Archive for June, 2009

the oxer

There’s a vertical fence – three blue and white poles stacked one on top of the other. You come into it by way of a long, easy half-circle on the right rein, and then you are supposed to land on the left canter lead, loop around a small gate and tackle another vertical.

Sounds so simple! I cannot get this right. The first time, when I was sort of on my game, Austin landed on the right, incorrect lead and did a flying change in the first stride out. Acceptable, but things have gone badly downhill from there.

This time he is taking the left turn on the wrong canter lead, curving his body to the outside. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle shaped like an irritated banana. In my eagerness to change his canter lead I have completely forgotten the second vertical, with this utterly predictable result: Austin sees it before I do and picks a long spot, more or less at random.

He launches into space. I am what is called “left behind”. His forward movement over the fence catapults me from the back of the saddle onto his neck and we land in complete disarray. I fail to fall off by purest luck.

Of course the next fence, an oxer with a pole in front and back, is the biggest and most imposing jump on the course. I have a Thing about oxers. It is an entirely irrational Thing, because horses like them perfectly well and they often jump better than plain old verticals. Nevertheless I can’t quite believe forward movement will carry us over. I think I picture a Wile E. Coyote species of fall, where we hover gallopping in the air for a minute or two before looking down in chagrin and plummeting into the gap between the two rails.

This by way of digression. I am, you will recall, hanging around Austin’s neck trying to recover the steering and brakes before the giant fence ahead.

I begin at the beginning. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. My entire riding life passes before my eyes, every lesson to be reapplied. Heels down, getting my calves back on the horse’s sides and my thighs and butt back in the saddle. Eyes up and locked onto our track. Back straight, shoulders back, chest out, hands low and forgiving and forward on the horse’s neck. The lightest check on the reins, to tell him I am back in business, and pressure from my restored calves, to bring his canter up and bouncy and strong into the oxer.

This time I am not left behind. This time I am taken up in the Rapture.

wowed by a clock


Originally uploaded by Goop on the lens

It is a Princess Clock.

portrait artists young et cetera


Originally uploaded by Goop on the lens

tomorrow i will go to camp and she can work all day

I drove Claire out to Coastal Camp this morning.

Some explanation for the non-USonians may be called for: school is out, and thanks to the weird counterintuitive school calendar around here this means we rejoice in our graduating-kindergartener’s company for the next eleven weeks. Fortunately everyone else is in the same boat, so there are many options for parking your beloved short person with responsible adults during the working day. I went a bit mad with credit cards back in February, and Claire got the classic career mom’s overcompensatory holidays: spring break at Acrosports, then this camp, a science camp in Noe and a Mandarin immersion program over the summer.

My God, but Rodeo Lagoon is beautiful in the morning. It’s a green-grey, steep-sided valley, full of wildflowers, that opens out to the green-grey Pacific. Flocks of turkeys walked around gobbling; Claire found them hilarious. I left her with the very sweet and competent camp counselors, and she grinned and gave me two thumbs up as I drove away. It felt like ripping my heart out. These days my separation anxiety is worse than hers. I suspect that trend will continue.

Three deer walked in front of my car and stopped and looked at me with their lovely inhuman expressionless faces, like models. One had a scruffy little fawn, white spots still bright on its rump.

How come grownups don’t get summer camp?

time for jules to get her own blog

“Look, mummy!”

Julia has her dress pulled up like an apron. It is full of sand.

“It is my baby belly,” she explains.

“You’re having a baby?”


“A boy or a girl?”

“A girl.”

“What’s her name?”

Julia looks thoughtfully into her dress.


indulge me in a moment’s unseemly gloating

Claire’s choice for bedtime reading was the Cartoon Shakespeare Twelfth Night.

i do not think we mean the same thing when we use the word “life”

Here’s an observation. If your God is telling you to go and shoot a doctor while he is at church with his family? You have a bad God.

Abortion is a matter on which people of conscience can differ, but murder is not.

Doctor Tiller had more compassion and human decency than all of his opponents combined.

I gave in his memory to Medical Students for Choice and the National Network of Abortion Funds.

ETA: Abortion protestors have abortions.

Birth moms have abortions.

My friend had an abortion that saved her life.