Saturday, December 15, 2007

Winter Reflections


Winter Reflections
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
It's getting really cold out now. Uncomfortably cold. Painfully cold. Get-the-heck-inside cold.
My body wants to hibernate.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fire in the Sky


Fire in the Sky
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
Stuff like this is why I always keep one eye on the western sky as the sun descends. You'll get ten-fifteen duds in a row, and then suddenly - THIS!
This sunset covered the entire bowl of the sky. I wish I had a fisheye lens, if only to use it once a year for this kind of beauty.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Country Sunset


Country Sunset
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
Oh, it's been so long since I have written anything. I spend all my time editing what others have written. Is this anyway to run my life? I need to find someone to pay me to write. But not the local paper. Been there, done that.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Patch of Yellow


Patch of Yellow
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
It's been raining most of the week. Yesterday evening I asked
Tim to drive me over to the sunflower field so I could take some more shots with my DSLR. I could only use my point and shoot on Sunday. I couldn't get as high up as I wanted to be, and the sun went behind some clouds, but I did get some nicer shots. This not being able to walk or drive thing isgetting old. Good thing I have family around me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sunflowers in the Rain


SunFlowers in the Rain
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
A much-needed rain today.
My B.I.L. Charlie at church this morning told me about this field of sunflowers down the road from him. I got my son to drive me over there to take a look at it. I can't drive with the cast on, and won't be able to for asome time yet. I'm thinking about taking the four-wheeler over to this field tomorrow, if it's sunny. Of course, there is the small matter of it being illegal to drive the four-wheeler on public roads. I think I can make it most of the way off-road. Charlie says wear a helmet and have a flag on the back of the four-wheeler, and as long as you're on the back roads and it's not a DNR guy, the local police won't bother you.
Hmmm. Do I want to find out? I can't afford a ticket. Hmmm.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sickbed Companion


Sickbed Companion
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
Imagine lying in your bed all day, feeling too nauseated to eat, foot too painful to endure, but pain meds making you feel so sick... this is not fun.
There's nothing like suffering to make you appreciate basic body functions, such as walking and pooping.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Michigan Landscape in July


Michigan Landscape in July
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
Today I was in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. I wended my way through heavy traffic, dozens of stoplights, and road construction to visit my sister in the hospital.
On the way home, I again took the back roads just to breathe. I came to the top of a high hill and pulling over, I got out of the car. I looked all around at the most idyllic, tranquil, beautiful landscape - I didn't know that I could feel so grateful for just plain, old country.

Chickory by the Road - Orten


Chickory by the Road - Orten
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
My sister is in the hospital after emergency open-heart surgery due to blood clots. She is doing fine so far. I go to sit with her everyday, so I can make sure she's taken care of.
On the way to the hospital, I take the backroads, weaving my way across country, looking for landscapes, whatever. I know that as of Tuesday the seventeenth, I'll be incapacitated, and have to spend my days lying on the couch watching TV. Sigh.

Monday, July 09, 2007

My Sister's Garden


Hey, Bud
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
Well, after Jan’s Meningioma operation seemingly going okay, we had a major setback yesterday.
Jan had been having some fainting spells and finally decided to go to emergency on Sunday evening. The doctors determined that she had a large number of blood clots in her lungs and one in her heart. At 4:00 A.M. Jan had emergency open-heart surgery to remove the clots from her lungs and heart. Turns out she had about a dozen in her heart. And one of them was about six inches long and as thick as my little finger. She came out of surgery doing as well as could be expected. They ventilated her and kept her asleep. Jim, Tim and I went home for some sleep ourselves. Anita stayed at the hospital.
About 3:00 I got a call from Anita saying that Jan’s blood pressure had dropped way down and they needed to do an emergency procedure, but couldn’t get a hold of Jim for consent, so they were asking her to give consent. Anita said that the doctor told her Jan could die without this procedure, but in her unstable condition, it was risky to move her to the angio room. I drove to Saline and woke Jim up (he had been awake the entire previous night) and took him to the hospital. On the way there, Anita kept calling from outside the hospital, asking when we were going to get there. At one point she called and said, “Julie, they said she is unresponsive!” and that really frightened me. A minute later she called back and said, “They didn’t say Mom was unresponsive, they were talking about me. The nurse said I wasn’t responding to my phone.” Whew!
We got to the hospital and the nurse explained that they needed to put a “green screen” in Jan’s vena cava, to artery going through the trunk of the body, leading from the legs to the heart and lungs. The screen would filter any large clots and keep them form reaching a place where they would do damage. They proceeded with the angio, in which they inserted a catheter in Jan’s leg artery and sent the screen to unfold in her artery.
Back n the hospital room, Jan was doing okay. They needed to keep her asleep, but the anesthetic was keeping her so asleep, her blood pressure would have been almost non-existent, so they also had to give her medicine to keep her pressure up. Now they are slowly backing off of the blood pressure medicine, and she is doing okay. So she is not “stable”, being dependant on the meds to stay alive, but going in the right direction.

Jan


Bathtime!
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Diligent Farmer on His Tractor


Diligent Farmer on His Tractor
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
Farmers feel this need to keep their fallow fields mowed. I prefer to leave them natural in their resting state. Think of all the finches feasting on those thistle seeds; all the monarchs larvae feeding on the milkweed,;all the spiders going about their business, lacing the flowers with circular webs that catch the dew; buzzing bees milking every blossom to make honey. Why must they mow? I understand that if they never mow, trees will grow and they must preserve the field for crops, but they could wait a long time between mowings and still do that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Friendly Lady


Friendly Lady
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
This morning I walked out on my front porch and saw about a dozen Painted Lady butterflies fluttering all around. They landed on the cement, the house, the furntiure - about every place but the flowers. I think they were looking for moisture.
This one allowed me to gently slip my finger underneath it and then it got a taste of the salty sweat on my skin. That was good enough to make it stay while I walked around, took pictures of it, and just enjoyed the moment-in-general of feeling like Snow White in the forest.
I completely forgot about physical therapy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Doused!


Doused!
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
I took this shot two years ago on vacation at Lake Superior, Twelve Mile Beach. I entered it along with another shot in the 2006 National Parks "Share the Experience" Family Fun Photo Contest.
Today I got a UPS package informing me that I won second place!
A Casio Exilim Zoom Camera. Wow!
Now I'm going to find out exactly what that is....

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ex-ray - June 14, 2007


Exray - June 14, 2007
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
The broken foot ordeal continues: June 14, 2007

Today I went to a different foot surgeon to get a second opinion on my foot.
There's this bump on the inside of my foot. I got the ex-rays from the hospital and could see that there were some bones out of place - the metatarsals didn't line up correctly with the tarsals.
And the bump was from that tarsal bone that wasn't lined up with the metatarsal that leads to the big toe. I was puzzled as to why the doctor didn't mention this and more over, why he apparently didn't fix it when I had surgery to put the broken ankle bones back together.
The next appointment I had with him, I asked about the bump. He spent several minutes trying to make me believe that bump had always been there and I didn't know my own feet. Then I pulled out a print of the ex-ray and showed it to him. His mouth snapped shut and he admitted there was a problem. He suggested that we wait six months and see if it didn't fix itself. I tried to imagine this bone working it's way back into place and decided that that was a long shot, if not completely impossible. My insurance advisor suggested I get a second opinion.
Today the second doctor took a new ex-ray to determine if this was a serious problem. Take a look. See anything wrong?

He recommended surgery to repair the foot. He said that this type of fracture was "often overlooked" but I think he was just trying to be helpful to Travis (the original surgeon). A six-year-old could see the displacement.
Travis either didn't see it, or forgot about it. I would guess it was the second. He tends to be forgetful - always in a hurry - And because if he didn't see it, he must be practicing medicine without a brain.

So there goes my summer. If I can wait until he gets back from vacation, I can have a month of summer before being laid up on the couch in a cast for six more weeks.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Two Hungry Mouths - June 9th


Two Hungry Mouths - June 9th
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
So there is no change. My life is to continue along on this same path for another year at least. I'm glad. I wasn't ready for a change yet.
This is a nest in my MIL's wisteria vine. I can't tell what kind of bird the mother is. I think she is either a sparrow or, more likely, a purple finch. But as soon a I approach she flys away swiftly and I can't get a good look.
There were six eggs in the nest - four from the mother bird and two cowbird eggs. The big mouth is actually a biological child, but one that hatched two days before the other two. The second mouth- I'm not sure which kind of bird, biological or cowbird. There is a third baby just hatched and still feather-wet form the egg. He/she is so tiny and weak - I hope it makes it. I should know by tomorrow.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Crossing the Log


Crossing the Log
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper
I’m slowly regaining use of my foot. On Memorial Day we were invited to a picnic at Wahl’s farm, and I enjoyed being outdoors so much, I hobbled through the paths in the woods and meadows with my moon boot on, no crutches. Of course, I paid dearly. My foot punished me for my reckless ways.
This picture suggests something else to me. I think a change is coming in my life. I’m crossing a bridge. More on that later.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lying in the Cannola


Lying in the Cannola
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
On the way home from my doctor's appt, I saw in the distance an enormous field of yellow. We took a side road and I found a way to get to it. The two ears of a deer poked out of the gold, but she got up and leaped away when I got out of the car.
I had just gotten permission from my doctor to walk, so I limped to the field with my camera. I walked into the flowers and smelled the hot, sweet pollen, and listened to the bees buzzing all around me. The intensely blue sky against the yellow was intoxicating. I stood there for anout ten minutes while my husband waited patiently in the car.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Heart of Spring


Heart of Spring
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
Yesterday I was going crazy ; stir crazy, cabin fever, spring fever, broken-foot-and-the-wheelchair-doesn't-roll-on-grass freaking insane.

I got my crutches and hobbled outside into the sun. After last year's May frosts decimating my redbud and lilacs, this year they are glorious. It was so beautiful, it cheered me right up.
I noticed my broken foot wasn't hurting. I held my crutches to one side and cautiously took a step. It hurt a little, but not badly. I took another step. I called Tim. Look at this! I said, and took two more steps. That was enough, but I felt like I was at last seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Later that day at my doctor appointment, I was gently rebuked. He said that, even if it doesn't hurt, I can still really mess up my foot if it's not completely healed. I repented. There's no way I want to go through this again.

Unfortunately, the doctor also said that the realignment of my bones in the foot was definitely not good. But that's for the surgeon to see on the eighteenth.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Finch Kisses


Finch kisses
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
While recovering from a broken ankle, I spent three weeks at my dear sister's house being tenderly fed and waited on while I healed to the point I could deal with going home, where I would be alone more often and have to deal with stairs.
In the mornings we would sit in her sunroom and drink tea while watching the birds and squirrels come to the feeders. We would talk. I would try to capture photos of the action. It was a pleasant time.
When I was eight, my mother died from cancer. My sister, who was 20 years old and pregnant with her first child, took care of me for a while. Ever after, even when my father remarried, my sister was my mother. She took care of me when I was sick, she had me to her house for Christmas and holidays, she and her husband invited me to move in to their basement the last year of college when I was almost out of money, so I could graduate. We were as close as two people could be. She was my mother. At least psychologically.
This morning my sister went to the hopital to have a meningioma (benign tumor) removed from behind her eye. There were concerns about damaging the arteries and the optic nerves. People all over the world, Catholic and Protestant, were praying for her.
After seven hours of surgery, the doctor informed her family that every thing went well.
I am so grateful!
Thank you, Lord!

Friday, April 13, 2007

After the Drugs


After the Drugs
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
I'm home for a visit, but back to my sister's house tonight. I think I'll come home sometime next week to stay.

This broken foot thing has been more of an ordeal than I thought.

It started March 1st when I was showing some kids in drama class how to vault “safely” over a couch. You step up on the couch, put your right hand on the back, then just hop over, using your hand on the back to steady yourself. The problem occurred in that I wasn’t actually using a couch. I was demonstrating the technique on a chair. As I hopped over the back, my foot caught the armrest, flipping the chair up and throwing me into the wall. I landed on my stomach on the floor. Looking back at my legs laying against the wall, I noticed the right one was at an unusual angle. Something that should be physically impossible. Unless it was broken. Then the tidal wave of pain hit.
To make a long story short, the ambulance came and took me to the hospital. The x-ray showed a broken fibula just above the ankle, and a broken bone in the ankle. The foot was also dislocated. They put me under to set the bones, then waited for the swelling to go down before they did the surgery needed to insert metal plates, screws, paper clips, staples, duct tape and rubber bands. I spent a week on the fifth floor, then another week in rehab. I would have gone home much sooner if the other foot hadn’t been sprained, making it impossible to get around.

When I finally went home on the 15th, I went to stay at my sister’s house. She has everything – bed, bath, and commode – on one floor, whereas my house is not wheelchair friendly. Also, she took care of me, waiting on me hand and foot. What an angel!

Meanwhile my husband came to visit almost every night.
I have learned a new appreciation for walking. Also bowel movements.

Last Monday my surgeon (his nurse actually) took off the temporary cast and put on a permanent cast. It was hot and heavy and tight, and when the nurse put it on, I felt a knot of panic rising from my stomach, but I fought it down and told myself I would be okay.
That night I woke up in the middle of the night in an absolute panic, breathing hard, shaking, crying, and desperately wanting the cast off. It was like an attack of claustrophobia. The next morning we tried to contact the doctors (surgeon or rehab), but neither called back. I had two more black hole attacks. Tim came and helped me though this by wheeling me out on Jan’s back porch, putting my camera in my hands and getting me to take pictures of the birds. Finally we called my regular doctor and she told me to go to the ER. At Saline’s ER I was triaged by an unsympathetic nurse who told me, “Stop breathing so fast, you’re only making in worse!” She explained that the air-conditioning was broken, so that’s why it was ninety degrees in this little room I was trying hard not to breath in. Eventually they split the cast to make it looser and gave me a drug to calm me. On Friday I saw the surgeon and he told me to see my rehab doctor who had prescribed all the pain-killers I had been on since I left the hospital. (btw, they don't kill it; they only wound it slightly). He switched my drugs around, thinking that the panic might have been caused by all the narcotics. I felt pretty good this morning, but not so hot now.
So apparently it’s not unusual for people with casts to have panic attacks, but they don’t tell you about the possibility ahead of time, probably so you don’t bring one on just thinking about it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Milkyway Coming Down


Milkyway Coming Down
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
Born in the wind with a thousand rare brothers who
Stretch out their arms and then slip from the womb,
Dashing and swirling, this effortless journey a
Feathery fantasy, crystal in bloom.

What a wild glide this invisible slide for a mile
Then two all they do is surrender and fly -
Hysterical, holy Carmagnole, to music my ears
Cannot hear. Dance – dance, silent black ice.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Drift at Sunrise


Drift at Sunrise
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
I saw this drift on Thursday on my way to school. On Friday I stopped and took this just as the sun came up. You wouldn't know it from this view, but winter can be so devoid of color - just black and white and all the grays in between, maybe some brown thrown in.

We are in the depths of winter - cold, snow, all plants in a form of death or hibernation. I can enjoy it most of the time, but some days you just turn the page without reading it, and wait for this chapter to be finished.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sun Halo


Sun Halo
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
On my way to Tecumseh I noticed this halo forming around the sun as clouds moved in. I desperately tried to find a place to pull over and shoot where there were no houses, trees, or telephone lines between me and the sky. Finally I found a spot.
I shot for about a minute, and then had to get back in the car quick.
My hands were beginning to get frostbite.

School has been cancelled for two days now due to 20-25 below zero wind chills. I'm enjoying the time off. I needed to get rested after "Spirit Week" at school. Those kids have too much spirit.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Daybreak Through the Trees


Daybreak Through the Trees
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
Every morning on my way to work, I get to watch the sun rise. As the year progresses and the days get longer, the sun rises earlier, so eventually it's in my eyes as I drive to school. Finally it's up high enough to where my sun visor functions adequately.
Then we go to "daylight savings time".
Again I go through the process of watching the sun rise until it blinds me.
I hear we are thinking seriously about dropping daylight savings. That means little kids will be walking to school in the dark. Or in the summer that the sun will be rising at 4:30 A.M.
We live in the north.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Sunrise on January 29th


Sunrise on January 29th
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
Today was Sam's 17th birthday. I want to write more, but it's late and I'm out of energy. Need to go to bed. Later... Goodnight.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Linda's Story


Linda's Story
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
Whenever I see these graves with lambs and little angels, I always wonder who this child was - what happened.
This is the grave of my cousin.
She would be my cousin once-removed, or my first cousin's daughter. Linda was the first-born of my grandparent's great-grandchildren, her father the first born of the grandchildren. I was one of the last. So Linda lived and died before I even came along.
I won't dwell on her life much except to say that she was a much-loved child with white blonde hair and she was smiling in her pictures. Linda was three years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia. There wasn't much they could do in those days. She contracted pneumonia and the combination of the two illnesses put her in the hospital. Her parents sat by her bedside and waited and prayed, but Linda went into a coma.
As the end drew near, suddenly Linda sat up in bed. She looked past her anxious parents toward the door of her room. She held out her arms and said, clear as a bell, "Jesus!"
Then she fell back in bed. Two hours later she died.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

So You Think I'm Making Cupcakes at 9:00 P.M.?

Why is it that your kids want help with their homework, buttons sewn, food cooked, and jeans washed right about the time you're ready for bed?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rosehips on Ice


Red Berries in Ice
Originally uploaded by CaptPiper.
Oh JOY!!
Flickr responded to my request for help and were able to show me what the problem was. I needed to follow a specific link "Head over to Google now" and I was just going straight to my blog site.

All is well and
I'm BACK!!!

Our ice storm on Sunday night provided some great camera fodder - Many glittering gorgeous sights.
Very enjoyable as long as one did not lose electricity.

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

January 6, 2007


Well, here I am, still working on getting Flickr and blogger to work together like friends.

Meanwhile, I need to be cleaning house, so I'm not in the mood to write much.

When you ask for actual "help" as facetiously suggested by the help button in the upper right-hand corner, you are required to go through several pages of FAQs before they admit they will not actually answer your e-mail, but will glance at it, and if they get a lot of the same question, they will add it to their FAQs listings. I'm so disenchanted.

I've been working on this watercolor, on and off, since Thanksgiving. Almost done. Needs depth, but I'm afraid of overworking it.