Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Couple of Scares and A Resolution

The other day I heard a loud ruckus down at the barn, but with my bum leg, I can't just leap up like I used to and run to a window.  By the time I got up, nothing was going on, so I figured that Gabbrielle chased Rock away from Lostine, and Rock banged up against the railings on his way out of the barn.

Later, when I went out to do chores, I discovered that Gabbrielle's fly mask was off her face.  I tracked it down and found that it was ripped right along the side of the mask.  It takes a tremendous amount of force to rip through that canvas along with the liner for a length of several inches.  Then I remembered the ruckus I heard earlier, and knew that once again Gabbrielle must have been itching her face on the handle of a gate and got her fly mask caught on it.  Then, instead of calmly trying different things to slide it off the metal piece, she probably pulled back and struggled until it ripped.  This is the second fly mask in a few weeks that she's done this with.  I decided no more fly masks for her.  She'll just get fly spray wiped on her face each day to prevent eye infections.

Believe it or not, the temps went up again, so it's been in the mid 90s for the past week and the flies are busy as ever driving my horses crazy.  What was scary was that Gabbrielle had clearly strained her neck in the incident, because she was shaking her head hours later and hanging it down low.  I figured I'll have to get a chiropractor out here to get her spine aligned again.  Fortunately, the next day, she was back to her normal self.

Two nights ago it got dark outside before I could finish my barn chores, so I had to abandon them in order to go feed the dogs and start my dinner.  What got me behind schedule was the number of water troughs that needed cleaning and filling.  So, the next night I felt relieved that I wouldn't have any more water troughs to deal with.  I could just focus on manure clean up and hay distribution.

While cleaning, I looked in Rock's freshly filled 100 gallon water trough, and jumped back in horror.  There were four claws sticking out of the surface of the water.  I took a closer look and realized that a rock squirrel had drowned.  I fished it out, but now that meant I had to bail all 100 gallons of water out, scrub and refill the trough.  So much for my "easy" night of chores.

I realized that Bombay had been trying to point the squirrel out to me, but I chased him out of Rock's stall so that I could have room to clean.  Bombay loves little creatures and is always sad when they die.  So am I.

It looks like we finally are getting some resolution on our irreparable refrigerator.  Lowe's said they will send us a check for the full amount we paid for it over a year ago, plus tax, and we can use that money to buy any new refrigerator we want from any store.  As far as stores go, I don't have a problem with Lowe's, but I do feel that their warranty service needs an overhaul.  The customer service representatives were all friendly, responsive and helpful, but the rules regarding appliance replacements are unfair.  The customers have to go through the ringer before they can get a replacement, and by then we are so angry that it's hard to feel satisfied when we finally get it.  My main problem is all the time I lost during the month-long repair process.  One could argue that I didn't lose any money, especially if they refund me for the spoiled food and out of network repair costs, but my time is almost more valuable than my money.

As far as refrigerator brands go, my research shows that every brand of french door refrigerators on the market has the same problems with the ice maker breaking down, and then the entire fridge and freezer no longer cooling.  I can read complaint after complaint about that in the reviews of every brand.  Can lightning strike twice?  For me -- yes it can.  I'm that unlucky.

If anyone reading this has bought a french door fridge within the past four years, please let me know what brand it is and whether you've had problems with it or not.  Thank you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Bad Kitty

The bobcat kid sure has made itself at home on my ranch.  Yesterday Stewie was sitting on my lap when he jumped up and growled at something outside the window.  The bobcat was walking on top of our stone wall.  I grabbed my camera thinking it would make a great shot, but the cat jumped down before I could get back to the window with the camera.

I watched while it approached the barn...

It's hard to tell from this photo, but it was meowing here.  It then couched down low and wagged its stubby tail back and forth quickly.  I assumed that it was preying on the flock of doves that had been hanging out in the barn lately.  I went outside, and it sauntered off to its usual hiding place under my horse trailer.



As I approached the trailer, it crawled out the back and walked slowly to the arroyo.  It didn't look at me once, but I knew it was tracking me with its ears.

Into Never Never Land where it knows I won't follow...

As I was walking back to the house, I realized that the horses were huddled against the gate asking to be let loose.  They were quivering and snorting out of fear.  I wondered if the bobcat, being young, inexperienced, and innocent, had been stalking my horses, and not doves like I originally assumed.  Or perhaps the horses had witnessed the bobcat attacking one of their bunny or birdie friends, and knew it has big claws and sharp teeth. 

I'm pretty sure that my horses would win in a fight with a bobcat, but they could still get scratched up and bit, so I think it is time I encourage kitty to find new stalking grounds.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Repair Updates

So far, it appears as if the leaks have been repaired and we haven't sprung any new ones.  I feel like our house is a ship that has been sinking for a very long time.  After what we've been through, we are hyper-vigilant about hunting down the source of random water puddles and water sounds.  We've had a lot of false alarms.  I think our nerves are just shot. 

The fridge is another story.  It's still broken despite having the compressor replaced multiple times.  Isn't that the definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?  Our assigned refrigerator repairman does everything by the book whether it makes sense or not.  Despite him criticizing the first repairman's job, I was tempted to call the first repairman back, because at least he had a theory of what the problem was, while this warranty service repairman just keeps coming back replacing mostly the same parts he just replaced the week before.  I think he lost his passion for his job.

He had previously promised me that he would have the problem resolved by the end of the week, but it turned out that he never even submitted my paperwork to the warranty service center, and he is on vacation this week.  He just blew me off.

So when I called the Lowe's warranty service center for the fourth time this morning and tolerated being on hold a total of three times for about 40 minutes, they only had records of three service calls and no record of Friday's appointment.  Their Lowe's lemon replacement policy calls for five unsuccessful repairs before they will replace the appliance.  The problem is this:  They only count the service calls -- they don't count how many appointments the customer has to suffer through sitting at home between 8 and 5 waiting for the repairman to show up.  They also don't count the out of network repair calls and appointments that I made.  So, I had two out of network repair appointments, and then their in-network guy came to my house five times.  To me, that is seven appointments, but to Lowe's it is only three.  I would have to suffer through four more appointments to get their number up to five, because with each service call the repairman has to come out twice -- once to assess the situation and verify that the fridge is broken, and once to install the ordered parts.  Is that asinine or what?

Anyway, our repairman told us that all the other repairmen who were working under the warranty service had quit, and he was the only one left for the entire region of central Arizona.  AND he was going on vacation for a week.  I suspected that all the other repairmen quit because they were tired of dealing with pissed off customers who have to deal with all these stupid appointments on LG and Samsung refrigerators that can't be fixed.

So when I called the Lowe's warranty service center for the fourth time this morning, they were going to just set up another appointment for me like I suspected.  I warned the lady that our repairman was on vacation, and she said she would just set up an appointment with a different repairman.  I thought, "Good luck with that," and let her put me on hold.

She quickly discovered there were no other repairmen in my region, and my particular repairman was booked two weeks out.  Apparently, there is one other rule with the lemon replacement policy I wasn't aware of, and that is that if it takes too long to resolve a refrigerator cooling problem, they will replace the refrigerator just to get the customer up and running again.  So, she submitted some form to her supervisors requesting that I receive a replacement, but I have to wait several days for a call back, and I will have to be interviewed by the supervisor to see if I definitely qualify.  Then if I do, who knows how long it will be to get the replacement.  I'm still betting that we won't have a main fridge until early November.

Since I need to speak with the supervisor when he or she calls, I have to answer all of my calls now, and there are people who have been giving out my phone number as a bogus number when they don't want to be hassled by sales calls, so now I'm not only getting my own obnoxious sales and scam calls, but those of strangers.  It wastes so much of my day having to answer calls from unrecognized numbers.  I tried to get at least the area that the supervisor would be calling from, but the gal said the call could be coming from anywhere.  I thought it was funny that they try to make the process sound so personal by having the gal say that she put in a request with her supervisor, like she put it on her supervisor's desk, which is just a few feet away from hers, but the reality is that anyone on a higher level than her could pick up this request from a database in any part of the country.

I'm anxious to get both the fridge problem and my leg problem resolved because we have some important events coming soon that need my attention.  Both my son and my daughter got engaged to their best friends in the past few weeks, so we've got some weddings to think about.  I'm considering telling my orthopedist that I've changed my mind about taking the diagnostic approach to my leg pain, and just take the "hit it with everything at once" approach.  In August I had steroids injected into my knee and the benefits were only short-lived and subtle.  In September I had steroids injected into my hip, and got the same result.  I'm developing new pains and mobility problems as time wears on, and despite attending all of these doctor appointments, I'm not getting better.  I need to be able to get on with my life, and I'm skeptical that will happen if we just do one injection in a different body part each month.

With the weddings coming up and me still having three high maintenance dogs and four horses to care for, I can't afford to take the "try this, then wait and see" approach to my pain.  I'm super discouraged right now because I've done everything by the book regarding my health care and the appliance repairs, yet nothing ever seems to get resolved.  Each week I'm still in the same damn boat I was in the week before.  My life is passing before my eyes.  I'm throwing all this money, time and energy at these problems, and getting nothing in return.

I was originally promised by both orthopedists that they'd have me back in the saddle again in no time.  They swore that these steroid treatments are a miracle and offer amazing results.  All I can figure out is that either they are treating me for the wrong diagnosis yet again, or I have some kind of freakish resistance to steroids. It's most likely that everyone is underestimating my condition.  Most people run to the doctor as soon as they sneeze, so doctors get used to treating patients with very mild problems.  I only see doctors when I'm at the end of my rope, and because I'm from a heritage that "keeps a stiff upper lip", they can't tell how much pain I'm in just by looking at me and observing my behavior, which is all most doctors do nowadays.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Meet the New Barn Bench

Each time I buy a chair to sit in down by my barns, either the wind blows it away and breaks the legs off of it or some critter or bird shreds it.  We've taken more than our fair share of destroyed chairs to the dump.  So, I finally sat down and thought through what I could get that would be indestructible.  I settled on an aluminum garden bench with slats to drain rainwater and let the wind blow through, and no cushions that would wind up being shredded for bird and squirrel nests.

It took me about an hour to assemble it, three hours if you add in all the times the dogs interrupted me to take them outside, but I got 'er done...

I could probably even set it in the barn aisle, because I doubt the horses could destroy it.  They'd chew on it once, not like the way it bites back, and then leave it alone.  But I want to enjoy it a while before I test it out around the horses. 

Did I tell you what Rock did the other day?  Well, when I bought my Kawasaki Mule, I was warned not to drive it with the choke open.  They said that once the engine starts up, close the choke immediately.  I always try to start it up without the choke at first, and this time it started up right away.  I began driving around and thought, "The engine sounds odd."

I looked down and saw that Rock had pulled the choke button out all the way on the dashboard with his teeth!  Now I won't let him anywhere near my Mule.  He's already let off the parking brake while it was parked.  Thankfully, it wasn't parked on a hill or I might have lost it.

I saw the bobcat again this afternoon while carrying the bench down to the barn.  I would have had to drop the bench to get a picture of it, but I decided to leave it alone and focus on the bench project.  I'm happier when I can focus on one thing and follow it through from beginning to end.  If I ignore the bobcat, it will probably come around more often.  Cats like to be ignored.  Then they can stalk you and feel self-satisfied.

The refrigerator and leaky plumbing saga continues.   More parts have been ordered for the fridge, and the repairman said he didn't want to have to come back to my house again, so he's going to make sure that our situation is resolved one way or another by the end of the week, meaning that he'll either fix it, or he'll recommend to our warranty service that the fridge be replaced with a new one. 

The third plumbing leak was bypassed with new plumbing, and the ten holes in our walls were repaired and painted.  I had my husband run tests to verify that there were no more leaks.  We weren't taking anyone else's word for it.  He said he didn't hear any, so I paid them and thanked them.  Then after they left, my husband started hearing a leak again. 

They had suggested that we lower our main water pressure to the house, because it was apparent that the person who installed our original plumbing did not do a quality job, and too much water pressure is just going to spring more leaks.  So, I called the well repairman out today to lower the water pressure.  He argued with me that our water pressure was fine and did not need to be lowered.  He said the other people were wrong in saying that high water pressure can cause leaks, and they were wrong with the number of psi they recommended.  I had to twist his arm to get him to come out and do it.  He also did some troubleshooting with me, and we were unable to detect a leak, so hopefully what my husband heard was something else and not a leak.  I guess time will tell.

In the meantime, I've got a huge mess to clean up.  The drywall team had to move a bunch of our stuff in order to paint, and they couldn't put anything back until the paint dried.  I'm not putting much back until I know for sure that we don't have to call them to fix anymore leaks.  I discovered this morning that they dumped garbage in every trash can they found, including the dog poop can.  Gross.  I suspect that the owner of the company trained them to do that mostly likely because homeowners don't appreciate them filling their main trash bin. 

Our waste management company requires that we bag all of our trash, so I had to lay the trash bin on its side and pull everything out to stuff in a bag, or the trash truck driver won't pick it up.  They also dumped a bunch of insulation and drywall chunks into the recycling can, which mystified me.  One can is labeled TRASH and the other is labeled RECYCLE on the lid.  How could they miss that?  I know a lot of people just don't respect recycling because they can't be bothered by sorting their trash, so I had to pull everything out of that and stuff it in a trash bag as well.  I'm going to have to remember to give future repairmen trash bags and tell them to stay away from my trash and recycling bins.  They can approach the dog poop can at their own risk.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hungry Kitty

It's finally cooling down a bit into the 80s and low 90s, so the wildlife is coming around.  I took the dogs outside to find a coyote down by the barn.  Then I spotted something unusual prowling around the horse trailer.  At first I thought it might be a Coatimundi because it was the right size for it, but after I waited for it to move in such a way that I could see its limbs and tail, I knew it was a bobcat.  I dragged the dogs inside and grabbed my camera.

I had just seen it walk slowly between the hay barn and horse trailer, but when I got behind them, it was nowhere to be seen.  I doubted it could have made it to the arroyo in that short of a time, so I quietly peeked around the corner of the tack room, and it sprung up out of the weeds to run underneath the horse trailer.  It was a very young, not fully grown bobcat.  This is where it was laying in wait for rabbits...

You can see that it was just a few feet away from the horses, but the horses didn't pay any attention to it.  I guess they felt confident that they could stomp on it if it tried to eat them.  I was disappointed in them for not at least alerting on it to tell me where it was hiding.

I started firing off my camera hoping that I was catching it within the frame, because it was moving so quickly.  I had to crop and clarify most of these photos.


Once it was under the trailer, I tried to move in closer to flush it out for more photos, and it was amazingly stealthy.  It moved to the front of the trailer so that I would head that way, and then when I could no longer see it, it backtracked to come out the back of the trailer and go behind the tack room into the weeds again.  When I didn't see it moving away from the front of the trailer, I guessed that it pulled a fast one on me.  When I came around the corner of the tack room, it was surprised to see me, and it took off running for the arroyo.



It was small enough that at first I wondered if it was someone's house cat.  I've never actually seen a domestic cat wandering loose around here.  They wouldn't last very long with all the coyotes, but I'll bet a bobcat could hold its own against them.

It was good to see a kid.  That means there are a mama and papa bobcat somewhere in the neighborhood too.  The bunnies probably aren't crazy about them being around, though.  I've been wondering why I haven't seen many rabbits lately.  With the coyotes, the rabbits will only go into hiding when they see them coming, and they'll come right back out of hiding once the coyotes pass through.  However, I knew something else must have been preying on them, because they've been hunkering down even when I feed the horses, and that's very unusual.  I wouldn't be surprised if this bobcat has been hiding in the weeds behind the tack room the whole time I've been feeding the horses, waiting for the rabbits to come out in search of spilled grain.

The Ants Come Marching Ton By Ton

We've been having this bizarre problem in the tack room in which periodically it would get overrun by ants.  I've been super good about keeping the door closed since I trapped a bunny and a rattlesnake in there by accident last spring, and we haven't had much opportunity to open the windows this year because of the relentless heat.  The floorboard cracks don't seem wide enough to let ants in, but that was the only logical explanation for it, so we kept spraying and sprinkling the floorboard cracks with poison.

Each time we had another ant invasion, I'd have to spray poison, move everything around, and sweep the ants out once they were dead.  Then the tack room would be perfectly clean for a few days until the next ant invasion.  I thought this too shall pass, because the pests come and go in phases.

My husband kept telling me that the ants were in the grain bags and buckets, but I wasn't seeing it.  By the time I got out there, all I saw were the ants he killed.  I thought maybe I just need to keep a pair of reading glasses in the tack room so I can see clearly close up.  But, of course, I've had other things on my mind, so I keep forgetting to take a pair of glasses down there.

I most often give the horses grain in the mornings, because I don't have as many chores to do then, while in the evenings after cleaning everything in the barn my leg locks up and I often can't do the last step of walking to the tack room to get some grain.  The horses get plenty of hay, so it's not like I'm starving them.  I consider grain a treat that happens to contain vitamins and probiotics.  They don't need it with every meal.  Once a day is plenty.

Anyway, yesterday evening I went into the tack room and filled three bright yellow buckets with Safe Choice Senior.  I put one bucket in the Mule and left the other two in the tack room.  My husband helped with cleaning up manure and water troughs, so my leg still had some mileage left in it.  When I finished handing out hay, I gave them grain from the bucket in the Mule, and then returned to the tack room to put the bucket away and refill it for another meal.

Much to my shock, those two yellow buckets of grain were now black, completely covered in ants!  How could they have sensed the presence of unsealed grain that fast and descended up on it from wherever they came from?  It was like I was in the Twilight Zone.

I had to spray the buckets, grain and all, with poison.  Then I picked up the bag of Safe Choice Senior that I had transferred the grain from, and it was covered in ants as well.  There were no ants coming up out of the floorboards.  They were coming out of the the Safe Choice Senior bag!  I realized that the grain probably contained ant eggs when it was collected and bagged, and I had it in storage long  enough for the ants to hatch inside of the bag.  So, each time I opened an old bag of Safe Choice Senior, I unleashed an army of ants without realizing it.  You can see they had been feeding on the grain a while, because there are clumps of digested grain.

Once I realized what was going on, I dumped the old grain outside ($40 down the drain) and cleaned the tack room again.  All that's left inside are newer, fresher bags of grain, so I shouldn't have ant problems for a while... knock on wood.  I'm worried, because I just bought more bags of Safe Choice Senior in bulk than I ever have, and they will need to be eaten while they are fresh and ant-free. 

Now that I know having older bags of grain sitting around is a problem, I may have to re-sell some of the bags I just bought to assure that they get used in a timely manner.  I've been stocking up on feed for both the horses and dogs because I've got all these other problems I'm dealing with all the time, and I can't always just drop what I'm doing to go to the feed store or order stuff online.  I just didn't want to have to deal with running out of items in my stock.  It seems that every day I run out of either some prescription drug, some prescription food, or just some food for someone, and I'm tired of it.  I'm buying everything in bulk, because I want to have a life, but that backfired because now I'm fighting ants all the time... which means I still don't have a life.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I Ran Away From Home

I am one step away from the loony bin.  I began the morning by calling the Lowe's warranty service center to report that our refrigerator is still broken.  I emphasized that this is the third time I have called them about this particular problem, the second repairman I've had try to fix it and fail, and the fifth appointment to fix this particular problem.  All in all, this refrigerator that is only a little over a year old, has had three repairmen work on it a total of seven times.  That's seven days that I have had to cancel all of my plans and sit home to wait for the repairman to show up some time between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM.  That's a week of my life that I have lost.

The warranty service rep just set up another appointment with a repairman in six days.  WTH?  He said my refrigerator does not qualify for their Lemon Replacement Policy, and until their repairman deems it more cost effective for Lowe's to give us a new fridge over repairing it, they will not replace the fridge.  Apparently, they don't give a damn about how much of the customer's time is wasted.  All that matters is their precious money.  I will never do business with Lowe's ever again, and I will never buy another LG product ever again.  This has been a complete nightmare.

I've already begun the process of leaving bad reviews for both Lowe's and LG all over the Internet, warning unsuspecting buyers of my situation.  It turns out that there are a ton of other people who bought my same refrigerator from Lowe's along with a warranty, and their fridge broke down in the same way and they are going through the same repair after repair after repair hell that I am.  Seriously, if the fridge can't be fixed, just give us a new fridge of equal value -- hopefully a better brand.  What's the point of pissing off all these customers by wasting their time sending repairmen out dozens of times to fix something that can't be fixed?

Well, after fuming about that all morning, I couldn't take my shower because my husband was running water leak tests.  He determined that the original leak still exists, and it is still stressing out our water pump.  So, I had to call the leak detection service again and tell them their man screwed up.  They said they'd get right back to me.  I waited a grand total of ten minutes and then tossed my phone to my husband and said, "I'm taking my shower now."

I had no faith anyone would call back.  I suspected that we got scammed out of $1,000 for the work they already did.   By the time I got out of the shower and got dressed, still no one had called.  Eventually, someone did call, and he said he'd be over at 1:00 PM.  We thought that meant he would be over at 1:00 PM to fix our leak.  I still hadn't gone to the grocery store all week, so I suggested we get that done before 1:00.  We stopped at a restaurant to eat, and I expressed my unhappiness over having to shove yet another meal down my throat because I have to be somewhere else, and my husband suggested that we take our time eating, and then rush the grocery shopping.

I know this is gross, but I have been pulled in so many different directions these past few weeks, that I keep popping Immodium to prevent myself from having bowel movements, because I literally do not have time to go to the bathroom.  And some days I don't even have a bathroom I can access.

We ended up rushing through everything, but as we were checking out at the grocery store, the guy from the leak detection service called and said in an annoyed tone that he was at my house wondering where I was.  I said, "What time is it?"

He's said, "12:40.  I guess I'm 20 minutes early."

I said, "Well, we are at the grocery store, but we are on our way home now."

He said, "Alright.  I've got a cup of coffee I can finish drinking."

It took us 15 minutes to get home.  We had to run into the house to lock up the dogs.  I told my husband to deal with the guy while I bring in the groceries and put them away.  I was afraid that I might lose it and say some rude things to the man for ripping our house apart, leaving a mess behind, and never even fixing our original problem.

I haven't even mentioned this yet, but the guy who supposedly repaired two leaks ruined our driveway by dumping something on it that left marks and can't be washed away, and he also dumped some drywall trash into my next door neighbor's yard.  I was so embarrassed by that that I raked it up before my neighbor noticed.  Also, the repairman moved a bunch of stuff that was in his way when he needed to cut holes in the walls, and he never put any of it back, so our house and garage were a mess.  With my mobility issues, it is extremely difficult for me to bend over repeatedly, crouch down, or do any kind of physical activity involving my legs for more than a couple of minutes, and this guy created a bunch of work for me.

Anyway, the guy made a beeline for the master bedroom, and that was where my husband had locked up the dogs, so they came racing out of the bedroom and straight out the garage door, which I had propped open so that I could bring in the groceries.  Next thing I knew, I had three loose dogs racing around the property, and I was having to chase each one of them down to put leashes on them.  I was pissed.  That's so painful for me.  I'm so tired of other people putting me in these life or death positions where I have no choice but to exert myself physically in order to prevent something horrible from happening.  My dogs could have run out into the street and been hit by a car or run into a pack of coyotes or a rattlesnake.  They could have chased a rabbit off into the desert and I'd never see them again.  I was frantically trying to catch these dogs, and this man was happily flitting all over the place talking non-stop like absolutely nothing was wrong.

This is why I practically have a nervous breakdown every time someone comes to my house.  Everything that I do creates a delicate balance, and there are reasons for everything I do.  I'm usually trying to prevent problems.  Then some other person comes along who doesn't  know what is going on, and they instantly create chaos by messing with stuff.  They open gates and don't close them -- breaking the cardinal rule of ranchers.  They move things thinking their actions are harmless, but the consequences are far reaching.  The worst is that they break things.  Almost everyone who comes to my house breaks something, and then I lose money and time having to get someone to fix it.  Right after I made the first plumber close up all the holes in the walls so that scorpions won't crawl out and get in our house, this guy ran around pulling all the plugs out of the walls, and left everything wide open.

Then he did what all the other repairmen did too.  He went into my personal bathroom without asking permission and used the toilet.  We have three bathrooms.  My husband and I share the master bathroom, but the master toilet is his.  My toilet and wash basin are off the laundry room.  Then we have guest bathroom which I keep clean at all times, but for whatever reason, no one ever uses it.  Everyone lets himself into my private bathroom.

Why is this a problem?  Well, I have a lot of personal hygiene items and medications that I don't need other people to see.  I was supposed to get a hysterectomy last year because I can't stop bleeding, so I need a lot of sanitary napkins... the bigger the better.  It's embarrassing when people go digging under the sink in search of something and find my sanitary napkins stash, among other things.  Anyway, I'm so fed up with all these repairmen peeing in my personal toilet and digging around in my drawers that I've moved most of my stuff into the guest bathroom.  I'm thinking I'll just make the guest bathroom mine, and everyone else can use the one off the laundry room.

I thought the guy who showed up today was going to fix the leak, but instead all he did was take a leak in my toilet and write up a contract for the original leak to be fixed another day.  I was pissed that he was going to make us pay for yet another leak repair when they never repaired the leak in the first place, but then they claimed they could prove that they did repair two other leaks.  They just didn't find the main leak that was bothering us.  So, I suppose I have to pay them for each leak they repair.  The guy gave us a 25% discount on this next leak as an apology for not getting it the first time around.  The pisser is that if they had just found it and fixed it under the first contract, I wouldn't have had to pay any more money.  He also said that he is bringing in his best team of people this time  -- the A Team as opposed to the B Team.  As soon as he said that, he realized he put his foot in his mouth and swore that that first guy was a part of the A Team, and he would never send a second rate repairman over to my place.  I think this time around, I won't be signing off on the job and paying them until my husband has run his tests.

Guess when they are coming to make repairs?  The same day the refrigerator repairman is coming!  So, I won't be able to get into either the kitchen or the bathrooms.  I'll have to wear a diaper and keep a bag of trail mix in my pocket.  I wish I could rent a motel room that day, but I have to stay at home to supervise and make sure that people aren't rifling through my jewelry box, the dogs aren't shredding the house, and everyone is doing the job he's paid to do.

While all of this was going on, the dentist's office called and left a message that they wanted to move my appointment up from the afternoon to the morning.  I didn't want to change the time of my appointment, because I had picked out that time for a reason... for a lot of reasons.  First off, I picked right smack in the middle of the afternoon because I didn't want to have my breakfast, lunch or dinner rushed.  I'm tired of having an upset stomach because I'm shoving food down my throat.  I'm the queen of acid reducer pills.  Secondly, I picked that time because it wouldn't interfere with my chores.  Thirdly, I picked that time because it wouldn't interfere with the dogs' and horses' feeding times.  Fourthly, I picked that time because that's right about the time of day when the dogs start getting obnoxious, chasing me around the house and tripping me.  I don't want to be home for that.

In other words, the time I picked was the perfect time.  They wanted me to call them back, but I was running all over the place dealing with a variety of things.  We were trying to open an account online to pay a bill, and the dogs kept peeing on the floor because they were excited about that man coming over, so I had to keep cleaning the carpet.  I didn't get around to letting the horses out of their stalls until the afternoon.  Then I was trying to research something.  I don't remember.  A lot was going on, and I was struggling to complete a single action before I got interrupted or pulled away to do something else.

Calling the dentist's office back was pretty low on my list of priorities.  Both my husband and I are fed up with them, because all the communications they insist upon leading up to the appointment take up more of our time than the actual appointment.  I'd swear the women in that front office just make phone calls to look busy so that they don't lose their jobs.  Sometimes they'll call me every few hours to verify that nothing has changed and I am still coming to my dental appointment.  I've ripped them a new one over that behavior.  It's just another case of people not respecting my time.  When people rob me of my time I get just as angry as if they robbed me of my money.

Anyway, I sat down to try to eat a snack and the second I took a bite, my husband's phone started ringing.  He had to run across the house to answer, and it was that damn dental office calling to tell him to tell me to call them back.  How obnoxious is that?  He told them I was not available and my schedule is tight.  A lot of what happened after that was a blur.  I just remember that all these bad things kept happening, and every time I tried to get something simple done, something else would happen to get in my way.  I made multiple attempts to go to the bathroom, but could never get that far before something dragged me in the opposite direction.  I was on my way to go somewhere and do something and I stepped in a puddle of fresh pee right after I had just taken the dogs out.  That's when I lost it.  At this point, the dogs were just peeing on the floor to try to get my attention.  They were as bad as those front desk women at the dental office.  I just felt like everyone was in my face, and I couldn't take it anymore.  I told my husband that I was going away for a while.

I didn't know where I was going.  I just grabbed a good book to read, my reading glasses, some water, and drove off.  I went to a park and planned to park under a tree and read, but some creepy man in a pick up truck had beat me to the only parking space that had shade.  So, I parked in the sun and got out to go look for a bench in the shade, and the creepy man started talking to me through his truck window.  I got the willies, because something told me he was a sex offender, so I headed way far out away from him.

I called the dentist's office back and told them to just cancel my appointment.  The lady refused.  I said, "Well, you keep trying to change my appointment, so the time I chose is obviously not a good time for you.  You may as well just cancel it."

The lady said, "Oh no, we just thought you might appreciate an earlier appointment."

"Why would you think that?  I specifically chose the time I have for a reason."

"Well, most people like to come in earlier."

"Do most people run a ranch and have livestock to care for first thing in the morning?"

"We'll be happy to see you at your original appointment time."

"Alright, but I don't want to receive any more phone calls from anyone in your office.  I am way too busy to play Juggle the Appointment Time, and one verification that I will be there is enough."

She promised me that no one will call me again.

Then a park ranger stalked me, which they do quite often around here, and it annoys me.  They think that everyone is doing something suspicious and illegal, so I went back to a bench on the side of the park where I left my truck, and the creepy guy was still there.  When he saw me sit down, he got out of his truck and walked over to join me.  I was pissed, because I desperately needed silence so I could think.  That last thing I wanted was some stranger telling me his life story, so I got up and left.

I went to a different park and took a walk with the help of my cane.  I found one painted rock made by someone else...

...and one of my own painted rocks that people keep finding and re-hiding.

Then I read my book for a while.  Then I went shopping, not because I needed anything, but just because I could.  In a few more weeks, the stores will be too crowded, and I'll have to wait until next summer to shop again.  There was this elderly woman hogging the register whose credit cards kept getting rejected.  She was digging through her purse for coupons and coins, and I could tell that she was totally senile and unable to put two thoughts together.  They called a second cashier up front.

I paid for my purchase and asked my cashier to peek to see how much the lady down the counter owed, because if it wasn't too much, I'd pay for it myself.  She peeked, and said, "She's settling a debt.  I don't think you can help with it."

I realized that she had probably been buying a lot of stuff on the store's credit card and had been receiving threatening notices that she had to pay up.  Then she came into the store to buy more clothes only to discover that her account had been closed.  Oh well.  The cashier told me I was sweet, but I shouldn't get involved.

On my way out of the parking lot, I saw two totaled cars smashed up against each other.  The only way that accident could have happened was if both drivers were cutting across empty parking spaces while racing through the parking lot.  It's 10 mph in parking lots for a reason.  And there are aisles between parking spaces for a reason.  It didn't look like anyone was hurt.

Then I got out on the highway, and there was this bum on drugs, and he had stripped down to just his shorts, and he was doing yoga or something next to traffic on the sidewalk.  He was acting like he was worshiping the sun, and his skin was bronzed to a crisp.

I started feeling more disturbed by what I was experiencing away from home than what was bothering me at home, so I returned to all the pestering dogs, pee stains, holes in walls, leaking pipes, broken refrigerator, ringing phones, and chaos.  Right off the bat, my husband told me that the ant poison we bought at the store was missing, and the ants are taking over the tack room eating all of that grain I just bought.  I let out some expletives and realized that those were the same words I was saying on my way out the door when I ran away from home.  Not much had changed in the couple of hours I was away.  I spent the rest of the night chasing javelina away from my back porch, because their snorts and rooting were freaking me out, and I knew it was only a matter of time before they broke something.

Oh yeah, and while I was doing my barn chores, I heard voices next door.  I looked over to see if the new neighbors had moved in, but instead, it looks as if some squatters are building a boat on their land...

Every time I think things can't possibly get more insane around here, they do.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Blitzed

When the plumber and the refrigerator repairmen finally left at the end of the day on Tuesday, I was so looking forward to taking the day off and catching up on my sleep on Wednesday.  Then my husband came home from work and said that he took Wednesday off from work so that he could take his car in to the shop to be worked on.  He couldn't use his right turn signal without his brights turning on and blinding oncoming drivers.  I only half paid attention to what he was saying because I was so exhausted, but he said something about needing to be picked up and letting me take my time.

I slept hard through the night and overslept in the morning.  I fed, medicated, and pottied the dogs, and the drove the Mule down to the barn to clean up manure and feed the horses.  When I returned to the house, I realized that my husband's car was missing.  Oh poop.  Was I supposed to pick him up at the dealership?  I quickly checked my phone but found no messages from him.  I quickly shoved breakfast down my throat so that I could take my medications with food, because the reality was that I wouldn't be able to drive if I couldn't take my anti-inflammatory.  The dealership was in the next city over, which meant freeway driving, and I vowed to not do that anymore.  Apparently, my husband never got the memo.

I desperately needed a shower.  I hadn't had the time to shower or wash my hair in two days because of all the repairmen coming to my house, and now I found myself being rushed out the door before I had time to shower and shampoo again.  I opted to rub some anti-antiperspirant on my armpits and change my clothes.  The whole time I was thinking, "This is not the life I intended to have.  I need to hire someone to live this one for me, so that I can have time to live the one I wanted."

I looked at Google Maps to figure out where I was going, and then I remembered that my husband switched dealerships again, but I couldn't remember which one.  I texted him to ask.  He didn't respond for a while, so I shut down my computer memorizing where two of the dealerships were located.  It had to be one of those two.  When he texted me back, it was a third dealership I hadn't looked for on the map.  Oh well, I decided to just drive and use my eyes to look for it. 

By the time I found my husband, my leg was as good as broken, so I had to get him to drive us home.  As soon as he started driving, my phone rang.  It was the dentist's office.  The lady was talking slowly like we had all the time in the world, and I was trying to get her off the phone, because I was in the middle of a conversation with my husband and I wanted to focus on traffic.  My leg hurt like hell, so when I told her I was fine, she didn't believe me.  I guess the pain was coming through in my voice.  She wanted to know if I'd be at my appointment, I said I would, though I doubted it.  My schedule had been completely out of my control this past month and nothing seemed to suggest that later this week should be any different.

Once home, I slept for a while, and when I woke up, I stunk so bad that I couldn't postpone showering any longer.  Once out of the shower, I realized how incredibly hungry I was.  I still hadn't had time to do the grocery shopping, so I grabbed my purse with the intention of going out to eat in a sit-down restaurant and filling up my stomach until I couldn't take another bite.  My husband told me his car should be ready soon, so I didn't bring the reusable canvas grocery bags since there wouldn't be time to do the marketing after eating.  However, after eating we discovered we had no cash and had to pay with plastic.  That meant a trip to the bank.

We got home, I started to fall asleep again, and was woken by the house shaking to the tune of a big truck.  It suddenly hit me that the feed store had scheduled my grain delivery for today.  I had totally forgotten to write it on my calendar.  I went outside, but found no truck.  My husband grabbed me and said his car was ready to be picked up.  I informed him that I forgot that I've got a grain delivery coming.  I had received several phone calls in the morning, most of which I ignored or hung up on when no one responded immediately to my hello.  I wondered if I hung up on the delivery man, so he decided not to deliver.

At any rate, I didn't want to wait until rush hour to pick up my husband's car, so we left to go do that and of course, my truck was low on gas, so we had to stop at a gas station.  I let him drive it there, so I would only have to drive it home.  When I got home, the feed store truck was down by my tack room and the driver was unloading my two pallets of grain.  I asked him if I missed his call, and he said there was no note on the receipt telling him to call.  I thought that my personal info card instructed the cashiers to always write on the receipt for the driver to call in advance.  I'm not surprised that instruction slipped past everyone.

The driver said that he had a really bad day because two of his trucks broke down, so now he's backlogged with deliveries.  His face was all red and covered in sweat.  I was worried that he might have a heart attack unloading 25 80-lb. and 40 50-lb. bags by himself.  I handed him a tip, and he said that no one ever tips him.  I said that it was a gift expressing our appreciation over his hard work, because we can no longer lift heavy grain bags ourselves.  He was blown away to receive a tip.  I asked if he had some water on him, and he said he did.

I went back in the house and realized that I never told him what I meant to tell him, which was that I wanted to keep the pallets.  So, I filled a tumbler with ice and cold water and took it to him, because he seriously looked like he was in distress and needed his body to cool down quick.  He was blown away by that, and said no one is ever this nice to him.  He appreciated the ice, because his water was hot.  Hot water only goes so far when you are showing signs of heat exhaustion.

Our ice maker still does not work, so we are making ice with trays.  Normally, I'd be stingy with the ice since it is so slow to produce, but this guy needed help.

Later, after he left, I looked in the tack room and was so pleased by his stacking job.  He left an aisle for me to walk in between my shelves and the grain bags.  After having to deal with so many thoughtless repairmen all week, it was nice to see someone do a good job.





Rock and Gabbrielle were the first to mosey on over to see if I might prematurely break open a bag for them.  "Just pour it through the window into our mouths, Mom."

Though the plumber and refrigerator repairmen are "done", I don't think anything was fixed.  We gave our refrigerator 24 hours to cool and freeze, but it's just been tepid, and Freon seems to be leaking somewhere inside of it, so I'll have to call the warranty company for the fifth time.  I hope they just decide to give us a new fridge, because I don't think anyone is going to be able to fix this one.  As far as the new plumbing goes, they fixed two leaks, which resulted in us getting stronger water pressure, which resulted in one of our toilets breaking first thing this morning.  However, we are still hearing water running in the walls when nothing should be using water.  We'll have to run some tests to be sure, but there is probably another leak that they missed.  They said that when they fix leaks, other leaks usually spring up in other locations a short time later.

I suppose that means there's no point in repairing the ten holes they cut in my walls until we know all the leaks have been addressed.  Oh well, maybe I can get some sleep in the dentist's chair.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Just Stop It

I can't believe I lost the entire month of September to technical difficulties, and now it looks like October will be more of the same.  I am dreading my dental appointment this week, not because I think it will hurt, but because the hygienists are trained to always ask each patient the same question:  "Do you have any vacations or anything fun planned for the (holiday, season, whatever)?"

I get angry every time they ask me that question, because I own four horses and three dogs that need round the clock care, everything is breaking down in my house, and my health is totally failing me.  What do you think?  Every six months I tell the hygienist that maybe one of these days I'll come into her office and my two oldest dogs will have passed on, and I'll be able to say that we have something fun planned, but vacations are out of the question until something radically changes in my life.  I keep hoping she'll stop asking me that question, but she just keeps forgetting that it doesn't apply to my lifestyle.

My son is planning his wedding.  They haven't chosen a date yet, but we keep hoping they will push it back as far as possible, because right now I cannot even fathom how we can pull off any kind of travel.  Our daughter usually house/pet sits for us when we are gone, but she needs to attend the wedding too.  Every time we turn around there's another problem that can't be ignored or postponed.  I don't remember life ever being this hard.  A part of me wants to find new homes for all the animals, put the house up for sale, and rent an apartment where I have absolutely no home repair, maintenance or improvement responsibilities, and take a very long nap.

It's hard to explain, but I feel like I have aged 30 years in the past six months, yet no one else around me is aging at the same speed, so I am suddenly incapable of handling my regular routine.  When I ask for help, people think I'm just being lazy because there is no outward sign of my decline.  Simple things like getting up to answer the phone or door are an ordeal for me.  Finding a place to sit where I am not in pain is difficult.  Standing or walking for more than a minute is difficult.  Trying to find a position to lie in where I'm not in pain is difficult.  Then there's my brain.  I keep forgetting that I'm physically challenged, so someone invites me somewhere and I accept, or someone asks for my help, and I agree to help, and then I'm like, "What the heck was I thinking?"  But I'm good for my word, so I follow through and suffer in silence, all the while telling myself, "This is the last time."

As you can imagine, having so many things breaking down and having so many repairmen coming and going day after day is a nightmare of pain for me.  They never arrive at the time they say they will, so I tell them to call when they are on their way, but they always forget, and then I have to chase the dogs around the house to put them away in a back room where they can't bite the repairmen.  If I put the dogs away and then the repairmen don't show up, I have to let the dogs out so that they'll stop barking and scratching the door, because I don't want to have to hire a door installer on top of everything else.

Each time I take the dogs outside, they poop, and then I have to stop everything I'm doing to clean up the poop so that the repairmen don't step in it and track it into my house.  I have to do a lot of work just to prepare for a repairman, so when they don't show up or show up late, they create more work for me because I have to do that work all over again right before they arrive.

This weekend our coffee maker broke.  It's only a few months old, I believe.  I tried not to care so that I wouldn't spontaneously combust.  My husband worked on it a while until he got it up and running again.  Then yesterday my husband informed me that he received a couple of notices that our credit card had been disabled.  At first, I was like, "Really?  What's next?  Problems are being thrown at us faster than we can deal with them.  This is so unfair."

Then it hit me that I was the main card holder, so my husband shouldn't be receiving messages at all about such things.  It turned out to just be a scam, so we dodged that bullet.  Not even an hour later I noticed that I was sweating profusely.  I thought I was sick, but then I realized that the house was hot and stuffy.  I checked the thermostat, which said it was one - backward seven degrees Celsius.  Seriously?  We just had a HVAC guy out to service all of our air conditioners.  How the heck can they be broken this fast?

I called my husband, because I couldn't think straight.  The dogs were running me ragged with their incontinent bladders and non-stop dookies, and the delivery men had me going in circles.  The stupid refrigerator repairman shipped four different parts to our house, so I was having to deal with daily deliveries and the dogs were going nuts.  My husband said to just wait until he got home from work to look at it.  I was like, "You don't want me to get the HVAC guys back out here?"

Nope.  After that, my husband remembered that it had been a while since he changed the batteries on the thermostats.  I ripped it off the wall, changed the batteries, and it worked!  Dodged another bullet.

Then I made the mistake of checking my email and there was this communication from some man saying that he was referred to my "business" by "John" (no last name) and that he would like me to call him next Wednesday...  I hit the spam button before reading any further.  Not only did I put an announcement on my website that I am out of business, but believe it or not, despite being the most common name in our country, I don't know anyone named John.  More scammers.  I am so sick of having my time wasted by these a-holes.  Get a legit job and stop trying to steal other people's hard earned cash.

By the time I got a chance to leave the house, it was late in the afternoon.  I barely had enough time to go to the feed store and the grocery store before I had to start my barn chores before the sun set.  Everything has to go like clockwork for me or something gets sacrificed.  My leg was feeling good, so I was confident that I could pull this off, but the ladies at the feed store screwed everything up for me, and I ended up having to go straight home and skip the grocery shopping.  Let me tell you, I am sick of eating crackers.  I am also sick of this feed store screwing up my plans.  This is not the first time this has happened.

You see, they got me on this program where I cut the UPC labels off of all my feed bags and collect them for free bags of grain, but every time I bring in my UPC labels, they forget to add those credits into my purchase.  My purchase involves having pallets of grain delivered to my house since I am incapable of lifting and carrying 50 and 80 pound bags of grain anymore.  As soon as I realized that they forgot my credit again, I said, "Just give the UPC labels back to me.  I'll use them next time."

Oooooh nooooo nooooo, we'll take care of that right now for you.  Next thing I knew they were sending me out back to go pick up my free bags of grain.  I was like, "But, but, but..."  I couldn't leave my truck parked at the grocery store with bags of grain in the bed, because they'd get stolen, and I wasn't happy about having to unload the bags myself once I got home.  Happens every damn time.  Next time I'm taping the UPC labels to the feed store cashier's forehead.

It's probably better that I couldn't get to the grocery store, even though I'm starving, because I always get a bagger who puts way too many items into one bag and then I can't lift the bag.  My husband usually does it for me, but if I'm alone, I have to rearrange all the stuff in the bags in order to make them light enough for me to lift.  I remember my mother complaining about that when she was in her 70s.  I didn't expect to be so weak and in so much pain in my 50s, but those are the cards I was dealt.

It's almost to the point where I'm trying to avoid people all together since they always do something to draw out my pain.  I find I have a lot more control over my life when other people are not around throwing obstacles in my path.  Although a lot of times animals are the ones acting as obstacles.  A couple of nights ago I was super sleepy, but needed to first go let the horses out of their stalls before going to bed.  However, I couldn't because there was a rattlesnake stretched across the length of my driveway and I couldn't get to the barn without stepping or driving over it.  I told it to go away, went back in the house, came out half an hour later, and it was gone.

I'm bummed that the leak detection people have to work in two out of three of my bathrooms because that means the only room in the house where I can keep the dogs is my sewing room, which is the only room in the house that doesn't have pee stains on the carpet... yet.  I'm expecting at least one dog to have a raging case of diarrhea, because I've got company coming and they are going to be sleeping in that room.  Yes, that's right, I said "company".  You can see why I'm so anxious to get my plumbing, broken walls, and refrigerator repaired ASAP.

I'm starting to get suspicious of this outfit, because they couldn't find the leak in the first two locations where they cut holes in my walls, so when they cut into a third location, I asked if they saw the leak.  The guy said, "We often don't see it.  The leak can be in a pipe under the house and the water goes into the ground for many years without the homeowners knowing it."

I was like, "Huh?  Then why did you keep moving to different locations when you didn't find the leak after each cut?"

I don't think they know what they are doing.  The only way I can measure their success is if I stop hearing the sound of water running through the walls throughout the night when all is said and done.  In the meantime, only three of the four parts for the refrigerator have been delivered, so I suspect that my refrigerator repairman will have to come back another day.  All of this was beyond ridiculous a long time ago, so I don't even know what to say at this point.

Gotta go break up a dog fight.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Long, Long, Winding Road

Yesterday was my fourth refrigerator repair appointment for this particular problem, and my sixth refrigerator repair appointment in the little over a year that we've owned the fridge.  I have to wait until next week for the parts to be installed.  Today was my second appointment to repair the leak in my pipes.  Two guys came in, cut up the walls in two bathrooms, including the back of a bathroom cabinet, which I was not warned would happen.  Cabinetry is expensive to replace.  Considering my streak of bad luck, do you want to take a guess at what happened?

They didn't find the leak in the locations where they cut, so they had to get more sensitive leak detection equipment out here to figure where they should have been cutting!  So all those cuts they did in the drywall and cabinet were unnecessary.  When it comes time to settle the bill, I will not be paying for the repairs of those walls and cabinet.  By the time they figured out where the leak actually was, it was too late in the afternoon for them to finish the job.

I had told them when they first arrived late that I did not want them putting me in a position where I was without water over the weekend, and they took that to heart, and rescheduled me for next week on the same day the refrigerator repairman is coming to supposedly fix my fridge.  I'll believe it when I see it.  My expectations are so low at this point that I'm expecting the worst, most inconvenient scenario so that I won't be disappointed with reality.

But what I really wanted to write about was what Rock did yesterday.  I was driving my Mule around the arena cleaning up manure, and Rock suddenly perked up when he saw the bucket I use to pour grain into the horses' feed barrels sitting next to me on the passenger seat.  He trotted over to my Mule and stuck his nose in the bucket.  I shooed him away and drove to the next pile of manure.  Rock followed.  He continued to follow me from pile to pile.  I decided to see if I could get him to chase me, because that would be an awesome way to exercise the horses. 

I took off at a high speed toward the far end of the arena where there were no poop piles, but Rock did not chase me.  Instead he moseyed on over to the closest pile of manure and waited for me to drive to it to clean it up.  He's so smart!  And lazy!  I drove over to him, cleaned up the manure, and he grabbed the bucket with his teeth and tried to take off with it.  I stopped him, put the bucket back in the passenger seat, and drove to the next pile of manure. 

Rock then walked right in front of my Mule, pressed his chest up to the bumper, reached over the hood through the front window hole, and tried to grab the bucket again while creating a barricade with his body and preventing me from driving away.  I picked the bucket up and put it over his nose, and he licked it clean.  The other horses came over to see what was going on, so I was surrounded and could not even back up in reverse.  I had to get out and use hand signals and verbal commands to direct traffic.  Once all four horses were peeled off the Mule, I finished my chores.

What 'cha talkin' 'bout, Willis?