Thursday, October 28, 2010

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A GOOSEBERRY?

Goosberry's ready for making jelly

These are Gooseberries! And yes they are as prickly as they look. My bff Lorna and her husband Dave have a beautiful cabin in the Sierras. It was built by her grandmother's brother and other relatives. It is a wonderful place surrounded by big beautiful pine trees. The smell of pine is all around you. And at night we all sit on the huge front porch and look up at the stars. They look so close you can grab them! The air is crisp and clear and it is so relaxing.


Mother gooseberry

Mother Gooseberry

The picture above is of the biggest Gooseberry Lorna had ever seen so we had to name it. It was about the size of a quarter which is really big. These bushes are here and there all over the lower elevations of the Sierras. The bears and other animals like to eat them. Though I don't know how. These nasty little berries makes the yummiest jelly you have ever tasted. It is like nothing I have had before. The problem is picking the berries, and making the jelly. Also if the year has been dry there will not be as many. In order to pick these berries you need to wear leather gloves and bring a bucket and heavy BBQ tongs. She basically scrapes them off the plant into the bucket because you can't pick them by hand even with the gloves.

These berries contain a lot of natural pectin so all that is needed is sugar and water to make the jelly. She cleans the berries as good as she can and puts them into a large pot. She then covers this with water and boils until the berries fall apart. I guess it takes about 1 1/2 hours. Then she pours it all into another pot using cheesecloth to catch the berries and impurities. She then adds sugar and puts in canning jars while hot to seal. We cherish these jars of wonderful jelly because you usually only get about 12 or so made a year. This is divided among 3 of her family members and then we get 1 or 2 small jars. But they are soooooooo good! I love this jam on crumpets in the morning! Yummy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Succulents before the rain

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Happy Cactus Monday everybody! I haven't posted on Cactus Monday in a while. So I have missed you all. I wanted to show you a succulent mix today. I took these pictures before the rain started. We really haven't had much till today and it rained sideways! LOL I planted this pot at the end of last summer. This spring it just took off. The plant in the front is a type of fuzzy crassula and it's blooming like crazy. The bunch to the right is sedeveria blue mist. And to the left is echeveria perle von nuremburg (I think!)

Madagacar palm summer 2010

Another of my favorites. My madagascar palm. I have grown this from a little thing! Every winter it loses most of it's leaves. But summer comes and it recovers so beautifully!



Krazy Kalancho and friends!

Here are some potted plants against my sliding back door. My pot with Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi is going crazy. Next year I will have to put in a bigger pot or in my succulent bed in the front yard. All these pots of succulents are going wild! I love it.


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Last is my Sempervivum arachnoideum. Looks like spiders have been busy on it don't you think? Not! This is why it is called arachnoideum it makes it's own webs!!!

Have a great week and Happy Cactus Monday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I have Essential Tremor

Sipping Skipper

Skipper having some yum on my Crassula -erusula "campfire".

First of all I want to apologize to everybody for being absent for so long. I have been having some pretty scary health problems. Essential Tremor is not scary but I will explain. For quite a while I have been having trouble with orthostatic hypotension. It is a condition where when you rise from a sitting or laying position your blood pressure drops. I've had this condition for a while but for some reason it started getting really bad to where I was almost fainting all the time and they were worried my organs could shut down from lack of blood. So I went to a heart Dr. who determined that a medication I was taking for my essential tremor called Inderal (a beta blocker) could be a main culprit. So he slowly took me off this medication and put me on another med to raise my blood pressure. The trade off is that my essential tremor is back almost full force. The medication's I was on was really working well to almost have no tremor at all!

Essential Tremor is a benign action tremor. Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder. It is a syndrome characterized by a slowly progressive postural and/or kinetic tremor, usually affecting both upper extremities. Action tremor means that the tremor only happens when you are in motion or trying to use your muscles in any way. So balance is effected. Whereas Parkinson's disease is a resting tremor. It occurs all the time even at rest. Some people just have it in there hands and arms (the majority). Some have just head movement and or voice (like Katherine Hepburn). Individuals usually present at age 65 and most of the time at age 70. So when you see older individuals with tremor it is usually essential tremor. Sometimes it starts at age 45 or earlier and sometimes in children. For some reason it runs in families. It runs in every generation of my family. My Grandfather had it and my Mother.

They don't really know the cause as of yet. But there is ongoing research. That are pretty sure that the problem comes from the brain stem and cerebellum. When mine was first diagnosed they had no treatment. But now mysoline and inderal are the best treatments available.
I always knew that my Mom had a tremor but never really thought much about it. So when I was about 25 years old something weird started happening. When I would go to drink something out of a cup or glass my right hand would shake really bad going up to my mouth. Pretty freaky and scared me. So I made an appointment with my Dr. and he examined me and ran some tests. I told him that my Mom had a tremor and her Dr. called it Parkinsons palsy. He asked if she would come in so he could examine her. She came in and went through the same tests as I did. He then told her what she actually had was Essential Tremor and that I had early onset Essential Tremor.

As the years have gone by my tremor increased and moved to include other parts of my body. Arms, legs, head and mostly hands shake. It can be quite embarrassing. People sometimes stare at you or ask if you are nervous. I just try to explain about the tremor. When my nieces and nephews were little they would ask, "Aunt Candy, why do you shake?" I would tell them that something in my brain is telling my muscles to move in the wrong way. That would be ok and they would go on their way.

Lots of things that you do everyday become difficult. Buttoning shirts, putting on jewelry, makeup and even writing can be extremely difficult. Eating can even be tuff. Sometimes when I am shaking really bad I have to eat with a spoon. When my shaking is like it is now I have to have others fill out forms for me. Kind of embarrassing to ask if you don't have a family member nearby. I used to make jewelry when the medicine was working but I think that is now over. I should still be able to do other crafting and work with my plants as long as it is nothing too intricate. When I am nervous or fatigued it makes it much worse. So I try not to do little things when I am in those situations.

So that is what has been going on with me. It is going to be a lot harder to take my photos than when I was on the inderal medication. I still take mysoline so my tremor is slightly under control. I went to the High Hand Nursery the other day and it looks like I am going to have to rely on using a tripod a lot more. It's been many, many years since I have shook this bad so I have a learning curve to go through again.

I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me because of this. I am doing this post partly to explain why I have been absent but mostly to educate more people about Essential Tremor. I belong to the International Essential Tremor Foundation. You can find more information about them if you click the name.

So it's good to be back and I will be visiting your blogs and catching up really soon!