Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Howl'oween



If chocolate dirt pie doesn't look appealing enough, how about a pound of ground beef?

Let me start by telling you that working weekends is great because it allows you to take a day off during the week. And this, my friends, is when you can make discoveries. Such as two recently deceased Angus steers on the side of the road, not far from the farm. Yes, yes, I confirmed with the sheriff's department the time of the accident. Action plan hatched and accomplice grabbed:

Grand plan is to harvest as much as we can, but pesky highway department shows up to steal our groceries.

We work fast.

Just going for tenderloins and legs now.
Dax looks on in disbelief: "You've got to be sh#@*ing me!  This is where my food comes from?"

Flynn distracts the crane operator, winning me more butchering time.

Back home, the cuts are cleaned, membranes removed and iced before grinding and vacuum sealing.

Beef Wellington in the making.

I could tell from the fat that these steer hadn't been grain fed yet.  Grass fed, local beef... isn't this what foodies look for?

Road kill never tasted this good.

Playing the Game

My health insurance provider will soon rue the day I figured out how to play the game!  I've been a slow learner.
Now that I've paid my $8000 deductible for 2017, I'm ramming through every possible test and procedure before December 31.  A reevaluation with my cardiologist that I initially didn't think I could afford, BAM!
Ditto for the ultrasound mammogram, BOOM!
More cancer screening and blood work, why certainly... KABOOM!

The absolute cherry on the icing is the upcoming cataract surgery. Who knew direct trauma or even the concussion could cause cataracts!  Problem is I can't pinpoint the exact event that caused my cataract many years ago-- too numerous.
 But, just like a ripe peach prime for the picking, ye old cataract is now insurance worthy. BADABING BADABOOM!
Revenge is a dish best served with a tiny scalpel.
This is the toric lens that will replace my defunct carbon based one:

It's more expensive than regular replacement lenses, but with the insurance bearing the brunt of the cost, I'll smile when I fork over an extra $1300 for better vision.  And this procedure won't be of average cost either... did I ever luck out.
The vision in my right eye has been wildly fluctuating for a couple years.  I blamed it on fatigue or blood pressure.  Come to find out that I have a partially dislocated lens.  My zonular fibers, responsible for contracting the lens, on the bottom half have torn, leaving my lens to wobble. 

My new surgeon, originally from China, looked down at me in disgust and said he would try his best to work with my Fwankenstein eye.  After two RK surgeries and a corneal ablation, nothing about the shape of my eye is consistent.  So sue me.
The look on his face was priceless when he asked me to recount any head trauma for the past three years. 
Drum roll please.
Starting with the most recent:
1) Being head butted my a 3000 lb ox (purely an accident, don't be a hater).
2) Falling off horses (plural)
3) Falling off the barn roof (Super Grover maneuver)
4) Knocking myself out with a metal rod causing a fractured temporal bone (no better place to spend Christmas Eve than in the emergency room).
Pick one.
Another blow to the head, the lens would've floated back into the eye causing damage to the retina and everything else.  Providence looks out for the clumsy!  Major problem averted.  Plus, I researched this particular surgeon, he's highly qualified at hemming torn zonules (awesome Scrabble word).  
Somehow, my bad luck turns into good luck.
Life is the only game in town, play to win.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Jack Frost

Our coldest night of the season is upon us.  Ahead of it, we had a brisk day.

My kind of weather.  Cold -- my favorite time of year.  By noon, it only felt 36'F.  Bliss.

I guess we're starting to feed hay almost a month earlier than last year, tonight's frost will kill back the warm season grasses.
This sudden cold snap had the three most senior horses asking for their blankies by 6 PM.  Axel and Chance are tied at 24, but Henry takes the prize at 30 years of age.

They don't make jackets big enough for Tommy.  I suppose I could piece together two King size comforters!

Doesn't he look fluffier?  They do enjoy their hot mash in the cold months.
Dax has inherited one of Cole's old puppy jackets.

He hasn't been out of it all day.
A Boonies run at dusk.

Lead on Kilroy!
Picking basil and flowers by head lantern.

And the Energizer Bunny calls it a day.
Small blessings.

Indentured Servitude

October 10, Private Smith reporting for duty.

Quickly asserting herself as head puppy babysitter.

Mom flew down from Canada to lend a hand two weeks after my surgery when two important catering gigs were scheduled back to back.

Bringing in the wedding groceries can be full workout with Dax's assistance.
Knowing me well, she even packed clothes for me to wear to the event.

How can a woman who lives and breathes fashion have a kid like me? I appease her, yet insist on wearing my running shoes.

I'm no show horse, I'm a bona fide work horse, with canine sidekicks...

And a tireless mom.  The wedding venue's kitchen isn't available to us, at the last minute, we relocate to two vacation rentals 15 minutes away.  Adapt and overcome, speed like a maniac and sweat a lot too.  We snatch victory from Murphy's jaws.  Sweet, sweet success.  Totally worth the 2 AM to 10 PM work day.
Doesn't Mother get one night off?  Hell no!  Our one night before prepping for the next event, we are stranded by the side of the road with the puppy, no less.  A neighbor comes to pick us up. Back at the farm, I throw her up on the tractor with me.  She's trying to communicate, but I'm focused on getting my F-350 off the road by dusk. 
No pictures, sorry.
I back up to chain my truck to the tractor when she points out that she's never "been towing" before.  Minor detail. Long story, my truck does NOT get vandalized on the side of the road because I never leave a man behind (or truck).  Might give mom a coronary in the process, but that's OK.
Welcome to farm life.

Whatever you need done, she's on it.

The list of recipes for the next multi-day catering gig.  Mom, don't faint, it'll be fun.  Only half the recipes are complicated, perhaps maybe three quarters. 

She knows she's in trouble when I pull out the duck fat to make pie crusts.

A simple homegrown blackberry pie--I can find ways to make it complicated!!!  

The Mexican taco night can be made more interesting if we go out to harvest cactus from the property to make a roasted cactus and corn salsa.

Fiesta!  Three types of homemade salsas, corn tortillas fresh from the taqueria, Mexican bean salad and pastel con tres leches (three milks cake, my absolute favorite dessert).

By the fourth day of frenzy in the kitchen, Mom espouses the belief that two chefs in the kitchen can ruin the roux.  Her initial relief that a simple cookie recipe was on the docket was quickly quashed when I explained two hours are needed for one batch.  "First you take the pecans locally harvested two weeks ago and roast them in the oven--  Mom, where you going???" 

They are very much worth the effort.  As are the bacon tassies made with cream cheese crusts.

Still she plugs on, not beating me with a rolling pin or frying pan.

That's a mother's love.  
On the last day, we power through the last mounds of dirty dishes and rest.  

No.  She is adamantly going to finish her projects.  She's only here for two weeks, yet she's assigned herself two doozies on top of the catering.

The guest bedroom gets a redo.  My 250 year old bed frame isn't a standard size, the double mattress I had on it kicked out on one side, forcing guests to sleep clinging to one edge not to roll off the slope.  She buys her own foam and cuts and glues herself a bed.

The remodeling project goes on simultaneously to her garden overhaul project.  My half acre orchard finally gets the TLC it deserves.  For days she tends to the trees, weeds and enlarges their bases with mulch.  Offering to help, I'm curtly turned down with: "you won't do it to my satisfaction".  She cracks me up.

Here she is scolding me for allowing my fruit trees to become shade trees!  Our Private is really a three star General in disguise.  

With her own presidential motorcade.
How do I reward such hard work:  Road Trip!

Seale Drive Thru Museum of Wonder.  Doesn't she look impressed?

OK, so no one is impressed.
For my next trick:  Roosevelt State Park hiking!

Here we go from unimpressed to slightly homicidal.

Nice try, but Uber can't save you out here. Ever seen anyone hiking with a purse?  Me neither, as I said, she cracks me up.  That is until she turns the tables on me and takes me for her kind of day trip: shopping.  

Shoot me now, I'm at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Now, she's a happy camper.
And the two weeks were gone too quickly.  I love you, mom.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

I Am Cured!

Sweet glory, I am healed!

2 weeks early of my release from medical restrictions, I broke free of my constraints... and ran, not jogged, but ran.

The golf cart that had been shuttling us twice a day to our beloved Boonies for our dog runs stalled out on me again on the trails.  I could've walked home as it's forced me to do before, but this time...

...the normally sedate Peter decided to tear off through the woods after another dog.  He's quite protective of us, but rabidly so of his little buddy.
Grossly underestimating his zeal, I plodded on to the Boonies, expecting him to return shortly.  He could be heard baying from several far away locations.

We ran all the way back to the barn, then back to my house, not a full 5k, but almost.
Darkness fell and Peter doesn't go out after dark without his head lantern (you think I'm kidding, but I ain't).
With Panic Level up to Orange now, I began canvassing the neighborhood.  No better way to get shot then by knocking on a rundown trailer door after dark.
No luck.  I'm driving back home with tears in my eyes when the head lights caught his reflective harness.  With his tongue hanging to  his knees, he accepted a ride.

Feeling quite smug.
Meanwhile the rest of us were decidedly unamused.

Our first run together, thanks, Peter!

We appreciate it, I think!