Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

February 28, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 11:24 am on Wednesday, February 28, 2007

WesternMeadowlark.jpgThe morning’s skies are gray and Sanctuary is bleached of color and somber. There are predictions of freezing rain and snow for the next several days, however, meadow larks have begun to sing in the mornings along with the cardinals. Each sound adds a little layer of delight as spring advances in spite of the wintry set backs.

cataract_close.jpgThis week I am living without the effects of blood thinner because on Friday morning I will have a cataract removed from my left eye, and prior to the surgery, the instructions are to cease and desist from the medication. I feel livelier somehow, but I also know that it is best not to wish for the fun of it all because my understanding is that the Coumadin and I have become companions for life.

supine stick figureAfter fasting for at least six hours, I go to the Outpatient Clinic and receive medications that will relax me so that my body is supine as the action continues. Then I will be covered all over with a sheet except for the eye in question (it doesn’t really matter if the correct eye is chosen, the other one needs the operation as well). That area will be deadened and after all is in a state of numbness, the eye is entered through the pupil with a laser and the cataract film is broken into bits and sucked right out in a very short time. I will have a patch taped to my eye and Charles will bring me home where I will commence to lie down and contemplate the ultimate verities. The miracle will be that I should have nearly perfect vision in the eye after a lifetime of nearsightedness. As it is now, I have had to give up night driving and the world would continue to move away in a haze if I didn’t pursue the corrections.

Martin-Luther.jpgMy sister-in-law once remarked that it is a family trait to view everything concerning one’s health in the extreme. For example, at the sight of a wart, skin cancer is assumed; at the lack of circulation in a foot, a blood clot soon to float right into the vital systems is imminent – death will surely follow, and so forth. As I approach the operation this Friday, I have to conclude that her observation has some merit because my brain has rushed ahead and begun the “What if” scenarios in earnest. “What if the doctor has an unexpected tremor as he directs that laser into the pupil of the eye? What if he sneezes? What if there is one dot amiss in the calculations and I am the one in thousands for whom this simple operation doesn’t turn out well?” There is always that statement that begins “In rare cases. . . “ in the materials that come with the preparation folder, and on it goes. It is my great good fortune that ultimately I have the antidote to the hand wringing, because the concluding words of Martin Luther’s Morning and Evening prayers come through the scurrying thoughts and calm is restored. “For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let your holy angel be with me that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.” Therefore, as Charles says, “Onward and Upward!”

February 20, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 3:47 pm on Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The thawing of the snow began in earnest yesterday, and the sounds of Sanctuary included those of water flowing swiftly in the creeks toward the wetland lake near which Tacama, the huge cottonwood tree stands. This morning Alphie and I walked just as the sun came over the horizon, and I continued through the forest to stand at the top of the hill where the fields begin. From there I can see a good distance eastward, to the south and west into town. It is a good place to say the prayer of thanksgiving for another day; the cloud patterns and wind directions foretell how the day may go forward and I can tell how much humidity is in the air by the volume of sound made by the coal trains that pass through the county some distance to the south of us. As I continue on the path I find myself back in years walking to school in spring and stepping on the thin ice coatings on the numerous little ponds left standing because the earth is still frozen. There is a clear, crystal layer over the water that shatters and cracks in the most satisfying fashion, and I remember hurrying to get to the ponds before my brothers did. This morning, there was no competition, so I had all of them to myself. Naturally, Alphie, bare footed, avoided the experience.

Hawk_On_Arbor.jpgOur near yard is the bird Mecca of the forty acres because of the numerous bird feeding stations I have placed all around, so when I return toward the house, the bird sounds increase in variety and volume, and the flying about from plum bushes to trays to cedars is constant. Perhaps that is why the big hawk comes and sits on the arbor. It doesn’t eat any of the seeds, and the smaller birds do not appear to fear it – I think of a large and lonely misfit that comes and sits in a corner at the café just to be around a little action. Later on in the season, when the eggs are hatching, these hawks will never fly anywhere without a cadre of squawking jays and blackbirds chasing them.

ThereAreTimes.jpgTuesdays I go to the Specialty Clinic for the weekly blood draw, and as I have likely mentioned, I am greeted as a “regular” and sent to my favorite room to await the needle wielding lab technician of the day. Today’s readings were moving downward again, but not enough to be alarming. Sometimes I feel tired and uneasy but I remind myself that there are literally thousands of other people who are feeling less than at their desired state of health. Charles appears to be the exception. . . he always reports that he has slept beautifully, and that all is well and that he has much to do with the new day. It makes for a good balance, but there are times. . . .

PS: The top photo is of our neighbor’s pond at sunrise.

February 14, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 9:36 pm on Wednesday, February 14, 2007

cardinal bird snow valentine with robins
Valentine’s Day, and snow is everywhere. The morning walk was undertaken in below zero temperatures and after a bit, Alphie began to try to walk on three feet instead of four, shifting from foot to foot in an attempt to spare one limb at a time from the intense cold so I immediately returned to the house with him. Later in the day, we walked the entire path around – it was still cold, but apparently bearable for him. The sky was a light gray with a pale and filtered sun shining through and I noticed a number of last years’ birds nests had perfect white caps of snow on them – robins were in the cedars trying to stay out of the wind and I considered that all of us creatures together were likely looking forward to warmer days and the advent of spring.

TSA ziplock bag and zip for the short tripLast weekend we flew to St. Louis because Charles was playing for a Hymn Festival in St. Charles. The flights went smoothly, though some of the boarding requirements seemed a bit strange; a young woman in front of me was going through security and didn’t have the requisite sack for her lotion and lipstick, etc. The lady checking her handbag said, “I’m sorry, but since you don’t have a plastic bag, I will have to confiscate these items.” I had two plastic bags in my purse, one with oranges in it, and another for my Purell, etc., so I shook out the oranges and handed the young woman the plastic bag. Both she and the checking woman thanked me very sincerely. This was taking place after our items had gone through the X-Ray machine so it was difficult to see the rationale behind all of the above.

The Hymn Festival went well with a wonderful children’s choir singing Charles’ composition “There is a Time” (based on the Ecclesiastes reading “There is a time and a purpose for everything under heaven. . . . “). We hadn’t heard it done by children before, and it was very good. Along with Charles’ compositions, the program included several hymns from the new Lutheran hymnal which he introduced with wonderful improvisations – the singing was vigorous and the music making was very fine by all those participating in the event.

classic smiley not too bigThis week is a happy one because the blood counts turned around at last, and instead of going downward, have begun their climb toward normal again. With many winter illnesses of flu and colds in every part of the community, it is a relief to have some immunities in place again.

February 5,2007

Filed under: — Constance at 4:05 pm on Monday, February 5, 2007

bonemarrow29.jpgEach week, a blood sample is drawn and the activity of the bone marrow is charted. Though I have been told these readings are “peripheral” because their indications are of happenings within that have occurred some time past, they nevertheless keep the doctors and myself informed about the workings of body and disease. I felt fine last week and assumed that readings would be at or near normal, but the immunity providing white blood cells were still at 2.9 (normal begins at 4.5) and we increased our hand washing and general vigilance since flu and other winter illnesses seem to be abounding in the community.

cedarWaxing.jpgBirds at Sanctuary seem to have determined that winter is moving on – now the sound and activity is quite splendid in spite of the very cold temperatures. We had a wonderful visitation by a huge flock of cedar waxwings. I first noticed them several mornings ago when I was walking a part of the path that goes under tall deciduous trees that stand so close together their branches strike each other when the winds move them about. The birds were puffed out against the cold and sitting in the sunlight on the mid and upper portions of the trees. This gave the appearance of a strange and exotic fruit appearing on the winter bare branches, because the waxwings have a beautiful soft lemony colored breast with striking black features around the eyes and crested crowns. Today they are gone, but the black berries that had remained on bushes along the path all winter long have all been eaten. As autumn advanced and the leaves dropped from those plants, I had wondered why the birds didn’t harvest them, but evidently everything has its time and season. The small blue berries on the cedars in that area have also been greatly decimated.

BeerSlug.jpg Several days ago Charles was appalled to find slugs eating round holes in the leaves of his orchids in the green house. He immediately commenced the “slug wars” by first consulting Google to see what others had found to be the best weapons to use. One recurring suggestion was placing jar lids of beer out so that the slugs would be attracted to them and presumably fall in and drown. Charles gathered his ammunition of a can of beer and numerous lids and commenced to place them out but after several days, the slugs had not taken to this with nearly the enthusiasm that was promised, and I suggested that perhaps they weren’t interested in stale beer, but would prefer fresh each day. I was given “the look” and no further comments were made. Then, I saw Charles going down the stairs to the greenhouse carrying a saltshaker. “What?” I said. He informed me that another plan was sprinkling salt on the slugs, and since they were gathering on a windowsill, it was quite doable. When he returned I asked if it was successful, and he said yes, it worked. I asked what happened and he would only say, “It was not a pretty sight”. Apparently the slugs have been conquered and the orchids are no longer under siege, but I do believe that drowning in beer might be the more humane way to go.