Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer Fun

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ~  F. Scott Fitzgerald "The Great Gatsby".

I am afraid I have to apologize once again for my absence from this blog.  I was assaulted yet again by some nasty respiratory viruses.  The doctor I had seen for antibiotics assured me I had bronchitis and it was heading into pneumonia and then immediately following that another nasty virus, similar to strep throat.  At this point I was sick of being sick, and the doctors assured me that I was fine (except I wasn't, because I kept picking up respiratory viruses).  I did some research and realized that an OTC pain reliever that I had been taking had been interfering with my immune system's response to foreign invaders such as germs and bacteria.  By decreasing the inflammation in my body it also decreased the immune system response, as inflammation is one of the methods the body uses to begin the immune system response to a foreign invader.  I had been taking the pain reliever as I lead a very hectic life and don't often give my body the time it needs to recover adequately.  Since quitting the pain reliever I have been far healthier.
    In other news my gardening plans have begun in earnest.  I also have had several new house plants join my jungle and I also have been doing some landscaping trying to create the property that I envisioned.  So far the plants that I have in containers have been doing magnificently.  The herbs I have on the Kitchen porch are doing wonderfully.  My Honeysuckle plant and Bleeding Heart plant also came back this year.  My vegetable garden is almost planted and the picture above shows a very rough outline of my one raised bed that I wanted to try; if this works well I'll expand to another raised bed next year.  The following are some of the pictures of my new house plants.  I love the cute containers, but a person does have to be careful to keep a small plant in a small container, and not a plant that's going to grow a lot in a small container.  All of these adorable finds were Wal-Mart plants and or starts from friends, and the containers were from local thrift stores.
    As far as animals Lady Houdini is doing very well, although shedding horribly.  I teased the coworker I bought her from telling them I had made a mistake and purchased a sheep instead of a horse from them.  My mother-in-law loves to look out and see her grazing our yard on a 30' tether.  I like to refer to Lady Houdini as our Organic Lawnmower as a person can't get much more organic than that.
    The family itself is doing well.  My daughter is preparing to start Kindergarten in the fall.  My husband is still helping his daughter out with her restaurant.  My mother-in-law I usually drag into all of my schemes, much to the horror of my husband and amusement to the rest of the family. 
    Not much else has been happening, but hopefully now that I have been feeling better I can start writing again.  I still love writing my poetry and want to start writing daily on my novel.  We'll see what tomorrow holds.
Until Next Time

Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plants." ~ John Lennon

My husband, my mother-in-law, my daughter and myself just returned from the most delightful family vacation.  We have been pinching pennies this year and so were only planning on one family vacation this year.  My niece gave me the Christmas gift of a ticket to the St. Patrick's Day 15K in Portland.  My husband, my sister-in-law and myself planned a trip for my mother-in-law to Portland to stay with my sister-in-law the week before and I would pick her up and take her back home with me after the race.  Well last minute I was talking with my husband about how much my daughter wanted to come down to Portland with me, and how much she would enjoy the trip even though he hates the thought of big cities with LOTS of traffic and people.  Enter the pity pleas, and one last minute guilt trip about how "unsafe" it would be for me to drive all the way to Portland alone.  I'm not sure if it was my persistence or his exhaustion, but he finally caved and agreed to come down as a family to Portland.  Saturday my husband, my daughter and myself ventured forth to Portland.  We had a family dinner that night with my sister-in-law and her husband, and my niece, and her family.  The race was set to start @ 0745 in the morning, yes whoever set that time for a 15K has a sick, sadistic streak so I stayed the night with my niece and her family, allowing my husband and daughter to rest up while my niece and I were loosed upon Portland.  The Shamrock Run is a race that is held in honor of St. Patrick's Day and given that it IS Portland there is a lot of festivity present and people dressed up in everything green and Irish.  Between the green Tutu's that people and dog alike were wearing to Leprechauns and pots of gold it was a sea of color.
    My niece and I had a VERY hard time finding a parking place at the race, as the Shamrock Run in Portland had approximately 35,000 people between the 5K, 8K, and 15K races so we were 20 minutes late to the start of the race.  We made it at last call, vaulting over the fence and began our journey from Portland's waterfront up to the VA Hospital on the Hills surrounding Portland and back down to the Portland waterfront.  With our late start and me desperately out of shape we were among approximately the last 10 people of the 15K.  As we continued in our run we were followed by two police cars who were reopening the city of Portland as we passed by.  As one police officer joked they were kind enough to close the city down for us.  I walked half of the race and ran half of the race.  The balloon was given to me around the second Kilometer from a lady handing out free balloons advertising H & R Block; I was feeling festivious so I thought, why not?  I was going to give the balloon to my daughter so I tied it around my wrist and it completed the last thirteen kilometers of the race with me.  After the race it was family time the rest of the afternoon and nap time for my niece and I, followed by dinner out with my husband.  My husband and I were celebrating 12 years of marriage.  Ibuprofen was and still is my friend as I learn how to move after the race.  The day after the Shamrock Run I was astonished to see a picture of me on the Oregonian website, and the day after that I made the photo of the day.  All I can say is that it must have been a slow news day, lol.  :) 
    Monday the girls and I invaded a local mall for some shopping, frozen yogurt and aerial trampoline, with a trip to Good Will and finishing the day with a family dinner.  A delightful time was had by all.  My daughter scored a new to us puzzle book, some pants and a pair of shoes, and I scored Leopard print rain boots (which I had been eyeing for quite some times at Wal-Mart, but couldn't succumb to their listed price) and a book on gardening. 
    Tuesday morning our family had brunch and then began our six hour drive home.  By the time we got home we were all exhausted and stumbled wearily into beds for rest.
    One delightful thing came out of this trip, a new family tradition as my husband states that next year he'll join us in the Shamrock Run.  It should prove to be an entertaining trip since it involves our family if nothing else.  The picture below is one of me on the Aerial Trampaline that my daughter and I tested out a local mall.  It was a hoot, and even though I am not fond of heights I managed to pull off 3 back flips.  I can now scratch this one off my bucket list, lol.  Until next time, take care.  Yoko

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Daily Glimpse

"If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it.  This is the most basic kind of peace work," ~ Nhat Hanh
    I've seen several bloggers do this and I thought it would be kind of neat to show people a glimpse of one of my days off.  My husband got my daughter off to the bus stop for school at 0800.  I woke up at 0800 and spent the next half hour making some phone calls.  After that I attempted to get some more desperately needed sleep until at 0900.  I simply gave up and staggered myself over to the coffee pot.  I drank my coffee and made breakfast for my husband and my mother-in-law, my daughter was at Head Start.  While they were eating breakfast; I ate a spoonful of peanut butter to hold me over until breakfast and then I exercised on my treadmill for thirty minutes.  While I was cooling down after my 30 minute workout I made myself breakfast; two pieces of bacon, one egg, a whole apple and two glasses of water. My husband and I then drew up a budget to see where we could cut more financial corners to pay off some of the debt acrrued this year.  My husband finished my mother-in-law's daily routine by running her bath water and cuing her to bathe.  I started laundry while my husband got ready to leave and help my step-daughter and her family move.  After he showered he picked up my daughter from the bus stop while I showered.
    Since it was an outdoor work day, my boots, a long sleeve warm top and jeans went on.  After my husband left to help his daughter, it was the girls, myself and the critters.  My husband is sweet enough that he feeds and waters them every morning and then the girls and I work with them.  So I cued my girls to change in to boots (all the snow was gone and it was 50 degree weather with sunshine and mud).  We took a very stubborn Lady Houdini out of her pen and tied her lead rope to the front porch railing while the girls and I helped brush her down.  Lady's goals are to bask in the sunshine and eat the sweet fresh Spring grass and not to move; ours are to keep her on her diet to take off some of the weight she put on while out to pasture for several years by making her move.  Outside I cleaned Cadbury's cage and we held him for a while.  I also finished the first border of the second raised bed with strong heavy fence posts to be able to withstand a second lighter layer when needed.  All the while my daughter was riding her bike outside, my mother-in-law walking between the animals and my daughter and two bratty little dogs running amuck among the mud creating mass havoc wherever they went.  When I finished with my outdoor projects the girls, the dogs and myself walked a very stubborn Lady Houdini down the driveway to the end.  I'm sure we were quite the sight especially when I had to bellow at the dogs, because they spotted the neighbors dog across the street and were attempting to pay a neighborly visit.  After we returned to the house and all animals were clean, accounted for and in their pens it was time for the girls naps. My daughter had a snack and a story and my mother-in-law had her lunch and then we rested.  While they napped a very worn out Mom napped as well.
    After nap time it was getting close to supper and the girls and I drove over to a friends house to visit and then swung by the store to buy refried beans and kleenex to make it through until payday and big shopping day.  I fixed the girls and myself Taco Salad.  I helped my daughter get ready for bed as she had school the next day which involved bath time, teeth brushing, and story time.  Then after getting my daughter ready for bed it was my mother-in-law's turn.  Her bedtime snack, pills, and breathing treatment  (it's what 60 years of smoking will earn you, several periods of time were a pack a day).  After both girls were in bed I sat down to enjoy some much needed rest and watched a TV series called The Blacklist (I LOVE me some good spy shows).  My husband came home and we finished our taxes online, readied ourselves for bed and then made it to bed by 1235 which is almost typical for us.
    In other equally exciting news I unearthed my collection of seeds from over the years and my daughter and I started some herbs inside.  We started True Lavender, German Chamomile, Echinacea and Mint.  Hopefully they'll all come up; I'll keep you updated on their progress or lack there of.  I also discovered the optimum planting mixture for miniature roses.  I took straw with manure from the Chicken Coop and filled 3/4 of the container with that and the plant itself with some soil around the roots and enough soil to cover the container.  The plant is doing marvelously as evidenced by the new growth.  As always until next time take care one and all.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Joy and Sorrow

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way."~ Charles Dickens
This has been a very hard time period for me.  One morning my husband came in from outside and said "your rabbit looks dead".  My response was "what?".  She was fine last night when I saw her.  So my husband and I proceeded out to Thumbelina's cage and there lay a very stiff dead rabbit.  My husband reached down to pick up Thumbelina and I saw blood, which was unusual since she was in a self-contained cage with a lid to protect her from various creatures while still having access to the outside.  As my husband picked up Thumbelina I saw three little creatures wiggling underneath of her and I croaked out "what are those?".  Those turned out to be three baby rabbits from my two "girl" rabbits.  Sigh.  I had my suspicions several times when Cadbury had shown "her" love for Thumbelina, but several people that I knew that had raised rabbits had assured me that Cadbury was a girl.  I couldn't care less about my rabbit's sexual orientation, my concern was babies.  I didn't want baby rabbits especially knowing how fast rabbits multiply.  So now I had three baby rabbits with no Mama.  I used a lifeline to call a friend, two of the girls I work with are phenomenal with animals, of any domestic and some exotic species.  So after advice about the delicate nature of rabbits, especially baby rabbits, and the fact that they probably wouldn't survive per my rabbit experts and that I am more comfortable and knowledgeable in the field of geriatrics than pediatrics, I began my struggle.  I picked up Kitten Replacement Formula and a hooked oral syringe on the advice of a coworker who had to nurse baby hedgehogs on one occasion.  Between my husband, myself, and a coworker of mine we were able to keep the babies alive for four days.  There was no sign of trauma, no signs or symptoms of infection noted, and the heat had always been consistent with the babies, but for some unknown reason the runt of the litter died first and the two other babies followed suit very shortly.  Given the sensitive nature of rabbits a mother rabbit is required in my opinion for baby rabbits and could give the babies something that I as a human replacement mother could not.  This was even with nursing them every two hours a little bit, and since their digestive tract didn't function at this point, a warm washcloth was used to wipe down their body to stimulate it to excrete the waste from it's digestive system.  My best assessment is that something triggered the runt's death and the others passed away from failure to thrive where they simply gave up the desire to live.
    It has been a horrible winter for germs.  Another respiratory infection and another gastrointestinal bug spread through our area again.  This time I had been drinking an 8 oz glass of Kefir every night after one of our employees went to a training on the importance of probiotics and educated us on them.  I only had Bronchitis for a week and a half, and a secondary sinus infection that I took an antibiotic for; far different than the twelve weeks of Bronchitis in the Fall/Winter without probiotics.  I had never had a sinus infection before (again all of my respiratory problems seem directly related to my lungs) and it was awful.  I had been working to much and not resting and caught Bronchitis due to a weakened immune system.  I had been battling the bronchitis and felt fluid and pressure in my ears.  I ignored it for a few days then noted my eyes to be watering, and then woke up three days into these symptoms with my gums, teeth, and jaws aching like I had ground my teeth all night.  Again, I ignored it thinking it was viral in nature and then my eyes started watering and my cheekbones hurt from the inside out.  I told the doctor that I was pretty sure that if I were to beat my head into a wall that it would hurt less than it was hurting now.  I was prescribed an antibiotic and am on the mend and feeling much better with the approaching Spring.  Hopefully this week I'll be able to catch up on some things.
    To end this post on a positive note I share with you a poem that I wrote when I was feeling very happy recently.

Painting The Sky
If I could, I would paint the sky with every shade of happiness. I would paint it with little children's smiles and laughter, with sunlight to brighten the sky and the warmth of the first day of Spring after a long Winter. I would paint the sky with all the colors of the rainbow from pale pastels to rich, vibrant hues. I would create a beautiful melody for my sky highlighting the sky with a harmony sung only by the angels. I would color it with all the blooms of the world, breathing in their heady fragrances. I would paint it for you, for all my friends and for myself. I would paint it so that you might understand and share my happiness. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Long Winter

“The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder
Snowmagedeon has hit the Pacific Northwest again.  The last "rough" winter that we had around here was back in December 2008.  I remember it clearly as I had graduated from College and was going to Portland with a friend of mine for the testing exam for my license for my new career.  I had at the time been suffering from an awful cold, horrible lungs and immune system I tell you.  I remember being sicker than a dog, and running a temperature.  My friend and I had consumed several pots of STRONG coffee between the two of us and I went in and took my exam and passed even in my sickly, actively contagious, fever induced state.  We had made the mistake of agreeing to meet my niece at Loyd Center, a mall supposedly only a short drive from our Hotel.  This was before GPS was actively used and we had our cell phones and "local" contacts or friends of ours that could "give" us directions to drive where we needed to go and neither my friend, nor myself have ANY sense of direction.  Think the blind leading the blind in an unfamiliar environment.  I think we had left around 5:00 that evening and finally made it to the mall around 8:00 long after my niece had left, after various wrong turns in the city of Portland and numerous more cups of coffee.  Then we had to venture out and back to the Hotel.  Somehow, and to this day I still have no idea how.  We made it back to the Hotel via several journey's to Vancouver, one to Lake Oswego, and several places that we didn't know where.  Keep in mind that this was all the while calling my dear friend Red's "friend" who was having a party where all of the occupants were laughing at our ordeal, and kept asking us where we "were" and how we got "there".  I have to be honest, if I knew those answers I wouldn't have had to call that "friend".  Finally, between my friend are I who are very smart we devised a plan of action; desperate times call for desperate measures.  The whole problem had been that we had not been able to find when I-205 turned into I-5, no matter where we turned there was I-5 taunting us and not able to get on it and back to the Hotel.  So we drove up to where I-205 turned into I-5 which I believe is Woodland Washington.  So 6 hours into our ordeal and numerous tanks of gas later (the same amount of time it would take to drive us all the way home) we were back at the Hotel.  To this day it was still a wonderful, hazy (remember fever induced and my friend was sleep deprived) drive where we were fully caffeinated, horribly lost, and in that so tired, you're rummy point.  Yes, Hollywood could probably make a movie out of this, and to this day we are still teased mercilessly, but now we have GPS.
    I had scheduled a check up with one of my health specialists on Tuesday in Portland, but if this snow continues, I will cancel and reschedule.  I have also been working a lot at my work and my job description has been absorbing new duties, but took several days off this upcoming week for my drive to Portland so if all else, a mini-vacation.
    Today I only work five hours this evening so have spent the day relaxing, the girls and I painted our nails and I caught up on some of my reading and planning for Spring when the snow stops.  Check out my current reads.  So inspirational for Spring, now only to make all those ideas affordable.

    On the finances front things are tight, tight, tight.  This whole year is about my family's financial future.  Learning ways to pinch a penny enough ways to make a quarter.  More investments keep cropping up that require LOTS of money, at the same time things that are necessary such as clothes for growing girls, lawyer's fees for little girl's adoptions and Dr.'s appointment's for yearly check ups.  I have been doing some reading and will post some of the better books and websites that I find on Finances.
Until Next Time Take Care,

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spring Fever

"And Spring arose on the garden fare,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of it's wintry rest," ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley 
The past several weeks have been very nice, but different compared to what January normally brings.  The month of January started with a snow covered landscape.  Gradually, the weather warmed up enough on several occasions to melt a lot of the snow, resulting in one continuous sheet of ice covering most of the land.  For over a week I had managed to avoid killing myself the hard way as I would slide down an uneven ice laden yard hoping to slide into my car without causing myself bodily harm.  On one occasion I remember sliding down the yard and my hands thankfully connecting with the metal between the front and back seats on my car instead of my car's glass windows.  Enter the worst day last week.  I had carefully picked my way down the driveway to the end where the bus drops my daughter off after school.  The bus pulled up and I stepped forward, both feet airborne, arms flailing out and I hit the ground.  Thankfully the back of my head was cushioned by an ever so elegant work pony tail and the hood of my coat, or my head would have sustained some damage all in front of the school bus and my daughter.  I was black and blue and very sore for several days after this incident.  On the way back home from the bus stop my daughter slipped, thankfully only a few bruises sustained and after I returned home from work that night discovered my husband had slipped and lightly sprained his ankle.  Bloody ice!  Enter the Chinook winds, one night they howled through the valley.  Overnight, the temperatures went from the low 20's to the high 40's and 50's causing significant flooding over the county, and the landscape went from being an ice skating rink to small ponds.  The Sun has been out, warmth has penetrated this frozen landscape and the smell of Spring has permeated the air.
    I have been busy playing out in the sunshine.  My daughter, the dogs and I, have been taking Lady our miniature horse for walks on her lead rope.  We deep cleaned the rabbit cages removing the straw and adding it to our raised garden bed, and added new straw to help keep Thumbelina and Cadbury warm during the last part of Winter.  My first raised garden bed is complete and I have started the bottom cardboard kill layer of the second raised garden bed.  When Spring arrives I'll clean out the chicken coop again, the rabbit cages are cleaned out very often, and Lady's pen.  Between all of the various animals bedding and compost it should break down into a very nice soil mixture for the second raised garden bed.

    The two books that I find inspiring for gardening are Lasagna Gardening and The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book.  As you can see they are well worn by being very well read.  Both deal with large amounts of mulch, no tilling and low stress, low time needed gardening which is the only type of gardening that will work in my lifestyle.  My general theory on plants is that given access to nutrients, Sun (warmth), and water and they'll do the work themselves.  They've been doing it for ages now, why should I interfere and make more work for myself?  In the next several weeks I'll plan out which vegetables I want in which area of the garden.  Spring fever has started my friends.  ;)
    I have started writing my novel and have dedicated an hour a day to writing my novel, the first part of my Trilogy.  I had forgotten how much I missed writing fiction and telling a story from someone else's point of view.  Will it be a New York Times Bestseller?  Probably not, but at least the story will be told, the task will be done and I'll have done the best job on it that I know how and that is something to be proud of.

Until Next Time

Monday, January 13, 2014

Christmas Blessings

"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time that I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys,"~ Charles Dickens.
A recap of our Christmas Splendor.  Christmas was a delightful time.  I had originally planned to work the swing shift in the afternoon for the Holiday pay as money sometimes doesn't go quite far enough, but after picking up so many hours back in November, my husband requested that I not pick up that shift.  Instead my family and I had a wonderful Christmas brunch after opening our Christmas presents.  My daughter and my mother-in-law were delightful to watch when opening their presents.  In the afternoon we had my family and my husband's family over for Christmas dinner.  The following are a few pictures of our Christmas season, yes both our small and large Christmas trees.  A long established tradition for no reason other than that we love both the large and the small Christmas trees.  And yes, given my love of Science Fiction on the smaller Christmas tree there are little green men spread out over the tree aka glow in the dark angels.  ;) 

    One of the most significant events of the day was when my husband and I gave my daughter a miniature horse for Christmas.  Yes, as a parent I am well aware that the pets my daughter has require parental help and oversight.  Hence, why my daughter will not have any snakes or spiders as pets until she is old enough to have her own house, and no I won't pet sit them.  We all have our limits, and that is one of mine.  The miniature horses' name is Lady.  She is 7 years old and from what I understand has the normal lifespan of a horse, so approximately 30 years.  She had been out to pasture for about three years and has to take off a significant amount of weight to be healthy.  Our plans are to train her to pull a small carriage.  Between the rabbits, chickens and the horse, my raised garden beds this Spring are in good hands.  :) 

    We had left Lady tied up with her lead rope until after Christmas dinner when the construction of her pen would begin (Lady was a last minute purchase at an amazing price).  When the family went out to see Lady before the dinner began there was a lead rope, neatly unclipped to the tree to which it had been tied.  Sweet in temperament, Lady decided she was going home, and no, not her new home.  So my husband, my step-daughter and her husband went across town searching for a miniature horse.  One of my co-workers (whom I had bought Lady from) chose that moment to call me and inquire as to whether I was missing a certain miniature horse and whose house I could find her grazing at.  I simply laughed, in small towns, everything gets around.  My husband then went and retrieved Lady Houdini as she was officially christened.  Later in the afternoon I chuckled as I saw a picture of Lady grazing in a yard with a caption of "Anyone Missing a Horse?" on Facebook and the responses that it was drawing from all of the locals of this small town.  Hoping you and yours' Holiday season was as delightful as ours.
Simply Yoko