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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wonderful news!

Dentist today and two screws were loose on my lower implants. The implants themselves are fine. New lease on life here! So I immediately abandoned my soft diet after the dentist tightened the screws. I figure it's healthy to eat crunchy foods. Like muscles, if you don't use them you lose them. But I am going to exercise good sense too. No more abuse. Don't know why they got loose. In the last 25 years I had a screw come loose on my upper implants but don't remember the details anymore. The dentist said that's just sometimes the nature of screws.

He really tightened them tight. I thought for sure he'd twist the implants right out of my jaw. So glad that's over!

Working on my plant guide still..... and for months to come. Dr Powell looked at the Winterfat specimen my sister took him today and declared it's Texas Shrub (Iresine leptoclada), not winterfat. (See Dec. 4th post for photos.) Quite a surprise!

Coming back from Odessa today I noticed the landscape in the oil fields was dotted with blazing flares of natural gas. Such a waste of the earth's resources, not to mention it just adds toxins to the air. I hate to see that. Hugh says it's cheaper for them to pay the fines for burning it than to ship it to market. Never mind the environment. Here's a photo I snapped with my phone as we were whizzing by.

When I got my Rio Grande Electric Co-op 2019 calendar I saw a photo of an awesome ruin I had never seen before. I thought I had seen every interesting structure in the Big Bend. So I contacted the co-op and they directed me to this website -- 

Seems it was built as a movie set for "Dead Man's Walk" and has had various videos shot there since then. It's on a private ranch whose owner is a millionaire, probably billionaire. If he doesn't want to share it with the public, I wish he'd at least maintain it.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Checking on CMO

I couldn't resist heading south this morning to see how CMO looks after the rain two days ago. It was wet, warm, and lots blooming. Got stuck in the parking area. I thought it would have dried out more after two days. Here's where I drove on it with no gravel today.

And below is where I drove on it where there was gravel today. The above area is actually higher than the area on the photo below. What a nightmare it will be in rainy season next summer if I don't get gravel on it. But I will, not to worry. Didn't expect over an inch of rain in December. Caught me off guard. Gonna try harder to get my son there with his tractor. If that fails, then I'll hire somebody to haul it in a wheelbarrow. And in fairness, that muddy area had been low, therefore it has more fill dirt in it than the area below where we didn't put fill dirt.

Saw this accipiter hanging out at the oasis. I think it's a Cooper's Hawk, but not positive.

Feeling puny today. Couldn't do work and didn't need to water so just came back to town.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rain and radon

I had to be stuck in town today when the oasis got over an inch of rain. But it was an all-day soaking rain so I know there was no runoff. It would have been fun to watch rain run off the new tank roof though, and see how well the parking area drainage engineering works. I'll be able to tell the latter when I do get down there. If not tomorrow, then the next day. Wish I has scattered some flower seeds around the tank. Flowers are going to be awesome in the spring.

I heard on the radio today that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths in our country and radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths. I've always been somewhat concerned about radon since my earth-sheltered house is built into a rhyolite mountain that has decaying uranium underground. So I decided to do a little research.

What really got me when I delved into the subject was this statement. "About 10% of radon-related cancer deaths involve people who don't smoke!" So 90% of radon-related cancer deaths involve people who do smoke? Nowhere can I discover how they determine that the smoking didn't cause the death. 

To clarify, about 154,000 Americans will die of lung cancer in 2018. The EPA claims that about 21,000 people a year die of radon-related lung cancer, and about 2,900 of those radon-related cases are of people who never smoked.  So at most, less than 3,000 people per year who die of lung cancer never smoked. What about all the other risk factors such as family history of lung cancer, asbestos, work related carcinogens, pollution, etc.? Surely, many of those 3,000 deaths a year were related to those causes. How can they blame them all on radon?

The American Lung Association estimates that 90% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to current smokers. Ten percent to radon (per the EPA). That's 15,400 people versus the 21,000 the EPA claims. But that's a minor discrepancy. We can let that slide.

The CDC says over 7,000 deaths to lung cancer each year are caused by second-hand smoke. And somewhere I read that about 60-65% of new lung cancer diagnoses are to people that have never smoked or are former smokers who quit a long time ago. What the heck? You can obviously see, without me boring and confusing your further, that, like everything else health and medical related, it's all a bunch of gobblety-gook! Every different organization has its own statistics.

I've never heard of anyone in the Big Bend dying of radon-related lung cancer, but radon detectors are cheap so just to satisfy my curiosity I'm going to get one.

UPDATE: I wrote the above blog late last night, at a time I usually find something to worry about to keep me from sleeping. Today I got an email from a dear friend who set me straight and told me to find some other carcinogen to worry about. He also said, 

" I spent 15 years of my life exploring for uranium. During that time I was exposed to radon gas, many times, more than you have been or ever will be exposed to, around uranium mines, uranium-rich outcrops, mine waste piles and granite rocks that have a very low amount of decaying uranium – I do not worry about dying of lung cancer. None of my fellow uranium hunters have died of radon exposed gas and we are all getting old."

So I'm not going to bother to buy a detector.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Dental disaster!

I knew I was abusing my body and probably too hard on my implants. They're not like natural teeth, but I treated them as if they were. So now my lower implants, that I endured so much pain and expense to get, are loose. They won't tighten themselves, and left loose it's a matter of time before they get infected. One was infected the other day. In desperation I put antibiotic ointment on it. I know you're not supposed to put that stuff inside your mouth, but I'm not sure why. It helped the infection but not a sustainable solution. Infected implants can lead to sepsis and death.

I have a dentist appointment in Odessa for Tuesday. I'm really bummed out about all the pain and expense that awaits me. And strong possibility that I'll end up with dentures. Lower dentures are miserable. A person can't stay very active and healthy on a diet of soft food in my opinion. I love hard crunchy stuff, like salads, nuts, popcorn, apples and such. So I have no choice but to try to go through the whole painful six month process again, if that's even an option.

The other day a friend put out some bread for the doves. Either the doves weren't hungry or didn't recognize the bread as food.

So far none of the Tree Tobacco seedlings I potted have wilted so I think they're going to make it. We're sure to get rain in a few days. That will be nice. The yuccas are blooming. I just have to stay strong and not let this dental stuff get me down. I've been through it so often before. Just had hoped all that was behind me. In order to get my upper implants they had to do bone grafts. That was over 30 years ago. I was able to take things like that more in stride in those days. Just took one day at a time. Hard for me to have that mindset these days. I'll try. Other than that, I'm doing quite well for my age.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Another perfect day!

It's hard to rest when the weather is so lovely. After overdoing yesterday, and having a bad night because of it, I decided to just put up the roof extension today. The gravel can wait. It wasn't a particularly difficult job, but work, nonetheless. Where the bench shadow is in this first photo is where the bench had previously been sitting. Because the sun is so low this time of year the bench isn't shaded, but it will be in the spring.

Hard to tell but the roof and extension are flat. The mountain in the
background and weather-shaded canopy in front make it confusing.
Here's a look at that cluster of Winterfat. Quite the novelty, and not documented for Brewster County before. My sister will take a specimen to Dr. Powell, but it's likely Krascheninnkovia lanata.

Very few butterflies around. Here's a female Elada Checkerspot. CMO had a lot of them this summer and fall.

Back to Alpine to try to recover. If I stayed at the oasis I wouldn't rest. Good chance of rain Friday.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Work on the viewing blind

Prickly Pears is, without a doubt, the plant I hate most at the oasis. I came down today determined to expand the blind a couple of feet so it isn't so crowded when groups visit. In the way was a large Prickly Pear. (I've learned the hard way not to come into contact with it even with leather gloves on.)

Prickly Pear center left
First I had to cut out a section of fence, leftover from the days when that was a vegetable garden. Also had to forge a path to the Prickly Pear.

Then I spent the rest of the day chopping it up, almost pad by pad, and putting it into the wheelbarrow and hauling it off. 

Didn't get too many stickers in me. Lost track of how many loads, but it was 4 or 5. The next photo is how I left it late this afternoon. Previously the two black benches were inside the curb, like the white one is. A couple of feet really makes a big difference.

Tomorrow I plan to haul gravel from the arroyo to spread under the benches in order to make them taller. After I survive that, I hope to bolt extensions onto the roof's 2x4s. The final task will be putting metal roofing on top of the extensions.

I know I'm pushing my body too hard, but I think once I get this done I can take it easy for quite a while. It's painful for me to eat. I hope I don't lose my implants. I fear they're paying the price for the abuse I do to my body. I hate having to slow down.

I think I have a new plant species for the oasis. Winterfat (Krascheninnkovia lanata).

Very exciting! Dr. Powell has it in his new plant book but doesn't list it for Brewster County.