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I’ve been digging and pounding on things again. My hands and forearms are so exhausted that they don’t work right tonight. They’ve stopped tremoring every time I try to operate a pen or an eating utensil, but they’re still weak enough that my handwriting looks even more like that of a serial killer and I may not have the strength remaining to overeat my way to a happier me in this crisis.

Oh, the horror at pam[at]


NASA is reporting this morning that their dead and floundering satellite has burned up in the atmosphere, its ashes (and chunks) scattered safely in the Pacific. We can all rest assured that we will not be killed by falling debris from this particular space trash. As per my column this week on this topic, I can now untether myself from the ground rod, take off my tin foil skull cap and wait for the lottery winnings to pour in.

For all-is-almost-clear news: I called the call-before-you-dig 811 number to have all the underground utilities marked, and I totally got slammed by customer service rep Andy. I didn’t have the coordinates for my property to pinpoint our place on the map for the crews to find us, so Andy was trying to locate us on Google Earth or some other satellite picture site. Ol’ Andy was rattling off some addresses and landmarks, and I was directing him to go east or west along Hwy 2. Then Andy said (and this is a direct quote, though I can’t adequately convey the guy’s tone in writing): “What do you have on your property? It’s a mess.”

You can’t imagine how mad I get at my parents sometimes for instilling in me the knee-jerk reaction to be polite. Between that trained response and my inherent hypershyness, my throat chokes up on what I want to say in situations like this, and I lamely stutter some innocuous response.

What I said to Andy: “Well, it used to be a salvage yard, but we’re getting it cleaned up.”

What my brain was telling him: “What the fuck, dude? Did you learn that in customer relations class, or are you just naturally that rude? Gimme my damn ticket number, then shut your pie hole.”

The little automated message at the beginning of our phone call said that my call would be recorded. So my fervent hope is that Andy ends up being the bad example in a future customer service exercise. Dork.

Yes, I’m defensive and petty. My property might be messy, but it’s my mess, my white trash estate, my empire, and I will not stand by and let some stranger besmirch it.

I will defend its honor at pam[at]

I went for an early morning walk to the back of the property — something I haven’t done enough of this summer. (My excuses being the plethora of pokey grass seeds that get stuck in my socks and tennis shoes … and plain ol’ laziness.) As I got near the far end, where the road peters out to a two-lane trail cutting diagonally over the pasture to the corner gate, the sun was just touching the tips of the hillside rising behind the horses who were clumped together near the fence line.

As I clipped along the trail (OK, walked as briskly as I could, being a little stoved up from a stiff back, whatever), Charlie, my paint pony-horse, broke from the herd and walked toward the trail ahead of me, not at me. I watched her odd behavior, trying to decide if she was “running away” from me thinking I might be up to mischief (aka, work-the-horse-type activities). But she isn’t normally sly like that — smart and clever, but not sly — and she just seemed like she was really interested in me. Just not walking toward me. It really seemed like she was trying to meet me on the trail, intercept me actually.

Charlie, aka, Chuckles

Could it be that she really is that clever, I wondered … so I stopped. And she stopped. And she stood there staring at me, then took a step toward me. So I started down the trail again, and she shifted her direction … to meet me.

At this point, I was content to let this play out, and as I sort of broadened my focus and we got closer to each other, I realized Charlie was dragging something through the grass. Her stride was too even for the something to be attached to a foot or leg, and she wasn’t panicked at all, so we just kept walking until we met up … exactly where she thought we would.

She had the end 6 inches of a 5-foot length of old (read: antique) barbed wire tangled in her long tail. It must’ve fallen out of an old vehicle or piece of farm equipment that had been drug out of there last winter to be crushed. The wire had lain in the tall grass until Charlie swept it up in her wake.

I dug a pellet treat out of my coat pocket and gave it to her for entertainment while I started untangling the wire. About halfway through the project the other two horses showed up to offer their special brand of assistance by crowding Charlie and making her shift around nervously, so I bent the wire back and forth to break it (not hard to do with this old stuff), then folded the long length into a mangled bundle and stuffed it into my coat pocket. (Rule No. 1 of a good chore coat: big pockets). This way, if she did have to trot off to save herself from the two yahoos, she was safe from further entanglement.

In no time, I had the short chunk removed and the twists basically worked out of her tail hairs. She got some good pets and another treat (though by this time I had remembered that they had been in my pocket since the spring so I questioned their treatfullness, but she seemed to feel special for getting them, so we were good).

I told John the story when I got back to the house. I didn’t even hint that I thought she was deliberately trying to intercept me, only saying, basically that she walked over to where we met up on the trail and I found the wire. He went straight to the conclusion that Charlie was deliberately finding me so I could save her from her predicament.

I’m going with that premise.

We have clever ponies at pam[at]

According to Writer’s Digest, the sixth sign that I’m getting closer to being published is:

“Looking back, you understand why your work was rejected, and see that it deserved rejection. You probably even feel embarrassed by earlier work.”

Thus, according to Writer’s Digest, I should be a famous novelist, pulling down an upper-six-figure income. I know, the article says it’s a sign of getting “closer to publication,” but I think I get to go straight to rich and famous for scoring bonus points: my self-esteem has been MIA since birth. I’ve always felt those things about rejection and embarrassment. Nice to know my predilection for hamstringing myself and kicking me when I’m down is finally going to pay off.

You’re all invited to the book signing party. It’ll be a raucous affair next to my pool, behind the expansive stable and immaculate riding arena. There will be tasty finger foods, none of which will be low fat or nutritious. Handsome cabana boys will be serving hard liquor and champagne from the patio bar. There will be no sexy barmaids because … well, it’s my party and I say so. However, there will be fireworks after dark.

And should anyone be too drunk, too full or too enamored with my cabana boys to drive home, they can feel free to slumber the party. My ginormous house and guest facility will be able to accommodate a wealth of overnight visitors.

I’m nothing if not gracious at pam[at]

In honor of Havre-Hill County Library’s annual four-day used book sale, aka book nerd Christmas, and just because I found it immensely delightful and artistically fascinating, I give you this link to a library/art/literature mystery from Scotland that I linked to from a WordPress sister site.

Art comes in many forms, and I can’t find the words to express how delighted I get when I see incredibly cool art in forms and media, like this paper/book art, that I never would’ve imagined. If the artist were my friend, I would punch him/her in the arm inappropriately hard, say “Oh. My. Gawd! That is so totally awesome!” and then hug him/her. Inappropriately hard. While bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet. And then continually reaching toward them to get a sense of their tactile nature.

Yes, I want to touchy, touch, touch them with my grubby hands. They’re a precious.

From the photos alone, I want terribly to feel their texture, see how they’re constructed, see if some of the parts move and flutter, check out their sturdiness, hold them to my nose to see if they smell like Elmer’s or rubber cement. Or that paste from grade school.

The bobbies would arrest me for sure at pam[at]


This video of an eventing helmet cam recording (see blog post fail Sept. 14). Can you tell I haven’t slept well for a few weeks?

This is sunrise this morning:

It’s also, interestingly, what my eyes look like without regular application of Visine.

Another day in paradise at pam[at]

And when the moving pictures aren’t capturing images of humanity congregating to act rapidly to save a fellow denizen of the human race from a vehicular fireball, they are showing us a ripping good time.

My cousin (longest-held friend and sister from another mister) pointed me to this video in which a guy used a helmet camera while riding the cross-country jumping course at the American Eventing Championships this year (and for anyone going “huh?” right now, go here to read more or, in keeping with the visual theme of the day, you can go here to see more about it).

Sometimes I miss haring around a jump course at pam[at]

Our cub reporter said yesterday — a Monday, a dark day, the first Monday after a four-day work week which had started on a Tuesday — that every week he feels like he has to force himself to come to work, telling himself that it’s just a week, while knowing it was eating his life away one week at a time. My response was to share a related story that went like this: Oh, I know! Once upon a time, I blah blah blah. Me me blah — then I squawk squeak squawk, so I squawk squawk squeak my blah blah until blech.

Ha ha ha. A polite chuckle was had by all.

The possibly more important point about his comment didn’t occur to me until I was getting ready for bed, when all my really deep thinking goes on, or more accurately, the really desperate thinking as my addle-pated psyche ransacks my brain, before my sleep coma, for lost thought-opportunities from my day, like they’re a misplaced set of keys or that last piece of beef jerky you think slid between the sofa cushions.

The thought was this: I wonder if I’m making Cub Reporter’s work environment into a living hell?


That would’ve been a nice thing to ask.

I went ahead and did so this morning to see if he was experiencing a general work-related malaise brought on from his place of employment or a poor choice of career track, or if I was somehow responsible for his anti-work affliction. He assured me that I was not to blame and went on to briefly state his issue and his career goal for his current position, all of which sounded remarkably like blah blablah squawk bleep blah.

And then I laughed at him.

Not with him.

Perhaps tonight I will ponder the virtue of sympathy,

a.k.a., not being an ass clown at pam[at]

If you are experiencing that angsty, people drive me to go sober so I can drive away safely, far far away, kind of day, watch this news clip about some people, like real people on the street who don’t know each other at all, risking their well-being to help another guy, a stranger guy, in dire need.

It’s a flaming success at pam[at]

This from an article by The Associated Press today about an ongoing criminal investigation in Montana’s capitol city, Helena:

“The Independent Record (newspaper) reports police are looking for anyone who has information about who stole the gnomes and vandalized the school by trying to glue them to the buildings.”

Usually, by the time I get to the fifth page of proofing I’m about dead from power reading (because when I read really fast, my lips get tired from sounding out the words that rapid-fire) and, of course, from actually having to read the news (because they make me read all of the stories, even the ones I don’t like, the boring ones, the stupid ones, the pointless ones, the gory ones, the depressing ones — all of them — it makes my brain hurt).

And then something makes me laugh out loud.

Well, it’s gems like that that keep me coming back to work … and, of course, the charming ambiance created by the editorial department (which is populated by an odd pack of beings who seem to be the progeny of a drunken, late-night pairing between some kind of evil-genius nerds and standard issue carnival workers).

So there is that at pam[at]

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