Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Got My Mojo Working

Happily there has been a good bit of improvement in most things around here.  My back is waaay better and I am even able to go back to the gym.  Now, I'm not doing any power-lifting sets or anything like that but I am getting a good workout on the elliptical machines and a few light weights.  This is especially good because exercise is one of the best things I've found to counteract the anxiety caused by those damned steroids.  My bum is still hurting a little but it seems to have improved a little bit since I am not sitting down as much.  Now, when I say a little, that's just what I mean....and I haven't gone on any significant car rides either to see how quickly I start hurting.  But I think it's helping some.
Jack did some more modifications to my wheel that has helped greatly on throwing.  for one, he moved the foot pedal for the motor up to where I operate it with my hand.  This type pedal does not require constant pressure to keep it going; you just press down until you reach the speed you want and then you take your hand (or foot) off and it maintains that speed.  Obviously that is a must when you are throwing.  I thought it might be harder to get used to but, once again, it was much easier than I expected.

So I have been throwing more, much to the delight of the stores, but I am still woefully behind for the season.  This stuff pictured is a pitifully small amount but it's a great improvement over what I have been doing and I plan to add to it significantly today. 
I did want to put up a quick post though to let ya'll know that I am doing better.  Things are improving but you just have to keep working at it.  Just never give up.

Unfortunately, Scooter is not doing so well though.  I'm about 100% certain she has had an impacted crop but I think is working through it with my help.  I hope anyway.  I noticed she was keeping to herself and after observing her over a night and morning I saw that her crop was not emptying at all.  It was not hugely inflated but it was really doughy feeling and not moving on through her system.  So, I flushed her crop really good with water and a little olive oil and massaged it several times a day.  This helped quite a lot and I could actually feel the mass breaking up.  This morning it was much, much smaller and loose, not doughy at all.  I also noticed yesterday, while massaging her, that there was this very hard "thing" in her crop.  It honestly felt like a rock.  It was maybe 3/8".  There was some other gritty feeling things in there too but they were much smaller.  Well, this morning I could not feel the big thing anymore and I mushed around quite a lot to make sure.  I'm hoping whatever that was will pass on to her gizzard were it can be ground down and passed.  She is pooping (I know ya'll are thrilled to know that!) and eating a little but not much.  She got a bit more water today with a little food and is staying in the little apartment by herself so the others won't bother her.  I really wonder if she maybe ate a lizard or something and it having trouble passing the bones.  I saw her once eat an entire baby snake, whole, so I know she likes such things.  She's also fairly alert but just likes to sit quietly right now.  I really hope she gets better.  Scooter is one of my favorites 'cause she's kinda had a rough start but has persevered through a lot of adversity.

So, I'll be back when time allows.  I haven't even started decorating or anything for Christmas but it getting real close to time for that!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

.....And The World Laughs With You

... Or something along those lines.  Actually, with me I think it's more like, when I laugh everybody starts backing away slowly and easing on down the walk.  So, in case anybody was wondering, yes, that last post was meant to be funny.  I'm to the point now where you just have to laugh and make fun of things to keep from crying...or pulling your hair out. 
But in good news, I did manage to complete that firing and it all came out fairly well.  I was also pleased with a couple of new glazes that I had tested before but until now had not used on a whole piece.  My lower back is still not letting up on the pain so I had to get Jack to go with me into Birmingham to make the deliveries but he is always willing to help.  I can drive okay but could not pick up the crates that I haul my pottery in once they are packed.

So, we delivered a fair size load to Alabama Goods (one of my retail stores) and they were excited to get the stuff.  I could see why too because I really had very little inventory left there.  I didn't realize I had gotten that low.  I'm really going to try to get out another good size firing before Christmas for them.

I thought this goldish glaze went right nicely with the red and black.

Lots and lots of new mugs.  They are very popular for Christmas gifts.

This is a honey pot in case you were wondering why it has that notch in the lid.  That's where the honey dipper rests and the handle can stick out.

So, due to circumstances there is not a lot for me to write about, as far as things going on around here.  I had a number of things planned to start on but until my lower back improves I will not be starting any new projects.  Right now I think I flop back and forth between defiance and joking to almost despair and depression.  But I know it's just the pain talking.  It does wear on you.  Makes you silly sometimes and pissy as hell the next.  But whatdya do??  You have to just keep going and trying.  Something has to give eventually. 
Some of you that have followed the house building part for some time may know I don't have a bath tub in this house yet.  Only have a shower right now.  So Jack fixed me a make-due tub in the basement so that I could soak my back, which usually helps.  It's not exactly a jacuzzi by the fireplace, more like a horse trough by the wood-burning stove.... but it sure feels good.  Doesn't seem to help any....but it does feel good.  Chigger seems to think I may have lost it but we have fun soaking and listening to Christmas music.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Rather Be

My plan was to have this great new post about what all I've done since the last one (since it's been a while) and how incredibly well things are working out now!  Instead, I've had some rather interesting side effects from all the steroids, threw my back out in addition to my "butt joint" and topped it off by getting bit by a spider today!!  Yay me!
Have I mentioned how sick I am of all this?  And all that crap about 'what doesn't kill you will make you stronger..'  Mmm yeah.  I'm plenty strong enough now, m'kay.  Thanks.
I was actually sort of enjoying the initial steroid side effects; the great mood I was telling ya'll about a few days back.  Yeah!  That was great!  Had a little hyper hyper going on there...which, considering what a slug I have been the past year or so, was great.  I could deal with that.  Then I realized my blood pressure was running like 160/105.  Oooh, not good.  It has come down a fair amount but unfortunately, so did my mood!!  What fun!!  Insomnia!  Panic, anxiety and best of all....paranoia!!  I finally had a lightning bolt of clarity during one 3:00 a.m attack and realized all this lined up with the steroid shots, meds and inhaler.  I knew steroids had some bad side effects but didn't realized it could do that, so I looked up some research in various medical journals....what d'ya know!??  80% of people given steroids in large doses have psychological repercussions.  Holy shit Batman!  Cancel the pelvic injection.  No way in HELL I am going to get that now.  Poor Jack is still sleeping with the covers pulled way up around his neck.

So, now I'm back to just mechanically trying to ease the pain.  In other words, I don't sit down unless I have to.  I showed ya'll how Jack helped me fix my wheel so I could throw standing up and that works great.  He also fixed my computer desk so I can use my 'puter standing up if I like.  Even got me some anti-fatigue floor mats so my feets don't get too sore.  So, I threw enough to do a firing but had to change out one element in the kiln before I could do that.  We partially dissembled the kiln so I wouldn't have to bend over very much to replace the element.  And guess what?...I still threw my lower back out!!  God I love the excitement of my life!  With Jack's help I actually managed to get the kiln fixed, put back together, loaded and fired.  All while shuffling around like a pissed off Quasimodo.  Now I can't sit down and can't stand up straight!!  And, I'm out of muscle relaxers!!  All I can say is thank God for Benedryl and Xanax.  Now, ya'll know I hate to take prescription drugs but sometimes you just have to say, fuck it.  I break the Xanax down into forths but I've been carving those things up with pharmacological precision.

Now then.  We get to today and I managed to get the bisque fire unloaded and was working on wiping down the pieces in preparation for waxing the feet and all for glazing.  Oh, and all this weekend my one big store has called every. day. to let me know they are really needed stuff.  No pressure or anything though.  So, I'm wiping pots and have some tunes going on the radio that, once again, Jack fixed for me, when something grabbed my finger when I grabbed up the next mug to clean!  I don't know what is it but it hurts and it was just a thousand wonders I did not sling the mug and everything else across the room as I screamed and, of course, jerked upright and caused my back to commence killing me again.  I looked down on the floor and it was a damn spider!!  That little shit had grabbed my finger with all he was worth and proceeded to bite the living hell out of it.  Believe it or not I did not squish it's little body into oblivion.  I trapped his sorry ass in a glass and proceeded to scare the shit out of it!  Nah, just kidding.  I did capture it so we could look it up and make sure it was not poisonous and that my whole left arm was not going to rot off.  And yes, it was my left hand and I am left-handed.  So, after applying some sting medicine, and it did feel just like a bee sting, we determined that it was just a wolf spider and I took it out to a stump near the edge of the woods.  It turned to look up at me and raised it's 2 front legs in a defiant salute.  I saluted back with a double one finger and warned it to stay away from the house from now on.
And now, I sit.  Well, sort of.  Actually, I kind of list to port.  Sore all over with a stinging, hurting thumb.  Until tomorrow, when I get to go have my annual pelvic exam...better known as the Pap smear.  That's right...after all this shit, I have an appointment tomorrow to let another doctor scrape cells out of my hoohaa and mash my boobs in a machine.

So, I know this is Life's twisted way of testing me....or punishing me....however you want to look at it.  It is not lost on me.  I spit my disdain.  I fart in it's general direction.  I will endeavor to persevere.   But there better be a damn golden egg waiting out there for me or some shit.  Sack of money... lottery win.  I'm not choosy.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Better Than Nothing

Well, there's not a whole lot of anything going on around here right now.  I believe I have truly begun to hate winter.  And yes, I know it's not actually winter yet.  The damp coldness here has become relentless to me.  Like a lot of things.  I am so thankful for the occasional warm and sunny day though and we have had a few lately.  In fact, this whole week is supposed to be warm, although it may be a little rainy at times.  However,  rain is easier to take when it's warm, to me anyway.  And there have been a few new things surprise me this fall.  For one, my little witch hazel tree bloomed for the first time.  I was beginning to wonder if it really was a witch hazel but a couple of weeks back it burst forth in it's little yellow explosions.

The tea plants are not new but they have made considerable progress this past year.  The 3 red blooming bushes did die but the white blooming variety has done well.  One bush is up to about 3 feet tall.

As an experiment I planted 2 on the north-facing hillside behind the house.  It has pretty rich, humousy soil with great drainage.  I planted one other at the bottom of the hollar.  The lowest spot of my valley for ya'll not familiar with the local vernacular.  It also has good dark soil but stays a bit damper than the others.  What the two groups have in common is that they both are in part to mostly shade and they are both doing very well.  I really hope to be able to harvest enough leaves this spring to at least make a little tea.  Or attempt to make tea anyway.

In other news I finally go to the point of desperation and raised my pottery wheel high enough to throw standing up.  I had been able to throw a few things lately but the pain was just getting nerve wrecking.  After Jack helped me get the wheel set up I threw a number of things and I have to say it worked out pretty well.  I wish I had not been so stubborn and had tried this well before now.  It's easier not only because I'm not sitting down and putting pressure on my butt joint but it's just easier to move around.  I can come and go from the wheel with ease, moving finished products or if I forgot a tool and such.  No standing up and down and up and down.  There are a few little things to work out over time but I'd say this is working well enough to let me get a couple of loads of work to the stores before Christmas.

So, that's about it for now.  Hopefully things will brighten up over the next few days and relieve some of this misery.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give Thanks

  A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!!  and if you are not American well...Happy Thursday I guess!  I hope everyone celebrating has a great day filled with fun and good food and that you are with the ones you love...whoever they are.

I'm in an especially good mood tonight for some reason..Ha!  Oh, I have lots of reasons to be despite the fact my ass still hurts like a sonovabitch.  Maybe it's the combo of rum and sinus medicine, I don't know.  But I'm happy and I'll take what I can get!  Actually, I went to my ENT doc Monday and he said my sinuses are horrible and we agreed to test me for allergies, which may be causing some of this fatigue, headaches and all.  In the meantime I got 2 shots in the ass and something to go with the Claritin I take.  I hate to take medicine but I have to grudgingly admit that I have felt better the past 2 days.  Not wonderful, but better.  I'm also trying a little bit of an elimination diet and have started with dairy products, which I know have caused me trouble in the past.
So, I threw some pottery yesterday and today went to the gym and did some moderate exercises for about an hour and a half.  It really felt good.  I think I'm going to try going to some of the yoga classes they offer too.  I threw for maybe 2 hours kinda on and off and I was hurting a bit by the time I quit but I did it and was pleased with what I made.  Just need to keep at it, a little bit at a time.  One of my stores is really begging for more stuff for Christmas and I really need to try and come through for them.  I know I won't be able to make enough but 3 or 4 dozen mugs, a couple dozen honey pots and some serving bowls and stuff should be some help at least.  And I have a few people that have requested a few things so I'm going to really try to get those orders out too.  It shouldn't be too hard.
The BFD got me an appointment with a rheumatologist but it's not until May!  So, looks like I may be going to a pain clinic to see about a sacroilliac injection to help with the pain until then.  Here's a word of advice if you ever may have to have this done...  Don't Google what that entails. Okay?  Yeah. Sometimes Google needs to keep his damn mouth shut.  If you just have to read about it, wait until the day of.  GeezLoweez!!!  I can only hope they dope me up good. 

But for tonight I am not going to think about them ramming a giant needle through my pelvis and instead be happy for good doctors, sweet cranky friends and a house in the country with food in the pantry that I share with my sweetie.  Wow, I guess that is a horrible run-on sentence...ah well, blame it on the rum!!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Something To Crow About

Tiny, little Tillie that was so small and almost succumbed to the spring chill....  Little T that was so small and got pushed around so much that he couldn't get enough to eat....  Little T that I brought inside to snuggle with me or sleep on a heating pad and finally had to eat by himself so he could get enough...

Has grown up into a fine, handsome young roo.   He's still an odd little thing though.  He will only crow occasionally and never in front of me!  He prefers instead to still talk in his little whistling chirps.  So far he is not aggressive with the girls.  He follows them around and struts a little but still seems a little shy.  I hope he stays that way.

They don't run from him like they did George.  Some of them even seem to like him... a little.  They tolerate him anyways.  You can't tell from the photos but he and Pumpkin are still like peas and carrots though.  Always together.  They are each other's best buddy, even though they squabble now and then.  Pumpkin gets mad at him every so often but she won't let him get far away before she runs to catch up!  They are so attached to each other I hope noting ever happens to one of them.

So, hopefully he will be our homestead rooster from now on.  He's a sweet bugger and I'd hate to get rid of him.

Time kinda got away from me this last week; I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted last.  It's warmed up now but we had a spell of some very cold weather and my aches and pains felt like they tripled.  I was in a fairly sorry state and by Thursday night I had about bottomed out.. but I'm feeling a good bit better now.  Not so much in the pain department but mentally anyway.

I don't have much to report on tonight though really.  Today was a very dreary, rainy day and what little motivation I had pretty much flew out the window.  The rest of the week is supposed to be brighter so maybe some of my energy will come back too.

Oh, I did have some questions for ya'll:  is anybody having trouble with my blog taking a long time to load, or the photos taking a long time?  I have been using a different camera at times that shoots at a much higher resolution than my old one did and I know it takes those photos longer to come up.  I reformatted one of the cards to a lower setting but wasn't sure if it was low enough for the blog.  I think it's probably okay but wanted to check.  And, is anybody having trouble commenting?  Of course, if you are you may not be able to tell me!  Ha! well, you could email me if you are.  I think also that the word verification has been put back on the commenting but I did not do it!!  I think Blogger must have taken it upon themselves maybe because of so much spam but I did not do that if anybody is peeved at me for it.  They have at least made the letters in the WV much easier to read lately.
So, basically, if anybody is having trouble with the blog please let me know.  Email me if you can't comment.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sour Girl

   Some of you long-time readers may remember that the blogger, who shall remain nameless, over at Rurality has been a friend of mine for some time and you may also know that she is a big instigator.  Haha!  But in a good way.  In fact, she is the one who talked me into starting this blog so long ago and then abandoned us all a couple of years ago...ahem...but anyways...heehee.  Well, she also talked me into going to this fermenting workshop a few weeks ago that was held at a little intentional community not far from here.  I've made several posts here about some fermenting I had done using the crock method, and I thought it came out well, but this workshop was going to be using a more modern method (I guess you'd say) so I thought it would be interesting and a fun thing to do.  And I tend to be a little reclusive so it was a good thing to get out and meet some new people.
  So, basically the workshop provided information on the health benefits of raw fermented foods, such as kimchi, saurkraut, kefir etc. and how to make them.  And by raw, I mean not pasteurized, because the heat required in the pasteurization process kills all of the beneficial flora (bacteria) that you are creating by fermenting the food in the first place.  I am especially interested in eating more fermented foods because I've read that it is very good to help reduce inflammation in the body and that's seems to be what I've been having trouble with lately, for the most part.  Plus, if you make your own it is substantially cheaper than buying it already prepared.  I had tried some raw kimchi and liked it, but the only place within an acceptable driving distance that carried it was the Whole Foods in Birmingham and, as you can probably guess, it was quite expensive.  At least to me.  And, if you grow your own veggies for the mix it can be made for just pennies.

This is a Pickl-It jar in the 1 1/2 liter size.

  The new jar they use is the one big initial cost but after using it I think that it is well worth it, IF you think that fermenting is something you will do regularly.  Rurality was kind enough to let me use an extra of hers for my initial batch and so I could try it out before actually buying it!  HERE is a link to one type of jar now used for fermenting instead of the crocks.  The type shown in the link is not the same brand as what we used but it is the same basically.  I could not ever get the link to our jar brand to open so that's why I'm using this other.  Anyway, research it yourself if you are interested.  You can find a lot of different brands and such but the one thing that the lady teaching the workshop stressed is that the jar and lid should be entirely glass.  If you look around you will find some with a glass jar but a plastic lid and she was adamant that those will not airlock like the glass lids and your food can spoil.  Now, the little airlock gadget that sticks up out of the lid is plastic but it doesn't touch the food.  Some jars even come with a glass weigh or specially shaped bowl to push the foods under the liquid and that is nice.  We just crammed whole cabbage leaves on top to where they were pushed down by the lid and that held the fermenting food under the liquid.  You simply discard (or compost) the cabbage leaves when the product is ready and that worked fine.
  So, basically we shredded up a bunch of cabbage, green onions, ginger, radishes, carrots, garlic, peppers and then mixed that with the appropriate amount of sea salt and whatever spices you wanted.  I keep mine simple and only put in dill and parsley.  Using a wooden or ceramic stomper you pack the jar tightly and wait about an hour.  If the mixture is mostly cabbage it will release a fair amount of water which will form a natural brine but if it doesn't you can mix a little brine yourself and pour over the veggies until they are just covered.  Any little bit of research online or at your library will turn up tons of recipes and the exact amount of salt etc. that you need to use, so I'm not going to go into a great deal of depth on that.  But believe me, it is very easy to make.  Deciding what you want to go in it is the hard part.  Then you just wait a minimum of 2 weeks and the taste test it to see if it has aged to your liking.  If it has then you transfer it to a clean jar or jars to keep in your refrigerator and eat at your leisure.  The cold stops the fermentation process so it will last for about 6 months stored that way.  I can go through a pint of kimchi in about a week so mine doesn't last that long.
  After using the glass jar method I have to say it is really great and I will buy one now.  The crock method is very easy also but you have to check it every day and skim off any mold growing around the top.  No big deal but this way is just so simple.  The airlock top keeps any of that from forming and you just check it every day or two to make sure there is water in the little plastic hicky.  This initial batch of kimchi I made was good but I think next time I will cut back on the ginger and radishes.  I've never been a big fan of radishes.  And, I think I might make the next batch a little more spicy.  We used some pepper but they were the sweet type and I think a little heat would be a good addition.  As far as spices go, well, I just like the fermented taste.  Garlic is always a good addition and I might try a little mustard seed next time.
I hope this inspires some of you to try it and if you have any questions feel free to ask away!