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Archive for the ‘husband’ Category

Off On A Walk

Part of my DH’s post-surgery rehab is to walk. The only caveat is that he is to walk on flat trails or in places such as the grocery store or the mall. We’re lucky in that just a short way from Oleo Acres is a really nice place to get out in the fresh air, view the locals in their habitats, get some sun, and still keep to flat trails. It’s called the Kachina Wetlands Project, completed a few years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers as a way to utilize reclaimed water. It’s a beautiful area with great views of the San Francisco Peaks.
I thought you might like to come along:

A view of the Peaks. Mt. Humphrey’s (the peak on the left) is the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 ft. We live at 7,000 ft. just south of the town of Flagstaff, at the base of the Peaks.

Our recent snow was melting fast on the south face of Humphrey’s Peak. You can see the clusters of golden aspens gracing the slopes.

As we walked along, groups of Juncos flew out in front of us as if to lead the way. This one stayed long enough in the rushes for me to get a shot of him.

Looking northwards to Mt. Elden where all the TV, radio and various communication towers are set. The day before this, snow covered Elden as if someone had dusted it with powdered sugar. It used to be totally covered with pines and aspens but a huge forest fire claimed it. It is recovering, but slowly on this side. Many people hike the trail up Elden. You have to keep aware as well as keep your dogs on a leash as there are wild things watching you. It’s not unusual to hear reports of mountain lion and bear watching hikers. Hikers must be yummy, eh?

The ducks you see on this pond usually stay throughout the year except for sessions of bad weather or complete freezes of the water in these ponds. There are large lakes nearby where waterfowl retreat until smaller ponds re-open at thaw. Part of the ponds were still frozen and unavailable to the ducks. They stuck to the open waters on this day.

I love seeing the cattails and rushes here. I may have to give using them in basket making a try. Try as I might, I can’t seem to get the cattails established along the banks of our creek in the pasture. While our grasses get pretty tall and afford the waterfowl refuge, it would be nice to have a patch of cattails as well.

Another view across one of the ponds. You wouldn’t know it, but there’s a gated community just on the other side of the trees. (Our hoity-toity neighbors) Clearly the people who live in that community adhere to the “Good fences make good neighbors” policy. When that community, and its golf course, were built, many wildlife trails and habitats were destroyed in the process. We used to see way more fox, turkey, mule deer, elk, and bears and lions before they built. I still hear turkey when I’m down at the barn, but now it’s the turkeys a neighbor down the road is raising, not the wary wild birds that used to come through.
And while we were walking we spied a flash from a dark colored animal we had flushed from its hiding place. At first we thought it was a fox, but it turned out to be a cat.

A very large cat! (This taken with my telephoto lens at quite a distance)

I’ll try to take you along again, if you like. Our Flagstaff Urban Trail System has now connected up with the trails in the Kachina Wetlands. We know where they connect, but haven’t explored there yet as some of the trails are a wee bit more rugged. Maybe next time.
Anybody want to come along? 😀

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I would like to wish my dear husband and “Other Half” a very, very Happy Birthday! Today, he turns 60.
Partying is very limited, however, as he is really having to take things slow after his recent surgery to repair a 10-inch incisional hernia where his spleen was removed earlier this year. He got to have the 32 staples (stitches) removed yesterday. WooHoo! We had planned on trying to take a trip during this recovery period but I don’t think that may happen. It seems like appointments and schedules keep interfering. Traveling may have to wait until he’s sleeping a bit better and not so sore.
I know that these blogs, or at least mine, tend to center around the author’s life and viewpoints. But in reality, my husband is always there to lend a hand with the operation of my farming/livestock endeavors. Whether he agrees with what I do or not, he’s still there to support me and my dreams – not an easy task in itself as I tend to be very independent and stubborn. (Who, me?) Ralph’s the unsung hero here at Oleo Acres.

Here’s to you, Hon…may the next 60 years be even better. A very Happy Birthday to you!

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…I’m still here. It’s just been a couple of crazy/odd/busy weeks around Oleo Acres. I have to admit that lately I haven’t been on the computer much or when I have been “on”, I haven’t felt like being very creative.
This summer saw a couple of health problems pop up for both my Hired-Hand-With-Benefits and myself. My DH developed a HUGE incisional hernia requiring surgery which he underwent last Friday. Today he had an appointment with the surgeon to have the drain placed at the time of surgery removed. I remember thinking it was so much longer than I ever imagined as the surgeon snipped the stitches keeping it in place, then drew it out all the way. Eww! Unfortunately the stitches stay in until next week.
Now, my hubby has a GoreTex mesh patch (made here in Flagstaff) holding things together. Yes, it was that big. His original scar was about 8 inches long. Now it’s about 10 inches long. Those of you who have seen the movie Total Recall might remember the character called “Quatto”, a mutant being living in the stomach of a “host”. We named the hernia Quatto.
Now Hizzoner has to strap on a “binder” to, in reality, hold things together and in place while his body knits tissue into this mesh. He calls it a girdle, but I’ve never seen any girdle look or act like this. Today the surgeon said Hizzoner could remove the binder for sleeping but if he needs to get up to go to the bathroom, to be sure to strap himself back in it. If it were me, I’d just wear it all the time. I hope he does. I don’t think either one of us want to see him go through this again.

As for me, I was diagnosed in August with thyroid problems. the words “thyroid cancer” have been bantered about by a couple of doctors, but as things with the thyroid can be slow, I’ve had to wait and have occasional scans done to monitor the situation.
What I find strange, but logical, is that the function of the thyroid is totally different than this problem of fast growing, questionable nodule/growths’. You can have a beautifully functioning thyroid and still have masses and nodules in the tissue itself. Or, like me, you can have a thyroid that is waxing and waning, ready to give it up at the least suggestion along with other problems. At least I know why I’ve been having days where I have no energy what-so-ever.
I just wish my brain would stop thinking of all the things I want to do when my body just wants to make like a slug. For now I just have to wait for the next scan before decisions are made. One of the doctors said I would grow tired of waiting and just want it removed before something actually required surgery. At first I thought he was nuts for saying that. Now, I’m not so sure that he isn’t spot-on.

And for those who have asked me, yes-in-deedy-do…Mr. Bran has returned! He came back about 10 days ago, with the Mrs., but no youngsters. Clearly the kids thought more of the summer place and decided to stay. But Bran is now on his regular routine, stopping by for an egg or a mouse from a trap, or the odd leftover hot dog.
Here’s the proof:

I have to admit…my steps back to the house were a bit lighter after seeing my friend return. Summer just didn’t seem the same without him watching over my comings and goings at the barn and in the garden. Thanks, Buddy.

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Still Kickin’…

Ewes coming off Snow Mountain in the pasture

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I posted. The past two weeks have been horrendous around here. As many of you know, my Hired-Hand-With-Benefits went into the hospital for surgery for an aneurysm on the artery to his spleen. Unfortunately, the location of this Nasty-ness was such that his spleen had to be removed as well. The past couple of months (we found this out at Thanksgiving) have been trials of various medical tests and the like to make sure he was in good enough shape to handle the surgery.
Somehow the whole ordeal reminded me of the Albino in The Princess Bride telling poor Wesley that he had to be healthy to face torture. I understand it fully, however sordid it seemed. After all, if I were a surgeon I’d want to know that various other body parts could indeed take the strain of a major surgical procedure.
So, last Thursday HHWB went in. And Sunday morning he came home. He was up walking the halls the day after the surgery and from then on I believe he was driving the nurses crazy with his jaunts around the place. Home he went. Now he’s driving me crazy. (He states that driving me crazy is so easy anyway.)
While he’s doing really well, he has also realized that this is no cakewalk. Before the surgery, he had told me he was going to an office luncheon this coming Thursday. Yesterday I overheard him telling a cohort he would not be attending. I laughed, silently.
In the past, when I have had surgeries, this dear HHWB has always felt that if I was able to walk to the kitchen, I was healed and “Good to go!”. It didn’t matter if I was white, grey, red, or purple in the face or body…I was moving. I was OK, then back to work he’d merrily go. Now, I have to admit that my Evil-Self is delighted the shoe is on the other foot. Let him see what it’s like. heeheehee

The evening of the day he had his surgery, I came home late after seeing him settled in a proper room and not on the dreaded “3-North” floor of the hospital (a terrible floor where I had very bad experiences in 2007). I thought I would just have a bowl of cereal for dinner, then shower, watch some TV to relax, then to bed. The first spoonful of cereal I had was sour. Yup. The refrigerator we had bought back in ’88 had finally died…and taken all the perishables with it. Our local repair-guys, whom we’ve used for years, passed sentence on the ole gal – new compressor for about $600+. We decided not to have her fixed but get a new one instead. The poor thing has been sying a s-l-o-w death for the past two years.
So, today, I was going refrigerator shopping. HHWB decided that he wanted to come along. OK. I guess. Maybe the walking would do you good and get you out of the house. Off we went. We checked out Home Depot, Best Buy, and our local Sears, finding a suitable replacement which will be delivered Saturday. They have to get it here from their Phoenix warehouse. All the stores had to get items from Phoenix instead of having a local supply. So, Saturday we’ll be back to some semblance of normal around here – whatever “normal” is. I think I’ve forgotten.
Towards the end of the short shopping trip (we don’t have huge stores or selections to peruse here) I noticed a definite slacking in my companion’s gait. heeheehee He was wearing out. Home we went where he took his pain meds and napped for two hours.

That’ll teach ‘im!… 🙂

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Playing Catch-Up

I thought I would post a few photos of what all the holiday storms left us around the place. I would have posted them sooner but between working through the storms – shoveling, making trails out to the sheep, splitting wood for the woodburner as well as keeping it going as the heater went out, then trying to get to the roof to keep it clear. Add to that all my excitement of the new granddaughter and concern my DD was OK.
I will admit it did take its toll on me. I started to have skipped heartbeats and heart pounding way too hard for my taste, sending me to our doctor who then stated I was doing way too much. I got the “You’re doing way to much, you Fool!” speech from the doctor and I knew she was right. She then told the DH that, for this year at least, no shoveling, plowing, etc. for either one of us. When I mentioned the tractor was down as well as the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits she just said, “Good! Now you’ll have to find someone to plow you out!” If there is one person I don’t want to piss-off it’s our family Dr. 🙂

So, we hired people…

(Above) The barn and driveway before plowing.
I don’t think we’ll see the BBQ or Smoker until Spring. And that pile on the back deck was before we had guys come to shovel off the roof!
Bringing in the Big One out into the pasture so I can get feed in to the sheep. I had enough feed to get through the storms, but for some reason the sheep insisted I continue to feed them. Funny that. 🙂 Can you say “Reseeding the pasture”?
The girls on an outing from the barn. They don’t like it that they are standing on two feet of compacted snow. And they want to go back in. Silly girls! Get some sunshine while you can!

Tucco, the Mule. Tucco is boarding at our neighbor’s place and has taken to hang out near the Boys pen for company as he’s by himself.

Now that the snows have subsided and the weather is turning nicer so we have mudpools and muck everywhere, it’s time to prep for my DH’s surgery this next week. I’ve loaded the barn with hay and feed, there’s another cord of wood out back, and the walks are clear. I feel better about not having to worry about those things as well as my DH. I guess there’s only one thing to worry about now…

…how the heck am I supposed to have him around the house for 6 to 8 weeks, recovering and keep my sanity? 😉

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Under Re-Construction

My computer has decided to go Walkabout, so entries may be few and far between until it is fixed. Please bear with me.

Also, there is another reason I may not be blogging much in the near future:

All summer long my poor Hired-Hand-With-Benefits had been having intestinal problems. We’d try this or that OTC medication, or eliminating one food or another to see if that helped – all to no avail. This past month I finally put my foot down and made him go to our doctor. All sorts of tests were run from blood test to cultures to CAT Scans (as if he doesn’t get scanned by the cats enough around here!) to rule out any growth or obstruction.
Last week, while he was out of town naturally, the Dr.’s office called to ask if we could come in as soon as he got back. Sure thing…I made the appointment without even asking him. I remember the doctor mentioning diverticulitis, but in the same breath she mentioned an aneurysm had been found on the artery to the spleen. We immediately got an appointment to see a thoracic surgeon who looked at the CAT films and decided the aneurysm was not in immediate danger of rupture. Still, my DH is not allowed to lift anything over 20 lbs. or strain. That meant not to do anything, at least where I’m concerned.
We saw the surgeon this week to determine what to do. At first he recommended a “Wait and See” plan of action…until I asked about flying long distances to visit relatives. When he heard that he changed to doing a spleenectomy as the aneurysm is right where the artery goes into the spleen. He’ll be fine until the surgery date (Jan. 5th) as the aneurysm had started to calcify – a sign he’s had it a while and the body was trying to “repair” it.

So, now we’re doing pre-surgery stuff like another more in-depth CAT scan, ultrasound of arteries in the neck, banking blood and a stress test as it’s been a while since anyone got a good look “under the hood”.
Naturally, I’m bouncing off the walls. I try to keep busy and DH even goes in to work (OK’d by the Thoracic
Surgeon) as he realizes he needs to keep himself occupied so he doesn’t dwell on up-coming events.
I can’t help but think that all the plans we made such as going to New Zealand to be there for the birth of our granddaughter, etc., even not going to Black Sheep Gathering to save money to go to NZ…well, all plans we had made, were not fulfilled for a reason. had there been no stomach problems, this might have gone undetected or worse, burst flying way above the Earth somewhere over the Pacific. Some One has been watching out and watching over us.
…..Thank You!

And should I be slow in answering any emails you send it’s just all this computer business. I really do believe my computer has been chatting with my car….They must all be incahoots with each other, darn it! Let’s hope the sheep don’t get wind of all of this or they may start to mutiny for lack of their shepherdess’ attentions.

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Every year in Flagstaff, there is some sort of Route 66 festival to pay homage to the “Mother Road”, Route 66, that was such a big part in the lives and livelihoods of the towns growing up along it. Flagstaff is one of those towns. Along with the railroads, Route 66 brought both travelers through and goods and transport along its length.

We try to go every year. Last year we were accompanied by Val and Hugo, part of our family from New Zealand. (It wasn’t too long after my back surgery so I mainly remember there were alot of cars and it was hot…and the cool lemonade we all had in the shade of the city park.)

This year it was just my DH and myself strolling up and down the closed off streets of downtown Flagstaff, cars lining both sides of what are usually busy streets.

The car above included its own carhop!

This car made use of an old parking meter for a signpost. What a great idea! Some of the histories of these cars were absolutely fascinating. Most owners had notebooks with pictures of the vehicles as they were found, many in terrible condition, then showing the steps toward resurrection to show quality vehicles.

Some were even given names. I should mention here that Ralph’s work-in-progress is a ’53 Merc whose name is “Betty” after his aunt who originally owned the vehicle. “Betty” is the “Other Woman” in my life. Ralph feels toward Betty as I do toward my sheep. I keep threatening to cover the seats with plastic, prop Colin and Shaun up in her seats with their legs and noses hanging out of the windows…My own version of “Sheep in a Jeep” as it were.

And here’s Himself, looking over someones work in progress.
You could tell that people spent many, many hours in restoring these vehicles. A very few had original engines or at the least the engines that came with them…the ones they were meant to have. Most other cars had bigger engines than what was installed at the factory when they were made. Ralph’s a “Flathead” enthusiast so we always search out to see if there are any other cars with flathead V8 engines in them. I only saw two out of all the cars there today.
Some cars had interesting paint jobs, others had been chopped to where they looked only like ghosts of their former selves. I tend to be a lover of old cars…cars such as Model A’s or T’s, old farm trucks or delivery vehicles restored to look like they did originally. My favorite was a 1903 Olvera horseless carriage, made in Mexico, one cylinder and was listed as “10 Burro Power”.

Naturally, that’s the one I was so engrossed in I forgot to take a photo of it. Darn!

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We have had a very windy week! The wind coupled with the dryness have ushered in an early fire season for us. I noticed that yesterday, our relative humidity at 7 a.m. was 8%! No wonder I’m starting to feel like a dried fruit!
We did have occasional breaks in the pounding gusts allowing me to run out and try to get a few photos of the happenings around here.

In the spring, we’re in the flyway for these brown cattle egrets. When they show up it almost looks like a sea of ravens in the wetlands, but then you realize what “they” are, working the shallow waters for their dinners. Just as long as they leave a few crayfish for me I’m happy to share!

The above photo is of one of these busy birds in take off – I should have had the camera set for “Sports” and action shots, but he was moving so fast I didn’t have time to think. Of course the reason he took flight was that I was stalking him.

Amanda: “Hey! I thought I only had two this year! Where did you other lambs come from? Where’s your mother? Lacey, darn it…come and get your own children. I have enough to worry about with these two bruisers draining me dry every two minutes!”

Lacey: “Who? Me? See? I have my own lamb right here. Now where did I put that Jerry Lee?”

Pearl – Queen of the Sheep Beans!

And then there is Himself, you know. Always there. Always watching. I like to think Bran is watching over me, but I suspect it’s more of a “What’s Its got in it’s pockets?” sort of thing.

And finally, a snap of my DH installing a new covering on the steering wheel of his Most Beloved 1953 Mercury he’s been restoring. This car has been in his family since it came off the showroom floor. He’s restoring it close to “original” to be a daily-driver. I know he can’t wait until he can actually drive it to work someday. I just wish we had a garage or big barn so he could work inside out of the weather. He’s dedicated to this vehicle to the point where I have seen him work in sun, wind, rain and snow. It makes me so thankful that my spinning and weaving/knitting/whatever equipment fit nicely in a house…by a warm fire or furnace…out of the rain….
Of course I know that I do have to weather the elements to feed and care for the sheep, but I’m not outside all day doing that if the weather is bad. 🙂 And I’m so glad he has something he loves doing. Honey-Do lists are one thing, but I am a firm believer in each person should have something they are passionate about in life. Something of their own.
I’m just very happy there’s no room in the bed for Betty the Merc, or I’d have to move over and share!

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Normally when I read the morning paper, I don’t bother to read the classified section. For some reason two days ago, I started glancing through it and found something catching my eye. A local person was divesting herself of all of her fibercraft accouterments including a small loom, a spinning wheel, and various yarns and equipment. Well, all that morning that ad nagged at me. By lunchtime I couldn’t take it any longer and called the number listed.

I made arrangements to view the collection after the seller got home from work that day. The loom was very old and in not-great-shape. Had she not wanted $400.00 for it I might have considered it and loved taking it apart, cleaning it, and trying to put it back together better than what I saw in front of me. It was a very old Harrisville 22-inch floor loom that might have been nice to use for placemats. But it was just too much money.
Her yarn stash was admirable. It covered her couch as well as two or three chairs and contained a wonderful assortment of very artistic yarns. Tempting, but I have my own stash to work through.
And so I moved on to the spinning wheel. I saw before me an earlier version of my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel. It was made probably late 60s or very early 70s, stained with a dark walnut finish, and very dusty. I tried the treadle and watched the actual wheel – it was a bit “off”, not quite as true as my Ashford’s wheel, but the driveband was not jumping off the wheel with use. I looked over it very closely then asked its owner THE question: “How much are you selling the wheel for?”
At first she didn’t mention a price, trying to talk about the wheel as if it was fresh off the line today. I pointed out the differences between her wheel and the new versions. I could see on her face that she realized that I knew my wheels. She then asked me, “Would $50 be OK?”

Apparently, it was OK. 🙂

Now I have a wheel to lend out to students or take with me to demonstrations to entice passers-by to sit and try. After bringing it home, cleaning it up and oiling it, it spins like a new wheel. It will have a definite place and job to do. And I am delighted to give it a good home.
And here is a picture of Tina with my DH. I have been waiting for Tina to post about visiting Mr. Skittles (but she’s been busy). Here’s proof that he will actually accept cookies from total strangers! 😉 Actually, he really liked both Tina and John. We really enjoyed their visit with us and do hope they will visit again! We even promised them to meet at Balck Sheep Gathering in ’08.

And last, but not in the very least…a picture of the flowers my DH sent to me on our anniversary. The pictures I took of them do not do them justice. He usually sends red roses, but when these were delivered he said that their color was so stunning when he was picking them out that he thought these were the better choice.

Ya done good, Hon! Here’s to the next 31 years!…..

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Yes! It’s me! 🙂 I finally have it together enough to attempt a post.

First off, I wish to say a big “Thank You” to my daughter and my husband for posting to the blog to let everyone know what was going on. They have been so supportive! I don’t know what I’ve done right to deserve such a nice family. Even our wonderful NZ Branch of the family tree was of great support just by calling to see how I was and how things were going. What a great family!

And to YOU…all my friends…the greetings and the cards and flowers have been wonderful. You will never know how touched I am at the out-pouring of care and support I have received from all of you.
While I was in the hospital, one of the volunteers who delivers flowers, the computer greetings, cards, gifts, etc. said to me that “we” had set a new record for the hospital! At no other time had any one patient received so many “Get Well Wishes” via their computer site. 🙂 WooHoo! I just calmly mentioned that they just weren’t used to Shetland sheep people – some of the most “wonderfulest” people around…along with family, etc. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

The surgery went very well, although the hospital stay could have been much better. I was so glad to get home last Friday – to my own bed, way-better food, and no one waking me up every two hours for something like vitals, or take these pills, etc. That’s a whole other story. I have come to the conclusion that I just can see how anyone gets well in a hospital. 😉 It did end up that the disc was so damaged that the neurosurgeon did have to remove it. Before the surgery, he mentioned that if it could be saved it would be. Ah, well…se la vie! Everything else went as he had planned.

And yes, the horrid pain down the backs of my legs and in the lower back is, in a word, gone! I do have pain from the procedure but that diminishes a bit each day so I can actually visualize becoming “normal” (whatever that is) down the road. The major pain that came with the surgery came from feeling like my legs had been used in some sort of “Pull the Turkey Wishbone” game like we do at Thanksgiving. It feels as if someone grabbed one leg, someone else the other leg…then there was a contest to see who could win. The pain and the muscle aches reminded me of an extreme case of muscle soreness as you would get from not having ridden a horse for years, then ridden one for 24 hours straight. Thank Heavens for medications is all I can say. 😉

I know my DH can hardly wait for me to be able to get back working with our little sheep again. It will be a very long time before I will be allowed to lift anything greater than 10 lbs., so he’ll have to be on the job for a while still. He’s learning how to be a shepherd the hard way: The Total Immersion Method of Sheepkeeping! 🙂 Over breakfast this morning he told me that they won’t come hear him yet – that they run as a herd around him when he’s down there. I told him it’s just because they are not used to him and soon, with the aid of cookies, they will come to trust him as they do me.

As I watched out the window yesterday at my wonderful husband leading Skittles back into the fold area, luring him with bits of cookies, I thought to myself….

I am so very grateful for these wonderful little sheep. I don’t think I would have ever been able to go through all of this with “normal” sized sheep. 🙂 And I am even more grateful for this wonderful man I married over 30 years ago and a caring daughter, too.
(And the wonderful friends I have as well!) …I am truly blessed!

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