Gettin’ Much mo betta!

Saturday AM and all’s well. I made another trip to the doc yesterday and they broke loose with some meds that are supposed to relax my inner tubes. Oila, this AM the tubes were so relaxed, I started passing some tiny black flecks – a touch of red, but certainly everything positive. Zero pain today. So unless something happens, the next scheduled event is a trip to the X-ray machine on the 23rd and to the doc the next day.

We’re at the “what do we do with it all” stage of the garden. We learned that if you take a bag of zucchini to the pharmacy and offer it for free, you can create a stampede. The tomatoes are filling window sills and we’re not but a day or two away from the first (of many) pot of sauce to be frozen. Several eggplants approaching maturity and I can already see lots of excess forming there. I guess the only place where our cup will remain empty, will be green beans. The deer are systematically taking it out a patch at a time. I’m a little surprised the okra seems to be untouched. That’s the youngest crop going, only a few inches tall, so you would expect that to be the tenderest munching. Okra, like squash and cucumbers, have little hair like protrusions all along the stems so maybe that affords a measure of protection. Even tomato stems can be “hairy” whereas beans and sweet potatoes are smooth. Just guessing.

Hate it that we’re missing the graduation. This is the first family graduation we’ve missed in 50 years or at least since such events have been happening. I went up on his first campus visit and it just seems wrong that I’m not there as he bids his fond farewells. Wimp!

Special exercise after procedure

This is the first time in years and years that the whole mother’s day thing has fallen on my shoulders. I know there’s a big brunch event being held in St. Louis with most of the family – will pictures of that be enough? For sure it would be just fine for father’s day, but mother’s day, that would probably be a big NO. You have to know that every restaurant will be having big events, which means big crowds and fixed menues. She won’t like that (me either).

So, what I supposedly read after the procedure were directions as to another procedure to do at home. Doesn’t make sense that they would explain anything to me after applying pain meds and waking me up from the general. Must not make sense to them either since they made Nancy sign the papers indicating that she was on top of everything. Which she was since she asked me first thing this morning if I needed to do the special exercises. I had no idea what she was talking about until I read the papers. No wonder I put it out of my mind. I have to:

1. drink two 8 oz glasses of water then wait a half an hour in case the water causes nausea. Next,
2. position myself on a 30 to 45 degree incline, face down to 30 minutes. Think about the mechanics of that. I broke out the trig tables and understood right away that this was a bad thing.
3. After that’s done, drink another 8 oz of water.
4. Repeat this sometime later in the day except instead of inclining face down, have the bad side up.

I do remember this same guy telling me “you can drink too much water”. As far as I’m concerned, following this procedure guarantees I’ll be drinking too much water.

What I should have asked is whether I can take a pain pill after the exercise even if the pain is for back stress and not because of the exercise. The surgical center was full of people going through the same procedure – some younger, some older, some looking to be in otherwise great health and some that looked like this exercise thing would kill them.

All done, maybe

Whatever ate the sweet potatoes, found a patch of beans. I’ starting to think insect because only the leaves are eaten, not the stems. If I could divert them over to the zucchini where our cup over runneth, I sure would. I’m turning my attention to slugs. I haven’t seen any but these are nocturnal feeders so you really don’t see them. In Utah I used an old tried and true remedy that worked just fine so I’ll give it a shot here. You put a pie pan in the ground so that the rim is level with the ground and fill it with beer. The slugs are attracted to the party and crawl in for a big drink. Not sure if they drown or die from liver issues but really don’t care.

The kidney procedure is later today and I’ll tag the results to the end of this posting. Pain is not an issue – an oxycodone every 6 hours, and only when the pain has returned, has that part of it totally under control. I have two side affects – dry mouth and itches. This is dry mouth like I haven’t experienced since I quit over doing it on scotch – not sure even then. Definitely old cotton mouth! And the itch is a full body experience. I’m not supposed to drink anything until after the procedure but I can wash out my mouth so it’s bearable. No restrictions that I’m aware of on scratching my itches – some I can’t scratch in public, and some I can’t reach without a mechanical aid – like a wall corner.

Results – The worst part of the procedure was that it started an hour later than forecast. Other than that, nothing – no pain, no discomfort, nothing bad. It’s an external procedure where a sack of liquid is placed up against the target area and then somehow stimulated with low frequency sound/vibrations. The reason you’re put under general anesthetic is that you have to remain very still through the whole thing, not because it’s painful.

It’s 16 hours since the blast and nothing has happened. No pain, no blood, no fragments passing. He might have given me a time table of what to expect, when, but I was probably too doped up to remember. I’ll check with the head nurse here at 234 then call his office this AM to be sure what’s happening is typical. I really wasn’t encouraged at the Monday office visit that this procedure was going to work because he delved right into the”if it doesn’t work” discussion. My guess is it will be more X-rays and then a move to plan B – as yet undefined but something about a basket. I did ask if I’d be up and ready for a long road trip Thursday and they all thought that wasn’t such a good idea – possible but they wouldn’t recommend it.

Kidney Boulder

The party was great. We ended up with 20 people and left over barbecue. Lots of snick snacks, desserts, and fine adult beverages. I started feeling kind of punky before the festivities officially started at noon and was downright hurting by mid-afternoon so my hosting skills were seriously compromised. By 7PM I was in the emergency room. My kidney stone problem, which I thought was behind me, turned into a kidney boulder problem. The CAT scan showed an 8mm stone,which doesn’t sound like much, but the nursed assured me was a “mess” and the doc on duty described as serious. He said all my kidney blood measurements were off the charts and one of my kidneys was double size. They consulted with my urology guy who said to let it go until Monday at 8:30 AM, popping percosets, or until I started throwing up with a high fever. Nice. The plan is to undergo a litho something or other, which is a sonic IED to break the boulder into gravel – which will flow out with pee and blood for a couple of days. All this on top of the deer eating the sweet potatoes. Needless to say the Dallas trip scheduled for Monday is off. I’ll call the University of Missouri after Monday and have them reschedule the graduation until I’m better able to travel. If they have a problem with that, Nancy will probably fly up and represent us both.

Other than that, nothing going on here.

Garden disaster

Disaster strikes the garden. I went out this morning and did the normal garden walk through. Everything seemed just fine until I came to the sweet potato patch. What first struck me was the appearance of bright green stems that almost looked like worms instead of the expected lush, green/purple leaves. There were a dozen plants planted in two rows about 18″ apart with 2′ spacing between the plants. Not a leaf. Nothing else was bothered which, I guess, is the good news. No way this was an insect attack so it was either a rabbit or a deer. Interestingly, the sweets were growing adjacent to regular white potatoes and those were untouched.


On the plus side, the pole beans growing in the corn seems to be doing just what it’s supposed to – wrap around the corn and grow, grow, grow. The corn is approaching 5′ tall and popping out silk. I’m guessing we’ll see signs of ears forming within the next couple of weeks. So far, so good.

Yesterday’s party at Joey’s was fun. Denis, Judy, Chris, Mike and the kids, – good food, good company, good wine – what else is there. Got a good look at the progress on the boat. One hull is taking shape nicely, as the pictures show. When that one’s finished, it’s removed from the frames and the second hull started. I didn’t measure it but I think I recall that the hull is 32′ long and about 4′ across (beam). The distance between the hulls is roughly 10′ so that makes the total finished width to be on the order of 18′. I was particularly interested in seeing the basic building material which is structural foam panels covered with layers of fiberglass cloth. The foam, called structural foam, is only 1/2″thick but denser than I expected. Each layer of glass cloth only adds a few mils so even with 5 layers, two on the inside, three on the outside, the end result is still quite thin and light. On the outside, a thin layer of a micro bubble filler finishes and smooths the surface for painting. It’s really looking good and as usual, I’m impressed that anyone would undertake such a project in the back yard.

And the winner of the “who hires Tommy” contest is……………………….Grand Forks ND. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Party time

The social calendar is boiling hot now. We have lunch with the Spelmans at Joey’s Thursday; Nancy and Ali are coming on Friday from SC; and a barbecue at the lake on Saturday with all the Florida Carbones, the Brueggemans, and the Spelmans – we’re estimated the head count at 20. Then Monday morning, bright and early, we get on the road for the trip to Missouri, via Dallas. And there are more trips on the May calendar for Nancy and me independently – she heads west for Utah and I’m considering joining Tom and Simon on a trip to NC.

Looks like no concerns at all about Tommy having a job after graduation. He now has a couple of solid offers in his pocket and is still receiving inquiries about potential jobs. All you hear on the news is how bad the job market is for new grads but it doesn’t seem to extend to him.

Starting to see the first of the green beans – not ready to pick but forming for sure. Ditto the Armenian cucumbers; ditto green peppers; ditto eggplant. And get this, a few of the corn stalks are showing the beginning of some silk. The bad news is that we will be leaving for a week to attend Tommy’s graduation in Missouri. What makes the timing even worse is that George will be in Miami the same week having tests run for his heart valve implant. I put a timer on the soaker hose watering system I installed a couple weeks back so that I shouldn’t have to worry about the garden drying out. What I really need to schedule is a return to some rain and forget about watering.

Did I mention that our neighbor got a couple of new chicks to replace the ones the raccoons got a couple months back? Turns out at least one of the chicks has grown up to be a rooster. And yes roosters do crow in the morning; and the afternoon; and the evening.

Faux Crab Cakes

Whacked down a few major dead branches on an old bay tree down by the dock. That’s the 5th bay tree in the past few months to fall to the chain saw. Not sure if something is getting these trees or if they’re just getting old but the saw is certainly getting a workout. This particular one was accessible from the dock and with the water so low, I was able to get down on the beach and arrange the dead limbs into a brush pile that will be submerged when the water returns to normal. That should be home to little bait fish that will attract the feared and dreaded big bass. At least that’s my game plan. I also trimmed away some shoreline obstacles that made casting at natural pockets impossible. I’m doing my part now the rain gods need to do theirs.

Tom is getting interested in small boat, small lake fishing. It started with the fold boat, then migrated to the canoe, and now to the kayak. I’ve always been a small water kind of guy so I started suggesting places where I had used whatever car top boat I had at the time. Google maps is the perfect way to check arial views of places so I started re-finding my old haunts. Trouble is that most of them are no longer wilderness lakes and most of the access points are now estates or developments or industrial parks – anything but boat launching places and quiet solitude.

We decided to try the bluefish crab cake recipe. I already have a change in mind for next time. Per instructions, we poached the whole fish – less head and guts – and then picked the meat off the bones. Next time, I’m going to fillet the fish and start with clean fillets. I already like one thing about this method of prep – it’s easy to separate the white meat from the dark. With bluefish, the dark meat is stronger flavored and some people don’t like it because of that. The recipe Nancy chose for the crab cakes is called Aunt Ruth’s crab cakes. Neither of us had an Aunt Ruth so that makes that particular choice suspect but we’ll see. OK, they came out really good. I’d have to have a crab cake sitting right beside to determine how similar they tasted but it sure was good. We started with two blues that were probably in the 2 pound range. That yielded between a pound and a pound and a half of meat which in turn yielded 5 nice cakes.