Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cody's Lament Part II

... in which the deer don't take him seriously.

Despite planting his feet in his most ferocious stance, and pulling his deep, most threatening bark from the depths of his powerful chest...

... the deer just stands there, watching him and chewing grass. For a moment it's a stand off, Cody aka SBFD (Small But Fearless Defender) watching her and wondering how it's possible that she shows no fear. Is there something the matter with this deer? How else could she possibly fail to recognize the danger in the terrible canine predator that stands before her?

Finally she turns and wanders away. SBFD is glad she's finally realized whose territory she's trespassing on but wonders why she isn't bounding away in panic...


Later, after thinking about it, he decides to blame the groomer.


It's very hard to be taken seriously when the groomer insists on giving you a "puppy cut".


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Poor Murphy is just miserable. The lameness he had last week seemed to go away so I just wrote it off as some minor soreness from him stepping or twisting in a weird way.

Yesterday though he was seriously lame when I went out in the morning to feed...  putting almost no weight on his right front leg. I gave him more bute but this time it seemed to make no difference at all.

The vet finally made it out this afternoon and says Murphy has another hoof abcess.

So... $137.00 later Murphy has a special water filled "boot" to wear and special apple flavored bute to take... because he has started refusing to take the regular bute (and threw such a fit about the bute this morning that I was afraid he was going to hurt himself!).

And one trip to town later I have a brand new bag of grain in the barn (to try to hide the apple flavored bute in) and cherry jello (to add yet another layer of deliciousness to the grain in the hopes Murphy won't notice the bute). Luckily I already had applesauce (to further disguise the taste).

 I also have one hand that is dyed red from hand feeding samples of the grain/jello mixture (no bute yet) to Murphy and Tucker. Tucker has added cherry jello to his list of foods he loves... it seems to be right up there with bananas, his favorite treat. (R and I say he's a tropical donkey!)

As the vet was leaving, after telling me to make sure to pick up some cherry jello and to remember to start with just a tiny bit of bute in a good sized measure of grain/jello mixture, he finished by saying, "If you had a regular horse you could just dump the apple flavored bute onto the grain and he'd eat it right up... ".

Silly old horse... He's  a pain but we do love him.

And we love Tucker too of course, who had to get right in the middle of things when I was out taking pictures of Murphy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

medical stuff update

Sigh... I'm kind of bummed that I can actually write a whole update just on medical stuff.

I'd really love to write a whole update about interesting places we've gone, or famous people we've met.

But, alas, we aren't getting far from home these days and famous people never seem to stop by to visit...

.. so you're stuck with an update on medical stuff.


I really will try to think of something more interesting next time.

So... Joe is ok, and is back at work (the wonders of modern medicine!). They have adjusted his meds and added an additional medication he can take when he needs it. (Sorry if this sounds somewhat cryptic... if you know us well enough IRL to know what I'm talking about it will make sense, if you don't know us IRL... well... never mind.) I'm cautiously hopeful that he'll continue to do well. It's been a difficult, somewhat traumatic, summer with his health problems and we both could really use a smooth spell... even just a few months when he's consistently doing well enough would be wonderful.

As followup to a CT scan of his hips that was done last week (or maybe two weeks ago) M saw his new orthopedist again today. The orthopedist showed us what he was seeing on the CT scan (M also had an MRI done about a month ago) and between what the MRI and the CT scans showed it's looking like M needs another surgery on his hips. This surgery should be much easier than last time, it can be done arthroscopically and will not involve dislocating the hip. They will repair the labrum, if possible, remove any calcification and reshape the head of the femur. M will only be in the hospital for a couple of days, then on crutches for 2-3 weeks. Full recovery will probably take 4-6 months. Surgery is scheduled for Sept. 20th.

R is also looking at surgery in the not too distant future. She has suddenly developed a bunch of problems with her right foot. She had what we thought was a cyst on the top of her foot about a year ago. The pediatrician wasn't worried, said some people just get cysts, it will probably go away on it's own. It didn't go away though, and a few months ago another one showed up on the outside bottom of the same foot. The pediatrician sent us to a podiatrist who found all kind of odd things. Bunions for one thing. (I didn't even really know what they were until he explained it to me!) and old, healing stress fractures in two of her metatarsal bones. We have no idea where those came from... the podiatrist guessed them to be six months or so old, but we still can't think of how she did it! R had CT and MRI scans of her foot and it looks like the "old" lump is a soft tissue mass and needs to come out and be biopsied. The "new" lump might also be a soft tissue mass, but doesn't seem to be as worrisome as the old lump. R sees the podiatrist again next week and we'll see what he says in terms of scheduling surgery to remove one or both lumps.

Are you tired of medical stuff yet? I am... but here's a little more just in case you aren't.

Murphy came up lame yesterday morning and in true Murphy style absolutely refused to take the bute I tried to give him. spitting it out, throwing his head up, stamping his feet, trying to walk away, even just letting it lay on his tongue while I held his mouth closed and as soon as I let go... dropping the pill back out again. I crushed it and mixed it with applesauce, I broke it in half and stuffed it into his cheek with a mouthful of grass... but he was one step ahead of me the whole way. Luckily he seems better today so I'm hoping he just slipped or stepped funny and the little bit of bute I managed to get in him helped set things right again.

And finally... I'm sick. I have no voice. Don't try to call me because it's unlikely my voice will hold up long enough to talk to you.  When I was a little girl and got sick I frequently got a "sick present"... something to cheer me up or entertain me while I wasn't feeling good. I decided that being an adult is no reason to give up a wonderful tradition like getting a sick present when you are feeling bad.. So I bought myself "A Dog's Purpose" for my Nook, and have been happily losing myself in doggie adventures.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jumping on the bandwagon....

I read a few blogs that fairly regularly post writings from the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. After reading bits and pieces from the book here and there for several months, but not buying it or even being very interested in it, I finally broke down and bought it last spring. Since then, it's become a regular part of my early morning reading/prayer time...  (I think I resisted buying the book for so long because of the title... I think they could have come up with a much better title, for sure.)

Anyway... I thought I'd share some bits and pieces from the August 22 entry in the Jesus Calling book because it just seemed so pertinent to me, right now, today.

"Trust me and don't be afraid. I want you to view trials as exercises to develop your trust muscles."

Joe was back in the ER yesterday... I won't go into details (for the whole internet world!) but it was more of the same problems he had back in May.

"Refresh yourself in my Holy Presence, speak or sing praises to Me..."

At the hospital yesterday evening I prayed one of my favorite psalms (or parts of psalms), Psalm 59:16b-17 as I waited for all the tests to get done and results to get back... I do love those verses, I start my day with them each morning.

"...and my face will shine radiantly upon you."

Joe's home now, and this week is shaping up in involve a LOT of doctor appointments. (I've already got three on the calendar for M and R, and Joe is likely to have at least one or two as well!)

"Trust me and do not be afraid, for I am your strength, song and salvation."

I'm not sure how it's all going to get done this week, but it always does... It will be interesting to see how He pulls it off this time. (My "trust muscles" are going to be body builder buff by the end of this... ;) )

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A quote....

... I recently found, and love:
"Sometimes courage doesn't roar;

sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day that says

I will try again tomorrow."

I would like to make this into a plaque or something for M's room. He has so many struggles... the FASD, the schizophrenia, his malformed, painful, hips and his poorly working GI system... but he shows so much strength and spirit in not letting those things weigh him down to the point that he loses hope. He shows great courage each day...

This quote also makes me think of my friend D who has autism. He, with his family, is right now dealing with a community that doesn't understand him, and so is afraid of him. They are cruelly trying make him move from his neighborhood... I see so much courage in D and his family and they try to work through this situation.

And it makes me think of an older woman I recently met, who despite suffering a stroke five years ago, and having a left side that doesn't always work the way she'd like it to... is still brash and sassy... an upbeat person who cleans houses and does respite care for the developmentally disabled to support herself and her barn full of horses.

I think this quote is a good reminder that courage is not seen just in the BIG dramatic events, but is found every day in the quiet (sometimes sassy!) courage that is all around us.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This is not my new hobby....

I will not, any time soon, be weaving rush seats for fun and profit.

But... I've found it is do-able. It's not the easiest thing I've ever done, but it's not impossible.

About a year ago I ended up with the set of ladder back chairs that my folks bought back in the early 60's. They are good strong chairs, but very dirty and the rush seats were in rough shape... some not even usable. I couldn't keep them all just for sentimental reasons... six ladder back chairs is kind of a LARGE momento... but I couldn't just give them to Goodwill either.

So after pondering for a while I decided it was either redo the chairs and use them or let Goodwill have them. I don't keep things, especially big things, that we don't use. Part of my personal philosophy is not collecting things... not having more than we need and can use. Living sparely...

I started by removing the worn out rush and cleaning the chairs. Unfortunately the dirt was so old and so thick that cleaning off the dirt cleaned off the finish as well.

(this chair is half cleaned, the right side of the ladder back is still dirty, the left side is clean but missing parts of it's finish)

Hmm... what do to?

Paint them.

That's better!

Then I found a library book that showed how to weave rush seats and virtually memorized the eight pages of instructions...


...and ordered what seemed like an impossible amount of fiber rush.

Here's what the seat weaving process looks like. It's actually pretty cool, I think, to watch the seat come together.

It doesn't take much in the way of tools...


Since the chair seats aren't exactly square, the first thing I do is square them up with short pieces of weaving on the sides of the front.


Then I start weaving around the whole seat, tying new pieces of rush to the rush I'm working with as it starts to get too short.

After getting the rush tangled a few times I learned to keep it carefully wrapped up and held with a wire tie or rubber band at all times... so this doesn't happen.


As the weaving progress, I add triangular shaped pieces of cardboard into the pockets created by the weave. They are supposed to give the seat extra form and cushioning.


Here's one of the almost finished chairs... it still needs a coat or two of "stuff" before it's used. (I can't think of a good word for the stuff it needs... it's not a stain, but more a water/stain proofing mixture of polyurethane, linseed oil, and something else I'm forgetting right now.)

There are six chair in the set and I'm about half done. I can't wait to have them all done and start using them. (I'll have a bunch of pressed back chairs to get rid of then... anyone interested? ;) )

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Homeschool update...

Lots of changes going on in our homeschool lately.

Good changes...

I'm so excited about the school year! (Yes, after 11 years of homeschooling, I still get excited in the fall... the possibilities within each new curriculum book, the excitement of watching my children learn, and fun of learning new things myself.. I've never gotten tired of it.)

Anyway... starting this year M is only homeschooling part-time. He's almost 19 now, and plenty old enough for our county's school/work transition program. He actually could have started last year, but I really wanted another year of full-time homeschooling before I let him go... This transition program spends part of the day working on "life skills" (cooking, handling money, housekeeping kinds of things) and half the day at "work sites"... businesses in our community that have given permission for the kids to work (volunteer) for them. The kids go to the work sites on a schedule, Monday might be the library (for example), Tuesday Goodwill, etc. The kids work with the help and supervision of their teachers for a couple of hours then head back to their main building for dismissal. I'm really hoping the program is good enough to really teach M skills that he will be able to use as an adult. The life skills part of things is always helpful, although we've already done a lot of it here at home. I enrolled him in the program primarily for the job skills piece of it, and the connections to the community. (As in after 2+ years of volunteering at Goodwill or Hobby Lobby every week, might he have the skills for a real part time job there?) M is only doing a half day with the program right now, he just isn't able to manage a full day (9-2:30) and even the half day is wiping him out and making evenings and weekends difficult. I'm doing everything I possibly do to help him succeed in the program... It is only open to him through his 21st birthday and I don't know of any similar programs for adults over 21. So.. it feels like now or never.

The result of M being gone for 3 hours each day, besides my missing him terribly and appreciating him much more when he's home... is that I have a good two hours to do school with R. That is two UNINTERRUPTED hours... no checking on M, no dealing with his stomach pain, abdominal pain, headaches, hips, anger, or perseveration. Two QUIET hours to do school.

It feels like heaven to me... and to celebrate I totally revamped R's schooling. I put a bunch of stuff back on the shelf and went shopping for things that will hopefully really maximize the time R and I have together each day.

R hates Saxon math... she always has... but she learns from it. But she hates it. So it's back on the shelf and I'm using Teaching Textbooks supplemented with Life of Fred. I thought that seeing her math lessons taught on the computer (via CD) rather than taught by me might help in terms of her teen girl attitude. (If Mom says it, it must be wrong, stupid, etc.) I'm available for questions, and we sit together while she works, but her instruction is coming from some anonymous guy talking on the CD. Life of Fred is strange... but strangely enough she likes it. Go figure...

I put her regular journaling, writing, language arts work on the shelf and started a blog for R. Now she can write and journal online, and get feedback about what she's writing. (Again, not feedback from me!) She's learning a lot about editing, but I'm afraid I've created a spellcheck monster... Rather than thinking about how to spell a word, and taking a minute to puzzle it out she spell checks first. We're working on spell checking last. ;)

She's still doing Sequential Spelling, and is pursuing her love of Shakespeare on her own.

Science is a challenge. She is very good at life science... particularly the study of animals. It's mostly all knowledge she's picked up through life experience though, which is good... but leaves many gaps. And her earth science and physical science is sadly lacking. So I bought a Daily Science book and in addition to her working in it each day, I'm using it as a guide and will be supplementing it with activities, etc. from other sources.

In history we've gone back to Story of the World. We worked through about half of year one in 2009 but it eventually became just impossible to do with M. The format of it (we used the CD's and activity book) seemed to just bring out the worst in him. He would make faces and be disruptive while we listened to the chapter, then shut down when it was time to do the map work or activity from the book. R loved SOTW, but I didn't have the patience to deal with M's shenanigans while we worked. Remembering how much R liked SOTW, I decided it was the perfect time to revisit it. When we stopped (in 2009) we were reaching the end of the lessons on Ancient Civilizations. Since then R has, on her own, almost compulsively studied ancient Egypt, and after more than two years of ancient civilizations and their languages, customs, kings, pharaohs, etc. being a daily part of R's conversation I made an executive decision to skip(gasp!) large portions of least for now... and start with SOTW 3 which begins in about 1600 a.d. I bought the CD's and the activity book and was soooo excited to leave the ancient world behind, at least for this year... But within two minutes of starting the first chapter on the first CD, R's eyes glazed over and she started fidgeting and paying attention to everything but the lesson.  I knew what the problem was without even asking... the person reading on the CD was different than it is on SOTW 1 and 2. It's a man... and he reads slowly, and has some weird inflections when he talks. R really doesn't like the way he reads. So... since I already had all the SOTW 1 stuff around, I told R that if she would reread to review the work we'd already done in it, I would let her start again where we'd left off. She jumped at the chance... and I'm trying to resign myself to another 4-5 months of ancient civilizations.

I'm working Geography into other subjects (science and history) and will use some living books as well.

I think that's it for the academics... We'll be doing some cooking during school (so much easier with M not at home) and she wants to start volunteering with a therapeutic riding program just down the road from us.

M is still homeschooling part-time, focusing mostly on math and science. He just loves to learn and and I still just love to watch him learn, so we're just going to keep going...

All in all I think it will be a very good year.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Breakfast to go...

One of our tadpoles is now a fully formed toad. R did some research and found (now that we have a more easily identifiable toad, versus just tadpoles) that our tadpoles are spadefoot toad babies.

We had to figure out what to feed them, since we guessed goldfish food probably wouldn't be the right food for toads. Once again, R did more research (this time at Petsmart, where she knows virtually all the employees by name, and they know her!) and learned that fruit flies would make a good diet for our newly emerged little toad.

I couldn't believe R was telling me to pay real money for flies I'm usually trying to get rid of...

...but I did.

Our little toad (as yet unnamed) seems to be eating them...

... when they aren't riding around on his back!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


...lazily shimmering through a puffball R picked for me.



Life is good.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


...said R this afternoon, "I wish I had a stupid horse."

Murphy is not a stupid horse.

According to our vet, he's not even a "regular" horse. Every single time the vet is out for shots or whatever, he prefaces at least one sentence with "If you had a regular horse...". As in "If you had a regular horse it wouldn't take twice as much medicine to sedate him so we can float his teeth." and "If you had a regular horse, he wouldn't fight everything I'm (the vet) trying to do and everything wouldn't take so long and cost so much."

Murphy may not be regular, but he is one of a kind. He's very smart, but can also be as stupid as all horses tend to be. He sees himself as king of the pasture, needing nothing and nobody... But calls out in alarm when he can't find Tucker (who is probably behind the barn standing in his favorite spot of shade).  He opens gate latches with his mouth, which can get him into all kinds of trouble... and today he snuck through the front yard, tiptoeing around both a lawn mower and an old metal tricycle that were blocking his path, and somehow avoided being seen while doing it. (It's not easy to sneak when you are as tall as he is and weigh 1200 lbs!)

Once he'd snuck out through the little front yard gate he happily grazed while Tucker... who'd followed him, of course... waited anxiously in the front yard. (I can just imagine Tucker's thoughts... "You'd better come back... there is no fence out there... it might not be safe... you aren't supposed to be out there... YOU"D BETTER HURRY BACK BEFORE THEY FIND YOU THERE!)

Murphy didn't come back, but it didn't take long for R and I to notice he was gone and head out front to get him. Normally he is easy to catch... Easy as in you just walk up to him and he's caught. Unfortunately today he decided it was time to release the wild stallion that is hidden within that middle aged gelding body, and when R walked up to grab his halter he took off.

He was running, bucking... and tooting. (Apparently hay makes him gassy... so when he runs, he toots!) To make a long, hot, exhausting story short... we couldn't catch him... he ran all over the neighborhood. We followed him here and there (we ended up using the car... he was too fast to follow otherwise), jumping out of the car when we'd get close to him, running through the neighbor's yards trying to corner him somewhere. He thought he was king of the world for sure this afternoon. He ran and bucked and tooted from one end of the road to the other. Each time I thought I had him corralled somewhere he found a way to escape and take off running again.

We never did catch him, he finally just went home.

As soon as we got him back into the pasture, R and I collapsed in sweaty, dirty, worn out heaps and R voiced her opinion that sometimes it would be nice to have a stupid horse.

So I'm not feeling sorry for Murphy tonight... he's seriously put out because there is someone in his barn. R and her friend from next door are having a barn sleepover tonight. The year's hay hasn't been delivered yet, and the big empty (clean) barn is the perfect place for two girls to watch movies, eat popcorn and maybe even sleep a little!

Too bad Murphy... be happy you still have a stall in my barn. I was about ready to trade you for a flock of chickens  or a couple of goats today!

Edited to add:

Steve and Renee... thanks for the suggestion to use carabiners. I've tried carabiners but Murphy destroys them. Carabiners that are small enough to go through the gate latches (a normal sized carabiner) are small enough for him to destroy. He bites them... hard... and either breaks off the "moving" part of the carabiner, or bends it so badly that it's useless.

Here are two of the carabiners that Murphy has "modified". :)

I'm pretty sure this is the kind of thing the vet is thinking about when he says Murphy isn't a "regular" horse.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Barn Work x 2

It's been a busy week so far. Besides ranting about people using the word schizophrenic to describe things that aren't...

I've been spending a lot of time in the barn.

Both my own, and my neighbor's.

I'm farm sitting for my next door neighbor. She breeds alpacas...

They aren't hard to take care of... they are very quiet and docile and getting kicked is never a worry (as it is sometimes with donkeys!), but there is hay and grain to put out, and manure to scoop... just like at home.

My neighbor has four females, three with babies... and three males. R spends a lot of time there, and D is wonderful about letting R help and teaching her about alpacas. In fact R has been there for the birth of all three of this year's babies.

This is Piper... the oldest of this year's babies.

When I'm not up the hill at the neighbor's, I've been working in our barn.

It's time to order hay for the next year and some SERIOUS barn cleaning needed to be done first.

R numbered the pallets that cover the floor in the hay storage part of the barn (so we could remember where they went... why didn't we take the time to do that years ago?), then we picked them all up, cleaned the old hay out of them and sorted them into piles... good pallets, ones that need repair, and ones that need to be replaced. (The pallets would probably last forever if Murphy didn't occasionally sneak into the barn and step on them and break them!)

Then I worked under the hay loft raking up the old dirty hay, while R worked up in the hay loft sweeping it clean.

It's a dirty, dusty, job but has to be done before getting new hay delivered.

Here's where we stopped (to finish up later) the hay loft is clean, but there is a huge pile of dirty, unusable hay in the middle of the barn waiting for me to haul it out to the bottom of the gully area where I pulled out all the purple thistles... It will make good "mulch" there and there are enough seeds in it that with a bit of rain it should start sprouting and covering the area with grass. (Our hay is a mix of timothy and brome grasses.)

I'll probably order the hay today... that will give me a few days to repair and replace the pallets that need it, sweep up the dust, and lay them back down.

I do love having the year's hay delivered. Although it's a summer "event" it's also the first sign that fall and winter are on their way...something I'm really looking forward to this year. It's only August... but I've been yearning for crisp, cool fall weather lately. Come on fall... hurry up!

Monday, August 1, 2011

WHAT kind of day was it?*

I was doing a quick scan of the news online this evening when I came across this headline:

I had to click on the story, of course, just to see what the writer of this article thought constituted a "schizophrenic day" for stocks.

I know what a schizophrenic day looks like for people. I am intimately acquainted with them. M was diagnosed with schizophrenia almost 10 years ago. Which means I have approximately 3,600 "schizophrenic days" under my belt. I figure by now I'm an expert on the subject.

So as I clicked on the article I wondered what I would find...

Were the stocks delusional... believing perhaps that the U.S. and world economies were strong again or even just back somehow to where they were 11 years ago, and had started charging upwards in a bull market?

Perhaps the stocks were apathetic... not having the energy to go either up or down. Just stuck in one place with no energy or motivation to move at all.

Or were the stocks hallucinating... hearing voices trading them here and there, or telling them that they were worthless... that no one would ever want to buy them... they were good for nothing... and the bottom had dropped out of the market anyway?

Maybe the stocks were paranoid...frozen in fear or wild with panic, believing, irrationally, that their very existence was in grave danger... their value was draining away and they would be nothing but a painful memory by the end of the day.

Perhaps the stock's "schizophrenic day" involved bits and pieces of all these things, like M's "schizophrenic days" do.

But no... apparently the writer really had no idea of what a schizophrenic day looks like. He used the term as a quick (but inaccurate) way of describing a day in which the stocks went up and down. The article describes the stocks as taking a "wild ride"...

Hmmm... yes schizophrenia can be a wild ride... but in the interests of accuracy I think the headline would be more fitting if it read:
Stocks: A Bi-Polar Disorder Day

(*One of my pet peeves... referring to something as "schizophrenic" in a casual or inaccurate or disrespectful way. It's not like there is a shortage of perfectly good adjectives or anything... )


A couple of weeks ago, after d-a-y-s of rain, I started hearing an unfamiliar noise at night.  It started about 10:00 at lasted late into the night...

We are used to animal noises in the night... it's common to hear coyotes howling, the baby deer crying, the neighborhood livestock neighing, braying, moo-ing, crowing, trilling, baaa-ing, cackling and quacking. We even have a neighbor with a pig and if it was quiet enough I'm guessing we could hear his piggy grunting.

But this was a sound I couldn't remember hearing before... It took a few minutes before I realized it was frogs, and from the sounds of things LOTS of frogs!

Our gully used to be a small stream, and the dry lake bed just west of the house is... well.. a dry lake bed and used to be filled with water. But for decades now there hasn't been surface water within a couple of miles of us. So... no frogs.

Until now.

R and I went searching for them late one evening, but needless to say, couldn't find them. Luckily they found us...

They'd laid hundreds (thousands?) of eggs in a large puddle on our next door neighbor's land... a puddle that started drying up about the time the eggs hatched into tadpoles.

That's how we acquired a bucketful of tadpoles.

Being homeschoolers I was thrilled to have them... it looked like a wonderful review of metamorphosis. Thanks to plenty of milkweed in the gully, we've raised Monarch butterflies almost every year... but we've never raised any tadpoles.

We put together a small habitat for them and they seem to be doing quite well on goldfish food with some scraps of algae pellets.

I love seeing their tiny legs emerge... Our biggest one is definitely starting to look frog-like.


We are guessing they are western chorus frogs, but don't really know for sure.

R wants to keep them forever, of course...

...but once they start hopping they may have to relocate to a lovely stream that's not far away. (R may have to visit them there!)