November 2, 2008

Rainy Saturday. Make that very rainy.

Make that very very rainy.  Hellhounds are not amused.

            So, last night, during the quarter peal*, on the three, which is a perfectly nice easy cooperative bell but it does weigh a bit, especially when you’re frantically overringing (which I usually am anyway and then octuple that or so for fear of quarters) and especially after your conductor has yelled at you that you need to get your backstrokes in–which is the latest variation on a backstroke theme that is going to be engraved on my tombstone**–especially on the up dodge so after that I was REALLY overringing every time I came to the up dodge which meant that I was producing about 1,000,000 pounds of bell every pull.  And about half an hour in–a quarter usually takes forty, forty-five minutes–my shoulder started going twinge.  Twinge.  Um.  Twinge.  This is the original ringing-down-in-peal shoulder, speaking of producing 1,000,000 pounds of swing by pulling too hard, not the Exciting Hellhound Thing shoulder.  And I ignored it, which is the first line of defense against stupid injury, as many of you other klutzim out there will know.  If I Ignore It It Isn’t Happening/It Didn’t Happen/It Doesn’t Hurt/I’m Fine/That’s Not Blood There’s Something Wrong with Your Eyes/ and Don’t Mention It On The Blog Because That Counts As Paying Attention.  For any clever, careful, adept, talented, thoughtful, responsible people out there who are going, WTF?, hey, sometimes it works.  You use what you’ve got available.***

            But I did come home last night thinking warily about riding Connie this morning, and about the bit she likes as opposed to the bit she tolerates.   But when I got to the yard this morning I was almost late and it was already starting to rain, which meant I had to get in and out of the indoor school before Jenny’s lesson† because there was no way the much bigger outdoor ring was an option.   Even the indoor school is big enough for two horses, for pity’s sake, although I speak from the smug consciousness of riding a horse that steers, but an awful lot of Jenny’s pupils are paralytically polite and feel that if you got there first they don’t deserve to live, let alone occupy riding ring space.††  Thus I picked up tack and cleaning gear and bolted for Connie’s stall without thinking about which bridle.  I’d snatched the one she likes, of course.

            Jenny told me afterward that Connie hadn’t been ridden in a couple of days††† which may explain why she came out ready to do something.  There was no need for stirring her up to get her moving today.  She was, however, hanging on that right rein like an overrung bell–like a horse who is normally stiff to the right and hasn’t been ridden in a couple of days.  So I went into Shoulder Ignoring Mode again and worked on getting her up and . . . I don’t know exactly what either of us did, except that Connie and I are learning to deal with each other, and ‘holding her up’ is a knack as well as brute strength, and for the first ten minutes or so my shoulder was saying Twinge.  I mean it, stupid.   And then it stopped.   And Connie was well under me with her shoulders moving freely and her butt doing the work, and she wasn’t what you’d want to call light in the hand, but she was no longer an anvil falling downhill.  Hey, how did that happen?  If we’d been having a lesson, Jenny could have made us do it better, but the point is we were doing it at all.

            And as I wrote to Merrilee a little later that morning,‡ I rang a quarter peal last night and had a lovely ride on Connie this morning, and I’m so swollen with self-satisfaction that I’d better get to work fast before I explode.  Writing will fetch me up against my limitations fast enough. . . .  

 * * *

 * I think I’ve told you I subscribe to The Ringing World, AKA Bell Geek Weekly^.  One of the articles in this week’s issue is entitled ‘It’s music, but not as we know it, Jim’, which only goes to prove that bell ringers may be geeks but they don’t keep up on their STAR TREK reruns, and it’s about someone who was invited to talk about bell ringing to a professional group of serious musicians:  ‘To put the audience in a “music but not as we know it” frame of mind, I began, “Can you imagine:  an instrument whose moving parts weigh a ton or so, an instrument with a delay of over a second between your action and its sound, playing an ensemble of such instruments to a precision of a few hundredths of a second, a form of music constrained to play every note before repeating any of them, composing a piece to last several hours in which no bar must be the same as any other, performing such a piece without any music?  If you can, then you can begin to imagine change ringing on tower bells.”‘

            Yes.  It’s hard, okay?  It’s brilliant, but it’s hard.  It’s not only that I’m a klutz with jello for brains. 

^ Okay, an example of extreme bell geekery:  another story in this week’s issue is about a long weekend–Friday to Monday–a band of Brits spent on the east coast of America.  In five days these bozos–all guys, just by the way–drove nine hundred miles and rang six peals.  Peals are three and a half or so hours of standing up pulling on a bell rope, yes?  Not to mention keeping your mind on your business.  And I think perhaps I’ve told you 1,000,000,000 times or so how hard the brain work of ringing is??  And with jet lag-? 

**She was slow at backstroke

*** Which is probably how you got in this fix in the first place.  Klutzim should not ride horses, ring bells, walk hellhounds, etc.^  But I don’t want to spend all my life in a small padded room.^^ 

^ The only reason I don’t shut the piano lid on my hands is because the music stand folds down over it.  I am waiting to find out how to have a sudden incomprehensible spasm which will lift the music stand off its hooks, fling it at myself in a flurry of sheet music and manuscript pages, and drop the piano lid, all in one never-to-be-forgotten manoeuvre.  

^^ I admit there are days when this sounds rather restful

†Which is another of these Rather Tall Girl on Rather Small Pony situations.  There are several of them at Jenny’s yard. 

†† This one in fact had been hanging around outside in the rain rather than disturb us at our haute ecole.  I’d thought I heard someone fumbling at the door, so I organized us perhaps a tiny bit too quickly for our attempt at half pass–we’d mostly been doing rather well so I needed the discouragement of fouling something up before we called it a day–and as is, I fear, our wont, we started going sideways a trifle too dramatically–this is classic Connie:  you ask for something and you get it, so you’d better want it–and didn’t quite run into the jump standards halfway down the long side but we might have.  Which drove the thought of paralytically polite wet people out of my mind, or I’d’ve told them–Girl, Pony, and Mum–to come in

††† So, what was Other Rider doing this week?  Climbing Everest?  Running for president?  

‡ We’ve been having a little light banter about a review of CHALICE that has it listed as for ‘grades 7 to 10′.   Yo!  You out there!  If you’re over 16, put that book down!


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