An Unspoiled Autumnal Walk

This past Friday I got in the car and drove to an opening in the woods just down the road from our house.  Although the spot was less than a quarter mile away, and any other person would have walked, I drove in an effort to reserve as much energy as possible so I could do a bit of exploring.  With my trusty cane in my right hand and my camera around my neck, I entered the forest along a well-maintained track.  I’d never been to this area before, though I had been planning to check it out since noticing it after we moved earlier this year.  The first half of the pictures below are some of the things I discovered.  I wish I could share the smell and sound of the leaves crunching beneath my feet; the birds calling and flying in the canopy above; the babbling of the small, mossy spring where dragonflies were sunning themselves; and the joyful feeling that I had stepped out of the real world and into a children’s fantasy book.

These wild turkeys were sunning themselves inside a cleared and fenced off, old, private, family cemetery.
I like to stroll through old cemeteries and imagine what kind of lives the inhabitants had.  They lived through the Civil War era and were loved and missed by someone.
I found this old plow laying in another clearing in the middle of the woods.  I wonder if it belonged to someone in the cemetery.
Though water from the mouth of the spring was definitely bubbling up from the rocks, it clearly wasn’t in any hurry to go anywhere.
I was lucky my shoe was the only thing that got wet.  Wobbly, unbalanced, cane-carrying walkers should not try to walk from rock to rock in order to discover the source of a spring!
Once out of the woods and heading back to the car parked along the road, I noticed this and the following lovelies basking and enjoying the last remaining fruits of the summer.
It was such a beautiful day that I drove to the river and walked on the bridge for a few minutes.
The only cloud in the sky reminded me of a leaping frog.
These guys allowed me to take not only their photo but also snaps of the drone they were figuring out. They were flying that thing absolutely everywhere!
I love the color of these berries. Honeysuckle berries, I think…?
A little family of turtles warming themselves.
Leaf detritus on the bridge.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy the changing seasons wherever you call home.

God be with you! ❤️, Amy

Happy Fall!

Welcome to another photo collection of life in the Ozarks! 

Titmouse
This blue-tailed skink was FAST!
Autumn has come to our river birches.
Beautiful yellow mum.
Bringing the season to the front porch.
Cooler weather means it’s time for soup 😋.
My mid-afternoon snack as I enjoy the leaves falling all around.
The last Pineapple Whip of the year 😢.
I made these little pajama bags last month 😹.
It took two weeks to finish because my MS wasn’t very cooperative, but I finally finished my new robe yesterday 😻!
I guess Laudy approves.
A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading Andrew Carroll’s My Fellow Soldiers about General John Pershing and his leadership/relationship with the American troops during World War I. Unlike most of my generation, my grandfather was a soldier in WWI (he and my grandmother didn’t have my dad until late in life). Grandpa Frank fought on the front lines with a Browning Automatic Rifle during the six-and-a-half week, bloody Meuse-Argonne in the last major battle of the war. My Dad has a lot of his memorabilia including this photo showing him missing a button on his woolen uniform coat.
Grandpa Frank shown among his fellow soldiers of the 89th Division, 354th Infantry, Company I.
Ready for Mess somewhere in France.
Grandpa sailed on this requisitioned passenger ship to France in April of 1917.
Grandpa’s pocket watch survived, just like he did.
I don’t know what he used this little box for, but it looks like it was well loved.
Y.M.C.A. receipts after he got home.

No post is complete without my two favorite cats!

Laudy, our blue crx girl.
Pip, our chocolate crx boy.

Autumnal blessings to you! ❤️ Amy

Topping Up Your Faith

A well stocked pantry is essential for spontaneous bakers such as myself.  Not only is it important to have the essentials on hand, like flour and butter, but also an ecclectic array of the odd and unusual, such as saffron and vanilla beans.  It takes time to grow your stock necessary to whip up something special at a moment’s notice without having to make a grocery run.  You also have to learn to keep an ongoing mental list of how much you have on hand of each ingredient.   There is nothing more annoying than having to go to the store in the middle of a recipe because you don’t have enough of something to finish the job. Keeping your pantry topped up is important.  

Much like baking, faith needs a deep repository of ingredients that are grown over time in order to create a feast that will supply daily Bread, even during times of famine.  Basic faith, all that is needed to initially become a follower of Christ, is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that by His death, burial, and resurrection He has overcome sin and death and has given us eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Scripture was written by about 40 different men, as the Holy Spirit prompted them (2 Timothy 3:16), over 1,500 years and is a wellspring of history, personal experience, wisdom, prophecy, fulfillment of prophecy, law, gospel, poetry, and letters giving first-hand accounts by eyewitnesses who had dealings with our eternal God across time.  All of these were written for our learning (Romans 15:4) and can be mined to give us everything we need in order to grow our faith through hope, truth, love, peace, joy, patience, endurance, faithfulness, forgiveness, mercy, grace, obedience, submission, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, understanding, wisdom… and so much more! 

The growth of faith is directly related to how much time, effort, thought, and personal devotion we put into topping it up.  Recognizing and experiencing God in one’s personal life with the aide of the Holy Spirit, when combined with listening to Him as you study scripture and talking to Him through prayer, combine to help us live our best and fullest life in Christ.  It is this fullness of faith, one that is constantly being filled and topped up, that shifts our viewpoint from life here below to that of the promises given about life above.

As we see every day on the news, bad things happen in the world. If you have lived very long at all, you know that unsolicited bad things will happen in the lives of the ones we love and even to ourselves.  Christians are not immune from failure, brokenness, loneliness, sorrow, or hardship of all kinds.  Accidents, illnesses, viruses, diseases, and death will touch and eventually take us all. 

BUT instead of despair and hopelessness when these things happen, we Christians can reach into our diligently topped up storehouse of faith and praise God through the storm instead of blaming Him.  We find ourselves resting in His ever present, faithful hands and feel a deep assurance that He has lovingly pressed us against His heart to keep us safe.  Not necessarily that He has removed the travails that happen to us in the flesh, though He certainly can do so if it is within His will! But, no, I mean the safety of our faith.  The promise of His love and His sovereignty alive and over our lives no matter what situation or diagnosis or trouble we find ourselves in. This kind of faith is possible because Jesus Christ has overcome sin and death by His resurrection and is the source of eternal life for all who call upon His name. He has overcome everything in this world and, as a result, there is now nothing that can harm those who believe in Him – not even death!

Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 8:34-39, “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”.

To me, the promise that nothing can separate me from the love of God through Christ Jesus my Lord tops me up to overflowing! If you are already a Christian, don’t forget to keep topping up your faith each and every day through scripture and prayer. If you are not a Christian, but you want to know more about how to become one so you too can be filled to the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 3:19), then send me a message and I would count it a privilege to share the Gospel with you!

To the praise of His glory! ❤️Amy

Animal House

We did a few days of dog sitting for family over Labor Day weekend. I discovered I like dogs better than I thought I did but, WOW, they are a lot more work than cats.

“What are we going to do now? Huh? Huh? Huh?”

This little beauty had a ton of energy and needed to go on walks as well as run around the backyard.  I dug deep to find the energy to walk her around the neighborhood a couple times per day for three days in a row.  I can see why people with MS might want a dog. Their basic needs trump even the emptiest of MS energy tanks because when they gotta go they gotta go 😁.

She’s a runner!
Those floppy ears 😂.
This is more my speed.

Hubby loves dogs and they always seem to gravitate to him. It’s a good thing we kept poochie over a weekend and we could tag team watching her since we had to keep her on a leash when not in her crate. We wanted the cats to still feel like it was their home and they were safe from well-intentioned but unwelcome bouncy-flouncy invitations to “play” chase.

Just a little excited to see hubby ❤️.
“Hey, look! Did you see who’s here?!”
Touching base with me between runs.
Watching the birds from my lap.
The first interspecies meeting.
They both used their best manners and no one was traumatized.

After the doggy went home, it took a few days of solid rest to recover. I didn’t do much of anything but enjoy these beautiful, freshly fallen leaves from our River Birches.

Autumn is coming 🍂

As I mentioned in my last blog, I had my third Ocrevus infusion in late August. I self-isolated at home for a couple of weeks both before and after the treatment for a bit of extra assurance that I didn’t get sick. I’m pretty used to staying home a lot but I am certainly glad that is over. During my confinement I practiced various lessons from Dorling Kindersley’s Digital Photography Complete Course: Learn Everything You Need to Know in 20 Weeks. Naturally, I used my two favorite muses 🐈🐈. The photos below were taken as I practiced shooting from various angles.

Laudy
Pip

The big, orange bouncing ball that is MS has been all over the place: up, down, out of bounds, in play, and even deflated. Some days I’ve been able to enjoy a walk, sewing projects, baking, and even a little gardening. Other days I’ve barely been able to step out of bed, take a shower, feed myself, or muster the energy to sit in a chair. It is so bizarre, I can’t describe it. It feels like I am disconnected from myself and am living someone else’s life because it doesn’t feel like me.

I treasure the good days or hours of the day, and sometimes just the minutes of the day, when I am motoring along and feel like I have sovereignty over my body to do the things I want to do. I know God has given me every blessing in Christ so that whether it is a good MS day or not, I can give thanks to Him and live a contented life.

To the praise of His glory!
❤️Amy

August Is About to Adios

August has provided us several opportunities to enjoy time outdoors, as the pictures below document.  We had a few unseasonably cool days for this time of year that allowed me to get out of the house and explore a few outdoor spaces close to our house.  I ramped up my own self-isolation the past couple of weeks in anticipation of my next Ocrevus infusion.  Matter of fact, I am writing this in the hospital while the O-juice goes in.  The drug was supposed to start dripping at 8:00 but it got held up in the pharmacy until a little after 11:00 😖.  It takes about five hours to infuse then I have to wait an hour before I can leave, so it’s going to be a long day.  Even so, I’m thankful to be getting it at all since so many others with MS don’t have any options this late in the game (#30yearsofMS).

Hubby had a couple of weeks off between semesters so he tackled restoring the fence around our backyard.  The days he worked on it were boiling!

In no particular order, Pip and Laudy have become my favorite muses.  I am still enjoying my new hobby.
This bee probably thinks the center of the daisy is as big as the moon.
I think this is a strawberry clearwing.  I found all the following insects around the lake park in our neighborhood.
I can’t believe how good the pictures turn out in sports mode, very clear images in motion.
Buckeye butterflies are plentiful around the water and are a personal favorite.
Swallowtail
I especially loved finding these amberwings ❤️.
Jimmeny Cricket!
Ugh, I stepped off the path to get a good shot of a flower and ended up being covered in these little burrs 😖.  It took 30 minutes to pick them all out of my hair and off my clothes.  How they got in my hair I have no idea!

The road back home from the river. 

I have had a lot of things floating around in my mind to write about, but I haven’t decided if I want to share them or not.  Writing is very pleasurable and cathartic for me and I want to guard it so it remains that way.

May God be with you. ❤️, Amy

Seven Current Things God is Greater Than

God is greater than all things.  But, since the number seven indicates completeness and perfection within the Bible, I chose it to represent current issues we can pray about with confidence that He is in control.

Dear Heavenly Father, with humbled hearts we pray You will fill us with joy and peace as we remember You are the great I AM.  You are in control of all things and are greater than…

…the Corona Virus with all it’s ensuing  unemployment, bankruptcy, evictions and foreclosures, businesses failing, schools resuming, and our anxiety for both the physical and mental health of ourselves and loved ones.  You are even greater than death by Christ’s victory over the grave!

Father, please help us remember you are greater than Nations and Politics, especially amidst the barrage of divisive and aggressive rhetoric, fear mongering, looming elections, and potential civic fallout. 

Lord our God, we may rest assured that You are greater than the Media that constantly fills our ears. You are greater than bias and intolerance on all sides, as well as our well-intentioned friends who’s social media posts break our hearts with aggressive, divisive, or judgmental words.

Holy One, we need Your presence to comfort and restore our weary minds with the knowledge that You have always been and will always be mightier than the Social Issues that have surrounded Your children through the ages.  You are greater than the current cancel culture, ANTIFA, riots, lootings, hate and intolerance, racism, and movements that plan destructive uprisings of any kind.      

Loving, compassionate Father, please restore us from the fatigue of living in a different and difficult new reality that seems to have no end in sight. You are greater than the Weariness of the past several months.

All-knowing Lord, we pray You will reassure our hearts that You are greater than all the Unknowns that surround our lives. We rejoice in knowing You will never leave us or forsake us through the trials, sorrows, or temptations of our journey here below.

And lastly, Almighty God, help us to remember You are greater than all our Fears. When we trust You hold us in Your mighty hands, fear dies and You are glorified.

Thank You, God our Father, for loving us with Your perfect love and for caring about each and every one of us. We ask and pray this prayer through Christ, our Savior’s name. Amen.

Nature Nurturing

We’ve seen the perfect blend of summery sun and rain here in Southwest Missouri this past week.  We’re usually roasting in nearly 100*F/38*C by this time in August, but we’ve had gorgeous 77-80*F/21-27*C days.   Thanks to the recent weather, nature is lush and bursting with color all over the place around us!  The forecast says it will only last another day or two, but it has been a delicious treat while it lasts and a balm for these many months during Covid-19.

A large forested area lies both north and south of our neighborhood with a good sized river about a mile down the road. It has both a well-maintained river access spot and, a little further down the road, an old, reallocated bridge that serves as the entrance for a greenways trail that winds through and circles our city. Additionally, our neighborhood has a little landscaped lake with a walking path, bridge, water feature, bird houses, and a bench along the shore. On Wednesday of this last week MS kindly lent me a decent enough day that I drove to the river in the morning and spent some time soaking in the views from the bridge at the trail’s head. After lunch, I headed off for a lovely, cane-assisted stroll around the lake.  There were butterflies everywhere in both places! They somehow managed to lift my spirits on their tiny little wings and carry them about as they soared around and flitted and fluttered here and there. Similarly, as I rested a couple of times on my way around the lake in the afternoon, I found myself smiling as I tried to follow the dizzying courses of dozens of dragonflies going nowhere and everywhere at once. What funny little creatures! Oh, and don’t worry, there are plenty of bird and cat photos below too😻!

This past Friday was an exciting day when…my new camera arrived!!! As you peruse the photos below, see if you can guess which ones I took with my point-and-shoot and which ones were with my new DSLR. The new camera inspired me to branch out and find a new photo editing app to play around with. It’s pretty safe to say I have a lot to learn. As an example, I hadn’t been messing around with the camera for more than five minutes before I realized I needed to invest in a more versatile lens. Some lessons are pricey 😉! No worries though, I am having fun and can’t wait to learn and grow my skills (and lens collection!). It was time for the upgrade because I needed another sit-down hobby to add to my arsenal of things to do when the MS monster has me lashed to the couch. 

Speaking of MS, my next Ocrevus infusion is at the end of this month. Let’s see, this will be my second full dose which means I’ve been on it for 18 months. For the first time since starting it I think I’m experiencing the “crap gap” I’ve heard other MSers describe just before their next dose. My already ridiculous fatigue intermixed with poor balance, endurance, gait, bladder issues, clumsiness, sluggish word finding, and occasional cog-fog have all ratcheted up to the next level over the last few days. I hope topping the tank with more O-juice knocks my symptoms back down to the previous notch.

Part I: Riparian and Lakeside Entertainment

I’m guessing it’s a northern crescent.
Common buckeye
Fiery skipper butterfly
Northern pearly-eyes
Brown-eyed Susans
Dewberries??
Blue dasher
House Finch before the rain.
House finch during the rain.
House finch after the rain.
Mourning Dove trying to stay dry.
Same dove after the rain.
Female house finch with Niger all over her beak; steady rain.
I NEVER pass up the opportunity to snap pics of this skittish Red-bellied woodpecker. BONUS: Carolina chickadee 🙂
“Who said that?”
Suet on the tip of this chickadee’s beak.
Our resident nuthatch. This little thing fascinates me.
Carolina wren and female finch
My Laudy girl 😻
My Pipper boy 😻
He is Bee-A-U-tee-ful!
Her eyes! Her little whiskers!! Her white undercarriage (as hubby likes to call it)!!!
Her fur feels like crushed velvet and she insists on being held nearly all the time. What’s not to love?!
Not to be outdone, Pip is our resident lap and shoulder snuggler. He has the sweetest disposition and is an absolute riot to play fetch with. He has gorgeous golden eyes and perfectly preposterous ears!!
CRX waves to make anyone jealous.
There’s a reason hubby calls Pip “a tender little guy.” He gives the best snuggles and makes me smile.

Here we are at the end of another blog. I looked back and realized I have been posting weekly lately. I didn’t mean to, or not mean to, it just happened. Will there be another blog next week? Maybe, I guess we will both have to wait and see😁. Either way, I’m glad you stopped by for a look-see. May God be with you! Amy

The Orange

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange —
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave —
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.                                    

~Wendy Cope

Oranges are my favorite food.  Orange is the color for MS Awareness.  I love poetry and Wendy Cope writes good stuff.  Titles for my blogs are always kind of hard to settle on, but this one was easy. And so, it occurred to me that it must be time for a post.

Besides, daily and ordinary things are important. Tethers feel good when life is pitching up the sea all around you. Maybe your ordinary day looks different than it did at the beginning of the year (cough – Covid), but I hope you have found some level, familiar ground upon which to walk. Everything is pretty much the same as before for me thanks to my parasitic sidekick MS. It’s been doggone hard to walk the past couple of days, so I’m especially grateful for the little things that help me get through the endless hours of sitting. 

Cue a few of the pictures I’ve taken this week.

Part I. Light

Shiney cobweb
Sunbeam, sunbeam, I want to be a sunbeam…

Part II. Birds

The backdrop of my peaceful little backyard world.
Cigar or seed??
Somehow he reminds me of a Muppet.
A chipping sparrow’s senior portrait, perhaps?
A mourning dove perfectly displaying all the glorious colors that make it a personal fav 😍. Seriously, just look at those preposterous feet!
Friends or aquaintances?
You’ll have to indulge me, I know I take a lot of pictures of finches. Their songs, friendliness, and the sheer quantity of them at our feeders delights me.
Another senior portrait pose 😉
I get so excited to see downy woodpeckers at the feeders, but I have to be quick because they don’t hang about long.
“But above all of them ranked the chickadee because of it’s indomitable spirit.” ~ Tom Brown, Jr. – The Tracker
Titmouse delicately holding a sunflower seed.
Carolina Wren (top) carefully chosing a seed…
…deciding if he has the calories for it…
…indulging himself anyway.
Red-bellied woodpeckers always seem to be smiling about some secret delight.
This lil’ nuthatch sang his heart out just for me!!

Part III. Cats

Pip (L) and Laudy (R – pronounced LAW-dee) just after I stood up from being seated between them…
… and now they pretend the other is not there. 🙈🙉🙊

Part IV. MS

Lousy, good for nothin’, traitorous legs. But, I ❤️ my yellow Crocs 🐊!
My new shirt 🙃

Part V. The Orange

I hope you have a “huge orange” kind of day. God be with you! ~Amy

A Week Interrupted

There I was having a perfectly good day last Saturday riding around with my hubby as he ran into a couple of stores for our weekly shopping, when all of a sudden I felt a familiar pain in my lower tummy.  Within just a few minutes I felt the next stage of an all too familiar urge hit and I knew before we made it home I had a UTI.

Fun Fact: One of the most common symptoms of MS is bladder control problems.  The bladder has spasms and won’t empty completely causing frequency and urgency.  Because the bladder won’t empty completely, MSers get a UTI very easily.

Anyway, my suspicion was validated at urgent care that same Saturday afternoon and I came home with the usual round of antibiotics and some Azo to ease the pain.  I typically feel better within 24 hours, but when things felt worse by Sunday evening I knew we needed to go back to see what was going on. 

A kidney infection was what was going on.  I got a different script for a stronger antibiotic for the next seven days and then a thigh-full of another one.  They warned me it would hurt as they added Lidocaine to the concoction and said it would take about 30-40 seconds to give because it was “thick”.  I made it through the shot, but then nearly passed out 🥴.  My blood pressure dropped too low very suddenly, I got all sweaty, and felt myself going.  No big deal, I recovered and they let me go within another 30 minutes.  Passing out was nothing compared to the pain throbbing through my thigh! With hubby dragging me by one arm and my cane propping me up to stay vertical with the other, I limped and whimpered my way to the car and thought, “That shot better be worth it!”

I’ve had lots of UTIs, but this was my first kidney infection; I wasn’t quite ready for how hard it kept hitting and how long it took to feel better.  By Wednesday I knew I was going to live and felt back to my normal self on Thursday.

During the time it took to recover, I didn’t do much. I filled the lethargic days by hanging out with and generally loving around on the cats, reading an Inspector Morse mystery, listening to Dickens’ Bleak House, putting some puzzles together on my favorite puzzles app, and sleeping a lot.  Finally, on Thursday and Friday, I ventured back out on the patio for short bits in the mornings and evenings – to avoid the heat, another no-no when you have MS – and even managed to muster the energy to sew a cute little tunic with an adorable cat print for myself! 

There is a river just a mile and a half down the road from our house with a lovely bridge and trail from which to admire nature.  Hubby humoured me and took me for a while around noon on Friday.  Though I can’t walk the trail anymore, we traversed the bridge and took in all the special delights that fill the senses when around running water.  Birds chirping, breezes blowing, water rippling, the faint whiff of fish in the air, the sight and smell of earth and dirt eroding, tree roots erupting on trails down to the river banks, and the beauty of wildflowers clustered along the banks and in the undergrowth, or definitely blooming in solitary confidence and glory. 

It feels so good to feel better!  It was a good reminder to appreciate my general health, despite the MS.  I’d take a lot of crummy MS days over going through that again any time soon.  I hope you enjoy the pictures below and are able to get a sense of their feel and place for the ones not captioned.

A tired Laudy.
Waiting to be scratched…
… the progression of the scratch..
…finally leading to sleep in various positions.
Our handsome, big, chocolate Rex 😻😍❤️!
Those eyes!
Pip noticed this goldfinch at the window one morning. I snapped a quick pic with my phone.
Snickerdoodles 😋
Hubby got new tires, always an exciting day 🚴‍♂️.
It goes this way ➡️
I gave homemade tortillas a go…👍😋.
I took this a couple of weeks ago. What a beautiful universe God has made!

I hope you have a wonderful week ahead. God be with you! ❤️