Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A thorn in my...foot

    Let me preface this post by saying I never walk around my house without shoes, or slippers on my feet. It's just too hazardous with all of our pets. I could encounter mouse guts, mole guts, bird beaks, burs, or other random flotsam on the floors. I vacuum, like a demon, but despite my best efforts there is always SOMETHING potentially dangerous in my home. I don't ever want to step on something squishy, or prickly, or thorny. My feet are tender. Always have been. My older sisters grew up running round with no shoes,  tough, grubby soles, impervious to anything. They could walk on nail boards and be fine. Me? Not so. I have tender, small, flat feet. Whenever I walked barefooted as a child,  I used to stub my big toes on a regular basis, much to my big sisters delight. They would regale me with stories of Bloody Mary, who left trails of blood, wherever she walked due to her bleeding big toes. They even conjured up a song, "Blooddyyy Marrrryy!, Bloooddyy Maaarry!" It scared the bejesus out of me!  I think they made it up just to spook their bratty little sister, but it left scars and not only on my toes! I have delicate, geisha feet, and way too small for my height. I'm tippy on a mere size 7 1/2. I'm 5'8, for heaven's sake. I should rock a good size 8, or bigger. It's a burden.
  When I got up this morning I felt a slight pain on the outside of my right heel. Nothing horrible, but it hurt, nonetheless. I ignored it for the first hour, but when I began moving around to make another tea it got worse.

"What was it?" I asked myself.  It was time to go to the bathroom and investigate.

I got a pair of needle like tweezers and sat down for a good look. I sat on the bathroom rug and bent my leg backwards so I could see my heel. Ouch. I'm not made to be very "bendy".  My knee screamed, but I kept the angle and noticed what looked like a splinter in my heel. A very small, painful splinter. I told myself if I worked fast I could get it out, so I dug, and I dug. It HURT! And my knee joint began to pulse. Two of my cats came in to give me support (read:get in the way), but I couldn't get it. Gah! I had to get up and relieve the ache in my knee joint. Again, I told myself that yoga would be a good thing to add to my weekly routine. I hobbled to the shower thinking the hot water would help extricate the invasive splinter, you know, soften up the traumatized area. It seemed reasonable at the time.

  After my shower, I went into my bedroom, full of hope that I could get this wicked piece of HELL out of my foot. I stood by the doorway of my closet, in full sunlight and bent my leg up so I could get a good look and get the dang thing out, once and for all. There it was! It was small, but surely the source of pain. I dug the tweezers in, digging and digging. No dice. No DICE! NO DICE! Crap. Now my left hip was killing me from standing on one leg. When the pain became intolerable, I gave up. Whatever. I have a little, tiny splinter in my foot. No idea how it got there. No way of getting it out without causing extreme physical harm. I'm screwed. I got dressed and figured it was just a small splinter, carry on with the day. I had bigger fish to fry.

  Well, now it hurts a lot. I think I have to ask for Jonathan to help me with my "situation". The only problem is that I have extremely sensitive feet. When I was in my early 20's, I dated a guy who was hell bent on getting me over my ridiculous foot sensitivity. Why? Well, he was a psycho. I ended up kung-fu kicking him in the face.  We broke up soon after that incident. I've never had a pedicure due to my extremely sensitive feet. I feel deprived, yet happy that I've only kung-fu kicked one person in the face in my life.

  On that note, I'm going to steel myself and ask Jonathan to get the tweezers and extricate this splinter, once and for all. I promise I won't kick him in the face. I won't! I'll kick to the side if I start freaking out. I'm pretty sure I can do that in the heat of the moment.  Pretty sure...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Part III Won't you be my neighbor?

    It's safe to say the initial few months on our current property were rife with rocky moments.  The new barn was going well, customers were happy, the horses loved it here, we loved it here, the cats loved it here and our dogs really loved it here, because they instantly turned into wild savages. Don't let the above picture fool you, because they became uncontrollable killers of woodchucks, our distant neighbor's chicken colony (that was awful!!) and Remy bit a fist sized hole into the flank of the neighbor's black lab, during a play episode that got too rough. The neighbor's seemed cool about their dog's wounding and I volunteered to pay all the vet bills, but the animosity started that day.  We immediately installed Invisible Fence to keep our dogs on our property, safely away from the neighbor's yard (and the chicken coop), but from that day forward, I sensed the neighbor's palpable irritation with our presence on the property.  And two years later, it hasn't gotten any better.

  To get to their home,  our neighbors have to drive by our house and barn.  The matriarch of the family wears the pants. She's a pudgy, balding woman (might explain some of her anger), mother to three very polite kids, wife to the barn manager, Jorge and iron fisted ruler of her domain, would best describe her. She's Mexican, doesn't speak much english and she hates us.  HATES us. If her glares could kill us, we'd be dead a thousand times over.  I always dutifully wave to her when she drives by, but I avert my eyes. Who wants to look into the beady eyes of death every day? It gets boring. I get it. You've killed me, Mommy. I'm dead. Anything else?

Here's me when she drives by: "Okay, angry bald woman, hello! Goodbye! Screw you!" I wave.  And I shake my long, luxurious, brown locks. Take that, bald bitch. It might be childish on my part, but she's a miserable puta, and I use what I can to tell her to shove it up her arse.

  We've had some minor issues with the dogs, since the flank biting incident. All have ended peacefully. The dogs have learned to get along. The Lab is dumb, but he figured it out. Don't play too roughly and no one gets bitten. They cavort in a peaceful manner. I actually like the lab, but he doesn't speak english and my rudimentary high school spanish doesn't seem to work with him.

"Vamanos!" I tell the lab when I want him to go home. "Tu necesitas a ir a tu casa!" My high school spanish doesn't seem to hit home. It's too formal. He gives me cold looks, not much different than Mommy. I stare into his beady, brown eyes and hiss, "Go home, diablo!" This elicits big barks, but he exits, tail between his black haunches. Ha ha, victory, Diablo.

  However, the black lab devil has become increasingly interested in my cats. I sense malevolence. This is no bueno. I don't think he'd hurt them, but I can't take any chances. One day a few weeks ago, the lab was at my steps, looming over my senior citizen cat, Miss Girl. He barked. She shrank. I pounced. I ran at him with a broom in my hand and yelled," Get out!"  Now, I should know by now the damn dog doesn't speak english, but the moment was hot! I was worried for Miss Girl. She's my most precious kitty and she's deaf, old and virtually defenseless. Well, the big, balding Mommy saw this incident and now I've become the "Diabla' of the property.

  Frankly, even I have become bored with this role. I'm no Diabla.  I had a recent  confrontation with Mommy about keeping an eye on her dog so he doesn't endanger my cats. And I held my cool. She wanted to fight, but I refused. It's just not my nature. I told Mommy that I was worried about my cats, they mean so much to me and after all, (rubbing my stomach, emphatically) "I can't have children, my animals are my children," I implored.

Aahhh, Mommy melted. I hit the Latino Mommy jackpot with that statement. I think I won a Latino Emmy award. Familia es muy importante.

Things have improved over the last few weeks. The lab seems to be under control.   Mommy has been grudgingly waving. It's a tight, clipped wave, but whatever. She's fat and bald, I get it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Part Deux

   After the pot pipe debacle, I became acutely aware of how much noise we were making in our tiny second floor apartment. This became a nightly dispute between Jonathan and me:

"Jonathan! Don't walk across the room so loudly! Softer footsteps! Think of Sally," I'd whisper.

My admonishments were met with long stares, rolling eyes, followed by an "Oh boy," and several more stomping steps. Jonathan doesn't take well to "rules". He's a rebel. Always has been, always will be.  Part of his charm.  And I love this about him. Bad boys are cool to chicks, you know?
Sally began to retaliate to any noise we made by banging a broomstick on her ceiling. We'd be making dinner in the kitchen. Boom boom boom. Taking a shower. Boom boom boom. Cavorting cats, frolicking across the living room floor. Boom boom boom. It was getting intolerable for all of us.  Plus, it had to be damaging her primary form of transportation.

  The final coup de gras occurred when one night we came home to a message on our answering machine from Sally which said, "If you don't do something about those CATS running around in the middle of the night, I WILL!" Click.

  Well, that was just it for me. Nobody messes with my cats. Nobody. They are my children, I love them with all of my heart and they NEVER do anything wrong. You don't threaten their lives, Motherf-er!  I stomped down the stairwell, marched to her door, knocked and yelled, "Sally!"  I paused, hearing quiet murmurings and soft shuffles. The lights went out in her apartment. Typical of a bully. Totally passive aggressive behavior. I believe she knew that she'd gone too far, but the damage was done. I knew this situation wasn't going to work. So, a month later we moved out. Through clenched teeth, I even wished Sally well as we left.  I hope she's not sad, alone, in pain and morbidly obese these days, but if she is...oh well, karma is a bitch and so was Sally.

 Our next few homes had no neighbors. A perfect situation for us. However, two years ago we decided to rent a small farm in Millbrook, NY. The property is beautiful, and we live in a cottage, with a lovely small barn, paddocks and indoor ring to run our business. A virtual shangri-la.  Except, the property manager lives on our property, with his wife and kids.  Their house is next to our cottage and they have a dog. A very boisterous, young black Labrador.  To be continued...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mr. Rogers is a lying sack...

  Jonathan and I have been together for 23 years, with a minor hiccup in the beginning of our relationship when I decided to take a job in Arizona and give his 20 year old butt some "space".  The 3000 miles of "space" ended up in a lot of pricey phone bills, him visiting me in AZ for 2 weeks (which turned into 6 weeks) and my eventual move back to the east coast to live with him. Phew. It turned into a freaking fairy tale. Now onto the meaning of this particular blog.

  We've lived in a total of 6 houses since declaring our love for one another. My sister once told me that she'd run out of room in her address book to keep up with our new abodes. It's true. We've bounced around. Most of our rented homes had no neighbors, which was fabulous. Turns out, despite the fact that we aren't wild party animals, or nudists, or angry, difficult people, we don't do well with close neighbors.

   Our first run in with a crabby neighbor was at our second home together. It was in an older house, chopped up into apartments, and we lived on the second floor, with our two cats. When we moved in we assured our downstairs neighbor that we were quiet tenants, who ran a horse farm, went to bed early and made little noise. Turns out, in her opinion, we lied. Sally was an overweight single mom, with sad eyes, premature arthritis (she told me about her condition the first time we met her) and a totally negative attitude. She lived with her 8 year old little girl, who was cute, sweet and under the thumb of her teutonic mommy.  On our first night at our new apartment, we had two friends over for a quiet dinner, accompanied by some "gentle" music. The following morning I was awoken by furious pounding on our door. It was Sally and she was furious.

"You SAID you were quiet people!" she yelled in my face. "And yet, you were up listening to music and banging around until 10:30 p.m.!"

I was stunned, humble and apologetic, but she stormed off on her stubby, chubby, achey legs, muttering about how I was a liar.

Fast forward to a few weeks...

   On a serene, summer night, I received an angry call from Sally saying, "I've found something that belongs to YOU!"

With trepidation, I went downstairs and knocked on her door. I was met by an irate Sally, who was holding a large, padded patchwork bag that contained an ornate glass pipe.

"Is this yours?" she sputtered, shaking the bag in my face.
"Uhh, no. I think it belongs to a friend. It must've fallen out of his car when he left last night, " I replied.
"It's a glass MARIJUANA pipe that my little girl found in the driveway!" she screamed. "She's 8 and she found a MARIJUANA pipe in our driveway!"

Crap. I cursed the friend, who dropped it and proceeded onto damage control.

"Oh Sally, I'm so sorry," I said. "But it was an accident. The guy who owns this is a chef, they all do drugs. They're bad people. We'll never have him over again!"

Baffled by my diplomatic approach, she softened ever so slightly and almost smiled. Reading her body language, I ventured on.

"Have you ever smoked pot? It might be helpful with your painful, arthritic condition? I've heard it can be very therapeutic and perhaps, even assist with your insomnia?"

She narrowed her pig eyes, and gave a little laugh.

"I'm always in pain," she said. "And I have so much trouble sleeping."

I thought I was golden. I was wrong. Her mean, nasty nature took over and she said, "Don't ever let something like this happen again. And by the way, I'm sick of hearing your cats running around at all hours of the night!"

She thrust the padded bag in my face and slammed the door. Wow. I walked back upstairs and told Jonathan that I thought we'd made a mistake by moving to this place.  He reminded me that it had been my idea to move to this apartment, so it was up to me to make it all fine.   To be continued...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Oh Sh*t!!

   This morning I awoke to a strange sound coming from the street. As I shook off the grogginess that I endure every morning, due to my nightly Bendadryl dependence from crippling allergies this year, I deduced that the sound was a truck. A big truck. Oh!! It was the rolloff truck that I'd ordered last Thurs. to come pick up the manure dumpster for the farm. And I had neglected to move the Chevy Tahoe that was parked in the driveway, blocking the path to the dumpster. Ordinarily, I'd get dressed and leisurely feed the throng of screaming pets before I lolled my way to the barn to feed the horses. Today was different. Let me explain something further, the man who drives the rolloff truck (I'll call him Bud), is a short, brick of a person, with arms like Popeye, no neck and a big, blocky head,  who I've been told has anger management issues. Picture a tiny version of The Incredible Hulk, minus the shredded clothes and green skin. For the two years we've been here, I've been terrified of sparking his ire. He's never been rude, nor has he ever really shown me his temper, but it's fully palpable in his demeanor. He's like a volcano, silently simmering underground, with the constant threat of blowing lava all the way up to the sun. I had to act fast.  I threw on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and skidded through the furry bodies of my pets to the bathroom, where with shaking hands I coerced my contacts into my half opened eyeballs. Of course, one contact had to give me trouble and I cursed at the folding, flaccid lens, frantically trying to probe it into a shape that would attach to my eye. Contact don't do frantic. They respond only to gentle cooing, re-wetting and steady hands. With some effort, I controlled my emotions and somehow got the damn thing to adhere so I had some semblance of vision before I galloped down the path to the barn.

    My first stop was to get the keys from the tack box, where they'd been stowed for safe keeping. The Tahoe isn't always here, but since one of our customers goes on frequent vacations, she kindly allows us to use it when she's away should we need to hook it to her trailer in an emergency, or just to go on a field trip with the horses. Keys in hand,  I ran out of the barn, like a Kenyan marathon runner and jumped into the driver's seat, just as Bud was spotted, stalking around the corner of the rolloff truck, arms stiffly at his side, hands clenched in fists of pure iron.  Meekly, I waved and he looked at the ground ( I think he was counting to ten, no doubt a tactic he's learned over his anger riddled years to keep himself from losing his shit and committing unwarranted murders). The new dumpster was already dropped into place in the driveway, blocking me from getting the Tahoe onto the other side of the barn, but I quickly maneuvered the SUV over toward the stable and safely out of the way. Bud gave me a terse wave and with some effort barked, "That's good".  He was still looking at the ground.
   I sat in the driver's seat for a moment, adrenaline coursing through my newly woken up body, absorbing the fact that I'd come within seconds of certain death.  Crisis had been averted. A narrow escape. I would live to see another day. Of course, I'm exaggerating, but it makes for a better story. Humor me.

  Once our month worth of horse shit had been hauled off, and the horses had been fed, I headed back up to the house to feed the wailing pets, make some tea and prepare to waste an hour on Facebook (it's my day off, not my normal practice. Again, humor me). As I settled into my desk chair, steaming cuppa tea in hand, I noticed that the answering machine was blinking. When I pressed play I heard  breathing. Labored, intense breathing. Angry breathing. I checked the caller ID and it was Bud's number. Apparently, he'd been calling the house number just as I'd arrived to move the truck. I can only imagine what the message might have said if I'd been 20 seconds later. It would've been delivered through clenched teeth, in a high strained voice, with veins pulsing in unprecedented rage. I'm almost sad that I missed it. But then again, I'm not. Bud the rolloff driver is a force to be reckoned with, he's a bad hombre. When you run a stable with a manure dumpster, you don't mess with the irritable man who takes the shit brimming dumpster away.  It's just bad form. Horseshit is a fact of our lives here and trust me, you do not want to piss off our rolloff truck driver, who hauls it away. I dodged a bullet, people. It was a good day.