Mad Max and the X-factor

Monday, May 30, 2011

I don't know about you, but I have a terrible time crossing things off my "To Do" lists. I have no problem making the lists; I do it all the time (in fact I'm pretty sure that there are about 100 different lists floating around here on various scraps of paper, index cards and sticky notes), so why do I keep making new ones to misplace?? Hope springs eternal? Noooo, more like some kind of self-inflicted stupidity (ha). I am also a total victim of Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder*. Between that, running [into] Special OPS (Other Peoples shhStuff), and a series of circular projects I can't seem to get anything done. Ever. It's making me demented. Do you have trouble with this? My house looks to be decorated in what can only be described as Early American Hoarder (boxes of Epic Farms stuff and filing cabinets stuck everywhere and anywhere they'll fit). I haven't seen my dining room table since Christmas, and there was a humongous paper avalanche in my office the other day. Thankfully, I made it out alive (although I believe I did take another giant step closer to "The Deep End"). Probably a good thing we don't have small children or indoor pets; we'd never find them. It's making me crazed, and I wasn't that far off from it to begin with.
For those of you wondering what on earth a series of circular projects is, it is a group of projects that are completely co-dependent. Like human co-dependents, each one does not function particularly well on its own. Example: The shop inventory for Epic Farms on Etsy and Wysiwigs currently overwhelming *cough* occupying the guest bedroom will be moved into the old office (which is crammed full of Christmas decorations and other storage-type stuff). The storage type stuff will move to a [not yet built] monster closet on the "old" patio, which is presently the feed/tack room but will (someday before I die) become an indoor Epic Farms area. The feed and tack will move into the new feed and tack room which (of course) does not yet exist beyond the concrete floor. I am waiting (ever so impatiently) for DH to hurry up and finish the "outhouse" so we can get started on the feed and tack room. A friend doing a remodel donated the *ahem* pot-tay; concrete was mixed and put around the pipe last night. Um, no pressure honey (really), but how's it coming?? Are we close to being ready for walls? I can definitely help with that. No, we can't leave it like this even if you do think it's much better than a tree. (Um, dear? Your Redneck is showing ;o) Oh, before I forget (again), have you seen my project list? I've misplaced [definitely lost] it. Did you find it? Me neither. I can't remember what I was going to do while the concrete is drying.
Guess I'll start a new list. Oy.
We CAN cross another school year off the list though; at least for students. I have a few more days left to go, but we are almost there. Ask me if I didn't have several versions of the Hallelujah Chorus running through my head when the announcement to load buses came Friday afternoon. Sometimes I think the last week of school exists for the sole purpose of torturing all of the grownups employed by the school system. To those of you who have never experienced it, all I can tell you is it completely and utterly transcends an "Are we there yet?" scenario from a 10 hour car ride with no A/C and multiple kids who argue, whine and complain incessantly from the back seat. If the CIA went for stuff like that instead of waterboarding, there's no telling how much intel they could get. The classroom teacher and I spent some time in therapy this week via a color sheet copied for the kids (photo inset). Do any of you still like to color? I do to a point, although I'll admit I got a little tired of it after awhile. I didn't get a picture of it after I'd finished; I gave it away to the student who asked if she could please, please, pleeeeeze have it. Hmmm...I wonder if she'll take it home and put it on the refrigerator. You think? ;o)
I've been trying to spend some time with Max, our resident problem child (on the left next to Champ). We are practicing the art of standing still. For those of you who are thinking that's kind of a strange thing to practice, picture Max as a young, seriously hyperactive kid with aspirations to become a world famous boxer. As far as his pasture mates are concerned, Max has turned annoying into an art form. He is all up in your face wanting attention but ducking and dodging at 90 mph to avoid getting beaned (his barnyard buddies are apparently FAR less subtle about correction than I am). This is compounded by the fact that he is extremely excited to have my undivided attention. Unfortunately, he is also jealous and doesn't want anyone else beating his time. This means any time another horse gets near his stall he has a hissy and lunges at them after quickly trying to push me around to his other side so he can "keep" me all to himself. I'm mostly sure he's starting to think I've changed his name to "HOLD STILL TURKEY!" Little booger actually knocked my glasses off the other day before he remembered what he was supposed to be doing. *sigh* We've been working in his double stall, but could definitely use more room to maneuver. Join up time; definitely. Hopefully, we can get some kind of round pen back up early this summer and really make some progress. I should probably add that to my list; if I can find it (*rolls eyes*). Guess that means Mad Max will be attending summer school this year ;o)
Have a blessed Memorial Day (and rest of the week) everyone. Please pray for those who serve now, and many many thanks to all of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. After all, without them we might not even have the freedom to spend the day grilling out and visiting with friends and family. So thank you all!
Thanks for reading, and see y'all next week.
*Visit Joke of the Day to read an alarmingly accurate post on this particular disorder :o)

Filling holes and making poles

Sunday, May 22, 2011

 Well, DD won the graceless challenge on the outside step. She forgot all about it and went sprawling out the door the other day (unhurt and laughing like a loon). I am hopeful that I will miss my turn there, as that means I am to fall inward and I don't see that one ending quite so well. Methinks it's time for an idiot-friendly reminder; hopefully this will prevent future wipeouts (well, maybe). DD found some paint in "Handicap Blue" to put on the step (I wonder if that counts for us cranially challenged and/or oblivious folks too). Gosh I hope so. 
Actually, I managed to come up with something completely new in the graceless category. I have two over the fence saddle racks [bottom of photo inset] that have been parked next to the door for about two years now. We normally use them for cleaning the saddles outside. I, however, have found a new use for them. I learned that if you step down quickly and place your heel squarely on that little black cap, it is instantly transformed from saddle rack to bludgeon and will deliver quite the solid whomp to the back of your leg. Honestly...who DOES this stuff??? Oh wait, I do. *rolls eyes*. Concrete is still curing, so we're cleaning up around it, trying to level dirt as well as fill in all those fun little holes left by the frame supports along the outside.We have many bigger holes to fill in too, and we are trying to figure out how to get our hands on some affordable dirt (how stupid does that sound? Ha). Soooo, anybody out there digging a pool this summer??? What about a foundation? Getting rid of a hill? (hey, it was worth a try ;o)
Horses feet, like human hands [and nails] can become dry and brittle, particularly during drought conditions. It is so strange to watch all of the terrible flooding everywhere and be praying for all those folks yet praying here (rather desperately) for rain at the same time. I've been watering as much as I can manage (not our yard grass, but all of the grazing areas I can reach with the sprinkler) in an attempt to keep the grass from dying off completely. If you're a horse with dry hooves, RainMaker is fabulous for moisturizing those footies; the horses love it on their frogs, soles, yadda yadda. Kinda like a soothing massage with lotion would be for us if our hands were very dry. Lots of heavy sighs everywhere and Bella even moved forward when I'd finished her front feet and lifted her back foot in a not so subtle hint: Let's not forget these two, 'kay Mom? Sure thing chickie ;o)
Cavaletti (poles on the ground) are a great exercise for horses; they can help with carriage, balance, and gait among other things. The real deal (I have some wooden ones that were donated) are costly, not to mention quite heavy and/or unwieldy. This is when I trip over the muscle disease mess. Anyway, I've been percolating away on an inexpensive (and lots lighter) solution. After noodling around a bit with some PVC related ideas [bad pun - bahaha] I think I found a nifty AND thrifty little DIY solution. Woo! 
Skip to the next part if you're not into cavaletti, this part is about what I used to make some - I'm sharing in case anyone out there is interested. I should add, however, that you are all sworn to secrecy as to the exact whereabouts of two pieces of DH's [PVC] pipe I'd been eyeballing as I was brainstorming for a solution (he hasn't noticed they're missing yet, and doesn't read the blog so mum's the word *grin*). I used: some pilfered 1/2" PCV pipe cut to fit the noodles (free, but SSH); play sand we already had (for weight); end caps for the pipe (about .59c to keep the sand in and the noodle on); swimming pool noodles (to add color, softness and thickness for $1.88 each); and a chair to sit on and rest when I'd finished crawling around on the floor, which hurt a lot more than my feelings (sometimes your age just reaches right out and slaps you one, doesn't it?). I believe I slaved away for about 20 minutes before I finished all three. Ready? Ta-Daaaa:

Not bad, eh? I tossed two of them in the demonstration area and asked Rina to follow me over them a time or two before supper. I didn't have DD here to take a picture, so I tried to turn and get one myself as Rina walked along behind me over the posts. Of course it's a terrible shot (her head looks as big as the moon from that angle and her body's all dinky back there *giggle*) but at least you get the idea: Hooray, they worked!

The noodles aren't that big, but they worked just fine. You could probably splice two of them together on a longer piece of PVC if you wanted to. Hey; you could even cut the noodles up and use them in alternating colors to make it prettier. Hmmm...sounds like a good idea to me; I might need to add a few more to my collection *laugh*. 

Last, but never least, we have new volunteers (two and a quarter to be exact). I'm very excited to have Krystal helping us (she'd be the partial person on the left ;o) She's not only become a great friend, she's interested in the horses and happy to spend a chunk of her summer stamping and sorting for us with some outdoor manual labor thrown in for good measure (and what more could you ask for in a pal??) Jack has aspirations for the tractor - he thinks stamps and stuff are for girls and is holding out for some manly machinery. He was all eyes and happy feet bouncing enthusiastically up and down while watching DH run Tilly in preparation for the patio. Until I snapped his picture, that is. Geez, first its grownups, now it's a baby looking at me like I'm loopy (guess it shows *grin* ;o). I'm thinking a couple of growth spurts and a few more years and he'll be good to go; what do you think?
Our other new volunteer is Emily, and she will be spearheading the BellaButton fundraiser for us. Hopefully, it will be a rousing success ('cause I sure don't want to have made all those buttons for no apparent reason ;o) We will be splitting the proceeds from the buttons with the Twilight Pageant. I'm not normally into the whole pageant thing, but the Twilight Pageant raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (and for obvious reasons, I am into cancer causes ;o) You know, maybe we'd better keep this whole blog post hush-hush now that I think about it (I swiped Bella's tiara for Emily to use in the picture since Bella's wearing it on the button photo - SO DON'T TELL BELLA). Man, I'm turning into a regular kleptomaniac *grin*. Below is a photo of what the finished buttons look like; sorry about the copyright thing plastered across the picture, but I'm sure you all are aware how quick people are to snatch up stuff like this and use it themselves without a care in the world (or a penny for our pockets). This is what Ann was helping us with:

Guess that's it for now; got kind of long...sorry. Have an awesome week everyone!

Merry? Ha. In the scary month of May...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Depending on your profession, this month may (ha, couldn't resist) or may not be a really hectic one. To be honest, the older I get the crazier all the months seem to become; do yours? May is when educational employees spend the majority of their time peeling children off the ceiling and wearing out their knees over same (lotta prayer going on there ;o) For those of you who think it "must be nice" to have your summers off, I will say that I can remember having that very same covetous thought. Prior to the diagnosis of DD's hearing loss and my career change, I was a *cough* civilian. I can remember thinking how very lucky teachers were to have all that wonderful time off. Well ahahaha, now I get it (boy do I).  People in the educational field often question their own sanity (present company included) at least twelve times a day. Look where I was with my student this week [photo inset]. Now picture a gymnasium full of fifth graders all learning to shoot a bow and arrow. Yep, gotta be a real nut case to do this job. Summer breaks. Are you kidding? We need all that off time to fit in all those therapy sessions with our shrinks...
Not only is this the last month of school, but it is also time for my very last oncology appointment (I hope). This July, I will be five years out from my cancer. I think that the first and the last appointments have to be the scariest. The first simply because you cannot get your brain around the fact that YOU actually have cancer. The excellent health you thought you had has poofed and you find yourself suddenly facing multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and all kinds of other horrible and heinous things that you must do if you want to live for any length of time. Wondering why I'd worry about the last? Because I am almost there; so close to the big anniversary it's scary. There's also the happy thought that since I was "young" (40), the chances of a recurrence are much higher than if I had been 60 or 70. Rather like giving up your security blanket, I guess (although I'm sure Shadow would let me borrow his ;o)
The further out you get from the initial diagnosis without a recurrence [and the first five years are the diciest] the better your long-term chances of survival. That is provided something else doesn't get you first. The oft-touted percentage of survivors in the high 90s sounds awesome, except that it's only good for five years AND only counts those patients whose death was direct result of their cancer. In other words, if you died during reconstructive surgery, got pneumonia or had a heart attack because of the damage to your system from the chemo, or died at five years and one week, it doesn't count (can you say majorly manipulated statistics?? *rolls eyes*).  I can't help but remember that Elizabeth Edwards [whose husband is a PUTZ] was originally diagnosed with her cancer in 2004 which returned with a vengeance in 2009 just shy of that five year anniversary. I'm praying hard that God will not ask me to walk that particular path again but His will not mine, right? Between the residual fallout from the medications like arthritis, a defective Vegas nerve (digestion), heart blips, etc. and the ongoing aftermath from the muscle disease, plus Fibromyalgia and Raynauds Phenomenon, I'd really like to think I have the medical bases pretty well covered, don't you think? Yeesh ;o)
Things aren't always what they seem, as I'm sure you already know. With that in mind, [and a bit of irony I found funny] I just had to add this little clip I shot of the Girls while we were working on the patio roof. There's nothing so peaceful as a herd of horses grazing on a nice sunny day. A gentle breeze upon the air, tails swishing lazily to and fro...

Appearances Can Be Deceiving from Jen on Vimeo.
Temperatures included, we are definitely getting warmer around here. The almost patio still gets a cheesy grin each time I walk out the door (last post). It will be curing for the next couple of weeks before we can give it a nice rustic finish (and I'm SO ready *bounce*bounce*bounce*)
Before I forget, thanks again to Ann of Anns Snap Edit Scrap, not only for accepting the request to be Epic Farms' very own Digital Diva (didn't know it came with a title, did you girl? *grin*), but also for her help with our fundraiser and mentioning us today on her beautimous blog. We would also like to say thank you to Duke for letting us borrow his mom's creative genius from time to time, so -
Many, many thanks to you both!!
Well, I'm sure that's more than enough of me for another week. Hope yours is wonderfully blessed (even though sometimes those blessings come disguised as character building lessons ;o) Take care!

This eventuality is now a reality - Hooray!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It has definitely been a character building week, have you ever had one of those? Betcha have. The classroom teacher was out Thursday and Friday which meant two things: substitute and HEADACHE (ugh). Things were really looking brighter though, by the time I arrived home Friday afternoon. Why? Because we finally (finally, Finally, FINALLY! *and insert off-key aria of LAAAAA right about here*) have concrete, and wonders never cease. Ha. I would offer bets on whether or not Jen crashes and burns either going out or coming in with that step [photo inset] however, I'm not into gambling and that is what's known as a sucker bet anyway (it's definitely not if, it's when and will there be a trip to the ER?). 
There's also the possibility that DD and I split the difference with one wipe out each; you just never know when both of us were born without the Grace Gene *grin*. We're counting on DH to take care of things topside (he's 6'1" without his boots). Lifting the door may take a little bit more doing than originally thought, though, as they concreted the threshold... Ooops. 
The green uprights [photo below] were for the screen on our old patio long since converted to a tack and feed room (kinda messy in there *wince*). Actually, we were halfway finished with it when we got the horses so I never even painted the rest of the ceiling, just slapped some paneling up on the walls. Guess I'm going to have to add that to my project list now, as this will become an indoor Epic Farms area. Room? Office? Whatever ;o)

We did, however, encounter one large and one small problem. The large problem was that there was not enough dirt to build up one end to the height they needed (just one of those things that wasn't discernible until they started working). They ended up using considerably more concrete than originally planned; that's for sure. Our house is on a downward slope, so the patio had to be up high enough to keep the water from running into the house if we have heavy rains (that would be bad ;o) and also allow enough height to ensure patio sloping for water runoff (basically into the hill). Thankfully, DH was there to make that decision. That sure is an awful lot of concrete though (yikes). So much for the money we had set aside to do the rest of it right away. POOF! History. Toast. Gone. *sniffle*.
The small problem - thankfully - only affected the bottom part of the wheelchair ramp, although it took some doing to correct as the concrete had already begun to set. Seems the concrete truck (or the workers) knocked down our little "no dogs allowed" fence, and our neighbor's ankle biter popped over to investigate. Naughty girl!
Now we just have to let it cure for a minimum of 28 days before we can stain it. Oh goody, more waiting. So what do you think? Turned out pretty well, didn't it? The area that juts off on the right way in the back will be the tack and feed room. (and Boo-Yeah to that! ;o) It's longer than it appears in the photo. The patio itself is 16' by 40' not including the feed room. Sure doesn't look that big in the photo though, does it? The pipes sticking up on the right in the foreground will be a bathroom.  
You know, I wonder if I took my hairdryer on the high heat setting and...well, never mind. Guess I'll just wait. *tapping foot*. Is it ready yet? No. How about now? No. Ready? Not yet. Okay. Tap-Tap-Tap-Tap...*heavy sigh*...Tap-Tap-Tap. What about if I...
Have a wonderful and blessed week everyone!


Sometimes I am easily confused...Are you?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Now I'm not the brightest bulb on the porch (a fact I've readily admitted on more than one occasion) but these days I feel like I'm spending inordinate amounts of time just scratching my head in puzzlement. Do you ever feel that way? Friday morning, I received an email from a local scrapbook store inviting me to a "Midnight Craft n' Crop" at 10:00a.m. (and silly me, as I always thought that was mid morning). Apparently I don't have the whole concept of time mastered nearly as well as I thought I did. 
I made the simple dessert in the above photo last Sunday for dinner at my parent's house (it's sinfully delicious and very easy to make, by the way, by layering ice cream sandwiches, cool whip, and chocolate syrup as many times as you feel like it...yum! ;o) Anyway, I found myself pondering the label on the syrup bottle:
Is anyone besides me confused by the phrase, "Genuine Chocolate Flavor"? As opposed to what? Fake chocolate flavor? How can you fake a flavor? Wouldn't that be some kind of oxymoron? I dunno, maybe I'm just losing it...if I ever had it in the first place, that is).
Of course when I got to my parent's house, I realized I wasn't the only one who was sometimes confused. My Dad expressed similar sentiments over the reasoning skills (or maybe it's just reading skills) of a local home improvement store's employees following a delivery of roofing materials. Duuuuudes, seriously?
On another note, I guess I won't be doing any gardening for awhile (we are, of course, pretending I had big plans to do so soon - Ha - not). I walked out the door the other day to find it occupied by four very hungry little birdies peeping and cheeping away. I believe they are Wrens. Can you see the dried grass just barely poking out from underneath my hand rake and pruning loppers? Although I have to admit I don't appreciate the bird poop in the garage, I just haven't got the heart to disturb them, so I decided to try to take pictures of them every day (or as often as I can remember to ;o) It's fairly difficult to get good photos, as it's dark underneath there and the zoom is having trouble focusing. I managed to get this one, which I thought turned out rather well (another happy accident!)

I am absolutely delighted to announce the addition of two more victims [so sorry] er, volunteers at Epic Farms. The first is Ann from over at Scrap, Edit, Snap. This photo is of Duke, her Westie, and the apple of her eye - isn't he cute? (I'm sure he's probably looking over her shoulder as she works; he keeps a pretty watchful eye on things over there). Ann has graciously agreed to loan us her assistance with any digital dilemmas we may be facing: she has some bodacious skills with Photoshop :o) She's what I've dubbed a virtual volunteer, as she lives hundreds of miles away. I have to tell you, though, her help is extremely important to us no matter where she is geographically. In fact, she is this very minute helping us with a supersecret fund raising idea. Thank you Ann!
The next is slightly shorter and definitely closer. Her name is Abby and she came out and worked for a few hours Saturday morning helping us get the meeting area ready for the concrete man (who is coming next week - Woo!)
To be honest, the "before" photo is probably closer to a "during" photo (but who says that?) The Jasmines - Confederate and Asian - were running completely amok and the back side of the house had almost disappeared under some serious jungle growth. Word to the wise: should you ever decide to plant a species of Jasmine, figure on some major excavating equipment should you ever have the need to remove it. Even Tilly couldn't get it all out (OY!).
Of course all work and no play makes volunteers just run away, sooooo....
We played around with the horses a bit (and maybe got just a little silly in the process ;o) Thank you for your help Abby!
 Have a wonderful week everyone, and don't forget to have some FUN!

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