Monday, June 29, 2015

Lazy Days of Summer

Maya and I walking the levee in Scottsville
as a train passes by. 
I was driving into town on Friday for something or another and my air conditioning system goes out. Not long thereafter the battery light comes on. I'm thinking about what all may have gone wrong and start shopping for Jeeps in my head. I also remembered the smell of burning rubber coming from my car recently. I know next to nothing about cars, but I put 2 and 2 and 1 together and theorized that my serpentine belt had broken. I long ago stopped doing regular maintenance service on that vehicle so it was entirely plausible. I got home, looked under the hood, and found no belt where a belt should have been. We got the car to the shop but it was too late for anything to be done about it on Friday so I was without a car all weekend. 

The James River in Scottsville is running very high right now.
Saturday was a rainy day and I had just gotten back home so I was content to stay home and vegetate for the day. One day of that was enough, however, and Sunday broke as a clear and sunny day. I drove Clay to work at the brewery in Scottsville so I could have his car. Maya and I did a hike around Scottsville. It was new territory for both of us so that was fun. We ended back at the brewery when it opened at noon, had a couple beers, and then went back again in the evening before closing to bring Clay home. 

Still no car on Monday. I finished work and was bored, but the van should be ready on Tuesday. I'm medicating my foul mood with beer Monday evening with only limited success. The pictures are from the past couple days. We've had a lot of rain and everything is growing and doing well.

Maya relaxing after our 3.7 mile hike while I had a beer.
Just up the hill from the brewery is
this cemetery for those who died in
a confederate hospital in Scottsville.

Some of the daylillies growing in our pasture.

The container garden is growing right along.

Maya trying to place an order at the bar.
They were out of Milkbones but Clay took care of that today.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

O Pioneers!

A view of Kanopolis lake, where my family spent many
weekends throughout many summers of my childhood. 
I've spent more time in Kansas in the past month than I have since graduating from high school. It's been a weird, somewhat surreal, experience. The first trip, back in May, was just to visit my mother and help her get her garden underway for the spring. I was there for Mother's Day for the first time in many years. I went back for a while at the beginning of June when she had surgery to remove a nasty bit of colon cancer, and then went again to be with her when she was back at home just to help out.

Purple poppy mallow, one of the simplest but most
beautiful prairie wildflowers.
I've always viewed Salina, Kansas, as my own Wicked Little Town. I left after high school and after college left Kansas entirely, with no intention of returning except to visit family. It's not that I had a bad childhood. Quite the opposite really and I have many fond memories of many good times from there. And it's certainly not a reflection on my family. I hadn't even come out yet or even come to terms with being gay myself. This was Kansas back in the 70s. Like most of us in the gay diaspora, I ran away to be gay, to grow up and live my life in freedom from the ignorant rednecks and small-minded religious bigots who predominate in the state. I thought it was the best thing I could do for myself and for my family. Frankly, I never thought of staying in Kansas as an option. [I still think that young adults should move someplace other than where they grew up, just for the life experience, even if they eventually choose to move back.]
My mother's pug, Jake. A lot of attitude in a
small package.

I moved east, came out, and made a life for myself, such as it is. I always knew there were other gay people from Kansas, and even some that stayed there, because not everyone has either the inclination or the ability to emigrate. But all the gay people I knew had left, except one, and his is a tragic tale ending in an early death following a never fully realized life. I was curious then, when a notice came across my Facebook feed about the Salina Pride event that was to happen while I was there. This was its third year and I had heard something about it in the past because my mother knows and is connected to every left-leaning, progressive person in the entire state of Kansas.
A water park built in Salina long after I was there to enjoy it.
I'll never know how they got away with the rainbow colors.

From the Salina Pride event.
I went to the event, both to support it and just to see it. The entire country has come a long way in the past 40 years and Kansas has come along with it, at times kicking and screaming and scraping the bottom along with Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and much of the deep South. Still, it was heartening just to see that the event existed, and to meet some of the people involved. It came as no surprise that, although I knew no one there, I met several people who knew my mother who has been a member and supporter of the Kansas Equality Coalition since it was formed.

A donkey planter in my mother's garden. He may
be the most "relentlessly gay" donkey in town.
The feeling I experienced was difficult to describe, except as a total mindfuck. It was like a dream sequence where I was being shown an alternate timeline for my life. I looked around and saw people who could have been me, or I could have been them if I had followed that path. I always thought that to have any kind of life I had to get the hell out of there, but I can see that isn't necessarily so. It would have been different, but not categorically better or worse. I have no regrets about my life. It has brought me to where I am and I'm happy with where I am, but this was a rare opportunity to glimpse what might have been, and it wasn't terrible.
The Cozy Inn is a Salina landmark.
They sell odoriferous little sliders from
a shoebox sized space and have done
so since 1922.
I was pleased to learn that there are now actually
two craft breweries in Salina, although this can
of Buffalo Sweat is from TallGrass Brewery in
Manhattan, KS. I'm not sure Salina beer drinkers
have yet embraced the craft beer movement.

These folks are truly this generation's pioneers, settling in hostile territory to make a home for themselves, knowing that progress comes only from hard work and perseverance. They fight the good fight even when the outcome is rarely ever in doubt and even more rarely in their favor. I admired these folks and almost felt like a quitter in comparison to them.
A wheat field near Delphos, KS

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Anika, Roo, and Gigi go to the vet

We had a follow up vet visit with Anika today. The difference in her is amazing. The sores on her skin have healed up. She's growing a full new fur coat to replace the patchy one she had before. Even the hair on her tail is coming back. She got some more medication and some ear drops, but basically will continue on this course for a while. The next visit will be to check her bloodwork again to see how her liver and other organs are handling the treatment.

The owner reports that she doesn't scratch any more and is no longer so sensitive to being touched. She's much improved and it was great to see. Thanks to all of you for making it possible.

Gigi came along too, for another check on her thyroid levels. She went to being low to being high on the medication, so we've been reducing the dose gradually. She was still on the high end of the normal range today and that's with getting it just once a day.

Her day started early and so did mine. I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. to give her the thyroid pill because the test needs to be done between four and six hours after the medication is given. I woke her up and handed her a small meatball with the pill hidden inside. She thought it strange, but she ate it and then went back to sleep, maybe thought it was a dream. I stayed up, however, and got an early start on my work day.

Gigi looks good, she's grown back missing fur too, but she's dropping a few pounds with the boost to her metabolism, so I need to get her back to twice daily eating. She won't object to that.

Maya came along for the ride this morning too, but she stayed in the van with the A/C running while Gigi went in for the appointment. Roo came too and he came inside just to check his weight, which was up to 60 pounds. He started out at about 40 pounds and was about 53 when I took him, so he's moving in the right direction. I'm not going to have time to deal with getting him neutered and adopted until after my next Kansas trip. He's doing fine, though, and he's an easy foster and a good playmate for Barkley and Maya.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Garden progress

This is a genetically modified coleus
that thrives in the sun. It's doing very well.
I flew back to Kansas last week because my mother had surgery. It went well, the prognosis is good, and she's recovering nicely, currently in a rehab center for physical therapy before she goes back home, probably towards the end of this week. I'll be going back out there on Sunday as my sisters and I take a tag team approach to helping her out as she regains her strength.

Having been away for a week, the growth of everything in my garden was been very noticeable. Apparently it was rainy and cool here much of the time I was away, but it was good for the garden.

This doesn't look like much now, but most of those sprouts
are sunflowers (a few are weeds). This will be a very pretty
flower bed later this summer.

It was hot and humid today and my flight was late last night so I didn't feel much like getting out for a hike today, but Maya and I got out for a short one. That seemed to satisfy her, she doesn't care about the time or distance as much as just spending time with me. We didn't go very far and certainly not very fast, but we went.