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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New Windows

New Windows

I decided to take the big plunge.  It was time to get new windows.  I had been searching for a contractor and keeping an eye on the prices.  As the weather got colder, the deals got better and better.  I would be a fool to wait until spring.

I chose Parma Windows to do the job.  They gave me a very good price because they wanted a 21-window job in December.  

I knew I was doing the right thing, but I dreaded it.  My biggest concern was Thunder.  I knew the poor little guy would be terrified.  The other problem--Maggie.  She is seldom a well-behaved dog when there are visitors.

I should have also been concerned about the weather.  Little did I know that they would end up doing the job on the coldest days of the year.

It was going to take 3 days.  To me, that was 3 days of torture.  Thunder went into hiding the moment the dog started barking.  I let the first guy who showed up start bringing stuff in.  He said they were going to start at the top--and that is where I thought Thunder was.  I had opened my closet a bit and set him up a box with a blanket.  

He wasn’t there for long.  About a half hour later, there was a break in the action and I saw him slink into the basement.

That day, I don’t think it got much warmer than 20 degrees.  It wasn’t too bad because they were doing the bedrooms, and they would keep the doors closed.  I literally tethered Maggie up to me by tying her leash around my leg.  Every Time someone would walk by or make a loud noise, she would bark.  It was a long day.  No Thunder and too much Maggie.

They worked non-stop and called it a day at 4:00.  I took Maggie for a walk and then waited for Thunder.  He appeared about an hour later, and he was very upset.

The next day, the high was supposed to be 12 degrees with high winds and lake effect snow.  They cancelled.  That was a relief for me.  It gave Thunder a chance to settle down a bit.  He is a very sensitive cat, and he can’t tolerate chaos, at all.

Our reprieve was over at 8:00 AM the following day.  This time, they were doing the big picture windows in the living room and dining room and the kitchen window--as well as finishing the rest of them.  The high was 15 degrees.

With nowhere upstairs to go, Maggie and I hid in the basement with my computer, book and electric blanket.  She still did a lot of barking, but not as bad as before.  I assumed Thunder was down there, somewhere, too.  He was hiding even before they arrived.  He must have sensed it when he saw me moving things around.

It was a very long and cold day.  I couldn’t believe they finished the job.  It was supposed to take 3 days, and it only took 2.  They had a big incentive to do it quickly--the guys were freezing.  So I guess I got lucky that the weather was so cold.  

The house is noticeably more comfortable.  It is no longer drafty by the windows and the furnace goes on much less often.  I can’t wait to see my gas bill--not the next one, but the one after that.  

The house looks so much better, too.

Book Review: "Get Shorty" by Elmore Leonard

Book Review: "Get Shorty" by Elmore Leonard

I love Elmore Leonard books, but I must say that this one disappointed me.  It took place in Hollywood, where a loan shark travels to get a payment from a customer who skipped out of town.  He thought that his story might make a good film, so he gets involved with a producer and some actors.  They have their own script they want to make into a movie.  Some other guys got involved who wanted to make the movie, too.

The plot was rather convoluted and I had trouble following it much of the time.  Nothing dragged me into the story, so I tended to only read a little at a time, so that made it even harder to follow the plot.  His character development wasn't near as good as previously, and there was very little tension to keep me interested.

Long ago, I saw the movie and I wasn't impressed with that, either.

I rate this one--big disappointment.

Winter has Arrived

Winter has Arrived


We were regularly riding out on the trail and having a great time.  Then, the weather started getting cold.  As is inevitable, the river started to freeze.  Fine, we can just ride on the hill.  Then we had some warm weather mixed with cold weather; causing the driveway to freeze into a sheet of ice.  If that wasn’t bad enough, it got reallly cold, followed by a heat spike which brought a lot of rain on top of all the snow--then the temps plummeted.  We now have an icy driveway, an icy hill and the banks of the river have piles of huge ice chunks that washed up when the flooding broke up the river. The river is freezing over, again, too.

We are officially stuck at the barn.  I can’t even ride out on the loop because of the ice.

It is now time to concentrate on our arena work.  Sigh…

My first 2 rides in the arena with Cole didn’t go very well.  My third ride felt like I was riding a stick of dynamite.  I only trotted a few times because he exploded into the trot.  We just walked about and did tricks.  By the time we were done, I was able to trot a couple controlled steps at a time.  I quit while I was ahead, untacked him and watched him run and jump about.  I guess I should have done that first.

The next time I tried again, I did have him run and play, first.  It paid off.  He felt like a normal horse.We just reviewed where we left off last year.  He seemed to remember it all, and I was very happy with that ride.

I did discover why dressage people love to do shoulder in so often.  Don’t listen to them about suppling.  Remember how I would get nervous on the far end?  When he is hyper, if I trot out of that corner down towards our barn door, he would try to take off for our door.  I tried doing a shoulder in after that corner and it worked like magic.  I felt brave because his head was already bent to the inside--so I could circle him with ease if he tried any shenanigans, and he was focused on the exercise I was asking instead of bad thoughts.  Being a clicker-trained horse, once he knew what I wanted, he had all the more reason to perform it well instead of going of on a literal tangent.  

Since then, he has been fairly well behaved in the arena.  We continue to review old work and try to have as much fun as possible.  Of course, we much prefer to be on the trail.

Ellen lets me ride Dante in the arena a few days a week, too.  I haven’t ridden him regularly in there since she broke her ankle, years ago.  He is so much better, now.  There is nothing to be frightened about riding him, inside.  The worst that he will do is stall out and not want to go forward.  He trots so smooth--it is dreamlike.  Dante is super responsive and very agile.  His legs never get tangled up like Cole’s can at the trot.  He does lack consistent lateral moves, and that is something I can work on with him this winter.

The only thing that can rescue us from the arena right now is a huge thaw or a huge snowstorm to cover up all the ice.  I prefer the thaw, of course.  Until that happens, we will just make the best of it.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Book Review: “Dr. Breen’s Practice” by William Dean Howells

Book Review: “Dr. Breen’s Practice” by William Dean Howells

Another masterpiece in realism.  This book, written in 1881, portrays the very first female doctor in American literature.  Shortly after graduating from medical school, she takes a vacation with a sick friend that she is tending.  The experience causes her to doubt her abilities as a woman, to be a doctor--both in experience and temperament.

The novel involves romance and a little bit of adventure, but as always, Howells captures a slice of American life.  The peripheral characters are very entertaining, and I think that was the best part.


Score another one for Howells.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Book Review: “Dick Francis’s Damage” by Felix Francis

Book Review: “Dick Francis’s Damage” by Felix Francis

I really enjoy Dick Francis’s books, and I am so glad that Felix Francis has taken up the reins after his father’s death.  This book is just as good as any of the Dick Francis’s books.

This time, the protagonist is an investigator for the race tracks through the BHA.  All kinds of bad things start happening in the racing world, and our hero must get to the bottom of it.  We learn all about investigating techniques and the ins and outs of how tracks are run.


Enjoyable as always.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Book Review: “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

Book Review: “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

I have been a Bruce fan--since forever.  No other music resonates with my like his has through the decades.  When I heard he wrote an autobiography, it didn’t take long for Kevin to acquire a copy of it to give to me as a gift.  

More like a series of essays put in chronological order, he explores all aspects of his music and his life--and how is life affects his music.  Much of it is written in a lyrical manner--making it a joy to read.  

I was surprised to find out how much he suffered from his father’s severe depression, and later how he suffered from his own.  

Much to my satisfaction, he clearly explained why he broke up with the E Street Band for the first time.  It made sense.  I finally forgave him.  I am so glad he did end up back with them.  If you ever have a chance to see them, even if you aren’t a big fan, their concerts are truly transcendent.

I found out that his daughter isn’t the only horse person in the family.  He ended up getting a horse, too, and through many bumps and bruises, learned how to ride.

I wish he would have gone into more details about his more current albums--some of them I feel are just as masterful as his more famous, earlier albums, but that is my only complaint about the book.


If you are a Boss fan, this book is a must read.

Book Review: “The Kentons” by William Dean Howells

Book Review: “The Kentons” by William Dean Howells

I love reading Howells’ books.  They are very realistic and take me back a century.  His characters are so real and ordinary.  They are regular people living regular lives; making decisions and suffering or enjoying the consequences.

“The Kentons” is a story about a young lady who is involved in a relationship that goes awry.  Her family, in order to help her to get away from the man, takes her from her home in Ohio to New York City and then abroad.  I feel the heart of the story is how her parents want to help her, but are so unsure what to do.  Her sister and brother add a quietly comical aspect to the story.


I love his books, and this one is just as entertaining as the rest.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Super Dooper Easy Pumpkin Butter

Super Dooper Easy Pumpkin Butter

This is so easy, it is a joke.  I was cooking up a pumpkin to freeze for later use, and thought I would look up how to make Pumpkin Butter in a crockpot.  I saw some fairly complex recipes by my standards, and then I found an easy one.  Since I didn’t have all the ingredients, I made it even easier.  I didn't know how it would turn out, but it was as good as any I have ever eaten, before.

About 5 pounds of pumpkin
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon

Peel and cube pumpkin.
Place a layer of pumpkin on bottom of crockpot.
Sprinkle some of the sugar and cinnamon on top
Keep adding layers until crock pot is ¾ full
Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours
Mix with electric mixer
Enjoy