Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

The Waiting Game

48 hours ago, I was willing to write off my attempt to grow cactus from seed as an interesting but failed experiment.

Today, I have one about half an inch high (mixed seed pack, Ali, so I've no idea what they are yet), and four more trying to poke through the soil.

24 hours ago, I was ready to write off my attempts to grow Black-eyed Susans from seed.

Today, I have two tiny shoots, with several more that have yet to unfurl their leaves.

It's all a matter of time. A waiting game of patience that I'm still working on returning to. It's always the waiting that gets to me.

My two smaller Patio tomatoes have surprised me. I have blooms that haven't opened yet. The Husky has another series of blooms, and the one tomato that was there has more than doubled.

The zucchini that was yellowing under the influence of three days of rain ... have the promise of shoots and blooms on every one of them.

I have ... a blackberry bloom! And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

The pumpkins are loving the transplant and have doubled in size. Yellow squash is still a bit puny, but it was the slowest performer of the seeds anyway. Okra and radishes all looking good.

Separated some of the veggie sprouts still in peat pots. Ran out of tilled room for them. I've got another 4 pumpkins and another 3 blackeye peas with no place to put them. Gotta figure something out.

I had to move the brandy snifter sunflower out to the yard. Thing went wild inside and had already outgrown the snifter. Transplanted, and another shoot brought inside to go wild.

I've got to thin zinnias tomorrow, and I'm dreading it. I need potting soil so I can try to save some of them. The Things zinnias have gotten their first true leaves.

Eldest child and I got most of them mulched today. Three days of rain, and full hard sun today, and the soil is already cracking around them. At least the mulch holds in enough moisture to try to counteract the evil Texas sun.

Got a package of Alyssum seeds from Clarinex as an allergy promotional bit. Thought that was damned clever of them. I love the Carpet of Snow, I just have to figure out if I have any bedding space for them once we get the zinnias all straightened out.

Mosquitos. ARGH. Got chomped a few too many times. That will teach me to go outside without the OFF sunscreen/bug repellent combo. Ugh, I itch.

Not too shabby of a day after having a couple of biopsies done.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Chirp. Chirp. BANG

Birds. Lots of birds. Chirp chirp twitter. Open eye. Look at clock.

Oh, why not. Stagger into semi-consciousness, guzzle caffeine, outside around 9 am. It was substantially cooler than inside the house, so it was comfortable to work in the yard for all of two hours. That's all it took to get miserably warm. I was back inside by around 11:15.

I truly am one giant freckle now.

Good News: At least two of the ant beds by the porch are just sugar ants or a family-similar harmless ant. How do I know? I felt a tickle. I looked down. My entire left calf was covered in ants, as well as my foot and shoe. Hmm. Ants. Nothing HURT. So I pissed em off and washed the whole squirming mess off with the water hose. Never took a single bite, and ants LOVE biting me.

Zucchini has now been transplanted into the garden. Yay! That left me the huge pot they were in (big enough to stuff a kid in) to transplant my largest tomato. Smaller two have now also been split into two pots.

It's amazing what another day can bring.

All of my seeds started in the last week and a half have now started to break through the ground except for my Black-eyed Susans, which have a longer germination period. Almost all of the others came up at the low end of the expected germination.

I now have: pumpkin seedlings, blackeye pea seedlings, tomato plants, radishes, green beans, okra, yellow squash, strawberries, and zucchini. One tomato plant has blooms, at least two of the zucchini look to bloom soon, and I think the strawberries have set enough to start blooming again. I pinched off all of the first blooms on them.

Blackberries aren't looking so great, and I'm not sure why. They grow like mad in the wild, but they just don't seem to like where they are. Time to do some intensive work on them. I need to get out there and trim off the sections that the hail destroyed. I do have some new shoots, so I'll just cross my fingers.

I've got a milk jug that's almost ready to be emptied so I can mix the Miracle Gro for my roses. Hopefully that will convince them to bud so I can figure out what they are.

Zinnias are all going crazy, as are the sunflowers and the tubby rat inside my shirt that's talking up a storm and giving me a bath. I think Oracle wants to go outside. (She did, and not only made the full yard inspection with me, but chattered and discussed it, too.)

The cardinals and mockingbirds are taunting me. They'll get right up close, but only if I don't have my camera.

Was thinking about the flagstone thing. We might be able to do a temporary fix, if I can get DG to help me with the heavy stuff.

There's a VERY large stone in the ground near the arbor. He's going to look at me like I'm insane. We also have a lot of flat, rectangular concrete slabs that were probably used at some time as stepping stones. Haven't collected all of them yet, so the Things and I need to go on a hunt. We DID find some concrete edging for the flower bed (tossed against the fence in the side yard, I mean, what???) that we also need to move.

It's starting to sound like I need a wheelbarrow big time. We have a wagon for the Things, but it will only hold so much.

My back, my left elbow, and my right knee are giving me fits. Despite the Vioxx, I'm back to using the cane today. I need to get some food in my stomach so I can take an aspirin or two to fight it. If I can get the breast reduction, the force placed on the arthritic knee won't be so bad.

I still have no voice. Cracked, gravelly whisper. I'm starting to get used to it. It's been at least two weeks now. I think I've fought it past the danger point of pneumonia, but I don't know how far I am into the clear, and I still gurgle when I try to breathe too deeply.

Are we having fun yet?

Friday, April 18, 2003

Hurry up and GROW!

Have you ever just stopped and *looked* at newly sprouted plants?

Radishes are heartbreakingly lovely, leaves puffed out to the sides like green butterfly wings. They always make me giggle for some reason, as though I'm also enjoying their stretching into new life.

Sunflowers, elongated and strong, always reach for the light (I have one sprout in a glass brandy snifter in the kitchen window that I can turn away from the light three times a day and still find it turned with its face back towards the sun).

Okra gives no sign as to what its future shape will be, leaves sitting round and fat and full. You can hardly believe that such circular elegance will eventually evolve into spiny pointed beasts. But mmm, they taste good. Gumbo, anyone?

Green beans are the testosterone of the patch, always overachieving with even the first breaking of the ground. It's never happy for a single leaf juncture, no, it demands attention with tiered leaves.

I like to play the guessing game with my plants. I rarely put markers on sprout pots and just wait for them to bless me with the happy identification. The Gardener's Maternity Room, I suppose. Is it a girl? Is it a boy? No, it's PUMPKIN!

The waiting is always the worst part for me. I like the weeding and the digging and the pruning and picking and cooking and all the clean up work involved. The in-between planting and picking is what gets to me.

I just hate waiting for them to pop up and say "Hello, I'm here!" And then you have to wait for them to grow grow grow so they'll produce food and seed. Drives me bananas. I'm normally a relatively mellow person, but I lack the serenity of patience.

I want my garden, and I want it NOW.

It was getting to me a bit on Wednesday. I had survived my neurology and MRI appointments, and wanted to DO. Unfortunately, we weren't all on the same page and it's a very long book. I awakened somewhat grumpy, and wandered out for my first morning sunshine. Quite often I do it before anything else (and oh, the joys of a privacy fence so that I don't have to get dressed to do it!), and it has become a necessary part of my daily routine to just pause and sit and listen to the world and watch what happens around me. With my health, I need all the serenity I can absorb.

With grumpiness in charge, I went for my dandelion break. And stopped.

Peeking out of Thing 1's pot ... leaves! A sprout! Jubilation! No ... TWO! We have TWO! And Thing 2's flowerpot! Oh, LOOK! Another sprout here, and here, and .....

Giddy. I went from grumpy to bouncing. Look! Growth! Green things! My vocabulary went straight to an elementary education level as I giggled. Babies, and new sprouts/flowers. Get me every time.

Note to self: Beg, buy, borrow or steal the means to enroll in Tai Chi classes.

This morning, I awakened feeling a little better, at least until I moved. Arthritis was acting up, and several joints utterly refused to get with the program. Grumpy moves back in. Limped carefully outside.

I walked into a whole new world of green.

Both of the kids' pots are covered with sweet little green zinnia leaves. ALL of the radish pots have little green butterflies coating the surface. Okra! Hey, that's squash! And a pumpkin sprout!

Omigod, is that a tiny blossom starting on the zucchini? And on one of the strawberries?

I hurt too much to truly do anything extensive, but I reveled in the new life outside while staunchly avoiding the news. Sometimes you can only take so much.

A shopping trip set us up with humus, manure (and hours of fun with the kids over the "You're buying COW POOP? EWWW!), and a bag of Magic Earth on recommendation. I peeked at the label, perked up, and said what the hell. They'll all get mixed into the tilled soil for the garden plots to help break up some of the really odd soil, and help raise the beds. A new tomato plant, a different type from the others and once again I looked a fool with my face buried in the leaves.

Now ... hurry up and GROW!

Tuesday, April 15, 2003


We found our first snake!

I'm almost giddy, really. DG and I were setting out the parameters for the garden plots, and he went to move a concrete slab that was in the way. The snake was under it.

Gloves on, I went to try to catch him so he wouldn't be in the way and get chopped up by the tiller, but I was afraid of hurting him so I didn't really make a grab before he darted off down into a deeper hole safely on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately, he made his escape before the Things could really see him.

Greenish-grey, more grey really, and a little smaller in diameter than my pinky. Never saw his head. Not really sure what kind of snake he was, but we finally saw one of them. No other colouration or markings, very subtle smooth scales.

Snake. *silly grin*

We also found our second, third, and fourth snakes. One tiny tiny, one medium tiny, one medium, compared to the larger (by proportion) first snake. Only got pictures of snake 3, the others were too quick.

Rough earth snakes, colubrids (ooo, me was right), that get aroud 13" or so and eat earthworms and slugs. They can have the slugs, lemme tell ya.

They're not only delightfully harmless, but very very mellow snakes.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Almost Stray

It's amazing what doubling my seizure meds can do. I feel functional. My God, I had a bra on *all day*. Still wearing it. Pain is minimal.

Only had 1 breakthrough today, and that was right before I came inside for the night. Freaked Thing 2 out to see my leg take off and spazz out on its own. But it wasn't nearly as bad as the one last weekend.

They're supposed to make me sleepy. So why am I hyper?

I think I'll make cookies.

Harley has lost her little kitten mind. Standard repeated phrase in the Pookastead for the moment: "Harley's Freaking Out again!" At the moment, she's smelling EVERYTHING. Cautious slinking ready to freak out and leap stalking up to everything in the room, sniffing it a few times, then stalking off to the next one. Earlier she was complaining loudly to me about something. Maybe the Mother Ship has been sending Final Orders or something.

Lot more work done outside. Went through the evil birdseeded flower bed, removing sunflower sprouts to peat cups for replanting elsewhere and weeding out the birdseed. I decided I'd try playing it cheap for weed control at the moment. Sliced up a black/green lawn trash bag, layed it out over the bad areas that weren't seeded, and pinned it down with rocks and mulch. Should be a lot of help.

Thinned some of the zinnias already. Well, thinning for me has a different definition. I hate the idea of pulling sprouts out and casting them aside, so instead I carefully ease them out of the soil with roots intact. Since the bluebonnets didn't survive the hailstorm (not after just being planted that day), I removed them to another section of the overgrown bed, opening up another large patch of flower bed. Moved a lot of the thinned seedlings over there.

The Things "helped" Mama by watering the azaleas, blackberries, wisteria, and roses for me. Thing 1 did bug patrol, looking for caterpillars and other critters camping on the plants.

My back porch looks like a nursery exploded.

Two patio tomatoes, now happily in a large pot. Roy's radish seeds are in peat pots to get them ready. Bean, squash, and okra pots watered. 'JackOLantern' pumpkin seeds planted in peat pots, along with blackeye peas.

Started flowers in terra cotta. Big black happy "girly" markered names on them, one for each Thing and one for Pooka. Thing 1 gets the brilliant Whirligig zinnias, an amazing red/orange/cream colour burst. Thing 2 gets Violet Queen zinnias with deep blue/purple blooms.

Me, I get the Black-eyed Susans.

Cacti and assorted succulent seeds in cactus specific soil. I'm hoping I can bring the pot inside the house for the kitchen window until they get going. And of course, hoping Zam or Harley don't decide they're interesting and knock them into the sink. We'll see.

You know, looking at it written down, the amount of work done seems somewhat less impressive than the steady ache in my shoulders felt it was.

Oh yes. Cookies. Hmm. I wonder if I even have the stuff to do it.

Off to find out. Ta, dahlinks.

Stars and candles and growing things

An oddity about me that is currently relevant: I usually garden barefoot. I *like* getting dirty, I like feeling the soil and smelling it. I like the sweating and the work.

I do NOT, however, like ... STEPPING ON A THISTLE. I got lucky, I only caught it with my big toe, but mother of mercy, that STINGS. Ow. Ow ow. More Roundup to be used liberally tomorrow. I hoestly can't believe how anyone could let a lawn get this bad. The yard is a fabulous size, and the idea of being unable to freely move through it is just mind-boggling. Half the attraction of this house is the size of the yard. I *NEED* to go barefoot in my yard. NEED it.

Earth mother. Hedgewitch. Tree-hugging dandelion sniffer. Oh, I've heard them all at some time or another. ;) I think it's funny, because it's all somewhat desperately true. There are few times and places where I'm happier than just being out in the fresh air, covered in dirt and making things grow.

No place closer to heaven than having the heavy earthy thick scent of tomato plants. Tomatoes are all right, I like them, but don't really NEED them or seriously crave them. The plants, however ... the vines. God speaks from them, I tell ya. I picked up two patio tomato plants today, and could hardly keep my nose out of them. Memory lane. That smell was a part of my childhood, watching my grandfather and his wonderful garden. Just brushing past the tomato plants released that smell, and it can bring tears to my eyes if I'm a bit sensitive at the time.

My green thumb came through him. Another oddity, considering there is no shared DNA. I'm adopted, and yet, some of my strongest personality traits have come through association with him. Poppie. He's been Poppie for longer than I can remember. Fields of heavy red and purple poppies along the fence of his yard, brilliant and gently fragrant. Roses of every colour and variety, the sweet tiny tufts of antique tea roses, climbers, and showy masterpieces. Pansies, petunias, lilies, flowers I can no longer even begin to name. I learned plant ID from this man. I learned to identify flowers, weeds, noxious things to avoid, the shapes of certain bird species, and the names of the birds themselves. This man has forgotten more about the world around us than most modern children will ever be able to learn.

When we lived in Washington, I didn't do much with vegetables. Strawberries mostly, but zinnias everywhere, marigolds, roses. Huge fragrant lilacs that filled my house as well as my yard when they bloomed. The scent of the lilacs lingered for a wonderfully long time when cut. My babies.

The military moved us back to Texas, and that put us in range of Wonder Man again. As we went down to Houston for the obligatory family adore the children visit, I carefully went through his yard with him at my side, picking choice stems from rosebushes to cut and root. Not a one died.

Moving here, to an apartment, killed me in a way. I was out of touch, there was nothing to help ground me, nothing to soothe.

I have a confession to make: I love weeding. I really do. Yes, it's mindless and tedious, but it's something that Always Needs To Be Done. Gently easing the weeds from around tender sprouts and watching the sprouts cheerfully grow stronger is a wonderful feeling. Doing something so basic and easy is intensely calming for me. I don't have to worry as much about fighting my body, and the distraction manages to ease the pain, at least for a little while.

Okra itches. So does crookneck squash. The spines scratch and sting. I know that feeling intimately, having wandered through the garden in search of ripe vegetables that my grandmother would promptly cook for us. And I don't mind it at all. I've an obsession for yellow squash to this day, cooked the way she did it: onion, sliced squash, cracked black pepper, butter ... and a touch of sugar. I'm drooling again, darnit.

But the garden is no longer there.

Age is catching up with the man who once caught me as I leapt from the top of a persimmon tree, convinced that I could fly. Age has taken away the man that carried me through woody fields on his back, picking The Perfect Blackberry as I pointed them out quite imperiously from his shoulders. A series of strokes have crippled the Superman of my childhood, the man who, when told by my mother not to let us go in the lake, casually turned aside as we "accidentally fell in."

It's hard to visit now. So hard to see Poppie unable to do the things he loves so much. His mind is still sharp as a whip, but his body has betrayed him. Another thing we hold in common. We raced with our canes one afternoon while visiting my aunt. He won. Go figure. Our bodies are fighting us, but for the first time in my life, I see something beating him. It hurts, oh God it hurts to see him like that. He has had to hire someone to even mow the lawn.

With our new house, I pick up the torch.

My children will learn, as I had learned. They'll absorb the appreciation for life and growing things, and learn which plants you can eat, which can hurt you, which ones need to be pulled. They'll learn how to prepare the soil, how to plant, how to pick and the joy of taking food you have grown yourself into the house and having it for dinner.

I miss him. I miss the man he was, and still deeply love the man he is. My children never knew him before age took its toll, but they already know that Poppie is the man that taught Mama to ease the seeds into the ground and coax food out of them.

Poppie, thank you.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Green Thumbs and Red Pookas

All three packets of zinnias are coming up nicely, sweet little heart-shaped leaves reaching for the light. Another few days, and I should be able to start thinning them out some. I hate that part of gardening, though. I always want to try and save every little sprout, even when I know they have to be thinned to grow well. I may see if I can't pull a pixelpusher and do some creative potting and have bunches sitting on the porch itself.

... do you have ANY idea how #@*$&#!* fast birdseed sprouts? ARGH! I'm fighting it all over the flower bed. I may end up just hoeing off areas and replacing with bagged garden soil to try to control the rampant sprouting.

I have to admit, though, that there is one nice thing about the birdseed. The sunflower seeds that were in it are also sprouting very well. The ones I tried to start just don't seem to want to take, but those are going wild. Trimmed out some of the best and have them in small starter pots to move when we get the next section of garden along the fence dug up and ready.

The roses that were here when we moved in are rather sad. I don't know if they've ever bloomed or been trimmed. I DID find my rose Miracle Gro though, so hopefully I can spark them into brilliantly fragrant life. I don't even know what colour they are.

I swear to God, the weedier grasses in the yard grew three inches since this morning. We've been talking to the landlord about our attempts to reclaim the yard, so maybe we'll get some help.

Most of the trees in the back need some serious pruning. Lots of dead branches. Then there's the hard thatch in the grass (oh, thank you SO much, stupid root grubs) that's going to need to be cleared out, the lawn reseeded, serious weed n feed time, and always the thistles.

The blackberries really took a battering with the hail. More thunderstorms on the way so I'm a little worried about them. Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll take. Mmm, blackberry wine next summer ....

After Sorcha, TMF, and Roomie took off early this afternoon, I hauled myself back out into the glories of my backyard.

Deviation: I missed this. I really, really missed this. My hands are an absolute disaster. You can totally write off my right thumb and index finger, the nail bed is just gone and there are heavy tears, new calluses, and blisters. I'm still getting over my sunburn which friggin itches like MAD. Yes, I am a giant freckle now. I don't know if the dirt will ever come out from beneath the few fingernails I have left.

And good Lord, I'm happy. I caught myself HUMMING of all things while I was out there this afternoon. I'm sure I looked like a total fool, sprawled out on my porch, dirt all over it, me, and the assortment of pots, sweaty and muddy and generally a human disaster area. I feel more centered again.

We desperately need to get our hands on a tiller so I can get the rest of the actual garden started. I've got the zucchini in a huge pot right now, but it's not going to last long. Another week or two tops. Gotta get the ground broken, dammit. Since we're running so slow right now, without a truck to transport the tools, I went ahead and started a lot of the seeds in leftover plastic pots from other plants already in the ground. Beans, yellow squash, okra. Then the zucchini.

Had to replant most of my strawberries today, too. The little pot I had them in was already overwhelmed. I thinned them out and put 2/3 into a much larger pot, leaving the one that had been in the top (a small version of a strawberry jar) in place.

Bluebonnets didn't make it. After that hailstorm, and since they tend to be picky and delicate, I knew they didn't have much of a chance. I think we'll try to seed start a bunch of them for next year so we don't have to worry about transplanting like that.

One of the wisteria is doing quite nicely, the other is just thinking about it. Time to fertilize both of them, and the azaleas as well. I knew I should have picked up more than two. Ah well.

I'm starting to think that the front yard is next to hopeless unless we go out and actually buy cut sod to try to salvage it. Man, that's a mess.

And of course, the fire ants. So far, no one has been bitten, but it's only a matter of time. Got to get stuff and get them the hell out of my yard.

June bugs everywhere last night. Harley was going totally nuts over them. Then again, the poor kitten has been having issues the last few days anyway. She is a *serious* talker now, and man, she's loud when she has something to complain about. Silly kitty.

Note: Things 2 & 1 do NOT like june bugs one bit, no sir. Total girly freaking out.

Thursday, April 10, 2003


Two acronyms that should *never* be used together:

PTA and RSD. Man, I'm flared up.

Can you just picture DG and I surrounded by PTA moms? Stop laughing. No, I mean it. Stop laughing.

Yes, we just endured a PTA meeting for the sake of Thing 2 and a school full of kindergartners that pranced up on stage and sang at us. Loudly. Enthusiastically.

From "Six Little Ducks" all the way through "You're a Grand Old Flag," some forty or so 6 year olds up in front of a full crowd for the very first time. And they did it very, very well.

And I must say that I have never in my life seen such a collection of certified card-carrying pasty-faced, four-eyed, plastic pocket protectored pencil-necked geeks outside of a Star Trek convention. You just know every one of those dads are bringing in more figures than a Playboy convention. White collar bastards. ;)

Unfortunately, they all think their children are exempt from things like manners.

I'm ... just going to leave it right there without another word. Otherwise, I might just go off in a rant and offend some sensitive goober who feels their little darling shouldn't have to wait for someone to move, that they have every right to push and shove at both adults and children alike, and that their openly kicking an adult in their way is just a cheerful display of spirit and individuality.

And for that sensitive goober, I have two important words that I'm sure will play an important role in their little darling's future: Death Penalty.

Never wanted a taser so bad in my life.

Let me clarify a bit here. Now I'm all for letting kids be kids. They're going to run and scream and play and have fun, it's what kids should be doing. It should NOT, however, be at the expense of anyone else, and should not endanger anyone else.

The child who kicked my cane because it was in his way did so with his parent sitting less than three feet away, watching him the entire time. Daddy saw me stumble when my support wasn't there. Neither child nor parent said a word about it.

The other little heathens that shoved and pushed through on the other side of me all but finished me off. Score one, and only one, for being as heavy as I am.

Isolated incidents? Not a chance. Even sitting down, I wasn't safe. No one else in the auditorium was either. I can't even try to imagine what these kids are like at home.

My children aren't angels, and I'll be the first to admit it. The Things, however, didn't push, or run and scream inside, said "Excuse me" when they needed to and hushed up when the program began.

Parents, if you're going to complain about the problems in the world, make sure you aren't part of them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Bless You -- Twice

Have I mentioned lately how bloody frustrating Texas weather is? No? It bloody well drives me nuts.

We get most of the work done, only to have it announced that there's a high possibility of it freezing tonight.


So, the zucchini has been temporarily repotted and mulched, ditto for the strawberries. Berries have extra soil and mulch piled at the bases, ditto for the roses, azaleas, and wisteria.

I'm sure the zinnia seeds are just going to love it. Not.

Feel awful today. Worse than yesterday, if that's possible. Can't friggin breathe, I hurt, I'm wheezing and coughing and feverish. Yuck. Luckily the Things (knock on wood) seem to be fighting it off.

Pollen Count: 3285
Dear God.

Cigna has decided once again that my doctors know nothing. Instead of the diagnostics my neurologist ordered, they decide they'll only pay for one because obviously it's not worth working to find out what's wrong with me.

Insert neurologist's office into the equation. They aren't happy. They also have a solution. There's a diagnostic testing center that is currently Pissed Off at Cigna and several other HMOs. I'm going there now, even if it means having to do some driving to get to the place. Supposed to hear from them in the next 24 hours or so.

Instead of multiple appointments, all of my MRIs are going to be done in one single day. And cost me ..... NOTHING. Woo! No copay, no deductible. Nada.

Of course, it means that my appointment schedule is now tossed up in the air again.

It's kinda amusing. I get really quiet for a long time, and people wonder why. When I finally admit why, they get quiet. Works for me, man. It's a system, yunno, deliberately and carefully calculated.

Damnit. Something bit me when I was outside getting the plants ready. On my sunburned elbow, of course, and it itches like mad.

I must sneeze now.

Monday, April 07, 2003

And now for something competely different

And to round off a perfect weekend ...

Thing 1 and I are sick. She got sent home from school today hacking up a lung and running fever. That's how I woke up. Shivery, coughy, feverish, and miserable. Phooey. You can hand my lung back now, thank you. I actually *needed* my inhaler last night. I haven't used that in ages. Might be time to switch from Allegra to something else, because this SUCKS.

I don't know if all the outdoor work with our horridly high pollen count just set our allergies off so bad that they moved in to stay and we got sick, or if we picked up some bug, but I haven't felt this crappy in quite a while.

Didn't stop us from making a noonish inspection of the plants outside.

Everything but the bluebonnets are looking pretty good. Her tree is happily budding out all over. One of the wisteria is a little puny, but they're so hard to kill that I'm not worrying about it yet. The bluebonnets may be history. Dammit. Stupid hail. Lost most of the azalea blooms, but that's no real big deal. They'll recover.

Need to get the dead undergrowth of ivy out of the front entryway. Personally, I'd rather just yank most of it out entirely. We'll see if I can get permission for that. Did yank some of the undergrowth out, but I didn't have my gloves or a rake with me at inspection time, and I'd rather not disturb any snakes or centipedes without something between me and them.

Kinda funny. I'm pretty ambivalent about insects and other creepy crawlies unless they're actively touching me. Then it depends on what it is, and how big. Small spiders, no biggie, just a casual soft brush to get them off. Anything that buzzes, stings, or is otherwise bigger than my fingernail is another matter entirely.

Things 2 & 1 and DG, on the other hand ...

Bwack bwack bwack! Hey, I smell chicken!

I'd like to breathe now, thank you.

This is going to suck. I've *got* to get the zuchinni plants in the ground ASAP or I'm going to lose them. Don't know how that's going to work when I feel like I got caught beneath the lawn mower and shredded.

And I hurt. My body is responding very well to the first Neurontin increase, but the break-through muscle seizures are a lot worse. Luckily they're very rare. And it seems to be helping me sleep somewhat now.

But I pushed really hard this weekend, and my LEFT leg of all things is tweaking and bitching when I walk too far, and my abdomen is complaining. Who needs crunches when you can sit and bend to reach parts of the flower bed while weeding?

Sunburn is still a bit too intense. Owie. My left thigh and left shoulder which is alarmingly scarlet actively hurt. The right isn't as bad, really, just annoying.

Birds are really starting to enjoy the feeders we put out. Positive ID made on male and female house finches, a dozen or so mockingbirds, grackles, crows, some sparrows, a crane, male and female cardinals, robins, and somewhere both an owl and doves.

Need to find the hummingbird feeders.

Oracle and Cassandra both went outside to play with us yesterday. Roy got to listen to talky little Oracle bitch and bitch. I think she had fun, though. Cassie is just a sludge beast and clung to Thing 2.

We've let Zam out once, and he just thinks the backyard is the coolest thing in the world. Harley thinks the backyard is super neat -- until you open the door and take her out, whereupon complete panic reigns. She'll go wild catching the mosquito hawks that make it inside, but the outside world itself is just a little too overwhelming for the little girl.

Dammit, I wanna go outside and play!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2003

The Discovery Zone

Was outside by noonish yesterday. Didn't make it back inside the house until it got dark and the severe storms started rolling in.

I am sunburned. Ow. Pooka is no longer purple, she's scarlet.

BUT ... I have reclaimed the flower bed along the back of the house. Think jungle. Think overgrown for at least three or four years. Think doing 2-3 feet and having to stop and take a break. Think that this is a task of herculean proportions.

My gloves, which were brand new, need to be replaced. At least three of the fingertips are completely gone after all that work.

Both azaleas are in the ground now. DG actually managed to find me blackberries in gallon tubs, so they're already semi-started and a lot better than just the canes we found. Four blackberries in the ground.


-- one very angry centipede
-- twelve pieces of broken red crayon
-- eight decent-sized pieces of shed snake skin
-- dozen or so small worms
-- five big fat earthworms
-- more #*$#& root grubs than I've ever seen in one place
-- egg sacs and egg cases to things I couldn't even identify
-- one poorly-buried phone cable (ahem, DG) that for some reason still works
-- big ole spider that scared Thing 1 absolutely witless


-- despite "help," I got five times the work done when they went away
-- DG won't do garden work without scowling and glaring
-- if you give one child a job, the other will automatically scream "I wanted to do that!"
-- the job will never be completed anyway
-- getting all dirty and blistered and sunburned again feels GOOD

The bluebonnets are seriously wilting. Don't know if they'll make it now, but that wasn't our fault.

Last night, after Roy had come back with DG to do a porch cookout, storms rolled -- no, thundered -- into North Texas. "Super cell" they were calling it -- at least until it split into three storms of equal ferocity.

Pea sized to golfball sized hail with cell one. Heavy wind. Huge sheets of rain. Under that kind of pressure, only a few areas of the backyard really even attempted to flood. I feel sorry for the houses further down the hill though.

Second round brought a lot more hail, enough to turn the grass in the backyard white, and hard fast rain, even though the hail was smaller.

Third somewhat fizzled with mostly thunder and lighting and more rain.

Wisteria and azaleas made it through fine. Not a lot of hope for the bluebonnets now. My poor blackberries took some leaf damage, but the main plant seems fine.

We were lucky. Areas a bit to the south had severe high winds, lots of reports of funnel and wall clouds, and a half dozen or so unconfirmed reports of tornados spotted. Much roof damage, downed power lines, broken trees, car damage, the works. We dodged it. This time. It's spring in NorTex, man. Though really, you never get used to it.

Roy ended up spending the night because of the weather.

Around 10:30 this morning (and looking like a freckled strawberry), I was back outside to finish off the flower bed. Final weeding, mixing in of some good garden soil, breaking up dirt clods, etc.

Remembered the sunscreen this time. Hah!

Got three packages of zinnias seeded in the ground. Lilliputs, dahlia blend, and giant fantasies, yes, seeded in height order.

Sludged for a while on the porch with Roy till DG finally crawled back into the world of the living. Things went screaming through with water guns, and ...

... Roy offered Thing 2 a dollar if she'd squirt DG, who was still scowling and surly. I've trained my mercenary child well. She did it.

The snarling and growling and swearing didn't last long. Neither did the dry state of anyone's clothing. We've got staggered sizes of SuperSoakers, but Roy was the real fiend, as he turned the hose on. After a while, the three adults (snicker) were the only ones left in the backyard, and all of us completely drenched.

Tell ya, that water felt pretty damn good.

Another fireup of the grill for dinner, then DG took Roy home while I cleaned up after the mess. Got all three boxes unpacked and out of the kitchen (HAH! One intended goal for the weekend complete, take that!), well, except for the trash box that needs to go out now. Dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, box contents put away.

Even found time in there somewhere to do a couple more poses for a Poser package Burningham is going to be uploading to the market soon.

SO .....

... what did YOU do this weekend?

Friday, April 04, 2003

Sunset on the New House

I am gloriously, amazingly, disgustingly FILTHY! Hallelujia! I SO missed having a yard. Utter contentment.

I've got two purple wisteria in the ground to twine up over the arbor. DG found some very odd windchimes that sound absolutely lovely (they look like pan pipes), so they're now up in the middle of the arbor.

The two rosebushes in the bed next to it have been weeded, but still no buds yet. Need to get some mulch in there to help control the weeds. Saw an utterly stunning peach rose bush, but didn't cave since it wasn't cheap. Need to get some artwork sold, fast.

Have some weird climbers that I need to make pics of and see if anyone can help me ID them. Might yank them up anyway. Asked the neighbors along the back fence if they minded honeysuckle back there, since they tend to grow wherever the hell they want to. No problems with em, so now I just need to get the vines.

The dead jungle-y tree by the front door has been removed. Ivy needs to be trimmed back still.

One azalea in the front yard, a second in the back that needs to be put in the ground tomorrow. Might go back and get one or two more, because the corner I'm using in the back for them looks just gorgeous against the house.

Thing 1 brought home a bluebonnet plant, courtesy of the school garden and their nifty science teacher. Bluebonnets are now in the ground. The redbud she brought home last year for Arbor Day is now in the ground out of its pot, and going bananas. Happy tree.

Grass seed purchased to try to reclaim the front yard. The people here last ... well, let's just say they had black thumbs. Still need to continue thistle extermination. God, they're everywhere.

Seed purchased for beans, squash, zuchinni, and pumpkins so far. Going to take a lot of work to get the ground ready for them. Got a package of sunflowers, several zinnia varieties, and I've now totally forgotten everything else.

Oh man, I HURT, but it's The Good Hurt. I'm worn out, dirty, sweaty, and utterly content.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Penny the Poked Purple Pooka

Why did the orange stop in the middle of the road?

He ran out of juice.

Ah, Laffy Taffy. Inane, and yet so accurate. Welcome to my day.

Neurologist appointment, check. Note on check-in that I had lost another 3 or 4 pounds, groovy.

Poked, prodded, stuck, forked, reflexed, pushed, pulled, teetered, wobbled, and generally abused in every basic diagnostic way. Tuning forks are fun on the side that works, marching fire ants on the bad one. Wee me. Nasty little pokesy things to test sensation SUCK. Or stick. Whatever.

RSD diagnosis fully confirmed, forehead to fingertips, forehead to knee on my right side.

Fibro ... is actually an Iffy now.

Immediately ruled out my medications as being a cause. One more scratched off the list.

Doc does a few tests, takes a look at my meds, has kittens over the amount of Neurontin. We're not doubling it. We're not tripling it (well, we are ... for a week). He ranted and muttered a bit about my low dosage. I'm now looking at a daily total of 1800 once we reach that point. Maybe I'll stop falling down all the time now. The muscle seizures long ago surpassed spasms.

Said that for my condition, muscle strength was good, once I could force my body to resist the pushing and pulling. Of course, I have no coordination or balance whatsoever. They just won't listen to what my brain is telling muscles and nerves to do.

Multiple referrals and appointments made.

Tentative initial diagnosis on top of the usual, Peripheral Neuropathy. Just consider that just a generic "We don't know what's wrong yet," but he agreed that something was very wrong with my nervous system. Noted the "to rule out MS" scribbled next to name on sign-in info.

I had blood drawn today for 9 different tests.

Next Friday, I have an MRI and full dye-injection contrast MRI of my skull.
That next Monday, full dye-injection contrast of my entire spine.
That Wednesday, nerve enduction and possible EMG.

I'm not a Pooka, I'm a medical guinea pig.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

How many parents do you know of that have to stop and shout:

"No bloodletting, decapitations or other bodily dismemberments at the dinner table! I mean it!"

... and they aren't talking about what is being done to the food?