Tuesday, April 26, 2022

the nitty gritty

Fair warning...gross picture at the bottom.

What is today? Tuesday? I've sort of lost track. Friday evening after the procedure, my toe started to become very painful so I took one of the tramadol about 9. Then another at 3 AM, then another at 9 AM. All on an empty stomach. Well, maybe not the first since it was after dinner. I had an uneasy night with bouts of stabbing and burning. About 10:30 Saturday morning I suddenly became very nauseous and barely made it to the bathroom before I started throwing up and even into dry heaves. Needless to say I did not eat my breakfast, waiting for me on the table. I spent the day on the couch and the nausea lasted all day. I think I managed 1 1/2 crackers, four or five small pieces of watermelon, and a piece of dry toast and swore I wasn't taking any more of the tramadol. Even discounting the nausea and now the low level headache it was a hard day, edging into excruciating at times. When I went to bed at 9:30 I took three ibuprofen which got rid of my headache but did not touch the pain in my toe. At three AM, after near constant excruciating stabbing burning pain I got up, ate a banana and took another tramadol which did absolutely nothing. But I discovered when I stood up and used the crutches left over from when I got bit by the copperhead and bent my left leg at the knee like a stork the pain abated somewhat. So for the next 4 or 5 hours I managed to sleep for 20 to 30 minutes and then I would have to stand up for about 5 or 10 until the pain abated and I would get another 20 or 30 minutes of sleep. When I got up Sunday morning, I warmed up my oatmeal from the day before that I never got to eat which I managed to eat about half of before my stomach refused another bite, took another useless tramadol and alternately stood or laid down on the couch throughout the day trying to get some food in me with a little more success than the day before.

Late afternoon on Sunday I was so miserable that I decided to unwrap my toe (wasn't supposed to until Monday) thinking that my foot was so swollen and the stretchy tape was so tight that maybe removing it would get me some relief. No such luck. I got the stretchy tape mostly off and it started throbbing so now it was throbbing, burning, and stabbing. I wrapped it back up and at least the throbbing stopped. At 7 PM I ate another banana and took another useless tramadol which did nothing to alleviate the pain, managed a small bowl of soup for dinner, and about 9 I decided to unwrap my toe again desperate for anything to work. Got the stretchy tape unwound to the same point as I had earlier in the day and miraculously all the pain stopped immediately and it hasn't hurt since. Got a good night's sleep but woke up Monday with another headache, which ibuprofen took care of, and an upset stomach. Mid-morning I removed the bandage, soaked it in warm water and epsom salt and re-bandaged it and by dinner felt normal enough to eat.

This morning, Tuesday, I removed the bandage and left it exposed for about an hour when I noticed it was weeping so I soaked it again and put on a new bandage and that's the routine until it stops weeping fluid. This is what it looked like after I soaked it this morning.

Gross, right? The black is something the doctor put on it to control the bleeding. It will eventually flake off. The white at the top of my toe is my skin so I'm expecting it will peel off.

Oh, and I decided not to take the antifungal medication after further research as it doesn't work that well and is proven to cause liver damage. I may investigate the laser treatment that Georgia from the comments suggested or I may just live with it. I've been dealing with this ingrown toenail for two decades at least but it finally curled up under itself so badly it was like a hook and impossible for me to keep it trimmed down without causing it to bleed hence the drastic measure but in retrospect I'd just as soon not have gone through this. The weird thing is that it didn't hurt walking but even the lightest touch to the tip of my toe where the nail curled under was so painful and certain yoga postures would put painful pressure on it that I let people convince me to have this done. You won't feel it, they all said, they'll deaden it, they all said. And they were right about the removal. Nobody told me how painful the next few days were going to be.

And one last thing. If you are ever prescribed tramadol for pain, don't bother, just throw it away. And here's the real kicker. I was rummaging through the medicine cabinet today and found some acetaminophen 3 (the good stuff with codeine) left over from when I gouged my leg in 2016. Didn't remember it was there and sure wish I had found it three days ago.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

sometimes once is enough

Friday I went to see about my ingrown toenail. He said first off I have toenail fungus apparently on all my nails (Really? I don't see anything. He pointed out the color, yellowish, and that they didn't look healthy. They look pink and normal to me but what do I know) and that is the cause of the deeply curved under big toenail on my left foot. He could put me on toenail fungus medication for 6 weeks and see if that helped but would not undo the damage already there, he could cut off half the nail and see if it would grow back normal but he didn't think that it would or he could take off the whole nail and let it grow back in. In any case he would put me on the anti-fungal medication. If he removed the toenail I wouldn't feel it (that's what everyone has said) as he would deaden the toe. So that's what he did. This I could not watch.You might remember if you've been reading a while that I gouged my left thigh and needed over 20 stitches inside and out and I watched the whole thing, even took pictures and did a post but this I could not watch. Don't look at your toe, he says, look at me. How about if I just close my eyes I responded. I could feel the pressure and at one point some pain so he had to shoot more deadener. Then he put some stuff on the raw skin to stop the bleeding, some antibiotic ointment, and wrapped it up like a mummy.

He tried to keep me distracted while he worked asking me where I was from, if I had kids, what I did before I retired. He was friendly with a good manner, in his forties maybe, good looking from what I could see (we were all wearing masks), black haired Indian (India) descent, he had the most gorgeous long black eyelashes but obviously born here because there wasn't a trace of accent in his speech. I go back in 6 weeks.

So yeah, it didn't hurt much during the procedure but since the deadener wore off it hurts like holy fucking hell. When it doesn't feel like I'm being stabbed in the toe, it just burns. Sometimes it will settle down and be relatively painless. It's bruised and swollen and hot. He gave me tramadol for pain which I waited til bedtime to take, got up at 3 AM to take another and took another just now. I was hoping it would be less painful this morning but it's not.

I sure hope the anti-fungus med works (also on an antibiotic) and the toenail grows back in normal because I am NEVER. FUCKING. DOING. THIS. AGAIN!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

more flowers, more days in the life

The wind finally died down late last Friday I think and when it did the humidity came back with a vengeance. Had to turn the AC on for two days...in April. Lots of sweating while I did whatever I did out in the yard. Mostly I started watering since...no wind to speak of, moving the sprinkler every 45 minutes or so. Everything mostly got a good dousing. I woke  Monday to cooler and drier air so thank the powers that be for that.

So, watering, digging up sprouting pecan trees, poison ivy, wild grape vine, and briar; swept the deck of the oak tree blooms, tossed some zinnia and pink cosmos seeds some of which are already sprouting, moved all but one of the plumerias in pots to their summer locations which involved sinking the pots of the biggest with a tendency to fall over in the wind but still have to plant the two biggest ones that go directly in the ground, pruned off the dead branches of the spirea which is struggling. I'm sure there were other small tasks over the last three days. The one plumeria in a pot that didn't get moved is being donated to the garden club plant sale. I was told it was white when I bought the small thing but it turned out to be pink and I don't need another pink one. I can make pink ones all day long since their branches are easily rooted.

After doing some maintenance on my ingrown toenail a few days ago and again Sunday night and really painful and tender, I finally called the doctor's office Monday and I have an appointment this Friday to get it taken care of. Am and am not looking forward to that. I'll be glad to have it taken care of but not looking forward to the process.

Aaaand Tuesday the wind was back and a bit chilly. Tuesday is my grocery shop day but it's being put off while we wait for our new credit cards. Last month's bill showed four bogus charges and further review showed one of them repeating for the past couple of months. None of the charges were extreme, ranging from $8 to $30 some odd and all connected to Amazon. Third or fourth time over the years we've had to get new cards.

I didn't do much of anything yesterday, finished my book, just wasn't feeling that great, a little afib and upset stomach but by evening it had all settled down and I feel fine today. Currently overcast and still very windy. I think I'll work on the sketches today.

So just a couple more pictures of the wildflowers around (though I wish I could get a picture of the medians between the north/south sides of the highway because they are filled with evening primrose from dark pink to almost white)

Indian paintbrush

Queen Anne's lace and clasping leaved coneflowers

and stuff in the yard

and a few encounters with the local wildlife.

baby praying mantis

She has blue eyes!

Minnie enjoying the sun on the deck

Saturday, April 16, 2022

by any other name

Yesterday was Good Friday for Christians. I had a follow-up appointment with the electrophysiologist and planned a trip to Costco on the way back. I hoped it wouldn't be really crowded because...Good Friday and Easter. I don't 'do' Easter just like I don't 'do' Christmas or any religious holiday since I don't 'do' religion. You may think that makes me an atheist but I'm not. My understanding of the nature of the universe and life is about as diametrically opposed to the Abrahamic religions as it could possibly be. Buddhism, Taoism, even Paganism is closer. The universe is god/dess as opposed to separate from god, something made.

At SHARE I pretty much keep mum about my personal beliefs, the ones I have and the ones I don't have, around these church going believers. I don't lie about it but I do try to skate around the subject on the rare occasions it arises, usually around the big holidays. Usually I just get asked if I'm ready for whatever holiday or wished a good holiday and my reply is that I'm as ready as I ever am or I wish them a good holiday back. But yesterday Jan asked me if my family was getting together for Easter, to which I stuttered that we didn't do Easter. Kids and grandkids were grown and scattered and my family had a beach house when I was growing up where we spent weekends and my mother wasn't about to cook a big meal when she could be on the beach. What I didn't tell her was that I had rejected Christian theology before I had kids and raised my kids Jewish before I rejected religion altogether and so we never did celebrate Easter.

One of the things Christianity did as it sought to spread across the world and suppress the nature/native religions was to take the seasonal fertility, harvest, and winter celebrations and rededicate them to it's god (Judaism did this also ) so the fertility and rebirth celebration became the rebirth, resurrection, of Jesus. People were more likely to convert if they could keep their celebrations, if they could find their goddess in Mary.

I personally prefer recognizing the emerging new life by nurturing that emerging life, planting seeds, allowing the early wildflowers to exist providing sustenance for the bees and other pollinators. And so right now my backyard looks like this.

Because it was Good Friday I commented to the receptionist that I was surprised they had scheduled my appointment for that day and she remarked that she was surprised by the lack of traffic this morning as 'we're not religious'. My electrophysiologist is Korean and just about everyone in the office is Asian. I'm not religious either, I told her, so it worked out for me. No traffic, parking lot mostly empty, didn't have to wait, got in and out in 40 minutes.

When I got to Costco though my fears were realized. The place was packed with the two lines waiting for a register extending halfway through the store but by the time I had gotten all the stuff on my list that they had (no spanikopita, no samosas, no chia seeds but you know what they did have after years of not and I finally ordered it online in February...short grain brown rice) and headed to the registers, the lines were gone and only two people in front of me.

So here's a few more pictures to honor Ms Nature in her personification as Spring.


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

I wore myself out because today I'm useless

Sunday, still no zinnia seeds in the ground. And as breezy as it had been, Sunday was downright windy, 30 mph sustained with gusts up to 50 mph. It was so windy it liked to have blown me over and if I weighed 20 pounds less it probably would have.

Saturday, as mentioned last post, more work weeding, the day was sunny and warm and I was down to my tank top and was surprised to see I'd gotten a little sunburn, not enough to be painful but enough to make my lily white unexposed for months skin quite red. So because of the wind on Sunday, I worked in the front on a small flower bed where it was protected somewhat. This small bed was defined by rotting landscape timbers which I had thrown on the burn pile months ago. Sunday I moved one of the bridal bouquet plumerias to the middle where it stays till they all go back in the garage for the winter and then got all the weeds and dandelions out, removed the grass encroaching from the edges and outlined it with landscape blocks.

Oh, and I filled a bucket with the walking onion bloom bulbs. These wild onions don't bloom with flowers but send up a cluster of bulblets which fall to the ground and make new plants. So this is how I try to control their spread though they'll still multiply in the ground.

Monday was the annual civil rights training for SHARE volunteers which basically says don't bring your problems with you, treat everyone respectfully, do your best to help them with what they need regardless of race, religion, language, sexual identity, etc. The only work I did in the yard after that was to add what they call 'landscapers mix' to the area I had weeded to improve the soil. Then I got a text from Abby about 4 PM asking if I would lead the yoga class last night but after four days of physical labor in the yard, I declined. I was hoping for a laid back 'restorative' session but not going at all was just as good.

Today I'm throwing out the zinnia seeds in advance of what they promise is rain tonight. Well, I did that after my weekly grocery shop, watered them down and came in. It's still so windy and I got tired of the wind blowing my hair in my face no matter which way I faced or stood. A little breeze is nice but this wind is tiresome. And I have not had the energy to do anything; not work on a sketch, not start a new watercolor. I read for a little while then tried to take a nap but don't think I ever really went to sleep. And now I have to think about what I'm going to fix for dinner tonight. Whatever it is it will be the simplest, easiest thing I can come up with.

One more story. My neighbor at the other end of the street tied one end of a cord to his tree and the other end to the porch in front of the house and hung his bird feeder in the middle. “Does it work?”, I asked. Yes, he says, squirrels can't get to it. So yesterday I thought to do the same. I have a spool of parachute cord, smaller than clothesline, and strung it from the photinia to the fringe flower tree, hung my bird feeder

and watched in delight as the squirrel/s were frustrated as they tried to figure out how to get to the bird feeder. This morning I watched as a squirrel leapt from the fringe flower tree onto the cord about 18” from the feeder struggling to hang on and made it to the bird feeder. Well, dammit, I ran out and ran it off. Next time I looked up the squirrel was on the feeder again. Ran out and ran it off. A few minutes later it was back in the fringe flower tree, leapt onto the cord and I swear that fucker tightrope walked to the feeder. Ran it off and took down the bird feeder. Apparently my squirrels are more agile than my neighbor's squirrels. So now next time I go to the shopping mecca I'm going to get some 50 lb. test or heavier fishing line and try it again. Little bastards. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

more yard work and encounters with the local wildlife

Work on the drawings have been set aside since I finally got my butt moving outside. Wednesday I raked all the pecan tree debris from under the azaleas around the tree, watered them, spread fertilizer, laid down a thick layer of pine bark mulch, and watered them again. I had my second snake encounter of the year when I went to turn on the faucet. A 3'+ ribbon snake was resting there against the house and took off like a shot around the corner and into the shrubs there. It was so fast no way I could have gotten a picture even if I'd had my phone on me which I did not. First time I've seen one of those out here. (Ribbon snake picture from the internet.)

Then I did the four azaleas and the camellia alongside the west side of the house but instead of pecan tree debris, it was oak leaves, and had another encounter with wildlife. I opened a new bag of mulch and after scooping out several handfuls this guy emerged.

I don't know if it had been in there since it was packaged or if it got in at some point through the quarter sized hole in the side but I have never seen a striped lizard like that out here either.

I still have one azalea to do but I ran out of mulch which I got yesterday. After lunch on Wednesday I took a volunteer of the Texas star hibiscus to a neighbor that I dug up last fall and wintered over til it started to sprout new growth and came away with some magenta petunias and some hollyhocks.

Thursday, of course was my SHARE day but after lunch I finally cut back the banana trees and did some watering. It is so dry here because we haven't been getting any rain but also because it's been windy with exceptionally dry air like around 19% humidity which is almost unheard of and so we are also under a fire watch burn ban.

Friday more weeding in the day lily bed which I had started last Monday, more watering, errand running, one of which was getting the mulch, also taking the recycling and hunting for an on/off switch for a lamp cord. I have a small one but it's too small for the gauge of wire. This is all about finally getting the chandelier hung as a swag lamp instead of directly into the ceiling. I finally had the wire, the clicker switch, and the plug so Rocky got one end of the wire spliced to the chandelier wires and the plug on the other end then cut the wire where I want the switch to be and realized that the clicker switch was too small. So now I'm trying to find a bigger clicker switch. They're available, just nowhere in this little town or El Campo which means a trip into Rosenberg. But in my search, I was sent to an electrical company here and the guy says that only half the wire is cut for that switch so now I may have to get new wire and start over.

Last weekend I had two other encounters with the local wildlife...this green frog

and a little garden snake.

Today, more work in the yard weeding 

and getting the last azalea fed and mulched and watering, filling the birdbaths and turtle pond. This dry wind just sucks the water out of everything including my already dry skin. It's looking like it did when I was doing the river guide thing in the desert. Lots of lotion is being utilized.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

sketching out some ideas

The past week the squirrels have been chewing off the growing ends of the magnolia tree branches, especially in the last couple of days. There are 67 in this picture and that's not counting the half dozen or so that are already completely brown. They have never done this before, at least not to this extent. A few here and there, yeah but not like this. Are they determined that my tree won't produce a single bloom?

I finally sat down Monday and drew my rectangle and then stared at it for 30 minutes with not a clue about what to try and draw. Then it was time to go to yoga but that night I got a glimmer of an idea with a bird in flight on the front and a nest on the top with broken eggshells, sort of a reliquary for an empty nest, babies raised, nest abandoned so I wrote down a brief description.

Tuesday morning I posted on FB one of the boxes I did several of years ago, a Reliquary for Memories. 

I liked the concept but wasn't that pleased with how it came out aesthetically. I like the box very much. Inside it holds 9 or 10 faded and grainy images supposed to represent memories and the top is constructed so that it can hold one of the 'pictures'. The problem is, I don't like the way it looks when it's holding a picture 

and with the exception of two, the images don't represent any specific memory for me so it's sort of fake. Anyway, Tuesday morning I posted the box sans the memory pictures on FB and asked people what came to mind when they saw it in an attempt to get some ideas to repurpose the box. One response was simply...zen. Which triggered another idea for the new box...an Ode to Tranquility.

So after I did my weekly grocery shopping I sat down and did a rough idea sketch of a koi on the front with a lily pad and lotus flower on the top.

Then I sketched out the Empty Nest idea.

And then I started thinking about the reliquaries I've done that represent the destruction wrought by humans like Reliquary for a Shade Tree and Reliquary for a Night Sky and I started thinking about what else human activity is destroying and I thought of coral reefs. And I think this may be the one. A colorful inlay on the front of a coral reef with dead bleached coral on the top and maybe shells for feet. So I did a very rough sketch of that.

And then it was time to start working on dinner, smothered steak with onion, garlic, mushroom gravy; short grain brown rice; and pan fried squash patties. No picture I'm afraid but it was really good.

Now I need to do more precise, working drawings of the ideas, bird's eye view of the tops, think about how I might make some of the components like the bird nest, and ultimately pour the wax slabs to make up the basic shape of the box and decide which idea to pursue for the gallery.


Monday, April 4, 2022

weekend's work

Well, I didn't get the flower bed weeded or my zinnia seeds in on Saturday but I did pull out a mountain of cleaver aka sticky weed from underneath the crepe myrtles that line the side of the barn that faces west. No before picture of course because...well, we all know the reason.

But here's a picture of cleaver and the mountain.

Believe me when I tell you the cleaver under the crepe myrtles was knee high. I had on gloves but not long sleeves and by the time I finished my arms from wrist to elbow was covered in a skin irritation that resembled a rash.

And the 'after'.

I did get the rest of the morning glory and moonflower seeds planted against the fence that surrounds the shop yard.

Once again Sunday I was going to weed the flower bed but decided to work on the west side of the barn again instead since it was in the shade, an area I have mostly ignored for years. I got the long handled nippers and started cutting down and poisoning the little stumps of all the trees that had sprouted back in there and then I started pruning all the little scraggly low branches and the sprouts coming up from the roots of the crepe myrtles up to about the size of a broom handle. Some of those fuckers were 15' - 20' tall. The others I'll have to cut off with the chainsaw. Then I had to cut it all down to manageable sizes and throw them in the truck. Which is now full. Again. And once again the burn pile needs to be torched before I add this truckload of branches.

And that was it for me. I got a little overheated even in the shade and had to stop and rest some in the barn where there was a nice cool breeze blowing through. The area still needs work, cutting off the rest of the sprouts from the roots, trimming down the large clumps of weedy grass and raking some of the piled up debris out but this is what it looks like now.

I've been sitting out on the deck in the evenings after walking the dog and before dinner trying to finish the book I've been reading which I finally did last night. It's been very pleasant and the birds are starting to get used to me out there as they utilize the birdbath or the suet feeder.

It's overcast today and we may get some rain so maybe I'll do some of that less strenuous weeding I've been trying to get to.

The bluebonnets out front and in the back are at peak so I'll leave you with these.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

what I have and have not been doing and pink!

After two days of not reading blogs I think I've got around to everybody today, at least your most recent posts. There are days when I have the time to write or read or neither.

And would you believe that after my declaration last post that I was going to spend the day sketching I didn't so much as draw a rectangle. Not a mark on that piece of paper. Of course you'd believe it because...me. I did, however, get my paper, pencil, eraser, ruler, triangle, tracing paper, and brush laid out.

I found an alternate activity Wednesday, Thursday was a full day starting with SHARE. We were pretty busy and of course in the last 10 or 15 minutes we had at least four people come in and all big orders. And Friday I finally got out there with the trimmer and worked on the space between the back of the day lily bed and my fence sections between me and the Wicked Bitch of the West. When she first put that container there they made a poor attempt to keep the weeds down between it and my fence but the mower doesn't really fit in there so they would poison it now and then but months ago she dumped a bunch of bank sand in there, didn't level it out or anything and walked away. They haven't done squat about that space since and now it is thick with fallen branches and clover and cleaver that reaches through my fence so today I lined my side with plywood pieces and some kind of plastic stuff we had here, not pretty but hopefully effective, 

to keep her weeds on her side. 

Then I planted some of the morning glory and moonflower seeds on my side. When I was through with that, I trimmed around the bluebonnets in front cutting back the clover and cleaver and a whole lot of purple vetch which I would have left except it was all tangled up together until I ran out of gas, literally and figuratively. I needed another five minutes to finish. Oh well, maybe today. Or not judging how sore my arms are already.

So yesterday was a momentous day. It was the last time I needed to get Robin to and/or from work. Her father and her sister Jade left Wednesday for Fort Worth and came back late Thursday with the car for Robin and for Jade's use as well while she's here.

Spring finally exploded. It seems like all the trees came out overnight with their baby green foliage. Except the pecans, they are always last, and the crepe myrtles are still no shows. The red buds are blooming, this is a volunteer I dug up and planted over in front of the shop

and all my fringe flower trees are in full bloom. This one is like a torch especially in the morning with the morning sun shining on it.

It's pretty in pink around here these days with the aforementioned red buds and fringe flowers plus the evening primrose which are just coming into bloom

and the azaleas even if they are sparse

and the roses.

The baby blue eyes are a nice counterpoint to all the pink

and the first red poppy.

The return on my poppies this year is sparse, maybe a dozen plants in all when in previous years that whole bed has been full of them.

Today I plan to do more weeding and getting my zinnia seeds in.