Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cole's Fight

For over a month, Cole has been different,

 not off-feed or lethargic, but there's been something bugging him and I couldn't put my finger on it.  Until Thursday night.  He was getting a massage, when I felt a mass the size and firmness of a hard boiled egg, up inside his thigh muscle.  Pressure on it was more painful to him than a regular muscle knot.  I started to worry and worry. To alleviate my concern, I surfed the web for info.  Not conducive to sleep...  I stayed up all night researching, reading blogs on dogs undergoing radiation therapy.  Ask me about mitotic indices and the use of vinblastine as a chemo drug.  
First thing on Friday morning, I contacted Cole's physiotherapist and BFF.

  Liz told us to come to the vet school, she'd find a way to get us seen ASAP. We arrived before 8.  My desire was to have answers before the long weekend.  The aspirate from the tumor was sent to pathology and I got the call that afternoon.  What I felt in my gut was confirmed:  Mast cell tumor.  I live by lists and action plans, I had winging it and limbo.  We've gotten some answers and are scheduled with the oncology department June 6th for staging.  June 7th, Team Smith will have an attack plan.

We will crush this cancer.
If it's metastasized, Cole won't be subjected to 4 months of agony to prolong his life by 7 months, we're going to party like it's 1999.
He has better health insurance than myself.  During my insomnia, I reread the policy front to back and back again.  We're totally covered... as is Garrett now too.  I added him to the policy before they black list us!!!
The mere thoughts of having him undergo yet another surgery or the loss of my little soul mate send me into fits of sobbing.  I've cried so much of the past 36 hours that I've had a wicked dehydration headache.  
He's saved my life twice now, made it possible for me to have adventures and travel to places I'd never venture to go solo, given me calm when anxiety strangles me, shown me how unyielding love makes you wealthy even if you have not a penny in your pocket.  
I've offered the gods seven years off my life to give him one more good year.  No answer yet, no smoke signals, no contract, nothing.
Fine.  We can do this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Day Off

How to properly enjoy a day off:
Work in the garden.
Eat the blackberries before the birds raid them.
Enjoy Cole's company -- like I have a choice.
Cole is the only one of the three dogs allowed in the garden because he doesn't usually step on the plants and he certainly doesn't tinkle on them.  He's either chasing grasshoppers or underfoot.  No happy medium.
Take a brake for lunch and go to my other happy place:
Spend an hour with my gym family recharging my batteries...
                 ...then go home to repeat my morning.
Last year, I rescued an iris that one of the workers here kept savagely attacking with a weed eater.  I have never seen it bloom until today.  What a thank you for her relocation.

Keep weeding with my Siamese twin.
I pity the person who tries to separate us, they'd better be packing two sets of elephant tranquilizers.  And they better be a fast draw and a good shot.  

Meanwhile, this fantastic Wednesday off is coming to a close with a sweet ending.
Whole wheat raisin bread was started this afternoon.  It's about to come out of the oven.  Perfect timing for my midnight snack.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Optimism on "E"

My gas tank of Optimism is running low.  Improper equipment use from other's becomes a drain on my time and energy.  HOURS spent fixing other people's messes makes me...
...grateful to have a furry pit crew.  Thank the heavens, all I have to do is get on my knees and bury my head on some fur to keep from going postal.  
Huge, huge tip of the hat to all John Deere forums, youtube, Garrett, Pete and Cole for helping the farm save beaucoups bucks on service and repair.  
The older tractor did respond to a new sensor, but decided to spring a coolant leak, just to challenge my Tourette's Syndrome.
I was valiant, until I had the experience, the same day, of turning a short drive to drop off scrap steal, into a four hour ordeal.
The tire on the ancient massive 1940's generator trailer blew at mile 4.  
My choices:
-sit by side of road and cry
-try to get odd tire size brought to the middle of nowhere
-drive on the rim and start a forest fire
-creep at 5 mph to keep the lopsided tire on.

Last alternative = four hours.  Downside:  I'm so exhausted, I can't sleep.  Upside:  do you realize how many wildflower blooms are bursting with intoxicating fragrances?
Second upside:  You meet people. One older guy ran after me with his cell phone to video this insane woman with her geriatric trailer.  He sent it to his brother down the road... who then came to the curb to wave and cheer me on.  (That's how slow I was going and that's how nice country folk are).
I made it to destination.  The trailer rim, protected by a sliver of rubber remnant, survived.  The trailer now has a chance at refurbishing rather than it's only other venue--- recycling yard.   Ha!  

Now, I slink back into my room and curl up into a fetal position, hoping life's adventures can skip my address for a day.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Catering Gig

I survived catering the fishing tournament.  Good preparation is essential when the closest decent grocery store is literally in the next state.
Three tables of dry goods and materials were laid out a week in advance.  Some recipes were practiced on my two favorite test subjects.
Can you guess the recipe?
Now, I know the smoothest ice cream takes patience and cooking.
Taste testers gave it an A+.
Three days, every meal cooked at my house and raced over to the event. Yes, I take my dog.  What did you think I meant when I said he was my constant companion?  You should see him with a hair net on, he's adorable.
6:30 AM breakfast run with an electric griddle still hovering at 300'F. I almost got stuck on the trails after a night of heavy rain.  Would have been cute to run through the woods carrying pancakes (ricotta orange pancakes, thank you very much), scrambled eggs and a variety of artisan sausages. 
Some recipes were old standbys, like my lasagna.
What mortal is going to turn down homemade sauce and three cheeses?
And my secret weapon...
Nanaimo bars.  All this to butter them up before I start trying out new recipes on them.  Apparently not what a true caterer would do, but when else am I going to have the chance to test all the recipes my friend, Helene, sends me from Birmingham???
A five star potato salad in the making.
The hand ground spice rub for the ribs from a local organic Georgia farm.
9 lbs gone... I stole a rib just to sample... should've bought 10 lbs!

Three days to totally immerse myself in a creative pursuit.  From 4 AM to midnight, or straight through if you're making whole wheat bread for their breakfast. 
And a second batch on the next day:
They weren't fond of my organic salads, but they annihilated the brie en croute.
Ditto for the white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulis.
Thanks again to Helene for all recipe clippings.
Tip of the hat to Anne-Marie for all the professional chef advice and the canvas bag thingy with the nozzle.
No longer will my deviled eggs look like spheres besmirched with a foreign yellow blob.
I suppose there is an easier way to make apple pie...
...instead of spending hours wooing a temperamental all butter dough.
So worth it....
Should've made two of these too!
Couldn't have made any of it without my two kitchen assistants, Miss Maytag and Frau Bosch:
8 loads a day between the two houses.  Time saved which allowed me to put forth Plan B for the tournament awards (since Plan A was aborted for fear of blowing myself up and causing a forest fire).

Marathon styrofoam carving sessions.
Can't buy this kind of crazy from the trophy shop!  4 lbs of gourmet chocolate requires a pine stump as a pedestal.

Thanks a million to my assistant farm manager, Tommy, who kept everything going...
... and made it look easy.
To Jared, who made the landscaping sparkle.
Go Farm team!  And cover me again I disappear for the next event in June!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Running: A Dog's Perpective

Why running with dogs enriches one's life:

Firstly, there's the pre-run party, formerly know as boring stretching exercises.
"Oh, let me goober sweet nothings in your ear".
"You call that effort, let me see 10 more sit-ups".
"Get up, Granny, time to get dressed and go!"
Garrett, get your own socks.
"You'll never guess where I hid your shorts".
Finally getting serious about logging some miles.
The dogs prevent me from making it all business and no play.
Why I love my dogs, they help me live in the moment!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Making cornbread can be simple, or you can stretch it out so it takes 4 months.  This is how.
Choose an heirloom variety of flint or dent corn.
Plant and wait 110 days.
Once the corn kernels have dried (Bloody Butcher in this case), load them into your handy dandy burr mill.
Grind and there you have it, pink flour.
Now, you may proceed to baking cornbread.
How's that for Slow Food?
Now, let me tell you how to get an egg.  First, you start 16 months in advance with a baby chick....