99.9 KTCS via Cindy Basnett Thurman

(We are in Greenwood, just SE of Fort Smith)

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The Heat Index is WHAT?

Our heat index this afternoon is forecast to be 105. Our hottest month here in Arkansas is August. I can’t wait.

Yesterday I started a weekend project of cleaning out our raised bed square foot garden, since Mother Nature has cooked it despite daily irrigation. The first thing I did was spray the six 4′ x 4′ chest high wooden boxes with EIGHT, a spray that kills bugs, but doesn’t harm plants, animals, or people. Then I started pulling out dying plants. This took several sessions, but I got it done. I had to re-spray one of the boxes because when I pulled out some bolted lettuce, the ants came spewing up. They didn’t bite/sting me this time, though, thank goodness. I dug onions out and spread them on the screen part of our trailer to dry in the sun for several days.

Today I’ll do a bunch of clean up. I need to empty the two or three trashcan-fuls of plants I pulled and take them over to the barrel composter. I’ll take the strings off that mark the planting squares, since several broke when I was taking plants out. I still haven’t been able to find a string that doesn’t degrade rapidly in the sun, but I’ll continue looking. I’ll make  sure I got all the onions and then re-spray the soil in the boxes with the bug killer.

I want to mix up some weed killer and spray it on the wood chipped floor of the garden area, and then around the perimeter of the garden, plus around the propane tank, trashcans of Mel’s Mix, etc.

I’ll feel happy if I can finish the “Cleanup of the Garden” finished by the end of the day.


Filed under Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Progress on the Garden


I’m making reasonable progress, even though I’m melting into a puddle.

I sprayed everything in the yard with the EIGHT bug killer. I have two of the six 4’x4′ raised garden boxes cleaned out. (I had to stop, go into the house and wash my arms and hands because I ran into another bunch of fire ants in the garden when I pulled out a plant.) I didn’t get stung or bitten, and went out and hosed that box down again with the bug killer. I’ve put in three sessions so far today and am about to go out again. Getting lots of exercise, a reasonable number of steps on my pedometer, and am still alive. :0)


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I’m Getting My Exercise Today – Cleaning Out My Garden

I’m inside, trying to catch my breath, drink a bottle of water, and relax a bit before going outside again for another session on my weekend project – cleaning out my raised bed square foot garden boxes.

The heat index is now 97 degrees (90 degrees with 55% humidity). Our forecast temperature is 98 today. Unless the humidity drops drastically, that will be a heat index of 117 this afternoon. UGH.

Mother Nature has pretty well killed off my spring garden. The plants are no match for her, even with daily irrigation, so I’m throwing in the towel and cleaning things up for next time.

I’m going to do this in SEVERAL sessions during the weekend, trying to stay hydrated and not get heat or sun stroke.

(My husband is smarter – tackling a project where he can work inside our shop. He turned on the A/C this morning and has just gone out there soon to start work, refurbishing a roll-around chair for our wonderful hair stylist and friend, Michael.)

Since the outside work needs to be done, the garden and flower planters are my domain around here, and it’s not getting any cooler for the foreseeable future, I’m just going to be careful and get it done.

  • I’m half way through the first part – spraying the garden, tomato planters, and flower planters with bug spray so I hopefully don’t get stung/bitten/ or otherwise assaulted by our hostile insect population. (My ankle is still puffy from the last fire ant attack.)  I’m using EIGHT, a spray that isn’t supposed to affect the plants at all, won’t hurt our pets, and will JUST give me some relief.
  • The second part of the project will be pulling out the dying plants in the garden and harvesting the onions, spreading them on a screen we have on a trailer out by the shop to dry in the sun.
  • The third part of the project will be mixing some weed killer and spraying the ground under the raised bed planter boxes in the garden, around the perimeter of the garden, and around the trash cans of the components of Mel’s Mix along the back of the shop.

If I can finish this by the end of the weekend, anything ELSE I do will be gravy.

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Filed under Challenges, character-building exercises, exercise, Gardening, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Yoga Therapy

The Awesome Daily

I told you yesterday that I was having pain in my lower back. My massage therapist made it feel better for a time, but by afternoon I was moving   V E R Y  slowly, hurting again. I took some Aleve and used the heat pad in the evening and at night and that seemed to help.

I’m just stiff (not in pain, thank goodness!)  As soon as we get back from “Breakfast Bunch” and errands, I’ll do my yoga stretches  S L O W L Y , plus my new “Oyster” abdominal core exercise, hoping to ease up the stiffness while strengthening my old-but-still-kicking core.


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Karen Margulis Pastel – “Florida Wetlands”

“Florida Wetlands” – Karen Margulis –


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Wonderful Wood

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“Gulls and Coots”

“Gulls and Coots” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Where are You Putting YOUR Energy?

Doreen Virtue via Cathy Ruggiero

I’ve spent much of my life working to avoid my fears – deluding myself that I really had CONTROL. I’ve gotten halfway there now. I’ve admitted that a lot of the things I fear I CAN’T control. I haven’t been able to shut off the worry, but at least the acknowledgment allows me to put much of my energy elsewhere. I’m also doing better at living in the moment. Before my husband and I finally married (49 years ago now), I would wish away the present because I was waiting for his next leave from the Marines. I was waiting to finish college. I was waiting – wishing away much of what should have been an enjoyable time. I was ‘there,’ but didn’t really appreciate a lot of people and things I should have.

I’m doing better at living NOW. Appreciating what I have. Trying to show the people in my life how very much they mean to me in every way I can. I’m trying to do what I can on a daily basis to get healthier – getting the lard off gradually and exercising. I’m trying to pull my husband in on this so that we can squeeze out all life has to offer – together. I’m sticking my neck out and trying to learn new things. It’s all a work in progress, but by the time I kick the bucket I should have things figured out. :0)

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Filed under Encouragement, Favorite Quotes

You Know It’s Hot

Patsy Saudeda –

The heat index is 105 degrees right now. Not fit for man nor beast.

Thankfully, my husband mowed the yard last night right before dark, so the Lewises are lookin’ pretty good (for the Lewises). One of the many reasons we don’t live in the city limits is that we didn’t care for trimming our lawn to a required height and in the proper frequency, agonizing over brown spots, moles, voles, or other ‘ole’s, etc. We usually mow once a week, weather permitting, and my husband is delighted when we get to the stage in the summer where we aren’t getting any rain to keep the grass growing before our eyes. “Brown and crunchy’ is his favorite grass.

I never got back outside yesterday after gathering tomatoes and getting into the hostile ant pile. My ankle is FINALLY only a bit puffy today. The swelling is such that you can actually SEE the bites/stings rather than my ankle being one pink puffy area all the way around.  I’m planning to try to get the garden cleared tonight, but I’ll mix up more EIGHT to spray all the plants, all the raised bed planters, and the ground around them before I try to start clearing things out right before dark this evening.

I’m going to pull out all the plants, including the onions. I’ll put the onions on a screen we have on the side of a trailer so that they can start drying. They’ll need to do that for several days and then I can store them in mesh bags in the pantry. I’m hoping we got a good crop this year. Last year we had home-grown sweet onions throughout the winter and into the start of April!

If you’re having similar weather, don’t forget to take frequent breaks and drink lots and lots of water.


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

“Mountain Water Symphony”

“Mountain Water Symphony” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Karen Margulis Pastels

Karen Margulis –

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When Wood Comes Alive – Take 20


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Supriya Billapati Glass Art

Supriya Billapati –

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Feeling Encouraged

I went for my monthly massage with Lynn Moody this morning. I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to it. I was stiff and sore in my lower back and Lynn made it feel much better, as usual.  I’m so lucky to have found her.

I’m feeling encouraged because Lynn said she could tell I’ve lost weight! I’ve lost 15-1/2 pounds so far, and two people have noticed: Lynn today and our wonderful hair stylist, Michael, yesterday. They might just be being nice, since they know my husband and I are trying to get the lard off, but they didn’t have to say ANYTHING.

Officially, I’ve lost 15.5 lbs and 17.3 inches.

I wish I could tell you that I feel so much more energetic, but I don’t. Maybe in another 15 lbs or so. I’m still old. I still have to push myself to get onto my elliptical trainer, do my yoga stretches, over-the-door shoulder pulley exercises, and weight exercise for my shoulders. I’ve added one new exercise called, “The Oyster” which is supposed to be a really good, effective exercise for people who are essentially pear-shaped, like me. It is supposed to strengthen whatever the muscles are that go horizontally around your core, rather than the ones that run vertically, as most abdominal exercises do.

The Oyster

You’re on your back. You pull up your legs so they’re bent. You come up with arms straight in front of you. You push your lower back into the floor as you do this. You come up so your hands are even with your legs and hold it for a count of 5. You do as many repetitions as you can.

I’m still waiting for the 0-6 Pack Abs DVD I bought. I’m standing on one foot and the other to get started with these because the exercises are especially for people like me, who need to strengthen the horizontal core muscles in the right way for my body type so that I don’t injure myself or make things worse, making my belly stick out MORE. These exercises are also supposed to lessen the pain in my back as I strengthen the core muscles, which makes sense.

I know, it’s hard to listen to me being impatient when I hate to exercise, but I’ll stay with it if I feel it’s beginning to help me.

I’m hoping that each time I get my hair cut or go for another massage, there will be noticeably less and less of me!

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Filed under Challenges, DIET!, Encouragement, exercise, getting the lard off, taking care of yourself

Warning: Contagious!

Charles Dickens via Lisa Bearnes Richey

It was suggested years ago that a good experiment was to consciously give a big smile to each person you met during the day and to see their reaction. I did this when my husband and I went to one of the shopping malls in Fort Smith.

I told my husband a corny joke. He groaned and I laughed, holding the smile as we passed several people. They smiled in return and my husband asked, “Who were they?” I replied. “I have no idea.” He said, “You don’t know them? Why were they smiling at you?”

This continued the whole time we were shopping. The thing that surprised me was that “I” felt good. My spirits were up. I was happy. I started the experiment – apparently brightening some other people’s’ lives – and had a happy day in return. I now remind myself to SMILE, even if I don’t feel like it.

A great lesson.

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Filed under Attitude, kindness


Smoke apparently was up much of the night catting around. She isn’t saying much, but plopped herself down on my calendar this morning and seems not inclined to be particularly sociable until further notice.


She just allowed me to pet her. We have two cats, Smoke and Abby, neither of whom purr worth spit. They seem really happy and spend a lot of time either beside us, being companionable, or sitting on us when they get the chance, often for hours if we’ll allow.

We adopted Smoke from our vet’s office. She was in a cage with some others when we brought one of the doggies in. I went over to the cage and she came right up, rubbing up against my hand and much as she could with the cage between us. My heart melted, but we already had a cat, plus two dogs, and really didn’t need another cat. That night I dreamed of her and named her Smoke in my dream. I told my husband. Being a ‘keeper’ as far as husbands are concerned, he agreed that we did, indeed, have room for another.

This is Abby. We adopted her through a newspaper ad, describing her as a ‘lap kitty.’ It actually took us a day and a half of trying to calm her down in one of our bathrooms before she warmed up to us. In the end, the ad was more than correct. She is now fat, sassy, and a wonderful cat. Smoke is the head cat, though, even though she was adopted second. Abby defers to her in all things.

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Gorgeous Glass – Take 14

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Siamese Cat – Pastel Painting – Karen Margulis

Karen Margulis –

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“Grass, Trees, Water, and a Thinking Bird”

“Grass, Trees, Water, and a Thinking Bird” – Paul Militaru Photography

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I Picked the Tomatoes, But…


Our heat index is supposed to be over 100 today, so I decided I would get out and see if we had any tomatoes I could bring in. As you can see, we had several nice looking ones.

The problem is that an ant nest was nearby and I apparently disturbed the sweet little things as I walked to the tomato planter. All of a sudden, my left ankle was stinging. I looked down to find a gazillion (give or take) ants on my shoe and ankle. I slapped them off as best I could and came in with the tomatoes I had gathered.

I immediately took off shoe and sock and put Benedryl cream all over my ankle. Now I’m watching my ankle get pink and puffy while it continues to sting and itch. There isn’t enough spray in the world to spray our whole yard (8+acres), but I’m going to make a concerted effort to spray all around the civilized part of the yard around the house and garden as soon as this subsides….

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Filed under Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds


I just went out to the garden to see what’s what. Our weather has been so bleeping hot that I haven’t spent as much time as I normally would.

My husband and I built a really nice raised bed square foot garden so that I could grow some of our veggies. We spent a lot of time on it, building 4 foot x 4 foot, 8 inches deep wooden boxes, lining the bottoms with plastic and mounting them on ‘tables’ of metal about my chest height so I wouldn’t have to bend over double or get up and down on my knees. We ran irrigation so that we can control the watering. We used Mel’s Mix, a combination of peat moss, vermiculite and as many different kinds of compost as we can find to create a really nice medium that plants love. It’s easy to plant, water, weed, and harvest.

Yet it was mostly wasted effort this year, due to our much cooler and wetter than normal spring followed by August weather in May. There is just no way that lettuce, broccoli and spinach can thrive in this heat. The plants practically boil in the ground.


As you can see, everything is bolting, wilting, or dying. Even the cantaloupe can’t handle this weather.

Today’s project is several sessions in order to clean everything out, harvesting the onions and leaving things ready to plant, hopefully if we have good fall weather. My greenhouse is 120 degrees inside, even with the automatic exhaust fan running continually, so I turned that off. I’ll concentrate on cleaning things up and trying to be ready for my next chance.

Meanwhile, we’ve been enjoying truly incredibly tasty tomatoes from the one planter in the nook created by the back of the house and our screened porch. They are YUMMY. If that’s all we’re going to get now, I’m still smiling.

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“White Ornamental Flower” – Paul Militaru Photography


“White Wild Roses” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Pencil Drawing – Take 29

Nick –

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92 Pound Greeting

This is Amber. She is 16 months old now, weighing 92 pounds at last weigh-in at the vet’s.  Words to describe her include, “energetic, sweet, exuberant, loving, boisterous, cute, unrelenting, playful, and ‘watch out!'”

Each morning I come down the stairs half asleep. My husband usually makes it downstairs before I do, letting doggies out and starting to feed animals. Sometimes Amber greets me at the bottom of the stairs. Other times in the living room, or the kitchen. I’ve learned to ‘brace for impact’ as we TRY to teach her not to dive-bomb us.

This morning she caught me as I was going to my recliner to retrieve the shoes and socks I had left there last night. She caught me from the side, causing me to almost fall onto the couch while I was trying to sit down in my chair. I took some time to love her, rubbing her all over and cooing to her, trying to get her to calm down. She’s like a volcanic eruption, though. It’s hard to contain all that love and enthusiasm.  (I held my feet up off the floor while greeting her, having learned the hard way that allowing her to step on my toes results in soreness and bruises.)


I got her calmed down, only to have to start over when I tried to stand up. She finally heard, “SIT!” and complied – just long enough for me to get completely up and around the chair. She circled around, over and over, tail wagging madly, as I made my way carefully to the kitchen. I finally got through one of the dog gates and closed it between us.

I AM smarter than this dog – I THINK.

We WILL get her to SIT and STAY one of these days ‘real soon now….’

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Family

What Will You Wish For?

“Dandelion Seed Blowing Away” – print by Terry Why –


“Dandelion” – yuliartstudio –

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Filed under Awe-Inspiring Photography

Owls with Seeds and Beads


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I’m Flexing

The Nutrisystem program encourages you to learn how to cook and eat in a reasonable fashion (unlike what we’ve been doing) by having us eat or cook one breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack on our own each week, preferably each on a different day during the week. They call these “FLEX” meals.

I really like this idea. We were on Nutrisystem before years ago before they added the flex meal idea (or frozen food choices) to their plan. We lost weight and then gradually put it back on because I went back to poor cooking habits from the past. This time they’re encouraging us to plan our flex meals for the week and work this idea into our new lifestyle.

So far, I’m having two problems:

  1. I’ve prepared a couple of flex dinners from their Leaf Recipes section. We each ate a serving of it and I froze the rest in individual portions so we can pull them out, nuke ’em, and eat.  This is complicated by the fact that I’m eating “dinner” for ‘lunch’ at the counselor’s suggestion, trying to work my way out of a plateau on my weight loss. “I” pull out a flex dinner for lunch one day a week, but my husband either doesn’t think about it or the idea doesn’t appeal to him for HIS dinner.  We can only eat ONE of these flex dinners per week, so the ‘reruns’ are lasting weeks and weeks!
  2. When I cook completely on my own,  or we get something out, we gain weight back. Example, Sunday evening I cooked two 4 oz steaks. With them we had little bitty potatoes with a little bit of butter and no salt, plus cut up fresh tomatoes. I thought it was a good dinner and my husband thought it was ‘wonderful,’ but we were both up on the scales Monday morning. Last night we went bowling with friends and had a scoop of real ice cream afterwards as our “flex snack” for the week. We were both up AGAIN this morning. Friday we’re due to eat our flex breakfast (or lunch) at a restaurant with the “Breakfast Bunch.” This gain isn’t only for one day, either. It seems to take the whole week to get back to where we were.

My first reaction is to quit eating the flex meals because they’re messing us up. But then the more grown up part of me realizes that this is the whole point of the program. We’re supposed to be learning what a ‘portion’ is, how to choose foods more wisely when we’re out, and incorporating the ‘new’ healthier eating style into our lives as a regular thing.

I’ll probably get online and talk to a counselor about this, since I’m determined to learn the lesson and make it a larger and larger part of the way we live. Right now I’m frustrated, but hopefully a nice person at NS can guide me on a better path.


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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, DIET!, getting the lard off, Healthy Eating, quality of life, taking care of yourself

“Ornamental Purple Flower”

“Ornamental Purple Flower” – Paul Militaru Photography

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“Dandelion Heads” – Watercolor

“Dandelion Heads” –

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When Wood Comes Alive – Take 19


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