April Showers of Blessings

A carolina chickadee built a nest in one of our boxes for his lady love’s approval but, sadly for me, she chose another one of his offerings in the woods across the street.
Our skink is back! He’s been sunning himself a lot on the grill cover where he has been hanging out on warm, sunny days.
My sister got a cake for all of the April bdays in the family. Hubby wasn’t able to come down with us to celebrate his special day so we each ate an extra piece of cake in his honor 🥳.
I’ve always wanted to try bubble tea and now I can say I have. I don’t need to have that experience again 😝.
The chewy tapioca balls were… interesting. Fun fact: I bit my tongue off when I was in a car accident in 1987. Can you see any of the suture scars?

Thanks for following along to the end of this post. May you go with God!

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 (😜😂). 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. 🙄

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 😒.) 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 💜!

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

Doctor Day Dread

I don’t like “doctor day”.  I have one with my neurologist every six months, at least.  I had one today.  Although she is the best doctor I have ever had, has seen me through some really rough MS transition periods, and I like her as a person, I dread going to see her.  Though I live with MS and all the limitations it enforces daily, seeing a doctor specifically for the disease always brings the horribleness of it to the fore.

Firstly, I drove myself to the appointment, which required two days of vigilant rest in order to scrape enough energy together to do so safely.  I got home completely drained and, six hours later, I’m still sitting in the recliner exhausted.

My walking is worse so I get to go to physical therapy…again.  I’ve had P.T. several times over the last 30 years – something else to drive to.  It’s worth a shot though if they can help fix the hitch in my “get along”, causing pain in my hips and spasms in my legs.  I know I need to work on my balance and coordination, as well.

We discussed my bladder and the medicine change the urologist suggested – it’s always fun to talk about your bladder.  She said she wished there was something to do for the interminable, insufferable MS fatigue but it’s just part of it.  And, despite my trouble walking and the need for a cane, she said I’m lucky to still be able to walk after 30 years.  She said it’s likely due to the fact that I have dauntlessly exercised in some form or fashion nearly every day for the duration of my diagnosis.  Nearly all her other patients have moved to motorized wheelchairs this late in the game.

I’m going to get my next Ocrevus infusion the first of March, Lord willing.  My doctor told me to continue to stay away from people from now until four weeks after I get the medicine, after which it should be safe to get the Covid vaccine (if I can find one available).  As an aside, there was a lot of initial concern over whether Covid vaccines would be safe for people taking immunosuppressant MS drugs.  Thankfully, it has been deemed safe and, though they may blunt the full effect, they still seem to work their magic.

Seeing my neurologist is a reminder of all the fear and uncertainty that surrounds the future living with multiple sclerosis.  I wake up every day wondering what kind of day it will be.  Will I be able to walk?  Am I going to have enough energy to make lunch and dinner?  I try to take it one day at a time, and I usually succeed.  However, when I see the doctor I have to look back over the last six months or year and compare how I am now to how I was then.  The last several years, as the disease has slowly progressed, I see changes that are not pleasant to look at but over which I have no control. 

No one knows what the future holds, I know that.  It may or may not be as bad as I fear it could be.  I pray for a cure.  Realistically, I think they will have to figure out what causes it in the first place before there’s a cure.  It’s hard to win against an unknown, moving target.  So much more is known now than ever before and there are some solid theories about what triggers the onset and drives the progression of MS.  I hope I live to see the day when no one else dreads “doctor day” because of multiple sclerosis.

Worth It!

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and enjoyed a bit of down time. The weather here in The Ozarks has been mostly mild for the time of year and begged for a stroll around the lake near our house. It was a good MS day so I chanced hiking halfway up a short trail for a few photos.

The natural stone path was easier to climb up than down.
Stone wear.
I’ll have to remember to bring a lunch next time to enjoy the surrounding views.
There were several people fishing along the bank. I think Santa went incognito and took the afternoon off to drop a quick line 😉.
Canadian Goose warming it’s beak.
There were several male Mallards clustered together along the shoreline and let me get awfully close.
There were also a few female Mallards waddling here and there.
It felt very mellow to see the remains of summer’s decay floating in and on the water.
The sky was full of migrating geese.

A few members of our family shared a cozy, delicious turkey dinner with all the fixings on Thanksgiving Day.

Waiting for the last bits of the turkey to arrive before digging in.
Our very own smoked turkey guru. Apple-sage 😋
The kids enjoyed making all manner of things from pipe cleaners.

As the title suggests, the energy expended to hike and walk around the riverbank as well as to cook all the sides for Thanksgiving was worth it. They cost me a few days of serious rest and struggle walking, but I am incredibly grateful to still be able to do these things. So many people who have had MS for 30 years no longer have the choice of doing these seemingly mundane, everyday things. The blessing that I still can do them, no matter how many days I pay for it, is not lost on me.

I took the final three photos below over the last few days as I’ve been recovering. I am so happy the juncos are back for the winter, they are one of my favorites.

Though I hope to write again soon, I don’t want to miss the chance to wish you a very merry, festive Christmas season! ❤️Amy

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

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

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.  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.  Oral hygiene shouldn’t require a 10 minute power nap to recover from, right?  It’s been so long since I’ve experienced “normal” energy that I can’t remember. 

Anywho… despite insipid fatigue, life has crept quite happily along.  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 😋.
Peanut butter and jelly
S’mores
Not to be outdone, my sister opened my eyes to this tasty delight 😋.

(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 fatigue is thought to be due to nerve messages from your brain and spinal cord having to navigate the 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!

If Only

The whole world is mad enough to chew nails and spit rivets at each other.  The wildfire of anxiety already fueled by a viral pandemic and financial hardships has roared into an inferno fanned by outrage over racial injustice.  Add all of this to an overly politicized, deeply divided, radically idealized, and seemingly diabolicaly opposed Left and Right presidential election year and, voila, here we are.  McCarthyism (“The practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigate techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.” – Dictionary.com) turned into Cancel Culture (“The popular practice of withdrawing support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.” Dictionary.com).  Unsurprisingly, we (collectively as humans) have learned absolutely nothing from God or history on how to get along with each other.  Like sheep, we’ve all gone astray.  The only difference between us and sheep is that we like to point and call out the wrong courses everyone else has taken, but never look back at our own errors.

As a result, I’ve been rationing my news intake and limiting my time on social media platforms.  I can’t take all the lava-hot words and vitriol spewing out of the mouths on all sides of the world’s current, self-inflicted problems.  I don’t know how to heal or even understand the differences of opinion and the vast chasms that seem to lie between the logic and thinking of some of us.  So, with that admission, what can I do?  I have been and will continue to lay them down at my Father’s feet.  He is the answer to everything, always. God excels in doing what everyone says is impossible. 

I’m doing the same on a personal level.  While the huge fires of the world keep burning, so too do the little flames within my life.  I’m sure you understand because we’re all the same.  My personal fire is called MS but yours might be named such things as Furloughed, Job, Money, Stress, Anger, Divorce, Death, Parent, Child, Spouse, Cancer, Diabetes, Aging… just about anything, really.  For me, MS is constantly melting away tiny pieces of my own sovereignty.  It’s very difficult to let go of the things in life that make you feel like you have some control, such as driving, shopping, cooking, and walking. 

In much the same way that I realize I can’t put out the MS fire in my own life and deal with the destruction it leaves in it’s wake on my own, we, as a nation and even world, must understand we will have to work collectively to bring the flames of our society back under control.  The solution will not be conceived in fear of an unseen germ, worry over the next great depression, or riots that break our neighbors’ windows and loot their livelihoods because of injustice.  No, if it could then we would already have the answer.   The fix is to be found in love.  The kind of love the apostle Paul described in I Corinthians 13:4-7, the sort God has for us.  His love is patient, kind, happy for others instead of envious, lifts others up instead of boasting about self, is well mannered instead of rude, seeks the good of others instead of self, is slow to anger, keeps no records of wrongs, delights in holiness instead of evil, rejoices in the truth instead of sensationalism, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. 

I realize what I am about to say is very Pollyannish of me, but…  If every person would recognize the truthfulness and wisdom of this type of love and make it their own personal goal to practice it, without policing others and how they are doing as they attempt to do the same, all the infernos of the world would simply burn themselves out.  If only.

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! ❤️