Clipping In

Phew! Well, life sure got in the way the last four weeks, huh? So much going on that I had just enough mind left to tend to the house and grounds and not much left for social obligations. Things continue apace though Change could come at any time so I feel like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

In basic news…Sarge has lost over 40 lbs with the Peloton and following his nutritionists advice. He really is looking great. His employer has edited their fitness standards so he has to get his rowing test down about 1 minute for passing, 2 for that comfy feeling of security. With some advice from a fellow Pelotonian on FB his technique is refining into an efficient row. So happy he started this journey already – many will feel deep pressure to meet the new standards. Of course, it is also a handy way to press Retirement on those who ought to be well out the door. Do I think the Director gave him very sound advice geared to ensuring he was ready for the coming changes without telling him directly? Yep. Thank God.

Did I mention I had the same testing done? Cannot recall my last post – at any rate it was the Comprehensive Blood test which showed nothing too terribly amiss. Between it and the treadmill test I feel comforted that I’ve no inherited cardiac issues. Something that was rather a large concern for me…I am supposed to take the same supplements, of course, but cannot swallow those huge pills. Sigh…so I have to find a similar item in smaller size and take more of them.

My Peloton experience isn’t as dramatic. Loss is about 10 lbs but then I haven’t been on it as often or as energetically as he has. I try hard to keep my heart rate in a zone 2 area and the really sweaty rides are 4’s and 5’s for me – I will do them but only once a week. I’ve added weights and ab work to the routine – I love weights! – and know that will help. My main happiness lies in knowing my crushed tibial head is safe. I lived for 2 years expecting it to just explode some day and have my knee collapse onto the shards. Dramatic, huh? Well, that’s how it was in my head – this constant terror of failure. With the bike I was able to give it a safe trial. I felt I could rehab the muscles and tendons to support the whole mess and then give it a real test with the weights. I was very surprised to find that the leg was quite strong, no pain at all in the movements. I trust it again which is something that I missed.

As we age so many things go awry – the very flesh that you relied on and abused suddenly turns on you and returns that abuse. So I needed to really get my crap together, get lots of tests done, and take the last few decades of my life less for granted. In truth, I don’t think it will be that long. If it all goes to hell the odds of my making it are a tad marginal. But I figure I’d might as well not make it easy on some moron. As Tim Kennedy says –TKShirt

Do I think I can really reflect that? Meh – probably not. But no reason to not try, at least.

On the ranch maintenance side of things…we pulled the trigger on a major investment – a riding mower, zero turn variety, in the level of build that ensures a lifetime of use. I was tired of dealing with a crappy unit and having him spend one full day just to mow half of the property. Now he can get it done in 2 hours. After his first mow he came in the house, near to tears, knowing that he no longer surrenders a full day off to the task. Well worth it if you have it.

MowerJD

And then there is the arts and crafts side of life. I had the warp on the loom for rather a long while but had no time to progress and then no memory of how to progress. Thankfully, my dear friend came to the house on a rare off day and helped me get it finally installed. I have it on a basic twill pattern for kitchen towels and cannot wait to see them finished. I already have another pair of yarns ready.

There is a very minor error, of course, from when I returned to the loom and had to regroup but it wasn’t worth the possible disaster of trying to fix it. After all, it is near the hem end anyway. I also scored a deal on a warping mill! I am not sure I am ready to use it just yet – its real benefit lying in creating the long lengths of yarn of varying shades. It can also be used as one would for any project but I think I will use the warping board for the next project and maybe the mill for the one after that as it will include a few different shades. Weaving is a really wonderfully meditative process and rather technical and mathematical. I think that is why many men are attracted to it. My mind boggles at what 4 shafts, 6 pedals and two directions of yarn can produce. The patterns are just limitless, really. And so I shall get on with my day here and find some time on the loom.

I am especially eager to get up to the craft room because Sarge knocked out 2 of 3 major changes to my craft room – installing a curtain rod and changing out the dated ceiling fan for a LED spotlight fixture that I can tune to wherever I am working in the room. Now the light over the loom is splendid. I have a lot of natural light in the room but come winter that fimay be all I have to work with so I am thrilled we got it done. I might see if we can buy a shelf later this afternoon and get the last task completed. I hope to move all my books from a shelf unit to a wall shelf and free up that space.

Now, however, I must get my butt upstairs and on the bike. It is so easy to just let the day fly by and then declare it too late to bother. But I ate enough crap yesterday to need the exercise. I know that Peloton is getting rather a lot of media attention lately and that the adherents are rather cultish but it really is an amazingly inspirational device. The secret sauce, though, is their trainers. Really approachable, actually responsive in social media, and they truly care about your progress as well as your set backs. I know it seems rather pricey at about $3k all in with gear, annual class payment, etc. But what price your ability to jog an hour at a rate you know you can maintain for that long? What price the knowledge that your heart can take it as well as your knees? And what price the comfort of being in better shape than you were? You’ll spend that on fancy coffee in a year with nothing to show for it but rounded edges. Get a credit card, charge the thing on it, and make payments. If it all goes to hell you’ll still have the bike and better health. If it doesn’t you have both and a small monthly payment on the budget. Give it some thought.

 

 

 

 

 

April Showers

Can it be I have not posted in a few months? Surely not…well, they’ve been awfully busy…Sarge has been occupied with his relatively new region and staff but it is quite an improvement for him so no complaints. Between the lack of stress and the Peloton he has lost over 30 lbs in about 2 months. The intensive cardiac review he had really put his head in a different place about his health. He knows, now, that he cannot have the sugar habit ever again. With that, I am aided in my own goals…

The meal prep has been a bit challenging but not that bad. More expensive, perhaps, than eating without thought but once you have the produce the rest is nominal. Which is why the garden has GOT to get put in. I am setting a reminder for the fall and next spring to just go ahead and set up seed stations – just get the mix, the containers, the lights, and nevermind waiting on the nurseries. Cheaper in the end, of course.

Just now the hedges are chock full of dewberries in fruit – I make a few trips out each day to beat the birds and random neighbor chickens from getting them all. Nothing like freshly whipped cream dotted with the cold berries. My own berry bushes are holding their own but the weather has been really difficult – a couple hot days with cold mornings, wet days followed by too dry weather. And I have got to get them edged, fabric’d and mulched. Now. But I have been reserving his To Do list for the most critical things…

We have to get the bee hive stand made – he isn’t sure the best option but they arrive on the 12th so there is no more time to think about it. The hive cover is made, though. I do need to get a proper feeder made, though – mason jars I have – just need to punch a few holes and mount it. I admit to some dismay about the whole matter but the hive was a gift so even if the bees fail it will have been my only expense, really.

Sadly, the tractor he inherited from his mother was badly damaged by the shipper – it is a smaller garden tractor but nearly all the shrouds got cracked and the grill just smashed. So he is dealing with the insurance reps to get it repaired and let me tell you – John Deere is very proud of their shrouds. It has, however, delayed nearly everything we wanted to do – shredding pastures, tilling the garden over, taking out stumps…all the tasks that I cannot do without him…and the POS mower that some shyster took us on – that thing is going on a pyre as soon as it is replaced.

I was glad I held off on peach tree trimming as we had a couple very cold nights recently. But I managed to get it done and there are already two wee peaches on the limbs so I feel I have succeeded. There was an ancient tree that I did not trim last year though maybe I ought to have – still, it is done, too, and might do more than put out a jumble of leaves this year.

I suppose I am rambling about the home tasks but they really have taken up all the time. It is that, riding the Peloton, and meal planning/prep. Not much else gets done, frankly. I still have so much to do – painting, getting quotes for siding, detailing vehicles…but it feels like a generous plenty as-is. I have a warp on the loom that I have got to get loaded but it just languishes. Admittedly, we did have an AC failure that halted my progress on that craft room – they have to march through it to access the unit in the attic – so I need to return to it. Just as soon as the bees are safely installed. Priorities!!

Here’s hoping your own spring is keeping you busy as little bees!

P.S. I found these and may have ordered a pair!

 

 

 

Howling Banshees

One of the peculiar things about this house is that the breezeway and soffits produce a deep and resonant howl during high winds. Here that means just about every day. I love how it has a kind of language, alerting me to weather changes. With the winds this weekend it made sleep difficult. A near constant 30 mph wind with higher gusts had the house sighing, anything not tied down flying, and made our travel yesterday a rather tricky one with the truck getting tail winds and then slammed on the sides, forcing it to stray in the lane. It looked for all the world like a highway full of drunks as we all careened in the gusts.

There was, of course, the other howling taking place in the nadir of the nation. How any single man trusts any woman he meets is beyond me. You have my deepest sympathies. I was deleting and unfollowing those who were throwing their lot in with the vagina-tonsured assembly. I am generally a laissez faire kind of person but if you are so damned stupid that you can actually declare you either have different or lesser rights as a woman or that you are oppressed in this nation – well, I will not tolerate that sort of utter and deliberate foolishness around me. Not a single one of those signs declared a concern for FGM, for Arab slaves burned in cages, for trafficked y0uth. Nope. Just a mutual support for their right to bitch about whatever had their vag’s in an uproar this month. Or would that be vagi?

Meanwhile, while in the nether regions, allow me to note that if one has not mounted a bicycle in – mmm – decades that one will find that the seat is no longer as generous as it seemed in ones youth. See, Sarge has missed bike riding since his terrible accident so when we saw the Peloton commercial we looked at each other and nodded.

peloton

Yes, this might be just what the doctor ordered. Indeed, he recently had a big cardiac workup done and was borderline diabetic so he was adamant that the weight was coming off now. We went to the shop at the Domain (Lori rocked the demo, BTW), looked at it in person and agreed to the admittedly steep investment.

I will freely admit that it is essentially an indoor bike with large tablet mounted on the handlebars. However, it really does offer a large variety of classes – live and recorded – as well as many levels of exercise from newb to hardcore pro. I admit I far prefer the scenic rides they offer – high rez rides around places I will never see. I have no competitive nature at all so their diagnostics and placements in groups means little to me. I ride what works for me. But Sarge is loving every aspect of it, rising quite early to get a ride in before work. And sometimes another in the evening. I like that one is in constant comfort – AC blowing instead of a hot wind, bathroom handy for those untimely needs, and the ability to cast the screen to your large and fancy smart tv if you prefer. I also like that it can be customized on the fly to fit each user – I think it allows up to 4 users per subscription. Yes, that is where they keep their funding. It isn’t cheap, that annual video subscription. But they are so well executed and of such variety that I think it rather fair, really. Note, too, that it is the PERFECT option for introverts. You can play with others in live classes if you wish but you can also avoid all other human contact and still feel as though you are getting a class experience.

All this said…my word, that damned saddle hurts. Sarge goes on about how one has to position themselves on the proper part of the saddle, etc. There is no softness there. Even my investment in bike shorts has barely improved the situation. I know that with time comes a tough taint and one doesn’t even notice it anymore. Do I think I will get there? Not sure. But I do know that when one is riding in a dripping sweat and sees that the caloric output nowhere matches that delicious Andy’s Custard Ice Cream dessert…well…it can put one off, really. So for that delicious cup of hot fudge I have to crush my nethers for 4 hours? No. Seriously, no. My ice cream habit has been edited to a hunk of dark chocolate with almond butter daubed on the end. Bastards.

If you have a need for fitness and the funds to support it I have to say the bike is really an intriguing option. For anyone who lives in the frigid north where biking months are few this might be precisely what you need. Now, I have to talk myself into mounting up today. The pain will be guaranteed but then so will the fitness.

Down and Out

It’s a bad time when both of us are sick and so it has been for about 4 days, now. He started it, as they say on the playground, and I got it due to poor isolation and sterilization protocols. I know better and yet here I am, full of snot. It is a reminder, of course, of just how fast a really dread disease could spread in a household or community. I will be keeping this in mind in the future – more gloves, masks, etc. needed. Soap and water would not have hurt but when you are stepping and fetching for the sick and scratch your nose…well, there you are, joining in the hawking and spitting. His turned into a terrible sinus infection so he got the kindly dose of antibiotics that helped a great deal.

Looks like Zed has put up a number of nice winter weather vehicle tips lately and I highly recommend all of his ideas. The army sleep system items can be gotten at your local military shop, get a Homer bucket and gamma seal lid, toss some properly sealed items inside and your kit is done. I admit to being a fan (after his recommendation) of the Streamlight lantern – offers all the illumination and rescue modes you might want. Yes, those D size batteries might be a pain but it works when you need it to.

During the VERY cold weather of late I was ever more grateful that I bought one of these down skirts at an REI clearance sale a few years ago. I keep it put up until absolutely needed and let me tell you – nothing made the brief excursions outside tolerable while sick like that skirt. I can imagine it seems like overkill for the south to some of the northern types but let me tell you – put that over your jeans or sweatpants and you’ve a layer the wind cannot get through. I am tempted to get a shorter version for chilly spring mornings. One might wonder, “Does this down make my butt look big?” but it doesn’t matter. Is my butt warm? Yes. When it comes to me and being comfy in rough weather I DO NOT CARE what I look like. In the end, few things work as well in concert as wool and down. My Woolrich sweater over my silk long john top (thin and warm) and a down vest over all that with strong wind breaking coat was fine for the brisk 20’s. Layers are so vital – you have to be able to release the heat to avoid sweating in your clothes during exertion so that you don’t get chilled when you stop.

Seriously, though, you need only to review his site to find all you need to know about being ready for any event – his recommendations have stocked my bins for a few years, now. I need to dump my backpack out, toss the ancient crumbles of energy bars, and stock it afresh. My truck was down for a month (yes, I was right – U joint again) so I haven’t had it out for my annual winter do-over. But I need to check it all, re-seal the bags, etc. I also received a label maker which will aid in making clear what is in those handy small inserts – nice to segregate your food from medicine from clothes but if you aren’t getting in the bag often you will not remember during an emergency. Just because your med bag is red doesn’t mean you can find the good bandages fast. And, yes, those supplies get nasty over time, too. Rubber and adhesive fail with time and temperature so plan to refresh that red bag, also. Imagine the frustration of trying to bandage up a wound one-handed only to find that your tape has sealed to itself. Permanently.

Nothing like a cold winter to make you consider your preparations, eh? Don’t find out the hard way that what you thought was Just Fine is really Just Barely Enough.

R and R

What a whirlwind the month has been! I can hardly remember Thanksgiving and fret about how little gifting I managed but in the end, with the kind reminder of a friend, I surrendered all such concerns and just let it all unfold. Between her admonition that no one will notice anything left undone and the following sentiment from Susan Branch I was left with a calm and peaceful heart.

“It’s not what’s on the plates that counts, it’s what’s on the chairs. Your friends and family. A party is a gift you give the ones you love.”

Sarge drove home for the funeral, managing all those details with an amazing professionalism. He had such a burden to bear but he did it all. I am sure some people were wondering why I was not there but a party had to be managed…he drove home, arriving the evening before the party.

We hosted a baby shower luncheon on Christmas Eve, amazed by how many people attended. It was a nonstop day and, come evening, I collapsed on the sofa, ignorant of anything going on around me. Christmas morning was slow and quiet, neither of us wishing to be pressed for time. Too, it was the first one in which he would not – could not – call his mother and give her a Merry Christmas. That realization hit hard as his feet his the floor. I remember it well and, frankly, it is a disappointment that rears its head every High Holy.

So we took our time, putting off the dinner obligation as long as we could, just enjoying each other’s company. It was yesterday that I offered the idea of taking a vacation over Christmas, avoiding all the planning and drama by merely not being there! He added on the idea of our gifting each other a mutual item, perhaps something for the house or garden. I think we have hit on the perfect solution and Christmas 2017 will find us in Wyoming. How wonderful to just let it all go with a smile and a wave. Yes, I think I could manage that quite well.

I hope your own holidays were as calm and bright as possible.

mantel_xmas2016-001

 

 

A Soul Wends West

This evening the winds from the north are howling around the house and the temperature has dropped 30 degrees in as many minutes. It is apt weather for the evening as it is one of mourning.

I have always been a fan of Avalon, that mystic place in the indefinable “west” of the world. Sarge’s mother has passed this night and her soul must be riding the wind with speed toward her new home. All afternoon we saw hawks and I knew the message sent – his Cherokee elder told him it was his spirit animal and so it has been. They were coming to take her with them and someday we will all be together again. But for now he mourns the loss as well as the dark feeling that comes of being the last of the line.

There is a sense of failure in me for that – we didn’t intend to have children right up until the day we knew we never could. And now I feel it turn deeper in me, that coiling sadness of Fate. He carries that soldierly stoicism for now, knowing the amount of details he must command in the coming days. But in a small place he is that child, lost and alone, weeping for himself. And it is well. It is right.

There was a mercy in how she did this – not letting on how ill she was until the very last so that he could visit and annotate all her wishes. This, a lesson for us all – be kind to those who must care for your final business. Have all your own wishes and details clearly delineated so that no one need wonder what to do or who to call.

How bright she will gleam now that the exhausted flesh may fall. She raised such a man…such an amazing man. I shall owe her all my days.

mom-and-dad-in-younger-years

A Different Point of View

Alas, the problem with country life…no trick or treaters to decorate for. I have always been a `weener – the very decorated house, the best candy and the costume in which to greet the children at the door. Now, no need for all that. And I do miss it. Had life been more amenable I would have held a party for friends – I’ll have to remember that for next year.

It has been a rather hectic few days as Sarge transferred and is back in the saddle, so to speak. The late night calls, the wreck reports, all of it. We dressed his office with some photos and books as it was a bit sterile. Now it reflects his personality. We still have to set up the “I Love Me” wall of framed certificates but next weekend will see that done. No matter – I haven’t seen him this happy in a few years. What a burden has been lifted from him. And me, in truth, as I don’t have to walk on eggshells. Not that he brought more than a very small percentage of that irritation home but I never wanted to add to it and it was sweater_sleevesometimes hard not to…instead, I decided to take up the sweater I started ages ago and finish it for the new house and the work to come this winter. A simple one, really, with a hefty wool body and chunkier cuff and collar – something to toss on over a tshirt and need no coat in the way – a generous warmth and slight waterproof layer. I think he will like its friendly, casual style. Just a bit more work and it will be ready in time for the first real chill.

It was a great day, really, though we’re both exhausted by it now. A lot of yard work, repairs on equipment, poop brigade (the never ending chore with two large dogs), and pecan retrieval. The day started quite early, I’ve been a bit sickly with allergies or crud so sleep was nominal until at 6am the cat demanded food and exit, in that order. I lay back, waiting on the sound of the coffee brewing, then fetched the first cup as he slept. I let him sleep as long as he wanted. The dogs and I enjoyed the muffled morning.foggyfield

What an incredible thing…especially for a city girl. If anyone had told me in my youth that I could and would have this I would have laughed in their face. Then taken their lunch money. Seriously, it is the epitome of bucolic! Just ridiculously wonderful. The only thing that would improve its situation is to surround it with another 50 acres and a forest. I find myself – as does Sarge – just looking out the windows in distraction and appreciation. One works very hard all their life and never hopes for such  pleasure. At least no one from our families.barbedwire2

Each morning I take a sample of the life here as if it were temporary, a way to save each barbedwire1season. Soon enough the winter ice, then the thaw and green of spring and again the light across the land will be familiar.

It is the thing I like most – not only in new places but anywhere, really, how the light moves on the land, the features…the tint it lends the air…here, in autumn, the best sunset view. There, in spring, you can see a delicate violet and rose shade  in the morning sky.

The best part of letting the land speak for a year is that you know what view you really ought not obscure, what tree is worth nursing another year, and how much you hate that pencil cactus in the front bar ditch.

I’ve been keeping a calendar of the land to remind myself of those tasks that must be done as the wheel turns. It is too easy to forget, to get caught up in life and find yourself in May with no peas growing, no morning glories ready to climb the fence. I fully intend to plant a lovely short thyme under the pecan tree at the porch. Far too difficult to see them in the leaf litter and dirt. But there is much work to be done for the gardener in me. I’d given up that craft after I lost the garden of my dreams. I swore I would never invest that much love again in a temporary place but now…now I can let go that concern and focus again on the light – how long it sits and where.

Just now I am dreaming of the revised front walk and a proper semi-circular driveway to greet guests. Nothing too fancy, mind you. painted_skyJust some gravel and stones with maybe some rose hedges. But it lacks a proper walk and that approach really should be one that shows how happy we are here.

But I’ve another plan, first. A proper swing with this view, as it never changes and yet is never the same. Reliable and surprising each night. A place to hold hands and pet dog heads for years and years. Yes, a priority, that.