Staying with my friend Ed in Tahoka, TX near Lubbock.
Three years prior and leading up to this move, I'd started having some rather difficult health issues, with 5 surgeries, each one a little more intense than the one before. I got behind on EVERYTHING inside and outside. The inside was mostly demolished and ready for remodel, while outside was an addition to the existing structure, out the back door for studio/work shop and storage. The add-on was a hallway from the back/side door, around to the large room on north end. I'd gotten some recycled picket fence panels for privacy and safety for the dogs and I to put around the existing chain link fence.
I struggled to catch up, and would almost have everything within do able and working within a tight budget. Then important house repairs were added to the TO DO list as only the frame was structurally sound. The wood floor had begun to rot out from water leaks underneath without my knowing. Mice got into the walls during cold bitter winters, and had chewed the wiring. A couple of leaks in the roof that were on the edges, so that they were not noticeable until the interior walls began to show a stain and in one closet had gone from the ceiling, between the exterior and interior walls down to the flooring where it was absorbing the moisture beneath the carpet.
I loved the yard and the area for the space and additional potential to have the yard, my "kids" (pets as most would call them), and ample work space for my artwork. Mornings during meditation, the sound of Mockingbirds, Doves, and other birds had been replaced by the sound of BOOM boxes from the new neighbors. I could pretty much tell time by the sound from the repeated honking of car horns: when it was noon, after school 3 - 4:45 pm. Sometimes this was also true in the mornings starting about 5AM. Though all of this, was only temporary in my mind, annoying interruptions several times a day became gradually more frequent. By 6:00pm was the sound of loud arguing voices, sometimes gun fire, and even helicopters after dark with spot lights that became a routine in a very short amount of time.
I no longer felt safe outside after dark, to sit and enjoy the stars, too keep working on projects that required outside space. Evenings watching magnificent Sunsets were no longer possible as the view was replaced by dumpsters, trash, and the side of another mobile home that had been a vacant field with its own little ecosystem.
With 8 dogs, 2 cats, and 11 goldfish, plus a big yard that I had wanted, it was not only hard, but what seemed an impossible task to find a place for me and mine. The large yard I grew from what had been dense, thick and tall weeds into a sanctuary of grass and trees. I left the enormous prickly pair cactus and area around it, as well as ant beds, native horned lizards (Horny Toads), lizards and other small wildlife to live in peace. On one occasion I did chase away a Grackle that was trying to make a large Horny Toad into a meal. Down the row someone was shooting at the birds several evenings in a row for about a week.
One morning I found a dead fledgling dove by the water hole I'd dug for them and my dogs.
|Heather enjoying her favorite thing, playing in the water.|
Finally I gave up. I could deal with all the mess of the house repairs, the bitter cold winters when even water bowls for the dogs had become slushy with ice.
My house was drafty, and in winter, though short, the wind would rush through around windows, as if they were not even there. I adapted.
Going outside, any time of year, had become too uncomfortable to enjoy, sometimes too dangerous to enjoy. Not by weather, but the new setting that came with the Oil Boom progress.
Trash burning across the street got into my lungs when I was making some outdoor repairs last Fall. Pneumonia set in. Again, I was forced to stop working and Winter came with me unprepared.
I loved the work, progress always felt good, but never was there time to sit and enjoy any of it any more. The BOOM boxes, routine visits of Sheriff cars and CPS, in the neighborhood, the views replaced by trash, and more trailers. I unfortunately witnessed animal cruelty on a routine basis as well. This was too much to make all the other work worthwhile, or even possible. Working outside had been my joy, it took all my energy from making dinner, keeping up with cleaning and so forth inside. I managed okay with the clutter, with no other people living with me, I tried to stay positive thinking I'd have more time and energy the next day.
A record drought this) year 2011, after the record floods last year, brought the fire hazards. Plus an unexpected answer to the question "what and where could I go with 8 dogs, and 2 cats?", the fish I could take to Sis Deb. How would I move? It was all too much for one person, especially a middle aged woman who's health had not been up to par since the health issues started three years ago. The death of many friends two years ago, a couple of closest friends had moved away. Remaining friends older than me, unable to assist, even though they tried. Family too busy with their own families and jobs. There wasn't much left, a week or two with a couple hours of help two or three days would have gotten it caught up, but it didn't happen, the collective wanted me to move but didn't offer the how or where.
Twice in one week, fires came close enough that evacuation was pending. The smoke already filling my house, though still far enough away, I had no place to take the dogs and cats, and nothing big enough to take them all, even if they could be transported together in crates. The phone began to ring, people I had not heard from in years, "are you okay? do you need help?" they said. I answered "YES PLEASE!!! I have got to get the animals moved to safe locations! SEVERAL locations! " By the time we were in route, the interstate crossing into town was closed off, traffic was bumper to bumper, mostly with horse trailers. The detour was way out of the way, but we managed to cross at the next interstate taking the back roads, less traffic, before that exit was also closed to incoming. I had to be able to get back in because the second trip was to pick up Jenny, Mambo, Heather (the dogs), Izzzy and Dizzzy (the cats). Along with an overnight bag and other belongings that I would take to my friend Rosemary's place where she'd offered to let me wait for further notice. It was 2AM the next morning when I finally had everyone situated and was ready for a shower then bed.
My dad was panicking from the start, that I didn't just leave all the animals there, afraid of the fire that was still not near enough to see fire. My area was on standby. IF it had come that close, I would have just opened the gate and turned them all loose, to collect them as possible before driving away. I've had an escape plan in place ever since I moved in 5 years ago. Of course I only had Shasta and Heather then ... the rest came later. I'll post those stories in separate blogs.
Just a week or so before this, my Sis had told me about a Pit Bull rescue where I was already in touch with the people to see about adopting out three of my dogs. Some friends had already offered to foster Dizzzy and Izzzy (the cats), and two dogs were already on the online newsletter for foster/adoption possibilities. I'd been stalling hoping something would show up, an affordable place for all of us and the space for the art studio work area. My two oldest dogs Shasta and Heather were going to stay with me, no matter what and maybe Jenny if a perfect home was not found.
|Shasta and Heather resting near the front door.|
|Mambo, Merlin, Duke, and Faith playing in the yard.|
The evacuation went well, my only Niece had been one of the people that called offering help that had a large enough vehicle to transport "the kids". The kids and I were able to return the next morning as I didn't want to stay overnight at home with the risk of another evacuation.
Faith and :"the boys", Momma Pit Bull rescue and her two grown puppies, stayed at the Pit Bull Rescue, not far from where I lived. Their kennel wasn't ready yet, but taking them back and forth with the evacuation threats was just not practical. A temp kennel was used until the other was finished, while waiting adoption (still in progress). Thank you Amy and Gregg.
Dizzzy and Izzzy (the cats) stayed at Rosemary's in the utility room until the following day when Carol and Jim drove over from Odessa to pick them up and foster them until their adoption (still in progress). Thank you Carol and Jim Sims.
Down to only 3 dogs, the house was empty and quiet. I was still having to remind myself there were less food and water bowls to fill in the other section of the house. I still miss them terribly but grateful they all got placed in GOOD capable hands.
Lucy was picked up by her former owner, and my oldest dog Shasta was humanely euthanized a few days later in March after a recurring bacterial infection. The Vet believed the cause was cancer. Lucy and Jenny had come into my family about a year before. Shasta was 15 years old and had added her to my family when she was 4. Heather, her daughter, died peacefully in her sleep just a few months later at age 11 from renal failure.
Mambo was adopted by Alice, the Unity minister in Lubbock, shortly following the death of her dog that looked so much like him. They are all doing very well, though I miss him, I'm grateful this is a happy ending in progress. Thank You Alice.
This just leaves Jenny who is mellow and easy to tend. She gets along with Ed's dog Frodog that he and I had adopted after Casta's passing, in 2003.
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