Other stuff about the farm and your's truly!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sheer dumb luck (Horse, Episode 6)

So about a year ago my youngest messages me and tells me she wants to try out for Rodeo Court.  Huh, I say?  You haven't ridden in years and you've never gone faster than a trot?  She doesn't care, she wants to try out.

So I get some names and phone numbers from horse friends and leave some messages.  None of them call back... So I google "horse lessons in Corvallis" and a list of stables pop up. Riverbottom Stables is partway down.  I like the name, so I call and leave a message and this nice lady named Lynn responds. Youngest gets lessons scheduled and starts practicing.  Fast forward, she didn't make rodeo court, she fell off the horse in the middle of tryouts and was sooooo mad at me (different story).

(Youngest decided maybe Rodeo Court wasn't for her, but she is now Oregon's Miss United States Agriculture). Here is a picture of her meeting Miss Rodeo Oregon 2016 Katie Schrock.)

Lynn had been very supportive of the youngest and we'd kept in touch via facebook.  I stopped by the stable on one of my trips up to Corvallis to meet her, got a great hug. A couple months later youngest calls, wants to buy a horse. We found a horse, Lynn was nice enough to drive 5 hours round trip to pick him up and haul him to her stable. He came home a week later and then in September went back up to her stable. Lynn picked him up when she came down to buy our mini bull.  Youngest is now cleaning stall to pay for his board. She's also meeting Oregon Rodeo Royalty (Lynn is pretty well known in horse and rodeo court circles) and learning a lot about horses by working for Riverbottom Stables and Lynn.

I discovered that I really wanted to start riding again (after youngest's horse left) so I got one for myself.  He's a good boy but needs a bit more training for me to feel successful. I asked Lynn about what style of bit I should use on him (did I mention she and her husband own a tack store next to the stable? Check out The Tack Box on facebook)  I had found a couple of the most adorable miniature horses that needed a home, but hubby wouldn't let me have them.  I told Lynn about them. She wanted them.  She messaged me and told me when she came through to pick up the mini's, she'd take my boy back up with her and work on him for me.

I rode with her to get the minis.  We chatted about lots of things... politics, rodeos, horses, football (Civil War game between Oregon State and Oregon was happening, and yes, Beavers won! Woo hoo). She dropped me off and headed back, 5-6 long hours in the pouring rain, in the dark.  Sent me a picture to let me know my boy is settled in.  Oh, and guess what... we're going into the cattle business together. LOL I'm making the deal, hopefully, and she'll go pick them up.

Professor McGonagall - awarded 5 points FOR SHEER DUMB LUCK

So why did I just tell you this story?  Because of of sheer dumb luck, I found this great lady through a google search.  I just looked at her photos on facebook and now realize that I should be totally intimidated and I'll probably never get the guts to get on my boy and plod around the arena with her there.  But I do believe that things happen for a reason.  Maybe that reason was so that my kid had a place to board her horse, maybe it was so I could sell our beef calf, or maybe, just maybe it is because I needed someone like her in my life?  No matter why, thank goodness for luck. Because Lynn Honey and Riverbottom Stables are amazing.  Also, please take a minute and check out the pages I've linked in this post.  If you would "like" them, that'd be even better.

Don't believe your child... trust your gut!

I love all of my kids... from the ex-steps (hard to explain), to the steps, from the full-blooded ones to the "extra ones".  We've always been honest with them, sometimes more honest than I ever thought I could be.  I try to be as open as possible with them in the hopes that they know they can be honest with me, without fearing repercussions. For the most part, it's worked.

However, there was a period of time in their lives where I made it a point not to believe them.  They all hit that age.  You know what age I'm talking about, you went through it yourself (or I bet at least 95% of us did).  I can't necessarily put a "year" on the age, like 12 or 13, but it starts around that time. They start distancing themselves from their parents, hanging out with their friends and thinking that we don't know anything.  We don't understand what they are going through. They don't hang out with their mom and dads and a simple family dinner feels to them like a you're dragging them to hell. They start keeping secrets, whispering and not sharing how their day went.

Now is the time for you to question everything.  Who are you going with, how long are you going to be gone. Where are you going and what are you doing?  Set rules and follow them.  Cell phones were just becoming popular when our two eldest hit this age.  We made them leave the cell phones in the kitchen when they went to bed and we kicked them off of the single computer we had at 9 pm.  The horrors!  Make them do chores before they leave, because if you don't, I can pretty much guarantee they won't do them when they get back.  If you get the feeling they are lying, tell them so.  Don't yell or argue, but tell them.  Yep, they'll get mad, especially if they are telling the truth. They'll get even madder if they are lying because they really thought they could put one past you.  Sometimes teens cry (usually girls) when they get caught, sometimes they get mad.  Sometimes you'll be wrong and they won't be lying.  Apologize, but don't stop questioning. If you've caught them lying, chances are they've lied before and gotten away with it.

Most teens will lie, some not more than once or twice, especially if you punish them when you find out. And by punishment, obviously I don't mean a spanking. Do something that will really make them feel the sting of their bad behavior.  Take away their cell phone and internet.  Take away their car.  Ground them.  They can sit in their room and read a book, that way you don't have to deal with their poor attitude when they are really pissed about being caught lying.  Hold them accountable.  If they are lying about something and get caught, they will blame someone else.  Tell them you aren't concerned with other's behaviors, it's your responsibility to be responsible for them.  If there are friends involved, tell their parents.  Being a parent is not a popularity contest. If you are good parent, your kids know that you love them and they'll respect you for it later one.

Tell your kids that if they are in a situation that makes them uncomfortable you will be happy to be the fall-guy.  They can use the "my mom would kill me" or "we have a family dinner I can't miss that night" story.  Just remember that if so and so's mom stops you in the store and says "oh, I wish that insert name here could join us for x-y-z but they said you were all busy that night" that you need to think fast enough and not say anything that might throw a wrench into their excuse.  Peer pressure today is so much worse than it used to be. I don't know why, but it seemed easier 30 some years ago to not do something to be "cool" or fit in with the other.

Things have changed.  There are pre-teens having sex, doing drugs, partying and so much more.  Is it because it's more "accepted", like swearing?  Is it because parents want to be a friend to their kids instead of an authority figure? I don't honestly know, but it makes me sad and scared for our country. Don't be afraid to piss your kids off.  And by the way, I've heard of parents being "bullied" by other kids.  Confront them and talk to their parents.  If their parents don't seem to care, at least you've let your voice be heard. And if the problem continues, call the police and turn the kids in for harassment.
I am grateful my youngest will be 21 in a few weeks and I'm through the worst of it.  But I worry about what is happening to our society as our youth are allowed to misbehave. What do you think about this topic?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

High Blood Pressure Scare

I have been on a very low dose of a high blood pressure medication for a very long time... Almost 20 years, I think.

 It has pretty much been manageable, staying in a "normal" range.  I used to miss taking a day or two until my sister's stroke 8 years ago. That was an eye opener for me and scared me enough to make sure I take it daily. A few years I was really worn out and a trip to the doctor showed I was very anemic, like the physician mentioned a blood transfusion.  I got it back up to normal with diet and an iron tablet. That doesn't necessarily mean that I have been paying attention to my health. I get my annual exam and my mammogram every year, I try to eat healthy (ha ha) and I try to exercise (double ha ha).  

About a month ago, the skin around my eyes started itching, hurting and swelling, so I got an appointment (not with my primary care provider*, but another physician). He basically said "I'm not worried about your eyes, it's your blood pressure that has me worried." He upped my medication and asked me to come back in 3 days. Since I really preferred my PCP* and I knew from my own medical background that 3 days wouldn't show much, I scheduled a follow up in a week.  At that appointment, my doctor said that they felt that the medication I have been on forever had probably quit working. She prescribed another med and a follow up in a couple of weeks.  I changed meds and promptly let the appointment leave my brain.  A couple of days after the missed appointment, I remembered it and scheduled one. That same evening I decided to actually check it at home on a borrowed cuff.  Yikes, it was a little high (187/92).  I decided it was broken.  Took hubby's pressure and his was totally normal.  Time to go to the ER.  I got there and it was 201/119.  No way, I should be dead, right?

Two hours later I was discharged after been given a "mix" of meds that brought it down enough that the ER physician felt comfortable sending me home. Two days later (today) I followed up with my PCP and got the meds adjusted a bit. I will go back in to see her in a week or so. 

The scariest part?  I have had no symptoms.  In the past when my blood pressure rose, I felt anxious and "jumpy".  I'd check and sure enough it was high.  This time, nothing... except now that I think about the last couple of months, I realized there were some things, such as sensitivity to light, some increased depression, anxiety, all that I had put down to being tired after a busy summer at work and the fall time change.  I will now focus a bit on my diet (goodbye salt and processed foods), try to get more exercise and find ways to ease my stress level.  I will also get my own machine and check it on a regular basis.  Because I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little scared.  I either want to be healthy or drop dead quick in a hurry.

So just a little friendly advice from me. Take a little time to assess what might be going on with your health and your habits.  Do you smoke? Drink maybe a little too much? Eat a lot of processed foods? Get your blood work done and set up an exam.  Listen to the doctor and make changes.  And live life with Hope, Joy and Faith!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I just can't...

go where the social media onslaught is going.  I've worn myself out thinking how I should reply to posts I see on my friends pages.  I choose not to reply.  I've posted a couple of thoughts, unfriended an author/homesteader whom I had followed, respected and supported for years.  They posted "if you voted third party, unfollow me now".  So I did, along with unfollowing her blog.  I did respond saying that if you feel this way then I will leave, I voted with my heart and my conscience.

I don't care how you voted.  I don't care about your sexual preferences, your religious beliefs, your language, your skin color, any of it.  But if someone truly believes they can tell me that I was wrong to vote the way I wanted, then I can't change that.  But I don't need to react in anger or lash out.

Today, love your family, hug your dog/cat/goat/etc, turn away from the violence, the hatred and the pain.  Say hello to your neighbor, send a card to a relative, buy the guy behind you in line a coffee. Don't let other people's poor behavior give you a reason to react.

This was given to me early in my sobriety. I think everyone in our country needs to read it right now...

Fill your life with Hope, Joy and Faith.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A secret behind the smile.

Shhhh... I have a secret.  Can you keep a secret?  Actually, most of it hasn't been a secret in a long time. But for the real secret, you need to read this whole post.

See this face? (Okay that one looks a little manic, but you get the idea, right?  I'm smiling.)
And this one?

            What about this                   one?

So most of you who are reading this probably already know the first part of my secret.  I'm a recovering alcoholic.  It's been almost 17 years ago that I had my last drink. It was my last drink only because my husband had grown wise to the fact that I had a problem.  So he didn't let me have the car keys and he left me at home. My mom had stopped keeping beer in her outside fridge because she had gotten wise to the fact that I was sneaking down and taking it at night. It was awful.  But if I'd have known that the last time I drank a beer was the last time, I'd have found a way to have more than one. A week or so later I was in a town 3 hours away from my home and my children, in a recovery center. It was a lifesaver.  I had contemplated suicide, divorce, abandoning my family because of the miserable life I was subjecting them to.  Luckily someone forced the issue and I headed to a recovery center. Two weeks there saved my life. I learned a lot in that two weeks.  I wish I could tell you that fixed everything.  It didn't.  Of course, it took years for me to get that bad and it's taken years without alcohol to make it improve. Not drinking has been the easy part.  I'm lucky.  I go into a local watering hole and hang out with friends and don't have any cravings. 

 Briefly, I'm going to give you a little history.  My father was an alcoholic. I don't know about his family history of alcoholism, but I can tell you that he was pretty hardcore. I don't remember much of the early stuff, but my mom divorced him because of his alcoholism.  Mom tells me he went to Shick Shadel's at least once. They prescribed him medication that made him pretty dang sick to his stomach if he drank while taking it. Heck, my dad wasn't a wussy, he just drank anyway and probably puked through it all. Fortunately I don't remember it.  He received I don't know how many drunk driving tickets and had a couple minor accidents, never hurting any one thank goodness. He died 27 years or so ago. We found alcohol and beer bottles all over his apartment. He'd been dead a few days before anyone realized they hadn't seen him. We weren't close, I have issues and I'm not gonna go into details. My maternal grandfather was also an alcoholic. As a little girl I remember laughing because we had to load him into the wheelbarrow more than once to get him home after a holiday dinner. Not funny now that I realize what was happening. I wish I could have talked to them both and asked questions. What were you hiding from? What caused the pain that made you become an alcoholic? Were you sad? Did you feel restless? and on and on and on... If I could ask those questions, maybe I'd have been a bit more prepared about who I am.

I have managed, over all these years, to hang on tightly to my sobriety, because honestly, there are days when I feel that being sober and not drinking are the only things I can be happy about. This is where the darkest part of the secret comes into play.  Are you ready?

Along with being a recovering alcoholic, I also suffer from depression. As in right now, today, this minute. That might not make sense to you.  Because every time you see me, I'm smiling?  I appear happy and content, right? And I don't want to brag, but I get compliments on how positive I always appear to be. Let's talk about that for a minute. It takes a lot of energy to keep the smile on some days. That positive outlook that I show you?  I don't know how I pull it off, but I'm grateful I can. Luckily, life has gotten so much better. But it took me awhile to accept that depression is simply a part of who I am. I have been on a mild anti-depressant since before I quit drinking. Of course, my physician didn't know that I was self-medicating with alcohol (which is also a mood depressor, so it made it worse).  After I quit drinking, I went off my medication, several times over the years, with very bad results.  Why did I go off of it? There were a number of different reasons. 

1. Since I was no longer drinking, I convinced myself I was better. I faked it good enough at all the counseling appointments that I had come to believe it myself. Whoops, big mistake. 

2. I had a few family members and friends who didn't believe in depression or taking medication for it. I felt like I wasn't as good as them because I had a "problem" (along with being in recovery).

3.  I'd get mad that I was "broken". After all, I had quit drinking already, so this depression stuff was BS. I'd show myself. I'd just quit the meds and be more positive.

4.  I had daughters and I didn't want them to see me as a failure. They were a huge part of my recovery but the depression had a different tone to it, in my mind. 

There are other things that would trigger my decision to quit my meds, but you get the point.  After a few years of ups and downs with my depression in early recovery, I finally got on track.  I accepted that I had depression and that this one little pill would be a part of my daily life. Life is good today, for the most part. I feel good about myself and about where I am. I worry about my children and what their life holds for them. They don't have the greatest family track record. That's why I make sure that they know what I have gone through. They know about the past (the good, bad and super ugly). I try to be honest with them, without being a downer. I want them to learn from my mistakes and not be embarrassed.

One other thing, just so you know. I learned a long time ago to talk about what is happening to me, because if I don't, I'm basically lying, both to myself and to others. I've been in the middle of a down time lately. I realized a few weeks ago that I was showing signs of depression (going to bed earlier than normal, becoming a hermit (not answering phone calls, messages or e-mails, hiding at home after work, etc), and feeling kinda worthless. I spoke to my doctor who told me she thinks I have a good handle on what I am feeling. I'll get through it (without a drink or any other self-abusive behaviors) and I'll be okay. But my point is, you never know what's going on behind that smile, so be nice to people, okay? 

And by the way, be nice to yourself. That's the most important part.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The smell of Halloween...

I walked outside this evening and was instantly transported back in time to a world of magic. When I was a little girl, fall was my favorite time of year (who am I kidding, it's still my favorite time of year).

The air smells fresh and crisp, but the underlying hint of smoke from chimneys and leaves burning give it a special flavor. The sky darkens earlier each day, the sunset glowing with reds, oranges and yellows.  Squirrels rustle through the fallen leaves, searching for the nuts that will fill their larder, keeping them through the winter. The fog settles in, bringing a heavy dew that weighs down the spider webs hanging between cornstalks, fading from summer green to autumn gold. Halloween decorations start appearing, piles of pumpkins beckon from the store-fronts and candy aisles are stocked to overflowing.   One evening my mom would make popcorn in the frying pan on the stove and pour a candy sauce over it. We'd slather our hands with margarine to try to avoid burning our hands as we began the task of trying to form popcorn balls before the candy hardened.  The wax-paper waxed balls would be piled in the largest glass Pyrex mixing bowl we had.  When we got the opportunity to eat one, the sticky, candy-covered bits of popcorn would stick to our teeth.

My birthday is a few days before Halloween. That always seemed to make Halloween be a part of my special day.  Because my friends and family know how much I love this holiday, often times my gifts have a part of Halloween in them, from candles to socks to jewelry (I still have the pumpkin earrings my daughters got me so long ago. I wear them every year.) One year there was a Halloween party at a local watering hole on my birthday. I can't tell you how much fun it was to dress up on my birthday for Halloween.

When I was a little girl, if Halloween was on a week day, we'd have a "party" in our classroom. We wore our costumes, ate homemade cupcakes topped with candy corn and plastic spiders and let the excitement build for the evening's adventures. Most costumes were homemade or if they were store bought, they had plastic masks that you couldn't see through or breath in. Mom would load us up in the car and we'd head out trick-or-treating.  We lived out of town, in the woods, with no neighborhoods within walking distance, so Mom would load us up in the car to go trick-or-treating. We always went to the trailer park down the road.  Mom would drop us off at one end (if it wasn't pouring down rain) and we'd go door to door, running from one porch to the next, taking shortcuts through yards, tripping over yard decorations that we couldn't see in the dark. If it was raining (95% of the time it was), we'd climb back into the car soaking wet, trying to dry off before the next group of houses. Every year we'd go to Mrs. Andreif's house. Walking down the center of her long, dark driveway, dodging the branches of the trees that seemed to be trying to grab at us and pull us into their lair.  We'd knock on the door, she would "ooo and ahhh" over our costumes and we'd go inside for a visit.  We'd get a popcorn ball, an apple and a super-big homemade cookie.  No worries about razor blades in those days.  We'd drive to town, not to go do more trick-or-treating, but to go to Aunt Fannie's house.  She had been our babysitter for years and years and Mom always made sure she got to see us in our costumes. We'd head home, empty our bags and check out what we got.  We'd be allowed one or two pieces of candy and the rest would go up on top of the refrigerator to be doled out a little at a time.  We'd crawl into bed, with remnants of our costume makeup still on our faces.  In my mind, it was magical.

When my kids were old enough, I started having Halloween parties.  I would decorate around the house, but if the weather was nice, we'd be outside. We'd bob for apples, dress up in costumes and play games.  One time a mom was concerned and asked me about if I did anything demonic during the parties.  I almost said "well, if you don't count the goat sacrifice, no..." I mean, these were 1-5 grade kids.  We were the parents that took all the kids' friends trick or treating because we let them go for as long as they wanted.  We walked up and down streets in all sorts of weather, the kid's bags dragging the ground from the weight of the goodies.

Now that the kids are all grown up, I watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" all by myself.  I watch Hocus Pocus almost daily through the month of October (because of course...) I do some decorating, though not as much as I used to.

I wish I could bottle the scent of fall, of Halloween, of the harvest, leaves, first rainfall and all that goes with autumn and spray it whenever I needed that feeling of comfort.

It's my time of year...

Wishing you Hope, Joy & Faith

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Friends I haven't met yet...

Friends I haven't met yet... strange thought, right?  I mean, as a kid I had pen pals, (not very many and not for very long, I wasn't good at responding.  I'd start the letter and then never finish it. Find it later and throw it away and start another, and so on.

Years later (I'm gonna be 53 in a couple weeks, you do the math) I discovered the internet.  Blogs written by people that I wanted to be like. They shared their lives through pictures and words on the internet.  They were across the country from me (or in one instance, 3 hours and I still haven't met her).  They seemed very interesting, unique and so I started "following" their blogs (not stalking, it's two different things, really). Now and then I would comment on the blogs.  I was always really excited when they responded to me... woah! Then one of them asked me to help write "blogs" about reusing things that others considered trash (see Girls Gone Trashy).  That was so fun, Marci. We need to start it back up. One of them mailed me a beautiful set of pot holders and another sent me a beautiful hand-knit scarf in my favorite colors when I had written a post about going through a rough patch emotionally.  One of them gardens, has two amazing sons, is a military wife who's husband used to live in Oregon and she likes to see pictures of Bella (my dog)

I tried to find a way to describe my relationship with these incredible women.  They weren't childhood friends I had reconnected with, they weren't people who I had met briefly and then they moved or anything similar.  Yet, through the magic of the computer and www.blogger.com, we were friends.  I connected with a few of them on other social media sites (yes, Facebook) and that added an increased bond because we were able to catch glimpses of each other's daily lives.  

I just want to say, for the record, that I know I have some good friends out there in cyberspace.  I just haven't met them yet. Maybe, someday, we'll meet across the miles.  And I'll bet we get into a lot of trouble have a lot of fun together.

Read a bit about them on their blogs or facebook business pages and see if you can figure out what drew me to connect with them. Mama Pea at a Home Grown Journal;  Michelle at Boulderneigh; the amazing parts-girl at Sasquatch Cycle Service or at A Homesteading Neophyte; Erin at Garden Now-Think Later!

Then think about what might connect or inspire you mentally, spiritually, lifestyle-wise or just for fun and browse some blogs.  You might make some friends you haven't met yet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Connecting (Horse, Episode 5)

I know I'm posting a lot right now.  That's how it is with most things.  The first few weeks are the busiest, focused on whatever it is that is trying to be accomplished.  I brought Chi home yesterday (I loaded him, towed the trailer home and even backed it up-woo hoo, first time in probably 12 years) because it wasn't working boarding him at the barns.  I didn't have time to go "visit" him, etc.

Anyhow, I put his blanket on (we are supposed to have heavy rain and the lean-to is full of hay) and turned him out with the cows.  Then we fed everyone and picked manure.  I decided to take a picture of him.  He must have heard the click of the phone, because all of a sudden he noticed me.

The photos are in order.  I looked up and he was headed my way.  That was strange because normally I have to go to him and actually follow him around as he doesn't want caught.  He had purpose in his walk and his ears were up.  His eyes were focused on me.  I kept clicking away (he was moving fast, that's why they are blurry) until he was leaning on me.  He wanted my attention.

The connection and bonding is happening.  This feels so good.