Sunday, July 23, 2017

I Need a Whip Rack and a New Camera

Some people have gun racks on their vehicles.  I need a whip rack for my Kawasaki Mule.  The weather has changed again, which means that my barn chore routine has to adapt.  I was driving the Mule up the barn aisle after locking all the horses in their stalls at mealtimes, but now we are getting hit by monsoon storms every evening at dinnertime.  The barn gets so muddy that I can't differentiate between the mud and manure, so I have to clean up in the middle of the day.

That means the horses are loose, and I have to chase them away from the gate and keep them away long enough for me to run back to the Mule and drive it in, hop out, and shut the gate behind me.  So far, Lostine and Bombay have been the naughty one who have tried to escape.  Every time I try to drive in, they watch me closely and wait for an opening to race past me out into the yard where they can have their pick of weeds.  As long as I have the whip with me and keep cracking it, they stay away, but I have to set it down in order to drive.  I don't have power steering, so I need both hands on the wheel.

When I try to set the long whip down across my lap or the dump bed, it often falls or the tail of it slips under the tires or into the engine.  Today the tip of the stiff part got stuck in my hair, and I was wrestling to get it out while Bombay was charging the open gate.  I'm thinking about jury-rigging a whip rack so that I can attach the whip to the driver's side of the Mule, easily pull it out when I need it, and put it away when I don't.  I'm not sure how to do it yet, but I'll come up with something.

Today while I was cleaning stalls, Bombay walked up to the front of the Mule and began rubbing his muzzle around on the hood.  I got in the driver's seat and figured he'd move out of the way, but he just stood there with his chest against the grill.  I honked the horn twice and he didn't react at all.  I clucked my tongue and pointed, but he was being belligerent.  I ended up backing up and driving around him.

We are having unusual temperatures of July.  We are actually dropping below 100 on some days.  The humidity is horrible, but at least we don't have the high temps to go with it.  We noticed that there were about twice as many people in the market this weekend as there were the weekend before, and they looked like they were from out of state.  I know that some of the northern states are actually suffering from higher temperatures than us, so I'm guessing that the snowbirds are coming to Arizona in the summer now to escape the heat in addition to coming here in the winter to escape the cold.  I never thought I'd see the day that would happen.  And some people say that Global Warming is a myth.

My husband called to me that there was a snake outside, so I grabbed my camera and scurried out.  As I was walking through the garage, he said, "Look up."

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked up horrified, expecting to see a snake hanging from the rafters in the garage, but I didn't see anything.  He said, "I changed the light bulbs."

I said, "Don't tell me there's a snake and then tell me to look up!  I nearly had a heart attack."

The snake turned out to be a good sized gopher snake.  He or she posed for a few photos.





Of course it was in the one junk pile we have on our property.  My point and shoot camera has been a stinker lately.  It refuses to zoom and/or focus in a timely manner when I'm taking pictures of wildlife.  My husband said, "Get a new camera already!"

The problem is it has a 60x zoom, and is therefore more temperamental.  I'm thinking of getting something closer to half that amount of zoom in hopes of having a more responsive camera.  Does anyone have a point and shoot with a fast zoom and auto-focus they can recommend?

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Lorazepam Kind of Day

I had one goal for the day:  Come hell or high water, I was going to the gym.  So far, I've only made it to the gym one day this week and I only have a one-month membership.  Life just keeps getting in the way of me being able to take care of myself.

Earlier in the week, I planned to go to the gym mid-afternoon, but something always came up that prevented me from going, so today I planned to hit the gym first thing in the morning, giving myself the entire day to deal with postponements.  I got all of my chores done and was on my way out the door when my husband said that Lostine wasn't looking so good.  I knew she had an upset stomach, because she wasn't eating, but now she had progressed to stretching her legs out in opposite directions.

So, I aborted my plans to go to the gym and hiked down to the barn to administer a variety of medications and supplements to Lostine.  She wasn't eating the powdered Bute on the psyllium, so I had to wet it down to make mash.  However, this morning our water system sprung a leak, so my husband shut it off.  I had to hike all the way back to the house to fill the bucket in the kitchen sink.  On my way in the door, I was so disoriented by the heat that I slammed the door on my foot and screamed.

I let my husband take the mash to Lostine and put her in a stall while I rested my foot and leg and re-hydrated.  Or at least I tried to rest.  Midge was tippy-tapping on the tile floor, pacing nervously back and forth.  I couldn't take it anymore, and I grabbed the nail clippers and started trimming her toenails, only she wasn't having any of it.  She fought me the whole way.  It was during that struggle that I was reminded just how bad my dog stinks.  I hobbled into the bathroom and ran some water, and then bathed all three dogs and attempted to brush their teeth.  I'm completely fed up with disgusting dog smells.  I recently steam-vacced the carpet, but that didn't get the urine smell out, so I've been spraying the carpet with Febreeze and airing the house out every time the temperatures drop and we get a decent breeze.

By the time I was done with the dogs, Lostine was down on her side in the corner of the stall.  She looked stiff and wasn't moving.  My husband and I ran out of the house, but Lostine jumped up as soon as I opened the gate to get into the barn.  I walked her around the arena, but just didn't have it in me to keep walking her with my leg pain.  I considered getting in my Mule and leading her beside it, but with the way the day was going, I figured that would be a recipe for disaster.  I told my husband there wasn't anything more I could do for her, and she would just have to either pull out of it or pass away.  With it being a Friday afternoon, I doubted I could get my vet out.  She doesn't seem to make room in her schedule for emergencies anyway.  She likes to do the maintenance appointments, and I think she prefers that her clients call other vets for the emergency situations.

We kept an eye on Lostine and she did get better throughout the afternoon.  I spent most of my time dealing with the dogs.  It seemed that every time I tried to get anything done, some dog had to go outside immediately.  All I wanted to do was to rest my leg so that I could get to the gym, but I was up and down and up and down non-stop because of the dogs.

At one point Scrappy was taking too long to pick a spot to relieve himself, so I dropped his leash and I went to the end of the driveway to pick up the mail.  When I returned to Scrappy, he was in the garage standing behind my husband's car, and he was stuck there because his leash was caught on something.  Right then my husband came running out of the house and jumped into his car, because he was late for an appointment.  I scooped Scrappy up before he was run over.  It scared me to think what would have happened if I returned to the garage just a few seconds later.

It got to be evening and I still hadn't made it to the gym.  I was thinking of trying to get there before closing time, but first I had to feed the animals their dinner.  I fed the dogs a little early and took them outside to relieve themselves.  There was a really pleasant wind and I could see that the dogs were enjoying it just as much as I was.  Even the horses were out chasing each other around celebrating this sudden cool down.

The sky was cloudy, but quiet.  The wind got stronger and stronger, and I began to feel alarmed.  I felt the first few sprinkles of raindrops and gathered the dogs to head back into the house, but before we took a step in that direction, a sudden flash of lightning struck overhead so close to us that I screamed.

I began dragging the dogs toward the garage, but they were scared and digging their heels in.  Then the deafening thunder hit and I screamed again.  Next thing I knew, my husband was taking the leashes from me, but they were wrapped around my legs.  He was yelling at me to get in the house, but I couldn't because I was all tangled up with the dogs.  Then the sky opened up and blinding rain was flying at us sideways, completely soaking our clothes.  I began spanking dogs to get them moving while my husband tried dragging them.  They were petrified, and there was no bringing them to their senses.  I climbed out of the tangle of leashes.

We got inside and the windows had no visibility because they were soaked as if someone was power washing them.  We were hearing things crashing against the house, but couldn't get outside to investigate because of the lightning.  We received nearly an inch of rain in an hour, and lost all our TV reception.  Our front pathway was under water...

A small tree branch snapped and fell on our telescope...

The fence at the back of our property blew down again...

The riding arena was flooded...

See the Jolly Ball floating in the water?

The horses huddled in the barn, even though it was flooded...

Our 16-foot trailer was blown several feet to the side of where it was previously parked next to the wheelbarrow.  I suspect it slid with the block of wood a ways, and then eventually fell off it.

The arroyo in our backyard was flooded with more water than we had ever seen...


I had a metal fold up chair sitting on the trail that leads to the arroyo to discourage people from trespassing, and the chair was swept away by the flood waters.  I spotted it later upside down in some debris...

I tried to step in at the edge to attempt to grab it, but my rain boots got sucked down into the mud about a foot and a half deep and the floodwaters were flowing super fast.  I pulled my legs out and figured I'd dig the chair out of the mud in the morning.

When the big storm cell moved through and we had another one on the way, I went to the barn to just throw some hay in the horses' feed barrels.  I wasn't going to attempt to clean up manure of give them grain.  Rock and Lostine grabbed the first two barrels that I filled, and I needed to enter the barn to fill the other two, but Bombay and Gabbrielle were blocking the aisle.  Gabbrielle's butt was facing me and quivering.  She was so terrified that she was shaking all over.

I feared that she might kick me if I brushed past her, so I tried to be careful, but Bombay was being super aggressive about barging up to me to rip the hay out of my arms.  I yelled at him several times, but he was determined to eat out of my arms, so I smacked him on the nose and yelled, "Back!"

Gabbrielle started spinning around and alerted on something on the hill, so I had to dodge having her knock me down.  I quickly shoved the hay into the feed troughs and then looked up to see all these people standing in my backyard on the hill filming the floodwaters.  No wonder my horses were so nervous.

My husband ran down there to check out the flood himself, and all the people beat it out of there.  I guess our reputation precedes us.  Absolutely, no trespassers.  I can appreciate that people want to keep an eye on this particular arroyo, because it is the widest and deepest one coming out of the mountains, and if it overflows, it affects everyone.  But there are plenty of places where people can watch it without trespassing in my backyard.  I figured they got me on film smacking my horse across the face, and that will end up on the Internet for everyone to judge.

By the time I was done dealing with all of that, I knew the gym just wasn't going to happen for me today, so I popped a Lorazepam to calm my nerves, and now I'm ready for bed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Snippets 2

The Blessings and Curses of a Wet Heat

The humidity hit our area a couple of weeks ago.  Interestingly, my leg has been improving with the extra moisture in the air.  I'm still in pain, but it's a pain I can ignore for the most part.  I've been able to do my barn chores and go to the gym without a cane to take the brunt of my weight.  I even walked to the barn and cleaned stalls using the old wagon last night, leaving the Mule parked in the garage.  All of this gives me hope than when the temps cool down, I will be able to ride horses again.

Of course, the downside of the humidity is that there's no point in taking showers, because you get a sweat shower every time you walk outside.  Your hair sticks to your head and face, and your clothes get molded onto your skin.  It's like diving into a lake.

Also, we haven't had any flies until the humidity set in.  I've been skeptical that all the money I've been sinking into fly control has done any good, so I'm doing an experiment this year of using nothing more than fly masks and fly spray.  No Fly Predators.  No Fly Eliminators.  No fly traps.  Amazingly, this has been the best fly season ever.  But that could have more to do with the weather than my fly management decisions.  I'm just glad that I haven't been paying for bugs since February, only to have the first flies show up in July.  I saved myself a couple of hundred bucks.  I know the worst is yet to come, though.  September is the worst fly month in Arizona.


Horse Training is Easier Than Dog Training

In all fairness, all four of my horses have their health, their hearing and their eyesight, while two out of three of my dogs do not.  My big training effort lately has been to get animals to give me my space.  Apparently, Midge and Scrappy are somehow tuned into movement, so every time that I get up to walk somewhere, they appear out of nowhere to block my path.  They are notorious for blocking the narrowest spots on my path, usually doorways.  If I go outside, I can't get inside, because they stand in the door frame and refuse to move.  If I take them outside and then bring them in, I can't get the door shut, because they stop in the door frame and refuse to move.

It hurts me to have to bend over and physically move them, so I usually shove them out of my way with my foot.  Their stubbornness is exasperating, because they always come right back to the same spot before I can push through, so I've had to get aggressive with them and keep pushing them down the hallway until they give up and run under a table.

Then there's the horses.  They gather around my Mule or in my direct path when I'm trying to drive it, and all I have to do is say their names, cluck my tongue and point.  They immediately move to the spot where I am pointing and get out of my way.  I don't have to do anything physical beyond lifting my arm.  It's wonderful.

When things get to a point where I'm tempted to punt kick a dog across the house, I usually gather my purse and keys, get in my truck and go somewhere to get away from them and cool off.  Unfortunately, taking walks in parks has not worked in my favor since my goal is to get some space and alone time.  There is almost always some stranger with a loose dog who spots me and makes a beeline for me, and next thing I know I've got someone else's dog doing figure 8's around my legs.  That what sucks about living in a retirement community.  Everyone is looking for someone to socialize with... except for me.

I miss being able to ride my horses.  That was the way I used to get away from the dogs and get my alone time.   I hardly saw anyone on the bridle trails this past year, and the few people I did meet up with were just like me... looking for some alone time.


Another Horsey Video Game

I found another video game in which your character rides horses, only this one is more complex and realistic than games I've played in the past.  THE WITCHER III - WILD HUNT measures your horse's fear level while you are in combat, and if you don't manage your horse properly, it will dump you and take off.  I've been dumped when I tried to get my horse to outrun some wolves.  I guess it's better to dismount and fight.  The horse is also not an entirely obedient animal in stress-free situations.  Sometimes you ask it to go, and it balks.  They have dialog programmed in where the rider talks to his horse to get it to behave.  I'm continually astounded by the advancements being made in video games in order to strive toward a more realistic feel.  They certainly did their research when it comes to horse behavior.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer Snippets 1

Since I can't ride my horses in the summer and share the stories of my rides, I have a tendency to write about a hodgepodge of topics.  I'm calling these my "summer snippets".


Serger Success

I did finally get my serger threaded.  Once the new power cord for my laptop arrived, I was able to find a video in which the instructor didn't overlook the last three steps of each phase.  She even added in a step of her own, and that did the trick to fix the problem I was having.  So, that means I got the final edge of that blouse serged.  I don't know when it will be wearable, though.  I have piles of clothing patterns for both me and the dogs, and fabrics waiting to be sewn, but I haven't been able to get to them because I have such persistent sewer's block when it comes to completing this blouse I've been constructing from scratch for the past few years.  I brilliantly wanted to design and construct a top like the Project Runway contestants, not considering the fact that I have no training in fashion design.  You seriously have to be born with engineering sensibilities to do this.  I admire designers and tailors and seamstresses.

My father was a civil engineer and he taught me how to design and build race cars.  We made them together, but he did the majority of work.  He got way more enjoyment out of those projects than I did.  I just liked to drive them and win.


Mule Matters

The horses are all totally desensitized to the Mule now.  It only took a couple of days for them to relax, and now I can race it right up to them and they don't budge.  I park it beside them and let it idle, and they act like it's not even there.  I did have to train them to not eat it, so they know the Mule is off limits to their muzzles.  The only thing I worry about now is that if I come across an ATV while horseback riding, my horses might run up to it to see if it is bringing them hay.

Even the wild rabbits and lizards come running when I drive up.  One rabbit always hops underneath the Mule when I park it, so I have to shoo the rabbit out of there before starting the engine.  I was worried that the engine noise would bother the neighbors, but when I had the Mule idling on one side of the hay barn, and I walked to the other side of it, just 12-feet away, I couldn't hear the engine at all.


My Mare Speaks English

The other morning I found Gabbrielle with a bare face and no fly mask.  She's usually very protective of her fly mask and won't let the geldings rip it off her.  I touched my face, and then touched her face and asked, "Where's your fly mask?"

She turned her head all the way around and pointed with her nose at a water trough.  I walked over there and looked inside.  Sure enough, there was her fly mask floating in the water tank.  Sometimes that mare stuns me with how intelligent she can be.


My Old Haunt

My daughter and her boyfriend took a trip to both their hometowns where they grew up, and she sent me pictures of our old house.  We still own it and rent it out, but haven't seen it in five years.  I was shocked by what I saw.  First off, remember my crazy neighbors who turned the property next door into a junkyard with their hoarding habits?  Well, my renters are giving them some competition.  Junk everywhere.  The man runs a gardening business, so he has a bunch of trailers, and he had tools and a cement mixer and all kinds of stuff just lined up around the perimeter of my house.

They nailed some kind of sign to the garage by the walkway.  I couldn't read it, but I certainly did not give them permission to nail stuff into the siding of my house.  Also, we had paid for and installed two traffic signs that said, "Private Road - 10 mph" along the street, which was on land we own, and someone moved one of the signs off the street and onto our driveway.  Again, we didn't give anyone permission to do that.  That's totally something the crazy neighbors would have done.  Trying to convince them that they didn't own the whole neighborhood was difficult.  The first thing they did when they moved in was to take down the street sign, because it didn't have the same street name on it as their legal address.  We bought a new street sign and put it up so that delivery truck drivers could find us, and those neighbors tried taking the new sign down again.  They finally got smart and just changed their legal address to match the name on the street sign, which was much shorter a name than the original street their house was associated with.  These are the types of problems you have when you move into a subdivision that was built on what used to be farm land, and the original farm houses had addresses associated with the nearest highway.

There was this little wild tree that seeded in a pot filled with dirt that had been sitting at the edge of our lawn for years.  We let it grow, and it took root right through the pot into our lawn.  That tree is now so huge that it blocks the driveway, so the renters can't park in the driveway or get their vehicles into the garage.  They never mentioned that problem to us.  The man is a gardener, so I'm surprised he hasn't trimmed it back.  If only the tree were that big when I lived there, the dog walking neighbor couldn't have seen into my windows from the street.

The barns are totally dilapidated.  They need serious sanding and staining.  The corral at the back of the RV lane is busted with boards just hanging there.  It amazes me how the renters have been nickle and diming me over every appliance that doesn't quite work right, and they even went so far as to request that I replace all the windows on the house because cold air was seeping in, but they won't mention a broken fence.  Also, without horses there, both the RV lane and the dry lot are covered in weeds.  I'm rather astounded by that, because I lived in that house for nearly 20 years, and the RV lane, which was covered in landscaping rock, had never been taken over by weeds.  There'd be a few weeds here and there, but I guess from me walking back and forth on it, the lane stayed mostly rock.  I heard Stephen Colbert joking about the governor of Nevada calling a state of emergency over weed.  I caught the tail end of his spiel and thought he was referring to the weeds that grow out of control and kill everything in their path, but it turns out he was talking about a shortage of legal marijuana.

All I can say is that it looks like the people who live in our house have been smoking pot.  Also, the junkyard neighbors appear to have built some kind of shed right up against the fence to my horse paddock.  I hope it blocks people's view of all that junk.  I would have preferred to have something like that there than all those broken down vehicles.  I looks like the roof overhangs onto our property.  The horses would have shredded that in an instant.

The one neighbor on the other side of me who keeps her property pristine and weed-free must be digging herself an early grave after seeing how the neighborhood has gone downhill so fast.  I'll bet she regrets all those years that she hassled us to paint our house, spray our weeds and trim our trees.  At least she never had to ask us to clean up our junk and bulldoze the barns and corrals.  We're probably looking like we were pretty good neighbors compared to what she's dealing with now.


Rock Wars

Yesterday my husband and I went painted rock hunting.  Usually, all the really nice rocks get snatched up within an hour of them being hidden, because the hiders are really bad about announcing exactly where they hid them online.  I only had about half an hour to search, and we weren't at the park for more than ten minutes when this woman and her teenage daughter swooped in and somehow managed to sweep away everything in a matter of seconds.  I was so frustrated.  I didn't want it to be a competition.  I just wanted to take a nice, relaxing walk and feel delighted to stumble upon some pretty rocks.

I approached them and asked if I could see the rocks they found.  I enjoy looking at the paint jobs and the creative ideas that people come up with.  The lady said that they were going to just keep a couple of them and re-hide the rest.  It was too late for me to look for them, because I had to get home to feed the animals.  I wish they had arrived either earlier or later.

The woman was getting on my nerves, because she kept following me around and pointing at rocks right next to me saying, "There's one!" and then running over to grab it.  She'd hide it in her hand like a little child saying, "It's mine!" and I'd have to ask to see it so that I could enjoy it too.  The annoying thing is that she should have been looking in her own location instead of trying to beat me to the ones that were near me.  That would have been the polite thing to do, but I've learned that not many people around here consider the feelings of others.  I'm convinced that survival of the fittest is evolving into survival of the most selfish.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Day in The Life

I had a crazy day last week.  I was waiting for the repairman to come fix my ice maker for the second time.  The original appointment is either for morning or afternoon during a four hour window, and the company is supposed to call to narrow the arrival time down to an hour, but I never received that call.  So, I just sat around all afternoon waiting.  I didn't want to get involved in any activity that couldn't be interrupted, but I wanted to be productive and keep busy.  I decided to hand-sew the pleats for a blouse I've been working on for a couple of years now.  That was something I could put down at any time and pick up where I left off later.

I started sewing by hand, and then realized that I still had one edge that needed to be run through the serger.  I thought, "I can do that really quick."

I got three inches in and one of the threads ran out.  If you know anything about sergers, there are four threads that get woven together by the machine.  This was a brand new machine that came with four threads pre-threaded, so I had never threaded the machine myself before.  I had seen videos and read directions on how to do it, and I was worried that most of it went over my head.  I dreaded the day a thread ran out, and of course, the day I am waiting for a refrigerator repairman had to be that day.

I watched an instructional video on my laptop computer, tried to follow the directions, but couldn't get the machine working properly.  I slowed the video down and watched it frame by frame, but still could not get the serger working.  That's when I received a low battery warning from my computer.  Huh?

My laptop was plugged into the wall.  It shouldn't have been running on battery.  I made sure all the cord ends had full connections, and they did, but my computer was not recognizing the power cord.  I tested the power cord in a different outlet, and still no juice.  That meant the power cord had shorted out and I had to find another one.  I dug around the house, but couldn't find any extra power cords that would work with my laptop, so I had to order a new one online.  Just as I was searching for one in a browser, the refrigerator repairman called and said he was on his way.

I had to shut down my computer really quick before the last bit of battery died and before I could order a new power cord.  I had to get the dogs outside quickly, and then shut them in a back bedroom after they relieved themselves.  As I was coming around a corner to put a leash on Scrappy, I found him unloading his bladder into his diaper.  Nice.  He couldn't wait two seconds.  I have to be careful not to let the dogs know that my energy is up, because they will instantly wake up and pee wherever they are standing.

After locking the dogs up, I brought them a bowl of water, and when I opened the door, I found Scrappy climbing on Midge's back, totally gnawing on her tumor causing it to bleed.  I screamed and snatched him off her, and tossed his butt into the bathroom.  This has happened the last three times repairmen have come to our house, and I keep forgetting that I have to separate those two dogs or I'll end up with another veterinary bill.

I quickly cleaned the bleeding tumor and put a bandage on it.  There had been a bandage on it before, but I suspect that Scrappy swallowed it.

The repairman made the exact same "fix" the last guy did and was ready to walk out the door.  I said, "Is there any way you can test your work so that we don't have to be calling you out here again in a few days?"

He acted like he had never thought of that, but it was a good idea.  I breathed down his neck while he conducted the test.  It seemed to work, but I was still skeptical.  He said, "If you have problems again, call me."

I must have gotten an exasperated expression on my face, because he stopped short and said, "Either that or lower the water pressure behind the fridge."

Ding. Ding. Ding.  That was the right answer.  Our water pressure varies, so that would explain why the ice maker sometimes works and sometimes gets frozen.  Hopefully, that's the permanent fix.

I went to let the dogs out of their respective rooms after the repairman left, and I found Scrappy lying in a pile of shredded trash chewing on a sanitary napkin.  I always keep that trash can up high on the toilet tank, but our toilet tank had overflowed, and I never returned the trash can to its rightful spot.  Now I was paying for it.  It's tough having neurotic dogs.  And a house that is falling apart.

It just seems that no matter how hard I try to prevent problems, they still manage to come at me from all directions.  I returned to my laptop and quickly ordered that power cord.  Then I realized that I couldn't keep watching videos to help me thread the serger, so I had to abandon sewing that blouse too.   I suspect it will sit on the sewing table for another year.  I had to go three days without being able to access the Internet instead of two, because I just missed the Prime shipping deadline in the half hour that the refrigerator repairman was here.

I did join a gym and have been working out when I get the chance, but there have been a lot of interruptions.  Every time I'm planning on going to the gym, someone or something gets in the way, so I have to be persistent in my attempts to get out the door.  Once I get there, it's smooth sailing, because no one knows I'm there, so no one can take me away from it.  I like it a lot better than trying to workout in my home gym where I've got dogs crawling all over me while I'm doing sit-ups, salespeople coming to the door, my phone ringing, and explosions going on around the neighborhood.  Even though the gym is filled with people, it's so much more peaceful and orderly.

The facilities are beautiful.  There is the second story track that people can run around.  In the center of the track, on the first floor, is a gymnasium.  The runners can look down and see people playing basketball or badminton.  One wall of the building is windows, and we have a full view of the desert and mountains.  They set up some of the cardio machines in front of the windows.  I can stay on one machine a lot longer than I can at home, because there are so many interesting things to look at.  I can see coyotes trotting around in the desert while I'm pedaling a bike.

They also have a lot of fun weight lifting equipment.  I've never been into barbells, but some of the machines they have make lifting weights enjoyable.  It's good to know that even on the days when I can't put any weight on my leg, I can still exercise my arms.  They also have an elevator to the second floor so that I don't have to blow out my knee going up and down the stairs.  Some people give me funny looks for riding the elevator instead of extending my workout by taking the stairs, but I don't care.  I'm sure some day they will grow old and get arthritis and then they will understand.

The other day I heard a siren coming up our cross street while I was dragging in the trash bin.  The siren stopped at the end of our street, and then I saw a fire truck barreling toward me with its lights on.  The driver braked when he saw me.  I didn't want him to think I was the one who called for help, so I turned away and looked up the street to see if there was any smoke.  The driver got my body language and kept going.  He stopped two doors down at the jack-hole's house -- the guy who came to our door to threaten us after we asked him to stop racing his ATV around in front of our house for hours on end shredding the landscaping and spewing toxic fumes through our windows.  I don't know why the fire truck was there, but it left about half an hour later.  Hopefully, his ATV spontaneously combusted.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My Heroes

I have one dog and one horse who always come to my rescue, so I am calling them my heroes.  Do you want to take a guess at who I'm talking about?  Go ahead.  Take a guess.

My dogs are Midge the Corgi, Scrappy the black Chiweenie, and Stewie the tan Chi-pin.

My horses are Lostine the chestnut Arabian mare, Bombay the gray Arabian gelding, Gabbrielle the gray Arabian mare, and Rock the dun QH gelding.

In the case of my hero dog, this particular animal senses my emotions even before I am aware of them.  If I begin to get upset because another dog is having an accident on the carpet, my hero dog races over to the offending dog and barks at it to try to get it to stop.  Of course, I don't know how you can voluntarily stop vomit, but at least this dog tries to help me.

My hero dog also drags other dogs out of my way by their ears when they are getting under my feet and tripping me.  My hero dog is always the first to alert me when there is a stranger on the property, be it human or animal.  My hero dog even lets me know if the horses are misbehaving.

This one is probably pretty easy to guess, because it's the only dog who still has good hearing and eyesight, which is Stewie!

My hero horse also senses my emotions and helps me out whenever possible.  This horse has learned from watching me, and tries to imitate what I would do if I still had two good legs.  There was a time when I would chase the horses around with a long whip if they were misbehaving, but I can't do that anymore, so my hero horse does is on my behalf, minus carrying the long whip.

My hero horse tattles on the other horses by looking me in the eyes, and then pointing with its nose at the offenders.  My hero horse walks up to me and taps me on the shoulder when it needs to tell me something important.  My hero horse is always the first to alert on danger, whether it exists or not.  (Big clue there.)

But my hero horse also is the first to let me know if another horse is sick or injured, going so far as to protect the horse and lead me to it.  My hero horse always tries its hardest to learn new tricks, and is the most responsive when I ask it to go somewhere or do something for me.  My hero horse takes good care of itself so that I never have to tend to self-inflicted injuries, and my hero horse also grooms itself on the fence so that I rarely have to take a curry comb to its fur.  My hero horse holds perfectly still when I hug it and when I work around it, so as not to step on my feet.

Have you figured it out yet?  I'm talking about Gabbrielle!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Tested Left and Right

I'm going through one of those phases I call "a testing period", because it seems that the universe is testing me to see if I actually learned my lesson the last ten times this or that happened.  I definitely learn my lessons.  The problem is that each solution I put into play fails because the problem figures out some workaround to beat the solution.  After I've invested so much money and time and energy into trying to solve a problem that refuses to be solved, I tend to go into my "pretend like it doesn't exist and maybe it will go away" mode.  In some cases, I'm considering just hiring someone else to deal with the hassles, because I'm tired.  I'm starting to see the value in living the lowest maintenance lifestyle possible.

I don't expect to live a completely problem-free life.  I just expect to not have all the problems hit me simultaneously, and I expect to get rest periods in between... like normal people do.

Our weekend began with me hearing it raining outside while the sun was shining.  Problem alert.

The wild rabbits chewed through our drip system again despite me leaving them bowls of water to partake from, and we had water spraying up into the air and splattering all over our front porch.  The last thing my husband needed with his bad back was to be getting down on the ground to replace drip system parts.  He spent hours working on it and was in pain after.

When my brother and I flew the coop, my parents gave themselves the present of hiring a gardening company and a housekeeping company to maintain their property.  I'm thinking it's time that my husband and I look into doing that.  I don't think I have seriously cleaned house since Christmas, and I doubt I could do it again if I tried.

The reason why my water bowl solution didn't work was because the coyotes found the bowl and slurped up all the water, causing the bowl to run dry sooner than expected, so the rabbits had to get their water from somewhere.  I guess I'll have to check the bowl every few hours now.

The farrier came to trim hooves, and Lostine was struggling to stand on three legs.  I'd never seen her that bad before.  I asked the farrier if he's ever trimmed a horse with such bad arthritis that he can't lift a hoof to trim it.  He said he's done many.  I asked how he adapts, and he said, "Anyway I can.  If I have to trim the hooves while the horse stands on them, I do.  Usually, I can set the hoof on the stand and let the horse put it's weight on the stand while I trim."

The next morning I found Lostine stretching instead of eating.  I thought she was sore from the trim, but then she went into her colic pose.  Problem alert.

Throughout all the health problems I've dealt with between my dogs and me this year, I was thankful that the horses were low maintenance and not in need of any special medical attention.  Now it's the horses' turn for their health to go south.  Fortunately, on the morning I found her colicking, my leg was feeling pretty good, so I was able to deal with having to walk all over kingdom come to locate various medications and supplies.  However, by the time I was done with all that walking, I had totally wrecked the leg and had to spend the rest of the day on the couch.

I later listened to Lostine's gut in four places with the stethoscope, and I found healthy gut sounds and no sand noises in each location.  My doctoring worked.  If there's anything I'm good for, it's helping horses survive colic.  Pretty much everything else I do is completely ineffectual.

Then our ice maker broke for the umpteenth time.  This should not be happening with a brand new, top of the line, most expensive refrigerator.  People pay extra money for good quality products so that they don't to have to deal with hassles.  So, I get to spend my morning on the phone with the warranty company and a repairman trying to get that fixed again.  You suck, LG.  The next worst thing besides having your air conditioner, electricity, or water go out during the summer, is having your ice maker go out.  Everything you drink has to be hot.  Even the drinks you pull out of the fridge get hot within a few minutes of being in your hand.  I rely on ice water to cool my inner organs down after I've been outside literally boiling.  Ice water is a life saver.  I may have to go to the store and buy a bag of ice if they can't get out here right away.

I ended my physical therapy, mainly because my quality of care took a nosedive when the company was bought out, and the staff members they kept in the mass layoff hurt me when they stretched me out.  This one physical therapist pushed my leg up and back toward my face, and each time he'd turn around to talk to someone else, he'd push it into me several inches further when I was already at my breaking point.  He said, "Why are you shaking?"

I said through the tears in my eyes, "Because this is extremely painful."

He said, "You can take it."

Yeah, and you can take being out of a job in a few months because you've lost all your patients.  My original physical therapist was so thoughtful and so professional.  It just blows me away how companies can do mass layoffs based upon nothing other than seniority.  I'd be keeping the employees who offer the best quality services.

If my day isn't completely sucked up by the ice maker, I'm planning on joining a gym today to keep up with my stretches and exercises on my own.

While all of that was going on, I received a communication from someone from my past who wanted something from me that was going to require a tremendous amount of my time and energy.  She started out by saying, "I hope you are doing well.  Now here's what I need from you..."

Hey!  How about actually asking how I am doing before telling me what you want me to do?  Then you could find out that I'm not doing well enough to do what you want me to do.

Have you ever known one of these people who create chaos everywhere they go?  You can attempt to complete a simple task or simple communication with them, but they turn everything into a huge production and make it way more difficult and time-consuming than necessary?  Yeah.  This is one of those people.

I started thinking about how this would be a really bad time to open that Pandora's Box, so I made the decision to protect myself and ignore her.  The really annoying thing about her request is that I offered to do this favor for her years ago, back when I was healthy and functioning, and she did not complete this one little 15-minute task she needed to do in order to finish the transaction.  She just kept making excuses.  In the meantime, it was costing me money to wait for her to complete that task.  I finally gave up waiting on her, and closed out the process.  Now she's contacting me years later claiming that she has time to deal with it now.  Sorry, honey.  People don't stay in good health and live forever.  My offers for favors are only good until the end of the day, not until it is convenient for you.

I'm kind of on a rampage trying to teach self-centered people how to think beyond the nose on their own faces.  I have a number of individuals in my life who expect me to bail them out of whatever trouble they've most recently gotten themselves into, and they need to learn how to take care of themselves and think ahead so that they can anticipate consequences.  I hate to see people suffer, but I have to remind myself that I did not put them into these predicaments.  They did it to themselves.  I've got my hands full taking care of myself and my pets at the moment, and I don't need strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, and distant relatives imposing upon me.

Oh yeah, and remember what I said about this woman creating chaos everywhere she goes?  Well, the email she sent me came with a virus, so I've had to spend most of my weekend changing passwords on my accounts, because someone kept making failed attempts to log into them.  Just what I needed with a broken drip system, a colicking horse, and a broken ice maker.  Thanks a lot.

But amongst all that crap, there is good news.  Scrappy's vet found the magic number of cc's of thyroid medication to give him, so now she is prescribing a big enough supply to last us six months instead of six weeks.  That's going to free up my time.  Normally, I'd just blow off getting refills when getting them requires endless doctor appointments, but in this case, the medicine has done wonders for my dog.

Also, I continued to try to get through to a live person at my doctor's office since no one was returning my messages.  Apparently, they only want patients to talk to live people when they are scheduling appointments.  I called right before closing time last week and got lucky.  I left my message with a person rather than a machine, and this morning someone called back with the information I needed.  So, now I will be getting the correct dosage of my own medication.  It's ridiculous what you have to go through just to get a prescription.  So, hopefully, those two problems are solved.  It only took several months, but persistence paid off.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Two Bird Trick

We had a semi-cool breeze this morning that was so refreshing.  I haven't been cleaning stalls in the mornings because I've been struggling to get acclimated to the heat once the sun rises, but I did take the time to clean the stalls and paddocks for as long as that breeze hung around.  All was well until I touched Rock on his rump to get him to step to the side.  He had his head buried in the food trough and totally overreacted to being touched.  He ripped his head out of the trough, jumped up and kicked out.  I was standing to his side, so he missed me, but him startling was contagious and I jumped too.  When I came down, I may as well have experienced my leg spontaneously imploding.  I couldn't put any weight on it at all and thought I was going to vomit from the pain.  I just can't handle horse spooks anymore.

I got in the Mule and drove myself back to the house.  Nearly two hours later I realized that I never turned off the sprinkler system that waters our trees.  My leg had not recovered, so I was still unable to walk.  I stood at the back door leaning on my cane wondering how I was going to get that water turned off.  Then I remembered the Mule.  It's a much shorter distance to the Mule than it is to the spigot.  I hobbled through the garage and drove to the spigot.  I love that little machine.  It's better than a wheelchair.

By lunch time, my leg was allowing me to put some weight on it, so I took Scrappy in for his vet appointment.  There was only one parking spot available and it was tight from all angles.  Normally, I'd drive out to the back of the lot and walk rather than to risk scratching or denting my truck, but I couldn't walk today.  I needed something up close.  The handicapped spots were empty, and I considered asking my doctor for a note to get a handicapped permit for my truck.  In the meantime, I had to make an 8-point turn to get into that one spot.  I didn't give a damn if some impatient jerk came along and started honking at me.  I was gonna fit my truck in there however I could.

When I opened the back door to get Scrappy out, he had fallen off the seat onto the floor and was wedged between the two seats!  Another perfect storm.  I normally put him in a kennel, but my leg was hurting too much to make another trip between house and truck.  Also, I had recently pushed the front seat back as far as it would go to give me more leg room.  Poor dog.  He wasn't panicked, though.  He was just waiting for assistance.

I realized that I couldn't possibly carry the dog, my purse, and my cane simultaneously, so I left the cane in the truck and limped to the vet's office.  There was a lady in the waiting room who immediately began asking me questions about Scrappy.  I don't mind small talk with strangers, but most people around here tend to cross the line by nosing into my business and telling me how to live my life, so I'm pretty good at acting aloof and inaccessible to ward off conversation.  However, this lady would not quit.

In a matter of seconds, she was hinting that Scrappy is too old and should be put to sleep.  I'm sure this was a judgement she made based on the fact that I was carrying him, his face is gray, and he was wearing a diaper.  Well, first off, I carry him in part because the pavement is too hot for dog paws and in part because he walks too slow and gets under my feet and trips me, which is the worst thing that can happen when I only have half of my legs available for transport.

This happens every time someone comes into contact with Scrappy.  They all bring up the "suggestion" of putting him to sleep.  It's none of their business.  They don't see him galloping around the house happily every night after dinner playing chase with Stewie.  He's a happy dog.  If he's in pain, he hasn't expressed it.  He's just old, deaf and blind.  I have my method for knowing when the dog decides it's time, and Scrappy has no intention of going anywhere soon.

I was relieved that the woman was called up to the counter to pay her bill.  When she was done, she turned around and saw this hanger stuck to the top of her cat kennel.  She said, "Oh, I must have accidentally grabbed that hanger on the way out the door and carried it all the way here."

I realized that the lady was probably half-blind or senile.  Then a younger woman walked in with a large rambunctious puppy.  The older woman asked her to hold the door open for her.  I was unsure why she needed help.  She had one hand on the cat kennel and the other hand was free.  The younger woman's large puppy started jumping up on the older woman, so the younger woman had to let go of the door in the lady's face.  She said, "I can't hold the door and control my dog at the same time."

I thought, "Good for her."

I hate it when I'm obviously busy or struggling and someone asks me to do something for them that they can easily do for themselves.  The younger woman then shot me a look that said, "Why can't you get up off your duff and help?"

Since she didn't ask for my assistance outright, I did not bother to defend myself.  I knew that leaving my cane in the truck would come back to bite me.  Then I got called up to the counter to pay, and the younger woman got to see me hop on one leg.  I'm sure everything then made sense to her.

I had the brilliant idea of stopping at the dog salon on the way home and getting Scrappy's nails trimmed (i.e. killing two birds with one stone or getting two tasks done in one trip).  The first thing the groomer said when she took Scrappy from me was, "You're still here?  You just keep chuggin' along, don't you?"

Yesterday I met a couple of older ladies in physical therapy who had knee replacement surgeries.  They brought up some interesting points.  One lady said that she had one knee replaced only to have the other knee start going out on her.  She's trying to treat the second knee with injections rather than surgery, because now the ankle on her fake knee leg hurts worse than the original knee pain because she has to overcompensate for the fake knee.  The other lady said that she tried injections for a while and they did nothing for her.  They kind of made it sound like there's not much hope for me.  Once you start getting old and falling apart, you can fix one thing, but another thing will just break down immediately.

Then I met a young teenage boy who was in rehab for a sports injury on his foot, and he told me that his mother gets the injections in her knees and they last a couple of months.  They relieve the pain enough that she keeps going back for more.  I will definitely try the injections before anything else, because they do seem to work for some people.  But after hearing about all the physical therapy needed after the surgery, and the recovery process, I'm not sure the benefits of surgery would outweigh the costs.  If I were young and it were just my knee bothering me, surgery might make sense, but I've also got hip and spinal problems.

Obviously, my goal is to be able to ride horses again and be self-sufficient so that I don't have to rely on others to help me do basic tasks day to day.  Most of the time I just suck it up and pretend like I'm fine so I can get stuff done.  Mind over matter.  It's not like the leg is broken and I'll make it worse by putting weight on it.

When I got back from the vet and dog salon, I found a couple of packages on the porch.  One was ripped open, but nothing seemed to be missing from it.  Then I found this postcard that said it was supposed accompany some free sample of something, and if the sample it missing, I should notify the post office.  Huh?  Of course, they never said what the sample was, so the post office wouldn't know what to look for.  I wondered if someone had been on my porch pawing through my mail and took it.  Maybe the dogs chased them off before they could finish opening the other package.  At least they were nice enough to leave behind what they didn't want.  We needed those water filters.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Potluck on my Porch

Ever since I found a dead rabbit on my front porch during the heatwave, I've been keeping a bowl of water out there for the bunnies.  They like to sleep under the hedge near the water bowl.  This is what I see when I peer through the opaque glass on the door...

Imagine several of them laying around in spots where the drip system keeps the soil wet.  The quail and other birds discovered the water too, so I hear them clucking and chirping out there.

Whenever I hear a ruckus, I know something is up.  Yesterday this quail was running circles around a couple of rabbits, and one of the rabbits jumped up to bite it, annoyed that the pesky quail woke it from its nap.

It turned out that the quail was in a tizzy because a Cactus Wren was stealing all the water.  However, on most days when the birds are making a racket, there is something more sinister like a snake or coyote.

The female coyote who was living under our hedge last summer is back.  If I step silently out the front door and up the walkway, I'll take her by surprise and she'll leap out of the hedge and run across the street.  I've learned to listen for cars before stepping out front, because my presence can cause dozens of rabbits, quail families, and that coyote to run out into the road.  Sometimes the snakes and coyotes come around because they are looking for food or water, but most of the time, they just want shade.

This week was supposed to be my last week of physical therapy, but they are working with my insurance to try to keep me in the program longer.  I've been waiting for PT to end so that I can see a couple of specialists and get my dogs in to see the vet.  Each person thinks he is the only one in the world providing services to me, and they all demand a lot of my time so that they can get more money.  I decided to go ahead and just set up appointments with the specialists and the vet instead of waiting for the PT to end.

I have been a bit underwhelmed with my PT experience as of late.  A big corporation bought out the nice, personalized little company, and immediately started laying off employees after closing one branch and moving all of their patients to my branch.  I lost my therapist, and now I can't get any help.  It's like going to the gym.  You just do your workout and hope you are doing it right instead of having a physical therapist working with you every step of the way.  Also, I have to wait in line for lockers, for warm up rooms, for pillows, for heat packs and ice packs, for exercise equipment, etc.  It's a completely different clinic from what it was like a few weeks ago when I first started.  I get stressed having to work my way around all the other patients.  I have patients cutting me off or bumping me off equipment.  Every time I have to turn my body to avoid bumping into someone, it hurts my knee and hip, so the current climate is very counterproductive to my recovery.  I see no point in continuing to give them my business.

I was annoyed to find out that the orthopedist can't see me until a month from now, even though I'm in pain and can barely walk most days.  But I was even more annoyed that the other specialist couldn't get me in for two months even though I'm in pain and have horrific symptoms right now.  I agreed to see the PA in a month rather than waiting until September to see a doctor.  I wondered why the receptionist asked if I'm in pain now only to schedule me in September.

We are having a serious medical crisis here in Arizona because the majority of residents are elderly or infirmed.  I thought I'd have better luck getting in over the summer when the snowbirds leave the state, but that's not the case.  There are entirely way too many people and not enough doctors here.  So, I guess I'm on my own with my pain.

I've been calling my general practitioner repeatedly over the past week because he asked me to call and leave him a message with specific information.  However, every time I leave a message asking for someone to call me back (because I have a question), they never do, and when I wait on hold, no one ever picks up.  I'm thinking about writing him a letter.  Next time I'll ask for his email address.  I've also been considering just setting up an appointment to see him in person to give him the information, but that will cost my insurance another $120.  It's truly getting to be ridiculous.  My husband occasionally peruses houses for sale in cooler parts of Arizona to get us out of the heat, but I think I'd rather just move to a state where I can get prompt medical care.  I'm tired of always being put on waiting lists.  It seems I'm never the priority.

I was really hoping that I could see the two specialists, get the PT done, and possibly have knee surgery all before fall, but now I can see that my goals either may never get met or I'm going to have to forfeit my horseback riding season next year while I recover from surgery.  This is totally annoying, because I had a different surgery last November, and I backed out of doing a second surgery because I didn't want to lose horseback riding days.  I said I would do the second surgery over the summer, but now I've got much bigger problems like not being able to sleep or walk or eat, and that takes priority.

I called the vet's office to set up an appointment to get Scrappy's thyroid levels tested so that I can get a refill of his medication, and they were ready to receive him today in a couple of hours.  However, I'll have to wait until tomorrow, because he can't eat breakfast on the day of the appointment.  Arizona takes better care of their pets than their people.

This morning I couldn't sleep because of the knee pain, so I was sitting up playing a video game when Scrappy walked up and proceeded to retch on the carpet.  I jumped up to grab him and carry him over to the tile where it's much easier to clean up vomit, but my knee twisted and then locked up.  I was stuck in this bent over position and couldn't move.  I let out a howl and that got Stewie barking, which got Midge barking, which woke up my husband, and he tried to help me back to the couch.  That's when he informed me that he nearly died in his sleep.  He woke up and was unable to breathe.  He finally got his breath back after a minute of gurgling and thrashing around.  He was trying to get my help, but I couldn't hear anything from the other room.  A doctor tried to treat him for sleep apnea years ago, but he wasn't interested in getting help for that.

So, now it looks like I'm going to be on nurse duty not just for my dogs and myself, but for my husband too.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and make all our health problems go away, because things are totally out of control.  Every time I think they can't get worse, they do.  We also have relatives who have serious health problems and need our help.  We're scared that they may have to either move in with us or move close to us.  Worse yet, we're scared that we're going to have to sell one of our homes and give up our retirement savings to pay for it.  We've been avoiding getting involved because we're trying to take care of ourselves, and we can't do anyone else any good in our current conditions.

The dogs have been going nuts because of all the fireworks and people coming to our doors constantly.  I'm at a point where I just stick my fingers in my ears and wait ten minutes for the barking to stop.  I can't train dogs if I can't stand up and walk without twisting and locking my knee.  At this point, I'd be happy if I could just get some sedatives prescribed.  My doctor has made it abundantly clear that he's not going to give me pain medication.  The thing is that every time something stresses me out, my leg pain gets worse.

While I was typing this someone came to the door.  The dogs saw him through the window and barked, and he ran off without knocking.  I'm sure it was someone who was up to no good, probably looking for houses that show signs of people being away on vacation..  I used to be the biggest deterrent in our neighborhood to burglars, because I was always outside working with the horses, but now I'm always inside lying on the couch, and the bad guys are taking full advantage of my absence.  I limped a few feet out the front door last night to watch several fireworks displays in the distance, and I could hear that ass on the ATV out on the bridle trails racing around.  I figured the police were too busy monitoring the 4th of July crowds to deal with him.  It's frustrating not being mobile.  Things come up that require physical effort, but I just can't get involved.

Yesterday my husband wanted to get out of the house, and I reminded him that I can't walk like I used to.  I agreed to go to a restaurant where I could sit, though.  We ended up going to a buffet-style restaurant.  I had to move slowly because of my leg pain, and people just kept cutting me off and stepping in front of me every time I tried to get a look at the selection of food.  The stress of having to fight for some space to reach out and put something on my plate resulted in me having an upset stomach.  It didn't help that the only food items I was able access were scrambled eggs and Mexican food.  Then there was this lady who kept pacing back and forth next to our table, and she was making me a nervous wreck.  Then the family at the table next to us had to tell their server all about their camping trip in great detail, and the server kept sticking her butt in my face while she stood there chatting with them.  All of it was too much for me, and I thought I was going to hurl right there at the table.  Fortunately, we had a very attentive server named Michael who kept the glasses of water coming.  His pleasant demeanor calmed me down a bit and I was able to focus on keeping my food in my stomach.  I don't think I'll be attending any buffet restaurants in the future, though.

I'm working out the details in my new barn chore routine using the Mule.  There's an indentation on the tailgate that acts like a trap and catches manure when I dump it.  I've been keeping gloves in the glove compartment and wiping the manure off, but it's too time consuming.  I have to do everything fast in this heat.  So, I'm going to look for a whisk broom to keep in the glove compartment instead.  Another hassle is that we've got all these large rocks around the hose spigot, so I can't drive right up to it.  I have to park a ways back and walk.  I'm going to have to find the energy to relocate all those rocks using the Mule.  The third thing is that it's a pain for me to have to go get the key to the tack room every time I need to get in there.  I'll have to figure out some shortcut that won't cause me more work in the long run, but will also keep the tack room locked so that our local burglars can't get their grubby hands on my saddles.  Otherwise, manure clean up and feeding times are moving much faster thanks to the Mule.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Mule, A Scorpion, and a Laugh or Two

The Mule is working out really well.  I was worried that after spending all that money, it, like most solutions, would turn out to be more of a hassle than it was worth, but that hasn't been the case.  I have so much more energy to do barn chores now that I don't have to walk everywhere.  I previously would take shortcuts because my leg was in too much pain or I was too hot.  The poor horses weren't getting their grain every day because I was too exhausted to take one more trip to the tack room, but now it's easy with the Mule.

In the past, I wouldn't attempt to clean up piles of manure that were too far away for me to walk through sand unless it was cool out and I felt better than normal.  Now I'm happy to see that Gabbrielle walked all the way to the far end of the paddock to poop, because it gives me an excuse to drive more.  I'm also happy to see that she pooped one more time in her stall right after I cleaned it, because it gives me an excuse to drive back to the barn.  I feel sad when there's nothing left to do and it's time to return the Mule to the garage.

My middle-aged mind causes me to forget things a lot.  I usually remember what I forgot after I've locked everything up and am limping back to the house.  I've gotten so frustrated that I've given up and said I'll do it another day.  However, with the Mule, I'm happy to turn around and go back for whatever I forgot.  It's quick, easy, and pain-free.  I don't even feel hot when I'm driving it, because I'm creating my own wind to cool me down.  One more reason why I didn't want a windshield.  Now I know why so many people drive motorcycles around here in the summer months.  It's like creating your own air conditioning.

However, I've learned to pay close attention to where I turn around.  The owner's manual warns you multiple times not to drive across a slope, because the vehicle will tip over and roll.  It's hard to avoid that on my property, because I live in a bowl, so the entire perimeter is sloped.  I turned around on a slope to go back for something I forgot, and the right front tire on the uphill side started to go over a squirrel mound.  All my weight was in the left, downhill side of the vehicle and I could feel it starting to roll.  I immediately let off the gas, and it rolled backwards off the squirrel mound and up-righted itself.  Then I put it in reverse to get away from the mound before finishing my turn.  That would have been a disaster, because we can't get the thing insured until after the holiday.  Note to self:  Do not buy vehicles over four-day holiday weekends.

Gabbrielle is still nervous around the Mule, and I spooked Bombay when I fired up the engine behind him, so I'm now saying the words, "Here we go!" in a certain tone to cue the horses right before I start the engine.  They seem to appreciate the forewarning.  Rock and Lostine remain unfazed by it.  I had the thought the other day that perhaps Rock has been fed from a side-by-side in one of his past lives, which would explain why he ran toward it when he saw it.  After all, he is a ranch horse -- not a show Arab.

I tipped over Rock's water trough to dump it out, and a huge scorpion ran out from underneath it.  I kept spraying it with poison to keep it away from me.  Poison slows them down, but won't kill them.  It kept running at me with its pincers opening and closing, and its tail curled up over its back poking at me.  With all the pain I've been in, the last thing I needed was to be stung by a scorpion.  I was also trying to keep it away from the horses.  I had to leave it alone for a minute to go do something, and when I came back, it was gone.  My husband and I looked for it, and gave up.  A short time later, I nearly stepped on it and jumped back, then cut a wide wake around it.  My husband saw from the window and came out to kill it.  I usually don't like to kill animals, but this one was being a danger to me and my horses.  So, I could sleep that night knowing no one was getting stung down at the barn.  The scorpions burrow under the water troughs to keep cool in the summer.

We stopped and talked with our neighbor when we were passing each other in our trucks, and he told me why there was a cop parked in front of his house the other night.  Someone on an ATV had been cutting the fence and racing around on the bridle trails every evening.  I could hear the engine at night and saw the tire tracks and destroyed plant life in the daylight, but didn't have it in me to go out there and get a description to give to the police.  I'm glad someone else did it.  So, the officer was being proactive and doing a stakeout to try to catch the guy.  That explains why he was out of his jurisdiction.  The bridle trails were within his jurisdiction, even though our street was not.  I haven't heard that ATV engine since, so the police presence was effective.

I asked my neighbor if he had seen the previous owner of my home around recently, and he said, "No, and I'm glad.  If I don't ever see that guy again, it won't be soon enough."

We had a good laugh over that.  The previous owner of my home was schizophrenic, so he had quite the reputation in our neighborhood.  He was often aggressive toward other people.  I told my neighbor about our garage being burglarized and the only items missing were what belonged to the previous owner.

My husband and son got a banter going over the phone the other day that had me in fits.  My husband and I had been talking about all the medical care we've been having to get recently just to function, and our son said, "Take care of yourselves.  I don't want you to end up in a nursing home."

My husband said, "Hell no, we're coming to live with you."

Our son said, "Well, first I have to get married and have a kid of my own, and dump him on you to take care of."

My husband said something like, "Good.  Then I can have someone to be ornery with."

Our son said, "You'd be mean to my child?"

You could just hear the gears turning in his head as he was thinking, "Note to self:  Keep all grandchildren away from grandparents."

My husband said, "Yeah, I'd yell at him, 'What are you doing over there cleaning up his shit?  Come on over here and clean up my shit!'"

I guess "his shit" was referring to one of the dogs.  I nearly died laughing.  Not only do our lives currently revolve around cleaning up dog and horse poop, but the thought of us aging humans being in diapers and having to get our toddler grandchildren to change our diapers is hysterical.  Young adults are waiting longer to get married and have kids nowadays, mainly because of the lousy economy and financial burdens, so by the time either of our kids get married and have children, my husband and I will probably be in diapers.

That whole conversation led to my husband remembering something, and he turned to me and said, "Oh yeah.  By the way, Lostine has diarrhea."

I sighed.  That mare always has diarrhea, and it doesn't help that I've been feeding the horses psyllium to get sand out of their guts.

My husband and I are moving so slow now, that my closet has become the dookie station for the dogs.  They ask to be taken out once, and if we don't immediately drop everything we are doing or if we walk too slow to the back door, they run for my bedroom closet.  I decided that's as good a place as any.  I only spend 30 seconds a day in there, so I don't care if it smells bad.  I promise, we'll replace all the floors in the house once Scrappy and Midge are gone.  Right now, though, these dogs are working on their tenth or eleventh lives, so I suspect it will be another couple of years before I'll know what it is like to live in a clean home that doesn't smell like a New York subway.