Update on SwampMan’s Bionic Knees

As y’all recall, SwampMan had a knee replacement in late December (we came home on Christmas day!) and at the end of March. Sorry I haven’t been more timely for those of you that may be considering joint replacement surgery. This is the almost seven month update for the right knee, and almost four month update for the left knee.

SwampMan was still having problems with pain upon walking any appreciable distance at 8 weeks postop which was the beginning of his summer vacation. Part of that may have been due to simple deconditioning; he had gotten to the point where he could barely hobble with the assistance of a cane and had to use a wheelchair if we went grocery shopping together. Due to that residual pain at the end of May, he still wanted to park in a handicapped space to minimize his walking. Unfortunately for him, I threw his permit away and told him he wasn’t handicapped anymore.

He came in this Monday afternoon when he’d been at his school and told me that, as a result of construction at the school and parking lots being closed, he’d walked a considerable distance. “I haven’t been able to walk like that in years!” he said in amazement. “And I noticed the other day when I was climbing on and off the tractor several times, it didn’t hurt at all! I was able to walk with you through Sam’s Club, too, and it wasn’t nearly as hard the second time as the first time!”

“So, your knee pain is completely gone?” I asked.

“I do get some pain when I’m standing in one place for a long time and then I have to sit down, but I feel no pain when I’m moving. It’s just incredible how much better it is!”

So there you have it. He highly recommends Dr. Heekin and the Heekin Orthopaedic Group. I’m not sure how much weight he’s lost, but his former shirts and pants just hang on him. It isn’t from dieting, it’s from being able to WALK! Instead of being a couch lump, he’s usually outside mowing grass or fixing things all day long now.

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Staying Up Waaaaay Too Late

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We Really Should Pay Rent For Our Table

KC and I had breakfast again before she headed back to the west side of Florida. She was under strict orders from her husband to leave by 10:00 a.m. so she would miss driving through any late afternoon thunderstorms that might pop up on the way.

As usual, she was a delicate, lovely little flower dressed all in white. As usual, I was dressed in denim with splotches of mud (and probably chicken shit). We’d had a series of terrific thunderstorms the night before, and I raced to the restaurant after feeding livestock.

Maybe I should have checked little Zoe’s purse before we took her home yesterday because I couldn’t find my keys, although I am perfectly capable of misplacing my keys all by myself. I put them in the fridge if I have them in my hand while putting away groceries. I run them through the laundry. Mostly, if I bring them inside, I casually toss them on my desk, where little Zoe has been playing with her dinosaurs all week. Then I had to roust SwampMan because I needed his keys to his vehicle. After thinking it through when I got home, I realized I had driven SwampMan’s truck last because of groceries, grandchildren, and rain (his truck has a back seat, mine doesn’t). Since I didn’t need to unlock the door and was carrying groceries and grandchildren, I’d left them in his truck. SwampMan will not be caught dead with keys on a hot pink lanyard. I looked inside the console, and there they were! Little Zoe is innocent (this time).

As per usual, I shoveled in a breakfast that would put Godzilla into a somnolent slumber, while KC nibbled daintily around the edges of hers. For the first time in a long while, we had no children at our table, so the exchange of opinions may have been a little more forceful than usual.

It was great fun. Despite there being only two at our table, I’m pretty sure we were the most raucous group. It was much different than last time, when KC brought along a guest that was riding with her to the other side of Florida. She’d warned me ahead of time about the lady’s liberal leanings so that I would behave myself verbally, so I was almost on my best behavior. I’d much rather be on my worst behavior.

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“When I Grow Up, I’m Going to be a Babysitter!”

“MeeMaw, when I grow up, I’m going to be a babysitter!” Zoe told me while she was playing with Play-Doh (pink, of course). “I will change her clothes, feed her, wash her, and change her diaper!” Apparently Zoe will only babysit little girls when she grows up.

“MeeMaw, when you grow up, you should be a babysitter, too! It will be fun!”

“I dunno. I think I want to be a cowboy when I grow up!” I told her. “NO! I want to be a fireman! No, I mean fire girl. And when Mommy and you grow up, you can be fire girls too!” So when Zoe grows up, and her mommy and I grow up, we can all be fire girls together, ride in a fire truck, and squirt fires with hoses. Hunh. I will be sliding down the pole to leap into the firetruck when I’m 70ish. I might better up my workout regimen from not at all to occasionally.

“Can we be babysitter fire girls? Can we squirt the babies with hoses?” I asked hopefully, which probably means that I will never be allowed to be a babysitter. I’m sure the government is putting this in a file on me somewhere.

“NO, MeeMaw! Hoses are ONLY for FIRES, not babies!”

“MeeMaw, there’s an antfly!”

“Well, I need to see what an antfly looks like. Where is it?”

“I don’t know! I think it abra cadabra itself, and now it invisible.”

Don’t you just hate it when antflies do that?

Guess it’s time to go to the grocery store because Zoe is crying. It seems Dylan abra cadabrad her into a frog with her magic dragonfly wand. Stuffed animals are flying, and it is only a matter of moments before something gets broken, or SwampMan is smacked in the face by a flying monkey while he naps.

They’re going back to Mommy and Daddy tomorrow, and there will be no antflies, or magic wands, or stuffed animal wars or wide awake children at 1 a.m. This time around, I savor childhood for I know how fleeting it is.

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Now Why Didn’t I Think of That?

Three-year-old granddaughter didn’t take a midday nap today, so I expected she’d fall asleep early in exhaustion after a long day. But nooooo. At 11:30 p.m., she was still chattering away in the kitchen about who she was going to marry when she grows up (that would be everybody in her family), how she wants a pirate ship and I need to build her one, and she wants a castle big enough for her, her youngest big brother, and myself to live in. And yes, that castle is to be built by me, too.

I told her she needed to get some rest and grabbed a flashlight to go outside. “Why you goin’ outside inna dark, MeeMaw?”

“I’m going out to find Momma Kitty. Her eyes don’t work very well anymore, and she sometimes can’t find her way onto the porch to get her food at night”, I explained.

“Oh, her eye batteries are broken?”

Oh, dear. How should I answer that? “Uh, yes, that’s it, her eye batteries are broken.”

“Well, you should go to the store amorrow and get her new ones, MeeMaw.”

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Happy First Tuesday in July

Our 3-year-old granddaughter has been walking around the house this morning with various stuffed animals under her shirt, proclaiming that she has a baby in her tummy and the doctor must cut it out. I am the doctor assigned to cutting open the tummy and delivering the baby to the waiting arms of the Momma. After delivering ten or so babies, I became the babysitter because Mommy decided that she had to return to work. Or maybe it was because I pulled out a needle and thread and said it was time for the doctor to sew up that tummy!

“Why not Papa? Why not let him take care of the babies while you are at work?” I inquired curiously. “No. Papa will scare the babies wif his TEEF!” Papa found his novelty snaggle teeth last night which he and our 7-year-old grandson both find absolutely hilarious. The 3-year-old granddaughter found them terrifying. She refused to hug or kiss her Papa goodnight for fear those teeth might suddenly appear again. She will not go near him this morning. She has neither forgiven nor forgotten.

In the meantime, SwampMan is losing his shit over various hoops of stupid he’s being required to jump through. He’ll read me a sentence composed of feel-good bureaucrat speak and scream at me “But what does that MEAN?” He’s on a completion deadline.

“Why are you asking ME?” I demand. “I’m not a member of The Borg any longer!”

“I’m asking you because of your expertise at translating bullshit!” Hunh. Seems I do speak a second language fluently.

Poor man is hopeless at this type of thing regardless of how many times I’ve explained that his responses don’t have to make actual sense, just contain the approved buzz words, preferably those contained in the senseless questions. I could explain this to him again, but he would accuse me of cynicism. Again. And he would be right. But so would I.

SwampMan lost patience with his bureaucratic joust and he and 7-year-old grandson have gone on a Man Quest to Home Depot. After they get back, they’re going to do Man Things at the Man Barn. We have been cautioned by 7-year-old grandson to Stay Clear on account of the probability of being bitten by snakes, cut by jagged metal or broken glass, or expiring via some other method. They’re going to Clean the Barn (no girls wanted, men only!) then build some new window screens.

Update: Zoe brought her Papa a LOT of stuffed animals this evening. “These are fo’ you to sweep wif!” she explained. Papa told her no, it was okay, she could sleep with her babies. He did not need them. “Yes, Papa! They are fo’ YOU. I sweep wif yo’ TEEF!” So she traded Papa her favorite stuffed animals for his scary snaggle-tooth teeth. Apparently those teeth are a sure talisman against monsters, bad guys, bald men, and spiders that may come creeping in the night.

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Dysfunctional Chicken Behavior

Arch had a question regarding a hen “sitting” on phantom eggs in the comments on a post below, so I thought I’d expand a bit on my answer to him, to wit: Chickens do some weird shit.

Hens, in the throes of wannabe motherhood and no eggs, will try to incubate rolls of tape, bottles of oil, stones, shoes, baseballs, tennis balls, boxes of nails or screws, any other egg-shaped or non-egg-shaped item you can imagine and some you don’t, or sometimes nothing at all.

The upside to this nonsense is that if there are orphan chicks or ducklings about, these girls make excellent, excellent foster mommas. The downside is that it is hard to change their behavior* until their urge to mother has been satisfied or expires, and sometimes crazy-ass hen will expire on a nest of non-hatchable things like light bulbs that were placed in the trash can in the barn before she is found and shooed away.

I currently have two pens of chicks being raised by high-motherhood-drive-but-no-eggs hens. One was in the sheep barn and wouldn’t leave my duct tape alone and, when I finally tossed the duct tape, she sat on imaginary eggs and wasted away. She’s a very happy mother to my incubator chicks. I unceremoniously removed her from the barn one day, put her in a pen with a 5-gallon bucket on its side for a “nest”, and stuck ten chicks under her wings. This is usually best accomplished at night so she *thinks* they hatched out overnight by morning, but not necessary in her case.

Another happy mother apparently had no eggs of her own, so she tried to drive a duck away from her ducklings and take them as her own. She succeeded with one duckling, so I put her in a pen with “her” duckling, some leftover standard-sized incubator chicks, and some bantam chicks I’d rescued from the nest of yet another duck. (Duck mothers love their chicks just like their ducklings, and take them swimming. This never ends well.) The hen/duck mothering without human intervention usually ends in tears as well for all concerned. Ducks grow in size much more quickly than the chicks, but they develop feathers much LESS quickly. Four-week-old chicks are feathered and can do some flying, four-week-old ducks are not and cannot. You can imagine the frustration of both when the hen is calling her ducklings to roost up in the top of the tree and ducklings have no flight feathers.

How do ducks end up hatching out chicks? Well, often the hens and ducks will just use a common (hidden) nest until somebody decides to incubate the eggs. Since ducklings have a week-longer incubation period than chicks, either the duck eggs will die and the chicks will survive, or the duck eggs will be incubated to completion and the chicks will die of starvation (or swimming). Sometimes a duck and hen will incubate the eggs together.

Why in the world would ducks and hens cooperatively incubate eggs since it doesn’t end happily? Well, in my world, I often end up with bereft orphans of both hens and ducks. Resulting orphans are raised together as siblings because I’m either too lazy or too busy to set up separate facilities. When sitting on nests, sometimes mothers and daughters co-incubate. Sometimes sisters co-incubate. Sharing a nest and parental responsibilities gives a greater chance of survival to the young. Since I often have hens and ducks raised as “sisters”, it is not surprising that they will cooperate to hatch eggs together.

All of my poultry would appear to need therapy.

And speaking of needing therapy and dysfunctional survival strategies, the hen that had been concealing her nest underneath SwampMan’s toolbox in the back of his truck has continued to do so no matter how many times we’ve removed the eggs or SwampMan has reached under his toolbox and flung her across the yard. Can you imagine driving down a highway, minding your own business when, suddenly, a chicken flies out of the truck ahead of you and impacts your windshield at a speed of, say, 70 mph? I could imagine that happening. I don’t remember that being covered under an insurance policy. I don’t think I want to call State Farm and ask.

That is why said chicken is currently imprisoned in a 5-gallon bucket on the porch on top of her eggs. I found her in the back of the truck AGAIN trying to hatch out eggs, but I had other uses in mind for the truck and a 3-week hiatus for chick production was out of the question. I’ll build her a more suitable habitat for her eggs than bucket on porch or bed of truck today, depending on how much help I get from grandchildren. The more help I get, the longer it will take. Maybe, maybe, MAYBE if she successfully incubates those eggs, she’ll stay away from the truck in the future. Or at least for the summer.

*Changing their behavior usually means changing their environment so that they don’t have a secluded nest to brood various eggs or replacement eggs in. Physically removing her from her chosen nest site and keeping her away in confinement for a few days to weeks will usually suffice.

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