School Horse

To call yourself a rider, one  horse can give you your best final test: a school horse. Horses ridden in lessons build up knowledge of school horse dennywhat makes a good, and bad, rider. When you can ride a school horse consistently well, you can say, why yes, I do ride.

School horses are the most even-natured and tolerant creatures in a stable. That is why they give lessons and the divas of horsedom do not. School horses will figure out what the mixed cues you’re sending actually mean. But not forever. When they deem it time, they require you to do it correctly. They make you search for the answers of how to ride.

Like every student at Butternut Stables in Hampton, I started on Denny. He is an old hand at lessons. He is quiet and gentle with little kids. With older students, he assesses their abilities and acts accordingly. Sometimes he helps you learn and sometimes he simply amuses himself. Just depends how he feels at that moment.

Anything a neophyte rider can do wrong, Denny knows. Anything a horse can do to foil a rider, Denny knows. He has a neck of steel that he can lock in place if he wants to go a different direction than you want to go. An hour on Denny is a full workout – legs, arms, and patience and willpower.

Ride on the wind

oreo and me leaving arenaBut Denny and every school horse I’ve ridden like to show you what they can really do. When they figure you can handle it, they’ll take you for a ride on the wind. “You wanna go faster? Okay!” You can only hang on. You’re trying to remember what you’re supposed to do. Your human teacher yells ‘legs, seat, reins!”

With or without you doing anything, your Pegasus suddenly snorts and stops. You put your parts back where they belong in the saddle. Then, as if he had never seen that vast plain in his ancestral mind’s eye, your horse goes back to plodding along.

At some point, you learn how to keep your legs, hands and seat where they’re supposed to be. Your horse slows down when you ask, speeds up when you ask. You’re working together. And running like the wind is fun. Yeehaw!

After riding other Butternut horses, I went back to Denny. I wanted to see what I’d learned. Quite a bit. What a massive thrill when we agreed on what we were doing!jamie and me in outdoor ring

But he’s a tough examiner and I never passed my finals with him. Denny and his stablemate Oreo recently retired to a life of leisure. Both great teachers, they will be missed by their students. Happy trails, boys.

Sadly, Oreo’s trail ended too soon. He passed away Oct. 26th. Robin’s Moocho Denero (his registered name) will not be forgotten.

Corrie Street 24 Sept. 2017

Beer Launch

Thursday, Newton & Ridley held a launch for a new craft beer at the Rovers. More secrets than beer got spilled.beer launch at rovers return

Tracy and Ken arrived just in time to see Peter holding a pint up to his lips. They went into full ‘no, no, no, how could you Peter, I knew ken-and-tracy-walk-in-roversthis would happen’ mode. ‘Eh? What’s the problem?’ from the brewery rep. Evidently, Newton & Ridley doesn’t do extensive background checks on their licensees. They did not know Peter’s history with alcohol. Nor did they know about his time in jail. Steve, ever helpful, let that one slip.

Evidently, surrogacy agencies also don’t do extensive background checks on their applicants. In the background of the chaos that was jackie-listens-as-peter-explains-pintthe Rovers’ launch sat a potential surrogate mother for Toyah and Peter. She had come to meet them so she could decide if she wanted to carry a child for them. So the process had moved past the administrative level to the actual nuts and bolts of surrogacy, the woman with whom you’d be sharing a joint pregnancy.

Toyah and Peter are not going the private route that Izzy and Gary did, with getting their mate Tina to carry their baby. Toyah and Peter peter-sees-tracy-and-kenare doing it the official way, through an agency with presumably vetted surrogates and parents-to-be. The individuals’ backgrounds, family structure, support system, skeletons in the closet – I’d think the agency social workers would check all that out, not the surrogates themselves. A lot of omissions on Peter and Toyah’s application form seem to have slipped past the administrative office.

toyah-hears-surrogate-has-leftSo the surrogate, Jackie, get to see Peter and Toyah and the fam in their natural habitat. Leanne snarling, Ken preaching, Tracy snapping, Steve being – well – Steve. That makes it a lot more fun for us to watch, but I would stay away from that agency on either side of their service provision.toyah-runs-after-jackie

Jackie decides to be their surrogate after all. Maybe, after hearing just a fraction of the tangled hedgerow that is the Barlow-Battersby family tree, she figures a kid born by surrogacy will feel that he or she has the most normal and boring ancestry of them all.

Newton & Ridley too maybe should review their vetting process. If only the licensee’s suitability is significant, then only Toyah’s background should matter. If the licensee’s partner and/or family is brewery-reps-aghastconsidered to be part of the pub management, which is reasonable, then Peter’s history should not be a surprise to the brewery at this late date. And if the rep at the launch just isn’t in the brewery information loop, then alcoholism, baby daddies or anything else is not any of his business.

Corrie Street 17 Sept. 2017

Notes

I was going to pick the scene with Rita saying Len would be home soon. But then Friday, we saw her notes. Reminders to herself about who is who and important bits of information about them. Norris is allergic to nuts, Jenny is marrying Johnny.notes in cupboard

So Rita knows what’s happening to her. She won’t acknowledge it, maybe thinks it’s just normal forgetfulness. I thought that too, when her confusion and forgetting things started. But no, this week’s incidents seem to point only one direction – to Alzheimer’s or similar dementia.

rosie-reads-notesThe only people who are picking up on it are Gemma and Rosie, the two least likely to be listened to by anyone else. But maybe it’s good that it’s them. They both are compassionate. Both know how it feels to be dismissed and looked down on by others. They will take care of Rita, I think, and preserve her feelings and her dignity as best they can while also facing facts.

I like Gemma and Rosie together. That surprises me because, on their own, I find them exhausting to watch. So when they teamed up, I expected them to be doubly wearing. But that’s not the case. Their thickness rosie-and-gemma-read-remindersand their enthusiasm play well together. Maybe it’s because neither is always the ‘straight man’. Each of them can be the smart one compared to the other. Whatever it is, it works brilliantly.

The Lady of Law scene at the beginning of the week, where Rosie scared off Gemma’s horrible friends, showed how effective – and hilarious – their partnership can be. Now, with Rita, we’ll see new facets of Rosie and Gemma individually and together.

rosie-and-gemma-hear-rita-come-inIf it is an Alzheimer’s story, it’s going to be disturbing and very sad. But I’m happy if it plays out with Rosie and Gemma being the guides into it for Rita and the others. Maybe it’s because, of everyone on the street, Rosie and Gemma are most aware that they do not have the answers. And that is maybe the most important thing to know, and remember, when dealing with Alzheimer’s.

rosie-and-gemma-greet-ritaYou can’t change it, fix it or explain it. You can just go with it. Rosie and Gemma are already used to doing that in their own lives. I think they’ll be able to help Rita do it too. I hope so anyway.

See my ‘Look at Bingy’: Alzheimer’s and Distraction for more. Also, if you’re on CBC’s Coronation Street episodes site, be careful! The one marked Friday is a double. Monday’s first episode is in there too. Remember, we’ll now be getting two episodes on Mondays. 

Redemption: Shelter Plan B

Nathan Winograd with cat Shelter Plan BMy impression after reading about Nathan Winograd is that it’s animal shelters that need redemption. He is Director of the No Kill Advocacy Center in the US and is giving a lecture and workshop at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Apr. 14th [2012] . I don’t get star-struck that often, but this sounds like one very impressive man.

In 1993-94, he turned the San Francisco SPCA from a kill processing plant to a shelter where animals got homes. Killing healthy animals “declined 100 percent” and for sick or injured animals “it declined by about 50 percent” (Redemption). He did the same at the Tompkins County SPCA in upstate New York.

Are these places with less of an ‘animal problem’? Not likely. If you can do that in San Francisco, heart of ‘disposable land’, or upstate NY amid wilderness that people would see as perfect for dumping Fluffy, you can do it anywhere! Here is how Mr. Winograd looks at shelter management, from a 2007 article by Christie Keith.

“If … motherless kittens are killed because the shelter doesn’t have a comprehensive foster care program, that’s not pet overpopulation. That’s the lack of a foster care program.

Amazon link for Redemption
Amazon link

“If adoptions are low because people are getting those dogs and cats from other places because the shelter isn’t doing outside adoptions (adoptions done off the shelter premises), that’s a failure to do outside adoptions, not pet overpopulation.

“…If animals are killed because working with rescue groups is discouraged, again, that’s not pet overpopulation. If dogs are going cage-crazy because volunteers and staff aren’t allowed to socialize them, and then those dogs are killed because they’re quote-unquote “cage crazy,” because the shelter doesn’t have a behavior rehabilitation program in place, once again, that’s not pet overpopulation; that’s the lack of programs and services that save lives.”

Animal Shelter Plan B

Commonsense, when you approach it from the shelter side of the equation. “If a community is still killing the majority of shelter animals, it is because the local SPCA, humane society, or animal control shelter has fundamentally failed in its mission… And this failure is nothing more than a failure of leadership. The buck stops with the shelter’s director.”

Lab looking out from shelter pen, Wikimedia Commons, NhandlerHe describes his second day at the Tompkins Co. SPCA. “’My staff informed me that our dog kennels were full and since a litter of six puppies had come in, I needed to decide who was going to be killed in order to make space. I asked for ‘Plan B’; there was none. I asked for suggestions; there were none.’

“He spoke directly to his staff, saying, ‘Volunteers who work with animals do so out of sheer love. They don’t bring home a paycheck. So if a volunteer says, ‘I can’t do it,’ I can accept that from her. But staff members are paid to save lives. If a paid member of staff throws up her hands and says, ‘There’s nothing that can be done,’ I may as well eliminate her position and use the money that goes for her salary in a more constructive manner. So what are we going to do with the puppies that doesn’t involve killing?’”  Wow.

Nathan Winograd’s publications:

Welcome Home: An animal rights perspective on living with dogs & cats

Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America

Irreconcilable Differences: The battle for the heart and soul of America’s animal shelters

All American Vegan: Veganism for the Rest of Us

Friendly Fire

Reforming Animal Control/Building a No Kill Community Resource CD.

1 day body count of dog and cat corpses in 50 gal drums at pound
1 day body count at pound – click image to go to Imagine blog

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Aug. 5, 2012. See comments below.

Corrie Street 10 Sept. 2017

Chocolate Eclairs

Phelan goes into a dark, dingy cellar at the end of Monday’s episode. phelan holds eclairsHe carries a grocery bag. He pulls out a box of chocolate eclairs. He’s talking to someone, telling them how nice it is of him to bring them food, to look after them. Then he eats the eclair.

The eclair reminds him of his mum, his childhood. She sometimes would buy a few chocolate eclairs from the posh bakery. They, and what they represented, made him want the good things in life. He found the easiest way to get them, however,  was by doing bad things.

So now, he tells his unseen audience, he’s at a crossroads. Good phelan-sits-talks-to-personthings in his life – his newfound daughter, Eileen presumably, life as a nearly respectable resident of Coronation Street – make him want to not have to deal with the bad things still remaining – his unseen audience in that dank cellar being one of those. He quotes Fagin in ‘Oliver’, “I am reviewing my situation.”

phelan-leaves-cellarWithout saying whether he’s choosing the left or the right path, he heads back up the stairs. Does he toss the food within reach of the person in the room? Or does he take it with him? Don’t know.

A lunge, and a chain clinking as it pulls to the end of its tether. Then a face – Andy. Remember him? Eight months ago, he disappeared after discovering too much about Phelan. (Also see my Dream Sequence.)chains-on-feet

Andy was trying to get away, packing a bag as fast as he could. But Phelan caught him and clunked him over the head with a laptop. We haven’t known if he was dead or alive.

andy-in-anguishAlive, and not actually looking that much worse for wear after eight months of being chained to a wall in a cellar. No light. No room to move. Phelan brings food, but it seems he also eats it while telling Andy how very delicious it is.

I’m of two minds about this story. What happened to Andy had to be resolved at some point. Six months earlier would have been better. By now, it’s almost like an American soap where somebody miraculously returns from the dead with whatever silly explanation is deemed to test audience incredulity the least.

Phelan has to be caught. He must pay for his misdeeds. But I like Phelan, and he’s been edgy but good Phelan for long enough now that I’m willing for him to just continue that way.phelan-kneels-by-garbage-bag

I’m not buying the story, but I loved the scene. It was a glimpse into Phelan’s mind and soul. You could almost see that little boy, and his anticipation when he saw his mother come home with the posh bakery box. Chocolate eclairs – a delicious treat and the good life.

Basil Pesto

Basil is easy to grow, and each plant produces a lot. There’s only such much fresh basil you can use at any one time. So make pesto with basilthat abundance.

On its own, it’s a light sauce for pasta or a topping for baked potatoes. Joy of Cooking says use 2 tablespoons per portion and mix with equal amount of butter. I toss pasta with maybe half that amount and no butter.

Use it as a seasoning for soups, stews or other types of sauces. Remember though it has an oily texture and pungent flavour, so best to start with a small amount and taste before adding more.

Here is how I make it – based on the recipe in Joy of Cooking (1997 ed.) with one big change. I use a blender instead of a mortar and pestle. I can’t pesto ingredientscompare the two directly since I’m not adept enough at using a mortar and pestle to have ever successfully made it that way. However, mine made with a blender tastes as good as pesto I have bought or had in restaurants.

Pesto ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Sardinia cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

My Method

unsticking-blenderI put everything in the blender and use the lowest setting. Toggling the switch on and off helps keep it from jamming. If the ingredients do block the mechanism, turn it off and poke around inside to stir things up. I use a chopstick. It helps to do that anyway so that ingredients blend evenly.

It makes enough to fill a small (227 g) cream cheese container with enough left over for a fettuccine meal.

Joy of Cooking Method

Joy of Cooking says put basil leaves in mortar and pound with pestle. Add garlic and pine nuts and pound.

pesto in containerAdd cheese, until the mixture forms a thick purée. Very slowly add olive oil, stirring constantly, until it’s the consistency of creamed butter.

Put a thin film of olive oil over the top. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Parsley may be substituted, but of course the flavour is very different. (It’s really good too. Make it the same way, with the same quantities.)

 

Corrie Street 3 Sept. 2017

Man U

kirk says eva is man uKirk to Jenny: “Eva’s Man U and you’re Weathy County.” He totally nailed it but, oh boy, what a thing to say.

Eva suggested a double wedding for her and Aiden and Jenny and Johnny. Not something Jenny would want ever with anyone. It’s her day and she wants to be the star. Sean says, if it were him, he’d only agree “if the rival groom were absolutely hideous.”

jenny-glares-at-kirkKirk agrees it would be hard for anyone standing next to Eva because she is “like a goddess.” Having already made things bad, he then digs himself in further with his soccer league analogy about Manchester United and Weatherfield County teams.

Then Johnny tells her, that like it or not, she has to do it for Eva’s sake. No!!! She agrees in the end, but hardly graciously.

This wedding, if it happens, is going to be fun. It has all the potential jenny furiousanyway, and Kirk just topped it off. If there might be any way on earth that Jenny might ever willingly share the stage with Eva, Kirk’s words, Man U – Weathy County, will keep popping back in her mind. Bridezilla will not be an adequate term for Jenny.

Add to that Maria as Eva’s unwilling and unhappy bridesmaid, and both the wedding itself and the lead up to it should be wonderfully bitchy. Unfortunately, Maria is suspicious of what’s up with Eva and Adam. I so hope that those suspicions, which she has shared with Aiden, don’t derail the wedding.

eva-walks-through-factoryEva is going into this for revenge and public humiliation of Aiden and Maria and, now, his entire family. And she has the wherewithal to do it. Spectacularly, like a goddess. Like Man U at the top of their game.