Pictures of the Girls (Finally!)

Today’s Post Courtesy of Jessica Here are a couple of pictures of Henrietta. She’s so cute!
Here’s one of the little girls (that aren’t so little anymore)
hiding in the trees by our house
Here’s Millie, her comb is finally coming in.
She’s roosting on the lawn furniture.

The little girls love wander all over the yard.
There’s speedy, running like always…
Hallie and one of the white chickens searching for

snacks by our neighbor’s garage
Here’s my mom with Henrietta. She is such a cutie!

Here’s me and speedy. Speedy is still the runt
and she is super clumsy.

Hallie has the biggest comb of all. But weirdly enough

she doesn’t lay as regularly as Henrietta and Millie

Henrietta and Millie just hanging out
All of the girls love to eat blackberries out of your
hand. Ducky, BB, and Speedy all want this one.

Orthopedic Nightmare

I’ve had degenerative joint disease for ages – my Dad had it, another of my siblings has it. My maternal grandmother had osteoporosis, my Mom had osteopenia. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis before my DS, as well. (Thankfully, with good supplementation, losing the weight, and weight-bearing activity/exercise I’ve improved to osteopenia!)

At 365 pounds I was wheelchair-bound – for a couple of years. My pain level had been at a constant 7 or 8 on the fabulous 1 to 10 scale. Had two knee (one on each knee) surgeries the year prior to my WLS. Was told that the level of degeneration on the knees is at about 3.5 to 4. My patella looks something like shag carpet. Definitely bone on bone on both knees. Not pretty. Had my DS – lost 210 pounds, my wheelchair, and the high pain level – was living life at more of a 2 to 3, than the previous 7 to 8. Funny how invincible we feel when we lose the weight, huh?

So the orthopedic issues never went away (duh!) – they, of course, improved without the extra couple of hundred pounds around. I got active – really active! Yeah, probably overdid a bit now and then – kinda trying to make up for lost time, you know?

I’d been told before my DS that I’d need both knees replaced. About 5 years ago they told me to hold out as long as possible – but to think around 10 to 15 years out. I’d been focusing on the knees, the back, the ankles – but kinda forgot about the fact that my hip pain could seriously sideline me as well.

I was shocked and surprised a little over a year ago when I went in for a check-up for what I assumed was a torn or sprained something in my hip to find that my hip needed to be replaced – like a while ago. I was 43 at the time. Me? Hip replacement? Saw an excellent surgeon, got a 2nd opinion – it was unanimous – the hip must be replaced! So, August 23, 2007 I had total right hip replacement.

Can I just say here and now that I have a WORLD of respect for old people who have hip replacement done? OH MY WORD! Wow! What a surgery! BUT – I can say with absolute assurance that when I woke up after surgery I knew immediately that my pain was better – how wild is that? I was amazed, as well, at the little 86 year old lady who would lap me as we were walking our laps in the hall! LOL!

What I didn’t know then was that when they replace your hip, they do their best to make your legs the same length. My new hip makes my right leg 5 mm longer than my left leg. Not much, you’d think, right? Well, it can be a big deal. Long story short (believe me, it’s REALLY long!) that leg length discrepancy has changed the trajectory on my left ankle – and the degeneration there has accelerated at mind-blowing speed. In short – I’m losing my mobility again.

I’ve been referred to NINE (yes, that’s 9) different specialists. It’s both encouraging and dismaying to hear the surgeon who is thought of as a regional leader in his field say, “You need someone with more skill than I have.” when you go in for a consult. They’re talking ankle replacement now. I laughed when the idea was first raised – I thought they were joking, right?! Ankle replacement? Do they really do that? Well, yeah, actually, they do. Who would have thunk?

So – last specialist (who treats the professional athletes in the region for foot/ankle problems) said – wait 5 years if at all possible. The only way he’d say go for it for surgery (aka replacement) right now is if I lose my mobility completely before then. Problem is – there’s less than a 50% chance of success – it’s a new specialty. There need to be lots of advancements in the field. With my other orthopedic issues – I’d likely not be in the success group.

So – I find myself contemplating some big stuff. It’s daunting. Since I’m a DS post-op with pylorus still intact – no NSAID prohibition. But I’m allergic to the world – so finding pain control that doesn’t leave me in anaphylaxis or a zombie is difficult. When I’m in Europe I pick up the 600 mg Ibuprofen tablets – if I pop 2 or 3 of those at a time, then the pain can be at least headed off a bit.

I find myself thinking thoughts about how stupid I’ve been in the past 6 years – pushing the limits on what I could/should do given my orthopedic issues. It wasn’t so much that I was ignorant – as just downright stupid. Funny how we chalk everything up to the weight – and then when the weight is gone – hmmm. got some things to reconsider, huh?

So – I alter my thinking a bit. I strategize a lot more. I consider my options. I know that in the coming years the ankle will go, the knees will go, and because I was young when I had my hip replaced, that will need replaced again in maybe another 20 years. I know with assurance that I’d rather NOT lose the mobility! I have three teenagers – Lord! – I NEED my mobility! I’m with the rest of you who have voiced similar thoughts, though- why not do something NOW – rather than wait until we’re older to address some of these issues? I understand if it’s a new field or medical advances are right around the corner – but stink – keep us moving! That will keep us healthier!

Okay, I admit it…

Getting a good downpour is GREAT for weeding. I can grudingly admit that. I will not however, proclaim my love for October weather in August! But, I can concede that the rain did, in fact, give the garden just the soaking it was needing after our long dry spell.

…but telling when mushrooms start popping up all over the place!
The bush beans are loaded! So we picked a whole bunch of them – 5 pounds of them to be exact. We ate a pound of them with dinner – they were lucious! And canned the rest… see?
We got 9 pints out of the 4 remaining pounds. Not bad, huh?
And – finally! – some ripe tomatoes! It’s a good thing we’ve got lots of cherry tomatoes… I must have eaten about 20 of them while I was weeding!
It’s interesting that the yellow pear tomatoes are so fleshy this year. Their color is so much more profound this year, as well.
And the yellow tomatoes are ripening nicely.

I’m finding that I like the bush cucumbers better this year, as well. They grow very uniformly, and the taste is excellent. My favorite eating cucumber is the lemon cucumber – but this one comes in close second. We harvested 13 cucumbers today – 1 lemon, 4 straight 8’s, and 8 bush.

I know next to nothing about eggplants. Grammy used to grow them in her garden in California and I remember that they were huge and nearly black (obviously the Black Beauty variety). It wasn’t until I was older that I developed a taste for them, and this is the first time we’ve tried to grow them. This is the Ichiban variety – it will be interesting to see how they develop. I’m not even sure how large they should be when they are harvested! Looks like I’ve got some reading to do!

All three of John’s pepper plants are loaded – some of the peppers are actually nearing appropriate size to pick – now all they need is a little more sunshine to start to develop their colors!
The middle girls are growing up! This is Speedy and a couple of her bunkmates – the California Whites. The California Whites are so difficult to tell apart that they’ve never gotten themselves named. Well, they are very anti-social so a few names have been called, but not the kind one should perpetuate!

These “middle girls” are quickly nearing laying age. They will be 18 weeks old on September 1st. It will be interesting to see how they ease into that phase.

And it’s time to pick blackberries again! Couldn’t you just reach right out and pick these and pop them into your mouth?

That would be great if they weren’t ALL THE WAY UP THERE!

I’m thinking we’re gonna have to break out the tall ladder!

There’s so much that I should be doing in the garden today – but it’s Portland CityFest today and tomorrow. So the garden must wait! I mean – seriously – how often is Kirk Franklin in Portland?! Hello! Can’t miss him! And tomorrow night – Toby Mac! We’re really looking forward to the entire event… Hopefully I’ll get some blackberries picked in the morning and made into syrup before we head out tomorrow. We’ll see…

Glimpses of Fall

I refused at the time to admit I saw it, but I did. I know I did. Not just because I saw it, but because one of the kids did, too – and had the nerve to verbalize it…

“Look! Mom! That tree… it’s starting to turn!”

A perfectly innocuous thing to say, but it does not jive well with my current state of impending Fall denial!

I don’t want it to be fall yet.

I’m still just trying to settle into summer and truly savor the glory of it all.

I don’t want the kids to go back to school yet.

I don’t want to be cold yet. (Well, but I’d also not like to be quite as hot as the past week has been either! Finicky, huh?!)

I don’t want to get rained on a bunch yet.

And I’m not ready for the gray days yet.

See – it’s not really Fall I’m dreading, is it? It’s more winter. Fall is just the first step toward winter, of course. Fall can be simply glorious here. I love the years when we have a lingering summer and enjoy dry, temperate weather far longer than is typical. I could go for a Fall like that.

It’s hard to be in Fall denial, though, when one spends hours upon hours at the high school getting the kids’ schedules and yearbooks and textbooks and photos taken care of!

It’s hard to be in Fall denial, as well, when the high today was I think less than 70 degrees.

And it’s hard to be in Fall denial when it rained – not just a tad bit – and soaked the yard (and me!), and looked not so much like summer – gray, damp, a little bit dreary.

But, I’ll survive it. I don’t know why it’s so profound this year. Maybe it’s because I’ve got two kids in high school this year? Maybe cause I’m feeling like the time is short to hold them tight and love them well? Maybe because my neice and nephew started their school year today, now that they are safely back to their own home after having spent the better part of the summer here.

Whatever the case, I’ll reflect on these lovely verses:

Be glad, O people of Zion,
rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
‘I will repay you for the years
the locusts have eaten —
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—my
great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the Lord your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.
Joel 2:23-27 (NIV)
It really is about perspective, isn’t it? Seasons are a good thing. And once again, I’m thinking too far ahead – not reveling in the beauty of this lovely remaining season and the good things God has in store for me while it yet remains. So I’ll try not to miss the present in anticipation of the future.

The thrill…

Will I always feel that thrill when I open the door to the nest boxes and see this? Will I ever be able (willing?) to go to the coop and check for eggs without camera in tow? I’m sure that at some future point in time it will change from a feeling of utter delight to drudgery perhaps… maybe in the dead of winter? Nah… I don’t think so!

I actually have a spreadsheet that I’m keeping that includes which hen laid which egg, what time of the day, how much said egg weighed, and the age of the hen. I’m sure some additional fields will eventually make their way in there, but thus far, these fields seem to be sufficient. I’m such a wierdo sometimes! LOL!

Suffice it to say that the egg watch has retained it’s high level of importance at our house – from the youngest kid on up – we’re all still thrilled with the discovery of a new egg.

Today Millie joined the egg-laying ranks! Woo Hoo! Her first egg was 1.5 ounces – just like Henrietta’s first real egg. But note the difference in color! Millie’s egg is on the left, Henrietta’s is on the right. Interestingly enough, Henrietta is the lightest in color of our three Rhode Island Reds. Wild, huh?

Henrietta’s egg shown here was 2.25 oz – thus far two of hers have been 1.5 oz, and two have been 2.25 oz. We haven’t cracked the second 2.25 oz egg yet, but the first one was a double yolker. Jonathan has dibs on the second one, and I’m sure will be a part of his breakfast in the morning!

This is the first time I’ve raised eggplant. This is an Ichiban variety, and is supposed to be good eats. If lovliness of a plants flower has any weight for the flavor argument, this one is gonna be really good. Wow – isn’t it gorgeous?
John’s pepper plants seem to have gone bezerk all of a sudden. One day you can’t find a pepper, the next, this!
Tonight at dinner John actually took one of these Hungarian wax peppers and diced it to enjoy with the tacos. (Yes, he was the only one interested in consuming it!) He reported that it’s a very sweet pepper thus far, but he’s read it has the potential to kick some serious butt!

Aren’t they gorgeous?
And look! The new planting of green beans are doing their thing!

By the way… I know this is difficult to see, but if you’re good at deciphering clues, you’ll find as we did – HOOF PRINTS! That’s not all we’ve found… more plants uprooted, green tomatoes with bites out of the sides of them, etc. Darn deer!

Thankfully, we’ve got enough tomatoes that the few the deer have gone after thus far have been inconsequential. (I could get QUITE cranky, however, if they don’t watch it!)

Last year our cherry tomato offerings were a little bit paltry. That will not be the case this year!

I think one of the most astounding things in life is to find a tiny little zucchini one day, and the next come back to find a ready to pick and consume fruit!

Of course, there is no such thing as too much yellow crookneck squash, but WOW – we’re getting lots of it, and it’s only just begun! Isn’t it pretty?

I’m watching the berry bushes daily (and of course quality control testing) the fruit to determine if it’s time to start picking. I hope to harvest many, many times in the coming weeks so that we’ll have plenty of jam, jelly, syrup, pie filling, and frozen fruit. I’m sure I’ll find some other things to do with the berries, too – just give me a little time! 🙂

And our first green bean patch is growing like crazy – there are blossoms all over, and baby beans left and right – hooray! I can hardly wait to start canning these for the coming year!

We took a ride out to Ag West today to pick up a couple of things. My heart just yearns for a place that we can call our own… driving through the countryside just outside of the urban growth boundary was a call to my heart… oh, please Lord! Let there be a place for us one of these days!

25 hours later…

Can you see her in there? There’s our Henrietta – who for the better part of an hour hung out in “her” nest box (bottom right) – arranging the pine shavings, moving the wooden egg here or there, squking now and then, and as William observed, “looking kinda angry!”

Yesterday we retrieved egg number 1 at 1:08 p.m. Today, egg number 2 was retrieved at 2:08 p.m. According to Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow, “Approximately ever 25 hours, one ovum acquires enough layers of yolk to be released into the oviduct…”

So, makes sense, huh?

And not only did she prove to be consistent in terms of timing – the next quote from Damerow, “As a hen gets older, her eggs get bigger.”

Yep! Yesterday’s egg was 1.5 ounces. Today a whopping 2.25 ounces.


That means egg number 2 is just shy of the jumbo eggs that we purchase, and nearly double of yesterday’s egg!


As William reported today, “Henrietta rocks!”

I think he’s absolutely correct!

It’s an egg!

Today – a full week after the first (sort of) egg was laid we heard Henrietta squaking like there was no tomorrow. We were eating lunch and could hear her all the way into the house – pretty unusual – but we’ve heard her loud before. This time, it was pretty sustained.

After lunch William went out to investigate, and came back yelling, “It’s an EGG!” To which we dropped everything, grabbed the camera and raced out to the coop – where Henrietta was smart enough to lay her egg – in an actual nest box. Good chicken!

Isn’t it cute? The wooden egg on the left is pretty good sized, but this is decidedly a petite egg.

But pretty, huh?

Compared to the Jumbo sized eggs we buy (which weighs in at 2.75 oz) I don’t think our 1.5 oz egg looks too bad, do you?

Here she is – the woman of the hour – Henrietta! I’m so proud of her!

Here’s hoping it doesn’t take a whole week for the next egg!