Judith Tarr's Blog

May 5, 2015

The Equipment is gone. Nice Young Men came this morning and took it out. Then they missed with the breaker box and lo, there is power to the whole house again. And it is good.

Tomorrow Nice Young Men (having tracked down the adjuster in the wilds of New Mexico) will come and install a temporary floor, so that there will be a bottom to the southeast quadrant of the world, and cats will be less likely to fall through and escape.

The silence is wonderful. Beautiful. Restful. Five days of nonstop roaring has worn us all down.

This afternoon I spent some hours ascertaining that yes, the DSL router is properly dead, and being told by Tech Support to replace it, and researching potential replacements. Ebay supplied the latest model for a nice discount, with three-year warranty and expedited shipping. I have hopes that it will arrive this week. Please god. The hotspot works well, but this would be the week in which I'm receiving and sending multiple large book and image files, and will be receiving and sending yet more. I'll have to top up the hotspot tonight or tomorrow.

So that takes care of the question of whether to kill the landline. Uh, nope.

Planned errand run deferred another day. I am plotzed. I have to educate myself about flooring right good and quick, because I want to do something other than carpet in the renewed bathroom, and I need to know what I'm asking for, also prices relative to carpet, because that's what the insurance will cover. Home Depot will be part of the errand run. I want sturdy, attractive, and above all, easily cleanable in the presence of small domestic predators. The nice people in the orange logo will answer my questions, I'm sure.

And oh, god, I forgot upload my Rawnblog for tomorrow. EEEEEK!

Off I go.
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Published on May 05, 2015 15:13 • 26 views

May 3, 2015

(Thanks for that, Joss.)

Oh, we are having so much fun here. It kills us how much fun we are having.

So the bathroom floor went squoosh, and part of the bedroom floor. So I knew there was a water leak. Then the propane tank emptied untimely. As I discovered last Monday after the company offices had closed for the day.

Tuesday the propane man came, checked all attachments, and noted that it was all shipshape and Bristol-fashion.

Except the water heater. Which was leaking propane, and which was sitting on a rather heroically rotted floor.

Heater was red-tagged and disconnected. Goodbye, hot water.

The plumber came on Wednesday, and decreed that the faulty propane valve was not fixable and the heater was a goner. This triggered a call to the reclamation company, which came and looked and went OY! And that triggered a call to the homeowners' insurance. And lo, there were adjusters, and there were inspectors, and there were oys and good god!s and yowches. But! my great fear, that none of it was covered, appeared to be assuaged. They would/will rebuild the gutted quadrant, including closet for the heater.

So Thursday the brawny young men came and started ripping. And sawing. And tearing. Bathroom, half of bedroom, most of dining room. Down to the studs.

I moved into the other end of the house. Which was its own drama. Guest toilet had overflowed last yoga day, and I had shut it off. Plumber decreed it dead. But! he was able to take the much newer unit from the gutted master bath and pop it into the guest bath. And that gave me a functional facility.

Friday the new water heater arrived--approved by the appliance insurance. Much bigger and nicer than the old one. But in order to install it to code, I had to pay a hefty chunk of nonexistent cash, because codes are stricter than they were ca. 1980, or even ca. 2000. Much.

Having had his palm crossed with promises, the plumber rigged the heater outside with an adorable vent for a hat, where it blinks to itself and provides Water Hot Such A Noble Thing while the renovations go on. I resist the urge to paint it blue and silver and call it "R2."

And the brawny young men ascertained meanwhile that my other paralyzing fear, of mold and rot (not covered), was also Not A Problem. Once the pulped flooring and soaked insulation were out and the walls and fixtures dismembered and sent flying out the window, all was clean, and the only rot was in the heater closet, where we had all seen it. Yog Bless our desert climate.

They had installed dehumidifiers on Thursday. Friday and Saturday, fans went in. And it was all contained in plastic, which at night would...breathe. Much fun while watching "When Ghosts Attack" because seriously, braindead.

Yesterday being Saturday, the last of the debris was cleared and the fans continued. And I was slowly starting to find a rhythm in it all. Sort of.

And then when I went to turn the lights on at horse-feeding time, no lights. Also no lights in the guest room. No power to most of the north half of the house, except, weirdly, for the library, where Camp workshops happen.

The other half of the house--where the one working cooler (the lines are part of the heater closet, so plumber could only hook up one) and all the major appliances were, was still suitably electrified. I ran extension cords for the couple of small things I needed (lights, tv) and decided to crawl into bed and forget it till morning.

Especially the part where the DSL modem, despite being on a surge protector in the powered half of the house, managed to fry itself. It powers up, connects, shuts off. Lather, rinse, repeat. Nothing from the help pages applies to this situation, and support does not do weekends.

Lucky for me one of my must-haves when I upped the ante to a real smartphone last year was the ability to serve as a hotspot. This morning I paid my $5 and got my month of service. So I'm OK till we get the router sorted out. I dare to hope the insurance will replace it.

This morning the nice young man came back to check the equipment. Now we are waiting for his superior to talk to the adjuster to get an electrician out to figure out why part of the house has no power. NYM checked all he could check, and was baffled. Ancient wiring is ancient. And idiosyncratic.

Meanwhile he rigged a power box for all the fans and such, which is its own triple-warded spell of protection. And I am without a clothes dryer because that's the industrial-strength outlet, but it's temporary and I don't need it for a few days.

I have not mentioned, have I, that there's a smallish hole in the kitchen floor? Where one of the brawny young men put a foot through? And another, entirely separate water leak that must be dealt with? Leak fixage is covered. Damage is not. Since I am well past Stress Max and into What The Ever-Living HELL, I am la-la-la-ing that one for the time being.

The aminals are handling it much better than I am. Some confusion, but mostly keeping chill.

I am trying to focus on the bright side. Ancient, barely functional bathroom with broken faucets and hole where the toilet installation did not go well last time around is gone. I get a new bathroom, and part of a new bedroom, and part of a new dining room. Electrical wiring will get at least inspected, and one hopes fixed. Forced renovations: just lie back and think of walk-in showers.

But oh, I am tired. So very tired.

There are pictures here; scroll down a bit:


I've set them public so everyone can see them.
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Published on May 03, 2015 14:01 • 25 views

April 15, 2015

And so we have been to Dr. EyeVet once again. Eye looks good, she said. Inside is normal, no inflammation.

But, there is still some redness around the eye, so he'll continue on his meds twice a day for another six weeks, then recheck.

He won't mind. He has it down. 8 a.m., 8 p.m. Bound into kitchen! SIT! Get treats! Get eyedrop! Get more treats! Best Day Ever!

Here's the dog himself, as of this morning, after a bracing hour and a half of helping in the barn. Best Morning Ever! He posed for this; he's quite gracious about being Available for his public.

Most Interesting Dog in the World.

I've been in CFS crash since last week, on the "can do horses and dogs and cats because I have to, otherwise sitting up is a challenge" level, so putting in considerable amounts of horizontal time. But that's to be expected, after months of Stress Max. Functioning past twitter length is therefore not happening for the most part (and writing a paragraph at a time is kind of slow but also kind of interesting).

At any rate, dog is distinctly on the mend, so that's good. Everything else will sort out when it sorts out.
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Published on April 15, 2015 16:06 • 24 views

April 1, 2015

Today was Ro's followup with Dr. EyeVet. His cornea has cleared up considerably and his eye looks like an eye again, which indicates that the meds are working. Vet still saw some inflammation in the iris, so we're medicating for another two weeks on a slow taper-off from the original aggressive dose, then she'll see him again. He has a dilated pupil, which may be permanent, but vet said this isn't uncommon in dogs; with a blue eye, you can see it all the more easily. Though I don't think he had it before. I suspect it may resolve when the inflammation goes away.

Both she and the tech noted that his behavior was completely different: he had much more energy. He's learned to sit still for a treat, so that his eyedrops are now a happy occasion (which is a real boon when it's four times a day); the tech was having a great time trying out his roster of tricks. Then he tried to go out back where the vets live, though he was glad enough to come with me out the front and charm the socks off the people there.

The trip home was adventurous. He was Perfect in Petco, trotting nicely beside the cart, and patient at the feed store, where we waited for them to unload two semis full of hay, ten bales of which came home with us. Then he watched me unload it. Watching is important, you know. Shepherding and all that.

(Semis unload via forklift, 30 100lb bales at a time; takes five minutes to do a full load, so ten minutes all together.)

Now he's sound asleep. It was a long day for a Working Dog(tm).

At any rate it looks as if we won't need that indiegogo; he seems to have cleared up without surgery. The next two weeks should see him back to normal.

I'll fall over early tonight, I think. It has been A Week. Monday morning ushered itself in with Bread Knife 1, Judy's Hand 0.  Got it taped back together, but typing has been a challenge. Better now, still a bit interesting.

Then the cooler guy showed up with the wrong parts to fix the wrong system, despite my repeated instructions to the dispatcher. Ascertained that the blown-out cooler needed a new pump, and the one with the cracked line needed new bearings, but he couldn't switch out the pump because they're two different sizes. And he'd been told he was fixing an A/C that needed refrigerant. I have never had an A/C in this house. He had no cooler parts with him. So no cooling during record heat (mid-90sF). The next opening was during Ro's vet appointment, so no. Allegedly there will be fixed coolers tomorrow morning. We shall see, she said darkly.

There's been such a run on cooler parts this week that getting them is a significant challenge. I hope I have enough tubing; I couldn't get any. All gone. ($30 at the hardware store; $200 if they supply it, grr.)

At least Ephiny had a good lesson yesterday. She was a demo pony for a planned rebuttal to the FEI on the rules change: poll to be no longer the highest point (neep alert, and shame on you, Carl Hester). She literally cannot go forward if her poll drops. Since she's mostly built like a modern dressage horse, but has the Lipizzan mind and drive train, this makes her a useful example.

There's more, but my hand just said it's had enough. So there we are.
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Published on April 01, 2015 17:56 • 19 views

March 25, 2015

We are back from the eye vet. Diagnosis: Not totally certain, but since all symptoms point to uveitis, that's what we're treating for. He has eyedrops (neosomethingdex) and will be getting aggressive treatment for a week. Then back to eye vet, whose secondary office is much closer than the one we went to today, and that will be a relief. Next Wednesday afternoon, different time, closer station.

So currently, no mention of surgery. Qualified yay.

Also yay: No sign of glaucoma. Pressure is normal. And probably not valley fever, with the sudden onset of symptoms.

Weight: 42.8lbs at the regular vet, 44lbs at the eye vet. Right after breakfast and all. Scale mildly concerns him, but the sit-and-treat trick works, well, a treat.

He was very well behaved, though the eye is extremely light-sensitive and the tests were hard for him. The worst he does when tackled and immobilized is lick the tech's brawny arm and make little growlywhimpery noises while wagging his tail in circles (it's like being whapped with a feather boa). "Is he always this happy?" several people asked me, several times.

At the end, a lady came in with a very fluffy chow mix. He barked a tiny bit, but sat when asked and calmed down. Yay! Dog aggression significantly reduced!

The teeny shih tzu at intake just make him want to say hi. So it's size- and body-language-related.

He is a people magnet. Everybody wants to get down on the floor and love on him. At open vein and pour out blood, er, money time, he put his paws on the reception desk and politely asked for a treat from the jar. Receptionist, enchanted, gave him two.

And now we are both home and horizontal. He's out cold. I'm about to be. Ex. Haus. Ted. I think the rest of today will be a wash.
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Published on March 25, 2015 12:52 • 52 views

March 24, 2015

And now we are back from the vet, and hay is unloaded and horses are fed, and so are we. And tomorrow morning we do it all over again (minus the hay-hauling).

Ro saw his regular vet today. She couldn't find a scratch, but the whole cornea is inflamed. Could be valley fever in the eye, for which she did the test. I don't think so; it's clearly trauma. But it is a possibility. May also be a tiny cactus spine that needs more advanced equipment than she has. She could not find a corneal ulcer. The whole cornea has turned blue. The eye is light-sensitive so there's still sight in it.

The eye specialist down in Tucson can see him tomorrow morning. I'll have time to get the horses fed, then off we go. Turn and burn, as the truckers say.

As I said before, the ability to just calmly hand over the check card for whatever he needs is beyond price. If he needs surgery I will have to put up an indiegogo, but we'll bridge that troll when we get to it. For now, we're hoping it's something that can be treated with meds.

Ro and I are both pooped tonight. He's a wet noodle on his couch. I'm close to it, though there are still house things and dog and cat things and animal things left to do.

In other news, I believe I have found a farmsitter. She is not cheap, but she's barely half the price of Overpriced Only Other Option, and is extremely professional and has a horse-crazy teenaged daughter. Good things may come of this.

But first, we take care of the Ro-Pup. Who was a Star everywhere he went today. Vet and techs both praised his behavior highly, and kept saying how good he was. "And he's so pretty!" Only problem we had was his desire to curl up in Auntie Vet's lap when she was trying to get a look at his eye.

Now go thud. Tomorrow will be a long day.
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Published on March 24, 2015 19:47 • 30 views

March 23, 2015

The response to my Save the Pup's Eye Sale has been tremendous. I'm so grateful to everyone who has bought books, signed up for editing or mentoring, or just tossed some cash in the vet fund. Thanks to you all, I'll be able to take him to the vet and do whatever needs to be done. If it turns out he needs surgery and that runs up additional expenses, I'll set up an indiegogo, but for now, the sale (which will continue until the 1st, at least) is doing well enough to cover vet and, hopefully, meds and treatment.

He'll see the vet for an evaluation tomorrow afternoon. Then we'll go from there. He's in pretty good shape today, has more energy though still flops faster than usual, and his eye is not noticeably worse.

It has been years since I've been able to contemplate a vet appointment without having to shut off any options but basic exam and the least expensive meds. To be able to give my Heart Dog whatever he needs means more to me than I can say.

For those who have bought books: Enjoy. For those who have signed up for editing or mentoring: Happy writing! And many thanks, again, to all.

I'll keep you updated; should have something to add tomorrow night.
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Published on March 23, 2015 10:47 • 35 views

March 21, 2015

We are having a...difficult year here. And now there will be Vet Bills, because Ro-Pup appears to have destroyed his right eye.

Happened Monday when he took off (in friendly but headstrong fashion) after passing dog-walker. He came back with one eye pinched shut. I applied eyedrops, eye seemed to be improving, but when I was able to get a good look, it was not good. Pupil dilated. Cornea cloudy. There may be more going on: he's been low, and today he's acting lethargic and floppy. That may be his usual warm-afternoon sleepiness, but I don't like the subdued way he's been acting.

There are no funds for vet. At all. I just cleaned out the piggy bank to feed the horses for another four days.

So! It's virtual yard-sale time! Let's spread the tables out under the Party Tree, slap the price tags on, and open for business.

Ebooks: 1 for $5, 2 for $9, 3 for $12.50

Any ebooks sold on major sites this month will not pay out until the end of May, which is way too long for Ro to wait; it's not just the eye that worries me by this point, it's his whole demeanor.

But! I have Paypal, at capriole at that gmail thing, and I have ebooks, and they are DRM-free, which means you can load them on any device, and give them as gifts. If you buy multiple copies of one book, let me know in the notes on your Paypal payment; also let me know the email address to which I should send them, and the format desired (Kindle takes mobi; everything else will take epub).

Here's the list. Detailed blurbs and samples can be found on my Author Page at Book View Cafe. Books within series are in order of internal chronology.
The Hound and the Falcon (medieval historical fantasy):
The Dagger and the Cross
The Isle of Glass
The Golden Horn
The Hounds of God
Death and the Lady--novella/short work, price $3

The Avaryan Series (epic fantasy):
The Hall of the Mountain King
The Lady of Han-Gilen
A Fall of Princes
Arrows of the Sun
Spear of Heaven

The Epona Sequence (prehistoricals! with horses!)
Lady of Horses
White Mare's Daughter
Daughter of Lir

Various Single Titles and Odd Prices
Lord of the Two Lands (Alexander the Great in Egypt)
A Wind in Cairo (medieval historical fantasy with horses)
Nine White Horses: Nine Tales of Horses and Magic (short story collection, title story new/not published previously)
Writing Horses: The Fine Art of Getting It Right (nonfiction; horse basics for the writer)
Living in Threes (YA science fiction/fantasy)
His Majesty's Elephant (YA/middle grade medieval historical fantasy with Charlemagne)
Ars Magica (medieval historical fantasy): price $4

Mentoring and Editing Services

There's a summary of what I do here, along with the regular rate. Paypal as above, capriole at the gmail. For this sale, I'm offering two options:

1. The Quick Crit: $75

I will review 5-10 pages of your work. Can be anything--synopsis, plot musings, opening pages, query letter and pages, short section on which you're stuck. I can also answer your questions about how to write horses, up to 90 minutes (may add on to this as needed, at regular rate).

2. The Writing Mentor Is In: $250 (a $300 value)

Five hours of online teaching and mentoring, editing, copyediting, proofreading, plot R&D, even a very short class if so desired. Open to previous as well as new clients; for larger projects, the first five hours will be billed at the sale rate. I've had this shingle out since 2006; lots of repeat clients, and even a Nebula nominee.

Camp Lipizzan

A longtime favorite--Horse Camp for Writers. Now booking from October through March. May consider April through August (September is booked), but be prepared for Southern Arizona heat and, in July and August, monsoon. We're game if you are; just want to be sure you know what you're in for. The most popular option is four nights/five days, $500 includes room, board, and Lipizzans; riding or groundwork lessons additional.

So that's what's on the table. Anything else you think you'd like to see, just let me know. Ro-Pup and I both say Thankyouverymuch.
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Published on March 21, 2015 14:47 • 50 views

March 7, 2015

This would be a great time to sign up for editing, writing mentoring, or Horse Camp for Writers (aka Camp Lipizzan). We've been busybusybusy, and now (For A Limited Time Only(tm)), there are some openings. And yes, we bank hours and book Camps for later in the year.

Also on the radar: my new! book! has a preorder button for the ebook form. It's space opera and it's intergenre and there's even a familiar face if you know some of my backlist (you will probably howl; you are meant to howl; and then I hope you will have a grand roaring time with it). It's called Forgotten Suns. Preorder goes live on May 5th. Here's the button at Amazon, and here (for the epub crowd) is the one at Kobo. There will be a trade paperback as well, if hardcopy is more your style. That comes out in late April.

I've been working on various projects. My novella for the December Kickstarter has hit the midpoint, and I am having So. Much. Fun. with it. It's contemporary and set in Tucson and has magical horses. I mean, it's autobiographical, right?

Also working on taking a few minutes each day to just be with the horses. Even if I lack the brain or body fu to do actual work with them, I aim for taking time, slowing down, breathing as much as I can. It being shedding season means a great excuse: they're massively itchy and demand that I groom them. There's a kind of peace in the process, and satisfaction as they present the itchiest portion and then sigh as it gets curried or bladed or Furminated. Then with some there's a moment to do some small bodywork or a step or two of groundwork. Keeping my hand in. Even if riding isn't happening.

Ro-Pup continues to enjoy his freedom. He has to be leashed on occasion, if there's a dog going by (no longer with the aggression, but he does want to go and say hi, which is not always welcome) or if the horses are getting excited, but mostly he's quick to come when called, and he's getting pretty clear on the rules. It's nice to have a real Farm Dog, and since he's a Shepherd by genetics and inclination, he's loving the sense of having a job.

Here's his current inclination:


Poor thing. We've been working him to death.
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Published on March 07, 2015 12:18 • 31 views

February 21, 2015

2014 was a crap year in a whole lot of ways. The last couple of months were especially difficult. Everything was a struggle.

2015 seems to be setting off in a different direction. Very very busy. A lot of freelancing work--so that I'm gradually getting caught up on the bills from the end of last year. The fiction Muse is back, though she's been lolllygagging around that beach in Aruba the past couple of weeks while I've worked on some editing projects and a big nonfiction writing project. She'll get back to work this week Or Else.

So that's been good. I have myself back as a writer and a reader. But in the process of doing it, I lost the other side: the horses.

We had our bit of winter around the holidays, complete with snow and record cold on New Year's Day. We had lots and lots (and lots) of rain, which in the desert is a very good thing, but it turned the footing to mush and made the horses footsore. So no riding and very little groundwork happened after my last lesson, right before Solstice.

Once the weather improved and the footing likewise (it's still deep in places; we had that much rain), when I could have been riding, I was working instead. No energy left after caring for the horses to, you know, enjoy them. Lessons could have jump-started me but kept getting rained out or scheduled out.

Finally yesterday we were able to make a lesson happen. I had to remember where I'd put the riding gear, it had been so long. Longest I've gone without riding since grad school.

Ephiny was not on board. Capria actually volunteered, bless her heart, till I reminded her that she's retired and she's not carrying weight any more. She was a bit bummed. I think we may be doing groundwork or long-lining, if she feels she wants to get back in the game.

But not right then. I eyed Pooka, but with all the mares in heat, including Miss E, and not even a longe since last week, that was asking for trouble. When he's in that kind of mood, he can go rodeo. And I was not in shape to ride the rocket.

Anyway, Ephiny's the one who needs the work most, and between Ro deciding to get in touch with his inner border collie and Miss E being in standing heat, it took a while to catch her. Which is pretty much unheard of; she's usually in my face. Finally I said, "Hey. Do you want me to ride the hormones over there or can we have a lesson?" and she allowed as how she might consider the option.

That's Ephiny. She thinks things through.

By the time we got to the grooming part of the exercise, she was settled in to the concept. She was sore from her heat cycle, which explained some of the Airs and the flight takeoffs, but she was OK with the tack, and we took it slow. Groundwork and balance work for me, because I was like a block of concrete from the shoulders to the knees. Too much stress, too much computer time. Not enough chill time.

Getting my center of balance down from my shoulders to my pelvis took a while. Ephiny dozed through it. Then she found out she had to do some work, too, working through her soreness and balancing her body. She was a bit put out. Wasn't the human supposed to be doing the work?

We did finally get connected, and I (sort of) got de-concrete-fied. Ephiny hooks in so well; it's like an extension of me, as long as I'm not getting all nutty up in my head.

So then S said, get on. Don't worry about perfection. Don't get all angsty about the rider you wanted to be, and all the crap that's been circling around (broken dreams in the tiny violin, weeeoooo). Just get on. Sit there. Get the balance going. She likes to lock hard in the base of the neck, and then she can't move. Poll up (heavens, Baucher had a point), back up, go.

And we did. And S left us to it, with instructions to stay on for a while. Notable: she got extremely looky as S was leaving, seeing some kids walking up on the road. When they came down the side street, she chilled completely. She could see them, no dogs with them, no problem. Big sigh. Back to work.

In standing heat, after two months, that's a nice outcome for any horse. She always amazes me with her calm as a riding horse; she's so much horse otherwise. She was doing formal capriole setups the other day, the midair rocking back and forth, though she didn't do the full up and kick. Just because.

So we have homework. Five minutes a day. Do groundwork. Do something with a horse. And get back to riding. Not just because it's a job, but because I'm the most in my body when I'm on a horse. I need that balance to make the rest work. Letting it go was not good.
So, back to it. Back to getting everything else lined up and working. On all sides of the personal balance sheet.
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Published on February 21, 2015 12:57 • 46 views