Monday, April 29, 2019

ageing is not for sissies

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is my birthday. I'll be 69, the last year of my 7th decade. The husband asked me a few weeks ago how I felt about that and my reply was, I don't know. It took me years to come to terms with starting this decade and getting there was what the year of the selfie was all about, 2014 when I took a selfie every Friday and posted it. Tomorrow we're going to the movie to see Avenger's End Game which is 3 hours and 1 minute long! (Marc read an article that identified 10 places during the movie where you could get up and go to the bathroom and not miss anything) but last night my daughter and son came out and took the husband and I out to dinner. No spouses, no grandkids, just our little core family. Been a long time since just the four of us spent time together and it was nice. Did I take a picture? No.

The long term monitor arrived late Friday delivered by UPS. Before they sent it I got a call asking if there was any reason I wouldn't be able to start the monitor right away and I told them no but then that was before it arrived late Friday and I had plans for the weekend. And it was not the wireless two patch electrode system with battery pack and phone that would send out the data. I didn't open the package until about 11 PM when I started feeling guilty about not opening the package when it arrived which had a label on it that said 'open immediately'. It's sort of a miniature version of the bulky 24 hour monitor with 5 electrode patches and wires dangling from my chest to the battery pack/doodad that sends the data out. I was pissed, this is not what I agreed to, and stomped around all weekend...I'm not doing this, having wires dangling from my chest for 3 freaking weeks, and I have to change out the electrode patches every three days. I'm calling the doctor's office first thing Monday and complaining. By this morning I had resigned myself and wired myself up and activated the monitor. It is, after all, a much smaller and way less intrusive set-up. But I still don't like having wires dangling from my chest for three freaking weeks. I guess we'll see how it goes tonight because I couldn't sleep at all with the 24 hour monitor.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

maybe this is a gardening blog after all

the front flower bed that I hardly ever post a picture of

I finally got out there with the trimmer Thursday and neatened up the little backyard and then started on the hay grass seeds stalks in the front. I was using the automatic feed electric trimmer as opposed to the new gas trimmer because I'm more used to it and it worked fine for the little backyard but started getting balky in the front because

this is a piece of shit!

It's a Black and Decker that is fairly new, think I bought it two years ago because the old one started spooling out too much string at a time so I thought the part responsible for that was worn out. Turns out, Black and Decker makes a crappy made-in-China product. I had barely got a good start on the front when the spool emptied so I came in to do a search to see why it was doing that and found A. bad reviews about this problem and product and B. a video that showed how to disable the little doohicky that automatically spooled out the string. So that's what I did and finished the front and then came in and wrote my own bad review.

Then I got this email from Black and Decker:

Obviously no one at B&D read it since they seemed so happy to get it.

But it was a nice day out, yesterday too, sunny and dry as in not only no rain but not humid and the Easter lilies have finally started blooming and I cut some to bring in the house Thursday and they have filled the house with their heady fragrance.

As long as the weather keeps up like this no art is getting done.

Yesterday I went around with the shovel and dug up all the pecan and oak trees the squirrels so helpfully planted during the winter and then started in on digging out the rest of the wild mexican petunias which I still did not get all of.

Today my sister and I went to Caldwell's nursery because...plants! I wanted needed more things for the summer since the spring bloomers will have gone by the end of May. I was hoping she had a coral porterweed this time, but no so I came home with five moss rose, another penstemon, a couple of cuphea 'batface' and a couple of gomphrena 'fireworks', a pot of liatris, and three small pots of calibrachoa or million bells, something that is new to me. I bought them to put in the small dish pot that sits on the little boy's head but now that I read the tag, I may only be able to put one in there. So now of course, the age old dilemma of where to plant all this stuff in the ground since where I bought it all for is still full of poppies and larkspur and love-in-a-mist. Ah well, it's a constant work in progress but!!! when I got home I went on-line to see where I could get a coral porterweed and I found a place in Louisiana and it should be here end of next week. Yay! I know exactly where I'm going to plant it.

And speaking of my sister, I don't remember if I've mentioned this before but she writes a good blog, funny and informative. She's relatively new to the blog world and hasn't many readers yet so maybe stop by at Running Naked Screaming Down The Street!  We sometimes write about the same things as we do a lot of stuff together but always from different perspectives.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

another follow-up of the heart and the gorgeousness of this time of year

Another follow-up with the cardiac RNP yesterday. I've been on the additional med for 9 days and am still having episodes mostly every day. They are mild as these things go and mostly last only an hour or two but Sunday I had one that lasted about 7 hours and then after it quit it started up again 3 hours later. So, disappointing. Overall, the condition has improved a lot from when I first went in after 3 months or so of one or two mild to severe episodes a day lasting hours but it hasn't stopped completely. The meds are not doing the complete job and she has put me on what she can and is willing to prescribe. There is another med, flecainide, that could be prescribed but as an RNP she doesn't have the authority and I get the impression that she isn't a big fan of it though, as she says, she's been on it herself. Anyway, she wants to put me on a long term monitor (3 weeks) in preparation for referring me to either one of the cardiologists there in the office or a cardiac electrophysiologist, a specialist in diagnosing and treating irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias (and the doctor that would do an ablation if that becomes the only thing that will put an end to it). My choice. I questioned the value of seeing one of the two cardiologists in the office as a possible waste of time since I was happy with the care I was getting from her and “I assume you bounce all this off them anyway” to which she nodded, just to then be referred to the electrophysiologist later who could, if deemed appropriate, put me on the flecainide and her choice would be to 'level up' as the gamers say. So that's the next step. She's getting the go-ahead from my insurance and ordering the long term monitor prior to setting up an appointment with the electrophysiologist so he'll have all the data when I do go see him. And maybe in another 3 or 4 weeks the meds will finish the job and it will all be moot anyway. 

This is really getting tiresome.

Overcast and drippy yesterday, overcast and humid today. The poppies are nearly done now, going to seed. They have been magnificent with their four petals in red, orange-red, deep red, or scarlet, though now and then a variation pops up...

red with smaller multiple petals,

or with striations in the petals

or sort of maroon

or streaky pink with no black spots

or just blotchy.

The little violas and pansies are also nearly done, all leggy with few flowers but the rocket larkspur and love-in-a-mist are in full bloom,

the clasping leaved coneflowers are too

and while I don't have any queen anne's lace in the yard it's in full bloom all around me.

I saw the resident coral snake yesterday about noon laying out in full sight on a cleared area of ground and I wondered if it was dead. Went in to get my camera and by the time I got back out it was moving under the rim of the small pond so, not dead. Everything I read about coral snakes says they are nocturnal and yet here it is at mid-day.

The green frog that's been hanging out on the bromeliad has moved though judging by the sound when it chirrups, it hasn't moved far. I guess it got tired of me taking its picture.

The anoles really like the heron sculpture and most days it has one or two hanging about on it.

There's still work to do outside...use the trimmer to take out the rest of the hay grass seed stalks in the front, trim the little backyard, redo one of the flower beds inside the fence, take out the flower bed around one of the tallow trees along the driveway that has been a constant battle with weeds, fire ants, and fall asters, dig up the rest of the wild petunias but I'm not feeling very energetic today whether from the afib or the weather who knows. It's also a yoga class day so I don't want to get involved in a large endeavor. But then, if I was involved in some endeavor I wouldn't be seeing the two hummingbirds so busy chasing each other off the feeder that neither one of them is getting to eat.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and we are ever more closer to extinction, us and every living thing on it, from human activity and any headway we were making has come to a screeching halt in this country as our current government cares nothing for the health of the planet, promotes fossil fuels over renewables and in fact throws road blocks up to renewable energy all so his rich buddies in the fossil fuel industry can get richer. Not satisfied with stifling renewable energy sources, Trump has rescinded EPA standards for clean air and water giving industry the go ahead to dump their toxic waste in our air and waterways and removed this country from the Paris Climate Accords. If ever a species deserved to go extinct, it's us. Unfortunately, we're taking everything else with us. We are currently in the midst of the 6th planetary mass extinction and it's driven by humans. Our oceans are dying from overfishing and pollution, our soil and fresh water is poisoned with insecticides and herbicides, our insect populations that comprise the underpinnings of a healthy planet are decimated, our food is frankenfood more chemical than natural ingredients or genetically manipulated joining bits from disparate species, our weather is getting more and more extreme while we crack the bones of the earth. I wish I could be optimistic but I fear we are past the point of no return and while some countries are committed and acting to eliminate fossil fuels and waste, most are unwilling or unable to institute the immediate and drastic changes that would be necessary to save us from ourselves, to save everything from ourselves. Woe be to us and well deserved.

Love the Mother. She's the only one we have. Treat her as if your life depends on it because it does.

Past Earth Day posts (yes, been a while since I did an Earth Day post):

2015  - our separation from the natural world is making us sick
2014 -  god forbid we should alter our behavior
2013 -  our food is poison and we wonder where all these health problems come from
2012 - we seem to have forgotten that we are not separate from nature
2011 - the plastic challenge
2010 - we are drowning in trash

Saturday, April 20, 2019

sleepless, rain, and an unexpected visit

I've been sleeping very late this past week, too late for my yoga routine in the morning after the first pill of the day and then coffee while I read or write blogs unless I want to have breakfast even later! That's my excuse anyway. In reality, my morning yoga routine only takes 10 – 15 minutes. Wednesday night, though, after I fell asleep reading and then put my book aside and turned off the light the brain sez to me, 'Me, you didn't really think you would just go right back to sleep did you?' I was awake for hours trying to convince myself to sleep. Tried solitaire, tried more reading and bubkis. Did finally start to drift off just as the sleeping dog under the covers somehow sensed the brief flash of lightning from the predicted storm beginning to move through and jumped up throwing off the covers wide eyed ears erect and trembling. When the thunder rolled through and it began to rain the panic panting started and she decided laying under my chin and panting in my face was the safest place to be, that or on my pillow above my head pulling my hair every time she moved restlessly which was constantly. Needless to say, no sleep was got that night. No biggie for the dog who just curled up and slept all morning and early afternoon after the storm passed that brought us almost 2 1/2” of much needed rain and cooler temps.

Still spending my days outside but I'm not getting near as much accomplished. Tuesday I finally got the grass dug out of the back long side of the old garden and edged in bricks, all except for the far end which needed fire ant remediation first. Which I did yesterday there and other places where they insist on being in and next to my flower beds.

I've picked dewberries three times. I only pick every other day. Maybe one more day of a good haul but we'll see. There's a lot on the ditch side of the fence that I can't get to because while I can put on long pants and boots and climb down in there, there is so much poison ivy that I won't attempt it. Probably.

The love-in-a-mist is approaching full bloom and the Cinco de Mayo rose has opened its first blooms.

Another large dead limb covered with lichen fell out of one of the oaks. It reminds me of a coral reef.

We had a visit yesterday from a guy who grew up in this house and his wife. They're here for an annual family reunion and they stay with my neighbor Gary who is his childhood friend as Gary lives in the house he grew up in. I had met Keith last year while walking the dog, he was laying in wait for me in Gary's front yard and we chatted for about half an hour and I invited him to come down and look around if he wanted. He never did but the doorbell rang a little after four yesterday afternoon, a rarity since only strangers come to the front door, and it was him and his wife, Virginia. They're about our age, a few years younger perhaps. And really nice people, it was never weird as we had them in and let them look around and talk about how it was when he lived there as a kid and how it's changed and the memories that came out. The different landscape, the different neighbors, the same neighbors. Now the yard has trees that weren't there and the ones he remembers are gone. And more recently the changes we ourselves made after the flooding from Harvey. Anyway I sent her off with one of the potted up confederate rose volunteers and a bag of seeds from the woodland petal pink and maybe they will survive in Arkansas.

Monday, April 15, 2019

berries and frogs and heartbeats

Well, no thunderstorm, no rain materialized but it did bring us a hellacious wind that left the ground littered with leaves, twigs, and small to medium branches and cooler temperatures and so half the day it seems was spent watering the yard yesterday. The other half sitting out in the nice weather in the shade with my book which I can read in the bright natural light without my glasses. And then the first pick of the ripe dewberries. 

I didn't think we would get many this year as while they bloomed profusely, we haven't had much rain since and the developing berries were small and looked shriveled and this may be all we get even though since the flood the vines have grown monstrously and are taking over around the shop and the fence along with poison ivy and thornless greenbrier and virginia creeper and wild grape vines and dotted with volunteer hackberry and pecan trees. It doesn't help that the guy who mows mows further and further away from the fence every time he mows. I fluctuate between determination to clean it all out and despair, the despair usually sets in after about 10 minutes of trying to clean out one small section. It won't be long before the shop yard is completely surrounded by its own growing wild space.

I have a bromeliad that currently sits outside next to the back door. This morning when I went out a green frog was perched out on the end of a leaf? frond? 

Looking closer, it also harbored a lizard deep in the recess. 

And the little green and brown frog from the post before last was nestled deep in the ginger.

An update on my heartbeat song...

I'd been having two afib episodes a day most days in the week after my last cardiac RNP appointment and prior to getting wired up with the monitor and the day I returned it only one and only one the next day and then 3 days of none and then the next day two. That day she called to give me the results of the monitor reporting the two episodes of 'flutters' (which I took to mean a less severe form of afib which in itself is an improvement) and she wanted to add another med to see if we could get it stopped altogether. OK, I said and went to pick it up later in the day but did not start it because I was not really thrilled about adding another medication. That would make for thyroid that I have taken for years, the blood thinner (doesn't actually thin the blood but slows the clotting function), the beta blocker, and now digoxin which she picked over increasing the dose of the beta blocker because the digoxin doesn't affect blood pressure (she's very concerned that my blood pressure will drop to a dangerous level). Also, can't take this new one with high fiber and it interacts in a moderately negative fashion with the thyroid med so can't take those together and the next day I had no episodes, the next day one, the next five days in a row none. Yay, I thought, the beta blocker is finally doing it's job and I don't need this new drug. Then the next three days in a row, one episode a day and then yesterday two episodes that between the two of them took up most of my waking hours. Totally discouraged me and so I started the new drug last night with dinner and so far today the heart is steady freddy. So we'll see. Still not thrilled with 4 meds but if things work I should be able to quit the blood thinner, because, as I told the RNP, if I'm not having afib episodes, the blood isn't pooling in the upper chamber of my heart and so not creating clots and so I shouldn't need the blood thinner, right? 

Theoretically, she replied.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

not gardening, not politics, not art

Overcast and windy, humid but pleasant temps in the mid to high 70s, predicting a thunderstorm for this afternoon and I hope we do get some rain, otherwise I'll have to water this evening. I woke up at 5 AM this morning and, with the window in the bedroom open, it smelled like rain but no, it wasn't. I've lost track of how many days in a row I've been working outside with a few days off mixed in. Today would be a good day except for the wind which gets tiresome after a while but I'm just not feeling it today. I walked around earlier enjoying the beauty and I have two new areas ready for some plants and a rosemary that needs to be put in the ground, plants in pots that need to be moved to their summer positions, bricks and mortar blocks scattered around that need to be consolidated in piles for easy access later, more hay grass seed spikes to cut down across the front (my main activity yesterday) but none of it has spurred me to action. I guess I'm having another rest day today.

the whole chinese fringe flower tree

I saw my resident coral snake Thursday early evening as I was clearing out some grass and weeds from an area next to the house. I only saw it as it moved away being the shy creature it is. It moved further into the recesses of the flower bed with the pansies, poppies, and larkspur by the fence. Later, I disturbed it again when I went to water my miniature stunted red bud tree in a pot at the far end of the old garden bed which is now filled with love-in-a-mist at that end. It moved further in getting away from the showering water.

There's a cardinal building a nest in the mock dogwood. Three days ago it was a very loose jumble of small twigs.

So, this wasn't going to be about gardening or the yard but I don't have much else to write about unless I want to rant about the thug of a mob boss who occupies the Oval Office, when he deigns to work at all, when he's not vacationing at one of his properties or putting on one of his rallies or attending a fundraiser, who has told his Homeland Security guy to just go ahead and break the law and he will pardon him and who has posted a very dangerous hack job of a 9/11 video against a muslim Congresswoman prompting death threats against her and her family by his supporters while he cozies up to the Saudis, Putin has now declared that the US is no longer leader of the free world, that no one trusts us and it's time for another country to step up (can't imagine who he has in mind) while Trump trashes every consumer and public protection that exists all while the GOP stands silent and refuses to reign him in and you know that were it a Democrat president doing these things they would be screaming holy hell. But that shit just raises my blood pressure and makes my afib go nuts.

I am starting to think about making art again. I find my mind wandering that way now and then. Not enough to actually get engaged with it yet but I do have a new piece forming in my mind. Perhaps tomorrow. Or not. I'm on the last book (#8) of the Outlander series, a little more than halfway and I would really like to be done with it.

We'll see.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

garden photo dump

More working outside this week. Still pulling up hay grass seed stalks from amongst the bluebonnets in front. I swear I break off one and it sends up three more. I gave the azaleas their second fertilizing, one more next month and then they get a new layer of mulch. Spread fertilizer among some of the flower beds, put a layer of mulch around the white butterfly ginger. I try not to use too much mulch as bumble bees nest in the ground and mulch prevents them from digging in and bumble bees are now on the endangered list but the white ginger suffers from our hot summers so much and the azaleas and roses benefit from it. I do leave plenty of open ground but even so I haven't seen any bumble bees so far this year though the honey bees did show up. They're pretty busy amongst the poppies and larkspur and the declining bluebonnets. Staked up the big clump of miniature gladiolas which the rain and wind flattened along with the poppies. Tuesday I connected the long day lily bed with the round one I put in a few years ago, something I intended from the start. The ground was perfect for digging after the inch of rain we got last Sunday, not too wet, not too dry. 

It was also our hottest day so far this year and it was a race to get the grass and weeds dug up before either I suffered heat exhaustion or the ground dried up before I finished. I put a layer of mulch over the newly exposed ground temporarily. 

I should have worked a bag of compost in first but there was the heat exhaustion thing going on. I have other small chores on the agenda for today and tomorrow or as long as this weather or I last.

I've not seen this kind of frog before, sort of a cross between a green frog and a tree frog and it's little, maybe an inch, and yesterday I saw another one unless it's the same one. Hard to get a good picture as it was camera shy.

A fairly large dead limb fell out of the water oak and had this pretty little fungus growing on it, again, a kind I have not seen before.

Future pecan crop, weather permitting.

The buddha contemplates a tail.

The first daylily of the year. Seems a bit early but others are sending up scapes.

The leaves on the chinese fringe flower are the same color as the skirt on the house.

The miniature gladiolas are starting to bloom.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

you could wander around here for days and still not see it all

As mentioned, my sister and I stopped at Old World Antieks on state highway 71 outside La Grange  on our day trip. This was my second time to poke around there and they have expanded the 'store' part greatly. There's also several huge warehouses you can wander through filled with row after row of racks and bins filled with stuff that you wonder, first, what the hell it is, and second, what the hell anyone would do with it, and third, why the hell they bought this stuff in such huge quantities in the first place. Besides the store part and the warehouses there is also a huge covered open sided barn full of doors, both plain and ornate, and an outside area full of wrought iron and other odd objects. They are also big on religious iconography.

So, in pictures (click to embiggen)...

stone pear shapes with hooks...I have no idea

crucified Jesus by the dozen

or a boxed set

flattened fan blades

painted aluminum trash cans $75 - $95