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: