Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Beautiful Day

It's wonderful what a sunny day can do to lift the spirit and the energy level.  

After a siege of cold, wet days, we're warming up and drying out for a few days, up to 50° today!  

This morning we ran errands and got some grocery shopping done, plus some puttering in the house.  This afternoon I went for a two mile walk over to the park, by myself!  Tom was working in the back yard, cutting up cedar tree prunings into fireplace wood.
 He borrowed that limb saw from his sister and it makes for much easier work, except when he had to stop and reset the chain.  That's what he was doing when I got back from my walk.  

I got out my bucket seat and my primroses that Tom had purchased on the field trip last Saturday and and I actually planted something.  Yay!

I can manage as long as my work surface is elevated.  There is so much that I can't do yet so it feels good to be at least a little useful.

We bought this beautiful hellebore when we were out this morning, but Tom will have to plant it.  I can't get down on the ground yet.
I found a sunny spot on the patio and sat for a while, asking Tom to take my photo before he got back to work.
He's back to making little piles out of big piles.

And I'm hoping for a few more days like this one!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Soup Saturday

The high today was about 38°, with rain and snow showers.  This is what we refer to as bone chilling - cold and damp.

Tom headed out this morning for our garden club field trip, an outing I had planned some time ago, but was now unable to attend.  I'm not quite ready for that long a trip.  They went to the Seymour Conservatory in Wright Park in Tacoma, and then to Watson's Nursery near Puyallup to learn about late winter pot plants and then have lunch in the cafe there. Tom reports that they all had a good time.

I asked him to take a few phone photos of the color display in the conservatory and send them to me.  They always have lovely seasonal displays along with the permanent tropicals in the old glass house.

Since I was house bound and it was a dreary day, I made soup.

We were introduced to Pozole when we were in New Mexico two years ago and really liked it.  It is a pork and hominy stew.  I looked at a few recipes and then came up with my own version and tried it out last fall.  We have had it several times since.
 Here's my version: 
1 large, thick cut pork shoulder steak
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 quart chicken stock
1 29oz can Mexican Hominy
1 small can diced green chilies
2 cups shredded cabbage
Avacado slices
shredded Jack cheese
chopped fresh cilantro

Brown the pork steak in a heavy bottom soup pot. Remove pork, add the onion to the pot and cook, using a bit of stock to deglaze the pan.  Return the pork to the pot, add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook 2 hours.

Remove the pork to cool.  Shred the pork, discarding fat and bone.

Add the hominy and chilies to the stock.  Add more chicken stock if needed.  Bring to a low boil.  Add the cabbage and cook about five minutes.  Add the pork and heat through.

Serve in large soup bowls.  Garnish with shredded cheese, avocado and cilantro. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the top.

I served mine with some orange slices and hot corn bread with butter and honey.

A great soup for a cold winter day.

( And yes, I know,  I don't usually share recipes, but my life is very dull right now and I had to find something to post about!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Still Grounded, But Getting Better

I have been watching hockey this morning.  The US men's team just won and will advance to the semi-finals.  Tomorrow morning the US women play Canada for the Gold.  I'll be watching!  

This evening I'll watch the ladies figure skating.  I'm hoping for lovely skating with no drama. The women will be stretching their luck to complete their triples.  Falls are bound to happen.  So unfortunate.

Speaking of falls, freestyle boarding and skiing have had some spectacular ones.  Winning takes a lot of luck as well as a lot of skill.

Yesterday I spent quite a while watching a remarkable curling match between Norway and Great Britain.  I confess I was attracted by a very handsome member of the Norwegian team, Thomas Ulsrud.

This guy was easy to watch!  And of course there are the pants.  Surely you have heard of the Norwegian Curling team pants wardrobe!
It seems they didn't much care for their official uniforms, so they went shopping.

Unfortunately the Norwegians lost, so we won't get to watch this pretty face anymore.
Maybe they could find something for him to do in the summer Olympics.  It would be a shame to hide this body.  I had no idea this was under his shirt!

As you can see, the Olympics continue to keep me entertained during my recovery.  I have been getting some sleep relief the last few nights so I guess the pills are working, but I would like to go off them soon as they leave me foggy and with blurred vision.  I'll give them a few more days before I risk it.

The sun is shining today, so Tom will take me out for a walk this afternoon.  I love getting out into the fresh air and moving more like I used to.  I'm making progress.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How The Olympic Games Are Saving My Sanity

I stayed in bed for over six hours last night, and slept most of that time!

That's a first in what seems like a very long time.

As I was working in my first week of recovery to get my digestive system functioning, I slept well for a few nights as I recovered from those nights in the hospital.  Then sleep began to desert me, to the point that I could only stay asleep for an hour at a time.  To change position I had to have help repositioning pillows that had me wedged in on either my right or left side.  I had to roll over without twisting my spine.  All of this was laborious.  And then I would lay there awake until I couldn't stand it anymore.  I would get up and go downstairs. So some nights by 3:00 I was in my recliner or on the downstairs couch, sleep still alluding me.  

Did you know the Olympics are on somewhere on the NBC spectrum or Canadian CBUT all night long, and all day too?  Thank God.  I turned them on to whatever sport was happening, much of it live action.  Josy Fuzzbutt, very confused as to why I was getting up in the middle of the night, would sit on me and purr.  I appreciated her comforting company.

By early this week I called my primary care doctor for help.  I have no experience with sleep aids, choosing to just work through previous bouts in insomnia.  But this was getting serious.  Even napping during the day was difficult.  And because I was not on pain meds, it was hard to be really comfortable in any position.  My doctor prescribed Trazodone, an antidepressant used as a sleep aid.  I had to chuckle when I read the warning on the label, " May cause drowsiness". I hope so!

It took three days to start working as a sleeping aid, but of course the blurry vision started right away.  It's a good thing I have a Paperwhite Kindle, on which I can adjust the light and read in the dark, and adjust the font size to large.  That too helped keep me sane.  I just finished reading Sycamore Row by John Grisham and I'm starting Inferno by Dan Drown.

Right now I'm typing on my lap top and watching curling.  I have already watched most of what will be shown on  prime time tonight so I can switch over to Downton Abby.  We went for a walk this  morning, about 1.3 miles, and that's about as far as I can manage for now.  I am at the point where I can be detrimental to my recovery by doing too much, reaching too far, bending or twisting a bit too  much.

Yes, recovery is a bitch.  But then I am not a very patient person when it comes to being restricted.  And restricted I must be.  With rods and screws in my spine, and bone grafting just getting started, I have no option but to be much more sedentary than I want to be.

Thank  goodness for the Olympics!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sunny Day

It's the second sunny day in a row!

It was breezy and about 48° as we set out for our neighborhood walk late this morning.  

Yesterday I had Tom drive me over to the neighborhood park for a couple of loops on the trails there.  I felt good to be back there after several weeks.  It's a bit too far for me to go walking in the park from the house yet.  

Today we walked up around the school, a usual destination.  
This is McMicken Heights Elementary, our neighborhood school, where our kids attended and where I worked for about 25 years.  This is a replacement building however, about five years old now.  The demolition/construction was a big deal in our neighborhood as the old building full of memories gave way to this very modern structure.  It is painted on Sounders colors - sky blue and Rave green!

We enjoyed the warmth of the sun on our stroll.  Upon returning home I wanted to visit the garden.  After the freezing cold and then the snow, things are coming to life out there and I don't want to miss anything.

In the winter garden by the front porch the snowdrops have sprung back up after bowing to frost and snow.
 Hardy cyclamen are blooming
 The witch hazel overcame its snowy blanket.
 The poor pathetic porch pansies are doing their best.

Here also are a clump of Hellebore Ivory Prince.
Then we walked around the rest of the yard, finding other scattered hellebores in various stages of blooming. Unlike Ivory Prince, these don't hold their heads up so Tom helped then show their pretty faces as he photographed them using my iPhone.  I can't get down that close to the ground yet.

 We found the first marsh marigold blooming in the full sun in the rose bed.
Soon there will be mats of bright shiny faces basking in the sun whenever the sun decides to shine.  

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day already!  We'll have our grandchildren in the afternoon, over night and well into Saturday as Jill goes to  Mountaineering class.  She'll join us for dinner tomorrow.  I'll muster to bake brownies in a heart shaped pan. There will be love and sharing and caring and playing and comfort and chocolate.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Change of Venue

I have been going outside for walks for almost a week now, walking up to a mile a day in the cold, dry weather.  I walk to get and stay regular.  I walk to keep moving.  I walk for healing exercise.  Walking is the best kind of exercise for back surgery recovery.  I walk because I can. And for those who might worry, I do not walk alone.

Then the snow came.

Then the snow melted into a slushy mess as the rains came.

I needed a new place to walk.
 This afternoon Tom and I went to the mall at Southcenter, where we could walk and window shop.

I think I might need these shoes. They would look great with my Sounders gear!  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, they only come in men's sizes in this cool color combo.
 We settled for coffee.  Now of course, you knew, there would be Starbucks and chocolate!
Calorie consumption - another reason to walk.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

When it snows, you gotta' go out and take photos

Tom helped me get my boots on.  Armed with my walking stick and my camera, back brace firmly in place under my layers, and my trusty care taker at my side, I ventured out into our winter wonderland garden.

You can't keep a photographer down.
Tom helped document with his iPhone camera.

 Tom and Jake did some pruning on the cedar tree over the patio yesterday, so we have brush piles.

 My poor potted pansies on the porch are trying so hard to hold their heads up.
 I guess the wreath can stay up a while longer.

 I think we'll be staying home today.
 The spirea says spring is coming even as winter makes its statement.
And the best thing about our snow?  It fell on a Saturday night, to be enjoyed on Sunday morning, and it will mostly be gone by Monday.