And Then There Were Three

O.k., so we’re down to three concepts for this year’s Rose Parade float (which will be in the 2019 New Year’s Day parade).  I wish I could show you the drawings or even give you a verbal sneak peek!  Alas, I can’t!!!

I can tell you that one concept, none of us really liked.  Basically, our artist was too lazy to redraw it and gave us the same concept from last year.  (Full disclosure – our artist and I tend to butt heads.)

So, realistically, we’re down to two.  We need a bit more input on animation possibilities and challenges for both of them.  One in particular really needs some more fleshing out.

Theme Draft – that’s where float concepts get submitted to Pasadena Tournament of Roses’ Float Committee for approval – is likely going to be February 14.  So we’ve got to get it figured out by then!

Stay tuned!!!


“He’s Just a Hard-Keeper”

Slewy, my off-the-track Thoroughbred, has always been a hard-keeper.  I feed him and feed him and feed him some more, and he eats everything in sight (I think feeding time is his absolute favorite thing) but he’s still skinny.  I’ve done all the basics – regular deworming, regular teeth floating, basic blood work, etc.

I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t think I realized just how skinny he was.  I think its harder when your horses live at home and you see them at least twice a day.  I stopped seeing that his hip bones were a little too pokey and his ribs showed a bit too much.  Plus, when I got him, he was still “race fit” so I’ve never really known him any other way.

I haven’t written about it much (probably because I’m embarrassed) but I’ve owned Slewy for seven years now and really have made very little progress on his training.  He’s still definitely what you would call “green”.  There’s a variety of reasons for that – the biggest one probably being my own confidence issues.  So, when I found a new trainer for my daughter that we both absolutely love, I decided it was time once again to tackle Slewy.

I managed to get on him a few times but noticed that every time I got his saddle out, he would roll his eyes with this, “please don’t put that on me” look.  Things didn’t improve once I was onboard.  Poor Slewy was so terribly tense that I was constantly fearful that he was going to explode any minute.  Which, of course, made me tense, which sent the two of us in a vicious circle.

Finally, my new trainer came out to take a look.  She informed me just how ridiculously skinny he was and convinced me that he can’t “just be a hard-keeper.”  She suspected gastric ulcers.  Thankfully, the super fancy vet clinic nearby was sponsoring a talk by the Ulcer Guard folks and were scoping horses for gastric ulcers for just $100.  So, off we went.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it I suppose) Slewy didn’t have any glaring ulcers.  He had one little tiny ulcer (maybe) but his entire stomach lining looked inflamed and ouchie.  Honestly, I was more than a little disappointed that we didn’t have a definite diagnosis.

So I plopped myself down in my vet’s office (different from the fancy vet clinic).  We decided to make some major changes to Slewy’s diet and did a briefer (less expensive) course of Ulcer Guard.  I decided to give him a couple of months off.

That was all in October.  Now, in late January here, I think he’s finally a little fatter!!!  I still haven’t put him back to work because its been raining and my arena is a swamp.  Slewy just gets turned out with his buddy, brushed, and fed.  While he’s working on putting some weight on, I’ve been taking lessons on my trainer’s dead quiet lesson horse to try to improve my confidence and get my legs back in shape.  Next step for Slewy is to start back on the lunge line (once my arena dries out) and then we’re going to take a look at how his saddle fits.  I wish I could take some of my minis’ fat and stick it on Slewy.  Then everybody would be in better shape!

Maybe Slewy will always be somewhat of a hard-keeper.  But at least now I feel like we’re on the right track to him being healthier.  I’m trying to not worry about the fact that his one month off has turned into several months.  We’ll get back to riding eventually and hopefully it will be a better experience for both of us!

What Are We Going to Build?

Today was the first “concept meeting”.  This is Step One in deciding what our float is going to be this year (for the 2019 New Year’s Day Rose Parade).  We received 147 concept ideas!!  I think that’s the most ever!!!

The theme of the 2019 parade is:

Theme image

Well, that’s broad.  The theme is chosen by the President of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses (which is the “governing body” for the entire parade”).  Sometimes the President puts out a theme statement but I haven’t seen that so far this year.

O.k., back to the concept meeting.  First, we do a simple read-through.  Every single one of the 147 entries are read exactly as they were submitted.  Then, we start back at the beginning of the list.  In Round One, three votes keep a concept.  If it doesn’t get at least three votes, its gone.  There were approximately 20 people in the meeting so it doesn’t take much to get three votes.  This was perhaps the most brutal first round I’ve ever seen!  At the end of it, 147 concepts had been whittled down to 36!!!

Round Two involves a more thorough discussion of the remaining concepts.  Can we build it?  What decoration and animation possibilities do we see?  People are given the opportunity to advocate for a concept.  Believe me, there are no holds barred.  This time around, it takes a minimum of five votes to keep a concept alive.  Another 20 concepts were “killed”.  (That’s literally the language we use.)

Round Three is where it gets serious.  At this point, people have really identified their favorite concepts.  And believe me, people can become really attached to a particular concept.  More discussion ensues, more advocacy, more arguments for and against.  After a thorough discussion, everyone votes for their top three (in no particular order) by secret ballot.

That got us down to five concepts, with one being a clear favorite.  Each of those was talked through yet again.  Two more rounds of voting got us down to three concepts.  Whew.  147 to 3 concepts in three hours.  Not too bad!

Over the next couple of weeks, our artist will sketch out all three concepts and then we’ll meet again.  Stay tuned!

Pot Roast!!

We decided to have my Mom and mother-in-law over for dinner once a month.  Since  my Mom’s birthday was a few days ago, I asked her to choose the menu for our first dinner.  After giving it some thought, she said “Pot roast or swiss steak.”  To which my reaction was, “Ummmm . . . are you sure you don’t want a nice curry??”

O.k., I at least knew what a pot roast was.  Swiss steak I was a little more unclear on.  I had a vague recollection that it had something to do with pounding and breading and frying.  So, pot roast it was going to be!!

Off to the grocery store!  Just as I was about to pull out my phone to google “what cut of meat is a pot roast?”, I spied a big hunk of beef that was actually labeled “Pot Roast.”  Yay!!!

Once home, I pulled out my trusty, “Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook”.  download

For some inexplicable reason, my 12 year old self took this cookbook from my Grandmother’s house right after she passed away.  I’ve carried it around with me every since.  My adult self is super, super thankful!!  Of course, it had a recipe for Pot Roast. (Actually, it had several recipes although I decided to stick with the basic one and leave “Fruited Pot Roast” for another day . . . or never.)  It also has a recipe for Swiss Steak (of course it does!) and I was right about the pounding, breading and frying.

O.k., onto cooking.  I was slightly mystified by the ingredient “salad oil” but decided that canola oil would do.  I rubbed my dear pot roast with garlic, salt and pepper; coated in flour, and browned.  So far, so good.  Then it simmered happily in my Dutch oven along with potatoes, carrots, onions and mushrooms for four hours.

My Mom took over making gravy when she arrived.  She was slightly disappointed that I didn’t have something called, “Kitchen Bouquet” to add to my gravy.  “What’s that?” I asked.  “Its a liquid that makes your gravy taste like gravy.” she replied.  I’ll definitely have that on hand next time.

My pot roast was approved by both my Mom and mother-in-law!!!  Yay!!!!!  download 3

That’s not a picture of my pot roast but that’s pretty much what it looked like.  I was super proud of myself!  I felt so American housewife-y.

But next month, I think we’re going to have a nice curry.

Reset Day

The end of last week really fell apart.  All of my “living purposefully”, small goals, small steps, talk went right out the window.  I ended yesterday feeling miserable, depressed and like a total and complete failure.

Thankfully, for some reason, I woke up feeling much better this morning and am choosing to look at today as a reset day.  I’m choosing to focus on the fact that I did walk my dog three times last week, which included these lovely views:



I managed three days with much, much less sugar.  Three days is better than zero days!  And I managed a few posts here on my blog.

When I actually type it out, last week doesn’t sound all that bad!

This morning I read this great post titled, “Mindset Changes Everything” by Dr. Andrea Dinardo:  Dr. Dinardo points out that obstacles can be learning opportunities.

Right.  Learning opportunities.  What obstacles did I face?  Why did my new mindset go awry?  What do I need to look out for to make more progress this week?  What went well that I can build on?

I don’t have all the answers yet.  I do know that this is hard!!  I also know that my mantra needs to be “I can” and “I will” instead of “I want to” or “I wish”.

I was going to end this post with the thought that I will make this week a “better” week than last.  I think that’s another mindset I need to switch . . . away from the concept of “better”.  Last week, I did the best I could.  Thinking that I need to make this week “better” somehow implies to me that last week wasn’t good.  But it was.  I did a lot of things well.  And, if I didn’t do everything perfectly, well, that’s o.k.

So how about this . . . I will continue to move forward this week.



My Hair Salon Depresses Me

I have to start by saying that I absolutely love my hairstylist.  She’s been cutting my hair for pretty much all of the 20 years I’ve lived here.  She’s the only one who has ever cut my kids’ hair.  I’ve never, ever hated my hair after she does it.  (O.k., there was one time when she gave me a new cut, we both looked at it, and said, “Ummm . . . No!!!”)

I like the other stylists in the salon (well, one of them talks too loud for me but that’s my personal issue).  I usually look forward to getting my hair cut but, in the end, my time there depresses me.

Its the conversations the other stylists and customers have!  They complain about their ex’s or gush about their new crush.  They complain about their bodies or talk about their new makeup.  They discuss whatever they’re watching on TV and complain about cramps and bloating.  They talk about their terrible teenagers.

Mostly, I sit there and feel terribly out of place.  Like I just can’t relate.  Don’t get me wrong . . . I love being a woman.  I love dressing nicely and putting on makeup.   I love getting my hair done.

But I’m happily married.  For the most part, I’m ok-ish with my body.  I mean, I think I need to lose 10 pounds but when I say that other women tell me that’s absurd.  I’m super sorry to say it but I’ve never had cramps or been bloated.  I had easy pregnancies.  I don’t watch much on TV (we gave up cable because no one in our family watched anything on it) and my teenagers are really amazing kids.

And why do women complain so much???

I don’t mind commiserating.  And I don’t mind listening.  But I just don’t feel like I can really contribute without coming off as snobby or like I have all the answers.  But I don’t!!!  I don’t think I’m snobby and I certainly don’t have all the answers.

Maybe part of it is that I’m fairly private so even if I did have cramps, I wouldn’t share it with the hair salon.

And again . . . the complaining!  Am I the only one who feels like so many women just sit around and bitch to each other.  I definitely believe there’s a need and a time and a place for that but can’t we get past that and encourage, support, and uplift each other rather than just agreeing that everything sucks??  O.k., so maybe everything does suck but what are we going to do about it??  And wouldn’t it be better if we did that together??

I just want to belong.  And I don’t have all the answers.  And I’m sorry you have cramps.

Living Purposefully . . . Is Hard!!!

A few days ago I wrote about my intent to live more purposefully.  I had a bunch of vague notions about what exactly that meant.  I’ve spent the past couple of days trying to put those vague notions into practice.

Its hard!!!!!

As a mom, wife, attorney, and wearer of many other hats, its incredibly easy to get swept up in work, household chores and running the kids here and there.

So I’ve decided to focus on a few things I can control.  (Because as much as I’d like to believe otherwise, I can’t control everything – at least, that’s what my therapist tells me.

1. Eat less sugar.  I’m a complete sugar addict.  While working on the Rose Parade float, I lived on these little gems:   20171230_195427.jpg  I literally ate 10 – 15 a day!  The frosting is my favorite part!!!  Now that I’m home, I’ve been plowing through candy and ice cream.  There’s a tub of gumdrops in my car.  But I can feel the ill effects of the sugar.  I’m tired, not focused, not sleeping well, and my face is breaking out.  Its time to once again seriously decrease my sugar intake!

2.  Eat better – this goes hand in hand with number 1.  Less sugar, more veggies, fruit and water.  I came back from Rose Parade float the heaviest I’ve been in quite awhile.  Ugh.

3.  Write more.  Writing is something I’ve wanted to do for a very, very long time.  I’m not sure I have a book in me but I can give myself 10 or 15 minutes several times a week to post something here.

O.k., normally I would go on and on with a huge list of other things I’m going to do.  Stopping at three is another thing I’m trying to do differently in my “live purposefully” quest.  I’m trying to slow down.  Focus on a few things at a time.  Not become overwhelmed, feel like I’m failing and then beat myself up.

I keep reminding myself to take baby steps and be patient.  And not give up just because its hard.  More than “I want to do this”; “I can do this.”