My Year in Bloom by Jeanine Renzoni My year in flowers starts with violas or daffodils. I’m not sure why one or the other wins the race to bloom first. … Continue reading In Bloom – enjoying outdoors
My gardening rules include all flowers need to have scent to be included here. The thing about this rule is it makes it a butterfly and hummingbird garden too. One of my favorites for outside scent is the stargazer lily, this far north it just started blooming this week.
Also great is phlox
and bee balm.
The cone flowers are just starting to open and the hydrangea are also beginning.
Some of the leaves are starting to turn dark burgundy red, especially on maples in boggy areas. Grasshoppers are thick in the tall grass, jumping in clicking waves. The milkweeds are blooming emitting their lovely scent, I feel bad about weed-wacking them out of the pastures. I watch for monarchs, but haven’t seen hardly any. Bull thistles are over 6 feet tall, spiked leaves and spiked purple blooms, I’m cutting them down like small trees, jumping back to avoid impalement. The horses like to gingerly eat the thistle blooms, feeling with their lips and then pulling their lips out-of-the-way to bite just the purple flower head off.
I heard a cardinal singing a spring song this morning (weird) then flying an odd pattern as if he didn’t know where he was going. There is a bat hanging on the outside of one of the east side of the house shutters (that’s weird too), he’s still there now four hours later, I think he’s sick or maybe dead? The deer are eating our Brussels sprout plants and bean plants in the garden much to my husband’s irritation and despite organic repellents. This year there are lots of small toads and frogs in the yard, probably because we have had such steady rain (no periods of drought). The last time I remember seeing as many was back in the 80s.
The pines I planted this spring are 50/50, up ’til this year I had a hundred percent survival rate on transplanted pine trees (I don’t count the ones the horses ate). Sham always likes the taste of pine needles.
These flowers that are opening now are the last of my blooms and will carry out the season … the northern summer is almost over.
Hurry, hurry, hurry and gather flowers while you may….
Back in September, on a very early Monday morning I decided to go the emergency room for possible heart problems. I felt it was probably just a waste of a fairly large chunk of money ($1424 for labs, EKG, physician, x-ray), but if it wasn’t, I didn’t want to kill myself, I should just go in and be evaluated. That’s how I think now at this age (is this likely to kill me?).
I don’t know if you know the reasons women are supposed to go in, but they are pretty sketchy; dizziness, nausea, upper-back pain, anxiousness, prolonged palpitations, sweaty-ness and then the same things that men have; chest pain …. Well I’d had dizziness (but I have inner ear vertigo sometimes in the fall/winter), some nausea (but when I have vertigo I get a little sick to my stomach), sweat (yippee, I’m still in the zone of hot flashes), prolonged heart palpitations (this is the one that decided me) and anxiousness (well the prolonged palpitations plus the lack of sureness about the other symptoms did make me anxious enough to decide to go to the hospital).
So I drove in (yes, I know experts say call an ambulance, but really I couldn’t tolerate the excitement). And I spent several hours getting tested.
Surprised, nope, absolutely nothing showed up as abnormal in the tests. But, I know what I was experiencing wasn’t normal for me. The ER doctor offered me a prescription for beta-blockers, that didn’t make sense to me as I didn’t have high blood pressure (110/74) and my resting pulse is 60 to 66 so I declined. They also gave me a handout for lifestyle changes and wanted me to contact my regular physician for a visit. Yah, yah, yes, agree, let me leave.
Things that seem to drive heart arrythmia or electrical problems (palpitations or fibrillation=rate 110-350) are: smoking, caffeine, alcohol, salt, stress, inadequate sleep, inflammation (overweight, inflammatory foods – like Omega 6 fats, sugar, corn-fed meats), inadequate or excessive exercise, hyper-thyroid, anemias (iron and/or B12) and chocolate and/or other heart issues.
I am overweight (as is most of America) and I like some coffee and chocolate and some salty things and my exercise plan had waned a bit (I’d had a series of injuries – ankle, knee, foot and these made it easy to skip workouts), I eat many healthy but goiter-causing hypothyroid, but not hyperthyroid, foods (collards, broccoli) and am mostly vegetarian (so B12 [anemia] possible low normal). My part-time job as a proofreader is stressful because of the perfection rush, and having hot flashes and palpitations interferes with good sleep (no kidding).
So I increased exercise walking daily, joined a two times a week weight lifting course offered by UW-Extension called Strong Women – which was great but made some muscles in my chest sore (?chest pain anyone), went decaffeinated (or at least tried to), reduced salt from an already low salt diet, gave up most of my chocolate, added Brazil nuts for selenium (protection for my thyroid) and still had palpitations that woke me up, often nightly. But they were a lot less than what I’d had for the several days before I went to the ER.
This went on for several months, as did the reminder calls from the local hospital/clinic that I was supposed to make an appointment with my provider. Yes, yes, I have a HSA with high deductible health insurance and so I dislike spending my healthcare dollars on useless (?) visits. Mostly palpitations are benign. Plus, over and over again lifestyle changes trump medication as far as real effectiveness in resolving a problem instead of just treating symptoms and giving you side-effects (I know there are exceptions; antibiotics, vaccines, and several others).
So I endeavored to follow a much more focused healthy lifestyle. The extremely cold weather and snow didn’t help much, but I persisted.
Well, things were going along (I have a whole bunch of decaff/herbal teas that I ended up not being able to tolerate – need some?) until I had a whole rash of palpitations despite my continued care for following a healthy program, so I finally scheduled a provider visit, which happened a week later when there were no symptoms.
More tests (labs were normal – below 200 cholesterol, good HDL, LDL) I agreed to wearing an EKG monitor for two weeks. More sleep disruption with box and cords hanging off me. Push the button and it records whatever is happening to your heart. Get three recordings and dial-up the nurses to send them (usually at 3:45 am) and then they ask you “What were you doing when you made the recordings? (sleeping) Any symptoms? (fast, hard heartbeats) How are you feeling now? (fine) We received the recordings, there is no reason to contact your doctor.”
My most difficult thing was avoiding caffeine as decaffeinated isn’t really caffeine-free and I also seem to react to artificial/natural flavors so lots of things were eliminated. Lots of things, like stuff with natural vanilla flavor isn’t really vanilla, nor is anything that says natural _____whatever flavor. If the flavor was real it would just say the ingredient vanilla or honey or ginger on the label. I liked the taste of Celestial Seasonings herbal vanilla honey chamomile, but couldn’t tolerate it because of the “natural honey and vanilla flavoring.”
Recently studies confirmed that avoiding artificial flavors/colors (note ‘natural flavor’ is not real) is more effective than medication in helping ADD and since I felt jittery and felt better if I was moving (couldn’t get comfortable sitting/lying still) I figured maybe I was reacting just like the kids did. This was mid-monitoring when over and over there was nothing to report on my heart rhythm per the called up nurse.
Eliminating artificial and ‘natural ___ flavoring’ removes a whole lot of processed foods – almost all of them. Just take a look at the labels. Even Real Mayonnaise has ‘natural flavoring’ added. Eh, I like to cook, just get the real item basics and skip the rest. Seems difficult? Not so much, at least not at home.
Beverages are a problem: There’s water and milk, but I don’t like milk. Juices are made from cooked down concentrate re-colored naturally and re-flavored naturally to make them look and taste good again – the whole fruit is better anyway. There’s plain soy, rice and almond milk, which are OK in small quantities.
The teas I like and are really caffeine free and only contain real mint and chamomile are Bigelow herbal mint and herbal chamomile. I put 12 cups of water in the coffee pot, put three tea bags (2 camomile and one mint) and brew it and leave it out. Hot I add some honey, but room temp I drink it plain. My homegrown mint, which I only dried a small amount of because I didn’t have a use for it then, is much more flavorful and better than the bagged tea mint. This year, now that I know I’ll want it, I’ll dry much more. That goes for all my herbs.
Then salt … well salt is added to lots of things in amounts that are surprising – bagels with over 300 mg per each, tortillas with 310 mg each and then all the pork and chicken with added salt (broth for flavor). I don’t each much meat, but now really not.
Calcium supplements have also been connected with heart rhythm problems esp. anything over 500 mg., remember high school chemistry? Ca++, sodium, potassium? Electrolytes that need to be balanced for proper muscle function? The heart is a muscle.
So I did all the things you do to avoid heart burn/acid stomach without using calcium (Tums or other product); raised the mattress at the head of the bed, quit eating by 8pm, avoided overeating even really good stuff – stopping when almost satisfied, used plain almonds, apple, lemon water as tools to settle acid excess. I put a little baggy of almonds in my bed drawer, in my jacket pocket and a plastic container of them in the car so I’d have them if I needed them. They work and eating the right amount of food at meals to keep me feeling good is a great side-effect.
I recorded and recorded and wrote my patient diary about my palpitations. I had three different times when my ‘palpitations’ or whatever were really worrisome to me and each time the Life Watch nurse said the electrodes weren’t connected (but I think they were – maybe). The second time this happened into ER I went, with the same result as the first time. Perfectly normal EKG, nice blood pressure, great pulse and more detailed handouts on palpitations, fibrillation and lifestyle interventions. I liked this ER doctor very well, she was reassuring and helpful with information – adding more details (I like details because then I can make better decisions). She said that if she had a heart problem she’d rather it be electrical than clogged. Well OK then.
The third time I awoke wondering ? V-tach?, hit the button to record, dialed in the recording, they said bad connection, I had new electrodes on, hmm I decided, whatever, since I felt fine and never really had any other symptoms and they, obviously weren’t able to tell me anything. I peeled the electrodes off and put the monitor in the mailer ($1100 worth of monitoring). The result – normal.
So whatever is going on is not bad enough to find by the current system. There are multiple studies that show that too much contact with the healthcare system is bad for your health. As a previous member of the system, I know it’s true – the third (maybe second) biggest cause of mortality and morbidity is iatrogenic (caused by the system – medications, infections or other interventions).
Now – and these are not for you because you may be having a heart attack, but knowing what I know, I add to the list of warning signs 5-minutes of nausea (not caused by vertigo or bad cooking), same for dizziness, sweat that doesn’t build like a hot flash does or become cold just because it’s 40 below windchill out, chest pain sitting in a chair not caused by too many tree-hugger moves weight lifting, palpitations that don’t go away as soon as you get in the car or see a doctor.
I don’t want whatever is going on to progress, and keeping on doing the same things gets the same results. So I tried to quit my stressful part-time job (I’d learned what I could from it – it was a good run, yah, yah so I’m still helping them) the stress from it was no longer worth the minor paycheck. I added vit B12 since I’m even more vegetarian than before. I added some Vinyasa yoga practice, which I am liking immensely, other than certain body areas that don’t particularly want flexibility. I quit recording or timing any palpitations (except for unusual quantities of them, which occur on a 4-week cycle, hmm) I felt I had given them enough attention so I covered the night-light clock and if I wake up with palpitations I go right to yoga breathing which resolves them if they haven’t already resolved.
The other day when I declined a friendly offer of wine (alcohol) and reminded my friends I was a no alcohol, no caffeine. low salt. no chocolate (because you do need others help to make it so – unless you become a hermit).
Asked by a new acquaintance what I did for fun. Do you think she was dissing me? I think she was, but I pretended it was a real question and I started to list, but a different friend did it for me – play guitar, artwork, play with dogs, horses, sing … OK so maybe my embrace of healthful practices is irritating. (I worked with a big guy who was a serious weightlifter, now he was irritating. Nothing was important enough to interfere with his eating and weight lifting schedule. He had to eat at certain times, certain foods and when we went to a restaurant young teen boys would follow him and he’d ignore them. It was funny and irritating.)
And that’s the thing. It isn’t about the restrictions, it’s about finding things I like to have instead and making those available and easy. It’s about being healthier and following my body’s feedback. It told me I needed to change what I was doing. I’m stronger, resolved some things I didn’t know could be fixed and feel better than I did, but I also feel less invulnerable and that’s a good thing, because I can make changes now and not have to hit some sort of ‘bottom, bad zone’ and need major healthcare intervention before doing them.
I’ve gotten rid of things that weren’t good for me, tried blends of real things, planned more to do in my garden and read more labels than I have in years. I learned a bunch just because I needed to. I also wondered if some major change happened in the food industry and I’m just one of the canaries.
Grocery shopping is definitely faster since there are so few reasons to go into any aisles, convenience stores are not really convenient – although KwikTrip has real bananas, onions, potatoes, fruit, herbal tea… it’s my gas station of choice. M & M’s have gone by the roadside. And yah, the Wisconsin brewery tour is not on my list of ‘gotta do it.’
I hope my litany of stuff is helpful to you if you’re dealing with any of the same worries. All the best to you, be well.
Related articles: www.webmd.com/heart-disease/rm-quiz-heart-disease-myths
Thirty below forecast for Monday night and things are being cancelled. It’s too cold to take the chance on travel, especially when it’s optional. Things break, break down, freeze up and generally don’t work as well in this kind of weather.
My freeze-free hydrant froze up, so I’m sledding in the water to the horses. Which, while a hassle, is not a very hard workout since it’s all downhill from the house freeze-free faucet. I have a large black packing sled that can carry two really big, clean muck buckets two-thirds full (fill them deeper and water sloshes all over – sloshing not good in cold weather).
The snow is over knee-deep so I used my snowshoes to start packing in a straight trail (no need to add any extra distance pulling the loaded sled).
The horses are going through hay at a fast rate and they need plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Basically they look good and seem happy, this next polar blast though makes me worry about the stress on the older ones.
In our house, heated by cost ever-rising (went up $1.39 per gallon last week) and more unavailable propane (200 gallon rationing), we have closed off rooms, added insulation over the sliding door and turned down the heat. A local propane distributor has suggested that electric heat may be the best option, however if everyone using propane has to go to electric…
It snowed today again and the wind was very blustery. The snow piles look like the old-time photos – very tall. At least the snow is insulating my perennials. The indoor forced bulbs are torquing out.
I do remember some other very cold winters with stretches of super cold, but I’m starting to wish for spring. Or maybe a trip south.
“It’s hot out, it can’t be the last weekend of summer,” she wailed inside her head as she viewed the ripe tomatoes, picked up the apples on the ground, pulled some of the weeds with fluffy seed heads and the grass hoppers scattered in waves at every step.
“But I didn’t even really swim in the lake yet. I didn’t go horse camping. I didn’t ride bike enough. My legs are white!,” luckily she still kept it as only internal talk.
So what did you do this summer? I seem to have missed out on many of the usual things I would have expected to have done.
It stayed cold forever and then it rained like we were in monsoon territory through June. I took on the dog project for 4H and that took a huge chunk of my free time because of all the preparation: Making agility equipment, buying agility equipment, and setting up the training, hauling stuff and then teaching agility, obedience and showmanship to 4-Hers. I’m pretty good with PVC construction as a result. I also started training a couple of horses. So that was May, June and July.
So now it’s August. It got real cool the first week of August and of course that was vacation time when swimming would have been part of the agenda. It seems like the only really new thing I did this month happened yesterday. I tried out a new mushroom – commonly called meadow mushroom.
I’m very hesitant about picking wild mushrooms and then eating them even with an experienced mushroom hunter and then backup verification in the mushroom guide-book. But we’ve got these nice mushrooms coming up in my agility yard and they’re edible and choice according to my experienced mushroom friend and the mushroom guide-book. So far I’m not poisoned, yippee!
I’d take a picture of them and show you, but as I said mushroom identification is iff-y and I don’t want anyone to make mistakes and eat a poisonous one that looks so similar. I made the mistake of reading more pages than I should have in the guide-book and increased my paranoia about wild mushroom mistakes.
Have you ever hunted wild mushrooms? What kinds did you eat?
Maybe we’re a hobby farm. Maybe. We don’t sell our produce, but we do supply ourselves with vegetables, herbs and fruit throughout most of the year. We do concentrated gardening in raised beds from re-claimed lumber and boards from a local sawmill. The compost is from our horses and our produce waste. The place already had five dwarf apple trees when we bought it, but I’ve added pear trees, plum trees, cherry trees, an apricot (that was supposed to be hardy to zone 4 – no luck) and fruiting shrubs most purchased late season/discounted or on some sort of special to reduce the initial cost. So maybe we’re a mini-farm.
We don’t have any ducks, nor any chickens. Nor do we grow any animals to eat. Are those required? I would kind of like chickens for eggs, but the woman down the road has chickens and sells her pretty multi-toned eggs for a dollar a dozen and it only requires a walk, or drive, down Wester.
The garden and the fruit trees make enough work to think we’re farming. I thinned the apple trees, ya, ya so one isn’t quite finished and the ladder is still sitting there. But the apple harvest should be wonderful and bountiful in late August. This year is the first year the apple trees I planted have fruit.
The strawberries were done producing the first week of July. The June berries just made a few in late June. I picked the cherries; not many yet on the young trees and the birds love them. I picked the raspberries; not many yet, but next year I think they will be good. The plums aren’t ripe. The honey berry bush I planted last year looks good, but didn’t produce anything.
I’m afraid for when all my trees and bushes become mature and start really producing, eek! I have pear trees that have yet to produce, maybe next year and one plum and one apple tree that hasn’t. But I’ll have frozen and dried fruit picked in our yard for the whole winter and if I don’t get to it the wildlife will and excess apples can go to the horses. Last year, with the late frost I had few apples, not enough to dry and hardly any extra for the horses. Having eight trees on lean years might be the right number.
We’ve graduated to rotational planting in the garden, starting early usually and have given up on window sill starting of tomatoes and peppers – because ours were never as good as the purchased transplants.
The weather was not kind to seed starting this spring, we resorted to letting lambs quarters grow and harvesting that – it tastes close to spinach and is voluntary (a weed). The radishes were done a long time ago and new ones are coming up, the spinach came in and was harvested, lettuce is starting to get old and new has been planted, the mustard has bolted, the collards have been cut back as has some of the broccoli. I really like collards, they seem to do well, are very nice to freeze. It’s fun to have something that nutritious.
Beans, green beans always too many of those since they aren’t my favorite although I do like them fresh occasionally. Carrots are still pretty spindly, beets not ready except for tops, and tomatoes – ate one yesterday. And squash, yellow summer squash now, the rest for later. Last year were potatoes and corn, this year neither. The voles loved the potatoes and the corn took too much water and too much space even with an under-planting of squash.
My herb beds have been overtaken by chive plants. I suppose I must whack them back, but they’re daunting. Chives don’t freeze well and dehydrated look good, but not much flavor- great flowers and nice fresh in salads. And borage, I planted seven years ago, keeps re-seeding itself. I do like the flowers and so do the pollinators. Borage is edible, but it’s kind of prickly, furry. The flowers are nice in salad. I’ve dried bunches of thyme. I even got to it before it flowered this year. The dill is ready to dry. Cilantro has been best frozen, as is basil. The garlic is mostly ready to pull and dry. I planted a new lavender plant and some more chocolate mint as my old plants that had done so well, didn’t do so well over this last winter.
Maybe the plants have taken over. When the plants schedule all your time, is that a hobby?
And flowers. This year the lilies I planted from bulbits two or three years ago (those round seeds on the stem of some lilies) actually made it to bloom. Astonishing that it worked.
I’ll never catch back up after my 10 days of vacation. There are too many do-it-now things to do. And the weather, what’s with the weather?
The grass and weeds are overtaking my landscaping, but I only have time to mow.
My horses need thorough brushing out, but I only have time to put up temporary pasture for grazing.
My desk needs a thorough sorting, but I only have time to write outlines and prep for the next classes.
My closet needs thinning, but I only have time to wash, dry and fold clothes.
The windows need washing, but I only have time to dust and vacuum.
And I need to write, but all I can think of is how many things need doing…which tomorrow I need to think about again.
Time passes, time passes…things get done and some things don’t get done.
Twenty days later … normal.
Looking back at this, vacation seems so long ago now and all the flurry is settled out. Although there are still a few weeds, now so many things are blooming it doesn’t seem to matter as much.
I got the wind knots out of equine manes, they scrubbed their own extra fur off rolling and rubbing – they are summer shiny and sleek.
The desk is still not de-cluttered. Part of the windows have been washed. And writing? I’ve put some time writing on my dog training blog, but this is the first I’ve gotten back to my life on Wester Ave…oops.
But the weather…what is with the weather?
Here in the North, we had just started to believe spring was finally taking hold after a long, white season. The last of the huge snow piles are melted, the ice is out on many of the lakes, the grass is making a gargantuan attempt to rise up green in the pasture, daylight is way longer and the robins are crazily serenading into the twilight. Gardening seemed imminent.
But not today. Today the garden hose looks out-of-place. Today the robins are softly, disappointed chirping. Today the onion sets and garden seeds seem ill-advised. And will this just melt away? Maybe, after the sleet-rain covered weekend. Bah, humbug…wait, is Xmas coming?
But the real story is, see that large more than man-sized raised bed outside.
It’s cold, overcast and windy outside today and not beautiful. Yesterday the warm-ish weather melted most of the snow. Going out the kitchen door onto the raised deck I see: The raised beds, dormant vines and detritus of last season’s garden. I finally got wisteria flowers on that vine in the forefront, of course that’s before we had … the trouble…
It’s cold out so I turned right around and went back in through the storm and regular doorway and into the warm kitchen. I’m not sure how to actually count what I see as it seems I see whole bunches of things pretty much at once and not one by one, but this caught my attention:
*******And perhaps you would think there is an easy and obvious connection, i.e. garden grows garlic and herbs which season the food for meals that need to have wine to complete – hence wine glasses.
But the real story is, see that large more than man-sized raised bed outside. More than plants have thought that looked like a good place to reside. Yes, now maybe you might begin to understand why my previously non-garlic raising husband is planning on having 1,000 garlic plants this next season, maybe even more. It’s necessary…I didn’t picture the garlic in bowls at all entryways. And the herbs, to clear the miasma, blight, the curse from the north. The little known, but well feared, vampire hoadag has been spotted in the area, moving south from the Rhinelander region. Usually winter keeps them holed up, but as I said we’ve had thaws.
Below: Hoadag prevention dog, she doesn’t think the garlic really works (we have filed her apparent disagreement). Note the intriguing, but absolutely necessary Hoadag repellent speckled nose, any other nose won’t do. And the extra protectant white heart on her forehead … critical power concentrator.
Ah, you’re wondering about the wine glasses. Really….where are you from anyway?
Oh, sorry, but if you want to be able to see a Hoadag, everyone knows you need to drink wine, beer or brandy (this is Wisconsin).
Do you think we’re ready enough or do we need 3000 garlic? Is there ever too much garlic? Maybe you agree with the speckled nose, heart marked dingo?