Monday, August 22, 2011

A Gardening Update

A few fruits of our labor
In recent years I tried growing a few vegetables in our back yard but usually lost the crop due to the neglect that comes from being away a couple of weeks each July or from some destructive (but industrious) squirrels. This summer has been even busier than usual so I feared that another attempt at victory gardening would only end with me muttering in agonized frustration as the squirrels "high fived"in the treetops once more.

But this year things have turned out differently and we are literally enjoying the fruits of my labor. You might remember my post earlier this year (found here) telling about my spring gardening endeavors (and the battle with storms, not squirrels). There are lots of links in that post that tell about self-watering container gardening and where to buy them or how to make them using empty 5-gallon pails, plastic deli containers, and PVC pipe.

I did both. I bought one and I made a couple of more. This summer we successfully grew
  • broccoli
  • leaf lettuce
  • green peppers
  • tomatoes
  • sunflowers, and
  • green beans
in our containers. We also attempted to grow cucumbers but they haven't produced anything beyond their pretty yellow flowers.

The self-watering containers (which is somewhat of a misnomer: you still must add water, just not as often) took care of the problem that I have keeping things watered during those weeks of church camp in hot July. But what about the squirrel problem? And a problem it is! I have personally witnessed them in the early morning pulling green tomatoes off the vines, tasting them, saying "yuck" (or so I assume they're saying based upon their actions), and throwing them down repeatedly until they've stripped the vines bare! In order to put a stop to such wasteful behavior I have begun covering my planters each night.

We put a wire cage around the box that holds the tomatoes and tied the plants to it with cut up nylon stockings. Each night I drape 1/4 inch mesh cicada nylon netting over the whole shebang. (My garden wears nylons more frequently during the summer than I do.) I remove the netting in the morning after Pepper starts stirring around the yard. (Any earlier and the squirrels get too brazen.)

It doesn't seem to hurt anything if I forget to take the netting off in the morning. It's only if I forget to put it on at night that things can get seriously injured!

This morning when I went out to uncover the containers there was a praying mantis on the netting covering the 5-gallon bucket of bean plants. I didn't bother him because I wanted him to stick around (get it?) and eat any aphids or other harmful insects.

Some of the green beans and the bucket can be seen in the picture below. Since I was merely experimenting this year I didn't bother to camouflage the buckets. Maybe next year I'll paint mine to make them aesthetically pleasing.

These are just a few of the specimens that represent the ripe produce we've been harvesting lately. The self-watering containers combined with netting them at night has resulted in great tasting and inexpensive home-grown vegetables.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making A Grand Entrance

When I got up this morning my front door looked like this from the outside:

And this is what it looked like inside the house:

Late this afternoon this is what my front door looked like from outside:

And on the inside:

In review, from this:

To this:

Oh, yeah!!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Because Some Of You Have Asked

Photo Credit

And perhaps others wish to do so.

(Males readers - assuming there are some - might want to go check the stats on your favorite sports team or something. There will probably be "female problems" mentioned and you know how you feel about those.)

Still here? Okay, then.

During my annual check-up I answered the questions that the nurse asked. Just routine, right? Apparently not so much. One caused her to quickly exit the room. Was it something I said? Evidently. All of a sudden I had the sinking feeling like I was the captain of the Titanic who'd just received word that the ship was entering iceberg infested waters. "Okay, that's not good," I thought, "but probably no real danger either."

Ha! Ha! Oh, I am so naive. Having successfully navigated through my years of female adulthood with only minor difficulties charted in my logbook I had assumed my ship would arrive at its port of destination unharmed. Suddenly now it looked like a good idea to change my name to Molly Brown!

Before I really knew what hit me, I was sent to radiology for an ultrasound! The technician told me I would hear something within 3 days. When I hadn't heard anything in a week I began to believe that all the fuss was over nothing. When they finally did call me on Day 11 we were out to lunch with Dan and Lisa (who were visiting for a few days) and I was expecting the routine "everything is normal" spiel.

But that's not what she said. I asked her to repeat the message, several times as it turned out, and not just because of the noise in the Cracker Barrel.

The ultrasound showed things that aren't supposed to be there. Sadly, this rare lunch opportunity was somewhat marred by the news. And some of my male companions who normally wouldn't know much about my "female problems" (that would be The Bear and Dan) received an explanation, too.

A couple of days later I was back at the doctor's office for a more complete explanation. There is a small mass on my ovary. They don't know for sure what it is (the report said just that) but the doctor believes that it could be a cyst.

I was glad Pastor Dad was with me that day because when she started throwing around the "c" word (cancer, not cyst) my brain stalled for a few moments even though the doctor kept right on talking in encouraging tones. They pinched me with a needle to bring me back to reality. We were told that the results of the blood tests normally take 24 hours.

It was 5 days later when we were notified of the results and we were at church camp at the time. If nothing else I've learned that my doctor's office has the uncanny ability of calling me when I cannot fully process information due to situational overload. But I did finally figure out most of what I was told including the fact that I needed to make an appointment for more tests. So now I know that my CA-125 (the ovarian cancer marker test) was low and that my FSH level (the test to tell if I'm post-menopausal) was moderately high. This was a good news-bad news scenario. It means that the THING is most likely not cancerous. But it also means it has no way of going away on it's own. And go away it must!

I've got another ultrasound scheduled for early September. If it hasn't grown surgery will be scheduled at everyone's convenience. (Is there really such a thing as a convenient time to have surgery?)

So pray that there isn't any change. Unless of course you want to pray that it disappears. I have no objection to Divine intervention!

I'm not currently in a lot of pain (I'm pretty tough) although I was having some bad backaches that I thought were kidney related prior to receiving the diagnosis, but other than that I'm feeling fine. Pains due to "female problems" are just par for the course for me.

If you have more questions, just ask and I'll get back with you. It might be in 3 days. Or it might be in 11. But answer it I will!

Monday, August 1, 2011

When I Have the Time

I'll tell you "How I Spent My Summer non-Vacation" (and what a humdinger of an essay that would be!). I'll probably need to break it up into manageable segments for the benefit of both the readers and this writer. I might even begin with a post entitled The Books of May 2011.

Yes, I really am that far behind.