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.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Storm Damage Clean Up

This is always the thing you want to see when you look
at your giant, leaning tree that is near the driveway.
It's only a matter of time.
Then, will it fall or get hung up in all the other trees in its path?

We had a similar situation with another large tree
on the other side of the front yard.  A storm came
through that left the torn and twisted top hanging from
the top.  Finally storm #2 came through and took about
half of it down.  With the help of a ladder, the other half might 
just be low enough to attach a chain to it and pull it away with the tractor.  

Taylor, our granddaughter, is very helpful.
She always offers to drive the four wheeler when there
is work to be done!  I am not certain she realizes
she's doing any work though based on her big smile.

There are a few other large limbs hanging on so
you need to be mindful of them as you walk about.

Cousin Gabe discovered the window had been shattered
in the camper and glass all over the ground.  This side
faces away from the house so we had not noticed it.

We're not done with Spring storms, there should be 
some big ones in May and June.  My work location is
moving a mile farther up the road.  After 15 years of covered parking,
we will be in a regular parking lot.  I've never had covered
parking in the past but you sure do get spoiled 
with the little perks like covered parking 
 and a tunnel into the building to stay out of the elements.
I guess I'll have to get one of those sunshades because
I have a black interior and it will surely be hot.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Decorating the Compost Pile

Our granddaughter, Taylor, and her friends took great pride in
decorating the compost pile!  We could hear them laughing,
screaming and running about; however, we didn't expect this!

They created steps from rocks and lined them 
with May apple greenery topped by sprigs of redbud.

It is an awfully nice embellishment but we are still 
wondering what the fascination with a pile of horse poop,
wood chips and other decaying organic matter is.
They sure have a good time with it!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Morels Are Here

The morels are here!
We've been watching beneath the ash trees where they 
grew last year.  Between yesterday and this morning they
appeared out of nowhere.

When he picks them he tries to shake them up a bit 
so some of the spores remain next season.  You have to
make certain you are picking morels, not false morels. 
See the link here for false morel identification.
The Missouri Dept of Conservation has some good 
links here covering not only false morels but other
good types along with recipes.  

Supposedly the best spots are under elm, tulip, old apple
trees and ash trees, they say preferably dead, 
after the ground has been disturbed - such a disruption
caused by water rushing over it or the leaves disturbed.
He found these so far and will check tomorrow morning
when they are easier to spot.

My granddaughter will be so disappointed.  
She fell in love with fried morels at our friend's place
last year when they had a blue gill and mushroom fry.
She won't be with us this weekend, and we will 
cook them tomorrow for dinner.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Pretty Blooming Spring

Spring sure has a way of putting a little beauty in everything.

See some of our Spring flowers at 

This is a blog I had for a little while to separate subjects but
found it difficult to maintain two plus everything else.
I had a nice comment a few days ago so I thought I would 
post here periodically.

Happy Spring

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Can Do It Too- Emergency Lighting

Emergency Lighting is the first in my series
I Can Do It Too
I have been reading various issues of The Backwoodsman
which has both feature articles in addition to handy
tips on how to do things and quick recipes.  As I am 
reading I keep thinking I can do it too
So I am going to try.

The issue where you can find this tutorial

Items Needed
A cat food tin or similar small round tin such as a tuna can
An aluminum soda can
a 3/4 x 5 inch strip of blue jeans
Cooking oil such as vegetable oil
tin snips or scissors 
something to make flame (a lighter/matches)

I started with an empty tin of cat food
(the cats benefited greatly from this experiment)

Cut the center out of a soda can.

I used tin snips but you could use scissors as the article
mentions; however, scissors can be dulled by the metal
or since we had tin snips, I used them as well as a leather
glove just so I did't poke my fingers as I was cutting it.
Trim it to fit inside the tin.  My tin was smaller than
the one used in the magazine so I had to trim accordingly. 

Bend the metal so it forms an upside down "V"
Snip a hole in the center to thread the blue jeans through.
I think I should have made a smaller hole but it worked.

Thread the strip of blue jeans through the hole.
Adjust so about 1/8 inch is sticking up. 
This photo shows the jeans before adjustment 
to make it easier to view.

Fill the tin with oil but not to the very top.
Allow the jeans to wick up the oil.  The article says you
can add a drop or two to the top of the jean wick to 
help matters along.  Once it has saturated the jeans, 
light the blue jean wick and watch it flame.

For caution, I did this outside and sat it in our fire pit 
where it would stay out of the breeze and if spilled,
it would be safe.  (Safety First!!)

The article said their candle burned for six hours
without using hardly any fuel.  I blew mine out after 
three hours since I had to leave and as mentioned,
I could not tell that anything had been used up.

It smoked a little at first which was either from
the oil or the length of the wick, or both.  I 
would be cautious if using it indoors since it is oil
and can spill but it certainly put out light for a long while.

I have a few other experiments to try, some from
Backwoodsman and other sources.  My husband tells me
this is Kathy's Summer of Learning while he shows me
how to work on things around the house that he generally
takes care of such as minor tractor repair, the septic system,
household appliances, etc.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Wash Out and Flood Conditions

Three inches of rain came down in a half hour
resulting in flooding like we have not seen in 
our area for many years.  Not only was the low water 
bridge under, it covered our county road and flooded
farm fields tearing down fences and stranding motorists.
Even in town water rescues were conducted in areas
that you would never expect. 

 Barricades have been erected just past the entrance to our county road 
after the bridge washed out so who knows how long the residents 
will have to travel extra miles to get to the other side.

My husband snapped a few shots while I was at work.
The frog pond on the wall is overflowing and a river 
traveled across the courtyard, flowing down the hill
towards the coop and taking all the rock under the 
coop deck with it.    This frog pond is severely cracked
and holds very little water so for it to overflow is 
amazing and devastating to the poor frogs.

What was more amazing is that it scoured all the large 
rocks that fill the road's three feet deep culvert.

Pushing the rock to the bottom of the ridge 

and creating a dam at the bottom.  We have to 
arrange for a backhoe to come out and correct it.

As you can see, these are no little rocks.

This is where it all ended up.  Again, this was 3ft deep.

I was concerned that all my routes were under water
but I was able to get home using the highway.  Many 
times the place I turn onto the highway is flooded
in smaller rains but I was lucky this time.  All the other
routes were not passable.  More rains were expected
on Thursday so I worked from home just to be safe.
There were two very large storms, one early and the 
other with winds up to 72 mph which collapsed a couple
of buildings near where I work in town.  It eventually crossed
over into Illinois where it continued to cause damage. 

Friday morning I called the highway patrol as I crossed 
the major intersection out here.  The storm had blown so 
hard that the Stop sign was facing the wrong direction 
so the road with the stop no longer had one
and the sign was now facing the 55 mph county letter highway
where locals would not anticipate a stop.  
It was a bad situation, especially with a detour in place
due to the washed out bridge.  They were calling
MODOT to come out and fix the signs.  I saw they were heavily
braced by the time I came home that evening.  

The weekend is nice but we expect more rains on 
Sunday and Monday but hopefully not severe weather.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bugs and Blooms

The plum tree was a hub of activity, literally hundreds of
flies bees and other winged creatures soaring in and
out of the blooms.  One poor fat bumble had a mid air
collision with a smaller flying bee.  I'm not so sure 
it was an accident!

The dandelions are blooming too.

As well as the wild violets.

I picked some tall grass next to the garden beds that turned
out to be a pretty delicious snack for the birds.

The buckeyes are one of the earliest bloomers.
We have two up by the road and a smaller one
over in the garden area.  They are very distinctive
so it's easy to spot them but more difficult
to find the buckeyes after the fall.  They are 
either buried in the leaves or taken away by animals. 

This isn't my tree but I found it blooming across the road.
I don't remember it from last year.
Any ideas of what it is?

When I turned over this broken chicken statue
(I don't know why but I keep the head in the garden)
I sent an entire colony of ants into a panic.
I replace the head and patted down the leaves so
I hope they are happy again.

Specks enjoys sleeping beneath the viburnum bushes
I have on the garden wall. I trimmed them up so
she had more room as they provide a lot of shade
in the summer.  

We're anticipating another round of storms, some 
potentially severe towards mid to end of the week.
There are a couple of trees that I have concern about,
one that could block the driveway until it's sawed up.

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Springs Blooms

Just about the time that the snow and frost left, the rains began.
It suddenly warmed up into the 70's for a short stretch resulting
in beautiful blooms on the fruit trees!  The Dutchman's Breeches
are bordering on amazing with their tiny pantaloons blowing in the breeze.

We were very lucky to have the blooms survive the strong storms
that brought lightning and hail across the area on earlier in the week.
Last year we had a late frost that took all the blooms so I have
my fingers crossed this year.  It might be nice to see a plum
or two this season.

The peach tree has never provided very large fruit
and what it does produce is typically eaten by bugs.
I was excited last year when there were so many peaches
that I almost had to brace it up. That problem was solved
when a group of deer at every. single. one. overnight!!!

One drawback to the nice weather is that it is nice for bugs too.
The caterpillars love this red bush and practically
devour it in a matter of days.  I spotted the web so
I will destroy it before they can grow larger. 
I want to try and avoid any chemicals.

This is little Gimps.
She is a baby of one of the strays we used to have
and received her name when she fell off the wood pile 
as a kitten.  She was gimped up for a bit and it stuck.
She's not very social, except that I am her human; however,
she doesn't care for other cats so I let her live in the garage
and sneak her in when I can.  She sits on my lap and looks
around the house with eyes as big as saucers.
The TV and ceiling fans must be very, scary, things!

She enjoys taking walks with me and follows me to the garden
whenever she sees me walking up that way.  This day she was 
helping me take inventory of the frogs that are living in our
garden wall pond once again.  We have to replace it now
that it has cracked but I can't do anything until they are grown!
It seems that I am the only one in the entire county that likes
to hear them sing at night.  There are so many that it can be
deafening but lulls me to sleep!

I've had a sinus infection and trying to get past the antibiotics
that were prescribed to me.  I suppose they like to change them
up so your body doesn't get used to one type.  I can take only
Clindamycin without feeling terrible but he sent a Zpack
and I have every side effect that goes with zithromax.
Other antibiotics make me feel like I have the flu on top of
whatever they are trying to cure.  

Hopefully this will pass in a matter of days