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Richard Matheson is not my friend

I have to stop reading him before bed, at least. I picked up a used book at Goodwill a few weeks back that had I Am Legend as well as a bunch of shorter stories. Matheson’s stuff is very, well, dark. Not just in a scary monster sense but there’s an overall depressing grimness to it.  Anyway, I have to wonder if that is what is giving me some seriously messed up dreams the past few nights.

First it was demonic power tools. Apparently mine were possessed, and in the dream I had a big bag of white sage and was throwing handfuls into my tool chests trying to cleanse the tools. I also was involved in hand to hand combat with what I guess was a zombie woman wielding some sort of handheld rotary saw; she was hacking at me and I was stabbing her with my cordless drill and blood was flying everywhere. (This is how I could tell it was a dream – my drill sucks and would never be capable of such a feat. The battery goes dead within 2 minutes of use and the little 1/8″ drill bit that was in it would have snapped, I go through so many of those things I have to buy them in bulk. But I digress.)

Last night there were burning buildings, post-apocalyptic chaos, and other unpleasantness I no longer remember clearly in the light of day. I woke up at 2:45 AM, convinced I smelled the strong smell of sulphur (like a struck match, I could still smell it when awake) and thought there was an orange glow from the living room.  First I thought Joy was up and had lit a candle instead of turning a light on, and then I decided there was a fire, an investigation of the entire house revealed neither so apparently the orange glow was a hypnopompic hallucination.

Though when I mentioned all this to Joy this morning, she said she’d smelled something odd during the night as well. Weird. Maybe exhaust from an 18 wheeler or something got sucked in through the AC.

Maybe tonight I’ll try some lighter reading material. And no hot peppers as a late night snack.

His Nerdliness at your service

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Paddy strikes a pose.

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This face is what keeps us from murdering him some days. But who could resist it?

The horns (or small pointy ears) of a dilemma

So we have another houseguest for the weekend…

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He was brought in to the shelter as a stray on Thursday, some people found him and then their neighbor’s dog attacked him, the day before. He had no ID, no microchip, and a very badly swollen back end with multiple deep punctures.  In spite of his condition he was very good-natured. A coworker of Joy’s took him home Thursday night, and then Joy brought him home last night to keep an eye on him here.  By morning, we just couldn’t take watching him in so much pain with his left leg just dangling, not knowing how bad off he was, so we decided to go ahead and bring him in to our vet, and take responsibility for the cost of a visit and X-Rays.

The bad news? He’s got a broken femoral head – essentially the big ball at the top of the femur (upper leg bone) where the leg fits into the hip socket has been snapped clean off and displaced. He might have an abdominal hernia as well. It was so painful to get the X-Ray that the vet needed to anesthetize him to do so, which was totally necessary but ran our bill up close to three hundred dollars. The good news is that the prognosis is very good if he has surgery, something called a femoral head ostectomy (we’re very familiar with that, since Simon had two of those surgeries) he should recover use of the leg. The question is, where is the $1000-$1300 the surgery will cost supposed to come from?

We’d have to think hard if one of our own critters needed an expensive procedure like that, and this isn’t even our dog. For so many years we put the animals ahead of everything else and ran up five digits in credit card debt on various surgeries (and other calamities as well) and we’re finally getting all of that paid off and gone. On one hand it seems terribly irresponsible to take on something like this, especially now that we have a mortgage, and on the other hand it seems absolutely heartless to turn around and let him go down at the end of his three days for a fixable issue. He’s so sweet and everyone who meets him loves him, even the other animals here.

We’re hoping we can find a rescue or other organization willing to help him. We’re more than willing to foster him through his convalescence – even give him a home if a better one can’t be found (you know, one without six other animals including a drunken Clydesdale Paddy) – but we  just can’t justify overextending ourselves to save one dog…but I don’t know if we could live with ourselves if we didn’t, ether.

I guess the easy thing is to not get involved at all, but that would have meant a lonely, scared little puppy in a lot of pain sitting in a concrete pen for three days. I think we did the right thing, I am just not sure where to go from this point, surely there’s a way to make this work.

There is one other option other than surgery or euthanasia – letting the break heal unrepaired, with just pain management.  Chances are he would never regain use of that leg, and the broken ends of bone would cause chronic pain. I am not sure if that’s better than death, to consign a little dog who hasn’t even gotten started in the world to a life of chronic pain… is a life like that better than no life at all?

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Wild ride

Yesterday started off a bit rough; Joy had brought a little Chihuahua from the shelter home for the night as he was really tiny, and at 2:45 AM he decided he needed to go out and potty. I didn’t really get back to sleep for a long time after that so I was groggy and incoherent when I got up.

I rushed off  early as I had to meet with a new field tech who’d be riding with me for the day, and in my fuzzy discombobulated state I guess my inside voice/outside voice filter was not working up to par… as I was trying to make a left turn out of the parking lot, his iPhone made some sort of noise that sounded like an emergency vehicle, startling me, and out of my mouth came “What the F— was THAT?” Luckily he has a sense of humor and isn’t easily offended, and it was pretty funny, more so because the two days I’d worked with him before I had carefully minded my Ps and Qs, making the outburst that much more surprising, I imagine.

We had to drive all the way to Liberty, NC, which is southeast of Greensboro, then got roped into driving even farther to fix a computer that was completely down at an urgent care facility in Southern Pines, which, as I saw on Google Maps this morning, was just west of Fort Bragg, almost all the way to Fayetteville. By the end of the day I would have driven 513 miles, and coming back I was pretty wiped out. I dropped my passenger back off in Hickory and continued onwards towards home.

It had looked stormy for most of the afternoon, but hadn’t really rained much. As I got past Morganton, the sky really started to look funky, with patches of swirly, angry, greenish grey clouds interspersed with clear blue sky. It has stormed in the afternoons a lot lately so I didn’t really worry much, though the lightning was pretty spectacular.

Coming up on Marion, I started to hit these weird bands or patches of rain. It was quite odd, the sky was mostly clear — sunny, even, in spots — and you’d see this wall of water up ahead, drive into heavy, hard, almost sideways rain, then right back out of it within 50 feet.  There was a tractor-trailer in front of me, and with the heavier patches they’d hit his rig, swoop up over the hood, then come at me like an ocean wave.  Then we’d drive right back into sunshine. After about four of those,  I was marveling over how bizarre this was… and that’s right about when things got ugly.

Big streamers of leaves started blowing across the highway from the right… then twigs, then branches, then bigger branches and other debris. The trees were bent towards the highway and whipping around. Things started hitting the van, something that sounded like a softball sized rock crashed against the right cargo area window (I’m still amazed and grateful that it didn’t smash) and the sky was suddenly so dark it was like someone had flipped a light switch. Something big (clump of roots? part of a tree?) crashed down onto the highway in front of me then bounced across to the other side like a tumbleweed on steroids. As I watched tree branches and other stuff whip by the van at roof level, I had this surreal moment of fear, realizing that this is what it looks like on those storm-chaser videos. Was this actually a tornado coming at the highway, and if so, what the hell was I supposed to do?

The 18-wheeler had slowed down to a crawl with his hazard lights on, as I had, but he was still moving forward. My van was really getting buffeted but I thought it would be worse to stop than to keep driving. I knew a rest area was nearby, that had a fairly tall retaining wall on the right side of the access road, and I hoped I could get to and creep along that. All of this probably took less than a minute but seemed to stretch on forever. I got to the access road, the wind lessened a bit, so I decided to make for the brick rest area building itself. I was soaked just running the few feet into the building. The attendant inside says that they commonly hear reports of bad storms in the area I’d just driven through, something about the lay of the land in that spot funnels the wind straight across the highway.

When I came out of the building, the temperature had dropped at least 20-30 degrees from before the storm. I was worried the van was beat up, but it was still raining so figured I’d have to check later. No obvious dents and the window hadn’t cracked, at least. Frazzled and really exhausted now, I continued on. I hit more bad weather on I-26 coming past Long Shoals, and right in front of me a car hydroplaned and rear-ended an SUV, luckily I got around them. Then, only 8 miles from home, the skies opened up again and it rained so hard no one could see. After creeping along with my hazards on again, hoping the road was where I was guessing it was, I got fed up and pulled off to wait out the rain. I’d been on the road over 12 hours and I was DONE.

I was never so glad to finally pull into my driveway. We’re under a flash flood watch all day today with more storms moving through but at least I only have to go to Gastonia. It rained all night and covered the van with crud,so I can’t really check for damage that thoroughly… I think I see some scratches and possibly a roof ding but if I have to look that hard to find it, I’m thinking I don’t need to file a report. I checked the news sites today but there was no mention of any tornadoes spawned by the storms, so I guess it was just a really heavy line of wind.

Hoping for a much less eventful day today!

This is why he still lives, even after getting us up at 5 AM both days this weekend…

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Who can resist a big cuddly grinning ball of sunshine on their lap?