Saturday, September 20, 2014

Raising Cain

You may remember me blogging about helicopters flying low, hovering near my house and making a disruptive racket last spring.  I was worried they were surveying the land in front of my house to build a subdivision, but it turned out that they were examining the condition of the electric poles and lines.  Then red X's started showing up next to poles out in the desert.

I had hoped that they would do whatever repairs were needed over the summer when it was too hot to be riding horses, but the desert was quiet all summer and the red X's just sat there.  Now that the temps are dropping back down into double digits, all kinds up parts and equipment have been showing up along the electrical lines in the desert in front of my house.  Each time I walk out there I find more truck tire tracks and more supplies laid out.

The last time I checked, there were huge round wooden spools for the cables propped up against poles.  I decided to take Gabbrielle out there to see how she would react.  The horse trainer and P.S. had been working with her all summer on desensitizing her to scary things along the trails.  This time the spool was still there, but so was a pile of poles and a pile of crossbeams.  The poles were lying along one side of the trail while the spool and other pile of wood were on the other side.

Gabbrielle's head shot up and the huffing and puffing began.  I just kept walking to try to prevent her from balking.  She was tip-toeing along behind me with her neck and tail arched, eyeballing everything on one side of the trail and then the other.  Then she whipped around to alert on something behind us.  I stopped to see what she sensed, and my husband suddenly appeared out of the bushes.  He decided to come on the walk with us.  She was more concerned about him at that point, and totally forgot about all the strange items surrounding her.  Hikers make for good diversionary tactics when horses are scared of inanimate objects.  Now we've just got to get her past her fear of hikers.

Gabbrielle's M.O. is that she is always the first horse to alert on something.  She pumps herself up tall and snorts, but as long as no other horse or person reacts, she decides everything is okay and then can relax.  Unfortunately, that means she needs a really calm, fearless rider, and I think most of us really can't control our nerves once a horse we are riding starts acting sketchy.  If she decides there is something to worry about, she usually runs backwards and occasionally spins and runs forward.

Every trail I led her on had piles of garbage surrounding it.  The litter bugs must have been busy dumping this summer.  The trails look like hell.  I got an idea that maybe I could desensitize her to those big black garbage bags, and then take her with me on treks out into the desert to clean up those dump piles.  It'll be her job to pack everything out.  Then she'll get used to it all and stop being so snorty about it.

It's looking like I'll have to start walking out into the desert to check to make sure there aren't cranes out there raising electric poles before I attempt to ride a horse out.  So nice of the electric company to wait until the beginning of horseback riding season to start their work.

In other news, I guess the universe didn't think I had enough problems, because our well pump broke for the umpteenth time -- always during the summer and always on weekends and holidays when it is impossible to get someone out to help.  This time I'm taking no prisoners.  If the repairman isn't here by tomorrow, I'm moving into a hotel because I'm am beyond sick of having to smell myself when I can't shower for several days straight.  Unfortunately, the horses have been drinking like fish, so I'll have to figure out some way to haul water in for them if we can't get results right away.  Or I might just go to the hardware store, buy a bunch of hoses, string them together and borrow from the empty house next door.  When I see the home owners again, I'll offer to help with the electric bill and explain that I was desperate.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Stuck in Zero Refills Hell

I was soooooo close!  After at least ten years of working on my novel, I was so close to finally publishing it, and then I noticed that one of my prescriptions was getting low and it had zero refills.  I ran around the house checking medicine cabinets, and all of prescriptions either had zero refills or had expired.  Then I checked Midge's medications, and they also had zero refills.  You're thinking, "What's the big deal?  Just go see the doctor and the vet.  It's only a couple of hours out of your week."

You think?

First I tried getting the pharmacy to call the doctor and vet for refills, but they didn't bite.  The doctor offices called me and said I had to bring myself and the dog in for check ups and tests before I could receive fresh prescriptions.  So, I set up the appointments, but in the case of Midge's insulin, I needed a refill sooner than her appointment.  Boy, what a rigmarole of phone calls I had to go through just to get that.  Apparently, the vet's office doesn't trust me to actually bring her in for her blood tests.  I explained that I'm simply booked up for the next week with other appointments and can't come in right away.  I mean, I could stop taking my blood pressure medication when it runs out and see if I die of a heart attack by sacrificing my own doctor's appointment in order to get the dog in sooner, but something tells me that is not a good idea.

So, today I had my annual physical.  The first thing that happened was that my doctor said, "You need to schedule this as a physical.  It's not scheduled that way."

I said, "I told the scheduler that I was coming in for an annual physical, and I even asked when my last one was so that I didn't come in too soon."

The doctor said, "I'll find out who booked your appointment and make sure this never happens again."

One of the weird things about my doctor's office in Arizona is that they never make me strip down and put on a gown.  They give me these really brief check ups with my clothes on.  It's weird.  They don't even do a fraction of the tests I used to get during a physical in Nevada.  And Nevada was considered to be one of the worst states for medical care at the time.  I would say that compared to my experiences Arizona, Nevada's healthcare was exceptionally good.

Anyway, I mentioned a couple of health problems and next thing I knew, I had six more appointments, three were for special tests, one was for lab work, and two were with the pharmacy.  I went to the lab first to see if I could get the blood work out of the way, but it turned out I needed to fast for 18 hours and have a full bladder.  Oh well, some other day.

Then I went to the pharmacy, and they said the soonest they could get my prescription ready was in several hours.  I picked up a different prescription and ordered a flu shot.  They told me that my insurance would not cover the cost of the flu shot if I got it from them, so I had to go to the clinic.

The clinic was just a few feet away, so I signed in on a computer.  A woman who was sitting there before me was throwing a fit because she'd been waiting a long time and had to get back to work.  Turned out that her job was giving vaccinations to people, and here she was having to wait for someone to give a vaccination to her.  They told her she could set up for an appointment tomorrow, and she said she couldn't because she was moving.  They said they'd give her the first appointment of the day.  She waffled back and forth on whether to wait and be late for work, or whether to make the appointment.  When she finally decided to leave and come back the next day, the lady in front of her came out and they called me in.  I felt bad.  I wanted to chase the other woman down in the parking lot and tell her they are ready for her, but she was gone.

In addition to all of my healthcare hell appointments, Rock developed another hoof abscess, so I've been giving him Epsom salt soaks.  It truly amazes me how quickly I can go from having an empty calendar and lots for free time to work on my novel to suddenly being overwhelmed with appointments and unexpected issues.  I've kind of surrendered myself to all of this and am trying to be patient with the process.  By now I have figured out that nothing I ever simple in Arizona.  Once you get into the medical system, you are batted around like a pinball, and no one values your time.

I have a new doctor, and I have this weird condition that I've had my whole life, but no doctor I've ever spoken to has had any idea what it is.  So, every time I get a new doctor I run it by him or her for ideas.  It's not going to kill me, but it definitely limits the activities I can do, especially social activities.  She's going to run a few tests no one has considered before, and if nothing comes of those, she'll probably send me to an endocrine specialist.  I've been living with this my whole life, and I don't really want to go on a wild goose chase in search of the cause and cure, but I suppose if I don't give up some of my time and money to try, nothing will ever change.  I've got pretty low expectations that we will come out knowing anything more than when we went in.  That's usually the case in today's medical care.

Even though the timing of this postponed the release of my novel, at least I'm getting it all done before the influx of winter visitors.  They are already arriving.  I found two of them up on the bluff on bicycles watching me do my barn chores at 6:00 AM the past couple of mornings.  I hope they don't make a habit out of it, because I don't take kindly to nosy, bored people who spy on me when I'm in my back yard, especially when I've just rolled out of bed and am not presentable to the public.  I may need to erect a sign at the back of my property that reads, "Not a wildlife viewing area.  Please move along."

Well, I've got to go soak a horse hoof and clean up more poop now...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Little Moisture Goes a Long Way

I'm always amazed at how quickly the desert changes after it rains.  We don't have any shortage of yellow...

I thought this was some kind of egg when I first saw it...

It's a mushroom.  There are different kinds of mushroom all over the place, especially in my manure pile.

Our Lantana is usually covered in orange flowers and butterflies, but all the flowers closed up and the leaves exploded in growth just over the past two days.  When it spills over the wall and sits on the ground like this, we have to watch out for snakes that like to hide in there.

Supper time for the horses.  Thrush is rampant in their hooves right now.  We all can't wait to see the farrier tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2014


When my husband asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I said I wanted to explore new spaces.  In other words, I wanted to travel and get a break from all of my responsibilities at home.  He couldn't take much time off from his job, and my daughter couldn't offer more than a weekend to pet sit, so we decided to just spend the weekend at some place close to home, but far enough away to be a new experience.  Since moving to the Phoenix area, the only places within Arizona where I have traveled have been Dragoon, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and Cottonwood.  We decided to spend the weekend in Prescott for my birthday.

We didn't even get out of Phoenix before all hell broke loose.  The car in front of us on the freeway suddenly changed lanes, and there, lying across the entire length of our lane right in front of us, was a shovel.  My husband tried to change lanes, but couldn't because we had clingers on each side of us, and at 70 mph you can't exactly brake in time, so we ran over the shovel.  Holy freak!  The tires hit the handle of that shovel, sending the traction control alarm into fits, and throwing the spade of the shovel up into our car.  It made quite a racket and I thought for sure everything under the chassis was torn up and that my side of the car would need body work to repair all the dents and scrapes.

We pulled off the freeway and examined the car, and it was as if it had been protected by an Angel.  Despite the raucous crash, I could not find a single dent or scrape anywhere.  My husband spotted some liquid dripping from underneath the car, though, so we turned around and went back into Tempe to a service center.  The mechanic said there was something like 47 cars in line in front of us, so they couldn't get to it today, but he stuck his head under the car to take a look and decided that the dripping fluid was normal water drainage from the condenser.

We decided to take his word for it and keep driving so that we wouldn't have to cancel our trip.  I had driven up the 17 to get to Cottonwood, so I wanted to take a different route to get to Prescott.  I had planned to take the scenic route, but missed the first turn off.  We found another turn off that led to Wickenburg, which is another town I've been meaning to visit.  I expected Wickenburg to be flat and dry with lots of chaparral, but it was actually green and hilly.  Upon seeing grass everywhere, I realized how long it had been since I last saw grass.  I also saw horses everywhere and began thinking that might be a nice place to retire.

Then we drove through Yarnell where we lost several firefighters, and after seeing the mountainous terrain, I totally understood how easy it would be to get trapped in that environment.  I was surprised that Prescott was a mountain town.  For some reason I expected it to be at a higher elevation, but flat and spread out.  Prescott reminded me of Flagstaff, and where I used to live in Nevada.

We stopped at Bill's Grill for lunch.  As we pulled into the parking lot, we heard this terrible noise and thought it was something under our hood.  The car had been damaged by the shovel after all.  However, when my husband shut off the engine, the noise was still going loud and clear.  It turned out to be cicadas!  We decided that the sound of the frogs in Hilo was less annoying than the sound of cicadas in Prescott.

I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw, and instantly began bloating so bad that I had to undo the button and zipper on my jeans.  That turned into some pretty painful food poisoning.  When we got into town, there was some kind of celebration at the courthouse square, and trying to find a parking spot was difficult.  By the time we found one and walked to the square, it had started raining and everyone had packed up and left.  Then we found ourselves dodging in and out of stores to avoid the rain and lighting.

We couldn't check into our hotel until 4:00 PM and had several hours to kill.  That wouldn't have been any big deal if my intestines weren't spasming relentlessly.  We wandered around Whiskey Row, which was packed with locals and tourists, and I couldn't take two steps without someone bumping into me.  I just needed some place to sit down and die silently, so we went into an empty bar to kill some time.  Within seconds of us sitting down, this raucous crowd came in, surrounded our table, and person after person kept bumping into me, doubling the intensity of my stabbing pains.

I like to try out new beers, and I saw an advertisement on our table for a new beer, so I ordered it. The bartender didn't know what it was, so the owner informed her they were out of it. I ordered something else, but they were out of that too. It seemed the only beers they carried were the usual yuck you can get out of a freezer at a mini-mart for a fraction of the price.  Our two beers cost more than a six-pack.  I sipped my beer slowly to give me a chance to frequent their bathroom.  When the band started showing up and sound checking their drum set, it was time to get out of there for sure, before I added a headache to my list of symptoms.

When the rain stopped we drove around Prescott Valley and then checked into our hotel.  The rooms were small, old, and stuffy.  There was no air flow whatsoever.  We searched for a thermostat, but there was none.  Then we tried to open the windows, but they were painted shut.  I finally pried one window open, only to discover another window behind it that was stuck even worse.  I was just about to go ask the front desk for a different room, or check out and go to a different hotel, when air suddenly began flowing out a vent in the ceiling.  I suspect they just waited until someone actually checked in before letting the air conditioning kick in.

I was still feeling ill by dinner time, and asked if we could just go to the restaurant across the street so that we wouldn't have to lose our parking space by driving somewhere.  Little did I know, the "bar and grill" across the street had multi-course meals, each course costing between $20 and $40.  I didn't want to be there all night in my condition, so I skipped the entree, and ordered Walleye.  It came covered in spinach, which was covered in some kind of salad dressing that burned the inside of my mouth.  I like spinach, but the burning dressing made everything pretty much inedible.  So, I was still hungry after that "course".  I thought it would be safe to order a dessert, because all they had to do was cut a slice and bring it out.  Wrong.  They had to make the dessert fancy and presentable, so there was a wait with many apologies explaining that other people had ordered desserts ahead of us.  I kept longingly looking across the street to the window of our hotel room...

We chose the Hassayampa Inn, because it was listed in my book of haunted places in Arizona, but I was too wrapped up in battling my cramps to notice if there were any ghosts.  The hotel was definitely historic.  So, was its plumbing.

Our waitress the The Prescott Station was scarce because the place was packed, so the manager actually started serving us.  I think she could tell that something was wrong with me.  She was trying to make conversation so that I would have a good experience.  I kept turning around and looking at this gate that I planned to run through in case I could no longer fight off the effects of the food poisoning.  I was in pain, woozy, clammy, and had chills, but so far hadn't vomited or soiled myself.  However, I knew that could happen, so I felt I had a better chance getting across the street to our hotel than trying to stand in line in the restaurant for a bathroom.

Despite being an upscale restaurant, servers kept bumping the back of my head as they passed behind my chair, and not a single one said, "Excuse me."  If I could sum up my experience in Prescott, it would be "too many people in too little space and a lot of ridiculously loud motorcycle engines."  It was difficult to carry on a conversation while walking down the street or while on the restaurant patio, because of all the motorcyclists revving their unnecessarily loud engines.  My husband started telling me about an episode of South Park on the subject of loud motorcycle engines, and that cracked me up.

Our tiramisu finally arrived, and I was so relieved to finish up and finally be leaving.  I didn't want to risk telling them it was my birthday in order to get a special dessert, because I didn't want to get stuck having to wait for them to gather all the servers to sing to me.  Then my husband announced that the waitress gave us the wrong bill.  It appeared that we had paid for someone else's bill with our credit card.  I eyeballed the gate and considered running back to the hotel while my husband worked out the bill.  The manager saw our pained expressions and came running out onto the patio to see what was going on.  She said she would take care of it, and she did, in a jiffy.  I was so relieved to get back to the hotel, so that I could wrestle some more with the ancient plumbing there.

I thought my problems would be solved with a good night's sleep until I discovered that I packed the wrong medications.  I only had half of my blood pressure medication, so I substituted something else for the other half, and was able to get a full night's sleep.  I felt better in the morning and we had a delicious breakfast at El Charro, but then the remnants of the symptoms from the previous day's food poisoning kicked in again and I had to run back to the hotel.  I was feeling discouraged, because we had a trail ride scheduled for 9:00 AM in Mayer.  I had to take my chances and just go.

I struggled for the first few minutes of the trail ride, grimacing and moaning, dealing with gut pains as well a motion sickness after going from moving in a Cadillac to moving on a very clumsy horse that kept randomly dropping to its knees, but I eventually felt well enough to focus on the ride and start taking pictures.

I rode right on the butt of my husband's horse in part because the cowboy who helped me mount made it clear that he didn't want me pulling on the reins.  He said sarcastically, "Don't hold those reins so tight.  He does have a bit in his mouth, you know."

I was just trying to be polite by holding my horse back so that it wouldn't irritate the horse in front of him, but the stable hand made it clear that he didn't care about that.  He just didn't want me pulling on the reins.  Unfortunately, the reins were so short that I had to hold my arm out straight and low on the horse's neck to give him some slack.  Starting off the ride with a sarcastic comment made about my riding choices didn't do anything to improve my mood.  I hate it when I'm trying to be considerate and someone misinterprets my intentions as stupidity.  I've been on rental horses where I got chewed out for not holding my horse back. You just can't win at these public stables. No matter what you do, it is always wrong.

Then I found out that our trail boss was hard of hearing, and his horse was much faster than ours, so he kept getting way up ahead of us, and every time we ran into trouble, our calls for help fell on deaf ears.  My horse kept ripping the reins out of my hand by throwing his head down to the ground, and I'd have to scramble to grab them before he flung them over the top of his head.  I also kept losing my stirrups several times when bushes and tree limbs got a hold of them.  Both my husband and I got stabbed and scratched multiple times, because the trails were almost non-existent.  The guide explained that we were riding on government owned property, and the government wouldn't allow them to alter the trails to make them more horse friendly.

There were times when I just wanted to stop to gather my wits about me after struggling to hang onto the reins, the stirrups, and my camera, but it was hard to get the guide to hear me way back at the end of the line.

We went through a lot of gates...

And saw some mines...
The bushwhacking was the most painful part.  Here we are in relatively short brush, but I couldn't take pictures when we were pushing through tunnels of scratchy trees because my neck strap could have gotten caught on branches.  My husband's horse Larry liked to scratch his belly and butt on the bushes.

There were places we couldn't ride through unless our guide pruned some branches...

We went down some steep, rocky cliffs, but it was worth it when we ended up riding along a riverbed to get out of the heat.

Larry kept stopping to drink.  I was glad that my horse Smokey wasn't interested in the water, because I would have lost those short reins had he stopped for a drink.

We found a treehouse...

Through gates...

And more gates...

All in all, it was good to get out and see other parts of Arizona.  I am so used to seeing not much beyond cacti and Palo Verde trees, and it's nice to know that our state has unique landscapes at each elevation.  As our guide plowed through all these bushes and rocks, I asked if they had rattlesnakes there.  He said they didn't.  They had no wild animals there.  I thought how nice it would be to just ride without having to worry about all the dangerous creatures we have around our house.  But then our trails are definitely better than what they had to contend with.

I'll admit that part of these travels I take around Arizona are in search of a good location to retire, because I don't think I will be able to withstand too many summers in the Phoenix area.  I realize that this summer has been especially hard with me having to go outside every hour or so to deal with the dogs and horses, but it won't always be that way.  People can survive the summers here just fine as long as they stay in air conditioned houses.  I've just got too many things to do outside right now.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Haulin' A

We picked up our new-to-us used trailer today.  Purchasing any kind of vehicle is always a process, and it's one of my least favorite activities.  When we bought it last weekend, the owner of the trailer dealership wrote up our purchase, and as he passed an "As Is" contract across the counter to us, alarm bells went off in my head.  I asked if anyone had taken the trailer for a test drive to make sure that it doesn't pull to the right or something.  My gut instinct was telling me that something was wrong with it.

The owner acted insulted and said, "The guy who traded it in just used it for hauling his quads."

I was thinking, "What does that have to do with anything?"  So, I pressed a little further to get a straight answer out of him.  He said in an angry, disgusted tone that he wouldn't buy a trailer from someone if there was a problem with it.  Still, not the answer I was looking for, so I pressed further, and he said rather hesitantly that they inspect all the used trailers they buy.  I'm really good at reading people, and his behavior told me loud and clear that the trailer had never been inspected.

The other information we kept trying to get out of the guy was whether we needed to buy any additional parts to make it compatible with our truck.  We talked to him in person and my husband questioned him over the phone, and the man kept insisting that we were all set and could just haul it away.  So, when we went to pick it up, I left my mobile phone at home, thinking I'd be back in a few minutes.

The first snag we hit was that the owner did not listen to us when we told him we would pick it up on Friday.  He thought we said Wednesday, so he had it sitting out in the parking lot on Wednesday ready to go, and when we didn't show up, they hauled it out back.  He also told us he would call us when it is ready, but never did.  We had to call him, and we had to wait for them to bring it out with a tractor even though we told them we were on our way.  The next snag was that we didn't have the right sized ball, so we had to pay another $40 for a ball and arm.

The final snag was a doozy.  The man told me that the running lights wouldn't work at night if I had my lights on AUTO.  I had to set them to ON.  So, I started up my truck, set the lights to ON, and we ran through a lights test.  We found that nothing was working on the right side of the trailer.  No right turn signal, no right brake light.

The man said he probably just needed to change a bulb, but that didn't fix it.  Then he said it was probably a fuse under my hood in my truck.  I doubted that, because my truck is fairly new and I hardly ever drive it.  While he was fiddling under my hood, my husband told me to turn the lights back to AUTO, and suddenly the right turn signal and brake lights worked.  What that meant was that I couldn't haul the trailer at night without possibly getting a ticket.

The guy wasn't sure how to fix it, so he brought out another mechanic, and eventually the owner came out.  I was happy that they were making the effort to correct the situation and not throwing the "As Is" clause at us.  My husband studied electronics when he served in the military, so he probably could have figured it out, but he doesn't need one more thing to do.  We sat out in that parking lot for a while, everyone dripping sweat, until they replaced some wires and got the electric components working again.

So, here is what we are going to be using to haul manure out and hay in....

Sometimes people get annoyed with me when I insist that something is wrong, but have no proof, or when I tell people to be extra-cautious because I sense something bad is going to happen, but I'm always right.  My instincts are excellent.  Sometimes I'm more in tune than other times, and right now my sensitivity seems to be far reaching.  Last night the phone rang, and I thought, "It's my father-in-law.  He's calling to tell us that a relative died."  It was no surprise to me when my husband listened to the message and confirmed what I was feeling.  It was a relative I had never met, and who my husband hadn't seen in years, so we don't have to get too involved other than to send our sympathies.  I have two relatives left in my blood line who are older than me, and in the case of one of them, I will be responsible for planning the funeral and settling his affairs.  All the rest of my relatives have already passed away.  My husband has a lot more living relatives than I do, and he seems to be losing them at a rate of about one per year now.

This is what my round pen looks like at the moment...

The darker dirt is where I have raked up rocks so far.  I haven't been able to lay down much manure yet.  I'm hoping to get this project done before anyone needs to use the round pen.  I don't want a horse to be kicking rocks from the unraked side over into the side I already raked, giving me more work to do.  Then when I'm done with the round pen, I will start shoveling manure into the trailer.

In other news, I bought myself a slightly early birthday present, besides the trailer.  (This is a big birthday for me.  I'll be half a century old.)  I bought an equestrian protective vest.  I've been hearing a lot of stories about cracked and broken ribs, punctured lungs, and back injuries from falls off horses.  Given that I've fallen off twice this year, and knowing the chances are high that next time I will land on a rock or cactus, I wanted to cover my body as well as my head.  I've always worn a helmet and I feel naked without one.  I'm hoping this protective vest will become second nature too.  It has cooling gel inside of it, so hopefully it won't be too hot to wear in Arizona.

My husband wants one now too.  He's been stuffing towels down the back of his jeans to try to protect his tail bone, and the vest I got has a flap to cushion the tail bone.  I'll let everyone know how it works out when I start using it.

I had a double compound fracture of my left arm falling off Bombay when he was a green horse eleven years ago, and I'm still suffering from pain in that arm.  I have nerve damage and have had to have physical therapy in the past to help with the pain.  It makes me prone to tennis elbow.  The pain has been coming back with all the shoveling and rock picking that I've been doing lately.  Apparently, I sleep on the arm in a bad way and wake up feeling like it is broken again.  I can't sleep without taking pain killers.  So, there's nothing like the lingering effects of an old injury to make you extra cautious about getting future injuries.

In other news, I got one of those hanging Himalayan rock salt licks for the horses.  I had to lead our horse Rock over to it and pretend like I was licking it, because none of the horses knew what to do with it.  I give them salt blocks that sit on the ground all the time, but this is the first they've seen that hangs from a rope and is pink and white.  Rock caught on and started licking it.  Then Gabbrielle joined him while Bombay and Lostine watched.  I didn't actually expect that me modeling licking it would work, but those horses are smart.  Now I've just got to make sure they don't get a hold of the rope and try to eat it.  I'm planning on taking it down at night or when I'm not home until I know I can trust them to leave the rope alone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Watch Your Step

I had hoped to read my novel from beginning to end without distraction or interruption to look for contradictions since I wrote the manuscript off and on over many, many years.  I read all day Tuesday and only made it through the first quarter of the novel.  It's not that I read slow.  It's that the novel is that long.  Like War & Peace long.  Okay, it's not that long, but it's too long to read in one sitting.  I like Dean Koontz style of writing between his ability to keep things suspenseful as well as humorous, and I like that I can read his novels in one sitting without putting them down.  I try to emulate him in some ways, but I think his stories are considerably shorter than mine.

Anyway, I had hoped that today I could pick up reading where I left off last night, before I forgot too many details, but this entire day has been all about storm clean up, obnoxious animal behaviors, sh*t, sh*t, and more sh*t.  You see, I can't successfully clean up dog poop and horse manure when it's wet, so things piled up over the past couple of days.  I was frantically trying to clean up all the p**p, but the dogs and horses were cra*pping faster than I could shovel. 

I'd be outside shoveling manure and get so discouraged every time another mare walked up to me and cr*pped in my space, or worse yet, left a fresh pile right where I just finished cleaning, that I'd run in the house to get away from all the horse p**p only to run right smack into a pile of dog cr*p on the carpet.  I'd clean that up, take all the dogs outside, and no one would do anything.  I'd put them inside, and suddenly find another fresh pile on the carpet.  Somebody even p**ped on the kitchen floor this morning, and nobody has ever messed with that room.  The dogs lick that floor, for Pete's sake.

This is all bad behaviors as a result of storm phobias.  The dogs get stressed out by the sounds of wind, rain and thunder, and they become afraid to go outside.  They can't relax enough to relieve themselves outside.  They also don't like walking on wet dirt, so every bodily function winds up getting eliminated indoors.  Lovely. 

I even left them outside in the dog kennel for a couple of hours, but they just barked to be let back into the house because they had to go to the bathroom so bad.  For some reason they won't p** or p** in that kennel, even though that is what I bought it for.  I give up.  I'm an epic failure when it comes to house training dogs.  I've tried every potty training technique in the book and even came up with a few innovative ideas of my own, but nothing has worked.  I've been working on Stewie for eight months now and he's no better than he was as a six-month-old puppy.  At this point, I'd like to just have some gifted dog trainer come live with us for a couple of weeks to whip this problem out of my life.  It's no fun being surrounded by sewer smells.

The mares have also been obnoxious, p**ping and p**ing in my face.  They very deliberately walk up to me, turn their butts toward me, and let loose.  It's as if they are saying, "Here janitor, clean this up for me, will ya?"

I finally got so sick of that rude behavior that I sprayed Lostine with the hose to get her away from me.  I happened to have the hose in my hand when I turned to find yet another waterfall of urine splattering me while I was attempting to clean the barn.  Lostine scurried off with her wet tail between her legs and gave me this look that said, "Don't be expecting me to give you a ride anytime soon unless you want to wind up face first in the dirt."

Between coyotes, stray dogs, people walking their dogs off leash and letting them p**p on my property, and toad t*rds, my driveway feels like it is rigged with land mines.  Careful where you step.

The manure situation has been getting out of control all summer, and I've just been waiting for it to cool down in order to deal with it.  We bought a flatbed trailer and are having sides put on it so that we can start shoveling manure into it and making trips to the dump.  The only problem is that the landfill fees are six times more expensive here than they were where I used to live.  At my old place, we used the manure to fertilize the lawns, and we had a lot of lawns, so we actually only needed to take manure to the dump once or twice over the 12 years we kept horses there.

The round pen footing has gotten nasty with having horses running around in there all summer, so I have been raking up all the rocks their hooves have kicked up, prying boulders out of the ground, and then laying down a layer of soft manure once the rocks are out of the way.  It's a grueling process, especially in the heat and humidity.  In years past, my kids helped with those kinds of chores, so we could get it all done in a couple of weeks, but this time I'm on my own.  I'm worried that this project could take months.  I basically go out and do a little of something each time a cloud passes in front of the sun.

I'm so up to my elbows in p**p that I now let out a sigh of relief whenever one of my horses p**ps on the trails, because that's one less pile I have to clean up.  When I rode in the Eastern Sierra, I'd get off and kick the manure off the trail into the bushes, because the trails were very narrow, sandy, and man made.  Hikers frequented them, and hiking clubs maintained them, so I didn't want the horseback riders to wear out their welcome or worse yet, be banned from using the trails due to leaving too many messes behind.  However, p**p disappears in the desert pretty quick.  I don't know if it's the heat or the wind or animals scavenging, but the manure just isn't much of a problem out there.

There were many moments today where I thought about hopping on a horse and just heading out to escape the non-stop p**page, but I suspect I'd be navigating mud puddles and temporary lakes everywhere I went.  One thing that is good about all this rain besides the obvious of getting much needed water during a drought is that raking up the rocks is easier when the ground is moist.  I can just rake the rocks out without taking the good footing with it.  Well, I'm off to do more raking and shoveling.  Wish me luck, a nice breeze and some cloud cover.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Post Storm Photos and a Photobomber

The arroyo in our back yard is one of the places we can go to find complete peace, quiet and stillness.  But not today.  While I was down there taking pictures of the remnants of the flood, the neighbor behind me pulled his race car out of his garage and began revving the engine while his pit crew showed up in all their noisy trucks to help with the tune-up.  Really, dude?  You're going to race in this weather?  We just got record breaking rainfall.  You might want to check the track conditions.

Really, Lostine?  I just gave you a bath!

Someone was having difficulties sharing the attention.

What a Difference a Day Makes

The heat and humidity over the past three to four months have been getting old, but this morning I am actually sitting in my house with no ceiling fans or air conditioners running thanks to Tropical Storm Norbert.  I also got my morning shower outside with my clothes on.  I had a feeling this storm would be a doozy, and I even considered seeing if we could get some flood insurance, because every time it rains here, the water runs right up to our front door, and anything more than the usual amount could get inside the house.  Fortunately, the ground has been soaking it up pretty well.  My wheelbarrows were full to the rims with rainwater, so I know we got several inches of rain in a very short period of time overnight.

We have a flood running through the arroyo in our back yard, and streams are running through the barn.  People are trapped on the freeway and other roadways, their cars submerged in water and stuck in mud.  The roof of a store collapsed.  Many schools and businesses are closed.  I woke up to find that someone crashed into the safety barrier at the back of our property that was put there to prevent drivers from crashing down the cliff into the arroyo in our back yard.

I suspect someone hit it while backing up to turn around.  It's one of those things that nearly happens a dozen times a day.  I wonder whose going to fix it?  Hopefully, the county will do it, because we certainly don't need anymore work.  Fixing things that other people broke just seems to be the theme of my life at times.  I'm beyond tired of it.

Here's a picture I took of the moon and clouds last night before the rain started...