Monday, February 15, 2021

 When we look at today's weather map, we all see the same thing: the Polar Vortex that covers both Canada and most of the USA. Our sub 0 temperatures began late last week. Inside we stay cozy and warm, but we have to worry about the outside critters--rather the Head Gardener who tends to them has to problem solve the effects of such extreme cold, like the -15 degrees that held through most of the night. Even at -6 and a heat wave of 0 cause certain problems for horses. Take POP for example. At 34 while he looks robust and even acts robust,  but the cold is hard him. The HG dug out his winter blanket late last week and covered him up. Sundance suffering from arthritis is stiff and presumably, like we humans, probably has cold aggravated pain. 


Experts will say that horses are build to endure the cold, that blanketing isn't all that necessary, often overheating them, even in this extreme cold. The most important way to keep a horse warm is feed, which as the Vet told us fires up the horse's internal furnace. So Sundance can graze, but POP can't because he doesn't have good enough teeth to grind up forage, so he gets pellets that become a warm mash with hot water added. Only, yesterday his mash was freezing before he get it eaten, so late in the evening when the HG became frustrated that he couldn't keep the mash soft, I suggested using the dog's heated dog food bowl and it worked. We felt much better knowing that POP would get his full ration of food, hoping to help keep him warm.

The Barn Cat Callie is quite spoiled with a heated lamp above her dog crate home, still her water freezes, as does the pigeons' water. The hens stay toasty in their house with another heat lamp. The ponds are frozen, so we try to keep the bird bath filled and the feeders full.

Today the sun shines, giving hope that it will soon warm up. The weather app says that it reach 14 by 4 PM. Not much improvement there. There's a gradual warming trend all week that will take us above freezing. I'll be enjoying that.

Mo doesn't worry about the weather; he just sleeps through it. He's taken to sleeping in my chair by the kitchen window on the soft cushion, made even softer with a towel that I laid over the cushion to keep his hair off of it. He'll sleep here for hours then demand some food or water--but only from a dripping faucet. He's 20, so I guess he has the right to be so demanding.

  I've been keeping myself busy making greeting cards for my DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) chapter to ship to Cards for Soldiers in Michigan, an organization that takes handmade cards and ships them all over the US, but mostly to soldiers deployed overseas. I host card parties here in my basement where several DAR members will join me every few weeks to make cards. Our last party created valentines for the residents at the Cheyenne VA nursing home.

This group of cards are all occasion cards that soldiers will be able to send home to loved ones. As an avid scrapbooker, over the years I have acquired quite a stash of embellishments and papers, so I dug it out and began to create. Mostly we have done Thank You for Your Service themed cards in red, white, and blue, but this program gives us the opportunity to be more creative. It's relaxing and gives us a great sense of contribution to the men and women who serve in the military.


Your can find Cards for Soldiers on Facebook while you are at it, take a look at our Overland Trail Chapter, NSDAR on Facebook, too. 

I am going to close with a personal note, not something that I normally write about--health, but I feel that I should share my experience with my COVID-19 vaccination, more as an FYI just to let you know what you could expect and sort of as a cautionary tale.

Know that I am not making a recommendation to get the vaccine or not to, just to let you know about how I reacted to the shots. 

I took my first shot January 19.  I had just turned 74, so I fell in the age range, so my health organization UC Health of Colorado sent me an invitation (as it is being called) to accept my pre-assigned time. I could choose my location: Pueblo, a 3 hour drive; Colorado Springs, a 2 hour drive; or Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, a 20 minuted drive. You know where I chose. 

There was no line; the shot was given, and I was asked to wait 15 minutes to make sure that I did not have a server reaction. My arm got sore, just as the news reports said it would and then it hurt even more and then the 3rd day I barely knew that I had a shot.

February 9th I reported to the hospital for the second injection, expecting to walk in, get the shot, wait 15 minutes and leave. Not so.

The line began almost at the elevator when I stepped off it. It moved quickly and soon we were at the entrance to the cafeteria where the shots were being given, but this time we were directed in other direction.with a very long line, all the way down one side the hall and all the way back up the other side. It took about 20 minutes to make the journey down one side, turn at the end of the hall and moved back toward the cafeteria. 

I asked the nurse about the line and she explained that in the beginning the hospital was assigned only a few hundred; now they are doing 1600 a day from 7 AM to 7PM. Despite the wait, it is actually a very efficient system.

If you research side effects, they will vary from none to pretty sick with fever, chills, body aches, headache and last 1.5- 2 days or 48 hours, as mine did. I spent the next day in bed, not eating, drinking a bit of Gatorade throughout the day. The night was the same. The next morning I was feeling better, but couldn't taste my breakfast and went back to bed. By mid afternoon I was feeling better, but had a headache which steadily got worse through the night and then diarrhea most of the night. At this point, I'm not sure if these were side effects or maybe stress related from not taking my normal prescriptions and not eating and drinking enough, but it was a rough couple of days.

The good news: simply that my side effects were not out of the range of what the medical experts say are normal and are a sign that the body is working to build up the antibodies. 

The bad news: I gained an important insight into my age related health problems and this is the point that I want to make. As a diabetic on medication with high blood pressure, taking daily doses is important in order to keep those functions under control; however, when one gets sick those medications that require food to be taken and one's not hungry and skips those medicines, well that's where the trouble can start. The blood sugar can easily get out of wack as will the blood pressure.  I'm sharing this more as a precaution to remind even healthy folks that when you get sick, you have take care of yourself, even go to the doctor to make sure that you are doing all that you can to regain your health because once one block loosens, the rest will tumble, too. I am thinking that as an older woman, my good health can be rather frail when it becomes challenged, so this experience has made me realize that I have to be even more cognizant of taking better care of myself when I do get sick, even asking for help if I need to. 

I'll be joining Angie for Mosaic Monday--I guess I'd better whip up a mosaic.

One of our favorite spots during the summer is the Colorado State University test garden in Ft. Collins, CO where you can see the new varieties of your favor flowers, a real alphabet from A-Z of the newest beauties along with some interesting garden structures and visitors. The garden has grown to the the side of the street, with fountains and more walking paths. This day we were treated to a not so rare, but not often seen, Queen butterflies, easily mistaken as a Monarch, it can be found on the Colorado prairie, but seems very much at home in the city nibbling on the butterfly bush. 

Thanks so much for joining me today. I hope everyone keeps warm and stays well.

Monday, February 1, 2021

January to July

Not to be negative, but what a mess January has been. Usually we can at least look forward to National Western Stock Show. I took the girls last year. We had such fun.This year the big stock show where ranchers, cowboys, and cowgirls come from all around to compete and show their animals that they have groomed, fed, and trained to compete for generous awards was canceled due to the pandemic. The grand and reserve grand champion beef, sheep, and hog are auctioned off with the winner receiving the proceeds which also are shared with the organization to provide scholarships and to fund the next year's event. Last year the top steer brought t$150,000. 

Here, too, COVID cases shot up along with the controversies that seem to define the pandemic. I took my first vaccine shot with only soreness at the injection site. I get the second one February 9. The Head Gardener has not received his invitation from our health care organization. We continue to be cautious about going out. I use the Click List for my grocery store and do parking lot delivery. It is so much easier than trudging through the store where I am inclined to over spend. I go to Hobby Lobby routinely, but it's never crowed, so I feel less intimidated shopping there. And that's about it. 

January brings the end of year bookkeeping and tax prep. Ugh. 

Yesterday we loaded up Brody to take a drive out on the prairie, the Pawnee National Grasslands. This time of year a dead, brown landscape meets the pure blue sky. The land is dotted with the remnants of century old, abandoned homesteads, such as the black circle in this photo that isolates the homestead of my husband's great grandparents, Pete and Ella Rasmussen. As the story, goes they were the first to lose their homestead when the government began reposing properties for back taxes. We used to be able to drive up to the site, but the roads have  been shut down. While this road serves the windmill, only the rancher has use. Along that ridge are the remnants of teepee rings where the plains Indians camped. The area, bland as the land is, carries a rich history of the growth of the west. 

I always find myself imagining the very harsh living conditions year round; it is little wonder that farmers went broke and lost their farms. And before them the Indians who no doubt traveled their own paths, headed to the mountain hunting grounds.

While Montana is known as the Big Sky state, eastern Colorado had plenty of big sky, too. 

And then as we return back west to head home, the Rocky Mountains suddenly appear, less snow capped this year with the snow pack far before normal. We're in for a drought wrought summer.

July will be the hot month. I had to take this photo last summer as I returned from shopping one day: 100 digress at 1 PM. On this cold, dry winter morning, the warmth certainly sounds inviting.

July--red, white, and blue, the patriotic month as Lucifer corcosmia give that splash of red in the center garden that is irroestiable. 

My little super market red, white, and blue baskets lasted all summer and served the humming birds too. 

Larkspur added the splash of blue that lacks in the garden. This spot is a very hard spot to grow because the red ants eat the vegetation, but I did add a pop of orange with the poppy. She survived the winter, so hopefully she will thrive this summer with some special attention. Some one warned my about the poverty plant taking over, but that's okay. I need spot fillers. 

I bought a new DSLR camera, too. It has a photo editing feature that allows you shoot in that mode to get interested photos without editing. A fun feature to play with.

From the heat of red to the cool of white, the cosmos bloom all summer long

The Head Gardener got tired of weeding and decided to do some fishing, but first he had to customize his little pontoon and then take it for it's maiden voyage. Brody had his first introduction to water. 

He likes it.

As January leaves us, February brings the glow of love. The granddaughters spent the afternoon making things. I had some soap making supplies, so we melted the soap blocks and made pink hearts. I also shared my Valentine card making supplies and they spent the afternoon making Valentines for friends.

Little Lily brought me a bouquet of dead things that she found outside. I loved the thought and enjoyed the variety of material that she found to make a little arrangement. It will spend the rest of winter here. I pulled my Lenox tea set out of the cupboard to make a sweet little spot. 


One bright spot in January: the arrival of the season's seed catalogs. Burbee's arrives first The Head Gardener is already after me to pick my favorites as he has his overly ambitious plant list made. Why do two old people need a dozen tomato plants? 

My list will include lots of my favorites: a variety of sunflowers and an awesome collection of zinnias.

Now, it's time to get dressed, eat some breakfast, and get my day started.

Thanks for visiting. Drop by Mosaic Monday where I'll be linking my own Monday Mosaic.

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