Wednesday, October 26, 2011

early morning out the window musings...

Icicles are hanging from the gutter just outside the window, and the sky and ground are white.

The snow isn't terribly deep yet and the pastures still have islands of last summer's golden grass standing tall in the midst of the sea of snow.

The ponderosas on the north hill look like sentries - their silhouettes strong and stark against the white sky.

The pastures seem uncharacteristically empty... the horses I usually can see are staying in their stalls or sheds during this first blast of winter cold.

From my window view of the earth it seems frozen, both in temperature and movement. Only an occasional bird flies by to remind me that the land still teems with life... but that life, like me, is staying close and warm in their nest, burrow, bush, tunnel, barn, or den.

The snow has started again now... it's a white day.

(Bucks wandering through the front yard a little later in the morning...)

Update to my "dilemma" post: Thank you so much for all the feedback and good suggestions. The girl who cleaned denied ever seeing the jar of money and it appears the agency that hired her is standing behind her in that. I've filed a report with the sheriff's office and a complaint with the county agency that provides M's SLS services. Now there is nothing else to be done except find a new service provider...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

a dilemma... looking for advice

It's been awhile since I've posted... I'd like to say I've been too busy doing something incredibly worthwhile to be spending time on the computer... but the reality is I've been kind of flitting from project to project and haven't had much energy for any of them.

We did have our pumpkin give-away this past week, and gave away probably 25 pumpkins... I still have a few left so if you know me IRL and would like a pumpkin (or another pumpkin!) let me know!

I mostly posting now because I have a dilemma, a situation has come up that I've never had to deal with before...

Here's the background:

M receives SLS (supported living services) through our county CCB (community center board). He's very lucky to get it... because of huge funding issues, when people become eligible for SLS (upon turning 18) they generally go on a VERY long wait list. It is years, decades, before they reach the top of the list and start receiving services. Because of the severity of M's disabilities though, he was moved to the top of the list when he turned 18. SLS doesn't really get us a whole lot, we don't use the day program they'd pay for, for example... we're pretty used to doing things ourselves. It's an important safety net though for M... if something happened to me, SLS is already in place to provide some of the support I would no longer be able to provide.

To keep M's SLS we have to use at least one SLS service each month. M's plan includes hippotherapy, respite, and even a few hours of housecleaning (of the areas M uses) each month. M hasn't been able to do hippotherapy lately because of his hip, and he's been having trouble with the respite provider, so to keep his SLS I've been having a local agency (that works with the CCB) do a cleaning each month.

Honestly, I hate having someone in to clean... but I can't chance losing M's SLS. Once it was gone it could be years before he'd get it back.

So... on Tuesday a girl from RT (the agency that contracts with the CCB to provide this service) came to clean. I told and showed her what I needed done and let her go. R was gone shopping with E (dd#1), and M and I did school up in the classroom while the cleaner worked in the main part of the house. She was in the kitchen dusting up high at one point when I came out, and her big cleaning supply bin was sitting on the kitchen counter under the east window. I went back into the classroom and shortly after she came in and said she was done. She still had 90 minutes left of the time she was contracted to be here, but she insisted that she's "a fast cleaner" and everything was done. So I thanked her and she left.

I came out later and found that some of the things I'd asked her to do, hadn't been done... but I didn't think much of it because the last girl who had cleaned had also "missed" a lot.

The next day (yesterday) I was doing laundry and found some change in the washer... I brought it upstairs and went out to the kitchen to put it in the change jar the kids and I keep on the kitchen counter. It's a cool little thing I got to be a learning tool with the kids (especially R). It's a plastic jar with an electronic slotted lid that keeps track of how much change is in the jar, and each time you put a coin in a readout on the lid tells the value of the coin and the current total for the entire jar. Anyway... I went to put the coin in and the jar was gone.

I asked Joe if he'd moved the jar (something that's hugely unlikely because it's been just the kids and my little project) and he said of course not. It always sat on the kitchen countertop in the corner under the east window... but I looked in the kitchen cabinets, on the frig, IN the frig, anywhere in the kitchen I thought the girl who cleaned might have put it.

It's not here, and nothing else on the counter was moved or put away.

And the only non-family person who has been in the house was the girl who cleaned.

I called the agency who sent her and said the jar was missing and if she put it someplace she needed to let me know where it was. They finally called me back at 9:15 last night and said they hadn't been able to reach her yet but would keep trying. I told them if the jar was not somewhere in my home, if there wasn't a reasonable explanation for where it ended up, I would be calling the police this morning. There wasn't a lot of money in the jar ($60.+) but I'm wondering now, if she took the jar what else she might have taken? (Luckily, we don't have much that worth anything! ;)

Another worry is that a paper I'd received in the mail that day, about M's benefits, was laying on the kitchen table and it had both his social security number and full name on it. Had she written down that information down and taken them too? M's legally an adult now, now much trouble could someone cause misusing his SS#?

On the other hand though... it doesn't make sense. Why steal a jar of change... It's sure to be missed. Why jeopardize your job and your life for a plastic jar of change?

But there is no where else it could be. It sat on the counter because it was just a little too tall to fit anywhere else... And I wouldn't have moved it anywhere without thinking because it had gotten SO heavy, and I got a nasty cut on the back of my hand on Monday and was primarily one-handed for the early part of the week. I couldn't physically have moved it one-handed. I know M and R didn't take it... they don't steal. I know stealing often seems to go with FASD, but neither M and R EVER steal. (If M wants something that's not his, he just asks for it! :) And because of M's need for close supervision, we spend most of our time in the main part of the house... so even if one of them did suddenly try something completely out of character... there just wasn't the opportunity.

We've been gone to town a couple of times this week, but the dogs have been in the house and I can't imagine anyone going past three wildly barking dogs (with Emmaon top of them "smiling" and sneezing), through the house to the kitchen, and taking only a jar of change.

None of this makes sense.

It's almost morning and I'm trying to decide what to do... Call the police? Let it go? (The agency has already said they would repay anything missing) The girl who cleaned was young, probably early 20's and has a young child... If she took it, how much must she need the money? If she took it she must need it more than we do...

Maybe I should skip calling the police and let the only consequence to her be the problems she will have at work... Sixty dollars isn't enough to possibly mess up some one's life for...

But if there are problems later in terms of M's SS#, maybe I need to have the documentation of a police report that his personal information might have been compromised?

Aghhhhh! What to do...

I'd welcome opinions... What would you do?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A nice surprise and a big thank you!

I got a nice surprise in my mailbox this afternoon... mixed in with the bills and ads was the October/November issue of Mary Janes Farm Magazine. At first I assumed the mailman had, once again, left someone else's mail in my mailbox (and left my mail who-knows-where!) but no... it's addressed to me.

What a nice surprise! Thank you to whoever subscribed me... I can already tell it's going to be a favorite.

R and I looked through the magazine quickly (while she was doing school) and have already found a recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Warm-Up that sounded so good I've got a pumpkin already on the stove cooking so we can give it a try now and, if it's as good as it sounds, add it to our Thanksgiving menu.

Here's the recipe (so you don't have to strain your eyes trying to read it from the photo!)...

Spicy Pumpkin Warm-Up

2 pints whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup canned pumpkin (we'll use our own pumpkin, not canned)

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp vanilla

Garnish: whipped cream, additional pumpkin pie spice

Combine cream and sugar in saucepan over medium heat; stir until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in pumpkin until well blended; add pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until mixture is warm. Pouor into mugs and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of spice. Serves 4-6.


No more time to write...gotta go finish dinner now. :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011


... today...

You gotta love Colorado weather. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

easy raised beds

I do love the little kitchen garden I put in the first year we lived here. It's just off the back porch and it's small, but it does hold lots of good things. This year I grew tomatoes, peppers, carrots, lettuce (three kinds), onions, scallions, green beans, rhubarb and garlic. I also have a few herbs that grow out there too (mint, cilantro, chives, rosemary). This little garden runs into the "remembrance" garden I put in last spring on the south end of the kitchen. The gardens are "L" shaped, with the kitchen garden taking up the smaller side of the L, and the remembrance garden on the larger side.

  (Here's the garden plan I worked from last spring when I put in the remembrance garden.)

Anyway... I was out on the back porch the other day pondering the kitchen garden and thinking how nice it would be to grow some strawberries. I have seven fruit trees planted on the east hill in the back yard, and raspberries and blackberries growing down the hill on the north... but no strawberries. The dogs have free run of the back yard so planting strawberries has seemed like a pointless project... since as soon as the berries ripened, the dogs would eat them. Planting them outside of the back yard would be even more pointless, as the deer would eat them the minute they discovered the tasty treat I'd planted for them!

So I started thinking about raised beds... It would be nice to have some lovely wooden raised beds, maybe on the east side of the kitchen garden... where I've been meaning all summer to put in a nice garden fence but have never gotten around to it. It would be hard for me to make a raised bed from wood though... I never use the table saw, and there is no other good way to cut the wood. Hmm... what to do? As I pondered I looked absentmindedly out across the land to the east and my eyes fell on the old metal horse trough down by my neighbor's barn. Suddenly I saw that beat-up old trough in a different way... an old metal trough would make a lovely, and easy, raised bed!

It only took a couple of days searching on Craigslist to find a couple of old metal troughs.

They are each 8' long and approximately 2' high and wide. The kids and I drove up north to get them and then I wrestled them off the truck through the yard and into place. It was a bit of work to get the one I put by the back porch level, but it's done now and they are ready now for some rock in the bottom (for drainage and so they don't need as much dirt to fill them), soil, and planting in the spring.

(This is the view from the east looking back towards the house... I just took this picture, isn't the sky a brilliant blue?)

I'm pretty happy with my new raised beds... and can hardly wait to see them filled with strawberry plants!

M's hip is healing well (thank you so much to those who've sent cards!!) and little by little we are making progress back towards "normal". First we put away the big ice pack machine, then the walker went back out to the barn, and a few days later the raised toilet seat made the same trip. He's down to one crutch now and should be walking with no crutches next week. His hip has made an incredibly fast recovery! Unfortunately, his GI system is still pretty shut down. The days are hard... trying to figure out what he can eat (and all of us being so tired of the few things that don't make him sick!) and dealing with his anger and upset over his limited diet. He's destabilized a bit too, which isn't helping things any. I've registered a formal complaint with the Patient Reps. at Children's Hospital over the GI department not doing the consult M's surgeon requested, and the Behavioral Sciences department also not following through on the support he was supposed to receive while inpatient. We'll see where it goes...

Monday, October 3, 2011

A woman's got to do...

... what a woman's got to do.

(And aren't I full of cliche's lately?)

M is still struggling with GI motility issues. He hasn't vomited in about 48 hours, which is good, wonderful... but I hesitate to assume it's because his GI tract is getting back to normal. It would be fantastic if that were the case, but I'm thinking it might also (instead?) have to do with how carefully I'm managing what, how and when he's eating. He's still getting only small portion sizes of super easy to digest foods... no red meat, very little dairy (except for yogurt), but heavy on fruit, veggies and pasta... everything fairly bland and no or very low fat. I'm harping at him to eat slowly, and chew each tiny bite many times (rather than his normal chew twice and gulp it down routine). I've moved dinner time a couple hours earlier than usual, to give his belly time to settle after eating and before laying down for bed... and dinner itself is especially small. M's getting his bigger meal (which is still pretty small) at midday now. I'm also making sure he gets in as much walking (with his crutch) as possible each afternoon. Needless to say M isn't thrilled with the changes I've made. He wants to eat BIG, to go out to eat, to have a hamburger or a burrito, to gulp down a soda.

Poor kid... he's hungry!

And so am I. When M is on a restricted diet, my diet is restricted too. He would NOT go for me eating a regular meal while he gets a dish of yogurt... and honestly, it's easier not to eat than deal with him watching every morsel of food that goes into my mouth, adding to his constant anger about food and eating. I noticed the other day that I've lost a few pounds since M's surgery, so I've decided it's time to take action. You know, a woman's got to do...

So as soon as M was asleep tonight, I pulled this out of the freezer and did a quick defrost in the microwave.

It's a Krispy Kreme donut, leftover from my grandson's birthday party last week.

It's going to practically melt in my mouth.

It's not low fat. ;)

And it is not on M's get-your-gut-moving-avoid-impaction diet so I'm going to eat it quickly and quietly and immediately load the plate into the dishwasher to hide any evidence of what I've done.

Mmmm.... I do love Krispy Kreme donuts.

I could make a habit of this...