My Little Ragamuffin


It is becoming clear to me that My Baby is the kid who walks out the door every morning with a big smile, a clean face, brushed hair, and tidy clothes…

…and gets off the school bus 6 hours later wearing the same big smile, a layer of dirt, and big holes in his pants.

I don’t know how let alone why.  He had mud on his eyelids last week.  I ask you.  Mud on his feet? goes without saying.  Mud on his flank?  Pretty straightforward.  Mud on his back? rolling.  Mud on one side of his neck?  It took a little while to figure this one out…and it wasn’t until I saw him splay one leg hard out in front, drop to the other knee, lay his head on its side, and squirmel the whole thing under the fence as far as he could, make his lip into a foot-long prehensile finger, all with the goal of grabbing three blades of grass growing 18 inches outside the fence line.  Then I understood the mud on one side of his neck.

But mud on his eyelid?

I had a great opportunity to watch him horsing around with Clay the other day.  I was on the way to the car, around the corner of the house from their paddock, and I stopped for a second to admire my Wonder Horse. Clay had the traffic cone and really really REALLY wanted Huey to take it from him.  Huey evidently did not want to take the traffic cone, and when Clay pushed the issue, Huey offered his teeth instead.  Then they got into a little scrap and wrestled in a weird horsey way across the paddock – with the traffic cone squarely in the middle of the flying hooves, teeth, and manes – and suddenly came to a screeching halt.  Clay saw me looking and froze.  Obviously told Huey that I was looking, because he looked over at me and froze.

There we were, the four of us, me, the boys, and the traffic cone, in a silent still tableau.  I turned at an angle and let my eyes wander down the road.  The boys and the traffic cone started right up with their squabbling again.  I turned back to watch.  A minute later they realized I was watching and froze.  The cone, evidently in an unsustainable position, dropped to the ground.

It was like playing a game of Statues, only with equines and inanimate objects, from a distance of 150 feet.

Today, I had the sense to ask before I collected Himself whether there were any new Battle Wounds of which I ought to be aware.  The answer was not “no” but “probably not”.  Because, of course, Huey is the kind of kid that can get a scrape just standing still and minding his own business.

The only new damage to report is, unfortunately, the kind that will not heal itself.  No.  Huey’s raincoat has a nasty little L-shaped rip in it.  With a little L-shaped flap.  I can easily imagine where this is going to go, once Clay notices it. I can just see it now.  “Huey! What is that on your side? Let me check it out! It could be a bug, Huey! Let me look at it!” <pause> “There’s a thing on your jacket, Huey!  I will take it off with my teeth! Hold still!!!”  RRRRRIIIIIIIIPPP.  And the little L-shaped rip is now a gigantic flap hanging off the side of the blanket.  Both horses are frightened by its flapping and spook.


I hate L-shaped rips, and I hate rips of any kind in a waterproof item. And having an L-shaped rip in my horse’s raincoat, which is the size of a four-man tent, right as we head into the nasty wet snowy season, is the pits.

I considered the issue.  If it was a real tent, the answer would have been clear:  duct tape.

But…I can just see it now.  “Huey! What is that on your side? Let me check it out!  It is shiny, Huey! Stand still!”  RRRRIIIIIPPP as the tape is forcibly removed, and immediately attaches itself with duct tapely force to the end of Clay’s muzzle.  Both horses are frightened by this and spook.

We get much the same scenario if I tape it on the inside.  It will take only a short while before the flap works its way loose on the outside, and then Clay’s nose gets stuck to the duct tape on the inside of Huey’s jacket.  Both horses are frightened by this and spook.

I can’t just sew it up, because the edges are already fraying, and you have to be careful how you do this or the seam itself will leak.  No, it’s got to be properly patched, by someone who knows what they are doing.

I had a fairly short list of options, then:

1. Leave the rip and hope that Clay didn’t notice it…all winter…or that Huey didn’t start fiddling with it on his own…all winter. (and hope that it wasn’t leaking and getting his fleece cooler soaking wet with cold water where it would be held against his skin all afternoon while he caught his death of a cold.)

2. Take it to the Horse Blanket Repair Shop (yes) and hope that it didn’t snow, rain, ice, or sleet while it was off being fixed. (and if anyone can read this blog and remain or arrive at the conclusion that the weather in New England is predictable and dry, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you)

3. Buy a second blanket and use it while this one is in the Horse Blanket Repair Shop, and then have a Backup Blanket for the next time this happens.

Fortunately, one of these options is clearly the dominant one.  Unfortunately, it’s also the expensive one.  So, today, I spent a couple of hours online looking for the…I was going to say “most indestructible” blanket available, but this is Huey we’re talking about, so I’d better put it “least easy to destroy” blanket available.  The existing one, the one with the rip, is 600 denier.  The new one that is coming is 1200 denier.

Let’s hope that it is enough.  Or, at least, that it is enough to last until I can get the first coat in and out of the repair shop.

It’s time for another recipe.  We’re running the risk of Winter Squash Burnout here, because the bushels of squash I laid in last month and which should have lasted until January are instead rotting extra-super-fast thanks to the bloody flooding from the hurricane.  Everyone I’ve talked to is having the same problem.  Nasty.  I’m having to use them extra-double-quick to be able to use them at all.

Here’s a really good soup:

Butternut Squash Parsnip Soup with Thyme

3 T butter
2 lb butternut squash, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut into 8 pieces
1 lb parsnips, peeled, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces, thick end pieces cut lengthwise in half
¼ C water
1 onion, halved, thinly sliced
2 T chopped fresh thyme
4 C chicken broth
1 C half and half

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter large roasting pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Arrange squash pieces, skin side up, in prepared roasting pan. Add parsnips and ¼ cup water to pan. Cover pan with foil; bake until vegetables are very tender, about 50 minutes. Cool vegetables.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and thyme; sauté until onion is tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Scrape squash pulp into processor (discard peels); add parsnips and onion mixture. Puree until smooth. Mix in broth. Transfer mixture to heavy large saucepan. Whisk in half and half. Bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving.)

Serves 6

Huey the Wonder Horse


About Lori Holder-Webb

I'm a Southern Woman by birth and a Texan Woman by upbringing...and yet I find myself living in New England and married to a New York City boy. Up here we use the same currency as we do at home, and I don't need to travel with a passport, but the commonalities pretty much end there. The language is different, the jokes are different, the people are different, and the weather and terrain sure are different too. I moved away from Texas in 2002, and ever since then, I've been the stranger in the strange land... I've had some questions about the name of the blog - if you were not alive, or living abroad or under a rock, or in grad school during the late 1980s, Oldsmobile attempted to shuck its stodgy image with a series of commercials intended to bring brand appeal to the younger generation: this car, they said, is not your father's Oldsmobile. If you have a morbid curiosity, hit YouTube for William Shatner will take you right there.

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