Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bits And Pieces


If you are squinting at the shards above thinking, "hey, that looks like mashed up pottery", well then, you' be correct.  If you've been thinking lately as you read this blog, "hey, this just seems to be random babbling not really connected to anything", then you'd be correct about that too.  Of course, my blog has always been that way so nothing new there really.  I do have a number of projects going on lately that I will blog about when they either get further along or I get more time.  Such as the reason for the photo above. 
I have not felt the best in the world the past week and I wonder did that crazy "super moon" have anything to do with it.  I know that sounds ridiculous but seriously, I have read studies that indicate the gravitational pull of full moons do affect people and how they feel.  I didn't sleep worth a crap all the nights that thing was full and that is very unusual for me.  Did anyone else notice feeling "off" the past few days?
Anyway, just a quick post to see if there was anything in particular that ya'll would like to see a post about?  I know when I ask this it usually doesn't get much response but I just thought I'd ask.  Any questions about anything?  Want to see any pictures in particular?
I do keep a short list of possible blog post topics by my computer but I'm always open to suggestions.  My readership seems to have changed so much over the past year that I'm not sure who is still even reading anymore and what ya'll might be interested in.  I know I'll keep posting about whatever I feel I want to but you know I've expressed in the past that I like for this blog to be a 2-way conversation when possible.  I'll admit to being a tad discouraged about things in general also.  At times when I go out and travel some and I see how many people just don't give a rat's ass about so many things or how people live lives so very different than mine and it makes me feel SO much like an oddity that I tend to withdraw.  I think no one wants to hear my crazy rantings or how I do things.  I feel isolated.  That's funny.  I feel even more isolated when I go out around people.  Hhhmmm.  Hadn't really thought a lot about that before.
So, what's up with you people?  Anything interesting?  What are your thoughts for today?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Going Underground


A few weeks ago I had to make a pottery delivery to the Guntersville Museum so, since that is in such a pretty part of the state, we decided to make a day of it and explore some areas we had never seen before, mainly the Cathedral Caverns State Park.  So, we hopped up early one morning and headed north.  Guntersville is only about an hour north of us and the caverns are another 30-40 minutes from there I guess.  It is a fairly remote area once you get above Guntersville though, so make sure you and your vehicle are fueled up!  The land is very pretty and we passed a number of cattle farms coming and going.  Let me say also, the sun was very bright that day so that accounts for the horrible look on my face (sorta) and the high contrast in the photos.  I didn't take a lot of time to adjust for exposure etc. and you can tell.


This farm was right at the entrance and there were cows there but they were waay off in the distance.  The actual entrance to the cave is about another 1-2 miles, if I remember correctly.


 This is the newly constructed visitor's center which is very nice but there is not a lot in it.  Bring food with you if you think you might want a snack and this area would be very nice for a picnic lunch too.  They have lots of shady places with picnic tables and I believe there were a number of hiking trails also.


This is the main entrance to the cave, and again, sorry for the poor photo quality.  You can only enter the cave with the park ranger guide and each tour takes about 1 hour.  As our crappy luck would have it, we got there right as one tour was starting and it was full of junior high age kids.  !#$%*&!!  I was willing to wait until the next tour but Jack didn't want to so we ran to catch up to the group, which was still just inside the entrance.  One other note, they have nice restrooms in the visitor's center also; use them before you go into the cave.  For some inexplicable reason, I guess for effect, the ranger turns out the lights behind the group as you proceed through the cave and doesn't turn them on again until everyone is on the way back out.  Therefore, if you need to leave before the tour is over it is difficult.  There are handrails all the way but you are in pitch black darkness.  Anyway, on to the rest of the cave.  They advertise this cave as having the largest entrance in the world but I think many people contest that.


It is impressive though and the history of the cave is very interesting.  This is standing just inside the entrance and was the last area that I could get a photo anywhere close to being decent.  Maybe with a better camera I could have gotten some more but they all turned out pretty bad.  You can go HERE though and see some great photos of the interior.  I've been in a number of caves and this one did have some of the largest interior rooms I have ever seen, thus the name Cathedral Caverns.  It also sports an underground creek and supposedly, one of the largest stalactites in the world. 
Except for being stuck with those stupid kids it was a very enjoyable tour and I would recommend it if you enjoy caves and such.  Now, I know there are some great kids in this world but when I am forced to be around some like that bunch I can't help but think, God we are screwed.  Half of them couldn't stop fiddling with their stupid phones and the other half wouldn't shut up so we could hear the ranger.  And there were adults with them but they were just about useless.  As we were coming out a new group was waiting to go on the next tour and wouldn't you know...it was only about 8 or 9 people and they were all adults.  LOL! that's my timing sometimes!
When we came out of the caves we heard thunder in the distance and we were hungry so we decided to head for the closest town for a late lunch.  We were planning to just wander our way over to the eastern side of the state but on this rare occasion I was driving and Jack was the navigator....and we made a wrong turn and ended up heading back towards Guntersville.  So, we said the heck with it and just ate lunch outside there and then stopped at a few quaint stores in Guntersville proper.  It's a real nice little southern town with some good restaurants and shopping if you like that sort of thing.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Helping Hand


Now, ya'll folks know that I rarely make any kind of monetary pleas on this blog or really ask for any kind of support at all but I do have a small favor to ask of you tonight.  This is not for me but for another hardworking gal that could sure use a little support iffen some of you are able.  Honestly, I have not read her blog in the past but a lady whom I do trust has read her for years and shared this with her readers, which included me.  The lady who needs the help is Kat over at Self Sustained Living.  She is trying to rid herself of an abusive husband and make it on her own.  I feel for any woman in that position as I grew up seeing that kind of bullshit in my friend's lives.  As I said, this woman works hard and is just asking for a little help to start a commercial kitchen so she can support herself in a decent manner.  I personally think that is an admirable goal.  Better than a lot of people try to do.  The project campaign site is HERE.  This is apparently a project she was working towards anyway but recent events kinda threw it into overdrive.  Please take a look and if you can afford to, drop her a little support.  I'm quite sure she appreciates any amount.  And if you donate enough you can get yummy cheese!! 
I know there's lots to be skeptical of these days and all but you know, we blow $5 or $10 bucks on coffee or thrift store junk lots of times and this is one case where that could make a lot of difference to a fellow human.  Thank you.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Blooms


Well I guess I've turned into a regular Mary Freakin' Poppins over the last year or so, what with all the namby pamby gardening and flower posts.  Long gone are the posts about slinging steel and chasing men and my whackadoo rantings about how all that was once a helluva time.  Well, that's what happens when you get decrepit, not to mentioned married.  Haha!  Do I sound pissed off enough yet?  I'm not I assure you.  It just struck me as kinda funny as I was trying to decide what to post about tonight.  It's been rainy and ungodly humid the past few days and my bones are killing me.  I'm a little better tonight but still feel like somebody stomped a mudhole in me and walked it dry.  Haha, Jack had never heard that expression before and thought it was so funny.  That was very common to hear on the jobsites.  I should make a list of all the old expressions while I can still remember them.  And NO!!  you are not going to have to hear me complain forever now about all my physical ailments.  I shall not be constantly telling you about my lumbago (whatever that is) and my hemorrhoids and the typhoid and cat scratch fever I got last week.  Just a tweak of information if I sound a little ill.  Imagine what Jack must put up with.  He is a real sweetheart to me.  More than I deserve.
Sorry for the suck ass photo above.  I should know better than to take a picture like that.  It has absolutely no visual interest at all because I stuck the subject matter right IN the center of the composition and...it's too far away.  At any rate, I was very happy to see this flower because I have been trying for years to get this astilbe to bloom.  I've dragged this stupid plant all over my land trying to find the perfect shady and very damp but not too wet spot for it.  I guess it thinks it's a new nomadic variety.  And yes, I realize I'm the stupid one because it took me 3 years to think to put it down by the creek.  Loves it there apparently.  Now watch the deer eat it.


This store bought hydrangea had bloomed before but not much.  Last year would have been good but the rats with hooves, as Woody puts it, decided they would taste test alllll the stems that had a little bud on the end.  I guess they remembered they didn't really like it or else now think it is a native because they haven't bothered it.  These plants are all down near the creek and away from the house and my fearless (as long as it's just a deer) watch dog, so I have to pick things that the deer just won't like.


The blue is nice and it's striking in the vibrant, green shade.  I like the funky, abnormal shape of the blooms too.  Slowly I am building up the visual interest along the driveway with flowers and shrubs so that you see more than just weeds and trees.  My goal is to eventually have it lined with all sorts of blooms and textures.


This is the "snowball" type hydrangea that Jack won at the daylily sale we went to a couple of years ago.  I don't know the actual species or type so if you do please feel free to pipe up.  It has settled in well and growing.  The deer obliged to prune it too for me last year.  Little craps.  We missed the daylily sale yet again this year as we had already made plans to go to Mobile.  I hope to get back to it next year.


These blooms dry really well so maybe I'll snag a couple for that.  So, well, there's yet another flower tour for you.  I keep talking trash about showing ya'll some house goings-on but I haven't got very far on any of that.  I have gathered all my materials to start the job..but that's about it.  In my defense I have been throwing a good bit when my back is not trying to kill me so that is taking some time.  Hopefully I can get caught up a bit on that soon.  It just never ends really though.  You never get caught up.  You never get done all you want to it seems.  Oh well....that is a whole 'nuther rant!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June Hymn



The strawberries are winding down quick but the raspberries are picking up their slack in a big way.  I'm getting a lot more of the black ones this year than last but I think the red ones will pick up mainly next month and go until fall.  I'm not really working on preserving any raspberries in jam or such because honestly, they just don't make it that far.  In fact, many of them never make it to the house even.  I can't help it!  They make a wonderful breakfast.  Besides, I put up about 8 half pints of strawberry jam and it looks like we'll have figs this year after all, plus peaches and all that.


The asparagus has gone sort of wild!  It got so out of control I finally had to rope it in with some baling twine and tie it off to the fence, just to be able to walk unhindered anywhere around the bed.  I need to remulch it and fertilize it I guess.  I want to have a real good crop next year!


The rest of the garden is doing pretty well although we got a late start this year due to the extended cool spring.  I kept waiting about setting the tomatoes out and even then we got a frost the night after I finally put them out.  Figures!  So, everything is a little small but we should have a good long season and still harvest plenty.  Actually, I'm glad the maters are not ready right now as it gives me a little more time to try to churn out some pottery before the canning season really begins.
Jack just came by and wanted me to point out how weed free everything is.  We got a little behind on that chore too but he busted his butt the past week getting all that back under control.  Now I must finish the weed barrier and mulch everything good before the grass has a chance to come back.  It's been stormy here all afternoon or I guess I'd have to be out there now instead of on this 'puter.  Well, we kinda needed the rain anyway.  I think we've had to water the garden maybe twice so far this year.  I don't like to do that unless it is really, really needed.  I think too much watering makes the plants weak and dependent on such.


This is a new (for me) variety called Golden Jubilee.  I can't wait to taste it.  I love yellow tomatoes.


We may even have a few grapes this year!  This poor vine had been neglected for a couple of years and might have already produced if I had taken better care of it, so I am trying to work on it and get it and it's companion going strong.  They both got a good does of fertilizer last year and this spring, plus a good bit of chicken poop!  I think this is a seedless white or pink.  I can't quite remember.


I harvested all the broccoli heads and am just about to harvest all the side shoots that popped out afterwards.  You can get a good many even after you cut the main part.  I will probably then pull these up and I am debating now what to put in their place.  I also have a few cabbage that need to be cut and that area cleared for another crop.  Possibly an acorn squash that Daddy Rabbit shared seeds from.


The iris and peonies have all gone but the lilies have taken their place and are putting on quite a show, along with the chamomile and a few other miscellaneous flowers.


This is some native bee balm that I transplanted down here to the driveway bed.  Jack amended this bed over the winter with much chicken poo and these darn things are well over 4 feet tall!  I've never seen bee balm get much taller than 2 feet out in the wild.  It's one of my favorite wildflowers but I really wish I had that dark red variety in addition to this one.


The daylilies are doing well, as usual.  Not much gets them down.

Hopefully I'll have some house pictures to share with ya'll in the next few days.  In between the garden and pottery and all I'm trying to really get started on tiling the fireplace wall and completing that part of the living room.  Then I can have those bookcases made and start on the kitchen tile.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Girls In Their Summer Clothes



Our little Easter Egger chicks are getting so big!  They are growing into fine young ladies so I thought I'd show ya'll a few pics of them.  They are so pretty I thought I'd name them all after old-time movie starlets.  This would be Marilyn.  She is the only all-white one.


Marlena.  Of course, with that beard going there maybe they are ol-time movie starlets after menopause.  Heh.  Marlena is my favorite I think.  So pretty and she is quite a character.  None of them are very friendly but she will come up to you at least.  She squawks if you pet her but will not run away usually.  It's like she just tolerates your presence.  lol!  I can't wait to see what color eggs they all lay.


I think the one in the background there is Audry.  So far they are still in their own pen, separated from the big girls.  We'll mix them after they get quite a bit bigger.


Of course, I had to throw in a shot of my girl Chigger.  She loves to scratch her back on this ol' nandina bush for some reason.  You know, I just realized that we do not have any male animals of any type here.  Well, except Jack.  Hhmmm.


Just gimme the bread crumbs and nobody will get hurt........Actually, that's Missy and she is a real sweetheart.  Just real nosy.  Her sister Susie loves to jump in my lap for petting but PeePee, one of the Sussex, has learned that trick too, so here she will come running and flop down next to Susie in my lap.  It pisses Susie off so much to share any attention or petting she'll get mad and leave.  Hhmm, maybe that's PeePee's strategy because she'll stay and just about fall asleep if I pet her long enough.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Island Girl


A couple of months ago Jack's family had made plans for a get together in Mobile, AL, which is their hometown, so a brief little vacation for us was nice since things have been a little crappy lately.  We took off early Friday morning and immediately got stuck in a traffic jam in Birmingham.  After about an hour of sitting in traffic we finally were able to get off the highway and by taking some back roads, got back on below the snarl.  We made pretty good time after that.
The photo above was taken as we were getting close to Mobile.  I have always loved these big steel bridges.


It's just a cool design I guess.


Seems like the photos never do the span and scale justice though.


We spent Friday night at Jack's brother's house and then ended up heading for Dauphin Island come Saturday morning.  Jack's niece had rented a house for the week and was gracious enough to invite us all down there for the day and into Sunday.  This photo above is on the bridge going to Dauphin Island.


The weather was absolutely beautiful Saturday and we had a great time.  I swam and just kicked back on the beach for a few hours.  That afternoon Jack and I went kayaking on the sound side of the island, which is much calmer waters.  That was a lot of fun too.  We were going to go floundering but a big storm came in about sundown so that put the kibosh on those plans.  Maybe next time.  Sunday morning saw more storms coming in so we all headed for the hills and Jack and I made it home about 4:00 in the afternoon.  The chickens were overjoyed to see us.
The Curse of Crappiness resurfaced the night we got home but for a couple of days things were pretty good.  I immersed myself in salt water, indulged my taste for raw oysters and let the sun shine upon me.  The oysters were a treat from Jack and I got a little too much sun but it was all nice at any rate.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

No Bones About It

The first thing I would like to say is that I would hope my Oklahoma readers would please leave a comment to let me know you are okay....I haven't heard from ya'll or seen the normal hits from that area so please leave a comment for me.

Okay, secondly, here's the lowdown on what is wrong with me.  Well...physically anyway.  The other would take too long.  I was diagnosed last Friday with Klippel-Feil Syndrome.  It is classified as a rare skeletal disease.  It is not fatal in itself, although in severe cases and with the complications some people do have a shortened lifespan.  I have a mild form but it is degenerative.  Klippel-Feil  is characterized by parts of the spine, usually in the neck, being fused together along with other internal deformities of various organ systems.  It is congenital.  These deformities developed when I was just a little peanut in my Mama and do not become more deformed as I grow older but as you age there are usually some problems that arise and this has been my case.  I went to my orthopedic doc last week because pains in my neck and more and more frequent bad headaches had begun to concern me.  They did an X-ray right off and even I could see immediately that something wasn't right when it flashed up on the screen.  I didn't know what exactly but my bones did not look right.  The doc took one look and said, Yep.  I have 2 vertebrate just about center of my neck that are fused.  The pain is from these bones causing the vertebrae above and below to degrade at a much faster rate than normal.  They are wearing away basically.  There is virtually nothing they can do to stop it.  They offer steroids, pain blocks and some physical therapy for pain management.  I will not take the steroids and don't feel it has gotten bad enough for a block.  I am going to try the therapy and see what that does.  And just not do things where I have to look up for long periods of time.  Over the past couple of years I had noticed that I would have a lot of difficulty doing that or it would result in a major migraine and now I know why.  The good news is that the MRI revealed that neither my nerves or spinal cord have been compromised.  My goal is to keep that from happening.  In extreme cases the bones can narrow and degrade to the point that it pinches or cuts into the spinal cord which results in paralysis..
This diagnosis also explains the other internal problems that I have come to be aware of these past few years.  Klippel-Feil patients often have heart irregularities although I think mine are fairly mild compared to most.  Deformities are also often present in the rest of the spine, the reproductive organs and the urinary system, including the kidneys.  I have a major deformity of my uterus, although some women are born completely lacking one and the ovaries too.  This problem has become a literal pain the past couple of years and may result in surgery at some point.  I am also concerned about the kidney aspect and plan to have that checked out as I've noticed a few issues in that area as well.

So.  It's sort of a crappy deal.  There are not many treatments and certainly no cure but I am heartily grateful that it is not worse for me.  Many people have some severe deformities and I can still do most things I want, work wise.  The goal is just to minimize the pain as much as possible.  I'm doing okay and only occasionally have a bad day where I just have to rest or take enough pain meds to just sleep.  I fully intend to keep up my work and whatever else I feel like.  It is somewhat of a relief or gratification to finally know exactly what is wrong and that the pain was not all in my head, so to speak.  I have hurt in one form or another since I was a teenager and it was always brushed off as "growing pains" or "Oh, Annie's just lazy".   So now I can say, HA!!  I knew something was wrong!  So, there you have it.  I told ya'll way back that I was the perfect mix of faulty genetics, lax upbringing and a crappy attitude.  I just didn't know how right I was! 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Long Days


Still here folks.  It's been some long days lately of trying to get some pottery orders finished while working around doctor visits and the occasional social obligation.  I did finish the job in Birmingham so that is good and has helped greatly.
I have an appointment scheduled Tuesday for a MRI, so I'll be back with more information then.  Don't worry, (or rejoice) I'm not dying, but I have found out some long sought information as to the whys of many of my health problems.


The Indian Pinks (spigelia marilandica) have done well this year so I thought I'd show them off to you.  They grow wild here but I would like to corral them all one day to make a nice grouping in a flower bed behind the house.  They enjoy the shade there.

OH!! Hey!!  I hope my readers in Oklahoma are all okay!!  My prayers go out to you all and I am hoping you were not affected by the tornadoes and all is well.