Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chance Taking a Gamble...

... for a ride. But we'll get to that,

First, well.... wow! It seems like forever since I've sat down at the keyboard for anything other than earning my keep down at the idea mill. It seems even longer since I've slipped the surly bonds (note: I had never really given any thought to the 'surly' in the first line -- maybe I notice it now because it feels so appropriate) and seen the world from a far different (and often better) perspective.

I did so today. Even though it was only a half hour flight in my little playground just outside the western edge of Columbus, I was able to accomplish a number of things. First, it appears that my re-pitching of the prop was a great success. I have my missing knots back and the engine runs as smooth as wet-sanded silk. Second, I verified that the autopilot has fixed itself, having been given adequate time to reflect on its recent failure to maintain a steady altitude and decided to do better in the future. 

And third, I made the best landing that I have ever made in that airplane. The only thing that keeps it from being graded as perfect is that I had intended to land right on the numbers but overshot by a few feet.  Other than that, it was one of those touchdowns where the first indication that the surly bonds have regained their grasp on both body and soul is the sound of the mains spinning up as they lightly scuff along the runway. I was able to hold the nose up until there was just enough lift remaining in the wing and tail to let my ease it down onto the runway as softly as the tread of a cat burglar.

So, where have I been in the interim? Well, weather was certainly a factor with the spring winds and rains, but there was more than that. I lost a full week to a back injury incurred in the most mundane of ways: I pulled something in my lower back while traversing the estate grounds with my best-ever weed whacker. A few days of being nearly immobilized by muscle spasms followed by a recovery period of a few more days ate up at least a week. The rest of the time was either marred by bad weather, taken up with other activities, or in one case, simply giving up and letting the surly bonds have their way with me. In other words, I was just not in the mood.

But fear not, the time was not wholly wasted. One of the more interesting things that I did was to go see co-pilot Egg's horse, Chance.

How, you're wondering, did a city-bred girl like Egg end up with a horse? It actually came about through her friendship with a fellow student in her nursing college who happens to own a horse or two. Well, two. One is Chance and the other is named Hemi.  Chance is the elder of the two and is of the requisite age and demeanor to suffer gladly the indignities incumbent to carrying an absolute novice. What began as Egg going out riding with her friend (let's call her Fall) now and then eventually ending up with Erika leasing a share of the horse for the next four months.

She got off to a slightly rocky start, though. Chance, being the docile fellow that he is, has a few bites here and there from the other horses trying to establish their positions in the stable hierarchy.  As she was brushing him, she ran the brush across a sensitive area, causing Chance to either spook or stomp a hoof in protest. Whichever it was, the net result was a squished toe for Egg. Fortunately nothing was broken, but the incident did serve notice that she was taking quite a risk by not wearing more sensible footwear.

And that was how we ended up at Rod's Western Palace in search of some riding boots. Rod's was quite the place! It would have felt right at home in the heart of Texas. It was so Western that I actually felt pretty out of place. You know, geeky IT Director parking his fancy German roadster in a parking lot dominated by steroidal pick-ups. And I had just recently shaved off my beard, so I didn't even have that to hide behind.

We perused the massive boot selection, automatically disqualifying from contention the boots that were clearly more appropriate to line dancing and/or had price tags that seemed to have been lifted from the local jewelry shop. We were assisted by a guy whose attire and demeanor screamed "Cowboy." It was a slow process and I felt more and more like Cowboy was wondering if these two city slickers would ever make up their minds. We finally narrowed it down to two pairs of functional riding boots - the tie-breaker would be whichever they had in her size. The sizing took awhile - she just couldn't find a pair that fit just right. She eventually had had enough and said, "These will do. They'll feel better once I break them in."

Ah!  Just the opening I had been looking for. I immediately pulled a factoid from The Gamble Encyclopedia of Thin Air and shared it, "Oh, no, Honey. With cowboy boots, you don't break them in. They break you, in."

Cowboy looked up, met my gaze, gave a single nod of agreement and said, "Ayyy-yup."

Made my day.

A few days ago I made my first journey to visit Chance. He lives here:

It was quite the hostile environment. Just look at the fierce watchdog that met us:

Egg does a lot of work around the stables helping Fall move horses around and has developed friendships with a few of them. She brings them cookies.

Chance was out back enjoying the morning air. He's the one back in the corner, so it was deemed easier to just bring them all in rather than try to separate him from the group.

Norman didn't like that idea. I believe he said "Hell neigh, I wanna stay," or something along those lines.

I'll bet it did!!

The gelding. I bet it DID hurt!  (In case you just didn't get the joke.)

Chance was a dirty mess from being out in the mud, so he needed a good brushing.

 He's shedding, too, so I jumped in with the shedding brush.

She's good buddies with Chance, but he was still a little tetchy over having to come back inside, so he gave her a nip just after she started petting his nose.


He got the evil eye for that. You can tell that he's remorseful - just look at that long face!

She can't stay mad at him. All was soon forgiven.

Looks pretty smug about it, doesn't he?

Lot's and lot's of attention-starved cats were running all over the place. Or taking naps. You know how cats are - their moods can turn on a dime.  This one brushed off my attempts at befriending him:

Cobwebs. And completely oblivious about them. Ah, freedom.

Did I mention that the stable is owned by a woman?

Time to saddle up!

The cats have seen it all before.

After running around with Egg, Chance needed a cool-down walk, so Fall asked me if I would like a pony ride. She led us around while I just sat there enjoying the ride. I gad forgotten how high up in the air you are when riding a big horse!

After a few laps I figured I could keep control of him on my own. The only hard part about it was keeping him moving. He was ready to back to his stall for breakfast and I was the last thing keeping him from it. Every time we went past the gate, he stopped and patiently awaited by debarkation.

So here it is, at long last: Chance taking a Gamble for a ride:

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