Archive for March, 2016

Can’t refund your damage deposit

Occasionally, but thankfully only rarely, the guests in one of our vacation rental homes will damage something, and we have to charge them for the cost of repairing or replacing whatever it was. Some of you may remember the horrific goat fiasco of Easter 2015, and just last week, a guest ripped and stained (black speckles all over it?!?) a king sheet. Then when we attempted to charge her the $60 to replace the sheet set, the credit card number she had given us was invalid. Oh, well, that is part of the cost of doing business.

But today we had another case in which a “guest” damaged something and failed to pay.

It’s spring here, and our grass weed collection is getting longer and needs to be mowed. And as we all know, it is the nature of riding mowers to either not start or not cut when first pulled out after sitting through the winter. Our rider was true to its nature, so Scott took it to our neighbor, Austin, a young man who did repairs on it for us last year. He does a great job, his rates are reasonable, and as mentioned, we only have to haul it 1/4 mile down the dirt road next to our house.

Today Austin contacted Scott with the news that one of the residents of our lawn building – I’d like to say a squirrel or maybe our friend, “Chuck,” but probably the rat that the guys saw jump out of the mower when they tried to start it – must’ve decided that a certain wire in the mower was positioned so as to make his bed somewhat less than comfortable. . . or maybe it was just that access to his bed was somewhat less than convenient. In any case, he took authority over that obnoxious wire and used his dental skills to cut it. The replacement of that wire is forcing a slight delay in our mower’s repair, and unfortunately, I think we’ll have about as much success collecting for Mr. R’s damage as we did for that damaged sheet.

I do so like a productive day

All of mine are not, and I know that I am still a valuable and precious person even on days when I accomplish virtually nothing, but this was one of those truly luscious days when I didn’t have to go anywhere at all; always a bonus for a homebody like me.

I had had a tough night and so slept in a bit, but I walked my usual four laps, including visiting briefly with my neighbor whom I have invited to come to church on Easter. She’s planning to come, assuming she’s not scheduled to work that day, and she’s really jazzed about seeing Andrew portray the devil in the Easter drama.  = )

For the first time, I successfully worked my way through some vacation rental business financial stuff that I am training to do for Scott. I went as far as I could with it, and then there was an issue with VRBO that will require Scott’s input, but I still felt awfully successful.

I dealt with several of the details of a somewhat complicated purchase I need to make.

I moved some money from one bank account to another.

I contacted DISH because John the technician came a couple days ago to upgrade our dish and box, and I was really impressed with his attitude, his demeanor, his professionalism, and his clear explanation of what he would do and what he had done. He told me that I would get a robo call within 24 hours, asking me for my feedback on his service, and he explained how important those kinds of reviews are for DISH employees. I am always glad to commend people for great service, so I was really disappointed when the call came, and all it said was to press one if I wanted to continue in English (I did) and then thank you and if I had any problems with my service to call DISH! AARRGGHH! So I called DISH today to tell them what a fine job John did, and that was good.

I went to the church to let in the guy who needed to pick up the lift we had rented to replace and position lights for our Easter drama this Sunday.

I baked cranberry date bars for a potluck dinner tomorrow evening.

I prepared red beans and rice and cornbread for tonight’s supper.

I washed dishes several times throughout the day.

I worked on my book.

I prepared a list of “feeling” words to help me better identify how I feel in various situations.

I took a short walk, just to Lane’s driveway and back, in the cold and wind this afternoon.

I did my stretches three times (15 minutes each).

I added a number of commitments to my wall calendar and phone calendar.

I watered my tomatoes and peppers.

I’m going to bed!


Suckers running

Every year in mid to late March, the suckers (a kind of fish) come up Bull Creek from Lake Taneycomo en masse, I suppose to spawn, and this year has been a bumper year for suckers. On a recent morning, the water just up from the bridge was BOILING with fish!

It’s been fun to watch the fishermen do their thing. Normally, the way to catch suckers is to put on your waders, set up your six-foot stepladder out in the middle of the creek, hang a 5-gallon bucket from a hook on the ladder, climb up, and gig (spear) ’em. I’ve seen some of that this year, but the other day I watched two good old boys standing on the bank in their cammo gear, line fishing for suckers. I kid you not, they would throw out their lines, wait no more than ten seconds, reel the fish in, take it off the hook, drop it in the bucket, and cast again. Those two guys were each steadily catching fish in under a minute apiece. Amazing!

The thing I don’t like about sucker season is that the anglers peel the skins off the fish and leave the skins in piles on the bank, or in the water right at the bank, hundreds of them. I think they should haul their trash off and bury it somewhere, rather than littering “my” creek and creek bank with it.

Shorter shah-PEENG?

As has been my habit for the past twenty-plus years, I do our grocery shopping every week. I do 92.5% of it at Wal-Mart, where, as I have whined repeatedly in the past, there seems to be a strong tendency toward discontinuing items – especially ones like toothpaste, deodorant, hairspray, and mascara – that I buy regularly but infrequently. Take mascara, for example. I’d buy one, and a few months later when it was getting low, I’d go to Wal-Mart to get a replacement, only to find that they no longer carried the brand and type I wanted. Then, because I was running out of it, I’d have to quickly either try to locate it at a different store or quickly find a different brand. Once I realized that this type of challenge was not just a one-time event but was occurring with some regularity, I started buying such products three at a time. That way, I at least have some margin when they cease carrying a particular item.

Last August, Andrew began attending school, and many aspect of our lives changed, including grocery shopping. For several years prior, he had always accompanied me on my weekly Wal-Mart run, “driving” the cart for me and nearly single-handedly. . .

  • loading it all onto the belt (in my preferred order, and while chatting cheerfully with the checker)
  • loading all the bags back into the cart
  • pushing the cart out to the car and loading all the groceries into the trunk
  • carrying the bags into the house, and
  • (with increasingly less help and supervision from me) putting all the stuff away

WHAT a blessing he was to me on Wednesdays!!!

But now all the above falls to me alone, with the result that the total time involved in a standard Wal-Mart run, from leaving our house to having it all put away, is two and-a-half hours. Wow! That’s a lot of time, and I have been giving serious thought to how I might recapture some of those valuable minutes for other more important projects and activities.

It occurred to me that there are some things that I seem to buy every week of my life. Produce, of course, but also lunch meat, cheese, eggs, bread, “crunchies” (our family term for things like pretzels, crackers, and chips), etc. As I meditated on my shopping habits, I realized that we do have an awful lot of storage capacity. We have a great pantry, plus a canned goods shelf and a crunchies shelf in the playroom. We also have an upright freezer and an extra fridge in the cellar. So. . . I have recently been experimenting with not buying everything every week.

For example, we use about two and-a-half gallons of milk a week, which means I’m lugging two or three jugs into the cart, onto the belt, back into the cart, into the car, into the house, and into the fridge every single week. But if I bought six gallons of milk (which lately has been dated nearly three weeks out – yay!), yes, I’d still have to do all that requisite hauling this week, but next week I could skip milk, and instead stock up on, say, three kinds of cheese and two kinds of bread. And the third week, I’d do milk again with two kinds of lunch meat, and three boxes of eggs, followed in the fourth week by, for example, loads of canned goods.

My theory is that then I wouldn’t necessarily have to do every aisle of the whole store every week, and while I would have a heckuva lot of a few things each week, it shouldn’t take as long to put the load away, because there’d be fewer different items.

My plan is to review our stash each week and ask myself, “Do I have enough of this to get all the way through one to two  weeks?” If yes, I don’t buy any of it. If no, I buy at least three to four week’s worth of it.

I’ve been endeavoring to do this system for most of a month. Give me a few more weeks and ask me how it’s working.

Duh heel bone connecta to duh. . .

Knee bone.

It was indeed gout in my left heel, and it did subside after a few days. Less than two weeks later, the inner side of my right knee began to ache, and by the time I figured out that that was gout too, the pain was so intense that I could NOT bend my knee at all.

(Do please note that a bum knee leaves one much more ambulatory than a bum heel. With the former, although the knee absolutely will not bend a degree one can hobble around stiff-legged, and can even drive, albeit illegally. With the latter, crutches are required.)

Thankfully, my doctor is available by email, and he agreed that it sounded like gout. He called out a prescription for a three-pill med regimen of colchicine. The instructions say to “take two tablets by mouth at the first sign of a gout flare, followed by one tablet one hour later. Well, I got the med three days after it flared, but I took it as directed (and thankfully had only one of the NUMEROUS and challenging side effects listed on its paperwork). Colchicine, combined with insanely high doses of Aleve and ibuprofen, began to bring relief in 48 hours, and I am about 87% back to normal now. However, this all means that I must reduce my uric acid – by hook or by crook – so I am eating less meat, and endeavoring to drink even more water. I feel like a sponge!

Once the inflammation and pain in the knee is totally gone, I am to start on a different daily med to lower my blood uric acid level. For six months. Sigh. But rather than resenting the meds, I am choosing to be thankful that God gave somebody the insight to come up with them and that they are working well to regulate various things in my body properly.


Primary pain

All along, I have liked Marco Rubio best, and I really wanted to vote for him.

I also like Ted Cruz and could be fine with him as our president.

I disagree with some of John Kasich’s policies, but he would obviously be much better than Hillary or Bernie.

I will not vote for Donald Trump.

My original plan had been to vote for Marco Rubio today, but because he had no chance of winning Missouri, and because Ted Cruz did have a chance (albeit a slim one), I voted for him instead.

Tonight, my main man lost Florida and, heartbroken for our nation, suspended his campaign. But the way things are looking now, I may still my get my wish to vote for Marco Rubio; if neither the Democrats nor Republicans can nominate acceptable candidates for the general election in November, I will with a good conscience write in Marco Rubio. And that wouldn’t be my first time to choose character (and conservative policy and common sense) over electability in the voting booth; I wrote in Alan Keyes in 2000.

Three more firsts. . . what a year so far!

In the spirit of 2016 being the year of doing new things for the first time, last week I added three of those to my list: walking on crutches, using an electric wheelchair, and going to Urgent Care (for me, not for a kid with a sliced open finger).

It happened this way: Thursday night I went to choir. I really enjoy our community choir rehearsals. They are two hours in the week when I don’t have to think about kid issues, church people issues, marital issues, shopping, cooking, cleaning, or laundry responsibilities, the pile on my desk, or anything on my to do list. From 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Thursday, I think ONLY about choir and music and singing, and it’s loads of fun.

But that night, about halfway through choir, the outside of my left heel began to ache. Now, at 55, I must confess that I have had several bodily parts occasionally express odd levels of discomfort for seemingly no good reason, and this ache certainly fell into that category. It got worse throughout our rehearsal, and I figured it was probably related to my only doing my calf stretches (to prevent plantar fasciitis) once a day for the past six weeks instead of the faithful three times a day I did them before my hysterectomy. I went to bed thinking that it was surely just some weird thing that would be gone in the morning.

It was not gone in the morning.

Early Friday morning I needed to pee, but I could not bear ANY weight on my left foot. It was horrific pain – enough to make me yelp and cry – and I half hopped, half crawled to the bathroom and then took two ibuprofen. The pain was intense, but after an hour it was a bit better and I managed to do my walk, albeit in slow motion. However, at four hours, the horrific, unbearable pain resumed and I took two more ibuprofen. Which didn’t seem to help much and wore off completely in three hours. At which point I took two more, and they helped not the least bit at all. I knew I couldn’t keep taking ibuprofen every two hours, and since it wasn’t doing anything anyway, I quit that, called my doctor’s office, and took the earliest available appointment on the following Tuesday afternoon. I then went to the pharmacy and bought a pair of crutches.  = {

Saturday morning, the foot was somewhat worse, and Scott thought that the level of pain I was experiencing might indicate a break. A break? Well, maybe, but exactly how would one break a bone in one’s foot while sitting in a pew and singing?!?!? He took me to Urgent Care where an amount of being wheel-chaired around and three X-rays later, it was determined that nothing was broken. The doc there said it was either my plantar fasciitis flaring up (in which case I should rest it completely for two days, take two Aleve twice a day, and then resume my stretches five times a day), or it was a torn ligament (in which case I should rest it completely for two days, take two Aleve twice a day, but not do any stretches because they would only make it worse).

I hobbled home and spent the rest of the day crutching all over town (O, my aching pits!) with Katie for a wide variety of items needed to stock our newly acquired vacation rental home. In both Target and Wal-Mart, I sucked up my pride and used one of those electric chairs; in so doing, I was repeatedly reminded that I am clearly not licensed to drive those kinds of vehicles, and that backing up is totally humiliating.

Having rested and Aleved the foot thoroughly, by Sunday morning I was able to bear weight on it with only a slight limp, so I went crutchless to church and to our THRIVE meeting that evening.

Monday was better, almost normal, but I kept my Tuesday afternoon appointment and I’m really glad I did. Dr. Salmon ruled out both plantar fasciitis and torn ligaments, saying that he strongly suspected acute gout, a condition about which I knew literally only one fact: my dad had had gout. Dr. Salmon, who is a wonderful medical detective and instructor, explained it to me thoroughly, and I will summarize for you: gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid which then crystallizes in a joint (or in my case, in the lining of a tendon), causing extreme pain. Uric acid is what the body metabolizes protein into. Because I take a diuretic twice a day and so lose fluid, my tissues are tend to be somewhat dehydrated (despite my guzzling great quantities of water), and the level of uric acid in my blood is even more highly concentrated than that of the average bear. Indeed, mine checked out at an impressive 10.7  mg/dL, when it should be below 6.0. Well.

Dr. Salmon thought that cutting my diuretic back to only once a day, which would keep me better hydrated and thereby dilute my uric acid concentration, would probably solve the problem without my having to take uric acid-lowering medication. I really DON’T want to have to take any more meds! So I skipped my second dose of the diuretic for one day and promptly gained three POUNDS of fluid in my ankles(!!!), so that didn’t work, and I’m back to two doses. Right now, I am advised to lower my intake of protein (very sad) and beer (no sorrow there), continue to drink plenty of water, and wait and see if I have any further attacks. I am believing that I won’t.

My crutches are in the cellar now, and it is my fond hope that they will stay there unused forever.

Samurai squirrels

One day last week, I was looking out the window while washing dishes (Note: every kitchen sink should have a window above it.), and I saw something very funny. A squirrel was dancing on the upside-down lid of the bird seed can! I kid you not. We keep our bird seed, all 100 pounds of it, in a metal trash can with a metal lid. The lid has a metal handle, and we keep a big rock on the lid right next to the handle so that the squirrels can’t get it off. But the lid was off. It was upended on the floor of the smokehouse, right in the doorway, and since the handle kept it from lying flat, the squirrel was hopping around in it, dancing back and forth as the lid rocked. And each time it moved under him, he had a startled look on his face.

The sight was terribly humorous, and since it had clearly been caused by my main bird feeder filler having inadvertently left the lid off the can the last time he filled it, I went up to our Llama’s room, woke him, and told he simply had to come see something in the smokehouse.

Well, by the time he got to the window, the squirrel had completed his pirouettes and moved on, but Josiah claimed he had NOT left the lid off. And I seemed to remember watching him replace it a day or two earlier. . . To humor me, he did go out and refill the bird feeder (or “re-feed the bird filler,” as he and I like to say), and when he replaced the lid I watched him put the rock back on. This was midday on a given day.

Late the next morning, I found myself again in the kitchen and looking out the window. Imagine my surprise to see the lid off the can!!! There was a squirrel in the smokehouse, but he was not dancing on the lid. Jo went out again, replaced the lid, and put not one, but two large, very heavy rocks on it. He then told me that Andrew had told him that the around 11:00 the previous night, while watching a movie, he (Andrew) heard a loud metallic crash out back, in the vicinity of the smokehouse. We figure that crash was the work of our samurai squirrels. They must be serious body-builders. Either alone or in tandem, they are evidently strong enough to push one heavy rock off the lid, and then, while standing on the lid, pull it up and off. (It’s been a long time ago, but I did at one time see one squirrel standing on the lid and pulling up with all his might.)

So far, the heavily laden lid has not been removed. We shall see.

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