Monday, February 5, 2007

Social Whirl

It's been a long weekend.

On Friday night, we went to the Reprise! production of "Sunday in the Park with George" at U.C.L.A. We've been subscribers for years, and our season tickets are in the first row, just off center.

My husband is a Sondhead. I am not. I rather like "Assassins" and have grown to enjoy "Company," but I really dislike "Sweeny Todd" and "Into the Woods." Eventually, I found a place where I could relate to "George," but it took a while. The production itself was engaging, as these small-venue productions often are, but quite different from the Broadway original in tone, according to my husband who actually saw it in person years ago. He did pull out a DVD of the Bernedette Peters-Mandy Patankin version to show me a couple of things. In doing so, he discovered that the person who created the dress worn by "Dot" in the opening scene (she manages to step out of it while it stays in place and she dances around) and the "chromalume" of the second act was someone we had dinner with a few years ago: Bran Ferrin.

Bran was the head of Disney Imagineering for many years. He lives in a house full of amazing toys: it has two Enigma Machines from WWII, a cracked ruby laser on his dining room table, a soft-ball sized sphere of tungsten (impossible to lift off the table, it is so heavy), and the space suit of the second Russian cosmonaut. There is also a fantastic collection of art and a professional kitchen to die for (his significant other is a professional chef and she likes to cater the large parties they have at home.) I've read a piece by Bran where he talks about how, in the future, artists will be truly appreciated. I sure hope he's right. One of the ironies of "George" is that George Seurat only produced about 8 paintings in his short life and never sold one. The other irony, at least as presented by the analysis of George's work with light in the play, is that he would have revelled in a world where images are produced by pixels.

When we got home Friday night, I made the mistake of opening "Bella Poldark" the last volume of Winston Graham's Poldark series, and I read too late into the night for someone who needed to get up early on Saturday.

I managed to get out of the house in time to drive to Pomona for Equine Affaire before it opened at 9 a.m. It is an annual 4-day event where people get to go to lectures and demonstrations about horses and riding and SHOP. It's a geat place to look for a horse trailer, which, of course means a semi-truck length mobile home with room to bring along your three favorite equines. There are smaller, day trip type trailers, but the overwhelming majority are monsters that I could live in for the rest of my life. There was a time when I thought that would be a great way to retire--drive a little, photograph a little, and go on to the next place. Then I had to crawl up the Rocky Mountains behind some of these monsters. Not likely to happen. I don't own a horse trailer, although sometimes I think it might be convenient, because you also have to buy the truck that goes with it. I can pay for a lot of hauling before I'd ever come close to making a year's worth of payments, let alone pay it off. Ace hadn't been in a horse trailer for over two years when we moved him to Chatsworth in December after everyone was evicted from the Pierce College Equestrian Center.

(Your tax dollars at work: the two beautiful barns and the only covered arena in this part of the San Fernando Valley are occupied and defiled by pigeons, black widow spiders, and mice on the pretext that construction along El Rancho Road would be disturbing to the horses--some of whom lived quite happily through the actual construction of the new buildings--and that it would begin right after January 1. As far as I know, the construction planned has not been bid or awarded and the head of the Agriculter Department at Pierce College says he's been promised no work will begin until after the annual Farm Walk at the end of April.)

I managed to avoid making any high-ticket purchases, although I really wanted to get a girth and leathers for the saddle I bought last year. That's got to wait a few months because of the computer purchase. I'll live. I did buy a DVD by Julie Goodnight on mastering the canter, a gait which scares me. I took a clinic with Julie last sprint and enjoyed it. She's not Harry Whitney, but she's the first woman I've had the opportunity to work with in a clinic. That's a different perspective on things.

I also got to Equissentials to recycle two pairs of my full-seat britches. Recycling means I get new tights and they reuse the leather, at a price of about half a new pair. Equissentials are made in a place called Oneonta, in upstate New York, about 27 miles north of where I grew up. If I ever visit there again, I must see if they've got a factory outlet. Equssentials use deerskin for their full-seat leather breaches, and they are soft, pliable, and can be cleaned in the washer. I love them. They also do a great job of keeping you in the saddle. I wish I had started wearing them when I started riding. It probably would have saved me the experience of the broken arm.

I ran into a few friends and acquaintances at the event. Usually, I see a lot more people I know, but I didn't attend any of the presentations and I tried to get out by mid-afternoon so I could take care of Ace and maybe get a ride in. I got to the barn too late to actually ride, but we went for a walk and he got a chance to roll in the sand of the dressage arena. The turnouts are still too wet to risk a bad slip, but the arena is functional again. I'm looking forward to a lesson on Wednesday.

I was pretty tired by the time I got home, but again I spent too much time with my friends the Poldarks on Saturday night. I'm enjoying the visit, but I do worry that the ending will be rather anti-climactic, as was often the case with the previous books. But Graham did know how to get a reader to move on into the next chapter, rather than close the book. (James Patterson's Alex Cross novels, which have very short chapters, do an excellent job of making you think "oh, just one more chapter" and you find yourself unable to put the book down until it is finished. The Poldark chapters are much longer, as are the books. Eventually, I do have to go to sleep.)

On Sunday, I did a quick pick-up of all the things I had in the living room so it would be ready when friends arrived for the Superbowl viewing my husband had planned. This is not a party for which I have any responsibilities, so, after we went to Henri's in Canoga Park for breakfast, I got to go up to Chatsworth to play with Ace.

It was a lovely day, with an occassional gusty breeze, but the temperature was in the 80s. Sunny California as it should be.

I was planning to clean Ace's waterer. There was a dead rat in it. Fortunately, I knew it hadn't been there on Saturday evening, so I can only hope it hadn't been there very long. We fished it out and I cleaned the bucket. I noticed Ace was a bit reluctant to take a drink, but I'm sure he'll get over it when he's thursty enough.

We had a nice walk and a little trot in the arena. He's still sore on his left front, so I'm not pushing it yet. The vet figured it would take about 12 weeks for recovery, but light work would be o.k. The lameness doesn't really show at the walk, but the new trim is changing how he walks. I also decided to be brave and ride up the hill from the arena back to the stall. This is a big deal for me, and frankly, for him. It went well enough that I'll keep at it on days when he's calm and collected. He did have an issue crossing the little gullet of water created by people washing horses. He needed to walk around it (good thing he had that option) rather than step over it (we're talking about a 1" active stream of water and 5" of mud track.) He doesn't like getting his feet wet, but he's getting better about them getting a little muddy.

After I got him ready for the night, I headed home for the party. I stopped at zPizza, a new place in Tarzana which makes excellent pizza and will make me a personal favorite, a pizza margarita with grilled or roasted eggplant. Quite wonderful. I picked up a vegetarian pizza and one with sausage and pepperoni for all of those people at the house who don't like eggplant (pretty much everybody except me) and I'm looking forward to having leftovers for lunch.

For a group of people who watch exactly one football game a year, it was quite a loud group. Truth be told, we watch mostly for the new commercials, which were a bit disappointing this year. There weren't that many made exclusively for the Superbowl. My personal favorite was the faux Dalmation for Anheiser-Busch (which sadly didn't have any featuring the Clydesdales this year.) Others liked the robot who almost lost his job on the assembly line. My husband favored the rabbit and (I think) guinea pig using a real mouse to get on-line. I had no emotional committment to the game, but I had once photographed the Colts playing the Browns, so I nominally supported them. Most of the folks in our living room were rooting for the Bears. I just felt sorry for everyone in the rain.

I finished up the day with a bit more time with the Poldarks. If it wasn't a school night, I might have tried to finish it.

February is going to be party month. We've got two next Saturday, one the following Saturday, and we host a party to watch the Oscars on February 25. I liked it better when the Oscars were at the end of March or beginning of April.

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