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Zucchini time is here! Picked 3 large zucchinis this morning, along with a bag of snowpeas, felt like about 3 pounds and another 2-3 pounds of beans, purple, yellow and green. I re-tilled a section and planted more mesclun mix (classic and spicy-fire lettuce) and some more swiss chard, along with another batch of corn (what the heck, we could have an awesome fall like last year), turnips and cabbage. All in all, I am pleased with it. My potatoes are doing better than most around here and the basil is awesome since I transplanted it to pots on the patio.
Now I have to pick some of that to freeze as well as parsley and dig out the dehydrator to start drying some of it.
Motherhood or parenthood, certainly has its ups and downs. I had to be “mom the cheerleader” again tonight when I went to visit my boys at scout camp. Our youngest son is having some terrible homesickness going on and following last night’s phone call, tonight’s visit was not high on my list of favorite experiences. It is heartbreaking to see this little boy with tears in his eyes, actually streaming down his face, telling you that the only thing in the world he wants to do is come home and snuggle up with you. Dear god, I just wanted to cry. Instead, muster up “mom the cheerleader” who has to tell him to be brave, to stick it out that he is more than halfway done and that we are very proud of him and he has both his brothers there and lots of friends and friendly faces. Then, in true spirit, he attempted to be brave, at the end of the evening, gave me a hug and kiss and wandered off with tears in his eyes. OH MAN, talk about bumming. Then I had to get in the car and drive an hour plus home alone just thinking about that face. Geez, for all the wonderful ups to parenthood, this is definitely one of the bummers. “Mom the cheerleader” is most positively one of my least favorite mom roles, ’cause it usually entails me trying to talk one of them into doing something that I would rather not have to be a cheerleader about. They are growing up so fast and are not my little boys anymore, so it is heartbreaking to have to push aside those last remnants of little boy/mommy interaction when I know that they will very soon be gone forever from my life. All in the name of growing up…..is growing up all that great, anyway? Sometimes, I don’t think so myself. Hard to be a cheerleader about that.
BTW, just read in the online paper that there is some armed and dangerous felon on the loose nearby….great time to be alone in the house, don’t you think? Boy, if I stay up any later, I might not sleep at all tonight.
There is something to be said for country living and your blood pressure. There is absolutely no rushing around here even if you want to rush. You can only travel as fast as the cows and mind you, cows aren’t particularly concerned with speed. This morning I figured that I would “quickly” run down to the post office to drop off and pick up the mail. I was set on getting back and getting to work. Well as I turned the corner coming up my road, there were the cows. Well, to be a bit more precise, it was actually something akin to a parade of sorts, the cows (a whole lot of them), four kids, one bike, three dogs, one puppy, two men walking and one truck driving. All this to move some cows uphill into the pasture. And let me tell you, the cows move as fast as the cows want to move and not one bit faster. So needless to say, no matter what you have to do, phone calls, a meeting, an emergency, whatever it may be…you are only moving as fast as the cows. Who needs fancy blood pressure medication? All you need are some cows.
We were driving from NJ to Mass to pick up our oldest son from camp. He was attending a computer camp at Smith College which is put together by IDTech Camps. My friend sent me an email asking if I had heard that Randy Pausch had passed away. It was with tears in my eyes that I read the article. A few months ago, another friend had sent me a link to his reprised “last lecture” from Oprah’s show. Listening to that 10 or 15 minute lecture brought tears to my eyes. Gosh, this man, a couple years older than Tom and I, with three little children, was dying from pancreatic cancer and put together a lecture that makes anyone stop complaining about their life and start thinking about how lucky they are and what a blessing each and every day is because you get to spend it with the people around you. I did some poking around online and started reading this professor’s blog. It was truly inspirational how this man who literally had months to live rose above his own self loathing to be an advocate for research on the disease that was killing him and an inspiration for so many people. I only could hope that I have half that amount of strength and selflessness if I were in a similar situation. Tom bought his book, “The Last Lecture” for me and I am starting to read it. I am sure that it will be with a box of Kleenex by my side. An interesting behind the scenes with the WSJ writer who co-wrote the book is here.
I highly recommend listening to the entire lecture (approximately 75 minutes long) which is located online and linked to at the following page which is the article posted by Carnegie Mellon regarding his death.
For anyone who is interested, the blog which was taken over during his last days by a friend, is a true testament to the power of the human spirit. My heartfelt condolences to his wife and his three young children. May those children one day understand how truly selfless and inspirational their father was when others would have already fallen apart by the despair of their lot in life. I truly believe that his life expectancy (which exceeded his doctor’s expectations) was linked to his optimism.
Sometimes, one has to remember to slow down and savor life. In the rush of everyday life with a million and one things that all seem to need to be done yesterday it is admirable advice and not always easy to live by. For example, today we are both working and trying to get things together for a brief trip down to NJ. Veggies to collect from the garden to package up for my mom and inlaws, laundry to be done so we actually have clothes to wear and bags to pack. These excursions to NJ seem like a good idea when we plan them. But the closer it gets, and the reality of 90+ degrees heat and humidity (on a day when I was actually wearing a sweatshirt this morning because it was that cool), with the traffic and actually having to LEAVE here, makes it not seem like such a good idea the night before we leave. My friend came over to pick up her son who was here for a playdate and we got into a nice conversation which actually ended about 1/2 before everyone had to leave. Needless to say, dinner was not what was originally planned, but rather a “what can I throw together in 15 minutes” affair since the boys had a scout meeting at 7. In the middle of the chaos (geez, my life does involve a lot of chaos, doesn’t it?) of getting everyone fed and out the door, I thought about how nice it was to have that chat despite it throwing everything into a tailspin. Sometimes, life is not what is planned, but rather, what is unplanned and time with friends is always time well spent.
So, I have been doing some more research and the doctor mentioned the possible diagnosis of neurodermatis when she was referring me to the dermatologist. This is basically the definition courtesy of HealthAtoZ also referred to as lichen simplex chronicus (and it is a pain in the assicus).
Lichen simplex chronicus is a chronic inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) characterized by small, round itchy spots that thicken and become leathery as a result of scratching.
Also termed neurodermatis, lichen simplex chronicus is the result of chronic skin irritation. It occurs in 4-5 out of every thousand people. Initial irritation causes itching, and in turn, itching causes scratching. Scratching leads to further irritation, which damages the skin. The possibility of infection is greatly increased when the outer layer of protective skin is broken. Skin usually repairs itself quickly; however, in the case of lichen simplex chronicus, healing skin causes more itching and more scratching causes a thickening of the skin (lichen). The small skin patches are usually 1-10 in (2.54-25.4 cm) in diameter.
Well, could this be it? Well, seems like its a case of chicken and the egg for your skin. Itching causes scratching which causes more itching which causes more scratching and so forth….Yippy! That doesn’t solve my problem, it only makes me sound neurotic or OCD or both. I personally like to think I am none of those although I am sure that there are those out there that might disagree with me.
I am off to shower and do my bleach compress which really seemed to help last night. I just wish that I wasn’t so darn exhausted feeling. I really have to start taking my vitamins more regularly, I think that this is starting to beat the stuffing out of my system, and since I am anemic to begin with, I am sure blood cells working triple duty is not helping.
Hey Tom, a daily reminder to take my vitamins would be helpful, sweetie.
So, the frustration continues. My leg and now my arm are both flared up and have been for several weeks. They seem to be getting worse instead of better and I don’t think anyone understands how so very frustrating it is. I want to know what it is that is making my body react this way. We originally though some type of food allergy….had allergy testing done and that was not it. Then we thought it might be sulfites since wine and vinegar set me off particularly fiercely. Did my research and over the past six months have been doing an admirable job of attempting to exclude things with sulfites from my diet….no wine, no high vinegar, molasses, dried fruit, high fructose corn syrup (now, there’s one to give you a real challenge) and instead of getting better, it has actually gotten worse. It has been so red, raw and itchy these last few days that I really just want to cry. Last night we tried bleach compresses based upon an article that I read, which has offered some relief. Today’s trip to the doctor was particularly neutral. She agreed that it looks awful so much so that wearing shorts or capri pants almost inevitably leads to someone asking me “what’s up with your leg?” attractive, right? She agreed that it seems like more than eczema and sympathized with me that the meds I am taking right now are not working, but no real answers. I have blood work scheduled along with a trip to the dermatologist (which surprisingly is going to happen next month, rather than 3 months from now which is what happened the last time when I still lived in NJ). She strongly suggested a biopsy since “that really doesn’t look good” (no kidding- you should see how it feels).
So I am now on the hydrocortisone cream, the zyrtec, the antacid and Elidel. The saga continues…..
It has been a busy week. We had two extra boys, so that makes 5 for the whole week with one night when there were 6…. Too much testosterone in my house for me. Everyone was super good, no great tragedies or fighting and everyone left happy. Even though we left one son at camp in MA, we acquired another on the way home, so we are back to three.
I am looking forward to this week, I have a small break in the action for work, or at least I can take a day or two half-days and finish up getting the garden together. Things are perking up and we have had a day of rain, which is good, since all of last week there was no rain and a lot of watering to do.
We had our friends up this weekend with their daughters. Always a blast, we laughed, we relaxed, just had a really nice time. We took a trip with them to VINS which is the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and has some really cool birds that it rescues and rehabilitates and to the Quechee Gorge, it is called the Grand Canyon of the East. While I have not experienced the Grand Canyon of the West, I have seen pictures and this is beautiful but on a much, much smaller scale in a nice quaint New England sort of way. We had a picnic lunch and then proceeded to hike the 1/2 mile to the bottom (really Lou, the sign says .5 mile). We took a small bathroom detour and my friend Kirby, I and some of the kids wound up hiking more 3/4 of the mile just to get to the bathroom and then we had to basically start the 1/2 mile hike all over again. In any event, it was fun, the kids had a blast swimming at the bottom, the gorge is beautiful and it was fun to explore it again. My boys and I took the hike a couple summers ago. It is easy (except for that uphill part) and pretty neat.
18 pints and 12 half-pint jars or 4 gallons. That’s how much honey we processed and we were hardly neat with it, being our first foray into honey processing. We harvested the hive Saturday since the new bees were arriving. Saturday Tom spent the afternoon spinning and then Sunday we were sieving and filtering and yesterday, we jarred. Amazing how few people use honey, we tried giving a jar here and there to some friends and neighbors and a lot of people said “no thanks, we don’t use honey”. The bees will be devastated. More for us, I guess. I am psyched that I found a “Cooking with Honey” cookbook in the bookcase which “came with the house” and I might be able to put it to good use with all this honey.
We have the beeswax out by the hive getting cleaned by the bees so that I can use it to try my hand at beeswax candles. I feel so “Little House on the Prairie” but this is really cool!
We just got back last night from seeing our new niece, Emily in NJ. What a cutie! She is so tiny, I forget how tiny a newborn can be (but then again, none of my boys were ever that small). All the same, it was fun to actually have a trip where I didn’t have a ton of stuff to do but I could actually enjoy visiting.
As nice as it was, it was awful nice to come home.