Monday, May 29, 2017

Conversations on the Porch

Yesterday was designated as "Quiet Rest Day". We'd had a busy Saturday visiting with our Farrier pals for graduation.
We ended up being the last guests to leave. The guys sat in one of the rooms and conversed, telling stories and laughing a lot.

My stepdaughter Stephanie called to let us know that they would not be able to visit and do fencing. Dennis may have gotten a flu bug so they were staying home.

There was somewhat of a chain reaction to that. Rich called his mom and I could hear her through the phone. She decided that she was going to go get "The Flowers and put them in the cemeteries herself, but she didn't know how."

I'd forgotten about that 'tradition' since in my family we don't know where most of us are buried and some of the family are just ashes spread hither and thither. In death I want to be a free spirit myself, spread to the whims of the winds.

I volunteered to help do that, but not until Tuesday. Rich seemed to be still bummed over the phone conversation so I checked the weather and said we'd go fishing on Wednesday.

Then I checked my paperwork. I wanted to smack my head again. I had VA and Gunderson Lutheran phone calls to make and arrange. I had to change GLHP appts and confirm that they are authorized by the VA. That meant phone messages and people getting back to me. If I made the calls and was absent from home I couldn't deal with them. [Later I smacked my head. Cell phone!]

I told Rich that we were having a rest day. He went back after breakfast to lay down. Speech and language comprehension was foggy for him. I told him the brain needed a rest.

But the fencing I'd put off still had to get done. I texted my neighbor and per our previous conversations,...Justin had volunteered to pound posts. He is young and strong and likes to pound the posts. He also volunteered to mow our yard at some point. I checked those worries off my list.  Fencing to commence today after the chores are done. Mowing ... I was off the hook!
Then Justin offered to help me figure out how to start our little tiller.

I sat down on the porch and felt slightly guilty about not working on something. So I got out my paints and grabbed an old skull that had been sitting out and was badly weathered.


I didn't intend to make it a piece of 'art'. I just kept messing around with it while my mind wandered and I listened for Rich to wake up.

When he did come out on the porch he sat down and stared out across the winter pasture.
"How am I...going to." He waved his arm at the donkeys and mules basking in the sun.
I leaned over to listen to him. I wanted him to be able to finish his conversation.
"How can I?" He made a motion with his hand and then dropped it.
"The animals? Selling them?" I prompted.
"Yes. I can't talk good. I can't...find...the words."
"I can make the phone calls or we can use speaker phone to do it." I offered.
He sighed and nodded. He looked out again and asked, "What happened to me? What did they do to me?"

The details of his stroke are confusing to him. We went through the process slowly. I went over what happened with him telling me some things. The stroke, the 911 call, the ambulance ride to Vernon Memorial. Slowly and quietly we went through that day again.
He shrugged and looked out. "It isn't all there." He searched for words. "I can't...find things?"
"You can't remember things?" I asked.
"No. I don't remember going to Vernmorial."
"Vernon Memorial?" I prompted.
"Yes." He makes a motion next to his ear. "Then they scrambled it in ... my head. They ruined my head. Broke it."
"The blod clot stopped your brain from getting what it needed and it broke some parts that help with your understanding things," I said carefully.
"No. They broke me." He answered and sighed.

He asks about the surgery and we go over how the surgeon went through his artery and to the brain to bust up the clot. I demonstrate it with a hose and a paint brush.

He seems to understand then asks why he has to go back.
"To see the guy who worked on your brain?" I ask.
"Yes."
"Well he wants to see how you are doing. And prepare to fix your aneurysm."
He doesn't recall the doctor or us talking about that.

He is a guy who wants the truth. I explain that he has an aneurysm in his brain also that should be fixed sometime late this year.
"Will it kill me? Am I dying? I feel like I am dying." He states. "I am no worthless."

His eyes are troubled and I reach out for his hand over my paints.

I want to say we are all dying and hand him cliches, but I don't. We hold hands and I quietly say, "You are not worthless. You are not scrambled. You are my husband that I love very much."

I move my chair next to his and we hug and hold onto each other for a long time. Silence. His hand squeezes mine.  I think, "Yes dear, if the aneurysm goes, you will die instantly and without any pain. It troubled the surgeon, but it is like a sword hanging above your head. However let's take things as they come, day by day." But I stay quiet. He doesn't need to be troubled by something like that when he is struggling each day to comprehend things.

I am reminded of the morning I sat with him in the hospital when we struggled to communicate and he kept asking about being "Alone."
He had been frightened by his brain turning on him and was afraid of being 'Alone'.

No my dear, I will not leave you alone. I will be here for you.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gardens and Donkeys and Ponies

Well now those things really don't mix together now do they? Or do they?

So why on earth would I even put them together in the same blog post?

Well because I worked on these things in the past couple of days.

The new garden. It is in the place where all of the 'stuff' from remodeling sat most of last summer and through the winter. I dug it up after cleaning up the bricks and pieces of carpeting. I hauled the mess to the dump. One huge load that filled the back of the Jeep cost only $10 to get rid of.

Anyway, I looked at the huge ugly bare spot and decided early that this would be a fun spot to put some iris's and maybe some other plants.

And the project kept growing. I put in 50 vinca plants and tossed in some other transplants.
Last week while we were at the hardware store, I begged for a garden cart and hubby agreed to buying me one.


I am using old rusty and busted up buckets as planters again this year. I think they make a fun contrast to the beautiful flowers growing inside of them.
Photo from last year


So I began to add a few things like a brick border. Bricks I found in a pile over by the garage. And some rocks from another garden.
I just place things and then constantly rearrange them.
I thought just to be fun I'd add a Yard Gnome. I am not a fan of Yard Gnomes, but it would be a fun little twist anyway. I also considered a Dragon.
Someone notified me of this item: The Gnome Massacre
Now this would be perfect and would definitely satisfy my strange sense of humor.

I looked it up on Amazon and some other sites. My finger was itching to hit the 'order' button. I may still do that.

Imagine my surprise at finding some marigolds sprouting up in the 'new' garden area. I tossed last year's marigold blossoms and dead heads into the 'junk' pile. Apparently the seeds were good!

I've arranged the odd rocks I collect while hiking in Awesome Creek. The neighbor kids call it Dog Poo Rocks. I admit, they do look like dog poo. But they are such odd rocks, I have to have them somewhere!


Someone else said I needed to put some of my 'skulls' in the garden for display.
Hmmm, that would be interesting too. I should take some of those old skulls and paint them.

These flowers begged me to purchase them at the store. I walked by the Petunias and was ready to put some into my cart when I stopped and looked at these.


My father was pretty fond of these flowers. I've heard them called Pansies and Johnny Jump Ups.
My father called them the Happy Flower. He said they looked like little smiling faces.



So I brought these home. Some will go in containers and some will go in the East Garden and ... well, I haven't thought it out yet, but the flowers will all find homes.
And I will smile at them.

I thought the porch could use a freshening up, so while waiting for a shower to pass, I washed it and scrubbed it with a barn broom.


Then I while hubby took a nap, I went out and decided to do something about the troublesome area on the north side of the Big Shed.
Bob's Pen had turned into muck so I thought Bob could do me a favor and clean up the grassy/weedy area I had thought I could keep under control with a weed wacker. And I thought "Why waste the gas on a mechanical tool, when a donkey could do the job?"


This is a poor shot from my cell phone, but you can see that Bob is quietly working on cleaning things up for me.

Next week I have some summer pasture work to do. I need to clean the brush off the electric lines.



And I have to fix Lil' Richard's tie out line. He has some work to do also.


Last but not least, I must include my Supervisor.
Mr. Morris.




Saturday, May 27, 2017

Old Dogs/ Old Men

Well.
My husband does not think he is old.
Morris does not
think
he is
old.

I found a bell for Morris to wear. It is very loud and obnoxious. I will try and get a shot of him with the bell and collar at some point.
But! I can hear him from afar with it on!
I was making a lot for Bob so he can get out of the mud and Morris proceeded to go around the old garage and out of sight. I could hear him though. He gleefully dug up a rabbit nest and was able to locate him easily.

Rich over did things yesterday. While I was working with the heart monitor tech and then on the phone again with the Medtronics tech, he unloaded small squares of bales off the truck.
I know. I tried to help him and he got angry.

"I am not Crippley!"
Sometimes it is best to let 'the patient' find their own limits.
And sometimes not.

After lunch Rich took a nap and I worked on my east side garden next to the house. For fun this year I've am using some ugly buckets and even an old aluminum tea pot as planters for some flowers. When the flowers come into full bloom they offset the ugly. I may spray paint a garish yellow plastic pot I have into something else.
It is fun being creative without spending any money.

The techs and I never did solve the heart monitor issue. However I may decide that taking 'readings' somewhere else may just work.
I took a reading when Rich said he felt dizzy.
He was more upset about not being able to move his truck and park it than anything else. He said he was worthless.

I assured him he was not worthless. I put myself in his shoes and try to see it from his perspective. I am pretty sure that I'd be much the same way if I were in his shoes.

Of course I said old dogs and old men, but I should have included old women in that title.

But who admits to getting older?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

About Morris

Mr. Silver Face had two incidents in the past week that caused us concern.

I was walking with Morris in the summer pasture and squatted to take a photo of a dandelion.

When I stood up, Mr. Morris was nowhere to be found. I called, I walked around, I called.
Then I yelled quite angrily because I figured he was messing with me.

After about 15 minutes of hollering for him, I decided that he must have got it in his head to go home and wait for me. However that didn't make much sense as he didn't like to go under the electric fence by the gate.

I jogged home.
No Morris.

I went back to the meadow and walked around.
Now my calling for Morris sounded pretty scary. I was getting afraid, then angry, then afraid again.

I walked back to the gate and stood.
Then I headed back down the grass lane towards the house.

I turned around and here came Mr. Morris walking slowly behind me.

"Where were you?" I asked really peeved. He dropped his ears and walked slowly past me. I reached out and picked him up.
"You had me worried!"

He just looked at me.

I forgot about the incident until yesterday when it happened again.
Rich was standing on the porch and Morris was on the west side of the house sniffing around down near the electric fence. It was part of the yard we still had to grade and reseed from the mess of remodeling last year.

I was digging up a section for flowers next to the house.

Rich and I were talking about the rain and how wet everything was. Then he asked me where the dog was.

I looked around.
No Mr. Morris.

I called.
He called.

We started walking around the house thinking he'd gone into the shed where the hoof trimmings from Saturday were still in a pile. He wasn't there.

I began yelling.
Rich began yelling.

Suddenly I heard Rich call my name and say, "Found him!"

Rich had a concerned look on his face.
Morris walked slowly towards the porch sort of in a vague manner as if the porch was his destination but he wasn't sure how to get to it.

"I think he had a stroke or something," Rich said. "He was under the fence in that tall grass and it was like he couldn't get up and then he ..." Rich made a motion with his hands in a circle. "He went 'round and 'round. He is not okay?"

Morris walked by me to the door and paced back and forth. I checked him over. He was wet from the wet grass and otherwise his eyes looked clear and bright.

I let him in the house and Morris went to his crate and curled up with a sigh.

Last night Morris got the red carpet treatment from Rich. I caught Rich petting him while we sat on the couch and tried to watch a program.

Halfway through Rich commented that too many things were going on and he didn't understand the story.

Morris is following Rich around the house today. This morning I watched as Morris lay by the door to the bedroom when he heard Rich stirring.

"Old Dog, Old Man" ... says Rich.
"We get along."


Return to Tainter...Land


Tainter Hollow is an interesting area. It has more than one very steep narrow valley and a creek named Tainter Creek that runs through it.

The roads are gravel roads and there are many little bridges that cross Tainter Creek as it twists and turns.
There is Tainter Hollow E., Tainter Hollow W., and Tainter Rd. Tainter Rd is closed still.

I had a bit of time yesterday and it was gloomy and raining. I couldn't do garden work, yard work, and my shoulders and forearms needed a rest from all the weed whacking I'd done. I asked Rich if he'd mind if I went down to Tainter Hollow to look for wildflowers to photograph while he took a nap.

He shrugged.
I put some things in the Subaru and went to Tainter Land.
At one of my favorite bridges to stop and take photos, there were surveyors marking out sections on both sides of the road. Orange paint markings were in the gravel.
The floods of last year caused a lot of damage to our many 'Tainter Bridges'  [one of the reasons that Tainter Rd. was still closed].

Dang. I felt too self conscious to share the bridge with them, so I drove on.
Up the road a ways there is a dairy farm pasture.
Here I found Besse and Wilma, they looked a bit perturbed that I'd interrupted their "udderly" fantastic conversation.

Harriet and Fern, meanwhile were looking rather sneaky about something. I wonder if the girls were planning something, or just really curious about the lady in the muddy Subaru.


I circled around back to Tainter Hollow E. and headed back to the Public Land entrance.


I'm not sure the bridges will do very well if we have any more flash floods.

Tainter Rd is closed due to the culverts being washed away and the road being destroyed in one section. The other bridges all suffered damage from log jams last September.

I parked and walked the footpath through the tall grass along Tainter Creek. In the early spring this is a nice walk. Starting in May or June, the grasses and other plants are nearly as tall as I am and can make for a less enjoyable hike.
However I found two nice places to admire Tainter Creek before I turned back.



Give me a whole day and another person to go with and I could really have fun exploring. Tainter Hollow is in such a place that there is no cell phone coverage and a GPS won't get satellite reception. Not an issue for me unless my husband needs to get hold of me.

I headed out and passed a residence on Tainter Hollow W. This person's house/cottage is built on the hillside and has stilts supporting part of it. I often wonder how it stays on the hillside.
Anyway this was parked on the road next to the creek.
I shot it through my review mirror.

Sort of overkill for a trout creek right?

My time was up, I needed to head back home.


I got a peek at a few critters along the way.

When I got to the top of Hinkst Hollow, I did pull over and compose a shot. This is one of the straightest roads in our township. And the view is always amazing to me.


Normally you don't get such vistas where I live. But there are a few to be found.

I didn't get the wildflower shots I wanted. Nope, not at all.
Instead I had a very interesting drive.

It was nice to have a small break.

Here is hoping that the rain and gloom ease up. Notice that most of the fields are not worked up. Our farmers are way behind in planting. And those that did plant corn have some very yellow sickly plants coming up.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

15 and the Farrier Visit


The weather was miserable. Cold, wet, rain, cold...wet, wet, cold...well you get the idea.
Dan and Danny Tesar came and we introduced them to our new horse/pony we call 15.
Yes she came from an Amish farm and needs a bit of filling out yet, but we have been so surprised by her super laid back and gentle attitude.  She was supposed to have been 'a good rider'. But as things go at auction, she really isn't what we would call well broke.
That was okay.
Rich and she got along so well. She allows him to do most anything with her. And she will accept a saddle and work with a bridle.

That was pre-stroke. We haven't messed with her except to feed her, clean her area, and brush her a lot. We had a bit of trouble picking up her back feet and I had meant to have her over that before the Tesar's showed up.

The Dan's worked quietly and patiently with 15 and trimmed her feet. She had a bit of an issue with her back feet. But the guys worked with her and concluded that she was not going to kick, she just didn't really understand and was a bit confused and frightened about having her feet worked on.

Rich stood talking to her quietly. She seemed to completely trust him and most of the time stood perfectly still.

As Dan and Danny finished up ... well something occurred that I'd never in my entire time with Rich seen him do.

15 closed her eyes and dropped her head to Rich's chest. Rich leaned forward and planted a kiss on her face.

I poked Dan as Rich turned to take her back to her pen. "Why I never! I have never in my life seen him actually kiss a horse!"

It is obvious that 15 is very important to my husband. She has touched him inside like no other animal I've ever seen. Not even his beloved Fred Mule.

We dragged in wet donkeys from the winter pasture and got their feet trimmed. Some donkeys behaved a bit badly. Normally they are calm and sweet. Dan thought perhaps it was the crappy weather.

I thought a bit and then realized that normally we have all of the donkeys clustered around when trimming. It was probably a herd sour issue. That explained that attitude of our quietest donkey.

Once the weather clears up, the donkeys will get summer haircuts and be bathed. Even Eddie the gelding I raised will be sold. However Bob, ever calm and steadfast Bob will stay. If ever there was a handsome, gentle laid back Jack, it is Bob.

I need to stop here and thank Dan and Danny Tesar of Dan Tesar Horseshoeing Co. for their excellent work and generous gift.
Rich is still pinching himself.

Hey...it isn't raining at the moment! How about some rain? It could get dry!
We only had an inch yesterday!


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Wild Flowers and Still Life


A quick walk in the woods with Mr. Morris the other day during a brief hour or so of sunshine revealed another change in the woods.

Gone were the Virginia Pinks ~ they had faded into the forest floor. The black berry bushes were leafed out and hidden among them were wild columbine. I stood still and simply looked around carefully. Wild columbines were everywhere dotting the forest floor.



Morris and I moved along at a quick pace. At one point Morris went off somewhere by himself. He normally doesn't do that, but now with the greenery in the forest much taller, I have a hard time keeping an eye on him.

The little Stinker!

I found the May Flowers blossoming. It is no mean trick to get down under those leaves and get a shot though.

Yesterday was more of the cold wet monsoon season. So after morning chores I came in and dried out. Then I set some things up in The Creative Room and thought I'd try a bit of Still Life.
I hadn't done any of that in a long while.

I experimented with a speedlight as if was so dark anyway that I'd have to add light one way or another.



I then decided to move to the kitchen and wake up my husband. He'd been resting after a rather few very busy days.

His work gloves caught my eye.


Particularly the ... tag that says "Genuine".


Today is lined up to be busy also despite the rain that is to come off and on.

The farrier is coming to trim donkeys. As soon as it is warm enough again, all donks are getting baths and haircuts. It has been a wicked winter and a mucky spring.




Friday, May 19, 2017

One day at a Time

We'd met with the Speech Therapist at the VA. The young lady was fresh faced and new, doing her internship with Veterans. I sat quietly while she did an assessment. I think that was the hardest part for me, watching my husband struggle with certain things.

However, the ST said he was doing quite well and normally they weren't able to see 'stroke patients' this soon after a stroke. She felt that he would make great strides.

Rich isn't sure about the great strides. But the therapist kept encouraging Rich to challenge himself with tasks, but to remember that when he got tired it would not go as well.
She looked forward to meeting with us next week.



We got home just as the first thunderstorm hit. The animals were eating hay quietly and the grand kids were sitting on the couch watching a DVD on a small portable player.

After the second round of storms blew through [we made a quick trip to the basement when that storm came through], the kids broke out a new deck of cards and asked their Grandpa to teach them some card games.





Without really knowing it, the kids were helping with Speech Therapy and Cognitive Thinking skill therapy.

Yesterday was a busy one even though Rich didn't think it was. We put round bales in with the gelding lot, the calf lot, and the cow lot.
For lunch we went to the local restaurant and had a really great meal with the kids.
We stopped afterwards to see Rich's mom.

For a person who has had a stroke just 12 days ago, that is a lot of activity.
I could tell that he was getting rather tired.

Our week has been busy with visiting helpers and drives to the Madison VA for appointments. Not to mention the phone calls I have had to make or receive for more appointments and follow ups.

After the kids left, Rich proclaimed that he needed to rest. Indeed he did.

I thought I'd run down to the "Morel Area" and see if I could find us a handful to cook up as a tasty treat.

I found some rather large ones on the upper north side of the creek bed.



Morris and I gathered up a small bunch and headed back home. I walked fast, but still managed to stop and photograph some wild Columbine, wild Geranium, Jacob's Ladder, and wild Strawberry flowers. The Mayflowers are blossoming now.
I wanted to head to the back valley to photograph the Trillium that litter the north hillside.
And I thought to myself.
Perhaps next year.

This spring was going to be too busy for long wanderings.

I took a slightly different path than normal home. The storms that blew through the night before had uprooted an old oak tree which fell onto a box elder, which fell onto another box elder and basically made a huge mess.

Unfortunately, it laid across our hot-wire fence. I do have to say that the fencing we use is amazing. it is 1/4" soft braided rope fence. After Rich cut a chunk out of the log we were able to replace the broken insulators and the fence was back on and hot.

And no. He probably shouldn't have been running a chain saw. However, it needed to be taken care of.


It basically wore him out physically. And I told him that the rest of the work would just have to wait until we had a chainsaw party.


“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.” James Baldwin