Thursday, August 27, 2015

Life (is) going on...

Daniel made it home, having had a great hike in the Pecos Wilderness with a great group of friends. Before many days went by back here at house, he had landed not one, but TWO part time jobs. He is helping the neighbor of a friend build a fence, as well as working as a part time laborer for a local landscaper.
They have an interview with the Gentry Newspaper this weekend.
I was musing this morning about what the Twins learned on the AT. For one thing, they learned to appreciate hot meals and daily showers! With the two of them both working long hours on a daily basis, I have observed they have learned to plan ahead. They plan out their meals to carry in their lunch boxes- and even go get the items needed. Work (and school) related items are laid out beforehand, not relegated to last minute rushed searches. Some things, we still need to work on. Walking in the door is much the same as most folks experience with teens and school aged kids... a trail forms behind them. With this house being on the market (again), I need it kept looking neat. I figured one way to help contain the trail of dirty laundry would be to have a basket for it in their bathroom. The bathroom is too small for a basket- a problem I decided to solve by placing the laundry basket into the bathtub, where it is hidden by the shower curtain. When they need to shower, the basket can sit on the floor in front of the toilet.
I went into their bathroom this morning. The basket is sitting on the floor in front of the toilet... on top of a mound of dirty clothes. Really guys? REALLY?

Yesterday, the real estate dude came by to take pictures. I cleaned up as best I could, trying to make the place look good and spacious for the pictures. Why would I DO that? Something that would make the house more appealing to buyers?
We are a few weeks shy of having lived here 11 years... permanent renters. If the house doesn't sell, we continue to sit here- flushing our rent money down the drain every month. If it does sell, we HAVE TO MOVE. "We" seem set on the path of least resistance. If not forced into motion, we stay motionless.

My visit to the Doctor.... that was Monday afternoon. I was there for a referral to a carpal tunnel surgeon. I wasn't stressed. I was placid and happy to finally be getting a start on getting rid of carpal tunnel. I took a book. I read and waited- knowing before I ever arrived, my Doctor takes his time with every patient. I expected to be there until after 5:00 pm for my 3:30 appointment. I was mildly unhappy, but not shocked or terribly disturbed when my weight was taken. I've gained a couple of lbs. since my last visit, but lost more than 14 lbs. of the bulk I'd put on in the last few years. I was shocked at my blood pressure being 189/100.
Doc was NOT happy with that. I told him it was a higher than normal reading. By then, I had sat quietly another half hour. He took it again, and it was down a tad- 179/94. He said I wasn't going to have surgery unless it was down and staying down. So he put me on BP medication.
Mr C was even less pleased than the Doctor. He looked up all the herbs and dietary things I should be doing to have great BP like he does... set out the ones we had on hand and had me make a list of the ones I needed to get.
I got started on BOTH the medicine and the natural remedies. Mr C suggested I start out at half the Doctor's prescribed dose. It has been 3 nights of the herbal stuff and 1/2 the daily dose of Metaprolol... and I woke to 107/ 70 this morning. Guess they are working!
I have been keeping a record of multiple daily readings, taking the herbs, and walking. I go back to see my Doc on the 9th. Meanwhile, I have a preliminary visit to the surgeon on the 1st of September.

Friday, August 21, 2015

End of Busyness

We had a nice visit with Benjamin and Paula and the kids. Jasher was a busy boy. Two year olds can make you tear your hair out one minute and laugh until your sides ache the next! Our dog, Jaffa, learned how to very deftly avoid Jasher's attention. Jasher is so polite- he almost always says "Please" and "Thank You". And those big brown eyes- let's just say he could of been in a lot more trouble if he hadn't figured out how to melt people with them.
Althea will be 9 months old in a few days. She is SUCH a happy girl. She demonstrated how she can climb... and she is just starting to "cruise". She seemed to not mind CowGranny holding her, and would laugh and laugh with Umpaw. "heh-k-k-k-kkkkk. heeee hhhkkk- heh- kkkkkk." Her laugh is so funny!
   We tried several new/ different recipes during their visit. Paula is working on some health issues by dietary modifications. I managed to make an edible batch of quinoa. I cooked a pot of completely unseasoned black beans, which we used in several recipes. We turned them into tortillas for enchiladas, and for fajitas. The seasoned mixture made tortillas that taste very much like the Frito-Lay bean dip I remember as a kid!
   While making the tortillas, we thought of how much the tortillas resembled chocolate pancakes... so the next morning, we used some of the black beans as a base for cocoa pancakes. Different seasonings, different proportions- you'd never know the bean base was cooked in the same batch!
Paula brought her vitamix. Wow. From grinding grains to making ice cream- it is quite the useful tool! (I couldn't talk her into forgetting it when they left...)
Ben got to visit some old friends while he was here.  He and Paula took the kids to the Wild Wilderness Safari Park. I hope he enjoyed his down-time as much as we enjoyed having them here.
   Sam has started electrician school, four hours one night each week. He is working full time as an apprentice. He seems to be enjoying it. Daniel's last day of his current hike is today. The group heads from New Mexico back to Texas tomorrow, and he is due to fly back to Arkansas Sunday morning.
When the world wakes up and doors start to open for the business day, I have phone calls to make. Tom has been reminding me all week to call to get the ball rolling on finally having the carpal tunnel surgery. I have a couple of other calls to make at the behest of others. At some point today, I NEED to try to nap. I usually try to sleep in on Friday mornings, as I work 3 -til- after cleanup at the restaurant.... usually 10:30ish. Tonight is Chicken- Fried Chicken night...  the monthly special that lands in my corner! It is one of the hardest nights on the carpal tunnel arm.
This morning I got up to see Ben and Paula off on their journey back to Texas. I had gone back to bed (5:35am!) and JUST dozed, when Mr C came in, flipped on the light and exclaimed, "SWEETY! You have gone back to bed!".
"Uh, yeah. I work tonight!"
He'd forgotten. I laid there another 20 minutes, and didn't even come close to dozing... so I got back up. He and Sam were soon out the door to their jobs. And here I am. The quiet, empty house. A couple of stray toys we keep here for when the grands visit are laying forlornly abandoned. An empty coffee cup, a skillet I never got around to washing last night.
I miss my kids. The hustle and bustle and chaos. The noise and messes. I COULD go clean the little finger and face prints from the sliding glass door. Give the dog fresh water (again) since those who had such fun in adding kibble to the water bowl are gone. It's sort of sad to wipe away the little reminders of their visit, though.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Home again, home again, Jiggety Jig

We are back to Arkansas- the twins successfully retrieved.
We arrived at the designated camp site at Baxter State Park on July 28th... and before too long, here came our intrepid duo! They delayed their summit until Wednesday, when Tom endeavored to accompany them.
Summiting was never on my horizon. I planned to make Katahdin Falls, then return to camp. Bright and early on Wednesday the 29th, we four set forth. The guys being much faster hikers than myself soon left me behind. I strolled up the trail, having most of the day to make the 1.2 miles to the falls. Upon reaching what I THOUGHT was Katahdin Falls, I discovered my new camera had not held a battery charge... it was dead as could be! GRRRR! I visited "The Last Privy on The Trail", sat at the Falls awhile, and headed back down the Trail towards camp. I was swimming against the current... meeting well over a hundred hikers hoping to summit Katahdin! Elderly people, fat people, small children (even though the rules say you must be older than 6 to climb above treeline!), a blind lady, a couple of people using canes...
Heck, was I just a wimp? The log in sheet at the trailhead was up to six pages long when I reached it going back... and most were GROUPS, using one line sign in for all.
 I puttered around camp awhile, hiked back into the unsullied woods behind our camp site. I walked the camp area, explored the stream. Charged my camera, took pictures, passed out goodies (Little Debbie treats) to hikers... until about 11:00 am. That was about the time we had figured I should leave to drive to the opposite side of the mountain and meet the boys.
The official guide says it is NOT recommended to try to summit Katahdin, hike the Knife's Edge, and try to return to Katahdin Stream campground in one day. Simply takes too much time. As it turned out, the advice was for weekend hikers... but we didn't know that. The drive around the mountain did, indeed, take a full 90 minutes to cover the 16 miles.
I was waiting when Dan and Sam appeared... and Sam told me that as he was brag calling/ texting family and friends from atop Katahdin (one of the few places in Baxter that actually has cell reception!) that Becky called to say Gma Arlene (Tom's mom) was in the hospital after having suffered a heart attack. This was ALL we knew. We found one DOT of cell coverage as we drove back towards camp at Katahdin Stream campground, and spoke to Tom's brother. Arlene was doing well after three stents had been placed in the blood flow to her heart. We lost contact almost immediately.
As it had turned out... Katahdin IS a tough climb. Tom had turned back without making the summit. I had already left to drive around the mountain before he got back to camp. (Very few of those who had headed to the summit actually made it!)
We told him about his Mom, and as ready as he was to break camp and head to her side, we figured it would be better to wait until morning to do so. Camp was paid for, and we were settled in. Breaking camp and leaving would of had four exhausted travelers forced to find shelter soon after hitting the road, had we left.
Tom asked me about the Falls... and as it turned out, I hadn't made it to them! They were another short climb around the hill from where I had been. My camera freshly charged... I did the hike up the mountain again. Once more, I was going against the flow. All those hikers who had been hopefully trying to summit were headed down.
The spot where I had been that morning was full of mostly nude Swedish hikers splashing about in the ICY stream! I wended my way past and got to see the Falls! Not wanting it to be a hike "just for the pictures"... I sat and enjoyed the solitude of the Falls for awhile before heading back to camp. The Swedes were dressing as I came back past. They passed me by as I strolled back down the trail.
The next day, we broke camp and headed to Ohio. We drove until late that night, and then slept a few hours. A second day of driving put us to Tom's Mom's house just before dark. She had beaten us there by an hour or less.
We spent the rest of our Ohio time doing "Sonny-do" chores and just relaxing as best we could.
Arriving home some 10 days later... the first thing we see- our porch is gone!
Whoever stole it replaced it with a nice new one. Going inside, we had turned down the AC to 90 before we left. It was marginally cooler than the 97* temperatures at 8:00 pm outside. After unloading, I was setting to work to prepare supper. Opening the freezer... GACK! *GAG*... The refrigerator had gone out on us while we were gone. Everything was spoiled. It was running- feebly  blowing tepid air across the ruined food. A formerly frosty mug fell out when Tom opened the door to ascertain my claim to the spoilage was accurate... shattering all over the tile floor and cutting his foot. Sam cleaned out the rotted foods, Dan cleaned up broken glass, while I tended Tom's foot. Then Tom and Sam went to town for something to feed us all... and Daniel worked on alleviating the visual stress associated with returning from a long trip.
Monday was errands: Returning the rental car. Buying regular groceries. Alerting the landlord to the broken refrigerator. Contacting prospective employers for Sam.
Results: We learned the new porch is phase one of house overhauls. The owners are once again putting the house on the market. (Their offer to us wasn't even in the same ballpark as what Tom expected, much less anywhere near the same page!)
Sam was put to work the very next day, with his new employers setting up his schooling as well as paying for it. Daniel and I went to Texas and retrieved the dog.
Jaffa was so glad to see us... he made sure we couldn't leave without him. We TRIED to get out of the house and keep him inside, just to see if it were possible. It was not.
So, here we are... back to Arkansas. Expecting Ben and Paula this weekend! July and August have been quite busy.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

PSA: Driving Etiquette/ Turn signals

Perhaps just too much is going on in my normally placid life.
I went to visit my friend Cindi this morning- her birthday is tomorrow, and I wouldn't have another opportunity to see her until we return from getting our intrepid trail hikers.

I found myself on a stretch of highway through town- a big ol' white truck ahead of me. It's not only going slower than the speed limit by a great deal- it is slowing down. Slower, slower... what is going ON with that? Then, brake lights, and the guy turns right, into a construction site. Oooo-Kaaay! Now I know why he was going at a strolling pace down the highway.

But I would of known sooner, and not been left wondering... and perhaps even been afforded an opportunity to pass, had the driver used these little devices that come standard on every vehicle in the USA these days. The little thing called a "turn signal". When someone uses a turn signal properly, other drivers don't have to wonder about your intentions. "Oh, he is going to turn RIGHT at the construction site!"

Turn signals are usually found on the steering column. The "Steering column" is that post that the steering wheel is attached to, that disappears through the dash of the car. "Turn Signals" look like small rods protruding from either the left or right side of the steering column. Depending on which side your turn signal is mounted on, you tap it from the top to indicate you plan to turn one direction, tap it from the bottom to indicate the opposite direction. The tapping of the rod, either up, or down, will activate a blinking light on the exterior of the vehicle. In most cases, the turn signal cancels itself out after you have completed the turn. Not only should you indicate your intention of turning, you should also use these clever devices to let folks know you plan to cut them off. (AKA "change lanes").

Here in the south, turn signals are no indication one does, in fact, intend to turn or change lanes. Often, the blinking light you see on an approaching car simply means that the "turn signal" was activated before the car was purchased, and the driver has no clue it is even on. (If you do not actually witness a person's turn signal being activated, never assume they do, in fact, plan to turn. This lack of assumption may save your life!)
If you are unfamiliar with the "turn signal", please take a few minutes to explore them on your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in "Park" (the big "P" on the control indicator.) Start the vehicle. Locate the rods protruding below the steering wheel. Try tapping the rod up. Exit the vehicle, and you should see a blinking light on the front and rear of the vehicle, on one side or the other. Tapping the rod downward once will cause the blinking to stop. Tap it down again... and the blinking light will appear on the opposite side of the vehicle!
USE the turn signal EVERY TIME you plan to turn or change lanes! It is a simple courtesy that could save your life.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I would rather not set a new record on bad years...

2012 has my permission to hold the all time title for the rest of my life.
But this week is stacking up as a Very. Bad. Week.
My BFF Angie's daughter Katrina was killed in a car accident Friday morning. Trina was 21- would of been 22 in November.
My friend of the past 11-ish years, Cindi. In the past 2 years: Lung cancer, double bypass on her heart, bleeding ulcers almost bled her out, brain tumor... she has fought a hard battle. Turning from atheistic views, to believing God MUST have a plan for her... and this week learns the cancer is not only back- but is at stage 4. Her life expectancy is: "Longer if she keeps fighting". I got the call from a mutual friend on our way to Kathie's birthday party Saturday.

My Mom got a call on her way to the party. A good friend of her and Ralph, who has been bounced around the doctors who have given him several incorrect diagnoses the last few months... collapsed with what is now said to be a cancerous tumor on his spine. One doctor said even if the tumor is a benign cancer, the spinal damage is already done and he will remain paralyzed. (On the good news side- he wiggled his toes, there is hope for recovery!) (Steve)
Saturday night Mom got a call from her brother in California- their niece's son was found passed away in his bed. (Debby)

My cousin Jeanie was unable to attend Kathie's party... her husband Ronnie had a "mini stroke" and is in the hospital.
My former DIL's Mom is in the hospital with a severe stomach inflammation. (Lynn)
A niece, and a former sister in law have both been in the hospital the last week with blood clots in their legs. (Susan) (Cami)
DIL Paula requests prayers for healing of kidney issues.
Kathie's cousin (Judy) is having rejection issues with a heart transplant.
So, my prayer request list is rather lengthy.
Kathie had a good turn out for her party. Thank you to all who came, and all who sent cards. We know there are very valid reasons many who would of liked to have attended, could not. For those of you who MEANT to send a card, it isn't too late... her birthday is another week off. You have time to mail a card!
My mom and I had a few chuckles. I am becoming more my Mom every day. First of all, we both brought a few party decorations. We did NOT duplicate one another. However, we did exactly co-ordinate colors... turquoise blue and shades of purple! I had bought balloons, she bought crepe paper. And they MATCHED. This was NOT discussed beforehand.
This morning, I got up and got dressed. Mom arrived at Dad and Kathie's a short while later. Mom and I were wearing coordinating peach colored shirts... matching sneakers (same brand and color), and we both had matching boo-boos at the same spot on our legs. Totally unplanned.
We had a great time getting to see Becky and Tommy, Becky's kids, and Connor and Alana. (Our hopes for seeing Gavin were dashed once again.)
Jaffa looked quite unhappy at being left behind for his visit with his "grandparents". But he was following my Dad around all afternoon, and his "uncle" keeps sneaking him treats. He is going to be spoiled rotten!
Another week, we will be Maineward bound!

Friday, July 17, 2015

So many plans, so much to do...

and then, suddenly, you can't do anything but cry.

My best friend for more than 32 years lost her youngest daughter in a car accident last night. I have known Katrina since (before!) she was born.
Grief and pain overwhelms me. I'm sure some degree of PTSD- My heart just hurts.
I know there is nothing I can say that will help Angie, nothing anyone can do but be there as she walks the hard road ahead.
Please be praying for Angie Brown and the rest of her children.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gardening to the Min! (Not Max)

This year's garden has been very minimal here. At my insistence, Mr C planted more tomatoes than he normally does. We seldom have enough tomatoes to can. He planted corn TWICE... and we have like, five stalks come up, total. One wee row (maybe 6 feet?) of pole beans, a wee row of peas. Then about a dozen bush bean/ runner bean plants where the corn didn't grow.
He planted two bell peppers, four jalapeno peppers, and two "cayenne" peppers. The one jalapeno planted in a container is still alive. The other three all fell over/ were uprooted by high winds and too much rain. One bell pepper plant lives. The "cayenne" pepper plants- they are producing EXTREMELY hot peppers that are some 10"-14" inches long. Very pretty peppers. Oh, and squash. Of the six or so zucchini that came up, we have had maybe six to 10 squash off of them. The half dozen yellow squash plants have been profoundly prolific. After purchasing and eating a spaghetti squash, I planted a couple of the seeds. One squash plant came up, and is fixing to bloom!

The blight hit the garden again this year, despite the precautions we took. The tomatoes are fading fast, but we are harvesting a decent crop as the plants deteriorate. Today I brought in 30 tomatoes... including a number of green ones that had fallen from the vines. In the pressure canner at the moment, I have five pints of green beans, and two pints + four half pints of "rotel" tomatoes. Once the fire is off beneath the canner, I need to make a fast trip to town for some supplies. The next batch of goodness will be some lovely green tomato relish. This stuff is perfection used as a sauce over chicken cream cheese enchiladas.
Yesterday, I made our first batch of fresh salsa. I used ONE of the "cayenne" peppers, and it about set my mouth on fire! I haven't 'canned' salsa in more than 10 years... it is so much better fresh! But maybe I shall give it a whirl Monday or so. (Too busy in the meantime!)
I think I have "put up" at least a dozen jars of green beans from our little plot. I have frozen what squash that comes faster than we can eat it- and I have been serving a LOT of squash! I used the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) recipe for cauliflower pizza crust, but used squash instead. It is a "keeper" recipe!
Meanwhile, I have been continuing to "forage" the roadsides, making several batches of blackberry jelly. I thawed and used some of the twins home made apple cider in an attempt at cider jelly. I think I got cider syrup instead, as I didn't follow the recipe. I feared it would be waaaaay too sweet if I used as much sugar as it was calling for. But apple cider syrup is great on apple pancakes!

For our very minimal garden this year, we have been very blessed by God's abundance!