Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Of Dust And Dishes

You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate; threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping.
Rudyard Kipling

It's a cold, rainy day, barely above freezing. I leave the horses in the barn on days such as this, so I have a little free time available for other much needed chores.

Like last evening's and this morning's dishes sitting on the counter.

And a pile of laundry waiting for folding.

Instead I'm doing this.

I have a point in here somewhere. Here it is......Mark opened a new business account this month, which I am a signature on. He brought the papers home for me to sign and low and behold, next to my name was 'Homemaker'. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this job, I sometimes wish I had it. But I don't, I slave my $%&^@ off in the barn 7 day a week!

As the above photos show, if I did have this job, I should be fired. I am not good at it. I am good at stable management, breeding mares and foaling them out. I'm good at stallion management, pasture management and fixing fences. I clean a mean stall. But I totally fail at housework. Completely. Besides, household dust makes me wheeze, so I see no reason to disturb it.

When hapless Mark is asked why my job is homemaker, he goes into survival mode. He has no idea, the banker just put that in. I think Mark was asked if I work, and of course he said 'no'. 

Mark doesn't understand that it isn't offensive to me, but rather I was curious how someone so completely awful at the job could be hired and retained for almost 30 years. I surely would have fired my worthless butt years ago if I knew I was responsible for the home. Now I have this creeping sense of unease, this idea that I should be doing more than sliding the dog hair along with my foot until I get a pile to pick up. Or periodically blowing dust off my computer.

I believe I will not think too deeply on this. I believe I am a barnkeeper and it's best to keep it that way. It's worked this long, why fix what neither of us has seen as broken.

Food Again

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese;garlic makes it good. ~ Alice May Brock

Assorted bell peppers, medium onion, asparagus, roma tomato and garlic. Fresh basil would have been good, but I didn't have any.

Sauteed in a generous amount of olive oil and seasoned with coarse salt.

A nice piece of aged Italian grating cheese

A lovely old bowl that I acquired when I acquired Mark.

Tossed in lovely old bowl with linguine.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

So, I have all of these horses. I stopped participating in the horse industry several years ago, meaning spending untold amounts of money and time and frustration showing on the Arabian circuit.

I got the annual advertising guide for the area I live in and saw the Tri-County Saddle Club. I have never been a member of a saddle club. I don't count MAHA (Minnesota Arabian Horse Association). I decided to call and get information. It seems this is a relatively large group of people. They have a couple of organized trail rides per year, two open shows and a fun show. Their arena is all of about 5 minutes from my house and they ride in Carver Park, another 5 minute drive for me.

I believe I will join the club.  This is the saddle most commonly associated with saddle clubs. At least I think so. I do own two of these.

This is the saddle I'm most accustomed to using. I own several of these, including this one.
I have never been active in anything within my community. I know very few people out here, as I have always been involved with my own little world. Kristina put it well when I told her about the club. She said we are on our own island here. She's right, we are. The place is self-contained. 

I'm going to join both of us and we can give the local saddle club a try. I don't care about competition anymore, but I do like to keep active with my horses. So, the Arabians, Saddlebreds and Lipizzans are coming to the club. Tally-ho, or I should say......Yee-Haw!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The British have an umbilical cord which has never been cut and through which tea flows constantly. It is curious to watch them in times of sudden horror, tragedy or disaster. The pulse stops apparently and nothing can be done, and no move can be made, until "a nice cup of tea" is quickly made. There is no question that it brings solace and does steady the mind. What a pity all countries are not so tea conscious. World-peace conferences would run more smoothly if "a nice cup of tea", or indeed, a samovar were available at the proper time.
Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Can I Get Out Of Here?

The thing that a lot of people cannot comprehend is that Mother Nature doesn't have a bullet with your name on it, she has millions of bullets inscribed with 'to whom it may concern'.

I have flooding in my barn. It's been a big mess and is looming as tremendous work ahead. We had two days of cold rain, while there is still frost in the ground, so the mud and standing water is horrific in it's scope.

My barn is at the bottom of a slope and when we bought this place we found that it flooded on the west side. So, we had drain tile installed and had years that were problem free. It seems the drain tile is plugged and we are in the soup. 

I don't have any other place to put the three horses that are effected. Mark has bailed out hundreds of gallons of water and we have been using pelleted bedding to soak up the water, but it just continues to seep in. The two outside shelters are useless at this time due to mud and flooding. And one of the horses is a stallion. 

This is the worst year in my memory for keeping horses. It has been gruelling both mentally and physically. Enough already.

Now that I have whined about the condition of my life, I have to say that the devastation happening again in the Red River Valley is heartbreaking. The river will have its way. My friend Jeni is on her way up there to help with the sand bagging. I think this is a wonderful thing for her to do and if I could, I would have gone with her. I hope they can keep Fargo from the disaster of ten years ago.

Now I must go deal with my own water problem.

Monday, March 23, 2009


When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.
Laiko Bahrs

This is an easy, flavorful spaghetti sauce. I'm not able to give exact measurements because I toss things in and it always comes out a little different each time. Sometimes it's so good you can't believe it and other times it's just good. Modify to your own taste.

I use a pound of ground turkey or pork
Medium onion coarsely chopped
8 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
Fennel seed, I put about a palm full in

I saute the first ingredients in olive oil until the meat is browned

Add two cans of diced tomatoes & a can of crushed tomatoes. I put about 1/2 can of water in also.
About a palm full of dried basil (more if using fresh)
I like some bite so I use crushed red pepper too. Use what your taste likes, or not at all.
Salt to taste
I use garlic stuffed olives or dark olives. I'll also use capers.

I let it simmer for 30 -45 minutes. Until it is thick.

Really easy and better than anything you will buy in a jar. And adaptable to individual taste.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Small Flights Of Fancy

There is always some frivolity in excellent minds; they have wings to rise, but also stray.
Joseph Joubert

New Purse

Howard inspecting the new tennis shoes

What on earth was I thinking, WHITE!

Howard wonders why they aren't Hush Puppies!

I spent a little time shopping. I never do this, but I needed some things and while I was at it, I bought a couple of items I did not need, but I bought anyway. A strange comment from a former fashionista, isn't it. How the mighty have fallen!

I stopped carrying a purse in the early '90's but started again last year. I decided I liked the idea of having a fashion accessory. I used to love purses, almost as much as I loved shoes. Not quite, but close. So a bright green bag and a pair of white Converse tennies, something I really don't need, but fun to buy and will be fun to use. 

I'm hunkered down in a no spending mode, so this relatively minor shopping excursion feels like a splurge. If things turn around, I believe I am changed for good. My splurges will be small, like this. I don't think that is a bad thing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Ari & Laddy

Shaka & Bright


Scamper's little ears

Bounce's back, Ben & Laddy

Horses love to roll in mud. They particularly love to roll in the mud in early spring, as it helps to remove the itchy, dead winter hair. They look like this throughout the early springtime and it is a waste of effort to clean them up until mud season is over. 

When my business was active I had to keep them clipped and clean, even in this mess because no one wants to see your messy horses when they come to look at stallions or sale horses. So, as long as we are having an economic meltdown, I might as well take advantage where I can! 

It's a long row to hoe before they get to pasture, so we settle into the spring confinement to paddocks. Fortunately, I have enough room for everyone to be out all day, including the stallions. My boy Solo is so happy to have the whole day out. He is an American Saddlebred and very good about stall confinement, so over the terrible winter he got the least turnout of the stallions. Now that he can get out, he is so appreciative. He's still a helium balloon on the lead, but now it's in play as opposed excess energy.

I have 25 of these mud hens!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday's Thinks

I have learned two lessons in my life: first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings. ~ Elie Wiesel

Natasha Richardson
1963 - 2009

The untimely death of Natasha Richardson has left me thinking how tenuous our hold is on life. It's all a roll of the dice. 

Any other thoughts can wait for another time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Poetry is life distilled.
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 - 200)
Pulitzer for Poetry

The Crazy Woman

I shall not sing a May song.
A May song should be gay.
I'll wait until November
And sing a song of gray.

I'll wait until November
That is the time for me.
I'll go out in the frosty dark
And sing most terribly.

And all the little people
Will stare at me and say,
"That is the Crazy Woman
Who would not sing in May."

Gwendolyn Brooks

A Civil Occupation

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
C.S. Lewis

I know I have written about my afternoon cup of tea before, but here I go again. 

I have a collection of fine English Bone China teacups. Back in the day, say twenty years ago, I used them regularly. Then came the move to the country, when everything turned upside-down and I stopped. I continued a habit I've had since childhood, my afternoon tea, but I use an earthenware mug. 

I eyed those cups and thought, why not? Well, one answer could be my clumsy, arthritic fingers that don't grasp very well. It would be a shame to drop and break any of these old cups. 

But having my tea from a lovely cup does change the ritual. It feels different, as if I should be sitting at a small, doilied table, wearing white gloves and a broad straw hat. Scones and strawberry preserves to be served on a fine china plate accompanied by sterling flatware. Music softly in the background. hmmmm...........

Reality; I sit at a cluttered desk, listening to political radio, wearing my barn clothes. I have a nice cup of tea in a beautiful cup and a really good biscotti, so it's not the worst scenario.

Maybe if everyone had to sit down with a delicate cup once a day, sip their tea and contemplate life for one half hour, perhaps we could learn to be civilized. If we could become civilized, perhaps we could actually be civil.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why I Am Wrapped Around His Large Paws

One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you're feeling blue is that he doesn't try to find out why.  ~Author Unknown

My sofa slug. Or chair slug. I thought I lost him on Sunday. He is a large bit of loose skin and heft, but he is my 'little bundle of cuteness' and will ever remain so. I think he hung the moon. He is spoiled. He is going on the Invisible Fence collar. I don't want to go through that misery again. Monday, the 16th he turned two and I want him to live out his natural life with me, all 90 pounds of loose skin and heft.

More On Food..........

Eat, life's too short to be miserable.
ME : )

I am cursed. I love food, good food, not junk. I don't eat fast food, rarely have takeout. I cook. And I eat. And I look like I cook and eat. Cooking for me is like playing for someone else. It makes me happy and people eating makes me happy. I tell my horses, mangia, mangia. Have a little nosh, do you want some more? Of course, no one needs to tell a healthy horse to eat! My perfect audience.

I did a quiz on FB about where you should live and it came up Italy, based on my need to have a city and culture near, while I live in the country. And food.

This is something I came up with a long time ago. My husband, the meat eater, likes it, but likes it better with portobello mushrooms. They are a firm, meaty mushroom and they trick his taste into thinking he has meat. I always keep them on hand, but I was out. Poor Mark.

So, this is it:

You can wilt fresh spinach or use frozen chopped, which I did here. Fresh is very good, but I don't always have fresh produce on hand when the spirit moves me.

6 cloves garlic

olive oil to cook the garlic and spinach

enough cream or half & half to make a sauce

about 1/2 cup of grated cheese, parm, romano, etc.

portobello mushrooms, if you are inclined

salt to taste

any pasta you like 

a little cheese on top

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring.....On The Farm

March comes in with an adder's head, and goes out with a peacock's tail. 
Richard Lawson Gales

Rushing Water

In the spring we have lake front property

Our version of a waterfall

What my boots look like in the spring

And the glorious mud!

Happy days are ahead. Spring will be upon us before we know it. Then we will complain about mosquitos and flies. How hot it is, how wet or dry. I'll repeat my yearly mantra, how I can't wait for the first hard frost that will kill the bugs. And then it will start all over again. Isn't life grand!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Hunt For Tri-Colored Howard

Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in?  I think that is how dogs spend their lives.  ~Sue Murphy
I had a nice afternoon planned. I was having lunch with a friend and then was on my way to meet another friend to watch a dressage demonstration. We did have a nice lunch and I was about to leave for the barn I was to meet my friend at, when Mark called to tell me my Basset had broken his rope and had been gone for over an hour. Mark had been looking for him during that time and he was worried and needed me home. I was a half hour away and it was a very long half hour.

Basset Hounds are scent hounds. They have a highly developed sense of smell, they put their nose to the ground and go. They don't listen, they just smell. He could have been anywhere.

I found him almost as soon as I got home. Mark had just come up the road I found him on, but he had been in the field of tall grass and wasn't visible. I turned the corned as he emerged from the field. Of course, when I called him, he just looked at me. So relief mixed very quickly with irritation. You know how it is, I'm so glad to see you I could kill you! Then he wouldn't get into the Jeep and he is like moving a bag of wet cement. We had quite the tango going on for a few minutes, but he finally decided to see it my way.

He's home, he's OK and he is very tired from his stressful ordeal. I feel like I have been rung through the ringer. My pleasant day turned into a mess. I don't seem to be able to leave home.

My first job tomorrow will be to call the Invisible Fence company out to fix the break in the wire. The other dogs stay on the property, so when the fence stopped working I sort of ignored it. When it's up and running again Howard won't be able to leave the property, so his breakouts can only result in getting stomped by a horse, but not run over by a car. Or, eaten by a coyote.

Basset Hounds are not for the faint of heart. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wrapped In A Whine

The sick soon come to understand that they live in a different world from that of the well and that the two cannot communicate.
Jessamyn West

I was thinking only a couple of days ago how lucky I had been to not be sick the entire winter. I should know better, I really should. If you think it, it will come. And it did. I awoke Thursday morning with 'the thing' that everyone has had this winter.

Nothing is more pathetic and self-absorbing than a person (me) who is unwell. I walk about with shuffling feet and stooped shoulders, wearing an expression of deep misery. If I had a fainting couch, I'm sure I'd use it.

I have to work today, there is not a choice. Which will lead to further whining on my part. Could be the whine heard round the world. Of course, we have been in the deep-freeze for a couple of days and now it's supposed to warm up. Great.

In the meantime, I eat my chicken soup, laced with pepper sherry, take my wide array of supplements, as well as my cold medicine and try to get as much rest as possible. Poor, poor me!

When I will feel better, I'll be so happy and grateful for my wellness and quickly forget how illness feels. I wish I could hold on to that marvelous feeling you have the first day you feel well. If that were possible, I believe I could conquer the world. Right now I'd be hard-pressed to conquer the walk to the barn! 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Eggplant Soup

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

This is a good creamy soup. We are still having soup weather in this part of the country, so maybe someone would enjoy this before we head into warm weather.

3 tomatoes, halved
1 eggplant, halved lengthwise
1 small onion, halved
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (I substitute dried when I don't have fresh)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream ( I used half & half this time. Cream is better, but I'm too fat!)
3 1/2 ounces crumbled goat cheese ( I grated parm, I didn't have goat. But it's really wonderful with goat cheese)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Place tomatoes, eggplant, onion and garlic on a baking sheet and brush with oil.

2. Roast in preheated oven until very tender and brown in spots, 45 minutes.

3. Scoop out eggplant pulp and discard skin. Place eggplant pulp, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a large heavy saucepan with thyme and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until onion is very tender, 45 minutes.

4. Puree in batches in a food processor or blender, or using an immersion blender. Return to low heat and stir in cream. Bring to a simmer, thinning with more broth, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

I had a half pound of ground turkey that was going to go south on me, so I browned it and added to the soup. This soup does not need meat, but it was good with the turkey.

I also made popovers. These were nice with the soup. A dense, crusty bread is really good.

Thursday's Thinks

Thursday's Child has far to go.

Woman's Head, Hair Down
Vincent van Gogh

So once again, it's Thursday and I am confronted with my thoughts. Or in some instances, the lack thereof. Life has been monotonous for some while now, so there isn't much of interest on my mind. It's the same drill running over and over again through my mind. 

I think about how hard this winter has been and I wonder if spring will actually arrive. When it does, I know I will be in a state about the resulting mud.

I think a lot about the broken health care system we have in America. If you can afford it, you will likely get good treatment. but it is a privilege based system and if you are not one of the privileged, you don't get care. I think about the 20% increase in our insurance cost that we just got and I think about the fact that our health insurance cost has increased by 50% over the past four years, while our coverage has decreased. I think about how this broken system is very much intertwined with our broken economy.

I think about how tenuous our hold on our lives is and how easily one may lose all they have worked for throughout a lifetime. I think about how easy it can be to feel smug in your sense of security, a feeling of rightness and self-determination. I also think about how quickly life can throw a curveball and leave you realizing it was all a lie, or at least an illusion.

I think I wonder how liberal and liberalism became bad words.  Webster's: liberal adj. 1. originally suitable for a freeman; not restricted: now only in liberal arts, education, etc. 2. giving freely; generous 3. ample; abundant: as a liberal reward. 4. not restricted to the literal meaning: as, a liberal interpretation of the law. 5. broad-minded. 6. favoring reform or progress, as in religion, education, etc.; specif. [also L-], favoring political reforms; not conservative: as , the Liberal Party in England. n. 1. a person favoring liberalism. 2. [L-] a member of a liberal political party, especially that of England.
My dictionary was printed in 1966, so perhaps the modern definition would be more threatening or ominous.

I think America still suffers from a sense of Manifest Destiny. I think this is not a good thing.

I think about how much I enjoy the young people I have the pleasure of knowing. It adds something to a life to be involved with people who have most of their life ahead of them.

I often think about my weight and my health, as it relates to my weight. Then I make a creamed soup for dinner. Don't forget the popovers to accompany the soup. I think I'm lame.

I think Zing is beautiful. I also think he is strange. I think his strange quality adds to his appeal, but I am his 'mom', so I know I am biased!

I know I have much to be thankful for, equally as much to be concerned about and perhaps as much to fully worry over. I understand the futility of worry, but a mind will not always listen to good, logical advice.

I think I should have been born with the gift of writing, because I have the temperament to be one of Ganeida's favorites.......those who write prose to 'slit your wrists by'!

I have made myself laugh, so I think it's time to quit while I'm still chuckling. Until next week, yours in sunshine. : )

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Neurotic Poets

.....an overgrown baby who'll destroy every last thing he can get his hands on, including himself.
Truman Capote, on Dylan Thomas

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
 Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Dylan Thomas


March is an in between month, when wintry winds are high. But milder days remind us all, Spring’s coming by and by.– Author unknown

We had a March snow storm yesterday. We didn't get much of the snow that came through the state, but it is 5 below zero this morning, with wind chill at -25. Winter isn't done with us yet!

Howard and Grace enjoyed the snowfall yesterday. I do have another dog, Atlas, but he is grumpy and camera shy. So I never get a photo of him, it's like he doesn't exist. Except he is laying with his blanket at my feet, taking up a large amount of space. So he isn't a figment of my imagination.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Approaching The End Of Winter

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.
Mark Twain

We have red squirrels. They are garrulous little things. I caught this one racing for a tree.

Dreary, bleak March. This is what springtime looks like here. Gloomy and dirty and unfortunately, once again icy. If all goes well, there should be some kind of relief in April. Or not. I'm going to believe that there will be. If there isn't, my belief one way or the other won't have mattered. So I might as well believe the best.