Friday, February 16, 2007

Why I Hate Tuesdays

This blog was originally intended to be about my admiration of Terry Gilliam, how he's one of my personal heroes and someone in whose shoes I never want to be.

However, that will have to wait. I want to tell everyone about what happened to me this past Tuesday.

We are in the process of upgrading our computer equipment. We'd intended to pick up a new PC with a dual processor so that we could return to running Premiere and, let's say, Notepad at the same time. I figured, in hindsight somewhat naively, that once the tower was bought, I could take my old DVD burners, replace the crappy Lightscribe burner we were inflicted with, and slave my back up internal hard drive to the new hard drive, just as I have in the past.

But, no. IBM and PC have decided that all the old connections I was familiar with have been arbitrarily replaced. So I spent hours upon hours, with the help of Amy's father, trying desperately to retrofit the new computer and get it to recognize my older components. And having, well, no luck whatsoever.

Tuesday: In the midst of struggling and swearing and re-installing my old software, grateful, at least, that we'd managed to buy the last existing PC running Windows XP and avoiding the bullet that is Windows Vista, there came a knock at my door. It was my neighbor, Ralph. He's the gentleman sheep farmer who rents us some of his land as pasture for our horses. He also supplies us with large roundbales of hay for the said horrible beasts so they don't starve in the winter.

"I need your help," he said. And I figured he needed me to open the gate for him so he could drive his tractor into the pasture and deliver the bale. Well, as it turns out, he'd already done that. "And your horses took off up the road. They'd never done that before. Normally, they just wait for me to leave and they go right to the hay."

I ran upstairs and thew on some clothes more appropriate to tramping around in the snow. I figured they were right up over the hill, probably in another neighbor's barn, chowing down on other hay bales, etc. They wouldn't have gone far. Ralph felt really bad about the situation, so I was trying to remain light and positive, even though I just wanted to find the two mares, shoot them, and roll them over the hill for dragging me out into the cold.

Grabbing harnesses, a couple of buckets of grain and a lead rope, my thought was that I'd whistle for them, they'd come down, I'd throw a rope around Callie, the older horse, and Filly, the younger, would follow.

My nearest neighbor, Mr. Kiger, is a quarter of a mile away. Up a steep hill. At the crest of the hill, and Mr. Kiger's land, we discovered no horses. Their tracks showed that they were there, but kept on going.

At this point, I could hardly breathe. I ran back down to the house (running a quarter mile down hill in the freezing cold with only a sweatshirt but no coat), I retreived my keys and got my car. Driving back up the hill, I saw Ralph still trudging along towards our next neighbor's land. I let him into the car and we continued on. He'd heard them at the top of the next hill.

I didn't know these next neighbors. Had no idea that they owned horses too. Let alone a rather large Appaloosa stallion who had not, upon first glance, been gelded. There were my two mares - right up against his fence, while he pranced around and screamed, trying to figure out how to get at them.

I whistled. They came. I realized I'd grabbed the wrong halters. Neither was big enough for either one of them. Not a problem for Callie - she's content with a lead rope around her neck provided there's food promised. Filly would be more difficult. Particularly when it became clear that neither wanted to leave the stallion's sight.

I buckled the short halter around Filly's neck, which was all I could do. I looped the lead around Callie, then fed the end through Filly's collar/halter, effectively teaming them together. Then I struggled to get them to walk. They didn't want to. I tried holding a bucket of grain before them. It worked for a bit, then Callie knocked it out of my hand and stopped in the middle of the snowy road to feed.

I should point out that it had been snowing for a couple of days at this point. PenDot doesn't like to plow our road. It's inconvenient, being on the side of a mountain, lacking guard rails, spilling into near 90-degree drops at some points. A snow plow driver could get killed plowing a road like this!

I'm pulling and pushing and cursing these damned horses out as I try to force them to start walking the half-mile plus back to their pasture. They did NOT want to go. Meanwhile, Ralph followed behind me in my car. My only thought was, if he has to get out at any point to help me, someone is going to come along and steal my car. Because that was the kind of day I was destined to have.

Also meanwhile, the owner of the stallion is watching me from behind his fence. He's terribly entertained by my struggles. And does nothing to help. Particularly, he refuses to do the one thing that will improve my life drastically: take the stallion into its barn and out of the sight of my mares. Instead, he lets the stallion prance and scream, he lets me fight my horses all the way down the road by his acreage. And he refuses to even answer me when I ask why he's just standing there watching?

A few minutes later, the one thing I was was dreading occurred: a pick up truck comes around the corner. I was surprised that it was going slowly. Probably, due to the snowy road, the driver was being cautious.

Until he saw the poor, helpless city boy struggling with two mares at the side of the road. The driver now figures that the best way to help this guy would be to, well, gun his engine and shoot past the horses in order to spook them out of their fucking minds!

I'm doing everything with these horses you're not supposed to. And by the time this truck comes along, I've been struggling with them to cross the road. I've somehow wound up between them.

When the asshole in the truck shoots past us, Callie and Filly both spook, turn around and start to drag me back up the hill.

They dragged me for about twenty feet before they recognized that it was me screaming "Whoa!" Callie stopped abruptly and swung her head back towards me. Since I was more or less tethered to her, I swung with this motion - into the steel guardrail. Then Filly felt the need to kick my thigh. Not hard enough to really hurt. Just hard enough to make me feel more abused.

We were still at the edge of the stallion's land. He was still screaming. His owner was still watching and still grinning and I was still vowing revenge. I knew what was happening and why it was happening.

I don't believe in God. And that pisses Him off.

After about a month of this, I finally fought and swore those damned horses back down to their pasture. The last eighth of a mile or so, Callie gets pissed that she can't see the stallion any longer and starts biting me. Then whacking me in the side of the head with her head.

I, in turn, admonish her, telling her that this is her fault. She ran out. If she hadn't run out we wouldn't be going through all of this. Because, you know, horses understand cause and effect.

The pasture: The gate was open and there was Ralph's tractor, waiting. The horses were, naturally, wary of the tractor, so they ran past it quickly. Remember: I'm still more or less attached to them. I hold tight to their various ropes and halters until Ralph parks my car and works his way over to the pasture to close the gate behind me. Because I knew the minute I let go, they were going to bolt right back to that stallion again.

There's no real climax to this story. Once they were back in their pasture, they walked calmly over to their hay bale and ignored my presence. Ralph climbed into his tractor and returned home. I limped/crawled back across the street and into the house, returning to my pile of waiting programs and my new PC, which was still laughing at me in all of its incompatibility.

And that's why I don't like Tuesdays.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A short anniversary announcement

Just a short anniversary announcement. Wanted to do this yesterday but The Empty Ghost Town That is Pittsburgh wouldn't let me. It claims, via banners and great announcements, that it is a "WiFi City". Apparently, it was only kidding.

As of yesterday, February 6, Amy and I have been together for thirteen years. We'd known each other for a couple of years prior, but it wasn't until 1994 that we finally got together. Five years later, we were married.

So last night, I got to have a good dinner with the woman who has been my absolute best friend for a third of my life. We put all the work-stuff aside. Forgot about the pending projects and the upcoming trips (as best we could) and just tried to celebrate the achievement that is the last 10 + 3 years.

With all the ups and downs and middles, I wouldn't have traded a second of it. Honest.

Love you, Amy.