Thursday, April 1, 2021

Oh, haha.


I don't know if it's visible in the photo, but it is snowing.  Mother Nature's idea of an April Fool's joke?  I ain't laughing.

Also visible is the world's slowest-growing Amaryllis.  Thanks to limited natural light sources, I have to bunch up my indoor plants in two areas.  This is my small plant area.  The back of the house is where the gigundo plants live, bless their hearts.  

I am referring to this spring as the season of cosmic whiplash.  I have my disreputable down barn coat, rain jacket and medium weight jacket lined up by the door.  As are the high boots, low boots, rain boots, garden shoes and Yak-traks.  I have worn all of them at one time or another in the past week.  That doesn't include the couple of days that I celebrated the freedom of no socks and no jacket.  Good golly.  This uneven weather has made it a challenge to get anything done outside in the garden.  I did get a little raking done and hauled off the birch tree that used to house the wrens.  I knew it was rotten but had no idea how rotten it was.  During one of the many gale-like events we've had this spring, it came down with a crash that had all four of us jumping out of our respective beds.  

Speaking of beds, after all of the finagling to make sure that each of my pampered furry kids had the perfect bed, Slimmie has now decided that the folded pile of dog deck mats that were plopped on the storage chest by the back door is his and only his.  It really does remind me of the parents who spend tons of money on special toys, only to have their child prefer pots and pans and a cardboard box.

I am trying to entice the bluebirds to nest in their box that has been transferred from the rotten tree to a nice sturdy fence post.  No dice, so far.  I am sure they will become interested as soon as the wrens have moved in.  I have gone through my yearly quota of sunflower seeds (80#!) and suet blocks (15!) and am now rationing the more expensive and less messy hulled sunflower seed mix that I usually save for the glamour birds of spring.  I did forget to take the last of the suet blocks in at night and was not totally surprised that it was missing in the morning.  I'm glad I have back-ups.  The bears are on the move!

This is also the time of year that I start out all dewy-eyed with the chipmunks, putting special treats out for the ONE that always pops up on the deck.  By the end of spring, I am cursing the horde that gorges itself on the chicken feed.  I will never learn.

On the subject of hordes, I am not looking forward to the horde of cicadas that are due to emerge this year.  I still remember the swarms of tent caterpillars that covered tree trunks, rocks and house  during the second summer I lived here.  At least they were quiet.  Of course, the 'songs' of the cicadas might drown out the incessant rumbling of gravel trucks rolling their dust tsunamis across the front of the house.  It's going to be a fun summer.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Ahh (ack!) Spring!

I woke to what was to be the third sunny day in a row - can spring really be settling in?  Or is it another Farch joke?   I could hear the piercing calls of the two resident male cardinals, voice-mapping their territories.  I had two cups of coffee!

While there is not exactly a spring in my step (hip number two is scheduled for an overhaul in mid-May), I was seriously contemplating work in my emerging garden.  With the dogs, cat, sheep, llama, and chickens fed, I snapped the ice tip out of the way on my cane, opened the door, stepped out on the front deck, tottered down the ramp to the garden, raised my face to the sun, closed my eyes and took a deep breath.  At the exact moment four dump trucks (two going in each direction) hurtled down the road in front of the house, kicking up a tsunami of road-salt dust, that proceeded to roll up my front yard.  My neighbor immediately fired up his chainsaw and commenced cutting down his woodland.  A school bus rolled by, kicking up more dust.  A dented Honda with no muffler roared by with the bass turned up loud enough to trigger the Richter scale.  As I beat a semi-hasty retreat to the house, I was reminded of that character actor that walked with a stiff leg and rapidly moving elbows.  Yeehaw.

I went back inside, shut the door and made a third cup of coffee.  And considered spiking it with something adult.

I resigned myself to enjoying the day on the back deck and, as I stepped through the sliding glass door - a very immature red tailed hawk careened past me and bounced off the glass.  I froze - along with the chickadees on the feeder.  He/she took a break on a nearby sumac tree to catch his/her breath and that started chicken hysteria.  I shooed him/her away, turned around and went back in the house.  I believe the chickadees are still frozen on the feeder.  I have put a load of laundry in to wash, feeling that it's the only safe thing I can do, presently.

It looks like spring will be ... interesting.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Fresh bread fumes and the joy of a really good book.

Perreca's has been around for 
over 100 years

Yes, I'm back in the bread delivery saddle!  It was very nice to be able to arrive at the bakery at the crap of dawn and still be able to see.  It was also nice not to have to battle slush, ice and snow.  As a matter of fact, it was so warm that I contemplated rolling down the car windows on the way back, but didn't want to lose the glorious warm bread fumes.  Perreca's is on a small side street dubbed "Little Italy", lined with brick-faced row houses and a smattering of little shops.  Italian pastries, small restaurants, a day spa (!) and Perreca's bakery.  Maria was happy to see me and we traded joint replacement war stories.  Perreca's is the kind of narrow, high-celiinged store that has all kinds of wonderful Italian treasures from floor to ceiling and all the signs are hand-written.  Oooooh, I love it!

I have been pretty much stuck on audio books for the past few years - it's the only way I can claim to multi-task (knitting/listening).  While I have listened to a lot of good books, the really good books are few and far between.  One of them was "News of the World" - as much as I love Tom Hanks, I have no desire to see a saccharine version of this wonderful book - and now I have a new one to add to my short list.  "The Thursday Murder Club" was highly recommended by the New York Times Book Review - which, in my case, is the knell of death.  I am so glad I listened to regular reader reviews!  I borrowed it from the library (hurrah for the Libby App!) and I managed to string it out to two and a half days.  Only because I didn't want it to end.  It has everything I love:  a great narrator, murder(s), fabulous characters that I felt I knew after the first hour, comedy, just enough plucking of the heart-strings, wonderful dialogue, a few red herrings.  I was quite bereft when it ended.  Then I listened to an interview with the author that was included with the recording.  There is another book coming!!!  O, frabjous day - callooh!  callay!  

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Farch has arrived. There were no lambs involved.

The first day of March involved a high temperature of 48 degrees, a low temperature of 7 degrees, rain, snow and high winds.  The only thing missing was the plague of locusts, but I have heard that the cicadas will be entertaining us all summer.  Joys abound.

I was awakened at 3 in the morning by the roaring sounds of ice floes sliding off the metal roof.  Ker-chunk!  By the time I dragged myself out of bed, there was an ice dam on the front deck, blocking my exit.  Thank goodness for a back door!  I did manage to get all the outside chores done, but had to walk twice as far and navigate two sets of stairs.  My hips, knees and overall framing has not been getting that much action for quite a while, so I was pooped by the time I got in.  I also found that my rain jacket had let me down.  I was damp from head to toe.  

I did manage to move the ice blocks and I think the worst of the ice fall is over.  I sure hope so.  As far as I can tell, there was only one bending of the roof vents - let's hope that little problem has been fixed.  

My Covid vaccination is scheduled!  Because my doctors are all in Vermont, I did not have to wade through the miasma of nonsensical vaccination scheduling in my home state of NY.  I have heard reports of people in their 70s and 80s having to drive over three hours to a vaccination site.  I am just scooting up to Bennington (where I scooteth every weekend) to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by getting shot number one.  I just got the second shot of my shingles vaccination this past Thursday, so I had to be sure I gave myself at least two weeks in between.  Having witnessed my mother, aunt and many friends' painful journey through shingles, I was more than happy to give myself some protection.

While my environment certainly is NOT showing signs of spring, the hens must be hooked into a deeper stream.  Or one of them understood the 'fricassee' reference I've been using all winter.  I was shocked to find five eggs in their nesting boxes!  My nonagenarian neighbors will be getting a gift box of eggs in their mailbox.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

I wanted to drive the Karma bus, not be a passenger.

I am happy to report that my progress is ongoing and rather seamless.  There seems to be only one snag - all the abuse that was heaped on the other hip/knee/leg has made itself known.  As one side strengthens, the other side goes south.  At least I will know what to expect on the next bionic implant.  Pfft.

Slimmie is aces at ignoring winter.

My attendance at PT sessions has been steady and, according to Ashlee, my 12 year old therapist, I am making great progress.  Her preternatural perkiness and sweetness hides a will of steel.  If I start to whine, she grips her clipboard, dimples and says, "let's just do eight more."

I have taken over all my outdoor chores - and I am certain I heard shouts of joy coming from the direction of my neighbor's house.  The sheep looked at me suspiciously, the llama was happy to hear my voice (graham crackers) and I am starting to feel like normalcy is within reach.   Whatever normal will be.  Now, if the snow would just stop falling.  Yesterday was my first full day - sheep feeding, chicken tending, post office visiting, and trash hauling.  I was exhausted but happy.

Lovey wouldn't mind an early spring.

In a conversation with a friend about our retirements - she and I both retired last year - she, willingly, with lots of foresight and planning, while mine was foisted upon me, with lots of whining and fussing and little planning - we both agreed that, thanks to Covid, it was hard to distinguish between retirement and quarantine.  Or, at least, it was hard to grasp that we are retired.  I still have dreams about forgetting to clock out or in at work.  I'm placing all my hope apples in the spring basket, so to say.  I've gone through all my seeds and have started making lists.  Lists always make me feel so organized and in charge.  Ha.

Peanut just wants to know 
if it's time for dinner.  It's not.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Home. Alone. With my mystical toothpaste and magical pillow.

My apologies for taking so long to resurface. Again.  I have been adjusting to being on my own and sorting out the on-taking of my day-to-day chores.  After bidding a tearful goodbye to my middle sis (Peanut and Lovey stared out the window for hours, not believing that she had really gone), I muddled about for a few days.  Most of the activity centered around finding where the girls had relocated kitchen items.  Apparently, I have morphed into an OCD person, having to have my little red handled knives in their place, the water pitcher just so.  While I still have the QE3 (aka walker) and cane at hand, I am slowly and surely starting to get about without accouterments.  I only stagger a little.

I have taken on the chicken tending activities and hope to be fully functional by the end of this week, dammit.  I am sure my neighbor will be popping open the bubbly when that happy event occurs.  What a gem.  The only downside is that each appearance of my neighbor (the same neighbor, wearing the same outer clothing, driving the same car) drives the dogs into maniacal throes of barking.  This is especially hard on the nerves when he makes four trips over.  He makes four trips over because he is 85 and does things in steps.  We are now to the point where he only comes once in the morning and as needed for snow removal (it's snowing as I type).  The chickens were happy to see me and I, them.  There's no one like mom.

My PT has started and I have a list of exercises to perform at home.  This is a good thing, as we have had ice, snow, sleet, wind and more snow, every other day.  Interspersed with frigid temps.  Our next storm is starting now and building up overnight into tomorrow.  The chances of my making it to PT tomorrow are slim.  I have plenty of food (but no one but me to cook it, boohoo) and, other than PT and a few doctor appointments, there is no reason to leave.

As we segue off in a totally different direction....

I have been on an off-and-on search for toothpaste that does not involve mint flavoring.  That's led me to children's toothpaste - mango and strawberry; yummo, but a whole lotta sugar.  What's up with that? - to tea tree oil, which was reminiscent of brushing one's teeth in the woods, using a pine branch - to baking soda.  Blech, just blech.  Then, quite by chance, I stumbled on Tom's of Maine's Propolis and Myrrh toothpaste.  I could have turned to their cinnamon flavor, but the sheer oddity of the ingredients attracted my wacky side.  And, let's face it, both of my sides are wacky.  I now enjoy a mystical experience every time I brush my teeth.  Who can ask for more?  

As you can surmise, two weeks under constant surveillance and care did not put even the tiniest dent into my own particular (or peculiar) life bubble.  Having solved the toothpaste dilemma, I immediately turned to the pursuit of the perfect pillow.  I have been through buckwheat, foam, foam with gel, bamboo, fiberfil, fiberfil plus.  I feel like the proverbial princess with her pea problem, if you will forgive the reference.  Nothing produced the quality of slumber that I daydreamed about.  One night, a few days before surgery, I grabbed one of the shammed pillows (used just for frou-frou-ness) and shoved it under my head.  Out like a light.  In the morning, waking from a deep and painless sleep, I beheld the feather pillow behind the sham.  I was on my Amazon account before my first cup of coffee and am the happy owner of two pristine goose down pillows.  Let's hope my luck holds but, deep in my heart, I think that pillows are fickle.

I am celebrating every day that the minimal pain I enjoy is based on whipping my muscles into shape and not the soul-crushing pain of collapsing hip joints.  I have lots of projects to tackle inside, while I wait for winter to disappear.  I have a garden to plan.  I have retirement to wrap my head around.  I have mountains to climb, ships to sail and lots of knitting projects.  I also have a LOT of catching up to do with friends who keep checking on me, bless 'em.  

Friday, January 29, 2021

She's Alive! She's Alive!

Just popping in to let you all know that I came through the hip replacement with flying colors.  The only side effect seems to be cotton in the brain.  I was able to hold onto my outpatient status - in at 5:45A and home by 4P.  I had excellent care and can't say enough good things about the surgeon, staff or facilities.  They proclaimed me their star outpatient case, which puffed me up no end.  

I was walking and able to go up one step about two hours after coming to.  I can only complain about one thing.  My sister cooks too well.  And she is too compassionate and thoughtful.  Boohoo, poor me.  The night before surgery, she made squash tumeric ginger soup and mushroom cheese risotto.  When I got home, she had made a chicken tangine with rice.  Yesterday, she made roasted duck with orange balsamic sauce, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.  And a cranberry pie.  Today is salmon with pea shoot salad.  I don't think I can stand it, but I'm going to try.  She has also vacuumed the house, cleaned all the kitchen countertops, cleaned the Cat Cave, and and is contemplating the inside of oven door.

I'm being handed off to my second sister on Sunday, who will continue the queen treatment for yet another week.  How will I be able to survive on my own after all this wonderfulness?

Monday, January 11, 2021

The JimJam Conundrum

 For as long as I can remember, I have been a JimJams for sleepwear proponent.  JimJams, pjs, whatever one calls them, allowed me to blur the line between inside and outside wear.  Of course, that was BL (before livestock), when all I needed to do on a weekend was to make a bagel/Sunday Times run.  I could literally stay in my JJs from Friday night to Monday morning.  It almost makes me weepy to think about it.  Even now, when the likelihood of doing barn chores in my JJs is slim to none, I tend to stay in my sleepwear for as long as possible.  Then the hip gave out.  Suddenly, the mere idea of having to put on/take off JJ bottoms can have me thinking of going au natural in the middle of winter.  I have - very begrudgingly - turned to nightgowns.

Having not given a thought to them for decades, I had to do some research.  I knew I did NOT want flannel. I am not Laura Ingalls and, by the time I am done tossing and turning on my fleece or flannel sheets, I would be bound as tightly as a geisha's foot.  And was I ever shocked at the prices!  I much prefer natural fibers - cotton, wool, linen - so I bought one cotton and one cotton blend.  On sale.  With free shipping.  When I slipped on the cotton nightgown, I was immediately reminded of Uncle Fester.  Or, Uncle Fester joins the Army, as it is an Army-like green.  It went from neck to toes in a long, shapeless green tube.  But it is comfy and the dogs could care less about my lack of fashion sense.  The second one was tres chic and I had an overwhelming desire to sashay all over the place.  Until I realized that my present version of 'sashay' is more of a slow, crablike gait, entirely lacking in graceful moves.  

I am not sure that this switch in my nightwear allegiance will outlast its present convenience.  It is awfully nice to be able to get ready for bed in minutes, rather than 10s of minutes.  And there is a little Gloria Swansonesqueness (whoa!) about the idea of sashaying around in a nightgown, when my sashay comes back.  Plus, I can always pull on a pair of jeans under the nightgown and go do chores!  Woot!  Woot!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Older, yes, but wiser?

 There appears to be a cutoff date for age=wisdom and I have arrived.  Before you contest - "Oh, no, no, no, no.  You're such a smart cookie" (you were going to say that, right?) - let me lay out my case.

My sister provides a wealth of chicken goodies every visit.  I decided, in my 'wisdom', to put it all into a small, covered bucket with handle, so it's easier for me to manage one-handed (second hand has a death grip on my cane).  So far, so good.  I also have to carry a bucket of water in the same hand.  Hmmm.  Light bulb! (and what a dim bulb it was)  I will float the smaller bucket in the water bucket, thus having one bucket to carry!

Off I totter to the chicken yard, practically glowing with smugness.  Until I discovered that the covered bucket had small holes drilled around the bottom for gawdknowswhat reason.  Soggy treats and flavored water.

My neighbor, bless him, continues to make sure that all snow is shoveled off deck and paths.  With our wacky weather (rain/snow/rain/snow), most of the walkways have developed a treacherous layer of ice.  As I prepared to make the daily trek to the mailbox, I briefly thought about footwear/ice.  Then, poof, it was gone.  Out I went.  If I could have clocked my progress, it would have been about 1 mile per 2 hours.  I minced my way across the yard as far as I could go - heading toward grassy/crunchy spots.  Then there was the driveway - a virtual river of ice.  I ratcheted down my progress and contemplated levitating.  I eventually made it to the mailbox and then had to make my way back.  Yak-Traks for cane bottoms should be a thing.

Let me add here that I have Yak-Traks.  And they are conveniently set out by the boots.  However, I thought it was wise to set off over the tundra in my moderately skid-proof boots.  I rest my case.

To add insult to injury, I was recounting my adventure to the mailbox to my sister, comparing my progress as the graceful gait of a three-toed sloth (trying to smooth over the lack of sense by focusing on a much nicer visual aid), when she said, "Oh, I think it's creepy the way they move."  Okay.  Sloths are creepy, snails are slimy and hermit crabs move faster than I do.  Any suggestions?