Sunday, November 27, 2005

Getting into a scrape

This afternoon we let each of the kids ride Levi, a six-year-old paint. Then I took my turn, my first time ever on a horse. Deb rode Cinnamon ahead of me as we walked up to the main gate and back. I tried a trot, but it was way too ragged; so I tried a run, and that felt a lot smoother. Until, that is, Levi decided not to turn when the road did, and ran me into a pine tree. He ducked under the branches that whipped me. I split my lip and cheek in a few places and scraped up my arm... but it was fun anyway.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Map time

By the way, here's where we are. (Actually, the star is on the junction; we're a mile west of Route 33.) Sunday morning, we'll be visiting the grave of Cathy's mother at Florida National Cemetery, about an hour west of here.

Friday, November 25, 2005


Well, even dial-up can handle Blogger, so I'm not completely and entirely offline.

We've had fun with Cathy's family here. Her father Bill and his wife Judy are visiting from Illinois; her brother Jim and his girlfriend Debbie have 20 acres, 5 horses, 3 cattle, 1 donkey, and 3 dogs (plus a small gator in the pond that spills over the dirt road leading to the gate). We've shopped together and eaten together, including Thanksgiving dinner with even more relatives. Today we drove to Dunedin, near Tampa, to take a ferry to Caladesi Island, where the kids and I swam in the Gulf of Mexico, their first salt-water experience.

So all in all, a nice trip and it's only half over at that. But we've already had the high point: the golf cart. Debbie's parents John and Julie were here yesterday. "Grampa John", though no relation to my kids, was a big hit with them, and eventually he offered to take them on a ride on the golf cart up to the main gate. I enjoyed the quiet... and half an hour later, here came the three of them back again, but walking with pants rolled up and carrying their shoes and socks. Sally Ann had been steering, with John operating the pedal, when they had run the cart half off the dirt track while crossing the underwater portion.

We all had a great laugh, and Jim and Deb took a pickup to haul the cart back up to the house. But a little while later, off they went again: John took the cart up to a gate, intending to drive around the back pasture (which is all above water). Since I was standing right there, I opened it for him, pushing one of the horses out of the way in the process (Marshall, a Tennessee walker). I followed the cart into the field, intending to watch the kids drive around; but Marshall decided that that game was fun, and began pushing me around with his neck, then bending down to nibble my shoe. I petted and shoved him a little and made my way around the field to the other side of the house, with other grownups laughing from the back porch as Marshall continued to plod along behind me, every now and then giving me a nudge to get me to play some more—concluding with a good bite on the back of my calf (that didn't hurt).

I got back into the yard as we all continued to have another laugh. PJ and Sally Ann took turns steering wildly around the pasture. Then they all decided to come in, passing from one field to another through an open gate. But the horses have worn so much traffic through that point that the grass is gone, leaving only deep sand (the entire state of Florida, it seems, has no dirt—only sand). And the cart bogged down, spinning its wheels whether forward or back.

I went back out to push them out, and eventually everyone managed to come in and get cleaned up for Thanksgiving dinner. But that's how, in the space of one afternoon, Sally Ann managed to drive into a gator swamp and into a sandpit and I managed to get bitten by a horse.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Off the net... sort of

So I'm on vacation at my brother-in-law's 20-acre ranch, 50 miles from Orlando. It's a long way to anything (10 miles to McDonald's, 40 miles to Wal-Mart, who knows how far to Starbucks), and the only Internet is AOL dial-up—so I'm being forced not to do any work for ten days. My laptop is just a big, electricity-sucking solitaire game at this point. And my cell phone costs a dollar a minute back to California. (For some reason they get terrific cellular reception out here.) And everyone stays in after 5:00 because the mosquitos come out at dusk.

So don't worry if you don't hear from me. I'll be back when I've washed the meadow muffins off my sneakers...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Where did this handbasket come from?

What is the world's attention span coming to when athletes can't get noticed even when they get naked?!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Reid leads

Today, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, gave a speech that blistered the Republicans on several topics, then pulled a stunning move by sending the whole Senate into closed session to insist on a discussion of national-security issues such as the Plame leak and the manipulation of pre-invasion intelligence. This Daily Kos comment has the closed-caption transcript of Reid's speech just before the Senate gallery was cleared and closed. Democrats promise to move for a closed session every day until the Republicans begin the promised investigation into the Plame treason.

(This later comment in the same post has a quote from 18 months ago about how the Senate was going to use exactly this closed-session rule to accomplish the investigation, before the Republicans demonstrated that what they really wanted was to stall and ignore until the whole thing went away.)

Rude can be fun

I was pointed to the LiquidGeneration site, where I found such items as "Whose Boobs Are These?" and a preview of the vaginal birth of Katie & Tom Cruise's baby. I enjoyed some of the work on this site, so I'll acknowledge a complete lack of taste at times. But if you're up for web-animated vegetable art, you might go there and click the How to Carve a Pumpkin link.