16 June 2011

Catch up from the sick bay

You'd think that, on day five or six or something of being placed in medical house arrest, I would have poured forth on a number of subjects in at least one of the three blogs I frequent from time to time. Instead, I've resigned to sleeping, trolling the internet for any Facebook activity from people I stopped conversing with years ago, horse training articles, scummy entertainment stories and Jezebel insight, eating anything gelatinous or squishy or soupy that didn't fry my throat, and occasionally wandering into the bathroom for a wash up.

Anyway, I got really sick two weeks and some change ago. I've been frazzled and stressed for.. not sure, since Christmas? But knew I was headlong for an illness coming into May. I hope we aren't running the same schedule next spring. I love my work in nearly all ways, but I found myself questioning it more than I would care to say throughout the spring. And just as staff training was gearing towards the arrival of children, I tanked and a lot of bloodwork and ER trips and things later, still no real answers, but a different concoction of drugs and I see the light at the end of this rashy, throat-closing ordeal.

I miss my horse. Horses, really, but I definitely lost out on a great experience taking Bandit to the dressage clinic at Silver Oaks. I went down to feed last night, against the ol' doctor's orders, and all I wanted to do was stick my face in his neck. Uncharacteristically, he obliged and didn't even sidle.

Got to visit a gorgeous barn in Pipe Creek-- Happy Heart Ranch-- with Tiffany last Saturday. Whenever I waver on staying in the horse industry as a job, I realize that someday I could run something private like that-- maybe not as an owner, but a foreman or full-time instructor. That would be amazing. I do like the Y though. Just not so much the trapped feeling of weekends.

Scoot is doing well. I should make him a video.

My mom was here yesterday. Brightened everything up and I owe some of my rejuvenated spirit to her. Plus she just finished my painted spur straps; can't wait to see.

I'm putting a moratorium on visitors to El Tiny Casa de McGibbon until at least October. Minus any major crises that leave friends without a home temporarily (and two of you know exactly who you are.) But we are going to take some vacations for the next few months that don't involve cleaning and stressing. I absolutely love having friends make the drive here, but we (and by 'we' I mean 'I') overestimated the amount of visitors last spring among the work load we were handling. Pants-free lazy afternoons are crucial to our marriage in the least sexual of ways. This has been the first week in months I've been forced to relax, be it in coma or in boredom. It has been good. Also haven't been wearing a lot of pants. Also good. Next week, to strap on the denim and riding tights for the next seven weeks straight. Bring it.

18 April 2011

Updates, late April

As I'm typing this, Burd, our Quaker Parrot, is bathing himself in the gallon-sized dog water dish on the floor. Our two (now two, count them) dogs are watching in half interest as he nearly drowns himself with every gargly dunk. Normally Burd gets a shallow Tupperware dish with lukewarm-to-toasty water only a couple of inches deep for his private shower time, but he's braving a good five inch swimming pool at the moment of icy-cool fresh doggie water. Now he's scuttling across the floor, wet wings spread, shucking all need for flight (even though he is fully feathered) and ignoring entirely the two dogs watching his duck walk. Lemon is flying over, checking on him. Her long, yellow top knot has been nibbled and yanked down to a few short, sad gold feathers sticking straight off her head— Burd seems jealous of her headwear and has been removing her plumage whenever he feels the urge to be vindictive. Despite that and the occasional velociraptor-style argument, they have become good friends.

A lot of stuff has changed since my last post.

Perhaps not most importantly, but must noticeably is the addition of Scoot, an 11-week-old bicolor Australian Shepherd puppy who is currently sprawled on the floor next to me, chewing on his third favorite playtoy, a roll of purple duct tape. The reason I think he likes it so much is that it can't move very far for him to sink his teeth into, even on the cool, glossy tile— Scoot lost much of the function in his hind end due to an attack from his sire as a 4 week old puppy. His movement is sadly a bit limited. He was bred by a place called Texas Aussies, interestingly enough located in the vicinity of Chicago, Illinois. His name was originally Arrow, which seemed fortuitous considering he would end up at YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow, but now goes by Scoot, for obvious reference to his choice of locomotion. Our friend Ellen brought him down last Tuesday via American Airlines. Since that time, he has progressed from only a few moments of looking like a half-normal quadruped and standing on all fours to being able to drunkenly stumble after Dick and I. He will likely not recover full use of his back legs, but thanks to a fairly proactive breeder and now some tough love and a lot of swimming lessons with us down here in Texas, I think he is going to continue to improve to a point where he can get around on his own, albeit not gracefully. Richard was in the market for a "truck dog" to tag along with him to work sites, and looks as though he's got his mate. Hop is resigned to the idea and seems to benefit in the long run— currently Scoot is dozing on the tile floor whilst Hop enjoys one of Scoot's many chew bones while nestled in the fuzzy faux shearling of Scoot's new bed. Our goals now are to get him more mobile (check) and get some weight on him— plain Greek yogurt and Taste of the Wild kibble, with a smattering of Hop's Wolf King huge-honkin' dog food bites to spice things up.

Scoot collapses a bit and makes some people gasp and sigh and claim they want to cry, but he is good-natured, happy, bright, and an excellent sport about the whole "being crippled" thing. We do our best to exhaust him every day, and he sleeps well through the night cuddled up in our bed. No accidents in the house to report yet, but I think you can thank the breeder more than us for that. I'm really excited to have another lifetime dog, and I think he can certainly become as good a dog as Hop, if not the same athlete. Dick is absolutely in love with him; he hasn't had a puppy in ages and I suppose this is the first one that belongs entirely to him. We have gotten a few questions regarding our sanity in adopting an animal with obvious and possibly devastating special needs (the prognosis is cautiously optimistic, but not entirely rosy.) I can't say those doubts are unfounded, but I've also found the joy of owning a puppy is a hundred percent greater when you get to see him strengthen and grow in many ways outside of the norm. If you can think of things as predestined, (and I don't always, despite a lot of either good luck or karma) he was absolutely meant to be here.

My dad died a week ago last Friday. He would have been 85 and a half today (not that you get around to celebrating halfsies when you're past twelve, but still somewhat momentous.) He was dealing with long-term congestive heart failure and acute arthritis in his back, and looked to his family and a lot of prayer and close talks with his God as he grew closer to death. My mom definitely misses him; he was in all ways her best friend. I miss him, at least in the way I most remember him. He was ready to move on and if anyone was excited to find out the whole dealio with Heaven, it was my dad. Still sucks sometimes. But it is amazing who actually comes out of the proverbial woodwork to support you during these sorts of things; I am definitely surrounded by people who care, and those who seem awkward about saying anything are easy enough to forgive. If my dad left me with any legacies, they would be threefold— 1. The urge to make pictures that make people happy, 2. The understanding of what a good spouse can and should be, and 3. Realizing that there is no excuse to be unfriendly or act unloving. I cannot and have not always acted upon those three things, but they are intrinsic and they are all part of my Poppa.

The horses are all good. Had a blast with Ellen playing cowgirl and charging up hills and fording the river on horseback for the first time this year. Ellen, from Illinois-ish area where it seems overly cold and damp, is a friend I originally connected with probably at age 12 or 13 through the AOL online message board community of eons past— we were both horse crazy and fell into the same clique of pony-fueled girls who still keep in touch more than a dozen years later thanks to the miracle of Facebook. Though she and a handful of the other girls made a ridiculous and wonderful pilgrimage to our wedding in 2009, this past week was the first time I'd gotten to spend a true chunk of time with her, and it was effortless and fun and full of laughter and chatter, despite the heft and weight of the week she arrived. (Arrangements to fly Scoot down were in the process as my father passed away; we went ahead with things and she pitched in to help my mom and grandma as well as play in the dirt and river with us back at camp.) I do, however, blame her for making me go back and look at my LiveJournal rantings and immediately plant my face in my hands. Alas. ;) Love her much. I rarely get to the end of an extended visit and feel like I already miss that person, and that thought struck me pretty hard as I left the San Antonio Airport last Friday.

Feeling very discouraged about NATRC. It pains me not to get to go to any rides, really, and I hate to feel like I'm half-assing anything. I don't want to go to one ride, alone, and leave my work to someone else— and then not be able to attend anything else for God knows how long. I suppose it just needs to sit on the back burner and wait for.. when? 2012? Probably not. 2013? It's perhaps awkward in that I feel like the only person close to my age (not technically a child still, and no actual children of my own, so sometimes I feel like the only competitor making excuses about my schedule) but the experience and the people and the sore butt at the end of a 40 mile weekend absolutely got me pumped to ride competitively for the first time in a lifetime of horsemanship of one color or another. But the catch twenty-two is that I can't leave my job, which is primarily on the fair-weather weekends of Texas falls and springs, to go do competitive rides.. and I can't afford the rides without the security of a job and a place to keep and train my horses. That said, I wouldn't trade my job for anything either at the minute (except perhaps somewhere with a real house and a little acreage of our own) and look forward to hopefully a lifetime in this field. I just can't help but envy the schedule of a private camp and feel a little hopeless at the thought of no more CTRs for a very long while. I am purposefully skipping the Wimberly Wayfarer for a great friend's birthday and have no regrets about that; honestly, though, it partially has to due to the fact that I looked at my schedule and saw there was no point in pushing my finances and our vehicle when it would be a strain on my job, my friendships, Richard couldn't come, and I wouldn't exactly be aiming for any more rides in the fall. I think that is the conclusion of my emo rant, and I will feel better after our next dressage lesson (which of course I haven't prepared for in a week) and having something else to aim for.

In other hobbies.. We have been swimming every day for nearly a week now. Feels wonderful. I have the urge to try and do the lifeguard swim test (sans the rescues and things— just the 500 m swim) by the beginning of summer, and between dog swim time and just general joy of being outside in the spring swelter, I am getting enough exposure to maybe bring myself to that point. My legs are also tan. This is exciting.

I'm tan, I'm fitter. I'm still missing my Daddy, but even more in love with my sweet spouse every day. Our house is full to the brim with animals. The horses and the kids who come with them consume most of my time. The stress of this time of the year can push camp people to the point of being nutty, but at the same time, they can show absolute love and selflessness when you least expect it.

06 April 2011

The Pierly/Redford Dissociative Affect Diagnostic Test

The Pierly/Redford Dissociative Affect Diagnostic Test
You have a poetic sensibility and an ability to see beyond the day to day. You often seem to be living in a higher realm, or to be not-of-this-earth. Occasionally you imagine interior lives for friends and associates that are near-complete fabrications based on your fears or hopes for the future. You are often not aware of your own feelings. You have a strong sense of right and wrong, and because of this are often disappointed. Despite what can sometimes be a destructive inward-turning anger, you are very gentle. You are sometimes a bit out of touch with the ebb and flow of modern life. If your behavior is out of synch with your moral values, a severe psychic disturbance can result. Because connectivity is so important to you, you can become quiet and sulky if you feel that others around do not understand your point of view.

Relatively dead-on, but what does it mean?! Hah. Crazy test. Thanks, Luby.

05 April 2011

A Few Notes on When Someone's Dying

  1. Asking "How are you feeling today?" is possibly the most obvious thing one wants to say when encountering a loved one with limited time left. It is also, I now believe, one of the most trying things that person has to hear. I now desperately try to have another benign question in my arsenal before coming for a visit. Few people like to be reminded that they feel like utter shit.
  2. The tears and such come at obnoxious and relatively dicey moments. I can sit through a morphine-fueled rambling about contemplating suicide and plaster a smile; I can talk funeral plans; I can update most friends and family with a level tone. But in the middle of a meeting, when something thoroughly unrelated but semi-stressful comes up, I'm reduced to sobbing in a corner. Or when my mother, who has gone from educator to nursemaid with all the compassion in the world, says the tiniest, grinding, off-handed thing and I have to go sit in the bathroom with the door locked and shake.
  3. You can handle a lot more than you might've thought possible. Still sucks, though!
  4. It's okay to be completely annoyed, internally, at other people's struggles when somebody you know is struggling with end of their life. It can be socially acceptable to act on this annoyance. It is a true calling to be above those sentiments, and attempt to put love and time in every other interaction, no matter how miniscule.
  5. It truly is up to God, or a god, or the Universe, or whatever you brand it as. People asking about timelines are facetious and pandering at best; and other times anxious and uncomfortable with sadness.

20 March 2011

If the conversation is open

As progressive Catholics we seek to bridge the gaps that divide Church and society. We invite all to take part in the dialog regardless of gender, age, social status, education, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, level of affluence, etc. The religious experience of each human being is valuable. Only if the conversation is open to all concerned parties can any semblance of consensus be achieved.

18 March 2011

Dryer Lent.

I decided to retro Catholic-school-girl-days it with Lent this year, and actually Give Something Up. And I picked Junk Food.

I realize— sort of a shifty and overzealous goal at first look. But I define "junk" as:

  1. No discernible nutritional value.
  2. Moderate-to-highly processed.
  3. Including high fructose corn syrup.
  4. Relatively high calorie.
  5. Not including diet soda. (Yeah yeah yeah.. I know.)
And so far, so good. I have had a couple of homemade cookies, some frozen yogurt, and I would eat a small piece of dark chocolate if it crossed my path. Giving up all sweets would absolutely kill me, and for the same reason, I still drink diet soda. It is most difficult when faced with greasy bagged potato chips or bags of M&Ms, or when the twinge hits me to get french fries as an afternoon snack. I can binge like a pro, and lately, especially when I get stressed and hurried, I notice more and more bad, processed foods slipping in my hands.

In addition to Giving Something Up, I'm also adding. My friend Ryne takes that approach and I think it is a more positive way to observe Lent anyway. So, I got a dorky pedometer and make sure and take 10,000 steps a day.

It's funny how bad my mental calculations on how far I've walked are. On days where I have a handful of lessons to teach, I probably clock 13,000 steps without even trying. I had no idea I walked that much. Unfortunately, on days when I'm working in the office or traveling, it is shocking to look down at the end of the day and see 4,500 steps as a total and realize that I have to jog or walk a hefty amount to catch up. But ultimately, it's a good gauge of how much I need to move a day and I'm becoming even more conscientious about putting a little walk at the end of each day.

16 March 2011


I am much more active here —> paxfilly.blogspot.com/

But if you get bored of reading a bunch of horsey mumbo-jumbo, it probably isn't your bag.

14 March 2011

family — ??

Stuff is difficult for my family now. I am so thankful to be close.

Richard is in the neighborhood of saintly. I don't think I deserve him.

My mother is an outstanding human being. I am too loved.

I don't know what to think about things right now.

But I do know to take life day by day.

Prayer can't hurt, either.

Nor can cabernet.

In moderation.