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Monday, January 15, 2018

Crisis in Our World

The other night, I came home and Thunder was acting odd.  Instead of our normal greeting routine, he was acting like something was bothering him--as if he just threw up a hairball.  He wanted me to console him.  It was a little dark in the dining room, so it took me a few minutes to figure out the problem.  I saw something on his chin.  I quickly turned on the light and saw a drop of blood!

Panic time!  I asked him if he could eat.  He immediately walked over to one of the Temptations I have "hidden" on an upturned coffee cup and ate it.  Then he went to the next one.  That was a good sign.  I couldn't get a real good look at it, though. 

I got him some canned food and gave it to him.  He tried to take a bite and pulled away a little--then took the bite.  He did that several times.  I then knew the blood had to have come from his mouth.  This went on, but since he ate a lot, I felt a little better.

After he ate, I put him in front of me and looked at his mouth.  He didn't like that and struggled a little.  I still saw enough to know that whatever it was, it wasn't something obvious.  I noticed a bunch of the cat obstacles I had set up for him were scattered.  Most particularly, the 2x4 jump was knocked down.  I then formed my suspicions--it was Maggie, aka Dumb Dog.

I think that she must have been on a barking rampage and scattered things. Thunder bolted, and hurt himself somehow when he did.  Often he runs up the circular metal stairs--and sometimes he will slip if he goes too fast.  I don't think Maggie did anything to him, but his panic did.

I hope that all he did was bite his lip or tongue.

I took him up to bed, and he immediately went to eat some of the dry food I have set up for him in my bedroom.  Then he drank.  He did both of these things tentatively.  When he was done, he came to visit me, and I could see that the water washed all the blood off his chin--proving to me the injury was in his mouth.

The next day, there was no more blood and he ate a lot--and with confidence.  Unfortunately, whenever Maggie barked, he would go in hiding and not come out for a long time.  And Maggie barked a lot.  She always does.  Every time she hears a noise outside or sees a deer in the yard. 

We didn't do any playing or cuddling.  I barely got to pet him all day.  When I left in the evening to see Kevin, I put Maggie in lockdown in her room.  She could bark all she liked from there, but maybe Thunder wouldn't be so scared when she did.

When I got home, he was much more confident, but he still didn't want to play.  We just went up to bed and cuddled and cuddled. 

Maggie might be going in lockdown for a while when I'm not home.  I hope they can work things out.  I think he needs to chase her around to reassert his dominance,  She just makes us crazy...

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Review: "Ayesha: Return of She" by H. Rider Haggard - 1904

A couple years ago, I found the novel, "She" in my attic and read it with delight.  Growing up with the movies of Indiana Jones, I have developed a fondness for adventure tales in distant lands.  She as in "She who Must be Obeyed" certainly was just that.  It was one of the bestsellers in its time.

This book is it's sequel, and takes place in Tibet.  The first half is as good as the original as our main characters search for She, but it did slow down a lot once they found her and got a bit boring.  I thought there was too much description in the ceremonies, etc.  The end became riveting and as surprising as the original book. 

I'll try some more Haggard novels in the future--including the sequel to this one.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Winter Riding

Winter Riding

After having a warm fall--and a long one, too, winter has arrived.  We had 2 good winters in a row, so it was unlikely that we would get a third, and so far, it has been crummy.  The temperatures have had highs in the teens and lows in the single digits, and there is no end in sight.  In this kind of weather, it is even hard to ride the horses in the indoor arena!

But we do.  Cole has settle down to work, and he seems to be not far off from where we were went we quit riding in the arena last spring.  I still get a little nervous in there, at times, but I keep reminding myself that he is 11, now.  He has grown up.  Overall, he has been living up to being 11, too.  

Dante is Mr. Reliable in the indoor arena.  Where I try to settle Cole down, Ellen tries to liven Dante up.  He has performed remarkably, and he has been very consistent, too.  Ellen has to find new things to tackle to keep things interesting for both of them.  With Cole, just trying to ride his arena trot is usually a big enough challenge for me.  I keep trying to extend the distance between the transition and losing my seat.  As I improve, his trot becomes loftier--and then I have to try to improve, again.  At least he keeps me entertained--and very warm.

Since Kevin doesn’t ride in the arena, he is more limited.  He has taken Starry down the hill a few times.  I joined him on Christmas Eve, and we were able to trot back and forth on the bottom--in the snow.  Since then, it has been so cold that I decided to stay inside.  He has continued to ride on the hill.  I think he likes to get his money’s worth out of his snow pads.

The river had thawed when we had a week of warmer weather, but it is freezing up again--and may stay that way until spring.  This is a hard time of year for us trail riders.

Book Review: "The Small House at Allington" by Anthony Trollope - 1864

Another of the Barchester series, and for the most part I liked it.  It is a story of romance--and not just one romance, but quite a few.  There are plots and subplots and everything gets messed up--only to be fixed again.

After a while, I started to get frustrated with the characters--they kept making dumb decisions.  How could they be so thoughtless?  At one point of the novel, it was one bad decision after the next.  I began to lose patience with them.  I know they weren't real, but they sure weren't being smart.

Finally, the novel came to an end, and all the good guys were happy and the bad guys were not.  I think I may take a break from Trollope for a while.  I liked the story, but I want a character that acts a little less impulsively.  Sometimes we have to be practical in life.

Riding the Loop

Riding the Loop

Winter is here.  Trail riding becomes difficult because just a quarter mile down the trail we have to cross the river.  Once the river starts to freeze, as it did earlier in the month, all we can do is ride up and down the hill if we want to go on a trail ride.

That used to suffice in years past, but this year, the hill is a miserable place to ride.  The park decided to fix it, but they made it worse.  One good section, in the middle of the hill, they thought the could improve.  They got a bunch of clay and they spread it over the trail.  In doing that, they completely covered the drainage ditch that runs alongside it, and filled in the culvert that drained the water away.  Now, when it rains, the water drains right onto the trail; creating a little pond--that freezes, of course.  Also, the clay is thick mud.  The horse hooves chop it all up--and that freezes, too.  It is no place we want to ride.

That leaves us the loop behind the barn as our only good outdoor riding spot.  Cole is pretty good back there, now.  When I used to work and had to ride at night, I would ride him there on the mild nights.  Ellen used to ride Dante back there when I worked, and she didn’t have anyone to ride with.  She introduced him to it, and right away he was great.

That leaves Starry.  Kevin never spent much time back there.  He always preferred riding up and down the hill.  I did, too, until the park tried to fix it.  He was hesitant to come out and ride the loop with us, but we were finally able to convince him.

Because it is within eyesight of the barn and goes along our outdoor arena, which often has horses turned out in it and the neighbor’s pasture, it can be a tricky place to ride.  It is only about a quarter mile, so that means that we want to do it more than once.  Each time they come around the corner that faces home, they would just as soon keep going.  We also see a lot of deer and turkeys in the woods alongside it.  (Sometimes even a fox!)

I must have ridden Cole there a dozen time before he settled down--and he does get a bit antsy on it when we haven’t done it for a while.  I don’t think Ellen had much trouble with Dante in the early days, but Ranger was a challenge.  Cruiser did pretty good, but that is mostly because I spent so many days walking him back there when we were doing his physical therapy for his bowed tendon.

Over the years, Kevin did take Starry back there occasionally, but not with much success.  He had a reason to be reluctant.

Now, you are probably bracing yourself for a long, drawn out story on how we taught Starry to behave.  Don't’ worry, he was great the first time out.

It was a case of setting Starry up for success.  To begin with, Kevin free lounged him for 10 minutes before he went outside.  That way, he was in the right frame of mind.  Then, we made sure he--not only wasn’t alone--he was with his two best friends!  

We figured that Starry would be happy to just follow Dante, but as soon as Kevin mounted, he marched right out in the lead.  He was very excited to be out on the loop.  It took less than a lap, and he settle right down to follow Dante.  

We have gone out there a few times, and he has been good.  Only once, when he joined Ellen as she led Ranger, did he act up.  Kevin had to bring him back the the barn.  The next time he was with Ranger, he was fine.

The hill may be inhospitable, but it is still nice that I can go out and a “trail ride” with my best friends when we can’t cross the river.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: "Stick" by Elmore Leonard

Not one of his best.  The characters were rather shallow and the plot moved slowly.  The women were particularly one dimensional.  That being said, it got quite good about 75% through--and I liked the ending.  So, it was worth it, but I felt he could have done better.

The main character, Stick, is from one of his previous novels, but I can't remember the title.  In the last novel, he ended up in jail.  This story continues from the time he got out.  He ends up in Florida without a plan and nearly gets killed by some drug dealers.  He escapes, but they still want to kill him.  the story is about how he tries to beat them at their game.

Thunder the Delightful

Thunder the Delightful

I came home, today, and Thunder greeted me, of course.  He wanted all my attention.  I wanted supper.  I stuck my meal in the microwave, and he still wanted attention.  I tried to get him to eat his supper, but that isn't what he wanted.

I had 3 minutes until my meal was ready, so I followed him around and told him how beautiful he is.  I tried to get him to eat, and he still refused.  I followed him around some more while he purred and showed me his scratching post, his other scratching post, his pad, his pedestal, his other pad...

This is how it always is with him.  After a while, he was ready to eat, and I was able to get my supper, too.  He is one of those cats who is truly, truly happy to see me--and isn't just happy that I am home to feed him.  He makes me feel very loved.