Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Infamous Sock Plant

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we've been working on our back yard ... a lot.  We removed a palm tree and some other shrubs, planted many, many drought tolerant plants, filled in with bark.  You get the general idea, we've been working out there a lot. 

Little Mischief Millie absolutely loves it when we're all outside on the weekends.  Nothing pleases her more than running laps around the yard, taking a break, and then running more laps.  And she loves following her mommy and daddy around, and sniffing around to see what we're up to.

Apparently what she's picked up on is planting - though trust me, she does her fair share of digging as well.  As you may have heard, we have a drought going on here in California, so we've been trying to cut back on watering the plants and such, hence the drought tolerant plants we've been planting.  That said, there is a small brown patch on the lawn on one side of the yard where the sprinklers don't quite r-e-a-c-h, and I've been doing a bit of hand watering in that area.  When I came home from work the other day, I changed clothes and headed outside to water.  Millie happily followed me out the back door dancing a little jig because we were headed outside!  I turned on the hose and headed over to the lawn when I spied something out of the corner of my eye that looked a little odd.  I couldn't quite figure out what it was until I got a little closer.

What I discovered was the rarely seen, often whispered about, and highly prized...SOCK PLANT.  What's that?  You've never heard of them before?  I'm not surprised.  Rare is the sighting of this most elusive of botanical wonders.  Truly.  It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.  On the assumption that you may never have another chance, I've decided to share my awesome find with all of you.  Ready?

I know, I know … you're all jealous.  Well, what can I say?  Some of us have a green paw, and some of us don't ;o)

Monday, May 04, 2015

Confessions of a Former Stocker

Shortly after I was diagnosed last year, I noticed that my appetite had changed.  Suddenly many of the things I'd eaten in the past just didn't taste good any more.  Burger and fries?  No appeal.  Pizza?  No thanks.  Ice Cream?  Eh, not so much.  What I really started craving was much healthier foods.  Lots of fruit and veggies, a little bit of lean beef and chicken, Greek yogurt, plain pasta, frozen fruit bars.  And I can't eat a lot at one time.  In fact, often for breakfast and lunch I just sort of snack.  Maybe some yogurt for breakfast and a while later a piece of fruit.  Then around lunch time, a bit of cheese and some nuts.  Later maybe another piece of fruit and a few crackers.

I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the medications that I take, but there was definitely a huge difference.  Additionally with the heart disease component of the cancer, I've really had to cut back on the amount of sodium I consume.  Which is really a good thing!  Honestly, it's quite shocking to find out how much sodium we take in every day.  Shocking and scary!  Until the edema started last year, I hadn't really worried much about my sodium intake.  Now I notice.  Trust me.  When your ankles become cankles, it's hard not to notice!


Though we've changed the way we eat, we haven't changed what our cupboards hold.  Well, technically we've added some things - like lower sodium chicken and beef broth, lower sodium soy sauce, and a wide variety of different snacks - but we haven't taken anything away.  And I admit, it's overwhelming to me when I open the cupboards to find something.  Rather than sort through what's in the cupboard - which I haven't the energy to do - I choose to pick up whatever we need for a recipe at the market.  I know I'm only putting off the inevitable task of cleaning out the cupboards, but at least I'd been able to avoid it just a little longer.

Until last weekend.

We'd been talking about going the 'Graze' snack route, (but creating the snacks in our own containers and taking them to work -- much cheaper than subscribing to Graze or it's competitors) and had been doing so for about 2 weeks.  It's worked out well, but the snacks were just sitting on the counter taking up space because there wasn't space in the cupboard.  So I did it:  I broke down and bought some of these awesome containers...                                                  

The cereal and snack cupboard was fun to organize!  There were a few products that had expired, or crackers that had gone stale, but overall, it went together pretty well - things were much more organized and accessible.  Just what you want when you clean out your cupboards!  Then…I headed over to the canned goods and mixes cupboard.  Oh.My.  When had it become so disorganized and crowded?  The cupboard was so full I swear I heard it moan under it's own weight when I opened the doors.  Where to start?  Kevin took a break from what he was doing to come in to help - and I'm so thankful he did!  Many of the canned goods had expired and most of the rest of them, as well as the rice mixes, etc., had SO MUCH SODIUM that we knew we couldn't keep them.  We would never eat them, so it wasn't even a question - they had to go.  We filled up a large box to donate to our local food pantry and dumped out the products that had expired.  We were overwhelmed with the many things that we hadn't used and didn't really need.  I decided right then and there that I would never again stock this much stuff in our cupboards.  There are only two of us for Heaven sakes.  It hurt my poor little frugal heart to see all of the waste we'd created.  It was senseless.  From now on our cupboards will hold just enough. I don't care if soup is on sale for just twenty five cents a can - we don't eat it.  We've become soup snobs and are really only interested in our own homemade soups.  Canned veggies?  Blech.  Bring on the fresh stuff or nothing at all.  After we removed all of the things we can't eat, and tossed out the expired items, our cupboards were a thing of beauty.  I kept opening them to peek inside and make sure everything was still in its proper place.  

Ahhh.  So simple and yet so extraordinary at the same time.  Be honest - when was the last time you cleaned out your cupboards?  Don't you think it's time? Go on, go…clean!  It will make you feel better!

Our Sweet, Sweet Girls

December, in addition to it being a crazy busy month, was a sad month for us as well.  After 13 wonderful years together, we had to have our sweet Slippers put down.

For a while she just hadn't been herself.  She had slowed way down, which is normal for a 14 year old dog I think.  She had pretty severe arthritis in her hips and it was quite difficult for her to get around.  She was on several medications to help ease the pain, and though we knew she was sometimes uncomfortable, she greeted us every morning with a wagging tail, a beautiful smile, and enthusiasm to start a brand new day.  Early in December, though, things changed.  She was breathing funny, coughing a bit as though she had a dry throat, and we noticed that one side of her torso had become quite enlarged.  Kevin took her to the vet where they told us that she had fluid in her lungs.  They drained the fluid and prescribed lasix and sent her home.  It seemed like she was better for a day or two, but the coughing returned and, within a few more days, so did the fluid in her lungs.  We called the vet again, and they gave us more lasix and we tried that…but it wasn't working.

When I got home from work the Friday evening before Christmas, there was no one to greet me at the door and I knew something was wrong.  I went to the living room where I found Slippers lying on the floor; she was alert, but not moving.  She'd lost control of her bowels and looked kind of dazed, I thought - and still think - that she had a stroke.  I went right to her side and started comforting her telling her it was okay, and petting her gently.  Within a few minutes Kevin got home and came in and found both of us sitting on the floor.  He immediately got down on the floor and we all three sat there for a while.  Kevin and I took turns sitting with Slips and trying to clean up the floor around her.  The whole time she was very calm, but didn't make any attempt to move - we determined that she probably could not move on her own.  We both tried to get her up, but it almost seemed as if she didn't want to move.  Both Kevin and I were devastated.  We knew that we had a very difficult decision to make, and we just looked at each other and started crying.

One of our neighbors had told me about a year before about a vet that comes to your house to euthanize your pets.  They can stay put and be in the comfort of their own homes, without having to get into the car and head to a vets office that is cold and unfamiliar.  Kevin and I called several services and found a vet who was willing to come out that evening. I won't go into details - it still crushes me to even think about it - but we were satisfied that our baby Slippers lived a good, long life with people who took good care of her and loved her immensely.  Kevin and I were both able to be there with her and comfort her as she drifted into a peaceful sleep.  We will be forever grateful to have had Slippers in our life.  She made us better people.

For the remainder of our winter break, we both pined for a dog.  We both just feel that a house is not a home without a dog.  We were betwixt and between wondering if we should wait longer, or if it was okay to begin looking for a new buddy.  We finally decided that Slippers would understand, and maybe even help guide us to find her sister or brother.  A new doggy out there waiting for a mommy and daddy to adopt and love him or her, just as we had Slippers all those years ago.

After a few false starts, I'm happy to say that we finally found the baby girl for us.  We found her in a nearby shelter where she'd come in as a stray.  She is three years old, black and white like her sister, and we fell in love with her instantly.  We had to wait for several days before we could adopt her, so we visited several times.  She was a bit frightened at first, but warmed up to both of us right away and we knew we had chosen well.

Meet Millie…

If you think she looks a lot like her sister, you'd be right.  Slippers had about 60 pounds on her, but other than that Millie and Slippers kinda look like twins.  And is Millie ever spirited!  If only I had half the energy she does I would accomplish 10 times more each and every day!  Something tells me there will be many Millie the Mischief Maker posts in the coming months and years.  Stay tuned!

So there you have it…the Tail of Two Doggies.  Sisters forever linked together by one mommy and daddy.  Love you both!