Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Single Ladies

On Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 Mr. Right and I were watching a little TV. We somehow landed on the American Music Awards show and after watching for a few minutes, we decided it just wasn't our cup of tea. Then Mr. Right went to run an errand (pick up dinner) and as he left, I said I was probably going to change the channel and he said that was A Okay with him.

Right after he left, someone called The Dream came on to introduce the next performer, Beyonce. I watched for a couple of minutes and picked up the remote control and pushed Record. When Mr. Right got home, I showed him Beyonce's performance of Single Ladies and I was more than happy to do that because it meant that I got to watch it again. Then we both watched it yet again. I loved everything about it, the song, the message, and the audacious and energetic dance. We showed that video over and over again.

Three of our daughters/daughters-in-law did the dance during Christmas week and did an amazingly respectable job of it. I saw a YouTube video of 100 dancers performing the number at Picadilly Circus in London and I saw that there was an MTV video of Beyonce performing the number; but, I've never liked another version as much as I liked the one she did at the American Music Awards show.

Then I saw Kanye West interrupt Taylor Swift's acceptance of the Best Video award at the VMA to state that Beyonce's video was better; indeed, the best music video ever. Although I thought what he did was inexcusable, I thought what he said was true. It's a great video.

Now someone's come out with a version that I love almost as much as the original performed at the 2008 AMA's. Check out this baby version for a real treat. If you haven't already seen it, you owe it to yourself to watch it now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Heard Some News Today, Oh Boy

Whenever I hear, see, read, or feel something that gives me chills, it's special. Chills are involuntary. I can't make them happen but when they do, I know I've just become privy to something big. And I believe it's because someone, somewhere needs me to appreciate the enormity of the news. Or maybe it's because somewhere in my subconscious it's what I needed to hear or read or see. Or maybe it's an intuition of some sort. An inner knowledge or belief in the goodness of what I've learned. Whatever. Today I got chills and another day I'll explain why. Oh and, just so you know, I even got chills when I shared my knowledge with Mr. Right. Wow!

On another note, I've written often about our many and varied bird visitors this Spring and Summer. Well last week we had another one and I'm wondering if anyone can help me identify him or her. He was really huge. I'd say at least a foot tall from the top of his head to the tip of his tail - maybe even 18 inches. Here are a couple of pictures:

Any enlightenment would be greatly appreciated. Most importantly...should I fear for my koi? He looks kind of like a predator, doesn't he?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Busy Times

I can't believe how much adjustment is required in retirement. I can't, seriously CAN'T, believe that that there's so much to do daily and that, even though I make an ever growing 'To Do' list, I've never accomplished everything on it in a single day. I like having the list though. It helps keep things from falling through the cracks and it keeps me on track. I include everything from taking my pills to making my bed. I make sure to do some laundry every day and I edit some pictures too although not as many as I used to because I found out how little time I really have. I love these days though. I'll always be grateful for every single one of them and for everything I've been able to do that I couldn't have done if I were still giving more physical effort everyday than I had to give. I just can't wait until Mr. Right joins me. We're going to have such a good time and part of the reason will be that we can travel at the drop of a hat if we want to.

I've been trying to evolve my koi husbandry skills with some degree of success. There are no longer any koi in the two tubs outside. I've moved a total of 100 of them into the goldfish pond (where there are no goldfish of course), and the last 42 were moved into the aquarium yesterday. Here they are just before they were introduced into their new home.

Cute aren't they?

I was able to add this many to the aquarium, first of all because they're so small and secondly because the numbers of the ones that had been in the aquarium seemed to be diminishing ever since we put Mr. Algae Eater back in there. So before we added the 42, we netted the fast growing algae eater and took him for a one way ride to our local tropical fish store.

I'd estimate that there are about a hundred babies in the aquarium now and I did put 100 more into the goldfish pond where I never ever see more than six at a time which is worrisome. Also worrisome is the plan is to keep the outside koi in the rather shallow goldfish pond over winter with a pond heater or two. (Mr. Right doesn't know it yet but my next big push will be to get a portable generator. Otherwise a power loss in the middle of winter could result in the loss of our entire stock of koi.)

So it goes.

And I muse about people who hate retirement because they're so bored. Could it be because they don't have koi ponds? Or maybe they don't have a computer and a blog and Wii Fit (that's a story for another day) or gardens or books or a camera or WHAT? I don't get it. I really don't but I thank God that as long as I have my faculties and can get around unaided, I don't think I'll ever be bored with retirement. It's really too splendid for words!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Poison Ivy and My Doctor

The doctor gave me a shot of cortisone and a prescription for some skin cream that I applied once. It burned at first but then it gave me sweet relief. After that, the itching was never so bad that I had to do anything. The poison ivy patches are still there but they're not angry and red anymore just kind of dry and rough. And I've never even used the cream again.

My doctor told me some interesting things though. He said the poison ivy doesn't spread. I was afraid to take a shower for fear of covering my body, from my infected neck down, in poison ivy. He explained to me that new areas erupt because once the poison ivy is in the dermis, it's going to erupt. It just takes longer in some areas than in others depending on the thickness of the epidermis in any one area.

Oh, and you get infected with poison ivy anywhere that the oil of the plant touches. If you get it on your shoe string and don't wash it thoroughly, you can keep re-infecting yourself. The same holds true for your keyboard or your steering wheel. Anywhere that the oil touches stays capable of re-infecting you until it's either worn off or washed off. Once you've touched the oil on the plant, you can deposit it anywhere that you touch until you wash your hands thoroughly. But once your skin erupts in the dreaded poison ivy rash, you can't give it to anyone else. It's your own personal poison ivy and no one else can have it.

He also told me that I wouldn't spread it by scratching it. That was a huge relief because believe me, I scratched. I was so relieved to get the image of some living entity trying to force me to scratch as I feverishly tried to resist out of my head, that that alone soothed my skin. Of course, he said you shouldn't scratch because you're tearing up your skin but you aren't making the poison ivy worse by doing so.

Now I am SO motivated to thoroughly weed my sorely neglected back fence row beds that I can hardly wait to get them done BUT I'm terrified. I have identified at least three different plants back there with 'leaves of three'. You know the old adage, 'leaves of three, let it be' right? And I'm afraid to get anywhere near them. I'll do it though. I know I will. I'll wear turtle necks and gloves and whatever else it takes but I'll get them all. I am so mad at that poison ivy.

And I don't think it knew who it was messing with.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Next?

As our lives started to return to normal and I was breathing sighs of relief and hopefulness, there was another curve up ahead. In the grand scheme of things it probably isn't such a big deal but I can say, with all candor, it's got my undivided attention.

It's probably poison ivy. About a week ago, I went outside and weeded for a few minutes. My goal was to do a little every day.

Three days ago I had two little itchy bumps on my neck. Mr. Right thought they looked like mosquito bites but Mr. Right was Mr. Wrong this time. The next day the whole side of my neck seemed to be affected. And yesterday it had traveled to the other side of my neck and up into my cheek.

You would not believe the itching. It's so distracting that when I went to the doctor today, I could hardly follow what he was saying because I was desperate to claw at my neck and scratch it until it bled. Last night I couldn't think of anything else. When I tried not to touch it, I felt like I was battling an unseen but living entity who was determined to win some perverse test of wills that would result in my scratching my neck. And guess what. That unseen but living entity won. I couldn't have slept at all had I not given in and the most unfair part of the whole thing is that scratching helped. It was a relief!

Not to gross anybody out but here's what I'm up against:

I couldn't get a really sharp picture and I'm not sure I wanted to because, you know, all those wrinkles and all. But you get the idea, right?

Now that I think about it, this could be the answer to my prayers. It's one of the few things that could distract me from the unceasing family worries and concerns. Yesterday sixteen people were killed about a quarter of a mile from one of my Army guys. He heard and felt the explosion. If this is the answer to my prayers, then I welcome it. Because this will go away. The doctor said so. And I've got a cortisone shot and a prescription cream to help me through it. So this I can bear. This is okay. It's just a bump in the road that might help me get through the other worrisome things going on. For them, I put my faith in God. I'm not in charge and the rash will keep me from trying to be. This rash might be just what I need.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Capture - Up Close

Beth's You Capture subject this week was even more interesting than I thought it was going to be. I thought I'd head outside and look for something different to photograph. After all, I've done flowers and fish until you can almost smell them. (Which can be good for one of them but not so much for the other.)

Anyway the first thing I came across was this:

I liked it so much that I had to include it.

Then I came to this:

And this:

But what was so interesting to me is that those were just a part of these:

And I was surprised at what they really looked like "up close".

Then I got this but I have to warn you. Don't get too close or look too long. This one is very sinister. If you come back tomorrow I'll tell you a story that might make your blood run cold. At least it did mine.

So remember this close up:

Could be part of this:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Mysterious Musketeers

When everybody came home for my dad's funeral, one of our eagle-eyed Army guys spotted something strange in the big pond where all our biggo koi live. He kept insisting that he saw three, dark fish darting here and there that we didn't even know existed. Finally, everybody else saw them too. Two of them were about 3 inches long and one was about 5 inches long and they just didn't belong there. We had our first koi spawning at the end of June and these guys were WAYYYYY too big to be from that. Besides they were all dark colored and we didn't have more than one koi baby that was solid black among the thousands that hatched. So the odds were remote that there were three koi offspring in the big pond. But the question was what were they and how did they get there.

On June 14th, we took all 13 big koi out of the big pond and put them temporarily in the pond that housed just 3 fairly adult goldfish. After the big pond was cleaned and refilled we netted each one of the koi and put them back into the big pond. All I can figure out is that there must have been 3 goldfish youngsters in there that we didn't know about and that traveled to the big pond in the net with some of the big koi. After all, we always make that transport as quickly as possible and our focus was to not get any of the 3 white and/or red goldfish in the net. Black ones could have slipped in without our ever knowing it AND goldfish always start out dark colored and change when they get older. Koi always start out with colors.

So, they must have been goldfish and we had to catch them to make sure they didn't have those characteristic koi barbels (whiskers) before we let them loose in the wild. So here's the biggest mysterioso:

And the 3 inchers look just like him only smaller.

Unfortunately these three were all very cunning and wily and perfectly matched the pond liner which made them exceedingly difficult to catch. So we ended up completely draining the big pond, moving the big fish into the baby koi pond (formerly the goldfish pond) where they probably snacked happily on their 16 tiny offspring that we'd just put in there this week. But we caught those little buggers and although we didn't plan on cleaning the big pond, we essentially did and now it looks even better than it did.

So I took this picture of the big guys back home in the big pond. It's not a good picture of the fish because of the waves from the waterfall and the aerator but it's a picture that shows the clean, fresh water and the colors of the koi that reside there and are welcome there without those evil little interlopers (who weren't even invited to the big koi party).

And once again, at least for awhile, the fish world is turning in greased grooves.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not To Be Boring With The Fish Again BUT

We finished with our fish rearranging project. The biggest of the baby koi had the cleanest, freshest little pond to swim in that you ever saw. It had to look like a universe compared to what they had been living in. We had about 13 of our biggest babies in there and of course they were doing a good job of hiding in their protection tunnel and among the rocks so I was looking for them WHEN I saw something land on the net that we have over the pond to protect them.

But first, let me show you what I'm talking about when I'm talking about protecting them.

Here is the tunnel that we built with our bare hands so they'd have a place to hide from evil predators.

Here is the net that we covered them with lovingly and anchored it securely on all sides so that nothing could harm them at all.

Here is the heron that we bought even though we aren't fond of them but we had heard that they're so territorial that if another heron saw this heron guarding our pond, he'd pass on by and forget about eating our baby koi.

So imagine my dismay when I saw a frog that I had startled jump unto the net, wriggle around a little bit, and plop cheerfully into the pond. And we had the hardest time catching him. We actually had to dismantle the cave before we could get him out.

So we did a little research on the internet and the general consensus seems to be that frogs will eat fish but only when they're really tiny........like ours. Whether or not he ate most or even any of the little guys, we probably won't know for some time but I'm just saying. How do we stay ahead of all the things that could happen?

I've seen as many as 6 at once of the 13 babies that we put in there and the rest may have been hiding. But at any rate, I'm up for this challenge. It's me against all the enemies of tiny baby koi fry. And I intend to win!

But don't worry. I'm not taking it THAT seriously. I know after all, that they're just fish.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kijiji and More

Beth at Ishouldbefoldinglaundry is giving away a $100 gift card to Kijiji which is eBay’s free, family-friendly, local classifieds site. I just spent about a half hour browsing the site and it does seem to have everything.

Thanks for your prayers and thoughts during this difficult time for us. One of our sons is now back from the live fire training which went well. He goes back in the field for, I think, two weeks tonight. The other one is just stepping into the evil place which is alive with IEDs and enemies intent on killing anybody they can, be they civilians, police personnel, or soldiers from other countries trying to bring peace to their land. That's the last thing they want. These are the same animals that chortle with delight over the destruction they caused on 911.

The events that shook our world after my dad's funeral continue to wreak havoc in our lives and someday I'll write about them but not yet. We're all praying for a good outcome but it will be years before we know if that will happen.

Once again, I'm grateful for your positive thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Always Something With The Fish

Sometimes I think the best way to ease a worried mind is to throw yourself into something like a great big project.

So today that's what we did.

My granddaughter, her husband, and Superbaby have been staying with us and they've always taken a very gratifying interest in the koi and every aspect of koi care. They were here when we finally had our spawning and they were very instrumental in collecting so many eggs that we had such a large hatch.

So I've been musing about what to do with the babies. We have a large pond with 13 large koi. We have a smaller pond for the purpose of quarantining new fish to be sure they're disease free before introducing them to the large koi population. That pond used to have 3 grown goldfish only Then this Spring just to make the koi look bad, they started spawning like madmen or mad fish. There were so many baby goldfish in there that when you fed them the surface of the water just churned with fish. Finally we had to release the 3 parents into the wild to stop the population explosion.

Then we had the aquarium and two tubs with baby koi. And the koi are the fish I value.

When we had to find places to put the unhatched eggs back in June, we removed the 3 fish that were in the aquarium. There was one algae eater and two long, skinny, fast-as-lightening tropical fish. We put them in the goldfish pond, crossing our fingers that they would be fine as long as the weather was warm.

Today we decided that we'd take all the goldfish out of their little pond and put all the baby koi into it at least until cold weather sets in (which I realize is probably sooner than we were thinking).

So we netted all the goldfish and put them in two buckets. Big Daddy was in there (more commonly known as Fat Bastard) and we put him in the big pond with the big, honkin' koi and crossed our fingers again. Then we put two more suspected baby koi in the tubs.

Now we had two buckets teeming with baby goldfish and the two long, skinny, fast-as-lightening tropical fish who seemed to have grown significantly. We dumped the algae eater back in the aquarium assuming that he was interested in eating koi eggs and itty, bitty, tiny koi fry and not the slightly bigger little guys that are in there now. Then we came in for lunch. Before we did I noticed that a lot of the goldfish in one of the buckets were hovering near the top and I commented that I thought they needed more air. But you know me and thinking I had more time, I thought to take care of it after lunch.

When I walked back out, one of the long, skinny, fast-as-lightening tropical fish was laying on the ground, dead of course and the other long, skinny, fast-as-lightening tropical fish was laying in the bottom of the bucket, also dead. And the little goldfish were dying in droves.

So I raced to Meijer and bought two aerators and the necessary accessories to keep alive the goldfish that we were desperately trying to figure out how to get rid of. $20 to keep fish alive that we didn't want...... at all. Sometimes I defy all logic.

They're doing quite well now. They have plenty of air and I'm confident they'll be fine until morning. But what do we do with them then? Any ideas? If we put them in a pond somewhere, would they upset the ecological balance? I need some ideas.

Oh, and as for Big Daddy alias Fat Bastard, he was swimming around happily, came up to partake of dinner when we fed everybody, and generally seemed to adjust very well. That is until all the giant koi came down to that corner to clean up the dinner scraps that had drifted over there and had their usual feeding frenzy. After that, we didn't see him again. I guess he's either scared to death and hiding or eaten to death and dead.

So the day was successful. The small pond is clean and waiting for baby koi and I was so busy that I my mind was diverted from that uneasy feeling. I'm pretty sure it was your prayers that set me on the road to that project. Thank you all very much.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What It Does To You When Life Throws You A Curve

As I discussed in my last post, we lost my dad this week. It was as unexpected as the death of a 95-year-old can be. He was a long way from 'in great health' but we thought he had at least a year or two left. (His dad lived to be 100.) Anyway, I called that 'Life Throwing Me A Curve". But life wasn't done throwing curves there.

After the funeral we had two cataclysmic, completely unexpected, defying all odds events that have left us all reeling. Beth briefly alluded to them here but felt she couldn't discuss them in detail. And I can't either. Just trust me when I say that it rocked our world and probably will for a long time. I'm sorry to be so obtuse but there's no choice. The reason I'm bringing it up at all is that I need some help.

One of my daughters today pointed out that when something happens that somehow you felt some immunity to, it leaves you feeling vulnerable to a lot of terrible things in life that you were hopeful couldn't or wouldn't touch you. And you feel uneasy all the time. The unexpected might be just around the corner after all.

So with one son in the middle of live-fire training out in the field for the entire week and the other son heading for a terrible place where the evil people there find increasingly cowardly ways to kill our sons, brothers, friends, etc. I'm looking for your prayers.

You can't beat the power of prayer and I'm asking for yours. Please pray for our boys and for all the boys in dangerous situations even when they're not deployed. Please help make this uneasy feeling go safely away not just for me but for all the moms, wives, sisters, and girlfriends of these brave guys.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

When Life Throws You A Curve

When I wrote my last post on August 31st, I had no idea what was in store for me in only a few short hours. I was looking forward to choosing a winner for my little giveaway celebrating my 100th post at 10 pm that evening and I was eagerly looking forward to getting back to a normal schedule following our return from our jaunts to Louisville, KY and Colorado Springs CO.

That afternoon, I went to Beth's house to be there when the kids got off the school bus. She had a doctor's appointment that all of us were excited about.

Shortly after arriving home, my brother called and said that the nursing home had called and that our dad had taken a very sudden and very definite turn for the worse. I checked my messages and, sure enough, they had called me too. Mr. Right and I jumped in the car and headed over there right away. I was pretty confident that I would get my dad to respond to me because he always did. When we got there, we found him in a very deep sleep. No one said "coma" but I wonder now if it was.

They said that they had wheeled him into the dining room for lunch but that he'd fallen asleep in his wheel chair which was not real uncommon. What was uncommon, was that when they tried to wake him to eat, he wouldn't wake up. They took his blood pressure which was 70/40 and his oxygen saturation levels were real low too. They put him into bed and administered small doses of morphine to "ease his journey" and called the family. It was shocking to see him like that but they told us he had 24 to 48 hours and we figured a lot could happen in that time - maybe even something good. But then my brother, my sister, and I made a decision to get dinner and while we were gone, Dad left too. He was 95 and I've heard lots of people say that death can't be unexpected when someone is that old, but his was.

Friday evening I stopped in to see him and he was wonderful. He smiled, joked, responded in every way and when I left I felt happy and optimistic that he was getting stronger and better. So to me, I had lots more time to spend with him and lots of time to be a better daughter to him. His death was, to me, unexpected. Shocking. And mostly just so disappointing. I just thought, maybe unrealistically, that we had more time.

My dad was a good man and a good father to me for 63 years. I'll always miss him just like I'll always miss my mom. And I'll always wish I would have and feel like I could have done more. Is there ever 'enough' when it comes to repaying our parents for all they've done for us? Probably not. But I know that in their eyes we weren't lacking. In their eyes we were their children and that's all they asked from us. I hope.

Now back to that little giveaway. I apologize for taking so long to get my act together. For several days, we had 20 people living in our house and the logistics of that are enormous especially when it's unexpected and unplanned for. That's my excuse. One night though, one of my daughters cut out the names that I had written and put them in a bowl. Another daughter drew a name and the winner was Kiki.

So Kiki, I hope you'll visit my site soon to check for the winner and when you do that you'll send me your email address so I can get all the information I need to get your prizes to you. If I haven't been able to contact you within 10 days, I'll draw again from the same pool of names to pick another winner. Bear with me, folks, I'll get this right yet.