This Is No Vacation!

Last weekend I took advantage of the sunny 54 degree weather we had and spent the entire day on Saturday and part of the day on Sunday working on the gardens.

First I had two yards of dirt delivered for the new sections of the back garden.  Hubby was supposed to be home for this, but conveniently decided to head into work instead.  This left the task of spreading out the two yards of top soil to Zeb and me.  Not that Zeb’s not any help, but yeah — Zeb’s not much help.  He pretends to do a little work here and there, but mostly he just gets on my nerves.  Typical! So I sent him off to mow the lawn for the first time this year instead.

Once I’d moved the dirt around enough to make me realize I really needed three yards, I decided to start working on the side of the house where I plan on planting some of my tomatoes this year. This is what a section looks like, similar to the one I worked on but smaller, before I spent four hours working on it.

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The first step was to pull all the rocks out.  I needed to do this so I could level out the ground and remove all the garbage and roots from the area.  These areas had bushes in them last year, but Hubby pulled them out last fall so I could utilize the space for tomatoes.

Once the rocks were pulled onto the sidewalk, I leveled the area, dug holes where I plan on planting tomato plants, inserted plastic pots with the bottoms cut off to mark the areas for the plants, transferred fresh topsoil from the back garden to the freshly dug holes, and then began replacing the rocks.  Now if Hubby had been doing this job, he would have just dug the holes among the rocks, not worrying about rocks getting into the holes, put the cut up pots in the holes and filled the holes with dirt.  I not only wanted to make sure that the area for the tomato plants was conducive to plant growth, but I also wanted it to look nice.

The rocks were full of remnants of the bushes, twigs, leaves, garbage, and wood.  Pretty much it looked a mess, as you can see by the picture above.  So before I replaced the rocks, I hand sorted each and every one of them.  A bit anal I suppose, but here is what the finished area looks like:

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A huge difference.  Trouble is, I am paying the price for it now.

Back a couple of years ago I was working on a project that required me to sit on the ground for two or three hours a day for three weeks straight.  During this time, somehow I managed to injure my right knee.  I had no idea what I’d done to it, but after some rest it healed.  Still, whenever I would kneel on my right knee or sit for extended periods of time, my knee would bother me.

For the past month or so the knee pain has been getting increasingly worse.  Hubby and I eliminated arthritis from a potential cause because when I take Tylenol to ease the pain, it does nothing.  I just resolved that I was going to have tough it out.

After my little project on the side of the house, where I spent four hours moving rock, digging holes, transporting dirt, and sitting in my little garden chair sorting through rocks, by Sunday afternoon the pain was constant.  It used to be I would limp a bit when getting up from a chair or the couch, but within a few steps the pain would dissipate and I could walk normally.  Not so anymore.  Now I limp constantly and the pain does not go away.

Sunday evening Hubby decided he’d better do some more research to figure out what was going on. I’m not a doctor person, so unless I’m dying, I’m not going to see one.

Within a few minutes we found something that sounded exactly like what I was experiencing: Medial Meniscus Tear of the Knee. Great! A Diagnosis. The prognosis?  Not so great.  There is no quick fix.  First, it looks like because I over did it rather than pacing myself, I won’t be doing any gardening or much of anything else for at least a week.  The first step towards recovery is to rest, ice, elevate, and compress my knee.

When he told me this, I was sort of thrilled.  It would be sort of like a vacation, right?  NOT!  I don’t do well at rest.  Even when I’m my sickest I still have to be doing something.  It’s day one, and sitting here in the house, looking out at the empty gardens, thinking about all the other gardening tasks that need to be done, staring at all the tiny plants in the dining room — sitting there just mocking me, it’s almost too much to take. Plus cooking will be at the bare minimal, house cleaning is on hold, laundry (seeing as I hang most everything out from April through October) is out, and I can’t even walk Bell! What’s left?

I know if I don’t take this time to let it heal enough to be able to walk on it without constant pain I could end up needing to go to the doctor or worse yet having surgery, so for the most part I’ll be lounging around this week. It will be a good time to make my Gardening To Do List (which includes working on three additional sections on the side of the house just like the one I worked on this past weekend), update my Canning To Do List, prioritize my Spring Cleaning To Do List, and begin working on my Packing To Do List for a cruise we’re taking in June.  Wow, if that’s not enough to overwhelm me, what is?

For the moment though I am going to count my blessings because things could be worse. My knee hurts, but I am confident with rest and a little time I’ll be able to get it to a point where I’ll be able to start exercising the muscles around the tear to strengthen my leg and hopefully fix this problem. A little patience and a lot of work are certainly better than going to the doctor, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Gardening Gadget-Couldn’t Garden Without It

Have you ever received a gift that although you thought it was cool and interesting, never thought you’d use it?  I received one of those this past Christmas, but boy was I wrong!

By the time my girlfriend Suzanne and I got together to celebrate Christmas 2014, it was all but over.  We had both been so busy throughout the holidays that getting together had just not been in the cards.  So early January 2015 we finally connected and enjoyed a morning or gift exchanging, conversation, and some final holiday bliss to close the end of the holiday season.

Suzanne had tons of little goodies for me to open.  It was like Christmas morning as a child all over again.  Every gift was well thought out and definitely something I could use or most certainly wanted.  There was one gift however that when I opened it, even though appropriate for my interests, I just wasn’t sure it was something I would take the time to use. The first thought that went through my head was This is neat, but where am I going to keep it?  Not, when am I going to use it, because honestly, I didn’t think I would.

This is one of those gadgets that the manufacturers sell millions of, but how often they get used is probably far less than they advertise.  Like all those kitchen gadgets sitting on the shelf in my basement, I thought this one was destined for dust collecting somewhere in a corner in the garage. Even Hubby looked at it and admitted it was interesting, but maybe his father would get more use out of.

Well, from day one out in the yard this 2015 Gardening Season, I am happy to say, this little gadget has been affixed to my behind — literally. My father-in-law would have to pry it from my cold dead body before I’d give it up and I will never doubt Suzanne and her ultimate wisdom again.

What the name of this little thing is escapes me, but I refer to it as my “Garden Saver!”

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Now I’m not saying that this little chair is for everyone, but for someone who is suffering with some sort of degenerative knee injury, it is an essential tool to sow seeds in the ground, pull weeds from the freshly tilled soil, and all the other gardening tasks that would require me to do any sort of kneeling, squatting, or dare I say sitting on the ground.

Several years ago I damaged my right knee while working in the yard.  I don’t remember the specifics but do remember the pain to the left of the knee cap on the inside portion of my leg. It was after several weeks of working on my knees, near the end of my project.  When I would stand up from my kneeling position I had to stand still for a few minutes in order for my knee to stretch out so I could put some weight on it and then hobble a little to start moving again.  Within a few minutes, things would loosen up, the pain would dissipate, and everything went back to normal.

This pain came and went throughout the past two years, only bothering me if I was sitting on the ground with my knee bent for any extended period of time or if I sat on my right leg. Still, the pain would quickly go away once I started moving again.

A month ago, the pain on the side of my knee began to bother me whenever I was sedentary for more than 15 minutes.  Not moving around gave my knee an opportunity to stiffen up and every time I got up from a chair or even out of bed, I would hobble around until things loosed up and the pain subsided. Kneeling, squatting, or sitting on the ground were pretty much impossible.

Now the pain is almost constant, even when I do move around or am standing, there is a tinge of pain in my leg and limping seems to be more of a norm than an anomaly.

With the progression of pain and no relief found with Tylenol or wrapping my knee, I seriously questioned how I was going to do any gardening this year.  Well, there it was, the little gardening chair I’d gotten for Christmas.  I took it with me when I turned over the pea garden and used it to separate the weeds from the loosened soil.  Then it was used when I planted row after row of pea seeds.

When I moved over to the large garden in the back and had ten rows of root vegetables to plant, there was no way I would have been able to complete the task had I not had this little seat. Although the pain is still in my leg, it is far easier to get up from this seat than rolling over from a seated position on the ground to my knees and trying to stand.  With this little gizmo I just rock back and forth a bit, and pop right up. There is far less pressure on my knee, not to mention how much easier this is making things on my back.  Plus, let’s not forget how my butt would feel after sitting on the cold ground if I had to scoot around the garden sowing seeds on it.

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Although this is something that is making gardening bearable because of injury, I also think it would be something I would have appreciated if my body wasn’t falling apart.  It is amazing how much easier it is getting up from just a foot off the ground compared to ground level.  Even Grace has taken to the seat and steals it from me whenever I ask her to help out.  For her I think it’s mainly because she doesn’t want to be in the dirt and she sits and rocks in it while I work, but hey, at least she’s comfortable while keeping me company.

So, to Suzanne I have to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  I couldn’t be out there gardening without this, and for YOU I am — Simply Grateful.