“I saw it on Pinterest.”

No! No! No! No! I’m not going to do it. I am NOT pushing that Pinterest app icon. Pinterest got me into this mess in the first place. Why didn’t I just order a cake? We live within 40 miles of some of the world’s best cake shops. Sure the drive is time consuming and the idea of transporting a cake without melting, dropping, sliding or dumping it is nerve wrecking and the cost for a decent sized cake (to feed 80+) feels more like a car payment than a cake purchase these days, but for the love of all things beautiful – what possessed me to decided that since I “had the pans” that I could take on such a feat?!!

Oh yah… Pinterest.

One night on Pinterest and I was ready to melt down the plastic to make the cake topper party animals myself. What the heck was I thinking? And no – I didn’t even have all the pans I needed. I have decorated one cake in the past 13 years. One. And it turned out so lopsided that I modified it at the last minute to make it look like I did it intentionally. I haven’t baked or decorated a cake like this EVER.

img_4022-3https://pin.it/gzxe4iruumaxou

It seemed so simple at the time. A glass of wine, a few inspiration Pinterest pins and the ideas began flowing. A tiered cake, it had to be tiered… And different cake flavors and filling combinations for each layer – oh, and look at those cupcakes! I’d make those, too! Ombré icing is a must. Oh my gosh – look at those party animal cake toppers! How hard could that be? So perfect and adorable!

https://pin.it/v2kaer5rwlc6oq

https://pin.it/7xtpecb4t6z32z

Before I knew it, my pinning had spiraled out of control and I had masterminded an impossible but beautiful birthday cake: it would be layered with a lemon poppyseed cake with lemon filling, white cake with raspberry filling, red velvet cake with cream cheese filling and surrounded by a ton of very cute chocolate on chocolate cupcakes decorated like horses. The cake would be dark to light pink ombré rosettes from the base up to the top where it would display a group of party animals, complete with celebration banner and party hats. (Squeal!) Thank you, Pinterest! It was going to be amazing and a perfect surprise for my dear friend!

https://pin.it/pkmpm3theu77hh

Uh-huh.

What the @*$# was I thinking??! I’m a nurse, for crying out loud! It would be nice if Pinterest provided some sort of warning, like those annoying web pop-up ads, just to remind me that hey, I’m no where near a professional baker with any substantial experience or knowledge to pull something like this off – but no. I was pretty sure I could do ANYTHING with my new Pinterest “Cake Board” for inspiration.

A few days into it and my optimism faded. When I had to go to the specialty store to purchase additional cake pans, I knew I was in over my head. I kept having flashbacks to the epic moment in Top Gun when Tom Cruise’s character is being told, “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!”

So was I.

What do you mean I need cake supports? And how, exactly, do I store this cake until the party? And how do I stack the tiers again? I’ve never made a rosette in my life and how am I going to pull off ombré anything?! The idea of making tiny party hats for a bunch of plastic animals has GOT to be borderline psychotic.

My anxiety was nearing the panic level and I hadn’t even begun! I sat in my kitchen, drinking a beer to calm my nerves, staring at my KitchenAid Mixer like a lifeline. We had to pull this off. HAD TO! There was no plan B, no backup plan.

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Seriously. Not even exaggerating.

First and foremost, I needed to find a decent cream cheese frosting recipe that was creamy enough to be good but stiff enough to hold the shape of a rosette. And THAT brings us back to the beginning of my story, I was tempted to consult Pinterest. I used Google instead. Then, true to form, I created my own. (Yes, this is one of those character traits I wish I didn’t have – such a strong need for something to be perfect, that I reinvent it myself, often failing repeatedly until I get it just right. This was one of those many moments in my life.)

Filling the cake layer
After baking the cakes, I froze the layers, then let them thaw to split, fill and add a “crumb coat” of frosting.
Cake Freezer
After the filling and crumb coat, I stuck them back in the freezer to chill. It worked out well that we’d just brought home a new freezer and it was empty!
Stacking the Cake
I used wood dowels and parchment lined cardboard layers to support the weight of the cake. It was very, very heavy!
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I worked on the farm animal’s party hats and banner between chilling the cake.

The great news is that everything came together just as I imagined it.

It required 11 cake mixes, doctored to fit my cause, of course; 40 eggs, six pounds of butter, 2 pounds of cream cheese and roughly 10 pounds of powdered sugar. It took 4 long days to complete and there was more than one moment of pure panic when it came time to move the monster but I think it was worth all the work. There are a few things, I’d do differently, but let’s be honest, when I convince myself to do this again someday, I’ll likely have forgotten what those things are so I’m just going to be happy with the way this birthday cake turned out – and then delete my Pinterest account.

Just kidding. I’ve already started a new Pinterest board. Heaven help us.

I’d love to hear about some of your great Pinterest projects if you feel like sharing!

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It took some practice and next time I’ll stack the tiers a little differently, but all in all, it was better than I anticipated! It also helped that it was 17 degrees outside, so chilling the top frosting layer was easy – lifting the cake, not so much…
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I removed our refrigerator shelves to store the cake overnight.
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And spent the rest of the night decorating chocolate cupcakes with Nutter Butter horse toppers.
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I was on pins and needles for the short drive to our party venue, but we made it and everything came together just as I had imagined it!
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The look on my friend’s face made it ALL worth it when we lit the candles and sang Happy Birthday!!!

My inspirational Pinterest “Cake” Board link.

Family Traditions

Feeling a bit nostalgic… Putting up “the fancy stuff” until our next family feast. It’s always a little extra work and this year, we were so limpy, gimpy and wimpy after our morning run that I nearly scratched the idea and went with paper plates – but I’m glad I didn’t.

We remained true to tradition, like my mother and grandmothers and great grandmothers before me; we used the fine china, we set a pretty table, we poured good wine, we ate a little too much and we laughed until we cried. We missed the family who couldn’t make it and we remembered the loved ones who left us too soon.

I’m the oldest of four and THIS is my “why” – family, love and traditions that continue to hold all of us together, so that even long after we are gone, we remain together in spirit.

#FamilyMatters
#UseTheGoodStuff
#TeachYourChildrenWell
#GratefulForTheseLessons

The Dreaded Treadmill

I am not an exercise enthusiast but as a nurse, I do have a special appreciation of the body and I deeply respect life.

I’ve worked in a hospital for over twenty years now and the majority of those years, I’ve been an emergency room nurse. I’ve watched the human spirit fight for life as the body runs out of energy to hold on. I’ve seen up close and personal the habits that rob life of it’s quality. I’ve seen illness steal the light from a life well lived.

There are many events we have no control over but as much as I despise scheduled exercise, oh how I love skiing and hiking and being outside! I enjoy being able to bend down to tie my own shoes. I appreciate being able to climb up on the counters to water my own plants. It brings me joy to be able to physically participate in a child’s life and run on the playground, swing on the swings and zip down the slide without having to stop to catch my breath. This is the good stuff.

From the Summit
Black Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.

So I exercise.

I put on my Nikes and I fire up ol’ Mo, my aptly named treadmill, and I curse and I cry and I get it done. I quit at least 30 times an hour, but then I remember my “why” and I get my head back in the game and I keep going. I play mental games with myself. I do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Polar Bear 5K
My first ever 5K was done in snow boots and with this little man on my shoulders. It took 56 minutes but we did it!

I need to be able to perform solid chest compressions for at least 2 minutes straight without getting tired. (It sounds easier than it is.) I need to be able to downhill ski for 8 hours straight, keep up with my pre-teen mountain master nephews and still have the energy to make the hour drive home – and then do it again the next day. I need to be able to climb a haystack, lift a bale of hay, load it into a pick-up truck and then lift it again into a hay feeder. And sometimes, I need to be fast enough to make it to the gate before the bull. Well, that last one hasn’t happened yet, but if it ever does, I need to be ready!

That’s Some Bull

So I keep exercising, even though I despise it.

I challenged my 9 year old nephew to a 5K Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning. He’s an athlete. We’ve walked a couple races in the past but he’s been chomping at the bit to run one for time. He’s too little to run a 5K alone, so I’ve been training and training HARD to be able to drop the reins and let the little guy give it all he’s got but still be able to keep up with him.

Polar Bear Run 2017

I’ve been using the Couch Potato to 5K app to coach me along. I’ve crossed the threshold from mostly walker to mostly runner as of late and I’m actually beginning to feel excited about the upcoming race – though, I have to confess, I’m even MORE excited that our mountain just announced an early lift opening the day after the race and that is my real reason for cardio conditioning – ski season.

Down Syndrome Fun Walk

I’m not fast, it’s not pretty and I’m not a natural – but I get it done because I believe the body is a tool and I have to keep it conditioned to perform the activities that I enjoy. It’s really that simple.

So wish me luck. The little guy has vowed, in playful jest, to “totally smoke me and leave me in the dust” next Thursday. Personally, I think I just might surprise him.

Polar Bear Rn
Single digits may have slowed us down for this race but we still finished.

These are iTune links to two of the apps I’ve used.  I like to mix things up so I’m always guessing what the next day will bring.  I believe they both offer Android versions as well and no – nobody is paying me to mention their product.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/5k-runner-couch-potato-to-5k/id439852091?mt=8

D980B8AD-0A58-48D5-9AEC-A0492C83911D

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/c25k-5k-trainer/id485971733?mt=8v

C25K

The Great Pumpkin Explosion

The pumpkin experiment was a success.  I was able to avoid trips to the local pumpkin patches this year AND we grew some impressive gourds – but what to do with the leftovers?  The chickens can only eat so much pumpkin…

26B66A6B-61D0-4DC5-8E25-9F20AB0C83F5

My husband and I were mulling over the possibilities when out eyes met, our smiles broadened and we both said one word, “Tannerite!”

A Glimpse

There aren’t a lot of places in the world that you will hear a conversation like this take place:
RN 1: “I was a little worried last week that the lightning strike may have done more to my heart than I thought. Every time my heart rate hit 160 on the treadmill, I’d start to get that CHF wheeze.”
RN 2: “What? Your heart rate shouldn’t be 160!”
RN 1: “Well, it’s like 158.. But only when I push myself running. Max heart rate is 200 minus your age, I’m fine. The wheezing went away when I slowed down. I was a little worried BUT the good news is that it’s gone this week!”
RN 2: “It shouldn’t be 158! That’s crazy!”
RN 3: “I told you that my camel died 3 days after it got struck by lightning, right?”
Yep. An actual conversation that occurred in the Emergency Room break room, November 2017, in Redmond, Oregon.

The Day I got Struck by Lightning

Storm Cell Black and White

I got struck by lightning.

I have to confess that I’m still having a really hard time wrapping my brain around this one. I can’t believe it happened — and I can’t believe I survived.

Storm Cell Sunset

A fiercely powerful thunderstorm hit the farm just over a week ago.

Tinderbox

Not everyone knows that not all of Oregon is a lush, green oasis of foliage like that of the Willamette Valley. It’s not. Central Oregon is known as the High Desert and on our farm, the only areas that are remotely green are the ones well irrigated. The rest is covered with dried grasses, giant sagebrush and scattered, water-sucking juniper trees. By late July, 40% of our land is a tinderbox.

Brown Angus on the Farm

Complicating the issue further, our dry-land also has no access to water. More than once, flames have threatened our home, our animals and our livelihood.  It happens so often, in fact, that we have proactively purchased a water trailer to keep on hand for such emergencies. We need to be ready to help ourselves because any 911 call is 20-30 minutes out.

Water Trailer

I watched the thunderstorm roll in. I began to worry when I started to see bolts of lightning hit the ground. Sometimes we get lucky with cloud to cloud strikes. This wasn’t that day. More concerning were the little puffs of black smoke each strike was leaving in its path. Fire.

Storm Cell

Then we got hit. And then we got hit again.

At approximately the same moment, the dusty edge of a microburst was within sight.  Hail began to sputter. I waited with binoculars for the telltale puff of black smoke.  There it was. Damn it.  I texted my husband, “We’re hit and we’ve got a fire.”

FireI loaded up our three crazy canines into my car and took off towards the back of our property where I thought the fire might be. We have 1 rural fire department and clearly, they were busy tackling fires on a nearby butte. I needed to know exactly where the fire was and the quickest access roads.

By the time I got to the back gate; winds, hail and giant rain drops were ravaging. We’d gone from nearly 100 degrees to about 70 degrees in less than 10 minutes. I could still make out whiffs of black smoke fanned within the brown dust blowing across the fields like a sandstorm.

I stepped out of the vehicle just as the torrential deluge began. The gate was locked. I needed to get through it to make my way up the hillside to find the fire. It’s a combination lock and I remember getting the first number entered, I was on the second number when I felt the unmistakable vibration of electrical voltage hit my right thumb. Then I heard the crack of lightning. In an instant I felt it blast out my left forearm and thumb as I was thrown back three feet from the gate.

ACLS AlgorithmI wish I could tell you that I had some deep, philosophical epiphany or some awe-inspiring, spiritual rebirth like that of the mythical Phoenix, but no — the only vision that popped into my head was that of TNCC and ACLS algorithms used to save lives in the emergency room. I looked for burns to makes sure I wasn’t on fire and then I traced the electrical path to assess vital organs that may have been affected.

“Crap. My heart. I have approximately 3 breaths left before I’m unconscious and there’s not a soul within miles to do CPR.”

I took my pulse. Although racing, it was present. I got into my car and sat there in disbelief. Lightning must have hit the fence and zapped me through the lock. My thumbs were still tingling so I knew it had to be real but how could I still be alive?

Cardiac Strip

The rain had filled the ditch and turned the road I was on into a mud bog. We had more rain in 20 minutes than we’d had in the past 4 months. I found myself in a surreal world of deadly challenges. I was still in a lightning storm. Our property was still on fire. The road I needed to get out on was in the process of being washed out. I’d likely just had an electrical bolt of unknown strength go right through my heart.

Thoughts that my husband could have found me dead or that my little nephew could have still been with me when this happened overwhelmed me for a moment.

Cougar TrackRattlesnakes, cougar tracks, wild coyote packs tormenting newborn calves, the fires that have almost cost us everything, poachers leaving gut-shot fawns to rot to death in our fields, hopelessly performing CPR on a stillborn calf in puddles of near frozen mud and afterbirth, being buried in 5 foot snowdrifts trying to get in and out of our home in the winter, the incessant rodent pilferings of my home, my vehicles, my lawn, my garden – and now, I get hit by f-ing lightning?!!

I’ve learned over time that my brain almost instantly transforms fear into anger. I don’t get scared, I get mad and at this moment, I was madder than hell that I’d ever left the happy little subdivision I’d grown up in and traded it all for this constantly-testing-me-to-my-wits-end farm. Angry tears spilled over. I just wanted to go home — the home my twelve year old self felt so safe and secure in, where nothing like this could possibly happen.

My wallow through self-pity was short-lived. It had to be. My road was disappearing. I put my SUV in 4WD low, said a quick prayer and thanked our local Les Schwab tire dealership under my breath for selling me some of the best mud and snow tires I’d ever owned — and I slowly crawled through the newly formed creek, where I thought the road once existed.

My phone got cell service around the last turn and my husband began calling.  I couldn’t take a hand off the wheel to answer. Honestly, I was likely still shaking too bad to push the buttons of my phone anyway. I met him at our tree line. He was geared with the water trailer and quite annoyed that I hadn’t answered.

There’s no way to gently tell someone to shut the hell up because you’ve just been hit by lightning and you need a minute to refocus. Nope. Pretty sure it came out just like that; followed by, “Do NOT get out of your truck!” and “If the rain didn’t put the fire out, let it burn. I’m done!”

A week later, I’m just grateful to be alive. My thumbs and forearm still ache but my vital organs have continued to function as if nothing happened. Yes, I’m freakishly lucky. Kind of. Most people don’t get struck in the first place.

But mostly, I’m grateful.

There is a deeper story here. I’m not the first person in my family to survive a lightning strike. Someday, I’ll be able to laugh and tell that story but today isn’t that day. Maybe when my thumbs stop reminding me how close I came to my own funeral.

Rainbow

The storm blew over leaving a beautiful rainbow in its wake. My husband coaxed me out of the house later that night to go on an ATV ride to assess damage left behind. There’s something to getting back on the horse after getting bucked off. The longer it takes to face a fear, the bigger that fear can get. So even though it was the last place on the planet I wanted to be, I went.

Buck Deer

And I’m Glad did.  The rain had put the fires out. The view was beautiful. We saw a group of young bachelor bucks hanging out, munching on alfalfa and I found myself once again grateful to be blessed as a caretaker of this beautiful land.

The Lower Fields

Storm Cell Sunset

Huh – You don’t say?!!

A few weeks ago, I opened the door of the Jeep and the horn went off, the wipers started, my lights flickered and wiper fluid began squirting non-stop. Putting the key it in the ignition didn’t fix it. Starting it didn’t fix it. I had to unhook the battery cables to make it stop.

I did research and learned that over 38% of Jeep Wranglers made in 2008 have had the exact same issue – so many in 2007 there was a huge recall – and it has to do with the epically faulty Chrysler Totally Integrated Power Module – TIPM – plaguing most Chrysler brands from 2007-2013.

I’m going to be honest, I was too mad to deal with it at the time. Sometimes my brain needs time to absorb information (like why a company would continue to build vehicles with a known faulty part for so many years, but I digress…)

Then I got a recall notice for an unrelated issue on the Jeep and was prompted by my husband to get it fixed so I could get it out of the garage and enjoy it some this summer. I made an appointment, had it towed into the dealership and waited over a week for the call to go get it.

After multiple attempts, a phone call finally went through to a live person instead of a voicemail at the dealership and low and behold, the Jeep was ready for pick-up with a surprisingly low repair fee. They told Jeff that it wasn’t the TIPM part that I thought was faulty but instead a tiny part in the steering column. Even at that moment, it felt too good to be true.

IMG_6793So Jeff gave me a ride to the dealership today, I waited in line and when it was my turn, I looked at the service rep with squinted eyes, a tilted head of skepticism and said, “Really? A tiny part in the steering column can cause all that?” He smiled his all knowing smile and explained how “wires have copper inside of them and if the copper wires touch, they can create a short in the electrical system and cause all sorts of problems.” I was hoping for a more complex and less dumbed-down explanation but hey – he’s the pro, they were busy, take my credit card and give me the keys, right?

I kid you not — I walked out into the parking lot, put the key in the lock, open the door and — the horn went off, the wipers started wiping and AGAIN I was squirted with wiper fluid.

But this time, I had the attention of the entire service lobby, the service garage and everyone within earshot. I walked back inside, handed my keys over the desk and calmly said, “It’s doing it again.”

I had two service reps and at least one repair tech moving very quickly to help me, all with increasingly pink cheeks, not one making direct eye contact. My horn was still blaring non-stop in their parking lot.  Finally, a service rep was brave enough to look up and say, “my tech thinks it could be the TIPM, he’s looking for an easy fix like a loose wire now, but it might be that the module is faulty.”

Huh – you don’t say?  I called Jeff to turn around to come get me before he got too far away.  Nobody likes doubling back in Bend traffic.

We got home to a message on the machine stating that yes, it’s a faulty TIPM and the part will be here Friday.

Jeff, the hubby, looked at me and said, “It must suck to be treated like you don’t know what you’re talking about because you are a woman.”

My mind hadn’t gone there but yes, now that he mentioned it, the assumption that I am not my father’s daughter, with the brainpower to figure just about anything out OR my mother’s daughter, with the pure stubborn willpower to get it done myself was a bit annoying, but at some point in adulthood, I let go of the need to prove my capabilities to others and moved past it.  We all have weaknesses. Being a woman certainly isn’t one of mine.  I’ve learned that being underestimated isn’t my weakness.

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I’d speciffically requested that the TIPM module be looked at.  When the recall fix seemed to fix the electrical issue, no one looked deeper into the TIPM and just assumed it had been the faulty steering column part that has caused the whole mess.  Frankly, I was just happy the Jeep had gone berserk in their parking lot before I drove off, and not 10 minutes later, driving down the highway.

The Jeep will be ready with the right repairs sometime next week and the service tech is going to throw in a tank of gas for the inconvenience.  He was kind, considerate and I don’t have any beefs with the local service department.

In the mean time, I just got another recall notice.  Brakes this time…  When is the new Bronco scheduled for release (2020) – and most importantly, will the top come off?

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White Flag Waving

I’m not going to lie, life is kicking my hiney.  Not in the big, scary, life-altering way that trauma or illness effects a person, nope, it’s in small, pecking, almost inconsequential life events that are just enough to remind a person that no matter how together you believe you’ve got it  — you really don’t.

I’m not allowed to talk about work.  I can’t give chief complaints or talk about cases – what I can share is that there should never be a surgical team yelling for retractors in the emergency department and every time it happens, an ER nurse ages 5 years in 10 seconds.  Enough said.

It didn’t stop there.

Until you’ve spilled deer and rodent repellent in a vehicle, you have no idea how bad shuttling kids and running errands in 100 degree temps can get.  This liquid has an odor similar to dog vomit after it has consumed a decompositioned carcass.  Did I mention it’s created to leave a “scent stain” behind?  When a cadaver dog “hits” on my vehicle in 10 years, I’m referencing this blog post as evidence.  Yes.  It’s THAT bad.

Almost as bad as — the little guy taking a crap in the pool.  Yep.  That oversized kiddie pool I’ve been struggling to keep upright for the past couple weeks?  It’s got more quirks than I ever imagined.  Air, water, chemicals — got it.  Add a kid in a swimmer diaper and reset the learning curve.

Mud
Yes – they are ankle deep in the mud.

Lessons learned:

1. Don’t check for a dirty diaper IN the pool, that stuff floats, and —

2. When changing that pull-up in the house, use extreme caution — it comes off with a gallon sized “splash” on the bathroom floor.

The EZ-Up pool has now been drained, sanitized and refilled, as have all of the children involved.  The little guy is still mad at me for making him get out of the pool in the first place but he did help me clean and sanitize the bathroom floor so I have confidence we’re working towards a solution to our issue.  Tomorrow, we’re going to the algae-filled lake.  No harm, no foul.

Happy

I’m short on sleep.  Night shift does that.  I’ve worked this shift the better part of 20 years.  I know each shift comes with a price and I budget my sleep better than any accountant.  I pride myself on it.  I need an 8.5 hour average of sleep to stay human.  I can do 6, I can do 5.5, I can follow it up with a 7 hour night of sleep and maybe even go one more 6.5 — but then, my body is going to crash and not even an alarm clock will wake me from a 16+ hour coma.  Experts say the brain can’t make up on lost sleep.  Several years of personal Fitbit stats argue that.  I average 8.5 hours every week — at least usually.

This week I’m on auntie duty and my single mom sister is depending on me to keep her child alive and not lost while she works a full time schedule to provide a home for her and my nephew.  This means a lot of lives depend on me not being late.  My night shift brain doesn’t fall asleep until 2 at night.  My Auntie A body needs to be up at 7 in the morning.  My most precious moments in life are the moments I get to spend with my siblings’ kids.  It’s at about day 3 that things begin to go sideways.  By Friday, I’ll be wondering how parents survive and ordering my latte over-easy with a grande side of eggs.  My keys will be lost.  My socks might not match — hopefully, I’m wearing matching shoes BUT there have been time that wasn’t the case.  Thank you for not pointing it out or correcting my flipped-flopped words.

There’s more.

I had time to call to get my Jeep towed to the shop today.  The ride of shame.  What’s worse is that we live 40+ miles and two towns away from the dealer so EVERYONE got a good look at it.  I can’t very well drive it that far with wipers wiping, fluid spraying and the horn blasting.  Well, I could — but the same electrical issue effects the air bag and fuel injector system so it wasn’t safe.

TIPM Issue 2008 Jeep Wrangler
The ride of shame…

I’m counting my defunct phone battery replacement today as a win.  I spent 2 hours educating myself about camera settings to capture perfect firework photos on the 4th.  It was a wreck.  My sister held up her iPhone and nailed every shot.  Of course, the battery on my iPhone 6 – was – dead.

2017 Fireworks

 

I don’t know how parents do it night after nights and stay sane.

I don’t how nurses do it night after night and stay positive.

Mostly, I don’t know how anyone does morning after morning and keeps their mind functioning properly!

Sparklers

Central Oregon Storm Cell

Summer Nights

I love our long summer evenings when the sun doesn’t settle behind the mountains until well after 8pm.  Everything lasts longer, except for the darkness.  This week I caught some beautiful sunsets.  I’m still learning my new camera, let’s be honest, that’s likely to be the truth for the next couple years, but I was able to freeze a few moments on my camera card.  #LookUp, #SameViewDifferentDay

Central Oregon Storm Cell
A developing storm cell over Central Oregon with the Three Sisters mountains in the background.

Mt. Jefferson Sunset
The sun sinking behind Mt. Jefferson from Culver, Oregon.

#SameViewDifferentLight
The reward of waiting for the perfect light, looking up (from that fancy phone) and being present for this moment.

Mount Jefferson Sunset
As day closes and the sun takes a humble bow behind Mount Jefferson.

Do Not Disturb

My day started with the frantic ringing of the doorbell followed by heavy pounding on the front door.  I’d heard something like thunder earlier that had set the dogs into a frenzy, but when I looked outside to see the retina scarring bright sky, with no smell of wildfire smoke in the air, I decided it must have been a sonic boom and I put myself back to bed.

I work nights.  This means I clock in at 7pm and make a mad dash for the door at 7:30am.  I’m an ER nurse.  We do math.  We do very important math.  At 6:55am, I need to know the difference between a 1:1,000 and 1:10,000 strength dose of meds and know whether to push 0.4mL per kg or 0.04 mL per kg.  Lives literally depend on it.  An over tired caregiver, on her 23rd hour of wakefulness, makes mistakes.  So I stay up late the night before I work — and I sleep in as late as I can the day I cover a night shift.

But not today.  Nope.  Someone was pounding on my door at 7:42am and thinking there must have been some sort of terrible emergency – or a UPS wine delivery (my driver knows to wake me up for those signatures!), I answered the door.  A hot air balloon had landed behind our gated, “No Trespassing” fence and there was a walkie-talkie dude standing in front of me wanting to know how to get through the fence to retrieve the hot air balloon and passengers.

That was the loud noise I’d heard.  It was the operator pumping more gas into the flame to keep the balloon afloat — only to land in an unkempt pasture of juniper trees, sagebrush and very dry wild grasses with no water access.  What could possibly go wrong landing a giant fireball on dry land surrounded by kindling in the midst of high 90 degree temp days?

Field burning, Culver, Oregon
Believe it or not, this is a controlled burn. It out to give you a reference point for the fires deemed “uncontrolled”

Everything.

About once every 2-3 years, a neighbor has set something ablaze that has resulted in a 911 call to the local fire department.  We’ve kept the fires away from our house but a few of those times, it’s been pure luck or answered prayers when the wind miraculously switched directions and spared us.

I unwillingly traded in my last 6 hours of sleep for a post-balloon landing fire watch.  We are custodians of 160 acres, crops, farm animals and wildlife.  We don’t get to pick the days, or time of the day, that we are responsible for what happens on the farm.  Things happen and we rise to the occasion, grit our teeth, and deal with it.  That’s farm ownership.

It was about this moment I looked out to find the new, oversized kiddie pool in a lump.  Walking out to assess the pool, I nearly rolled my ankle in a mole hole.  Didn’t I just fill in all of the mole holes?  Dang.  It was fresh.  Rodents.

Easy Up, Easier Down Pool

Lawn Rodent Damage

The lawn was covered in brown colored dry spots.  Water skips?   Nope.  Mushrooms wouldn’t be growing without water.  Insects.  More specifically, grubs and grub kill.

Lawn Insect Damage

I passed the new cherry tree and hesitated momentarily to take a closer look.  What the …?  More insects.  Nearly every leaf was riveted with multiple holes.

Caterpillar Damage

I gazed across the garden.  A few days earlier, my newly planted sprouts were taken down to mere stems by the local bunny population.  All of them.  I had replanted veggies I’d picked up at local nurseries the day earlier and had attempted to spray them with deer and rabbit repellent the night before, but the liquid was too thick for the sprayer and the only thing that got inundated with the vomit-decomp smelling fluid was my hands.  It had been 12-15 hours and the smell still lingered on both hands.  If it’s bad enough to gag an ER nurse, you know it’s really disgusting.

It was.

Garden Boxes
A second planting of the garden boxes…

I found the hole in the pool and repaired it.  I sprayed the cherry tree with fruit tree and environmentalist approved insecticide.  I put the deer/rabbit repellent into a watering can and watered my tender garden transplants – gagging along the way.  I put a hit out on the mole, filled in all but 1 hole and reseeded the bare spots.  I sifted grub killer through gloved fingers over the lawn’s dead spots.  I watered.  I got the pool filter set up and functioning.  And I got it all done with just enough time left over to hop in the shower and get myself to work on time.

I passed my husband on the way out the door and told him that the farm was trying to kill me, it was time to sell and buy a condo that came with a maintenance crew.  He laughed.

I’ve been awake just over 26 hours now, I had coworkers double check my math before dosing patients so nobody died and I returned home to garden boxes full of plants and an inflated pool.  I’ll be asleep as soon as the eggs are collected from the chickens (or they eat them) and the cheat grass sticker is removed from the dog’s ear.

It’s already a better day than yesterday – or was that today?

Night shift nurse