Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Philosophy of Life

 I've figured out that you spend your younger years test driving philosophies of life.  You grab snippets from here and there until you have an amalgamated, mismatched, unnamable collage of mantras, beliefs and non-negotiables, all your own.

Fascinated with Buddhism in my youth, I then stayed on a Stoicism kick for at least two decades.

Reading and rereading 'Meditations' by Marcus Aurelius, it didn't resonate with me the way I was told it should... it took a trip to Central America to figure out why.  The Roman Emperor, elevated to such a lofty position, had to strive diligently to remind himself of his humanity and put himself back in touch with empathy, which gets lost in the rarified air of power.  

The most profound philosophy of life was found in the mountains of El Salvador.  Every day for these people is a struggle, from finding drinking water to keeping safe at night with gun fire erupting, it's a 3rd world country that has lot to teach us high on our 1st world  nation thrones.  Evar is the coffee plantation manager who put up with having me as his shadow for a few days, pestering him with questions.  

My take home was this:  to live with dignity and be truly happy when it's a constant struggle, you must be grounded in reality.  Optimism is a waster of time.  Who hasn't claimed optimistically that 2021 will be better than 2020?  Was your life on hold for a year while you waited for things to improve, or did you pick up a new hobby, or become the self appointed trash collector at a local park, as one friend did?

A US serviceman who'd been tortured and starved for years as a POW was asked if his optimism had kept him alive.  He said living day by day, finding gratitude for small things kept him alive--- that the optimists all died of a broken hearts when their hopes of release never came.  

Some cruise through life with occasional hardships and others have a nonstop uphill battle.  Life isn't supposed to be fair.  I take great umbrage when I'm told I'm supposed to stop living my life my way for 6 weeks.  I'm not one to part with the joys of  living life to the max because of surgery.

This is what I think of 6 weeks bed rest.  Kiss my ass.

I had a new employee to train on Monday.  And horse graves to finish fencing.

And dogs need their daily runs.

Find joy in every day, my friends, don't put it off until tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Good Old Timex Watch

 They call me Humpty Dumpty.

Except, I always get put back together. Huge shout out to my surgeon and the nursing staff at Piedmont Hospital.  Plus to friends who:  took me to town at 4 AM,  picked me up and covered for me at the barn.

Instead of electing for the stem to stern type surgery, I did my research and chose a surgeon who was willing to take his time and limit the damage doing exploratory abdominal surgery via laparoscopy.  5 incisions later in lieu of a 10" long filleting, I'm home and I'm happy.

2-1/2 hours of surgery and I'm less the dead ovary, adhesions, lumps and a pack of endometriosis.  Apparently, it looked like a trash can in there.  Colon and other organs all stuck together.  Just lovely.

I'm glad it's over, almost didn't get my cardiologist's clearance for the procedure, came down to the 11th hour, the day before.  It's been a stressful week, nay, entire month

The day of surgery, I had an Accounting midterm to take.  In order not to miss it, I wrote it at 1 AM in the morning.  

Nailed it.

Been studying every evening with my compadres.

All 6 of them are little furry jewels.

I like for my pack to stay close.

A life without dogs isn't worth living.

After surgery, I promptly crawled into bed.  Everyone worries about the dogs stepping on me.  This isn't our first rodeo.  I have 6 nurses at home.

After licking my eyeballs for 5 minutes, they licked any other piece of skin exposed.  Satisfied, the dogs crawled under the covers and we slept for hours.

I had the best chicken dumpling soup delivered.

I also took the dogs for a walk and went to the barn to feed the horses hay.

I can't lift much, but I can carry two flakes at a time.  Did my soul some good to see my kids.  I practice gratitude every single day.  I know that life is a gift that can be taken at any moment.  I was scared to go under general anesthesia again, but I made it, in spite of everyone's concerns.

Who could forget the Timex logo:  Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

That's me!

Now, I might want to address the pinkie I broke a few days ago, a gift from one of the horses.

Life also has a sense of humor!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Half Dozen

 The best part of any day is coming home from work to these faces.

My regular all night study sessions involve everyone sacked out around me.

When I say that I like my dogs close to me, I mean c-l-o-s-e!.

Little Suki:

Pippins alternates from rendering my legs numb from draping herself across my lap, to occupying the guest bed.

My favorite nimrod, Dax:

The best boy in the whole wide world: Micah.

"Who me?"  "Yeah, you!"

The twins.

The old man couch:

Sir Peter:

Connor has put some serious weight on since his arrival at Happy Acres:

He's looking more and more like a Great Dane mix than a Coonhound mix!

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Bureaucracy Bites

 Don't get me wrong, I'm a fairly rigid person who loves rules and procedure.  WTHIN REASON!!!

Murphy and his Laws messed with me all day long Friday.  Everything I tried to do took way too long.  In the afternoon, I'd travelled to town to buy another pallet of pea gravel for a patio area at the main house.  

An hour later, it was loaded.  I could've moved the load pebble by pebble faster than the associate and her forklift.  True to protocol, they roped off the area (traipsing into area punishable by death) and then we waited for two other employees to assist her in moving the load 30 feet down the aisle and 20 feet out the gate.  After about 30 minutes waiting in my truck, I asked what the hold up was:  she couldn't proceed without a flag man.  And they couldn't find him or his flags.  I kid you not.

This is not that complicated...

Then I had to follow an idiot for 20 miles on a 2 lane highway going 30 mph.  When I finally passed him, I saw a small truck pulling a full size truck on a Frankenstein creation trailer complete with mismatched sized wheels.  One was definitely a wheelbarrow wheel.  Only in Alabama or Azerbaijan!  

I didn't get home until after dark.  When I went to feed the horses, I was missing the oldest one.  The one who's almost blind.  I looked over hill, over dale, my ancient little pony was hopelessly lost.  With no moonlight, he'd stayed frozen in his track at the very back pasture, over 1/3 mile form the barn.  He was so relieved to have a flashlight escort back home.  Angus rarely abandons him, but Friday was Murphy's Law Day.

Got home from work after 9 PM.  The dogs were demanding supper immediately.

My supper ready was by 10:30.  

Murphy had better stay off my case today.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Stork Delivery

When life isn't going my way and throwing an epic tantrum seems imminent, I look around to see who's in more dire straits than I, and try to help.  It's analgesia for my pain and misery.

Look who was in worse shape than me.  A two year old English pointer who'd flunked out of hunting training, so they bred her then tossed her.  Underweight and just spayed, she needed a place to recover.  Off to middle of nowhere Georgia did I go to pick her up (I get in so much trouble on my days off, ha,ha,ha)

Her name at the hunting plantation was Sue, so I chose a similar sounding name: Suki.

PTSD Suki threw herself off the couch when I sneezed beside her.  Another one who felt the wrath and humans and won't soon forget it.

And another one who came here completely wild.  Took only a day for her to learn that lavish affection and treats come with peeing outside.  So, now we're officially a family of 7.

We all fit snugly in the bed, except Pippins who prefers to sleep under the bed.  That's over 400 lbs of dog + me in one in bed. We might go through the floor.

One more at the dinner table.

Once Suki came out of her shell a wee bit, it was on.  Connor, Suki and Micah play around the clock.  Dax's sense of entitlement prevents him from frolicking with shelter dogs which he deems to be beneath him.  How did I raise such a pompous arrogant little snot??? 

He's missing out on so much fun.  Check out the video:

Whenever I think I just can't be of more use to the world, I dig deeper.

It's a reward unto itself.

Anyone need any ditches dug?  I have a nonstop machine.  Check out the video:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Throwing Off the Shackles

  What do you call it when you fail repeatedly at the same thing?  Perfecting stupidity.

I can't treat relationships like the anemic sprinkling of a Catholic baptism.  Love, to me, is a Baptist full immersion experience. 

Each of my past relationships has left me: A) Washed ashore, with no clue how I got there.

                                                                    B) Regularly water boarded at Guantanamo.

                                                                  or  C) half drowned.

Relationships are expensive to be in and cost a fortune to exit.  "Oh, Jamie, you're doing it all wrong", they say.  No shit, Sherlock!!!  Regardless, I'm finished with the mental, emotional and financial anguish of seeking a partner. I'm nearing a year of hermit living, pondering my next move:  stick to what you know.  

The most rewarding pursuit of my life:  providing sanctuary.

Since the age of 15, I've recorded and categorized every dollar made and spent.   With the advent of Quicken and Quickbooks, I can chart my overspending on animals on pretty spreadsheets spanning almost 20 years.  My dad chides me that I could've retired 15 years ago with the money I've spent on furballs.  (He is right) To do what though?  Knit? I think not.  Spending 2 quality days last week (yes, I went back) in the hospital in the fetal position  gave me time to reevaluate everything in my life. The realization that there's so much more behind me now that before me, has raised my defiance level to that of my teen years.

Symbolic of my throwing off the shackles of living a traditional life, I brought another dog into my home.  The shelter gave me a bag full of meds to try to continue the rescue effort they started. 

I named him Connor.  He's a Coonhound mix,  He was severely emaciated when animal control seized him, scoring only a 1 on a body scale of 10. 

The first night he was home, I put him in the guest bedroom.  He shat on the bed and laid beside it.  I don't think he's ever known what it's like to have a clean place to stay.  

He's a clever old thing and quickly figured out you shouldn't poop in your castle.

A precious life someone discarded, he has a serious heart condition and tumors here and there. 

I'm not sure what's in the tennis ball size mass on his belly, but it's not a top priority at the moment.

Enjoying however much more time he has is.

Part of the reason he was so skinny is that someone in the past filed down all his front teeth.  Grasping anything, even a plush toy sends pain down the exposed pulp.

The atrocities invented to torture animals... man is evil.

And yet, Dog is always willing to forgive and trust.  Their faith in us is greater than my own.

A few weeks ago, I started online dog training classes given by the woman owner of Method K-9 in Idaho.  It's the communication breakthrough I've yearned for.  It's how a gutter dog who'd never been indoors became a well mannered house dog in just a few days.  It's how all the other dogs have accepted him as part of my pack.  

I'm gratefully celebrating all the wins because school started back this week.  I spent my day off stressing about the five Business classes I'm taking.

Blessed be the guy who likes to share my office chair.

I wish I could take him to class with me.  Yes, after a year of glorious home schooling, I must report to campus for night classes.  It had been 20 years since I'd sat in a lecture room.  Shell shocked after 3 hours of feeling totally out of place on Tuesday, I hurried back to my truck and sat in the parking lot contemplating a good long cry.  Then I remembered that if you're not putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, you're not growing.  Plus, my 20 year old truck gave me a good pep talk.  Unfailing and strong, she and I have been through a lot.  She's gonna get me through this.  I had to move a trash can to make room for her wide butt in these tight parking spaces, I can keep parking creatively. I can do this.

I'm still not over whatever is going with my innards.  I have more follow up appointments scheduled.  I'm permanently nauseated now and have too much belly pain to even consider running or biking.  I can walk, for now that will have to do for the dogs' exercise.  The result of my hospital time mulling was that I need to treat myself with the same compassion I dole out for all the animals.  I lift Peter into bed at night, yet I berate myself with the foulest tirades in my head to force myself to work through fatigue and pain.  I'll work late getting all the horses blanketed before a cold snap and skip my own supper.  

My body has spoken loud and clear, it wants to fire me as its manager.  To negotiate a truce with this corpse of mine,  I grabbed my new camera and took a drive through the countryside to focus on what is beautiful in life.

In the depths of being miserable, I'm grabbing at every occasion to find reasons to be grateful.  

I'm enamored with palm trees now.  

They make me smile, so I seek them out. They've always been all around me, but it's like I'm walking around this week with my eyes open for the first time.