Friday, December 6, 2013

Free Concerts...

...and a Flash Orchestra!!  (Updated)

Via The Anchoress.

Merry Christmas!!

Update:  How they did it, from The Blaze

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Past Catching Up!!

Last week, I got a 'ping' on LinkedIn from the only summer intern I ever had working for me.  The last time I ever heard from her was early in 1991, shortly after contestant #3 and I were married.  She called just as the wife and I walked in the door from work.  Here's what I told my her friend in an e-mail:
"That last phone call you made one Friday evening damned near put a crashing halt to marriage #3.  We both worked (in)  Huntington Beach, me on Space Station, she on CAD Support & Training.  After you and I had been chatting for a while, I realized that her usual pattern of going back to the bedroom to change, and then coming out to start dinner hadn't obtained.  After we hung up. I went back to see what was what.  The first words out of her mouth were something to the effect of "Is this how it;s going to be... you talking on the phone to your girlfriend while I (do whatever she said she was doing)?"
We'd been married only a few months.  I'd known her for about six or seven years.  So I thought.
The phrase "I'm screwed!" came to mind, as I recall.  That particular marriage lasted about five years.  It probably would only have been three, but I was reprieved to Detroit for two of those five."

I rambled on for a bit longer. closing out the e-mail with a line about " here in a small town that has no Starbucks."

And thus, the new tag for this blog was born.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Small Town Life... two pictures.

Once again, we are under the ACLU's radar:

This one almost has me committed to getting up and attending the service tomorrow:

Barney?  Godzilla?  Stuffed animal representations?  Motor oil?

Those of us who remember life before color TV, stereo FM radio, and jet airliners??

Interesting ministry...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Minion

I carved a pumpkin last night, for the first time i I don't remember how many years.  (I suspect my daughter, at a young age, was involved, but I have no recollection.)

Both my daughter and I think Gru's minions are absolutely great, and can't wait for Minions (the minion movie) to be released!  Soooo...


...and lit!
I have pumpkin guts that will become pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds).  And the pumpkin itself will be cut up and steamed, to make the base for a pumpkin pie or two.

I handed out candy, too.  Haven't done that since Maryland.    I stood out on the front porch, telling folks to "Come on up!", since my minion by itself didn't seem to be an encouragement to come up the steps to the door.  More decoration next time, I guess.

Mostly little ones, with a few olders.  Don't think I saw anyone over 12, if that.  All with parents, all polite.  Some of the littlest blanked on "Trick or Treat", and when I asked them what to say, the answer was usually "Thank you" instead.  And yes, they got their treat!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Life Is Different Back Here

I found this surprise in yesterday's mail.  The staff at the emergency vet where I took Koda made it for me.  It came with a nice sympathy card.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dakota Has Passed On

Koda (as he was affectionately known), went into convulsions at about 2:30 this afternoon.  I took him to the 24-hour emergency vet, after trying a few first aid things at home.  They pumped him full of valium, which reduced the convulsions to mild tremors.

The vet was straight up with the prognosis - based on what the expensive tests that I can't afford might tell us, she was not optimistic that he could go home and be OK.  So, I made the decision to let him go.

He passed peacefully.  The med they use anesthetised him immediately, and continued on to an overdose.  He slipped away in less than a minute.

Pax vobiscum, Koda.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dakota (Updated)

Tuesday, Dakota took a pretty good tumble down a full flight of stairs, spine first.  Nothing was broken, but I noticed yesterday that he seemed to have lost balance and strength on his left side.
Last night, he went into full-body convulsions for a minute or so.
We are off to the vet at 3:30.  Koda is resting on the air mattress down here on the first floor.
I don't like how this day is shaping up.

Update:  Back from the vet. We are treating "symptomatically", as the diagnostics for Koda would cost more than mine!  He now has industrial-strength steroids (Dexamethasone) to take over the next two weeks.  If his symptoms are caused by swelling resulting from the fall, this should clear them up. 

I'm cautiously optimistic, which is a big improvement.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Friday Garden, Sunday Edition

I spent some quality time in the back this afternoon - got as much of the weeds knocked down as two weed eater batteries would let me.  There are still a few things growing and producing, plus the surprise that was waiting for me when I got home last month, hidden in the weeds!

I got the kitchen bed pretty well cut back.  There are a couple of non-weeds left, too:

 One Thai Hot Pepper plant, with baby peppers.

An almost embarrassing abundance of Sweet Basil!

A seriously mangy Oregano plant.

And some Sage.  Not much, but some!

The new 'deep' bed, with tomatoes and peppers living together (not next year!)

One of the "wild" tomato plants.  Blossoms, but no fruit, yet.

Potted Pepper Land... just about finished, I suspect.

More tomatoes and peppers, and the Quince stick.  Not  too sure about it - about 50% of its foliage has been brown for most of the summer...

Same bed, different angle.

Remains of the onion and garlic - a few scraggly onions, and a small bunch of Thai Hots, with green peppers.

Finally, the potted Rosemary, and the surprise!  Two years ago, the Doc planted Dill Weed.  We were surprised when none sprouted last year.  It is, apparently, called a weed for a reason, and we were expecting to to take over the kitchen bed.  But no.

I spotted this one about a month ago, as I was beginning to get the garden cleaned up.  It doesn't seem to leave a scent on the hand like Rosemary and Basil do, but when I dug it up and was sorting out its root, I definitely smelled Dill.  I thought I'd pot it to see if it will survive until next Spring.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Down The Drain,...


Two years ago, when I tarped the main roof, I used some bricks to hold the tarp down whilst I was fastening it down with stringers and nails.  When I was done, I tossed the bricks over the side to the walkway.  The drainpipe for rain runoff runs alongside the walkway, and is not completely buried.  Mind you, I'm three(!) stories up, and just tossing randomly.  Needless to say, one of the bricks shattered the exposed pipe.

In the intervening two years, I have seen chipmunks darting down the hole, and lots of runoff going down the front steps.  So, last week, I go the parts I thought I needed - two coupling joints to glue in a new section of pipe, that I was going to cut from a longer section I had stashed on the side porch.  All was good, until I pulled out the pipe I was going to use.  It is heavier duty than the downspout pipe, so it doesn't fit the couplings.
The system is the drain for the second and third story roofs.  It runs down the side of the house, under the porch, then out thru an exit on the front retaining wall:

As I was sawing the street side of the pipe, it seemed to be WAY to wiggly.  To my mild surprise, I was able to pull a section out from under the porch.  Using it, I was able to cut a section off, and couple it to the upstream end:

The only way to get at the rest of the system is, of course, to disassemble some or all of the front porch.  WAY more fun than I want, need, or can physically handle right now.

So, I improvised:

And, after yesterday morning's rain (which I mostly slept through), it looked like it worked.  Next time it rains, I'm going to go look and make sure it's actually draining, and also not flowing under the steps.

Monday, September 16, 2013

International Buy A Nun... (Updated x4) (and bumped!!)

...A Book Day!

Update IV:

Time's running out!  Get out there and buy that nun a book, dang it!!

 Update III:

Got this from the Sister to whom I'd written:
Thank you so much, Lee. I can identify some Sisters who will be thrilled to receive the books.
Sister Kathryn
Update II:

My book club has notified me that two of the books I've requested have been mailed.  No word back from the convent, tho...


 Didn't hear back today, and since the day is next Tuesday, I went ahead and ordered books that I've enjoyed and though the good nuns might also.  Here's my e-mail:
Hello, Sister,
As the 'official' day is next Tuesday, I went ahead and picked out four book to be sent to directly you for distribution.  They will probably be arriving over the next week or two, which is a function of how the swap club works.  Each book will be coming from a different member, so arrival is a function of how soon each member gets to it, and how far it has to travel.
I wound up ordering three books that are favorites of mine, and one similar but different from a series I have read from.
They are:
A Letter of Mary, by Laurie R. King
The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl
The Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu, translated by John C. H. Wu
The Best American Short Stories 1997, ed. by Kenison(?)
I hope you all will enjoy them!

I wondered what books to get, and who to give them to.  I suddenly realized/decided that I wanted to send them to the nuns (or the order, anyway) who taught me in grade school.  I've managed to track down the "Mother Ship" convent in California, and sent an e-mail off asking what books might be appreciated.

So, if you know (or knew) a nun, buy her a book!

(This seems to be a word of mouth/blog thing, so pass it on!)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday Garden...

...Saturday version.

This is petty much what the whole back yard looked like, only times elebenty, when I got home from the hospital six weeks ago.  And I was in no shape to do a damned thing about it.  This, by the way, is the kitchen patch.  You can see some sage amongst the wild growth.

The good news is, one of the sweet basil plants had a good enough hold to be taller than the weeds.  I harvested some once before I left, so there's more to dry and use!  (I put some fresh leaves in a Subway Meatball Marinara sandwich - yum!!)

Most of the tomatoes looked somewhat like this:

That said, I got about 25-ish lbs, and put up about 12 pints of salsa roja for tamales and enchiladas.  Here's what two of the Early Girls look like:

I also have two "wild" tomato plants.  This one is an Early Girl, based on the shape of the fruit:

No fruit on this one, yet, so it's a mystery:

Not terribly successful with the melons.  Got these, and two more that are in the fridge.  I figured out that planting melons and tomatoes together is a Bad Idea - too much competition for water, so the tomato plants dried up and the melons didn't do much.  Next year, separate beds!  (Tomatoes and peppers together seemed OK, though.)

Tomatoes and peppers:

 Garlic and onion - about zero garlic, and the onions are kind of stunted.  I'm thinking that maybe I didn't plant them deep enough.  Garlic was fine when I got home, then poof! - nada.

I planted Thai Hot Pepper seeds, which seem to be doing OK (the bush in the upper-right).

Another angle on the onions and peppers.

The Rosemary was getting choked out by the weeds, so I potter her.  This will let me take her inside for the winter.  One of the nursery people I spoke with told me that we are right on the edge of the zone where Rosemary can winter successfully.

Blackberry is OK, but fruitless.

 I'm still getting some tomatoes and peppers, so I may do a little more canning.  Spent a goodly part of the day cleaning the yard up - pulled out the watermelon plants - roots were a bit entwined with the tomato, hence my conclusion about the water.  Trimmed out as much of the dead tomato vines as I could, so the plants don't look so ragged.  I'm pleased with the results, and pleased with what I learned about tomatoes and melons.  All in all, a good, productive day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

...about that garden!

Two weeks in hospital/in-patient rehab is NOT conducive to a neat, tidy garden.  We had enough rain to keep everything from drying up and blowing away, so that was good news.  The bad new was the rain also watered the weeds.  I was surprised we didn't get another notice from the city.  (They check to make sure weeds aren't over 6 in tall - the ultimate HOA!)  And I was in no shape to really do much of anything.

I did pick about 20-ish pounds of tomatoes, which got turned into frozen puree and 15 pint of red sauce.  The Bell peppers and serrano peppers went into the first 3-jar batch.  Simmered some chicken in it - not bad!  The rest is my chili recipe, without meat - I'm thinking tamales or enchiladas.

Anyway, it's winding down - a few more tomatoes and peppers here and there, a couple of watermelon, but not enough to get excited about.

Next year, I'm thinking fewer tomatoes,  more spices.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Check Up III

Back to see the surgeon today.  I was told I can now lift 20 lbs (I kept a straight face).  The best news is that I can take real showers, even swim if I wish.  And I can take one of my anti-inflammatory drug per day.  Took one when I got home, walked the dogs, and could feel a difference by the time we got back.  Right now, my hands don't hurt for the first time since the surgery!!

I signed up for another four weeks of physical therapy.  It's helping tremendously, and yet I feel that I need more than another week and a half.  Yesterday, Jeff brought out a balance board, at which I just pointed and laughed.  I have no real sense of balance, which is why I body surfed instead of using a board.  My left foot has roll, pitch and yaw, although not quite as much as my right.  Just got to get the left calf stretched out a bit more.  All in all, Dr. S. is happy - he told me it sometimes takes patients two years to recover to the point I'm at.

I am a happy camper!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Adventures in Physical Therapy

It's been about 2 1/2 weeks since I was discharged from the rehab hospital.  I made an appointment at the local outpatient clinic of the same company.  Got there Tuesday AM for my intake evaluation, only to find that they don't participate in the county medical program, thus ending the interview rather quickly.

I went back to the same company as the hospital where I had the surgery, knowing they did take the county's program.  They got me in this morning (at 7:15 - ugh), and I did the paperwork, was evaluated, and given some exercises to do there, and at home over the weekend.  I also have appointments for several weeks out.

The therapist said that my hip flexibility was better than most people my age ( quite a bit, based on what he showed me).  I can only attribute that to Sue at Mindful Movements out in H. B., who taught me stretch and Pilates for many years.  The thing I learned from her that will serve me the most is how to isolate and use any given muscle group.  It makes the exercises I have to do a lot more effective, since the idea is, for example, to work on my lower back, and not my glutes at the same time.  With this particular exercise, it's common for people to use the glutes, and it takes practice and attention to keep them relaxed while working the lower back muscles.

The thing I miss most is the voltaren - the anti-inflammatory that I take for the arthritis in my hands.  The tramadol and valium just don't put a dent in the ache.  Dr is afraid of infection (?), which is why he is holding me off them.  See him again in a couple more weeks, so maybe that will change.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Second Post-Op Visit

Got the last of the staples out today.  Healing well.  Got a better idea of what was done and where the cyst was in all of the mess.  The soft tissue is being held together with dissolvable sutures, which sort of go away as the soft tissue heals.

I meet with the out-patient Physical Therapy people Tuesday, for (yet) another evaluation.  I expect that the work there will be more challenging that the work at the in-patient clinic.

The whole mess should be "optimal" by Christmas.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

We Can Repair Him...

...we have the technology!

Had my consult with the neurosurgeon yesterday.  He did a bit of poking and pushing on his own, and confirmed what I was pretty sure of - surgery is indicated.  Both L1 - L2 and L4 - L5 are pretty well munged, and L2  -L3 is also degraded.  (My numbering may be off a bit - it's the whole lumbar part of the spine.)  I could get away with letting the L2 -L3 go, but on the other hand, we both agreed that going back in later was something neither of us wanted.  So the entire lumbar section of my spine will be "decompressed".  Basically, that means re-opening the foramen (the hole) that the nerves pass thru, to alleviate the pressure, and thus the pain and weakness.  (I did a quick look on which goes into some detail and apparently has videos.  I only take umbrage at the comment "A condition that primarily afflicts elderly patients, spinal stenosis is caused by degenerative changes that result in enlargement of the facet joints."  Elderly my tuchus!)

He expects the procedure to last about 2 1/2 hours.  He's not sure if there's any interesting disk degeneration, but will tend to that if need be.  He doesn't want to do a fusion at this point.  Based on my recovery, I'll be in the hospital one to five days.  My personal goal is one day only.
I go in on the 16th of this month.

Prayer in any denomination is appreciated.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Off To See The Wizard

Heading back out to Gettysburg tomorrow, this time to see a neurosurgeon.  Hopefully, it will all become clear!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Testing, 1, 2, 3... Updated

Update  Got a call Friday evening from Dr. Lin's office.  He wants me to consult with a neurosurgeon, based on the MRI findings.

Oh, goody.

I have an MRI scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) evening, and some sort of nerve testing early Friday afternoon.  The follow-up visit with Dr. Lin is scheduled for July 11.  I was told that if he thought something was urgent, he would contact me to get in earlier.

I'm relatively mobile, but lately it's been more painful to get around.  So I haven't been, much, except I've been expending my energies and mobility on the garden.

More later...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Garden

Here we go again...

Establishing shot.  Can't believe how much has grown in one week.  I got out and trimmed back lawn and weeds, for a tidier look.

Tomatoes and melons.  The Early Girls are almost as tall as the Big Mommas.  Melons are doing well. too.

I potted several of the pepper plants, because most of them were getting over shadowed by the tomatoes.  So now I have 'Pepperland'!

Kitchen bed is well.  Two new garlic have sprouted!

Blackberry is healthy !

Onions and garlic!  New garlic sprouts in the lower-left quadrant!

Tiger Lilies and Royal Candles.

Tiger Lilies, and the lost-in-the-weeds blueberry!