Friday, July 29, 2022

The weather, and other short stories.

We received over one and a half inches of rain this week over a period of two days.  What a difference that made in our garden!  I had just planted beet seeds, carrot seeds, and turnip seeds when the rain came; I believe every one of those seeds came up, which is a lot different from the way it's been all summer.  And the green beans that had just started bearing now have beans twice as long as they were before.  So the health of my garden is much improved, except for certain vegetables for which rain came too late.  Every tomato plant has some degree of blight, but so far we're getting quite a few tomatoes.  I have forgiven the state of Iowa for taking all our rain away because the little girl we used to babysit has a grandmother in that great state who showed up with quite a large amount of very good sweet corn which I promptly took off the cob (after blanching) and froze at the very same time my own home-raised corn was ready.

Like the garden, I'm apparently healthy too.  I saw a cardiologist who instructed me to get an Electrocardiogram and to stop taking my water pill, which was one of two prescriptions I've been taking for high blood pressure.  He also told me to take my blood pressure standing up until my next appointment.  For some reason, my blood pressure improved!  In fact, my blood pressure monitor even stopped telling me my heartbeat was irregular, which it used to do about half the time when I took my blood pressure.  At my second (last) appointment the doctor informed me that my Aortic valve was functioning well enough that it definitely wasn't the cause of my light-headedness and almost passing out so often, so I had no reason to worry about it.  I'm just going to have to be more careful about getting up and hurrying someplace.  He explained it this way:  "We rate the condition of the aortic valve from 4, which is perfect, to 8, which is the  worst.  Yours is 4 1/2, and it took you 78 years to get to that point.  The bad news is, you won't get to see me any more."  He also told me not to go back to taking my water pill, since it obviously wasn't doing anything for me.

I liked the doctor, and now I don't have to worry about my frequent lightheadedness;  I just need to take my time after I get up from a sitting position.  So it's a win/win situation.  The good news?  I managed to get off all the stomach pills six months ago and can eat anything I want; now I'm only taking one prescription blood pressure pill (Amlodipine).  I only wish energy came in a bottle, because I'd like a little more of it... but that's how it is when you reach a certain age.

Now for Cliff:  He has lost almost all his hearing, practically overnight.  Suddenly he can't hear anything, no matter how loud I speak, even with both hearing aids in.  Since it came on so quickly, the ear doctor (whatever ridiculously long name those guys are given) had one thing to try; if that doesn't work, he will need a cochlear implant.  If a person loses his hearing all at once like Cliff did and gets to a doctor within a month, sometimes Prednisone will fix the problem (about 60% of the patients get relief that way).  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be doing anything for Cliff.  He'd had the deafness longer than than a month anyhow, more like six weeks.  But it was worth a try.  He is ready and willing to get the implant, and Medicare covers most of the expense.  He sees the doctor again this coming Tuesday.  It is not an instant fix.  I understand they don't even hook it up until a month after the implant.  But it is a solution to the problem.  What an age we live in!

We are going to St. Joseph, Missouri to watch the Kansas City Chiefs practice on Monday.  Cliff doesn't want to go, but he's happy to take me anyhow.  He said it isn't like they are playing a game, they just run around throwing and catching the ball.  I told him all I want is to see them once in my life in person, even if they are at a distance; this is the only way that will happen.

Covid is spreading quite a bit around here.  It's easier to catch this time, but everyone seems to be getting very mild cases, even those who have never had it.  I'll still wear my N95 mask when I shop, but I'm not going to worry a lot about it any more.  Actually it's been around so long, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it anyway.

And that's the way things are on this beautiful day.  Peace.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Maybe I complained too soon

I used to love reading books by Norman Vincent Peale because he was always so positive about things.  I first discovered him around the age of 13 when I checked out a book called "The Power of Positive Thinking for Young People".  I often remember little phrases and sayings of his, one of which was, "Don't think about what you don't have; just concentrate on what you HAVE."

Although I talked about some things I was thankful for in the last entry, I really wasn't very positive about my garden, so here's a do-over.

Yes, the tomato plants, all five of them, are blighty, some more than others.  But I neglected to mention the tomatoes we have right now, like these on the kitchen windowsill:

I don't know how long we'll have tomatoes to eat, but I'll stop worrying about it until we don't have any.

I brought these beets in to pickle.

Remember the okra plants that were so short?  I've watered them twice with the soaker hose, and they are growing taller, although still not higher than my head like usual.  We've had okra twice, once fried and once smothered (okra and tomatoes).  And I have more in the refrigerator.

I have faithfully watered the sweet corn I planted in hills, and things are looking good.  There isn't even a sign of bugs among the "tossels", as my dad used to call tassels.

There are some big ears of corn on those stalks.

Here's the sickly eggplant I bought for half-price.
I've carried a lot of water to it, and there are several blooms on it.

I'm telling you, folks, letting the cucumber vines climb a fence is the way to go!

I had a mystery plant growing on the fence in another spot.  I can now announce to you that it's a volunteer cantaloupe vine.

I've harvested most of my potatoes and onions.  Potatoes are in the two boxes in the foreground; the smaller box holds my favorite potatoes, Yukon Gold.  Laying on top of a big television box are the onions.

Yes, the potatoes are on the smallish side, but I do have plenty  of them.  Oops, I see a stray onion in the potato box.  

It's still going to be hot for quite a while, but that just gives us something to complain about... if we're going to complain, it may as well be about the weather.

Rest in peace, Norman Vincent Peale; your positive words are still guiding me.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

This is a year to learn

We are now in a serious drought, accompanied by a heat wave.  My garden has turned to dust.  To add to my woes, all five tomato plants are now blighty, even though it seems I did everything right.  I will get a few tomatoes before the plants die completely, but not many.  The okra plants, normally as high as my head at this time of year, are only about up to my  waist.  In order to see the harvest I have to bend over and look under the leaves.  Potatoes and onions are pitifully small.  Green beans have few seeds inside, and the green outside shell is thin and tasteless.  Even the soaker hose does little good.  The flowers are still doing well, as if to console me.  And isn't it strange that when there's no rain, the good plants suffer while the weeds continue to prosper?

So this is a year of learning through my mistakes and not letting the weather affect my spirits.  There is always next year.

I am reminded of Elijah, in the Bible, who went through a drought for three years along with the rest of Israel.  Finally one day he told the wicked King Ahab, "Go eat and drink, for a rainstorm is coming."  Then Elijah  went to the top of Mount Carmel, bowed to the ground, and prayed for rain.  Six times he sent his servant to look across the sea for a coming storm.  The servant saw only a clear sky, and Elijah kept praying.  The seventh time his servant came back and said, "I saw a little cloud the size of a man's hand rising from the sea."

By the way, I do not pray for rain.  The only time I pray about the weather is if it's so windy I think I may be about to blow away, and then I just pray we live through  it.  God doesn't need anybody to tell him what to do with the weather.  But I do love the story of Elijah.  And I confess, sometimes I look at the sky for a tiny cloud the size of a man's hand, wishing it would grow larger and bring rain.

There are things to be thankful for in the middle of a heat wave.  First of all, I'm glad we have air conditioning after being without it in our lives until 2008.  I'm also thankful for  the early morning hours before the sun rises high in the sky, when I can go outside and enjoy nature.  

I'm thankful for air-conditioned cars; I remember only too well when I was a little kid, riding with the windows down, wind blowing hot in my face and messing up mine and my mother's hair.  Dust rolled in on the wind till you could taste it;  since there were no freeways... only two-lane roads... if we got behind a cattle truck, we often had to stay behind them and put up with that awful smell until it was safe for my mom to get us past them (my dad hated to drive, so my mother always drove).  

I'm thankful both churches I attend have air conditioning.  Back at the little Eagleville Church of Christ, and Grandma's Zion Church out in the country, the only relief from heat was to open the windows and pass around the hand-held fans all funeral homes gave to churches, to advertise their services.   

I'm thankful we don't depend on what we grow in the garden; even with inflation, we still have enough money to buy groceries, plenty to keep us fat and sassy.  I'm thankful we aren't farming for a living, because the crops are going to suffer from this lack of rain.

So there you have it.  My thoughts about the weather.  You know what they say:  Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.


Thursday, July 07, 2022

Four days, six nights. Our son's visit.

Our son, his daughter, and granddaughter came from Georgia for their annual July visit.

Cliff with two great-granddaughters

Son and father walking to the barn to find scrap metal for their project

Our son and his son working on the project, a canopy to keep the sun off the tractor-driver's head     

 Granddaughter Mae helping me break beans from the garden on Monday.  I cooked them, drained them, and poured a home-made cheese sauce over them.  Mae ate a lot of them!

It's always a busy time when Jim comes.  I try to cook all his favorite things when he's here, so I did a lot of cooking.  It's worth it when it is appreciated, which it was.  I don't have a lot of big dinners, so I often wonder if I will be able to do a good job on the old recipes I seldom use.  I think I did fine this year.  I cooked a brisket before we had any guests, chilled the whole thing in the refrigerator, then sliced it thinly.  With my daughter's help, on Friday the whole crew had grilled brisket-and-cheese sandwiches.  She applied the mayo and added the meat and American cheese, then I buttered both sides and grilled them.  This is a family favorite that went a lot smoother with Rachel's help.  Two or three people had a second sandwich.  We went through more that a loaf of bread!  Saturday, the second of July, we had our big dinner out at Cliff's shop.  That's when other relatives (in-laws, cousins, ex-inlaws) and friends come and everybody brings food.  Sunday Rachel made Lasagna for our family, and Monday I cooked "Sunday dinner":  Noodles, roast beef, fresh green beans in cheese sauce, mashed potatoes, and gravy... with brownie pudding and ice cream for dessert.  The grandson didn't do fireworks this year; Gabe, Blue, and Mama Kitty were thankful for that.

There are some silly family feuds going on, so we don't get to see all of our great-grandchildren; but I won't let others' opinions ruin the relationships we still have.  I am too near the grave to let negative people spoil my peace.  And by the way, I'm not feuding with anybody!  No use worrying about people and things you can't control.

Speaking about being near the grave, I turned 78 years old today.  I got up this morning, sat down in a recliner, and went back to sleep.  When Cliff was trying to make coffee, I woke up and told him I'd do it (he always says the coffee isn't as good when he makes it).  So I picked up the can of Folgers, it slipped out of my hand, fell  on the floor where the lid popped off, and half  a can of Folgers coffee went all over the floor.  Happy birthday to me; I hope that isn't how the whole year will go.  Cliff asked me if there was any place he could take me for my birthday and I told him I wanted a rain check, since this day didn't start out right.  So at some point when the stars are aligned properly we will go to Joe's Kansas City Barbecue and eat ribs.