Monday, February 26, 2024

Sunday


The early bird gets the sunrise as the days grow longer. The colors are so amazing in the sky as they change so quickly.


In truth, this past week has felt more like mid March or the beginning of April than the last week of February. A year ago we were recovering from a major ice/snowstorm. This year? It is warm and pleasant.
In the morning I need coveralls to do chores. By midday, I can work outside in a sweatshirt.

I started this job:

Believe me, it will be a long long job to do. But since I can't plant a garden yet, raking, picking up sticks and stones will be a good job for me. It is good mindless work that can be done while listening to the birds and the forest noises.

I took a couple of breaks to go out and search for color in the woods. It is hard this time of the year as everything seems to be dull and lifeless.
Except when you look for Lichen and mosses. Then things get colorful.

During our morning walk Charlie and I found snow and ice on the mosses!



...and by a little after lunch time....




The Lichen was quite beautiful. But one has to pick up sticks or crouch down on a look to find the colors.

On a stick:



Lichen and moss on a log. It was so colorful!


Late Sunday afternoon, I took time to just sit on the porch with Charlie and enjoy the warm sunshine.

Charlie enjoyed it immensely.




It seems as though the ducks are starting to try and behave themselves.

Hmmm. There is one in every crowd.




Sunday, February 25, 2024

Coasting

Sometimes our lives take us on journeys that are unexpected.

You can feel as if you are afloat in an unknown territory.



You can face unexpected twists and turns and at some point have to stop and make a decision as to whether or not you move forward despite the odds.



oh brother I have tried
like a drop inside an ocean
but there's some comma on my light

there's a place where i am going

it's out of my control
so i'm going to coast
for a little while

[lyrics by Moontricks]

10 seconds



Sometimes you need to get your Ducks in a Row and they just don't want to cooperate.

Little Rogue Duckies!




Keep on keeping on and just coast along.














Thursday, February 22, 2024

Time out

Tuesday morning started off with a Colorful Bang...




Things are going along. Everyone gets into a funk every once in a while.

Life happens. I know that.

I've had my head down and have been grinding through. 

I had an opportunity to get out and take a nice long hike with Charlie.


This is how we tackle trails. 10 seconds long....



But we stop a LOT also. This is not a marathon, it is a mind cleansing experience.


Below are cool Roots that cling to the edge of a small bluff.


I thought of Aurora when I saw this tree...


Of course I love to make fun of the trail signs along here. I don't know if you can see it, but there are two little figures on the tree. A horse and rider and then a bicycle. This is a multi use trail.
My interpretation for these upside down signs are that a horse got spooked by a bike and they both ended up in a crash.



Well, I do know that my mules are very suspicious of bicycles but baby strollers are much more menacing. 😁

I digress.

I wanted to see the Ice Cave on Ice Cave Trail. Normally, this ice 'cave' is pretty spectacular with a normal winter.

I was pleased to see that with all the freezing and thawing we'd had, that it did have a bit of ice. But not enough to climb down into it and explore.


For fun, I used my app to see how this lollipop loop actually is from where I parked the car. I picked this particular trail because it is up and down and all around. Plus it is demanding enough that it keeps the mind on the footing and not on the Mind Gibberish.

I left early in the morning so that I could still walk while the trail was still solid and slightly frozen. I didn't want to walk in muck and mud.


I was rather surprised at how dry the trails were. Obviously, we really do need rain.

I brought along my Infrared camera and stopped for several shots. IR is not that great in the winter time, but I still thought I might get something interesting.

Infrared works best with leaves, sky, clouds, and water. Those elements are generally the best ones to photograph with on a bright sunny day.

I found two spots that fit the bill. The first shot is of a long trail along the river bottom with a frozen puddle in the middle of the trail and pines in the distance.


This was shot at bridge 15 towards the pines on the bluff where I love to go and watch the river go by me 80 feet below.

If the stars, skies, times, and everything else lines up. I'm going to visit those bluffs this weekend.




The weather today is insane. I cannot recall a February where the temps reached 60!

I'm heading outside!









Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Ducks


My hikes last week? Abysmal. 

I had absolutely no motivation at all. I didn't even want to cook meals [that's not new though, I hate cooking]. 

I spent the week seriously having doubts about everything in Life. I like to have my Ducks in a row and it seemed like someone went into the duck pond and tossed all of my duckies around and scattered them.

So, I went to the gym and did Mobility Class and then a one on one work out which was intense and exactly what I needed. When I get down and out or anxious about my Ducks [metaphorically speaking], I need to expend great amounts of energy to bring out the endorphins and shut down the Mental Gibberish.

Good friends of mine from a distance have talked with me via email too and I am thankful for their support and lending an ear --- or well, reading. Sometimes a worry isn't such a worry if you share and just get some input. However, we stoic older Midwesterners were taught that you don't share worry or burden others. 
[And then talking with a counselor, that is exactly what she suggests! In tough times, lean on your circle of supporting friends. Who'd a THUNK of that?😛]

Truth is, we are never fully prepared for things that are tossed our way are we? We think we are. Yet, thankfully, I have an incredible son who can speak calming and sensible words to me and show me how to start sorting The Ducks.
























 

Friday, February 16, 2024

It's a wild wild life....

Here are some trail cam shots from a new Trail Cam I got called Garden Pro. I'm not endorsing them one way or the other, but compared to my old camera, they sure have improved.


Coyotes



The bucks have not started shedding their antlers, but it looks like there might be some really nice ones out there to pick up once they do. This guy looks like he is scenting a deer. But I have no idea....


This spot is like a highway for the does this year. They come and go in groups up to 8 sometimes. They cross back and forth multiple times a day.


Then there is always one that loves to stand in front of the camera and smell it. Or do they know they are doing the forest version of a selfie???


We always get a big kick out of these type of shots.


I can't be positive, but I think this was the Big Trophy Buck that all the hunters were asking me about this fall and then again during gun season.




I think this is the same fella I 'shot' in November in the meadow just east of where he is standing in this photo. If it is the same fella, I'm pretty tickled that no one nabbed him during the hunting seasons.

He is absolutely regal.


This shot below is him chasing some girls as it was breeding season. 



Many other photos we saw from the trail cam included hundreds of photos of does and young deer walking by along with nightly walks by raccoon who travel the same trails as the deer and coyotes.

We don't feed any of the wild animals as it is illegal in our county plus they are surrounded by abundant sources of food which include hundreds of acres of corn fields and soy bean fields to glean off from.

This photo is from this summer. I took it while taking an evening walk. 
I think we have plenty of deer around here!

It has been a mild winter so I think their numbers will increase.


Oh! One more Wild Life shot!

Eleanor! She is an outdoor cat who belongs to our neighbor. She has been spayed and has all of her shots.
She divides her time by hunting at my place and at the neighbor's place. He feeds her inside his workshop.

She likes to sit in the shed and observe me doing chores on most afternoons. She is not a friendly cat as in ... -- don't come near me--. I don't try to pet her, but I do talk to her every time we meet.





Sunday, February 11, 2024

Well, that was interesting...

 



I had an 'interesting' week. Most of the week felt like it was a half a bubble off. Ever have one of those weeks?

Some good things happened and so did some very bizarre things. 

We all understand about CareGiver Stress, well, perhaps everyone doesn't. However last week during a meeting with our CareGiver social worker via the VA's version of Zoom, the social worker referred me to a counselor to help deal with some of the things I've been dealing with this winter.

The VA now offers counseling to CareGivers one on one in their own homes. Before this, I would have to seek out counseling in my home town. There is the stigma of admitting that you have stress while caring for someone along with trying to find one place that would actually take the insurance offered by Medicare and ChampVA is an incredible challenge in itself.

I said YES, please! This winter has been difficult.


I try not to share my 'difficulties' here. So I really won't go into it. However I recognize the symptoms of it all. I want to be Snarky every time I'm asked to help him, is not a good feeling. I get riled at the least little thing and want to yell and immediately feel guilty because it really is NOT his fault!

Wednesday was awesome. I went with a friend on a nice easy hike along the paved section of old hwy 131 on the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.
 


I was surprised that the ponds were still frozen. We just walked and she talked, I listened. Her mom is in Hospice and has been for 2 months now. It weighs on my friend's mind. She is trying to balance her feelings about quality of life and also has a new grand child which makes her full of joy. Balancing Joy and Sadness is hard.

Part of the way through the hike I started to have dark brown floaters in my one eye. The 'good' eye. I've had this before in 2021 in the opposite eye. It is freaky. Think about dropping food coloring into a glass and watching the dye float about in the water. Then think about that being what you see in your vision. 

When I looked at the sky around me, I could clearly see the floaters and knew it was from a Vitreous Hemorrhage. That sounds terrifying. However, I was told that sometimes the Vitreous has a little pull on it in older eyes and there is a tiny bleed. The eye doctor told me NOT to go to the ER, but to call they eye clinic and get in. ER's don't call in eye doctors or have the equipment to look into your retina.

Thankfully, I did get an appointment for the next morning.

I had the exam and this eye doctor was hilarious. He looked deep into the eye to check to see if I had a tear in my retina or a detachment. 

His commentary was hilarious. "Ohhhhh Ahhhh Nice! You did a great job! This tiny tear is in the Best Spot! Right next to the Optic Nerve! I think we need to take a picture of that so you can see it!"

What causes it? It can be age. It can be because I've had eye surgeries before, it can be possible that I sneezed and did it...or it just happened on its own. 

What does it look like? I tried looking all over the internet and no good examples came up. So I went into a program and created what I see right now. Speckles and floaters that never stay still and sometimes interfere with what I am trying to read. They wiggle around every single time you look at something.


This is perhaps like just a few molecules of seepage from the little tiny blood vessel in my eye. The molecules will reabsorb like they did in 2021. It takes time but is very annoying.

The big scientific words for what happened sound very scary: Posterior Vitreous Detachment. I will be seen in two weeks to have another look at it to see if it is healing up.

So this week, photography hasn't really been much fun nor has reading. However, I've gone about my daily business and am continuing to keep busy.

Typing this was a bit of a challenge, but now I am used to patterns floating through my vision. My brain says it is no big deal and so I am treating it that way.

Walking in the forest is nice because of all the brown colors the floaters are not bothersome and I can ignore them.


Onward to new adventures despite the coffee thingies in my vision!



Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Chill out

 


Charlie and I took a very different walk yesterday. We went to the ridge and decided to hike the cropland hayfields. This way we avoided slogging through mud. We could have walked along the gravel road but one neighbor choses not to watch their dog.

This dog has attacked but has not yet hurt Charlie and I just don't want to risk it. The last time this dog attempted to get at Charlie, I held him and sprayed her with Pepper spray. She got a snootful and wouldn't leave us alone....
Anyway...

We walked this high ridge and kept to the fields. It was much more interesting for Charlie because of all the critter tracks. So many good smells for a dog.

I left my camera at home and just walked with my cell phone, and was a bit sorry that I did not bring my camera with a long lens. We reached the road across the ridge and stopped to admire the fields for a bit. I heard a chirp that I haven't heard all winter.

And there they were! Bluebirds! [sorry the picture isn't very good!]


We headed back along the fields and came to a patch of trees in the middle of this cropland. It is in a slight dip where water runs. I got to the deer trail and walked in among the trees. I looked back and Charlie was sitting just outside of the trees. He refused to follow me.


More than likely it would have been the fresh scent of a coyote that lingered on the trail that deterred him.

So we detoured and walked up one of the waterways and decided to just sit down and enjoy the warm afternoon sun.


From here we could see the intersection [if you want to call it that] to our dead end road and the other gravel road that crossed the ridge. 

When we got home the two of us sat on the porch bench and listened to the world around us. 



The antique wash table got the addition of some real flowers to mix in with the Lego Wildflower Bouquet.
I'm enjoying the bright colors!