Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Stupid *should* hurt.

So it was one of those days where self-doubt kicks in in a big way and I wonder what the frig I'm doing teaching people to ride when clearly I can't do so myself *sigh*. Now I realize that's just the devil on my shoulder and when Si does super-well @ the dressage show this wknd I'll be all happy again, but still -- for today, that was there.

Warmed up beautifully, but almost as soon as we started to actually work, things fell apart *sigh* There was really no connection on the flat. She was high and stiff and sticky and coming through just was not going to happen. Would've been a good day for a hack.

So we start to jump. Wheel of death w/ the jump at X (approach from E or B) and as I'm warming up over this, another fence is put just after H and just after F - both on angles. So the wheel has spokes -- several strides between going one way, 3 or 4 going the other way. And the center jump became an oxer (not huge by any stretch of the imagination).

Sienna was still high. Bad memories of our usual jumping methodology from several months ago. As I type this I realize that this shows how far she's come, but at the time it was just "how did we regress so far so fast?" and I know logically it's cause she hasn't jumped in a week and is feeling pretty full of herself, but after crappy w/u and knowing I wasn't riding particularly well, logic doesn't jump to the front of the thoughts.

So we're jumping around and I'll tell ya, 3 of the 4 ways of approaching that center one were no problem. But the 4th??? I couldn't see a spot if it were barking and sitting on a fire truck. And one time was particularly horrendous and led to us entirely demolishing the fence (a first for Sienna) and me sitting on the ground next to the wall (not a first for me!). hahaha Is it sad that that's the *second* time this week a coach has suggested to me that if I'm going to fall it'd be better not to do so next to a wall?!?!?! (to be fair, I didn't actually come off the first time!) Anyways wrenched my shoulder and banged my ribs up a little but not seriously hurt anywhere but my pride *g* Was a definite example of stupid should hurt though. I rode like an idiot, and I paid for it. Fortunately my pony, while a little disturbed by the whole thing, was uninjured. So we jumped around some of the easy stuff an tried it again. And again. And again. And eventually got the whole figure 8 working. Got to the point that Si was jumping really well and I, well I wasn't causing any harm. So we stopped there. But really, I never got my act together. Blah.

Did have to laugh though as in the SAME lesson I got told "to jump this horse, your position has to be perfect." And "you can't be perfect, and trying to be is detrimental to your riding." hmmmm tricky! The reason for the first is that she's tiny and incredibly responsive, so every slight movement makes a huge difference to her. The reason for the second is by aiming for the impossible, you continually set yourself up to fail, and then stress because you're failing, and so things get worse. Both make sense. Hard to apply both at the same time though! Aim for perfection; tolerate excellence. That's my compromise :) Unfortunately didn't even come close to either today but now that I'm done typing this, today will cease to exist and the world can go back to functioning the way it should!

Hunting Recap - Christopher Kerr

As I've mentioned before, I'm always interested to see how other people view the same events I do... At the same place, at the same time, but somehow the stories are never exactly the same... So today we have a guest blogger! This blog follows the Of Foxes and Facebook post and is written by Chris Kerr -- the highschool friend of mine who invited me (and a friend) to go hunting last weekend. We had an amazing time and he was amused enough by my post to write a response... So here it is! Enjoy!

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It was soooo much fun having you guys out last week. Having read your take on the day on your blog, I thought I should respond in kind :)

As you said, I had my reservations about the day myself. The weather was not looking good all week and I thought I was sticking my neck out a bit by inviting someone that I hadn't seen in years and whose riding I could only vouch for by reputation. That, compounded by the fact that you were bringing someone who I didn't know at all and would be riding borrowed horses for whom I would feel responsible made me wonder what on earth I had been thinking when I extended the invite. To make matters worse, we weren't meeting at the same place. I know Tracy would look after you fine, but it removed the option of me changing my mind if it turned out that I was out of my mind by inviting you.

Kris picked me up early on Sunday and we made our way to the meet thinking we were running late. It turned out that we were right on time and drove by Dave's farm just as you were arriving so at least I knew you had made it out ok. We got to Cornerstone farm in plenty of time and were among the first to arrive. I tacked up, got dressed and generally fussed about for a bit saying my "Good Mornings" to the Masters and assembled riders/car followers. Once people had started to mount up and make their way over for the stirrup cup, I began to get worried as you guys hadn't shown up and the field would move off sharply at 11. I decided I would hack down the road and meet you guys en-route. It turned out that you were just about there by this point and I felt much better finding you both happily mounted and well turned out (as pompous as it sounds, that was a HUGE relief for me. I brought a guest once before who didn't have proper riding habit and "tried their best" to look the part. Ughhhh)

After a brief welcome from the masters and the hosts, the first flight took off across the XC course while the hounds drew the woods in behind. I was happy that you both agreed that, at this early stage at least, discretion was the better part of valour and we followed the first flight down the road. As you mentioned, Paynter was a "bit" high and dancing around pretty good, but clearly no more than you could handle. Charlie was, of course, perfectly well behaved and clearly not going to be an issue. I had my doubts about Paynter however. Once horses and riders were settled, I think we made the right decision to move up to the first field. After the first run, I could tell by the ear-to-ear grin on your face that you were going to have a good day and since by this point we had left Jenn/Charlie well behind, I did a quick circle back to check on them. Jenn seemed to be doing fine and was happy riding towards the back of the field and in good company so I left her to enjoy her ride, though I did check back on her from time to time throughout the day.

I don't need to re-iterate the details of the days riding as you were there and I couldn't recount it any better than you, however you missed a good run at one point. After the coyote was viewed across the field with the hounds in full cry, there were the moments of confusion as the field were at a loss as to which way to go to get in on the run. You chose the high road and followed the field over the stiffer fence into covert, where I ran back down the length of the field to the smaller coop where we had been checked moments before. I had some idea where the hounds would come out and opted to take the faster run through open country intending to get to the other side of the covert first to see the hounds come out. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a bottleneck at the fence when I got there as it had been knocked down a bit and had a large hole in the near face that was causing a number of horses to refuse it. Once everyone got out of the way, I put Fergus over and took off around the fields. The footing was as good as any that day and the 5 or 6 who followed me had a fantastic run of a mile or so to the check by the cornfield where I met back up with you. By the time we got there, the hounds were head up (lost the scent) and after the remainder of the field caught up we headed off.

At this late point in the day, there were not many of the field left (I still don't know where/when we lost them) and while I will never vote in favour of calling the day, I will admit that I had had enough and was not at all disappointed when the huntsman blew for home. The mile or so of serious power-trot that we had on the road heading back to the trailers was a bit much on the legs at that late point in the day, especially since we chose to take in the XC course that we skipped on the way out, so when we got in I was very happy to dismount and stretch a bit. It was over 3 1/2 hours start to finish which is a long day, even for those of us who hunt twice a week. A friend often carries a GPS to track the total distance covered but he was not out that day so I couldn't even guess at just how much ground we covered, but it was a lot.

It was a shame that you guys couldn't make it back up to the house for the breakfast. Hunting is as much a social activity as it is an equestrian sport and the food is always fantastic, not to mention how much I enjoy my post-hunt gin and tonic.

In closing, you guys were fantastic guests and I hope you had as much fun as I think you did. You were lucky to have picked that day to come out. It was far and away the best day of the season (So far, at least. The season isn't over). The weather was great, the field was large and the sport was good. Not much more you can ask for in a hunt. You are both more than welcome to come out again (and invite friends).

Flash Fiction #11 - Last Dance

Enjoyed this one, AND kept it well under the word count :) Couldn't come up w/ a good title though -- suggestions???

Happy Hallowe'en!

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Last Dance

She felt the power course through her as she danced skyclad between the stones. To those watching she seemed to take on an ethereal glow, particularly eerie in the twilight drizzle. She was young to be High Priestess, and some of the braver souls had muttered objections when she took the post, though none doubted her now.

She had fasted through the three nights of the Samhain feast in order to prepare herself for what only she knew would be her last dance. But this moment, this last festival, was her chance to honour those who had given her such power.

She danced for her clan, giving their thanks for the successful harvest, and in supplication for future gifts. She danced for the spirits of those who had passed since last Samhain, to help the traveling dead reach the otherworld. But mostly she danced for Morrigan, the intensely powerful warrior goddess with whom she'd always felt most connected. Her mind opened and her body moved entirely of its own accord.

As the sun set, the hearth fires were all extinguished, leaving only the druidic fire she danced around to cast its shadows. The ancient stones she weaved between came to life as she passed through, seemingly swaying with the movement of her arms. The drums pounded but she heard them not, lost in the rhythms of her soul.

It was the festival of the dead, and she welcomed their presence as the spirits joined her dance. Even the least spiritual of the watchers could see the shadows of the dead as they passed by the stones. Shadows moving where none should be. And still she danced.

A faint breeze caused the shadows to whisper, and the watchers shivered knowing this dance was going far beyond any they had ever experienced. As with any who dance with power, it changed her slightly, brought her beyond the reach of the ordinary, and caused her people to regard her with awe rather than friendship. But she had never sought friendship. And so she danced.

The light and the dark warred within her as she whirled around the fire and between the stones, her painted body a work of art. As she danced, the head of each family ceremoniously entered her circle, one by one, to light a torch from the druidic fire. These would be carried to each hearth, uniting the entire village with the power-infused flames and protecting them from the spirits of those past. Her young sister Aibhilín, her only blood relative, was the last to approach. The young girl started in bravely, but shied away from the figure dancing. This was not her sister. Not the girl who used to run and play and would dare her to go out in the woods after dark. This was a woman shrouded in power; Aibhilín could sense the one she loved was already half lost to the spirit world. She quickly retreated outside the circle as she felt the dancer look right through her, apparnently seeing something Aibhilín could not and did not want to imagine.

The night was coming to a close -- the last of the stars were setting and dawn was just about to crack the horizon, but still the power did not lessen. If anything it seemed to build. Those still at the circle would later speak of a buzzing on the air, a palpable tension that held them enthralled. Exactly as that new year’s first beam broke the Samhain night, there was a loud crack and a bolt of lightening from the otherwise clear sky reached out to strike the very center of the druidic fire, momentarily blinding all who watched.

And when their sight returned, the eerie tension was gone, the traveling spirits seemed to have crossed, the druidic fire was out, and she who had danced with unrivaled power, was gone.

Happy Birthday Mum!

Today's post is just to say happy birthday to my mum :) My most truly dedicated reader (I think it's in the job description :) who despite having no interest in horses or most of the other things I write about still reads every post. hahaha

Happy 29th Mum :) Hope it's even better than it was the first time :)

And the horse once again teaches humility *g*

Yeah so I had an absolute blast on Sunday (as you *might* have gleaned from my previous post!) and was pretty happy on Monday to discover I was not sore @ all. Not bad after what 3 n a half hours riding -- much of it in 2pt. hahaha so taught all night Monday -- no problem (students were superstars so I was pretty thrilled at that). And then today I finally got to ride Si (who's now had two days off and was a *little* high).

Now by this point, all thoughts to musclesoreness are long since gone cause really, Sunday was a LONG time ago and I was fine. You'd think by now I'd clue into the fact that it's the-day-after-the-day-after when any soreness really kicks in, but still wasn't thinking that way. Got on, rode the zoomies out, shortened stirrups to jump, lasted less than 10 mins before my calves were SCREAMING. Jumped one fence too many and they just turned off. And of course me being me and Sunday having been SOOOOO long ago I'm sitting there brain spinning to figure out *what* is going on. It took me entirely too long to clue in to the fact that those muscles might've worked just a little more than usual this wknd *g* (esp after the no-stirrup drills of Sat) hahaha so then I just felt like an idiot -- but was amused enough that I figured I'd share. Will admit though that I'm rather glad tomorrow's lesson is dressage!

Alright off to cooking class now. And yes, for the record, there have been reports of ice skating in hell today.

Of Facebook and Foxes

Gather around and I'll tell you a story... A story of times long past and never-forgotten traditions. And how Facebook brought them together.

The never-forgotten tradition is the sport (art?) of foxhunting. Now those who've been following my blog from it's beginnings might remember my virgin foxhunting adventure (here) when I was down south. And that post has some of the whole history/psychology of the sport so I can skip that this time and just go to the FUN aspect. Later :)

Now if you go back even before the days when foxhuting was in its glory, you eventually hit the days when jousting was *the* sport to win. Until yesterday I didn't know this was still practiced. I'd certainly never met anybody who'd participated. Now I've met three :) One of whom by all accounts is evidently pretty good at it. Gotta admit that's not one I'd ever be even slightly inclined to try -- I see nothing good coming of it!

And then you get the more current times and the whole social networking idea. And the fact that through Facebook I've "refriended" people I haven't seen since highschool, and in pre-internet times would probably never have seen again... One of whom, somewhere along the way, learned to ride :) And invited me to go foxhunting w/ him :) And now you see how the stories connect. And he amazingly found seasoned horses for both myself and a girlfriend of mine to borrow (yeah Sienna's just not doing this!) and away we went...

Now I have to admit I wasn't entirely sure about this. I enjoyed the last time I went, but was sort of iffy about this one. Catch riding a horse I know nothing about, belonging to somebody I've never met, who's a friend of somebody I haven't seen in more than a decade, across territory I don't know. . . AND it was rainy and miserable all week. But J *really* wanted to go (on her "something I've always wanted to do") list and when I got up on Sunday morning it was bright, sunny and just about the perfect temp out. Ok so that made the day seem much better :)

So we find the farm where we're meeting our horses and the woman who brought them for us was super-friendly and welcoming. J's horse was a HUGE chestnut draft named Charlie whose tail was entirely burrs that M was doing everything she could to battle. Charlie was chosen purely for his "safe" quotient. He's the ultimate babysitter -- as long as he can stay w/ one of his girls! Big, quiet, and bombproof. Happy enough to gallop, but not going to be dumb on the way. My horse for the day was Painter, a TB cross (I *think* Holsteiner but don't quote me on that -- sorry T if that's not right!) who I just adored.

Ok everybody on and ready to go. Have to admit I was somewhat amused by the last second filling-of-the-flasks. hahaha and head out to hack over to the starting point. C (hs friend who set everything up) met us half way, which was somewhat of a relief as I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to find somebody I haven't seen in years in the chaos of a hunt getting ready to head out. My plan was to look for the horse who I'd seen pics of (yeah FB!) who looked a little like a giant Zel hahaha but this made life much easier. At the meet pre-ride shots were served and the "welcome" message from the Hamilton side of things (was a joint meet and Hamilton was hosting).

And then the games began :) We figured we'd start in the second flight partially to get to know our horses and partially to see how well J's back would hold up. Now J's horse was being a wonderful couch. Walking along quietly entirely undisturbed by the surrounding chaos. Mine was bouncing. hahaha I have no idea what that gait we were doing was but it was highly athletic and somewhat amusing. Finally the others started to trot so I had hopes she would settle -- and she did, but not to the trot. Instead we had the most gorgeous collected canter I've ever sat on. N I tell you, pirouettes would've been a complete non-issue. Was very tempted to try it *g* hahaha but given how closely packed together everybody was that just wouldn't've been a good idea at all!

Anyways, after the first trot set, my horse was still bouncing (although to give her credit she was willing to stand when everybody stopped -- she just didn't really want to walk...) and J was happily doing well w/ Charlie so voted for joining the first flight. Woohoo. Switching groups we got right away to a reasonable canter -- which was *much* easier to ride than the bouncing walk. Prob the nicest canter I've ridden since Zel actually, so I was quite enjoying that. This group was way more fun to play with. Within a very short time got to go on our first gallop and I'm afraid Painter and I left Charlie and J way behind. hahaha oops :) Was a solid gallop though and she's reasonably quick *g* Not actually as fast as I'd thought she might be given the pent-up adrenaline but still fast enough that it was hard to see through the wind in my eyes *g*

Got the opportunity for a much faster gallop shortly thereafter when somebody's horse had an issue getting through a tight spot, causing a backup... So then each person who got through said spot after had a nice FAST run across a flat field -- and since there was no group, there was no rating against the other horses -- just go as fast as you can till you get to where the others were stopped. That was a riot. Bridge reins and go. Definitely the fastest run of the day, and early enough into the ride that she was still in bouncing mood. Has amazing breaks though -- gallop to halt w/ nothing inbetween. A sit-up-or-else scenario *g*

There were some places with rather iffy footing thanks to all the rain the day before. One rather large sinkhole ate one of the horses... Horse and rider went swimming. Fortunately both were ok -- if a little muddy. All, of course, because the rider was wearing a new hat. We all know the first outting for a new hat will get it dirty, so really this was a given...

As for getting dirty.... One run through the woods we were going possibly a *little* faster than the terrain might've warranted and we whipped around a corner to find a rather large low branch -- the kind that's not going to move out of your way. So I ducked and then turned around to shout a warning to the people behind me, but as I turned back I got beat by the little branch I didn't see cause I was too busy warning the people behind me. Sheesh. Not tragic, but rather ugly looking. Going to either have to actually invest in makeup again (and we're back to the whole highschool thing) or invent some good stories for the clients at the day job. At the barn -- no problem. hahaha but somehow expectations are different in the office and a nice red scratch across your face is not exactly socially acceptable. Sheesh.

Throughout the day we got in a reasonable number of jumps (even got sent ahead of the master @ one point when *his* horse didn't want to jump!), some fast trots/slow canters through very twisty woods, fun fun fun. Somehow, despite my intention to remain @ the back of the pack, I ended up right at the front and stayed there for most of the ride. hahaha poor form perhaps, but all the other people up there were very welcoming :)

Unfortunately J's horse got winded and had a bit of a bloody nose part way through so she and T dropped back and spent the last hour or so walking. She assures me she still had a good time though and Charlie? He couldn't care less -- his main goal was "find food, stay with the girls" and he managed both goals so seemed pretty proud of himself :) Others in the field disappeared at about the same time. I'm not sure where they went, I just know our group shrunk significantly. hahaha And they missed one of the most entertaining runs of the day... There was some really tight brush and then a clearing w/ a slight uphill. This was followed by a reasonable downhill (more than you'd think until you crested the first one) and back up again the other side. So the first few got through the brush no problem and trotted off up and down the hills -- way out of sight of all of us who were on the other side of the brush -- but then somebody got tangled in it (does this sound familiar anybody?) and they got free so that was good, but the rest of us had to get through. Now there are times when you can trust your horse, times when you can't, and times when you have to. This was a case of the latter! I know she's not going to go somewhere she can't fit -- but I also know she's not about to account for the rather upright person on her back. So I gave her her head, ducked down beside her neck as close as I could get to her, closed my eyes (literally -- I'd already been beat up once!) and told her to go. And she did. Got us through there no problem! But unfortunately the woman who was right in front of me had a little more of an issue and ended up on the ground. Now as the other horses by this point were long out of sight, her horse stayed with us. C got off and gave her a leg up and we were good to go. One of the other riders had come back to find out what was going on and now everybody was through the brush. Well clearly -- have to go catch up! Except I don't know if anybody other than the one who came back knew about the hills. hahaha judging from the commentary afterwards I suspect not. As we crested the first one flat out and I saw how steep it was I had one of those crystal clear moments where the voice in my head speaks very calmly but in a tone not to be ignored -- in this case telling me "you'd really better sit up and ride." hahaha it's really easy to end up on autopilot out there but this was not an appropriate time for it *g* Anyways -- that was an awesome run w/ just a *touch* of an adrenaline rush (if for no other reason than "please jump the ditch at the bottom or we're going to die").

Continued in this vein for a while. Was just sooooo much fun. All different types of terrain with times to sit and chat and relax inbetween. Took a few photos -- but I wasn't nearly as good as some who were taking pics while galloping! hahaha my excuse is that my camera doesn't have a wrist strap *g* Which is entirely true, but I suspect it wouldn't've made any difference if it had :) Of course these are the same people who had no problem passing the flask around at a gallop either!

This hunt had a very different feel from the one I did in the States. That one had more jumping (yeah!) but less really serious gallops. And no hills *g*. It was also far more formal. This group was a younger crowd and far more entertaining :)

We got back and jumped a few fences and then I hacked back alone to the farm where I'd started -- somehow lost the like 8 other people who had started there :) But everybody regrouped eventually! I couldn't believe how super-friendly and welcoming everybody was. Absolutely amazing. Had *such* a good time. There was a dinner afterwards which we were invited too but by the time we were done bathing the horses and chilling out with the people who kindly lent us said horses, there just wasn't enough time left (damn responsibilities!) so I just stopped in to say bye and thanks and then we headed home for the day...

And the fox? (who I think was actually a coyote...) he escaped to play another day. Much to my great relief.

An interesting lesson

So very interesting lesson today.

For the record -- this is likely going to entirely lose my non-horse audience so feel free to skip the next few paragraphs... I'll *** it or something when it comes back :) And really the entire post will be equine related....

So in trot, shoulder-fore, shorten, straight, lengthen. Ok this is pretty standard now and while the shoulders may or may not actually come it it does tend to get her connected pretty solidly. So good to go. Then it was walk, leg-yield out, 180 turn on the forehand IN, trot, canter new direction. Anybody catch the tricky part there? The capital letters should give a pretty clear hint :)

Now if I'm leg-yielding out, that sets up for a really easy turn-on-the-forehand (henceforth TF) out. Flexion is in, horse is bent around inside leg, horse's hindlegs are moving away from inside leg. It makes sense to me to just stop the front end and have the haunches continue to the outside off the inside leg. (still with me?)

But no, we're to leg-yield out and then bring her haunches IN for the TF. So change bend, direction of movement, active leg, everything. This managed to confuse both Sienna and I the first time *g* She ended up tangled and stopped -- unable to go anywhere, and I was still stuck on "you want me to do what?" hahaha so we trotted around once and tried again when *I* @ least knew what was expected and so had a much better chance of explaining it to Si.

Anyways -- it wasn't pretty, not going to win us great marks in dressage, but she did it and really made an effort and when we trotted off the canter transition was... Really good. Like *really* good. AND it even worked to the usually-impossible direction. So needless to say I was pretty thrilled at that. Confuzzled though. Thoroughly.

"So, that clearly worked, but I don't understand why...?" And this coach being relatively patient w/ my continual need to understand the whys of whatever we're doing (after all -- how else can I teach somebody else to do it if it's still magic to me? :), explained that that exercise was basically gymnasticising the outside (soon to be inside) hind. In the leg-yield, the inside hind crosses in front of the outside hind. Same thing in the TF. So we're all good right? Except that when the TF is in the opposite direction of the LY, the leg that was behind has to swing around and come in front to cross back the other direction. Which they have to drop their butt and really stretch to do. Cool eh?

Now what I still don't get (and didn't think of @ the time) is that that leaves you w/ the inside hind in the power position and it's the outside you need for the canter transition so the logic is missing a *little* there hahaha but the whole gymnastic effect was interesting and it certainly had her balanced and listening so made it easier to go from there to outside-hind engaged and correct canter depart.

******end of technical horse babble*****

and on to non-technical horse babble >;-P

Interesting exercise in the canter. Typical lengthen/shorten. And he wanted it for 6 strides only (3 to establish and 3 to maintain and then switch). The catch? Count strides -- the same way we do when we're jumping. Short - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6, long - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6. ummmm walking and chewing gum anybody? hahaha I gotta tell ya, honestly I couldn't entirely see the point. I understand the point of counting strides to jump, and I understand the point of counting for rhythm on the flat (albeit only to 2 for that...) but this seemed a little random. However, taking a lesson, give it a fair try. Well within about one 20m circle I had the best canter I've had on her. Balanced and connected and lengthening and -- better yet -- shortening! Without breaking (a continual issue for us). The odd time I missed a number or two trying to do too many things at once, but I was pretty close to on count.

"So did you notice you were able to maintain the canter?" (hahaha ok so I'm not the only coach who points out the obvious to reinforce things :). Ok but why? And he knows me well enough now that he doesn't even bother to make me ask the question. "By counting, you commit. It forces you to focus on every single stride." Everybody's heard ride-every-stride before. Some of us even think we accomplish it once in a while. But this is the first time I've actually seen it taught. And it made enough of a difference to show me how it should be (or at least closer to - I was probably *really* riding 3 out of 6 in the counting). "If you want to daydream, go hacking. That's why we go hacking. Or do it during your w/u or cool down. But when you're working, make every stride count." Ironically it goes along w/ my forever issue of "you're thinking too fast" -- and he has a point. Although I never realized I did it on the flat too! hahaha my usual concern with her is "keep her going" and IF we get that "correct bend, balance, contact". And while I am responding to what's happening in the moment (how her body's shifting etc) I'm mostly thinking "she's going to do X up there and how am I going to circumvent that". This technique had me thinking shorten shorten shorten relax relax relax lengthen lengthen lengthen relax relax relax. And admittedly in the "relax" strides I was thinking "in 3 strides I have to do X" and trying to fix the bend and the balance (neither of which were allowed to cheat) AND count, there was enough to do immediately that my little brain couldn't race so far ahead. And it worked. Rather brilliantly.

So I was pretty thrilled.

Jumping was just for fun. Our standard w/u fence that rapidly became a bounce and shortly after became 2 bounces. For the pony who's never done bounces *g* hahaha but she was pro. And I... I was jumping w/ one hand behind my back and no contact *g* Fairly entertaining. I've done the hands on hips or airplane style before but this was a first for me. I'm not actually convinced this was effective but it was fairly entertaining. N quite frankly after all the lightbulbs of the flat part of the ride, the jumping was just for fun :)

Flash Fiction #10 - A Mindless Wish

Wrote this one a while ago and never got around to posting it. No time this week so it finally gets its chance :)

Enjoy!

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"I wish I could live forever." It was a foolish statement, an ambitious youth's dream. One lifetime wouldn't be nearly long enough to accomplish all I'd dreamed of accomplishing.

I remember that day so clearly -- it was one of the first true spring day, senior year of highschool and we were on top of the world. All grown up and ready to "be somebody." Michael already WAS somebody -- he'd raised over a million in support for a small African country, built three schools, delivered food and medicine, and changed the lives of thousands. He was 18. He wished for the ability to change the world -- but we all knew he already had it. Jessi had no ambition in life beyond a happy healthy marriage and family. Her dreams were the simplest, but perhaps the hardest to achieve. Karen? She was going to cure Alzheimer's -- and several other diseases while she was at it. Mark's goals were far more immediate -- he was going to find the courage to tell his family he was gay. Stephanie was the political activist of the group and her plans went beyond the scope that any of the rest of us mere mortals could fathom. The closest we could understand was that she intended to rule the world. And know her, she just might do it.

And me? I'm ashamed to admit my dreams were far more self-centered. I wanted to travel -- to see the world. I wanted to learn to speak a dozen languages (despite being absolutely hopeless at the ones I had studied). I wanted to be known -- not famous, I never had any dreams of stardom -- but I wanted to be able to visit anywhere in the world and know I'd have a friend there to welcome me. I wanted to know . . . everything. What was and what would be. I wanted to understand. And sure I'd love to help people throughout this but if I were honest w/ myself, that was a happy bi-product rather than the motivating factor.

So it's warm and sunny out and we walked into our writing class to see a sub sitting on the desk. Mark made an immediate u-turn and left to enjoy the sunshine. The rest of us considered a mass exodus but a look from the sub was powerful enough to have us slumping into our seats wishing we'd been as quick to analyze and respond to the situation as Mark had been.

The exercise presented to us that day was childishly simple and, we felt, a complete waste of our time. Our usual instructor presented us w/ thought provoking exercises that encouraged us to think, to analyze, to argue. All things we were very good at. This? This was fluff. However, it was fluff w/ a codicil -- as soon as it was done, we were free to leave. Needless to say we whipped it off in no time and out we went. It was out of our minds by the time we got to the front door.

The assignment -- 500 words to finish the statement: If I had one wish I'd . . .

They say the first step to accomplishing a goal is to write it down. We didn't discuss the writing exercise -- it was nothing and it was spring out. So I never knew exactly what my friends wrote. I do know that Jessi left uni in third year to marry her TA; they would go on to have five children. The rest of us thought they were insane -- but they were happy. Ten years after that Karen won the nobel prize for her genetics research which led to cures for many of the worlds more tragic diseases. Meanwhile, Stephanie had worked her way through several university degrees before earning an intern position at the UN. Blood, sweat, tears and many years later she had worked her way up to the point where when she spoke, the world sat up and listened. And then did what she recommended.

And I? I had the life of dreams. I got to travel the world and meet people on every continent whom I would forever consider friends. I got paid to tell stories w/ my camera. And I enjoyed almost every minute of it. But life went on, as it will, and time took it's toll -- on everybody but me. I watched my friends die, and their children, and their children's children. Eventually, given enough time, I recalled that spring day so many years ago and the paper I'd put no thought into whatsoever.

And I wish I'd never wished.

Si Senorita's first jumper show

So Si Senorita went to her first jumper show this weekend @ Bronte (once-upon-a-time Hendervale). I haven't competed there since I was a kid -- long before the huge upgrades. hahaha

Short version: went in with the goals of clear (we haven't been as successful as we should be with stadium so wanted that dealt with), confident, and under control. Managed the first two entirely and snipits of the third :)



Long version:

Still reading eh? Brave brave soul :)

hahaha so SuperPony was, well Super. And I'm still thrilled. Stadium is my least favourite of the phases so I decided I should get to some jumper shows and get in multiple stadium rounds all in one go. Let me say this was far more entertaining than the season I decided to get multiple dressage rounds in all in one go (sorry Mary!).

Now this was a very relaxed, easy-going show. They even let us ride around the ring (w/t only) during the course walk. So baby horses could look at jumps and get the spookys out ahead of time. The only thing I had Si look at was the combination. She's never done combinations that haven't been built up one-at-a-time before, and the one time I tried it at home, the first try didn't go so well... So I let her see both jumps and walk between them. Mostly though we spent that time trotting around the ring on speed. She was soooo good -- no bucking/bolting/silliness. Just REALLY big trot. hahaha I don't know where we were going but we were definitely going to get there on time! Some walk transitions brought her brain back under control and while we never got to relaxed by any stretch of the imagination, we did get to "almost ridable" before they closed the course.

Switch to the actual warmup ring for a little canter (where she actually relaxed -- always happiest in the canter that girl!) and a couple w/u fences which she felt the need to clear by several miles. This of course promptly undid our relaxation. Yeah walls. Land, balance, halt. Try again. Shortly she was still overjumping but at least landing almost in balance.

Into the ring for our first course. Significantly tighter than any stadium course - partially cause it's jumper and partially cause it's indoors. But pony's never in her life had to land and turn like that. And realistically it was *not* all that tight and the footing was perfect -- it was just tight in comparison to what she's done in the past. It was a very friendly course. 2'6" -- and a jumper 2'6" as opposed to an eventing 2'6". hahaha and lots of stuff to look at that she couldn't care less about (woohoo!).

First course was brilliant. A little fast at times, but for the most part she was listening to me and willing to come back and wait and think about the jumps. We put 7 strides in the 6 -- it's all good :) And 2 in the 1 (that was less good -- yeah scopy pony and tiny fences :). Jumped miles clear of every fence. But -- she jumped everything, in the right order, on the first time, with no hesitation, AND was willing to come back to me between fences. So I was pretty thrilled.

Next course is actually the same course again but with a jump-off. Easier right? Yeah, except that she knew the course :) We did the 6 in 5 and the 1 in 1 and our corners were ummmm a little iffy. Jumpoff was better cause once again she had no idea where she was going so she had to listen to me @ least a little. Of course *I* also had no idea where I was going *g* Seriously, memorizing two courses in a row is just not kewl. Esp when the rider before you doesn't make it to the second round so you don't even get to watch! Sheesh. And unlike dressage tests these are not reverse images so you actually have to memorize the whole thing. Anyways -- the jumpoff was ok, but the first round was really dodgy. Didn't help that the pilot zoned out, neglected to breathe, and generally forgot how to ride. Sheesh.

So one more round. Third course is the reverse of the second (yeah dressage principles now :) AND the jumpoff was a more traditional jump-off course in that it had some very kewl roll-backs and some options as to speed vs accuracy. Well horse and rider got their act together and jumped the first round reasonably well. Fast, but better. Both were more relaxed and getting more comfortable with this whole course concept *g* The jump-off... Well...

You remember Denny's whole thing about the "correct" show-jump/jumper canter has the "right" speed, balance and impulsion. Yes well at all points on that course we had 2 of the 3 >;-P Mostly speed and impulsion w/ a complete lack of balance. Although on one turn I enforced the balance to the complete detriment of speed (we trotted that fence!) It was fast but not pretty. And that was definitely more her call than mine! We also hit one but the jump-gods were on our side and it stayed up -- which meant we cleared the next three by ridiculous amounts!

But on the plus side -- entirely confident. Not once was there any hesitation about any fence. She got the game and was having fun playing it. Now I just have to convince her it'll be even more fun if she takes her time a little. hahaha yeah who here believes that?

And tempting as it was to do the 2'9" division to, I played the responsible trainer and stayed entirely in her comfort zone. Some days, I can be intelligent :)

Procrastination Posting

Ok well I have a ton of homework to do and I’m spending most of the day teaching, so of course the little time I actually have for said homework is being spent on FB and Email and now writing the blog. Apparently despite not having been in uni for a few years now, I’ve not lost the art of procrastination. My laundry may even get done!

However – for the school side of things – if anybody reading this understands latin and would be able to help me figure out some 101 level questions let me know! Would really appreciate a sounding board :)

For the horse people out there – this week was a blast! And I started typing the story of the British Smurff (umm that’d be Sienna) here but got too long, so as always, it’s been relocated to the GRS blog.

Ok well I’ve killed enough time that it’s time to go teach now. Hahhaa homework this eve I guess.

Cheers!

Flash Fiction #9 - Training

"What are you doing here?" Sarah looked up from her desk to see her old boss standing in her office doorway.

"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" she said, entirely ignoring the woman with him.

"Seriously Sarah, this is a waste of your considerable talent," Agent Dylan told her, "When are you going to let it go and come back?"

Sarah didn't even bother rolling her eyes at the oft-repeated question, merely turned her back on him. It was a petty dismissal but she felt it was necessary. He, of course, entirely ignored it.

“We need your help," he said, indicating the blonde beside him. Sarah wouldn't even look at her.

"I don't do ghost wannabes. You know that."

"This one's different."

"What's different? Did she, or did she not, try to kill herself?"

"She's a level 8 medium with no shields." Dylan told her, completely avoiding the question. The implications of that did give Sarah a slight pause but was insufficient to overcome her long-ingrained disrespect of suicidal people. "We've put her through every kind of training we could imagine and still nothing. Consider it a challenge."

"Carol couldn't help her?" Sarah asked, reluctantly curious. She never could resist a challenge.

"She tried. Alyssa ended up in a coma."

"Interesting." Sarah acknowledged clinically, keeping the surprise out of her voice. Carol was the one who had originally trained Sarah. "Why did you wake up?" she asked Alyssa directly, thinking sleeping forever was an easy way out for one who wanted to kill herself.

"Dylan." Alyssa stated, with no indication of how she felt about it. "The spirits were quiet, but so was everything else. It was like I was in a void and eventually Dylan showed up and shoved me out. Now everything's back as it was before." At Sarah's look Agent Dylan shrugged off what she knew must've been an extraordinary experience. To enter the mind of one who is not under control is to risk being lost there yourself, and she imagined adding in the visiting spirits would just make it that much worse. Much like exploring the mind of a schizophrenic.

"What do you expect me to do?" Sarah asked, knowing the answer but needing it stated.

"You're an emphatic telepath. Take a look, feel what she's feeling, then build her a shield."

Reluctantly Sarah lowered the shields of her own mind which she used to filter out the thoughts and feelings of others.

She allowed a moment to be overwhelmed by the flood of voices frivolously chattering before focusing her attention on the girl beside her. As soon as she did the sense of despair was almost overwhelming. It was a horrid combination of an inability to help, no way to avoid the pleas, and a feeling of complete failure. And worse, a resigned acceptance that this was how it would always be. Switching senses, Sarah opened herself to experiencing Alyssa's thoughts which were being monopolized by a child crying in the dark, a tall pale man asking where his wife was, and others who were there but appeared unaware of her.

“Interesting.” Sarah repeated as she brought her own shields back up and disconnected from the chaos that was Alyssa's mind. She grabbed her purse and followed Dylan out of the room, silently agreeing with him that this was not the appropriate place for what needed to be done. Alyssa followed the pair, unsure exactly what had been wordlessly decided, but knowing that something had.

Arriving at the Motel 6 Dylan had booked Sarah sat down with Alyssa. "I've never done this before," she told her, "and I can't guarantee it'll go any better than Carol's attempt, but I’m willing to try." Alyssa just nodded. "When Carol helped you, she had you hide yourself inside a diamond?" Sarah guessed. A diamond is the hardest stone on Earth -- and therefore a great way to shield yourself, and one of Carol's favourite training images. Alyssa nodded her assent.

"Ok close your eyes, and wait till I join you." Alyssa's haunted blue eyes closed, and Sarah once again lowered her own shields and allowed the chaos in, having no idea how she was actually going to solve this. She temporarily blocked her emphatic sense allowing her to focus only on Sarah's thoughts -- and through her, those of the spirits with her. Her eyes were open, but the scene she saw was entirely in Alyssa’s mind. She found Alyssa cowering by a tree as some people wandered aimlessly around while others converged on her.

Turning her back on Alyssa, her dimmed emphatic sense could feel her hurt and fear, but she had to allow that for a few minutes. She found the pieces of the diamond shield Carol had helped her create and used that to build far more than a shield. She built an entire castle, with windows and only one entrance. Then she went and fought her way through the spirits to get to Alyssa, and casting her own shield widely enough to cover both of them she got Alyssa into the diamond castle – but once there Alyssa was blank. There was no expression on her face, no acknowledgement of her surroundings. Nothing.

And Sarah suddenly new what to do. She quickly pulled Alyssa back out into the realm of chaos. "Alyssa!" the younger girl slowly focused on her. "Somewhere out here is your knowledge, your feelings, your thoughts, and your memories. We have to find these and put them inside for you." Alyssa nodded her understanding, her eyes lighting with the first glimmers of hope. Using her own unique senses, Sarah was quickly able to locate Alyssa's feelings and thoughts -- hidden in a chest and a rock respectively, presumably previous shield attempts. On her own, Alyssa located her knowledge. Then it was just a search for her memories, which the rather helpful spirit of her grandmother was holding on to. All critical items accounted for, Sarah and Alyssa returned to the diamond castle. Sarah pulled the door shut, keeping a close eye on Alyssa. This time, she appeared to still be under control. "You ok?" Sarah asked. Alyssa nodded. Sarah let all her shields down. "Now?" "I can still hear them, but they're quiet. Like someone has the volume just one step above mute." Sarah thought for a moment and then walked over to the one open window and shut it. "Now?" Alyssa looked stunned.

"Ok so this is how it works," Sarah started in her teacher voice, "while you're in the diamond castle they'll leave you alone. If you want to listen, open a window; if you want to communicate, open the door and let only the one you wish to speak to in. If you find yourself outside -- which you will when you’re tired or upset, come back here as quickly as you can and shut the door. And remember, no matter how bad it is out there you can always get back. Got it?" Alyssa nodded and Sarah could feel her doubt and her hope warring it out -- but at least hope was still there. Maybe there was actually a chance. "Ok, when you're talking to Dylan tell him to leave me alone for a few hours. Open your eyes."

When Alyssa opened her eyes it was to see Sarah, incredibly pale, unconscious on the couch w/ Dylan leaning over her taking her pulse. And for the first time ever, silence. "She says leave her alone for a few hours." Alyssa told him. Dylan smiled ruefully "Yeah that sounds like her. So?" he asked -- but didn't need the answer. Even without looking uninvited, he knew from peace on Alyssa’s face that Sarah had met the challenge.

Flash Fiction #8 - An Evening Encounter

For those who actually read the blog for the blog part of things, I had the most amazing lesson today! Superpony had lightbulbs flashing every few minutes. hahaha and that story's on the GRS blog :)

For my Canadian readers -- Happy Turkey Day!!! Have a great Thanksgiving :)

And for everybody else: Friday Flash :) I couldn't decide on the right ending -- I have an extra paragraph that I couldn't decide whether or not to include. I *think* it's better w/o, but not quite sure so I added it in after a break at the end. Let me know your thoughts!

*edited to add: Alright -- the votes are in! Last paragraph is gone :) Anybody reading from now on in gets the edited version! Cheers :) *

Thanks for reading!

----
An Evening Encounter

It was a dark and stormy night. Oh wait, no it wasn't -- that's somebody else's story. It was actually a stunningly gorgeous night, crisp and cool with the hint of unfallen snow on the air. The harvest moon lit the world with a surreal night-time glow and the stars were so numerous Elsie felt there had to be some uncharted ones visible to those who knew those kind of things.

She was at the cottage for Thanksgiving and had escaped the warmth and chaos of the indoors for a few moments of complete silence. She'd been looking forward to this weekend for a long time -- the complete escape from the reality of her everyday life. She took a deep breath and savored the intense quiet.

"Excuse me," the little voice made her jump and her heart pound unbelievably fast. Her mind reviewed every scary movie she'd ever seen as she debated whether her family would hear her if she screamed. And then her imagination was brought under control as she observed who was addressing her -- a being entirely too fantastic for her somewhat uninventive imagination to have created.

"I was wondering if you might be able to spare a slice of pumpkin pie?" the little man asked. What? Elsie nearly laughed at the disjointed request. He was a squat man, with a face that rather resembled the cabbage-patch doll she'd had as a child. His dark green hair, highlighted by the moonlight, was a shade that was never in fashion -- not even in the 80s -- and was pulled back into a pony tail tied with something that looked like braided grass but was sparkling in the starlight. His voice was high, which made him seem childlike, but his eyes were haunted and belied an age not revealed in his appearance.

"Pumpkin pie?" Elsie asked, bewildered.

"Precisely." he replied, offering no explanation as to the strange request.

It was Thanksgiving -- of course she had pumpkin pie. And as her family had already eaten, nobody would care if she helped herself to another piece; this was the weekend for overindulgence of very good food after all.

"Sure," she decided with a shrug. "I'll be right back." And with a backwards glance at the unusual little man, she returned to the warmth and comfort of the cottage. She cut a generous slice and foamed a significant amount of whipped cream on top -- pumpkin pie was useless without whipped cream after all! Now the interesting challenge would be getting back outside with the pie. Sure enough as soon as she put her jacket on her mother questioned it.

"Where are you going?"

"I left my book in the car -- just going to grab it." It wasn't entirely a lie, she *had* left her book in the car and did want to have it for the evening.

"With your pie?" damn, her mother never missed anything.

"Well I don't dare leave it here!" Elsie stated emphatically with a deliberate look at her uncles and her younger brothers. Her mother smiled in acknowledgment while her male relatives loudly defended their honour and Elsie slipped out the door.

She returned to where she'd left the little man, but nobody was there. She looked around and was beginning to feel more than a little foolish when he materialized beside her. He lifted the entire slice with one giant sized hand, somehow keeping the pie intact and the whipped cream on top and leaving her with an empty plate. "Thank you," he said, and with a little half-nod, half-bow, he was gone.

"Well I guess that's that," Elsie thought, somewhat bemused, as she returned to the house, remembering to stop at the car and pick up her book.

"Polished that off pretty quickly, didn't you?" her brother was quick to point out as she walked into the cottage w/ the empty plate.

"It's good stuff." Elsie said with a laugh and fell back into the camaraderie of extended family gatherings.

Late that night when she finally went to sleep, she dreamed. She dreamed of summer in the nearby meadow and fairies, for they could be nothing else, dancing around the tree. Most ignored her completely, but one came and gestured to Elsie to follow. Quickly they came upon a pumpkin patch that, in the way of dreams, Elsie accepted unquestioningly. As she watched, Elsie saw the little man very like the one she met earlier appear to tend the patch; he seemed oblivious to her and the fairy's presence.

Elsie looked at the fairy quizzically. "Garden gnomes," the fairy answered her unasked question in a lilting voice. "Their lives rely on their gardens; this year the trolls wiped out the plot. If they couldn't recreate it by next year, the entire pack would die. It was out of desperation that Finzig approached you -- having spoken to you, law prohibits his return, but the pumpkin source you provided will save his family and the white gold on top will make them incredibly wealthy. That was very generous of you to include." The fairy said with a smile.

"What of Finzig?" Elsie asked, moved by the plight of one who'd risk all to save his family.

"He's going to travel," the fairy told her. "He'll be as the minstrels of your history once were -- welcome everywhere briefly and nowhere forever. He'll carry news and stories and discoveries from one garden to another, perhaps occasionally posing for photographs with those of your world. Don't look so sad," she told Elsie, "it's a life he'll embrace. As a child he was forever wandering and as an adult never settled in the pack. This will give him a chance to do what he's always wanted to do, and a valid reason for doing it. He's one of the few to ever leave with pride and his story will be sung for generations. And what you did made his leaving worthwhile. I brought you here so you could know that." And on that note the dream faded and Elsie opened her eyes to find herself lying in bed with her mind still in that place between sleep and awake where you still remember dreaming.

Winter's coming way too fast...

A friend of mine noted snow this morning. I am not amused. I would just like it on record that I have a pic of me eating ice cream, wearing a t-shirt, on Thanksgiving last year. I would really like that weather now. hahaha

Have had an interesting couple of rides in the last few days -- that story on GRS blog for the curious :)

Not sure if I'm going to have time for Flash this week. Have a couple things but I don't like any of them so not sure they'll get posted... We'll see...

Happy Birthday Nicole!!!!!

So Nicole, our only guest blogger ever, turns 19 today!!! hahaha woohoo. Finally legal! No more sneaking into . . . movie theatres >;-P

And this post is written w/ the sole purpose of saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! Hope it's absolutely amazing, as I'm sure it will be :)

Hedgehogs - why can't they just share the hedge?

Just thought I'd say you're welcome for the warmer weather. I finally gave in and bought Si a new blanket (yeah blanket sale!) so that pretty much guaranteed it'd get warm again :) Woohoo!

So I had a student the other day who worked *really* hard riding a horse of the "lazy tank" type. This from one who usually rides ottbs -- and to her credit, she did an amazing job. Got that horse going and jumping like no tomorrow. hahaha but her FB status the next day indicated that she was feeling the effects of this... Oops :) So I, being less than helpful, suggested she think of it in the positive -- that this would help get her fit. Her response was instant and reminiscent of the kind of delivery N usually gives *g* She says to me that yes riding this horse on a regular basis probably would get both of them fit, but she was "willing not to test that theory." hahaha well it amused me anyways :)

Sienna's been an absolute jumping superstar lately -- but perhaps we won't discuss the dressage side of things. hahaha ah well -- off to M's this week so I'm sure she'll fix us :) Thinking about doing baby jumpers this month -- could be entertaining. Not sure what she'll think of a triple combination on course, but we shall see! Then maybe baby dressage next month.

Really looking forward to the Royal :) Kinda sad that I'm that hyped about it this far ahead of time -- usually it's like the day before when I decide I should go and find some people to go with, but this year I'm all for it :)

Having a serious shortage of hours this week. Not quite sure what I'm going to do about that. Ah well -- sleep is highly overrated.

Off for now!

Flash Fiction #7 - Just Another Day

Just Another Day --

As her dinner companion's head exploded, Mary took a last sip of her espresso before sliding out of the booth and using the chaos that had erupted in the coffee shop to become disassociated with her unfortunate companion. There would be no point in sticking around for the cops -- she had nothing that could help them, and they would only hinder her.

It hadn't been one of her better days, she reflected as she slipped out the back door and blended in with the other pedestrians hunched to avoid the drizzly grey weather. But, she supposed, still better than some. At least she'd had time to pick his brain before it splattered so rudely across the table. Personally she didn't think his knowledge was worth killing for, but maybe she was becoming insouciant. Perhaps it was time to find a new career.

She followed the herd down to the subway and traveled three stops before emerging to flag an anonymous yellow taxi. She picked a random address she could've walked to, but habit had her instinctively make the job of those following her as difficult and inane as possible. Several cab changes later, she headed to her target location.

She slipped into the back of the lecture hall to hear the aged professor finishing up his under-graduate level talk. She waited as the students gathered their items and exited the hall with the extreme speed that only students escaping mandatory classes are capable of.

"Ah, Mary Mary quite contrary," he started seeing her sitting alone in the auditorium. To which Mary outwardly smiled and inwardly felt any respect she may have had for him disintegrate, "how may I assist you today?"

"Trevor Peters" she stated, watching him closely. The professor's face transformed from friendly-grandfather to one who has seen and known too much.

"I'm sorry, my dear, that name means nothing to me," he said.

After the day she'd had, she had no patience for the conventional games. "Spencer Matthews was killed a little over an hour ago. There's a very good chance Trevor will be next. Where is he?" The older man blanched slightly but otherwise gave no sign the news of his former student affected him.

"We haven't spoken in a while," he said inanely, "perhaps you'd like to come over for a coffee?" Several sharp retorts about the outcome of her last cup of coffee jumped instantly to mind, but resolutely she stifled them, knowing he was her only link to the information she required.

"I'd like that," she lied blatantly, and followed the professor out to his car. She was suspicious but not overly concerned when he drove to a stately old home instead of the nearest Starbucks.

The door was slightly ajar and the professor was cautious in opening it -- his movements betrayed an ingrained knowledge of tactical maneuvers not learned in the classroom. Mary was forced to reevaluate her opinion of him as she followed him in, sweeping left while he went right, her Springfield XD 9, previously concealed, now held confidently in front of her. As Mary shadowed the professor into what appeared to be his home library she was not particularly surprised to see him retrieve a Glock and magazine from a hollow book and load it; as her mind registered the significance of the practiced movement, she wondered idly what else might be in those books.

A quick sweep of the rest of the house proved what both instinctively knew -- they were alone. And nothing, so far as Mary could tell, had been touched. She wondered if the old professor had simply forgotten to lock up that morning, but as he was appearing less and less like an old professor by the second, she kept that thought to herself.

"What is it you want with Trevor Peters?" he asked bluntly.

"Information," she replied. "Information of the type people would kill for.” While she didn't particularly care one way or another about the life of the hacker who’d learned one secret too many, she had long since learned that playing the 'help safe a life' card motivated most civilians.

"What makes you think I know where he is?"

"If you didn't, I wouldn't be here." she stated, neatly avoiding the question. She knew better than to reveal sources -- even dead ones.

The look he gave her was that of a disappointed parent. "You don't know nearly as much as you think you do, young lady." Surprisingly she was more intrigued than insulted by his patronizing tone.

"Educate me," she challenged.

"This morning," he started, "I knew exactly where Trevor Peters was." Mary nodded -- she'd already ascertained that much. "He was here." That worried her briefly, maybe she really was slipping. She'd been certain the old professor knew where to find him, but had had no sign her quarry had been in the immediate area.

"I’ll help you find him," the professor stated.

"No thank you," Mary said, knowing even as she said it that the offer hadn't been an offer so much as a command. "You'd be putting yourself in danger. These people kill indiscriminately; just for talking to me, you could be at risk."

"Then I may as well be involved," the professor argued with a disturbing twist on logic. "And they're not that indiscriminant, otherwise how do you come to be standing here when Spencer is dead?"

"What makes you think I was there when Spencer was killed?" Mary asked focusing on the detail he shouldn't have known.

The professor gave her that withering you're an idiot child look again before pointing out that she had unmistakable flecks of brain matter staining her shirt. Ok so she should've picked up on that. Definitely time for a career change. But then, a math professor, on the verge of retirement, should not have.

"I will find Trevor." he started, taking advantage of her momentary discombobulation. "I can find him on my own -- in which case you'll never get to ask your questions, or we can find him together and see what he says." Mary’s tension rose as she envisioned her weeks of searching, not to mention a significant amount of money, being wasted due to a rogue professor

"There is one more thing that you don't know,” the professor stated, piquing her reluctant interest. Her raised eyebrow encouraged him to continue:

"Trevor Peters is my son."