Saturday, July 29, 2017

No Good Deed

Leaving William at his gym workout, Murphy and I began walking along a familiar path. At the gazebo, I was started to see a small woman curled up on the bench inside a gazebo surrounded by meager belongings. I wondered if she was hungry. Well, there, that's what I'll do with my time waiting for William: Murphy and I would walk to McD's and buy her some lunch.

Passing the car wash, a yippy dog surprised us with irritating barks. Murphy swung out on her leash but kept going. We'd done so well this morning in our "Wallflowers" class and in general, Murphy has been getting less fearful. (Note: work on small yappy dogs) At McDs, an older woman asks if she could take me home with her, confusing me. She then blessed me for the "work" I am doing with the dog. I don't bother to correct her (I am selfishly training this dog for my own son) because it would invite a long conversation. I accept my blessing. 

Placing my order, I go to get a drink. Murphy is used to establishments where I need to check out, and I made the mistake doing a sit-stay and letting go of the leash. At that very moment, two young girls emerged from the restroom located for best sanitation right near the drink station. "P-U-P-P-Y!!" they shrieked.

Murphy paused, her ears back. Then, she bolted. Without thinking, I stepped on her leash, a trick that usually works. The tile floor was slippery and my right leg slid and I went down on my left, hitting the base of my nose on the chair in front of me. I did successfully hang on to Murphy and I luckily was not holding the drink.

Tears streaming down, I wondered if blood was also shooting out of my nostrils. "I'm fine," I protested as I opened the door of the men's room. The women's is always on the right, isn't it? I noticed before breaking all the bathroom laws recently enacted to keep us all safe from people that need to pee.

Just then, my phone rang. I answered, promising to return the call in five minutes. My nose appeared unbroken, no blood, so I straightened up, marched out and got my chicken nuggets, not looking at anyone. We passed the yippy dog (teach your dog manners, for God's sake!) and got to the gazebo. It was a small man, not a woman at all! Murphy would not approach, so I asked if he was hungry and left the food on one of the benches. I got another blessing as Murphy pulled me away.

Sigh. Maybe next time we'll go sit at the library. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Treasures

Shells from the beach sit in boxes in my closets. I am the keeper of these small mementos from vacations past. Each year, more are added. Pinterest is mentioned occasionally (by others), but I'm saving crafty years for when they put me in "the home" along with crocheting kitchen wash cloths. I mark the box "SHELLS" and return it to the closet.

In cleaning out some closets, I found I had more than one stash of this precious commodity. It was time to cull some of the less desirable shells, some chipped, some completely broken. ("I found a piece of a sand dollar!") I gathered these shards and thought it such a shame, carried a thousand miles to home, to relegate them to the landfill. I decided to dump them in our creek. 


My husband objected, "You'll throw off some future archaeologist!" Perhaps ruin the local ecology? Pffah! The idea of puzzling some future human only adds to my the fun of it. Our creek has long been a treasure trove of finds. We also have hundreds of pounds of horn coral in my keeping. 

Horn coral is pointy rock in the middle
As our creek has widened and the banks eroded, many of these horn coral lay as proof that millions of years ago, our land was underwater and a sea was home to these creatures. We also often find broken glass, washed from upstream and the occasional virus. 


This bend in the creek which used to be the only "swimming hole" is no longer the only deep place in the creek now and itself, is much deeper. It is home to frogs, tadpoles, and some small fish - oh, and of course, those little skimming water-walker insects. It is flanked by the "elbow tree".


The creek was one of the strong attractions to moving here. There is so much to learn just laying there.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Imperialis

My breath caught when I first saw it from the other side. A Luna Moth! I thought from the size. I was confused when I saw all the brown. I'd not seen this type of giant moth before. I Googled on my phone "from the silk moth family". It is an Imperial Moth, or Eascles imperialis of the Saturniidae family. Her wingspan is 4.5 inches.

Immediately, I worried that perhaps our elementary school experiments had ruined the local ecology and released silk moths in our neighborhood. We used to mail order the eggs and grow them to caterpillars, feeding them the mulberry paste or gathering leaves from our own mulberry tree. I don't remember releasing the moths, in fact, I do remember the caterpillars forming a cocoon - we watched them spin it - but I don't remember any moth ever hatching.

I was relieved to learn that this particular moth is indigenous to our area. I am seeing so many moths these days because I've been leaving on the porch light at night as a deterrent due to some robberies in the area. My niece asked me to look for caterpillars or cocoons, as she wanted to hatch some moths, but in this particular subfamily of moths, when the caterpillars are ready to pupate, they burrow underground. I have been keeping an eye out for the dead moths (they live only a few days after mating) but they have all flown off.

It seems over the years, I've written a number of blogs on moths and butterflies. You can find them by using the search box on this blog.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Grandmother Tree

If ever I leave this place, I will miss the trees. Kentucky is filled with trees but these are our trees. They are like old friends. Many I remember when they were much smaller. Some, we have planted ourselves. Two were transplanted from our first house. Two average sized oaks stood over our pool for over a decade, giving us shade but also causing yellow algae. The pool is now gone, the twin oaks are majestic and shade our house. We have an evergreen grove, baby trees planted by my husband when we first moved. He was going to transplant them around the property, but somehow, they got too big before he thought to do it. It makes a nice place for deer to sleep.

The tree I treasure most you would not see if you came to my house. It is on the hill in the back overlooking the creek. I call it our "Grandmother Tree". I often think about the history of our property, what it might have been like before Europeans arrived, who might have lived here before and since. We are only 5 miles by bird to the Ohio River, so it is not hard to imagine that natives roamed my creek, though I've found no proof.

This Grandma Tree is still healthy. She needs a few limbs removed, but shows no trunk rot. Measuring 177" or almost 15 feet in circumference, it is in the white oak family. I used "Leaf Snap", an app for identifying tree leaves, to determine that it was a white oak. Then, using a calculation for oak trees, I figured that this tree is 282 years old. This means it sprouted in 1735 or so.

The first main excursion into Kentucky didn't occur until 1750 when Thomas Walker came through the Cumberland Gap. Some of my ancestors would later follow this route to settle here. Many of my ancestors were still in Europe. This tree would have been 15 years old already when the first Europeans started infiltrating this land. It would have been a 34 year old tree when Daniel Boone led his first expedition and a full grown adult 40 year old tree when he founded the first permanent European settlement. Dan Boone was all over this land and could easily have sat under our tree. He wouldn't recognize the spot: the creek is much wider (due to runoff from development in the neighborhood) and I'm sure many trees weren't as hardy as our Grandmother tree.

If only she could tell me what she has witnessed...

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Midnight with Paris

Last week, I woke, as I frequently do at night to look at my BG watch, but this time, sat bolt upright in bed. Paris was not at the end of the bed where I routinely put her before falling asleep myself. High up, she cannot get down by herself. I'd forgotten her! Well, she sleeps like the dead, both blind and deaf, and is old and small, so I often have to go looking for her curled under my desk or in Murphy's open crate (a much better spot than her own crate).

No! Did I forget to let her back in after going outside to potty? She sometimes will start wandering around the house if she loses her way. This is only in the last few days - she used to go out and come right back in, scratching at the front door. I panicked - we were having a new septic tank system installed. In the back yard, there was a hole, 8 feet deep, with the new, large tank in it.

I grabbed my largest flashlight and ran out in my nightgown. And there she was, at the bottom of the pit, circling the tank, around and around, looking for a way out of the vertical mud walls. Thank God, she was all right by appearances. But, how to get her out?

I woke my husband and had him hold the extension ladder, conveniently nearby due to my painting jobs. I climbed down and scooped her up. The hole was filled in the next day. Thank goodness I found her because the next day, I told the contractor the story and that he was lucky to not have found a skunk in the pit. He replied that he would have just filled in the pit on top of it. Paris' coloring - well, he might have thought her a skunk.

I can't figure out how she fell without any injury, but she was without a scratch. From that day forward, I take her out and wait until she does her business and carry her back inside. Other than she can't smell very well (she's brachycephalic), see or hear, and apparently can fall without injury, she'll likely live forever. She is otherwise in excellent health.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Death by Paris

Well before my children learn to drive, I throw out pearls of wisdom on safe driving. "If you see a deer cross the road, slow way down. There will likely be another deer with it." This week, I added another pearl of wisdom: "If you see poop on the floor from a toy breed dog, look for pee." 


Early yesterday morning, no coffee yet, I walked into our sun room where I store the dog food. I see that Paris, a 14 year old blind and deaf Japanese Chin, left me a "present". I fill my container with kibble and turn to go to the kitchen. In cartoonish fashion, my foot hit the pee puddle and I went down hard. Kibble flew up into the air. Bruised but not injured, my back was soaked in dog urine. 

I fed the dogs as fast as I could so that I could get out of those clothes and into the shower. Bright Spot: my husband did not slip in it, which might have ended poor Paris.

I'd like to say that Paris leaves such presents because she can't find the front door, but despite letting her out many, many times of the day, she seems to have a bladder the size of a thimble and when crated, has a screech that would rival fingernails on a chalkboard and a face only a mother could love.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Juice Box

I was shopping alone one day (a rarity) and the store was playing "Mama's Got a Squeezebox" by The Who. When it got to the part "in and out and in and out" I could not help think of the night before when my son was dropping low all night and I pictured a harried, tired mom in red light going in and out of a bedroom to treat T1D kid. I was laughing about that with my husband, that it could make a great video, and he suggested "Mama's got a juice box" as we often treat lows with juice boxes many kids will sip in their sleep.

 So, I rewrote the lyrics. Here they are. I think it would be a fun video but I don't know how you'd get around the copyright.
Juice Box
Mama's got a juice box
She’s always doing her best
And when the BG’s dropping low
She never gets no rest
'Cause she's testing all night
To get the BG just right
Mama's got a juice box
And she never sleeps at night
Well the kid’s sound asleep
When the Dex starts to beep
There's no escaping the ‘betes
Sucking down something sweet
'Cause she's testing all night
To get the BG just right
Mama's got a juice box
And she never sleeps at night
She goes in and out and in
And out and in and out and in and out
'Cause she's testing all night
To get the BG just right
Mama's got a juice box
And she never sleeps at night
She goes, please me, come on damn BG,
Come on and rise so I can sleep.
But child, I do love you.
Mama's got a juice box
And she never sleeps at night

If you are unfamiliar with the song, what rock have you been living under?, you can listen to it here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Apples and Oranges



Because it's normally maintenance. Because it normally is not an emergency. Insulin prices are messed up (I would use a stronger word but this is a family friendly blog). Because of that we should not save a life of a drug user? Because drug users are not worthy of being saved? Because the drug user did it to themselves? Let me set you straight: I know people saved by Narcan. People having a hard time that went on to get their world together and become loving, productive, and oh, what would the world do without them? So, don't use my son's diabetes to judge people.

Maybe this meme was meant to decry the injustice of the price of insulin. On the list of the ten most expensive liquids in the world, people living with diabetes have no choice but to buy it at any cost. A one hundred year old medication, the patent sold for $1 for the common good because the goal was saving lives, not profit. Somewhere out there, someone is going to burn in hell for funding their Maserati or mansion at the expense of children and adults with diabetes.  Worse yet, children in under developed countries die for lack of it. Yet, I've not heard any T1D parent or adult expecting to get insulin for absolutely free, just affordably. First responders usually have IV glucose and insulin for those emergencies. "They" do give drugs to save the lives of  those with Types 1 and 2 Diabetes.

So why shame the drug users? Let's find out who's getting rich off of our kids and post memes of them and their golden toilets.



Monday, May 08, 2017

Anticipation

Murphy makes this face when she is so very excited that something good is about to happen. I try so hard to capture it on camera, but she quivers with anticipation and doesn't sit still very long. In my hand was a prized dried roll of codfish skin, her favorite treat.

Today, Murphy and I went for a short walk while William worked out at the gym. The path I chose took us along gravel edged with brush and trees. I was pleased when a small rabbit darted across the path and Murphy drew to attention but did not give chase, taking my arm with her. (I've had the unfortunate images of Monty Python planted in my brain by my husband who thinks that's hilarious.)

A little farther and I hear a woman yelling, "LEAVE IT! LEAVE IT!" Oh, no! Another dog must becoming our way and you just never know if the dog is friendly, on a leash, and/or under control. Murphy is a little too eager yet to meet others of her kind. I listened. "COME HERE NOW!" she continued loudly. "I said COME!" She went on more but I couldn't make it out.

Thinking to myself that this dog is not going to come or leave it if she is yelling in such a mean and mad voice, and surely it must be off leash. I prepared myself...but then heard small voices and laughter. I realized the geography of where we were and that, yes, that is about where the daycare would be next to the public library...on the other side of that brush line. She was not talking to a dog, but to a child!

There are times when I hear an owner talking sweet to their dogs and think if only people could talk to friends and family with the same joy and enthusiasm, this world would be a better place. Perhaps though, we might not forget the phrase, "I wouldn't treat my dog like that" when choosing daycare.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Daily Finds

We are considering moving closer to the city. We endlessly mow grass, waste gas, that does nothing other than to look pretty. Dh drives down a highway that wasn't designed to handle the traffic and semis that now crowd it, resulting in daily wrecks, many fatal. He spends hours a week just driving. We are not near any of the parks we like for bike riding, or for that matter, not near much of anything to do or places to eat. And let's face it, I'm not getting any younger.

That said, it will be hard for me to give up this place where I can go outside at night and stand in my yard, looking up at the stars and late night plane flights and think. I will miss finding nature's surprises. For example, this bird nest is at eye level in the barn. It now has three eggs. My niece helped me determine it is a wren. I see the mom at night when I put the horses up.


Last night, something banged on my bathroom window. A Luna Moth!! I, of course, opened the window to get a closer look and he (I think, larger antennae) came in! I have raised one before so I was not that startled. They are the size of a small bird. I did get it back outside. 

video

Maybe I'll discover similar things in the park that we hope to live near, but I fear it won't be the same.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Just Saying

William sent me a text from his bedroom (because that's communication in modern parent-child relationships) asking me about "that horrid smell"  and several animations of people offended by or dying of a bad smell. I was cooking, but not just any old thing. I was making dog treats. Liver to be exact.

He thundered down the stairs, gagging. Really, it wasn't that bad. "It smells like a mixture between burnt brownies and meatloaf," he whined. Well, brownies are good. Meatloaf is good. I don't like liver, but this was not an offensive smell to me.

The dogs go through a lot of treats to train and I don't want fatty treats with sugar added. Some treats have loads of chemical preservatives and ingredients or cost more than steak per pound. Chicken liver is very cheap. In case you want to offend your own children, here is how I make them.

Pre-soak some of your dogs kibble in water until all the water is absorbed and the kibble is soft. Using a food processor, blend two cartons of chicken livers until liquid. Add in the kibble to give it more body. I also added in some gluten-free flour to make it nice and pasty. I added a small amount of flax seeds. I spread this goo over silicone baking sheets on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 for half an hour. This cooks the mixture but doesn't completely dry it out so after cooling it, I cut it into squares and dry them on a cheap Rival dehydrator. Then, dogs will love you forever for the crispy treats that can be broken into small pieces. The treats, once dry, have little to no smell and it makes a lot of treats. Even the cats like them. In fact, Luna, William's cat, tore open the plastic bag on the counter to get to them.

There was the one time that I decided to clean by boiling the opossum skull I found out by the road for our natural history collection. Now, that, that was a smell I don't even intend to repeat. (Next time, clean bones by burying them for a while in the backyard.)

I'll take the smell of baking liver treats any day over a teenager's room. Just saying.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Throw Back Thursday

One day, ten years ago, my children and I helped a mama miniature horse birth her baby. She still lives here with her brother miniature horse born the year before. The mama and daddy returned to their original owner and were later sold. You can read about it here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't Blink

"I am going to be homeschooling my kindergartner. What curriculum should I use?"

If only I had one day to have my little ones little again. Just one day. Blink and they are graduated from high school. Blink again and they finished college and are starting careers, getting married, moving away. Looking back, I have no regrets because I know we made memories. We played in the dirt. We were present in our days.

What curriculum? My advice is no curriculum. Go to the library and get out all the books you can carry and that the library will let you. In our county at the time, that was 99 books per person in the household, so I brought crates on wheels and filled them. It was like bringing my kids to the candy store and telling them everything was free. We read and read and read. I read aloud so much my throat would hurt and I would have to quit.

Go to the zoo. Go to the woods. Play in a creek. Dig a hole as deep as you can. Collect and identify leaves. Turn over rocks. Look at bugs under a good stereoscope (dissection) microscope. Go out into the world on field trips. Go to concerts and theater. Have a picnic under a tree. Paint. Play the piano. Blow on pieces of grass and dandelions. Raise chickens and hatch eggs. Find all the wildflowers you can. Use lots of paper and markers and paint. Make cookies and measure things. Count marbles and pennies. Play classical music all day as background. Sing. Dance. Go out in the rain. Get dirty. Get really dirty. Make forts out of blankets. Have lots of play time. Make ice cream. Laugh. Do messy science experiments like dropping eggs out of windows. Roll balls down an incline. Make a pyramid out of sugar cubes. Grow a garden. Go to a bird blind or put out bird feeders. Lay in the fresh spring grass. And above all, watch the joy of learning in your babies eyes.

I know you are anxious to get started, to not let them get behind, to make sure they keep up with their peers, but I'm telling you, your time with them will be very, very short or so it will seem when you are old like me. There is no curriculum that can instill in them the joy of learning like exploring the world with you. You will have years to nag them about their homework but the time will come, if you don't make those memories now and cherish every minute when you'll be wishing you had just one more day....

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."

In typical Kentucky style, it is cold again after unseasonably warm weather but it is sunny. Driving home from the gym, I relished the sunbeams coming in through the car window and heating my black leather GAP jacket I got for $12 at the resale store.

"Oh," I remarked to William, "this feels so good I ought to wear a suit of only black leather."

"That," he responded, "makes me cringe. I mean, (sputter sputter sputter), not cringe because of you in black leather.....well, yeah, maybe, but....(sputter), I mean it would be hot and sweaty! (sputter) Just forget I said anything."

Not known for my fashion sense, my kids do have opinions and always warned me that if EVER I wore anything animal print, they would swear they didn't know me. My careless fashion sense would have made Phyllis Diller proud. And if you don't know who she is, you should.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tasty!

I was careful to warn the guys, "Don't eat what is is the dehydrator." Daughter #2 has not forgotten the day she came into the kitchen, reached out and popped what she thought was a small square of brownie into her mouth. She claims I watched her do this without stopping her, though perhaps my lack of memory on this detail is in my own self-defense. That batch of dog treats had been made with calf liver so it was darker. It is not the first time that I've cooked for the dogs and it was mistaken for people food.

This batch looks like blonde brownies as I used chicken livers pulverized with dog kibble and a few eggs. First baking the mixture for thirty minutes in the oven to brownie consistency, I then put the squares on a dehydrator to completely dry. I broke them into small bits and refrigerated in plastic bags in case any moisture remains. The dogs are wild for this treat. People, not so much. It did, in my opinion, smell pretty good baking and not unlike a brownie. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

1984

A lifetime ago, I remember my grandmother telling me that on the 700 Club, it was reported that the government was watching us through our televisions. Puzzled, I asked her how they could do that? (Remember this was in the 1980s, pre-Internet.) She pointed to a round circle on the front of her television. This was the light sensor that automatically adjusted the brightness of the screen. I assured her that it was not a camera. Silly me.  Little did I know that she was right!

If the government is watching through my microwave, I can only say that the person assigned to our household must have the most boring job on the planet. Surely, they have better things to do? Now, I need to go work on my aluminum foil hat.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Different Times

Many thanks to my mom who always
was generous with my book order
Memories came flooding back as I pulled to a stop at a traffic light. The Scholastic Book Truck was in the parking lot across the street! My son, always homeschooled, puzzled over my exclamation. What are Scholastic Books?? Well, when I was growing up, one of my happiest moments was when my Scholastic Book order arrived. Four or five brand new paperback chapter books with that new book smell! I couldn't wait to get home and devour them. (Yes, I was a nerd.) I read many books from the library, so I can't really tell you why the order appealed so much to me.

The flimsy paper order form would come weeks ahead. We lived in a time when Amazon didn't bring things the next day. You had to think hard on what you wanted, wait a good amount of time for it, and the anticipation was part of the joy when it finally arrived.  Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my Amazon Prime, but I think in exchange for the convenience, we've lost a little of the magic.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Bosch Posh Revisited

Husband always says if you have a problem, someone, somewhere, has already had that same problem and put it on YouTube. He is right. I found a "work around" on my dishwasher and can run it now, though it is not fixed. It involves starting it, waiting for two particular pauses, turning it off, turning it back on, all while saying the "Hail Mary". It worked.

The true fix is replacing the turbidity sensor, which is like taking the engine out of a foreign car to change the oil filter: it isn't easy. I can do it, though, and have ordered the part. William gagged as I explained that turbidity meant it was sensing soil or gunk in the dishwasher. The sensor wasn't necessarily sensing turbid water; the sensor isn't working. 

Still, I wouldn't be surprised. For many years, I have instructed that great chunks of food and slathered sauces must be scraped or rinsed before putting in the dishwasher. Not washed, but at least scraped. And here we are: turbid. 

My dad instilled in me the belief that most anything could be fixed and that I was capable myself of fixing it. I remember he finally had to replace our dryer, not because it wouldn't run, but because we'd worn all the porcelain off the tub and it had begun to rust, getting on the clothing. This dishwasher is almost 8 years old, so we still have a few good years together.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Twilight Zone

By way of group email, my family chatted how weird it was that middle daughter spoke her desire of one day owning a dishwasher and as soon as she left to go home, mine didn't work. My husband has watched too many sci-fi movies and said, "I think this is the part where the machines start to think independently before they rise up and kill us all.  She has inadvertently stepped into a strand of unfinished consciousness." 

In our family, we have long marveled at these coincidences, how I'd picked up the phone to dial my mom and she was on the other end without it having rung because she was calling me. This has happened with my daughters as well, sometimes getting a call from them just as I was typing a text.


Middle daughter sent me a SnapChat of the gluten free brownies she had made. I'd just pulled the first batch I'd ever made out of the oven. It's just spooky. We are all more connected than just by blood. 




Monday, February 27, 2017

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's raining. In the physical sense, yes, very wet outside but also in the metaphorical sense. "When it rains, it pours." My visiting daughter last night said she'd know she "made it" when someday she has a washer/dryer and dishwasher in her residence. Shortly after she left for her place, the dishwasher quit working right after a big meal. The Keurig coffee pot also refused to put out. I had a nice low-carb pie for dessert that begged for a cup of hot, black coffee. Nope.

The Keurig is now fixed with a paper-clip. Grounds were caught up inside the dispensing mechanism. I used vinegar to also descale it. Thank goodness for Google. I am thinking of buying myself a percolator for Mother's Day. I remember the comforting sound and smell from childhood. This Keurig is old and its days are numbered. And though it makes better coffee than a drip, I feel a bit guilty about all those plastic k-cups.

According to YouTube, the dishwasher either has a plugged water inlet valve or plugged hose filter. I'll have to look at those later today. But - priorities. William's iPhone is on the blink and needs to be replaced. Used primarily as a medical device, we get to spend the afternoon at the AT&T store. At least it's raining and I won't miss a nice afternoon outside.

Oh, and I just remembered, the washer is leaking. If you don't get the clothes out immediately, they are sodden wet. Leaking valve. I may leave this though as it encourages me to not leave the wet clothes in there all day until they smell like a dishrag.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Throw Back Sunday

Throw-back Thursday is a thing on the blogosphere, but I'm going to hijack it to Throw Back Sunday, because Sunday is a day of rest. Each week, I'll repost a blog that I found my self re-visiting this week. Here's this weeks selection:  Letting Go

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Rural Sprawl


The episode of "Lost", my guilty indulgence before bed, was not complete without Veggie Straws and refreshment. Walking back to the couch, my foot somehow caught the metal curved foot of Murphy's "place" (raised bed that she likes very much) and I sprawled face first, catching my shoulder on the metal pole edge. Veggie Straws went everywhere. I lay there, contemplating whether they were still good to eat. My drink, luckily, was in a capped plastic bottle. I yelled at the dogs to get back - the Veggie Straws should still be good. (At least, they weren't Cheetos.)

I realized my right shoulder hurt, but only if I move it. Previously having torn a tendon or muscle, it will heal itself as it has several times. Lifting moderate weights helps a lot. But falling? Really? I guess this is what my future old self has in store. I have always had great balance, and losing it is unfamiliar. Guess I need to step up my exercising routine. (Or at least have one.)


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Losing My Senses

Trying to pick up un poco de Español myself, my good Spanish teacher friend graciously allows me to sit in the back of William's class. It is also a perfect opportunity to socialize William Murphy. At the beginning of the class, she was a bit loco, whined a particular whine that I've learned to not ignore. After potty, I decided to walk the hallway just a bit to settle her back down.

The church building in which we have classes had a leak, making the carpet below wet. A carpet fan was running, and Murphy shied away from it. Unfamiliarity was my diagnosis, so I told her to sit and I crouched down, assuring her that the the fan was harmless and would not hurt her. It looked somewhat like this fan:
(Carpet fan, maybe not same brand)
That's when the fan began to short circuit, lighting up inside with electrical sparks and making that scary buzzing sound like an episode of "Stranger Things". Now, I could smell the distinct odor of something electrical burning. Likely, Murphy could already smell it. Probably she thinks I'm not too bright.

She spent the rest of the class absorbing mucho Español.


It seems my ability to listen to what animals are clearly saying has not improved over the years. Probably more than a decade ago, I was taking a short ride on my horse, JoJo. She had a tendency to be a little nervous (or was picking up on my less than relaxed state). We were passing by a pond which harbored Canadian geese. She stepped sideways. Reaching down to pat her neck, I reassured her that the geese would not harm her. Almost immediately, one took wing and dive-bombed us, passing only inches over my head. Somehow, I stayed on. You think I'd learn to listen to animals by now.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

For the Want of a Toilet

In my late twenties, I was the foreman of a synthetic detergent manufacturing plant, the first female to work in the building much less supervise. This presented a number of challenges, the least of which was that there was but one single, utterly filthy (in a truck stop bathroom sort of way) toilet with no doors just past a very small break room where sat those crusty men that I supervised. 

Now, I say the "least of which" because of course I was not enfolded with welcoming arms into this male kingdom. There was a good reason to believe the operations were sabotaged on more than one occasion on my shift. Over time, somehow, I gained a measure of respect and acceptance because of my work and willingness to get dirty, and because of the foul chemicals, "breathe through my asshole" as one of the other foremen would say.

I have many stories from these days of the challenges of being a woman engineer in a man's world. But while watching Hidden Figures this past weekend, Catherine had to run half a mile to the coloreds only bathroom which reminded me of my young self. In the middle of the night, on third shift, I would time "running the traps" (translation: checking the steam siphons on all of the chemical tank dikes) with finding a bathroom in another building that actually had a door, no Playboy magazines, and no men just around the corner listening. If the plant was experiencing a problem such that I could not leave but nature was calling, I had to kick all the men out of the tiny break room, and gagging, use that excuse for a bathroom.

The women in Hidden Figures faced even more discrimination because of their skin. What a fantastic movie! We were gifted with sitting on the edge of a large group of black women who had all come as a group after church. I loved hearing their laughter and their comments, but the movie resonated with the entire (full) audience based on the applause at the end. The movie documented the shameful way we humans sometimes treat each other, and for no reason other than ignorance and power. 

This movies should be required viewing of all, but especially children and teens. It contains history, science, math, diversity training, and humanity - which is something that seems to be lacking in the news these days. The one down side is that I left feeling that I've not accomplished so much. I've not put a man on the moon or become somehow important. I have, however, put three good people on this earth, and I hope their accomplishments will mitigate the lack of my own.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Keep It 100

Slang words change so quickly these days that I often have to consult the urban dictionary to make sure I don't make a major gaffe. While playing Words With Friends with my daughter online, I was looking up word that begin with "qu" to use up some of my unfortunate letter tiles. There are words I've never heard in everyday conversation but evidently, some people, somewhere, use these words. As I envisioned using such a word and my daughter looking it up for the meaning, I had nose milk. I'd better not use those words.

With the rapidity of change of technology and culture, I'm not sure how to keep up. My parents only had to know "groovy" and "dig it", but I have a whole urban dictionary of words. Today, for example, my son and I were shopping for a "dirty Santa" ugly sock gift exchange. I found this pair:


Although I've seen this phrase about webpages, maybe Facebook, I had no idea what it means. So, I looked it up. (Thank goodness for Google.) It means "to keep yourself real and true, to be honest and stick to the way you are, no matter what any one else thinks." -Urban Dictionary

For someone dealing daily with Type 1 Diabetes, this was a treasured find. Testing your blood glucose and getting a reading of 100 mg/dL is called a "unicorn" or getting the perfect number. For us, it isn't really - we prefer numbers in the 90s or 80s. (My favorite number is 87. I don't know why.) But since diagnosis, if William tested 100 exactly, I gave him a dollar. It was and is just a silly game, trying to exact a little surprise and fun from gouging yourself with a needle, squeezing for blood and waiting for a darn number.

It goes a little deeper for me (and perhaps I've had too much coffee and it is late,waiting to make sure his BG stabilizes before I nod off) that when he is in range - or 100 - he is his true self. When he is out of range, he is not. That is why I work so hard to normalize his blood glucose, so that he might live the life he was meant to live. 

Now, enough serious stuff. I know you are just sitting there wondering about the "qu" words anyway.

Note: The amaryllis plant has begun to flower, but it opens much more slowly than I thought it would after the stem grew so quickly.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Chickened Out

I'm done with chickens. It was a great phase of my life and I felt very Pinterest-y.  About a year ago, I was overheard by a friend who has chickens, "Do you have eggs laid in your barn?"  Why yes, I do. An elderly man in our neighborhood raises chickens as a hobby and for $4, he lays two dozen in my tack room once a week.  I don't have to do a thing.  No cleaning out coops, no feeding, no freezing water in the winter.  No expensive feed!  Wow, has the price risen on corn!  No finding that your favorite hen was murdered.  After several "Chicken Lickin's" got picked off, we decided the name was cursed and no longer named them that.

Well, time has passed and sadly, my chicken man retired. I now have the inconvenience of having to actually go to a store to buy eggs. We go through two to three dozen a week (they are low carb). I do miss the chickens, but not the work. And now, I have my new puppy project to keep me busy, although chickens don't have to be potty trained. There is that.

If you search this blog on the word "chicken", you will have enough posts to read for a week or two.

Friday, January 06, 2017

"Feed Me"


This amaryllis is growing so quickly that it needs a live webcam so people can check its progress. It grew a half inch last night. This morning, finally, the flower has begun to open. I'm hoping it doesn't require human blood to survive.

From "Little Shop of Horrors"





Notes; Today is Epiphany. Everything turns to drab as I remove the Christmas tree and lights. 





Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Little Jelly on Your Toast?

Today's search for food on my property turned up brown jelly fungus. I guess if the apocalypse occurs, I'm going to starve to death. There is no way.


Wikipedia says that although not poisonous (usually), the taste is similar to soil. Yum! The texture isn't all that appealing either. So many interesting things to find in the yard.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Green Thumbs

Once gardening was a treasured past time for me. When I found out that our garden site was over our previous house owner's old septic system, it kind of spoiled it for me. That, and having so many weeds my husband would mow over what in the spring was an optimistic planting of "this year, I'll do better". 

Inside the house, I like growing plants, but I prefer the growing to be a bit more scientific. There is the plant from my father-in-law's funeral that receives only leftover coffee for watering. It is doing quite well! I have my father's orchid that is still blooming, but maybe not as nice as when dad grew it - he had better light.

Around this time of year, amaryllis are sold and remind me of my dad (he liked them), so I bought a bulb. I'm a bit shocked at the rapid growth and double impending bloom. This thing is like the plant from the Little Shop of Horrors movie. It is currently over 24 inches tall and a bit suggestive.

Amaryllis

Avocados are one of my favorite foods, so I was encouraged by an article about growing your own. I'd tried many Haas avocado pits without success, so I tried a Hall avocado from Florida. Using a bulb vase, it quickly grew roots and eventually sprouted. They are hearty to 20 degrees F, I read, so it can go outside in the summer on the porch. (I doubt it would survive a freeze.)

Avocado
And finally, my little oak tree. I got it from our yard this past spring with it's acorn still attached. It seems to not have noticed that autumn has come and gone this year.

Oak tree
I don't know anything about bonsai trees and really don't need one more thing to learn right now. I take good care of it, but wonder about the ethics of confining it so now that the news is full of how trees communicate and even take care of stumps of trees cut down. And...they do this using fungus, which connects back to the mushrooms in my yard. Huh, there I go learning again.



Sunday, January 01, 2017

Doing Mushrooms

On a small walk back by the creek, I found some mushrooms.  Now, I've always been a little leery about eating mushrooms from the yard, knowing that a mistake could be fatal. Yet, these are well documented:

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Oyster Mushroom
I'm wondering if I'm daring enough to make this tea which promises an immunity boost?

At dinner, I was telling my family of my find.

Daughter: It's well documented that people DIE of eating backyard mushrooms.
Husband: Are those the kind that have you seeing dead relatives?

I guess I'll have to experiment on my own. 

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