Bow Legs

“You would like me to do WHAT!” I asked, not sure I heard correctly.

“Stand up in your saddle,” she patiently repeated.

I heard this time and immediately felt cortisol coursing through my body.  Is this lady mad?!  I’ll fall off the horse!  Sure, I am wearing a helmet, but no, not doing this.

“Hold on to the horse’s mane, it will help you stabilize while you push down with your heels in the stirrups” she encouraged.

“The horses MANE!” I repeated, “wont that make him angry?” as I was thinking about someone grabbing onto MY hair holding on for dear life. No way!!

“He wont mind, just stand straight up and once you’ve tried I’ll have you do it while he is walking,” she added, cool as a cucumber.

I couldn’t think straight, my head was spinning and I was starting to regret all the gear and the big idea of wanting to learn how to ride a horse.  In the end, my desire not to be defeated won out and I tentatively grabbed a handful of Olaf’s mane and clumsily pushed myself upwards.  I was standing!  I couldn’t believe it!  Standing in the stirrups, just like that.  Wow I’m a pro, I thought to myself as I unceremoniously settled back into the saddle.

“Good job,” Laura encouraged, “Now ask Olaf to move forward by pushing your reins forward and moving your hips gently in the saddle.  Remember, ask, tell, demand.  You should be able to have him respond to the change in your breathing.”

With that, I relaxed in the saddle, gently pushed my hands forward, relieved the pressure on Olaf’s mouth, pushed my hips forward and quietly sighed.

He moved forward with ease and I immediately wanted to jump up and down and declare myself the winner, but I didn’t. Instead, I gave Olaf a congratulatory “Good boy!” as we moved down the track.

Not to be distracted by my subtle, yet effective ask to move forward, Laura reminded me of my next task, “Now that he is moving, stand straight up until you get to “L”.”

This lady is relentless!

I grabbed onto Olaf’s mane pushed my heels down and stood up straight.  I could not believe myself, we were doing it, we were riding around the track, Olaf and I.  Me standing up! 

“Ok, now I want you to squeeze while wrapping your calves around his belly. Zip up your abs. You will feel this in your ankles.” Laura explained.

And she was right. By the fourth try, my ankles were screaming at me “What are you doing to us?” and I wondered if at the end of the lesson when I was asked to dismount, if from my feet to my hips, would my legs be permanently contorted into the shape of two bows pointing away from each other?

The World of Riding

One thing is for sure, my feet were feeling itchy for some change. A year cooped up, working from home, masked in-person meet-ups, plenty of time for self-reflection, booking reading and mental gymnastics had me thinking “Hmmm”.

Before our premier announced today “Do not make any plans for Easter…, this is an announcement about an upcoming, unplanned announcement!”, before that, I decided to dip my toe into the world of Horseback riding.

After much googling and reading reviews, I decided upon a Stable / Barn / Ranch that would be adequate for safe, in-person, private lessons and a Store from which to buy suitable gear. I researched boots, helmets, pants and armed with all the information I could find, marched into an equestrian outfitters.

Before I go further, I want to point out that from the very beginning of this notion that this would be a good idea, I felt out of place. An interloper ready to give away my money to a sport that will most likely eat me up and spit me out. This really isn’t my game but I want to play.

So, in I marched, ready to talk gear and immediately I felt out of my depth. The lady was very helpful, asking me questions for which I should have and answer, such as “how much are you planning to spend?” and “What size of pant are you.” Easy questions and I just had a huge brain block.

“I am willing to spend as much as it means that I will be as safe as possible if I am thrown from the horse and / or if the horse decides to kick me in the head.” Why am I doing this? I can back out; I hadn’t bought the ticket and the train was still in the station. I stuck to my plan, buy gear no matter the cost!

I picked a helmet, boots and breeches. Now the breeches are really just fancy workout tights with rubbery designs across the buttocks and down the inner thighs – $170 please! The boots, a return from a lady who paid $$$$$ for custom footwear and for whatever reason decided against the purchase? On sale, but still steep. The helmet, for an extra $30 you can replace the front, decorative bezel. Decorative! $30! I bought the helmet, not because of the $30 interchangeable bezel, but IT’S ON SALE. Again, still steep but on sale.

I left the store a bit sheepish, still a bit unsure of the WHY I was doing this, and announced to the sales lady, “Well if all else fails, when I fall off the horse I will be doing so IN STYLE!”

She laughed and I dashed out to my car.

The Tree that escaped a most certain death

Over the last few days I have been doing my best to remember to snap a photo of the Tree that escaped a most certain death. The few times I did remember it was not a convenient time; simply meaning there were people sitting in front of the tree and it would be rude to ask them to move.

However there was one noteworthy time when I was actually scared away by an eyeball.

To be exact it was the right eyeball that had me skittering out of the coffee shop amid a burst of laughter – I tried, I promise, I tried to hide my smile and the tittering but I just couldn’t help myself.

You may be wondering how just one eyeball would frighten me so!

The one day the tree was not obstructed by people I cleverly arranged myself with the intention of snapping a photo when I noticed a customer was sitting facing me with a book up to his face. I glanced towards him to make sure I wasn’t disturbing his reading when I was introduced to the right eyeball.

Yes he had the book up in front of his face but what I saw upon closer inspection was that his right eyeball was peering out the side of the book, watching me. It can only be assumed that he was using the book as a ruse, a pretense in order not to be caught staring. I do not think I am that interesting of a person to warrant staring but I dare say as I crouched down and performed a mini Cirque-Du-Soleil manoeuver in an effort to capture not only a photograph but a masterpiece of a saved tree inside a light green bucket, I admit staring may have been his only option.

The eyeball frightened me and in the time it took me to unwind myself and set my spine straight, the humour of this situation overwhelmed me. As I tippy-toed past the eyeball with the book on my way out of the shop without a photograh, I could not suppress my grin.

I will do my best to describe the tree and the bucket since it is now just too embarrasing for me to attempt another photo session of the tree with it’s bucket.

Now before you get carried away thinking that it’s only the male gender that talk and stare at me while I am out and about, I’d like to share with you one of my favourite stories.

It is admittedly more eventful when women strike up conversation because there is usually a point to the exercise that doesn’t involve trying to get a number.

One fine day a few months ago while minding my own business I was jolted back to reality by a woman standing over me madly shouting and waving her arms, “It’s not getting enough water.”

The lady is pointing to the tree in the corner by the rest rooms.

I grunt at her like a man and she continues.

“It needs a pan underneath it. It needs to be pulling water up from the bottom through the roots.”

She stops chattering and looks over at me to see if I am listening. I can see her out of the corner of my eye. I do not want to get involved but she is doing her best to get me involved.

She rustles in her giant black pleather bag eventually retrieving, what I can only imagine is her trusty measuring tape. She precisely measures the depth and width of the bottom of the plant and jots down the dimensions in her little note pad.

It is a rainy day and my dear lady is dressed in an oversized rain coat, rubber boots, her hair is disheveled and she has a black and white zebra print umbrella as extra protection from the elements. She mentions something about the rainy weather and I miss hearing exactly what it is. Getting an unsatisfactory response, she turns on her heal and marches out of the shop.

Clearly on a mission.

Within 10 minutes she is back and in her hands a large light green plastic tub – it must be two and half feet deep and at least two feet wide. She shuffles over to the despairing tree and sets her bucket down to see if it is a suitable find.

I know where this is going. Today I do not want to be helpful. I want to stay sitting in my comfy chair.

“I’ve been looking for weeks for a pan that will fit the tree. I’ve bought four already that I’ve had to take back. The tree is so big and it is going to die if it doesn’t start feeding from the bottom – die.”

I am getting the point but she isn’t done yet. It doesn’t matter that this is not my tree and we are not in my establishment. It matters only that I am a customer, I am taking up space and this in itself demands my attention, my care!

“Look at the leaves, they need misting.”

I am no gardener. After my ex and I broke up all the plants in my house went to waste! He was the diligent one watering, caring for them each time he visited. He’d even visit my plants in my absence and I secretly believe he scheduled sleep over’s at my house to keep vigil on them! I know this because when I’d arrive home after days away there was that telltale sign; my bed was miraculously made and I know I left my comforter in the middle of my bed, in disarray.

Pointing out the leaves to me was doing no good. I am blind when it comes to plants and leaves.

“I’ll need to lift the tree up to get this deep bucket underneath”. She moves the chair that’s blocking the tree out of the way and starts uncomfortably shifting the tree.

The tree does look pretty heavy from where I sit and I make no attempt to interject in her endeavor of shifting the furniture around to make the tree more accessible. I know if I stand up she will willingly delegate the entire task to me. I know, I have met women before just like her.

I wonder if the owner knows what’s going on. I envision them happening upon me while I try to lift the tree into this new pot in order to satisfy the flapping woman. I can see me taking all the blame when the tree falls over because I can’t handle the weight. I don’t know why I’d try to do it on my own in the first place, but I know my nature and I would try. It’s really a most potentially fatal flaw!

I successfully ignore the woman and she leaves the pot, the tree and me in peace.

She is back in 5 minutes. She’s found the owner and a second man.

She has convinced them of her critical mission.

They lift the heavy tree and place it gently in the new light green tub.

Three months later the tree looks happy to me.

It is safe to say the tree narrowly avoided an imminent and catastrophic death and now has a light green tub to keep it warm and invigorated.

The Hair Adventure

The Hair Adventure

*Before I get into this post, I thought that shoes would be a great picture because of all the … transit … but maybe a picture of Hair would have been more appropriate but too bad…I am leaving the shoes :)*

I am well on my way on my newest venture and I admit it is pretty scary but what I am learning to do is trust myself and focus on today instead of tomorrow and what might and might not happen. That is a different post for another day but trust me I have it half written already in my…head.

There are many pleasures I made a conscious decision to give up when deciding to leave automotive for Retail *therapy* (I might not be buying but heck, I get to stand in the middle of a store every day and feast my eyes on…STUFF that is FOR SALE!!).

One item that I decided not to give up is my hair. Now ladies I am going to go against the code and I am going to admit that I dye my hair. Three years ago, almost exactly, on a dare (yes I do participate in dares) I dyed my hair red. I couldn’t bring myself to have my hairdresser desecrate my hair and instead visited a friend of a friend’s hair salon. While sitting there waiting for the dye to be applied this older lady sitting next to me started chatting me up. She asked me what colour I choose and she lit up like a light bulb when I said red, really she did!

“You are going to ROCK IT! You are going to get the colour and then you’ll keep it for years. Trust me, I went red in my 20’s and didn’t stop until I hit 60 and now I am strawberry blonde.”

Groan. A long term commitment to having my hair being dyed every 4 weeks was not what I was looking for in my life. This couldn’t be.

In a matter of 45 minutes I had new hair. It was fun, it was sassy and as long as I didn’t look in a mirror I was ok.

Monday morning rolled around. It was time for work. I stood in front of my closet to pick out something to wear and that is when my little old ladies’ words came rushing back.

“You’ll need to change your wardrobe, your make-up, your jewelry.”

At that time when she warned me I could only think “This was just me dying my hair red, why was she making such a flipping big deal about it.”

But standing in front of the mirror with an orange dress and red hair only OMG what I have done was coming to mind! I have nothing to wear. I might as well go to work in my bikini since everything else in my closet just doesn’t work!

I called my friend in desperation.

“I have nothing to wear!” gasping, trying to keep the heart attack at bay.

“What do you mean you have nothing to wear, you have plenty of clothes.”

“I DYED MY HAIR RED” I shrieked into the phone.

“You what?”

“I dyed it red on Saturday.”

“I am sure it’s not that bad, breathe and find something neutral in your closet, you’ll be fine” said the eternal optimist (It’s one of my favourite things about my girl friends, they are optimists)

“Ok, ummmm, I’ll find something, can you tell the director I’ll be running a little late I am too ashamed to call and give my reason – you know me I can’t bend the truth if my life depended on it and having a wardrobe meltdown is just an embarrassing reason to be late.”

I could just envision the conversation “Hey M, I am running late. I had a meltdown in front my closet today, my mascara is running down my cheeks, my hair is fire engine red and about that big presentation we need to make today about production to the president, well I’ll make sure to be wearing more than my bikini and I promise to wash my face and brush my hair, see you soon.”

After seeing me at work my friend says “It looks great, you made it sound like you had dyed your hair bright pink or something terrible – I admit I was a little worried!”

Needless to say three years later the red has stuck.

So back to the real reason for this post, I decided to keep my red during my new Retail adventure and that means public transit.

Ok there are other options available to me but I like my independence (however I admit it sometimes gets in my way) and I usually will try things at least once (not ALWAYS a good idea).

Tomorrow I will be taking the Mississauga public transit to go visit my hairdresser. I know it sounds shameful, that poor silly girl having to resort to public transit.

Don’t worry, this silly girl is having the time of her life and not regretting a minute of it, to which I can hear “I bet she’ll regret it one day.”

Maybe, but most likely not 🙂

I have figured out I need to leave my condo at exactly 10 minutes after so that I can catch the 18 after bus outside my place. The transit website advises to be at the stop 5 minutes prior to the actual departure time – sounds like these buses are right down to the minute. Tomorrow I will find out for sure!

I’ll get to take the subway for one stop and then the Mississauga transit. I am sort of looking forward to this TTC/MiWay experience.

Did you know that it is 25 cents more expensive to take MiWay than it is to take the TTC? Did you also know that trying to incorporate a European lifestyle in North America is time consuming and not that simple?

Tomorrow I will likely be about 4 minutes late for my hair appointment unless the Transit system finds some extra minutes here and there.

I will be sure to have a good laugh with my hairdresser who has taken on the task of keeping my hair red and doing a great job. Yes, there are more convenient and closer salon’s but I really feel this transit inconvenience is worth the result 🙂

Tomorrow, I will let you know how it all went and well….if I plan to ever repeat such an adventure.