Friday Five

1. I’m going to the dogs! And the cats, horses and potbellied pigs! I’m making a trip to a place on my bucket list: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Volunteers can choose to work in any area of the sanctuary. (I mean, how often do you get to play fetch with a potbellied pig? In Brooklyn, not that often, I say.) One session I’m really looking forward to is learning Parelli training. The Parelli method is an “innovative” training technique for horses that uses positive reinforcement, rather than the very old-fashioned notion of breaking a horse. Basically, just as with dog training, you’re training the human, much more than the horse. In this way, the person builds a relationship with the horse and the horse becomes willing to do what’s asked. It’s fascinating and I hope to learn much more about it. I’ll try to post bits while I’m gone. I believe the place will be as magical and inspiring as I’ve imagined it to be.

2. During grad school, I’d slogged through one boring book after the next. Usually those were the ones better served as door stops than meaningful or enlightening fiction (Vanity Fair, anyone?). I vowed never again to read a book I didn’t like. If I get to page 50 and still don’t feel it, I’m through. Life is too short. (Notable exception: The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx, a masterpiece of language. Don’t judge by the movie, please.) So I’m having a dilemma as I’m reading The Appointment, by Herta Muller, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature mainly because of this book.

Here’s the description: A young factory worker during Ceausescu’s regime finds herself summoned to the police. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men’s suits bound for Italy. “Marry me,” the notes say, with her name and address. As she rides the tram to her interrogation, she thinks about the people in her life and the terror of her situation. She misses her stop and finds herself alone on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there makes her fear of the interrogation pale in comparison.

Sounds amazing, right? There are sentences of brillance and the voice of the narrator is unique and spot on. Then why do I find myself skipping whole passages? I’m annoyed by how much telling is going on and not enough scene. Pages and pages and pages of telling. Even the flashbacks are more telling. Maybe it’s me. I’m sure it’s me. Sometimes you’re not in the right space to read a certain book, but if you come back to it later, you’ll be more receptive. (This does not apply to Vanity Fair. Oh, I’ve tried Thackeray, I’ve tried.) I think it’s time to…move…on. Do you persist to the end, even though you don’t like a book?

3. I’ve spent close to the GNP of a small country on toys for Reggie. He turns his nose up at balls, ropes, frisbees and rubber bones. He only plays with one kind of toy: plush dolls with squeakers. (Funny note: if I go shopping and bring home a bag full of a variety of things, he will stick his head in the bag and find the plush doll as if he knows it’s for him.) He chews on the squeaker until he deflates it. This lasts perhaps 5 minutes. So I’ve tried to get creative. Turns out a cardboard box with a treat hidden inside provides far more enjoyment for far less cash. Here’s a clip:

4. Horsehockey.  My mom is concerned I’m not getting proper nutrition. She sends me emails with pertinent information about daily vitamin and mineral needs, ways to boost my antioxidants, and how to put more pep in my step. Sometimes when we’re on the phone she’ll drop subtle hints. “I read that you could use more horse chestnut.” (#Sh*tmymomsays) 

Fast forward: now I’m taking horse chestnut, which thankfully does not contain any horse or chestnut. It’s an herbal supplement commonly used to alleviate vein issues, namely spider veins and varicose veins, something I’ve been dealing with for years. For me it’s mainly hereditary, though I think others who are pregnant, overweight, or spend a lot of time on their feet, can have problems. I’m not sure I believe the hype, but it probably makes my mom happy.

5. On Monday night, my Brooklyn neighborhood was again the target of Mother Nature’s pent up energy. A few weeks ago, you may remember, some tornados swept through the streets bringing down trees and large branches. Monday night, it was hail. I’ve lived here for some time and can’t remember ever experiencing a hail storm. Quarter to golf ball size hail pelted the fire escape and windows. What really made me sit up and take notice was when it began pinging on the skylight glass. I’d thought the glass had broken. The hail episode lasted about 10 minutes, but the lightening went on and off for an hour. It made me miss those epic Southern storms where you can feel the pressure change and the sky goes black with heavy clouds. you just curl up on your sofa and just listen to the song. (Unless you happen to be in your car or out walking the dog. Then it’s miserable.) Reggie, who is not usually afraid of storms or loud sounds, went by the front door, farthest away from any windows, and curled into a little ball until it passed.


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