Murphy Monday: Coming to a Starbucks Near You

TLH presents the new and improved Murphy Sofa/Counter/Leaning/Cozy and Entertainment center. (Nicknamed: MUSCLE). Our corporate plan is strategic placement in prime conversation locations. Our Beta model updates weekly.

Please contact Sacking Out, Inc., if your coffee house is interested in participating.

One caveat: product moves, positioning itself for maximum pet-ability.

Upon entry to test location, you’ll find the MUSCLE’s internal homing device will instantly perceive and respond to your presence, quickly making itself available for use.

Complete with audio capability and high-speed internal processor, MUSCLE will begin to place itself appropriately to your relative positions.

While hot beverages may be placed on the shelf provided, it is not recommended, due to MUSCLE’s continual monitoring of your position.  Even a slight change will instigate MUSCLE’s repositioning for your draping pleasure.

Here we see MUSCLE ideally situated for maximum comfort: perfect for staying warm and comfortable during coffee-house conversation.

For size comparison, Daisy is 5′ 10″ and Shaun is 5′ 4″. Note the color darkening on face and neck. We are experimenting with different colors, and have not decided on a final product. We’re trying these color swatches: black on the knees above the chrome, bay on the neck, red bay on the poll, and a beautiful, but not quite liver color in areas of the face.

Product is self-updating, so stay tuned!

Things You Don’t Want to Hear in Your Doctor’s Office

B-52 noseart
Image via Wikipedia

Before Shaun went to the orthopedic surgeon, she had to go to our regular doctor.  Some sort of insurance rule. The day after the accident, the staff squeezed her in at the end of the day. Really nice.

The doctor came in, smiling.  She looks down at the chart, and then up at Shaun.

Thing #1:

“So what happened?”, she says.

We look at each other. Um. ER report? They faxed the x-rays and test results to her office while we were still in the ER.

Shaun dutifully explains.

“Ow”, says the doc, wrinkling her nose at the horror of it, and distractedly shaking her finger, “I bet that hurt.”

Shaun, nodded, asking, “Did you read the x-rays? They couldn’t tell if it was fractured”. She hopes this doctor might be able to give her an answer.

Thing #2:

“Ewwww”, the doc shudders, “X-rays? No, of course not. I can’t look at the pictures.  I’d be sick”, she laughs, stares at her finger, adds, “I read the report.”

We look at each other. A doctor who gets queasy over an x-ray of a dislocated thumb? How did she make it out of medical school?

Thing #3:

“Excuse me”, the doctor says, “this really hurts, I’m afraid I have to deal with it before I see you”.

We stare at her blankly.  Shaun can’t take the medication the ER prescribed for pain: it’s clear she’s allergic. She’s in a lot of pain, and covered in hives.

Thing #4:

“Paper cut”, Dr. says, holding up her finger, so we can see.  “This little sucker  hurts like the dickens.  I’ll be right back.”

She leaves.

We don’t speak. Did she just leave a patient in pain, with a hand the size of a lamb shank, because she had a paper cut?

Shaun can feel me winding up.  “Down, girl”, she says.  “I can’t deal with that and you going off”.


I imagine chasing the doctor with a sheet of printer paper, slicing edge forward. I clamp my mouth shut. Getting mouthy will lengthen the process of Shaun becoming pain free.

The doctor returns, wrapping a Bugs Bunny band-aid around her finger. “Sorry, I know it’s stupid, but these things really hurt!” She has a hard time wrenching her attention back to Shaun: her eyes keep straying to Bugs Bunny.

Shaun stares at her.

“Nothing like yours though, of course!”, she adds, hastily.

I back down. The woman has shame. I do an emotional reboot.

Shaun asks if there is something she can take that won’t give her  hives.  The doctor says, “yes, there is”. We leave with a new prescription.

In the car, we turn to each other while I crank the engine, and say simultaneously: paper cut?!? and start giggling. Shaun says, “Seriously? I can’t actually LOOK at your x-rays, because I’ll throw UP?”

(If there was a disaster calendar, it was hidden, or we were both too deeply in shock to notice.)

Disaster of the Month Club: The Secret Society?

For back story, see Emergency Room Camping.  (in which we discover hospitals have disaster calendars: every month has a huge, full color picture of an impending medical disaster. Photo proof!)

I thought Disaster of the Month Club calendars must be limited to hospitals.  Makes sense.  The Medivac helicopter is advertising their services, and well, it’s a calendar. Graphic depictions of dire situations just on the verge of implosion, with Medivac helicopter  hovering helpfully in the background, will definitely advertise how much the hospital needs them.

That their presence could cause the accident waiting to happen seems not to have crossed anyone’s mind.  Clearly not put together by people familiar with horses.

I took Shaun and her expertly bandaged  hand to the orthopedic surgeon on Friday. It’s easy to determine his usual clientele.  Let’s just say my general practitioner has battered copies of geriatric Ladies Home Journal’s lying around, not glossy editions of Forbes, travel magazines on exotic destinations, and a current copy of The New York Times.

We waited.  Shaun read the NYT. I glanced at the real artwork on the walls, the live plants, huge waiting room, glass atrium, and alcove housing water, tea, coffee and china cups, thinking: “Why didn’t I listen to my mother? I could be a doctor now. Or a Vet.”

The receptionists wore scrubs that were tailored to fit. Is it just me, or does this defeat the purpose of wearing pajamas to work?

I prepared myself for a) homophobia (No idea why? Random paranoia?) and b) dismissively cool doctor with the warmth of a guppy.

Luckily, I was wrong on all counts.

An actual nurse walked Shaun into the exam room, chatting and being quite friendly.  She said, “I’ll need to cut that off”, nodding to the bandage, and then did a double take.

(Yes, I am going to brag.)

“Wow. We don’t usually see a bandage of this caliber from the ER. This is the best wrap job I’ve ever seen, and I’m good. I’ve never seen one better than mine.” She adds: “The ones from the ER are always a complete mess, twisted and uneven. The last one had Scotch Tape holding it on!”

I immediately wanted to slide the bandage, intact, off Shaun’s arm, frame it, and hang it in the living room. Jane’s artistic legacy.

It was hard not to cry when she brought out the scissors.

“This is excellent!  You don’t happen to remember the name of the nurse, do you?”, she says, cutting carefully.

I’m SO idiotically proud.  Maybe I could have a second career as a bandage wrapper in Emergency Rooms?  Daydreams begin. Jane: the most esteemed professional bandage wrapper. If the President sprained an ankle, I would be quietly flown in on Air Force One. I begin giving paid lectures in my head.

Shaun tilts her head at me. “My wife wrapped it.”

“You did a nice job”, the nurse says to me, smiling, unknowingly puncturing my $100,000-a-pop daydream of the bandaging-lecture circuit. “The doctor will be right with you”, she adds, tossing my expert bandage in the trash, on her way out the door.  I sit on my hands, so I won’t snatch my work of genius out of the trash. It’s ruined!

Shaun and I look around. The exam room is huge.  You could host a small dinner party. There’s a medical-quality laminated drawing of a deconstructed foot. Something the doc can point to when explaining what’s wrong.

Shaun says, “Look! On that wall!”

There’s a framed art photo of a bare foot running across a desert. The foot is mid-stride, having just touched down.

“It’s just about to break!”, Shaun adds, cocking her head at the foot’s angle, and the rocks it will soon trip over. She’s right.  That foot is going down.

We. Lose. It.

“Oh. Oh. Oh”, I gasp, choking with laughter, “Next to it, LOOK!”

We look at each other.  They really have them. Doctors and hospitals belong to Disasters of the Month Clubs!


I couldn’t let the chance slip through my fingers. I needed to see what was scheduled for July.  I owed it to the readers of TLH, heck I owed it to the entire sector of unknowing lay people, who might inadvertently show up in the wrong place at the wrong time. I get up.

Shaun furiously whisperes: SIT THE HECK DOWN, as I slide past the open exam door, and lift the page. Ta Da.


All of you!  Back away from the glacier. Something is about to go wrong with your ice axe, or your crampons. For heaven’s sake, do not LEAD the expedition! This guy falls, there’s no one to dally him. Carabiners are for keys or hair-elastic storage, not life or death attachment to a rope.

Unless you live near K2, you should be okay in July.

My apologies for the blur. I knew the second I lifted the page while holding a camera, the doctor would walk in. So I tried to do it quickly.

He walked in while the page was fluttering down. Frowned at my cell phone etiquette.  I should not be making calls!

Of course this would be in an orthopedic office.  Frostbite, ice axes (whoops…did I just miss and stab my leg?) limbs smashing in free fall…it’s…the Ortho version of Disaster of the Month Club calendar.

Murphy Monday: Growth Spurt!

Due to Shaun’s unexpected participation in the Disaster of The Month club, and it’s included, grueling, Doctor Visit Marathon, I hadn’t seen Barbie or Murphy all week.

Shaun won the Marathon, btw: she was at a different doctor’s office every day, and TWO on Thursday.  The Marathon has a delightful prize. If you flip to page 87 in The Mom Manual, you’ll see any hurt person in the household has a right to invoke The Doctor Clause on appointment day: entire family gets as much ice cream as they want.

I’m thrilled Shaun picked frozen yogurt.  (I’ve only increased one clothing size instead of six, and I discovered that I like Tart Mango.) I confess, I received a distinct, if possibly exaggerated, OOOF from Hudson when my tushy hit the saddle leather.

Shaun needs to see Murphy every weekend, despite her horse anxiety.  We went on Saturday, and Daisy’s mysterious text suddenly made sense.  Out of the blue this week, I received this text from Daisy:


That’s it. No explanation.

The second I saw Murphy, I texted Daisy back:


He hit an enormous growth spurt. I promise better pictures.  Forgot the camera.  (Duh. Kinda important when you want to take pics.)

Shaun took most of these with my cell.  She couldn’t risk getting her cast bumped, so had to stay out of the stall.

I can go out by myself now, if you’d just move over a little…? No, really. I swear. Then why am I whispering? Uh…because I don’t want to bother mom? Of course she knows, she…YES MOM, I’m right here. No mom, I’m not leaving

Me and Auntie Jane. Did you know the two legs get short as they get older?  Mine are getting short fast. They must be really old.

I’m a grown horse now.  I eat what mom eats! But I still get the good stuff too. My mom shrunk a little bit.  I have to crink my neck to get the liquid stuff. Frustrating.

Even though she shrunk a little, my mommy is big.  Someone said my daddy is big. They said I’m going to be big too.  I don’t know what they’re talking about.  Why is everyone shrinking?

Whatever. As long as I can reach the green stuff.

What’s Black and Blue and Green All Over…?

Thursday, Shaun wanted to see her hand, un-bandaged, before we went to the orthopedic surgeon on Friday.  She was worried it wasn’t “that bad”.

I suspect her thought echos all of our thinking patterns.  “It’s only an [insert injury here], it’s not that bad.”

I jumped at the chance. It’s agony to stay away from an sloppily bandaged limb. (Right?)

Shaun’s hand, unwrapped:

I began to remove the layers of Scotch Tape applied by the ER casting tech. This was stupid: the tape wasn’t holding anything. I just cut it off.

After a good look, a wash, and blow dry (hurt too much to touch) I carefully put the splint back on, and bandaged her up properly, using VetWrap to seal the ends.

Shaun looks at me with awe. She thought wrapping would hurt, because it hurt badly when the tech wrapped her.

“How did you do that?”, Shaun asks, “It was all twisted and bunched up.  It’s so smooth and unwrinkled, and the tension is perfect!”

“I know”, I say, absently, not thinking about how immodest that sounds. A couple thousand horse legs will wipe the modesty right out of you:  it’s just a skill, like learning to use a pen.  I lived through the era of No Horse  Should Be Ridden Without Polo Wraps. Having had three horses, that was 12 legs a day for years.  Add in catch riding for trainer, and bingo. Lotsa Legs.

I vote we hold training sessions for ER staff.  Just think, it’s a way horse people can give back to the community, and protect themselves in the future.

We went to the surgeon Friday.  I’m happy to report the ER, while it had the most conspicuous Disaster Of The Month Club calendar, is not alone.  There was one in the exam room of the orthopedic surgeon’s office. Yes, I whipped out my cell phone and took a picture of the disaster for…


You will never guess.  Not in a million years. (I predict TLH readers will be quite safe.)

To be posted on Tuesday…

(Oh. Shaun does not need surgery.  The fracture should heal just fine without it!)

Emergency Room Camping

Last summer, Shaun and I went hospital camping.  She had surgery, tried not to die, while I comforted her gently: if you die, I will KILL you.

This Sunday, we went Emergency Room Camping.

Holding Shaun’s good hand while she was on the gurney, I said, “Next year, how about Yosemite? Or the ocean? Something less…fluorescent. No one looks good in hospital lighting.”  Bad vacation pics.

Shaun had a horse accident, without the horse.

I get this.  Done it myself several times.

Horse accidents, especially those in which the rider hits the dirt, are distinctive: there’s usually some airborne time, along with the physics of velocity combining with gravity, just before the earth tilts, and the ground suddenly veers sideways, slamming into your body.

I heard the thud, a crack, a cry, and I RAN.

I saw the twisted neck, the thumb pointing the wrong way, the smashed face, and went instantly into horse accident mode.  Luckily, her neck was fine, just twisted funny.  I knew the thumb was grim: either badly dislocated or badly broken. It was a face down landing, with nothing to break her fall (if we don’t count the thumb). She was pretzeled into a scary crime-scene type outline.

Like every other horse person on the planet, I knew she had about 15-20 minutes of shock to buffer the pain, before it really started to hurt. The hospital was 30 minutes away: the last 10 minutes are up a nice windy road, the asphalt pocked with sink holes from the rain.

I might have used a swear word.  Or ten.

She’s hurting badly by the time we ease into the parking lot. I hunt for the Emergency entrance.

What hospital puts a kazilllion speed bumps in front of the ER??

Continue reading “Emergency Room Camping”

Country Cars, City Cars, and Washing Horses Is Still Easier

I’ve told Shaun that my car likes dirt.  Like a good hunting dog, it enjoys charging through dust billows, mud puddles, and downpours in the effort to guide me places.

Once there, it likes to loll in the hot sunshine and dry. Baking the mud into the finish. While it draws the line at mice, it doesn’t care if a tiny spider lives behind the side mirror, weaving silvery strands that frame the mirror.

I explain to Shaun: my car enjoys a more…bohemian….lifestyle.  It doesn’t mind what life throws up: flies, manure pile, gravel roads, mud, bird poop, dust. It even tolerates Grand Opening fliers stuck under its wiper at big box stores.

It’s a happy-go-lucky car. It doesn’t complain about drive through car washes, though I know it hates them.

Shaun’s car refuses to unlock if I’m wearing riding boots.  It makes me change my shoes and put my boots in a plastic bag in the trunk. When I shut the trunk, the locks pop up. If I’m carrying a water bottle? It wants to know if I’m taking it with me when I get out.

We find each other annoying.

It would drive through the car wash daily if possible. Our cars have decidedly different expectations of life.

Shaun’s car, in its Happy Place: the parking lot at her office, watching the sun rise over San Francisco Bay;

My car, in its Happy Place, in barn parking, watching turkeys run through the mud:

To me, this situation is cut and dried:

  • Shaun has a city car
  • Jane has a country car

Problem. Shaun believes my country car is really a city car that I refuse to keep up properly.  “Could you just wash it? Occasionally?”, she pleads, pausing. I can see she’s weighing whether she should say more.  Finally, she says, carefully: “The neighbor asked me how it was holding up as an off-road vehicle”.

Okay, I get it. An off-road station wagon? This is not a Shaun/Jane car issue.  It sounds like I’m irritating the neighborhood’s sense of cleanliness.  Poor Shaun.

“I DO drive it through the car wash once a month or so…”, I lie, rather defensively.

“Right”, says Shaun, seeing right through me, and raising the ante. “It’s not getting all the dirt off.  It needs a hand wash.”

I can understand her position: after all, she was the recipient of Neighbor Sarcasm.

Pick one, these are the reasons I tell Shaun I don’t hand wash (FYI: I believe them):

  1. It’s too hard, It hurts my back
  2. I get soaked, I hate that
  3. Bending over gives me a headache
  4. It takes too long
  5. No matter what I do, I get streaks
  6. I’m too old for manual labor
  7. Someone behind me is always fuming, waiting for the wash rack

(Yup, our Homeowners Association built a covered wash rack with a central drain and handy soda machine, so we can more easily keep our cars clean.)

Shaun’s heard all the reasons. “It takes 15 minutes”, she says, “what’s so hard about that?”

“Fine”, I say.  “I’ll drive it through the car wash tomorrow.”

I was thinking about this yesterday while I was slathering soap on my horse. It’s easier to wash your horse, even though:

  1. Cars don’t want to kill you if you wash their headlights
  2. Cars don’t deliberately step on the hose to cut off the water supply
  3. They don’t toss their hoods in the air trying to get out of their windshields being washed
  4. They don’t swing their trunks around to avoid getting their tail lights scrubbed
  5. Once they’re parked, they don’t move: no worry that a 1,000 lb. tire might accidentally stomp on your foot.
  6. They don’t pester you for gasoline the whole time, because a former owner once bribed them with petrol to stand still.
  7. They don’t lash your face with a wet seat belt when you’re bent over trying to decide how white that white wall is, really.

I had a blast. I was soaked. I was happy, and (drumroll)…

…Hudson looked like this for 15 minutes…

Go figure.

It IS easier. The only similarity?

Someone else is always waiting for the wash rack, fuming…

A Cell Phone’s Revenge, and Mom is Possibly a Serial Killer

Shaun and the kids gave me an iPhone for Valentines day.  Prior to the iPhone, I had an Android.  I loved my Android.  I set it to give me directions in an English accent. When lost, having an authoritative voice give me directions in an English accent gave me confidence. I would become unlost, soon.  Someone British said so.

The Android broke up with me.  Shaun or the kids could use it, and it behaved beautifully.  When I used it, ten minutes after unplugged from the charger, it died.

I gave you seven minutes to talk.  You should have made your calls then.  I need a smarter owner.  I’m a smart phone.  Please find me a smart person. Us? No magic.

No matter how many times I turned off the Wi-Fi, the Bluetooth, the GPS, the refresh, they would mysteriously come back on, within an hour.

Lee Lee used it for an afternoon.  No problem.

The Android began to gaslight me. It subverted the app I downloaded: Advanced Task Killer.  Task Killer. I liked killing things on my phone. I killed them all.

An hour later, emails arrived.  Hey! I turned those off!  Checked settings.  It says email is turned off.  It’s not supposed to pick up email or contact the internet in any way. Subversion. Stealth. Quitting on me when I needed it the most. My phone was passive-agressive.   And completely out to get me.

It stopped ringing when family members called. I didn’t even get a missed call notice. This aggravated everyone. Thus the Valentine’s day iPhone.

The Android loved Micah, and worked just fine for him.  I wiped the phone, set it back to factory settings, hooked them up. Come to think of it, the British voice was female…

Yesterday, I got a phone call.

“Uh. Mom?”, said Micah.

“Hi baby!” I say, forgetting (again) you do not say this to an almost 16-year-old. “What’s up?”

“You know how you reset the phone?”, he says, “Like so nothing is on it?”

“Uh-huh”, I say, wondering where this is going.  Is the phone acting up for him too?

“I was wondering if you backed up the pictures and stuff”, he says, “so I could delete them.”

There are pictures on the phone?  I mentally file through the pictures I know were on the phone.



I smack my forehead. They should have been deleted automatically.

My phone didn’t just break up with me, it wanted revenge. There’s a couple of pics of Hudson, a few of the kids, Shaun, a few of the dog.


Continue reading “A Cell Phone’s Revenge, and Mom is Possibly a Serial Killer”

The Young and the Liftless

I relate my conversations with Hudson to Shaun.  Normal.  They go something like this:

Jane: You’re never going to believe what happened today.  Hudson is so smart.  You know how he’s been fine with me putting the rubber boot on his hoof?

Shaun: Mmmm.

Jane: He’s convinced he will die if he let me take it off, right?

Shaun: Uh. Mmmmm.

Jane: Today he argued.  He wouldn’t let me put the boot ON, because he’s figured out he’ll have to let me take it off. Smart, huh?

Shaun: Did you say you had an argument with Hudson?

Jane: Not an argument exactly.  More like a conversation with very strong feelings.

Shaun: (putting down book)  Tell me about it.

Jane: I got all the stuff ready, he saw the boot and said: forget it. You know I don’t care if you put it on.  I don’t care if my hoof is in it.  But I don’t like when you take it off.  The rubber touches my leg.  Not working for me.  Figure something else out.  Not cooperating.

Shaun: So did he talk to you like this the entire time?

Jane: Oh yeah.

Shaun: Tell me.

Jane: (surprised Shaun is interested) Okay.  I cleaned out his hooves, leaving the hurt one for last, figuring he’d be in the pattern by then, and I totally expected he’d pick it up.

Shaun: I meant: tell me like you were talking to each other.

Continue reading “The Young and the Liftless”

Jane and Shaun Meet, Love is Not Blind, and Out of Politeness, Shaun Does Not Run Screaming

In which we have a soundtrack for our story.  Click play if you want the sound track (no video, only music, and I am totally dating myself) and read on:

Love is not blind.

I love being around animals, even those that tend to carry the Bubonic Plauge.  When I was younger, I would have happily lived in a barn, a zoo, or my former home, which was both things, squared.

Shaun and I didn’t meet for almost a year after we were put in touch through friends.  I was writing a grant and didn’t know what I was doing, she was a professional grant writer.  The business part went great (the woman can write a grant.)  Gradually, we guardedly shared more personal things: our respective moments of awwwww about our dogs, what we liked about where we lived, etc.

She was thinking about getting her doctorate at UC Berkeley.  That’s near Jane. Shaun lived on the east coast, UC Berkeley is on the west coast.  I felt fine about meeting: friends I trusted knew her in real life.  I’d pick her up at the airport, take her on a campus tour, and she could stay at my house, avoiding the cost of a hotel.

I come from a family of cops, so naturally I called up her office number, and spoke to her assistant and left a meaningless message.  She called back later, we talked on the phone. Check.  She works where she says she works.  She does what she says she does.  Jane, private eye.

I assumed she was an animal lover because she had cats and a dog.  Correction: I assumed she was an animal lover just like me.  (“Just like me” is usually a bad assumption.)

From our phone conversation, Shaun thought I had loud roommates.  I had mentioned the dog, the cat, and the house rabbit. I forgot to mention the parrots.  Or the mouse relocation program (catch in the city and release in the woods), or that I  volunteered for the House Rabbit Society: taking in rescued rabbits, litter box training them, socializing them, and then adopting them out to good homes.  Unconsciously, I might have been a tad aware this was at the top of the animal-keeping ladder when you live in a city.

She walked into my house for the first time.

It was clean and odor free.  It’s just, uh, that my dog was jumping on her, my cat was winding between her legs, my rabbit hopped over to the baby gate to investigate the new comer, and all the parrots started talking to her at once: knock knock…who’s there…HI….how ARE you…brrrring brrrring…hello?…(singing) happy birthday to you…happy birthday to youuuu…would you like to go out?….here kitty kitty kitty…give me that!… No, GIVE me that… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA…drop it!  drop it right NOW…good dog…who’s a good doggie?….and step and down and step and down keep it up….

I think it was a teensy bit overwhelming.

Continue reading “Jane and Shaun Meet, Love is Not Blind, and Out of Politeness, Shaun Does Not Run Screaming”