Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's Been a Blitz

The past few weeks have been a complete blitz.  I'm having trouble remembering everything that happened, but it seemed to happen all at once, and I'm hoping to get back to a more relaxed pace with a predictable routine.  While in Hawaii, our horseback guide convinced us to drive around the perimeter of the big island to see Kona.  We only made it as far as the outskirts of the city, and there was so much traffic that I made a hard left and blasted right past it.  I don't take a vacation to get stuck in traffic.  I was happy in Hilo and the jungle side of the island.

The drive ended up taking several hours and my foot was getting numb on the gas pedal.  Then a torrential storm hit and it was like someone was pouring marbles all over our rental car.  There was very limited visibility in places, and not enough of a shoulder to pull over.  My husband reminded me that 25 years before on that same day we were stuck in a blizzard driving around the perimeter of Lake Tahoe.  That's how we spent our honeymoon.  Life is so ironic.

Our poor rental car took a beating.  Some slob in a white minivan slammed their driver's side door right into our passenger door in a parking lot where there was plenty of room to exit without causing door dings.  Our car had a dent and white paint on it.  Their door had a dent in it and paint missing at the same level as our dent.  I took down a description of the car and the license plate number.

Also, I usually drive trucks and don't have to worry about my front end hitting parking space blocks, but our little Mazda 3 kept getting caught on them.  My husband pointed out that the front end was all smashed in after I had hit a couple of concrete blocks.  I couldn't believe that was all me, because I didn't even feel a jolt or hear a scrape, and the front end of this thing was mangled from multiple small dents.  We weren't asked to do a walk through and record all the dents on the car before renting it, so I never noticed what condition it was in before we drove off in it.  We were prepared to contact our insurance company if the agency inspected the car upon return and decided I was responsible for the newer dents and scrapes, but nothing came of it.  I'm not even sure what the purpose is for those concrete blocks.  Most are not wide enough to stop a car's tires if it rolls.  Maybe people thought of them kind of like hitching posts for cars?

We boarded our second plane in Honolulu and it was very stuffy because they had turned off the air.  Then the pilot announced that we were grounded on the tarmac until Air Force One landed and the President was escorted out of the airport.  I was like, "Come on!  They had to know he was coming and could have just kept us in the waiting area instead of packing us onto the stuffy plane to wait."  But then again, maybe for security reasons airports are not notified of his arrival until the last minute.  I heard someone yell "Air!" and they turned it on.  I was so exhausted that I slept the majority of the 7 hour flight home with my head on my purse.  When we collected our luggage, we found that it had been searched.  We hadn't packed anything that should have caused suspicion, so I think that under the circumstances, everyone's bags were being searched as a precaution.  I also had a security officer with a wand and gloves pull up my shirt and search my waistband.  That was a first for me.

While we were gone, my daughter took care of the dogs and horses while trying to get her classroom ready for next semester.  She was asked to meet with her future students and teach them a lesson, in addition to observing other teachers in action.  She's gradually moving in with us since our house is closer to her new job than her condo.  I was thankful to return home from our trip to find that she decorated the house for Christmas, because I didn't have the energy to do it.  Just wrapping gifts turned out to be a 2-hour marathon.  I was glad that I had the presence of mind to order a bunch of gifts for people over the Internet before leaving on our trip, because I didn't have it in me to go shopping locally once we got home, and there really weren't very many interesting places to shop on our side of the island.  It took about three days to get past the jet lag.

Despite ordering gifts at the last minute and despite the shipping companies' delivery problems, mine all got delivered on time.  However, I was concerned about a package I still hadn't received from Chick's Saddlery containing stable supplies that I ordered six weeks before.  They took about six weeks to send my husband's saddle previously, so I'm beginning to see a pattern here.  I inquired about the missing package, and they blamed it on a couple of back-ordered items holding everything up.  The package finally arrived the day before Christmas Eve minus the back-ordered items.  One of the items was another horn bag, so that I can have one for each saddle that will carry a bottle of water.  I've been having to transfer saddle bags between saddles, and it will be nice to not have to do that anymore.  Now I just need to put together another first aid kit for the new bag.

The side pull bridle has two thick ropes for a noseband, and they are causing Rock to have a hard lump on his nose, so now I have to go buy some sheepskin and make a cover for the ropes.  One of the items my husband gave me for Christmas was a GoPro Hero camera that I can strap onto my helmet and record my horseback rides in video or still shots.  I set the camera up to take snapshots every 60 seconds.  It's got a wide angle view and should make for some fun blog pics.

Guess what my race car mechanic neighbor gave his kids for Christmas?  Guns.  So, now I get to listen to banging and popping for the next few weeks until school is back in session.  Oh well.  I suppose it's my karma, because when I was kid, I drove the neighbors crazy with my uncle's B-B gun.  I was good about only shooting at a coffee can with newspaper strapped over the front by a rubber band, but one day my brother got bored and started shooting me in the butt with it.  I tried to wrestle the gun away from him and broke my finger on top of having all those welts on my tush.  That was the end of our B-B gun.  Grandma stuck it up in her attic where we couldn't find it.  We were such idiots.

My photography instructor has been sending me feedback regarding the photos and portraits I've taken for class assignments over the past few weeks, and I'm humbled by the comments coming back from the instructor and models.  I haven't received this much praise since I was writing poetry, and I stopped writing poetry regularly about 15 years ago, and probably stopped writing it all together about 8 years ago.  Now I prefer to write fiction and blog.  I got some really great books on writing for Christmas from my son and in-laws.  Ironically, I didn't get a single picture of Christmas activities, because for once I was too busy enjoying watching others open their gifts.  I'm usually running around with a camera and don't even notice how the gift recipients react.

The horses have been grumpy and looking longingly at me each time I come outside, hoping I will take them for a ride, but I've just been too tired or busy.  I did take Lostine for a quick hand-walk on the trails on Christmas Eve just to get a sense of her physical condition, and we saw a big, fluffy coyote.  The coyote returned to our barn with a buddy the next day to drink out of the water bowl I leave out for whatever creatures are thirsty.  I don't really want the coyotes going into the barn to drink out of the horses' water troughs, so the dog bowl does the trick.

The coyotes have been getting a little too close for comfort to our dogs when we take them out on leash at night to do their business.  I saw one watching us last night, and my daughter had one run out from between the cars on the driveway.  She also accidentally stepped on a huge spider in the kitchen and it crunched, found a dead scorpion in her bedroom, and found a dead rattlesnake under the trash can while house-sitting.  We call her the "snake whisperer" because snakes always seem to show up when she's around, even though it isn't the season for them to be out and about.

So, that's my long ramble about what has been going on.  In the meantime, I'm off to tie up some loose ends.

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