Cider Press Hill

Bad habits begone

Saturday, 7:04 pm

By Kate




clear night

After the age of 40, I think our warranty expires and then it’s a long slide into broken down parts. Kind of like cars, I guess. The latest on my accruing list of broken down parts is my ulnar nerve. That’s the nerve that runs from one’s neck down through the elbow and into the hand. When it gets all upset and inflamed, it tends to manifest in pinky and ring finger numbness. Depending on the severity of the situation, permanent nerve damage is a possibility. So, it’s not a bad idea to take it a little bit seriously when it happens.

One day last week I was standing in my dining room, minding my own business, when a sharp stabbing pain hit my right arm about midway between my elbow and my shoulder. As if something was stinging me fiercely. But as I was wearing a tee shirt at the time, it was clear nothing was taking a chunk out of me. Shortly after, the pinky and ring fingers on my right hand went totally numb.

Having gone through the whole carpel tunnel syndrome thing a few years ago, resulting in some irreversible nerve damage and surgery, I thought it might be a prudent move to call the doctor. My right hand doesn’t need any more insults.

So. On Thursday, I had my appointment with a very nice doctor who specializes in these things. Ulnar neuropathy, he called it. A mild case, he said, but let’s investigate what is causing it and nip it in the bud.

Well, one possibility is the incredible whack I gave my elbow a few days prior. But probably not the main cause. More like the final insult to an already jangled nerve. When he asked me about my computer use and set-up, I think he blanched a little bit when I described it. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been using a table that was never designed to be a desk and it was too high. I knew that. But I didn’t have anything else for the space and it seemed to work okay. Until it didn’t, obviously.

I gave my poor old ulnar nerve a double whammy by compressing it at the elbow and at my wrist. Leaning on my elbow is a favorite way of spending time reading the screen, with my wrist draped over the edge of the desk for my mousing.

So this nice doctor took me to a room where there was a properly set up (i.e. ergonomically correct) office space. I got to show him all my bad habits and he got to show me all the good ones that I was about to adopt. Let’s just say that I enjoy my bad habits and adopting proper new ones takes practice and patience.

Yesterday I went out and bought a new desk. Not one that I particularly like, but it’s ergonomically correct and it fits the space. Eventually, maybe I’ll find one that I do like, but I needed something now. Mainly what I don’t like about it is that it isn’t comfortable. I can’t lean on my elbow. I have to sit up straight. I can’t sit cross legged in my chair anymore. There is nothing to slouch on or against. And my mouse is placed where I can’t drape my wrist over the edge of the desk, not that I could anyway even if I wanted to. The desk is too low for that. Bleh. I like my bad habits. But, as the good doctor said, bad habits can be unlearned and new ways of doing things will be become new and loved habits. They will become comfortable. It’s like breaking in a new pair of shoes or something.

Already there has been a marked improvement in my numb fingers. They aren’t as numb now. It’ll take a little while for it to go away completely. I also have to wear an elbow splint at night—really annoying. Sleeping without bending my elbow is SO not comfortable, but it’s not forever. Today my fingers are less numb than they were yesterday. More tingly than numb, now. But I don’t like that feeling, either. The nerve running between my elbow and wrist itches today. And my elbow is sore. That’s a good sign that means things are on the mend, I’m told. So...I’ll carry on with learning my new habits without too much complaint. It beats the alternatives. Maybe I’ll even grow to love my new desk, too.

What I really appreciate, though, is my body’s capacity to repair itself. Bless its little heart.


Fingernails down a blackboard

Thursday, 1:37 pm

By Kate





The news has been making my head spin lately. Can hardly keep up with all the shenanigans in Washington. Once upon a time that’s all I blogged about, but blogging about politics with this administration is a full time job. I raise my glass to those who have done so. The main stream media have not exactly distinguished themselves. I’d like to see someone at Firedoglake or Talking Points Memo get the recognition for independent reporting that they so richly deserve. Like...oh...maybe a Pulitzer. It is time for the Pulitzer rules to expand to include independent on-line journalism and investigative reporting. I believe that Joseph Pulitzer would approve.


In the category of Holding My Nose While Reading…

The renowned US Christian, James Dobson, has announced that potential/possible Presidential Candidate, former Senator Fred Thompson, is not a Christian. You read that correctly. James Dobson doesn’t believe Fred Thompson is a Christian. Dobson’s spokesman explains that only evangelical Christians get the appellation “Christian”. It’s not that Thompson is a non-Christian, but he doesn’t get out there and openly talk about his faith. So, too bad for Fred. He evidently isn’t going to get an endorsement from the religious right if Dobson has any influence remaining.

But Newt Gingrich is a Good Christian. He’s on Dobson’s Good Christian list. Dobson likes him very much.

It makes you wonder...many things.

Thought you’d like to know.

(via Americablog)

That’s about all I can stomach for now. 


Pet Food Recall

Wednesday, 4:08 pm

By Kate





A few days ago, I stumbled across information regarding the current pet food recall. I did not realize before that ONE company, Menu Foods Income Fund, produced and packaged pet foods under 95 different labels, including some high end premium brands like Science Diet, Iams, and Eukanuba.

When I first read about it, it seemed that the problem was contained and if the foods we were feeding our pets weren’t on the recall list, we and ours were pretty safe. And then I noted that a few more pet foods had been added—something like 40 brands of cat food and 48 brands of dog food now. And then I noted that the death toll from the tainted foods seemed to be a lot higher than the 16 or so that were being “officially” reported. Like...scores higher. Or hundreds.

One of the things about the internets is that people talk and information gets out.

The most recent information being publicly released is that the recalled pet foods had been tainted with rat poisoning. But Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Science released a pdf information file, updated yesterday, which claims that there is still no conclusive causative agent. They’ve been asked to help solve the mystery. I don’t think this is over by a long shot.

It’s frightening. I think the foods I feed Abbie and Terry are okay. There have been no problems so far and their foods (Purina One) aren’t on the recall list, but in the absence of definitive conclusions, it’s still rattling. And it’s downright scary when I consider that some of these recalled brands are foods that my vet tried to get me to feed them. I mean, that’s no reflection on my vet, but I’m glad I didn’t take her advice on this one.

There are a lot of scared people and with a whole lot of good reason. News has not been very forthcoming and the media have been late in showing much interest. If it wasn’t for the subject coming up on a blog, I might still not know about it. How many people still don’t know about it? are some links that talk about it. There’s a lot of heartbreak involved in some of them. It makes you realize that the problem is not under control yet. And we are still a long way from knowing how or why it happened.

Menu Food Income Fund Pet Food Recall List (Does anyone else feel as creeped out by a pet food processing and packaging outfit calling itself an Income Fund?)
Itchmo, a cool, mostly dog-blog, where I learned about the recall and began following links. Blog
Pet Connection
Safe Pet Food blog
A really interesting Missouri newspaper article, dated March 21, that treats the whole thing rather cavalierly with very little usable information and with what hints at ass covering.
A PetSmart PDF file listing the recalled foods that they carry.
Vetcetera, a vet’s blog.
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine - what they have to say.
Toronto Star article suggesting the tainted food is also affecting Canadian pets.
St Louis Dispatch article counting at least 471 cases of pet kidney failure related to the tainted pet foods.


Not so instant gratification

Tuesday, 4:09 pm

By Kate





One of the lessons with borrowing books from the library is getting over instant gratification. Ordinarily, if I really want a book, I can go to the bookstore and buy it. Or they will order it for me and the book arrives within a day or two. But I have a tiny house and I’m running out of room.

Therefore, my new policy is to borrow books from the library and if it’s a book I want to revisit time and again, then I’ll buy it to add to my library. That will at least slow the pace of new additions. Because I don’t foresee a time when I’m ever going to stop buying books altogether.

Then again, my good intentions sometimes run smack into a brick wall. I want to read Barbara Kingsolver’s book entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. My library system has exactly one copy of this book and I am 14th on the waiting list. How long d’ya think it’ll be before I can get my hands on it? My reservation request expires in March of 2008, if that’s any hint.

It’s possible that I might hate the book, but not likely. It’s also possible that I might not want to read it again after the first time. But I want it. If not precisely now, then at least sometime before the next dozen grey hairs grow on my head.




Tuesday, 2:54 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

My darling child called me a while ago to inquire how the fort is holding while he’s away. I told him that I thought I was doing an able job of things. And then he asked, “What’s the weather like?”

I knew where that was going, having looked at the weather in his neck of the woods earlier today.

“You’re calling to gloat, aren’t you?” I asked.

“Oh, you bet,” he said.

Here, we’re still struggling with mid-40s temps and he’s running around in shorts and a tee shirt in 79° weather. What a difference a couple hundred miles makes. I am pea green with envy.

The ocean will keep us cool for a while yet. And I know darned well that I shouldn’t complain about it, because when it heats up, things will be hot and humid and mosquito-y. But gosh. They have crocus and daffodils in bloom there.


Monday diversions

Monday, 12:59 pm

By Kate





Coupla weeks ago, I bought a bag of Sorrento string cheese at the grocery store. It wasn’t until I got home and opened the first little string cheese that I realized it was a kid-pack and each little package contained a trivia question. Well, that’s fun. Reminds me of the new show ‘Are you smarter than a 5th grader?’ which is probably fun in concept, but man do they reel in silly people who distinguish themselves for silliness in front of millions of viewers. But I digress.

After a few days, I’d stored up enough questions to pose to the fine assemblage of folks who read this blog. I think they’re pretty easy questions, but I couldn’t answer a couple of them (like #s 1 and 10!). Answers below the fold.

1. Which is the only animal born with horns on its forehead in both genders?

2. A carnivorous animal will not eat another animal if it has been struck by what?

3. What animal’s horn is made of matted hair?

4. Which fruit has more vitamin C than an orange?

5. Which animal squeezes its eyes when it is happy?

6. What substance found in most kitchens can melt pearls?

7. Which animal has an IQ surpassed only by monkeys, chimps, and humans?

8. Why do cats bathe themselves immediately after they eat?

9. Which 3 animals move their front and hind legs on one side, then on the other when walking?

10. What is the only city where all major sports teams have the same colors?


It is, once again, time to track the northern migration of Hummingbirds in the United States (and Canada). We have a few weeks to go before they’ll be in my back yard. They’ve only made it to southern Virginia, so far.


I noticed this morning that the mockingbirds are back and busy building (or rebuilding) their nest in a shrub out in front of the house. Once again, they beat me to it. I really need to trim that thing with the hedge clippers, but doing so now might drive the birds away. Or, more likely, they’d drive me away with aggressive dive bombs if I got within five feet of the nest. I’ll have to wait until they are finished raising their family now. And then hope that the annual hornet’s nest isn’t reclaimed and active by then. It’s a very busy shrub.


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