Friday, June 28, 2013

STOP the Mulberry Bush, I Want to Get Off!

Oh! This has been a day... a week... a month!

June entered in with an infection setting in below a tooth that had broken months earlier, hurt a bit and then settled in to just catching odd bits of food. I took to carrying a tooth pic and avoiding nuts, no sweat. The infection, though, did bring sweat. And pain. And eventually a trip to the dentist where I was seen by a young fellow with a thick accent from India -- the only accent that makes communication difficult for me. I wonder if he had as much trouble, as he seemed a bit clueless -- I will hold off from saying "less than competent" but fortunately I was in my right mind, despite the pain and the assistant was quite good. Between us we got an order for an antibiotic and pain medication, an additional order for per-procedure antibiotic in case the extraction had to be scheduled for after the first round was completed (necessary thanks to my heart surgery in the '70s) and I was able to get an appointment for extraction the next week.

Went directly to the pharmacy, only to find they could not fill the complete prescription! Who runs our of a common antibiotic in June? At least they had enough to hold until they got more and the additional could be got on a regular in town day.

What no one told me was that the meds (at least the antibiotic) could make me more sensitive to heat and sun.  Now, mind you, June had to that point NOT been a hot month, nor particularly sunny... but it was my day off and it was not raining, so the garden was calling and out I went. Wasn't out long, working that hard but started feeling odd... came in and pretty much collapsed. Heat exhaustion, right... not even barely 85 degrees. Swollen jaw, pain... even with the "good drugs." Well, I lost a day, wimped out on the next one and called out of work for day #3, as I knew it would be a stretch to hit the deck running for the big day at work. Set the week off all wrong, as missing a Sunday ad set always does... but at least I am back on top of it now, three weeks later! 

Week later, back at the dentist office, thankfully a different dentist... a young woman doing a residency and boy, was she on top of things. Tried and tried to get it to go numb, but the pocket of infection was counteracting the local. She lanced the swollen area, drained out a bunch of glop and prescribed more antibiotics for another week. Said they COULD have drained the area on the previous visit, as it really would have helped. Also said she would only be here 3 more weeks, and as I said I DID want her to do the extraction, we scheduled in another week, to be worked in.

Third try was the charm, but followed another week of feeling a bit "off" from the meds and not being able to spend the time I needed either in the garden or painting. Doing hex painting, which is a spiritual discipline as well as an artistic one, requires a clear head to properly focus and direct the energy.

By now we were into the middle of the month, not much done in the garden and just barely getting started on mowing the back field. A rainy month will do that, and unfortunately we did not get it cut before the deer started dropping their babies. While mowing, K kept flushing a wobbly-legged fawn. That is, until the tractor up and stopped.

Mean while, I was trying to get the upper hand on the garden (hilling potatoes, planting corn and beans in soil that was really too wet and not well enough tilled, in the newer west garden) and counting my blessings that the deer had not (yet) found the peas; the fence appeared to be holding until late in the month when I found that the grass had apparently lifted parts enough to allow the deer to browse -- at least only lightly up to now) the peas.

We did finally get a cultivator for the tractor, got it going again after several rounds of "is it this," "is it that?" Issue proved to be a failed battery cable and got the grass under the deer fence cut and the fence reinstalled. Got some tractor cultivation done.

Still behind on hex signs, though I did make deadline on a quick-turnaround request for a custom sign.

Still behind on getting the rest of the deer fence up, completing the deer exclusion panels to go around the 4 baby fruit trees. Not even started on the panels to make poultry runs for the chickens and turkeys and ducks out of the load of rough cut 1x3s I bought... some of which got turned into frames for the trees' deer panels.

But I would rather fuss at the rain than heat; thus far we have had only a couple of shortish hot spells, though next week is predicted to be in the 80s all week, The tomatoes... and the weeds.. will like it.
Me? Well, I will survive! And pick peas, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi....

First shipment of produce went to the buyers club this week... better profit than the first week of any farmers markets I attended in the past and it only took a few hours off the farm. This I like!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fast Lane, You Are Not Welcome!

Life in the fast lane - "a way of living which is full of excitement and activity" characterized my every moment for many years. First it was mommy-challenges on top of a strong desire for self-reliance that called for at least a large garden, if not chickens and ducks and goats (oh my!) Then it was time spent primarily in the design profession, where, so it seemed, everyone expected everything done day before yesterday, and with no input or content to boot.

I was exciting, juggling clients and commutes and freelance work and life. Life cycled between manic peaks and the inevitable slow times between projects when the chance to relax and take a break was constantly shadowed by the fear that a new project -- and new paycheck -- might not appear. I was on call 24/7; when a server crashed at 1 AM, there was always at least ONE client online, looking for their emails or just looking over their web site and ready to panic. And I actually enjoyed that life, while I was there, living it.

But I am not there now. I moved to Maine and (slowly, with some frustration) got in sync with the slower pace of life. I can remember ranting, shortly after our move, about the small number of errands that could be accomplished in one day; there was always something left over, it seemed, and undone, no matter how abbreviated I made the initial list. Not having to land-and-house-hunt helped cut the "to do" list. Not having to job hunt cut it again. And, over time, I settled into a mix of small (and very occasionally large) design projects with clients that I actually like and enjoy working with, hex sign painting, gardening and tending some small stock and a relatively routine part time job in town that involves working with STUFF (that doesn't talk back or get drunk) as opposed to people.


Sometimes things get out of control and today was one of them, with flashbacks far from "the way life should be" [™  State of Maine ;)] back to the fast lane.

I had less than an hour on the clock at work, busy with the routine task of getting music CDs alphabetized and placed in their proper locations on the shelves. I had completed the movie return, to the best of my ability, though I knew I was a ways shy of our 90% goal. The store management, in an effort to minimize the appearance of theft (called "shrink" these days, it seems) has been steadfastly dragging their feet on writing off titles that we no longer have in stock. Some of them have been on the list well over a year (not many, but some) and others since Christmas. Some are less old but still hanging around on the "pull list" and affecting my ability to "make quota." My superior asked me to try to get closer to our goal, via email and I explained in detail why it was not going to happen.

No sooner than I got that done that things started hopping, email-wise, regarding the tractors and equipment that we are trying to sell. Now, mind you, I have these messages come in on my Android device just so that I can deal with necessary and time sensitive issues. But today they ganged up on me, especially considering the lack of ease typing on a microscopically small keyboard.

I was trying to get things completed at work without going over time, because I had previous set up a time, after I expected to have left the store, to return a call to the tech support folks for an app that I need to download and install on the Android for a series of one night jobs for a different company, that when completed will net me over $500 -- earmarked for installation of the wood heat stove this year.

I also needed to get this done (and hopefully pick up medication from Sams Club) and get home by 1:30, when someone was scheduled to come to look at a tractor implement.

And as if that was insufficient to take my attention, K was emailing me regarding some water and antifreeze that I needed to pick up so that he could complete repairs to Boo, the Subaru... not as straightforward an assignment as it might appear, due to the aluminum component(s) in the engine.

Get the picture?? I was, with no warning, shoved back into the "how many hot irons can you keep in the fire and simultaneously juggle" arena. Shoved back (kicking and screaming, I might add, though thankfully for the customers in the store, not literally) into the fast lane.


Left work 20 minutes late.

Called home, opted out of med run and antifreeze run, knowing that puts both errands on the list AFTER my tooth extraction but also knowing that all I have to do is drive there; K will do the actual errands. He can't drive Artie, because Artie has decided not to allow adjustment to his drivers seat.

Shined on calling tech support or trying yet again to download the app. Maybe tomorrow while K is on errands. More likely Monday.

Came home at maximum speed, keeping in mind that I needed to compression brake, as during my last few miles of the inbound commute Artie's brakes suddenly started making terrible nasty rough grinding sounds. Fortunately I am good at this, having driven an old truck with almost no brakes for several months, into, around and out of Spokane, WA.

Arrived home at 1:24. Tractor part guy did not arrive until nearly 2:30

By which time I had changed clothes, had a beer, visited with K, supervised some cultivation....
And he did not buy it.

I did, however, get the lettuces planted and K got the entire necessary garden area cultivated. I peeled and cooked the last of our 2012 potato harvest for supper and we ate, albeit over 1.5 hrs late. And, as I finish this blog entry, I note it is almost exactly bedtime.  Time for a quick soak to get the garden off me, and off to bed.

Tomorrow is another day... in the slow lane.  "the way life should be" ™

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Suddenly Summer

We went from the weather of early spring to full blown summer (and temps in the mid-80s) literally overnight.

I had been waiting for the nigh temps to stay, more or less reliably in the 50s with occasional dips to the 40s and nothing below that, so as to set out the tomatoes, peppers, and vine crops that have been crowding the deck.  Between juggling the part time job, hex painting and house chores, I was thankful for several days of rain that allowed time to beat down the domestic jungle, before garden time took hold again.  I love it when I manage to stay in sync with the universe!

Tomato planting started Thursday and continued Friday. Over 170 plants... three full long rows... is a lot of plating. I had high hopes of getting them done Friday, despite the heat, but the body had other ideas. A tooth that had lost its filling (and indeed, according to the dentist, broken) finally decided to start hurting and get infected. SERIOUSLY infected. I was able to get into the dentist Friday just after lunch, was given antibiotics and serious pain pills and scheduled for an extraction Friday coming. No biggie... I did some planting, but bending over was NOT fun, so figured to end it on Saturday.

What they didn't tell me, though, was that both meds increase sensitivity to heat and sunlight. I found out the hard way Saturday morning when, after less than 1/3 of a row put in I started feeling ill. Yeah, it was hot, but not THAT hot, so I figured the noted side effect of dizziness/queasiness was in play. BOY was I wrong... I was on the early side of heat sickness, and lost most of Saturday to sitting, standing in the shower, sitting, lying down, spraying water on myself with a spray bottle, ad nauseum (pun intended.) It was bad enough that I called out of work for this morning... our busiest day at work... something I never have done before. But I had no idea how quickly this would pass; previous bouts -- admittedly more severe -- had me out of commission for several days.

Thankfully this was not that bad. I have, however, determined that all garden activity will be done in temps below 80, and for now below 70 and only in early morning and evening hours. I did need to wake up early for my antibiotic, and felt pretty much ok, so I decided to plant the peppers, put some pre-sprouted spinach seed out and start working on the cucumbers. Things were doing just fine in the early morning cool temps until the SUN broke from behind the cloud that those strange feelings started to return. I finished the flat, but not the row, came in and sat for the rest of the morning and now know.

Even more than previously, the sun is my enemy. I have never been a big fan of sunny days, though I know they are as necessary for the garden as the overcast and rainy ones. But as most folks tolerate the rain, anxiously awaiting a sunny weekend, I tolerate the sun, and greet overcast skies with joy. Gotta be a little weird, but it's me. I have not, previously, felt the sun to be hostile since I moved to Maine, though it often felt that way when I lived in the southlands. Even when the temperatures were not yet high enough to be uncomfortable, the sun rising over the fire station across the street and streaming into my kitchen window as I grabbed my first cup of coffee on a summer morning in Beaufort, NC, made me feel as if my skin was being attacked. For many years, each summer was accompanied with daily doses of St. John's Wart to offset the depression that crowded around me as the days lengthened and the sun rose higher in the sky each day.

It is called "Summer SAD -- Seasonal Affective Disorder" and I was researching it on the Internet several years before I saw any mention of such condition (other than as a way to talk about winter depressions in the southern hemisphere.)

But this is something else, thank the Gods. I have been reassured by several folks that the sensitivity to sun/heat that comes with various medications will fade as the drugs leave one's system. And I am also thankful that, in Maine, the unseasonable temperatures usually do not last for long. Today they are breaking and this week we will return to more typical, and acceptable to my strange mentality and body, days with highs in the 60s to 70 and partially cloudy skies.

So planting will continue, and painting during the mid-day as orders for 3' hex signs continue to roll in.