Category Archives: Health

Cone of Shame

Last week Guinevere took a flying leap off the back porch steps in her never-ending pursuit of squirrel removal in our back yard.  Not that this pursuit has ever shown any positive outcomes.  When she came back in, she was limping a little and leaving a little trail of bloody spots on the kitchen floor.  When YA and I wrestled her to the ground to take a look, it turns out that she had ripped one of toenails partly off below the quick.  Ouch.

Neither I nor YA was brave enough to clip off the nail so YA carted Guinevere off to the vet where they applied a little anesthetic and loped it off.  Of course that turned out to be the easy part.  Guinevere, like most dogs I assume, just could not leave the toe alone.  I’m sure after the drugs wore off, it hurt so she reacted as animals do.  Licking.  And licking.  After not long a time, she had licked her little pad raw and she didn’t show any signs of stopping.

At night we were able to wrap her foot and leg up within an inch of its life (antibiotic ointment, bandage, sock, lots of painter’s tape) but during they day, she had the wrappings off within minutes.  YA found a cone of shame up in the attic and brought it down to try to keep her away from the foot.

This turned out to be awful for the dog and for me (dog spends more time with me at night).  When we put the cone on her, she was beyond paralyzed.  She wouldn’t move, wouldn’t lay down and after about a half an hour, she started to breathe a little heavily.  Her eyes said “please, please save me” and I couldn’t stand it; I took the cone off, made her get on the bed with me and re-directed her every time she took a lick.  This went on for DAYS.  And do we even need to say that repetitive noises (like a dog licking its paw) drive me up a wall? 

Finally at the 10-day mark, she has mostly stopped bothering the toe.  The quick appears to have covered over and her pad is now longer licked raw.  I’m not sure who feels better about this – Guinevere or me?

Have you ever had to be cruel to be kind?

Mid February in Minnesota

Today’s post comes from Ben

The weather is all over the place. One day it’s 5° and windy and a little bit ugly out. One day it was 30° and almost sunny. I was seeing some 40s in the forecast but they’re gone now and it is teens and single digits, which I thought we were past. I’m ready to be done with winter.

Not much happening here on the farm, still finishing up bookwork, doing a few tweaks on Spring planting needs, and I am as boring as a one armed Lighting designer with post it notes covering my sling. Recovery still goes well, I’m off the pain meds, I’m tired of the sling already and I have over a week to go. At least it’s not five weeks to go. (The sling kinks a little at my wrist and that was bugging me. I solved that by stuffing a hotpad in there for more padding) I am moving slower than molasses in February but at least I have two legs to stand on. And I’m not wrestling ducks with one arm.

The bottom fell off one of our birdfeeders, it got to swinging in the wind and simply unscrewed. And squirrels, trying to get at the corn in the feed room, chewed through the cord of the tank heater down by the barn. The cord comes out through a crack in the feed room door, so it was in their way as they attempted to gain entrance. I took the cord back up to the shop and put a new receptacle on it; I can do that pretty much do one handed, then we fastened the cord higher up so hopefully it’s out of their way. We use this tank of warm water to thaw ice in the buckets that have froze. (The chickens like water out of a bucket better than the water in the heated water bucket.) We seem to have a lot of squirrels around this year. It’s driving the dogs nuts. Here’s a picture of Humphrey gazing out the window.

I’m having trouble washing my hands, it’s hard to wash ‘hand’. Dictation on the Mac laptop works pretty well. As does dictating to my phone. Trying to hit “Control, alt, delete” on the computer has proven difficult. Some of that is simply the keyboard being too far up on my desk.

Kelly has plowed the driveway, filled the birdfeeders, does chicken and duck chores morning and night, feeds the dogs, drives daughter around, drives me around, and tries to get some work hours in when she can. She is pretty impressive.


Virtually Fun

Since my local State agency and Husband’s State agency in Bismarck are considered health care facilities, we can’t have in-person office gatherings in which we share a meal due to pandemic protocols.

Yesterday, the social committee at my agency held our annual Christmas party over lunch hour. We all filed in to the main meeting room, filled our take-away containers with deep fried turkey, knoephla soup, and all manner of casseroles and baked goods, and returned to our offices to fire up our computers to play trivia games in a Microsoft Teams meeting. We also had a scavenger hunt to find things in our building that were either red, gold, green, or silver, based on on the team we were assigned to. I was on the red team. I took the red fire extinguisher off the all outside my office to show on-line, along with all the red items in my play therapy room.

In Bismarck, Husband’s party was also virtual during Wednesday’s lunch hour. Each “work team”, in its own space, staged a tableau from a well known Christmas movie, again, with computer video, and others were to identify the movie via chat. The Psychology Department depicted a scene from “Jingle All The Way”. This was followed by an all-out, virtual Pictionary game drawn on a white board for people to guess the Christmas song depicted. Everyone’s answers were delivered via Microsoft Teams chat. The food came from the Pizza Ranch.

We all want to engage with one another, and we miss the camaraderie. We enjoy our coworkers so much. Virtual is as good as it gets for now. Oh, for the days when we all got together for a catered meal and live music at the Knights of Columbus Hall with spouses and partners in tow, and the Regional Director would get blitzed and start singing, and there would be pinochle into the wee hours. We were all younger then.

What are your best and worst Christmas parties ever? What kind of party would you throw if there was no pandemic?

Just Say No

There are two State Highways that intersect our town. One goes east/west. The other goes north/south. The east/west route, known as Highway 10 or Villard Street, runs through our business district. The railroad runs parallel to it. There are, at intervals on either side, extremely large, full-sized billboards. Most are for local insurance agencies, for local companies advertising for new employees, or are displays of pro-life messages from our local Roman Catholic organizations.

I was rather astonished the other day to see a new billboard by the Hardees fast food restaurant boldly declare “SAY ‘NO’ TO INCONTINENCE” in huge letters with very little other information on it. Husband got a better look at it, as I was driving, and said it was for some sort of women’s spa.

I have no difficulty rejecting incontinence. Who would? I just wonder if this would make a successful advertising slogan.

What are some of your favorite or least favorite advertising slogans? Any beloved or despised jingles?

Winter Farm

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Well I guess it’s winter this week. We had 4 inches of unexpected snow on Tuesday. maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention to the weather but I don’t think anybody expected that much snow. At least it was light and fluffy.

And then it was cold. I had one below zero Wednesday morning! I went down to open up the chickens and they were in no hurry and had no interest in coming out. One chicken, who always ends up in a different side of the pen, ran to the door, stopped and looked, pecked at some snow, and turned around and went back inside. Didn’t blame her a bit. Even the ducks weren’t too interested in leaving the water. I threw corn out to them at the pond. 

The deer have started to group up. I took this picture coming home one night. That’s just one group. Usually there’s about three groups this size. This is why I don’t like the deer. Too many of them.

Almost done with class. We had to write a paper about a park or an area and of course talk about the rocks, waters, and land uses etc. I wrote about our farm. Understanding the history of the glaciers coming through and the forces that have shaped the land and the types of rock underneath is really pretty interesting. I will have that submitted before you read this. And then a final in class on Monday and then that’s it. Then maybe I can start working on my basket of farm bookwork.

Or maybe not. My left shoulder has been giving me trouble for years. But not enough to really cause any issues. Until about two weeks ago. One night out of the blue I went to lift my arm and it hurt like all get out. Then it got better then one night again it hurt so bad I went to the ER, but of course by the time I got there didn’t hurt so bad. Had an MRI done on it and as of now, still awaiting results on that. But I foresee rotator cuff surgery coming up shortly. well, that will certainly make me reevaluate some things.

My good friend Paul, the one who occasionally comments on here, had rotator cuff surgery about a year ago. He had a terrific recovery so he can be my guide.

Tuesday night after the snow, Kelly rode in the tractor with me as we bladed the driveway, so she’s ready to tackle that on her own if necessary.

I think I can still design lights with one arm. I need the computer to program and record cues. Obviously someone else should be climbing ladders. Notice I said “should“. No, if it comes to that, I will behave. I can still program the light board with one arm.”

So we’ll see.

Ever received or sent a dear John /Jane letter? How did that go?


I have a dear friend whose husband is dealing with a serious, life-shortening illness.  She’s been away from her home for over a month now while he’s been at Mayo and they are looking down the barrel of a long series of treatments.  I visited her on Sunday and she told me that she had woken up the day before with a better attitude.  Apparently another friend of hers had just been to a funeral for an infant who had died of SIDs.  The realization that there were other tragic things going and if others are getting through their horrible stuff, she could too.   It’s not an easy thing to do – try to find some balance in the face of trauma and grief.  And the last two years have certainly given us plenty of that.  a

It seems pathetic to suggest that pandemic has brought us anything good, but as I was thinking about all this, I placed an order at Target for pick-up.  You select your items on the app, pay for it online, tell the app when you’re leaving for Target and when you get there.  Then you sit in your car and they bring it out to you.  Easy peasy.  You can wear your sweatpants, you can have spilled your lunch on your shirt, you don’t have to comb your hair and better yet, you don’t have to search for a parking spot and you don’t have to go in the store!  There is yet one more advantage – no impulse shopping; if all you need is grenadine and diet pop, that’s all you get.  No cookies or chips off an endcap!

While I cannot wait for us to be able to say we’re looking at pandemic in the rear-view mirror, I am hoping that the drive-up option remains.  I am so addicted already.

Any other silver linings you can think of these days?

End of October

We got 0.4” rain Thursday night. Made a puddle where I throw out corn and the ducks appreciate having their drinking water 5 steps from the food.

It’s gonna get cold next week. I better take the outside faucet out of the wellhouse and move the pressure washer someplace heated. I supply straw to a neighborhood strawberry farm to cover their berries in the winter. They took 150 bales right off a wagon this summer and now they’re ready to cover the berries and will need another “15-50” bales. And another person near them wants 15 bales so I will take 60 over on a trailer tomorrow.

I saw Lowes the other day, selling regular size small bales of straw (not the mini- decoration bales) for $13 / bale. Wowzer! I need to raise my prices.

I haven’t had time to do any farming the last few weeks. The neighbors are all crazy busy combining corn and doing fieldwork and doing all that stuff they need to do. I’ve got a show to open (Will be open when you read this) plus the finishing touches on the theater remodeling project (Open house on the 6th) and a Lab quiz Monday in Geology class (identifying rocks and minerals) so studying for that plus regular class homework. So, I don’t have time to farm anyway for a couple weeks yet… what I have to do when I get time is get the new gear box put on the brush mower and finish working on the grain drill and other things on my home “To do” list.

Duck update – Missing the old, balding, poofy one… down to 6 poofs. And it’s hard to say if the old one died or got snatched. The five black and white ones are still there, the 4 cream colored ones are still there, and I have a hard time getting a good count on the brown ones; 20 or 21 but they’re still there.

We have 3 guinea fowl on the farm. They’re terrible mothers; lay a nest of 20 eggs and get up and walk away after the first 6 or 8 hatch. Usually a cold rainy day in October. Last week one day, first cold night with freezing temps, there she is with 6 babies.

The three seem to be cooperative parenting. And the 6 babies have made it a week now.  But don’t hold your breath.  We could catch them and move them inside… but that takes a while and it’s more chores and I just can’t take it on right now. We had been taking about getting more guineas next summer anyway.

I was at the doctor this week; nothing serious, just ‘old man skin’ and had a couple spots frozen off. Lost my only wisdom spot… guess I wasn’t using it enough.

I mentioned the other day I’ve had music of ‘Pink Floyd in my head all week. Still there. I’ve been listening to a lot of that. Loud. It’s better that way.

Here’s some of the neighbor’s cows at our place.

Did you ever think you were going to get old? How does it compare to what you imagined as a kid?

A Glass of Water

Today’s post comes from Steve

A week ago I was hospitalized in an obscure room of Saint Paul’s United Hospital. My doctors were divided. Some wanted me to avoid all liquids. Some wanted to hydrate me immediately. Hours went by with all sorts of tests, and meanwhile I kept getting more desperately thirsty. I couldn’t talk because my tongue kept getting stuck to the roof of my dehydrated mouth. And then the decision came down: I could drink as much as I wanted. They serve cold water in paper cups in that hospital, with most of the space filled up with soft, easily crunched ice. I went on a crushed ice binge that was so joyful I almost wept as I chewed.

We should never take good drinking water for granted. The Saint Paul city water I get from the tap has won prizes for palatability. I keep a jug of it in the fridge, and it is a treat. Great water is the start of great coffee, which I appreciate. When I moved to Happy Valley, a suburb of Portland, the local water reeked of chlorine. I couldn’t bear drinking it, and coffee made from that water was grotesque. I had to install a filtering system before I could tolerate that water.

I was guilty of bad planning once, shortly after we moved to Oregon. Some family and friends decided on a whim to hike up a trail to a mountain peak overlooking Crater Lake. The trail was not short, and it ascended rapidly. We all began suffering from thirst in the 90-degree air. We finally hit the crest and could enjoy the view, but we all were in distress because we were so thirsty. Bright spring water bubbled out of the hillside. Water never looked so delicious, and yet we knew the prettiest spring water could be filled with giaradiasis, the dreaded “beaver fever” bug. As I recall, half of us were strong enough to resist the most tempting water we had ever seen. And in the end—which with giardiasis usually involves both ends of the body—nobody who drank that water got sick.

I was even thirstier than that once. I made a plan to “through-hike” the Superior Hiking Trail. Through-hiking means you start at one end and walk to the other end of a big trail. A day after hiking south from Grand Marais turned bad when I got confused by the trails. The Superior Hiking Trail itself is not terribly large or obvious, and on that afternoon I got lost when a bunch of smaller trails intersected with the SHT itself. It was August, blazing hot, and all streams along the trail were low. I knew I was in trouble when I began hearing traffic from Highway 61, which should have been well below me but was not. And then I found myself hiking the shoreline of the big lake.

Superior is so big and clean it is safe to drink in most places. Those places do not include shorelines, but I was not in a position to be picky. Out of my mind with thirst, I threw my body along the shore, plunged my head in the lake and began inhaling. I was there a long time. When I got up it seemed to me the lake had lowered a few inches, but I couldn’t be sure.

On the first BWCA trip I took with my father, we camped a week on a Lake called Bichu. It is a pretty place. But our campground did not give us access to water except right near shore, and my dad discovered that the lake water by the shore was absolutely filled with wriggling aquatic life. He solved the problem by dumping in enough grape Kool Aid so we couldn’t see the bugs we were drinking. That trip taught me several lessons about my father’s outdoor camping limits, but none were more memorable than the water that we drank, water surging with life if you allowed yourself to look.

Have you ever had especially good or bad water? How did you cope? What do you do now for drinking water? Ever get really, really, really thirsty? Have you found a way to justify drinking water from single-use plastic bottles?

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Our daughter was lamenting the other day what a raw deal she and her brother got in the DNA department. Both children have their father’s flat feet and bad ankles. Both have my tendency for anxiety. Both have their father’s attention deficits.

I reminded her that we owe our lives to flat feet, and that there are flat foots on my side of the family, too. My maternal grandfather immigrated to the US in about 1908. In the spring of 1914, he went back to his village in Northern Germany to attend his oldest brother’s wedding. He was promptly drafted into the German army. His very flat feet made it hard for him to march as smartly as the officers wanted him to, and he was given a medical discharge after a few weeks. He hightailed it to Bremerhaven and sailed back to the US just before the First World War broke out. Daughter wasn’t impressed. Her bad feet and ankles are quite problematic for her lately, but she is taking measures to resolve the issues with physical therapy.

I, on the other hand, inherited my father’s perfect little Dutch feet, mechanical aptitude, and musical ability. I also inherited his temper and lack of patience. I like to think I inherited a penchant for cooking from a great grandmother who was a professional cook in Hamburg in the early 1900’s.

We can learn new things on our own. We can manage our tempers. Who is to say we haven’t learned a lot of problematic behaviors and attitudes, not inherited them? You can’t argue the heritability of flat feet, though.

What good or not so good things do you think you inherited in your DNA? Who do you look like?

Canola Conundrum

Husband and I are currently in transit, heading to Brookings to see our son and family. We decided to split the 500 mile trip, and spent last night in Fargo.

We ate out last night after we arrived in town, and went to a favorite Thai restaurant. Everyone was well distanced, and we weren’t that worried about Covid. Our main worry was the type of oil they used to cook with.

We ate restaurant food for the first time in 18 months when we traveled to Denver in September. We hadn’t even ordered take out. We just cooked at home. In Denver we ate in really nice restaurants as well as at a wedding reception and at relative’s homes. The relatives mainly ordered pizza and take out foods for the group. All the foods we ate tasted good, but none of it agreed with us, and we decided the culprit was canola oil.

Canola oil is very hard to digest. It once was used as a machinery lubricant. At home, we cook with olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and an olive oil-sunflower blend imported from Spain. We stopped using canola oil a couple of years ago, and we can tell right away now when we eat food that has canola in it. We really notice the difference in fried foods and salad dressings. It seems like everyone uses canola these days. Road food will never be the same for us, I am afraid.

What is your favorite road food? What foods do to you have to be careful to avoid? What oils do you like to cook with?