Thursday, April 30, 2009

A day in the woods

It was an extra special day.

I got to spend plenty of time with my husband out in the woods as we worked on clearing trees that had fallen on the fence in the August storm of 2007. Yes, that seems like a long time to be getting to it...

but understand, we lost over 200 trees up and around our house which we've spent a year working on~~and the job is not yet done.

We trampled through berry briars and multiflora rose, over barbed wire fence, and downed tree tops.

We got hot.

We enjoyed it.

Time together like this is always nice, especially if you can be with the one you love.

[Look how nice he was to Morris, holding the truck door open for him!]

Sometimes you feel like a nut...

Some days are just not very interesting. I haven't had any enlightening thoughts ... I am however looking forward to spend a couple of hours in the woods today to enjoy my 'day off'.

[I do get to enjoy some crazy hours though, as I have to go on shift at 4am. This is a new one for me~~a 12 hour shift. These don't happen very often, although I do work many 11 hr shifts.]

Morris has been going nutso the past few days. Being a Jack Russell, HE needs his exercise in order to behave.
Any one who owns a JRT knows this.

Last night he was rambunctious and a bit nutty. I put him in his crate. He proceeded to show his disgust by trying to shred his blanket.

He has been running around the house this morning doing mad circles. He grabs his toys and flings them in the air.
Then sits and stares intently at me.

It is a good clue that we must get out and have some fun.

Sometimes you feel like a nut...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A day off!

I made it ... I made it!

7 days of work without any days off~~I survived.

Yet this morning, it is back for an 11 hour shift.

I sure hate the alarm ringing at 4am on some mornings. Just didn't want to roll out of bed today.

But I got some good rest yesterday. It was cold and gloomy, just right for taking a long daytime nap.
Let's see, so nothing really important happened at all.
[oh yes, I did get to talk with my brother, that was very important to me]

We went over to see Mom and she is really doing quite well. She does have a pretty shiner and is amazing in the fact that she is doing well with her arm taped and banded to her side. She says the shoulder doesn't hurt her at all right now.

This is good and I am hoping that she doesn't have difficulty when the orthopedic doctor sees her in a week.
Tomorrow I take her to her ER follow up appointment.

I can't wait to get back out into the woods after the rains we had! Things will really start blooming and growing now that we've had nearly 4" of rain over the weekend.

Oh, the drive home Sunday night in wind whipped rain and blinding downpours was interesting.
We'd had a 'night crawler' rain.
It rained SO hard that the night crawlers had crawled up onto the black top and I swear, I was driving on worms instead of black top at some points on the way home!

Have a great day.
I will.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Everyone has one.

Yesterday the phone rang as I was getting ready to step into the shower to clean up for my night shift.

It was my Mother in Law's friend calling to tell me that my MIL had fallen and was in the ER. It seemed she had dislocated her shoulder.

She'd done it quite early in the day and had spent most of the day in the ER getting x-rays and getting checked out as she'd also gotten quite banged up in the process.

I jumped into my uniform and dashed to the ER to see her.
[She's doing okay, but it may be a 'bit' of a recovery.]

As they were getting ready to transfer her to a room for overnight observation, I headed off to work.

Of course that got me to thinking about Moms.
As I drove through the lightening and heavy downpours ... through the deep and beautiful valleys...I let my mind wander a bit.

Mom. I do miss mine and wonder about her quite a bit. How is she doing?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A spring hike

April 22...
After getting off an all night shift, I decided to take a quick nap and then go for a 'photography' hike.
This is the most relaxing thing I can think of doing.
Morris starts to quiver and shake when I pick up any of my cameras. It is a sign for him that there is more than likely going to be some sort of great adventure~~~

along with icky yucky things to roll in and sample.

We found some Virgina Spring Beauties...

We found some Wild Leeks [which I picked some! yum]


And then a opossum! Morris discovered the critter.
I was busy on the hillside looking at the first leaves of wild columbine and enjoying the songs of a cardinal above me.
Morris wouldn't come to me when I called.
So I walked down to see what was so interesting to him.

A sickly hissing possum. Morris was quivering, though I think NOT from bravery. I was happy that he is not a normal Jack Russell for a normal JRT would have dove in for a fight.

No, Morris is a kind and gentle JRT. He prefers non-violence. He'll run from squirrels and bark at rabbits.
The possum was very intimidating as it was his size. True to being Morris~~
he just watched, curious.

Now before anyone jumps on me, for shooting this possum, let me say:

They are not cute.
They are not friendly.
They will go away on their own...
But they carry EPM ~ Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis
a disease that is really quite deadly to equine...

They are nocturnal animals and do not come out during the day.
They are carries of many diseases, along with carrying heavy infestations of fleas, ticks, mites, and lice.
In other words, a 'possum' is a big rat.

Perhaps I should be politically correct in saying that I helped this possum cross the rainbow bridge before his time.

Anyway. We did go on our way after disposing of the growling sickly thing. I felt I'd done it a kindness as it was obviously ill.

We finished up our hike by finding a deer antler shed, which I carried home along with another fine day in the woods, enjoying the outdoors.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 3 er night 3

Night 3 of sipping coffee and checking the weather so I will know what to wear [as in long johns or not?] to work.

I slept all day and am wide awake now. So this is how it feels to be a 'night' owl. I'm happy that I don't do this as a regular schedule.

[Would I become pale and pasty from never seeing daylight...??? ;-) Would I grow fangs and sleep hanging from the barn rafters?
Although it would be convenient to grow bat wings and just fly to gas $]

I feel like I am missing so much. Though today it was cloudy, cold, windy, and not very nice I didn't feel the grand urge to drag my body outside to do things.

Of course my next shift is a day shift.
Talk about having to flip around!

I do miss my walks and rides in the woods right at the moment. I can't wait to 'rotate' to the next schedule to I can have some time to see the spring flowers blossoming.

Oh,...and I have to get some more miles in for my 5k race in July. I was told by my oldest son that I better get hoppin'...he didn't want me coming in LAST in the 'old folks' division.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The art of staying awake

During a midnight to 8 am shift.

Count Alligators, because Sheep would put you to sleep.

Listen to a co-worker's ramblings because there isn't anything else to do.

Jump up and down.

Drink coffee [I don't like to~~ it only makes you have to pee more often]

Count your fingers.

Pick your nose.

Shout out while watching the security monitors~~~ "OH my GOD, I saw an alien!"

[Really it isn't that bad, I do get a lot of letter writing done and crossword puzzle books~~from 4 am 'til shift change we stay pretty busy...]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to make Egg Coffee

Oh Hello Sunday !!!

This morning I mad a great ol' treat.
Egg coffee.
Sounds awful but it isn't.

I can recall as a kid that we all learned [I think ~ unless my brother got out of it] to make egg coffee every single morning.

1. Mix one egg into a bowl of measured coffee and stir like mad with a fork until it was mixed.
2. When the water boiled in the enamel coffee for 7 minutes.

3. Stir like crazy or it will foam up and boil turn it down and simmer.
4. When done, take it off the heat and dump a half of a cup of very cold water into it and watch the coffee grounds sink to the bottom.
5. Pour the 'slug' out of the spout.

6. Viola, egg coffee. Not as bitter as regular coffee ...

...and much more satisfying to make then Mr. Coffee coffee.

So sit back and sip it and enjoy the taste.

While I made it this morning it brought me back to when I was a kid...standing in the morning next to the stove stirring this horrid egg mixture as the water boiled.
I have concluded that it is not horrid, but a nice change and it isn't bitter.

Last note:
Last night while on duty I got to listen to some old radio shows from the 30's and 40's.
What fun.
The Shadow Knows
Johnny Dollar
...and the very creepy show called 'Lights Out....Everybody'.

Radio shows were much more interesting and imaginative than wonder Dad loved them so much.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Riding Photography

First you need a camera that you can 'part with' some day. What do I mean? Well if you are riding an equine you are already aware that at some point you and your equine may part ways suddenly. Dropping an expensive camera or having it tromped on is not a nice option.

You don't want to be carrying a Nikon D80 perhaps with a
300mm zoom lens. It is bulky and can get in the way [unless it is in a back pack?]. I like the convenience of grabbing my pocket camera out of my cargo pants or shirt pocket.

A weather proof one is an excellent choice.

True, a pocket camera has many limitations. But it is really meant for hiking, biking, taking places that you wouldn't want to lug a larger camera. Right?

And, you can take fantastic photos.

I have the Pentax Optio W60.
It is weather proof, water proof [I have dunked it in the stream and taken pictures underwater with it][underwater photo]

I have dropped it from the top of my mule.
I have dunked it in freezing waters.

It keeps on working.
Plus it takes decent video rather easily.

It has a fantastic super macro option.

Landscapes aren't the best with it, but I can get by.

And if I get caught in a rainstorm...heck I can just pull it out and take photos!

As for the mule part.
Mr. Mule should be laid back, patient, a bit lazy, and happy to stand by and watch you take photos.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I love living rural.

I don't mind having to commute to work [well I do on stormy winter nights, or when gas is outrageously high].

I usually see something interesting going either way.
Last night it was Cows on the loose on a county road I took going home.

The little red and white fella was happily bouncing around ...running and kicking his heels up while the other one was making her plans for escape.
I pulled over to the shoulder and grabbed my camera.

[another reason to always have one with you!!!]

The little 'fella' proceeded to bounce around and kick up his heels. He finally settled down across from me and decided that the green stuff in the ditch was good.

On my way home I smelled ode de skunk

ode de fresh manure

ode de freshly turned soil...

and it was nice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I am the discover 'channel'

I got my new book called Wildflowers of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Region delivered today. I ordered it from :

It got here in 3 days.
The book is too.
I am learning that I 'know' a lot, but also want to learn much more. I love identifying the plants that I walk through on my hikes.

I also love to find fungi [in case you haven't noticed].

Today I correctly identified the Wild Leek. [Allium tricoccum] I've always been able to find them in the spring and ID them by their distinctive odor. But have always been frustrated and unable to re~locate them again later in the year.

I'm tempted to pick some and flavor some stew with them...

Ah~hah! According to the book....after flowering in June, they disappear. What a neat trick. Guess that explains why I couldn't find them!

I spent hours walking slowly through the woods. Morris was incredibly happy. He did the dog thing. Ate yucky icky things, rolled in something terribly rotten, and smiled at me afterwards.

I swear he did.

When we got home, I immediately dumped all my clothes and hopped in the shower. This is my wood~tick control. Dump the clothes and take a shower.

I took the exhausted Jack Russell and dumped him in the water too for a quick bath. He was exhausted with a capitol E.

One last note... , when hubby got in the shower the hot water heater decided to give up the ghost for good.
He had a very cold shower.

I'm naughty...but I did laugh. The NEW hot water heater is in the kitchen. I know, I've bumped into it and excused myself to it...I've literally had to 'dance' around the darned thing.
I think tomorrow, it may just get installed.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Some things in life are just darn right priceless.

This was one of those days.
[Grandpa's 60th Birthday was yesterday.]

Grandpa's Birthday wish?
To have the grandkids spend the night and for us all to go for a hike in the woods the next day...on an

We found 'car bones' and a 'head bone' and the kids got to go in a creek for their first time ever.

Jumping logs was discovered by Dennis. Both kids found out that tripping wasn't that bad. The forest floor doesn't really hurt.

Other things learned:

1. You can walk in mule poop with rubber chore boots and it is okay.

2. You can walk in the creek and get your pants muddy and wet and it is okay.

3. 'Pricker' bushes are icky, but can be avoided.

4. Best yet Grandpa and Grandma will always pick you up when you fall.

[ love to my 'kids' S&S, thanks for letting your precious children spend the night and morning with us]

What can I say~~~~

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Just a little crazy

Some days I feel as though my life is in total disorganization.

Today is one of those days.

Nothing is going as planned.

I guess that is OK because it isn't MY day or anything.
However I did clean the house and did laundry, vacuumed, and did all these domestic~like chores [YUCK]

When will they come out with self cleaning homes?
Clutterless houses?
Areas that organize themselves?

...and husbands that clean up after themselves???

Oh wait, smack me in the head, I must be dreaming again.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Man Lists

Today my husband and I sat down and I started to help him make his list of TO DO's.

He constantly thinks of things he needs to get done but never writes them down so we made a MAN LIST:

Water Heater-install


Garage door and Fascia

House Doors

Allis Chalmers Brakes

Snag Grinder


Tree Clean up

Insulation House

Summer Fencing

Back Fence


Junk Pile


Hay Trailer
Old Skid Steer

Bob's New Shed

Ditch Behind Garage

There is no order assigned to this list yet but we will put it in order of priority eventually.

I'm working on the Woman List.
I think it'll be really short.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

And to ride

A lot of things went through my mind this morning as I was preparing to go out with Badger and Morris.

I thought about how lucky I was to have a good job and the freedom to do things I love to do. I guess I was counting my blessings as I was spitting out mule hair and tacking up Badger.

We wandered the woods today in search of Skunk Cabbage also known as Symplocarpus foetidus. I think that means fetid plant or something.
Well we found the little smelly plants coming up in the boggy area of the First Valley.

It is sort of pretty, but don't step on one, it does stink.

I'm enjoying my hobby of finding plants and flowers and trying to put names to them. Of course Badger and Morris are part of that hobby.

We ended up at the edge of the 'Back Valley' looking down from the upper edge. I really had a 'hankering' to go down into it and explore ... but that was not on my route slip that I'd left for Rich.
When I am out by myself, I always leave a note as to the 'route' I am going to take while riding or hiking. The cell phone is nice, but doesn't work in many of our valleys.
So I write down a route and pretty much stick to it.
If I don't turn up...then Rich knows where to start looking for me.

I must say I have a very unique relationship with my dog and my mule Badger. It is as if we always are communicating even though we are all different species.

While I'm busy doing photographs, both the dog and mule hang out near me. I really like the silent partnership we three have.
It is hard to explain to people who don't have animals.

Each time I go ... I am on an adventure and the worlds difficulties fade away.

I am left with the sounds of nature, birds, water, wind...

and I am pleased.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hacking chopping sawing...

That is what I do every spring in the woods. I try to clean a bit of the trail I use to hike and ride on just enough so that the berry briars and multi flora roses are not ripping me or my mule to shreds as we ride through the woods.

At this time of the year, just after the frost has gone out of the ground, a person can literally pull berry canes out of the ground.
You best have some darned good gloves!

Then there was the place where tree tops had blown down across the trail in 2007. Slowly but surely I've been cutting my way through them, or around them.

I also re-routed a part of the trail to go over a downed tree in an easier spot than we used last year. So I spent time trimming away goose berry bushes, black berry canes, and other prickly things.
Sort of mind numbing work, but the sort of work that would be appreciated the next time I hiked or rode this trail.

Of course Mother Nature provided a few interesting photo opportunities while I was out there. The moss is getting ready to blossom.....

[I have no clue as to what this moss is called...I think it may be~~~peat moss or hair cap moss]

...and I found Sarcoscypha austriaca~~also known as Red Cup Fungi.
[You have to really look closely for these little beauties!]

...and the 'common lady fern'~~[Athyrium filix-femina]
This is the most exciting time of year in the forest around here. For the next two months things begin to 'pop' up through the leaves.
I enjoy finding these things and trying to identify them.

I found a great book that is a MUST have from the UW of WI. I'm putting it on my wish list.
Wildflowers of Wisconsin

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Celebrate life

Where ever you are and whatever you are doing. Celebrate your life.

Heck it is the only one you have, right?

After getting a phone call from my friend's daughter, I learned that my long time friend had 'passed on' peacefully and without pain this morning. I could hear both sadness and relief in the daughter's voice.
And I felt not an emptiness, but a soft spot in my heart give a bump and a nudge. As if 'N' was telling me not to feel too terribly bad, but to make sure I continued to be me, the person she'd known.

So I decided to do something in her honor of course. Take a hike and look for something inspiring on this cool and damp spring day.

I went to the creek.

And I was inspired and awed. I took care to look closely at the little things.

The creek appears barren at this time of year, it seems held in limbo. Not alive with greenery, not colorful like in the winter...but as if it is silently awaiting for the magic touch from Mother Nature to nudge into springtime glory.

Yet I was able to find what I was looking for.
Things of beauty hidden in the dead leaves...

New life springing from the soil...

and I was comforted and content.

And I felt my friend smiling and telling me that I did fine. I mixed tears of love with the creek waters...
and felt better.

It's a tough job...

Being a Jack Russell these days just isn't easy. I'm expected to do all sorts of really tough things.

Keeping my toys in order is a huge challenge. Sometimes I just can't decide on which toy I really want to play with. My choices are many and I love just spreading them all over the living room floor.

Of course the man fella of the house doesn't always appreciate this and tells me that I need to pick up my toys.
Come on....I mean really...

My other duties generally include.
Holding down the couch. [You never know when a couch might get up and move!]

Barking when let out at night...and I realize that the vehicles have not been parked in their proper places.

Modeling. I do all sorts of stupid things for Val when she has her camera out. Of course, I will model for dog cookies.

Then there is the most important duty of my day.
Get Val up in the morning and nag, nag, nag, until she gets up...lets me out ... and feeds me.

Being ever so grateful, I eat. Make sure she is awake, then run back upstairs and claim the warm spot in the bed and go back to sleep.

It is a tough job, but somebody has got to do it......whoops, gotta go ... the heater's blower just turned on and ... by golly someone has to lay in front of it and soak up the warmth....
have a good day!
[I hope to go out and find something that will make Val go 'Icky Yucky' today!]

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A promise

In 2004 I made an 'internet' acquaintance.
Our common interest? Mules of course!

We emailed and phoned each other along with letters 'snail mail letters'.

Always, always, our favorite subject was of course Mules. And one particular mule was the subject of most of our conversations. A spotted mule named Dinah.

My husband and I grew to love and admire both Dinah from a long distance. We became very fond of her owner who always had a happy go lucky voice and positive attitude.

Last year I got a phone call...and hang up from this mule owner. It was later followed by an email which asked if we would consider becoming Dinah's owners if something happened to her.

I called her and she did indeed ask us if we'd consider giving Dinah a home if 'something' happened to her.
My friend has a deep and incredible love for her animals.
Hubby and I assured her that ... yes, we would take Dinah.
[and never ever sell her...give her a forever home]

I recieved an email this morning asking about Dinah. Would we honor her mom's wish and give Dinah a home?
We weren't expected to...but if we could direct them to someone who might want her....

I emailed the daughter and said 'Call me!' We made a promise about Dinah and want to honor it.

Said Daughter called and we tearfully talked.
Hubby joined in.

Dinah will not go to sale per my friend's wish. Dinah will come to our place where she will have a forever home.

We don't go back on our word. We promised and we will deliver.

Dinah will come to live with us [and work for us]...forever.

And then the day will come where Dinah will cross the Rainbow bridge...

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dealing with Frustration


It isn't going to go away by not talking about it. Isn't that silly? I but can't convince my other half that he has to take the bull by the horns and face it.

I don't think he wants to.
I think he is denying it.
When asked by a friend or neighbor what he just went through and why he was hospitalized, he is telling them:

I had the flu.
I have pneumonia.

The truth is, a common cold a common cold virus; created an 'exacerbation of COPD'. Although he has not had any 'exacerbations' before this incident.

Last night I got home from work and found him in bed complaining of fatigue that just wouldn't go away. He said he got hot, sweaty, and light headed and... had to lay down. [signs of too much carbon dioxide in the blood and a shortage of oxygen...he denied my conclusion of course]

I commented that perhaps we ought to be calling his provider at the VA concerning had been happening often.

[His response: NO! I'll get better! Just give it time!]

Some options we needed to look at, perhaps Oxygen to help him feel more alive and to help him?

[It is fairly well known that a person with COPD in the later stages often doesn't get enough oxygen in their blood while resting. This causes the patient to feel 'tired' all of the time.
Being 'tired' all of the time leads to ~~~ more laying down and sleeping...less exercise, less O2 in the bloodstream~~~

and the wicked cycle continues.]

My suggestion of O2 angered him.

His response was to say he was never going on it...he didn't want to depend on IT. As if Oxygen was a dirty word.

I tried to reason with him that O2 may not be needed 24 hours a day. Just when he needed it ... when he was feeling weak and tired.

It is almost as if he is hoping by that ignoring his condition, it will go away.
COPD does not go away. There are things that can be done to make his life easier ... along with exercises to increase his lung capacity.

I'm frustrated -- yes it is has only been 11 days since he was in the hospital, and I know he won't recover from this episode in a wink and a flash.

However he must start to confront the fact that he has a disease [ugly terrible word] ... and that we need to deal with it, accept it and work with it.

A huge factor in his reluctance to accept COPD and some of the treatments that go with it I suppose stem from the fact that his father had it and in the end hated living with it. Yes, this is true and it is a wicked disease.

But I feel if I can convince him to listen to the doctors and work hard at controlling his symptoms, we'll still have a relatively good life together.

In May he is going to have a PFT test. Pulimonary Function Test. This will determine the stage of COPD that he is at and how well his lungs are working at this time.

So yes, I am frustrated and a bit angry for having to butt my head up against the proverbial brick wall.
I do wonder though, how I would feel in his shoes?

COPD exacerbation defined: