|It rainded, grass grew and goats can snub their carefully scrubbed bucket with fresh water and drink from puddles...|
This was escalated by my arranging with Rachel to take home her baby goats. It began to be tight in the small pen, and their relationships got edgy. Twilight got pushed into a position of a lonely goat, for the babies stuck with their mother, Licorice. Berry has grown up and began to challenge Twilight's status of alpha goat. And they all together agreed to leave Star in the lowest goat rank, and we had to keep an eye on her getting enough to eat. Simply put, time had come to move the young goats to their own home. The actual move proceeded with much screaming of all goats. Berry and Star got a bit quieter only after finding themselves in their new location.
Thus I gain a worry with milking Licorice. I don't know if I got more skillful, or if Licorice is a less of a drama goat, or if she as a beta does not dwell so much on dignity, but it turned out to be a bit easier with her than with Twilight. Still, she has a lot less milk — and again I don't know, if it's because she's a smaller goat, or because she was getting ready to wean Star off anyway.
|Lisa has to train her own pony.|
|Lisa's first competition.|
It has complicated my situation mostly because I had a surgery planned for the nineteenth, and I had to organize, fill out and pay everything within the remaining five days, for I did not know how mobile and lucid I would be after the surgery. My doctor was threatening with six weeks of indisposition and stressed repeatedly that for those three fortnights I must not engage in any physical activity, not even yoga. And since I have my experience with probably being a weaker individual, and my convalescence lasts much longer than optimistic outlooks of doctors, I wanted to be ready.
During my last week before the surgery I was arranging people to milk my goat, for Rachel was to be away just this one week, I tried to understand all administrative tangles of the vaulting team, then I had to see an optometrist on account of running out of contact lenses, and was still haunted by summons to pre-surgery tests. Those would get me raging every time a nurse would call me that I still have to go to get yet another test. As if they could not give me a COMPLETE LSIT UPFRONT, during that one-hour meeting with the surgery team! Why did I have to go to my PCP (with a waiting room full of sniveling, coughing wrecks) in a hurry three days before my surgery, and why did I get another call twelve hours before day D, and got asked to drop everything and go to a lab to get a pregnancy test — into the same lab that I visited three times during the week leading to this moment? By that time, I was rather hysterical and did not go to get any more tests. I had a long list of what needed to get ready at home, and I could not just abandon it, because someone is incompetent.
|Lisa's first competition.|
|Up to three girls from one team may be up on a horse at a time.|
I left the hospital on the same day afternoon — I was ready to catch up with my breakfast (naturally, I had to show up hungry in the morning) and get a real coffee, not a hospital supper. I was able to perform basic life functions without assistance and there are no angry beeping instruments at home. Just so you know, when all the instruments began screaming around me (although there was nothing wrong with me) and nobody would bother to come down and turn them off, I did not think I missed any professional care at home. And there was less stress — when a nurse shuffled in about ten minutes after I called her on the phone regarding the screaming instruments, she berated me that the instruments were screaming because I was covering my ears (after anesthesia I had enough head-ache without the help of siren). I pointed out that her logic was reversed — I was covering my ears as a consequence of screaming instruments, not the other way around. She ignored me and departed, pissed off.
On the fifth day after surgery I declared my goats to be therapeutic, and ventured on a visit. Sarah was milking; I exhausted my available range of positions by driving while sitting down, but I felt it getting better. In whole two more days I took over milking, and when I just shuffled, I managed to get out of the house at least once daily. Goaties were again expressing a mild disapproval with the rotation of their service team, and it was by far not as pronounced as with the two-week absence. Sarah has had Nigerian goats for years and know s how to handle them, and that made it was probably easier on them. All the staff at the stables were very understanding and really helped with harder tasks — took over carrying buckets, cleaning the enclosure, and similar harder work.
|Tom pulling a cart to the line-up and Lisa is being a ballast.|
|One waits at the line-up for long hours... and eats...|
Nine days after my surgery, Lisa had her first vaulting competition. She took it very seriously, as she was also supposed go through technical tests. The club also took it very seriously — operation of such demanding sport depends on volunteers, for the few dollars of registration fee would surely not pay for the infrastructure of several clubs, tens of competitors and their horses. Every family was thus to provide one volunteer, which I solved in the end by offering Tom, for I was not sure yet how much I could take. And I also wanted Tom to go see Lisa competing, and such thing is always more comfortably done when one is part of the doing, and is given a function or a task, instead of aimlessly dithering around — it was clear that Lisa's performance would take generally minutes at most, and the rest would be miscellaneous standing around.
The competitions took a whole day, beginning at six a.m. We were lucky, Lisa's group was scheduled for eleven o'clock, and on account of warming up and general preparations, Sid took her there ninety minutes earlier. Meanwhile I milked my goats, picked up Tom, and we made it just so. To my surprise and Lisa's great joy, her friend Lucy and her mother came too. I had some doubts what would Lisa be able to present after three weeks of practicing, although she was only to do compulsories. Yet Lisa showed up in a team dress, with a professional hairstyle and a focused demeanor of a responsible artist. I don't understand vaulting at all, but Lisa looked best among their beginners' group. And I may not have been the only one who noticed, for afterwards coaches came to us with an offer to switch Lisa to a trot team. Well, Lisa would want that very much. I got a bit dizzy imagining fees for two trainings a week. And the second one would be on Sundays, which would considerably interfere with our weekend plans.
|...girls discussing and practicing moves.|
|About to get going.|
A team also means additional investments, such as sweat sets, and later performance costumes. Again we hope that the pay-back will take another form. For example, now that she exercises more, Lisa began to have feelings of hunger, and started eating more. She stretches without talking back, and has some motivation for finishing homework in time. She's the oldest and tallest in the team, riding the "base" — thanks to a relatively large horse-riding experience, Lisa has a real feel for the horse's rhythm, and it makes sense for her to be the person between the horse and the flying acrobats — as she sits well. At home with us, Lisa has been on the tail end — youngest, smallest, weakest and so on. A role of the oldest, most sensible and responsible does her certainly well, and it's surely nice to try it all from the other side of things.
With the end of my convalescence, the annual Christmas Parade in Los Gatos approached. It was clear this year that we had to participate — Lisa wanted to go with Mt. Eden Vaulting Club, and Tom and I thought to go with the Bear Creek crew. No goats of ours this time — they give milk, and stressing them with the parade did not seem healthy — and I did not feel like risking the whole purpose of my surgery by arguing with a buckling goat. I wanted to enjoy it for once from the careless side.
Ergo I got up at six thirty, rushed off to milk the goats, and by eight thirty met with my family at a parking lot where groups converged with horses and other beasts. Subsequently I oscillated between decorating Mt. Eden float and a tractor and beasts of Bear Creek, arranging things with two divergent groups of people. Lisa has reached the stage where she could do quite well with not having any mother, much less this publicly, and so I could leave her more or less be. Vaulting company included a larger quantity of adults and near-adults, and thus appeared closer to being under control, unlike the very diverse cluster of Bear Creek, including small children with a pony, a miniature horese with a cart, a tractor, a more grown-up miss on a horse, another more grown-up miss with a goat (wether Marshmallow), and a hard to track number of picnic carts with refreshments and food for all participants, who needed transforming into elves and Christmas-themed characters. Tom and I solved the question of a constume with hats in the shape of reindeer heads, keeping our jeans and fleeces — I worried that hugging elf leggings might induce an impression in the audience of me trying to impersonate a menopausal hippie, as opposed to Santa's wintertime helper.
|Circus came to town.|
|Lisa on Jamie.|
I anticipated that in the parade, the barrel would ride on a car, and the girls would lead their decorated horses, waving to the crowds. I was quite wrong. Barrel indeed rode on a truck, and newly formed doubles would in the course of the parade jump up on the car, perform on the barrel, jump off, file back in among the horses, perform on one horse, jump off, perform on the other horse, and repeat all this again and again. Girls who found themselves momentarily neither on a horse nor on a barrel, were throwing cartwheels, walked on their hands, carried each other on their shoulders and tossed each other into the air. It had an air of a circus coming to town. So I tried to take pictures. A few times, I returned to Tom, so he would not be all alone amongst little stable girls, but I'm not sure how much it helped. Next time I won't urge him to go to the parade, as he's becoming more and more of a teenager.
But the day did not end with the parade. I had planned to keep it secret from Lisa, but the club had a Christmas party in the afternoon, but I practically had no chance. Hence we had to go to the party. It was, fortunately, very merciful. Everybody brought some food or drinks, the stables where the club is nested, provided own wine (as it's also a winery), and a late lunch was followed by announcement of trial results and presents raffle (everybody was supposed to bring a small gift) — and we could go home. Still it was already five thirty by the time we arrived. A super long day — and though I swear every year that never again, and although I had a perfect excuse in my convalescence, and although I actually "did nothing" in the parade, I was tired like a dog. But I'm afraid that next time we'll go again.