Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Wrist – Part One

A week ago Friday morning started out like most of my mornings. I got up around 7am and started doing some stretches. I’m never fully awake while doing them but by the time I’m done, I am generally almost conscious and about ready to face the next steps - a workout, a shower and breakfast.

That morning was slightly different though. I didn’t notice it at first, but as I went through my stretches, I became aware of a tenderness in my right wrist – just below the bone at the base of the thumb. Certain movements hurt more than others but it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t stand a bit of discomfort. I assumed I had likely slept on it wrong and it would clear up as I woke up.

I did my workout – a double one in fact as it was a cool morning and I had nowhere to be anytime soon. I did both my three miles on the Gazelle and then the second workout of 15 minutes on the bike and 20 minutes resistance. The resistance was a little harder than usual on my wrist but overall, my body felt good so I kept going.

I had my shower, breakfast and did some stuff around the kitchen. It was a little after 10 by the time I got on the PC. I was on and off the PC most of the day – which is also normal for me as I take lots of regular breaks to rest my eyes and move around a bit.

The problem was, that my wrist was still tender by afternoon. More tender than the morning actually. By late afternoon, it was downright sore and I was starting to get concerned but it was too late to head to my medical clinic to see whoever was on triage.

I could tough it out – right? I’ve been through worse. Besides I’m left handed!

I’d set potatoes out to make my oven fries to go with some baked fish for supper. I scrubbed and dried them and started to slice them. Holding the potato with my right hand as I sliced with my left was painful. My hand didn’t want to grip the potato and my wrist was screaming at me to stop the torture. I couldn’t stop though. I had to make supper and I wasn’t about to throw out a half sliced potato because it hurt to cut it. I somehow managed to keep going. I made supper and even managed to do the dishes.

The pain was getting worse, but I waited to take Tylenol until just before I went to bed so I’d hopefully get some sleep. I went to bed an hour earlier that night – around 9PM. Finding a comfortable position was not easy. I am a side sleeper but if I slept on my right side, the lower arm sort of props my body. If I laid on my left side, the right lower arm just kind of hangs over my waist or partly on another pillow. I finally managed to find a sort of comfy spot on my left side with extra pillows to lay my whole right arm on.

It wasn’t a great sleep. I woke to pain almost every time I moved – or at least it felt like it. I doubt I got more than 3 hours of disjointed sleep and finally gave up about 7:30AM. I usually get up around 8 or so on weekends. The pain was worse but I tried to do most of my stretches. I modified a few to put less strain on the wrist and skipped a couple completely. I did my three miles on the gazelle but didn’t use the arm grips for the majority of it as the movement back and forth hurt too much.

I showered, had breakfast and debated what to do. Calling a friend wasn’t really an option as most were either out of town, too far away to be of help or didn’t drive and wouldn’t be able to help. My doc's clinic was closed on weekends. Emergency rooms are often a long wait. No money for a cab and bus service there and back on a weekend isn’t great.

If I behaved and did as little with the right wrist and hand as possible, then I could tough it out till Monday morning and go see my regular doc.

Yes, I know that was crazy but I’m that stubborn. I began counting the hours till I could go see my doc.

I didn’t have anywhere to be that weekend so didn’t bother getting fully dressed. A tank top and underwear would do fine as long as I didn’t step out of the apartment! Somehow, I managed to cut up some fruit to make a couple of fruit salads for lunches over the next two days. I also managed to make a tossed salad for supper that night. I’d think about Sunday night supper on Sunday.

Sleeping Saturday night was worse than Friday. By Sunday morning, I gave up almost all my stretches. I skipped the workout and the shower. I couldn’t even straighten my thumb or index finger. Just moving the wrist or hand in almost any way hurt. It was excruciating! I finally broke down and called a gal pal who is a retired RN. She thought it might be carpal tunnel or bursitis.

Great! Like I really needed another health issue!!

Tylenol wouldn’t help as I needed an anti inflammatory. She recommended icing it for 20 minutes every few hours and resting as much as possible.

I didn’t have the anti inflammatory – nor was I going to dress to go get it. I did have a couple of soft ice packs though so did a lot of icing that day. Even managed to sleep with one on for a couple hours in the afternoon!

But silly me – insisted on making myself dinner Sunday night! I knew it would be too hot to cook the next two days so wanted stuff ready for cold plates. I’d set out pork tenderloin but that was easy enough to deal with in the oven. The “fun” part was peeling potatoes! It CAN’T be done without gripping the potato! OUCH!!! I guess it would have been less work to bake them but they had a number of eyes/spots to be removed so peeling seemed a better option to catch all the bad spots. Draining the cooked spuds could have been tricky too but I scooped them out with a slotted spoon! Doing the dishes with one hand wasn’t easy though!

I iced the wrist and hand again that evening and continued counting down the hours till I could go see my doctor. I was in bed – with an ice pack on my wrist - by 9:15 Sunday night.


Next: The Wrist - Part Two

Sunday, August 21, 2011

dn’s Fruit Crisp And Topping Mix

I recently bought a basket of fresh peaches. They were small and quite firm at the time but once they ripened – they all seemed to be ripe at once.

What to do? Well, eat some fresh of course, but also make a fruit crisp!

Almost three years ago, I posted Two Recipes For Apple Crisp. One was for MOM’S Apple Crisp which my mom always made and the other was my twist on the classic recipe called Peanut Crunch Apple Crisp.

Both versions are quite tasty and would have worked well with the peaches. But, I like to switch things up a bit once in awhile, so headed into the kitchen to see what new twist I could come up with...

I knew I didn’t have enough peaches to do a full recipe just with the ripe peaches that I had, so I added mango and apple to the fruit mix.

However, the topping was where I really got creative! The resulting topping was a mix of the traditional with the addition of ground almonds, a bit of cocoa powder and a touch of cinnamon!

One of my gal pals happened to be over the morning I baked this and she was happy to be a taste tester. She thought it was quite wonderful and very yummy! I hope you agree!

dn’s Fruit Crisp Topping

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup ground almonds (or finely chopped)
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup block margarine

Combine the first seven ingredients, then cut in the margarine and mix until well blended and mixture resembles small crumbs.

This recipe makes about 6 1/2 cups and will be enough topping to very generously do two 8X8 pans. It can also be used in smaller amounts for one to two portion crisps. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month or in the freezer for up to three months.

dn’s Fruit Crisp

3 cups sliced fresh peaches (about 12 small)
3 cups sliced fresh mango (2 large)
2 cups sliced fresh apples (2 medium)
About 3 cups of topping mix (see above recipe)

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray an 8X8 baking dish with non stick spray such as Pam. Combine fruit and spread evenly in pan. Cover with the topping mix. Do NOT pack fruit or topping down.

Bake in oven for 25 minutes and cool at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve with a spoonful of whipped topping or ice cream. Makes 6-8 servings.

- Fruit will shrink a LOT while cooking so do not worry if pan is overly full. If you want, you could place the baking dish on a cookie sheet to catch any drips you think may occur.
- The fruits used can easily be switched up in quantities but you will need about 8 cups of freshly sliced fruits for an 8X8 pan.

This is a delicious late summer dessert but can be made any time of year! It is great warm out of the oven or cold. Leftovers should be cooled to room temp then covered and stored in the fridge. Portions can be reheated in a microwave on medium power for about 60 seconds.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Folding Step Stool

When I was a kid, anytime we needed something that was higher than we could reach, we’d stand on a chair or maybe the bed. Sometimes we’d climb up on a counter or even a table if it was close enough to what we needed.

My dad had a couple of ladders but they were mostly for outside – like when he needed to get up onto the roof or fix something on the eaves trough or a high window. On occasion, he even used them to retrieve a wayward kite or ball from a tree.

I was never much for climbing – or heights for that matter, but there was one ladder that I didn’t mind using if I had to. That was the step ladder. It was sturdier than the others and you didn’t need someone else to hold onto it to keep it steady for you. It usually stayed in the garage but was brought into the house whenever my parents were painting or wallpapering.

It was a bit of a nuisance though, as even though it folded up, it was big and awkward to carry around. Mom often wished she had something smaller and lighter to get things from higher cupboards without standing on a chair.

Somewhere around 1970 or so, she finally got a folding step stool. It was a lime green colour which was popular at the time and even went with some of the other kitchen decor we had back then. None of us can remember now if she bought it herself or it was a gift of some kind, but it became a favourite thing for many in our family.

As the name implies, it could be used as both a stool and a mini ladder to stand on. We could use it to reach the things in the top shelves, change light bulbs in higher ceilings and of course to sit on.

It came in very handy when we were doing some longer jobs in the kitchen. We could sit on it while peeling or cutting produce by the sink or when there were a lot of dishes to wash. It was a nice place to sit by the counter when you were shaping umpteen dozens of cookies.

Of course it could also be used as an extra chair at the table in a pinch. Actually, I think that is where it got used the most – at least by the grandkids! As all of my nieces and nephews grew out of the high chair, they considered the step stool to be the logical next step before they graduated to the grown up chairs. Granted, we only had the one step stool so they’d have to take turns using it. Whoever didn’t get the chair had to sit on a booster of some kind in a regular chair. Over the years, there were several little arguments over who’s turn it was when they visited or stayed with grandma and grandpa!

I loved the stool and used it a lot when I was still living at home or when I’d go home on weekends. After I moved out on my own, I always meant to buy myself one but there just seemed to be other things that I needed more so never got around to buying my own.

Over the years, I often told mom that I wanted that stool someday! Well, she obviously heard me as it was one of the things that she had written down as things for me in her belongings list. She had started making this list years ago to make it easier to divide up hers and dads possessions when the time came. Kids and grandkids names were written beside a wide variety of things.

Mom hadn’t used it much over the last few years. The grandkids were all grown, moved away and raising kids of their own. They only made it back for a visit once a year or so. Mom’s mobility wasn’t as good either so she used a walker - at least part of the time. The walker had a seat built into it, so she really didn’t need the stool. Even so, I just never got around to getting it.

So, this past spring when I went out to the farm to sort through things after my mother moved to a seniors home, it was one of the things I knew I’d be bringing back with me. I didn’t find it at first, but then my gal pal spied it in a corner of the sunroom being used as a plant stand!

It wasn’t in the greatest of shape. Water had dripped down the legs and there were a few rust spots. There were stains on the vinyl seat and smudges of old dried paint in a number of places. It didn’t fold very easily.
Even so, I still wanted it. A little WD-40 would loosen up the folding mechanism and some scouring would get rid of most of the rust and paint smudges. The lime green colour – though retro – was chipped and peeling so painting it would be the best option. A fresh coat of paint and new vinyl for the seat – and voila - it would be good as new!

A few days later, I spent a couple of hours cleaning off as much paint and rust as I could. The ridged mat of the step wasn’t great but I took an old brush and cleaned it as thoroughly as I could. I bought a small can of black paint and a brush and carefully painted all of the green areas.

Now, the average person could have done the small painting job in no time, but because I am legally blind, it took quite a bit longer! I hadn’t touched a paint brush since losing sight in 1990, so my skills were even more rusty than the stool! No matter how hard I tried to keep things neat, I had to use a damp rag to clean drips off of the chrome a number of times. I had to get within a few inches of the surface to see where I was painting and since a folding stool has so many corners, angles and such – it seemed like I brushed my hair along the edge of the wet paint almost as much as if it were the brush! Okay, maybe not quite that bad but at least it was a water based latex paint!!

I did two coats, but also had to open the paint can a couple more times to touch up all the little spots I’d somehow missed. I guess I could have gotten someone to do the painting for me, but I wanted the pride of doing it myself – missed spots, smudges, painted hair and all!

The only part I didn’t attempt to do myself was the seat. I bought a piece of charcoal grey vinyl to recover the seat with but it took a while to find someone with a staple gun. I wasn’t brave - or crazy enough to try using a staple gun by myself!!
It looks great now even if I do say so myself! Sure, I could have just bought a new folding step stool for about $30-$40, but they aren’t nearly as sturdy as these older ones. It cost me about $18 for the paint, brush and vinyl. It took me about 5 hours over a few days to clean and paint. It took my friend about 10 minutes to do the seat.
I told my mom how I had fixed it up and she jokingly said she wanted it back now!

No way! It’s mine now and it will always have a lot of sentimental value!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hot Enough For Ya?

Summer officially started on June 22 and the last full day is September 21. That means there are 92 days of summer, so if you do a little calculating that would mean that we are now at the half way point - 46 down and 46 to go.

That is heartbreaking for those who enjoy the heat but for those of us who wilt in anything above 75F/24C we are relieved that we made it this far and that cooler weather is on the horizon! Of course, that is assuming that Mother Nature doesn’t decide to throw more furnace like temperatures than usual our way in the coming days and weeks!

Parts of the US have been experiencing temps well above the norm this year. Heat warnings are out in many states. My heart goes out to you! Especially those without AC – I don’t have it either so I know that dealing with the heat can be a real challenge.

Here in Manitoba, we had a hotter than normal July. Normal high is 25.8 and our average this year was 28.2 – many of those days also included high humidity which made the temps feel more like upper 30’s or even in the 40’s on a few days!

I was not a happy camper! I do not like the heat. Never have. I wilt when the temp goes above 25.

Luckily, we here in The ‘Peg are finally getting a bit of a break from the heat. Of course this may well be short lived but I plan on enjoying it while it lasts!

So to lighten the heat oppressed spirits, I’m going to use the rest of this post to share a bit of heat humour!

Please try and stay cool!


Seems like every event these days has to have a name so here are some of the online name suggestions for the heat wave:
"The Big Schvitz"
"Sweat Ceiling"
"Helter Swelter"



Ranchers in southern states hit be sweltering heat are selling fully cooked barbecue right from the livestock.

"We let the customer choose the cattle and then we hose it down with sauce and send it out into the fields. Within twenty minutes the barbecue is piping hot and ready to eat," said a Texas rancher. Barbecue restaurants are crying foul over the direct sales of the product to the public.

"This damn heat wave is killing the cattle and our business. We can't compete with the lower overhead of the rancher when we provide our customers with a table, chairs and fan as well as swat flies," said waitress Flo Moore of the "Greasy Fat Dripping Spoon" restaurant in Amarillo.


As the husband got out of the shower he said to his wife “honey, it’s too darned hot to wear clothes today, what do you think the neighbors will say if I mow the lawn naked”. “That I married you for your money”.


It was so hot....
- All the corn on the stalks started popping and flying through the air.
- Squirrels fanning their nuts.
- The potatoes cook underground and all you have to do to have lunch is to pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.
- Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard boiled eggs.
- The cows are giving evaporated milk.
- The trees are whistlin' for the dogs.
- Satan decided to take the day off.
- Even the sun was looking for some shade!
- the birds had to pick up the worms with potholders.
- I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walkin'..
- The chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs..
- Two trees fighting over a dog....
- the workers at the chicken place were jumping in the fry vat just to cool off
- I saw a fire hydrant begging a dog to pee on it.
- Hot water now comes out of both taps.
- You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.