Welcome to our family blog to keep you updated on all the happenings around the Walker cottage and "farm". Even though we live in a rural section of the Tennessee Mountains life is far from boring as you will see.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

JULY Walker Newsletter


The hot and humid days of summer have arrived with a vengeance with heat indexes reading to over 100 degrees at times making me very grateful for air conditioning.  Thankfully we have gotten some showers to help keep everything green so far. All outdoor work has to be done in the morning as I can't tolerate the heat like I used to.  I also have to keep a close eye on the water for the animals. The ducks get quite excited when it rains or when I fill up their small pool. Otherwise each day they are roaming the woods hunting insects. In the hen house the chickens keep producing large- some extra large eggs that can't fit into an egg carton- brown eggs each day that I love cooking and baking with.

I've been picking green beans and ripe tomatoes from the garden each week. The peas have all dried up so I am collecting seed. I've also gathered wild blackberries and made 18 pints of jam, been drying apples and peaches, made 20 pints of cooked and 10 1/2 pints of freezer peach jam as well along with canning beets.  My raspberries dried up quicker this year so I didn't get as many. So far I've canned 14 quarts of green beans. Soon I will be doing up tomatoes. I love seeing my empty pantry shelves begin to fill back up again.

To catch back up from last month when Dana was in the hospital, he ended up having a major seizure episode, went unconscious so they gave him the Keppra through an IV, and rushed him to the ICU. Thankfully after a couple of hours, Dana was stable again. So now it is on record that he has to have the seizure med. Since coming back home, Dana's oxygen is doing better as he is able to get around more due to having physical therapy each day while in the hospital. As he fell in the hospital, we were also able to get PT started right away again here at home, which is a blessing. The miracle is that Dana didn't break his jaw or any bones when he fell and had his seizure episode pulling his roll aider on top of him- he did bust three teeth that we have an appointment to get fixed.  Dana has had cataract surgery on his right eye that is healing well and will get his left eye done next month.

Dawn and her children came one morning to visit us when she had a VBS at Monterey- about 45 minutes from our house. Dawn is busy once again doing VBS between camps up in IN. I am so grateful that the shots she is taking each month are working and keeping her up on her feet as there is always something going on at her house. She is her mother's daughter.

Dwight putters around in his shop making one-of-a-kind knives (that always has me worried he is going to cut himself doing) and working on vehicles each day that he is able. He is also quite the handy man around the house putting in new faucets etc and keeping my vehicle running. Dwight along with our pastor, another man in the church, and a neighbor has helped us get wood in as well for the upcoming winter. We are truly blessed!

Take care and stay cool!


Monday, June 24, 2019

JUNE Walker Newsletter


I am running late this month as so much has happened recently
A couple of days after I sent out the May newsletter, Dana's father suddenly passed away Sunday morning. It was shock as except for getting slower to get around, he had been doing great for ninety-one years old. Dana's brother, Richard and wife Norma Jean with his two sons came down from Ohio and stayed with us for almost a week. They also took us in their extended cab pickup truck out to Dana's dad's memorial service three hours west here in Tennessee- something that I couldn't have done on my own.
We got to see a lot of the members of the family that we hadn't seen for years.

Right before that, I took Dana to the eye specialist. Dana is now needing carat surgery in both eyes- all the extra eye drops weren't helping.

Then came the wild Tuesday I took Dana to Vanderbilt for the seizure study. I'm not a city driver and was nervous as Nashville is horrible with constant lane changes. As we got closer to Nashville and the two-lane interstate turned into four to six lanes, Dana kept telling me I needed to move over, five minutes later he'd ask what I was doing in that lane and insist that I needed to get over in another lane. We zigzagged our way into Nashville. It was quite a relief to pull into the Vanderbilt parking garage and discover there was free valet service. I followed the signs until we came to a valet office at the elevators. I asked the valet fellow, who kept trying to wave me on, if I couldn't let Dana out there as he was disabled, but was told no I had to go to the end of the row, turn the corner, and find a parking spot. I asked the fellow a second time if  I couldn't let my husband out first and then park, but he shook his head "no" and impatiently waved me on. I dutifully followed his instructions and found a parking spot about a fourth of the way up the incline. About halfway to the top I realized we were in trouble as Dana was gasping for air and had to stop. I was afraid he was going to pass out so I ran up the rest of the way to the top where two valet guys were standing and asked them for a wheelchair for my husband, but was refused. We finally made it to the top and went into the valet office where I once again asked for a wheelchair and was told to wait until one was available.  After waiting ten minutes I called the number I had telling them we were stuck waiting on a wheelchair and we*d get to admitting and signed in as soon as possible. Dana got impatient five minutes later and decided to go and talk to those valet fellows that wouldn’t help. I stayed in the valet office watching Dana in order to be there when a wheelchair showed up. Shortly one arrived so I ran to get Dana. We got on the elevator went up a floor down a hallway then on another elevator and down a couple of floors along another hallway and around a couple of corners. By the time we arrived at admitting I was feeling dizzy. All the people swarming around us as we made our way through the crowds didn’t help either. When the valet fellow went to leave, I asked him how we would find our vehicle and he said just to call the valet service. 

Lo and behold once Dana was checked in (after all the rush to get there on time and worrying about being late), we were told that Dana’s room hadn’t been cleaned yet and it would be another forty-five minutes to an hour. By then it was one thirty and we hadn’t eaten lunch. I wanted to find the cafeteria and eat, but all Dana wanted to do was find a supervisor and complain. By the time a person arrived to talk to Dana it was almost two o’clock and I was starved. I finally convinced Dana to go and eat when a fellow in white coat appeared saying he was one of the doctors and wanted to get started on admitting Dana to the floor even though his room wasn’t ready. Then we were informed that Dana’s room was ready so we got on the elevator and went up to the sixth floor to Dana’s room. There doctor talked to us awhile asking questions about Dana’s previous seizure episodes and getting his medical history. He was quite impressed with the two pages of meds that he took to copy and left telling us a nurse would be in shortly. By now it was three in the afternoon. Relieved that Dana was finally in his room all I wanted to do was give the nurse his meds, locate my vehicle, and head to Dawn’s house, but the next woman that came in wasn’t the nurse. Instead she worked almost two hours wiring Dana up. Another hour passed when the head doctor with a group of other doctors and a lady I arrived and began asking more questions. I patiently waited while everything was gone through again and when they went to leave I asked about giving Dana’s meds to the nurse only to be informed that she wasn’t the nurse, but a doctor, and that Dana’s nurse would be in shortly. I explained that I was concerned about Dana’s insulin that had been out of the frig for now most of the day so one of the doctors offered to take it, label it, and put it in the frig for me, which relieved my mind. Finally shortly before five the nurse arrived saying ‘sorry” she didn’t realize that Dana was already there and began to start an IV. Feeling desperate as I knew I had a good half an hour’s drive ahead of me to reach Dawn’s house and I wanted to get there before dark- not to mention finding my vehicle, I told her that I needed to go over Dana’s meds and give them to her. To my utter shock she said there was no need as they would use the hospital meds. I couldn’t believe my ears after all the trouble I had gone through to make sure Dana would be covered for a week and sitting around all afternoon waiting to give them to her! By then I felt ready to wring someone’s neck. When I told her I was leaving she said that I really needed to stay since Dana had so many medical problems.  Summoning up the last dregs of patience I possessed, I asked if there wasn’t going to be nurses available on the floor and mentioning the round-the-clock monitoring Dana was having from the two large cameras in his room.  She said, “Yes, but she thought I ought to be there to help too.” I simply smiled, said good-bye, told her that my daughter was waiting on me, and left. I took the elevator back down to the main floor and asked at the information desk where I could get a hold of the valet service. They informed me it was right outside the main entrance and would be closing in ten minutes. I sped outside and up to the valet counter asking two valet fellows for help. They asked for my ticket. I explained I hadn’t been given one and was informed there was nothing they could do if I didn’t have a ticket and didn’t know what valet station I had come from. By now I was reduced to tears fighting down panic and praying fervently. I refused to leave telling them I needed someone to help me. One suggesting calling the police, but I wouldn’t budge. I asked to speak to a supervisor. Out of the millions of cars that go in and out of Vanderbilt wouldn’t you know it I would be the girl not to get a ticket! Thankfully a woman arrived and once she heard my story told me not to worry she would personally make sure I found my vehicle.  She asked a bunch of questions and we headed into the nearest parking garage and down on of the long hallways. When we came to the end she asked if anything looked familiar and which way to go. I told her that her guess was as good as mind as nothing looked familiar to me so we walked down more aisles and around corners with me every so often pushing the panic button on my key. I was praying and wondering how much farther I’d have to walk when in the distance she noticed some lights flashing. To my great relief it was my vehicle! The lady graciously drew me a map of how to get out and on to 65 North. Before she left I gave her a grateful hug for her help. I headed north, got off on the right exit, and turned on the road that I knew. When I came to the end of the road I realized I had missed a turn. I called Dawn. She had Annette head out in their vehicle while trying to figure out exactly where I was. By now all the fields and curves looked the same to me.  Annette and I finally met up at an intersection and I followed her the rest of the way to their house. Exactly twelve hours from when I had got up that morning, I staggered into Dawn’s house totally exhausted. The next day I couldn’t even get dressed and had to lay around hardly able to function.

Saturday when I went to pick up Dana from Vanderbilt Dawn drove my vehicle while Annette followed in theirs. They stayed until Dana was discharged a couple of hours later and then I followed Dawn until I was once again back on 40 east only where she got off on an exit to head back to her house. I’ve decided that from now on if Dana needs to go to a hospital in Nashville someone else will have to drive. It’s simply too nerve wracking for me to handle.
The next week I took Dana to the neurologist where he said that since Dana didn’t have epileptic seizures he didn’t need the medication he had been on for over two years- what had ultimately stopped Dana’s episodes- that it was all in his head, and he couldn’t help him anymore.

Dana quit eating, wouldn’t talk, and went into deep depression so the next morning I called his psychiatrist and took Dana to the ER where he was admitted and still is over a week later as they are re-adjusting his meds while tapering him off of the epileptic medication. It’s very frustrating after going through several meds to control Dana’s seizures over the past years that now they are taking him off the one med that worked. I’ve talked to the doctor telling her that I want Dana to be stable before bringing him back home as it is very stressful for me always having to decide when and how to get him to the ER when he is having these episodes that can spike his blood pressure up to stroke range.

I am back up on my feet again after being slowed way down physically from total exhaustion from the past couple of weeks. A good thing as my place now looks like a jungle with all the hedges needing trimming. Amazing how fast things can grow when you are gone for a week.

Before everything happened, I cleared the front, back, and side yards of all the branches and had a burning day so Dwight could get our raggedy yard mowed. I’ve picked the few cherries that survived, have been picking raspberries, peas, and lettuce.  My green beans are nearly ready to pick as well. What joy getting fresh veggies from the garden again. I also made up a double batch of freezer strawberry jam. 

One day the other week, Dwight came in the house saying that the bluebirds were acting strange like something was going on. Lo and behold two baby bluebirds were fledgling and trying to fly. Their tiny wings furiously flapped, but they didn’t have enough momentum or strength to keep going and their tiny bodies would flutter to the ground. So for the first time in my life I picked up and briefly held these miniature wonders of God’s creation in my palm setting them back up on the fence. When they fluttered down to the ground again I made sure that they got inside the enclosed garden so Tex wouldn’t get them. By the next day they were gone. To my delight since I have come home the parent bluebirds are back at the nest to raise another batch of babies. I’m so excited.  Another day I had my first sighting here of a gorgeous bright blue tanager at my front feeder while working in the flowers outside my picket fence. I keep hearing so many different bird songs and looked up to see when one kept coming closer. To my delight when I chirped to this beautiful bird it actually answered me back and we had a conservation back and forth for a little bit.  Between all the blooming flowers and birds I am surrounded by joy out here in my spot in the woods. I am truly blessed.

I am going to hush up and get this Dorcas epistle out in the mail to you. Hope you have a lovely summer on your end!


Sunday, May 19, 2019

MAY Walker Newsletter


The Tennessee Mountains are fully covered in green. I wake up each morning to all kinds of bird songs- my Eastern Bluebirds came back and are raising babies in the Bluebird box outside my bedroom window. I watched in amazement the other morning as the gorgeous male dived until he ran off a pesky squirrel ( he's not even half as big as the squirrel's tail) trying run across the top of the fence where the Bluebird box sits to get to the bird feeder. Dwight helped me fix a smaller enclosed area for the ducks to be outside. It was fascinating to watch them enjoy their first rain. Such a quacking and flapping of wings. Dwight also put a lock on the main gate so each day I'm letting the ducks roam in the woods- much to Tex's dismay as he longingly looks through the fence dying to chase these waddling quacking critters. In the garden the beans are up and tomatoes planted. I've also been working outside my picket fence sowing flower seeds to fill in gaps. My iris are beginning to bloom in all their glory and the first roses are opening to scent the air now that the fragrant wisteria is gone. I finished the hedge row. What a job! The upper part was longer than the first. Thankfully I started at the top of the hill and worked down as we filled up five more pickup truck loads making a huge pile of brush to tackle later. By the time I was finished I could barely walk back to the house, but I now can handle a saws-all quite proficiently. 

Easter Sunday was a lovely warm day. I invited our pastor and his wife over for lunch and we had a grand time together. All was going great until I went to feed the ducks later (that were still in the hen house with their pool) and slipped on the wet indoor steps landing on my right hip. I painfully limped back to the house thankful I hadn't broken my hip. The next couple of days were slower as it was hard to get around since I couldn't put much weight on the hip that was badly bruised.

I also got my last two teeth pulled on the top so no longer can wear my partial denture. It turned out to be painful with more bleeding again. My gums have finally healed. It is humbling to be a toothless granny until my gums completely shrink and I can get a full denture.  So instead of smiling all the time as usual I keep reminding myself to keep my mouth shut.

Even though the weather was chilly and rainy- that usually raises my pain level- I was able to go to church for Mother’s Day and took a bouquet in honor of my mom. I felt spoiled by my kids: Dwight make me a metal sculptured rose and Dawn sent me a miniature blooming rose in a teapot. Best of all was chatting on the phone with my daughter, grand-kids, and even my son-in-law, who told me he had to be nice to me at least once a year.

In a couple of weeks I will be taking Dana to Vanderbilt for his seizure study and will stay with Dawn. I am really looking forward to being with them again. The last visit to the eye doctor, Dana was told his cataract is worse and the doctor ordered more eye drops to be given four times a day. Dana’s physical therapy is finished once more until the insurance kicks in again. Speaking of insurance our pharmacist is still having jump through hoops to get payment for Dana’s insulin. We can only get one bottle at a time that lasts for three days if his sugar doesn’t go up, which happens quite frequently. So I have to make more runs to town to keep Dana in insulin. Ironically, although Dana will be at the Vanderbilt hospital, because the study is considered outpatient, I have to bring enough meds, insulin, and eye drops to cover Dana for a week. I am already counting pills trying to figure ahead working through the two typewritten pages of meds to make sure there will be enough of everything as well as alerting the pharmacy. Isn’t life grand? Dana had a fall the other day while sitting on his roll-aider- something he doesn’t do much as he usually is in his chair- when he forgot to put the brakes on and it slipped out from under him and he landed on the floor. Thankfully no bones were broken.

Dwight is slowly able to do more except for lifting. He has been busy organizing his workshop- where he spends most of his day puttering around unless the weather is bad- and is still slowly unpacking. My son is definitely more laid back. It’s good to see him eating well and getting exercise walking back and forth to his shop or over to the neighbor’s house to chat about car stuff and things that interest guys. So I hated when he got a knee bleed and was down for a couple of days over the weekend. But like his mother he is back up and on his feet again.

Well I do need to hush up and get this out in the mail to you. Hope that everything is going well on your end and you are enjoying warmer weather. Until next time~


Friday, April 19, 2019

APRIL Walker Newsletter


This time of the year, surrounded by a riot of colorful blooms each day, puts a spring in one's heels making one want to do a happy dance- that is if one had the time or energy to do it. It's so exciting day by day see another plant peek out of the ground with tiny green leaves or watch new bulb unfurl its silky bud into a gorgeous flower that is enough to take one's breath away at the beauty of God's creation. Another interesting aspect is discovering some bulbs moving about from year to year in spots where I hadn't planted them thanks to the crazy squirrels.  Spring is definitely full of surprises on my end.

Dwight replaced the roofs on a couple of my bluebird houses, which I then spiffed up with new paint and then built a new roof for my large bird feeder out in the yard and lowered it down to my level making it easier for me to refill. Pastor Sam and Ricky Mamoran from our church came out the other month and put in a couple of windows in the chicken barn for ventilation that was much needed.
I've been busy outside each sunny day happily digging in the dirt planting seeds, thining, and transplanting flowers. I got my red beets, peas, spinach, and lettuce sowed in the garden and hope to get my beans in this week.

But the most thrilling thing yet is the seven baby ducks I bought a month ago. I have missed seeing ducks waddling around the yard eating bugs so much. And since my disastrous experience with the guinea hens didn't work out as bug catchers I have turned back to ducks. I was able to resist the first batch of baby ducks that arrived where I buy my feed convincing myself that I needed to wait until Tex was a bit older and calmer, but the second batch that came in was my waterloo. I must have spent fifteen minutes- thankfully the store was practically empty- talking to the sweet little things and arguing with myself before finally giving in. I made sure to get some big and little ones in order to have males and females as baby ducks are a lot of work to raise and I'd prefer for them to keep up the population themselves. It's amazing how fast little duckies grow. They are now out of the brooder and down in the old henhouse- Dwight helped me plug up all the holes- where there hasn’t been any signs of rats since we kept poison out for a couple of months now thank goodness. I put in a small pool for them and what fun they have splashing and playing around. Tiny wisps of feathers have appeared on their little bodies. I love going out each day, despite having to lug water and feed, to the ducks hearing them chatter as soon as they hear my voice and watching their tiny tails waggle back and forth in joy as I fill up the feeder with food and pour out the water. I have to tear myself away after indulging in watching them play in the water or run around exploring their new space. Always before I had just white ducks, which are difficult to tell apart- this time I got ducks that are multicolored in order to be able to name them. I am open to any suggestions for names. What fun!

The plan is to put in a two smaller gates in the duck pen (the old chicken yard)- one going to the yard around the house and the other to the woods- and make the large gate in the fence more secure that divides our yard and woods in half. That way we can keep Tex down in the woods while the ducks are safe to wander around the house or Tex at the house and let the ducks roam the woods. Then once the ducks are put up for the night Tex can have the run of the place. My daughter also suggested that I can let the hens (Butterscotch, Peaches, Henny, Penny, Matilda, Chicken Little, Nicole, Big Mama, and the four that look so much alike you can’t tell apart: Enne, Meene, Minne, and Moe) roam around as well when the ducks are in the yard. This will really help keep the tick population down that is to be worse this year.

Right now I’m halfway through a huge project from sheer desperation. The hedge along the fence in front of the woods has gotten completely out of control due to Dana being hospitalized  a couple of times each year and me being down on antibiotics from ticks. When I went to tackle it last year I realized that the large trunks were too thick to cut with my clippers as I want to cut it way back in order to keep it no higher than the fence.  So I got a brainstorm and decided that I could learn to handle the saw all that is smaller than a heavy chainsaw. I figured the hedge couldn’t be much higher than 6 to 8 feet and I could load the cut branches in the back of Dwight’s pickup. Well lo and behold, after Dwight carefully explained how to use the saws all and I geared up with heavy gloves to attack the hedge, once I got in the hedge it was a lot bigger than I had thought towering way over me. Not to be deterred I braced myself and began cutting the first branch. I managed to get the saws all jammed a couple of times until Dwight explained that I needed to cut at the back of the lean instead of into it. Then the blade fell off on me, which Dwight put back in and tightened up.  Slowly but surely huge branches began to topple over like small trees. When the enormous branches fell over the fence, despite tugging with all my might and main I couldn’t budge them, so dear Dwight would come and help me drag them over the fence and up into the back of the truck. We loaded up the pickup twice with huge loads- it turns out they are more like 12 to 15 feet long. I made it halfway down the hedgerow before having to quit yesterday looking like a crazy woman with tangled hair streaming down my face as I wrestled with the massive branches. Needless to say I am going a lot slower today, but the hedgerow is looking so much better already.  As usual I need to hush up as I’ve run out of room.

May you have a blessed Easter season!