Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Puppy Patrol

I don't have a dog. But that doesn't mean I can't post about dogs! Everyone loves dogs!

I am going to live vicariously through my parents, who do have dogs.

And they are not just cute. They are supercute. They are Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties.

This is Pixie.

Look how happy she is to see you!

Pixie loves the camera. As in, will get in your face, pose, and do other supercute things to have her own little Puparazzi photo shoot. She's a ham.

And from the look of this photo, she's good at yoga too. That's her doing "Downward Dog."

But this post isn't about Pixie. Sorry, little lady.

"What do you mean, this post isn't about me? It's all about me!"

This post is about another one of our dogs, who is also a little girl named Checkers.

This is the only photo I have of her, because she's a little camera shy and I didn't want to upset her or stress her out. Why?

Because she's got some buns in the oven!

Yes, Checkers is pregnant with 3 or 4 puppies we think, and she's due to deliver a little after Easter. As you can see from the pic above, she's got quite the belly going on. She waddles around and spends a lot of time resting before her big day. She's actually having a C-Section, because she had a little difficulty with her first birthing experience, and this one will be her last. After this, she has a career in showing waiting for her, with my Mom handling her.

Be prepared for the Puparazzi in the coming weeks, as I will be unable to stop myself from posting all the cute little furballs for your enjoyment.

You'll love it. Checkers is practicing her lamaze as I type!

A Love Connection

It's an absolutely dismal day here in Wingdale. It is pouring buckets, the horses are in (much to their dismay) and did I mention it's pouring? Buckets. Teeming. Deluge.


Anyway, before the Monsoon began, I had a special lesson to teach on Sunday. Madeleine is 6 years old (almost 7), and it was her first riding lesson ever! I felt honored to show this little girl how fun riding can be.

One of the big philosophies I have when teaching, is to teach from the ground up. I think it's important to teach all aspects of horsemanship, including grooming, tacking up, and general care. I don't think it's a complete experience if you just plunk the student on the horse and say, "Ok, go!"

That actually reminds me of the time Matt took me skiing. That's exactly what we did. Up the ski lift, at the top of the hill, he said, "Ok, go!"

Horses I can handle. Two sticks attached to my feet and two poles, snow and a hill...disaster.


Madeleine, however, was fantastic.
Here we are in the stall with Topaz before the lesson. I'm pointing out the reins, saddle, bridle, all that good stuff. And as you can see, Madeleine looks a little intimidated by this 1000 lb. furry creature she was about to sit on.

Once we got her up into the saddle, we were off!
Here I am showing her some general leg and body position. Typically, it takes new riders a few months to understand the "heels down" concept, because it goes against everything they're used to in other sports or dance.

Madeleine, however, "got it." Immediately. I was so impressed.

What makes it tougher, is I teach children with no stirrup irons. That's right, their feet are in....nothing. How come, you ask?

Because when I was little, I learned to ride like this.
That is when I began to be called "Wild Woman." It's ok, you can click on the photo to blow up to a larger size. Check out my hair. Hotness. That's Cowboy, by the way. If you look closely, you can see that I'm going at a pretty good clip, and have no stirrups. That's because at the working ranch we would vacation at every year, they only had adult sized saddles, and, well, my legs were anything but adult size.

Sometimes I'd just skip the saddle and bridle altogether.
(Note: Very very bad that I was not wearing a helmet, although in the 80's, those were different times. You will never catch me helmetless today.)

What ended up happening was I developed a very good sense of balance and natural seat, because I didn't have a choice - if I didn't, I was a goner.

So that's the very long story about why I teach kids with no stirrups.

Back to Madeleine.

Sunday was really a "getting to know you" session, where she got to know Topaz, how she feels, and doing the basics - walking, stopping, turning. By the end of the lesson, Madeleine was controlling Topaz 100% by herself.
This photo is one that a trainer like me loves to get. It's a moment of connection between Madeleine and I - just sharing a smile, and a mutual understanding. Topaz of course, was loving all the girly attention and was very happy to be in the loop.

Towards the end of the lesson, lovely mom Arliss popped into the ring for a few photos.
That's why I teach. Happiness is found on the back of a horse.

But you know, Zeus felt left out. So Madeleine kindly went and gave him a carrot after dismounting Topaz.
Keep an eye out during the Olympics in 2028. You just might see Madeleine.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Very Rad Dad

Saturday night was a very special evening for my family, and especially for my Dad.

He had a very big birthday, and we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant in CT called Zia's to celebrate. It was mostly immediate family - my mom (duh), myself and Matt, my big brother Jay and his fiancee Kristin, and we had two close family friends join us - Leigh and Scott. What ensued was scintillating conversation, lots of laughs, and a few wary looks from nearby patrons. And a random diner from another table attempted to sell/ rent us a condo in Farmington CT, which I promptly then attempted to sell him some horse manure (take that!). Needless to say, he didn't believe me. We had some fun with that one.

And then came the shots. Amaretto. Yum!
Dad has a look on his face like, "I'm the birthday boy, maybe I'll get TWO shots! Hee hee hee!"

They came in really cute little mini glasses.
That's the wine cork from the bottle Kristin and I shared. And then we got individual glasses after we kicked the bottle. Lush much?
This is a fantastic picture! That's my mom and dad. Mom is cracking up over something, and Dad is...well, he looked like that all night long. Someone was having a good time, eh?

In all seriousness, my Dad has been the best dad most gals can ask for. He supported me when I took dance. He supported me when I rode horses. He supported me when I went back to dance and tried to sing. And then he supported me again...back to horses.

And he let me go to Woodstock '99. But that's only because he, himself went to the original Woodstock, and his parents still do not know. I love that story. I hope they don't read this blog.

My Dad is my homie.
And clearly, he knows it!

Here's to another 60 years of health and happiness, Dad! Love you!
From top left, Clockwise: Jay, Kristin, Moi, Matt, Scott, Dad, Mom, Leigh

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More Funk Than a Jazz Band

We just got home from a lovely dinner for my dad, who has a very big birthday to celebrate!

More on that tomorrow.

However, on our way home, it was late, we were tired, and a cute little woodland creature crossed in front of our car.

Matt decided to beep at it, in his infinite wisdom.

What creature was it, you ask?

A squirrel? A chipmunk? Possum?

No. Oh, no. Of course not.
Matt beeped at Stinky the Skunk.

And Stinky, as he is wont to do, decided to bestow on us a little gift.

Our car smells now.

The end.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What the Muck!

Ok. I admit it.

I am in love with a shoe website.

I've always had a love for all things related to shoes. I remember being in Catholic school and looking for any excuse to wear a shoe that made that adult "clip clip" sound when I sauntered around on heels, or, since I was still in first grade, my Easter shoes. Since Easter is just around the corner, it reminds me how much I love them. When I got my first pair of Western cowboy boots, I was in heaven - a visible sign to passerby that I was a rider, and boots that made the heel echo! Bliss!

But the shoes I love these days are a bit different. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing better than a gravity defying, lawn aerating stiletto. Love it. Boots, sandals, shooties, I love 'em!

There's another website that's gained my affection though.

Muck Boots Online.

Look how far the mighty hath fallen.

However, I don't think I've fallen far at all. In fact, quite the opposite. This website is the inspiration for my "From Manolos to Muck Boots" tag line/ title. It's no coinkey-dink.

After a major snowstorm we had, I needed to trek into NYC, and after a big storm, many NYC blocks aren't shoveled properly. Packed snow + lots of pedestrian traffic = ice. Lots and lots of ice.

I was smart, and wore these boots into the city. I'm not attaching a real photo of my boots, because they're covered in, well, muck. And that's not pretty. These are my barn boots - warm and sturdy.

Whilst traipsing across NYC, I was able to make strides with confidence - my other fellow walkers, however, did not, and could not. I ended up getting grabbed by not one, but two, wayward pedestrians since I was clearly the most surefooted of the lot. They either wanted me to cushion their fall, or be the steadfast person to keep their dignity intact, and keep them upright.

Basically, I didn't totally biff like this.
I also happened to get a pair of boots for Matt as an early Christmas gift not long after we moved, since he thought it would be a good idea to wear suede designer sneakers to kick down fence posts and move bales of hay. He stomped around the house looking like a fireman for the first 10 minutes, and then lived in them for the rest of the winter.

I'm a smart girl, yes I am. I wore my smarty pants that day.

Anywhoozles, I have a secret plan. Not so secret anymore, now that you know. I'm hoping to get a bazillion, quadrillion followers and commenters so the Muck Boot store will send me some products to test out and report back on the blog! I'm also hoping that eventually, I can do some nifty gifty giveaways to those loyal commenters, so they too can share in the Muck Boot Joy.

I'm also a big fan of Yaktrax, which I also get from the faboo Muck Boots Online store. Just sayin'.

I've been lusting after these. Or these. And these look nice too. Just in case you're listening, Muck Boot People. Just in case.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Botanical Quiz - Veggie Edition

Welcome back! Today we'll hopefully solve the mysteries of the vegetable garden. Before I sample any of the greenery I've found in there, maybe you fine folks can say, "DON'T EAT THAT!" It would really suck if I ended up trying to nosh on something and Matt comes home to me doing a faceplant in...well....an erroneous plant.

Many thanks to those of you who either commented or emailed me with some answers to yesterday's plants. I can't wait to see what crops up, and what I can actually grow!

Let's begin.
Absolutely no idea. When in doubt, rip it out. This goes for plants, bad hairstyles, and knitting. Not that I know about the knitting part, but I know some others that read this blog do!
This almost looks like basil to me. But when I ripped off a leaf...it smelled like nothing. Perhaps it's part of a mesclun salad?
These jobbies, I know these. These are chives. Too bad I don't like chives. But look how happy they are! Who wants to take home some chives?
I was absolutely over the moon to see this plant. This means I don't have to endure 9 months of pregnancy. We can just have a Cabbage Patch kid. Look, it's already cooking away in there! But are cabbage plants supposed to be furry like that?
These guys totally look like lettuce. And as a matter of fact, they're shaped in a very deliberate "L" pattern around the garden, so I know they're supposed to be in there, but what are they? Romaine? Iceberg? Lettuce find out! Yuk yuk yuk.
This guy looks very cool but I don't know if he serves a purpose. He also has a slightly furry/ thick leaf.
Look, here's the same plant, just more of it. I know. Riveting.
And then we have these rocket ship looking things, that also look like they belong in a mesclun salad, but then again, I always think a mesclun salad is just from someone mowing a lawn and putting the clippings on your plate. Hmm.
Now these guys, I have no idea. They're cute though, and nice leaves. Although I did scout something lying nearby that may be a clue, and I nearly ran back into the house in terror:
OH NOOOOOO! Not Brussels Sprouts! Those are just as bad as a weed! Unless anyone wants 'em, you're welcome to them, as long as they don't crowd the beloved tomatoes/ corn/ peppers/ strawberries/ bananas/ grapefruit/ coconuts I plan on growing.

Let the guessing begin!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Botanical Quiz

When we moved to TMF at the end of November....well, pretty much everything was dead. The grass, the garden, Matt's biceps from moving big boxes while I just pointed out the general direction they should be heading....and then we got snow.

Lots of snow.

I didn't see our grass for many months.

With the warmer temperatures finally showing up, I saw that we did, in fact, own some grass.

Lots of it.

And along with the grass, comes a lot of plants that the prior owners left behind. They had plants and flowers (and some nefarious bushes that look really weird where they're placed in our front yard), and also a vegetable garden, which I am delighted to get started on. I don't know what the heck I'm doing, but I'm excited to get started on it anyway.

I'm hoping my loyal, lovely blog readers can help me out with some plant identification! Here's what I'd like to know:
1. Is it a weed?
2. What IS it if it's not a weed?
3. Can I eat it or will I keel over? (This is more for the veggie garden post which will come next...I don't expect to be able to eat the plants in this post.)

Without further ado...

Look at these little cute things. I think they're day lilies, or daffodils, or something nice and springy like that. Obviously they're loving the fact that I sing wandering around the property, as they're cropping up amidst all that dead stuff down there. Do I get rid of that dead stuff? Old leaves and whatever plant it was last year?

Here's some more. I don't know how they got over there, they're hanging out with our Afro Bush.

See? Afro Bush. If you look just to the right of the trunk of the bush, there they are! I think this is a burning bush. All I know is it looks really cool after a fresh snowfall or ice storm. There's a random bush to the left of it that I am dying to pull out. It's totally random. I already said that.

Then we have this little box garden off the side of the house, with these happy little green viney guys. But what are they?
Here's a closeup of the leaves. Do they DO anything? Make flowers? Strawberries? Cosmopolitans?

Now, that would be pretty awesome, wouldn't it. A Martini Tree. A Martreeni!

We interrupt all the plant espionage to display our nice little dog pen area, for boarders or lesson students who want to bring their pups along for a nice afternoon in the country. The veggie garden is to the left of this. I hear a very special dog, Brody the Wonder Dog who belongs to the faboo Cynthia, will be gracing us with his presence.

Ok, back to the plants in question. This is in the front yard, and there's a matching plant conundrum on the other side of the front porch steps. I suspect those on the right are more day lilies, but what on Earth is on the left? And do I pluck off all those dead day lily leaves, if that is in fact, what they are?

Last but not least....there is a very random large, wooden half barrel/ bucket in our yard. Clearly it's for pretty flowers. There are a few of these semi-green clusters in the barrel. It looks official, but I do know weeds are quite good at shape-shifting and looking like they belong there, when they really don't. Impostors. Harumph.

Stay tuned to find out if I have a green thumb. If I don't....my mom does.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I spent some time yesterday blogging about how much fun I had horse shopping, giving lessons to my gal pals Kim, Aislinn and Cynthia, and I said I'd blog about my ride on Zeus today.

I have to admit: I was nervous. Not to ride Zeus, but because this was the first time anyone had seen Zeus under saddle, other than Matt. He's still very volatile and unpredictable, but I'd spent the past few weeks just getting him to trust me, and vice versa.

Yesterday (and today, as a matter of fact), Zeus turned on the charm, and absolutely blew me away. He was quiet, fairly focused (for a 4 year old), and it seemed we'd turned a corner on the trust factor. Even last week, if I'd had a loose rein, he'd bolt. Yesterday, I was able to walk him on a loose rein, as if we didn't have a care in the world.

Racehorses in particular are under stress when under saddle - they think they have to race every time, and unlearning that takes time, patience, and that word I keep throwing around - trust. Many times, the horses have a different jockey for every race - and every rider is different.
I love this photo. He's soft, coming down to the bit, and relaxing through his topline. That's taken weeks to accomplish, and the progress shows. I'm so proud of him. I am actually patting him and telling him how good he is...that's why I'm leaning forward a bit (thank you to Matt for telling me what I was doing when that pic was taken!).

But even in the quiet moments, Zeus has come so far.
Getting him to stand like that, on a loose rein, relaxed and alert...that's huge.

What a star my boy is. We are starting to become a team. I'm so crazy about him. He truly embodies the show name I gave him.....


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch n' Learn

Today is one of those days that really make me love what I do.

This morning, I met the lovely Julie and her husband Craig, who were interested in fostering/ adopting EZ Dollar, who I blogged about in my last post. They came to check out TMF, and I have a feeling we could have chatted all day, standing around in the field, while Craig went and made friends with Zeus (how can you not?). Julie is a lifelong horsewoman, with experience in hunter/ jumper and saddleseat. She's currently got a gorgeous show horse named Topper up for sale, and wants a fun youngster both she and Craig can enjoy.

After scoping out the farm, we all hopped in the car to see EZ. It was love at first sight, and I thought it would be! EZ was a gentleman and I think he'll really connect with Julie and Craig. So, I'm happy to report that in early April, EZ will be coming to stay here at TMF!

Of course, we visited the always personable Siggy, who will be coming on the trailer with EZ. April will be a busy month indeed!

Not long after we got home, three of my favorite people came. Aislinn, Kim, and Cynthia. Aislinn and Kim were both coming for a riding lesson, and Cynthia was the official photographer and is currently waiting with bated breath for Siggy's arrival, who I predict will be her newest love. Just a feeling I've got. Anyway.

Aislinn had never ridden before, and after some initial apprehension, relaxed and did beautifully!
Don't you think so? I think it's a little funny that I look very Italian in that photo. My hand gestures during a lesson must be interesting.
Topaz was a gem, and is such a good ambassador for beginning riders. She loved that Aislinn chatted with her the whole lesson.

I chatted a lot too. But that's what I get paid to do. That, and apparently make many hand gestures.

After Aislinn, Kim was the next rider up! Kim came all the way from Long Island, so that's some major dedication (not to mention faith in my teaching!). Kim had ridden regularly before, but it's been a few years. I did something very cruel to her and took away her stirrups towards the end of the lesson - and she had the best position then and had the best trot on Topaz! I think she was Lady Godiva in a past life. Really.
Look at that smile on Kim's face. That was before I took away her stirrups. She actually smiled after I did that, though. I promise.

Kim's one of those gals who is determined to do things the right way, and did a lovely job. You'd never know she hasn't ridden in years!

Once they had Jello legs and Topaz had been untacked, I hopped on Zeus so they could see him go. More on that tomorrow. But he was just a fistful of awesomeness!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

EZ on the Eyes

I would like you to meet EZ Dollar.

EZ is a horse I was looking at for a client, who is interested in a fun but safe project - a horse to enjoy. EZ is also a Thoroughbred like Zeus and Siggy, and he also lives at Akindale Farm, which I touched on in my last post about Siggy.
Isn't he cute?
He has some nicks from playing rough out in the field, or being a pushover...and a few areas where there isn't much fur from a blanket rubbing on him...but he sure is cute.

And such a good boy, too! The first thing he did when I walked up to him was snuffle my face. Yes, snuffle. As in, Snuffalufagus, or however you spell it. He was checking to see if I had nice breath. Which, I did. I made sure not to have coffee breath around the horses.

I love how Melissa was able to just pilot him around on a loose rein...that's a true mark of trust, and a horse that won't take advantage of its rider. Or more importantly...take off.

He will indeed make a lovely horse for someone who wants a bundle of cute, snuggly, easy to care for love. Perhaps, he'll end up at TMF.

We'll find out tomorrow - my client is coming with me to meet him! Wish us luck. It may be a match made in Heaven.

My Kingdom for a Horse

Today was an absolutely glorious, beautiful, sun-filled day. It also held a day of promise, excitement, and treasures to find, diamonds in the rough.


Not just any shopping, oh no. It's my absolute most favorite kind of shopping ever. Better than muck boots. Better than Manolos or Louboutin, Armani or Prada.

It was horse shopping day!

Today, we went to Akindale Farm in Pawling, NY, which is a very large Thoroughbred rescue organization just a stone's throw away from us. I met Erin, who runs the whole operation with ease, and Melissa, who rode beautifully and really let these horses shine. Some of these horses have never raced - some have been injured - some were pulled from a Kill Pen (a pen at an auction where they are headed for slaughter). Yes, it happens, and yes, many times it happens to horses that are abandoned, forgotten or otherwise mistreated, who are perfectly fine and just need someone who believes in them.

Anyway, I can't say enough kind things about these ladies, Erin and Melissa. They really want the best for the horses, and if a horse gets fostered or adopted out and then the new owner cannot care for it anymore, Akindale takes it back - they are a sanctuary in every sense of the word.

Having over 140 horses on 1000 acres, there's a ton to choose from, but we checked out 4 horses for our needs. I was looking for a horse for Matt and to teach some lessons on, a safe, level headed, and yet decent-sized mount. I was also looking for a client, but we'll get to that in the next post.

Now, some people think that all Thoroughbreds or racehorses are high-strung and hard to handle. It's true - sometimes, just like with any other breed. But in many cases, these horses have a "been there, done that" mentality - they are much more sane than most people think.

We were introduced to Pleasant Signal. He's a 10 year old, 16 hand horse who was pulled from a kill pen at New Holland, one of the worst auctions in the country. This horse was going to be killed for meat. And what a waste that would have been.

He's so special. Look at that face.

He's a nice mover too, with some freedom in his legs. It almost seems as though he's grateful for every step he takes, and wants to make sure the rider on him feels safe and secure. I think horses know when they get a second chance, as do most animals - and this guy deserves all the love he can soak up.
Look, he's smiling in that picture up above. He knows he's cute. That's Melissa, just hangin' out with him. He's that kind of horse. You could land a plane next to him and he'd not bat an eye.

I got to hop on and ride him a bit, and had a ball. He's as easy-going as it gets! I can just see him, with some muscle and more endurance training, and he would be the life of the party on a hunter pace.

Ah, yes. Horse shopping day is a fun day indeed. Especially when you meet a horse who deserves to know that he's worthwhile.

So, what do you think? Is Pleasant Signal (or Siggy as I am beginning to call him) a keeper?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bucket Ball

The horses are bored.

After the Rain/ Windfest of 2010, our field was a bit too wet to put the horses out. We built a temporary paddock which we call the Mud Paddock. It's a smaller outdoor space so the horses can still get turnout, even in inclement weather. It protects them and our pasture which, if we take care of it, will give them much delicious grass all through this season until next winter.

So, out they go into the mud paddock. Those ropes you see will become permanent fencing once the ground thaws enough to get real fenceposts in, but for now, the ropes are doing the trick. Topaz is a Houdini Horse though, so it's only a matter of time before she figures out an escape route to the grass. The paddock is filled with soft wood shavings and hay, so no matter what - ice, snow, mud, etc - they have good footing and traction.

Zeus, meanwhile, has decided to entertain himself. I really need to get him a basketball or a Jolly Ball (an actual horse toy) for amusement.

Isn't he cute? Topaz just gives him a pleading look, as if she's saying, "Are you really playing with a bucket? Really? So many other useful things you can be doing with your time. Like me, looking pretty. It's a lot of work, you know."

Don't worry Zeus. You get to go out into the field tomorrow.

*Note*: For those of you who get my blogs in email, you have to click on the actual blog link in order to see the videos. Just a heads up!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Generate Good Times, Come On!

Cue the cheesy 80's Music!

We were jammin' just like that just a few hours ago. Matt was jammin' just like that lead singer guy. I guess that's Kool? Minus the Gang? I even donned the white disco shoes to play my part and did that funky kick thing. I was holding a pitchfork instead of a saxophone.

Don't feel you have to watch the entire video, it's just so everyone "gets" my post title, tee hee.

Seriously, we are delighted we have the ability to listen to ANY music right about now. If you live in the Northeast, you know what I'm talking about. Windswept rain, and more wind on top of that. All day, and all night. Fun!

We went out at about 7:30 last night to get groceries and pick up a pizza. Yawn. Yes, we have a roaring social life up here, don't we? We look a little sheepish as a young, hip couple pushing a grocery cart on a Saturday night. We give off the impression that we're going out *after,* because you know in NYC, you don't leave your house for a club until at least 11:30 PM.


We returned amidst down trees, power lines, and closed roads. And our house was dark. So was everyone else's. So we made the best of it....pizza by candlelight, reading magazine articles for each other's amusement, there was beer and hard cider in there somewhere...and eventually, calling the electric company to report the outage, just in case anyone else hadn't. I was told by the automated person that our power was estimated to be restored at 7 PM Sunday evening. It was 10 PM Saturday evening when I called.


So we set up House Camp, candles all over, and eventually, woke up in a chilly and still dark house. Goody! I used what little juice was left in my cell phone to see if there was an update on our power being restored, and was told by the same cheery autobot that it would be 8 PM Monday evening!

Egads indeed.

So I woke up Matt, told him the great news (he was really awake then) and off to Home Depot we went, with a stop at Dunkin' Donuts so I wouldn't whine about going coffeeless. We got ourselves a fancy schmancy generator! And all the bells and whistles you need with one. Oil for something, plugs for something else, bigger gage, gas, gas cans, and I tossed in some grass seed to our cart when Matt wasn't looking.

We got our lovely new toy home and Matt began to set it up while I went in search of white shoes in which to celebrate, erm, generate with.
There it is! Our savior! This photo was taken about 10 seconds before Matt (who was on my right) began throwing tools and swearing enough to make our driveway pavement blush.

It was so effusive that Topaz came over to the fence to have a look:

Zeus did too, but he didn't seem to be terribly bothered by it:
He must have gotten used to cussing at the track.

After some more colorful language and me plaintively cheering him on (and staying out of his way), we were up and running!
We had enough juice for all the important things...fridge, cell charger, blackberry charger, iPhone charger.....who needs heat when you have WiFi?

All's well that ends well. About an hour after our generator was humming away, our power came back on.

So we celebrated. So did our credit card company - that generator wasn't cheap!