Category Archives: Challenges

So Lucky

Williams Sonoma Raised Bed Planter – $179.00 plus shipping.

This is typical of what is called a “raised bed planter.”  It’s wonderful because you don’t have to worry about building up your soil or heavy duty weeding as you do in typical gardens. You can grow a good amount in a much smaller space, and it’s up from the ground. This is a nicely made one offered by Williams Sonoma.

When we first started square foot garden, this is what we did. We had two rows of raised bed planting areas –  The thing is, I still had to either bend over double to plant, weed, and harvest things from this. It was good, but it didn’t go far enough.  I’m old and I can’t do a lot of kneeling or bending over double anymore.


We decided, when the wood was beginning to deteriorate, that we could do better.


When we decided to break down what we had and redo it, we made metal table-like supports for boxes to ‘sit’ in. They are at about chest level on me, comfortable to stand up and be able to reach any side of the boxes with an easy reach. I have six 4’x4’x8″ wooden boxes on my supports, with hoses stretched down each row of three boxes for automatic timed irrigation. I can spray weed killer under the boxes or around the perimeter of the whole garden without bothering my veggies.

I stretch string across the wooden boxes to create 1 foot planting areas. Then I can plant according to the advice of Mel (the square foot gardening expert), either one plant in a square (cauliflower, broccoli, etc.), 4 plants in a square (lettuce, spinach, etc.), 9 plants in a square (carrots), or 16 plants in a square (radishes.)

I can plant standing up or sitting on a tall stool. I can pull weeds or harvest without kneeling or bending over double. The Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, and as many different kinds of compost as you can find) has all the nutrients needed for the plants, replenished when you harvest all of a plant when you add a bit more. The soil’s consistency is such that pulling weeds is easy. The planting plan makes it easy for a beginning gardener like me to see what is a ‘good plant ‘vs a ‘weed.’

I’m really lucky that my husband spoils me rotten, figuring out how to tackle things like building the square foot garden in the first place, then improving it when we needed to pull up what we had done after several years. We also built the new greenhouse recently so that I can hopefully grow my own transplants, rather than having to depend on what is sold in stores locally. I’m hoping I can get a jump on the spring season, plus have more transplants growing in the greenhouse, ready to plant in the garden at the proper time.

Trying to grow some of our own veggies, plus flowers around the yard, is one of my favorite things. There is never enough time or energy – or cooperating weather – to do all I’d like to do. :0)

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Filed under Arkansas, Challenges, Changes, Greenwood, Lewis projects, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

It’s Up to YOU

To me, this is NOT a Pollyanna-ish saying. It’s not that you simply paste a happy smile on your face and just decide to be happy (though sometimes this is a good technique). It’s an ongoing exercise in trying to control how you react to what happens around you. It’s taking bad things, doing what is in your control to do about them, and then stubbornly trying to see the bright side. You can choose to get mired in the fear, grief, and anger, or you can deliberately choose to get beyond those feelings, channeling them into something more positive, more life-giving.

I wasted a lot of time worrying. Usually I worried about things over which I had absolutely no control. I’m gradually making progress in recognizing old ruts and choosing NOT to fall into them again. If it’s at night, I get up, go downstairs and read to distract my worrisome thoughts that seem to spool in my head, playing over and over again with no solutions possible. The distracting myself allows me to let go – even just for a while – and focus on other things. During the day I get up and get involved in an activity that will take all of my attention.

When we lost our two-month old daughter to SIDS many years ago, my husband and I both seriously considered suicide. Our hearts and guts had been ripped out, and we couldn’t see any way we could go on. We looked at our two-year-old son, though, and realized how selfish we were being. He needed us. My husband needed me. Minute by minute we consciously decided that we would give everything we had left to the ones we loved. We decided to try to help each other work through the pain and find reasons to reach out to each other and our son and become stronger together. We chose not to allow this horrible thing to ruin the rest of our lives.

I consciously look for reasons to be happy. To be honest, I’m truly surrounded by wonderful things. I’m continually finding sights, sounds, and activities that make me happy. I’m working every day to live in the NOW – to appreciate all I have. I rejoice that I have the freedom to decide how I’m going to spend my day. I’m getting better at controlling what and who I allow to come into my life.  I’m getting better at deciding how I will react to things I can’t control, but must deal with. Every morning I choose to MAKE it a good day.


Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Encouragement

The Eyes Have It

I’ll leave shortly to drive to Fort Smith for my follow-up eye exam. It’s been a week since my husband took me to the E.R. because of pain and irritation in my right eye. The diagnosis was, “Wow. You’ve really scratched up your eye.” The only thing I can think of for a cause was the last session of leaf mulching. The mulcher whirls leaves around, chewing them up and dropping them into the 39 gallon trash bag underneath. In the process, some leaf pieces, twigs, branches, etc., come flying out of the top. I wore my wrap-around sun glasses for protection from that. When I finish working, though, I’m covered with a fine ‘dust’ from the mulching, from head to toe. I can imagine that some of that managed to get into my eye, moving around and causing the scratching. Because of that, I now wear some pretty serious goggles type eye protection whenever I’m even distributing the mulch.

My husband has been putting an eyedrop and a ribbon of goo into my eye 4 times a day since last Monday.  Both eyes still feel gritty when it’s time for another treatment, and I’m having to blink a lot because of blurriness. Since both eyes are irritated, I’m suspecting I might be having an allergic reaction to something, as well as dry eye from the bad drought we’ve been having for the past 3 months.

The good doctor will tell me how I’m doing this morning. I’m hoping he can recommend something that will soothe my eyes a bit.

Meanwhile, I hope you’re having a happy day. I’ll talk to you again later. :0)


Filed under Challenges, Health Alert

Eye Update

mad eye moody-harry

Just got back from seeing one of the docs who helped me with my cataract surgery.

He said, “Wow. You sure scratched your eye all up. I’ll bet that hurts.”

The tech, though, had put numbing drops in my eyes before she did all the preliminary testing, so I was able to tell him that I felt better now than I had since Monday evening.

He didn’t find anything in my eye, or any sign of any other problems. Whew. We decided that it was probably a combination of the dryness we’re having right now plus the fact that I did the last bout of leaf mulching. I probably got some really small bits of leaves in my eyes, even though I wear protective glasses.

Anyhow, he called in prescriptions for an ointment and some eye drops that work to alleviate stinging, irritation, and pain while my eye has a chance to heal. There is no sign of infection. We put the two things in when I got home and I still feel a bit of ‘something being in my eye,’ but none of the stinging and no one is plunging a knife into my eye anymore! Hooray!

So I called my good friend, Nora, and said that turkey day is back on tomorrow. I can handle the amount of discomfort I have now, so should be able to do turkey and all the fixings tomorrow, as scheduled. It’s a good thing my guest is my good friend, Nora, who loves, me because I probably won’t get much cleaning done tomorrow…

Happy Thanksgiving!


Filed under Challenges, holidays

Out of Commission

mad eye moody-harry

We were watching TV last night and suddenly I felt I had something in my eye.

After using two different kinds of eye drops, my right eye was stinging and hurting, like someone was stabbing me in the eye.  We ended up in the ER at the hospital at 12:30 this morning. Somehow I got a large scratch on my eye. They were unable to find anything still in there, but I was pretty miserable, to say the least. They put antibiotic ‘goo’ in my eye and put a patch on my eye to sleep in. They gave me a pain pill and made my husband sign that he would be the one driving. We left the ER around 2:30 this morning.

The pill made me really nauseous, but it did help with the pain in my eye. I was pretty woozy by the time we went to bed, about 3:30a.m.

I was still woozy and nauseous when the alarm went off. I slept under my throw in my recliner until 11:30 or so. We did errands – me just riding in the car while my husband handled everything. I have basically slept all day, except for when my husband put more antibiotic goo in my eye and some aspirin. (No more of the pain pills, though we filled the prescription just in case. I can always cut them up into quarters if needed in the future.)

My husband is watching an awful movie on TV. I’ll probably go back and doze off again until it’s time to go to bed. The way I feel, I’ll probably sleep fine all night. I have a patch to put on my eye when I sleep so it’ll be protected.

I have no clue how I hurt my eye, except that apparently I did a reasonable job of it.

Hope you had a much better day than I did. I’m really grateful I have my husband to take care of me, the animals, and the house. He’s truly a keeper. He says I look like Mad Eye Moody from Harry Potter (above) when I’m wearing my patch.


Filed under Challenges

Letting Go

I’m still feeling hurt and angry at the verbal attack by our family member on my husband’s birthday. I’m re-reading daily what other wise family members told me regarding looking at this with compassion for the source of this, rather than focusing on what was said or how WE feel about it. One thing that is resonating now is that until I can LET GO of this, it continues to harm. Our family member has probably gone on to other things. I’M the one mired in negative feelings.

I’m a bit old to change my stripes at this stage of my life, but I’m NOT too old to nurture feelings already inside. I have a lot of compassion inside that comes surging up when I see bad things happen to good people. I strive to show kindness whenever I can. I usually can see the other person’s point of view – something that has resulted in a lot of ‘differences’ being nipped in the bud even before the disagreement really gets going.  This situation is no different, really – only in the ‘personal’ nature of the attack – and the fact we didn’t see it coming and had done nothing to warrant it.

As I do other things, I’m thinking about what our wise family members said. I’m GRADUALLY seeing this as an opportunity to use the good things inside me to help my sweet husband consider the SOURCE of this vicious judgment of his character, his beliefs, his service in the Marine Corps, his performance as a husband and father, his membership affiliations, his politics, his worth as a human being as the judgment of one person who is deeply unhappy and hurting.  It’s pretty amazing that the judgment of one other person, in one vicious note, can smash your feelings of self-worth.  I WON’T ALLOW IT.

I’ll continue to hang on, try to show my husband in every way I can what a wonderful human being he is and how much I treasure every day with him – even when he makes me angry and ready to strangle him. :0)

I’m reaching inside, past the child all wrapped up in hurt and anger, to the adult who is usually able to deal with bad things in the best way I can. I really wish this person had attacked ME. I could handle that SO much better!


Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Encouragement


I’ve been soul-searching since early yesterday.

We were enjoying the day, quietly celebrating my husband’s birthday (though he was grouchy to be another year older) when we got a message out of the blue from a family member we hardly ever see.  It was a really vicious attack on my husband’s life, character,  beliefs and more, ironically beginning and ending with “Happy Birthday.”

I’ve lived a long time now. I can manage attacks on me MUCH better than I can handle attacks on my husband. This came out of the blue, hurting my husband (though he denied it) and completely stunning me. I rarely get angry, but I was shaking I was so mad. To do this at any time I consider unforgivable, but it was beyond belief that this would be done on my husband’s birthday, when we’ve been nothing but polite.

I received some really good advice from two other family members, both encouraging me to be compassionate, rather than idly entertaining ideas of mean things we might have done in retaliation, other than just taking it in silence, as we did. More though, they both encouraged me to think about this in a different light. This person is lashing out because of suffering and unhappiness. While this hurt us, to nurture the hurt feelings does no one any good.

Rather than wanting to bite this person in the leg, it would make me grow as a person to try to see the world from this person’s point of view. Mostly, rather than only thinking of my husband and myself, I should  try to let go of the hurt, forgive this person who is obviously hurting, too, and move on.

This will take some real soul-searching. I’m trying to look at this at another of life’s character-building exercises – one that will make me a better, more forgiving, and more compassionate person. There is FAR too much hate around us. I don’t want to be a part of that.


Filed under Attitude, Challenges

Did You Miss Me?

Things have been upside down at our house. We’ve had a character-building exercise around here since yesterday afternoon – no Internet! Not only did we not have computers, we had almost no TV, since all our stuff is Internet-based now. We JUST got it fixed about 20 minutes ago. A nice guy came out, realized after checking things that he was in over his head. He called and they called out the big guns, reserved for really weird problems. I don’t know what they did, but we’re up and running now. Hooray!

It’s funny, but we really didn’t realize how dependent we are on it now. I immediately went to the computer to email the Internet people about our problem – but – hey, no email. Then I tried to Google their phone number – but, hey – no Internet. My husband finally got our the phone book to look up the number. I’ve made fun of him doing that for several years now, since it’s so quick to do it on the computer. I had to apologize for my previous criticism.

Since we had no computers, we decided to go watch TV – but, hey – we realized that we WERE able to watch things we had taped or live TV over the airways, but nothing else.  Happily, we both had good books to read.

This morning I was going to sell a couple of used books – and also buy some to replace books that I’ve read so often over the years they’re falling apart – but –

Couldn’t write to you on my blog! ARRRRRGH! Withdrawal!

Happily, they figured out what adjustments were needed on their end to make us work again. Now we’re feeling newly appreciative of connectivity.



Filed under Challenges

Spoiled Woman

This is me – except for her youth, beauty, and lack of clothes…

I’ve been up in our master bathroom trying to organize my jewelry. I have FOUR nice wall-mounted jewelry holders.

I brought in a purse from my art room that was filled with jewelry and turned it upside-down on the step beside the tub. I reasoned that one holder would hold ‘silver’ jewelry, one ‘gold,’ one primarily for holiday stuff, and one miscellaneous. (The quotes around silver and gold are because I mainly wear costume jewelry.)  I have a few REAL pieces; but I decided long ago that the more something cost, the more nervous I was wearing it. I also had a stroke if a stone were lost, or I actually LOST the piece. I decided that the few really valuable pieces I had would mainly be put away for safe keeping. The jewelry that is in-between in value I wear, but more carefully.

I stopped in the middle of trying to add the jewelry from the purse to the holders, because the holders were getting full.  I KNEW I needed to purge, putting the pieces that were still good in the donation pile. The ones that have stones missing will be put in the “if I ever get serious about trying to make jewelry’ pile.

I’m down here typing this because, though I’m making progress, I feel pretty overwhelmed. I have a lot of jewelry I really like – more than one woman should have, I suspect. (think Imelda Marcos with shoes). I’m trying to become more and more ruthless, thinking when it was I last wore something. If I haven’t worn it in a LONG time, it gets purged.

This was becoming agonizing, so I decided to take a break. I’ll gather up all my RUTHLESS motivation and go up and purge a bunch more stuff. Hopefully, at the end of it, I’ll not only be able to hang everything up, I’ll have some room left to buy more stuff!

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, Organizing/DeCluttering

Fun Friday

This is like the two jewelry holders I ordered recently from JewelryHoldersForYou on Etsy. Mine are a nice cherry wood finish.

I’m going to go up today and see what sense I can make of my completely unorganized jewelry. If I get enough accomplished, I’ll take some pics and show you.

Yesterday I didn’t feel well. I slept all day long, rousing only to eat or go to the bathroom, moving from my recliner to the couch and back again. I then slept all night long, awaking feeling much, much better!

I had called and told my Lunch Bunch friends that we wouldn’t be there today. I called them again this morning and said we WOULD! We had a good time, as always, catching up on what was going on with the three of us.  We did our errands on the way home and are now in for the rest of the day.

It’s a much nicer day than we’ve had lately. We’re supposed to get to a high of 61 degrees F. and the sun is shining brightly. My spirits soared when I saw such a beautiful day. Amber did her ‘run like a mad thing’ act when we went out earlier. She LOVES the cooler weather.

So – I’m up to the master bath to start trying to bring some kind of order to my jewelry.

I hope you have something fun to do with your afternoon, too.



Filed under Challenges, Changes, Organizing/DeCluttering



I’m feeling puny today, so I’ll share something with you later. Hope you have a good day.


Filed under Challenges

No More Cheetos!

My husband was stuffing his face this afternoon with fritos. Suddenly, I could stand it no longer, so I went into the pantry and grabbed a sack of Cheetos.

As I sat down, I felt a stinging on my back. I jumped up pulling my shirt up, and my husband said he saw something fall down onto the carpet. Before I could react, I felt a stinging in my JEANS! I ripped off my clothes as quickly as possible, shaking a WASP

onto the carpet. I ran over and stomped him until he was a pile of debris my husband disposed of. He went and got some pain ointment and dosed the area on my back and the other, sorer one, on my butt.  I finished the dosage by taking a couple of Benedryl to tone down any more reaction, since I could FEEL the swelling on my butt.  My husband commiserated with me about the stings, but then couldn’t stand not to mention he was impressed with how quickly I shed my clothes. :0(

Now I’m experiencing lots of sensations at the same time. One part of me thinks the stinger is still either in my back or embedded in my shirt. We’ve checked both very carefully and neither is true. I can feel the hurt, plus increasing swelling, from the sting on my butt, too. My skin is crawling from the nightmare-like mental picture.  My nerves are pretty shot, as well.

I’m angry because I’m basically a nice person – at least most of the time – and feel I don’t deserve this. At least I know I’m not violently allergic to wasps stings. I never received a sting while I was growing up, or in the 29 years we lived here. In year 30, however, I’ve been stung THREE TIMES – twice by awful red wasps and today by the one that looked similar to the one above.

I’ve checked the pantry ceiling, and all around where the Cheetos live. Nothing. Maybe it was on my chair and I didn’t see it when I sat down. From time to time we DO get a wasp inside the house. I’d been sitting reading, though, before I got up. I wasn’t gone from the chair for 5 minutes.

I guess this is punishment for my weakness in wanting Cheetos – something definitely not on my diet – or my husband’s, for that matter; but he INSISTS he can’t live without his ‘salty, crunch food group.’  Maybe the wasps will ignore me again if I really TRY not to eat Cheetos anymore…



Filed under Challenges

Getting Ready for the Freeze

Arkansas doesn’t do a great job of winter.

We have a short fall, going from 90+ degree weather a week ago to a projected freeze Friday night and Saturday night, and then returning to fall for awhile longer, while threatening bad ice storms, rather than pretty snow throughout the winter.   I hate this sudden short weekend of freezes because it kills my flowers. I cover up the raised beds in my garden and a couple of other things, but there is no way I can protect everything. :0(


Since my flowers will probably be gone by the end of the weekend, the first thing I did today was cut some of the twice-blooming purple iris and some of the hydrangea blooms, bringing them in so we can enjoy them for a few more days.

I then went out to the garden. I had stored old sheets and clothespins in a tall trash can that just fit under one of the raised bed planters. It occurred to me last night that ‘something’ could have gotten into the trash can, since it doesn’t have a lid, and that I might not want to encounter whatever it was.  This morning I brought the trashcan out from under the planter box,  dragged it out of the garden and dumped it on its side quickly on the ground. Nothing showed up, so I grabbed the bottom of the trash can and shook out the rest of the contents, throwing it on the ground again, staying well away. I lucked out. No critters, No snakes. No insects or nests – just sheets and a bag of clothespins. I’ll put the sheets out tomorrow night and Saturday night, and then put them back in the trashcan, but I’ll move the can into the shop for safekeeping this time.

I found four tall stakes that I can put in the planter that holds the purple plant and the elephant ear plant. I put a sheet and some clothespins in the planter, ready to cover the plants tomorrow night.

I dug up the two youngest tomato plants after finding two large pots. I replanted them in the pots with Mel’s Mix and left them on a table in the greenhouse.


While I was out there, I heard a ‘CRACK!’ which turned out to be the plastic PVC pipe holders breaking that hold the wood at one end of the greenhouse to the curved PVC rib of the roof. The whole horizontal piece attached to the two vertical pieces was FREE, moving in the gusty wind! I put one of the tomato pots on the table up against one of the vertical pieces of wood. I put a tray and a full gallon jug of water against the other vertical piece of wood until my husband got home. We took a ladder out there and replaced the plastic holders with metal ones, fitting them over the PVC pipe of the rib and screwing them into the vertical wood uprights.*

*NOTE – Don’t EVER use the cheap plastic PVC pipe holders for ANYTHING. Always get the metal ones.

I then spent about 20 minutes securing the sheeting that is stretched over the ribs where it was coming loose. Since we’re having gusty winds, about 30mph this afternoon, this will be a good test of the greenhouse. Fingers crossed.

I think I told you that I finally got the book on starting my greenhouse. It’s called Gardening in Your Greenhouse – Greenhouse Basics,  by Mark Freeman.  I’m learning a TON. This was just the book I needed.  I particularly love the sections about starting seeds. He does it a completely different way than I have, using the same seed starter stuff I’ve been using. Since my nickname is the “Serial Seed Killer” I need all the help I can get!  I’m making a list of things I want to get to use out there, plus I’m getting ideas on how to make the best use of my space, and a realistic idea of what I can do – plus my limitations – so I have a better idea of what to expect.

As I try to implement some of Mark’s good suggestions, I’ll try to share them with you.

I still have a to-do list as long as my arm of things I’d like to do outside, but I really don’t like trying to gather leaves for mulch in a gusty wind. Except for the actual covering of what I can cover tomorrow night, we’re pretty well as ready for the freezes as we can be. We’ll regroup after and see where we are.

I’m going in to put my feet up and read more of my greenhouse book. I hope you’re having a wonderful day.


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Filed under Arkansas, Challenges, Gardening, Greenwood, Mother Nature, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Scaring My Hair Off

This is what I looked like after our trip to the mall Sunday.

My husband was antsy, suggesting we go to the mall. We took the Corvette, my husband’s car, to ‘stretch its legs.” He only scared me once on the way to the mall. (He is a much better driver than I. He routinely sees things before I do and reacts much faster than I. One problem, though is that he tends to look at a speed limit as a ‘suggestion.” He drives faster than I do, and – in any given situation – puts on the gas when I would put on the brake.)

On the way home we were surrounded by foot-draggers who insisted on driving side by side blocking all progress. The minute there was a break, my husband punched it, passing the car in front of us on the right. At the same time, a Jeep decided to change to the right lane – where we were going. We were forced onto the shoulder of the road, where my husband punched it again to get around the jeep plus the car in front of that. We made it, though I looked like the sweet child above.

We pulled into Walmart to get some gas. I started to tell my husband that I was displeased – to say the least – about his driving. Three police cars, (two marked and one unmarked) pulled into the Walmart gas station behind us. Long story short, we got a ticket. We will talk to our lawyer on Monday. My husband was wrong for several reasons, but I decided the ticket was probably more effective than my tongue lashing would have been…


Filed under Attitude, Challenges

Big Move




As the temperatures are finally dropping (by Sunday – today and tomorrow we’re still having summer) we talked about the fact that we need to move Amber’s crate somewhere inside. This is not a simple issue because we have been leaving the door to the crate open, so she’s not confined at night. She gets into it when we put her to bed for the night, but we’re not at all sure if she actually sleeps in it. Sometimes she is in it in the morning when we open the door to the back porch, and sometimes she isn’t.

We can’t trust her on her own, yet. If she’s inside, we find she has dumped a trashcan. In the mornings, the first thing she does after going outside and then having her breakfast, is dash into the pantry to see if we’ve forgotten to pick up Molly’s dish. If we have, she brings it out and starts chewing on it. We either close the people gate that is in the doorway to our office to keep her in with us, or we go into the living room, telling her to get in her ‘place,’ the huge dog bed in there. We have found out the hard way that we need to monitor her, inside and out.

My husband – a lover of simple decisions, just wants to start leaving her inside, hoping that she and Molly will share the huge dog bed in the utility room. When I pointed out a lot of other considerations, we agreed that the subject was a bit more complicated.

We’ve now agreed that my husband will move the people walk-through gate from the doorway to the back porch to the doorway between the utility room and our dining area. This will confine both dogs to the utility room, plus cut off Amber’s access to the pantry. I don’t even want to THINK about the damage she could cause – happily eating her way through the night and dumping whatever she didn’t like or had trouble reaching.  We’ll move Amber’s crate, with liner and towels, into the utility room. I want her to have her safe area if she wants it, at least until we see evidence that she and Molly are doing well with the new sleeping arrangements. Since Amber and Molly are actually playing a bit now, I’m hopeful that this move will go relatively smoothly. Tomorrow night will tell…


Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Changes, Family

More Than Enough

I FINALLY got a picture of Amber with one of her squeaky toys in her mouth.

This is quite a feat, I have to say, because her standard reaction when she hears the camera turn on and the flash flip, is to drop the toy. I’ve also tried to turn the camera on in another room and then try to sneak up on her, but she sees/hears/smells me before I even enter the room and comes up to greet me – AFTER dropping the toy…

While you’re looking at the photo, look behind her back at the bottom drawer on the set of drawers beside my computer cut out. This is thanks to Amber – not meaning to hurt the drawer or chewing on it – but the fact that she isn’t careful where her claws are on any of her feet while she chews on a toy. I’ll tackle the drawer with one of the stain crayon thingies one day.

I’ve been vacuuming today, as I have every day over the past few weeks, trying to keep up with the MORE THAN ENOUGH dog and cat hair. I’m a failure. :0(

I’ve tried using the Furminator on Amber –

because she’s shedding so much – even with colder weather coming on. Besides having MORE THAN ENOUGH hair, she has MORE THAN ENOUGH teeth, which she readily uses on us. She’s no longer using us as chew toys so much (plus we’re learning techniques to avoid triggering her toothy response), but the Furminator definitely brings out the teeth.

Today I vacuumed the first floor tiles (pantry, kitchen, dining area, utility room, hallway, and two half baths) and then moved to the foyer between the stairs and our office. Then I got about half of the living room done before the battery on my easy-to-use portable Dyson gave out. That was really kind of good, actually, because MY personal energy battery was giving out by then, too.


I completely filled up the canister on the vacuum TWICE today. UGH

I’ll give the vacuum an hour or so to charge back up – getting a cold drink and putting my feet up to recharge MY battery, as well, and then continue on. It would be good if my efforts lasted more than a day. I’m really grossed out by all the hair and ‘stuff’ I vacuum up each time.

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Filed under Challenges, Housekeeping - Maintenance

A Nice Thursday

Today has been a really nice day.

The weather is a bit warm, but not enough that we’ve had to close up and turn on the a/c. Doors and windows open are a wonderful change, and the ceiling fans make it very comfortable.

I told you about the deer I saw on the way to my massage. My massage was particularly luxurious today because my back stopped hurting. I didn’t have to consciously try to relax into the massage. I could just ENJOY. AHHHHHH! Thank you, Lynn.

I have a list as long as my arm of things that need my attention. I let a lot of them slide while I was hurting, and so I’m trying to take a few each day until I’m reasonably caught up again.


The aquarium water looked  a bit murky, so I siphoned out 3/4 of the water, wiped the inside of the tank, then replaced the water with treated water that has been breathing and aging for several weeks. I changed the filter and turned everything back on. The fish seemed happy with my attention.


Since our temperatures are supposed to get more fall like early next week, I finally took the time to scrub out Amber’s kiddie pool. I had emptied it and left it upside down, but then hurt my back, so it was not only yucky, it had been rained on so there was a small lake weighing down the BACK of the pool. I scrubbed it with a broom and Simple Green, then hosed it out, turned it over, and scrubbed the back. I carried it around to the garage and put it between my counter and my elliptical trainer until I bring it out again next Spring.

I harvested two tomatoes from the planter on the east end of the house. I still have no idea if the two new tomato plants will do well or not. I’ll need to remove the old plants soon.

I still have two things on my list for today –

  • I learned that taking the planter tray of seedlings out onto the deck to get more sun and maybe some rain was a disaster, so I’ll clean up the planter and put it away.
  • Amber has developed a fun new hobby – digging! We dug out our two Rio Samba bushes recently in preparation for planting new ones early next spring. We’re also using some of the soil in the brick planters to fill mole, Molly, and Amber holes in the yard before replenishing the planters with fresh potting mix. Amber found them and has had a GREAT time digging in the planters. She comes to the door, looking innocent and sweet, with a black nose, mouth, and front feet. I’ve had to get a washcloth and towels to clean her up before I can let her back into the house with us. I haven’t been able to catch her doing it yet; but when I do, I’ll have to warn her, and then zap her if the warning isn’t enough.

I hope you’ve been having a fun day, too. I can’t wait for the nice, cool, fall weather!!





Filed under Challenges, Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

New Recipes

I have found that trying to combine eating low-carb and feeding my diabetic husband to be a bit of a challenge. I fell into a trap of my own making several months ago, opting to eat what HE ate. NOT GOOD! Mostly now, I can fix low carb meals and then add extra things he can also eat into the mix.

I have found that getting a husband to try new foods, substitutions, and new recipes is a character-building exercise. For example, the substitutions of spaghetti squash for pasta and riced cauliflower for rice just won’t work for him. He’s like a little kid, making faces and being quite dramatic.  Happily, though, he is very supportive of my trying new recipes.

I tried one for chicken thighs in the crock pot last night. You’re supposed to thicken the juices with xanthan for use as a gravy. I made rice for him and I ate spaghetti squash. I like anything with a gravy-like sauce, so I thought it was pretty good. He praised the tenderness of the chicken, and he liked the rice, but the sauce, not so much.

I’ll cut up the leftover chicken tonight, combining it with cream of chicken/mushroom soup that he particularly likes, and serve it over rice for him and cauli-rice for me. It’s not quite as low-carb with the soup, but I can work around it to make my day come out under my limits.

Meanwhile, I’m glad we’ve found some substitutes for things he loves so he doesn’t feel deprived and walk around looking hangdog:

  • Arizona Zero Peach Tea
  • Alpine Sugar-Free Apple Cider Mix
  • A&W Sugar-Free Soda
  • Sweet Freedom Blue Bunny Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Sweet Freedom Blue Bunny Ice Cream Cones
  • Jello Sugar-Free Cups

Now I just have to practice NOT feeling deprived MYSELF when he eats without having to worry about carbs…. (I’ll try to make a list of good things I have found that make eating low-carb much easier and post them for those who might be interested.)


Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Cooking/Recipes/Low Carb Lifestyle, DIET!, Healthy Eating

Moles, Voles and Other ‘Oles’

This is a ‘vole.’



And this is a ‘mole.’

The past few years the memo has gone out to all moles, voles, and other ‘oles’ that the Lewis property has the tastiest grubs in the world. They have come en masse, steadily, wreaking havoc on our lawn. We used to use a lawn service who spread fertilizer, weed killer, and for extra money, would treat our lawn with something that was supposed to kill the grubs, making the critters go elsewhere. It didn’t work. We finally gave up, stopping the lawn service since our yard was too much of a mess to make the cost reasonable.

At Lunch Bunch our friend Alice suggested we try a deterrent that looks like worms created out of gel like stuff. You put them in the tunnel and then close the hole lightly.

We put one package of three out, choosing tunnels at random. A couple of days ago I found a dead MOLE on the grass in the back.

Since Amber is a digger, we’re not sure if we finally have a “mole/vole/or other ole” dog or if one of the worms we placed worked. It’s the first victory we’ve had in several years, so we’re pleased that SOMETHING is getting some action. We have no clue how many of these critters we have – we just know the lawn looks like something out of a late movie, “Revenge of the Oles.”

One down….

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges

A Step Too Far

We got the competitor of the Sleep Number Mattress (Comfortaire) in January of 2006. At that time we would have had to buy a bed frame, headboard, etc. in order to put in the new mattress because it’s basically two fancy air mattresses each with its own control. We looked all around, but were out of style yet again in that people didn’t want bookcase headboards. We decided to build our own.

This is what we built. Not as elegant as what you see in the stores, but the headboard has storage, controls for various things in the middle, lights, etc. The bed frame is solid wood and weighs a ton (more or less :0) ) It’s strong enough to house all the stuff you need to control the air in the mattress, the pump, hoses, etc., and the mattresses themselves, kind of like building a frame for a swimming pool.

We made frames on the headboard so we could decorate it with river rock.


We love this bed because we’re never in agreement on how firm the mattress should be. I also tend to change my firmness from time to time to accommodate my back, while my husband sets it and forgets it, other than hitting the button to replace any air that has been lost.

We also like an electric blanket for the same reason. With dual controls, we can both be comfortable. In January of 2006 my husband decided to ‘be neat’ with the electronics for the blanket. The wires ran all over the place, so he put the wires that ran from the headboard to the end of the blanket in the space under the plywood that was the mattress support of the frame of the bed. He also wired the controls into the headboard nicely, and THEN finished putting the headboard together.

This has worked beautifully for 11 years. I realized that when we put the electric blanket on the bed this time (because we LOVE to have the attic fan on at night when the weather allows it), I had it set on HIGH, but it was only warm. I froze to death several nights in a row, even with adding an afghan on my side of the bed,  before telling my husband we needed to get a new electric blanket.

We got busy during the day yesterday, but we decided to plug in the new blanket when we went up to bed last night. Easy, peezy, right?

When it became clear that we would have to take the whole bed apart in order to get the wiring for the non-functioning blanket out, I told my husband I refused. We ended up cutting the wires, cutting off the controls, and cutting off the plug in at the end of the bed. (Needless to say, our former plans of saving the blanket in case of emergency went out the window. It doesn’t make a good blanket by itself, so we can’t even donate it now. :0(  )  I did mention that we might have gone a step too far in trying to be neat 11 years ago…

At a little after 1 a.m. this morning, we finally got the bed together again with clean sheets, the new electric blanket with modernized controls,  a comforter, etc.

We both slept blissfully well last night. Ahhhhh.



Filed under Challenges, Changes, Housekeeping - Maintenance

“Want To” vs “Doing”

Translating intention to action to results is difficult. If I could bottle it, I would be a gazillionaire and could stop entering PCH and MegaMillions.

Trying to get myself to actually DO the things day after day that will get the results I want seems like a pipe dream at times. When I’m eating right, doing yoga and my elliptical trainer, and concentrating on moving more, I feel better – physically, mentally, and emotionally. So why am I still having to MAKE myself do these things, lapsing for a day or two, losing my motivation, failing to take each day at a time?

I am again talking to myself – pretty harshly – since I think I may be like our lab puppy, Amber, and need a shock collar to take things seriously, rather than blowing things off.

THIS TIME – I have my ducks more in a row (if you’ll pardon the pun on the pic above.)

  • I’ve been missing bread a LOT. I’ve now found Bob’s Red Mill Low Carb Bread Mix that is a net 5 carbs per slice. I wrapped it around a hot dog yesterday and bit in with gusto. (I’m still going to try my new weird screaming green silicone bread maker thingie, but I’m finding other priorities at the moment.)
  • Thanks to my son, I found a new nutrition counter and log called “Cronometer” to replace MyFitnessPal, which is good, but the people don’t maintain the website well. The front page hasn’t come up for months. I haven’t tried to add a recipe new to the website yet, but, so far, entering what I eat and logging in my exercise daily is quick and easy.
  • Since my back finally quit hurting (still no clue what I did to cause the situation) – I am able to do careful stretching in prep for getting back to my “Gentle Yoga” DVDs with Cat Kabira.
  • Also, since my back quit hurting, I am able to start catching up with all the house cleaning that was ignored while I vegged out in my recliner on my heat pad on muscle relaxers, ointments, pain patches, etc. Feeling that I’m doing something significant each day to purge/clean/reorganize is making me feel more together and in control of things. (Today’s project is finishing up scrubbing the master bathroom)
  • We’re supposed to get rain today/tonight and a very welcome cool front, lowering the temperatures and humidity that have it feeling like over 100 degrees F. for the past month. We are more than ready, and I’m itching to get back out to my square foot garden and see what’s what. :0)

Tonight we’re having spaghetti and salad, with a bit of bread. (Newman’s Own Marina sauce is low-carb. My husband prefers small elbow macaroni to spaghetti, so I’ll fix that for him. I’ll have spaghetti squash as an alternative to spaghetti, and a piece of my low-carb bread I made.)

SO – desire to be healthier, get the lard off, increase my flexibility and overall health merge with good intention, motivation, means, and attitude to give me a good start. One day at a time.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Cooking/Recipes/Low Carb Lifestyle, DIET!, exercise, getting the lard off


As you get older, it doesn’t take much to make you feel disenfranchised, lost, with the emotional rug pulled out from under you. We’ve had two such occurrences lately, so I’m trying to be proactive so we can feel support under us again as soon as possible.

I’ve already told you in other posts that our dear dental hygienist and her husband died in a plane crash in August. The hole in our hearts will remain a long time, freshly opened every six months when we go for exams and cleaning. We went for our regularly scheduled appointment this month. As I expected, Dr. Moore found a winner for the position. She had worked there part-time and everyone there liked her, including Shannon. I had my exam and cleaning first. When my husband went in for his, Dr. Moore came out to visit with me, ask me what I thought of Alisha, and hug my neck for the card and letter I sent. Thanks to Dr. Moore for choosing someone who would fit in well with the rest of the kind, caring folks in his office.  We remain in good hands.

The next blow came when my friend Kay asked us at Lunch Bunch a couple of weeks ago, “What do you think of Dr. Jackson leaving?” She knew, by the way our mouths hung open like gutted fish, that we didn’t know. After checking with the clinic and doing some research, we have found that our wonderful Dr. Jackson has relocated to Russellville, about an hour and a half away from us. His new situation is definitely good for him and his future. We’re happy for him and sad for us. We wrote a letter thanking him for his good care of us.

We researched the physician who will take Dr. Jackson’s place. She seems very qualified. When I read the part that listed her hobbies – one of them being ‘hunting,’ my husband was sold. He immediately said, “We’ll go to her.”

My husband is running out of samples of a drug that is really working for him. We didn’t get a prescription yet, so this is a bit of a problem. I kept calling to try to get an appointment with the new doc, but was told to try back in a week or so – they weren’t okayed to make appointments with her yet. Finally, last Friday I called and got both of us an appointment with her on her first day at the clinic, October 2nd.

To this end, I thought it would help her if we could give a short description of who we are and what we need. That’s more difficult than it sounds. I’m making a list for each of us of our prescriptions, dosages, times we take them per day, and what for, and then the supplements we take. I’m also going to scan our quarterly blood tests from last month. This way, in two pages, she can see each of us in a nutshell without our taking an undue amount of her time.

Maybe we’ll feel the ground settle a bit after we’ve seen her, get the prescriptions we need, and set up for our first quarterly appointment. Changes aren’t fun. They’re disconcerting. But, happily, in our case so far, the changes are doable.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Challenges, Changes

Do You Ever…

Zen to Zany

I told you recently that my husband and I ‘cut the cord’ and cancelled our association with Dish TV. (We had previously cut our Internet service with Dish because we discovered that WOW (World of Wireless in Fort Smith) could give us better service via a tower on the ridge line behind us.)

With this newest change, many of our TV viewing habits had to change. We used to keep the TV on Fox News most of the day. We also recorded a bunch of TV shows we liked via our DVR and would watch in the evenings. We didn’t even know what night or network provided the shows we watched. They were just there when we wanted.

Although these two things were nice, we were paying almost $100/month for mostly channels we never watched. We even researched a new ‘skinny bundle,’ but by the time we got HD, DVR, Fox News, and HBO (Game of Thrones), we were back up where we started. Our bill now for everything is $36.00.  We can get many networks over the air with an antenna. We also have Roku, Hulu, and some others. We have to strain our brains a bit to figure out how to get what we would like, but it’s good for us.

One thing I really didn’t expect was a lifting of a weight from my shoulders. I really hadn’t realized how listening to the same news stories over and over all day, with a bit of a different spin depending on who the talking heads were, was wearing me down, making me depressed. I want to know what’s going on; but, since I can’t DO anything about most of it – other than send donations right now – I just want to be told what is happening without any obvious spin, left or right.

Now we watch Reuters each evening. They ask you how much time you have. You select up to 30 minutes, and then they show you however much they can get into the time frame you’ve chosen. No commercials. No bias that we can detect yet. The news still isn’t ‘happy,’ but I don’t feel weighted down, wanting to crawl into a hole and escape.

We’re making a list of the TV shows we used to DVR and trying to make sure we can get that network. We’ve discovered networks and programs we didn’t know about before and are loving it. It’s a work in progress, and a wonderfully fresh outlook on things. :0)


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Filed under Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Encouragement

Day Off


Since my back has been in protest mode lately, I’ve leaned toward comfort food, rather than eating my low carb food. The low carb foods can be really good, and I don’t feel deprived, but they aren’t comfort food.

Today I’m taking my last day off. To that end, I asked my husband what he has been missing most. He immediately said, “chicken chunks and soup over rice.” And so it shall be. I also got some double stuff oreo cookies as my official send off back to being a grown up.

I’ve decided it doesn’t matter anymore whether my back hurts. I’m going to get back to doing what I know I should – gentle stretching and eating right.

If someone could come up with low carb, low sugar comfort food, he or she would be a gazillionaire.


Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, DIET!, exercise


I enjoyed three full days with no pain, and then I got up to get some coffee last night and it felt as if a mule had kicked me in the right side of my ‘nether end.’ I used the heat pad, then slapped on a pain patch, and took a muscle relaxer before bed. I’m better today, but it still hurts pretty badly when I stand or sit. Once I’m in either position, it’s better. Arrrrrrrrgh!

I’ve been TRYING to get out and scrub out Amber’s kiddie pool. My husband turned it over to get the yucky water out and prevent any further place for mosquitoes to breed, but it remains upended in the side yard. Amber goes over to it every time we go out. I would like to get it scrubbed out and refilled, since the temps are supposed to be in the low 90s for the rest of this week and much of next.

I also planned to use the weed whacker around my greenhouse, now that the ham radio tower is up and out of the way.

Each day comes and goes and the two things stare me in the face. Maybe I can get them done by the end of the weekend….

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Filed under Challenges, Housekeeping - Maintenance

Serial Seed Killer Tries Again

Since I wasn’t able to find plants that I wanted for my fall garden, I planted some seeds and will hope for the best.

I planted some inside in a big planter starter thingie with a plastic top and it’s living on one end of our dining area table where it can get some sun. The others I planted directly in the garden, again hoping for the best.

I planted Bibb Lettuce, Simpson Lettuce, and Spinach inside, and planted those, plus radishes, carrots, and 4 celery plants I started inside. There isn’t anything to see yet, so no pics.

Since I’m aptly named the ‘Serial Seed Killer,” I may not get much, or anything, but I’m hopeful that ONE of the methods I used will be successful. Here’s hoping!


Filed under Arkansas, Challenges, Gardening, Greenwood, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Changes are DIFFICULT!

It seems that life is providing several character-building changes to us lately.

  • I’ve already told you that our much-loved dental hygienist and her husband were killed in a plane crash last month. We lucked out that our dentist, Dr. Wes Moore, was able to find another very competent, physically and emotionally gentle hygienist to take care of us.
  • Today we learned that our wonderful family practice doctor has left the Greenwood practice and has relocated to Russellville AR., an hour and a half each way from us. :0(   We are just devastated. We’ve looked up information on the new doctor coming in October, and have decided that we would like to try her. I called the clinic and they said someone would call us about it. Our doctor was compassionate, and provided samples of the blood sugar medicine my husband needs. Since this very likely will stop, I’ll need to research possible sources of this very expensive medicine. Humana doesn’t cover it, and it’s $550.00/month. To say I’m freaked out right now is an understatement. My husband glibly says, “I’ll just take it until the samples run out and then stop.” (I’m trying not to deck him.) He understands, but doesn’t really absorb, the fact that his body will do really bad things if he doesn’t take the medicine that helps control his blood sugar. So the search starts now…

I feel that the rug has been pulled out from under us several times lately. We’re trying to deal with things the best way we can, but one of the things about getting older is that you stiffen up and don’t bounce quite as well as you did when you were much younger.

I’ll try to focus on all the positive things in our lives – and we have a BUNCH of them.


Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Challenges, Changes

Help for my Back

I did SOMETHING mysterious to my back a couple of weeks ago and have been pretty useless ever since, spending a lot of time in my chair with the heating pad, taking pain relievers, etc.

Yesterday I had a wonderful massage. My massage therapist always asks if I need more help in a certain area, and I told her about my back – that my muscle pain keeps moving, causing me spasms, pain, and general grief.

My doctor gave me a prescription for a muscle relaxant and that has helped, but I’m still a mess.  I had to grit my teeth to get up on the massage table and lie down flat on my front.

Lynn concentrated on my back, using a spray stuff she massaged in. For the first time in a long time I was free of pain! I asked her what it was and where I could get some. She got it on a trip to Branson, Missouri, but she said the lady had a website, What she was massaging into my back is called, Kelly’s World Famous Eucalyptus Oil. It’s an all natural pain reliever. It doesn’t have an odor and rubs in, not getting on your clothes. To be honest, at this point I wouldn’t care if it looked and felt like tar and smelled bad. It took my pain away.

When I got home I went to the website and ordered two 4 oz bottles. I’m going to ask my sweet husband to spray it on me and rub it in as soon as it arrives.

I still have a super tender back today. It isn’t a miracle drug, but it DOES really ease the pain while your body works its way out of the pain cycle.

I’m hoping the combination of muscle relaxants, the spray, the heat pad, and really careful stretching will get me back to my normal state – my husband describes as, “mean as a snake!” :0)


Filed under Challenges, exercise, Health Alert

Emotional Day

The picture above could be Amber, but it isn’t. Isn’t it great?


We went to have our teeth cleaned yesterday, the first time since our wonderful dental hygienist and her husband were killed in a crash of their private plane.

Our receptionist called the day before to remind us of our appointment. (I hope this is routine, and that she calls everyone – not just us because we’re getting a bit doofus in our sunset years.) She told us that our hygienist’s name was Alisha. She also carefully tiptoed into making sure I knew that our Shannon was gone.

When we got there, we were greeted with smiles, as usual. I went first, and discovered to my delight, that Alisha was competent, gentle, and caring. She had worked for the dental office part time, and so knew everyone there. She really liked Shannon, too, and was grieving with us all. She’ll be very good in that spot.

My husband went in when I came out. When he left, there was a steady stream of people coming to me one at a time, asking for a hug, and thanking me for the card and letter I sent them when I heard the news. Lots of people sent cards, flowers, plants, and called, but I was told I was the only one who wrote a personal letter. The receptionist came over, hugged me, and told me she was so touched by what I had said that she had copied my letter and sent it to Shannon’s parents. I teared up over that.

Even Dr. Moore took time to come out and thank me. I again thanked HIM for taking such kind care of me when I was in terrible pain from a wisdom tooth. I remarked that he has the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen. When my husband came out, Dr. Moore told him that I was “hitting on him,” allowing us to share a good laugh.

No one can or will replace Shannon. I still dread going to the dentist, even for a teeth cleaning, but we’re extremely lucky that Dr. Moore really has a talent for gathering good people, then treating them so well they stay. I’m happy he found another kind lady to take care of us.  I told her that Shannon’s patients remained in good hands, and that once she had seen and taken care of each of us, the next time we would definitely be HER patients. She does a great job.



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Filed under Challenges, Delightful Surprises

Electronic Mysteries

Every once in a while, our electronic stuff goes ‘wonky.’ (There is probably a technical term for what happened in each case, but ‘wonky’ suffices for me.) Sometimes it just wants to be looked at. Sometimes it wants to be taken apart and put back together. Unplugged and plugged back in….

Yesterday it was the TV. It simply died. No warning, No waning. Just died. As with a lot of things these days, it’s cheaper to buy a new one than even THINK about fixing it or paying someone else to fix it. We looked on the log we keep of stuff we’d like to remember, and discovered the TV was over 10 years old, and we paid over $1200 for it. We discussed the problem, then decided to list the features we thought were mandatory and go from there.

We decided to go to WalMart, and then, if we didn’t find anything, go to Fort Smith to Best Buy. My husband insisted we get a larger one than we had, which was 48″. He wanted 4K (Ultra High Definition Television), HDR (High Dynamic Range) – this has been explained to me that it can handle whatever resolution we get on upgrades for the TV, better resolution on DVDs, etc.  He wanted at least 3 HDMI ports (plug-in places for our Playstation 3, Roku, amplifier, etc.) AND a price tag below $600….

We found a Philips 5000 at WalMart. It’s 55″,  has all the things mentioned above, and cost $428.00. It’s also much lighter than our former TV.

We spent the rest of the day and evening getting the old one out, the new one in and hooked up. My husband is trying to teach our remotes to handle the new stuff so that we don’t have to play ‘juggling remotes,’ if possible. He’ll get them to do as much as he can, and for that I’m grateful.

I just hope that this is the last in the line of electronic thingies that suddenly doesn’t work, can’t be revived, and must be replaced!

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Filed under Challenges

I’m a Mess

I’m officially pathetic.

I don’t know what I did, so it’ll be hard to avoid doing whatever it was again. Bottom line is that I’ve been doing very little the past few days, and had to cancel bowling with good friends this evening because of back spasms and pain that keeps changing location, but doesn’t go away.

My doctor gave me a prescription for some muscle relaxants, telling me to try half a pill twice a day, up to one pill twice a day. I’m on the latter now, plus a heat pad. I’m trying to get to the point I can get down on the floor and do some slow, gentle yoga stretching, but I think I would need a crane to get back up. Back pain is the pits and I’m ready to get through the pain cycle. Thankfully, I have a massage scheduled for Thursday. Maybe THAT will get me over the hump.


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