Thursday, June 30, 2016

Three Amigos

Spa Days catering gig is over and life is reverting back to normal (my version anyway).
Back to wearing cowboy boots.
This happens as frequently as Sasquatch sightings:  Jamie in a dress. 
This is why:

Because you can dress me up, but you CAN'T take me off the farm!

Back to having my posse of three amigos.
230 lbs of furballs, in a subcompact, heading to Auburn for the day. 
Cole in chemo, Garrett going in another direction and Pete and I waiting at the dealership for a new axle on the car.
I pack a comforter, reading material, water--we camp out on the floor in the waiting room.  Either it's his harness or the disheveled look of the squatter's camp, but three people ask me if Pete is my therapy dog.  The manager even comes to ask us if we need anything.  I think I'm onto something...maybe I should have had a change cup on the floor in front of us!
Shiny floors are Pete's nemesis.  We skip from carpet to carpet across the showroom floor, but he won't make the final stretch with me to the loo.  I'm desperate and my back already hurt from carrying his tiny 80 lb self across the lobby of the vet school, so I abandon him with a customer.
All in all, Pete gets a B+ for his first prolonged foray in town.  Room for progress, but passable for a pass to Maine.  Looks like the four of us are heading North to camp in Aroostook county, Maine for two weeks in September.  

Somebody earned himself a doggie sundae for good behavior!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Blahs

Dear Diary,
Day 20 with the cone of shame.
Boredom is my constant companion.  Mom tells me it's coming off in 4 days.  That's 3 weeks in dog time, an eternity.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Middle Age Walloping

All of a sudden, I feel ancient.  
I spent most of my time looking for what's usually perched on top of my head:  my readers.
In spite of my Handsel and Gretel trail of glasses throughout the house, vehicles and barn.
It's only 8:30, but my chores are done and the horse is out of his air conditioned stall, so I'm turning in for the night.  
While Cole had his second chemotherapy at Auburn University today I ran a dozen errands.
We're going to act middle aged together and see who snores the loudest.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dinner Time

I came home from work at 8:30 PM and supper was waiting for me.  Like every night.  

Nope. Ain't collected a boyfriend.

Nope.  No personal chief courtesy of lottery windfall.

Mother Nature puts on a gorgeous al freso spread for me every day.
Fresh eggs and my favorite cucumbers!  Not in the picture (because they're in my gullet) blackberries, okra, arugula, green beans, cherry tomatoes.  
You don't want to let me loose in your vegetable garden... I can graze like nobody's business.

A friend posted a quote on Facebook tonight that gave me pause to reflex in my garden:

Man is the most insane species.  He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he's destroying is the God he's worshiping.  
                                                             Hubert Reeves

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Break from the Heat

Dear God,  the thermostat in Alabama has been stuck at 83'F all weekend.  I suppose I should have told you sooner.  So sorry.  Feel free to abstain from cranking it back up 100'F. 
Regards, Jamie

Holy Toledo!  Most gorgeous weekend ever.  
I took advantage of a weekend without employees...threw the phone in the truck and put myself in turbo.  Ahhh, interruption free work days,  love 'em.  Miss 'em.
I've cleared a bunch of projects off my third of the board!  
Sunday night, I can now breath easy and chill with my little cosmonauts.

Earlier, I witnessed Cody giving swimming lessons to the other horses.
"Alright class, gather round and pay attention."
"Familiarize yourself with the element by splashing."

"Coach--- like this?"

"Pay attention guys, this is called the Dunk. Got it?"

(Neophytes are still practicing their dry land simulations)

At supper time, all the horses came galloping back except Cody and Blue.  They required valet service.  Cody (aka Pooh) is my favorite riding horse.  He freaks at everything (check out his signature evasive maneuver), but he's my snuggle bunny and I've managed to not be thrown yet.

Reason #57 that I love this horse:
He doesn't give a toss what his herd is doing, he just wants to go where I'm going.  He's appropriately colored to be my shadow!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hot as Hades

Friday morning, we jumped on the air conditioning project.  I ran from store to store trying to find the appropriate window unit that wasn't sold out!
By afternoon, our heat index was 110'F. But we were trucking...
Our drop ceiling.
The door with a see through panel.
Behold the new Ice Box!
And best of all, it WORKS! We threw the overheated horse in there by 3 PM and by 4, he was chill!
By 7, we were all chilled to the bone.  A wicked storm rolled in. 
Do the horses  A) return to the barn during a lightning storm
                      B) all cram under trees and wait for me to herd them all back in?
I managed to get 9 out of 11 back in their stalls, the others were safe under the galley roof.  Frankenstein and her leg brace CAN run.  Give her a close lightning strike and all of a sudden she's like Forest Gump losing his braces as he runs!
Once again, I'm eating supper at 11 PM. Since Cole's been on Prednisone, he's become an eating machine.  He did relish fresh green beans in the past, now he acts as though they're the best thing on the face of the Earth.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Calgon Take Me Away

A principle of Stoicism: what makes us struggle paves the way to success.  I fundamentally believe that 99% of the time.  The other 1% of the time, I feel life is one big joke to see how far you can bend before you break. 
The Forces of Evil will not win.  Seeing as they're taking Cole's golden years, I'm F@#$!* stealing them back and giving them to a senior German Shorthaired Pointer who needs a home.  
This handsome older chap is available from one of the GSP rescue groups.  Seniors are always harder to place. When Cole departs, one of them will have a forever home. Dark forces better get used to the idea that I'm not going down easy.
Cole can't be replaced.  He is my once in a lifetime dog.  
When you pour love in and more is returned to you... isn't that the definition of a soulmate?  So, why does a soulmate have to be limited to a spouse?  Why can't it be a sibling, a grandparent, your art, your violin, your garden... a horse or a dog?
With my entire family up in Canada and my obstinate tendency to live as a hermit, it gets a little lonely and exhausting caring for so many animals alone.  Cole's been my rock, my protector, he's the one I rely on.
Now, he's relying on me to make the right decisions for his care.  
A bowl of ice cream helps the medicine go down!
All the research says the same thing:  high grade cancers with lymph nodes involvement are fast moving.  The surgeon completely removed the cancer cell producing factory, but frigging little worker bees are already in the lymphatic system.  Chemo in dogs is better tolerated than in humans, none of the nasty side effects.  The purpose is to slow or even make dormant the remaining cancer cells, buying him a few more good months.  Therefore, Cole received his first treatment at Auburn University today.  Some nausea can occur, but so far, he's an eating machine.
I've even had to switch him back to Slow Feed Dog Bowl to prevent him from Hoovering it all up in 10 seconds.
And he's back in bed with his posse.
As he can't jump up on beds, we're all crammed into a double bed on the floor of the harness and saddle room.  Beyond cozy!
While he was at Auburn, I ran to Georgia to see an orthopedic surgeon about my knee.  Plica syndrome.  I'd never heard of it either! As I don't have the time, nor the finances for another surgery (my insurance has a $3900 deductible), I elected for the cortisone shot and the hinged brace.
I walk like Frankenstein, but at least I'm walking.  When Cole's insurance reimburses me for his surgery, I'll get the arthroscopic surgery to resection the plicae.
Meanwhile, life goes on.  The garden needs constant tending.
Animals are always hungry.
Pete had a dental cleaning this week and X-rays showed he has mild hip dysplasia, so he's having to be medicated.
He's part pit bull, so I don't stick my fingers in his mouth.  I coat the pills in bacon and flour and put them on a pill doser!
And the poop patrolling, it seems like that's all I do sometimes.
Lard butt back there produces 75 lbs of the stuff per day. Took me two long evenings until 11 PM at night to fill that big wagon. Oh, so generous Tommy and Daphne!
And there are always emergencies with animals.  Today, after a grueling day between two states and two appointments, I came home intent on following doctor's orders and getting off my feet.  
The one horse in our herd who can't sweat had overheated.  By the time I got home and over to the barn around 7, his temperature was over 102'F.  Cool water dousing didn't help.  Desperate, I turned the AC in the office down to 65'F and we chilled for 2 hours.
Sorta comatose at first.

And back to the land of the living.  Scared me silly.  First thing tomorrow morning, we're building a wall for the wash bay and rigging up an window AC unit to be ready by afternoon.
Forces of Evil, once again busy trying to get the upper hand.  Nice try, now buzz off.
As long as you believe it in your soul, love always wins.  No matter the turmoil in the world, or at your door,  love floats above the murk.
You guys have proven that to me when I have been doubting it these past weeks.  All the kindness and concern I've received from all of you have turbo charged my little batteries. I hope one day I can be as good a friend to all of you as you've been to me.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Oncology results

Pathology results are back on the tumor.  High grade tumor and aggressive cancer. Today, I'm in the dumps.  One more year together appears improbable.

Tomorrow, we'll make plans to be the exception to the studies, to live +1 year and to enjoy every moment of it.
Just not today...

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Balance, I have discovered is fleeting.
At the farm, some are invited, others crash the party.
VIP:  Kingbird fledgling's first trip out of the nest.  My backdoor was out of commission for two days as it was the buffet line for all 4 babies.
Same story at the barn.
"Got flies?"
No, but I have chiggers. (Party crashers)  The scourge of the South.  Microscopic mites that ambush in grass and inflict the itchiest bite know to me.  They get in your socks and lay siege.  They do the same around your waistband, sports bra, undies.  I've cut my fingernails, but I've still managed to scratch myself raw.  I need to borrow Cole's cone.
(A picture from last Fall's rattlesnake bite episode...He's not allowed to leap onto couches quite yet.)
I've had run ins with chiggers before, but never to make me feel leprous. I'm blaming my knee.  For a month, it's been popping and hurting, but I finished it off last week  Now, every step hurts, standing is painful, forget kneeling over... so I've been plunking down on the grass to garden, service farm equipment, wash buckets, ect.
I cancelled my appointment with an orthopedic surgeon last week, because Cole's surgery took priority. (Ahhh, that would be the sound of my parents screaming from Canada...)
I don't mind getting older, I only hate it when the parts warranties run out.
Now, Cole's odometer reading is excessive, but he's still carrying on like he's never had surgery.  Being home bound is making him hyper. He doesn't need to be chasing anything outside--- especially this brazen coyote who's been making pilgrimages up to my house every night.
Not having Cole at work, zooming through the barn, flying around the pastures is too quiet. Garrett and Pete are content to remain close by.  What a concept.
Pete moved occasionally.  Once he laid down beside me when I was changing oil. I wandered around perplexed, looking for the dipstick.  He'd knocked it off the utility vehicle and was laying on it.
Garrett prefers his giant Sunbrella.
Life is good, in spite of chiggers, if you have good dogs.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Back Home

Cole was discharged today.
Huge thank you to Dr. Matz, Jeff, Liz, Heather and all the other fine folks who gave 110%.
Cole with Liz, one of the finest people I know and his assigned student, Jeff, who will soon be a fine vet.

We're homeward bound.
No news on the pathology results from the tumor cytology.  We'll cross that bridge next week.  For now, we've won ourselves some extra time.  One year is equal to 7 for him.  Let's shoot for 14!
The surgeon says there's no reason we shouldn't be in Wyoming by September.  Our adventures ain't over yet. His 6" incision should be healed in 3 weeks.
His insurance will eventually reimburse me over $3000, I'll only be out of pocket $1000.  We'll be OK, chickens are laying, garden is producing...only luxury items are being axed, adieu sweet colorist!  My hair will soon match his grey beard.  This episode has surely sprouted more.  I'll be wearing hats for a while:(

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Repeat Customer

Farm Team convoy was on the road before 8 AM Tuesday morning.
My F-350, the F-250 plus a 38' trailer -- all for one horse.  
Tommy, the assistant farm manager, followed me in the farm truck as a training outing.  The large animal facility is totally different since his last visit 15 years ago.  Plus, my horse trailer has a few idiosyncrasies one must learn... for example: the huge drawbridge-like loading ramp.  
I'm comfortable knowing that should an emergency arise with myself and our regular vet being unavailable, he can get them to help!  The farm trailer is much lighter, faster and more nimble, but so many horses refuse to jump up into those step-up trailers, that I wanted Tommy to know how to use mine....  the big ramp is so handy!
Our boy, Cody, has a lump on his poll that resulted in our equine vet referring him to the vet school for further testing.
No wonder our sweet quarterhorse doesn't tolerate a halter well anymore.  He has a bony structure formed inside his ligament.  Calcinosis, not cancer, nor recommended for surgery.
Lead vet recommends benign neglect.  I'm still in love with that new expression... nuanced, almost oxymoronical, but not.  So, we do nothing and return in 3 months for re-evaluation.  
It takes a village...
Students diligently measuring the mass on the now bald horse!  Someone's going to wearing sunscreen for a while.  Not the stellar news we were hoping for, but still better than that horrible C word.
While Cody was sobering up from his sedatives, I was allowed to spend 30 minutes with Cole next door.

I'm eager for him to come home, but they won't let me leave with those Class III opiates he's enjoying right now, so I'd rather he stay longer.
I can't see the incision for the bandages, but I'm told it's substantial.  They removed 2.5 cm (1") of good tissue neighboring the tumor to ensure total removal.!
They may discharge him tomorrow, if not, I'm sneaking more salmon in for him.  
He's been allowing his nurse to hand feed him tonight.

As much as I've been standing back and allowing them to do their jobs unimpeded... I will have to impose myself tomorrow to make myself useful!