Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday Night Ramble

We got another 0.15 inches of rain Tuesday night which really soaked everything in the garden where the closely packed tomato plants lean against one another creating a nearly impenetrable jungle. I decided that rather than get myself soaked picking a few that ripened since Tuesday noonish, that I would let them stay until I get back from physical therapy on Thursday. That should give me another full bucket of cherry tomatoes and another half dozen Rutgers. Processing the accumulated tomatoes will take the rest of Thursday afternoon and should produce a couple of quarts of tomato sauce. The exact amount will depend upon how much I want to boil it down to thicken it.


I managed to get on the stationary bike in the basement today and succeeded in peddling for 10 minutes. I had been having trouble getting the left knee to go around because the peddle placement wanted to bend the knee a tad too much. I guess PT has given me a little more bend to the knee. I can add the bike to my regimen. (Good thing too since walking the deck is out when it rains and I've got to do figure eights in the house until I get the garage cleaned up and the treadmill operational.)

PT tomorrow morning will be what they refer to as "clinical" which means on land. Standard "pain & torture" exercises. All (or at least mostly) self inflicted under the watchful eye of a therapists aide who is on hand to direct you to the next exercise, hand you any needed equipment or time a particular activity. They can also pick up the pieces when you start to fall apart. The young man (yeah, there's only one now that the other has gone back to college) and girls who serve in that role are actually very nice and encouraging. Virtually every one has had some major injury requiring therapy and they know what you're going through. We laugh and joke and they see to it you're doing the exercises correctly and push you to the limit. I know that I will eventually "graduate" and I will miss them.


Got an email from Terry today saying they were having a wonderful time in Poland. She loved Krakow and they had a semi-private Chopin concert. (Only seven people in the audience. There's got to be a story behind that. At the museum perhaps?) Today they were heading for Auschwitz and the salt mines. Then they get in touch with family and visit them for a couple of days. One, Anna, was here in 1972 and attended our wedding. Terry then sent her wedding dress to Poland and Anna wore it when she got married. It may have been used several more times since then.


Just as well I didn't plan to do anything this evening outside. It started to rain around 4 PM and poured (thunder off in the distance towards Wellsboro in the west) until nearly 7:30 PM. We may still get a bit more before midnight but the next two days look to be lovely.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday Evening Ramble

Yesterday morning I wrote about how we were enjoying lovely weather at the Aerie with virtually no rain. Of course, it rained later in the afternoon and into the night. We ended up with 0.45 inches int he rain gauge, but since most of it was well after I had any desire to go worries!


Hydrotherapy today was a blast. The pool water wasn't as warm as I feared it might be so things were pretty comfortable on that side of the coin. The chest deep water provided buoyancy and resistance at the same time allowing me to do different exercises. I was disappointed that the session only lasted one hour. Oh well, I've another scheduled for next Tuesday. Thursday it will be back to the land based exercises.


I went into the garden again today. I harvested half a dozen Rutgers tomatoes and another gallon of cherry tomatoes. I tell ya, I can't eat my way out of this one. I'll probably go harvest some more tomorrow and turn them into tomato sauce. Never did this with cherry tomatoes but I've run out of suckers to give them to (Joe says he won't come up form Jersey Shore--140 mile round trip--just to save me from my killer tomatoes.) and I sure can't eat them all before they go bad. Tomorrow afternoon will be canning time.


I read today that the Mets traded Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates the two of them have a total of 35 or 36 home runs for the Mets and have been bright spots in the Mets line-up. (Although Buck's production has fallen off considerably since his red hot start.) Both players are in their mid to late 30s and both are scheduled to become free agents after this season. The Mets were unlikely going to resign either of them since they have some prospects in both the catching and outfield positions so it was a good move for the team. As for the two players...they suddenly find themselves in the midst of a pennant race with the pirates only a half game out of first int he Central Division so they have got to be happy. The Pirates needed some punch from the outfield (Byrd) and a back-up catcher (Buck) so they're happy too. Here's hoping everybody prospers from this.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Another Lost Season in Flushing

That big "WHOOSH" heard earlier today was the sound of the Mets dreams going down the drain. Hopefully just for the remainder of 2013.

Jeez, nothing seems to be going right for the Mets this year. Injuries are part of the game but the New Yorkers have suffered what seems to be more than their fair share.

The latest is a partially torn UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in the pitching arm of 24-year old Matt Harvey. This is an injury that could require surgery (Tommy John surgery) but the Mets and Harvey will see if rest leads to repair. He is, however, through for the season.

The Mets had said they were going to shut him down once he reached 200 innings this year and Harvey has pitched 178 1/3 so were talking just about 22 innings lost—call it three starts. Obviously, that’s not a big deal. But the injury is. If rest doesn’t suffice and surgery is called for, the NL All-Start starter will probably miss all of the 2014 season. And there’s no guarantee that when he comes back he will be anything like he was earlier this year: 2.27 ERA (159 ERA+), 0.931 WHIP and 6.16 K/BB ratio. Just this last Saturday he went 6 2/3 innings, 0 walks, 4 Ks and gave up 2 ER while absorbing the loss in a 3-0 game against Detroit in which he faced AL All-Start starter Max Scherzer (19-1) who went 6 innings, 4 walks, 11 Ks and, of course, 0 ER.

The Mets will limp through September without David Wright (hamstring strain), without Matt Harvey, without closer Bobby Parnell (herniated disc in his neck) and, despite being professionals, probably without much enthusiasm.

College Football: Week 1 Rankings and Schedule

Opening day of the 2013 college football season is upon us so I hope you’ve got a comfortable seat, plenty of snacks and a desire to watch some amazing football. I do. I have. I’m ready!

 Teams ranked in the top 25 are slated to play Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. In addition, many of the other FBS schools will start their seasons this week. (My alma mater, Rutgers, plays Fresno State on Thursday night at 10:30 PM EDT. RU is something like 77th and Fresno State 26th in the CBSSports Preseason 126 Poll.) Only a few will be idle this week.

Alabama comes in as the reigning national champs and are picked to go the distance again this season, the final year of the BCS Championship. (Yeah, next year there be playoffs!) However, first they have to win a few games and nobody gives you anything…especially in the SEC.  

The numbers on the left are the rankings in the Associated Press Poll, Coaches’ Poll and CBSSports Poll. NR means the team is “Not Ranked” in that particular poll.

1/1/1 Alabama The Crimson Tide hosts the Virginia Tech Hokies Saturday, August 31st . Look for the Tide to roll.

2/2/2 Ohio State After spending last year in limbo while wracking up an impressive won-loss record, the Buckeyes are again eligible for a championship. They start by playing host to the Buffalo Bulls on Saturday, August 31st. Could, no, WILL be a long day for the Bulls.

3/3/4 Oregon has the weekend off. The Ducks open their season Saturday September 7th at Virginia.

4/4/3 Stanford has the weekend off. The Cardinal begin play at home against San Jose State on Saturday September 7th.

5/5/5 Georgia The Bulldogs play at the home of the #8 Clemson Tigers on Saturday August 31st. This could be an interesting game, but the home field advantage goes to Georgia and the Bulldogs win a shootout.

6/7/7t South Carolina The Gamecocks host the University of North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday night August 29th. The South will rise again!

7/6/7t Texas A&M The Aggies host the Rice Owls on Saturday August 31st. Aggies, regardless of who is the QB, will win this but there will be lots of scoring by both sides.

8/8/6 Clemson The Tigers play host to the #5 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday August 31st. Sorry Tigers. If it were at Clemson it might be a different story.

9/9/9 Louisville The Cardinals host Ohio University Bobcats on Sunday September 1st. Teddy Bridgewater will have a Big Day to start the year…and the Heisman talk gets louder.
10/10/10 Florida The Gators host the Toledo Rockets on Saturday August 31st. Gators chomp.

11/12/11 Florida State The Seminoles go on the road to play the Pittsburgh Panthers on Monday September 2nd. It’s on the road. The first official ACC game for Pitt. Savage is the quarterback. Anything could happen but the Panthers need a ground game. If they find it….

12/13/12 LSU The Tigers play at the home of the #20 TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday August 31st. The Tigers are always tough but they better come ready to play some defense. LSU in a shootout.

13/14/13 Oklahoma State The Cowboys host the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday August 31st. OSU will tame the Bulldogs.

14/11/16 Notre Dame The Irish host the Temple Owls on Saturday August 31st. It wasn’t wise of the Owls to book this game. Especially in South Bend.

15/15/14 Texas The Longhorns host the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday August 31st. The Aggies are no match for the Longhorns. There will be lots of scoring. All by Texas.

16/16/15 Oklahoma The Sooners host the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks on Saturday August 31st. The Sooners should have an easy time in this one.

17/17/17 Michigan The Wolverines host the Central Michigan Chippewas on Saturday August 31st. Wolverines! By at least 21.

18/18/18 Nebraska The Cornhuskers host the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday August 31st. Another mismatch that will see Nebraska score big and get their supporters talking Big 10 Championship. (Sorry folks. That won’t happen.)

19/19/21 Boise State The Broncos head west to play at the home of the Washington Huskies on Saturday August 31st. Broncos win this one in entertaining fashion…if you’re a Boise fan.

20/20/20 TCU The Horned Frogs host the #12 LSU Tigers on Saturday August 31st. It will be high scoring but the Frogs will come up short.

21/21/22 UCLA The Bruins host the Nevada Wolfpack on Saturday August 31st. Nevada will run, run, run but the Bruins will score, score, score.

22/22/NR Northwestern The Wildcats play on the coast against the California Golden Bears on Saturday August 31st. The Wildcats will be the visitors, but they will also be the victors.

23/23/NR Wisconsin The Badgers host the Minutemen of Massachusetts on Saturday August 31st. Well, UMass wanted to move up and play with the big boys. Be careful what you wish for. Badgers by a lot.

24/24/24 USC The Trojans head over the Pacific to play the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii on Thursday August 29th. Who will play QB for the Trojans? Does it matter? Hawaii has lost its luster the last couple of years. They will also lose this game. USC by at least 21.

25/25/NR Oregon State Beavers have the weekend off. They begin play at Hawaii on Saturday September 7th.

NR/NR/19 Baylor. The Bears open the season against Wofford on Saturday August 31st. Bears win big.

NR/NR/23 Miami The Hurricane host the FAU Owls on Friday night. Intra-state games can be interesting. The Hurricane, however, will blow away FAU.

NR/NR/25 Ole Miss The Rebels play on the road against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday night. The Rebels should pull out the victory even on the road, but the Commodores will make it a fight.

A Welcome Loss of Weight

Prior to surgery on my knees I would list myself as weighing 220 pounds (or 225 depending upon what the week had been like), Having undergone the trauma of bilateral knee replacement with the accompanying 15 day stay in the hospital and rehab facility--and another two weeks of appetite suppressing narcotic pain killers--my weight has dropped to 200 and sometimes 199 on a pretty damn accurate digital scale. (I checked it against the doctor's scale when I went to see him last week.)

Not that the hospital food was terrible--it was quite good, in fact--but the portion control and the lack of snack foods between meals certainly reduced my desire to eat. Even when I got home, I found myself telling Terry not to put so much on my plate during meal times because I just didn't want to eat it. The daily exercise regime, while not overly strenuous has certainly contributed. As has the fitful sleeping at night. (Just staying in one position too long can get the knees to aching no matter how recently I have taken some extra strength acetaminophen. Much better than staying on those narcotics, BTW.)

Now, I am NOT recommending either major surgery nor narcotic pain killers as a means of weight loss. But as a side affect, I'll take it!

I have had to go and buy a new belt because the old one was too large and, when next I go upstairs, I'm thinking of getting the "skinny" pants out of the closet. I think even their 36" waist may be loose, however. Which is fine by me!

Next trick will be trying to keep the weight off which means trying to get Terry to change her cooking habits a little.

Personal Progress, Gardening Successes and More

We’ve had some terrific weather during the last week. The nights have been around 50 degrees and the days topping out at 80 degrees. There’s been very little rain and the breezes make things even more pleasant. It’s nice to sit out on the deck and watch the hummingbirds fight over whose turn it is to be at the feeder. There are three of them now. That may be the result of a successful fledgling of a youngster. There were only two earlier in the year. The female seems more tolerant of the other female/fledgling but the male simply does not want to share. Sometimes he chases the other two around the yard and they buzz about like miniature fighter planes.


Today, my knees are six weeks old. They still hurt and probably will for a long time, but there’s been tremendous progress made. I’m comfortably walking quarter miles on the flat surface of the deck. (Thirty feet—ten yards—from end to end. Forty-four round trips equals 440 yards. Sure, it gets a little boring but there are moments. Like when there’s a bald eagle soaring overhead, an indigo bunting flitting around the edge of the yard, or a pileated woodpecker flying back and forth. Or the day a military transport(?) flew over the mountain from the southwest j-u-s-t high enough to clear the windmills, low enough to almost see the pilot’s face, and then seemed to drop even lower as it flew north over the valley. Probably heading to Fort Drum.)

In addition to walking/pacing twice a day, I’m doing my exercises at home at least once a day. I wear 2.5 pound weights on each ankle while doing leg lifts and what I call line dance (forward, back, side, and cross-over steps for each leg). Then there’s step-ups (forward and side), mini-squats and lunges. Finally there are the heel slides. (Lay on your back. Put a strap on your foot. Pull the heel back toward your butt as far as you can and hold it there for a count of ten.) It takes about half an hour to do the exercises.

I’ve been going downtown to Elite Therapy three times a week for two+ hour sessions under their watchful eye and on their machines. That will switch this week as I will be reduced to just two sessions a week for a while. They are putting me in the pool for one of those sessions.

I’m still taking stairs one leg at a time. Good leg leads up and bad leg leads down. I’m this close to going up in a normal fashion, but down…. That’s going to be a little longer. Walking uneven surfaces like the lawn or the woods is doable, but slow. 

Terry has been my designated driver. Until she left for Poland, that is. Luckily, the physician and my right leg have agreed that I'm okay to drive the Tundra on my own. It's got an automatic transmission so the fact that my left knee/leg is what I consider my 'bad" leg has little affect on my driving ability.


Terry, her sister and their mother are in Poland. They landed there late Saturday afternoon following a long flight from JFK. They will visit family and tour parts of the country until next Sunday. Then it’s back to the US of A.


The garden has been winding down as to be expected as August turns into September. 

The squash vine borer has done its thing and all the zucchini and winter squash have died off—thank goodness. Terry put several quart bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer. (Takes up less space than breads in that form.) She also sliced several yellow squash and froze them. We also have half dozen acorn and butternut squash from four plants Joe gave us. The stringbeans have stopped producing--or we've just stopped picking--and we’ve enjoyed them and snow peas for several months while still putting some into the freezer for the future. I dug up the onions the other day. Virtually every set I put in yielded an onion 3-4 inches in diameter. That means ¼ bushel of yellow and ¼ bushel of white onions for the winter stews and soups. A small number of beet plants are still growing. They're the second planting and, if they survive, we should get a couple of nice meals out of them.

 The surprise this summer has been the tomatoes. Four cherry tomato plants and two Rutgers plants have yielded and yielded and yielded. Right now I can harvest a quart of cherry tomatoes every two days. Terry turned some into spaghetti sauce, we’ve eaten tons in salads and given several quarts away and still they ripen. While they taste like candy, there’s only so many you can eat at a time! And the Rutgers have been almost as prolific. Sliced they make a great BLT sandwich. Quartered, salted and peppered they are a nice side dish or snack. I’ve got to figure a way to preserve some more before I get completely inundated. The output is nice, but I’m about ready to say. “Enough is enough!” The previous two years we got very little out of the tomatoes. The blight took the plants just as the bulk of the fruit was about to ripen. This year I fertilized the plants with Miracle Gro with calcium. That seems to have kept the blight in check.

Two quarts of cherry tomatoes plus a passel of Rutgers. Care to try some?

That's about all for now, but I promise I'll be writing more soon. I've been looking at the upcoming college football schedule and realize it starts this Thursday. I'll be posting more on the Top 25 teams and their games in the next day or two.