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 πŸ˜‰! 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 πŸ™‚
“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 β€”
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave β€”
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 πŸ˜‰
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. πŸ™ˆπŸ™‰πŸ™Š

Part IV. MS

Lousy, good for nothin’, traitorous legs. But, I ❀️ my yellow Crocs 🐊!
My new shirt πŸ™ƒ

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.Β  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.Β  I got a different script for a stronger antibiotic for the next seven days and then a thigh-full of another one.Β  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”.Β  I made it through the shot, but then nearly passed out πŸ₯΄.Β  My blood pressure dropped too low very suddenly, I got all sweaty, and felt myself going.Β  No big deal, I recovered and they let me go within another 30 minutes.Β  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.Β  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!Β 

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 πŸ˜‹
Hubby got new tires, always an exciting day πŸš΄β€β™‚οΈ.
It goes this way ➑️
I gave homemade tortillas a go…πŸ‘πŸ˜‹.
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! ❀️

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Sick of the world? Me, too. Let me divert you.

I like looking at YouTube videos and other blogs that chronicle the everyday activities of someone else’s life. It’s both reassuring and fun to see that we all basically have the same rhythm to our lives that encompasses everything from humdrum chores, to work, to family ties and responsibilities, and an innate need for some kind of leisure activity or down time. This sameness, no matter where we are from or what we look like, reminds us we are all created in the image of God and that He has bound us to need each other as humans.

So, with that in mind, let me take you through some of the things I’ve been up to lately. Along the way you will find some cats, a brief snapshot of the music I’ve been listening to, a little sewing project, and a few meals. Of course, there will be a fair few birds, too.

I think I’ve learned some important lessons while photographing wild birds that have resonated with me as pretty good general advice for life, especially at this time. 1. Be patient, nature works on its own schedule and at its own pace. 2. Always be ready, opportunity only lasts a few seconds . 3. Only about 10% of the media (in my case, photos I take) is worth keeping, the other 90% is missing the picture and destined for the trash can. 4. Remember that everything you see on your screen is only what you can see through the lens, you have to look up to get the whole picture. Conversely, not everything in the big picture is worth focusing in on. 5. Keep a sharp eye out for the things that are beautiful and zoom in on them.

(Yep, I like Monty Python. If you have to ask what I mean, don’t bother.)

EWW! As my cup says, I’m a CAT Person NOT an entomologist. It looks like I need to either add bug spray or something with citronella to my box.

As I’ve written before (here’s the link: https://amysaxons.com/2019/07/10/when-music-sounds-gone-is-the-earth-i-know/), I love all kinds of music and that definitely includes big band and songs from the 1940s. One of my favorite artists from that era was the British singer Vera Lynn, who was widely known as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” to the English troops. Sadly, she passed away last month aged 103.
As I looked out the patio door one morning, I found this Goldfinch on the stem of this Shasta Daisy picking the petals out one by one and eating the exposed seeds. I had no idea a stem could hold the weight of a bird, much less that a Goldfinch would destroy the flower piece by piece for the seeds. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. I knew it would fly away if I opened the door so I got this shot by putting the lens of my camera through the slats of the blind and hoped the glass tint on the door wouldn’t result in just a blurry shadow. I ended up having to play with the saturation to make the picture clear, but it worked. It’s a favorite of mine simply because it reveals a part of the secret life of a Goldfinch that I never knew existed.
One of my favorite visitors to the feeders is a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. This one is particularly gorgeous.
The blue rim around a Mourning Dove’s eyes is stunning!
I hadn’t seen our little Downy Woodpecker for a few days, I was glad to see him at the suet feeder today.
He likes the safflowers and black oil sunflower seeds in the feeders, too. I guess the house finch doesn’t mind to share.
I’d never seen a bluebird do this before. He stayed stock-still prostrate for a good 20 seconds or so. Does anyone know what he is doing??
He flew up to the fence and seemed to be just fine after he was all splayed out.
Our first Carolina Wren!!
Maybe it will come back next spring and nest in our new wren box!
So, to end this peek into my life, here is a picture of me sweating it out under one of our River Birches this afternoon catching a few last minute photos while wearing my favorite cat shirt. I know life can feel hard these days, so dig your claws in and hang in there! God be with you.

Hercules Wants My Toothbrush

Hercules Wants My Toothbrush

I didn’t know MS recruited, but it seems that it recently acquired the mythical legend Hercules to it’s dark side.Β  I guess he took a shine to my electric toothbrush because it certainly feels like I am in an all-out, do or die wrestling match against some kind of superhuman force the entire two minutes it runs.Β  Oral hygiene shouldn’t require a 10 minute power nap to recover from, right?Β  It’s been so long since I’ve experienced “normal” energy that I can’t remember.Β 

Anywho… despite insipid fatigue, life has crept quite happily along.Β  Because I have the best hubby and sister in the world, they each drove ten hours both ways (!) so I could spend a week staying with my sister in Texas. We didn’t do anything or go anywhere because CV-19 is crazy in Austin at the moment, but we had fun anyway and I love spending time with them all.

I helped my nephew study for his permit.
I sewed a toy for their new puppy, K.C. Yep, they are die hard Chiefs fans 🏈
My bro-in-law shared his addiction to these cookies with me πŸ˜‹.
Peanut butter and jelly
S’mores
Not to be outdone, my sister opened my eyes to this tasty delight πŸ˜‹.

(L-R) chocolate, raspberry-white chocolate cheesecake, red velvet, lemon.

Other than having to start a diet when I got home, everything else fell back into place like I had never left. I still have the sweetest hubby and cats one could ask for and the birds are as photogenic as ever. Oh, and a squirrel has found the feeders. He’s cute now but he probably won’t be if he decides to invite his friends.

Purple Finch
Nuthatch
Look how long the nuthatch’s beak is! They are easy to identify because they do everything upside down.
Goldfinch
Young female Finch
Cardinal
Eastern Bluebird
He is a cute little booger!
Laudy
Pip

A few days have been nice enough I have been able to spend time outside, but heat and MS don’t mix so I’ve been indoors a lot more than I would like. I’ve had extra entrenched primary MS fatigue which has made it hard to do much. (Primary fatigueΒ is thought to be due to nerve messages from your brain and spinal cord having to navigate theΒ areas of damage caused by your MS. It takes more energy to send and deliver messages to other parts of the body, like the muscles in your arms and legs, causing a build-up of fatigue. – mstrust.org.uk). However, it feels good to be back home and I have books that need reading, shows that need watching, puzzles that need putting together, music that needs listening to, and apps that need playing.

Stay safe and God be with you!

Goodbye May 2020, Don’t Forget to Take Your Germy Germs With You!

Goodbye May 2020, Don’t Forget to Take Your Germy Germs With You!

Below you will find a few more pictures from the scrapbook of our May under CV-19.  We have completely settled into our new home and are grateful to be here, virus or not.

Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks!
We went for a drive in the country on Memorial Day.
Slowly, restaurants in our neck of the woods are opening back up.
Napping buddies.
We’ve had a lot of rain and storms the last few weeks. I see a lily in the clouds, can you?
This little house finch found a good spot to shelter during a heavy downpour.
One of my favorite backyard views.
A friend from church gave me this beautifully fragrant peony…
…and this old world rose.
After some research, I got a couple of new, weighted feeders and a different suet feeder. The seed feeders are on a spring that closes the seed ports when triggered by anything greater than the weight of a couple of finches. I also changed the kind of seed I put out and stopped spreading it on the ground. It has worked to cut off the riffraff grackles, crows, and brown headed cow birds.
Robin
Eastern Bluebird deep in thought.
Mourning Dove
Cardinal
Purple finches, female and male
House finch
Carolina Chickadee, I think. It’s hard for me to tell the difference between a Black-capped and a Carolina.
Chipping sparrow and blue bunting
Red-bellied woodpecker
Downy woodpecker
One of our neighborhood squirrels hanging out on the fence.
Our newest critter, an eastern chipmunk
My very favorite animals, Laudy…
…and Pip!

We’re ready to ease into June with fewer restrictions and, hopefully, greater normalcy. May God be with us one and all! ❀️

Life During the Time of Corona through My Camera Lens

A quiet lane a block or so from our house.
Along the quiet lane.
Dogwoods in all their glory.
Spring comes alive in our backyard.
Our neighbor’s tulips
Blooms in our backyard.
Our neighborhood has a small lake with a walking trail around it.
A bit of sunbathing.
Breathing new life into our old iron rocking bench.
πŸ˜‚
My stepmom gave me a cutting from a plant my sister Glenda gave her 20ish years ago. Glenda died in a car wreck 14 years ago next month. It’s a happy coincidence the pot she put the cutting in matches the lawn ornament behind it πŸ’™.
I added a few bird feeders last week and they sure have been busy!
To the left…
…to the right.
Momma Tree Sparrow and…
…baby in one of our nesting boxes.
White-throated Sparrow
Downy Woodpecker
This Nuthatch is a new visitor, I get so excited every time it visits.
Goldfinches are a favorite of mine.
Such a cute baby Goldfinch!
We have a pair of stunning Bluebirds nesting in one of our boxes!
Momma Cardinal sporting a beautiful crest.
This little fella thought “crest” meant a mohawk!!
We’ve had a lot of House Finches at the feeders, they sing and chirp until you can’t help but smile that God created such marvelous creatures!
(Female House Finch)
Elegant and gorgeous Mourning Dove.
I think this dove may have a birth defect. He comes around a lot and I’m always happy to see him. I’m rooting for him out in the great-wide world.
Hubby has kept himself busy with chores…
…fun…
…making labs for students…
…and teaching from home.
Meanwhile, my life under the shutdown looks exactly like it did before Coronavirus. I always have a cat nearby and I don’t leave the house very often. I guess MS has been good for something, it’s made surviving the shutdown easy-peasy for me.
I’m still sewing when I have the energy, but I have swapped my usual tasks to making masks. As ever, Laudy supervises my work.
Pip as my parrot πŸ˜‰.
LOTS of napping!
Yes, I did cut my own hair 🀫🀭.
I’ve been using my foot pedal a lot these days. My MS has been a beast lately, but I’m determined to keep moving by hook or crook.
We celebrated Hubby’s birthday on the 20th of April…
…and mine on the 22nd. (I forgot to take a picture of the donuts we had for Hubby’s breakfast.)
Texas Roadhouse for dinner on my bday πŸ˜‹.

We’re both ready for the current madness to end and return to whatever the new normal will be, I’m sure you and yours are too. Stay sane, safe, and healthy, we’re all in this together together ❀!

Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Crazy Cat Person

Come on, you know you want to! Let your inner ROAR come yowling out!!

  1. Get enough meowvelous clothes to cover all the seasons and to wear one every day of the week.

2. Don’t forget the Purrfect accessories.

3. Snuggle in with snazzy, P-awsome jammies.

4. Lots and lots of drinking vessels, and I’m not kitten.

5. Pawsatively beautiful art –  both LARGE…

…and small.

6. Plenty of toys to keep your kitties feline fine.

7. Customized furniture

8. And last but not least, you will need to get professional photographs taken with your cats at least once in your life. These oldies but goodies are from 1998!    πŸ˜Ή πŸ˜Ή