They’re Not Kidding April 26, 2018

They’re Not Kidding

April 26, 2018

July 5 2014 Welcome to Arizona (1)

It is dusk here in the high desert. The color of the sky is a muted combination of pale blues and lavenders above a seemingly grey horizon. No rain clouds, though. Just mellow relaxing hues with the occasional swath of pale tangerine with a touch of clouds. The younger three dogs are outside chasing the lizards that have suddenly appeared. Yesterday, they announced the presence of a snake under the propane tank. I’ve been a little worried about their interest in the tank. I assumed they were after mice, until Freckles’ voice went shrill and stayed that way until I went to investigate. I’m not all that familiar with Arizona reptiles, but, because the head was small, I assumed it wasn’t poisonous. Nonetheless, I dragged the dogs back inside.

Later in the day, I had another look under the tank. No snake. I let the dogs out and went to visit a neighbor.

There is something you should know about snakes, and other things that live in Arizona. They don’t die.

Well. Not right away, anyway. Even with their heads off, they writhe, scurry, slither, and wiggle.

Maybe you’ve seen something like this on an old spaghetti western. When the bad guy takes the final bullet, he staggers, blunders into onlookers, clutching at his bleeding torso, crying out to his only true love – wherever she is. No quick death for him. It can take hours.

Well. The wildlife apparently do the same thing.

On my way back to our house, I saw Freckles playing with a writhing something-or-another that looked like a small snake. Was there a nest under the propane? Had Freckles pulled out a baby?
No. Freckles was simply playing with the back four inches of whatever had been living out there. Playing with it because it kept wriggling in the most enthusiastic manner. Lord only knows where the head was, but the tail was having a gay old time trying to get away from my dog.

Several years ago, when I had my first encounter with an Arizona centipede (Do Not Touch!), I lopped its head off, expecting it to roll over and play dead. No, the darn thing zigged and zagged across the kitchen floor. I obviously watched Fantasia too many times as a kid, because all I kept thinking of was whether or not the pieces would regenerate, and I’d suddenly find myself surrounded by a multitude, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the brooms. I demolished the thing into its DNA strands with a heavy book, just in case.

There is another creature out here that Hannah simply loves: Child of the Earth, aka Jerusalem Cricket.

Ugliest things God ever made. Hannah can spot one from two rooms away. She trots over. Does the Stare, and then, unless I intervene (yuk), she picks the thing up, and trots around the house with it in her mouth.
Now, I love my Hannah-Dog, but this is not my idea of a good time. She won’t drop it. I won’t grab it. And the thing writhes and wriggles, and, if you believe what I was told, it sounds like a baby crying. I don’t know about that crying business. I’m usually focused on trying to get Hannah to at least take the thing outside. She dropped one in the living room one time. I stepped on it, but it didn’t smoosh. It just kind of – well. Buy some of those jelly candies, and step on them. They don’t smoosh either. Yick.

Hannah’s also the best Wolf Spider Pointer on the planet.

We haven’t seen any wolf spiders yet this year. I’d rather not, to be honest. They are quite beautiful. While they are not quite the size of a dinner plate, the one between the washer and the dryer would have fit nicely on the salad plate. I confess, I still feel guilty for smashing it to smithereens.

Spring has come to our part of the planet, and with it comes a whole Animalia I hardly know.

Should be interesting … now where did I put that book?

What the Devil? Saturday, April 14, 2018 Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona, Arizona, USA

What the Devil?

Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona, Arizona
Saturday, April 14, 2018

Where do I begin?
I suppose it’s safe to say you should trust the pastor’s wife when, after her husband informs the hiking group that this week’s trek is “relatively easy, with gentle inclines” and a round trip of two or three miles, she simply adds in, “times three”, and goes on to the next topic of conversation, without missing a beat.

It is wise to bring that extra bottle of water, so you’ll be prepared when you have to walk the extra miles to and from the trailhead, already overflowing with traffic – which is also lining the roadway – because apparently, it’s Spring Break, and not everyone goes to Florida.

It is also safe to say that this is Arizona, and that means USE SUNSCREEN because, well, it’s Arizona, and the sun might shine bright on Stephen Foster’s old Kentucky home, but it’s pretty strong here, too.
USE SUNSCREEN. Wear clothing – you know, shirts with sleeves, pants with, well, pants. Don a hat.
Assume the person who posted the “Be sure each person has a gallon of water” if they’re heading toward Devil’s Bridge – some miscalculated leagues ahead – knew what s/he was talking about.
If you have a dog, be sure there is a gallon or more of water for the dog, too.

Be smart. Take food. “Two miles” isn’t always “two miles”. And there are no road side cafes in this part of Sedona.

And, yes, gentle reader, there were “See the West” jeeps and other ATVs stumbling by as we walked the trail heading to the trail that headed to the trail that went up. While you may grimace and think snarly thoughts about their intrusive and – Shoot. What is that condescending word that implies they are a lower caliber of outdoors person because they didn’t hike? – while heading toward the Bridge, you might also, on the way back, come face-to-face with your haughty self-righteousness – and the aches in your hips, knees, ankles, oh, everywhere – and consider leaping in front of one of them, begging for a ride.

All this to say, I had an absolutely excellent time on Saturday. The Fellowship Team at Peace Lutheran organized this trip: Meet at the church. Car pool. Hike. Stop for ice cream. Come home.

But that set of telegram instructions says absolutely nothing about the giggling in the car, both coming and going. The story telling. The groaning. The admiration of the incredible beauty of a landscape that merged from scrub desert brush, to lush Oak Creek Canyon with clear running water (I do so love brooks and rivers of clear running water) and acres of Ponderosa Pine, then turned the corner to red rock spires, and washed out ocean floor canyons of yellows and reds with greys for “color”.

Sure, we had to go through the commercial district of Sedona – three of our caravan were heading to a day of strenuous shopping (and eating ice cream…), but this allowed the rest of us to fantasize about the next several trips we might take, and which restaurants we would visit after the next day of hiking. You know, just to be good citizens and support local trade, and all that.

We did have to park a mile away from the trailhead to Dry Creek Trail. From there, we had to walk the dusty road to Devil’s Bridge Trail – or the signs for it, anyway. As we got closer, there was another sign post, informing the panting hiker that the Bridge was a mere .7 mile ahead.

Right. It might be .7 mile ahead until you could see the switchbacks heading up the cliff wall. But if that was really .7 miles from the sign to the Bridge… well, let’s just say I doubt it.

In between, we were overwhelmed by the number of people on pilgrimage with us. All ages. A variety of nationalities. And yes, some scantily clad “photo op” muscular young men who, I am sure, suffered dearly later that night.

Clear sky, the perfect blue to complement the red and yellow rocks.
A washed out trail that is not where I want to be in the monsoons.

A minimum of shade, but some of the largest prickly pear ears I’ve ever seen – Oh. I learned a thing about prickly pear. These don’t cluster and reach toward the sky. Nope. This variety topples over, and lines themselves out like a proper lawn edging.
Not so many birds. Not even the occasional vulture – which, considering how many people were wandering around with no water, was sort of a relief, in a sideways sort of way.

What can I say? It was hot. Some of my thinking was kind of skewed.

The majority of the group ambled ahead, while I meandered with new friends. Eventually, we also parted ways, and I was left to enjoy the grandeur on my own.
It is no small thing to be able to take one’s time without insults and ridicule from more capable hikers.
I paused occasionally to snack on my banana-wheat pancakes with almond butter and honey. I sipped water regularly, lest I dehydrate, or suffer heat stroke. While the morning started out a brisk 38 degrees, by mid-day, the temperatures had gone over and into the 70s, maybe higher. Occasionally, a gentle breeze whisked the dust from my skin, but overall, it was downright spa-like. Simply lovely, actually.

I approached the final “leg” of the hike – the ascent up the switchbacks to the bridge.
My left knee (parts missing) has its own ideas about clambering up and down over chipped rock, sand, and ledges with no guardrails (see Walnut Canyon, Easter Sunday re: guardrails).
I had a look at the Bridge through the binoculars.
People were queued up, taking their turns in twos and threes to walk out onto a stretch of rock, and pose for some unseen photographer. A ravine of various bumps and twists waited below.
I know me. There was no way I was going out on that Bridge anyway. Hu-huh. Nope. Not me.
So, I found a lovely shaded spot along the trail where the steps allowed me to sit graciously, without having to curl my beleaguered legs into a knot. I considered playing Troll, exacting tribute from hikers and they traveled by.

I nibbled on the pineapple pieces from my sack. Then, I headed back toward the first trailhead.
The way I was creeping along, I figured the others would catch up with me soon.

Eventually, most of us appeared –  two others, with dogs, had already made other plans, and would not be returning with the group. We were slightly crisp on the edges, and wondered seriously if we’d be able to walk the next day.
I cautioned Pastor that while I may be able to kneel for Communion on Sunday, I might need help getting up.

No worries.
We all showed up for church this morning, all sore, all satisfied, all giggling.

Yes. Sometimes the trail is longer than we thought it was going to be, but if you’re traveling with the right companions, it is a ton of fun… times three.

Friday the 13th – Why not?

Friday the 13th – Why not?

Amy Lynn Reifsnyder

A friend of mine suggested I write about myself. I reminded her that that’s what I always do. She wanted something more… something about my upcoming week to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Barrow Neurological Institute. A week or so of intensive evaluations, where they will trigger and monitor as many seizures and other fun and exciting neurological events as possible. The objective is to determine which part(s) of my brain are involved with whatever it is that triggers the absences, twitching, muscle spasms, frozen limbs, vomiting, migraines, and other glee-full activities that are associated with my particular version of neurological malfunction.
She thinks because of my humorous approach to this Vacation in Hell, I should share my insights. My perspective.

My anxiety.

So, sorry, no posts today about the beauties and wonders of the world around us. I’m a gonna go ahead and post some insights to the inside of things, most particularly, inside me.

I’m not alone in this epilepsy/migraine quest for answers. Nope. There are millions of people, all over the world, who, on a daily basis, take note of that twinge in their head and wonder – Will it escalate to something grand? Is it just a minor flick of a nerve ending, or is this the beginning of another episode of twitching, bouncing, banging into things, and then stuttering, crying, feeling depressed, and sleeping, and sleeping, and sleeping.
Will we make it through the work day without anyone finding out, and, what happens when they do? Must we always be on the look-out for yet another new job?
If we follow the law, how far back will this incident push our legal ability to drive? Should we ever be allowed to drive, anyway? Who will take us to the grocery store, to work, to the doctor, if we don’t drive?

Are the candles out? Did I turn off the stove? There isn’t any water running, is there? I don’t want it to overflow.

Seizures are a ton of fun.

No. Really. An absolute riot.
I’m one of the fortunate ones who has warnings. The warnings are called “auras”. This means, when my depth perception shifts things into spatial anomalies (Take the black and white tiles on the floor, for example. First, the black tiles come up. Then they go down while the white tiles come up – Really. Who needs drugs?), and I become hyper-sensitive to smells, light, touch, I have maybe five or ten minutes to get the house turned off, and myself tucked in to some place soft and/or close to the floor, with a pillow, blanket, shirt, or backpack under my head. And then I wait.

I roll on my side, in case I vomit. I’d rather not choke to death. Just saying.

I stay there until I can move at will.
If I’m home, I usually recover tucked in by three very close and concerned dogs, with Dog #4 near the door, protecting me from whatever might want to come in.
If I’m out in public, I try to make it to the handicapped stall of a bathroom. The floors are disgusting, but I like the privacy. I have been known to make it to the floor of a coat room, the players’ lounge at a baseball field, the Health Tech room at the last school where I taught. A little busy, but sometimes ya gotta take what you can get.

I know people mean well, but trying to have a conversation with someone going into, in the middle of, and coming out of a seizure is ridiculous. Just give them time. Your peace of mind is not their first concern. They can’t take care of you, anyway.
For myself, I need time to figure out what I bruised;  if I’ve pulled any muscles; can I speak; will what I think I want to say actually come out the way I want it to – that’s always fun; can I move my legs; have my hands unclenched enough for me to move my fingers. How agonizing is that first movement going to be and will it last long enough to register a whimper or a cry, or will a grimace be enough?

No, I probably don’t need a trip to the hospital. Yes, my blood pressure is higher now than it used to be, so maybe, if my chest doesn’t feel right, maybe an EMT with a pressure cuff would be a good idea.

I will cry. I will be depressed. I will need to sleep.
I will get over it.

This depression thing is worth noting. When we exercise, so many of those lovely endorphins kick in, and we think, “Wow! Dancing is fun! Let’s do it again!” Never mind, the exhaustion, the soreness, or the occasional leg cramp. We want to do it again – so we arrange our schedules to include shopping for new shoes, wearing flattering dance attire, eating good food, and finding places to dance.
If seizures were as much fun, we might be inclined to trigger as many as possible, just for the sheer enjoyment of the recovery.
(Un)Fortunately, seizures are not fun. Therefore, most of us do all we can to prevent them – as if that’s possible.

Playing 20 Questions with someone after they have an episode is just as ridiculous as quizzing them on whether or not they are ok.
“When did you eat?” “Did you get enough sleep last night?” “Did you have too much coffee.” “When are you going to dump that loser?”

Telling us what we should have done is an invitation to nasty looks, and, when we are able to speak, some unkind words.
Last time I checked, I – nor any other human being – am not in charge of the universe. If I had enough control to prevent one episode, don’t you think I’d prevent them all? (Where is that “roll the eyes” button?)

No matter what you know about “triggers” – caffeine, fractured sleep patterns, stress – seizures just do what they want.
Try as you might, there are times there’s nothing you could have done to prevent an episode. Accusing someone of not doing all they can to prevent a seizure is just plain mean. Sure, maybe you had to stand around the cloak room, asking people to not step on your girlfriend, maybe you were mortified to be in the off-field room with the players, maybe you’ll have to find a substitute to cover classes for a few days. Get over it.

Epilepsy is not for those with control issues. Nothing neurological is.

But it’s what I live with, and what I’ll be talking about for a few essays.

Hope you hang around. Feel free to ask questions.
Please note: Everyone has their own burdens. I have no desire to play My Scars Are Bigger Than Your Scars. This is not a competition.
This is my life.

You’re welcome to continue the Journey.




Springtime in the high desert April 12, 2018

Springtime in the high desert

April 12, 2018

Alright…Today, we had wild and rampant winds. The kind of winds that blow clay particles through the shuttered windows, and down your shirt if you have to be outside.

This is not windy day at the beach sand. This is red clay. Don’t even try to keep the house clean, and never mind about crawling into clean sheets, even if the bed was made and the top blankets drawn up tight.

Remember those days on the water, when everything on the boat was damp? This is dirt instead of humidity, clamminess, and moisture.

I don’t like it.

And there will be more tomorrow…


… meanwhile, inside the RV … the stench from a malfunctioning sewer lines is blending with the decaying body of poisoned rats decomposing underneath the trailer.

Quite a choice: Open the windows so I have something less repulsive to smell, or keep them closed so I can actually breathe something besides dust.

It’s be quite a day. Quite a day.

Oh! And did I mention that my dogs don’t like the wind, either??
Yes. Snouts everywhere, whining, and scampering about underfoot, or into cupboards and corners trying to keep the mice outside.

I love Arizona. I love Arizona. I love Arizona. I love Arizona. I love …