Thursday, May 29, 2008


Yesterday was kind of a strange day... 

 To start with, the wind blew HARD for most of the day, which is always unsettling. I had intended to get some work done outside, but when I tried to do some hand watering, the wind was blowing the water sideways and I had to stand just right for any of the water to reach the dry plants. So I decided it was just too windy for outside work and came back inside. 

 Then M had a total disconnect right after lunch... Usually the time from lunchtime through early afternoon is his best time of the day, so this was unusual. 

The disconnects are so hard for all of us, and so painful for him... It's just impossible to describe the trauma of someone disconnecting from reality. 

 It's not like it looks in the movies... It's a horrible, painful, experience for the person going through it. 

 M finally settled down for a (psychopharmacuetically induced) little nap, and while he slept R got school done. 

 She's so funny... She has yet to see the pattern in adding 10 to a number (24+10=34, then 44, 54, etc) even through I've explained it to her countless times. But yesterday, as I started teaching her about perimeter... what it is, and how to measure it... she was right on top of it. I skipped most of the scripted lesson because she "got it" the first time I explained it and was already happily measuring the perimeter of her quesadilla! 

 M wasn't able to get any school done... Once he woke up from his nap we kind of limped through the rest of the afternoon, he was still pretty fragile so I kept things as calm and low stress as possible. 

 That all changed right after dinner though... 

 Dh had gone outside to spread manure in the pasture where Blaze and the goats are. Not thinking that Blaze is a lot younger and trickier than Grant was, he left him out in the pasture while he worked. It took Blaze all of about 10 minutes to dash through the barn to the unfenced, and thick with grass, big pasture. 

 Dh didn't even notice Blaze was gone (he was still mindlessly driving the little tractor around, chopping up and scattering manure!), but M saw Blaze was out and came running to the house in a panic... R (now also in a panic) and I headed out to try and catch him. Unfortunately he didn't even have a halter on and spent the first couple of minutes we were out there dancing away from us. 

 We managed to get his halter on, but then Blaze refused to walk back to the pasture... planting his feet and refusing to take a step. (*rolling eyes* sometimes this horse is just too big for his britches!) I've been using this technique of making him back up when he gets ornery (my understanding is that it's very hard for horses to back up, and most would rather do most anything... even leave a pasture full of long green grass... to avoid being made to walk backwards), so I made him back up and then tried leading him forward again and we got him moving and back into the fenced pasture without too much trouble. 

 With the barn doors open and the wind blowing, there was a lot of dust blowing around in the barn so I decided to take advantage of the wind and clean the barn out. One thing led to another and R and I ended up working for over an hour...  sweeping out the dust, organizing the tack, moving stuff into the hay loft, etc... and doing lots of talking. 

 We corralled the goats and trimmed their hooves (an activity known around our house as the goat rodeo!) and I started teaching her how to use the big trimmers. We gave Blaze some extra treats for being such a good boy (sometimes) and talked about how much we both still miss Grant. 

 It was female bonding at it's best. We worked until (past!) bedtime and the barn looked so good by the time we were done that I was ready to set up a few chairs and a cot and move out there! It was a wonderful way to end a difficult, unsettled day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

~gardening notes~

There's not much to write about, but that's never stopped me before so I'm going to go ahead and write anyway... 

 The weather has been beautiful the past couple of days so I've been spending as much time as possible outside. I planted the kitchen garden yesterday... It runs along the east side of the house, just off the back porch, and gets both east and south sun. Tomatoes love it (all the warmth radiating off the house!) but I'm still trying to find the magic key for getting a big harvest of peppers, they haven't done as well there. 

 I planted tomatoes, jalapenos, two kinds of lettuce, carrots, and radishes. Some volunteer sunflowers are already coming up (from the seeds dropped from last year's flowers) but I also planted a bunch more. I really love having the huge blooms right outside my kitchen window. Here it is, newly planted...


 I'm going to move my green beans to this garden this year too (down on the other side of the compost bin). Last year I had them down in the big garden, but I think they'll get more attention up here closer to the house. Last year I grew them on trellises (is that how you spell that?), but this year I'm going to build "teepees" for them to grow up. Hopefully I'll get that done tomorrow... those are the only seeds I have left to plant. 

 Dh tilled up the big garden yesterday...


 ... I'm just going to grow pumpkins and cucumbers here this year, and hope the deer don't nibble them too much. 

 It felt good to work out in the sun. There is something so healing for me... so centering... about having my hands in the dirt preparing a bed for the seeds, then covering the tiny seeds with soil, gently sprinkling them with water (and oh....  the water tastes so good straight from the hose on a hot day!) then waiting for the miracle of the tiny leaves steadfastly working their way through the soil to the sun, and finally....watching them grow, knowing that in just a few months the garden will be crowded with wonderful vegetables and herbs to eat and preserve. 

 My perennials from last year all came back (a miracle!) so my little flower garden just needed a little weeding...


 I guess I'll finish with a few pictures of the projects I've been working on lately. I finished spreading the cedar shreds in the hedgerow area...


 ... and made a little sitting spot out there (which also hides the ugly well pipe the sticks up).


 I've mostly finished the flagstone walkway around the house. I have just a little more flagstone to lay on the other side of the house...


 ... and I need to continue to cobblestone border around a little farther. (Looks like I need to pull some grass out too, that's coming up by the stones!) 

This path continues around the house and ends at the steps going down the hill to the gate.


 I haven't done anything with the grass in the backyard yet... I was going to rototill it all up and replace it with a xeriscape grass, but (after thinking about what a muddy mess that would be for months on end!) now I'm thinking maybe I'll just try to salvage what I already have. 

 It's supposed to be a cool, rainy day here so I guess I'll be forced to stay inside and start getting caught up on all the things I haven't been doing because I've been outside "playing" in the dirt (like the laundry piled to the ceiling, the dirty bathrooms, the dog hair all over the floor...).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

H2 Oh, no!

We get our water from a well, and it's extremely delicious... 

It's so delicious I usually take my own water from home when we go places because it's better than bottled water or regular tap water. I guess I've gotten to be a water snob... 

 Until yesterday I pretty much took the mechanics of how our water came out of the ground, through the pipes, and out of the faucet for granted. I didn't know how it worked... it just did. But yesterday morning while I was out front loading up rocks to haul around to the back yard, I noticed something strange. (Yes, I'm still in "therapy"... I like my form of therapy, not only is it free, but it also makes you strong!) 

Anyway, I realized that the sprinkler in the front yard was on full blast, but the spray of water was getting smaller and smaller... as I watched it changed from a huge spray to just a sad little trickle.  I went in the house and tried the  faucets. No water... I called Dh, hoping for some quick fix, hoping he would say something like "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you... just turn on this and that, and the water will come back on". But he didn't know what was the matter either, except that we'd better call a well guy. 

 I've obviously read too many books set in pioneer and dustbowl times, because my first thought was that our well had run dry... ("What are we gonna do Pa, the well's run dry...") 

 That wasn't a happy thought at all... So while I waited for the well guy to get here I worked on reassuring myself that it's unlikely that the aquifer our well draws from had suddenly gone dry, and it was probably just something simple. 

 As it turned out, I was only half right... The well guy came within an hour or so and was not was I was expecting... His name is Bobby, and he's just this side of being ancient. He spent a lot of time grumbling and muttering under his breath, saying things like "Oh, THAT'S not good", and "What?!", and "Gonna have to replace this...". Periodically he turned to me and fussed at me for not "listening to" my pump. Apparently it had been talking to me for some time, but I hadn't been listening... 

Who knew? 

 Here's Bobby, with dh, checking out the well...


 The upshot of the whole deal was that our pressure tank malfunctioned, causing our pump to burn itself out... and it all had to be replaced before we would have any water. It would take about a day for his crew to come out and do the work. 

 So no, the well hadn't run dry... but it wasn't something simple either. 

 It was a long, dirty, afternoon and evening. Washing with baby wipes just isn't the same as washing with water, and we don't even want to talk about not being able to flush the toilet. I did have a little water stored away but I was rationing it (just in case Bobby was wrong and the well really had run dry).   

 First thing this morning the crew was here. The crew consisted of Bobby, a very big and colorful guy that Dh nicknamed Wolfman Jack, and a young (but big) kid. It was about the strangest work crew we've had out here... 

 They brought a big truck with a boom (I think that's what it's called) that pulled the pipe, and the pump, right up out of our well.  


 The pipes laying on the ground all came up out of the well, there was about 100' of pipe, with water at 60'.


 I watched and asked a lot of (stupid) questions while they worked, and I learned a lot about how our well works. Wolfman seemed to enjoy the conversation and invited me over to his place, but I said no... I didn't think Dh would approve.  

Finally, by dinnertime, all the work was done and we had water again! I'm a lot poorer than I was this morning, but I'm no longer rationing the water (telling my confused, but happy, kids "No you can't have water... go get a soda!"), and M is very happy with the box the new tank came in... He likes it so much he napped in it this afternoon.


 Mmmmm...... it's worth every penny.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I got a phone call...

.... from Granny yesterday, telling me that it had been too long since I posted here, and reminding me that she checks my blog every day (unspoken message: so get busy and post something new! :)  (Ok... I know how to take a hint.) 

Hmm.... maybe it's time to post something new on my blog? 

 Seriously though, I haven't posted because I've been kind of in a funk lately. As you probably already know, living with someone with a serious mental illness can be very isolating. I've said many times that living with schizophrenia feels a lot like living on the other side of a glass wall from the rest of the world. We can see everyone else, but we aren't really a part of what is going on. The schizophrenia is like an invisible barrier between us and "normal" people. 

 I've been feeling that glass wall isolation more acutely than usual lately...   So I did what I always do... I headed outside.  Luckily the weather's been beautiful so it's been heaven to spend hours of each day outside. I've been working mostly in the back yard... digging, hauling more rock, turning soil, planting... and it's looking good (well maybe "good" is a stretch... but it's for sure looking better.) I'll post some pictures tomorrow of my projects. 

 With all the beautiful weather, R has been spending lots of time with Blaze. He seems to center her, and if we are gone for several hours the first thing she does when we get home is go see him.


 Oops, she noticed some dirt on his cheek.... better clean it off!


 She's riding 3-4 days a week, and he's being so good for her... listening to her and doing just what she wants him to. He's a good horse...  

Our BIG news of course is dd#3's graduation. She's earned her BS in Psychology, and her graduation was Saturday. It was a wonderful graduation ceremony (and I only cried a little). Here's the whole family right after graduation:


 The graduation was first thing in the morning so afterwards we all went out for brunch. It was a little chaotic, but so much fun....


 That evening we got together again for a wonderful dinner at E's (dd#1) house. It was a fantastic day and we are so proud of K...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I guess it's time for a regular post. It's probably going to end up being a collection of odds and ends "catch up" post...  

M is finally starting to do a bit better, thank goodness. I've almost totally reversed the med changes we started back in December, and it's been a good thing in terms of his stability. He's doing better than he has in months... 

 Unfortunately that still leaves us with the tardive dyskinesia. I spoke for a long time to his pdoc and her only suggestion is to try to very slowly decrease the haldol (even over a couple of years) and see what happens. There is nothing left to replace it with, so this isn't sounding like a plan that has much chance of success (and it's not at all fun to imagine a couple more years of med change related instability), but I'll try it. 

She was pushing very hard this past weekend for M to be admitted, but we talked on Sunday night and she seems ok again with him remaining at home. 

 The past week has been difficult and disappointing. Caring for someone like M can be very isolating, so it's hard when situations come up that add to that feeling of isolation... that feeling of being on the other side of a glass wall from the rest of the world. So I did what I tend to do when things get tough... I worked. I planted two more apple trees in my little "mini-orchard". I now have four apple trees, one peach tree, and one cherry tree on the hill to the east of the house. I also planted a couple more lilacs, they are the first "new" plantings in my hedgerow area. Unfortunately we had a hard freeze just a couple of nights after I planted them and all the blooms, both on the new plants and on the lilac I planted a few years ago, froze. So no lilacs flowers for me this year... 

 I also cleaned out the barn and bought stall mats for the goat's stall, then I picked up all the stall mats and rearranged them around so they fit better. (Think super easy jigsaw puzzle, except the puzzle pieces are extremely heavy!)  I also cleaned the house and reorganized the classroom. What a job that was! I pulled out four big boxes of books and homeschool materials we don't use anymore. I'm giving some of it to my daughter and my niece says she can use the rest, so now I just need to get the boxes to them. 

 I used to have a sampler that said "A Creative Mess Is Better Than Tidy Idleness", and I do believe that to some extent... but the classroom was so creatively messy that we could hardly get school done! 

 Here are the after pictures... I don't have any before pictures, but imagine the bookcase full to overflowing and every horizontal space (except the floor and table) being piled high with books, manipulatives, crafts supplies, etc. It was a mess!


 School is going well... I think the spring sunshine, the tiny buds of the new leaves on the trees, and the birds singing right outside the classroom window have recharged all of us. We even did some school outside yesterday... it was just too beautiful to stay in the house! 

 I've also spent a fair amount of time lately stalking deer. I never get tired of watching them. The other evening I found a little bit of the herd down in our lake bed...


 I thought these two half-grown babies were very sweet...


 This doe was so busy eating that she didn't notice me until I was very close. Check out the body language... she's just a little perturbed about me interrupting her dinner, and trying to decide whether to dart away immediately or try to grab another bite or two!


 I love the light in this picture, the sun was low in the sky... just starting to go down.


So anyway, that's what we've been up to. I'm still working, literally, through my disappointment... But on the plus side, I have gotten a lot done... I just hope my energy holds long enough to get the gardens in, I should get the them ready for planting this week (I'll turn the kitchen garden by hand, dh will use the rototiller for the big garden) and start planting in another week to 10 days.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

the end of an era

Well, we've reached the end of an era. 

 After roughly 25 years of having a swing set or, more recently, a wooden play structure in our backyard... we now have neither. No more swings. No more slide. No more sandbox (well, I might make another sandbox for the grandkids...). No more giant play structure in my yard. I sold it yesterday to a lovely family from our homeschool group. 

 I'm not sure how I feel about that.... I think I'm grieving. 

 Just a head's up, this is going to be a sappy post. If you're looking for something inspiring, meaningful, or relevant in any way.... you should probably go read someone else's blog.  Because mine is going to be sappy and sentimental. 

 I saved for a long time, and shopped ever so carefully for that play structure... It was so perfect for us (it needed to have certain features, because it was used as part of M's occupational therapy when he was younger), and such a good deal, that I drove across town in a blizzard (well, maybe just a bad snow storm) to pay for it before someone else could buy it. And it's been a fixture at our house ever since. 

 You have no idea how many pictures of that play structure I have... (I had no idea until I started looking!) Here's R when she was about 3 (and the play structure was new)... swinging with her big sister. (Yes, the play structure almost totally filled the little backyard at our old house!)


 And after taking her to the Renaissance Festival, it was a handy place for her to practice her sword fighting.


 M, in the sandbox with friends, shoveling sand down his shirt. (he used to do that all the time... one of those weird sensory things I suppose)


 And R and her cousin (they are just days apart in age) being mommies in their house on  the top of the slide.


 The play structure survived our move to the country, and R still loved to swing...


 ....but sometimes it served double duty now, swing set and hitching post.


 And that first summer it shared the pasture with a swimming pool (but no animals)


 But by the second summer we had livestock and sometimes kids (children) played on it, and sometimes kids (kids) did.


 The grandkids had also discovered it by that time... (That's me playing in the sand with my grandson, J.... I still love the feel of sand!)


 We moved it out of the pasture to keep the goats from taking it over completely, and the deer decided they liked the grass growing around it.


 It's going to be strange to look outside and NOT see this huge thing out there...


 When B and D came to pick it up yesterday, it was fun to see their kids climbing all over it. They were so excited, I could tell they really liked it. 

I'm glad that it's gone to a good home... ..... but I still think I'm going to miss it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day

When I was a kid we used to make little baskets at school on the first day of May, then fill them with flowers and give them as May Day gifts.  

What a nice tradition... one that I wish I would have kept up with our kids.  

As I look out the window today though, this is what I see...


 It's kind of snowy out there...


 It doesn't look there is going to much flower picking going on today in my neighborhood!


 I'm not complaining... we really need the moisture... but a little spring would sure be nice before we blast right into summer!