Category Archives: Just for fun

How to muck out a stall

Tracking tip of the week: Beware of dead things on black pavement. While they are most assuredly dead, oncoming headlights will assure that you will soon be in a similar predicament.

Ok I have decided that I will no longer write sad and depressing posts. While it may be therapeutic for me, it is boring for others so I will make the next few posts more upbeat.

Basically let’s say that I have worked through most of my issues and have decided to take life by the short hairs! I have realized that life is too precious to squander by reliving the past and dwelling on disappointments. I may add some from time to time if I feel something needs said but to make a long story short, I have decided to no longer change or hide my true self to make others happy (namely hubby) but will be myself as much as I can and if people don’t like it they can go suck eggs (yes I cleaned this up for you!)

My daughter has competed at Arabian Youth Nationals for the past three years. This year there were many horses with the group she goes with and no helpers so it was left to the parents and single trainer to muck out a dozen stalls several times a day. I set to with a will, determined to do my part to insure health and happiness of horses (and the trainer!)

One might think cleaning horse poop is simple. And it is if you want to do a piss poor job (no pun intended.) Too much scooping and you lose all the shavings which are very expensive to us poor horse owners. Too little scooping and the stall gets progressively worse, damaging the horse’s hooves and health, not to mention the growing stench!

Take a “fork” to pick up the obvious piles of horse droppings. A neat horse will drop all in one spot making clean-up easier (I said easier, not easy) but some scatter willy-nilly and make lots of little droppings, creating much more work. For the large piles, start a little in front of the pile and lightly poke the fork under the shavings, wiggling a little to allow all the shavings to fall through while keeping the poop on the fork. (Again be careful with the wiggle. Too much and the poop falls off, too little and all the good shavings disappear.) Toss in the wheelbarrow that you have brought into the stall with you. This is important because if you miss, droppings will not go out into the aisle which you then have to clean up with a shovel and rake.

Keep forking up poop until you get it all. Oh and FYI, you will NEVER get it all, especially if the horse leaves it scattered all over. Just when you think it is clean, you turn around and there is another. I firmly believe that they propagate when your back is turned. I also firmly believe that some horses hide them on purpose so you can enjoy the discovery like Easter eggs!

For pee spots (and yes there are many of those too) find the edges and lightly scratch around until you see the dry areas. This is the most efficient way to get the wet shavings. Also, VERY IMPORTANT: Hold your breath. Nothing compares to the ammonia smell of horse piss. It will take two showers to get rid of it but on the bright side, you don’t notice the smell after a couple days of mucking out. Everyone else around you will wrinkle their noses, especially if they are not horse people. Just smile and nod and don’t stand in one place too long.

I learned many other things and have oh so many blogs to write about:

How to walk a horse, how NOT to walk a horse;

How to bathe ten horses in two days;

How to fill hay nets; how to HANG hay nets

How NOT to stack hay and get out of way quickly when said stack comes crashing down.

How to not care when horses sneeze all over your shirt. It’s gonna happen no matter what so just sigh and grab another shirt.

I could write very lengthy posts on all of the above but don’t worry. I was just flexing my writing muscles and won’t blog about these others.

Unless someone specifically asks me to, of course.

What I learned at Phx Comicon 2

Tracking tip #4 – Ravens, crows and blackbirds in abundance will indicate some stage of decay. They do not congregate unless to gang up on the hurt or wounded. “Flock of birds”, “murder” of crows, “unkindness” of ravens; you get the picture.

What I learned at Phoenix Comicon, year 3.

1 – Strollers can be used as battering rams to clear spaces in crowds. My kids got off easy when they were babies.

2- Don’t sit in the back for many reasons. I haven’t yet wanted to leave a panel, I can’t always see and hear, and most of all, it is very distracting to watch a woman play with her hair the entire panel. Not just twist a lock but every five minutes brush out with fingers (the whole head) create a part down the back and bring hair forward over both shoulders. Yes every five minutes, I timed it.

3 – Cell phones don’t always work in the basement. Not even texting.

4 – It is very easy to get lost in the exhibitors hall (gets bigger every year.) Or at least lose that booth where you saw the thing you had to have, left to find an ATM and now you can’t find it again.

Ok seriously now (though all the above stuff DID happen).

My third year I already knew the panels were awesome so in my brief time spent outside of panels, I started noticing more of the people. First, there are two kinds of people to go to Comicon. The first are people who go strictly to shop or just look around and then go home to tell everyone “Oh I’m such a geek, I went to Comicon” when in reality if it hasn’t been a major motion picture, they would have no idea what it was. (BTW we call those Fake Geeks, see below on how to spot them!) Most people would be taken in by this, but not the ones who go for more than the superficial layer. Those also shop, yes, but they are primarily there to pay homage to these fabulous worlds where imagination and wonder has no limits. These are the true geeks who respect and honor the fact that somehow this stuff is a part of their life, whether it is to create and wear costumes, become a fan-fiction writer, discuss the finer points of a TV or Movie series, or realize that their lives were influenced/helped by these wonderful creations.

But the most important of all, I realized that these people who were on the panels, the actors, authors, artists and fans, these people were HAPPY with their lives. They truly loved what they were doing and I envied them. I resolved to pick back up where I was derailed and become an author. Not for the fame, not to be on panels, not to be admired by fans. I wanted to be as happy as they were, doing something I loved. And if I touch another in the process, so much the better!

How to spot a fake Geek:

1 – Dad with young daughter: “Don’t run off! Remember this is Comicon, full of weirdos.”                Hey if you thought that, why did you come? Also, we may be weird but most are a hell of a lot nicer than most folks. We wouldn’t call you weird because you are wearing a striped shirt with plaid shorts. Ok maybe we would.

2 – People trying to find the exhibitor halls: “What are all these rooms for?” One looks in, “Oh just a bunch of people sitting there.” Good, don’t come in. Don’t want you chatting during the awesome panel.

3 – “What’s with all the gray people with orange horns?” And all the variations on this question.

4 – Wearing a batman or superman t-shirt. Ok it’s a start but when it looks like the shirt has been sitting in a closet since 1980, not so much.

If you have any, please feel free to let me know. I am sure to think of more.

What I learned at Phoenix Comicon

First of all:  Tracking tip #3 – Vultures are the ultimate birds to follow. Whether circling or on the ground, the dead thing is most certainly dead. By the way, a group of vultures on the ground is a “Venue” and a group circling is a “Kettle.” Doesn’t really make sense as when they are landed they are feasting and kettle seems a more appropriate term. Just sayin’.

What I learned at Phoenix Comicon

I have only been going to Comicon for three years but have learned so much, different every year. I have discovered things about myself, other people and life in general, not to mention all kinds of interesting stuff like upcoming books, behind the scenes, actors’ lives, etc. Let’s take it year by year, shall we?

My first year at Comicon was a true eye opener for me. This wonderful event was about so much more than comic books. It had actors, authors, artists and just about anything involved in sci fi, fantasy, and more. The exhibitor hall didn’t just have geeky stuff for sale but also a place where you can get a picture with your favorite celebrity, autographs or just chat with your favorite author or illustrator. The panels involved discussions, questions posed to these celebrities or just plain fun all around.

But the best part is the people. Nearly everyone is of like mind. Painfully shy people show up in costume and are not insulted but admired. If you trip and fall, people don’t look away and laugh. Instead five or more superheroes will come, help you up and ask if you’re ok. (And they aren’t all in costume…) Complete strangers discuss similar interests. When you find yourself bumping someone while reaching for the same item on sale, instead of frowning or fighting for the object, eyes lock and both smile and nod knowingly. Conversation usually follows: “Love that shirt”, “Nice horns”. It feels like you’ve made a forever friend even though you will probably never see them again. Odd to think that amongst good and evil characters, orcs and wizards, I should feel more comfortable than any other place I have ever been. I couldn’t believe I had never come. But I wouldn’t admit my geekiness to anyone else until my second year.

My second year at the same Con, I learned that the panels were much more interesting than all the shopping and crowds. I mean the merchandise was fabulous as ever, but I would come out of each panel with a smile plastered on my face well into the next panel. I also learned food was way overpriced but since I would have paid three times as much to just go to the Con, I was fine with that. (Don’t tell the admin this or they will raise prices!)

I chose my schedule with much more care and got to talk to some amazing people including one of my favorite authors. Took pictures with a couple of celebrities, gathered as many autographs as I could, and decided then and there that I would come every year as long as it existed (and could afford it, hear me Phx Comicon? Don’t raise prices!!!) I also learned that I did not need to hide my geekiness any more. If anyone tried to poke fun at Comicon, I explained all that I experienced and usually changed that person’s opinion. Or at least shut them up so they wouldn’t have to hear me rattle on about it for hours.

Didn’t care, I was officially hooked. FOREVER!

I think I will put my third and most recent year in the next blog since it will probably be huge and most enlightening (for me anyway.)