Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Movin' right along

I finished the kids' taxes, although I had to buy a new flat-screen monitor. I made a huge error when I decided to be a good greenie, and put "none" for the screen saver, and instead set the monitor to power down after one hour. So everything was fine, I went to eat dinner, and when I came back, the "sleeping" monitor refused to wake up! After much fiddling around, my son found that if he turned off the overhead lights and shined a penlight obliquely at the screen, he could just make out the images on it, so he tried changing the contrast, brightness, etc. but the screen remained obstinately dark. Hooking up his monitor temporarily at least reassured me that the entire computer had not crashed. Somehow, buying a new monitor just doesn't make me come all over warm and fuzzy. It's more like the feeling I get when I'm grocery shopping... so much money for so little pleasure. Just think, if you didn't have to eat at all, how much time, effort and money you would save. Maybe we could just plug in a recharger, and sit idle while we got a boost. No dishes to wash, no leftovers to store until they are green and fuzzy, no kitchen grease to coat the entire house with Essence of Fried Onion. I can get behind that.

The farrier came yesterday (this is the correct title for a blacksmith who works exclusively on horse hoofsies, in case it ever comes up in, say, a crossword puzzle) and as I ran a swift brush over them, I was appalled to see that all that loose hair isn't from just shedding their winter coats. No, of course not. They all three have "rainrot" a skin condition caused by an actinomyces organism, somewhat of a mix of a bacteria and a fungus. What it looks like is, well, mangy bare naked crusty oozy skin. Highly contagious, and probably part of their natural flora run amok in this G**damned wet weather, hot then cold then hot again, all with 100% humidity. I'm going to try some home remedies before I call in the vet. As nasty as it looks, it is not itchy or painful, just disgusting. Tomorrow I will use Betadine scrub, then Betadine solution, and light blankets and TRY to keep the stalls picked out and dry. The blankets will at least hide the worst of it. In addition, the old mare (24?) was turned out for a couple of hours yesterday, and today her right rear pastern is double in size, and she is very lame. This is chronic for her, and she gets meds for it, but she looked like she was really enjoying kicking up her heels yesterday, it's so sad that she has to suffer afterwards.

And the DH twisted his knee yesterday when the other mare tried to yank him off his feet while they were firmly planted in mud, in her effort to get through the gate a second or two faster. Just between you and me, he should have used the chain lead under her chin for better control, and also should not have tried to hang onto her. Believe me, in a contest of strength with a 900 pound horse, any control a puny human has is strictly a product of headology, as Terry Pratchett puts it.

I, in keeping with the general theme of our family vis a vis illness and injury, have managed to catch a cold. Last night, every time I tried to lay in bed, I began coughing uncontrollably. Then when I sat up, the coughing stopped and I got the hiccups. Every. Time. Not a fun night.

But enough whining. I made bread and brownies yesterday, and I am off to sample both. TTFN.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Monitor my blood pressure

Today I began doing the kids' tax returns, using Turbo Tax. I got stuck with Rachel's, because Ms. Pack Rack's habits do not apparently extend to keeping mail that says "Important federal tax information, do not discard!" on the envelope. No 1098-E for her student loan interest payments,so a slight delay until a duplicate can be mailed. Then I will begin on our taxes, which are a pain to collect all the charitable donations, and all the medical payments. Such a pain.

Right in the middle of it, the flat screen monitor died. Piece of junk. I write this on my trusty MacBook.

Also it has been pouring all day,and I am beginning to feel, well, moldy.

Friday we are driving to New Kensington to see Suzanne again. If the weather will cooperate, it will be a good drive in the new Lincoln. Or, it will be pissing down and I will be a frazzled wreck, strung out on Xanax to keep from tearing my face to tatters, and my nails to snaggly crusts.

Ah well, spring soon.....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March the WHAT!!??

Geez I cannot get to sleep tonight, not even with a boring book and a cookie.

This last week has been stressful, so maybe that is part of the problem. On Monday the 10th, DH's sister-in-law passed away suddenly from an embolism, and he flew out to Portland to help his brother, and just returned this morning, after an all-night cross continental flight in BAD weather. His brother is in poor health, as well as being deeply affected by the loss of his wife of 30+ years. Theirs was a very close marriage, maybe too close.... Like my parents, they focussed on each other to a high degree, doing everything together with the total exclusion of any friends or family. And like my dad, when mom passed, he seems to be totally rudderless. All of which ended sadly for my dad. I hope B does better, he's much younger (59), and he lives in his step-son's house, so we're hoping that he won't just slip into depression to the point where he won't take care of himself.

The weather here is and continues to be a trial. It has rained so much, our house, while not in danger of flooding, is surrounded by a 6 inch deep swimming pool on all sides. We don't dare let the horses out into the paddocks with the footing as mired and mucky as it is, with our vet bills we surely do not need any lame horses. And the dogs literally do not have the brains to come in out of the rain, so the only way to keep them dry is to shut them in the barn, which is so boring they destroy whatever is within reach. Think about it, would you think a dog would CHEW on a pooper scooper, to the point of demolishing it? It wasn't clean either.... I can't leave the halters hanging on the stall doors, where they might conceivably be needed in an emergency like a fire, because the dogs, when standing on their back paws, are 6 feet tall. Oh well, maybe spring will come eventually.

Did I tell you about Gracie and her eye problems? I know this will be SO interesting. Anyway, this cat has been squinting out of her left eye for weeks, it would look bad one day, then clear up almost completely, and then flare back up again. My daughter said she could see a long scratch on the cornea, and she (the cat, not my daughter) had been scratching at her ears, although they looked OK to me, but maybe she missed and nicked her eye with a hind claw. So we take her to the vet (which she fights and cries and messes the crate) and he says it is a scratch and sends us off with an antibiotic ointment, for twice a day. We do the ten days, during which time we learned of ever more remote places an indoor cat can hide, especially a gray cat. But at the end, it actually looks worse. So back we go, and this time he sees all this icky matter under her lower lid, infiltrating red streaks and pus in her inner eyelid. So he keeps her overnight and does surgery to clean all the gunk out, remove a fine bit of the inflamed tissue to send for biopsy, thinking cancer. But yeah, it is not cancer, and she comes home looking almost normal again, with steroid drops and antibiotic drops, twice a day for, yes you guessed it, ten days. But the eye is looking great, so we persevered. The final conclusion was that there was some "foreign body" in her eye, now removed, that caused it to begin healing and then flare back up again. She did have an ear infection too. The total bill ran some $400 +.

This is of course in addition to the $$$ spent on Raven, the Newfoundland, in THIS Post, and believe you me, we NEVER permit the dogs back in the tack room, and all the meds are on a shelf 6 feet up.

I got the clippers out and gave the horses a half-assed haircut, removing 10 inches at least of scraggly mane. And oh yes, the dogs were grabbing up mouthfuls of hair as soon as it hit the floor and carrying it away to eat, wouldn't that make a lovely blockage in their guts? Roto Rooter to the rescue... Now they look like the new kid in school with the cheap haircut, but at least I can see to put the halter on without having to fight my way through dreads. They are beginning to shed out their winter coats, and thus look like they've been groomed regularly -- with a weed eater. Or chewed by moths. So with itchy coats, when we are forced to let them out at least long enough to clean stalls, they take advantage of their freedom to completely ignore the new, deep pile of clean sand we had delivered just for the purpose, and instead perversely roll in the muddiest spot, so they look like a tribal sacrifice to the God of Mud. And when they're ready to come back in the barn, they stand just outside the gate and stamp their feet and paw the mud until all the gravel disappears and the result looks like it's fit for pigs. This area, of course, is what I have to get through to halter them, one by one, and lead them back to the barn, hoping that I won't have my rubber boots sucked right off my feet, never to be seen again.

Just call me "Desperately Seeking Sunshine".