Saturday, March 28, 2009

Show & Tell - Sunday March 29th

Last week I told you about some of the flowers and plants I have coming up in my yard. This week I have actual blooms to show you! I am very excited to see these - though I hadn't expected them to bloom so soon. My Bleeding Hearts are still on the smallish side, but I hope they will continue to grow larger and bloom some more. They usually do if the weather stays consistent with few extremes. No sign yet of my white Bleeding Hearts. When they do, I will be sure to share. What I love about these particular plants (besides the symbolism and the unique flowers it produces) are they are true spring plants. They like things warmish - but not too hot. They like a little sun, but are just as happy in the rain. I've been able to grow them in the arid climate of Colorado and Idaho and been just as successful in the hot and humid clime of Missouri. They are my kind of plant - easy to maintain, require little fussing and bloom pretty much where-ever they are planted, coming back year after year, even bigger and better than before.

Enjoy my first little blooms of spring!

OH! I also noticed that my rosebush I thought had succumbed last year may have a bit of life left in it. I found one of the long main stems has some green to it and appears to be trying to put out some leaf buds. We shall see . . . .

For more Show & Tell - see here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"All of us, whether guilty or not, whether old or young, must accept the past. It is not a case of coming to terms with the past. That is not possible. It cannot be subsequently modified or undone. "
~Richard von Weizsaecker~

Last night I dreamt I was pregnant.

I am finding no matter what point you come to in this life, there are just some things you never get over - or perhaps, some things are like a bad habit, one you just don't know how to or just can't break, a knee jerk reaction - one that comes before you even have time to think about it. Pushing up the glasses you haven't worn since you got contacts. Checking the calendar to see when your "monthly gift" should arrive - even though it hasn't for six months now and won't ever again. Finding out someone I know is pregnant and feeling it like a kick to the stomach. That sudden, sickening, lurch. Those old feelings come back so easily, haunting me. A little pink bundle in the store - and overwhelming pangs of what might have been, what could have been, what should have been, follow me all the way out the doors and to the car and back home.

And I am one of the fortunate ones. Me. I can't even tell you why. Because I know I am no better nor worse than anyone else. No less or more deserving. Things just worked out this way. And I feel guilty. Even now, my past is trying to rob me of my happiness. That which I worked for, bled for and cried for - even now, it wants to taint my joy. And I feel guilty.

A friend who chuckles when she "confesses" to being almost through the first trimester "I thought we were done. Guess someone had other ideas!" And me, trying vainly, still trying to fit in, to belong somewhere, says "I thought I was done years ago . . ." and another friend who says "That is what happens when you are fertile." And I laugh - I have to laugh and I choke on that laugh. She with the children spaced far enough apart that you wonder if there is a story to that, a reason - a painful secret perhaps? Because I know those backstories, and those reasons, and those painful secrets. She doesn't know I know. So I tell her. I tell her my first babies are fertility drug babies because I didn't work right, my body didn't do what it was suppose to do. I tell her that personal bit of "dirty laundry" that my ovaries didn't put out eggs without prodding them with injected drugs. That they didn't for 12 years and then, when they were supposed to stop working as efficiently, they suddenly got it figured out. I tell her this, but I don't tell her that there were more than four fertility drug babies. I don't tell her of my angels. And I feel guilty. I feel embarrassed. ashamed. Why? It is a hard thing to admit sometimes - a hard thing to say I am imperfect. I didn't work right. I got myself pregnant with babies I couldn't keep. Couldn't hold on to. I still think of them. I still mourn them. I still wonder about them. And I don't mention them because I have babies I did manage to hang onto, obviously, and I mustn't appear ungrateful. And I feel guilty. It seems unbelievable at times. Amazing. And I lived it, I was there, and sometimes even I wonder. What was I thinking? Was any of that real? Were they real?

For those few weeks, a mere matter of months, they were mine.

I may not know what they looked like - whose nose they had, what color their eyes were or if they would have let me sleep through the night or not; but I remember how they made me feel. I remember how it felt to know they were there. For that, I would never change one thing.

And I feel guilty.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Show & Tell - March 22nd

Out of all the seasons, I like spring the best. Even though today was a little cool still at 54, I did notice signs of impending spring around our yard and wanted to share my excitement with you.

I think these are my Asiatic Lilies. They are kind of like a Stargazer Lily - but they are this amazing reddish-orange hue and have proven quite hardy and prolific over the years.

This little bit of green made me exceptionally happy when I saw it. I put in 4 Hydrangea Bushes last year. Two suffered an early demise following a run in with my three year old, a tricycle and our driveway. The other two lingered a bit longer, but didn't seem to do so well and I had doubts that I would see them again. Today I saw this and was absolutely thrilled - at least one bush survived! I can't wait to see which color this one turns out to be - the blooms also will take on different hues depending on the alkalinity/acidity of the soil.

The squirrels always seem to eat all my crocus bulbs and I always mourn the loss of those little colorful blooms. I was pleased to see they left these little purple guys. I can't for the life of me remember what they are - I just know they aren't crocuses. Maybe Hyacinth?

From the time I began having miscarriages - I have always had these in my garden. They are Bleeding Hearts - I have white and pinky red ones and they are the most unique flowers. They come back year after year with the bushes becoming larger and larger each year. I put these in when we moved here and they are starting to get quite bushy now after 6 years. I will have to take some pictures once they start blooming.

One of my rose bushes. This one has the most beautiful white blooms - they have the barest blush of pink to them. I lost one of my rose bushes last year to a brutal late frost - it use to produce HUGE hot pink blooms and the smell was unearthly! The previous owners put in Hostas and they get enormous and are often fighting my Roses for occupancy. I'm going to try relocating some of the Hostas this year once they start coming in.

All my neighbors have scads of daffodils and I only seem to have stragglers. One here, one there, another one over there - but plenty of green leaves which would imply there should be more than one. I think I have some other spring lovers in residence that have been so excited by these first blooms, that they just couldn't help themselves from carrying them off . . .

No sign of the Calla Lilies I put in last year - though they like things a little hotter. There is a little chipmunk who made a little nest in that particular flower bed and I think he may have made himself a winter's snack out of my bulbs. This is one of the entrances to his lair. (He has two.) Be sure to stay tuned for further updates to the Chipmunk Calla Catastrophe.

Lastly, I so wanted to get a shot of the Blue Jay I saw today - but he flew off before I could. He was big and gorgeous - the main blue of his feathers and the darker blue band absolutely breathtaking. He was definitely a beauty. Hopefully I will be able to catch a picture of one and maybe a Cardinal or two before too long to share with you.

Now tiptoe through the tulips and go see what the other kids have brought.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yesterday I hit the 6 month anniversary of my hysterectomy.

Sometimes I think they removed my creativity along with my uterus. (Either that or my muse. Perhaps there is a great deal more tied up in that particular organ than I previously surmised . . . hmmmm.) Trying to write, and write like I remember being able to, is not coming as easily as it once did.

Anyway - no more pain, or rather significantly less pain, is definitely good. No more hemorrhaging monthly, anemia or extreme pms - even better.

So, I'm glad I had it done. For me it was the right thing to do at the right time. Yes, there are moments now and then (like yesterday - those baby showers can still trip me up a bit), for the most part however, it's okay. I'm okay.

And that's the best I can come up with on a literary front - I'm okay. No Pulitzer contention there I tell you.

(Like I said - creation, creativity, it does make you wonder . . .)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Show & Tell Sunday March 15th

Some architectural shots I took in our downtown area while waiting for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade to start.

I grew up in a very historical town - rich with architectural interest and plenty of mountains. So for me, it is fun to see many of these similar elements in whatever places I find myself since leaving home.

This one above and the one below are two of my favorites.

I thought this one was quite interesting. The building itself was rather ugly and plain for the most part, but up top on the roof it had something akin to brick pedestals with these urn-type things on them.

When I was trying to take this last shot - a man also waiting for the parade to start asked me what I was taking pictures of. He said I looked like I must have found something interesting and was wondering what it was. I told him I was just taking shots of some of the architecture around. Later during the parade I found out he was a photographer for our local paper. I guess he must have been hoping I had found something newsworthy! Nope, just windows and cornices.

Now, go look and see what the other kids have brought to Circle Time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

(Duplicate post on Desperate Mothering blog - children/past pregnancy mentioned briefly)

I typically joke when my husband is heading off on a business trip that I am always sick or will get sick and some disaster will ensue. Two Christmases ago it was the car accident that totaled our van and broke my foot. Many years ago, just over 12 - it was ending up in the hospital with a complete placenta previa that was abrupting while my spouse was in Texas. Another trip of his to Texas was when I had the worst asthma attack of my adult years, a 2 year old with RSV and a doctor who only agreed not to hospitalize me provided I found an adult to take care of me and I got my O2 sats above 90 before he sent me home. The month before our youngest was born it was an ice storm that knocked our power out for 36 hours. (Spent the day Matt left at Walmart with 5 kids and at 35 weeks pregnant because they had lights and heat.) Early last year there was the morning he kissed me goodbye before another such trip and said "Bye, love you and oh, the heater isn't coming on . . ." That year the switch telling the furnace the cover was closed was broken - open door, no work. Just this past summer it was the starter motor on my van dying. This weekend with 4.5 inches of icy snowfall, everyone sick to varying degrees and Matt gearing up for a business trip to Kentucky, we discover the heater doesn't seem to be working. The fan just runs and runs and the heat never comes on. I figure, of course, I'm sick, the kids are sick, the furnace isn't working and it must be time for Matt to leave on a business trip again. (He always misses the drama!) He tried replacing the thermostat yesterday morning before he left (the temperature inside the house had dropped to 54 degrees by morning) to no avail. I drove him to the car rental place after dropping the kids off at school. My head was splitting, I somewhat questioned my ability to drive, feeling weak and teary and just wanted to go home to my mommy. Trent had dragged himself off to Seminary Monday morning despite have a miserable weekend as well. He complained of a headache and just seemed to want to sleep non-stop. We all made it to church on Sunday, but he left in the middle of Sacrament meeting and didn't return. We found him in the Seminary room asleep on the floor. After returning home from church, he headed straight to bed. Matt complained he felt even worse than he had during the week and I took a 4 hour nap trying to find relief from my pounding head, queasiness and various aches.

So yesterday, after dropping Matt off at the car rental place and a brief foray to Walmart to procure more cold and flu medications and refill my asthma inhaler, I make the call for a repair man. He shows up and finds the problem with the fan right away - a bad switch. He also discovers our flue pipe is leaking. Yes, leaking, as in Carbon Monoxide leaking. "Did you say y'all have been sick lately?" he asks me. He is able to repair both problems quickly - neither of which is relative to the other. Without the bad switch, the heater would still have come on and we would not have had reason to call a repair man. If replacing the thermostat had solved our problem initially, again, no call to the repair man. No call to the repair man = ? We would not have known about the CO leak. I would have continued to chalk up how awful we all felt to being sick. Everyone is sick right now - our friends, the kids say that half their friends are missing from school. This is cold and flu season. Never in a million years would I have ever entertained the notion this was Carbon Monoxide poisoning - low level to be sure, but still, in addition to being legitimately sick. I also have carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of our home. According to what the repair man told me and also doing some research of my own, these alarms are not particularly reliable. I went out and purchased an alarm that shows the level of CO present in ppm. Even if the alarm doesn't sound, I will at least have a continuous reading of the CO level in our home. Matt called me from the road and said he was feeling a lot better - then I told him about the heater. In true unphased Matt style he said "Oh, it was good you got it fixed then." Also according to my research, it is not uncommon for people experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning to feel better when away from the source of CO. Matt is at work during the week, he felt worse at home on the weekend. I was very interested and concerned to see what condition Trent would be in on his return home from school. His room is right off the closet where the furnace and water heater sit - you access the closet through his bedroom. He came home from school a completely different kid. He was bright eyed and clear - looking and sounding 100% better. I asked him how he felt and he said he felt much improved. By evening, I too noticed that what I had attributed to cold and flu symptoms were much alleviated as well. Wow, just, wow.

The reason I am sharing all this with you is because also in my research I found this article that states accidental carbon monoxide poisoning kills approximately 500 people each year. Most at risk from dying from even low level poisoning are small children, the infirmed and elderly. Poisoning is not restricted to malfunctioning heaters during the winter time; one student died and several others were sickened due to a malfunctioning gas water heater at a Roanake College during the summer. The recent ice storms in Kentucky lead to the deaths of people who had to find other heat sources when they lost their power. Improper ventilation swiftly led to toxic CO levels. In the town where I grew up, this past December, a 22 year old mother died from CO poisoning which also seriously sickened her husband and 2 year old son. They had believed as I had so readily, that they simply had a case of flu. By the time they realized this was more serious than just a case of flu, it was too late.

This article outlines ways you can help prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning. I would add to this list regularly checking your gas appliances to ensure proper function/ventilation as well as installing carbon monoxide detectors that show you the level of CO present. Units can be found reasonably priced and fairly easily where you would also find smoke detectors and fire alarms sold. Our local Walmart had one for less than $30. My only complaint is that it is only battery powered and I would have preferred one that plugged into an electrical outlet with battery back up. A biochemist friend of mine says increasing your iron intake and even exercise if you suspect low level poisoning can help facilitate a quick recovery - anything that increases the oxygen levels in your body. Adding the cost of the CO monitor to the $90 charge for the repair man, I spent less than $120. The cost could have been so much more..