June 26, 2004 | Leave a Comment

jenn.jpgClick here for some pictures from last weekend.

Last weekend, we went to visit Marengo. He’s been worked with at Western Riding Stables, and now that he’s spending more time in the fields, he seems a lot happier. (He had been stabled at full board in Southlands, but was getting a bit barn sour. I guess he likes the open range better !)


We also took the kids to Southlands to see the new donkey, Pretzel. The kids thought he was cute, and enjoyed petting her. I posted a few pictures which you can see here. (The picture of Jenn and Marengo is a composite of two pictures; I’ve been playing with Photoshop).



I don’t like cats. I never did. I’ve always considered them to be selfish, and killers at heart. (Have you ever seen them dispose of a defenceless mouse ?)

When Jennifer and I first started hanging out, she had two cats. (I never really thought of it as dating, and neither did Jenn – she thought of it merely as a pre-engagement, from the first time she met me, but I digress…).

Anyway, I informed her that it was them or me; the cats had to go. And go they did.

As you’ll have learned by now, Orla has inherited her mother’s love of animals. I use the word advisedly – note I don’t say dogs, or rabbits, or any species in particular. Nope, Orla loves animals. Rabbits, dogs, fish, turtles, chameleons, ponies, you name it. And cats.

Despite my dislike of cats, I tolerated Orla’s first two cats, Gin and Tikki. (Gin, alas, lasted about as long as a good Gordon’s and Tonic. Jenn, defensively, is at pains to point out that (a) it’s only missing, and (b) it was old !).

The two cats were outdoor cats, and earned their keep by engaging in ethnic cleansing of the local mouse population. (We do, after all, live in the country). Even today, Tikki regularly supplies us with mice for dinner. (Okay, so we don’t indulge, but he’s undaunted).

Fast forward to this week. We had intended going to a petting zoo at the local library (a petting zoo is a traveling animal exhibit where the kids can see kangaroos, goats, baby tigers, etc). We got delayed and so by the time we reached the library the petting zoo was gone. Because we were feeling guilty that we had delayed on the way, and since Jenn wanted another mouser, we made the mistake of going to the local pet store.

Upon entering the store, Orla fell immediately in love with a tri-coloured kitten that she named “Rainbow”. We couldn’t take it home with us there and then because it had just arrived at the shop, and State regulations require a veterinary inspection, etc. So we left a deposit and arranged to pick the feline up in a few days.

On Thursday, Jenn and Orla, with Grandma in tow, returned to the store to discover that – deposit notwithstanding – the incompetent sales assistants had already sold Rainbow. So Orla picked out a different one, which is black and white. Not surprisingly, Orla dubbed her Zebra.

Despite my dislike of cats, I have to admit that this one – which is a house cat, for now – is a bionic kitten. She seems more like a cheetah than your common or garden cat, both in terms of her speed across the floor and the evident relish with which she pounces on toys. She can walk on her hind paws and does gymnastics like Olga Korbut. Orla is thrilled with the super athletic ability; as we mentioned in previous entries, she prides herself on training her charges, and Zebra has proven (so far) to be an excellent pupil. Orla is leash-training her, and puts on “talent shows” which include jumping after toys and climbing up the scratching post. Much to my disapproval, she strolls the cat around town in a cat stroller.

Just when I thought we were finally at the end of our animal purchases, Jenn and Orla are already talking about the second cat, for Eoghan, so that Zebra has a “friend”, and Eoghan has his pet.

There are hypo-allergenic cats now – see “Are those cats from outer space ?” for pictures – and since Eoghan has mild allergies, Jenn wants to get one for him. Since these cats are hairless, I guess we’d have to call it Kojak.



Flag Day

June 14, 2004 | Leave a Comment

flagday.jpg(Click here for pictures from the Hudson Flag Day 2004 Parade)

We all had a great time at the Flag Day parade in Hudson, NY. (If you’re like me, and have never heard of it before, you can find out all about the day here.)

I headed up with a group of folks from Western Riding stables in nearby Millerton, NY. Brian, the owner, and his helpers did a great job getting the ten or so horses into show condition, before we all headed up to Hudson. (Jenn and the kids travelled separately, with Justin and Carol).

Marengo was very cranky before the parade started; he kept shying and fighting and generally getting ticked off and ticking me off in the hour or so that we waited to take our turn. He calmed down pretty well once we took our place in the parade, but was still a little antsy in places. Poor Jennifer had heart failure when we reached the spot where she and the kids were waiting; just as we passed, Marengo starting acting up again and she was convinced he was going to rear up and go nuts. Fortunately, however, he didn’t and we lived to fight another day.

The parade was impressive with numerous floats, including a number related to the military. All in all, the kids had a super time – better than their Mom did, anyway ! It was a long day, though, and we didn’t make it back home until their bed time, so they were pretty wiped out by the time we got back home.

Orla is going to be a real sportswoman when she gets older. Today, she got a new surfboard, and is all set to go surfing on the beach. She’s getting plenty of practice; she puts it on the floor and pretends to ride the surf. Eoghan, of course, would not rest (or let us rest) until he got one too.

Orla’s involvement with the animals continues apace. She continues to train Laoise, our mastiff, walking her on a leash all around the house. (For some reason, she doesn’t have quite as much success when she tries to put a leash on her Speedy, her turtle).

She didn’t get a chance to go riding her pony Trunket last week, because both she and Eoghan have been fighting colds, so instead she spent extra time learning about science. She’s pretty pissed at comets, these days – she has been learning about dinosaurs, which she loves (along with zebras, for some reason); once she learned that a comet smashed into the earth and wiped out the dinosaurs, she got very sad. (Well, okay, it was an asteroid, but why be picky – she’s only three and a half !)

She has just started taking ballet, tap and modern dance. I got the chance to go and see her on Friday and I have to say she was pretty good ! Like me, she spent half the time admiring herself in the wall-to-wall mirrors. She also loves to steal Daddy’s clothes and dress up. Unfortunately, she looks better in them than I do. Eoghan hasn’t tried them yet; whenever he wants to dress up, we have to hide Orla’s ballet tutu. (I’m worried about that boy !)

Like Orla, he too is becoming interested in books; now, they both fight over the same ones. At least he hasn’t yet shown any sign of her other new passion – she’s becoming interested in jewelry and is saving up for a rainbow bracelet. (Although unless it’s made out of colored glass she has two chance of getting it – slim, and none – and Slim’s out of town).

Eoghan isn’t crazy on the movies yet – we all went to see ‘Shrek 2′ last weekend, and ‘Garfield’ this past weekend. Orla and I enjoyed them, but Eoghan walked out of both after five minutes, dragging his Momma with him. Perhaps he’s just more discriminating than Orla and I. Or maybe he felt even Cameron’ Diaz’s voice and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s presence couldn’t save either movie.

Finally, like women everywhere, we’re learning that Orla loves to talk on the phone. And it doesn’t really matter who’s on the other end. So you never know, one of these days you might get a call from her !



Eoghan continues to be Mr. Fixit around the house. After breaking the weather radio (which Jenn tried unsuccessfully to fix several times), he sat down with it and after a few minutes he had it fixed. There’s also a VCR here that Jenn thought was broken, since she could no longer get it to work. Eoghan, of course, is the only one who can now use it.

His favourite new thing in the world is his pet, Carson (a chameleon). Jenn is finally able to get him to sleep through the night by putting Carson next to his crib. When she goes in to check on him his head is usually by the bars in the middle of his crib, alongside Carson.

He has tamed the animal completely (or exhausted it, we’re not sure which). He carries Carson everywhere with him, including outside in the garden and in the car.

Orla’s chameleons are a bit on the wilder side. During one of her training sessions with the small beasts, she was bitten on the finger. We obviously have a carniverous chameleon.

Meanwhile, she continues to train for her first horse show, on July 30th. She’ll be riding her pony, Rainbow Trunket. We’re still trying to decide on her colours – suggestions are welcome ! We’re thinking of a green jacket (for Ireland) and purple since it’s her favourite colour.

Jenn continues to redesign the house. We now have an enormous blackboard and desk in the middle of the kitchen.

Grandma was here this week. On one of her many shopping outings, at an antique shop, Orla exclaimed :

Cool, Momma, are we at the junkyard ?

Orla informed Grandma what her shopoping list should include – a real zebra.

When Grandma replied that she couldn’t find a zebra anywhere, Orla told her :

It’s easy, Grandma !

You just get on a plane and fly to Africa and you get a zebra.

But you have to be careful of the lions !

We’re a little worried about Orla’s adventurous streak, since her new favourite show is “Crocodile Hunter”. And she’s determined to fill the house with animals.

She wants her next acquisition to be a parrot, which she informed us she could teach to talk.

God help us !