Archive for the ‘westchester’ Category

Summer Snapshots

June 10, 2008

I think if you live anywhere in the Eastern U.S. you know that its summer and its really hot right now. I am not complaining about the heat. How can I when I go from air conditioned bedroom to air conditioned car to air conditioned train to air conditioned workplace and vice versa? I always used to ask my dad how he could fight fires in this heat. Imagine its the hottest day of the year in the city, with a heat index of 110 with all the humidity, and you have to go into a burning building? I thought my dad must have superhuman strength to do that. But he always told me it was much worse in the bitter cold, when water from the hose froze all over and guys felt cold for days. I’m not going to be cranky about the heat, that’s one thing about the summer that I like, is that you cannot stress out. Walk down the sidewalk nice and slow, take your time, you cannot let anything bother you or get under your skin. Because if it does, your heart rate increases and your body beings to tense up and you feel additional, unnecessary heat waves come over you. Over the weekend we put the air conditioners in our windows, something my mom doesn’t like to do until July. But after spending all day in air conditioning I just want to be outside. After work I take my book, my dinner, my dog and my glass of ice water and sit out in the porch until it gets dark and just enjoy the first heat of the summer.

Right now a thunderstorm is approaching. Our neighbors have lost power and branches fell down across the street. My mom is afraid of lightning. She has turned off the TV, will not answer the phone, placed candles around the kitchen, and is flipping through a magazine while holding on to her flashlight. We always loose power during the hottest days of the summer. Tonight one side of the train station had power but the other side was dark. When I was younger my neighborhood lost power for 2 days. Every kid on our street spent the day in our little backyard pool. Parents brought over meat they had sitting in their freezers and we barbecued every last piece of meat on the block so it wouldn’t spoil. At night the kids went to bed and the adults took over the pool. Someone brought over floating candles and someone else made the cocktails. My bedroom window looked down into our backyard and I stayed up most of the night, unable to sleep in the heat, listening to the conversations outside. I looked down into the glowing pool thinking I had rarely seen parents – moms and dads – just hanging out like that having fun without children, like normal people! They told stories and laughed and drank in the pool all night. I always sort of liked blackouts. They shake things up a little, a little deviation from the typical routine. There are two exceptions: the 2003 blackout, because after you have no power for 2 days, its not fun anymore; and the time I had to babysit two of the brattiest kids ever and there was no power. This meant no TV, no movies, no video games and two very bored, very hot, very cranky children to watch all day, for 10 hours. It was too hot to go outside, too hot to go to the park, too hot to do anything. We played battleship. Many, many games of battleship.

So lets talk about summer reading. I secretly loved summer reading assignments because I got to pick any book I wanted from my school’s summer reading list. To me, reading is more fun when you choose what book to read. This is why I hated English in school, because we had to read whatever the teacher assigned. Even though I like reading, I hated doing it for school because I had to. Yes I’m that stubborn. I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately and I’m feeling like I want to read some history and science this summer. I’d like to read something by Bill Bryson, I hear good things about him. I’d also like to read more books by David Quammen because I think he’s a great science writer. (Here’s a NY Times Review of his book Monster of God, which I read last year.) If I’m feeling especially smart, maybe I’ll try reading The Fabric of the Cosmos or The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, who organized the World Science Festival that I was so impressed with. Maybe I’ll check out Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin, which I found while browsing Amazon.com today, now tell me that doesn’t sound like a fascinating book?

As for reading right now, I’ve finished The Giver for my book club, then finished In Defense of Food and almost finished with Drown. So more book blogging is coming. After this heat wave is over.

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Horse Heaven

March 25, 2008

Picked up this book randomly while browsing at a going out of business sale at an independent book store in Hastings last week. Manny and I went to the store after reading an article about it in the NY Times, which said that after this store closed there would no more independent book stores in the entire western part of Westchester County, until you hit Peekskill, a town in the very northwestern corner of the county. We thought that was pretty sad so we went to check out the store and I wanted to buy something and saw this book about horses and decided to get it.This is one of those books that has a “cast of characters” list in the beginning with all of the character’s names and relations to one another. I usually hate these books that jump from one character to another because a) my favorite character gets the least attention b) my least favorite character ends up getting all the attention and c) I hate flipping back and forth in the book trying to remember the last thing I read about a character. But the characters in this book are all mildly interesting so I’m not favoring one story line over another. Plus its about horses which is enough to keep me reading. I was one of those girls who loved horses. I took riding lessons every Saturday for a few years, even jumped over some fences, but stopped around high school because I wasn’t competitive and didn’t want to enter horse shows and didn’t have money to enter horse shows, so what was the point of paying for lessons where the goal was to get you into horse shows? In high school I was a band geek so band practice took up most of my Saturday riding time.

But damn, when I was younger, what I wouldn’t give to be around horses all the time. To have my own saddle, to lease or buy a horse at the stable and just go ride whenever I wanted, this was my dream. One time after my riding class, my instructor asked me if I could stay and be a lead rider for the next lesson. The next lesson was a beginner class and all the students followed a lead rider around instead of riding on their own. So I stayed on my horse for the following lesson had a group of little girls follow me as I trotted around the ring and it was the best feeling in the world. I could tell the girls in the class thought I was one of “those girls” who just hung out in the barn all the time and rode horses all the time and knew all there was to know about horses. I felt so knowledgeable and important, being that lead rider. After the lesson I helped the girls off their horses and helped the barn staff clean up the horses and put them back in their stalls. It was totally one of the best days of my life.