The last few weeks have been emotionally bumpy but I’ve tried to stay busy. Focusing on individual tasks has been a good distraction and there are MOUNTAINS of tasks needing attention. I’ve also re-discovered the joy of cleaning (!). I love that I can scrub away years of grime and things stay clean. DH was a mindlessly sloppy person and I had given up on cleaning behind him. It was one of those battles I quit fighting.
I’m also enjoying re-discovering my independence. Yes, I can saw lumber, mow grass, change light bulbs, cook on the grill, burn trash, grocery shop and all the other chores DH had normally done. I’m proud to be finding my ‘roar’ after all these years.
I was worried I might fall into poor eating habits as I’ve witnessed so many of my single peers do. Yes, I’ve eaten a couple of ‘convenience meals’ but still prefer cooking (and eating) from scratch. I’ve learned to make half the quantity and often have enough for multiple meals. Because I enjoy baking, this week (for the first time), I made English muffins. I love them and am thrilled to find they are so cheap and easy to make. They’re freezable too!
Today, I will bake several versions of oatmeal cookies. I don’t care to eat oatmeal for breakfast but this will be a good way to use the new carton of DH’s oatmeal taking up space in the pantry and have sweet treats for Jacob when he visits in the coming days. I will also make pita bread for quick lunches I know we’ll enjoy.
I’ve continued working on the String Pyramids quilt. I was originally making it for DH but now it’s for his empty bed. It’s pretty and keeps my hands busy as I relax in the evenings.
Bob lost his gallant fight against bladder cancer on 06/30/16 at 2:26 p.m. at age 65. We’ve lost a good husband, father, brother, friend and an excellent artist, auto bodyman, brisket bbq’er, bonfire burner, dish washer and garden tiller. He will be missed more than his humility would allow him to expect. Rest well, dear husband and enjoy the reunion with those who have preceded you.
What a crazy 2 weeks it has been!
DH Bob became quite ill so DS Jacob decided to come in a little early for Father’s Day to see his dad. We debated whether to take him to the hospital immediately but kept hoping he would improve on his own. He did not.
By Sunday, he was still extremely ill and after talking to the doctors at MD Anderson Emergency Department, I packed his things and dressed him. Jake loaded him into the car and they were on their way. I frankly wasn’t certain Bob would survive the trip.
He was admitted immediately but had to wait for an available room. After evaluation, he was transferred to ICU. He was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, calcium overload, limited kidney function, and the list goes on and on. He was put on a ventilator and dialysis. Because he was extremely uncomfortable and kept pulling at his breathing tube, the doctors put him into a coma. He has remained knocked out and unaware for a week. Jacob has spent most of his time with Bob or driving back and forth (3 hours each way in infamous Houston traffic) to Grapeland for showers and home cooked meals. Vending machine and fast food get old quick.
In the meantime, I’ve stayed home keeping our business afloat, harvesting the garden, canning 21 quarts of tomatoes, tending the critters and generally keeping busy. I went with Jacob for a hospital visit and plan to return this week. Though I hate all the traffic and noise of Houston, I was impressed with MD Anderson’s HUGE campus and how the doctors and nurses are never too rushed to talk to family, respectfully explaining diagnoses, prognoses and the steps of his care. I have absolutely no doubt Bob is getting the very best, most compassionate care possible.
As of yesterday, Bob has improved enough the doctors are lessening his coma and expect to remove the breathing tube in the next day or two. They are taking it extremely slowly as to not shock his system. They still feel he can overcome this current illness and receive his first immunotherapy treatment before returning home. We are hopeful it all works out. We’re not quite ready to let him go.
Lately, in taking a more active role in grocery shopping (I used to make the list and Bob would shop), I purchased the few things needed and made kolaches last night. The yeast we had was about to expire so I felt the need to use it and after reading a few recipes, I felt I could do it. I already had cheddar and feta cheeses, jalapenos and home-baked ham. I purchased cocktail sausages and fresh baby spinach. They turned out pretty good but the next time I make them, I’ll use less dough-to-filling ratio. I’ll freeze these, then pull them out and reheat them as we need a quick breakfast, lunch or road food.
Yippee yea! It’s finally done! The denim rug is finished and ready to greet folks entering our kitchen door, or for that matter, bid them adieu as they leave. It’s a tough rug so I’m confident it can stand up to lots of foot traffic… for decades! I love it’s made from our own old jeans though it added much work to ‘de-pocket’, ‘de-seam’ and cut into usable strips. I only used the back section of legs as our old jeans fronts are always worn to rags. I estimate 30+ pairs of jeans were used to make the rug with scraps to spare for future projects.
Between rain storms (and we’ve had PLENTY!), I’ve harvested more garden veggies. Yesterday, DH and I made stuffed bell peppers using not only peppers from the garden, but also home canned tomatoes from last season. We added meaty spaghetti sauce from the freezer (also with home canned tomatoes) that DH made several weeks ago. I have to say these were the very best stuffed bell peppers I’ve ever eaten!!
DH is feeling stronger each day but is still experiencing pain in his upper chest/shoulder area. He’s waiting to hear back from the doctor’s office for his next appointment. Hopefully, they will finally figure out the cause and treat it.
It’s another rainy day here so I think I’ll drag out an unfinished quilt and add some stitches. I have several at different stages so a variety of work from which to choose. String Pyramids is calling for attention.
Lately, things have been quiet on the blog but not so here at home. In fact, when considering doctors, hospitals and our nutzoid weather, things have hedged on being crazy!
DH was approved for participating in a study at MD Anderson and was instructed to show up early Sunday, May 15 for pre-treatment tests. He had to leave here at 4 a.m. to arrive on time.
After several tests and during an EKG, DH mentioned experiencing pains in his upper chest near his shoulder. The techs immediately called an ambulance to transport him from the Clinic side of the complex to the Emergency Room. There he stayed for several hours, hooked to a heart monitor and EKG. It was deemed he was not experiencing a heart attack and was released. With traffic backed up for 50+ miles because of a double fatality accident, DH did not arrive back home until after 1 a.m. It was certainly a LONG day for a guy feeling less than 100%.
The next day (Monday) DH’s oncologist got wind of the Emergency Room visit and test results. She contacted DH and insisted he return to the ER as blood clots are not unusual for folks having received large amounts of chemotherapy (as DH has). She had contacted the ER and chewed ass, instructing them of the blood clot possibility and the immediate need for a CAT scan. Unfortunately, this meant Bob had another 3 hour drive in less than optimal conditions. Though I offered to drive him, he was determined to arrive on his own and return home that evening.
As it turns out, Bob’s plans didn’t pan out. He was run through a battery of tests by the ER physicians (amazing what an ass chewing can cause) and Bob was in the hospital until the following Sunday when he insisted on coming home.
On Monday, DH was contacted by an MDA’s heart physician, instructing Bob needed a stent procedure to be performed at Hermann Hospital on Wednesday. Bob was to check in at 7 a.m. to be prepped for the procedure. Yep, you guessed it…. another EARLY morning, 3 hour drive to Houston!!!
Our son and his lady were already planning an extended visit over Memorial Day weekend. They altered their plans a bit, took a few extra days off and arrived late Tuesday night to accompany Bob to the hospital. Bob was to stay overnight so the kids decided to get a room near the hospital to avoid an additional round trip to Houston.
While all of this was going on, I stayed home and held down the fort with our small business, tended the garden and cared for our critters, all during epic rains, round after round of lightning storms, hail and area tornadoes. Thankfully, the worst of the weather skirted us and other than being very soggy, we were unscathed.
While everyone was away, I decided we would need lots of food for the returning troops so I thawed a small turkey and a big brisket. On Saturday, Bob and Jake slow-smoked both and with the addition of garlic mashed potatoes and au jus flavored with diced onions, we ate until we were silly! There was plenty left to share with the kids and freeze for quick, easy meals later.
The kids left for home mid-day yesterday. The house is now too quiet and I have unspent energy. I decided to harvest the first row of bell peppers and process them for the freezer. I also picked enough zucchini squash for a big side dish for dinner tonight and a few Cubanelle peppers to cook with freshly picked yellow squash tomorrow. I saw many jalapeño peppers to harvest in the next few days. All these peppers will add so much flavor to future meals.
I’ve continued to work on the denim rug and am very close to finishing. I’ve also done a little sewing, making comfy shorts for Jacob and hemming some shorts for myself.
Bob continues to feel better each day and is now spending time out of bed and watching videos. His coloring is better too. As soon as his heart doctor releases him, he will start his new cancer treatment…. more weekly trips to Houston!
For the past week, there has been a radical slow down of any production from me. I have a blown disk in my neck causing stiffness and pain radiating into my left shoulder. This has happened before so I’m familiar with the pain, treatment and exercises to perform. Unlike the past, I don’t know what caused it this time. The only unusual activity I’ve done is pick a few dewberries along with DH, denim rug wrestle and hoe weeds in the garden. Shoot, regardless of the cause… the pain is the same.
DH has managed to pick dewberries twice so I’ve made muffins with fresh berries and froze enough to make four more batches. I love cooking with dewberries and wish I had more. They make the best jelly in the world but because of the late freeze this Spring, our crop is limited and the individual berries aren’t very large. They are still so tasty!
Until my shoulder pain became too severe, I’ve continued to slowly weave the denim rug. As it gets closer to finished, I’ve gotten more and more excited. I love how it looks and am anxious to use it in our kitchen. The design is made of 10 rows of faded, recycled denim (from our own old jeans), then 5 rows of new midnight blue denim fabric from my stash. I’m not delusional that this design will finish evenly so it remains to be seen how the rug will appear when done. It may have a wider or narrower dark stripe in the center. Either will be attractive and the rug will be so fun to use!
For the next rug, I plan to use the huge stash of rip-stop nylon from my fabric stash. Most of the colors are bright and I will use the rug outside the kitchen door in the carport where it will handily eliminate so much sand from being tracked into the house… at least, that’s my hope! It will be a great way to purpose that space-eating, large collection. It’s time to use it or chunk it and will be so much softer, more pliable and easier to weave than denim! I’m looking forward to it.
The garden continues to flourish with multiple little veggies on most plants. If the weather holds and we have no hail, I will have plenty of tomatoes to can and gobs of bell peppers to chop and freeze. I use ½ – 1 bell pepper nearly every meal I cook so having them chopped and frozen will be very convenient and save much time during meal preparation.
Jacob and Stormy are planning to visit this weekend. There are problems on our Internet network needing Jake’s magic touch. Blasted lightning!! I’m soooo looking forward to seeing them and have begun planning menus, doing a little cleaning and clutter busting.
No matter where you are or plans you’ve made, I hope you have a joyous Mother’s Day weekend!
I’d really like to be a better baker and the only way that can be accomplished is PRACTICE! After making three successful batches of cinnamon rolls, today I decided to bake some blueberry muffins. They turned out great!
I know for most cooks, these are mindlessly simple accomplishments but I’m starting from below-scratch with my lifelong aversion to baking and long line of disasters. I’m hoping to build my confidence with a string of successes and develop a love of the craft.
The house smells wonderful and DH definitely enjoys treats from the oven accompanying his afternoon and evening coffee. He’s always complimentary and never leaves any to go stale. He even cleans the kitchen after my baking sessions!! Unfortunately, he doesn’t eat them all and doesn’t wrestle me away from them. Willpower has never been my strong suit!
I’m sure baking is only a current trend. During our hot summers, I avoid using the oven so I will bake as long as Spring temperatures continue. I’ll give some thought to developing a new talent for Summer…. maybe I should try exercising! Not likely!!
I’ve been really pleased using my second twined rug but for the third, I decided to try tackling the stack of used jeans we’ve saved through the years. Many of them have holes in the fronts and the leg backs are faded but still usable.
I spent several days ‘de-boning’ jeans; removing the rear pockets, cutting away the zippers, yokes, waistbands and belt loops. What a chore!! I’ve gone through nearly half of them, cut the legs into strips and began twining a new rug.
For this rug, I’ve used high-quality muslin for the warp. The light, blotchy denim is from the jeans back legs and the mottled areas are where pockets were once located. The super-dark stripes are made using new midnight blue denim I’ve had in the stash for nearly 20 years. The muslin was cut into 2 ¼” strips and the denim is cut into 1 ½” strips. It takes real muscle to manipulate the thick fabric but will result in a tough, heavy duty rug/mat. It’s slow going but I’m enjoying it and plan to continue making dark and light evenly distributed stripes.
After experiencing a freeze just before Easter, we’ve planted more in the garden. We currently have 30 tomato plants, 18 bell peppers, 12 cayenne and jalapeño plants, a short row of cucumbers, yellow and zucchini squash, cantaloupes and watermelons. We’ve decided against planting peas this year as we still have lots in the freezer from last season. This frees up lots of space. If the garden is as successful as it’s been in previous years, we’ll have plenty of produce to enjoy fresh and to can.
I purchased a new car last week. Kia has brought out its 2016 models and offered irresistible discounts and incentives on the 2015’s still on the lot. I took advantage and bought a Soul. The entire experience was completely painless as I had no trade-in to negotiate and with perfect credit, I wasn’t required to make a down payment and got 0% financing!
I’ve continued to enjoy making rag rugs and finished my second one. I’m now debating whether the next rug will be made with denim from old jeans or the large stash of rip-stop nylon. Either will be fun and very useful.
DH is trying to cram his week with outdoor activities. The weather is beautiful and he wants to thoroughly enjoy it before he starts another round of cancer treatments next week. His hair has grown back wonderfully thick and curly (more so than before) and I hate to see him lose it again. I’m thankful he will have reliable transportation for the long trek to Houston and I’m hoping this round is not as hard as the last. We don’t really know what to expect.
I love the slower pace of living in the country. I love never hearing a car alarm and never feeling the need to set one. It’s so peacefully quiet here, we seldom listen to music and never watch TV. We like the sound of silence (accompanied by birds or crickets or frogs). We also love no traffic jams, long lines at the store and knowing our delivery drivers’ names. It’s really a laid-back existence….
Dinner was simmering on the stove (Smothered Cabbage and Sausage) and I was sitting at my desk reading some Facebook posts when I heard ‘splat’. It wasn’t loud but unfamiliar. I thought about it for a minute then turned to see what may have made the noise. I discovered a 3 foot long dark-colored snake in the doorway leading to the master bedroom/bath. I grabbed the first thing near (the white plastic tote lid) and threw it. Not effective! The second thing I grabbed was my cellphone (so I could take a photo – pardon the quality!), all the time hollering for DH to come. These days, he’s rarely inside but he happened to come in for a cup of coffee and to check when dinner would be ready. He came quickly.
We instantly forgot about dinner. DH handed me a new mop he had purchased earlier and he ran outside for a hoe. As DH tried swishing the snake out the back door, it had other ideas and crawled toward the left behind my sewing boxes and up the wall behind books on shelves there.
DH is the kind of guy when he decides to do something, NOTHING stands in his way. Using the hoe, he proceeded to pull all the books and knick-knacks off the shelves. Stuff was flying in all directions! Then he flung my quilt frame, rug frame, rug supplies, sewing supplies, computer supplies, etc., etc., etc. After totally wrecking my room, he was able to drop the snake into a giant empty plastic tote and relocate him WAY out back. When that was done, DH politely dished up his dinner and enjoyed a peaceful evening. I was stuck cleaning up the total disaster he left behind. Nope, I wasn’t completely happy and was exhausted by bedtime.
We have no idea how the snake found his way inside but this isn’t the first time it has happened. This one is the biggest one yet and may have been inside for months! We figured he was behind the books and decided to move across the top of the door frame toward the utility closet (or vice versa). The splat I heard was him falling from the door frame onto the tile floor. For his length, he was really skinny so might have been changing locations in hopes of better hunting. I wish him well in the woods behind our property.
Though I love to cook (and totally enjoy eating!), I’ve never found pleasure in baking. When push comes to shove, I’ll put together a bundt or upside-down cake (I despise frosting!) or a pie (nut, fruit cobblers, cream or meringue) but I simply don’t enjoy the process. Other than making bread in a machine, I avoid making pastries completely.
Today’s an exception. After watching half a dozen YouTube videos, I’ve decided to try my hand at making cinnamon rolls. I love eating them and since we often have overnight visitors on the weekends, they would be a welcomed addition to our breakfasts.
Thus far, the process has been simple. The ingredients are basic and it’s almost magical to proof yeast and watch dough rise (as it’s doing now). Before long, the dough will be rolled around brown sugar/cinnamon, cut and baked. I’m looking forward to the heavenly baking smell.
With today being St. Patty’s day, I will make traditional corned beef with cabbage, carrots and potatoes for our dinner. My Scotch/Irish red-gone-grey-haired DH and I will feast!
Recently, I’ve been working on another rug. The scrappy colors in this one are more muted than the last. I’m about half finished and planning the next. In the evenings when I grow tired of ‘rugging’, I pick up String Pyramids and continue the quilting process. It’s coming along nicely too.
Later: Was hoping to snap photos of the finished cinnamon rolls but as soon as they were frosted, DH dug in and ate 3. I had 2 myself and can confirm they are YUMMY! I’ll make these babies again soon!