Name the Buckskin!

Hi. I am The Horse Wtih No Name. No, I have not been ridden over the desert. Please do not call me "Buck".
Hi. I am The Horse With No Name. No, I have not been ridden in the desert, and I don’t mind being out in the rain. And I can remember my name, if I had one. A little help please…? p.s. I hate “Neil”.

First order of business:

We need a name for the above buckskin.  What should we call The Hunk who also happens to be a knock out? Suggestions?

We knew you’d help.

Second order of business:

Catching up with Bella:

As you know, Phil went home after the trial period.  Hudson had nothing to do with this (If I keep repeating this statement, it might be true?), other than pointing out Phil might be a tad timid for a rope horse.

Bella has shopped for months, while practicing on the spare rope horses that belong to friends.  Somehow, she STILL managed to make it into the national team roping finals.  Without owning a horse, or even roping off the same horse. For us wanna-be dressage queens, that’s a feat equivalent with catch-riding a bunch of different level dressage horses, and qualifying to ride in a National-Level Grand Prix.

She found her horse two weeks before Nationals.  The above buckskin with no name.

Bella is a competitor. With a capital C.

Oh, I'm just a normal cowgirl. Kinda made it to high point call back.  It was fun.
Oh, I’m just a normal cowgirl. Made it to the finals run in Nationals on a horse I barely know. Had a good time.

I asked Bella if there was a live feed, so I could watch the roping.  She said she’d text me her competition numbers, but timing was inexact, since they run one hundred teams an hour.

Pause while Jane tries to process that statement.

“Um. How many teams ARE there?”, I ask.

“Twelve hundred or so, I think, was the last count?”, Bella replies.

Or twelve hours straight of roping. For three days.

2,400 horses and riders? Holy crap! I try to picture this.  Fail. Turn the image into sprinkles on a cake. Much better. Now I can visualize the odds.

Strangely, the odds make me hungry.

Focus, Jane, FOCUS.

She’s doing this on a horse she’s known less than 10 days?

Carlos, Bella’s boyfriend and my adopted brother, texted me the above photo on the last night of competition:

Carlos: “high point entry”

I immediately texted back.

Jane: “Thanks. What does that MEAN?”

Carlos: “finals”

Jane: “Thanks. What does THAT mean?”

Carlos: “Good run, they could win.”

Holy crap. I really really really need to go to the gym.  In this lifetime.

Jane, still not sure I understand: “Uh. So she made it into the elite group that competes to win the whole shebang? The national title?”

Carlos: “Yep”.

Man of few words.

I think about the variables involved: two horses, two people, one random ticked-off steer determined NOT to be caught, and probably around 6 seconds for the two horses, two people, two ropes, and one ticked-off steer to come together at speed.

It feels physically impossible. So much could go wrong. You aren’t relying on only yourself and your horse. Off by a fraction in timing, communication…a rogue steer…partner misses, you miss…it all happens.

Out of 1200 teams, they made it into the elite high point teams, despite a rough first day of competition: all her points were scored on day two. Day three, she’s qualified for a shot at the national title.

(They didn’t win the title, but they did rank very high in the finals!)

We are SO PROUD of you, Bella!

Bella and Carlos, at team roping practice:

Now you can see no name horse in action. What do we call him? He wants to know!
Now you can see no name horse in action. What do we call him? He wants to know!

Comment away!

Let’s hear those “I’m a bad *ss  – but handsome – dude who happens to be a real softie” names…

Why My Shoelaces are Fascinating

I surveyed The Potential New Training Facility with the Trainer. She’s vibrating with happy energy. We were standing in the parking lot, from which you can see practically the entire property. It’s a privately owned breeding barn, no boarders, complete with fully functioning separate barn to lease out to Trainer. The lease details are worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. All that remains is her signature. I can see she’s already in virtual moving mode: unpacking things in her brain, arranging horses and gear.

This is absolutely the right place. Her business had quickly outgrown my boarding barn.  She’s good. Makes me happy that other people see HOW good.

Facility has everything she needs in a good training barn. Huge arena, excellent footing, incredible owners, hot walker, turn outs, a ginormous (covered, lit) round pen….and the holy grail of Training Barns everywhere: hot/cold water wash racks AND washer and dryer. Oh, and full size fridge and freezer. (No more ice trips!)

Man oh man. I’m happy.  But also a bit sad.  I’m going to lose the Hudson-Vision that’s run in the background of all my barn days.  That was a perk, but definitely not a deal-breaker. Obviously, I’ll still see him.

“What do you think?”, she says, correctly reading my dropped jaw to mean this place is AWESOME.

“I think it’s fabulous”, I say, without an iota of hesitation.

We’ve already checked out the feed: top quality. Paddock water troughs cleaned weekly. Stall auto-waterers are huge, not the chin dippers, and cleaned out bi-weekly.  Place is immaculate. Horses are drop dead gorgeous. Healthy, obviously well cared for.

“Any issues?”, she says, hoping she hasn’t missed anything.

“Just one that I can think of?”, I say, gazing lingeringly at the property from the parking area.  “You realize we’ve stood here for 45 minutes, just staring, right? Do you think we will ever go to work?”

We both crack up. I continue.

“I think we’ll park, and then spend at least 30 minutes checking the tightness of our shoelaces. Right. Here.”

“Wanna risk it?”, she says, clearly understanding I just said: where do I sign up?

“I’m good with shoelace obsessing”, I say.

We crack up again.

That was a few months ago.

We’re all moved in. Everyone is happy. There’s a winery across the street. We’re surrounded by grape vines and apple orchards. Since its private property, no rider has misused the fantastic standing offer by neighbors to ride along the rights-of-way that cut through the vines, orchards and fields. TRAILS.

I took these cell photos yesterday morning, from the parking lot.

We call this the Infinity Arena....
We call this the Infinity Arena….who needs an infinity pool? We have horses to ride!

Riding in this arena feels like a cross between flying

Imagine being on horseback here...
Imagine being on horseback here…      (photo credit)

and riding atop of the Great Wall of China.

and riding here...at the same time. Except arena is wider...
okay….arena is slightly wider…but you get the idea.        (photo credit)

Who cares if you missed a cue?  LOOK AT THAT VIEW. (There may be a few horses taking advantage of this.)

Check out the orangish row dots at lower right. Wine grapes. Hills of them. Maybe Hudson could use a teeny tiny bit of training after all?

There's a winery behind me too.
Obsessing over shoelaces. Will I ever get them tight?  (Um. No.)

Life is good.  The people are exceptional. The horses, fantastic.

And I have the Best. Shoelaces. Ever.

I’m Still Not Dead Yet!

Unless we count Dead Busy and Dead Happy.

(Except for the blogging part.  I’d like to be Dead Happy Blogging too.)

I finally have my dream “work”, which involves a lot of transferring dirt from various horses to my person. Also a lot of smiling.

Translation for the non-horsey: I come home filthy.  Covered in grime and horse slobber.  Life is good.

The trainer I am helping is just plain fantastic.  In every way.  The nightmare stories about working for a screaming, over-demanding, blaming trainer?  Not her.  We laugh a lot. I make a mistake, I own it, we move on to how she wants things done.  No drama.

Because we are in the Arabian show world now, I do a lot of tail maintenance. We’re talking twelve-foot tails here, folks.  I hit the jackpot on My Little Ponies.

Here’s Laurie’s mare, Ginger, with her ten foot tail:

IMG_3634 Ginger's tail
Rapunzel, Rapunzel… Uh. Holy Moly. That is a lot of golden hair…

Pre-washing.  It’s a bit longer after the waves are washed out.

A lot has happened.  It’s show season. Our 5-time national champion horse/rider team became  7-time national champions. Between shows, the training barn moved out of my barn, and into its own facility.  Of which you will soon see stunning pics.  It’s a miracle I don’t spend the entire day in the parking lot, rendered speechless and immobile by the view.

Phil was Phixed, but went back home after the trial period.  Hudson has a new roomie, who thankfully does not worship the ground he impatiently stomps upon. Meet Paulo. (The Yoga Master.)

IMG_1673 Hudson and Paulo
Dude. Chill. I’m doing my nightly yoga on the barre. Oh. Hey, this your dinner? Wait. This is my Maori face. Not stealing. Nu-unh.

Life is 5:30 am busy, ending with 7:30 pm snoring noises.

And cake!

in Which We Meet Phil and Think About Killing Hudson

I risked my life for this photo.

Meet Phil, Bella’s new trial roping prospect:

IMG_3553
His right ear: “Are we okay? What are you DOING? You lifted your hand! We’re going to die!!”
His left ear: “I should cut and run.”

He’s a teensy bit anxious. Mix in quick, athletic, slightly phobic, and feels safest with other horses, and you can see some of what needs to be addressed. He’s also cute, sweet, and has a killer cowhorse stop. Asking him to stop from the canter is akin to those car commercials where the car suddenly stops dead at a wall or sheer cliff. Unbelievable.  Exhilarating.  Death defying.

FUN.

I like Phil.

Hudson likes Phil too. Hudson likes being a God.  Phil believes Hudson Knows All. He encourages Hudson to pontificate.

The first time I ponied Phil, the conversation went like this:

Phil: GAH. What is that? Are we afraid of that?

Hudson: No. Hay cart. Shut up.

Phil: Okay.

pause

Phil: Are we afraid of THAT?

Hudson: NO. Cat. Shut. Up.

Phil: Okay.

pause

Phil: What about that?

Hudson: Dude. It’s grass. We eat it. Chill.

Phil: Okay.

pause

Phil: (trembling) What about that?!?

Hudson: (long pause, then some concession) Sometimes.  Trainer.  Avoid.

Phil: Okay.

Recently, I was ponying Phil off Hudson. Phil had mostly settled down after a few ponies. The hay barn had been cleaned out for a new shipment, and there was a long narrow piece of black plastic blowing back and forth on the ground, making scary serial killer/chainsaw noises. It whispered: “come closer, I have a cookie.  Then I’m going to dismember you alive….whoohahahaha.”

Hudson planted.  Snorted. Grew another 20 feet tall. Scared the crap out of Phil who hadn’t seen the plastic, causing him to do three Looney Tunes style double-takes.

Looney-Tunes-cn18
Copyright: Warner Bros.
(Marvin the Martian in the role of “Hay Barn”

When Hudson is spooked, I let him look at whatever, process it, and figure out what the thing may be. Then he’s good.  After a few minutes of staring at softly swooshing black plastic, from twenty feet in the air, with a hysterical Phil bouncing on the line, Hudson was ready to walk up to it and investigate.  He wasn’t afraid.

Phil: We’re NOT afraid of this?!?

Hudson: I don’t think so…

Phil: Okay. Wait. You don’t think so???

We investigate. Hudson decides it’s NBD. He reverts from Hulk-sized to horse-size, relaxes, his eyes stray to the hay, and the plastic is not on his radar. Two seconds later, I realize his brain has marinated about Phil and his anxieties.

Hudson fake snorts.  Prances. Calculates if he can snatch a mouthful of hay out of causing a distraction.

Phil is bouncing up and down and weaving back and forth, trying hard not to lose it completely.  I smack Hudson on the neck.  He flicks his ears.  FINE. I just wanted a bite. But his brain keeps processing.  We pass the plastic 400 more times with Hudson on the buckle, yawning, and Phil having successively lessening panic attacks.

Horses. Never go to the barn with a plan that includes an ending time.

Yesterday, I progressed to riding Phil and ponying Hudson.

IMG_3551
This is stupid. Please note I AM NOT HAPPY. Stop talking to him. You’re MINE.

Now we had a three-way conversation going:

Phil: I don’t WANT to be in front.

Hudson: I can handle it.  Move over.

Jane: Hudson, knock it off.  Phil, you’re first.

Hudson: Killjoy.

Phil: But he wants to…and I don’t?

Jane: Phil. Go.

Phil: Going…this okay?

Hudson: No.

Jane: Perfect.

We come up to the hay barn. Phil tries to appear as if he’s walking forward while walking backward. Hudson is smirking. The black plastic is long gone.

I let Phil look at the hay barn. He settles down.  I ask him to walk forward. He cautiously tip toes forward. I ask to stop. We stop so fast that I have to fight the reverse button.  I sneak a glance at Hudson. He’s not yawning.  We stand for a few minutes.

Just as I am about to ask Phil to take another few steps toward the hay (which I would let both of them taste), Hudson’s ears swivel forward dramatically and he leaps in place, one eye on Phil, the other on the grass to his right.

 I. Am. Gonna. Kill. Hudson. Days worth of work, and he knows Phil is going to go with him, not me, or even himself.

I get Phil under control and yank Hudson before he can get his head all the way down to the grass.

Hudson: Geeze…it was just a joke. You don’t have to be so rough.

Phil:  AH AH AH AH AH AH AH

Jane: Phil, he’s having you on, forget forward, just pass the dang barn, okay?

Phil: ACK ACK ACK ACK ACK

Hudson: Heh heh heh heh heh

Jane: One more “heh” and I am going to “forget” your happy meal.  Knock it off.

Hudson: Killjoy.

Phil: Are we going to live? Are we alive? Is it gone yet? I still see it.  I think I still see it?

Jane: We’re alive.  Keep walking.

I see another 400 rounds past the hay barn in our future.  After round 200, Phil’s settled down. I decide to switch directions: may as well get over the hay barn in both directions.

We make a couple of passes.  All goes well.  I’m thinking of quitting for the day. Just as we hit the mid-point of the hay barn on what I’ve decided is our last pass, Hudson takes advantage of my focus on getting Phil calmly through the worst part.  He yanks the lead suddenly, something he’s never done, and manages to get about 3 feet of play. He darts behind Phil’s butt, mouth open, ready to chomp grass.  He tosses in a little panicked leap. Phil now has a serial killing hay barn on his right, a rope around his butt, an apparently terrified Hudson charging away from the monster, and me, who says: “Dude. It’s fine”.

He’s so overloaded all he can do is panic without moving. He can’t go right: Monster.  He can’t go left: Hudson.  He can’t back up: still Monster.  He can’t go forward: listening to Jane, who has clearly lied through her teeth about monsters.

Hudson: heh heh heh. GRASS! Score.

Phil: WHAT DO I DO?????

Jane: (reluctantly dropping Hudson’s lead, for safety) Go forward.

Phil: Okay okay okay okay okay.  Going forward. WAIT.  Where’s Hudson?  I can’t go without HUDSON.

Hudson: (muffled by mouthfuls of grass) heh heh heh. You go.  I’ll be here.

Jane: Can I just hit my head quietly on a wall somewhere?

What is the one thing you do not want to do with a smart horse planning a coup?  Reward him.  By turning him loose on grass.  I take one of Phil’s looooong split reins and wallop Hudson.  He flinches in surprise, but not enough to raise his head.  He knows I can grab the lead rope if he lifts his head.

Great.  All I’ve done is terrify Phil. Not only do I lie to him about monsters, I whack the guy he trusts with his own rein.

If it wouldn’t scare Phil, I’d start banging my head on his neck.

Hudson: Bang your head. He won’t mind.  I swear. (heh heh heh)

If You’re Happy and You Know it Clop Your Hooves

Hudson developed a slight problem.

His right knee got a bit bigger, with  arthritic changes normal for an older horse. His soundness level didn’t change.

I’m seriously over qualified for two careers:

  1. Master Obsesser
  2. Professional Annoyer

If I had either of these careers, we’d all be boarding at Jane’s Fabulous Barn of Many Horse Wonders, for $50 a month. Because I could afford the tax write off, and I would love to see you all every day.

Hudson tried to launch my new careers.  He banged the arthritic knee on the one lonely 6′ section of pipe fencing, while messing around with his pasture mate.

No heat, no swelling, not lame.  Slightly bruised.  Fine to the touch in three days. The bump on the knee began to grow, in a “Hey. Is that bigger today? Nah.” sort of way. He’s still sound.

Exhibit A: The problem knee.  Attached to the problem leg he likes to stick through fences.  Because the dirt on the other side is softer.

Weird, huh. He looks like his normal, big-boned self.

Hudson yesterday: poised to swan dive into his Happy Meal.
Hudson yesterday: poised to swan dive into his Happy Meal.

Then his knee went all Pinocchio on me.

Problem? What problem?
Jane’s successful career launch.

How can he be SOUND?!?

Two things happened:

  1. I couldn’t handle the stress I was creating.  I was annoying myself.
  2. Hudson’s chiropractor, a competitive roper and fantastic chiro, sighed compassionately at my anxiety, picked up Hudson’s leg and bent that knee to full flexion. Hudson didn’t blink. It didn’t hurt.

The joint is that mobile?? I instantly saw the possibility of an obsessionless future.  One in which I wouldn’t be afraid to hand walk, ride, pony or touch Hudson.

I called our vet, Jamie Kerr, and made an appointment for lameness exam and possible x-rays. (If you’re going to do it, use the best, right?) Jamie spent most of his life preparing and riding in the Tevis, or vetting the Tevis. He’s seen every possible lameness on the planet.  Hopefully even non-lame lameness.

I worried (surprise!) that it would be a little tricky to explain why I wanted a lameness exam on a sound horse.  Meghan, the clinic’s office manager, was also wonderfully compassionate.

Oh good.  They’re familiar with nut cases.

If it looks like an arthritic calcium deposit, walks like an arthritic calcium deposit, and creaks like an arthritic calcium deposit, it should BE an arthritic calcium deposit, even if we don’t want one, right?

This is the good part of finding oneself in the middle of Chaos Theory.

It didn’t walk or creak properly. He DID have Pinocchio Knee.

Copyright: Disney
Copyright: Disney

Jimminey Cricket. The knee was lying.

Jamie has to be the kindest vet in existence. Before the physical exam, he asked me Hudson’s age and history, explained it looked like an injury common in older race horses, cow horses, and over-used brood mares. I think he expected what we all expected: calcification of an arthritic joint.

After the physical exam, it seemed to me that Jamie was cautiously excited.  He had me press my finger on the point. I’d been afraid to press it hard. Hudson had no pain reaction, and my finger went in about half an inch.

It GAVE.

Bone doesn’t give.

Jamie x-rayed.  I don’t think either of us could believe the image that came up on the laptop. A nearly perfect knee-joint, with tons of fluid padding between the bones, and only very minor arthritic changes that Jamie had to point out to me.

No flashing arrow that said “Your Horse Has Arthritis, Stupid”.

The Pinocchio Protrusion didn’t show up on any of the x-rays.

It’s chronic soft tissue inflammation.  With no heat.

My older horse, who spent all his life in hard work, has the joints of a nine-year-old.

Jamie said, “How old did you say he was, again?”

Hudson is going to be 24 in seventeen days.

I had to break the bad news to Hudson: “Jamie says no more galloping, no fast starts or stops, and no dressage circles. Nothing with sharp turns. You get to do trail rides, walk, trot and lope. But only in big arcs or straight aways”

I think all he heard was “no circles”, as he raced off into his paddock, bucking and joyful.

Would You Like Some Fries with That?

My entrance into helping at the training barn caused a disturbance in the force.

The former helper was male. The training barn is heavily weighted to mares at the moment. Apparently, they looked forward to their cabana boy.

They were not exactly unhappy with me. Ears swiveled at each other: “It’s not cabana boy! Is this good or bad?”

The geldings response was instant and welcoming: Awesome. Dude, look! It’s a chick! One youngster was oddly gleeful: “Mommy!! Where have you been?!?”  Um. Right here, I guess?

The mares decided to hold a sorority meeting after the barn was closed up for the night.

Girls in a herd are much trickier to navigate than boys.  Ask any high school boy who’s been brave enough to attempt cutting a girl out of the herd. It usually doesn’t go well.

I think about this. It’s never good when one is left out of a sorority meeting.

I was new: I expected to get the horse version of super-glue-to-the-chair, notes passed behind my back, and a blackboard scrawled with derogatory “Teacher is…” phrases when I walked into the barn.

I wasn’t going in blind. The trainer gave me a rough overview of personalities, quirks, and habits.  I was looking forward to one quiet alpha mare in particular.  Barn staff had nominated her as “Least Likely to be Difficult”. Very sweet mare.  Her quirk: she dislikes having her blanket touched. Problematic, since I’ll be taking it off and putting it on at least twice a day.

The next morning, I walked into a barn of unusually docile mares. Sweet faces innocently hang over stall doors. Stupidly, this did not activate either my Mom Mayday Siren or Substitute Teacher Hazard Warning Lights.

Awww… They like me! How cool is that?

I unblanket, groom, bandage and lunge the higher-strung Alphas before the arena is packed.

They were perfectly behaved.

Relaxed, and in the rhythm, I went on to the less-amped alpha and beta mares, leaving Miss Least Likely for last.

Fortunately, beyond The Mare Stare of Death, and slight ear pinning, she’s never acted her feelings out. I remove her blanket under the Death Stare. Try to coax her ears forward. Nada.

Oh well.  We go about grooming and working.

Apparently the Sorority of Mares had a secret nomination and a hazing plan.

Guess which mare drew the short straw?

Returning her to her stall, I quietly pull the blanket over Miss Least Likely’s head, adjust it, and reach under her belly for the strap to fasten her blanket, pleased her ears are momentarily forward.

(I’m making progress! She likes me!)

A flash of movement and a searing pain on my butt instantly told me that while I thought I was cooing this message: “Its safe, you can trust me.” She received this message: “YOU can be the Alpha Mare, I, Jane, am a wimp, please take over.”

You could do a dental ID on this mare by photographing my rear. It’s clear she’s had excellent dental care. Beautiful teeth. Nice and even grip.

Mares 1. Jane 0.

Luckily, she was self-correcting. She had a violent reaction to biting me: assuming (somewhat correctly) I was going to beat her to death, she backed up, reared, and hit her head, looking shocked and startled. She was convinced I’d somehow managed to correct her from afar. I glared at her, to reinforce her mistaken idea I’d actually done the correction. It’s hard to glare when you are mad at yourself for being stupid, not the glare-ee for acting horse-like. But I took one for the team.

Before I shut the stall door behind me, I notice every single mare in he barn is on high alert. Our interchange had been closely monitored. Oh. Good. Miss Least Likely’s huge reaction did me a favor: they all believe I aggressively turned on her and instantly dealt out alpha mare justice.

I’m not about to set them straight. I glare at them too, until they turn away, or put their heads down.

I calm Miss Least Likely by ignoring my throbbing butt, forcing myself to relax, and unnecessarily adjusting her blanket until the tension drains from her body. When she pins her ears, I get in her face. Her ears go forward, relieved. She didn’t really want to be the boss.  She lowers her head and nudges me: I had to. I drew the short straw. Sorry? Do over?

I rub her face.

Do over.

Happy Birthday Barbie!

This is Daisy’s mare, (and my niece) Barbie,  hopefully in order of age progression. She turned 8 years old on Sunday.

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Barbie is Murphy’s mom, for those just joining us.  She needed to be retired early, but shines on: she is a wonderful mother.  This is a mare you’d want to have a foal by.  She was very strict with Murphy, saving humans a lot of work, which is probably partly why his manners have remained decent into the terrible two’s.

She’s one of my favorite horses of all time.  I just love this horse. Barbie is an eye magnet.  You can’t help but want to watch her.  (Stare, produce cookies, groom, hug, massage, dream….)

Happy Birthday Barbie!

Woodrow 1996 – 2013

Woodrow: talented, affectionate, appreciative. kind, and full of hugs.

Mr. Personality.  Working the “Tousled and Adorable” thing:
Woodrow

This is what he looked like when he came off the trailer.

After only a few months with Bella: an offensive linebacker. All muscle, all bloom:
Woodrow portrait

Checking out the farrier’s work. Dude. Nice set of irons. That’s gonna look so sharp!

IMG_5592

Initiating the Farrier Taste Test: Nope. Not like chicken. We’re good.

Woodrow Taste Test

And last, just for you Woodrow. A photo of your nostril for the blog. You were right. Hilarious.  Goofy. Sweet. Just like you.

Woodrow nostril

Thank you for giving me all the hugs I needed, when Hudson wasn’t in the mood. Thank you for making Bella so happy. And that last working roping? You were AWESOME.

General Update with Weird Fish Photo

FYI, this is just an  update. (Think station identification.) There’s no good writing below, and nothing particularly amusing or interesting.  Feel free to ignore if  you are in need of a humor fix.  No offense taken.

Some recommendations: a particular non-horse related favorite of mine is Listful Thinking.  For a horsey fun fix, Haiku Farm is a good choice. Carnival of the Horses is up at Equine Ink too.

Go. Have fun! Having fun is never wrong here. See? Here’s a fish that had surgery.

(Zemanta automatically searched photos it thinks match my blog topic, below is the top match.  Who am I to argue?)

Fish, post-surgery, with Helpful Arrow:

This doesn't even look like Shaun.

The Update:

Shaun’s surgery went incredibly well.

The surgeon was positively beaming after it was over, when he came to talk to me.

Now we’re in the harder part, where it hurts a lot – A LOT – and she has to not only deal with the intense pain, but make it worse on purpose.  Surgery was yesterday.  She was walking today (right before she passed out).

If everything continues on the excellent (if horrifically painful) physical trajectory, she is way ahead of schedule in recovery.  I can’t imagine what this would be like for someone ON schedule, if she’s considered far ahead.

I asked the Universe (fine, I begged the Universe) to help me keep my sense of humor before we went into this, since I’d seriously misplaced it along with any shred of perspective for such a long time. (As you know!)

I was kinda anxious that the surgery/recovery intensity would push me over the edge, and I’d hit that humorless bottom again. And be depressing. And needy.  And whiny.

Ha.

It’s true.  Ask and ye shall receive.

The Universe has been delivering hilarity in spades, even in these circumstances.  (I wrote it a lovely thank you note.) I was forced to email Daisy and Bella from the waiting room while Shaun’s surgery was in progress, because the situation was so weirdly funny.

I was afraid I was going to burst out laughing in front of the exhausted and terrified people also waiting to hear what happened with their family member.  Laughing would have been so unkind.  Lucky for me, Bella and Daisy were at work at 6 am, so I could get it out quietly, in email. They are my go-to tech support for humor management.

As soon as I get some sleep and we get Shaun home, or almost home, I hope to share some of it with you, if I can convey how funny it was.

I sure hope these weren’t, “I guess you had to be there” experiences.

Keywords: (so I don’t forget what I want to relay: hurry-up-and-wait, snoring, surgical glee, Mariachi, pigeon Spanish, green legs and ham, undiscovered harmonica talent, Standing Wrap/standing applause.) Can you believe all this in just two days?!?

Due to illness, surgeon emergency, etc. Shaun’s surgery was rescheduled 3 times.

So happy it’s no longer looming. Third time was the charm!

In Which the Bathroom Explodes, Cubits are Required, and Murphy Monday is Postponed

I noticed our water bill was far too high for January.

Hellooo. It’s January. We just let the plants freeze to death.

We have low-flow everything (including brain cells). Hmmm.
I noticed one of the toilets was running, in a minute sort of way. Fixed it.
A few days later, I noticed it was running in an even subtler minute way. Huh.

At times, I take a page from Gone With the Wind: I’ll think about it tomorrow.

Shaun’s next surgery is on Thursday this week. The good news? She’s getting a brand new knee!

The less good news? It’s going to hurt. A lot. I figure there’s no sense waiting to worry. if I begin now, I’ll have a decent head start, and can coast into an absolute frenzy by Thursday without breaking a sweat.

I turn on the shower, get ready to get in, and wait for the hot water.

Waiting. Waiting. Dang toilet is still making that noise. Fine. I’ll turn it off at the emergency valve underneath.

Apparently the toilet has the maturity level of a 3-year-old with a boo-boo. “Don’t TOUCH it! Don’t LOOK at it!” I bend over simply to look at the shut off valve.

It explodes out of the wall.

A split second later valve is followed by about 100 gallons of icy water.

Very James Bond.

My first solution depends a lot on Magical Thinking:

NO! I ABSOLUTELY CAN’T HANDLE THIS RIGHT NOW. TAKE IT BACK!

I try to stuff the broken valve back on the spewing pipe. Have you ever tried to screw a nozzle on a hose when the water is turned on full blast? It was sort of like that, if you add in lack of clothing, Disney-Like water show sprays and arcs, and me screaming for help. Screaming is a good indicator of Magical Thinking: I knew no one else was home.

I believe this firmly answers the philosophical question: when a trees falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make noise?

YES. The pipe burst, and there was no one to hear me screaming. I definitely heard myself.

Finally, after bracing myself against the vanity, and pushing as hard as I could, I got the valve jammed on the pipe. Minor dribbling. Mucho pressure back at me.

This bought me some time to think it through, once I stopped swearing, and before hypothermia set in.

My clothes are floating around me in 3″ of water. I’m stretched out like a trussed pig. There is no back up.

  • The water needs to be turned off at the main junction, between street and house.
  • If I let go, a zillion more gallons will flood the house.
  • That timing scenario doesn’t include yanking on proper emergency attire.

I dismiss the running-naked-out-of-the house option. We all know that wishing this hadn’t happened is a much more productive line to pursue.

Annnnd….hypothermia begins to set in. To think I believed, only minutes ago, having high water pressure was a good thing.

I’m going to have to let go and let Act of God.

Plan A: Pulling on fully saturated jeans in under 10 minutes: unthinkable. 10 minutes at 100 gallons a minute….we’re talking CUBITS of water here. Noah’s ark levels of water.

Plan B: Hoisting a fully saturated 40 pound towel and slapping it around me: 10 seconds.

Good to go. Plan B it is.

Towel mostly in place, I dash out the back door, shedding water in sheets.

I stop dead on the stairs. Did the lock just click? GAH. Don’t think! Find the shut off valve! There!
I slam it down. I hear the water stop rushing into the house.

I resist the urge to wave at the neighbors as I run slap-slop up the stairs.

Door. There is a God. Unlocked!

I open cupboards and dump baskets. Now I can say ‘I told you so’ to Shaun, who accuses me of towel hoarding.

Water has spilled out the bathroom, pushed down the hall, and is making a bee-line for the bedroom. Doesn’t bother with Micah’s room off the hall. Huh. He’s protected by the biblical name?(Or the house isn’t as level as I thought.) I pull a register cover off the bathroom floor. Three inches of gently undulating water fill the heating duct. CRAP.

By one am, with everyone’s help as they slosh in, all the water is soaked up, a giant fan is on, I’m properly clothed, and we are once again safe from unnatural disaster and horrifying nakedness.

Shaun has found a plumber, and made an appointment for 7 am. No weekend overtime charges. Yay, Shaun!

Problem: everything is fine now, right?

Not according to my brain. I will no longer coast into an emotional frenzy on Thursday. The frenzy decides The Exploding Bathroom is what we’ve been working toward. Thus begins the hysterical crying, hiccups, and (yes) why-me moaning.

I hear feet shuffling and shoulders huddling outside the bathroom door. “Jane, what’s wrong?!” And
“Mom, you okay?”

“Nooooo….”, I wail.

Nothing feels okay.

My brain latches onto a random thought that, at the time, feels like a logical explanation of my overwrought state, and I respond:

“What Is a CUBIT?!”