Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In which she is too unwell to go on

I was awoken at 5 AM by the delightful sound of a dog barfing.  I got that sorted out, and then an hour later the second one started.  Not sure what Beauty's issue was, but the Schnork had a hairball.  Seriously.

Beauty was fine and ate breakfast and was normal.  The Schnork, however, is far too dramatic for that.  She whined.  She moaned.  She demanded to be picked up and held because she was so, so sick.

The drama queen

Last night I was writing this month's speech, and I had cause to look up Pat Harris' introduction to sheath cleaning.  It's too good not to share:

Step 1) Check to make sure there are no prospective boyfriends, girlfriends, elderly neighbors, or Brownie troops with a line of sight to the proceedings. Though of course they're probably going to show up unexpectedly ANYWAY once you're in the middle of things. Prepare a good explanation.

2) Trim your fingernails short. Assemble horse, hose, and your sense of humor (plus, ideally, Excalibur cleanser and perhaps thin rubber gloves).

3) Use hose (or damp sponge) to get the sheath and its inhabitant wet. Uh, that is, do this in a *civilized* fashion with due warning to the horse; he is apt to take offense if an icy-cold hose blasts unexpectedly into his personal regions  

4) Now introduce your horse to Mr. Hand <g>. What I find safest is to stand facing the horse's head, with my shoulder and hip snugly against the horse's thigh and hip so that if he makes any suspicious move such as raising his leg, I can feel it right away and am in any case pressed so close that all he can do is shove, not really kick. The horse should be held by an assistant or by your free hand, NOT tied fast to a post or to crossties. He may shift around a good bit if he's not happy with Mr. Hand's antics, but don't be put off by that; as long as you are patient and gradual, and stick close to his side, he'll get over it.
Remember that it would be most unladylike of you to simply make a direct grab for your horse's Part. Give the horse a clue about what's on the program. Rest your hand against his belly, and then slide it back until you are entering The Home of the Actual Private Part. When you reach this first region of your destination, lube him up good with Excalibur or whatever you're using. If the outer part of his sheath is really grungy you will feel little clods and nubblies of smegma peeling off as you grope around in there. Patiently and gently expedite their removal.

5) Thus far, you have probably only been in the outer part of the sheath. The Part Itself, you'll have noticed, is strangely absent. That's because it has retired shyly to its inner chambers. Roll up them thar sleeves and follow in after it 

6) As you and Mr. Hand wend your way deeper into the sheath, you will encounter what feels like a small portal that opens up into a chamber beyond. Being attentive to your horse's reaction, invite yourself in <vbg>. You are now in the inner sanctum of The Actual Private Part. It's hiding in there towards the back, trying to pretend it isn't there. Say hi and wave to it <vbg>.
No, really, work your finger back and forth around the sides of it. If the horse won't drop, this is your only shot at removing whatever dried smegma is clinging to the surface of the Part itself. So, gently explore around it, pulling out whatever crusty topsoil you find there. Use more water and more Excalibur if necessary to loosen attached gunk.

7) When Mr. Hand and the Actual Private Part have gotten to know each other pretty well, and the Part feels squeaky clean all around, there remains only one task: checking for, and removing, the bean. The bean is a pale, kidney - shaped accumulation of smegma in a small pouch just inside the urethra. Not all horses accumulate a bean, but in my opinion the majority do, even if they have no visible external smegma. 
So: the equine urethra is fairly large diameter, and indeed will permit you to very gently insinuate one of your slimmer fingers inside the urethral opening. Do so, and explore upwards for what will feel like a lump or "pea" buried no more than perhaps 3/4" in from the opening. If you do encounter a bean, gently and sympathetically persuade it out with your finger. This may require a little patience from BOTH Mr. Hand AND the horse, but the horse will be happier and healthier once it's accomplished. In the rare event that the bean is too enormous for your finger to coax out, you might try what I did (in desperation) last month on the orange horse: Wrap thumb and index finger around the end of the Part and squeeze firmly to extrude the bean. Much to my surprise it worked and orange horse did NOT kill me for doing it and he does not seem to have suffered any permanent damage as a result ;-> I have never in my life seen another bean that enormous, though.

8) Now all that's left to do is make a graceful exit and rinse the area very thoroughly in apology for the liberties you've taken <vbg>. A hose will be MUCH easier to use here than just a sponge and bucket, in my opinion. Make sure to direct the water into the Part's inner retreat too, not merely the outer part of the sheath. This may require you to enfold the end of the hose in your hand and guide it up there personally.

9) Ta-da, you are done! Say, "Good horsie" and feed him lots of carrots. Watch him make funny faces at the way your hands smell. Hmm. Well, perhaps there is ONE more step...

10) The only thing I know of that is at all effective in removing the lovely fragrance of smegma from your hands (fingernails, arms, elbows and wherever else it's gotten) is Excalibur. Even then, if you didn't use gloves you may find you've got an unusual personal perfume for a while. So, word to the wise, do NOT clean your horse's sheath just before an important job interview or first date and of course, there is that one FINAL step...

11) Figure out how to explain all this to your mother (or the kid from next door, or the meter reader, or whoever else you've just realized has been standing in the barn doorway speechlessly watching the entire process. <vbg>)
Now, go thou forth and clean that Part :-

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Plans that didn't happen

Today was a lost, do-nothing day.  It didn't start out that way.  I had many plans.  First, get up at 6.  Meet DeLee at 7.  Go hiking out at Rosaryville, then get cleaned up and head out to Annapolis Mall.  Get some lunch, then buy clothes to wear to Alex's wedding.  Drive home so DeLee could go to her evening engagement, then go to the movies to see the Avengers.

Only the first part happened.  I got up at 6 and texted DeLee to make sure she was awake, then fed all the animals.  I started to become aware that everything wasn't quite right as I was feeding them.  I felt a little crampy.  Hmm.  Instead of a big breakfast I had a banana, water, and a cup of decaf.  And started hurting more.  I told DeLee I was going to have to cancel.

I sat there, wondering if I had the world's worst case of gas, and if I should go to the ER.  Then I started wondering if maybe I should call an ambulance, as passing out from the pain was starting to seem like an option.  My gut jabbed me with a vengeance.  I hobbled into the living room and lay down in the recliner, as sitting upright was just too painful.  And then the pain started to recede.

I went upstairs and went back to bed.  4-5 hours later I woke up.  I still have a feeling of pressure, but I'm not having tremendous pain.  My guess?  (And I can only guess because I'm no doc, and neither can I see into my innards.)  Ruptured ovarian cyst.  Nothing to be done for it.  After googling and pondering, I'm just grateful that it was over so quickly.

So.  Unexercised.  Still nothing to wear to the wedding.  But on the up side, I didn't spend $3k today having an ER doctor tell me that I'd be fine.  (I mean, I would have, if it hadn't started feeling better.  But it didn't become necessary.)

You know who is isn't feeling all that great today?  The Schnork.  She didn't want any food this evening, and spent a couple of hours sleeping in the cats' heated bed.  I feel for her.

While I was lazing around the house, I watched movie trailers.  And I noticed the movie Albert Nobbs.  I decided to rent it.  It was cheaper than going out to the movies, at least.  I'd say it's a pretty excellent film.  It's a sad story, though.  No happy ending for Albert.

I think it'll be an early night for me, assuming I can sleep after that long nap.  And then in the morning, also assuming I feel better, off to the mall to look for clothing.  Because that's not going to happen on its own.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I probably looked like I was doing a funny walk

So what's the difference between regular backpacking and long distance backpacking?  Town stops.  You don't just have to carry more food and more fuel, you have to carry the things you'll need in town.  Clothes to wear while you wash everything else.  Cords to recharge your gadgets.  Phone cards.  Shampoo.  That sort of thing.

You think by now it'd be second nature to me.  I've done enough long distance hikes by now.  But I don't do them so very often, and I forget.  Also my gear is scattered around the house (inevitably.)  I suppose that I will spend the next few weeks corralling my sarong and my chargers and my this and that.  Like, maps for Vermont and New Hampshire.  I know they're around here somewhere.  Right?

I had to go up and down the stairs at work today.  I had to do that quite a lot.  So I took advantage of the situation.  I went up two at a time to work myself on something a little bit like going up a mountain.  And then I went down two at a time for something like going down a mountain.  That part is much trickier.  Anybody can take a big step up.  Taking a big step down just feels wrong.  I held onto both handrails and still felt unsafe.

Betcha I hurt tomorrow.

I need to pack up a backpack to wear on this weekend's hike with DeLee - both to train for the weight, and to slow me down.  She appreciates it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I need some rocks to climb on.

I feel like I'm kind of winding down on this blogging thing.  Maybe it's just because there's a new season of Eureka on tv.

I'm gearing up for this year's "long hike", although to me it won't feel that long.  I'm taking off two weeks to hike north on the AT from Woodstock, VT, to wherever I get.  And then a couple of months after that I plan to thruhike Shenandoah.  I should really count it, it'll be nearly two weeks, but it'll be on known territory.  I've lost track of how many times I've hiked some of those pieces of trail.

So, pretty much focusing on the New England hike.  I need to start doing some specific training for it.  In addition to regular walks, weekend hikes, my PT which I'm now doing at my gym, yoga, and horse back riding (whew), I need something to get my big step / climbing muscles engaged.  Not sure what, entirely.  A few trips to the Billy Goat trail will help, but something I can do more regularly would be good too.  Maybe finding a stadium and going up two steps at a time?  Or going up and down the stairs at home two at a time?  I don't know.  I'll figure something out.  Or I'll just suffer a lot on the trail.  Maybe both!

As usual I'm focused on lightening my pack as much as possible.  It's probably futile, as looking at the guidebooks I think I'll have to carry a lot of food once I get past Hanover.  That, or I'm going to be hitching into tiny little towns to get myself some grub.

Actually I'm not sure where, if anywhere, I'm going to take a zero day.  Which means I'll need to wash clothes on the trail and figure out a place to charge my electronics.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

He's so hip he can't see over his own bum

Andy does not have the tolerance for recreational drugs that you would expect from a cat of his evident hipness.  He got totally wasted last night.  It was embarrassing.

I noticed a couple of days ago that he had a small mat of hair on his belly.  Unlike the Schnork, he is not a fan of the belly rubbing.  Especially when the rubbing involves scissors.  My options were taking him to the vet, trying to figure out some system of restraint that wouldn't injure everybody involved, or drugging him.  I went with the Xanax.

We used to give Trouble 1/3 of a tablet to zone him out for fluids under the skin.  I figured with Andy being both larger and more healthy than Trouble was, that 1/2 tablet would be all right.  And an hour after I gave it to him, he was pretty relaxed but not dopey.  I figured I had gotten it right.

However, an hour after THAT he was still overbalancing and then pretending that he meant to do that.  He had that "I know I'm drunk, but I'm going to pretend to be sober and hope the cop doesn't notice" look.  I ended up sleeping in the guest room so I could keep a sleepy eye on him during the night.  It took hours for him to sober up.

I guess in retrospect, you'd expect a grizzled veteran like Trouble to be able to hold his licker better than a middle aged lad like Andy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A very nice day

In case you are one of the three people who haven't noticed, today is my birthday.   I was planning a low key, under the radar birthday.  But I forgot about Facebook, which prompts everybody with a "wouldn't you like to say happy birthday?" type message for every birthday.  At last count, 145 people wished me a happy birthday.  So, not so much with the radar.

I had a nice day, though.  JD left me a special yummy breakfast.  It was a lovely day, and my coworkers were both out so it was nice and quiet in my office.  For the first time this week, I actually got to go for a walk.  And JD and I went out for Thai food for dinner, which totally rocked.

So, pretty much, 42 is looking like an excellent year.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

There's no place like

Oh, internet.  You do not even want to know what my day was like.  But, apparently, I'm going to tell you.

A) Day 3 of migraine.
B) Also, stiff neck.
C) DNS was totally effed up in.  In completely different ways from last week.
D) We kind of lost a spacecraft.  A little.  Just the orientation part of it.  Was this related to the DNS problem?  Why, yes.  Yes it was.  (I hear the spacecraft is going to be fine, though.)

DNS, in case you aren't a giant nerd, is the thing that takes the name of a computer (say, www.cnn.com) and turns it into a number ( because computers like numbers.  If you give them a name with no number attached, they just flip you the bird.  The names are only for the convenience of us human beings, who like words.  If DNS gets broken, we keep putting in www.cnn.com, and our computer keeps telling us "WTF!" or more technically "server not found".  Either way you're not getting to your website.  But if DNS is working, you can put in www.cnn.com, or any other website, and your computer translates it into a number and then goes on its jolly way finding the machine somewhere in the world that matches up with that number.  It's a miracle, really.

Why was DNS effed up?  Well, that's a complicated question.  I know a lot of the answer, but I'm pretty certain you don't want to know.  The real reason is that we chose to use the friendly, non-mission DNS, which lets us get to youtube.  Non-mission DNS doesn't block any websites.  But it also doesn't have delightful 24x7 support, or any kind of service level agreement.  This was a lot less real to my boss until today.

So, I spent today on the phone.  Because there was not so very much I could do about it other than harass technical people in other places.  Can you guess how much I like spending the day on the phone with people who all insist that the problem lies elsewhere?

Anyway, that was today.  I'm hoping for no more migraine tomorrow.  And no rain.  And no DNS problems.  And only minor dentistry.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I swear to god I'm never doing that again. Again.

I cannot have caffeine.  I know this.  I know that I can have a little bit, once in a while.  Say, real coffee every week or two.  I know that if I have more than this, I become addicted and bad things start to happen.  They happen subtly, at first.  But eventually my body stops being subtle and tells me, very directly, that I have been bad.

I know this.  I have been through this more than once.  And yet, I keep going back to it.  Do I feel invulnerable, once I've been away from it for a while?  Do I forget?  Am I just that stupid?  Evidence points toward that last one.

I've had caffeinated beverages several times in the last few weeks.  WELL over my limit.  So, this morning, I acquired a migraine.  And not the gentle, friendly migraines I've been having for the last few years.  This was a full on feral migraine.  It slapped me upside the head and called me names.  It made the light too bright, the sounds too loud, and my stomach too unstable.

And those feral migraines are wily.  It waited to strike until I had no migraine meds left at the office.  I instead took advil and a cup of coffee, because when I do get the inevitable migraine, caffeine sometimes helps.  And then I put on my sunglasses and my beach hat, and asked my office mates if we could turn off the lights.

When I got home I took my meds, and I'm gradually recovering.  But the headache, like a hangover, is a reminder to me of things that I should not be doing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Not feeling wordy

DeLee adjusting her poles before we left.

Our fairly nondescript starting location

It's still spring in the mountains

It was at least our second time crossing that day.

Sitting on the bench at PenMar

This rock wall interested me so I walked around to see what was on the other side of the hill.  It was a huge hole.  I'm pretty sure that's a retaining wall for the dirt dug out from a small mine.

The view of the storm (which avoided us) from the much-graffitied hang glider launch pad at High Rock.

1.2 mile round trip with 2-3 gallons of water.  Ugh.

Raven Rock Shelter is *really* nice.  The builders / maintainers visited while we were there.

Action shot!

The woods were overwhelmingly light green, with that pale color that says the leaves are new.

Walking through a field was a novelty

Gotta wonder how long that bike's been there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pluto: approaching planetesimal size again

Significantly rounder

Disapproving horse says "Stop taking pictures and let's do something."
I went out after work to check on Pluto.  The rain rot on his back is definitely conquered.  Now he has it on his hind legs, but not enough to cause him discomfort.  You know what that means:  I can finally ride!  I just have to find time.  Possibly after work one day next week.

De Schnork had a really bad day yesterday, but she is feeling much better today except for the part where Beauty blissfully whacked her with her tail, causing the Schnork to go flying down the stairs.  (I'm feel Beauty would feel bad if she had noticed.  She appears to like the Schnork, for some reason.)  Schnork does not appear to have taken any additional damage.  She begged at dinner and then asked to come up on my lap at the desk, so I'd say it's a very schnorky day.