Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ice, snow, ENT

We had ice pellets, a bit of freezing rain, and snow on Friday making for an interesting layer of frozen stuff on the ground. Thankfully we didn't lose power and thankfully the accumulation here is generally not enough to last for too long. (Though we didn't get the car out of the neighborhood until yesterday!) 

The equines were free to go in and out but mostly chose to stay in on Friday and Saturday. Sunday they started venturing out as the sunshine returned and are now back to getting hay outside the barn during the daytime hours. We had some melting yesterday and hopefully much more today. But the roof is still covered and the thawing is happening around the edges of November Hill. Where it's melting it is mud! So it's going to take some sunny days and time to dry out again.

On another note I'm nearing my ENT clinic appointment and am so ready for some help with the throat issues I'm having. I appreciate all good thoughts that this is soon clear and I am back to my normal self. The liquid/puréed diet is getting very old. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

the solace of reading good books

What's on my mind today is good books - I have them lined up like dominoes in my head, what I'm reading now, what I'm going to read next, what I read and want to read again, what books are out there that I haven't even discovered yet.

I just finished Gretel Ehrlich's book of essays about life working cattle and sheep in Wyoming. The Solace of Open Spaces is a gorgeous look at life and landscape and working with animals. It's a short book and a great read. (with thanks to my daughter for putting it in front of me!)

I lost no time in moving on to the next read because it's been staring me down ever since Christmas time. Oliver Sacks memoir On The Move: A Life is in front of me as I type this. A long time ago I picked up his work and fell in love with his books and recently, just before his death, began to see excerpts from essays he wrote as he neared the end of his life. His perspective on life and death, on aging and staying young at heart, resonated with me as much as his books do.

I read that shortly before his death he traveled to North Carolina to spend time with the lemurs at Duke University's primate center. Right up to the end he was pursuing his interests and making time to do the things he loved.

For anyone doing her own writing, I just completed a book on the craft of writing by Paula Munier called Writing With Quiet Hands: how to shape your writing to resonate with readers. I liked it a lot. The chapter on narrative thrust is essential reading.

I'm getting ready to start Ron Carlson's Ron Carlson Writes A Story. This little book addresses short story craft and I'm eager to dive in.

And finally, if you keep tabs on my "currently reading" list on the sidebar to the right, you may notice that Sean Carroll's book seems to sit there - and sit there - and sit there. No, I haven't given up on it. No, it isn't boring. But it's about physics and time and although written for a lay audience he doesn't shy away from difficult principles. I do this reading every morning, a few pages at a time, and try to really sink in and think about it. I'm often confused and sometimes my brain freezes up as I work through it but at least a few times a week I get a glimmer of understanding that is so exciting when it happens it keeps me hooked. (and fuels my new trilogy that is 2/3 done and still simmering)

As usual, I'd love to hear what you're reading, what you love, or, on a slightly different note, what landscape offers solace to you?

Friday, January 08, 2016

finally, winter! and weird throat issue

We've had several cold days with lows in the teens and although that means some extra chores at the barn, I'm happy to have some winter weather. Today we're looking at another couple of rainy days, a bit warmer, and hopefully my riding time will be back in place by the beginning of the week.

Meanwhile on Monday I bought some broccoli cheddar soup to go from our local co-op market. It was on the thin side and I got home with it and drank it straight from the carton. Big mistake, as there were some thin flat fibrous pieces in the soup and because I drank it down, at least one went down my throat. Ever since I have felt off and on like there is something in my throat! 

Wednesday I went to an ENT doctor and had an endoscope done. She did a thorough look and recorded it so I could see too - she couldn't find anything. She did say there were a few areas that are often hard to see with this procedure but she felt that she'd gotten a good look and that maybe the fibrous piece scratched my throat and the sensation can take up to a month to resolve. She also said there is no sign of anything serious going on and that she hoped that would be a relief to me.

We both agreed this is probably exacerbated by the fact that I am at that final throat clearing last cough stage of the cold I had, and by the sudden cold snap and cranking up of the wood stove (dry air in the house!). She suggested I give it a month, gargle with warm salt water several times a day, and come back if it gets worse or doesn't resolve by February.

It comes and goes. Sometimes it feels like something big is there, other times it feels like nothing is there. Sometimes eating makes it better, sometimes eating makes it worse. The gargling does help quite a bit.

When I was pregnant with each of my children I had this very sensation that something was stuck in my throat. The first time I had an endoscope done, nothing was seen, and they chalked it up to a hormonal change that caused a piece of tissue to swell. It ended by the time my son was born and when it happened again at the same stage of pregnancy with my daughter, I found out a few women do experience this during pregnancy.

So, of course I'm not pregnant, but I'm thinking maybe the cough and frequent throat clearing and dry air combined with the scratchy fibrous piece and as the cough resolves the tissue will heal and all will be well. The next thing they would do would be a procedure under anesthesia to do a more thorough look. May I never need to go that far! Meanwhile I am having to deploy mindfulness on a near-constant basis. It's pretty amazing how I can go from agitation to calm by simply relaxing and changing my thinking about how the throat feels. I guess on some level I need this lesson right now! 

Good thoughts of a clear throat welcome, as are been there done thats!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

fire and rain and rain and rain

Sunday I stepped in a compost pile (with sandals on because it is in the 70s here) and pulled out a foot coated in fire ants - usually dormant this time of year! We don't have any mounds on the farm right now, at least none that are visible, like this hidden compost mound, but I'm seeing them along the main road in growing numbers. 

I have daffodils coming up already, 8 inches tall. 

And rain. Rain. Rain. 

Yesterday we had a break from the wet stuff. The sun came out and a nice breeze blew in and although it's muddy and squishy in the pastures I turned the horses out, opened the barn up, turned on the fans, and spent most of the day getting it aired out and clean. The herd got treats and grooming and a little exercise in the arena. 

None of them were much interested in the exercise except for the pony, who had been cheeky to his girl and seemed to need some attention. He galloped and galloped and galloped in both directions, offering many flying lead changes and extended floating trot and a few bucks until he finally settled down. 

I left them out until bedtime last night, knowing more rain was on the way. Today and tomorrow look messy on the weather radar. The rivers and creeks and lake are all higher than I've ever seen them. I'm not sure where all the water will go that falls today and tomorrow, but on Friday it looks like "normal" temps are coming in - sunshine and highs in the 50s. I'm looking forward to getting dried out.

It's a little odd having the screen doors open and ceiling fans going while the Christmas tree is up! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

the "between" days

Years back I used to send what I called "between" cards - which were carefully selected and carefully written notes to my family and friends that I purposely sent in the span of days that fall between Christmas and New Year's.

The time between Christmas and New Year's has always been a contemplative time for me. The build-up to Christmas is full of joy but it's also often overloaded with expectations and attempts to make things "perfect" for the holiday. Every year I try to refocus my efforts on simplifying and having good and meaningful time with my family. Some years I manage it well, others I get caught up in the frenzy. And after the holiday has passed, I hear from clients the lesser-known stories of the holidays: disappointments, tensions that built and burst out, sadnesses, grief. For many people the holidays bring things to a head or highlight what isn't there, or hasn't been, or won't be.

This time before the new year is in my opinion a perfect time to reflect. As I sit here typing I see the white lights on the tree reflecting in the kitchen window so it appears there are little white lights on the bare oak tree by the barn. The same lights are reflecting in the black computer screen on the desk in the living room making what is essentially a blank screen into a piece of illuminated art.

What are my thoughts for myself this week?

I made several commitments in the fall for the coming year that I now see were poorly timed. I'm pulling back on those things and redirecting my time and energy. It's okay to do this! We don't always know what needs our focus. Reallocating is a good thing if done thoughtfully.

On busy days and nights this week I made a point to walk out to the barn and feed some treats to the herd. One evening I did it in the dark and realized (again) how powerful a remedy that is for me. I aim to do more of it. The feel of a muzzle against my palm and a soft snort in the moonlight is a treasure I have access to every single night of the year.

It's been over a week since I even thought about writing or editing. That's okay! But it's time to get back to it. A fair amount of my energy comes from doing that work each day. It's work that refuels my spirit.

Things that feel like failures in the moment can be powerful elements of change in our lives. I had a few of those this week and I'm going to keep reflecting and look toward using the experiences to make a few little leaps forward. We all have the option to do this - all it takes is reframing and a willingness to look at things from a different direction.

I just read a note from a friend who shared that 2015 was one of her worst, most difficult years. She is ready to move on to a new one. Sometimes when things have been hard that's the best thing to say - I'm leaving it behind and moving on to something new. Which in a way is what every New Year's Eve is about - choosing to celebrate the good, learn from the difficult, and mark the beginning of a new year in which to create new paths, new habits, and bring the things that work well forward too.

One thing I'm bringing forward is this blog - a place where I get to write whatever strikes my fancy without worrying too much about being perfect or literary or anything at all. Thanks for reading and for those of you who comment. I love reading your thoughts as much as I love writing the posts! 

Take a moment and savor this between time. Share something here if you like. I'm looking forward to thinking, reading, savoring.