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Yesterday I actually drove to downtown Lexington, Virginia all by myself. I parked in a nicely arranged parking lot with stairs at the end, and went for a walk. And then I climbed up one stair and back down and then two stairs and down and then THREE steps up and down.

Talk about self congratulatory pride! I felt like Rocky!

And then I walked on level ground for about 20 more minutes.

HURRAH!

Big Foot complained a bit but we managed to ignore all that. “I am woman. I am strong. I am invincible!”

Of course walking in a parking lot is not too exciting. There are certainly not many photo ops, but the sun was shining yesterday with a cool little nip in the air, and the traffic was nil, and I took my trusty cane for balance. That little parking lot is now my personal training track!

In the good old days around 1998 the goal was to walk 10,000 steps. But my pedometers don’t work anymore. I suspect it is because the goal is now low low low! What pedometer would be caught displaying 150 steps anyway?

So out with the pedometers.

Now the goal is just some time moving….. any time moving….. just moving.

Today I feel pressure to enter a blog post.

What about all that beneficial walking?

To do or not to do? That is the question.

Walking is more important really.

But blogging is a good excuse not to do what I set out to do yesterday.

I promise I will start walking again tomorrow.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Peace and quiet are what I yearn for,

even more so in the golden years.

Instead the phone is ringing “off the hook”

with fake people scams and phishing,

so who has time to read a book?

Yesterday FedX and UPS came twice,

and sent the dog into a fit of barking

calculated to excite.

And others came to dig a trench and add a cable

for high speed internet to bring us up-to-date

that sent the dog a-running and a-barking

and the phone kept a-ringing

so peace and quiet have to wait.

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I love Spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. ‘Tis really the season for beautiful color and the clean clear beauty of nature’s reawakening. Even the deer begin boasting their new babies. And I feel happy and productive and eager to think about planting more flowers. But thinking is not doing and since I am still a slow motion walker waiting for a hip replacement I have not injected myself into the wild.

Photo taken by Daughter-in-Law, Emmy – Virginia Redbud

Spring is is also a time of imminent threat from the wild. Whether you go outside to feel your toes in the grass or not.

Three days ago I felt an itchy place on my back just below the left shoulder. A hot shower helped and I thought nothing of it.

Two days ago, the itch was back so I took a look with the help of a hand mirror and saw a red place with a slightly dark center. I asked Bill to take a look with a magnifying glass and he did. He said, there was nothing there…. maybe a little raised mole. So I put some anti-itch gel on it and went to a peaceful slumber.

Yesterday the itch was back in full force and when I looked at it with the hand mirror there was a pronounced dark center, much larger. Bill took a look too and said “it” (the dark center) was kind of hanging loose so he removed it. In my opinion it was a well fed deer tick! And I was immediately off to the doctor.

Results:

  1. It was probably a tick. An adult deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. There are no charts or photos I know of that show a well fed deer tick as opposed to a hungry one.
  2. The doctor said if you check yourself all over each day and you happen to take off a tick, no medication is necessary.
  3. Because I came in early, I only had to have two antibiotics immediately… no more.
  4. Evidently, if you have a tick bite and remove it within 34 hours, you will not need meds.

I am still confused over all of this.

Seems to me, you should report a tick bite no matter what. My niece contracted Lyme and suffered with it for many years.

Anyway, in addition to gimpy walking I now have the remains of a bite on my back. The culprit escaped a plastic bag I swear I sealed. He was a major escape artist.

The doctor’s answer for this latter issue was to put a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover in the bag with the tick. He will then suffocate and die but his body will stay in tact for identification! More than I want to know.

I dislike ticks and other bugs, but do I hate them enough to become a wanton murderer?

‘Tis the season all right.

Spring has sprung in all its glory.

But there is a downside to living in paradise.

Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

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Sometimes I feel like Rapunzel or Snow White from a mythical fairytale. Only I have short white hair and never sleep less than 7 or 8 hours even if there were a pea under the mattress. There is no wolf either, nor 7 dwarfs, nor 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or even one.

The fact is though, I may have kissed a frog who turned into a wizard who freed me from a melancholy spell where I was comatose and jailed in a tower indefinitely (with not enough hair to weave a long braid to escape) and only one way to break the spell – a froggy/turned into a prince kiss.

Phew! Now there was a long sentence!

But all along it was the Covid-19 corona virus that sent me into solitary confinement and a stupor for over a year. Well, not entirely solitary. Bill was here trying to be the frog prince all along. But it was an evil spell for sure and much like when all the members of the kingdom were caused to fall into a deep sleep and then nothing in the kingdom worked.

Now suddenly the frog became prince and we are free! The spell seems to have been broken. I have been given a twice injected magic elixir that rendered me immune. And even Bill, the froggy prince, has had his magic elixir injections and will soon be immune too.

People are escaping,

meeting,

dining,

talking

and sharing almost like pre-cursed days in the happy kingdom.

Yes, there is joy in the kingdom but there are remnants of the spell threatening to reconstitute and reignite.

And as I jump for joy (well, not really since I have a bad hip) and begin to harbor ideas of entertaining friends and family, there is a dark foreboding that this Once-Upon-a-Time fairytale story may not be over until it is well, over.

Thus, since he is handy and immune, I am keeping the froggy prince around to guarantee awakening.

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