Sunday, August 20, 2017

A report on grumpy me

Forget about my husband; this is all about me.  It's been a strange week of little things going wrong.

A cap came off a tooth, a cap which can probably be glued right back on.  But I couldn't get in to see the dentist Thursday and they're closed Fridays.  It's a lower tooth that shows up really plainly when I smile.  Just call me snaggle-tooth.  I'm going to church this morning anyhow, since I've missed the last 2 or 3 Sundays.  I'll try not to smile.  This will prepare me for living the rest of my life toothless.  

I appreciate the tips and advise given by my readers, but you haven't given me anyway to come up with the money it would take.  Our savings wouldn't pay for the cheapest new car you can buy, and it sure won't pay for implants, the only thing that would work for me.  

While all you ants were putting away food for the winter, I (the grasshopper) was fiddling my heart out.  I don't tell this stuff to get pity, because the situation was caused by my actions.  I do brush my teeth, but I've never taken care of them like I should.  Around 1980, Cliff was working at the butcher shop when his boss said, "I'd like to provide dental care for my employees out of my own pocket."

Since I, at that time, had a gaping hole left by a tooth that had been pulled, just to the left of center (which is also how my politics these days can be described, but I digress).  This dentist was leery of trusting me when I said Cliff's boss was paying, but he went ahead.  Root canals and bridgework and many sessions with the dentist ended up with a full mouth of teeth.  Shortly after this, the boss decided to discontinue dental insurance, and I can't say I blamed him.  Anyway, I still did not have a beautiful smile.  My teeth aren't pearly white, they're a little crooked, but oh man, I could chew, and I wasn't afraid to smile!  Until the bridgework began failing, I faithfully flossed and brushed, because you almost have to with bridgework in place.  Eventually two bridges on the bottom had to be removed because some of the teeth supporting them failed.  Then it was back to just brushing.  

"Oh well," I said, as grasshoppers frequently like to say.

I have six teeth on bottom and six on top (I think six... some of the top teeth are bridgework).

Now if my friends would kindly tell me how to fix these teeth any other affordable way than to pull them all, I'd love to hear it.  I used to follow a blogger in Arkansas named Patsy.  She would have understood my situation.  

Dentists want to talk about implants, but check the cost of those, remember I'm not rich, and give me your practical solution to this situation.  On the bottom there isn't even anyplace a bridge would work any more.  I don't need pity, because I have no doubt had I planned better when I was young, this wouldn't be such a severe problem.  We get by nicely on our Social Security, but that's our income.  We don't do credit card debt any more, especially not for the amount of money dentists charge.

That's one reason I'm grumpy.  Here's the other story:  Most of my adult life, I've been plagued with chronic bladder infections, otherwise known as UTI.  As I get older, it's more frequent, and a search of the Internet tells me that's common.  If you go to a doctor frequently for the same cause, they want to shuffle you off to a specialist.  I did this once, and the uroligist seemed to have the attitude, "Why are you even here for a simple bladder infection?"

So I buy AZO for the discomfort and drink gallons (literally) of water.  That usually gets me by.  Doesn't get rid of the infection, but often the symptoms become bearable for weeks at a time.

This last round, though, was persistant, so I finally cried "uncle" and made an appointment with the nurse-practitioner at our doctor's office.  We always use her, because she's nicer and listens better than the actual doctor.  I peed in the cup, placed the cloudy liquid in a cubbyhole that is accessible from the other side, and followed a nurse to a room where I was seated.  I was dreading what might come, knowing they're going to tell me all the right things to do to prevent this, things I've known about and done forever.

But this time was different.  Nurse Stephanie mentioned that as women grow older, these recurrent UTI's tend to be more persistent and frequent.  She suggested I take Bactrim for a week, then begin taking a maintenance dose of another antibiotic regularly.  I was SO grateful, and looking forward to trying it!  She has one more trick up her sleeve, so if this doesn't work we'll go there.  

I had no idea what Bactrim was, but I began taking it and my moods went all wacky and I felt slightly nauseous.  That's when I realized it must have Sulfa in it; on checking the lable, I saw it did.  Sulfa had always messed with my stomach and made me grouchy, angry, and depressed.  In all the articles I've read about side effects of sulfa, I've never seen mood changes and depression listed.  But I know that's what it does to me.

However, if I can put up with the side effects (and if Cora and Cliff can stand me) I'm taking every last one, and counting the days until I take the last one Thursday. 

I'm sort of reluctant to post this entry, because I'm whining.  I see so much whining on Facebook, I hesitate to do it here.  But since I'm under the influence of a drug that hates me, I'm whining and don't care who knows it. 

I may as well go out to the garden and eat worms.  

In case I've depressed any of my readers, here's a video of a film taken in 1928 that cheered me up.  I even smiled.  Nobody was around to see my snaggle-tooth.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A report on my husband

Today was Cliff's appointment with the Urologist.  Neither the bone scan nor the CT scan showed any cancer.  However, since it is the fast-growing type of cancer, something must be done.  The two options given for Cliff this morning were surgical removal of the prostate, or several weeks of radiation five days a week.  Cliff's first choice was surgery:  It sounded simple enough, just an overnight stay in the hospital.  The doctor was fine with that, but he started inquiring into Cliff's cardiac history.  Then on the information at hand, he saw the operation four years ago mentioned, the gall bladder fiasco:  8 days in the hospital and 3 or 4 miserable weeks at home with drainage tubes coming out of his chest and belly.  He said there very well could be problems with scar tissue, since that involved doctors poking around the inside of Cliff's body cavity.  

He said with either treatment, surgery or radiation, Cliff's chances would be about 80%.  

Next move is an appointment is with an oncology radiologist.  Then probably back to the urologist.  Now get this:  He will be given female hormones to shrink the prostate before the radiation treatments.  He will have hot flashes.  This has given Cliff a whole new topic for corny jokes, and I'm already tired of them.  "I guess we should buy some chick flicks for me to watch."  "Well, at least Obama fixed it so I can use either bathroom."  "I guess I should go in Walmart with you and check out the new fall blouses."  

Ha Ha.

Cliff said to the nurse who came in ahead of the doctor, "They told me it was fast-growing, then made my appointment 3 weeks ahead!"

He chuckled and said, "It doesn't grow THAT fast."

On another note, I'm getting ready to get dentures, if I can find a dentist who won't try to sell me implants that cost $10,000 per tooth.  This means before long I'll be running around toothless for a couple of months.  I may not do much running around; I might plant myself at home.  Wish me luck on this adventure.  I might enjoy being toothless so much I won't want any teeth.  That's how it was with my father-in-law.  

If anybody has recommendations, I'm listening.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht

That's an old Yiddish proverb that some translate to this:  "Man plans, God laughs."  I have had many occasions in my life to use that quotation.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe God sits on his throne laughing when bad things happen to us.  There is a natural order to things; we often don't know how various events in life are related until years after the fact.  I believe some of the terrible things that happen in life do turn out, in some way, for the best.  Here's an example:

I think it was in April that I told Cliff I'd like to go on a bus trip to New England.  He hates to drive, and I don't drive, never have; he won't get on an airplane.  And when we do take long vacation trips, they never turn out well:  We drive around aimlessly, getting lost and wishing we were home.  Cliff agreed it might work out well to let somebody else plan the trip for us, booking the motels, planning the places of interest, and hauling us around.  It worked for our train trip last year!  Then I told him the price, and he faltered:  $2,595 apiece, and that doesn't include most meals.  

I assured him I was fairly confident I could put back enough money by the time it would be due so we wouldn't have to touch our emergency fund.  Now, if you knew how small our emergency fund is, you'd laugh at the notion of even calling it that.  It wouldn't handle most major emergencies you run across in life, but that's the way we roll.  We live on the edge.  

I stayed away from Amazon, changed some other spending habits, and, as of last month, was within $500 of having the total amount.  I was stoked!  Finally, we would have a vacation with no snags, no unpleasant surprises and no worries.  

Then we found out Cliff had cancer.  Since we don't yet know what the treatment will be, we can't plan on a trip in October:  The best-case scenario would be radiation treatments, which can take an extended time to complete.  Or, if the cancer hasn't spread outside the prostate too extensively, there might be surgery.  Right now, our future is uncertain.  I needed to cancel the trip we'd already reserved with a $400 deposit.

I had read the cancellation policy before I booked, so I understood we could cancel, this early in the planning... IF the company was on the up-and-up.  I figured they'd keep the $400 deposit, but that's life.  You take risks.  I went to the tour company's website to see how I should go about getting a refund.  They wanted it in writing, so I figured I would call to make sure I did things properly before I sent the letter.  The call went to voice mail:  I left a message explaining we'd just found out Cliff had cancer, were uncertain about the future, and needed to cancel.  

Nobody returned my call that day, or the next, I think.  I started getting anxious.  

Then my call was returned:  The lady politely explained that the other person in charge had been with a group on a trip to New York, and she had been out of the office for a couple of days.  She assured me that I did NOT have to write, she would take care of it, but I had already put the letter in the box thinking since nobody answered the phone, maybe the letter would get their attention. 

Yesterday we received a check in the mail refunding our $400 deposit.

I learned early on in life that some of the worst things that happen in a person's life turn out, in the long run, to work to her advantage, and could give you many examples from my own life.  This incident is just the latest example:  Our share of paying for Cliff's two scans would have been $500 if St. Mary's hadn't scheduled them both for the same day.  As it was, we had to pay $250.  

We had to cancel the trip of a lifetime, but we have some extra funds to handle random medical expenses that come our way.  Bet-case scenario, we won't use all of it and can start planning a trip for later on.  Worst-case, it won't be enough, but we at least have that much in reserve, which is a good feeling.     

I'd like to recommend Kincaid Coach Tours.  The lady who contacted me was polite and understanding, and explained to my satisfaction why she didn't return my call immediately.  We got our deposit back in full.  We may never have the funds to plan such a trip again.  But if we do, I will have no qualms about booking with them.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Happenings, on earth and in the skies

Around home, there are a few notable dates in our future.  Tomorrow night is the Perseid Meteor shower, which will reportedly be the brightest meteor shower in recorded human history!  In an unusual state of affairs, I won't be going to bed at my usual 8 PM tomorrow evening because I am attending a Green Day concert with granddaughter Monica!!!!  I generally try not to use exclamation marks often, but I just can't help it today.

Yes, the group is outside my realm of musical interests for the most part.  But several years ago I introduced Monica to their music for the first time and took her to her first Green Day concert.  I love their mellow songs and pretty tunes, of which there aren't many.  Here's a favorite: 

However, I do love the energy and excitement that is present at any concert, especially any sort of rock concert.  

Then after I arrive home from my night of depravity, I get to watch the heavens declare the glory of God.  

Speaking of which:  We are in the path of the big eclipse coming on Monday the 21st!!!!  Yep, more exclamation marks... hey, I know people who use those in almost every sentence.  An Internet friend I originally met in Blogland sent us the proper viewing glasses, three pairs, after I procrastinated getting ours.  In a perfect world, Cora will be down for her nap by the time the eclipse starts and ideally it will be a sunny day.  In a four-year-old's world (she turns four tomorrow), who knows?  She is pretty regular with her nap-times, though, unless she happens to sense my excitement.  And in Missouri, which is never the perfect world weather-wise, it could be cloudy and raining.  Right now the weather-guessers say partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain.  Last time we had that same forecast, we received seven inches of rain.  Oh yes, and tonight Cliff, our daughter, granddaughter Natalie (I hope) and I are going to opening night of the state fair to see Sawyer Brown perform.  I've seen them twice before and enjoyed their high-energy performances.  However, two of them are in their mid-sixties and three are in their mid-fifties.  They may be in wheel chairs, for all I know.  

Now, for the question everyone has:  Cliff sees the urologist a week from today, on the 17th.  I have had a CD of the CT scan since the day it was done, which I will give him.  I assume the doctor will have received the information on the bone scan.  That is all we know at present.  Since it definitely is cancer, I am assuming Cliff will then be referred to an oncologist.  That's just a guess, and it's all we know.  I will let my blog readers know the results of that visit after it happens.  


Saturday, August 05, 2017

For the love of Oliver tractors (warning: Many tractor pictures included).

Cliff really wanted to go to this tractor show at Marshalltown, Iowa.  Since he seldom wants to drive anywhere, I always jump in the middle of things when I see a road trip ahead.  I convinced him we should just head on up there and see those Olivers!  Didn't take too much convincing.  

We packed a change of clothes, figuring we'd look the tractors over, spend a night at some nearby motel, and then head home... or to my Allen family reunion.  Whatever.  I just wanted a road trip.  I checked out an audiobook onto the iPad, from our library (John Grisham's "Rogue Lawyer") and left shortly after 7 AM.  Turns out I had already read the book, but I didn't remember some parts.  And it really helped Cliff pass the time.

All kinds of tractors, all colors.
Whoa, look at that GREAT BIG TRACTOR!

What a nice Massey Harris!

Before there was Oliver, there was Hart-Parr

This is a Canadian Oliver.  It's pretty much the same tractor as an Oliver, but in Canada they called it a Cockshutt.  

And now, the Oliver tractors!!!!

We loved this next one!  Cliff has no idea what sort of GM motor was in it, but he said "it looked like a V12 or something".  We both wished we could have heard it running.  Cliff said it was probably best he didn't hear it... he says he might have messed his pants.   (I know... ewww...)

The owner of this John Deere had the fanciest, finest seat for his wife we've EVER seen, so I took a few pictures.  Seriously, this is wonderful handiwork.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Cooking with the little princess can be risky

The child has been helping me mix and measure the ingredients for pancakes for a long, long time, probably since she was around 18 months old.  On her first attempt at cracking eggs, she ended up with no pieces of shell in the end product and no busted yolk.  Unfortunately, she didn't get it in the cup, so it slid around on the counter... but other than that, she did great.

At first I'd let her mix the dry ingredients with a spoon.  Before long, I began measuring out the liquid ingredients and letting her pour them one at a time in a separate bowl from the dry ingredients.  Then I let her use the hand egg beater (given to me by a long-time follower of my blog when my old one broke).  She wasn't really well coordinated enough to do it rapidly and well, but I'd let her do it awhile before I needed to take over.  

Nowadays I get out all the ingredients and set them on the counter, but let her pour them in appropriate measuring cups, and then pour them into the mixing bowls.  I still do some of the measuring, but talk to her about it as I do ("this is one cup.  This is 1/2 a cup.  Which cup is bigger?").  I do let her level the measuring cups and spoons with a knife for me.

Today I felt adventurous and asked her if she'd like to do the actual cooking.  Oh yes, she was excited at the offer.  I preheated the cast iron skillet, one of my larger ones, and had her get on a kitchen chair as close to the hot skillet as I dared to put her.  I made batter for a lot more pancakes than we actually needed (Cliff and I only have one good-sized pancake each, since we're back to watching what and how much we eat).  I told her she could practice with a few small ones.  I half-filled a glass two-cup measuring cup, thinking I'd guide her on how much batter to put in the pan.  I set it beside the skillet, turned around, and in that instant she poured more than a cup of batter in that pan, where it ran all over the bottom of the skillet.  It now sits on the stove with water in it, waiting for me to clean the mess.

I grabbed another skillet and forged ahead.  

Part of the problem with the actual cooking was that she had to follow my instructions about not touching the hot skillet.  It was awkward for my little vertically-challenged charge to reach to the middle of the skillet without touching the edge.  We made a couple of tiny practice-pancakes, then a larger one.  Once it was done I was going to put it in the practice pile, but she wanted it eaten.  So Cliff had a rather imperfect pancake.  We did another practice, then she said, "This one is going to be mine."

While she was eating, I made my own pancake.  By the time I was done with mine, Little Princess had finished hers, and we made a couple more practice pancakes just because we could.  She's already getting better with flipping them.  

She isn't ready for the big time, but she'll make somebody a great little cook someday.  Although as independent as she is, I'm not sure she'll want to cook for anybody but herself.

After making this entry, I thought I had better return and add one little thing I left out.  You know, in the interest of full disclosure:  When I turned back toward the child and saw her in the process of pouring a cup-and-a-half of batter in the big skillet, I yelled, "Oh, no!" loud and sharp.  The smile left her face and she puckered up.  I immediately put my arms around her, apologized for yelling, and told her she was doing great for her first time, and that she just needed a lot of practice.  She cried into my shoulder for 20 seconds or so, and we returned to cooking with her hurt feelings soothed.  

Oh, and I'm going to look for a cheap griddle for when our little chef is making pancakes.  With no tall sides to avoid touching, she'll be able to maneuver a lot more easily.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Down memory lane

I never know from year to year whether I will have a garden, or if I do, whether I will decide to can or not to can.  Each year I seem to drop another thing from my routine:  The Jersey cow is gone, the chickens are gone.  So I wait to see what's in store each spring and assess my "want-to".  

My garden this year is smaller, but I have lots of tomatoes.  I think I've canned enough for my needs this winter, but there is a lady who is usually glad to come and get any of my extra tomatoes for canning.  I may do some more later; I just want to take a break from the mess. I had just typed this much when I had some visitors.  It was my friend Shirley, whom I'm always so glad to see.  I sent them home with some tomatoes.  Her daughter looked very happy as she got in the car.  
Just a few fruits of my labor
When I bring in canning jars from the garage, they spark happy memories.  I got rid of at least half my jars years ago, knowing I'd never use them all again.  I should dispose of more, but believe it or not, I'm very sentimental about my canning jars.

Some of them were given to me by my mother after I got married and started gardening.  I'm sure my mom never bought new jars in her life, because most of those were mayonnaise jars, which used to work great for canning.  But a few of the real canning jars were obviously very old.  Yesterday I wasted at least an hour trying to find out just how old some of them are.

The blue jars were made between 1923-1933.  I remember my mom saying that when she and Daddy married in 1932, her mom gave her a lot of home-canned goods:  Green beans, tomatoes, jams and jellies.  I like to think perhaps these originally came from Grandma.  Old Ball jars are plentiful, and there's lots of information about how to figure out their ages.  However, I found very little help from Google on this next one.  Apparently Atlas jars aren't collected as much.  If I understand correctly, all the manufacturers stopped making the blue jars after the mid-1930's, so this one is very old too.

Here's what leads me to believe it might have been made before the 30's.

Can you see the bubbles in the glass, actually a part of the jar?  I couldn't really find any information about the bubbles, but I would think it would be older, perhaps before they had refined the process of jar-making to keep them from being flawed like this.  

Most of my jars are newer ones I bought myself, but I have an attachment to those too:  Money was scarce at our house back then, and it was a big deal when I bought a case of twelve shiny new jars.  I remember how happy I was to have them.  I have a few marked with the bicentennial in 1976, but most were purchased in the late 60's.

Isn't it silly the things we get attached to?  Then we die, and they'll all be disposed of.  I keep trying to force myself to box up some of my precious jars and take them to Jamesport, where the Amish folks will buy them.  They don't pay much, but I hate to think about anything so hard-gotten being thrown away.  Yeah, one of these days I'll take half of them up there.  Right.  Ha!  I'm already getting cold feet just thinking about it.

In case anybody is wondering, our weather has been perfect!  We got seven inches of rain last week... that was a little much, but afterward the temperatures cooled down nicely.  

That's all my blathering for now.  Peace!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The land of plenty

After last year, having any tomatoes is a blessing.  Blight is out there, and may or may not take over.  But while I have tomatoes, I will can them.  My main motivation for even having a garden, in the past several years, has been tomatoes.  I no longer can anything else, but we actually use a lot of canned tomatoes, so many that when I have to purchase them, I get a case.
I only bought two six-packs of plants this year, but somehow I ended up with one plant that bears yellow tomatoes (three of those are on the left in the picture).  I can't can them (ha!), but they're pretty tasty.  I've heard they're good for people with stomach issues who can't take all the acid in regular tomatoes.  

Now I move on to the difficult part of this blog entry.  I was going to wait until we have more answers, but I have decided to prepare everyone now.  I imagine most of the local folks have heard anyway, because if you tell one person in a small town, word gets around.

Friday we found out Cliff has prostate cancer.  He had a high number on his PSI test so he was sent to a specialist who confirmed our fears.  As if cancer wasn't bad enough, it's a fast-growing kind.  He will go do all the things this Friday that will let them stage the cancer, although we might have to wait longer for one procedure, because the insurance company has to approve it.  His next appointment is August 17, three weeks away, so I assume that's when we will actually find out what stage.  My daughter, who has HAD cancer, said, "Why so long, if it's fast-growing?"  Of course that question was on our minds too, but once you are in the hands of the doctors, you may as well just hope for the best.

Don't you hate just not knowing?  We're both rather numb at present, wondering what to expect.  

The first day we made dark jokes about cancer.  Example:  We stopped at Costco after going to the doctor, to get Cliff a couple packages of T-shirts.  "Maybe we should just get one package," Cliff said.  At the time we laughed, but I notice neither of has joked about it since the first day.  As time goes on, we will probably return to humor, though.

When we know more, I will let you know.  I'm not going step-by-step through every breath we take during this journey, whether it's good or bad.  But I will keep my blog friends updated from time to time.  Meanwhile, I keep thinking about the old "Optimist's Poem".

The optimist fell ten stories
And at each window bar,
He shouted to the crowd below,
"I'm all right so far."

We accept all good wishes and prayers.

We don't solicit any layman's ideas of a cure, such as suggestions of foods he should eat that will cure him.  Holistic health might sound great to others, and that's fine.  This is the hand we were dealt and we'll use the doctors we have been given.  

Oh, and just so you know, I hate pink.  So does my daughter.  Don't share something on Facebook saying "share this if you know someone with cancer" (who doesn't?) thinking it will do some good:  Find a reputable charity on charity navigator, choose one that has four or five stars, and give a dollar or five.  That is the best thing you can do for those who have cancer.

And it only took half an hour after I posted this on Facebook before someone mentioned "holistic health".  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

More things my mother kept

Doesn't everyone keep old 1952 driver's licenses?  I see by the address that this was the time we moved to Kansas City and didn't stay long at all, perhaps a month or two.

This is a letter from my mom's doctor, probably from the time Daddy's fingers and toes froze; he was the hired man on an Iowa farm, and chores had to be done, no matter how cold.  His frozen toes caused him difficulty the rest of his life.

This is a card that accompanied money the church collected for my parents while my dad was laid up with frozen fingers and toes...

...and on the back of the card are the names of all who contributed to the total $10.00.  Times were hard, and folks were poor.

A pair of sandals I wore when I was probably a year old.

This is a letter from my first schoolteacher, Mrs. Eighmy, written to me after my parents and I had moved back to Missouri.  I had to laugh out loud when I got to the words I have underlined, because that pretty well sums it up for everybody; Cliff and his sister laughed when I read it to them.  

I wonder if that was her diplomatic way of saying I was a brat.

OK folks, there you have more things my mom considered collectable.  There will likely be more coming.

I'm adding this fact I just learned from a few notes written in the baby book Mother kept for me:  At age 2 1/2 I could carry the tune to four songs, and I knew forty nursery rhymes and poems.