Kicking off 2018 with a Bang!

I don’t even know where to begin!  The last year of my life has been rocketing forward for me in unbelievable ways.  Like my banner says – dare to dream Big.  One of my previous banners said “Life is about saying “I can’t believe I did that instead of I wish I had tried.”  Both are applicable and appropriate for my life.

A little over two years, after escaping an abusive marriage that was killing me, I was an emotional train wreck.  I proceeded forward on a rocky, PTSD-smattered path and slowly began pursuing some of the dreams I had considered long lost.

Meanwhile, I rebuilt my life in a new apartment that I loved, absolute in the knowledge that I would never be loved, that I wasn’t worth a damn to any one, and I would be alone for the rest of my life.

Well, that didn’t last too long!  I was free and escaped just about one year, almost to the date, when I met my boyfriend via a free dating site.  The day in 2016 when we had our first date was the day my life changed forever.  I could never have imagined the life I was beginning to build that day, and now, just over a year later,  my life is taking curve balls in all new directions.

2017 ended a little rough for us, and 2018 began a little rough.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned – ABSOLUTELY – from hard lived personal experiences — it’s that GREAT GREAT things happen after rocky moments in life.  Every challenging situation opens a door for amazing new things.

Exactly one year after we started dating, I moved in with my boyfriend.  For me, that meant leaving the apartment I was sure I would never leave…. switching barns for the horses when I was sure they would die where they were…. switching jobs… moving states… doing all the things I was sure I’d never do, all because the door was opened for me and I walked through.

It’s all been scary for the last (almost) two months, and the first two weeks of 2018 are slamming us both with exciting, albeit scary, moments of our lives that will change us forever.

The last few weeks of 2017 were rough on my truck.  I bought it only not quite 3 years ago, but it had 120,000 miles on it then.  It had a little over 182,000 and just before Christmas, it basically gave up on life.  It was leaking from every possible place it could leak and nothing was working right.

The truck had been a dream for me – a necessary step to hauling the horses myself, which also helped me as I escaped my marriage.  By the end of 2017, that dream hemorrhaged it’s last breath.  One thing I was sure of, was that I would never own a new car.  I had told my boyfriend as much many times over the last year.

When my truck died, we had a discussion about a vehicle that suited my needs best.  I wanted a nice fancy (albeit used) SUV that could haul.  He felt I should get a new (like brand new) vehicle, with a warranty, so I wouldn’t have to worry about being stranded or paying expensive repair bills which I never had the money for.

Ultimately, I realized that I could combine the two – I couldn’t own a new vehicle that could haul, and I didn’t want to buy a used bucket-of-potential-problems  I couldn’t afford even if it could haul.

I caught the flu the day after Christmas, which knocked me on my butt.  It was horrible.  I was sick for over 2 weeks.  None the less, on New Year’s Eve, he and I went to a car dealership and I financed a new car.  Brand new.  For the first time in my life, I own a brand new car.  It had 34 miles on it when we test drove it.  It’s a little 2017 Kia Rio, but it’s mine.

Thus, a hard decision had to be made – I have to sell my horse trailer (another dream I had).  Which means in turn, that my days of hauling to shows and parks with the horses are over.

Hard decisions, but they are for the best of circumstances.  All of my horses are a little older now anyway.  Chewbacca will be 19 in April and has been retired since 2015 due to lameness.  Luke and Jesse are both 21 this year, and while they both work and work well, I have some concerns about Luke.  He just doesn’t seem quite right to me, so I’m watching him carefully.  Dixie will be 23 this year, and has been pretty much retired since I can’t even remember.  Never did like driving her much anyway.  She’s not fun.

So, for me, the path ahead is changing.  I can see a time in the future that I will no longer actively drive horses at all, and I’ll sell any tack and equipment I have.

But as one door closes, others open.

One week after I bought my new car, we had an issue at home.  In the morning on Friday 1/5, my boyfriend’s car was stolen out of the garage.  It was scary and distressing knowing that someone drove up to the house, had a cohort jump out of the vehicle, run into the garage and take his car.  The timing of it made us wonder if someone was watching the house and knew our habits.

7 hours later, Milwaukee Police located the vehicle- amazingly undamaged and nothing was taken.  Crazy!

None the less, the whole situation rattled us, and my boyfriend made a decision that I support fully – we should move.  He and I both feel the current home he owns is small, in an area that clearly isn’t safe, and is not in a location we’d like to raise a family…..

WHOA… yes… I said raise a family. No, I’m not pregnant, but I hope and pray that this in our future.  I’m getting a bit up there to be new-mom age, but despite a late break in life for happiness and family planning, I do hope very much to have children with him.

So, that brings us up to two weeks into the new year.  New Year. New Car.  New life’s path… and a new house?  We shall see……

We made an offer on a beeeeaaautiful place.  We already sold his house.

We’re moving.  There are absolutely no “downs” about the house we’re moving to.  It’s new(ish), freshly updated with high end appliances and new carpet, etc… it’s in a beautiful location surrounded by parks and golf courses.  It’s close to the barn and it’s a great place to do a little family planning.

I’m still on the hunt for a job locally, but I am driving the longest commute ever to get to work.  I’m training my replacement and hoping that God has everything lined up so that exactly what’s meant to be will happen.

What a year so far!

I’ll try to get better at posting in 2018!

 

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The end of One; The Start of Another

It’s that time of year again !   In just a few hours, we will be ringing out 2017 and welcoming in 2018… (if you’re one of those high-falutin elite people that can actually stay awake until midnight).

This is definitely a time of year to reflect on the former 12 months and think about the unknown future.

For me, the amount of changes my life has offered in 2017 has been mind-blowing.  Just one year ago, I was welcoming in the New Year with the most amazing man that I had only begun dating a month before.  Now, I live with him, and have every hope for a wonderful and incredible future in 2018 and beyond.

We’ve done so much and been to so many different places already just in 2017!  It’s been an incredible year and the last two months have been full of changes!

Just over a month ago, I moved in with that incredible man, and it’s been an amazing blessing every day to share these last few weeks of my life, highs and low, with him.

There have been many highs, and well… a few issues that definitely qualify as low, and disappointing.

First and foremost, I’m very happy to say that not only is life at home for me going amazing, but the horses are also all very happy in their new home.

 

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It’s wonderful to have the horses living in a new and different situation that they enjoy, and while it’s bitterly cold right now, in the summer, Luke and Chewbacca will have more than 10 acres of belly-tall grass to enjoy and I couldn’t be happier at that.

At home, we celebrated a perfect Christmas and certainly are looking forward to ringing in a happy new year.  Of course, I ended up with a few issues that always….just always…. seem to happen on the Holidays.

On Black Friday, my vehicle broke down (for about the 50th time in just short of 3 years that I owned it).  It had a recurrent issue with oil consumption, and it was getting worse.  My vehicle that I wanted so badly to haul the horse trailer, was dying.

It got an expensive fix on Black Friday and my boyfriend and I were able to rent a truck and get my furniture moved all the same.  I currently drive 70 miles one way for work, while I search for a job locally.  The strain on the truck was taking a toll quickly.

One month later, Christmas Day, it happened again and the truck broke.  I took it back for warranty repair which was done the very next day, and the moment I pulled out of the parking lot of the shop, the issue happened again.

Yep.  It was time to get a new vehicle.  Thus, the conundrum….. of course, hauling the horses was very important to me, so I very much wanted to get a new/used vehicle that could haul the horse trailer.  However, then I end up in the same circle — buying a heap of someone else’s problems and a high maintenance vehicle that I just can’t afford.

So, the best choice seemed to be to buy a new vehicle – no repair issues, right?  Of course, the cost of a new vehicle is also something difficult to afford, and immediately ruled out vehicles that could tow.  I’ve also never in my life owned a new vehicle.  I figured I never would for sure, and told my boyfriend as much many times throughout the year whenever issues with my truck popped up.

A tough decision had to be made quickly.  I fully believe that God closes doors for reasons and great things happen when He does.
So, just yesterday my boyfriend and I went out shopping for a new car.  Brand new.

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Well, it certainly is certainly no towing vehicle, but it is new.  We drove it off the lot yesterday with 34 miles.  Yes, 34.  It’s a 2017 Kia Rio.  My life definitely changed a little today in an unexpected way, because I got a new, expensive something that I was not exactly expecting (and not totally sure I can afford), and I’m also shutting the door on hauling horses – which I have had the luxury of being able to do (more or less) for the last 10 years.  That’s a huge hard bummer.

Unfortunately I’ve also been sick with the flu… sick like death warmed over and over and over sick.  It’s been a bit rough of a week driving to work in a rental car while being sick, then spending hours and hours and hours at the dealer to buy a new car while sick.

Saturday evening I fell really sick and sometime around 3:30 am Sunday morning when I couldn’t stop coughing and everything hurt, I figured it was finally time to go to the urgent care or ER.

So my wonderful and caring boyfriend helped me out to my brand new car sitting in the driveway… and if you know me, you can already guess where this story is headed.

It wouldn’t start.

Dead as a paperweight.

No turn over, nothing.  Just a “click” like it’s saying “nope! screw you, I’m not running your diseased butt to the ER.”

So needless to say, our Sunday morning did not start off so well with having to contact Kia Roadside support not once but twice for help, which ultimately led to getting my brand new car towed back to the dealer.  Towed.  Brand new.

Sunofabeeeeeaaaaatttcccchhh…..

 

So, seeing as it’s a holiday and a Sunday, I must await Tuesday to see what I’m going to do with my shiney new car that doesn’t want to run.  I’m rather shocked about it all, because I never would have expected a brand new vehicle to have a mechanical issue right off the bat.  I mean — really?  REALLY????

 

Well, I did at least get to spend a little time painting in between car ordeals, being sick and mostly just wanting to stay curled up under many blankets.  This is my latest, and I’m really proud of it!!!

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(by the way, that yellow “frame” around the painting is my wall in my work room!  My boyfriend let me paint bright yellow on the wall!  I love it!!!!)

 

Happy New Year!!!!  May your 2018 bring you amazing and wonderful things!

 

 

 

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More Big Changes!

Wow – this was supposed to post on 12/3.. I just now realized it never posted!!!!

 

This is a post I can barely believe I’m writing.  Life truly is about saying “I can’t believe I did that!”  instead of “I wish I tried….”

For way too long I didn’t try and I can’t believe I did that.
Now, I’m living life quite differently and I can’t believe all the things that are flying forward for me, leaving me hopeful and optimistic about the future.

Ever since I met my boyfriend a year ago, my life has changed completely.

Now, as of Thanksgiving 2017, I have moved in with him.  Needless to say, that’s a big step and a big change unto itself.  Of course, this move also involved leaving the state I’d been calling home for 13 years to be with him.  It also involved moving the horses to a new barn after nearly 10 full years at their old barn.

It involved leaving behind a family that I had come to love and rely on for a decade, and of course, the move also involved a change a driver’s license and a new job.  Everything is going to be different now, and I can only hope for all great differences and positive everything in the future.

It was scary to move away from my apartment I loved, my barn that was home, uproot the horses and see them transition into a new place to call home, and I’m still working on finding a job, which means I’m currently commuting 70 miles one way to work, which is a whole set of challenges unto itself, especially with my car the way it is.

As far as the horses go, the changes for them were HUGE.  For years, Luke & Chewbacca lived in a private small drylot.  Now they’re on 14 acres of pasture with 16 other horses.  They’ve got huuuuuuuuge grass lots to run around in, and I’m hoping Chewbacca thrives.

When I bought him, he actually had a big grass field to call home, and since I’ve had him in a grass-less dry lot situation, I had always hoped I could get Luke and Chewbacca into a grass field finally in their lives.  Of course I had also hoped that field would be attached to a dream home of mine and a barn to go with it, but some dreams are best left unfulfilled, because I have no complaints whatsoever about seeing them run around in someone else’s big huge grass lots.

They met 16 new horses (well… 15 horses and a donkey), and Dixie and Jesse got their own private drylot now.  Since they can’t go out with the huge herd, especially because of Luke & Chewbacca, they’ll be alone together for the rest of their lives (I hope!).

Meeting the herd:  (They didn’t meet the full group at once, half at a time, and it went quite well)

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Of course there’s got to be rearing and squealing and kicking and establishing who’s who.  That’s to be expected.  I just worry it could get out of control.  Fortunately on day 1, nothing was horrible, so I’m hoping day 2 (today!) everyone will be pretty straightened out.

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I think these photos though, really show how Luke and Chewbacca feel about having those huge grass lots to be in!

 

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I’ve got to get some better photos of the minis in their set up, but they’ve got access to a stall at their will with water inside & out, and a private dry lot with electric fencing.  Dixie does not like the electric fencing at all.  They aren’t used to it, as their paddock for the last 10 years didn’t have any.  Luke & Chewbacca know about electric fencing and were quite smart to stay away from the fence rails on night 1.

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24174646_1794784623865640_2079844326680297917_nSo… today is day 2.

Wish us all luck!

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Big Adventures. Big Changes. BIG dream.

My life has literally turned completely around in the last few years.  I fully believe in what my blog banner says – dare to dream big.  It will happen.  It takes its time, and apparently (in my case anyway), those dreams come true BIG time in ways, or at times that you least expect them, but they do happen.

This year has been full of big adventures and big changes, and big dreams that I was sure would never come true, all suddenly unfolding right before my eyes and I can barely believe I am living my own life.

In the last year since I met my boyfriend, I swear sometimes that I’ve been transplanted into someone else’s life, or that I’m just in a dream every day and I definitely do not want to wake up.

Just one month after DragonCon 2017 came time for he and I to take a BIG road trip.  Now, mileage wise, it was not as long of a road trip as I took when I went to DragonCon 2016 (that was 2700 miles, this one was 2240 miles), but we jam-packed a week’s worth of sight seeing into about 3 days, so it felt like a lot more! hahah!

Where to begin?  This post is going to be about as big as the road trip, so get ready!

We started out our week of epicness with a lot of this:

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and a lot of these:

Country Inn Elyria

Highways, “welcome to _____” signs, and hotels.   Our first destination was to my hometown.  Now, if you’ve ever seen “The Office”, you’re going to know exactly what I am talking about and this may look familiar to you.

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Yes, I am from that Scranton.  So no, it isn’t a made up place.  Someone from The Office was surely from Scranton, because there are an awful lot of Scranton-accurate references in the show. And that sign used to actually be on a street not far from my home.  After it was used in the opening credits of The Office, it was removed and brought into the Steamtown Mall for display.

Now, I have not personally been to Scranton since 2007.  That’s right.  It’s been 10 years since I was last home, and also 10 years since I have seen some of my family that lives there.  While I got to see my dad & step mom several times in the last decade, it’s been 10 years since I’ve seen my mother, aunt, uncles, step-sisters or brother.  So it was very nice to get back home and meet back up with some of my mostly -estranged family that I am definitely (obviously) fairly separated from.

Scranton Lookout 5

Scranton Lookout 2

This is a view I took of the… well view… not far from my home both day and night.  It’s called Lookout, and it overlooks a good chunk of the Scranton Valley.
My boyfriend took a super cool panorama, which I love.

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If there is one thing that Scranton has that most places in the Midwest definitely do not, it’s mountains and beautiful views.   Living in the Midwest most definitely dulls your senses as to how beautiful this world actually is.  While we do have lovely expanses of farmlands, it’s mostly very flat flat flat here.  Scranton, on the other hand, is in a valley between two mountains.  The area is referred to as “the endless mountains”, and that they most definitely seem to be.

I took my boyfriend on a grand tour of some of Scranton’s finest hills, and he was quite sure the car’s transmission was going to burn up before we got to the top of some of them.  He asked how the heck we managed in the winter, and the truth was, since I grew up there, I just never knew anything different.  It just was.  We never had trouble getting up the sides of the mountains or dealing with snow.  When I moved to Georgia and it snowed there (once) all of 1/2″, I couldn’t believe disaster it was!

It was hard for me to realize that there were places in the world where people didn’t deal with snow and hills.

Now… speaking of driving under crazy or difficult conditions….  Have you ever heard of a little place called “The Big Apple”?

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Growing up in Scranton, New York City was just a 2 hour drive away, so I actually have been there quite a bit.  I can tell you from personal experience – there is absolutely NO experience quite like trying to drive a car down Broadway street, Times Square.  Nope.  In fact – just trying to drive anywhere in Midtown Manhattan is insane.

Don’t like your commute to your job?  Be grateful you don’t live where it takes you an hour to drive 10 blocks.  Because it did.  That’s what it took us to navigate just 10 blocks on a Friday morning.  Yeeeaaa…..

Times Square 9

Well, I do love Manhattan.  I really do.  I think it’s full of adventures and a very fun place to visit.  Would I want to live there (or anywhere within 2 hours of it?) No.  Not a chance.  Not fun.  But I love Manhattan a whooooole lot more than I enjoy Chicago, that’s for sure.
Now, my boyfriend on the other hand did not care much for Manhattan at all.  The driving.  The crowds.  The bustling busy craziness.  I don’t think it was quite his cup of tea.

He described it as being like walking through a busy con, just all the time.  Ha !  Truth!  Shoulder-to-shoulder walking down a sidewalk, lost in huge crowds.  Yep.  Manhattan is definitely crazy.

Times Square 2

However, during our Manhattan fun and games, we were in town for one special event:

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We’re both geeks.  And this was too geeky for us to pass up!  In fact, we had been planning this geek-venture for months, and my boyfriend got a photo taken with Mark Hammill!!!!  We had a full-on Star Wars geek fest, and loved every second of it during our jam-packed day of sight seeing.
We attended the comic con with my dad and step-mom, which was super great, too.  This kind “of thing” isn’t her cup of tea, but it was nice to get in an extra day with them and do some sightseeing.

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Our trip to NYC also included a Ghostbusters inspired tour of town to see some filming locations from the movie, and a couple other places, too.

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We visited the World Trade Center Memorial, and saw Freedom Tower.  Two towers were replaced with 1, which stands 1,776 feet tall ground to antenna tip, and the memorial itself is an absolutely gorgeous neverending waterfall with every name etched into it.

Freedom Tower

Our tour of Manhattan also took us to Central Park, Tavern on the Green, the apartment building used as a setting for most of Ghostbusters, the actual Ghostbusters firehouse, which is not very far from the World Trade Center, many subway rides in between everything, and also to the New York Public Library & Columbus Circle, as well as Madison Square Garden, up and down Broadway street a few times, and oh yea… that other big tall building in New York…

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Apartment 1 Library 13

It was definitely one heck of a couple days.  We spent one day and another half day running around the city, and it was hot and when it’s hot in NYC, subways are even hotter.

Once we recovered from nearly heat -exhaustion, we skipped out of the Big Apple and headed down the road to our next destination:

Atlantic City 4

We were definitely covering all the bases here!  From flat corn fields, to mountain vistas, to the concrete jungle, to the ocean.  We pretty much covered all the variety of sights there are to cover in America…in about 2 days.  LOL!

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My boyfriend and I had an idea for eating a fancy 3 Michelen Star dinner in Manhattan while we were there.  We would get all dressed up for a super fancy evening and enjoy a meal that cost more than our grocery bill for 2 weeks.  Well, while we looked at a variety of restaurants in NYC, we actually found most of the selections pretty gross.
Apparently, if you can afford a $200 meal, it also means you enjoy eating liver pate and sushi.  Gross and gross.  Ick.

So, we changed our plans and opted for eating some actual normal food (ha!) and instead found a Gordon Ramsay restaurant at Caesar’s Atlantic City.  We got dressed up to the 9’s… no make that the 10’s.  We looked sharp.  I bought a beautiful backless red glittery dress, and he bought a stunning white suit.    We looked smashing.

I know, I know… fancy dinner, super dressy formal wear, romantic setting, a fun evening in a casino on the beach with my boyfriend that I love and treasure and has been the greatest man I’ve ever known.
Did the evening go down that road that you’re thinking it probably seemed ripe to go down?

No.

Sadly it did not, but I had suspected anyway that this evening was not going to involve any rings … although I sure had hoped he might still surprise me anyway.  But there are great things to come in our future and I can only hope that day is coming!
But our fancy dinner evening did include entirely too much food! I ordered lamb chops, he ordered Ramsay’s Beef Wellington.  We also ordered a smattering of sides and appetizers which were all amazing, and we ended up having left overs.  It might have cost more than our 2 week grocery bill, but it was mighty fine eating.

I admit, though, I found the beef wellington to be just gross.  ick.

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Now, while my boyfriend might not have enjoyed Manhattan very much, I can tell you he absolutely loved the Ocean.  We put our feet in the water and spent as much time as we could enjoying the sound of the waves and the beauty of the beach.

Next year, we have a trip planned to Nassau, Bahamas.  I cannot wait to spend a few days in the sand and sun with him, and I hope the weather will be as amazing as we got during this trip!

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After our visit to the beach, we headed onto the start of our journey home, but we still had just one more stop to make!

As if the food in Atlantic City wasn’t enough for us, we drove back home via Philadelphia and had a National Treasure style tour or Philadelphia.  We went to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and stopped for a bite to eat- a real Philly Cheesesteak in real Philadelphia.

The Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philly, not far from the Liberty Bell, was also featured briefly in National Treasure.  It was great to swing in there and experience the wonder of aisle after aisle of food.

Philadelphia 7   Philadelphia 11

Philadelphia 19

After that, we were finally on our way back home.  Really, we spent 3 days running around Manhattan, Atlantic City, and Philadelphia.  It was a jam-packed itinerary, but it worked out really well, and despite some hang ups and delays, we still managed to do everything we had intended to do and see everything we meant to so.

While I’m sure a trip to NYC won’t be high up on my boyfriend’s list of things to do again, I know we are both over-anxious to get our passports and go to the Bahamas!  That trip is more than a year away, and so many things can and will be happening between now and then, that while it might seem like a long time off, it’s probably going to feel like it flew by.

In a year, I’ll be posting something to the effect of “holy crap, has it been a year already?”

I know the horses were overjoyed to see us return.
Ok maybe not.  LOL!

 

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Jesse, I’d like to add (the black mini) has been officially added to our family a few weeks ago.  After 6 years of training, driving, and showing him, he is officially mine.   That change was made because there are plenty of big changes happening before the year is out.

While no rings were involved in the making of this vacation, I am going to be moving in with my boyfriend at the end of November.  For me – this brings forth a whole set of exciting (yet also a little scary) changes of circumstances, and another out-of-state move!

I really never thought I would be moving again.  I figured the apartment I moved into 2 years ago was going to be “it” for a long, long time.  At least a solid 10 years.  I never would have expected that after just 2 years, my life would have changed in the way it has.  But oh boy is it going to be amazing!

And of course, for the horses, that also means a move.  The four of them will be heading north, as we all relocate.  Luke, Chewbacca, Dixie, and Jesse are going to have a change of scenery, and I just hope they adjust well to their new digs and new friends.

Dixie and Jesse are doing to go from a larger group and big paddock to a private paddock and no group.  LOL!  Meanwhile, Luke and Chewbacca are doing the opposite- going from a private small paddock to a massive large field of grass with a large herd.  The new farm sits on about 16 acres, and I think about 10 of those acres is Chewie & Luke’s new field.  If they ever decide they don’t want to run up out of the long fields of grass to the gate to see me, I’m probably never going to catch them again.  Oh this will be fun. LOL!

Seriously, I hope they adapt well to their new life and new barn and herdmates.  Things are going to be interesting soon!  I can’t wait to see how they react to the size of these huge grass fields!

And as for me – I am just moving blissfully forward hoping for many great new things, and also just trying to ride the ride one day at a time.

 

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DragonCon 2017 and a Fun Show

I know I don’t keep posting terribly often.  Certainly not for lack of things happening!  Quite the opposite!  I’m just so busy that I don’t always remember to get on here and post a new update of life in 2017.

I’ve got to say – life in 2017 is pretty damned good.  I am in a place that is so so so so so far away from  where I was at this time last year, although of course one thing 2017 and 2017 both share in common is my beloved DragonCon.

I was so thrilled to get back to Atlanta again this year – and I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to get there two years back to back.  I wore all 3 costumes almost every day, and they were all a hit.  I’m still coming up with pictures and some video of me from all over the internet.

They call DragonCon the “Superbowl of Cosplay”, and it really is in every single way.  What an amazing event, and an incredible privilege to be there.

 

AoDSamara

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I’m quite proud of all of my cosplays, and I am still not quite done yet for this year.  I’ve been building what I think might be my very best costume yet for my incredible boyfriend, and we are both going to suit up in just over two weeks in Manhattan at our last big hurrah of the year.   (He could not attend DragonCon with me)

We will be attending New York Comic Con on Thursday October 5.  It’s the “slowest” day of the con (which for being that it’s in Manhatten will likely mean very little….) but none the less, it’s the only day we’re able to attend, so we’re doing it!
I’m bringing my Predator and my boyfriend will have his very first costume with him (it’s a secret until it’s revealed!) – his first costume and first costuming experience — at one of the 4 largest conventions in the U.S.  Not a bad way to start, I’d say.

Oh, and did I mention that on our 2000+ mile roundabout the country, we will also be visiting my good ole’ home town of Scranton, PA, going to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building and the Ground Zero Memorial, heading to Atlantic City for an amazing dinner at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant, and visiting Philadelphia historical sites like the Liberty Bell and amazing eats at the Reading Terminal Market.

Whew, that’s going to be a LOT of driving – but I love it.  I hope my boyfriend survives the trip, though.  hahahahah!

But speaking of road trips, my jaunt down to Atlanta and back included some side adventures of their own. I  visited with friends who live along the way and on the way home, I stopped by the little rack track you might recall ever hearing about once or twice….

 

Churchill

Talk about a massive race track.  I’ve never seen it before so I just had to stop by.  I was in the middle of what would turn out to be a 15 hour drive back home in a single day, so I did not stay long!  I was exhausted when I finally got home around 10:30 at night, but it was a good trip!

My 176,00+ mile, leaky/burning oil car made it without issue, and only burned through 3 quarts of oil.  This is good.

An oil change (if there’s any oil left….) is in order before the next road trip. LOL!  Since I love road trips so much, maybe at some point I will invest in a vehicle that a) doesn’t leak/burn oil and b) gets better gas mileage.  How about that notion?
Aaaaaannnnyway….  just a couple weeks after DragonCon was yet another fun event I look forward to every year.  It’s an annual play day/funs how event for riders and drivers that includes nothing but fun classes.  It’s a super laid-back event with a great group of people of all ages who attend.  It’s also my one time a year I get to play around in a competitive setting on barrels & poles.

Last year I took Luke, which meant that this year was Jesse’s turn to go.

Jesse Show 09-16-2017Jesse Show 09-16-2017bJesse Show 09-16-2017c

We did Flag Race, Barrels, Poles, a driving obstacle course which we messed up just enough to put us out of the ribbons, and also a keyhole race which we completely bombed.  It was quite comical.  Jesse just couldn’t understand why I wanted him to spin around, but there was no barrel to spin on.  He just flat out said no.  I’m not pivoting.  He was quite sure I was wrong, because obviously we need barrels to spin around.

It was a hoot and a great time, and we ended up 3rd out of 15 in flag race and 4th out of 15 in barrels – not bad considering the people who placed in the top were mostly half our ages (horse and driver).  I don’t know how we did not place in poles, because he went quite quick.  Or maybe we did place and I just missed the announcement.  Oh well.  At any rate, it was a blast.

And, if you’re wondering who took those wonderful photos – it was my amazing boyfriend of course!  He endured 7 hours in the sun being mostly bored to tears, with a smile on his lovely face and such grace and charm that I can’t even wrap my head around how amazing he is!

It was a wonderful time!   Show 09-16-2017

I can. NOT. get over this man.  And Jesse loves him too.  They actually got along very well and Jesse’s behavior towards him made me think Jesse really really loves him.  We just sat on the ground, all 3 of us, hanging out at the horse trailer.  I did not take a selfie of all of us, but I should have.

Well – there are MANY more BIG BIG BIG things coming up in the next several weeks, so there will be additional posts this year.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

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7 year later…

It is perhaps, a little hard to believe that 7 years ago today, I brought home this amazing animal!

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(Meeting his new best buddy for the first time)chewieandlukesmall

7 amazing years – this horse has been the most pleasant and patient soul I’ve ever known.  He put up with me “training him” to jump, perform in Dressage, then finally drive (and perform in Dressage again! LOL!).  Trails, roads, whatever…he was just always awesome.

Living a well deserved retirement now.  He’s 18 years old already, hard to believe.  The photos below are from a photo shoot last week that my boyfriend did for me.  I wanted photos of the horses for my birthday.  Yes, it was my birthday.

7 years ago, Chewbacca was a birthday gift to myself.  Happy birthday me, and happy anniversary, Chewie!Chewbacca 07-29-2017 cChewbacca 07-29-2017 fGroup 07-29-2017 eGroup Photo 07-29-2017

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July Horse Show

Well, it is July already!  Who can believe it?!  We are a solid 6 months into the year and what a year it’s been.

Any and every expectation or goal I’ve had for this year has been completely achieved and/or blown away in the best ways possible.  There is no possible way I could have ever imagined or envisioned myself living the life I’m currently living!  A year ago, it didn’t seem possible.  2 years ago, it definitely didn’t seem possible, and every year before that, I didn’t even bother dreaming up a life like this, because there was no point.

All I can say, is whatever struggles you’re going through – don’t give up hope, don’t stop praying, and don’t stop thanking God for what you do have now.

So, every mid-year, I like to reflect back on the list of goals I set for myself for the year and see how I’ve done.  Let’s see…. 6 months ago my list was something like this:

*Be happy (I think this is reasonable, right?)
– I’d say it’s pretty safe to say this has been achieved!

*Live every day to the fullest (OK, I did this in 2016, so I am well practiced, right?)
–  Definitely doing this, and will continue to do so!
*Lose 30 more pounds (hey, I lost almost 70 in 2016…)
–  Eh…. OK, we’ll we can’t hit every goal, can we?

*Stay Healthy  (this is a given, right?  5 years cancer free down and done.  I’m ready for 5 more…)
–     Done!  And keeping done!

*Enjoy every minute I possibly can with the most amazing new man that has blesses my life
–  Yes!!!  Still doing and always will!

*Photograph Eagles (that’s the bird, not the football team…and it involves a long trip to find them)
–  Done, several times.

*Photograph at the Everglades ( yep… this.  This is happening in 2017).
–   Well, this one got put off to 2018, but that’s fine.  The trip is booked- we are going to the BAHAMAS!!!! And since the port is in Miami, which isn’t far from the E-glades, we’re going to make it a combined trip and do it all then.  So, it didn’t happen in 2017, but it will be worth the wait.

*Complete my newest costume (already started in Sept 2016 – ETA to finish, end of Jan 2017)
–  DONE!  That was the angel of death, which I debuted at C2E2.  And it will appear again at Dragon*Con in a few more weeks.

*Put together 1-2 more costumes for 2017 for myself
– eh… this is on the back burner.  That’s OK.  I’ve got more than enough costumes right now.

*Build 1-2 costumes for my boyfriend
–  already beginning!  Can’t wait to see this exciting costume for my BF completed!!

*Suit up at C2E2 2017
–  Heck yea!!! Done and did!!!

*Suit up Wizard World Chicago 2017
– Still to come, this is in August.

*Attend Dragon*Con 2017  (already on the docket! Ticket bought, hotel room paid!)
–  Still to come, this is in September.  But it’s all booked/paid, so can’t wait!

*Attend New York Comic Con 2017 (hmmm… maybe!??!)
–  This is happening, too!  Hotels booked, tickets bought.  My BF and I are taking a massive 1800 mile adventure through 5 states as we head to Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey before we make our way back home to the Midwest.

*Go to Seattle with my most wonderful man!
– well, unfortunately, 2 major trips in 2017 puts this one on the back burner as well.  Still – I’d say with basically 90% of my goals for this year already done…  it’s been an amazing year, and it’s only half over!

There are big– HUGE — things yet to come and I can’t wait for each and every one.

In the mean time, there was one thing I did NOT have on my goal list, that I still ended up doing as well, which just made for an even more awesome year (or weekend as it was).

I took my incredible BF and my lovely Luke to a horse show.  It was my BF’s first horse show, of course, and while I think he was fairly bored, he definitely was wonderful, kind, charming, and stepped right into the role of being horse-show-boyfriend…  He took photos and held ribbons, and I am happy to say that Luke pulled in THE ribbons!

My showing days are getting very close to being behind me.  It’s possible that 2017 may be the last year I show at all.  If not, 2018 more than likely will be.  One major life’s goal I had for the last 20 years or more, was to be a “real” horse shower.  I wanted to compete, (of course I wanted to win) and the nature of that showing changed with my ever-changing interests.

First, I wanted to breed racehorses (yep, really.  Just breed them, though, not train them).
Then I wanted to be a competitor in Grand Prix level jumping.  That *one time* I jumped a 4′ fence I guess really went to my head.
Then, I wanted to be a Grand Prix Dressage rider when I figured out I couldn’t jump worth a damn.
Turned out I didn’t have the elitest level of income necessary to be a half-decent Dressage competitor, either, so my goals eventually changed to wanting to run a boarding/training barn.
I guess I dreamed of being a horse -flipper.   I wanted to teach lessons and train and resell.  For a while, I was actually teaching lessons, and I tried the whole training and reselling… but ended up selling for half what I paid because I couldn’t train.
So, that pretty much covers the first 15 years or so of riding.
Then, about a decade ago, I bought Luke, and my driving dreams quickly developed from there.
Turned out, I LOVED  driving.  Loved it!  And I decided I wanted to get a hackney pair (2), and then, heck, why not get a team of hackneys (4).  Plus a carriage that costs about $10,000, and a trailer with truck to pull them all in so I could work my up from open shows right into the world level FEI driving.  Hey, a girl can dream, right?  Remember that whole issue I had about not having an elitest level income?  Somehow, I seem to forget that.
That’s OK, because I was going to buy cheap hackneys and train them up through the levels.
Well, at least that part did kind of happen.

Luke was definitely cheap.  I paid $600 for him.  He was thin and unmuscled and started a strangles outbreak in the barn.  And he has basically won every. single. thing I’ve ever put him into.  Now, of course, for years and years, it wasn’t me showing him.  But I trained him, and Luke became a horse that someone else could show and win with without having to put in any effort.

Eventually, about 4 years ago, I got to show him for the first time, and I chose to do a CDE with him.  It was a blast, and finally the days came when Luke was mine to show.

Ironically, now though, as I said, our showing days are starting to wind down, and I’m OK with that.  Luke has 2 events on the calendar- one show and one fun event.  And he’s already done with one.  Jesse has 1 event on the 2017 calendar, and that’s in September.

Luke and Jesse are getting up there in years.  In fact, I realized not too long ago that they’re practically the same age.  Luke is 20, and Jesse is around 19.   Dixie is 22 and Chewbacca is 18, so everyone is senior and/or retired.  My interests are changing – while I love my current horses and always will, my dreams no longer include this high level showing I dreamed up.  My dreams for the future include big life changes with my boyfriend and just keeping my little zoo crew happy and healthy for as long as I can.

Luke2 Luke07-01-2017

Still, at 20 years old, with 10 years of history with me driving and showing, and probably around 40 horse shows in total, Luke still has it.  He goes into the ring a true showman and commands attention.  He rounds up, prances and struts, and is 110% spot on with every command.  He has never been a “cheater” (listening to the loud speaker instead of his driver), he just waits for whatever cue I give him and he does it immediately.  He finally stands in the line-up (that only took 9 years…), and he still strides around and wins again everyone.

This weekend’s show was no different.  First class in, first blue ribbon.  Second class in, he won overall reserve champion.  I’ve never won a neck-sash ribbon ever, and I’ve been showing horses since 1999 and this is only my 2nd or 3rd reserve champion ribbon ever.  Next class was a stakes class, no ribbon, but Luke came in 1st and won the top prize, $20 cash.  By the time the next class got around, Luke was getting tired.  He stepped on a rock and got a little sore and ended up 4th.  The day was done and  I couldn’t be happier, though.

Luke3 Luke4

He sure did look good sporting his neck ribbon!  I forgot to take a photo of him wearing it at the show before I unhitched him.  Oh well.  It was a great day!

On the creative note, I did mention I’ve been working on a costume for my BF, so pictures of that will come eventually.  It’s in the very preliminary stages right now, the head piece for it is constructed and I’m adding detail, but I have the whole rest of the body to do.  I’m hoping to have it done by October for New York Comic Con.  We’ll see.

In the mean time, I’ll share the latest painting I made, a black crowned night heron.

heron

And last but not least, I was also commissioned by someone to make a display piece for their Ninja Turtles.  My BF posted photos of the display I made for his, and someone liked what he saw and asked for on.  This is the completed brick wall.  It’s made out of insulation foam!  So much fun to make, and I enjoyed painting this very much!! wall1

Enjoy your 4th of July!!

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