Black bears are cute, smart and hungry, and we have them in our area. We actually have a sign on our street on the other side of our block warning residents to beware of them. Personally, I have never seen a bear, apart from at the zoo or the circus, and even after last night. I've heard many stories of people in our area who have seen them, though. My own brave ex-boyscout husband, while checking on a friend's house who was out-of-town, encountered a bear that had been loitering in the friends yard. The bear was huge and very black and as soon as my husband drove up the driveway and encountered it, meaning was so close he saw the whites of its eyes, he turned right around and drove away. When he returned the next day, the bear was gone. Once some friends were walking to a neighborhood party carrying a casserole and spotted a bear up in a tree looking down upon them (and the casserole). They made it safely to the party but had a friend drive them back home.
Last night we had our first visitation from a bear! It was the middle of the night when we heard a lot of commotion and crashing around outside - it sounded so loud and close that at first I thought it was something on our roof. Our upstairs window was open so whatever it was must have heard our exclamations!
"What in heaven is THAT?"
"It sounds like someone's taking out their garbage!"
"Look out and check, dear?"
My husband looked outside. Of course it was very dark, but he said he was sure there was something up in one of our pine trees. We could hear branches snapping, as whatever it was climbed. It was obviously not a small animal like an owl or a cat. He said it looked like something big and dark. Yikes!
The next day I went out to see if there was any signs of mischief. Sure enough, our bird-feeder that contained expensive big black seeds, purported to attract "song-birds", had been ripped from its chain beneath our bedroom window. The bird feeder lay on the ground, tipped open with a pile of the seeds laying nearby. (There was nothing to be seen up in the tree except the magpie nest which, I am glad to say, was untouched!) I noticed that even the metal ring from which the feeder hung from a metal link chain had been bent open and ripped from the wall. This must have been a) a very tall animal, since the feeder was up higher than a man could reach without a ladder, and b) a very strong animal unless it had pliers or a wire-cutter.
People thought it might have been a cat, or an animal that had climbed down from the roof. I don't know of many cats that will go to all that trouble for seeds do you? Mountain lions (which are also around our area) are most definitely carnivorous. That leaves one animal who is strong and tall and loves nice, juicy seeds: a bear.
Now we have learned that a neighbor recently saw a bear in our area - and has pictures to prove it. I guess one could advertise that the big black seeds are guaranteed to attract song birds as well as black bears! The birds will have to fend for themselves from now on...
at 9:57 AM | Labels: bears
Yesterday was a beautiful day - warm and sunny - but not too hot. I decided that I needed more photos for my 365-day photo project so I went off to the lake. This is the biggest lake we have in our town. The water is, of course, fareeeezing!!!! This water was ice solid just a month ago, but it has fish, which I think might be trout.
I didn't have a fishing pole (as if)or a boat (as if), but I just hung around watching everything. I've discovered that photographers have to do this a lot. So, with camera in hand, I didn't feel so self-conscious about watching everything! I even felt bold. Look what I just drove through, after all...the drive down to the lake was terrifying ...and nothing can build one's confidence than surviving something like this...(photo from google)...
The potholes were so deep they went to China. Now I'm not usually afraid of potholes but I lead a very over-protected life, and when I am alone and driving, well, I'm afraid of everything, including driving in China! First I tried to back up. If you've ever seen me back out of my driveway, you'd know that didn't work. I mean my mail-box is bigger than a pothole and I can't seem to avoid that most of the time. Going forward again, I managed to hit each of those darn potholes for the third time. I realized then that there was no going back, just like Columbus. Or some other explorer who never returned. I spurred my old, yet intrepid, station wagon ahead and loyally it went, where any smart horse would fear to tread. A couple hours later (which was probably more like ten minutes) I got there - to the lake shore. Whew.
The pictures make everything look perfect don't they? Well, down at the lake it is sort of different, for there is no beach, no benches, even. Just gravel and small rocks, which no one could possibly sit on. I drove ever forward to get to the very end "lands end" which was another bumpy 1/8 of a mile away, and ended in a DANGER sign for the DAM RUN OFF. Gulp. I edged the car alttle farther, while noticing that the other fearless modes of transpertation were of the suv, jeep, four wheel drive variety. Smugly, I stopped beside a shiny new suv, got out, and started snapping. There was a group of rowday young men flirting with the danger area, and a busload of retired veterans lined up in wheel chairs at the shore each with a fishing pole (and no fish that I could see.)
A young man up to his knees in the water, fly fishing, like he really knew what he was doing, got out of the water and came towards me. Oh. Somehow I'd managed to park my car right next to this expert fisherman's. I was just minding my own business...but...he asked me if I was a photographer "from the newspaper". I can't imagine why! Maybe he was hoping to get his flyfishing technique on the cover of our local paper, or maybe I just looked like I knew what I was doing, frowning at my new digital camera, and squinting at the landscape in an quasi intelligent way. But perhaps this chap was as new to fishing as I was to exploring and photography? He held a bunch of fish that were dangling in a professional way from a line. Wow. I was impressed. They looked like this kind of fish:
Actually, they were a bit smaller, like these:
But who am I to criticize? I've never caught a fish in my entire life! And this bunch would make a great meal for four, and due to the current economic crunch catching fish could lower our grocery budget!
The expert fisherman departed, but not before I told him I was not from the newspaper and I hoped he didn't mind if I snapped his fish. He smiled proudly and didn't seem to mind at all. So...where does all this lead? To my new resolution:
I WANT TO CATCH SOME TROUT! Is that too much to ask? How hard can it be, after all? It could teach me patience, too. This young man made it look so easy and graceful. I'm sure I could do it - as long as someone else handled the hooks and the bloody parts of the operation.
So, I learned something about exploring: It's fun if one can manage the fear element. It will also expose one to new interests, while also getting more pictures for the 365 project. So, you never know!
at 8:48 AM | Labels: Lake; photography; exploring
I've been reading too many touchy-feeley pseudo-medical books, that I'm even speaking in their vernacular now. As in, the word "restorative"! Does anyone use that word anymore except for weird alternative medicine freaks such as myself? Maybe not. But what do you call an oil that is listed as an essential oil, meaning that it is not produced by the body, and has to be augmented by food and/or supplements. What if humans never get the required amounts of a substance due to our poor eating habits of ingesting junk food, and processed fats and oils?
Did you know that a brains dry weight is comprised of 60% FATTY ACIDS and that brain tissue is made of 85% water? I hate to think how that is all discovered, but...nevertheless. I'd think that it points to the need to obtain at least some fatty acids in the diet, and also a lot of water! Fatty acids are deplete to an alarming degree in the American diet. There are three main kinds of fatty acids: Omega 3; omega 6; and omega 9. We are deficient in mostly Omega 3's which come from the fats of seeds such as Flax seeds. Yes, olive oil is healthy too, but it does not contain omega 3. This is one reason why fish oil is also good for you, as it is high in omegas also, but I often forget if it's 3 or 6. Whatever you do don't take supplements labeled as omega 9 because the American diet is too high with those already! I think it is what you get from stuff like margarine and vegetable oils.
The diet is such a balancing act, like everything in life, isn't it? Sometimes I just get so sick and tired of it, that I say oh hell, just give me some chocolate ice-cream!
I must say that I tried a recipe in the "Yoga body diet" that my daughter gave me. It was for Italian ices, or "Granita". It was delicious! What you do is just peel some fruit (my recipe called for various spices to be added, like black pepper!) and blend the fruit up in a blender till pureed and then pour the mixture in a freezer container, or a big plastic zip-lock bag, and then every hour mush it up before it gets frozen hard, and then after 3 hours it is ready to eat. I made strawberries and banana. I'm thinking of some other fruits to try next time, with interesting spices. Maybe kiwi and mango? It's such a cooling, low cal, and good for you dessert - I don't know why I didn't think of it before! Of course it's rather time intensive because of the hourly mashing, but fun to do for a weekend! BTW fruits have no essential fatty acids in them. But of course vitamin c is important too and so are the fruit flavanoids, but don't get me started.
For want of anything very interesting to say, I thought I'd share some pictures I took on Sunday. I suggested my husband and step-dad go on a drive with me while I looked for some fun shots to take with my digital camera. I still don't quite have the hang of digital - like changing to the manual setting, etc. but I really like the editing part of the software. It's pretty basic really, but fun to experiment with. On the 365 photo project I've done 88 pictures already and it's getting addictive. The drive was designed to spark some new creative ideas, since after 88 pictures everything gets to look the same. I imagine by 200 it might get very repetitive. They say that during any day a human thinks mostly thoughts they have thought before, and it may be the same with one's surroundings, seeing the same thing day in and day out. This online project at least has me looking at things in a new way.
This first shot is a humorous one. It's a metal sculpture of a coal-miner that is in front of a bank. I think it's funny because it's symbolic of the way inflation felt, such as having to bring cash in a big cart because it doesn't go far enough anymore. I don't think that is the message the bank was trying to make with the sculpture, but every time I go to the bank it makes me smile - and how often does one do that at a bank anymore? It's nice to have a bank with a sense of humor...
I love this picture because it is so peaceful, green and cool. In the distance is the flat top of a mesa, which are common in our area. They are fun to climb to the top of, or so my son has told me, but never in a thunder storm since lightning likes to hit flat mesas and anything on top of them.
This next photo was taken nearby, but tweaked a bit with my editing software, making everything look darkly mysterious. I kept yelling to my husband to 'stop the car' every few minutes if I saw something good that warranted a further look...for some reason hubby and dad didn't seem to have much fun on this road trip - I can't imagine why...
As we followed our country road down to a small valley, we found a pretty creek and cows getting cool under the bushes. This is one cow that wasn't afraid of me and my camera. He looks darkly mysterious too, doesn't he? No editing needed here. I was glad there was a fence between us.
This next snap is an old barn - check out those creative, cloistery windows! This barn is on land that used to be a bison farm. It looks like they couldn't make it work, as barn and paddocks looked abandoned.Perhaps the dark cow above is really a bison that escaped, or maybe the bison farm hasn't closed down, but all the animals decided to spend a beautiful Sunday down at the watering hole?
Nearing the end of our drive we approached a hamlet tucked into the hills. Quaint and peaceful, this is one town that wants to stay in the past!
Coming full circle, we see that miner is still trying to make his deposit at the bank. Better come back later when interest rates go up!
That was our Sunday drive.
at 11:20 AM | Labels: 365 photo project
Today is Memorial Day. This is the day to honor those men and women who fell in battle fighting for our country. We noticed very few flags in the neighborhood as we were driving around today. You'd think at least some American's had a relative who served in the armed forces.
We must not take our liberties for granted, since so many fought and died to uphold them. Though I didn't have any relatives who perished in any conflicts, I did have relatives who served the country during times of war. I hate war, and don't mean to show my support of it, just my support of the people who have done their duty to help us maintain our democracy when it was threatened. It is no small thing. A life. A child who came of age at the wrong time. A father or mother A spouse.
I've had relatives who served as physicians during WWII, and soldiers in the civil war and the revolutionary wars. My uncle was a surgeon stationed on a tropical island during WWII. After that horrible experience he was never the same, mentally and emotionally, and could no longer practice once he returned home. Fortunately my father was stationed at a hospital in the states, so his experience wasn't as horrific as my uncle's. But war effects everyone in some way. My great, great, great uncle served in the civil war and his wife kept the sleeve of his uniform that had the bullet holes were he was shot. Think of all the young lives cut short in Vietnam. We must always remember how terrible war really is, so we can try to prevent it in the future.
My father in law was in the Korean war and a parachutist. He caught malaria and still has effects from it to this day.
As a mother of a young man, believe me, I felt great relief when my son reached the age of 28, which is too old for the draft. I'm sure every mother of a son must suffer from this anguish. It's incredible to think what it must have been like to have a son fighting in a war. There are still people dying in the mideast. Yes, lets not ever take our lives and our hard-won peace for granted.
Today, my husband and I went to a local cemetery and read some grave-stones. The graves of people who had been in the service all had flags beside them, and many people were there paying their respects. It was a sad, and silent place, but good to know that there are some who haven't forgotten.
Bless our fallen and serving soldiers where ever they may be, and let there never be another conflict again.
Thank-you for the sacrifice of your lives.
You know summer has arrived when your hubby is out all morning mowing the lawn! Despite all the long grass, dandelions and other weeds, we've had very little warm weather to show for it. But that's okay by me! Warm weather, the overheating of the body, tends to make anyone with ms feel worse. It is something about the nervous system being impeded by the heat. Of course most animals and humans feel lethargic and weak in hot weather. Just take that feeling and multiply it by 100, and it's ms.
Actually that used to be a medical test to see if someone had ms in the olden days, before MRI, which is now considered a definitive test for ms. They would put a patient in a hot bath to see if their symptoms became more pronounced and if they did, voila, the dx of ms was confirmed. Doesn't sound exactly scientific but hey, if it works...
I wish someone had told me this when I first got ms! Soon after my dx, I did what no one should ever do with ms. We went to the hot Napa Valley in the summer-time for a mini healing-break holiday. We went to a spa for 1)mudbath soaks, 2) saunas, 3) hot herbal wraps 4) hot jacuzzi soaks. Hell, by the time that was all over, I literally could not speak. I mean, I could think of the words, but I just couldn't say them! I believe this is medically called aphasia. Anyway, what was to make me better by driving out all the bad toxins in my system, made me worse.
Usually after an intense warming experience, one slowly regains function. I did, after a few days, but never, ever, fully. I was never again to speak in the self-assured, verbose, way I used to be able to. Now I am better, yet I still have trouble finding words, like it's on the tip of my tongue, but I just can't find them. This is hard for someone who likes to write. Sometimes thinking is just so hard to do, that I just get sort of mute. On other days, for some unknown reason, I feel like all those lost words have suddenly returned. It's a challenge to say the least.
But, I was talking about the weather, one of those really fascinating subjects. Well, yesterday, at least until the weather changed, I was out-of-it due to the warm temperatures. What helps is taking a cool shower or bath, drinking cold things, and wrapping a cool kerchief around your neck, so it cools the blood going to the brain. An air-conditioner helps too, which we got, just for one window in the bedroom. I'll resort to that if nothing else helps.
This reminds me of one of the treatments they did for my stepdad in the hospital after his last heart-attack. They wrapped him in cold towels. The doctor said that this cooling, was thought to allow his nervous system to function better. It was a new discovery, the doctor told me proudly, this cooling of the body. It tended to prevent neurological complications.
Jeeze, I thought, well, I knew that over 30 years ago. If someone had just asked me! Of course, who knew it would help post-heart attack patients recover?
But what I was really going to talk about, other than the hot weather, was our lilacs. I try to find something good in anything awful. Lilacs are my favorite harbinger of summer. We have two lilac bushes with two flowering sprays (there used to be more). I like the way they are almost trying to come in through the window, see above picture. We had a huge purple lilac tree in Wisconsin when I was a child. It was in the backyard, so every time I went out to play I would smell their scent, heavy in the air. It was mixed with the scent of peonies that grew beside our house, and violets. I never quite knew, or cared to know, how these plants got there, for my mother was not one to waste time gardening. I guess my Dad planted them, but I don't remember. Anyway, when I smell them now, they bring my childhood flooding back in all its joys and sorrows. They tend to almost bring back the memory of my dad, whose been gone now, over 40 years.
Summer and lilacs will do that, so it's not all bad.
at 10:20 AM | Labels: ms
Yesterday I decided that 1) I was distracting myself with my internet projects 2) I had used other responsibilities and demands as excuses why I could not continue. 3) If all else failed to provide the needed escape from completion and success, there was always my health as a great excuse. "Oh, poor me!"
Then I gave myself a good talking to. I realized this was a pattern in my life: giving up before ever finishing anything. I asked myself how I'd feel after five years if I gave up, and just knew I'd hate myself for it. Like I do for all the other degrees and jobs I've given up on (and there is a huge list!) I asked myself, what I was really afraid of. When there was no answer forthcoming, I prayed to be allowed to release my fear of whatever it was, and just be able to start again with the class, and I guess that worked! Really it is not difficult to do the work, it is actually easy, interesting and kindof fun. The last class was on Homeopathy and at first I was skeptical of what I had to learn. Now I find the subject fascinating, actually, even though it goes against everything I've believed or thought to be true about health.
I think the irony involved - me, a person with a chronic condition learning about natural health - seemed too crazy and stupid. But I realized that was my ego talking: my way too healthy saboteur. Then I reminded myself why I signed up for this study in the first place - to learn something I didn't know. To find out how to cure myself of MS. That sounds so presumptuous. But still, maybe I can discover something that has been overlooked. I have a lot of Homeopathic remedies to try now, since finishing my last class. This will be interesting.
There is more to do to complete everything I signed up for. The degree is now complete, but I have to finish a "concentration" in Herbology (SIX classes) and some electives (three classes) And then I will get a diploma. Yesterday I worked all day to complete my last class. Now I just have to wait for the final grade and to be approved for the other classes. These other classes must be finished in a year and a half, but I know, if I just don't give up, I can do it. Praying more, and being grateful will also help.
at 12:05 PM | Labels: school