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If you ever find yourself making chiles rellenos in the comfort of your own home kitchen and you decide to roast your poblano chiles over the open flame of your gas stove burner (because searing the skins in a pan like the recipe says didn’t work last time), remember that stems do not contain as much moisture as the pepper itself.

The stems will catch fire. But that’s not the problem.

One can assume, the top of a gas stove is made to withstand open flames, whether from a gas-powered burner or a burning chile stem. However (and this is the heart of the matter) remember that as you turn to place the pepper on a plate, the still-burning ember of a stem can fall to the floor. It is glowing red, therefore it is hot.

If you ever foresee yourself preparing a poblano chile in some fashion, such as described above, that will produce a red hot ember, that you will drop on the floor, remember that it is a good safety practice to be wearing shoes when doing so. Bare feet are sensitive to heat, notably, heat in the form of an ember.

I’m not admitting to anything.

I’m just passing along a little friendly advice at pam[at]


While I’m training a horse I spend a lot of time pondering the horse’s personality, motivations, intelligence and trainability. I like to think that all good trainers do that. I don’t know for sure, but I like to think it all the same. Eventually, I end up with a pithy description of the horse and its traits, and quite often a running dialog of events during any given training session. I’m pretty sure good trainers don’t do that. Whatever.

Xena Warrior Cheerleader

So when I dubbed the large bit of four-legged loveliness, pictured to the left, Xena Warrior Cheerleader, the name was quite appropriate. She’s pretty; she’s peppy; she’s got all the high-kickin’, fancy-steppin’, killer moves; and she really is the fluffiest pompom on the cheer squad.

After selling my broke horse Jilly this spring and finding myself with pretty much a whole new set of horses, I’ve been contemplating intelligence and trainability a lot. (Jilly was both remarkably intelligent and disturbingly training resistant, so it’s probably a knee-jerk reaction — or trepidation.) While riding Xena the other day I decided that the best way to describe her is that she is a little more intelligent than she comes off — not a whole lot, but some — and she’s definitely more trainable than she sometimes seems, too.

The problem with her trainability is that her pretty little brain quite often runs like it’s on a Starbuck’s high; as if she’s too busy checking her pedicure and talking on her cellphone with her BFF arranging a party for spring break while negotiating traffic in her custom convertible Hummer to recognize a learning situation when she’s asked to figure one out. If she were that stereotypical teen-aged girl, she would be talking, preening, flirting and texting almost constantly while going about the business of her day

She’s definitely the most expressive of my three current horses (that includes Charlie and Tazz), and I can hear her running dialog emanating from her brain.

Yesterday, I was supposed to meet a couple friends for an early morning trail ride, and since Xena hadn’t been hauled anywhere since last fall, I decided to start early with the loading. It took only 10-15 minutes to get her in the trailer, so I figured, hey, I have time to make this a training session and unload/reload her a few more times to get her loading more automatically.

This decision was like an engraved invitation to a hissy fit. That lasted 45 more minutes. The pinnacle of her performance was to fling herself about like a 1,300-pound spoiled brat.

All I can say is: In lieu of patience, use stubbornness. And she who is the most stubborn SOB gets her way — so we made it to the trail ride. Eventually.

And what did Xena think of all this?

“Oh, hey, Pam. Whassup, chicky-dude? Wow, we’re going somewhere? I certainly hope not in that trailer. Say, thanks for putting my pretty blue halter and new lead rope on me, but I don’t think I want to get into that trailer. Nope. I’m clauster-whatever-ic. Hey, Charlie, what’s that word. Y’know, th— wuh? Hey, human, you don’t have to be so rude. How would you feel if I interrupted your conversa—No, I’m not going to get in there. You can make me lunge over here all you want, but I’m not getting in. No. It’s icky. It still has a few crumbs of Tazz’s poop. Hey, Tazz your poo—Wuh? Oh, you got the whip out? Stop goosing my butt with that thing, human. There, I’m in. You could’ve just told me you were serious about this loading business instead of all that stupid work and clucking at me and tapping me on the butt with your hand. BTW, before you close that door all the way, you should know that I had to overcome a lot of those phobia-things to get in he—Oh, you’re letting me out? Cool.

“Well, I guess we’re done for the day. Tough one that, how ’bout some oats. I—what? You want me to get back in there? No. I’m not touching it. Not touching it. Not touching it!

“Fine, if you’re going to make me work that much, then I’ll get halfway in. No. No further. No way. I think this is against Geneva convention laws. No further. I read in Horse Vogue that 99 out of 100 horses lose training when they are ridden away from home. No. You can’t make me. No, no, no! There, I’m in. Happy? Now I’m outta here and you pushing your puny human weight against that door can’t hold me. See! I really am Xena Warrior Princess, the mighty figh—No! I’m not walking forward again! I hate you! I’m gonna back up forever, and I’m doing this because I want to—not because you’re making me! Fine, fine, I’ll keep backing up. This means nothing to me. So now I’m quitting. OK, if you’re going to be that way about it, I’ll keep going. I can be good at this. Uh, thanks for stopping. Fine, I’ll walk up there and put my two front feet in, but that’s it. Now, I’m backing outta here. Cripes, you’re huffy! Fine! I’m backing backing backing backing. [Gasp!] I’m breaking a sweat. Ohmigawd! There’s so much sweat it’s, like, trickling. down. my. leg. I won’t tolerate this—OK, yes, backing. Straight line. No problem. Check out my rhythm. I’m good. Yes, now, I’m going forward, still sweating, but I think I can take a break here with my front feet in the trailer.

Whew, caught my breath, now I’m backing outtaaaaa…my old position on this trailer loading issue. Not backing out. Don’t be ridiculous, I’m right here. Thanks for the goose in the rear to remind to step forward one more time. But that’s as far as I’m going. Can Tazz come with? Hey, Ta—wuh?! I was paying attention. See here’s another step. Um, Pam, my butt muscles are sore from standing half in this trailer. Here’s another step. I mean, those glutes are screaming tired, man. How ’bout another step, just to relieve that cramp. Y’know what? This is a stupid idea of yours to load one stupid step at a time. Geez, I’m gonna hop in here and stand at the front of this lovely flat compartment. You just close that door there behind me. Any time there, slow poke. I’m ready to rock and roll. Tallyho, babe.”


We got there. We rode. We conquered the day. Everybody lived. No one even got hurt. I had fun. She loaded fine. We came home. The End.

A successful day is one completed without total mayhem at pam[at]

I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating because it is entirely applicable to my current condition: I am at my utmost obsessive when working with horses.

The more I do with horses, the more I think about them during every free moment. The amount of time I do and think horse-related stuff is inversely proportional to the length of time defined as “free time.”

I’ve been training on two of my own horses, I’m starting on my second client’s horse-training project for the summer, I’m working on corrals and fencing, and it’s summertime so almost all of my friends are talking to me about their horse-related activities. At this point, then, any microsecond of distraction from work and other thoughts — like blinking — is likely to contain a thought about horses.

At least once an hour I have an episode best illustrated by the dogs in the movie “Up” hearing “squirrel.” One part of my brain says “horse!” and the rest freezes in point at the thought or scrambles after the thought as it skitters over the convolutions of my gray matter. Then, “hunh?” I snap back to attention, guilty from my wayward mental vacation.

I mention this because, well, I’m obsessed with horse thoughts and this is a way I can justify thinking about them for several consecutive minutes and because, in pursuit of my “just friggin’ write” policy, I will be writing about horses. You’ll just have to friggin’ put up with it … or, OK, you could friggin’ go somewhere else to read. In which case, I’m sorry …

It was nice knowing you at pam[at]

Post Script: John just said that when the horses walked through the yard on the way out to pasture, one of them must’ve reached into the pickup and yanked the dog’s blanket out the window and threw it on the ground. Suckers are just beginning for my attention — they bait me into it.

“If you can’t write anything funny, don’t write anything at all.”

View from the North 40 executives, and those of its affiliate Pamville News, decided in January to adopt the new policy listed above in order to set a standard of content excellence. It was a good plan.

In theory.

In practice, not so much goodness came of it.

In practice, then, no content was written. Nothing seemed funny, and nothing came out on the screen which appeared to be funny or appeared to contain elements of that which is generally considered funny in our current culture. In fact, I couldn’t even write about the change in policy which precipitated the extended written silence because it was (and this is the harsh fact) not funny.

Then, of course, the extended silence could only be described with terms such as “sad,” “depressing,” “pitiful,” and “you hack.” And those terms used in a serious fashion — that lacks all undertones (subtle or otherwise) of either irony or sarcasm — are, obviously, not funny.

For some time now, administration has noticed that the lack of written content meeting the executive demand that all said content be measurably funny has discouraged writers from even attempting to generate any type of written content altogether.

An independent consulting firm hired by administration to look into the matter has best described the condition of nonfunniness as “a whirlpool, or a whirling vortex of hell, in the fragile reservoir of creativity” that is “sucking all creative impulses to a quagmire of unreachable depths.” In other words, it’s counterproductive.

To address the issue, administration has changed the North 40 content policy to:

“Just friggin’ write.”

So here I am at

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