Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give Thanks

  A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!!  and if you are not American well...Happy Thursday I guess!  I hope everyone celebrating has a great day filled with fun and good food and that you are with the ones you love...whoever they are.

I'm in an especially good mood tonight for some reason..Ha!  Oh, I have lots of reasons to be despite the fact my ass still hurts like a sonovabitch.  Maybe it's the combo of rum and sinus medicine, I don't know.  But I'm happy and I'll take what I can get!  Actually, I went to my ENT doc Monday and he said my sinuses are horrible and we agreed to test me for allergies, which may be causing some of this fatigue, headaches and all.  In the meantime I got 2 shots in the ass and something to go with the Claritin I take.  I hate to take medicine but I have to grudgingly admit that I have felt better the past 2 days.  Not wonderful, but better.  I'm also trying a little bit of an elimination diet and have started with dairy products, which I know have caused me trouble in the past.
So, I threw some pottery yesterday and today went to the gym and did some moderate exercises for about an hour and a half.  It really felt good.  I think I'm going to try going to some of the yoga classes they offer too.  I threw for maybe 2 hours kinda on and off and I was hurting a bit by the time I quit but I did it and was pleased with what I made.  Just need to keep at it, a little bit at a time.  One of my stores is really begging for more stuff for Christmas and I really need to try and come through for them.  I know I won't be able to make enough but 3 or 4 dozen mugs, a couple dozen honey pots and some serving bowls and stuff should be some help at least.  And I have a few people that have requested a few things so I'm going to really try to get those orders out too.  It shouldn't be too hard.
The BFD got me an appointment with a rheumatologist but it's not until May!  So, looks like I may be going to a pain clinic to see about a sacroilliac injection to help with the pain until then.  Here's a word of advice if you ever may have to have this done...  Don't Google what that entails. Okay?  Yeah. Sometimes Google needs to keep his damn mouth shut.  If you just have to read about it, wait until the day of.  GeezLoweez!!!  I can only hope they dope me up good. 

But for tonight I am not going to think about them ramming a giant needle through my pelvis and instead be happy for good doctors, sweet cranky friends and a house in the country with food in the pantry that I share with my sweetie.  Wow, I guess that is a horrible run-on sentence...ah well, blame it on the rum!!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Something To Crow About

Tiny, little Tillie that was so small and almost succumbed to the spring chill....  Little T that was so small and got pushed around so much that he couldn't get enough to eat....  Little T that I brought inside to snuggle with me or sleep on a heating pad and finally had to eat by himself so he could get enough...

Has grown up into a fine, handsome young roo.   He's still an odd little thing though.  He will only crow occasionally and never in front of me!  He prefers instead to still talk in his little whistling chirps.  So far he is not aggressive with the girls.  He follows them around and struts a little but still seems a little shy.  I hope he stays that way.

They don't run from him like they did George.  Some of them even seem to like him... a little.  They tolerate him anyways.  You can't tell from the photos but he and Pumpkin are still like peas and carrots though.  Always together.  They are each other's best buddy, even though they squabble now and then.  Pumpkin gets mad at him every so often but she won't let him get far away before she runs to catch up!  They are so attached to each other I hope noting ever happens to one of them.

So, hopefully he will be our homestead rooster from now on.  He's a sweet bugger and I'd hate to get rid of him.

Time kinda got away from me this last week; I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted last.  It's warmed up now but we had a spell of some very cold weather and my aches and pains felt like they tripled.  I was in a fairly sorry state and by Thursday night I had about bottomed out.. but I'm feeling a good bit better now.  Not so much in the pain department but mentally anyway.

I don't have much to report on tonight though really.  Today was a very dreary, rainy day and what little motivation I had pretty much flew out the window.  The rest of the week is supposed to be brighter so maybe some of my energy will come back too.

Oh, I did have some questions for ya'll:  is anybody having trouble with my blog taking a long time to load, or the photos taking a long time?  I have been using a different camera at times that shoots at a much higher resolution than my old one did and I know it takes those photos longer to come up.  I reformatted one of the cards to a lower setting but wasn't sure if it was low enough for the blog.  I think it's probably okay but wanted to check.  And, is anybody having trouble commenting?  Of course, if you are you may not be able to tell me!  Ha! well, you could email me if you are.  I think also that the word verification has been put back on the commenting but I did not do it!!  I think Blogger must have taken it upon themselves maybe because of so much spam but I did not do that if anybody is peeved at me for it.  They have at least made the letters in the WV much easier to read lately.
So, basically, if anybody is having trouble with the blog please let me know.  Email me if you can't comment.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sour Girl

   Some of you long-time readers may remember that the blogger, who shall remain nameless, over at Rurality has been a friend of mine for some time and you may also know that she is a big instigator.  Haha!  But in a good way.  In fact, she is the one who talked me into starting this blog so long ago and then abandoned us all a couple of years ago...ahem...but anyways...heehee.  Well, she also talked me into going to this fermenting workshop a few weeks ago that was held at a little intentional community not far from here.  I've made several posts here about some fermenting I had done using the crock method, and I thought it came out well, but this workshop was going to be using a more modern method (I guess you'd say) so I thought it would be interesting and a fun thing to do.  And I tend to be a little reclusive so it was a good thing to get out and meet some new people.
  So, basically the workshop provided information on the health benefits of raw fermented foods, such as kimchi, saurkraut, kefir etc. and how to make them.  And by raw, I mean not pasteurized, because the heat required in the pasteurization process kills all of the beneficial flora (bacteria) that you are creating by fermenting the food in the first place.  I am especially interested in eating more fermented foods because I've read that it is very good to help reduce inflammation in the body and that's seems to be what I've been having trouble with lately, for the most part.  Plus, if you make your own it is substantially cheaper than buying it already prepared.  I had tried some raw kimchi and liked it, but the only place within an acceptable driving distance that carried it was the Whole Foods in Birmingham and, as you can probably guess, it was quite expensive.  At least to me.  And, if you grow your own veggies for the mix it can be made for just pennies.

This is a Pickl-It jar in the 1 1/2 liter size.

  The new jar they use is the one big initial cost but after using it I think that it is well worth it, IF you think that fermenting is something you will do regularly.  Rurality was kind enough to let me use an extra of hers for my initial batch and so I could try it out before actually buying it!  HERE is a link to one type of jar now used for fermenting instead of the crocks.  The type shown in the link is not the same brand as what we used but it is the same basically.  I could not ever get the link to our jar brand to open so that's why I'm using this other.  Anyway, research it yourself if you are interested.  You can find a lot of different brands and such but the one thing that the lady teaching the workshop stressed is that the jar and lid should be entirely glass.  If you look around you will find some with a glass jar but a plastic lid and she was adamant that those will not airlock like the glass lids and your food can spoil.  Now, the little airlock gadget that sticks up out of the lid is plastic but it doesn't touch the food.  Some jars even come with a glass weigh or specially shaped bowl to push the foods under the liquid and that is nice.  We just crammed whole cabbage leaves on top to where they were pushed down by the lid and that held the fermenting food under the liquid.  You simply discard (or compost) the cabbage leaves when the product is ready and that worked fine.
  So, basically we shredded up a bunch of cabbage, green onions, ginger, radishes, carrots, garlic, peppers and then mixed that with the appropriate amount of sea salt and whatever spices you wanted.  I keep mine simple and only put in dill and parsley.  Using a wooden or ceramic stomper you pack the jar tightly and wait about an hour.  If the mixture is mostly cabbage it will release a fair amount of water which will form a natural brine but if it doesn't you can mix a little brine yourself and pour over the veggies until they are just covered.  Any little bit of research online or at your library will turn up tons of recipes and the exact amount of salt etc. that you need to use, so I'm not going to go into a great deal of depth on that.  But believe me, it is very easy to make.  Deciding what you want to go in it is the hard part.  Then you just wait a minimum of 2 weeks and the taste test it to see if it has aged to your liking.  If it has then you transfer it to a clean jar or jars to keep in your refrigerator and eat at your leisure.  The cold stops the fermentation process so it will last for about 6 months stored that way.  I can go through a pint of kimchi in about a week so mine doesn't last that long.
  After using the glass jar method I have to say it is really great and I will buy one now.  The crock method is very easy also but you have to check it every day and skim off any mold growing around the top.  No big deal but this way is just so simple.  The airlock top keeps any of that from forming and you just check it every day or two to make sure there is water in the little plastic hicky.  This initial batch of kimchi I made was good but I think next time I will cut back on the ginger and radishes.  I've never been a big fan of radishes.  And, I think I might make the next batch a little more spicy.  We used some pepper but they were the sweet type and I think a little heat would be a good addition.  As far as spices go, well, I just like the fermented taste.  Garlic is always a good addition and I might try a little mustard seed next time.
I hope this inspires some of you to try it and if you have any questions feel free to ask away!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bad Weather Blues

This photo was taken during our last week of oh, so wonderful, just warm enough weather.  Yesterday and Sunday were also in that category and I relished it as much as I could but the incoming cold, wet front got the best of me and I had to "take to the bed", as some southerners would say.  I stayed outside as long as I could yesterday but my head began to pound so that I finally gave it up.  We had a little rain last night and today was spitefully cold and dreary, the past week's warmth a very distant memory now.  I guess the abruptness of the season's change was a shock to my system and I have hurt all over like somebody beat me.  I almost wish somebody would beat me.  Then I could at least get in a few licks myself to help my feelings.  As it is now I have nothing to take my frustrations out on.  Maybe I should take up boxing...

I finished another restoration project, which I'll hopefully deliver tomorrow, but I'm still feeling a little down.  I really don't know what to do.  See, to make a decent living as a potter, you have to produce a huge volume of work and be able to distribute that work.  Either through shows, which are very strenuous, or having other people sell it.  None of the meds I've tried are relieving my pain any where near enough to allow me to sit for more than a few minutes at a time and throw.  I struggle to produce enough to satisfy one store and even that store is not selling the amount that they used to.  Seems like sales are down noticeably this year all around.  Plus, I think I'm bored as hell with it all.

The kicker is this and it really hit me this past week: if I ever want to build the rest of my house, and I really, really do, I'm going to have to significantly raise my income level.  I just cannot save enough money with these sporadic sales.  And I don't think it's going to be through pottery or any job where I have to sit a lot.  I can get more restoration jobs but, of course, that often involves driving a lot.  Not always but some.  I feel so stuck and helpless.  I know there is a solution but it's eluding me at the moment.  Well, the solution would be not to hurt so much, and I'm working on that, but I still have to work.  Oh, and it would help if we could win the lottery...Maybe it's a combination of several things.  Income that is.  Restoration work when I can get it and then other art sales when I have time.  I don't know, I just feel like ranting a little.  And yes, I KNOW that the BFA is going to get on to me about another depressing post but I am depressed dammit!!  And I feel like wallowing in it for a little while!!  So you just pipe down smarty pants..!!  I'll get over it in a few days.

The BFD is going to refer me to a rheumatologist I think, so maybe something will come of that.  Gah!!!!  I am just so frustrated and irritated and pissed off right now.!!  Did I say that already?  And I know I'm not alone and many, many people have it much worse than I don't need reminding of that.  Sometimes you just need to bitch a little, you know?  I'll be back later with a happier post I swear!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Autumn Leaves Revisited

Our area has a lot of red maples which are very colorful, as you might expect, at this time of year.

More beautiful weather lately also, but we did get a little rain the other day.  We did need it though.

Big T or Tillis is the reigning roo at the moment and loves to stand in my pot of lemon thyme.  And poop in it of course.  I sold George to a nice young lady who is the daughter of a fellow I went to high school with.  She is very active in the state 4-H and shows her flock regularly.  George will make his first show appearance at the APA show in December!  I think I am more excited than they are.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

At The Zoo

Tonight I am very tired and achy so there won't be a lot of script with the post but I thought you all might enjoy the photos I took during a recent trip to the zoo with my Mom.  She had been wanting to go for some time, as she had never been to a large city zoo, and I was determined to take her once the weather cooled off some.  Turns out we had a beautiful day; just warm enough and not too many folks there since it was a Tuesday.  If you are in the area, the Birmingham Zoo is pretty nice.  Not huge but they still have some nice exhibits, many of which have recently been remodeled to give the animals much more room.  The elephants were one such exhibit.  The keepers were feeding them apples at the time we were there and the elephants apparently really like apples!  They were scooping them up quickly.

Birmingham was once also home to a very famous lowland gorilla, like the one pictured here.  That famous gorilla was Babec, in whom UAB cardiologists implanted a pacemaker after it was discovered he had heart disease.  It was the first surgery of that type in a gorilla and made him something of a celebrity in the zoo world.  He lived for many years with the pacemaker but finally passed away in his 30s, I think.

Mama especially enjoyed the birds and you could walk right up to these flamingos.

One thing that was pretty cool was that many of the animals would come right up to the fence or glass when Mama approached them.  My luck has never been that good!  I guess they know she loves animals.

Wildlife authorities have been spotting increased numbers of black bears in north Alabama in recent months.  This does not make me happy.  I mean, I'm happy the bears are doing well but ya'll know those things scare the living hell out of me.  NOT what I would want to run into one night while I'm locking the chickens up!

The big cats were a bit lethargic the day we were there.

It was good napping weather though, I have to admit.

The animals were all enjoying their food but I would not recommend the humans to eat at the cafe.  The ingredients were good and fresh but they somehow still managed to make the sandwiches cold, hard and completely void of condiments.  I actually had to ask for mayo and some dressing.

Even hunched over this African vulture was huge!

At least one flock of these guineas just ran around free, as they pleased.  They were taking a little breather over by the sea lions' pool.

These guys were quite funny.  They really liked having their picture made.  I was focusing on the two on the right and when this other one on the left saw that, he scooted down the limb real quick so he could get in the shot too!  That was cool though!  I thought it came out well.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Time Of The Season

For as long as I can remember that song has always been a particular favorite of mine and forever conjures up some kind of connection to this time of year that I can't quite put my finger on but is definitely there. And, since it was done by The Zombies, I figured it was more than appropriate enough for a post-Halloween/ Dia de Muertos post.  The album upon which it appeared was released in 1968 also, the year I was born, so that is just further proof I am actually an old hippie, born about a decade too late.  Lol!  Well, my oldest brother was 8 years my senior so my childhood years were spent listening to Steppenwolf, 3 Dog Night, The Doors and so on.  Not exactly the target audience of such music but it left a lasting impression on me for sure.
It wasn't until my 20s and maybe early 30s that I really indulged myself in the spirit of that time and music and I have to say, it was enjoyable.

We've had some cooler weather the past few weeks but today turned decidedly cold.  The wind picked up too and so it made for a day best spent by a warm fire with a hot, filling meal.  The girls seemed about as happy with the change as I was and stayed under the deck most of the time until the late afternoon brought a calm to the wind.  They ventured out at that point but it didn't take them long to end up in the garden.  They fuss and fuss to get out of there in the morning but then voluntarily go back in the afternoon.  But, hell, they're chickens.  Whadya do?

The day was so bright and clear it was hard to stay inside the whole time though and I took Chigger for a walk up the ridge.  There she managed to run a raccoon up a large oak tree and that pleased her to no end.
The coon did not seem particularly impressed.

 I managed to plant some broccoli and brussel sprouts but don't have very high hopes of them doing much at this point.  Even in the south if you want such crops to actually produce they must be planted when the ground is still warm and can foster actual growth.  They can survive winter temps here fine but don't do much growing during that time.  It was a last ditch effort on my part to be honest.  We may have a warm spell that would spur them on to produce but if our last few winters are any indication, that's not likely.  The lettuce mix I planted has sprouted though and will likely come up enough for me to get a decent harvest through the last of the fall.  My cold frame is pretty decrepit at this point and I need to go ahead and rebuild it in a new location, or I would sow some stuff there.

A few of the girls have not totally finished their change into winter clothes and biting cold days like today are fairly uncomfortable.  Greta just tried to hunker down between the tomato plants but the best bet was to just go inside.  That's been my strategy lately too.  Inside that is, not the tomato plants.  I got the results of my MRI and the official word from that was that I have "subchondral edema at the iliac margin of the SP joint."  In other words, my butt joint is swollen at the bone or, as we used to say in construction, I've got a sore ass.  Well seriously, it may be some type of odd arthritis, I don't know and neither do they exactly, at this point.  The BFD put me on a steroid pack to see if it would help the swelling and pain but so far, no such luck.  Now, you long time readers know I must really be in pain to take steroids and it is sort of a last resort for me.  And admittedly, if the BFD told me to I am more likely to follow his directions but, unfortunately, it has not helped.  I don't know what the next step is.

So, I do little bits here and there.  Lots of stuff to keep me standing up and not tempted to sit but eventually you kinda have to.  Since we are expecting lows int he 20s tonight I harvested all the herbs that I had been meaning to that would be affected, like the parsley and some sage, etc.  I picked all the cayenne peppers and have dehydrated a large batch to grind and I cut the few marigolds that the chickens had not absolutely trampled on for an inside bouquet.  They are one of my favorite summer flowers and I wanted to cling to their sunny beauty for as long as possible before the cold winter claims everything.