Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembering Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. It's the day when we reflect and thank those who have died for this wonderful country. Without those brave souls,the United States would not exist.

Having had a husband who served,and who came very close more than once to being one of these fallen,Memorial Day is very special for me.

Not only am I thankful for those who died in service,it reminds me of how much more I need to to thankful for. Someone was watching out for Rick. I am convinced of it.

Tomorrow Zach and I are marching with our Boy Scout Troop in the Rochester Memorial Day Parade,and will attend a ceremony at the Commons afterward.Next year Rick should be able to join us. We will lower our flag to half staff,and each of us will reflect on the day in our own,quiet way. We will probably watch the ceremony in Washington,and a few war movies in tribute.

And we will never forget. Without these brave men and woman,who gave their lives for the freedom of their country,there wouldn't BE a country. It's their selfless act that makes our country great. We should never forget it.

Rick wrote this poem.He started it in Iraq and finished it after he was wounded:

A Soldier's Fight
I fight for God and peace,I fight for duty,honor,country.
I fight for my family so my wife will have a husband
So my son will have a father
So my younger brothers will have an older brother
So my father will have an their oldest son
I fight for those who have already fought
Many of them making the ulitimate sacrifice
I fight so others will not have to fight
I fight for those who are unable to fight
But yearn to
I fight for the freedom of those who can fight
But choose not to
I fight for my fellow soliders who stand beside me
In battle
I fight for my own life,knowing all to well
Each fight could be my last

-Spc Richard F Shaw,Jr 2005

Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned

I started making my own clothes detergent last year. I make liquid detergent,using Fels Naptha soap,Borax,and Washing Soda. I spent approx $8-$10 for the ingredients. I never figured out what the savings would be,until I went grocery shopping on Tues. I figured I would see what the price was on the detergent I used to buy,Purex. It comes in a 2 qt,8 fl oz jug,which costs $5.99. I averaged it down to 2 qts for easier figuring.

I make 2 gallons at a time. I have enough Fels Naptha for one more batch,so in all,I will have made 6 batches,which equals 12 gallons. Then I will have to buy more Fels Naptha soap (which is .99 a bar). I still have several batches that I can make with the Washing Soda and Borax before I have to replenish them.

If my math is correct,if I bought 12 gallons of Purex,it would cost us $143.76. So I saved $133.76,if I base it on spending $10 for my supplies.


Not only that,what I make lasts about 2 1/2 months.The Purex doesn't go that far,so I would wind up buying it more,which in the long run would cost even more money. I never did figure out how long the Purex would last,but I think I usually bought it roughly once a month.

What do you do to save money?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back To Normal

NH is back to normal now,thank goodness! Our temps are going to be in the low 70's today,which is where I like it! After a Muffin Date with My Dear Friend Michelle,I will be helping Rick with the chicken coop. We have lost the last two days due to heat and a trip to Dartmouth.

Yesterday was our trip to Dartmouth,and it was an early one. We are very blessed to have wonderful neighbors. The Kinsleys are an older couple,who have their son and granddaughter living with them. Since their granddaughter is a year behind Zach,they are at the bus stop each day. The Kinsleys have been helping us out by getting Zach on the bus,or getting him off the bus,or watching him until we get home. It is such a big help.They are very nice people,and love Zach.

Our Dartmouth appt was in relation to Rick's heart. I guess they had to determine from the stress test,EKG,and chest xray if Rick's heart could handle such a surgery. Blood flow is stopped to the legs during surgery,and when the tourniquets are released when the surgery is over,the heart works double overtime to pump that blood back to the area.Since Rick had heart surgery to repair the hold in his heart,and has an irregular heartbeat due to his left bundle branch issues,they had to be extra thourough in their testing.Rick's stress test was completely normal,and the left bundle branch problem is actually common and has no bearing on the surgery. We were told that knee replacement surgery is the most dangerous for blood clots,which is why we are not a hundred percent sure that they are going to do both knees at once. We may not know until the morning of surgery. We do have an appt with the anethesiologist next week,and he/she will make that determination.

It was a great visit,however,and we were home by 12:15 PM. It was hotter yesterday than Tuesday, and by the time we got back,after driving four hours round trip,my motivation was not high.In other words,we did nothing outside,but last night when it cooled down (finally!) I went out to water the garden. We have a blossom on one strawberry plant,26 carrots are popping up,and the lettuce and peas keep growing. I did lose the herbs that I was hardening off,however. I will have to buy the plants at the store,I guess.

Have a great day in your neck of the world!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summertime In May

Once again,our little Granite State is HOT! Today it's going to hit 90 degrees,with some areas of the state inching towards 95. Needless to say,we are not working outside today. I did get my gardens nicely watered this AM after Zach got on the bus,while it was still somewhat cool. I doused them well. Our Jumbo Cornish Game Hens are doing A-OK in the turkey cage,and our smaller chicks are getting the food they need.

My peas are coming up,and I noticed this AM that my lettuce is starting to make an appearance,as well as one carrot stem. The Walla Walla onions are doing well,the pumpkin vines are growing,and the cukes seem to have taken to their new home. The strawberry plant leaves are a beautiful rich green color,and I do see some leaves coming out on our blueberry bushes. So things seem to be moving along nicely so far.

Rick was going to work on the chicken coop this AM,but after he checked the chicks,he wound up on the phone with the VA trying to make sure that his pre-surgery physical was going through . Dartmouth requires the Dr to OK Rick for the surgery,otherwise they will not do it. Apparently,Dartmouth has been playing phone tag with the VA for a couple of weeks trying to set this physical up with Rick's primary Dr.Friday we went down to the Somersworth VA Outpatient Center where Rick sees his primary to talk to them about it,and they informed us that the VA does not allow primary Dr's to clear anyone for surgery. Rick's Dr did make a referral to another Dr who is a cardiologist who does pre-surgery physicals,and Rick called today to see how that was going. After a few back and forth calls,and the VA calling Dartmouth,he finally got good news. He has an appt on June 4 with a Dr. His surgery is June 7! Talk about cutting it close!

I came back home from grocery shopping at 10:30,and Rick had finished the dishes and his phone calls. It was already broiling out,and he was dripping with sweat just from helping me bring the bags into the house. So I told him,no working outside today.We'll see if he listens to me. He worked really hard yesterday,all by himself. He wasn't feeling very well in the AM,and we had to cancel his appt with his PTSD counselor,Ken. Later in the morning he felt better,so while I brought Zach down to his physical for Boy Scout camp,Rick had started on the coop. He got the floor,the framing for one wall,and a window put in. He pushed himself,as usual.The coop is 7' x 8',and is tall enough so Rick,who is 6 ft tall,can walk in to it.

This morning as I was watering my lavender, I noticed a tiny garter snake,laying right on top of it! I have never seen a snake laying on top of lavender before. I don't like snakes. Actually, I don't like when I come across them unexpectedly. If I see them from a distance, I have no problem checking them out. I am thankful that here in NH poisonous snakes are rare. There are some timber rattlers up in the mountains,but not many,and one might find a stray copperhead or water moccasin,but that is very very rare. We have milk snakes,garter snakes,black snakes,rat snakes. This little garter snake was actually cute. He was just hanging out,watching me water,and then when I got to where he was laying,he slowly slid down to the ground,and slithered off along the foundation of the house.I find myself observing more of the world around me as I putter in the yard. Butterflies,bees,birds,snakes-they are all a source of interest for me. I will stop what I am doing and just watch them. I find it relaxing. They don't have schedules to keep,they just do what they do. This is their home,too,and I enjoy sharing this little piece of earth with them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hot Day Ahead

We are looking at a day with temperatures hitting the mid to upper 80's. That's a bit warm for our neck of the woods this time of year. It also makes for very hot conditions working outside. The spot where we are putting the coop has a lot of southern and western exposure,though it really only gets direct sun for about 4-5 hours. The sun goes down past the pine trees at about 3:00 PM. This led to a discussion yesterday about window placement in the coop. Our neighbor is giving us a couple of windows,one a small frosted glass square one,the other a rectangular,clear glass window. We don't want to fry the chickens,but we do want some light getting into the coop for the winter months. We decided to put the frosted glass on the south side,and the clear glass on the north western side.

Today Rick is not feeling well. This is due to a jar of spaghetti sauce that had been previously opened. It was in the door to the fridge,and when he made himself some corn spaghetti last night,he had me check it. It smelled OK,and there wasn't any crusty stuff on the jar rim,so he ate it. Well,he told me this morning that the sauce had tasted a bit funny,but he still ate it,which caused everything to run through him early this AM. He is letting it run through his system,then he plans on working outside. I don't know how much he will get accomplished.I will not be here,and like I mentioned above,it's going to be HOT. I am bringing Zach to the Dr's for his annual physical,which he needs to go to Boy Scout Camp this summer.I am picking him up at school at 11:30,we are going out for lunch,then heading down to Newington for his appointment at 1:15.

Yesterday Rick and Brother B started on the floor to the coop. Rick was not having a good day mentally.He kept forgetting things and getting confused,so only part of the floor got done.His speech was not good,either. He would start to say a word,then he would drag out the word a bit. This happened several times. When I asked him about it,he says he really isn't sure,but he thinks that sometimes it's because he has too much going on in his head,and he gets overwhelmed,or sometimes he will start to say something then forget mid word,and then he remembers again.

Yesterday I planted the corn,more peas,and discovered to my horror that I had not planned for my zucchini and summer squash! Where in world was I going to put them? The only bed left was the one for my peppers and green beans. So I rearranged the box plan,and planted two green beans,and had one square apiece for the zucchini and summer squash. I did notice yesterday that my pepper plants FINALLY have their true leaves! I had tried putting them back on the heating pads for a while,and that did nothing. I did give them a bit of plant food a few days ago,before I moved them upstairs,so perhaps that was the missing piece. At any rate, I am happy that I finally have my true leaves on the peppers. My first planting of peas are coming up nicely.

We moved the Jumbo Cornish Game Hens into the empty turkey cage. They are considerably bigger than the other hens,and they were crowding them out and eating most of the food. We put hay down in spots and made small shelter for them,and are using the big feeder and waterer. We checked on them this morning and they were curled up together,sleeping. So they survived the night well. We still get visited by our neighbors chickens. I think it's such a hoot to hear rustling in the tree line,and when we turn around there is a chicken going ," Bawk,bawk," checking things out.

Hope things are lovely in your neck of the woods!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Clearing Out

Good morning! The sun is starting to break through the overcast sky as I type this. It was quite foggy this morning,but it has burned off nicely and it is suppose to be a great day.

Our trip to Dartmouth went well,with only once glitch. Our 3:00 appt was held up due to an emergency that Dr Bernini had,and we didn't see him until 5:15. The other appt,which thankfully was first, went quickly. EKG,blood work,urine test,and a chest X Ray. We also got Rick's Coumadin prescription filled,and booked a room at a local hotel for the night before the surgery. We left home at 9:45 AM,and didn't' get back until just about 8:00 PM. It was a long day.

Yesterday we finished clearing out the area where our chicken coop is going to be built.It is amazing how much can accumulate. Wood pallets,a snowmobile,more misc wood from remodeling,etc. We ripped out a horrible little shrub that I have hated since we moved in back in 2003. Now we have this lovely cleared out spot....with the rest of the stuff in piles in the yard. Rick is going to chop up the bad pallets for kindling,and we will keep the rest to stack our fire wood on. The snowmobile is going to get put into the tree line with a tarp over it. The rest will get burned. I also planted my cukes,put out my herbs and tomatoes to harden off,and planted more peas. My first planting have just started to show! They do grow fast. I also planted more lettuce.

Today there will be more work in the coop area,and I do want to plant my corn,zucchini,summer squash,and beans. I have Sunflower seeds I need to plant,I just need to figure out where I want them. We have juice barrels that we need to cut the top off of,clean out,and put in the spigots for rain water.

We are going to put our Cornish hens in the turkey cage. They have gotten HUGE and are eating the other chicks out of house and home. Since we have no turkeys yet (hopefully we will find out the status of them tomorrow) it will be a good temporary home until the coop is built.

Out black flies are pretty much taking a back seat to the mosquitoes now. They are getting nasty. My brother in law,Brian,also known as Brother B went hunting this morning with our neighbor Kelly,and when he came back he reported the mosquitoes are thick. It's also humid,so that doesn't help. It seems we go from one bug to another with no break.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Westward Bound

Today we are going for our second set of pre surgery appts at Dartmouth Hitchcock. The chilly,rainy weather has been replaced by a lovely day,which will be nice for traveling. I do admit that I wish Rick could drive sometimes so I could relax and enjoy the scenery along the way. I love to look at old homes,the mountains,etc.,but it is rather difficult do when you have to keep your eyes on the road.

We are leaving a bit early today. We plan on stopping somewhere for lunch first,since our first appt. is at 1:40. We have eaten in the food court,but they have mostly sandwiches,and other things that Rick can't eat because of his gluten allergy. They do offer salads,but Rick is not a huge salad eater and rarely feels like having one. At least at a restaurant he could order chicken or a steak or something of the like. After that,we are going to book a room in a hotel for the night before the surgery. Rick needs to be there for 5:30 AM,and neither one of us really feel like getting up in the middle of the night to drive 2 hours and 20 minutes. The local hotels offer discounts for patients who are having surgeries done,so we will take advantage of that opportunity.

We also need to have his prescription for Coumadin filled. He has to take the blood thinner right before the surgery and four weeks after to prevent any blood clots from forming in his legs. It's standard procedure.

Our first appt is Pre Admission Testing,whatever that involves. Our second appt is with Rick's head surgeon,Dr.Bernini. Rick has written down questions that he has,which was very smart of him. We still haven't heard the results of the stress test he had a couple weeks ago-we assume that no news is good news. We will certainly find out for sure from Dr.Bernini.

If today's visit to Dartmouth is anything like the last couple of visits,it should be a very pleasant day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Today is chilly and rainy here in the Granite State. Last night when I shut off my TV,I could hear the rain hitting the roof,which I love. There is something very relaxing about it. I fell asleep pretty fast.

It is now 12:22 PM,and it's still raining,the wind is blowing,and there is a rawness to the air. I went grocery shopping with my fleece over- shirt on,then went to fill the car up for our trip to Dartmouth Hitchcock tomorrow,so we wouldn't have to stop on the way. When I went in to pay,there was an older gentleman leaning against the counter,drinking a coffee. As I walked in, I shook a bit and said," Brr!" The gentleman said to me,"Chilly out there, huh?" " Yes, it's quite raw out there today," I replied. "Raw..that's the word for it. We ain't into summer yet!" he agreed,nodding.

After I got home, I grabbed a couple of bags from the trunk,and, as I was walking up the walkway (that is lined with wood chips now!) I glanced up at the roof,and noticed that our woodstove chimney was smoking. Rick had started a fire in the wood stove. Yes!

As soon as I walked into the house,the warmth from the fire hugged me like an old friend. Ahhhh....nice! It felt great! Rick helped me bring in the rest of the groceries,then I went over to the stove and spread my hands out over it,warming them up. Lovely,lovely warmth.

There is something comforting about wood heat. It feels and smells wonderful. There is nothing like it. Those of you who have woodstoves know what I mean. Yes, it can get messy bring wood to and fro,and you have to cut it to size and make sure you have kindling. However,if the power goes out,we have a warm house. We can use the generator for other things,such as our toliet,fridge,stove,or TV. We do have a furnace, but because our tank is outside,we have to use the K-1 mix,which tends to cost more than straight oil. So we use the woodstove for the most part,except in the winter when the nights are really cold, or if there is just a wee bit of chill in the house early in the morning,when a quick turn of the thermostat will take care of it fast. Days like this,however, the nice even heat of the stove is great.

I did make a boo boo today. At least, I feel I made a boo boo. Rick says otherwise. I put the laundry in the washing machine,and turned on the ceiling fan in the living room to make the heat circulate a bit. Well, apparently the washing machine was off balance a bit,and it started making a thumping noise. When I went back into the living room,Rick was on the computer,but he had a funny look on his face. Uh oh. I know the look. I saw him listening hard,and I said," It's the washing machine." Then I saw him look at the ceiling fan. " I put the fan on to circulate the heat. I should've told you,I'm sorry." Rick had experienced a flashback. He has strong ones if he hears helicopters,or anything resembling a helicopter. The combination of the thump of the dryer,and the shadow of the blades on the wall to the right of him triggered it. He shook his head a bit,then said, "I hate when this happens,"then he wiped tears from his eyes. I gave him a big hug,and said," I'm sorry,it' s my fault. I should've told you. I didn't realize the washer would be off balance." "It's not your fault," he replied." It just happens." I have asked him what he thinks about when this happens, and he just says it's the helicopters coming in to take care of the wounded.Whether it triggers fire fights,seeing friends get flown out to Balaad,his own wounded flight to Balaad,or something else is unclear. I don't press him about it.

On a lighter note,since it's raining today,that means no work outside,so I tidied up our bedroom,dusting and sweeping. I also dusted and swept the hallway,bathroom,and living room. It's low key kind of day. I may very well go and continue my re-read of "Outlander",by Diana Gabaldon,after I take care of the laundry. I think the weather will tie in nicely with the Scottish Highland backdrop of the book! Then again,I was planning on baking some cookies,so I should get that done first!

Rick has just presented me with lunch- a ham,cheese,broccoli,onion,mushroom and tomato omelet with toast. It's delicious! Nice, hearty pieces in it,not tiny little chopped up ones. He is a great cook. What a lucky woman I am!!!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

There's Something Missing Here.....

Lo and behold,I give you......our turkey home!

For the most part,it has been done for a few weeks now. The only things left to do is make a shelter and a feeding trough,which won't take much time. We have some roosts that we nailed to a couple of saplings,and the roosts are actually saplings that we cut down to make some room around the cage. We bought a stretch plastic type of netting that looks like chicken fencing and put it across the top of the cage,so they can't fly out.

The only thing missing is the turkeys.

Our friend CJ,who is selling us the turkeys,wound up having an accident with his incubators,so the batch of turkeys that we were suppose to get didn't make it. It has put poor CJ behind,but he says we will still get turkeys,just a bit later than originally planned.

This weekend was a beautiful one. Rick mowed the lawn on Saturday,and I finished putting the square grids on the garden boxes. Rick's brother Dale,and his son,Brody,came over late Saturday afternoon and we had a cookout,with hamburgers,hot dogs,chips and potato salad that I made Saturday AM. We had a fire in the ring out back,and the boys had smores. Then they decided that they wanted to sleep in the screen house,so Zach and Brody took out our camping cots,and zero weather sleeping bags,and slept outside.

Sunday I planted some carrots,dill,and planted my Jack O'Lantern and Sugar Pumpkin plants that I had started. I am still not impressed with my peppers,still very small,and no true set of leaves yet. When they first sprouted,I took the heat off them and put them under lights. Now from what everyone says,I should've kept the heat on them. I put the heat back on,but I think it may have been too late.Sigh. My neighbor did give me some of his pepper plants,so if mine don't pan out,I will have those at least. My Straight Eight and National Pickling cukes look great. My herbs aren't very big,though. I wonder if it's the same reason as the peppers. I may have to bite the bullet and buy the plants outright.

Today we are buying the lumber for the chicken coop. We decided on a spot,finally. Now we just need to move the firewood we have in that spot,and clear out the area.

It's gorgeous out there....enjoy it!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Say Hi To The Girls!

I'd like to introduce you to the girls! We have had them now for two weeks,and the they are growing like crazy! The large yellowish ones are White Jumbo Cornish Rock Crosses. They are huge,thus living up to their name. You can see how they compare to the others. The black and white ones are the Silver Laced Wyandottes,the beige and solid black are Buff Orphingtons,and the reddish ones are Rhode Island Reds. We have four of each.

This holding cage is in our garage. You can see the glow of the red heat bulb. We bought a new white one this year,but it didn't give off as much heat,which surprised us. The red bulb is a lower wattage. I wonder if it has to do the light color? We don't have electricity in the garage,so we run an extension cord from our bedroom window,which is right on the end of the house next to the garage. A towel stuffed in bottom of the window when it's closed keeps out any cold air.

At night we put old curtains and a sheet over the cage to help retain the heat. It still gets pretty chilly here at night,with temps ranging from the 20F's-low 40F's . ( You can see my old striped living room curtains in the photo).

We have been feeding them Blue Seal Medicated Mash. We now have to feed them at least twice a day. These are some hungry little ladies! They go through a bit of water,too.

Each day I go in and say,"Hello,Girls!" and check them out. I also talk to them a bit in a weird tone of voice. You know how when you talk to a baby,or a kitten or a puppy and your voice changes to a different tone and pitch? That's what I sound like talking to my girls. I try to pick them up,but they are quick. Sometimes I succeed. I think if I didn't have to bend over the cage I would be a bit quicker and have a longer reach,especially since I am only 5'2" and the cage is up to my waist. Sometimes I ask Rick to grab one for me,he is 6' tall,and has nice long arms.

You can see on the Rock Cornishes that they are getting their adult feathers. This weekend we are getting our supplies for the coop. Rick's looming surgery date and the rapid growth of these girls are pushing us along.

Chickens are cool!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Before and After

This is what our garden area looked like up until yesterday....mostly. I posted this photo after we built our boxes,before we put the soil in them and planted onions. You get the jist! All dirt,not very pretty. And not a pleasing area to work,at least for me.

Then.....this is what it looks like as of yesterday afternoon, after approx. 20 wheelbarrows full of shavings....

Ah. Much better. A much more pleasing sight for the eye,and nicer to work in. Smells great too! You can see my onion box on the left,with the grid. I am going to put tomatoes in that one,too. All the way down on the right is where I am planting my lettuce,peas,and cantaloupe. I did not pre start my lettuce seeds this year.
We are going to do our walkway and around the strawberry bed and kitchen garden bed. We were going to start that yesterday as well,but Rick had had it after doing the above.I had offered to shovel the shavings into the wheelbarrow,dump it and let him spread them out,but he said no. So he had to walk back and forth from Walter's house. Fortunately, Walter is right across the dirt road along the side of our house,so it wasn't far. But it wreaked havoc on Rick's knees. I love my hubby,but he can be very stubborn. He would rather be in more pain than have me do some of the work around the house.
Today he is down for the count. He had chills and sweated all night. This morning I awoke to find him wrapped in his quilt in the recliner. Did he take his meds? Yes. So it wasn't the reaction to a missed dose. Did he eat anything with gluten yesterday? No. So it wasn't an allergic reaction. I think it's his body telling him to take a break. He doesn't sleep well because of the knee pain and the nightmares,and he has been working harder than he has in months,trying to get everything complete before his surgery. Once the surgery happens,he won't be able to anything for a couple of months. Bless his heart! As I type this,he is sound asleep. I will let him sleep until it's time for his noon meds. I fed and watered the chicks,the cats,and the dogs. I washed the dishes,scrubbed the stove top,burners and burner pans. Once I finish this post I will wipe down the butcher block,sweep,and wash the kitchen and bathroom floors. I must also make laundry soap today,no ifs ands or buts. We are all out now.
I am off to continue playing catch up with the house.....have a lovely day!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My View

When I am sitting at the computer desk in the living room,I can look out the living room windows that are off to my right,which I do often. I took this photo this morning through the window,so you can see a bit more than what I normally see sitting down. Take the top half of the photo,enlarge it a bit,and that is my morning view.

As you can see, it's another beautiful day. The morning sun is streaming through the trees,making various shades of green. You can see my birdbath and just make out our bird feeder post with the feeders on it. One nice thing about this time of year is the leaves obstruct most of the view of the road. You can barely make it out-it's that gray patch that is above the stone wall.

We are surrounded by trees. We have trees all around on our property line,and a forest across the street. We have a nice lot. It's really a lovely,peaceful view. I like to sit outside and just LISTEN. I listen to the birds singing,the leaves in the trees whispering,or I just listen to the silence. I liken it to filling up a tank on a car. When I feel like I am running on low,I take a moment and just sit,close my eyes,and feel like a part of all that is around me. It's rejuvenating. This is my church-the outdoors. It reminds me of the pilot for the "Little House" series. Ma is concerned because they are so remote from anything,and there is no church,which she feels is important for the "girls to grow up properly." Pa puts his hands on her shoulders,and very gently replies,"I can't imagine them getting any closer to God than they are right here." Amen,Pa.

We continue to be thankful for the kindness of neighbors. One of our neighbors,Walter,had a few pines cut down a few months ago,and just the other day he had the stumps ground up. Rick and I had been talking about getting some mulch to lay down around the garden boxes,since right now it's all dirt with the occasional weed or grass clump. Lo and behold,now there is this lovely pile of pine shavings across the street from us. We figured we would ask Walter if he was going to do anything with it,and yesterday we finally saw him to do so. He replied he was going to ask if we wanted them! So now we have free shavings to lay down,where ever we need them. How nice! So we will be doing that today,and I do need to make more laundry soap. I have been keeping track of when I make each batch,to see how cost effective it has been to do it myself. It has been great. I haven't had to buy any soap or ingredients for soap since last September!

A couple days ago, I planted one row each of romaine and green lettuce,and a row of peas. I am going to stagger my plantings so we can have a longer harvest. Today I should plant some beans.

Yesterday we went to the VA in Manchester for a routine eye exam. I was hoping they had read Rick's file and knew about the stroke,blind spots,and double vision. That happened quite a bit when they were trying to figure out if his sight would remain like that or if they could repair it- every time we went to Boston we had to answer the same questions over and over and Rick had the same eye tests over and over. It seemed like they never read his file. We would both get really aggravated. We were pleased that Manchester was aware of everything,including the final determination that Rick's sight would probably remain as it is. Rick's eyes otherwise have not changed enough to have to get a new eyeglass prescription,so that was good. Now we don't have to go back to the eye clinic until next year,unless something changes before then.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Frost Advisory

I did get all my seedlings transplanted yesterday-and I needed more soil than what I bought on Sunday! Jeez! Will I ever be able to figure all this out?

I finished transplanting my Straight 8's and National Pickling cukes,the Jack O' Lantern and Sugar Pumpkins,and my Cantaloupes. Now we need to put another light downstairs. One is not enough for the whole card table. I have the light fairly low because the tomatoes started to stretch,so the light doesn't shine far enough.

Last night we had a frost advisory here in NH. One would think,"Hey,it's May,we should be A-OK." WRONG. Here in central NH our last frost date is not until May 20,according to the Farmer's Almanac. We actually had snow flurries on Sunday morning. The temps during the day have been cool lately, ranging from the 40's-50's,which is a bit below normal. Last night the temps went down into the 20's. When we got back from Zach's Boy Scout meeting,Rick and I covered the strawberries and onions with plastic. Tonight is suppose to be chilly as well,though not as cold as last night. I suspect we will cover up the plants again tonight. When we got home,Brother B (Rick's brother Brian) had started up the wood stove and it felt great! ( especially after being outside laying down the plastic)

Yesterday after planting,I weed whacked the yard,and Rick started mowing it. I don't like our new weedwhacker. I find it heavy compared to our old one. I had to keep stopping to rest. While Rick was mowing with our riding mower it suddenly died. He jump started it,but he thinks there is a short in it somewhere that will have to fixed. Every time he got off it and put his hand on the seat he would get a little shock. So we shall have to see.

I am off on my weekly grocery shopping jaunt. I don't like grocery shopping at all. I am an in and out kind of gal-I have my list,and I zip through. The earlier I go,the less crowded it is and the faster I can get back home to do what I like to do!!! :)

Have a great day!

Monday, May 10, 2010


I went down to the basement on Friday night after we returned from Dartmouth to check on my seedlings. While my tomato plants were now starting to show their true leaves,my peppers were seemingly at a standstill. I lifted one of the peat pot cells up,and lo and behold,there were roots coming out the bottom of some of the pots. I knew what that meant for Saturday: I had to transplant them to bigger containers.In the above picture,you can see some of peppers on the left,herbs in the middle,and tomato plants on the left. I had started to switch the plants,as you can tell by the white cup,which at one point held Italian Ice. We have been saving cans,half and half cartons,Italian Ice cups,Crystal Light containers,and sour cream containers for this purpose.

I picked the best looking plants and got rid of the rest. I recycled the old soil as best as I could,whether I used it to help transplant or added it to our compost bucket.

When I was checking things out on Friday night,I checked on my recently started cukes,pumpkins,and cantaloupe. I had just planted them on Wednesday. Below is a photo of what my cukes looked like.

I couldn't believe it! The sprouts were pushing the cover of my seed starting tray up! My pumpkins were getting there as well. These roots were coming out of the peat posts,so I knew I would have to transplant these as well. I was able to get a few transplanted,before I ran out of soil. My brother in law Brian,had gone to the store and while he was there he picked me up some "keg cups",since I went through the cans,etc that I had saved up. However,I couldn't work on them without soil,and since we weren't getting to the store again until Sunday,it would have to wait.
So today I am going to transplant the rest of the cukes,pumpkins,and cantaloupes that are ready for it. I hope to get some seeds planted outside today,if the weather holds. Today it's quite chilly,and overcast. Hopefully we will not have any rain!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Rick has been asking me what I would like for Mother's Day. I really didn't want anything,since we need to do so much around here,and we need each cent we have. He insisted that I must what something-anything-for My Special Day. I insisted back that I didn't-honestly-need anything,but if he wanted to do something,a nice breakfast in bed would be great.

I was awake at 7:00 AM,when I heard Rick come in. He was checking to make sure I was up...breakfast would be ready soon. Nice!

Rick and Zach came in with scrambled eggs,toast,OJ,and a cup of coffee (black-I don't like anything else anymore). Zach handed me the plate,and a homemade card that thanked me for being his Mom-how sweet! Zach and Rick had made the breakfast together,which I thought was great! Zach has been wanting to learn how to cook,and since Rick does most of the cooking now,he has been showing him things here and there. Zach put at DVD into the player and told me that he knew since I loved the Beatles,he knew I would love watching "A Hard Day's Night" while I ate breakfast. So I did (though I didn't get far in).

Rick emailed me a card,which he wrote himself,thanking me for Zach and for picking him. What a sweetie!!

Mother's Day is here again,and I decided to find out exactly how we came to celebrate it,so I looked it up. Apparently,Mother's Day has been around in some form and under various names for eons. If memory serves, I believe at the time of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock it was called "Mothering Day" over in England,but the Pilgrims stopped celebrating it. Why,historians are not sure. Whether it has to do with it being against the strict religious way of the Pilgrims,or it has to do with the fact that they had too much to do to to establish themselves and considered any form of holiday a folly is uncertain. Mother's Day was started in earnest as a Civil War protest my Julia Ward Howe,famous suffragist and composer of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." She wrote a poem that was a call for all mothers to rise up against war that would lead to the death of their sons. It took a while to catch on,and was celebrated on different days until it finally came to it's permanent home on the second Sunday in May. The meaning has certainly changed from what Julia Ward Howe intended. Now it's to honor Moms and the things they do for their families.

I am fortunate that today I can celebrate Mother's day with both my Mom and my Godmother,who happens to also be my sister! We are going down to my sister's house for Mother's Day dinner,and to celebrate my brother in law's birthday.

To all you Mom's out there------Happy Mother's Day! Have a lovely one!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Echocardiogram and Joint Replacement Class

Like I mentioned in my last post,Friday Rick and I went to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon,NH for the first of his pre-operative appointments.

We left at about 8:15,and arrived at 10:10,just shy of an hour before Rick's 11:00 AM appointment. We wanted to get there a bit early for a couple of reasons: 1) parking is an issue. There are at least four entrances to the hospital,and when they mail you the appointment date and time,they also tell you which lot to park in (the lot depends on where in the hospital your appt. is,to save walking all over). Ours was by the Main Entrance,and we usually find one in the back row. 2)We want to make sure we have time to find where we are going,since we have only been in the hospital once,and this place is BIG! They do have an information desk right there in the Main Lobby,if there is a problem.

We had no problem finding where our first appointment was. His first appt was an Echo cardiogram. This is standard procedure at Dartmouth before any surgery,to make sure the patient will be able to tolerate surgery. With Rick,it was not only trying to see if he could tolerate it,but if he could tolerate having both knees done at the same time.

The staff at Dartmouth are the nicest,most helpful people in any hospital we have ever been in (and with Rick's medical history,we have been in quite a few over the years). When we checked in,the receptionist thanked Rick for his service,which I thought was nice. It was still 15 minutes before our appt when the receptionist came over and informed us that the nurse who was doing the test was running a bit behind because the Dr had an emergency,so it might be an extra 10 minutes. No problem. Then a few minutes later the nurse (whose name,sadly,I can't remember) came out and apologized for the delay,she only had to clean and redo the room and we would be
all set.( We wound up getting into the room at 11:04-to me,that's not late at all...we have had appts where we didn't get in until over 30 minutes past our appt!)

When she came out to get us,I stood up to go in with Rick,as I usually do,and she said,'We normally don't let spouses come in,but if you would be more comfortable having your wife there,that is no problem whatsoever." Rick said that he would,so we both went in. The nurse told me while Rick was out of the room for a moment that they usually don't let extra people in the rooms during testing because most of the time,resident students come in to observe ( Dartmouth Medical School is in the same building)and that other Drs come in and out,and there isn't much room. But she had read Rick's file,and since he has PTSD and TBI,she figured he would be more comfortable with me there.( She was dead on. Rick gets very uneasy in new places,plus he has a hard time remembering what he is told,so I am his advocate. Even if she had said I couldn't go in,I would've insisted and would have done so,anyway.Legally I have that right.)

Rick laid down on the table,and removed his shirt. The put some electrodes on his chest,and hooked him up to a couple of monitors. Because he can't run on a tread mill,which is how they normally conduct this type of stress test,he had to have an IV in which they inject a medicine to get his heart pumping fast. Before they inject anything,they take pictures of his heart,with an ultrasound. I was sitting behind the gentleman who was taking the pictures,and I must say it was really cool to see Rick's valves,chambers,etc and how the blood flow goes in and out. Even though it felt like it was just the four of us,in the next room there were cardiologists watching their TV screens which were showing them what Rick's heart was doing.They wanted to see certain angles,because 1) Rick had heart surgery in 2008 after his stroke. A hole was found and they fixed it and 2)Rick has a 30% block in his left bundle branch of his heart.

At any rate,once they took the photos,they then injected him with the medicine,and his heart started beating faster,which was also cool to watch. It wasn't beating fast enough,so they wound up giving him more medicine. His heart rate had to beat 147 beats a minute,the same as if he had done the treadmill.He had to tell them if he felt pain,if it was hard to breathe,etc. Happily,he had no bad effects. The whole thing took about an hour. We should get the results at the beginning of the week,but we got nothing but positive comments,including from the Dr who popped in,a Dr Forrest.He is the one who will read the results and send them to Dr Bernini,Rick's surgeon. I wish I could remember the nurse's name,she was wonderful,and I thanked her for her kindness when we left.

Our next appt was at 2:00,so we had time to truck down to the Food Court and eat a leisurely lunch. It was nice not to have to rush. I had no idea where "AF" was,which was where our "Total Joint Therapist" appt was,so we asked at the information desk. Right down the hallway on the left with the rest of the Auditoriums. Auditorium? So this was a class? We really had no idea what the appt was about until she said that. We thought it was a one on one appt with a therapist. So this was the class we had to attend. Auditorium F,here we come.

There was quite a few people in it,mostly folks in their 60's or so.Some people were having hip replacement,some single knee,and some were planned for bilateral knee,like Rick. The lady who began the class was a nurse for 30 years,worked in the field,and was a joint replacement patient herself. She explained about what to expect before,during,and after the surgery,and right up to the first appointment 4-6 weeks after the surgery. She told everyone that their lives were about to change-a life without pain,and when she said that,Rick and I looked at each other and gave each other a high five. Poor Rick,his daily meds were kicking in,so I had to keep poking him to wake him up throughout the session.( If he is not doing something and just sitting,he will fall asleep after he takes his noontime meds.)

The second speaker was a Physical Therapist,who spoke about what they were going to do to get them up and moving at the hospital. He discussed climbing stairs,using a walker,getting in and of bed,and exercises. The third speaker was an Occupational Therapist,who showed what the patients would need at home-a raised toilet seat,a seat for the shower,etc. The whole class was about 2 1/2 hours,with a 15 minute break. We also received a binder with all kinds of information,and a DVD.

We left at about 4:20 and got home around 6:30. Though the day was long,it was a good day. It is making the surgery more of a reality,and Rick and I are getting more and more excited about it. We know he will be in excellent hands.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Time Flies,and Black Flies

Here it is,Wednesday already. Time flies when your busy working outside,doesn't it? Something that also flies are those darn black flies. They should be the NH state insect,if they aren't already. They are the most annoying things on earth,at least until they go away and the mosquitoes take over. Seems like if it isn't one thing,it's the other.

The woods across the road are in full greenery now. I love this time of year (with the exception of the above!) Blossoms are coming out..the grass is green...the sky is a beautiful blue...the weather starts turning warmer. How can one not love this time of the year?

We have been busy little bees. We finally got the blueberry bushes planted,so we shall have to see next year how they do. Today we have finally finished our raised beds. The mix is all in them. We started building them on Saturday.

Here they are without the fill. I have two others on the other side of the garage. Those two are for my strawberries (planted yesterday)and for my kitchen garden. I did also plant my onion sets yesterday in one of the below boxes.

One of the things we used for the fill was our pile of compost,which is comprised of leaves,grass,and pine needles. It has been sitting there since Spring of 2004. It's great,nice black soil with plenty of worms in it. Rick built a sifter so only the good stuff would go into the garden-no rocks,or miscellaneous "treats". At first,we sifted the dirt onto a tarp,but then,once we figured out how many cubic ft the wheelbarrow fits ( 1.5 cubic ft),we skipped the tarp and just sifted the dirt into the wheelbarrow its self.

We also used some vermiculite,humus and manure ( to give our compost a few more ingredients) and peat moss. Next year our compost will comprise of more ingredients,but we didn't really start composting our kitchen scraps until a couple month ago. Plus,we will have the turkey and chicken poo besides.

Mixing all of this was a lot of work! We wound up with about 72 square feet of compost mixture. We have 7 4x4 boxes,one 4 x6,and one 4x4 that is 12" high. This will be for our carrots and potatoes.

We were outside filling boxes when all of a sudden,Rick stopped and listened. "What's that noise?" he asked. I happened to look off to our property line and a chicken came into view! Rick and I both laughed. Our neighbors chicken was walking along our mutual property line,checking things out. She just poked around,then went back into her yard. It was quite cute.

Today I started our Straight Eight and Pickling cukes,our pumpkins,and our cantaloupe. My tomatoes have just started their true leaves,but my peppers are still not producing them. They are still on the first set. Hmmm. I know they take a while,though.

Tomorrow is a muffin date with My Dear Friend Michelle and then a much needed day of housework. My floors are crying for a good washing! It is suppose to shower tomorrow,but if the weather improves,I will have to go back outside and plant more seeds!

Friday it's off to Dartmouth Hitchcock for Rick's Echo Stress test,the first of his pre-op appointments. That should be interesting. They have to make sure his heart can take the stress of the operation. I say if he can deal with the pain he has been in for this long,what's a little old operation? :)