Thursday, December 31, 2015

Molar Madness

     True to my word,  I bravely made myself a dentist appointment.  The only time they could offer me was for 8 o'clock this morning.  What a gross time to go to the dentist. Up and at 'em by 7:15, I shook off the morning grog, gulped down coffee and mouthwash, put on semi nice clothes, plus shoes without manure on them, and off I went to solve the mystery of my upset molar.

   This was my first time at South Aiken Dental.  Upon arrival I was given the usual forms to fill out in the gently lit waiting room.  After a short wait I was summoned to enter the hallway by a squat woman in her 30's, who informed me that her name was Tina, and I was to follow her.  Tina sat me down in a chair, and I began to fill her in on my dental history, which is long and detailed.  I've had a significant amount of dental work, from implants, to bridges, crowns, root canals, fillings, you name it.  I have two implants that are still patiently waiting for implant crowns, which Tina nicely pointed out that they could do that work for me.  I felt like saying, "Great news! Do you want to front me the 3.5k that'll cost to get the work done? "  First bristle of irritation.

  Tina proceeded to take her tiny mirror and explore my upper and lower teeth.

"Hmmm, them two are a bridge," said Tina.  "That ain't a problem."

My eyes popped wide open. Immediately, in my head I repeated "them two" "ain't"????  Seriously???  How about some attention to proper grammar to project a modicum of confidence in your professional skills???  If the lady at the convenience store uses improper grammar it's not a red flag, but the dentist office?  I began to feel uncomfortable.

"Ima need to take an x-ray now, Mizz Edel," said Tina with a pinched smile on her pudgy face.

    I held my cool while she wedged an x-ray plate the size of a notebook in my mouth.  The first one she took was too dark so I was fortunate enough to repeat the procedure.  Well, there it was in black and white.  The tooth that was bothering me has already had a root canal, as well as the one in front of it.  Gee, so glad I spent 1k to save that little bugger only to have it fail me now.

  Tina turned to face me with her serious dental person face on.

"Do you brush and floss?" she said in a pandering tone, like she was talking to a 6 yr. old.
"Of course, I do!" I said indignantly.  Who doesn't brush their teeth?? Gross!

"Do you know why your teeth have had so many problems? How's your diet?" She leaned down closer to my face for my answers.

I stared blankly at her heavily made up eyes. My mind began to whiz.  Do I know why my teeth are so crummy? Uh, I think it's called genetics?  Just like some people have kidney issues, or arthritis.  I have bad teeth.  And my diet?? I took a deep breath and fought back the urge to tell her that I sustain myself with crystal meth, cotton candy and Coca-cola. Instead, I smiled sweetly, batted my eyelashes and said:

"My teeth have had many issues,  none due to lack of proper hygiene, or attention.  I was born with bad teeth.  {I added You Dumb Bitch, but only in my head, cuz I was raised properly}  And as for my diet I stay away from junk food, I don't drink soda, or eat many sweets. It's not like I've had all of this dental work, because I find it so enjoyable."

     I mean, I'm 5'8 and about 125 lbs. I do not look like an unhealthy person.  I let my eyes peruse her figure to let her know that I was taking note of her fat gut and thighs which clearly indicated she visited the drive thru more than a few times per week.  Gee, how's your DIET, Tina???  Can you say GLUTTONOUS?

  On that note, she took her leave so I could have a private consultation with the actual dentist, Dr. Miranda.  He was a baby faced, little Spanish fellow, very polite, and I appreciated the confidence in his voice while he spelled out a few options for me.  Turns out an endodontist might be able to save my tooth, but if not he could extract the damn thing.

  The best part of the whole experience was paying the bill. I had received a coupon in the mail from this place that offered a $1 emergency consultation. I know, right??!!!  You can't use the bathroom at the dentist for less than $50.  I could've complained about Tina's bedside manner, but if these people are going to pull my tooth I don't want any behind the scenes scuttlebutt about me being a whiny bitch.  Better to just keep quiet and hope that Tina's Big Mac gives her heartburn this afternoon.

Have a nice day, y'all!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Deep thoughts from a shallow well

   Have you ever met someone who annoys you just by the very sight of them?  One minute you're in a good mood, thinking happy thoughts and then you spot him/her and it's like a switch is flipped.  Your eyes become narrow slits, lips tighten and your mood goes dark.  You begin to pray that they don't come over and talk to you, but they always do.  People like this are akin to cats who sense the non cat person in the room and then proceed to rub all over them, until they are shooed away.

   I have one of the above mentioned people in my life.  I'm a fairly tolerant person, but I have a low capacity when it comes to listening to someone brag about themselves.  It really grinds my gears.  This person really, truly has no cause to brag, but they do...shamelessly, incessantly and mercilessly. When it starts up  I end up clenching my teeth so tightly I fear they may crack. Because I'm a terrible actor I cannot even remotely pretend to be supportive of the brags that bubble forth from this person's maw.   Usually, I mumble something like, "how nice", or  "good for you" then I hurry off before I punch them in the throat.  I'm trying to be positive about this person appearing in my life as an opportunity for me to grow and become more tolerant and accepting,  less judgy.  But it's very, very difficult.  I've come close to calling them out on the brag-a-thon's more than once, but each time I hold back not wanting to come off like a giant bitch.  I know myself.  If I react out of hostile emotion I will say things that aren't nice, and I don't want to be that person. I never want to hurt a person's feelings.  This person is a harmless soul and perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I need to let it go.  But it's very, very difficult.  We all know that bragging stems from insecurity.  I need to find some empathy for this person's insecurity issue.  Find a deeper understanding into what the bragging does for this person, not what listening to it does to me.  Can I do that? Any suggestions?  Most days I'm pretty sure I can manage to pull it off.  I'll just have to rearrange my schedule if PMS comes into the picture.  

  December has been kind of a shite month.  Jonathan's Dad had a quick, but serious bout with bronchitis that landed him in the hospital.  He's doing great now, thank goodness.  We had to say goodbye to lovely old Zeke, the 21 year old cat who was featured in the prior blog.  He was doing well and then one day he decided he didn't want to eat.  Our lovely vet friend gracefully assisted him over the Rainbow Bridge from the comfort of his window bed.  No scary last vet visit for my animals if I can help it.  I mean, we know he was incredibly old so his passing away wasn't a major shocker, but it still was very sad.  Jonathan made the comment that if he was our child he'd be graduating from college.  Cue:floods of tears.

  Also in Dec, my horse received a routine vaccine which gave him a terrible reaction so he was very muscle sore for about two weeks. That sucked (more for me than him, since he got good meds and no work).  Fortunately, he's fine now, but it's been raining like a SOB in Aiken for the last couple of weeks, which has made consistent training a challenge.

  Two weeks ago, one of my lower molars has decided to abscess.  I caught it in the nick of time with antibiotics, but that's not a perma fix.  It needs to be addressed by a dentist. I decided to give myself until after Christmas to have anything drastic done to it. It's now after Christmas, and I still haven't called for an appointment. I guess it's time to be a big girl and make the call.

  And last but not least, our car is having some sort of oil pressure issue. I'm waiting to hear what the report is from the fancy German car mechanic. Gulp.  I've done a lot of research on the problem so I know two things. It can be an easy fix, or it will be an expensive fix.  Fingers crossed here.

 All in all, I'm feeling good about the arrival of 2016.  We're really excited about all of the horses we're working with at the moment.  Our house has two rooms that are ready for color to go on the walls, to be followed by redoing the floors, which I happen to find very satisfying and fun.  It's a good time right now.  Life will always have blips and hiccups.  Sometimes it seems like enough is enough, but I try to look for balance.  Find something good that makes me happy, like making a video of Miles while I'm having a solo dance party (which I promise I'll stop posting those vids on FB).  I recently read a meme that said something like, "You don't live once, you die once".  It's important to be nice, do what makes you happy and the rest of it just sorts out somehow.  At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.  Time to go call that dentist...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Top Cat

Twenty one years ago we adopted a fluffy little grey and white cat. She was ever so feminine, with large green eyes and perfect pink lips, and I gave her the name Miss Girl.  Not long after she moved into our tack room Miss Girl began to expand in her mid-section.  Though a vet assured me that wasn't with child, one month later she gave birth to two tiny kittens.  Pictured above is "Big Zekie", one of those tiny kittens, now at age 21.  Much like his mother, Zeke has always been a hardy sort.  He spent his early years as a barn cat, with no rules.  He crossed the street, he roamed the fields, dodged coyotes, was picked up by a great horned owl and lived to tell the story.  The cat was always smart and knew how to stay alive.  When we closed our barn, Zeke became a house cat.  He learned quite quickly that sleeping on beds and couches was fairly wonderful.  He adjusted to the rules of staying in at night, with free rein to come and go during the day.  He endured four moves during our years of living in the northeast. Each time he'd survey the new domain, pick a comfortable spot to sleep, make sure he knew where the litter box and food bowls were located and that was that.  Two years ago he survived the trip from NY to SC, while in a crate with Miles in the the peak of a horse van.  And he came out of that with his usual aplomb.

  About a month ago I started to think that Zeke might be losing weight.  Well, he's old, I told myself. I know he won't last forever.  Then I noticed that he was losing hair.

"It's his thyroid," said my pet savvy older sister, Pam. "Go get him tested at the vet."

Off we went to the vet.  While in the examining room I heard the vet outside the door talking to the tech.

"The cat is 21??", he said.  "Wow."

  Zeke and I left the vet office with a bottle of pills meant to balance his thyroid levels.  Within a few days I began to see a difference.  His hair started growing in and he didn't look quite so gaunt.  Another thing began to change, too.  Giving Zeke the half pill every morning began to be progressively difficult.  At first he ate them in his food. His appetite was so voracious that he was unaware he was taking his medicine.  Then one day I noticed a little white sliver being left behind in his bowl.

"Bastard," I muttered, grabbing the slimy sliver and forcing it between his teeth. That went okay at first, though he didn't like it any more than I did.

"It's for your own good!", I'd yell, as Z clenched his jaws and pawed at my hands.  This went on for a couple of weeks, but at least he was getting his meds and looking so much better.  Then he started a new trick.  I'd walk away from one of our pill forcing sessions, feeling victorious that I'd properly medicated my old kitty, only to return and find the pill on the floor, or in his dish.  He'd apparently learned how to mimic swallowing it then spit it out, like a petulant child.

   My frustration level reached a crescendo yesterday morning. Zeke is now so much healthier from having a balanced thyroid that he can actually claw the crap out of me.  Basically, I have an ancient kitty that I can only medicate while he's sick. Once he's healthy, it's like trying to pill a crotchety, angry mountain lion. It's ridiculous.  I can manhandle a 1200 lb horse with no trouble, but this senile, deaf, nearly blind husk of a cat is beating the shit out of me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that Zeke is doing so well. He's rather miraculous to still be such a force at his advanced age, but there has to be an easier way.  After hearing me complain about it last night, Jonathan agreed to help me with the "pilling of Freddy Cougar".  We're going to start giving him the pill before his dinner this evening.  If no one hears from us for a few days, please send help.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

And we're off!

   A year ago Jonathan and I were hired by a racehorse training center to work in the barn taking care of the horses.  Jonathan ended up spending most of his time working out of the barn fixing fencing and repairing the long driveway with the Bobcat, a machine which he became very skilled at operating. I spent most of my time in the barn with the racehorses.  After a  full year, I can say that I don't care for looking after racehorses. They're all a bunch of nut jobs.  It's not their fault that they're nut jobs, because they're cooped up for 23 hours of the day, fed tons of high octane grain/vitamins, never turned out and the only time they do get to go out during the day is to gallop around the training track.  Handling them requires finesse, strategy, bravery and skill.  It's very easy to get hurt around horses, even quiet riding horses.  Young thoroughbred race horses are like ticking bombs. Anything can (and will) set them off.  Oh look, a bird! cue:rearing.  Oh, here comes a car down the driveway! cue:bolt sideways, then segue way into rearing. Oh, a big gust of wind! cue:hang the fuck on, because I'm going to go apeshit.  You get the message.  Either you learn quickly how to keep their feet on the ground and away from your body, or you get injured.  I've been lucky in that I've kept myself out of harms way, with the exception of one dislocated knuckle in my second week of working there due to a rearing fit from a spastic filly.  The one predictable thing about these youngsters is that you can never assume that they're going to behave.  I operate under the boy scouts motto in that I'm always prepared for a fit.  I've learned to tell them how good they are in a soft, gentle voice, and that a hand on their neck can keep the savage beast that lives within them at bay. I've also learned that not having a chain shank is a dumb idea.  It's not like you have to be rough with a chain over the nose, but having it there helps when the flying monkeys in their heads start buzzing around. Our time is now over at the race farm. It was a fine job and it helped keep us afloat while we established ourselves in a new area. Recently, we've been teaching and riding more, which feels much more like home. In order to move our own business forward it became clear that we needed to stop the morning hours spent at the race farm.  I could say that leaving will be bittersweet, but it's not.  With the exception of one person that we've worked with for the last several months and the two roosters (Comanche and Rupert), I'm not going to miss that place with its daily series of chores and the death defying antics of the Thoroughbred's.  We've met a lot of good people at this job and made some very good friends, so it wasn't all bad, but it sure feels good to be moving on!

Friday, June 12, 2015

An unexpected getaway

   Life presented an impromptu opportunity for us last week.  We were offered the chance to have two days off in a row!  IN A ROW!  That is a rare luxury in the horse business.  There is no such thing as TGIF when you work with horses, no weekends "off", more often it's no days off for weeks at a time. It was a special offer, one not to waste.  Jonathan suggested that we go to Savannah, do a little city time, then some beach time.  I weighed the options of staying home vs. going away.  I don't make split second decisions very well. I'm getting better with age, maybe by the time I'm 80 I can add spontaneous to my character traits, but not quite yet.  I pictured us staying home with me feeling guilty for not vacuuming, or writing, or paying bills and that did it.

"Yes! Let's go to Savannah!"

  Sunday morning we took to the road on a drive that drove us through the Savannah River Project, the super secret, supposedly defunct, hinky feeling nuclear facility that is buried deep in the SC wilderness.  It was a very pleasant meandering road, with little to see except for woods and open fields.  There were occasional residences and series of abandoned, dilapidated shacks and mobile homes, which is sadly common in SC.  Poverty and abundance are separated by very little in the south.  I always feel a little sad when we pass houses that are falling in, with masses of foliage growing all over the front yards, rusted cars and other detritus getting overtaken by vines with each passing day.  Who lived there? And why did they just leave it all?

But that's not what this blog is about, so back to the trip.

   Soon we were in sight of a giant, arching bridge that spanned the Savannah river itself.  The bridge is something to see, with it's mid section peaking sky high to allow for very large boats to pass under it.  Our GPS very nicely got us into town and since it was too early to check into our hotel we decided to hit the first stop on our tour,  Bonaventure Cemetery.   I realize a cemetery might not be an ideal place to visit while on vacation, but this cemetery is like no other I've ever been in.  The grave sites are decorated with all manner of ornate sculptured marble, crosses, huge angels, obelisks, large tombs, cherubs, all are beautiful.  Designed more like a park, people are encouraged to walk through the various sections, with certain grave sites being highlighted for various important historical figures.  There are gigantic live oaks everywhere, with copious amounts of lacy Spanish moss draping from their limbs adding to an air of solemn mystery.  A storm front crept in while we were there giving the atmosphere an ominous tone under a deep purple sky.  As the first rain drops fell, we took our cue and headed out.

   We located our hotel, the B Historic Hotel on the edge of downtown Savannah, and we were pleasantly surprised with it.  A wicked deal on Hotwire had landed us a room for almost half price which made us raise our eyebrows a little, but this was an authentic, clean, well appointed hotel. Big score for Hotwire!   When you visit Savannah the first thing you need to do is make sure that you're wearing comfortable shoes. It truly is a walking city and well worth the effort we made to walk the entire city.  There are squares every third block, or so, set up like mini parks, with tall shady trees, benches and well tended gardens.  We made sure to stop, sit and inhale the vibe more than once.  The residential sections of Savannah are just stunning.  The architecture is so beautiful, with stately Greek revival home fronts, hidden back gardens and secret alley ways.  Passing a bed and breakfast that was up for sale had us dreaming of running a B & B for all of ten minutes, until I looked up the price and at $1 million bucks that'd be a lot of waffles to make before we saw any return.  Maybe it's because we were away from real life for the first time in a long time, but Savannah seemed to be wooing us as a couple.  It's urbane enough, without the actual grit of a bigger city, while maintaining a quaint, historical aspect that is reminiscent of the small New England towns we grew up in.  Jonathan has always said how much he loves this city, and now I can say the same.  A lazy early evening walk on the busy Savannah river showed us the tourist and local color.  Another chance to have a seat and soak it in.  A delicious dinner at a tapas based restaurant and a last stroll in dusky light ended our day.

   After a restful night, we awoke the next morning and promptly headed off to Tybee Island, approximately 25 minutes from our hotel.  Once we were in the car I began to whine about getting coffee,  but Jonathan adopted a "Dad" approach and told me I'd just have to wait till we got there.  I'm not one who does well in the morning without my first cup of dark brown brew, so my mood was less than cheery for the entire drive.  A stop at a seedy diner buoyed my spirits with a styrofoam cup to go, and in no time we were parked at the beach.  A breeze off of the ocean seasoned the air and kept us cool under the bright June sun.  The beach was expansive, but not overly populated. Still we got in some excellent people watching, particularly from a rather squat woman in her mid 30's I'd guess, who stood talking non stop to an older woman seated beneath a vibrant blue umbrella. Her topics were wide and varied, from recipes, to Boy Scout trips, to various past vacations, which included restaurants and menus and who had ordered what.  Her attention to detail was riveting and Jonathan and I kept bursting into giggles at the absurdity of it all.  For me half of the fun of the beach is observing our fellow beachcombers.  The various body styles and bathing suits, from the magnificent to the cringe worthy all mingle together in one unabashed group just there to have a good time and enjoy the experience. I absolutely love it.

   After about two hours of enjoying the surf and sand, we decided it was time to head back to Aiken. I looked wistfully over my shoulder for a last glance at the ocean as I exited the boardwalk.  It might've been one of the shortest vacations we've ever taken, but it certainly was one of the very best.