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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wood Work

It's cold and clear this morning, and near enough to February to prune the younger apple trees in the orchard near the house. I remembered the extension service instructions - trim off the branches growing up or toward the center of the trees. I also managed some offending branches on the older trees. I'd been meaning to do this for a couple of years, but never quite got around to it. The investment in good pruning shears has paid off.

Karen has been using them right along, on the few days this winter when it hasn't rained or snowed, to thin out some of the smaller pines growing on the hillside east of our driveway. The loggers only took out the larger diseased trees last spring, leaving the congestion of small straight trees and large leaning trees; some had bent nearly to the ground. Karen marked the trees for me to cut, using pink plastic surveyor's tape. Twice this week I trudged up the hill with my trusty Stihl MS 250 chain saw, a gas can, a container of bar and chain oil, and a chain file and scrench. An hour a day; even this mechanized exercise has a dramatic effect on lowering my blood sugar. Friday, I had to finish the past 15 minutes on 4 glucose tabs.

But, the thinning is going well, slowly, and the burn pile is growing larger, slowly. A couple of weeks ago I bought my 2011 burn permit. We'll be burning this spring.

Big day tomorrow; I start on my insulin pump. For the past week, I've been practicing - attaching the canula to an absorbent pad; filling an insulin cartridge with saline solution; using the Animas One-Touch Ping remote to take my blood sugar and give the pad bolus shots based on the glucose reading and carb counts. Since using the pump calculations, my sugar's been a lot more stable. I can imagine how much better it will be once Animas and Dex Com get their joint CGM/pump venture approved by the FDA.

It's supposed to snow today, but the sun's still shining. I guess Karen and I will chuck more wood on the burn pile. In the meantime, we're watching news coverage of the protests in Egypt. How's this one going to turn out?

Friday, January 21, 2011

We were going to visit our mothers in assisted living today, then go to Coeur d'Alene for lunch. Didn't happen. I had to wait for the UPS truck to deliver my new insulin pump. I'd thought UPS delivered here in the morning (and FedEx in the afternoon), but the small brown truck arrived about 2 p.m. with a big brown box. Pump, infusion sets, insulin cartridges, and a couple of instruction books. My counselor will go over all of it Tuesday.

Weather forecasters predicted rain, and they were right. It started just as I was feeding the feral cat in our woodpile, and hasn't let up. My walk to the mailbox was icy, so I wore shoe cleats. The UPS driver confirmed that the roads were terrible, and said he'd seen several road accidents. I'm glad we didn't go; there's always tomorrow. No football until Sunday.

Don't know what I'm going to do about the Packers-Bears game. The local FOX affiliate is playing chicken with DirecTV over satellite-cast payments, and has ordered DirecTV to take FOX off the air in our market. Maybe radio, maybe a sports bar.

So, we're tucked in for the day with four sleeping cats (5 if you count Kerry). I'm working my way through George R.R. Martin's "A Storm of Swords," the third book in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. The fourth and final (for now) installment, "A Feast for Crows," is on my nightstand. I'm reading these at the same time as Sandy, an old college friend, but she's a book ahead. We both find the Imp the most interesting character. Looking forward to seeing Peter Dinkladge play him in the upcoming HBO series.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to Attract Turkeys

The season just can't seem to make up its mind. After nine inches of snow piled up during a two day storm, temperatures rose into the upper 40s, with a day or two of sun, and all the snow melted, excepting a few small patches on the north side of the garage and shed. Temperatures dropped, and the water and slush turned to ice. For the first time since my wife bought them in 2005, I used slip-on shoe cleats when I walked to the mailbox. Then, more melting, and today more snow. The cats's spring fever has melted away as well, and only one - our long-haired tabby - has spent any time outside.
Even the wildlife seems confused about the seasons. During the warm patches, the wild turkey and deer stayed up in the hills, not bothering to come down for a few apples or stale bread. But, somewhere, it must be turkey season. Earlier in the year, I bought some boots over the Internet from Mack's Prairie Wings, in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Nice boots, good price. Well, today the mailman brought Mack's "Turkey Season, Spring 2011" catalog. I'd never looked through one of their catalogs, so I flipped through the pages with some amusement.
They've got a full 10 pages of wild turkey decoys and calls. I suppose that hunters need these kinds of visual aids to trick the turkeys and lure them to their demise. We've just got to walk outside and the dozens of turkeys scuffling for snacks in our lower pasture come into the driveway hoping for a handout. Now, I admit that stale bread and old Cheerios don't make for much of a diet, but they make more sense to us than paying for specialty turkey food. In their catalog, Mack's offers Vita-Rack Beard Builder to "maximize beard strength and length, enhance feathering...and increase body weight and stimulate improved reproduction and overall health." You can also get and plant Turkey Gold Chufa, for which turkeys will "scratch for hours to get at these small tubers." Good for their exercise as well, I suppose.
These are on the same page as hunters' turkey feeders. OK, now I get it. Spread the feed, fatten the turkeys, then shoot them. Seems easy enough. Of course, not as easy - or cheap - as walking out the front door and bagging a turkey as it's begging for stale Cheerios. Glad I'm not a hunter. Too easy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Baby Moose

So I'm in the kitchen making chicken cacciatore for supper, when Kerry calls from the living room, "There's a moose in our front yard. Two. Get your camera." Well, this was a big deal. Kerry grew up here from the age of seven, and had never seen a moose on the place. They'd come through the front gate (I'd have seen them if I'd looked up from my chopping and stirring), eaten from our willow trees, wandered over to our fence line, crossed the county road, and climbed the hill across the road.

I grabbed my camera, threw on the long lens, and went bounding across the front yard after them. No shot through the trees. I ran out to our driveway and into the county road where I could see them. Here came the school bus down the hill toward me. I was a bit concerned about the bus sliding on the wet snow toward me, but more concerned that it would frighten the moose farther up the hill. It didn't. Walking up the hill, I was able to get a few shots. This was the best of the bunch, of the calf.

As the actress playing Miley Cyrus on SNL would say, "It was pretty cool."