Archive for December 2015
Yes, it really has been a rough week. Christmas Day my husband Billy went into the hospital with congestive heart failure. He’d been feeling ill for a long time, but his generation (he’s 82) hates to admit anything is wrong. When he finally did consent to go in to Urgent Care, it was almost too late.
They are really good there, and immediately put him on massive doses of diuretic. In a few days, he lost over 30 pounds, all in retained water. His feet had looked like water balloons; now they look like real feet.
The problem was that his heart was not beating fast enough to circulate his blood properly. In addition, he was very anemic and generally run-down. They pumped him full of vitamins and iron, in addition to heart medication and insulin for his diabetes. Day before yesterday, when he was strong enough, they installed a pacemaker. Yesterday, they let him come home.
He’s doing very well — he’s working on the books right now — and it’s my job to see that he takes all of his pills and doesn’t lift his pacemaker side arm too high. There’s not much danger of that; he hasn’t been able to lift his arm over his head for years. The assistant in the pacemaker operation said that when he looked at the x-rays, he was astonished that he could use the arm at all. The arm bone is kind of hanging there, not really connected to the shoulder at all.
So . . . now he’s survived colon cancer (he’s had a colostomy bag for about twelve years now), melanoma, diabetes, heart failure, a fractured vertebra, an arm broken twice, a cracked pelvis, and assorted concussions. And that’s just what I know about. Most of it comes from being an old cowboy; the injuries are very typical of a life with horses.
He’s still hanging in there, and we all hope that he continues to do that for a long time to come. He’s the type of man that’s hard to find any more. In forty-five years of marriage, I’ve never known him to do anything mean, petty, or dishonest. He’s never broken a promise, or left a debt unpaid. His word is his bond.
And he puts up with my housekeeping . . . or lack thereof.
I hope to get back to regular blogging soon, but needless to say, I’m sticking pretty close to the house right now.
Everyone was excited yesterday to see there was actual water in our part of the Kern River. It was moving fairly fast, and carrying a burden of tumbleweeds and trash.
It was pretty much gone by today, but Peaches and I walked down to look at the mud.
Peaches, being a retriever, was pretty excited. She got even more excited when she discovered there was some water left.
I mean, really excited.
She galloped through the water in circles for several minutes, before I got chilly watching her and we went back to the house. She was pretty dry by the time we got there, with only a little sand on her paws, but she still managed to track some of it in.
We’re really hoping that this is a sign of things to come.
Everyone noticed the smoke rising up from the river yesterday. It was hard to miss; there was quite a bit of it, it was white, and it was coming from the big island in the middle of the river. It was pretty obviously from a homeless camp. Everything is so damp out there by now that it was not going to go anywhere, so we shrugged and went about our business. Sure enough, in a little while, the smoke had disappeared.
A while after that, though, in pulled a large fire truck. Horses don’t really like large fire trucks, but it got through the yard without any big problems, and parked down by the round pen. Someone had seen the smoke and called it in.
Though there wasn’t much to be seen from the riverbank, someone was able to show them where the fire had been. A log was still smouldering, so they packed up their chain saws and headed in.
After taking care of it, they packed up and headed out. We hear that they were back again today; someone had reported a fire under the bridge. As chilly as it has been, there are bound to be transients building warming fires. There’s certainly lots of dead wood for them to burn. There shouldn’t be any real danger now, but it’s probably a good thing for the firefighters to check it out.
We got a little more rain last night, but it was a warmer storm. Between the warmer weather and damp wood, maybe we won’t have any more alarms for a while.
I guess it’s true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Certainly, not many people would find these pictures beautiful.
If you’ve been in a five-year drought, as we have, these are truly beautiful. Puddles! Big puddles! Muddy and brown, but real wet water!
We had a good rain last night, about a quarter of an inch. It was wonderful to sit under our cozy electric throws and listen to the rain on the roof. We were a little surprised, though, to look out of the window just before we went to bed and see — nothing. The fog had come in that quickly.
It was still foggy this morning, but it has burned off and revealed a nice but chilly day. The best part of it is the weather prediction; it’s supposed to rain again Monday night, and again on Christmas. They’re predicting a white Christmas . . . in the mountains, that is. At least we’ll be able to look up and see the snow, if it really arrives.
The drought’s not broken, by any means, but it’s at least a start.
We got a new backhoe yesterday, and it’s a beauty. The backhoe is one of the three most important pieces of equipment around here, the others being the hay squeeze and the John Deere with the big front bucket. When the old backhoe died (a victim of old age) it was important to get a new one. I drew out a bunch of money from savings, and son David went off to a heavy equipment auction. Here are the results.
Isn’t she a beauty? I think I’ll call her Casey.
No, she’s not really a Christmas present, but it makes a good story. I used it on a little teller at the bank, and she said, “What’s a backhoe?” I used it later, on another teller — I had to draw out a little more money — and she said . . . you guessed it. “What’s a backhoe?” Well, it’s kind of a big tractor, and it’s usually got a front bucket, and this big jointed thingie on the back that they call a hoe, and . . . forget it.
It did a lot of running around today, because there were water lines gushing everywhere. It was cold last night, and a lot of plugs popped out of their pipes. That’s what they’re for — it’s better than having pipe split — but it makes a lot of work.
There was plenty of frost, and it looked lovely edging the fallen leaves.
The rabbit droppings in the background — not so much.
It’s been a busy month; I guess that’s true for nearly everyone in December. I haven’t gotten much blogging done, but hope to do better. Here’s a report on the rain of a few days ago . Frankly, it wasn’t much.
We got enough to make the fallen leaves glisten . . .
And leave raindrops on roses . . .
And make strawberry whipped cream clouds.
Right now, it looks like the predicted rain is moving in. We’re hoping for a little more this time.
A few days ago, we lost Lori B.’s grand horse Gambler to a neurological condition — apparently complications from Cushing’s disease. He was only nineteen, and should have had many years ahead of him. I’ve got some pictures, and she’s sent me some more; I hope to do a sort of elegy for him in the next day or two. It’s always hard to lose a good horse . . .
The crew is getting ready to break up the old trailer that Billy’s mother, Irma, once lived in. They’ve already salvaged the aluminum from the outside, and are getting it ready for its final journey. It’s looked better . . .
It’s a 1951 model; Billy remembers buying it in 1955. Irma lived in it until he bought her a mobile home; then it moved behind the other mobile home for his sons to live in. Over the years, it’s been home to feed, tack, and drop calves. It was a nice little trailer at one time, though. It had some nice cabinetry . . .
A tiny little bathroom . . .
And even a typewriter.
It’s headed on that last journey soon . . .
Although parts of it will live on. Someone who was restoring one like it came by and salvaged the window frames and other parts. The frame and wheels went under a flatbed trailer that is currently loaded with pipe. It’s had a long and useful life . . . I hope I’ll be able to say the same.
But I really hope I’ll look a little better.