Apple Cider and More

Once again, we were too busy making apple cider to take any pictures and document the process. The end result is delicious. In fact, even though it’s almost November, I might keep my eye on the orchards that advertise windfalls and “not quite perfect” apples. They would still make delicious cider.

Coming up soon: Amigo and his barbershop chorus are warming up for their next level of competition. Take it from me, folks, these guys are sounding good. I’ve helped out a little here and there by assisting with sectionals (when the guys split up to learn their own parts), donating my homemade goods as raffle prizes, and mainly by getting Amigo to rehearsals. I’m looking forward to hearing the chorus sing next weekend!

It’s All School Field Trip Day on Tuesday. I was ready to go to a planetarium and earth science museum. I chickened out. Seriously, sort of, in a way, because I feared settling into the planetarium and having the world start spinning around me again. It might be a meaningless fear, but I just didn’t feel up to chancing it. Since there were plenty of teachers signed up to go, I passed on the Person-In-Charge paperwork to another teacher and put myself on a different trip. I’ll be going on a hayride, picking up a pumpkin and maybe some apples (woot! more cider!) and having a relaxing and fun lunch afterwards with a few teacher friends.

To summarize, it’s been a busy weekend and it’ll be a busy week, too. And if anyone asks me “How d’you like them apples?” I’ll say “As cider, of course.”

Where I’ve Been

Oh, readers, friends, and family – It’s been a rough few weeks. Call it vertigo, BPPV, labyrinthitis, inner ear version of kidney stone, sea legs on land, crystals out of alignment, or whatever you wish, but I’ve spent the past few weeks so dizzy and lightheaded that walking was difficult.

I saw three doctors: the one in the ER, my primary care doctor, and another primary care doctor in the same clinic. They did blood work, an EKG, an MRI, and basic stroke protocol. Oh, they probably did more, but I don’t need to burden you with the works.

Highlights? Let’s see. The radiology tech asked if I was sure I had a stent in my brain. I replied by telling him which artery. He was satisfied then. The three docs ruled out stroke, tumor, or meningitis. I lost a coworker to meningitis – was it really ten years ago? Oh, my – but anyway, I was relieved when the stiff neck went away and I didn’t need a lumbar puncture. Shudder.

Saturday and Sunday (a weekend, for better or worse luck) were the worst ever. I spent most of the weekend reclining on the couch watching a Harry Potter marathon on Freeform. The dizziness and lightheaded feeling were as bad as they’ve ever been. Chuck found me clutching my head and asked “Does your head hurt?” Hurt? It was throbbing so badly that I wanted an ice pack. Or two. Or three. Or seven. I could only read for short periods of time without getting a headache. That, of course, made me worry about…let’s not go into all the worries I’ve had. The list is almost as long as – well, it’s long. Quite long.

When I woke up Monday morning I sat still for a moment – my new routine, to let my brain adjust to being upright. The floor didn’t tilt, and the room didn’t spin. I sat still for a moment longer, wondering if the cycle would begin again. It didn’t.

I brought my cane to school with me, just in case I needed the balance and support, but I didn’t use it.

I came home and celebrated with popcorn from my favorite local fast food drive-through. Evening symptoms included a mild headache, so I took things easy. I rested on the couch and watched television with Amigo.

There you have it, folks, the recent past in a nutshell. I still have a physical therapy appointment on the calendar; if I don’t need it, I will cancel. At this point, I’m still monitoring the craziness, er, dizziness and hoping maybe it’s done.

Maybe my crystals have realigned themselves. I hope they don’t go traveling again; I really don’t want to develop my sea legs again.

To-do List and Climate Change

In a typical year, putting the garden to bed for the winter has been a pretty straightforward task. Harvest the last of the vegetables, dump any containers into the garden to enhance the soil, spread compost, sit back and enjoy the late autumn rains. Oh, I forgot leaves. Rake leaves into the garden or compost bins.

The past few years have been different. Snow has come later – December, even after Christmas two years ago. The last frost, the one that finally kills off the annuals and freezes the allergens, has been later each year, too. Sometimes I’ve looked outside and wondered if I might still have fresh tomatoes if I hadn’t put the garden to bed already.

This year, I’m still cleaning up the tomato plants. It wasn’t a good year for tomatoes, anyway. But I put in a second planting of lettuces and another batch of peas. I’ve been able to cut several batches of lettuce in September, and the peas are growing well – now, in October. Green beans have been prolific, too. Every time I pick beans, I notice more blossoms that will be more beans if temperatures stay warm.

Herbs are doing well in their containers on the deck. I plan to bring them inside as the frost nears and see if they can adjust to growing indoors. My grow lights might help.

I have a few volunteer tomato plants, too. They turned up in a random part of the garden where I have never grown tomatoes. I tossed the smallest of those into the compost and transplanted the bigger ones into containers. I have no idea how they’ll do, but I might bring them inside, too.

I have no idea when the final killing frost will happen this autumn. I don’t know if this is the new normal of climate change, this late fall and delayed winter. Whatever the weather, we’ll weather the weather, whether we like it or not.

First World Problems, indeed.

It’s a bummer of a day when all of these happen.

I was talking to myself, and my self replied, “That’s a stupid question.”

I pulled up a batch of volunteer tomato plants because they came up in the area in which I want to plant tomatoes next year. I told myself, “It’s October!” in order not to feel guilty for failing to transplant them.

I’m still dizzy, cause unknown, and yesterday’s ER visit had limited success. Limited in that I mean the testing ruled out stroke or brain tumor, but didn’t find the cause of the dizziness. Stiff neck improved with medication, so that ruled out another angle that might have meant some really painful and icky testing. I’m relieved, at least, for crossing those possibilities off the list.

On the good side, I’m still able to laugh. I heard a Miami Dolphins coach talk about building a quality team, and then I saw Jay Cutler at starting quarterback. How could I not laugh?

But then I remembered that Jay Cutler has a job, and Colin Kaepernik doesn’t. That, my friends, is sad. It’s a First World Problem, indeed, but that doesn’t excuse the implicit racism in the situation.

This dizziness makes it hard to pick tomatoes and water plants. I use one tomato support for balance while I pick tomatoes with the other hand. But then I don’t have a hand to hold the container for the tomatoes. Tough life for a gardener, indeed.

Watering plants involves too much bending and turning for my dizzy head. It’s a bummer because the remaining tomatoes need water, the beans are still growing and need water, and the rain barrels are all relatively full.

Speaking of rain barrels, we have three. I filled out the application for a one-time credit on our water bill, and we received a note from the Powers That Be that they needed more information. They included an aerial shot of our house and asked us to indicate where the rain barrels were and how the barrels fit into the storm water flow. The picture was outdated, so Chuck put in a few updates (like the new garage and the second garden plot and the updated landscaping) and indicated all the necessary information. None of that information was mentioned on the application for the rain barrel credit in the first place.

And there you have it, readers. I’m grateful for MRI technology, and I hope my insurance considers the testing necessary. The ER doctor did. In the meantime, I’ll quietly recover, hopefully, from whatever illness inspired this post full of rants.

 

Well, we all meant well.

She posted two words on Facebook: Not Today. It had a purple background with gradient stripes of various widths.

She’d had some rough times recently. In the past year, a sibling had died, she’d gone through a divorce, she’d moved to a totally new city.

So we replied. Are you okay? How can we help? What’s wrong? Love you; hugs; xoxo.

To which she responded: “Facebook just asked if I wanted to update my status.” Haha!

Oh, well, at least she knows we care.

Sub Plans

Chuck picked up a piece of scrap paper in the grocery store parking lot. He intended to throw it in the recycling bin when he got home, but something told him to show me the “list” before tossing it out. The slightly soiled paper said – well, here. You can read it.

Heading: (date in April) Thank you for subbing for me!

  • 8:20 Greet students at bus (front door)
  • 8:30 1st grade class Breakfast
  • 8:40 Art
  • 9:40 Georgy Break
  • 10:00 Math Ruby
  • 10:55 warm up Georgy’s lunch, red lunchbox, chicken patty 40 sec mac & cheese 4 min
  • 11:00 – 11:30 Your lunch
  • 12:00 Kindergarten – bring (unreadable) to bathroom

I don’t see a dismissal time. I hope this substitute managed to find the exit when the bell rang.

I’m guessing this is a plan for a substitute paraprofessional, a teacher aide, likely special education. Other suggestions?

Top Ten List – in which Daisy is under the weather

Remember the Daisy Reality Show? It was the fictional creation of a reality show featuring yours truly, a television producer, and the producer’s bumbling assistant. Creating “Reality Show” posts lets me experiment with point of view and reassure myself that my life, in reality, is quite ordinary. Here’s a potential discussion between the producer and her assistant.

Producer: We won’t get much today. Daisy isn’t feeling well.

Assistant: Really? I hadn’t noticed. How can you tell? Give me one good way to tell that Daisy isn’t at her best!

Producer: I’ll do better than that.

  1. Daisy didn’t label or put away the applesauce she canned three days ago.
  2. The kitchen compost bucket is full.
  3. She stepped outside, said,”The container plants need watering,” and stepped inside without watering anything.
  4. The large hot water bath canner, full of water, still sits on the stove, taking up space.
  5. Daisy made coffee this morning and only drank half of what she brewed.
  6. Daisy ate popcorn for breakfast – stale popcorn, at that. Easy on the tummy, I guess.
  7. She didn’t empty the dishwasher, either. That’s one of her pet peeves; a dishwasher full of clean dishes, and a counter with piles of dirty dishes.
  8. The newspapers from the last two days are still in their (stupid, wasteful, plastic) delivery bags.
  9. Bunny didn’t get fed until quite late this morning, and the litter box still isn’t clean.
  10. And the biggest piece of evidence that Daisy might be ill: It’s Saturday, and she didn’t go to the downtown Farmers’ Market.

Assistant: Oh.

Back to School – Virtual School, Daisy Style

Back in my regular classroom days, preparing for school meant something different. I posted this three years ago, and only one item needed a change. Can you guess which piece wasn’t on the list three years ago?

Here are a few examples.

  • Then: I’d browse the school supply ads and stock up for students that I knew couldn’t afford supplies. 
  • Now: I stock up on canning supplies and fresh, local foods so I can feed my family through the winter.
  • Then: I’d plan at least a week in advance, usually more, to spend time in my room setting it up for the students’ arrival. It would take several days.
  • Now: I stopped in last week to pick up a few things and drop off a few others. Over the weekend, we picked apples on the tree out front of the office.
  • Then: I’d get the calendar up to date, noting staff meetings and parent-teacher conferences and any other commitments outside of the regular hours.
  • Now: I’ll get the calendar up to date. This item is still necessary.
  • Then: I’d spend a few Saturdays at school preparing my room and catching up with coworkers.
  • Now: I spend Saturdays at the farmers’ market or in the kitchen working on stocking the pantry.

I also make a point of spending time outside. It can be as simple as weeding or watering the garden or reading a book on the deck, but getting out is an important ingredient in self-care. Heck, playing Pokemon Go and walking through a park is a relaxing, mindless outdoor break, too.

Back to school means back to my cubicle and much, much more. The process may look different on the surface, but underneath the hustle and bustle it’s the same: getting ready for a new group of kids and parents.

Squirrel!

Both of us, Chuck and I, have worked with people who are easily distracted. I’ve taught many, and not just those with formally diagnosed ADHD. Have you seen the tee shirts? “Look, something shiny!” “They just don’t understand – Look! A chicken!” Or our favorite, “SQUIRREL!”

I’m reminded of certain days in class when keeping kids focused was just not going to happen. Imagine the following conversation in an intervention reading group for  an online middle school.

Me (Teacher): Open your books to page X, “The Prince and the Pauper.”

Student J: Prince died.

Me: (thinking “Squirrel!”) Yes, he did. This story is written by Mark Twain. What do you know about Mark Twain? Have you read any of his other works?

(Student L. logs in late, not using her name, but as “Llama.”

Me: Llama, please log out and log in with your real name.

(Student logs out and returns, using the screen name “Lori Loves Llamas.”

Me: Hi, Lori. I like llamas, too. Open your book to page…

(Lori types into chat): I like llamas because a llama spit on my brother.

SQUIRREL!!! 

Some days, I should just go back to bed.

Why I Like “Outdaughtered” on TLC

Ah, reality shows. The Daisy reality show would never be reality; my life is actually rather dull, and I mean that in the best of ways. One of the shows in the Big Family category has caught my attention, and here’s why it did.

Outdaughtered features the Busby family, a couple with six daughters. One girl just turned six years old, and the other five little ones just turned two. You read that right, readers: quintuplets. The only all-girl set of quintuplets to be born in the U.S.

Many scenes feature Danielle, a.k.a. Mom Busby, sitting on the playroom floor surrounded by the toddlers. I remember working in child care, spending hours on the floor surrounded by preschoolers or toddlers. I handled that for six to eight hours, and I can only imagine the Busby family handling their little ones 24/7/365. Danielle earns my respect for being a stay-at-home mom to six little one, five in diapers.

Adam, a.k.a. Dad Busby, is dealing with a mental health problem; he has a major depression going on. I understand how that can feel; the worst depression of my life took place about seven years ago. I made some difficult decisions during that time such as blogging my progress, sharing (or not sharing) my diagnosis with coworkers, and much later, deciding to put my real name to a very public essay on depression. I admire Adam’s courage in allowing his depression to be seen on their television show. By publicly owning his illness, he risks criticism from people he doesn’t even know. By publicly admitting he needs help, he risks being seen as weak. But on the positive side, by publicly owning his depression, Adam Busby lets others, especially other men, know that they can seek help. They don’t need to suffer alone or tough it out. Adam earns my respect by facing his depression, and by doing it in a way that may – no, WILL – help others.

Now to the third reason I follow the Busby family’s adventures in reality television. Hazel, little Hazel Grace, is the reason. Hazel was the smallest quint at birth. She developed more slowly and reached milestones such as walking later than her sisters. Hazel also has a vision problem. Her diagnosis thus far is not the same as my Amigo’s blindness, Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), but we went through a journey much like Adam and Danielle’s when Amigo was a baby. Hazel is adorable and lovable, like many tots. Every time I see her squint and every time I watch an episode at the eye doctor’s office, it takes me back. 25 years ago feels like yesterday.

And that, dear readers, is why I record Outdaughtered on Tuesday nights.

And that, my friends, is also why I’m worried about a family in Houston that I don’t even know. I hope the Busbys and their extended family in Texas and Louisiana are safe and healthy in the midst of Hurricane Harvey.