Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Loving You Has Made Me Bananas


I've tried a number of banana bread recipes but this one I think, is my favorite.  It's very moist and tasty and it uses no sugar, only honey and applesauce.  Enjoy!

Moist Banana Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour (or whatever you have)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
3 mashed, over-ripe bananas

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Mix the wet ingredients together.  Pour the wet into the dry and mix.  Fold in mashed bananas.  Pour into a well greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 60 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes or so and then remove loaf onto wire rack to cool.

I also add chopped pecans and a little cinnamon to the mix.  Yummy!!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Pirate Looks At Forty (Five)

I didn't really want to continue to post about health issues but at the moment not much else has been going on and I did want to share what I've learned and been going through the past 2 weeks so that if anybody else is having similar trouble it may give you some ideas for treatment.  Now, ya'll know I'm not a doctor and don't even play one on TV but this is just what I've been doing and how it's worked for me.  I was fairly disgruntled after my last visit to my orthopedic doctor and only having more pills shoved in my face, so I decided to look around for other options and ended up making an appointment with a recommended chiropractic doctor.  The chiropractor did complete spinal X-rays, not just spots here and there, and that was an eye opener for sure!  Seeing my whole spine from 2 different views really explained a lot.  I have a small crook at my neck (below the fusion) and a small one way down at the bottom but I have a fairly significant bend right between my shoulder blades.  It's out about 3/8-1/2" actually.  I have had muscle spasms and cramps in that area for years but never really thought about my spine being messed up there.  My tailbone is a little wonky also, so basically, my spine zigs and zags all over the place and it ain't supposed to.  Now, the doc assured me he had seen worse, and I don't doubt it, but this may be what is causing me a great deal of pain and trouble and if I don't get it corrected it will just continue to worsen until I could become almost handicapped.  He also showed me a number of diagrams as to how all the organs of the body are connected to the spine via major nerves and if you are having trouble with an organ, say irregular heartbeats, it is often because the corresponding vertebrae in your spine is out of whack.  Now, I know a lot of people don't trust chiropractors and this would all sound pretty stupid and woowoo, but it makes perfect sense to me.  Maybe I'm stupid and woowoo but whatever.  When he pointed out every one of my vertebrae that are out of place it matched exactly with every organ that I am having issues with.  So, I have started going twice a week for adjustments and therapy to get my spine straightened back out.  As much as he can anyway.  He does know about Klippel-Feil and said of course, he cannot correct the fusions I have but can help with the spinal instability and crookedness.  Another thing he also said was that, the vertebrae around the current fusion, will over time also try to fuse together (which I didn't think would happen) and that could be very bad considering it's in my neck.  As you get older your disk tend to degenerate and calcium deposits form on the edges of the vertebrae.  Because mine are way ahead of most my age, those deposits could get big enough to touch and ultimately fuse together.  Regular therapy should prevent this though.
So...it will take some time to get straighten back out.  He said my spine has obviously been like this for years and even the muscles around it have moved and set to compensate for being out of plumb and out of square.  In my first treatment he said my spine would not even move in one area due to scar tissue and such but things have started to loosen up a bit and the pain radiating down my leg is pretty much gone at this point.  The adjustments make me very sore though and I usually feel like crap for that day.  The next day though I feel better and so it goes.  Hopefully, as my spine and muscles get straighter, I will get to where it doesn't hurt so much and things will move easier.
I guess I said all that to say also that these past 2 weeks have found me in a contemplative mood as I have spent so much time laying on ice packs and such.  There has not been a whole lot I can do lately and that leads to a lot of soul searching and wondering about the future.  I know a great deal of my back issues will get better but at some point I have to ask myself just how much strain I want to put back on it and what activities now hold precedent over others.  Just how much more can I do and still be able to reasonably enjoy what I've built when I really get old?  I've debated whether or not I should continue my pottery.  Many older potters I know have some serious back and arm issues and many eventually learn to throw standing up.  I may have to go that route.  I do know that major production pottery is not an option anymore.  I just can't sit (or stand) at the wheel for hours on end churning out a hundred mugs or what have you.  I never sold many dinnerware sets anyway due to the price!  Maybe I should switch to another medium of art all together?
I'm also seriously contemplating just how much more of this house I can build.  I think finishing the kitchen and other similar inside work will be no problem once I get going again but what about the other half?  Will I ever get to it anyway?  I was recently talking about at least extending the roof over the deck and expanding the deck itself.  How much roof framing can I do?  There's a lot of outside concrete still to pour also.  And a lot of stone to lay, patios and flower beds.  I'll admit I was fairly bummed when I thought about it all after first seeing those X-rays.  Several people have suggested that I should just apply for disability and forget it.  But....I just ain't ready to throw in the towel yet.  If I learned anything all those years in construction, I learned that there is always a way.  I may have to sit in a special chair while I lay one little stone at a time, or learn to throw standing up and I may even have to pay another carpenter to help on some framing or roofing but I think there is always a way.  All of life is just one step at a time.  Just keep puttin' one foot in front of the other.


Now!!  How about some flowers!?  One reader had asked me where I got the seeds for my zinnias and I honestly can't remember that far back.  I have no idea.  Mama may have given them to me or maybe I bought them.  At any rate, I would be more than happy to share these zinnias seeds with anybody that would like some.  They procreate well!!  Just email me your address (ann.beaird @gmail.com) if you like and I'll send you a packet of seeds from these very plants.  I assure you I have plenty to share and don't mind at all.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cruel Summer


Cruel because it seems that it's ending way too fast!!  This is only mid-August; we're supposed to be hittin' the 100's by now, or at least the 90's.  Not wearing a long sleeve shirt at night because of the chill!
The garden is still producing well though, so I can't complain too much.  The corn, cukes and part of the tomatoes and cantaloupes have pooped out and been pulled up but now a new wave hits.  I shelled the first mess of purple hull peas tonight along with more green beans and we harvest a cantaloupe or two every few days.  Still waiting on the watermelon to ripen.


The okra forest grows slow this year but it is growing.  Jack fusses over it every day.  It is his obsession.
We should have plenty to pickle and freeze so he can have some during the winter though.


New bare patches in the garden to make way for fall crops.  Still a bit more weeding to do.  Oh, the figs are starting to pour in now also.


We didn't have a great corn harvest but did get some and now that area has been cleared for fall stuff or maybe a cover crop.  The zinnias explode in their abundance.


I really like these scarlet hued sunflowers.  I am going to try to save seed from them this year.  Not big but so pretty.


The raspberries have caught their second wind and keep me picking every day.  They grow right next to the pullet's run and they love when I come out to pick because they know they'll get the discards.  Man, how they love those raspberries.  Funny because the big hens don't much care for them.  The pullets however have no qualms over trampling each other to get them.


I know.........more zinnias.  But I just love them.


These are vibrant also..and so HOT!!  Salsa peppers indeed.  Very prolific as most peppers are around here.  I roasted a few to use in my salsa this year and it seemed to come out well..  Time will tell though when I open a jar a few months from now and get a fresh taste.
 

The Easter Egger pullets are getting so big and pretty!  I just love their colors and patterns.  They have funny little personalities too.  It won't be too much longer that we'll be integrating them in with the big flock.


A new sign I bought off Amazon for the girls.  I thought it was cute and it's very well made; just like a real traffic sign.  Not that we get much traffic here.  As far as most of society is concerned we are the crazy ol' hermit couple that lives out in the woods eating weeds and talking to the chickens.  It's funny and sad, all at the same time, how far most people have gotten from the real earth and how they regard people like us so strangely.. 
Well, back to snapping beans and shelling peas......

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Misery Loves Company

Hey Everybody!  I just wanted to do a quick post to let ya'll know I'll be back to real posting as soon as I can but it may be a wile yet.  Maybe I can just put up some photos until then.  I'm hurting a good bit these days, from more than just my back, and it makes sitting for more than a few minutes rather painful.  I did have the thought that I could use my laptop and stand up to write my posts though! lol!  At any rate, I'm just in a rough spot at the moment but I'm sure I'm not telling ya'll anything new.  I hope all of you are doing well and having a productive and fun summer though!
So, that brings me to the real subject at hand.  I've been kinda curious since my last posting and all where I was talking about the massive amounts of rain here.  Just how is the weather where YOU are?  I know it's getting harder to say what is normal anymore but, on average, how are things?  Colder? hotter?  Flooding or drought?  And believe it or not, I do have a reason for asking as I would like to do a related post when I can sit long enough to do some research.  But I like to hear form real people too.  So, leave me a comment if you are so inclined and I would be immensely grateful.  Don't forget to include your location even if I know you.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Here Comes The Rain Again


I tell you what, I don't ever remember a time of so much rain that lasted for so long.  I'm beginning to wonder if Alabama is going to turn into the rainforests of the future and are the chickens going to start growing webbed feet! The photo above was taken from my bedroom window as I peered out, watching yet another afternoon thunderstorm rumble over.  It either rains like hell, just sprinkles a little, stays cloudy and threatening all day or just pops up showers on and off all day.  About every 3 or 4 days it seems we get a nice sunny day or two.  And it's unusually cool.  Now, for us in August, that's 80's you know.  We have only hit just over in the 90's maybe 4 or 5 times this summer.  Normally we'd be in the 100's by now.  The garden is still plugging along pretty good though.  Between my back and the rain though, I just haven't been able to get much done other than a little canning and pickling, so I don't have any photos of new progress or whatever.  It was partly sunny on and off today though, so I was able to get some photos while I was picking tomatoes and such.  I don't have a lot of flowers blooming right now but there are a few things and I thought I'd show ya'll some of what I saw.  I know it's not very exciting but I'll come up with some more interesting stuff soon.


I transplanted part of a humongous hosta from my grandmother's old place and this is one of it's blooms.  I did not have to bend over or anything to take this picture; it is that tall. (I'm 5'-6" btw).  The hosta is in a giant pot on the deck at the moment until I can make the permanent bed for it to reside.


The lantanas are beautiful as usual.  I got nothing to do with that.  These have to be one of the easiest, most zero requirement or effort of any plant.  Stick 'em in the ground and forget it.  I knew they did well in dry conditions, which is why I always have at least one.  (If I forget to water it, it doesn't mind.) But I never knew how they would do deluged with water.  Well, apparently they are okay with that too.  And the butterflies love them.  What's not to like?!


Allen gave me some sunflower transplants and they are doing pretty good.  This one got broke by the dang rain but I tied it back up.  Maybe it will live.  I want to try to save seed from these if I can remember before the birds eat them all.  They are already working on some of them. These are not the really huge ones.  The seed head is maybe 4 inches across.


When I was picking corn and admiring the lovely zinnias today I noticed that the bluebirds are raising batch number 3 of babies for the season!   I wasn't sure if they would go for three this year but they sure did.  I guess they really like the house location.  They ought to since it's inside the garden fence and protected by hot wires at night.


I love zinnias!  They have really gone wild in this area; I never sow these anymore.  They just volunteer every year.  However, I made a bad mistake ever letting them grow here because they are in my grape vines and they are getting so they are smothering my grapes.  I have been tossing the old seed heads over in another area where nothing grows much in hopes they will take up there, as I will have to ruthlessly purge them from my grapes next year.  I think I can probably convince them to move over.  I love having them in the garden border because they attract so many pollinators and birds and such.  And they make great cut flowers if I get the urge.


See!  I actually have a few grapes this year!  There are about half a dozen or more clusters like this on this one vine.  The other vine is too young but I believe it will bear next year.  These are a seedless variety and are quite tasty but still a bit small.  I hope they improve a good bit next year.  Over the winter I must build them a proper arbor with all those cedar limbs we saved from the tree from my Moms' house.


The rain does not deter the snake doctors (dragonflies) from their appointed rounds, thank goodness.  We don't have much trouble with deer fly anymore thanks to these sweethearts.  There are so many varieties here now I've kinda lost track but I might be seeing the same species at different ages and thinking they are a different type; I don't know.  I have been very happy to see quite a lot of the really large ones this year.  Those buggers are about 5 inches across.  For here that is big although I know in other areas of the world they can grow even larger.


The native mountain mint is in full bloom and has a wonderful smell.  The bees must agree because they are all over this stuff.  Bees, wasps, flies, everything.


Lots of the blue dragons this year too, and the green ones, but they are not as friendly and won't let you get very close.
So, maybe I'll have a halfway informative post next time or some progress on something to show ya'll.  Until then, we'll try to stay dry and I hope the weather is agreeable where you are.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Dem Bones


 I know that ya'll are more interested in what's going on around the house and gardens and chickens than these other agendas I may be interested in, so I'll beg your forgiveness today, because I wanted to post this for all the people who suffer from this condition.  Today is the official Klippel-Feil Awareness Day and from what I've experienced since being diagnosed, there really needs to be more attention paid to this disease.  I'm not looking for sympathy or trying to incite other people to become paranoid about their own health but because KF can be so easily diagnosed I just want to share any info I may have in the event it can help even one other person know what is going on with their health.  All it takes is one cervical (neck) X-ray by most any decent orthopedic doctor to diagnose KFS.  Most will then order an MRI to see how extensive the damage is and/ or more X-rays of the rest of the spine.
Now, as with most people, I had no idea KFS existed when I went to my doc.  All I knew was that my symptoms were getting worse as I grew older.  Common symptoms are frequent headaches or outright migraines.  Aching or sharp pains radiating through the neck upwards or down into the back or arms.  Numbness or tingling in the arms and hands.  A mild cough that comes and goes for no apparent reason.  Hearing difficulties and sinus issues; frequent sinus infections etc.  Trouble with vertigo or motion sickness.  Vision problems; blurriness etc.
People with KFS can present a wide variety and amount of symptoms ranging from quite severe to very mild.  Because it is congenital, many people are diagnosed when they are born or still very young.  In these people the KFS is usually in a fairly severe form and evidence of something being wrong can been seen just by looking at the child.  In a great many folks though, including myself, the disease does not present itself until later in life, often times the 40's, and the person usually appears to be perfectly healthy looking.  Because of this one factor many people, including doctors, do not take the adult patient serious and this often just adds to the frustration and isolation one diagnosed with a rare condition often feels.  It's bad enough to live in pain and endure other troubles without having people smirk or scoff at you because you have trouble doing some things.  For example, I have always had trouble with motion sickness, inner ear trouble and my hearing and all my life I have had people ridicule or get plain mad at me because I would always get sick on a boat or an amusement park ride or even in a car.  I finally just quit riding any such thing (except cars!) but then they get mad because you won't do that or feel you are just trying to be a party pooper. 
Now that I actually know what is causing these issues though, it has not helped much in making people understand what's going on.  Most people just blow you off, avoid you or try to ridicule you into "behaving normally".  Now, I understand completely that I have always been a hard worker and active so that may be why some people kinda doubt what I'm saying but things can change for people as they get older.  I have only told a few people in person what is going on with me and from what I've experienced so far I won't be telling many more.  I am trying to spread the word through this blog and other means though, so that some willing people may come to understand the condition, either because they have it or may know someone else with it.
 I also realize I am fortunate to have Jack who understands and does not make me feel bad when there are times that I am having trouble.  I am determined to keep on with this house and my pottery and he helps me by picking up the slack on something I may have trouble with.  I was throwing some new pots yesterday afternoon when my back went out again and I had to get him to put the finished pots away, help me around and get us some supper.  He does it all without complaint and I am grateful for that.  It's very frustrating and scary to lose even a little of your ability to do things for yourself and just a kind word or gesture often means a lot. 



So, I'll leave that subject alone now and ya'll won't have to worry about me yapping about it all the time.
It's raining here again now but we had 2 really nice days over the weekend and in that time my Turk's Cap or Turban lily bloomed for the summer and this year it has 3 blooms!!!  Yay!!!  I was excited.  I hope they last a few days and the rain doesn't beat them to pieces.  I wish I could find some more growing around here but so far no luck with that.  I will keep looking though.