There’s an old Wife story about “spiney.” I think we were visiting with my dad one afternoon, probably a Sunday afternoon because I recall there being ham and beans in the large pot simmering on the range. That means the weather was cool and there was probably football to watch, back in the days when I watched professional sports. (I loved watching football games with dad.)
Wife remarked something about my few-day-old stubble and couldn’t think of an appropriate descriptor. Somehow or another, she managed to say something about me being “spiney,” and it came out unintentionally.
Of course, dad picked it up and ran with it, much to the embarrassment of Wife. That was another great laugh and a great Wife story.
We were hiking on the Riverview Park trails a week or so ago and came across a patch of cockleburs. When I saw them, several thoughts ran through my mind in quick succession.
“Boy, I’m glad that the Girl didn’t get into those! Even with her short fur, she’d be an unhappy Girl when I had to pull them from fur, ears, and feet.”
“Boy, I’m sure glad I didn’t get into those. They’d be a bitch to get out of my socks!”
“I sure got into a lot of those back in Missouri, particularly when squirrel hunting in the fall. They were a bitch to get out of my clothes and are spiney as hell!”
“Those might make an interesting photograph. I’d better make one.”
At that, I pulled up the Panasonic Lumix G3 and got to work. I happened to have the Wollensak 25mm f/1.9 cine lens on the camera. It has an interesting, if a bit busy, bokeh.
Yesterday on walkies I carried my slingshot and was practicing shooting at found objects. (I followed the four safety rules, of course.)
This morning I discovered that one of my favorite pens, a baby blue Fisher Bullet Pen, was missing from my pocket. I had it clipped to the edge of my left slash pocket. I carried shot loose in the bottom of that pocket.
Apparently, while retrieving shot from my pocket, I snagged my Bullet Pen and released the clip. It fell to the ground without me noticing.
I decided to walk my route, which I probably would have done anyway, just in case I might walk across my missing pen.
Have I said that I hate losing things? I’m still looking for a lost/misplaced 12-ft tape measure that I’ve had for 40 years.
Well, as Lady Luck would have it, I walked up to my missing Bullet Pen. I’m surprised someone else didn’t pick it up because it really stood out.
I moved it to my left cargo pocket, where it will live with a few spare poop bags, my Olloclip auxiliary lens, and my pocket flashlight.
It was a rough couple of weeks for the Girl (and of course for me was well). She healed quickly after her surgery. Yes, the mass was a soft tissue sarcoma, but it was low grade and the margins were clear. She has a 15-percent chance of recurrence. I’ll take it.
I made the image on the day we returned so her sutures could be removed. I can do it, but the clinic gets pissy about it if I do. [Heh…] Her wounds were healing nicely and we were released to normal activity again.
However, that afternoon she seemed sick. Her symptoms were coughing and gagging and she ate more grass than usual. I was concerned.
She was not better the next day, refused to go walk, didn’t want any food, and seemed really off. So I called the vet and we returned for the urgent-care clinic that evening (at 1600h).
The vet found nothing obviously wrong and gave me a plethora of diagnosis/treatment options. I elected to go with some supportive care, left the Girl there, and returned to pick her up later in the evening.
She seemed better that Friday (a week ago), so I thought we had passed the worst of it. However, over the weekend I noticed she still wasn’t acting normal. Something was just off.
I struggled with the decision to return to the vet for another visit. It was partly cost and partly the uncertainty that anything definitive would be determined. I hate spending money on medical care with a null outcome. (I have a long history of spending money on medical care with no outcome.) So I thought I’d wait until the weekend passed and see if her condition changed.
Monday came and she refused to walk again. We walked to the mailbox and back, then I drove us up to the old orphanage and we walked the site. She was not feeling well. She kept me up most of the night wanting to go out and just feeling miserable. But, early in the morning she vomited up a bone shard (that I had not seen her eat) about the size of a half-dollar coin.
I thought that might be the problem. So I decided to wait until after the 4th of July holiday to see if another vet call was required.
By Wednesday she was her usual self once again — pestering me to go walkies, asking for play, asking for treats, eating normally, and generally being the pain-in-the-ass that I love.
Her wounds are mostly healed. The rough patches of scar tissue receded. Her fur is growing back (what little of it there is), albeit slowly. She is back to telling me what I want, once again, like most of the women in my life.
It was a rough few weeks. It was horribly expensive, in terms of money, time, and energy. But my constant companion is healthy and happy again. Life is good.
Last weekend we drove from my in-laws’ place north to Vienna, Missouri to visit their youngest daughter and her family and to celebrate grandfather’s and grandson’s birthdays. It was a beautiful day and much too nice to be inside sitting around watching television. (I remembered why I don’t care much for television programming as well. The sports were OK; but the remainder — not so much.)
The field their place overlooks was clear and I thought a walk would be good for both the Girl and me. So I asked permission to walk down to the end of the field and look around. Permission received, the Girl and I headed off to the chagrin of the other dogs in their pen.
I puttered around the deer stand a few minutes, the Girl making happy sounds behind me. I wanted an image of the stand and of their place before we headed back for supper and celebration. As I finished my last capture, I discovered why the Girl was making happy sounds… she found something to roll in. She trotted over to me, looking quite proud of her self, grinning and laughing.
“What have you gotten into????”
She looked at me, still grinning.
“#$%%@!!!@ Ki? You stink!”
She was no longer grinning. But I couldn’t hold the anger long and her joy was contagious.
“Alright then… you get a bath and you’re not going to like it.” And with that we headed back to the house. I acquired soap, a towel, and the help of my nephew. He held her collar while I wet her down and washed her. She started to shake a couple of times.
“If you control her head, she can’t shake,” I told nephew.
Clean but wet, I toweled her off a couple of times so she wouldn’t get cold. Her collar went into the trash. I had intended to replace it anyway.
Supper and celebration were fun and appropriate. The Girl smelled pretty good as well. FiL and I stopped at Wally-World on the way home to buy a couple of cheap collars, one to wear and a spare in case the first failed.
I woke early this morning and took care of some bookwork that needed attention. The Girl came into the office and checked on me a couple of times, then asked to go out. She didn’t stay out long, though… just long enough to eliminate. Then she dashed past me back into the house to go snuggle up in a warm bed.
I laughed and returned to my chores and morning coffee. I wanted to get some things cleared from my list and I wanted a walk.
I fed us, knowing it was cold and wanting the sun to be a little higher in the sky before we headed for Silver Saddle Ranch. Between her asking and my antsyness, we headed out about 0900. When we got into the rig, I noticed the ice on the windscreen. It was about 20F out there. Fortunately, there was not much wind or it would have been a miserable day.
I parked the rig and got us out. She immediately commenced her sniffing routine. I put on another layer, got my gloves out, and dropped the flaps on my hat. We headed out on one of our common trails, the frozen ground crunching under my boots. I worried a bit about the Girl getting cold, but she showed no sign of being cold. We were moving, there was sun, and there was not much wind. So I relaxed and enjoyed the bright, cold day.
The desert vegetation is sleeping now. The cottonwoods have shed the last of their leaves and are in their winter regalia.
When we got to the Mexican Ditch crossing, the Girl balked. There was a bit of snow and frost on the board we cross at the irrigation gate. So I crossed, checking the footing. It was not bad, so I encouraged her across. Once I crossed, she decided she could too… although gingerly.
The Carson River was up. I don’t recall seeing it that high in a long time, perhaps last spring sometime during the spring snowmelt. We had a lot of rain and snow and it showed. The high-water mark was about a foot higher than the current stage, so there was even more flow a day or two ago.
We approached the Mexican Dam, but I pulled us up short. There was no way I was going to let her out on the headwall or weir. It would have been a disaster if she fell in today. Not only was the current much stronger than she’s seen it, but the cold would have hurt her.
So we paused at a pull out where I could get an image/video and she cold sniff around. We greeted a few other souls who passed us along the way.
It was cold, so we didn’t pause long. I wanted to keep her moving so she wouldn’t get cold. On the way back to the rig, there was a little breeze in my face and that was not pleasant. It was cold enough to burn a little. I need to stick a shemagh in my pocket, I think.
Back at the house, a cup of coffee and a treat were appropriate. Then it was time to get on with setting up my house.
Although the weather changed abruptly Saturday evening, Saturday morning was beautiful — cool and sunny. On our morning outing, we met Mike and Sandy. I’d watched Mike working Sandy a day or two before and he handles her well. They play a jumping game with a bird dog lure that is fun. Sandy can jump.
While we were visiting with our friends, Mike and Sandy drove up. She came over to the Girl and introduced herself. And then… the game was on.
Sandy has a bit of bull terrier in her. She’s has a gorgeous coat and color. Her personality is funny and she is engaged and interactive with her handler and her friends. Interestingly, she is laid back but has a no-bullshit side to her that the Girl discovered.
So, once that was sorted out (the Girl can be a real bitch at times), off they went to play. The Girl loves to chase the ball; Sandy loves to chase and tease. So for the next half-hour Mike and I took turns throwing the ball and playing with the two playful canines.
During one break in the action, I had the opportunity to make a few images of the girls together. They were relaxed and social.
Saturday was a beautiful day here in Northern Nevada. The morning was gorgeous and the Girl and I were out and about early to walk and play. About noon the wind came up and our afternoon hike was blustery, to put it mildly. I knew weather was coming in — I could see the advance guard creeping over the Carson Range.
Sure enough, when I woke Sunday morning (the first time), I peeked out the window and saw the coating of white. The Girl had to go out, but we delayed our morning outing until the sun was up and shining brightly. After breakfast, we dressed for the cool and headed out.
The Girl, like many dogs, is frisky when it’s cold. She loves to play in the snow as well. She will dash about, kicking up snow and laughing. This makes me laugh (which is good) and it’s fun to chase her playing a little grab-ass and rough-housing with her. She loves play but I have to manage her energy or she can be a little over-excited. I have torn jeans and sweatshirts that will attest to that.
Over on the old State Orphanage property, there is a line of pines along our regular path. This Sunday morning they were adorned with a sheath of snow and ice. The morning sun illuminated that combination of color and texture with a beautiful light. So, while the Girl checked all the squirrel holes (uneventfully), I paused to make a few images before we headed back to the room for warmth and coffee.
There will be more snow, I’m sure. Perhaps we’ll wander up into the mountains this winter for some play and photography. That could be fun. But one thing I know is that winter is coming. It’s not here yet, but this little snowfall reminded me that winter is on its way.
Thanksgiving morning we rose and started our day. The day began like so many others — with the routine. I then sat at the computer for a few minutes, ruminating on what I might write and what image I might share. I considered the day, its meaning, and reflected for a few minutes on all that I am thankful for. I paused for a few minutes to pray, to give thanks for God’s provision for me and my family.
I received a text message from a friend (a travel nurse) that her apartment-mate was taken to the hospital, potentially with a serious illness. I paused for a few more minutes to sit before God in prayer for my friends.
My muse passed and I began me day. Traffic was light and morning walkies were alone. Our usual suspects were not at the park when we arrived and not there when we left. Yet, the Girl and I had a good time walking, hunting squirrels, talking, and playing. The air was cool and the Girl was frisky, so the play was rough and rowdy. But, eventually the ball won and she was ready to return to the room for breakfast.
I received a text later that day with relief that the nurse’s illness was not life-threatening, but still possible serious. I paused, again, to pray for a few minutes.
When I took the Girl out later, the day was gorgeous. So, I elected to go for a longer walk out by Carson River. I took one of our favorite routes. Although the air was cool, the sun provided much-loved warmth. The Girl had great fun sniffing, leaving pee-mail, and critter-hunting.
She sometimes is distracted and falls far behind. When she realizes that I’m ahead a hundred yards or more, she tears after me, beating feet with that happy-dog face that is so enjoyable. That face, that engagement, this relationship I have with an alien species is another item I am deeply grateful for. That thought often comes to mind while we are out walking and playing. I laugh when she zooms past me, kicking up sand to patter face and body as she passes.
These sun-bleached kayaks were parked along the river all summer. I passed them many times on our walks. But they are particularly striking now, with the drape of winter colors surrounding them. They really caught my attention in the afternoon sun. And so I paused to make an image.
We headed back to the rig to go home and clean up for supper. Young Son, my friend Jimmy, and I shared a Thanksgiving supper in a man’s fashion. We had New York strip steaks, French bread, salad, and pumpkin pie. Jimmy brought a nice wine and we toasted Thanksgiving and Wife. My kids and I always toast Wife when we are together. The meal and conversation were fun and to be thankful for.
My friend texted that her apartment-mate was home with no clear diagnosis. There was another thing to be thankful for.
The celebration broke and Jimmy and I headed home. With the darkness, the air turned cool and I was ready to settle in for the evening. It was a good day.
I finished the last bit of packing and then loaded the rig Monday morning. It’s an old routine done many times before, but I was a little anxious to get it all done and get moving. For this trip I had a deadline in front of me, so there was no leisurely “leave when I’m ready” approach; I was in “get it done” mode. That done, we stopped at the doggie park to visit the Girl’s friends and let them know we were headed out. Social groups wonder if a member suddenly disappears.
The morning of All Hallows Eve was bright and sunny, a wonderful fall Nevada morning. There wasn’t much traffic, although the state troopers were working traffic along US 50 on the east side of Carson. We drove east, the Girl interested at first, but soon curling into her travel tuck in the seatpan of the passenger’s seat. I love to reach over and stroke her side, play with a paw or ears, or just touch her. She’s the best traveling dog I’ve ever been around.
When the weather is nice, we often drive with the windows down. She likes the air and so do I. When the weather is not so nice, we both enjoy having some music playing and the heated seats of the 4Runner. Creature comforts are really nice.
I stopped in Fallon to get a coffee and some travel cookies. Wife got me started on McD’s oatmeal cookies. I don’t get them often, but they are a treat with coffee and are something the Girl can share. I really don’t care that much for chocolate chip cookies anymore, unless I make them.
We blasted across Nevada in the beautiful sunshine. After several days of rain and gray skies, the sun was a welcome old friend. We stopped a few times along the way to get out of the rig, stretch legs, and empty bladders. I really enjoy those stops. Unfortunately I didn’t take time to load geocaches into the GPSr for this trip. Those always make for good stops, although one can waste a lot of time on them.
As we dropped into the playa lake west from Hinkley/Delta, Utah, I stopped to watch the sun set and give the Girl a chance to do doggie business. I need to retrieve the images from my compact camera. I think I’ll do that this week. The sunset was pretty cool, but the alpenglow on the mountains was better.
The stop reminded me of the time Wife, Young Son, and I stopped one cold winter day to help a stranded traveler along this stretch of road. The old cowboy appeared to have Parkinson’s and had fallen asleep and run off the road. One of the tires on his rig was flat and he was struggling to get the tools from the rig to change it. Young Son and I helped him while Wife worked overwatch. That was a long time ago, probably almost ten years. Time passes rapidly, it does.
I pulled up in Delta, Utah to spend the night. The Deltan was clean enough and the price was good enough. I’d stay there again. It’s a basic room (meaning few amenities), but it’s clean and quiet and that’s all we really need.
Tuesday morning I woke really early and decided to head out before dawn. I made some coffee to help wake up while I gathered up our few things. The Girl looked at me like I’d lost my mind. But when I opened the door and carried things out, she was ready to go.
Again, she curled up in the seatpan, enjoying the warm seat (bun warmers on!). We stopped at the Denny’s in Salina, Utah. They had moved since the last time we were there. The server who worked our table laughed when she told me, “See that girl over there? She’s new. She just said to me ‘There’s a dog over there!’ I told her ‘That’s a service dog.'” and she smiled.
The Girl looked up from under the table, checked in with me that all is OK, and then resumed her repose, waiting for the bacon she knew would be coming as a treat later. I always save back a little of my breakfast meat, whatever it is, and treat her for being so well-behaved. I use every opportunity I can think of to provide positive reinforcement for her. She has to work for it, but the rewards are good. The bonding is even better.
We watched the sun rise from the east in the badlands of Utah. That area west from Green River is one of my favorite areas. I had a blast there last summer exploring that San Rafael rise and think I want to go back and spend some more time there. The next time I go, however, I want to have a mobile house so I can stay in my own space. I think I’m tired of hotels.
The weather was pretty cool for this time of year. When we topped out of the long climb east from Salina, it was 28F. But, with the sun in the sky and little wind, it didn’t feel all that cold. The stops to get out of the rig were pleasant and I enjoyed playing with the Girl.
Passing through Grand Junction, Colorado, I thought “I could live here.” There is plenty of what I love most about the west — vistas, mountains, dry air, and blue skies. I think there would be plenty of places to explore.
So, we’ll see what happens. Perhaps we will move to Grand Junction for a while. I’ll trust God to provide that direction.
Traffic from the tunnel downhill into the Denver Basin was crazy, as always. The term “bomb the hill” came to mind several times. There are effectively two lanes in each direction; the third lane is for slow-moving heavies. There were lots of slow-moving heavies!
I was reminded, again, of why I don’t like living near large cities. I don’t care for the traffic and I don’t care for the rushed pace. I prefer my life to be lived a bit slower than that, with purpose and reflection. There’s nothing wrong with the hustle-bustle of city life; it’s just not for me. I’d much rather spend my days wandering in the sagelands than in the noise and confusion of city life. I’ve done that because I needed to (that’s where the work was), but I’d rather not do it anymore.
So, here I am in Denver. I wonder what the day will bring?
Pibbies have a reputation for putting on displays of incredible silliness. My favorite silliness of the Girl is what I call a zoomie. If one has been around dogs much, they know exactly what a zoomie is. If not, well then that is your loss, not mine. Suffice it to say that one must stay out of the way of the zooming canine or risk life and limb.
We enjoy our walks (walkies) and go several times each day. Some days our walkies are much longer than others. On this particular afternoon, we walked across Stewart Street (taking our lives in my hands) and had a play over in the old Nevada State Children’s Home property. It’s mostly abandoned now, the structures used for storage I think. The grounds are home to a number of California ground squirrels (targets) and are visited often by neighborhood canines and their handlers.
We know several good folks there. Good folks are fairly easily identified by their companions, who are also good folks.
This particular afternoon I forgot to bring the Girl’s Chucker and ball — one of her favorite toys/games. So, we improvised with a branch blown from a nearby poplar by the recent winds. Pibbies will destroy branches. So, we had fun with this one, tugging and chasing for a half-hour or so.
Then playtime was over and it was time for more serious pursuits. But the games are fun!