Through the Picture Window

Winter came to our backyard in January, she was exquisite โ„๏ธ.
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
On the other hand, these easy home-made whole wheat english muffins are one of my favorites. I frequently make a double batch of these and stick them in the freezer for a toasted breakfast delight. If you’d like to try them, I’ve snapped pictures of the recipe and added them below ๐Ÿ‘‡.

At the end of January I had a blood test to see if my immune system was rebuilding itself after stopping my MS treatments about a year ago (March 1st to be exact). The good news is yes, I have some nascent cells emerging. The bad news is I don’t have very many. I’m still immunocompromised, but the tide is slowly turning ๐Ÿฅณ.

My MS has been all over the shop. Two weeks ago I had a string of good days and was able to cook and sew and putter around the house. Yesterday afternoon I couldn’t sit up or hold my head up and spent hour after hour in bed. Today, I’ve been able to sit up and ride around the house on my scooter, but my legs are like concrete and won’t work. Tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine. The only predictable thing about MS is its unpredictability.

Laudy and Pip finishing my oatmeal a couple weeks ago ๐Ÿ˜†.

Thanks for staying tuned and stopping by. May God be with you! โค๏ธ, Amy

MS Haiku

Energy all gone,
Feels like I’m in a coma –
A puddle of goo.

I think I’ve melted into and become one with my recliner these last four days.

Thankfully, once again, my feathered friends have come to the rescue and filled the long hours with the joy of their songs and avian antics.

Eastern Bluebird and House Finch
Cardinal at takeoff. I love how you can see the individual features of his right wing.
Female Cardinal
Female House Finch
Another Eastern Bluebird
I can’t get enough of our State Bird ๐Ÿ’™
American Goldfinch
Mourning Dove
Carolina Chickadee
Dark-eyed Junco
Though the image isn’t great, I was able to document my first ever sighting of a gorgeous Pileated Woodpecker across the road in our neighbor’s tree on Saturday!! This sighting was absolutely thrilling for me and I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day โ˜บ๏ธ.

Another source of happiness filling my idle time has been the company of our cats, Laudy and Pip. They have no idea what a blessing and source of company they are to me, but I count them as one of God’s treasures gifted to my keeping. And they are experts at the art of resting ๐Ÿ˜ป.

A person very dear to me gifted Hubby and I a fun surprise, a 6-month subscription to Universal Yums. It’s a monthly box featuring snack food from different countries around the world. This month’s box arrived yesterday with treats from… Austria ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น ๐Ÿ˜‹!

Hubby’s favorite was the Waffelz and mine was the Auer Baumstamme.

I hope you are well.

God be with you! โค๏ธ, Amy

A Beautiful Day In the Ozarks

Sunny with a high of 78* F and a gentle breeze. I rode my scooter to the neighborhood lake and spent a couple hours besotted by God’s creation.

The touch of amber on the wings is stunning ๐Ÿ˜
Yellow on black good for Jack
These wings shimmered like diamonds in the sun.
Amberwings are my personal favorite.
I love ๐Ÿ’š dragonflies!
Eyes in the moss
Can you see that tail?
Though I’m pretty sure this is the equivalent of a weed in the water, the colors are striking.
Daylily

Thanks for stopping by. May God be with you. โค, Amy

Feathers, Flurries, Felines, and MS

Hello again, it’s been a while. I’ve been remiss in writing, distracted by other things in life. Well, actually, just one thing (drumroll)…my MS. Shocker, I know. The last couple of weeks have been simply outrageous. I’ll spare you the details, but I have IV steroids coming my way to try and get things under some sort of control. Yesterday, the day the home infusion nurse (yes, Bill ๐Ÿ˜€) 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. โค๏ธ, Amy

Autumn Leaves and A Recipe From 1909

I rode my scooter around our neighborhood this past week.ย  Autumn is my favorite season and, despite a later than usual start, trees in our neck of the woods are glowing with color.ย 

Glorious yellows and oranges ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿงก
Maple leaf aflame
Maple leaf in a sea of green
Maple leaf with scars and scratches
The last of our neighbor’s summer roses.
Our River Birch leaves in the throes of death.

A couple of obligatory bird photos because, well… I love birds โค๏ธ.

I’ve been seeing a lot of this female downy woodpecker lately.
Friendly carolina chickadees are frequent diners at the feeders.

My Dad has slowly been giving me a lot of our family pictures and genealogy material this past year.ย  As I looked through the latest batch I found a small book of “receipts” in the Edmunds Cookbook, compiled in 1909. Edmunds is a town in Indiana where my great grandparents lived in 1909 as members of the local Quaker community. I thought it would be fun to try to make a cake from the scant directions provided.

I have no idea who Mrs. Henry Berg was but I chose this cake because (a) I had all the ingredients on hand, (b) it seemed seasonal, (c) my hubby would probably like it, (d) it looked pretty easy.
The batter seemed promising.
It baked up nicely.
And.. it tasted DELICIOUS with a moist, airy crumb. The mix of raisins and spices provided a pleasant spicy sweetness.
This is me sitting down at the kitchen table to go through the cookbook to choose a recipe. ๐Ÿ˜น๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ˜ป

I hope you have a wonderful day! God be with you. โค๏ธ, Amy

Breath In, Breath Out

Sometimes I’m really proud of myself for being able to keep the rhythm of breathing going, such is the joy of MS fatigue.

In my last post I said I would try to write something about my MS, so here it is. Whew, this summer has been a challenge! I have had a smattering of a few good days here and there and even a few strung together in sequence, but more often than not I’ve been under the thumb of pervasive, domineering MS lethargy. Nope, it’s not the kind of tired that needs a nap and sitting to rest for a spell doesn’t shift it at all. Like having a bone dry fuel tank, no matter how hard you try to go, you end up getting absolutely nowhere. The engine won’t start, the wheels won’t go anywhere, the brakes won’t compress, the electric windows won’t budge… technically it’s a car, but it’s good for nothing. I still look like Amy on the outside but there’s no juice to animate me. The electrical wires of my nerves are stripped and the signals my brain tries to send to make my body move either can’t or only partially get through. As a result, I don’t walk right, my hands don’t work the way they’re supposed to, my bladder doesn’t know if it’s holding or letting go, my thoughts struggle to be strung into words, and my balance is all over the place making me stagger around like I’m drunk. Normal things like showering, getting dressed, eating, and even sitting up use inordinate amounts of energy because my nervous system is having to work 1,000 times harder than yours just to get the signals through. Some days, for some inexplicable reason, I spontaneously recharge fairly quickly and I get to do things other than basic human functions – these are my good days. Other days, most days if I’m honest, time passes from my favorite chair or lying in bed. I read, listen to audiobooks, put puzzles together on an app, watch TV, and snuggle with our cats.

MS and heat don’t mix, it makes all symptoms worsen, so I haven’t been on the patio taking pictures much the past few weeks. However, the past couple of days have been milder allowing me to snap a few pics of my feathered friends.

I’ve learned to love bluejays and all the sounds they make.
Matchy, matchy red!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, cardinals are one of the most beautiful birds of all!
Male downy woodpecker
Female house finch
Sweet lil’chickadee
Mourning doves are another personal fav.
The butterfly bushes we planted in the spring have more than doubled in size and smell wonderful!
There have been 5-10 hummingbird moths around the butterfly bushes all summer.
Oh, and the skippers love them too.
Hubby has just a couple more days before he heads back to work. This chore has been on his list and he’s glad to have it done. It’s still hard to believe God has blessed me with such a perfect guy โฃ๏ธ

May God be with you! โค๏ธ, Amy

A Bumpy Ride on the MS Bus

Hello, friends, it’s been a while.ย  I’ve tried to write a few times but my thoughts have been all over the place.ย  It’s hard to write intelligibly when you’re being jostled every which way riding at the back of the MS Bus over rough terrain.ย  I’ve had some smooth spots here and there but there have been plenty of pothole infested gravel roads that have caused the wheels to come completely off.

I think the worst day was when I had wandered out onto the patio to watch the birds and got stranded for close to three hours.ย  I was home alone and knew I was tired but misjudged the severity of it and entered a sort of locked-in state unable to move and get back into the house.ย  There were birds a plenty at the feeders that day to keep me company, as well as butterflies and bees visiting the then blooming lilac bushes.ย  However, as I rounded into the second hour, my bladder started to send a signal that became a blur of non-stop, unbearable …—…ย  It was a true cliffhanger!ย  Would my legs recover enough to get me inside before I lost control of my bladder?!?ย  I’m happy to report that thirty minutes later, at the end of my bladder’s tether, my legs kicked in and saved the day!

Per usual, I’ve been snapping a few pics of the birds around the house.ย  I was finallyย  able to put the feeders up again about two weeks ago with no signs of sick birdies.ย  I sure missed my little feathered friends!ย  A pair of house finches made their nest on the wreath on the front door.ย  Their brood of six have all made it so far, as you can see below.ย  Mom and Dad have been keeping the nest floor clean by putting the little nippers’ poo on the edges of the nest.ย  That will be fun to clean up ๐Ÿ˜.

Here are a few of my favorites from the backyard.

Thanks to many of you, I am thrilled to report that I came in first among the local MS Walk fundraisers! From the bottom of my heart, I am truly grateful.

The ride is getting bumbier all of a sudden and I am going fuzzy again. I hope you are doing well and enjoying the beauties God has made all around you. โค๏ธ, Amy

Through My Lens

Tufted titmouse with a beak-ful.
It’s a purple finch!  It’s a purple finch!  It’s a purple finch!  Finally!!  We had a purple finch for a couple of days earlier in the week, the first time ever.  I thought we had one last year but I was wrong.  I wondered if I would be able to tell if one ever came, I had a hard time telling them apart from house finches looking at them in a book.  It was much easier to see the differences in person.  Purple finches are more raspberry colored than house finches and don’t have brown streaks down their belly, the red goes farther down their abdomen too, and they have more red on their backs. 
This gorgeous fella stayed for a good 20 minutes.
I took lots of pictures!
Heartbreaking ๐Ÿ’”.  This little goldfinch had avian conjunctivitis causing her to go blind and slowly die.  She let me get within two feet of her for this picture. It’s easily spread at feeders between finches. I had to take the feeders down, sanitize them with 1/9 parts bleach to water, wash them with soapy water, and leave them down for a couple of weeks. I also raked up all the seed debris under the feeders and cleaned the area up. I am keeping a close eye on all the birds at the feeders now to make sure no one else has it. If you have feeders, please keep your eye out for the symptoms. I’ve included the link below for you to learn more. Feel free to contact me if you need more information. https://feederwatch.org/learn/house-finch-eye-disease/
Feeders down, getting ready to rake up the debris underneath.
We took care of my Dad’s dog for a couple of days this week while he was out of town. She’s a sweet pup. I circled her favorite toy, a pair of socks tied together.
With my feeders down I needed a bird fix. I went to the park at the lake near our house and sat watching the birds and geese. It was a bit cold but I found some flowers blooming!
Light reflecting off the water.

Today is March 20th, the first day of spring, and that means my Grandpa Frank would have been 129 years old today. Happy birthday, Grandpa โค๏ธ!!

I hope you have a wonderful day and get out to enjoy a bit of nature wherever you are. God be with you! โค๏ธ, Amy

The Day After I Toothed My Brush

I was wiped out after 8 1/2 hours at the hospital getting my 4th Ocrevus infusion yesterday. The first three hours were spent waiting for the pharmacy to compound the drug and get it up to the unit for me to take. At a whopping $100,000 a pop they won’t start getting it ready until the nurses call and say they see the whites of my eyes.

Dangling an IV, waiting for the Ocrevus.

My head ached all afternoon and evening and I struggled to make sense. My favorite was when I told hubby I had “toothed my brush”and was ready for bed…at 8:30. I slept pretty good until about 4:40 this morning. – thanks, steroids I laid in bed daydreaming while snuggling Laudy and finally gave up and got out of bed around 5:40. I’d had three cups of coffee, eaten breakfast, read the news, showered, and was dressed all before I normally get up.

It’s been a long, slow day of flushing from the steroids and a still relentless headache as a side effect of the Ocrevus. It usually takes about 3-4 days to feel normal again. In the meantime, my arms are full of cats and there are plenty of birds at the feeders to entertain us.

The steroids are seeping out but the company is good.

I’ve pasted a link to my personal Walk MS page. Please consider making a donation, it would mean so much to me โ˜บ๏ธ. I’m already a little more than halfway to meeting my $1000 goal. It’s way past time to find a cure! https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Walk/KSGWalkEvents?px=18236733&pg=personal&fr_id=31565

Thanks for stopping by. May God be with you! โค๏ธ, 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 (๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜‚). 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. ๐Ÿ™„

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 ๐Ÿ˜’.) 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 ๐Ÿ’œ!

I’ve been practicing using portrait mode with my camera this week. It’s impossible to take a bad picture of these two beauties ๐Ÿ˜ป!

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! โค๏ธ, Amy