Blog .:. February 2010 5 Entries

Brief Sabbatical

28 February 2010 Comments

I have decided the most dangerous activity I do is not riding.

It is not driving on the Houston freeways.

It is not even eating my own cooking.

It’s sleeping.

Somehow—and I don’t know how—I managed to pull something in my rotator cuff while sleeping. We can skip over all the condolences bits—I have prescription pain pills. Life is good. I am also faithfully practicing lots and lots of RICE—reading, ice cream, etc. Again, life is good.

I am more or less forbidden—on pain of pain—from doing anything at the barn more strenuous than breathing. I tried pointing out to the doctor that the shoulder only really hurts if I do *this* and that if I was doing *that* on horseback, I had bigger problems than a pulled rotator cuff, and he said sure, go ahead and ride, and after I tore it some more, we could schedule surgery. I’m thinking I’ll behave myself for a couple weeks and not risk pulling it some more.

But he didn’t ban me from going to the barn (probably because I didn’t tell him my car is a stick shift), so at least I’ll get out on weekends and watch some lessons.

I do not expect, however, to be posting anything here on the blog until I’m recovered and back to riding. What would I say? “Today, I ate chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and read Max Barry’s Jennifer Government.” “Today I went for a long, slow walk on the treadmill to atone for the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.” “Today I went a zillion dollars in debt because I remembered I can purchase books directly from the Kindle.”

Yeah, no one cares, except my credit card company. Their eyes are lighting up. And you might want to buy stock in ice cream.

Tagged: Books & Reading, Injury & Illness, Jennifer Government by Barry, Max Barry

Hallmark Moments

19 February 2010 Comments

As I walked out to her paddock tonight, I saw Gabi was—unusually—standing right by the gate.

Her full attention was focused on the path: ears pricked forward, eyes fixed, posture just radiating “I’m watching you.”

Once I was within a few feet of the gate, she started pacing back and forth, and even tried to “help” me unfasten the latch. Every time I told her to back up, she would—and then crept forward again, barely able to contain herself.

For a moment, we stood together in the paddock. She was practically quivering with anticipation.

Then I dropped the flake of hay I was carrying and left.

She didn’t notice; her head was buried in the hay, chowing down.

Tagged: Horses, Horses - Gabi

For all the bridle recommendations—recipes

16 February 2010 Comments

Thanks everyone for the bridle recommendations. Tack buying is on hold temporarily, but I’m sure you’ll hear about it if it happens.

I did promise recipes, though, and here they are.

Killer White-Sauce Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • A box of lasagna noodles.
  • A couple chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Onions.
  • Peppers—green, red, orange, yellow, whatever you like.
  • Two jars of white sauce.
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese.
  • 4 cups mozzarella.
  • 1/2 cup parmesan.
  • 2 eggs
  • Parsley

Chop up the mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Set the peppers aside; you won’t precook them. Cook the onions and set them aside in the same dish as the peppers. Use the same pan to cook the mushrooms, then add them to the same dish as the peppers/onions. Cook the chicken in the same pan—it’ll pick up flavoring from the onions and mushrooms, but I also tend to spice liberally with cajun seasoning. If you are uber talented, you could cook the mushrooms, onions, and chicken together. I am not that talented. Add the chicken to the veggie bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, mix the ricotta, parmesan, 2 cups mozzarella, and eggs.

Put about a half jar of the white sauce in the bottom of your pan and add a layer of noodles. Now add 1/3 the cheese mix, 1/3 the chicken and veggie mix, 1/3 jar of sauce, and some mozzarella. Repeat the noodles + stuff layering two more times. Be reasonable about how much chicken/veggie mix you add to each layer—this is chunkier than normal lasagna and will make the whole thing thicker. Add your last layer of noodles, pour the remaining sauce (should be half a jar), and toss on the remaining mozzarella.

Sprinkle with parsley, because parsley is green and makes this “healthy.”

Cover in foil and bake at 375 for about an hour, then remove foil and bake until the cheese browns.

This is clog-your-arteries cheesy, but very, very good.

Funny Cake

This makes four cakes. You will have no problem giving the extra ones away.

First the chocolate sauce:

  • 4 squares unsweetened chocolate.
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter. Real, actual butter. Oil-based spreads/margarines taste awful.
  • 4 tsp vanilla (or other flavoring of choice. Personally, I use rum)

Place chocolate and water in a saucepan and melt the chocolate. I’ve never used a double boiler, although I hear they make life easier. Don’t burn the chocolate! Add the sugar and bring it to a boil. Bring it up slowly and stir constantly. Again, don’t burn it. Once it boils, remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Stir until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool.

Now the cakes:

  • Four pie tins lined with dough. I use frozen, but feel free to make your own dough if you’re so inclined.
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • Chopped nuts. Walnuts are good. Pecans are excellent.
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Sift dry ingredients together and then mix in shortening, milk, and vanilla. The batter will be pretty thick at this point, but you want to get the shortening distributed. Then add the eggs and mix again long enough to get a general cake-like consistency. Pour the batter into the four tins.

Add sauce to the four pies. Do NOT use all the sauce; it’ll boil over. Add enough to cover the batter. Sprinkle nuts on top.

Bake 50-55 min at 350. Every so often check and add more sauce. Again—don’t add too much at once, or it boils over. You may not use all the sauce; whatever is left makes a great ice-cream topping. The cakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Tagged: Cooking Eating & Food

All in the name of competition

14 February 2010 Comments

Please don’t talk to me about the Olympics. I find the news coming out of there horrific and incomprehensible. Actually, we can talk about Lindsey Vonn and the way the media is enabling her idiocy. There is nothing “brave” or “admirable” or about someone saying, “Gosh, you know, I just don’t want to face reality.”—I’m synthesizing and paraphrasing here, obviously—“Didn’t that little gymnast compete on a broken ankle? Sure, she was competing in an event where the impact to the ankle was minimal and risk could be mitigated, and I’m competing in a sport where I need to place extreme pressure on both legs, but I’d hate to get an xray and find out I have a fracture. It’d be much more romantic for my leg to shatter halfway down the course—won’t the papers call me a trooper and awesome athlete then?!”

Actually, what she said was, “I don’t know that it’s not broken. My physio that was there [in Austria] wanted me to get a X-ray and I refused to get one. I pretty much stuck my fingers in my ear and just pretended like I didn’t hear what was going on. I didn’t want to hear that my shin was fractured because, at the time, that’s what it looked like.”

God, I’m glad we pick our athlete-heroes wisely. What an awesome poster-child.

The stuff you see oozing out of your screen right now? That’s sarcasm.

We have reached a point in sports where athletes are risking their lives on course if they make a mistake, and we justify this because “they’ll die doing what they love.” I’ll buy that sort of risk-taking rhetoric for Joe Smith who goes and climbs Everest alone in a blizzard, but in an organized sports setting, someone has to be responsibility for safety.

And it sure as hell won’t be the athletes. What athlete ever said, “Uh—this doesn’t look safe. I’ll just sit this one out. Y’all go on and compete for fame and glory. I’ll be waiting when you get back.”

They don’t say that. They don’t make that decision. They enter the competition at all costs, no matter what injuries—diagnosed or stupidly kiss-and-make-it-bettered (Vonn)—they have. Because they’re athletes and they compete and this drive to maybe kill themselves is all about their own desire to succeed and not at all about public pressure. And the public pressure it not at all driven by a social fascination with chills and thrills. The new stuff oozing out of your monitor? Cynicism.

And—you know—let’s go to the luge.

Right after Nodar Kumaritashvili died, the existing concerns of the lugers were all over the place—they had been questioning the safety of the track, speeds were much faster than anticipated, and even top-notch athletes—like the defending champion—were crashing. And now? “Oh, gosh, you know, the athletes have had time to review things, and they agree it was pilot error, and they are now fully convinced the track is safe.”

I am sure no one sat the teams down and said, “Look, voicing your concerns about the safety of the track is hurting the Olympic image. You are the best of the best, and you are supposed to march out there and compete. With a smile on your face! Here are some numbers; allow them to override your actual impression from running down the track. It’s a shame about Kumaritashvili’s death, but after all, he died doing what he loves. And he made a mistake. Now go race for your country, mother, and apple pie—and shut up about safety!”

If you think that conversation didn’t happen, in some form or other—formal or not—you’re an idiot.

Have you noticed the news reports have done a complete 180, from doom and gloom and “what is going on there?” to butterflies and roses? You think that isn’t PR?

And Kumaritashvili is dead because of pilot error, and everyone is accepting that. Just like that. Gosh, it’s a shame, but what can you do?

I get that life is risky, and elite sports are elite for a reason. I could kill myself on a horse, in my car, or by stumbling over something in my apartment and hitting my head just right. By the time you get to the elite levels of competition, you know (or should know) your sport very well. And that includes the risk you take every time you step into your sport’s competitive ground. There is always the chance that one mistake can kill you.

That doesn’t make the combination of “race at all costs” and “create the toughest, riskiest courses possible” anything to praise and admire. I think the current stories coming out of the Olympics are symptomatic of something happening in sports everywhere. Maybe it shows a lack of something in me that means I will never be an elite competitor. Maybe I just can’t/don’t understand. Whatever it is, I find the direction elite sports is moving in appalling and incomprehensible. It makes me not want to reach the top levels of competition, any competition.

And it definitely, unquestionably, without any doubt makes me not want to watch the Olympics. The glitzy show can go on without me. I’m sure they’ll never notice I’m gone.

Tagged: Lindsey Vonn, Nodar Kumaritashvili, Olympics

How To Tell When You Are Distracted

9 February 2010 Comments

This post refers to an obsolete site.

All evidence on this blog to the contrary, I do not have ADD. When I want to, I can buckle down and focus just fine. Nothing I say in the rest of this post will prove that, but I assure you it’s true.

So I am plugging away this weekend on my new project site, the bigger, better, more powerful version of O Pegasus. This is why it’s taking me so long to get that site to beta release—

First, there was Adam Lindsay Gordon. He wrote a poem or two that is already archived on O Pegasus. I copied “How We Beat the Favourite” over to the new site and, as I was cataloging it, wondered if the horses mentioned in it were real.

A few Google searches later, and I had a biography of Adam Lindsay Gordon in my hands. Well, on my desktop. Said biography contains a plethora of annotations. I stop entering “How We Beat the Favourite” in the database and make the general record for the biography. It’s clear this book is going to be very useful.

The new biography has pictures. Lots and Lots of pictures. I begin entering the pictures into the database.

One of the pictures is captioned with a stanza from another poem by Gordon. The stanza is part of an eight-part series. It is part of the last poem in the series, to be precise.

I stop entering pictures and start entering the series. Starting with the first poem. Of course.

Every poem in the series has an inscription / introductory quote. Suddenly I am entering Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” (awesome) and Juvenal’s Satire VIII (seriously less awesome). It is only when I am contemplating whether or not I want to track down a poem referenced in the introduction to one of Sir Walter Scott’s poems that I realize I’ve gotten a little distracted.

After all, I’m supposed to be entering the poem in Gordon’s series so I can finish entering the photo in the biography, so that the biography will be done and I can go back to “How We Beat the Favourite” and footnote it.

I couldn’t tell you how many entries I actually created during this little side jaunt, but I can tell you that O Pegasus has 108 authors, 8 books, 169 texts, and 111 images. The new site has 101 people, 112 texts, 25 books, and 295 images. And I am nowhere—nowhere!—near to having all the OP texts moved over.

I can also tell you that when you are tired, “Bensurdatu attacks the Seven-headed Serpent” looks a lot like “Bensurdatu attacks the Seven-headed Squirrel.” I have to admit I’m a little disappointed; there is no way a fairy tale about a seven-headed serpent could be anywhere near as interesting as one about a seven-headed squirrel.

I bet someone, somewhere has written about seven-headed squirrels. Maybe I should go look it up… I mean, so what if I never get the site to beta stage because I can’t keep my Google impulse under control? Clearly I’m amused and keeping myself out of trouble. That’s a fairly significant accomplishment in and of itself.

Gordon. Adam Lindsay Gordon. I am supposed to be focused on Gordon. Why couldn’t he have written about seven-headed squirrels instead of nineteenth-century racehorses?

Tagged: Adam Lindsay Gordon, Books & Reading, Childe Roland by Browning, How We Beat the Favourite by Gordon, Juvenal, Robert Browning, Satire VIII by Juvenal, Site Status, Walter Scott

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