Hey y’all- it’s me, Stephanie! I used to blog here, and I suppose this post means I still do. With the onset of a global pandemic, I find myself with more time to write. I also find myself looking for activities to take my mind off any number of unpleasant uncertainties. (Is my job going to come back? Does my friend have COVID-19? Will my finance professor ever return my emails?)

I began this year as I do most years: with a sense of purpose and optimism. I kicked off 2020 with a trip to Peru. The trip was with Oklahoma State’s finance department and counted as an elective for my degree. The Tulsa campus lacks many upper division finance classes, so going to Peru seemed like a good way to get three credit hours in one 10-day go. It also fit neatly with my 2020 goal of hiking once a month.

Looking out over the Pacific Ocean from the Miraflores District of Lima.

The trip was super, although it was a bit awkward to share a room with a 19 year old girl, and I definitely had more in common with the professor and teaching assistant than I did any of my finance bro classmates. We toured a variety of businesses in and around Lima before heading to the Sacred Valley to hike Incan sites, including Machu Picchu. My favorite parts of the trip were meeting the head of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru in Lima and hiking at Ollantaytambo in the southern part of the Sacred Valley.

Misty morning at Machu Picchu.

Classes resumed for the spring semester just a couple of days after I returned, and I felt disorganized and behind. I’m taking an intense course load this semester with a eye toward finishing in the fall, and it was hard to establish a routine once I got home. I did little other than go to class, do homework, and go to work.

And then the global pandemic hit! I am effectively furloughed from my job at The Horse of Course. When the last two weeks of Global Dressage Festival were canceled, I knew we were in trouble. The winter season in Florida is the store’s primary revenue source; the mobile unit’s performance there determines our budget for the rest of the year. The Oklahoma-based mobile unit typically travels to three or four shows in Oklahoma every spring; those are all canceled. With no shows on the horizon, barns on lockdown, and people uncertain about their source of income, shopping for equestrian tack and apparel has screeched to a halt. Additionally, Oklahoma’s governor has ordered all non-essential businesses to close to the public through the end of April, so there’s that.

I don’t blame people for not spending money on new saddle pads or shadbellys- I totally get it. My hope is that this will not be the demise of small tack shops, but it is difficult to imagine things returning to normal in the foreseeable future. Fortunately, Johnny is still employed (providing essential software services to heavy machinery and ambulances), so we can continue providing the luxurious lifestyle our four horses, six cats, and two dogs are accustomed to.

Having plenty of time to get the horses out on the spring grass has been nice.

So what have I been doing with all of my newfound free time? Some productive things- like baking bread and brioche hamburger buns, planting seeds for this year’s herb garden, doing homework, walking the cats, and taking Madigan to my neighbor’s for groundwork lessons. Some less productive things- replaying all of my favorite video games, reading, occasionally day drinking, eating way too much takeout in an effort to keep my favorite restaurants afloat.

I am incredibly grateful to have my horses at home. While I know they’d receive the very best care if they were still boarded, it is nice to look out of the window of my office and see them grazing, and know I can walk out to see them any time.

What are y’all up to in this crazy time? Are you still working? Still riding? Baking all the things? Eating all the snacks?