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30 June 2013

The sunny spot on my front steps.

I'm sitting on my front steps in the sunshine. It's one of those still sunny days in Canberra. Maxie is outside with me. I often make phone calls out here on a nice day. Maxie scratches at the glass to join me and cried for me when I don't bring him out. He came trotting over to me when he heard the jingle of his harness. And purrs as I put it on.  I brought my laptop out with me, and it just felt natural to write while I sit out here with him, with the sun on me.  Is it a substitute for being able to pick  up the phone and talk to someone?  I don't know..  I'm feeling a little flat though all of a sudden today, and just spending some quiet time outside with Maxie felt like a nice thing to do. 

I had bought Maxie one of those extendable leads that people use on those strange creatures masquerading as a real dog, the rug rat.  Yes, I say a touch defiantly, Maxie's extending lead was pink!  Like his harness.  Alas and woe, my $30 rug rat extending lead, which works so well for an exploring creamy kitty that is our inside cat, is being held hostage inside Heath's chain saw he made for the drama performance Wakakkirri...  He was so inventive, it's such a good cardboard chainsaw and it's very realistic, and he was so excited saying "Mum - look what a great pull starter cord Maxie's lead makes for my chainsaw!!!!" that I didn't have the heart to say he couldn't use it. 

So then Maxie and I were stuck with a short lead, which is boring for him when I'm hanging out washing, or like today, I'm enjoying the sunshine with my laptop sitting on my lap on my front steps.  They are nice stairs, and I really felt like sitting out here and I've had many phone calls from this same spot.  But I had a little spot of brilliance, and attached Freelance's purple lunge rope to Maxie's short lead, and so he's wandering around through the leaves that I really should rake up, and he's enjoying the sunshine, and so am I.  And yes, there's a camera sitting next to me.  Creamy cats are a pretty irresistible subject I find.

The kids wanted a quiet day so we are not going ice skating. I have lots to do at home so that is ok although I'd have liked to have gone. We made a very late trip to the shed markets at Woden, but we were hopelessly late, so it wasn't productive.  But I do have some fresh fish to cook.  I'm hopelessly out of practice cooking fish.  I've no idea what to do with it, but will give it a go.  I got some flake for the kids (ok, surely I can crumb or just flour this, and fry it??????) and a piece of sword fish as well.  The market man said I could wrap that in foil and bake it, so I'll give it a go.  The kids were keen for fish, and I should try to cook more impressively I guess.  Sometimes though trying new things is tough.

I was touched when the lovely Greg Ambrose sent me the image at the end of this Post which he did last night for me.  He sent it in an email, saying "seeing double - what else would you expect from a doting mother?".  It looks great I think, when you forget for a moment that the images aren't brilliant to begin with because the light was so appallingly low.  But I'm pleased I took the camera with me yesterday.  Heath is a little sore today, in those muscles through the groin and that's normal.  Jessica is keen to ride after school tomorrow, so we'll do that because Monday is one of our few 'free' afternoons where the kids don't have any activities on.  That will be good for me, because it will mean that I'll ride twice tomorrow, because I have my show jumping lesson scheduled for the morning. 

For the rest of today I will try to get some housework done.  But first I'll enjoy the sunshine for a little bit longer, and Maxie and I will also head out the back yard to hang our washing out.  At least my hair is freshly washed today and so smells clean and nice, and is fluffy and wild looking.  It's getting very long.  Sometimes I wonder whether I should get it cut much shorter, and have a whole new me.  But that is a decision for another day.

29 June 2013

Such a good girl

Because yesterday was stupidly busy I didn't get to ride Freelance.  Last night the kids and I talked about it, and I said I might work her after Heath's soccer game.  Jessica piped up, and asked if she could ride her too..  I thought for a moment and then decided 'why not'.  As we were leaving, I asked Heath if he wanted to ride.  He said 'no' dismissively, and said he'd be too busy playing in the dirt.  I didn't push it.  So he threw on his track pants and runners and off we went.

I lunged Freelance (she's not getting much energy feed and was a bit of a slug on the lunge), and then got on her.  She felt lazy and cumbersome to begin with.  But my lessons with Grant are really helping both my riding and that all important confidence.  Freelance and I did a little work on the circle, but she needed to go 'large' to really start moving forward, so off we went, and all of a sudden, I was really riding her, and she started working truly, like the Freelance and Bronnie combination of old.  Both kids by this stage had buggered off, and I began thinking Jessica was going to miss out on her ride, which was a shame because the mare was just going so beuatifully and because Jessie was just so excited about riding Mum's horse.  So I called out to them as I rode past the arena door, and finally Jessica heard and came running. 

Jessica ran into the arena gallery, and then stopped, silent for a moment.  Then "Mummy...  you look so nice riding Freelance'.  It helps when Freelance and I ride well together.  She wanted to spook in the corner at one of the resident corner monsters, but I was riding well, and had her between my legs and my hand, and so instead she just travelled forward into the bit.

Then I got off her, and Jessica got on.  Dear Freelance.....  All of the work we've done with the kids on her in the past has involved me leading the mare and staying by the bridle.  I had Jessica on the lunge, just to be safe.  And Freelance didn't want to leave me.  Her earnest eyes looked at me, worried, and said 'no, I have Jessica on board, I am supposed to stay with you, I must keep her safe'.  Finally I encouraged Jessica to steer Freelance out, and told Freelance she was a good girl to leave me.  Freelance looked worriedly at me, then said 'ok, you know what you are doing, I shall take care of your little girl'.  I asked Jessica if she was ready to trot?  Then said 'and forward to trot'.  Jessica gave her a little kick and off they went.  I allowed Jessica to rest her hands on the saddle, because Freelance is bigger, with a bigger and bouncier stride than the ponies she's used to riding.  My darling mare...  There's been much said wrong about this mare.  Many insults thrown at her, and many offers to dispose of her.  But she looks after the kids with a kind look in her eyes.  Each time they stopped for a rest Freelance pushed hopefully at her side reins (which I'd put back on to keep her mind on the job) and said she'd had enough.  But then willingly went forward again.

When Jessica was up and trotting, Heath arrived back in the arena.  He looked at his sister trotting on Mum's horse.  Heath hasn't ridden for a while.  Then suddenly asked if he could ride her.  I looked up instantly and said 'of course you can'.  He was impatient for Jessica to finish.  And a little nervous when he got on.  And looked a little all at sea.  He began kicking dear Freelance, who again wanted to stay with me, because that's what she'd been trained to do, and his heels got close to her flanks, which she didn't like.  I stopped Heath, and said 'heels down, sit up', and he remembered how to do it (he did about 6 months riding), and then got the rhythm back.  To begin with his stirrups were too long, but he got his balance back beautifully once I fixed them up.  He didn't want to get off, and Jessica was jumping up and down begging for another go.  Freelance was simultaneously saying she was tired and had had enough.  So Heath did a little bit more, and then Jessica jumped back on for another half dozen circles.  Technically I should have changed rein, and done then both ways, but that can wait for another day.

But look below at my gorgeous mare who, with only 3 weeks back in work, and really only being worked once or twice a week at that, didn't put a foot wrong with my kids.  It was almost dark, and we were in the indoor arena, and these images are taken one handed, at ISO 8000-10000, at f.28 and at a max of 1/60 of a second, so I am the first to admit that they are very definitely a little bit marginal.  But they tell a story.  And it's such a nice story it is too... Thank you Freelance.. my love..   my darling..  

After we rode and got home my brother Tom and the boys came over for dinner.  So in addition to our joy with Freelance, and Heath's soccer team having a great win in their game, today has been a very good day.  

What more could a girl ask for???????????????????

Look at him smiling..  he was so pleased with himself.  I always have to remember to wait until Heath is ready to do something like this.  Then all of a sudden he surprises me and does it.  He was so very pleased.....

Jessica.   Finally riding her mum's horse properly..  She was so excited....

"Mummy..   she's quite bouncy....'  Freelance is bigger than the ponies Jessica rides.  And has a bigger, and bouncier trot.  They look great together though, don't they?????

28 June 2013

End of Financial Year

I always used to be frantically busy at the end of the Financial Year when I worked at CSIRO.  Back t then, I worked in the finance and commercial area, and there were always the end of financial year close offs to do, all the accounting tasks, which were in addition to the usual end of month processing requirements.  Then when I moved into the Deputy Chief Executive's Office, it was more of an approval and monitoring role, but it also meant the next years budgets were needing to be approved and there were always last minute contracts that HAD to be approved and signed before the 1st of July.

The horseless desert that was CSIRO is now a thing of the past.  I still have good memories, and believe completely in it's purpose and its philosphy, but my job and section vanished when I was at home with Heath.  When I returned to work my section and team had disbanded, and that those sections that I had once been part of were transferred to Melbourne and Sydney. 

But my end of financial year period is still very busy, and it's fair to say that it is full of many of the things which make my head hurt.  Tasks like bookwork, invoicing, tax returns, depreciation absolutely make it hurt, but the good news is that the overdue tax return is done, and I even have made an appointment for August to get my 2012-2013 return done.  That will be record time for me! 

So I seem to be dashing from appointment to appointment, answering frantic emails asking for images, raising invoices, trying to work out which items to purchase to get myself out of that technical hole, and pulling images together for an important book, as well as running the kids around to their various sporting commitments.  I'm about to take Jessica horse riding now, and after this we've just booked tickets to go to the movies tonight, to see Despicable Me 2.  It's one of the great benefits of motherhood that you get to go to the movies to see completely cool movies like this!

I seem to have been on the phone a lot this week, and alas and woe, with 3 appointments today, I didn't manage to work Freelance, even though I hopefully put my boots and jodphurs on.  I will try to hop on her over the weekend.   We're back ice skating this Sunday too, which will also be lots of fun.