truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
Diana Wynne Jones famously deduced that the horses of Fantasyland are vegetative bicycles. Here are some ways that real horses are anything but:

1. Horses are very large animals. This is something that you can know in the abstract, as we all do, and still be taken aback by when interacting with an actual horse. Horses take up space. Their heads are massive chunks of bone. Even when they're being affectionate, they're still a good eight to ten times larger than a human being, and they are proportionately stronger.

My perspective on large dogs has completely changed after two years of dressage lessons.

1a. Corrollary: horses have very large, hard, heavy, inflexible feet. Obviously, if one steps on you, it's going to hurt. But even a glancing accidental blow is likely to leave bruises. As I was bringing Milo in the other night, my foot happened to get in the way of his. (See above re: horses take up a lot of space.) Entirely accidental on both sides. And I ended up with a welt on my heel where the edge of his hoof hit me.

2. Horses are, on average, thousand pound herbivores. This means their digestive systems have to keep on trucking pretty much constantly. Which is to say, they are poop machines. And you want them to be. A horse who isn't pooping regularly (by
which I mean several times a day) is a horse who is in trouble.

Also, and I'm sorry to burst the bubble of everyone who grew up with My Little Ponies*, horses fart. Noxiously. A lot.

3. Horses are also thousand pound prey animals. They do not think like human beings. They also do not think like cats or dogs. Even a very calm, sensible horse is going to spook, and he's going to spook at things that make no sense. Milo is in general unflappable, but he has spooked, for no apparent reason, at tree stumps, a wood pile, and an elderly VW. (He's also spooked at the barn cat, but I can kind of see his point there. She did emerge from under the bench quite suddenly, so we'll ignore the fact that she's at best 1/100th of his size.) He's also spooked at himself.

4. Horses are creatures with opinions. The are, for instance, herd animals. A solitary horse is an unhappy horse. They will try to follow each other pretty much automatically, which can be awkward for their riders. Take away their pasture mate(s), and they're going to be distressed. They're likely to call for their absent friends. (One of the horses at the barn screams.) And in general, if they don't like something, they will find a way to let you know.

5. A horse's primary means of interacting with the world is her mouth. (Hard, heavy, inflexible feet, remember?) Anything that isn't a threat is likely to be something that needs to be tasted. Also, horses are opportunistc and greedy (see above re: the needs of their digestive systems). Anything that can be tasted, will be tasted. And eaten if possible.

To sum up: horses have presence. They take up space in the world. They are intensely biological. They have opinions (often very inconvenient ones). And they have needs, both physical and emotional. They get bored. They get scared. They get lonely. They are the farthest thing from vegetative bicycles you can imagine.

*Completely OT, but can I just say how utterly creeped out I am by how thin My Little Ponies have gotten? (Compare the first link, which is current MLP, to the second two, which are '80s MLP.) I mean, seriously, Hasbro, WTF? They're PONIES, not heroin-chic fashion models. FEED THEM.

5 things

Dec. 18th, 2011 08:57 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. I'm seeing a sleep therapist now, because I would like to get off the potentially addictive hypnotic that is currently holding my insomnia down. She told me what I really already knew, that I need to get on a fixed schedule of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. Which means getting up at 6:30 on weekends. I HATE THIS. I have always been a night owl, and mornings are my favorite time to sleep. But I am determined to give this fixed schedule a fair shot, so here I am, awake and fed and medicated and dressed at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. (Nobody says I have to move fast on weekends, just that I have to get up.)

The fixed schedule idea also means that I have to go to bed--as in, in bed, lights out, eyes shut, at 10:15. And ideally I need to try to decrease my computer usage in the late evenings, because of light issues (photosensitivity plus glow of monitor equals confused circadian rhythms). Which means I have even less time to get computer things done, and I am still trying to finish this goddamn book. Ergo, as little as I have been an online presence in recent months, I'm going to be even less of one, at least for a while. Which is Teh Suck, but I have to find a way to keep the insomnia chained in the basement, and long-term drug usage is just not the way I want to go.

2. So, when I was making my whirlwind trip to Boston, I discovered that O'Hare has a Field Museum store. This is a brilliantly terrible idea on the Field Museum's part, but it did mean I could take [ profile] matociquala meerkat socks as a hostess gift (because seriously--meerkat socks). And I bought for myself a pair of tiny Sue earrings. They have become my favorite earrings--for the one set of holes I don't just leave rings in all the time--for days I don't have to dress like an adult.

3. Two really nice capsule reviews of The Bone Key: (1) and (2). And Somewhere Beneath Those Waves got a starred review from Library Journal (here if you're interested) and a very kind mention from Lesley Hall over at Aqueduct Press's blog.

4. These fossa pups, Ingrid, Heidi, and Gretchen, show that Madagascar really knows how to work the charismatic predator* angle.

5. Have a picture of Milo and me:

(Stepping Stones Studio 2011)
*[ profile] ursulav came up with that useful designation.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. The Jellicle Ninja is doing much better. Thank you for all your kind wishes!
2. Brit Mandelo has reviewed Somewhere Beneath Those Waves for
3. Apex Magazine will be reprinting "The Yellow Dressing Gown" in their 31st issue.
4. I still like my job as a database thrall.
5. The horse continues to be a good horse. A goofy, exasperating horse, but a good horse nonetheless.


Aug. 7th, 2011 05:08 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
One year and one week ago today, I broke my ankle at--as it happens--a horse show.

The fact that it was a horse show was pure serendipity. I wasn't showing, and my injury was not in any way horse-related. But it lets me have one of those tidy pieces of ring composition that fiction does so often and real life so rarely. Today, at the same facility, Milo and I rode in our first schooling show. In the Intro-A test, we came in second in a field of three with a score of 54.38. In the Intro-B test, we came in third in a field of five, with a score of 59.38.

This is respectable for our very first show, and I am very happy.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
ME: [rummaging in tack room for ointment to put on a cut on Milo's right foreleg]
MILO: [from the cross-ties] I'm PEEEEEEEEEEing in the aisle, just PEEEEEEEEEEing in the--
ME: [emerging from the tack room like the wrath of god] STOP THAT YOU HORRIBLE HORSE!
MILO: What, me? I would never!
ME: Into your stall with you.
MILO: [plaintively] But I don't have to pee now.
ME: Tough.
[five minutes later]
MILO: I'm PEEEEEEEEing in my stall, just PEEEEEEEEEEing in my stall, what a glorious feeling . . .
ME: [facepalm]

5 things

Jun. 24th, 2011 11:08 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec-working)
1. Not to be gross, but the snotbergs in my head are calving.

2. Milo <3 June

3. Since a couple people have asked, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is a short story collection. It will be published by Prime in November, and will collect all the non-Booth stories I've published up until 2010. (I.e., "After the Dragon" will be in it; "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek" will not.)

4. There is no number four.

5. Bat-eared fox kits! They're going to grow up to look like this, so you can see that it takes a while after birth before the ears deploy. In honor of my love for critters who can use their ears for drag chutes, have some more pictures. (Plus a bonus fennec fox.)
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. [ profile] saladinahmed is looking for a few good cartographers.

2. I am really tired of feeling like crap all the time.

3. OTOH, great dressage lesson yesterday, after which Milo got his revenge for having to admit I was the boss by (a.) depositing a generous pile of manure in the stable aisle, (b.) backing up to plant his foot in it, and then (c.) pretending he had not the least idea how to go forward again.


5. The pool was closed for maintenance all last week, but I got out there today. Of course, I forgot my watch. :P

Unknown amount of time, 20 laps.
308 miles, 10 laps.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
Someone should have been out at the barn with a camera today. June the Barn Cat jumped on my shoulder while I was grooming Milo, resulting in a three-species karmic chi love thing: June purring like a maniac while Milo whuffled her ear and then mine.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
I will not clothesline my human with the cross-ties.

5 things

Feb. 18th, 2011 02:07 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
1. We had a thirty-six hour internet outage yesterday and today. SO not amused.

2. Also not amused by Wisconsin's governor. But yay for the 30,000 protesters!

3. Sean Wallace has posted the cover mock-up for the new edition of The Bone Key. I am in love with the cover art.

4. 169 copies of Unnatural Creatures have arrived! I have signed and numbered the entire print run, and this weekend will be all about making up orders and shipping them out.

5. Today, Milo and I cantered off the lunge line! This is huge, because the last time I tried cantering off the lunge line, back in May, I fell off the horse. It's taken my instructor and me this long to get me to the point where I was ready to try again, and OMG it felt completely different and SO MUCH BETTER. Completely psyched.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
Quick trip out to the barn today, to bring Milo his new winter hood. I went into his pasture and showed it to him (he is phenomenally not-spooky, but he hates not knowing what's going on) and put it on. To my relief, it fits. (The sizes are medium and large, so his trainer and I had to guess whether he's what Dover considers a "medium" horse.) While I was doing that, Milo's pasture-mate came over and explained to me that he is a NEGLECTED horse whom NOBODY LOVES. Certainly nobody EVER scritches his poll the way it needs scritched.

Incidentally, it is difficult to fasten a buckle with a horse's nose in your ear.

So I petted both horses a little, and then, as it was their dinner time and my ears, fingers, and toes were all beginning to freeze solid, I came home.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
The take-home lesson from 2010 is: don't break your ankle.

Other than that, I'n not doing any kind of Year in Review post. Instead:

my horse in a nutshell )

and some pictures of four-cat bed detente )

Happy New Year! Here's to 2011!

Day 101

Nov. 9th, 2010 02:44 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
So my little cloth lace-up brace is my new best friend. Not only can I wear TWO shoes again, I can wear pants. (Pants! I have a whole new appreciation for pants, let me tell you.) And on Saturday I was actually able to ride Milo. It was for fifteen minutes, and it was the most boring lesson ever, and it was AWESOME.

However, some verisimilitude notes for writers. I still can't go downstairs normally; it's bad foot down one, then good foot to join it, then bad foot down one, then good foot to join it. Although I can walk relatively normally, and even fairly fast (although not without pain), there is a point beyond which I simply cannot go faster. There is, as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, no there there. Also, I cannot run. (As we discovered on Saturday night, I cannot even jog to cross the street ahead of oncoming traffic, and [ profile] rarelylynne, I'm sorry for scaring you.) Uneven surfaces are hell. And this is with the brace. Without the brace, I can sort of limp/shuffle around on the nice flat floors of my house.

The RLS continues to be bratty and abysmal, and now that I'm off the narcotics entirely, it's harder to sleep. Sunday night I was up every two or three hours; last night, I was up at least once. (The difference between RLS and insomnia: with insomnia, I'm just not sleepy; with RLS, I'm desperately sleepy, but I've got the invisible goblins poking me and I can't sleep. I'll take good old-fashioned insomnia any day.) I'm starting magnesium supplements ("it might help," said the doctor's office), and on Thursday I have an appointment with an acupuncturist. I will of course report back.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (tr: mole)
More terrible RLS last night. And the damn acupuncture clinic still has not called me back to schedule an appointment. (Dear clinic, this is deeply sub-optimal. Nolove, Mole.) And my Kinesis keyboard has died, like a Norwegian Blue parrot. (I'm typing this on a spare Mac keyboard [ profile] mirrorthaw happened to have lying around, which is fine as a stopgap measure, but no good as a long-term solution.)


1. I have 2100 words on a new story, tentatively titled, "Clouded Mary and Crawdad Marie," which seems to be what happens when steampunk crashes head on into The Wizard of Oz. Also, seriously, inspiration can come from anywhere. This one started in a rest stop in Indiana on the way back from WFC with a series of three doors labeled "Assisted Care," "Women," and "Mechanical." I'm hoping it will kick up something with which to simulate a plot soon, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the characters and the world building and, well, the writing. It's a tremendous relief to discover that I can still do this and all the machinery works.

(I wonder if one reason for the popularity of steampunk is that many writers are secretly convinced their creativity is like one of those steampunk machines with the gears and the levers and maybe a steam whistle. ... Or is that just me?)

2. [ profile] cmpriest is in town for TeslaCon, and although I am not doing TeslaCon, I do get to have dinner with Cherie tomorrow night.

3. Also tomorrow, I am going to make the grand experiment of getting back on my horse, and I don't mean that metaphorically.

4. Everyone involved seems to like my Whedonistas essay.

5. Truly lovely fan art for The Bone Key.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd)
This is one of the reasons I'm looking for a part-time job:

His name is Franco Donatello*; he's a 15.3 hand, five-year-old, chestnut Holsteiner gelding, and as of this afternoon, he is mine.

You can see that he celebrated with mud:

Also, that I take crap photographs. The best one I got was one of him modeling his fly-mask:

Which mostly shows you how weird fly-masks look.

I am undoubtedly insane for buying this horse, but there are a lot of things that I have wanted to do and not done because they were too expensive or I didn't have the time or I didn't have anyone to do them with, and I know what those regrets feel like. With dressage and horses, I'm taking the other approach, of going ahead and trying, even though I'm not sure it's going to work. Because this is something I really want to do, and this young, sweet goofball of a horse seems like he's going to be a good partner to do it with.

*His current use-name is Donny; for a variety of personal reasons, I wish to change it, and suggestions are welcome, although of course I reserve the right not to use any of them.


truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)

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