Tuesday, August 30, 2011

See! I told you so.

Remember when I told you I couldn't grow plants?  I wasn't kidding.  See?

I am bad at this.

I am, however, pretty good at growing dogs (no matter how crazy they might be - someone asked me recently how much crack I fed the pups every day...):

Beautiful, sweet, obedient Bella-girl.

Michelle: "George, can I take your picture?"  George: "No thanks, I'd rather lick my penis."
George: "Well if  I have to, ok.  Since Bella did it."

I really can't help narrating.  It's a problem, I know.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Today was a typical Monday.  As usual, one (or more) of our clients asked incredulously, "Is it like this every day, or is it just a Monday thing?"  These days, I answer with a smile and say, "Who knows."  I think it's safe to say that our vet hospital may be the busiest on the planet.

This particular day followed the pattern of most Mondays, except that almost every client I saw had his/her/their own interesting diagnosis for their pet before I even got a chance to look at their animal.  If I had just left the diagnosing up to them, I would have had to think a lot less, but most everything I saw would have gone home sicker than when it came in.

Client 1: "My dog is really sick.  He hollers every time I pick him up.  I think he's bloated and probably constipated.  I'm pretty sure he's got something stuck in his intestinals somewhere."   
Dr. T's diagnosis:  back injury

Client 2:  "My dog is poisoned.  He started vomiting last night and I just know my neighbor poisoned him."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  pancreatitis

Client 3:  "I think my cat is trying to pass a kidney stone."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  urinary tract infection

Client 4:  "I'm pretty sure my cat is pregnant, and it must be making her have allergies or something.  She keeps sneezing."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  Not pregnant.  Upper respiratory infection.

Client 5:  "My cat does not have fleas.  But he keeps pulling out his hair around his sides, the backs of his legs and he's got dirt that looks like pepper flakes all over."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  Flea allergy dermatitis

Client 6:  "I have this heifer that went blind yesterday.  Do you think something knocked her in the head?"
Dr. T's diagnosis:  Lead poisoning

Client 7:  "My wife says her dog is limping.  I think he's just being lazy."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  Cranial cruciate rupture

Friday, August 26, 2011

Up late at night...remembering...

When I was younger and some of my closest friends and I lived in the same neighborhood, we used to have silly parties and get-togethers in honor of fun and random things.  Like: it happened to be nine o'clock on a Sunday night and the lights were about to change to a blinking yellow light instead of a red/yellow/green one...or, it snowed four inches and school was out (even the local Chinese restaurant wouldn't open - "Snow too big!" they'd say)...or, the power was out for five days in the middle of a muggy Greensboro month of May, and we went to the manicure place (even though they had no electricity) so we could get our nails done before That Thing in The Spring (aka "Prom" at our very tiny private Classical Christian School).  Or, it was a late summer night, just before a thunderstorm, and we were sitting out on Carrie, Ginna and Lucy's back porch, giggling uproariously at who knows what (thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Clement for pretending not to hear us) and jumping a little when the loud thunder cracked, and I'd chuckle thinking about Mr. Clement's cautious reminder typed and taped to the phone: "do not use phone when lightning".

I'd always feel safe and well sheltered though, there in the city, tucked under the porch eaves, sitting on a rocking chair and feeling the cool air blow as the hard rain hit the hot pavement.  Here though, on top of this mountain, teetering on the Eastern Continental Divide, it feels a little different.  Almost like I'm closer to where the lightning meets the sky, instead of the other way around.

All this extreme weather has put me on alert lately (earthquakes?  hurricanes? terrible storms? it makes me wonder if we're going to take a trip soon), so it wasn't hard for George to get me out of bed tonight with his howling and whining right after a stormy downpour started.  He was freaking out because he was stuck in his kennel on the front porch, where I had put him for safekeeping since I neutered him yesterday.  Aaron Ray gave me a hard time today for complaining about having to leash train a dog at eight months old (imagine walking a 50 lb. yo-yo) just so I he doesn't run loose and bust open his incision.  My astute husband told me that if I didn't want to go through all this trouble, I shouldn't have neutered him...but I think I was right when I loftily informed him that, "this hardship lasts only a week, but castration lasts a lifetime."  Its a truth I feel deep in my heart.

At any rate.

I shuffled George into the dog/laundry room and gleefully went out on the porch to sit and watch the storm.

Let me tell you...it was a rattle-your-insides, heart-in-your-throat, jump-out-of-your-skin, doozy of a storm.  Here, I've got a snippet for you (and yes, I thought of the "do not use phone when lightning" warning the whole four minutes I used my cellphone to video it):

(I don't think you'll be able to fully appreciate this cinematographic masterpiece unless your volume is turned all the way up...the storm was pretty loud.)

I mean what I say about everything feeling different around here, though.  Storms are not just a good excuse to stay up until two o'clock in the morning; in these mountains, cattle die under trees after being struck by lightning and vets have to go out and examine them for insurance claims.

My boss lost 26 cattle that had been struck under one tree in a storm not too long ago.
Heavy winds and hard rains can wipe out acres of those lovely amber waves of grain.

Photo Credit
Little lost momma cats turn up on doorsteps sopping wet with their baby kittens.

This place lives or dies by the weather, which is a hard truth for this city girl to learn sometimes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tell me something...

...how could I possibly want to live anywhere else?

Every day, I learn to love this place a little more, and every day, I realize that my excursions back to the city are just that - excursions.

The Wyndham Championship made me feel like I should care about golf.  (Almost.)
My twenty-five minute drive to and from work gives me time to pause and reflect, and the vistas give me ample opportunity to appreciate the glorious "bigness" of creation.

Then when I get home, I'm greeted by this:

It's a pretty dadgum good life, all in all.  I think I'll keep it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Typical Phone Conversation

Aaron Ray:  "Hey, whatcha doin'?"

Michelle: "Oh, not much.  Just walked in the door."

Aaron Ray: "Busy day today?"

Michelle (joking):  "Didn't do a single thing.  Sat around for eight hours straight."

Aaron Ray:  "Oh.  Well, any calls yet?"

Michelle:  "A couple.  Guess what?  Remember that old donkey I saw on Sunday that had been choked for three days?"

Aaron Ray:  "Yeah."

Michelle:  "Choked again.  And the woman's husband won't be home with the truck tonight so she can't bring it to the office and she doesn't want to pay me to come there."

Aaron Ray:  "I guess they'd better figure out how to feed that thing before he takes a trip."

Michelle:  "You mean the trip where he goes to see Jesus?"

Aaron Ray: "Yup."

Michelle:  "Yeah, I know."

Aaron Ray:  "Well, have fun tonight.  I'll see you later."

Michelle:  "Ok.  Love you."

photo credit

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Dog Days.

Lover's Leap, VA
School has started back here in Alleghany Co. and ARay has been back teaching down the mountain in Surry Co. for about a week now.  Every day, I check the temperature at First Citizens on Main Street (for some reason it always reads a few degrees cooler than on the other side of the street at FarmCredit) and it's been steadily declining for a couple of weeks now.  Just a few days ago, I was remarking to Aaron Ray that the weather has been just perfect lately: warm, dry, sunny...and he abruptly burst my happy summertime bubble and said, "Yep.  The Dog Days are over."

They're over?  Already?

This city girl from the flatlands loves her some hot, humid sticky summer days where you can hardly hear yourself think for the cicadas buzzing day and night; where you live in a house of hot summer lovers (aka yankees) and the air conditioning (around here they call it "air condition") doesn't get turned on until it's 85 or 90 degrees outside, and fall shows its face around early October.  It never once got to 90 degrees in Sparta this summer and I think our highest temp. was a balmy 86 that had everyone sweltering.  Ever since Aaron Ray and I talked about the end of summer approaching, I've been coming up with all kinds of outside activities, trying to savor these last summery days and searching hard for evidence that fall is coming soon.  I'll admit, with every day I drive by a grove of wild apple trees and see them more red-tinged instead of green, or see a huge pumpkin patch full of pretty size-able pumpkins, I get a twinge of guilt for being excited about fall.  I'm just not sure if I'm ready to accept in my heart just yet, that truly, the Dog Days are over.

Here, take a look at summer in the mountains through my eyes (or my phone's, as the case may be):

We attempted a compost pile this summer.  As it turns out, George and Bella will run through the invisible fence to finish off the watermelon rinds and zucchini ends.
I can't ever get both of these dogs to look at me at once.
Left side of the road - driving through the clouds.
Right side of the road - gorgeous sunny morning.  Aaron Ray keeps trying to explain to me that each mountain has its own weather, but every time I see it, I'm surprised all over again.
Some of our clients are extremely artistic - this is a mass removal sketch that got sent with a patient up for surgery last week that proved to be very useful.
This is what country-folk do with super-huge zucchini.  Someone gifted me with four big zucchini, and now I have eight loaves of zucchini bread in the freezer.
This is how country chickens lay eggs - one is the size of a goose egg, the other is the size of a robin's.  I felt a smidgen of pain for that poor chicken.

Aaron Ray asked me to patch some of his shirts for school...so I pulled out my sewing kit and found these mixed in with the needles and thread:
I have only myself to blame.
A gift from a client after stopping to examine her kitten on my way home.  Now I have to figure out how to can home-made spaghetti sauce.
When I die, I want to be buried in the shadow of the mountains at sunset.  I can't imagine a more peaceful thing.  I wonder if this hill would be as beautiful if the gravestones weren't there?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The angry side...

Tonight, I am tired. 

When I get overly tired, I get mad. 

When I'm mad and overly tired, I cry.

Just ask my husband.  He's seen this happen.

Tonight, I came close to crying several times.  First of all, I am excruciatingly close to my day off, and with all my heart, I wish today was Friday...because that would mean that my three day weekend was already here and that I'm no longer on call.

Second of all, this evening started with several emergency visits at the office before I even left for the day.  I walked out the door at 7 pm with a spring in my step, feeling that I had gotten all the emergencies out of the way and that I was going to get some rest tonight.

Well, I was wrong.  My nightmare call came at 9:30 pm when a park ranger from Grayson Highlands National Park called and wanted me to come out to the park (an hour and thirty minutes from my house) and see to a horse that was stuck in a culvert and cut up and bleeding badly.  For those of you who know me, my directional skills in daylight in an area I know well are not stellar.  Try my directional skills in the dark, in a park, which I've never visited before..not so great. 

Also, you who know me, know that I do not enjoy horses.

There, I said it.  Now everyone knows.  On my way to the park, I was asking the Lord why we still need horses today, since we have cars and all.  I mean, horses are continually trying to kill themselves and rid us of the bane of their existance, but people keep calling me and trying to get me to keep them alive anyway.

Ok, so I'm (mostly) kidding.  I don't wish they all would dissapear.  I just wish I could admire them from afar.

So, I sewed up the horse.  It gets to go back to Tennessee tomorrow and become someone elses problem.  Hallelujah. 

But then, a HBC call comes in (that's veterinary code for "hit by car", just in case you were wondering).  So I trek my barely-able-to-keep-my-eyes-open self back over to the clinic at 12:30 am.  The dog's face is easily peel-back-able and I can see it trying to breathe without it's nose attached.

Bloody mess.  Still alive.  I'll keep you posted.

And then...the anger took me over.  Not for the crying clients who were devistated over their sweet dog. 


The anger is at the woman who called me at 1:45 am to ask me to come in to the office to give her dog something to make it quit itching.


It took every ounce of strength not to utter the phrase "You're kidding me, right?"  She had the nerve to explain to me that her dog had been itching for several days and tonight it was just too much to handle because the dog kept shaking the bed when it scratched and was keeping her awake.

What about keeping ME awake, waiting for you at TWO FREAKING AM so that I can apply some Fronline to your dog and give it a steroid injection?!??!  In what UNIVERSE is it ok to (theoretically) wake someone up to tell them that your dog is itching???

So, now you know.  NEVER wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me your dog is keeping you awake with its flea allergy dermatitis.  I will tell you that is NOT an emergency and in the future can wait until regular business hours.

End of story.

Thank you for listening to my rant.  I'm done with the angry crying now.