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Monday, September 29, 2014

Tick Tock, the Giveaway Knocks

Very few entries coming in. I'm chalking it up to the fact that I gave such a long deadline, but if it turns out there isn't enough interest I'll cancel the giveaway. 

I don't want people to be afraid to sign up for the newsletter either. Knowing me, the chances are good you might see one newsletter a year just to announce I'm still alive and kicking.

This brings me to a strange conundrum with the rise of the internet. I have so many online friends. Every so often one of them becomes very ill--or worse, dies. I don't like to bug people but on the other hand, I worry when it becomes too long since I'd seen them around the net.

Is there a proper length of time to wait before you inquire whether that person is alive and well? Have you ever been surprised to hear about a friend's poor health or untimely death?

Spread the word about the giveaway!  
Enter now and beat the rush. :o)


The Great Design Giveaway
• Four Winners
• Prizes: Two digital covers, One web site banner, One bookmark/postcard
• Promotion Ends October 12, 2014

Need a book cover? How about a header for your web site? Or a postcard? Then you're in luck! If you've never tried me, or even if you have, here's your chance to try your luck on getting one of these projects designed for FREE by a professional graphic designer.  

Rules 
• First, sign up for my newsletter.
• If you want to win one of the prizes, send me a short blurb for your book, or a short description of what you'd like to see on your web site banner or bookmark/postcard.

Subscribe and Enter here.

Put Great Design Giveaway in the subject line.

I will choose the winners based on which description wows me into inspiration fastest. 

The Small Print 
 • All designs are limited to the art stock I have on hand. (Don’t worry. It’s a big library.)
• Cover art is for digital only.
• Web site banner is for design only. You’ll have to provide the size specifications and upload it to your site. This can be a banner for Facebook, blog, or personal web site.
• Bookmark/postcard  is for a two-sided layout.
• Winners are not obligated to accept the layout I design, but they are allowed minor changes.
• All designs will be showcased on my gallery wall.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Great Design Giveaway


The Great Design Giveaway
• Four Winners
• Prizes: Two digital covers, One web site banner, One bookmark/postcard
• Promotion Ends October 12, 2014

Need a book cover? How about a header for your web site? Or a postcard? Then you're in luck! If you've never tried me, or even if you have, here's your chance to try your luck on getting one of these projects designed for FREE by a professional graphic designer.  

Rules 
• First, sign up for my newsletter.
• If you want to win one of the prizes, send me a short blurb for your book, or a short description of what you'd like to see on your web site banner or bookmark/postcard.

Subscribe and Enter here.

Put Great Design Giveaway in the subject line.

I will choose the winners based on which description wows me into inspiration fastest. 

The Small Print 
 • All designs are limited to the art stock I have on hand. (Don’t worry. It’s a big library.)
• Cover art is for digital only.
• Web site banner is for design only. You’ll have to provide the size specifications and upload it to your site. This can be a banner for Facebook, blog, or personal web site.
• Bookmark/postcard  is for a two-sided layout.
• Winners are not obligated to accept the layout I design, but they are allowed minor changes.
• All designs will be showcased on my gallery wall. 

Newsletter Details 
• The newsletter will be sent out quarterly (unless something BIG happens).
• There won’t be any fluff in it. Just useful information and newsy stuff.
• The first newsletter won't be released until January 2015. 

Want to see more of what I can do? Check out the Gallery. This will give you some idea of my style and scope.

All winners will be announced on October 15, 2014. Winners will receive their design prizes no later than December 30, 2014.

Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck!


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Great Purge of 2014

For the last three weeks, I have methodically severed myself from anything I didn't truly need or love.

Greg is a big-time pack rat, but I'm just as guilty--albeit to a much lesser degree. With everything stacking against us for the last few weeks, I decided it was a good time to release myself from the past. I needed to lighten the load.

If I didn't throw it away, I gave it away. The rest has been stored in Greg's workshop for a monster garage sale set for whenever he comes home for good. (No way am I doing this one alone.)

I am done collecting stuff. All my life I've hung on to these little bits of this or that thinking I'll use them someday, but reality finally sunk its teeth.


Let's face it, I was never going to turn those nice bed sheets into dinner napkins. I don't sew, so who am I kidding? I don't have the slightest talent for needle and thread even if I did have delusions of Martha Stewart.
Nana when she's not a blur.

And all that furniture we had bought over the years to furnish two homes? Most of it is now awaiting the garage sale to end all garage sales. If it doesn't sell, it'll go straight to Goodwill. I'm not keeping anything I don't truly love. 

(I guess that means Nana is staying too.)

I was just as ruthless with my email. I deleted close to 6,000 unread emails. Most of them were from groups that post several times a day, but I finally admitted to myself I was never going to go back and read those things. 

I deleted all my emails from my old newsletter job. After six years it was time to let them go. I have no plans to go back. Enough time has elapsed that the new newsletter editor can handle it from here on out.

In short, I divorced myself from anything that had worn out its welcome.

It was liberating, but also a little scary. I've never been this fierce about letting go.

I'm not sure if combining two households pushed me over the edge, or if deep down I felt it was time to let our stuff be loved by someone else. 

If it weren't for Greg, I probably would've unloaded way more stuff, but he's on a 12-step program for pack-rattery. It's much harder for him to let go. :grin:

There are more deletions, purges, cleanses, and exorcisms in the future. I want a fresh start.

Have you ever done a purge? Was it draining or cathartic?
I promise to take pictures when I set up my garage sale. It will be AWESOME in scope and size.


In other news: My mother is in a convalescent home for physical therapy. She's got another week there and then they'll let her go home.

Maggie is doing great after her run in with Nana. And Nana, that little monster, has been good as gold since we had a 'come to Jesus meeting' between us. 

Maybe this is a sign that things are getting back to normal. I hope so.

Monday, September 15, 2014

State of the Homestead

I can't say that everything is running smoothly yet, but I feel better knowing that Maggie has healed nicely. Even the vet was impressed with her recovery.

Still, I'm not out of the woods. I have one more family member keeping me on edge.

Today, my mom is having surgery to replace one of her knees. She's elderly, so I'm naturally worried for someone her age to be anesthetized. The whole family is on a call tree so we can get the latest updates. I won't know until later today how she fared.

I called her yesterday just to touch base and to let her know she's in my thoughts.

State of the Homestead

Garden: The spring garden was only so-so, but it came back to life a couple of weeks ago when the grasshoppers made their exit. I'm a little concerned for the watermelon patch because I'm not sure there are enough warm weather months to see them all the way through, but I think we can make up a tent for them and keep them warm.

I've planted a fall garden of winter squash, beets, carrots, bok choy, kale, garlic, onion, and Brussels sprouts, along with the existing tomato and pepper plants that are still blooming.

Heidi doing what she does best: Eating
Goats: Everyone is doing great. I probably won't try to breed them for a few more months. I'd like Pandora (the youngest) a little older before she mates. This next season will tell whether we keep these girls or trade them in for pure dairy goats. Only Heidi has been amenable to letting me milk her, but that could be due more to my inexperience than the goats. As a rule, boer goats are not great milkers and I'd really like to make cheese.

Chickens: Oh, those girls! The Marans have been a pain. They have a bad habit of eating their eggs. Despite my efforts, I might have to start over with new chicks and put these girls in the pot. We can't have egg-eaters in the coop. It's a bad habit, one they can teach to new chickens.

The black Astralorps give me no trouble, and they lay like clockwork.
Living indoors

Rabbits: I'm at a loss to find the right male for these girls. They are quickly becoming pets which is kind of a no-no for a farmstead. They've been living in my house for the last two months to spare them the brutal summer heat, but it's cool enough now to allow them back outside.

Reality: We eat meat. The dogs eat meat. So I don't make any apologies for raising my farm animals for food. It's part of daily life here. Although I don't discuss it much, some of you have emailed me asking how we dispatch the animals. Since this isn't a full time homesteading blog, I don't think it's necessary to go into detail, but if you're interested in the process (especially if it's research for a book) feel free to write me and I'll answer as best I can.

Conservation: We live in a drier climate than our home in southeast Texas so we've taken steps to tighten our water consumption. This includes rain water storage and drip irrigation directly at the base of the plants. It's a work in progress but this should save many, many gallons of water. I'm awed by Greg's engineering skills to get this done.

Happiness is a (mostly) full hay shed.
Last year I ran short of hay for the goats and I had to buy it for twice the price from a feed store. I usually buy it direct from the farmer. 

This year I was able to calculate more accurately how much hay I need to make it until the next hay cutting season. It's critical that goats get good hay and I take their nutrition seriously. 

Goats don't need high quality hay (like horses do) but they do need clean hay that's not full of weeds and dust. I was very angry at one farmer who sold me hay that was full of thorny burs. Never again.

Iko never gives me trouble.
Da dogs: Aside from the calamity Nana caused, all is well. Tank is still hanging on. His hips and hocks are fragile and I almost always have to help him up. He's such a big dog, I worry that I might not be able to lift him one day, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. For now we're keeping him comfortable.

If I can get my mom back on her feet and we can finish this year without any more incidents, I'll be happy. After that, my only goal is to sell Greg's house and get him up here as soon as possible.



2014 has been a struggle, but I still have hope that it'll all work out in the end.

How has the year panned out for you? Easy or hard?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Maggie, Post Op

Just a quick post since I'm busier than a one armed paperhanger--which is pretty accurate since I'm still sore from the chomp on my arm.

I brought Maggie home with a bag full of drugs and instructions to flush out the wound several times a day. 

Even though I had cleaned and dressed the wound the day of the incident, I didn't inspect the surrounding area since it wasn't the part bleeding. 

It was only when I gave her a bath several days later that I noticed all the bruising under her wet fur. I also noticed that an existing lipoma seemed much larger. At first I didn't notice the lump because Maggie has a tendency to sit funny due to her arthritis and her shoulder rides up at that point. It was only when I had her wet that I could examine her better.

I called my regular vet and he was double-booked. I called another vet we liked but she was gone for the week. I called yet another vet, but he was booked too. Finally, I found one I didn't know existed even though I'd driven past there several times. They took us in.

Being an emergency drop-in, I think they padded the bill a bit, but after some discussion, they lowered it by almost $200. I'll do anything for my kids but I refuse to be gouged for frivolous add-ons.

Aside from that, I was pleased with the vet and the staff. I was also pleased that they didn't hesitate to answer my questions entirely. Most vets don't like their actions or drug choices challenged, but I've been around the block too many times, and I know my dogs and what they can handle.



Maggie looks pretty bad because of the drip tubes and the oozing, but she's actually in great spirits. 

Right now everywhere she lies down looks like a crime scene when she gets up because she leaves bloody stains everywhere. But floors can be washed and rugs can be cleaned.

She looks a little down in the mouth here but it's all an act. Right after this pitiful display she hopped up and trotted after Tank.

The old girl has been getting extra treats, and I take her and Tank for an 'old folks walk' where they can wander without being knocked down by my two tornadoes, Iko and Nana.

Nana knows I'm still angry at her and she's been doing her best to get back into my good graces. I think I'll let her stew a little longer.

Other stuff: My internet woes continue. Now my email is acting up. I can receive email, but I can't send it--at least not by regular channels. If you've tried to reach me and I haven't answered, try reaching out through Facebook. If I'm on, I usually see the message icon.

PS  Whoever is pounding a voodoo doll of me over a rock, you can stop now. Whatever I did wrong, I'm sorry. Uncle!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Maggie Safe After Surgery

If my track record continues I might not post Monday, but first I want to tell you why.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook saw the post where I had a bad week, ending with me intervening between Nana and Maggie and earning a chomp on the arm for my efforts.

I'm fine, but Maggie got the short end of the stick. She outweighs Nana by almost 50 pounds but she's no match against saber-tooth Nana. 

Anyway, I'd been keeping an eye on Maggie's wound. Even though I cleaned and dressed it, I wasn't happy with the continuing swelling and oozing. I called my vet but he was double-booked so I had to search for another vet.

I finally found one who could see us and she immediately recommended surgery. I got a phone call a few minutes ago. The surgery is over. There were only three puncture wounds, but Nana managed to traumatize an existing lipoma so much that she caused internal damage to the tissue--shredding it.

Poor Maggie is sleeping it off right now, two drain tubes in her wound. I get to pick her up tomorrow.

This week has been a continuation of last week. Nothing has gone right for two solid weeks. And now I'm 500 bucks poorer. I ought to make Nana get a job.

Maggie is such a sweet soul. Nana is a wasp.

I'm sure you guys have seen this on Facebook. Fits Nana to a tee. Her nickname is now Wasp.