Too Hot To Bother and MS Update

As you can see, my life has revolved mostly around our cats Laudy and Pip. That’s as it should be for a crazy cat lady. I did squeeze in making some delicious English muffins; they didn’t last long. They were especially good with some Tiptree Raspberry Jam made in England πŸ˜‹.

Southwest Missouri has been in the grips of a severe drought this summer made worse by excessive heat over 100Β°F these last couple of weeks. As a result, I’ve not been out of the house much because MS and heat don’t mix well. Summer has traded her usually lush green frock for a drab yellowish-brown garb that isn’t nearly as attractive. We may get some rain later this week, it’s gotta come sometime!

The MS Update Part: You may remember that a few years ago I started taking a drug for my MS named Ocrevus. It was an IV infusion given every six months and I was able to get the last couple of doses at home through home infusion nursing. Well, after a lot of prayer and discussion with my neurologist, I have decided to stop taking the drug. This will be the first time in 26 years that I will not be on a disease modifying therapy. My disease has continued to progress, in the normal course of things, to a place where there are no current drugs to treat it. I’ve known I’ve had Secondary Progressive MS for the last few years but opted to treat it with the drugs available for Relapsing Remitting MS because nothing else was available. Ocrevus has some significant side effects when used long-term and I’ve reached the point where the risks outweigh the benefits. Not everyone with MS may agree with my decision but, for better or for worse, no one else has to live with the results but me. As always with MS, no two people have the same disease progression or outcomes. Though I appreciate the concern and good will of others, please don’t send me articles and cures to try. I am probably already aware of whatever you’ve found on the internet or what your aunt’s cousin’s friend’s dad tried and how it “cured” him. I chose to educate myself about MS as soon as I was diagnosed and have stayed on top of research as well as drugs, diets, and homeopathic interventions ever since.

I am quite at peace with my decision, I’ve known this was coming for a long time. I’ve had 32 years to get used to my MS, we’ve sort of grown up together and understand each other πŸ˜‰. As always, I appreciate your prayers. Considering how long I’ve had MS I know I am doing very well related to many others. I can still walk some for short periods of time and I can independently take care of most of my daily living needs. My wonderful hubby is my right hand and I know God gave me a tremendous gift when He gave Todd to me. My sister and Dad are always ready to help at the drop of a hat and my Mom-in-law is only a phone call away and has come to the rescue on more than one occasion. I also have a loving and supportive church family, as well as good friends who care and always offer to help me whenever needed.

Thanks for coming by to catch up today, I know it’s been a while since I last wrote. When things cool off a bit I’ll probably be more likely to post more often. May God be with you! ❀️, Amy

Happy Spring, Ya’ll!

It’s here! Sure signs of Spring are breaking out all over the Ozarks.

Red-winged Blackbirds all in a row by our neighborhood lake.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazedβ€”and gazedβ€”but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

– William Wordsworth
Ornamental pear tree, I think.
The first bee I’ve seen this year.
Just look at that face covered in pollen 🐝.
Stork’s bill, or at least that’s what Google came up with.
I love to see what grows around the lake.
That little dot of magenta made me so happy!
Though it took all of last week, I managed to finish a dress by doing a little each day. It has become a habit for Pip to climb into his little pouch and take a snooze when I’m at my machine. I’m not sure which slows me down more, MS or Pip πŸ˜‰.

I hope you have a wonderful week and take the time to look at the world around you.

God be with you! ❀️, Amy

Cozy Days

Hello again, Friend. Below you will find some random pictures of things I’ve been doing to fill my winter days.

I really enjoy following several YouTube vloggers in the sewing world and wondered how hard it would be to take pictures of each step of garment construction like they do. I gave it a go and learned they have a lot more patience than me! Most of the pictures I took are in my camera’s trash and there they will stay. I’m sharing a few just to make myself feel like I didn’t waste all the effort it took to complete the experiment.

My notions and the PDF pattern.
The tail end of cutting it out.
I had enough fabric to make two tunics. I found the jersey knit on Etsy and loved the prints together.
Sewing the pocket on.
Finishing the hem.
It was my first time sewing a cowl neck.
The little pocket in the contrasting fabric turned out so cute πŸ₯°.
I’ve learned to keep a stash of bandaids by my machine πŸ™„. Blood, sweat, and tears πŸ˜‰!

My favorite Laudy pics of the past few weeks…

We had some really beautiful warmish days since my last post so, of course, I sat out in the backyard and watched the birds.

House finch pair with a goldfinch looking on.
Carolina chickadee
Downy woodpecker
πŸ’›

But, my favorite winter activity? Snuggling with Hubby!

Lord willing, I’ll write again soon. God be with you! ❀️, Amy

Feathers, Flurries, Felines, and MS

Hello again, it’s been a while. I’ve been remiss in writing, distracted by other things in life. Well, actually, just one thing (drumroll)…my MS. Shocker, I know. The last couple of weeks have been simply outrageous. I’ll spare you the details, but I have IV steroids coming my way to try and get things under some sort of control. Yesterday, the day the home infusion nurse (yes, Bill πŸ˜€) was ready to come to the house and hook me up, winter storm Landon arrived covering the roads with ice. Today, Landon dumped 7 inches of snow before going on his merry way. Bill texted to say he will come over this weekend to get me going once the roads become traversable.

The snow has been beautiful to watch as it swirls and blows in frigid gusts. We’ve had 30+ birds at a time come to the feeders these past couple of days for an easy meal during the storm.

There’s a dark-eyed junco somewhere there in our lilac tree.
Bluejay
Cardinal, male
Cardinal, female
Buff tan dark-eyed junco
Slate-tan dark-eyed junco

As ever, the cats are keeping me company.

Gratefully, neither they nor my sweet Hubby see someone with MS when they look my way, they just see me – full stop. I feel so loved, and I know it doesn’t get any better than that.

God be with you. ❀️, Amy

A Week In My Life

Pip is my little sewing helper. He had been walking in, through, up, down, over, and around for quite a while before finally sitting front and center. When you need attention, you need attention 😺.
So…I finally gave up, went and got a robe, and tucked him in. He settled right down, purred like a freight train, and stayed until I finished up.
Laudy knows how to get her snuggle time too 😻. This was first thing in the morning one day…
… and this was last Saturday. My shirt says, On Caturdays We Wear Cat Shirts.
I had my Ocrevus infusion on the first of this month, which I think I mentioned in my last post. My nurse wanted a picture of Laudy climbing on him and checking him out. I barely got the picture in time and it doesn’t look like he was enjoying it, but I assure you he did. (I guess this isn’t really from this week.)
This swallowtail butterfly looked a little worse for wear but seemed to be thriving on our aptly named butterfly bushes.
This yellow garden spider set up shop between one of the butterfly bushes and the fence. The reinforced center zigzag is amazing!
I’ve not had a lot of birds at the feeders lately and it’s been too hot to sit outside much, but I did get a snap of this friendly chipping sparrow.
We had a single day break in the heat so I took advantage of it and did my Bible study on the patio.
Later that same morning I rode my scooter around the lake in our neighborhood.
If you squint really hard you can see the bench on the other side where I often sit to watch dragonflies buzzing around. I only took one lens with me so I wasn’t able to get a picture of a ruby throated hummingbird going from flower to flower on the bushes to the right. It was pretty cool!
Hubby took me for a drive to try and get some pictures of a field of sunflowers a few towns away. The road was a little busy and I only had a few seconds to get a shot. It didn’t really work out the way I had envisioned it in my mind because I didn’t have time to get the exposure right. That, and there was also a real chance I might fall over because I had to step across a ditch along a fence row full of weeds and, of course, my balance is wonky. When I got back in the car I had burrs stuck all over my pants.

Although the pictures were an epic fail, I enjoyed riding around with my hubby that afternoon. Oh, and about an hour after we got home both of my eyelids and the bottom of my eyes turned red and swelled up to be about 1/2 an inch thick. They stayed that way for the next 24 hours! Ragweed, was that you??

Yes, I know, I lead a very exciting life πŸ˜‰. I hope you have had a good week. See you next time! God be with you. ❀️, Amy

May Marvels

Behold, May is about to close her shades while June prepares for her debut.

Laudy
Pip
There were bees everywhere among the foxglove at the lake park this past Wednesday, a sure sign that summer is nearly here.
Bergamot are a good spot for pollen.
A field of Queen Anne’s lace
πŸ₯±, kayaking is so relaxing.
There were several dozen purple martins in the boxes at the lake. Their eyes and beaks remind me of Muppets.

A little house wren decided to make a nest in one of our birdhouses to attract a mate. This tiny fellow wrote the book on hard work and perseverance.

This sweet little catbird came and stayed for a couple of days earlier in the month, a birding first for me.
Chickadee action shot.
Common grackle
White-breasted nuthatch
Downy woodpecker
Such a tiny little tongue this female cardinal has!
I never tire of seeing cardinals, they have got to be one of the most beautiful birds in the world.
This red-bellied woodpecker got his dinner by hook or crook.

This is the tail end of the post. May God be with you! ❀️, Amy

A Hairy Situation

WARNING: The following is an extremely exaggerated, fanciful description of a much less exciting story. No one was injured in the actual exploit. Names are not used to protect the identity of those involved.

She opened the top drawer of her cabinet and paused thoughtfully. She ran her fingers over the neatly aligned collection of scissors of various sizes, thicknesses, brands, and purposes. Nothing there seemed quite right. Suddenly, I saw the flash of inspiration turn her usually dull, milky-garnet eyes into lustrous gems. She quickly closed the drawer, bent down, reached under the cabinet, and pulled out a large plastic case. I heard the release of two clasps as she opened it on the ground directly behind me. Strangely, I noticed a faint whiff of gasoline mix with the scent of hairspray, botanical shampoos, and foamy mousses.

With absolutely no warning and the simultaneous feeling of fight or flight that only true terror can create, the whine of a two-stroke, single engine weed eater filled the retail space. The din reverberated off the mirrors, tiled floor, and rows of adjustable metal chairs. A deafening “thunk-tunk, thunk-tunk, thunk-tunk” whirred into life and ramped up into a high pitched scream just over my right shoulder. It swiftly came closer until I felt the very hair on my neck begin to move. I could tell the length of trimmer string was too long and was flicking past the protective case, like the tongue of a cobra tasting the air. Instinctively, I pulled away from the droning sound and was nearly out of the chair when I heard the stylist’s voice filtering somewhere through the bedlam. “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing. I’ve done this hundreds of times and you’re going to love it!”.

Was she like a chainsaw artist and could sculpt ordinary hair into a beautiful pixie cut with this outrageously deadly tool? After all, I’d shown her a picture of what I wanted. Wasn’t that her license hanging right in front of me on the mirror saying she knew what she was doing?

It’s strange how much faith we put in a little slip of paper with an embossed seal. It gave me the courage to sit back down. As I felt the first chunk of hair whacked off, I squeezed my eyes as tightly as I could and hoped for the best. Thirty minutes passed and I was still alive when she told me she was done.

Because it was a really tired MS day and I didn’t want to be out any longer than absolutely necessary, I got a wet cut without having her blow out my hair and style it. I don’t know if she was trying to cover up the mess, but she showed the back of my hair to me through a small hand mirror. The little bit I saw looked pretty short but okay.

When I was about 10 years old I remember my Mom telling the stylist to cut my uber thick, long, blonde hair into something more manageable. Somehow the lady translated that into a female mullet. I cried uncontrollably until Mom took me back an hour later and had the stylist rid all traces of Liza Minnelli from my head. I haven’t felt like crying about my hair for 40 years. I tell that story because this is what I saw when I got a closer, fuller view in the mirror at home…

Disast-hair!!!

Obviously, I couldn’t leave it like that and I certainly wasn’t going to go back and let her take another whack at it (πŸ˜œπŸ˜‚). Though I’ve trimmed up my own hair before, this was way beyond my skills. Besides, it’s hard to see what you’re doing through misty eyes. So, I ended up going to my Hubby’s barber. Though I had to wait my turn for two hours, he was able to get me in on the same day as the disast-hair and, well, see for yourself…

Aft-hair Hubby’s barber shaped it up.

Ahh, much better! Hey, local friends, do you have any recommendations for a good stylist who can handle short hair?

Photos from the last few weeks.

Southwest Missouri got a lot of snow last week, about 5-6 inches in our backyard.
All the snow had melted by the middle of this week. These are the last few water droplets draining from our gutters. Isn’t that a pretty piece of bark? It reminds me of a tunnel.

We have had some beautiful birds at the feeders this week. These are a few of my favorites.

White-throated Sparrow
Eastern Bluebird
American Goldfinch and Eastern Bluebird
A study in balance
I read that American Goldfinches weigh about the same as five teaspoons of granulated sugar.
Female Northern Cardinal
Male Northern Cardinal
Early in the week I added this corn holder to give the squirrels their own feeding spot. They still prefer to eat under the bird feeders. πŸ™„

I had a moderate amount of energy on Monday so I decided to squander it by going to the lake near our house. (And I do mean squander. I’m still recovering πŸ˜’.) Though it was still a bit cold, the sun was shining and it felt good to sit in it by the edge of the water. The lake was still frozen over but the ducks and geese didn’t seem to care.

There’s always one who doesn’t like to get in line.
Mallard pair
Just look at that patch of purple πŸ’œ!

I’ve been practicing using portrait mode with my camera this week. It’s impossible to take a bad picture of these two beauties 😻!

Laudy
Pip

I get the next dose of Ocrevus for my MS on Monday of this coming week. I have to wait three months after I get the infusion, but then I will FINALLY be able to get a Covid vaccine, Lord willing. I wish you health and happiness! ❀️, Amy

Winter Solstice Is Behind Us

The shortest day and the longest night are behind us and that is very encouraging, particularly in 2020. Although I love winter, there is joy in knowing each day will bring a bit more sunshine than the last.

I’ve been busy with this, that, and a little bit of something else these past couple of weeks. I’ll let the pictures do the talking πŸ˜‰.

Sunday and Monday afternoons were full of baking. This is the aftermath of Sunday’s spree (cookie photos below). I didn’t take photos of the mess or cookies on Monday, by then I was kind of done with it.
Pizzelles, chocolate and vanilla.
Mandeleines, vanilla and lemon.

My stepmom who recently passed away was an avid quilter.Β  She had nearly finished hand sewing this English Paper Piecing quilt but it still lacked it’s blue border.Β  My stepsister asked me if I would add the border so it could be quilted.Β  I’ve handsewn a couple of quilts in the past but nothing prepared me for the sore fingers, slow going, and incredible amount of time it has taken to sew the teeny-tiny speck of hems together that border the thick paper stuffed inside each hexagon.Β  As you can see in the second picture, you take the paper out after a couple of rows have been sewn together, the paper is basted into each hexagon to stabilize the fabric as it’s put together.Β  This wasn’t the first paper piecing quilt my stepmom did.Β  For her, the harder the project the better the challenge and she had the chops for it!Β  She must have poured hours into this project. It’s good to be contributing to something I know she would be happy to see finished.

We have been enjoying the gas fireplace in our new house this winter. Our cats camp out in front of it any time we have it on and melt into the cutest kitty puddles you ever did see! Last week I made them a cute cat bed to lie on instead of the cold floor. Laudanum (“Laudy”) is our 10 year old blue Cornish Rex and Pip is our 3 year old chocolate Cornish Rex.

I tried to sew a bit last week but it was not easy πŸ˜‚.

As I was sitting outside a week or two ago, I happened to look up and saw this plane and contrails passing.Β  I took a picture just for fun but didn’t look at it for a few days.Β  When I did, I could make out that it was Qantas, the Australian airline.Β  I looked up their flight paths and saw that they only fly in and out of LAX, DFW, and JFK in the States.Β  Therefore, I don’t think it is a common thing to see many Qantas planes flying overhead.Β  I thought it was cool.Β  I remember being on a flight once and the pilot coming over the intercom to announce that the airspace over Springfield, MO is one of the busiest in the States.Β  I’ve often thought of that little tidbit of knowledge since then and believe it must be true.Β Β  Nearly every time I look up there are several planes and/or contrails streaking the sky.

I think this was the day I took the picture of the plane mentioned above. It was deliciously warm and sunny so I dragged my rocking chair out into the grass to soak up the Vitamin D. My skin is so shiny because I had sprayed sunscreen on – I smelled like the beach in the middle of December!
This was taken through the branches of our river birch about two o’clock in the afternoon on the 21st, the Winter Solstice.

This was also taken on the Winter Solstice. It’s the best shot I could manage of the “Christmas Star” or conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. It was pretty nifty to see since it only happens every 20ish years.

After I wrapped everyone’s gifts today I decided I would keep this, which I bought for someone else, for myself. (Don’t worry, I didn’t skimp that person, I had something else that was a suitable swap πŸ˜‰.). I had one after dinner tonight and topped it with some Redi-Whip – oh my, it was yummy πŸ˜‹! Which one would you choose first? Me? Well, I opted for the Gingerbread Cookie flavor. I’m excited to try another one tomorrow. Again, it’s going to be hard to pick. Decisions, decisions!

We are looking forward to a small gathering for Christmas with both sides of our family over the long holiday weekend.

I wish each one of you the very best, safest, healthiest, merriest, and love-filled Christmas blessings. God be with you. ❀️ Amy

The Blahs

I’ve got a case of The Blahs, not to be confused with The Blues – which I don’t have.

MS has been busy fatiguing me of late without allowing me to pursue much sewing or exploring around to enjoy photo taking. The weather has turned cooler so most of my bird watching has been through the windows instead of on the back patio. I did get a few snaps with my phone of the cats doing cute things. Well, they’re cute to me, anyway.

This doesn’t happen very often so it was worth documenting.
Pip’s position and back legs up in the air crack me up 😹!

After a long 35 year battle with breast cancer, my stepmother passed away a couple of weeks ago. She had suffered so much that it was a blessing to know her pain was over and she had gone to her heavenly reward. Of course, my sister and her family came up from Texas for a few days in two consecutive weeks. They got to say “goodbye” the first week and were here for the funeral later the following week.

My nephew and Pip are good friends.
This kid is so talented!
Puppy K.C. came up the first week. She’s a hoot!
Doing 9th grade online while they were here the 2nd time.
My Dad always gets his Model-Ts out when my nephew is here.
My sister brought some hot chocolate bombs for the kids to try out. The verdict was unanimous – πŸ˜‹!
My angelic niece savored every drop.
My nephew in his Halloween finery.
Covid made Halloween kinda different this year.
A vampire angel. πŸ˜‚
Lollipop lips. πŸ˜‚
I did get this sweet finch one sunny afternoon a few weeks ago.

I’ve been putting a lot of puzzles together while listening to Charles Dickens novels. So far, Bleak House and A Tale of Two Cities (both of which made me cry) have been my favorites. I just finished Great Expectations and am only three hours (out of 23) into The Old Curiosity Shop. I have A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby, and The Pickwick Papers waiting in the wings. I’ve read some of these before but am enjoying how they sound as audiobooks with wonderful readers speaking life into the characters as they do all the different voices.

(American) Thanksgiving will be a much smaller affair than usual but we’re looking forward to seeing my Dad and my step-sister’s family. In the true spirit of the holiday, they are each bring a couple of dishes while hubby and I do the rest. Despite all the troubles in the world around us, we have so many blessings for which to give thanks. I hope you find many blessings to be thankful for too.

God be with you. ❀️ 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 πŸ˜‚.
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 πŸ‚

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