Friday, January 29, 2010

Thinking Spring Thoughts In An Artic Blast

Today with the wind chill the temperatures are hovering around 0 or slightly below. It was quick nippy out at the bus stop this morning...we were willing the bus to please show up quickly!! The wind has been howling since last night,and during the noontime news they said that Rochester had a gust of 44 miles an hour. That is not surprising. Small branches are falling and honestly I am surprised that there are no reports of power outages.At least if we do lose power,we have plenty of food,a woodstove,and several candles and kerosene lamps.We have an emergency radio,water to flush the toilet,and a propane grill and camp stoves. So we are all set.

The main topic in our household,aside from the med board and Rick's knees,is the upcoming Spring and what we are going to do.This has been a continuing discussion.Our latest topic is what to name our upcoming farm. We figure if we are going to grow food,have chickens and turkeys,and gather sap that our home could be considered a farm. So far we are leaning towards Little Yellow Farm. We have also been debating where to put our chicken coop.

This is a pic of our original chicken coop area,back in 2005. Right now this area has wood piled up in it. We don't want to build such a big coop this time-we learned that it's not necessary from blogs and articles. So the question is,where shall we put it?

We do want to have a good sized area for them to roam,and I loved it when our chickens would free range around the yard. However,we do not have a fenced in yard (we have a stone wall) and the girls would wander into the neighbors yards. We had one neighbor call the town on us because of this,instead of coming to us and telling us she did not appreciate our feathered friends visits. So we kept them in the fenced in area.

Next month begins maple sugar season here in NH. I checked out the NH Maple Producers Association website and was surprised that the season did not begin later. But mid February it is. We tried out hand at maple syrup before,but we did not boil the sap each day,and most of what we gathered wound up going bad. We have several maples in our yard,and I believe that we tapped 5 of them-some with double taps. We are planning on doing that again this year,and will tap our silver,red,and sugar maples. Sugar maples are the sweetest sap,which is why they are the main tree used for syrup,but the other species have sweet sap as well. So we are gearing up for that. We are going to price a large propane tank for the boiling process. It takes a while to boil down sap,and to keep filling the small BBQ size propane tanks would be quite expensive.

It takes 40 gallons of sap to make about one. As it boils,the clear sap turns that lovely amber color,and the longer you boil it,the darker it becomes.

My brother in law is here in this photo pouring the maple syrup in jars through cheesecloth to strain out any impurities. We didn't have covers for our buckets,and this year we are discussing buying some.Our syrup was a light amber color,and the taste was a sweet,light taste.It was quite delicious!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Step Forward

So far I have been doing pretty well on my weight. I have not missed one work out session,and have cut WAY back on my bread intake. So far I have lost 7 lbs. My motivation has been never been stronger. This time I am going to see it through! I do have my moments when bad things call to me,and I literally have to talk myself out of eating something. Like anything else,it's one day at a time.

We continue to plan for the spring,and Rick's enthusiasm is still very strong.He is talking about building a small smokehouse.The other day we priced lighting for seed starting.We do still have to figure out how much to plant. I have had a bit of a procrasination issue going on which I need to snap out of.

Last night we watched "The Hurt Locker,"about a detonation team in Iraq. Rick wanted to watch it. I wasn't sure he was going to. I have rented Iraq war movies before,and he has never been able to watch. Usually he will either ask me to shut it off or he will leave the room. However,he watched the whole thing,and even said it was a good movie. If there was something going on that he had went through,he would discuss it ia bit.I kept asking throughout the movie if he was OK,and he kept saying he was. He said that movie wasn't bad. I am sure there are others that he probably could not watch still,such as ones with more combat. However,one movie is a step foward.

Rick's Narrative Summary from Walter Reed got sent back to Fort Drum,but they wanted more info,so in a couple of weeks,we should have their final assessment. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they give him a fair percentage.

Two more months until Spring!!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Breathing While You Sleep Is A Good Thing

Rick's results from his second sleep apnea test came back. The first test he was sitting up all night,and stopped breathing 9 times and hour. He was suppose to be laying down,of course. We wanted a second test. So they conducted a second test,and this time he was laying down....and stopped breathing 30 times an hour. We knew it was going to be more if he was laying down,but the results unnerved Rick a bit. The night we got the test results,he said that he laid there for awhile trying to figure out when he stops breathing,and he became worried about not waking up. I assured him he would be fine. He goes back to the VA in a couple of weeks for another sleep study,this time they are going to give him an oxygen machine,and they are going to gauge how much oxygen he will need during the night.This is a typical machine that they use for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is more common than one realizes. My oldest brother has been on a machine for years.My neighbor has one. There are several reasons for sleep apnea.Rick's is caused by his brain injury.One of the questions they ask to help determine if you have a brain injury is if you snore or stop breathing at night.I knew he snored----the man could break windows. We can't even sleep in the same room anymore,he snores so incredibly loud. Before he left for Iraq,he rarely ever snored,and when he did,it wasn't very loud. I remember being thankful because he wasn't a big snorer!! Then he came back and all that changed. Rick's Neuro TBI Dr, Dr Whitlock,asked us if he snored,and I responded how bad it was and how it has affected our lives. He then put in for the original test.Neither one of us knew he stopped breathing.

Now he will not stop breathing,and he will no longer snore. We can actually sleep in the same bed! It's been so long that it will take some getting used to,but I am very happy to oblige!!

Today Rick is having what he terms as not a good day-he is having one of those days where he is quite confused,and his short term memory is really bad. He is also having a bad speech day,where he drags out the sounds of words here and there. We did have fun yesterday,playing with Zach. Zach received Beatles Rock Band for Christmas,and it has been Zach's favorite thing. Zach played the bass, I played guitar for a while but then went back to singing,and Rick played the drums.I asked him if that bothered his knee ( there is a bass pedal)but he replied it didn't really,because he keeps his foot right on the pedal and doesn't really need to push down on it. It's good brain therapy for him. Each drum has it's own color,and when the color hits the bar on the screen,he has to hit the drum. So it's alot of eye -hand coordination,and quick thinking. He is a bit slow,but doesn't do too badly-averages between 60-78 % of his notes. However,after about 30-45 minutes he started to get confused. His brain was going on overload,so he had to stop. However, it's fun,and gets his brain exercised,which is a good thing!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hi, My Name is Donna,and I Am Fat

I don't know if the above photo is going to come out or not..right now it's a bunch of numbers and letters,which I have never seen happen before. At any rate,it's a photo taken after the yard was decorated for the holidays. We finished up as it was starting to snow. Now there are several inches of snow on the ground. The weather today is going to be in the upper 30's to low 40's-a heat wave for this time of the year. I am looking forward to March-the clocks spring forward on March 14,which makes the sunlight last a little longer,and the first day of spring follows shortly behind.

One of my goals for this year is to lose weight. I am overweight for a woman of only 5 ft 2 1/2 inches. I started on my journey on Jan 4,and as of yesterday lost 3.6 lbs. I am not following a specific diet plan. I am cutting out alot of bread,carbs,portion sizes,and sweets,and working out at home three days a week ( minimum). I do aerobics,lift hand weights,do sit ups,wall push ups,leg lifts,and do the elliptical bike. So far in 10 days I have gone from 2 minutes to 7 on the bike,so progress is being made.

I don't have a specific goal in mind,I think more or less because I don't want to think of all the weight I should lose. I am going according to how I feel. If I am content after 20 lbs,that's where I'll stop.I know I will never see Size 2 again.

I am not saying I don't have cookie now and then,I just don't have 10!

My problem with weight started after my pregnancy. I have been up and down,up and down......and up. I am an emotional eater. If I'm happy, I eat. If I'm sad, I eat. I come from a gene pool that has it's addictions.However, these last few years since Rick was gone and came back my addiction has kicked in full swing. I start to lose,then I decide I can handle it and all my weight comes back. It is no fun.

I finally got tired of being winded climbing a flight of stairs,of having everything I try on look horrendous,and of feeling embarrassed when I go out in public.My Dear Friend Michelle and I are supporting each other in our quest to lose weight. She does not look like she needs to lose much,the lucky Ducky.However, it doesn't matter what the number is,it's how you feel about yourself. My goal is for health,and if I am being totally honest,to look good. I am also needed here for my son and my husband.They rely on me. A heart attack would not be a good thing,which is another issue that runs in my family. Plus,being woman in her early 40's,I know that it is going to just get harder and harder as I get older to lose weight,so I needed to get my butt in gear.

At the end of the month, I am going to do another weigh in,and retake my measurements.Even if it's only another pound and an inch, I am one step closer to living a more healthy life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Looking Forward

Today it is a brisk 12 degrees here in NH,but the sun is shining and the sky is nice and blue.
Things have been busy around here lately,and not with doctor's appointments! We haven't had one in two weeks,and don't have one until Tuesday! What a nice feeling it is to not have to plan around those appointments.
We have been busy planning for Spring. Rick and I sat down and listed what we wanted to plant this year,then we went on the Burpee website to see which kinds of each veggie or fruit we wanted to get. It took a couple of days,a couple hours a day,to finally get our decisions made and the seeds and plants ordered. ( Bear in mind we have dial up,so everything takes a bit longer than on high speed).
This is what our square foot raised beds will consist of this year:

-Echinacea Paradiso Mix (I thought these would be nice for immune system tea)
-Sunflower Sunforest Mix ( just because I love Sunflowers)

Kitchen Garden
These I will use for cooking or for medicinal purposes.

-Mammoth Dill
-Common Thyme
-Sweet Basil
-Sweet Marjoram
-Greek Oregano
-Provence Lavender

-Blueberry Collection of Colville,Bluejay,Elliot,and Blueray plants
-Albion Strawberries
=Honey Bun Cantaloupes

We also want to buy another Jonathon Apple tree to help our apple production along. We planted the self pollinating tree in 2005 before Rick left for Iraq,and two years ago started getting apples-3 per season so far. Another will certainly help.

Our grapevine took off like a shot last year,and we may have to transplant it. We planted it four or five years ago,and I think all the rain we got this summer was a bonus for it. I believe it's Thompson grapes-I know they are green.

-RSVP Peas
-Early Sweet Sugar Pie Pumpkins
-Jack O Lantern Pumpkins
-Rutgers Tomatoes
-Early Crisp Sweet Peppers
-Sweet Zuke Zucchini
-Sunray Summer Squash
-Walla Walla Sweet Onion
-Little Caesar Lettuce (Romaine)
-Green Ice Lettuce (Looseleaf)
-National Pickling Cukes
-Straight Eight Cukes
-Honey and Cream Corn
-Burpee's Tenderpod Bush Beans

We plan on doing alot of canning this year,and very possibly selling by the road. Now that we have our order in,we have to get our supplies to start some of the seeds. We are also deciding what kinds of chickens to get this year. I like Buff Orphingtons and Silver Wynadottes-I just like the way they look. We have had NH Reds as well,but they don't have a large egg output.After I am done posting,Rick is going to go back on line and see what is out there. We have decided that we are going to have Narragansett turkeys this year. As much as we love the colors of the Bronze turkeys (we had one that went 40 lbs a few years ago) we decided they get too big.A friend of ours from Boy Scouts raises Narragansets and has offered us a couple freebies,with more being $6.00 a piece if we want more,and we can get them in April when they are big enough to not need a heat lamp. Narragansetts are a Heritage breed-they were the first breed of turkey here in the States. They also don't get real large,which would work fine for us. We are considering selling some at holiday time,and donating some for the food baskets that the town gives out each year.

Rick is very excited about this upcoming Spring and Summer. I just hope his knees don't get much worse-though they are. His knees gave out several times today. Our Doctors appt Tues is regarding his knees. If they don't do something,anything,then I fear he will wind up not being able to walk at all. That is not a pleasant prospect,to say the least.However,what we are going to be doing keeps him focused and gives him something to look forward to.It has been a long time since I have seen him so into anything. He is determined to do his part,even if he has to crawl around to do it ( his words). The prospect of growing alot of own food,having more turkeys and keeping chickens down here at our place,planning the coop,building the raised beds makes him very happy. That is a very good thing. Part of PTSD is depression,and he does suffer from moderate depression,so anything that he will enjoy and keep busy with is important.It will certainly keep us busy!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Happy 2010!

This year I have made several resolutions,which I am determined to keep.My Dear Friend Michelle and I are on the same path,and we have been emailing back and forth about what we want to do,and how to go about it.One of the problems I have had in the past is just plain motivation. I finally came to the realzation that no one is going to get the ball rolling here except for me. No one likes to hear someone whine and complain about their weight yet do nothing about it.
This is the year!!!!!!!

The first thing I did was grab an old binder,and decided to make that into my "Manifesto,"for lack of a better name. Then I was reading a blog,(whose I can't remember, I send my apologies to that person)and they had a book which they called their "Lifebook." Well, I liked that much better,as it really is all about the kind of life you want to lead. So I have adopted ( it sounds much nicer that stolen) that termimology.

What is in my Lifebook? Everything I want to work on this year. The opening page is my mission statement. I wrote and rewrote it several times. I wanted something concise,and it just seemed to keep going....and going....and going. So I asked myself: "What is it that I am trying to do overall here?" I came up with this: "To improve self and surroundings."That is my goal.

The book is divided into sections:

Self- this area is where I will keep track of the loss of weight and inches. I will also write down what programs I want to do. Not only do I want to improve physcially,but mentally as well. I have a problem with depression and anxiety,and my goal is to try to maintain a positive outlook. One thing I am going to try this year is to grow St John's Wort.It has been used to help with anxiety and depression,so I thought the tea might help.

Household-this has all my goals for the house-renovations,organization,etc.

Garden-has my plans for square foot gardening,starting seeds,and my kitchen garden.

Homesteading-plans for the new turkey cage,a chicken coop,and other things we would like to accomplish,such as getting a rain barrel to help keep the well full and to water plants,soap and candle ideas,and whatever else we may decide to do.

Trips-places,info,and maps of places we want to go

Interest-things or people that interest me that I want to learn about.I am going to be more of a scholar this year.

I have another binder that I made last January,in which I have a section for all phone numbers and doctors,a section for menus for take out,and a section for school items.It is centrally located in the kitchen,inbetween the microwave and the wall to the living room.

One thing I am loving is our file cabinet.The top drawer is all of Rick's medical and military records. The bottom drawer is all our household files:mortgage documents,bank records,vital information,product manuals,etc. I had eliminated one big file box just for Rick's stuff alone,then I was able to get rid of a strong box (which didn't lock and was stuffed)and a accordian style file system. If I need something,I no longer have to go into the bedroom,go into my closet,reach into the bottom of it,and pull something out. Now it's right here next to the computer desk in the living room.Saves time and energy!

So my organizing has begun early.

Tomorrow I start my weight loss program.That is going to be hard,as I am an emotional eater,but I am tired of being overwieght and being embarrassed about it. However,I am excited about this up upcoming year,and so far am enjoying being more thoughtful and organized about what I want to do.

I ask myself these questions:
1) What do I want to do?
2) What do I need to accomplish it?
3) How will I acquire what I need?
4) Is it feasible?
5)What are the benefits?

One thing myself and My Dear Friend Michelle had discussed in the past was beekeeping. I like the thought of having my own honey and beeswax. Plus they are a vital part of nature,and it seems like bees are disappearing.Since this year we are doing quite a few new things,I figured we would hold off on the beekeeping.I don't want to be overwhelmed,and Rick's health is always a concern. However, true to form,My Dear Friend does not only throw ideas out there,she actually does them.She is reading up on beekeeping,and,barring something major,she wants to have bees this year.Yet again,she is ahead of me!

What are your resolutions?