Bombs Dropping

The roof at the nursing home with men working on it.

The roof at the nursing home with men working on it.

For the last two days, they have been stripping and re-roofing the roof at the nursing home.  It is only one story so all the rooms have gotten equal and constant pounding.  When I got there yesterday mom was huddled down in her bed with a pillow over her head.  The roofers were directly on top of us.  Each time their hammers would fall it would startle and scare her.

No matter how many times I tried to explain that it was just men up on the roof, working on the roof, she refused to believe me.  She was absolutely and unequivocally convinced that bombs were dropping and we were in grave danger.  We tried walking to the other side of the building where I thought the noise would be less and her fear eased but it really didn’t work because the building is just not that big.  I am sure the plan was to bring as big of roofing crew as possible to get the job done quickly.  And they were accomplishing a lot.  But the continuous raining of blows to the roof was difficult to bear and I knew what it was. I can’t imagine how frightening it would be to not understand what was causing all the havoc.

I left her last night with a promise that it would be dark soon and the crew would quit for the day.  As I drove away that did little to remove the memory of her cringing each time a hammer fell.

Today I received a message that her husband, Jim, had fallen.  He is 95 and the most robust 95 year-old I have ever met.  Then the message was that he was having a CT-Scan of his head.  Now, he is in surgery.  I didn’t want to tell momma what had happened. She wouldn’t understand and would just worry.  Instead I told her of his Facebook message (yes, he has a Facebook page!) of a couple of days ago, saying he wanted to come see her and that he loved her.  She replied that she loved him so much and couldn’t wait to celebrate their birthdays together (his in May and hers in June). I sent back a message that I hope Jim got before surgery telling him his Midgey loved him so!

I hope and pray that all goes well.  I hope this is one bomb my momma does not have to endure.

Feather floats and flys

The standards (what hold the jump) are five foot.  Feather is clearing this with ease.

The standards (what hold the jump) are five foot. Feather is clearing this with ease.

After multiple false starts and problems due to weather, blown tires and other misadventures, we finally got Feather up to trainer Dev’s today for the first time in many months. In fact, except for schooling at the show grounds, Feather has not jumped for at least three months.

Promptly, as we got out to the ring, other horses started running in the pasture, they spooked Feather and Lauren went off.  It was not an auspicious beginning.  Dev set some grid like  jumps (three in a row) and the first couple of times he set them low.  Feather and Lauren were still getting adjusted.  Feather is much lighter to handle than Mickey (think barely touching your reins versus seriously pulling your horse around) and you have the difference between the two horses.  Plus Mickey is super experienced and this is all new to Feather.  But after the second time through, no matter how Dev raised the jumps, Feather floated over and flew across any jump in her path.  It was all pretty amazing!

We will take it slow with her but had been wondering for the entire year we had her if she could “really” jump.  The furthest Mickey has ever gone is the Low amateur division.  Today after their all-star ride, Dev didn’t say “if” or “maybe”, he said you have a horse that can do the “highs” (the next division above the lows) if not more.

As Roger Craeger sings, “Things are looking good around here”.

Six Week Check

Dr. Marsh getting down on the ground to get up to date pictures of Bruno's hoof.  Bruno was pretty interested!

Dr. Marsh getting down on the ground to get up to date pictures of Bruno’s hoof. Bruno was pretty interested!

I think it was author Jon Katz who said something to the effect of the abnormal is the norm for a day on the farm.  Once again in the category of what were we thinking, Lauren and I, under-estimated what would happen when we got ready to take Bruno back to Texas A&M Vet Hospital for his six-week check up.  This horse who has for the most part calmly stood in stalls for over 45 days, accepted numerous strangers into his realm, endured tropical storm strength rain and wind, and happily watched the world go by from the inside of his stall came roaring out of it this morning.  So, mistake number one, we were not ready for how strong and powerfully he would leave his stall.  But we also under-estimated the other side of co-dependent relationship we had created between Bruno and Mr. Kid.  As Bruno left the paddock, rearing, spinning and bucking, Kid was following suit in the stall area behind.  My 31 year-old horse was running, kicking and bolting to try to stay with his BFF- Bruno.

As I locked Kid in a stall, Lauren with the aid of some horse treats and tough love got Bruno calmed down enough to load in the trailer.  Bruno was pawing and neighing while Lauren started driving the trailer around in circles waiting for me to let Kid out and get the gates shut.  As I opened the stall gate, Kid came out of the stall like he had just broken the barrier on the race track starting gate.  However, with his 31 year-old eye sight and coordination, instead of flying out to the paddock he got caught up in his own feet and fell heavily to the ground.  For a paralyzing moment, I thought he had broken his leg but he bounded up seemingly unhurt and I ran for the trailer.

Once we got a few miles down the road, Bruno settled in and trailered like a champ.  At  A&M, Dr. Marsh’s first orders were to see how Bruno was moving-how lame he was before he unbandaged the hoof.

Sorry its so small-but Bruno trotted the A&M hallways with nary a limp.  It was amazing!

Sorry it’s so small-but Bruno trotted the A&M hallways with nary a limp. It was amazing!

In a lameness scale of one to five, with five the worst, Bruno was barely a one!  It was amazing to watch the big guy trot down the hallway.  Dr. Marsh’s vet student helpers unwrapped the hoof and everyone seemed to be pleased with the hoof growing progress he had achieved.

Then we moved off for the second stage of day’s events, to have his feet trimmed and his horse shoes re-set.  This was a serious undertaking by one of the top horseshoers in Texas and he was definitely dressed for the part with slouchy felt cowboy hat, chaps, jeans and boots.  This was old-school hot shoeing like you used to see on the old westerns.  He would trim up each hoof, heat up the horse shoes and apply them to Bruno’s feet.  Just like a Japanese restaurant, the sizzle and steam would be heard and seen.  But the smell was more burning flesh than delectable food.

When his three other feet were done, we returned to the treatment room.  Dr. Marsh wanted to cut-away some of the tissue that he felt was impairing the healing of the healthy flesh.  He warned us there would be blood.  I think we almost lost Lauren at this point as she huddled in the corner, her ‘Hello Kitty’ sweatshirt covering her nose and mouth (to what end, I do not know).

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After Dr. Marsh was satisfied that only healthy flesh remained, a tourniquet was placed on Bruno’s leg to stop the bleeding. In the understatement of the day, there was a lot of blood.  Then Jason the horseshoer was back to place the shoe on this hoof.

But in the end-after over three hours, the shoe, the surgical plate equipped with new screws and a bunch of gauze padding was all wrapped up for the ride home in elastic bandage.  We will change it tomorrow.  Bruno was pronounced as “doing well” and we were told-see you in six weeks.  He will remain on house arrest locked in his stall twenty-four hours a day.

At the trailer Lauren and I waited as two of the vet students brought Bruno out.  Much quieter than his riotous ways of this morning, he calmly and easily loaded up into the trailer.  The vet student looked at me and said “I love these thoroughbreds, they always know how to load”.  Lauren and I love this thoroughbred, too!

Lauren and I were both exhausted after the long day.  I suspect my friend Bruno and his best-friend Mr. Kid will sleep the long sleep earned by both of them tonight.

Have Your Picture taken with the Giant Horse!-A Bruno Story

Lauren had new stock panels delivered this week.  We are hoping that we get the okay tomorrow at A&M to allow Bruno to go out in a confined area.  Also, Mr. Kid, Bruno’s babysitter has been sneaking off behind the barn to eat the fresh spring grass that is growing there. We thought it best to fence in the paddock.

The guys from the feedstore showed up with the six-foot high panels and proceeded to put them up for us.  Lauren and I had stressed over who was going to help us with those.  Dillion and Eric just hauled them out of the truck and proceeded to configure the panels.  What did they want in return?  Well, beer probably would have been a choice but all I had was Jim’s Blue Moon beer and that was not to a small town Texas man’s liking.  Instead, they wanted to go in and take pictures with Bruno. 

 

Jordyn on Feather and Mackenzie on Mick.

Jordyn on Feather and Mackenzie on Mick.

Saturday a friend from work came with her daughter.  She is a little older than Jordyn but had never ridden before at all.  She and Jordyn had a great time with Mickey and Feather. But before they left they went to Bruno’s stall to get pictures with the “giant horse”.

And so the weekend went.  Roland, our farrier, came to do the horse’s feet (he did not want a picture with Bruno but did look at his hoof and said he thought it was doing well).  Ally and Luke came back with the kids and some family friends.  Roland had quite a time shoeing while visitors tramped in and out of the barnyard headed to… you guessed it… Bruno’s stall.  I think I could start charging admission to see the giant horse and make a respectable second income. 

This morning Amy and her daughter Meagen came to get hay.  But first they, too,  had to take pictures with the big horse.

Meagen and the giant horse.  Is that anything like James and the giant peach?

Meagen and the giant horse. Is that anything like James and the giant peach?

Meagen also rode Mimi for us.  Mimi is for sale and we wanted to see how she would do with a non-adult rider.  She was great.  I think she is turning into a special little pony. 

The giant horse returns to Texas A&M for his first follow-up visit since his dismissal from the hospital.  He will get new shoes (which will cost way more than any shoes I will buy this year) and have his progress evaluated by Dr. Marsh.  We think we will get praise for our care of the big guy and are hoping for a confirmation that the hoof is growing healthy and strong. 

We have new tires on the trailer, Bruno has his foot bandaged in maroon and we should be good to go on the road to A&M.

Have you seen Jesus, my Lord?

This morning with the pre-dawn full moon light shifting through the scattered clouds, I walked out the back door with Lula, PuppyGirl and Muffy scampering out from under my feet.  We had left Mickey, Feather and Mimi out in the pasture over night as the weather was warm and the breeze tender.  Directly out from the back yard, laying in a perfect circle of horse (and pony) bodies were all three animals.

The vision of moon shining through the clouds upon them as lay quietly in rest was amazing.  They were head to tail spaced out in their little circle as if they had fallen asleep telling ghost stories over the camp fire.

It brought to mind an old Young Life Christian song, that goes something like this:

Have you seen Jesus, my Lord?                                               He’s here in plain view                                                                Take a look, open your eyes                                                      He’s waiting for you

There are moments in our life that God surrounds us but we must be watching and willing to accept his presence.

As George Strait said, “I saw God today”.  And I am thankful.

Surprises

Mom's overflowing laundry basket.

Mom’s overflowing laundry basket.

Ever since we brought my mom to live here in Wharton, an on-going problem has been her laundry.  If you have ever met my mother (or any of her sisters when they were around) you know she loves clothes.  She has always been concerned about how she looks, if everything coordinates, if she has her lipstick on and if it is the right outfit for event.

One of the big perks of her new place was that it has two closets.  I can tell you both closets are full to the brim.  I am even a little concerned that the rod in the first closet may snap due to the weight of her clothes.  Now, some of the things like those with more complicated zippers and buttons, she does not wear anymore.  She also favors pink.  She has a great green warm-up suit with matching shirt that would look wonderful on her and I think she has worn it once.  It is not pink.

When she has down time in her room, her favorite activity is to play with her clothes.  Lunch needs a different outfit than breakfast.  When I get there in the afternoon, often she has been resting.  If I am lucky I can get her back in the outfit she wore to lunch.

Lauren and I (we are not proud) have been known to go through her laundry basket and take out things that are not dirty and re-hang them.  I mean really, how dirty can she get inside a facility all day?  Sometimes she has sweaters on for mere moments and in the laundry basket they go.

So, in the beginning I kept asking the lady at the front desk when her laundry would be done.  She always said soon-the next day-soon.  But it never happened.  Once a week, at least, Lauren and I gathered up the laundry, her hangers and took everything home to be washed.  Most weekends that was an additional three loads of wash-seriously!  One little tiny person who did not step outside on most weeks generated three loads of wash.  Unbelievable.  Plus, we would need to re-hang everything and return it all to the nursing home each week.  We would hang whole outfits together on one hanger in hopes that she wouldn’t try on multiple things to get dressed.  It has made me nuts! It isn’t just the work, but the anticipation of the laundry basket filling up.  Each day I would watch the pile grow higher and higher.  I started out taking home on Saturdays, then Fridays, then Thursdays as it was always full.  And you would never know if there was some “surprise” in the sheets or towels.  The whole “surprise” factor pretty much assured that Lauren was not helping with the wash.

Monday while mom was getting ready for dinner, I found a sheet of paper left over the weekend by the cleaning supervisor.  It had a list of the residents and what day their laundry day was.  Mom’s name was on the list of “no laundry services”.  Wow, that clears up why she never got her laundry done.  I went to talk to the manager.  Apparently, when we first enrolled mom in the center, I had wanted her to have baths six days a week.  The standard was for three.  Mom likes to be clean (thank God!) so we went with the bonus six days of bathing.  Somehow, in the complicated point system that determines what you pay each month, the extra bathing meant no laundry.  Oh, my goodness, we need to fix that!

So, yes, I sold my mother’s bathing rights (two days of bathing for weekly laundry service).  She will still have five baths a week and we will pray that is enough.  Lauren did mention when we were discussing this that if the bathing was the issue, I could just start doing her baths each day.  I have to say that I will stick with the laundry given that choice!

This all sounds stupid but this should give me back a few hours a week and I am overjoyed at not picking through her laundry basket each week. I found a great surprise in the notice left in her room and now I will find no more surprises in her laundry.   It is the little things!

Not a bloody good day!

I have three daughters and all three of them had bloody bad days today. And my mother, well, don’t get me started on her.

According to Wikipedia-Bloody is the adjectival form of blood. It is commonly used as an expletive attributive (intensifier) in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth and ex-Commonwealth countries. 

Well, we may be in a non-Commonwealth country (maybe, technically we are an ex-Commonwealth country-you know the whole split from England thing), but the phrase was appropriate today, figuratively and literally.

Jordyn, at age five, had permanent teeth appear behind her baby front teeth.  They had to be pulled this morning.  Due to a delay in the timing of the anesthetic or maybe just because it hurt, Jordyn cried long after she got home from the dentist.  I have been assured that there was a great of blood involved in this first example of my daughters’ bloody day.

I called Ally to beg for help (although she was standing over Jordyn and dentist at the time) when I received a call from Lauren telling me she was stranded on the side of the highway.  Lauren and Feather had been headed to trainer Dev’s for their first lesson in over 60 days.  But it wasn’t to be.  Lauren had a trailer tire blow out on the highway causing the truck to rock hard to left.  When Lauren finally got the trailer safely off the road, she found Feather’s white face covered in blood. To say she was panicked and overwhelmed when she called me was an understatement.  We have no one to call here to help.  I knew Luke was at work and Blake was at school.

I tried a tire store that suggested she drive it on up there.  Then Lauren called me back to tell me some nice man had pulled over to help her. Mommas out there, if you are raising your sons to help stranded women with horse trailers, I applaud you!  Then I called Dr. Criner to see if she might be in the vicinity to give Feather a look over to decide if we should head home or to the vet clinic.  Luck was on our side when she told me she was about 10 miles away.

Just about the time, Dr. Criner arrived the guy had finished with the tire.  I even had Lauren borrow some cash from DC to give to the young man (full service vet care).  I will pay her back soon!  Dr. Criner wanted to get Feather out of  the trailer to examine her but I reminded her we were dealing with Feather who might never get back in the trailer after this so she settled on examining her through the trailer window.  She determined Feather had cut her ear, it did not need stitches, but had produced a lot of blood.

By this time, Lauren was ready to head home and I think Jo had finally quit crying over her teeth and was settled in to watch a movie.  Amber had been calling me off and on but I am doing training at work and was trying to focus on it, and had not picked up the calls.  Turns out Amber endured a minor surgical procedure that also produced a lot of bleeding.  She had gone in for a consultation and it had been decided to just “do it now”.  This is my nurse practitioner daughter who is usually on the doing not the receiving end of health care.  She didn’t like it a bit.

What a time!  My head is still reeling.  When I got to my mom’s she was distraught over news of Jim’s fourth marriage and just couldn’t believe he could have married two women after her (of course, he hadn’t but that took some explaining and repetition to get her to believe).

I am now going straight to bed.  I have not had a bloody good day but so far I have encountered no actual blood.  It does not seem like a day to take any chances!

p.s.  When I got my used 2002 trailer they said it had new tires on it.  They looked fine and had good tread.  One blew a year ago but both of my son-in-laws were on hand to help.  The tire store said today that the three remaining tires had dry rot and could have blown out at any time.  I replaced all the tires.  I am grateful that except for a little stress and a lot of superficial blood all are fine.  I am grateful that the tires did not blow out on the trips to or from College Station with Bruno.