Saturday, May 28, 2011

Forgotten Maps and the Mowing

In talking to Joe about the tornado warning we were under the other day, I realized he has forgotten what weather maps are. He asked me how I knew we were under a warning, and I showed him the map I'd been following on He looked at it blankly and didn't know what the red boxes meant. Damn, he's been following these things his whole life, and now they are totally unknown to him.

Here's a picture I took of Joe showing him mowing.  It's an absolute freakin' obsession with him.  At least this way he won't run it into a planter (2 of which he did and smashed, concrete ones, no less) or get it stuck in the back 40. He's doing something and happy.

Mother has been playing flashlight games all morning. She lays in bed and flashes the flashlight on the wall. I keep waiting for her to get up, but it's 3 p.m. without her showing her face. I'm going to have to get her up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Man alive, I'm getting tired of the tornados rolling through the middle of the country.  Here in w. Kentucky, we're usually on the edge of them if not in them. If not on the edge of them, I spend hours nervously waiting to see if they're going to go either northeast of us or pass southeast of us.

If they pass north of us, all of my family is safely out of the way.  If they pass south of us, then I still have to be nervous because my hubby is in Memphis, cousins are there, too, and Jill and Jeanne are another 60 or so miles east (an hour west of Nashville).

Staying up late at night trying to watch the weather is tiring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sunday to Tuesday

Today is Sunday and it looks to be starting as pretty unusual.  We all slept late. When I got up at 10:00, I immediately went to the kitchen and put the bacon on. Peeled a tomato for bacon sandwiches for Dad and me. I checked him before making the sandwich, and he was asleep in his chair.

So I sat down at the computer and did a little checking on the news.  Flooding still happening in the South; the Rapture didn't occur (Doh!). I kept waiting to hear some noise from Dad to cue me to get his sandwich done.  Mom has been laying on her bed playing with her flashlight.

Around 12:15 p.m. I heard the door to outside shut, and Dad's gone yard walking. I guess he's just not hungry today. Well, I got Dad fed lunch around 1 p.m.  He spent the rest of the day until supper sitting in his chair watching TV.

Then just when I was going to make his supper plate, his meal alarm went off, and he got up and went outside. Sigh. I swear it's an internal alarm that tells him to go outside just when I'm getting his plate fixed.

So now it's Tuesday. Maybe things are becoming so normal here I just don't think to document them anymore. That's rather sad.

Mom had to see the doctor today before he would refill her blood pressure prescription.  At least he only demands that once a year rather than every 3 months.  It's hard to change doctors in a one-doctor town. Mom's doing just fine.  At least we got her into real clothes today and out.  She likes being out and driving once you get her out.  Getting her out of the house takes an act of congress, or at least a doctor's appt.  I think I may start fibbing to her with false appointments just to get her dressed and out.

I don't even know what it's like to live at my own home anymore. Visiting your own home for a total of 3 days every two weeks kinda does you in.  I asked at the doc's office today for a contact of someone that could counsel through elderly care.  They'll have to get back to me as they didn't have a contact on file.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Smoked Tofu for Cherizac

Here's a picture of the block of tofu I smoked for Cherizac. She was wondering how that would turn out. I sliced a small piece off to show how deeply the smoke penetrated.

For some reason, the taste didn't sit well with me that day. However, I've been having a problem lately with the way foods are tasting. Going through a stage I suppose. So I'm declaring myself off the judging panel on this one. Also, I couldn't come up with a way to use it that tickled my fancy. Maybe just as a smoky flavor in a big bowl of soba.

Canning Roast Beef

I caught a good sale on roast beef the other day and am in the process of canning them tonight.  There were 2 roasts in the package, and after cooking to medium in the oven, they fit into 3 quart jars.  While the beef is canning, I've got a nice pork roast cooking in the oven.  I think it will end up yielding about 3 quarts, also.

Update: finished the canning. Ended up having 4 jars of pork roast. I had to really whack at that lovely roast. It was too big to work with well, and there weren't nature fissures in the meat along which to divide it.

Here's a picture to tempt your taste buds.  Pork is on the left and in the back. Beef is on the right.

Looking at the roast beef, I see a lot of fat in there.  I'll have to trim the fat off better the next time and use less oil in browning.  Really wasn't thinking about how much fat would end up in the broth. I think these will be eaten first because I have no clue how long the jars can be stored before that lovely fat goes rancid.  Mmmm, maybe a six-month limit will be placed on these beef roasts.

Speaking of rancid fat. My Dad in his zeal and going-to-Sam's-Club days, bought oil in 5 gallon containers.  He built a lovely little rack for it that tips over to allow you to fill another container. Gads, I couldn't believe how heavy 5 gallons of oil is!  It's gone rancid, and I can't even lift the thing to throw it away.  Going to have to empty it some to get it in the trash. Bleh. What a chore.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Back in May

It's Friday, and I've been back since Wednesday.  Things are going as normal. The mowing wars continue with Joe. Lola is lost in the morning and gets up and wanders around with the grumpiest look on her face proclaiming she doesn't know where anyone is, what the ruckus is about - TV, what is going on - nothing. I think she takes the back ways to avoid where people are just so she can claim she thought she was alone.

On the other hand, once Lola gets up and set down in her chair in the living room, she's as easy to care for as can be. She's pleasant and good-natured. She's quiet and not prone to argue about much of anything. She laughs, and if you press her, will engage back with you. You have to press, but at least she does engage.

Joe, on the other hand, keeps himself apart in his den. He rarely tries to engage. He occasionally shows a sense of humor, which continues to surprise me when it emerges because he always kept it squelched around me.

I'm trying to discourage him about the mowing. He insists the 7 acres be mowed. Gas is so bloody expensive now that I'm trying to discourage that. Additionally, I'm trying to stretch the times between mowings. I don't want to let the yard stay totally unkempt, but I don't feel it affordable to keep it a continual 2.5 inches tall with gas at nearly $4.00 a gallon.

If he just had a normal front and back yard, I'd agree and mow. He argues because Jimmy across the street keeps his lovely and low.  Well...Jimmy doesn't mow his back field. Larry next door mows his front and back yard and takes the tractor to the field. Thank heavens for Larry, because the field Larry takes the tractor to is actually Dad's field - the field I try to keep Dad distracted from. I've mowed to the crest of the hill and left the rest to go to hay or whatever.

We're wondering if the neighbors on the other side have absconded because their yard is about 2 feet tall now. I think that's egging Dad on, to boot.  We had 2 go-arounds about the mowing today.  He's furious with me. I'd hold out for another day, but I think I'm going to have to give in and mow tomorrow just for my own sanity.  Sigh.  There goes $40 bucks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Catch Up

This will be a catch-up post. Things have gone fairly smoothly this week. Both parents have seemed a little less competent this last week.  Dad is beginning to ask me to check the house after he goes to bed. A couple of times he's wanted me to follow him around as he's locked up. I have no clue what purpose my tag along served.

Mother has been batty in the mornings a lot. For some reason she's getting up and wandering around the house.  I've learned to just ignore her. She goes back to bed. Won't talk a bit. She's begun to play with the flashlights, shining them around. I've asked her if that's her way of signalling me or if she's just being silly, and she said being silly.

Speaking of not talking, she's been especially quiet lately. It's as if she can't remember to open her mouth and talk. If her teeth need new fixative, even though she's sitting no more than 3 feet from me, she just grunts and gestures with teeth in hand rather than speaking up and saying, "Gayle, would you mind fixing my teeth?"

Dad's getting worse and worse about wanting two suppers. I think sometimes a snack would do, but he can't remember snacks, so asks for supper. He also has become bad about setting a soda out of the fridge and forgetting about it.  There's no clue as to what distracts him away from it, but then he'll walk off and leave it sitting on the table.

He's also sleeping much later more frequently.  Thank you, Doc, for the Seroquel. The only problem with that is that it wreaks havoc with the meal schedule.

That's all I can think of right now.  I may document more if I remember it.  I'm heading for Memphis today (Sunday) and will return Wednesday.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pictures About the Mowing

Most of the relatives already know this lawn/field area surrounding my parents' house.  For those of you who don't and may be wondering why on earth I moan and groan so much about the mowing, these are pics of the area that need mowing.

That's according to what my Dad demands. These are the areas he's always kept mown. Wait, spell check doesn't like the word "mown" at all.  Isn't that a valid word anymore? Sigh.

The first picture is of the front yard. It extends to the last individual tree you can see on the left.

The second picture is of the back yard/field. The yard extends about 5 feet to the left of the end of the workshop. I know you can't visualize from this pic, but there is another window just to the left of the edge of the pic, and the building ends equidistant like the end of the window on the right. This is my Dad's workshop where he used to make furniture.

The stump on the left is the tree that split and fell on the left edge of the workshop during a storm. The field that Dad requires to be mowed ends at the tree line at the far back of the picture.

The third picture is the right side of the property. What he owns and has always mowed is L-shaped. The neighbors to the right own land just past the line of trees on the right.  You can see the difference in the color of the lawn/field just past the trees.

Their land is darker green. My Dad's land is lighter. It extends to the far back full tree line you can see.

What I haven't shown here is the "Apple Orchard."  Dad planted a lot of apple trees 30 years ago. I can't remember the number but I think it was about 30 trees.  I'll try to take a pic of them tomorrow.  You can't see them due to the slope of the land and the trees.

OMG, I only got back there a few days ago when I had to retrieve the golf cart from being stuck. It was just 3 days ago that it was dry enough to mow and I finally got to see it all. At this point in time, you can't even count the number of trees that are there because so many are down.  Dad got so bad he quit taking care of them years ago.  I didn't realize this.  Flitter, I never walked back there.

He hadn't pruned them in years I now realize, probably in two decades. He may have never known how to properly prune them.  The result  is that they grew so many branches the roots couldn't hold the trees up when the soil became waterlogged.  There are more trees fallen over than there are standing right now. It's a nightmare.

Actually mowing is nigh on to impossible. It's a matter of zigging in and under branches as much as possible.  It's simply a snake fest waiting to happen.  It needs someone to go in with a chainsaw and take all the fallen ones out. Oy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dehydrated Eggs

This is to document my experimenting with dehydrating eggs. In making sure we have enough food on hand to get us through an emergency - say a tornado not killing us but wiping out a lot, or flood, or whatever - I've been working on getting some food stored up.  This post is about working on having eggs on hand.

The conclusion of the experiment is that:
1. It's not complete - I still have to try these in a something like a cake recipe.
2. If I didn't have food, these would be better than going without.

I tried rescrambling the dehydrated eggs.  The taste was A-okay; nothing at all wrong with the taste. Texture was a big fail. Talk about grainy. I have not yet tried these in a recipe such as a cake calling for eggs. I will try to remember to post back about this after I have done it.

Shelf-life of commercial powdered eggs is supposed to be 15 years. So good for long-term storage, good for nutrition, and good for long-term survival if TSHTF. I used this method to try to circumvent the cost of buying commercial powdered eggs.

The process is that you mix eggs in a bowl, then you scramble them. You take the cooked, scrambled eggs and dry them in your dehydrator until they're nice and crispy. Then you powder them and store the resulting powder.  When you want to use them, you rehydrate at a ratio of 1 tblsp dried egg to 2 tblsp of water, or 1:2.

Egg powder in blender after removing
from dehydrator
8 scrambled eggs dehydrated

1 tablespoon egg powder to 2 tablespoons water.
This is immediately after  mixing.

This is after letting it sit for 2 hours to see if it mixed
any better. It didn't.

These are the scrambled eggs made from the dehydrated
scrambled eggs. This shows what was left in the bowl and
gives an indication of the graininess to which I referred.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Golf Cart - Not The Lawn Mower

Oh, well, no breakfast for Joe today I suppose.  He's up and about and, actually, out back picking up sticks. He was in his pajamas in the den when I arose. I set everything out to make the breakfast and waited for him to dress and put his teeth in. When he walked through the living room dressed at 10:45 a.m., I asked him if he wanted "breakfast."  He told me no and that he'd be back. Okay.

Finally fed him his first meal at 11:30 a.m.

If it's not the lawn mower, it's the golf cart. About 6:00 p.m. he came to me and told me that he needed me to go down into the back field and get his cart unstuck from the mud.  Argh! I finally got it back up here after traipsing to the very back of 7 acres through weeds up to my knees and water two inches deep. The bolts have fallen off the screws holding the cover on, and the cover was banging and flapping the whole way.

Sigh. Another key to be hidden; he can't drive it while broken, nor while it's so wet when he hasn't enough mind not to take it in the swamp. When I took the key out of the ignition, he went ballistic, and I went ballistic right back. Copperhead swamp runs don't improve my temper. He told me'd he'd whip my ass. I just told him to get started on it and walked away.

He hasn't followed me yet.  He's busy rolling the trash can out to the highway and, I suppose, tightening the hatches for the night. He came in later and showed me how he'd put the trash can in the "right" place tonight. For a year and a half, it's had to be right at the end of the driveway, and he had a freaking fit one time when I placed it wrong. Tonight it is across the highway because "that's where they want it." I cannot keep my eyes glued to him every minute of every hour.

I have no clue when he moved the can from the end of the driveway to across the highway, nor what thought crossed his brain to make him decide to do it. It probably took him four minutes to get it across the highway.  That's a long time, but that's the pace he moves. That's a bit slow to get across a highway.

Mom's been more feeble this week - needing more help in dressing and directions on what to do to proceed with life. Had to tell her how to put a shirt on, how to wash her hands after going to bathroom, how to get to bedroom.

It has gone from 60°F to 80°F in one day.  I think the A/C went belly up while it was turned off in the last few days.  It's friggin 78°F in the house right now at 12:18 a.m., and I turned the A/C on about 5:00 p.m. this evening.  Criminy. First I'm going to ask the neighbor to look at the fuses.  This house has the most ancient fuses of any house I've lived in, including our house in Harriman built in 1898. I can't tell if it's a blown fuse or the A/C. I'm scared to touch the fuse panel. If it's the A/C, damn, we may have to take out a loan to have it fixed.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Still Lawn Mower Wars and Cat Kills

Round 1 of the Lawn Mower War was at 3:00 p.m. Joe had been quietly picking up sticks for a while. He sat down on the patio for a bit. I was in the kitchen cleaning up from getting some chickens in the smoker. The next thing I knew, from behind me I heard, "Hey, Little Girl, I want you to do something for me and go get me that thing down there's key." Damn he pops from place to place before you know it, especially if you don't keep your eyes glued to him.

"I'm sorry, but it rained last night," I replied.

"Oh, no, it didn't do no wet last night!" he told me. More degradation of language skills - double negatives. As he walked away, he informed me, "Well, we wouldn't be doing fine if I were the boss around here!"  Mmm, hung up on negatives right now, as I interpreted that to mean everything would be fine if he was still the boss around here.

The Flood of 2011

Here is a clip about the local flooding of April/May 2011. Sandy, my sitter, and Mom heard the blast from the levee blowing in New Madrid according to Sandy. I was surprised at that and waited to hear the blow from the other levee blowing in Hickman, but we didn't hear that one today. I don't know if I just had my earphones on and was listening to a book or what. From what I can gather, Mom would have been asleep.

Nonetheless this shows the reason I went out of my way to avoid Dyersburg, TN, on my way back to my parents' house this time. Dyersburg  is on the normal route I take back and forth between my parents' house and my home in Memphis.

Dehydrating Lesson Learned 1

Today's lesson is: Don't put the small stuff on top of the large stuff and get some screens. I dried diced carrots on top of cabbage. Oops. Don't do that. The carrots fall through the tray as they decrease in size. Believe me, it's no fun picking a half package of carrots out of a head of cabbage!

The last time I dried foods it was apples and fruit leathers when Josh was a kid. The problem with both was that they barely lasted past getting them off the dehydrator! With the apples, it was worse as the peeled and sliced apples barely made it to the dehydrator. He and his buddies, Melissa and Vanessa, just hung around waiting for the servant, me, to feed them peeled, seeded and sliced fruit.

I swear those 3 went through 2 fresh apples, each, every time I dehydrated apples. Then they went through the same amount the next day when I took the apples out of the dehydrator. I barely had the energy to get apples stored up at all.

It's been absolutely ages since I've a dehydrated anything, but I found some things I wanted to try. Since my original dehydrator is in storage, I got myself a Nesco Snackmaster and have been having a go at it. I think I got the Snackmaster. I'm not sure, though. The price was right, but after I got it home, I realized neither the box nor the dehydrator have the word "Snackmaster" on it.

Nonetheless, I'm very happy with it. It has different temperatures that range from 95° to 160°F. It came with four trays and the ability to hold 12; the other 8 have to be purchased separately. This model dries from the top down as opposed to my other one in storage which dries from the bottom up. The advantages of this that I've seen so far are that:

  • The bottom can actually be submersed and washed. 
  • The weight of the lid with the dryer in it seems to help hold the trays together and not losing air.
Now you may ask, "What's got you all hot and bothered to dehydrate?" I went on a little web surfing binge into preserving food because the recent tornadoes and flooding have me thinking a bit that a supply of food on hand wouldn't be a bad thing. 

Are you aware that if there was a natural disaster in your area that closed off roads, say due to an ice storm, flooding, a bridge gone out or downed trees, that the local grocery stores only have enough food to last three, yes, 3, days as of May 5, 2011?

Back in LaLa Land, Mowing War

I'm back with my parents having arrived yesterday. The drive was beautiful, but, man, alive, I had to go out of my way to avoid the flooding in the area. I ended up driving to Jackson and taking 45E all the way up to Fulton before getting back to my normal route. Even then I encountered places where I wondered if the water was going to be on the road.

Additionally, I counted 26 trees down on I40 just before Jackson. I have no clue if the storms got them or if they simply toppled over because the wet ground couldn't hold them up anymore. There were a lot of trees down in Milan, Tennessee, too. Those looked like wind got them mostly.

We've had Round 1 of the Lawn Mower War today. I was talking to Max on the phone when Dad came in. Again, Dad plowed on into conversation regardless of the fact I was on the phone. Max just shut up and listened to this round. He sat rather quiet for a long time after Dad left. It is stunning to someone who isn't dealing with this on a daily basis to realize that the same thing is going on day after day and sometimes hour after hour.

The Seroquel seems to be having an effect on Dad's behavior, however. Yay! He's not getting quite as mad as before, and he seems to let go of the subject in a shorter amount of time. Thank you for any small miracle.

About an hour after Round 1, we had Round 2. He wanted the key again. The neighbor across the street was mowing his front lawn, at least part of it. Darn. I apologized profusely and told Dad he just didn't weigh enough anymore to keep it working, and he kept breaking it by running the battery down and hurting the blade.  He said, "I break it?"  I said, "Yes, sir. I'm sorry, but you do." He turned around and walked off.

He seemed to take these spats in stride. He was back in a good mood by supper time. For some reason, when he wanted to go to bed about 8:15 p.m., he had to take me out to the garage and the den. I still don't know why, but I had to walk him through his shutting things down. I still had to go back in later to turn off some lights and turn on different outside ones.

I finally took the curtain off the door between the den and the living room.  This has proven to be such a problem in keeping up with Joe, but Mom has resisted so much I've needed to change.  Today, I just told her I needed to take it down, and she said it was okay.  Go figure.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Yeehaw! I'm home

Home Sweet Home. I reckon those 3 words will always be true.

Yesterday's drive home was nerve wracking - lightning, wind, blinding rain with hydroplaning, and worrying if the road ahead was going to be flooded.  Man, alive, the water is high. Fields and fields of lakes in new places all along the 150 mile trip. I wondered what the camel I saw at the Safari Farm along US 412 thought about his waterlogged grazing ground.

If it doesn't start absolutely pouring again, there's shopping I'm itching to do this afternoon. Right now it's morning coffee time. About ready to turn off CNN as I'm getting sick of jubilant crowing over killing Osama bin Laden. Alright already. The US killed him. It's amazing how 60 minutes can be filled with saying the same dang thing every different way a human mind can think.

To Kim:  blog something!
To Cherizac: better yet?