Crew, simply by being so enthusiastic himself.

Farmmom, for so many, many reasons. For being my mother, for supporting me no matter what I chose to do, for crying with me over my first heartbreak and for everything else that she's done for me, (and to me,) over the years to help me become the person I am today. But most of all, for being my friend, no matter what.

I'm thankful for each and every one of them, for many different reasons, most of which aren't even mentioned here. I don't think I could ever compile a complete list, it's just too damned long.

So remember to be thankful for the blessings in your life, whether they're people, things, or just a warm ray of sun to curl up in while you're reading a good book.

And maybe, when you think about the small blessings, you'll realize that they've added up to a pretty danged good life, when you weren't looking.

Turkey Day

Ahh, Thanksgiving. That one day of the year when even the most svelte supermodels sit back from the dinner table and unbutton their two hundred dollar jeans. Well, who could blame them? They're not used to eating, after all.

Me? Well, I restrained myself from donning pants with an elastic waist this morning, mainly because of the cold, and I regretted it.

Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy with giblets, hot rolls, corn, peas, egg noodles in turkey gravy, deviled eggs, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and quartered cornish game hen with it's own stuffing. Plus all the goodies on the relish plate, and to top it all off.... pie.

I stuffed myself, leaving a carcass on my plate from the game hen that closely resembled something from one of the Saw movies. Then I sat back and sighed and digested. For about twenty minutes. Then I had pie. And more pie. And then... you guessed it... more pie.

Leftovers are packed away, game hens in the freezer. I think I'm going to wind up with most of them at the apartment.

We'll see how many people I can convince that game hen is pigeon. There's a long tradition of eating "pigeon" for holiday meals in the family.

The first year that we tried it, just for something different, Farmdad told my great grandma that he was just going to go out and shoot some pigeons for Christmas dinner. She laughed, until she saw the little birds in the kitchen. She was about half horrified, but she was good farm stock, and meat was meat, so she agreed to try it.

As long as we got a turkey breast and cooked that too.

It wasn't until she'd eaten nearly half of one, and pronounced it "good bird" that anyone told her what it was, and from there on out, cornish game hen was pigeon.

Wonder if I can gross the city slickers out with it?

Tomorrow I'm getting up at gawdawful in the morning to go watch the nephews whilst Mamaw, Farmmom, Farmbrother, and his wife go to the big city to hit Walmart the second it opens, and cash in on the Black Friday sales.

I'd rather have the four year old and the toddler. If I wanted to see Black Friday at Walmart I'd watch Jerry Springer, it's safer.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Vacation? What Vacation?

I arrived at the Old Homestead to a lovely and relaxing Sunday afternoon, chilled with the FarmParents for a while, and went with Farmmom to ensure that moving the water tank where the horses are didn't cause what we here in Blowdirt County, Colorado like to call a "flash flood," before reminding myself that I get to ride the world's most neurotic horse this week. But first I have to call the Courthouse Coc... I mean our fine upstanding County Commissioners... and ensure that I won't be stepping on any toes by hauling him in and using the County Fairgrounds.

I wouldn't worry about it, really, since I can close the gate to the corral for a little while and have an enclosed space, but the fairgrounds has one overwhelming bonus... the track.

Yep, our tiny little town has it's very own race track, used for... well... nothing, anymore. They used to hold wild horse races on it but then some tree hugging fur-is-murder pansies had to spoil the fun for the rest of us.

I know what you're thinking, you're thinking "Farmgirl, you're not usually so mean!" It's true, I'm not. But, in this case, I feel it's justified, because around the same time the wild horse races went out, so did a good 90% of the fair attendance, and thus the revenues generated by it. It's all been downhill from there. Now we have butt-ugly scrap iron statues on Main Street, the local kook is debating one of the pastors in the Letters to the Editor section in the news paper and signing them "The Reverend Priestess," and you can't find a decent party to save your life. What really tweaked me off about the wild horse races though was the whole attitude that people had towards them:

"People could get hurt!"

... Kind of the point, I thought. Darwinism in action! Kinda like Nascar.

Well, I'm probably going to re-instate the tradition all by my lonesome, with Red. I plan to run that little sucker till he can't run anymore. See if he tries any crap then. Not to mention the old tried and true fact that if he's busy running forward, he can't get much vertical. I really have no desire to be all bruised up... and I don't have as much time as I would like to work him into behaving gently, for the sale, so, we'll take the faster (but less long-term) method of running off all the excess energy so that he might actually listen.

I'm not going to try to pass him off as broke, I just want him to not act like a completely neurotic little skeez in the sale ring.

And yes, I am building up my expectations of his performance already. I do expect him to be the worst horse I've ever ridden, that will take all of my skill and some velcro on my ass to stay on.

Ya know why?

Because that way, he won't surprise me unpleasantly. Unpleasant surprises with horses tend to be painful and I plan to be able to pig out this Thanksgiving.

What an embarrassment if I was too sore to lift my shovel..... er..... fork..... at the dinner table!

Not to mention my family would have enough leftovers to feed a small third world country if I didn't eat my fair share, which according to Farmmom is approximately equal to three times my body weight. (This instead of having enough leftovers to feed a platoon of Marines, which is the usual amount. When the FarmFamily does a holiday meal, we do it right!)

No one is really sure about that measurement, they haven't figured out how to tie me up well enough to keep me away from the food long enough to weigh it.

Although it is kind of priceless when the pizza delivery guy tries to flirt and ask me if I'm having company when I order a medium pizza and a double order of breadsticks, and I tell him no, but the smell of dinner in the oven was driving me nuts and I needed a snack.

(On re-reading this, I had a thought: Perhaps I should wait an hour after watching Jeff Dunham before writing a blog... like eating and swimming, except with snark instead of cramps...)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Monkey Vs Sparky, Rounds 2 & 3

And, why it sucks to be a know-it-all.

So, the day Monkey went home, Sparky got his second crack at riding him.

And got dumped... again. This time I got to watch.

Sparky saddled him up, got the bit in his mouth, led him to the arena, everything was fine. When Sparky went to mount up, Monkey started acting nervy, tensing up and backing. Sparky got into the saddle, and Monkey sidestepped.

Here's where things started to get hairy. See, Sparky hadn't gotten his right stirrup yet, and in his nerves, not wanting to cue the horse forward and set off a rodeo, he relaxed his legs just a wee bit much, and his right foot flopped against Monkey's side just a bit. Which made Monkey jump sideways. Which, since Spark was trying to be so careful about not setting him off, tossed Sparky to the side a little, which startled Monkey because, well, I don't do that, and he's not used to it.

These fairly minor errors were compounded by the fact that Sparky, being a nice guy, gave Monkey a lot of rein when he was mounting up, and since Monkey started going neurotic as soon as Sparky's posterior hit the saddle, well, Sparky didn't have a chance to gather the reins.

So, Monkey crow hopped a couple of times, and Sparky flopped around in the saddle looking a bit like a rag doll, and Monkey started to break in two. Sparky hung on until Monkey made the turn at the corner of the arena, where, apparently (I was at the wrong angle to see this) Sparky's foot got caught in the fence and he was pretty much dragged out of the saddle. Which sent Monkey hightailing it to the other end of the arena.

Well, I hopped off the fence and called Monkey, and he came trotting back over... until the kid that was there for an interview for the program decided to come "help," that is. New person, nervous about this horse that he'd just seen unload someone, Monkey wasn't coming anywhere near him. So I asked him to stay where he was, walked about ten feet away and called my horse. He came right up to me, (snicker) I grabbed the reins, and asked Sparky if he was ok. He kind of shook himself all over and said yeah, I checked Monkey's legs, cause it had looked like he was gimping, but it was just a bit of a muscle strain from getting so excited when he wasn't warmed up, so I asked Sparky if he wanted another shot right away, or if he wanted me to throw a leg over first.

He asked me to ride first, and I set the reins (a lot shorter than he'd had them, while explaining why you always have a short rein on a horse you don't know, especially if you know the horse might blow up on you.) Of course, Monkey was wound and decided to back away when I went for the stirrup, so I kept him backing until I was satisfied, and made it my idea. Then I mounted up, and Monkey went all nervy again. I didn't bother with my other stirrup, just told Monkey to quit his shit, his ears swiveled back and he realized who was on him, and he relaxed all over. (snicker)

We loped a couple of circles, he chilled out a little, and I rode back to let Sparky get on again.

Lets review. Sparky has been on Monkey a total of two times. Both times Monkey managed to get him off. Monkey is, at heart, a pain in the ass. You have to convince him that he's not going to intimidate you, or get you off, or even if he does, he's going to have to work twice as hard when you get back on.

Yep, Monkey tried him again, and in between laughing I called advice to Sparky.

"Bwahahahaha! Hey! Get his head up! Pull on them reins, boy! He's not gonna listen if you don't get mean about it, he thinks he's got your number! Snort! Chuckle! Stick with him! Don't let him do that shit! Kick his ribs in, make him run instead of bucking! That's it! Hahahahahaha! Hey, wait! Don't yank on his head when he's rearing! You'll haul him over on top of you! Good! Now kick hell out of him, make him flat out run for the other end of the arena! Pull him up now.... now trot.... now walk. Good."

Sparky won, finally, and we all got a good laugh.

Then I went to find Ed, since he'd said he'd ride Monkey to see if it was just Sparky, or all men. When he offered, he was fairly relaxed about the prospect, since he'd witnessed Monkey taking a cow up the rear hard enough to lift his back feet off the ground, and not blink an eye. Once I told him Sparky got dumped again, Ed was a little more nervous.

He made me hold my horse when he mounted up. He then proceeded to take Monkey around the arena a few times, tell me how hard mouthed he is (hey, he's better than he was!) and dismount, shaking his head that Sparky got thrown, and muttering about "this horse doesn't buck."

Then I rode Monkey some more, to give him a good work out, and got cautioned by one of the HTM sophomores "Don't run him to death!"

This is the same kid that told us, when we were working with Diablo on loading in S's tiny trailer, that we needed to push him in. Since we'd already established that when pushed from the rear or pulled from the front too vigorously, he simply refuses, and we were working on making him want to go in the trailer, we thanked him for his advice and sent him on his way.

On this occasion I simply stopped Monkey (A beautiful stop, if I do say so myself) turned him in a circle, sidepassed, stopped, looked at the kid and said "Take a look at this horse. Is he breathing hard? Is he sweaty? Does it look even remotely like he is getting tired, let alone being run to death?"

"Well, no."

"This horse moved cows for over eight hours, going a good fifteen, twenty miles, in the process. At the end of the day his main concern was that he was hungry. I've been riding this horse all semester, he's gotten at least a half hour more exercise than the rest of the horses in the class, and more often an hour more, and I do mean exercise, and he still wasn't tired at the end of it. I think I know more about what my horse is capable of than someone who has watched me ride two or three times."

Monkey helped me get my point across, since half way through the speech he decided to start dancing in place, eager to keep going. I don't let him flat out run much. It's a treat for him, even in the arena. We made about four more circuits and he started slowing down on his own, so I pulled him to a slow lope, and started cooling him out. The know-it-all in question was watching, so before I dismounted, I gave him a couple of nice, shiny roll backs, nice and snappy, to prove that Monkey wasn't dead, and we exited the arena with dignity.

Which I spoiled by giggling when I heard Mr. Know-it-all say to the other person in the arena "That horse wasn't even breathing hard, and she ran the shit out of him!"

Thank you, thank you. Someday, Monkey and I are going to enter an endurance race, and kick some ass.

Cleaning House Today!

Today I will be cleaning the apartment, and getting it ready for me to be gone for a week. Cleaning out the fridge, getting rid of trash, triple checking all the window locks, clearing out the DVR so that I don't run out of room, and all that stuff.

I've decided to be a typical college student and take my laundry with me to the Old Homestead, and do it there for free, rather than pay two fifty a load here (a dollar twenty five for the washer, a dollar twenty five for the dryer).

So, that eases up the amount of stuff I have to do, but I still have a kitchen full of dishes, and a carpet full of tracked in dirt and wood shavings from the barn. Plus I need to get ahold of my old boss today and find out exactly when she's planning on selling the mare she wants me to ride through the sale, and discuss the plan for that, because frankly I need the money.

I've done pretty well with my financial aid money, I think. I've made it most of the way through the semester on just what was left over after my classes, but, what with food, and rent, and food, I'm just running out of money. I'm probably going to spend part of my time over the break throwing the smackdown on Red, so that I can sell him when the mare goes through.

He's a challenge that I was happy to accept when I had the money to spare, and if I knew someone would be there that was capable of riding him next semester, I'd keep him and let the program use him, but Sparky has decided to switch tracks and abandon us, so I can't guarantee that anyone else would have the skill required. So, unless he undergoes a major personality change when I start working with him every day, he'll be going back to the sale, hopefully to net me more money than I paid for him, since I plan to make him show better than he did when I bought him.

In the mean time I'll be bringing Legs up for next semester, and getting her rode down some so that she's useful to work.

What with Ed training Etta, by mid-spring or so we should have three horses that are rideable, and won't give too much trouble. Although, I want to do some watching and some extra curricular training on Monkey before I pronounce him trained, since I've discovered that he simply doesn't like Sparky. More on that in another post, it's too entertaining to tag on the end of this one.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Thanksgiving vacation has officially started!

Well, ok, it actually officially started for me yesterday after we loaded our foals for their owners, but I went to the show today, so I count it as starting now.

A couple more weeks after Thanksgiving, and then semester break.

I'm really looking forward to next semester, my classes promise to be interesting, plus we lowly freshmen EBM-ers get to show next semester.

The show was good, everyone did really well, and the FarmFamily got official thanks over the PA system from the head of the Ag Program, for letting them use our calves to train on. Even though I was the only one there, lol, I got a mention too, as being in the program. Then, when they were actually showing the cutters, Del (the program head) told me we'd gotten them too gentle, and I had to explain to him that ours had gotten cut out, and left.

In other news, I finally won the battle with the DVD recorder, and I can record some of the movies off of my DVR, and get some space cleared out on it! I've nearly filled it up with movies, and I'm going to be gone for a week, which means I'll need the space to record the ER episodes I'm going to miss, and Scrubs. And House, and Heroes, and Supernatural.

I love my DVR!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Saw Del today (the head of the ag program as a whole, I love my small college!) about getting my schedule lined out for next semester.

As it stands I have nineteen credit hours for next semester, although I may wind up with only sixteen.

See, I have to have Eng 115- Technical English and Composition (memos, business letters, etc) except that I wheedled my way into an increase in my allowable credit hours so that I can take Creative Writing next semester. Once that was done, Del basically said "Whoops! You don't have to take 115, the other class will fulfill your English Requirement."

So I have a choice, take 115 (the name of the course is too much to keep typing out) and Creative Writing (which I really want) and have a class more than I did this semester, and in 115 we'd be doing the same kind of things that we did in "careers" class in high school, from what I can tell, or I can drop 115 and only have an early morning class on Monday and Wednesday.

If I keep it, one of the English classes counts as an elective towards my degree, and if I drop it I can take something else for an elective next year.

Regardless of what I decide on that, I've got Equine Evaluation, Equine Reproduction, Ag Finance (blech), the Creative Writing, and my barn classes.

I'm sure I could handle the course load with both English classes, but on the other hand, why push if I don't have to? Having a couple more days that I can take it easy in the mornings (spring semester morning classes start at 7:45) would be nice, I wouldn't have class on Tuesday and Thursday until eleven.

Also, Mondays and Wednesdays I have four classes in one day, it might be nice to have the time to do homework on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Things to ponder, anyway.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lit Final

For those of you who are not inclined towards the literary arts, you may want to skip this post. For those of you who are, and who hold high standards for literary arguments, I beg you to be kind, since I had the misfortune to choose a book I hadn't read before for this paper, and one that has so many possibilities for argument that I was hard pressed to keep on subject. This is, of course, only the first draft, and it was written in it's entirety between 6:00 pm and 8:20 pm, but it's the best my poor fried brain can do tonight, especially considering that I will have the ability to revise it after a week of decompression. But, with no further ado, I give you: My Lit Paper.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, is the story of one woman in the Republic of Gilead, a country created by a slow religious revolution in the United States. This woman, referred to as “Offred” when she names herself at all, tells of her own experiences in this new theocracy, which separates women into categories, Wives, Marthas, Handmaids, Econowives, and Unwomen. As a Handmaid, Offred’s duties are to get the groceries for the household, and to provide, through a monthly ceremonial copulation with the head of the household- the Commander, who by deduction is named Fred- and his wife, Serena Joy, a child. The Ceremony, as this ritual in which the Handmaid actually lays upon the Wife during copulation with the husband is called, comes from a biblical reference in which Rachel circumvents her own infertility.

And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.

And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel; and he said, Am I in God’s Stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

And she aid, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her (Bible Genesis 30:1-3).

The book rambles and meanders through the thoughts and remembrances of Offred, giving little concrete background on the beginning of the war, or the progress so far. Only that which Offred has personally experienced is mentioned, but even the short forays into Offred’s memories are enough to paint a gory picture of a religious holocaust, and a state of slavery for women.

The religious uprising in New England begins with what appear at the time to be ordinary crimes of the time. Murders, bombings, protests. The slow takeover causes many people to shrug off the insidious changes. Women are no longer allowed to hold jobs, or money in their own names, businesses that cater to the more puerile interests, but which, in the society of the book, have become run of the mill, are shut down. Eventually Offred and her husband, Luke, a divorced man, realize the danger and attempt to escape to Canada with their daughter, who is never named. The escape attempt fails, Luke is likely killed, and their daughter is taken away from Offred, before she herself is placed in a Center, to be taught, and brainwashed into, her new position in society.

Many people have challenged this book in school libraries, due to what they call its anti-religious stand, and its bald-faced approach to sex and sexuality. However, The Handmaid’s Tale is not anti-religious, merely anti-fanatical. Nowhere in the text is the specific religion of Gilead mentioned; only that it is based on the Christian Bible. The Handmaid’s Tale sits at number thirty-seven on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most challenged books (100 Most Frequently Challenged Books 1990-2000).

The controversial nature of the book is made apparent by a quote from the Houston Chronicle on the cover of the 1998 Anchor Books Edition, “Read it while it’s still allowed.”

The holocaust begins with isolated incidents, bodies found in ditches. By the current time in the book, which is fluid in itself, the killing of doctors who performed abortions, or irreversible contraceptive measures on women (and presumably men,) or men who seek sexual satisfaction from each other, are formalized. During a “particicution”, in which the Handmaids are encouraged and required to carry out the execution of a man accused of rape which resulted in the death of an unborn child, Offred describes her own perspective:

There’s a surge forward, like a crowd at a rock concert in the former time, when the doors opened, that urgency coming like a wave through us. The air is bright with adrenaline, we are permitted anything and this is freedom, in my body also, I’m reeling, red spreads everywhere, but before that tide of cloth and bodies hits him Ofglen is shoving through the women in front of us, propelling herself with her elbows, left, right, and running towards him. She pushes him down, sideways, then kicks his head viciously, one, two, three times, sharp painful jabs with the foot, well aimed. Now there are sounds, gasps, a low noise like growling, yells, and the red bodies tumble forward and I can no longer see, he’s obscured by arms, fists, feet. A high scream comes from somewhere, like a horse in terror (Atwood 279-280).

One might say that the so-called particicutions provide an outlet for the frustrations of the Handmaids, frustrations with their daily life and position in society, but the occasions are nothing more than organized murders, used to reinforce the government’s psychological hold over the Handmaids, and also to get rid of those whom the government feels need gotten rid of.

The Handmaids are forced to rely on their wombs, their ability to reproduce, to survive. If a woman is incapable of bearing a child and has no useful household skills, and is unmarried, she is forced to go to the colonies, to hard and often dangerous labor, and worse living conditions. To reproduce the Handmaids must endure daily the indignities of their position, and when the government wants to reinforce their hold over the women, they give them a man, tell the women that he caused one of their own to lose the safety provided by becoming pregnant in a brutal act, and not only allow but encourage them to beat him to death.

The dead, leaders of rival religions, former doctors, men accused of gender treachery- homosexuality- are hung upon a wall for the inhabitants of Gilead to see. Since women are forbidden to read, their crimes are told in pictures, on placards hung around their necks.

Some might say that the display of the executed is the government’s way of reassuring the citizens that they are making the world a better place, but in reality it is no better than the likes of Hitler having lampshades and shoes made of the skins of the Jewish murdered. His government insisted that it was doing the right thing, too.

The government in The Handmaid’s Tale makes a practice of enslaving women, both as Handmaids and Marthas, and in the case of the Unwomen, as menial labor. They kill off anyone that disagrees with them, most especially those who might use their own religious text to point out the fallacies in the framework they have built their tyranny upon. No, there is no balm in Gilead, but only degradation for women, and torture and death for those deemed enemies of the state.

I love this place

On my way home from class tonight (and after sending Monkey on his way home, *sniffle*) I had to stop down by the park, and turn on my hazards, because there was, well, a hazard.

The herd of whitetail deer that habitually visit the creek that runs through the golf course, behind the college, and eventually peters out through the city park were crossing the road, in a very stately and regal manner.

I swear one of them gave me the royal nod, giving me permission to go back to my commuting once they were past.

In other news, I'm about a quarter of the way into my final Lit paper, which means I'm knee deep in argument mode, and hip deep in MLA standards for citations. About to get deeper as I get back to it. This is only the first draft, I'll turn it in tomorrow, then have a conference on it the week after Thanksgiving (thank god, a week off... a week which I'll spend puttering around and putting together my business plan).

When I finish with it, I'll post it here for your enjoyment, so ya'll can see that I'm getting some value out of my higher edumacation. Plus, after I finish this my brain will be too fried to write anything intelligent for at least two days. All that there book learnin' has done got me plumb burnt out. Considering half of my classes have been pushing to finish everything important before Thanksgiving break so that we can take it easy and just study for finals afterwards, and the rest are pushing to be able to cover everything before it's time for finals, well, it's no surprise that I'm needing a week off.

Thank god my Lit teacher is fairly relaxed about things, or I'd be screwed.

Not to mention some of Farmmom's punkin pie. Remember, Farmmom, you promised to make an extra just for me to bring back with me!

Once more into the fray, dear friends. Wherever I fall, there shall I be buried.

Or some such nonsense, anyway.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thank a Veteran Today

Since today is one of those days, I've decided to post here what I'm writing on my Operation: Love From Home cards.

To Those Who Serve-

This holiday season, you’re far from home, missing your families, friends, pets, and most likely your beds.

Some of you are in hellish conditions, being shot at, and running the risk of coming upon an IED daily. Most of you are living without things that we here at home take for granted each and every day.

Whenever I think about that, my heart feels heavy. I wish you could be home right now, hugging your wives and girlfriends, your husbands and boyfriends, your kids and your parents. I wish you had the luxury of going to an office, or to class every morning, like I do.

And then I think of my nephews, my friends and my family, and I remember that you stepped up and volunteered to protect them, and me, and my heart swells again with pride that there are such people in our society.

People who die, so that others don’t have to.

I am so proud that there are people like you in the world, and you can never know how much it is appreciated.

Some of you don’t get letters, or cards, or care packages. Some of you may be feeling lonely, like no one cares, but that isn’t true.

We care. I care. This card is for every soldier, sailor, corpsman or airman. But it is especially for those who are alone, or feeling down, or wondering why they were ever dumb enough to sign that contract.

This card is to say Thank You. Thank you for my nephews, my parents, my friends, and for me.

If you know a soldier who could use a pick-me-up, please, pass this on to him or her. If you know a soldier who needs someone to write a letter to, give them my address. I can not think of a better way to spend some time than in giving back to those who have left their whole lives behind, so that I can sit here and pen this note in safety, and in freedom.

Thank you, a million times thank you, for everything that you have given up, and everything that you do, so that others won’t have to.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Battle is Joined...

I girded myself for battle, preparing my body and my mind. I was looking forward to a nice, fierce fight, something to test my abilities and create within me the excitement of victory.

My opponent put on a nice threat display during our battle preparations, and my hopes were raised as I walked on to the testing ground.

Battle was joined, I pursued the advantage, pushing my opponent in every way that I knew.

Then I snorted in disgust as my opponent surrendered, without even putting up a token fight.

I am so disappointed in Monkey.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Just When You Thought It Was Safe...

To go off and have a life....

Let Sparky ride Monkey today, when I wasn't even around. Apparently Monkey took it into his peabrain to go rodeo for no apparent reason, and Sparky got dumped, pretty spectacularly, from all accounts.

Tomorrow, The Discussion. I didn't have time for a proper discussion today, so I'll go in tomorrow and see if he wants to pull that crap with me. If not, when Sparky heals up, he's already claimed his re-ride.

It's been a while since I've had to get Monkey to buck just to teach him that he can't do that, but if he's gonna pull crap like this, it's time to do it again. Hopefully I can catch one of the outdoor arenas empty, the trails are covered in piles of manure, and are completely useless to me.

Regardless, tomorrow I'll either be disappointed in Monkey.............

or we'll go rodeo and have a discussion.

Sitting at the Old Homestead...

Mamaw's birthday was yesterday, so I made the pilgrimage to the old homestead for her birthday dinner, and stayed the night, since I don't have class until eleven today and didn't particularly feel like driving home last night.

The kittens are mobile and making themselves known, they're starting to climb things and they're really getting into the whole cuddling and cute kitty thing. I don't have my camera but if ya'll beg real pretty I bet Farmmom and Farmdad would get some pics and send them to me so I can share the cuteness.

Hands are doing better... a little bit sore and stiff yet, and the actual owwies are... well... owwie.

On the bright side my foal is doing well now... he (I was mistaken, its a he, solid sorrel) was one of the best on the walk to the barn, and went in his stall without too much fight. He's also letting me pick up all four feet and tug on his tail. One downside to my newly easy foal is that he is noisy! He likes to whinny at all the others... especially when his head is right by my ear. Of course, he's so comfortable with me now that he just gives me the stink eye when I put my hand over his nostrils to make it slightly less noisy. He's also decided that his mouth is the proper vehicle for exploring his new friend, namely me. He's been sniffing and lipping at me a bit, but he's started to learn that biting isn't allowed now. He grabbed at my arm and got his nose smacked, so he moved on to trying to take the lead rope away from me.

I was rubbing on him, just petting and desensitizing him, and had the lead over my arm, when suddenly, the lead started going away, but the horse wasn't moving. I figured he was just turning his head, until it happened again. I looked over to see him with the lead held carefully in his mouth and an only slightly belated innocent expression in his eyes. Uh huh.

Later I had thrown the lead over his back and was leading him along with the slack (it's a ten foot lead, there's plenty) but the end of the lead was bumping his side, and he didn't like that. So, he reached back and grabbed the end of the lead and tugged, then let it go and continued following me, docile as could be. He'd pulled it just enough that the end swung down past his belly, rather than swinging against his side.

I just hope I can keep my bluff in on him, he's smart enough to figure it out when I don't want him to, if I screw up. But, he's better behaved now than some of them that were the best on the first day, now. Marilyn told me "You just had to convince him you were like a virus... you aren't going to give up and go away!"

Haven't I been proving my stubbornness all semester?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


When Curad says their bandaids are extreme hold, they mean it!

I like these things!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Yes, I AM the Toughest Cookie

And don't you forget it!

Foal training started today. We didn't get to pick our foals, we had to draw for them. I drew one of the smaller ones, but then I'm probably the lightest in the class, so that didn't make much difference.

I was also one of the last to get my foal, which meant I had less time to work with her. I drew a little sorrel filly, dainty head, pretty brown eyes....

And completely fucking psycho, or she was for a bit. They didn't snub her long enough, and she freaked when she felt a tweak on the halter... my gloves didn't grip the rope and she got loose. So I took the gloves off. But, she got me off my feet and I whacked my head... blacked out for a second and she was gone.

Keep in mind that there are nineteen foals in the arena at this point, and five or six horses. All of the foals are whinnying and neighing, and a good chunk of them all came from the same place, so they're all buddy buddy, and when they're scared, they want to be with their friends. They also rear, kick jump up and down, and basically do anything they can think of to get away.

Now me, I thought I had it pretty good, my little filly let me touch her right off, smelled my hand, all that good stuff... but then some of the others started going nuts and she had to jump on the bandwagon. Every time they got her caught she'd stand calmly after a little fight and look around, I'd take her, and talk to her... she was listening to me. Then one of the others would freak and she'd start struggling.

Picture this. Nineteen foals of varying descriptions, eighteen students (one girl has two foals, because they got too many in) all in a medium sized arena. I'm at one side of the arena, talking to and petting my little filly, when our neighbor, a big stud colt, goes nuts, and backs into her.

She rears, turns from me, and I keep my feet for a while. Then she somehow got a strong yank on the lead and I was down. Didn't knock my head this time, though, so I kept the rope.

Of course, she's got momentum, and I don't weigh much, so she's headed off for never never land... and I can feel the wind from her hind feet right above my head... not good. So, I let the rope slip a little, as we swung into a graceful turn... I'm on my back, one arm over my head, one behind my back, both hands on the rope.

About this time I began to notice that my pants, loose enough to fit around my hips, but not normally loose enough to fall off... are beginning a southward migration, thanks to the growing beach inside them. I looked down long enough to realize that everyone was gonna know what color underwear I wore today, and then realized I had bigger problems, as I began to feel the beginnings of road rash on my ass.

The filly finally stopped, and I lay there a moment wondering if she was facing me, or if I was about to get kicked, before getting up, and snatching my pants back up.

It was then I remembered that I had an audience, because they all started cheering.

Apparently, people had been yelling for me to let go, and once she stopped, get up... I had no clue.

Apparently, everyone else in the class had decided to stop what they were doing and watch me get drug in a nearly complete circuit around the arena.

Apparently, according to Sparky, I had a big grin on my face when I went by him.

I got a lot of "Are you ok?" But I just looked at my filly and told her "That was fun! Let's do it again!"

I've been awarded the tough cookie award for the class.

But the filly... who will remain nameless because they won't let me call her "Bitch".... went back to her pen on the end of a lead rope, with me on the other end... and she was leading, not being drug, like some of the others.

Meanwhile, I had to hit Wal-Mart before I came home to get some peroxide and a jumbo sized tube of Neosporin Plus Pain Relief.

Scrapes on the knuckles of my right hand, a chunk out of the palm right at the base of my birdie finger on that hand. The ring finger of my left hand the nail got pulled part way off... not really bad, but bad enough to bleed like a stuck pig, and the pinky nail bled a little, but it just got the skin pulled away from the side of it.

Road.. or arena... rash isn't too bad, just a few places where sharp gravel got me. Back is soring up, neck too.

And my watch stopped. Damnit. I liked that watch.

I wonder if I'll get a plaque? Or maybe a trophy...

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Today has been a pretty long day. I went out to the barn at eight, and fought with Monkey for a while.. he decided he didn't want to go to the arena first thing, and we had to discuss this a bit. His stubbornness was finally defeated with the simple expedient of backing him all the way to the arena fence. He was so focused on the fact that he was facing the barn, where he would much rather be, that he didn't notice we were at the arena until his butt bumped the fence.

I swear, if he could have, he would have slapped his forehead and said "Doh!"

Then he wanted to act up in the arena, but we handled that. Once he was behaving fairly well (and blowing just a bit) we went to the indoor arena for a while, because it was freaking cold and I had forgotten my stocking cap in the car.

After that, we went down by the rodeo arena where Monkey got tied to the fence to stand, while I hooked up a trailer and helped S work with her horse on getting in her trailer. Can't really blame Diablo for not wanting to get in there, it's a tiny side by side two horse, stubby and not much head room. I tried loading Monkey in, I was going to load him and unload him a few times with Diablo watching, but Monkey refused. To the point that he actually pulled the rope out of my hands, walked around to the side of the trailer, and looked at me like I was crazy.

Then, Farmmom, Farmdad, and Mamaw showed up with some of the calves, which are being loaned to the program to train the cutting horses on, and we unloaded them. After that was accomplished, I still had to finish cleaning Monkey's stall, and Monkey was still tacked up, so I sent Farmmom off to ride him while I finished up getting his stall ready for him.

She came back with the world's biggest grin on her face, it made all the fights more than worth it. I'm just glad she finally got to ride her horse, we've been trying to get her on him for a while now and it just never worked out. Now she knows for herself the difference, and doesn't have to take my word on it.

Now if I can just get ahold of the former boss about riding out some of her three year olds and get some extra income coming in, I'll be a happy camper, and able to pick up some of the tack that I've been drooling after for a while.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The magic of Auntie Farmgirl

"Anything you don't want going in his mouth, you'd better put out of his reach before I put him down. He's gotten really bad about putting things in his mouth lately."

My sister in law and my brother were at the apartment dropping off my nephews for me to watch while they did some blisfully grabby-hands free, and "mommy can I have?" free grocery shopping. My sister in law was speaking of my youngest nephew, at one year old, who is just getting the hang of this whole walking thing.

"No worries, I'll keep an eye on him."

She gave me a mocking glance, and they took off for the car, cackling with glee all the way. (Don't bother lying about it the walls are thin, I could hear you!)

So, I turned on Balto for the oldest, and handed the rugrat my keys to play with. Auntie Farmgirl has much experience with kids that age, and I knew that the keys would keep him entertained for a good five minutes.

Of course, he's at the age where he has to look at everything, and pick it up, and inevitably, put it in his mouth. He's teething, and he's just started to walk good, that's the way it works.

The magic comes in when he started pushing buttons on the dvd player.


He studiously ignored me.

"Rugrat, look at me baby."

He looked, giving that chubby cheeked "I know I'm doing something I shouldn't but I'm cute so you should let me anyway" grin.

"No no, Rugrat. Don't touch." I patted his little hands and shook my head.

He pulled his hands back and held them to his mouth, giving me a "you awful abusive woman!" look.

"Oh bull puckey, you're fine, go play with your truck."

And Rugrat giggled and toddled off to find something else to get into.

But he didn't push buttons on the dvd player again the whole time he was here.

It's magic! Heh.

Friday, November 2, 2007

So sad...

Today was my last "official" riding class. The EBM horses are going home today, those of us who have our own horses can keep them here, and I'm keeping Monkey, until right before Thanksgiving break, but I don't have to show up for a specific class at the barn now. I'll probably go out at the same time, since that's when I have free time, but I can ride whenever, now.

The barn is going to seem really empty and lonely once all of the other horses are gone.

On the bright side there's a lot I can do to work with Monkey now that I don't have to worry about participating in class, and there will be a lot more room in the arena. Today was cold and windy, and I had the top arena to myself for a half an hour. I have to hit Big R and get a snaffle, since I've been using the school's, and I have to turn that in, and I need to see if I can find a martingale, since I was borrowing Dani's. If I can't find a martingale, I can always pick up a couple of rings and some rope and have one of the instructors help me make one.

I also need to register for my spring courses, so that I don't have to worry about it later. I'll stop in at Del's office some time and have him help me out with that.

Foal training starts soon... we'll be getting weanlings to halter break, which will be fun.

I can't believe that the semester is almost over....