Friday, August 28, 2015

No, Not Him

I had Alex accompany me to the animal shelter this morning. She volunteers there for a couple hours each Saturday, and keeps me updated on what's new. Last week she told me a border collie mix had been brought in as a found dog the finder couldn't keep.

Our first dog in the Pilarski household was a border collie mix: Desi, who was so cool we didn't need an air conditioner. So personally being without a dog currently, I thought it might be a good idea to go check out this shelter mutt.

It was a crowd event; all four Queens were there with us to see the dog. He eagerly greeted Alex as she slipped a leash around his neck. That was the good part.

A good-looking little fellow, he was scared of the loud barking of the other dogs, and Alex had to tow him past the cages. Once we got him in the exercise run, he was happy to scamper about off-leash and immediately lifted his leg and peed on the fence, exposing a pair of testicles that would have made any Doberman proud. Hmmm.

Although he initially responded to Alex and Lil's invitation to play, he made a thorough circuit of the run, not only looking to see if the fencing was indeed closed, but also looking up, gauging the height of the fencing. That was a bit disconcerting. And then he pretty much lost interest in the people. A toy got his attention, but me snapping my fingers didn't even merit an ear twitch.

"He's a good looking dog," I said to Alex, "but he's not mine."

The right dog would have been attending to the other three creatures in the pen with him, sorting out who was who and who was the boss, seeking comfort after the sterile environment of the shelter he'd lived in for the past week. The only thing this dog was seeking was a way out.

Have I been pining for another dog? Not really. But all our dogs have appeared at amazingly odd times: Desi when I was nervous about how much Bernie was away from home traveling with work; Babe when one of my co-workers blurted to me, "Do you want a dog? I gotta get rid of my dog!" Howie was so serendipitous that I still have to laugh at telling Bernie I was thinking about getting Babe a companion dog, one that was a German shepherd mix, male, about four months old, neutered ... and then Bernie called me from work a few hours later after reading a newspaper that advertised a German shepherd mix, male, four months old, available for adoption at Delta Humane Society. Sebastian came home with the Queens after they went for a walk past a house that was giving away border collie mix puppies; Eperis arrived after John found a "Free To a Good Home" ad online after Sebastian's untimely death.

Speaking of Ep, he was waiting near the door when we came home from the shelter. He trotted to me instantly, and then sniffed my hands to determine what I had petted. I washed my hands and called him to me again. Eperis flung himself to the floor on his back, begging for a belly rub.

"You da dog," I told him.

...And a Reprieve

After I figured out that my Amazon links were messed up, and knowing the scope of the problem was pretty wide, I sent off an email to the Tech Editor, asking if he'd help me fix the links, figuring that four hands would get the links repaired in half the time. I was wrong.

With his mighty wizardry and knowledge of how computer shit works, he did some kind of magic "find and replace" with the Press guts, and then sent me a reply email the following morning that said that all 800-and-some links were fixed.

I cannot convey what a sense of relief I felt, except that I was so energized by the prospect of not developing terminal eyestrain that I spent the afternoon writing. Thank you, Tech Editor Josh. You made my week.

On a side note, Josh did not tell me how he fixed it. He never tells me how he fixes things in the Press guts. Maybe it's a power trip -- or maybe he just knows that I don't know what I'm doing really, and that in my hands a little bit of knowledge could be a very dangerous thing. If I were him, I wouldn't want someone to risk messing up 13 years of website either.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

No Rest for the Wicked

Well, hell.

Just when I got my studio cleaned up (part of it, anyway) and thought I was getting on top (maybe halfway up) of my email correspondence, I discovered that ALL the older links to authors' books in the Piker Press had disappeared and a simple ugly blot replaced them with a sign that said, "Let's Fight Hunger."

Now to be honest, Amazon had said that something bad was going to happen to select links and that I should address the issue, but to be even more honest, what I know about how Amazon links work or even how the Press guts work could be written on one page of a coloring book with a crayon.

And the solution is simple enough: I look up the authors' books on Amazon, get the new links, and replace the old non-functional ones with the new flavor of computer code. That I can do.

There's just so dang many of them.

And then there's the rebuild of my file in which I kept all the old links so that I didn't have to look them up on Amazon when I needed them ...

** Insert heavy sigh here **

I got all of Terry Petersen's stuff done, and all of Barry Kirwan's. Tomorrow I'll do some more.

And the day after that, and the day after that, etc.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

That Dang Horse

It's been about two years and some since Lord Duquesne (AKA "Dink") fell ill and lost weight and I thought I was never going to get our feisty Appaloosa back to health. Thought he was going to die, in fact. He was 23 years old, after all -- that's pretty old for a horse.

I stopped taking him out on long trail rides; not only was he looking poorly, but I also found myself short on time and couldn't spare the nine hours or more spent on getting to a remote location, a long ride, and more hours to get home.

At the advice of our shoer, I began feeding Dink Purina Senior Horse Feed, five pounds of it a day. Amazingly, his gaunt frame started to fill out again, and by this past spring, I had to cut him back to four pounds. He was actually getting tubby!

I like him rotund. But the other thing that the Senior Feed seems to be doing is giving him lots of energy. By that I mean, TOO MUCH ENERGY.  He's always been a bit of a bastard, but lately he's been threatening to buck if I don't do what he wants to do; and while he hasn't bucked, I'm not thrilled with his head tossing and body-bunching and tail-switching just because I don't want to turn to the left or let him run up a bank.

Today I began my morning by stacking wood. (We got two cords of wood last Friday.) Then I had breakfast and went out to ride with a couple friends. We had to change our usual route because a farmer was burning piles of almond tree trimmings on either road we take out from the ranch, and found ourselves on orchard roads we'd never taken before.

Dink was plainly stimulated by the new trail. New barking dogs, new places with almond harvesting equipment being noisy, people on quads working under the trees. It wasn't much of a problem though, until one of the riders let her horse move on into the lead.

"Stimulated" became "freakin' obnoxious" in no time flat. He began to bunch up, toss his head, and prance. When I wouldn't let him charge ahead of the other horse, he got madder and madder. Higher prancing. Shifting his hindquarters back and forth. Tossing his head trying to break my grip on the reins.

The other horses, by the time we got back to the ranch, were calm and dry. Dink was wet with sweat from his ears to his tail. I was also pretty well soaked with sweat from the effort of keeping him under control.

I know I'm going to be sore from this ride. I also know I'm going to start cutting that Senior Feed with a supplemental hay pellet that doesn't have so much jazz in it.