What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Weekly round-up

Well, another week is done. Can't say that I got much accomplished. But nevertheless, it has been interesting.

First, the garden. It has been growing like crazy!


The two tomato plants are as tall as I am, and just loaded with small green tomatoes. Our plants are so large and so loaded with fruit that they overwhelmed the trellis I had them tied to, shoving it almost completely flat. I had to prop it up to keep the plants off the ground. We should be harvesting quite a few fairly soon, now that the non-stop rain seems to have finally gone away, and the sun and the heat can start them ripening. We did manage to harvest two small ripe ones a couple days ago. The Debster swears they are the best-tasting tomatoes she has had since she was a child, helping her dad pick them from their garden. Personally, I don't like tomatoes, but the Debster is more "normal" than I, so I grow them for her. And, maybe next year if I put in more than two plants, I can try making my own spaghetti sauce and stuff, which I do like. But that is for next year's blogs. Moving on ---


Two more large cucumbers here, ready to harvest. You can barely see the second one hiding below the one on top. They are now sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting for the Debster. Like the tomatoes, she loves cucumbers and I detest them. Yes, I know, I am weird!


Here are two of many small zucchini that we are watching. They have a ways to go yet, but hopefully the one plant will, in the long run, yield between 8 and 12 of them. I don't care for them raw, or even cooked in large chunks, but grated into zucchini bread and stews and stuff, they're OK.

The green pepper plant has one small fruit still growing. Going to be disappointed if that is the only one we get.  The romaine lettuce, rosemary, chives, and green onions are toast, smothered by the cukes and the zuchinni. The spinach is struggling as well. Some of the basil has fought its way through the jungle and continues to grow. 

Even if we don't get a ton of produce from this year's garden, I am "harvesting" a lot of lessons that I can apply next year. So, as in most things in life, even a "total failure", which this is not, can be a positive thing if I learn from my mistakes.

Our new puppy, Gidget, is now almost 15 weeks old. She has learned to scamper up the stairs like an old pro. Going back down them is still a bit of a problem, but she is getting better. She only falls on her nose every third step or so now. By next week I expect she'll be running down them like it was never an issue. So much fun raising a really young puppy. I haven't done this in many many years, and had forgotten how much fun it could be.

We are having vehicle problems. A few weeks ago, we had to put our 2000 S-10 Blazer in the shop; it was running horribly. No power, "service engine light", and most concerning, a bad knock in the engine. With 260,000 miles on that engine, I feared the worst. Yep, engine was shot. We thought about buying a used car, but any decent used car would cost anywhere from $4,500 on up. Which we don't have, and I refuse to go into debt. 

So I talked to Terry, the owner of the shop, who is a long-time friend of the family, about options. Rebuilding the original engine would have cost well over $2,500, and replacing it with even a rebuilt engine, not to mention a completely new one, would have cost as much as a good car. We decided to go with replacing the engine with a used one. This was done, to the tune of about $1,900 parts and labor, which we did have although it wiped out most of our savings. It did come with a 30 day warranty. The engine had 146,000 miles on it.

We got the Blazer back. For a few days, it seemed OK, other than a problem with a fuel evaporation sensor, which we got fixed. So, we took it to the park two weeks ago. Uh oh! Oil pressure bottomed out to zero! That was NOT good. Parked, let it cool a few minutes, checked the oil. It was quite low. I put oil in, and the pressure came back up. Still lower than normal, but acceptable for the moment.

As we were pulling into our driveway, the pressure went down to zero again, every time the engine dropped into idle speed. The next day, I nursed it the couple miles back to the shop. We still haven't got it back yet. Terry is making sounds about maybe having to replace the engine, and the place he got it from doesn't have a replacement on hand at the moment. I am not happy, and the Debster is semi-furious. Right now, we are forced into a wait-and-see-what-happens mode.

In addition to the car troubles, we got a letter from the IRS this week. Due to Obamacare issues, we owe them over $2,400, which must be paid in three weeks. No idea where we are going to get that money. A friend of the Debster's has offered us an interest-free personal loan with very generous repayment terms, but, like I said, I hate going into debt, especially to a very dear friend. Guess we will try to work out some kind of payment plan with the Feds.

I'm not going to get into details about my problems at work, but suffice it to say that I have to take a 3-day unpaid "vacation". My own fault, completely. But still, it comes at just the WRONG time! Losing that large of a chunk of pay is really an issue right now ...

On the positive side, the Debster's health keeps improving. Her legs are really doing well, and she is getting around pretty darned well. She still goes for exercise therapy twice a week, and it is doing wonders for her. You go, girl!

Did you all notice that photo in my blog a couple weeks ago, roasting hot dogs with my nephew? 

Do you see that gut on me? That is just plain disgusting! No wonder my back and feet hurt all the time, and that I am "pre-diabetic", and have high blood pressure, and have so many other issues. I have obviously known that I have gotten really fat, but I guess it didn't strike me as such a big issue (pun intended) until I saw this picture. I MUST do something about this, or it will eventually kill me. Literally.

So, a couple days ago, I started the Adkins diet. I did this once before, 12 or 13 years ago, and lost almost 90 pounds. Then, I did what so many others did. I went off the diet and resumed my old eating habits. I gained that 90 back, with plenty more to boot. Took time, but ... here I am, morbidly obese again. So, back to the diet, with even greater reason to stick to healthy eating habits and lifestyle.

And, beginning Tuesday, I am going to start a course of physical therapy at the place where the Debster goes. Even if my insurance doesn't cover it, it only costs $5 per session, 2 or 3 times per week. A therapist will evaluate me in detail, and set a course of supervised exercises and probably also diet. So though progress will be slow, it should be steady, and maybe a picture like this next year will show a much-different man. 

Well, that's enough for now. 

God bless you all!
Ron, and the Debster

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