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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Horse Therapy

Each day is different. I can at least say this. My life with my husband has never been boring.

Yesterday his daughter and the grands came. I had some errands to run and they had volunteered to do some work around the place that I hadn't gotten to because of things being a bit crazy around here.

They cleaned out the round pen while I was in town. Rich had taken a short nap and then decided to work with our new pony 15.

I had told Rich that he didn't need to speak well to work with 15. She was kind and gentle. I rarely speak to the animals I train except when I am teaching a simple verbal cue.
An animal will pick up on your body language and observe you closely.

Rich began to work with her. His daughter later told me that it made her very nervous and she didn't think he should be in with the pony.
15 did an excellent job responding to him. I guess his audience was quite impressed.
Rich had told me that he couldn't do it, he couldn't work with 15. I asked him why and he shrugged. He just thought he couldn't.

I explained that a horse doesn't judge a person's language, a horse can take its cues from the human body language and tone of voice. It is not the spoken word at all.
And besides, he feels worthy and like he is accomplishing things when he works with 15.
15 has a very laid back demeanor and a gentleness I have not often seen in any kind of equine before. Badger was like this.

Rich feels more in his element while doing work with an equine.

Horse/Equine work, it soothes the soul.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Weekend

Here is a shot of my husband and a pal of ours, Daryl. Rich supervised the farm workings and we did the work.
He was able to get in and out of his skid steer safely and operate it.

I think some things are so routine for him that he doesn't have to think about it at all.
Our 'crew' put up insulators on the line fence that is an old barbed wire fence and we ran electric line through the woods.
The fence will keep the Dexter cattle in an area previously only grazed by mules. The Dexters are much better foragers than the mules, and now we have another space for rotation.



This is generally at least a two person job. We had a good crew and once we got the lines put up we were all done in from the heat and the prep work.

I have one dividing fence to put up and then we hopefully can start moving the cattle and mules.

Rich has decided to downscale drastically. Little Richard, four riding mules, and our project pony 15 get to stay along with one donkey...Bob.

The Dexter herd will be culled and we will keep the best of the herd. I don't imagine this will happen swiftly as each step has to be according to Rich and I respect those decisions.

Some of the work will require hiring help as I can't do it all. But that is okay. The grand plan is to get things to such a place that we can do some other leisurely things without worrying about the chores all of the time.

This week is a revolving door of VA appointments, Speech Therapy, and ... Rich's summer haircut.

Yesterday Daryl and I got up early and went to watch the sun rise over Black Bottom Creek.

We arrived in the valley and watched the fog roll across the Kickapoo River. It was quiet except for the mud swallows who were busy under the concrete bridge building their nests.



When the sun peeked into the valley we took a round about way back to the farm and took another look at the creek.


Our company left at noon and we promptly took naps. It had been a productive weekend and we were tired.
The next three days were going to be full of appointments.

It was a great weekend.
Good laughs.
Lots of hard work.
Cooling off in the creek.

And good friendship all around.
You can't beat that!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Busy Days, Family and Friends.

Our mornings usually start off pretty quiet.

I have some time early to myself. I have my cup of coffee and go over my list of 'things to do today'.

The medical aspect of dealing with a hospital stay can be a bit bizarre. Rich had a monitoring device implanted into his chest above his heart before we left the hospital. I'd told them I thought the Holter Monitor would work best. They said this little device could really find out "perhaps" what was causing his strokes.

The tech from the hospital called me the next day to help me set things up. Um. Uh oh. The base unit that does the transmitting needs cell service. I'd questioned that earlier but they assured me it would be fine.
Finally I talked to Medtronics and their tech person told me to try one window after another after another.
Then she informed me that they use AT&T or Team Mobile.
I let her know that cell phone coverage in the "Ocooch Mountains" and Driftless region was spotty at best. PLUS AT&T did not provide coverage here.
Her answer: Oh you best call your provider.

I called the GLHP tech.
This conversation became very bizarre.

Her: Can you talk the monitor and your husband someplace we can get a reading?

Me: Isn't the purpose of the monitor to take readings while he is asleep or walking around in the yard to check for irregularities?

Her: Well, yes but if you could take your husband and the monitor someplace so we could get a reading???

Me: So you are asking me to put my husband in our car and drive around to look for cell service and knock on someone's door and ask to plug my device in ... I drifted off. I was hoping she would see how silly that sounded.

Her: Oh my. Well. That won't work at all will it?

Me: No that will not work at all. Has the doc's at GLHP considered people who live in rural areas in the Coulee Region who won't have cell coverage in the valleys either?

Her: Silence. Then, I need to talk to the doctors.

Me: Indeed. You can call back and leave a message.

I hang up in slight disgust. Doctors. So eager to use a new high tech 'toy' they forgot to see if it would actually work in our cell tower starved area.

Well. Onward.

The phone rings again.
I see GLHP on the ID and pick it up.
It is a nurse.
Her: Is Richard Ewing there?
Me: Yes, he is outside a neighbor has brought hay.
Her: I need to speak to him.
Me: You can't.
Her: Well I am calling to follow up on his hospital stay.
Me: Then you know he has Aphasia and talking is not something he can do very well right now.
Her: Oh. Well I don't have authorization to speak to you.
Me: Well. I guess then I will just speak at you and you can listen.
Her: You are his wife?
Me: Yes
Her: I am one of his nurses, I met you on the floor.
Me: Then you know I signed POA, left you the Living Will, and the HIPPA permission forms.
Her: I can't find that info right now.
Me: Then just be quiet and I will tell you how my husband is doing. You don't need HIPPA to listen.
Eventually she did ask some pointed questions and I answered them. Our conversation ended with ... "We need a form allowing us to speak to you directly on the form signed."
I replied that "They needed to find my POA forms along with the other forms, pronto."

I went outside while Rich took a nap to mow some yard and do some stock watering.
Morris supervised from the porch.


When I got back inside Rich was up and sitting at the table.
He had the phone in his hand.

After a bit I got just enough information that the VA in Madison had called and he had another appointment added on some day.
He couldn't recall who he talked to or what day it was. His mind at this time is still stuck on Saturday as the day of the week. Every day is Saturday that is until we go to the calendar and look at it.

Last night our friends from Kenosha came. We plan on a work weekend and visit. But last night we just sat out on the porch and enjoyed the night sounds.


We love our friends and family and cannot thank them enough for their continued support and help.

Friday, May 12, 2017

New Beginnings

I have a lot of friends and family who are texting, emailing, and inquiring often about how my husband Rich is doing after his stroke.

I was told that if Rich didn't have someone with him 24/7 that he would have to go to 'rehab' until he was able to function at a certain level. Well that was a no brainer for me. He could go to a rehab center for a small amount of time if it was really necessary, but if I was home for him...

Well, I went to my part time job and told them that I couldn't come back. Of course they wanted to talk me out of that. They wanted me to do FMLA. I reminded them that I didn't qualify when he had cancer and I didn't qualify at the current time.

Besides he'd had a severe TIA 2 years ago and now experienced a very serious stroke. If I had left for a shift at 2:30 in the morning, I would have missed the early signs and his stroke would have left him perhaps on the floor for up to 14 hrs, until I returned from work. I don't care to think about what that scenario may have played out like.

Our days ahead will be full of challenges. 

I can conclude that I am married to a most amazing person. I considered moving the details and stories of this to The Long Road, which was the blog I used to detail our experiences with Throat Cancer. 

However everything that we are now doing effects our farm, the animals, our way of everyday life in a rural area. It has in one moment changed my life for a long time.

I am not complaining.

So I will continue mixing up my blog with whatever interests me for the day.

Currently I am now no longer employed. I had been thinking about leaving that job within the next year anyway. The hours were all over the map which were becoming difficult for me to handle. I was sure that having no patterns of good sleep would begin to affect my health.

Not having bizarre hours has already shown me that I can handle being more patient with MY patient and husband. I don't need to get a large list of things done in a very specific amount of time so that I can rush off to work.
When Rich wanted to have breakfast, or he wanted to go over what day it was, I had to stop what I was doing and sit down with him. Communication on one subject may take us 45 minutes to resolve. 

I can see that I am going to have to pick up a white board today to help with our talks. 
We have worked out that he wants to talk to people on the phone but didn't want to risk sounding stupid because of his language issues.

We came up with a simple solution. Phone calls are made with the handset on speaker phone. When he gets stuck on a word, he can look to me for help. That experiment worked out wonderfully yesterday.

He talked to his mom, his daughter, and in the evening, we called my son Ed and his wife.
Something as simple as a phone conversation helped him immensely with his attitude and self confidence.

Yesterday afternoon he got into his skid steer and drove it around. He stuck to some basic things like offloading some round bales. These are things he has done for years and I think the muscle memory is there. 

I didn't want him to do it, but he was able to get in safely and out safely. His balance seems to be pretty good.


When he went into the sloppy muddy calf pen and decided to climb out of the skid steer and move the hay feeder, I about lost my mind. The doctors and nurses had said NO heavy lifting, and to TAKE it easy for at least a week or so...
I climbed the gates and slopped through the muck which tried to pull of my boots and lost my temper. He looked straight at me and waved me off like a pest.

Last night we had a discussion about what he had done. He still forgets that he had brain surgery. 

However. Let me say that our quiet moments sitting together on the porch were nice. He called Morris over and petted him and fussed over him. We watched the sun begin to set and held hands.

And so ended our first day home together.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Life can change


A person's life can change in a flash of a second.
One moment I was getting ready for work, the next moment threw me into a bizarre life turning event.

In 2015 during Rich's cancer treatments, he had a TIA. The Neurologists from University of WI said that if you have a TIA, your risk for future stroke is higher.

Well, he had a CVA or cerebral vascular accident on Saturday in the predawn hours. The ambulance transported him locally and the trauma center was notified by local ER.
By the time I caught up with him at the Trauma Center in LaCrosse at Gunderson Lutheran Hospital, they had prepped him for surgery and were whisking him out of the room.
A kindly white haired man took me to the side and we talked about what was happening.
Turns out this kindly white haired fellow was a Neurologist. He explained that they were going to 'go in and remove the blockage' and they had enough brain to save.
He also let me know that the brain was a mysterious thing in a way and only time would tell as to my husband's recovery and progress.

I'm going to spare you the details of the past four days. And say this.

I am married to the most amazing person. He impressed Physical Therapy so much by his physical gains and strengths, that he was released and allowed to come home with constant supervision.

The area of the brain that had an 'injury' relates to speech and some thought process.
When words evade him, we have been finding another way to communicate.
Too much going on at once can be a bit confusing.

We have some real work to do together.

And some serious fishing to get done this summer.


Monday, May 08, 2017

Quick note.

My husband woke up Saturday morning and had a stroke. I will be somewhat absent for a few days as we go through testing and evaluations.

Sorry. If I follow your blog I may not be able to comment or even try to catch up on things for a bit.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Morel hunting by ... Morris

Well Morel hunting! I'll be switched. I am the expert.

Not really. I just like going to the woods any time.

There is so much to smell and pee on. Whoops. Was I supposed to say that?
I mean come on. Everyone knows a male dog sniffs and then pees on things. That is how we leave a comment.
You all have email. Or you can do the "Like" thing.


She said something about hunting for those funky looking mushrooms. Sigh.
It means lots of slow walking. I try and make Her think I am not okay with that when in truth I am.
It gives me more time to investigate things at my own pace.

She gave out a little ohhhh and an ahhhh when She ducked into the underbrush.

She found a small group of grey morels.

Then she sighed and sat back on her heels. I started eating some grass and gagged a bit. She looked at me, then her eyes widened.

"More Morels, Morris!" I looked down. Indeed, I was standing next to them.


She happily picked them and stuck them in the bag she was carrying. I tried to recall if I'd peed on the area.
Hmmm. Probably not, the mushrooms weren't wet.

However She did pat me on the head and tell me what a good boy I was for finding them.
I was just eating some grass. But hey, I'll take the credit. Perhaps she would find a dog cookie for me later.

You should watch her when She is looking for these odd things. I mean I see no value in them at all. However She gets all excited.

I'd rather find rabbit pellets or deer droppings. Less tasty in the spring than they are frozen. Now...that is a treat!

She walked on, crouching and peering and looking all serious like.

I laughed at Her.
She thought it was a yawn.
Does this look like a Yawn?


Then...
then...
all giddy She walks up to this tree and says, "A new mushroom tree!"

Oh Lady, you seriously need some help.

Then She plucks another Morel from the forest floor.


Well I will be gobsmacked. She found another one and since I was standing near, I got the credit again.

Hey Lady, cookies! I stare at her trying to drill the mind melding thought of dog cookies into her head.

She just gets up and we head towards home. She mumbles something about getting just enough for a taste.

We climb down and across the creek and use the rope to walk up the steep bank. Well...SHE uses the rope. I scamper ahead with visions of treats awaiting me at home for being such a great little dog.

The End.
And yes.
I got a treat.

And yes, She says we'll go again in a couple of days.

Until then.
Happy Hunting.