Friday, June 24, 2016
So the other day I was driving home along the main (sort of; it's fairly rural where I live) road leading to my little side street, and saw a policeman up ahead giving me the halt signal. Since he was on a detail for water line replacement road construction, I wasn't surprised; since between him and me there were a couple of honkin' big water department dump trucks parked on the left shoulder, narrowing the way for a couple of oncoming cars to get by, I halted right away, several dozen yards from him. This apparently was unacceptable to the driver behind me. How dare I stop way back there? He promptly swung wide around me and zipped ahead, reaching the officer as that fellow was beckoning my side of the bottleneck to proceed and tootling right past him. Son of a bitch. I went ahead, slowly since I prefer not to run over construction workers if I can help it, and halted by the officer to ask if I could turn right just up ahead to enter my side street. Nope, sorry, newly laid pavement, got to keep on down Linebrook and circle back to enter the other end of Kimball. Then he asked, "Did that guy swing around you?" I grimaced, resigned to injustice; nodded: "Yeh, he did." He smiled. "Never mind, I got his license plate number." And he waved me on. Sometimes there is justice.
Friday, June 17, 2016
Another ride today on the mighty mite Finnegan -- this time for a full hour! All at a walk, first in the ring, then riding out with Hilly on her new horse, Slugger. Slugger is a Standardbred, who had a brief career on the track, then became a trail horse, and when Hilly went to try him hadn't worked for two years through no fault of his own. He was, she reported, indeed a get on and ride no matter how long the layoff type of horse. She brought him to the barn on Sunday, gave him a couple of days to settle in, then started working him. He's been a star! He doesn't fret in the ring even though he'd spent his previous career on state park type trails; yesterday she tried hacking him out a short distance and he left the property without a fuss, ignored trash barrels, ignored cars, just delighted her with how sensible he was. Standardbreds generally have very good minds; he's got that in spades. Today's ride out to yellow house field was a further test -- hacking out with another horse, one he doesn't know; going through a bug-infested stretch; riding along a wide-open field; trading the lead with another horse -- oh, and passing a large isolated rock that MIGHT have horse-eating fangs. The flies annoyed him but he kept his head; the rock worried him enough for a brief halt, slow sidestep, and careful examination. Then he was fine, went on calmly, and passed it on the way back without a second look. He's not thrilled about having to halt and wait for a slower horse to catch up but he doesn't make much of a fuss about it. That is some seriously excellent behavior, especially when he's been here such a short time after such a long layoff. He's also seriously cute, a bay with a star on a shapely head and lovely conformation. Not surprisingly, given his breed and history, he needs some work on his big trot and on cantering but the foundation is there for a really fine horse. I gotta get some pictures. And here they are!
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
It's done! The painters finished doing the trim on the majority of the second floor and part of the first floor today (leaving undone the areas so cluttered with furniture and stuff it would be a royal pain to move to paint what's not visible anyway), in gleaming basic white, and it looks great. No more chipped, dull, dingy "linen white" baseboards and doors; even the "linen white" walls, not repainted, look better with the white trim contrasting against their pale, pale beige and making it subtly darker and richer rather than the former overall blahness. Before it was all bland and tired-looking; now it pops. So, let's see now; over the last year or so in my townhouse I've upgraded thus: Put new toilets in the second floor bath and first floor half bath, getting better workings with lower water usage in clean white fixtures (bye-bye stains of age and manganese-laden water), not to mention eliminating a slow leak downstairs before it rotted out the floorboards. Repainted the second floor bathroom, including caulking fixups and installing a new cabinet. Put in three new windows upstairs and four downstairs. What a difference from the barely functional 30-year-old clunkers they replaced! Repainted the woodwork around the new windows, including the window seats under the first and second floor double windows. Put new carpet on most of the second floor and the stairs down, replacing 30-year old gray beaten-down horribleness in the bedroom and sadly fraying berber on the stairs. Replaced all the ugly beige plastic switch plates in the kitchen with copper-toned brushed metal plates that complement the color of the wall tile pattern. Replaced three overhead light fixtures in the bathroom and the first and second floor hallways, putting in daylight LEDs that banish the former sullen dim yellowish light with bright white; also replacing "soft white" yellowish CFLs in the kitchen overhead with daylight LEDs, and an elderly incandescent overhead in the half bath with ditto. Replaced the outside cutoff switch (that had a broken door fallen off its enclosure) to the exterior central air compressor, so that I then could... Replace the 30-year-old compressor, sadly rusted, with a more efficient unit even though it was still functioning, rather than wait for it to die during a heat wave. Took out the garbage disposal that quit working and replaced it with straight pipe since I'd pretty much stopped using it when I began composting, thus eliminating the smelly dark gunk that would accumulate even when it wasn't being used and the frequent semi-clogging of the drain, not to mention the leak from the bottom of the disposal I discovered when clearing out under the sink for the plumber. And now, the repainting. What worlds are left to conquer in my tiny realm? Well, the berber carpet in the living room looks kinda old and tired.... But then I look around at all the crap I'd have to move to replace it and think, okay, having the rug professionally cleaned would be a lot cheaper and require moving a lot less stuff. Oh, and the first and second floor decks badly need power washing, sanding, and repainting -- but that can wait another year! I'm done for now.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Pumpkin's getting old. He's now in his midteens, and time is catching up with him. One kidney has been found on x-ray to be enlarged, and he's been put on K/D as his primary diet. He's had minor arthritis in his hind end for some time but lately his left hind has been noticeably stiff when he walks and he's having some difficulty jumping up on the bed, chairs, etc. I tried putting a set of carpeted stairs next to the bed for him but he never did figure them out, just kept scrambling up at his favorite corner. He's been on Cosequin for cats for a few years and now I've doubled his dose but I'm not seeing much difference, although it's only been a couple of weeks; perhaps I'll see more effect with time. He used to be chubby but he's at a healthy weight now, so that's not an issue. Googling "cat arthritis treatment" I find there's not much in the way of medication that's available and safe for maintenance pain relief in cats, alas, although I probably will have my vet check him out. Other than the stiffness and reduced mobility, Pumpkin is his usual happy little guy self -- well, except that I have seen him be more irritable at times with one or another of his feline companions. But he's still ecstatically happy with my attention.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
I meant to post this on Memorial Day: In many countries -- United Kingdom, Canada, and others both within and outside of the Commonwealth -- their Memorial Day is called Remembrance Day, and it falls on November 11th of each year. It evolved out of celebrations of Armistice Day, and honors all those who died in the line of duty. The blood red poppies that bloomed so fiercely across the fields of Flanders after the slaughter there are a familiar symbol of the day. Mark Knopfler's "Remembrance Day" captures the poignancy and sorrowful pride of the observance:
Friday, May 27, 2016
Yesterday was rather busy. New carpet installed on the second floor, then putting the bedroom back together when they were done. Also proofreading during and after, plus doing the five loads of laundry displaced by the carpetlaying in the closet. Hey, it's the perfect opportunity to wash all that winter-weight stuff I won't be wearing again till fall, right? Total pages proofread: 744. Yeh, I’m tired this morning. But the carpet looks great. Now I need to get the woodwork painted....
Saturday, May 21, 2016
It's getting close to suppertime for the felines and they've been gathering, as is their wont, near me in the living room. Fat boy Schooner just tried and failed to leap up onto the top of the TV in front of me. He fell back, unhurt, with a huge scrabbling clatter which startled the crap out of the assembled felines. They bolted in terror, in all directions. I laughed.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Lately I've been suffering email miseries: Messages disappearing off the Verizon server, in a few minutes, an hour, a few hours, randomly but inexorably, for the last couple or so weeks. [Edit: Just checked an older blog entry and discovered this has been going on since mid-February! How time does fly when you're not having fun.] It started after an interlude of Verizon’s system refusing to recognize my email auto-log-in... refusing... okay, you’re in. Refusing... refusing... and on and on. My machines are set to auto-check for new email every 15 minutes, and I don’t know how many times I saw that “enter password” popup box twinkle into view (already filled in, of course), get yes’d, fail, pop up again, lather rinse repeat till finally I got signed officially in. The popup box refusals stopped after a few days, but then the vanishing emails started. I managed (I think) not to lose any important stuff via various workarounds, but talk about frustrating and annoying! What’s that you say? Did you seek help from Verizon? *snort* Right, like I really want to spend hours on hold or trying to communicate with some poor schlub in India who’s following a script that’s useless for anything more complex than “Have you tried shutting it down and turning it back on?” I’ve already done the deep dive into my settings, thankyouverymuch. Then, yesterday evening, working on my laptops, the auto-log-in got the same little “please enter your password” popup boxes as before, erratically for an hour or two, but without the serial refusals. Hmmmmmmmmmmm................. As usual, I forwarded everything I needed to have on the desktop in the morning to my Gmail account, to download tomorrow, and went to bed. So I fired up the desktop this morning, opened email, it began to download.... AND EVERYTHING WAS THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every damned thing (barring what I’d moved to storage folders) since I’d last logged onto that computer yesterday. Everything! Huzzah! Now, I’m going to continue the Gmail-forwarding failsafe for a while, just in case. I'm encouraging everyone sending me stuff to use both addresses, just to be safe. But man oh man, I sure hope this means Verizon has fixed whatever the hell had been doing this!
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Today I bought a laser pointer. Fun for the cats! Right? Stanley was first, and he went bananas for the flitting red dot. Peanut heard the skittering and came racing downstairs. Hilarity ensued. Then I went into the living room and tried it on Squash. More frantic skittery pursuit. Stanley and Peanut heard the madness and came running in to join the wild pursuit. I noticed if I turned the red dot off they'd stay focused on where it last had been, as if their prey had dived into a hidey-hole. Schooner heard the crashing about and came racing downstairs. He stood looking into the living room from near the foot of the stairs. I flitted the red dot around and past him. He stared at it, stared at me, red dot, me.... Turned and bolted back upstairs.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Humph. I logged into my Windows Live Mail account on my desktop computer this morning. The inbox filled with new stuff, as usual. I scrolled down through it, as usual, and... Discovered that anything older than the 14th was gone. Everything that I'd left in the inbox from before, for whatever reason, had disappeared. I logged into my Verizon email account online, and it was the same thing -- nothing in the inbox older than the 14th. The Gmail account, which forwards to the Verizon, still had all the older emails online but those emails were also gone from the Live Mail inbox. Now, a few days ago, for a couple of days, my Verizon email had been wonky, sometimes refusing to log into and download from the server. Stuff eventually made it past whatever the problem was, but it interfered with mail on the desktop and both laptops for an annoying while. Then, suddenly, the problem was gone -- and a slew of emails I'd already received came pouring in again on the desktop -- but not, curiously, to the laptops, which use Outlook rather than Live Mail. Things went along as they should for the next few days -- and now this. Any emails not in the inbox but in other storage folders, even subfolders for the inbox, are still there, no matter how old, and the mail downloaded to Outlook on the laptops is also still in the inbox, but Live Mail inbox? Gone. So take this as a warning: If you use Live Mail, or perhaps any other cloud-based email service, it might be wise to put anything you want to save for any length of time, even short term, into storage of some kind, just in case.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
An hour or so ago, I was planning to walk down the driveway to the condo mailboxes and pick up my mail, and I looked out the front door. Last night's snow had been plowed, then freezing-rained on. The driveway was coated with ice. With melt water flowing over it. Guess it wouldn't be such a good idea to take that walk after all. Oh, well. It's over 50 degrees right now -- after the subzero temps over the weekend, no less. And there's already been a whole heap o' melting since my last look. A fair amount of bare pavement showing up. I figure give it another hour and it will be safe to venture forth.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Good grief. Watching yet another TV ad for Valentine's Day: The Vermont Teddy Bear Company's montage of sexy babes going orgasmic over being given a stuffed bear almost as big as they are (well, wider, but about as tall). And all I can think is, if anyone tried to do that to me my first thought wouldn't be "Oh, how arousingly wonderful!" but rather "And just where the FUCK am I supposed to PUT that?!?"
Friday, January 15, 2016
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Went to see an ophthalmologist yesterday afternoon, for an itchy eyelid that had been nagging at me, always feeling as if something was in that eye, grumble. Turned out to be blepharitis and dry eye, easily treatable with warm compresses and eyedrops, plus the doc recommended adding some flax oil to my diet since imbalance in fatty acids can contribute to the problem. I tried adding a spoonful to my delicious yogurt stir-ins this morning -- YUM! Well, acceptable, anyway. As part of the exam I got my pupils dilated. I had wrap-around sunglasses with me, as I'd suspected that would happen, but given how dull and overcast the day was, they turned out not to be necessary. "It'll wear off in a couple of hours," I was told. Yeah, right. I got the pupils dilated around 3:00 p.m.; they finally went back to normal a little before midnight. This was not fun. Try proofreading when you can't adjust your pupils to focus precisely.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
As part of the euthanasia process for Ted, my vet's office offered a range of options for his body's disposal. I feel the body is merely a shell for the spirit that animates it and have no sentimental attachment to remains, so chose cremation without return of the ashes. But I was intrigued by one option they let me know about: EterniTrees. It's a biodegradable urn for cremation ashes that's packaged with seeds and nutrients for the tree of your choice. http://eternitrees.com/ Noodling around the Internet, I see that's not the only company offering such services: http://www.thelivingurn.com/ - which provides a seedling rather than seeds And so on -- there are other companies out there offering these and related services. I was tempted, but have no place to plant a tree, so let it go. Still, I'm keeping it in mind, as these companies offer containers for human as well as pet ashes, and it's pleasant to think my corporeal remains might one day nourish, say, a dogwood, or a blue spruce. Certainly beats taking up useless space in the relatively sterile ground of a cemetery, eh? And you can even buy them on Amazon! Maybe I'll invest in one and give it to my executor-to-be brother so he'll have that all set when the time comes. Assuming the seeds would stay viable for another decade or two.... P.S. Can't wait to see what Google and Amazon start offering me after the searches I just ran!
Monday, December 7, 2015
And it's done. The vet examined Ted's gaunt body and found nothing overtly amiss, except a somewhat enlarged liver. Most likely? There was a tumor hidden in there. So we did what was right and he slipped away softly. I came home and threw myself into disassembly of his cage complex; a grubby hard job, but an hour and a half later, it's done -- cages cleaned, collapsed, and stored in the basement, bedding bundled up for the trash, floor vacuumed to neatness -- and a dozen-plus cat toys excavated from under the cages where they'd accumulated over the years. The other cats seemed alternately fascinated and bewildered by it all. I find it strange now, even a bit unsettling, to have so much open space where the cage complex loomed for so long. Ted was a fine cat, handsome, affectionate, easy-going, occasionally goofy. I'll miss him. Where the cage complex sat for those four-plus years, there remain deep indentations in the rug. They may disappear with time. Ted's imprint in my heart will not.
Sunday, December 6, 2015
My tribe of seven felines is probably going down to six this week. Ted, my eldest, is 17, and I've had him since he was four months old. For the last four and a half years he's been living in my living room in a gigantic cage complex because he's an inveterate house-pisser. He was happy in there, safe from some of the other cats stealing his food and bullying him, getting plenty of attention from me, charging up and down his tower for play, chilling with his friend Peanut snuggling up to him on the other side of the bars. I'd take him out periodically for snuggles, claw-clipping, brushing, and he'd be anxious to get back to his castle. Now, though, he's going downhill. For the last several months he hasn't been diligent about grooming and I've had to de-mat him a couple of times. His fur has that old-cat look to it. He was never a voracious eater; once he no longer had to compete with the others, he preferred to eat a bit, go away, come back to it; cleaning his dish usually but at his own pace. He gets wet food at breakfast and supper and always has a mix of dry foods available, much to the greedy cats' thwarted envy. Over the last month or so his appetite's become erratic, gradually diminishing, till now in the last week he's hardly eating anything; still drinking, though. He's getting gaunt; no longer jumping up to the third level of the tower in his cage complex, just spending most of his time in his lair. I’m going to take him to the vet Monday or Tuesday, and unless this is something easily fixable, with no treatment distress for him, I don’t think I’ll be taking him home. He's old and frail and fading away. I’m not going to keep him alive till he’s outright miserable, just because I'll miss him terribly. I owe it to him to do the right thing. The history: Why Ted went into prison; how he adjusted; his first set of slammer digs; the creation of his current realm: http://exurbanmusings.blogspot.com/…/teds-in-slammer-and-it… http://exurbanmusings.blogspot.com/…/ted-held-hostage-day-t… http://exurbanmusings.blogspot.com/…/finally-floodgates-ope… http://exurbanmusings.blogspot.com/20…/…/teds-new-tower.html
Friday, November 27, 2015
My shredder quit working. Yes, it was plugged in. Yes, the head was seated properly on the bin. No, it refused to work when I turned it on. Sigh.... Off to the store for a replacement. I don't need it often, but I do need it. So Wednesday I got a new one, hauled it upstairs to the office, and left it in its box till after Thanksgiving. Today I decided to move the dead shredder to the basement pending finding out how to properly dispose of it. I took hold of the cord and began to lift the head.... And the furshlugginer "on" light blinked to life. Oh, come on -- really? Yes, really; it ate the sheets I fed it. I turned it off; turned it back on; it lit up again. So I guess I have two shredders now; one old but still functional machine, one sitting in its box awaiting its turn. Oh, and remember the scanner/printer that stopped printing for a while, then magically healed itself? It stopped printing again. Still worked fine as a scanner so I left it by my downstairs workstation. Then it had to get piled in the recliner seat during the window installation. When I put it back and turned it on, it hummed, buzzed, clanked, whined, made other carriage-moving sounds -- then seized a sheet of paper and began its little in-and-out alignment dance, ending with ... a printed page. And it's been printing ever since. I daresay it will eventually quit on me again, but this time I have A Plan.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Ben is a happy horse today. He was turned out in his paddock with his lady when I got to the barn, his midweight blanket already off thanks to the warmth of the day. I put him in the indoor ring for some (relatively) wide-open spaces time. As I'd hoped, after puttering around for a while looking for just the right place, he rolled -- in a far corner close to the wall, of course (in the vast expanse of the arena, he always goes to roll there), and he managed to find the one spot, the one sole, solitary spot, in the whole ring with a road apple pile to roll into. I wasn't worried about him getting cast against the wall, since he never, ever, rolls all the way over; no, he folds down onto one side, does his wallowing, heaves himself upright, paws, and drops again to to the other side. I left him there while I went to pick some of his paddock. There weren't any horses in the stalls that flank the ring, and although he could see some turned-out horses through a window I knew he'd eventually decide he'd been abandoned to the wolves. Sure enough, after several minutes: "NNNNEEEIIIIGGGGHHHH!!!" Pause. "NNNNEEEIIIIGGGGHHHH!!!" I stopped what I was doing in the paddock and walked over to the gate, trying not to laugh (too much) at the long worried face that greeted me. The poor thing was so relieved to get back to his paddock and his tiny herd (Dora his lady, Levi across the fence). I finished cleaning part of the paddock, then clipped the leadrope onto Ben, led him into the fourstall and put him on the crossties for a long, dusty grooming -- well, dusty over most of him except for the mucky patch on his left shoulder where he'd rolled onto the road apples. He got curried, body-brushed, his forelock and mane brushed out, and a final going over with the soft brush, finishing with his face. Ben adores such pampering; he was totally relaxed and happy by the end. Also very shiny, even in his fuzzy winter coat. I put him back in his paddock, fed him his last horse cookies, and departed in a miasma of stinky horse dust.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
What a way to start my morning. So there I was, lying on my side in bed, half-awake as I wait for the alarm buzz. The bedside TV's on and the early news is droning softly but my eyes are shut. Sally's curled into my belly; Pumpkin's doing library-lion on my hip. All is peaceful.... Chaos erupts! Shrieking yowling exploding cats! A frantic hind paw slashes the side of my face as Sally bolts! I jerk upright. No cats to be seen, not even the sumfabitch (Stan or Schooner, take your pick) who'd made the sudden lunge from the floor that spooked my bedmates into panicked flight. And I'm bleeding. Oh, not very much, point-source ooze, really, and a quick lurch to the bathroom, cleanup, antibiotic dabs, and Band-Aids take care of it -- even the ding a quarter of an inch from my (shudder) eye. The alarm goes off while I'm in there working on my face, so I get to listen to its whiny beeps while I repair the damage. This is not how I'd intended to start my day.
Monday, November 16, 2015
I was visiting a friend living in Paris back a couple of decades ago. It was a time in Europe when some group or other was occasionally carrying out terrorist attacks. We were having lunch outdoors at a cafe somewhere, don't recall where, in the heart of the city, when a sudden BOOM at some small distance jolted us and the diners around us. People looked around, wondering. There were nervous titters, some neck-craning in the direction of the blast. I exchanged a grimace and shrug with a woman at a nearby table. Then we all quietly went back to our meals. Because, really, what else was there to do?
Monday, November 9, 2015
So what did I do today? I rode a horse, that's what I did. I rode Finnegan -- Finny to his many friends -- one of Hilly's schoolies. I hadn't thought I'd ever get on another horse after Royal, what with the massive collection of issues I have about riding these days, physical and mental, but Finny has a sterling reputation for safe, safe, SAFE. Plus he's only about 14.1 hands high. In his winter coat. If you don't pick out his hooves first. He's got a red-brown pinto coat complete with long red forelock on a Fjord-style body (but maybe rounder in the barrel, I kid you not). So, not very far to the ground, and he's built round and stumpy-legged and sturdy, well up to my weight, plus my Aussie security-blanket saddle fits him perfectly. So, firmly tamping down the usual butterflies, I groomed Finny, tacked him up (let Hilly bridle him since he can be a bit of a pill about that), then took him in the ring and got aboard. He stood politely for mounting (well, Hilly was at his head, but he didn't give her an argument about it) and walked off when requested. I liked his walk; it wasn't Ben's spider-legged big but it was larger than Royal's had been. After a bit I tried some trotting. Now, I'd been warned that Finny has an amazingly big trot for such a tiny tub, a sort of downsized-Warmblood effect, and he certainly had a lot of energy in it. I found it to be more vertical than forward, though Hilly told me he does tend to dog it in the ring and moves out more on the trail, but I could easily post to it, in fact I found it just as easy to sit to it despite its vigor. He was fun! After ten or fifteen minutes I asked Hilly if we could ride out, and off we went -- down the driveway, along the road, and up a small side street as far as the driveway up to Yellow House field. Walking all the way, since I was getting a bit tired by then and in any case we were on pavement, but Finny was solid and sensible and clearly wanted to stick right by Hilly's shoulder. Well, as we neared the turn-around point he did try two or three times to see if I'd let him turn for home, but submitted without fuss when I legged him back in line. He also gave me one tiny spook -- one quick head-up step to the side a rank beginner could ride through, then back to placid. He's very good off seat and leg and stops Right. Away. when told "Whoa." I like that in a horse. By the time we got back I'd been aboard for about 25 minutes, and even at mostly a walk my fat old self had had enough -- but what a delightful ride it was! I definitely want to do this again. Oh, and Hilly took a couple of photos with her phone of me aboard him but hasn't sent them yet. I'm going to take a camera to the barn tomorrow and try to get a shot or two of him. He's really adorable.
Monday, November 2, 2015
I’ve got horse stuff. Lots and lots of horse stuff. Years and years of accumulation cluttering up my basement and garage that’s in fine shape but will never be used by me again. So today I wiped down a bunch of tack, dusted off a bunch of other horsey stuff, and drove it all over to Windrush Farm to donate. To wit: three English saddle pads one foam pad five English bridles with snaffle bits two Western bridles with snaffle bits two leather English girths one pair of stirrup leathers one plastic tote of summer weight breeches (around eight) one plastic tote of winter weight breeches (around six) one pair winter insulated overall pants one barn jacket one rain jacket one fleece vest one heavy winter horse blanket two rain sheets one fleece stable blanket one fleece cooler sheet two bucket heaters one hay bale bag No partridge in a pear tree – wouldn’t fit in the car. The woman who helped me unload all this from my car was thrilled. She said a lot of the breeches could be used for their clients who didn’t have/couldn’t afford pants for riding, and most everything else would be useful in their program too. What isn’t can go to an auction to raise money. And I’ve still got enough stuff that another trip isn’t such a bad idea. It was a lovely drive through lovely New England fall color back country, after all.... Windrush Farm: http://www.windrushfarm.org/