Monday, May 30, 2016

Musings from the Recliner: Home again, Home again!

I survived!  It's not as though that was really something to worry about, but from my point of view here in the recliner, it's worth stating for the record none-the-less. 

First the little factoids:
  • The doctors were great.  The pre-surgery discussion was mostly the surgeon musing to De that he thought it was generally a good thing when the patient and surgeon had more-or-less the same surgery in mind and at least similar expectations for the outcome.
  • The reconstruction took about 2 hours, and I spent another 2-1/2 hours lounging about the recovery room where the nurses, on the phone with one of the docs, somewhat irritably worked to get my consciousness up and my blood pressure down.  I was apparently an unrepentant slacker on both counts.  "Senator, I have no recollection ..."  I do recall they were more-or-less polite, but it was clear I was holding up the pre-holiday preparations or something.
  • "More-or-less" was clearly the operative concept this time around.
    • I was thinking 3 or maybe 4 incisions would be fine for this job; 6 is apparently more-or-less the same.  (With 6 incisions and 4 bruises my mom, of all people, told me I look like a connect-the-dots puzzle.  For just a moment I was tempted to provide a pic as proof but I have nightmares of reoccurring shaved belly images with who-knows-what superimposed on and showing up at odd times for years.)
    • I was thinking a little bit of "belly inflation" so he could see what he was doing would work great; turning my midsection into a street carnival moon walk is apparently more-or-less just that.
    • I was thinking a few stitches in my diaphragm to keep my stomach where it belongs would be dandy; a circus tarp of medical mesh lashed into place is apparently more-or-less the same thing.
  • The nurses were great and it was clear some of them must have had an agricultural background since they knew just what is done for a mildly bloated cow and assumed that same technique would be fine for me.
  • I spent one rather undignified night in the hospital getting everything ‘restarted’ (I'll spare you all the details on that one) all the while waiting for my next round of pain meds to show up.
  • They yanked out my tubes (and more than a little arm hair) and De took me home to my recliner after noon on Saturday.
There is a bit of good news. The going-in plan was an all-liquid diet for two weeks.  It turns out a few things like yogurt, pudding, soft ice cream and thinly mixed cream of wheat are on the menu right from the git-go as long as no bite is larger than an M&M.  One M&M – and not the peanut kind.  Still, that’s good news.  Also, once I got the Moonwalk mostly deflated (Ah!  No details!), I’m pretty comfortable and have backed off on the pain meds already.  This is, of course, a two-edged sword and since I’m not supposed to be doing much of anything at all De has already had to wave said sword my direction more than once to keep my keester in the recliner.

I’ll call tomorrow and get my follow-up appointment in place for roughly two weeks in the future.  All restrictions apply, to the letter, until he says otherwise.

So, once again, I'm in the recliner, the musings have begun, and I’ll be sharing them.

Col. 1:9-12,

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sometimes it's just too much help...

I'm working up a post on all we've done in the garden, but worked in amongst pics of the quack grass, plantings, trellises and plant coverings are the chickens.  We like having them around but, as the title suggests, sometimes they can be a little TOO much help...

A few times a year I have an opportunity to work the "day job" from home.  With the work laptop home and the magic of "virtual private networks", it's almost like being at my desk.  It was a nice day and I decided to work outside for an hour or so, mostly to demonstrate to my co-workers I could ;-) and I sent them this pic to prove it .  One of  the 'girls' apparently decided I needed help.  I wouldn't let her, but she was itching to try her hand (or claws) at the keyboard.  (I blurred out the screen at bit so the day-job legal folks wouldn't get cranky.)

Garden work always means the 'helpers' are close.  When I was cleaning the quack grass out the beds (again), they were right there to lend a "claw".  A lot of "claw"...

The worms are directly under my fork, so that is where they want to be.
The "girls" and I (mostly "I") pulling out the quack grass roots.
I'm never alone in the garden.  Even if I would like to be.

We did manage to get into a bit (a weeeee bit) of helpful rhythm when we planting.  The 'girls' are always in the bed I'm working on, or the last one.  As long as I stayed two beds ahead of De planting it worked out OK.  I would have the "main" help in the bed I was digging, Ivan and the girls would be "leveling out" the last one I worked on, and De was (relatively) free to plant.
The production line at work!
 We have one hen, a white Easter-Egger named Esther, that has been something of an outcast since her last hard molt.  She gets picked on a bit and lately goes running for a safe-haven.
De got first 'dibs'.  Tank Top!  OUCH!

I got my turn.  At least the claws weren't an issue.
Funny, and I'm flattered I suppose, but it did slow down the work a bit.

Garden work is not the only thing that draws an audience.  This time it was replacing a headlamp bulb (accessed, on my Equinox, via the wheel well. Grrr!  What genius thought that was good idea?).

"Yes, I know the light is over there, but you get to the bulbs through here!"
"Hey!!  He's right!!  You really can't get to the bulbs from up here!"

You gotta see the fun in life where you can.  Hope you enjoy!

Col. 1:9-12,


Bad Luck or Disturbing Trend?

De and I went to get our garden plants yesterday and encountered some unpleasant surprises.  We went to our "go to" greenhouse, and discovered the garden plant section had been cut in half in favor of  flowers and landscaping plants.  The Sausage tomatoes we love instead of the traditional Romas were no where to be found and, we were told, would not be available this season.  We got some of what we needed and moved on hoping for better luck at another greenhouse.

After visiting four greenhouses we still are need of a few plants,mostly tomatoes.  In each case we found 1) the garden plant section had been reduced from the previous years allocation, and 2) the plants available were almost exclusively the same mass produced, factory, "brand name" varieties that we have found to be mediocre performers and yield an inferior product.

In our area there are a lot of small lakes with lots (and lots) of summer lake cottages.  It appears greenhouses may be getting a "bigger dollar" by selling to "lakers" getting their summer landscaping and flower gardens in order and folks who raise a small summer "salad" garden only,  than to persons putting in larger "country" gardens with a focus on varieties that preserve well. 

Since we are striving to have some degree of food independence and to generate a garden harvest of really good-and-good-for-you fruits and veggies, this is a disturbing trend.  Our next trip out will be further out to greenhouses in an area with a large population of Amish and Mennonite families (and fewer lakes) which, we hope, will have more freezing, canning and winter storage varieties available. 

So I'm curious.  Is the trend toward greenhouses offering more landscaping and flower garden items and less "country garden" plants a local phenomenon, or is it more wide-spread?   If you have this problem in your area, how are you coping?  What say you all?

Col. 1:9-12,


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Big Family Weekend!!

It was a big Mother's Day weekend on the Hoosier Country Homestead!  Daughter #2, Son-in-Law and the granddaughters came Friday evening and stayed through early Sunday afternoon.  It had been four months since we had seen everyone, and Christmas since they had been here.  We all had a great time.

I got the lawn mowed (OK - I confess - for the first time this year) just as they were arriving, and then it was "off to the races" for the whole weekend.  I was too busy 'living' the weekend to 'document' everything we did, but I do have some highlights. Most of my pics, for some odd reason, focus on grandkids.  :-)

There was a little bit of garden work done. Another confession - I hadn't started on the garden work yet, but when little girls want to work in the garden, Papa makes sure at least a little work gets done.

Let the gardening begin!
As always, where is digging there are 'helpers'.  When the girls figured out the chickens were after worms and bugs the real fun began.  Bugs were out (of course - eww!), but they dug up a few worms and wanted to feed them to the chickens.  This, of course, requires actually touching the worms which brought on a great deal of city-girl consternation.  In the end, after a short exploratory session with Papa holding a worm and a little encouragement, worms were handled and the chickens were a little happier.  One more step from city-girls to country-girls!

Son-in-Law helped me finish the shelving in the hoop house.  I would have struggled in my 'normal' state to finish off the top shelf since it's almost 8 feet in the air.  In my current, somewhat degraded, state it would have been nigh impossible.

The bottom shelf is 10 feet wide by 4 feet deep.  The top shelf is 6 feet wide by 4 feet deep. Like everything else on the place its not very square and does the job nicely.

Stuff from the barn already moving in!
Simple as it seems, that shelf was one of my big spring projects. Getting it done, and barn cleared, is the gateway to a handful of other tasks.

Last year I got De a reel mower for her Mother's Day gift. (Ya gotta love a woman who asks for a reel mower for a gift)  The granddaughters have, of course, seen gas driven lawn mowers but had never seen a reel mower.  Both spent some time trying it out.  I love being able to offer them some new experiences, especially the 'homesteading' kind.  Both thought it was great fun.

One of the highlights of coming to the "farm" is helping to gather eggs.  De made both girls "egg aprons" - aprons with pockets for individual eggs - and, of course, they got a chance to try them out.

De and the girls gathering up the eggs.

There were of lots of other things that didn't get pics.  Steering the tractor and the truck around the homestead from Papa's lap as we hauled stuff out of the barn, countless rides rolling down the hill in the wagon and other kid's vehicles, chicken chores of feeding and adding bedding, playing ball, and the like.

Big days make for tired girls, and just a moment of 'downtime' was enough.
Naptime! - Pic doesn't show that Papa was snoozing away too, moments after taking this pic.

 More to come, but tomorrow is a 'day job' workday and morning comes early.  It was a wonderful weekend.  De and I are so blessed to have such a wonderful family and have them close enough to see them several times a year.

Col. 1:9-12,