Wednesday, February 28, 2024

From Wine to Music to Colonoscopies to Wild Rumpuses

Our barn room has continued to evolve. We have entertained friends in it twice now. The first get-together was for wine and appetizers. We called that it’s christening, and shared a bottle of Cayuse Syrah we had been saving. 

The second was a surprise visit from old friends who just wanted to stop by and catch up. They brought a feast from Jimmy Johns, along with cheesecake and many other snacks. They loved being out in the barn. It’s quirky, we are. 

The most drastic evolution, however, was into a music room

It started with the flute, but was soon followed by one of my guitars. 

Shortly after that, I found the PERFECT spot for my electronic Kawai. Presto Musico. 

But it’s not all fun and games around here. Yesterday, I had a colonoscopy. 

If you haven’t had one, you probably think the actual colonoscopy is the worst part. 

It is not. (Though I am thankful, finally, for masks, as my attending physician wore one, and I hope to never recognize him in public.)

No, the hard part is what they call the prep

I’ll tell you what, that is a lot of work to get a procedure you already dread. Several times I almost quit, but by the end of the night, having starved all day and forced down 64 ounces of something like a laxative, I was committed. 

The next morning I woke at 5 am, forced down another 64 ounces before 7 am, and then waited. Lucky me, I didn’t have to wait long, because the office called early that morning, after having received TWO cancellations (no surprise, since I had been tempted to do the same myself) and hoped I’d come in early. 

Sure thing, because I was tired and hungry!

The rest was a cakewalk. (keyword: cake) I got the best 15 minutes of sleep in my life, and don’t remember one damn thing. 

I feel like I deserve a trophy. 

The day before the colonoscopy, I opened my eyes to find NO horses. 

My bed overlooks the turnout, and the first thing I see every morning is my horses. But not that morning. 

I told my husband it was strange. He was like, nah, it’s fine. 

But you know me, I’m a worry wart. 

I got out of bed and walked to the window, where I could get a better view of the barn and pasture, and there it was: Cowgirl was standing outside of the fence, near an open gate. They were all gone!

Five alarm fire, folks. 

Let me just say, there is a reason that we fence AND cross fence.

There had been a windstorm the night before and my husband had left the breezeway doors open so that the wind would blow through and not damage them. (In hindsight, not the best call.) Well, no surprise, the horses made their way into the barn where the hay and grain were stored. The barn remodel got a different sort of christening that night.

Oddly enough, and I suspect it was due to the enforcer, Beautiful Girl, the grain was barely eaten. Between 7 horses, only 1/4 a bag of whole oats was gone. There was the possibility only one horse had indulged, but that was unlikely, since no one was colicky at the after-party.

I traced their tracks, clear evidence of their adventures, left in actual hoof prints and manure piles, and they had made it all the way to the front gate by the road. They had also spent some time in the arena. 

It was a veritable wild rumpus.

When we got out there, they happily obliged to go back into their turnout.  (Irrefutable evidence they’d been out all night.)

I observed them for the rest of the day, and they were content lying in the sun, mutual grooming, drinking water, slowly, from the trough with a dreamy look in their eyes. They were quite proud of themselves.

Like I was, when I successfully completed the colonoscopy.

Though my reward was not a trophy, it was the choice of a meal, which come to think of it, was better than a trophy.

Those last friends who stopped by to see us in our barn room have a saying, and I’m pretty sure they invented it: Go big or go home!

The feast they brought that day was a massive sampling of Jimmy John's wraps. We'd never had anything from Jimmy John's, but they got us addicted...or at least, they got me addicted.

My first meal, post-fasting, was a Jimmy John’s chicken Caesar wrap. Woot! Woot!

Oh, and I didn't lose 3 pounds, like the pre-op nurse promised, hoping to entice me to follow through. (My body is rebellious, and doesn't work like that. It was like, why are you being so mean?)

What enticed me is that a colonoscopy is a great preventative procedure. I am told that 10% of polyps will progress to cancerous, but they are easily removed, if found, during a routine colonoscopy. 

In all seriousness, that is my reward.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

All's Well That Ends Well

Epona is back to normal. She was still stocked up yesterday, but there wasn't any heat in it, so I let her stay out with the herd and today her leg is back to normal.

I haven't seen her lay back down in the loafing shed, but it is safe for her now, when she's ready  

It has made me think about our travel plans and how to prepare for emergencies like what happened to Epona, should we be away when they happen. I'm going to call my vet and see if there is a company that specializes in extractions or difficult situations. 

You probably all remember that my former horse, Cowboy, was an orphan foal. We were told that his mother got her head stuck in a feeder and broke her neck when he was one month old. You just never know what might happen.

Winter sure slows us down and pushes us into new adventures. On our way home from Sedona, I watched a free movie on the plane, Anchorman. It was very stupid, and I slept through most of it, but there was a part where he plays the flute like a crazy man and shoots flames out of the end. I had been a flute player, a flautist, from 4th grade to 12th grade. It was just band, but the foundation never went away. When we got home, one of our granddaughters had come up for the weekend, and she was playing her flute, then the piano, then her flute, then the piano. I thought to myself that I had put too much time and effort into the flute to never play it again. So, I bought a new one. My fingering is still good, but I sound awful in the high registers. It's going to take a bit to get it back.

I'm trying out a subscription to the website Tom Play. It has sheet music for almost any instrument, and it scrolls through the music, while also playing an accompaniment. It's really fun, especially since a flute is such a lonely, yet melodious instrument. Playing in band all those years was collaborative and fun, but playing alone doesn't have the same bang. Plus, you just learn faster playing with others, or an accompaniment. I think I can also use it for piano and guitar.

I think I wrote last year about my interest in Ash Wednesday. My dad went into hospice on 2/22/22, Ash Wednesday. That was the last day we ever spoke to him again. He passed on 3/2/22, which was the date for Ash Wednesday 2023. 3/2/23. Well, at the time we looked ahead and saw that in 2024, Ash Wednesday would fall on my daughter's birthday. It seemed so long away, and her life was so positive and shiny, but it did concern me. 

Fast forward and, indeed, she has gone through something a lot like a death process since June. Was it some kind of foreshadowing from the heavens? Something that predates time, because it’s not bound by time? A message? A warning?

I think so.

It was a reminder about how everything is connected. I don't know how. I don't know why, but it is.

When we were in Sedona and attended mass at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Father Ignatius Mazanowski gave a homily that included, among other things, the topic of bitterness and forgiveness. He had also written a book on the topic, which I purchased before I left.

It has been of great interest to me, and the spiritual gift that I'm seeking during Lent is forgiveness.

Not the kind that says, I forgive you, but should you die of natural causes, I won't be sad, and in fact, it would be karma. 

No, I'm seeking the kind that says, I don't have any right to judge you. I am no better than you, and maybe even worse. People don't choose to blow up their lives and hurt other people unless they are hurting. They might be wounded and suffering in ways that we never know on this earth, but only in some other realm, a place beyond bitterness and losing. But it doesn't matter, because I am not meant to stand judge over anyone else. 

That’s the kind of forgiveness I seek. The only true kind. Anything less is not forgiveness at all. And the closer I get to this great gift of forgiveness, the freer I feel. 

What it comes down to is that we really have no other choice except to experience the sadness, let time heal our hearts, know that some things are beyond our understanding, and embrace the joy and wonder that comes from rebuilding what is broken. 

My son was over on Friday, with his family, and he asked me what I'm giving up for Lent. We're not Catholic, so I was surprised he wanted to honor it. We spoke about what it means to us, and then we each decided to give something up for the next 40 days. We're not giving up the same thing, but what we felt was appropriate for each of our lives.

Lent Season: February 14, 2024-March 28, 2024

Happy Lent'ing!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

An Unexpected Horrifying Situation

After my post on bubble wrapping horses, we had a major scare, Epona got stuck in the bottom bars of a divider. The divider is in our outside loafing shed, and the bars aren't set all that wide between, but she somehow managed to get half of her body, up to her belly, into it.  That particular divider is set permanently into the structure. It's the way it was designed....I'll backtrack.

First, our horse turnout is directly behind our house and we have a view of the horses from all the back windows. We can see them when we’re in the kitchen, dining room, living room, office, and bedroom. If they're in the front pasture, we can see them from several places as well, but the turnout was designed to be directly in front of the majority of the windows. Also, the way we set the loafing shed, we can see into it, too, from the windows, though it is a ways off, and you can’t see precisely what’s happening.

Yesterday morning I was mostly watching Tumbleweed because he was lying down in the sun on the wasted grass from the round bale. Foxy left to go to the pasture and he stayed there sleeping. My brain went, ahem, why isn't he getting up?

A few minutes later, he was up and by the loafing shed, where I'd been watching Beautiful Girl discipline Epona, then Epona run to her mama in another loafing shed.

Soon, Tweed was lying down in the sun, but this time, in the loafing shed. Cowgirl was standing in another stall, next to him, with Epona asleep at her feet. 

Again, I wondered why Tweed was sleeping, and determined to keep watching, just in case  

About ten minutes went by, and I saw Tweed get up, then sniff around Epona's head. Her head didn't go up. she in deep sleep? Then, I saw Cowgirl leave the stall and still Epona lay I'm getting worried. When Cowgirl left the stall, Tweed entered it, and started sniffing around Epona's body, still no movement from Epona.

By then I was dressed and ready to go out with my daughter and grandson for her birthday lunch. We were almost out the door when I saw Tumbleweed sniffing Epona. I told my daughter I was afraid something was wrong with Epona, because she wasn't moving. My daughter reassured me that she was just enjoying a nap in the sun. However, worry wart that I am, I decided to change coats, boots, etc, and run out to the barn. I told her to wait up a minute and I'd be right back.


When I got closer to Epona, she still wasn't raising her head when I called out her name (very unusual for her.) I knew something was wrong. 

When I got almost right up to her, I saw that she had wedged herself into the bottom bars of a divider. She had somehow gotten her front legs, neck & head, and half her torso, up to the fat part of her belly, between the two bottom bars. In all our years of owning horses and horse panels, we have never had anything like that happen.

I think my adrenalin spiked, however, my demeanor became oddly calm with the acute understanding that it was a life or death situation for Epona. 

Her eyes were somewhat in shock and, thankfully, she was very still. It looked like she had tried to get out, and dug some of the dirt around her. I surveyed the situation and quickly saw that the divider was rock solid in the structure. She was also too heavy for us to pull out. There were not going to be many choices, and time was of the essence.

I made a phone call to my husband, but all I could say was, "something very bad is happening out here. Please come help me." He kept asking me what, and I kept responding, "something very bad." Eventually, I spit it out. "Epona is stuck in the bars of a divider." 

In retrospect, I think the reason I didn't spit it out at first is because I knew it sounded like no big deal. Stuck in the bars? So what? Move her feet. Turn her over.

But it wasn't like that. It was a very big deal.

He understood it was a big deal and hurried to our aid. When he arrived he had the same assessment I did, but a different plan. My plan was to saw the bars off. His plan was to get the tractor, tie her back legs, and pull her out.

We tried my plan first, but as he figured would happen, when he started to cut the bars, she overreacted and put herself in more danger. We aborted that plan immediately and he went to get the tractor.

When the tractor arrived, Cowgirl ran off. (Bad mama) Epona tried, again, to get up, which was impossible. Then she lay back down. My hopes for a successful extraction were getting lower by the second.

Well, I will tell you this, I was right to be pessimistic and it wasn't easy, several times we almost quit, but with me holding her head down and working with her front legs, and him tying her and pulling her gently, little by little, we were able to free her and, though she was still in a bit of shock, she was able to walk off with her mama. When she stood still, she was favoring the leg that had been pinned underneath her body, which I chalked up to having gone numb. And, in fact, as she walked it off, that seemed to get better.

Cowgirl was very protective of her throughout the entire experience, and she gently pushed her to keep walking, while also warning the other horses to stay away from her. Epona would come back to the scene of the crime and sniff, as if she was trying to learn what she'd done wrong. She would come to me for comfort, but then walk off, rather than allowing me to pet her. 

After observing her for a while, and seeing that she was going to survive (at least the initial part of our plan) the adrenalin came crashing down on me like a heart attack. That's an amazing process--adrenalin. It marshals every mental and physical resource, but when you're to safety, and no longer in need of it, it is an overwhelming physical pressure. 

Anyway, fast forward the rest of the day, she was moving around like normal, eating, pooping, no swelling.  However, I put her in a stall last night with some Bute so that I could observe her and so that she wouldn't go back and get stuck in the divider again. As soon as we can, we're going to attach plywood to the bottom of the dividers, but that will have to wait until this weekend.

Today, she is moving around well and still pooping and eating, but there is some stocking up where her legs were tied. I've Buted her again, and will probably let her out soon. Although, there has been a severe weather change from the sunshine of yesterday to a near blizzard today. 

I am once again left in this position of choosing the lesser of two evils: in or out. She needs to be out moving, but in a blizzard?

Looking back, I am incredibly thankful to myself for being such a worry wart, and for my husband, for being such an able-bodied fixer of catastrophes. I am also thankful for the miracle of her still being alive. Didn't I just say I was closing the door on death? I guess that's not up to us, is it? Death will find us anyway. I suppose the universe wants something different from me. Perhaps, a different understanding of what death (and all loss) means, and how to live in a world so deeply affected by it, so profoundly at its mercy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Everywhere, Sanctuary

This has been the most mild winter I can remember, and I made a decision to leave the horses out as much as possible. They have round bales and loafing sheds, and I thought it was best to have them learn to navigate the mud and ice, rather than lock them in. 

There was one year where I locked Tumbleweed and the others in and then we ended up with weeks of ice that kept me from allowing them turnout. I felt like part of him becoming a more sure-footed, grownup horse this year was allowing him more time out with the herd, even when there was ice. They make paths and learn to navigate them.

Being out more was new for Epona, too, but her former baby/mama stall had a larger turnout pen attached which allowed her to practice running around on ice and mud. She even slipped and injured herself once running around on it, but had a quick recovery and learned a lesson.

Anyway, I felt it was important to take the bubble wrap off for both of them, and they have survived.

We can see the light at the end up the tunnel.

Speaking of light, we made a trip to Sedona for my mom's 80th birthday. It is somewhere she has always wanted to go. 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, Sedona was inundated with rain and snow the entire time we were there. 

If there was a bright side it was that we got to see the Red Rocks in snow, something I've always missed seeing. It also meant less crowds.

We have another, longer, trip to Sedona planned in April. We will be spending my birthday there and getting in a lot of hikes and sunshine. 

Sedona is my happy place.

The last day of our trip, we had the entire day to kill before our plane took off. My daughter had been wanting to go to a store called Rancher Hat Bar in Old Town Scottsdale. You choose your hat, and then a designer helps you put together the bling and brands of your choice.

A little side note: We have been going to Scottsdale, AZ for decades and I just can't believe how much it has changed. It was once such a quaint little westerny town, but now it's part of Phoenix with the "Old Town" preserved in the middle. Sigh. Time changes everything.

Anyway, as you can see, there are many colors to choose from. I didn't do one. I just watched. But if I had done one, I think I'd have chosen the green.

It is a hopping place, and can be very, very busy, but my daughter loved her finished product.

Now, we're home and I'm back in my Sanctuary with Tuffy.

I came back from Sedona with a renewed commitment to self-care and training for the April hikes. More yoga, music, walks, healthier foods, hydration, horses, and HEART.

While in Sedona, we attended a mass at the Chapel of the Holy Cross and his message was about our hearts. Basically, what can't corrupt them (food, drinks, etc), and what can (bad thoughts).

It got me thinking about the last year, and I realized it is time to grasp the future and put death behind me.

Where there was sadness and loss, I hope for joy and renewed abundance.

Though this room is my sanctuary, sanctuary is also something we should carry with us everywhere we go.

Always, a place of peace. Everywhere a Sedona. Everywhere a sanctuary.