Sunday, November 10, 2019

Having a hot cup of  roasted dandelion tea with my mother on this chilly Sunday morning.  Sunny 36 degrees.

November 11, 1985
49 degrees raining

Dear Betsy,
         Well, had my grapefruit, toast and coffee--lunch packed & make-up on.  Now it's "ten of eight" and I can sit to read a few minutes.  There's lots of things I should do... and... be running through house doing chores if I was young.  Ah! Age does wonders to slow one down.  Now I let my mind wander over projects and plan on doing them tomorrow.

Now I understand her words....................

Around noontime on Wednesday, Cliff and I decided to throw some warm clothes in our suitcases and get out of the house for a few days, not think about tasks or chores that needed to be done.  I got online, booked a Holiday Inn Express in Hendersonville, NC, and within an hour we had packed a few days clothes, our meds, threw jackets in the Kia and were on our way.  This was a great feat for Cliff because he is a thinker and planner.  I flit from flower-to-flower on a whim so I loved this sudden decision of travel plans. The drive was only about three hours long, which with the cold front approaching and settling in my right hip, was long enough for me that day.  While we were there, we came across a couple of nice lodges and inns to try on our next escape. Over the next couple of days we visited the Carl Sandburg National Historical home, walked a lot, stopped at touristy shops for me, and found good places to eat. 

 "Poet of the People"
From the parking lot to the house, we walked a good third of a mile.....all up hill.
Peaceful walk............moderate temperatures before the front settled in that night.


In 1945 Mr. Sandburg purchased the 248 acres for $45,000. The site includes the three-story main house, 5 miles of hiking trails of moderate to steep terrain, two small lakes, several ponds and outbuildings.  While living there, his wife began raising goats. Now volunteers care for the property and socializing the goats so visitors can walk into the goat barns and fields with the goats.

We were fortunate to be in a small group of only six making our visit more intimate with the tour guide who truly loved his job and shared so many family stories.  Often Sandburg's grandchildren visit the home and share more family history with the guide.  This was one of my favorite stops with the toaster between two chairs.  Mr. and Mrs. Sandburg loved toast but wanted it hot when eaten so kept the toaster where they enjoyed relaxing.

Thousands of books throughout the home.  Libraries in every room.  When renovations were planned, each room had to photographed, cataloged, books and all items carefully wrapped and placed in temperature controlled storage.  A few years later all books were then returned to their exact places on shelves, furniture returned to exact places, all those letters, notes, articles also returned to where they were when Mrs. Sandburg turned the house over to the Historical Society and walked away.  One of the best tours we've been on.

Yesterday we brought some firewood up to the porch.  Cliff blew leaves.....again, cleaned off the roof gutters. I cut back the huge pineapple sage that supplied hummingbirds and honey bees.  The poor bees visited us yesterday, once the sun warmed the air, buzzing around asking me where the nectar was.  As I sit here typing with the sun coming in the kitchen windows glistening on the thin strings of webs that have collected in unseen places, I guess it's time for me to get the vacuum brush out and quit making excuses.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The three doe nibbling on green shrubbery and twigs near the garden this morning were decked out in their thicker winter coats.  Early morning temperatures in the twenties this last week took a toll on the late summer and fall blooms that were still providing nectar for the honey bees.  When the sun warms their hives and the air temperature reaches around fifty degrees the bees take flight heading for any flowers still available.  There are none left.  Later today I'll pull some of the plants and lay them in a pile for Cliff to put in the woods for me.  He's been so supportive, taking over many of the household tasks that I've enjoyed and been able to do myself.  Sun and sixties are predicted for the next two days so I should be able to get most of the dead plants cleaned up without triggering any inflammatory response.  I haven't had any flares, swollen knuckles or hands, or stiffness or pain since I quit drinking my wines in late September.  The cold front and dampness haven't caused any trouble either.......so far.  I really believe my gut can't tolerate wine as often as I was enjoying it.  I truly miss the glass of red wine when preparing our supper so have replaced it with a cup of tea.  As we age our organs don't function as efficiently as they did when we were young so the digestive juices can't do their job and the body lets us know.  The newly added Sunday methotrexate injections aren't the reason for my improved health because it takes two months to get into my system.  I'm blessed to have no ill side effects from this drug as that was my biggest fear.  Methotrexate is also used for certain types of cancers, thus the toxicity and hair loss.   I'm tolerating it very well and will have a liver function blood panel done on Friday.  I'm not bald yet...............

This year the Christmas cards I designed are pen and ink because our color printer gave up the ghost. Before throwing it away, Cliff decided to try and trouble-shoot the problem.
A mouse had been storing sunflower seeds and acorns......acorns? how did it get them past us? using the printer as a root cellar storage for winter.  We haven't had mice trouble since last winter.  Needless to say, the printer is in the trash and this year's Christmas cards are black and white. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Every couple of months our neighbors up the hill at the top of the road, Janice and Ernie, open their house for a neighborhood gathering.  Janice sends a group text with the date and the time is always 5:30.  Anyone wishing to attend replies back with the dish they will be bringing.  Weather permitting, people gather outside on her comfy porch, around the dining table, and in the living room.  Sometimes it's a small intimate group but this Tuesday about sixteen neighbors gathered at their  home. I decided to bake a cauliflower/carrot dish with Parmesan cheese melted on top and a gluten-free dessert that I could eat.  There's always two or three delicious desserts on her counter.  I found a recipe for pumpkin cookies frosted with cream cheese/confectioners sugar icing.

  The recipe called for 1/2 can pumpkin puree.  The remaining puree stored in the refrigerator.  Meat choices were hot dogs, sausages, and hamburgers along with all the other dishes neighbors brought.  All desserts, including the pumpkin cookies were devoured by the end of the evening. Today I remembered the container of pumpkin puree and decided to make our favorite pumpkin mochi loaf using up the rest of the puree.  That recipe calls for only two tablespoons of canned light coconut milk.  So I used up the pumpkin puree to now be left with an open can of coconut milk minus two tablespoons.  I also made a batch of applesauce with all the leftover apples sitting around.  I have a recipe for either sweet potato soup or squash soup that will use up the rest of the coconut milk.  Maybe I'll make a rice pudding or a bread pudding.  I just need to be sure I'm not opening anymore cans that need to be used up.

My sister and brother-in-law eat lots of broccoli rabe.  It's a recommended heart healthy vegetable but I had never prepared it until she told me about it. 
The recipe I found and love is made with garlic, Parmesan cheese, and lemon.  It's easy and delicious and is something that Cliff will eat.

Ooops..........missing the sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Coldest morning so far........twenty-eight nippy degrees.
Cliff built me a wooden frame for the kitchen garden.
For now we're just covering it on the low thirty degree nights with sheets.  There's basil, Swiss chard, parsley, and some flower that I planted but didn't label still thriving.  Clear plastic is a better cover but we're searching for a smaller quantity than what Lowe's has on huge rolls.   Flowers and spinach down in the garden won't be bothered until a hard freeze.  Once the sun warms the neighbors' hive, the honey bees still get nectar from the red and blue salvia, basil blossoms, and holy basil flowers. 
The lone chocolate pepper finally ripened.

Sunday night we armed the Blink cameras after Charlie texted Cliff that a bear was on his porch at 4:00 am Saturday morning heading down our back hill.  At 3:16 Monday morning the cameras caught him in the driveway.  I believe he stayed off our porch when the flood light came on.  He ripped down the front seed feeder but didn't destroy the feeder.  After that I started bringing it in but then got lazy last evening and left it out.  It was on the ground emptied this morning and the back feeder that's on a rope pulley quite high was totally gone.  These are old feeders.  Cliff's been brainstorming on ways to outsmart the average bear.  Hahahaha!!  Feeders will come in tonight.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

It feels like only weeks ago that the first hummingbird sighting took my breath away and my heart leapt with joy.  For the past coupe of weeks we've only spotted one hummingbird and an occasional traveler fighting over the feeders.  Cliff's birthday was Friday and in previous years that is about the marker for hummingbird departures.  I'll change the feeders one last time for any travelers.  The last sighting was yesterday morning and the feeders have been quiet ever since.  The lower garden on the slope is still full of red salvia and other nectar producing flowers along with the large pineapple sage with its red trumpet blossoms at the front porch steps.  The only action has been multiple butterflies and a few of Bill and Lisa's honey bees.  From my sewing room window I get to watch a female red-breasted grosbeak sit in the feeder tray for 15-20 minutes at a time eating and looking around.  She stays through all the the titmice and chickadees seed grabbing.  Signs of fall on our mountain.

A portion of the garden is prepared for my garlic planting this week.  After the garlic are planted I'll mulch the whole area with four to five inches of dead leaves.  The rest is up to Mother Nature and me keeping a vigilant eye out for vole holes all winter.   Farmers Almanac predicts a cold wet winter for us mentioning snow often.  Hopefully, that may be only flurries, snow showers, or a few inches.

This morning was my second methotrexate injection about an inch from my navel "at 3 o'clock" and I'm still alive.  Now it'll be no problem for me to do weekly.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Cliff is in Central Florida riding his Harley, hanging out in the bars, visiting his favorite breakfast hangout, chatting with a few friends and living la dolce vita!  He didn't know why he went to the bars.  He doesn't even drink.  This is his adventure so I stayed here on the mountain where it's peaceful and serene.  He left early Wednesday morning and I high-tailed it to my rheumatologist in Tennessee. I needed to do this alone.   The thought of the side-effects of the new medication I needed to get on was causing me terrible anxiety but I needed to get the progression under control before winter weather arrives.  My doctor patiently went over everything again with me, talked me through the injection procedure, then watched me as I talked myself through the real thing.  Injecting into the belly was not the problem.  Doing things in the correct order such as swabbing, putting the syringe into the vial, drawing out the correct amount of solution, never taking my eye off the needle, then injecting the first time at a 12 o'clock belly position seemed like a lot on my brain.  At one point I needed a third hand.  Anyway, I did it.  My second injection will be tomorrow, in a 3 o'clock point, because he said many patients prefer Sunday as their day and this will get me onto that schedule. 

Today was mid -sixties.  Nights have still been warm, high fifties to low sixties.  There's not really any color yet.  A few trees turned yellow and orange but nothing to go driving around looking at.  Color will be late this year.

Rumor has it that a bear was spotted last week in our area.  This afternoon six teenagers in shorts, short sleeves, and sandals came trudging up the steep hill in our back yard.  They were lucky they didn't uncover copperheads, yellow jacket nests, or even meet the roaming bear.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

OCTOBER is Breast Cancer Awareness month........

and for all women world-wide.........................