Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Stall and This Old House

The stall is done! Finished!

Last night I put Fred and Mica [the elderly mules] in the stall for the first time. I was surprised that there seemed to be no fuss. They got to the business of eating. I'd given them plenty of hay and they each had a bit of sweet feed.
Our weather last night was to turn cold and snow/rain mix. This morning we do have snow on the ground.

In a little bit, as soon as it is light out, I'll give them their 'breakfast' and then turn them outside when I get back from CrossFit.

So there it is, not a masterpiece, but it is done. I put the plywood on the front and one side so that Fred will not put his head through the rails and try to lift them! Yes, they are heavy and anchored down, but Fred is Fred.
However, it seems he is content to be inside as long as he has company.

I have Amanda and Daryl to thank for finishing this up with me. The panels are heavy an awkward to move, but two people did it easily.
I learned how to use Rich's cordless drill and made holes in the plywood and zip tied them in.
I can add another skill to things I've learned this year!

On Sunday morning, I took my friends someplace different since the sunrise was just rather mundane.
I took them to the Abandoned House.

This looks like a winter shot but it isn't. It was taken in Infrared.

It was cold and frosty, however, here it is in living color with my friends acting as if they just found their dream house.

We walked around the house and peeked in the windows. The wrap around porch was long gone. In fact the first time I'd ever seen this house was at night in 1996 while Rich and I were coon hunting with our hounds. The dogs treed next to the house and we had to walk back to it. I have always wanted to come back and take a look inside since then.

At one time, I think it was a pretty grand old house.


Added note.
When I got out to the shed Fred decided he'd had enough of the stall and proceeded to literally try and tear things down.
On to plan B.

Friday, October 25, 2019

That slippage Dementia thing....

I'm learning a lot these days about the word Dementia.

Well you know I call it 'Slippage', it is a kinder word. I wish the doctors would just call it something nicer like what it is.

Brain Disease. Perhaps instead of Dementia or Alzhiemers, or Vascular Dementia, Lewey could be called simply Brain Malfunction. Okay not that think of how the doctors like to use initials. BM sure wouldn't work well for Brain Malfunction.

Some days the neurons and memory pathways work perfectly for my MIL. She has very bright days which are less than her dim days. Those days she tells me of things that make no real sense to me, but make perfect sense to her.
She tells me that they moved her room again. I ask if it is 210 and she says yes of course it is. But they move it often, her name and number stay the same but sometimes they put it in different places.

I think about it later and this is a perfect explanation. It makes sense. If she is having trouble finding her way back to her room, it must have been moved. In her mind that is the only logical reason.
I'm beginning to understand how her mind will grasp something and she makes sense out of it with this type of reasoning. I applaud her line of thinking, it is imaginative.
It shows that she still is thinking and that is a good thing.

So the next time she told me that, instead of correcting her we went on an adventure to go find her room. We were both pleased as punch to find it and I congratulate her on being so clever.

"Not clever," she laughs. I leave her for the afternoon and go back home. In a way it feels hard to leave her sitting in her room like that. But now I know she will get her 'lift' chair from her apartment in her room. This should make her daytime naps easier and more comfortable than sitting in her wheelchair nodding off.

Dementia tests. There are a variety of them and though I understand the need for them to mark a baseline and watch the 'progression' of the slippage, I disagree with people visiting and trying to tell MIL to remember this or that. Endless questions instead of casual conversations.
Leave the prognosis to the doctors, but be there with your parent or spouse.

Yesterday Rich had a physical.
The nurse gave him a short 'dementia' memory test. A SLUMS test. He actually did very well and if the nurse took into account that he has aphasia, she would have scored it higher. I noted that to her... but... oh well.

His COPD is a bit worse, but I knew that because he has been avoiding going to Pulmonary Therapy. He figures that his summer work is done and he doesn't need to do more? Not sure.
Each time we get ready to go to Fresh Start he finds a reason he can't go.
"My tummy hurts"
"I'm too tired"
"I feel dizzy"

His room 02 sats are falling so I tried to show him that IF he doesn't work at it, he will get connected to the dreaded cord all the time again.
This resistance is understandable and frustrating at the same time.

I have been engaging him in opinions. "Show me how to put this cordless drill together!" He does. "If I build the stall and put some plywood in the spots where Fred would put his head through the rails would that help?"
We discuss zip ties and plywood.
A short but satisfying talk in which he tells me that I had a good idea.

He still there but fades most of the day into watching the trees and the mules out in the pasture or a TV show.
No longer is the boss guy around. The guy who would shudder to know his wife can drive his skid steer and drill a hole in plywood...or even rebuild a stall.

His is not so much 'slippage'. His memory is spotty about things from a year ago. But his issue is apathy. Stroke related apathy.
He listens to the doctors and nods, he listens to me and agrees to 'try' to do more.

And then.
He returns to watching out the window or getting tired. Self motivation seems to have disappeared completely.

Winter is coming and I feel like it could be a long one.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Big Shed


This is the area that needed to be cleared out.

There used to be an indoor stall here but at some point Rich decided that this would be where he stacked lumber and hay. He took 4X4's and made a floor for the hay and stacked sheets of plywood against the wall. At some point, he decided to stack the pieces of a large cabinet he purchased at some auction for future use.
It has resided there for about 9 years.
The cabinet will never be built so it had to go too.

Close up of the stack of metal...

I purchased some masks to wear over my face as there was a lot of hay chaff and bird poo, mouse poo, and dust over everything.

The plywood was moved just to the left. I started to pull up the boards that Rich had screwed together. I wished he had used nails as it would have made the job easier to take it all apart.

No matter. He'd coached me well over the years on how to take 'stuff' apart.

With some elbow grease and a lot of pulling and pounding, I got the boards all apart.

The stall will be 12' by 16'. The rings are still in the supports for attaching the 12 foot panels.

Here is what it looked like in 2008 when Sunshine had to be placed on stall rest for a collateral knee ligament injury.

This 'stall' will house the elder mules together with plenty of room for them to bicker.
Neither mule will tolerate being in a shed/barn alone. So I am banking on the fact that they will keep each other company on those horrible days we get.

It rained and blew all of yesterday, but I got the rest of the metal pieces loaded into the skid steer bucket and started to drag the pieces that didn't fit to the 'metal' pile where it can sit until we have an auction.

This weekend I should have help to set up the panels and secure them. I will be prepared to keep Fred [Circa 30 something] and Mica [25 yrs old] on their special feed and help them maintain weight without fighting the elements.

Well, that is my best laid plans so far.
I'll be working on the rest of the shed all winter. Organizing the thousands of piles of bolts and other items. I need to make room also to put the riding mower and the 4 wheeler inside where I can use the trickle charger on their batteries once a month.

Lots of work to do!


This little pot below was in a box with some chicken figurines, salt and pepper shakers, and a 'Teapot' as the guy said.
It is not a teapot but a Drip-O-Lator Coffee Pot made around the 1920-1930's. There would have been a drip thing that goes on between the lid and the pot itself.
Wish I would have taken an interest in Antique stuff when MIL was doing these things. 
It is fun to figure out what some of this is.

Trinket Box. I was surprised to find this in the box too. It is cute as all get out. Tiny as can be too. 
It could hold about two wedding rings inside of it.

The Rooster and Hen figurines is what I wanted. Heck I tried to get my MIL for years to sell or gift these figures to me. She always said no, but never in a mean way. I just loved them ever since I first saw them.
I've looked these up and now I understand why she kept them. They do have a nice value to them. I wasn't looking for the value, I just loved the chickens!

The tiny chicken salt and pepper shakers!
The checker board behind them was another item I purchased. Just as a reminder of all the wonderful times I had at Mom's place and how I've always admired her homes and neat decorations.

This is something I saw when the auctioneer held it up. For some reason, I'd never noticed this before in MIL's collection of neat glass paper weights. She really loved these things and had quite the collection.

This is a St. Clair 'Carnival Glass' paperweight. Pretty unusual.
I didn't intend on getting any paper weights, but this was so different than any I'd seen, I purchased it.
When I got home I had to look up what 'Carnival Glass' was and what and who St. Clair was.
It is pretty and odd.
It suits me fine.

Copper Ash/Coal Scuttle.
I love the lions face on the handles.

My mother in law had this in her apartment and over many years I recall helping her decorate her place with her silk flower arrangements in all of these cool and odd containers. To tell you the truth I thought it was pretty and kind of odd at the same time. Hey, I am odd too. When I bought this at the auction I just did because it was neat.
Then I thought ... Hey I can put my stick Christmas Tree in this! Many folks use them as an umbrella stand. I have an umbrella, it is in my Subaru.

The one item I'd gone for was a sort of ... chicken nesting box/turned coffee table... primitive sort of piece. I'll have to get a good photo of it and show it off.

Years ago I admired this too. My father in law said he'd make one for me and my oldest son. We raised chickens a long time ago and this item was just so neat. It served as a small coffee table/display table in my MIL's house and in her apartment.
Lonnie had cut most of the pieces out for the duplicate table but passed away before the project ever took off.

And how is my MIL doing? Pretty well. She got to see her grand daughter this weekend and the great grand children. I was in on Monday to visit with her and she was tired and half in and out of her bed. I had a nurse help me get her situated and she asked me why I was there. I told her it was lunch time. She told me it was night time.
I let her sleep. Indeed the day was gloomy and overcast.

Her slippage changes often. Yesterday she brightly recalled her apartment when last week she didn't recall it at all. That is the confusing part of dementia/slippage for those of us who see it daily. One day is bright and clear, the next is something of a fog when there are gaps. And memories don't always fit together, but are jumbled in a different order.

However I am quite grateful for the figurines and the little treasures. I know the money from the auction goes towards paying for her care and I get to enjoy the items I so loved.

It is a sad win/win situation and a bit bittersweet in a way.

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Wee Break

Charlie and I did end up going for an afternoon hike. A very long one. I left my cell phone at home and packed some snacks for the two of us.
Dog treats and granola bars along with water of course.

The auction for my MIL's collectables and apartment 'stuff' was going to be held on Saturday and I'd promised a friend I'd go with her.

I really enjoyed the time just wandering without looking at a clock. The sunlight came through the thinning leaves of gold on the trail that lead to the back valley.
I didn't feel compelled to try to photograph the scene as I knew I'd never capture the smells and the golden light properly. I just wanted to wander with Charlie and enjoy our time away from phones, doctors, emails, and appointment reminders.

I didn't get to do my CrossFit intramural workout scheduled and I felt badly about that, so I decided to put that out of my mind also.

When Charlie and I got into the back valley, we spent a lot of time watching small trout swim in a rocky pool. I got out the infrared camera and took some photos.

Both of us decided not to follow the creek downstream as the water was too deep in spots for me to cross without getting soaked. I would need my knee high boots for that.
Charlie wasn't really thrilled about swimming across either.
We headed back up to the ridge and found that the sky was amazing. The clouds were amazing.

There is tiny Charlie looking up at the 'world'. To be so small yet so brave. He is a wonder.

So our ridge walk around the corn field did not disappoint us at all.

Funny thing happened on the way up the trail. I stopped and gave Charlie a treat and then had a granola bar while I re-arranged my back pack. I glanced to my right and stared into a low slung trail camera. I took off my hat and waved before shouldering the back pack and heading up to the ridge. That was the second camera I'd seen. This is my absent neighbor's land and he does come once a year to hunt on it. I've got permission to wander to my heart's delight on the land, but won't step foot on it during the 9 day deer/gun season. That is when the land is overrun by insanity.

Most of the year, I have the 'land' to myself and the critters. In the spring the 4 wheeler guys are around every weekend making a racket, but I just enjoy the place during the week days when they aren't around.

Someone had mowed around the fields and set up cameras. I just wave if I see one and continue on my hikes. The cameras will disappear by the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I had a notion of dressing up in a Halloween Costume and dancing near the cameras.

We made our way back home slowly. I was in no hurry. I longed for those days that I could stay out on the ridge until the sun set.

I knew I should not have gone off and hiked when I had so much to still do in the shed, but I figured I needed a break from that too.

Saturday promised rain all day. Sunday was supposed to be nice, the rest of the week? Cold and rain.
All good days to work in the big shed.

Friday, October 18, 2019


Sometimes things just don't go as planned.

I had a feeling that yesterday was going to be one of those days. Of course I've been spending my time running Rich to appointments, visiting my MIL, and working in the shed.

I've gotten pretty far in doing what I have wanted to do. I have a huge pile of broken boxes and old shopping newspapers piled in a corner to sort through. Most of it will have to be added to the brush pile as it is too busted up and dirty to be added to recycling.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and got the skid steer. I'll be taking the metal tracks off from it as soon as I can get a 'date' with my neighbor to do it. It will make using the skid steer easier and the tracks won't tear huge chunks out of the yard everywhere I turn. The tracks were for when Rich took large bales in through the soupy pastures. Since I have no need to drive through mud and muck, I have no need for the tracks. They hamper turning in tight places.

That said. I have found the confidence somewhere to be able to back this monstrous machine into the shed. I've always been afraid to do it. I figured I just had to try and see what happened. With no one to spot me. I backed it down the narrow corridor of 'stuff' to where I could fill it with old hay that was piled on the floor.

I'm standing and taking the photo from about 20 feet inside the large door. Everything to my right is not being re-organized much. Everything on the left to the 'dead' tractor is being re-organized and cleaned up.
I was able to fill the bucket with nasty old dusty hay and hay chafe. Yes, I wore a mask.

I then drove the skid steer between the buildings and dumped it in an area where no animals will eat off from it.

I backed that sucker back in and filled it with metal chunks of a cabinet that Rich was 'going' to put together some day. I have no idea where it would've fit, but it isn't for me to know what was on his mind. All I know is that he agreed to let me take it out of there and stack it on that flat bed trailer he bought years ago and has decorated the side yard for a long time.
I know eventually I'll sell all the scrap metal or as I said, it will go in an auction.

It was noon, so I quit. I wanted to go hiking at Wild Cat, but Rich wanted me to stick around while he napped. His stomach had been bothering him and I am pretty sure it is the change in meds.

So I decided to go retrieve my SD card from my trail camera.

I've been watching this doe and her yearlings for a fact I was able to take a few shots of them yesterday while I was in the meadow.

Neither one of them were very afraid of me.
I then spent a while just watching the squirrels run around in the trees and the chipmunks scold each other.

I took the time to sit quietly and just enjoy the fall colors and the light falling through the golden leaves.
What I really wanted was a day to myself.

A day to hike and not worry about time or meals or tummies...

I need an unplanned day. I don't think I see one on my schedule for a few days ... unless I can escape for a while this afternoon.

I can get cranky and short tempered. Yep. I can.
I miss those
where I can wander and not have to carry all
the responsibilities
on my

Nature calls.

...and I want to answer....

Edit: More unplanned. Heading to the ER with hubby today instead of anything else.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Well a few hours at a time does wonders. This is not an All Day type of job you can do.

When I run into a road block of where to put things or what to do with 'stuff',  I have to walk away and take a break.

Three days ago this little part of the shed just inside the doorway was filled with scrap metal and other chunks of wood and things stacked so deep that I couldn't get to what was hanging on hooks. It slowly accumulated over the years as I found parts of projects and whatnot that got tossed there.

Now? I can see the wall! I even moved the sweet feed tub up to the door so I don't have to walk to the other end of the shed for it.

The little blue tub has some scrap in it that I intend on tossing in the Subaru and taking to the dump.

This spot below is where the stalls used to be.

 Same place but a few days later .....
The tractor is still to the right, no way I can move it.
I have to move all the plywood and the boards. We stacked small bales here on top of wood for a few years. The bolts are still in the wall for the stall panels so I intend to put it back in the same place.

This is the pile of metal that is giving me fits...
I'll need the skid steer bucket to move this stuff.
Rich finally conceded that perhaps it should be scrapped.

Well I guess he is right. It has sat there collecting dust for about 8 years.

One more shot of a sort of before ... photo.
Although I've done a lot of work on it already.

If you can see the tires stacked up...I put them there. They are wheels and tires that go to Rich's truck. Well, not sure what to do with them. The other tires are going to be sorted, the good trailer tires will get sold and the old crappy ones will be recycled.

The line is where the stall panel will go. That large window is too heavy for me to move so it can stay there until I have help, but I need to move the wood from where the stall will be to that pallet and up against the side there...
well, that is the plan.

It may change.
I have already made huge progress. I have cleaned out the area where all the halters and ropes were kept. I can reach that stuff now!

So a few hours a day have gotten me far along in the project. I could use some more help I suppose, but it doesn't seem I have any willing volunteers.

I may have visitors the next couple of weekends. Would it be wrong of me to ask for some extra hands?
I know they expect to be taken on hikes, but ...
Well there you go.

So you got photos of the ugly shed. It will get better!

Monday, October 14, 2019

The next project

I should take photos of what I am doing. A before... and some in between shots of progress.

I got tired of the 'waiting' for things to happen. Rich kept saying that he was going to get out to the shed and organize things.
In truth, since his stroke, he hasn't had any interest in going out there except when he was to use the skid steer to plow.

Last year the Pulmonary Emboli set him back again. And now? He hasn't ventured to the big old shed at all. I don't think it is a good place for him now anyway with his lung damage. It is dirty, dusty, bird poop, mouse poop, and ... well you get the point. Dirt and dust have a way of accumulating.

In the shed---- once upon a time--- Rich started to work on an Allis Chalmers tractor. He pulled part of the engine out. And then decided to find a larger one at an auction. He did find one and used it for a long time. Until he decided he wanted a skid steer. So he got a tiny one from another fellow that lasted for about 8 hrs before it broke down. He started to take that apart until he decided it was too hard to fix.

Now we have a pretty nice skid steer. It can do the jobs of either old tractor and the tiny skid steer. One tractor and one skid steer have become fixtures in the shed. Along with a Toyota pickup he purchased for hunting. It needed a master cylinder. It still needs that but hasn't run since he parked it there.

Indeed. We can't move that! The bed of that truck is where fencing supplies got stacked.
There are broken down boxes of all sorts of huge bolts pails of nails, light fixtures, metal chunks of 'stuff' plastic pvc pipes and a bit of this ... and that scattered everywhere.

I want to put a stall back in the shed for the elder mules this winter. I was pretty amazed how organizing 'stuff' can open up space. I decided to go on a hunt and gather long pieces of metal...I've been moving all of it to one part of the shed. Aluminum in one section and other metals in another.
Eventually I just stacked and decided not to separate things. I just wanted to move the stuff.

I collected all the shovels and put them in a huge plastic barrel. I have more shovels than I can ever use!

Before this year, the 'stuff' in the shed was off limits to me. It was Rich's personal man space. Now I have told him what I was doing and he just looks at me.

The guy I used to know would have had a cow if I organized HIS stuff. This guy seems vaguely aware that I am doing something. He has asked me not to throw things out.

Well, the scraps of metal will get loaded and taken away.
As will the old tires.
But my neighbor and I had a discussion about the 'stuff'. He said he'd been at auctions where ... he waves at the stack of metal is leaning, the wood that is leaning against another wall, and the buckets of bolts....along with rolls of barbed wire....
"People go nuts for this stuff! Sell it at auction!"

He has a point. I've seen used T posts sell for more than what a person can buy them new.

I am wearing a dust mask. When I peel back an old tarp to reveal a prize underneath it...I am amazed and the air is turned into a cloud of nasty un-breathable dust.
I knew my husband collected things he purchased at auctions and I always cringed when he came home and unloaded his precious cargo into the shed.
It has been an ongoing fight since he started to fill the shed after filling the small shed and the garage. I called it crap, he called it useful stuff. And once in a while he'd prove it to me too.
Something would need fixing and he'd disappear into one of the buildings and come out with the parts that would were needed. Or he'd grab some metal and cut and weld it, fabricating a custom hay fork for the skid steer, or modifying a plow.

The garage was crushed by falling trees 6 years ago. That is a project that will have to be hired out. It too is on my list.

The shed was supposed to be an indoor riding arena for me. That really never happened.

Maybe one day yet? Well. After an auction, that is. Lots of treasures are in that shed!

I am very happy though that the other end of the shed has plenty of open space for our winter hay.

I guess I need to take some photos of the place. Be prepared, it is ugly!

I figured this would be a good October-November project. I'm sort of wondering if I bit off more than I could chew. However, I'd like to create enough space to park the lawn mower, the 4 wheeler and the working skid steer in the shed and have enough room to lead mules in and out and of course pull out my sled of hay and sweet feed each day.

I'm even looking forward to the day when I can park my Subaru and Truck in there. At once time we could park everything inside.

I will be happy with just getting the stall set up before the weather turns really bad.

Dust mask, gloves, and coveralls! Yipee!

Friday, October 11, 2019

One year later...

CrossFit, what has it done for me in one year?

I've tried to be true to workouts, I admit I've missed them for one type of reason or another.

But more often than not I do make them. Well, except for those 3-4 weeks after getting attacked by a fan in the middle of the night...

What has changed?

My attitude towards exercise has changed. At one point I thought I could stay in great shape by hiking hills
and doing physical labor.
I realize that the intense work outs have changed my overall health from good to

Less than two years ago, my doctor had said that my blood pressure was nearing a point of intervention with medication.
My blood pressure is fantastic and the results were pretty evident only after a couple of months of working out.

I always thought I was in pretty good shape. After all, I do hike and walk.
Yesterday I went on a hike to a place I hadn't been to in two years. I walked up a steep hill with my dog in tow and was rather surprised at how easy the hill was. In fact I stopped at the top and looked back.
Really? Was this the same hill that I huffed and puffed up the last time?

What is better?

Two years ago I was diagnosed with some fairly significant arthritis in my hands. The thumb joints were bad enough that physical therapy made a brace for me. I was given mobility exercises.
When I started with CrossFit, I still had issues with my hands.

Oh, CrossFit didn't cure me. However, I have a much better grip now than two years ago. I can actually do a handstand, not for long, but I can do it.

I can now do pull ups with a band from the rig. For real. I can.
My hands have good grip and my shoulders feel unbelievably strong.

My legs have always been strong, at least I thought so.
Squats, Goblet squats, lunges, running, box jumping, ... and jumping rope have all increased my endurance and strength.

My balance has improved. Except when attacked in the middle of the night by a Killer Fan of course.

My mental attitude has improved.

I can do chores at the farm so much easier.
Pounding fence posts.
Moving logs off from fences.
Physical labor is welcomed and not feared.

I have made so many wonderful new friends at CrossFit.
Everyone I have worked out with have always been positive
and supportive.

What is worse?

I don't think this is really 'worse' but I had to add this here.

When I was in college I could run a 5:50 mile.
I ran a 9 minute mile as part of a workout.

Hmmm, wait. When I ran that mile at a college meet I was 19.
The 9 minute mile was when I was 63. Ok, there is a 44 year difference.
Not...worse. But I think I can improve that time.

So there is no 'worse'.

What have I learned?

I have learned to use my core muscles. I never understood how important
this was.

I have actually learned how to do a back squat the right way!
I learned that an EMOM is not 'E-mail your mom', it is
Every Minute on the Minute.

WOD is not a wad of Red Man in a farmer's cheek.
It is Workout of the Day.

A Box is not something from Amazon.
It is a barebones gym.

A cat's name?
No, but I'm still not exactly sure on that. I think it is a mix up of things we do for warm ups. Tabata can be intense.
I still think it would be a cool cat's name.

Sumo Dead Lift?
I like this move.
It is hard to describe but now that I understand it, I call it the 'Tire Lift'.
Excellent method to picking up discarded farm tires and stacking them up.

Goblet Squat?
I like this one too. I pretend that the Kettle Bell is a Goblet of

Double Unders?
I wish I could do these.
The jump rope goes under you twice on one jump.
I just smack myself.
I'll get it one day!

What is next?
The best part of this is I can continue to compete against myself and strive to
make my life better. I've found myself making healthier meals and healthier choices in my life.

Here is to many more years of CrossFit.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

I don't know what for....

It is the nature of the stone to be satisfied.
It is the nature of the water to want to be somewhere else.
~~ Mary Oliver.

It is no secret that I am a fan of Mary Oliver. I have purchased two of her books of poetry. I keep finding parts of her writings that seem to speak to me personally. Of course, I know that she did not write for just me...but to the general public of course.

How do I want to be remembered once I am no longer around? 

I know. Morbid thoughts, right? However I am in a close relationship with two people that are living slow deaths. My MIL has dementia, suspected Alzheimers and my husband was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia from his stroke in 2017. My MIL has marked memory loss and cannot function safely with her health issues safely outside a skilled nursing facility. 
My husband does function fairly well. But eventually he too will fall into 'slippage'. 

How invisible are the elderly and infirm. 
Yet how delightful they still are.

And when is it my turn?
I mean, I can't help but wonder, right?

When it is over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
~~ Mary Oliver

I have a collection of her works handy with sticky notes from something I find each time I read through her different works. I mark the place and leave a short not as to how it feels to me.

So begs the question. Will I make an impression on this world? Or my small surroundings? And does it really matter in the end?

And do I really care? 
I go into 'Nature' at least once a day as I explained recently to an ex co-worker. 
I find a way to make 2 hours available to myself in the afternoon to go for a walk or hike. I do it for the fresh air and because for 2 hours I am not caring for another, or planning...

For two hours I am 'mind free' of distractions and have only perhaps Charlie and Sven to keep track of, where my next step is, rock hopping across the creek
listening to the song of the water over the rocks

Yes. I think that is what Mary Oliver found too. She had poetry to express herself in eloquent words.

I have the camera to express myself.

I think that is good enough.

I leave you with this excerpt from Mary Oliver's poem
1945-1985: Poem for the Anniversary

The way I'd like to go on living in this world
wouldn't hurt anything, I'd just go on
walking uphill and downhill, looking around,
and so what if half the time I don't know
what for--

And I think that sums it up perfectly.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

My favorite County Park

These are two views of the wing dam area that was breached by the storms last year.
I believe there is some debate going on as to whether or not this lake and dam will be fixed again.

I can say that this has probably been one of Vernon County's most popular parks. It has a picnic pavilion and below that it had a refurbished beach that was extremely popular with the residents of the county.

The lake was stocked and the beach and the small fishing docks were almost always in use. Kayaks, canoes, and small fishing craft with electric motors were almost a constant on the lake.

There was an upper trail and lower trail that was closer to the shore for those who wished to fish from the bank. Or in my case, hike along and look for turtles.

Now parts of the trails are missing and washed out. The upper trail is mostly intact but closed in some spots as the steep banks have large cracks in them and are deemed unsafe to hike on.

I wanted to hike from the wing dam to the north side of the Valley. It used to take Morris and I almost 2 hrs to hike the 3 mile trail. This trail was probably the most popular trail all year for runners and for those who had dogs. In the winter parking is at the top of the valley and a person has to hike in from the gate.

These are photos from the trail to the north end of the lake where the south fork of the Kickapoo River comes in.

I'm happy to say that this trail is intact and one can go all the way around to the snowmobile bridge and cross the river.

I turned around here and I will have to return to try the trail from the other side and see how it held up.

Half way around the lake there is a small trail that leads down to the shore. It used to be a popular spot to hike to and fish. Now it leads to the 'new' north end of the lake.
From up above it looks rather intriguing. It is river bottom now and not a lake bottom.

This is the place I really want to explore. There are a series of tiny waterfalls and places where the river rushes over the new valley floor that look very interesting.
However I didn't have time to go down and look around.
I knew that if I did, I'd lose track of time.

I made a mental note to come back soon. Hopefully later this week.

The unexplored trails are calling to me in my favorite park!

Saturday, October 05, 2019


Brain Disease.
Doctors call it Alzheimers or Dementia.
It is a brain disease.

The brain is a functional organ that is the hard drive for our bodies.
When the brain misfires it begins to have Bad Sectors and cannot be rebooted or reset. Portions of memory files are misplaced or become corrupt and lost in in the recycle bin to be lost forever. The brain slips a bit like a vinyl record with a bad scratch. It is not fixable. Files keep slipping away and taking memories with them.
The brain eventually forgets how to tell the rest of the body how to function.  The 'hard drive' begins to have terrible issues as time moves on, more functions are lost.

Well at least this is how I have come to understand Dementia. I decided that since I have to live with that ugly word, I would make it less ugly and call it Brain Slippage.
I've had to explain my MIL's condition more than once to a relative. The best thing I could come up with has been the analogy to the computer's hard drive and system of files.

Once the computer's hard drive is so full of gaps and holes, the rest of the functions no longer work.

I just finished reading The Last Ocean, A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting by Nicci Gerrard.

If you have an aging partner or parent, it is a worthy read. We can never truly understand how memories and the brain function, but the author show us how compassion and caring are so important. How we should not let those with Slippage become unseen and forgotten people.

Are we truly made up of our memories? What happens when those memories are no longer? Are we then something or someone else? What defines us?

These are questions the author asks us.

When I visit with my MIL. I see slippage. What was reality a year ago or even just months ago is no longer. She has lost 10 years of memories which is fine because she is perfectly happy recalling her house on the ridge and not the apartment she moved into.
Will she recall her great grandchildren? Probably as they are something that may be more important in her file system.
She knows me and sometimes I am younger in her mind and sometimes I am in the present.

Does it matter to her? No, she is perfectly happy or so she thinks. She asked me to show her a photo of the building she used to live in. She said someone told her she used to live there. I brought it up on my phone and showed it to her.
She shook her head.

Nope. She couldn't picture it at all. Couldn't recall what the apartment looked like either.
But the house on the ridge, do you recall that?

Oh yes!
I asked if it bothered her at all not recalling the apartment. And she looked me straight in the eye and asked me:

Why would it?

Don't try to convince her that she HAS to remember. That is such a big mistake with those that have slippage. Don't force what they cannot recall.

Trying to make her recall things that have drifted away is only an irritant. It does nothing to make her day happier.
Bingo makes her happy.
Painting class makes her happy.
Meals make her happy.

Visits from loved ones make her whole world. It brightens the day by day routine of eat, sleep, nap, get wheeled somewhere, and look out a window or stare at a wall.

I don't mind it when she falls asleep while I am visiting. I sometimes hold her hand just to be with her. Sometimes I wait for a while and then give her a hug and leave.
She loves hugs.

One day her memory of me may slip into the recycle bin and be lost.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Water and butterflies....

I knew that the next two days were going to be filled with water coming down in copious amounts.
As in 2-4 inches of rain. So I went for an afternoon walk to check on the cool fungi and 'enjoy' a record breaking hot day of 87 degrees with incredible humidity.

 The shot above and below is the same fungi, two days apart!

And then because it rained so much yesterday, I thought I'd have some fun ...
the NOAA said waters, creeks, and streams would be dangerous ....


And by yesterday afternoon after doing a house deep cleaning...I sat on the porch...

....and watched a lone Monarch on my last few zinnias....