Monday, May 6, 2019

Toby had a visitor!

My daughter's carpet cleaner went missing. She tried and tried to reach him, and finally after repeated tries, he answered his phone. He had had a stroke, and his business, being a one-man operation, had closed down.

She asked if he needed anything, and he said no. After pressing him, he agreed to let her stop by for a visit. She did, and she found a man in need. He had two finches living in an entertainment center, and a dog that obviously thought the house was his personal toilet. She checked his larder and asked if she could take him to Trader Joe's to help him stock up. He finally agreed.

On their trip to the store, she found out that he was about to lose his house. She suspicioned that he needed medical attention, but he said he needed to find someone to watch over his birds and Toby, the dog, before he would go for medical help. 

She found a home for the birds quickly. She was unable to take Toby, the dog, as she has a 100 lb. dog that doesn't tolerate other dogs. She tried and tried to find someone who would help out. Who would take a 15 year old dog that wasn't housebroken? "Me, me, I will take him," I said. And I did. We met at the halfway mark, an hour and a half trip for each of us. I took Toby home and introduced him to my dog, cat and birds. He settled in, but left many messes. I took him to the vet the next morning for tests and a rabies shot, which he had to have before I could get him groomed. And oh, my, he needed grooming!

The vet declared him remarkably healthy for a 15-year-old dog who had had minimal care for some time. My other dog, Fred, got along with him fine. He loved my cat, and would sometimes spend a half hour standing like a statue staring at her. The cat had no issue with him, either.  

Within a few days he was using the dog door and pooping outside.  Urination was another issue. However, after three and a half months, I can leave the house for up to eight hours without diapering him. He is very tolerant of the diapers, but I am hoping we are going to get that problem completely resolved. If he is smart enough to use the dog door to poop, then he will catch on to the peeing end of it, right?

As for Toby's history, his daddy, who had the stroke, bought the dog for his daughter after his marriage broke up. About a month ago, Julie, his ex, asked if she could visit Toby. It was clear that she loved the dog, and he loved her. He showed obvious affection for her while she was here. Unfortunately, after she left he moped for several days. It hurt my heart.

Julie asked if she could come again, and I hesitated to say yes. She said she wanted to bring her daughter Claire to see him as well. I finally said okay, but actually dreaded it - in part because I didn't want Toby to mope after she left, and I will admit it, I was a bit jealous of his affection for her. I have fallen in love with this dog, even knowing that our time together will not be long. What if she wants to take him home with her? 

Julie showed up this afternoon sans Claire. There were some timing issues, and she asked if she could come again in a month or so with Claire. Here we go again, I thought. I can't take this, and I don't think Toby can either!

We visited, and she fussed with Toby. She told me he didn't seem as affectionate with her as he had been on her last visit. It was something I had noticed as well, but racked it up to wishful thinking on my part. But maybe not. 

She is truly a lovely person. Perhaps she is also a mind reader. She said, "I want you to know I have no intention of taking Toby. He is yours." She told me her ex said he misses him and would like to have him back. She pointed out that he was in no shape to care for Toby financially or physically, and he finally agreed that Toby needed to stay with me.

When she left, Toby wanted to go out the door with her. I put both dogs on leashes and we went out to her vehicle with her. Then Toby tugged on the leash to take me on our usual walk down the block. He is not moping this time. Julie and Claire are planning a visit in June. I'm okay with it.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Too much on my mind . . .

Moving my booth was a big deal. It was also a good deal. My revenues have doubled since the move - in part because of ever increasing CBD product sales, but also everything else ~ skin care, soap, herbals, essential oils. Putting a light above a board with all of my oils on display has certainly helped, and the location, and some advertising I've been doing.

When things sell, that is good. But I'm pretty much the manufacturing and purchasing departments, and that is not so good. I'm so far behind in the soap room that I can't even think about it. But I try to take Sundays off, truly completely OFF.

I went to church this morning, stayed for the potluck, got home and headed out to the yard to clean up after Toby, then headed for the couch and planned to call my kids. Hah! No phone. I have a watch that finds my phone and it said it was out of range. I must have left it at church, but I could have sworn I had tried to call my daughter as I left. Hmmm, guess not.

My neighbor Nancy very kindly called my number (I no longer have a home phone) so that I could stick my head in my car, then listen upstairs and in the basement - but no ringing. I hopped in the car for the church, hoping a class that was going on when I left would still be in session. It wasn't. Church was locked up tight. So I went home and sent out an email to members of the board, to see if any of them could open the church for me. Then I went to the internet, contacted AT&T, and tried to find out if they could track the phone. They could - they did - it was at an address halfway home, not at the church. I insisted I had driven straight home from church. They said they would black list it, as it must of have been stolen. No, no, not by anyone in MY church!

Then I saw a bottle of pills sitting on the counter. The address where the phone was could have been my drugstore's address. It was just a couple of numbers off.  I was sure I had picked up the scrip the day before, but given my state of mind lately, I checked the receipt. Yup, I picked up those pills at 1:13 this afternoon.

I headed to the drugstore, and there it was. Maybe I need a new home phone. Really, at my age and with the health problems I have had in the past couple of years, without a phone do I email an ambulance company?

Einkorn Baguettes

Picture of my Einkorn baguettes.

The crumb -

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My new friend, Toby

My daughter Val has had the same carpet cleaner for years. It was time for his services, but she couldn't reach him. After persistently trying off and on over a month's time, she finally reached him. He had a pretty bad stroke a year ago, couldn't work, lost his business and was about to lose his house. She has a soft heart, went to his place, found him and his house and his dog in shambles. The two finches who were living in an entertainment center seemed in good health. She couldn't find any dog food in the house and suspicioned that the dog, Toby, was eating bird seed. She took him to Trader Joe's, where he got some food for himself and pet food, and has been keeping an eye on him. He is suicidal, is alienated from his family, and has decided lying down in a snow bank is a pretty painless way to go. She called government agencies, tried to get him some help. He is about to lose his house, he said he has maybe two or three more months and then his savings are totally gone. She suspicions that he is continuing to have some mini strokes. She tried to find homes for the pets so she could take him to the hospital. She found a home for the birds, but not the dog. She said he was very sweet, but dirty, probably malnourished, not very attractive. I said if she couldn't find a home for him, I would take him until Patrick was on his feet and could take him back. She is also looking into housing for him. So how is she going to find housing that will take in a dog and two finches, along with Patrick, who is very ill? Last Sunday, Val and her husband Mike went to Patrick's house and convinced him that he should check in to a hospital, that she would take Toby to me, and that I would take excellent care of him. So Mike and Patrick went to hospital, where Val's suspicions were confirmed. Patrick has had several more small strokes. Val and I met halfway between Mishawaka and Zionsville to do the dog exchange. Yup, he was a mess! But a good boy with a sweet personality. I made sure I would have someone at my house when Toby met Fred, my dog, especially with ice and snow on ground and me in a boot from a fractured bone or two in my foot. I didn't need to have two fighting dogs on my hands, so my friend Jim was there to help when I got home. No need to worry - they got on fine.
I've been reading up on how to train an adult dog that has peed and pooped wherever he wants for 14 or 15 years. I'm trying the umbilical method. He is now tied to me via a long leash, which Phyllis Panozzo made for one of my dogs many years ago. He is pretty good if I watch him all the time because he heads towards a door before he lets loose, but I don't always pay attention. Now, when he heads for the door, I know it because he is attached to me and will be pulling me along as he heads for the door. Yesterday he must have followed Fred out the automatic door while I was at the vet's picking up some paperwork. Of course, he couldn't get back in because he didn't yet have the magic fob on his collar that operates the dog door. Fortunately I had gotten him his rabies shot the day before, tag on collar with vet's name on it. Someone picked him up on Lincoln Way East, where he almost got hit by a bus. They called my vet's office, got my number and got him back to me. I had been driving around but hadn't gotten that far from home. I had also tramped through the snow by the river worried that he might have gone in. A friend chided me for getting an old dog a rabies shot. Did you know that you cannot get a dog groomed in Indiana unless you bring in the paperwork that shows the dog has a current vaccine? Of course, when she heard that she understood why I did it. Thank goodness that tag was on his collar. I might never have gotten him back without that tag!
Jenna grooming Toby
All done!
Back home and having dinner
Beautiful Toby!
I am already in love. But he is Patrick's dog, and if Patrick finds a way to take him back, he will go to his owner. All's well that ends well, and I'm not sure walking around with a dog attached to my dog leash "umbilical cord" is the best ending. What will be will be.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

First post surgery CT scan

I had a malignant sarcoma known as a GIST (Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumor). It grows on a stalk and lights somewhere between your throat and your anus. I lovingly refer to it as the "a-hole to appetite" tumor.

Mine was near the top of my stomach, close to the esophagus, a very bad place. Initial diagnosis from first surgeon was to take the whole stomach and about a fourth of the esophagus, unless we could shrink it enough with chemotherapy to take less.

The chemo didn't work. In fact, it damned near killed me. My liver enzymes hit 577, and I started having daily (and quite intense) Prinzmetal's angina attacks. Those attacks are caused by spasms in the coronary arteries, which shut off blood supply to the heart - in other words, small heart attacks that can become big ones without immediate attention. I keep nitroglycerin tablets in a locket around my neck. I have three or four of these a year, pop a tablet, sit down for a couple of minutes and all is well again. But while on chemo, during the last six days, I had seven of them, so severe that it took two tablets and 10 or more minutes of lying down and trying not to think about the elephant on my chest.

So I had no choice but to have surgery, and have it quickly. Dr. Google and I had some long chats, and I got some good information from a GIST board. Dana Farber cancer clinic in Boston was number one on the list of centers of excellence for GISTs. I was there meeting with surgeon and oncologist within 10 days.

The oncologist there insisted that it was a rather terrible tumor (the oncologist here in Indiana disagreed). The surgeons disagreed as well. The Indy surgeon recommended a total gastrectomy, the surgeon in Boston said he could remove a small bit of stomach wall and leave the esophagus completely alone.

Again, Dr. Google and I did some consulting, and I decided to go to Boston for the surgery. The surgeon removed only 10% of the stomach wall, and I was eating fried chicken within two weeks!

I love food. I couldn't think of anything more horrible than losing my stomach. I was quite sure I had made the right decision. However, over time if I had any kind of distress in the gastrointestinal tract, I was sure I had made the wrong one, and that I was filling up with tumors. My fears became more frequent and more irrational as I got close to the six-month mark, date for first CT scan. In fact, I asked the oncologist to move up the date of the scan. He did, and five months and one week after the surgery, I had my first scan. It was clean as a whistle!

In another six months, another scan, and then another and another, every six months. If they are all clear (and today I am sure they will be), I go to a scan every 10 years.

I am very thankful for my good health, and for a healthy GI tract. :)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Yeast in my kitchen, hard at work!

Tomorrow I take in baked goods to my booth at the market. The work started last night, when I fed my sourdough a little extra for Tartine's recipe for country boules. This morning when I got up for my workout at Crossfit, I tested it, and it wasn't at the float stage. If the starter sinks to the bottom of a bowl of water, it doesn't yet have enough gas in it to make bread rise. By the time I got home from working out, it was perfect!

I also started my poolish, which is sort of a sourdough, because you mix flour, water and a tiny bit of yeast and let it sit on the counter for 12 hours before making the dough for French baguettes. It enriches the flavor, and allows me to use only half as much yeast in the finished dough.

I then fed my rye sourdough, filled the jar nearly to the top, so that I would have the 15 ounces of active sourdough to make two loaves of sourdough rye. This morning, I ground the rye berries, caramelized the onions and mixed the sourdough with water and the freshly ground rye flour.

The coffee beans on the counter by the new ferments are there to attract yeast that like coffee - or so one of my bread baking books says they will do. Left to right, the poolish for nine baguettes (will bake in the morning), the rising rye dough with a new jar of starter in front, and rising dough for boules with new starter in square bowl in front.

Poolish for baguettes, sourdough rye rising, country boule on first rise. 
By 3 this afternoon, I set the rye bread and boules to rise. The baguette dough will be made this evening, refrigerated for a slow rise, then in the morning, loaves are formed, set to rise, and baked. They are always still warm when I leave for market.

Two loaves of rye rising, two boules rising (one round, one oblong)
Buzzer just went off. Time to turn on oven and get ready to bake bread!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Go big or go home.

Sometimes we need our friends to tell us what we don't want to hear. I have had a web page, with varying degrees of success, for at least a dozen years. The latest is okay, but the friend said it - if you don't have a viable, usable, attractive website, better not have one at all.

I have hired a media firm - TJ21 Media Group in South Bend - to spiff up my site. TJ told me it wasn't bad, but needed updating, better pictures, a blog that gets updated frequently instead of when I get a minute. You see, I would much rather blog here about this and that than to have some discipline about updating my blog for product stories on my site. Time to get to work.

The journey started Tuesday night, when Liz, my assistant at the market who just happens to be a photographer for her "real" job, came over and we did pics of all of my essential oils. They will be going up on my web page shortly. I have good prices, nice variety and a source of excellent oils. So why have I been keeping them under a bushel? I'm gonna let them shine!

I've also started carrying CBD products, so they too will be featured on my page. I learned the value of CBD oil when I was on chemo. It had failed to register that while I was taking it for nausea, I no longer had to take Celebrex for tendonitis in my hip. After chemo, no more CBD oil and I was back on Celebrex -- and then the nickel dropped. CBD oil is great for inflammatory disease. There will be a new section for CBD products. I have a story to tell and a product to sell.

Fortunately my web site bones are good. The firm is prettying it up and making it more comprehensive, and providing those good old meta tags that will get me more viewers. Liz and I will be doing all of the photos, and I'm doing the pricing and product descriptions.

Stay tuned for what's happening. Here's a link to the current clunky site. Watch the progress while we work!! Ceres & Co.'s current web site/