We Surrender!

Well, no we don’t , but those words did come from Ed’s mouth yesterday as we were leaving for a day trip to Independence.

As I walked out the back door, I looked out across our front pasture. None of the pastures were mowed last fall, and they are  overgrown. Something caught my attention, and I went back into the house for the camera. A plastic grocery bag, caught by the wind, was caught in a bare sapling. As Ed and Katherine turned to see what I was photographing, Ed laughed and said, “We surrender!”.  I had to admit, the bag did look like a white flag.

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See the white spot in the middle of the picture?

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Here’s  a closeup

We all had a giggle and got in the car.

Let me back up a minute. Night before last, late in the evening, we had a thunderstorm. Yes, that’s right. A thunderstorm in January, in northern Missouri. I didn’t see any lightning, but I did hear the thunder and the rain. It poured!  So, yesterday morning, everything was pretty soggy. On top of that, the weather must have remembered where it was, because it was windy and getting colder by the minute.

As we made our way along 116, Ed said that it looked like we might be going into some fog. We’ve had a lot of fog lately, so I really didn’t think that much about it until a few miles later. The air became cloudier and I had a moment when my mind had to make a small shift and remind me that fog does not blow across the road…no, snow does that.

Ed asked if I thought we should turn around. I didn’t, and we were out of it in a few miles.

The rest of the day went pretty much as planned, and we got home in the mid afternoon.

The dogs met Ed as he got out of the car. Then Meeko decided he should come across the driver’s seat to say hello to me. While Kat and I carried in groceries and other things, Ed went to plug the hole. It didn’t take long.  They have found a new place, but Ed will have to get more pallets before he can fix it permanently.

I think Ed is right about the free roaming dogs being the major catalyst behind the escapes, but I also think they might get a little bored. Let’s be honest, they have nothing but time when it comes to figuring out how to escape.

Kat and I have slowly eased back into school after the holidays, and this last week, in Biology, we looked at fungi.  We collected two different types from outside, as well as a mushroom from the fridge. She was able to get some spore samples and look at them under the microscope. Her overall takeaway is “Mushrooms are cool!” Next week, we move on to sea life. We’ll be starting some dissection soon. I’m not sure how well she will take to that.

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The three specimens

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Investigator Kat

Ed and I went to the monthly bee club meeting on Monday, and Ed was able to order new bees. They should be here in April.

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Connie

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Damage Control and Starting Over

That is how I would describe the last few months on the homestead. Kind of like one step forward and 250 steps back.

When we first started this blog, our thought was to chronicle our journey into homesteading while we deal with the challenges of getting older, as well as dealing with a teenager who has challenges of her own. The challenges seem to have taken over, and there hasn’t been much growth on the homestead. That includes keeping up the blog, and for that, we apologize.

When I started to write this post, I had to look over the pictures I did manage to take over the last four months to give me some perspective and see that there was some progress, albeit not nearly as much as I would have liked.

I’ve been scooter and crutch free since the end of October, but I still have a lot of pain and stiffness. I don’t have much stamina and tire easily. The doctor said it could be six months total before I am completely healed, so we are looking at another six weeks or so. The Lord must really think I need to work on my patience!

Ed’s work schedule leaves him unavailable four days a week, with the other three days for trying to catch up. It’s not working out all that great, especially since he has to spend at least part of the time finding and fixing the new dog escape route. That deserves its own blog post, but let’s just say that Meeko meets us at the back door nearly every morning now. Libby has got out several times too, but she insists on digging her way out and Meeko just finds new places to go over. Apparently, he has forgotten that is how he dislocated his hip last winter.

The garden was mostly a bust; and what wasn’t, mostly rotted on the vine. We did collect a few tomatoes, and I did manage to make some bread and butter pickles from the over sized cucumbers. I found the recipe here (You have to scroll down the page a little to get to the recipe). They were really good, and I am not a big fan of bread and butter pickles.

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Romas

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Lost in the jungle!

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Finished Pickles

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I know it’s hard to tell, but this is basil. I hope I get some volunteer next year.

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Awesome Elephant Ears. I think I was supposed to dig them up before it froze. Too late now.

The first week that I was able to get about without the crutches, I decided that Kat and I would harvest the sunflower seeds The same day Ed decided to start clearing the fence row between the yard and front pasture. We both worked about two hours and I pretty much wiped myself out. From Ed’s side of it, when he quit for the day, there was a spot where you could actually tell there is a pasture on the other side of the fence.

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Sunflowers off the front porch

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Sunflower heads

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Seeds and Chaff

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Ed in the fence row

The okra continued to grow into November. We had a super mild fall and only recently have had freezing temperatures. I decided to just let it dry on the vine in hopes of collecting seeds and using the dried pods for art projects…They are still out there.

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Okra “Fingers”

We collected quite a bit of honey, and even sold some locally, but then the hives were infested with hive beetles and the bees died. So, we are working on cleaning up the hives in hopes of getting new bees in the spring.

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Dead bees on the hive bottom

A few weeks ago, Ed, James, and Kat, built the new chicken coop. We officially have three roosters and two hens. The jury was out on Hoppy’s gender for quite a while, but his crowing made it official. Since we discovered that a single rooster’s amorous tendencies are more than one hen should handle, we decided to separate the girls from the boys, by building a split coop. The plan was to run fencing between the two sides, but the weather caught up with us. The first night the roosters all stayed in the same coop, Sunny attacked Moony and Hoppy. There was a LOT of blood. So now,  Sunny stays in “time out” in the old coop, while everyone else seems to be getting along fine, at present, in the new one. Yes, we know we still have one rooster too many with the hens, and that really, there needs to be more hens for the one rooster. We’re working on that. The girls, particularly Scarlet, did start laying eggs this fall, but they have stopped now. We got a couple dozen fresh eggs anyway.

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The New Coop. Notice there are two drop down doors. Only one is open.

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Shingles we found in the garage when we moved in. Just right for the chicken coop!

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Hoppy the Rooster

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Eggs!

So what else happened since July? In August, James had a relapse of sorts and is back on probation. Bam Bam got married in September. I turned 53 in October and Ed turned 66 last week. James and I have both had to deal with some Bi Polar issues and we’ve all dealt with a stomach bug that cost Ed a week’s work. That, of course, caused us some financial strain, but the Lord took care of us, just like He always does.

On a positive note, school is going pretty well this year. We finished a study of ancient Greece and have moved on to Rome. In American History we are finishing up the “Gilded Age”(1877-1912ish) and have formed strong opinions about Herman Melville’s writing.  Have you ever actually read Moby Dick?  Now, only morbid curiosity makes us keep reading.

Katherine has discovered a handicraft that actually sparks her interest: candle making! We did manage to get some bee’s wax, so we will be playing with some of that.

Although I plan to get back to consistent posting, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up with it until after the holidays. If I can’t, Ed and I  both want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year.

Connie

 

Holding On (By the Skin of My Teeth)

Last Thursday, July 21, Connie had her heel and Achilles Tendon operated on. She will not be able to put weight on that leg for three months. That would be approximately 13 weeks, or 91 days. If you really want to know exactly what your partner does around the old place, put them off line for about a week.

Yeah, all that stuff.

So this last week I have worked 40 plus hours, put at least one real meal a day on the table, tried to make certain Connie was comfortable, did the minimums to keep the critters alive, had an occasional talk with the Lord God and slept. That would be about it. Had Katherine not enlisted to take care of her mother some of the time, I might not have been able to do that. On top of that, I am just not pleased when people start cutting on the love of my life. Makes me kinda want to punch them, but that does not seem appropriate in this case.

So the first week is about over. We have a follow-up with the doctor tomorrow, and Connie is beginning to get around a little better. After waking up early this morning to finish cutting my knee high lawn, and fighting back the rag weed and various poisonous prehistoric plants that are taking over my dog lot, I fell out for a nap. I woke up to find the dishes I had washed after dinner last night put up, the new dishes on there way to clean and a plate of French Toast and bacon courtesy of Connie and Katherine waiting for me. Thank you both.

Speaking about the lawn. Let me continue a little about things I would have done differently when I started this little experiment in Green Acres-ism. No matter how tough and resilient you might think you are, if you have an acre yard (plus or minus) you do need a riding lawn mower and a gas powered weed eater.

At least, if you are in your later years and have any intentions of doing things other than cut your lawn. If not a riding mower, I would suggest goats. That does not mean you need a high dollar rider. I bought mine used from a friend for $250.00. The gas trimmer I got at Lowes for about seventy bucks. (Lowes has a 10 percent discount for military veterans; bless their hearts.)

I set out on this adventure with my 5 HP push mower and an electric weed eater. From the closest outlet, which is just inside the front door, to the farthest point of my front yard is about 175 or so feet. I needed the gas weed eater. And I really got tired of taking two plus days to mow the lawn. Also, this next year I am planning to get a wagon I can pull behind the mower, to do some chores around the place.

Another answer that is a work in progress, is just getting rid of the lawn entirely. We are working on planting it in an edible garden, but that is Connie’s project and she is in no shape to work on it right now..

The bees are going like gang busters. We have harvest a gallon of honey from each hive and they are still full to overflowing. I am going to have to get at least one more super or rob them again this next week. Maybe both.

As I said, I am involved in a project to cut down and kill a very intimidating forest of weeds that are growing, well…. I guess like weeds. To supplement the physical labor of cutting down these monsters I wanted something that would kill the beggars while not poisoning my dogs, chickens, bees or land for a couple more generations.

I had heard of something and looked it up. This is the basic recipe that I am following.

Take one gallon of cheap old white vinegar, pour it in a bucket. Add one cup of table salt and stir it up well. To that add one tablespoon of dish washing liquid to make the stuff stick better and stir that in. Put your product in a closed, marked container and put some it in a spray bottle and spray your plants.

I cannot endorse this recipe yet and it is indiscriminate, it kills the good stuff with the bad if it works as advertised. Connie or I will report back to you on it, when we know how it works.

I will close this rambling post. I hope something in it is interesting and helpful in your walk. Any prayers for my lovely wife will be appreciated. Also, I will put all you folks on my prayer list. Don’t worry, I don’t mind if you don’t believe in God, He believes in you.

The night before they took my love in for the operation, I slept very little. At the hospital in Chilicothe, Mo. Just before the operation, Connie, Katherine and I joined hands and prayed. When I looked up the nursing staff and the Doctor were in prayer with us.

Next, after we had to go out, Kat and I went for breakfast in the cafeteria. At our table we joined hands and blessed our food. I have an old soldier’s awareness of what is around me, so I knew that the tables next to ours and the people walking by stopped while we prayed.

I love the country.

Spoiled Rotten Roosters

Yes, I know it’s been a long dry spell again. Sometimes, life just happens and there are only so many hours in the day. Most of my focus the last month or so has been on home school, and changing some things that just weren’t working. I think we’ve settled most of that and are getting back into a routine.

Additionally, a young friend of ours from church was diagnosed with stage four sarcoma, and we have spent a lot of time not only in prayer for him, but also in helping get the word out about a benefit to help defray some of the expenses involved in his treatment. The benefit is this weekend, and I am also happy to report that he is doing well after a third chemo treatment.

Then, James’ dog, Loki, aka “little psycho grand dog”, was killed by a neighbor’s dog. We all spent a few days between “mad” and “sad” and back to “mad” again. Loki is now buried in the pasture next to Marshmellow. It’s very quiet in the house.

As Ed told you, we bought bee hives and ordered bees last month. His work schedule has left him little time to work on much of anything on the homestead. Often, when he has day off, we spend it running errands that take both of us. So the hives are still sitting in the garage, disassembled. He did get the gate put up for the new chicken coop. I don’t think he really sees the humor in my calling it, “the gate to nowhere”.

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The Gate to Nowhere

We’re all just kind of worn out. Except the roosters. They are just fine! Usually, I don’t get to see Katherine interact with them, because I am in the house tending to other early morning chores when she goes out. Sometimes, I do though, and I even got some pictures and video. I have come to the conclusion that we have two absolutely spoiled rotten roosters! I can’t post the video here, so I will share it on our Facebook page this evening.

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Sunrise (Sunny)

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Moonrise (Moony)

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The Dastardly Duo

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Kat and Sunny

We ran an errand to Chillicothe yesterday and got back about dark, so Kat went to put the roosters up. They were already in the coop when she went out there, but came running out as soon as they saw her. She caught Moony, and was talking to him, when Sunny pecked her on the leg!

I think he was jealous!

Last week, I was watching them out the window, when I saw a squirrel come up to the far side of the fence. It scurried around to the gate, apparently with the idea it could squeeze through and get some of that corn. Suddenly there were two very interested roosters at the gate, and the squirrel changed his mind. It’s amazing how entertaining chickens can be.

We are definitely seeing an early spring here. The lilies are coming up.

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pushing up

I hope to get back to posting consistently, so, Lord willing, we’ll talk to you again next week.

Connie

She’s Comin’ Alive

The title to this post is a quote from a book called Education of Little Tree written by Forest Carter. It is a book about a little boy who was raised by his Grandfather and Grandmother in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. Grandma was a Cherokee and Grandpa was a moonshiner.

I am from the Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains and, was partially raised by Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa was the one who was half Cherokee and was also a moonshiner, though retired by the time I came along. Can you see why this wonderful little book is a favorite of mine?

In the book, Grandpa takes Little Tree up the mountain to watch the dawn and, as the sun peaks across the distant mountains to the east leaving paintbrush streaks of pinks and yellows, Grandpa whispers, “She’s comin’ alive.”

What a wonderful description of a dawn. I have always been a fan of dawns, the end of rainstorms and the winter solstice. Those times when you can see, taste and smell rebirth. You ask why I add the winter solstice. From that day on until summer solstice days are getting longer, light is conquering and rebirth has begun. From the time I realized that in the middle of December’s snow the day that the world turns back to the light dawns I have always been amazed by it.

But I have digressed far enough; I wanted to write about what I do in the morning. I learned a long time ago that how you start is how you finish. So I have tried to design a way where I start my morning well. I suggest to you that people need a set time at which they rise and a routine which they follow in the morning. As Mr. Emerson tells us, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” However, an inconsistent morning routine generally leads me back to bed.

Done right my morning goes something like this:

At a time between six and seven in the morning (my goal is seven hours sleep) I rise. Normally I beat the alarm clock awake by five to ten minutes. On the morning I do not beat the alarm clock awake, I beat it against the end table. I never said it was all sweetness and light.

After a certain amount of absolutions, the first goal is coffee. Oh, you are against the ingestion of caffeine? How interesting; go away. Many years ago grandma would give me coffee; actually it was brown tinted sugary milk. Grandpa saw me drinking it and grumbled, “Man who drinks cream in his coffee has got lace on his pants.” That was that. I like my coffee blacker than my sins and stronger than my convictions.

Once I have some coffee I go to my desk if, of course, I can find it under the pile of papers. Once I have located my calendar and journal I check what I did for devotions yesterday, and plan my devotions for today. I start each morning with a chapter in the Bible, a round with my memory verses and a prayer.

Let me rephrase that, I TRY to start each morning that way. Sometimes Life gets in the way. The priority in those cases is prayer first, Bible chapter second and memorization third. Some days it gets down to GOD IN HEAVEN HELP ME!!! But that is still a prayer isn’t it?

After prayers I do my exercises. I am at that awkward age where I am old enough that polite young people offer to lift and carry for me, but I am still young enough to want to tell them to stick it. Actually thinking about it, all my ages have been awkward ages.

Be that as it may, I can really say that I do the same daily dozen I did when I was in Basic Training. The Daily Dozen is twelve different exercises with twelve four count repetitions. When I say that, it is the truth. What I do not mention is I do them a LOT slower, and the getting down and standing up is sometimes problematic.

I do the Daily Dozen every other day and on the off day I do basic stretches. This includes static stretches and some active stretches, along with some work from my martial arts and defensive tactics days.

On either day I tend to creak and pop a lot. Sometimes this does not work quite right, or that seems to have a kink in it, but I drive on completely convinced that pain really is the feeling of weakness leaving the body. It’s not flashy and it is not really cool, but I attribute some of my greatest accomplishments to my exercise program. For instance, walking up right and being able to scratch my head.

After two cups of coffee, two glasses of water, my devotions, and my exercises, I start on my chores, the first of which is waking up my chore partners. Connie’s day normally starts with me coming to her bedside with a cup of steaming coffee, at which time she smiles up at me. I sometimes suspect she is smiling at the coffee but why bicker?

After some passing affection, (you don’t think that coffee is free, do you?) I go wake up Chicken Girl. That is what I call her in the morning because her main morning chore is seeing to the chickens. She really is quite good at it, but I wonder how long that will last when two pet roosters turn into twenty assorted chickens, and Sonny and Moony turn into “that one and that other one over there”. We will see.

Back in the house, Connie and I prepare for the dog feeding. This includes dry food we get from a local producer, sometimes wet food, when medicine is involved, scraps (right now I have two chicken livers left that I made for dinner which are going to make a couple very happy dogs) and water.

When the weather is good, and the spirit is right, next comes a walk with Connie and the dogs around the place. This is always fun, and I was thinking this morning we are overdue one. The last couple morning I really felt like a romp with them and, had it not been for snow and a wind that would cut diamonds, I just might have done it.

Back inside we get our own breakfast together and then proceed with the rest of the day.

The point to all this is not that it is best to start your day my way; it is that a realistic routine that gets you up on your feet in the morning is good for everybody. After you have your day started, then you have to face the rest of the day. The best advice I ever found for that comes from the great Mark Twain. It is as follows: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

By the way, Connie and I have looked at this bundle of books, Back to Basics Living Bundle. I have looked through some of it and plan to give a lot of it, the Bee Keeping for instance, a thorough going over.

Take Care and God Bless

Ed

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Catching Up…Again

Where does the time  go?  I just keep losing track of it!

I know Ed was working on a post, but he got sidetracked too.

For both Ed and I, our focus lately has been on prayer for our friend and brother in the Lord, twenty-five year old Taylor Finley who started intensive chemotherapy this last week for stage four sarcoma. Our little town has come together in a big way to support him, but it is even more amazing what God has done through Taylor’s illness. If you follow us on Facebook, you can read all about him there.

As I told you last week, Kat and I started school again, so most of my day is tied up with that.  I love Charlotte Mason’s methods, but my visual-spatial daughter has some struggles with it, so we are needing to switch things up a bit.

The weather cannot decide what time of year it is.  Thursday, it was 55 degrees. James and I did some work on the cold frame…outside…without coats…in January.  Currently it is 25 degrees, and the low for tomorrow is supposed to be -3. There is a chance of snow and ice over the next few days too.  Kat and I brought some more wood in the house tonight just in case we need it. Pray for the best; prepare for the worst! That doesn’t mean that we don’t believe God will take care of us; it means that we understand that His idea of “best” isn’t always the same as ours!

The roosters finally came out of the coop, but I’m sure they’ll be “hibernating” again now.  Ed is working on plans to create a second coop so that we can keep both roosters. I’ll let him tell you about all that though. Maybe Monday.

Our last round of bad weather included more ice than snow and when the weather warmed, sheets of ice started slowly sliding off our roof. One day I was in the bedroom and I hard a loud rapping sound coming from outside. It kind of sounded like a woodpecker, and kind of not. I looked out the bedroom window, but didn’t see anything. I heard it again, so I went to look out the front door. That’s when I noticed the ice. The rapping was coming from directly over my head, so I went out onto the sidewalk to see the front of the house. From there, I  could tell the ice sheet had covered the gutter. The bird was trapped in the gutter. I went to get Ed. As he started to tell me that he didn’t know what we could do about it, the bird escaped from the end of the gutter.

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Looking straight up from the porch

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From the sidewalk

By the way, have you checked out the Back to Basics Living bundle yet? There really is a ton of great stuff in there. If you were to buy everything individually, you would have to pay over $500.00, but from the January 18-24 (next week), you can get it all for less than $50.00!

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I shared a little about the homeschooling part of the bundle last week, but that is the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to take me a while to get through everything, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. I’ve been looking over “Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen” by Stephanie Rose from Garden Therapy.  All kids of great ideas, and not just “gifts in a jar” either.
“Homesteading Without A Homestead” by Marie Beausoleil from Just Plain Marie, is full of great advice for starting where you are in the whole homesteading process.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Connie

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope your first day of 2016 got off to a glorious start! It is a cool 35 degrees here on the homestead, but the sun is shining!

It’s the day that so many of us start those famous (or infamous) New Year’s Resolutions to get healthy, lose weight, pray more, exercise more, spend more time with the family, and the list goes on.

No, this is not going to be a post about resolutions. Several of my blogger friends have written some good ones though like this one from Marie.

Ed and I are planning a “homestead meeting” for tomorrow morning before he and James go to work. We want to look at what we accomplished this year: the successes, the failures, and the reasons for both. We’ll share some of that with you next week. One thing that both us already know that we need to do is catch up on reading posts of our fellow bloggers!

As Ed told you Tuesday, the roosters don’t like the cold weather, and as of this morning, they still have not left the coop. Meeko and Libby are back to sharing the big straw-filled dog house. One day, the conditions will be right, and I will get video of Libby rearranging new straw. She’s like a kid at Christmas!

I went back to visit the kidney doctor yesterday, and testing revealed that I need to drink more water. He didn’t say one thing about cutting down on the coffee! Drink more water: I can live with that.

Last night, I was sitting here at my desk, and Loki brought me one of his favorite toys; an old squeaky ball. I took it from him to throw it and realized he had only given me half of it! The other half was in pieces all over the floor, and the Lord only knows where the squeaker is. I just hope he didn’t swallow it! It’s probably a good thing that he got a Kong dog toy for Christmas.

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Ummm….

Ed worked last night, but got home about 10:30. We stayed up to bring in the new year with Kat and drink our traditional glass of sparkling grape juice, but went to bed about 12:10. Yeah, we’re night owl party animals for sure!

I don’t remember if I ever told you, but I did get the onions planted before it got cold. The frame part of the cold frame is finished, but I don’t know if it is actually insulated enough to grown anything. I need to do a little more research. Does anyone know about testing soil temperatures?

I dug out a couple of rag rug projects and told myself that I will finish at least one of them this weekend. I already put all the Christmas decorations away, but I still need to get the house into some semblance of order.

Kat and I start back to school on Tuesday. I would have started Monday, but Ed is off that day, and we have errands to run. For school purposes,we will treat Monday like Saturday and have school on Saturday instead. I’ll let you know how that works.

Connie

P.S.
I have some exciting news coming, so be sure to check back with us next week, and I’ll fill you in!

The Horses Can’t Eat It

I haven’t written in awhile, probably because I have been busier than a one armed brick layer, and that leads to the first thing I am thankful for. I am thankful that, even after all these years of use, misuse and plain old abuse, this rather stumpy body still manages to work in an acceptable fashion.

Oh some days it’s hard to get cranked, the choke seems to stick, there is a whine in the power steering unit and the ball joints pop and groan, but I still manage to get it out on the road and keep up with average traffic.

So I am thankful that the Good Lord has seen fit to give me a body that can stand up to hard travelin’. I believe He knew I would need it.

I am also very thankful for the people God has put into my life. I believe the polite phrase for most of us is colorful. And we are as colorful as a Carney caravan painted by Picasso.

Old drunks, young artist, sweet souls, hard travelers, long riders and several failed experiments in modern chemistry, who have added more love, laughter and wisdom to this old man’s life than ever he deserved. I love you all, even the ones who I have threatened to behead with a dull shovel, and you know I was only a little peeved.

However, I am especially grateful for a handful of you. There are my two daughters, Katherine and Shannon who are full grown people in their own right, and who I can think of and smile. There are my other three who came as a package deal with my Connie. Two of them are grown men and the third is a teenager, and they have brought joy into my life.

Also there is Connie. I ask her often, “Do you know how much I love you?” And she answers with a smile and a shake of her head to say “no.” Then I say, “I don’t either.”

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Connie and my wedding. Most people start a family after they are married, we kinda did it differently. Like most things.

And I don’t. One of the things I learned while being taught to jump off of high places with a rope is that the human mind cannot really comprehend distances straight down more than about 66 feet. When I try to look at my love for Connie, it is just all that I have and I have no idea how much that is.

Maybe I should consider how thankful I am for all the material blessing I have been given. In less than seven years I have gone from a homeless drunk with half a suitcase of worn clothes, a beat up old Bible and a dinged up guitar, to having just a whole buncha neat stuff and critters and all that.

It’s nice and I am grateful for it all; but it’s just things.

Some years ago in Texas an old cowboy was buying his third round for the house. A man at this table cautioned him to slow down, that it was getting expensive.

The old man laughed and said, “Its only money, the horses can’t eat it.” I was there that night, drinking his whiskey and, insult added to injury, I stole his saying.

Those who I love and who love me are what I judge my wealth by and, on that scale, I am very rich.

I hope each of you feels the same and I pray God’s own blessing on you all.

Where I’ve Been

Yes, I know I haven’t posted much lately. Don’t take it personally; I haven’t been on facebook or anywhere much.

As some of you have probably gathered from previous posts, I have Bi Polar disorder, formerly known as Manic Depression. I was diagnosed about 10 years ago, after my oldest son was. It was one of those situations where, as I learned more about his condition, I read things to which I could easily relate to my own experience.

When I sought a professional opinion, it didn’t take long to confirm what I thought already. The clincher was when I described my reaction to an antidepressant I had been given years earlier for an unrelated condition.

Back in the mid 90’s, I was having what I could only describe as chest pains. Not finding any heart related problems, my doctor prescribed an antidepressant called Elavil. He didn’t tell me what it was, other than telling me it should take care of the problem. After about two days, I was so angry at the world that I was afraid for my husband to leave me alone with my children. I felt that I had no control.

At the same time, I had also been seeing a psychologist to help me deal with some child hood trauma. I had an appointment with him when I was about three days into the Elavil. He took one look at me, and said “What is wrong?” I told him about the Elavil, and he said “Stop taking it right now!” So, I did, and within a few days, I was back to “normal”.

A few months later, we moved back to Missouri, and I saw my mom’s doctor, who was a DO, about the “chest pains”. She said they were deep chest muscle spasms and were caused by some vertebrae in my back being out of alignment. She adjusted my vertebra and gave me some muscle relaxers to take for a few days while everything was readjusting. That worked fine. No more pain.

Fast forward to the early 2000s, when I was learning about Bi Polar. People with Bi Polar have to be careful about taking antidepressants because they can trigger manic episodes, which can also present as a manic rage. You see, mania isn’t always the top of the world happy-go-lucky feelings that people associate with it. Bi Polar isn’t always “high and low”, sometimes it’s “fast and slow”. Sometimes, Its “nail eating furious and numb nothingness” Sometimes it’s “I’m talking and I can’t shut up and I couldn’t speak if I had to.” Most of the time, my mania is better described as agitation. It’s not fun.

I don’t know why the psychologist I was seeing didn’t catch that, but I may have been that he didn’t really deal with prescribed medications. Psychologists can’t write prescriptions, since they aren’t medical doctors.

Anyway, as I said before, the professional (psychiatric nurse practitioner) I saw in about 2005 immediately saw the connection. Then we started to look at treatment options. The short story is that we didn’t find one mood stabilizer (think lithium) that I can tolerate. The side effects just weren’t worth the benefits. I was leery of trying any antidepressants, but she told me there are other, newer, drugs that work better, and we could start with the lowest dose. If I started to feel agitated, I was to stop taking the drug and call her.

So that is what we did. We found one that worked, and I just take the lowest dose. When I feel mania coming (which I usually can), I stop taking the antidepressant for awhile. Since the health insurance I had at the time said I had to, I also got to visit with her boss, who was an actual psychiatrist. I only saw him once, but the one thing he said stuck with me. With his thick Filipino accent, he said, “You must understand that you must sleep! If you do not sleep, you can trigger manic episode, which will make you not be able to sleep.” Since then, I have tried hard to make sure I get plenty of sleep.

Unfortunately, he retired, and my nurse moved to a different practice. I saw her there for a little while, but then the office called and said she was gone and they would schedule me with someone else. I didn’t really want to do that. Then we moved, and my GP here can refill my meds when I need them.

Ed has a lot of experience with Bi Polar from other people in his life, so I didn’t have to explain anything to him. I have given him permission to tell me if he thinks we need to do something different, and I will try my best not to shoot the messenger. I also found a good essential oil blend from Native American Nutritionals, called Attention Assist, that seemed to help with the agitation. Of course, I talk to the Lord a lot too. He knows about it better than anyone! 🙂 There are several scriptures that I refer to that help too.

Fall and spring are bad times for people with Bi Polar. I know that, but I hadn’t been thinking about it. I had backed off the antidepressants last spring because I felt some mania coming, and I ran out of my essential oil. I stayed busy all summer (as you all know), and then we started the Whole 30 and didn’t want to be taking anything with that. Then we went into Fall, and I was trying to do school and about a bazillion other things, and looking at it now, I think I was getting into a full blown manic episode. Then I had the kidney stones, and some other health issues, and James came back home. It’s been crazy and I was getting there.

For the last year, we have been planning for the whole family to be here for Thanksgiving and have been really looking forward to it. Then Ed came home and told me he has to work Thanksgiving, and the bottom just fell out. Suddenly everything was dark, and I realized I was even having trouble praying.

Yesterday, after spending most of the day trying to hash things out, Ed gently asked me if I was taking my antidepressant. “NO!” A little while later I came back and asked him if he thought that I didn’t have any rational reasons for being upset, and the gist of what he said was, No, but that I wasn’t listening to any suggestions or alternatives. Then I realized that he was right, so last night, I started back on the antidepressant, and am ordering some more essential oil. We are also going to take a break from school until after the holidays. We will still have plenty of time to meet our state’s requirements.

I am so thankful to God for giving me this man who tries so hard!  I don’t know when he’ll have time to post. On top of having to work Thanksgiving, he is scheduled for a six day work week next week. He and James also need to rework the dog fence for the fifteenth time, and get wood in. Keep us in your prayers!

Connie

Happy Veteran’s Day

First of all, Ed and I want to wish all our brothers and sisters a happy Veteran’s Day. For those who have served in the past and for those who are serving now: Thank you. Ed and I have often discussed the fact that when a soldier takes his oath, it is to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. Additionally, neither of us has ever met a veteran who felt that the oath was no longer binding, simply because he or she was no longer on active duty.

Connie Basic

Connie’s Basic Training photo 1981

E5 Ed

Ed in the 1970s

On Monday, Ed and I, along with three other veterans were presented with beautiful quilts hand made by the local quilting club. From what I understand, they present about 20 quilts a year. That is a lot of quilting. Thank you ladies for your support of all our veterans.

IMG_1365

Connie’s quilt

Ed's quilt

Ed’s quilt

Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. My oldest son needed to move back in with us, and the house has been in a state of upheaval while we make room for another person…and another dog. Once again, I am clearing out the room that started out of Kyle’s room, and then became my office and craft room. I’ve written about Loki before. He is a husky/dachshund mix…who though that was a good idea? He’s a little neurotic. He loves Ed as long as Ed is sitting down. He likes him lying down even better. Standing up is another thing altogether! Then he growls, barks, and runs after him. If Ed turns toward him, he runs and hides behind, Katherine, James or I. Hopefully, he will eventually realize that the upright Ed wont hurt him any more than the reclining Ed will. Needless to say, the cats are less than impressed with having a dog in the house.

It has been a blustery day today with hints of severe weather. We were under a tornado watch for awhile this afternoon. Very unusual weather for Missouri in the fall. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are common place in the spring, but not this time of year.  We did manage to  get the fall onions planted, but haven’t mulched them yet. Ed didn’t think raking leaves today would be very productive. The cold frame is essentially finished, but I haven’t got anything in it yet. I found some “barn paint” in the paint left by the previous owner. It wasn’t in the best shape, but it was enough to cover the cold frame.

Hopefully, I’ll be back with more news in a few days.

Connie