I may chat about my books, what I'm writing or reading, or just general thoughts. You may read posts about my cats or just my crazy life in general. Comments are welcome, if anyone wants to interact with me. Maybe we can share war stories, whether it's writing related or just about life in general.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I run my own sweatshop



That’s right folks.  It’s my bonus room upstairs that doubles as a sewing and craft room.  I’ve been doing alterations up there in my spare time.  What spare time?  The thing of it is I try to keep the A/C off and use fans only.  I figure it will save on the electric bill and if we could manage as kids in the south with no A/C, I figured I could do it now.  Well, this is tougher than you think.  Usually by the end of the day, I can wring out my clothes.  I have a soaked towel I’ve been mopping my face and neck with and I can’t wait to hit the shower to cool off and take some aspirin for my splitting headache.

Still this is doable, although it takes me longer because I’m delirious from the heat.  Plus, it gives me extra spending money, eventually, once I get the items finished.




Here are some skirts I altered recently.  The polka dot strip is for insertion into a swimsuit top that’s a bit too low for my busty friend.

Occasionally, I sew something from scratch too, but it’s hard to stay up there all day without some kind of break.  The room is definitely more pleasant in the wintertime, but I can get so much more accomplished when hubby is out of town because I don’t have to keep his schedule for eating, sleeping and just hanging out, etc.  It’s hard to disappear upstairs for hours with a man in the house.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The poking and prodding has begun

Old woman from pitapixel.com


All laughing aside, this is what “welcome to Medicare” is like.  I haven’t decided if this is a good thing, or not, after everything I’ve been through so far.  But I guess maybe it’s the right thing to do - to give one a complete physical for free.  That’s right – something that is actually free these days, no co-pays or any other kind of pays.  Who would think that was even possible with the prices of things.

So, for those of you not eligible yet, this is what you’re in for. 

Once you’re signed up for Medicare, you have one month to schedule all your wellness visits.  This doesn’t mean all the appointments have to fall in that first month because some doctors and facilities are way out there when it comes to appointments. 

If you’re a female, these appointments include:
A mammogram
A pap smear
An EKG
A complete blood panel
A urinalysis
A Dexa scan (bone density test)
A colonoscopy

Of course, some of these things are given to men too with other things substituted, such as prostrate screening.  If anything comes back that needs further testing, then you’re sent for that. 

So far, I’ve completed everything on the list except the colonoscopy.  Oh joy!  I hate those things. 

My blood panel revealed I was very low in potassium so I had to get a prescription for that and have my blood tested again in a month.  I’ve stressed to my husband that bananas daily are important.  Unfortunately, he sees no importance in veggies or bananas.  Now I think I have realized why I’m so tired.  All this time, I thought I was wearing myself out by mopping up water in the house until the wee hours of the morning from the water heater incident, along with the heat that was draining my energy.

Then when I got to my Dexa scan on Monday, the doctor discovered that my vitamin D level wasn’t checked on my blood panel so I had to have another blood draw.  I hate needles too that leave bruises on my arms for a couple of weeks.  But I have to say the nurses I’ve had recently were better at their jobs.  Maybe they’ve taken practicing on those oranges seriously.

The Dexa scan revealed I’m in the danger zone for osteoporosis in my back, with my hips coming in closely behind.  And here I walk into things all the time in the winter and fall on my rear-end and haven’t even hurt myself on the rocks.  Maybe I was lucky when we’ve been tying up plants in the brutal wind.  Anyway, this result wasn’t exactly a surprise to me.  My mother has osteoporosis so I figure all of us are candidates down the road.  One thing you can’t run from is old age.  Now I’m waiting to see if the medication he wants to give me to reverse the damage is Medicare approved.

Then of course, there’s always the colonoscopy to look forward to…

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Check this out



The desolate harsh atmosphere of the desert makes it challenging for animals, plants and people to survive.  Unless the species is native to the environment, it doesn’t last long and struggles through its life.



 Plumeria bloom stem

Flowers developing

 
Most of my plants I moved with me from southern California died long ago.  But I still have, “Lovely,” the plumeria I’ve had for twenty-plus years.  She struggles here too but I always move her to the garage in the winter months and bring her to a protected place on the patio once the temperatures reach above forty.  Francis and Lovely are the only two plants I have left from my move eleven years ago, aside from my Sego palms, which struggle every year, but usually battle back.  They’re hardier so Lovely and Francis take more care and keep each other company.



 Mama Palm


These are the children
 
The Sego’s are too heavy to move so they are wrapped in layers of old bedding and burlap in hopes they can withstand the extended freezing conditions of winter.  However, this year poor Mama Palm is really struggling and I hope she doesn’t give up.  Her children are doing well, but she’s over forty years old and hasn’t grown one new shoot this year.  I’ve been coaxing her all summer, but so far to no avail.  (Yes, I talk to my plants all the time.)  She’s sending up shoots from her roots as she does every year.  Perhaps she’s old and is nearing the end of her lifespan.  I don’t really know.

The first flower is open

Lovely hasn’t graced me with a bloom stem in a couple of years, but this year she’s gone to work and has one stem going that I’ve been photographing over the last few weeks.  I hope this is only the beginning of more.  A couple of years she had them on all her branches.  It was breathtaking and like stepping onto the isle of Hawaii to look at her as the fragrance carried me away.



 This is Francis
 
Hubby doesn’t know it yet, but I’m not leaving this plant or Francis behind when we move from here.

This crepe myrtle tree is struggling

The sage thrives here.  This bush always needs cutting back but gets loaded with lavender blooms about three times a year.


Other than that, much is going on here as my husband is still handling things in Oregon.  I expect him to be back by the end of the month to take a breather before going back in the fall when it’s cooler to clean out the garage.

The water issue seems to be resolved.  Do I dare say that aloud?  I’ve done a lot of cleaning up, washing and generally wearing myself out.  Along with that, I’ve changed TV carriers and had many appointments for the “welcome to Medicare” program all new people are entitled to once they become eligible.  This has been quite interesting and I’ll post more about that next time.

We did have an unexpected rainstorm, which ventured this way from Arizona yesterday.  It was actually in the seventies in July!  What a nice break.  My lawn has decided to sprout a bit of new grass in random spots.  I don’t know if it will ever recover completely.  It looks burned to a crisp despite all the watering we’ve done, along with putting on the treatment the local nursery advised.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Waiting with baited breath



Birds hit our large windows all the time.  Lately they’ve bounced right off and flew away.  When we first moved here, I buried many birds in the backyard.  No fun at a hundred degrees.



 She's stunned after fluttering around in a circle flapping her wings.
To my horror, a female oriole hit the window the other day.  I was shocked and crossed my fingers she would be okay as I watched her flopping around trying to get her bearings.  I didn’t want to have to bury an oriole.  We don’t have that many and they’re so pretty.

This one is scary.  I didn't know what was happening.

She sat on the patio the longest time.  I was waiting for her to keel over because I thought something was probably broken.  I couldn’t take my eyes off her and got a few pics of her stunned state.



 Improving a tiny bit
Finally, I felt such a relief when she took off for the tree before flying home where she nests a few houses away.  Later a group of females came back to drink from the feeder.  I think she was probably with them, but it’s hard to know since they all look alike.  I hold the belief she was there and feasting after her ordeal.

Back on the feeder

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Déjà vu



Our hot water heater

Well the water problems continue here in the desert.  The plumber has been here twice so far.  We have had an expansion tank installed, the over flow valve on the water heater replaced, as well as the pressure regulator coming into the house.  Last night I found myself mopping up water for another hour and a half before I decided to cut the water off to the house again.  I called the plumber to leave a message at 9 PM and to my surprise, I actually was able to talk to him, and explain my recent issues.  He told me to keep the water off and he’d be over today (Tues) to look at the situation.  He told me it was safe to take a shower and then to turn the water back off.  After the second mopping episode, I decided against that and went to a girlfriend at midnight to take a shower because I had an appointment today.  Wet wipes can only handle the situation so far and for so long when it’s as hot as it gets here.



 This is the puddle in the mechanical room tonight
 
I had visions of having to stay up until three AM mopping up an endless supply of water like the one I did on Sunday night.  I simply couldn’t do that again.  I was wiped out.  It seems as if all I’ve done since last Friday is mop up water and dip water from buckets for washing hands and watering plants.  This house is going to need a serious cleaning once all this is resolved.  I have shop towels all over the place hanging to dry, sinks full of buckets with water and newspaper and towels on the floor.  It’s a disaster area in here.



 This is the shop fan that's getting a workout

Now the determination is we need a new water heater. But the laws have changed and we’d need an expansion tank anyway these days.  However, he’ll credit us for the parts we won’t be using now and for his labor on the past two visits, so I guess he’s trying to be fair about the whole mess.  And I know he has to make a living.  I just want this to be over with now.  My back is killing me today from hauling around buckets of wet towels to be wrung in the sink.  And I’ve vacuumed up about three inches of water in the master bedroom closet with the wet and dry vac.  I have a shop fan in there now that sounds like an airplane winding up for take off. 

I hope we’ve fixed this issue after tomorrow.  I may be ready to commit harry carry otherwise.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thorns are wicked



I’m not talking about roses.  The locust trees are full of thorns.  We planted seven of them around our patio because they’re fast growers, have gorgeous flowers in the spring and will make nice shade from the desert heat.  Heaven knows we could use that here!

My volunteer white locust tree.  It popped up last year.  You can see how much it's grown.

The last three or four years, we’ve had three more “volunteer trees” that have sprouted up.  The thing about the volunteers is that the flowers are white, unlike the purple hybrids we have, and the thorns are bigger and more wicked than the others are.  I read up on these trees and the original is a white tree, so there must be enough genetics to produce the white blooming trees, even though they came from the purple ones.  Nature is always a surprise.

The white trees are hardier than their counterparts are and much thornier.  They’re also stronger and grow quicker.  All that is fine, but it never fails that they need tending to when the wind is blowing at gale force.  A stake will brake or the ties securing the tree to the stake will give way.  This has happened more times than I can count. 


You can see how big and sharp these thorns are.  Sorry my pics are a bit blurred.

We’re trying to take good care of these trees so don’t want them to break off.  We rush out and try to secure them while barely able to keep our feet planted on the ground in the process.  Well since I’m on my own for a while, I’ve been out to tackle this same tree twice already.  There’s no way against being impaled because it’s impossible to grab the trunk or branches anywhere there isn’t a thorn waiting for your soft skin.

When we lived in California, we had a great scrap pile.  I could find anything I wanted there for any job that would arise.  Not so here.  I have to get very creative with my fixes.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve been through a small war with this tree twice already.  I don’t have the proper things in stock in the garage.  I do the best I can.  I fear now the stake will be going next.  It’s very loose and I don’t have the strength to pound it further into the soil or to replace it.



 This is my temporary fix to keep the stake in place for now
 
It took all my strength to tie wire and rubber around it a few days ago came loose, so I found a different one to put on it today.  I don’t know how long it will last.  I need three hands, so I use my teeth to grab one end of the tie, so I can use my hands for the other end and to push the thickening trunk into place.  I currently have the stake surrounded by cement blocks and rocks as a temporary fix.  I’ll have to look into getting some help to fix it up properly and hope it can endure the onslaught of wind until then.

Things crop up on a daily basis around here, so my day is rearranged all the time and seldom goes how I think it will once I get out of bed.  Meanwhile, I’ve stocked up on hydrogen peroxide and bandages.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I’m not cut out to take pics of fireworks



Getting a good fireworks photo is harder than it looks.  I had a quiet day at home with the cats on the fourth and I was determined to try again to get a good pic of the fireworks I can see from my patio. 

I made sure my camera battery was charged and drug out my camera manual to see how to set it for fireworks.  I was almost ready to give it a whirl when one of my sisters called.  As we were talking, some older neighbor kids climbed the high bluff in the desert behind my house and began shooting off bottle rockets.  There are snakes back there, not to mention the brush is dry and there’s a lot of it.  Luckily, nothing went up in flames.  Kids do this every July 4 and New Years Eve. 

When we lived in California, we went to a friend’s house once for a cookout on the fourth.  This grown man decided to hike down the hill to set off fireworks he bought from the stand in town.  He lived on a bluff behind a shopping center.  Well you guessed it, he started a brush fire, which set all of us in motion rushing down the hill with buckets and a garden hose, which wasn’t quite long enough.  People never think things like this will happen to them.


This is pitiful, but better than nothing

I did go out on my patio later and stayed out there an hour experimenting and taking lots of pictures.  It was a balmy summer evening, but no mosquitoes here like in humid climates.  That’s one thing to feel blessed about when it comes to desert living. 

When I downloaded my photos the next day, it was no surprise to find most of them were duds and I only got two halfway okay pics out of the deal.  I think this takes practice, but where do you practice a thing like this when you only get one shot at it every six months?  It’s all in the timing of each shot because I had no idea what I was pointing the camera at, or when to snap the picture.  The viewfinder was pitch black.  I guess under the circumstances I did well.

One thing I did learn was that there is much more to using my camera than I usually use.  It’s a Canon point-and-shoot and I love it, but I’m always glad to learn new things.  It only took me about six or seven years to discover all this new info because I really don’t have the time to read the camera book. 



 This one isn't much better, but I tried
 
Since my husband’s been gone, I’ve been multitasking and doing some of this stuff while I eat a salad for dinner.  I may as well try to accomplish something while I stuff my face and it doesn’t matter if it takes me two hours to finish my meal.

He’s been gone a week already and that sure did fly by.  Today’s his birthday so he met up with some childhood friends and they had breakfast.  He’s overwhelmed with all the stuff on his “to do” list, but is making his way through it.

The water situation here is under control for now.  I keep my eye on it though.  The plumber said it’s possible the water heater could be cracked on the inside liner, but he recommended we wait, get a pressure gauge to put on it, and observe the situation for anything unusual.  So far, everything is fine, which is good because water heaters aren’t cheap.  He thinks the water heater got a burst of pressure and the emergency valve blew and flooded the mechanical room.  He can’t explain why water got into the closet because there’s a room between the two and that room was dry as a bone.  One of life’s mysteries yet unsolved.

I’ve been up to other things too and will save that for another post.