Before I get on with the daily trivia, I want to give my mother-in-law, Florence Cohen, a huge shout-out. Tomorrow is her 92nd birthday. She still takes the bus or the train in from Queens to Manhattan a couple of days a week to work at her job as a bookkeeper. She’s thinking about retiring. But she’s worried that it will make her go soft (my summary, not hers). She’s the queen of her shul, a big macher in the local Hadassah, and I cannot begin to imagine the volume of money that she’s raised for charitable concerns over the years. She’s got tons of common sense, and a great sense of humor to match. She’s as open-handed and generous an individual as anyone could ever hope to encounter. May Florence have 120 years, like Moshe Rabbenu, as they say. May she continue in her strength and grit and love for the world right up until the day she decides to leave it. May we all have the strength to navigate the choppy waters of that future time. May all of us be granted the same length and quality of years. v’imru, amen.
Well, we wrapped up another couple of days of rain overnight – this storm broke our latest 6-day streak without rain. The last 6-day streak without rain, according to weather.com, was back before Irene. Usually I like the rain, but I’m starting to stale on it. I’m tired of the puddles, I’m tired of the insects, and I’m really tired of not getting to ride my horse because it’s raining and there are puddles and bugs. Ugh. At least the leaves are finally changing over – it may not feel exactly like fall, but it’s starting to look like it.
I was supposed to have a riding lesson yesterday, and I was pretty sure it would be too wet, but hey, I have my own horse now, and if I want to go down to the barn and watch him eat, I can do that. When I showed up, he was outside in his paddock, wearing his rain coat, and attending to a pile of hay. I left him to that for a while before deciding to round him up, clean him up, and do a little bit of bonding and Horse Yoga. He didn’t agree, and decided to mount a minor insurrection. This was a first for us – usually, I have to work to get the halter on (because it gets between him and his hay) but he’s always stood in one place while we do it. Not yesterday. Yesterday was the day when he decided to run away from the halter.
Horses inevitably pick the worst possible times for doing the You Can’t Catch Me thing. A lot of the time, I understand, it’s a Bad Time because there is a vet/farrier/dentist waiting to share a bonding experience with the horse, and the more time they have to waste waiting for the horse to show up, the less pleasant the experience becomes for everyone. I haven’t had to deal with that (yet) so for me, the Bad Time usually involves a paddock in some kind of disgusting condition. Pouring rain and churned up mud would count. It was so nasty yesterday morning – even though the rain had slacked off – that I couldn’t stand in one place for too long because my duck shoes were getting sucked into the mud and I was at constant risk for walking right out of them. Not really the circumstances I’d have chosen for playing “catch” with Huey.
Fortunately, my trainer has taught me how to deal with this problem – or at least, how to start dealing with this problem. Drive him away, she said. If he doesn’t want to stand, then make him move. Equally fortunately, I had a ton of experience with this approach because the horse I rode for most of my lessons this summer either hated being caught or loved playing “catch” – I was never quite sure. So as soon as I got over my shock that Huey was not being a Good Horse, I flicked the lead line out and snipped him with the tail of it. It caught his raincoat, which was just as well, because – as shocked as I was that he was screwing with me – he was even more shocked that I was stepping up for a face-off. He zipped away. I followed, keeping him going with the end of the rope. At one point, the little bastard whipped in right past me, grabbed a mouthful of hay on the fly – without pausing or slowing down – and rocketed off, chewing impressively.
Well, that was it for me.
“That is my hay.” I said, and I put myself right on it, and any time he tried to come close to it, I whirled the end of the lead rope in the air in a circle. My trainer has explained to me that you do something like that, whether it’s with a rope or a stick, the horse thinks of it in the same way we’d think of a wall. Message clear: I Am The Boss Of Your Hay. You Have Displeased Me. YOU WILL HAVE NO HAY.
The rebellion was put down definitively and conclusively in approximately 75 seconds once I discovered that the Master Of The Hay Is ALL. There was no further nonsense.
Note to self: Be Master Of The Hay.
Last night I cleaned up for an Evening of Culture. My husband and I met a friend for dinner, and then adjourned to Amherst College for a concert. The musicians were excellent, and we had first a piano solo performance of Beethoven – sans sheet music, which impressed me – followed by a string quartet performing Debussy, followed by all five on stage for Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat Major. The musicians were excellent, the choices were likewise…
…but I will confess that five minutes into this thing I was yearning for the sound of a cappucino maker and the smell of books. If I closed my eyes, I thought I was in the Barnes & Noble. I wanted a hot drink in a paper cup with a plastic sippy top and a sleeve. In fact, I’ve been craving a latte ever since. It was that kind of music.
Pavlov, go home.
In honor of the end of the apple harvest, I bring you a dish of baked apples:
¼ C plus 1½ tablespoons butter, melted
¼ C dark rum
¼ C apple cider
½ C (packed) brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1T whipping cream
2 t minced peeled fresh ginger
2 t all purpose flour
1 t grated lemon peel
½ C almonds, toasted, finely chopped
6 pitted dates, chopped
2 lbs baking apples (Macintosh, Pippins, Granny Smiths, etc. should be a firm and somewhat tart apple)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix ¼ cup butter, rum and juice in 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Mix sugar, egg yolks, 1 tablespoon cream, ginger, flour, lemon peel and 1½ tablespoons butter in small bowl until smooth. Mix in almonds and dates.
Core the apples and cut into ¼” slices. Toss in baking dish with above, until coated.
Bake until slices are soft, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.