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Bull Dozing

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I was standing at the kitchen window on a quiet afternoon in Camelot (rural Virginia) when my daily impulse was to do a deliberate scan of the mountain view. Fading light enhanced the Blue Ridge Mountains and then my eyes automatically came around to a serene sight down by the old horse shed in our “back yard”.

I noticed some grazing deer and just beyond them loomed a strange black imposing image.

The image was also grazing but looked out of place since it was a HUGE MONSTROUS BLACK THING! And it was slowly moving in my direction.

I quickly determined it was a big black bull!

Now, if you were to ask me how I knew this was a bull there would be no answer since I have never come face to face with such a creature. It was certainly not your run-o-the-mill cow. And Bill also agreed it had to be a bull.

But what to do about a bull in your back yard!? Fortunately, we know the name of the owner of the pastoral scene across from our hill to her hill. Usually the view is of her smaller sized non-threatening cows. The owner is a very nice young LADY and she answered my call right away. She said she would send out “the boys” to determine how her bull might have escaped.

And sure enough, as the sun began to set and darkness arrived, there came two ATVs carrying the boys. I hollered “Hi!” and they hollered back and I told them where I had last seen the monster. Such excitement for one evening huh?

The next day there was a text from a neighbor who said she had learned there were TWO escaped bulls. One had been found and the other still missing.

Thankfully I have Elsa-the-dog for protection.

Such is the excitement of country life in rural Virginia, especially gazing out your kitchen window.

Well, nothing else really happened after the ATV’s hummed around and all we could see were their headlights. And now we are assuming both bulls are back on their own turf and perhaps dozing from their night out.

Such is Life

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I never expected to be skipping along or roller skating or even running from a potential bear attack after hip replacement surgery. I did hope however

  • to be more mobile
  • to be able to carry laundry from the hamper to the washing machine
  • to get down on the floor to play with Elsa-the-Dog
  • to stand long enough to peel six cucumbers for cucumber salad and not feel exhausted
  • to walk without a limp or a gimp
  • to wear pretty little shoes to accentuate my pretty little feet.
  • And more.

Such is life however, that after a total right hip replacement done July 16th none of those wishes came true.

Oh, the right hip is pain-free! Let me tell you, it is a miracle of modern medicine. I consider it my “good leg” now! Kudos to my cute young surgeon who did an exemplary job.

I LOVE my right hip now. And I LOVE my cute young surgeon even though I wouldn’t recognize him on the street.

The problem though is my LEFT leg! The BigFoot leg. The one that had been causing problems since 2015.

Maybe in the process of preparing for the right hip replacement surgery, I forgot about BigFoot?

And now that the right hip is happy, my brain needed to send out reminders that all is not well on the other side.

At any rate, I am still gimpy.

The family doc said he is thrilled at my progress “considering your age and underlying factors.” Not flattering but probably true.

Why didn’t anyone warn me about the great bowl of perilous problems that arrive uninvited with the onslaught of age?

Ah well. “Such is life,” said my once aging Mom who transferred all her wisdom to me except her secrets for aging with a smile.

I will see my cute young surgeon for the last time this month. I met him once before surgery when we talked for about 20 minutes. Then I saw him through a haze as I was awakening from the operation. The extent of our conversation at that time was him saying, ‘You have a brand new hip.” He had a mask on so I am not sure it was really him.

“HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR SURGEON?” MY FAMILY DOCTOR ONCE ASKED. “I DON’T KNOW”, I SAID. “HOW WOULD I KNOW IN JUST 20 MINUTES?”

The next and last visit (unless I get knee surgery on BigFoot) will be an opportunity for another 20 minute conversation. WilI I then recognize my cute young surgeon on the street? Doubtful.

But the goal now is to walk normally. Bill went out and bought me a full length mirror to lean on a door at the end of a long hall. I can see myself coming if not going and try to correct my gait.

“Practice makes perfect” but Bill says ,”You still walk like a duck!”

Such is life and the miracles of modern medicine.

The 3 grands cooking

Complete with dogs and grandgirls and son and daughter-in-law, our house became a home again after nearly two years of no visitors due to the Covid-19 virus restrictions. I still think of the three grands as children but here they were, all gainfully employed and taking time from their busy schedules to meet up again and comfort this Grammy with the new hip.

The youngest grand-girl arrived with some beautiful flowers that promptly set off an allergic reaction. The middle grand put them out on the deck so we could see them through the glass doors but not get close to the pollen.

There were also Dove chocolate bites – no allergic reaction there. And a bandana for Elsa!

Then they cooked and made it a double celebration. Not only were we reunited after such a long time, but they also wanted to celebrate Bill’s upcoming birthday making a ham and noodles dish he loves. After telling them the story of his Mom making apple streudle, they looked that up and made that too.

While I was in surgery and Bill was biting his nails waiting, our son and daughter-in-law were taking care of Elsa and the house. I came home to Emmy’s famous chicken noodle soup and other fabulous dishes that kept her in the kitchen. and waiting on me “hand and foot.”

Son, Corky kept the house together, fixing things and comforting Elsa, who now loves him back and is pining for him. Though she kept up a steady stream of barking, she seems to be missing all the chaos.

Our middle grandgirl brought her GoldenDoodle 8 month old puppy (named Indie) who we decided to keep separated from Elsa. Elsa is a rescue and we were not really sure how she would interact. Fortunately Indie and the family fell in love with the pool, the weather was good and everybody was happy. I am not allowed in a pool of course so I watched from the kitchen window.

Daughter-in-Law, Emmy
Son, Corky

I always envied folks their family reunions but never suspected there would be one of my own. We are a relatively small unit but how lovely to know how committed we all are to each other and how much love we share.

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Well, tis done. A week ago I got a whole new hip. The surgeon who was there when I opened my eyes told me so. And the whole episode was a kind of strange other-worldly experience.

PRE-SURGERY I stayed in a hotel in a handicap room with a “roll-in” shower.

I figured if I could roll in, I could walk in.

Not so.

I managed to slip on the very slick floor and thought I landed close to the bad hip. Then dragged myself to a carpeted room, and decided since there was no intense pain anywhere I could stay mum about the fall and go forward with the operation in the morning.

And that is what happened.

All went well in the morning including anesthesia with numbing of the back and me asleep in a flash with no nausea or any distress upon awakening!

But the saga went on.

It was agreed I would spend one night in the hospital. I was off to my own little room and bath and right next to that was a man who began a long diatribe of groaning, moaning, swearing, praying, and screaming. With colorful language and an actor’s ability to project, I began wishing relief for him via a sedative.

The nurses on the ward were in a constant huddle whilst taking abusive language as he was shouting, “Please, PLEASE, PLEASE! DO SOMETHING. I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE IT. HELP ME!!! OHHHHHHH, AAAAARGH, OWWWW, JESUS, DEAR GOD”, etc.

His language was so colorful and the nurses were so distraught that it became like an exciting audio story with dramatic sound effects.

Through this drama, nurses were still tending to other patients and would come in to check on me and would provide updates. Some said there was no reason for him to be carrying on like that, and how they were trying to get an on-call surgeon to come in. It was around 4:30 AM when I learned the Moaning Man was finally given morphine and was asleep which could not be said of the other patients on the ward.

The Moaning Man turned out to be a blessing because he actually kept my mind off my hip and on him.

I have been home a week since then and doing the exercises, walking inside with a walker, being pampered by Bill, son, daughter-in-law, and my three grandgirls.

All seems to be going well with more news to come as I progress from a slow gimpy gait to racehorse status.

So, how was your week?

A Safe Place

Elsa, our quirky rescue dog is terrified of loud noises. She is convinced the sky must be falling and she is the target.

It is thundering as I try to describe this shaking, shivering fur ball who is hiding in the well of my desk. At least it is walled on two sides and make it three with the wall behind, and the desk top makes for an igloo or cave-like spot. Then there is the added comfort of my knees for human reassurance.

I only hope there will be good weather next week during my hip surgery. There are no worries over hospital equipment or expertise, but the weather?

The weather can make or break Elsa while I am away.

But believe it or not, our son and daughter-in-law are traveling thousands of miles to be here – yep – for Elsa! The paranoid pup does truly love our son but I exaggerate a little. Corky and Emmy are actually coming to help wherever they see a need. How wonderful is that?

The skies are quieter now and so is Elsa.

The storm has passed and she is in her safe place.

Elsa in her safe place under my desk!
Elsa when the sun shines!

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Hospitals are for other people.

Hospitals are o.k. if you are young and strong.

But now in a golden year and facing a hospital visit soon, I am grinning and bearing the notion that I am now one of those others.

Putting my right hip in for removal and replacement sounds easy peazy these days but the preparations and advance appointments are daunting, especially when a “post-op appointment” is scheduled for 3 days before the surgery.

Good thing my golden year left me with a golden eye that is able to catch errors!

Then there were two sets of lab work (in better words – “blood letting”.)

The first blood tests went well.

The second was conducted by a novice who, in an effort to collect seven vials, left my left arm a rainbow of black, blue, yellow and red bruises as evidence of cruel and unusual punishment.

My tests are clear though.

The Dentist says I am good to go.

The General Practitioner says so too. And after he proclaimed a clean bill of health he actually gave me a big hug and wished me luck. This had the dual effect of making me smile in the knowledge my doctor of over 20 years really cares and/or making me worry that he is secretly afraid he will never see me again.

Speaking of never seeing me again, I happened to be scanning Google stuff on surgeries and came across the little known fact that more people die in surgeries performed on Fridays! Wouldn’t you know it? I am scheduled on a Friday!

But, going on the premise that I will be the standout survivor of a Friday massacre,

I am practicing breathing into a gadget, doing simple exercises, trying to walk, and

the pre-op appointments that were scheduled correctly are now almost over.

Note: BigFoot is still affecting the Left extremity but sends regards. I keep mentioning to the orthopedic experts how BigFoot started over on the left ankle, swelled, moved around and is still capricious. But no one in the medical establishment pays a bit of attention. Evidently surgeons specialize in only one thing at a time and BigFoot will just have to wait.

Well the day is drawing near!

Please wish me luck my friends in the blog-us-fear.

There will surely be stories to tell when this is all over.

A Day in a Lifetime

Sixty plus years of marriage is a lot to celebrate, but once again Bill and I are recalling the “I Do’s” spoken to a justice of the peace so long ago. We wanted to elope but Mom said that would break my father’s heart, so we stayed in town and Dad cried anyway as he predicted Bill would leave me as soon as he graduated from college.

Dad is the one in the background of our wedding picture, hands on hips, predicting doom.

Dad was so wrong.

Because here we are, still together.

And even through self-quarantining for over a year trying to avoid Covid-19, we have still not run out of conversation.

And even through my BigFoot and now arthritic hip, we are still a dedicated pair.

Life has thrown us some curve balls but we stuck together anyway and we still celebrate

the good times and the growing family and the good friends, those who still linger and those who are gone.

It was a day in a lifetime, our wedding day, but it was only

a preface to a long story.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

We all have our little habits that die hard. I tend to rub my nose when I am uncomfortable or bored or I just need to get out or move. I kind of whack my nose and have been doing that since childhood. Used to suck my thumb too but that habit had to be terminated.

But did you ever meet a dog with an unbreakable habit? I am still discovering little clues about Elsa’s personality.

Elsa is our not-so-little Rescue Dog. She used to be lift-able but no longer. Now she is well fed (maybe overfed?) as Bill and I continue to hand out halved dog treats plus plus plus. Like in the film/book Eat, Pray, Love, I have begun calling Elsa “Groceries.”

Back to bad habits that die hard.

Elsa thinks flying insects are fair game. When in the outside world she lurks, stalks, jumps, and snaps into midair and sometimes actually nabs a bumble bee! Oh Mighty Dog, Mighty Hunter!

The problem is last week she swallowed one live!

We tried to estimate how long a living bee in the system of a semi-small dog could survive but came to no conclusions.

Watching Elsa provided some explanation though.

  • First, she plunged her nose in and out much like a harem dancer thrusting chin forward and back.
  • Then she coughed a hollow kind of deep cough.
  • Follow all that by an insane need to go out again
  • Followed by a desperate need to eat grass.
  • After consuming about 3 cups of grass, back inside for a restless nap filled with barking dreams,
  • Then repeat all of the above plus
  • Finally she began dropping her bottom to the ground again and again and again.

Can you trace the movement of the poor struggling bee trying to maneuver through a semi-small dog’s system?

I was beside myself with worry. Could it be something she ate? Like a live bumble bee? The vet was closed of course. I made up my mind to wait to the first open business day and I would take her to the vet.

After a bland dinner (chicken and rice) and a lot of in and out of the house, Elsa finally looked peaceful. Vet no longer necessary.

I have tried to tell Elsa (to no avail) that killing bumble bees is a terrible habit that has to stop. However, I now have a dog who is a serial bumble bee killer.

This morning she was on the deck on high alert. One of those great big flying predators was daring the mighty hunter.

I screamed, “NO! Don’t eat bugs!” and this time she listened but she is refreshed, happy, wagging and hungry.

And the world is full of bumble bees. Well one less after this eyewitness of the bumble bee murder.

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

Somewhere in the journey from making childhood mud pies to adult culinary disasters there emerged a gigantic love for cream toppings.

I simply love anything like Heavy Cream, Whipped Cream, Sour Cream, Clotted Cream, and even fake cream in aerosol containers.

And then whilst traveling in France through my job taking printers overseas I was served something called Creme Fraiche. It is now my love over all the others – even whipped cream. Clotted cream comes close (I had that in England at the Hyde Park Hotel in London for high tea). What a job I had huh? I must admit the work for a large printing association introduced me to the world.

Back to Creme Fraiche (pronounced Krem-fresh). If you have not heard of it, it is a luxurious topping for just about anything you can think of. Fruit first of course since they are a natural pairing, but even meat will be enhanced by this delightfully smooth almost-whipped-cream-but-better-topping.

I make my own and have a recipe that is probably long gone and mostly forgotten and maybe my recipe isn’t even for Creme Fraiche after all. But I tell people it is. And it’s so good it is guaranteed to add to my (your) reputation as a gourmet cook!

And here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

One Cup of Sour Cream

One Cup of Heavy Cream

Yep! That’s it!

Equal to Equal. How hard is that?

Now mix the two in a glass dish until well blended. Then allow the mixture to sit uncovered for four or more hours until everything is smooth and of a non-runny texture. No need to stir. No added ingredients. Just wait.

When the mixture is just the right consistency – not runny but thick and creamy like sour cream, you can cover and refrigerate for use as you wish.

And as you use your newly found luxurious deliciousness be sure to go back and spread the top of the topping out so it is smooth and with no pockets to get watery.

Note: Now I know most Creme Fraiche recipes only include heavy cream and buttermilk and mostly for longer hours. I never have buttermilk on hand but I do always have sour cream. And finding heavy cream at the market is sometimes a challenge but I can always find heavy whipping cream. And that’s all it takes.

Enjoy!

A Reverse Tornado

We hired a painting contractor to brighten up the exterior of the house we have lived in for over 30 years. Much like my face, the old cedar siding was severely faded and in need of an uplift.

Little did we know there would be a fleet of ten young college students who came to our rescue.

They were a well trained team of experts, each with his or her own specialty and each with his or her own assigned area.

These were girls and boys from all over the country who have opted to stay in town for the summer months, and I suppose this is a good way to earn extra dollars.

I forgot how much energy and strength there resides in the young.

Suddenly there was a hoard of energetic people all over the house.

A port-a-potty was brought in – well, not “in” – but out and available for their use.

Then the mob came with all their ladders and tools and strength and determination and began by power washing.

And in 3 days the house was stained and looks better now than when it was brand new!

Woosh!

Thirty years of fading and grime erased just like that.

It was like a reverse tornado that left us house occupants scratching our heads in wonder.

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