Flight for Life

Life Flight landing!

Life Flight landing!

I worked as the night manager at a large Kansas City hospital, although not a nurse, I was trained in CPR and first aid.  I was expected to do anything that needed to be done from guiding rescue helicopters in, holding a broken leg together as it was stabilized and routinely pushing dead bodies to the morgue.

I drive just under 1000 miles in an average week.  I see more accidents and near misses than most drivers.  I count my blessings each and every time I safely make it to my destination.  Saturday morning, Lauren and I were on a huge push to clean up, pack up and throw away all stray items in our little house in preparation for the house going on the market.  We had worked late Friday night organizing things into three piles; save/pack, save/donate and just throw away.

We packed up all the donations stuff and headed towards town where we were going to run by the donation center and visit my mom.  Just as we turned off our road on the highway to town, we immediately saw a battered red car smoking in the lane in front of us and a totally trashed white pickup also billowing smoke in the ditch a little further down.  It was bad, you could just tell.

I pulled my car up on the side of road, instructed Lauren to call 911 and set off to see what I could do to help.  There was one man struggling to get out of the white pickup truck.  I urged him to move away from the truck (I was afraid the gas tank would blow and we would all be dead) and as he did, we got him lying down on the pavement.  I left Lauren with him and I headed to the red car.  One young man was staggering down the shoulder of the road with lacerations covering his face.  He was missing a shoe and his pants (not really clear how that happened-nor do I want to think about it much).  I got him lying down as well.  It was cold with a bitter wind rolling across the county.  Suddenly, I remembered our Goodwill things. I sent Lauren racing back to car to get the sheets and comforters that we had planned to donate to Goodwill to cover the injured men as they lay on the road.  Lauren reported that her man had a bone protruding from his leg and his belly was swelling fast.  My laceration boy was totally out of it.  He knew his name (Chris) but was not oriented to time or place.  I just got blank stares as I asked him over and over if he knew where he was or what month it was.  The driver of the red car who witnesses said just drifted into the oncoming traffic and hit the white pickup head-on at 65 miles per hour was largely unhurt.  He would walk by Chris and apologize on a regular basis.  At one point he opened his wallet and countless one hundred-dollar bills took flight in the wind.  He scampered around to catch them all and stuff them back in his wallet.

Although covered with the sheets and blankets, both victims started to get shocky quickly.  Lauren’s patient was losing ground with life rapidly.  I was very proud of Lauren.  Blood is not her best thing, but she stayed by her patient, comforting him and keeping him quiet.  I suspect he had a collapsed lung and possibly a ruptured spleen from his quickly expanding abdomen and increased shortness of breath.

Lauren and I just keep telling both Chris and Anton (the pickup driver) to hang on, help was coming.  Chris became agitated several times and it was a challenge to keep him down on the pavement.  I suspect he had a serious head injury and also neck and back issues. Lauren kept Anton talking best he could to keep him calm.  He told us his wife was out-of-town and no one would know how to reach her.  He was so worried about his truck.  I think he had a lot more to worry about, but Lauren kept his mind off the horrible injuries he had sustained.

I felt a little like the M*A*S*H* team, understaffed, overwhelmed and undersupplied.  After almost 20 minutes, the first ambulance teams showed up.  I gave them report on the patients just as I had years ago.  They threw me a pair of plastic gloves which I put on (there was a lot of blood).  Then it was decided that both patients needed to be Life Flighted out to Houston.  Anton had quizzed Lauren on the local hospital.  Houston was a much better destination for both patients.

It was interesting that no one, not the police, the fire fighters, the paramedics or anyone else questioned what my daughter and I were doing with these people, sitting alongside them as they laid in the road.  I feel in Houston, we would have been given a quick thank you and run off when the teams first arrived, but not here.

Probably 40 minutes after the wreck, and with Anton’s condition continuing to deteriorate, we suddenly heard Life Flight approaching from the north.  I had another flash back to my hospital night shift years and the helicopter landings from my youth.  The EMTs showed up with the back board, again not questioning me or my credentials (or lack thereof), they rolled the patient (Chris) on his side, I pushed the board under him and helped adjust down the straps and off he went, covered with Amber’s childhood Strawberry Shortcake sheets.

Lauren helped with Anton and the copter was off, raising off in the blue sky.  We headed to our car, said prayers for both men and drove on our way.

Moving on?

Six Meadow Farm is up for sale.  Hurry, I may chicken out!

Six Meadow Farm is up for sale. Hurry, I may chicken out!

I know have complained endlessly about my daily commute and difficult lifestyle.  For some time now we have been searching the areas surrounding Houston (and my job) for a new home.  In six months of looking we have found three real possibilities.  It is difficult to go from place we obtained very reasonably, added what we needed and made it home to the higher prices of land and facilities closer to Houston.

Our greatest fear is that we will sell our place and have nowhere to go with seven dogs, five horses and numerous cats.  We can’t really just rent an apartment while we wait to find our dream home.  Plus, I feel my mother is in a good place now and I do not want to get to far away from her, either.

First we found 12 acres close to Dev, way closer to my work but a long way from my mom.  It had a little issue in that the only bathroom was located in the master bedroom.  Pretty fun time for visitors, traipsing through my room to pee.  Lauren wasn’t happy about it either.  We set that one aside and kept looking.

We found an amazing place in Needville with stalls, pastures and arena move in ready. Like we could have loaded up some feed, a couple buckets, the horses and moved in today.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  It got me closer to work and still not too far from my mom.   The problem with this one was almost opposite of the last one.  It had a great bathroom, conveniently located off the hall only there were NO bedrooms.  None!

Yes, it did have room to build , but I had no budget to build after buying the beautiful land, stalls and arena.  I found that to be a problem. Clearly so did the owner.  He did not accept the only offer I could make and still have money for bedrooms.

Then we journeyed up to Cat Springs.  Closer to work and the Equestrian center but a long ways from my mom.  It had great oversized stalls (Bruno sized) with a nice tack room.  The house had bedrooms and baths.  Even a fenced back yard for the dogs. Problem here was the property was set up weirdly with the barn way at the back of the property ( I love a good hike early in the morning).

And while our part of Texas is flat, flat, flat, this area has gentle hills.  There was no possible place to set up an arena where you were not constantly riding downhill.  That was a no as well.

Then we gave up for a while.  Until last week when our friend and agent Tracy found a five acre spot in Richmond, minutes from Ally.  This one required a drive through a slightly rough neighborhood before hitting horse properties that line the river.  I was a little put off on our initial drive.  Then I saw a beautiful homes, green pastures and something I had never had before…a brand new, never lived in home.  Wow.

In the case of every property having something but no property having everything, this one has a great new house.  A master bed and bath downstairs for me and an equally nice one upstairs for Lauren.  The property is fenced ( needs some fence work) has a barn but no stalls and flat ground to make an arena.  Pretty good number of right things.

Lauren and I spent the weekend, cleaning, packaging, and storing thing as that will unclutter our look at home.  The for sale sign went up Sunday.  I am still haggling with the owner of the property we like.  Trying to get the right price and right terms.  We will see.  I am confident and secure in the knowledge it will all work out in the long run.  Sure doesn’t seem to work out quickly and nicely like all those HGTV shows make it seem.  And those shows don’t mention how your stomach gets tied up in knots as we wait to hear the response from our latest offer.

If you see a gypsy caravan with horses, dogs and cats trailing behind an old VW, it will be Lauren and I homeless.   I hope we get some news soon!  Thanks for riding along.

Updates!

It has been some busy times for us.  I am taking on some new challenges at work including training on the Generational Characteristics and how this affects the workplace. It is very interesting subject matter and I am enjoying the thought-provoking classes I am teaching.  I am off today for three days in Oklahoma, some will be spent teaching and some spent as the student in Finance Excellence classes.  I am traveling without a coat from 70 degree Houston.  I have already been warned about the weather in Bartlesville.  Oh well!

Lauren took a pretty bad fall from Feather a few weeks ago at Dev’s.  Her back pain, in particular, has not resolved.  She saw the orthopedic surgeon who has pretty much been on speed dial with this family handling my broken pelvis, my mom’s knees, Ally’s broken arm and Lauren’s myriad of horse related accidents.  Dr. Chau never forgets to remind us that he was the attending physician on the grounds when Christopher Reeve (Superman) had his horrible accident.  He is not a huge horse enthusiast.

Lauren has seen him multiple times following falls from Mickey for her knees.  We have failed to follow up with his suggestions for MRIs of both legs.  Denial!  Moments into her visit last week, Dr. Chau had already focused on her knees again.  Apparently, they are not getting better.  Additionally, he was concerned about some tearing and/or rupturing in her lower spine.

Lauren had three MRIs last week.  I regret that I am out of town as I know Dr. Chau has given her a lot of information and it might be confusing and overwhelming.  Essentially she has torn cartilage  in both knees and a ruptured disc in her back.  He has always been conservative and is recommending physical therapy.  He is concerned about rheumatoid arthritis so she will have some lab work done as well.

I am just hoping she gets more comfortable and stays out of surgery.

It is Mickey’s birthday today.  He is 16.  While he has been personally responsible for a lot of the wear and tear on Lauren’s body, he has been her partner in her equestrian career for much of her life.  Happy Birthday, Mickey, I am very grateful to you!

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OTTBs-oh, what to do!

Bruno and Lauren breezing down the track.

Bruno and Lauren breezing down the track.

We have had Bruno for almost 18 months now.  Time flies.  A year ago we were deep in his care wrapping, treating and working on his surgically altered hoof, day after day.

And each day we would marvel at Bruno’s great beauty and strength.  He is hands down the most amazing looking horse I have ever owned.   I have had some great ones over the years, including a mare by AQHA super horse, Rugged Lark.  She was indeed a beauty, but not as startling beautiful as Bru.

From the beginning, we dreamed great things for this horse.  I am part of the OTTB Connect group on Facebook and while I can’t speak for everyone, it is doubtful to me that any of us obtained our OTTB without some thought of what our new thoroughbred could do.  And many of them progress on to great, new things.  But some become more a cherished pet than a show horse.  That’s okay, too.

My friend Caroline has rescue horse Joey whom she got up to a safe weight, fixed his hoof issues and turned his dull coat into one that gleams.  She tried to find him a new spot where he would work out for another rider but Joey ended up shuttled around Texas until fate intervened, someone happened to read my blog and Joey came home to Caroline once again.  But in way worse shape than he started.

We have had HUGE dreams for Bruno.  He has the size, the breeding, the look and the conformation to make a top show horse.  Joey is a classic looking thoroughbred as well, tall, fast and smart.  Both of these boys could have great futures in the eventing or show ring.

Handsome Joey, hanging out waiting for something to do.

Handsome Joey, hanging out waiting for something to do.

Caroline and Lauren are excellent riders who can handle the antics and excitement provided by two, young, race bred horses.  Here’s the problem.  Both ladies have show horses needing regular, consistent riding.  Both of their other horses are further along and currently show great promise in the ring.  It is a hard dilemma.  Lauren and Caroline have both been intermittently sidelined with back problems.  Both ladies have school or jobs which take up their time.

It is sad but true that both of these OTTBs are pretty much on the back burner.  Neither Caroline or I want to sell these horses.  Too much love and care has gone into them.  But it is sad to see them lose yet another year as we cannot find the time or resources to get either of them in a regular training program.  I welcome ideas on what to do with the boys to keep their training going, start showing them and continue to develop them as sport horses after the track.

Thanks for riding along with us!

Poo, Bru and other stories

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Finally, the weather has finally broken and south Texas has started to look and feel more spring in the south and less like Chicago in November.  We will remember this winter, and not fondly.  While we certainly have not had the deep snow and below zero temps of our northern neighbors, never in the last 20 years have I experienced multiple ice/snow days or as many cold temperatures.  At least not since I have made my home here.

We got really good at draining the pipes and shutting the water down as a preamble to freezing temperatures.  Once you haul two blankets for every horse to the barn, it is not that much trouble to throw the second one on when the temperatures start to dip down.   We finished using all 80 bales of hay this week that I had budgeted to last through until March.  Sitting in stalls all day with no pasture and trying to stay warm means more hay per horse.

This period has taken a toll on Bruno and his legs.  He pulled up lame about three weeks ago in his good front leg ( not the surgery leg).  With the bad weather there has been little we can do but wrap it and pray.  Ten days ago, he went out for a brief trip to the arena (which was marginally dry) and ripped the shoe from that foot.  He immediately started getting better. I am guessing it was an abscess.  Gee, we haven’t any abscesses in years and two horses go bad in two months.

Bru going down for a roll on the soft ground while the poo looks on!

Bru going down for a roll on the soft ground while the poo looks on!

Friday dawned clear with a forecast for a warm, sunny day (finally!).  By afternoon, the front pasture was sufficiently dry enough to allow Bruno to head out for a romp for the first time in weeks.  The good weather coincided with Bruno also being sound once again.   The day before Lauren had taken Bruno out the gate to practice trailer loading and the big guy about dragged her to the pasture.  We sent Snowboy out with big Bruno and old Kid in hopes Snow would be pushed around and made to run in Kid’s place.  Bruno took off from the gate with Kona the poodle and Snow the pony, strung out running behind him.

Look how both Bru and the poo are rocked back on their haunches.

Look how both Bru and the poo are rocked back on their haunches.

I thought I was videoing the great race of the white pony, black poodle and giant race horse, but apparently failed to hit the record button.  Maybe video next time, who knows?

And off they go again!

And off they go again!

Feather had her first ride yesterday since returning home from the show two weeks ago.  Like any athlete, a horse needs regular exercise and conditioning to stay fit. Just couldn’t happen during the great storms of 2014.   Feather went to a lesson today, loaded first time easily, and was very alert and ready to jump.  Dev told Lauren her body control was better than usual especially with how high and hard Feather was jumping.

The standards are five foot.  I would say Lauren is at least seven feet up in the air.

The standards are five foot. I would say Lauren is at least seven feet up in the air.

My favorite quote of the day was when Dev told us that “Feather looked so good, she was jumping her pants off!”   It is nice she can be off a couple weeks and come back strong.

Levi is fast friends with the new Hula cat.  He calls him “Professor Burmese” because he is so worldly.

Thanks for riding along, I am headed out to see Lauren ride Bruno for the first time in a month.  Nothing like rodeo action in your own back yard!

Hula Cat

Headed home.

Headed home.

In the category of something you probably knew was true but never thought about much, is breeds of cat.  How many different breeds do you know? Probably three or four, the ones which are not registered but represent most of the cats in America, are the long-haired and short-haired domestic cat.  But you may know the Siamese, the Persian and maybe another.

I did not have cats growing up.  I was dreadfully allergic but not any more.  I got my first cat as a gift after my horse unexpectedly colicked and died.  Never did that make up for losing my horse but my cat become a good companion to me.  In college then, this cat rode with me in the car everywhere I went.  It was the beginning of a love and appreciation of the breed.  I have had a cat since then always, except for when we first moved to Texas.  We got a rescue Doberman, Abbie, who promptly killed my two registered cats, one a Burmese and one a Balinese.

We moved to this little ranch without a cat, but one hooked up with us giving us a litter of kittens our first spring.  Since then the cats have lived and died here.  I am finally to a point where all the cats but one elusive female are neutered.  We have the former little cat that we rescued a few months ago who now lives inside the house.  Levi is now a big boy.  He gets along with the dogs.  But I do not want Levi to be outside and decide to wander into the backyard to see his friendly dogs.  I am pretty convinced the dogs would go into a lynch mob persona, attack and kill Levi cat.

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So, anyway, back to the cat breeds.  Lauren and I ended up at a cat show in San Antonio this weekend (bet that was on the must visit for a lot of you).  We needed to return her cowboy boots at a store near there.  Why not just stop at the cat show?  It would be good for Levi to have a young brother to share his inside home.  Most people think of cats as one type.  You wouldn’t think all dogs are the same.  A Doberman has different traits than a Lab.  A Lab is different from a Yorkie.  But a cat is a cat.  No.  They are not.  I have owned Burmese cats before. They are noted to be the breed of cat most like dogs.  My Burmese cats played fetch, retrieved things, would sit on command and stay when asked.

Two beautiful Burmese cats at the show.

Two beautiful Burmese cats at the show.

Burmese cats from the island of Burma, are similar in size and sleek body style to their cousins the Siamese.  The Burmese is the only brown cat in existence.  They are a rich chocolate brown with lovely golden eyes.  They love children, other pets, affection and being part of a busy household.  This is probably more about cats than you ever wanted to know.

Bottom line, just like last February when I decided to get the standard poodle I had always wanted, this year, it was a Burmese cat I desired.  I found a breeder with an older male whom they planned to use as a show cat, but like Kona, he just wasn’t quite perfect enough for that.  He needed a home and he was certainly perfect enough for me!

Levi is loving his new brother.  I am already loving this little man.  On the scary ride home, Hula didn’t know me at all.  I took him out of his carrier and he cheerfully, confidently, laid against my chest, purring contentedly.  Most cats would have scratched, run to hide  and demanded loudly to get out of the car.

Welcome home Hula kitty.  I am so happy to have you!

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Car ride home.

Car ride home.

Sighted

Beam me up, Scotty! Where did they go?

Beam me up, Scotty! Where did they go?

I have plans for my blog, an idea well thought out and ready to explode and be published.  Then something catches my eye and engages my brain.  This can be a dangerous situation for those riding in the car with me or alongside me on the highway.  I see amazing scenes.  Maybe everyone does.  My slightly eclectic and visual brain spots things, analyzes them, and marvels over them.  I want to photograph each thing that surprises me or startles me in my day.  I keep my camera with me most of the time and thanks to cell phones and iPads, I usually have some way to record the moment.

Today was an unusual day.  Although the threat of ice and snow have been more common than ever this winter in coastal, bordering on sub-tropical south Texas, I have not seen many flakes.  I have seen many, many days this winter with freezing, nasty weather but no real snow.  Shortly after 6:00 am this morning, as I pulled through the guard gates of my office, suddenly my headlights picked up huge flakes falling rapidly covering my wind shield and the palm trees.  It was as if a giant snow globe had broken open and poured on my little car.

Sorry, no photos of that but it was pretty magical and short-lived.  No sooner had I done my public service by posting warnings of snow and sleet falling in Houston on my Facebook, did it quit as soon as it started.  But I swear it happened.  I have names of witnesses that work with me that can verify my story.

My next sighting may have been the most bizarre but I have no way to get anyone to verify it.   All I can tell you for sure is that someone is missing a pig, either pot-bellied or  a young one.  For those of you not familiar with Houston we have a beltway around our city, like many, that connects into the major interstates.   If I could have gotten a picture without creating a traffic back up that would tie things up for hours, I would have gotten a picture of this.  I was on the beltway southbound just about to hit the merge to 59 south.  This is ALL an elevated section of highway with no way for an animal to wander out on the highway.  In Wharton, cows, deers, horses, and various other mammals routinely get hit on the highway.  Lauren has hit two deer.  I have taken out one giant cow and almost totaled my car.  Country issues.

But here I am doing my elevated city commute and the cars ahead of me are dramatically veering around a brown object in the road.  As it was my turn to pass, I could clearly see a young brown pig with his little snout and cloven feet visible lying dead on the highway.  How does this happen? Did this little poor thing drop from the back of a truck?  Was he a pet that jumped to his death from the family car?  Did pigs finally fly and then crash to earth?  I have no reasonable explanation for what I saw.  I have not been drinking, at least nothing but a Diet Coke. Arguably the weirdest thing I have ever seen.

Then to keep the trend of my crazy commute going, I pulled into the nursing home to see the scene above blanketing the front entrance.  My first thought was God has come to take them all home and they won’t need walkers or wheelchairs in Heaven.  Then I wondered if they had all been abducted by aliens.  It was like an old folk ghost town.  I got into the lobby to discover the folks were out “joy riding” in the center’s bus.  They didn’t need their walking appliances so they had been left behind in the drive.  Trustworthy people in my little town, for sure.  I had really been hoping for a good alien abduction.

Ally and her girls met me at my mom’s room.  Mom had no clue who any of them were but laughed with delight over the antics between big sister Jordyn and baby Kendyll.  Ally tried to explain who we all were but momma didn’t get it.

Momma had just had her hair done and was happy to pose with Jo.

Momma had just had her hair done and was happy to pose with Jo.

I swear Jordyn will be bigger than her great grandma soon.  It was a pretty great sighting to see momma smile with delight over the girls.

Home now, we trying to keep temps over freezing and my water on tonight. It’s going be a five dog night for me!  Horses are blanketed heavily against the cold.  Stay safe and warm.

Five dog night in full effect here.

Five dog night in full effect here.