Saturday, August 31, 2013

More Nature Sharing

Thanks to Hubs' great camera-work, I have some fabulous photos to share.  First we have Monty the Praying Mantis who was on a bush in the front of New House:

Then there is Hummy who was on a Zinnia in the Way Back at New House - this sequence was shot from the porch, quite a distance:

How cute is that?!

I hope everyone enjoys a great Holiday Weekend!  It is a humid one here in central O-H-I-O !!

We'll talk again soon!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Bun-i-ful year

It has been a Buniful year at  Old House.  There have been times we've seen as many as 6 bunnies in the yard at once.  Most often we see 3 or 4.  Last night we got to enjoy a tiny baby.  We had seen a baby this small once in the spring, but he didn't hang around long.  Last night he was bopping around for a couple of hours at least.  It is hard to see his size from the pictures, but he is just a little handful of fur.

I hope you get to enjoy a bunny sometime soon, too!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

More walking!

I just realized it's been more than a week since I've given a leg/walking progress report.  I am excited to report that today we went to our favorite park and walked for about a hour and a half!  Bessie got along very well.  She was tired, but there were no "issues" with the long walk.  The biggest accomplishment was that we went down a hill to a part of the park we haven't been able to visit for several years!

Most of the park is fairly level, and while Hubs was pushing me in the wheelchair for the last 2 summers, we stayed up on that level area.  There is a section that goes down a fairly steep hill, and we didn't venture down there when he would have had to try to push me back up.  Today we walked down the hill, around the lower area, and back up again!!!  We got to see the 2nd frog pond, and the ruins (a manufactured "ruins" area that is quite picturesque).

It was a gorgeous day for a walk in the park.  Temp was in the 70's with low humidity.  We seldom go there in the morning, so it was fun to get to see things in a different light.  (Today we were there from 10-11:30 am.)  Here are some of our finds:

First, a frog and water lily from pond #1 that we usually go to:

Next some frogs and a water lily from the lower pond that we haven't been to for years:

Here is a particularly tiny frog - I would estimate him to be about the size of a quarter:

These roses were right by where we parked:

Ya gotta love the woodland creatures that pose:

So that was today's adventure!  Thanks for letting me share... come back again soon!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

A New Item

A few entries back, I mentioned that Hubs and I had gone to some stores in search of a chair for the living room.  For the last year, we've only had a 3-seat couch and 1 chair which makes for awkward seating for 4 people who want to converse.  However, the room is small and the furniture is big - there is that Baby Grand Piano, after all - so our choice of a new chair has some serious size limitations.

Today, I went on a reconnaissance mission to a Home Goods store that a friend had recommended.  My plan was to scope the place for chairs and then take Hubs back there tomorrow if I found any good prospects.  Instead, today, I came home with a chair in the back of the PT Cruiser!  I saw it - I liked it - I made an executive decision!  We had to do some rearranging to get it in, but I'm very happy with the way this completes the living room!

This is a Lane recliner and is black and white.  Because of its location, it will not be a TV-viewing chair.  I am going to get a lamp or move one over by it, so it will be a reading chair and possibly a nap chair, but also a chair to make a proper conversation group in the living room.  It is very comfy and is the perfect size for me - it is an "Amy Chair".  It is also Made In America, which I LOVE!  

Talk to you again soon!


DA Summary

As of yesterday, I had managed to finish watching all 25 episodes of the 3 seasons of Downton Abbey.  I was hooked from the first episode I watched, and I was very anxious to see each new installment.  I purposely spread them out over the summer so I could savor them; I never let myself watch more than 1 episode per day.

Those of you who know the story will understand how upset I was at the end of the last episode.  Matthew is dead!  NO!  How can this be?!  We've all invested 3 years in watching his character development and learning to love him!  How can he be taken away from us like this?  I understand that Dan Stevens who plays Matthew asked to leave the show to pursue other interests.  I hope he ends up appreciating that choice, but it is hard to understand any actor wanting to leave such a high-profile and successful series.

While Matthew's death is tragic and traumatic, the death of Lady Sybil was, of course, the most heart-wrenching part of the series so far.  I don't know how many women typically died in childbirth in the early 1920s in England, but in some ways this seems to be an historical reference and "sign of the times".  We had already seen the family affected by death on the Titanic, death during WWI, death from Spanish Flu, and now death in childbirth.

I found an interesting article online that deals with this issue.  The only statistic it provides is this: "In 1920, for example, statistics suggested 1,200 of the 6,000 maternal deaths each year were caused by Eclampsia. The only “cure” for pre-Eclampsia and Eclampsia was the removal of the products of conception—delivery. "   The rest of the article can be seen here.

One of the things I've enjoyed is that the DVDs I've been getting from Netflix sometimes include Special Features which discuss the making of the episodes.  I am fascinated by the production side of the show.  The house, of course, is just itself, although a set had to be built on a sound stage at another location for the downstairs part of the show because the kitchen in Highclere Castle has been modernized.  The costuming is amazing and strives very much to be historically accurate.  It seems that none of the upstairs women ever wear the same thing twice - even outerwear like coats.  I've heard the same of British Royalty.  Of course, to those of us Middle Class here in America, that seems to be such a huge waste, but it is just one example of the lifestyle being depicted.

Some of the cast members commented on the fact that one of the remarkable things about this production is the fact that it is original.  It isn't derived from a book or any other source.  I agree that is an important factor.   To start from scratch on this huge undertaking is quite impressive.   I am also very impressed by the complexity of the story as well as the complexity of the historical aspects that are interwoven into the plot.  As the family navigates the events of WWI, we see how people dealt with the war's effects - on society, not just on individuals.  The realization that Lady Edith has that most of the eligible young men of her generation have either been killed or seriously wounded is one of the factors that leads her to choose to marry a man her father's age.  Although it hadn't been named as such yet in 1920, indeed, we now refer to "the lost generation" of WWI.  And then there are the other changes society felt as a result of the war.  The lifestyle of the aristocracy was being challenged in new ways.  Few young people were going into a life of service to the wealthy class because they were choosing instead to work in factories or to go into other, more lucrative, jobs that didn't carry the social stigma of the aristocracy.  Lord Robert, the master of the castle so to speak, is forced to change his way of managing the estate or risk losing it.

As I've mentioned here before, the absolute shining star of the entire project is Dame Maggie Smith who plays the Grand Dame of the family, Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.  In almost every episode there is something she says or does that makes me laugh out loud.  More than once, I've had to rewind to hear her amusing line again or see the face she makes at something.  I could go on for the next hour quoting her.  You can Google "Lady Violet Crawley Quotes" and get an entire Wiki devoted to the character and her witticisms.

In one of the early episodes, she goes to Matthew's office, and sits in a swivel chair.  She's never sat in one before, so when it moves, it catches her off-guard and she asks what new kind of chair this is (thinking it is broken, I think).  Matthew explains that in fact it is an old design that originated with Thomas Jefferson, to which she replies in her very droll and understated way, "Why does every day involve a fight with an American?" Her expression as she says it is absolutely priceless!

If you've watched the show, you know what I mean about Maggie.  If you haven't, then nothing I say will help you truly appreciate the brilliance of this amazing actress.  For me, she is the icing on the cake and makes the show worth all the time I've invested in it!

And so, I will send back my last disc.  The wait begins for Season 4 in January.  There's a lot of news about Season 4 on the internet.  I may read some of it to help me get my fix in the meantime.  If you haven't watched it, I urge you to check it out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 9, 2013

PT Evaluation and Progress at 8 weeks

When I arrived at my PT session yesterday, Kristen informed me that it was time for her to do an evaluation.  We sat and talked first.  She asked me a lot of questions about my progress:  How was I sleeping? (I told her I sleep well.)  What did I still feel uncomfortable doing? (stairs, mainly because I haven't tried)  How close do I feel I am to being able to do the things I want to do? (75%?)

Then we went for a walk.  We went out of the PT area to the stairway off the main lobby of the building.  The stairwell was nice - carpeted and with nice hand-rails on both sides.  I told her I had not done a staircase yet.  We started with going down.  I was allowed to hold on to the rails on both sides, but she wanted me to go down with 1 foot per step - like normal, healthy people do.  Much to my surprise and delight, I was able to do it!  I went down about 24 stairs.  Then we turned around and came back up - again, with 1 foot per step.  That actually seemed easy to me, but I don't think I would have tried it without holding on.  It greatly eased my mind to know I could do a stairway like that.  Both my home and my school are virtually stairs-free, but the rest of the world isn't.

Kristen also measured me again.  I was able to get to 104 degrees on the bend, and I was still at 5 degrees on the flattening.  I'm happy with that.

Then we had a talk about my future visits.  According to my insurance company, I have 4 left for the calendar year.  She asked if I wanted to use them all or save some.  She suggested that a lot of people like to save a few just in case something else comes up.  I told her I wanted to do what was best for my progress.  She said that since I'm going back to school and will be getting all the exercise from that - and also starting back to water aerobics in Sept, that maybe I should save the remaining sessions.  She also then revealed to me that Aug 22 will be her last day in this office as she has taken a job at a different therapy office where she will be the manager.

I had already scheduled the last 4 for the next 4 weeks, but after our conversation, I decided to cancel 3 of the 4.  I will get my last session in with her before she leaves and then I will save the last 3.  She said I can transfer to the other office if I want to do more sessions later.

And so, I am being phased out of physical therapy.  I am not doing many exercises at home now.  This past week, I went to school 4 of the 5 days, and I felt that was therapy since I was walking a lot and moving things, etc...  I have still done my Zebra squeezes each night before bed.  I will probably exercise some this weekend, but I imagine I will be very tired next week with going back to school.

I am still stiff when I've been sitting for awhile, but I feel that when I am up and moving around, much of my swelling and stiffness is greatly reduced.  I feel that once I get moving, I don't limp much, if at all, and sometimes that limp comes from the other leg.  I still get occasional pains in Bessie, but they are very brief.

 My scar changes color.  Sometimes it is dark reddish-purple. Sometimes it is pink.  Sometimes it is very hard to see and sometimes it really stands out.  I was able to show it off to some colleagues this week.  I referred to it as my "red badge of courage".  I still put scar gel on after I shower.

Hubs asked if I ever forget I had surgery.  I do.  It usually isn't long before something reminds me though.  Occasionally when I'm lying in bed, I think, "Wow - nothing hurts!"  And I try to savor that feeling as long as I can!

I start back to water aerobics on Sept 3; however, Sept 11 is the next milestone for me - that will be 3 months.  I hope to be able to report significant changes by then.

I'll keep you posted on how Bessie gets along at school.  I have my story to tell in response to "what did you do this summer?"   "Oh, I read a lot of books and watched a lot of TV and movies, and I got out of doing yard work!"  How could a summer be more perfect than that?!

We'll talk again soon...


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Movie Review - The Lucky One

Yes, it's another Nicholas Sparks book.  Yes, it's another chick-flick.

I had read this book a least a year ago, so I wasn't as clear on the details as I was on the previous Sparks book/movie combo that I reported on.  I pulled my book off the shelf and did a quick review.

The book is set in North Carolina, as are most of Spark's books.  The movie was set in Louisiana.  I have read online that Louisiana offers huge tax incentives to film companies to do their movies there.  The article I read speculated that was why the change was made.

As with Safe Haven, my previous review, the book version of The Lucky One is much more complex and offers some plot elements that are not included in the movie.  The more I thought about it, the more similarities I found between these two movies:

  • They are both primarily love stories with happy endings.  
  • In both cases one of the people in the romance also has a child or children, and at some point in the story, that child is put in danger and is rescued by the other person in the romance.  
  • In both stories, one of the people has traveled a long distance to a new area where the love interest lives.  
  • Both stories are set in quaint small towns, and there is some sort of water and boat involvement.  
  • Most noticeably, however, is the fact that both stories involve the woman in the relationship coming from a previous relationship that was abusive. 
  •  In both cases the woman was strong enough to flee the abusive relationship and/or stand up to the bully-husband.  
  • In both cases, it is that abusive husband who causes the big crisis (the climax of the story) that the child has to be rescued from.  
  • In both cases, the abusive husband dies as a result of the crisis. 
  • In both cases, the couple and child/children live happily together after the crisis is over.
Sounds like 2 versions of the same story, doesn't it?!

I do enjoy reading Nicholas Sparks books.  I like his writing style.  However, I hope that the next one I read will have a new and unique plot.  

Thanks for reading!



Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Exercises Added

My loyal readers will remember my rant about my new shoes reducing my swelling.  I just wanted to report that I expressed that same revelation to my PT on Thurs.  She implied that yes, she had known by saying, "I'm Sorry," when I said I didn't know why no one told me.  However, that was all she said, and then we moved on to other topics.  But I knew and she knew I knew and I knew she knew I knew!!

Kristen also gave me 2 new exercises that were extremely difficult!  Ok - now you try them as I describe them:

1 - Stand on one foot.  It's ok, you can hold on to something if you need to.  Now, bend the knee you are standing on - as far as you can - and straighten back up again.  Easy?  Ha!  For you, maybe!  But it wasn't easy for Bessie.  Let me tell you, she did NOT like this one at all! Let's do that 20 times, please!

2 - Stand with both feet up on a step (we use a 6" box at therapy).  Put one foot forward down onto the floor - pick the leg that is your strongest to put down.  Notice your weaker leg/foot is still on the box.  Now back yourself up so both feet are back up on the box.  Uh huh - yeah!  Not quite easy-peasy is it?!  Try doing THAT when the weaker leg has a 7" zipper down the front!  Bessie was like, "WHAT? SERIOUSLY?"  Yeah, then do that 20 times!!!  ARE YOU KIDDING???  Luckily I was standing next to a counter, and I could use my arms to pull myself up.  This time it was 95% arm strength that got me through, but I know there will come a time when she'll make me do that one out in the middle of the room with nothing to hold on to!!!  AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Ok - enough whining about exercise.  Now I will crow about what I did.  Yesterday, Hubs and I got a bee in our collective bonnet to rearrange the living room.  Not really a hard task since we only have a sofa, a chair, a coffee table and a side table.  We have been frustrated by the lack of seating in there, and wondered if moving things around would make space for another chair.  Indeed it did.  So... today, we went shopping for a new chair.

We started at Pier One where we had seen a chair advertised that we liked.  We walked that store quite a bit.  Not ready to buy what we saw there, we decided to go to Value City Furniture.  Anyone living in the Columbus area will know how large that store it (at Sawmill).  I walked that whole store.  Then we went to Ashley Furniture.  We got half way around that one and I had to sit.  I told Hubs to come and get me if he saw anything he liked.  But just think of this...  Pier One, Value City and Ashley in one shopping trip - just 71/2 weeks after surgery.  I was very proud of Bessie!!!  Then she came home, took an Ibu and a nap!  She is sort of achy now, just 4 hours after the outing, but that's ok.  She'll be fine and ready to exercise again later this evening.  Oh, and by the way, we did not find the perfect chair yet, but we did see some possible candidates.

That's it for now.  I'll have another movie review for you later today, so stay tuned!