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 😀) 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 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

The Great Backyard Bird Count

This weekend, from the comfort of our own living room, I joined bird enthusiasts from around the world to count species and track their populations in a group effort sponsored by The Audubon Society and led by The Cornell Lab. The app “eBird” made it easy-peasy as I watched birds come to our backyard feeders. There was a cool global map that lit up in real time as people from around the world turned in their lists. The most flashes were in North America, Europe, and Asia during the times I looked, but I saw some from Australia and South America too. I kept data from Friday through today, Monday. I saw the most birds Sunday with 15 different varieties and a total count of 42 individuals in about 45 minutes. I imagine the freezing temps and constant snow made for a larger than normal number of birds at our feeders. You can see a bit of the progression of the storm in the pictures below.

I had help counting on Friday morning which was a mildly icy day.
Our first visitor. I couldn’t turn anyone away in such nasty weather.
American Goldfinch
House Finch
I think we ended up with four individual Fox Sparrows. It was pretty exciting to see them since they’ve never been to the feeders before.
A flyover 😉. For any photographers out there, I went Manual this weekend for the first time ever. I played around and learned a lot by trial and error. That is, I made a million errors and it was very trying.
House Finch, female
By far the biggest number of birds at the feeders were White-throated Sparrows.
I spread a lot of sunflower seeds on the ground and many of the birds camped out there to eat during the day. Birds need lots of food when it is so cold.
Look at the sweet little Junco’s eye, frosty from the blowing snow 😢. The are two Northern Cardinals in the background braving the wind as well as a Sparrow.
A female Cardinal hunkered down.
I usually shoo away the European Starlings because they are aggressive and a non-native species, but I didn’t have the heart in the bitter weather this weekend. This little fella has his feathers all fluffed out and his beak in his wing in an effort to stay warm.
Although the lighting in this pic is not right, it does highlight the snow stuck on the Cardinal and shows the blizzard-like conditions.
This Junco is pecking through the snow in search of seeds.
This White-throated Sparrow dove into the snow and scratched out a spot to sit in.
Here he is all settled in and fluffed out.
Our feeders about 2:00 Monday afternoon. There’s about 3-4 inches of snow with more supposed to come in overnight and again Tuesday night. I’m glad we got birdseed last week!
The indispensable tools of the trade, my specs and trusty binoculars.

I plan to continue to keep track of the birds that visit us using the eBird app, it was fun. And, you know I will be taking more bird pics soon! Thanks for stopping by! ❤️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 😉.

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.  She had nearly finished hand sewing this English Paper Piecing quilt but it still lacked it’s blue border.  My stepsister asked me if I would add the border so it could be quilted.  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.  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.  This wasn’t the first paper piecing quilt my stepmom did.  For her, the harder the project the better the challenge and she had the chops for it!  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 😂.

As I was sitting outside a week or two ago, I happened to look up and saw this plane and contrails passing.  I took a picture just for fun but didn’t look at it for a few days.  When I did, I could make out that it was Qantas, the Australian airline.  I looked up their flight paths and saw that they only fly in and out of LAX, DFW, and JFK in the States.  Therefore, I don’t think it is a common thing to see many Qantas planes flying overhead.  I thought it was cool.  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.  I’ve often thought of that little tidbit of knowledge since then and believe it must be true.   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 😉.). I had one after dinner tonight and topped it with some Redi-Whip – oh my, it was yummy 😋! 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