Monday, March 31, 2008

I Got My Work Cut Out For Me....

Marilyn told me today that the big FFA thingy that's going on Wednesday needs an aged gelding halter class.

Guess who's in it?

That's right, the fuzzy Monkey.

Guess what I have to do tomorrow? Here's a list:

Brush the crap out of him. Let him roll. Brush him some more. Take the clippers to him to get rid of his beard and clean up his bridle path and ears (I've never trimmed his ears, I don't know what he'll do. I've never used powered clippers on him either, but I don't want to clip everything with the manual clippers,) take the hose to him. Tie him up so that he can't roll. Brush him some more. Try to teach him to trot at halter (which I don't think he does) during class where we'll have a halter class. Brush him some more.

This is along with helping everyone else that's going to show wash their horses, because C's horse we don't know if he's ever been washed, same with J's, and S has a cast on her arm that she can't get wet. Oh, and I have to break out the nice shirts and wash my good Wranglers, too.

Then Wednesday morning I'll go out to the barn early (like, seven or eight) and brush the fuzzball some more, then put the finishing touches (hoof shine, show sheen) on him. And S's horse, probably. They've got geldings and mares in the two year old classes before us, and they're supposed to start about eight thirty, so I should have time.

I'll take pictures of the pretty pretty pony when I get him all cleaned up and show everyone how much muscle he's putting on. Not to mention if I got him all prettied up and didn't take pictures for Farmmom she'd hurt me.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Because You Love Them.

I was talking last night with a friend from school about the latest litter of Pixelkittens. That's right, Pixel the slut went and got herself knocked up, and gave birth on the haystack two days before Marilyn was going to go ahead and get her fixed.

We weren't sure how far along she was, and seeing as how she usually spends the better part of pregnancy looking like she swallowed a grapefruit, her size was no indication when she finally showed herself at the barn.

She had six kittens. She's down to three. Its tough, but I expected it. It was a big litter for her and two of them were pretty small and weak from the start. The latest tiny body was because of a respiratory bug that all of them have had. For the three strong ones, it's nothing more than a case of the snuffles... but this one just couldn't handle it.

The conversation last night though, got into nursing animals and how much work it is. A dog that's been hit by a car can't tell you where it hurts. An emaciated kitten can't squeak loud enough for you to hear it across the room. A barn owl with a broken wing will take your finger off when all you're trying to do is get it to someone who can help. And let me tell you, those talons aren't just for show. A tip if you ever have to rescue an injured predatory bird... cover it's head first, and then give it something to hang on to with those talons. Even a ball of towel, or a coat sleeve, will give it a sense of security (and it will be so busy hanging on to its "perch" that it won't try to hang on to you) but make sure it's nothing you mind having holes in. A stout stick is best of all, really.

I've bottle raised a lot of critters, and lost even more. When I was a little girl I was constantly bringing home orphans, kittens, sparrows, even a litter of field mice once. I couldn't stand to see a critter in pain. The Farmparents were kind enough to help me do what I could, and to let me learn the hard way that sometimes, it's kinder to just help them along.

After a while, it became clear that I have a certain talent for helping animals. People started bringing me strays that were hurt, more orphans. Even Farmdad brought home a dog that was hit by a car, and caught a duck in a ditch for me.

And small animals aren't the only ones. The first calf I bottle raised was a feedlot calf that the Farmparents brought home. She came out of the finishing pens, which meant that her mother had been pumped full of so many hormones and drugs it was a miracle she was even born, let alone that she survived her first twenty four hours. Her eyes were a milky blue all over, and she was tiny, way too small for what she should be. One eye eventually broke down and became a bumpy white mass, glaring from her head and completely useless. We think she could see shadows from the other eye, in spite of the fact that she had no pupil, she could find things in the yard if they were big and solid enough.

I, and our cocker spaniel, nursed her into a big healthy calf, when the experienced feedlot cowboys had refused to try to save her. She thought she was a dog. Her favorite food was hamburger pizza, which she would steal from the scrap dishes we would set out for the dogs. Her favorite toy was an old traffic cone, which she could find unerringly every time.

The winter of '06 was hard, hard on the cows and hard on us. We couldn't keep calves alive, they'd be up and sucking one day, and lay down on wet ground (there wasn't any dry ground) and snow that night, and freeze to death.

Two of them, we got to before they died. Two. Out of forty born. We lost just under half our calf crop that year.

The first one was born on a bitterly cold day. His mom had cleaned him up, but the ground he was lying on was frozen, and his body temp had dropped to the point that he couldn't even shiver. We loaded him up in the cab of the pickup when we found him, with the heater on full blast and Farmmom and I rubbing his skin vigorously. When he started being more alert, we got him out and on his feet, and tried to put him back on his momma, but she had given up on him. She wouldn't have anything to do with him. So, in to town he came.

Twenty four hours later, after twelve hours of laboriously struggling to get a couple of swallows down his throat at a time every half hour, and twelve hours of feeding him every two hours when he got enough energy to suck, I was pretty happy about his chances. He was a victory.

Farmmom called another day. "Hey Kiddo, we're bringing you another baby. Better go down and get some colostrum and get it started, this one is in bad shape. "

"Worse than the last one?"

"Yeah. She's big but I think she's got some deformity in her mouth, and she's barely staying with us."

When they rolled up I had the old glass 7-up bottle full of colostrum mix and topped with a lamb nipple. When they haven't figured out how to suck yet, it's easier to fit your finger in their mouth to work the nipple if you use the lamb nipple.

I met them at the garage door, Farmdad carrying a big lanky heifer calf, her black coat plastered to her. He laid her down on the old carpet we'd put down for the first calf and I started working. She was cold, and still soaked with the fluids from the womb. The cow hadn't even tried to clean her up. Sometimes they just know. She was still breathing, though, and she made feeble protests when I pinched her, so I had hopes. If they're still with it enough to get pissed off, there's a good chance that they're gonna hang on.

I checked her mouth to make sure there wasn't part of a mucus plug before I started trying to feed her, and I saw that her lower jaw jutted forward, longer than her upper. Her teeth still connected with her palate though, so she wasn't too deformed to graze. Her tongue was stiff, and still had the cone shape that they're born with. Usually the tongue relaxes by the time they get on their feet, but while they're in the womb it's a plug, conforming to the whole mouth.

I hoped that it was the cold keeping the tongue from relaxing. If it wasn't, she'd never be able to suck.

I struggled with her for hours, propping her up to squirt warm milk in her mouth, scrubbing her roughly with an old towel to dry her off, talking to her constantly. I alternate between gentle reassurances and angry smack talk, most of the time. It's just stimulation for them, one way or another. Whenever I wasn't propping her up, though, she was flat out on her side, staring vacantly.

I thought she had a chance, when she started trying to suck. Her tongue still hadn't relaxed, but she was still very cold. I held on to hope with both hands, because without hope, I'd just give up and she wouldn't have any chance. I stared desperately at the other calf, curled up near her and watching me curiously as I rubbed on her and pounded her ribs, pinched her and called her baby. He was a victory. He proved that I wasn't completely incompetent, a feeling that often overtakes me when I'm struggling to help a critter and I reach the point where I just don't know what else to do.

Around eleven that night, I went back out to try to get just a couple more ounces down her. When they're newborns, it's amazing what just a tiny amount of sustenance can do. Just a few drops of condensed milk, with honey for quick energy, can revive a starving kitten enough for it to suck ten minutes later, and get a full belly. An ounce or two at a time for a weak calf can bring it back from the brink.

She wasn't breathing. Her tongue had never flattened out. She lay there, flat on her side, staring. Her jaw was open and her conical tongue lay on the carpet. I was sore from wrestling her and the other calf around for feedings, I was emotionally exhausted from pouring myself into the effort to save her.

I'd fallen in love the first time I tried to feed her. You have to, if you're going to save them. You don't get up every two hours all night to feed something because it's for sale. You don't shove your hand in the same mouth with sharp teeth and a tongue that will give you painful carpet burns because it's your job. Not and save the ones that really need you. The ones that everyone else would give up on, you struggle with, and for, because you love them. You don't look at them and see another pet cat, or dog, sparrow to sing, raccoon to rifle through the trash or future hamburger or cow to make more walking steaks.

You look at them, and you see something that is completely helpless. Something that, in the case of domestic animals, has been bred into putting its trust in man kind, that you have a responsibility, a duty to. It takes only an instant for you to fall in love. It takes only one trusting look, or a feeble suck on your finger, or a weak kick in response to pain. That one instant reaches deep inside you and that animal ceases to be "the calf," or "the kitten," and becomes, simply, "mine."

Mine. My child, my pet, my pain. Pain in the back and the arms, pain in scratches and bites and knees. But Mine.

My responsibility, my duty. And sometimes that duty is more than just doing everything you can to save them. Sometimes that duty is making sure that the end is as easy as possible for them, because there is nothing else you can do. Sometimes it's ending it yourself, rather than letting them suffer.

All the failures, the ones I couldn't save, they haunt me sometimes. But the memories of the ones I did save are there to balance it out. Kittens play fighting and rolling through the kitchen in a fluffy ball, calves in the yard in blatant defiance of city ordinance chasing me back and forth and head butting playfully at me, or just making it to the vet's office and hearing "He's got a chance."

"At least he/she died warm, with a full belly, and comforted." The Farmparents have said that to me dozens of times as I sat crying, holding tiny bodies that were stiff and cold, or still warm and flopping loosely, or with my hand on the side of the motionless body of one that's too big for me to hold. It's a mantra.

Sometimes it's just "At least I tried."

Friday, March 28, 2008


I'm a fairly self-contained person, when it comes to negative emotions. I'm not really sure why, I can't point to anything in my life and say "that made me this way." But there it is, when I feel like emotional crap, I tend to shut the emotional part off and just get through the day.

That fact has been an asset, and a hindrance.

All through my great grandmother's illness, from the day she fell on her way back from the mailbox and shattered her kneecap all the way to the night she died, and her funeral, I was able to step back from the emotions and do what I needed to do, and the things that no one else could bring themselves to do.

On the other hand, when I was sunk in depression after breaking up with the boyfriend in the previous story, I got so used to shutting my emotions off that I didn't even realize how depressed I was until I tried to quit smoking and my doctor put me on anti-depressants to help with the emotional part of the quitting process. I've been trying to actually deal with the things that I used to shove aside, whenever possible, since then. I spent nearly a year pretty much on auto pilot, and once I broke out of it, I didn't like it.

In the same vein, I'm just beginning to realize exactly how sensitive I had become about my teeth. I realized this when I was talking to the girl that has been my best friend since second grade last night about this whole thing, and she was surprised at certain things that I finally admitted.

As many of you can probably imagine, considering the information I've shared about it so far, my teeth were in pretty bad shape. I'm still embarrassed to admit how bad they looked, but I haven't knowingly allowed a photograph to be taken of me in which I was smiling for... shit... five years, maybe more.

There were very few people that I could look in the face when I smiled, and most of them were close family members. The girl I mentioned was one of them, so maybe that's why she didn't realize....

I myself hadn't realized how ingrained it had become to look away from someone, or look down, or put a hand over my mouth when I smiled, until it wasn't an issue anymore. Or, anyway, until I thought it wouldn't be an issue anymore... there's a whole new set of issues now, but that comes later.

Farmmom, bless her heart, said it trying to make me feel better when I was stumbling around the Old Homestead drugged out of my ever lovin mind and muttering incoherently.

"Well, baby, you can smile now."

I think she has understood me best all my life, and I am so thankful for that, I can't even think of a way to say it. She brought it into the light so that I could start dealing with it.

See, I wasn't just self-conscious about my teeth. I'd been told for so many years by so many different dentists that it was because I didn't brush enough, or didn't floss, or because I ate sweets or a dozen other things, that while I knew that I was doing the right things regardless of what they said I still felt responsible for it. And that was only reinforced over the years as the looks from people got progressively more disgusted, in spite of my brushing my teeth so hard my gums bled.

It all collaborated to make me into a person who couldn't smile at herself in the mirror without being disgusted.

And I shoved it aside and ignored it. It was easy to make it believable, as far as being "pretty" is concerned... you know, makeup, hair perfect, all that crap... I could care less most of the time. Oh, I clean up once in a while when I'm going out, but day to day I dress for function, and if my t-shirt is baggy, that just means it's comfy. If it's stained, well, I don't have to worry about getting it dirty at the barn. Pony tails are my friend because they keep my hair the hell out of my way.

My friend commented last night, when we were talking about how paranoid I am about anyone seeing me without the denture, "Well, dude, it's you. It bothers you now, but eventually it'll just be a part of you and you'll give a crap less."

She was shocked when I disagreed.

I started off at a disadvantage in the teeth department. There's bad genes on both sides of the Farm Family, and I got a good dose, to the extent that I was in junior high when I had my first root canal. A tooth had grown in hollow, and had managed to get an infection.

After that, they just got worse. It wasn't a fast downhill slide until the last several years, but it was entirely too fast for me.

And now, I have a denture. Before I had it done I thought about not telling anyone exactly what I was getting done, but logic reasserted itself and I realized that there was no way on earth that I could pass it off as anything but what it was. So, I could pretend it wasn't happening, and let the pissants snicker behind my back, or I could own up to it.

It was a closer decision than I like to admit, in spite of my general lack of giving a shit about what the general populace thinks about my personal habits for the most part. I can hold my head high, look someone in the eye and return fire when they're talking smack about my wardrobe, my weight, or my choice of friends, but one glimmer of "eww" in their eyes when I smiled and I would just collapse in upon myself. My eyes would glue themselves to the ground and I wouldn't look up until the conversation was over.

Because I couldn't blame them. I felt the same way.

Then, over spring break, the teeth came out and the denture went in. Everyone kept telling me that it was for the best and it would be so much better now, and all kinds of other platitudes. Don't get me wrong I love my family and I know they meant the best, but I was wrestling with the fact that I had no choice but the denture at age 23. Mamaw got hers at 19, but that's meaningless to me. I've never known her with any other smile than the one she's got now. That's just her, and this wasn't me. It was a major change in my life.

I didn't tell anyone about this internal struggle, of course. Oh, Farmmom and I talked about it a little bit, but it was never really in depth. The rest of them, this blog is the first they'll hear about it, for the most part. Sorry guys, it's just easier when I have time to compose my thoughts and explain things all at once, and text gives it a step of distance.

So, everyone was trying to make me feel better and for the most part I had the same kind of feelings I had when my great grandma died. I just got sick of hearing it. I wasn't ready to deal with it yet. It was an image issue and trust me, for the first week after they pulled the teeth, I did not feel any better about my image. I looked like someone had slapped me in the mouth with a two by four, and I felt like death warmed over between the drugs and the amount of blood I was swallowing. I couldn't eat, I was pale, I didn't have the energy to stay awake long enough to wash my hair so it was disgusting.

Then I went back to classes.

And the first thing out of everyone's mouth was, "Smile!"

Which, when you're struggling with issues about your teeth, the fact that you've just had fifteen of them pulled, and gotten a denture that is both too perfect and just a tiny bit off to possibly be real, sounds like "Hey! Nasty Smile Girl! Show me your fake teeth!"

Sparky nearly got his head taken off when he asked me to smile at him, and he was one of the kindest about it.

Honestly, I'm coming to terms with it, slowly. It helps that I'll be able to design my permanent how I want, so that I can feel like it will pass the test for looking real. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel on that part.

But every morning when I'm getting ready for class, I have to practice smiling in the mirror. I can't remember how to do it without trying to hide my teeth. I catch myself looking away from the people I'm talking to when I'm telling a funny story.

I have to relearn a lot of things. And the process isn't helped when everyone stares at my mouth every time I open it. Eventually I, and they, will get past that. Until then, I get to struggle with the dual issues of feeling self-conscious about my teeth and getting pissed off at myself for being self-conscious.

It's a tough row, but it's gotta get hoed, one way or another. I'll get there. Maybe admitting it here will help. At the least it has made me think about things in an organized fashion instead of just reacting to them.

Wow... Flashback

I'm sitting here listening to the country station on my TV, and they're playing some older songs that I haven't heard in a while.

Right now, Dixie Chicks's Travelin' Soldier is playing.

Ok I should probably clear something up, now that I think of it. I have what some have called a defect... I have a thing for military men. It goes a bit above and beyond the usual "ooo uniform" bit, really, but I have come to terms with that fact and have, to a certain extent, reined myself in.

My first really serious boyfriend was in the Navy. I was nineteen and he looked so nummy in his dress whites... It's such a cheesy story.

We met at the County Pageant dance, he was the escort for one of my best friends, who happened to be competing for the county beauty queen that year. She introduced us, and to this day I maintain that she just wanted another "Navy girlfriend" to hang out with. Her boyfriend (now her husband) is a Navy man too. Anyway, she had to go change her clothes and she told me to entertain him while she was gone.

That night the three of us crashed out on my parents couch watching movies in a big people pile. The next night he and I crashed out on my parents couch watching movies in a small pile. And the next night.

We spent a week together, and when his leave was up and he had to go back to Norfolk, we emailed every day. By the time he got leave again seven months later and came home to surprise his parents for their anniversary we were signing the emails "I Love You" and I was sure he was Mr. Right.

I lost my virginity in a hotel room in Denver the night I picked him up from the airport. Yes, I was still a virgin at 19. You'd understand if you met the guys I grew up around.

Anyway, things kept on progressing, and he got out of the Navy a couple of months later. A week before his discharge I flew to Virginia to drive back with him, and I had a blast hanging with his buddies. We went to Paramount's King's Dominion on Mother's day, and I called Farmmom from a payphone while he and his buddy Boozer were going on a ride that I wasn't interested in.

Of course, Virginia is also where it all started to unravel. I was working construction by then and I had told him about a lot of the close calls I had, just blowing off steam mostly. Well, we were sitting down to dinner with one of his friends one night and the friend asked me what I did. When I told him, my boyfriend simply stated "But she'll be getting a different job, that one is too dangerous."

On another occasion, while we were bsing with his friends, they got on the subject of the nuclear ships and how the Navy had done a study that showed that men who served on nuclear powered ships were more likely to have girl babies than boys. He looked at me and said "So we're probably going to have girls, honey." I choked on my drink and said "I wasn't aware that kids were on the table!"

Well we had a big fight on the way back over something stupid, and when we got home he decided that he'd rather spend his time hanging out with my friend (who I introduced to him as my "Other Brother, B") with another girl.

I found out and B begged me not to kill him because he was hoping that I'd just give up on the boyfriend and he wouldn't have to be the one tell me. Well, the boyfriend had brought me a jewelery set from Dubai, and I wore the ring that came with it all the time. That is, I wore it after I found a jeweler that would resize it for me, since the gold was purer than they ever use here, most jewelers refused to touch it.

I took it off that night, put it back in the box, and had B drive me to the boyfriends house... where I proceeded to throw it at his head. I was... ahem... a little upset.

Thank god for my friends, I was surrounded by guys and none of them knew how to deal with me crying, because they had never seen me cry before. N finally managed to make me laugh by leading with "hey, now that you're single," and spouting the world's cheesiest pick up lines.

That whole thing really messed with my head though, for a long time. Especially when I found out that he had turned around and given the jewelery that I had... ahem... returned to him... to the girl he cheated on me with. A year later, nearly to the day, they were married.

Anyway, that song is the one I would listen to when I was feeling sad over his being so far away when he was deployed, and it's been a long time since I've listened to it, so it gave me a hell of a flashback. That song and Brad Paisley's "Little Moments" will always remind me of him, and that time in my life.

I have, thankfully, reached the point where I can look back on that time without much bitterness, and be glad of the experiences that I gained because of him. I took my first commercial flight, saw the ocean for the first time, toured the USS Enterprise, and visited Churchill Downs (where he was bored out of his mind while I soaked in the Kentucky Derby Museum, and the backside tour, and the day's races) because of him. I had my heart broken for the first time, because of him, and I learned that it doesn't last forever. I learned that I can actually cuss bad enough to make a sailor blush, too.

Most of all I learned that regardless of how bad it is at the time, there's always something to be gained, whether it's knowledge, or just the experiences.

He's not the only military man my hormones have gone nuts over either. There's been a National Guardsman, two Army guys, a Marine, and a guy in the Air Force. I'm not biased, as long as they have a dress uniform and wear it well, I'll start drooling.

Sad, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Whatever you decide to do with your life...."

"Don't stop writing. There are two people in that class that have that extra flavor that makes a great writer, and you're one of them."

Hell of a compliment from my Creative Writing teacher. I had to drop off copies of my fiction paper (a chunk of Jane, not even a full chapter, and it still went about double the upper word count guideline) for tomorrow's class, since I'll be at the dentist's instead of in class. I also gave her the writing exercise that we were supposed to read tomorrow, so that she can share it with everyone. That's another compliment... we were given a scenario in which four friends, two couples, are having dinner. Shrimp is passed, two people take some, leaving none for the end of the pass-along chain, who says she didn't want any anyway.

The kicker is that there are various complications to this scene, and we had to write them in as subtext. The prompt came out of the book and there was a list of complications, but not enough for the whole class, so I got to make up my own. I gave one of the men explosive diarrhea from his buddy's wife's cooking.

Meanwhile, back at the conversation we were having, she was telling me that I needed to continue with a writing group after this class was over. I just threw up my arms and said "This is BFE. There aren't any." Of course, I was wrong about that, there is a writing group here, but it's very Christian. I smarted off that we should start our own writing group, and she thought it was actually a good idea. So, once the semester is over, I may continue to work with my creative writing instructor and have an actual writing group.

But I'm feeling pretty danged good about my writing about now. Speaking of Jane... I'm still working on Chapter Three, guys. It's just not cooperating with me, and the dialogue is feeling extremely forced. I may take the laptop tomorrow and work on it some more, since I told Traci (my creative writing instructor) about the premise of the book and the troubles I was having with the third chapter, and she was interested in seeing how I worked it out. Not to mention that as much of Jane as I have done at the time, and a synopsis of the entire book, will be my final project for the semester, and I'd like to have a sizeable chunk to hand in. But I haven't forgotten about Jane, she's still poking at me and letting me know that she's waiting.

And there are two stories for me to read and write responses on waiting, too, and I promised I'd have them to her by Friday, so I'd better get on it.....

Fantasy Rodeo

I bought a fantasy rodeo team yesterday. It was just ten bucks, and if I picked the right people, I get tickets to the last three rounds of the National Finals Rodeo.

The whole point is to pick the people that you think will get the most points, all together. Since the official season spans the semesters, I picked people who already had points. Plus E. I can bug him that he has to get some points so that I can go to NFR.

We'll see. Once the fantasy rodeo team fundraising drive is over I can check on their progress on the college's website. I have a whole new reason to cheer the rodeo team (or... parts of it) on!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"Let's Elope to Mexico."

A close friend of mine said that to me last night. Ya'll may remember me talking about my friend D.

Weeellll... D got himself in a bit of trouble a while back, and his due to society is ten days in jail. Thanks to his dad he gets to serve them here instead of where it happened, I'm not really sure why he had such a problem with the other place.

But, he went in last night at eight. Before that, he was hanging out with me. And twitching.

I completely understand his nerves, but at the same time, I got a lot of amusement out of it.

Anyway, he suggested that we elope to Mexico.

"Farmmom might have a problem with that."

"Hell, we can have her come too."

"You want to elope with my mother?"

"Um... no... but... I like your mom.... I mean... she's cool...."

"I don't have that much gas."

"I've got money, we can make it."

"You want to run away to Mexico over ten days in jail."

"Well, I guess not."

"Oh come on, D, cheer up, it's not so bad. What can I do to make you relax?"

"How about sex?"

We got him delivered to jail safe and sound, and on time. Although, we wondered if they were going to take him, for a bit. They had a little trouble finding his paperwork and he had to call his brother and tell him "They won't let me in jail!"

After they found the paperwork, the jailer was leading him around to the salley port and intake, and carrying a pair of cuffs, and commented "I'll wait to put these on you, she doesn't need to see that," mistaking me for D's girlfriend.

My response? "Oh come on, that's just kinky!" Which got odd looks from the jailer and D rolling his eyes at me. I even managed a couple of sniffles when I hugged him goodbye. Which I of course waited to do until he was already cuffed. Where's the fun in hauling your friend to jail if you don't get to play up the drama?

I'll be going down for visitation in a bit, and taking him his phone list that he forgot here, as well as the numbers for the phone card I bought for him today so that he can call people. I haven't decided yet if I want to get all tarted up for it or not.

Maybe I'll try to find a sombrero...

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Well, I'm back at the apartment, back to class tomorrow morning. Diving in head first, too, with Monkey and two of E's horses (one of them being Etta... he won't have anyone but me take care of her if he can help it, he's grown fond of her) to take care of. I don't plan to ride tomorrow, but maybe Saturday or Sunday I'll get back in the saddle.

Last night I actually managed to eat a meal, keilbasa and mac and cheese. Once I skinned the keilbasa, that is. Still, meat is good.

I'm going to make some tuna helper here in a bit.

I've graduated to grownup food, and I've graduated to staying all by myself. I feel like a big kid now!

It's amazing how things like this can make you feel three freaking years old again. I love my family and I could never have made it through this without them (for one thing I wouldn't have remembered to eat for the first two days if it hadn't been for Farmmom) but I am glad to be back at the apartment.

I'm still craving chicken fried steak though. Soon as I think I can eat it I'm hitting the old homestead and begging Farmmom to make it for me. Pleading. Crying, if I have to.

I Wants It.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Pros and Cons

So, I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that my teeth are no longer my teeth. I think coming out from under the Vicodin haze has something to do with it. Well, that and not being in the kind of pain that makes people snap on their near and dear.

The worst part of the day I had it done was the bleeding. I was bleeding like a stuck pig and I couldn't keep up with it. I spit out as much as I could, and swallowed the rest, but it was just gory. Mamaw needed to hit Sam's Club while we were up there so I just stayed in the car and let the diazepam work on me. Of course sitting in a car by yourself in a parking lot draws a bit of attention, especially when you look like you're gorked out, which I was.

That attention can be neatly deflected if you don't give a crap about any of the people who are staring. I just stared vacantly (I couldn't have put a focused look on my face if I had wanted to) out the window in the direction of the stares, smiled as much as I could with my top lip numb, and bit down just enough to let the (fresh, bright red) blood squeeze over the front of my new teeth and run down to pool at my bottom lip before dripping over and running down my chin.

They decided it wasn't polite to stare.

Things are starting to heal up, and I'm starting to perk up. So I decided to make a list of the things that are good about this. And of course, with the good, comes the bad. And, since I'm still battling to eat more than a few bites of anything but pudding, I threw in a few pros about being this far along in the healing process.

Pro: The big one, stopping the whole nerve damage thing before it became less an issue of dentistry and more an issue of reconstructive surgery.

Con: I don't have my teeth anymore, and I have to go through the healing process, although thankfully only once. And along with the not having my teeth thing comes the nightmares about things like getting bucked off and them popping out. I'm not talking "oooo that would suck" bad dreams, I'm talking waking up in a cold sweat with tears running down my face nightmares. *shudder*

Pro: The bleeding has pretty much stopped, which is good for my stomach.

Con: The blood has been replaced by the same kind of fluid that comes out when you scrape your knuckles. You know the stuff that gets yellow and crusty? We always called it protoplasm, but I don't know what it really is. Of course inside the mouth it doesn't get crusty. Noooo... it mixes with the saliva to become something around the consistency of snot. Which I have to spit and rinse out. Just farking ew. Of course, putting a foreign object in your mouth puts your spit glands on overdrive anyway, I've been drooling like a St Bernard on a short chain in front of a honey ham.

Pro: There's no such thing as a hard to reach place on my top teeth anymore.

Con: I now brush my teeth with the bathroom door shut and locked. Even when no one else is around. I'd do it with the lights off if I could.

Pro: No more hot or cold sensitivity.

Con: I'm having to learn to talk all over again. S's, K's, G's and D's are particularly difficult. If I don't concentrate, I sound like a slightly "challenged" drunk trying to say her ABC's. If someone asks me to say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" I'm going to have to hit them.

Pro: Perfect teeth.

Con: I have to wait a month before I can have truly perfect teeth. The temporary plate is nice and even, but apparently I have a short upper lip, and the dentist wasn't satisfied with the amount of "gum" that was showing when I smiled so he altered them and brought the "teeth" up higher. It's an amazing job considering he did it in fifteen minutes in his own little lab there, but it's not "perfect." On the permanent plate I can design my own teeth, if I want. That ought to be interesting.

Pro: The swelling is going down. When it was done, I had a ridge of swelling all the way across my face. It looked like my cheeks and under my nose were stuffed with cotton. As it's progressed it's gone from that, to just looking like someone decked me, to just looking a little puffy.

Con: The swelling in the gums is going down too, changing the way the denture fits. And while adjustments are free (I love my dentist) they're also three hours away. Which frustrates him as much as it does me, he would like to have me in every day to tweak the fit so that it doesn't cause sore spots or get loose enough to fall down and embarrass me. But then, that man is a genius fitting a denture anyway. I went in yesterday with a couple of spots that were bugging and he looked at my mouth and saw five more that weren't bugging yet but were going to, went back to his little lab, and came back in ten minutes with what felt like a whole new denture.

That's all I can think of right now. The swelling will be under better control since I'm on 800mg of Ibuprofen instead of the Vicodin... but until the bleeding was under control the Ibuprofen wasn't an option. I'm still taking the Vicodin at night, but once I get to sleep I'm able to sleep all the way through the night without getting up to take another pill. Of course, I drool in my sleep and because eight hours is longer than I go during the day between rinsing I get that lovely snotty goo running out the corner of my mouth, so I have to sleep with a tea towel over the pillow, but it's still an improvement over the first couple of nights. I ruined one of Farmmom's pillows with bloodstains, even with the tea towel.

If I'd had a choice, I wouldn't have gone through this, but once I'm all healed up and I can eat and talk again, I think I'm going to be able to be glad I did it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It Seems I Was Right...

All these years. I had a good reason to not want to go back to the dentist, even though I didn't know the real reason.

After the x-rays and initial examination, the dentist brought in this nifty tray that looked something like one of those whitening trays except metal, and a lot more ominous. He filled it with a pink putty that tasted faintly of mint but had the texture of overcooked pudding, and made a mold of my mouth.

Some of you are realizing where this is going.

I know now (because I was drugged to within an inch of unconsciousness at the time) that during the examination he discovered that somehow, I managed to get nerve damage in the top of my mouth. He couldn't tell exactly where or what caused it at this point, but he's betting on one of those inept dentists that I've been to before.

The result of this nerve damage was that my teeth were dead. Improper nerve function basically made my body think they weren't there from the gum out, so my body did nothing to maintain them. According to the x-rays the roots were still good, which he told mom (me druggy, remember?) was a really good thing, since from the looks of it the damage had spread, and could possibly have spread into my jaw.

So, when I went back Thursday, on the happy pills again, he sat me in the chair and I firmly believe performed a miracle with a needle, because I actually got numb right away.

He then proceeded, with his son, to pull all fifteen of my upper teeth. They're gone, poof, no more.

I've spent the last three days pretty much constantly knocked out on vicodin, swallowing blood, and trying to eat when I'm not out cold.

Oh, and trying to learn to deal with a big chunk of basically the same stuff they use for fake fingernails in the top of my mouth.

Given what the doc said, I'm glad I did it. I hate this, but I would have hated bone grafts on my jaw worse.

I'm still pretty druggy right now, although I cut back to half a vicodin this morning and that's starting to wear off. It's really frustrating to not be able to eat anything that isn't pretty much mush, and on top of that I'm still swallowing a little blood. I'm spitting as much of it as I can out but I haven't really figured out all the nuances to spitting with the new teeth yet. So, the blood makes my stomach a little upset, and the vicodin adds a little to that, so I can only put so much down there before it goes "ok no more."

So, readers, now you know. Now you know why I've been silent on here, and why I was kind of reluctant to discuss what they thought they'd have to do. I mean, come on, what 23 year old has to get dentures? Not the happiest point in my life.

But a part of my life nonetheless. Onwards and Upwards, as they say.

Or maybe that last part is the vicodin talking... I'm not really sure.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Marilyn brought in a yearling, special request for halter breaking. She assigned the little guy to a couple of the girls, and they've been working with him. Unfortunately, since it's not a regular class they have to do it in between their other classes. Which doesn't suit their schedules, or their sensibilities, entirely.

Anyway, this little guy is a brat, he's been babied and spoiled at home, and he has no respect for people.

And they're trying to pick up his feet. They had issues with one hind foot that he wanted to kick out on, and they asked me for help. I tried his front foot first, because frankly even a yearling has a heck of a kick, and I like my skull in the shape that it's in now.

"He picks up his front feet, you just have to be quick about grabbing them."

Ummmm no. That's not giving you the foot, that's striking. When you touch the leg and it comes up and down really quickly, that's taking the foot away from you. Just because you can grab it now doesn't mean you'll be able to when he's grown. When the foot paws at the ground coming down, that's striking.

So, I worked with him on one side, running a lead rope around his legs and rubbing them until he quit freaking out about it, and then using hands.

Apparently, even though they asked for my help, and when they bugged me about putting him away enough that I accepted the progress of being able to grab his back leg below the hock without him kicking he wasn't kicking at me anymore, my methods aren't pleasing to them.

Oh, and on top of that I made him move his hindquarters away from me when I said, instead of trying to turn them towards me whenever he got tired of what I was doing, and he was standing quietly while I worked with him.

So, one of the girls called her aunt, who is hundreds of miles away and doesn't know exactly what the little brat is doing, and took her advice.

I appreciate that it's not my project, and that Marilyn gave the whole thing over to them, but I have discussed the issue with Marilyn herself, and her opinion pretty much matches mine.

The little bugger needs to learn some respect, and since he's not scared of people at all that means he's gonna have to learn it the way he would in the herd. If he acts bratty, he gets "kicked" or "nipped."

In other words, the little sucker needs his spoiled little butt beat when he pulls crap. Otherwise, he's gonna wind up thinking he's the boss, and trying to enforce it, and get someone hurt.

Of course, it's not my project, so I get to watch. We'll see.

Meanwhile, if they want help, they can just deal with my methods, or they can ask someone else. You don't get instant results, and it has to be consistent. He's already learning bad habits which, if they're not corrected now, someone will have to fix later. I wish them luck.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Good Lord

I thought I was being smart. See, there is only one washer in my apartment building. Two dryers, but just one washer.

So, I thought I'd just run down to the coin-op laundromat and do all of my laundry at once. I walked in and looked around and thought "ok, maybe just the whites."

Ran my whites through the washer (which cost me more per load but less in time because I had two loads of whites to do, I'm way behind on laundry) and when it came time to dry them...

Half of the dryers are out of order. The other half, three hispanic families are playing musical dryers trying to find the one with the most heat.

Farmmom's dad ran a coin-op laundry for many many years, and he was good at it. If he'd been in charge of this one, he'd have shut the whole damn thing down for two weeks until everything worked, built on another five hundred square feet at least, and had a buttload more seating.

That place is just crap, and it's not even that old, it was only built about five years ago.

I won't be going back, in spite of the fact that I can't do all my laundry at once here. That place was just horrid. I brought my whites back here to dry, where I could sit in the comfort of my own home instead of being crammed into a small building with too many other people, not enough seating and an overall odor of fried chicken.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Shhh It's a Secret

Ok, I'm gonna share something with ya'll, and it's probably going to tear my tough-girl rep all to hell. I have very few true fears, I don't like a lot of things, but I'm not honestly afraid of much.

I don't like snakes and I kill poisonous ones if they're somewhere that they'll pose a danger to me or my critters, but I'm not afraid of them.

I don't like crawling into small spaces, and if I can get out of it, I will, but I'm not claustrophobic. And just for reference, a "small space" for me is something along the order of "no one else over the age of ten will even fit through the opening."

There are two things I've discovered that I am honestly afraid of. One is sudden drops straight down from a height. I discovered that one on the Big Drop on top of the Stratosphere hotel in Vegas. I really wanted to go on that ride, I thought it would be a blast... And then I rode it. The first drop I screamed... once I stopped screaming my body just wouldn't breathe again until my feet were on the ground. My mind was saying that I was fine, strapped into a nice solid seat, no way I was going anywhere, but some primitive part of me was saying "Aaaauuuugggghhhhhhhhh!"

So I don't ride those kinds of rides anymore, and I scratched bungee jumping off my things to try before I'm dead list. No big deal, really.

The other thing I'm afraid of? The dentist.

Let me clarify here. I'm not afraid of the needle, I could care less about needles. Watching my own blood being drawn makes me queasy but I'm the girl with a tattoo and a few piercings, needles themselves don't bother me. I'm not even afraid of the drill. Sure, it's not a pleasant sound, and the feeling in the jaw is just freaking wrong *shudder* but that's more of an intense dislike.

There isn't one aspect of dentistry that freaks me out. Taken one at a time, I could face each individual thing, no big deal. Except for one thing. See, I'm odd. Novocaine takes about twice as long to numb me as your average person. I've been that way for a while. Once it kicks in, it's just as effective, and maybe more so, but you have to have that patience in the beginning.

Not every dentist believes you when you tell them that you're not numb when they think you should be. Especially if you mark that nifty box that says "fear of dentist" on the paperwork. By the way, why don't they ask you what you're afraid of on those things?? Every dentist I've ever told "dude, being here scares me, so please be nice" has tried to sneak up on me with the needle. I don't have a problem with the needle, but I do have a problem with people sneaking up on me with sharp objects.

Anyway, I used to just hate the dentist because of the feeling in my jaw when they'd drill. It makes me want to puke, I'm sorry, it's just wrong. Then I broke a tooth and had to go to a dentist that I'd never been to before. He didn't believe me that I wasn't numb yet, and jabbed me with one of those little metal torture devices they like to call tools. I bit him.

He said ow, I said no shit.

So he gave me more Novocaine. But, when he started work, I wasn't completely numb, so it hurt, so my body ignored the fancy medicine and just kept telling me it hurt. Once you sit through a session of that, something in your brain starts saying "don't do that anymore."

I haven't been back to a dentist since then. Until now, that is.

See, I need some dental work. Considering that the incident above was when I was in high school, it's not surprising, but I've been putting it off. Farmmom and Mamaw found a dentist that they really like, and since Farmmom feels about the way I do about dentists I agreed to consider going to the guy. Last time we were there for Farmmom, he pulled me back into the room to take a quick look, and the instant my butt hit that weird lookin chair, I started shaking. When he asked me to open my mouth, I started to gray out. That's about the point where we figured out that I might be just a little bit worse than Farmmom on the dentist thing.

When I finally caved and agreed to schedule an appointment, I had to go to the bathroom, because I started dry heaving. Just from thinking about it.

Yeah, it's not pretty. But, this dentist being the nice guy he is, and understanding the chickens like me, agreed to call in a prescription for a mild sedative for me to take before my appointment. You know, so I wouldn't pass out, or puke on him, or anything like that.

The appointment is tomorrow. Since he's never seen me professionally before and putting the work off has caused it to become more than it would have been, I get to go in for a look-see and get the x-rays etc taken, and then go back for the actual work next week. I have in my possession five two mg tabs of Diazepam. Apparently, he wanted to have extra on hand if I needed it.

It feels really stupid to be afraid of the dentist to this degree, but no matter what the logical part of my brain says, the rest of it goes into full terror mode whenever the subject of me getting into that chair comes up. And when I'm actually in the chair, there is no logical part of my brain.

It's just freaking scary. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go pet my teddy bear for comfort... all this talking about it has me a little queasy....

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Tub

After increasingly frustrated and frustrating attempts at getting the slow drain on the tub fixed, I finally got them to at least attempt to do something.


"We've had problems with this one before, come in here and I'll show you." The manager's husband, the same man that told me when I moved in that he didn't mind me using his internet, just that I shouldn't connect to his network, said to me in a pompous and superior fashion the instant he walked through the door.

"If you can show me some trick that makes the water go down the little hole, great, but I don't think that's gonna work."

"Sure it will, see, this plunger is off kilter and you have to... nngh... get it squirreled around and.... gah.... make sure it's really all the way up." He turned the water on to the merest trickle.

"Well, yeah, that much water would flow through a nervous frog's ass."

So he turned it up, and let it run for a few moments, long enough to get some water in the bottom of the tub, then shut it off and turned to stare at me triumphantly.

I was watching the water. If it drained, I was fully prepared to eat crow, and take a celebratory shower.

When I didn't start apologizing, he turned in confusion to the tub. Standing water.

"Hmm. Well I have to meet a guy in the office, I'll be back in a few with some tools and pull the plunger completely out."

"Okiedokie then, I'm leaving at about two thirty, so make it before then."

"Oh, this will only take me a couple of minutes."

Fast forward to a little later.

*Knock Knock*

"Let's get this thing fixed." He held up... a screw driver.

Ok, I can buy that, after all you have to remove a screw to get the cover for the drain plug off. But he didn't have any other tools.

Fast forward again, because this time, I just sat in the living room eating my lunch instead of watching him pretend to know what he was doing. Suffice to say there was a lot of turn the water on, turn the water off, clank clank, turn the water on.

"I just got a call I have to take care of something else, but I'll be back in a few minutes, ok?"

"Sure, whatever."

*Knock Knock*

"I'm back, and I brought backup!" This time he's carrying the cutest imitation of a pipe snake that I've ever seen, and has another tenant with him. His "backup" is large enough that I wonder if he'll even fit in my itty bitty bathroom.

"Uh huh."

Another trip out, lots of scraping and grunting and water running later, they emerged from my bathroom, looking sweaty.

"I've done all I can, we're gonna have to call someone."

"Figured as much. Just let me know when they're going to be here. I'll be gone all day Friday."

"Oh, they probably won't be able to get here until next week, can you hang in that long, kiddo?"

I could feel the urge to kill rising, but I beat it back with the sure knowledge that I didn't have anywhere handy to stash the body.

"That tub has been slow since I moved in. It improved slightly when they came in and cut the tree roots out of the pipes, but has gotten steadily worse. Now I have a choice of shaving my legs or washing my hair when I shower, because I don't have time for both before the tub overflows. I've told your wife about this problem before, and she always swore that she'd get something done as soon as possible. That's why this month's rent envelope had 'Tub. Won't Drain. Fix It.' written on the section provided for complaints. I've been 'hanging in there' with this problem for nearly seven months now. A week is not a problem, as long as it gets fixed."

"Well, kiddo, I'll call today and see what I can do."

"Fantastic. And stop calling me kiddo."

That's the point where I shut the door.


So maybe, just maybe, they'll get the damn drain fixed.

If not, then they'll miss next month's rent, and I'll start looking for a different place.


Since I'm feeling lazy this morning (and am not really sure how to gank the video from LD) I'm going to link over to him here.

Go, watch the vid, then come back here.

Got it? Good. Now I can continue.

Want one, need one, gotta have one! Momma needs a new toy.

Seriously, who wouldn't want a full-auto that folds up and sticks in a back pocket?!?

I think I had a gungasm while I was watching that vid, a small one cause he was in a crowded room and didn't actually shoot it. If he'd shot it I probably would have been licking my screen.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Monkey was a dream today, and that isn't appended with "for him, anyway."

We even got praise from Marilyn that didn't end with "for him."

Class was full on counter bends and a few other things today, and Monkey was light, he listened to my leg, he did what I asked when I asked, we didn't have any run aways.... I was so proud!!!

The only issue we had was when we came around by the gate of the indoor arena and they were stacking hay. Apparently, bales of hay are not supposed to fly through the air, and when they do, it's a sign of the apocalypse.

I can't really fault him for that, though. After all, the flying hay bales surprised me a bit as well. Not nearly as much as the instantaneous matter transfer we went through when he saw it, but it did surprise me.

My baby boy is growing up!! *sniffle*

He's even making good progress on learning to work on the lunge line. We've been working on that on Fridays in the round pen, and he's figuring out what I want, and giving it to me. A few more weeks and we can start working outside the round pen, and then when he goes home, we'll be able to work off his young excited lazing around the pasture most of the time energy, before we get on him. Which will be good for Farmmom, she's not as entertained by the battles as I am.

Unless she's watching me get my ass canned. Then she's highly entertained.

I've got my fingers crossed that Monkey continues to behave, so that I can enjoy it for the rest of the semester, because it looks like next semester I'm going to have the filly, and she's looking to promise some interesting battles of her own.


I'm posting to you now from a neighbor's wireless connection. Which one, I don't know. But my internet has screwed the pooch.

Everything else works, just the net is dead.

I power cycled my wireless router, that's not the problem, and obviously the problem is not in the computer because I can connect to another network fine. I just can't connect to my own.

I would power cycle the cable modem except for one small problem. The fucker has a battery back up, in case of power outage.

And there is no power switch.

So, later today I'll be calling the cable company and seeing what kind of runaround they want to give me today.

*Edit*: Aaaand we're back. No clue what the deal was, but it's working now.