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Friday, February 23, 2018

My Life Really isn't Boring

As I looked at my list of posts, it looks like all I have been doing is reading.  Sure, I do a lot of it in the winter, but I am still taking long walks, hanging out with Kevin, riding 5 times a week, learning Calculus and dreaming of spring, which is right around the corner.

I love my life, and I am so glad that I retired.  I will have to start blogging about other things than reading!

Book Review: "Moorland Cottage" by Elizabeth Gaskell - 1850

Another fine story by Elizabeth Gaskell.  Two people fall in love, and want to get married.  That should be the end of the story.  Instead, roadblocks are thrown in their way.  Will love endure?  Will it triumph? 

I enjoyed this story, a lot.  The people were very realistic with flaws and good points, too.  I was hoping true love would prevail, and a surprise ending changed the path of the story-and happiness was found.

Book Review: "Family Happiness" by Leo Tolstoy

He is the master, and this is a masterpiece.  It is about the birth and death of love--or is it about the metamorhpasis?  No young people should read this novella, for it will disillusion them.  It is for the older folks, like me, who can nod in recognition.

More than just a typical love story, this also has the hero much older than the heroine.  She is just a teen when they meet and fall in love.  He has wisdom on his side.  He remembers his own youth and the path he had to travel to reach middle age. She is just beginning with the journey, and he lets her make the mistakes she has to make to grow up.

The story is very sad, but very true.  Not that everyone will experience such a journey.  Tolstoy's experience with love and marriage was actually quite worse.  Mine was much better.

I am so glad I had already gotten through that point when I met Kevin.  I fear that, rather than let me make the mistakes, Kevin, who is quite a bit older than me, would have joined me in reliving them.

A very fine, fine story for older people.

Book Review: "The Drop" by Dennis Lehane

Sometimes you just have to read a good, contemporary novel just for fun.  This is one of them.  I liked it--like junk food. 

A bar in Boston is used as a drop for the Russian mob.  There is robbery, death and mystery.  The main characters are losers--all of them.  I didn't like a single one of them, and didn't get sad when any of them were killed.  I did like the dog.

The story moved well and entertained me, but the character development was fairly flat--but that might just be because I have been reading Tolstoy. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review: "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Long ago, I had a Sherlock Holmes book, and couldn't make it past halfway.  I just had a hard time reading it, and didn't like it that much.

Since then, Kevin and I have watched all of the TV series "Elementary: and the PBS series "Sherlock."  We loved them.

When I saw this book for only a dollar, I thought I would give it a chance.  I had a hard time reading it, again.  I liked the stories, but I kept stumbling when I read it, and I would have to go back and reread the sentence.  I then decided to take a closer look.  On just a couple pages, I found numerous misplaced commas and missing commas!  Doyle was loose with his punctuation and a bad writer--with good stories.  Whenever my unconscious mind hit bad punctuation or run on sentences, it stumbled.  It goes to show you how important proper commas are.

After that, I didn't read as carefully, and I enjoyed the stories quite a bit.  I liked comparing them to the TV shows, and seeing what they derived from the stories. 

Don't read them carefully, and they are very entertaining stories.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review: "The Mare" b Mary Gaitskill

This is not my typical type of book, but I thought I would give it a try since it had horses in it.  It is about a troubled poor girl that has a trouble rich woman take her under her wings. 

The characters were very realistic and very troubled.  The horse scenes were mostly accurate and showed how horses can help people through difficult times.  I often wanted to yell at the characters because they were being so ridiculous, but the horses were always accurate and true.  But isn't that how horses always are?

I liked the book, even though it was out of my genre.  If it wasn't for the horses, though, I wouldn't have cared for it at all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Rambunctious Ride

A Rambunctious Ride

The other day, the driveway at the barn was a sheet of ice.  Since I haven't taught Cole to ice skate, yet, I decided to ride him in the indoor arena.  I have been avoiding it as much as I can by riding out on the loop in the back of the property or down to the river, so it was more than a week since we had been in it.

Christie was riding her Paint, and I thought that might provide me with an interesting challenge.  Except for Dante, I have barely ridden with any other horses in the arena all winter.  Cole needed some exposure to other horses.

The ride started out well, for the first 30 seconds.  Christie rode past us at a trot, and Cole leaped up in the air and tried to chase after them.  I spun him and proceeded down the wall.  That was just the beginning.  Just a minute later, Kevin did something in the barn that made a loud noise.  Cole decided it was time to run from the noise and leaped up in the air.  I spun him, again.  Do you see the pattern?

I told Christie I would stay on one side of the arena and ride him in a circle until he settled down.  I started at a walk and then added some short stretches of trotting.  He managed at least 3 more surges.  I had to yell over to Kevin to stop making so much noise.  Cole isn't a spooky horse--he was just in a spooky mood.  Poor Christie.  I bet she was happy I came out.  I was looking for a more challenging ride, and I got it.

I started to feel Cole settle down and become more focused on me instead of the other horse.  Hooray!  I was hoping to get my full ride in before Christie's other horse came out with the trainer--the one she only had a week--but no such luck.  The trainer led out the other horse.  She is a big, black Quarter Horse mare.  I thought, at first, that he was going to lounge her, but here it turned out that he wanted her to spend time with another horse in the arena.  That was exactly what I wanted to do with the other horse.  It looked like Cole was going to get a much longer lesson on being ridden with other horses in the arena.

I carefully walked and trotted about.  I didn't want Cole to disrupt things.  He was being good, I'm glad to say.

The trainer didn't know what the mare would do, since he had never had her in the arena with another horse.  I was so relieved Cole was behaving much better than before.  He walked the mare around and practiced standing.  At one point, Cole surged forward.  I sighed and spun him, again, to get him under control.  I glanced over at the mare to see her dancing around.  This time, Cole was just reacting to the other horse instead of causing the problems himself.

A little bit later, Cole was at it, again.  I got him under control quite quickly--in time to see the mare rearing way up into the air--twice.  The trainer was so happy that he decided to try this lesson with him on the ground where he was safer instead of in the saddle.

Our ride was over, and I brought Cole back to our barn.  I told the trainer I would close the door.  First, I had to get Cole to his stall.  When I got back to the door, I saw Christie running towards me.  She was trying to get to the door before her mare, who had escaped from the trainer, reached our barn.  I got the door closed before either one got to it.  The trainer later explained that the mare watched me open the door, lead Cole through and then took off for the door--pulling free from him.

It was a challenging session for both of us this time!  Maybe I will ride Dante with them, next time instead of Cole.  As long as he wasn't anywhere near them, he would be a gentleman, I'm sure.  He may even set a good example for the mare.

(If she was close to him, though, he would be terrified.)