Maybe the groundhog didn’t entirely lie

Posted March 15, 2019 By Ruth


On this day 2 years ago Mother Nature dumped about 2 feet of snow on us.  You could lose Apollo (who’s 27″ at the shoulder) in the yard.  Today?  Today I can see the grass.  The ground itself is still rock solid, though some of the areas that have been bare  of snow the longest are starting to get a bit muddy.  There’s still snow in alot of areas of the yard too.  Nor are we past the risk of another storm.  But I’ll take it!


Posted March 3, 2019 By Ruth

I originally started typing this for my own record keeping, but it occured to me that other folks might appreciate the info.  This post will be added to on a random basis as things change and update.

I originally went into my doctor for insomnia (and knee issues) on Sept 5th.  Symptoms: little to no snoring, waking up with a headache constantly, waking up feeling like my brain was wrapped in cotton constantly, waking up “every hour” most nights, feeling brain dead and fogged all day every day

First sleep test was originally schedule for the night of Oct 2nd.  However I ended up sick with a miserable respiratory infection and had to reschedule.  Next available appointment the night of Oct 30th.

After the first sleep test the administering nurse told me I should hear about my results in about 2 weeks.  I did not.  By the 4 week mark I kept thinking that I really ought to call the doctor and find out what the results were, but I tended to think of it as I was headed to bed, which isn’t exactly a useful time for such.

On Dec 4th (five weeks) I received a phone call from the sleep testing office to schedule my sleep test.  First available date Jan 22nd.

On Dec 5th I received a letter from my insurance informing me that I’d been approved for cpap therapy.  I guess this means they decided I have sleep apnea in some form.

On Dec 5th I called my doctors office and left a message asking for someone to call me back with the results of my first sleep test.  they called me back to tell me that they’d contacted the pulmonary specialist to contact me about going over my results.

On Dec 10th I got a letter from the pulmonary specialists office (with a date mailed stamp of Dec 5th) informing me that my appt was scheduled for Dec 14th.  At that appointment I saw a PA who said this is your numbers, you have sleep apnea, calls us back to schedule an appointment approximately 4-6 weeks after you receive your cpap machine, Bye.  I know they’re busy as hell (the waiting room was packed to standing room only when I went in), but really?  Apnea/Hypopnea Index (AHI) of 48.6/hour (which is high, you’re considered “normal” if your number is under 5).  Oxygen saturation dropped to 84% (anything under 90 is considered low).

After the 2nd sleep test it was confirmed that a cpap machine helps me.  The nose only mask did not work for me, 1: despite normally having no problems breathing through my nose normally the constant pressure as I was breathing made me feel like I couldn’t get a proper breath, and 2: I kept leaking air through my mouth.  Full face mask it is.  The nurse warned me it would take upwards of 3 weeks for me to actually get the cpap machine.

I picked up my cpap machine on Feb 8th.  By this time I’d done a bit of research.  Not all cpap machines are created equal, and its not just about differences between brands and therapies required.  If you’re going through this spend some time doing some research and don’t just take the machine you’re handed.  Some machines actually track all sorts of health info related to your cpap therapy and some don’t, and with that extra data you can make sure that you’re getting the proper help.  It’s worth the argument to make sure you’re getting a good machine.  Also, there are so many different kinds of masks, and not all masks fit all people.

The different machine manufacturers have software to make at least some info available to the user.  How much info they provide varies a bit, and isn’t especially comprehensive.  Especially if you start cpap therapy and your doctor insists your numbers are fine, but you don’t feel fine, seriously consider downloading a freeware program by the name of Sleepyhead.  You’ll have to join one of a couple different online forums to actually access the download, but it’s worth it.  It’ll allow you to actually see all that medical data that your machine is recording and give you all sorts of data to take to your doctor (or even modify your cpap settings yourself if need be).

The good news for me is that my very first night using the cpap machine made a HUGE difference in how I felt the next day.  I woke up with no headache, and no brain fog.  I was still tired as hell as getting used to sleeping with a mask on my face wasn’t quick, but the sleep I got was SO MUCH BETTER.  According to the cpap machine my AHI has dropped to consistently below 2, and on occasion I’ve had some nights with an AHI of 0.

My followup appointment with the pulmonary doctor is March 26th.



My husband’s been using a cpap machine for several years now.  At first it seemed to help him alot, but over the last year and a half or so he’s been waking up feeling foggy again.  His doctor scheduled an at home check, and the results said that he was fine and no changes were needed.

Once I was comfortable figuring out my data I decided to take a look at his data.  The machine he has is also one of the models that provides lots of data, so it should have been easy.  It wasn’t.  Turns out the SD card in his machine was screwed.  SO FAR, replacing it with a new SD card seems to be working fine.  The downside to that is that we lost all the saved data prior to putting in the new card, the cpap machine itself only saving “summary” data.  However, looking at those summaries, while his AHI is staying below 5, there are several days where its over 4.  Once we have a couple weeks worth of data on the new SD card we’ll be taking a closer look at it to see about adjusting settings to see if we can fix that.

Update to the blog

Posted March 2, 2019 By Ruth

WordPress informed me that my PHP version was way behind.  I know, that probably means nothing to most of you.  I have updated it.  However, its possible that in the updating things have gotten broken.  At first glance all appears fine, but as you browse, comment, etc, if you notice something not working right please let me know.

More Ice

Posted February 19, 2019 By Ruth

Sunday wasn’t especially warm, but it was sunny, and as a result we were able to clear the driveway of ice.  The sun warming the black pavement enough to pop the ice loose and break it up.

For some strange and unknowable reason my shoulders and elbows hurt now.

My own personal ice skating rink in my backyard.  Near the black drainage pipe its only a couple inches deep, but out in the middle of that is the drainage ditch between us and our northern neighbor, and that is full of ice, at least 2 feet deep.  Yay.

Why do people insist on feeding the coyotes??

Posted February 13, 2019 By Ruth

I’ve griped about neighbor cats before on here.

The most recently griped about cats are no longer around.  One of the two disappeared, and the owners moved (and took the remaining one with them) back September-ish (I see I never posted about that, oh well).  When that cat was gone the neighborhood cats that had been coming around to visit them stopped coming around, it was a huge relief.  In addition, though we saw a dog when those folks were moving in, we haven’t seen it since, so I’m thinking it belonged to someone who was helping them.

Then, we started seeing a new cat.  I went back and checked the trail cam photos and he showed up on the trail cams just before the one across the street moved out, though I didn’t see him in person till a few weeks later.  Black and white tuxedo.  And by gawd F.A.T. fat.  Like, can barely walk fat.  Seriously.  When I first saw him in person I thought he was injured because he was walking so weird, it wasn’t until I’d seen him a few times that I realized he wasn’t injured, he was just that fat.   And I swear he’s getting fatter and fatter.  He’s definitely not getting any thinner.  This is an owned cat, there’s no way this cat is maintaining that level of pudge on a diet of mice.  Assuming he can even catch mice, I have my doubts, he’s that fat.  I’ve seen him waddle down our yard and off our back line more than once.  No clue how he hasn’t become a meal for someone yet.  I figure it’s a matter of time.

All of which is bad enough.  But as winter set in we started seeing cat tracks not only around the carport (again), but also around and under the porch.  And the dogs suddenly REALLY wanted under the porch.  It wasn’t until I started getting a whiff of cat pee every time I opened the front door that I realized what was happening.

He (or she) had decided my concrete patio was his litter box.  A sprinkle of cayenne powder around the area just pushed him into using the driveway instead.  When the snow melted in the recent thaw we found deposits of cat poo all around the driveway.

How this cat hasn’t already become a coyote meal I have no clue, but it’s just a matter of time.  There’s no way he could run away or climb a tree fast enough to escape one.  I checked, and my local shelter accepts “stray cats” though it’ll cost me $25 to drop him off.  So I’ve borrowed a live trap, maybe if they have to pay to get their cat out of hock they’ll think twice about letting him run loose……


Posted February 13, 2019 By Ruth

Woke up this morning to upwards of a 1/2″ of ice on everything


Which of course had been covered by a decent layer of wet snow.  Be carefull out there folks!

Lesson Learned

Posted January 30, 2019 By Ruth

Shoulda learned it a while back I guess.  But yah, thats life.

Basically all images have been removed from the blog.  All new images will go up with watermarks.  I found a plug in that would allow me to retrospectively add watermarks to images, but it proved to be more annoying than just deleting them.

Home Made Hot Sauce

Posted January 28, 2019 By Ruth

As my supply of home grown hot peppers has grown so has the things that I’ve made out of them.  Husband likes Franks Red Hot sauce, so I’ve played around with home made versions of it using the home grown peppers, usually whatever peppers I have, which makes for a fair bit of variation in flavor.  I’m not interested in playing around with the fermented sauces, but the home grown red ripe peppers make for some nice flavors anyway.

This past summer of course I grew Cayennes, so this year I did up actual Cayenne based hot sauce for him.

A note on making hot sauces.  There are alot of recipes out there that make me cringe.  And alot of home hot sauce makers who have no understanding of what makes things safely shelf stable.  The good news for those folks is that botulism is rare.  The bad news for those folks is that if they get unlucky some day they’re going to end up either dead or crippled for life.  Before you decide to follow some random hot sauce recipe you found online please make sure you understand how acidity protects you from botulism, and how to tell if your sauce is acidic enough.  I can do that whole rant if need be, and if you all reading this actually want it, but I won’t in this post.

This recipe is a modification of the hot pepper jelly recipe that I use and that I know is plenty acidic and thus safe to play with.

If you have pets, or if any of the humans in the house aren’t a fan of hot things, turn on the vent fan before you start doing anything.  Also, I highly recommend gloves for handling the peppers, and even if you wear gloves do yourself a favor and wash your hands with LOTS of Dawn dish soap BEFORE using the bathroom or touching your face.

1 pound of red ripe Cayenne peppers

2 cups of white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

rough chop the peppers and add to sauce pan with the vinegar.  Heat up, and then puree with the stick blender.  Puree to your choice of texture, commercial sauces are often mashed through a fine strainer after pureeing to remove the seeds and larger bits, I don’t bother, but if you prefer a smoother sauce you’ll want to do this.  Add salt and garlic powder.  Simmer down to the consistency you want.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Pour into hot 1/2 pint jars and water bath for 10 minutes.  This made up 3 jars worth of sauce.  It also smells absolutely wonderful, even to me who doesn’t care for hot things.

I’ll note, if you don’t want to water bath it, and just want something for the fridge or freezer, this’ll keep for extended periods of time in the fridge just fine.

Mandarin Orange Jam

Posted January 27, 2019 By Ruth

I’ve been on a citrus kick lately.  But Husband isn’t a fan.  And I struggle to finish a package of oranges or the like before they start to go off.  The solution of course is to buy them individually, but that costs more.  Not to mention that my favorite citrus are seasonal.

In the meantime, I belong to a couple different canning/preserving groups on Facebook, and people were talking about doing marmalades, and mixed fruit jams and jellies.  So I had a thought.  Poked around at a couple orange jelly recipes, but wasn’t entirely enthused with what I was seeing.  So, armed with the knowledge that oranges are nicely acidic and so I can basically do whatever I want so long as I don’t add anything low acid, I went to the store for oranges.

8 large mandarin oranges

1 cup of commercial orange juice.

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

a splash of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of Ball’s low/no sugar pectin

Sliced the ends off of the oranges, deep enough that I saw flesh and not white skin.  Peeled them, and then used a sharp knife to slice off the white pith/skin.  Broke them open, sliced off the interior pith (that white pith can be bitter, you really want as much of it as physically possible removed).  Cut them into chunks, removed any particularly loose skin pieces but wasn’t OCD about it.  Used a potato masher to break up the chunks a bit.  Eyeballed the mass in the sauce pan, and added 1 cup of juice.  Next time I’ll just buy a couple more oranges instead, but it works for now.

Added the rest of the ingredients.  Brought to a strong boil for 1 minute per pectin instructions.  Jarred up (this made exactly six 1/2 pint jars), and water bath processed for 10 minutes.

I licked my stirring spoon while the mixture was heating and the vanilla came through nicely, but I can’t taste it at all in the finished jam.  In retrospect I should have added it at the end of the boil instead of before, and I might add a bit more too next time.  Also, store bought juice has always had a slightly odd undertaste to it, and that come through in the jam.  But otherwise I’m delighted with how this turned out.  Its a nice loose set jam, not overly sweet, and I totally ate the first jar with a spoon the next morning.

I’ll be buying a bunch more mandarin oranges this week so I can do a couple more batches!

Breakfast food

Posted January 12, 2019 By Ruth

Several years ago, before I got married (possibly even before we started dating?), I picked up a pair of these small cast iron pans.  They’re tiny, but perfect for single servings of a variety of things.

More recently I’ve used them for baking of smaller free form loaves of bread on occasion.  But otherwise they haven’t gotten much use since my husband joined the household.

Not to long ago, wanting something hearty for breakfast but not wanting to actually put alot of effort into it, I had an idea.

Two eggs scrambled up in a bowl, with a dash of onion powder, a sprinkle of pepper, and a hearty dash of garlic powder.  Add a pinch of grated asiago cheese, a dash of grated parmesan cheese, and a healthy handful of grated cheddar.  If I have them in the house I’ll frequently fine chop a small red potato into the mix too.

Get one of the little cast iron pans hot, slather with a thick slab of butter (even in a well seasoned pan the eggs will tend to stick a bit once you add this much cheese to the mix, use more butter), turn the burner down to just above low.  Pour in the egg mixture, it’ll do a good job at filling the little pan.  Let cook till the edges are solid.  Carefully flip, the liquid center will tend to pour out into the pan, thats fine.  Continue to cook till the bottom side is done to your taste (I tend to prefer a bit of browning, but some folks prefer their eggs less done, go with what works for you).  Place on a slice of homemade bread toast (though I have to say, it also goes REALLY well on commercially purchased Texas Toast, you may want to go light on the added seasonings if you’re going this route) with more grated cheddar.

It’s a very filling meal in a fairly short period of time.  I call it my “omlet thing”, to the amusement of my husband.  I forgot, again, to get a photo, so you’re going to have to do with my description.