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 πŸ˜‹.
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

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

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 πŸ˜–.  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 πŸ˜–.  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

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

Mid-May in Survival Mode

My Multiple Sclerosis has been a beast more days than not since my last post. I hate it and it hates me. I guess we’re even. Even so, life in these extraordinarily strange times has continued to flow on. Hubby is wrapping up grading finals this weekend and we’re both looking forward to him having a few weeks off before his summer schedule kicks off. He will be teaching from home again which makes me happy. It’s been so good to have human interaction during the day, even if it is just for short breaks between his classes.

Last week we joined what felt like half of our city in the parking lot of one of our area’s hospitals to see a B-2 Stealth Bomber fly over as a salute to the selflessness of our medical workers. I don’t know which I was more impressed with, the rare sight of two B-2s or the sense of unity and pride I felt seeing so many Americans come out to wave flags, clap, holler, and whistle as they flew over. To tell the truth, I’ve not felt much patriotism the last few years. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country and am grateful to be an American but the political tone and constant gamesmanship vomiting itself all over the media has not fanned the flames of my patriotic fervor. It felt good to see my fellow citizens come out in support of something that binds us together rather than tears us apart.

Hubby and I went to Target before the B-2s were scheduled to make their appearance. The line to check out snaked almost to the back of the store. It felt more like I was in line at an amusement park waiting to get to ride a new roller-coaster than the chance to buy toilet paper and Fruit Loops.

On the way home after the B-2s, this jacked up truck came roaring around us. I wonder what this guy is trying to compensate for with his huge muffler πŸ€”.

Speaking of compensations, one of the few (but best) I have from being immobilized on bad MS days is spending long hours with a snuggly cat tucked in my robe while sipping coffee.

I think being able to sit and watch nature from the comfort of my rocking chair on the back patio has not only kept me sane during endless days of forced rest, but has also given me something to look forward to. Here are a few snaps from my latest gallery of feathered friends…

Goldfinches!
The early Robin gets the worm.
A Cardinal perched in one of our river birches.
Black-capped Chickadee
Lovey dovey
Chipping Sparrow
Munch, munch, munch goes the Purple Finch!
It has been thrilling to see this little Indigo Bunting come to the feeders!
This Red-bellied Woodpecker is very skittish, much more so than the other birds that come to the feeders. It has been a challenge to get a good shot of him but I think this one does him justice. He is BEAUTIFUL!
We’ve had up to four Downy Woodpeckers at a time at the feeders and suet cakes. The distinguishing red mark on this one’s head looks like a heart to me.
This lilac tree filled the entire backyard with it’s delicious fragrance and proved irresistible to butterflies.
Red Admiral Butterfly on Lilac

I hope you and yours are both healthy and safe. God be with you!

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 ❀!

Adventures in Moving House

Well, the deed is done. We moved and have been in our new house for exactly one week! Mercy, moving created a strange brew of fevered, paradoxical feelings. We were always somewhere between excitement and dread; anticipation and foreboding; exhaustion and exultation; and daydreaming about what we were going to do in our new house, then mixing it with the reality of our bank account.

Thankfully, once our old house sold we had about three weeks to pack and get ready to move into our new house. As you know, I struggle mightily with fatigue related to my MS. My Hubby was super busy with work so I created a plan of attack and paced myself to get everything packed and labeled for the move.

The day of our closing finally arrived and we celebrated by having dinner with Hubby’s Mom!

We closed on a Friday and had arranged for family and friends from church to help us move boxes on Saturday. We have such wonderful people in our lives! I sat in a chair and directed traffic so everyone knew where they were going. I’m pretty sure some child labor laws were broken.

Our Cornish Rex cats, Laudy and Pip, made the transition to the new house swimmingly. They hung out in our master bath and closet during the move, then came out once everyone was gone to check the place out. Our new reclining love seat provided a much needed place to take a break. There was little rest for the weary though. We worked hard Sunday afternoon to clear paths and locations for our furniture.

The movers arrived Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. to load up our furniture and appliances from the old house to take to the new. I stuck to my scooter all day in order to make it through the day.

I had done pretty well Saturday and Sunday managing my energy, but I was really struggling to keep going by Monday evening after everything was finally in our new house. Both the cats and I were turned around and upside down.

Somehow everything in life seems to happen all at once. It turned out that my first full infusion of Ocrevus just happened to fall on Thursday of last week, three days after we moved. I expected, and was correct, that I’ve been extra tired since getting the drug. I purposefully allowed myself to work past what I knew was good for me in order to get as much done as possible before the Ocrevus took me down.

Slowly, I’m recovering from my treatment and our new house is feeling more and more like home. I do a little bit each day and my hubby does a whole lot each evening. We’re hoping this is the last move we ever have to make. But even if it isn’t, what I love most about my home is who I share it with πŸ’•.

Undone

We placed our house on the market three weeks ago and every day since has been like living in some alternate reality.  The endless cycle of picking up, putting away, wiping down, and clearing out in order to hide the fact two cats and their humans live here had grown old by the second day. I’ve seen vlogs of people on YouTube who want you to believe they happily clean their house every day and offer advice on how you could learn to love to do the same. I like a clean house and I’m no slacker when it comes to actually doing the deed, but there is no way I want to adopt some ritual that forces me to scrub the toilet every morning in order to feel joyful.

Nevertheless, with the knowledge people could be coming over at the drop of a hat to see the house, I found myself in a state of constant tidiness not too far removed from the feeling you get just a couple of hours before hosting a dinner party. You have ten things to do at once and the pressure is on to get it all done before the first ring of the doorbell. We don’t host dinner parties anymore thanks to my MS. I don’t have the energy to clean, cook, AND be charming anymore. Most days it’s a struggle just to do one of these through to its completion. So, it wasn’t too far into the first week my prayers grew in fervor for God to intervene and make some way for me to survive this part of the process.

We had two open houses and several showings the first couple of weeks which resulted in one low-ball offer that was $40K below asking price and begged to be rejected. However, we received and accepted a second offer this past Monday, but it was contingent on the young couple’s house selling first. It was such a great offer we thought it was worth giving it a chance. For better or worse, a contingency does not stop your house from being shown, though it usually slows things down to a trickle. So, we were absolutely flabbergasted by the number of people who crawled out of the woodwork the day after Zillow and Realtor.com listed our house as “Contingent”. Our hearts and hopes soared that maybe something would come of it all, but my MS was absolutely seething and out to take revenge because I was not complying with its dictatorial demands for rest.

My prayers took on a begging tone asking Him to help me survive and to get another offer that would press the contingency to a precipice and conclusion. With each passing day my appeals intensified to the point they became more like chants than well-spoken prayers.

In addition to keeping things tidy, it grew harder and harder with each passing day to pack up the cats and put them in the car, move the litter boxes to the garage, stash the scratching posts and then drive somewhere to wait until the coast was clear before reversing the process when I got home. By Tuesday of this week I had become so tired I couldn’t walk or be up for more than five minutes at a time. Matter of fact, my energy didn’t even last long enough for the water to boil in the electric kettle for a cup of tea. The situation was dire!

That’s when it happened, right at the intersection of I Can’t Do This Anymore and God, Please Help Me. We got a full price offer on Friday that ended up being the one we got to keep. The young couple who made the contingency offer on Monday was not able to buy our house until theirs sold so they, unfortunately, fell victim to the standard kick-out clause when we got the second offer.

Our realtor, in the business for years, told me that she had never had a house with a contingency offer all of a sudden get so many people wanting to see it. She was still turning down requests to view our house over the weekend well after the ink on our contract was dry Friday.

My emotions have been all over the place through this whole experience. Excitement and anxiousness mixed with a healthy dose of hope, anticipation and nervousness. But when I saw the final full-price offer I thought I was seeing something wrong. I even looked our listing up online to make sure I had remembered our listing price correctly. Sure enough, I had seen it right the first time. That’s when I started sobbing uncontrollably as a flood of relief and gratitude to God completely made me feel undone by Him. Although I had begged God to intervene on our behalf with continuous pleas, I couldn’t take in how mightily He had answered. As the reality of it all slowly dawned on me, my continuous chant turned into millions of Thank You-s and You’re so good to me-s. I couldn’t stop saying it over and over as tears of joy and thanksgiving fell unashamedly down my cheeks. The fact that, once again like so many other times in my life, He had heard my prayers and intervened on my behalf, left me feeling completely and utterly undone and humbled before Him.

I am writing this in the middle of the afternoon while reclining in bed waiting for my MS to wear out its retaliation for doing too much this week. Let my MS do what it may, I don’t care. I am glowing in the ceaseless cascades of my Father’s love for me. I’d spend every hour of every day left in my life stuck here lying in my bed if I had to just to know and to feel His tender, caring, kind, reassuring love. Thankfully, I know I won’t have to do that. It is His nature to be just that good to me!

~ See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

Waiting Is the Hardest Part

As the new year began, Hubby and I put our house on the market. We had been talking about it for a couple of years but never seemed to have the drive to get the house ready.

I turn 50 this year (😳) and have never lived in any other town than the one I was born and raised in. Hubby had lived in a couple of different places before we met and married. However, once he moved to my town it felt like home and we settled into 14 years of happiness here together. Suburban life is great but the everyday traffic and effort to get anywhere of consequence has gotten old. Not only do we work in the city, but we also go to church, do our banking, get groceries, go shopping, go to parks, exercise, and… pretty much everything in the city.

Over the Christmas holiday, we pushed and worked ourselves to the bone thinning the herd of things we had accumulated over the 12 years we have lived in our current house. Trying to do all of this with MS was a challenge every single step and hour along the way. There were days I couldn’t do anything at all, but most days were chopped up into various lengths within what felt like a never ending work-rest cycle.

Anytime we weren’t decluttering and purging we spent scouring real estate listings online. We went to several open houses within our target zone in the city but always kept coming back to the same house we had seen on the first day we started house hunting. It had been on the market for a few months and the owners had reduced the price to a point we felt like we could put in an offer. Since it had been on the market for a while we were sure the sellers would be interested in negotiating with us. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the very day we put our offer in, two more offers were submitted and the pressure was on to make sure ours was the one they accepted. It was an anxious 36 hour wait before we found out whose offer they settled on. I’m very happy to say we got the house! It’s everything we needed and were wanting and we hope we never have to move again.

We listed our current house and are praying it sells quickly, although one never knows about these things.Β  The weather has not been very cooperative so far.Β  I suppose January is not exactly the best time to put a house on the market–it just worked out that way for us.Β  We have had a lot of interest, but no offers yet.Β  It has proven to be a challenge to keep the house in a state of constant cleanliness and overall tidiness.Β  I’m so glad I can stay home and work at it as my energy ebbs and flows.Β  As you all know, I love our cats right up to the edge of being kinda freaky.Β  Whereas before I didn’t really care if they left pieces of litter here and there until I could sweep the floor every few days, now I’m virtually following them around with a dustpan and broom everywhere they go.Β  I clean the kitchen countertops at least five times a day trying to erase the evidence that we let them get up there in the first place.Β  I’ve even shaved (yes, really) the places on the couch where tell-tale signs of cat scratches made it look like we let them use it as a scratching post 😬.Β  Even though they increase the workload, which drains my limited energy all the faster, they’re worth it, but I don’t want to keep it up indefinitely.

I keep finding myself thinking of the old adage “a watched pot never boils” because it coincides perfectly with our current situation at the moment, a watched phone never receives a text that someone wants to look at our house. It’s become a daily exercise of faith to wait this little while without knowing the future regarding when our current home will sell. This has spurred me to think back across the span of my entire life, especially the parts that were hardest, and to see clearly how God worked for my best interest in each and every circumstance. I have absolutely no doubt that He is working to bring the right buyers to us at the right time, not a moment too soon nor a moment too late. Waiting for things to happen is indeed the hardest part while still clothed in this mortal flesh, but it only serves to heighten the ease with which one can find peace and hope for a future with Christ once we no longer need a fixed address on this earth.

Life On the Boil

Somehow, every time I steam vegetables on the stove I manage to get busy with other meal prep work and look away at the exact moment the water starts to foam and boil over. It leaves an icky, mucky mess on our glass stovetop that requires a lot of elbow grease to clean up.

The entire month of December can sort of feel like this, too much to do and not enough time and energy to do it all. Pageants, musicals, parties, decorating, cooking, shopping, wrapping, organizing, traveling… the list is endless and it comes on top of our usual work, church, and family duties. In an effort to create and maintain memorable traditions with our children, family, and friends, it seems we overextend ourselves. Stress begins to boil over, taking away the joy of the season and making us feel like a mess on the inside.

These days, Christmas or not, many people choose to live their lives set on a constant boil.  Every spare moment of time is filled with activity and on the go.  I don’t want to leave the impression that it’s wrong or bad to have a full calendar. I suppose I used to do that too when I still could.  It felt good to be busy with school and church activities, going to the movies or hanging out at a friend’s house, attending concerts, having dinner out, or just riding around town with my best pals.  It was fun being away from home and it felt as if I was seizing the opportunity to really get my money’s worth out of every moment of life.

I don’t want to go back and change much about that time in my life, except that I wish I would have weeded out some of the empty, self-indulgent things I did in a mindless effort to keep life bubbling away. Instead, I would have benefited from some unfilled moments so I could study, reflect, and work on my relationship with God.

Thanks to MS, I rarely live life on the boil anymore. Most of my days are somewhere between a long, slow, gentle simmer and stone cold. Amazingly, just as with food, there is as much nourishment and fullness in life whether it’s served hot off the boil, warm from a good simmer, or cold straight out of the fridge.

On most days, I am glad life has slowed down. It has allowed for me to boil life down to the essentials instead of life boiling me down. Yes, sometimes it’s true that I would like to have a bit more boil and a little less cold, but the joys of life can be savored either way.

My wish for you this holiday season is that you purposely carve out some quiet time to grow your relationship with God. You likely won’t find Him in the chaotic, hectic, hubbub of festivities, but in the quiet stillness of a holy night about 2000 years ago.