It’s been a bit since I posted anything for Folk Thursday. With a little more time on my hands than usual, this seems as good a time as any to do it.
In “The Fallow Way,” Judy Collins’ lyrics speak to the value of stillness and solitude — two commodities many of us have in abundance at the moment.
I found myself thinking of this song Tuesday as I was standing in the lobby of the Roadrunner Lodge, minding the desk while the owner was busy with a teleconference. Here in Tucumcari, the winter is quiet, but this time of year, we start to see the snowbirds stopping in on their way east from Arizona, and the first few tourists begin wandering up and down Tucumcari Boulevard, cameras in hand. Every spring, I look forward to watching Route 66 come back to life, a bright blossom with petals made of neon and chrome. Continue reading Folk Thursday: The Fallow Way→
Once again, I’ve managed to neglect my blog because I was busy doing cool stuff that I should have been blogging. If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in there.
One of the cool things I’ve been doing lately is detailed over at my teaching blog, Foolish Wand-Waving. Hop over there if you’re interested in seeing the inexpensive stim tools I’ve been cobbling together from dollar-store materials.
Another cool thing I did recently was buy a new car. I wasn’t sure this was cool at first. I wanted to drive the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar a million miles, but at 220,000, it landed in the shop with a mysterious engine problem, and school was about to start — so the day before the new semester began, I bought a Chevy Spark.
It’s not the Dreamcar, and it’s not a stick shift, but it has three redeeming features:
1. A CVT. Less fun than a stick, but optimal fuel economy.
3. A trial subscription to Sirius XM, where I discovered there is an entire radio station devoted exclusively to the Beatles. Where has this been all my life?
The CVT and mileage meter are probably the main reasons I’m getting an average of 43.2 mpg (and climbing), but it can’t hurt that I am in zero hurry to arrive anywhere when I’m driving around with the Fab Four on the stereo.
Fine, Spark. You’re not the Dreamcar, but maybe I’ll love you. (Beep-beep’m … you know the rest.)
The third cool thing I did was start a free obedience class at Paws and Claws. Our first lesson was this morning. Seven dogs and their humans showed up, and Ramona happily served as my teaching assistant, demonstrating “heel,” “sit,” and “stay” as smoothly as the average Westminster champion.
I gave her a piece of bacon jerky when we got home, but I think the bigger treat for her was getting to see her old friends at the shelter. We adopted her almost a year ago, but she obviously remembered the volunteers who’d taken care of her when she was a puppy:
I’m proud of Ramona. I knew she was going to be good at obedience, but she’s exceeded my wildest expectations. I suspect she’ll be able to go for walks without a leash before the winter is out.
So I’ve been plotting to adopt another Chihuahua for several months. I wanted to do it as soon as school let out, but then I had surgery, so I decided to wait until I recovered.
Once my doctor released me to resume normal activities, I sent an application to a Chihuahua rescue group in Albuquerque, but after an initial flurry of emails back and forth, they went silent, and I couldn’t get a response to my questions so we could advance the adoption process. I’d just about given up and was about ready to go to one of the shelters in Amarillo or Lubbock.
Ron and I were at the feed store Thursday when we bumped into a couple of board members from our local shelter. One of them was supposed to do my home visit for the Chihuahua group, but they never got back to her, either. Before my surgery, I’d been training dogs out at the shelter, but between recovering from surgery and fighting off the tension headaches that followed (protip: If you’re recovering from surgery, DO NOT spend the entire recovery period reading fanfic on your smartphone in bed), I hadn’t had a chance to get back out there all summer.
In my absence, someone had brought in a 13-year-old Chihuahua whose owner was ill and could no longer care for her.
As soon as we finished up our feed-store run, we headed to the shelter and came home with Tootsie, who adjusted to life in our pack very quickly and is contentedly napping on a pillow under my desk as I write this. I am not sure how I got by without a Chihuahua for the past 10 months, but I don’t ever want to go that long without one again. It’s like trying to get by without bees, chickens, or green chile.
That last picture is from our trip to Clovis on Saturday. Tootsie was sitting on the floorboard, watching Ron and making her very best “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!” face.
She’s a character.
Oh, and I managed to get back out to the shelter today. If you want to see pictures of the pooches I worked with, look up @redforkhippie on Instagram.
I have struggled with painful gynecological problems on and off for decades. During that time, I have tried every imaginable treatment, from medical to spiritual, with varying levels of success. The Pill kept most of the obvious symptoms at bay for several years, but as I entered perimenopause last year, it became less and less effective, until one bright afternoon this spring, my uterus decided to eject an endometrial cast the size of a hamster through my undilated cervix.
After roughly 30 years of highly unpleasant symptoms, I have the pain threshold of a rhinoceros on heroin — especially where my reproductive system is concerned — but on a standard pain scale of 1 to 10, passing an endometrial cast ranks somewhere around a 37, which is obnoxious even by my standards.
About five weeks later, I managed to get an appointment with a gynecologist in Clovis, who promptly scheduled me for a June 6 hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the uterus, tubes, and ovaries).
The surgery went very smoothly, as has my recovery thus far. I had some post-op pain for several days immediately following the procedure, but nothing severe — the worst of it felt about like moderate cramps, which lasted for two or three days, and within a week, I could sit at my desk for a few hours or walk several blocks with minimal pain. Not bad, considering I can’t take opioids and had to tough it out on Advil and ice packs.
When I had my stitches taken out last week, my doctor gave me a copy of the pathology report. No wonder I felt like crap; I had a uterus full of fibroids (10 of ’em), cysts all over both ovaries, and endometriosis gluing my right ovary to my uterus.
At this point — 19 days removed from surgery — I feel almost normal again. I tire easily, which is annoying. I’m not allowed to lift anything heavy or walk any dogs for several more weeks. It’ll be a while before I’m really comfortable with the idea of jogging on soft trails, much less asphalt streets (though I’m considering buying a cheap elliptical to use in the meantime). And in the absence of ovaries, I’ve had some spectacular hot flashes (which I’m already having fairly good luck controlling with diet; more on that in a future post). But those are small prices to pay for a surgery that has eliminated several health problems that compromised my quality of life for many years.
What a year. I’ll have some updates on my goings-on once school is out, but today, I just want to share the most valuable thing I’ve done in a while:
I deleted my Twitter account.
I’ve been considering it for years. There are a few people I really enjoy following on there, but most of the time, reading good content on Twitter is like bobbing for apples in a cesspool: You’re ingesting an awful lot of crap for a pretty unimpressive ROI.
For me, the last straw came when I looked at a thread containing 40 comments and realized at least 35 of them had been posted by what appeared to be fake accounts created for the sole purpose of harassing women and minorities. When I realized I’d blocked and reported 39 suspected fake accounts in the span of 48 hours, with zero response from Twitter, I made a decision: If that number reached 50 before I got a satisfactory response, I was done.
Amusingly, the 49th and 50th accounts I reported were fake accounts with single-digit follower counts that popped up to troll me for calling out fake accounts with single-digit follower counts.
I set up my Twitter account in 2008, but I didn’t really use it heavily until I took a job doing social media for a hotel in Tulsa in 2012. I learned some useful things from the people I encountered online, but I find it interesting that in the past seven years, my health has gone to hell in a handbasket.
This might be a coincidence.
I doubt it.
Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.”
I used to do that. And I used to feel a lot better than I do right now.
So tonight, I found out that the girl who bought our old house in Cape — who insisted she really, really loved it and was just DYING to move into it but simply could not get her lender to approve her for more than the pittance she was offering — never actually moved in. She just used it as an Airbnb, then flipped it for about $12,000 more than she paid for it.
Now, it’s possible she was telling the truth, and her circumstances simply changed unexpectedly, but I’m skeptical.
I should probably be irritated over losing my arse because I allowed somebody to manipulate me into letting her pay way less than fair-market value for a good little house that I worked like a dog to make into a great little house just so she could turn around and sell it for more than it’s worth, but here’s the thing: I have Joni Mitchell on the turntable, bizcochitos in the oven, and a view of Tucumcari Mountain from my front window.
All she has is $12,000.
It’s hard to muster up anything stronger than mild annoyance at losing money on a real-estate deal when you have literally everything you want.
I’ve been threatening since 2001 to run away to New Mexico for vacation and never come back. Last month, I made good on that threat.
I’d intended to post an update earlier, but things happened so quickly, tonight is really the first chance I’ve had to catch my breath.
In late September, I interviewed for a job teaching English at House High School in House, New Mexico. I was offered the job Oct. 2, with an Oct. 9 start date. In between, we’d already scheduled our vacation, with plans to leave Cape the morning of Oct. 5 and arrive in Tucumcari the evening of Oct. 6.
We rolled into town in time for dinner Oct. 6, put an offer on a mid-century house with a view of Tucumcari Mountain from the living room on Oct. 7, and I started my new teaching gig the morning of Oct. 9. House is up on the Caprock Escarpment, about 47 miles from Tucumcari; my 50-minute commute across the Llano Estacado and up the Caprock takes me past Tucumcari Mountain, Bulldog Mesa, and Mesa Redondo every morning and evening, usually just in time to watch the sun rise and set. That picture you see at the top of this post was the view as I came down off the Caprock one afternoon during my first week of school.
We’re on a four-day school week, which basically means I get to use every Friday as a planning period, and I have a grand total of 14 students, which means I rarely, if ever, have to bring home papers to grade. My kids are hilarious, and I’m having a lot of fun with them. Living in a small town with limited amenities makes some of the prep work a little challenging (I can’t just run to Michael’s or a teacher-supply store when I need something), but ultimately, it forces me to plan better and be more creative, which isn’t a bad thing. I’ll have some stories about that — along with tips and tricks for other teachers — in future posts.
At the moment, the only real drawback is the fact Ron, Walter, and the dogs aren’t here yet because Ron is still trying to tie up loose ends in Cape Girardeau. (Speaking of which, somebody buy our house. It’s cute, energy-efficient, and totally move-in ready, thanks to all that work I did to whip it into shape over the past two years. Tell your friends.)
I’ll have more detailed posts about my adventures — with plenty of photos, of course — at some point in the future. In the meantime, keep chasing your dreams. They really do come true, and sometimes in finer style than you imagined possible.