Friday 29 July 2016

Five Excuses, and Only One Is Valid

It's been awhile since I've gotten out for a good walk.


First, in mid-summer, town sidewalks feel like this:

Second, after thirty seconds or less, it feels like this is running down my back:

Third, my right hip feels like this (without the flowers):

Fourth, my To Do list looks like this:

Fifth, my energy level looks like this:

Did you spot the valid excuse?

The hip. I can find a way around all of these roadblocks except the hip. My bursitis was triggered by sitting for long hours in an uncomfortable chair at work a couple of weeks ago. I've been resting it as much as I can and hopefully I'll be back to my walks soon.

I can hardly wait.

And I can hardly believe I'm saying that. What started out as just a way to get exercise has become so much more, to the point where I get cranky when I can't get out. I guess that's good - not the cranky part, but the enjoyment part.

How about you? Have you ever started doing something because it was good for you, and then realized you had come to like it a lot?

Monday 25 July 2016

Eye Am Seeing Things and Eye Wish It Were Not So.

Every time I turned around this weekend, I was seeing things. A cat where there was none. A fly where there was none. A spider where there was none. Etc., etc.

No, we don't have ghosts. That I know of. And no insect infestations. We do have cats, but not in the places I thought I was seeing them - waist height in thin air, for instance.

What I'm seeing is floaters in my eyes, and especially, this weekend, in my left eye. Floaters have been my constant companions for many years now. Most people will get a few as they age - they are bits of tissue that come free from the interior of the eye as it gets older - but mostly the bits tend to "disappear," by which eye doctors mean they will settle within the eye, and, short of getting stirred up, will not interfere with vision.

I had a few extra show up a half a dozen years ago, and those ones came with flashing lights. I'm more afraid of losing my vision than any other medical loss, and I was aware that floaters plus lights were a warning sign of possible problems, so I got checked out right away. Luckily, things were fine.

Then two years ago I noticed a small loss of peripheral vision in one eye, and this time things were not fine. I was hustled to the regional hospital for immediate surgery for retinal detachment.

During the procedure, the eye surgeon removed a little of the fluid in my eye and replaced it with a bubble of gas. Not the kind that you put in your car, more like a bubble of air. The gas bubble helps keep the retina in place while the lasered repair is healing, and is slowly absorbed over the next few weeks.

The most wonderful part about this surgery was that my sight in that eye was saved. I am so thankful to live in a time when this problem can be repaired.

A close second in the "wonderful" category, though, was that the surgeon was able to remove my biggest floaters along with the bit of fluid he took from my eye. For several years I had been straining to see through or around a couple of large, translucent floaters. Unlike dark floaters, translucent ones don't settle. They caused quite a bit of eye strain and limited the number of hours I could work at my office job. It was a huge relief to be rid of them.

Unfortunately, the surgery itself caused a few new floaters, but they are the dark ones and most of the time they are well behaved and out of sight. Every now and then, though, something I do will stir them up. And that is the situation this weekend. I'm not sure what I did, so I can't even avoid doing it in future. But they got stirred up quite nicely.

So I am unsettled and worried. I try to see the floaters as they whiz around in my field of vision, to decide if there are any new ones in there. New floaters could mean trouble - further deterioration within the eye. I have a mental catalogue of the spots in that eye: large triangular black chunk; medium round black outline with clear middle; smallish black speck; medium irregular black piece with straggly edges. But there are a couple little ones I can't remember seeing before.  Or were they there and I only remember the large ones?

I'm in no hurry to have eye surgery again, although I would not hesitate if it became necessary. I just don't like the uncertainty hanging over me.

This is the kind of thing I'd miss seeing if I lost my vision. Don't worry, I don't dwell on it. But this seemed as good a time as any to post this photo. Getting these colours true in a photo made me pretty happy.

P. S. The weirdest thing about that gas bubble was that it caused upside down vision in the operated eye. I'm not science-y but I think it's the same principle as looking at yourself in a spoon. Convex, concave, blah, blah. Anyway, as the bubble re-absorbed and eventually disappeared, normal vision returned.


Friday 22 July 2016

Dear Whoever Sent Me That Email: This Is For You. Especially The Part At The End.

A recent email which somehow landed in my junk inbox, when it was SO clearly not junk, had these encouraging words for me: "All your body and face disadvantages will turn into advantages, jenny_o".

First of all, they knew my name! So it couldn't be junk email, right?

Second, they knew I had all those body and face disadvantages, so they must know me. Only my friends in real life are aware of things like that mole on my back that looks like a baby beetle and the unfortunate fact that I inherited the family nose, so I felt sure that this email must be from a person or persons who really know me.

Third, they were offering to turn those disadvantages into advantages - how could I not love them??

Well, love is one thing, but trust is a whole 'nother horse, so I did not open that email although I was positively itching to do so. I wasn't born yesterday, and come to think of it not for a lot of years before yesterday. However, it was sent by a drugstore, so I almost felt bad for being a tiny bit suspicious.

One can never be too careful on the internets, though, so I googled the name of the drugstore, and ... surprise! ... it seems that the drugstore name is also the name of a different version of that more common drug that is so well known that many people simply call it "the little blue pill."

Now that just made me confused. Not hard to do, mind you. Still. All my body and face disadvantages will turn into advantages?? I'm thinking this particular drug is not something you want to do to - or for - your face.

On the other hand, maybe it would get rid of facial wrinkles by expanding those subcutaneous layers or something. The thing is, I kinda like my laugh lines because they show I enjoy life quite a bit, and the worry lines are there because, despite all the laughing, I've also been worrying about stuff since I was six years old, and they're proof that I started young, if nothing else, and I think I'll just keep them, thanks anyway.

The crease lines on my face when I wake up are another matter. Those are getting darn annoying.

But I'm pretty sure you can't choose which wrinkles to erase and which ones to keep.

So, as much as I am tempted, "XXX Drugstore," I must with heavy heart turn down your intriguing offer. I guess I'll keep all my body and face disadvantages, because I just wouldn't be me without them. But thanks for thinking of me, old pal. Better luck with your other friends, eh?

... NOT. 

This is me, blowing a big ol' insulting raspberry at all spammers. I see now that perhaps I should start brushing my tongue more often. Ah well. Too late for this shot. (Photo: Pixabay  P. S. You would not believe how many funny pictures of donkeys are on the internet for free. P.P.S. I trust you noticed the inherited family nose.)

This was a light-hearted post, written before I knew what happened to Elephant's Child. While the email I got was pretty much just a minor wart on the face of humanity, the one she got was the smallpox version - and it was destructive and expensive. I'll repeat what EC said on her post - be careful out there, people! The spammers are getting craftier every day.

I hope you have a weekend that contributes to your laugh lines only!

Monday 18 July 2016

Tough as Nails Does Not Describe Me; or, Does the Smell of Garlic Hurt Your Head?

As the "baby" of my family of origin, when I became a parent I wasn't all that prepared to handle child-rearing problems. I loved my little ones fiercely and morphed from shy and accommodating to bold and bearish if anything threatened my kids. But love and protection can only get you so far. I often turned to books to help me figure things out.

That is how I found Dr. Elaine Aron's book "The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You" in the 1990's. I was looking for something to help our young daughter cope with her extreme sensitivity to many stimuli. Smells bothered her; food flavours and textures bothered her; fabrics bothered her; noise bothered her. She was a deep thinker and displayed keen empathy. She became unbearably excited before special occasions and "crashed" afterward. She was what might have been called "high strung" a few generations ago.

I could relate because many of the same things bothered me, although not to such an extreme degree.  I always felt that I was simply lacking oomph or courage or toughness that other people seemed to possess. Secretly I labelled myself "fussy". But having a child even more sensitive than me helped me to see that it wasn't a bad thing but just another part of being an individual, and reading that book made me aware that there were many others in the world like us. It also helped me see that my husband and son have quite a few characteristics of the highly sensitive person as well. They tend to verbalize them differently or not at all; whether that's a chromosomal issue, or a gender role issue, or just their personality, I have only recently begun to try to figure out.

Despite starting to realize those things years ago, it has only been the past year that I've fully accepted that part of me and stopped thinking of myself as weak or selfish. That may have something to do with being quite busy all along, first with children, then with my father's significant health issues. Since he passed away, I've had more time to think and - well, more time, period.

Our daughter is a mother herself now. She has found her own ways to cope with the things that bother her. And so have I. Crowds wear me out, and violent movies make me feel bruised at my core - so I avoid them. Clothing that is the least bit constricting, stiff, scratchy, or silky (that last one is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me) drive me to distraction, so I buy carefully. I get my news from readable sources so that I can disengage as needed. I always have a snack and water with me because I melt down if I get at all hungry or thirsty. I avoid bright sunlight and strong smells and take time alone every day to recharge.

Minimizing the stress of everyday living allows me to be as comfortable as possible in what feels to me like an overly stimulating world. And because the small irritations are kept at bay, I'm usually a more pleasant person to be around now -- and, hey, I haven't always been able to say that. I feel very lucky to have an understanding spouse, and fewer responsibilities than in years gone by.

Are you a highly sensitive person, or do you know one? Click here to find out just what that term includes (you don't have to be on the extreme end of the scale to be considered one), and if you wish, you can take a self-test here.I was so happy to accidentally stumble on this author's work again after so many years. Of course, I never thought to Google it (as often happens, I confess), or I would have found her website much sooner.

P. S. I really need to read the book again. Probably I should have done that before writing this post. But I'd have to find it first. That could be a problem. Heh. Something for my To Do list. Which is already very, very long.

How I feel when faced with things that feel "too much".

How I feel when I take care of myself. I'm the one on the right :)

Thanks to Pixabay for the wonderful free photos that express just what I wanted them to. Because I don't have any donkeys to make funny faces at me while I take their pictures.

Friday 15 July 2016


I had a serious post all typed up.  It wasn't about anything in the news but it was a serious topic.

Then it seemed all too insignificant in light of the fresh wave of many sad and bad things in the news the past week.

So, instead, I want to share something that is alive, that is joyous, that is YES ... when so much else seems like no.

I hope you do not find it frivolous but instead find some comfort in the sheer joy of this creature.

(Thank you to Adam Buxton for sharing Rosie on Youtube. Best when viewed with the sound on; I promise there is no mawkish music, just the peace and quiet of a fine day - complete with rustling.)

For those who cannot watch the video, a photo of a wild rose. It's a plant that is both fragile and resilient; the blossom is delicate and short-lived but the shrub is hardy and always survives to bloom another year. A metaphor, yes?

Let's hug our loved ones and find some beauty in the world today to ease our hearts.

See you Monday.

Monday 11 July 2016

Bird Vs. Cat

I'm thinking of starting a new series of blog posts. It will be called "Blurry Shots".

Not really.

But you could be forgiven for thinking that, when you see today's photo, hot on the heels of Friday's blurry deer.

The other day I heard the unmistakable twangy cry of a blue jay near our back door. In fact, it sounded like several blue jays and it sounded like they were right outside the back door. Perhaps about to barge in, they were that close.

With my camera in hand, I peeked out the kitchen window, which overlooks our deck, and saw three jays arrayed along the deck - and they were not happy. I knew my best chance for a picture was from the adjoining room, because the deck door was open, and one of the jays was perched on the frame of the swing.

Here's what I saw:

Photo taken through screen door.

And now enlarged a bit:

Ditto, because ... same photo, enlarged.

The wind was blowing this fella's belly fluff in every direction. He didn't care. He was too busy swearing at our cat, who was huddled under a chair, staring out the full-length window next to the door. She was not very impressed with this bird.

On the other hand, I was totally impressed. I think he would've come right in the house to get the cat if the screen hadn't been in the way.

Also, I didn't know blue jays had grey undersides until this close encounter. Thanks, kitty, for making this guy so mad he'd rather keep giving you the stink eye than fly to safety. Aren't you glad you're an indoor cat?

Friday 8 July 2016

Dear Deer: I Saw That Public Display of Affection

Quite awhile ago I promised Elephant's Child that I would try to get some photos of the deer that seem to think they own our yard. This was in response to her wonderful photos of lounging kangaroos and our exchange of comments on that post.  (Want to see some 'roos? Here's a link to some of her recent 'roo pictures: Sunday Selections 279.)

I thought to myself - piece of cake! those deer are ALWAYS around. Even though we live in a densely populated area of town, they - and all their cousins - stroll the streets and make themselves comfy in our yards. Get a couple of pictures? No problem-o.

But what I was forgetting was that deer are primarily nocturnal. And my camera is a point-and-shoot beginner model.

BIG problem-o.

Mind you, the deer do come around at twilight sometimes. And just yesterday my husband saw them in our back yard in broad daylight. Being somewhat of a nocturnal person myself, though, I was not awake at the time, and I missed my chance.

But the way I finally got a photo - not a great one, but interesting in its own right - was by forgetting to turn off the deck lights one night last week. It's been hot here, and when I went upstairs to open the windows, I saw that there were two deer right beside our deck, and they were quite visible in the floodlight.

You can bet I ran downstairs, grabbed my camera, and ran back upstairs again.

And then had to catch my breath, because the camera kept giving me that little shaky-hand icon.

By the time I had taken a couple of practice shots, the deer had decided to groom each others' necks. Unfortunately, they had also moved from bright light to half-shadow.

Like I said, not a good photo from a technical standpoint, but one I suspect I'll never have the chance to take again.

The deer are not striped - the dark vertical bands are the shadows cast by the deck railing.

And I'll keep trying for a daytime shot, Elephant's Child! One of these days ...

Monday 4 July 2016

Sunrise in Five Frames

I am a night owl, so very often I don't see the sun rise. Sometimes I do, though. And it's worth it.

The progression of a sunrise last week:

The colours changed so fast - it was lovely to watch, and I'm glad I had my camera handy.

P. S. Happy Fourth of July to my American friends! May there be something yummy involved :)

Friday 1 July 2016

O Canada ... You Are An Awesome Place To Live


July 1 is a big holiday in Canada. It's Canada Day, the day we celebrate the birthday of our country, and this year Canada is 149 years old. Next year is probably going to involve a lot more celebrating than usual, because it'll be the 150th. Nevertheless, we will still celebrate tomorrow no matter what the number is.

Some of us will celebrate by watching a small-town parade, some will get to watch fireworks, some will go to the beach, some will eat strawberry shortcake and some will just sit and veg out because they've been working hard for the past four months and they're TIRED. Ahem.

We might do the shortcake thing, too. If I'm not too tired to make the shortcake, hull, wash and mash the strawberries, and whip the cream. Strange ... when it comes to strawberry shortcake, I feel a little more energetic.

Thank you Pixabay for this incredibly delicious picture. My energy levels just went up another notch. This looks pretty much like the ones I make, except I put only one dollop of whipped cream on it. That might have to change after seeing this.

Anyway, for the most part we are extremely fortunate here in our big beautiful country. We are so lucky that we very often forget how lucky we are and start arguing over things like changing the words in our national anthem from “all thy sons command” to “all of us command.” Yes, we are extraordinarily lucky that this is one of the biggest things we can find to fight about.

And by "we" I mean our politicians, mostly.

Anyway, for those of you who can't - or don't want to - play the next two videos, you can skip right to the bottom photo now.

The first video is of our Canadian flag, also called the Maple Leaf, because ... it's a maple leaf. I happen to like our flag a lot. It's bright and cheerful and while it's terribly hard to draw the maple leaf in school when you are eight years old (oh, my kingdom for a scanner so I could show you!), it's a pretty cool flag. And I must say, the wind was cooperating really well the day I filmed this:

And here is another kind of maple leaf with several of its friends, waving in the wind:

Friendly little things, eh? (And while we do not say "oot and aboot", a good lot of us do say "eh".)

Finally, here is a still-life version of the Maple Leaf, taken before the leaves came out. The wind was behaving well that day also. It almost looks like an invisible thread is holding the flag out at the corner, doesn't it?

For this one, you will have to use your imagination to get waved at. I think you all have pretty sturdy imaginations, so that shouldn't be a problem.

If you'd like, leave a comment telling me about your country's special day and/or flag, and a typical activity you do, or a treat you have, to celebrate.

Have a good weekend, everyone.