Friday, September 25, 2015

Plugging Along

I start this on Monday, September 21.

Last night I had the closest thing to a good night's sleep than I have had since surgery, and I feel more human today than I have felt since then, too.  I had fallen asleep in the bed in the office while the TV was still on.  It was boring anyway, it was Big Brother, and they are down to the last three and they spent the whole time just reviewing stuff and making us listen to those last three suck up to each other.  They didn't start doing anything new until the competition which will eliminate the loser, and Hubs reported to me that they ended the show before the competition was over.  After a couple of hours, I woke up to find that Hubs had turned off the TV and he was snoring loudly beside me.  ENOUGH.  I went upstairs and went to bed in our "old" bed in the master bedroom.  There, I was actually able to maneuver myself onto my stomach, which is something that's just impossible to do on the new bed unless you're laying crosswise, another impossibility if someone else is in the bed with you.  These new beds seem to be engineered with the assumption that everyone is a back-sleeper, and they make the part of the mattress where your butt is going to be less firm, so that you will sink in there and that will support your back.  But if you try to lay on your stomach, your hips seem to sink down into "the pit" which is bad for the back and you feel like your heels and head are sticking up in the air.  Add that to a knee that still doesn't quite flex all the way backwards like a natural knee will do, and comfort is just about as far off the scale as it can go and not be pain.  The lesson to be learned here is, don't get a new bed and a new knee at the same time.

Upstairs, I still had to get up a couple times, and Sam, discovering I was alone in the bed, could not allow that to go unremedied, so she had her tail draped over my leg just about all night, but OMG, I slept till 6am, I actually dreamed but don't remember what it was about.  Usually I'm in the living room and have drunk half the contents of the coffee pot by 6am.   A few days ago I mentioned to Hubs that I might try sleeping upstairs.  I didn't want him to be concerned if he woke up and couldn't find me.  When he found out how much better my night was, he said, "Maybe we ought to move back upstairs for the night."  *Sigh*.  So I had to tell him that, well, he was also snoring pretty loud and I'd rather just let this ride for awhile and see how it goes.  Maybe that bought a little time, I don't know.  He's a back-sleeper and he seems to sleep pretty well in the new bed.  With me not in it, he can crank the head up a little and will sleep more comfortably.

All this idle time has made me pick up my unfinished quilting projects during a time when normally I wouldn't do much quilting at all.  I've finally finished this one, I don't even remember how long I've had it "in the works".  It's a wall hanging, measuring about four feet in both directions.  I call it "Sneak Cat On The Road To Oklahoma".  The cat was taken from a pillow case I bought at a garage sale, and I chose the black, red and white pieces to compliment the colors of Sneak Cat and his sneakers.   Of course, the four blocks that make up the center are from a pattern named "Road To Oklahoma". 
I just love those Kliban Cats.

This poor little quilt had so much dust in it, when I put it in a bucket with some Oxy-Clean in the water, the water turned dark.  Hubs was just appalled.

I saw on the news this morning a piece about this woman who, after having had three boys, FINALLY had a girl.  The baby's been born and they showed the three boys, each, in turn, holding her and they've all had something to say about it.  The oldest kinda summed it up, I thought, when he said, "I'm scared, .........'cause....'s a girl....."  LOL!

It's been interesting watching the candidates, what they say and do right now.  They walk a fine line, they should not be too inflammatory to their competition because who knows what's going to happen.  They may not make the final cut and then they might be in competition for the running mate position.  Memories are not very long in politics unless it can be used politically (and then every little squeak is remembered and recounted FOREVER), but even so, I don't think any of the people Donald Trump has ridiculed would put things aside and choose him as their running mate.  Mr. Trump is popular because we are all so pissed off now.  We are sick and tired of not being listened to.  We are sick of brutality from people who are supposed to be protecting and mentoring us.  We are sick of the IRS.  We are sick of the middle class having to carry everyone at tax time.  We are sick of American jobs going to other countries.  We are sick of powerful lobbyists carrying our country's leaders in their pockets.  We are sick of high energy costs.  We are sick of politicians who lie.  We are sick of people in Washington going on vacation without having completed their tasks.  So here's a guy that says what he thinks and lets the chips fall where they may.  Here's a guy who's funding his own campaign and so he's not going to "owe" anyone anything if he gets elected.  Plus it's all kind of entertaining sometimes.  If only he wasn't so fond of verbally attacking people in inappropriate ways.  I mean, I have some experience with people like this, and when they start attacking you for how you look, where you came from, or making guesses about your "real" reasons for something you said or did, that usually means that they don't know how to attack you in any way that might have more facts behind it.  If he happened to get elected, it would be pandemonium.  His Republican peers would bog everything down and not let him do anything, and who would suffer?  US, as usual.  It seems a shame to have to think along these lines, how politics can be so devoid of concern for our country, how politicians will act out of their own egotistical wants and needs and cause all the people who depend on them to run the country to suffer, but to my mind, we haven't seen decent leadership of our country for a long, long time.

Well, that turned into a rant.  End of rant.

Yesterday the first batch of pears that I wrapped in newspaper and tucked away into the pantry were ready.

I had enough for a canner load of seven quarts, with enough for five more left, but since that was not a full canner load, I cooked them and packed three quarts in the freezer.   The other two quarts went into the refrigerator and we'll eat some of them instead of buying fresh fruit at the grocery store.  We are getting volunteer watermelon out of the garden and that is so good for me right now as watermelon is a natural diuretic.  It's low calorie and is a good source of potassium, vitamin A and C.

This is now Wednesday.  Hubs worked on the last gates that he needed to rebuild to be as tall as the new fence.  There is too big a space between them now and we had a rabbit on the patio last night.  Hubs chased it and where did it go?  Right out into the garden.  Oh, well, there's not much left out there that it can eat, so maybe it'll eat some of the weeds.  I'll have all winter to get it out of there.  They usually scramble out when Hubs uses the weed wacker out there.

Last spring, I decided that I would allocate one compost bin to just weeds.  When I pulled weeds, no matter how noxious, I just loaded the pile in my little push wagon and dumped it into the bin.  Then before I was to have surgery in August, I went out there with the pitchfork, moved the top layer into the bottom of one of the other bins and then shoveled the composted material under it into big plastic totes, and, after running out of those, old chicken feed bags.  Those have been setting in the driveway since then.  Yesterday I began the task of screening it.  I could have just shoveled it into the raised beds as it is, but I'm pretty sure the composting action did not kill all the seeds.  My goal, anyway, was to have some freshly-made compost with which to make my seed-starting mix with.  Not much danger of weed seeds germinating in it because I always bake the compost in the oven before I mix it in equal parts with peat and vermiculite.

Hubs made me this screen and it's very useful.  I just scoop a bunch of compost into it and then smoosh it around with a wood block, which is actually just an end-piece of 2x4 that I can pick up out of Hubs' wood-scrap pile.

That's some really pretty stuff, eh?  I guess you could call this "Growing Your Own Soil".  Heh.

At any rate, I'll have an ample supply of seed-starting mix for use between December and March, and it'll get incorporated into the garden whenever the seedlings are planted there.  All I will have had to buy is the peat and the Vermiculite, and I'm thinking about leaving out the peat, or at least cutting the amount down by half, since my mixture's going to be fairly loose, anyway.  I don't like how it takes so long for peat to absorb liquid because it will float, and I don't like how, after it's on the surface, it dries out and turns into this impenetrable paper-mache-like skin.  I see where some people are using coir, which is a by-product of coconuts and is more eco-friendly than robbing from the peat bog.  But I haven't been able to find a reasonably-priced source for it yet.

Today I'm making some Refrigerator Biscuit Dough.  I saw a recipe on Pinterest where you mix little balls of biscuit dough from those tubes with a can of pie filling, pour it into a greased casserole and bake it and you've got a sort of a cobbler.  Plus we haven't had "Pigs In Blankets" in awhile.  We all know what that is, right?  Put a 3" piece of frankfurter, or smoked sausage, with a slice of cheese wrapped around it, inside a wad of biscuit dough.  We made these when I was a kid, and then again when I was raising my own kids, regularly, and we always used those tubes of canned biscuit dough that were actually pretty cheap to buy.  It was a quick meal and also was pretty popular as party food, too.

Here's the recipe that I use for the biscuit dough:

Refrigerator Biscuits
Tastes better than the biscuits you buy in a tube, costs very little made from scratch.  Be sure to use real buttermilk and not make your own by putting vinegar in milk, as it will be thinner and cause you to have to use more flour, so the biscuits will not be as tender. 

5 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. solid vegetable shortening
1/4 c. warm water
2 and 1/2 tsp. Salt
7 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
2 c. buttermilk
1 pkg. dry yeast

Dissolve yeast in water and set aside. Mix dry ingredients and cut the shortening into dry ingredients until the size of small peas. Add milk and yeast mixture and mix well. Knead on a floured board until smooth.

Store in a large plastic bag in the refrigerator. No rising is required before baking, they will rise some in the bag and double in size while baking. Bake as many as you want when you want them. Dough stores up to two weeks, biscuits taste better as the dough ages. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 400ยบ until done.

We found a lot of uses for these little cans of biscuit dough, from topping casseroles to rolling in melted butter, then cinnamon and sugar and making "Monkey Bread", and if you did, too, you can use these in just the same way.

This is now Thursday.

Kylie came yesterday and dumped off a load of wood chips.  This time we both saw him from where we were and went out to visit with him a bit.  He said his garden hadn't done well at all this summer, and he talked about his family and the chickens and so on.  He had never grown Cucuzzi so we gave him some to take home.  A particularly big one that I told him to hold up and say to his wife, "Happy Wife" <chuckle>.  By his reaction, I felt like he was pretty likely to do just that.  

Hubs and I watched the Big Brother finale last night.  I watched up to when I saw Steve, the only one of the three that I was interested in seeing win, to lose the contest he was competing in and after that I just went upstairs and crawled into bed.  Hubs told me this morning that there were two more contests and Steve won both the other two.  So he got the big money, and Vanessa, the one I definitely did NOT want to win, was the one of the three who was eliminated.  The second-place winner was the girlfriend of the wrestler and then they had a prize for the l'il guy from Texas that I liked, because so many people voted for him on Facebook or something.  That was good news.  He seems to be a nice guy and he did try hard to play a good game.  He was just outnumbered by all those people in the house that got turned into Vanessa's mindless drones.  Apparently they all saw where they went wrong, too late for it to do them any good in the competition, but maybe they'll take away something from this that they can use as a "life lesson".  

This morning after Hubs and I had our walk, he said he needed to mow, and I decided to go out to the garden with my cane to see if I could do any weeding.  I weeded all the way down two bean rows and found a few beans to pick and a little watermelon that was hiding in the tall grass.  I pulled the wagon along behind me in the walkway that had a big plastic tote in it, and that's where I threw the weeds I pulled.  I filled that tote brimming over twice before I got tired enough to quit.  Those weeds will be the start of my seed-starting compost for spring of 2017.  My glutes will probably be sore tomorrow after all that bending from the waist.  I'm not even tempted to go out again this afternoon to do some more.  It's going to heat up by then and we'll be inside with the A/C running.  I'll probably sit in front of the TV with Hubs, but I'll be quilting.  With the little red and black quilt done, I've picked up another unfinished quilt, one I've had "in the works" for at least twenty years.  Time flies, you get side-tracked.  It takes such a long time to hand-quilt and if you find yourself raising grandkids, going back to work, and then, after retiring, moving to a "blank slate" country home, things just get away from you.   I have had to make myself quit piecing quilt tops.  They won't be meaningful to anyone unquilted and I might've accumulated more unquilted pieces than I'll live long enough to be able to finish. 

According to Mesonet, we have a full week of days coming that will be just like today.  That means a week of cool mornings in which it will be pleasant to be in the garden.  After a month-plus of laying around in the house, I don't think I have enough stamina to work in the garden longer than a couple of hours during the cool of the morning.

This is now Friday and I will try to get this published today.  Not much new to report, Hubs is gone to town for his workout, we had a walk before he left.  I spent about an hour in the garden pulling weeds and now I'm inside cooling off.  It seems to have heated up quickly this morning, the difference between today and yesterday being that it was cloudy most of the day yesterday.  There was rain to our west, but we didn't get any.  We're ok without it, no probs.

This afternoon or weekend, we plan a run to Lowe's, as they have a good price on electric garage-door openers, and we have needed to replace the one in the south bay of our attached garage for at least a couple of years.  I want to go with him, mostly just to get out, but also because I want to see what plants they have on sale and see whether they've clearanced their canning supplies.  One year, I got a lot of canning flats at half price that way.  I've also been building a grocery store list.  When you have a well-stocked pantry, your grocery store list is never very long, but what you buy, you buy several of.  I wouldn't know how to cook if I had to buy things one can, bag or box at a time.  I know people who don't have storage space and seems like they're "stopping at the store" alllllll the time.

I'd love to go garagin' on Saturday but it's still too difficult getting in and out of the Silverado.  We have running boards and they help, but not enough.  I keep saying I want to get a little car that I can just back up to and sit down in.  I think I'd like to have a Nissan Altima but who knows what we'll end up with, or when.  The Silverado is about ten years old now.  We don't accumulate a lot of mileage and Hubs does upkeep and repair timely so it isn't uncommon for our vehicles to keep on hummin' along 'way beyond their tenth birthday.   I'm kind of afraid to buy anything right now because of all those faulty airbags, seems like they're in nearly everything.

JR's Better Half e-mailed me a sonogram of the twins, she had a doctor's appointment yesterday and all's still well.  Of course, I don't know what I'm seeing on that sonogram.  She told me the second baby is difficult to see because it was busy "twirling".  As long as she and her doctor saw it, that's good enough for me.  It'll be interesting after they're born, to see if one of them shows any propensity for "twirling".  Heh.  (That kinda reminds me of JR as a kid.  JR might be in for a little "pay-back".  He was a hot mess.)  Too early to tell whether they're boys or girls, it looks like they're in the same sac and so that means they're identical, like Hubs' mother and her sister were, rather than fraternal.

Well, that's about all I have so I'll get this posted.  Till next time, Rock on.  Hugs xoxoxo

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Second Week Of September, 2015

I start this on Sunday, 9/13.  Not much to talk about, but I'll give it a shot.

We are enjoying some cool weather right now.  We get these little "previews" of cooler weather to come, about this time of year.  Mother Nature is such a tease.  Our too-warm weather is not done with yet, but we are half a month away from October and October is just about my favorite month in Oklahoma.  And who doesn't love April and May? 

Today I was up in the living room while Hubs was watching "Recipe Rehab".  HERE's their website.  Chef Richard was being questioned about what sweet treats he normally brings home in his grocery basket and he was setting out fruit and so on.  I was thinking at the time that this wouldn't mean a thing to someone who was having a serious chocolate craving, and then he started talking about how he makes healthy peanut butter cups.  He buys the dark chocolate baking chips, some peanut butter, and coconut oil.  Melts the chocolate in a double boiler with some coconut oil.  Then he stirs more coconut oil into some peanut butter and spoons the melted chips in a small form (or could just spread it in a small baking pan), then a spoon of peanut butter and then tops it with more melted chips.  Of course the coconut oil will solidify quickly in the cool of the refrigerator and might do so even better in the freezer, then you can have your chocolate, some protein from the peanut butter, and the benefits of coconut oil and pretend you're being naughty.  No, he doesn't add any sugar, there's already a little dextrose in the peanut butter to make it spreadable and I think there's some kind of  -ose ingredient in the chocolate chips.  This sounds like a keeper recipe to me but I'll try it one of these days and see what I think.  I keep coconut oil around all the time, it has so many uses and is so much healthier than a lot of the oils.  Plus there's that low melting point with coconut oil.  I've seen people melt chocolate chips in coconut oil before to make that "Magic Shell", or, if you're a fan of Dairy Queen's dipped cones, that's pretty much the same thing.  I think I taste paraffin in the dipped cones that Braum's makes and in those that are made at the little hamburger stand where all the teenagers go in Caney, KS.  We don't have a nearby Dairy Queen.  If they used coconut oil, they wouldn't have to have their dipping vat so hot and the ice cream underneath the chocolate shell wouldn't melt so darned fast.  Some of those folks at Braum's can't keep the ice cream in a dipped cone long enough to hand it to you, but they hadn't had them on the menu that long when that problem became apparent, and maybe by now they've learned how to manage it, or taken it off the menu, I don't know.  I'm trying to stay away from Braum's. 

Hubs and I went out to the garden yesterday to pick some things.  Found some more Cucuzzi, and a few green beans.  I cut some of the prettiest zinnias because I wanted to take them to Claire, one of our neighbors.  She was so kind to bring us a big container of chicken and noodles and two pint containers of mixed berries, when she found out I'd had surgery.  People used to do this sort of thing all the time and now, not so much.  So I wanted to show her I appreciated her kindness and thoughtfulness.  Plus I wanted to return her containers.  We took her a container of sand plum jam and some Cucuzzi.  Of course, their rat terrier announced our presence in the driveway but that was OK, we weren't afraid of him and that way Claire heard the racket and came out to us.  I didn't know what his name was, apparently it's Rat.  I wonder if that gives him a complex, since their other dogs have more civilized names:  Frank, Carl, and Rosie.  At least he is not named Doo-Doo as is the dog that belongs to their neighbors, Dane and Debbie.  But anyway, we enjoyed a little visit with Claire, Hubs went a few steps more to the mailbox, and then we walked home.  That constituted my walking exercise for the day.

We found three little Butternut Squash and I went ahead and picked them.  Two of them might be a little under-ripe but the third had a little hole drilled in the bottom and when I opened it I found that some of the pulp had started to spoil.  I went ahead and worked them up today, and saved some of the seed for next year.

My order from Amazon finally came.  It was new shoes for Hubs and a book for me.  I guess the mailman doesn't ring the doorbell or anything, but at least he brought the package to the door this time and didn't try to cram it into our mailbox.  The last time that happened, one of the bolts that attached to mailbox to the wooden frame busted.  See, although there's always something to gripe about, there's always something to be grateful for, too.

Hubs really likes his new shoes.  They are New Balance 709's.  They remind me of Tony The Tiger.  Heh.  We like New Balance, but they run narrow.  He has to order EE width, and the first two styles he found that he liked were not available in his size and width.  But he's happy with these, says they feel good on, and they look good on, too.

This is the book I ordered:

It is very well organized, has a big section of remedies sorted by condition or malady with a couple of simple "recipes" for their treatment and then another big section of all the essential oils and what they are best used for, including who shouldn't use them and any side-effects they may have.  Of course this prompted an order to Rose Mountain Herbs, but I've been needing to do that, anyway.  Essential oils can be pretty expensive, so I tend to buy only a few at a time.  Don't let anyone tell you that they only last a year.  They will last much longer than that as long as you keep them tightly sealed so they don't evaporate, and keep them in a cool, dark place.  Some things, I did buy in small sizes, but several that I think I'll use often, I bought in the 4 oz. bottle.

My earliest purchases, maybe a year or two ago, were Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, and Cedarwood, and I bought the 8 oz. bottles.  The only bottle that I haven't used a lot of is the Cedarwood.  Then later I bought 4 oz bottles of Tea Tree and Eucalyptus.

Rose Mountain sells packaged herb seeds, some of which you can't find just anywhere, and I found a few of those I needed.  I finally got St. John's Wort to grow this year.  Herbs are pretty tough once they get established but sometimes they can be difficult to get to that point.  At least for me.  I have grown Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemon Balm, Horehound, Oregano and Parsley for years and I harvest and dry them several times during the summer.  Other things, sometimes I can get them started but they die out before the summer is over.  So it's a lesson in persistence if I continue to want to have them.

I don't know how many of you will remember my potato experiment.  I picked out some of the potatoes that I harvested last spring and kept them in paper bags in the crisper of my refrigerator, thinking that would signal to them the passing of more time than there had been and therefore result in sprouts.  After a couple of months I prepared a couple of plastic totes with compost and buried ten potatoes in each tote.  Well, I have dug those potatoes up three times to see why they have not sent up a plant, and this last time I could only find 7 potatoes in one tote and 9 in the other.  A few of the ones I found are half rotted.  And a few, a very few, have begun to sprout.  I took the survivors out of the soil and set them out where the air could hit them, thinking maybe they would sprout better and I could then plant them back into the totes.  But frankly, as I go into the pantry and survey the potatoes from the spring harvest that I left unwashed and just arranged in one layer in flats, it looks like the chilling process in the refrigerator made absolutely NO difference in whether the potatoes would sprout by fall, because some of the pantry potatoes have more promising-looking sprouts on them than the ones that I buried in the totes do.  Plus, I've only lost two of those potatoes to rot, and that's out of all four flats, combined. 

This is now Tuesday.

Yesterday Hubs and I went to The Health Department and got shingles shots.  When Hubs went for his checkup, the doctor told us she had heard that they got a grant, which allowed them to give shingles shots to people aged 60 and older, at no cost.  I called to see if that was true and they said it was, so I went ahead and made the appointment.  My dad had shingles for what seemed like forever, and he was miserable.  It changed his whole attitude and altered what little he had left of his life.  I've read where some people say having the shot won't keep you from getting shingles, but my friend June had one and though she got shingles later on, she said she thought the shot made it less potent, and it did seem like she was all better in no time at all.

Being on a "roll" for getting good news by asking questions on the phone, I also called the guy who installed our wood-burning fireplace insert.  We used it quite a bit last winter because our HVAC went out and we had to wait for the part to come in.  We were a little cold, but not nearly as bad as things would've been without the fireplace, and the fire in the insert kept the house warm enough that we didn't have any trouble with water pipes freezing.  But anyway, that being the second winter of use, and some of the wood not being what one would consider "prime firewood", I decided to get an appointment for a chimney cleaning.  Our chimney is so tall, this is not something we can attempt ourselves.  The cost is $100, and he will come out sometime today.

The only thing left to do by phone now is to get an appointment for a flu shot.  Hubs got his during his VA check-up, a month ago, and I'll have to wait a month to get mine, being as you are not supposed to get a flu shot within a month of having the shingles shot.

I still need to hold a garage sale, there'll be sweet potatoes to dig the first week of October, and I've got the rest of these pears to put up.  Beyond that, I think my dance card is empty for awhile.  

I just heard on the news today that kids are drinking hand sanitizer to get a buzz and winding up in emergency rooms across the country with alcohol poisoning.  Dang it, WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH THESE KIDS????????  I just want to grab them and turn them over my knee.  I looked up some recipes for home-made hand sanitizers and there are a lot of them on the internet.  Under the circumstances, we wouldn't want to use the ones that call for Vodka as the carrier, but I saw in one where the recipe said, "OR Witch Hazel".  I looked up Witch Hazel on WebMD and looks like if taken internally the worst you can get is a belly ache and possible constipation.  Well, in large amounts, possible liver damage, and possible cancer if consumed in large amounts on a regular basis.  But no buzz, and without that, would there be any reason to drink it?  Oh, with kids, who knows?  I use cider vinegar as the carrier in some of my herbal infusions.  A buzz of another kind, plus the vinegar itself has germ-killing properties.  Prevention Magazine offers a recipe HERE that just calls for filtered water as the carrier.   I don't think kids think it's very cool to have diarrhea, which can be caused by the Aloe Vera that's called for in the recipe.  Of course, you'd want to use the clear part of the inside of the leaf and not that green slime that is found under the toothed edges.

It's hard to be a parent when, not only do you have to protect your kids from harm from others, including their peers, but now so often it seems like you have to protect the little nutcases from themselves.

I guess I haven't mentioned yet about my sleeping issues.  I found the Benedryl to help a little bit, but not significantly.  So I had Terri call in the prescription for Ambien.  When I got it in my hands and saw all the warnings and such, and how you shouldn't take it if you couldn't devote 8 hours to sleep, I started worrying about whether it would make me so groggy that I'd either fail to feel the need to get up to go to the bathroom, or that it'd cause me to stumble and fall down on the way there or back.  I mean, because of that Meloxicam, I have to drink a lot of water to protect my kidneys from damage.  Even though I don't drink water after supper, it seems like I still have to get up in the night.   So the prescription bottle is still in the sack.  Oddly enough, that same afternoon I fell asleep all by myself while watching TV lying on the bed with my heels hanging over the edge.  So now I lay further down in the bed and I seem to be sleeping at least as well as when taking Benedryl.  Oh, for the days when I could sleep like a rock.  Maybe those days will return gradually.  Last night I wanted to watch the program that was on the educational channel about Walt Disney, and I fell asleep and missed the whole thing.  I woke up to the TV off and Hubs snoring, and then had trouble going back to sleep.  Sheesh.  I sleep a lot better in a bed by myself but Hubs insists that he needs to be nearby in case I need something and I cannot find a way to convey my preferences that wouldn't hurt his feelings.

This is now Wednesday.  Hubs has gone into town to have his "workout" at the fitness center, where he intends to spread the word about shingles shots being available at the Health Department.  Plus he'll stop at Walgreen's and get my refill of Meloxicam and some milk.  We always buy our milk at Walgreen's because it's cheaper there than in the grocery stores.

We picked all the pears that we could reach off the tree yesterday and I washed them.  Today I'll wrap them in newspaper.  There are a few that have bruises and bad spots, they will rot if I wrap them, so we're munching those after cutting out the parts that are not edible.  They are sort of semi-ripe and are a little crunchy, but they are ripe enough to be sweet.  Pears are not our "preferred" fruit.  I think Hubs' favorite is probably grapes and mine is apples.  But the grapevines developed Black Spot this year and the apple trees didn't set on very well.  We've sprayed the grapevines and peach trees with Liqui-Cop and hope to have better luck with them next year.  I'm rethinking putting wood chips under fruit trees / vines because I suspect they introduce fungus or at least encourage growth of it.  And since I'm carrying a credit at Stark's, I think I'm going to order a Red Haven peach tree and plant it where the purple-leaved peach tree was torn out last spring.  The tree I have is a Hale Haven, and I assumed it was the same as the Red Haven but it is not.  The peaches do not mature until fall and so they hang there through the worst of the summer in their immature state.  The pits are not freestone.  And the skins are hard to peel.  Red Havens are ready to pick in early July, thus avoiding the worst of Oklahoma's summer heat.  They are beautiful red-yellow peaches, are freestone, aren't too difficult to peel, and the flavor, in my opinion, can't be beat.   Once the Red Haven peach tree is going good, I'll cut down the Hale Haven.

Every few days, I'm checking the pears I wrapped in newspaper last week and they are not ready to be put up yet.  I've sampled those pears I canned with the skins on and I'm not too happy with the flavor.  The skins impart a slightly bitter taste, almost a grapefruit-like flavor, and they are kind of hard to chew.  I tried peeling the pear quarters after taking them out of the jar but they aren't much easier to peel after canning than they were before.  Yes, it does save time not to have to peel the pears, and if you're in a real time crunch, canning them unpeeled is certainly a better option than not getting them canned at all.  I don't have anything else coming ripe right now that needs canning so I will probably peel the next canner load.

This is now Thursday and I'll probably post today.  It's going to be hot today so Hubs and I went out for my walk early.  I missed the window of opportunity yesterday, and I had worn myself out deadheading stuff in the herb garden, anyway.  I seem to be tiring very easily but they say that there is nothing that saps you of your stamina like laying around.   This time we walked in the other direction, past Jay and Claire's house and then past Dane and Debbie's, up to their mailbox, before turning around.  It was further.  After a short rest, I went out to the garden alone, picked 4 Cucuzzi, a handful of Jalapeno peppers, a couple of sad looking tomatoes, a few snap beans.  Now I'm tired.

I think I mentioned before that the insects have completely stripped the Blue Kale plants, and I had considered cutting them down to a stump to see if they would come back up from the root, but yesterday I noticed there are little leaves trying to grow on the bare stalk.  Sometimes, in the garden, it's just better to have a "wait and see" attitude.

Kale is a winter crop as cold weather "sweetens it up".  There's Red Russian Kale and another kind that slips my mind right now still out in the garden.  I checked the Chard and it's gone.  So's the Rhubarb.

We watched Big Brother last night, they are down to three contestants now, and it's been interesting, but all but one of the people I wanted to win have been voted off and it's down to the one that's run the house since the beginning, the girlfriend of the wrestler who was voted off on Tuesday, and the math whiz guy.  There's one more show where they'll get down to two and I guess it IS all about who manipulated everyone else and thus "played the game the best", and if that's the case, the person I like the least is probably the one who should win.  The people who went to "The Jury House" after they were evicted will choose between the last two.  But there's a nice little pile of money for the person who comes in second, so both people will go home happy.  I hate to see people be rewarded for lying and for succeeding on the backs of people whose only error was that they trusted people who didn't have an honest bone in their body, but that is, afterall, how this particular game is won.  That's pretty much the way Survivor works, it's just in a different setting, but we haven't watched that one in a long time.

Well, this is about all I have for this time, y'all rock on and Hubs and I will do the same.  Hugs, xoxoxo

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First Week Of September, 2015

I start this on Friday, September 5.
I imagine most of you are getting sick of hearing about my recuperation from knee surgery, and if so, I apologize.  It's really about all I have to talk about right now because laying around and healing, doing my exercises, and taking my meds is about all I'm allowed to do.  Hubs won't even let me walk around in the garden.  I get to graduate from the walker to a cane this coming Wednesday, so Thursday I'm going out there with Hubs to have a look around.  No, I won't pull weeds or do anything I'm not supposed to.  I just want to see for myself what's left growing.  I'm thinking most of the tomato plants have made it thru the heat of summer so as soon as the nights start being cooler maybe there will be a flush of new fruits on some of the vines for ripening in fall, unless the first frost happens early.  It's a crapshoot at this point.  I had Hubs put some fertilizer on the bean vines, hoping it would punch them up for a fall harvest, since they just haven't made much up to this point.  And there will be sweet potatoes to dig, but Hubs will wield the potato fork and I will just have to be the supervisor.   Usually I wait till the weatherman forecasts the first frost but I found out sweet potatoes only need 100 days and by early October they will have had that.  Waiting to dig till the day before the first frost has been a problem for me because there are usually no warm days immediately after in which to do the curing.

I didn't get around to taking any pears off the pear tree earlier, and the load broke a branch during the last storm we had before surgery, so I went out and picked off all the pears that were on that branch and Hubs cut the branch off cleanly.  I washed them and wrapped in newspaper.  Well, I checked them yesterday, and they were ripened and ready.  There were a few more in the crate than we can easily eat, and since we haven't gotten fruit off most of the fruit trees this year, I decided to take advantage of what little we DO get and try to get them canned.  I saw on someone's blog where they canned their pears peel and all, and I thought how much time that'd save.  So I sat on the couch with my surgical leg stretched out on the adjacent couch cushion, and cored enough pears yesterday to fill the Maslin pan.  The thing about the Maslin pan is that it holds just the right amount to fill 7 quart jars, so you never fall short if you fill the pan up to the collar, at least.  I always go a little past, and usually have a bit too much, but I'd rather have that than a bit too little.  Hubs was a big help this time, I showed him how much water to put in the canner and he started it heating out in the garage.  After I had the Maslin pan full, he carried it to the stove in the kitchen.  I had about 3 quarts of water in the pan with the pears, to which I had added just one cup of sugar for a very light syrup, a teaspoon of Citric Acid, and two smashed 1000 IU vitamin C capsules.  I've tried just a water pack before and I don't like the watered-down taste.  I don't feel like the pears hold their color as well in the jar in just a water pack, either.  I iced my knee while the fruit was heating and then packed each jar.  Hubs carried the pan full of filled jars to the garage and I lifted each jar into the canner, which was boiling by then.

And so it went.   I don't know if I will can unpeeled pears beyond this year but it sure does save a lot of time up front.  I've seen where some people have also started canning unpeeled tomatoes but I know I wouldn't like the end product.  Heat makes the peel stiffen, if will separate itself from the tomato, but usually in annoying little rolled-up papery pieces that aren't pleasant to chew, OR to try to dip out.

This morning I went out there with a wet washcloth and wiped the jars down, then put them back in the pan for carrying and Hubs took them to the pantry and put each jar on the shelf.

Then we went out to the pear tree and he helped me pick the larger pears from the tree.  The skins are still green but if they have a red blush and if they pick easily, those are the signs that ripening will happen soon.  When they are ripe they become very fragrant and they beckon to the deer and other wildlife, and bugs.  This tree is OUTSIDE the fence, so it's kind of important to get them before they're quite ripe.  Also, if they're soft-ripe they will start falling to the ground and they will bruise or even bust when they land.  And they will be harder to scrub clean, as well.
Hubs brought them to the sink for me for washing.  You wouldn't think fruit hanging on a tree out in the rain and so on would be all that dirty, but they do really get kind of nasty-looking.  Once in awhile there'll be a smear of bird-poo on one.  Yuk.  What I'm using to scrub the pears is one of these:
I've bought them at local Dollar Stores and I think Wal-Mart has them too.  I cut them in half because they're just easier for me to handle.  After about the first use they soften some but they get the job done even when they've become quite soft.  If I have concerns about bacteria on my fruit, I'll put a small bowl of distilled vinegar off to the side and give each one a little dunk into it after the scrubbing part, and then a cool water rinse before drying them off with a clean towel. 

Hubs carried the drainer full of clean pears and set it on a towel on top of the cedar chest, so I was able to ice my knee while I wrapped them in the same papers I'd used for the previous ones.  There were just enough to fill the box, which Hubs carried down to the pantry where it's cool and dark.  Having the cardboard box in a plastic crate makes it so much easier to carry.

This is now Sunday morning.  I had a restless night last night.  I wasn't hurting, I was just not comfortable and couldn't find a position I could get into that was.  So I slept in short snatches and woke up every hour on the hour until at 2am I just got up, made my way up to the main floor and started the coffee Hubs had put together the night before, iced my knee and had a couple of short naps during which I dreamed the craziest dreams.  Lots of times I will remember I dreamed but won't remember what it was about.  These were about going to a huge flea market and running into a friend I hadn't seen in years, driving crazily on a street in town and getting crowded almost onto the sidewalk by a truck because in fact, there wasn't a lane where I was driving, and arriving home to find a bunch of people that apparently I had invited and forgotten I had.  They needed to be fed and I hadn't thought of anything to fix.... just silly things like that.  Freud would probably have had an explanation of what they mean.  And maybe I don't want to know what that is.

The PA at the surgeon's office told me to get off the Oxycodone as soon as it was possible, so I took myself off it yesterday, 17 days post-surgery.  I was down to half a pill twice a day and then one right at bedtime.  I made it through the day just fine, but when I found myself unable to sleep that night, I considered going ahead and taking one because they just put me out like a light, and then I thought, "I bet this is how addiction starts".  I take a Meloxicam once a day and that is supposed to help with pain, inflammation and swelling, so it's not like I'm without some defenses.  This morning I looked up "Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms" and insomnia is one of them, but it looks like withdrawal doesn't actually happen with Oxycodone in doses as small as I was taking.  Maybe it just wasn't my night to sleep.  After lunch I was able to have a short nap and felt better afterward but most of this day has been just one of those days a person wants to get behind them. 

My digestive system has really been cleaning house today, though.  I weighed this morning and I'm at what I weighed before surgery.  They told me not to try to lose weight while I'm trying to heal, and I've just been continuing on with my plan of eating when I'm hungry and making it stuff that's good for me.  Except Hubs brought home some Pringles cheese-flavored chips.  OMG, can you say, "umami"?  Whew!  I was having ten chips a day with my lunchtime sandwich till I started swelling up like a toad from all that salt.  Plus I've been such a slug, I was much relieved I hadn't started packing it back on.

I watched a good segment on Cook's Country HERE about meat smoked with corncobs.  I guess in South Dakota it's common, but I had never heard about smoking meat using corncobs.  Well, I'll be.... that site makes you subscribe to see the rest of their web page.  I hate when people do that.  HERE is an alternative.

Do you like learning about earth minerals / geology?  HERE is a cool site.  I saw a segment on one of our antenna channels, and found their website HERE.  You have to give them your zip so they know what schedule to show you.  Oh, I found Growing a Greener World comes on at 10am on Sundays.  Glad to see that, because our Dish channel 11 quit airing it on Saturdays and put something on in it's place that I don't like nearly as well.  I watched it today and Joe Lamp'l had Melinda Myers from Stark Brothers Nursery on.  They talked about growing fruit but dealt mostly with bush-type fruit: blueberries, raspberries.  I've tried to grow blueberries here and they just couldn't make it through the excessive heat we had for two summers in a row.  

This is now Monday.  I had a better night last night and feel a lot less "zombie-like" today.  Hubs relented to allow me to go to the garden today.  Of course Hubs knows that if I'm determined to do something, I'll do it, and nothing he can do will stop me.  I'm THAT stubborn sometimes.  Most of the time when he tries to micro-manage my life I will humor him if I think it's based on common sense.  But I am, by nature and by genetics, not one to let a man, any man, boss me around.

Oh, the garden is so full of grass and weeds.  Of course I knew it would be.

Most of the plants are still there but just not setting on anything.  Hubs picked a small harvest of green beans.  He hasn't been watching the Cucuzzi squash/gourds and they totally went to town.  Probably not good for much but seeds now.  WHAT does one do with a fully-grown Cucuzzi?
Is there a point where it becomes more gourd than squash and is inedible?  I had Hubs remove them from the vine, which has now grown off the trellis and is filling up the walkway, so that new, more edible ones will set on and be available by the time I'm able to keep up with them again.

The cucumber vine that I thought had died off is still producing.  Hubs is watching a cucumber he didn't pick day before yesterday.  There's a melon that's about ready to pick, but the stem is still healthy so we left it alone for now.  The Purple Hull Pink Eye peas are blooming but there have been no new pods put on since I picked everything the day before surgery.

The insects have eaten all the kale and chard, leaving only the veins.

And some of our trees have webworms on them.  Hubs and I poked at the webs we could reach till they opened and allowed all the nasty worms to fall to the ground.  Maybe the birds will come along and eat them.  Otherwise they'll probably just climb right back up the tree.  The webs are gummy and cling to the stick and it's really messy.  I saw somewhere that some people are spraying cooking oil on the webs.  I bet a can of Pam would come in handy.  I have one of those Pampered Chef oil sprayers somewhere that might do the job with just plain old cooking oil. 

The apples have turned red and it is time to pick.  This is the extent of our harvest from two 7-year-old trees, one of which was supposed to be Yellow Delicious and the other was supposed to be Red Delicious.  I don't think they are either one.
They are kind of mealy inside, like a Roma.

This is now Tuesday.  Still having trouble sleeping, and this concerns me because I know a lot of healing takes place while we sleep.  Besides that, it makes for a long night and makes me feel tired the following day.  I weighed this morning and I have lost two pounds.

I cut into one of those Cucuzzi yesterday and the skin was still tender enough to slice very easily.  It had started to form seeds inside and I tasted a piece and found it not to be bitter and the seeds were as tender as immature squash seeds are so I cooked one in olive oil with some sweet red onion and then added it to spaghetti sauce and that last jar of hamburger mix that I'd been keeping in the refrigerator.  I cooked some spaghetti and we had that for supper.  This time I did not mix the spaghetti with the sauce because I felt like I had 'way less pasta than was appropriate for the sauce.  And I was right.  We had a lot of sauce left over and not as much pasta.  There's about enough pasta for another meal so I thought we'd have it for supper again tonight and then I'll freeze what's left of the sauce.  Botta bing.  I have to say that I'm torn about home-canned hamburger mix.  It's so very convenient to have on the pantry shelves, and if we have a power outage we can even eat it, right out of the jar, if necessary.  But I feel like the meat just tastes overcooked.  When I'm recovered, I think I'll try canning beef roast, cut in, say, 2" cubes, and see if I like the end product better.

By the way, Hubs received his prescriptions in the mail the other day so we are finally all set for the coming year.  If you ever have this problem, I have one word of advice:  when you are trying to get the fax number of the pharmacy for your VA clinic, do not say that to anyone on the phone.  Just keep asking for the pharmacist till you get them on the line, and THEN ask them for their fax number.  Everybody up to that point has no clue what the fax number for the pharmacy is, and they will not have the presence of mind to connect you to the pharmacy, they will just look on their phone list and give you the first number that they see that might be it, and it never is.  Been there, done that.   Seems like there are a lot of people these days that just don't have problem-solving skills.

There's a little hummingbird sitting of the clothesline outside the window near where I'm sitting.  It seems to be preening itself.  There's a lot of activity outside now what with several hummingbirds and lots of butterflies.  Our resident Wolf spider still spins the web just outside our patio door every night and takes it up in the morning when we turn on the light.  Yesterday morning there was a tree-toad stuck to the glass of one of the doors.  Something moved quickly in the garden that morning Hubs and I were out there.  I hope it was a Skink lizard, I've seen them around before.  Hubs thought it might be a small bunny, as he found a nest against the foundation of the house on the south side when he mowed last.  I hope it wasn't a rat.  Neighboring ranchers haven't been doing any burning off lately.  We've set the trap a few times just to see if we get anything.  Haven't caught any rats but one morning Hubs discovered a small opossum in the trap.  *Sigh*.  The beat goes on.  This is all part of country living.

I'm doing laundry today, will hang out jeans and colors if Hubs will carry the basket out to the lines for me.  Rain and thunderstorms are forecast behind the cool front that will be coming through here early this evening.  We can use both the cooler temps AND the rain.  If storms require going to the cellar, I guess I will just hide in the bathroom, I don't think I can get down into the cellar right now.

Antenna TV just keeps on delivering.  I found Joyce Meyers on channel 53 at 9:30, weekdays.  It might seem funny to some people that I, an old-fashioned late-comer to the Protestant faith, to be a person who likes Joyce Meyers, who is Pentacostal by faith.  I heard all the jokes about "Holy Rollers" while I was growing up, but as I've aged, I've become a lot less affected by what other people say, and when I like something, it's because I do, and not because I want to be part of the "in-crowd" that does.  Joyce has a way of talking about God and explaining the Bible in a way that makes me feel like it applies directly to me.  I remember the first time I found Joyce, I was flipping through the channels, trying to find something interesting to watch and I landed on her program at about the time when she was saying, "You know, people do things out of their own hurts, wants and needs.  They're not thinking about whether that hurts someone, they're just thinking about filling their own emptiness.  They're just doing "what they do", and it really doesn't have anything to do with you."  That hit me right between the eyes.  I was going through something at the time that was extremely painful.  I received the blame for something done by someone else and my family abandoned me when I needed them the most.  Joyce talked to me a lot, the rest of that year.  She taught me not to internalize everything.  She taught me to consider the source.  And she taught me to hand over my troubles to God and let Him handle things.  She taught me to trust that, even though God didn't always make things turn out the way I thought He should, he knew everyone's hearts and minds.  Nobody can hide from God.  They can "spin" the things they do until, well, it was all they could do, wasn't it, under the circumstances someone else had created for them?  My, my, all victims are we.  But God can see past the "spin", and into the real reasons.  And maybe the real reasons will be so sad that He will forgive, but if He thinks someone needs to be punished, He can do it far better than any mortal being ever could, although He might not let you watch.  God doesn't work that way.  There is no need for any of us to "get even" with someone else.  Just take your case to God and let Him sort it out.  Meanwhile, He can bring peace, comfort and blessings to you, if only you will trust Him.   And so I learned to trust Him and He has brought me peace, and comfort, and He has blessed me in many ways, large and small.   Every time I listen to one of Joyce's sermons, she says something that speaks directly to me.  And sometimes it just blows my mind.  The sermon I watched yesterday was "You receive not because you ask not".  How many times do we reserve prayer as the last resort.  We even say, "It's all we can do now".  Prayer should be the first thing that we do.  Years ago, I was told by a co-worker that she actually prays to God for a parking space.  I was horrified at the thought of bothering God for such a silly thing.  I didn't learn for many, many years that God delights in giving us little gifts.  It's how He shows us that He loves us.  Yesterday, my back was just absolutely killing me.  It does this during periods of inactivity and I had worried earlier that I'd have trouble with my back when I had my knee worked on.  I went to bed early, with my back hurting worse than my knee did, although I'd found a hot shower very comforting and Hubs rubbed some Icy-Hot on the angry area.  So I just prayed for relief from the pain.  I cranked up the risers in the bed and Hubs and I watched TV for awhile and then when I got up to go to the bathroom about half an hour later I noticed the pain was gone.  Of course then I asked God to help me get comfortable enough so I could sleep the night through and that didn't happen.  Not sure why.  Maybe He figured the backache was enough to get rid of for the time-being.  And hey, I'm counting my blessings.  And I'm not gonna quit asking.

This is now Wednesday, we are just now home from Tulsa where I met with the Physical Therapist and he gave me a new set of exercises to do, watched me perambulate with my three-footed cane and watched me climb stairs, recommended light massage with my favorite oil and said that'd do it.  I'd already started putting coconut oil on my knee as the skin was terribly dry and itchy, but he said to put it on the scar, too.  I wanted to talk with Terrie, Dr. Plaster's RN, about what I could take to help me sleep that they would approve of, and I tried to get in to see her but it didn't work out, so we came on home.  When we arrived, there was a message from her on the machine saying to try two Benedryl at bedtime and if that didn't work to let her know and she'd call me in a prescription for Ambien.  So Hubs will make sure I have some Benedryl in my hot little hands by the end of the day today and hopefully we will both sleep better tonight.  This morning at 1:15, when I was crawling back into bed after having gotten up for a little while, Hubs rolled over and asked if I was OK and I said, "No.  I can't sleep."  I mean, I'm getting so desperate after several nights of this that I could just boo-hoo about it for awhile.  But he didn't detect any of that desperation, just said, "I'm sorry, .....<snore>".  It's not like he can do anything about it, anyway, it wouldn't have been right for me to expect him to get up with me or anything.

We had about an inch of rain last night but it has cleared off and there is no more rain in the forecast till Thursday night.  At least the cool front came through and that is going to be nice.  We can start having our coffee on the patio in the mornings again, that's if the mosquitoes don't carry us off first.   

Well, that's about all I know, and I'm such a zombie I just really can barely put two words together, so that'll do it for this time.  I know I'm blessed to be doing as well as I'm doing and without complications except for the dang insomnia, which today has made me nauseous and made my eyes ache, so I'm not much good for anything today.    So till next time, rock on, and Hubs and I will do our best to do the same.  Hugs all around. xoxoxo

Milestones Passed:
8/19 - Surgery.
8/21 - Home from hospital.
8/26 - Staples removed from suture and bandages changed.
8/29 - Drain hole bandage removed.
9/3 - Last Warfarin taken.
9/5 - Suture bandage removed.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
9/5 - Went completely off Oxycodone.
9/9 - Graduated from walker to cane.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Milestones To Come:

- Completely off Meloxicam (once daily; for arthritis-related pain and swelling, so I'm not going to be in any hurry.  I have twelve left in the bottle and two 30-day refills, according to the label.)
- Off the cane (in three more weeks, they say.)