Thursday, May 30, 2013

House chicken

We were at Orscheln's Monday morning and I happened past the chicks for sale.  Not that I was in the market for any chickens, mind you, I just happened to be in that vicinity.  There was a notice stating that there would be no more chicks this year.  The chicks in the various cages were a motley assortment of leftovers.  
One cage was inhabited by a single chick, a tiny Americauna pullet.  That's one of the breeds that lays blue or green eggs.  "I wouldn't mind having one of those," I thought.  "Besides, the poor little thing is all alone."  
Cliff didn't even protest when I told him I was taking that chick home.  He knows by now it's no use.  The chick peeped loudly from the confines of her cardboard jail, all the way home.  On our trip home, I began to question the wisdom of bringing home a single chick:  Where would I keep her?  You can't just throw a baby chick in with half-grown chickens... they would chase her down in unison and peck her to death.  Not to mention that new chicks need a certain amount of warmth.  
I hunted up a cardboard box, got a feeder and a waterer from the garage, and set her up.  

I just now took this picture.  Yes, that's poop all over the newspaper, and I just changed the newspapers twenty-four hours ago.  Again, I ask myself, what was I thinking?  
Chickie sometimes protests loudly with an irritating "CHEEP!  CHEEP!  CHEEP!" that will go on for a half-hour if you ignore it.  However, if I stand over the box where she can see me, she settles into a contented, barely audible peeping.  
A couple of evenings ago I was watching TV and decided to hold her, just to shut her up.  

As you can see, I was prepared with a paper towel in case she pooped.  She didn't, though.  In case you're wondering what that thing is that's attached to my nightgown, it's my Fitbit, the device that lets me know how many miles I have walked.  Because I often put my nightgown on at 5 PM, and then go out and pull weeds, and do not want to miss credit for a single step I take!  Of course, Hyperblogal (David) saw this shot on Facebook and grabbed his opportunity:

"Donna should have listened to Clifford. The whole "Mother's Day Out" idea is a load of hooey..."

Anyhow, I'm stuck with a chicken who doesn't know she's a chicken.  Cliff suggested we get her a friend, but then I would have twice as much poop to clean up.  If I could even find a chick, now that chick season is over.  It's a dilemma, for sure. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Preparing for the worst at a tractor club meeting

The Mid-Mo tractor club meets monthly.  There are about four men present for every woman that shows up, but since Cliff likes me to go along, I do.  A few ladies bring delicious, fattening, home-made cakes and snacks for members to eat when the meeting is over.  Cliff loves that little extra; I take my Ipad and read a book while he talks to the other guys and eats; you surely know by now that I am not that social a person.  It's just as well, because when I try to make small talk with people I don't know, I usually end up saying the wrong thing and insulting them, although it isn't intentional, and I never realize what I've said wrong until later.  
Things discussed at meetings include: which of various local events the members want to attend with their tractors to put them on display; setting dates for tractor drives and shows; and deciding when next to meet at Catfish Charlie's and pig out.
Right after we joined the club, they had a date to go to Catfish Charlie's, which we declined.  It's so expensive to eat out, and we get all the catfish we want from our neighbor across the road.  All I have to do is cook it.  As it turns out, we were glad we stayed home, because an elderly lady had a heart attack and died instantly while they were there.  I don't need that kind of excitement.
Because the majority of our club members are senior citizens, it was decided that perhaps we should be prepared in case something like that happened again, and fund-raisers were held to get enough money together to buy some sort of portable machine that would shock a dead heart back to life.  It is now brought to all meetings, events, and get-togethers, just in case someone has a myocardial infarction.  One club member is a nurse.  She is the one who secured this machine for us, and she has given lessons in how to use it.  It's simpler than you might think.
At our last meeting, she had been invited to give a brief lesson in CPR so that we could add that to our arsenal of preparedness.  She told us she had tried in vain to get a dummy to use, but, as she said, "It's harder to get a dummy than you might think."
So she used her husband.  (Insert giggle here.)

Yeah, we have a full-service tractor club.  Don't try dying on OUR watch.  

That's our club president standing beside the nurse.  

Cliff is a little stronger each day.  Some foods still taste "off" to him, and his sense of smell is all messed up, but he has enough of an appetite that we are back to our regular "healthy" eating, for the most part.  Monday we will go bright and early for him to get a CT scan, and if that looks all right to the doctor, the tube will be pulled at 10:30 A.M.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Good day, bad day

Cliff, his sister Rena, and I went to Versailles today.  Rena drove, figuring Cliff might appreciate having a chauffer (he did).  Our plans were to visit their cousin Edna, and later, her brother, Junior.  However, the first place we always stop when we arrive in Versailles is at Aunt Gertrude's.  Why?  Because that's where Cliff said they always went first when he was a kid.  I should have taken pictures, since there was a VERY cute baby there, one of the aunt's great-grandkids.  Did I take pictures as he smiled at all of us?  Nope.  Just shoot me, because you would have laughed at the pictures I didn't take.  Just picture a happy baby boy, four months old, laughing so hard it seemed he would hurt himself.  
Aunt Gertrude, who is in her eighties, has asthma.  By the time she had visited with us for an hour, she was wheezing badly.  She wanted us to stay for dinner (lunch), but we felt like that would be too much for her and went to Subway instead.  
From there we went to visit the Versailles graveyard and put some cheap plastic flowers on the graves of Cliff's and Rena's parents, and a couple of siblings.  We know their spirits are not there in the cemetery, but there is something about visiting the graves of loved ones that does the heart good.  
This is the stone at the head of Cliff's sister's grave.  He was fourteen years old when she died at Children's Mercy Hospital.  He and Rena talked about what a sweet baby she was.  

This is the back of the tombstone of Cliff's mom and dad.  We talked about them too.  Cliff's parents live on through their children in ways too numerous to mention.  

This is the final resting place of Cliff's and Rena's brother, Warren.  We all have many stories about him.  His heart was damaged by a siege of Rheumatic Fever when he was fifteen, and the weakened heart caused his death many years later.  
We don't travel to the graves of our loved ones often, but I really felt good about doing this.  It reminded me of how my parents and I "decorated" the graves of relatives every year and the things I learned about my ancestors listening to the stories my parents and aunts and uncles told.  I loved it.  I think those yearly get-togethers at cemeteries is what made me love graveyards.  

For those of you who remember my faithful horse, Blue, I recorded this video while riding on him.  He now lies in his own graveyard.

I am so thankful that my cousin, Pauline, is recording memories of my mom's side of the family.  

Then we went to Edna's.  Again, there was a cute great-grandson, but I took no pictures.  Call me a failure.  Next we went to Junior's and had a nice visit there.  After we left his house, we saw emergency vehicles pulling out of a rural volunteer fire house.  We dropped Edna off at her house and headed toward home.  Unfortunately, we were held up by the accident to which the emergency vehicles were headed.  Not good.  You can find the accident report HERE.  Read the bottom sentence, misc. information, to see what happened.  I especially hate this because a motorcycle was involved, and there was blood on the highway that I'm sure was the biker's.  

This is what we saw first...

And here you see the life-flight helicopter taking the biker away.  This was a case where the motorcyclist made a bad decision.  

I feel better now about the fact that we sold our Gold Wing.  


Friday, May 24, 2013

Found: One George Jones T-shirt

Cliff and I went to see George Jones in concert at Ameristar Casino in 2004.  Of course, I bought a T-shirt.  Then I retired and promptly started putting on weight, and the shirt was consigned to a far corner of a seldom-opened drawer.
When I decided last year that I was going to be fat forever, I got rid of a lot of the clothes that didn't fit me.  The jeans that were in good shape went into those boxes where you give your clothes to poor people in other countries.  Some clothes went in the trash, which would be a good place for most of my clothes once I'm done with them.  There isn't a lot of demand for used sweat pants that are ripped at the seams.
The other day I came upon the George Jones shirt, which still looks good as new even though I bought it nine years ago.  Lo and behold, it fit!

It says, "We all have "choices" and that's the "cold hard truth".

And on the back (notice Minnie Pearl has the tag of her T-shirt showing) is a picture of George as a kid.

Rest in peace, George.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The garden

My tomato plants, protected from whatever creature likes to eat them
Many years ago my late father-in-law reported to me that birds were eating the leaves off the tiny tomato plants he had set out in his back yard.  I remember telling him that I had never heard of such a thing.  Two years ago, I set out the tomato plants I raised in the house from seed and something striped them of leaves, leaving only a miserable little stem.  I mentioned on my blog that something was eating the leaves and someone, a Tractor Tales buddy I think, emailed me and said it was probably birds.  When I asked him what kind of birds, he said he thought it was robins doing it.  
Now, I had been gardening for forty years and had never seen this happen, but I took him at his word.  Last year I bought all my tomato plants, so they were larger and not so susceptible to being eating down to the stem.  
This year I raised some plants from seed again and, totally forgetting about my problem year before last, set them out.  Once again, I went out one morning to find most of them eaten down to the main stem.  So I made a fort for each plant out of milk cartons and decided to see if they would grow new leaves.  

 Indeed, they are making new leaves.

They are recovering quite well, actually.  I bought a few more plants just in case these didn't make it.  No problems with anything eating their leaves, because they are larger.  

Then the little birds (or whatever... I've never seen them with my own eyes) moved on to the sweet potato vines, and on those, they didn't even leave a stem!  So I laid this old screening over the row.  

Even though no stem was left, the tiny plant emerged and began growing leaves.  

My garden is nothing to brag about this year.  Cliff's sister likes to put up pickled beets for a couple of relatives, and the two rows of beets I planted just for her are doing well.  Other things, however, have refused to emerge at all.  Given all the events of the past month, I really don't care much, but it puzzles me why some simple things like carrots refuse to germinate.  I have been trying to use up old seed, so maybe that's the problem.  At least the green beans came up, as you can see in the top picture, to the right of the tomato forts.  Oh yes, and the potatoes are on the left.  So maybe I'll have green beans and potatoes, if nothing else.    

One tube gone, one to go

I like sharing pictures of my Iris
As we expected, the top tube was left in.  Actually, the doctor who saw us didn't even know about the upper one!  His associate, the one we usually see, knew, but he wasn't there yesterday.  The one left in has caused Cliff the most discomfort, but he said it's nice to have the lower one gone because it was right at his belt line and made it impossible to wear jeans.  Another good thing is that although the other one is still uncomfortable, it doesn't bother him half as much as it did a week ago.  He is scheduled to have it removed June 3. 
Cliff says food is tasting more like it ought to now, and he is starting to enjoy coffee.  He had two cups this morning.   He has been going with me on our walks, but only about three-fourths of the way, passing up the steepest inclines.  Today he made the whole walk!  It was slow, but he made it.  He always tells me to go ahead at my regular pace, but I tell him I would rather walk slowly with him than to walk fast alone.  

The chilly spring means a late strawberry harvest, but FINALLY there are a couple starting to ripen.  My mom's birthday was May 21, and most years when she was growing up there were enough ripe berries in my grandma's garden for Mother to have as a birthday treat.  This year she would have been out of luck.  We are in the midst of an unseasonably cool spell, no doubt caused by my replacing the flannel sheets with regular ones and switching the heavy winter bedspread with a lightweight one.  Or maybe it's just blackberry winter, since the blackberries are in bloom.

Yesterday Cliff and I saw a lovely little blue bird at the finch feeder, so I asked my Facebook friends what it might be.  With their help I learned that it was an Indigo Bunting.  When I listened to the song of the Indigo Bunting, I realized I had been hearing it yesterday and accidentally captured it on a video of my hummingbirds.  I would love to share it here, but I uploaded it straight to Facebook and unless you have Facebook, you probably couldn't see it.  
I don't buy mixed seeds for the birds most of the time because we live right behind the barn where many sparrows live, and they gobble the food up.  They can't do much with a finch feeder, so that's the only kind of seed I buy year around.  I hate English sparrows.  

I'll leave you with a picture I took this morning of a butterfly enjoying the lilacs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hello out there

My red iris
Cliff is getting a cat scan this morning.  Tomorrow he will see one of his surgeon's associates, and will see about getting his Jackson-Pratt tubes removed.  The lower one has almost no output now, so I think they will pull that one.  The upper one, the one that tortures him with every movement, isn't putting out a lot of fluid, but it's cloudy and dark-colored.  I don't know if that makes a difference.  We are cautiously optimistic.  
When Cliff first got sick, he weighed 232.  He now weighs 211.  Here's a little story I shared on Facebook today: 
Cliff has lost a lot of weight during the last month, needless to say. This morning he was at the bathroom sink shaving and I said, "After your cat scan today, I'm going to run in Walmart and get you some underwear that fits." 
"No," he says, "these are JUST FINE!" 
So I got my Ipad and took a picture of his backside and showed it to him. 
"Seriously? You are going to walk around like Droopy-Drawers?" 
I thought he was going to fall in the floor laughing at the picture. When he was finally able to talk, he said, "I think we'd better get me some shorts." 
I'd love to show my Facebook friends the picture, but I promised him I wouldn't.

Cliff is able to eat more now, although every meal is followed up by his munching on Tums.  Most food still doesn't taste right to him, but they tell me that is to be expected.  He has forced himself to get out and walk more each day, in spite of the stabbing pain caused by the tube that runs between two of his ribs, and he has regained some strength.  Last week he did some mowing on the riding mower, but he paid dearly for it the next day.  Now he's fretting about the hay that is almost ready to be mowed, and has threatened to simply rotary-mow it like you would mow weeds.  That's fine by me.  Hay just doesn't seem very important right now.  
I haven't been in the mood to blog about trivial things lately, and there really wasn't anything new going on with Cliff, so that's why I've been absent from Blog-land.  
We'll see what happens tomorrow at the doctor's office.    

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Somebody seeking a handout

I should have taken a picture to go with this story, but it happened yesterday.  If you read my last entry, you realize I wasn't in the best of moods yesterday.  
After we left the doctor's office, we went to Subway for a sandwich.  I had our drinks in a cooler, so I went in, ordered our sandwich (a foot-long cold cut combo on Italian-herbs-and-cheese bread with pepperjack cheese and all the veggies and stuff that Subway offers.  WITH mayo and honey-mustard.)  
We got our drinks from the cooler and sat in the car, eating.  We noticed two men and a woman with a dog on a leash walking across the road toward us.  The guys had enormous backpacks, and one of them was walking as though he could barely put one foot in front of the other.  They passed us by and went to the other end of the strip mall in which Subway is located.  We looked at one another and I said, "That's strange."  
Cliff agreed.  
A couple of minutes later, the lady of the group reappeared, sans dog, coming straight to our car.  
"We're going home to Georgia," she said.  "We're HUNG-ry.  We don't want money, we just want a sandwich.  We're HUNG-ry."
At first I thought she had some sort of foreign accent, but as she kept talking, I realized she was talking the way people who were born deaf talk.
We never give money to people seeking handouts.  
Cliff said, "Do you have any money?"  
"She doesn't want money, she just wants a sandwich," I said.  
"Well, the only sandwich I have is this one, and I don't want to give it up."  
I thought about my loaded "groceries" envelope.  I had just added this months money to it, and there was quite a bit left from last month.  Who needs groceries if you're living in a hospital?  
For some reason I decided to give her whatever small bills I had in that envelope, which consisted of a ten and four ones.  "I've got fourteen bucks," I told Cliff.  "I'll give her that."
He checked his billfold and found a one, added it to fourteen, and said to her, "Here you go, that's fifteen dollars."  
She put up her hands and said, "No!!!!  No!!!! That's too much!" 
What kind of beggar ever says that?  Not only that, but she repeated it more than once. 
Cliff told her to take it and she did, heading back toward the other end of the strip mall from whence she came, turning and blowing kisses at us a couple of times.  
"Well," I said, "I wonder what they'll really do with that money."  
About five minutes later she returned and walked into the subway, smiling and waving to us on the way.  Pretty soon she came out with a six-inch sub in a bag, held it up for us to see, said thank you, and blew us more kisses.      
Now, I'm glad she got her sandwich.  My only thought was that there is a McDonald's across the road, and they could have gotten a lot more bang for their buck over there.  
Maybe that was one of those angels unaware the Bible talks about.

Hebrews 13:2  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The uninvited guest at our chicken-killing

Who knew?  Consider this your laugh for the day.

Cliff saw our family doctor today.  There really wasn't anything the guy could do, but since he is our first line of defense if we need advice or help, we needed to get in touch.  I'm a little depressed over this whole situation, thanks to Google (don't tell me not to Google; you know you'd be doing it too).  This whole problem apparently isn't a thing people always get over rapidly.  Biliary leaks don't have a "one-size-fits-all" solution, from what I've learned.  All the doctors can do is try first one thing and then another and hope for the best.  Meanwhile, the patient suffers.  
When the nurse came in this morning to take Cliff's blood pressure (which is running really low, 100 over whatever), she said, "How are you?"  
"Fine," he answered.  
This is a pet peeve of mine.  He refuses to be honest with the doctors and nurses.  In the hospital, when I could tell his pain level was obviously eight or above, he would tell them it was two; his excuse was that they would force a pain med on him, and pain meds made him sick.  I am sure his pain level is five or so here at home during all his waking hours, because the tube that runs between his ribs causes him great pain.  Not to mention that his guts are still in constant turmoil.  I know this because he hasn't gotten on a tractor a single time since he's been home, and there are tractor chores that he would normally love to be doing that are undoubtedly driving him crazy.  Not that he says that, but after living with someone for close to fifty years, you know certain things.  He isn't hiding a thing from me!  
So, I'm a little downhearted.  He doesn't deserve this.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I killed two chickens today

Those three Cornish Cross chickens I bought in March were eight weeks old, and having more trouble walking all the time.  I asked Cliff if he thought the two of us could get them butchered, and he said he thought so.  We really did not know what we were doing, even though we found wonderful instructions at  Maybe if we'd had the instructions printed out in front of us it would have been easier.  
Cliff has always done the killing of animals around here, but after he did the first one I said, "Let me try the next one.  I'll kill it like Mother did, by stepping on its head, holding onto its feet, and pulling."
I remember my mother telling me you can only kill young, tender birds that way.  Older, tough chickens have to have the head chopped off.  My grandma used a hatchet to chop off the heads of all the chickens she killed; I remember asking Mother why, and she said it was because Grandma was old and didn't have a lot of strength.  Since my grandmother was only ten years older than I am when she died, I have to admit that I had a few doubts about whether I could pull a chicken's head off using Mother's method.  Imagine my surprise when it worked!  
According to what I read, 145 degrees is the perfect temperature for scalding a chicken, which is something you have to do if you are going to pluck the feathers.  Hot water from our faucet is 135, so I didn't have to heat it up much.  
By the third chicken, I was tired of plucking and told Cliff to skin it, feathers and all.  All three chickens are chilling in cold water in the refrigerator.  Tomorrow I'll freeze them.  I feel like a REAL pioneer woman now.   

He's been on the couch ever since.  I think that was enough activity for today.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Life goes on (in which you get to see Cliff's scars)

Cliff is doing a little better every day, but it's slow going.  Today he drove for the first time in three weeks:  we went to close out the safety deposit box, since the local branch of our bank is closing, and got a new box in Lexington.  I returned a long overdue book to the library, and we went shopping for a few things.  OK, I shopped.  Cliff napped in the car.    
Saturday his St. Louis sister and her husband were here.  She mowed the yard and her husband did some maintenance on the Mahindra tractor we are babysitting for him, with Cliff overseeing his work.  Next-door sister's son did a lot of weed-eating, so our yard looks terrific.  This does wonders for Cliff's outlook on life.  
We've sold the Gold Wing; this is something we had already decided to do even before Cliff got sick, but that certainly sealed the deal.  Yes, it's hard to see it go, but we're not getting any younger. This time I truly believe the time has come.  
We also sold our bull, since none of my animals will be needing the services of a bull before December.  We evidently priced him too low, since we got a lot of calls, and sold him to the first person who looked at him.  Still, we used him on three cows and got considerably more money than we paid for him.  
Now, are you ready to look at Cliff's tubes and scars?  I did my best to keep it decent, although if you look really hard, you can see the top edge of his tighty-whities.  

Both tubes exit on his right side.  That fancy-looking top one comes through a hole between two ribs.  They had hoped to be able to go underneath his ribs, but since his liver doesn't come down as far as it's supposed to, they had to do it this way.  That one causes him considerable discomfort, as you might imagine.  The staples were removed from his surgical wound last week.     

Cliff eats a good-sized breakfast and dinner (lunch), but he usually has a nutritional supplement for supper.  For some reason he just isn't hungry at night.  We've found he likes the Walmart Equate brand much better than Ensure.  When we are trying to keep his weight down, bread is limited, but for now he gets all the bread he wants.  So he has toast with his cream of wheat, bread with his spaghetti, and every once in a while a peanut butter sandwich.  In fact, he can have pretty much any food he desires, because I'm so happy to see him able to eat!  I told him he had better enjoy it while he can.  
We visit our family doctor Wednesday.  Next Monday, if the CT scan gives us a good picture with no extra fluids hanging around Cliff's liver, he gets the tubes pulled.  In July, the stents will be removed from his bile duct.  We hope that ends this nightmare.  
I do want to thank all who have prayed and sent positive thoughts our way.  Cliff appreciates your good thoughts, and has enjoyed the cards he's received, one of which came from a New Jersey follower of my blog, as well as several from his cousin, Edna.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

It feels almost like normal around here

I'm sorry I didn't update sooner today:  I find myself sharing on Facebook, and then hours later I remember that many of my readers don't have Facebook.  
Cliff is back to eating real food, and plenty of it (not in excess, though).  I'm actually cooking again!  The drains produce less fluid every day.  In ten days the surgeon will have a cat scan done, and if it looks like there's no fluid hanging around where it shouldn't be, he can say goodbye to the Jackson-Pratt tubes, both of them.  
I may not have a coffee-drinking buddy any more, because coffee doesn't taste good to Cliff at all.  I'm still holding my breath, since we've had so many bumps in this road, but he does seem to be feeling pretty good today.  As I've said before, this "simple gallbladder surgery" has made the quadruple heart bypass he had seven years ago seem like a walk in the park.  

I set out sweet potatoes and other plants today, and hoed places that needed it in the garden.  I sprayed the fruit trees.  It looks as though neither the peaches nor the apples were harmed by the freezes or the late snow-fall.  

Here's a picture of Penny eating through her gate... and no, she isn't stuck.

Here's the picture after David, the photographer, got hold of it.

I think that's all I have to report for today, except to tell you that I need a nap!  Two weeks of sitting around in a hospital have gotten me totally out of shape.  

Thursday, May 09, 2013


I hadn't read the book of Ecclesiastes for quite a while, or even thought about it, until this morning.  I went out to milk Jody and bottle-feed Penny, and that's when it began:  "Vanity," I heard the voice in my head say, "it's all vanity."   
Just for today, I wish I hadn't started a garden.  I wish I had not bought those stupid chickens.  Right now, I could sell every cow on the place and not blink an eye.  
The other day I fried up a big mess of morel mushrooms and they didn't even taste good, because Cliff wasn't enjoying them with me.  
Two of my apple trees are blooming for the first time this year.  I couldn't care less.

Ecclesiastes 2:4-6   4I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove..... then on to verse 11: 
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.

I don't care what's growing in the garden.  Oh, I go ahead and plant and hoe and till, because to not do so would mean I have no hope of anything getting better than it is right now.  And of course, things will get better.
Cliff is so tired of hurting.  It seems that anywhere I touch him, it hurts.  I have never seen him more depressed than he is right now.  
So today he will go in to have the stent removed that was placed in a bile duct last week, and a longer stent put in.  That means he'll have a very sore throat again, since this procedure involves the doctor going down his throat with some kind of instrument.  
He could barely talk last weekend as a result of this same operation.
On the bright side, he ate two honest-to-goodness meals yesterday and enjoyed them.  

Forgive me for being such a downer.  I usually have so much fun in my life.  I love sharing my adventures with my readers.  I hesitated to do this entry, but sometimes I just want to "keep it real".  This is what's been going through my head this morning.    

 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.
The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,
And hastens to the place where it arose.
The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.
All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


Cliff's brother took us to the hospital where we had a one o'clock appointment for Cliff to have a guided CT scan in radiology.  A needle would be inserted between his ribs to draw off a pocket of water below his liver (the nurses called it an abscess, although the doctor never used that term) and a tube would be inserted so the drainage could continue.  Now he has twin tubes, but he does seem to feel better except for soreness where the needle went through.  His poor liver has been through the wringer.  When they were done prying his gallbladder away from it the other day, they cauterized it.  Now this.  
He was awake for this procedure, because they had to have him hold his breath at times, but they used the same sort of drug to relax and semi-sedate him that is used during a colonoscopy, as well as a local anesthetic.  Because they had the needle so close to his lung, an X-ray was taken after they were done to make sure no damage was done to the lung.  
When he was brought out of the procedure, his color was better than it's been in two weeks.  He is sore from the needle, and he's taking Tylenol for that.  He has a prescription pain killer, but because it messes with his stomach, he refuses to take it.  
Let's hope he continues to improve.  I don't mind our having to deal with the tubes if he can get to feeling better.  Somewhere along the line it was mentioned that he might have to have the stent in the bile duct removed and a longer stent put in.  I don't know if that's a for-sure thing, or just something they were considering.  My brain is on overload.  
Once Cliff was in recovery yesterday we sent his brother home and called the oldest grandson to come and take us home.   When we arrived home, the whole yard had been mowed by our son-in-law, which was a load off Cliff's mind.  

The grandson and I went down in the woods Monday evening, and he fixed the fence.  Now the cows will have to stay home.  As always, Titan was right in the middle of things.  We intended to hunt for morels when we finished this job, but by the time we scaled the steep bank of the canyon a couple of times, we were out of the mood.

I set out some tomato and pepper plants yesterday morning, and planted a row of green beans.  

Monday, May 06, 2013

It isn't over yet

Cliff's brother came and took us to Cliff's appointment with the surgeon.  We left the house at 8:30 and got home about 2:30, so it was a difficult day for Cliff, although I can see him gaining strength every day.  A nurse took the staples out of the incision.  The doctor then sent us to St. Mary's to get an MRI and a blood test.  While we were in his office, he was talking about the surgery and said, "When we saw that hole in a bile duct, we thought, "How are we going to fix this?"   
Well, they are still working on that.  Poor Cliff.  
The surgeon called a while ago with the results of today's test:  There's still a little pocket of fluid floating under the liver.  They are going to try and schedule a cat scan tomorrow, and possibly remove some of that fluid with a needle.  If that doesn't do the trick, there's also a possibility they may have to put a larger stent in that bile duct than the one that's in there, which would mean another procedure where they go down his throat.  Cliff is, naturally, pretty depressed.   He's tired of not feeling good, tired of being weak, and tired of having to force food down.  I do trust that they are doing everything they can to get him feeling better.  I could hear the disappointment in the surgeon's voice when he called.  Cliff is an unusual case, and I think the doctors are having to play it by ear, to a large extent.  

I found the fence problem

A big, rotten tree had fallen on the fence.  I have the cows shut in the lot now, and when grandson gets off work at two o'clock, he'll come by and fix it for us.  It was so dark when I tried to take a photo that the flash went off and you couldn't see the fence.  So I took a video, which didn't really help matters either.  I will include it, though, just so you can hear me talking to my hillbilly self, which I do whether I am recording a video or not.


Moving right along

We had a pretty good weekend.  We had a lot of company, and Cliff could have used more "down time", but all in all, he seems to be gaining strength; he walked to the shop and back twice yesterday.  He had some bad hours of discomfort last night from midnight to 3:30 A.M., which was worrisome, but he's sleeping now.  He has an appointment with the surgeon this morning.  He is eating real food, and I've heard him say "I'm hungry" a couple of times.  

Meanwhile, I think I may have some fence to mend again, this time between us and the new neighbor to the west.  When I went outside yesterday evening, Gracie was grazing happily in the front yard!  No gates had been left open, so unless she sprouted wings, a break in that particular fence-line is the only way she could have gotten from point A to point B.  After Cliff settled back into peaceful slumber this morning, all I could do was lay there and worry about the cows getting out, so I am a bit sleep-deprived.  If the silly cows are within calling distance when I go out to milk, I'll lock them in the lot until we return from the doctor.  When we get home I'll walk the fence in hopes of finding the problem, hoping it's something I can fix.  Maybe a tree fell on it, taking it to the ground.  It's mushroom time, so someone might have cut the barbed wire to get onto our place with greater ease.  It's happened before, more than once.  Can you believe people take such liberties with the property of others?  I do have another livestock panel I could drag down there and wire over a significant break in the fence.  It worked for the other spot.  And why is it that all these problems waited to happen until Cliff is sidelined, anyhow?      
Saturday I found six morel mushrooms.  They would have made a nice snack for me, but I really wanted more.  Of course Cliff won't be having any fried mushrooms at this point, nor does he desire any.  Yesterday I went to the woods again, and found thirteen more morels, all in one spot!  So now I can "pig out", and I will have had my fill for this year.  
I think I deserve a mess of mushrooms.  I reached my goal weight of 160 and have since lost four more pounds.  I do believe I'm going to make it down to 150.    

Thanks to my daughter, my computer's connection problem seems to be fixed.  For over a year it's been losing connection, sometimes several times a day.  I knew the router wasn't the problem, since there was never an issue with other computers and devices.  It's so nice to sit here and do a blog entry without having to reboot two or three times to finish it.  

Friday, May 03, 2013

A picture for Cliff's St. Louis sister

Next-door sister is giving Cliff a haircut.

Snow in May

Because the snow was melting so fast, I took a picture of it yesterday evening in case it disappeared entirely:

For the same reason, I took a picture in the dark this morning to show the accumulation.

The ground isn't frozen, and when you walk around outside, it's slush more than snow.  The temperature here is actually above freezing, at 33 degrees.  Two of my little apple trees are in bloom for the first time ever. According to Dr. Google, this temperature won't hurt the crop, and the same goes for my peach trees.  We shall see.
I was outside because I wanted to see if any of the chickens were on the roost.  FAIL!  The two grown hens, who should know better, where nestled snugly in the nest box I made them!  I was very proud that they were actually laying eggs in that box yesterday, but I was NOT proud to find out this morning that they had decided to use it for a bed, pooping in it all night.  I placed them on the roost as I lectured them, and put a couple young pullets alongside them for good measure.  
I'm getting ready to go out and milk Jody for the first time in ten days.  It feels good to get back to some semblance of my normal routine.  I have to say, Jenny the calf was very happy to dive into her stall last night.  Obviously she would rather spend a night away from her mother than to be forced to stay outside in the cold, wet slush-flakes.    
Oh, by the way, I've had one lonely little hummingbird hanging around the feeder for over a week.  I'll bet he wishes he hadn't gotten in such a hurry to migrate north!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Things seem to be going OK

Cliff's instructions were to take three five-minute walks daily.  He didn't want to do it because he's so weak and sore, but he's done two of his walks already today and admitted that the second one was easier than the first.  (Since I started this entry, he's taken yet another, longer walk.)  He wanted an egg for breakfast, but after one bite realized he did not want an egg after all.  This has happened to everything he's tasted since surgery, down to and including water.  He is forcing down the Ensure a couple of times daily, as much as he hates it.  He actually appeared to be enjoying a piece of toast he had for lunch, and is now eating a piece of toast with peanut butter.  Progress indeed.  
We are dealing with the Jackson-Pratt drain pretty well, although the plastic cup the hospital sent home with us for measuring purposes has disappeared, possibly in the depths of Cliff's brother's trunk.  It's OK, I have a measuring cup I'm using.  The nurse said I could record the amounts of the fluids in either CCs or ounces, so ounces it is.  
Cliff admits to some depression, but at present he is Web-surfing and looking pretty chipper.  Things are looking up.
I awoke this morning to find the cows in the little clover patch I allow them in sometimes.  I had not opened the gate, but they discovered a large gap in the fence overnight.  I'm not much of a fence-builder, but I dragged a cattle panel down there and covered the opening in the fence, using rusty baling wire to hold it in place.        

Cliff is home

I've been working on getting him to take some nourishment.  Per the doctor's advice, I bought some Ensure.  He was able to drink about two-thirds of a container last night, plus a little lower-sodium chicken noodle soup.  I've never heard of anyone who actually liked Ensure, but if he can force it down it will give him a lot of nourishment in a small serving.  The ride home was torture, and he had a hard time even getting out of the car once we were home.  Still, he is happy to be home, and I'm happy to have him here.  Today's challenge is to get him to take four five-minute walks inside the house.    
Our temperatures are going to plunge into the thirties today, so it looks like I had better cover up the two tomato plants and one pepper plant out in the garden one more time.  
I moved the two hens from their tiny chicken cottage to the chicken house (my old cabin) with the young chickens.  I'm sure there were some tussles and power struggles, but it's much easier to chore after them when they are all together.  Yesterday morning I went out before dawn with the flashlight to see which ones were on the roost, and NONE of them were, not even the grown hens.  So last night after dark I put the hens up there, and three or four of the youngsters.  This morning the hens and the little barred rock were the only ones roosting.  Cliff said, "Who cares if they sleep on the floor?  Leave them alone!"  
"Nope," says I.  "Chickens are supposed to sleep on their roost, and by george, that's what they are going to do."  

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


The procedure yesterday went well, and didn't cause Cliff any more discomfort that he was already experiencing except for a sore throat.  I'll be heading back to the hospital in a few minutes.  
I finally realize the doctors don't quite know what to do with this case; all they can do is try one thing and then another, and hope something works.  They are only human, and they're doing the best they can.  I applaud their efforts.  I can sense the word "if" when they explain what they are doing, even though they don't say it.  I have heard them say "We hope..." a couple of times.  
I hope and pray Cliff's battered body will begin to heal so that he can regain his appetite and once again enjoy life.  
Yesterday while he was awaiting his latest procedure, he said, "I can tell, when the nurses touch me, which ones really care."  
God bless caring nurses.  
Meanwhile, I have to be careful where I touch him because so many places hurt.    
I do a lot of updating on Facebook because it's so easy to make a short statement there.  This entry is for my readers who don't have Facebook.