Monday, February 28, 2011

Abortion History Myths

Like me, I'm sure you've heard all the horror stories of back-alley coat-hanger abortions.  Apparently those are more scare-tactics than fact.

For instance:

3. Criminal abortions were not, by and large, the deplorable and filthy quacks so popularly presented in abortion advocacy lore. As Planned Parenthood's Mary Calderone pointed out in 1960, "Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; and many of them are in good standing in their communities. They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is." And just one year earlier, in 1959, Planned Parenthood's Alan Guttmacher said, "They have to be good to stay in business, since otherwise they would be extremely vulnerable to police action."

More here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Field Progress

We're still slowly working toward having an endless supply of free hamburger.

Okay, maybe that's not the right way to put it.  We want to be able to answer "right here!" when someone asks, "Where's the beef?!?"

Before winter set in, we'd successfully ripped out an old fence along the road, and put in wooden H-frames and corner posts, plus a wood post ever 100 feet along the run, and most of the steel t-posts. We have a few more t-posts to plant, once the ground is softer, and then we need to stretch the fence and attach it to the posts. We won't even talk about the 1100-foot run of sagging fence that needs torn up and redone (with posts closer together and, um, maybe something sturdy like an H-frame somewhere along there.).

So far gravity irrigation has been the method of watering, beginning along the ditch and flowing north - which is a full quarter-mile to the property line - and it hasn't ever resulted in even coverage. We've tossed around the idea of putting in some other irrigation method - certainly not as cheap or easy as gravity - and things seem to be coming together.

We bought about 1000 feet of aluminum mainline pipe from a big farmer/rancher in the area. Hubby works on his pivots frequently, so was comfortable calling him up to ask about it. It's dented in spots, and parts need outright replaced, but at $1/foot, it was a good deal.

We plan to put this pipe down the centerline of the field - north/south, equidistant between the side fences.  There are valves at the end of each segment of pipe (30' or 60'), and we can attach a hose (not a garden hose. More like a fire hose) from that to a Big Gun. These bear similarity to the little back-and-forth sprinklers you might use in your lawn, but are as long as your arm or more. And the price for just one? Easily four-digits.. Hubby can get a good deal on a used one from work, but he dug around and found four smaller-style units (still bigger than lawn sprinklers) that we hope might work instead. They were castoffs from people upgrading and instead of getting rid of them, he drug them home... :]

Hubby did some math (take THAT, teachers who thought he'd amount to nothing!) and figured out the size and strength of pump we'd need, and we got one from his work - for a good price. :)  You may think that since he's worked there for ... 11 years, that we'd have gotten some of these deals before now, and made some other changes farm-wise... Well, it hasn't ever really worked out that way, so I'm grateful that the grace is there now. :)

We began to really think through how we might power that pump. You can see from the property sketch that the water for the field is nowhere near the power for the house. Years ago I'd called the power company to see what we'd have to do to get power up there in case we wanted to water more suitably, and I think the first thing the gal said was "a new pole to start, that'll be $700." We didn't have any real plans, and we certainly didn't have any real money either, so I choked and stopped her right there. Hubby used google earth, then a real-live measuring tool, and we measured from our electric meter base way out to where we'd want the pump. It was a good 1000+ feet, and he did more math (boo-yah) to figure out what kind of wire we'd need (going underground with wimpy wire will lose amperage* or voltage* or something like that). He got a soft quote from his boss (not sure if this was retail price or employee price) at somewhere around $2/foot. *choke*  Suddenly the power company didn't sound too bad.  I called them and met with a guy to look at where/what we needed, and we do NOT need a pole (well, we need our own meter-base pole, but that's not the power company's job). They will hang a transformer* and stuff for single-phase* electricity for probably under $200! [update: $348. Don't blog about your chickens before they hatch.] We have to put in a pole, wire up a meter and all that, have it inspected and they'll hook us up and we'll be good to go. Oh, and among the businesses listed on the little paper he gave me where we can get a utility pole? Hubby's work. :)

We need somewhere to pump out of; a pond or can (a big corrugated pipe segment with a bottom that can sit in the ground). Cans are hundreds of dollars sometimes, but Hubby found an old nasty one that had sat in the corner of the shop yard at work. It had been used for dirty oil or something (I better scrub that out if we want to be at all organic, eh? :) ), and he got it for $25.
The Eventual Plan

So. We're making progress, though I have no idea whether it's nearly enough or not. We have pipe, pump, sprinkler heads, can. We need hose(s), a power pole/meter base, to install the can, etc. This is in addition to finishing the fences, building and figuring out portable electric fencing, oh, and buying cows. THAT'S a whole other hurdle to jump. Where do we buy them? What kind? How will we get them here? How will we know if they're growing well? How will we know if there's anything wrong? What if the grass grows faster than the cows and we need to mow? Where do we get a mower? How do we mow? Will we bale it? Where will we store it? What if the cows don't like the forage? How will we know when they're 'ripe'?  What if we want to go camping for a few days? I'm trying to take it one step at a time, but you can see I can get overwhelmed easily. :]

Will it happen this year? I don't know. Just this irrigation switch has me surprised, both that we're doing it, and that it's coming along. I'm trying to trust God that He knows what we need and when we need it, and will supply for those needs as he has all these others. :)

*Note, I have no real idea what I'm talking about here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ipod Cozy

My birthday present needed some protection. A cozy place to spend its days and nights.  I looked online for tutorials, and searched Etsy for ideas, but I was surprised at how few of them even came close to what I wanted.  I finally just trekked out alone, into Trial-n-Error Land. :)

I wanted something I could keep the ipod in while I used it. I toyed with the idea of leaving a round cutout for the control-thingy, and a rectangle open (or covered with plastic) for the screen, but decided that was a lot of variables to mess with on short notice.

Yes, I used (some of) the same fabric as my wallet. :) When secured, the flap leaves open the plug area for the earbuds, and also the little lock-switch thingy.

I wanted a slot in the bottom so I could charge it - without removing it. The front sports a pocket for tucking in earbuds, though usually I just wrap the wires around the whole thing, then secure it with the velcro-flap.

And of course I left the selvage dots. :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Gigi, I may have mentioned, is Catholic.  She's her own brand, though, being pro-choice and (very) pro-birth control. Her early plan was to become a nun, which didn't work out, but sometimes I wonder if she'd have been this kind:

It's hard to see (and I had to take about 23 photos to get it this good), but this nun toy spits fire.  Sparks, actually.  It's a wind-up toy with those weird robotic-style feet that walk it along, and every few steps she stops and something inside made of steel grinds against something inside made of flint, and sparks fly out of her mouth.

Or did, before my kids wore her nearly out.  Now you're lucky to witness a feeble flash as she marches along.

My mom went to Catholic school back when this kind of nun served as teacher.  I'm sure you know someone with the same stories she told... :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dietary Update

We finally decided to get a blood test done for Little Artist, after 4+ months of 'guessing.'

First, a recap:
Five weeks in saw incredible turnaround in her digestion, elimination, attitude, behavior, etc. Shortly thereafter I became less diligent at giving her digestive enzymes with each meal, and continued to have spurts of forgetfulness around the holidays and such. She lost some ground, however it was still vast improvement over her pre-diet conditions. The doctor advised me that he was using a different lab* for the same IgG antigen-whatever test, which was about half the price of the former lab (the former lab offers lots of 'support', the new lab just the results).

Early February we had an appointment and I requested the test. He also ordered a full gluten-panel to check for celiac disease.  She didn't enjoy having her blood drawn, but recovered from it quickly.  I'm not sure, however, if I've even yet recovered from taking four kids into a blood-draw lab and all that entails. :)

The good news:
She tested very low on the lab's gluten-test. She does NOT have celiac disease.
All of her food sensitivities are minor ones: +1s only. :)
Yeast and nuts are not reactive.

The bad news:
Gluten DID score as one of the sensitivities, as did rice (!), buckwheat, casein (a milk protein), coconut (ack!), tuna and other fish we never eat, green peppers, broccoli (she is even sad at that), cherries, and a few others.

I was wondering about the coconut; we give (gave) her coconut oil with nearly every meal in place of butter, and rice was obviously a common standby. I have made ghee for her today. I think. I'm SO GLAD that eggs are ok, and corn. I'm VERY SURPRISED that yeast is fine. She is thrilled with the prospect of pickles. :)

The doctor wants to see in in another month (sigh) after total and complete annihilation avoidance of the reactive foods, and I'm debating on canceling the appointment, what with the cost of everything going up, including his follow-up office visits.  I've found a website that sells the same fancy brand** of enzymes and other supplements the doc does, at lower prices, so I plan to switch and purchase her enzymes that way.  Hubby's too. It seems like enzymes are just a necessary part of her world, and I wonder at that. I sure wish decent ones weren't so expensive. :]

I'm glad to have concrete information, and I kindof wish we had gone this route from the beginning. Then again, she may have had more or more severe sensitivities before we eliminated so much from her diet, and maybe these reactive foods are the best-case scenario we can work with from here on out.

*The lab was Alletess in Massachusetts.
**Klaire products are super-mega-guaranteed to be free of common allergens and contaminants. Early efforts at purchasing them online were halted due to "must have a doctor's order" and I wasn't bold enough to ask for that order so I could undercut our doc. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'm SO In.

Did you hear that the IRS is now offering a tax deduction for nursing mothers?  That is, that breast pumps and 'other breastfeeding supplies' will now be deductible?


What kind of "other breastfeeding supplies" do you suppose they're talking about?

Because I have some really effective supplies.  A pair of them, actually. They've put in years of service, and continue to do so. [Is this a retroactive deduction, do you think?]

I have some questions though. How would I figure my deduction?  Maybe it's like the 'home office deduction,' where you add up all the property taxes, heating, cooling, electricity, maintenance, etc that your home requires, then proportionally allot part of it as the 'office' expense based on square footage. Should I track the costs of running my body? Food, medicine, clothing and the like? But how would I determine the proportion of my 'equipment?' By weight? Volume? Surface area??? And is it to be measured at the start of lactation, or year's end? Maybe the 1040 instructions will just come with a chart: Find your height, cup size, and ta-da, the percent is done for you.

I've heard about the IRS hiring some 20,000 new agents. I think now I know why. All us nursing Mamas will need someone to double-check our figures. Where do you think they'll be getting the training for such audits? The TSA? I'd heard a lot of talk on the Right about Obama giving yet higher pay to federal union employees, but I had no idea these were the kind of 'benefits' being offered.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A New Wallet!

I love a new wallet.  Don't you?  Clean, crisp, perfect spots to put certain things.  I do love it when I know just the *right* place for something.  Probably because until and unless there is a *right* place, it just sits out in the way and clutters my life.  I don't know why...

But in any case.. I made myself this new wallet!

How long do you suppose it will remain white?

It's not terribly unlike the last wallet I made; the outside is one piece however, not 'quilted,' I used a magnetic clasp instead of resin snaps, it HAS A ZIPPER POCKET (a major reason for making this), and has an extra row of card-pockets.  The flap with the clasp is also slightly rounded instead of square-cornered.

See my milkmaid milking my cow?  Lovely!
 I was given a few scraps of this upholstery fabric from one of Gigi's friends, and fell in love with it.  Picturesque scenes of yesteryear farming;  women carrying a yoke, milking a cow, gathering sheaves, men stacking a wagon, children with sheep and dogs and chickens.  There wasn't much fabric, and only one piece with the milkmaid, which I determined would be made into something for myself.  I had a little heart-attack when Little Artist presented me with a Christmas present - a portion of this fabric folded and sewn into a 'bag' of sorts..  But thankfully the milkmaid was on a different scrap! :)

Lining and clasp.
 I love the lining fabric.  I'm not so certain it really 'goes' with the rustic outer print, but it's a fun difference I suppose.

The little red clip holds my check register usually.  Easy access to write transactions!
 The lower fabric is a fun print that reminds me of the 50's fabrics.  I made some beautiful makeup cases out of it at Christmas, though I didn't take a photo of them before giving them away!  There are a total of 8 credit-card pockets, which hold my debit card, costco card, driver's license, business cards, appointment reminder cards, etc.  My previous wallet lacked the little seams to the far left and right of these pockets, and as a result things were very loose in them.  I remedied that by tucking a few real-life cards in as I made it, and sewed so they'd fit snugly.  Behind these pockets is a deep, wide pocket that holds a book of checks.

Ooo, I still have a Barnes & Noble gift card!
The top (lower part of the above photo) has a wide pocket for receipts, a zippered pocket in front of that, and a pair of card-style pockets in front of that.  These are deeper than the credit-card pockets, and hide the contents completely.  The zippered pocket is for the money. I can't tell you HOW OFTEN my previous wallet would lose coins to the floor - the wide rear pocket was the best I could do for coins, and it didn't do well at all. :)  I love the zipper.  I also added a little loop of pretty elastic and it holds two pens superbly!  Why two? Well, why not? :] Previously my pen(s) lived in the pocket with the checks.

The cream and brown print is probably not the wisest choice for something as hauled-around and oft-used as a wallet, but I can wash it. Or make a new one someday. :)  I'm so pleased to be able to replace something without going out and spending money on something made in China (ok; I don't know really where the fabric, zipper, or clasp was made.  I might've done this anyway.), and glad to be able to 'customize' it to work for me!  Easier than shopping for just such! :)

I loosely followed this Quilted Wallet Tutorial.  I have no advice for the zipper (not part of that tutorial) except this:  Do NOT do it the way I did.  Not that I could *explain* the way I did it, but...

Friday, February 04, 2011

Boo Hiss

Well, I'm back.   Or, more precisely, my computer is back. I still love it, but I'm less in love with the People Behind It than I was before.

Last year I got a MacBook.  And I can't tell you how excited I am to be using it now, 10.5 months later, and it still WORKS! That never happened with most computers I've owned.

However, there's a line on the screen that is lighter than the surrounding area, mostly noticeable when watching a movie or with other dark-screen things.  I hauled it with me to an Apple Store when I visited Gigi a bit ago, to get their advice.  I had to have an appointment with a Genius, and he ascertained that I needed a new screen, which he could fix. Because it was still within the first year of ownership, it would not cost me anything. However, to have him fix it, I would have to leave the computer with him for a few days, plus make a backup of all my data beforehand.  Well, I was leaving town that evening, and couldn't just run to and fro for such a thing (besides not having an external hard drive, etc), so he advised me to call Apple Care, get a special box shipped to me, ship my computer to them after making my backup, and on and on. I jumped through these hoops, and send my laptop to them last Monday.

I received a call yesterday, "Leah" informing me that the screen replacement is NOT covered, that their technician decided the computer was mistreated somehow, therefore it would cost me.

Seven hundred, seventy-five dollars.

Are. You. Flippin'. Kidding. Me?!??!?

Um, thanks but no thanks.  Send it back please.

Which they did.

I called the store to find out why the disparity between decisions, and apparently that's just how it works. If the store decides there is no additional damage between their last assessment and this one, they will still fix it.

If I get it to them.

If I reserve a big block of 'genius' appointments so they can do it on-site.

If they have the right part in stock.

If, if, if.

Quite frankly, I'm a little bothered.  I lived five days without my computer, certainly subjecting it to temperature shifts and road vibration and who-knows-what.  I shopped for an external hard drive (which I probably should have done anyway, but wouldn't have). I even re-visited Gigi in the interim, wherein I could have done the now- recommended option.  Making another trip (or even two, if the repair is delayed) will not be exactly cheap, or easy.  I don't think any of those Mac Geniuses have been in a room with four children, let alone spent 4 hours round-trip with them in an enclosed van.  Do you think they can operate carseats with the same skill with which they operate Mac OSX?

IF I show up, and the've changed their minds, I might just make a scene.  Or, alternatively, let my children loose in their store for 5 minutes... :]