Tuesday, June 30, 2020

One day at a time

Humid mornings. 

I caught this while moving the non riding mules from one pasture to another. Tomorrow I'll open the lower gate to the woods and let them get down near the creek where it is cooler...or I may do that this afternoon when I get back from the Nursing Home.

The heat index is supposed to be stifling. In other words. Hot and near 100 degrees.

The mules are doing well though, they have fresh cool water every day. I redo their stock tanks for them. 
The house is staying cool with the fans and A/C. 

I've been exhausted from sitting with MIL. During the Compassionate Visiting, you are not allowed to leave the room, so they bring you refreshments and you have access to a bathroom. 
Because of their ruling for Covid-19, you are confined.

As one nurse quipped:

This is Hotel California
"Relax" said the nightman.
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like
but you can never leave."

The reference was pretty clever and I got it because I loved that Eagles song and recalled that particular phrase.

I was amused.

My question of the day is... 

Wait, what? What is THE reason to NOT wear a mask? It is NOT a statement.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Death Watch

Sunday morning I got the phone call we all dread. The Hospice Nurse at the Hospital was calling to inform Rich and his sister that the end was very near for his mother at the nursing home.

Just a few weeks ago it was determined that she'd be better served in the Hospice Program. Kidney Failure and CHF walk hand in hand and early this spring dialysis was discussed. As it would prolong her pain and cause her more pain [she totally freaks when poked by needles] it was thought that we'd address that when absolutely needed. 
I asked the Guardian to look into the paperwork that my MIL had done years ago and could be still on file with one of the larger hospitals for her wishes at end of life.

Since I hadn't seen any FB posts from Bethel Home that included photos of MIL doing activities with the other folks, I wondered how she was fairing and I'd made a note to ask the Guardian for an update.

With Covid-19 things get as we say *kittywhampus*. Shut off in our own little world of worries on the farm, I have been concentrating on safe ways to shop and do all the things we need to do to survive.

With the latest disturbing trend of infections, I've been especially careful regarding social distancing, masks, care for keeping people outside of our two person bubble at bay.

How near the end? I asked the Hospice Nurse and she said, *Don't wait.*

I'd done the chores already and had made enough food so Rich could have leftovers for his midday meal. He is too high risk to be going into the Nursing Home and he wouldn't be able to sit there very long. 

I showered and headed out the door after calling and making the phone calls I had to make. All the way into town, I my phone kept dinging with messages and questions. I can hit a button on my steering wheel and hear the messages. There was nothing but questions, so I just continued driving.

All systems are slowly fading away and she is clean and comfortable. The nurses here are exceptional and really DO love their patients. These people cannot be getting paid what they deserve. 

Elderly people used to frighten me. However spending having spent so much time at this Home in the past year has given me a different perspective.
These are not just 'nutters' stuck in a place out of sight. 
They are people, humans.
Not trash to be hidden away and forgotten. 
Pre Covid, I would spend time at some of the activities and was delighted with many of the residents.

Before the lockdown MIL's memory and time line was a bit off. She could not recall things. There were gaps in her memory and lost timelines.... but she could still come up with some wonderful one liners and make me laugh. 
Sure she was very ill with Kidney Failure and some form of dementia, but I still enjoyed visiting with her.
I assume it is frightening and frustrating to see mental and physical decline. It is too easy to just say that 'old' people are worthless and nothing but a burden on society. I see it in a differently but that is because it was one of MY old people.

Stephanie came and we sat together on each side of her bed. I sat on her bed and held her hand. 

I spent most of Sunday with her talking to her and later on I read her poetry from a book I'd brought with me. Don't know if she liked it or not, she sleeps, her muscles twitch, and she struggles to breath. 

I wiped the spittle of foam from her face and continued to have a quiet conversation with her. 
I told her how much I've always loved her for her kindness she has shown to me as a mother in law. And I mean it. She has always been nicer to me than my own mother.

There is a term that I hadn't heard before that is applied to her. *Actively Dying*

Her system is deciding when she will stop being. But the nurses did say that she can still hear our voices.

And so I will be doing temperature checks, wearing booties, a gown, a mask, and stay confined in a room with my MIL to be with her.
No one deserves to die in the company of strangers.

It won't be very long now, but I still need to care for my husband at home.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Pandemic Play

What can I say? My closest neighbor and I call ourselves the Lockdown Ladies. We come up with ways to socialize distantly.

We talk with our electric fence between us. When we have something for one another we have worked out the Stump Exchange at my place or a designated spot near her house.

Her children love adventure and love going to my creek.

So I worked out a game for our two households that includes 'no contact' and lots of fresh air. It ties in well with learning for both myself and the neighbors.

We call it Treasure Hunting. An old game. We write clues down on paper and leave it in a plastic bag on the Exchange Stump. She texts me when they are ready for a creek walk and I stand outside and wave. 

Sometimes the clues include a type of tree. Sometimes the clues include the names of fossil rocks or fungi. We include upstream and downstream. 

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out a couple of clues the kids left me.  

Each child takes turns writing clues. I can see that from the handwriting. I have to say that it is a delight to have this 'game'. I get to spend time in the creek hiding toys and items, and they get to splash around in the cool waters on a hot day!

The game gives each household a purpose. I can get creative with these old toys and they can too.

Yesterday I was thrown by a couple of clues. I actually resorted to tracking the bent grasses and weeds to ferret out where the Truck was hidden.
They were clever, I was clever too!

It was not an easy find as it wasn't right in the creek but the description was a Great Fallen Tree by the Orange Target. If I'd read it properly the first time, I wouldn't have had such a hard time with it!

I searched high and love for the Creepy Doll without a face [these toys are left in the forest and apparently a squirrel or some other varmint decided to chew on its face.]
The Teddy Bear in the tree was pointing to the Creepy Doll which was 'upstream' from there.

So I looked in the area where the Teddy was pointing his face. I searched up stream and around to no avail! I was going to give up. But I went and stood in front of this sapling and pulled up the photo of the Teddy. HIS arm was pointing behind him!

How insanely clever!

The Very Creepy Doll was exactly where the Teddy was pointing.

Now it was my turn to hide the items. 

I used this time with the toys to experiment and get my photography fix for the day. The rest of my day was slated for my workout, cultivating the garden, mowing, and weed wacking.

The Pink Dozer is
trying to remove a log.
I think it may be too Big!

That Pink Pony
is resting on the 
Large Oak that is
bent over 
the trail!

Meanwhile, the lonely
Teddy Bear
decides to sit and 
chat with the 
downstream from the desk.

The John Deere truck
has gone to work.
It is building a
dam just upstream from
the crossing path.
[Maybe you should stop and 
help him build a dam?]

This poor fellow was building a
dam too to make a
tiny waterfall! 
I think he fell 
into the creek!

This part of the creek is so
The Very Creepy Doll 
likes roots and rocks not 
far from the tree with 
huge roots!

Percy prefers a nice safe 
rock ledge to sit
One time being lost
 in a flash flood was enough
for him!

Crazy Zombie Doll is hiding.
Not far from the place where the
rocks look like stairs.

The Orange Dino has decided 
to build a rock fort.
He thinks his brother the
Green Dino was picked 
up by a raccoon!

And once again, it is your turn!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Creek is my place...

Today's thoughts brought to you by Mary Oliver 


The dwindled creeks of summer,
Unremarkable except,
Down pasture, through woodlot,

There are so many
And keep such a pure sound
In each roiling thread,
Trickle past the knees of trees,

Dropped leaves, salamanders,
Each one scrubbing and cooling
The pebbles of its bed.

My back to the hickory, I sit 
Hours in the damp wood, listening.
It never ebbs.
Its music is the shelf for other sounds:
Birds, wind in the leaves, some tumbled stones.
After awhile
I forget things, as I have forgotten time.
Death, love, ambition ---the things that drive
Like pumps in the big rivers.

My heart
Is quieted, at rest. I scarcely feel it.
Little rivers, running everywhere,
Have blunted the knife. Cool, cool,
They wash above the bones.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Gardening and Tools

Once upon a time, my husband bought me a fancy little cultivator Echo machine thingy. He said it would be so easy to use between the rows of the garden and even the ad looked fantastic. Wow, just with a piece of machinery, I could keep a perfect garden.

Yep. It worked once and it was hard to control and it rattled and vibrated my hands so they hurt. It was nearly impossible to pull start and it took a mixed fuel combo.
And it was so noisy!
A friend purchased a Hula Hoe for me and I really liked that too for a bit. I still use it along with the standard old fashioned hoe.
But this old fashioned cultivator works so much better.

It is quiet, easy to start up [yeah I'm kidding] and so easy to control. It does a wonderful job. And the only part that would need fixing would be the handle if I broke it.
Sometimes simpler is better.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Fireflies and Spider Webs

Some more fun at night
with Fireflies.

Two things happened to sort of make these shots a bit of a flop in my eyes. However, I am always looking to try things and do better. How else but to make mistakes and learn from them?

I used a very high ISO for these shots which made the photos horrible with 'noise'. I was able to fix most of that. I got the focus a bit better. I tried a kit lens to see if it would also work. It did, but not quite as well as the nice prime lens I have.

Two other things made it difficult. When I turned on the flash light to walk back to the house I realized I was in fog and the droplets would totally confuse the camera [not to mention the old fool who was out in the middle of the night!].

Lastly, I discovered that I'd left the polarizing filter on the lens. Well that really messes things up in night photography.
Still, I learned a lot from my errors and came away with a few shots to remember my follies with.

This morning's theme was fog.
I didn't intend to go out and take a walk, until I stepped outside and just kept going.

I grabbed the IRChrome Filter and put it on the old Infrared Camera. I took my regular camera also, but it mostly stayed inside the bag as I was mesmerized by the fog and the colors through the Infrared lens.

The fog certainly changes the landscape. The trees at the southern end of the pasture are muted and blurred. While the rest of the photo is soft yet full of exotic colors.

I turned from the meadow and headed up the driveway to the ridge.

Mother Nature sure was putting on a show for me. 

There is something about a morning with beautiful fog and mists that I love and we have that a lot in our neck of the woods because of the landscape of deep valleys and hillsides.

My happiest discovery of the morning was the glistening spider webs.

And that is what I will leave you with....

Friday, June 19, 2020

Gone Biking

I got the Bliss out again. I've caught up on Fence Maintenance, Gardening, and most of the yard work I wanted to get done.
Time for some riding.

I got the mules' manes and ears clipped also. Their coats are glossy and I need to be riding them. Fred is pretty much retired as he is going to be 34 this year. I know that if my Kenosha friends show up, I will let their youngest daughter ride Fred in the pasture. She prefers Fred as he is a pony and she learned to ride on him.


I loaded up the bike after my dawn ride and met my friend at the Reserve for a ride. Bill had not yet bicycled on the Old 131 trail yet, so I said we'd do it together. I told him I'd done it with Kristine on Monday [and last Friday too]. This time we started at the LaFarge end and rode to Rockton with stops along the way.

We only met the guy that was cutting the grass alongside the trail for the horse traffic.
But we got to see yearling deer twins, some Cranes, and this turtle making his/her way from one pond to another. 

One thing that is so fun about having Bill along is that he is a bottomless pit of curiosity.

He sees something and then asks. I'm happy to answer his questions and even admit that I don't know answers when he asks about things in Nature.

Bill rode a bike that his father owned and he had refurbished it. Obviously the higher end bikes don't have kickstands. Mine is an 'entry' level road/mountain type bike that can be ridden on black top and not rough trails. 
I am going to see if I can get the bike shop to put a cargo thing on the back and I can get a little pocket thingy [like those technical terms?] for under the seat.

I thought about finding some way to carry Charlie but I don't think that is a wise idea. The extra weight moving around in some sort of basket would probably cause an accident. This will have to be an adventure that Charlie misses out on.

We rode to Rockton and explored one of the canoe landings. Bill had a lot of questions about the river and kayaking or canoeing.
I was amazed that he'd lived here nearly as long as I had ... and had NOT yet Canoed The Kickapoo!

I informed him that he absolutely HAD to Canoe the Kickapoo. It is great fun and very relaxing. 
I nearly volunteered to Kayak with him. We could socially distance ourselves and I did know the river fairly well.
But I didn't want it to be awkward for him so I stayed silent. 
However if I did go with him, he'd have another adventure to take his wife on.
Bill isn't comfortable striking out solo to explore.

And I am a solo explorer.

We got back to our vehicles and had some cold flavored water drinks. Bill complained of his 'age'. Claiming that he was getting old. I remarked that I didn't know many folks of our age[s] that were as energetic as we were.

He wanted to know where I got all of my seemingly endless energy. 
I laughed and asked him if he knew about Jack Russell Terriers and then said just think of me as one.

I'm like Morris...go go go...and then drop into a deep sleep.

Biking, Riding, and Hiking are only forms of freedom and self re-energizing for me.

What can I say?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

All is quiet...

Can you spot 
Charlie in 
the middle of the photo?

Our morning walks get pretty wet sometimes. Between the creek water and the dew fall, Charlie is usually soaked by the time we get back home.

I actually was able to stay awake the other night past sunset!

I worked on my night 'shooting' skills which need... a bit more work I'd say. It is hard to focus on tiny blinking lights!
However it was fun sitting in the driveway with Nature's Light show all around me.

Hot days are for early mornings in the garden, working on those pasture weeds, yard work, and flower garden work.
Yesterday morning I finished clipping mule manes and got that done for the summer.
So far this summer/spring, the days have been pretty pleasant.

I've spent some time on the porch with Charlie. He watches and naps. I read and listen to the birds.

Today I am meeting with Bill, my hiking friend. To combat the heat and bugs, we are going to bicycle the Old 131 trail like I did with Kristine on Monday.
It will be too warm for yard work with Rich and Bill suggested a Hot Hike.

I suggested we bicycle and create our own wind.

I'm looking forward to it.

The numbers are starting to increase around us so keeping Distant is always on my mind along doing activities that are not considered risky.

Stay Safe.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Good Morning on
the Ridge

Good Morning
from the

I'm never exactly sure what each day will bring. But yesterday was full of one surprise after another.
There was a beautiful sunrise. 
I admit it. I can rarely sleep past sunrise in the summer. Then it is a struggle to stay up past dark in the evening!

It takes about an hour or so for the sun to shine into the valley. I'm always amazed at how I can watch the sun arrive on the ridge and then walk leisurely to the creek and watch it arrive in the valley.

After I settled Lil' Richard and Sven into their grazing areas for the day and moved the mules to their next rotation, I came in and called our hay guy. When the pastures get short and there isn't much browsing left, I feed some hay to supplement their diets. The mules will eat berry briars and do a fair job of cleaning the woods, but I don't want the two hard keepers to lose weight.

I texted the farrier to see if I could schedule a trimming then set out the clippers for doing manes and ears.

Rich surprised me while I was finishing up my work out.
I'd just finished up the WOD or work out of the day. Pictured are my pine cones that I use to mark off how many rounds I'd done. 
70 jump ropes and 10 Rt arm power snatches and 10 Lt arm power snatches.

I'm handicapped by not having those wonderful dumb bells to use like we do in the gym. So my coach has helped me figure out what items I can use around the farm as weights.
This was a 10 lb sledgehammer.
The reason I mention this is not because I want anyone to be impressed that I work out. 
I want to mention that Rich has taken an interest in finding items that I can substitute as weights.

[Working out has helped me regain strength in my shoulders and it actually makes me feel better. I think it is important for me to do this for my physical and mental health. Doing Virtual WOD's has been a bonus for me. If I don't have time to do the work out first thing in the morning, I do it later in the day. I've missed less workouts this way! But I DO miss the gym and the camaraderie.]

Yesterday he found a 12 lb anchor and a 15 lb anchor for me to use as 'Kettle Bells' for weighted squats.

Rich walked over to his skid steer and fired it up.

He decided to work on those old ruts between the busted up garage and the large shed. I did the shovel work and he gave me directions.

That may sound a bit lopsided, but with his lung issues, he gets out of breath quickly. We've always been fairly good at working together.
I shoveled and he directed. When I got the deep holes filled in he was able to drop the dirt and smooth it out.

I'll plant grass seed when he is finished and the 'lane' will be repaired.

For the afternoon I grabbed my kindergarten pad and Charlie's pillow. I sat on the porch with him while Rich slept. I decided to listen to the birds and read a book.

Charlie seems to be the 
King of Relaxation Techniques.

I don't know if I can attribute my home work outs to Rich's increase in activity, but since I ask him to help 'time' me or find items for me to use, it seems he has more interest in life. 

Last night when the hay man came, Rich walked out and talked with him a bit [distanced of course]. Rich hasn't walked out to talk to the hay guy in two years.
Daryl remarked how wonderful it was to see Rich engaged and even more impressive was that he just got in the skid steer and unloaded the hay with no apparent effort.

Since 2017 he has struggled with everything.

Life may suck out there beyond the borders of our farm but I get to see a different kind of hope.

I get to see my husband again.