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Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Review: "The Custom of the Country" by Edith Wharton - 1913

Great book, but Wharton's books always are.  Undine is quite a character.  She has almost no redeeming features, but she is still somewhat likeable.  She is shallow and greedy and just wants to move up the social ladder and spend money.  She is a terrible mother and wife, yet she could still find new husbands.  I really felt sorry for the husbands--and Undine's parents. 

Totally entertaining--even the second time I read it.

Book Review: "I, The Jury," "My Gun is Quick," "Vengeance is Mine" by Mickey Spillane

I put all of these on the same review because not only did they come in one volume, but the review is the same for all of them.

These Mike Hammer stories were consistently entertaining.  The plots were good with twists and turns--and very original.  He didn't follow a formula.  Hammer was a well drawn character, but the rest of his characters were rather flat.  I didn't care for his women at all.  The stories are very masculine, too. 

He didn't use his commas consistently, too.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Reunited Trio of Horsewomen

The Reunited Trio of Horsewomen

Finally, Ellen, Shari and I were able to go on a trail ride together.  Due to Shari's work schedule last year, we had hardly any rides together.  The previous year, we had a lot of them, and we had a lot of fun.  This year, Shari's work schedule is more favorable, and finally, finally we were all able to ride together.

Ellen was a little nervous about it.  She has only been trail riding a short time this year, and Bella is often a handful.  The last few rides I had with her, though, have been wonderful.  I was hopeful that the ride would go smoothly.

Shari keeps her horse down the street from us.  We met at the appointed time, and off we went.  The trip down the hill and across the river were typical.  Once we got across, Shari took the lead, followed by Ellen on Dante and then me.  We began trotting right away.  Dante, usually the slowest horse in the bunch, was excited and kept up with Bella.  That made my ride easy.  We were traveling at a speed that is very easy for Cole--neither too fast or too slow.

We didn't stop until we got to the section where the trail was washed out.  Dante walked fast enough to keep up with Bella, too.  Once we got to a good section of trail, it was time to trot.  There, I saw the most amazing thing.  Dante passed up Bella and took the lead.  They only went a short way, but Bella didn't seem to mind that Dante was in the lead.  Typically, Bella will not tolerate another horse leading and will try her hardest to barrel past.

The next section of trail is one that we often canter our horses.  They all like to go faster there, regardless of the gait.  We decided to see what happened if we kept Dante in lead and trotted.  We knew Dante would enjoy leading, but we didn't know what Bella would do.  Cole is happy to take up the rear, as long as everyone goes fast enough.

Honestly, I couldn't believe my eyes.  We trotted at a great speed, and Bella stayed in place.  She wanted to pass Dante, but Shari was able to convince her that she shouldn't--and she didn't.  We went a long way, too.  It was amazing and wonderful.

Was this really our first ride all together?

We crossed the river, and on that section of trail Ellen felt better walking.  It was only her second time up there this year.  We walked to the end, turned around and walked back.  Once we recrossed the river, we wanted to put Bella in the lead.  She started to act like Starry does when he is in that spot and refused to go forward  She even took a step backwards.  It didn't take much to get her to change her mind.  She took the lead.  We showed Ellen where the tree fell--and then we started trotting, again.  Bella first, followed by Dante and then Cole,

It went great--until we were nearly at the end of the section.  There is a sandy section of trail where our guys seem to want to accelerate.  Accelerate Dante did--he took off at a gallop.  Dante had a Cole Burst.  Ellen doubted that he would attempt passing Bella, and she was right.  She was easily able to stop him before he reached her.  Ellen wasn't intimidated by the unusual behavior--she laughed.

The whole ride was terrific.  Ellen was worried in the beginning, but she ended up having as much fun as we did.  She knows that Dante will slow down to his usual self in a few weeks--and she just enjoyed him being a little bit speedier.

It was a great ride, and I am sure it is the first of many.

Cat Sitting Breakthrough

My house guests are back!  Prince and Pumpkin are here for a week.  They visited last fall when Pumpkin was just a baby.  He is nearly grown now, and he turned into a fine, little cat.  Prince is a fine, big cat.

They have their own room.  I open it up and let them have access to a hall, bathroom and another bedroom--but only under supervision.  I have it blocked off from the rest of the house with the screen from the fireplace.  This way, they can explore and Thunder can watch them.

Last time they were over, Maggie was a big problem.  Every time she would see them, she would bark aggressively and try to lunge at them.  I had to have her locked up in her bedroom or outside for them to have free time.

This morning, I went in to check on them--and set up the screen, just in case.  I was greeting them; when Prince snuck out into the hall.  Before I could herd him back into the room, he was sniffing noses with Maggie through the screen.  Maggie got much praise!  I couldn't believe she was so good.

I went and got some treats so I could click her for her good behavior.  This is how I introduced her to Thunder all those years ago.  I asked her to set and watch the cats, and I clicked and treated her for it. 

It was going wonderfully.  That is, until Prince walked up to her and hissed at her through the screen.  Maggie defensively started to bark and carry on.  I yelled at her, and she stopped.  Prince dashed into the bedroom.  Pumpkin was in the bathroom and was afraid to come out.  I had to carry him back into the bedroom.  I couldn't get mad at Maggie.  Prince tempted her too much.

We worked on the lesson later in the day.  Maggie was doing reality well, and then she got into puppy play position and started making noises.  I yelled at her for that, too.  Even though it wasn't that aggressive, I don't think I want her trying to play with them through the screen.

I was worried about them trying to get over the screen.  Pumpkin did once, last time.  Now that they know what is on the other side, they are much more careful. 

Maggie and Thunder just watch.  It is giving them a lot of entertainment!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Book Review: "Downsize This" by Michael Moore

I like Michael Moore's satire--and there is a lot of truth in what he says.

This book is from 1996.  The sad part is that so much of what he talks about--hasn't changed at all.  Income inequality, corporate bad behavior and the government only seem to have gotten worse.  His chapter on Pat Buchanan was scary--he sounded so much like Trump.  The book showed us that if we didn't change things, we were on the path to someone like Trump.  So we didn't change things--and here we are.  The government ignored its people and the people got mad and fell for Trump.  Will we ever learn?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

More Daffs

Another Blogless Ride?

Another Blogless Ride?

The other evening, I went out on a ride with Shari on Bella.  The previous ride we did together, Cole was in an odd mood and got into all kinds of mischief.  Bella started out well, but it didn't take long before she seemed to pick up on Cole's mood.  It was a very disappointing ride.  Between that ride and this ride, I rode Cole 5 more times, and he was very good on each ride.  I was very pleased, but that didn't give me anything to write about. 

The ride with Bella started out good, and it stayed that way.  We got down the hill, over the river and started trotting on the other side.  On our previous ride together, Cole kept rushing up behind Bella and didn't want to stop.  On this ride, he just matched his speed with hers. 

We got to do a lot of trotting--just what we like.  I don't think Bella spooked at all, and the motorcycles weren't bothering Cole. 

We crossed the river at the next crossing and continued on the other side.  We passed a couple of hikers.  The horses were being so good that we were even able to chat about other things as we rode along.  On the last ride, they were so wound up on this side of the river, that we gave up and turned around early.  They wouldn't even walk quietly, let alone trot.  This time, we just trotted along; happy as can be. 

At the end of this section of the trail, we decided to turn for home.  We walked quietly back to the river, crossed and decided to trot on the way home on the next section.  Why not?  They had been behaving so well.

All was going so well, I really was wondering what I would write about.  Bella was being so good.  Dante's rides were going so smoothly that I had little to write about and even Starry was willing to go ahead of Dante on our rides.  I love a good, boring ride, but what do I write about if all the rides are boring?

Bella was in the lead, as always.  I don't think we got 5 steps into our trot when I heard a loud noise to the right of us.  I automatically shortened my left rein to restrict Cole's movement.  Cole surged, but I had in in control.  I didn't want him charging up behind Bella.  A half second later, I heard another noise--and I knew--a tree was going to fall.

Since I had Cole bent, already, I spun him the opposite direction.  I could see Bella high tailing it away.  When I got Cole so he was facing the opposite direction--away from home--he decided to keep going.  I could see the hikers just standing there, watching.  Once we made it around the spin, I didn't see Bella at all.  I couldn't stop to look because the tree was still cracking and Cole wanted to join Bella; wherever she might be.  I kept spinning.  I could see the hikers again.  The tree was still cracking as we still spun.  I still couldn't see Bella as I heard the tree fall to the ground.  One more half spin, and all was silent.  Cole stopped.  We ended up looking at the hikers. 

I laughed; in relief, and said to the hikers, "You sure did see a show!"  They laughed and agreed.  I turned Cole around, and was thrilled to see Bella off a short ways in the distance with Shari still on her back.

Shari said that Bella took off running.  When Shari got her wits back after the initial surprise, she was able to stop her with a one rein stop.  All was well--except we were both literally shaking.  We walked for a while for the horses--and for us--to calm down.

Shari saw what fell.  It was either the top of a tree or a very large branch that was way up high.  That is why the noise lasted so long.  It took a long time for it to reach the ground.

I had so many trees fall when I was riding Cruiser that I lost count.  I remember the last one.  We heard a noise up ahead, Cruiser stopped and looked at it.  As we watched the tree fall, he took a few steps backwards.  He was barely startled at all since there had been so many trees falling for him in the past.  This was Cole's first one and Bella's second.

The rest of the ride was lovely and boring.  Bella walked home with a loose rein.  We stopped to talk to 3 riders that we never met before.  One of their horses was a very young Saddlebred that was dancing about.  Cole and Bella didn't seem to care. 

We trotted more towards home, and even though we were pretty close, it didn't make any difference.  at least no more trees fell.  I do like a boring ride, but at least this one gave me something to write about.