Sunday, August 16, 2015

the perseids: a campout

camping beds
The Perseids meteor shower is visible in the U.S. every August and every August we aim to go out and watch meteors. Some years we manage to schlep ourselves out to a dark sky while others we throw in the towel due to light pollution or a full moon.
waiting for the show
This year, there would be a new moon  which meant dark skies! After making sure there would be little or no cloud coverage, we took advantage of geography and headed out to Carrizo National Monument which is only two hours away. We even brought the nephew a-go-go along for the ride and found ourselves to be the only folks in the campsite.
early morning meteor watching
We drove into the campsite around 8pm and set up our sleeping area first. Since we were the only folks around we took the first site with a view of the open sky in the direction of where Perseus would rise (no tent, just sleeping rolls). The mister set up his telescope while the nephew wandered around in search of bullet casings and the like. I checked out the bathroom situation which was not good. Thank goodness for the pstyle!
first photo of the day
The sun was setting and we were sticking to red bulbed headlamps and flashlights to help our night vision. There were still active critters bounding and flying around. We heard coyotes howl and a great horned owl serenaded us all night long.
the nephew does not want to wake up
As we prepared for the evening we began to get a glimpse of the show. No fireballs but nice bright shooting stars with starry dusty tails. Better than fireworks!
Through the telescope we got to see Saturn and two of its moons, the Trifid Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula. It was also dark enough to clearly see the Milky Way. Truly beautiful. We went to sleep around 10pm and would wake up every other hour or so to watch the sky. We lost count of all the activity, it was very cool. We even saw them in the morning with the sunrise. Really cool!
We didn't pack much but I did bake some brownies and packed some milk and apples so we had a perfect camp out breakfast. The other junk food (popcorn, potato chips, and chocolate) didn't get consumed as we were too busy watching the sky.
they sound like rain
The campsite is pretty barren but they have planted cottonwood trees here and there and they are on an irrigation system (which woke us up around 4am, it was quite a startle). I think they will offer some really pretty shade when they get larger. On the plus side, when the wind travels through the leaves it sounds like rain.
playing early bird
We were up and on our way back through the park by 6:30 in the morning. We could hear meadowlarks and burrowing owls and quail. It was warming up but still cool enough to wander around.
on the road again
I may not be the best morning person but I love when I manage to be a morning person. Especially when I am outside and all around me is nature. Swoon!
pretty cirrus clouds
We took the nephew to Selby Ranch where we wandered and took in the old barn, rusty truck, and weeds. The sky was a tremendous shade of blue.
it was dry, dry, dry
Evidence of the drought was everywhere. Here, the ground would crack with each step. So many textures and layers to see.
made a new friend
The mister and the nephew were way ahead of me (hello pokey camera person) and managed to spook this gorgeous barn owl. The old barn at the ranch has been dilapidated and falling down for ages. Recently it was rebuilt in parts and the old windows were meshed in. The owl probably entered the barn from a hole near the roof. It took a few flights around the interior before it found the hole and flew out to meet the sky.
This old rusty truck has been here for ages. The nephew spent some time exploring it and the area around it. I, of course, took photos.
obligatory self portrait
While leaving the barn I finally felt awake. What a difference from that first pic of me to this, right? I was still groggy from the lack of sleep. Spent more time watching the sky than sleeping...oh and the bats! There were bats that kept swooping right across our faces. They worked better than bug spray! If you ever get the chance to sleep outside under the stars without a tent, go for it! I'm glad we did it. We need another camp pad though, my old hips are killing me but still, it was gorgeous! There are a few more pics to follow...check 'em out.
walking into the sunrise
oodles of birds
the path to soda lake
and four miles of dirt road to the camp site

Monday, August 10, 2015

All tapped out

(i know this is on instgram, shh!)
 Eegads! I have lost this blogging mojo! When I sit down to edit photos I remember all of the quirky, silly, pretty, and/or ridiculous things I could write about or even just post and then I don't so when I sit down to actively blog my brain draws a blank and I think I have nothing. I am all tapped out.

But I'm not. I have just lost the habit of blogging. I need to write more, not for internet approval but for myself. Writing a blog has many rewards, one of which is connectiveness. I write for connection, community, sharing memories and photos, and exercising my creative skills. Oh how I have missed those creative skills!

I'm not back. Not yet. I have too much clutter elsewhere to clear before I can clear the noggin and get back into writing but I will try to share some photos and words here and there even if it is just reposting my instagram. Yes, I'm on instagram. I'm late to change. Don't like it. I miss flickr but all the cool kids are on instagram (I'm sooo not cool and still on flickr) so I try. That said I do not use a smartphone. I use a small samsung pay-as-you-go dealio. I do not like phones. I'm so backward, I can't even figure out how to purchase a smartphone which makes me feel stupid which makes me dive under the covers and get all sad-racoony. I am so not a grown-up.

So for now I will try, to post at least once a week if not more. Hop on over to Instagram if you want to see photos. I will rarely repost photos here as it drives me bonkers to see the same photo and text on multiple, facebook, instagram. I use each of these platforms but for different reasons...I'm so not one of the cool kids.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

enjoying what i can, when i can

The sunflowers are slowly passing through but in the meantime they make me so very happy to gaze upon. The birdies are feasting like crazy and sometimes they are so involved in their sunflower salads they do not even notice me a flower's width away.
More so than the flowers or the birds, I think it is the bees that really make me happy. I can happily sit and watch bees all afternoon or morning. I've been known to do just that in the car even when I spy good bee activity out and about. Flowering rosemary seems to be a favorite and it is often used as landscaping for oodles of businesses.
I wasn't able to get a photo but there was a mockingbird nest in this rose that grows against our garden arbor. One side of the arbor is the rose, the other, scarlet runner beans. The gourds were grown a couple years ago and have dried out quite nicely. Mister drilled some holes hoping to attract birds but the birds seem to prefer the roses.
Even the sunflowers that have gone past make me happy. The petals look like worn paper and the birds still partake of their offerings and the bees still gather. I'm hoping to salvage one of the larger heads so that the kiddos at school can remove the seeds. The birds are not really into sharing but I'll sneak in later this week and make a grab for it!
 Mister built a hammock stand for our hammock (which is too short for us a-go-gos...the hammock, not the stand) and we were able to enjoy it for a day before a rare thunderstorm came through soaking the wood to smithereens. The wood was already green as big box lumber stores farm it before i has an opportune time to dry. The stand is now in the garage drying itself out. Hopefully we'll get another few days of lazing about it in. I took some time to watch the birdies...
Especially this guy or gal? Mama mockingbird bringing food to the chicks of which there were three. I never could really see them but they peeped up a storm. We gave them lots of space and still there was a day when s/he dive bombed my head a dozen or so times. They wait until your back is turned and then pull a Hitchcock on you. The birdies have fledged and we haven't seen or heard from them for a few days now. Wish I could have captured them with the camera.

Other than garden visits there has been coffee visits and pink room cleaning. I think the dust from the room has put a spell on me but I'll muddle through. Little bits and pieces are falling into place. I'm uncluttering here and there and the noggin is feeling a little freer as well. Eleanor is super packed with boxes for the thrift and I'm taking pictures as I go. Tomorrow I will take a break from the tiny work (I do what I can, when I can) to get my hair trimmed, hit up the library, enjoy a cuppa with a friend, and shuffle all those boxes off to the thrift. I'm already a smidge tired thinking of it all but a good kind of tired...the kind that makes me smile.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

this is what it feels like

To say I did not sleep well last night would be an understatement. I went to bed knowing it would not be a night of pleasant dreams and comfort but the reality was I had no idea how unpleasant it was going to be. Do you have allergies? Do you suffer from allergies? I'm not talking the hay fever that tickles your throat so that you are a sneezy mess with watery eyes and the like. While it is uncomfortable and annoying at best it is nothing compared to chronic allergies that hit you deep into your lungs. I'm talking knock down, drag out, kick your ass allergies that are triggered by so many things you might as well put yourself in a bubble suit and call it a life.

They say to avoid triggers. Avoid triggers, that's a hoot. It appears just about anything triggers my mess. I'm not even sure what it was this time. We've had high humidity (for us) which often triggers asthma symptoms in myself. There was rain. Rain can really screw up an asthmatic's life as well (not to mention that I walked in said rain at a beach surrounded by eucalyptus and eucalyptus is not my friend). I've been working in the pink room as well, kicking up the dust bunnies like it's the last disco on earth and well...dust is one of my (many) triggers. And to wrap it up, I ate something that had bell peppers in it. Up until now, bell peppers merely itched up the throat and caused a mild wheeze with a little tummy distress but who knows? Maybe in my middle age, bell peppers have turned all Snidely Whiplash on me.

Whatever the cause, it began with a bit more wheeze than usual. Wheezing happens when your bronchial tubes (or bronchioles) spasm making the airway passage narrow. Our air passages are already pretty narrow but an asthmatic's  are a crinkly mess. Even when we are not wheezing away, it is possible our bronchioles are so damaged that they are permanently narrowed. In an attack, as they spasm, they often decide to quirk it up by throwing mucous into the midst. So while a normal person is breathing through a clean straw, an asthmatic is breathing through a straw whittled from wood with sap till stuck in it.

When you breathe in and out, air flows into your trachea and down to your bronchioles and into your lungs (and alveoli). Oxygen is taken in and carried to your blood and which exchanges it with carbon dioxide. During an attack, your bronchioles spasm and produce mucous thus blocking your airways. You end up gasping to bring air in deeply but it feels like it only reaches the front of your lungs. The tube becomes so inflamed that the alveolus cannot release air or carbon dioxide to or from the bloodstream. To me it feels like I am being held underwater which is rather scary. Often, panic will flare up and my heart will start to race and there is a tightness all around my chest as if I am being embraced by the mightiest bear of all. Very little air goes in, even less is expelled.

Then, to mix things up a bit, my allergies like to include other parts of my body. They are equal opportunity attackers. For some lovely reason, not only do I get to not breathe through my mouth, but I get to forfeit breathing through my nose as well. Go me. Some time ago, my body decided to build polyps in my nasal passages. When said polyps decide not to play well with others they become incensed, nay, inflamed! They puff themselves up in anger and block my right to breathe through my nose.

So yeah, breathing is rather not fun for me when my allergies are being bullies.

Which, brings me back to last night. I had been struggling with abnormal breathing and a slightly inflamed set of polyps for a few days, sucking on my inhaler way more than I should be and being all mouth breather because my nose wasn't working. During the day it is annoying at best but during the night a different beast comes out. Fuseli's beast, actually. I have to sleep sitting up otherwise I feel like the nightmare is sitting on my chest. I cannot breathe through my nose as the beast is holding it closed so I am left gaping my mouth like a fish gasping for air. It also feels like someone has wedged a bean up my nose and to make matters worse their is drainage. My ears are also clogged to oblivion, muting all sounds save the ones my body is making, so the symphony of wheeze is not a lullaby but a raucous mess that is worse than nails on a chalkboard. There is snoring and gasping and gasping and snoring. My mouth is as parched at our drought driven lakes and there is no rest for the weary.

I toss and turn and turn and toss. I sit up. I cry. I stand up. I drink water. I suck on my inhaler. I try to get comfortable. I wake up and think is it almost morning but it has only been an hour since I went to bed. This goes on throughout the night. The tossing, the turning, the sobbing, the gasping. I finally find rest around 7am and sleep for two hours. When I wake up my mouth is so parched, it takes three glasses of water (and a mug of hot tea) to feel somewhat hydrated (and now, at almost 3pm I am still feeling parched). The curl in my hair has left me for sticksville and the bags under my eyes are a pretty shade of plum. I feel like I slept under water without an oxygen tank and I look it.

Allergies are not just allergies, are not just allergies, are not just allergies. They are an autoimmune response that can wreak havoc on our bodies and our day to day lives. I can tell you right now that I hurt. My body is in pain and I feel curled into myself just to breathe. I am so very grateful to have found a medicine that will give me temporary relief but am struggling to figure out how to do this without meds. Hydration is key and knowing those damn triggers can sometimes be helpful but one of my key allergies has me worried as from what I can tell it grows on everything even fresh greens from my garden. So all I can do is take baby steps, observe, be aware, and make sure there are meds in place for when the nightmare decides to visit.

some days...

some days you just need a dose of happy. sometimes that dose of happy might come from folding your tights and placing them in rainbow order inside a shoebox. just saying.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

sunflower garden

Have I told you already how the sunflowers have gone bonkers in the garden a-go-go 2.0? Seriously bonkers. The bees, all the bees, are loving them. Bumble, honey, and native bees are constantly buzz, buzz, buzzing about. It is awesome. Also, the linnets and goldfinches have been enjoying sunflower salad since before the flowers showed their faces. They sit, chirp, and peck, peck, peck at the green leaves. They appear so happy. And then there is this guy...the dreaded cucumber beetle, chomp, chomp, chomping away at whatever it can get it's little mouth on. Better the sunflowers than the lettuce I say. All in all there are three very tall stalks with a ridiculous number of blooms. The very first stalk to bloom has already gone past while the second two continue to show new blooms daily. The stalks are crazy thick, and the leaves...oh the leaves are enormous! Here are some more pics...