Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Won't Back Down

 So, things are chugging along here.  We have almost all the garden in, except for just a few things, and it's all going gangbusters.  Should have taters coming in soon to join the radishes and lettuce.

 The broccoli plants are growing well but not showing any signs of heading up so far.  This has been such a weird year, weather-wise though, I'm not sure what they are going to do.  If nothing else they will become chicken feed and that's okay.  I'm always looking for fresh stuff to feed those bottomless pits.  We are also getting lots of lots of eggs!  The girls are in overdrive! lol!

 We should have a very good crop of blueberries this year and hopefully, cherries also.  Even my rhubarb came back this year and is really putting out the stems.  Remarkably, it has lasted several years here, so I might be able to actually cut some this year.

 Love me some Easter Egg radishes.  They are so pretty.  I also planted some of the "watermelon" variety of radishes but they have not finished yet.  They are about double the time as these Easter Eggs; which  are a very early type.
I'm not sure if we are going to try to sell at the farmer's market this year.  I did better just selling from home last year and advertising on Facebook when I had stuff available.

 In some other good news, the university I attended recently purchased one of my sculptures for it's permanent collection.  It replaced another one of my sculptures that was supposed to go in the collection but the university wanted to give that one to a very generous patron.  This patron had bough the original sculpture at one of the alumni auctions on the premise she got to keep if for a year to enjoy herself before handing it over to the school.  Now, she gets to keep the one she loved so much, the school still gets one for it's collection, and I made a little money and have 2 more items to add to  my CV.

 I also ran my first official 5K and came in 2nd in my age group (45-49)!!!  Woooo!! I was so excited.  I was 4th overall amongst the women and if I remember correctly there was about 126 women in the run.  The week before my back had decided it hated me and became so stiff I could barely get around.  I was sure I would just have to forfeit the race and this thought was very, very upsetting to me.  I was very discouraged and heartbroken at that possibility.  I mean, the race was nothing; I knew I would not win anything but I wanted to be able to just do it.  I kept working, stretching, soaking and being very, very careful with taking my meds until I got to the point I thought, well, I can give it a try. Honestly, I wasn't even sure the morning of the run.  Thank goodness it was a late afternoon/ evening event because I do better at that time of day.  Anyway.  We went and I was just going to be happy to not finish last. LOL!  And amazingly, did way better than that!

Now, I'll tell you, in the same month, I've also been rejected from 2 art exhibits (one of which I really had my heart set on), passed over one run because of feeling bad and have hurt excruciatingly bad since running this one.  I guess the success/ failure rate is about 1:2 right now.  A number of things in my life have not turned out like I thought or had hoped.  Not even close on a couple.  But you just have to keep trying, keep going, and like I kept telling myself during that 5K....just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And if I get to where I can't move my feet...I'll crawl if I have to.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Warm Enough

 It appears that Winter just sorta gave up shortly after the first of the year and Spring came rushing on in.  Not that I'm complaining about no cold weather, mind you.  But it has been pretty weird.  We did not get the flooding rains we always do around the end of December/ mid-January.  We got some heavy rains but none even close to what I have recorded every year since living here.  Despite all that, we have made up a good deal of the terrible drought this area was in.  I think we are listed as still in a 'slight' drought, but not anything near what it was.
Most things have bloomed out already but a few things, like my forsythia bushes, did not bloom at all.  They just went straight to leaf. Very odd.  The dogwoods started blooming in March. I think that is a first.  It's so nice now that I'm tempted to go ahead and set out some warm weather crops but I'll control myself.  We may be in for a frost next week.  I have got all the spring crops in though!  Very excited about that and even have a good crop of broccoli that I managed to start from seed!! That's also a first. lol!

I have felt well enough since being on the new meds to do some hardscaping too!  I have put this off way, waaaaaayyy too long but have it finished now.  Just need more fill dirt.  It's the main entrance to the garden in case you can't figure it out.  I always assume people know what these photos are of and you can't do that! Anyway, I poured a concrete curb to finish the boundary of the brick paver pad, dug out a bunch of dirt and replaced with gravel and crushed limestone fill.  Packed that and then laid the remainder of the pavers.  The block coming off at right angles is the beginning of gravel paths that will go around the entire garden perimeter to form a flower/ herb bed on the outside edge.  Make sense?

 Jack built the little herb bed right here (where you see a few little things planted) and then I went from there.  Nothing is flat around here so I have to step or terrace everything.  The pavers are sand-set by the way.

 Little bit different angle.  I was very pleased with how it came out. When the garden soil and gravel paths are filled in there will not be quite that big off a drop from the paver elevation. Maybe only an inch or two.

 A real nice, older gentleman down the road has let us have use of his backhoe.  I did some welding for him on a couple of occasions and I guess he was pleased so he told me if I wanted any of his old equipment that he didn't use anymore to just ask.  I wasn't really sure he was serious but I said, Sure, I'll take that old backhoe if you ever want to get rid of it!  He said, Okay! Haha! I was kinda flabbergasted.  At first he said he's sell it and then he just said, if you can get it running (it's pretty old) that we could just use it however much we wanted.  Just keep it running and not tear it up.  Good deal!  Jack and Allen got it going and drove it over to my place, where it promptly died.  But Allen can get most any machine going again and he got it running enough to get up to his place next and then fixed it up a lot.  It runs pretty good now and we are taking turns doing a good bit of landscaping.  Will sure save me a chunk of money when I go to dig the footings for the next half of the house.  No, I don't have the means for building that yet but it must happen at some point.

 I repaired a larger bucket that came with it and we put that on.  This was a complete break and separation here but me and Allen worked with it and got it closed up enough I could get a good weld going.  For the most part, if I can step across it I can weld it.  lol!  And you believe that, right?  That's a very, very old brag for a welder.  And no, I will not give up welding.  I do weld now with a respirator and/ or a stiff wind blowing across me and will do so as long as I can hold my hands still enough to run a bead.

The violets are especially pretty this year and very, very prolific.  My herbalist friend came to visit the other day and told me how to make a syrup from them to sooth my lungs and throat.  I have a lot of issue now with coughing and hoarseness.  This is common with PD and it's very frustrating.  Hopefully this syrup will help a little.
Well, like I said, I am feeling better but still not quite up to my old days.  I hurt a lot and have a lot of stiffness all along my right side.  I joked that my left side is too loose and shakes and my right side is too tight and hurts! I'm slower than I used to be due to this but I'm still chugging along.  Mainly I want to do stuff and am excited about things again.  I can take some pain in exchange for that.  I'll try to get back soon with maybe some progress in the garden and maybe even the kitchen!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Shake It Off

Hey!!  I'm actually back here in less than 2 months!!  Woo!  I'm on a roll now!  Actually, I told ya'll I would try to post again soon because I felt I would have an update in the next couple of weeks...and I do.  Back in late October I went back to my primary doctor for some new blood work and then in February went back once more after new symptoms and issues became very troublesome.  I will go ahead and tell you that I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
Now, I am going to explain the issues here and this post may be long but I'm doing this for a specific reason.  1.  In case the information may help someone else and ...2. To clarify things for the few folks that read my blog and actually know me in real life.  I want it to be very clear that this is NOT something I just pulled out of my ass and one day decided, hey, I'm gonna have Parkinson's.  Trust me, I don't want this crap disease.  And yes, there is a real reason I'm making this clarification but that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Ya'll know for about 2 years I strongly felt that I just had arthritis of some sort. I had many symptoms that went along with that; pain, stiffness, etc.  Arthritis runs in my family.  A couple of the doctors I saw said, yes, it's possible.  The hitch was, though, that every time they did an X-ray etc. they would all say the same thing..."there is some small erosion/ degradation in your joints but it just doesn't seem like enough to validate the amount of pain you are describing".  I heard this several times.  Plus, my blood work just didn't back it up.  In fact, when I did go back in October my sed rates were perfectly normal and inflammation markers were as low as they measure.  I was like, wth?  Well, by February I was having all new issues.  I couldn't swallow food well.  I didn't necessarily get choked but the food just would not go down often times.  No matter how much liquid I tried to wash it down with and all that.  A few times it got kinda scary.  The pain and stiffness I've had in my hips/ rear end area started moving up into my right shoulder and arm and down into my feet.  Within 2 weeks my shoulder had become so stiff I had trouble getting my shirts on and off.  The tremor in my left hand also became much more noticeable at times and often moved down into my left foot if I got upset.  And I was getting upset a lot.  Sometimes about stuff that didn't really seem to warrant that kind of anger when I thought about it later.  I have no doubt that many of you all noticed that some of my posts over the last year or so often sounded angry or very frustrated.  There are a number of other issues; gastrointestinal, etc. that I just will leave at that....One reason I haven't posted much is because typing had become pretty difficult due to my hands jerking or just feeling like I couldn't control them.  I drop stuff constantly.  My handwriting also became smaller at times and would run down the page, no matter how much I tried to control it. Something just seemed very wrong.  I did look up some stuff and that's when I saw the connection between muscle stiffness/ pain and Parkinson's and the fact it most often presents it's self in your shoulders and moves across into the neck area, along with several other of the new issues I was experiencing (trouble swallowing etc.). Most people think of the tremor as being the main thing but it's not always.  This would really explain why no pain or arthritis meds ever helped me. 

There is no definitive blood or imaging test for Parkinson's, unfortunately.  Basically, if you have the symptoms and have exhausted all other possibilities, which I had, then they simply give you a dopamine agonist drug and if that helps, you have PD.  Most of these drugs are not used to treat much else, so it's pretty conclusive.  In reading I discovered that there is a natural dopamine supplement that you can get over the counter and one neurologist in a forum I was studying said a few of his patients used it with good results.  So.  I ordered some and started taking it.  Sure enough, within 7 or 8 days many of my issues had improved significantly.  With these results I emailed the neurologist on the forum, told him all this info and asked him..."Do you think that it is a reasonable thing to think this could be Parkinson's?" .  He said  'Yes, that if the L-dopa helped, then I "most likely had Parkinson's, unfortunately."  I took this info back to my primary doc and also noted to him that I had 2 uncles with Parkinson's (they were brothers) and that I had been a welder for 27 years.  He did a little exam and said a visit to a neurologist was warranted, with the strict orders I also tell the new doctor my family history and that I was a welder.  I then emailed the great doc I had gone to at UAB, explained to him my findings and that I was trying to get in to see a neurologist in the St. Vincent's system. (My insurance basically told me that they were one of the few systems I could go to.  They now considered UAB to be too expensive.)  Anyway.  This doc emailed me back and said he could agree with that diagnosis and offered to help me get in to see either of 2 colleagues that he really liked. I took him up on that offer and quickly got an appointment with the one closer to me.

March 2 I went to see this neurologist.  I liked him a lot.  He was very thorough, we talked for about an hour.  He did 2 physical exams and on some of the balance stuff I was all over the place and I have a bit of neuropathy in both feet. He actually called the doctor at UAB during my visit and consulted with him for a while, came back in and we talked some more with a few more exercises for me to do.  At approximately 10:00 a.m. on that Thursday morning he gave me an official diagnosis of Parkinson's and prescribed Mirapex for me.  This drug is only used to treat PD and restless leg syndrome and as you can see...the label clearly states what he prescribed it to me for.  He also told me to continue the L-dopa supplement if I wanted to, since it had helped and what I really liked....he greatly advocates exercise as an effective treatment and also suggested I consider boxing therapy!  Apparently they have had very good results with such and it sounds fun.  You don't actually box another person but simply use the hanging bag and it also includes jumping rope, running and lots of balance related boxing training.

So.  There you go.  It sucks.  I will admit I bawled my eyes out after talking to the first 2 doctors and ended up blubbering about not wanting to lose my mind.  Since PD is the drastic loss of dopamine to the brain there is a heavy mental aspect to it.  By the time I was actually diagnosed I had sort of calmed down and wasn't crying anymore.  One thing my new doctor tried to emphasis with me is that Parkinson's progresses very, very slowly for most people and it is not fatal within itself.  Both my uncles lived to be in their late 80s.

So.  Yes, I am very glad to finally have an answer despite the fact the answer sucks wind.  Yes, I am very glad it's not cancer and it's not going to kill me.  However, the idea of having a disease that is slowly destroying my brain and for which there is no cure (unlike some forms of cancer) is not the happiest thought and the ol' "well, at least it's not cancer" response is probably not the best thing to say to someone you know that has just been diagnosed with something like this.

I have noticed a bit of improvement in many of my symptoms already...eating is not so scary anymore I'll tell ya that!  Although I move more slowly and it takes me a while to do stuff, I have felt much more like doing things and have made some nice progress in the garden lately that I'll show ya'll later.  Just having some of the apathy and brain fog lifted is worth a LOT.  I still have a great deal of pain but am hopeful this will get better now.  I will try to post here more often now.  For one, I hope to be doing more to actually have something to post about.  Secondly, I have an easier time typing now....for the most part.  Some days I'm off a little and have more of an issue with the tremors but lots of days are better as far as that goes.  So, thanks for reading and I appreciate all your comments as usual.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spring (Among The Living)

 Hey, folks...!  Yes, I am still amongst the living...I did not even realize that I had not made one post this year... I mean, I knew it had been a while but sorta shocked to see that.  My header photo is out of date and everything...

 Spring is basically here as you can tell.  An odd year for sure but we have been enjoying the warm weather.  What more can you do?

 This is going to just be a photo heavy post for now.  I'll have more updates and info in a couple of weeks.

 Just wanted to let ya'll know I was still around and had not given up completely on the blog.  Close...but not completely.
 A big thank you to those that emailed me over the winter to check on me...I really appreciate hearing from anyone.  I'm not able to get out a lot these days and I enjoy hearing from folks.

 Was a tad windy today at times when I took these!

 A lot of these are of the new girls that are now just about grown and are getting to enjoy their first days out in the yard with the big girls.  We've been letting them have the run of the fenced garden since there is not much of anything planted there now but that will change soon.  Very soon.

 The big, or I should say... older girls, have been enjoying going into the garden too and having baths in the raised beds.  That will also end soon.  Big Bertha and Ms. Bea both passed away during the winter.  I think Bertha's old heart just gave out.  She was about 9 years old.  She spent a happy day out in the yard like normal  and then went into the coop for bed.  She just laid down in the floor and died.  She and BeaBea were really close, and close in age also, and less than 3 weeks later Ms. Bea just quit eating.  She looked healthy as could be but she just quit.  I tried various meds and food but she wasn't having it.  She just wanted to go on and be with Bertha and Scooter again I guess.  I put her in a nesting box one night because I didn't think she would last much longer and she had passed away the next morning when Jack went to let them out. Both of them just seemed to drift off to sleep and not wake up.

 The new girls are a rambunctious bunch though~!  Into everything and very smart.  Took them less than a hour to find the house and basement, along with all the treats..on the first day we let them out into the yard.  And, at only 4 months old, one or two of the Red Stars are already laying!  None of those little pullet eggs either....they just popped on out the big, real deals!

 So, anyways....I'll be back after  while..

Hope everyone out there is doing well and enjoying nice weather too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Give Thanks

 All of the girls, myself, Jack and Chigger wish all our American friends a very happy Thanksgiving!!  I am very thankful for several things this year.

 I'm thankful for little improvement in some of my health issues.  Well.... mainly knowing what they are now and hoping that from that I can improve things.

 I'm thankful for loving companionship.  Wherever it comes from.

 I'm thankful that I finally figured out that Gertie here had an ear infection and that I was able to successfully treat it.  She had me going for about a month but I finally figured out the problem through a lot of research.  We cleaned her ears out, which is as hard as you might imagine, gave her some meds and she is back in the game!  Running around biting everyone like she so enjoys.  And she's able to sleep on the roost again!  No more sleeping in a tub on the floor.

 I'm thankful I've been able to try my hand at a new art and craft.  I'll try to show ya'll soon what new stuff I've been working on.  I'm having fun with it.  Maybe I can make some money with it too.

 I'm thankful for old friends and new ones too.

 I'm thankful for food growing in our garden despite that horridly bad drought we are in.  Here's really hoping and praying that drought ends soon.  It's seriously getting really bad.

 I'm thankful for the ability to see beauty in everyday things.

I'm super thankful that I was also able to help my sweetie Peepers.  She had developed a really bad pendulous crop and food was not getting through her system.  She had started to lose weight and everything.  Long suffering Jack gave me about 3 pairs of his socks to chop up so I could make a suitable "bra" for Peeps to wear that would hold her crop up and close to her body so that it could empty. For about 10 days we went through a routine of making her drink water with digestive enzymes and massage, because her crop had gotten very hard, since it could not empty correctly.  She did not enjoy this to say the least.  Even less than she enjoyed wearing her bra.  But, one day while massaging I felt a 'goosh' and I think the plug clogging her crop flushed on out and it started emptying.  It took another 5-6 days but her crop finally emptied totally and she started pooping real, solid poops!!  I know ya'll are thrilled to read about my chicken's bowel movements but I tell you, I was ecstatic!  After about 2 weeks or so I took her bra off and she's been okay but I am keeping an eye on her.  I think she may be prone to this problem, especially if she loads up to too much scratch feed.  So far so good though.  Sorry..but Peepers, Pumpkin and Zuzu are my sweet little spoiled babies and I'd be heartbroken if something happened to one of them.  It hurts me if I can't help ANY of my girls but some of them are just extra special and friendly.
So, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Fall and hope everyone has a great weekend!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pick Up The Pieces

 So I promised to show ya'll a few photos of some actual work I have done around here.  I was never really enthused about the idea of painting this bar wall, so when it hit me to sheath it in pallet wood I jumped on that.  Jack had been scrounging pallets for me for months and I had stripped a lot of them down to usable wood where they were just waiting for finishing.  So, I finally bit the bullet and sanded, stained, painted, sanded again, and patched for two days to get enough planks to do these 2 walls.  I didn't make a lot of effort to hide any patches, dents, or bangs in the wood.  I mean, it's obviously pallet wood and obviously reclaimed, so there's the "charm".  Ha! Anyway, I thought it came out rather well.  The corners are done in 1 1/2" angle iron and these make helluva good corner guards..  The iron is just stuck on for now because I'll have to take it back off and cut to fit when I run the finish floor and baseboard.  In person it looks better.  The color is a bit washed out in this photo because, due to low light in the warm months in my house, I have a devil of a time getting decent photos.  I often have to use a flash and it just doesn't look right.

 This photo is a little better but it's a little washed out too.  Anyways....I finished this counter top and back splash and wanted to run a little of the glass tile just to see how that was going to look.  I'm very pleased with this but please note; the tile has not been grouted yet, so it will look a little different when finished.  This gives me a lot of motivation to keep going.  I'm very anxious to get the kitchen finished because I think it's really going to be awesome.

 However, I had to take a break from all that and take advantage of the fact we are in an extended drought.  I have needed to fix this basement wall for years after I discovered just how much rain floods down the mountainside during the winter rains.  If the rest of the house were built this area would remain dry but.....we all know that has not happened yet so....I have to treat this as if it is forever an exterior wall.  Which meant chopping the bottom 2 feet off of the wood framing, forming a 4 inch thick wall and pouring it in concrete.  Here you can see the girls inspecting my forms.  It came out real well.  I even played around and did a faux board formed look on the outside.  This 11 foot section is a little less than half of what I need to pour but it's the worst part of the problem.  I admit I should have done this to begin with..but I did not realize the amount of water etc. around here.  And I was under the supreme delusion that the rest of the house would come along soon enough. Ha!!
Anyways, this form has been dropped, the wall sheathed back, and also insulated and covered on the inside.  Snug as a bug!  I'm now running multiple shelves on the inside in an effort to better organize the basement and my studio there.  I'll rub the exterior of the concrete here, below grade, to produce a smoother finish, then waterproof heavily and backfill.  There is still no sign of any rain anywhere in our near future so I shouldn't have any issues finishing this in the dry.

I also thought I'd take advantage of the drought in other ways!  We have ample dried foliage, leaves, flowers, grass and any things else you can think of here, so I gathered up a armful of stuff, a couple handfuls of feathers via some molting chickens and threw together this autumnal wreath.  Not too shabby I guess.  Certainly was cost effective.  haha!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Reboot; Let's Try That Again

So a friend read that last post and called me up to say it sounded a bit.....severe.  Not my intention really but I can see where that would be the case.  I have rarely deleted a post but after consideration did see where that one just wasn't what I was really trying to express.  Or maybe is was what I was trying to express but should not have said the way I did.  Let me explain a little.

There were several unfortunate things that converged on me last week to put me in a bad frame of mind.  The last week of September is a bad time for me to begin with.  My brother died September 25, and although it's been 23 years the day of his funeral is still a crystal clear memory. A very crisp, autumn-like day, beautiful in all other respects.  Now, the first few days I feel those cool breezes signaling the changing of the season here are forever stained with the heartache of his suicide.  I think it's mostly an unconscious thing at this point.  I don't actively think about as much as I used to.  Most of the time, it was 23 years ago.  Sometimes though.... it was yesterday.
Regrets are a funny thing.  They love company and generally like to drag others along with them.  You start doubting everything about your life.  Have I ever make a good decision?  Am I even a decent person or am I a complete sucker? The further the initial tragedy falls into the past the more numerous the addition regrets become.  It's only natural with the passing of time; you do more things, you make more decisions, some of which were mistakes.  Throw in some unstable hormones, a few health issues and you better fasten your seatbelts honey, cuz it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

We are going through a severe drought in Alabama and my area is especially hard hit. Everything here is as dry as cracker juice.  So of course, I get the 2 health issues that are greatly affected by the weather.  I have hurt especially bad the past 2 weeks, blood coming out my nose and my torso looks like someone dragged me naked down my gravel driveway.  It's getting better, I was even able to work out today, but psoariatic arthritis is a most miserable disease.  It's like Life says, "Hey, you don't feel bad enough, let's make you look horrible too!"  The other night I was awakened by a terrible, burning pain on my thigh. I was sure something was biting the hell out of me.  We have some small, brown scorpions here and in my fuzzy state I imagined one in bed with me.  I jumped out and ran to the bathroom, sure I would find a huge welt already forming from the sting..  Nothing.  I checked the bed and all around.  Nothing.  Next day, nothing.  No mark you could even tell.  Apparently it was just my skin deciding it would try to kill me.  It often feels like it is breaking and no amount of lotion seems to calm it down.  Gold Bond does help some though.  I know I should be thankful that I am actually as healthy as I am.  And I am thankful, truly.  Many have it much worse.  I mean, I used to build hospitals... I know.  But occasionally it gets to me a little.

I have never been blessed with what most people would call "a sunny disposition".  The ironic shit of Life has just always been too obvious to me and I'm afraid that the older I've gotten the more I've let cynicism creep in.  He's such a comforting friend and goes so well with my dry sense of humor, you see.  He's hard not to indulge.  The only lover I've kept around all these many, many years.
It's my personal belief that if you want to have a bad day, or hell, maybe 2...then have it!  In fact, have the bloody hell out of it.  Piss on these perpetually optimistic folks that go around grinning incessantly.  They need to be poked in the eye anyway. Wallow in your bad day and smear it's misery all over yourself.  Then get over it.  Be done with it. It's out of your system. When the time is right you'll have another.

 I will keep posting, although I'm not sure at what frequency.  I want to post more, seriously.  I have done some more work on the house I'd like to show everyone.  Still having some issues with the brain fog though.  In the mornings I usually feel better but tell myself, 'you need to get off your ass and work out, get outside, do art, do that welding job, and so on...instead of sitting here on this computer.!'  Daylight's a' burnin', save that for night time.  Then come night time I'm too tired, fuzzy-headed, distracted or whatever to think up any kind of post.  I'll try to do better.
I appreciate the kind comments for those of you who left them on the last post.  I regretted deleting them but they were connected to the post.  I have often felt no one is really interested in this blog anymore so it always helps to hear from those of you still around.