Archive for September, 2012
I got back to the office today after more than a week of traveling on business and for fun. My desktop wallpaper is this picture of me sitting with Julia on the log bridge over the Garcia River at Oz. I looked at it for longer than usual this morning, because that’s where we spent last weekend.
Oz is a strenuous exercise in looking at landscapes of extreme beauty, eating delicious food, playing in the river and soaking up the sunshine. We read, we draw pictures, we toast marshmallows in the potbellied stove, we have long baths. It’s like everyday life only better. This year as I was reading in bed, an opossum came visiting on the deck outside, exploring the dome windows with its opossumy nose.
Speaking of which – local history, I mean – I paid more attention in the Point Arena lighthouse museum this year, and learned two Salient Facts therefrom. Salient Fact the First is that in the 19th and early 20th centuries the white settlers logged the living hell out of that part of the country, sending logs of old-growth redwood down the Garcia. There are pictures in this book, which I probably need to buy of the devastation. The logs ended up in San Francisco, building for example the house in which I live. So my pristine wilderness meadow isn’t, and it isn’t because it was torn apart to build my home.
Salient Fact the Second is also about the meadow, which turns out to be pretty much the San Andreas fault. The thought had never crossed my mind – that place is my sanctuary – but of course when I went back to look at Liz’s blog, she had already guessed as much. O promised land, what a wicked ground! No wonder I love you so much.
Already a hour into our window of opportunity, we have no product to ship. The CEO is hand-watercolouring the sign. The only employee had to be wooed away from solving puzzles. It is left to the investors (me and @jsgf) to juice the lemons and buy plastic cups.
Last night Claire and I went through her favourite cookbook and picked out the gnocchi, lasagne and baked peach recipes for her to make. Today after wushu we went to Lucca, the awesome Italian place on Valencia and 22nd, for pasta flour, amaretti and parmesan. (Some dulce de leche and tuna in olive oil snuck into my bag as well.) At the farmer’s market we found stone fruit, onions, spring onions, cilantro, kale, potatoes and Colin, who always has the best neighborhood gossip. At Good Life we bought meat, carrots and lemons. Right now I am baking paleo quiche (savory custard tarts in pancetta crusts) and the girls are about to make lemonade to sell at the street party around the corner.
It’s so rare that I find myself being more or less the mother I’d hoped I would be…
I just love this guy. Subtle and perceptive.
It requires almost a lifetime of riding to acquire really educated hands, because by “educated hands” we mean hands which are fixed on the reins with a resistance exactly equal to the resistance of the horse’s mouth against them, and hands so sensitive that they can yield the very instant the horse yields to their pressure. To continue that severe a pressure in the horse’s mouth even an instant longer than is necessary is to continue a punishment after the horse has yielded.
Also kind of totally Zen in a “you will never perfect this; deal with it” way.
In riding, you have got to feel. You cannot, and you must not, look. When you look down at your horse all you will see are your own mistakes! To keep from making those mistakes, keep your eyes up and focused on some definite point or some definite object.
The book is 62 years old but could’ve been written yesterday.
Remember, it is the horse’s job to throw you forward and upward, when posting with the motion. All you do is sink down in the saddle. The forward movement of the horse will then carry you back into position. Much of getting too far out of the saddle, twisting the upper body in mid-air before coming down, collapsing on the horse’s neck, or, in the other extreme, being thrown too far back so that the legs shoot out in front of the rider, is caused by the rider’s trying to do the horse’s work for him. The horse throws you forward and upward. You sink down. The horse’s forward motion carries you back. And until then—Wait for him!
Don’t just do something! Sit there!
But somehow, after weeks of trial and error, Randy and his team had accomplished the ideal. They had found a design that was both functional and beautiful. The swept-wing solar array looked like nothing that had ever been created before. It looked so good it just had to be right. And the calculations said that it might be able to hold as many as thirty-six strings.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty; that is all ye know on Mars and all ye need to know.
Woke up this morning thinking, worst case scenario, Bella’s still sore and I have to ride Jackson in the Grand Prix arena. Then I thought, I’ll just jump smaller jumps. Done it before, can do it again. (A couple of months ago when Bell was being naughty I was busted down to crossrails!) And sure enough I had to ride Jacks in the Grand Prix, and we jumped smaller jumps, and it was FINE.
I’ve been spending cycles thinking about how I can improve my riding given that it’s just not practical to spend more hours in the saddle. Three things came to mind: first, have a better attitude; second, read more books about riding; and third, use visualization.
Attitude: I need to make the most of every minute in the saddle, which means paying attention every minute of the lesson, taking criticism gratefully, letting go of my ego and accepting that making mistakes is part of the process. Books: my Kindle is now full of equitation textbooks and I’ve already gleaned a ton of ideas, such as visualization and having a better attitude. Visualization: before every course now I try to not only learn what jumps we’re jumping, but also to feel how the course will ride, what rhythm we’ll need, where the sticky parts are, where to sit still and go forward. What it will feel like. That, surprise! Is helping me develop my feel.
Salome came to cheer me on and we talked without stopping for several hours, about horses and children and love and art. We sat in the sun at the Crissy Field Center watching the shadows move across the Golden Gate Bridge, and I felt so, so happy and lucky.
…which is what we did on Labor Day afternoon. We all schlepped down to Noisebridge, where the girls did a circuit hacking class with Mitch Altman. Liz and Milo were there and Jamey and Rowan came too, and then Danny showed up. Danny and I curled up in the library writing. Every now and then Claire or Jules or Jeremy would come and give me a hug.
Claire made an LED lamp that changes colour. The frequency increases if you put your hand near it – it has an infrared sensor. Julia made a name tag with her name spelled out in LEDs. She soldered it all herself.
I love Noisebridge for being so close to us and so full of light, and for having a library, and for running this class deliberately to be at a family-friendly time, and for being a place where all my friends hang out, and for having as its motto “Be excellent to each other.”
Another week; they flicker past. The big trade show of the year tired me out so much that I would come home and lie down on my bed for an hour after work. The first day I didn’t do that, the girls were surprised. A coworker said today he never thought of me as the sort of person who worried about client meetings. I said “Ever asked yourself why I do three hours prep for every hour face to face?”
Claire has a new violin. The school is giving lessons, free, so we rented this half-sized instrument from a place on Market. It’s adorable. I want to learn myself. The feel of the bow across the string is tantalizing.
Speaking of, Bella has a sore foot and I have been riding Jackson. He’s a big sour old Thoroughbred, scary sometimes to watch because of his repertoire of evasions. But when I ride him with my best self, I can get him forward and soft. I can only get it for a minute or so at a time: hence, tantalizing. I want to stretch out the nice moments so they get longer and longer. The trainers talk about the feeling of being “on rails”, when the horse’s hind legs are pushing along a straight line and the reins feel like train tracks and everything feels preordained. I’ve had that a couple of times on Bells, and now I can get it a little on Jacks. It’s quite a feeling to ride this huge horse over fences, fearless. Lopity lope.
When I get off him, it’s another six inches or something before I land, versus getting off little Bella. My eyes are probably sixteen hands or so off the ground, but his wither is above the top of my head. He’s vast and gentle.
I’ve been intermittently organizing around the house and I made my folding desk into a proper workplace for myself, with paints and sketchbooks and pens and pencils, so that even if I only have half an hour I can make a sketch or a watercolor. On Labor Day Monday I was in a bad mood for various reasons, but I did a painting and it helped me to feel better. I am completely amateurish, which is the point: I am letting myself learn to fail more. Julia loves to paint with me. Claire likes it but is also enjoying her piano. We’re the Austen sisters around here, I tell you what.
Speaking of, Claire has mastered the rice cooker and the kettle, and tonight’s stir fry with chicken, broccoli, green beans and carrots was mostly her work. She taught Julia to make the rice. Claire likes to bring me cups of tea, and has been offering to make me gins and tonic as well. Kid knows her mother.
Jeremy’s lovely but between his new startup gig and wushu, and my promotion and the horses, we sort of terrorist fist-bump in passing. But he did get a haircut and is looking totally awesome. I wonder if he would go out with me.