The Opioid Crisis, A Pain Patient’s Perspective

I am a night owl, preferring the evening hours as my most productive, although my neighbors may not like it very well if I decide to whip out the Dyson for a midnight cleaning session. I’ve always been night-oriented, although as I get older I don’t venture out after dark much anymore. But last night was not really unlike any other night except for not feeling well when I finally decided to go to bed.

I got up from my computer, grabbed the cat’s bowls and headed to the kitchen to feed them. As a fibromyalgia sufferer, I am a little more prone to odd things… earlier in the day I was having a costochondritis flare up. Costo, which causes pain along the breastbone, is very easy to mistake for more sinister illnesses, such as a heart attack. The inflammation is easy for me to differentiate… if I can make the pain worse by pressing on the painful area, it is costochondritis. Oversimplified, perhaps, but it works for me.

When I got to our kitchen pass-through, I dropped off the cat bowls and brought my phone and other stuff back to the bedroom. Hubby was not quite asleep, despite him having gone to bed hours prior. I walked back to the kitchen to begin feeding the ‘kids’ their bedtime meal when I felt the chest pain start. But this time, it was accompanied by shortness of breath. Still, I wasn’t sure I needed to head out to the ER, but as the time progressed over the next few minutes my mind quickly changed.

I finished feeding the cats while hubby dragged his poor, tired self out of bed (bless his heart!!) and got dressed. I then consulted my online nemesis, WebMD, and finished thoroughly freaking myself out. Considering my family history, I tend not to mess around with chest pain, even if I suspect it’s nothing serious. Better to find out it’s nothing than to do nothing and find out too late I should have gone.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, there were few people waiting around, and since cases like mine usually take priority, I didn’t figure we’d be mingling in the “gen pop” very long. We approached the desk to check in, and I kid you not, the person behind the counter looked at both of us, hubby probably looking more like the sick one, asked us which one of us was sick, grabbed her things and said goodnight to the rent a cop sitting behind her. I looked at hubby… Really? I mouthed to him. He nudged me and told me to be patient. Ironically, I was the patient. Not what he meant, but okay.

A half hour later, we were in a room in the back. My first EKG was looking normal, a preliminary good sign. The nurse set up a Roto-Rooter in my left arm, choosing a vein that is deceptively awful for doing IVs. After getting samples from that port, she quickly decided, after my painful protesting, that she’d try a new spot for the IV. Next was a chest X-ray followed by a healthy dose of waiting.

About 90 minutes into this ordeal, there was a near panic among the medical staff about a patient outside. My first thought was, Oh great… this is going to delay us getting out of here any time soon. However, it quickly became clear they were dealing with a drug overdose, as the nurses rushed the man, gasping for air on the gurney, toward the trauma unit, and another nurse yelling for Narcan. Suddenly my piddly problems seemed so minute as this unknown person struggled for life a few rooms away. Thank God, the Narcan worked like it was supposed to, and saved another life from ending too soon to an epidemic that touches every family somewhere in this country.

Long story short (and since I finally reached my true topic at hand), after blood tests, a CT angiography, nitroglycerin pills, a morphine shot that I thought was actually going to kill me, half a bag of IV fluid and a GI cocktail, I was released after nearly 10 hours of being poked, prodded and fussed about. They ruled out every sinister cause of my pain, leaving me to believe it is reflux pain with a little costochondritis thrown in for good measure. I did come away from the night’s activities with a few thoughts on which I’d like to opine.

As a chronic pain patient, I keep very close eyes on what is happening around the country with the opioid problem. First are the vapid promises from politicians who are all too eager to pass sweeping legislation that will do next to nothing to solve the problems and ends up affecting (either intentionally or unintentionally) those the legislation is intended to protect. Next, and inevitably, the demonization that chases every man and woman that legitimately needs this type of medication to have any quality of life. We pain patients tend to be overlooked, fall through the cracks and painted with the same broad brush as the abusers who make our lives a living hell. For every one of me, there seems to be at least 5 people hopelessly addicted to either prescription pain medication or worse. I guess, with how this crisis is reported, it’s easy to feel forgotten, overlooked and just plain screwed (pardon the expression).

That something needs to be done is painfully obvious. But the tricky answer to this problem is…. What, exactly? The POTUS’ newest declaration of war on opioid is troubling. We can’t just marginalize chronic pain sufferers, but it is totally unacceptable that we lose another life to this national embarrassment. And speaking for the millions of fellow pain sufferers, a general ban on the “worst” drug (whatever that happens to be at any given moment) is not the answer. Street drugs like heroin are already illegal, so it seems pretty clear that the illegality of these drugs isnt making an impact. I wish I had the fix for this broken system, but I don’t.

Because people become addicted to legal pain prescriptions, I am already subjected to random urine drug screen tests several times a year, administered by a pain specialist that fortunately cares enough to pursue adequate pain treatment options. I also understand and appreciate the risk he takes to prescribe these medications to me. He always makes sure I understand the risk involved, and because I have a healthy respect (maybe even fear) for these medications, I take them exactly as prescribed. Not one pill more, but not one less than is needed to control my pain enough for me to live my life. It is a delicate balance, and looking back, a road I wish I had never taken.

I also know that, taken exactly as prescribed, the likelihood of addiction is low for chronic pain patients. That isn’t to say it doesn’t or hasn’t happened, but we are, as a demographic, less likely to abuse our pain medications. That should count for something when it comes to consideration in legislation. All we ask is to not be minimalized and forgotten in the national debate. We need someone to sit at that table on our behalf. Who will step up and speak for us?

The author is a fibromyalgia and chronic pain patient since 1999. Having exhausted all other treatment options, opioids are the treatment of last resort for many chronic pain sufferers. These patients become physically dependent on, not addicted to, these medications. There is a vast difference between dependency and addiction. It would do society and our lawmakers well to learn the difference, so that these patients can be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

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It’s Time To Get Real!

I’ve been immersing myself in documentaries since I began this juicing journey. The first one, maybe not so obviously, was “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” If you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll sum it up quickly. This flick documents the juicing journey of one Joe Cross, an Aussie who came to America to embark on a 60 day fast, which he called a “reboot.” He suffered from a chronic, autoimmune disorder called Urticaria, which from what I understand is chronic hives with itching and pain. Sounds awful. Over the course of his 60 day reboot and over 3500 miles of driving across the USA he lost over 70 pounds and got himself off all medications that he took to manage his urticaria. Amazing, isn’t it?

It was this call to action that drew me in. Come regain your health!  Come lose extra weight!  I have vested interest in both. I am quite overweight, and together with the Fibromyalgia I admit I was sucked in. This isn’t a bad thing. We bought a juicer after Christmas and we started this journey on February 1st. We’ve both been moderately successful so far, but the fasting is only the beginning of a lifestyle change.

Back to my original point. It’s time to get real. I have been watching, on the advice of others who have been similarly impassioned by other food-related documentaries, these movies about “Big Food,” and government conspiracies to keep the populace sick and fat. While I have a deep distrust of government, laying the blame for an overweight and obese society solely on the shoulders of government is a bit disingenuous.

At some point, the individual has to take responsibility for what goes into his or her mouth.

At no point in my life did a government official point a loaded pistol to my head and make me eat unhealthy food. It may be true that lobbyists are very powerful in government… probably more powerful than they should be. But I am more than capable of reading a “Nutrition Facts” label, and scanning the ingredients for nefarious items on said list.

One documentary in particular goes as far as to say, “It’s not your fault that you’re obese.” Really? …..Really??  Food companies make it difficult sometimes to ascertain what is actually in their products, but to lay the blame on a whole industry?  Where is personal accountability in this whole equation?

I’ve been told my whole life I’m lazy. Maybe to some extent that may be true. I’m not exactly what I’d call motivated, and sometimes I’d rather just sit and surf the Internet for an hour than do housework. But no one has really come out and told me that my weight has been the result of my own poor food choices. Not even my doctor (though, oddly enough my eye doctor suggested that I look into weight loss surgery. I wanted to ask his qualifications for making that assessment, but I held back) has come close to saying, “You’re fat. Stop eating fattening foods!” Everyone pussyfoots around this problem.

It’s time to get real.

If your doctor won’t say it, and society at large will not say it, then I will. You are fat because you make poor food choices!  I know this is a very non-PC thing to say, but someone has to be the beacon of truth.  The good news, and there is good news, is that if it’s your fault you are obese, then you have the power to change it!  In fact, you are the only one who can change this. That isn’t to say this is an easy thing to accomplish.  In fact, the diet food industry makes sure that your weight loss journey isn’t easy.  If they made it terribly easy, then they’d lose all those billions of dollars every year.  But this is where personal accountability really kicks in.  Because it is your responsibility to make sure you understand food labels and how to read them!

You can bet that if a food product says, “low fat,” that is code for “we added a crap ton of sugar to make up for the lower fat content.”  As a rule, full fat products contain less added sugar and chemicals than their lower fat counterparts.  This is especially true when it comes to dairy products, like sour cream and yogurt.  A quick glance at the ingredients label will show this to be true.  And besides, your body needs dietary fats.  And not all fats are made the same.  Avocado and olives are both considered to be fatty fruits.  However, olive oil is one of the healthiest oils available, and avocados have monounsaturated fats, which are heart healthy compared to saturated fats from red meats and other animal products.  In addition, cholesterol comes solely from animal proteins.  If you consume a vegetarian/ vegan diet, you will not be consuming dietary cholesterol!

A healthy diet should steer clear away from foods that are heavily processed.  Look for foods as close to their natural state as possible, with nothing added or taken away. Have you ever seen Hot Pockets growing on trees?  When was the last time you saw a hot dog walking around a pasture?  You haven’t.  Foods like that are so laden with chemicals that if you truly read what was in it and understood the ramifications of putting stuff like that into your body, you’d never eat it again.  Choose grass fed, free range beef and vegetarian-fed, cage free poultry and eggs, and wild caught fish (or better yet, stay away from animal proteins altogether.)

I make no apologies for the statements I’ve made in this article, because they are truth, as disturbing as it may be for some to hear.  This has been a realization for me in the past three months, too, since watching “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” for the first time.  Because I have been told repeatedly that my weight and health isn’t my fault, and there isn’t much I can do to change my weight because I can’t exercise how I need to for a drastic weight change (by the way, the “calories in/calories burned” equation is another lie.  It is nearly impossible for an average, busy person to burn off more calories than they take in per day!  Think about it.) This is my fault.  But this is good, because it means I have the power to change.

I hope you think about what I’ve written here today, and take it to heart.  I know since giving up the standard American diet of junk and processed foods and changing to whole, clean foods I feel better.  My head is clearer, I sleep better, I have much more energy and less pain.  All I did was juice for 23 days, and continue a vegetarian diet afterwards.  You can do it, too.  I have faith in you!  But you need to take the first steps towards change, and commit to it.  For your loved ones. For your health!  For you.

It’s time to get real.

I Need To Rant A Bit…

Since my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia I have become increasingly sensitive to a variety of different things. I really won’t go so far as to say I have allergies because that would imply some sort of drastic reaction to the substance. For example, I can no longer eat iceberg lettuce because it does not like me. I will spare you the details of how it does not “like” me, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I would call that a sensitivity rather than a true allergy. And in the same manner, I have this increased sensitivity to many foods and external products.

A few years ago after watching a documentary called, “Sweet Poison,” I gave up the artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame potassium (or acesulfame K) and sucralose. Soon after those chemicals were purged from my body, I noticed a significant decrease in my pain level. It was enough to make the sacrifice worth it, and though I had no intention of resuming any consumption of these sweeteners, I vowed anew to keep them out of my diet permanently. Now, if I happen to have a product with any of these sweeteners in it, I can tell immediately. The artificial taste gives this stuff away, and I usually just spit it out and go about my day.

Recently, I have noticed these products, specifically sucralose, being hidden into more and more everyday products, even those that are not listed as being low sugar or low calorie. My first experience with this was Swiss Miss hot cocoa. After we bought our first Keurig coffee machine, we had a few samples of coffees and other hot drinks that came with it. One of these was a K Cup of Swiss Miss hot cocoa. I thought the idea was wonderful, as there was just enough hot water in one small cup to make a perfect, steamy cup of cocoa.  But the first (and last) sip revealed that telltale taste of sucralose. I was puzzled because the cocoa was not marketed as low sugar or sugar free. This was their regular cocoa. The very next time I shopped, I checked the ingredient label on every variety of their regular cocoa, and sure enough every one of them, except for their natural variety, has sucralose in the list. Luckily, I found a brand that does not use any artificial sweeteners in their mix, and I buy it exclusively now.

Because of this revelation I have to check every single item I purchase before I buy it. Sucralose does not have a warning on the label like its predecessor, aspartame, has under the ingredients. It is not as simple to tell without reading the entire label if the item contains sucralose. And it appears in things you would never suspect. Mouthwash, toothpaste, regular chewing gum, some presweetened drinks (like PepsiCo’s Lipton Brisk bottled teas,) canned fruit, even if it is not labeled sugar free or low sugar, juice drinks, cereals, flavored oatmeal, the list is endless. It is very difficult for me to find mint candies or chewing gum that is safe. It is frustrating and unnecessary that these, “crap sugars,” as I call them, are in a huge percentage of commercially prepared and sold products.

The latest discovery was really maddening, however. One of my favorite soda pop flavors is Mountain Dew’s Game Fuel*, cherry citrus flavor. It has a limited production and availability, usually coinciding with the release of a highly anticipated video game. And I found a bottle in my grocery’s cooler while shopping yesterday and I picked up a bottle, excited about finding it again. My first sip was an immediate mixture of pleasure and disgust, because I tasted the sucralose in the first mouthful. Why, oh why do these companies feel the need to put this stuff in every freaking product they make??? Either they don’t realize that people in the general population are trying to cut this artificial crud out of our bodies for a whole host of reasons, or they are yielding to the public outcry against high fructose corn syrup. If they want to use that stuff in their products, fine and dandy, but they should be required to disclose the use of sucralose and acesulfame K on the front of their packaging. I am so tired of being unpleasantly surprised, especially when it appears in a product I would have never guessed.

I am surprised that so many things have these artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes in a society where people are steering away from processed food and more toward organic, whole food items.  These chemicals are not safe, but somehow the demonization of artificial sweeteners was localized to aspartame. Somehow, sucralose and acesulfame K were spared the scrutiny and appear in even more items than did their predecessor. But I don’t believe that either of those two are any safer than aspartame and someday will be proven so.

I will continue to keep these chemicals out of my body, because I tend to be sensitive to their effects. Consumed in large amounts, these sweeteners (at least for me) cause symptoms similar to those caused by MSG, including migraine headache and muscle aches.

Thank you, kind reader(s), for allowing my rant. Sometimes, these things need to be said only if for no other reason but to vent a frustration.  I’ll be back soon with a more uplifting post!

*Disclaimer: These statements are based upon my personal experiences with these chemicals.  There is no malice or libel intended on any specific company.  I am simply stating factual information that is readily and publicly available on the labels of the products listed here.  People who are sensitive to artificial sweeteners and fat substitutes (a whole different subject for discussion) have a right and a need to know that these substances are being used in common, everyday products.

And Kitten Makes Five!

I am, admittedly, a HUGE cat freak.  Well, I’m huge anyway (1/4 Italian) but that’s besides the point.  What I mean is, I love my cats.  My husband and I weren’t fortunate enough to have human children, and cats are probably the neediest, closest comparison to real children that I could handle.  I told a friend the other day that we wanted human kids, but cats were all we could handle.  I think I got that down just right.  Truth bomb, coming up.

I usually save all of my cat-related stuff and stories for my cat blog, Life With Cats, but this blog has been neglected as of late.  Not because I’ve been terribly busy (I have been) but because I don’t think about it as much as I did when the blog was new.  And, for my (two?) readers to get a better sense of who I am and what makes me tick, there’s no better way then to introduce the part of my life that makes me a better caregiver: cat guardianship.

I’ve been “cat mom” to seven wonderful creatures over the past 22 years, two of which we still have today.  Sassy is our now sixteen year old Ragdoll cat.  In kitty years, that puts her at approximately 78-80 years old.  She’s slowing down and starting to show her age, but she looks overall like a much younger cat.  We’ve had her since she was approximately 10 weeks old, so she’s a “lifer.”  Pixel, our boy and resident tabby, is just about 10 1/2 years old.  He’s still playful and lazy at the same time.  If you knew Pixel, you could see how he could pull off this veritable oxymoron with great ease.  Pixel has recently accomplished a significant weight loss, from a hefty 23 pounds down to an almost finished goal of 18 pounds.  He has much more energy than he used to have, but is still one of the laziest cats I’ve ever had.  Needless to say, we love them both immensely.

Last week, while shopping at PetSmart for some new toys for my boy, I stopped at the PetSmart Charities adoption center to do my usual kitten/cat ogling.  I had lost interest in adopting another cat since the devastating loss of my Persian tortoiseshell, Tika, back in 2010.  But I do enjoy stopping at the shelter or places like PetSmart to “ooh and aah” and talk to the kitties.  But that day, something was different, and it was something I hadn’t felt since the day we found Tika at the shelter in 1998.  That was the day we first met Mercy (then named “Stitch,”) a one-eyed grey tabby kitten.  It wasn’t so much the fact that she was a kitten, but that she was profoundly disabled that we were drawn to her.  Disabled or special needs kittens and cats are much less likely to be adopted than normally-abled cats, and that cute little face just drew us in like flies to butter (is that a Southern saying?  Where did that come from?!)

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Take me home with you please!!

From that instant, we knew we were meant to be Mercy’s guardians.  We were told that she was rescued from a large TNR (trap, neuter, release) feral colony in the next town over, and that she had an infection in her eye that necessitated its removal.  She was approximately 11 weeks old, but looked so tiny that I thought the age estimate was probably wrong.  Of the three kittens that were rescued, she was the last to become ready for adoption, and not a moment too soon.

So, last Saturday, June 25th, Mercy became an official member of the family. She has been adapting rather well and has shed the cage from where she saw the world, or at least the inside of PetSmart. It has been a long time since we’ve had charge of a 12 week old kitten, and I’m not as young as I used to be.  I’ve forgotten how much work goes into maintaining two different schedules for two sets of cats.  I would imagine that this is but a microcosm of what bringing a baby home would be like.  Except I don’t have to get up at all  hours of the night to feed and change a kitten.  Could you imagine?  No thanks. Not at the tender age of 47 (that would be MY age, in real human years.)

Welcome to your new forever home, little Mercy monster. I’m so blessed to be called your “mama.”

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Let’s play, Mom!!

Happy First Birthday, Blog!

Well, along with many other important dates, the anniversary of the beginning of this little blog has come and gone with no notice, and no celebration.  But late is better than never, at least it is in my book, and I look back on my previous posts with satisfaction.  No, I haven’t been as active as I had originally planned, but it’s been a busy year, and truthfully, I’ve been blank for ideas for awhile.  I originally wanted to be able to share things that were on my heart and share them with no hesitation.  What this little blog seems to have done is become a defacto cooking/food blog.  Which is totally okay.  Food is definitely part of who I am, and I’m proud to share family recipes that I want to see live far beyond me, and other gems that I have found in the process of learning more about being healthier and eating better.

This next year I hope will see more reflections from my life, my walk with my Savior, and maybe even some stories about my “children;” a sixteen year old Ragdoll cat named Sassy and an eleven year old tabby named Pixel.  I usually leave their stories to my other blog, but they are sometimes my biggest inspiration, and they certainly have my heart.  I’ll be introducing them over the course of the coming year, sharing my favorite stories and pictures.

And finally, for my readers, I send a heartfelt and genuine “thank you” for following and reading, even if I don’t keep this as interesting as I’d like.  I surely appreciate your visits and feedback.  Here’s to a wonderful, purposeful 2016!

Wait, What Month Is It Again?

I was out with my mom yesterday for a doctor appointment and lunch. Here in Florida, sometimes it’s difficult to tell by weather exactly what season we are in, but by the decorations in and around town one could easily surmise that it’s December. Oh, it’s not, you say?  Let me provide evidence to the contrary.

The local Cracker Barrel is stuffed to the rafters with all kinds of Christmas paraphernalia: Christmas trees, decorations, tchotchkes and oversized candy bars (how exactly those say Christmas is beyond me, but I digress.) Our local Walmart has been stuck in December since well before Labor Day, the first signs of the impending holidays strewn about the store and throughout the garden center. Best Buy already has festive decor swirling overhead and on aisle end caps, the shelves cluttered with purchasable gift cards.

What is the big need for retailers to hurry the seasons along, one after the other as if they are on a calendar conveyor belt?  I’m lying to myself if I don’t admit that I’m tired of Christmas festivities by the time the day actually arrives because I’ve had it ram-rodded down my proverbial throat since August. During the last throes of Summer when most people are still buying sunblock and pool lounges, the very last thing I want to see is Santa dancing and singing his “Ho ho ho.”

One store that I know of, Nordstrom, does not fall into lockstep with the holiday retail tradition of decorating too early. They advertise that their Christmas decorations will be reserved for when Thanksgiving is done. And, in keeping with family tradition, they are closed for the entirety of Thanksgiving day, opening early for “Black Friday,” and decked out in their holiday finery.  Finally, somebody who remembers what the upcoming holiday season is truly about: spending time with family and loved ones.

I understand that the Christmas holiday season is the biggest sale season for retailers, but it would be so very nice to not be assaulted by December so early in the year. So I declare, in the midst of record high temperatures (high 80s,) that it is actually November despite what the signs and temperatures of the season tell me.

Operation: Earth Box

My hubby and I live quietly in a two bedroom, upstairs apartment with our two cats, Sassy and Pixel.  It wasn’t necessarily my dwelling of choice, but one of needing to be close to my aging mother, so we settled here.  The apartment is cozy, has just about everything we need and is close to shopping, a hospital, banks and white sandy beaches. A few years ago, before the housing market exploded down here in Florida, we actually did make an offer on a pretty little house sold by the original owner, an unusual find here where there is more turnovers than you’ll find in a bakery.  Unfortunately, the seller had a cash offer and we were priced out of the market within four months.  So, here we are.

One thing I truly miss about not having my own home is having some room to plant things.  Back in Connecticut where I grew up, my Dad always had a few garden plots around our substantial back yard.  The yard was odd in that it was in two levels, the closest to the house was the lower level where Mom had a clothesline and Dad had the small garden plot.  He planted tomatoes and eggplant in alternating years in that spot.  On the upper “level” where a 15 foot pool once stood, green bell peppers, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini and whatever Dad felt like experimenting with grew in each quadrant, with the bean plants around the circumference of the pool.  The other garden plot directly up the steps and to the right, held whichever wasn’t growing in the lower plot, either tomatoes or eggplant.  My dad was known in the neighborhood as “Farmer John” and he took great pride in all his bounty, but especially the tomatoes.  He’d only share those with people who were close to the family.

When Mom and Dad relocated to Florida in the 90s and chose not to purchase a home, Dad lost his opportunity to garden like he once did in the “glory days.”  Sure, they tried to grow tomatoes in containers on the porch, but they never thrived in the harsh Florida summer heat like they did back home.  And so, this family tradition had been all but obliterated… until EarthBox moved into town.  I had already married and moved away when Mom and Dad discovered this little gardening treasure in a box, but I truly believe he was in a state of bliss when he realized he had a decent chance of growing some tomatoes.  For the first few times, Mom carted the box around back and forth to the EarthBox store to have it pre-planted for her, then Dad would tend it.  Unfortunately, the rats and mice that live around the retention pond had quite a tasty snack during those years, and they never saw a yield.  Ultimately, the EarthBox had fallen unattended after the death of my Dad in 2007, and grew the most beautiful weeds you’d ever seen.

In many ways, I’m truly my father’s daughter.  I have his love for Italian food, his temper, and his passion for gardening.  So it should come as no surprise that I have been passed the EarthBox “baton” so to speak.  Last week I dumped the contents, mostly weeds and two spent pineapple plants (those things bite, by the way!  Ouch!) and scrubbed all the parts and left them to dry.  Tonight I brought it home where it now sits, empty and waiting for another attempt at container gardening.  My EarthBox planting will be organic bush beans, aka green or string beans.  I wanted to start out with something that I know will grow easily and produce a good harvest the first time out, mostly because I need some confidence after so many failures in this box.  After the beans plants are done producing, I will attempt some of Dad’s favorites, eggplants.

Though I haven’t purchased the soil and fertilizers yet, I do have the seeds ready and raring to go.  Although the EarthBox store is still in town, I’m not planning on using their services this time around.  For now, I want to try things the “Wendy Way,” which may or may not be the best way but since this is my experiment, I’ll give my ideas a shot first.  I’ll be starting from seeds instead of seedlings, and I know that green beans grow exceptionally well from numerous grade school growing experiments.  From time to time, I’ll update and show pictures of how my little garden is fairing.  So with spring approaching most of the country, let me know how your garden grows this season.  What’s your favorite plant?  The most bountiful harvest?  Do you can or preserve the fruits of your labor?  I’m looking forward to the eggplants later on this summer and into the fall, and I have an excellent post coming in those days on one of my favorite things in the world.

Happy gardening, and happy Spring!

My "vintage" EarthBox, with Pixel ensuring everything is up to par.  What a good inspector!

My “vintage” EarthBox, with Pixel ensuring everything is up to par. What a good inspector!