Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring is in the Air!

Spring is in the air. The sun is out. Flowers are blooming. Birds are chirping. Trees are slowly starting to turn green.

You know what that means right? It's allergy season! That's right. Who needs to be able to breathe or see anything within the couple months? Here's a long rant about allergies, followed by an update on my garden. Feel free to skip to the pictures when you get bored.

Those of you who have known me for a while have probably seen me when it was pretty bad. When I would start sneezing and wouldn't stop for an hour or so. When my eyes swelled up so bad they actually swelled to the point where I couldn't close them. When they would swell up every couple days and start tearing like crazy so I couldn't see anything. When I would wander around in a daze because of the congestion. Spring is not a happy time of year.

Well over the years I have figured a few things out. I had a pretty good doctor for a couple years. She actually got me on a drug regimen that allows me to function. For me that was like the invention of electricity. At the time I had thought that I had tried everything with marginal results. Let me explain. The first time I went to her office was late April and I had been taking Zyrtec for a couple weeks. I was not in a good state, to put it mildly. So first she gave me a cortizone shot. That made a world of a difference right then and there. I went to work when I left the doctor's office and my boss looked at me suspiciously and asked if I should be allowed in the plant.

Then she started the drug regimen that I have stuck with since then. I think it's 5 years now. And 2 locations. I am told where I live now is one of the worst allergy areas in the US. Who knows. I take Allegra and Singulair. Then I have Nasacort for the really bad days. The real trick with these is you have to start the drugs before allergy season starts. When I lived in PA I would start them towards the end of February, while there was still a foot of snow on the ground. Now in NC I should start them at the beginning of February although I am dumb and probably didn't start early enough this year. I can't emphasize enough how big a difference it makes starting them early.

A couple years before that I had a bad allergic reaction in my eye. It's not uncommon for my conjunctiva to become swollen during this time of year. Usually it starts tearing real bad and then the tearing stops maybe 30 minutes later and then the swelling goes down a few hours later. It's not pleasant but I didn't really know of any options.

One time it swelled up more than typical. It swelled up to the point where I couldn't close my eye lid over it. At that point I figured it was probably bad, with the eye drying out and all. So I went to the hospital. Service at the hospital was pretty bad (at check in the lady asked me which eye it was) but a few hours later I walked out with my eye still swollen so it wouldn't close and a prescription for antihistamine eye drops.

When I went to the pharmacy to get the eye drops it turns out they don't actually need a prescription and they are really cheap. They are called Retin-A. They burn like hell when you put them in but in about 5 minutes your eyes clear up and the swelling goes down. I've tried the Patanol and I think one other prescription eye drops and they didn't do shit but these work and they work fast. They sell them in a box with 3 small bottles and I must have 20 of those. I keep them everywhere. One in my pocket that I carry with me February-October, one in my desk at work, one in my purse, one in my junk drawer in my kitchen, one in my first aid kit, one on my night stand, one in my master bath, one in my kitchen bathroom.... I kid you not, I really do have all of these. When it starts I am literally blinded that I can't see enough to walk somewhere to find a bottle. The other drugs I take now make it so that doesn't happen as much but now it is habit.

So me and spring don't get along so well. Which makes my decision to start a garden absolutely brilliant, I know. Also, my being insane and going to my garden every day when pollen is at its worst when I am barely making it through the day at work and not without several motrin (sinus headaches seems to be my new thing).

A hot shower followed by the Neti Pot seems to be working for me. I use it pretty much every time after I work on my garden. The Neti pot is a little strange to use. It takes some practice or thought or something that I don't have. If you don't know what you are doing you can get water up into your sinuses which is not fun. If you are now thoroughly confused, don't worry you are not the only one. A Neti Pot is used for nasal irrigation. What you do is, you run water through your nasal cavity to clean out any contaminants, ie pollen, dust or whatever it is the cool kids are sticking up their noses these days. Supposedly it can also improve your sense of smell and taste too because it frees up all the little hairies up there that detect odors. I can't smell when I'm all congested so I guess it helps with that.

The first rule of Neti Potting is blow your nose thoroughly before you start. If you can't breathe through your nose at all, the water does not have some mystical power to get through there either.

The second rule of Neti Potting is use warm water. It should be a bit warmer than body temperature so it fells warm when you stick your finger in it but not hot. Burning the inside of your nose would not be fun.

The third rule of Neti Potting is. um. not really a rule. I didn't understand for a while when I first tried it. So the way you do it is you put the tip of the pot in your left nostril, tilt your head to the right and let in run out of your right nostril into the sink. Now here's where the trouble can come up. If you are using it, you are probably having some congestion issues. Even if you blow your nose, and you can breathe out of your nose at least a little, that doesn't mean it will work. You may have cleared a path to each nostril but not necessarily between the nostrils. This is why you do it after a hot shower. The steam from a hot shower will help loosen things up in there a bit. Hopefully enough for the water to carry it out.

If you hold it for a few seconds, there are a few things that can happen. If it comes out the other nostril you are in good shape and just keep pouring. If it doesn't and nothing happens, straighten you head back up and blow out of your nose as hard as you can without pinching your nose or anything. You will blow the water and hopefully some of the stuff that was clogging you up. I do this over the sink with the water running. Repeat until it comes out the other nostril. There is one other scenario. I'm not quite sure how it happens but sometime it gets further up into the sinus cavity and causes your eyes to tear. At that point you are not happy. Blow your nose out and try and get as much out as possible. If you are sadistic you can try again. I usually quit, suffer for a while and try it another day.

OK now for the garden. You should keep in mind all that ranting above this. After about 30 mins outside I typically can't breathe or see. So you should really be impressed with what you see below.

You can start to tell which are things I'm growing and which are weeds so that's progress. When K visited a few weeks ago his comment was 'um I can't really tell which are your plants and which are weeds.' Bastard.

Let's start with the lettuces. This is my lettuce bed. With some tomatoes in the background. Those are sunflowers on the right. This will be interesting if they truly grow to the 9 ft that they claim they will. Yes, 2 of them bolted. Not sure why but I figure I'll just leave them there and decide something later.

I planted a whole bunch of lettuce seeds. Problem is I don't know which one is which. I know I planted spinach, arugula, and I got a spring mix. Let me know if you know what these are.

I just ate my first couple radishes. I pulled one out a couple days ago and it was still a little small. I stuck it back in the hole. Didn't work out so well. I left the rest to let them grow a bit more. I think this was actually the first radish I have ever eaten. They were quite spicy. I read somewhere that they are good with some butter and sea salt so that's what I did. I cut them in half, spread a little butter, sprinkled with sea salt and popped it in my mouth. Probably not the best way to do it. It was incredibly spicy. It didn't hit right away but all of a sudden I went whoa. I took small bites after that.

Blueberry bush. Look there are already berries forming!
Tomato plants.
Corn and soybeans. I read somewhere they do well when grown together. The soybeans are supposed to grow up the corn stalk and add nitrogen to the soil, which is supposed to be good for the corn. We'll see how that works out.
Shallot. I had one in my pantry. I stuck it in the ground. This is what happens. I'm told the greens on here should be good although I haven't tried them yet.
Bell peppers and butternut squash. Still pretty puny looking.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Well my pictures still suck but at least I am baking again. I made a half batch of these.

The second recipe chosen for this month was Jam Thumbprint cookies. It was chosen by Cassie.

Note to self. When the recipe says jam, you should use jam. I decided to try some lime curd on some of them. Didn't work out so well. The lime curd melted and ran out over the cookie. Then it burned to the pan. So those ones died.

But overall these came out pretty good.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I know, another ranting boring post. Sorry. You should have figured that out from the title and not even opened it. Although I have done some cooking and baking and some of it was even good and I am even making some progress on the garden, I am just not in the mood to post about it.

It's amazing how disappointing people are. No matter how low you set your expectations, they seem to find a way to get under that. Maybe not every time. But often enough. Too often.

I am turning more and more sociopathic. If that's even possible. It frustrates me horribly when you try to do something that helps someone else out and they keep you from being able to do it. And then they bitch about you trying to do it. I seem to constantly be mad at people for their incompetence and general worthlessness.

I would do so much better in a world without people. Maybe one day I'll go 'off the grid' and live off the land and become a hermit. Well not really off the grid because I like electricity and city water and heat and air conditioning and internet and chocolate. But somehow I need to not have to deal with people. I thought being an engineer, you would deal with ideas and things. Little did I know that people would find a way to creep in there and screw everything up.

Yes, vague, incoherent with a hint of angry. I guess probably more than a hint. Tough luck. If you want better, go somewhere else.

Here's a poem that epitomizes my mood. One of the only poems I actually know from memory. Although I copy and pasted it from somewhere rather than typing it because I'm lazy. Although when I searched for it so I could copy and paste, I found some blog where some asshole wrote how this poem provides no value to society and that's what caused Columbine or something along those lines. Wrong. It's arrogant assholes like you that make people want you dead and cause things like Columbine.


If I had a shiny gun,
I could have a world of fun
Speeding bullets through the brains
Of the folk who give me pains;

Or had I some poison gas,
I could make the moments pass
Bumping off a number of
People whom I do not love.

But I have no lethal weapon-
Thus does Fate our pleasure step on!
So they still are quick and well
Who should be, by rights, in hell.
-- Dorothy Parker

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

You know what oatmeal cookies are good for? Just about everything. It's the perfect way to throw in just about everything you've got. Yup. That includes anything and everything in the pantry, including dried blueberries, cranberries, chocolate chips, cashews, in addition to the oats, raisins and pecans.

This recipe was chosen by Leslie. It's a good basic recipe. People at work were very happy with them. Possibly because I haven't brought anything in in a while. Possibly because it's a relatively safe, not scary cookie. Whatever.

I took pics but haven't gotten around to uploading them. Somehow I also didn't get around to posting this either. Oh well.