red sails


I painted this in an effort to…well…learn more about watercolors. I was trying to mess around with controlling the depth of pigment in broader strokes, but still deliberate ones, if that makes sense. The water came out kind of cool, but you can see that the ship leaked all over it because I didn’t wait for the ship to dry sufficiently before starting on the water.

The sails were a challenge for me to draw–so many lines and angles! I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t. I will definitely be drawing Chinese junks again, though, because they are SO COOL to look at.

the reiner inside

We made a discover in my most recent riding lesson: Midas was a western horse once.

It started because I was picking up the reins to show my trainer what Midas can do with the bitless bridle. He was in a very agreeable mood, so I was quite surprised when he immediately backed in a tight circle the moment I picked up contact. He does this now and then, I find it mysterious, and sometimes frustrating because I wasn’t asking him to back–at least in the English fashion.

My trainer, being a trainer and also on the ground, began to suspect. That was a western move, she said. So we tried it a number of ways, halt, drop the reins, pick up the reins, see what he does. Then, try again, holding the reins lower. We tried a number of different things, and uncovered that when I pick up the reins, hands high, he backs. Depending on factors I haven’t quite isolated, it triggers a backing pattern–where he backs quickly and swings his bum left and backs some more. Sometimes in an entire circle if I don’t drop the reins. Now, experimenting, we tried out and out neck reining in loop de loops at trot and he handled great. Like, we even did a little bit of that spinning maneuver.

Good heavens, I have a reiner. Before he fox hunted, he did reining or maybe cutting.

Now, I haven’t ridden western seriously since I was 9 and just learning to ride. I have trail ridden western, so the reining world is just something I’ve watched with fascination. But now I have a lot of reading to do.

Another interesting discovery in this lesson is that he exhibits tendencies of a horse who washed out of being a driving horse. I was describing his keen distaste of having things in his blind spot, and also his aversion to the lunge whip. These are features which, if he hasn’t already washed out of driving, he would. Considering that when we were out at a show last someone wanted him for their carriage, I would say there is a good chance he may have already washed out.

How many lives have you lived, horse? And no one scratched behind your ears or under you mane to say hello?

This horse

Today was our second proper foray into bareback and bridle-less. The first time was quite spontaneous, and went pretty well. We walked in a circle, then I tried trotting him up the long side and laughed at how very quickly steering fell apart. Then I fetched the reins and had a slightly more proper ride (in the halter and bareback pad).

This time was only slightly less spontaneous, but we’ve spent weeks working on our leg aids and not tuning out when I let go of the reins at walk or trot. We walked, did figures, walked poles, walked into the grass and out of it again, stopped, did turns, even backed! And then I quit because he was starting to feel proud of himself, and that’s a good place to quit. Quit while that “hey, this is the easiest work ever for oodles of pats and scratches!” glow is high!

Then we took a walk in hand and I watched him eat grass for a half hour as a reward. This was a good day for everyone!


Wonder Woman


So we went to see Wonder Woman on opening night, and were not disappointed. Lots of other people had the same experience, because the movie made over 100k opening weekend and is being hailed as a needed course correction for the DC movie-verse.

I agree.

I grew up watching the Batman/Superman Adventures, and the animated Justice League of America and Justice League Unlimited. I never really read the comics, but I’ve seen snippets here and there. Somehow, though, when DC makes the leap to the silver screen they forget the core of what makes things work and just take the skin. They take the skin, change out the soul, and then wonder why it doesn’t do as well as they expected.

Wonder Woman is a movie whose soul is hope and faith.  Semi spoiler alert?

Diana is raised in a peaceful place that is constantly preparing for war, and teaching about good and evil. She initially sees the world as we wish it was–a good world that is only corrupt because of one corrupter. The first man she meets, Steve, is a bit blown away by her version of the world, but doesn’t bother trying to argue with her. I mean, he just saw an island of Amazons and experienced the lasso of truth, he knows enough to know that’s not an argument worth getting into until he knows more than he knows now, you know? When Diana is faced with the reality that it’s not that simple, that mankind itself is corrupted, Steve argues with her about saving it. Because it’s not that simple; it’s not a question of what you deserve, but what you believe (how’s that for a core truth about the way the real world works?). She comes to realize that, in the words of Samwise Gamgee, there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.

Unlike other DC movies, the good worth fighting for is a bit more obvious in this story (we aren’t sure there actually IS any good in most of the other recent movies). Diana is surrouned by a cadre of diverse souls who decide to risk it all in a desperate mission for the sake of brotherhood, a leader worth following, and the world. They have no one forcing them to do this, and nothing to gain for themselves.

The film has many of the same elements as Rogue One, actually. It’s not quite as skillfully executed in terms of tightness of story or world building (or science…poison gas exploding in the sky instead of on the ground doesn’t actually solve much–your only hope is that it is somehow light enough to….go into space? Maybe? Before it falls back to earth in the rain), but the elements of depth are there and carry the movie through it’s weaker elements. (I was personally bothered that the hero’s name is Steve, which wasn’t very typical in WWI, and that the depiction of the “Front” involved villagers fleeing the front in a panic like the Front just got there. And lets not even talk about young Ares’ mustache.) The movie isn’t doing well because of accurate world building, it’s doing well because it’s a story with heart and soul. The hope it leaves you with is real, because the film actually demonstrated what love looks like.

The success of this is due in no small part to the flawless performance of Gal Gadot, but also an excellent supporting cast and plenty of inspiring cinematography.

I’m sure much will be made of the fact that this is a movie with a female superhero carrying it–and how that’s never been done before (or has it? Rogue One, Force Awakens, Hunger Games, all dominated by their heroines). I’m sure people will fight about how it’s feminist (woman in armor is lead fighter!) or not feminist (her armor is far to feminine and skimpy to be feminist) but that’s not what I saw when I watched the movie. I saw a movie about a warrior who was compassionate and determined to protect those who could not protect themselves. She also happened to be a woman, and still feminine with her flowing hair. Honestly, I saw everything I want to be. She respected people (men and women alike) as equals and saw her role, her particular role, as protector. The world as she saw it divided people only by skills. It looked a lot like the world I see in my head. It’s not necessarily the way the world IS, but it’s how it should be.