Friday, July 21, 2017

All that's fit to read

A fellow blogger and Texan recently (as in this week) published his first book.  And what a book it is!  LawDog, as he is known on the net, has published his first book via Amazon, in e-book format, with the dead tree edition soon to follow.  This bit of news was cause for much celebration and laughter here at the casa.  We have followed 'Dog's blog for years now, and always enjoy his tales, both of his unique upbringing in Africa, and of his work in rural law enforcement in Texas.  It is the latter which is the subject of his initial book, The LawDog Files.

I purchased the book while riding shotgun in the truck today, visiting various Doctors Orthopedic, dining on Hard 8 BBQ, and bemoaning the state of traffic in the Metromess.  Of course, I immediately began reading.  I couldn't help but laugh, loudly enough to receive inquiry from DH.  So I began to read to him as he drove.  Sort of an Audiobook...with giggles.  I couldn't help it--it's that good!

His second book, tales of growing up in Africa, is due out in a month or two.  You can check for updates on that, if you follow his blog, also known as The LawDog Files, btw.  He has posted a pre-order link on the blog, for those who are ready to order early.

If you enjoy reading funny stories (most of them anyway) with a take on rural Texas life and law enforcement, you will love this book.  'Dog has a wicked wit, and quite the unique turn of phrase.  I personally, am eagerly looking forward to the second book, African Adventures.  I want to read The Ratel Pit again!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Probably gonna rain again...

The Silverado Sage is blooming fiercely again.  That usually means it's gonna rain within 2-3 days.  It's nearly (moreso sometimes) as accurate as the weather forecasts.  

And it is better looking than the weatherguessers!
One day, we hope these will all be a large silver-grey and purple hedge around the pool deck.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fun at the Tour de Paris

This year, due to DH's recent hand surgery, and a distinct lack of cycling this year, we decided, when approached  by the Chamber of Commerce, to help out with the Tour de Paris through our church, by running a rest stop, aka SAG stop.

Our church happily agreed to volunteer warm bodies to man the SAG stop, and also to make lots of homemade cookies to give out to the cyclists.  The ride has a large number of cyclists typically, usually 1000+/-.

We took charge of a relatively remote SAG stop on the 66mi route.  It was around 31 miles into the route.  We got set up at a local landowner's property just down from an intersection on the route.  The landowners were great to work with.  They let us set up along their fence, granted us parking in their driveway, and also access to their water in case we needed more.

Getting set up
The ride began at 8am, but we were on site by 7 and set up ready to rock before 8am.  We had expected it to be hot and humid, as is typical in Texas for July.  However we were blessed by fairly heavy cloud cover all day.  There were storms in the area, but for the most part, the ride was dry.
There was even bike--mobile EMS!

We didn't see as many riders as we had expected, due in part to a time cut off (riders had to make a certain rest stop by 11am in order to continue on the 66 or 80 mile routes), and I think also due to the rain potential.

The first shift crew.

I think everyone who got a chance to serve the cyclists had fun.  I know we did.   I look forward to either helping out again next year on TdP, or riding it.  It is a nice way to give back, to a community (local and cycling) that we care about.  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

I miss these guys...such good dogs.

When your big sister paints you in peanut butter--The perfect peanut butter removal system!

Oh lordy, they were young once...

Hurry up and shoot more arrows!

I miss this guy so...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How high is the water, Mama?

It's 3' high, and rising!  Since Friday night/Saturday morning, we have had over a measured 6" rain here at the casa.  The storms have been freight-training over us.  The intermittent creek out back is running high.  The ponds along our road out of the neighborhood are overflowing.  We've had to kick on the pool filter early to keep the main pool from overflowing twice now.  If it overflows, it will run off to the back of the house, which needless to say is less than optimal!

The weather up here along the Red, is just different, than that to which we were accustomed in the Metromess.  The storms track in along a different path, and there is a lot more lightning.  Normally I love a good lightning show, having been known to go up to Malott Hall late at night, on the KU campus to watch storms from up on the 7th floor.

Local radar from this morning, tracking west to east right over us.

But here, out in the county, it is normally very quiet, if you overlook the guinea who screams at the sky, and the blueberry bushes, and anything else that he takes a fancy to...  Except during storms, and the 4th of July when he screams at everything.  More folks out here do bigger fireworks than some small towns!  It's a lot of fun!  There's a huge retailer 5 mi. down the road, and they have reasonable prices.  Our local veterinarian even opened up his parking lot to clients and the animal shelter volunteers, brought out a big stereo system, and hired the snowcone van to park there and sell goodies to the kids.  This way we all had a nice place to park, and sit on concrete and watch the fireworks that Paris put on, July 3rd.

Unfortunately, Indy hates both storms and fireworks.  Up here, both of these are loud!  We have a Thundershirt for him.  It helps a little bit, but not a lot.  We think when he was running stray in his former life, he got shot at by someone, because of how he reacts to anything that sounds vaguely like a gun shot.  For him, it leads to a panic attack.  We've even gotten Frankincense oil to apply.  It seems to calm him down a little too.  But neither gets him to totally chill.  Last night, I put him in our bedroom, the furthest from the fireworks noise.  He still spent the time in there pacing, drooling copiously, and, well, that's probably enough description of the flood in our room.  Just another reason to love tile and laminate flooring!  And just to add to the mix, Bullet gets a bit antsy when Indy is stressed, so he will pace the floor, click clack, click clack, click clack, with those big ol' Ridgeback claws, all night as long as Indy is stressed.
Bookend Ridgebacks.  Bullet on the left, Indy on the right.

The 4th of July weekend may be over, but the rain continues.  I'm hoping  the weather will begin to spread the storms out a little, to one a week, instead of every other day!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Eagle Rare Life Character Awards

Eagle Rare Bourbon sponsors an annual award of significant dollar value for the honored recipient.  Many are nominated in a variety of categories, and one is chosen per category.  The voting runs for a long time, to give more people the opportunity to participate.

This year, a good friend of mine, is in the running for the Character Award.  He is Roy Hughes, founder of Texas Independent Rhodesian Ridgeback rescue, aka TIRR Rescue.  I know of no one, more dedicated to the dogs he has contact with, than Roy.  I know first hand, the energy and resources he pours into TIRR, his life's work.

Roy saying goodbye to my Charlie.  Roy drove 2hrs to be with us, on Charlie's last day.  He also took him afterwards, to Brother Ben for cremation.

I know this, if Roy were so fortunate as to receive this award and the funds it comes with, that money would all go to the dogs care and housing.  I know it would be well spent.

If you would be willing, follow the link below to the voting.  You can vote daily, from any device you have, for the duration of the voting (which is long).  Once there, you can bookmark it on your devices, or just refer back here to get the link again.

Eagle Rare Life Character Award Voting link

Friday, June 23, 2017

Busy week ahead

Looks like I will have a busy week next week, what with MonkeyBoy's birthday, and DH's impending hand surgery, plus our foster dog Sarge came up lame this morning for some reason.  I'm currently waiting on the vet telling me what time they have time open to see him today.

So yes, it will be busy next week.  MonkeyBoy is growing up fast.  He finally hit a growth spurt, and got longer rather than wider.  He's still not quite as tall as me, or his younger sister, but I seem to have to keep buying him longer and longer pants!  He is also maturing nicely, though at times he needs to rein in his temper.

Stenosing Tenosynovitis is the official name for what is wrong with DH's hand.  Two fingers on his dominant hand are currently affected.  For some reason, this problem is overly common amongst diabetics.  I can't learn of a good reason why this is so, only that it IS a common complaint.  Also according to our favorite Orthopedic Surgeon, diabetics just do not respond well to non-surgical treatment (aka cortisone shots).  He says every single diabetic who received a cortisone shot was not fixed.  Yet only one surgical treatment that he has done had the problem recur in the treated finger.  We are well aware of how cortisone affects blood glucose (badly!), so we did not consider that a viable option anyway.

His surgery is late next week, so if you are so inclined, I would appreciate any prayers you care to utter for DH, and those involved in his care and treatment.  I trust his doc, lord knows I have enough scars to prove that!  And though it is a minor surgery, it still carries risks, especially as a diabetic.

And then there is poor Sarge, our local foster pup.  He came up very lame this morning.  Bad enough that he clearly does not want to bear weight on that front leg.  I don't know exactly what he did to it either...he seemed normal last night when I crated him for bed.  At least he will get to see a vet today or tomorrow I think.  The local shelter has approved a voucher for his treatment.

Then there is the normal household stuff to do, plus planned lifting M-W-F, plus maybe a short bike ride or two...I expect next week I will feel like I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off!

UPDATE from Saturday:  So today we tackled replacing the main pump motor for the pool.  Thank God for Youtube!  It wasn't technically difficult, really, but there are some parts you DON'T want to break!  (Can you say impeller?)  Plus the videos were not an exact match to our system, but we managed, and once done, we got to do the leak check.  Powered up the motor, and voila!  No leaks, no howling bearings, and a whole lot more water flow through the system than before.  Yay!

Then it was time to chainsaw more logs to size, and split and stack them all.  At this point, we need to gravel in the remaining wood pad if we are going to split more wood.  We got about two hours of work done on the wood pile before we were willing to call it quits for the day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

EuropaDallas 2017 and Inzer gear

Saturday, DH and I decided to go all the way back into the Metromess (my 3rd trip in the week!) to go to the KBH Convention center for the EuropaDallas 2017 Fitness Expo.  Neither of us had been to this sort of convention, though we have been to numerous other conventions in our lives.

None however, were quite as noisy as the Europa!  OMG, was it LOUD in there!  Between the annoying Rap Music blasting out of vendor booths, the dance stage music trying to be loud enough for the dance crowd to hear, and several thousand people having to yell across tables just to converse, it was a darned good thing DH didn't wear his 'ears', or what little hearing he has left, would've been gone! (His 'ears' are mainly amplifiers, without the ability to cancel out unwanted noise.)  Seriously, it was so loud, you could've fired a pistol in there, and no one would've been the wiser!

The vendors were mostly well represented, with lots of protein/food/clothing sellers.  The glaring gap in vendors was the hardware sellers.  Only Troy Barbell and Inzer showed up.  We had hoped Rogue, and Texas Barbell would show, but no joy.  There were some other sellers of wraps/sleeves/belts, but none I had heard of before the Expo except Inzer.

I had been looking for a set of knee sleeves or wraps, as my right knee is no longer 100%.  My doc says I can have a new knee in another 12 years, as I am approaching a bone-on-bone situation on the medial side.  After seeing a Rippetoe video on using wraps, I decided I would try those instead of sleeves.  Sleeves are faster to put on, but the wraps are infinitely adjustable.
I found the Inzer booth at the Expo, and opted for a set of their Gripper wraps, so there would be less slippage of the wraps in use.  I was hoping for some improved support for my knee during squats.  

I got to use them last night, during our lifting session.  All I can say is "WOW!"  I did not expect the amount of support I got from a medium tight wrap!  At first it was sort of like walking around with what I called 'robot legs'.  It felt strange, not bad, just odd.  Then it was time to squat.  It made a huge difference in my stability!  I was sold on them after the first set!

DH thought he would try them too, just to see,  He doesn't have any big knee problems, his issue is a very cranky hip.  So when it was time for his squats, we got him wrapped up.
The Bees Knees!

He started his warmup squats, and lo and behold, the Heavens opened, the light shone down on him, and there was only joy, not pain in his hip!  Don't ask me why, but wrapping his knees made his hip WAY less painful!  Honestly, I suspect it is controlling some sort of internal/external rotation of the hip, but whatever it did, it was great!   Thank you Inzer!  Needless to say, we will be ordering him a set of wraps too!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Working Weekend--Lumberjack Style!

Two weeks ago, Monkey1 spotted an advertisement in the local classifieds.    "Free firewood.  Must take it all.  First come, gets it all."  Well, not being one to turn down free firewood, we drove out that same evening to see how much there was, and whether we actually wanted it.  The wood was two loads worth in the truck, and not horribly rotted out, so we agreed to take it.  The landowner was prepping his home for sale, and we happened to spot that he had an hydraulic splitter in back.  Casual conversation ensued concerning said splitter, and it was found to be in pretty good running condition, starting up readily.  A price was negotiated, and a payment date agreed upon.

Meet my new Best Friend!
A Huskee hydraulic log splitter, either 22 or 22 ton, we're not sure which.  It could stand new wheel bearings, but the motor and ram are in fine condition, so the wheels can wait.

This weekend was planned to be a working weekend, splitting and cutting  and restacking our existing wood pile.  Much of what we had previously cut and split is too long for our new wood burning fireplace insert.  We are standardizing on 16" logs to make them more manageable in the insert.  This will be our heat source in the coming winter/cold seasons.

This was the initial pile to split.  I was going to run the splitter, with Monkeyboy managing the logs.  Once split, it would be carted over to the main storage pile and stacked neatly...something that needed done with the entire split pile if truth be told.

DH was going to run the chainsaw, shortening logs to 16".  This is his work area.  Monkey3 would be helping him.  Their working stack of logs is shown below (2nd picture).  The splits you see are ones that need to be cut down to 16", and possibly resplit to a more manageable size.

After about two hours running non stop, the pile of logs needing to be cut down looked like this.  We made quite a dent in it!

We also got quite a lot of it split and stacked.  You can see the change in the woodpile by comparing the two photos below.

Original woodpile.

The pile with the newly split wood added.
There remains quite a lot of work yet to do, but we did make a lot of progress today.  And, neither DH nor I feel like we got beat to death doing the work.  That alone makes the investment in the log splitter WELL worth the expense.  And to be honest, we paid less than 25% of the cost of a new one.  Some folks might call it "cheating", but I'd call it "working smarter!"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Learning to let go

It happens, seemingly in the blink of an eye.  They just grow up so fast...

It's all part of growing up, I guess, learning to let go.  Being an at-home parent has meant I had control of who/what/where/when, for all our kids.  I am the one, learning to let go now.

Our oldest Monkey, is getting a wonderful gift from my sister.  My sister is flying our Monkey to her home, and then taking her (and all my sister's extended family) on a vacation to the Carolinas.  This will be a two week trip, Monkey's first extended trip without us.  Most of the people she will be with, she will meet for the first time.  This will push her a bit out of her comfort zone.

She is excited to go.  It's been in the planning and waiting stages for months now.  Her siblings, Monkeys 2 & 3, are excited too...that they get two weeks without their big sister!  Little do they realize, they will have to do HER share of the chores, in addition to their own work loads!

I'm actually doing fine with the concept.  Mostly... mostly it is the realization that she is nearly a 'legal' adult now.  Only a couple more years to go, and she will be able to vote.   And enlist.  And drive.  But NO dating until she is 47!  HA!

Loaded out, and pulling away from the terminal, there was a prayer or two uttered.  As a mom, it just comes with the territory.  I know she will have fun.  And it wasn't that hard, putting her on the plane.  

So I watched, as the jet rumbled down the long runway at Love Field, slowly gaining speed and pulling up, breaking free of the grip of gravity and the Earth, taking with it, our eldest child, on her big adventure.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hillary Step?

There have been conflicting stories in the EuroNews this week as to the potential demise of an iconic mountain climbing obstacle, Everest's Hillary Step.  Some stories are saying the Step collapsed due to a 2015 earthquake.  Now,  I'm no paid photoanalyst, but I do have some experience at it.  To me and my eye, the only difference is the snow pack in the current 2017 photo.

I have added reference marks to the photos below.  You decide.
2016 photo
Above is the Hillary Step on Everest in a 2016 photo I found online.  I have marked it up in red, some key features to look at.  They are big rocks on a steep slope.

And here is the 2017 photo, reportedly taken last week.  The angle is slightly different, but all the same points marked above, are still there...but there IS a lot more snow.  Must be that global warming and all, don't ya know?
May 2017 photo

Sunday, May 21, 2017

It depends on your definition of normal...

Last week my ortho doc cleared me to resume all normal activities with my busted finger.  Doc P. did stress how lucky I was that it healed with no discernable problems, ie: it healed straight, with full range of motion, to the point that looking at it from across the room, he wasn't sure which finger was the broken one.  He said it should've required surgery.  Normally it would've, but by now, he knows I'm just not normal.

For those who know I lift regularly, I am going light on heavy carries/deadlifts for now, as the hand is still a bit tender.  I don't want to do too much heavy carry work until the fractures have some more time to solidify and fill in.

He also mentioned that he'd lost he own wedding band again.  Said he lost it in his pond when it was cold out.  I offered DH's and my services to go wading in the pond to recover it.  We have metal detectors, that while not fully submersible, are capable of shallow water hunting.  I told him I was wearing a Ti ring that DH had found a couple years back with his detector.  It's big enough (too big really) to fit over the finger that broke, and after 18yrs of wearing my wedding band almost 24/7/365, it felt really weird not to have a ring on.

I've taken a liking to the light weight of the Ti metal, so since Doc P. said it would be "months" before my finger returned to a normal size, I have been looking for a suitable temporary wedding band to wear.  Fortunately, Ti is inexpensive yet highly durable.  This time next year I will look into resizing my original band.  If that proves too costly or impossible to duplicate the patterning on it, DH and I will look at a replacement gold band.  Sadly, the small artisan shop where we purchased our rings way back when, has gone out of business.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

It's too early to harvest, isn't it?

On my way to and from the Orthopedic surgeon yesterday, I noticed that the wheat here is ready to cut.  What?!!  It's way too early to be cutting wheat, isn't it?  I guess not here, where I did see at least one field of wheat that was already cut... It just seems strange, having grown up where the wheat gets cut in late June.
And some folks are even cutting and baling hay already!  Strange, I tell ya, strange!  Though, some of our blueberries have ripened, and are quite tasty.  I can't wait until we have enough to make a pie...or three.  And the tomatoes are getting bigger, and the Monkeys picked a pepper (while still was supposed to be a red one).  The inch worms are doing a number on my red romaine lettuce.  The rest of the garden seems to be surviving at least.

On a sad note, Sarge's adoption did not stick.  He had a bad case of separation anxiety, and some outside stressors, that caused him to misbehave.  He was returned to the shelter, where I picked him up yesterday.  He dropped back into life at the Casa just fine, though he is limping from a minor (I hope) injury acquired trying to escape a fenced yard (not mine).  As you can see, he seems quite content to use Monkey3 as his pillow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sarge goes home!

A couple of months back, we as a family, decided to foster another dog from the local county shelter.  I had seen his pictures at intake, and he was a cute houndy thing, and utterly devastated at being in the shelter environment.  He was well cared for there, I know, but he was terrified.  And that fear showed in every picture posted of him.  And he was on "the list".... he had been there too long.

We humans know what "the list" means.  Many dogs do not, but some do.  Sarge knew.  You could tell.  When Monkey1 and I went to collect him for fostering, he was so scared of us, he would not come OUT of his kennel run!  I think he thought we were there to put him down, or something, rather than our true purpose of rescuing him.

When he got to our house, he slotted right into our house pack, with no squabbles, and really no trouble at all.  He even housebroke almost immediately!  He also began to relax, that very first night.
First night out of the shelter.
As time went on, I made a promise to him, that no matter what, I would not subject him to a kennel environment again, even if it meant finding his new family might take longer.  But it felt like the right thing to do, making that promise.

We took him to various adoption events, trying to show him off to folks, but always we seemed to show up at the slow time, or on the cold weather windy days, when no one wanted to look at a biggish dog.  Until last Saturday, when at last, Sarge's true family arrived.  They found him, and fell in love with him.  They adopted him, and he went home that same day with his new family.  They have been so kind, sending me pics of him in his new home.  He seems to be settling in well, and looks happy and relaxed.

I am so happy for them all!  And though we will take a break for a little bit, from fostering, once the timing is right again, we will foster another dog.  We might also do the short-term foster thing, where the shelter needs a slot for 2-3 days for a dog until they can go to a breed rescue, or on the Freedom Van, or to hold for an approved adopter.
Sarge, chillin' on the pool deck.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Garden Update 2017

Spinach, Red Romaine and Salad Bowl lettuce
Rainbow colors in the Chard
The garden continues to grow, because of, or in spite of all the rain we've had this spring.  We had our second harvest from the salad portion, last night.  The first time, I just harvested some Swiss Chard to sautee it in garlic and olive oil.  It was pretty good.  Last night though, was a regular salad.   Red romaine leaves, Salad Bowl lettuce, spinach and Swiss Chard.  It will be a while yet, before any sweet peppers or tomatoes are ready.  Still, it was a tasty salad.

A note on Swiss Chard.  This is the first time I've ever had Chard.  I got yellow and red stem varieties.  Coupled with the dark green leaves, it is very beautiful.  It is also growing like gangbutsers!  Some of the leaves I used last night, were the size of mature catalpa tree leaves!
Now that's some BIG Swiss Chard!

I plan next harvest, to use the leafy portions in a green salad, and the stems will get chopped and sauteed in butter and soy sauce.  That's how I cook asparagus, and the chard stems are very asparagus-like in flavor and texture.

Part of the tomato jungle
The bush variety tomato plants are doing better than I expected, in the hay bales.  They are already very bushy, and are setting tomatoes.  Good thing we like salsa here, or I might be overwhelmed with tomatoes in another month or two!  Sadly, for the proposed salsa, the peppers, both green and hot varieties, are not faring so well.   In the straw bales, only 4 of a total 12 plants are thriving, 6 died, and 2 are barely hanging onto life.  The 4 though, are setting peppers, so there is some hope.  And the hot peppers planted out front in the dirt, are looking a little moth-eaten.  I may have to spray them with Sevin.  At least they didn't die though, and theyre setting a few hot peppers too.
The Bell peppers

I must add that I am thrilled with our blueberries!  Despite this being their first season in ground, they have all set fruit, and we will get a decent harvest, considering how young the plants are.  I hold out hope, that they will all survive, and produce lots of berries in the future.  We are just a wee bit fond of blueberries here...!

The fruit trees have all leafed out.  One little peach tree, set a ton of fruit in early spring, but we culled it all, so the tree could devote its time to root growth, not fruit growth.
Red Romaine