Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Woods are Thick

The woods are thick this year.  This is the view from my
back deck looking to the side yard.  We have had such a 
long, cool, wet Spring that the trees and grasses have 
taken off.  Typically we might see the deer strolling by as
they munch on leaves or the opossum and raccoon creeping
by the brush piles but this year you can see only thick greenery,  

The chickens have plenty of shade.  The string you see in the photo
is part of the guy wires that hold up my husband's ham radio
antenna.  The birds enjoy sitting on them, in fact the 
hummingbirds rest there awaiting their turn at the feeder.

This is one of his antennas.  He has his Extra Ticket
now so he is authorized to use all the privileges afforded 
ham radio operators.  As a whole, there are only
about 130,000 + or- hams that have this, out of 750,000 
ham radio operators in the US.  It required a great deal 
of study with heavy math and electrical theory.

The hedge rose is covered in sweet smelling blooms
but I am forever picking worms off the bushes and plants.
They are having a great spring too, along with the weeds.

Wild catnip is popping up among the clover.
It's surprising that the cats don't seem attracted to 
it while it's growing. I have to tear off leaves and 
crush them before they notice.  And they REALLY notice!

We're down to three cats now plus one that wants to 
live here but is too aggressive for my girls.  I feel 
sorry for it because it is obviously abandoned, probably
a house cat that someone dumped or couldn't find when
they moved.  I try to leave some food for it but the
raccoons beat him to it most of the time. If he can
get along with our girls he is welcome to stay.  We 
don't have a male to protect them now that Spot is gone,

We will have more rain this weekend.  Our tomato leaves are 
turning yellow due to the moisture and I have not gotten the 
big garden in at all.  My knee has improved so I'm up for
more activity although I can't kneel or stress it too much.
It is nice to not use the walker at work but it was sure 
convenient for hauling around my laptop and notebooks!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Whizbang Chicken Plucker

 Have you seen the Whizbang Chicken Plucker on line
and wondered if it is all they say it is?  I can assure you
that it is and we will be processing our own meat birds
as we move forward with increasing the flock. 

My husband's boss built from the plans in
Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker
by Herrick Kimball.  Tom welded the plate on the bottom which 
spins while the rubber fingers do their job.  All the specialty parts can
be ordered on line.  I have a link to the website below.

We don't have the motor attached while it sits outside; however,
it bolts to the side of the frame and uses a power cord connected
to a switch which is attached to one of the side posts.

After scalding, but not yet cleaning the chicken, you
turn on the plucker and drop 2-4 chickens inside while 
spraying water into the tub.  As the chickens spin around
inside the tub, the fingers will pull out the feathers which 
will be washed out the gap at the bottom, all in a few seconds,
about 15-20 seconds.
When the chickens are plucked you turn off the power.

This contains the complete instructions for making the plucker 
and instructions on how to process the chickens. There are also
tips on scalding and cleaning as well. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Runaway Rose

We have a runaway rose!
It grew up among viburnum bushes, one solitary branch
that wound its way across the mulch, cascading over the
garden wall, to bloom in the base of our turkey fryer.

The long, cool, wet Spring has made the woods thick
and flowers are springing up all over the garden wall.
Once I get over this knee problem I need to trim away
the wild bushes and vines that have also taken advantage
of the almost perfect weather. It won't be long before
the rest of the iris bloom and the stella d'oro daylilies are 
bursting with flowers.

 My granddaughter was going to plant flowers for me but
 we had about 3 inches of rain over the last couple of days.  Our main gauge 
is the low water bridge at the end of the county road. 
 Everyone takes a quick look to the left (or right) as they pass 
to see if it's near the top, under, or in more severe situations,
 if whole trees are stuck on top!

One thing is certain, the pollen is incredible.
It sits on the vehicles and floats in the fountain.
The bees are loaded down, their legs a thick yellow orange
as they fly from flower to flower.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Who is Eating My Plum?

This was The Spring, the best we have had in years.
Cool temperatures and frequent showers allowed the woods
to fill with an array of flowers.  Beautiful Sweet Williams,
Dutchman's Breeches, trillium, may apples, phlox and blossoms 
galore on the peach and plum trees.  It was a hopeful site.  Our
plum has had only one year of fruit due to late frosts.
Now I am fighting worms and fruit damage.
I suppose that comes with not using spray.

I found this huge beetle yesterday.  I don't know if he is a culprit
or he is hunting the things that are damaging the tree.

You can see the leaf and fruit damage.
There are green worms that have rolled themselves
inside of the leaves.  Most of the plums have a hole in them.

I didn't want to use anything during the bloom.
I don't know what is good to use now, if it can be saved.

I can't get to my peach tree right now, not until my knee is better,
but I can tell it is loaded with small peaches.  Usually the ants
and deer or raccoon get them. They would have been magnificent
last year.  A bounty of fruit one day, leftover pits the next!

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the plum.
With our sketch internet I've been lucky to upload photos this 
morning.  I don't know if this will save.

In the meantime I will pull out my bug book with the color plates
and see if the beetle is a good guy or bad.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Internet Problems

Our internet provider has equipment problems so our access has been sporadic, up and down several times within minutes.  Since we stream TV, which we can't do now, we've been enjoying ME TV and our local shows which we get through our antenna. That is also affecting my access to Blogger.  

Hopefully they will have it up and running well soon, especially if I have to work from home and need that access.  In the meantime I'll be reading when I can.

Other than that our office is preparing for the big split with one division becoming independent of the other.  I will be making the move up the street to our new offices in the next few weeks. For those of us that are moving, it will be a big change.  We've been very pampered with garage parking, a tunnel into the building to stay out of the weather, a cafe plus roomy cubicles and offices plus.  I've been there 15 years.  We know there will be a big change and we (including me) will be full of complaints until things normalize (when we should really be very grateful that we still have good jobs).  Regardless, it is a stressful time revamping and leaving office friends that will be with the other division.  There is an office tour today but I'm passing since I am still using the walker at work.  I think I may miss that thing since it has a compartment that holds my laptop and paperwork while I walk from meeting to meeting.  We dock and undock all day, sort of taking our desk with us.

On the home front, we're getting some vegetables and flowers planted.  My knee is preventing me from planting at ground level so the hubby is doing that while I plant in pots and on the raised garden wall.  My granddaughter can plant the flower seeds this weekend when she is here if we are not rained out.  My husband has to till the big garden area too.  The peach tree and the plumb are full of fruit. This is the first time in years that the plum has produced since we've had late frosts the past few years.  Now we have to keep the bugs off of them.  I am not a fruit tree expert so advice is welcome.

I see the Dr on Friday about my knee.  I'm driving to work myself this week and, being my right knee, it is more sore from that.  I have been able to walk up a few steps normally but not down. It's still one step at a time,  Up is always easier for me so walking down must put more stress on the dwindling cartilage behind my knee.  He will probably want to talk replacement down the road but I'm on the fence on that since I live in a two story without a main floor bed and full bath plus how will I get to work if my husband also needs to work?  Nothing immediate but some considerations.

Hopefully the internet will be back to normal soon but if you don't hear from me you'll know why.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Anniversary 33 Years

We are celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary this weekend.
The actual date was May 1, yesterday, but since it was a work 
day we settled for an ice cream at the malt shop accompanied
by my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who live next door.
We were headed up the drive and saw them walking along
the gravel road so we picked them up and headed out.

I was saying that it's a strange sort of town.  The population is 
around 7,000 and has only about 6 sq miles.  You can drive from end
to end and cover only 2-3 miles. That being said, we have
two (2) malt shops which are next to each other with adjoining parking lots.
We also have two (2) Dollar Generals and two (2) Subways.
Go figure.
I think it deserves a blog post later on, maybe the town was 
founded by the Doublemint Twins.

Tonight we'll go out to dinner, compliments of Mom.
She also sent a check for whatever we might want or need
plus this very pretty wasp catcher since we seem to have
a wasp invasion INSIDE our house.  My husband caulked by the 
fireplace where we know they were crawling in but now we
think there may also be a spot in the basement.  Someday
we'll get to the bottom of it but until then, there's this.

It's hard to believe 33 years have passed by but they have
and with them we've added a couple of kids, a granddaughter,
countless animals (both house, coop and stray) in additions to 
lots of aches and pains.  

I said to my husband, "Now don't go posting a photo
of our wedding on Facebook followed up by me
hobbling with my walker!"  
LOL, wouldn't that that a pretty picture?

Seriously though, the bad knee is doing better
but they will make me use this for another week.
After that I think I shall turn it into a beverage and snack
cart, selling from cubicle to cubicle at work once we
move to a location that does not have a cafe.
That'll make a few bucks to pay off the walker.

I hope your weekend will be as pretty as this one is supposed 
to be here and Happy Derby Day.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Boy Scout Camporee and the Hams

The Pacific Meramec Valley Amateur Radio Club
demonstrated different modes of ham radio  operation 
during the April 24-25 Camporee hosted by 
Pacific Boy Scout Troop 329 in the City of Pacific, MO.

An estimated 300-500 scouts from 30 troops 
camped out in Liberty Field park as they demonstrated
their idea of futuristic camping which included a stingray  three person
tent suspended around 10 ft high from three poles.   

My husband used army surplus ammo boxes to create a
Go Box for his radio which is bolted into the box for protection
and ease of travel if they were to be called out in an emergency.
It is fitted with plugs and speakers for a quick plug in before start up.
He has room to add a second radio.  One being dual band and digital
and the other will be all digital.  I won't go into techy detail
but they operate differently.  He was able to use his
radio as a repeater so the handy talky radios could communicate
when their signal was not strong enough.

He also had it set up as a packet station so he could transmit
data over the airwaves known as packet radio.  It is sort of a forerunner
of the internet but much slower.  In an emergency they can
send Word docs and Excel spreadsheets which is a requirement
by the State Emergency Management agency plus it works
with the MERS system which is the Missouri

An example of PSK31 (similar to instant messaging)
and Packet Radio (similar to email).

Some of the tents that were set up.

His gear packed up and ready to go.
One box is the radio and the other a tool box,
laptop computer and antenna and mast.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Amazing Cane and Deal of a Walker

I was able to stand up the next morning after my Chicago injury
but the tables had turned.  I could stand up but could not bend my knee.
It was the better of the two situations because I could now meet
with the customer and, with help, get through the customer visit and
warehouse tour riding on their golf cart.  They could not have been nicer
and they just happened to sell the Trusty Cane which they promptly
gave me as a gift!  This was the only thing that allowed me 
to get back to the airport, through the rental car return and into the
terminal where a most charming airport wheel chair escort made
certain that I was well taken care of.  

I worked from home the next day and made an appointment with 
the orthopedic doctor for Friday morning, bright and early.  

The Results are In  
(Drum roll)
No tears in my meniscus!!!!  
Yea for me.

What did happen was complicated.
Due to a previous car accident my knee cap no longer sits exactly where it should
but rather is sort of kinked to the side.  Manageable in most situations.
The cartilage is OK in the front of my knee although there is a massive spur
on the top.  Behind my knee has very little cartilage left and when I pivoted
is somehow caused the ligaments to snap and either stretch or contract,
maybe both, resulting in a bad sprain.  From stepping into a car.

I have to use a walker instead of the cane for the next two weeks and 
go back for a follow up.  I have the standard front wheeled walker that
was my Mother In Law's, the sort where you put tennis balls on the back legs.
That won't work for me, especially at work where I need to transport
and not drag the walker across their heavily carpeted floors.

We checked Walgreen's where a four wheel walker is $140, too high for me.
Then went to the medical supply to see what my insurance would pay.
It doesn't really work out well so I told them I would pass.
Then they brought out the dinged and dented model that was scratched
during transportation.  It is 100% functional but has some dings
which is fine with me.  The best part is that they would sell if for $50
which was OK with me.  The old metal ones are $90!

So now I have a Snazzy blue metallic walker complete with 
brakes, a seat and a carrying basket that can sit below the seat
or attach to the front.  Perfect for carrying my lunch or bringing
print jobs back from the copier.  It is light weight and folds.

Now for the cane.
It is amazing!!!!!

It is the TRUSTY CANE from As Seen On TV fame.
No joke, this is a great cane.  I've used canes in the past
that fall down and the bottom can slip out from under you.
I have no idea what they cost but through Bargains in a Box
in Chicago, it has to be value priced below the normal markets.

It stands up so you can balance it while you use both hands.
If the floor is not level, it may tip but for the most part it will stand.

The tip swivels so it moves with you.
It even worked on grass.

There are three bases under the single base to provide more stability.
As you can see in the first photo of it, it lights up when you push the button.
I wondered about this but if you need to go down the hall at night and 
you don't want to turn on the overhead lights, push the button and your
path is now lit up.  It will stay lighted until you turn it off which allows
you to stand the cane up and continue to have light.
It could also light up your walk way or the key hole as you try to unlock
your door at night.

And there is more . . .   it collapses onto itself with a simple pull and 
twist of the segments.  I did not do this since my flight was just an hour
but if I wanted to carry it in a tote, I could.

Tom will have to drive me to work for a couple of days until my
knee is strong enough for me to drive.  I would try it locally but
the area I work in is congested and under major construction with
lanes missing and temporary lanes in place where a highway,
major outer road and a university converge.  Too much for me!

So I have avoided surgery for now. 

Find more about the Trusty Cane at the link below.
Trusty Cane

Check out Bargains in a Box at the link below.
If you are anywhere near Chicago, go visit.  
The majority of their inventory is from major suppliers
and prices are great.  They keep is plain and simple to reduce 
costs so don't plan on finding fancy shelving or expensive decor.
That only increases the cost for me and you.

Bargains in a Box

My company requires I tell you that I have a relationship with this customer
as I have mentioned in the posts.  That being said, this is the sort of place,
as regular readers know, that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, even without our products
being in there.  I have no connection to Trusty Cane or As Seen on TV.
Those opinions are strictly my own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Injured in Chicago

I have real problems.
My boss and I flew to Chicago this morning for a customer visit.
After a terribly turbulent flight we landed safely and walked the
miles and miles to the bus which would take us to the rental cars.

My boss put my suitcase in the back and I opened the 
passenger door, pivoted to get in and 
went my knee, in the back rather than the front like I am used to,
I think I may have torn my meniscus based on my husband's previous injury
which sounds very similar.   

We drive around the airport about 150 times since the GPS wants
to take us on a road they just dug up. No matter where we drive,
we're still in the airport.  It must be as big as a small city.
Then there are barricades, lanes that disappear, the wind is
blowing so strong that signs are falling over and construction material
is waving across lanes.  
We end up in parking lots for FedEx, for foreign airlines,
for other cargo shipments.  It goes on forever.
Planes are landing just barely over our heads.
Finally we see a way out.  We don't know if it is the right way,
but the GPS will figure it out if we can just leave the airport!!

We pull up to the Marriott Courtyard in Elmhurst.
The hotel has a wheel chair and moved me to a first floor room.
They brought ice and my boss ordered and brought my dinner to me.
The concierge even wheeled me up the hall.
So here I sit,
Hurt in Chicago.

There is no point in going to an emergency room.
I can sit without any pain, I can sort of stand but can't walk.
We fly home tomorrow around 1 PM.
I assume the airport will take me to the plane in a wheel chair
and I'll get to board first  (Woo Hoo)
Then I'll get a wheel chair to get to the car (I rode with my boss)
and he will take me back to work where my car is waiting for me.
The one I can't drive because it's my right leg.

Somehow I'll get home and then make an appointment with 
a doctor who will tell me I need some sort of major operation
that will hurt an awful lot.   I'll work from home until I can drive 
well enough but will probably not be taking that vacation day 
on Friday to walk around libraries for the book sale.

Do you know what my major immediate concern is?
How will I shower, dry my hair and FIX MY HAIR in the morning.
This is TRAGIC!!

And I will miss out on the warehouse tour but hopefully can hobble
into the customer's place to meet them.
Maybe a magic fairy will make my knee better overnight.

Let's hope!
I'm not real happy right now but I've got a nice hotel,
the employees could not be nicer, truly wonderful.
I have some soda and pretzels and TV plus internet.
It could be lots worse (like if they want to do surgery),
Maybe it is just twisted.
Right?  Just twisted.


Monday, April 20, 2015

I Can Do It Too - Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

I saw the recipe for Cheddar Cheese Biscuits in the 
same issue of The Backwoodsman in which I
found my emergency lighting.  I decided I would try
and make these as well.

They have a photo in the magazine that is attributed
to Betty Crocker and not the same shape as they call
for in the instructions. I will say that the Betty Croker
photo is much more appealing than the the final product.
They call for cutting them into 2 inch squares.

These were OK.  My issue with the recipe is that
the measurements for the ingredients were ambiguous.
For someone that does not bake often, that's tragic.
They gave ranges of 1/3 to 1 tsp salt.
This could be 2/3 tsp salt less, which is a big difference.
They also ranged from 1/2 to 2/3 cup shortening,
again, a pretty big difference.

I really don't find them very tasty, perhaps due to salt
especially since our butter is not very salty.
If I add salt, they are better but, for me, not 
worth making again so I won't bother with the recipe.

My husband liked them but says they would be better 
baked with lard.  He says shortening adds a bitterness to them.
I will say h says it tastes just like a campfire biscuit
so these may be a win at the campfire, 
but no so much in my kitchen.