Normally I’m pretty careful in the yard. Obviously you’ve heard a few times where I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, but those are actually pretty few and far between. It’s been two years since I dropped the patio stone on my toe.
I have two pairs of red clippers and they stay closed most of the time, especially if I’m walking around or doing steps. Kinda that old “don’t’ run with scissors mentality. The reason I have two pairs is that when one has to go to the hardware store for sharpening, I still have one at home. Can’t go a week without my red clippers!
But last week something new happened with the clippers. I was trying to get as far down on the root of a “volunteer”; I probably should have used a bigger tool for this project, but the bigger tool was in the garage and I was in the front yard. Enough said. Anyway, it took a bit of force and then suddenly the root gave it up and the clippers slammed shut. Unfortunately my index finger got pinched between the handles. I mean seriously pinched. I said some very colorful things, pretty loudly and had to sit down for a minute as I got a little dizzy.
The mishap didn’t break the skin, but the blood blister rose up immediately and the whole tip of the finger turned a few ugly shades of purple. And it hurt like crazy. Right about then Jenai came home from some errands and brought me a wet paper towel, some antibiotic ointment and a bandaid. The rest of the gardening that day was done left-handed.
It looks much better now but still hurts if I put any pressure on it at all. I have to say I’ve been VERY careful about the red clippers since then.
The word on the streets of New York is that there is a new “rat mitigator”; the headlines are screaming “A NEW RAT CZAR”. Her actual title is City Director of Rat Mitigation but it hasn’t taken long for the czar moniker to have grabbed ahold of everyone’s attention.
I know that czar gets added to a lot of titles – Bird Flu Czar, Climate Czar, Energy Czar. My favorite is Elliott Abrams title of Democracy Czar during the GW Bush administration. Czar and democracy seem like odd bed-fellows to me.
I feel a little sorry for the new Rat Czar; it can’t be an easy job and it’s hard to imagine that in a contest between rats and humans, that the rats don’t hold most of the cards. But you never know!
Husband came home Wednesday from his work day in Bismarck to find his right big toe was swollen from gout. He drives to Bismarck on Tuesday nights, stays at a hotel, and works at the Human Service Center all day on Wednesday. Sometimes he takes lunch with him from home in a cooler, but he often just scrambles for lunch on the fly from the grocery stores. Wednesday it was hummus.
Chickpeas are really bad for gout. He knows this, but really loves hummus. He still eats it. He also is seriously allergic to cats, but we have had cats in our home for 35 years. A dripping nose and sneezing are more tolerable to him than the absence of purring. A swollen toe is worth some hummus. I know I could never give up down pillows or comforters if I became allergic to feathers.
My Uncle Alvie, the poker player, always broke out in hives when he ate fresh strawberries. He always feasted on his wife’s homegrown strawberries though, no matter how itchy he got. I know that allergic reactions can be serious. I had a graduate school friend who would go into anaphylaxis if she walked into a home with gerbils or guinea pigs. A work friend recently got a bunny for her son and after a few hours her eyes swelled shut and poor Coco had to go back to his breeder. They were heartbroken.
Do you have allergies? What would be hard for you to give up for allergies or health issues?
Some of you probably remember the frantic phone calls and/or emails from me on Friday, March 13, 2020. It was the week the world turned upside down. I’d had a few cancels already but didn’t really think having a Pi Day party was a big deal. Then I spent all of Friday morning reading online articles about the virus, its spread, the possible consequences lurking around the corner and decided I didn’t need to add to the problem. It really bummed me out as I had already shopped for all the ingredients, set up things in the dining room and even made the placecards.
Back then I was one of many who thought it would be over by the end of summer. Nobody was really saying pandemic yet. Thinking I might have a Pi & ½ Day in September, I put the placecards and the list of ingredients in the drawer along with my “which pie goes in the oven at what time and what temperature” spreadsheet. Of course September was out of the question. So was March 2021 and even March 2022.
So Pi Day 2023 was easy peasy. All the upfront planning was done. And since I am (mostly) retired, I had plenty of time to do some ahead-of-time prep. I even had the nametags done from 2020. 11 pies (Dutch Apple, Blueberry, Red Velvet Whoopie, Vanilla Crumb, Banofee, Crack, Pecan Dream, PB Crunch, Pear Croustade, Lemon Custard, Berry Cobbler). I got done in record time. The pie was great and the camaraderie was warm.
Why should you never start talking to pi at a party?
Husband describes himself as a left handed person, so one would think that the small fracture he currently is sporting in his right wrist wouldn’t be as big a problem as if had he fractured his left wrist. Well, that isn’t the case at all. Husband writes and reaches for things with his left hand. Those are things he learned before the age of 5. He does everything else with his right hand, including throwing balls and fine motor tasks like buttoning and tying his shoes. He also has carpal tunnel issues with his right hand, so his fingers don’t work that well.
It has been an exhausting learning experience for him to make his left hand work in ways it is unaccustomed to. I am unusually dexterous, so this is all painful for me to watch. I suppose this is a textbook case of mixed lateral dominance. We are supposed to write and throw and kick with hands and feet on the same side of the body. Husband writes with his left hand, but kicks and throws with his right hand and foot. He is also right eye dominant. Can you imagine how hard it would be to navigate the world not knowing what eye, hand, or foot to use? Husband’s father was a lefty. Both our children and our grandson are righties, so I hope the mixed lateral dominance gene has been evaded for future generations.
Are you a lefty or a righty? Know any lefties who struggle? Any stories of lefties who were forced to change to righties in school? Ever broken a bone?
The cabinet guys come on Monday so I’ve been slowly but surely emptying the kitchen and breakfast room so they can do their work. In the breakfast room, along the windowsill, I found one of those temporary hooks filled with face masks. Various designs, although a preponderance of black. This kind of “put up a hook and hang stuff of it” is right up YA’s alley so the only surprise was that I hadn’t noticed it earlier. This is in addition to various other places we have masks, including a little pocket of them in my car.
Then later the same day, an Amazon package got delivered and YA came up stairs with two boxes of covid tests (I almost typed COVID-19 because that was the protocol at my job but now I don’t have to, do I?) When I asked YA why she got them she said “we’re running out”. There was a lot of testing around here when YA had covid in July and then we were seriously exposed the end of August, and then the first weeks of December to make sure my cold was really a cold.
In the last two weeks I’ve been to the theatre and to a concert. The concert required a mask and the theatre recommended (and I complied). YA and I mask on planes.
The new normal feels like it has snuck up on us, although considering we’re 3 years in, it’s kind of a silly way to think. But if you stop to think about it, most new normal do sneak up on you. I could never have imagined today’s technology and medical advances when I was a kid.
Anything you never thought you would ever get used but eventually did?
The end of another year, pretty fitting that it happens on the last day of the week. It just fits the calendar so nicely and it feels so right that the last day of the year, the last day of the month, also ends on the last day of the week. And then we begin another month, another week, another year on the first day of the week. No open squares, it just all seems better that way.
The end of the year, all the old hackneyed, banal phrases of closing out another chapter, turning the page, another chance to try it again. But they still apply.
On the farm I will collect mileage from all the vehicles and the hours on the tractors and the lawnmower, the four-wheeler, the gator, and even the total gallons on the diesel barrel pump. I put all the data in my spreadsheet to compare with the other years. (At one point I believe we had to report the mileage to our accountant and there must’ve been a deduction for farm mileage or something. Now it’s just all under the standard deduction but I have always enjoyed keeping track of things like that). I also have our farm balance sheet that I will spend the next month working on. It’s fun for me; I like compiling the data and seeing the changes, adding pretty colors, and formatting it.
During 2022, I kept track of how many dozens of eggs I moved out of the house. It was easier keeping track of the dozens going out then it was the eggs coming in. The last few weeks I haven’t actually moved very many, so counting the eight dozen I have on the counter now, I moved 320 dozen eggs. That’s kind of impressive. That’s 3480 eggs. Which averages 10 eggs per day for an entire year. Back in October I only moved about 10 dozen, while between March and August it was upwards of 30 per month. If you count all the chickens around here, which is somewhere between 40 and 50, 10 eggs per day doesn’t seem like enough. I never said I was looking for efficiency, I’ve always said it was a chicken retirement farm.
I’ve also been getting crop inputs finalized for next year. Prepaid some fertilizer, locked in prices on some other products, and finalizing my seed orders. It’s discouraging that fertilizer and chemicals are as expensive this year as last. Hope for another good year of crop production and prices. I expect prices will have to crash and we’ll all take a loss one year before things will come down again.
A lot of the stuff we do before the end of the calendar year so that I can take the financial expense this year. There’s also typically a discount on pricing when you order sooner. My seed company discount goes until mid-January, and I expect to be driving again by then so I will get that done at that point. We paid off all of this year‘s crop loans, paid off another small loan on my truck, and paid a good chunk of an operating loan. Also, at the end of the year the equity checks come in from the various co-ops that we belong to. March 2023 will be 19 years since I sold the milk cows. The dairy co-op that we sold to, AMPI, has a 20 year payback on their equity and so for the last 18 years I’ve been getting a check for a few hundred dollars from the dairy co-op even though there has not been a milk cow on the farm. The check this year was for $200. There’s $2.48 remaining in my equity. Seems to me it would’ve made more sense to just add it on too this year‘s check. But whatever, one more check from the milk cows.
We are all glad the weather has finally warmed up. The ducks finally got out of the pond and actually came back up in the yard. Chickens, squirrels, pheasants, and lots of birds are out and about and enjoying it. The show has melted off the deck so I can go out there and walk around a bit.
I am getting along very well on my knew knee. (Gnu G-knee!) And the 37 staples were removed from the incision on Thursday. The doctor gave me a good report. A few days prior to that Kelly took me out for a ride in the gator, it was just nice to get out of the house. She even took me over to the shop and I got up in the tractors. Just to say I could. Again, after all the trouble I had the spring and summer, I didn’t really think this would stop me, but it still felt good to get in there. I sort of expect to be driving again this weekend and I may have to take over snow clearing duties soon.
Prior to the surgery I had to remove the two earrings that I wear. I asked daughter to put them in. She doesn’t have pierced ears, and she’s never done earrings before and I thought this would be good practice for her. As a guy, I can’t get them in myself, I generally ask Kelly. Daughter got one in and Kelly got the second one.
Years ago when I was giving a farm tour to some elementary school kids, a little girl asked me about the ear tags that I put in the calves ears. I was kneeling down and face-to-face with her and I told her it was like getting your ears pierced. I have a very vivid memory of her looking to my ears at the same moment I Iooked to hers. I had earrings, she didn’t and I thought to myself, this is a fascinating little discussion and I wondered if she’s going to go home and ask to get her ears pierced.
One of the movies I watched this week was ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. One of those movies I’ve heard about and seen bits of, but never seen the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I also watched ‘All That Jazz’ for the 349th time. I was home alone so I had it loud to make it the best it could be. And I picked some new bits out of it. I never get tired of that movie.
Kyrill, our Cesky Terrier pup, was neutered on Tuesday. He was really good at leaving his incision alone at the Vet Office, but started licking it once we got him home, so I got a cone from the vet.
Kyrill hates it. It is made even more awkward by his shape. Kyrill has a long snout, so he needs a good sized cone to keep that long snout away from the incision. His legs are really short, though, so unless he holds his head up high, the cone drags on the floor. The cone also pushes away or obscures things he wants to pick up. This makes eating and drinking difficult.
We tried a soft cone that looks like a life preserver, but it wasn’t wide enough and allowed access to the incision.
I considered a dog recovery suit just for this purpose, but I couldn’t find one in town, and if I ordered one, it would take too long to get here. I also didn’t relish the idea of wrestling him into an infant onesie every time he needed to go outside. We can’t crate him easily with the cone on, so he hangs with us and looks miserable. We hope for quick healing so the cone can go away.
What are your experiences with the cone of shame? How do your animals handle being under the weather?
Boy, If I was gonna pick a week to stay inside, last week was the week to choose. Although 5 months ago when we set this up, I wasn’t expecting this weather yet. I think there’s some record of the second week of February being historically the coldest. I do remember February 1996. Daughter was born in 1995 and that February she was in the NICU with a bad cold. Kelly spent nights there with her. I was still milking cows and doing chores and it was -42° one morning. That’s the coldest I remember. An owl spent the night in the garage it was so cold. And some yahoo went 4-wheeling with his truck in one of our fields and got stuck and came into the barn looking for help. I wasn’t very nice to him, but I did pull him out. Eventually.
This cold weather is also a helpful remind that I didn’t turn all the heat on in the house this fall when it first got cold. Because we have electric heat, all the rooms have thermostats and individual breakers. I turn them all off in the summer. When it started getting chilly, I turned on some of them. They’re not all labeled, so I only turned on what I thought were the important ones.
Then later we started saying ‘It sure is cold in the living room’ forgetting that I hadn’t turned everything on. Until last week. I managed to get my knew knee (I know that’s wrong, I just enjoy the alliteration) down to the basement for several things, including going in to check that breaker panel and oh. Yea. Only about half are on. We don’t use the basement for much, so I set those all to about 50° and turned on all the heaters. Boy, there’s nothing like the smell of dust burning off a heater.
Got my grade for Meteorology class. ‘A’. I don’t take classes spring semester; too much other stuff going on.
The ducks are spending all their time in the pond with this cold weather. Maybe to stay warm, maybe to keep it from freezing. It has shrunk up a little bit as the stream of water coming into it is pretty light. We seem to have picked up a couple stray ducks. One flies away when Kelly approaches, but there’s still an extra in the pond too. Alumni? Possible. And the chickens don’t have much interest in coming out of the coop either. Kelly opens the doors and throws out corn for them. But no Thanks. We’re fine. They do have water, corn, and egg layer ration in the pens. No reason to come out if they don’t want too. The guineas come out a bit further, but even they don’t go far.
I’m getting around pretty well on the knee. Better than I would have expected at this point. It’s still uncomfortable due to some swelling, and it’s still all sorts of colors. I get a little stiff in the shin and calf. Takes a few steps to get the muscles and tendons loose and moving. Using a cane 50% of the time and walker 25% and nothing 25%.
I’ve hit the BDDT phase of recovery. ‘bored, discouraged, depressed, and tired’. Hard to sleep at night just cause I have a hard time getting comfortable. And eventually, lack of sleep just makes me grumpy. But I’m surviving!
Did you know there is drone racing on TV?? On NBC! With fancy lighting. And drones, which I don’t care so much for, but the lighting is cool. Found a lot of old B&W movies on these new TV channels (new to us. Something called ‘Pluto TV’ which I haven’t quite got all figured out). Jack Lemmon in ‘Operation Mad Ball’. Spencer Tracey in ‘The Last Hurrah’ (with Basil Rathbone and John Carradine. Man, what a long face he has! And he sure could scowl!) ’12 Angry Men’ and things like ‘The Professional’, and several versions of Pink Panther movies. Plus, ‘St. Vincent’ on Netflix. Highly recommended.
Kelly continues to be my rock star. Not only doing all her work, but my work too. She really has never liked cold weather, so extra accolades on her for getting up early and going out to collect eggs and feed everybody. The day she spilled water into her boot I thought she’d quit. But she’s almost starting to enjoy driving the tractor and plowing snow. Almost.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH A WEEK STUCK INSIDE?
Husband has always taken great pride in his leather belts and favorite buckles. For Christmas he asked for a black braided one with a silver buckle. His old braided one is wearing out.
Husband is very fussy about having what he considers just the right belt with just the right trousers. He is concerned, though, about the increasing difficulty he is having keeping his trousers up. He is turning into a skinny old guy. Pants and belts don’t fit the way they used to. He is thinking seriously about investing in suspenders.
He is worried that with suspenders, his shirts won’t stay tucked in the back. He used to wear suspenders in college in the 1970’s, considering them a badge of hippiedom and free thinking Now they are an old guy’s solution to drooping drawers.
What articles of clothing are you particular about? How do clothes fit differently now than in the past? Ever worn suspenders?