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Saturday, February 19, 2011

White Out in Orange Land

In addition to being our horses indentured servants, we're also slaves to our passion for Syracuse University basketball. Last Saturday, the Orangemen were away playing Louisville. For the week prior to the game, our anticipation was building as we'd not beaten Louisville away in close to a decade.

However, our dreams of victory were seemingly squashed within milli-seconds of the tip off as the result of some insane 3 point shooting by the enemy Cardinals from Kentucky. Rick Pitino, the Louisville coach stood smugly on sideline while Syracuse's coach, Jim Boheim, tried to calm his team by screaming profanity at them (I'm sure he's warm and fuzzy on non-game days). Unfortunately, Syracuse was down by about 20 points by half time.

When the second half began, I happened to glance up quickly from the TV to check on the horses outside in the pasture and noticed that it had started snowing lightly and that there was a slight wisp of a breeze. They seemed content and my attention turned quickly back to ESPN.

Then something magical began to happen. Ever so slowly, Syracuse, with some wild three point shooting of it's own, clawed its way back into the game. Down 20 ... became down 17 ... down 13 ... to about down 9 or 10 with 3 or 4 minutes to go.

During a commercial, I noticed that the wind had picked up incredibly (35 to 40 mile an hour winds the newspaper noted later) and the snow was coming down hard enough that it was getting harder to see the horses in the pasture.

Normally, we'd see the horses out in that nasty gale and we'd race with our coat tails hap-hazardly dangling behind us to bring them in. But ... but ... there was less than 4 minutes to go in a game that had momentum clearly moving in our direction. What we couldn't see in the pasture couldn't hurt us ... right? Through the gust of whiteness, it seemed that the the horses just hunkered down.

With 1:35 left in the game, Syracuse had pulled within 3 points. I was standing in the middle of the living room so I could see the horses with one eye and the game with the other.

Fortunately or unfortunately (depends on your perspective) the horses were in a complete white-out. You couldn't seem them at all. They quite literally had disappeared. Oh well... at least I had the game.

"They'll be fine. It's far too dangerous for us to go out and bring them in now," I said to my wife as the seconds passed in the game. Unfortunately, Syracuse's comeback also disappeared and they ended up losing the game 73 to 69.

As the final buzzer sounded, we quickly grabbed our coats and boots and ran to the pastures. By the time we reached them, the horses bay coats were plastered in whiteness and icicles dangled from their whiskers, like great Arctic explorers about to plant a flag at the North Pole.

Yes, some turn their horses out for the winter, but our pampered pansies were about as happy about being sacrificed for the "love of the game" as a turkey would be for the "love of the meal" on Thanksgiving day.

Bobbie (the pony) had an incredible look of disdain and as if he were thinking, "Well, I hope your happy ... because I'm @#&@ing mad you stupid &@*#." Yes, he has a bit of a trash mouth. He's also a bit more warm and fuzzy when it's not game day.

While we had a bit of February thaw earlier in the week and one could actually see some grass, in spots, poking through the snow yesterday. Today is once again game day and the winds have picked up again to 50 mph (plus). Syracuse plays Rutgers at home at 4:00 pm and the horses are sitting warmly in their stalls. We don't want to risk Bobbie's wrath again.

Monday, February 7, 2011

There's a Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On!

The schools here were a little quick on the draw this past week. For Tuesday, the weatherman had been predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow for the day. We got a call at 5:45 am that school was canceled. Only problem was ... it was a little bit like drinking flat soda. You anticipate one thing and you get another... no fizz ... no snow.

Despite the lack of snow, there was a bit of excitement that day. My wife was walking horses out to the pasture and happened to look into the garage. As she walked by, she noticed that one of the empty grain bags by the trash can was standing straight up, shaking violently and inexplicably. She called for my 17 year old son who, anticipating a "mini-me" salsa dancer or perhaps a steroid laced mouse, tipped the bag over by tapping it with a shovel. The wild bag shaker was neither a mouse nor Charo, rather it was watermelon sized possum.

Possums are nocturnal and normally won't come out during the day unless it's too cold, at night, during the winter to secure food (yes, I love the info you can find on the Internet).

When the bag was tipped, the possum came running out of the bag like the Steelers front line towards my wife who was standing just out side the garage. She screamed running away from the possum. The possum, stopped on a dime, screamed on the inside like a horror movie heroine and decided not to leave the garage. The Possum, clearly shaken, curled up in a ball and ...decided to play ... well ... possum, just playing dead.

My son decided to leave it alone to see if it would depart on its own and took off to his girlfriends house. The possum did eventually leave the garage, but circled the house like Kujo waiting to disembowel it's next victim. Possum rarely get rabies (yes, that Internet thing).

It made its way onto our deck and decided to hang out by out back door, apparently, wanting to enter our warm home like a proper rodent would.

My wife, trapped by the deranged rodent, made the ultimate tactical error ... she called me for my advice. I quickly responded, "Cool, did you get a picture." She didn't. I told her to grab a whistle and scare it. She grabbed a whistle out of the junk drawer, ran upstairs, as I suggested, to the bathroom window and blew as hard as she could to frighten Franken-Possum-Stein away.

My advice was as useless as it always is ... as upon hearing the screeching whistle, the possum did what possums do and once again ... played possum (who knew that wasn't a myth).

The only thing the whistle blowing accomplished was spook the horses in the pasture into a wild frenzy and irritate my wife. At that point I thought it best to play possum too.

Fifteen minutes later the possum left on it's own... probably on its way to its girl friend's house.