Monthly Archives: May 2020

Frost!

When you live up near the 51st parallel as we do, frost in late spring is a constant threat. Here it is May 29 and my tomatoes plants spent the night sitting in their pots because I knew this might happen. Container gardening is much more popular in this region for that reason. Now one might think that our short season means no time for vegetable growing and for some crops that is the case. It is a rare thing to get a full sized watermelon up here. However our days are long enough here that the plants grow at a tremendous rate, My pepper plants are already making peppers and my tomatoes will be transplanted into the garden already blooming. The frost issue is a constant fear though. Last year we had a frost that killed off the tops of my zucchini plants and took several of my tomatoes and cucumbers. This year I have been far more diligent about repotting into larger pots instead of putting things in the garden and keeping things longer in my popup tent greenhouse. Yesterday, after two weeks of lovely frost free summery weather, I moved everything back under cover. I am running out of room and some of the tomatoes plants are getting tall and spindly. We typically get weather that comes in three day rounds. We have a forecast for risk of frost tonight to be followed by hot summer weather in the 30C range (86F) so the plan is tomorrow all the bedding plants get planted. They will love it, growing freely in the garden with heat and sunshine.

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The other awful thing about these late frosts is it makes getting fruit problematic at best. A bad frost on the wrong day means that particular fruit tree will not produce any fruit at all. My husband was very disappointed because last year’s late frost happen just when the apple blossoms were in their full glory and we did not get even one single apple. Every tree in town was similarly affected. The strip along the Railway Ave (so named where there used to be a railway there sixty years ago) there is a strip of apple trees planted which are available to anyone who wants the fruit they produce. My husband took great pleasure in making fresh apple juice from them. Last year there was no apple juice. However the saskatoon bushes were not yet blooming and so they produced abundantly. The previous year the last late frost came later and hit the saskatoon bushes and so we had no saskatoons that year.

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Now that we have stopped our nomadic life and there is no sign we will start it up again, we are looking at our lovely little home for things that will make life easier and better. I have decided to make myself a proper greenhouse. We were going to buy a professional one but the $4000 price tag for the simplest model that can withstand our prairie wind and snow loads ruled that idea out. I have been consulting Pininterest and youtube for ideas and I now have a plan. I think I should be able to make myself a nice greenhouse for under $800. We shall see.

You may recall I was in a state of fearful despair after a bad diagnosis last September. I planted daffodils and crocuses in response. Not one crocus made it but we enjoyed a glorious and lovely brief blast of daffodils that gave us both great joy. Daffodils can take a late unexpected frost and come out unscathed.

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Update on FitMi for Stroke Recovery

It has been two weeks now since we got the FitMi and Music Glove. I thought folks might be interested in where we are at with it. Hubby dearest has been faithfully using it every day. All exercises are done while sitting down. He does ten minutes of each. There are four sets in total, Core, Leg, Arm, Hand. He always picks the three that have the lowest score so that way he gets 3 ten minute sessions but he gets through all four sets of exercises over two days. The four workouts started with only three exercises. He could not access the other seven until he had reached a certain level on the first three. After he passed a certain level a new exercise was “unlocked” and added to the routine. Each unlocked exercise was of increasing complexity and difficulty. Each of the ten exercises for each region also has ten levels. So that is 40 different exercises with 10 levels each for a total of 400 levels.

Once he reached level ten on his first exercise he got a gold star on his chart and his goal is now set to infinity. He still has to do that exercise as he cycles through a workout but he does not have to increase the reps. He likes to add one rep to his current score. Every time you beat your own score this little computer crowd sound cheers for you and it is surprisingly gratifying.

When we first got the FitMi he could not even manage the 10 reps for two of the exercises. One exercise was a leg lift and stomp for the affected leg. There is a video you can watch that explains how to do each exercise. The woman in the video said if you can’t do it, use your hands to lift the leg. That’s what he did. He used his hands to lift the leg. Surprisingly enough, as soon as he could do a few lifts, his brain seemed to remember what it was supposed to do and after only two days he could suddenly do the lift without his hands helping. It was like his brain “woke up” and remembered how to do it. He soon began progressing rapidly through the levels for the leg stomp. He has now reached level ten.

Click to access Updated-Exercise-Library-FitMi-RehabStudio-copy.pdf

 

My husband now has all the exercises unlocked. He has worked three/ten exercises in each of the four up to the infinity level. It is hard work. Even though he is doing these exercises while sitting down, he works up a sweat and he’s huffing and puffing doing over one hundred reps of the unlocked exercises.

Is it working? YES! The day we got the FitMi we walked down to the store where the truck was ready to deliver. We stopped at the post office. A pair of new slip on style shoes without laces had arrived because he was having so much trouble with laces. While I waited my turn at the store, I watched from across the street as he opened the package and then took out the new shoes, removed the old shoes and tried the news ones on. I was shocked and upset. It was painfully obvious he was really weak on the left side. His body was leaning over at 45 degrees. More alarming, he was not using his left side at all. Everything he did was with his right side except for swinging his left arm to use as a brace. He was letting the weak side slide farther into disuse without either of us realizing it. The FitMi has stopped that because he is forced by the program to consciously use his weak side.

The result has been a remarkable improvement in his overall balance and movement. Just today he made breakfast and was whirling from frying pan to cupboard to take out a plate and spinning back to pick up the spatula (with the weak hand) and then loaded my plate and handed it to me. It was all effortless, thoughtless, with no sign of left weakness. When we take the dog for a walk, the heavy left foot swing stomp is gone. He is now rolling his foot almost normally. He also used to stagger a bit so it looked like he’d been drinking as he walked before the FitMi. That’s gone. His gait is not completely normal but it is close to normal. To be fair, it was not normal before the stroke because of an injury with severe break and a big steel plate in the leg plus some arthritis in his knee. It is nice to not know if his slight limp is due to the stroke or the old injury.  He says the leg, especially the calf still feels kind of weak and numb, not entirely normal. He has to consciously remind the leg how to work. However it is working and that says a lot.

So would I recommend the FitMi? Absolutely with one important caveat. One of our friends had a heart attack and he bought a treadmill. He made many promises to himself to use it. It sits in his bedroom, a very expensive clothes rack. The FitMi is the same. If you aren’t going to use it, it will sit in the computer, a very expensive icon on your desktop. You have to be willing to persist in using it because it is hard work and it is all too easy to just skip it and do it later. My husband is really determined to get better so he’s working hard at it every single day. I have had to remind him some days and he quietly grumbles while he sets it up. I also sit with him and watch him work through his routine every third or fourth time to make sure he has the puck in the right orientation and so forth. I am honestly always amazed at how much he has progressed since the last time.

(I got no discount or special benefit from Flint Rehab for writing this.)

Misty Is Three!

Today our Misty is three years old. That makes her an adult dog. Finally. Cute as puppies are, as wonderful as it has been to go on this three year pathway to her adulthood, I am so glad the puppy days are over. I am a dog person not a puppy person.

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I went searching for a quote or a saying to describe Misty as a unique dog among the many dogs I have been privileged to share company with over the years. I found this one and it has our Misty written all over it.

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“It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.” – John Grogan (Author, Marley & Me)

Misty is a wonderful dog. She has that quiet easy going, love all people temperament of a typical golden retriever. (Admittedly only after appropriate introductions.) Yet she also has the resolute stand by and guard attitude of the German Shepard. When you first meet her she is standoffish and cool, acting to assess your personality and how her people feel about you. If she knows we’re good with you, then she is good with you.

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I’ll never forget the time she went swimming with dolphins. And Pawdy Gras will also be a special memory. One of the worst moments of life with her was when I saw her attacked by two pit bulls. It was then I learned just how fast and tough she can be. When they attacked, she leapt up like a deer and spun like a dervish so they never did get a good grip. She even had one pit bull on the ground on its back pinned by the throat in fight, yet she did not kill that dog even though she could have and it certainly would have killed her if the situation had been reversed. Once she had one dog pinned the other attacker went after the downed dog instead and we were able to make our escape while they fought each other. Misty was bloodied and punctured but the injuries were all minor.

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When Dick had his first query stroke, Misty was the one who stuck right beside him during his recovery, guarded him every second and alerted me if he did anything funny or weird. We had a lot of false alarms. She once came to fetch me because he was yawning and then he sneezed at the same time. One should sneeze or yawn but not do both together. Even so, I was so very glad she was there because I felt comfortable going out and working in the yard with him inside. I knew Misty would fetch me if anything happened. She seemed to be able to sense his blank out spells well before me. If I watched her, I could see one coming and make sure he got to bed safely to rest. As he recovered, she became less and less intense in her minding of him until by December he had reverted to his usual place of ‘mere’ beloved Master.

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Misty proved her worth again at the second stroke. I am a heavy sleeper and he collapsed at 3:15 am and could not move or speak. It was Misty who woke me up, fussing and whining because this was not right and he should not be lying on the floor waving one arm feebly. I called an ambulance and she seemed to immediately “get” they were there to help. She greeted them with joy and sat watching nearby, her tail wagging, even though she is usually so wary of strangers at first meeting. While he was in hospital, she stayed with me in the hotel or waited in the truck while I was with him. I would drive to the nearby MacDonald’s going to and from the hospital. She was always sad when I came back without him. I would get myself something and then ask her if she would like her usual, a small plain burger with cheese and bacon. She never said no. She would hang out the truck window watching them in the drive through and bark at them if they didn’t bring that order quickly enough. Even after weeks at lock down if you say “Drive through” she perks up. She almost fell apart in her joy when he finally was helped into the truck to go home.

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What else can I say about her? She’s a dog. If it’s weird, bark about it until we come and say it’s all right. She likes to chew on bones. She loves cheese and bacon treats. She likes to play with two big horse balls with handles. She doesn’t like fireworks. She’s indifferent to gunfire. She’s still trying to excavate the foundation and looks so upset when I refill the holes. She has a selection of precious stuffed toys that she tends and guards like a mother dog would her babies. She knows a lot of commands, sit, stay, lie down, heel, come, go get, stop that, go to the truck, wait, stop torturing the cat. (That last one is a toughie.) She has big brown eyes and sharp white teeth and flecks of gold so lovely I sometimes think we should have called her Golddust. She has such an endless variety of vocalizations beyond mere barking that she almost talks. She sheds at an incredible rate, ranking number two of all dogs I have owned. (So glad I got her used to being vacuumed as a puppy.) She’s easily the most beautiful dog I have ever owned. When I was in grade school I drew a picture of the most perfect looking dog imaginable. Misty looks just like that dog from her long noble muzzle with her gold speckled fur down to her elegant fluffy tail. That’s Misty Mine.

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Good dog!