Driving through Sisterdale

They were paving i-10 in Boerne. All the exits were blocked. Traffic was backed up throughout the whole city. There was a line of 40 tar trucks all just sitting on the highway waiting and there was this bull dozer thing going around and oscillating the tar a bit in each truck trying to keep it from solidifying. I called my boss and asked if there was a way to get back to fredericksburg without using i-10. I could hear my coworker say in the background, “tell her to go through Sisterdale. She can make it that way.” So i did. And boy was that the way to go. Long winding one lane roads but way way better than being stuck in a steaming cloud of tar smoke waiting with everyone else like sitting ducks watching the bull dozer oscillate one truck’s contents and then the other’s. On the way back i got stuck behind a pickup driving 45 mph. I soon understood why. In the open bed of this truck was some kind of loosely bungeed appliance and a very excited border collie. The border collie would stand up on the side of the truck bed and hang over it every time a car was passing in the opposite direction. It kept getting up on two feet to look around and running from side to side of the bed of the truck. At once point it sat down facing me on the very edge of the open bed of the truck. It bounced as the truck went over a bump. It was a wonder the dog was still in the truck. I guessed that was why the man was driving 45 mph on a 75 mph road.

When he came to the turn for his ranch the man made eye contact stuck his arm out the window and smiling gave me a thank you wave. I think he was thanking me for not minding driving 45 mph or maybe he was just being friendly. Either way i both got a kick out of the hyper excitable dog and cemented reasons cashew will never be allowed to ride in any compartment outside a secured inner part of my vehicle.

Car Troubles

This is my new used car. Why do i have a new used car? Well that’s a long story. Basically, with the world out of car parts, materials to fix things, and the supply and demand situation with enterprise dictating that you have to reserve a vehicle way in advance and pay over 200 dollars a day for the use of it….it was cheaper and simpler to buy a new car than try to rent while waiting for parts to fix the old one. I had to get back to work and the car i was waiting on needed parts that had to be found, purchased, shipped, and installed. There was also the question of how much i wanted to fix it…so that it would run or so that it would run me back and forth from city to city daily for my job.

It was a regular day. I had finished all my work, stopped at the grocery in fredericksburg for mayonnaise, pasta, and chocolate…the three things the produce warehouse didnt have so i regularly purchased at the little health shop there before i left for home on mondays or tuesdays. I believe it was a monday night. I always fill the tank back up when it’s at a quarter. I meant to fill it but since the gas light wasnt yet on there was no indicator to remind me and it slipped my mind. There is no gas station between fredericksburg and comfort so once i realized my error i had two choices…continue to the truck stop in comfort and gas up there or turn around and go back to fredericksburg. I knew i could make it to comfort on what the dial said i had, though it would be breaking my rule to never leave a city without more than a quarter tank of gas. So i continued on. About ten minutes after this decision the car shook a little and then it was as if i was driving a plastic toy with no batteries. It looked like a vehicle, rolled like a vehicle, but absolutely nothing happened when you pressed the acceleration pedal. So coasting, i had no choice but to pull over. I pulled over and parked. I called my car insurance roadside assistance. This incident was the last straw after a long string of incidents following the admitted layoffs of all their roadside employees in 2020 when the pandemic began. I ended up cancelling my roadside assistance after this because its just non existent and they shouldnt be able to charge people for it. Firstly, you can no longer talk to a human. They have a robotic voice and you must do everything from file a claim to receiving updates on the website and via bot generated texts. Secondly, if you are crafty enough to obtain a human their customer service is just akin to sewage. Just raw toilet contents. They werent expecting to have to interact with people today and it shows, both in their deductive reasoning and cause and effect recognition skills and their ability to conversate without mocking or ridiculing the customer that is paying for the abuse, oh im sorry i mean service.

When i pulled over there were no lights on when i looked at the dash. I know this because i was actively looking for the source of the problem: why the car wouldnt go. Typically when the car ceases to work, the first investigatory step to take is consult the dash and see if any lights are on. Is it out of gas? Engine trouble? Oil change needed? Blown tire? So i do that and there’s nothing. I get out and walk around the car, kick all four tires, listen for air escaping. Nothing. The tires are good. This is an internal issue. Now i look at the gas situation. Am i out? The gas light is not on. It still says i have a little over an eighth of a tank. That should be enough to get to the truck stop. I mean its cutting it close but im not empty. While im staring at the blank dash that says only that i dont have my seatbelt on and the passenger airbag is off because no one is sitting there, two lights come on. A red oil can shaped like a genie lamp and a yellow icon of an engine. Im not delusional, these things were not on until i sat by the side of the road for a bit trying to figure this out. When the engine light came on i thought it best to turn the car off and minimize any damage i had already done. The oil light made sense. I hadnt had an oil change in a while and i was probably low on oil with all the driving i did, but i was worried for a particular reason. I had to exit the tractor supply parking lot in fredericksburg about a week ago and it exited onto a highway where cars were driving highway speeds. Now they were paving this road and they had new tar laid down and then they’d left a 3/4 ft gap between the new tar and the parking lot. It was a two inch step down to the dirt between the parking lot and new tar on the highway. My car might as well have had a wreck the way it entered that highway. I mean unless you are a stunt driver, how the heck are you supposed to make the transition without falling in the dirt gap? It was enough of a challenge to enter at speed but to leave starting from zero was not something i knew how to accomplish and so i didnt. I pulled over and examined the underside of the car. I didnt see any visible damage but it did not put my mind at ease. Its dark under the car and what can you really see peering in from the side. The mechanic later revealed there was not a drop of oil in the tank and the gas was also gone as well. Ultimately it took a lot of arguing for me to get the mechanic to believe me that there was an electrical problem because they assumed the indicators told the truth, that the gas icon, engine and oil icon must have all been on and i just drove it to its death for kicks and giggles. My dash said i had an eighth of a tank of gas and neither the oil nor the engine light were on until after i sat on the side of the road trying to figure out what was the problem. The mechanic’s right hand man asked me “where the f*ck was your husband and why the f*ck did he let you drive the car like this, like what the f*ck was he doing?” And i said, “no no, that’s not a thing nor will it be, i’ve been celibate for the last ten years and intend to stay that way until im 90.” This made the mechanics right hand man super angry, he took that statement more personal than i expected, as if i had insulted mankind and the rightful order of things. It was a pretty icy transaction after that. They treated me like i was a dumb bimbo and expressed the importance of putting gas in the car if i wanted to make it go. I held my tongue because they didnt charge me what they should have and because the mechanic was cindy’s friend and well respected in the community. I will not be returning. Im so f*cking tired of that question. When a man enters the grocery store i dont inquire as to his marital status and then ask him why the f*ck his wife let him come up in here without a list or any knowledge of the layout of the store. I dont launch into a long winded monologue about why men shouldnt be allowed to do solo grocery trips because they botch everything up and dont know what theyre doing. I just help them. I dont accept the “if you dont want to be property of your husband move back to the city” stance that i encounter with the more old fashioned faction of the population out here at times. I recently found a black and white photograph of the first single woman homesteader to stake a claim on land out west during the time of the Oregon trail. She traveled there, built her own cabin, planted her own food, raised her own animals, and married for companionship 10 years later. So dont tell me this is a new concept. Its been around over 100 years. Yall we cant all be finches and sparrows. You gotta throw a flamingo in there every so often to keep it interesting. Diversity. Its good for you.

So now i call my insurance and i say im stranded and ask for somebody to come take me to the truck stop to pick up oil. The insurance says they will send me someone with oil and i will just have to pay for it. Great. They call back half an hour later and tell me this service is not available in my state. Let me say my phone began on 29 percent battery and my insurance company ran it down calling and calling back to tell me they couldnt help or they couldnt find anybody or they couldnt provide something and finally my phone was at 6 percent. I requested a tow. Over the course of an hour and a half they called me every thirty minutes to tell me they still couldnt find me a tow but i was welcome to leave the vehicle if i just put it in neutral and left it unlocked. I explained that it could not be put in neutral (apparently theres a way even when its locked up but its not a way they were interested in teaching me at the time they just said turn the car on and put it in neutral…which ended up being a thing i could not achieve once the car was turned off). I told them its stuck in park. I told them the car automatically locks if the key fob gets twenty feet away from the car and i only have one key and was not leaving it in the car unlocked on the side of the road with all my stuff in it. I told them the other reason i couldnt leave the car was because i was in the middle of nowhere and it was a ten mile walk to the nearest business. She said, “ma’am, i dont know why you’re upset. I’m still not understanding how you needing a tow equals you not being able to go home. I already told you you can leave the car. We don’t need you to be at the car for us to tow it.” I said, “BECAUSE THE CAR THAT NEEDS TOWED WAS MY RIDE HOME!” I tried to explain to her that in the middle of nowhere you cant just hail a taxi but she wasnt getting it so i gave up on making her understand. I needed to wait for the wrecker because the wrecker would be my makeshift taxi back to civilization. I dont know why that was such a hard concept to grasp. I told her i was in the middle of nowhere between cities where there were no businesses. Even if this person had never been to such a place, im sure they would have seen the concept on television. I tried to hitchhike for about an hour with my thumb up beside the road. Not one taker. Nevermind that it was a dangerous idea cuz you dont know who is going to stop…i couldnt even get to that part. Nobody stopped. I had to pee something fierce so i used my knife to cut the top off a gallon jug of spring water, emptied it in the grass, got in the car, used my emergency roll of toilet paper, and peed in the half of a gallon jug, then emptied it in the grass. I gave up on keeping the chocolate and mayonnaise from melting. At this point my battery was at 6 percent and i started thinking i should tell someone where i am so they know where to look for me if i dont show up to work tomorrow. I texted my boss. I told him the car was dead and i was stranded on 87 traveling southbound 9.5 miles from comfort. I told him my battery in the phone was on 6 percent, the insurance wasnt being helpful arranging a tow, and i just wanted somebody to have my location, and if i didnt show up to work tomorrow, thats probably where i still was. My boss, bless his heart, got in his car and came to get me. I had to tell him to turn around because at this point a couple things the insurance asked me to do let me know putting oil in the car wouldnt fix this, the engine was busted, and then i really needed to wait for a wrecker because it wasnt a situation where my boss could just drive me to LOVES truck stop to pick up oil and drive me back to the car. But he is a good boss and if you were stranded he’d come get you, any one of us, and that’s why i work for him. This privately owned company thinks of people as people, not as numbers on a page.

Now the sun had set. I started thinking about getting back in the car. I was in a less populated area than where i lived and the cars came once in a while now…not too many people on the road. I started thinking that i would want to be in the car if a mountain lion was going to come out and hunt for dinner. So i put my things back in the dead car and climbed in. It was quiet. Dark. My battery was at 6 percent. Luckily i had the camping lantern i use to get from the house to the car every morning with me. I turned that on. It was 9 pm when my insurance called again, my battery at 6 percent, to tell me they couldnt arrange a tow, that all the services they used were closed, and they would try again in the mornjng. I was like, gee i hope you’re more effective and useful in a collision situation than you are at roadside because if this is the service across the board, what the heck do i pay you for? I got upset with her that they had run down my battery and wasted all this time when i could have been calling friends and trying to arrange something and i had someone coming to get me but i told him no because i was waiting on them to arrange the wrecker. She said with about 115 percent attitude and sass in her voice, “well you are welcome at any time to arrange your own tow and just keep the receipt so we can reimburse you later.” I was like, mind blown. First of all, if that was an option why didnt we do that in the first place? Second of all, if you’re telling me you cant find a tow and i can, what does that say about your abilities and skill set? What are you for then? The first 24/7 tow service i called answered, confirmed they could get me, took my location, and said they were on their way. He came to get me and i hitched a ride back to my town in the wrecker. My friend Cindy arranged for her friend Leo with a mechanic shop in my town to accept the car. The wrecker put my car on his truck and we set out back towards food, electricity, and lights. Away from mountain lions and the absence of a toilet. Boy was i glad to be heading back towards home. At this point the dogs had been locked in their crates with pee pads since 4:17 am. i was thankful they at least had pee pads but i was not happy about that. I had to get home. I would have to come to work saturday to make up for tuesday because tuesday i would have to spend obtaining a car. The mechanic in my town was pretty sure i busted the engine and it would be a while before he could get it running again. The guy driving the wrecker had a good conversation with me about God and faith and timing. He shared some about miraculous things in his life and i shared some about mine. You never know when you’re going to end up in the right place at the right time to say something someone needed to hear. My friend Cindy arrived and said i could borrow her car if i drove her back to comfort. We let the dogs out, i put them back in, i drove Cindy back to comfort and then took her car back to my town. It was very generous of her because there was a waiting list for enterprise cars. You couldnt, on the spot, rent one.

Not sure where to put this tidbit so i’ll just leave it here. My insurance company came back and tried to deny covering the cost of the tow because i sent them a screenshot of a cell phone texted invoice from the wrecker and they wanted a faxed paper one. I said he wasnt walking around in the wrecker with a printer and fax machine so no i dont have that invoice on paper. Then i launched into the story of how they ran down my phone battery to 6 percent, never arranged a tow, and left me stranded for four hours until it became dark and i had to arrange my own tow at 9:30 at night. So i said they wouldnt have to go with a wrecker with a cell phone invoice if they had found one themselves at all in those four hours they wasted. They said they needed an itemized list of all the things he had charged me for and all they had was one lump fee. I answered, “well i could be wrong but i think thats the one lump fee for loading, driving, and unloading my car from fredericksburg to center point.” She said, “right, and we need to see his fee for the loading, a separate fee for the driving, and another fee for the unloading.” Apparently they wanted to pay for the miles driven but not the loading and unloading. The representative said they would pay for 100 of the 145 dollars to tow it.

So, Monday night i spent eating the bag of oven french fries i had picked up from the dollar general right before they closed and drinking the diet dr pepper i was trying to use to calm my nerves. I then began formulating my plan. Tuesday morning i called my mechanic in austin and a male family member and picked their brain about car vocabulary and car buying phrases like “pre purchase inspection”. I ate one banana and then i set about finding a mechanic i trusted in kerrville. That proved to be difficult and ultimately half of the reason i left kerrville to find a car in the end. I couldnt find one i trusted but i found one that would agree to perform a pre purchase inspection and had a five star review and a bunch of satisfied customers. He seemed like a good dude. He had a very small operation, one employee besides himself, and he looked like santa claus. He was an old german man with an inviting smile. I was skeptical of all humans so it took me a while to warm up to him but ultimately he was straight with me even when it was his friends and business associates he was assessing and he gave me solid advice. On top of that he refused to charge me a penny for either inspection. So i decided if i had any trouble with the car i bought id bring it to him as a thanks…but that didnt work out because of a condition of a lifetime warranty on the engine and transmission i signed in the end that says i will have it serviced by the dealer every time the little booklet says i need to. But ultimately he was buds with the car salesman across the street and he bought parts from the ford dealer i was looking at the other car at and still he was straight with me and told me the four major things wrong with his friend’s car and told me that when the ford dealership didnt want me to take the car to him to get it looked at they were probably hiding something. They did let me take the car over across the street in the end but they had one of their teenage employees drive it there. They didnt trust me to do it. He stayed with me the whole time and tried to make awkward small talk. The mechanic said it was the cleanest car he’d seen. I was surprised by this answer since they hadnt wanted me to inspect it and was somewhat worried about him buying parts from ford, would he be telling me the truth…. I also wanted to speak with him without the ford employee teenager watching his every word so i sent the teen and the car back to the ford dealership and said id be right behind him. Then i asked the mechanic his full opinion and he said its a clean car. No major problems, never would believe there were 81,000 miles on it. Then he told me for the mileage what they want for it is too high, which i knew already according to kelly blue book. I would have to negotiate them down. The ford people were the slimiest salesmen bullies there must be in existence and i was worried about the likelihood of me winning a negotiation with them. These people were cut throat, mean, and just pretty much straight liars. They told me ppi’s were not allowed and then they made a special allowance for just me just this one time but acted like i was a naughty school child in time out for asking for such a thing. The woman trying to sell me the car flat out said, “so you want it?” And i said “its a nice car it drives real smooth and i love subarus but im not going to want the car today.” And she said, “what? Why?” And i said, “well i just couldnt in good conscience buy a used car without having a mechanic i trust take a look at it.” She asked, “what do you think a mechanic is going to find? I mean i told you its a good car no problems, what do you think a mechanic is going to find that we didnt find?” I said, “no offense but you’re selling me the car. You have motive to omit negative information if there is any. I cant just take your word.” She put on her most sincere disappointed face and it was so dramatic that it should have been criminal to do it and she said, “well i think that is really sad, im serious, i really do. I think that is just really sad that that is the way you view the world.” Sigh. You can buy a car as a single woman. You can. It can be done. But its exhausting. And sometimes i think it would be a whole lot easier to just bring a male with me because something happens when they see a single young female by themselves. They’re like sharks that smell blood in the water and they begin circling. You’ll spend your entire day beating them about the nose with boat oars until they realize you’re not an easy snack and back off. They dont expect you to have any brains, sense, or knowledge…so you have to do research ahead of time and pick mechanics brains and put a plan together and such. Well, i did want that subaru, but ultimately i knew that woman and both of her male colleagues that were also trying to get me to buy the car had spent over an hour bullying me and wearing me down, including forcing me to park the car back on the display when we were done with the test drive and then ridiculing my driving and parking skills telling me i drove like a timid granny during the test drive and i needed to go back to drivers ed to learn how to park the thing on the display and i said why dont you do it, you know how you would like to display the car and she refused. Thats a tactic. They were wearing me down and bullying me so i’d sign whatever they put in front of me in the end and go home feeling crap about myself. I didnt see any negotiation on price going my way with these people. They were agressive. I needed a different scene and new people. I wasnt going to win that. So i made them sweat for 45 minutes while i sorted my finances and talked logistically about a plan. I made them sweat because theyd made me park the car on the display and i felt i should even the score a bit in case i ended up coming back for the subaru. So then i walked in and told them the mechanic said it was a fairly good car but i was going to go up to boerne to check out a nissan over there and compare the two. The lady said, “you’ll be back. You’re not going to like that car as much as you do this one.” Thats when i knew i couldnt buy a car from her. It would kind of kill my soul to do so. There are car salesmen and then there are car salesmen. And she is a car salesman. So i went up to boerne and looked at the nissan. They were having a lawsuit over faulty transmissions and my first question was is that the transmission in this car. They didnt answer the question but skirted around it so i knew the answer. There was a problem with every kind of car i looked at and researched and at some point i had to accept there are no sure thing cars out there anymore. My last honda had shrapnel in the airbag that could have killed me but it defected and didnt go off, thank God. The Kia ended up part of a lawsuit over engine fires. The subaru had a host of problems listed on the internet and the nissan had a lawsuit over the transmission. Every other car i researched was the same. The nissan came with a lifetime warranty for engine and transmission issues. They didnt fix it in the newer model cars. They continued using it, they simply drew up a contract that says we fix it when it breaks as long as you own the car. But i knew better. I wasnt born yesterday. There would be a host of things i could do or not do as the buyer to make that contract null and void and i wanted it in writing what those things were and as long as i did a, b, and c, they owed me that lifetime warranty and there was nothing else unlisted that could render the contract null and void. It took me two hours and at one point i got up and left, and i wasnt bluffing i told them they could take their car and shove it and i meant what i said. I had resigned myself to walk away at 9 pm at night after 12 hours of car shopping with no car because they were being slimy car salesmen and i wasnt going to sign stupid shit, i had a list of demands and if they couldnt meet them they could find themselves a new owner for that car because i didnt need it that bad. My friend cindy let me borrow her car indefinitely, as long as i needed to find another car, and so i kept that in mind. Ultimately the thing that helped me in the end was i had had 1 banana all day. It was 9 pm. I was so hangry at that point that i was telling it like it was and sparing nobody’s feelings. I had fire in my eyes and venom in my words and i had no problem spelling it out in plain english. The salesman had a manager and the salesman is a well groomed young attractive man that the company sets out there to hook a buyer and he talks all nice and markets the car and reels you in and then you sit down in a chair and a middle-aged greasy haired fat man in a suit with this sly grin and amusement in his eyes comes and invades your space. He hangs on your chair and gets right up close to you and just invades space. He hands you a pen and demands repeatedly that you sign sign sign sign sign, just sign. All three of the people present talk at you at once and the big greasy guy lingers in your space and says again and again, pointing at the page with nothing but the vehicle description and a drawn on x and lign, says to sign here, sign here and we will get the process started. I first moved the man out of my space by letting him know if he moved any closer we’d be wearing the same outfit and he could kindly remove himself from where i was sitting. He backed up a few steps. I told them i wasnt going to be signing anything while they were all talking at once, that was a sell tactic to confuse and stress the buyer into doing whatever they wanted and i could smell them from a mile away so they could just cut it out and be straight with me. Then i addressed the greasy guy with his drawn on line and the paper and let him know that i wouldnt be signing my name to a paper with nothing written on it. What was on the paper? The picture and description of the car and a drawn line next to an x. I wasnt accustomed to signing papers they could write anything on later. If i was going to sign something the thing would need to be typed up on computer in a professional font, nothing handwritten or informal, and it would have to say something because i would need to read in plain sight what i was signing i wasn’t just going to be taking their word as to what the heck it said or was going to say. If they werent trying to pull shady shit they would have no problem with it saying upfront in plain type what it was going to say and as for getting the process started, i was in no hurry, i had time, and i’d wait for them to type it. I told them, “if you’re going to sell me the car then sell me the car but dont hand me a blank piece of paper with a line drawn on that says nothing and expect me to sign.” The young man with the 100 dollar shave and hair blow out said, “ma’am, we want your business, not just for this transaction but for life. We wouldn’t try to pull one over on you because we want you to be so satisfied that we have your business for life.” I crossed my arms and swung my foot raising an eyebrow, “they all say that.” He looked astonished. He said, “what i just said? Really? They all say that?” I looked at him, surprised he needed me to elaborate, “the thing about wanting to sell me multiple cars, no just this one, but every car i buy from now on, my lifelong business, yeah, they all say that. Its a sell tactic, a strategy.” He fiddled with something on the desk and stated, “i guess they all have the same training.” I was amused. I was beginning to realize there was a possibility that he really did think nissan had a much better approach than ford and that made him less of a snake for being a car salesman. Sorry. You’re all salesman. If i hadnt been so hangry i might have cared more about the feelings of the people i was dealing with but i was in full blown hangry bitch meltdown nuclear mode and anyone in between me and the obtaining of food was getting verbally laid out at this point. They tried to drag the process out saying they had to go talk to people and okay things and see if this was okay and that was okay and i asked them if it was their first day selling a car, if they werent sure of what their policy on things were ahead of time and who it was in what department that they were going to go consult to see if they could take a down payment and a cashier’s check rather than do financing. That should be a yes or no question. This shouldn’t be a prolonged research project to see if they can allow this. I said that they were just stalling so i’d give in to their demands which was not going to happen and i wanted to know when they were going to address my demands for things typed up and not written, a bullet point list of the things i had to do to keep the lifetime warranty on engine and transmission valid, a bullet point list of everything covered in the five year warranty and any buyer requirements to hold onto this, and our agreement in writing that i would be paying for the car with down payment and cashier’s check and not financing. They eventually came to some ridiculous compromise that they would write that i had three days to bring the cashier’s check and if i did they would cancel the financing they signed me up for. I told them i would agree to this on the condition that they put all my demands i had written on a piece of paper in writing and had me sign them and their finance person that was drawing them up sign them. So they did. The greasy man then whisked the papers away and put a bunch more papers in front of me and i said “you’re going to give me a copy of those papers i just signed to keep right?” And he said yeah yeah we’ll get you a copy. And i said good you get me a copy of those papers i just signed to hold in my hand and i’ll fill out the rest of these. We had another hour long standoff. At this point everyone had gone home so i knew the “people” they were going to consult as to whether they could meet my demands werent there. In the end i guess they wanted to go home too because the finance guy came and shook my hand, handed me the papers i asked for, and finished walking me through the rest, which i insisted upon reading even though the greasy guy wanted to give me his own summary of what each one said. The young man with the pretty hair and shaped beard stated repeatedly that he was not involved in any of this and i told him to stop squirming because i didnt blame him but i was also not born yesterday and they could sell me the car or not but i wasnt going to take their word on things without it in writing. I watched his face oscillate between amused, nervous, and trying on big boy shark pants throughout the process. The guy in a dress shirt was just mad he had to stay late and come out of his office and get his hands dirty in a deal that wasnt his job to close. The guy in the suit was just greasy as **** and had probably lost his soul long ago. The guy with the poofy hair wasn’t dead inside and was still learning to sell cars as he forgot what to say a couple times and the greasy guy had to remind him of how to start the process. He seemed a bit thrown off by the fact that this business deal started with him waiting for me to come out of the ladies room. I had driven a long way and wanted to pee and they wanted to do some ritual meet at curb shake hand thing and i didnt do that because by golly i was going to pee, out of my way. So the day was going strangely for the young man. I wondered what kind of a person could do this job. It didnt seem like a person with empathy would do well here. If he was a decent person i hoped this was just a stepping stone to college and if he wasnt then he was right where he was supposed to be. Not all car salesman are like this. Sometimes the “as is” car salesmen are straight forward with you because what they are selling is “as is” and they can afford to be. But when buying from a dealer it is best to be hangry because that way they cant manipulate your emotions or confuse you and you wont have to channel much effort into achieving max bitchiness. The one banana thing was a good idea. At the first lot i set off the panic alarm and revealed i didnt know how to turn on and off cars with a push button and no key. At the ford place i just was outmatched with aggressive bitchy energy and wouldnt have won that argument. The ford people would have told me the sky was purple and held me hostage in an office until i agreed with them. But by the time i got to boerne i was hungry and angry enough and had already figured out the push start situation and managed to not set off the panic alarm upon arrival. I bought a car at 9:30 pm with everything i wanted in writing in hand. They then insisted i take it off the lot immediately. I told them i couldnt as i had my friend cindy’s car. They refused to keep it and decided to park it outside the gate. I called my friend cindy. She was awake. I had to come get her in comfort and she drove me back in her car to boerne so i could drive my new car to center point. When the young one parked the car at a stop sign outside the nissan gate i said, “wait a minute. People are going to see this a mile away and know its out of place. Also cant you get a ticket for parking directly in front of a stop sign?” The guy said, “i have an idea.” He parked the car up on the nissan display platform outside the gate. It would just be viewed as another displayed car but i would take the key and come back for it. I said, “good thinking.”

Two days later i came back to boerne mid-day which meant staying at work till 8:30 pm to get my work done, but i came back to boerne and walked into nissan and handed them their cashier’s check. I wanted to know how they were going to handle getting me the title and registering the car and all the logistics so we talked through that and then they asked rather exhaustedly if there was any other paperwork i wanted. I told them i wanted a receipt, and a type statement that i was fully paid up on the car and owed nothing. The finance guy typed it up and them the young guy walked me out. He didnt seem sure how to end the transaction after asking me if i liked the car so i put my hand out to shake his and told him to have a good day. Then i walked to my car, got in, and drove away. I will not see the last of them. As a condition of my lifetime warranty i have to go see them every 5,000 miles for service (which was paid for in the service package…also a condition of holding onto the warranty) so i will see plenty of them, but nowadays all cars break and i’d rather have one we’re acknowledging is going to break and they have to fix when it does rather than it be my responsibility logistically and financially. So i paid the mechanic to fix the old car. When the parts came in he finally did. Its back on my land now. I will soon sell it and put that money back into the stock market. Its a world i’d rather not dabble in. I prefer concrete things that i understand. And the money is not my money. Im grateful to a couple relatives that put it into the market for me in case of emergencies/retirement and were willing to let it be used for this. Once i get what i get for the old car i’ll continue putting a portion of my paycheck back into the stock market as long as im making full time hours. I feel dedicated to putting back what they saved for me because it was for retirement and i dont want to take advantage. It’ll be like a car payment but without interest. And that is the story of how the old car broke, the new car was found and bought in 12 hours, i made up for taking tuesday off by coming to work on saturday, the old car got fixed, i now have 17,000 miles on a vehicle vs 119,000, the phone charger in it works, and i learned its important to be hangry when negotiating.

The Agaritas are Blooming

Last year there were no agarita berries. The bushes bloomed and then we had a hard icy freeze. They didnt bloom again. This year the bushes are covered in an excess of butter yellow flowers and im hoping the weather stays nice for them because it would be wonderful to get a good crop of vitamin laden berries this year.

Sili and Cashew

i’ve been putting off writing about Sili and Cashew’s illness because it is still very raw. I began transitioning them back onto dry food last night and they’ve only been allowed outside for four days now. They’ve been off the coconut oil and pumpkin for two days. In my mind i don’t think i’ve yet let myself believe we made it and are out of the woods for fear of jinxing the situation. Instead i just try not to give voice to it or focus too much on it and count the passing days with no or lessening symptoms and live in fear of the resurgence or appearance of new ones. Every eye booger, every sneeze….i’ve become over paranoid and obsessed and im constantly looking for the beginning of the backslide and waiting ready with coconut in hand to treat, treat, and treat again until this evil thing is beaten into oblivion. Its been a traumatic beginning to the year. I refer everyone back to my experience based theory that black eyed peas do not stave off bad luck.

I will start at the beginning. My dogs are unvaccinated. They never leave my property. Therefore i dont worry about illnesses they could catch at doggy daycare or if i were to board them. I worry about illnesses they are likely to catch on my property from the wildlife we have. Thats why they are always vaccinated for rabies. I keep up with rabies, heartworm, and flea prevention but have never been super concerned about other shots because where would they be getting these illnesses from and also i was not rolling in the dough when they wanted upwards of a thousand dollars for both dogs’ annual vet visits, mandatory tests, and flea and heart-worm prevention. If i had gotten the shots i didnt we wouldnt have been able to pay the bills. At the time the vet matter of factly asked me if i didnt care about my dogs, if i thought i should have my dogs if i couldnt afford to give them every shot recommended, and if i would like their help in finding a person to rehome them with by putting a description and picture of them on their bulletin board. When you have a family who cant afford to give their kids shots at the doctor’s office do you suggest a payment plan or do you hand them adoption forms and call a social worker to take the kids to a group home? Its just ridiculous to me that their first go to notion when i say im strapped for cash so id like to focus on the bare essentials rather than all the bells and whistles money can afford is “lets take your dogs away”. I havent had a great history with vets and so i dont trust them. Once a year i buy heartworm and flea preventative in bulk and so they must be vaccinated then or the vet will not give me the medication, so they get a shot, but i am aware some of these are rendered useless if you dont come back for shot two or shot three, which i dont because again, the little cash register gremlins want money. Everything is an arm and a leg. You can’t walk out of that place without having spent over a month’s budget for gasoline. Hundreds of dollars, sometimes thousands. Every little thing costs money. If you want them to check the waxy buildup in your dog’s ear that’s an extra fee because you requested it examined. It seems to me like it should be included in the “annual physical examination” part of the visit. They ask you all sorts of questions like “do you want your dog’s anal glands expressed” or “do you want their toe nails clipped” and if you say yes that’s an extra fee too. It does not feel like they are on the same team as i am and i maintain that has everything to do with their “expense sheet breakdown” and the way they speak to me. So no, when they tell me its imperative that my dog have this and that i dont believe them because they have a history of convincing me the dogs need pointless things so they can follow their protocols and charge me. Like, when i tell them i give the dogs heartworm preventative every month on the same day and make them take it and then sit in their crates for four hours afterwards while i keep an eye on them so i know nobody threw it up….and i tell them there’s no way they have heartworms, and they test them anyways, and come back and tell me there’s good news and they’ve discovered the dogs have no heartworms and then want 25 bucks per dog for that fascinating revelation. No, them and i are not friends. But if you had shown me a video of what was to come i would have ordered all the vaccinations regardless of cost or exam room manner. Some things are just not worth the money saved to witness.

My boss told me of a low cost clinic day where a vet in fredericksburg gives out rabies shots once a year at a county building. Everyone comes and stands in line. You pay cash and for ten dollars your dog can get a rabies shot. No exam fee. No extras. No argument about whether i really watched my dogs take the pill and made sure they didnt throw it up for four hours every month. It sounded good. I took 20 dollars cash, two leashes, poop bags, and both dogs. We got there early, stood in line with what began as 10 dogs and ended up probably 100 by the time we left. While i was waiting one dog pooped on the floor and another dog threw up on the floor. The owner cleaned up the poop with one of my poop bags and the vet staff cleaned and sanitized the throw up. The dog who threw up was pulled out of the line and taken to the side. He was given a shot immediately and hurried out the door. I didnt think anything of it. I thought maybe he had an upset stomach. The girls were amazingly well behaved. They got their shot pretty quickly and we went to the car and drove home. Around three days later Cashew came over to my rocking chair and sneezed maybe 12 to 15 times. It was excessive and i didnt know what to do to help her so i stood up but ultimately just watched until it subsided. Then i petted her. She seemed fine after that. So, i didnt think anything of it. The following night i was wiping the chicken shit from the bottom of my shoes on the side of the stairs before entering the house when Cashew grabbed a big piece and chewed it. I was screaming at her to drop it but she did no such thing. She swallowed and i thought, “oh here we go again. You learn nothing, nothing!” Sure enough. Vomiting and diarrhea, vomiting and diarrhea. I broke out the old raw organic coconut oil and tried to keep it to myself when i was at work that my nights were spent going through it with this dog who was messing all over the floor of my one room house and we were now out of paper towels and i was using toilet paper and plastic gloves to mop it up and i was almost out of spray and there was just shit and puke everywhere and i hadnt slept in 3 days. It occurred to me that the coconut oil should have worked by now on day 3. There must have been some kind of super bug in that chicken shit because she was really letting this thing lick her and usually 24 hours of coconut oil should have done the trick and taken care of it pretty much. On day 4 i was in tears. I was at a loss about what to do and i was considering taking her in to the vet for antibiotics. I came home, took her out, she pooped, and it was solid. From then on cashew’s poops were solid and she didnt vomit for a week and a half afterwards. I praised the Lord it was over because i was beginning to lose my mind from sleep deprivation and worry. Just as the one dog seemed to get well, my other dog Sili fell sick. Now, sili hadnt eaten any chicken shit so when she fell sick i started to realize that i may have gone about this whole thing the wrong way. What if this was infectious…viral? What if this had nothing to do with the chicken shit, which im sure didnt help, but now in all likelihood was not the original culprit? Im going to note that a day before Sili fell sick she sneezed about 7 times standing next to the rocking chair, and then never again. Because the dogs only sneezed on one occasion each, when the vet asks me later if the dogs have been sneezing i say no. It didnt stick in my memory and i didnt recall it until i had gone back through the details. When i did realize they had initially had a sneezing fit i called the vet and updated them. The vet did not take this info into account and seemed rather unbothered by the absent information i was providing.

When Sili’s symptoms were called to my attention i was awoken from a dead sleep by the sounds of vomiting and when i opened my eyes i saw sili’s face swollen to high heaven and her squinty eyes peeking out from swollen skin folds. Her head was enormous. She was making a huff noise when breathing. She was puking everywhere. She had diarrhea like Cashew had. There were so many things going on at once. I immediately gave her a childrens chewable benadryl, unsure what was causing the swelling of her face. I gave it to her with coconut water, hoping it would settle her stomach and keep her from chucking it up. Sili now had a thick green glob of mucus coming from her right eye. I put cashew in the crate to get her away from a probably infectious mess. I then cleaned the mess while googling her symptoms. I typed in all her symptoms and google gave me the word “distemper”. I did not spend hours scouring the internet for things to imagine my dog had. I typed in her symptoms and google gave me the word distemper. Before that day i had no idea what distemper was. The more i read about it, the more it seemed consistent with what i was observing in my dogs. I didnt like the written trajectory or progression of the thing and there was no known treatment, just symptom management. I wondered how the heck Cashew had gotten through it but i reminded myself that Cashew is a working breed dog and she doesnt say boo about pain. She may still have been rather uncomfortable and i wouldnt have known it since with her i can only observe visible and not behavioral symptoms because her breed inherently hides pain to throw off predators when they are weak or injured and in charge of a flock of sheep. I threw sili in the trunk and drove her an hour to the nearest all night emergency vet.

When i arrived i called ahead and asked them how they wanted me to bring her in…through the back door, carried in a towel, what? They said, “just walk her in.” I said, “but she’s showing signs of distemper, i mean she’s probably infectious.” The receptionist became concerned and went to get a vet. The vet laughed and told the receptionist that she probably didnt have distemper and told her to instruct me to just bring the dog in normal. So i did. Nobody was there at 3:30 am. i brought the dog in and they took her. I had to fill out a ton of paperwork, including if i wanted my dog given cpr in the event of sudden unexpected death. I did.

They called me back to sit in an exam room with her and wait for the vet. They had weighed her and took her temperature and probably other stuff. I told the receptionists and the vet tech everything i could think of to mention and they wrote it all down in the file. I imitated the noise she was making when breathing. I told them about the facial swelling, the squinted eyes, the green thick goo in her right eye… i told them about the vomiting and diarrhea. I told them i had taken them to a low cost vaccination event with hundreds of other dogs. I told them both my dogs were unvaccinated beyond rabies and i told them a dog had thrown up and been pulled from the line while we were there. I told them about Cashew and how i had attributed it to the eating of chicken poop but that sili now had every one of cashew’s symptoms plus a couple new ones…i told them i was unsure about face swelling with cashew because her fur was long…would i have noted it? I wasnt looking for it…at that time i didnt know i needed to be looking for anything. I told them her sister had symptoms first and that they were too similar to be unrelated. I told them everything except the sneezing, because at that point i didnt remember it. They seemed upset i kept referring to cashew as sili’s sister as they were not biologically related nor were they litter mates. I reminded them that the dog in question was 7. It was not as if i had made them believe they were drinking the same breast milk in implying they were related. I was their mother, they were both my children. Therefore, they were sisters. Its called adoption.

the first thing the vet did was assure me i was being ridiculous and paranoid. As i heard the beginning of their speech i remember thinking, “okay, they’re stupid, they’re not taking this seriously at all, i need to go and pay for yet another vet now, explain this all again, and get them some real help.” As she spoke she started listing the reasons it couldnt be distemper. She seemed very sure and given the prognosis with distemper i wanted to believe her. I relented and was persuaded that i was wrong. She said if they had been vaccinated at all they couldnt get it and they had been vaccinated when they needed heartworm meds and when i had to board them to go to a wedding three years ago. She said they werent puppies so they couldnt get it because this really only ailed puppies. I later learned it only ails puppies because they havent had their vaccinations yet. Its not as if adults cant get it, its just theyre usually fully vaccinated against it by adulthood. Understand me, i went into that vet owning it. I f*cked up. Help me. Their response to me was “you’re being ridiculous and here’s why.” They said they scraped her eyeball and there was no mucus present and i told them i knew that because she wiped it in the trunk of the car. They said she would have mucus all over her eyes and nostrils if she had distemper. They said she would be sneezing and coughing. I made the coughing noise they were doing for her. She shrugged. She said, “i didnt see her doing that here.” I said, “she was doing that in the house before i threw her in the trunk and drove her here.” The vet didnt seem to believe me. She didnt see it with her eyes so she didnt write it down. The receptionist told me she was surprised i came here as most people read the reviews and then dont come. I thought that a strange thing to say to a potential customer in the waiting room while they filled out paperwork. It was just the nearest emergency vet and we lived far away. I didnt have much choice about the place with her head all swelled up like that did i? The vet said she was going to give her a steroid shot and prescribe 9 doses of chewable Benadryl 8 hours apart and if the steroid worked it was an allergic reaction heading in the direction of anaphylaxis. And if it didnt help we would reconsider things like distemper. I was supposed to take the day off work and monitor any change in symptoms. I did so. I also got the specific kind of benadryl that the vet wanted her to have…unflavored. They refused to keep her while i ran to get the benadryl and they implied i could have my car broken into and my dog removed from my care if i left her in the car (it was 46 degrees outside and overcast and windy) because with her head swollen up passersby might conclude she was suffocating in a hot car and call the cops and break my window to rescue her. I already told them in my small town in the one store we had there was only flavored chewable benadryl. They again implied that maybe i shouldnt own a dog if i couldnt figure out how to take care of it and meet its needs and i told them, “okay well im just going to make a decision and leave her in the car for 4 minutes while i run in and grab the kind of benadryl ive already told you i have to pick up here because we dont have it at home in my town flavorless, and you swear she has to have flavorless, and its 46 degrees and overcast outside, and ive already told you i live over an hour away.” The vet told me if i was truly taking the day off work that was plenty of time to drive her home and drive back to the city to buy benadryl and drive home again. It is this sort of thing that makes veterinarians just straight villains in my eyes. Its like they think of how vicious and inhuman they can be, and then do that with a smirk on their face. I quieted my voice and then carefully worded the phrase, “did you not just tell me i had to monitor her closely for change in symptoms all day and bring her in immediately if symptoms worsen because then we know it was not anaphylaxis?” She responded with a shrug. I asked how it could be anaphylaxis when she survived the half hour of cleaning and googling and the hour long drive to the city. I told her that in the past my other dog had been bitten by a rattlesnake and her face swelled up and it was a race to get her to the vet in thirty minutes before her airway closed. Wouldnt she have suffocated long before we arrived? The vet said, “i didnt say it was anaphylaxis. I said it was going towards anaphylaxis, but not quite.” They tested her liver. They tested her eye. They took her temperature. They told me i was wrong. They told me the other dog’s symptoms were unrelated and i was being paranoid. I asked how they could be unrelated when so close in time and so identical with a few additions. They shrugged and told me i was paranoid. Every dog mom thinks their dog is deathly sick. I was upset. They were not listening to me. I was not every dog mom. I knew they were sick because i had natural medicine and it wasnt working. This was over my head and i was reaching out for help and i was getting made fun of and smirked at and charged $600 for a steroid and a recommendation of benadryl. Oh, they gave her an anti nausea med and fluids as well. Im sure that part was actually helpful.

The steroid helped. Her swelling went down. But i stopped the benadryl at 7 doses instead of nine and here’s why. I knew something was wrong with them. The emergency vet disagreed with me. They had their own opinion and this opinion was the one we were all going by because they were the professionals. But i had to bring sili to work with me on saturday so i could give her benadryl every 8 hours which means i took her where other dogs go. I felt like i shouldnt be doing this. I felt in my heart of hearts that she had not been stung by a bee in the house at 2 am. No insect “got her” as the vet put it. I knew something big had a hold of them and i just couldnt yet make the vet see this. There was a part of me that wanted to believe the vet because distemper has a 50 percent survival rate which meant if i was right i would likely be losing one of my dogs and sili was much worse off than cashew. It looked like it would be her if one was going. I began noticing a new symptom on sunday and i made the decision that benadryl would be stopped early so sili wouldnt have to come to work with me on monday. I smelled open wound. It wasnt their bottoms. It wasnt their paws, their bodies, their ears…. their breath smelled like rancid, putrid, warm, moist, open wound. I had worked in healthcare nearly a decade. I knew the smell. They smelled exactly like it. GI infection was a secondary symptom in distemper. It was coming from their gut and it was so unbearable i couldnt have them in my bed. I laid them on a towel on the floor in front of the heater. Sili’s ears swelled up and became puffy and stiff and unbearably painful to touch. They were so swollen they didnt even crease and hang down anymore. They stuck out from her head. Her skin was hot to the touch. She had a raging fever for a few days and winced every time i touched her. She developed these pussy blisters in her ears. They oozed orange puss and blood. They were sticky and mucusy when they crusted and i pulled them off, the skin beneath had green mucus on it. Both dogs poops began like liquid. Cashew was given four days of intense amounts of raw organic coconut oil and her poops became solid. Sili’s were mummified, encased in a thick cocoon of green and gray mucus. Cashew’s vomiting was over but sili continued to vomit foam and obnoxiously yellow sticky slimy liquid.

All throughout this first week i reported symptoms back to the emergency vet and they shrugged. I told them facial swelling started again when i cut off the benadryl and they said it was because i ended at 7 instead of 9 doses and i said, “would you listen to yourselves? its not a bee sting or a scorpion…they live out here theyve been exposed to all that…those things wouldnt be lingering three or four days later. Jesus, they werent this sick when dealing with snake bite or ingestion if chicken waste. Would you listen to me? Its not an allergy. Whatever it is still has ahold of her after the steroid and all that benadryl. She has stopped eating and stopped drinking and she has dug a hole and laid down in it. Tell me the f*ck again that she is dealing with a bee sting. She’s waiting to die. She’s outside in a hole right now waiting to die. Im looking to you for help. Why wont you help me?” The receptionist said that i should just keep her comfortable and pet her a bunch and once the stress of the ordeal passed she would eat again. I forcefed that dog every kernel for a week. I put it in her mouth two kernels at a time and refused to let her leave until she chewed and swallowed. I poured spoonfuls of liquid in her mouth and held her snout closed until she swallowed. The vet abandoned me with the life of my dog and it was up to me to keep her here with us because they werent going to acknowledge she had dug herself a place to die and was waiting for the reaper. When i was home i fed her two spoonfuls of food and a quarter cup of coconut water every four hours. It was the ultimate challenge…put in more than was coming back out. I wasnt winning. She began to lose weight and look somewhat skeletal. I called other vets but they all said they wouldnt give advice on a dog they hadnt personally seen. Given how helpful vets have been in the past and how helpful this one was being for 600 bucks, i was in no hurry to hand them more money to tell me i was crazy. But i will rewind a bit here, i have skipped a part. In the emergency vet exam room the vet stopped what she was doing before administering the steroid to take the time to interview me on if there was a reason my dog was on a gluten free diet. I said, “because i chose to have her on one.” She then proceeded to tell me that studies have shown gluten free diets cause heart disease in dogs and she would just really hate for me to leave her office without knowing that i was giving my dog heart disease and that she recommended i switch her to purina right away because it was imperitive all dogs have wheat in their diets. I didnt appreciate the detour in life saving care or the biased lecture and i challenged her that if she was legit in what she was saying, why was purina the only brand dogs could eat and not have heart disease….plenty of brands have wheat in them? Was she perhaps getting some kind of perk or payment from purina? She declined to answer the question and stated that obviously if i wanted to contribute to the early demise of my dog it was my right to keep her on the gluten free food. Then she left the room. I did my research later. The article she is speaking of suggests that some type of grain is needed to prevent heart disease. Whether the article is fact or huey, it lists rice as an acceptable grain and my girls are on a salmon and rice kibble, all natural, probably with much more transparent ingredients than in purina. No “by-product” or “meal”. She couldnt even differentiate between grain free and gluten free which shows me how much that vet knows about the study she quotes and the food she speaks of so authoritatively.

Here’s where i knew i was right. Sili was fighting her fight in the gi phase of this beast. I was singularly focused on getting her well and then i noticed Cashew doing some strange things. Her leg would either hike up or stretch out involuntarily while she was trying to walk or run and she would be forced to make a go of ambulation on three limbs. She kept turning around to look at the leg, as if she were surprised by what it was doing. She also began facial ticks at this time. At first i thought she was wincing but i noticed it went on and on and she didnt seem to have control over it. Her eye would squint or her cheek would pull and she didnt seem to be doing it on purpose. After a while she would paw at her face with both arms. Both dogs began chewing their limbs incessantly. Joint pain is another symptom along with neurological symptoms that could explain cashew’s muscle spasms and facial ticks. The dogs legs were always raw and wet from chewing and cashew’s muscle spasms and ticks continued to the point where i worried about her ability to go head first and 100 percent into anything and everything is she survived this. She was such a specimen of muscle, will, ability, speed…would she be fragile and broken hopping around on three legs when this was over? Had i ruined her? But with sili on death’s door and cashew in the neurological symptom phase…the last phase before seizures and then death…i didn’t have too much time to think about the future. I kind of had to focus on the present. Whatever symptoms they experienced would be permanent if they survived. They could lessen in severity over time but if i let cashew progress to seizures, i was advised i’d be better off humanely euthanizing her than making her suffer. I couldnt let Cashew progress any further. I could live with muscle spasms and facial ticks. I couldnt live with her constantly seizing. It was like we had been canoeing and the canoe had flipped. We were in the water with no paddle and no boat headed towards niagara falls and it was imperative that i get us out before we went over. I knew i was right about it not being an allergic reaction because cashew developed neurological symptoms. I called the emergency vet one more time. This time i had listed on paper all the things i was going to tell them. I outlined each of the dogs symptoms and what phase each dog was in. Now i reported this to a fresh vet on the phone and challenged him, if it was not distemper, to tell me what it was, to tell me what it was so i could get on treating it. His response was, “yeah, i mean, that sounds like distemper.” I was not at this moment being sarcastic and mean. I meant what i said. If he had told me “that sounds like disease x84z i would have googled it and if the thing existed and the symptoms fit, proceeded accordingly. I was being genuine when i asked him to tell me what it was if he didnt think it was distemper. He spoke to me for a long time and was very helpful until he read his colleagues notes. It must have said something in the file about me being paranoid or delusional because he then took the stance that maybe they just have a stomach virus and its probably not distemper based on whatever his colleague had written in the file, but before that moment he gave me a lot of helpful information on what to expect if it was distemper. He said that the stages of distemper were listed on google as if no intervention was being provided, as if the distemper was going untreated. So it was not necessarily a given that cashew seize and die. He said the main thing to focus on was the bacterial infection in the gi system because the dogs wouldnt be able to heal or do anything until their gut was repaired. That would be the hardest thing to do, because intestinal death was a possibility with distemper and when tissues became necrotic then i would really have a problem on my hands beyond the vomiting and diarrhea. He said to keep them warm, calm, and pet them a lot, not to let them run or spend any amount of time outside, and not to let them catch a chill. He said it was important that i separate them because if one started to get better the other could reinfect her. I explained that i lived in a one room 384 square foot house. How was i to separate them? He was right. Cashew kicked her gi infection and was doing a world better so she went and did that thing she does where she french kisses her sister to the point where you think she must be cleaning her d*mn gums. And of course cashew for reinfected and i had to start all over from square one on treating cashew again. Daily she french kissed her sister which irked me to no end. Here i am trying to get them better and she insists upon swapping putrid wound breath and infected saliva. Oh yeah, for a month i wasnt allowed to yell at the dogs because i had to keep them unstressed. Before taking them to potty i had to clear the area of birds, lizards, and deer so as to not excite them. I had to refrain from yelling and keep them not running, which i had to do without any yelling. The vet did not give me a booklet on how exactly to execute this. What am i suppose to do when they run, whisper them into submission? Grandma had an idea on how to get sili to drink when she wasnt so ice chips were purchased and while i was there i picked up wet food. The ice chips were a hit, especially with cashew who loves eating ice in the winter so i should have figured. Later the semi helpful vet told me that giving two spoonfuls of canned food and a quarter cup of liquid every four hours was exactly the thing to do because their fragile gi system wouldnt be able to handle dry kibble at this point and giving them small but multiple increments of food would allow me to get some in and if they upchucked one feeding session i still had others that stayed down. He was so helpful and comforting until he read his colleague’s notes about me. I’ll never know what they said but he changed his whole tone and assessment of the dogs and decided they probably just have a stomach virus and im paranoid. He told me if they were eating and drinking they were fine. I said, “so is it normal for them to still be throwing up over two weeks after initial infection with a “stomach virus”? He said, “no, i mean, she needs to stop that.” He said to give it another week and if she was still vomiting bring her in then for an antibiotic. I told him, “okay, well, im not going to just do nothing for a week. I want to treat now. If you’re not willing to give her an antibiotic until a week then i’ll just give her raw organic coconut oil. Its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. The man got very upset with me over the phone and said i cant give my dog coconut oil because we dont know how that affects dogs and it could kill her. I said, “we’re killing her now. She needs help, and you’re telling me to just watch her suffer a week and give her antibiotics later? Why later? If you’re not going to help her i will. I gave the other dog coconut oil when i thought she had a bacterial infection from chicken poop. She got better. Just cuz you dont know what coconut oil does to dogs doesnt mean i dont…ive used this their whole lives. It will kill bacteria.”

I just want to take a second to note that i realize some of this is out of order or repeated but this last month has all been a jumble in my brain as i worked by day and functioned as a dog nurse by night and slept near to never. I cried at the drop of a hat because that amount of sleep deprivation will make you emotional and unable to cope, and i am still even now having trouble putting the memories all in chronological order.

Anyways, the vet said absolutely not to coconut oil as an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent. He also said no to coconut water to settle their stomachs. In fact, when he learned i was giving them coconut water he came up with a new theory. He said this whole thing was an allergy to coconut water. I rubbed my temples and tried to refrain from shouting, “they are not having an allergic reaction to the thing i gave them their whole lives without issue and the thing i gave them in response to symptoms that arose independent of and before the administration of any coconut water in this particular instance. How could coconut water be the culprit if i didnt give it to them until after symptoms arose?!” God these people are stupid! He said, “okay, well, any case, you cant give dogs coconut water. Its for humans, not for dogs. Its imperative that you go immediately to the store and get pedialyte. Give that to them.” I told him that coconut water has natural electrolytes that its like nature’s gatorade and that it is not made by nature specifically for humans, its made by nature for any animals that figures out how to open a coconut. I told him the drama about the childrens chewable benadryl and how id been chided for giving them a flavored chewable benadryl because it was either flavored with sugar which would lower their immune system while they fought off illness or with artificial chemical sweetener which was toxic to dogs. I asked him if he thought pedialyte would be any different. Why had they scolded me so severely for the flavored benadryl and now they would like me to purchase flavored pedialyte which i pointed out was much more manufactured for humans than the water of a coconut. Pedialyte wasn’t out there growing on palms, falling to the ground, and being consumed by monkeys and bears. Lastly i told him i’d get them some canned pumpkin and mix it in their food to firm up the diarrhea or smushy poop. He said absolutely not. He said there is no research on what pumpkin does for dogs, we dont know how it affects them, and this is people food and you cant give people food to dogs. Now i knew he was just a straight idiot because pumpkin is in dog treats. Its no more a human only food than beef or chicken. What is it that he thinks dogs eat? Is he aware that round brown kibble is not its own ingredient but actually the result of a bunch of human food ingredients mixed together…you know, various meats, grains, and vegetables…. Sometimes also blueberry and carrots for eyesight? He became very angry with me and said, “you cant do this. You’re going to kill your dogs.” I shouted at him, “no you’re going to kill my dogs with your wait and see do nothing attitude and your inability to recognize a problem if it jumped up and bit you in the face! If you’re not going to do jack shit to help them im going to handle it the way i know how, with natural medicine!” I hung up the phone. I looked at the dogs, “right. Mommy’s going shopping for supplies. You stay here.”

I had a conversation with a dear friend about how it was going and she kind of just gave the knife in my heart that final turn by listening and then saying, “i know you like natural medicine and all but is now really the time for that? It seems like you should probably just do what the vet says in this circumstance.” I could hear the pity in her voice. She too thought i was nuts. Everyone and their dog had an opinion about the way i was handling this but not one person in my life volunteered to come take a shift so i could catch two hours of consecutive sleep. Not one. I felt they shouldnt be able to offer suggestions unless they were willing to take a shift cleaning puke and poop and puss and holding and rocking feverish twitching dogs who were scared and uncomfortable and smelled like death.

I had a teary dejected phone conversation in the car with my sister who had recently become a dog mom and a friend who had a toddler and a new baby. They both said everyone and their distant cousin is going to have an opinion about what you do. You have to know in your gut as the momma what you instinctually think is best and go with that regardless of what anybody thinks because everyone everywhere is going to have a theory, and you’re right. They’re all just spectators. Nobody is in the trench with you here so your opinion is the one that counts. You see them the most, you know whats going on with them better than distant spectators, you’re the momma. Go with your gut and dont talk to the spectators for a while. It was needed soothing advice. I took it. I went hard with the natural medicine approach. I gave them wet food, coconut water, coconut oil, and pumpkin. I rubbed coconut oil on sili’s ear blisters and it killed the infection that was causing green puss. The orange puss scabbed over, turned brown, and eventually i was able to pull the crusty bits off of her ear hairs they were cemented to one by one once they had loosened. I kept them warm and calm. I fed them little bits often. I piled on the coconut oil daily until one day i smelled their breath and it didnt smell like putrid open wound. The day the last ear blister came off was a good one. Cashew’s facial ticks lessened a lot and her muscle spasms are much less pronounced now. It looks like she’s skipping versus holding a leg to her belly. Sili never developed neurological symptoms. They went through over one whole jar of coconut oil between them before they were through treating the gi infection. So many cans of pumpkin. So many cans of wet food. Countless cans and cartons of coconut water. My refrigerator was a treatment station full of medicinal jars and cans and i attempted to keep each dog’s station separate so as not to swap germs in different phases of recovery. Cashew didnt get this memo.

Nobody has thrown up in over a week. Everybody’s poops are solid. They dont smell awful. They spent the last four days outside while i was at work in the revamped dog run i made them right before and during them being sick. They are currently eating half wet dog food and half kibble. They are off the coconut oil and pumpkin for two days now and off the coconut water as of this morning. It seems they have been making a recovery. I am standing by vigilant, looking for signs that further treatment is needed, and will probably continue to do so until im sure we’re done with this. But if i had to attribute their recovery to something i would say they turned around when simultaneously i begged everyone i knew for prayer and when i dumped the vet altogether and began treating them with natural medicine. God and the coconut are responsible for both my dogs being here after battling something with a 50 percent survival rate. All the aforementioned vets and veterinary staff can kiss my *ss. I’ve got nothing constructive to say to them and with a history between us like this, probably never will.

Sili’s poop after pumpkin but before coconut oil
Cashew’s poop after a week of coconut oil and pumpkin
Cashew’s poop after reinfection due to french kissing -_-
Cashew 2 days into recovering from reinfection
Cashew 1 week into recovery from reinfection
Cashew’s most recent turd
Well, there it is, the setback i’ve been watching so vigilantly for. Sili is back on the coconut oil and pumpkin regiment this morning. Sigh. I keep wishing we were done.

Thank you sincerely to everyone who prayed for my babies.

Update: cashew has made what looks like a good recovery and is back on half dry and half canned food for now. Sili has taken a turn and is now making bloody poops. I found a different emergency vet to talk to and we’re stopping everything and putting her on chicken and rice only for three weeks and going to see if she can make a recovery. prayer appreciated.

Drove one town over at 9:30 at night because i only had brown rice and her tummy needed white the dollar general only had cheesy rice. Boiled chicken and rice porridge for sili at 10 pm, hope it works.

Sili is moving in the right direction with the chicken and rice.

A Trip to the City

I drove 3 hours to the capital to attend one of my twice annual dental visits. While i was there i stopped in at the Japanese grocery to buy a bulk bag of brown rice as part of the pantry supply at the homestead. There was a clearance bin. These rice crackers were four and a half dollars on clearance because they were slightly out of date. And they were delicious. Just absolutely delicious and crunchy as all get out. If you ever become a millionaire, take my advice, go to japan and buy food. Your tastebuds will be happy.

Prayer Request

My two sweet dogs are fighting for their lives right now. Cashew is doing better than Sili but they’re both pretty sick. I will do a full post about the last 3 weeks at a later date in time but for now please keep Cashew and Sili in your prayers. Please pray for them to pull through and their bodies to be healed, especially Sili who seems to be a bit more fragile than her mack truck of a sister and hasnt been able to settle her stomach for over two weeks now. They are receiving everything that can be done for them. It’s in God’s hands now. Please no remedies or intervention suggestions just prayer at this time.

Surprise Winter

So, after we were visited by an arctic storm the weatherman actually said on television, “Folks it looks like that will be it for the winter weather. We’re going to have a very mild rest of the season with warm temperatures expected through to spring.” Winter having just begun, i thought their statement might have been a bit preemptive but hey, what do i know? They’re the experts right? They make a whole career out of studying these things.

Well, last week i looked at the forecast and saw that a couple of days had been forecasted to have highs in the low forties and lows in the thirties. I thought, “Okay, its going to be 31 at night for a couple of days. I need to turn the heat lamp on in the well house at night. I need to cover the plants.” Then as the days inched closer the forecast changed to a high of 39 degrees and a low of 31 degrees. At this point it started looking suss. I thought, if the high is not getting out of the thirties, that’s something right there. Something is coming thats going to suppress the temperature. That’s not just an overcast rainy day right there. Now, the forecast is still displaying a rain droplet at this point so i think its going to be above freezing during the day and maybe the rain that fell during the day will freeze at night, or maybe its all dried up by then. I start turning on the weather radio and i hear a bit of chatter about a winter storm coming. I scratch my head and flip back over to the weather app on my phone where it has literally two forecasted days with lows in the thirties: a tuesday and a wednesday. I scratched my head. A winter storm is not a two day event, especially when one of the two days has highs listed in the low forties. At this point its still saying its going to rain on both days but no mention of ice.

If you want to find a pair of mortal enemies go get a farmer and a weatherman and put them in the same room, and **** like this is why. I don’t have all those fancy gadgets and doo-dads. All i got is a radio, a cell phone app, and eventually the television at work in fredericksburg. Now, the television at work in fredericksburg told the truth. Give credit where credit is due, i always say. They had a rather dramatic cgi of what “could” happen made up and the super excitable weatherman on screen ran from imaginary cgi icicles falling from a radio tower, trees coming down, and a jackknifing semi. I thought it was a bit much but i have to hand it to them, at least they tried to prepare people. The guy on screen was waving his hands around wildly shouting, “People could die! People could die folks! Exercise extreme caution when dealing with this kind of weather.” At that point the first day with lows in the thirties was supposed to arrive the following morning. I checked my weather app. It was still saying the high was 39 and the low was 31. The following day the high would be 42 and the low 31. I shrugged. I did not prepare for this weather because the forecasted temperatures in my area did not spell out “hard freeze” despite what the tv in fredericksburg said. I turned on the heat lamp and covered the plants. That was about all i did. I didn’t expect the pipes to freeze so i didn’t collect water and i didn’t collect drinking water for the chickens because i didn’t expect they would need to come in the house. Around 2 pm that day they changed the forecast again. This time they said the high would be 36 on the first day with a low of 31 and during the second day the high would be 41 with a low of 31.

The night before the weather arrived i looked at the forecast and saw that the precipitation falling was now going to be falling during the hours that were forecasted to be 32 and 31 degrees. It would likely be ice slush. However, the temperature would rise to 33, 34, 35, and finally 36 around 3 pm. If i could make it to fredericksburg before the ground got cool enough for the ice to really stick i just had to wait until 3 pm to drive back. This was the plan for tuesday because wednesday was forecasted to be worse during the first half of the day. The weathermen were now saying that on wednesday the low would be 29 during the wee hours of the morning and in the afternoon the high would be 41. The problem….hours of snowflake icon listed for wednesday morning. The wintery mix would accumulate on the now cold asphalt for hours before it would begin burning off. Recognizing that wednesday would be worse i decided to go to work tuesday knowing i could only make up one weekday on saturday. My coworkers had the same thought. We all recognized wednesday would be worse and tried to come in on tuesday. The nurses and cnas either slept at the nursing homes or booked a hotel. This was a common practice during bad weather to make sure there was someone to care for the patients but i never do it because im single and have animals. All these people had a husband at home who was holding down the fort. For me, the one working and holding down the fort is the same person so i have to go back and forth. If i dont return home the animals suffer or die without water and protection. So, tuesday morning before dawn i go outside and see that where im at the ice is accumulating on the grass but not the road. The road is wet. I still believe at this point that the high is 36 so all im thinking about is making it to fredericksburg, not coming back. I get the animals ready and get myself ready and then i go to load the car. Well its been sleeting all night so the doors and windows are cemented shut and the car is coated in ice. I go inside and get some slightly warm water from the faucet in a pasta pot. I’d used all the warm water for my bath and so i had to put it on the stove for a few seconds to get the chill out of it. Then i splash the water on the outside of the car on the drivers side and free the door and window. Now i open the driver’s side door, start the car, and put on the defroster on level 3 heat and leave the window half way rolled down so if it auto locks im not locked out of the car with the only key inside. As the windshield defrosts i note the side mirrors and back window are caked in ice and not usable. I wipe the lens of the back up camera and shrug about the mirrors. If i pour water on they’ll be clear for a few minutes and then caked once again so what’s the point?

I loaded the car and said goodbye to the dogs. I broke the ice in the chicken water up with a spent felt pen and checked that the heat lamp in the well house was still on. Then i set out for fredericksburg in the car. The drive was fine in center point. All i had to worry about was making sure the precip didn’t stick to the windshield with the defroster on full blast and the heat on level 2 at this point. When i drove through comfort it wasn’t even sleeting. It was raining. The streets were wet. However, i knew the worst of the weather was not yet to be seen. The problem would be going up in those hills between comfort and fredericksburg. It was a higher elevation and the temperatures would be cooler there. It was also not part of a city so i didn’t expect to see the city vehicles dumping gravel in those hills (but thank God both comfort and fredericksburg claimed the hills as part of their territory and dumped a lot of gravel there despite it not being technically within the city boundaries for either place). When i passed comfort and climbed up into the hills i noted that the road was covered in ice. I did not know this at the time but as poorly as my heavy heavy car does on water, the tires do fairly well on ice (with gravel in it). Many cars were driving forty miles an hour on the ice in a 75 mph zone. I was passing on the left and trying to stay at 60 or 70 the whole way…50 around dead man’s curve, and the reason for that was visibility. I now had the heat on level 3 with the defroster on full blast as it continued to rain ice steadily. I was more afraid of the now non functional wipers caked in ice worsening and the occasional times when i was up at the top of a hill and the water on the windshield froze rather than wiped, than i was afraid of flying off the road coming around the twists and turns in the hills. The defroster was defrosting the windshield but not the wipers and i didn’t have warm water with me. The wipers were becoming so caked with ice they were scraping the windshield but just smearing it rather than getting rid of it. I threw the wipers on at hyper speed and some of the ice came off. I decided to keep them going at hyperspeed even if it destroyed them and made an awful noise because the precip that would normally lubricate them as they slid across the glass was not wet. I had my first really scary encounter in the darkness at 5 am when a semi came around a turn and drifted a bit from his lane towards the edge of the middle dividing line. It did not come into my lane as it passed but i could tell it was much closer to my car than it meant to be. It was right on the line of the lane and the force as it passed by pushed wind against my car quickly. It was just all together too close. I realized i had been rather stupid because it wasnt whether i could maintain control of my vehicle but whether the trucks that used these roads could maintain control of their loads in these conditions that i should have been worried about. Over half way there, it was too late to turn back now. Besides, i had to go if i planned to call in wednesday. Then about five minutes after passing the truck i went up a tall hill and all the moisture on my windshield instantly froze. The wiper blade smeared it across the windshield and the effect was similar to those frosted glass windows in remodeled bathrooms. I couldnt see anything. My stomach dropped open and my heart skipped a beat. I put my hazards on and rolled down the drivers side window. Oh it was cold! I kept my head sticking out of the drivers side window to see where i was going to pull over in the next flat grassy area near the highway. I kept my hazards on hoping no one would skid into me. I quickly got out and scraped the windshield. I got back in and put the windshield wipers back on full blast and started out again.

I made it to fredericksburg which wasn’t quite as bad as the hills directly before it. It was still icy over there though. I parked and took a 10 minute nap, then entered the building and saw my two patients. I borrowed a plastic serving bowl from the mock kitchen in the rehab gym at the first building, filled it with room temperature water, and used it to uncement the windshield wipers so i could drive over to building number two and see patients there. As i stepped out of the car at building number 2, the sky now gray instead of black, my foot nesrly slipped and i realized the curb and sidewalks were now caked with smooth ice. This was not good. It was accumulating.

As i entered the building someone said to one of the nurses, “yeah they changed the forecast. Its never going to get above freezing today. Did you see?” At this point my mind began spinning. I opened the app on my phone. Sure enough, day of, they had changed the high from 36 to 32. At 4 am the high was still 36 and now at 7 am they changed their minds and were listing it at 32. I looked out the window, panicking internally. All that had accumulated already would stick all day and all night, and everything to come would just pile on top of it. I stared at my sheet of patients to see. Instinct told me to cross some off the list so i handed a patient a theraband and had her do resistive exercises while she waited at the table for breakfast. After her, i brought somebody else 3 lb dumbbells and instructed her in one exercise after another at the breakfast table. I was there but not focused. She kept saying, “okay, are you going to give me the next one or what?” But i was distracted by the reality unfolding in my head. My boss was texting me “go when you need to go” and my thought was, don’t say that or i’d have gone 30 minutes ago. None of the patients would be seen. For i needed to go pronto if i had any hopes of making it home. I wasnt worried about whether the roads were drivable. I knew myself. I knew even if it meant driving on the grass beside the road at 5 mph for 8 hours i’d make my way home. What i was worried about was those hills. I knew at some point the authorities would start closing roads, and they’d start with those hills in between fredericksburg and comfort. My coworker and i discussed alternative routes but even going through kerrville meant traveling through hills and the hills were always colder and icier than the valleys and flat parts. The quickest way home was through comfort but if they did close that road, by the time i made my way towards kerrville they’d probably be getting ready to close that road as well. I went through phases of acceptance. First i told my boss i wasnt going to see the covid positive patients that were doing poorly with their symptoms because they were not up to participation anyways, they were miserable, and i needed to go so i’d just let them rest. My boss suggested i just see the nursing home patients and leave the retirement home patients be, as this was a weather emergency and in light of the changed forecast i should go. I agreed. Then when my coworker showed up he said, “oh wow, you made it. My truck was sliding all over the road. I didn’t know if you’d be here.” I told him about the drive in and we both agreed the reason we’d showed up was so we could call in wednesday because it was going to be worse. He looked at me with an earnest expression on his face and said, “You gotta get out of here. You gotta go now if you want to make it back.” I said, “i know but i can’t.” He said, “why cant you? I said, “i have to see all these patients first.” Even with the covid positive patients and retirement home patients crossed out i still had a long list of people to see. I said, “if im 100 percent productive i can leave at 10:54 and its supposed to start precipitating really bad again at 11:00. He shook his head, “it’s precipitating now.” I said, “i know.” He then showed me a text that came in on his phone. It was our boss. His car had slid off the road. He was going to work on going home. He wasnt coming in today or tomorrow. He gave us permission to drop what we were doing and go home. We could come in saturday. Our lives were more important than work and the patients would be okay without therapy for a day. I loved him for that text. He was a good boss. With the permission of both my coworker and my boss i decided to stop treating patients, type up my documentation, and go. I worked for 3 hours total, saw 5 patients, wrote notes, and then started to head out. I gathered my things and filled the plastic serving bowl with water again. My coworker said, “oh wow, you’re really doing this huh? You’re gonna go?” I said, “yeah, im gonna make a run for home before any more ice accumulates.” He said, “how will i know if you made it?” I said, “well it takes me 40 to 50 minutes at normal speed….if i go slower…if you havent heard from me in 3 hours i probably died.” I laughed a bit but his face was serious. I was trying to take the anxiety out of something i was worried about and joke a bit but he said, “well dont do that we need you here so don’t die.” He looked genuinely concerned and someone i hadn’t always gotten along with swimmingly was being nice to me so i asked if he wanted me to include him in the text i intended to send both of our bosses when i made it home, telling them i’d arrived. He said yes so i made a mental note to add him to that group text. He asked if i wanted him to carry anything out to the car. I’d brought anything glass or hand soap in so that it didnt freeze in the car. I told him i was fine, i got it in the building and i could get it out. I noted that i probably had an issue accepting help from others but that was a problem for another day.

I threw the water over the windshield wipers, freeing them from where they were cemented. I almost slipped on the curb twice trying to load and get into the car. Everything was covered in ice at this point; the roads, the sidewalks, the curbs, the grass. It was all solid smooth ice and it continued to rain down steadily. I turned the heat on level 3 and removed my jackets as it was about to be uncomfortably hot in the car. I turned the defroster on and set the windshield wipers to hyper speed. They made an awful noise but it kept the ice from sticking.

My coworker told me to just drive slow. Something in my brain said that was not a good idea. I booked it 75 mph through those hills on the icy roads all the way to comfort, white knuckling the steering wheel and thanking God that i could. For whatever reason the tires did horribly on water but really good on ice. I didn’t slide once. I attribute that to God and the gravel trucks, because it looked like i had driven into a different world. I had to do a double take and make sure i hadn’t teleported to Norway. The fields were white. There was no snow. It was all ice. The fields and hills were white. The road was white. The sky was a weird heavy gray that seemed to block out more of the light than it should. The cedars and oaks all resembled weeping willows. Every branch and every blade of grass was encased in a thick tube of ice and the trees were bowing towards the ground in a dramatic and forlorn way. I wasn’t sure where i was anymore. I may as well have been on a different planet. Everything was white. You couldn’t even see a hint of the tan or green or brown beneath it. It was all just ice and sky.

This is the last picture i took in fredericksburg. I did not photograph driving through the hills because i felt driving with both hands was the way to go on ice and i was racing a road closure so i didnt fancy stopping.

Right before i made it to comfort i saw a procession of city vehicles and cop cars driving in the opposite direction. I remember i got angry because they kicked a rock up into my windshield and i was pissed about it. When i made it to comfort i had time to breathe all of a sudden. I had time to stop and think. In comfort it was still just raining. It was 33 degrees. No ice. People stopped to admire my car, caked with ice, and asked where i had driven from. I gave them news of the weather in the hills and in fredericksburg.

I stopped at Lowe’s market in comfort to pick up some groceries, anticipating i wouldn’t be making it to red barn on wednesday. I picked up a few produce items for 25 dollars. It wasnt as much as i could have gotten for 22 dollars at red barn but it was something and i felt lucky to have it. For financial reasons i did not pick up water. We would use what we had and filter more when the weather passed. The cashier took one look at my car and asked where i’d come from. I told her fredericksburg. Her eyes went all wide and she said, “Honey you got so lucky. They’re just about to close that road from comfort to fredericksburg. You JUST made it.” Honestly it was the closest i had ever in my life cut it to a road closure. According to the cashier, if i had driven slowly i wouldnt have made it back before they put up the barricade. I had no desire to live that dangerously again. I did what i thought i had to do to get back in time to save my dogs and my chickens. The key was with me. There was a spare hidden on my property somewhere but i couldnt convince anyone to drive in the weather to get to it, even from down the street. I had to get back to water and potty them and put the chickens up. I knew that. That’s why i did what i did. But had i lost traction driving 75 mph on the ice it would have been a much worse than losing traction driving 20 mph on the ice. I could have gone off the edge of one of the hills or careened into a tree. So i had had enough of this high anxiety decision making and was not keen to put myself in another such situation anytime soon. I learned that day there’s a difference between what you physically can do and what you’re going to have an opportunity to do. I should have worried more about road closures than whether i could find a way to make it to work.

There was rain in comfort and sleet in center point but the norway looking landscape was behind me towards fredericksburg. It was way smoother sailing past comfort and i knew i was out of the woods. I texted my bosses and coworker when i arrived home and gave them the report of conditions in towns i had driven through on the way back. I called in wednesday. Wednesday brought a lot of ice. It precipitated for hours. Now, i was still angry at the weathermen that changed their minds morning of, about the low and the high on tuesday. That was not cool. On wednesday the weathermen decided to admit that two days was not quite enough time for an ice storm to blow through so this thing was going to extend through thursday evening as well. Now, if they had said that in the first place i would have taken the situation seriously and prepared. Who ever heard of a two day ice storm? Oh surprise, its actually going to be 3 or maybe 4 days…depending on what town you’re in. Tuesday night i plugged the second lamp in at the well house and their low of 31 turned to 28. I just have absolutely zero respect for weathermen at this moment. How do you announce night of, hours before it happens, that you’ve changed your mind from 31 to 28? It was too late to filter any more water so i just used reserves i already had in storage jugs in the house. I was happy that i was able to be with the dogs and chickens. If the road had closed before i left, I would have walked from fredericksburg to comfort and then hitchhiked the rest of the way before i accepted they would just die of dehydration or cold without me. It would have taken me all day and i might have gotten hit by sliding cars or trucks, but i would have done it.

I broke the chicken water up every few hours. I had wondered if they would be smart enough to peck it in my absence and the answer was no. When i arrived home they were all standing in front of it looking at me, waiting for me to make it liquid again. Chickens. I gave the dogs water and put them in the house all day where it was warm and they had heat. I laid on the floor and held them in a cuddle as they slept and i browsed the internet, realizing 18 wheelers had jackknifed, highways had been shut down, and in boerne a cop was taken to the ER after a car careened into his patrol vehicle and smashed it.

The following photos are courtesy of the boerne police department, the kerrville police department, the comfort police department, the kerrville volunteer fire fighters, the center point volunteer fire fighters, and the mountain home volunteer fire fighters.

The alternative highway i was going to use if they closed my first choice before i could make it through…
One of the two bridges on the way home

I was relieved to be home. After that drive, when thursday morning came and the hills were still frozen, i expressed that i wouldn’t leave until they cleared those hills. The road block was removed but they were still listed as icy and represented with a gray line on the map. My boss said he was debating about whether to try to drive in after lunch. At 12:00 pm everything was pretty much melted where i was but the hills were still frozen. My boss told me to give it another day to thaw and come in friday. I agreed. Hours earlier i had noted the dogs cowering by the back of the house and realized they were afraid of the noise of huge icicles falling from the edge of the roof and smashing on the ground or the window unit. I grabbed a shovel and a bucket and went out to kill two birds with one stone. I batted the icicles from where they hung with the shovel and then gathered them from the ground to put them in the bucket. I filled the bucket 1/3 of the way full of icicles. This would be water for the chickens when it melted and it would mean the dogs could stop cowering in the back of the house.

When the temperature hit 41 i let the dogs out and filtered some more well water. It would freeze again overnight but the weather was done precipitating. And i was done with weathermen.

When the electric company had fixed our small outages in the hill country they headed to central texas to help them. Apparently the big cities got hit worse than the hill country this time. Ice accumulation had downed trees all over power lines. One of my relatives in austin had been without power for two days with no estimated end in sight. I hoped our crew could help get things moving.

The following photos are courtesy of the Kerr County electric company KPUB.

Next time there’s an ice storm coming just print the words “ice storm” on the weather app. That’s all you have to do. I’ll gather everything else from there. Even if you get the temps and duration of days way off. I should have listened to the crazy man interacting with the cgi’s of giant icicles and semi trucks in fredericksburg. At least they were properly warned.

Odds and Ends

Tuesday is my most creative meal day. When i cut vegetables and arrange them on the cookie sheet i always start with the thick and beautiful middle pieces. I save the end pieces and if i don’t have room for all of them i put them in a bag and keep them in the fridge for Tuesday. Red Barn is open on Wednesdays from 10 am to 5:30 pm. This means that Tuesday is the last day before a new shopping trip for the next week. On Tuesday the fridge is looking sparse and i cook the last of the finishing week’s produce to make room for the new stuff. I had a handful of brussels sprouts, a handful of mushrooms, and some squash ends. I usually cook all the vegetables separately but i decided to make them into a saute and put them all together with some home ground herbs and garlic powder. I cut the squash ends into little slivers and then cooked them all together in a pan. I shoveled the result over a warm bowl of brown rice and it was the best tasting concoction! Tuesday’s odds and ends dish is often way better than what was cooked with the bulk of each vegetable earlier in the week.

A Hug from a Cat

2023 was off to a rough start, per usual. Every year we get an opportunity to start fresh and within the first week 10 things go wrong, leaving us scratching our heads about the effectiveness of our ritual black eyed peas. Anyways, i was not coping beautifully with stress and could have used a hug. I stopped by my friend and neighbor’s house to drop something off and her cat Ricci was on the floor. I called to him as i always do. He usually regards me with a wary glare and skitters off into the shadows behind the furniture. However, as i was talking to my friend, Ricci hopped up onto the entry hall table and began rubbing his head all over my back and shoulder. My friend notified me that she and her husband have a trick they do with Ricci. If she makes her back a table, Ricci will climb on it. She said, “I wonder if he’ll get on your back. It sure looks like he wants to.” I made my back flat like a table and a second later i felt the weight of a little cat paw and then the whole cat. I could not see Ricci but i felt him turning around and then hunkering down on my back.

He began rubbing his head all over my back and neck and i wondered what on earth had gotten into this usually skittish creature. Had i rolled in catnip at some point that i didn’t remember? Ricci was really pressing his head firmly into my back and it felt like a heavy little kitty hug. At one point he began biting my hoodie and neck (all cat cuddles seem to go south at some point) and my friend spoke sternly to him, “no attacking, just cuddles.” Ricci went back to rubbing his head gently against my back. It made my day. I was a stranger to my friend’s cat and he gave me an enthusiastic hug anyway. At one point my friend had a worried look on her face. She said, “i’m so sorry…he’s drooling a little bit.” I could have cared less. Ricci was being nice to me and he always runs from me as if i’m an enemy or the unknown. Today he was giving me a hug and i was in hog heaven. He could drool if he wanted to. I did return to the thought that i may have rolled in catnip at some time i was unaware about. However, i like to think Ricci just finally got used to me. Whatever the reason, he gave me a sweet hug and i really appreciated it. It made my week.


Throwback to 2014. I was 26. I was surrounded by concrete, steel, glass, and people. Every sunset was observed through small gaps in buildings or by looking directly overhead at the sky above. I was deeply unhappy at this point but it was all i knew.
2019. I was 31. I found a place my soul was happy. Anywhere there’s trees instead of concrete. 🙂

i’ve heard a lot of “you can’t” since i moved to the hill country. There was, “You cant get a bank to loan on a tiny house on land.” “You can’t homestead without a husband” “You can’t survive in the wilderness without a man”, “You can’t make enough money homesteading to keep this land” and in turn… “you can’t homestead with a day job”. “You can’t handle two dogs by yourself”. “You can’t all of a sudden learn to train dogs.” “You can’t tar a roof without a man. You’ll fall.” “You cant put chickens in the house.” You can’t coexist with snakes” “You cant coexist with scorpions.” “You cant coexist with coyotes.” “You can’t coexist with wild hogs” “You cant coexist with rabbits.” and “You cant coexist with foxes.” “You cant pull dead deer out of the middle of the road.” “You cant survive without a husband.” “You cant be celibate, you’ll die”… which makes me wonder about the wiring of the male brain. Do they really think that if they don’t get some their heart will stop and their lungs will cease to inflate? So dramatic. “You can’t treat yourself without the opinion of a doctor”. “You cant use plants as medicine. That’s nonsense.” “You cant wear that cross if you’re not catholic. The image of Jesus’ body belongs to them.” You cant lift me…you’re too little. Get a man.” “You can’t clean me up. This involves poop. Get one of the hispanic girls.” I find that one an insult to both of us. Im fully capable of changing a diaper and also there’s no ethnicity you must qualify as to handle poop. Now my latest encounter with one of these self appointed gate keepers was “You cant talk like that. You’re from Austin.”

I’ve spent the last 7 years living in a community where everyone at the bank, the post office, the grocery store, the feed store, my jobs, and even my neighbors speak to me with a certain accent. I’ve sort of adopted that accent through osmosis. The more time i spend amongst people speaking to me in this way, the more i sound like them. The other day was the second time in 7 years that someone told me i was not allowed to speak with this accent because i’m not from here.

On some level, this argument sounds ridiculous to my ears. In my efforts trying to learn russian, german, spanish, and japanese, i have conversed with many people around the world via the internet who laughed at me, told me i said the right word but maybe with a texas accent, and then repeated themselves again and again so i could listen and try to say the word in a more german way, or in a more russian way, or in a more authentic spanish accent. I have never encountered someone that has said, “yes, you’re speaking German, but now do it with a less German accent because you’re not from here so speaking like us native Germans is not allowed.” So what we’re mad about today is that i’ve assimilated too well. If i had called the cow gate a driveway adornment we would have been mad i was too city. Sometimes i think people just need something to be mad about.

I thought about what the latest gate keeper said and i wondered if there was really very much difference between the way i talked and the way i spoke 7 years ago, so i started to pay very close attention to what i was saying. I watched some news clips from austin and tried to pay attention to the way the anchors spoke. I tried to see if there were many differences between the way they pronounced words and the way i pronounced words. I came to the conclusion that there are a few things im doing differently than people speaking in the city. Every word that ends with “ing”, im pronouncing “in”. “Freaking” becomes “freakin” and talking becomes “talkin”…makin…thinkin…feelin…. There’s no “g” sound on the end. Then “for” becomes “fer” and “to” becomes “ta”. Some words are just shortened. “Going” becomes “gon”…pronounced more like “gun”….

I started to realize that there were three options here. Option number 1: the guy was being a jackass. Option number 2: the guy was insecure about being the new guy on the team in my environment and needed to pick at me to call the attention off of him and pump up his own self esteem by picking at others until they seemed beneath him. Option number 3: He was really and truly offended to the core of his being because he thought i was making a conscious effort to imitate something i didnt come by naturally in an effort to make a mockery of what he considered his native tongue. If it was option number 1 or number 2, i didn’t give a hoot. However, if it was indeed option number 3, i could clear up the misunderstanding and give him peace of mind by letting him know that i was high functioning autistic and imitation is something i come by naturally. It’s a huge part of “masking” which is where an autistic person puts away behavior, facial expressions, and body language that come naturally to them in an effort to appear socially appropriate in society, effectively mimicking neurotypicals. It’s something i can maybe do more fluidly than the average person because i’ve had to entertain my entire life that those around me are not wired in the same way and adaptation on my part is required.

I’m not going to try to change my accent back to a city accent while surrounded by people speaking to me with a country accent, watching videos of austin news anchors every night and trying to annunciate my words, then hold those broadcasts in my memory while the people in front of me speak to me in a country accent. This is a waste of time. I’m also not going to tell the latest gatekeeper in my life that im high functioning autistic. Im smart enough to know that if it is option number 1 or option number 2 he will use the information against me, and if it is indeed option number 3, he should try to be a little more tolerant of those around him. Not everything is black and white. If he moved to the city and lost some of his country twang after speaking with people who said “ing” instead of “in” for 7 years, would he love it if a coworker called him out in front of his boss and other coworkers and told him he had to speak more country because he wasn’t from Austin? Probably not. So i will add him to a long list of gate keepers i’ve encountered over the last seven years and i will add my accent to a list of things people have felt are incorrect about me, including my heritage, gender, height, weight, marital status, financial status, career choice, religion, and political stance. I was standing in the kitchen the other day and a thought came to me. People spend their entire lives looking for the work place or the social group in which they are going to be fully accepted for who they are. A little voice in my head chuckled and said, “Stop looking for the place on earth where you will be accepted for exactly who you are and start creating it within yourself.” I am never going to be a stereotypical anything, and no-one should. We are all different and we have ten thousand little pieces of information that shape and make up who we are. All these little pieces of information are part of my story. I am a deeply religious christian and yet i have jewish blood in my veins. I am a woman and yet i dont wear dresses nor do i subscribe to stereotypical gender roles. I have a womb and yet it can’t support life. I love animals and yet i kill grasshoppers, cicadas, scorpions, praying mantises, and one rooster that had to go. I have embraced life in the country but i find every single deer, every fox, every cow, every sheep, every sun rise with no buildings on the horizon…a small miracle to witness. Natives to this area sometimes laugh at me because these are mundane daily sights, and i expose the part of my story where i am not from here when i get so excited about these phenomena. And i dont mind this part of me. If i had been born in the hill country i wouldn’t have the appreciation that comes with not knowing it for 27 years before finding it. I’m never going to fit into a human constructed box. I would argue that it’s a waste of time to try. If you want to aspire to be accepted by somebody, worry about what God thinks of you, because the recipe for failure here on earth is trying to please everyone all at once. For every person who gets upset i no longer tack “ing” on the end of my words there’s somebody who gets upset because i give them directions to my bathroom when they tell me they have to pee. FYI, in the country, if a man says they have to pee they’re just giving you a heads up not to let children or animals run around the other side of the truck for the next two minutes lest they see a willy in mid stream. You just can’t satisfy everyone. You have to wake up every morning and do your best to be a good person and spread kindness and grace while being true to the things you believe in. Never stop entertaining the idea that you could be wrong about things but don’t let other people change your behavior without a sound reason. There will always be at least one of a thousand details about who you are that others dont like. The only one who is going to accept you for all the little fractions of your life that make up who you are in your entirety is God. So know yourself within, do your best, and leave people to their opinions. They’re entitled to them.