Endurance develops strength of character in us~ Romans 5:4 NLT

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

PT & Sherbondy's~

Really feeling deprived of spring - it was a relief when cooler weather & rain moved in.  This storm brought us 1-1/2 inches with many places receiving much more.  The cool down & release from the high humidity was so nice!
Watching it rain~
I've begun Physical Therapy.  I know that sounds strange - some would ask why?  At least until you cover one eye & try to get through a day.  I bump into door jams, don't find things that are right next to me & feel dizzy & off balance when shopping.  I knocked over the cardboard display of DVD's at our local grocery.  Part of the therapy is designed to improve my Vestibulo-ocular Reflex.  This involves eye exercises & balance work on a computerized balance board.  I'm told that if I practice at home & go to therapy twice a week for a month - I will notice an improvement in my navigation skills.  :-)
Marigolds at Sherbondy's
Far from comfortable driving any distance, especially in traffic, Butch takes me & hangs out while I'm there.  After my second visit - he surprised me by stopping a nursery I'd heard a lot about - Sherbondy's.  This visit was especially nice, since I was wearing my new sunglasses!
Creative seating!
  I've worn Maui Jim sunglasses for years now, but it seems that bright light is now harder to deal with both for my good eye & the bad one.  My prescription had changed just a little too.  I called Maui Jim's to see if the frame & lens combination that I wanted was available in prescription.  Julie at Vision Specialists in Council Bluffs worked with me to place the order & could not have been more helpful.  When I called to have my prescription transferred there, it was Julie who noticed that they'd received one for my computer glasses, rather than for distance!  That would have been a costly mistake...  She also suggested the gradient lenses.
Maui Jim had them made & to us - in two-days!  The minute I put them on, I could feel my eye's relax!  The gray of the lens blended into my gray blobs & somehow made them easier to ignore.  At the nursery, I was seeing better than I have, since the eye went bad.
Dish Garden~
We came home with some new grasses to start on the big hill in the backyard & a Mighty Chestnut Daylily.  It's color is the perfect accent to all my marigolds that are starting to bloom!
In our wetland~
I love the Original Orange Daylily's that are growing wild in our wetland area.  The area between the higher portion of our backyard & the creek is somewhat of a wetland.  It's incredibly wet right now, but stays dry most of the time, unless we get the torrential rains that we have been.  Overrun with reed canary grass, about all I can do is keep it mowed down.
Tree down~
When I walked the creek yesterday, I couldn't miss the big tree that had pulled away from the bank & fallen into the creek.  It left a gaping hole in the hillside across from us.  Someone had put large chunks of concrete above where it grew.  I think the pressure of all that weight, contributed to the tree uprooting.  It gives you an idea of the sandy nature of the Loess Hills soil composition.

With July around the corner I have to hope for dryer weather, less humidly & some decent days to ride.

Friday, June 15, 2018

"Little Joe" Flies Away Home~

I have been a nervous wreck!   It's been almost a month, since I discovered that a female Cardinal had decided to build her nest just to the left of our front door.  We have been tip-toeing in & out for weeks now.  Each time we would come or go, she left the nest.
June 6th~  Female on the nest~
 She was such a devoted mother.  It was very hot the day I managed to get her photo.  I'd snuck around from the backyard & used the zoom from out on the lawn.  We bought black sunflower seeds & put them in a clay drainage dish on the rail right under her nest.  Within a day - those seeds were being enjoyed!
June 10th - baby chicks!
About the time I thought that the eggs wouldn't hatch - they did!  It was about 15-days since I'd first discovered them.  Pretty much on schedule.  Everyone told me that the male helps with the feeding of the chicks & sure enough - he appeared out of nowhere!  We watched over the next few days as the parents would fly out, then return with a bug in their beaks & feed the chicks.  We both figured it would be at least a couple weeks - before the youngsters were big enough to try their wings.
The Male comes by~
 A crew of men had been working along the west side of the abandoned house to our east & cut away all the weed trees & shrubs yesterday.  When we got home, there was no activity at the nest.  I started worrying that maybe the parents had lost their home, been scared off & abandon the chicks.  I don't think I slept a wink last night - peeking out the door to see if the mother had returned.  She hadn't...

This morning, as we went to leave, I looked up to see this tiny little chick sitting on the edge of the nest looking right at me!  I couldn't believe it!  At lunch I was telling our friend Joe about the chicks & suddenly the name Little Joe popped into my mind.  The perfect name!
June 15th - Peeping Joe!
We came home after lunch - I couldn't see him on the nest & thought he might be asleep.  I decided to get a fluffy towel & put it under the nest - just in case one of the fledging's took a tumble.  I had the towel & walked past the living room windows on my way to the door - when I noticed this tiny little guy peeking in!
Little Joe is very friendly~
I grabbed the camera, carefully opened the door & walked out to get a photo.  He didn't seem to mind at all.  Butch checked the nest & it was empty!  We had to leave again & I expected that Little Joe would be long gone by the time we'd return...
Today - 4 p.m. still on the porch~
Wrong again!  He was still here!  He flew from the top of the rocker to the rail, back to the deck, then to the wire.  All the time stretching his wings & chirping.  I stayed in the house & watched out the storm door.  Soon, the female arrived.  She tried everything to convivence him that he needed to fly away with her...  No go...  He looked destressed, but he was Not leaving the safety of the porch.  Soon - a bright flash of red appeared.  The male!  He too, tried & tried - no luck...  He flew up into the lowest branch of the Walnut watching & chirping at Little Joe.  Butch finally walked up & shooed him with the brim of his baseball cap.  Little Joe did not care!  

Finally - there was a flutter of tiny wings!  We both thought he'd hit the ground & went around to check.  I didn't see him?  Then - I looked up & there he was! 
Success!  In the Walnut!
Little Joe had made the longest flight of his life & was in the Walnut!  I couldn't believe how tiny & helpless he looked up there!  Within seconds, he was hopping along the big branch, glanced over his shoulder at me & disappeared into the leaves.
Daddy is So Pleased!
Daddy had been sitting up a little higher, but soon came down & followed Little Joe off into the upper reaches of the tree.  I felt So Proud!  Our first bird grandkids have flown the nest & taken flight off into the big, wide, wonderful world!  What amazing parents these two cardinals were.  I'm sure they'd spent most of the afternoon keeping an eye on him.  Never giving up on their last fledging until he'd made that all important first flight & joined the rest of his family!  We feel blessed to have played a small part in the drama of this little families life~

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Pony Express National Museum ~

We'd both been curious to see St. Joseph, MO.  It was within a decent distance for a day trip & we were both ready for some away time.  The drive down was due south on Hwy 29.  We drove along what seemed like miles & miles of timbered hill county on both sides of the road.  I'm an open-space person, but can imagine that the parks must have some outstanding trails.  It was way too hot for that idea though & we wanted to visit the Pony Express Museum!
The front~
Seeing the stable now, it's hard to imagine how badly it fell into disrepair before the reconstruction.   Time & weather take a toll - but during the 1950's a portion of the Pikes Peak Stables was saved from extinction & became the Pony Express Museum.  
Down the side of the Stable~
In 1993, a second renovation took place to restore the structure to it's original size.  The color of the brick is so pretty.  You almost expect the windows to be open & hear the sound of horses munching on their hay.
Left to ruin~
Once inside, the depiction of that first rider heading out was pretty realistic!  What a thrill it would have been to witness the start of that first ride west!
Ready to ride!
Around the corner were the stalls.  Complete with a couple beautiful, very old, life size horse models.  These display horses are from the Wyeth Saddle Company, circa 1880.  Used to display saddles/bridles, both were much narrower in build than most of todays horses.
The stable~
The gray below was saddled & ready~
One of the most interesting features, was the old well.  The hand pump worked & Butch pumped water into the watering trough.  It was found & excavated in 1991 by the St. Joseph Archeological Society.  22-1/2 feet deep - it had been filled with trash & covered up.
Looking down through the floor~
In another area, below the floor boards was a look back into the history of the buildings foundation walls.
Under our feet~
The new Hall of Riders was fascinating!  Stories of the rides & photos of some of the men/boys who rode.
One of the Riders~
The saddle below, belonged to Mr. Stricklen.  Butch noticed that the saddle had a small seat, by today's standards.  Mr. Stricklen was much younger & smaller when he rode, than in the photo above.
Antique Saddle
We spent over two-hours touring, reading & enjoying the exhibits.  By mid-afternoon the temperature had climbed into the high 80's & we were ready to look for a restaurant.
Finding Jakes on a downtown corner, with an outside patio area, we went in!  Local beer, great food, a place we'll return to!
Butch finds a friend :-)
I would love to have the horse above in my yard!  All made from wire - a stunning piece of art!
Similar to the statue we've seen in Julesburg, CO
We toured around town, so many impressive old buildings.  I find it so sad to see them sitting empty & unused.  Some of the historic homes are in amazing condition, others could use a lot of help.  As we visit these mid-west cities & towns - I can't help but wish a Chip & Joanna lived in each...

If you enjoy history, St. Joseph exudes it.  The jumping off place for so many pioneers heading west - it still holds onto the aging glamor of a bygone era~

Friday, June 8, 2018

Swelterin ~

 Today was one of the hottest & muggiest we've experienced!  Temperature 90 degrees & humidity at 72% gave us a heat index of 107!  I only remember one time in WA that the index went close to 100.  We were at an endurance ride & if it had gone over 100, the ride would have been cancelled.
Farah grazing~
A horses ability to cool, becomes difficult even when standing around, let alone when they're trotting down the trail for fifty-miles.  Farah, always a Prima-Dona - is not happy!  The bugs alone are trying to drive her nuts.  We've used almost a gallon of Pyranha Spray - once in the morning & once in the evening & still they're on her when we arrive.  I'm told it's the spray that works best here, if anyone has any other suggestions, let me know!
At the edge of the shade~
 I put her at the edge of the soy beans, in a little shade, but the creek is near, so the bugs were worse.  Her tail is getting a workout & I'm sure she misses the six inches that she lost last year stepping on it when she had to exit her stall.  It's gaining length again - but I know it will be at least another year before I'm trimming it off the ground.
 After throwing a fit over her rear Shootfly Leggings, she's finally gotten used to them again.  How she manages to beat the rear ones up so badly - I don't know.  Soon we'll be buying another set.  I sure wish I'd thought of them!  We don't have power at the barn - so no fan. Butch is thinking solar, but I'm wondering if in the long run we'd be better off just running the power...
Every day, I wish for another cool day, so that we can get out.  I'd love to go to either Waubonsie or Pierce Creek - but I'm far from sure about the responsibility of pulling the trailer with only one working eye...  One of these weekends I'll have Butch go along on a trial run.  I won't feel as worried if he's with me to take over if need be.

It looks like I'm staring down my nose at more tests over the next two-weeks or so.   More Fun...  Not!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Back in the Saddle Again~

The only cooler forecast day for the next week at least.  This May was the second hottest in history & so far I wonder if June won't be far behind.  With the overcast & temperatures in the low 80's, I was anxious to see how riding would be for me.  I was advised not to, until I see the Cardiologist, but when has that stopped me?

Over the weekend, Butch had set our new hitching rail.  I tied Farah, got her saddled & next thing she spooked straight up - coming down on my foot!  At nothing of course!  Not the best of starts, but once I put my leg over, it felt so right!
Butch setting posts~
I took some really great photos, but they're only in my memory.  At home I went to download them, only to see; "memory card error."  Butch got it working again, but the photos were gone...
Our route~
We'd only gone a short distance, Farah was constantly trying to grab mouthfuls of grass.  I'd tried to take a photo of the long stems waving in the breeze & gotten instantly dizzy.  At that same moment - she violently threw her head back - hitting me in the mouth.  The running martingale (Thank you Dean!) was the only thing that saved me from broken teeth.  Before I had time to react to that - she was backing up like a freight train, toward the trees & drop off to the creek.  I dug my heels in to no avail & yelled; "Whoa" four times.  Her rear hit the trees, as did my helmet.  I thought she was going over with me - but no - she stopped!

I got off fast!  The only thing I could think of - was that she'd either been bitten, or had something fly up her nose.  She hadn't done any head shaking though - even when she'd stopped.  I couldn't see a bite & looked through the grass, almost waist high on me, but didn't find a thing.  Adrenalin pumping - I almost turned back...  Almost...

Instead, I cowgirled up & we continued on.  It's now impossible to see the holes, both due to the high grass & my eye.  On the bright side, the Mulberries are starting to ripen & I found a tree with a few ripe!  Out at the Level B road, Farah was anxious to trot - so we did our mile.  Going back though - I decided to take the same path - since I could almost see our track in the grass.  At times we went between the rows of corn, but once it's taller - we won't fit.
Brand showing~
So far, I've learned that I have to keep my vision focused forward, at least when we're moving.  If I try to do too much looking around, that's when the vertigo kicks in.  I hope with time that will improve & I'll feel more comfortable.

By the time we were back, the sun had burned through the cloud cover.  Butch pulled in as I finished chores.  I'd been so happy to be getting in so many rides this year, but I'm learning that each year seems to bring different riding & weather challenges.  The bugs are out in force, they seem to come with the heat - both of which I'd like to avoid.  Hopeful for a few cooler days here & there~

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Adjustments ~

Riding into the sunset~
How does a person adjust to vision loss?  To pick one sense over another would seem contradictory. Vision, is so much of how we perceive our world...  I'm in somewhat of a funk, that is certain.  What vision the eye has, is worse in the morning.   If the weather would cool down a bit, I'd be in the saddle & that would make me feel better...  Instead we're breaking records for heat.  End of May?  It's more like mid-July & taking a toll on the flowers, the early garden plants & me.

Late Tuesday afternoon, it cooled down.  Thunderstorms were in the forecast - so no point in heading to the farm.  I worked outside weeding my marigolds.  The cool air, gray skies & wind felt so good.  Even weeding is difficult now, without depth perception - differentiating between a thin weed & thin stem of a flower wasn't easy.  When the thunder, lightening & rain hit - Butch had just gotten home & called me up from the backyard.  We sat out for a long while - just enjoying the smell & the sound of rain~

I'm unstable too, the ground looks to be almost in my face & perfectly flat.  I know how far to lift my foot for a step, but if there's slight incline or decline - I don't see it.  I did some research & decided to buy myself a new toy - Trekking poles.
My new toys~
I did a lot of looking & as with all outdoor equipment, you can spend as much or as little as you want.  I settled for good reviews & moderate price.  I've been practicing on our big hill in the back yard & it's crazy how much easier they make things & how much more secure I feel.  I figure the last thing I need is to fall & break something.

The google support group I've joined does help.  Reading what others have gone through & tried is interesting & I can ask questions.  My good eye gets so tired & even my brain has a difficult time, since it spends the day trying to reconcile vision with blotches.

My new NP, after checking my balance, suggested physical therapy in Council Bluffs.  That's scheduled with a therapist that specializes in patients with vision problems.  I'm looking forward to being given something to work on.  I'm also going to consult with a naturopathic Doctor & make changes in my diet.

I'm reading the book;  Blind Faith - by John Crittenden.  A real eye-opener if you don't mind the pun.  World wide, there are 285 million visually impaired people, of which 246 had low vision & 39 million were blind.  The cost in Canada & the US alone is over $49 billion/year.  The drug companies make a fortune on eye injections.

I've found out who my friends are & who may not be - after all. That too, makes me sad. One comment in regard to my blogging - suggested that I share too much of my personal life. I really never have, this issue with my vision has been one of the most personal I've posted, besides the loss of my parents. I've questioned as to whether to continue writing about this particular journey. Once I'm riding again - it will be more about that adjustment!  If it brings notice to an overlooked topic & helps me or even one other person cope - why not?

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day ~

We were up & on our way to Greenfield early.  I wanted to arrive in time to decorate our families graves & find a place in the shade for the Memorial Ceremony.  Grateful appreciation has to be expressed to the members of the Greenfield American Legion Head-Endres Post No. 265 and V.F.W. Post No. 5357 
 We were among the first to arrive & it was nice to have the quiet of the morning to place flowers on my parents & brother Russ's graves.  My fraternal Grandparents gravesite is nearby, where we placed branches of wild red roses.
Honor Guard~
Butch had our chairs under a large tree in the shade & I was thankful for that - as the day was heating up incredibly fast.  The ceremony was beautiful, with the names of each & every Veteran called out.  The American Legion sets crosses in the Memorial Garden for each Veteran, in alphabetical order & by War or conflict.
Poppies placed on the crosses~
I believe there are about 450 Veterans honored here.  Volunteers were asked to help place a poppy on each cross.  It's a staggeringly somber sight, to think of all the men, just from this small town, who have served & died for our country.
A field of Honor~
Both my father & my youngest brother have crosses here, along with my Uncle.  Many family names were familiar to me.  After the ceremony, family members could collect the poppies & we brought my two home~
Dad's Flag~
We took the walk to visit Dad's flag - no wind on this day - so Butch held it out for the photo.  A fitting tribute to so many who served valiantly & died for the freedom we enjoy today.
Last View~
As we drove south - Butch stopped for me to take in this last view of the Cemetery.  It's still very hard for me to think of the family I have lost.  I was so very lucky to know my grandparents so well as a child & as the oldest, have the most memories of them. 

From here we traveled on to where the maternal side of my family is buried.  It's in a quiet, almost forgotten part of the Iowa countryside.  We were the only ones there, with only the songs of the birds drifting in the light breeze.  
Family plot~
When we were planting all the emerald green trees at the Homestead, Mom got the idea of planting one at each corner of the plot here.  Even under very harsh conditions & getting hit by a mower on occasion, they've managed to live.  

A quote from the only early history I've managed to find on this area, entitled;  "A Parson's Vacation", describes it this way in 1855.  "He was especially impressed with the native wealth of western Iowa's never-ending rolling divides, then so luxuriantly covered with waving grass in a sea of green & dotted with wild flowers of every hue;  all tossing their radiant greetings to him in the gentle summer breezes."

We drove past Grandma's farm on our way back to Greenfield.  Lunch was overdue & by the time we'd finished, a thunderstorm had rolled in.  Driving through it, at home the temperatures were up in the high 90's yet again.