Getting Ready for Winter

This is a very pretty flower I picked up at Home Depot in late Spring. I wanted it in the vegetable garden because I felt it would attract pollinators. It did. It’s lovely. And, it’s pretty darn hardy. Today I transplanted it out of the garden – which hopefully will get tilled tomorrow – and into planters on the front porch. Here’s the info about this flower – Sunny Day Tickseed – a type of coreopsis. But you wanna know what bugs me about this plant? This little blurb on the plant identifier tag: “Protected by US Patent Laws and/or Canadian Plant Breeder’s Rights. Illegal propagation is prohibited.” Okay – how stupid is that?! I’m sure someone somewhere thinks it’s a good thing to have intellectual property rights to the propagation of this plant – but one has to wonder… what if it accidentally is propagated naturally? Will I be prosecuted? Ugh!

I hope this pictures comes out okay… In the background – see that truly BIG pile of leaves? The boys worked hard today to amass it. They’re planning on building a fort from the raked up leaves. Ummm… today was one of those rare REALLY blustery days here in Oregon. Supposed to be tomorrow, too… This Mom can’t help but wonder if this plan may somehow be, well, difficult to execute fully. 🙂

ALL of the animals are loving the leaves. Pepper likes to roll in them. Jake and Caleb like to curl up in them. The chickens like to scratch through them… And soon, I hope, they will be moved to my compost heap – helping to make wonderful compost for my garden one of these days!


Today John worked hard to finish up pulling up all of the remnants of the garden. The chickens LOVED following behind and scratching through everything.


Wow – it’s that time of year ago – time to start strategizing what next year’s garden will be.

It’s wild how strange it is that we’ve come full circle. No more green beans… This will be my garlic patch – and soon! Thanks to Danni‘s and Melinda‘s examples and excellent information – I will FINALLY – after years of feeling completely inadequate and definitely not smart enough to attempt it – plant my first garlic patch. Woo Hoo! I’ll be sure to report later!

And here is my piled-high compost heap. The girls are investingating – trying to determine if there’s anything worth finding in there.

And here is my new composter. Kinda wild, huh? It’s called Earthmaker – it’s an Aerobic Composter. It involves a three step process – it has three different compartments – see?

Interesting, huh? I like it thus far, and will be sure to give updates as to how effective it is – or is not!

It occurred to me today – Hey! I should harvest the seed from my basil! Why have I never thought of that before? So, I went out with my scissors and a saran wrapped basket (so anything that escapes a seed pod will not be lost between the slats of the basket), and went to work. Here’s a peek. I’ll probably get around to coaxing the seed out of the pods tomorrow – I’ll be sure to report back! But here’s a great resource I found online about harvesting basil seed.

So – it’s true… it’s full force fall with winter on the way. I find it nearly impossible to believe it’s only a week until November. But I think I’m ready for it now. I think the fact that it hasn’t been horribly soggy has helped. I may even be ready for the rain. We’ll see!
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Speedy Update

I’m leaving for Spain in less than 2 weeks.
We’re fortunate to have a willing and kindhearted chicken-watcher all lined up.
However, as you can see from the progression of these photos – Speedy just hasn’t been well – well, since mid-June.

In fact, in the past week she seems to have weakened considerably.

She tends to stay in the coop – granted, it is warmer in there – and shows little interest in much of anything.


The middle girls will huddle around her – almost like they’re trying to keep her warm and protected.

The little girls – the Welsumer’s – are not so nice. In fact, they pick on Speedy quite a bit.

Interestingly enough, the big girls have taken on more of an attitude of watching out for her, as well – especially Henrietta. (Maybe that’s because Henrietta seems to have been bumped out of her spot as queen of the hill and now is just a lowly follower!)

Whatever the case, it occurred to me that it would be a sad – and maybe unkind – thing if – for the caretaker, as well as Speedy – if she were to give up and die while we’re away.

The kids had voiced their concerns about Speedy and wondered if there wasn’t something we could do for it.

That’s when it occurred to John and I that we might know of someone who might “Speedy-sit” while we’re gone.

So on Saturday morning Speedy went to visit at Rancho de Kao – really, pretty much, chicken nirvana. Kao and Tonya are very experienced chicken-keepers who sometimes agree to help out in time of need. They have been so kind as to offer to help our Speedy out.

I should have taken pictures – it was a wonderful experience – and amazing to get to see up close and personal so many different breeds of chicken. They’ve really got a great set-up out there!

I feel so much better knowing that Speedy will get the very best care possible. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if we got word that she’d not made it. But we won’t give up hope yet – here’s hoping that Speedy is hearty and hale and ready to come home when we get home from Spain!

Will she make it through the winter?

Speedy, as you may well recall, has not had an easy time of it. She is smaller, less coordinated, definitely lowest girl on the pecking order, and well – sad. That’s her on the left.


I think it’s so interesting that some of her pals – the girls who are the same age (aka the California Whites, Ducky, and BB) will take turns hanging out with her – typically making sure she’s not alone much. Here she is with one of the Whites and BB.

We’ve talked much about the fact that Speedy may not make it through the winter. We’ve really only had a few nights where the low has gotten close to freezing – but I have to wonder as the winter progresses, will she make it? She’s so light. She seems to have so many fewer feathers than her peers. And she struggles so to do things the other girls do routinely.

She definitely has not started laying – in fact, we’d be blown away if she did! Poor thing – she’s so peeked and pathetic. We’re worried.

This is Shelly. Doesn’t she look hilarious with that crazy comb?

Here’s one of the Welsumer babies. They’re old enough to start laying now, but haven’t begun quite yet. Their combs and wattles are becoming more pronounced and redder – shouldn’t be long now.
And here’s Ducky. Remember the big conclusion that Ducky was laying those gorgeous dark eggs with the freckles? Well – ummm… maybe not! I went back to my photo archives after some suspicions and found that sure enough – our Ducky does NOT, in fact, lay those gorgeous dark freckled eggs – BB does! Ducky lays a lighter egg with lighter freckles – much like it sounds Vonda’s chick does! Just when you think you’ve figured your chicks out! LOL!

So you gotta see the new bigger run that my brilliant husband has put together!

It gives the girls a much larger area to hang out – while still being confined somewhat.

You see – they’ve developed a bit of wanderlust, these girls. I keep finding them going DOWN THE STREET toward the various neighbors yards. That had to change!

So John added this additional fenced yard. Part of it is under the big old willow, part gets sun.

Thus far, the girls seem quite happy with the new digs!

Gosh, my husband is the coolest!

What’s ideal?

At some point in time during your WLS journey you have to decide on what your goal is… What, pray tell, would your ideal weight be?

For some it’s a number on the scale.

For others it’s a milestone.

For others it’s a size on a piece of clothing.

For others it’s being able to do or NOT do something.

A lot of us have lists of 100 things. They are lists of things that you want or hope to do during the course of your weight loss and eventual completion of your weight loss. You know, things like:

1. Cross my legs.
2. Fly on a plane without a seatbelt extender.
3. Buy clothes in a regular size department.
4. Close my Lane Bryant charge card account.
5. Ride a horse.
6. Blend into the crowd…

I wish I’d kept the many I’ve read in the past seven or eight years. They’re amazing! I wish I’d made one!

Goals are amazing. They’re incredible motivators. They’re a really healthy way of saying, “Hey! Look! I’ve accomplished something!” They keep you mindful of where you started and where you hope to go.

They make you feel amazing when you accomplish them.

And they can make you feel like crud if you don’t.

So – how do you decide what ideal is? How do you know what your goal should be?

There’s the whole BMI thing – a normal BMI falls somewhere between 18.5 to 24.9. When you start as someone with a BMI of 64 that seems laughable. Strangely appealing and mythical and alluring – but laughable when compared to – well, me!

Wanna figure out what percentage of your excess weight you’ve lost? Here’s the formula:

Starting weight (SW) minus Goal Weight (GW) equals Excess Weight (EW)

Starting weight (SW) minus Current weight (CW) equals Weight Lost (WL)

Weight Lost (WL) divided by Excess weight (EW) multplied by 100 equal percentage of excess weight (PEW) lost

Example:

Jane’s SW: 330
Jane’s GW: 180
Jane’s CW: 215

SW – GW= EW330-180= 150 lbs. excess weight

SW – CW= WL330-215= 115 lbs. weight lost

WL / EW*100= PEW115/150*100= 76.67% excess weight lost

Statistically Jane is a raging WLS success. They (the ubiquitous they) say anyone who loses 50% of their excess weight and keeps it off is statistical success.

But how does Jane feel about where she’s landed at the 5 year post-op mark? Is she happy to weigh 180 pounds? Does she FEEL like a success? Is she happy where she lands? Does she stare wistfully at clothes that are 2 or 3 or 4 sizes smaller than her own?

Or does she count her blessings?

Does she decide to look at it differently – remembering to look back to where she started and say with resolution, “I’m so much better off than I was! My weight starts with a ONE, for heaven’s sake!”

The new way of qualifying your success or failure as a WLS post-op is the excess of BMI lost equation. It goes like this:

Percent BMI Loss = [(Operative BMI – Follow-up BMI) / Operative BMI] x 100.

Percent Excess BMI Loss (% EBMIL)

Since the NIH/NIDDK defined excess weight as starting at a BMI > 25, BMI units >25 have been defined as % EBMIL = 100 – [(Follow-up BMI – 25/ Beginning BMI – 25) x 100]

For example, if an individual has an initial BMI of 45, then the 20 BMI units above the upper limit of the normal of 25 BMI units represents a %EBMIL of 100; a loss of 10 BMI units (to a BMI of 35) would be a %EBMIL of 50. It is possible that %EBMIL may become the standard to present weight loss data in clinical studies of the overweight and obese.

Complex, isn’t it?

It’s one thing to look at it clinically, but it’s completely different when you factor in emotions, isn’t it?

I love Ducky

When I first started looking seriously for breeds of chickens I found an article about heritage breeds of animals… i.e., animal breeds that have been nearly forgotten and some nearly lost, due to the fact that they aren’t has hardy in large scale production. I’m a history girl… I love it. I read about it – all the time. So when found some information about Dominiques, particularly, I thought, “I want those!”

So when it came time to order, I placed an order for five Dominiques. There was a little boo boo at the feed store – my order got mixed in with a bunch of other black-ish looking chicks – and I was sent on my way with what was HOPED to be five Dominiques – plus one, just in case.

As it turns out – three of our “Dominiques” were boys. They had to go away – and they did, to a very nice farm. The other three are Ducky, BB, and Speedy. Of the three, I’m convinced that Ducky is the lone Dominique. 😦 The jury is still out on what BB is, and Speedy – well she’s a sad story all unto herself!

But Ducky… She’s so sweet! She’s so lovable. When you go outside and speak – she comes running! If you reach to pet her – she holds still so you can. She looks at you when you talk to her – and acts like she really gets what you’re saying! She’s adorable.

And… she lays the coolest looking eggs!

Aren’t they pretty? How’s that second to the left one for huge-o!?

Can you see the speckles on them? They’re very, very dark brown. Kinda freckled.
Here’s that big one – 2 and 3/8ths ounces. Wow!
I’m so glad we ended up with Ducky – she’s a wonderful chicken!

What once was our yard…

We’ve joined the ranks of those high-falutin folks the world over who have gone from septic to city sewer. Woo Hoo!

The real plus being that one doesn’t have to deal with often cantakerous and more frequently than hoped for problems with one’s septic system. The drawback… what it does to the yard!

The girls don’t seem to mind so much – lots easier to find worms this way!
See that thing that looks kinda like some sticks poking up out of the mud? That’s what’s left of the hydrangea. Yeah – really!
I will say that another big plus is the fact that my sainted husband took pity on me and laid a lovely network of stepping stones through the mud so that I don’t have to get my cast all blecky when I go out to check on the girls or collect eggs.
The yard will come back eventually, I know… But something tells me we have a long stretch of winter with mud-caked shoes ahead of us.
Yep… he is a pretty cool husband. Love those stepping stones!

Aaaagggggghhhhh!!!!!

My blog list disappeared! What will I do?! How will I keep up with everyone? How can I find them all again? Horrors!

See – that’s what I get for being busy as all get out and not spending enough time over here to have my blog list perfectly memorized, darn it! Sigh… Guess I’ll have to work at recreating it. There’s just too much good stuff out there too miss!

So – how’d a whole week go by?! Oh, yeah, that’s right – two nights in the Emergency Room with amazing asthma boy! Some of my time this week, resultingly, as simply been vaporized. There have been weighty things weighing on my mind – as always. Some of them more daunting than others… like, do we buy a house? Or don’t we buy a house? Right now – in light of the financial state of affairs of the country – not seems to be winning out. Danni left a comment on my previous post here that resonated with both John and I… something to the effect that one should perhaps not work so hard at convincing onself that a house may or may not be the right one – that you’d know. We gave a collective sigh and said, “Of course.” What a relief.

You know what? We don’t HAVE to buy a house. We can take our time. There’s no rush. PHEW!

Danni – a deep debt of gratitude bestowed upon your head! Thank you! Although, Madelyn, I must tell you how powerfully tempted we are to pack everything up and head toward your farm in Tennessee! We planned on doing just such a thing a few years ago – had a moving date, plans all made, etc… We love Tennessee. One of these days!

So… during the course of the past week a strange thing has happened… it’s morphed into fall. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it – as if feeling less than thrilled with it would have any impact whatsoever! I struggle quite a bit with kissing summer goodbye… But I’m learning to deal with it.

The change of seasons can escalate the chaos of my life basically without pause is a little dizzying. So – I’m back to the time of year when over 100 miles in a day in my little car without traveling more than 10 miles from home are back. I’ve got to get more serious about being a little more hermit-like! LOL!

I know this girl…

I’ve known her for a long time. Gosh, maybe 15 or more years. Maybe longer? I can’t remember if I knew her before I got married… maybe? Yeah – well, it’s been a while.

We’ll call her Carrie.

This girl (who, of course, is a grown up woman) is truly beautiful. Strikingly so. She’s also one of the most intelligent people I’ve met. She is gifted – works with kids in a way that few are capable of. (I’m certainly not!) She is kind, thoughtful, and sweet.

We’ve never been buddy buddy or anything. But we’ve known each other socially – from afar a bit – and had any number of very pleasant interchanges. To be honest, I’d love to know her better – but as lame as it sounds – life is busy.

Years ago – before my DS, I was the larger of the two of us. Yes, Carrie is morbidly obese. Years ago she (like me years prior to my DS) was a very healthy heavy person – no or few co-morbidities showing up. Word was out in the circles in which we travel in pretty quick order that I would be having bariatric surgery, and that I’d be going to Spain, and it really was life and death – that if I didn’t get the weight off and the co-morbidities under control – my life was forfeit.

Carrie assured me in passing one day that she’d be praying for me. I believe she meant it sincerely – she’s that kind of person. A woman of faith. A woman of integrity. I have the utmost respect for her. And I went into surgery completely believing she would – indeed – be praying for me. A gift that I personally count priceless.

Fast farward a few years… I still ran into Carrie on occasion around our area – she lives close by. Saw her at the grocery store now and then. Saw her at common interest social events. I had lost my weight… she was gaining. My heart hurt for her.

The past few years I’ve seen very little of Carrie. The one function that we both attended for years – she far more faithfully than I – she’d stopped attending quite so faithfully. Why? For one, her health. But primarily – I can feel the very footsteps that she must feel – her mobilty. Any of us who have been super super morbidly obese know how simply standing makes your back feel like it will snap in two if you have to stand a second too long. Or how difficult it is to walk under the weight of HUNDREDS of extra pounds. Or how embarrassing it is to eye a chair and wonder if it will support the bulk of your body – or horrors – not.

Here’s the thing. I’m dying to talk to her. To tell her that there’s hope.

I should back up here a bit. She’s not stupid by any means possible! She’s incredibly intelligent. Maybe even brilliant. The word genius seems completely at ease in her company.

I assume she knows about weight loss surgery in general. (Of course, other people assumed the same about me – only I didn’t!) I hope she knows that there are many types of WLS available. I desperately wish she would ask me about my experience. I long for her to know healing.

If I had the money – I would put it in an envelope and enclose a little card, along with airfare to Spain – and give her the gift that someone gave me those six plus years ago. My heart cries out to God each time this beautiful, kind, sweet, intelligent, wonderful, amazing woman comes to mind – “Please God,” I plead, “Please! Please make a way for Carrie! If you will use me to help somehow – will you make it clear? Will you bless her, please? Will you bring healing for her, soon, please Lord?!”

I am near tears right now as I write. My heart is breaking for Carrie. You see, I remember well the pain… the fear… the humiliation… the worry… the certainty that my life was in jeopardy…

Please God… please.