Sunday, May 3, 2015

Springtime in Fort Worth

FRIDAY interestingly, after a particularly fierce round of storms had gone through, the huge old elm tree in Kent's back yard fell over. We knew that tree had issues, but we think now that it must have been deteriorating worse than we realized, and between that, the ground getting saturated with rain, and probably a post-storm burst of wind, it just fell smooth over, smashing the fence, wrecking the neighbor's above-ground pool and trampoline, and landing on top of the power line from the pole to Kent's house. This left most of Kent's house without power, but he still had power in some parts of the house. He called the number he could find for the power company, but all he could get was one of those computers that pretends it's a person, with the "press one for this," and "press two for that."  None of the options really fit his situation, but he left a message as best he could. The machine said, "Your power will be restored in 24 hours," which would have been a neat trick, since the line was physically down.

SATURDAY, I went over to see how he was doing. He'd moved his coffee pot to one of the plugs that was still working and he was sort of "camping out." He had put in a call to Kyle, his lawn guy for the last five years to come over to either see about getting started on clearing the tree and debris out, or  suggest someone who could. Kyle came on Saturday to look things over, but of course couldn't start on anything until the downed electrical line was addressed. Nothing could move forward at all until that electrical line was addressed.

SUNDAY we found another number to call the power company to report to a live human that we had a downed electrical line. The good news is that they sent someone right out, within an hour! The bad news is that they had to disconnect the line from the pole and the house. The ONCOR guy advised that we'd have to get an electrician to make some repairs to the connection and apparatus on the house before they could come back out and reconnect the electricity.  So even though it was Sunday, we put in a call to an electrician we'd both used before and liked, only to learn that he's backed up for at least two weeks.  Now totally without power, Kent packed up a few things and came to stay at my house until he can get put back together at his house.

MONDAY Kent got an early morning call from the neighbor into whose yard the tree had fallen, saying that there was a huge swarm of bees in his back yard. Apparently there had been a hive of bees in that tree, even though we had never seen even one bee. There was some discussion about spraying, but with that many bees, you wouldn't get them all right away, it would make them mad, and then there'd really be hell to pay, totally aside from the fact that bees are dying too much anyway. We brainstormed our options and located a beekeeper who was able to come right out. The Bee Charmer, very nice lady. She collected a five gallon bucket of bees and finished up just before the next wave of thunderstorms came through. We were able to locate an electrician who was able to make the repairs necessary to get reconnected.

TUESDAY the electrician made his repairs; then the city was supposed to make their inspection (which they were supposed to do the next day, but we can't tell if they did or not), and then we get on the list for when ever ONCOR can come out and hook the electricity back up. Kyle started work clearing the tree. We cleaned out the refrigerator and had to throw almost everything away, except for what Kent brought to my house when he came over. Jeez, a whole refrigerator full of food.

THURSDAY - Because of all the storms and storm damage recently, the insurance adjuster couldn't meet with Kent until Thursday, almost a week after the tree fell.  He came out, and we went over all the information we had thus far. 

FRIDAY Kyle called - he had started work clearing the tree earlier in the week, but is now unable to finish the job due to an elaborate series of circumstances, much to our great dismay.

SATURDAY hopefully we've found someone else who will be able to tackle that job, but it will likely be in bits and pieces. That tree is amazingly huge - even as it lays on the ground, it's about waist-high to me.

So Kent is my houseguest until he has power again. I am so happy to have him here, but I know all this has really thrown him way out of his routine. My part of the neighborhood is a little bit noisier than over where he lives, and along with being in a strange place, basically living out of a suitcase, and with everything else that's going on, It's sort of turned his life topsy turvy. All things considered, he's taking things pretty well. 

I guess we'll see what the coming week brings!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Every Ten Years Beginning at Age 50

Yes, colonoscopies. 

Sorry to bring up such a subject, but I needed some information about this recently, and it wasn't so easy to find, believe it or not. Anyway, now that I've found the information I was looking for, I'm sharing what I learned, because I'm sure I can't be the only one who wanted -needed - to know these things.

Not peculiar to people 50 and over, colonoscopies are recommended for most folks beginning at age 50, and then every ten years thereafter. Here's the thing: the week or so of diet change and prep is the hardest part. Unfortunately, my first time, my doctor said, "You didn't do enough," and sent me home to prep some MORE, so I basically had to undergo the procedure twice the first time. This time I was determined not to have to go through that again.

When I had my appointment with the gastroenterologist, they gave me a sheaf of papers, which explained what I'm supposed to do to get ready for the procedure. The first thing is that about a week before the procedure, you're supposed to change your diet, and the information packet did a pretty good job of telling me what NOT to eat - nuts, seeds, whole grains, and pretty much anything with fiber.   

This was not happy news for someone like me who has spent the last ten years consciously re-learning how to eat healthier - MORE nuts, seeds, whole grains, salad, vegetables, fruits, all containing fiber - as much as possible, whole foods, as close to natural as possible, which by their nature contain lots of fiber. In order to prepare for this colonoscopy my instructions were basically to stop eating everything I usually eat. Unfortunately, this instruction did not offer a suggestion as to what to eat. Remembering my previous experience of having to go and prep some more, and undergoing the procedure twice, I wanted very much to to get this right the first time, this time. But what troubled me was, what could I eat?

Since the focus seemed to be on fiber, I Googled the term, "low fiber diet," and found an actual menu which included white bread, small servings of white rice, egg, baked chicken, well-cooked or canned green beans and carrots, canned peaches, jello, yogurt and milk. I thought as I read this that it sounded like what my grandmother might have known as a "bland diet." More details include:
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • plain white pasta
  • saltines 
  • refined hot cereals, such as cream of wheat
  • cold cereals with less than 1 g. fiber per serving
  • pancakes or waffles made with white flour
  • canned or well-ccoked vegetables and fruits without skins or seeds
  • fruit and vegetable juice with little or no pulp
  • fruit flavored drinks
  • flavored waters
  • tender meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu
  • milk and dairy products (as long as they're 0g. fat and less than 1g. fiber)
  • butter & oils
  • salad dressings without seeds

Since I'd had that do-over experience the first time, I started this diet change a day before the doctor's instructions said to. A couple days in, I switched over to low fiber protein smoothies. From there it was fairly easy to transition to the "clear liquid" segment of prep. 

Fast-forward to post-procedure, I am happy to report that I was successful in "clearing out" my system with this bland diet and subsequent steps of liquids-only days. The doctor could easily see what he needed to see, and I'm fine until the next one.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Life is What Happens

"Life is what happens when you've made other plans." 

I'm a fair-skinned person, light-haired, light-eyed, and freckled, too easily prone to sunburn.  One summer, maybe two, during my teen years, I thought I might like to try to "lay out," try to get a tan, but it just didn't work for me. I have endured many many summers of blistering sunburns, starting at an early age, and as I put on a few years, those sunburns began to itch and sting. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced that - it's most unpleasant, isn't it? So now I'm very careful about the mid-day sun, say from about ten to two in whatever time zone I happen to be on any given day. Meanwhile, that fair-skinnedness and history of blistering sunburn at an early age bumps up my risk factor for skin cancers, according to current medical advice.

So I went to see a dermatologist today. Now this is amusing to me: All the spots that were most obvious to me, that were of the greatest concern to me, were "nothing to worry about" - "Benign, benign, benign, skin tag, mole, benign."

But she did see one spot that I hadn't noticed at all. I don't know how I missed that one, but I sure did. "Pre-cancer," she said, and shot it with freezy stuff. Boy howdy, this is why we seek professional opinions, isn't it?


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Yarn Bombing

We had errands near downtown Fort Worth the other day and stopped for coffee at Avoca. After that, we headed East on Magnolia Street to the shoe store and noticed a couple yarn bombs on the way. Next time I'm over there I'll take pictures to post, but here is an example from the Internet for now:;_ylt=A0LEVvG2TsVUbmcALUgnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTB0ZjNuMHJ1BHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1lIUzAwM18x?_adv_prop=image&fr=yhs-mozilla-001&va=yarn+bomb&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001
Example of a fairly elaborate yarn-bombed bicycle, with a link to more images, and a link to a how-to page, if you should feel the urge.

My companion had never seen anything like that before, and wondered what the deal was. 
"Yarn bomb! That's a yarn bomb!"
"What the...?"
"It's a creative expression, with sort of a guerrilla twist." I saw him looking sideways at me in disbelief. "No, really!" I asserted, "It's a real thing! Yarn Bombing!"
"Why in the world would someone DO that? and HOW do they do it?" 
"I don't know, but I've seen it before. It's pretty cool, don't you think?"

Yarnbombing! It's a thing!

Now he's worried about me going all lone-wolf yarn-bomby on him. No worries, though - I prefer more sedate, indoor projects for my yarn. It does look like fun, though, doesn't it?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cooking Dress

Children are just such little learning machines. I love the way they work at figuring things out - the younger ones, say, about age 2 to 4, especially, when they have some vocabulary, but are working out the nuances. They can sure come up with some charming ideas.

For example, Granddaughter Mira (she'll be four this summer), watching her mother get dressed, asked what 'that' was.
"It's a bra."
"You have a bra on your back," Mira observed, having learned a new word.
"Yes, and on my front, too," her mother answered, turning around as for show and tell.
Mira looked her mother over, and said, "You're a mermaid!"

Grammy's Cooking Dress
Jenny, who will also be four later this year, noticed my apparel the last time she was here and asked me if that was a "cooking dress." Of course I knew immediately that she was asking about the apron I was wearing - so, new policy at my house: Aprons will henceforth be known as "Cooking Dresses." Here's one now:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Order of the Day

For the first time in months I've let the chickens out. (They've been in protective custody due to predation.) 

They knew just what to do as soon as I opened those doors, and they seem quite happy to be out. 

Unfortunately, Annie The Dog (aka "A. T.") has to stay in when the chickens are out because she plays too rough, so she's not quite as happy. We endured a little power struggle for a few minutes, but she is now sleeping at my feet.

There's some issue with the riding mower. I'm working on getting someone over to look at it, but in the meantime, I fire up the walk-behind mower and do 30 minutes to an hour at a time. I could do that about every other day or so and it'll be just like painting the Golden Gate Bridge - it's so big that by the time you get done, it's time to start over. 

I imagined someone giving me some flak about mowing a little bit every day, like why don't I just get it all done at once, as if I lived in the city on a normal sized lot. Here's why: my perimeter fence encloses about two acres, and there's yet again three more acres of field and bar-ditch to mow; all five acres takes a full day to complete on the riding mower. Full day, hat, eye and hearing protection, breathing filter, long pants, long sleeves and boots, or at least closed-toed shoes. You never know what that riding mower might kick up. Anyway, I figured I'd mow 30 minutes to an hour on the days I don't go to the gym - quite suitable for cardio.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I know it's a retro concept, but I have my reasons for keeping a landline telephone in the house. I consider my main phone to be the mobile that I carry with me most of the time. And while it's not a State Secret or anything, only a rare few people have or even want that landline phone number. I do get some interesting calls on the landline sometimes, even if I listen to most of them on the answering machine. 

Usually they're solicitations of some sort or another. Sometimes it's someone looking for the last person who had that number, which was, criminy, at least five years ago. I have learned from all those wrong-number calls that she was a pharmacist, she was active in a singles group at a local church (and they miss her very much and want her to come back), she had a car wreck (two different insurance companies calling to settle the matter), she lived with her sister, and she owed someone money. 

Getting those wrong-number calls really put me off answering the landline phone. In hopes of sending the wrong-number callers along, I created a long outgoing message on the answering machine to let people know that "this is the phone number for our household, and if you're looking for someone with any other last name, you have the wrong number." It seems to have helped, in that respect, maybe, because I haven't had a call for that gal in a while.

Now it's mostly automated callers, political polls, and bizarre survey and marketing callers. Well, and occasionally one of my close friends who have that number, who weren't able to raise me on my cell.

Since probably nine hundred and ninety nine out of a thousand calls to the landline are bogus, I almost never answer it if I don't recognize the number. Occasionally, though, I'm up for a little jousting.

Apparently autodialers are in heavy use these days. Many, many junk callers use them now. My friend Kent said that when he gets a call from a number he doesn't recognize, sometimes he'll pick the line up but not speak right away - an autodialer, being a machine, doesn't know what to do if the line is live, but quiet. Humans, on the other hand, tend to become uneasy in silence and will usually start talking at some point if they've heard the line go live, but you haven't actually spoken to them yet. This sounded like something worth trying.

So the phone rings. I pick it up and push the speaker button, but don't talk. If it's a machine calling, pretty soon I get that screeching sound, like when your phone's off the hook too long. If it's a live human, though, I can hear them breathing on the other end of the line, and they can hear my household noises: Annie's tags rattling, the television in the other room, me clinking dishes in the sink, or clattering about on the keyboard. Sometimes they hang up, but usually they speak. I have found that if I just hang up on them first, they are likely to call back, so if they speak, I may respond. 

Another practice I observe is never say the word "yes" to an unsolicited caller. They've been known to do things that you won't like and that may cost you money, and when you protest, they have your own voice saying 'yes' (even though the tape is quite possibly doctored to their ends) so be very careful in how you answer people you don't know, even if they seem likable.

I got  to try out my new routine this very evening.

Phone rang. Caller ID said it was an out of state number. I picked up the handset and pushed the speaker button and went about my business. Pretty soon I heard, "Hello? Hello?"

"Hello," I answered.

The caller had a heavy accent from the other side of the planet. He tried to make small talk, gave the name of a company for whom he was making the call. Said his name was Michael Smith. Now, I wouldn't come right out and call him a liar, but I'll just tell you, I didn't believe him. Think about it -  anyone in that part of the world being named Smith, or naming their child Michael? Didn't make a lick of sense. I mean, I suppose it's possible - I could be mistaken about that, but I simply didn't believe him.  

Credibility blown right out of the box, he jabbered on about some survey he's conducting, with very little response from me one way or the other, and immediately asks me a very personal question.  His question irritated me, to say the least. I don't care who it is, and even if I believe they are who they claim to be, what he asked me is certainly none of his durn beezwax. At this point I was done talkin' to this guy, so I pushed the Off button and hung up on him. I guess he thought we accidentally got disconnected, because he called right back, and I mean right back. 

This time when I picked up the phone, I did speak first, and here's what I said: "That's creepy, dude. Don't call me again [Click]."